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Title: A Year at the Shore
Author: Gosse, Philip Henry
Language: English
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A YEAR AT THE SHORE.



  A
  YEAR AT THE SHORE

  BY
  PHILIP HENRY GOSSE, F.R.S.

  WITH THIRTY-SIX ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR,
  PRINTED IN COLOURS BY LEIGHTON BROTHERS

  ALEXANDER STRAHAN, PUBLISHER
  148, STRAND, LONDON
  1865



EDINBURGH: T. CONSTABLE,

PRINTER TO THE QUEEN, AND TO THE UNIVERSITY.



CONTENTS.


                                                                    PAGE

  I.--JANUARY.

  Advance of Waves upon a Beach--Foam--Shingle
  Voices--Climbing the Cliff--Look-out--Assault
  of the Sea--Defeat--Gulls--Descent--Cavernous
  Recess--Rock-pool--Purple-spotted Top--Its
  Progression--Tentacles--Eyes--Shell--A twisted
  Cone--Colours--Nacre--Dog-whelks--Notch in Shell--Its
  Testimony to Character--How the Whelk conquers the
  Bivalve--Its Weapon--Pelican’s Foot--Its Changes of
  Figure--Cowry--Description--Ciliated Proboscis--Vivid
  Colours--Growth of the Shell--Scallop--Superstition--Sea
  Butterflies--Leaping--Mantle--Eyes--Valves--Details of the
  Scallop Trade--Tenacity of Life--Sea Cucumber--Mode of Securing
  it--Its tentacular Coronet--Suckers--Dotted Siponcle--Its
  Proboscis--Hermit Siponcle,                                       1-29

  II.--FEBRUARY.

  View from Babbicombe Cliffs--Dog’s Head Rock--Jackdaws--
  Oddicombe--Petit Tor--Bell-Rock--Tragedy--Teignmouth
  Ness--Exmouth--Portland--Fragrant Butterburr--Babbicombe and its
  Beach--Descent--Stone-turning--Serpula--Triope--Its Beauty--Sea
  Lemon--Crowned Eolis--Its Ferocity--Spawn--Development of
  Young--Fecundity--Dog-winkle--Purple Dye of Tyre--Legend of
  Hercules--Egg-capsules--Development--Limpet--Excavates the
  Rock--Faculty of Adhesion--Cement--Gills--Slit Limpet--Key-hole
  Limpet--Holes in Sandstone--Finger Pholas--Its Boring
  Habits--Mode of Operation--Various Hypotheses--Proved
  Facts--Red-noses--Coast changed by Mollusks,                     30-60

  III.--MARCH.

  Invention of the Aquarium--The Principle--Advantages for
  Zoological Study--Necessity for out-door Examination--Visit
  to Anstey’s Cove--Boat Excursion--Sea-Cavern--Colonies
  of Anemones--Beadlet--Submarine Forest--Green
  Opelet--Its Powers--Spontaneous Division--Hope’s
  Nose--London-bridge Rock--Gloomy Rock-lane--Life on the Sea
  Rocks--Oyster-culture--Dead-man’s Finger--Anemones--Rosy
  A.--Scarlet fringed A.--Snowy A.--Orange-disked A.--Plumose
  A.--Their offensive Weapons--Dahlia Wartlet--Deluded
  Bee--Lucernaria--Ultimate Purpose of Creation,                   61-84

  IV.--APRIL.

  Barren Sand--Torquay to Paignton--Goodrington Sands--Rocky
  Area--Paignton Cockle--A _bonne Bouche_--Common
  Cockle--Importance to the Hebrides--Foot of Cockle--Its
  Leaping and Burrowing Powers--Structure--Banded
  Venus--Its Beauty--Foot--Prawn--Armour Defensive and
  Offensive--Colours--Tail-plates--Movements--Keer-drag--The
  Shrimper--Shrimp--Flat-fish--Aberrations of Structure--Yarrell’s
  Remarks--Topknot--Effects of Fear on Colour--Beauty of its
  Eyes--Sand-Launce--Curious Catenation--A Tenant in the Tank,    85-113

  V.--MAY.

  Lesser Weever--Its Aspect--Its Spines--Are they Venomous?--
  Cuvier’s Negative--Couch’s Affirmative--Remedy--Habits--Young
  Thornback--Motions--Spiracles--Eyes--Form--Colours--Spines--
  Fifteen-spined Stickleback--Mode of Feeding--Nest-building--Mr.
  Couch’s Observations--Changes of Form--Worm-casts--
  Swimming-crab--Mask-crab--Use of the Antennæ--Rocky Barrier--
  Paper-worm--Gliding Motion--Tenacity of Life--Mouth strangely
  placed and strangely formed--Long-worm--A Portrait by Mr.
  Kingsley,                                                      114-138


  VI.--JUNE.

  Maidencombe--Sea Hare--Its Shell--Purple Excretion--Ruminating
  Stomach--Its bad Reputation--Tusk-shell--Torbay
  Bonnet--Cup Limpet--Locust Screw--Parental
  Care--Fresh-water Screw--Great Sea Woodlouse--Maternal
  Care--Leaf-worms--Rainbow Leaf-worm--Reproduced
  Organs--Pearly Nereis--Blood Circulation--Proboscis--Scale
  Worm--Dorsal Shields--Feet--Bristles--Their
  Use--Number--Proboscis--Teeth--Tube-dwellings--
  Phosphorescence--Locomotive Power in Worms,                    139-167


  VII.--JULY.

  Dredging Ground--Two-spotted Sucker--Its Appearance--Beauty
  of its Eyes--Habits in Captivity--Adhesive Power--Vacuum--
  _Echinodermata_--Starlet--Its Dimensions--Figure--
  Eye-specks--Other Organs--Sea-Urchin--Mechanism of its
  Box--Its Growth--Sucker-feet--Spines--Feather-star--
  Structure--Colours--Infant State--Dissimilar Forms
  connected--Bridge from Feather-star to Urchin--Flat-crab--
  Contest between Dirt and Cleanliness--Peculiar Mode of
  procuring Food--Foot-jaws--Squat-lobsters--Three Kinds
  described--Habits--Form of Young,                              168-194


  VIII.--AUGUST.

  Rock-pools--Work of Boring Mollusca--Process of
  Formation--Cork-wing--Natural History Illustration--Fish
  poisoned by an Anthea--Lucky Proach--Respiration of
  Fishes--Pipe-fishes--Persecutions of a Gammarus--A Male
  Wet-nurse--Butterfly Blenny--Shanny--Taking the Air--Freckled
  Goby--The Shore a profitable Field of Study,                   195-220


  IX.--SEPTEMBER.

  Ball’s Dredge--Old Oyster Dredge--Dredging--Sun-star--
  Cannibalism--Granulate Brittlestar--His Sad Fate--Angled
  Crab--Researches in Cods’ Stomachs--Nut-crabs--A Slow Coach--
  Bryer’s Nut-crab--Contents of a Dredge--Hermit-crabs--
  Cloaklet--Strange Association--Mystery of its Maintenance--
  Solution--Psychical Faculties,                                 221-247


  X.--OCTOBER.

  Life in Tropical Seas--Portuguese Man-of-War--Its Structure--
  Bladder--Tentacles--Poisoning Powers--Effects--Dr. Wallich’s
  Objections--Gulf-stream--_Velellæ_--_Stephanomia_--Tongued
  Sarsia--Its Swimming-bell--Locomotive Powers--Tentacles--
  Forbes’s Æquorea--Luminosity--Crimson-ringed Aurelia--Its
  Transformations--_Cydippe_--Poetical Description of it,        248-273


  XI.--NOVEMBER.

  Clarence’s Dream of the Sea Bottom--Diving-bell--Lobster-horn--
  _Campanularia_--Medusa-like Progeny--_Scalpellum_--Acorn
  Barnacles--Necked Barnacle--_Pyrgoma_--Cirriped
  Transformations--Tube-worms--_Serpula_--Its Shell--Hooks
  and Bristles--Gills--Stopper--Its Homology and Use--
  _Sabella_--Shell-tube--Gills--Soft-tube--Hook-plumed
  Sabella--Process of Tube-building,                             274-297


  XII.--DECEMBER.

  Squirters--Affinity with Bivalves--Test--Gill-sac--Branchial
  Cilia--Heart--Blood Circulation--Digestion--Tentacles--Eyes--
  _Cynthia_--Currant Squirter--Four-angled Squirter--Discharge of
  Eggs--Transformations--Compound Forms--_Botrylli_--Oceanic
  Forms--_Pyrosoma_--Its Luminosity--Sponges--Their Habitats--
  Various Species described with the Forms of their Spicula--
  Motives for Study--A Protest against prevalent Errors,         298-327



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


    PLATE

       I. DOG-WHELK--PELICAN’S FOOT--TOP--COWRY,        _Frontispiece_.

      II. SCALLOPS,                                     TO FACE PAGE 22

     III. DOTTED SIPONCLE--SEA-CUCUMBER,                             28

      IV. SEA LEMON--CROWNED EOLIS--SPAWN OF BOTH,                   40

       V. LIMPET--PURPLE--SLIT-LIMPET,                               50

      VI. RED-NOSE--FINGER-PHOLAS,                                   54

     VII. SNOWY ANEMONE--DEAD-MAN’S FINGER--ROSY
           ANEMONE--LUCERNARIA--SMOOTH BEADLET,                      66

    VIII. DAHLIA WARTLET,                                            72

      IX. GREEN OPELET--ORANGE-DISK ANEMONE,                         78

       X. SINOUS COCKLE--BANDED VENUS,                               92

      XI. COMMON SHRIMP--GREAT PRAWN,                               102

     XII. SAND-LAUNCE--TOPKNOT,                                     108

    XIII. FIFTEEN-SPINED STICKLEBACK--LESSER WEEVER,                116

     XIV. MASKED CRAB,                                              128

      XV. BANDED FLAT-WORM--LONG-WORM,                              134

     XVI. SEA HARE,                                                 140

    XVII. LIGIA--TORBAY BONNET--TUSK-SHELL,                         148

   XVIII. PEARLY NEREIS--RAINBOW LEAF-WORM,                         158

     XIX. TWO-SPOTTED SUCKER,                                       168

      XX. PURPLE-TIPPED URCHIN--ROSY FEATHER STAR--STARLET,         172

     XXI. OLIVE SQUAT-LOBSTER--SHAGGY FLAT-CRAB--SCARLET
              SQUAT-LOBSTER,                                        188

    XXII. CORKWING WRASSE,                                          200

   XXIII. FATHER-LASHER--WORM PIPE-FISH,                            204

    XXIV. FRECKLED GOBY--BUTTERFLY BLENNY,                          212

     XXV. GRANULATE BRITTLE-STAR--SUN-STAR,                         224

    XXVI. NUT-CRAB--ANGLED-CRAB,                                    230

   XXVII. PURPLE HERMIT-CRAB--CLOAKLET--COMMON HERMIT-CRAB,         238

  XXVIII. PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR--TONGUED SARSIA,                    248

    XXIX. FORBESIAN ÆQUOREA,                                        264

     XXX. CYDIPPE--COMMON MEDUSA--LARVAL FORMS,                     268

    XXXI. PYRGOMA ON A CORAL--SCALPELLUM--LOBSTER-HORN--
              NECKED BARNACLE--COMMON BARNACLE--PORCATE BARNACLE,   278

   XXXII. SCARLET SERPULA,                                          286

  XXXIII. SABELLÆ,                                                  294

   XXXIV. ORANGE-SPOTTED SQUIRTER--FOUR-ANGLED SQUIRTER--CURRANT
              SQUIRTER,                                             300

    XXXV. BOTRYLLI,                                                 310

   XXXVI. SPONGES--CHITON,                                          318



A YEAR AT THE SHORE.



I.

JANUARY.


How grandly those heavy waves are rolling in upon this long
shingle-beach! Onward they come, with an even deliberate march that
tells of power, out of that lowering sky that broods over the southern
horizon; onward they come, onward! onward!--each following its
precursor in serried ranks, ever coming nearer and nearer, ever looming
larger and larger, like the resistless legions of a great invading
army, sternly proud in its conscious strength; and ever and anon, as
one and another dark billow breaks in a crest of foam, we may fancy we
see the standards and ensigns of the threatening host waving here and
there above the mass.

Still they drive in; and each in turn curls over its green head, and
rushes up the sloping beach in a long-drawn sheet of the purest,
whitest foam. The drifted snow itself is not more purely, spotlessly
white than is that sheet of foaming water. How it seethes and
sparkles! how it boils and bubbles! how it rings and hisses! The wind
sings shrilly out of the driving clouds, now sinking to a moan, now
rising to a roar; but we cannot hear it, for its tones are drowned in
the ceaseless rushing of the mighty waves upon the beach and the rattle
of the recoiling pebbles. Along the curvature of the shore the shrill
hoarse voice runs, becoming softer and mellower as it recedes; while
the echo of the bounding cliffs confines and repeats it, and mingles
it with the succeeding ones, till all are blended on the ear in one
deafening roar.

A LOOK-OUT.

But let us climb these slippery rocks, and picking our way cautiously
over yonder craggy ledges, leaping the chasms that yawn between
and reveal the hissing waters below, let us strive to attain the
vantage-ground of that ridge that we see some fifty feet above the
beach. It is perilous work, this scrambling over rocks, alternately
slimy with treacherous sea-weed, and bristling with sharp needle-points
of honey-combed limestone; now climbing a precipice, with the hands
clutching these same rough points, and the toes finding a precarious
hold in their interstices; now descending to a ledge awfully overhung;
now creeping along a narrow shelf, by working each foot on, a few
inches at a time; while the fingers nervously cling to the stony
precipice, and the mind strives to forget the rugged depths below, and
what would happen if--(ah! that “if!” let us cast it to the winds):
another long stride across a gulf, a bound upward, and here we are.

Yes, here we stand, on the bluff, looking out to seaward in the
very eye of the wind. We might have supposed it a tolerably smooth
slope of stone when we looked at the point from the sea, or from the
various parts of the shore whence we can see this promontory. But
very different is it on a close acquaintance. It is a wilderness of
craggy points and huge castellated masses of compact limestone marble,
piled one on another in the wildest and most magnificent confusion.
We have secured a comfortable berth, where, wedged in between two of
these masses, we can without danger lean on one breast-high, and gaze
over it down upon the very theatre of the elemental war. Is not this
a sight worth the toil and trouble and peril of the ascent? The rock
below is fringed with great insular peaks and blocks, bristling up
amidst the sea, of various sizes and of the most fantastic and singular
forms, which the sea at high-water would mostly cover; though now the
far-receding tide exposes their horrid points, and the brown leprous
coating of barnacles with which their lower sides are covered is
broadly seen between the swelling seas.

Heavily rolls in the long deep swell of the ocean from the
south-west; and as it approaches with its huge undulations driven
up into foaming crests before the howling gale, each mighty wave
breasts up against these rocks, as when an army of veteran legions
assaults an impregnable fortress. Impregnable indeed! for having
spent its fury in a rising wall of mingled water and foam, it shoots
up perpendicularly to an immense elevation, as if it would scale the
heights it could not overthrow, only to lie the next moment a broken
ruin of water, murmuring and shrieking in the moats below. The insular
peaks and blocks receive the incoming surge in an overwhelming flood,
which, immediately, as the spent wave recedes, pours off through the
interstices in a hundred beautiful jets and cascades; while in the
narrow straits and passages the rushing sea boils and whirls about in
curling sheets of snowy whiteness, curdling the surface; or, where it
breaks away, of the most delicate pea-green hue, the tint produced
by the bubbles seen through the water as they crowd to the air from
the depths where they were formed,--the evidence of the unseen combat
fiercely raging between earth and sea far below.

SEA-GULLS.

The shrieking gusts, as the gale rises yet higher and more furious,
whip off the crests of the breaking billows, and bear the spray like a
shower of salt sleet to the height where we stand; while the foam, as
it forms and accumulates around the base of the headland, is seized
by the same power in broad masses, and carried against the sides
of the projecting rocks; flying hither and thither like fleeces of
wool, and adhering like so much mortar to the face of the precipice,
till it covers great spaces, to the height of many fathoms above the
highest range of the tide. The gulls flit wailing through the storm,
now breasting the wind, and beating the air with their long wings as
they make slow headway; then, yielding the vain essay, they turn and
are whirled away, till, recovering themselves, they come up again
with a sweep, only again to be discomfited. Their white forms, now
seen against the leaden-grey sky, now lost amidst the snowy foam,
then coming into strong relief against the black rocks; their piping
screams, now sounding close against the ear, then blending with the
sounds of the elements, combine to add a wildness to the scene which
was already sufficiently savage.

But the spring-tide is nearly at its lowest; a rocky path leads down
from our eminence to a recess in the precipice, whence in these
conditions access may be obtained to a sea-cavern, that we may possibly
find entertainment in exploring.

We reluctantly turn our backs upon the magnificent battle of sea and
land, and following this sheep-track, scramble down, holding fast by
the tufts of thrift, round and soft and yielding, but sufficiently
firm to present some resistance, or by the tussocks of wiry grass,
till we leap down on the great piled masses of marble that past ages
have thrown from the cliffs upon the beach. Among these we find many
basins and pools of still water, for we are in a deep recess of the
promontory, whose shelter renders us almost unconscious of the fury of
the winter wind without; and the masses of rock that lie piled about
so curb and break the force of the incoming sea, that it percolates
rather than rushes into these secluded nooks. Tall walls of stone,
too, shut out much of the light of day; and as to the sun, only his
most slant evening rays ever reach this spot: it is enshrouded in an
obscurity which is most congenial to both the plants and the animals
which resort to our shores; and here, doubtless, though the season is
still midwinter, we shall find our searchings rewarded by not a few of
those creatures, beautiful and wondrous, in which the devout naturalist
delights to trace the handiwork of the God of glory.

TOP-SHELL.

At the very first glance into this little rock-hollow, all fringed with
crimson and purple weed, lined with scales of lilac coralline, and
partly shadowed by the olive fronds of the leathery tangle, we discern
many forms of animal life. Here, for instance, is a fine handsome
shelled mollusk, the Purple-spotted Top.[1] Before we take him up, let
us notice for a moment with what an easy even movement he glides along
over the leaves of the sea-weed, now over the stony projections of the
pool, now on the broad weeds again. On lifting the shell, we find that
the fine, fleshy, apricot-coloured animal clings with considerable
force to the weed; and on transferring it to a glass bottle, we get a
better sight of the organ by which it maintains both its stability and
its movements. The under-surface of the creature, then, forms a long,
nearly parallel-sided sole, abruptly pointed behind, where it stretches
to a considerable distance in the rear of the shell, and bounded in
front by a slightly-thickened transverse rim, a little arched, and
projecting on each side. This organ is the foot, and it is composed of
muscular fibres elaborately interwoven, much as in the human tongue,
whereby great versatility and power of motion are communicated to it;
indeed, when in motion, it strongly reminds one of the human tongue.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 1.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  DOG-WHELK.      PELICAN’S FOOT.      TOP.      COWRY.
]

The sensitive and muscular foot of our captive has already taken hold
of the glass side of its prison, and it is now smoothly mounting up
it. With a lens you may see that though it is one undivided area, yet
in the arrangement of its muscles, it is separated into two portions
by a line which runs down the middle; and that these two sides move
alternately. The muscles of the right half, for example, are moved a
little onward, and take a fresh hold of the ground, while those of
the left remain clinging; then the right half clings, while the left
relaxes and advances a little beyond the right, and again clings, when
the right makes its forward move. So that the effect is exactly that
of two feet advancing by alternate steps; and if your own two feet
were enclosed in one elastic stocking, your own progress would appear
very much like that of the _Trochus_. Indeed, some shell-fishes not
distantly allied to this, as the pretty little Pheasant-shell,[2] which
I occasionally find among these rocks, really have the foot divided
into two distinct and separate halves, in which this alternate motion
is, of course, more obvious.

Looked at from above, we discern that this foot thickens towards the
middle, where it is overlapped by a broad wing-like expansion on each
side. This, for manifest reasons, is known by the name of the cloak or
mantle. In all cases it performs important offices in the economy of
the animal, as I shall presently describe; and in this instance we see
it is adorned along its edges with certain lappets and long fleshy
taper threads (called _cirri_), which wave vivaciously to and fro as
the creature crawls. These are probably the seats of a delicate sense;
perhaps receiving impressions analogous to those of touch, from the
strokes they continually make on the surrounding fluid.

In front we see a distinct head, with a broad flat muzzle not
altogether unlike that of an ox. On each side of the back part of
this head, there is another long taper thread: these are called
tentacles, but neither in form nor in structure can we discern any
difference between these and the _cirri_ that fringe the mantle. In all
probability they are alike organs of a highly delicate sense of touch.

THE TOP’S EYES.

Immediately behind each of these head-tentacles you see a little wart,
which has a black bead set as it were in its substance. You have
often, doubtless, observed the similar black points that are placed
at the tips of the upper pair of the horns (tentacles) of the common
garden snail; and I daresay, when a child, you have amused yourself by
touching them, and noticing how instantaneously the sensitive creature
would roll them in, so to speak, concealing them far in the interior of
the inturned horns. And every child is taught that these black spots
are the snail’s _eyes_; and so, indeed, they are; and these spots on
our Top’s warts are its eyes too, notwithstanding that some learned
naturalists, apparently from the mere love of paradox, have affected
to doubt the fact that such is their function. If you could dissect
out one of these points, and submit it to careful examination with a
good microscope, you would find all the parts essential to an organ of
vision; there is a sclerotic coat, a distinct little pupil and iris,
a cornea in front, and a dark pigment layer within, with vitreous and
aqueous humours, and even a crystalline lens for the condensation of
the rays of light. Minute these parts are, to be sure, but not less
exquisitely finished for that. Indeed, the more skill they require in
the demonstrator, the more they reflect the inimitable skill of the
Creator. Swammerdam, the Dutch physiologist, who so beautifully showed
the structure of the snail’s eye, seems to have feared the doubts of
his conclusions that would ensue from the difficulty of repeating his
investigations. “But who will credit this?” he says; “for does it not
seem impossible that on a point not larger than the nib of the pen
with which I write, such exquisite art and so many miracles should be
displayed?”

SPIRAL SHELLS.

Now, leaving the animal, though we might devote a few moments to the
admiration of its rich colours, adorned as is its deep yellow hue with
lines and clouds of deeper brown, let us look at the shell, the solid
house of stone, which our friend Trochus has himself built up to cover
his head in the hour of danger. How well has he combined the _utile cum
dulci_!--the comfortable with the ornamental! Its general form is that
of a cone of much regularity, but with an oblique base, and perhaps
you may be surprised to learn that this conical form is but the result
of the winding of a very long cone upon itself in a spire. But if you
examine a dead shell with care, you will see that it is so. Supposing
you had a very long and slender hollow cone of plastic material, and,
beginning with the acute point, you twined the whole upon itself,
descending in a spiral form, you would have the representation of a
turbinate shell, which, by a little gentle pressure of the fingers,
might be moulded, without at all losing its essential character, into
the exact shape of our Trochus, in which the progress of the spire
can without difficulty be followed as well by slight inequalities of
surface as by the arrangement of the colours.

It is one of our showy shells. This specimen before us has for its
ground colour a chaste, cool grey, occasionally varied with tints of
reddish buff, but most conspicuously adorned with a series of large and
regular spots of purplish crimson running along the lower angle of the
spire from the base to the summit. Each of these spots passes off into
an oblique line above, the repetition of which augments the beauty of
the pattern.

The interior of the shell has a glory of quite another character. It
is covered with a coat of nacre or pearl, of exceedingly brilliant
and rich lustre, and the presence of this inward pearliness is quite
characteristic of this genus, and of most of the others belonging to
the same family, the _Turbinidæ_. Many of the fine large tropical
species are specially conspicuous for this adornment, as I have seen
in those that lie along the dazzling beach of coral-sand in lovely
Jamaica. The pearl of these shells is used in the arts. De Montfort
mentions a necklace which he had seen, that was made out of the nacred
part of the shell of the _Turbo smaragdus_, and which was _much more
brilliant and beautiful_ than any of the finest orient pearls.[3]
And Chenu observes:--“Les grandes espèces fournissent une fort belle
nacre, employée pour les ouvrages de marqueterie. Quelques espèces
ont reçu des noms sous lesquels les marchands les distinguent: il y
a le Burgau ou Nacré; la Veuve Perlée, dont les tubercles extérieurs
usés ressemblent à des perles; la Bouche-d’Or, dont la nacre est d’un
beau jaune doré; la Bouche-d’Argent; le Perroquet, ou Turbo Impérial,”
etc.[4]

At another time we may examine the structure of shell, and inquire by
what instruments and with what materials the ingenious animal contrives
to construct so strong and so elegant a dwelling. For the present,
however, as the month is January, we shall, if we sit still longer, run
the risk of “catching a cold,” if we catch nothing else, though the
wind _is_ in the south, and the temperature is so mild for the season.

THE DOG-WHELK.

Therefore, we will move about and pursue our researches among the rocks
and under the loose stones. Well, we are rewarded with other specimens:
here are several neat little shells, with a lengthened spire, and
with a remarkably thickened lip. This is the little Thick-lipped
Dog-whelk,[5] a very common mollusk with us under such stones as these
at low water-mark. And here is another species of the same genus,
the Netted Dog-whelk,[6] which is a much larger shell, being nearly
twice as long as the former, and marked with close transverse furrows,
which, crossing the longitudinal ribs at right angles, give a peculiar
reticulate surface, on which the specific name is founded.

Comparing these shells with the _Trochus_, we see that they have a deep
notch cut in the front part, of which no sign appears in the latter;
and this mark, trivial as it may seem, is an important indication
of the habits of the animal. The inhabitants of all shells which
have this notch are carnivorous, while those with simple lips are
herbivorous. The _Trochus_ gnaws or rather rasps away the tender growth
of marine vegetation, or the fronds of the grown _Algæ_, with its
remarkable palate-ribbon, all studded with reversed points, of which
I may find another opportunity to speak. The Dog-whelk, on the other
hand, acts the part of a cannibal ogre, feeding on his simpler brethren
of the bivalve shells; storming their stony castles, in which they seem
so secure, by open violence.

Look at this old valve of a _Mactra_. Like hundreds more that you may
pick up at high water-mark, it is perforated by a tiny hole near the
hinge, so smooth and so perfectly circular, that you would suppose a
clever artisan had been at work drilling the massive stony shell with
his steel wimble. No such thing: the Dog-whelk has done it: this is the
breach which he so scientifically effected in the fortress; and hence
he sucked out the soft and juicy and savoury flesh of his miserable
victim.

In order to understand his plan of operations, let us put down our
captive, and see him crawl. He is not long before he begins to march,
on his broad oblong foot, which, as you observe, is cream-coloured,
elegantly splashed and speckled with dark-brown. But before he moves he
thrusts out a long cylindrical proboscis from the front of his head,
which he carries high aloft and waves to and fro; and this organ, we
see, fits into the deep notch in front of the shell. This proboscis is
his drilling-wimble.

THE DOG-WHELK’S DRILL.

This organ is itself a study. Long as it is when extended, it can
be thoroughly drawn within the body; and there it forms two fleshy
cylinders, one within the other, exactly like a stocking half turned
on itself. There are proper muscles attached to its walls, and to
the interior of the head, by extremities which are branched in a
fan-shape, so as greatly to strengthen their insertions; and these,
by contraction, draw the one portion within the other. Then there is
a broad hoop of muscle, which, passing round the inner cylinder, by
contracting pushes it out, and lengthens it. Within the interior of
this latter there is a long narrow ribbon of cartilage, which is armed
with rows of sharp flinty points, turned backwards; and this tongue or
palate, as it is variously called, is the Dog-whelk’s weapon.

We cannot induce the Whelk to attack his prey just when we please; but
he has been detected in the operation, and I will describe it. With his
broad muscular foot he secures a good hold of the bivalve, and having
selected his point of attack, in general near the hinge--a selection
which probably looks more at the superiority of the meat within than
at any peculiar facility in the perforation--he brings the tip of his
extended proboscis to the point, so that the silicious teeth can act
on the shell. Hard as is the calcareous shell, it is not proof against
the flint; for, without any solvent excretion, the aid of which some
physiologists have been ready to suppose, these glassy points, grating
round and round as on a pivot, soon wear away the substance, and
gradually bore the tiny aperture which exposes the sapid morsel.

Continuing our researches, we find, deep in a rocky pool under a tuft
of weed, a shell of a peculiar form, because of the enormous expansion
of its outer lip. It is known as the Pelican’s-foot,[7] from the
resemblance which this lip with its diverging ribs bears to the webbed
toes of a water-fowl. This, too, is a carnivorous species; and though
it is somewhat rare to detect the animal moving, even though kept
alive in captivity, yet by carefully examining this one in its deep
pool, before we disturb its equanimity, we can just see the proboscis
protruding from the wide square notch in the shell, and discern that it
is rather prettily coloured, being marked with spots of opaque white on
a rose-coloured ground.

This species is interesting from the changes of figure which it
undergoes in its progress from youth to maturity. While young the shell
is simple, with no trace of the expanded lip; and it is only at mature
age, and rather suddenly, that the shell makes its remarkable growth
into these far-projecting points and angles, the augmented thickness of
which is, moreover, at least equally conspicuous with the expanse.

THE COWRY.

But far more remarkable changes take place in the growth of the shell
in a family of signal beauty, of which I discern a specimen in yonder
cavernous hollow. The family I speak of is that of the Cowries; and
this individual represents the only species that is indigenous to our
seas--the little Furrowed Cowry.[8] Let us pause awhile to admire it,
for it is one of the very loveliest of our marine animals.

The shell itself is doubtless familiar to most of my readers, for it
is to be picked up on every sandy beach. It varies in size from that
of a split pea to that of a large horsebean. It is elegantly marked
all over with transverse ridges. These ridges are porcellaneous white,
and the alternate furrows between are purplish, or flesh-coloured. The
larger specimens commonly display three spots of dark brown, arranged
lengthwise. But probably few are aware how very elegant a creature
it is when tenanted by its living inhabitant, and crawling at ease
in clear water. The foot, on which it glides with a slow but smooth
motion over the surface of the rock on which it habitually dwells,
or, if you please, on the bottom of the saucer of sea-water in which
you are examining it, is a broad expansion spreading out to twice the
superficies of the base of the shell. Above this is the fleshy mantle,
which is so turned up as closely to invest the shell, conforming to
its shape, and even fitting into the grooves between the ridges. This
mantle can be protruded, at the will of the animal, so far that the two
sides meet along the top of the shell, and completely cover it, or it
can be completely retracted within the wrinkled lips beneath; and it
is capable of all gradations of extension between these limits. From
the front of the shell protrudes the head, armed with two straight
and lengthened tentacles, answering in function and appearance to the
upper pair of horns in a snail; except that the little black points
which constitute the visual organs are not in this case placed at the
tips, but on a little prominence on the outside of the base of each
tentacle. Above and between these, which diverge at a considerable
angle, projects the proboscis, a rather thick fleshy tube, formed by
a flat lamina, with its edges bent round so as to meet along the
under side. The interior of this proboscis is lined with delicate
cilia, by whose constant vibrations a current of water is drawn into
the tube and poured over the surface of the gills, for the purpose
of respiration. This current may be readily perceived by any one who
will take the trouble to watch, with a pocket-lens, a Cowry crawling
along the side of a phial filled with sea-water. By placing the vessel
between your eye and the light, and fixing your attention on the front
of the proboscis, you will presently perceive the minute particles of
floating matter (always held in suspension, even in clear water) drawn
in various directions towards the tube, with a motion which increases
in velocity as they approach, and at length rapidly sucked in, and
disappearing one after another within. It is an interesting sight to
see, and one that cannot be looked on without delight and admiration
at this beautiful contrivance of Divine Wisdom, for the incessant
breathing of the respiratory organs in water charged with vivifying
oxygen.

Let us look at the vivid hues of all these organs. The foot, which
expands to so great a length and breadth behind the shell, is of a buff
or pale orange ground-colour, delicately striated with longitudinal
undulating veins of yellowish white. The mantle which embraces the
shell is of a pellucid olive, thickly mottled and spotted with black,
and studded with glands protruded through its substance, of light
yellow; and is often edged with a narrow border of red. The proboscis
is vermilion-red, varying in brilliancy in different individuals. The
tentacles are of a paler tint of the same colour, speckled with yellow.

Such, then, is the beauty of the animal which inhabits this familiar
and plain little shell,--a beauty of which those who know it only in
cabinets can hardly form an idea; while, as the observer gazes on it
placidly gliding along, he cannot avoid an emotion of surprise that
such an amplitude of organs can be folded within the narrow compass of
the shell, and protruded through so contracted an aperture.

THE SCALLOP.

You would scarcely recognise in this shell, or in the Tiger Cowry, that
one so often sees on chimney-pieces, the model of an ordinary convolute
spiral shell, such as the snail or the whelk. But in infancy and youth
the Cowry is a shell manifestly of such a character, scarcely to be
distinguished from the Olives and Volutes; a shell with a distinct
spire, a long wide aperture, and a thin-edged outer lip. But when
the animal has arrived at mature age, a sudden deposition of shelly
matter takes place on the lip, which is greatly thickened, and which
expands above so as to conceal the spire, bending inward at the same
time and approaching the inner lip, so as to reduce the aperture
to a very narrow line. Finally, a thick coat of enamel, or glossy
porcellaneous lime, is spread over the entire surface of the shell,
from the narrow aperture to the back-line, which coat takes the form of
those transverse folds which are so characteristic of the species and
so elegant.

Here, clinging to the perpendicular wall of rock, sheltered snugly
by an overshadowing stone, which I have just removed, is a lovely
specimen of the Squin or Scallop.[9] In the ages of monkery, when
men’s eyes were more directed to the land where the blessed Lord Jesus
once sojourned than to the place where He now is, and pilgrimage to an
earthly country was more valued than that to a heavenly, this shell
affixed to the hat was the accepted sign that the wearer had visited
Jerusalem; and received the homage of sanctity that such a pilgrim
claimed.

  “He quits his cell, the pilgrim staff he bore,
  And fixed the scallop in his hat before.”[10]

[Illustration:

  PLATE 2.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SCALLOPS.
]

Some mystic connexion, some secret sympathy, was assumed to exist
between the scallop and St. James, the brother of the Lord, first
bishop of Jerusalem. What it was appears to be irrecoverably lost in
the darkness of those very dark ages, and is doubtless not worth the
hunting up. We may leave such puerilities, to consider the impress of
His divine hand which the All-wise God has made on the shell of the
mollusk that inhabits it.

These bivalves have been called the “butterflies of the sea,” as well
on account of the vivid and varied colours with which their broad
wing-like valves are painted, as of their agile fluttering and flying
movements. We frequently see them, especially for some time after
having been taken and put into an unfamiliar scene, as our aquariums,
shoot hither and thither through the water, with irregular zigzag
flights, accompanied with fitful openings and closings of the valves.
These leaps and flights seem to have no determinate object, except “the
letting off the steam” of their exuberant animal vivacity; but the
creatures have the power of directing their leap by a forcible ejection
of water from any given part of the compressed lips of the mantle.[11]

THE SCALLOP’S EYES.

It is a very pretty sight to see a healthy Pecten in a vessel of
clear sea-water. The elegant valves are opened to a considerable
width, perhaps to half an inch or more, and the entire aperture all
round is filled by a curtain, which drops from one to the other,
perpendicularly, a little way within the margin. This is the
mantle, and it is generally painted with rich colours, in irregular
patterns, often of spots and marbled clouds of black on a rich green
ground, or pearly-green clouds on flesh-colour--sometimes pale-yellow
clouds on velvet-black; but these hues have no perceptible relation
with those of the shell. Looking closely, you see that the mantle is
not single, but composed of two curtains, whose edges meet in the
middle. And now these are slightly separating, and giving us a peep
into the interior; but the most notable thing we see is the array of
long white taper tentacles which proceed from each edge, and wave to
and fro in the clear water; while another row of similar organs, but
larger, is affixed to each curtain along the line where it starts from
the shell. And along this same line, scattered between the bases of
the larger tentacles, there is a row (and a corresponding one on the
other curtain) of beads, which seem to be turned out of the richest
and most lustrous gems. Even the unassisted eye is arrested by the
flashing brilliance, but with a powerful lens they look like rubies
set in sockets of sapphire, from which the light blazes forth with
incomparable brilliance. These are the Pecten’s eyes, each of which
possesses all the parts requisite for perfect vision.

The valves vary much in colour. Some are pure white; some white with
a crimson line along the summit of each radiating ridge; some rosy,
crimson, or lilac; some cream, straw-yellow, deep yellow; some dull
brick-red, dark purplish-red, or sienna-brown; some are marbled with
black on a red ground, making a very rich pattern.

The largest specimens, and those with greatest variety in hue, are
found in deep water, and for the most part congregated in large
numbers on some particular spot of the sea-bottom, which is called a
scallop-bed. Such are found in Weymouth Bay, and in Torbay; and there
the shell-fish can be obtained in sufficient quantity for the market.
At Weymouth there is a considerable business done in these delicacies,
which is, however, almost all in the hands of one dealer, from whom I
have collected some details of interest.

The ordinary trawlers avoid the scallop-beds, if possible, because
they are liable to have their nets torn by them; the sharp valves
doubtless catching and cutting the meshes. But they often bring up many
unintentionally, and a naturalist would find a trawler’s refuse a most
productive field: for numbers of rare and valuable zoophytes and other
forms of life come up attached to the shells, which might easily be
saved, but are not: the men “have no time, for they are so anxious to
get their craft into a berth, and then to take out the fish as soon as
the trawl is up.”

Twenty bushels of scallops are sometimes taken at once; but this is
rare. The average produce of the Weymouth trawlers is five bushels
per week, which are readily sold at twopence per hundred; about seven
hundred going to the bushel. The customers are “mostly the genteels,”
who eat the _morceaux_ stewed with flour or scolloped. The worthy woman
who commands the supply had had the trade in her hands for twenty-eight
years (in 1853); she had never heard them called by any other name
than “Squins,” though she understood they were called Scallops in some
places. “Squin” is by some said to be a corruption of “Quin,” after the
actor and epicure of that name, who is reported to have been fond of
the delicate mollusk; but I much doubt the derivation.[12]

As a proof of the tenacity of life possessed by this species, a
fisherman assured me that he once put a quantity in a bag into a
cupboard and forgot them, till, after the lapse of a week, turning them
out he found them alive.

THE SEA-CUCUMBER.

But now another object of interest claims attention: for, in this
cavern, closely squeezed in between the layers of stone, I see the
satiny-white skin of a glorious Sea-cucumber. And now to get him out,
there’s the rub. So firmly imbedded is he, so deeply ensconced, that
no pushing with fingers or sticks will avail; indeed, I can but just
touch his body with my finger-ends poked in to the utmost. No; we must
cut away the rock above and below with the strong steel chisel, by
means of well-directed strokes of a heavy hammer. Slow work it is, for
the rock is awfully hard: the prize, however, cannot escape, and the
chief point of solicitude is not to crush it in the process. At length
a fortunate blow splits off a slice of rock, which leaves the unhappy
skulker defenceless. Now I get my fingers gradually behind him, and
force him out, gently and tenderly; sucker after sucker he is compelled
to let go, and now here he is in my hand, shrunken indeed, and squeezed
flat from his very shrinking in the close crevice, but all unbroken and
none the worse.

This is a much more sluggish creature than any of the mollusks that
we have been capturing: no sooner are they put into water than they
are active, and at once display their attractions; this animal, on the
contrary, will be perhaps several days in your tank before he will feel
himself sufficiently at home to unfold his splendid array of tentacles.
But then it is indeed a magnificent coronet of plumes wherewith the
headless king is adorned.

The Sea-cucumber soon finds himself a snug berth among the rock-work
of the tank; pressing his body between the pieces just as when we saw
him first, but taking care to leave space to protrude his front. Then
this part evolves, and a deep collar of dark purple is seen, from which
a ring of ten somewhat thick stems arises, tapering to a point and
arching outwards. These are of a purplish-black hue, and are studded
with short branches set on in a spiral, which again branch and branch
again, each terminal point bearing a white papilla; so that the whole
constitutes a series of conical aggregations of white dots clustering
about the black stems, something like pointed cauliflowers, and
forming, as they wave to and fro in the clear water, a very charming
spectacle.[13]

[Illustration:

  PLATE 3.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  DOTTED SIPONCLE.         SEA-CUCUMBER.
]

The suckers, which, when the animal first came into our possession,
were apparent only as little warts, arranged in five clustered rows
down the angles of the body, are now seen to be long tubes, each
with an adhering disk at its extremity, by which it anchors to the
surrounding stones. The mechanism of these suckers does not importantly
differ from that of the same organs in the Star-fishes. Indeed,
notwithstanding the very wide diversity of form and appearance between
the two animals, the Cucumber and the Star are so nearly allied as to
belong to the same class, that named ECHINODERMATA; the Sea-urchins,
creatures totally diverse in aspect from both, connecting the forms
together.

And this Cucumber, again, is connected with the proper worms
(ANNELLIDA) by some obscure animals which bear the name of Siponcles.
Here is one which may illustrate the form, the Dotted Siponcle.[14]
It has a cylindrical body, rounded and abruptly pointed behind, which
is of a light-brown hue, with a satiny gloss; but the hue resolves
itself under a powerful lens into a freckling of pale dots, excessively
numerous, on a brown ground, and the lustre into a multitude of
close-set annular wrinkles. What is curious in the creature is the
protrusion and retraction of its trunk. From the front end of the
body we see rapidly protruding, by evolution of the parts, a rather
slender trunk, till it attains about one-third the length of the body;
then its tip expands, and is seen to be surrounded by eight rows of
black points, and within these a circle of slender, white, thread-like
tentacles. These latter are the representatives of the gorgeous
head-plumes of the Cucumber. Immediately the long trunk is turned out
to the outmost, it begins to be rolled in again; and this process goes
on with equal rapidity till it is quite concealed. Then again it is
unrolled, and so on alternately. Doubtless the function of respiration
is performed by this action; and perhaps also food is collected and
swallowed.

THE HERMIT SIPONCLE.

One species of this creature, the Hermit Siponcle,[15] common enough
with us, is in the habit of appropriating old deserted shells of
univalve mollusca, as the periwinkle, or the pelican’s-foot, for its
own residence. In this case it builds up a wall of sand-atoms, cemented
by a glue of its own secreting, across the shell-aperture, leaving only
a small central orifice, through which it may protrude its curious
trunk.

Thus we discern the infinite and inexhaustible resources of the Divine
Wisdom in contrivances which have for their object the preservation,
sustentation, and comfort of worms so obscure and humble as these.
Discerning, let us adore!

FOOTNOTES:

[1] _Trochus ziziphinus_, which the reader will see figured in the
upper right corner of Plate I.

[2] _Phasianella pullus._

[3] _Conch. Syst._ ii. 252.

[4] _Leç. Elém._ 188.

[5] _Nassa incrassata._

[6] _Nassa reticulata._ A figure of this species is seen in the lower
left corner of Plate I.

[7] _Aporrhais pes-pelicani_, which the reader will see figured in the
centre of Plate I.

[8] _Cypræa Europæa_, which is delineated in the lower right corner of
Plate I.

[9] _Pecten opercularis_, of which see a group in Plate II.

[10] Parnell’s “Hermit.”

[11] For a description of the mode in which this action is performed,
see _Devonshire Coast_, p. 50, _et seq._

[12] Quin died in 1766. Montagu, in 1803, says of this Pecten, that
“it is known by the name of Frills or Queens,” with no allusion to the
actor. The term “frill” obviously refers to the form of the shell.

[13] The principal figure in Plate III. represents this species
(_Pentacta pentactes_) in the expanded condition described in the text.

[14] _Sipunculus punctatissimus_, figured in Plate III., to the left.

[15] _Sipunculus Bernhardus._



II.

FEBRUARY.


What will Babbicombe Bay yield us this fine February morning? One
thing at least it yields, a magnificent coast view; and this is
scarcely affected by the season. Let there be only a moderately clear
atmosphere, a sky chequered with blue spaces and white wind-borne
clouds, and snatches of sunshine interchanging with shadows,--which
last there will be, of course, with such a sky,--and such a prospect
cannot fail to please.

And, indeed, this noble sweep of precipitous coast can hardly be
surpassed for beauty all round the sea-girt shores of Britain. The
forms of the cliffs are imposing: their broad masses of vivid colour
alternating,--the white compact limestone, the bright red sandstone,
becoming almost scarlet as the sun shines out full, yet prevented from
being tawdry by its harmonies with the various hues of green that crown
it, by its own breadth of light and shadow, by its dimming tints as
it softens and mellows into the purple of the distance; the panorama
of blue hills rising and fading far inland, the Tors and heights of
Dartmoor and Exmoor; and the ever-changing sea, now laughing in its
brightness, now frowning and chafing in its wrath, filling so vast
an area as it does from this vantage height;--these are the broader
features of a scene which I will pause a moment to depict in detail,
before I descend to the beach.

VIEW FROM BABBICOMBE CLIFF.

I take my stand on the margin of the cliff that overlooks Oddicombe, my
feet upon the short soft turf, marked with fairy rings, the Dog’s Head
just on my left,--a remarkable projection of grey lichened limestone
from the very cliff-edge, which, seen from the opposite side, bears
a curious resemblance to the head of a lop-eared, cross-grained cur;
but from my point of view far more forcibly presents the appearance
of the face of a night-capped old man, grinning with pain;--and a
fine vertical, and in some places overhanging, precipice just on my
right, in whose horizontal strata scores of noisy jackdaws find resting
ledges. I see them as they sit in conscious security only a few yards
below the margin, their sleek grey polls wagging, and their black eyes
now and then upturned, as others of the cawing tribe fly in, and seek
sitting-room. Some of the strata are strangely distorted at the western
end; and here a narrow and somewhat perilous track leads down below
the cliff to a grassy plateau at its foot. I scramble down, and sit on
a stony shelf, overhung with sheets of ivy, and mark the bright green
tufts of Sea-spleenwort springing out of the clefts, unfortunately too
high to be reached.

The eye roams northward. At foot a rough broken ground slopes steeply
down, shaggy with thickets of brake and bramble, and of furze which
glows even now with golden blossom, varied with great tracts of broken
fragments of limestone, blackened by the weather. At length this merges
into a broad beach of shingle, snowy white, on which I see ladies
reclining, with books and parasols, as if ’twere July instead of
February. The sea bounds the beach with a line of still whiter surf,
ever renewing itself as it breaks, with a sweet whispering sound.
At the back is a series of most picturesque cliffs of the reddest
sandstone, on the top of which I find in June the beautiful blossoms of
the Purple Gromwell, one of the rarest of British flowers. The ground
at the summit is very uneven; and so my eye rests on the broad opposite
slopes of Woodleigh Vale, chequered with fields and hedgerows, among
which the ploughmen are busy, and the teams are toiling up the steep
furrows.

The formation suddenly changes again, and the limestone is seen in the
fine rounded projection of Petit Tor, whose front of white marble has
been laid bare by the quarriers. Beyond this is the ruddy sandstone
once more rising into lofty headlands of noble shapes. At the foot
of one of these an isolated rock, called, from its figure, the Bell,
stands in the sea, where, even while I am writing this paper, a
mournful tragedy has occurred. Two Babbicombe fishermen went out at
midnight to examine their crab-pots at this rock, and did not return.
The morning revealed the keel of the boat bottom-up, moored by the
pot-lines, and one poor fellow entangled by his feet in the same lines,
while the sea washed his hair about the surface. The other has not yet
been found.

Farther on, the bluff Ness marks the harbour of Teignmouth, and as
the sunlight falls on the white villas that stud the opposite side,
the scene looks attractive. Then the cliff-line rapidly diminishes in
height as it recedes, and the heads of Dawlish project, and we see no
more till at Exmouth the land trends to the eastward, and from its
white terraces faintly seen in the slanting sun now, but to stand out
full and clear in the afternoon, we follow the bold, varying, beauteous
coast, beauteous in its outline, but dim in its detail, for some
twenty miles farther, till the straining eye finally fails to discern
it somewhere between Lyme and Bridport; though Portland itself is
sometimes to be seen, and I have myself made it well out, stretching
far forth upon the wide eastern horizon of blue sea. Now, however,
along that shining line nothing is discernible but a white speck or
two, and yon ocean steamer that passes down the Channel, with a long
line of black smoke on the low sky behind her.

I forsake my sheltered seat, and climb to the down, making my way
towards the left, in order to see the prospect to the right. Here is
a track winding down the broken slope, leading through roods of the
round leaves of the fragrant Butterburr. A month ago the whole air was
loaded with the delicious perfume of its lilac blossom. I make my way,
slippery and tenacious enough just now, along by the hedge of a field,
till I come to the edge of an abrupt perpendicular cliff. How beautiful
from hence is the sweet hamlet of Babbicombe the Nether! The rugged
masses of Black Wall project from the foot of the slope into the sea,
dividing Oddicombe from Babbicombe beach. Beyond it is the latter, a
sweeping curve of pebbles and then of larger boulders, backed by an
amphitheatre of picturesque fishing huts, and elegant villas, half hid
in bowery plantations and woods, with peeps of lawns and gardens, all
occupying the steep sides of the bay, up to the summit of the downs.

Beyond the beach, fine dark rock masses again project; and farther
still, the prospect is abruptly shut in by a magnificent vertical cliff
of great height, the northern boundary of that lovely spot of renown,
Anstey’s Cove.

These features, which I feebly essay to paint with many successive
words, and multitudes of others which I must fain leave untouched, the
eye drinks in at once, grasping the whole grand and beautiful picture
at a glance, steeped as it is in loveliness. Those who have seen it
may possibly find an aid to memory in recalling it in these details of
mine, for I write with the scene before me; those who have not will
probably find little of interest in them.

BABBICOMBE BEACH.

It is at the farther end of yonder beach that we must commence our
marine explorings to-day; there, where the pebbles at the lowest
water-line merge into larger dark stones, and a little on this side of
the bounding rocks. We might get down by this path to Oddicombe beach,
scramble over Black Wall, and so make our way along Babbicombe beach to
the spot; but the state of the tenacious soil at this season makes such
a descent unpleasant. There is a better road to the eastward, which
winds among the villas, and descends direct to the spot we seek. Let
us therefore pursue our walk over the downs, along the margin of the
cliff, enjoying fresh aspects of the coast view as we proceed, till we
reach the road.

We are among the olive-coated stones at the verge of the far-receded
tide, among which the springs from the cliffs having broken out from
various points in the shingle beach, are making for themselves tortuous
channels on their way to the deserting sea. Their water, originally
fresh of course, has, by the time it arrives here, become so brackish
by washing the salt stones and sea-weeds, that the sand-hoppers and
worms which inhabit the hollows under the stones are bathed in it
with impunity, though, in general, immersion in fresh water is fatal
to marine animals. Great tufts of bladder wrack and other _Fuci_
spring from the lower stones, and now lie flaccid about, awaiting the
returning tide to erect them and wave their leathery leaves to and
fro. Broad fronds of _Ulva_, too, like tissue paper of the tenderest
green, irregularly crumpled and waved, and nibbled and gnawed into
thousands of holes, lie crisp and tempting; and tufts of a darker,
duller green, and others of purple-brown, and others again of rosy
crimson, stud these rough stones, and vary their ruggedness with
elegance and beauty; a beauty, however, far more appreciable, and far
more worthy of admiration, if we could look upon it when the flowing
tide creeps up, with its calm water clear as crystal, and covers the
many-hued parterre, softening and displaying the graceful outlines
and the brilliant colours. Then, too, those tiny creatures would be
seen agilely swimming from weed to weed, or lithely twining among the
fronds, which now we have to search for in their recluse hiding-places
under these rocks.

Selecting a stone which experience teaches us is a likely one---and
only experience can teach this, though in general I may say that the
heaviest and flattest beneath, those which appear to have been long
undisturbed, and especially those which, instead of being imbedded in
the soil, rest on other stones in such a partial way that there is room
for free ingress and egress to minute creatures beneath, and which have
a broad surface to which they may cling in congenial darkness, are the
most promising---selecting, I say, such a stone, we place both hands
beneath one side, and heave with all our might to turn it bodily over.
We must be careful, for many of these stones are so beset with the
small shells of _Serpula triquetra_, that they cannot be handled with
impunity. This is a worm which makes a tubular pipe for its defence,
of hard shell, adhering to the rock throughout its length; the tube
enlarges a little as it grows, and its most recent extremity, which is
brilliantly white and clean, is defended by the projecting extremity of
a ridge which runs along the back of the shell, the point of this ridge
forming a very sharp needle-like prickle, which, as we apply our hands
beneath the stone to lift, terribly cuts the fingers. On some stones
we find hundreds of these treacherous shells, set as thickly as they
can stand, and covering large patches; on others they are scattered,
and some are quite free from them. In an aquarium the little worms
protrude their breathing fans very constantly, and are pretty, though
not conspicuous objects, being varied with bright blue, grey, and
white. Pretty as they are, however, the collector wishes them further
a hundred times during his collecting, for, in such an expedition
as this, he is fortunate indeed if he come home without half of his
fingers gashed with deep incisions, smarting from the sea-water, and
all the slower to heal from the skin of the finger-tips being worn to
thinness in handling the stones.

But these are trifles; the fortune of war; amply compensated by the joy
of victory, when we succeed in capturing some rare or lovely creature,
to be displayed in triumph within the glass walls of a prison. Such
an one is this beauty, which is lurking in an angle of the block we
have just overturned. It needs a sharp eye to detect it; for we see no
beauty yet, nothing but a little lump of whitish jelly, dappled with
orange-yellow, not bigger than the half of a split pea, clinging close
to the stone. It requires some care to get it up without crushing; the
end of a toothpick, or a penknife, or a bit of stick cut to a point,
must be inserted under it; thus we lift it, and drop it into the ready
phial of clear water. It opens instantly, sprawling even before it
reaches the bottom, where it at once begins to crawl, and we detect in
our prize the lovely little Triope.[16]

THE TRIOPE.

As it swiftly glides up the glass, we see that it has an oblong body
of a pellucid white hue, curiously beset with finger-like appendages.
There is a row of some half-dozen or so fringing the front of the head;
and down a line on each side of the body, margining the mantle, there
is a row of larger ones, and all these are tipped with the richest
orange colour. Just behind the frontal points there are two club-shaped
organs, which start up out of holes, the sides of which form sheaths
for them, into which they can be withdrawn at the will of the animal.
These organs carry a number of narrow plates set parallel to each
other, diagonally pointing backwards and downwards. Doubtless, this
structure is intended to augment the sensitive powers of these curious
organs, which are understood to be the tentacles.

Then, in the middle line of the back, but placed a little nearer the
tail than the head, there is an orifice, which is the vent; remarkable
because the breathing organs are arranged partly around it. There
are three tiny leaves cut like the fronds of a fern, which stand up
over the orifice, and are endowed with the power of absorbing for the
purposes of respiration the oxygen of the air commingled in the water.

But here is an animal which possesses all these peculiarities of
structure, displayed on a much larger scale. It is a fine specimen
of the Sea Lemon,[17] which we oftener find clinging to the sides
of perpendicular rocks, or beneath projecting ledges, than on the
undersides of stones. This fellow is two and a half inches long, and
an inch and a quarter or more broad; but I have met with individuals
much larger than he. Its back is rounded, and its outline generally
reminds one of the half of a lemon cut longitudinally. The resemblance
is heightened, too, by the round warts with which the whole surface is
studded, and by the colour, a yellow more or less pure, often, however,
clouded, as in this instance, with purple, by which its beauty is much
enhanced.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 4.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SEA LEMON.       CROWNED EOLIS.       SPAWN OF BOTH.
]

The mantle, in this Doris, reaches down to the foot on all sides,
and covers the head, and is not furnished with any appendages.
The tentacles, which are plated, as in the Triope, pierce through
the mantle, and are sheathed; the gill plumes are large and ample
feather-like organs, eight in number, forming a complete circle
round the orifice, in the manner of a beautiful expanded flower.

As the Doris crawls along, it now and then lifts and puckers the edge
of the mantle, and displays its under surface and that of the foot,
which are of a rich orange-scarlet hue.

THE CROWNED EOLIS.

But we have turned a stone beneath which lurk several specimens of a
much lovelier creature yet. I see by the gleams of crimson and azure
which shine out from it, that it must be the Crowned Eolis.[18] It
looked a little heap of fibrous semi-pellucid flesh when out of water,
and, like the Triope, must be immersed to display its beauties. Now in
the phial of water, how elegant it is! Its body is long and slender,
tapering away to an almost imperceptible point behind, of a clear
translucent white. The head forms two long smooth taper tentacles,
which wave hither and thither as the creature gracefully glides along;
and besides these it has two other tentacles, distinguished as the
dorsal pair, resembling, in their position and in their structure,
those of the Doris and Triope, but not sheathed.

The chief glory of this exquisite animal, however, is in its breathing
organs. These consist of clusters of finger-shaped papillæ, set
transversely across the back, in about six rows, with the middle line
of the back free. Each of these papillæ is pellucid, with a central
core of the richest crimson, while a very brilliant flush of steel
blue is reflected from the surface, and the tip is opaque white. The
combination of these hues has a most charming effect.

You would scarcely suppose such lovely creatures were fierce and
carnivorous; but they are the most determined enemies of the Sea
Anemones. This beautiful Eolis I have often seen assaulting an Anemone,
ferociously tearing away its tentacles, or gnawing great holes in its
side, and, when touched, stiffening and erecting all its brilliant
papillæ, as the porcupine does its quills.

All these creatures are Mollusca very closely allied to the Cowry and
the Trochus which we lately examined, but destitute of a shell. The
exposure of the breathing organs is a distinguishing character (these
being more commonly, in the order, concealed in a cavity), whence they
are called _Nudibranchiata_, or Naked-gilled Mollusks.

At this season, wherever we find the animals themselves, we may with
confidence expect to find their spawn. This is deposited in masses,
which possess characteristic forms. Thus this roll, which looks as if
you had made a thin ribbon of paste, half an inch wide, and rolled it
into a loose scroll of two or three turns, and then affixed it by its
edge to the under side of a stone, is the spawn-mass of the Sea Lemon.
And here is a much more elegant scroll, of which the constituent is a
slender thread, twisted into a frilled or figure-8 form, as it goes
on to make the spire.[19] This has been laid by the beautiful Crowned
Eolis. If you examine either of these masses with a lens, you will see
that it is composed of a vast multitude of white eggs, suspended in a
clear jelly, in which they are arranged in transverse rows, giving the
opaque appearance to what would else be colourless and transparent.

EGGS OF NUDIBRANCHS.

The eggs, watched day by day under a good microscopic power, as they
advance towards maturity, present a most interesting object of study.
The yolk, which at first nearly fills the egg-shell, soon becomes a
little elongated, with one end diagonally truncated, or, as it were,
cut off obliquely; the truncated end then becomes two-lobed, “each
lobe exhibiting an imperfect spiral, and having its margin ciliated.
The now animated being is seen to rotate within its prison. Shortly
the lobes enlarge, and a fleshy process, the rudimentary foot, is
observed to develop itself a little behind them, on the medial line; a
shell closely investing the inferior portion of the embryo, the lobes
and rudimentary foot being uppermost. The shell rapidly increases, and
assumes a nautiloid form; afterwards the foot displays, attached to its
posterior surface, a circular operculum, which is opposed to the mouth
of the shell. The lobes now expand into two large, flattened, ovate
appendages, with very long vibratile cilia around the margins; and the
larvæ are at length mature. The whole mass of spawn now presents the
utmost animation. Hundreds of these busy atoms are seen, each within
its transparent, membranous cell, rotating with great agility and
ceaseless perseverance, the cilia all the while vigorously vibrating
on the margins of the outstretched lobes. The membranous chorion
[or transparent egg-shell], which by this time has become enlarged,
ultimately gives way, no longer able to resist the perpetual struggle
within; and the liberated larva, wending its way through the shattered
shreds of the general envelope, boldly trusts itself to the open
trackless water, where, doubtless, thousands and tens of thousands
perish ere they find a fitting resting-place, some being swept away
by resistless currents, others falling a prey to ever-watchful and
innumerable enemies.

“When the larva is at rest, the oral lobes are pulled back into
the shell, and the foot being drawn down, brings along with it the
operculum, which closes the orifice. But when in action, the whole of
these parts project beyond the opening of the shell, the foot lying
back against the spire; and the oral lobes inclining forward, their
cilia commence to vibrate, and the larva, with the mouth of the shell
upwards, moves through the water with lively action, sinking or rising,
or advancing onwards at its pleasure.”[20]

SPAWN OF EOLIS.

The fecundity of these mollusca is immense. An _Eolis papillosa_ of
moderate size in one of my aquaria, deposited successively nine strings
of spawn between March 20th and May 24th. The strings were exactly
alike in length and arrangement; each comprised about 105 convolutions,
and each convolution 200 eggs, while each egg contained on an average
two embryos. Thus the astonishing number of 378,000 embryos proceeded
from this one animal in about two months.

Step by step we have crept along the beach, turning stones as we went,
till we are come to the great masses of sandstone rock. Here are the
Purples[21] by hundreds, with their strong massive shells, some of them
pure white, which, however, becomes dingy with age, some banded with
brown, and some, especially the young and half-grown ones, painted
with a dull but soft purplish hue. The older specimens have the inner
surface of the lip tinged with a rich rosy purple. This tint on the
shell we may receive as the advertisement of the colorific property
that resides within, a sort of sign-board to tell us that this is the
“genuine” purple-shell. And there is little doubt that it is one of
those enumerated by Pliny, as used by the ancients for obtaining the
renowned dye of Tyre: though the principal, and that which yielded the
richest hue, was probably the _Murex trunculus_, a common Mediterranean
shell, which does not extend to our shores.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 5.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  LIMPET.       PURPLE.       SLIT-LIMPET.
]

My readers are, I dare say, familiar with the pretty myth which
professes to embody the discovery of the purple dye. The Tyrian
Hercules was one day walking with his sweetheart along the shore,
followed by her lap-dog, when the playful animal seized a shell that
had just been washed up on the beach. Its lips were presently dyed with
a gorgeous purple tint, which was traceable to a juice that was pressed
out of the shell-fish. The lady was charmed with the colour, and longed
to have a dress of it; and, as wishes under such circumstances are
laws, the enamoured hero set himself to gratify her, and soon succeeded
in extracting and applying the dye, which afterwards became so famous.
I have elsewhere[22] recorded my own experiments on the stain yielded
by the _Purpura_ before us, with the remarkable changes through which
it passes before the sunlight fully brings out the colour. The use
of cochineal makes us independent of molluscan dyes, and the matter
is merely one of antiquarian interest, or a question of zoological
chemistry.

EGGS OF DOG-WINKLE.

Perhaps you may be more interested in the development of the
Dog-winkle. Under the ledges of rocks we find in abundance groups of
little yellow bodies, resembling ninepins in shape, set on their ends
in close contact with each other, and varying in numbers from three or
four to a hundred or upwards in a group. Some of them are tinged with
purple at the tips; and while sometimes you find them closed, and full
of a yellow creamy substance, at others they are open at the top, and
empty.

These are the egg-capsules of this mollusk, and some very unusual
circumstances connected with the birth of the progeny, and their
development within these cases, have been discovered by Dr.
Carpenter.[23] Each capsule contains 500 or 600 globules that cannot
be distinguished from each other at first; but only twelve to thirty
of these are developed into young animals, though their united bulk
ultimately equals that of the whole mass. The greater number of these
globules are not real eggs, but only “yolk-spherules,” destined to
afford nutriment to the true embryos, which greedily swallow them,
after certain changes have taken place, and increase rapidly in bulk.
It is curious, however, that they do not advance in development during
this absorption of nutriment, but are, so to speak, arrested until a
great augmentation of size is thus attained; then they quickly acquire
the form of little free-swimming nautiloids, closely like those of the
Doris and Eolis, a form which indeed is common to the early stages
of all the known higher mollusca, however various may be their adult
conditions.

LIMPET.

Here are the familiar Limpets, too: let us look at _them_ awhile.[24]
They are not generally very attractive in appearance, the shell
being coarse and rubbed, especially in the larger specimens; and in
an aquarium they do not live long, and are so inert as to afford no
amusement even while they survive. Yet we occasionally find examples
prettily coloured; and there are facts in their economy which make them
worthy of a few moments’ notice.

If you look carefully over the rocks, especially when these are of a
somewhat soft nature, as the slates and shales, you will find oval
depressions, sometimes but just discernible, at other times sunk to the
depth of an eighth of an inch, corresponding in outline to the shell of
a Limpet; and in many instances you will actually see a Limpet imbedded
in such a pit, which it accurately fills. Strange as it may seem, it
has been ascertained that these cavities are formed by the animals,
which make them their ordinary resting-places, wandering away from them
nightly to feed, and returning to them to rest early in the morning.

The force with which a Limpet adheres to the rock is very great,
especially when it has had warning of assault, and has had time to put
out its muscular strength. Réaumur found that a weight of twenty-eight
or thirty pounds was required to overcome this adhesive force. His
experiments seem to prove, however, that its power is mainly owing, not
to muscular energy, nor to the production of a vacuum in the manner of
a sucker. If an adhering Limpet were cut quite through perpendicularly,
shell and animal, the two parts maintained their hold with unabated
force, although of course a vacuum, if there had been one, would have
been destroyed by the incision. The power is said to reside in a very
strong glue, a very viscid secretion, deposited at the will of the
animal. “If, having detached a _Patella_,” says Dr. Johnston, “the
finger be applied to the foot of the animal, or to the spot on which it
rested, the finger will be held there by a very sensible resistance,
although no glue is perceptible. And it is remarkable that if the spot
be now moistened with a little water, or if the base of the animal be
cut, and the water contained in it allowed to flow over the spot, no
further adhesion will occur on the application of the finger: the glue
has been dissolved. It is nature’s solvent, by which the animal loosens
its own connexion with the rock. When the storm rages, or when an enemy
is abroad, it glues itself firmly to its rest; but when the danger has
passed, to free itself from this forced constraint, a little water is
pressed from the foot, the cement is weakened, and it is at liberty
to raise itself and be at large. The fluid of cementation, as well as
the watery solvent, is secreted in an infinity of miliary glands with
which the foot is, as it were, shagreened; and as the Limpet cannot
supply the secretion as fast as this can be exhausted, you may destroy
the animal’s capacity of fixation by detaching it forcibly two or three
times in succession.”

THE GILLS.

If we remove one of these Limpets from his selected area of
rock,--which we may readily do, notwithstanding the strength of his
cement, if we take him at unawares, and give him a smart sudden
horizontal rap with a piece of wood, or a moderated blow with a
hammer,--we shall obtain a view of a structure well worth looking at.
The animal is essentially like a Trochus or a Purple inhabiting a
conical shell; only in this case the cone is low and simple, whereas
in the others it is tall and slender, and rolled into a spire. One of
the most curious peculiarities in the Limpet is its gill or breathing
organ. This, we perceive, completely encircles the animal, forming a
ring interrupted only at one point. It lies in the fold between the
mantle and the foot, commencing on the left side of the neck, and
passing quite round the body, parallel with the edge of the shell,
in front of the head, till it terminates close to the point where
it began. It is a long cord closely beset with tiny leaflets, and
thus forming a continual plume. Each leaflet, conical in outline, is
permeated with blood-vessels, and clothed with minute _cilia_, whose
constant vibrations cause the circumambient water ever to play over the
surface of these organs in ceaseless currents, bringing fresh supplies
of oxygen to be respired; and this is absorbed by the blood through the
thin membrane by which they are protected.

There is a very pretty little shell, not uncommon in deep water off
these coasts, but rarely found by the shore collector, though it does
occasionally venture to peep at daylight at the verge of extreme
low-tide. It is the Slit Limpet,[25] which by the older naturalists was
placed in close alliance with the Limpets proper, as if a member of
the same family. They were, however, deceived by paying too exclusive
attention to the form of the shell, which is a cone, somewhat rounded,
and nearly simple, the summit being slightly turned over in a backward
direction. The margin of the shell is delicately notched, the points
being the extremities of the radiating ridges; for the entire surface
is covered with reticulations, one series of alternate furrows and
ridges proceeding from the summit to the margin, and another series
crossing these at right angles, running round the shell parallel with
the margin. The animal has its sides ornamented with short fleshy
processes, and possesses two symmetrical gill-plumes, one on each side.
It is rather attractive in appearance, but I cannot tell you anything
of its manners; for though I have kept specimens in the aquarium,
they are so habitually sluggish, and so reluctant to allow one a peep
beneath the edge of the jealous shell, that I could learn nothing about
their ways;--if indeed they have any.

PHOLAS HOLES.

Another curious form closely related to this is the Keyhole Limpet,[26]
whose shell is of a long oval outline, of a lower cone, reticulated,
like the Slit Limpet, but pierced at the summit with a double hole,
or rather a perforation apparently made of two holes broken into one,
something like a keyhole. This orifice, like the slit in the former
case, is for the discharge of the effete water taken in in breathing.

See! here is the soft red sandstone lying in great beds, pierced
through and through with smooth round holes, just as if bored with a
carpenter’s auger, big enough to admit a man’s thumb. What agency has
been in operation to effect these perforations? Let us try to discover.

A few good blows with the stout hammer on the chisel-head serve to
split off a great slice of the coarse red sandstone. The holes run
through its substance, but they are all empty, or filled only with the
black fœtid mud which the sea has deposited in their cavities. Yes;
these are too superficial; they are all deserted; the stone lies too
high above low-water mark: we must seek a lower level. Try here; where
the lowest spring-tide only just leaves the rock bare. Ha! now we have
uncovered the operators. Here lie, snugly ensconced within the tubular
perforations, great mollusca, with ample ivory-like shells, which yet
cannot half contain the whiter flesh of their ampler bodies, and the
long stout yellow siphons that project from one extremity, reaching far
up the hole towards the surface of the rock.[27]

We lift one from its cavity, all helpless and unresisting, yet
manifesting its indignation at the untimely disturbance by successive
spasmodic contractions of these rough yellow siphons, each accompanied
with a forcible _jet d’eau_, a polite squirt of sea-water into our
face; while, at each contraction in length, the base swells out, till
the compressed valves of the sharp shell threaten to pierce through its
substance.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 6.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  RED-NOSE.      FINGER-PHOLAS.
]

HYPOTHESES OF THEIR FORMATION.

Strange as it seems, these animals have bored these holes in the stone;
and they are capable of boring in far harder rock than this; even in
compact limestone. The actual mode in which this operation is performed
long puzzled philosophers. Some maintained that the animal secreted
an acid which had the power of dissolving not only various kinds of
stone, but also wood, amber, wax, and other substances, in which the
excavations are occasionally made. But it was hard to imagine a solvent
of substances so various, and to know how the animals’ own shells were
preserved from its action; while, confessedly, no such acid had ever
been detected by the most careful tests.

Others maintained that the rough points which stud the shell enable it
to serve as a rasp, which the animal, by rotating on its axis, uses
to wear away the stone or other material; but it was difficult to
understand how it was that the shell itself was not worn away in the
abrasion.

Another zoologist, rejecting this hypothesis, maintained that the edges
of the mantle and the short thick foot are the instruments employed;
and that, though these fleshy organs seem little fitted for such
work, they are really endowed with the requisite power in the shape
of crystals of flint which are deposited thickly in their substance.
Strange to say, however, other accurate observers fail to detect these
siliceous crystals, and therefore reject the hypothesis.

Another suggested that the stone was removed in invisible particles by
the constant action of currents in the water, produced by vibratile
cilia seated on the soft parts of the animal; but this supposition was
found untenable on examination.

Actual observation in the aquarium has proved that the second
hypothesis is the true one. M. Cailliaud in France and Mr. Robertson
in England have demonstrated that the Pholas uses its shell as a
rasp, wearing away the stone with the asperities with which the
anterior parts of the valves are furnished. Between these gentlemen a
somewhat hot contention was maintained for the honour of priority in
this valuable discovery. M. Cailliaud himself used the valves of the
dead shell, and imitating the natural conditions as well as he could,
actually bored an imitative hole, by making them rotate. Mr. Robertson,
at Brighton, exhibited to the public living Pholades in the act of
boring in masses of chalk. He described it as “a living combination
of three instruments, viz., a hydraulic apparatus, a rasp, and a
syringe.” But the first and last of these powers can be considered
only as accessory to the removing of the detritus out of the way,
when once the hole was bored, the _rasp_ being the real power. If you
examine these living shells, you will see that the fore part, where
the foot protrudes, is set with stony points arranged in transverse
and longitudinal rows, the former being the result of elevated ridges
radiating from the hinge, the latter that of the edges of successive
growths of the shell. These points have the most accurate resemblance
to those set on a steel rasp in a blacksmith’s shop. It is interesting
to know that the shell is preserved from being itself prematurely worn
away by the fact, that it is composed of arragonite, a substance much
harder than those in which the Pholas burrows. Yet we see by the
specimens before us that such a destructive action does in time take
place, for some of these have the rasping points much more worn than
others, many of the older ones being nearly smooth.

The animal turns in its burrow from side to side when at work, adhering
to the interior by the foot, and therefore only partially rotating to
and fro. The substance is abraded in the form of fine powder, which
is periodically ejected from the mouth of the hole by the contraction
of the branchial siphon; a good deal of the more impalpable portions
being deposited by the current as it proceeds, and lodging as a soft
mud between the valves and the stone. Mr. Hudson,[28] who watched some
Pholades at work in a tide-pool in the chalk, observed the periodic
ejection of the cloud of chalk-powder, and noticed the heaps of the
same material deposited around the mouth of each burrow. The discharges
were made with no regularity as to time. Mrs. Merrifield[29] records
a curious fact. “A lady, watching the operations of some Pholades
which were at work in a basin of sea-water, perceived that two of
them were boring at such an angle that their tunnels would meet.
Curious to ascertain what they would do in this case, she continued
her observations, and found that _the larger and stronger Pholas bored
straight through the weaker one_, as if it had been merely a piece of
chalk rock.”

Mr. Ross, of Rhyl, having a Pholas in his aquarium, prepared a piece of
wood, by excavating a shallow cavity, about a quarter of an inch deep,
in which he set the animal, whose shell was two inches long. “After
a short time the animal attached its foot to the bottom of the hole
and commenced swaying itself from side to side, until the hole was of
sufficient depth to allow it to proceed in the following manner:--It
inflated itself with water, apparently to its fullest extent, raising
its shell upwards from the hole; then holding by its muscular foot, it
drew its shell gradually down. This would have produced a perpendicular
and very inefficient action, but for a wise provision of nature. The
edges of the valves are not joined close together, but are connected
by a membrane (extension of the mantle), and instead of being joined
at the hinge (umbo) like ordinary bivalves, they possess an extra
plate, attached to each valve of the shell, which is necessary for the
following operation:--In boring, this mollusk, having dilated itself
with water, draws down its shell within the hole, gradually closing the
lower anterior edges until they almost touch. It then raises its shell
upwards, gradually opening the lower anterior edges, and closing the
upper, thus boring both upwards and downwards. The spines are placed
in rows, like the teeth of a saw; those towards the lower part of the
shell being sharp and pointed, while those above, being now useless,
are not renewed.”[30]

RED-NOSES.

In this limestone cliff we shall find other borers, for you may see
even at a considerable distance how holed and honeycombed its surface
is; the cavities being so numerous, so close, and so irregular in
their direction, that the whole face of the rock is fashioned into
small sharp-edged shapeless points. Nor need we be long in finding
the industrious masons who thus rough-point acres upon acres, nay
miles upon miles, of limestone rock. Here in ten thousand orifices you
discern little double-tipped knobs of crimson flesh, which, as soon as
you disturb them, shoot at you a column of water and then disappear
within their fortress, having exhausted their artillery. The fishermen
know them well, and use them for bait, applying to them the familiar
but expressive soubriquet of Red-noses.[31]

It is not so easy to get at these as at the Pholades, because of the
superior hardness of the stone which they excavate. With the chisel,
however, we need not fail of uncovering a few, especially as their
burrows are but shallow. Here they are, half-a-dozen in a block as
big as your fist. Ugly, uncouth, bemired, the valves not nearly
containing the shapeless flesh, they are not particularly attractive
creatures, maugre the brilliant hue of their blushing siphons. Like
Mrs. Merrifield’s Pholas, these Saxicavæ habitually break into one
another’s houses, as we see here, and even cut one another’s shells and
bodies through and through most ruthlessly. They will live very well
out of the rock, and may be kept a considerable time in the aquarium.

There is no doubt that the burrowing Mollusca are slowly but surely
effecting changes in the configuration of rocky coasts, by destroying
the rock. It is true their excavations extend but a few inches in
depth; but then, as the force of the elements readily breaks down the
thin partitions left standing, and discovers a new face, so the borers
are continually renewing their attacks on this; and so in time the
cliffs are worn away, while the debris of impalpable mud is deposited
upon the shallows, entering into new combinations, and filling up
estuaries and harbours.

FOOTNOTES:

[16] _Triopa clavigera._

[17] _Doris tuberculata_, which the reader will see figured in Plate
IV., in the centre of the foreground.

[18] _Eolis coronata_, figured in the upper part of Plate IV., above
the Sea Lemon.

[19] Both these are depicted in Plate IV. That on the right of the
picture is the spawn of _Doris tuberculata_; that on the left is the
spawn of _Eolis coronata_.

[20] Alder and Hancock (DORIS).

[21] _Purpura lapillus_, sometimes known as the Dog-winkle. Three
individuals, representing the varieties of colour, are seen in the
middle of Plate V., and a cluster of their egg-capsules in the lower
left corner.

[22] See _Devonshire Coast_, p. 60.

[23] _Trans. Micr. Soc._ (Ser. II.), vol. iii. p. 17.

[24] _Patella vulgata_, represented by two examples in Plate V., at the
left side of the picture.

[25] _Emarginula reticulata_, of which a figure appears in the
right-hand corner of Plate V.

[26] _Fissurella reticulata._

[27] _Pholas dactylus_; the principal figure in Plate VI., represented
as exposed in its burrow by the splitting off of a portion of the
limestone rock.

[28] _Zoologist_, p. 7819.

[29] _Nat. Hist. of Brighton_, p. 185.

[30] _Zoologist_, p. 6541.

[31] _Saxicava rugosa_; represented by the smaller figure in Plate VI.



III.

MARCH.


Perhaps the most effective aid to the investigation of natural
history which the present age has produced is the invention of the
aquarium, and particularly its application to marine forms of life.
Depending on that grand principle of organic chemistry, of world-wide
prevalence, that the emanations from animals and vegetables are
respectively essential to the continued life each of the other, it
was discovered that the relative proportions of number and bulk in
which organic beings of the two kinds could healthfully live together
was easily determined; and since the fact that the creatures were
inhabitants of water, whether fresh or salt, presented no exception to
the universality of the law, they had but to be placed together in a
suitable ratio, enclosed in a vessel containing water, and an aquarium
was established. Improvements in the form of the vessel, in the mode
of exposing the contents to observation, in the impact of the rays of
light, in the arrangement of the interior, and other points of value,
have indeed been progressively made; whereby the practical availability
of the invention for the purposes of experimental natural history has
been augmented; but some of us have found little difficulty, even
from the very first announcement of the discovery, in maintaining
the collections of sea-water, with their living plants and animals,
unchanged from year’s end to year’s end. I may be perhaps excused for
observing, that I have at present in use a large tank, full of marine
creatures, in which the water has been unchanged for four years, and
on which I look with peculiar interest, because it was the first tank
ever made for private use. This very aquarium has afforded, and still
affords the opportunity for the observation of many interesting details
of the structure and habits of the lower forms of animal life, details
which constitute the basis not only of my works on marine natural
history already published, but of the present series of papers also. We
collect the creatures, indeed, abroad, and there gather up some broad
facts of interest concerning their modes of life; but it is at home,
in the quiet of the study, with conveniences and aids to examination,
experiment, and record at command, that they must be studied. The
aquarium becomes in fact an apparatus, whereby we bring a portion of
the sea, with its rocks, and weeds, and creatures, to the side of our
study-table, and maintain it there.

USE OF THE AQUARIUM.

Thus an opportunity of close and valuable familiarity with
sea-productions is open to multitudes who have never seen the broad
expanse of ocean, nor searched its prolific shores; and facilities for
extending the bounds of zoological science are everywhere enjoyed,
which till lately were restricted to a very few naturalists, whose
residences were situated on certain favourable spots upon the coast.
Yet both modes of investigation are necessary. He who has never seen
marine animals except in the confinement of an aquarium, cannot but be
conscious of many chasms in his knowledge, which are filled up by him
who is in the habit of collecting his own specimens in their proper
haunts; and who, by finding them _in ferâ naturâ_, can, when he studies
them at leisure in his tanks, make such allowances as are necessary
for the variations in habit which may be dependent on the difference
between their present artificial, and their original natural,
conditions of existence.

While we rejoice then in tanks and vases of crystal water, filled with
the lovely forms and brilliant hues of sea-weeds and sea-anemones, I
invite my readers to accompany me on a few hours’ visit to the charming
creatures at their own homes. The season is propitious; the sun
has just passed the vernal equinox, and the genial warmth of spring
is diffusing new life into the cold blood of the animals that dwell
beneath the waters; the equinoctial storms that lately raged have
blown themselves out, and are succeeded by a quietude whose effect
is delightfully seen in yonder mirror-like ocean: it is the time of
spring-tide; and the near approach of the hour of lowest water will
afford us unusual facilities for finding species only to be invaded
under such conditions.

Let us then scramble down to the beautiful Anstey’s Cove, along the
steep path tangled with briers and ferns; where the swelling buds of
the hawthorn and honeysuckle are already bursting, while the blackbird
mellowly whistles in the fast-greening thicket, and the lark joyously
greets the mounting sun above us. Yonder on the shingle lies a boat,
newly painted in white and green, for the attraction of young ladies
of maritime aspirations; she is hauled up high and dry; but the sinewy
arms of honest Harry Bate, who hearing footsteps has come out of his
little grotto under the rock to reconnoitre, will soon drag her down
to the rippling waves, and, “for the small sum of a shilling an hour,”
will pull us over the smooth and pond-like sea, whithersoever we may
choose to direct him.

“Jump aboard, please, Sir! Jump in, ladies! jump in, little master!”
And now, as we take our seats on the clean canvas cushions astern, the
boat’s bottom scrapes along with a harsh grating noise over the white
shingle-pebbles, and we are afloat.

SEA-CAVERN.

First to the caverns just outside yonder lofty point. The lowness of
the tide will enable us to take the boat into them, and the calmness of
the sea will preclude much danger of her striking the rocks; especially
as watchful Bate will be on the alert, boat-hook in hand, to keep her
clear. Now we lie in the gloom of the lofty arch, gently heaving and
sinking and swaying on the slight swell, which, however smooth the
surface, is always perceptible when you are in a boat among rocks, and
which invests such an approach with a danger that a landsman does not
at all appreciate. Yet the water, despite the swell, is glassy, and
invites the gaze down into its crystalline depths, where the little
fishes are playing and hovering over the dark weeds. The sides of the
cavern rise around us in curved planes, washed smooth and slippery by
the dashing of the waves of ages, and gradually merge into the massive
angles and projections and groins of the broken roof, whence a tuft or
two of what looks like samphire depends. But notice the colonies of the
Smooth Anemone or Beadlet[32] clustered about the sides; many of them
are adhering to the stone walls, several feet above the water. These
have been left uncovered for hours, and are none the worse for it. They
are closed, the many tentacles being concealed by the involution of the
upper part of the body, so that they look like balls, or hemispheres,
or semi-ovals of flesh; or like ripe fruits, so plump and succulent
and glossy and high-coloured, that we are tempted to stretch forth
the willing hand, to pluck and eat. Some are greengages, some Orleans
plums, some magnum-bonums,--so various are their rich hues; but look
beneath the water, and you see them not less numerous, but of quite
another guise. These are all widely expanded; the tentacles are thrown
out in an arch over the circumference, leaving a broad flat disk; just
like a many-petalled flower of gorgeous hues: indeed, we may fancy
that here we see the blossoms, and there the ripened fruit. Do not
omit, however, to notice the beads of pearly blue that stud the margin
all round, at the base of the over-arching tentacles. These have been
supposed by some to be eyes; the suggestion, however, rests on no
anatomical ground, and is, I am afraid, worthless; though I cannot tell
you what purpose they do serve.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 7.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

SNOWY ANEMONE. DEAD-MAN’S FINGER. ROSY ANEMONE. LUCERNARIA. SMOOTH BEADLET.
]

TANGLE FORESTS.

Away! for I wish to explore another scene not less romantic than
this, and which I know by experience to be much more prolific in
strange and beautiful forms of life. Harry shall pull us round yonder
low point, which bears the appellation of Hope’s Nose, calling on
the way to look at some one of the inlets that lie between the long
projecting points at the foot of Black Rock. Here the boat floats over
dense forests of great brown sea-weeds, the _Laminariæ_, which lift
their dark masses, and wave to and fro, with a majestic dignity. Here
is the narrow crumpled blade of the Oarweed, of a rich yellow brown;
and the wavy stem of the Furbelows springing from its hedgehog-like
bladder; but chiefly is the forest composed of vast plants of the
Tangle, whose broad deep-brown fronds of a substance like stout
leather, French-polished, divide into many long straps, slide over
each other, and flap to and fro in the heave of the sea. Yonder we see
on the broadest part of a frond, just before it divides, what seems a
flower, as large as a chrysanthemum, but of the liveliest pea-green
hue, every long petal tipped with rosy pink. Hand over the boat-hook,
and carefully lift the tangle to the surface. Now we have it fully in
view. It is the green variety of the Opelet;[33] so called because
it is scarcely capable of infolding the walls of the body over the
disk and tentacles; these therefore remain habitually _open_, though
the animal is at times much less expanded than at others. We now see
it in its most charming condition; the short fawn-coloured column
inflated, the mouth elevated on a strong cone in the centre of the wide
saucer-shaped disk, and the numerous tentacles arranged in groups,
as if several stems sprang from the same root, long, slender, very
flexible, twisting about like the snaky locks of Medusa’s head, all
of the most delicate light green, with a rich satin lustre, and all
tipped with the richest crimson-lilac or light rose,--a most beautiful
harmony of colours. The animal adheres by a broad base firmly to the
disk of the tangle, and awaits, as it waves hither and thither, the
approach of one of the little fishes that play heedlessly at bo-peep
among the fronds. No sooner does one of them touch the far-stretching
tentacles, than a virulent and penetrating poison shoots through its
frame; its vigour is benumbed in an instant; it ceases to struggle; its
powerful fins strike the water no more; others of the fatal tentacles
enwrap themselves around it, and drag it towards the mouth, already
protruding and expanding in expectation of the morsel; where it is in
a few minutes engulfed, and soon digested in that capacious maw.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 9.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._       LEIGHTON, BROS.

  GREEN OPELET.       ORANGE-DISK ANEMONE.
]

It is not very uncommon for a single specimen of this species to become
two by a perpendicular division. The whole process has been observed. A
little notch first appears in the margin of the disk, which extends,
cutting through the tentacles of that side, splitting the disk across,
proceeding through the tentacles on the opposite side till it divides
the margin there also. Meanwhile, it has advanced downward in an equal
ratio, till it has reached the base; and at length there are two
half-opelets still adhering in the closest proximity. Now, however,
the two raw and open surfaces close up, and the bases glide gradually
apart. A thick wall of flesh forms between the stomach and the wound,
and new tentacles develop themselves on this. The two Opelets are
complete.

RAISED BEACHES.

Half-an-hour’s vigorous pulling has doubled the long promontory
of Hope’s Nose, a wilderness of stones, like what I suppose, from
published descriptions, the foot of Mount Sinai to be, and brought us,
between two raised beaches, into the pretty cove of Meadfoot, capped by
elegant villas. These beaches, evidences of the lifting of the land,
for they surely once stood, as beaches stand now, at the sea-level, are
situate, the one on the main, the other on the Thatcher, a rocky islet
some two hundred yards off shore. A few minutes more, and we are in a
wild scene indeed. Isolated rocks stand up, in angular masses, upright
columns, and sharp peaks, out of the sea, which is quite deep, even at
lowest spring-tide. The coast itself too is rugged, precipitous, and
in many spots quite perpendicular; one bold promontory, which runs out
with a narrow knife-edge summit, is perforated by a natural archway of
lofty elevation, of very striking aspect. It is distinctly visible for
miles along the shores of Torbay, and is dignified with the name of
London Bridge.

Here, then, is our fishing-ground to-day. Threading the slender
passages between the perpendicular rocks, or creeping-in close under
their overhanging landward sides, where no ray of the sun has ever
penetrated, we hang on by the points and groins, and eagerly peer
below. Into one lane our boatman hesitates to venture. It is but just
wide enough to allow the boat to pass; indeed here and there she cannot
without rubbing her gunwales; and if a stronger swell than usual were
to roll-in from seaward while entangled, her side might be stove-in
before she could be extricated. However, its gloom looks so tempting,
and the water among the islets is so very smooth, that we succeed in
persuading him, and we push and drag into the very midst of the watery
alley. The rocks rise close on either hand like lofty walls, and
descend as perpendicularly, deep and far down beneath our keel; as we
can well see, for the water is of lustrous transparency.

LIFE ON SEA-ROCKS.

And what a sight is here! Hundreds of Anemones of many species are
studding the walls almost as thick as they can be packed. Every tiny
crevice, every hollow, every hole left by _Pholas_ or _Saxicava_ (and
the rock is riddled and honeycombed by these burrowing mollusks),
holds its little knob of plump flesh; some lolling out with a dewdrop
hanging from the end; some just filling the cavity, and allowing the
tips of the crowded tentacles to peep out as a speck of white, or of
orange, or of rosy lilac, according to the species; and some retreated
to the bottom of their stony fortress, to be detected only by the
probing touch. Other forms too there are;--dead men’s fingers, white
and yellow; worms, green and brown and grey, twining in and out, and
grasping the sharp edges of the rock; tunicate mollusks, simple and
compound; univalves and bivalves; sponges of all bright colours by
hundreds:--what a maze, what a teeming world of life it is!

All this is at and above the level of the eye. Now let us bend over
the boat’s gunwale, and gaze below, with our faces brought nearly to
the surface of the sea. Here the sight is far more wonderful, and far
more attractive; for here the life is seen in all its fullest activity,
every creature performing its functions, and pursuing its instincts
with the most single earnestness, self-contained, and altogether
regardless of the myriad fellow-beings that surround it and press upon
it, in this eager contest and struggle for maintained existence.

DEAD MAN’S FINGER.

A yard or two below the surface the eye is caught by a great oyster
projecting from the vertical wall. It is a strange situation for
an oyster to be in, but it shows how the infant young, in their
free-swimming form, so different from their ultimate condition, may be
carried by the aid of their own cilia, and the sea-currents, into the
most improbable situations, and may there find circumstances congenial
for permanent settlement.[34] Perhaps, however, its brown and rough
shell would scarcely have attracted our notice, but for the rider that
sits upon it. A specimen of the Dead-man’s finger,[35] of noble
dimensions, has selected this shell as the seat of its dominion; and
we can discern the three or four great lobes of which it consists
all surrounded by the gauzy cloud that tells of the thousands of
translucent polyps projected from every part of its periphery. Fine as
is that specimen, however, there are scores of others, many of which
are of equal dimensions, and more easily accessible. By the aid of
the hammer and cold-chisel, we may easily secure a specimen without
harming it, after searching a while to select one which is seated on
some projection of the rock that can be struck off. Thus removed,
and at once transferred to one of our collecting jars, the curious
compound animal will in captivity display its beauties, though, it must
be confessed, it is often rather bashful before company. The lobes
into which the mass is divided are sufficiently like stumpy fingers
to have given it a popular designation, while their dull white hue
has suggested that the fingers are those of a corpse. The animal is
sometimes, however, called Cows’ paps, and sometimes Mermaids’ gloves;
but I think this latter is a book name.

When we examine it in the aquarium, after it has recovered its
equanimity disturbed by the rude shocks of the hammer battering about
its castle, we see that the lobes are greatly swollen and sub-pellucid,
from the imbibition of water into the canals with which its whole
substance is penetrated. When out of water the surface was studded with
shallow pits, as if the poor thing had at some period of its history
been afflicted with the small-pox. Now, however, these pittings reveal
their true character; for each has protruded itself in the form of a
long but slender polyp, of exquisite translucency and perfect symmetry.
It resembles a tubular flower with eight narrow pointed petals, which
arch outward like those of a campanula or tulip. Each petal carries on
its edges a row of very slender transparent filaments, arranged like
the teeth of a comb, which also arch downward, and greatly augment the
beauty of the flower-like polyp.

Structurally, this polyp is closely allied to the common forms of the
Sea Anemones; the most obvious peculiarity being, that a multitude are
combined into one mass, with a common life animating the whole. The
fleshy mass is of a spongy texture, full of branching water-canals, and
containing a multitude of calcareous spicula of characteristic forms.
They resemble gnarled branches of oak, with the branchlets broken off,
leaving ragged ends. The skin of the polyps contains, at certain fixed
spots, groups of similar spicula, but much more minute. The microscope
is necessary to discern these, as well as some other details of the
organization of this very interesting creature.

The technical character by which this animal with its allies
is distinguished from the proper Anemones, is that its plan of
organization is fashioned on the number _eight_, whereas the true
Anemones have _six_, as their characteristic number. Thus, however
numerous the tentacles of an anemone may be,--and in the case of the
Daisy or the Plumose, they often amount to several hundreds,--the young
animal began with six, and the increase is normally a multiplication
of six, though accidental irregularities do occur. On the other hand,
the tentacles of the Alcyonium are permanently eight, as are the
vertical partitions of the interior of the body; and by consequence,
the chambers into which those membranous partitions divide it.

But we must not allow the interest attaching to these forms to divert
our attention from the Anemones themselves. All the species which we
saw on the rock above the water, are here below it, and all displaying
their beauties in an incomparably more charming fashion. We can compare
the whole submerged wall to nothing else than a parterre of most
brilliant flowers, taken bodily and set on end. The eye is bewildered
with their number and variety, and knows not which to look at first.
Here are the Rosy Anemones,[36] with a firm fleshy column of rich
sienna-brown, paler towards the base, and with the upper part studded
with indistinct spots, marking the situation of certain organs which
have an adhesive power. The disk is of a pale neutral tint, with a
crimson mouth in the centre, and a circumference of crowded tentacles
of the most lovely rose-purple, the rich hue of that lovely flower that
bears the name of General Jacqueminot. In those specimens that are most
widely opened, this tentacular fringe forms a blossom whose petals
overhang the concealed column, expanding to the width of an inch or
more; but there are others in which the expansion is less complete in
different degrees, and these all give distinct phases of loveliness. We
find a few among the rest, which, with the characteristically-coloured
tentacles, have the column and the disk of a creamy white; and one in
which the disk is of a brilliant orange, inclining to scarlet. Most
lovely little creatures are they all.

SCARLET-FRINGED ANEMONE.

Commingled with these charming Roses, there are others which attain a
larger size, occurring in even greater abundance. They are frequently
an inch and a half in diameter when expanded, and some are even larger
than this. You may know them at once by observing that the outer row of
tentacles, and occasionally also some of the others, are of a scarlet
hue, which, when examined minutely, is seen to be produced by a sort of
core of that rich hue pervading the pellucid tentacle. The species is
commonly known as the Scarlet-fringed Anemone.[37] The inner rows of
tentacles, which individually are larger than those of the outer rows,
are pale, marked at the base with strong bars of black. The disk is
very variable in hue, but the column is for the most part of the same
rich brown as we saw in the Rosy. Yet, though these are characteristic
colours, there are specimens which diverge exceedingly from them, and
some approach so near the Roses, as to be scarcely distinguishable
from them. Generally, however, the scarlet-cored outer tentacles,
and a peculiar habit of throwing the tentacular margin of the disk
into crumpled folds, will be found sufficient to determine this very
handsome kind of Anemone from its nearest allies.

PLUMOSE ANEMONE.

There are multitudes too of a charming little kind, which, on account
of the pure whiteness of the crown of tentacles, is known as the
Snowy.[38] The disk is of the same spotless hue; and the column of
a light drab deepening into pale olive towards the summit. With the
exception of its colours, this species has a very close resemblance
to the Rosy, with which it is generally associated, even as we see it
here. And here is the Orange-disk,[39] one of exceeding loveliness,
which you might fancy a cross-breed between the Rosy and the Snowy,
having the rich brown column of the former, and the white tentacles of
the latter; but that it has a character of its own in the disk being
of the most brilliant orange-red. All these are scattered in the most
abundant profusion, looking like gems sown on the rough rock; or, as
I compared them before, like gorgeous composite flowers, of which you
might easily fancy the little tufts of green and purple _Algæ_ to be
the proper leaves. There are also others, less conspicuous, the Daisy,
the Sandalled, the Cave-dweller, the Translucent,[40] more or less
numerously mingled with the rest, of which I have not space here to
speak, but whose history I have elsewhere written in detail.[41] And
we see here and there, for the most part crowded into groups, another
interesting kind, the Plumose,[42] which differs much in appearance
from its associates, having a taller column much more pellucid, and a
crown of tentacles so short, so numerous and so dense, as to form a
large confused tuft of frills, which cannot be separated into rows.
This kind is always of self-colours, which, however, may be light
olive, fawn-brown, orange, flesh-colour, or pure white. Those which the
tide has left exposed, loll out of their holes and droop; but under the
water they stand erect, with a noble boldness. Each group generally
contains individuals of all sizes, and may be considered as a single
family of several generations, or, to speak more correctly, of several
series of offsets, of different ages. For it is highly characteristic
of this species to increase by spontaneous division. When a large
individual has been a good while adherent to one spot, and at length
chooses to change its quarters, it does so by causing its base to
glide slowly along the surface on which it rests;--the glass side of
the tank, for instance. But it frequently happens that small irregular
fragments of the edge of the base are left behind, as if their adhesion
had been so strong, that the animal found it easier to tear its own
tissues apart than to overcome it. The fragments so left soon contract
become smooth, and spherical or oval in outline; and in the course
of a week or fortnight each may be seen furnished with a margin of
tentacles and a disk; transformed, in fact, into perfect though minute
Anemones. Occasionally a separated piece, more irregularly jagged than
usual, will, in contracting, constringe itself, and form two smaller
fragments, united by an isthmus, which goes on attenuating until a
fine thread-like line only is stretched from one to the other; this at
length yields, the substance of the broken thread is rapidly absorbed
into the respective pieces, which soon become two young Anemones.

All the kinds which we have seen in this locality belong to one great
family, the _Sagartiadæ_, a group which includes nearly one-third of
the seventy species of Anemones and Corals which we have on the British
coast; and certainly the most beautiful and the most known, taking them
one with another. They are distinguished by a remarkable peculiarity;
the skin of the body is pierced with minute holes, capable of being
opened and closed at will, out of which can be forced curious slender
threads, which ordinarily lie coiled up in great profusion in the
interior of the animal. These threads are almost entirely composed of
those extraordinary capsules, called _cnidæ_, or nettling-cells, found
indeed in most of the tissues, but nowhere in such abundance as here,
which eject with amazing force a poisonous filament having the strength
and elasticity of a wire, and furnished with reversed barbs, but of
almost inconceivable tenuity. The filaments, projected by myriads
at the pleasure of the animal, penetrate deeply into the flesh of
other soft-bodied creatures, and cause immediate paralysis and speedy
death.[43]

DAHLIA WARTLET.

The waning day and the turning tide warn us homeward; but we shall
have time to visit a fine dark overarched pool in the rocks which I
know on our route. Here it is; noticeable because of its being the
chosen residence of a colony of that magnificent species, the Dahlia
Wartlet.[44] All round the curving sides of the sea-washed basin,
crowding one upon the other beneath the projecting angles, or seated
in single majesty on some prominence, we see them flaunting the most
gorgeous colours, and attaining a diameter of expanse that no other,
at least of our common forms, can rival or approach. The wide but
low column, rough with coarse warts, may be olive, or deep green,
or purple-crimson, or light green splashed and streaked with scarlet
like an apple; the disk is equally varied, but generally displays
diverging bands of rich red which fork and embrace the tentacles; while
the tentacles, short, stout, and conical, may be white with pellucid
rings, deep crimson, or of the highest flush of rose, with a broad ring
of lilac. Widely expanded, the Crassicornis is as good a mimicry of
the great dahlias of our gardens, as the Sagartiæ are of the daisies
and pompone chrysanthemums. Even bees are occasionally deceived. Mr.
Couch, when once looking at a fine specimen which was expanded so close
to the surface that only a thin film of water covered the disk and
tentacles, saw a roving bee alight on the tempting surface, evidently
mistaking the anemone for a veritable blossom; the tenacious tentacles
instantly seized it, and though it struggled a good deal for its
liberty, retained the disappointed bee till it was drowned, when it was
soon consigned to the insatiable stomach. The story reminds us of the
well-known fact that the flesh-flies, deceived by the carrion smell of
some of the Stapeliæ, sometimes lay their eggs on the flowers; both
cases showing that animal instinct is not quite so unerring as it is
frequently represented.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 8.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  DAHLIA WARTLET.
]

LUCERNARIA.

Attached to the thin crumpled leaf of an Ulva in this pool is an
animal, having much of the texture, and somewhat of the form, of an
Anemone. Formerly, indeed, it was associated in the same group, but
it is now ascertained to have more affinities with the translucent
and often colourless free-swimming jelly-fishes. From its resemblance
to an elegant lamp, it is called _Lucernaria_.[45] We must suppose
a _Medusa_ to be turned hollow upwards, and an adhesive foot to be
produced from what was before the summit of its “umbrella;” and little
more is necessary to constitute a _Lucernaria_. The most observable
peculiarity is that the tentacles, which are very minute, and have the
form of a globose head seated on a short stem, are disposed in compact
groups of as many as seventy, which groups, eight in number, like so
many round balls, are seated on projecting angles of the margin; while
from the centre of the hollow rises a mouth, with four protrusile lips
in form of a square. The colour is a dull dark red or liver brown.
The animal preys on other creatures, which it captures by means of
poison-capsules, and swallows, much as the anemones do.

And thus we wend our way homeward; meditating much as we glide across
the smooth bay, on the wondrous elegance of form, the exquisite
brilliance of colours, the great variety, the instincts, the powers,
the most elaborate apparatus, bestowed on these humble creatures, of
no apparent use whatever to man; indeed, until quite recently, utterly
neglected by him and unknown, though exhibiting their loveliness under
his very eyes, and close to his doors. We meditate on these things, and
ask, For what purpose is all this profuse expenditure of power, wisdom,
taste, skill? We hear the answer in the choral praise of those who know
more of these matters than we can yet attain to,--“Thou hast created
all things, and _for thy pleasure_ they are, and were created.”

FOOTNOTES:

[32] _Actinia mesembryanthemum_, represented in Plate VII., at the
lower right-hand corner.

[33] _Anthea cereus_, var. _smaragdina_, represented at the left hand
of Plate IX.

[34] M. Coste has lately communicated a paper to the Academy of
Sciences on the progress of his artificial oyster-beds on the western
coast of France. Several thousands of the inhabitants of the island
of Ré have been for the last four years engaged in cleansing their
muddy coast of the sediments which prevented oysters from congregating
there; and as the work advances the seed wafted over from Nieulle and
other oyster localities settles in the new beds, and, added to that
transplanted, peoples the coast, so that 72,000,000 of oysters, from
one to four years old, and nearly all marketable, is the lowest average
per annum registered by the local administration, representing, at the
rate of from 25 to 30 francs per thousand, which is the current price
in the locality, a sum of about two millions of francs, the produce
of an extremely limited surface. That the waves or currents carry
the seed of oysters is a well-known fact, since the walls of sluices
newly erected are often covered with them. In the island of Ré, the
existence of the oyster-beds, however, no longer depends upon this
contingency, they being now in a state of permanent self-reproduction.
The distinction of oyster-beds into those of collection and those of
reproduction is quite unnecessary, since the property of reproduction
belongs to them all. In some localities it is sufficient to prepare the
emerging banks for collection to see them soon covered with seed; but
in other places nothing would be obtained without transplanting proper
subjects, an operation which by no means impairs their reproductive
qualities. The concession of emerging banks is anxiously applied for
by the inhabitants of the coast; the more so as improvements in the
working of this branch of trade are of daily occurrence. Thus, Dr.
Kemmerer, of Ré, covers a number of tiles with a coating of a kind of
mastic, brittle enough to enable him to detach the small oysters from
it. When this coating is well covered with seed he gets it off all in
one piece, which he carries to the place where the seed is to grow. The
same tile he coats a second time, and so on as long as the seed will
deposit upon it. In short, wherever the violence of the currents and
the instability of the bottom do not present irresistible obstacles the
cultivation of the oysters has become a lucrative business.

[35] _Alcyonium digitatum_, for which see Plate VII. It is the white
object near the middle of the picture, partly concealed by the
intervening leaf of green _Ulva_.

[36] _Sagartia rosea_, of which a specimen, only partially open, is
delineated in the centre foreground of Plate VII.

[37] _Sagartia miniata._

[38] _Sagartia nivea_; two of this species, one closed, the other
partially opened, are seen at the left corner of the foreground in
Plate VII.

[39] _Sagartia venusta_, a group of which occupies the right-hand side
of Plate IX., including both expanded and closed individuals.

[40] _Sag. bellis_, _sphyrodeta_, _troglodytes_, _pura_.

[41] See my _History of the British Sea-anemones_.

[42] _Actinoloba dianthus._

[43] For a fuller account of these organs and their offensive function,
which constitute an apparatus not exceeded in interest by any that
I know of in the whole realm of natural history, I beg to refer the
reader to my _Naturalist’s Rambles on the Devonshire Coast_, and my
_Actinologia Britannica_, _passim_.

[44] _Tealia crassicornis_, which forms the subject of Plate VIII.

[45] _Lucernaria campanulata_ is represented in the upper right-hand
corner of Plate VII.



IV.

APRIL.


Shall we explore the sands to-day? A bright sandy beach well exposed to
the sea is no bad hunting-ground for the naturalist, bare as it looks,
and proverbial as is its character for sterility,--“barren as the sand
on the sea-shore.” And specially is it likely to be productive, when,
as is often the case, the wide reach of yellow sand is interrupted by
one or more isolated areas of rough rocks. Goodrington Sands, lying in
the hollow of Torbay, afford just these conditions; and thither will we
bend our steps this April morning.

So we make our way along the dusty highroad, that leads from Torquay
southward, skirting the shore, now and then getting peeps of the rocks
and the retiring tide, over the massive sea-walls, as the successive
coves open and again shut-in by bounding hedgerows as we cross the
bases of the intervening headlands. Wild hyacinths are peeping among
the rank foliage of the arums and nettles; and harts-tongue ferns, and
primroses are everywhere, clustering in great masses, or studding the
green banks in single stars; the bright rose-campion smiles, and the
ever lovely germander speedwell, brightest, sweetest of spring flowers,
gladdens us here and there, like “angels’ eyes,” as our rustics
poetically call these pretty azure flowers.

As we proceed, we pause to wipe our foreheads, and turning round,
see Torquay behind us, covering and crowning its amphitheatre of
hills, like a queenly city, surely the most beauteous of all our
watering-places;--and beyond it on the left, we see the old church
tower of Marychurch, on its elevated plateau, standing out massive and
dark against the sky.

We pass through the outskirts of the long straggling village of
Paignton, and mark how picturesquely it is embosomed in the midst of
its apple orchards; the old-fashioned cottages buried in the trees, so
that only the time-stained roofs of brown thatch rise here and there,
like islets in a wide sea of blushing blossom. And now extensive osier
grounds lie on either side; the young tender-green shoots, the hope of
the harvest, rising thickly from the uncouth pollard stumps; while the
still water glimmers everywhere around their roots.

A narrow lane leads off abruptly on our left, into which we turn, and
in a moment are in a mossy, flowery, ferny region. The open gate of a
villa reveals a little girl “perambulating” a baby amid the bowers and
blossoms of a sweet garden, whose numerous old tamarisk trees, rough
and bristling, guard the wall, just breaking into their plumy foliage.
And then we open the expanse of shore and sea, and the wheels of the
carriage are suddenly six inches deep in the soft sand. How brightly
the wide silver sea is glancing and sparkling under the climbing sun!
Scarcely a breeze breaks its mirrory face, though far out in the offing
lines and bands of deep blue show that there are intermitting puffs
ruffling the water; and the craft that creep along the horizon have
evidently got a working breeze, though the yachts in the half-distance
sit like white swans, their motionless prows pointing every way, and
“floating double,” on the molten looking-glass.

GOODRINGTON SANDS.

These are the Goodrington Sands; for there on the left is the
projecting bluff of red sandstone, horizontally stratified, known as
Roundham Head, and beyond it in the distance we see Hope’s Nose, and
its two guardian islets, the Orestone and the Thatcher. On the other
side, the long wall of land terminating in Berry Head projects to an
equal distance, and we are in the bottom of the deep bight, nearly
equidistant from both.

Immediately in front of the debouchure of the little green lane,
beginning some way down the beach, and stretching away into the sea,
there is a mass of low black rock, leprous with barnacles, and draped
with ragged tufts of oar-weed and tangle and bladder-wrack, sweltering
and blackening in the sun. It is much broken up, and narrow winding
lanes paved with sand pierce it in all directions; and shallow pools of
quiet water sleep everywhere in the hollows. Sweet little sea-gardens
are these pools: bright green leaves of ulva float like tinted cambric
in the water; tufts of chondrus are glittering with steely reflections
of gemmeous blue; large broad leaves of dulse, richly, darkly red,
afford fine contrasts with the green sea-lettuce; and one and all
give ample shelter to thousands of vigilant, busy, happy, living
creatures. It is treacherous walking; for the footing is very uneven,
and the glare of the sun on the water renders it difficult to see where
to tread; while the advance and recess of the wavelets on the sand
between, give to the bewildered brain the impression that everything is
sliding from under the foot.

PAIGNTON COCKLE.

What is that object that lies on yonder stretch of sand, over which
the shallow water ripples, washing the sand around it and presently
leaving it dry? It looks like a stone; but there is a fine scarlet knob
on it; which all of a sudden has disappeared. Let us watch the moment
of the receding wave, and run out to it. It is a fine example of the
great spinous cockle,[46] for which all these sandy beaches that form
the bottom of the great sea-bend of Torbay are celebrated. Indeed the
species is scarcely known elsewhere; so that it is often designated in
books as the Paignton cockle. A right savoury _bonne bouche_ it is,
when artistically dressed. Old Dr. Turton, a great authority in his
day for Devonshire natural history, especially in matters relating to
shells and shell-fish, says that the cottagers about Paignton well know
the “red noses,” as they call the great cockles, and search for them
at the low spring-tides, when they may be seen lying in the sand with
the fringed siphons appearing just above the surface. They gather them
in baskets and panniers, and after cleansing them a few hours in cold
spring-water, fry the animals in a batter made of crumbs of bread. The
creatures have not changed their habits nor their habitats; for they
are still to be seen in the old spots just as they were a century ago:
nor have they lost their reputation; they are indeed promoted to the
gratification of more refined palates now, for the cottagers, knowing
on which side their bread is buttered, collect the sapid cockles for
the fashionables of Torquay, and content themselves with the humbler
and smaller species,[47] which rather affects the muddy flats of
estuaries than sand beaches, though not uncommon here. This latter,
though much inferior in sapidity to the great spinous sort, forms a
far more important item in the category of human food, from its very
general distribution, its extreme abundance, and the ease with which it
is collected. Wherever the receding tide leaves an area of exposed mud,
the common cockle is sure to be found; and hundreds of men, women, and
children, may be seen plodding and groping over the stinking surface,
with naked feet and bent backs, picking up the shell-fish by thousands,
to be boiled and eaten for home consumption, or to be cried through
the lanes and alleys of the neighbouring towns by stentorian boys, who
vociferate all day long,--“Here’s your fine cockles, here! Here they
are! Here they are! Twopence a quart!”

COCKLE-FISHING.

It is on the north-western coasts of Scotland, however, that the
greatest abundance of these mollusca occurs, and there they form not
a luxury, but even a necessary of life to the poor semi-barbarous
population. The inhabitants of those rocky regions enjoy an unenviable
notoriety for being habitually dependent on this mean diet. “Where
the river meets the sea at Tongue,” says Macculloch, “there is a
considerable ebb, and the long sand-banks are productive of cockles
in an abundance which is almost unexampled. At that time (a year of
scarcity) they presented every day at low water a singular spectacle,
being crowded with men, women, and children, who were busily employed
in digging for these shell-fish as long as the tide permitted. It was
not unusual also to see thirty or forty horses from the surrounding
country, which had been brought down for the purpose of carrying away
loads of them to distances of many miles. This was a well-known season
of scarcity, and, without this resource, I believe it is not too much
to say, that many individuals must have died for want.”[48]

The isles of Barra and North Uist, in the Hebrides, possess also
enormous resources of the same character. “It is not easy to
calculate,” says Mr. Wilson, “the amount of such beds of shell-fish,
but we may mention that, during a period of great distress which
prevailed a good many years ago, all the families in the island (then
about two hundred in number) resorted, for the sake of this food, to
the great sands at the northern end of Barra. It was computed that,
for a couple of summers at the time alluded to, no less than from one
hundred to two hundred horse-loads were taken at low water every day of
the spring-tides during the months of May, June, July, and August. We
were pleased to hear it observed that the shell-fish are always most
abundant in years of scarcity.”[49]

These Barra beds are of great antiquity. A very old writer, Dean Monro,
thus notices them:--“This ile is full of grate cokills, and alledgit
be the auncient countrymen that the same cokills comes down out of the
foresaid hill throw the said strype in the first smalle forme that
wee have spokyn of, and aftir theyr comying down to the sandes growis
grate cokills allways. Ther is no fayrer and more profytable sandes for
cokills in all the worlde.”

But all this time our fair “cokill” has been lying at our feet,
snapping, and gaping, and thrusting forth and back his great coral
foot, waiting our leisure to take him up. No longer shall he be
neglected. The bivalve shell is a fine solid house of stone, massive,
strong, and heavy, elegantly fluted with prominent ribs that radiate
regularly on both valves from the curved beaks, which ribs are beset
with polished spiny points. The hues of the shell are attractive,
though not at all showy; they consist of tints of yellowish and reddish
browns, rich and warm, arranged in concentric bands, and gradually
fading to a creamy white at the beaks. Unlike the scallops, the cockles
have the two valves alike in shape, and from the bent beaks meeting
each other, and the curvature of the outline, they present, when
viewed endwise, a very regular and beautiful heart-shape, whence the
scientific name of the genus is derived, _Cardium_, from καρδία, the
heart.

The animal which inhabits this strong fortress is handsomer than
bivalves usually are. The leaves of the mantle are thick and convex,
corresponding to the shell-valves; the edges are strongly fringed in
the neighbourhood of the siphons, which are short tubes of considerable
diameter, soldered, as it were, together. The mantle has a soft spongy
character towards its edges, but towards the back, where it lines the
valves, it is very thin and almost membranous. The hue of the former
parts is very rich, a fine brilliant orange, with the shaggy fringe of
tentacles paler; the siphons are also orange, with the inner surface of
the tubes white, having a pearly gleam.

FOOT OF THE COCKLE.

But what was that scarlet knob that we saw protruded and retracted but
now? Ha! as it lies, slightly gaping, the lips of the mantle recede,
and we catch a peep within of the gorgeous colour. Suddenly the valves
open to their full extent, like the folding doors of a drawing-room,
allowing exit to a richly dressed lady. Here comes the vermilion
tenant! Place for my lady! But what is she? And what is she about to do
in her gorgeous raiment? Nay; ’tis but the cockle’s foot; a monopod
he is: this is all the foot he has. It is clad in neither shoe nor
stocking; and truly it needs it not. Never was the silken-hosed foot
of cardinal arrayed like this. But see to what an extent the organ
protrudes! four inches from the valves’ edges does its tip reach;
smooth, lubricous, taper, with a knee at the upper part, and the toe
bent in the form of a hook. As to its general appearance when thus
extended, I have compared it to a finger of polished carnelian; but
Mr. Kingsley thinks that this resemblance will not hold, the foot
being too opaque for that gem: he likens it to a long capsicum, which
is, however, too dull and too dark; and he tells a story of a certain
(mythic, I fear) countess who, seeing it for the first time, exclaimed,
“Oh, dear! I always heard that my pretty red coral came out of a fish,
and here it is, all alive!”

Nay; after all, it is what it is; and those comparisons just help one
who has never seen it, to form some conception of its appearance; but
by one who has, all will be rejected as inadequate.

And as to what the brilliant organ is going to do, that we see. For
the long taper foot being thrust to its utmost, feels about for some
resisting surface, that stone, half buried in the sand, for instance;
which no sooner does it feel than the hooked point is pressed stiffly
against it, the whole foot by muscular contraction is made suddenly
rigid, and the entire creature,--mantle, siphons, foot, shell and
all--is jerked away in an uncouth manner, “quite permiscous,” as the
fisherman hard-by says, to a distance of some foot or more. But the
cockle can leap on occasion much more vigorously; one has been seen
to throw itself clear over the gunwale of a boat when laid on the
bottom-boards.

ITS BURROWING FUNCTION.

Thus we see one use of the hooked tip is to afford a stronger spring;
but it has a more direct bearing on the burrowing habits of the animal.
Like all the rest of its beautiful tribe, this species is a dweller in
the deep sand, into which it can penetrate with considerable power and
rapidity. In order to do this, the foot is straightened, and the sharp
point is thrust perpendicularly down into the wet sand. The muscular
force exerted is sufficient to penetrate the soft sand to the whole
length, when the point is suddenly bent sidewise, thus obtaining a
strong holdfast. The whole organ is now strongly contracted in length,
and the animal and shell are dragged forcibly to the mouth of the
burrow, the edges of the valves downward and piercing the sand a little
way. The straightened point is then pushed an inch or two farther
down; again hooked, and another pull is made. The shell descends a
little farther into the yielding sand, and the same interchange of
processes goes on till the animal is sufficiently buried. To read
this description you would suppose it a most clumsy, and ineffective,
and slow business; but indeed this is very far from its character. The
elongations and contractions are made with great rapidity; and almost
with the quickness of thought the unwieldy cockle, when in full vigour
and thoroughly alarmed, disappears into his sandy fortress; so fast,
indeed, that you must be very alert to overtake him and prevent his
descent, if you have no appliances but your two hands.

Cuvier, in his elaborate and beautiful dissections of the Mollusca,
has demonstrated that this important organ is mainly composed of an
immense multitude of muscles, circular, longitudinal, and transverse,
wonderful in their complexity and arrangement, but most perfectly
adapted to impart variety, force, and precision to its movements. In
these respects the human tongue perhaps presents the closest parallel
to its organization. It is remarkable that at its upper or basal part
it is hollow, and encloses some of the viscera of the body.

BANDED VENUS.

Here, under this low-lying ledge of rock, is another shell, which in
beauty perhaps excels even the gorgeous cockle. It belongs to a genus
pre-eminent for loveliness, to which the name of the Goddess of Love
has been assigned. This is the Banded Venus.[50] The most prominent
and obvious character is that the shell-valves are covered with ribs,
more or less strongly marked, which, instead of running fan-like from
the beaks to the edges, as in the cockles, are concentric, being
parallel with the edges. In this species these ribs are well marked,
about a dozen in number, broad, flat, sharply defined, and nearly
equally distant. They impart to the shell, which is very convex, and
nearly round, an aspect of great strength combined with elegance. The
colours, too, are very ornamental: broad bands of brownish lilac,
varied with warmer tints, widening as they go, radiate from the
beaks to the margins, relieved by a whitish ground. The hues vary
in different individuals; the bands being sometimes rusty brown, or
purple; and the ground yellow, or pale orange; and the contrasts are
in some better marked than in others; but when fresh and unrubbed the
shell is always a beautiful one.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 10.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SPINOUS COCKLE.      BANDED VENUS.
]

The specimen before us is alive. I will drop it into this shallow
pool in the rock. See, the valves are opening, and a large foot of
a waxy whiteness, almost semi-pellucid, protrudes, thicker and more
ovate than that of the cockle, but not capable of such elongation. The
siphons, however, are proportionally longer; they are separate at their
extremities, and project considerably from the shell.

But while we are gazing at the beauty of our little Venus, we become
cognizant of the presence of another spectator. He has slowly come out
from beneath the shadow of that long dark-brown leaf of _Laminaria_,
that floats like a crumpled ribbon across the pool, and now rests on
the tuft of _Iridæa_, that fine scarlet weed of leathery texture, that
grows in the shaded corner. It is a Prawn;[51] and a fellow of noble
dimensions. Is he too attracted by the fair shell? or rather is not his
attention occupied by us? Yes; the latter is the true case; as you may
discern by his long-stalked eyes, steadily staring upwards. He wonders
what our two faces can mean; and, as we remain still, he ventures forth
to take a fuller view.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 11.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  COMMON SHRIMP.       GREAT PRAWN.
]

THE PRAWN’S ARMS.

An elegant creature is the common prawn, or rock-shrimp, as the
fishermen designate him, by way of distinction from another sapid
crustacean that inhabits these shores. His armour of proof, composed
of plates that slide so smoothly one under another, sustains the most
lustrous polish, and is ever subject to the animal’s efforts to keep
it so; for, whenever he has a moment’s leisure from more pressing
avocations, he is constantly engaged in cleaning it with the brushes
which those slender fore-limbs of his carry. Like a true soldier, like
a knight of chivalry, the Prawn lives, eats, sleeps in armour. How
completely is his body encased in defensive mail; and he carries his
tempered weapon too. Look at the serrate sword which he always points
at the foe whom he faces! Who would rashly provoke such a weapon as
this? Stiff and firm in substance, long, pointed, two-edged, keen on
both edges, curved sabre-like, and cut into acute teeth; it does seem
a most formidable affair: and yet, truth to tell, I do not know what
use the owner makes of it. Though I have been for many years in the
practice of keeping these elegant animals in my aquaria, I have never
seen one smite a foe with his two-edged sword. Perhaps like the cane
over the looking-glass in a nursery, its mere presence is sufficient to
keep in awe encroaching enemies, whose hearts sink when they behold the
sharp-toothed weapon.

Exquisitely painted is the Prawn. His ground colour is semi-pellucid
olive-grey, on which transverse lines of black are drawn; and specks
and dashes of sparkling white, symmetrically arranged and well defined,
are scattered here and there, especially upon the broad swimming plates
that serve as his principal instruments of locomotion. His limbs, too,
are ringed with blue and orange, a felicitous combination!

I have just alluded to the tail as a motive power. It is a very curious
organ, consisting of five plates, so hinged that they can play over
each other, or be spread out in shape of a fan, and each plate beset
on its edges with a most delicate fringe of stiff bristles. To see its
use, you have only to approach the animal. He instantly darts away with
force; all the while, however, keeping his face to the foe, as becomes
a soldier so armed. Now this retrocessive power is his great _cheval de
bataille_. When gently exploring, he crawls among the weeds on the tips
of his long feet; when swimming at ease, he glides gracefully along by
the rapid paddling of the false feet, of which he carries five pairs
beneath his abdomen. But when alarmed, he forcibly throws forward this
plated tail, expanded to the utmost, bending the last joints of the
body from the hump on his back, and thus strikes a powerful forward
blow on the water, by the impact of which the whole prawn is jerked
backward to a distance of several inches.

But he is gone; and it were useless to look for him any more in this
wilderness of sea-weeds, and amid the cavernous recesses of those rocky
ledges, where he enjoys ample means of retreat and concealment. For,
even if you did catch a momentary glimpse of him again, it would be
only as he darts from one shelter to another, and he would presently be
far out of your reach in the obscurity of some inexplorable hole.

Let us turn to the beach and follow the water’s edge. Let us see
what this fisherman is so busy about, and what that horse is doing
as he paces backward and forward belly-deep in the sea, from one end
of the beach to the other, then retracing his steps, as if he were
ploughing the shallows. And why does the fisherman watch the horse so
attentively? Hark! what says he? He shouts to the diminutive urchin
that rides the horse to come in; and now he eagerly goes down to the
edge of the sea, as the beast and his little rider come ashore. We will
go and see.

KEER-DRAG.

The man is civil and communicative, and lets us into the whole secret;
though now indeed that we are on the spot, it is sufficiently patent.
The horse draws behind him an implement called a keer-drag; a net,
which is stretched upon an oblong iron frame, that forms its mouth.
Behind, the net tapers to a point, but is left open there in the
making, and only tied with a string. The iron frame keeps the net-mouth
open, and being attached by a bridle to a rope, which is fastened to
the horse’s harness, scrapes the sea-bottom as he proceeds; whatever is
collected passing into the net, and accumulating at the narrow point.

Now the shallows just here are alive with swarms of another edible
species of crustacea, the Shrimp,[52] _par excellence_; or, as the
people here say, the sand shrimp, to distinguish it from the prawn,
which, as I have observed, they call the rock shrimp. And this sand
shrimp finds a ready sale in the Torquay market; the fisherman getting,
as he tells us, a shilling a quart from the fishmongers.

The horse, doubtless nothing loath, for his toil must be great, wading
on soft sand in three feet of water, and dragging that heavy apparatus
behind him, walks to dry land, where, as soon as the keer-drag is
ashore, the man seizes it, cries “whow!” to the obedient animal, and,
having spread a cloth on the sand, proceeds to untie the string, and
pour out on the cloth the struggling contents. “It is a very good
haul,” says the fellow; “there’s more nor two quart there!” So, being
in a good humour, and naturally civil besides, we venture to propound a
bargain; that, for a small coin of the realm, we may be allowed to pick
out all the “rubbish;” _i.e._, everything that is not a shrimp, and
convey it to our own private reservoirs; a pleasant agreement for both
parties; for the net gathers many curious creatures of great interest
to the naturalist, though of no value whatever to the fisherman.
Shrimps, however, are the staple; there are probably a hundred of these
to one of all other kinds, lumping these latter all together. And very
fine these shrimps are. Mr. Bell gives two inches and a half as the
total length of the species,[53] and I do not remember that I ever
before saw one that exceeded that size: but here, the great majority
are upwards of three inches; and a very considerable number are full
three and a half. They are mostly females loaded with spawn, which they
carry entangled among the false feet beneath the body.

SHRIMP.

In general figure the shrimp resembles the prawn: it, however,
carries no sword-like rostrum; and the front pair of feet, instead
of terminating each in a pair of claws, have a strong hook which
bends down upon a short spine. The limbs too are very much shorter,
and the animal is less elegant. The colour is a pale warm brown; but
when examined closely this is seen to resolve itself into a freckling
of black, grey, brown, and orange specks, arranged so as to make a
kaleidoscopic sort of pattern. When highly magnified many of the dots
take star-like forms.

It is amusing to see how rapidly and cleverly the shrimp takes its
place in the sand. If there be an inch or two’s depth of water, the
animal quietly sinks on the bottom; then, in a moment, you see a little
cloud of dust (so it seems) rise up along each side, and the body sinks
till the surrounding surface is nearly level with its back. Then you
perceive the value of the peculiar style of colouring: the freckling
of specks of various tints of brown, grey, and red, so exactly
resembles the hues of the sand, that you might look close at a shrimp
so sunken, and yet not discern it. The eyes, however, which are set on
the top of the head, like a Dutchman’s garret windows, are keeping a
bright watch upward, and here it lies, quiet and, against most enemies,
safe. The iron lip of the drag, however, scrapes up with its edge the
upper inch of sand-bottom, routs out the poor shrimps, which dart
upwards, to find themselves within the mouth of the ever-advancing net.
The agency in the burrowing is the false feet, which, waved rapidly to
and fro, brush up the fine sand with the currents that they make in the
water, and throw it up in those clouds on each side, presently to fall
again on the body, and help to conceal it.

FLAT-FISHES.

But there are more things than shrimps in the gleaming, working,
struggling mass of life before us. Not to mind the uncouth
soldier-crabs, dragging about their despoiled shells, which, numerous
and conspicuous as they are, we shall neglect for another occasion,--we
have other fish to fry. Here are sundry examples of that remarkable
race, the proper Flat-fishes. These thin, brown, long-oval ones are
specimens of Soles, of which there are two kinds here, the Common Sole,
uniform dull brown, and the Lemon Sole, of a more freckled tint, pale
orange brown, with darker spots.[54] The fisherman considers them
marketable if they are not less than four or five inches long, and
bundles them into his common depository, under the title of tea-dabs,
a name which sufficiently indicates their destiny.

Now every one has looked at hundreds of pairs of soles raw and ready,
but perhaps not all have ever adequately remarked the singular anomaly
presented by their structure, or are aware how unique their tribe is
among animals. That one surface is positively coloured, while the other
is fleshy white, is no great matter; for many creatures, and fishes in
particular, are darker above and paler below. The flat Rays are equally
abject, and show a like contrast of hues; but, _structurally_, the
colours in the Sole are not respectively on the back and belly, though
they are certainly above and below. These fishes, in fact, swim and lie
_on one side_; and so they have one side dark and one side light.

This habit, however, imposed upon them, involves other very important
aberrations from ordinary forms. Let us suppose that the eyes had been
placed, like those of the Chætodons (very thin, wide, and flat fishes
of the tropical seas), one on each side of the head. That eye which
belonged to the white or inferior side, would be rendered useless,
since it would be almost perpetually buried in the mud of the bottom.
Hence, by an unprecedented exception to the symmetry which marks the
organs of sense in all other vertebrate animals, both of the eyes are
placed on the same side of the head, one above the other. They are,
however, frequently not in the same line, and one is often smaller and
less developed than the other.

In addition to these peculiarities, we may remark, that the spine makes
a sudden twist near the head to one side; that the bones of the head
are not symmetrical; that the two sides of the mouth are unequal; that
the pectoral and ventral fins of the under side are generally smaller
than those of the upper; and that the dorsal and anal fins generally
correspond to each other, the one fringing the whole length of the
dorsal, the other that of the ventral edge of the body.

YARRELL ON FLAT-FISHES.

We must not suppose that these peculiarities are defects and mistakes;
nor, like Buffon, when he found some structure or habit which was
at variance with his preconceived notions of fitness, accuse the
all-wise God of bungling in His work. They are merely examples of
that inscrutable wisdom, those inexhaustible resources of power and
skill, which can and often do delight to attain the most worthy ends
by the most unexpected roads, in which we can only follow, as the
way is opened up to us, and wonderingly adore. Let us hear what
Yarrell says on these strange modifications. “The Flat-fishes ...
are, by this depressed form of body, admirably adapted to inhabit the
lowest position, and where they occupy the least space, among their
kindred fishes. Preferring sandy or muddy shores, and unprovided with
swimming-bladders, their place is close to the ground, where, hiding
their bodies horizontally in the loose soil at the bottom, with the
head only slightly elevated, an eye on the under side of the head would
be useless; but both eyes placed on the upper surface afford them an
extensive range of view in those various directions in which they may
either endeavour to find suitable food, or avoid dangerous enemies.
Light, one great cause of colour, strikes on the upper surface only;
the under surface, like that of most other fishes, remains perfectly
colourless. Having little or no means of defence, had their colour
been placed only above the lateral line on each side, in whatever
position they moved, their piebald appearance would have rendered them
conspicuous objects to all their enemies. When near the ground they
swim slowly, maintaining their horizontal position; and the smaller
pectoral and ventral fins on the under side are advantageous where
there is so much less room for their action, than with the larger fins
that are above. When suddenly disturbed, they sometimes make a rapid
shoot, changing their position from horizontal to vertical; if the
observer happens to be opposite the white side, they may be seen to
pass with the rapidity and flash of a meteor; but they soon sink down,
resuming their previous motionless, horizontal position, and are then
distinguished with difficulty, owing to their great similarity in
colour to the surface on which they rest.”[55]

On several occasions I have, when examining the contents of the
shrimpers’ nets, found a pretty little species of flat-fish, which,
though we find it not at this moment, is a pretty constant inhabitant
of these sandy beaches. It is too small and too worthless for the
fisherman to have a distinctive name for it, but our systematic books
call it a Topknot,[56] and assign to it near consanguinity with the
majestic and delicious turbot. It is marked as very rare; but I have
seen three or four come up at a haul of the drag, and have found it
among the rocks. Not long ago, I took a specimen by turning over a flat
stone in a sandy pool in this ledge. It was indeed small, not exceeding
an inch and a half in length; the ordinary size of those that occur as
the shrimps’ companions in captivity; but their utmost growth scarcely
attains five inches.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 12.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SAND-LAUNCE.         TOPKNOT.
]

TOPKNOT.

The specimen I allude to I took home, and observed at leisure. In a
white saucer it was a charming little object, though rather difficult
to examine, because, the instant the eye with the lens was brought
near, it flounced in alarm, and often leaped out upon the table. When
its fit of terror was over, however, it became still, and would allow
me to push it hither and thither, merely waving the edges of its dorsal
and ventral fins rapidly as it yielded to the impulse. The shape of
these fins gives to the outline of the fish a form resembling an
oblong parallelogram with the corners rounded, and the fan-like tail
projecting; but the outline of the body is much more oval. The first
ray of the dorsal is a little lengthened; whence the name of Topknot.
We have two little species of Turbot with this peculiarity, called
Muller’s Topknot, and Bloch’s Topknot. This was the former. Yarrell,
indeed, distinguishes the two by saying that this one has “the first
ray of the dorsal not longer than the succeeding rays;” or, in other
words, that it has no topknot at all. It may be that it is obliterated
in age, but in this half-grown specimen, it was quite conspicuous,
projecting like a little horn from the forehead, about one-fourth
longer than the second and following rays. In Bloch’s Topknot it is,
indeed, more marked, for it there runs off into a slender filament,
of more than twice the length of the rays. The fins were exquisitely
delicate, and were very pretty in their markings, every tenth or
twelfth ray being black interrupted with white; the middle ray between
these was black at the tip, and the central one of these subordinate
divisions was again more slightly specked. This had a very pretty
effect. The body was pellucid yellowish brown, studded with irregular
faint clouds and stronger specks of dark brown, and bearing one
conspicuous ring-like mark near the tail The flesh was so translucent,
that the stomach and principal viscera could be distinctly seen, and
the accumulation of the chief blood-vessels here, gave a crimson flush
to these parts.

Alarm had a curious effect, probably dependent on the quickening of
the circulation. When I tried to catch the little fish, all the spots
and markings became instantly deepened and vivified, and particularly
those of the fins, so that the change seemed magical. I have observed
the same thing in the Gobies, and some other fishes.

The eyes were very beautiful and interesting. As in all this family of
Flat-fishes, they are set close together on the same side of the head,
the upper one inclined slightly upward, the lower downward. Viewed
with a lens, the iris was seen to be pale green, with radiating dark
bands, and the pupil surrounded by an edge-line of ruddy gold. The iris
projects into the pupil with an angle, making it crescent-shaped. The
eyes move quite independently of each other, and very curious it was
to look down with a lens upon the quaint little face, and see one eye
quickly turned up towards the beholder, while the other remained still,
or presently turned in the opposite direction.

Now and then it curved the head and tail downwards, and leaped out of
water, clearing the side of the saucer in which it was confined; then,
when put back, it lay some seconds on its back (or rather on its wrong
side), with the dorsal and ventrals incurved, and thus the whole body
concave, as if in tetanus; but when turned over it soon recovered.

SAND-LAUNCE.

What is this writhing, wriggling thing, that looks like a narrow tape
of burnished silver? It is a Sand-launce,[57] and very slyly is it
endeavouring to make its way down to the rippling edge of the wave, to
liberty and life. But not so fast, pretty Launce! we want to have a
look at you, and to introduce you to a very jolly set in our aquarium
at home. Now don’t flounce and dart round the jar so angrily: you can’t
get out, and may as well be philosophic.

Do you see the remarkable projection of the lower jaws? With that sort
of spade the little silvery fish manages to scoop out a bed for itself
very quickly in the wet sand, and so lie hid. It is numerous enough in
these bays, and it is in request among fishermen, who use it largely as
bait, and who, to obtain it, cast a seine, and enclose vast multitudes,
which are thus dragged up on the beach high and dry.

A short time ago I saw a paragraph in the _Times_, from some Jersey
correspondent, who complained of the recent scarcity of fish, and
accounted for it by the following curious catenation of links. A number
of sharks had recently appeared in the offing, which frightened away
the shoals of porpesses, which ordinarily came to feed on the fishes,
which fed on the Sand-launce. Now when the porpesses were there the
fishes were driven with the Launce into the shallows, and were readily
taken; but, on being relieved of these persecutors by the intruding
sharks, were free to retire to the deeper water, where the fishers
could less easily entrap them. The writer stated, however, that at
length the sharks had departed, the porpesses had returned, the fishes
were consequently driven in shore, and were again devouring the Launce.
The whole account has something of the “House that Jack built” twang,
and I do not quite pin my faith on the philosophy of the explanation.

LAUNCE IN THE TANK.

Be that as it may, I can vouch for the Launce making a very attractive
tenant of an aquarium, where it will live a considerable time. The
pearly gleams of lustre from its sides are very beautiful, and such as
no pictorial art can reproduce.

FOOTNOTES:

[46] _Cardium rusticum_, figured at the left hand of Plate X., with the
foot thrust out and pushing.

[47] _Cardium edule._

[48] _Highlands and Islands of Scotland_, vol. iii. p. 349.

[49] _Voyage round Scotland_, vol. i. p. 460.

[50] _Venus fasciata_, of which a figure is given in the midst of the
foreground of Plate X.

[51] _Palæemon serratus_, represented in the upper figure in Plate XI.,
resting, as described, on a leaf of _Iridæa edulis_.

[52] _Crangon vulgaris_, a figure of which may be seen in the lower
part of Plate XI.

[53] _British Stalk-eyed Crustacea_, p. 257.

[54] _Solea vulgaris_, and _S. pegusa_.

[55] _British Fishes_, vol. ii. p. 298.

[56] _Rhombus punctatus_, delineated at the right-hand side of Plate
XII., adhering to a flat stone.

[57] _Ammodytes lancea_, for which see the centre of Plate XII.



V.

MAY.


We are far from having exhausted the treasures of the teeming sands.
Another visit to their broad expanse may yield other objects of
interest not inferior to those we lately discovered there. Let us,
then, seek the shore, where our humble friend the shrimper, with his
wading horse, under the guidance of his shrill-voiced little son, still
pursues his indefatigable calling.

Again the keer-drag is drawn up the tawny beach, the bag is untied, and
the sparkling, crawling, jumping heap spreads itself over the sand,
beyond the limits of the insufficient cloth.

A little silvery fish wriggles from the mass, and, by a few lateral
vibrations, in an instant buries himself in the soft wet sand, all
but the upper surface of his head and back. Our attention is drawn
towards this object; but our friend the shrimper shouts rather abruptly
a note of warning. “Mind what ye be ’bout! that ’ere’s pison! He’s a
sting-bull, he is.” Thus armed, we use caution in our approaches, and
look well before we touch. As we see it now, it certainly presents a
noteworthy appearance. A large head, with a wide mouth opening at very
upward angles; two staring eyes, set in the crown so as to look upward
instead of sideways, and intently watching our intentions; a short fin
on the back, of which the membrane is of the deepest velvet black, and
the rays, which are stout sharp spines, are white; these rays are now
stretched to the utmost, like a fan widely expanded, so as to offer
the threatening points in all directions to a foe;--these are all the
features we can discern, except a narrow line of olive presently lost
in the sand, which marks the buried body.

WEEVER.

In spite of the good man’s earnest warnings to have nothing to do with
so venomous a creature, we must contrive to take possession of it for
study at home; and by the aid of our hand-net we find no difficulty
in lifting it and transferring it, an unwilling guest, to a glass jar
of sea-water. We now discern it more fully and distinctly; though it
manifests its indignation at this tyrannical suspension of the _Habeas
Corpus_ Act, by flouncing around the glass, and scattering the water
hither and thither. This wrath, however, gradually subsides, and our
captive philosophically makes up his mind to his fate.

It is the Lesser Weever;[58] a name corrupted from the French, who call
it Vive, from the length of time which the fish will _live_ out of its
native element. It also bears the names of sting-fish, sting-bull, and
sea-cat, among English fishermen; on the shores of the Mediterranean it
bears the title of spider, and the ancient Romans called it sea-dragon.
The specific names,--_vipera_ and _draco_, viper and dragon--which are
appropriated to this species and another which is nearly allied to it,
make up an extensive list of aliases, all combining to give this pretty
little fish a thoroughly bad reputation. All these titles point to a
habit and a power possessed by it of inflicting severe wounds, which
without doubt are of a highly inflammatory character, and are slow and
difficult to cure. These are effected by the rays of the first dorsal
fin, which, as we have just seen, are erected and spread in a way
which indicates a perfect consciousness of their power, and by certain
spines, long and acute, set on the gill-covers, one on each, pointing
backward. These all are of needle-like sharpness, and are wielded most
effectively. Yarrell tells us that if trod upon, or only touched, while
on the watch, nearly buried in the sand at the bottom of the water, it
strikes with force either upwards or sideways; and Pennant says that
he had seen it direct its blows with as much judgment as a fighting
cock. Fishermen hold it in great dread; and the name of sting-bull is
said to be due to its power of piercing even the proverbial thickness
of a bull’s hide.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 13.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  FIFTEEN-SPINED STICKLEBACK.        LESSER WEEVER.
]

VENOM OF ITS SPINES.

Cuvier considers the imputation of venom to the wounds made by the
Weever as a popular error. He says, “They cannot inject into the wounds
they inflict with their spines any poisonous substance, properly so
called; but, as these spines are very strong and sharp-pointed, and can
no doubt pierce the flesh to a considerable depth, these wounds, like
all others of the same description, may produce dangerous consequences
if care is not taken to enlarge them, and to allow the blood to flow;
this perhaps, is the most certain, as the simplest remedy, and much
preferable to the boasted applications of the ancients.”

This is oracular; but it does not appear that the decision of the great
French anatomist was grounded on any definite experiments. Mr. Couch,
on the other hand, has known three men wounded successively in the hand
by the same fish (the Greater Weever), and the consequences have been
felt in a few minutes as high as the shoulder. It is certain that the
spinous bristles of certain caterpillars have the power of inflicting
envenomed wounds, which in some cases even prove fatal, notwithstanding
the minuteness of the organs, and evidence appears very strong for the
injection of some highly irritant poison by means of these prickles of
the Weevers.

The flesh of these fishes is esteemed for the table; but such is the
general apprehension of danger attendant upon touching them, heightened
also by their great tenacity of life, that the fishermen usually cut
off the first dorsal and the gill-spines as soon as they capture them;
while in Spain and France these precautions are enforced by legal
penalties, on such fishes being exposed in the market without having
been disarmed.[59]

According to Mr. Couch smart friction of the wounded part with
olive-oil is the most effectual remedy; and this fact again suggests
analogy of the evil with the effects produced by the bites of venomous
snakes and the stings of insects.[60]

Our little fish is not uncomely in its form or the distribution
of its sober colours. The upper parts are light olive, with lines
of ill-defined reddish spots running lengthwise; the sides are
silver-grey, tenderly washed with blue; the under parts pearly white:
the cheeks and operculum are richly adorned with pearly reflections;
these parts are destitute of scales, which is the chief distinction
between this species and the Greater Weever, after the size; this
species rarely exceeding five or six inches in length, whereas its
congener attains double those dimensions, and even more.

ITS HABITS.

In the tank, it is not particularly interesting; it grovels on the
bottom among the pebbles, and will cover its body with the sediment so
far as it is able; where it lies for hours, watching upward. Doubtless
this is its habitual mode of obtaining its food; lying motionless in
wait, nearly concealed, the eyes and the mouth both opening upwards,
so that the former can observe, and the latter seize, any vagrant
crustacean, or annelid, or young fish-fry that unsuspectingly swims
within reach. Its motions when its energies are aroused are rapid,
sudden, and forcible; and it probably rarely misses its victim when
it makes its snap; while the multitude of minute creatures that
roam continually over every part of the sea-bottom give no lack of
opportunities for the exercise of its instincts. He fares sumptuously,
no doubt.

Here is in the drag a specimen of an interesting tribe of fishes. It is
the young of the common Thornback, a little thing about five inches in
width, and in its infantile grace and beauty much more attractive than
the older ones we are accustomed to see on the fishmonger’s table. It
flaps and flutters in impatience at being dragged out of its element,
and exposed to ungenial air: we will quiet its anxiety by lifting it
into yonder shallow rock-pool. Now watch it. How easily and gracefully
it glides around its new abode, moving along by an undulation of the
edges of the broad pectoral fins, a movement which Yarrell describes
as something between flying and swimming. Now it lies still on the
sand-floor of the pool, motionless, save that the two oval orifices
just behind the eyes are constantly opening and closing, by the drawing
across each or back, of a film which exactly resembles an eyelid, and
which on examination with a lens we see to be edged with a delicate
fringe. The action is so closely like the winking of an eye, that an
observer seeing the fish for the first time might readily suppose
the orifices to be the organs of vision. They are, however, outlets
of the gills, called spiracles; the ordinary gill-apertures are five
on each side, placed semi-circularly on the inferior surface of the
body, as you see when I turn the fish on its back, a demonstration
which it resents and resists with all its might: these upper orifices
communicate with the gill-chambers by canals, and you may see the water
now and then strongly driven out of them.

YOUNG SKATE.

The eyes are these knobs just in front of the spiracles; or rather
these are the orbits, the pupil looking sideways and somewhat downward.
If you use the lens again, you perceive that there is a singular
protection to the pupil in the form of a fan-like array of about a
dozen stiff points arching over it.

The general form of the fish is beautifully symmetrical; it is nearly
a rhomboid, with the two front sides slightly excavated, and the two
posterior sides convex. At the point where these latter unite, there
are two smaller fins (the ventrals), and the body is continued very
slender to a considerable length, tapering to a point, near which two
upright dorsals are placed. The pectorals, as in all this tribe, are
of enormous size, forming the lateral angles of the rhomboid, and
extending in front of the head to the tip of the snout.

The colours are beautiful, but not at all gaudy. A warm olive brown is
the ground hue, on which numerous roundish black spots, with softly
blending outlines, are set in symmetrical patterns, and there are also
rows of pale spots. This combination of hues is elegant. The slender
prolongation of the body is edged with a narrow stripe of pure white.
The colour of the whole under surface is richly iridescent, like
mother-of-pearl.

At present we see only a few of the curved spines appearing, chiefly
in the vicinity of the eyes, which in the adult become so conspicuous
and remarkable; being something like strong rose-spines, each set on an
oval button of bone, imbedded in the skin.

STICKLEBACK.

Another draught presents us with the Fifteen-spined Stickleback,[61] a
little fish, remarkable for its form, but much more so for its habits.
It is ordinarily about five or six inches in length, very slender and
lithe, from which circumstance, combined with a protrusion of the
jaws, which gives it a sinister expression, it is on some parts of
the coast called the Sea-Adder. The lower jaw projects considerably
beyond the upper, which indicates that the fish habitually takes its
food from a point above the level of its own body. The dorsal and
anal fins are high and short, so as to form, when erected, nearly
equal-sided triangles; but the former is preceded by fifteen minute
sharp erectile spines, each of which has its own little membrane, and
all together represent the spinous portion of the dorsal fin in such
fishes as have but one, as the Blennies, or the first dorsal in such
as have two, as the Weevers. The caudal is narrowly lozenge-formed, as
ordinarily carried, but becomes fan-like when expanded. The colours are
deep sepia, or olive-brown, cast into streaks and irregular clouds, on
the sides, where they are interrupted by white, and by a rich golden
yellow, that extends over the inferior surface: the dorsal and anal
fins are white, each crossed by a broad conspicuous band of brown; the
eyes have golden irides.

We frequently see this attractive little fish hovering about the long
tufts of wrack and tangle that hang from perpendicular rocks, and
from the quays and wharves of our harbours. It diligently hunts about
for its minute crustacean prey, in picking off which it assumes all
varieties of position “between the horizontal and perpendicular, with
the head downward or upward,” thrusting its projecting snout into the
tufted weed, and snatching its morsel with a sudden jerk.

It is, however, in its domestic relations that this little fish
presents itself in the most interesting aspect. It was known ages ago
to Aristotle, that some fishes are in the habit of forming nests, in
which they deposit their eggs, and bring up their young with a parental
care not inferior to that of birds. Until lately, however, this fact
was supposed to be fabulous; and fishes were believed by the greatest
masters of modern zoology to be utterly destitute of the parental
instinct. Recent research has in this, as in so many instances, proved
the exactitude of the old Stagyrite’s knowledge, and we now know that
several fishes of different families nidificate. The Sticklebacks, most
of which inhabit in common our marine and fresh waters, are remarkable
for the manifestation of this faculty, as was first shown by Mr.
Crookenden, of Lewisham, in 1834, and as has since been proved, with
many interesting details, by Mr. A. Hancock and Mr. Warington. Our
Sea-Adder, which is exclusively marine, was first ascertained to be a
nest-builder by the late Dr. George Johnston, who mentioned the fact in
the “Transactions of the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club” in 1839. But
the most interesting account is that of Mr. R. Q. Couch, who noticed
the facts on the coast of Cornwall, and thus records them in a paper
read before the Royal Institution of that county:--

ITS NEST.

“During the summers of 1842 and 1843, while searching for the naked
mollusks of the county, I occasionally discovered portions of sea-weed
and the common coralline (_Corallina officinalis_) hanging from the
rocks in pear-shaped masses, variously intermingled with each other.
On one occasion, having observed that the mass was very curiously
bound together by a slender, silken-looking thread, it was torn open,
and the centre was found to be occupied by a mass of transparent,
amber-coloured ova, each being about the tenth of an inch in diameter.
Though examined on the spot with a lens, nothing could be discovered
to indicate their character. They were, however, kept in a basin, and
daily supplied with sea-water, and eventually proved to be the young
of some fish. The nest varies a great deal in size, but rarely exceeds
six inches in length, or four inches in breadth. It is pear-shaped, and
composed of sea-weed or the common coralline as they hang suspended
from the rock. They are brought together, without being detached from
their places of growth, by a delicate opaque white thread. This thread
is highly elastic, and very much resembles silk, both in appearance
and texture: this is brought round the plants, and tightly binds them
together, plant after plant, till the ova, which are deposited early,
are completely hidden from view. This silk-like thread is passed in all
directions through and around the mass, in a very complicated manner.
At first the thread is semi-fluid, but by exposure it solidifies; and
hence contracts and binds the substance forming the nest so closely
together that it is able to withstand the violence of the sea, and
may be thrown carelessly about without derangement. In the centre are
deposited the ova, very similar to the masses of frog-spawn in ditches.

“Some of these nests are formed in pools, and are consequently always
in water: others are frequently to be found between tide-marks, in
situations where they hang dry for several hours in the day; but
whether in the water or liable to hang dry, they are always carefully
watched by the adult animal. On one occasion I repeatedly visited one
every day for three weeks, and invariably found it guarded. The old
fish would examine it on all sides, and then retire for a short time,
but soon returned to renew the examination. On several occasions I laid
the eggs bare, by removing a portion of the nest; but when this was
discovered, great exertions were made to re-cover them. By the mouth of
the fish the edges of the opening were again drawn together, and other
portions torn from their attachments and brought over the orifice, till
the ova were again hid from view. And as great force was sometimes
necessary to effect this, the fish would thrust its snout into the
nest as far as the eyes, and then jerk backwards till the object was
effected. While thus engaged it would suffer itself to be taken by
the hand, but repelled any attack made on the nest, and quitted not
its post so long as I remained; and to those nests that were left
dry between tide-marks, the guardian fish always returned with the
returning tide, nor did they quit the post to any great distance till
again carried away by the receding tide.”

It is worthy of note that the newly-hatched young from these nests
were so unlike the full-grown Stickleback, and so like the common
smooth Blenny, that Mr. Couch concluded that there had been some error
in his observation, and that the nest truly belonged to the latter
fish. Further research, however, proved that the Stickleback was
indeed the parent; and the transition from the infantile Blenny-like
outline of the face, high, bluff, and almost perpendicular, to the true
Stickleback outline, long, slender, pointed, with the far-projecting
lower jaw, is something remarkable.

CRABS.

But now the tide has reached its lowest mark; and as we wander over
the wet sand at its very verge, our attention is attracted by every
tiny object that breaks the uniform level, even at a considerable
distance. Some of these are worm-casts thrown up by busy Annelids,
working away in the sand to reach a lower and therefore a wetter level,
as the upper stratum dries in the sun. But others are Crabs, of two or
three species. One of them is the somewhat uncommon and very beautiful
_Portumnus variegatus_, of which a great number are left by the sea,
but all of them dead; some of them, however, from their freshness,
only recently defunct. The shape of the carapace, or body-shell, is
very elegant, and the colours, though sober--a light drab, mottled and
pencilled with pale lilac--are pleasing: the hindmost pair of feet
terminate in thin swimming-plates, but they are narrow, and exhibit the
natatory character in only a subordinate degree.

Other Crabs are alive and active, though, to be sure, in a somewhat
sluggish way. Here we catch sight of a slight movement in the wet
sand, and, stooping, we perceive a pair of antennæ, much beset with
short bristles, projecting from the surface. They wag to and fro,
and presently up pushes a shelly head, with its pair of stalked and
jointed eyes, and two tremendously long angular arms, furnished with
awkward-looking nippers at their extremities. Another effort, and
the whole Crab emerges from his sandy burrow, and displays his pale
buff-coloured shell, wrinkled across, and armed with sharp spiny points
at its front and edges. We easily take him up, for his means of escape
are feeble, as he uncouthly shuffles on his short legs over the sand;
and his bellicose instincts are not strongly developed, nor, if they
were, have those long levers of arms any formidable powers of offence.
Latreille gave to the genus the title of _Corystes_; which signifies a
warrior armed for battle, from κόρυς, a helmet, but its inoffensiveness
belies the appellation.[62] Pennant had already conferred on the
species the name of _Cassivelaunus_, the ancient British chief
immortalized by Cæsar. If you were to ask me why this obscure crab
should bear a name so renowned, I can answer only by conjecture. The
carapace is marked by wrinkles, which, while in some specimens they
suggest nothing, in others, especially old males, bear the strongest
and most ludicrous resemblance to the face of an ancient man. I have
taken specimens in which the _vraisemblance_ was so perfect as to
strike me, and others to whom I showed it, with amazement. Now Pennant,
as is well known, had strong sympathies with his British ancestry;
and perhaps, by a not extravagant stretch of imagination, his playful
fancy saw the features of the grand old Celtic warrior perpetuated on
this Crab, which he first met with, too, be it remembered, on the Welsh
coast.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 14.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  MASKED CRAB.
]

USE OF THE ANTENNÆ.

Mr. Couch, in his Cornish Fauna, notices the unusual length of the
antennæ. “These organs,” he says, “are of some use beyond their common
office of feelers; perhaps, as in some other crustaceans, they assist
in the process of excavation; and, when soiled by labour, I have seen
the Crab effect their cleaning by alternately bending the joints of
their stalks, which stand conveniently angular for this purpose.
Each of the long antennæ is thus drawn along the brush that fringes
the internal face of the other, until both are cleared of every
particle that adhered to them.” This suggested use of the antennæ
does not seem to me to be a very felicitous guess of the excellent
Cornish naturalist: I should fancy them to be somewhat inefficient
instruments in excavation: perhaps I can help him to a better. I have
observed that, when these Crabs are kept in an aquarium, they are
fond of sitting bolt upright, the antennæ placed close together, and
also pointing straight upward from the head. This is, doubtless, the
attitude in which the animal sits in its burrow, for the tips of the
antennæ may often be seen just projecting from the sand. When the
chosen seat has happened to be so close to the glass side of the tank
as to bring the antennæ within the range of a pocket lens, I have
minutely investigated these organs, without disturbing the old warrior
in his meditation. I immediately saw, on each occasion, that a strong
current of water was continuously pouring up from the points of the
approximate antennæ. Tracing this to its origin, it became evident that
it was produced by the rapid vibration of the foot-jaws, drawing in
the surrounding water, and pouring it off upwards _between the united
antennæ_, as through a long tube. Then, on examining these organs, I
perceived that the form and arrangement of their bristles did indeed
constitute each antenna a semi-tube, so that when the pair were brought
face to face the tube was complete. It is difficult to make this
arrangement intelligible by mere words; but I may say that if either of
the antennæ were broken off in the middle and viewed vertically, the
bristles would be seen to project from each side of the inner face,
in a curved form, each making about a fourth of a circle, so that the
two corresponding bristles enclose, with the body of the antenna,
a semicircle. Of course, those of the opposite antenna make another
semicircle, and, when placed face to face, the points of the bristles
just cross each other, and a circle is enclosed. Now, the whole length
of the antennæ (about an inch and a half) is closely beset with these
bristles, and thus a long row of rings is formed with very narrow
interspaces between them; and these rings do in effect constitute a
tube quite sufficient to retain the stream of water that is poured
through it.

I think then that we may, with an approach to certainty, conclude
that the long antennæ are intended to keep a passage open through the
sand, from the bottom of the burrow to the superincumbent water, for
the purpose of pouring off the waste water, rendered effete by having
bathed the gills: and it is one of those exquisite contrivances and
appropriations of structure to habit which are so constantly exciting
our admiration in the handiwork of the ever blessed God, which cannot
be predicated by the _à priori_ reasoner, however astute, but are ever
rewarding the research of the patient observer.

Our walk along the sands with steady downcast poring gaze suddenly
ends, and we find ourselves among low ledges of black rock (ruddy,
however, in its recent fractures, for it is the old red sandstone),
clad with sweltering weed, and intersected by little sparkling pools
and basins, in which the tiny fishes and entangled prawns shoot
hither and thither at our approach. It is the low-lying ridge in the
midst of the broad sandy bight that I have already spoken of. Well,
_n’importe_; there is plenty of game to be obtained here, and all is
fish that comes to our net. What have we here, creeping over the broad
brown leathery leaf of this _Laminaria_? Is it a little scrap torn
from an old newspaper? It looks like it at the first glance, only that
it moves steadily onward with a smooth gliding motion, which shows
that it possesses a life of its own. Examine it closely: it is exactly
like a bit of white paper, about as large as a rose leaf, and cut into
that shape, only with an even edge, its clear white surface marked all
over with black parallel lines, some thinner, some thicker, running
lengthwise, and as clear as if drawn with a pen. What answers to the
base of the leaf is the head of the creature, the pointed end being the
tail, where the two most strongly marked black lines meet; from the
head end arise two curious ear-like leaflets, which are studded with
crowded black dots, and are thrown back upon the general surface. With
a lens we may discern on the surface of the body, just between these
ear-like tentacles, a group of black specks. These are ascertained
to be veritable eyes, notwithstanding their number, for they have
a cornea, a light-refracting body surrounded with pigment, and a
nerve-bulb.

LINED EURYLEPTA.

As the animal glides over the surface of the smooth weed, or over the
inequalities of the rough rock, we see that its thin papery margin is
frequently thrown up into waves, or folds, more or less distinctly
revealing the inferior surface. The movement is very even and uniform,
but the mode by which it is effected has not been satisfactorily
explained. It has been asserted that certain staff-like bristles which
project from the skin are used as oars, but this seems doubtful. It
is certain that the whole body of the animal, as of the entire class
to which it belongs, is densely clothed with minute vibratory cilia;
and these, while they probably serve as organs of locomotion in freely
swimming, do also without doubt make the whole skin a highly delicate
and sensitive organ of touch.

It is asserted of the near allies of this species, and probably is
equally true in this case, that if an individual be cut to pieces,
every portion continues to live and feel, from whatever part of the
body it may be taken; and what is not a little remarkable, each piece,
even if it be the end of the tail, as soon as the first moment of pain
and irritation has passed, begins to move in the same direction as that
in which the entire animal was advancing, as if the body were actuated
throughout by the same impulse; and, moreover, every division, even
if it is not more than the eighth or tenth part of the creature, will
become complete and perfect in all its organs.[63]

You would naturally expect to find the creature’s mouth at the front
end, where the two tentacles are placed, and the group of eyes, but
you would search for it there in vain. It is, in fact, situated most
strangely in the very midst of the belly; that is, at the very centre
of the inferior surface. And its structure is not less peculiar than
its locality. It consists of an orifice, in the midst of which lies a
sort of trumpet of enormous extent when opened, but when not in active
use thrown into many folds, which, when the animal wishes to seize
prey, are thrust forth, and being partly opened, take the appearance
of many irregular tentacles radiating in all directions, at the centre
of which is the œsophagus, leading immediately into a much ramified
intestine. The name which is given to this elegant and interesting
creature is _Eurylepta vittata_.[64]

[Illustration:

  PLATE 15.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._         LEIGHTON, BROS.

  BANDED FLAT-WORM.        LONG-WORM.
]

But here is another member of the same class of strange creatures.
On turning up a large flat stone, we expose to the light of day what
might readily be mistaken for a very long thong of black leather,
or rather a narrow strip of Indian-rubber, twisted and tied together,
and coiled in all possible contortions. If you take hold of it, you
find it not so easy to secure it as you expected, for it is excessively
lubricous and soft, and withal so extensile and so tough, that you may
pull one of the coils to almost any length without lifting the rest
of the creature. However, you at last contrive to raise the slippery
subject, and commit it safe to your tank at home, in which it will
live an indefinite while; often invisible for weeks at a time, lying
concealed under some of the stones, then seen perhaps in every corner
of your aquarium at once, stretching from one stone to another, and
coiling around every groin and projection, folded back upon itself,
until in the multitude of convolutions you despair of finding head,
tail, or any end at all to the uncouth vermin. You may soon discover
the signs of its presence, however, in another way, for its voracity
is great, and it is a ferocious foe to the tube-dwelling worms; such
as the lovely _Sabellæ_ and _Serpulæ_, thrusting its serpent-like head
into their tubes, and dragging out the hapless tenant to be quickly
swallowed.

LONG-WORM.

The animal is named _Nemertes Borlasii_, or sometimes _Borlasia
longissima_, in allusion to Dr. Borlase, the historian of Cornwall. It
is also occasionally termed the Long-worm, _par excellence_, a name
whose appropriateness will appear from the fact that it sometimes
reaches a length of thirty feet, with a breadth of an eighth of an inch.

Mr. Kingsley has drawn the portrait of this ciliated worm; and if he
has painted it in somewhat dark colours, and manifested more than a
common measure of antipathy to it, we must confess that the physical
and moral lineaments of the subject do in some degree justify the
description. I will quote his vivid words.

ITS FORM AND HABITS.

“There are animals in which results so strange, fantastic, even
seemingly horrible, are produced, that fallen man may be pardoned if
he shrinks from them in disgust. That, at least, must be a consequence
of our own wrong state; for everything is beautiful and perfect in its
place. It may be answered, ‘Yes, in its place; but its place is not
yours. You had no business to look at it, and must pay the penalty for
intermeddling.’ I doubt that answer: for surely, if man have liberty to
do anything, he has liberty to search out freely his Heavenly Father’s
works; and yet every one seems to have his antipathic animal, and I
know one bred from his childhood to zoology by land and sea, and bold
in asserting, and honest in feeling, that all without exception is
beautiful, who yet cannot, after handling, and petting, and admiring
all day long every uncouth and venomous beast, avoid a paroxysm of
horror at the sight of the common house-spider. At all events, whether
we were intruding or not, in turning this stone, we must pay a fine for
having done so; for there lies an animal, as foul and monstrous to the
eye as ‘hydra, gorgon, or chimera dire,’ and yet so wondrously fitted
for its work, that we must needs endure for our own instruction to
handle and look at it. Its name I know not (though it lurks here under
every stone), and should be glad to know. It seems some very ‘low’
Ascarid or Planarian worm. You see it? That black, slimy, knotted lump
among the gravel, small enough to be taken up in a dessert-spoon. Look
now, as it is raised and its coils drawn out. Three feet! Six--nine
at least, with a capability of seemingly endless expansion; a slimy
tape of living caoutchouc, some eighth of an inch in diameter, a dark
chocolate-black, with paler longitudinal lines. Is it alive? It hangs
helpless and motionless, a mere velvet string across the hand. Ask the
neighbouring Annelids and the fry of the rock fishes, or put it into a
vase at home, and see. It lies motionless, trailing itself among the
gravel; you cannot tell where it begins or ends; it may be a strip of
dead sea-weed, _Himanthalia lorea_, perhaps, or _Chorda filum_; or even
a tarred string. So thinks the little fish who plays over and over it,
till he touches at last what is too surely a head. In an instant a
bell-shaped sucker mouth has fastened to its side. In another instant,
from one lip, a concave double proboscis, just like a tapir’s (another
instance of the repetition of forms), has clasped him like a finger,
and now begins the struggle; but in vain. He is being ‘played’ with
such a fishing-rod as the skill of a Wilson or a Stoddart never could
invent; a living line, with elasticity beyond that of the most delicate
fly-rod, which follows every lunge, shortening and lengthening,
slipping and twining round every piece of gravel and stem of sea-weed,
with a tiring drag such as no Highland wrist or step could ever bring
to bear on salmon or trout. The victim is tired now; and slowly, yet
dexterously, his blind assailent is feeling and shifting along his
side, till he reaches one end of him; and then the black lips expand,
and slowly and surely the curved finger begins packing him end foremost
down into the gullet, where he sinks, inch by inch, till the swelling
which marks his place is lost among the coils, and he is probably
macerated into a pulp long before he has reached the opposite extremity
of his cave of doom. Once safe down, the black murderer contracts
again into a knotted heap, and lies like a boa with a stag inside him,
motionless and blest.”[65]

FOOTNOTES:

[58] _Trachinus vipera_, represented by the lower figure in Plate XIII.

[59] So old Drayton, in his “Polyolbion” sings, quaintly enough, and
with a noble defiance of grammar:--

  “The Weever, which, although his prickles venom be,
  By fishers cut away, which buyers seldom see,
  Yet for the fish he bears, ’tis not accounted bad.”


[60] Since the above was written, the question has been set at rest, by
Dr. Günther’s and Mr. Byerley’s actual discovery of poison-glands in
connexion with these spines.

[61] _Gasterosteus spinachia_, represented by the upper figure in Plate
XIII.

[62] It is depicted in Plate XIV.

[63] Jones’s _Animal Kingdom_, p. 90.

[64] This species, together with the following, is represented on Plate
XV.; the latter coiled among the stones, and preparing to attack a
_Serpula_.

[65] _Glaucus_, p. 103.



VI.

JUNE.


We are on the narrow shingle-beach of Maidencombe, or, sometimes, more
familiarly, Minnicombe; one of the slight indentations of this line of
coast, which, from the mouth of the Exe to Start Point, runs nearly
north and south, and so looks right up-channel, and receives the full
violence of the keen and blustering east winds.

Away down the gentle slope till we come to the line where the wavelets
are kissing the rock, where the next step would put us into King
Canute’s circumstances, where the sea is washing to and fro the
shaggy weed, and just preventing it from assuming the shrivelled and
blackened condition, into which the tufts a little above are fast
falling under the baking powers of this June sun; and here, on these
very weeds, now submerged, now dry, are crawling some uncouth beings
of a dark liver colour or purple-brown hue. The creature passes by the
name of Sea-hare;[66] a not inappropriate designation, for I have
often seen it in postures when the resemblance to a couching hare was
spontaneously suggested. Around Weymouth, where it is common, the
fishermen and shore-boys call it the Sea-cow; which is not a bad hit,
though not so happy as that of hare. In each case, the feature which
strikes the imagination and suggests the comparison with the quadruped,
is the pair of tentacles which stand erect, but a little diverging,
from the back of the head, and which consist of an expanded lamina
infolded at the base, and, as it were, cut off slantingly, so as to
look like a hare’s ears. There are, indeed, two pairs of tentacles
of similar structure; but the front pair are more commonly stretched
forward horizontally, and held near the ground, so as to be much less
conspicuous.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 16.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SEA-HARE.
]

SEA-HARE.

The animal is one of the Sea-slugs, allied, not remotely, to the
_Doris_ and the lovely _Eolis_, which occupied our attention some time
ago. The order to which it belongs is, however, distinguished from them
by having the breathing organs covered. In our Sea-hare these take the
form of complicated leaflets, which are placed upon the middle of
the back, and are protected by a broad plate of shell, somewhat like
a watch-glass of irregular outline, very thin and transparent, and
very brittle when dry. During life, this shelly plate is imbedded in
the substance of the skin of the back, a thin layer of which clothes
it; so thin that it can be very readily seen and felt notwithstanding.
The mantle is much developed, forming two great irregular wing-like
lobes, which stand up on each side of the body, and at pleasure either
arch over the gill-shield, or are depressed, and widely expose it.
It is reported that these mantle-lobes are capable of being used as
swimming-fins, by their undulations; but I doubt the correctness of the
observation.

When full-grown, our Sea-hare is three inches in length, and upwards
of an inch high. Its body is of a slimy, fleshy, slug-like texture,
varying much in colour; sometimes being dark olive-green, sometimes
red-brown, sometimes deep purple, occasionally clouded with blue:
sometimes the hue is uniform; at others, it is varied by light dots, or
handsomely marked with dark rings enclosing white areas. Its figure is
extremely versatile; so that, when crawling, it scarcely exhibits the
same outline for two minutes together.

See what has happened. On dropping one of the slimy beasts into this
phial of clear sea-water, it immediately resented the incarceration
by beginning to pour out from beneath the lobes of the mantle a thin
stream of fluid of the most royal purple hue, which freely diffused
itself through the water. And see! it is still copiously exuding; and
the whole contents of the bottle are now fast becoming of so fine and
rich a tinge, as already to veil the form of the animal. Attempts
have been made to employ this secretion in the arts; but the hue is
fleeting. According to Cuvier, it assumes in drying the beautiful
deep hue of the flower known as the sweet scabious, and remains
long unaltered by exposure to the air. The purple tint is readily
transferred to spirit, when the animal is immersed in it; the tincture
retains the colour for a while, but ultimately becomes of a deep clear
port-wine tint. Linen, dyed with the fluid, soon fades to a dingy brown.

It is a curious coincidence that this mollusk possesses a more
recondite analogy with herbivorous mammalia, than a fleeting
resemblance of form. Professor Grant has shown that it has three
stomachs, like the ruminants. First, a short narrow gullet dilates
into a large membranous crop; a curved bag, which is generally filled
with pieces of coarse sea-weed. This large crop or paunch occupies the
right side of the body, and opens laterally into the middle stomach,
which is the smallest of all, and performs the part of the gizzard. Its
coats are thickened; and the interior callous lining is besat with
firm horny processes, in the form of rhomboidal plates or molar teeth,
which serve to compress the softened vegetable matter transmitted in
small portions from the first stomach. The third cavity of this complex
apparatus is placed on the left side of the body; its interior surface
is studded with sharp, horny spines, resembling canine teeth, to pierce
and subdivide the coarse food, and thus prepare it for the action of
the gastric juice and other fluids accessory to digestion, which enter
the stomach from adjacent organs.[67]

The complexity of this structure has reference to the coarseness of
the materials on which the animal subsists; the leathery fronds of the
olive sea-weeds, which slowly and with difficulty yield their nutritive
elements to the digestive functions.

This great, flabby Sea-Slug has a mythic history full of wild romance.
Our species has been often called _depilans_, because the fluid which
exudes from it was said to have the power of causing the hair to
fall from the human head which it touched; and the common species of
Southern Europe retains the appellation in the records of science. The
Mediterranean fishermen have so great a horror of it that no bribes
will induce them to handle it willingly; and they tell strange stories
of wounds being produced, limbs being mortified, and even death itself
being caused, by accidental or foolhardy contact with the potent
creature.

Bohadsch has given, on the authority of personal observation, a
minutely circumstantial account, which it seems a hyper-scepticism to
doubt. When removed from the sea, and placed in a vessel, there exuded
a large quantity of a limpid and somewhat mucilaginous fluid, exhaling
a sweetish, sickening, peculiar smell: but besides this, and distinct
from its purple secretion, the _Aplysia_ excreted also a milky liquor,
formed in an internal conglobate gland, which seems to be analogous to
the kidney of vertebrate animals. As often as he took the _Aplysia_
from the vase of sea-water and placed it on a plate with the view of
more narrowly examining its structure, the room was filled with a
nauseous odour, compelling his wife and brother to leave the room, lest
sickness and vomiting should follow. He himself could scarcely endure
it, and during the examination had repeatedly to go out and breathe a
purer air. His hands and cheeks swelled after handling the creature for
any length of time, and as often as it ejaculated its milky secretion;
but he is uncertain whether the swelling of the face proceeded from
the halitus merely, or from his having accidentally touched it with
the hand besmeared with the liquid: probably the latter was the real
cause, for when he purposely applied some of it to his chin, some hairs
fell from the part.[68]

We may add to this account, as being in a measure confirmatory of its
probability, the statement of a perfectly dependable naturalist, Mr.
Charles Darwin, that he found a species of _Aplysia_ at St. Jago,
one of the Cape Verd Isles, from which “an acrid secretion, which is
spread over its body, causes a sharp stinging sensation, similar to
that produced by the Physalia,[69] or Portuguese man-of-war.”[70] And
yet I have myself freely handled _Aplysiæ_ in health and vigour, both
here and on the coast of Jamaica, without perceiving the slightest
unpleasant sensation.

ITS BAD CHARACTER.

But in the days of ancient Rome the poor Sea-hare had a far more
terrific reputation. In those dark days of the Empire when no one’s
life was secure against insidious assassination, and when professed
poisoners were at the command of such as could afford to pay their
hire, this mollusk was an essential element of the fatal draught.
“Locusta used it to destroy such as were inimical to Nero; it entered
into the potion which she prepared for the tyrant himself; and Domitian
was accused of having given it to his brother Titus. To search after
the Sea-hare was to render one’s-self suspected; and when Apuleius
was accused of magic, because, forsooth, he had induced a rich widow
to marry him, the principal proof against him was that he had hired
the fishermen to procure him this fearful animal.”[71] He succeeded,
however, in showing, to the satisfaction of his judges, that his object
was merely the gratification of laudable scientific curiosity.

TUSK-SHELL.

Peering into the deep and narrow fissures with which the rocky ledge
is cleft, we observe some shells which properly belong to the deep
sea bottom, but have been doubtless washed into the shallow, by some
heavy ground-swell, and left where we now see them. Here are several
fragments, and one or two nearly perfect specimens, of what looks like
an elephant’s tusk in miniature, but is really the shell of a small
Gastropod mollusk commonly known as the Tusk-shell.[72] In colour,
form, and curvature, the resemblance is complete, but the length of a
perfect shell rarely exceeds an inch and a half, with a diameter of
one-eighth of an inch at the larger end. The animal is remarkable for
having long been a subject of dispute with learned zoologists as to
its true affinities; by some being considered as a true mollusk allied
to the Limpets, by others as a worm allied to the _Serpulæ_. Anatomy
determines it to be rightly located by the former opinion, and yet the
possession of red blood, and some other peculiarities belonging to the
_Annelida_, indicate a curious relationship with this class, so that we
may consider it as one of those interesting forms which link together
two great divisions of the animal kingdom.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 17.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  LIGIA.      TORBAY BONNET.      TUSK-SHELL.
]

When the Tusk-shell is found alive, we rarely can see more of the
soft parts than a sort of white cushion occupying the mouth of the
shell, and occasionally protruding or receding, with a little conical
point projecting from the centre of it. You might keep it for weeks,
as I have done, and see no more, by the most assiduous watching, than
this; but at some fortunate moment you might perchance see the whole
foot, of which this little cone is the extremity, thrust far out of
the cushion-like collar, when you would discern a wide lobed membrane,
fringing the base of the foot, trumpet-like in shape, or resembling the
blossom of a convolvulus, with the thick and pointed foot projecting
from its centre like a pistil.

These sluggish white mollusks ordinarily live on the muddy
sea-floor, or burrow in it, where they devour minuter animals, such
as _Foraminifera_, and the spawn and larval forms of their fellow
_Mollusca_. They are rarely taken alive at a less depth than ten
fathoms.

TORBAY BONNET.

But we have also an example of a much rarer shell, the Torbay Bonnet,
or Cap of Liberty.[73] The shape, which is exactly that of the ancient
Phrygian bonnet, or the modern emblem of liberty, is sufficiently
commemorated in all the appellations by which it is known, both
scientific and popular. This specimen is but an empty shell, but the
freshness of the colours, and the beautiful polish of the interior
show that the animal cannot have been long dead, for the porcellaneous
smoothness and gloss of shells very soon become defaced after their
exposure by the death and decay of the soft parts. The interior of this
shell is of a most lovely rose-pink, very glossy, and the exterior is
nearly of the same hue, though this is concealed by a horny skin which
closely invests it, and is covered with a shaggy pile that projects
even beyond the edge, in the form of a ragged yellow fringe. This rough
epidermis is of a hue varying from a bright yellow-olive to a dull
wood-brown; it is frequently rubbed off in the upper parts, when the
natural hue of the shell is there seen.

This species is rare enough, and large enough, and handsome enough to
be a prize worth finding, when picked up in so fresh a condition
as this; but, of course, it is more valuable when it occurs in a
living state. But this scarcely ever happens except by dredging, or by
trawling. I have frequently had it brought to me by trawlers both at
Weymouth and Tenby, oftenest by the former, who get it in deep water,
from thirty to fifty fathoms, on the western side of Portland.

The living animal is not unworthy of its elegantly painted house. Its
colour is usually pale yellow, with a rose-pink mantle, bordered by a
fine orange-coloured fringe. The head is large and swollen, furnished
with tentacles, which carry the eyes at their bases. The tongue-ribbon
carries seven rows of teeth, of which the central one differs in shape
from the rest.

I have kept a specimen in the aquarium for a considerable time, with
very little addition to my knowledge as the result. It remained
adhering to the scallop shell on which it was found almost all the time
I had it, occasionally shifting a hair’s-breadth to the one side or
the other. Almost always the fringed edge of the shell was so closely
applied to the support as absolutely to forbid intrusion; but now and
then a very slight lifting of the edge all round gave me the narrowest
possible peep at the broad cream-coloured foot adhering to its rest.
Thus it went on tantalizing me, till after some months I lost it, I
forget how.

A close ally of this form is a pretty shell which we often obtain by
dredging, called the Cup-and-Saucer Limpet. It is a pretty little white
porcellaneous cone, with a curved plate of thin shell projecting from
the side of the interior, like a semi-cup within the cup. It is named
_Calyptræa_. Both this and the Torbay Bonnet have been ascertained
to manifest domestic instincts, in sitting on their eggs till they
are hatched. According to MM. Audouin and Milne Edwards, the parent
_Calyptræa_ “disposes them under her belly, and preserves them, as
it were imprisoned, between the foot and the foreign body to which
she adheres, her patelloid shell thus serving not only to cover and
protect herself, but as a shield to her offspring. These eggs are oval
bodies of a yellow colour, enclosed in membranous capsules, which
are elliptical, flattened, translucid, and filled with an albuminous
matter. The number of these little capsules varies from six to ten;
they are connected among themselves by a footstalk, so as to represent
a sort of rosette; each of them contains from eight to ten eggs. It
appears that the young _Calyptræa_ are developed under this sort of
maternal roof, and do not quit it until they are in a condition to
affix themselves, and are provided with a shell sufficiently hard to
protect their own bodies.”[74]

LOCUST SCREW.

Along the margins of these shallow rock-pools with sandy bottoms, we
see many little grey shrimp-like creatures, with thick-set arching
bodies, which swim rapidly, and with much vibration of the abdominal
feet, from weed to weed. If we catch one and lay it on the rock or on
the wet sand, it appears very helpless, for its vertically thin shape
and arched attitude preclude the possibility of its crawling: it falls
upon its side, and vainly struggles round and round as on a pivot, or
makes aimless jerks by throwing out the tail. It is of a greenish blue,
or glaucous colour, marked with red dots. This is the common Locust
Screw,[75] which is so confined to sea-water, that it has been affirmed
that if put into fresh water it presently dies. But the experiments of
Mr. Robertson negative this statement:[76] he has found that five out
of seven, after being eighteen hours in rain-water, continued to live
upon being returned to salt water.

I delight to trace the manifestations of parental love in these tiny
forms of animal life. It had long been known that the females of this
species display a solicitude for their infant offspring, which they
carry for some time about with them; but the following very pleasing
details of maternal manners have recently been observed by my relative,
Dr. James Salter, and by him communicated to the learned zoologists who
are now engaged upon the history of this order:--

“On catching a female with live larvæ, nothing is seen of the progeny
till the parent has become at home in the aquarium, when the little
creatures leave her, and swim about in her immediate neighbourhood. The
plan I have adopted to watch this curious habit of maternal protection
has been to place a single individual in a bottle of sea-water. After
a time, and that soon, the little crustacean seems at ease, and swims
slowly about, when the young fry leave, and swarm around her in a
perfect cloud; they never leave for more than half or three-quarters of
an inch, and as she slowly moves about they accompany her. If, now, one
taps the sides of the bottle with one’s finger-nail, the swarm of larvæ
rush under their parent, and in a second are out of sight. The parent
now becomes excited, and swims about quickly, as if trying to escape;
but on letting the bottle containing her rest quite still on a table,
she soon gets composed, when out come the young larvæ again, and swim
about as before. This may be repeated as often as the observer wishes,
and always with the same result. I have only seen this in one species,
but it is quite a common species in Poole Harbour, and I have watched
the interesting habit many times.”[77]

FRESH-WATER SCREW.

Every little stream and ditch of running water in our lanes and fields
abounds with a species, which, except for the fresh-water habit, and
a little difference in the shade of colour,--the latter being of a
yellowish, instead of a bluish grey,--is so absolutely identical with
the Locust Screw, that, notwithstanding it is registered under a name
of its own, _Gammarus pulex_, it is difficult to believe that the two
are not of common parentage. Certain facts observed in Sweden give
colour to such a suspicion. The large inland seas of fresh water, Lakes
Wetter and Wener, in the south of that country, are situated on high
ground, and have the surface of their water 300 feet above the level of
the Baltic, whereas the bottom is 120 feet below such level. In these
lakes (which appear to have been lifted up with the gradual uprising of
the country) have been found several genera and species of Crustacea,
three of which are AMPHIPODA, which are affirmed to be identical
with marine ones, viz., _Gammaracanthus loricatus_ (Sabine, Ross,
Kröyer), _Pontoporeia affinis_ (Lindström), and _Gammarus cancelloides_
(Gerstfeldt).

The first is now only known to exist in the Arctic seas, the second in
the Baltic, and the last was found in Lake Baikal, in Central Asia.
It is therefore suggested by Lovèn, that the land was raised so as to
convert these waters from marine bays into inland lakes. These marine
species were retained within the basins, the waters of which have
since been changed, through the agency of springs, into fresh water;
and with the gradual transfer of the water, the habits of the animals
have also changed gradually, and that without any outward alteration of
form. Professor Lovèn thinks that there is sufficient evidence to show
that this change in the condition of these lakes must have taken place
during the great glacier period, at a time when the animals now found
in it (and which are known at this day only to inhabit the extreme
north) could have lived in the same latitude as the south of Sweden.
The evidence of these fresh-water lakes suggests that similar changes
in the relative position of sea and land may have been the cause of our
having fresh-water Crustacea nearly allied to marine species in our
rivers and inland streams.[78]

Crawling about perpendicular faces of rocks, generally at a
considerable distance above high-water mark, we may find a crustacean,
not very remotely allied to these, of rather large size.[79] It is
broad and flat, a form which marks it as belonging to another order,
though in many peculiarities of structure agreeing with its near
neighbours the high-backed Screws. The present species crawls readily
with its fourteen short strongly-hooked feet, with which it clings to
every little roughness of the stone. It swims much less effectively:
indeed, I have never seen it spontaneously in the water; and those
which I have captured on the rocks, and transferred to an aquarium,
have died after a very brief interval. They have little agility under
any circumstances, and trust rather to craft than to power for their
safety. When alarmed, they instantly gather in their feet, and drop
from their hold; and, as I have said that the positions in which they
are found are for the most part perpendicular surfaces, such as cliffs
and sea-walls, their one trick is often successful.

SEA WOODLOUSE.

Thus the _Ligia_ makes a decided approach to an aërial or terrestrial
mode of life; which, indeed, is strictly the habit of some species with
which every cultivator of flowers is only too familiar. I refer to the
little Woodlice, or Buttons, or Sows, as they are variously called, so
abundant in gardens, especially in pits and frames, and so annoying
for their depredations on our cherished plants. These garden pests are
scarcely to be distinguished as to their structure from the semi-marine
_Ligia_, particularly those flatter and softer species (_Porcellio_),
which do not roll their body into a complete ball.

In all these creatures we find maternal care. The females carry their
eggs in a sort of pouch or sac, placed beneath the breast, which opens
when these are hatched to afford exit for the infant progeny. These
have from the first the same form and appearance as the adult, except
that they have at first six pairs of feet instead of seven. They cling
about the body of the mother, and are carried by her in her rovings
with affecting solicitude.

About the sloping ledges of low-lying rock, especially those which are
covered with young mussels, so closely that between their blue-black
shells, packed and tied together with byssus-threads, you can scarcely
thrust a penknife, we very commonly see slender Worms of a vivid
grass-green hue gliding in and out. Their movements are very graceful,
and if we examine them closely, we discern the presence of a multitude
of minute points along each side of the body, which in turn are thrust
out and as quickly retracted. If we put the little creature into a vase
of water, we see fresh powers and organs of locomotion; for the back
bears a double series of leaf-shaped fins, overlying one another, which
act as broadoars rowing the lithe and graceful worm through the sea.

RAINBOW LEAF-WORM.

This species[80] is not more than three inches in length; but there
is another[81] much less common, which is larger, richer in colours,
and altogether a finer species. A specimen which I lately found was
about a foot in length when crawling, and nearly a quarter of an inch
in width. The whole body was divided into distinct segments, which in
this individual were about two hundred and ten in number; though,
according to MM. Audouin and Milne Edwards,[82] they sometimes amount
to nearly five hundred, and the worm has been found two feet in length.
The head is small, terminated by two pairs of very minute antennæ, but
surrounded at what we may call the neck by four pairs of rather long
feelers (tentacular cirri), with a fifth pair which are minute and
rudimentary.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 18.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  PEARLY NEREIS.       RAINBOW LEAF-WORM.
]

The colours are very beautiful. The leaf-like fins of the sides,
which are somewhat heart-shaped, are of a yellowish green hue,
occasionally clouded with blackish; the middle portion of the back,
which is exposed, is of a rich brown, but flushed with the most glowing
iridescence of blue and purple; while the whole under parts are of a
pearly flesh-colour. As it crawls over the stones, it throws its body
into the most elegant lateral curves, while its suppleness and great
length cause it to cling close to the rock; and thus its outline takes
the form of every projection and depression over which it is wandering.

When disturbed, and often without any apparent provocation, we see the
under side of the tiny head rise from the ground, swell out, and turn
itself inside out, as you turn a stocking, until a great pear-shaped
bag is protruded, fully eight times as long, and thrice as broad as
the entire head. Its whole surface is rough and papillose, and around
its extremity, which is the largest part, there is a row of small knobs
or warts. This curious organ is found under similar conditions in
very many Annelids; it is commonly called the proboscis, or evertile
œsophagus; but in truth it is a special and peculiar apparatus, with
little analogy with anything found in higher animals: it is in some
species furnished with strong horny teeth, and is doubtless employed
for the capture of living prey, and the conveyance of it to the stomach.

The tail of the specimen I refer to was evidently being renewed after
having been accidentally lost. For the body-segments ended abruptly,
and were followed by a portion, not more than an eighth of an inch
long, white, and excessively delicate; but which, when examined with a
powerful magnifier, displayed a division into segments, each segment
carrying its proper cirri; I could count twenty segments within that
minute space, the last of which carried the usual pair of stylets.

REPRODUCTION OF ORGANS.

I find among my notes a record of a specimen of _Phyllodoce_, which, if
not identical with this, was closely allied to it, in which I observed
the continuance of vitality after the severance of the creature into
parts. It was sent to me from Torquay, when I lived near London. When
it arrived I found that about an inch and a quarter of the anterior
extremity was detached from the remainder, which measured about four
inches. The former was motionless, contracted, and seemed lifeless;
the latter moved freely. I put both into an old aquarium. The long
posterior portion glided about among the stones for two days, exactly
like a living healthy animal; the anterior part remained motionless and
contracted until the third day, when I saw it also gliding over the
stones in a most lively manner, rearing its head, and feeling about
in the manner of a caterpillar. Eight days after its arrival, the
head portion was still active and apparently healthy, but the hinder
part had become motionless and was evidently dead. I find no further
record of the case, and probably the anterior part ultimately died
without reproduction; but the length of the period of its survival in
apparent vigour, renders it not improbable that in the open sea, under
the influence of abundant oxygen, and suitable food, the wanting parts
might have been renewed to the fore-part, if not to both.

To return to my more recent captive, however. I killed it for cabinet
preservation by putting it into fresh water, where it presently died,
with the noticeable circumstance that it threw out mucus in such
profusion that the whole body was enveloped in a mass, much thicker
than itself, of clear jelly, excessively tough and tenacious.

The most common members of the class _Annelida_, that we meet with in
these situations, are different species of the genus _Nereis_, which
are for the most part worms of considerable size, usually brown or
green, with a changeable metallic lustre above, and brilliantly pearly
beneath. They have a distinct head, of a squarish form, terminating in
two swollen fleshy knob-like antennæ, and furnished with four pairs of
thread-like tentacular cirri, which project on each side like a cat’s
whiskers. The body is plump, though somewhat flattened, and bears
on each side a row of fleshy foot-warts, which are pierced for the
extrusion of the curious bristles that are so characteristic of these
marine worms.

PEARLY NEREIS.

We can scarcely turn one of these flat stones which lie half-buried
in sandy mud at the water’s edge without finding one or more of this
tribe. Let us try. Here at once is a specimen, one of the finest as
well as one of the commonest of all.[83] The upper surface is of a warm
fawn-brown; but the beautiful flashes of iridescent blue that play on
it in the changing light, and the exquisite pearly opalescence of the
delicate pink beneath, are so conspicuous as to have secured it the
title of “Pearly,” _par éminence_. As you gaze upon it you see the
great dorsal blood-vessel or heart, as a dark red line running along
the middle of the back. This, at irregular intervals of five to fifteen
seconds, contracts almost to invisibility, and then expands again,
taking the form of a string of beads in each process.

This, however, is only a part of the great circulating system in this
fine worm. In it the red blood flows from the tail towards the head; at
the under side of the body, there is a similar vessel (the ventral),
through which the blood flows from the head towards the tail. Besides
these, there are four other longitudinal vessels in the interior of
the body, one above and one below the intestine, and one on each
side, all of which are connected by transverse branches. Thus there
is a double circulation. “The great dorsal,” says Dr. Williams, “the
reservoir of the centripetal streams of the body, may be likened to a
right ventricle (the lungs cut off), and the great ventral to a left
ventricle. The duty of the former is to collect the refluent blood of
the system; of the latter to circulate it again.”

Our _Nereis_ is furnished with two pairs of dark blue eyes, and with
an evertile proboscis, which consists of two segments. The one first
protruded is beset on its upper side with some largish horny points,
arranged in two groups, which are continued round to the under side in
a band of irregular lines of points. The second segment has four groups
of points, the groups of oblong outline, radiating from the strong
black jaws, which are protruded last, and can be widely opened and
closed.

Here, too, we have an Annelid of very different form and
appearance.[84] It is a mean-looking worm, about an inch and a half
long, of flattened shape, blunt at each end, apparently covered with a
smooth skin of a dull brown colour; but on being touched it presently
throws itself into elegant serpentine curves, and then what appears to
be the upper skin is seen to be composed of a great number of round
flat membranous plates or shields, arranged in two rows overlapping
each other. These, though of large size, are attached to the body only
by a small point in the centre of their under side, so that when the
animal moves, the edges of these shields are lifted, and reveal their
true structure, sliding upon one another in a singular manner.

In captivity I have found the animal inert, prone to seek concealment
in the corners of the glass vessel beneath other animals or stones,
and remaining still for a long time together; but, if disturbed,
manifesting impatience and much agility, swimming through the water
with strong lateral undulation, as already described. I have been
struck with the deciduous character of the broad leaf-like shields.
As soon as the animal was in my possession, one and another of these
appendages was cast off at almost every time that I roused it to
action; and even when allowed to remain quiet, the denuding process
went on, so that in a few days it was nearly half naked. This process
of self-mutilation will sometimes go on till scarcely a single shield
remains out of the double series.

SCALE-WORM.

This dull-coloured Scale-worm presents peculiarities of structure which
are eminently worthy of careful examination. The body, like that of the
other species we have just been considering, is composed of many rings
or segments, each of which bears on its upper surface a little wart or
tubercle on each side, to the summit of which is slightly attached the
circular leaf-like shield just described. Beneath the shadow of this
broad shield the segment projects laterally into another tubercle,
whence issue the organs of motion, which in these Annelids are of
highly curious structure. In this species they consist of a bundle of
straight bristles of exquisite tenuity, and having a silky lustre;
they are of unequal length, the upper ones being the longest, and the
pencil diminishing pretty regularly downwards. The microscope shows
them to be about one hundred in number in each bundle; and each bristle
to be a delicate oar consisting of a slender stem, apparently tubular,
dilated at the tip into a narrow blade terminating in a minute hook.
A fibrous structure is seen to run diagonally across the blade, the
edge of which is set with minute barbs pointing outwards, resembling
very fine and very short bristles. The whole bundle is connected with
a long slender rod of cartilage, which, doubtless acted upon by proper
muscles, moves to and fro through the muscular sheath, protruding the
bundle of bristles, or entirely retracting them within the body. The
bristles, when protruded, slightly diverge, so that the dilated blades
of these hundred oars strike with full force upon the water in rowing,
if such indeed is the nature of their action, as some have supposed. In
the act of withdrawal, however, into the narrow compass of the muscular
sheath, the blades slide one upon another, so as to present a surface
considerably diminished. But why is each bristle hooked and barbed?
The obvious supposition is that these organs act like the pole of a
ferry-boat in the shallows; the barbs, pointing outwards, serving to
catch any roughness of the surface, and thus to _push_ the animal by
their resistance, while the terminal hook may serve to _pull_ in an
analogous manner. But then the barbed and hooked edge is the _upper_
one of each oar, a circumstance which renders such an explanation at
first sight unsatisfactory. Perhaps, however, the habit of the animal
of living under stones, may in some measure account for it; the edge
and point of each bristle being intended to act upon the surface of the
object above it, beneath which it is forcing its way.

A secondary pencil of bristles also issues from the upper side of each
of these tubercular sheaths, so as to project diagonally upwards and
outwards beneath the edge of the shield-leaf. This pencil consists
of between thirty and forty bristles, which are connected with a
cartilaginous rod exactly similar to that of the primary bundle. These
bristles run off to a very fine point, and each one is marked on both
sides with serratures so delicate as to be only just discernible with
a magnifying power of 300 diameters. There are thus about 270 movable
bristles of exquisite structure in each segment, which multiplied by
36, the number of segments in the body, gives a total of 9720 distinct
organs of motion possessed by this animal, besides the broad leaf-like
shields, which perhaps may act as fins, and the short tentacular feet,
one of which is placed beneath the primary bristle-sheath, on each side
of the segment.

By dissection after death, I have found the proboscis in the form of
a long oval sac, very muscular and firm, of a blackish hue, lying in
the anterior part of the body, which, on being cut open, showed four
horny teeth placed in its neck so as to meet each other in the centre.
I have never seen the protrusion of this organ during life, but if it
is capable of being wholly everted, as in many species, these teeth
must be turned on the outside, where they would seem to be of little
use. Possibly, however, the version may be only just sufficient to
bring these teeth to the margin, when their action might be made very
efficient by the slightest alteration in the contraction of the sac.

Some species of this genus construct for themselves enveloping tubular
cases, out of mucus given off from their bodies, and fragments of
shells. In these they ordinarily live concealed, but are sufficiently
active when they leave their houses. Some shine with a phosphorescent
radiance in the dark.

In the great class of Worms, special organs for locomotion are often
altogether lacking; and, where found, are only rudimentary. Alternate
swellings and contractions of certain portions of the body are a
great source of progression; and these are effected by the fluids
of the interior, which are driven to a given part of the cavity,
and momentarily imprisoned there by the contraction of the circular
tegumentary muscles before and behind it; the body swelling at that
place. “The muscles of the integument are then excited to action, and
the fluid is forcibly compressed forwards or backwards, according to
the direction of the muscular agency. Nearly all Annelids are struck
with paralysis when this fluid is made to escape from its cavity by a
puncture through its external walls. The power of voluntary motion is
suspended; the body of the worm becomes passive and flaccid.”[85]

GOODNESS OF GOD.

These details convey but a feeble and imperfect notion of the numerous
and elaborate contrivances which are so profusely bestowed upon these
mean and grovelling worms; but they show how careful is the Creator
of their well-being; how lavish of His mercies towards His meanest
creatures. How unreasonable, then, is it for those to doubt His
ever-watchful and unerring tenderness towards themselves, who have been
made the objects of His _redeeming_ love, and who, on the ground of
redemption, “are of more value” in His sight, than all these His lower
creatures put together!

FOOTNOTES:

[66] _Aplysia punctata_, of which two specimens, one viewed sidewise,
and the other mounting an angle of rock, showing the front of its head,
are depicted in Plate XVI. Sowerby applied the name of “_hybrida_”
to the species, and Forbes and Hanley have adopted it; but even the
inflexible law of priority does not warrant the perpetuation of a name
which is glaringly absurd, and expresses a manifest contradiction; for
if the creature were a hybrid, it would not be a species, and not be
entitled to a specific name.

[67] _Outlines of Comp. Anatomy_, p. 371.

[68] _De Anim. Marin._, quoted in Johnston’s _Introd. to Conchology_,
p. 18.

[69] This animal will be described in a subsequent chapter.

[70] _Journal of Researches_, chap. i.

[71] Johnston.

[72] _Dentalium entalis_, represented at the right-hand corner of the
foreground in Plate XVII.

[73] _Pileopsis Hungaricus_, of which a specimen is represented in the
attitude of life, adhering to the dark rock, in Plate XVII.

[74] _Litt. de la France_, i. 133.

[75] _Gammarus locusta._

[76] Bate and Westwood’s _Crustacea_, p. 382.

[77] Bate and Westwood, p. 380.

[78] Bate and Westwood, p. 391.

[79] It is named _Ligia oceanica_, and is represented in Plate XVII.,
in the centre of the picture.

[80] _Phyllodoce viridis_.

[81] _P. laminosa_, represented in the middle and right of Plate XVIII.

[82] _Litt. de la France_, ii. 223.

[83] _Nereis margaritacea_, of which the head and fore parts of the
body crawling over a stone are depicted at the left-hand corner of
Plate XVIII.

[84] _Polynoe cirrata._

[85] Dr. Williams, _On the British Annelida_, p. 219.



VII.

JULY.


TWO-SPOTTED SUCKER.

A mile or two eastward of Babbicombe and Petit Tor, in from ten to
fifteen fathoms water, there lies a stretch of flat stony bottom,
reaching away from the island known as the Ore Stone, towards the
mouth of the river Exe. This is a bit of ground to which a boatman
whom I occasionally employ often resorts with the dredge, and rarely
or never without a fair harvest of curious and interesting creatures.
Among other things he brings me from time to time numerous specimens
of what Yarrell calls the Bimaculated Sucker;[86] the propriety of
which name will be evident the moment you examine one of these little
fishes alive. Cuvier named the group in which they are found (a group
comprising very few species) _Discoboles_, because the ventral pair
of fins are united so as to form a circular disk or saucer, by means
of which the fishes have the power of adhering firmly to any solid
object larger than the circumference of the disk. Yarrell substitutes
the term _Cyclopteridæ_ for the family group; the name _Cyclopterus_,
used for the principal genus, expressing the same thing, that the fins
are united in a circular fashion. The word _bimaculatus_, signifying
two-spotted, alludes to two remarkable and conspicuous oval spots of
dark purplish brown or red, situated one on each side of the body, just
behind the pectoral fin. These spots, being comparatively large, and
separated from the general colour of the body by a well-defined white
ring, constitute a very striking and beautiful feature in these little
fishes.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 19.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  TWO-SPOTTED SUCKER.
]

Their form is flattened; they have a broad shovel-shaped muzzle,
prominent eyes, looking rather upwards, and the head much widened
behind; the head, indeed, constitutes more than one-fourth of the
entire length; and at its hinder part, or where the gills open, is
far wider than any other part of the fish. They rarely exceed an inch
and a half in length. The general hue above is pale red; but in some
specimens they become a nearly uniform lake-purple, in others the hue
is a clear orange; while yet in others it is almost white. A band of
white, bounded by darker lines, almost invariably connects the two
eyes. Frequently the hue of the body is varied by clouds and patches of
dark reddish brown, which patches have a tendency to assume a constant
pattern, quite recognisable when you look at a good many specimens
together. In the hinder half and on the sides the ground colour is apt
to be minutely divided or mottled, the interspaces being of a delicate
azure or lilac; and when examined with a lens, the whole surface seems
sown with gold dust. The dorsal fin is set very far back, and, as well
as the caudal, is prettily pencilled with dark brown: the under parts
are pearly white.

The eyes are exquisitely beautiful, and as they are prominent, very
movable, and especially as they are moved quite independently of each
other, they at once attract and fix the admiration of the beholder. The
large pupil is of a deep lustrous green, the iris of the most brilliant
orange gold, and the whole set as it were in the midst of a globe of
the purest glass. On the whole I scarcely know of a more attractive
little fish than this.

ITS HABITS.

This little Sucker is easily reconciled to captivity. I have in my
aquariums some individuals which were captured nearly a year and a
half ago; and they are still in the full enjoyment of health and
activity. They are pleasing little things: they scuttle from spot to
spot with a spasmodic sort of bustle, wagging their tails much from
time to time, so that in movement as well as in form they remind one
of tadpoles. They are generally seen, however, anchored to the sides
of the vessel, or to the prominent knobs of the stones by their
sucker, and here they remain for an indefinite time, sometimes for
hours, at others only a few seconds, throwing their beautiful eyes
about in insatiable curiosity, fanning the water with their transparent
pectorals, or whisking the painted tail about. Now and then they make
a sudden snap, doubtless at some passing animalcule, with an audible
sound, and the emergence of a bubble of air from the top of the water,
whence the muzzle is frequently projected. They have an awkward habit
of throwing themselves out of a shallow vessel; and if you are not on
your guard you may find your little pets dead and dry on the carpet.
They are inquisitive little things; if a new stone or shell or tuft of
serpulæ is put into their vessel they soon discover it, and may be seen
exploring it in every part; and it is amusing, when _you_ are examining
_them_ with a lens, to note how thoroughly mutual is the investigation;
for you can see by the direction and motion of the eyes that the little
fish is watching you as interestedly as you are observing him.

I do not think that the adhesion of the ventral sucker is effected
exactly as has been supposed, by a vacuum produced in the area of
the united ventral fins; but by the combined action of some minute
fleshy sucking disks, which are arranged in two groups, in front of
and behind the united fins. The conjoined fins do not appear to me to
make a vacuum. The fish has a curious habit of coming to the surface
of the water, and there floating perfectly still, back downward, the
entire belly-surface dry. The ventral disk is then seen as a shallow
cup, quite dry and shining. If touched, the little fish hurries along
the surface, with some splashing, till it acquires impetus enough
to go under at an oblique angle, when it presently turns over, and
adheres to the bottom, or side of some stone. I have seen this practice
frequently, but only, I think, at night.[87]

       *       *       *       *       *

This principle of a vacuum produced by the retraction of the centre
of a fleshy disk, while the margins remain in close contact with a
solid body, is of extensive application in the lower forms of animal
life, and especially in the class ECHINODERMATA, comprising what are
popularly known as Star-fishes, Sea-urchins, and Sea-cucumbers.

I have on other occasions noticed the elaborate and wonderful mechanism
of the sucker-feet as they appear in the commoner species of the class.
I need not therefore repeat those details, but look at a few other
particulars in the economy of the animals whose locomotion is dependent
on this curious contrivance.

There is a pretty little species abundant enough hereabout, chiefly
affecting shores on which numerous angular masses of stone lie
irregularly scattered and heaped one on another. Yet they seem to have
a predilection, for they do not occur in all our localities even though
these conditions be not lacking. Livermead Point, and the south side of
Anstey’s Cove, beneath the cliffs, are favourite spots for them, the
former especially, where we can find the little Gibbous Starlet,[88]
for such is its name, at all times of the year, when the tide is
sufficiently out. The retiring tide here leaves a shallow pool of
considerable area, which then continues to run out by a narrow channel
among the rock boulders, a winding rivulet of salt water; along whose
borders, by turning over the loose blocks, scores of this pretty Star
are exposed, clinging to the wet sides and roofs of the dark passages
by means of their sucker-feet. Forbes has given two figures of the
species, but manifestly taken from dead specimens, and from very small
ones too. He says, “large specimens measure only an inch across;”
from which I infer that on the shores of the Isle of Man, where he
was familiar with it, the Starlet does not attain the dimensions it
reaches on our mild southern coast. He indeed alludes to one in Mr.
Ball’s collection, which measured one inch and five lines in diameter.
Specimens, however, of this size are quite common with us, nor would
one of an inch and a half be looked upon as at all exceeding the modest
and proper range of the species.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 20.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  PURPLE-TIPPED URCHIN.       ROSY FEATHER-STAR.       STARLET.
]

ITS EYES.

It is of a pentagonal figure, with the margin a little receding
between the angles, but not so as to cause the latter to form distinct
arms. The body is flat below, and plump and cushion-like above, of a
yellowish olive hue, with the very edge of a golden orange tint, while
a spot of the latter colour, a little out of the centre, marks the
situation of a remarkable organ called the madreporiform tubercle, the
proper use of which has not as yet been satisfactorily determined. Just
at the extremity of each angle, but a little below, is situated a wart
of rich crimson hue, which is supposed to be an eye, being seated on a
small ganglionic swelling of a nerve that passes along the ray. It is
true no crystalline lens has as yet been detected on the pigment dot,
either in this species or any other (for the specks are found in the
same position in all the proper Star-fishes), but they are manifestly
of the same character as similar specks in _Rotifera_, and other humble
animal forms, which in some examples are connected with an indubitable
lens. It might seem at first as if the situation of these eyes were
not very favourable to vision; but, in truth, they command the ground
just before and around the ray-tip, and also the water in a horizontal
direction; and as there is one at each of the five angles, the entire
circumferent space is viewed at each moment. Add to this, that the
animal is in the habit of very frequently turning up the tip of one or
other of its rays, when the range of vision would take in the zenith;
and we shall perceive that no position in any other part of the body
could be so suitable for the location of eyes as these selected. It is
not to be supposed that distinct definition of objects is attained by
these rudimentary organs; but the animal is probably conscious of the
difference between light and darkness, and may also discern the sudden
approach of any object, either by its interception of light, or by its
colours, though its features and form may be indistinct. Such a degree
of visual perception, though very imperfect in our esteem, may be of
great use to this sluggish creature, and amply sufficient for its need.

The whole upper surface of this Starlet is covered with six-sided
convex plates, each of which is crowned by a group of short blunt
spines; the number in each group varying from one to nine; four to
six, however, most commonly; arranged in a diverging tuft. Over the
madreporiform tubercle, the tufts are stouter, and bend towards
each other, as if to protect this delicate organ, which, whatever
its function, is grooved with sinuous furrows, visible only with a
considerable magnifying power, like the rounded masses of coral from
the tropical seas, called brain-stones.

On the under surface similar stout short spines are arranged in
transverse bands across each ray, interrupted, however, by the central
furrow, which is perforated with two ranges of orifices to give issue
to the sucker-feet, which thus form a double row. These organs do not
differ importantly either in structure, function, or appearance, from
those in the Cross-fishes, in the Sea-cucumbers, or in the Urchins.

In health and activity the whole upper surface is covered with a forest
of short pellucid tubes, closed at the tips, which protrude from pores
in the plates, and stand erect, moving, however, to and fro at the will
of the animal; they are evidently filled with fluid. I cannot find any
notice of these organs: they are probably connected with respiration.

SEA-URCHIN.

What a wonderful piece of mechanism is a Sea-Urchin! Accustomed as I
am to the multitudinous contrivances and compensations that present
themselves at every turn to the philosophic naturalist, often as
surprising and unexpected as they are beautifully effective, I am yet
struck with admiration at the structure of an _Echinus_ whenever I
examine it anew. A globular hollow box has to be made, of some three
inches in diameter, the walls of which shall be scarcely thicker than
a wafer, formed of unyielding limestone, yet fitted to hold the soft
tender parts of an animal, which quite fill the concavity at all ages.
But in infancy the animal (and, of course, its box, as this must be
full) is not so big as a pea; and it has to grow till it attain its
adult dimensions. The box is never to be cast off, and replaced by a
new one; the same box must hold the infant and the veteran Urchin. The
limestone, not being a living tissue, but an inert earth, can grow
only by being deposited. Now the vascular tissues are within, and the
particles they deposit must be on the interior walls. This would indeed
augment the amount of limestone in the box, but it would be at the
expense of the contained space. The thicker the walls, if thickened
from within, the less room in the cavity; but what is wanted is _more_
room, ever more, and more. The growing animal feels its tissues
swelling day by day, by the assimilation of food, and its cry is, “Give
me space! a larger house, or else I die.”

How is this problem solved? Ah! there is no difficulty. The
inexhaustible wisdom of Jehovah the Creator has invented a beautiful
contrivance for the emergency. The box is not made in one piece, nor
in ten, nor in a hundred; six hundred distinct pieces go to make up
the hollow case; all so accurately fitted together, that the perfect
symmetry of the outline is not broken; and yet, thin as their substance
is, they retain their relative position with unchanging exactness, and
the slight brittle box possesses all requisite strength and firmness.

Each of these symmetrical pieces of shell is enveloped by a layer of
living flesh, a vascular tissue of exceeding thinness, which passes
up between the joints where one meets another, on every side, and not
only so, but actually spreads itself over the whole exterior surface.
So that when you take up an Urchin into your hand, and having rubbed
a small space clear of spines, look on it; you have not, as you may
suppose you have, exposed the surface of the shelly box, but only the
flesh that covers it; yet this is so transparent and colourless, so
inconceivably thin, so absolutely adherent at every point, that its
presence will not be discernible to feeling or sight, without the aid
of high microscopic powers.

This being so, the glands of the investing fleshy tissue secrete
lime from the sea-water, which holds it in solution, and constantly
deposits it, after a determinate and orderly pattern, on every part
of the surface of each shelly piece; the inner face, the outer face,
and each of the sides and angles of the polyhedron grow together, and
all so evenly, that while the dimensions increase, both of thickness
and superficies, the form characteristic of that individual piece is
maintained with immutable mathematical precision. Thus the volume and
capacity of the box grow with the growth of the individual segments,
and it ever keeps the globose shape at first imposed upon it.

ITS MECHANISM.

But this is but a small part of the mechanism of this interesting
tribe. If you put into a basin of sea-water one of the pretty kind[89]
which we find so abundantly under stones at low water,--whose
green spines are tipped with rosy purple, like the tentacles of an
_Anthea_,--you will presently observe it marching majestically along
by means of the hundreds of sucker-feet, which it possesses in common
with the Star-fish. Now, if you have in your cabinet the empty box of
an Urchin of this same kind, and taking it in your hand, hold it up to
the light, and look into the cavity from the under or mouth side, you
will have a very interesting spectacle. The light streams in through a
multitude of minute holes, as smooth and regular as if drilled with a
fairy’s wimble; and these holes are arranged in a pattern of elegant
symmetry. They run in lines, like meridians, from pole to pole of the
flattened globe; but instead of being set at uniform intervals, they
constitute five principal sets or bands, with blank intervals between,
about twice as wide as the drilled bands. Then each band comprises two
series, each of which contains a double row of orifices. These last,
again, do not constitute a single unbroken line, but an interrupted or
zig-zag line, which is, in fact, made up of a number of short diagonal
rows; three holes in each diagonal, set one after another.

Put the living and the dead together. These tiny orifices, as minute as
the point of the finest cambric-needle could make in a bit of paper,
afford exit to the suckers, which are, of course, equally numerous.
Through these pass the slender pellucid tubes, filled with elastic
fluid, which carry at their tips a flat ring of calcareous shell,
affording to each the form and firmness to make each one an adhesive
sucking disk, in the centre of which a tiny vacuum is created at will
by muscular retraction.

ITS SPINES.

But this is not all. Again, look at the living Sea-Urchin. It bristles
with the rosy-tipped spines, which have a satiny lustre, owing to the
reflection of the light from the delicate ridges and furrows with
which the whole is fluted, like an Ionic column in miniature. How
they are all moving, and swaying to and fro on their bases, quite
independently of each other, however, making circles and traverses in
the water with their points, as the mast-heads of a ship do among the
clouds in a gentle swell, when seen from the deck. Professor Agassiz
fell into the egregious blunder of supposing that the spines were the
organs of locomotion in the Urchins, denying, with much contempt, the
theory which attributed this office to the suckers. One can only wonder
whether he ever saw a living Urchin in motion, as one moment’s glance
at the phenomenon is sufficient to prove how utterly his theory was
false, as Forbes has well shown.

However, let us once more observe the empty denuded box from the
cabinet; and now on the exterior. Between the principal bands of pores
(called _ambulacra_, from their fancied resemblance to walks in a
garden), as also between the two series which constitute each band, the
space is studded with hemispherical warts, of very diverse size, which
look as if turned in ivory, unpolished; and each wart is crowned with
a smaller wart of like material, but bearing the most perfect polish.

At the bottom of each spine there is a cavity exactly fitting this
second wart, and equally highly-polished in its interior. During life
the spine was seated on the wart, not united to it, but moving upon
it in all directions, with perfect smoothness and freedom; a ball and
socket joint, in fact. It was held in its place by an investment of
muscle, which completely enclosed both the wart and the base of the
spine, having one insertion in the unpolished wart, and the other in a
remarkable ring or shoulder of the spine, visible just above the socket.

These are but two or three salient points of interest in the structure
of this little unvalued, disregarded creature. I could relate much
more; indeed, I think it would not be difficult to write a bulky volume
of the history and biography of a single Sea-Urchin, of which every
page would display the glory of God. But I have not space for that here.

We sometimes, but very rarely, find on this coast a very lovely form
of this class of animals, the Rosy Feather-star.[90] It consists of
ten long attenuated arms, radiating from a common centre, composed
each of about forty slender joints of stone, and each joint carrying a
pair of diverging beards, also many-jointed, all of which together, by
their number and arrangement, give to the arm the aspect of a beautiful
feather. Around the central point of radiation, a small cup-like body
gives origin to the arms, which are double, a pair springing from
a single basal joint. Within the cup the soft parts of the animal
are chiefly located, the organs of the vital functions; and from
the convex surface spring a number of jointed stony threads, like
necklaces, much shorter and slenderer than the arms, which serve as
claspers, gripping and holding firmly the projections of the rock, by
means of strong curved claws with which they are terminated, in shape
like those of an eagle.

The whole elegant creature is of a lively rose tint, interrupted by
patches of bright yellow, disposed with no regularity or apparent
order; the whole, both the yellow and the rosy portions, studded with
crimson dots. Edward Forbes, if I rightly understand him, considers
these dots to be ovaries, which he estimates at upwards of 57,000 in
number.

INFANT FEATHER-STAR.

In infancy the Feather-star is seated at the extremity of a long
slender jointed stalk, attached at its lower end, whence it rises
erect, like a plant. Indeed the whole animal, in this condition, with
its cup-like base and elegantly incurving arms, seated on its tall
stem, has so close a resemblance of outline to a flower, that the
fossil specimens, which are very numerous, and of large size, are
known as Lily-stones, and technically as _Encrinites_, which word has
the same allusion. After a while, the radiating portion, or flower,
separates from the stalk, and swims freely, contracting its arms to
give the impulse, in the manner of a _Medusa_.

Who, on looking at these two creatures side by side,--the Sea-Urchin
and the Encrinite,--would imagine that they possessed any close natural
relationship, or would suspect that they could have been framed on the
same model? Yet it is really so; there is a common plan of structure
in both; pervading, too, many intermediate forms, which at first sight
would seem to manifest as little resemblance to the one as to the
other. It would, in fact, be easy to select from any well-furnished
museum a continuous chain of specimens, whose links approach each
other so closely as to form an unbroken series from the Urchin to the
Feather-star.

CONNECTING LINKS.

Among the Urchins proper there are some species, such as the Sphere
Sea-egg, and the one known as Fleming’s, which have a figure not far
from that of a globe. Others are much more depressed, of which the
little Purple-tipped is a notable example. Still the spherical shape
is conspicuous. From this rounded form other species, more and more
flattened, gradually lead to the _Scutella_, which takes the form of
a thin round plate, quite flat beneath, but slightly convex on the
upper surface. The structure is the same as before, but the spines
appear to the naked eye only as very minute hairs; but, when magnified,
are found to be of the most elaborate workmanship, each having a
movable socket-joint. In the genus _Clypeaster_, the round outline
is changed for a five-sided figure, the angles of which in succeeding
species project more and more, and the spaces between become more and
more indented, till we arrive at the Starlets, and at length to the
Cross-fishes (_Asteriadæ_). The rays gradually becoming longer and
more slender, we are brought to those in which they are so lengthened
as to resemble the tails of so many serpents, whence they are named
_Ophiura_. In succeeding genera, such as that called Medusa’s head
(_Gorgonocephalus_), the central part is still further diminished, and
the rays are divided into branches of great length and number. Each
ray, soon after its commencement, separates into two more; these again
into two others, and so on to an astonishing extent. Upwards of 2500
ramifications have been counted on a single specimen, presenting a
living net, by the contraction of which any small animal once touched
would inevitably be detained. The sucker-feet are no longer found,
these animals changing their position by dragging themselves along by
their flexible arms. Finally, we have the Feather-stars, which, as
we have seen, in their infant condition, and the Lily-stars, which
throughout life (as the abundant fossil species in our own land, and
that noble one which still exists in the West Indian seas), consist
of slender-jointed arms, with feather-like filaments, seated at the
free extremity of a tall jointed stalk, also furnished with whorls of
filaments, which is fixed by its base to the solid rock.

Altogether, the series presents us with one of the most instructive
and most marvellous examples of the vast variety of external form
and internal structure which may be assumed by almost insensible
modifications of one plan of organization; and so of the unfathomable
resources of wisdom in the ever-blessed God. For every one of these
links,--and there are multitudes which I have not named, found either
in remote seas or in a fossil condition, that fill up the gaps with
close gradations--displays an essentially common model; and the least
fragment of the stony skeleton of any one would be sufficient to
enable a competent naturalist to decide authoritatively, the instant
he looked at it beneath his microscope, that it belonged to the great
class ECHINODERMATA. The calcareous shell of which the framework is
composed,--a glass made of lime,--is deposited in a fashion which,
while common to all, is found nowhere else throughout the whole animal
kingdom.

FLAT-CRABS.

Let us turn from these investigations, fascinating as they are, to
examine the ways and means of two or three other creatures, familiar
enough to us who habitually explore the sea-margin. I allude to
certain members of the great class CRUSTACEA, not Crabs nor Lobsters
exactly, but called so by courtesy, something in fact between both. My
dredger’s hauls are always sure to contain, creeping in the tangled
thickets of _Laomedea_, _Antennularia_, and other of the flexible
Polyps, or playing at bo-peep from the interstices of the _Serpula_
masses,--numerous specimens of a tiny Crab,[91] with a circular flat
shell, no bigger than a split-pea, large wide claws, and very long
antennæ, like two hairs. They are of various colours, sometimes pure
white, sometimes chocolate-brown, and often clouded with different
hues. Minute as they are, they are not despised by great fishes; for
the heavy-sided, clumsy-headed cods, that occupy so large an area on
the fishmonger’s slab, are often found to have their stomachs packed
full with these little Crabs; which doubtless the glutton picks off one
by one, enjoying the taste of the savoury atom as it rolls over his fat
fleshy tongue.

THEIR MANNERS.

But we may much more easily procure specimens of his bigger brother,
the Shaggy Flat-crab,[92] which abounds under nearly every flat stone
at low-water on Babbicombe beach, and indeed almost everywhere else,
under the like conditions. He is a curious subject, though far from
attractive as to his _personnel_, for he is, I regret to say, of
irreclaimably dirty habits. You never find him but he is begrimed and
saturated, so to speak, with the impalpable red mud of which our soil
consists,--the _débris_ of the red sandstone. Yet blame him not. He is
more hirsute than a modern swell; his hands and his face are as hairy
as Esau’s; a dense short pile of stiff bristles stands out from all his
prominences, and catches and entangles the sediment in the midst of
which he loves to riot. I say again, blame him not; we must not infer
that he likes dirt for its own sake, because he gets his living in
it, any more than the sweep or the dustman chose his trade because he
had a _penchant_ for the grime. Nay, dirty as our little flat friend
is, he is endowed with organs expressly for the purpose of cleaning
himself, and fails not to use them too. On first looking at him you
would suppose, comparing him with other Crabs, that he was short of one
pair of feet; yet presently, from a narrow, almost invisible crevice
behind, he jerks out two jointed limbs, as slender as bristles, which,
however, are each terminated by a tiny two-fingered claw, and are beset
throughout their length by stiff short hairs standing out at right
angles, like a brush. These feeble limbs are indeed cleansing brushes,
with which he keeps certain portions of his person clean, applying
them with the greatest ease to the whole surface of the abdomen, and
under-side of the carapace or body-shell, while the delicate fingers
of the little hand are used to pick off adhering matters that cannot
be removed by brushing. Then having done his washing, he cleans his
brushes with his mouth, and snugly folds them up, and packs them
away in their groove till he wants them again. Yet with all this, he
remains, as I said at first, a dirty subject notwithstanding.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 21.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  OLIVE SQUAT-LOBSTER.     SHAGGY FLAT-CRAB.      SCARLET SQUAT-LOBSTER.
]

A curious chapter in the history of this little creature, which I have
put on record elsewhere,[93] is, I think, so very instructive, that I
may venture to repeat some parts of it here. Let me premise that the
Crab habitually lives under stones, a habit for which the remarkable
flatness and thinness of all its parts adapts it; he has somewhat of
the appearance of having been crushed flat by the pressure of the stone
under which he lives. He does not wander much to seek his food, but
expects it to be brought to him, he making provision for its conveyance.

FOOD-GATHERING ORGANS.

The organs which he employs for this end are the outer foot-jaws or
pedipalps, which are of unusual length, and are fringed with incurving
hairs. Watching a Flat-crab beneath a stone close to the side of my
tank, I noticed that his long antennæ were continually flirted about;
these are doubtless sensitive organs of touch, or some analogous sense,
which inform the animal of the presence, and perhaps of the nature,
of objects within reach. At the same time I remarked that the outer
foot-jaws were employed alternately in making casts; being thrown out
deliberately, but without intermission, and drawn in, exactly in the
manner of the fringed hand of a barnacle, of which both the organ and
the action strongly reminded me. I looked at this more closely with
the aid of a lens; each foot-jaw formed a perfect spoon of hairs,
which at every cast expanded, and partly closed. That this may be
better understood, I may say that the foot-jaw resembles a sickle in
form, being composed of five joints, of which the last four are curved
like the blade of that implement. Each of these joints is set along
its inner edge with a row of parallel bristles, of which those of the
last joint arch out in a semicircle, continuing the curve of the limb;
the rest of the bristles are curved parallel or concentrical with
these, but diminish in length as they recede downwards. It will be
seen, therefore, that when the joints of the foot-jaw are thrown out,
approaching to a straight line, the curved hairs are made to diverge;
but as the cast is made, they resume their parallelism, and sweep-in,
as with a net, the atoms of the embraced water. The microscope revealed
to me a still higher perfection in this admirable contrivance. I then
saw that every individual bristle is set on each side with a row of
short stiff hairs, projecting nearly at right angles to its length;
these hairs meeting point to point those of the next bristle, and so on
in succession, there is formed a most complete net of regular meshes,
which must enclose and capture every tiny insect or animalcule that
floats within its range; while, at each out-cast, it opens at every
mesh, and allows all refuse to be washed away or fall to the ground.
For we are not to suppose that the captures thus promiscuously made
are as indiscriminately swallowed. A multitude of atoms are gathered,
which would be quite unfit for food; and a power of selection resides
in the mouth, whether it be the sense of taste or touch; or any other
analogous but recondite perception, by which the useful only is
admitted, the worthless, or at least the injurious, being rejected.

SQUAT-LOBSTERS.

Companions of the Flat-crabs, closely allied to them in all essentials
of form and structure, yet widely separated by general figure and
appearance, and to some extent by habits too, are the Squat-lobsters.
They, too, are somewhat flat, but they are more decidedly lobster-like,
with a distinctly jointed abdomen as broad as the body, terminating
in wide and strong swimming-plates. This portion is, during rest,
thrown-in under the body, much more completely than a true lobster or
prawn can do it, and yet is by no means so permanently set in that
position as in the true crabs. The Flat-crabs and the Squat-lobsters
constitute an intermediate group between the short-tailed and the
long-tailed Crustacea, the Flat-crabs inclining to the one, the Squats
to the other alliance. When the abdomen is wrapped-in, the outline of
the Squat is nearly oval, particularly in the commonest species, the
Olive or Scaly Squat.[94] That of the Scarlet or Embleton’s species[95]
is a longer ellipse. The front runs out into several sharp spines,
as do also the edges of the carapace; and the inner edges of the
front limbs, which carry long and stout claws, are very spiny. More
formidably armed in this respect, however, than either, is another
species, found occasionally at low-water, the Painted or Spinous
Squat,[96] all the limbs being set, on both edges, with stout sharp
prickles. The last named is the largest kind, being sometimes four
inches long; then the Olive, which is commonly from two to two and a
half; while the Scarlet rarely exceeds an inch and a half. They differ
very much in colour, the Olive being of a dull blackish green, with
narrow transverse lines of pale yellowish; the Painted somewhat of the
same general hue, but with the eyes and the tips of the claws of the
most vivid scarlet, while the body is varied with lines and spots of
an equally brilliant azure. Embleton’s is of a more or less bright
red, varying from a light orange or warm cream colour to a full orange,
clouded with patches of deep scarlet. The last is an inhabitant of deep
water, obtained only by the dredge; by this means, however, I obtain it
in considerable numbers. The other two are found, the first abundantly,
the second rather rarely, under stones in our coves. I have found, in
autumn, in such situations, several specimens of small size, rather
smaller than full-grown Embletons, which I conclude to be the young
of the Painted. The whole body is pale blue, tesselated all over with
black and reddish brown; the legs are banded with red, and the hands
are of the same colour. They have a very pretty appearance.

The whole race are very cautious and timid. With the long claws,
and the longer antennæ, stretched out to their utmost in front, the
suspicious Squat feels the unknown ground with delicate touches; should
he touch any object that moves, he gives on the instant a vigorous flap
with the broad incurved tail, and shoots backward through the water to
the distance of several inches. At the same moment all the legs are
thrown forward in the line of the body, to diminish the resistance.
Mr. Couch says: “It is very remarkable to witness the accuracy with
which they” [he is speaking of the Painted species specially] “will
dart backward _for several feet_ into a hole very little larger than
themselves: this I have often seen them do, and always with precision.”
This would surely be a remarkable feat for an animal in the air; how
much more through a medium so dense and resisting as sea-water!

I have elsewhere[97] described and figured the young of a species of
this genus in two of its stages. In the first it may be compared with a
prawn, having a lengthened slender body, whose fore part is protected
by a prawn-like transparent carapace, with an immensely long straight
spine in front, and two hooked ones behind. In the next stage the
general figure is acquired, but still the form is more like that of
_Porcellana_ than of _Galathea_.

FOOTNOTES:

[86] _Lepidogaster bimaculatus_, of which individuals of different
varieties of colour, and in different attitudes, are represented in
Plate XIX.

[87] Let me refer my readers to an excellent and most interesting paper
on this little fish, by my friend, Mr. W. R. Hughes, in the _Zoologist_
for July 1864.

[88] _Asterina gibbosa_, figured in the right-hand foreground of Plate
XX.

[89] _Echinus miliaris_, a specimen of which may be seen delineated in
Plate XX., in the upper left-hand corner.

[90] _Comatula rosacea_; a fine specimen of which, taken by myself in a
little cove near Torquay, I have delineated in the centre of Plate XX.

[91] _Porcellana longicornis._

[92] _Porcellana platycheles_, represented by the central figure in
Plate XXI.

[93] _The Aquarium_: 2d Ed. pp. 37-45.

[94] _Galathea squamifera_, represented in Plate XXI., at the left
hand, in the act of shooting backward.

[95] _G. nexa_, for which see the right-hand corner of the same Plate.

[96] _G. strigosa._

[97] _Tenby_, p. 169, Plates VII. and VIII.



VIII.

AUGUST.


What eager pursuer of marine animals has not gloated over a rock-pool?
On all our rocky coasts we find them more or less developed; but it
is on these south-western shores, where the compact limestone juts
out into promontories, that we find them in perfection. The burrowing
mollusca specially favour the limestone; the _Saxicava_, I think, lives
in no other medium; and it is to the operation of this coarse ugly
little shell-fish that this rock is indebted for the honeycomb-like
excavation which has eroded its surface. Below a few inches this
erosion does not extend, for the _Saxicava_ is but a small animal, and
its siphons must reach the orifice of its burrow; therefore it never
goes deeper into the stone than will allow it comfortably to bathe its
red nose in the free water, though it is not at all particular about
the angle to the surface at which it bores. The myriads and myriads
of these auger-holes that have been bored remain, though the feeble
animals perish generation after generation; each new-born shell-fish
makes a new bore for itself, never appropriating one ready-made, and so
there is a perpetual excavation of the living rock with these shallow
auger-holes, always of the same width, or nearly; about half-an-inch.
The result is what we see; that the surface of the rock knows no such
thing as a plane surface, but a surface covered with smooth borings,
running in all directions, so as continually to break in on one
another; and that so close together, that the interspaces form narrow
knife-edges, and sharp angles and projecting points. A particularly
interesting circumstance is, that this honeycombed condition is
characteristic not only of that level of the rock which is covered by
the sea for some portion of every tide, but of that part, to a certain
height, which is never covered at all. The Mollusca, it is true, cannot
live wholly deprived of sea-water, and, in fact, there are none in
this ever-dry portion, though the burrows by thousands testify that
they were there once. We must infer that the coast has been generally
elevated; perhaps by slow and imperceptible degrees, by an operation
still proceeding but unappreciated; perhaps by some sudden convulsion
which took place at a remote era, unrecorded and forgotten.

HOW ARE ROCK-POOLS MADE?

When once raised beyond the level of the highest tide, the eroded
surface appears to have a permanency which defies the action of the
elements for an undefinable period; for it seems liable to little
change. It is probably comparatively unalterable, or alterable slowly,
beneath the level of the lowest tide. But between tide-marks, the
perpetual change from wetness to dryness and back again, and the
incessant wash of the waves, which frequently beat and dash upon the
eroded surface with immense violence, are continually grinding down
the projecting points and thin walls of stone, and thus creating a new
surface, to be bored afresh by new generations of Mollusca.

It has seemed to me that these burrows have played and are playing
an important part in the formation of the numberless rocky basins
which we call tide-pools, and in which we marine naturalists so much
delight. Let us look at the process. About half-tide level there is a
mass of bored rock, from whose burrows the tenants are dying out for
want of sufficiently long water-covering. A heavy sea is breaking over
it, which has snapped off the thin partition beneath two contiguous
burrows, breaking it into several sharply angular bits, which fall into
the hole. The whirling and eddying of the waves rattle and roll these
fragments round and round day after day, week after week, till at last
they are ground to nothing: but an equal effect has been produced on
the hollow which held them; its cavity has been widened and deepened
by the same grinding action. By-and-by a pebble is rolled in, and being
almost large enough to fill the cavity, it does not readily wash out,
but grinds round and round with the motion of the sea. So the process
goes on, perhaps for centuries, perhaps with long intervals of almost
sameness; every stone that is washed-in enlarging the work; while, when
once the hollow has become only ever so little larger or deeper than
those which surround it, the pebbles will have an increasing tendency
to roll in and to stay there. So, at length, the basin is formed,
tiny at first;--I know scores not so big as a slop-bowl, which yet
have their furniture of elegant little sea-weeds, green and purple,
and their tenants of worms, and shrimps, and polyps;--but destined
by-and-by to become noble reservoirs in which man may pleasantly bathe,
and in which little fishes play and shoot to and fro, and hide under
the umbrageous fronds of the oar-weed and tangle that droop gracefully
into the ample cavity.

CORKWING.

In the pleasant sunny afternoons of this season of the year we may find
in tolerable abundance the pretty Cork-wing,[98] in such rock-pools
as I have been speaking of. In the shallow hollows of the ledges
they shoot hither and thither, the swift movement just catching the
collector’s eye; but here they are difficult to capture, owing to the
numerous exits and hiding-places among the stones. The deeper basins
are pretty sure of containing one or two, and generally of larger size.
Here the dip-net can be brought into action, and they are readily
taken. But the finest specimens are obtained around the edges of the
rocks in the free water, and where there is considerable depth. Here
the attentive eye discerns them quietly hovering, some yard or two
beneath the surface, deliberately picking their tiny crustacean food
from the drooping weeds, or playing to and fro in little parties of
half-a-dozen, on motionless or gently undulating fins; a pretty sight
to watch. From these seaward edges of the rocks the coarser sea-weeds
growing in a thick fringe, when the tide has left them partly exposed,
hang their tips in the heaving water; and under this grateful shelter
the little Corkwings, as well as other small fishes, their companions,
delight to disport themselves, finding copious food in the purple
obscurity, and getting many a peep through the latticed leaves at their
idler fellows in gamesome play without. If, now, the collector have
provided himself with a stiff ring-net, and a long and stout handle, he
may sift out, as it were, the tenants of these shades, by collecting,
in succession, the drooping weed-tips in the mouth of his net, and
lifting it gently through them; when the lovely little emerald fishes
will be found, two or three at each dip, struggling and panting and
leaping and quivering their helpless fins at the bottom of his bag.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 22.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  CORKWING WRASSE.
]

The Corkwing belongs to the great Wrasse family; which, though it
chiefly develops itself in the tropical seas, is yet well represented
in our own. Yarrell has figured thirteen species, all of them found
on our south-western shores, and a few of them ranging to the north
as well. The entire family is remarkable for its bright and gorgeous
hues, often taking the form of bands, stripes and spots, well defined,
and in vivid contrasts. This little species, which extends to the
length of five inches, but is much more commonly taken not more than
half that size, is of a rich emerald-green hue, lighter beneath, and
generally marked with a conspicuous black spot on each side of the base
of the tail. Small individuals are frequently found, of a dark reddish
brown, arranged in a minute tesselated pattern on a pale ground; and
occasionally of a rich golden bronzed hue. The eyes are usually of the
finest vermilion.

FIGURES OF WRASSES.

They are entertaining inmates of an aquarium; they play slowly up
and down in the corners of the tank, exploring every angle and
cranny, hanging in every possible attitude, especially at night.
They soon become familiar, and may be preserved in health a long
time. They are constantly occupied in searching for, and picking off
atoms, invisible to us, with their protrusile lips. These organs are
remarkably large, thick, and fleshy, whence has been derived the name
of the family, _Labridæ_ (from _labrum_, a lip); and, in death, they
are generally projected in an uncouth and repulsive form. It is a
pity that Yarrell’s figures have been for the most part copied from
specimens in this distorted condition, and are therefore hideous
caricatures of the little beauties. His Corkwing is a notable example,
presenting but little resemblance to the playful emerald in my tank;
while the Gilthead and the Sea-wife are still more horrible. It is
matter of regret that so large a portion of our pictorial natural
history represents death rather than life; while a herd of slavish
compilers, who have never seen the creatures on which they obtrude
their teachings, copy such imperfect figures, and copy each other, and
go on augmenting the distortions, and straying farther and farther from
nature, till all _vraisemblance_ is lost in the ludicrous caricature.

In a former work[99] I have narrated the untimely fate of one of these
pretty fishes in my possession, through the poison-darts of a Parasitic
Anemone.[100] A similar accident befell one lately, which I had
kept in my tank for about two months. This individual, about two and
a half inches long, active and healthy, made a backward spring, and
came in contact with the tentacles of an _Anthea cereus_, which in an
instant enveloped its hinder half, clinging round and over it and quite
covering that portion. I was looking on, and after a moment’s glance to
see that the fish was perfectly helpless, I removed it with a stick,
so that it was free in about half a minute from its accident. But the
effect was manifest; it swam away indeed, but irregularly and fitfully,
and presently sank down on the bottom; lay awhile, then struggled up
for a few seconds, swimming on one side, as if partly paralysed, and
frequently turning over belly-up; then sinking obliquely down and
hiding its nose between the stones. The fins were white and ragged, and
the skin of the hinder part was ruffled up in parts, and the entire
hind-half looked diseased. By night it was not to be seen; but the next
morning I found it, dead and stiff, and with the whole of the parts
that had been embraced by the Anthea turned of a pellucid white, the
edges of the fins sloughed away and decomposing.

When we consider that the entire period of contact was no more than
half a minute, the power of the subtle poison, injected by the _cnidæ_
of the Opelet, becomes very manifest; and the accident afforded me
another confirmation of what has been fondly denied, the amazing energy
of the poison-apparatus in the ACTINOZOA.

LUCKY PROACH.

An assiduous searching of these hanging fringes of fuci will be sure
to yield a pleasing return of other objects. Neglecting at this moment
the Prawns, Æsops, Opossum-shrimps, Spider-crabs, and many other
_crustacea_, not to speak of other classes, let us direct our thoughts
exclusively to the fishes. You will get probably one or two specimens
of that little bull-headed rogue, the Father-lasher,[101] armed at all
points, like a knight in the fair time of chivalry. An impudent little
rascal he looks, and right villanous; but whether he is in truth guilty
of whipping his paternal parent, this deponent saith not. Big-headed,
wide-mouthed, staring-eyed, beset on all sides with hard spines as
sharp as needles, which he erects with threatening fierceness as he
anticipates your touch, this Lucky Proach, as our northern friends name
him, may not invite a close acquaintance; and indeed our fishermen
generally jerk him energetically out of the net as soon as they see
him, thinking themselves “lucky” to be well quit of his prickles.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 23.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  FATHER-LASHER.        WORM-PIPEFISH.
]

ITS HABITS.

Yet in truth he makes a funny little tenant of the aquarium.
His colours are agreeable; deep rich brown on the upper parts,
fantastically patched and clouded with various shades from black to
pure white, while the sides and belly are brilliantly silvery or
opalescent. His countenance expresses considerable intelligence; and
the contrast between his aspect when he is alarmed, and all his spines
are laid flat, and when he thinks to carry his point by bullying, and
bristles up all his sharp lances, and glares with a threatening goggle,
is very amusing. He presently becomes at home; for a day or two he
skulks under the rocky ledges, and you see little of him; but soon his
characteristic impudence reassures him, and _vires acquirit eundo_; he
makes short hasty sallies into the open, and instantly scuttles back
to his retreat; presently you see his great head projecting out of
some crevice in the rocks, whence he can command a pretty extensive
view; and now that is his selected home, and there henceforward you
may pretty surely find him, whenever he is not to be seen engaged in
predatory forays in some other quarter of the tank. Now he grows very
saucy; not a Blenny or Goby or Pipe can come before his castle-gate but
Proach must dash out to have a passage-of-arms with him, returning,
in all the pride of conquest, when he has driven the routed foe out
of sight, to his rocky fortress, and settling himself in the same
watchful attitude as before. Every atom of meat that you drop into the
water within his range of vision must be his: you perhaps intended the
morsel for the Goby or the Blenny, but Proach sees it, and Proach must
have it. They indeed may sail up towards the speck, but Proach dashes
up, bristling with indignation at their temerity, and snaps the food
from before their very noses. Not one of them can get a bit till Proach
is satiated; and I have often seen him lie with a morsel projecting
from his mouth for some time, absolutely incapable of swallowing more,
before he would relinquish the contest. Now he fears nothing; he will
even rush to the surface when he sees you approaching, and, with a
sudden snap, seize the meat in your fingers, and drag it away.

Mr. R. Q. Couch gives us some interesting particulars of this little
fish, or his brother, the Sea-scorpion; for they are so much alike,
both in appearance and manners, that some naturalists do not recognise
any specific difference between them. “When caught,” he says, “it
makes a croaking kind of noise; opens its gill-covers, and erects the
spines of its head, and stiffens its whole body, as if prepared for a
vigorous defence. The spines are covered with a skin or sheath, which
the creature has the power of drawing from the points and leaving
them bare. This fish will live a long time out of water, provided
it be kept slightly wet, but soon dies on immersion in fresh water.
Those fish that swim deeply are able to sustain life much longer than
those that swim near the surface; and the former are more sluggish in
their movements, and require less aërated water for respiration. The
more active are surface-swimmers. The immersion in fresh water acts
as a poison, death not resulting from any variation in the respirable
quality of the water. If a Sea-scorpion, after being taken from the
sea, be constantly kept wet with salt water, it will live for a
considerable time, the gill-covers acting as if surrounded by water.
If the gills be kept wet and the skin dry, the creature gets restless,
croaks, the gills move less rapidly than before, and it then dies at an
earlier period than when kept altogether moist. If the gills be wetted
with fresh water well aërated, life is not so long retained, but the
fish seems more active for a time, and dies at last almost in a state
of plethora.”[102]

According to Yarrell, “this species spawns in January, and the ova at
that time are very large and of a fine orange-yellow colour. These
are deposited near the sea-shore, frequently in the estuaries, and
sometimes even in rivers; the fish having prepared itself for this
change by its previous residence in the brackish water, after which
it appears to be able to bear either extreme. Its food is small
crustaceous animals, and it is said to be particularly partial to
feeding on the fry of the Blennies.”

RESPIRATION OF FISHES.

On the subject of its instant death, when removed from its native
element to fresh water, the same naturalist remarks, alluding to the
hypothesis that the speedy death of fishes in general, when removed
into the atmosphere, is due to the drying of the delicate membranes of
the gills; “the reverse of desiccation takes place in this instance:
the gills are bathed with a fluid containing more oxygen than
sea-water, and which also yields that oxygen much easier, yet death
happens immediately. In this last instance it may be inferred that the
fish, unable suddenly to accommodate its respiratory organs to fluids
of such different densities as those of pure sea and fresh water, the
blood is imperfectly aërated, the brain is affected, convulsions ensue,
and if not released it soon dies.”[103]

You will pretty certainly find in your net, too, twining and writhing
about like little snakes, some of the smaller species of Pipe-fishes,
often called Sea-adders, and most abundantly the smallest of them,
and the commonest in shallow waters,--the Worm Pipe.[104] The pretty
Æquoreal Pipe, or as Mr. Couch appropriately names it, the Painted
Sea-adder (from the variegated tints of brown and yellow, wherewith its
numerous angular plates are individually adorned), is abundant enough
all along our southern coast, in deeper water, affecting the extensive
beds of zostera, and of sea-weeds, which in many places clothe the
bottom. The eminent Cornish zoologist observes of this species, that
“in May and June, and frequently in July, and occasionally in August,
these fish rise to the surface of the water, however deep it may
be, and bask themselves in the sun. They retain their position at
the surface by clasping with their tails the cords and buoys of the
crab-pots, sticks, or any other substance they may find floating at the
surface. The whole of the caudal portion of the body is coiled round
the stick or cord, and the heads lie either horizontally or at right
angles to the surface. In some seasons the buoy-ropes of the crab-pots
are literally obscured by them from the surface of the water down as
far as the eye can penetrate.”

PIPE-FISHES.

The little Worm Pipe may also lay claim to the title of “painted;” for
its anterior parts especially are generally marked with spots of pure
white bounded by a border of black, while the cheeks and throat are
covered with a delicate flush of purple. The habit mentioned by Mr.
Couch of curling the tip of the tail around objects in the water is
manifested quite as strongly by this more slender and more flexible
species, which does not possess any trace of a fin at the tail-tip.
This prehensile organ is in a moment whipped round the stem of any
sea-weed or similar object with which it comes into contact; and thus
moored, the pretty Pipe throws its little body into all sorts of
elegant contortions, hanging freely down, or elevating itself almost
perpendicularly, at pleasure.[105]

The fins in this genus of fishes are very small and feeble. Some of
them have a pair of excessively minute pectorals, an almost invisible
anal, and a tiny fan for a caudal. All have a short delicate dorsal,
and several have no other fin than this, of which section the Worm Pipe
is an example. Yet, according to the Swedish naturalist, Fries, the
young of this species possess at their birth both caudal and pectorals,
the former extending far up on the body, both on the dorsal and ventral
edges. All these are in after life absorbed except sufficient to form
the permanent dorsal. This fin, in the whole family, is excessively
filmy, and is, during the action of swimming, fluttered with a very
rapid screw-like vibration.

A PERSECUTED PIPE.

Slight as are the organs of motion, they are sufficient for the
Pipe-fish’s ordinary exigencies; and Mr. Patterson has recorded an
interesting example of their capability to achieve movements of an
unusual kind. He had captured the finest of our species,[106] which
he had committed to a basin of sea-water. “One of the long-bodied
crustacea, which are abundant during fine weather, and had been
captured at the same time, was placed in the same vessel. It was a
species of _Gammarus_, and about an inch in length. The _Gammarus_
would seem to have got tired of swimming, and, for a resting-place,
it fixed itself on the back of the Pipe-fish, close to the tail. The
fish had not been a consenting party to this arrangement, and soon
evinced its dissatisfaction, by lashing the tail with great violence
on each side, to dislodge the intruder. He, however, kept his hold;
and so soon as the fish ceased for a few seconds, he crept a little
further up on the back, as if aware that the velocity of movement was
less near the centre of the circle. The fish lashed the water again
with great violence, but without any good result; and so soon as it
stopped, the _Gammarus_ crept up a little nearer to the head. The
_Gammarus_ seemed to be the marine prototype of the old Man of the
Mountain, whose pertinacity, in retaining his place on the back of
Sinbad the Sailor, is a portion of that lore of our boyhood, that is
never afterwards forgotten. The Pipe-fish then changed its tactics.
Instead of lashing with its tail, it gave to its whole body the kind of
movement it might have had if fixed on a Lilliputian spit, and in the
act of being roasted. The body was made to revolve round and round on
its longitudinal axis; but the _Gammarus_ still held on, and, at each
interval of rest, made a few steps further in advance. This was more
than once repeated, until, pitying the poor Pipe-fish, we removed the
cause of its annoyance to another vessel.”[107]

Among these pleasing little fishes some very remarkable deviations from
the ordinary economy of animals occur, though not quite unique. In
almost all the Mammalia of Australia, as is well known, the female has
an external pouch or false belly, into which the young is transferred
at a very early period of embryonic life, and there matured. In the
_Pipa_, or Surinam Toad, the eggs are laid by the female, and placed on
the broad back of the male, cells being then formed in the skin, which
receive the eggs till they are hatched. Somewhat like the latter is
the case of the Pipe-fishes, among which it is the male that acts as
wet-nurse. Along his belly runs a groove, formed by two flaps of skin,
within which the eggs, when laid by the female, are placed, and in
which they are safely carried till the birth of the infant fry.

How wondrously diversified are the modes ordained by the Divine
Wisdom for maintaining the economy of creation! What a depth is there
in that revelation concerning the everlasting Son, “in whom we have
redemption,”--that “all things were created by Him, and for Him,
and He is before all things, and by Him all things _hold together_
(συνέστηκε).”[108]

BUTTERFLY BLENNY.

I have taken in similar circumstances a little fish which is considered
very rare on our shores, the Butterfly Blenny.[109] The Mediterranean
coasts of Europe are its proper home, where it resorts to the tufts
of weeds, feeding on minute _Crustacea_ and _Mollusca_. Yarrell cites
three examples as having been obtained by dredging off South Devon,
and one from which his own figure was taken, which was obtained among
the rocks of Portland. As he alludes to no other British examples, he
probably knew of no more. Mr. R. Q. Couch, in his _Notes on the Fishes
of the Land’s End_, says, “A single specimen of this fish was taken
by a trawl-net in 1845, but the spot on the first dorsal fin was so
obscure as scarcely to be noticed.”

[Illustration:

  PLATE 24.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  FRECKLED GOBY.    BUTTERFLY BLENNY.
]

It is therefore with the more satisfaction that I can record the
possession of two specimens, one taken in Weymouth Bay from deep water,
the other among the hanging weeds of this shore. Both were in full
development and high colour, the spot on the fin from which both the
specific and the popular names are derived, strongly marked, so that
I am enabled to give a representation of this interesting fish in its
vivid hues, as it appears in life and health.

The form is thick-set, as is that of the other more common species of
the genus; the forehead is, however, rounded and less abrupt, which
imparts to it a different physiognomy. The fins are ample, with the
exception of the ventrals, which in all this genus consist of two
rays each; the pectorals very large, nearly circular, transparent and
colourless, with pearly rays. The dorsal is divided into two portions,
of which the first is elevated like a tall sail, the first ray standing
up a long way beyond the membrane. Its colour is smoke-brown, deeper at
the summit; towards the hind end of this portion there is a large round
black spot, surrounded by a well-defined pale ring; very conspicuous,
indeed, in my specimens, and strikingly suggestive of the eye-spots in
the wings of many butterflies and moths. As if conscious of its beauty,
the fish travels _with all sail set_, and thus shows its characteristic
mark to advantage.

The body is varied with different hues of brown, black, and grey, the
deeper colours forming transverse bands on the upper parts; while along
each side run two rows of spots of pearly azure, defined by a dark edge.

Just in front of each eye there is a small appendage which looks like
a small horn, with the tip and edge cut into segments; it is but a
projection of the skin. Several other species of the genus have similar
ornaments on various parts of the face and head: I have no conception
of their use in the economy of the tribe.

SHANNY.

There is a curious peculiarity in the eye of this fish, which I do
not perceive in the Shanny, nor in any other species. On looking
cursorily at it, you would suppose that it had a very widely-opened
pupil, surrounded by a white line, which appears to be the interior
edge of the iris. But on watching it with a lens, the whole of this
dark area within the white circle is seen to be prominent, convex, and
opaque, of a substance which reflects the richest metallic lustre,
sometimes turquoise blue, but changing in other lights to a bronzed
or gilded appearance; not, however, as if burnished, but as if dusted
with metal filings. In the centre of this area a pupil alternately
opens and closes, expanding and contracting circularly, with a regular
systole and diastole, a little more quickly than the periodic opening
and shutting of the gill-covers, but nearly corresponding therewith.
The contraction of this pupil is perfect, so as completely to conceal
it, and the expansion is irregular in extent, though regular in time;
sometimes it is but just perceptible, when the next opening will be as
wide as usual. Occasionally, the motion ceases, the area displaying no
trace of a pupil.

Mr. Ross of Topsham, an excellent marine zoologist, has observed a
highly curious habit in the commonest of the Blennies. It is the Smooth
Shan, Shanny, or Tansy,[110] of our southern shore-bays. I was aware
that these little fishes were capable of enduring with impunity a
protracted exposure to the air, which would be fatal to many, but I did
not suppose that the habit was normal and constant. The facts reported
are of great interest.

“A specimen of the fish,” says Mr. Ross, “was brought to me on the 3d
of June. On placing it in a glass vessel of sea-water, it appeared
perfectly quiet for some hours, but at length became restless, and
made frequent attempts to throw itself out of the water. It then
occurred to me, that on a former occasion, when by the sea-side, I had
a Gattoruginous Blenny, in a vessel with some Actiniæ and Serpulæ,
which regularly passed a portion of its time on a stone; I therefore
placed one in the glass. The _Blennius pholis_ immediately leaped on it
completely out of the water. It therefore appears that these changes
are necessary to its existence. On going to the front of the house, I
perceived that it was near low water. Knowing that it would flow till
ten o’clock that night, I watched the movements of my little captive,
and as the clock struck, had the gratification of seeing it plunge
again into its natural element. It has now been more than five months
in my possession, and has proved throughout that period a regular and
correct tide-indicator. I was well aware that these fish are constantly
left by the receding tide on the rocks, remaining concealed in small
basins or holes, under the weed, till the returning flood; still I
was not prepared to see a fish voluntarily quit the water, and pass
so large a portion of its existence in a different element, and by
instinct alone time its change of position so exactly.”[111]

This is a highly curious observation; but, as to Mr. Ross’s inference
that “these changes are necessary to its existence,” I may remark that
I have been in the habit of keeping the Shanny for long periods in my
tanks, without any opportunity for such alternations.

FRECKLED GOBY.

I catch at the same time, and at the same place, but under different
conditions, a tiny fish of the same family, possessing remarkable
delicacy of appearance. It is the Freckled Goby of Yarrell, Spotted
Goby of Pennant, _le Boulereau blanc_ of the French, the Polewig, and
the Pollybait of the Thames fisherman.[112] Yarrell tells us that it
is most plentiful in the Thames, doubtless coming up with the tide,
for I do not think it would live with the admixture of any great
quantity of fresh water. It is used for the baiting of the hook in
the line-fishing, like most other minute fishes that can be taken in
sufficient numbers, and with sufficient certainty, by means of the net.

Here I find it in the wide pools that lie in the hollows of the ledges,
with a bottom of sand, and not more than an inch or two of water. Under
an August sun this becomes, during the three or four hours that the
receding sea of spring-tides leaves it, quite tepid; often standing
at blood-heat, or even higher. In these shallows the Freckled Goby
lies, companion of the Sand-shrimp, which in size, translucency,
and colouring, it closely resembles. It remains quite still, as if
conscious of its safety-point, for it is with difficulty visible,
even if your eye is resting on the very spot; what little of colour
it has being exactly that of the surrounding sand. When danger comes
too close, it shoots to another part, and you detect that something
indistinct passed rapidly along; it does not, however, habitually seek
the shelter of the fringing weeds, as a Prawn would, but suddenly
becomes still in the open space, settling close down upon the sand,
just as the Shrimps do. It is rather harder to capture than one would
suppose; but I find the surest way is to place the mouth of the net
obliquely on the bottom, a few inches in front of the fish, without
disturbing him; then, approaching him with my hand from behind, he
leaps in and is secured. When taken it is a pretty and attractive
little species; very pellucid, showing the stomach and intestine quite
plainly through the muscles, as a dark mass; and even the brain,
which also is darkish, probably from the number and fulness of the
blood-vessels which supply that important organ. This apparition of
the internal viscera in a vertebrate animal strikes one as something
unusual and remarkable.

The entire surface of this translucent and almost colourless body is
studded with minute specks of rust-red, and with still smaller ones
of opaque pale yellow, which are visible only with the aid of a lens.
Nothing can be more sand-like than this aggregation of red and yellow
dots, and surely we must look upon it, in conjunction with the habits
of the little feeble fish, as a special provision for its safety,
ordained by Him whose tender mercies are over _all_ His works. The
eyes are very prominent, and set in very thick and dark orbits; the
pupil is surrounded by a crimson iris. Great size and prominence of the
eyes is quite characteristic of the fishes of this family. It may be
that their habitual residence in the shallows exposes them peculiarly
to the attacks of enemies; and the size of the eye may be connected
with a greater power or quickness of sight, indicating a proportionate
development of the optic nerve. But this is only a conjecture.

The pectorals, as usual, are large, but quite colourless, and hence
can scarcely be discerned, or only like a film of clear talc. The two
dorsals are ordinarily carried, when at rest, depressed quite down to
the back, but are elevated in swimming. The tail is crossed vertically
by bands of red dots. Like most of the sand-loving creatures, the
Freckled Goby does not long survive captivity in a tank. Perhaps,
however, this may be because our aquariums are not specially arranged
with a view to their instincts. A very wide shallow vessel, with a
bottom of sand, and a piece or two of rough rock for shadow, stocked
with Freckled Gobies, Weavers, Sand-launces, Shrimps, Venuses, Naticas,
etc., might do well. But these will not do with an ordinary collection
of rock-loving things.

What Crantz says of the coast of Greenland is not less true of our
own rocky sea-margins. “These shores are the best and grandest school
for the study of fishes. Here the naturalist may attain a fundamental
acquaintance with them, and discover the nature and instincts of each
species. It would prove a spacious field of observation for a curious,
inquiring mind, which would often fall into a train of profound
meditation, as he surveyed the nature and function and relations of
the inhabitants of the vast ocean, from the minutest insect, scarce
perceptible to the eye, to the monstrous whales, together with the
seemingly fabulous great sea-monsters, and the equally inconceivable
zoophytes, or” [as then supposed] “half-animal sea productions. Yet,
after all, the most speculative and penetrating human mind will never
be able to pry so deep into the manifold wisdom of God in his creatures
as to search them out to perfection; even the meanest of them, and such
as are before every one’s eyes. But, for that very reason, because we
are so imperfect, we are never satiated with the study of nature, nor
weary of rendering that praise to the Lord of Nature which He expects
from His creatures.”

FOOTNOTES:

[98] _Crenilabrus Cornubicus_, of which a group, in several varieties
of colour, size, and position, are represented in Plate XXII.

[99] _Aquarium_ (2d Ed.), p. 108.

[100] _Sagartia parasitica._

[101] _Cottus bubalis_, two specimens of which are figured in the
centre and left corner of Plate XXIII.

[102] _Zoologist_, p. 1403.

[103] _British Fishes_ (2d Ed.), pp. 79, 81.

[104] _Syngnathus lumbriciformis_, represented in its favourite
attitude, on a tuft of _Chondrus_, at the right side of Plate XXIII.

[105] In a paper read before the Zoological Society on June 11th, 1861,
Dr. J. E. Gray describes as new to naturalists these and other habits
of the Pipe-fishes, which he had observed when watching specimens kept
in the tanks of the gardens in Regent Park. And he takes occasion to
lecture other “persons who have leisure and opportunity” for not giving
more particulars of the manners of fishes. But the habits in question
had been described in minute detail by myself nine years before (see
my _Devonshire Coast_, p. 180, _et seq._), together with many other
interesting points in the economy of these curious fishes. The still
earlier observations of Mr. Couch are also thus cavalierly ignored.

[106] _Syngnathus acus._

[107] _Zoology for Schools_, p. 221.

[108] Col. i. 16, 17.

[109] _Blennius ocellaris_: it is the principal figure in Plate XXIV.

[110] _Blennius pholis._

[111] Originally communicated to a Monmouthshire newspaper in Oct. 1847.

[112] _Gobius minutus_ of zoologists, represented in the centre of
Plate XXIV., partly overshadowed by the Butterfly Blenny.



IX.

SEPTEMBER.


Good service was done to the cause of science when, some fifteen or
twenty years since, Robert Ball of Dublin invented the naturalist’s
dredge. A huge unwieldy form of the implement has indeed been long in
use among fishermen for the obtaining of oysters and scallops; a clumsy
affair, of which the frame, furnished only with a single lip, was four
or five feet wide, and the bag was formed of iron rings, two inches in
diameter,--a loose and open sort of chain-mail. There was an object in
this last arrangement; for while the chain-work retained all oysters
of a marketable size, the meshes allowed all to escape which were of
less dimensions, and so these remained on the ground to grow bigger for
another season.

Naturalists did gladly avail themselves of this uncouth apparatus, and
many valuable things were scraped from the sea-bottom thereby; but
they never could have used it without regret at the thought of the
thousands of unknown and unimagined treasures which must have slipped
through those huge meshes. No object of less size than two inches in
any diameter had a chance of being brought to the surface; and how many
precious specimens range below these dimensions we are now beginning to
discover.

Yes; I’m glad I have got a Ball’s dredge; and this fair autumnal
morning I mean to use it; to go out with honest Harvey, and scrape the
stony sea-bottom in the offing yonder. It is a nice portable affair,
that one hand can manage; eighteen inches by four and a half are the
dimensions of the frame; the scraping lips are double, one on each
edge, so that, however the dredge falls on the bottom, it is sure to
scrape; a double bridle from each side meets in a ring to which the
rope is made fast; and the bag, some twenty inches deep, is made of
stout twine, well netted, with meshes about half an inch in diameter.
Owing to the swelling of the twine in the water, there is scarcely
anything of value that will escape such a net.

Harvey has carried down everything to Babbicombe Beach, and now all is
on board; dredge, sieve, pans, buckets, jars, bottles, _ad libitum_.
And now we run up the mainsail and jib, and with a light westerly
breeze and smooth water, lie up for Exmouth, or a little beyond, for
about an hour.

DREDGING.

Now we have made our offing, and can look well into Teignmouth Harbour,
the bluff point of the Ness some four miles distant, scarcely definable
now against the land. We pull down sails, set her head for the Orestone
Rock, and drift with the tide. The dredge is hove overboard, paying
out some forty fathoms of line, for we have about twelve or fourteen
fathoms’ water here, with a nice rough, rubbly bottom, over which, as
we hold the line in hand, we feel the iron lip of the dredge grate and
rumble, without catches or jumps. Now and then, for a brief space, it
goes smoothly, and the hand feels nothing; that is when a patch of sand
is crossed, or a bed of zostera, or close-growing sea-weeds, each a
good variation for yielding.

“What d’ye say, Tom? Shall we try it?”

“Ay, ay, sir!”

Up comes the wet line under Tom’s strong muscular pulling, and as
it leaves his hands, we coil it snug in the bows of the boat. Dimly
appears the dredge some yards below the surface, and now it comes
to light, and is fairly lifted aboard. “’Tis mortal heavy!” Well
it may be, for here is a pretty cargo of huge, rough stones, great
oyster-shells, and I know not what. Bright scarlets and crimsons and
yellows I discern, and many a twinkling movement among the chaos raises
our expectations of something good. We pick out the most conspicuous
things, and now turn the whole contents bodily on this old shutter,
which we have laid across two thwarts. ’Tis done; and now heave the
dredge over again, and we are free to work at the mass with all our
eyes and fingers.

The first thing that strikes attention from its size and brilliant
colours is a great Sun-star.[113] This is a noble example of the
Star-fish family, not uncommon off these shores. The disk of this
specimen is two inches and a half wide, and the rays, which are here
eleven in number (more commonly twelve) are one and three-fourths
long, so that the total diameter of this fine creature is six inches.
The upper surface is convex and cake-like, but can be plumped up at
pleasure. Both disk and rays are studded with small whitish knobs,
which seem simple to the eye, but when magnified are seen to be formed
of short and close-set spines. They are not regularly arranged on the
rays any more than on the disk. Slightly elevated ridges connect the
knobs, thus covering the whole surface with a raised network.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 25.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  GRANULATE BRITTLE-STAR.      SUN-STAR.
]

SUN-STAR.

The general colour of the disk is a fine rose-pink, deeper on a
circular area in the centre; the network is a deeper rose, especially
just around the bases of the knobs. The base of each ray is crossed
by a broad band of pure white, both knobs and network. The remainder
of the rays is of a pale orange-scarlet, becoming more truly scarlet
in the middle portion; the network of the same hue, but deeper. Over
the entire surface the areas of the net are occupied by series of ovate
whitish hollows, from each of which protrudes a minute clear bladder or
closed tube, exactly like those we lately saw in the little Starlet.
The madreporic plate is seen about midway between the centre and one
of the angles, as a tiny cake-shaped white body, grooved exactly like
a brain-stone.

Beneath, the rays are ploughed with a deep groove, in which are
two rows of sucker-feet; towards the tip, however, their place is
supplied by long slender pointed tentacular processes. The avenues
are bordered by flat knobs, set like the edging-stones of a garden
walk, each of which carries five or six spines radiating like a fan,
_lengthwise_. Each set sends off a branch which carries another fan
placed _transversely_, of six to ten spines. Then the white satiny
skin sends up at the very edge of the ray short stems, each bearing a
group of fifteen to twenty spines, having a tendency to a transverse
arrangement, but not in a single row. These form the edges of the
rays, seen from above and below. At the bases of the rays beneath, the
angle terminates in a broad plate, which is cut into a comb of about
eighteen flat spines, the whole having a semi-oval outline, projecting
towards the mouth. At the tip of each avenue we discern the little
scarlet eye, well protected by the crowding rows of fans.

The mouth gapes, and gives an unexpected insight into the diet of this
gaily-painted gentleman. We see a bit of an Echinus shell, and on
taking hold of it with a pair of pliers, and carefully dragging, lo!
forth comes the entire box of a Purple-tipped Urchin, nearly an inch
in diameter, empty of course, through the force of Mr. Sun’s gastric
juice, and denuded of spines. Ugh! the cannibal! to eat his own first
cousin!

We put him into a shallow pan of water, where he crawls slowly. He is
fond of curling the rays over his back, so as nearly to meet, perhaps
to have a look at the new world in which he finds himself. Then he
turns himself right over in the shallow water, bathing the under
surface in the air, the suckers moving all the time to and fro with
great rapidity, and (we fancy) with enjoyment.

Several specimens of the common Cross-fish occur, large and richly
coloured, and many of the Urchin just named; but these we can find
every day in-shore; so they are contemptuously thrown over the gunwale.

GRANULATE BRITTLE-STAR.

Ha! here is a fine thing! It is the Granulate Brittle-star,[114] a
species said to be widely spread, but I never saw it before. It is
confined to deep water. It is a very fine imposing species, reminding
me (a strange comparison, you will say!) of the great South American
hairy Spiders, with a brown body and long bristly legs sprawling over
a width of eight or ten inches. Its hues are said to be various, but I
will describe this as I see it.

The disk is a plump cushion slightly depressed in the centre, of a
light reddish umber, or sand-brown. The base of each ray is rich
red-brown, the colour encroaching on the disk with two points, and
running down the medial line of the ray. This hue is bordered by
velvety black, blending with it; and beyond the middle of the ray, the
deepening brown is pretty well lost in the black. The ray is edged with
spines standing out at right angles, and set in rows. These spines are
black with grey points, and greatly augment the noble aspect of the
creature. Each ray is about four and a half inches long, running off to
a fine point.

The animal resents being turned over, and refuses to lie in a supine
position, unlike the “malus pastor” of the poet. It curls and twists
the slender ray-tips, crawls rapidly, and courses round and round the
edge of the pan into which we have dropped it.

Let me anticipate here to narrate the after history of my captive.
Consigned to a shallow tank at home, after a few days I missed him one
morning, and on searching the whole room carefully, found him at length
under the edge of the hearth-rug, some yards from the tank, with all
his rays broken into many pieces, and only the short stumps remaining.
Though dry and apparently dead, I perceived a slight movement in the
stumps, which gave me hope of revival, and I replaced the poor maimed
thing, sadly shorn of his glory, in the tank. He did revive; and the
truncated ends of the ray-stumps enabled me to see the arrangement
of the spines. These form about nine rows on each side, radiating
fan-like; within the undermost row on each side is a row of flexible
bladdery tubes much like the suckers, and like them protruding from
orifices in the calcareous skeleton, but not retractile. They are
studded with tiny warts, and terminate not in a sucking disk, but
in a sort of bifid extremity. They are not used for locomotion, nor
are they ordinarily applied to the ground as if tactile, and yet are
continually thrown round so that the tip is brought up to the base,
and this suddenly and abruptly, and every few seconds, as if something
were captured and conveyed to the mouth; but this cannot be, for the
mouth is not there, and nothing is seen to be seized. Perhaps some
intelligence, in a way unimaginable by us, is thus obtained, of
outward things.

The poor maimed creature managed to stump awkwardly about for a
few days, but soon died, with no perceptible attempt to renew the
self-amputated members.

The Brittle-stars appear to move by means of the flexibility of their
long snake-like rays, the spines with which they are furnished enabling
these organs to obtain a hold on the surface along which they crawl;
and that so secure that even perpendicular and very smooth surfaces
present no hindrance to their progression. They have no proper suckers;
and the rays are not constituent portions of the body, containing
part of the stomach and intestine as in the true Star-fishes, but
imperforate appendages to it.

ANGLED CRAB.

Crouching among the rubbish, with all its long limbs snugly packed
together, as if hoping to find safety in being overlooked, we see a
strange form of crustacea, the Angled Crab.[115] Vain hope! How can
a creature of that bizarre form, and of those conspicuous colours,
be concealed from notice by merely lying still? Gently touch him
behind, and what an enormous length of limb is suddenly thrown out!
If, according to the proverb, “kings have long arms,” surely this must
be the very monarch of the crabs; and most curiously are they folded
when at rest, the fore-arm lying close, throughout its length, upon
the upper arm, the elbow projecting far on each side. The carapace is
sometimes described as rhomboidal, but this does not give us a correct
idea of its form; its outline is rather that of an isosceles triangle,
of which the apical half is cut off; the base of this truncate
triangle, which is the front side of the shell, runs off into two sharp
spines at the angles, and has also a broad projection in the middle,
on each side of which are seated the long footstalks of the eyes, and
which carries on its front the two pairs of antennæ. The thighs of the
true legs are thin and blade-like, so that these limbs all pack one
over the other very compactly.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 26.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  NUT-CRAB.   ANGLED-CRAB.
]

The general colour is a light salmon-red, often with the hinder half
of the carapace, and the inner sides of the limbs, of a pale buff. The
eyes (not the stalks) and the movable finger of each hand, which is
slender and elegantly curved, are polished black.

Not uncommon with us, it is not very often seen even by the naturalist,
as it seems to be properly an inhabitant of deep water. Occasionally
it is washed ashore on the beach by a heavy sea; but this is
accidental. Montagu first ascertained it to be British by finding
it at Kingsbridge, near Plymouth. Mr. Couch finds it common on
the Cornwall coast, together with an allied, but certainly distinct,
species, the _G. rhomboides_ of the Mediterranean, to be identified
by its lacking a second spine behind each angular one, which is well
marked in our species. Though essentially a southern form, it occurs
on the Dublin coast, and that in sufficient number to have obtained a
popular appellation,--that of “Coffin-crab;” the term “coffin” being
possibly a word of the Irish tongue, meaning something very different
from that which it suggests to our ears.

Cranch records, as a curious habit of the species, that “they live in
excavations formed in the hardened mud, and that their habitations,
at the extremities of which they live, are open at both ends.” This
description implies a habitat above low water, if not above tide-marks;
for where else could “hardened mud” be found? or if it were found in
the deep water, how could it come under the observer’s cognizance?
However, I know that many marine creatures are littoral in some
localities, which are exclusively deep-water subjects in others.

Several observant naturalists have noticed the frequency with which
the species is obtained from the stomachs of the larger ground-feeding
fishes,--the cod especially. Mr. Ball has taken four at a time from
a single cod in Youghal shambles. This is a well-known source for
procuring rare specimens of the inhabitants of the deep, particularly
Crustacea and the shelled Mollusca; for the fishes are expert and
persevering and successful collectors of natural history, and are
continually picking up objects for which the naturalist would almost
give one of his eyes. Mr. Gordon of Elgin, some years ago, gave a
long list of Crustacea, many of them of great rarity, which he had
procured from stomachs of cod-fish, “through the agency of Widow Scott
and her son John, of the fishing village of Stotfield,” on the Moray
Firth. His remarks are suggestive, not only to those residing on the
coast, but to the denizens of inland towns. “By a small douceur to the
fisherman’s family, and by the assistance of the fish-curer on the
coast, the fishmonger of the large town, or of some acquaintance in
the fishing village, it is believed that almost any number of these
now useless receptacles [viz., cod-stomachs], could be obtained. It
may excite at first a little nausea to open up and examine these
omnivorous reservoirs, but this will soon pass off; and were it of
longer continuance than it is, the stores to be unfolded would amply
compensate for all the disagreeable feeling that may for a time
arise. It is not only the crustacean that is thus gathered from the
inaccessible depths of the ocean, but often the rare shell, with its
still rarer inhabitant. The radiated animal and the curious zoophyte
will also be found congregated together there; all of them, no doubt,
at times mutilated or partly digested, but not unfrequently fresh and
complete, as if newly past the voracious jaws.”

NUT-CRAB.

Two or three specimens of another curious crab are also in our haul.
Unlike the _Gonoplax_, the little Nut-crab[116] is not by any means
conspicuous in a chaotic heap like this; it requires a sharp eye, and
one familiar with the form, to discern him. Remarkably sluggish, he
remains motionless; his tiny limbs are almost concealed under the edges
of his shell; his body is destitute of sharp angles; its colour is a
dull white: in fact the eye might roam over it a dozen times without
supposing it anything more than an irregular rubbed quartz pebble.

Yet when you pick it up, it is a pretty little Crab. The form of the
body is unlike that of any other of our genera; indeed the type of
which it is a representative, though largely developed in the tropical
and sub-tropical seas, scarcely reaches to our shores. Some of the
allied species in the hotter parts of the globe, are very curious, such
as the _Calappa_, a crab in which the very short limbs are so closely
packed to the body, and so wholly concealed by the smooth and rounded
shell, that the curious sailor often picks it up and pockets it, as
a pretty white stone, little suspecting that he has a living Crab in
his fob. And there it lies for hours, perhaps, till he pulls out his
supposed pebble, which has not ventured all the while to attempt to
crawl.

I believe almost all we yet know of the habits of the timid little
Nut-crabs is derived from the portrait that I drew of one of them[117]
some years ago, from specimens that I obtained at Weymouth. Since then
I have repeatedly kept it in captivity for long periods at a time, and
indeed I have one or two now. Yet I have little to add to the sketch I
then drew of its manners. It is inert, folding its tiny legs on itself
when touched, and remaining motionless for some time. It buries itself
in the gravel, descending backwards: this is a somewhat slow process,
suited to its usual phlegmatic habit. It brings its hindmost pairs of
feet on each side together; then thrusting down their united points,
opens and expands them, forcing apart the gravel; at the same moment
the posterior part of the body is brought down into the hollow thus
made, and the action of the feet is repeated. The process is continued
until the hinder parts are covered and the muzzle alone is visible,
with the two claws. Thus it sits quite still, reminding one of a toad,
the broad triangular pedipalps that fit so close occasionally opening,
like the folding-doors of a tiny cabinet, and allowing the palpi to be
thrust out to wipe the minute eyes. The face, when examined with a lens
through the glass walls of the aquarium, has a most funny expression,
being singularly like that of an ancient man.

Like many marine animals, _Ebalia_ uses the hours of the night as its
chief season of activity. As long as the candles are in the room, it
remains pretty still, but as soon as darkness reigns, it sets out on
its travels. Not indeed with the railway pace of some of its fellows
does our little ancient travel; he is but a “slow coach;” but he gropes
about among the pebbles, and is usually found the next morning, buried
at some distance from the point where the previous evening had left
him.[118]

BRYER’S NUT-CRAB.

The little specimens before us appear to belong to _Ebalia Bryerii_.
It is porcellaneous white, tinged with pale scarlet. The little feet
are painted scarlet on a white ground, especially the swollen-jointed
claws, which are very gay, and under a lens show a marbled pattern
of rich scarlet. This little Crab has an unique appearance, very
attractive. Its motions are quick and sudden, mostly lateral, when
alarmed; but it is habitually sluggish. Sometimes it appears to sham
death; for if pushed, it at first tries to escape by running; but if
the annoyance continues, it stiffens its limbs, and allows itself to be
pushed without resistance; and when laid on its back in the water, will
lie motionless for a minute or more, then suddenly turn over and crawl
away.

Hosts of other things we capture in this summary sweeping of the
sea-bottom, and by the time we have drifted down towards the Orestone,
till we are close enough to make out the noble leaves of the
tree-mallows that grow out of its rocky heights, we have accumulated a
marvellous store,--almost enough, indeed, to set up a little provincial
museum. Brittle-stars and urchins; cucumbers great and small; bivalve
and univalve mollusks; swollen ascidians, smooth and warty; active,
shuffling, sucking fishes; heaps of mossy _Bryozoa_; long bristling
tufts of Hydroid zoophytes; naked worms, twining and writhing amidst
the mass, gleaming in purple and pearl; sea-mice “armed in gold,”
like Virgil’s Orion; tangled masses of Serpula-pipes, every one
with its scarlet-crowned tenant; these, and multitudes of creatures
besides, come up from the teeming sea-floor, and all at once claim our
bewildered attention. And there is not one of the host that is not
worthy of it; not one that would not be an eloquent witness of its
Creator’s glory; but we must for the present neglect them all (not
without hope of another meeting with some of them at least), in order
to devote a few moments to one group of remarkable interest.

It is that unaccountable association of diverse and unrelated
creatures, which, if we had not repeatedly seen it, we should not
believe; the companionship of the Hermit-crab with the beautiful
Cloak-anemone.

HERMIT-CRAB AND CLOAKLET.

Every one is familiar with that impudent and intrusive species of
Hermit-crab,[119] which, with its foxy-brown head and legs protruding,
rolls over shells and pebbles with rattling patter, on almost every
beach. The species I speak of is quite distinct from that homely and
amusing subject. Though attaining a size fully equal, its proportions
are much slenderer and more elegant; and the colours,--a light fawn,
set off with soft tints of azure, lilac, and scarlet,--are far
more beautiful than those of its fellow; not to speak of technical
characters which abundantly distinguish the two.

The companion of the Cloaklet, which bears the name of Mr. Prideaux
of Plymouth, who first made it known, is exclusively a deep-water
species. Found on various parts of our coast, it invariably occurs in
this association. I believe the Crab in no instance lives without the
Anemone, the Anemone in no instance without the Crab. Examples, indeed,
do now and then occur, as mentioned by Forbes, in which the one comes
up in the dredge without the other; but I believe this is only when
the rude action of the dredge has frightened the Crab, and induced it
suddenly to vacate the shell and desert its friend. The Bernard is
never attended by any such companion.[120]

The history of the tenancy of univalve shells by these curious Crabs
is well known; and the comic scenes that take place in the process of
flitting from one tenement to another, larger and more commodious, have
been so fully narrated by myself and other observers, that I shall
assume the reader to be conversant with them.[121] And the rather
because the association of the Crab with the Zoophyte is a thing so
much more singular, so much more unaccountable, and so much less
generally known, that I shall seek to tell the story in some detail.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 27.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  PURPLE HERMIT-CRAB.    CLOAKLET.    COMMON HERMIT-CRAB.
]

HERMIT AND CLOAKLET.

To premise:--the Cloaklet is an anemone of the _Sagartia_ family,
beautiful in its colours and remarkable in its form. It is generally
reddish-brown on the outer (lower) part of its body, which hue melts
into snowy white on the upper parts; the whole studded with rosy-purple
spots, and surmounted by a marginal line of pale scarlet. The tentacles
and disk are pure white. It attains a rather large size, and has
the peculiarity of being not round in its basal outline like other
Anemones, but oblong, the base expanding in two lateral directions.
It always selects the inner lip of an univalve shell for its place of
adhesion, and the two lateral ends of its base gradually extend around
the mouth of the shell till they meet on its outer edge, and unite with
a suture: thus the outline of the animal forms a ring.

It had often been an interesting speculation with me, in what manner
the due relation of size is maintained between the _Adamsia_ and the
shell, in the progressive growth of the former. There is a manifest
proportion between the two, the young Cloaklet occupying a small shell,
such as that of a _Littorina_ or _Trochus_; the full-grown individual
a large one, such as that of a _Natica_ or _Buccinum_. The Crab is
able to shift from a smaller to a larger shell when he needs enlarged
accommodation; and since we know that his congener, _P. Bernhardus_,
does this habitually, we naturally conclude that such is the habit of
_P. Prideauxii_. Presuming then that this is the case, what becomes
of the _Adamsia_? If the Crab shifts his quarters and leaves the
_Adamsia_ behind, the association is broken, and we should constantly
find _Paguri_ without _Adamsiæ_, and _Adamsiæ_ without _Paguri_. But we
find neither the one nor the other.

On the other hand, if _Adamsia_ is able to shift its quarters also,
how does it proceed in its search for a new shell? If it forsakes the
old tenement at the same time as the Crab, and together with it takes
possession of the new one, by what means is unity of will and action
secured? What communication of thought takes place from the one to the
other? As the _Adamsia_ does not adhere to the Crab, but to the shell,
that is, as they are independent of each other’s movements, who takes
the initiative? Who goes to seek the lodging? And at what point of the
transaction does the other come in? All these questions I had mused
upon with interest; and at length received some light towards their
solution.

On the 10th of January, 1859, I obtained, by dredging, in Torbay, a
specimen of _Adamsia palliata_, about half-grown, on a rather small
shell of _Natica monilifera_, tenanted by a _Pagurus Prideauxii_, which
seemed already too big for his habitation. Having put them into a
well-established tank of large dimensions, the contents of which were
in excellent condition, I succeeded in doing what I had never done
before, domiciliating both Crab and _Adamsia_. Both continued in the
highest health, and became quite at home.

After about three months, however, I noticed that the _Adamsia_ was
not looking so well. One side or wing had gradually loosed its hold of
the shell-lip, so that it hung loosely down beneath the breast of the
Crab. Yet in other respects the zoophyte seemed healthy. Latterly, too,
the Crab had manifested symptoms of uncomfortable straitness, in the
great extrusion of his fore-parts; so great, indeed, as to expose even
the front of the soft abdomen. Yet I felt reluctant to present to the
Crab a larger shell, fearing that he would, in availing himself of it,
desert his zoophyte friend, which would then die, and I should lose the
specimen.

At length the desire to solve a problem in science prevailed over this
feeling. A fact is better than a specimen. And so (on April 21st) I
selected from my cabinet a full-grown _Natica_ shell, and placed it on
the tank-floor, not far from the disconsolate trio.

The _Pagurus_ presently found the new shell, and immediately began to
overhaul it. He did not do, however, as his brother Bernhard would have
done, at once shift into the new house. Having turned it mouth upward,
he took hold of the outer and inner lip, each with a claw, and began
to drag it about the tank. Occasionally he relinquished the hold of
one claw, and probed the interior in the usual manner, and then resumed
his march. I watched the proceedings for an hour or more, when, having
other work to do, I left him alone.

The thought did occur to me--Can this delay be intended to make the
_Adamsia_ cognizant of what is in contemplation, and to prepare it for
the change? But I dismissed it as unlikely.

After about an hour’s absence I returned to the examination. The
_Pagurus_ was comfortably lodged in his new abode, and the old one,
which now looked small indeed, lay deserted at some little distance. I
eagerly turned the latter over, to see what was the condition of the
_Adamsia_. Lo! no _Adamsia_ was there; and the _Pagurus_, presently
approaching the front of the tank, I saw, to my great gratification,
that the old association was unbroken. There was the _Adamsia_, with
one wing adhering to the lip of the new shell, and apparently the
opposite wing also; but, from the position of the group, this I could
not be quite certain of. The situation of the zoophyte was quite
normal,--the centre immediately below the breast of the Crab, and in
contact with the inner lip of the shell, while that wing which I could
clearly see was creeping round upon the outer lip.

Examining now more closely the condition of things, with a lens, I saw
that the central part of the _Adamsia’s_ base was adherent by a small
point of its surface to the under side of the thorax of the Crab,
between the bases of the legs.

Now this adhesion to the Crab is a circumstance which, so far as I
know, never takes place in the ordinary relations of the animals; and
therefore I could not but think it an extraordinary and temporary
provision for the removal of the _Adamsia_ from the old to the new
shell, and for the correct adjustment of its position on the latter.

How then can we avoid the conclusion, that, as soon as the Crab had
found the new shell to be suitable for exchange, the _Adamsia_ also
was made cognizant of the same fact; and that, during the two hours
which followed, the latter loosened its adhesion to the old shell, and,
laying hold of the bosom of its protector, was by him carried to the
new house, where immediately it began to secure the like hold to that
which it had just relinquished?

Eleven days elapsed after the above observations were made, when I
obtained another interesting fact bearing on this strange association.
The _Adamsia_ had not looked well since the change of residence; its
adhesion to the shell had been but partial at the best, some days
more, some days less, extensive; but for the most part a considerable
portion of the zoophyte was hanging down from the shell. The Crab, on
the other hand, was evidently in clover, and showed no inclination to
go back to his old lodging.

On the 2d of May I found the _Adamsia_ detached, and lying helpless on
the bottom of the tank, beneath the Crab, who, when disturbed, walked
off, leaving his companion behind. I thought now it was a gone case,
and that it was all up with my elegant _protegée_.

An hour or two afterwards, however, how great was my surprise to see
the _Adamsia_ fairly established again, adhering to the shell by a
good broad base, and looking more healthy than I had seen her for many
a day! Strangely enough, she was adhering in a false position, having
taken hold on the outer lip of the shell, instead of the inner, as
usual. Here was a fresh proof of intelligence somewhere; and I at once
set myself to find where.

Carefully taking up the shell with the aquarium-tongs, and bringing
it close to the surface, but not out of water, I gently dislodged
the _Adamsia_ with my fingers, and allowed it to fall prone upon the
bottom. I then released the shell with its tenant, and drove the latter
towards the spot where the zoophyte lay.

No sooner did the Crab touch the _Adamsia_ than he took hold of it with
his claws, first with one, then with both, and I saw in an instant what
he was going to do. In the most orderly and expert manner he proceeded
to apply the _Adamsia_ to the shell. He found it lying base upward,
and therefore the first thing was to turn it quite round. With the
alternate grasps of the two pincer-claws, nipping up the flesh of the
_Adamsia_ rudely enough, as it seemed, he got hold of it so that he
could press the base against the proper part of the shell, the inner
lip. Then he remained quite still, holding it firmly pressed, for about
ten minutes; at the end of which time he cautiously drew away first
one claw, and then the other; and, beginning to walk away, I had the
pleasure to see that the _Adamsia_ was once more fairly adhering, and
now in the right place.

Two days after the _Adamsia_ was again lost. On searching I discovered
it lying in a crevice, whence I plucked it, and laid it on the bottom.
Here again the Crab found it, and immediately went through the same
process as last described, and again made it adhere. But I saw that
the _Adamsia_ was unhealthy, for it seemed to have but enfeebled
power of retaining its hold. The manifestation of the mode in which
the instinctive actings of the two creatures occur is, however,
sufficiently clear. The Crab is certainly the more active promoter of
the partnership; it is abundantly evident that he values the company of
his elegant but very heterogeneous associate. These last observations
compel the conclusion that the claws of the Crab are always employed in
the transference of the Cloaklet from shell to shell.[122]

PROOFS OF INTELLIGENCE.

But what a series of instincts does this series of facts open to us!
The knowledge by the Crab of the qualities of the new shell; the
delay of his own satisfaction till his associate is ready; the power
of communicating the fact to her; the power in her of apprehending
the communication; her immediate obedience to the intimation; her
relinquishment of her wonted hold, which for months at least had never
been interrupted; her simultaneous taking of a new, unwonted hold,
where alone it could have been of any use; the concerted action of
both; the removal; her relinquishment of the transitory adhesion as
soon as its purpose was accomplished; her simultaneous grasp of the new
shell in the proper places; all these are wonderful to contemplate,
wonderful considered singly, far more wonderful in their cumulation. Is
there not here much more than what our modern physiologists are prone
to call automatic movements, the results of reflex sensorial action?
The more I study the lower animals, the more firmly am I persuaded of
the existence in them of psychical faculties, such as consciousness,
intelligence, will, and choice! and _that_, even in those forms in
which as yet no nervous centres have been detected.

FOOTNOTES:

[113] _Solaster papposa_, represented, about one-third of the natural
size, by the right-hand figure on Plate XXV.

[114] _Ophiocoma granulata_, seen in the upper left-hand corner of
Plate XXV.

[115] _Gonoplax angulatus_, the principal figure in Plate XXVI.,
occupying the foreground.

[116] _Ebalia_; a male specimen of _E. Bryerii_ is represented in Plate
XXVI., clinging to the stem of an aged tangle, in the upper left-hand
corner.

[117] _E. Pennantii._

[118] _Aquarium_ (2d Ed.), p. 154.

[119] _Pagurus Bernhardus_; so called, I presume, from Bernard, the
monk, in allusion to its passing its life in its cell: whence also
“Hermit-crab.”

[120] In Plate XXVII. both species are represented. In the foreground
is a full-grown _Pagurus Prideauxii_ tenanting a whelk-shell, which
carries a fine specimen of the Cloak Anemone (_Adamsia palliata_). In
the distance is seen _P. Bernhardus_, inhabiting a shell of _Natica_.

[121] See my _Aquarium_, p. 156, _et seq._

[122] These facts were originally published in the _Zoologist_ for 1859
(p. 6580). In the _Quarterly Journal of Science_ for January 1864, some
observations of Colonel Stuart Wortley are cited, confirmatory of mine,
which, however, are wholly ignored by the Editors.



X.

OCTOBER


PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR.

The naturalist who has occasion to make a voyage over the warmer
regions of the ocean, is continually delighted by the sight of
numberless forms of animals, principally of the lower invertebrate
classes, which either habitually swim at the surface of the sea, or
come thither at intervals to enjoy the stimulus of the atmospheric air.
Many of these are exceedingly curious and interesting; many totally
unlike any forms that occur on the shores of temperate countries; many
elegant in contour, and adorned with brilliant colours. Perhaps there
is scarcely any that takes a stronger hold on the fancy, certainly none
is more familiar, than a little thing that he daily marks floating in
the sunlit waves, as the ship glides swiftly by, which the sailors
tell him is the Portuguese man-of-war.[123] Perhaps a dead calm has
settled over the sea; and the observer, as he leans over the bulwarks
of the ship, has opportunities of scrutinizing the ocean-rover at
leisure, as it lazily rises and falls on the long sluggish heavings of
the glassy surface. Then he sees that the comparison of the stranger to
a ship is a felicitous one; for, at a little distance it might well be
mistaken for a child’s mimic ship, shining in all the gaudy painting in
which it came out of the toy-shop; and he is ready to pity the forlorn
urchin in tunic and knickerbockers, whose cherished boat has broken her
moorings of thread, and drifted with winds and tides far, far out of
reach of land.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 28.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR.   TONGUED SARSIA.
]

Not unfrequently does one of the tiny vessels come so close alongside
that, by means of the ship’s bucket, with a little assistance from
a smart fellow, who has jumped into the “chains” with a boat-hook,
it is captured, and brought on deck to be subjected to scientific
examination. A dozen voices are however lifted, warning you by no
means to touch it, for well the experienced seaman knows its terrific
powers of defence. It does not now appear so like a ship as when it
was at a distance. It is an oblong bladder of tough membrane, varying
considerably in shape (and hence no two original figures agree in
this respect), and also in size, from less than an inch in length to
the size of a man’s hat. Once in a voyage to Mobile, when rounding
the Florida Reef, I was nearly a whole day passing through a fleet
of these little Portuguese men-of-war, which studded the smooth sea
as far as the eye could reach, and must have extended for many miles.
These were of all sizes within the limits I have mentioned. Generally,
there is a conspicuous difference between the two extremities of the
bladder, one end being rounded, while the other is more pointed, or is
terminated by a small knob-like swelling, or beak-shaped excrescence,
where there is a minute orifice. Sometimes, however, no such
excrescence is visible, and the orifice cannot be detected.

The bladder is filled with air, and therefore floats almost wholly on
the surface. Along the upper side, nearly from end to end, runs a thin
ridge of membrane, which is capable of being erected at the will of the
animal to a considerable height, fully equal at times to the entire
width of the bladder, when it represents an arched fore-and-aft sail,
the bladder being the hull. From the bottom of the bladder, near the
thickest extremity, where there is a denser portion of the membrane,
depends a crowded mass of organs, most of which take the form of very
slender, highly contractile, and moveable threads, which hang down into
the deep to a depth of many feet, or even occasionally, of several
yards.

THE BLADDER.

The colours of this curious creature are very vivid: the bladder,
though in some parts transparent and colourless, and in some specimens
almost entirely so, is in general painted with the richest blues and
purples, mingled with green and crimson to some less extent; these
all being, not as sometimes described, iridescent or changeable
reflections, but positive colours, independent of the incidence of
light, and, for the most part possessing great depth and fulness.
The sail-like erectile membrane is transparent, tinted towards the
edge with a lovely rose-pink hue, the colours arranged in a peculiar
fringe-like manner.

When examined anatomically, the bladder is found to be composed of two
walls of membrane, which are lined with cilia, and have between them
the nutritive fluid which supplies the place of blood. Besides this,
the double membrane is turned in, somewhat as the foot of a stocking
is inverted, when ready for putting on; and thus there is a bladder
within a bladder, both having double walls. The inner (_pneumatocyst_)
is much smaller than the outer (_pneumatophore_); and the point where
it is turned in is contracted to the almost imperceptible orifice that
has been mentioned. The inner bladder sends up closed tubular folds
into the crest, which, being invested by the membranous walls of the
outer sac, give to the sail that appearance of vertical wrinkles which
is conspicuous.

EFFECTS OF POISON.

Most formidable are the powers which reside in the long tentacles.
Each of these is an excessively slender ribbon of contractile
substance, connected at its base with a translucent bag, and carrying
at short intervals throughout its length semi-rings of thread-cells
(_cnidæ_), similar to those of our Sea-anemones, but of far more deadly
virulence. Mr. Bennett, who, for the sake of science, ventured to test
their powers, has left us a terrific account of his sufferings. “On one
occasion,” he says, “I tried the experiment of its stinging powers upon
myself, intentionally; when, on seizing it by the bladder portion, it
raised the long cables by muscular contraction of the bands situated at
the base of the feelers, and, entwining the slender appendages about my
hand and finger, inflicted severe and peculiarly pungent pain, adhering
most tenaciously at the same time, so as to be extremely difficult
of removal. The stinging continued during the whole time that the
minutest portion of the tentacula remained adherent to the skin. I soon
found that the effects were not merely confined to the acute pungency
inflicted, but produced a great degree of constitutional irritation:
the pain extended upwards along the arm, increasing not only in extent
but in severity, apparently acting along the course of the absorbents,
and could only be compared to a severe rheumatic attack; the pulse was
accelerated, and a feverish state of the whole system was produced;
the muscles of the chest even were affected, the same distressing
pain felt on taking a full respiration as obtains in a case of acute
rheumatism. The secondary effects were very severe, continuing for
nearly three-quarters of an hour; the duration of the pain being
probably longer, in consequence of the time and delay occasioned by
removing the exciting and virulent tentacula from the skin, as they
adhered to it, by the aid of the stinging capsules, with an annoying
degree of tenacity. On the whole being removed, the pain began
gradually to abate; but during the day a peculiar numbness was felt,
accompanied also by an increased temperature in the limb upon which the
stings had been inflicted. For some hours afterwards the skin displayed
white elevations or wheals on the parts stung, similar to those usually
seen resulting from the poison of the stinging-nettle. The intensity
of the pain depends in some degree upon the size and consequent power
of the creature; and after it has been removed from the water for
some time, the stinging property, although still continuing to act,
is found to have perceptibly diminished. To remove the irritation,
at first cold water was applied, but this, instead of alleviating,
increased the evil: an application of vinegar relieved the unpleasant
symptoms, and olive oil has produced a similar beneficial effect. I
have observed that this irritative power is retained for some weeks
after the death of the animal in the vesicles of the cables; and even
linen cloth which had been used for wiping off the adhering tentacles,
when touched, still retained the pungency, although it had lost the
power of producing such violent constitutional irritation.”[124]

Among the tentacles there are seen many depending organs, which
take somewhat the shape of a claret-bottle, with the mouth a little
expanded. These are highly moveable, turning and bending themselves
in various directions. They are termed _polypites_, and are the
mouths and stomachs of the animal: taking-in and digesting food,
much as the protrusile lips of an Anemone do. Mr. Bennett describes
the _Physalia_ as seizing and benumbing small fishes by means of the
tentacles, which are alternately contracted to half-an-inch, and then
shot out with amazing velocity to a length of several feet, and which
drag the helpless and entangled prey to the sucker-like mouths, the
stomach-cavities of which were filled while he looked-on, with atoms of
the flesh absorbed.

Dr. Wallich thinks Mr. Bennett must have mistaken what he saw; because
he has observed that in a great number of cases the _Physalia_ is
accompanied by small fishes, which play around and among the depending
tentacles without molestation. He has in so many cases seen this, and
even witnessed the actual contact of the fishes with the tentacles,
with no inconvenience to the former, that he too hastily concludes
that “the urticating organs are innocuous.” Surely the premises by
no means warrant such an inference. There is no antagonism between
the two series of facts witnessed by such excellent observers; the
venomous virulence of these organs has been abundantly proved by many
naturalists, myself among the number, and Mr. Bennett, to his cost,
as narrated above. We have only to suppose that the injection of the
poison is under the control of the _Physalia’s_ will, and the impunity
of the bold little fishes is sufficiently accounted for.

THE GULF-STREAM.

That wonderful river that flows with a well-defined course through the
midst of the Atlantic,--the Gulf-stream,--brings on its warm waters
many of the denizens of the tropical seas, and wafts them to the shores
on which its waves impinge. Hence it is that so many of the proper
pelagic creatures are from time to time observed on the coasts of
Cornwall and Devon. The Portuguese man-of-war is among them, sometimes
paying its visits in fleets; more commonly in single stranded hulks.
Scarcely a season passes without one or more of these lovely strangers
occurring in the vicinity of Torquay; and from one of these I took the
opportunity of making the careful drawing with which I illustrate this
paper.[125] The fishermen and similar persons who pick them up, always
endeavour to make a harvest of their captures, not by the sale, but by
the exhibition of them, sometimes carrying the specimen from door to
door, sometimes erecting a temporary screen in some place of resort,
exaggerating the rarity and value of the specimen outrageously. This
summer (1862) I have known of three in this vicinity; and have heard of
one at the Isle of Wight, in July, which forms the subject of a memoir
and a coloured figure by Mr. Humphreys in the _Intellectual Observer_;
also, a fleet of hundreds scattered over both sides of the same island
in August, as recorded by Mr. Rogers in the _Zoologist_; and finally,
one at Tenby in July, obtained by Mr. Hughes, and recorded in the
last-named periodical.

Mr. Hughes in his account mentioned a circumstance as normal, which,
being unknown to me, excited my curiosity. His specimen was accompanied
by “its attendant satellites, two _Velellæ_.” In reply to my inquiries
my friend gives me the following information:--“My authority for the
association of Velella with Physalia is Jenkins, the collector at
Tenby, who was attending me when they were found.

“The Physalia was taken by me first; and, while I was admiring it, I
noticed that Jenkins continued searching for something. Immediately
afterwards he came up with the Velella in his hand, at the same time
stating they were generally found with the Portuguese man-of-war. As I
had found the man very honest and truthful in his dealings with me (and
not previously being familiar with either of the creatures), I accepted
the information as correct.”

VELELLA.

The _Velella_ is a creature closely allied to the _Physalia_, having
the same essential structure, but differing greatly in form and
appearance. It consists of a flat disk of thin cartilaginous shell, of
a long rectangular outline, on which stands erect another similar plate
somewhat triangular, extending across from corner to corner. One large
polypite or mouth hangs down from the centre of the under side, and
short tentacles project on all sides from the edges of the horizontal
plate. The internal structure is very complex. The whole is enclosed in
a thin layer of flesh, which is tinged of a fine blue colour, sometimes
varied with purple and green. It is generally about two inches long,
and the erect plate rather less in height. As the little creature
floats on the waves, this plate forms a sail, and the breeze playing
upon it, imparts to the whole animal, according to Mr. Bennett, a
rotatory motion.[126]

STEPHANOMIA.

Both these oceanic forms of the class _Hydrozoa_ agree in being quite
unprovided with any apparatus for locomotion. Though their parts can be
moved among themselves, and sometimes with much vigour, as we have seen
in the case of the tentacles of the _Physalia_, yet the whole organism
would be absolutely confined for life to one spot, were the elements
motionless around it: it is merely passively driven hither and thither
by the winds and waves. But there are other members of the class, and
even some belonging to the same order, which have express organs of
locomotion. A most exquisite example is found in _Stephanomia_, of
which a specimen was taken in Kingstown harbour in July 1856, by Mr.
Joseph Greene, and described and figured in the “Proceedings of the
Dublin University Zoological Association” for that year. The float
(_pneumatocyst_) is a small bladder, which is filled with air, and
which has the appearance, when alive, of a globule of quicksilver;
while the slight inequalities of its surface reflect the light in such
a manner that it often looks as if a fine network of crimson veins
ramified over its surface. From the end of this oval bladder a long
fleshy tube hangs down in the water to the distance of six or seven
inches, the upper part of which is surrounded by a number--seven to
ten--of little clear transparent bells, looking very much like the
blossoms of our common Arbutus, and crowded, like flowers with short
footstalks, on the stem. These swimming bells (_nectocalyces_) are true
organs of locomotion; for by their contraction they drive out the water
contained in their cavities, and by their combined impulse, all acting
together, shoot the whole creature forward. This action I will explain
more in detail presently.

The long tube or common stem is very irritable, and under stimulus
is coiled up in a spiral, then gradually relaxed, and allowed to
hang loosely down. Attached to it throughout are the _polypites_, or
stomach-mouths, protected by leaf-like organs, which overlap them.
Numerous tentacles, too, of exceeding length and tenuity, and throwing
off branches, spring from the stem throughout its length, all the
extremities of each forming tiny oval knobs of spiral coils, the
whole capable of being thrown into the most beautiful and graceful
convolutions, now bent at right angles, and again thrown out in a
series of light airy-looking arches.

The exquisitely beautiful specimen described was taken in sultry
weather, when the sea was perfectly calm. “It lived in a large globe
of sea-water for several days, and was a most striking and beautiful
object: it generally lay quite upright in the water, the slightest
ripple upon the surface of which set it in motion; and immediately
coiling up its fishing lines, and shortening the length of its stolon
by about one-third, it threw its set of little balloons into strong
pulsations, until, weary of descending, it submitted to be guided by
its brightly glittering head, and soon ascended to the surface. When
subjected to examination it soon died, and was not long until it had
completely broken itself up.”[127]

SARSIA.

The _nectocalyx_ or swimming-bell is, however, seen in a much more
developed condition in the delicate forms which swarm in our harbours
and about our rocky coasts in summer and early autumn, and are known
by the name of Naked-eyed Medusæ. A common and very characteristic
example of this order is the Tongued Sarsia,[128] in which a single
swimming-bell forms the greatest portion of the whole creature. It
is a tall dome of crystalline colourless flesh, thick at the summit
and thinning off at the edges; about half an inch in height. From the
interior of this dome hangs the single polypite, exactly as the clapper
hangs from the top of a bell. It is long and cylindrical, abruptly
attenuated at the upper part into a sort of foot-stalk, and at the
extremity enlarging into four fleshy, very protrusile, lips, capable
of seizing and sucking in an object much larger than the diameter of
the whole polypite. I have seen a Sarsia, in confinement in a tank,
lay hold of, and swallow, a newly-hatched fish, notwithstanding the
activity of the latter. For hours afterwards the little green-eyed fry
was visible, the engulphment being a very slow process; the Medusa,
however, never let go its hold; and gradually the tiny fish was sucked
into the interior, and passed up the cavity of the polypite, becoming
more and more cloudy and indistinct, as digestion in the stomach
gradually dissolved its tissues.

These little creatures are endowed with very effective powers of
locomotion. In the unbounded freedom of their native sea, and in the
limited dimensions of a glass vase, they are alike sprightly. By rapid
pump-like contractions of their _nectocalyx_, they dart through the
water, and shoot round and round, almost with the force and swiftness
of a swimming fish. The summit of the bell always goes foremost,
whether the direction of the movement be vertical, horizontal, or,
as is most commonly the case, oblique; and the tentacles, and the
long white polypite, drag behind in trailing lines. Now and anon, the
shooting is suddenly suspended, the bell hangs over and remains awhile
motionless, the tentacles are allowed to depend like spiders’ webs,
or are suddenly drawn up into shrivelled puckers, become mutually
entangled and intertwisted, then slowly free themselves, and hang down
again. Sometimes the motionless bell itself sinks very gradually, and
the tentacle-threads take the most elegant curves and arches in their
descent.

The manner in which the strong pulsating movements of the Medusæ are
performed depends on the position and action of certain bands of
muscular tissue. Four of these radiate from the centre of the dome
to the margin. This course is not a straight but a curved one. When,
therefore, these bands are simultaneously and forcibly contracted in
length, they are drawn from a curved into a straight line, and the
cavity, which was bell-shaped, becomes more conical, and its capacity
is considerably diminished; a portion of the water which it before held
is therefore driven out at the mouth, and by its reaction forces the
animal forward with a jerk in the opposite direction. Besides these
radiating muscles, there are circular bands which pass round the margin
and the interior walls of the dome. These by their contraction diminish
the volume of the cavity, and aid the action described above.

FORBES’S ÆQUOREA.

The tiny Sarsia has but four tentacles, which spring from as many
equidistant points on the margin of the bell. But in the genus
_Æquorea_, of the same family, these organs are far more numerous,
two species which I first discovered at Ilfracombe having, the one
thirty-six, the other about two hundred tentacles. The former of these,
which I have honoured with the name of the late Edward Forbes,[129]
differs much in general appearance from the little Sarsia, being a
cake-shaped segment of a globe, about three or four inches in diameter,
and an inch and a half in thickness. The roof of the interior is low
and nearly flat, or indeed dropping slightly in the centre.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 29.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  FORBESIAN ÆQUOREA.
]

The polypite is peculiar, and would scarcely be recognised as of the
same nature with the lively bottle-shaped organs of the Portuguese
man-of-war, or the long nimble tongue of the Sarsia. It forms a very
wide circle on the flat roof of the bell, whence the four large
triangular lips descend, which are cut into a minutely divided fringe
of filaments, that wave loosely in the water. There are about seventy
slender vessels which radiate from the polypite circle along the roof
to the margin, where they join the circular marginal vessel. I have
said that the tentacles are about thirty-six in all; that is, about
half as many as the radiating vessels, though the relation of number
is not exact. They hang down in the usual form, to the unassisted eye
appearing as excessively slender whitish or flesh-coloured threads,
capable of great elongation, or of contraction into ovate spiral
masses, hardly perceptible. But by the aid of the microscope we discern
that each tentacle consists of a lengthened fleshy tube, on which
are set at pretty regular intervals thickened semi-rings, or knobs,
very much like the knobs on the horns of an antelope in appearance.
They do not quite encircle the tentacle, and thus one side for the
entire length is smooth and straight. These thickened swellings are
collections of thread-capsules (_cnidæ_), which are packed as close as
they can lie in them, and give to the tentacle that power of adhering
by a touch to any animal whose tissues are penetrable, and of benumbing
and destroying its vitality, in the manner which I have already, on
more than one occasion, alluded to.

I have not yet described the colours of this _Æquorea_; they are,
however, exceedingly lovely and beautiful. The crystalline translucency
of most of these Medusæ, when they are colourless, and of the
colourless parts of such as have bright hues, is exquisite in its
glass-like purity; in this example the whole of the peripheral portion
of the dome is of this hyaline character; but the lower part, which
lies just above the flattened roof, is of a lively azure blue, seen to
great perfection, when the animal is relieved by a dark background:
the colour is gradually lost at about a quarter of an inch from its
bottom. Then the radiating vessels are of a bright rose-colour, drawn
in lines along the colourless surface of the roof; and the marginal
vessel is of the same hue, as are also the four triangular lips of
the polypite, with their ciliary fringes. These, as they depend,
often extending below the level of the margin, waved about in various
directions by the motion of the sea, or by the animal’s own movements,
add greatly to its elegance.

LUMINOSITY.

That strange and at times magnificent and imposing phenomenon, the
luminosity of the sea, is certainly due in part to some of the Medusæ.
Members of perhaps all the classes of marine invertebrate animals are
at one time or other engaged in the illumination, and no doubt the most
wide-spread production of spontaneous light, and the most effective, is
due to creatures which are individually unrecognisable by the eye. When
the ship ploughing through the tropical sea, turns luminous furrows
on each side of her prow, and leaves a long wake of curdling light
astern, or when the steamer dashes the water of our own estuaries into
cascades of fire and showers of coruscating sparks, it is doubtless
to the microscopic _Infusoria_, _Annelida_, and _Entomostraca_, that
we are mainly indebted for the charming spectacle. Still, many of the
Medusæ are conspicuously luminous under certain conditions, generally
displaying the phenomenon at the moment of irritation; the light being
evolved, not apparently by any proper organs, but either by the whole
of the marginal ring, or by the (often coloured) swellings that are
seated at the base of the tentacles.

The following appearances proved the luminosity of this beautiful
_Æquorea_, on being subjected to experiments in the dark. When with
my finger-nail I tapped the glass jar in which two specimens were
floating at the surface, instantly each became brilliantly visible as a
narrow ring of light, the whole marginal canal becoming luminous. On my
touching them with the end of a stick, the light became more vivid, and
round spots appeared here and there in the ring, of intense lustre and
of a greenish-blue tint. These were, I doubt not, the tentacle-bulbs;
and any one of them would be excited to this intensity by my touching
that part of the margin with the stick. The luminosity of the ring was
not so evanescent as in some species, lasting several seconds, and
continuing to be renewed as often as I molested the animal. The two
circles of light, two inches or more in diameter, were very beautiful
as they moved freely in the water, sinking or rising according as they
were touched, now seen in full rotundity, now shrinking to an oval, or
to a line, as either turned sidewise to the eye, and reminded me of
the _coronæ_ of glory in the pictures of the Italian school, round the
heads of saints.

CRIMSON-RINGED JELLY-FISH.

Most of the larger Medusæ of our coasts belong to another order,
including those which have covered eyes, and some other peculiarities,
chiefly connected with reproduction. The _Lucernariæ_, which I have
already noticed, formerly associated with the Anemones, are now united
with this order. A very familiar example we may see in our harbours
and tidal rivers in summer, the common Crimson-ringed Jelly-fish.[130]
It is a hemisphere of colourless jelly, some six or eight inches in
diameter, which is usually well marked by four imperfect rings of
purplish crimson--the reproductive organs--seen through the transparent
flesh. The radiating vessels are often tinged with the same colour.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 30.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  CYDIPPE.  COMMON MEDUSA.  LARVAL FORMS.
]

INFANT FORMS.

The most interesting circumstances in the history of this large
jelly-fish are the wonderfully varied phases through which it passes
in the earlier stages of its existence. Along the margins of the
lengthened flaps of the polypite there are found remarkable pouches,
within which the ova are placed, and whence they are hatched in the
form of soft flat animalcules, capable of swimming by means of cilia.
This has been called a _planula_. After swimming a while, it alters
its form to that of a pear, and presently adheres by its slender end
to a sea-weed or rock under water, hanging downward. A depression now
appears in the larger end, which deepens and forms a mouth and stomach,
and the little _planula_ has assumed a polype-form. Four tiny warts now
spring from the margin of the mouth, which lengthen into tentacles;
four more then shoot in the interspaces; these eight increase to
sixteen, then to thirty-two, all at the same time acquiring great
length. In this stage, in which it is very common in our aquaria, it
has been supposed a new animal, and has been named _Hydra tuba_. The
space between the margin and the mouth has widened into an “umbrella,”
and the mouth has protruded into a polypite. The whole is of a
translucent white hue, and the body without the tentacles is ordinarily
about one-sixth of an inch high.

This stage sometimes lasts for years without further change, except
that creeping root-threads shoot from the attached base, which send
up at intervals buds that grow into _Hydræ_; and buds break out from
different parts of the body itself, which likewise develop themselves,
the form in both cases being exactly similar to that of the present
_Hydra tuba_. Thus we frequently find numerous colonies of these
tiny creatures crowded together.

At length a change takes place. The body enlarges both in length and
thickness, and begins to show traces of rings or segments, as if it
had been tied tightly round with threads at regular intervals. In this
stage it has been described under the name of _Scyphistoma_. These cuts
deepen, and the segments thus marked off become hollow; and so they
resemble a pile of tiny saucers set one within another, each of which
is now divided at its rim into eight teeth. In this stage it has been
once more named, as if an independent animal, _Strobila_.

All this time the tentacles have been set around the terminal margin,
but now these are absorbed, and a new set rapidly spring from the
basal segment. The saucers become very loosely attached; at length
the end one breaks away and swims through the sea, as a true Medusa,
though no more than a sixth of an inch wide, pumping as it goes in
proper parental wise. Others quickly follow, and thus a colony of tiny
swimming jelly-fishes are shooting hither and thither in the liveliest
manner. Strange to say, these little Medusæ, which as to details differ
much from their adult form, have been again described, under the
name of _Ephydra_; all these appellations indicating the assumptions
of various naturalists, who found the little creatures in their
respective stages, without knowing their previous history, that each
was an independent form of animal life.

CYDIPPE.

As the closer and more severe scrutiny of anatomical structure has
induced modern zoologists to separate the Lucernaria from its formerly
assigned alliance with the Sea-anemones, and to associate it with
the Medusæ, it is interesting to remark that the scales of justice
have been maintained in equipoise by the like shifting of a member
from the Medusæ to the Anemones. The latter animal is one familiar to
most haunters of the shore, and invariably admired as one of the most
charming of the many lovely forms that throng the summer seas; it is
the sweet little _Beröe_, or _Cydippe_.[131] Indeed at first sight
you would be little disposed to admit the propriety of the transfer
in this case, for certainly the active glittering globule of pure
crystal appears to possess much more resemblance to one of the smaller
Medusæ, the _Sarsia_, for instance,--than to a daisy or a beadlet.
But naturalists look beneath the surface: and they find that, with
important peculiarities, the internal economy of the _Cydippe_, and
specially its digestive apparatus, are modelled rather on the type of
the latter than of the former.

We will not, however, trouble ourselves now with these elaborate
matters, but rather look at the exterior and obvious characters of
the charming little pet, which is disporting itself in this vase of
sea-water on our table. It is a globe of pure colourless jelly, about
as big as a small marble, often having a little wart-like swelling at
one of its poles, where the mouth is placed. At the other end there
are minute orifices; and between the two passes the stomach, of a form
which is flat, or wider in one diameter than in the other.

If the stomach be considered as the axis of the globe, and the
two extremities as its poles, the meridians of longitude are well
represented by eight narrow bands, situated on the surface, which do
not, however, reach either pole. Along the course of each of these
meridional bands are fixed at close intervals minute square moveable
plates, whose outer edges are set with strong cilia, like the teeth
of a comb. These are the locomotive organs, and most effective they
are. They are used like the paddles of a steamer, the little animal
beating the water with them in rapid and regular succession, their
minute subdivision causing the rays of light, especially when in the
sun, to play along these bands, with the most brilliant prismatic
colours; while their vigorous strokes cause the globe to shoot hither
and thither through the water with remarkable power.

Within the clear substance of the _Cydippe_, on each side of the
stomach, there is excavated a capacious cavity, which communicates
by a canal with the surface, near the equator. Within each cavity is
fixed a tentacle of great length and slenderness, which the animal can
at pleasure shoot out of the orifice, and allow to trail through the
water, shortening, lengthening, twisting, or coiling it at will; or,
on the other hand, quickly contract it into a tiny ball, and withdraw
it wholly within the proper cavity. A peculiarity, which imparts an
inexpressible charm to this apparatus, is, that, throughout the length
of this attenuate white thread, short threadlets are given off at
regular intervals, which can be coiled or straightened, lengthened
or shortened, individually. They proceed only from one side of the
thread-like tentacle, though, from the slight twisting of the axis,
they seem now to project on one side, now on another.

It has been well observed that of the grace and beauty which the
entire apparatus presents in the living animal, or the marvellous ease
and rapidity with which it can be alternately contracted, extended,
and bent at an infinite variety of angles, no verbal description can
sufficiently treat. Fortunately this little beauty is so common in
summer and autumn on all our coasts, that few who use the surface-net
can possibly miss its capture. So lovely a creature is worthy of a
poet’s description: it has received it.

  “Now o’er the stern the fine-mesh’d net-bag fling,
  And from the deep the little Beroë bring;
  Beneath the sunlit wave she swims conceal’d
  By her own brightness;--only now reveal’d
  To sage’s eye, that gazes with delight
  On things invisible to vulgar sight.
  When first extracted from her native brine,
  Behold a small round mass of gelatine,
  Or frozen dew-drop, void of life and limb:
  But round the crystal goblet let her swim
  ’Midst her own element; and lo! a sphere
  Banded from pole to pole; a diamond clear,
  Shaped as bard’s fancy shapes the small balloon
  To bear some sylph or fay beyond the moon.
  From all her bands see lucid fringes play,
  That glance and sparkle in the solar ray
  With iridescent hues. Now round and round
  She wheels and twirls; now mounts, then sinks profound.
  Now see her like the belted star of Jove,
  Spin on her axis smooth, as if she strove
  To win applause--a thing of conscious sense
  Quivering and thrilling with delight intense.
  Long silvery cords she treasures in her sides,
  By which, uncoil’d at times, she moors and rides;
  From these, as hook-hairs on a fisher’s line,
  See feathery fibrils hang in graceful twine,
  Graceful as tendrils of the mantling vine
  These swift as angler by the fishy lake
  Projects his fly the keen-eyed trout to take,
  She shoots with rapid jerk to seize her food,
  The small green creatures of crustaceous brood;
  Soon doom’d herself a ruthless foe to find,
  When in Actinia’s arms she lies entwined.
  Here, prison’d by the vase’s crystal bound,
  Impassable as Styx’s nine-fold round,
  Quick she projects, as quick retracts again,
  Her flexile toils, and tries her arts in vain;
  Till languid grown, her fine machinery worn
  By rapid friction, and her fringes torn,
  Her full round orb wanes lank, and swift decay
  Pervades her frame, till all dissolves away.
  So wanes the dew conglobed on rose’s bud;
  So melts the ice-drop in the tepid flood:
  Thus, too, shall many a shining orb on high
  That studs the broad pavilion of the sky,--
  Suns and their systems fade, dissolve, and die.”[132]

FOOTNOTES:

[123] _Physalia pelagica_, of which a representation is given in the
centre of Plate XXVIII. Some naturalists make two or three other
species, but I do not think that their distinctive characters can as
yet be depended on.

[124] _Gatherings of a Naturalist_, p. 7.

[125] I ought to say that, as usual in these stranded examples, the
tentacles and suckers were so mutilated by washing on the shore, that I
have been compelled to aid my observation by the figures of Eschscholtz
and Huxley, on whose correctness I could depend.

[126] See his _Gatherings in Australasia_, for much interesting
information on both these animals.

[127] _Op. cit._

[128] _Sarsia tubulosa_; a group is represented of the size of life, in
the lower right-hand corner of Plate XXVIII.

[129] _Æquorea Forbesiana_; this fine species forms the subject of
Plate XXIX.

[130] _Aurelia aurita_, represented (about one-fourth of the natural
size) in Plate XXX. On the extreme right and left are seen the young,
in the stages of _Hydra_, _Strobila_, and _Ephydra_.

[131] _Cydippe pileus_, seen, of the size of life, near the upper
left-hand corner of Plate XXX.

[132] Dr. Drummond, in Trans. Roy. Irish Acad. for 1839.



XI.

NOVEMBER


If we could roam at pleasure over the bottom of the sea, with the
privilege of using all our senses as effectually and as comfortably as
in the air, we should doubtless see some wonderful things. We might
not, indeed, find all the useful and ornamental articles that drowning
Clarence saw in his dream, but doubtless we might substitute for them
things that he never dreamed of, things that the eye of man was not
as yet cultivated to see. What opportunities for enlarging the bounds
of science are possessed by the engineers that have been working many
hours a day, for years past, at the great Breakwater in that prolific
field of marine life, Weymouth Bay!--working in a capacious diving-bell
at the bottom of the sea. But there are many reasons why we can expect
nothing in the way of natural history from them. Perhaps not one of
them has ever been taught to think upon any of the strange forms that
might occur, which do not commonly minister to the pocket of man in
the market, as anything but mere rubbish not worth a second glance,
or something hurtful or nasty to be crushed beneath the heel. Or if,
perchance, an observer of nature’s beauties be engaged in such an
occupation, his time would be so fully taken up with his urgent duties,
as to preclude attention to such amenities. Besides which, the loads
of enormous blocks of stone already shot down on the sea-floor, which
he is there to arrange and settle, must pretty well have smashed and
covered everything which had revelled in dull enjoyment there, before
his arrival. Still I fancy I should like to borrow his diving-bell on a
holiday, and roam a little beyond those wildernesses of broken stone,
picking up treasures here and there such as the scraper of the dredge
has never yet been able to gather out of the crevices and crannies of
those deep-water rocks.

But such a desire is at present hopeless; and we must be satisfied
with such resources as are at our command, thankful that the dredge,
and the trawl, and the keer-drag, the fisherman’s deep-sea line,
the lobster-pot, and the sounding-lead--are all contributing to
our acquaintance with the curious, the uncouth, the wondrous, the
beautiful, that lurk far down _in profundis_.

Let us then go back to the results of our dredging day that we so
much enjoyed a few weeks ago. A portion of its produce yet remains
in buckets and pans, waiting for a further overhauling; and it
will doubtless yield us some objects worthy of an hour or two’s
investigation.

LOBSTER-HORN CORALLINE.

The first thing that our fingers pull up is a great tangled group of
Sertularian _Hydrozoa_, of which the finest part consists of some
half-dozen stems of _Antennularia_, called, from obvious resemblance,
the Lobster-horn Coralline.[133] These are nearly straight, somewhat
stiff, unbranched stems, a foot or more in length, with an uniform
thickness of about a line, of a buff-yellow hue, closely divided into
short joints. Each of the joints gives origin to a whorl of very
delicate bristles, giving a hairy appearance to the whole affair, but
which under magnifying power are discerned to be colourless, jointed
filaments, bearing on the inner shoulder of each joint a tiny glassy
cup (_hydrotheca_), within which resides a minute many-tentacled
polype. The stems spring in close groups from an obscure root-mass
of tangled threads, which cling to stones and shells, and afford a
mooring to the Lobster-horn, which in its turn affords support to
miniature forests of other _Hydrozoa_, slenderer than the finest
hair--_Laomedea_, _Campanularia_, etc., which crowd together on it,
especially around the bottom, and make the investigation of any one
specimen very difficult. These have their polype-cups of exquisitely
elegant forms, and I see on the latter many of the urn-shaped vessels
(now called _gonotheca_), out of which issue what appear to be distinct
and independent forms of life, as unlike the parent as can well be
imagined, but exactly like the little naked-eyed Medusæ that we lately
looked at. This, however, is not properly an animal at all, but only
an organ (the _gonophore_) which has the faculty of maintaining a
separate existence, and which is destined to give birth to ciliated
embryos, like the _planula_ of the _Aurelia_, that attach themselves,
and develop into new _Campanulariæ_. Most wonderful are the processes
and phases of life which have been discovered in these zoophytic
forms.[134] A volume might be written on them, full of praise to the
all-wise God.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 31.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

PYRGOMA ON A CORAL. SCALPELLUM. LOBSTER-HORN. NECKED BARNACLE.

  COMMON BARNACLE.      PORCATE BARNACLE.
]

SCALPELLUM.

Now, however, we must turn aside to look at other objects. Attached
to the base of the Lobster-horn, we find several examples of an
interesting Cirripede.[135] It is of a dirty buff, or drab hue,
semi-transparent, in outline something like a butcher’s cleaver, handle
and blade, or still more like a silver butter-knife, but much
thicker in proportion; the handle represented by the cartilaginous and
flexible stalk, the blade by the compressed valves. These vary much
in regularity of form, some being nearly oval, little wider than the
stalk, others angular and much wider. The body throws itself vigorously
about on the stalk, when disturbed. The valves open, and out comes a
widely radiating hand, of brilliantly glassy fingers, the joints and
comb-like bristles of which glitter and sparkle as I hold it up in a
tumbler of sea-water, examining it with a lens, with a lamp behind. It
remains some seconds expanded, as if enjoying contact with the water;
or perhaps, if I may draw inferences from some slight twitchings,
feeling and testing for the accidental presence of invisible atoms that
might serve it for food; then suddenly the fingers close together, and
the hand is drawn in with a snap, as if it had taken some prize, though
the lens had revealed nothing there. Soon it opens again, and exhibits
the same manœuvres. A front view of the hand, the bristle-like fingers
radiating in all directions, is a very attractive object for a low
magnifying power. There are several tiny ones in another group, the
bodies of which are not bigger than hempseed; these make their grasps
apparently at random, with regular alternation, much as the commoner
Barnacles do.

Of these latter we have no lack, many of the rough shells and small
pebbles being incrusted with crowded colonies of the commonest Acorn
Barnacle.[136] We see the same species, by tens of thousands, covering
roods and roods of the seaward surfaces of our rough rocks between
tide-marks. They rarely exceed one-third of an inch in diameter at
base; but there is a much more massive kind, rough with ridges and
furrows, and hence called _porcate_, occasionally found adhering to the
jutting angles of rocks hereabout, and much more commonly on the coast
of South Wales, around Tenby.

These Acorn Barnacles have no foot-stalk, but adhere by the whole
broad base to the rock or shell, on which a floor either of strong
stone, or of thin membrane is formed, and from whose margin the stony
plates arise, enclosing a more or less conical chamber, with an orifice
at the summit. If we look in at this during the life of the animal,
we discern, a little below the rim, some angular valves, which meet
with a straight suture, and close the interior. These are moveable,
however; and under water they open like folding-doors, and a hand of
many fingers, each composed of many joints, modelled on the same plan
as that of the _Scalpellum_, but less delicate, protrudes, which makes
its cast for prey, and is withdrawn beneath the again-closed valves.

NECKED BARNACLES.

The winds and waves not unfrequently bear into our harbours fragments
of spars, old water-casks, or planks, from the hull of some ill-fated
ship foundered in the inhospitable ocean, which are teeming with life.
Conspicuous on such “flotsam and jetsam,” as our ancient maritime
law-codes term these relics, we mark the Necked Barnacles,[137] so
long believed by our ancestors, with a most implicit credence, to be
legitimately descended from, and to be in turn the regular and normal
parents of, a certain species of goose, common enough on our northern
shores. That myth may, however, be dismissed with a mere recollection.

In this form the neck or stalk is greatly developed, frequently
reaching to eight inches and upwards in length, with a thickness of
half an inch. Externally it is very tough and leathery, yet it is
sufficiently flexible to be jerked vigorously in various directions,
and thrown into contorted curves, by means of muscles that run through
it. The lower part adheres firmly to the support, which is generally
wood, and I believe only in a floating condition. The bottoms of ships
in warm climates are generally much infested with these parasites,
which acquire a great size in the course of a voyage of only a few
months.

The valves resemble delicate shells, and are elegantly painted with
various tints of light blue varied with white, the edges of the valves
being often rich scarlet or orange. The hand is deep purplish black,
the fingers stout and massive; but not differing in their structure or
in their mode of use, from those of their sessile fellows.

Perhaps the most interesting of all our native forms of these
Cirripedes--for true parasitism is always a subject of peculiar
interest--is that little species[138] which invariably selects as its
support the stony walls of a coral. Our beautiful Cup-coral, so common
at extreme low-water level on both the north and south coasts of Devon
and Cornwall, is the favourite species of the _Pyrgoma_. So far as my
experience goes, extending over a very extensive series of specimens, I
think about one in six of these corals carries the parasite, generally
situated either on, or just without, the margin of the cup. I say,
“generally,” because Mr. Guyon has lately recorded what he thinks an
exception to the rule, in two _Pyrgomata_ situated on the rock close
to the base of the coral. But Mr. Holdsworth, an excellent authority,
considers that the exception is more apparent than real. The number of
these little intruders varies from one upwards. I possess specimens,
one of which carries nine, the other eleven; the appearance of the
ovate barnacles, each with its conspicuous orifice, crowded all round
the edge of the coral, is exceedingly curious and novel. Mr. Holdsworth
mentions, however, that he has seen fourteen _Pyrgomata_ attached to a
single _Caryophyllia_, which was dredged in Plymouth Sound.[139]

CIRRIPED TRANSFORMATIONS.

The transformations of these animals, as investigated by Mr. Darwin,
are of great interest. The Cirripede, whatever its genus, and whatever
its peculiarities of adult existence, begins its life in a form exactly
like that of a young Entomostracous Crustacean, with a broad carapace,
a single eye, two pairs of antennæ, three pairs of jointed, branched,
and well-bristled legs, and a forked tail. It casts off its skin twice,
undergoing, especially at the second moult, a considerable change
of figure. At the third moult it has assumed almost the form of a
_Cypris_, or _Cythere_, being enclosed in a bivalve shell, in which the
front of the head with the antennæ is greatly developed, equalling in
bulk all the rest of the body. The single eye has become two, which are
very large, and attached to the outer arms of two bent processes like
the letters U U, which are seen within the thorax.

In this stage the little animal searches about for some spot suitable
for permanent residence; a ship’s bottom, a piece of floating timber,
the back of a whale or turtle, or the solid rock. When its selection
is made, the two antennæ, which project from the shell, pour out a
glutinous gum or cement, which hardens in water, and firmly attaches
them. Henceforth the animal is a fixture, glued by the front of its
head to its support. Another moult now takes place; the bivalve shell
is thrown off, with the great eyes, and their U-like processes, and
the little Cirripede is seen in its true form. It is now in effect
a Stomapod Crustacean, attached by its antennæ, the head greatly
lengthened (in _Lepas_, etc.), the carapace composed of several pieces
(valves), the legs modified into cirri, and made to execute their
grasping movements backwards instead of forwards, and the whole abdomen
obliterated, or reduced to an inconspicuous rudiment.

SERPULA.

Let us resume our grubbing in the heterogeneous heap of matters
with which the dredge has enriched us. The tube-dwelling _Annelida_
are generally prominent in such collections, and accordingly we see
conspicuous here great and small heaps of contorted tubes, that look
as if a batch of tobacco-pipe stems had become agglutinated together,
and strangely twisted in the baking. These are the shelly tubes of the
beautiful scarlet Serpula,[140] a general favourite in our aquaria,
easily and abundantly procured, and readily maintained in health
and beauty for a considerable period. I need scarcely describe the
general appearance of an object so commonly kept, and so frequently
gazed upon. Many tubes are usually found growing together, adhering
to the same shell, bit of broken pottery, or small stone; all much
intertwined, and mutually adherent, so that it is practically hopeless
to attempt to isolate one. Yet by studying many specimens we are able
to ascertain that each individual is at first a very slender tube of
white calcareous shell, not thicker than sewing-cotton;[141] this
rapidly increases both in thickness and in length, soon rising from
its support, to which it at first adhered by the lime deposited in a
soft state, and continuing the rest of its growth free, in a direction
forming various angles with the ground line, and most irregularly
twined and contorted. For the final half of its length, or thereabout,
the tube attains a diameter of one-fourth of an inch, the walls being
sufficiently thick to be solid, yet leaving an ample cavity for the
residence of the industrious mechanic, who thus skilfully builds up his
own house.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 32.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SCARLET SERPULA.
]

If we carefully break, by a moderated blow with a hammer, the shelly
tube, so as not to crush the tenant, we are able to expose the latter
to view. We then see that its length is by no means commensurate with
the length of its house, of which indeed it inhabits only the last-made
portion, having behind a roomy space into which to retire in case of
need. It is not more than an inch or an inch and a quarter long, rather
wide in proportion, and flattened, with a well-marked distinction
between the corslet and the abdomen. The former carries on each side
prominent foot-warts, which are vigorously protrusile, and within which
bundles of strong bristles are thrust to and fro. On the upper part
of each foot, extending half across the back, is a row of microscopic
hooks, wielded by long thread-like tendons, which are fixed, on
mechanical principles, to the attached end of each hook. By the aid of
these, the Serpula so cleverly withdraws with lightning-like rapidity
on alarm. By the action of muscles of indescribable delicacy, the hooks
are projected to some distance beyond the surface of the body. These
organs are formed on the model of a hedger’s bill-hook, only that the
edge is cut into long teeth. Carefully counting them I have found that
each Serpula carries about 1900 such hooks on its corslet, and that
each of these being cut into seven teeth, there are between 13,000 and
14,000 teeth employed in catching the lining membrane of the tube, and
in drawing the animal back.

The protrusion of the fore parts, which takes place in a much more
leisurely manner, is performed by quite another set of instruments,
formed on a totally different principle. Their action is a pushing or
shoving. The instruments for effecting this are the fine but strong
bristles which run through the feet. Each bristle is composed of a
strong rigid unyielding shaft, having an expanded shoulder drawn out
into a point. On one side of this pointed shoulder may be remarked a
double row of fine teeth, admirably calculated to catch against any
roughnesses of the surface with which they come into contact, against
which they then push with the force of the proper muscles. Acting
diagonally backwards, from the two sides of the animal, the result
of the combination of the forces is that the animal itself is pushed
forwards, and so protruded from the mouth of the tube. The feet on
the hinder portion of the body are, according to Dr. Williams,[142]
modified in structure with express reference to the duties of mopping,
sweeping, scraping, and wiping the inferior closed end of the
habitation. I think, however, he has forgotten that this end, formed by
the animal in its infant state, must now be very much too strait to be
reached by any portion of the body, or by any of its organs.

Dwelling in a tubular house, the Serpula would find its breathing
organs scarcely available, if these were placed, as in most _Annelida_,
in pairs on the body-segments. They are therefore much modified, and
that not only in position but in form. They consist of most elegant
comb-like filaments, richly coloured, arranged in two rows around
the front extremity, one row on each side of the mouth. They are
graduated in length, and are so affixed, that, where the rows meet
behind, they can be thrown-in, so that a vertical view of the circular
coronet shows a great sinus in it. These brilliant gill-tufts form the
most attractive feature in these elegant Worms, and are individually
most exquisite examples of mechanical contrivance. Examined under a
low microscopic power, they present a most charming spectacle. Each
filament consists of a pellucid cartilaginous stem, from one side of
which springs a double row of secondary filaments like the teeth of a
comb. Within both stem and filaments the red blood may be seen, with
beautiful distinctness, driven along the artery, and back by the vein
(which are placed close side by side) in ceaseless course, constituting
a very striking spectacle.

The exterior of these organs is set with strong cilia, so arranged that
the water-current is vigorously driven upward along one side of the
filament, and downward along the other. Yet the combined result of all
the branchial currents is to bring a powerful vortex into the enclosed
funnel, the bottom of which terminates in the mouth. The food which
sustains nutrition is thus brought to be swallowed, a large quantity
of water being at the same time constantly poured into the body; this
is discharged (by the agency of a ciliated lining of the hinder parts)
in the form of a strong current, which, impinging against the closed
end of the tube, is turned upward, carrying with it all extraneous or
fœcal matters, and is ever pouring out of the frontal extremity around
the neck of the creature. What a beautiful and effective contrivance is
this for constantly keeping in a state of the most unsullied cleanness
the interior of the house! It reminds one of the fabled Hercules
cleansing the Augean stable by driving the river Peneus through it.

ITS STOPPER.

On each side of the mouth there springs a lengthened horny thread,
appearing to answer to the antennæ which in other Worms, as well as
in Insects and Crustacea, project from the front of the head. Such
seems their true relation considered structurally, but in function
and office they are very remarkable and quite peculiar. To these
organs is assigned the duty of closing up the tube when the animal has
withdrawn its gaily-coloured plumes; and for this end, one of these
antennæ is much lengthened, and at the end is expanded into a broad
trumpet-shaped club, the extremity of which is somewhat concave, and is
delicately marked with radiating grooves. This organ is usually painted
with the same brilliant colours as the gill-tufts, and by its length,
size, and form, makes a very conspicuous feature in the charming
Serpula. Its length is such, that when the gill-filaments are rolled
up and withdrawn, the conical club enters after all, and is found
accurately to fit the trumpet-like orifice of the tube, just as a cork
fits tightly into the mouth of a bottle.

Ordinarily those organs which appear in pairs are formed so as to be
the counterparts of each other. But here is an exception. One only,
sometimes the right, sometimes the left, indifferently, takes the
remarkable form that I have been describing, the other being much
shorter, and terminating only in a small knob, like the head of a pin.
Why should there be this difference? Why this exception to an all but
universal rule? The reason is obvious. Yes, obvious enough when seen
and noticed; but it tells an eloquent tale of the Divine forethought
and care. If both of the antennæ were furnished with the terminal cone,
one would interfere with the other in the performance of their closing,
corking-up function; they would jam in the doorway, and the tube would
be left open. Hence the one is left undeveloped, yet retaining, as
I believe, the latent power of expanding into a cone, if it should
ever be needed by the accidental loss of the fellow now so furnished.
I thus judge, because experience shows me that the conical club is
occasionally thrown off, and quickly renewed, in captivity.

My esteemed friend, the Rev. Sir Christopher Lighton, has indeed put
on record an example of a Serpula of this species possessing two equal
antennæ, that had replaced the single one accidentally lost. They were
both perfectly developed, and joined together near the base. Each was
decidedly smaller than the single one that had formerly occupied their
place.[143] This exceedingly interesting case can, of course, only be
regarded as a monstrosity of redundancy, as children are sometimes born
with a superfluous finger. But it is valuable as showing that there is
a power of development latent in the crownless antenna. I wish very
much that the excellent observer had added a note, telling us to what
extent the tube was closed, and how the work was performed without
mutual interference.

It has been sometimes brought as an objection to our assigning a
certain service to certain organs, that the necessity for such service
is a gratuitous supposition, since other creatures similarly formed
in most respects, and in which we might infer a like need, have no
such supply. We may admit the facts, but refuse the reasoning. There
can be no manner of doubt that the conical antenna does act as a
stopper to the Serpula, as our eyes can see; and surely it would be
most unphilosophical to suppose that the function so performed is
not serviceable to the creature. Yet its near cousins, the Sabellæ,
similarly constructed, and of similar habits of life, and as we should
have _à priori_ supposed, quite as liable to injury in the same
direction, are entirely destitute of this contrivance for protection,
and of anything compensating for it, so far as is known. Why the need
of one should be met by such a beautiful contrivance, while the same
need in the other is wholly unmet, though both are formed by the same
Infinite God, is one of those unanswerable questions which, while they
leave unimpeached His wisdom, make us deeply conscious of our own
ignorance.

We find numerous examples of this genus _Sabella_ in our confused
heap of tangled life and death. By their vigour and their abundance
we have proof enough that their wants _are_ supplied, though they do
not enjoy this special contrivance: they manage to live and thrive
and enjoy themselves, with open doors, taking all risks of insidious
robbers,--such, for instance, as that vile burglar, the Longworm,[144]
that we found under a stone the other day; which is ever on the watch
to insert its snaky head within the unprotected tube, and to tear away
with merciless clutch the beauteous gill-tufts.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 33.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SABELLÆ.
]

One species of this genus[145] can by the cursory observer be
distinguished from the Serpulæ, only by this absence of the antennal
stopper. For it dwells in a shelly tube, essentially resembling those
which we have just been examining. It has peculiarities of detail,
however. It is never found associated with numbers of its fellows in
agglutinated groups, but always, so far as my experience goes, singly.
It is more common on shells than on stones, generally attached to the
old valve of some cockle or scallop. It is straight or nearly so, never
at least contorted. Attached only for a very short portion of its
smaller end, perhaps for an inch or so, for which it creeps along the
surface, it then rises into a more or less erect position, extending
sometimes to a height of seven or eight inches perfectly free. The tube
is of about the same diameter as that of the Serpula, but is slighter
in structure, or perhaps it appears so, because it is destitute of
those expansions which here and there in that species indicate the
trumpet-lips of successive stages of development. The extremity of the
tube here is simple, not expanding. Slight annular rings, however, do
here and there vary the shelly surface of the tube.

The gill-tufts are ample; they are two, considerably infolded,
consisting of about forty-five filaments each, which are much longer
and slenderer than those of the Serpula, the last filaments of the
volutions diminishing rapidly. The secondary filaments, or pinnæ, are
very fine and very numerous, so set on the main stem that the two
rows form the sides of a narrow groove, facing inwards. The whole
is yellowish-white with eight or ten bright scarlet dots set with
intervals all along the back or outer side of the stem. When fully
protruded, the base of the gills, and even a good deal of the neck,
lolls out of the tube. If the animal be removed, the body is seen to
be white, elegantly banded with scarlet, and furnished with a broad
translucent collar, edged with scarlet: this collar ordinarily lines
the mouth of the tube.

From the length and isolation of its shelly tube this is a remarkable
species: the great tenuity of its filaments, however, requires a lens
to bring out their beauties; but with this aid, the arrangement of the
rich scarlet bands and spots on the pale yellow ground cannot fail to
evoke admiration.

SABELLÆ.

In general, the Sabellæ inhabit tubes which are not calcareous or
shelly; they are composed of a soft flexible substance somewhat
resembling wet parchment, made of a secretion from the animal’s
body, in which the impalpable muddy sediment which the waves agitate,
consisting of decomposed organic matter for the most part, is
interwoven. The tissue so made is sufficiently tough and enduring,
retaining its form long after the animal has died out of it.

In our dredge-hauls we find a pretty little kind[146] common enough,
which lives in association, the tubes apparently from half-an-inch
to an inch in length, forming dense masses on stones and shells, and
projecting in every direction. A dozen or more may be in one group, and
when all are alive, one or another protruding or retiring every moment,
it makes a pretty object.

The gill-filaments are nine to eleven in each row, of a yellowish
white, occasionally patched with dead-white, or red-brown: delicately
and densely pinnate. The filaments, in the act of protruding, are
closed together like a straight bundle of rods which suddenly fall open
at the ends. In this moment of unfolding, their tips are seen to be
a little hooked inwards. The tube is about as large as a crow-quill;
under a lens it appears speckled, as if the inorganic matter imbedded
in it were grains of the finest sand. On carefully removing all the
surrounding tubes and other objects so as to isolate one, we see that
it is truly about three inches in length, but that two-thirds of the
whole are prostrate and adherent; this basal portion is horny and
pellucid, no mud entering into its texture. The animal when extracted
is an inch in length, of which the gill-tufts form one-third.

Mingled with these there are one or two specimens of a much more
imposing species, the Hook-plumed Sabella.[147] It grows to a large
size, the crown of gill-filaments sometimes attaining a height of an
inch, and the same diameter. The two rows are incurved in regular
spirals of half a turn, each consisting of about eighteen filaments,
which are rather stout, the whole crown sometimes taking the form of a
funnel, sometimes that of a cup, often arching inward at the tip. Their
pinnæ are long and close, the two rows forming a groove, but nearly
parallel. Each primary stem is set along the back with twelve pairs of
feather-like processes, hooked downwards;--a very remarkable character,
and one by which this species may be in a moment distinguished. Their
colour is pale red-brown, mottled irregularly with deep brownish purple
and with white; there is a pair of brown specks at the origin of
each pair of hooks. The base of the crown is always concealed in the
mouth of the tube, but it springs from a narrow frilled membrane of
pure white. The body is destitute of a thoracic shield, or conspicuous
collar. The tube is largely composed of soft homogeneous mud, usually
of a pale purplish hue, of about the thickness of the shelly tube of
_S. tubularia_.

TUBE-BUILDING.

The process of building the mud tubes of the Sabellæ is a
very interesting one. It is performed, according to my own
observations,[148] mainly by means of the gill-filaments and their
pinnal grooves. The filaments are bent-over, till the inner or grooved
face comes in contact with the soft mud on which the animal is lying,
when the sensitive pinnæ close on a minute portion of the mud, taking
it up in a pellet, which is then fashioned by the form of the groove;
the filament is now erected, and the pellet, passing down the groove
to the bottom by means of the cilia, is delivered to the care of two
delicate moveable organs, like leaves or flaps, which place it on the
edge of the tube, and then shape and mould it, smoothing both surfaces.
Doubtless, either from these organs, or from some other part of the
circumjacent region, the glutinous secretion is at the same time poured
out, which consolidates the mud, and forms the true basis of the tube.

FOOTNOTES:

[133] _Antennularia antennina_, figured in Plate XXXI., springing
from the lower left corner. It will be easily recognised from the
description.

[134] For details and figures of these developments, I beg to refer the
reader to my _Naturalist’s Rambles on the Devonshire Coast_.

[135] _Scalpellum vulgare_, seen in Plate XXXI., in the position
described in the text.

[136] _Balanus balanoides_, of which a group is seen in the extreme
left of the foreground in Plate XXXI.; _B. porcatus_, a single
specimen, is a little to the right.

[137] _Lepas anatifera_. A group, the size of life, is seen depending
in the upper right-hand corner of Plate XXXI.

[138] _Pyrgoma Anglicum_, of which three specimens are seen attached to
a _Caryophyllia Smithii_, at the left side of Plate XXXI.

[139] _Zoologist_, pp. 7054, 7111.

[140] _Serpula contortuplicata_, a mass of which forms the subject of
Plate XXXII., mingled with _S. triquetra_.

[141] Some in this infant state are seen in Plate XXXIII.

[142] Brit. Annelida, in _Rep. Brit. Assoc._, 1851.

[143] _Zoologist_, p. 5976.

[144] _Vide supra_, p. 135.

[145] _Sabella tubularia_, represented as occupying the foreground and
the left-hand side of Plate XXXIII.

[146] I have figured a group in the centre of Plate XXXIII. I cannot
satisfactorily identify it with any species described in Grube’s _Fam.
der Anneliden_. It has some affinities with the _Sabella penicillus_
of Müller; and still more with _S. gracilis_ of Grube. This latter is
defined, however, as wanting the two naked threads by the mouth, which
in my little species are sufficiently conspicuous. I must leave it
undetermined.

[147] _Sabella bombyx_, represented in Plate XXXIII., towards the right
hand, springing out of a group of Serpula tubes.

[148] _Intellectual Observer_, vol. iii. p. 77.



XII.

DECEMBER.


December is here, with its short days, its feeble watery sunshine, its
frequent gloom and mist, its hanging leaden skies; in short, as the
poet describes it,--

  “Sullen and sad, with all his rising train;
  Vapours and clouds and storms.”

It requires some zeal in the pursuit of scientific lore to leave the
glowing fire and the pleasant book, the luxurious arm-chair and the
elastic carpet, and to venture down to the wild sea-beach, to poke and
peer among the desolate rocks. Yet even now we may find a few bright
days, when Nature abroad looks inviting, and when an hour’s marine
research will prove neither unpleasant nor unsuccessful.

SQUIRTERS.

On such a noon, then, calm and quiet, the sun bright and cheerful, if
low and feeble, the tide tolerably low and the rocks accessible, we hie
down to some one or other of those ledges which have so often already
yielded their treasures to our search, and begin our wonted labours at
turning over the heavy angular masses. We soon find, attached to the
under surfaces of these, what seem to be irregular blobs of coloured
jelly of somewhat firm consistence, as if an invalid had been here
eating his calves’-foot jelly, whose trembling hand had dropped sundry
spoonfuls on the stones. Some appear as flattish shapeless drops, but
others take more elevated forms, like sacks set on end, and usually
displaying two mouths. One of these is of a pellucid yellowish green,
or olive hue, with a cloudy spot of rich orange in the interior. A
slight shrinking from the touch, a yet closer contraction of the
projecting points, is the only token of life that we can discern in
it now; but if we place it in an aquarium,--not forcibly removing it
from its attachment, but lifting the shell or stone on which it rests;
or, if this be too large, detaching the fragment with a chisel,--and
allow it to remain a few hours undisturbed, we shall see evidences of
a vitality, indubitable if not very active.

The whole creature is now much plumper and more pellucid; it stands
up boldly from its base on the stone; its upper portion is much
lengthened, and the two wart-like eminences have become two short
tubes with gaping extremities, appearing as if they had been soldered
together side by side, of which the one is considerably higher than
the other.[149]

We have before us one of the _Tunicata_, an order of molluscous
animals which are closely allied to the _Conchifera_ or bivalves, but
somewhat lower in the scale than they. It has no shell; that is to say,
lime is not deposited in the outer investment, so as to give it the
hard, rigid, solid texture of shell; but the internal organs, which
are essentially similar to those of an Oyster or a Sand-gaper, are
enclosed in a tough leathery coat, known as the _test_, which is in
fact a closed shell destitute of lime. The eminent physiologist, John
Hunter, who had dissected some of these homely Squirters, as they are
familiarly called, recognised, with his wonted acumen, the structural
similarity of their leathery envelopes to the stony shells of the lower
bivalves; and, associating them in a group, called them “soft-shells.”
The naturalness of this group, since called _Tunicata_ by Lamarck, has
been recognised by modern zoologists.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 34.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

ORANGE-SPOTTED SQUIRTER. FOUR-ANGLED SQUIRTER. CURRANT SQUIRTER.
]

THE GILL-SAC.

If we watch our Ascidia for a few minutes, we perceive that at
irregular intervals one or both of the gaping orifices are suddenly
closed and contracted, commonly both at the same instant. They
are, however, soon opened again; and we may discern, especially if
the specimen is in a glass vessel, and we watch it by the aid of
a lens, with the light of a window at its back, that a current of
the surrounding water flows from all sides to the taller orifice,
and pours down its tube; while occasionally we see the ejection of
a stream from the orifice of the shorter tube. Thus we have here a
receiving and a discharging tube, the exact representatives of the
two siphons in such bivalves as _Pholas_, _Venus_, etc. The former
leads down into a capacious sac in the interior, the walls of which
constitute the breathing apparatus. The inner surface is marked by
regular parallel ridges which run in a horizontal direction; and these
are again connected by vertical ridges at right angles, very numerous,
enclosing a vast number of oval compartments. The sides of these are
richly ciliated; and if the whole apparatus be carefully dissected out,
and laid upon the stage of the microscope, the course of the ciliary
currents may be distinctly seen, continuing with unabated vigour
and with unfaltering precision for a long time after the severance
of the organ from the body of the animal. But all this is seen to
most advantage, if we select one of the smaller species, which are
brilliantly transparent, such as one which grows in groups of elegant
tall vases, about an inch in height, around the edges of our rocky
pools,[150] or a tiny thing which forms a little heap of transparent
globules, like pins’ heads, attached to sea-weeds.[151] In either of
these, placed in a stage-trough of sea-water, we can watch at leisure
the performance of the various vital functions in healthy action, with
the knowledge that the little subject has not been martyred to science,
but is all the while enjoying its humble life with perhaps as much zest
as if it were still environed by the rough walls of its little native
basin of rock.

In the tiny pin-head of clear jelly, the microscope displays the
branchial sac hanging free in the cavity, like a bag of clear muslin.
The oval cavities divided-off by the rectangular ridges are about forty
in number, around each of which the ciliary waves incessantly roll,
as running spots of black. It is a very charming spectacle to see so
many oblong figures set symmetrically, all furnished on their inner
surface with what look like the cogs or teeth of a mill-wheel, dark
and distinct, running round and round with an even, moderately rapid,
ceaseless course. These black, well-defined, tooth-like specks are
merely an optical effect; they do not represent any actual objects,
but only the waves which the cilia make: the cilia themselves being
hairs, so fine as to be defined only with high powers. Occasionally we
see one or other of the ovals suddenly cease its movement, while the
rest go on; and now and then the whole are arrested simultaneously, and
presently all start off again together, with a very pleasing effect, as
if we were looking at the wheels of a very perfect and complex piece of
machinery. These phenomena appear to indicate that the movements are
under the control of the animal’s will, capable of being suspended or
continued, wholly, or in any degree, at pleasure; which is not the case
in the higher animals; our own respiratory movement, for example, as
well as the pulsations of the heart, going on without the concurrence
of our will, and even without our consciousness.

THE HEART.

The action of the heart in these transparent creatures is equally
visible. Below the muslin curtain with its living chambers, down at
the very bottom of the body-cavity, there is a transparent sac of
membrane, which takes the appearance of a long bag, pointed at each
end, but not closed, and strangely twisted on its long axis, so as
to make three turns. This is the heart; and within it are seen many
colourless globules, floating freely in a clear fluid, which answers
to the blood. This circulates throughout the system in the following
manner:--We see a spasmodic contraction at one end of the bag, which
drives forward the globules contained there; the contraction in an
instant passes onward along the three twists of the vessel, the part
behind expanding immediately as the movement passes on, and the
globules are forcibly expelled through the narrow but open extremity.
Meanwhile the free globules surrounding the commencing end have rushed
in as soon as that part resumed its usual width, and are in their turn
driven forward by the periodic repetition of the pulsation. The fluid,
with its globules thus put in motion, is then driven along through the
interstices of the various organs of the body, not through a system of
closed blood-vessels, some finding their way along the transverse lines
that separate the rows of gill-ovals, until they sooner or later arrive
at the point where they entered the heart, to take the same course over
again.

As in the kindred forms of animal life, the same orifice, the same
cilia, the same currents are subservient to breathing and to the
reception of food; the stomach digesting the microscopic animalcules
which are poured with the entering stream through the receiving siphon.
At some distance within the interior of this orifice there are a series
of thread-shaped tentacles, affixed in a ring, which we may suppose to
exercise some kind of superintendence, by touch or other perception,
over the atoms which indiscriminately enter upon the stream, accepting
or rejecting. Probably it is in the exercise of the latter discretion
that those irregular regurgitations of the current take place,
accompanied by a momentary closing of the mouth, that we frequently
notice.

THE EYES.

Still further ancillary to the protection of the stomach from the
intrusion of inimical matters, we may safely suppose certain eye-like
specks which are placed at the very vestibule. In the larger species,
as this red-clouded green Squirter, there are seated in special
fissures at the very margin of the expanded siphon-orifices, red
dots,--eight around the receiving, six around the ejecting, siphon.
Each dot seems ascertained to be an eye of very rudimentary structure,
seated on a mass of orange pigment. We should probably do wrong if
we attributed any higher vision to these organs than a low degree of
sensibility to the general stimulus of the light.

Some species have the orifices of the siphons four-cornered, whereas
the sort I have been describing have them circular; there are
differences also in the breathing sac, which in the square-mouthed
species is folded lengthwise, while in the round-mouthed it is plain.
Hence the former have been separated from the _Ascidiæ_, as a distinct
genus, named _Cynthia_; both including a large number of species.

We have a pretty attractive little _Cynthia_ in our dredging,--the
Currant Squirter.[152] It is not uncommon in deep water off this coast,
and in Weymouth Bay; frequently occurring in family groups crowded
together on old shells. Generally there is one of superior dimensions
to the rest, the venerable parent of the colony; and, surrounding
him, others of varying size, and (doubtless) age, down to very minute
infants. The full size is about that of half a small cherry; but it
is more usual to see them not exceeding that of half a red currant.
These comparisons will also give a fair idea of their shape and
colour, especially in a state of contraction, as when lifted from
the water: for they are little hemispheres of a brilliant, scarcely
pellucid, crimson hue, seated on the shell by the whole broad base.
Under water, and at ease, the form becomes more conical, rising into a
point; whence, in full expansion, the two siphons protrude, slightly
divergent, and the one a little superior to the other, each opening by
a distinctly quadrangular orifice.

FOUR-ANGLED SQUIRTER.

Contrasting with this neat and pretty little family, we have here
another species of the genus, the Four-angled Squirter.[153] You would
hardly suppose this to be an animal at all, if uninitiated; but might
readily pass it over as a rude stone, or a bit of wood roughly bruised
and worn by the waves beating it among the rocks, so uncouth and coarse
and shapeless it is. It forms a great mass, some two inches high,
rudely four-sided, of a dull yellowish-olive hue, rising into two blunt
eminences, which individually retain the quadrangular shape, and in
activity open by symmetrically quadrangular orifices. It is a sluggish,
unattractive lump of flesh, somewhat between leather and jelly in
texture, coarsely pellucid, but not transparent, and its exterior is
usually distinguished by various extraneous matters imbedded in the
test, as well as by forests of tangled zoophytes which creep over it
and root in it as on the rock. The surface itself, moreover, is much
corrugated by an irregular network of depressions, marking off angular
warty areas.

On the other hand, the little Currant is a pleasing inhabitant of the
aquarium. Of manners, to be sure, it has not much, good or bad, but the
form and colour are agreeable; as is also the effect produced by the
grouping of the brilliant drops of jelly. Little of change takes place,
beyond the occasional contraction and reprotrusion of the orifices; but
sometimes you may see, as I have seen, at certain times, the laying of
eggs by this species, which is an interesting phenomenon. These are
perfectly globular, about the size of small shot or pins’ heads, of a
rich scarlet-crimson hue: they are deposited in a singular manner. The
oviduct does not extend to the exterior of the body, but discharges the
eggs into a large cavity formed by the mouth, of which the discharging
siphon is the outlet. From this orifice, then, they are expelled, shot
out perpendicularly with considerable force, so that they describe
arched courses through the water, like bombs shot from a mortar, rising
to a height ten times that of the animal. I have observed a dozen or
more eggs thus discharged in quick succession, which then fall to the
bottom around the parent, destined to constitute one of those family
groups in which we usually find the species.

I have not been successful in rearing these eggs to maturity. The
development of the _Tunicata_ has, however, been observed by various
naturalists, and by none more thoroughly than by the late Sir John
Dalyell, whose elaborate and costly works, profusely illustrated, are
such a mine of information respecting the lower forms of marine life.

TRANSFORMATIONS.

The young escapes from the egg in a form as unlike the parent as can
be imagined. It is a flat ovate body with a long flat tail, altogether
presenting a curious resemblance to the tadpole of a frog. In this
condition I have found the larva of the _Clavelina_, and have followed
it to the development of the _Ascidia_ form. By means of the rapid
vibrations of the powerful tail, the little tadpole swims for short
distances through the water, with more effort than effect. After a
while, it rests; swims again, and again rests; till at last it moves
no more. A coloured eye-speck is visible on the surface, destined to
be absorbed; the tail is beginning to disappear (in some cases it
is separated by a spontaneous constriction at its junction with the
body, in others it appears to be gradually absorbed); one or more
warts are seen budding from the opposite extremity of the body. These
last secrete a cement by which the animal is finally attached to its
support, shell, stone, or sea-weed, either growing out into creeping
and adherent root-threads, or enlarging into a broad base, from which
the body begins to grow upward. After a while the two orifices are
formed; first within, on the mantle, before the exterior test is
pierced; then the internal organs, the gill-sac, and the pulsating
heart, if it be one of the transparent species, become recognisable;
the single eye-speck, a temporary organ, pales and disappears; and
the permanent circles of visual organs are formed around the siphonal
orifices. And thus the Ascidian is developed.

BOTRYLLI.

The genera _Ascidia_ and _Cynthia_ consist of isolated distinct
individuals; the _Clavelina_ and the _Perophora_ exist in the
form of groups, composed of distinct individuals associated by a
common branching root-thread, whence they irregularly bud forth.
There are, however, other genera, in which the compound life is
more prominently manifest, the individual being recognisable only
by carefully dissecting it out from the common mass. To this form
belong many gelatinous masses which occur on our rocky coasts; one
in particular,[154] conspicuous for its rich scarlet and orange
colours, which forms irregular pear-shaped lumps, that hang from
low-lying ledges, and that look not unlike strawberries. This is
extremely abundant. More attractive still are the _Botrylli_,[155]
which doubtless many persons have gazed on with admiration, wondering
what they can be,--animal, vegetable, or what. They look as if small
quantities of jelly had been spilt, sometimes on a stone, sometimes
on the broad leaf of a tangle, sometimes on a shrubby sea-weed,
entangling the twigs and leaves in the gelatinous mass. When we look
closely at such an object, we see that it is studded with little
starry systems of oblong specks, of some bright colour contrasting
with the ground-tint;--perhaps the stars are bright orange on a warm
brown, or pale straw-colour on a chocolate ground, or green on
an iron-grey. The stars vary in outline, often being angular, often
oval, or circular: they vary, too, in dimensions, and in number of the
constituent specks; some may be a sixth of an inch in diameter, and
contain a dozen or more; others may be less than half that size, and
have no more than two or three; or even a single speck may be seen here
and there, which has not yet begun to develop the starry form.

[Illustration:

  PLATE 35.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  BOTRYLLI.
]

Each bright speck in these radiating star-like systems is an animal
essentially of the Ascidian form, with the following peculiarities.
All have budded from one primary individual, which was produced as a
tiny tadpole, from an egg: the manner and direction in which the buds
were put forth determining the starry arrangement. There is a common
gelatinous envelope, in which the whole are imbedded, and which ever
extends as the individuals and systems multiply, and which seems to
have the power of developing isolated individuals which have not budded
in the ordinary way, but which then produce others by budding, and
so become the commencing points of other systems. In each individual
the siphonal orifices are remote from each other, the receiving one
being placed on the circumference of the ring or system, while the
ejecting one is placed at the opposite end, opening, in common with
the discharging siphons of all of that system, into a central main
orifice, which rises out of the level with a circular rim, and forms
the dark centre of the system.

In the open ocean there are forms of _Tunicata_ which are not attached,
but swim freely; and, what is surprising, even compound forms are
thus found, progressing by a combined action. One of the most curious
is the genus _Pyrosoma_, which consists of long-bodied Ascidians, so
united in rings as to constitute a long, free cylindrical tube, closed
at one end and open at the other. By the rhythmical contractions and
dilatations of the multitude, this great cylinder slowly swims through
the open sea. But the most interesting circumstance in its history is
that it is intensely luminous, lighting up the midnight ocean with
flashes of vivid light, or seen gliding through the dark water like
glowing sticks of fire. So it is described by some voyagers, perhaps
with a little exaggeration, for Mr. Bennett, to whom we are indebted
for many valuable remarks on oceanic zoology, speaks in more subdued
tones of it. His account of this and other pelagic phosphorescence is
very interesting:--

PYROSOMA.

“On the 8th of June,” he observes, “being then in lat. 30° S., and
long. 27° 5′ W., having fine weather and a fresh south-easterly
trade-wind, and the range of the thermometer being from 78° to 84°,
late at night, the mate of the watch came and called me to witness
a very unusual appearance in the water, which he, on first seeing
it, considered to be breakers. On arriving upon deck, this was found
to be a very broad and extensive sheet of phosphorescence, extending
in a direction from east to west, as far as the eye could reach. The
luminosity was confined to the range of animals in this shoal, for
there was no similar light in any other direction. I immediately cast
the towing-net over the stern of the ship, as we approached nearer the
luminous streak, to ascertain the cause of this extraordinary and so
limited phenomenon. The ship soon cleaved through the brilliant mass,
from which, by the disturbance, strong flashes of light were emitted;
and the shoal, judging from the time the vessel took in passing through
the mass, may have been a mile in breadth. The passage of the vessel
through them increased the light around to a far stronger degree,
illuminating the ship. On taking in the towing-net, it was found half
filled with _Pyrosoma_ (_Atlanticum?_), which shone with a beautiful
pale-greenish light; and there were also a few shell-fish in the net at
the same time. After the mass had been passed through, the light was
still seen astern, until it became invisible in the distance; and the
whole of the ocean then became hidden in the darkness as before this
took place. The scene was as novel as beautiful and interesting; more
so from my having ascertained, by capturing luminous animals, the cause
of the phenomenon.

“The second occasion of my meeting these creatures was not exactly
similar to the preceding; but though also limited, was curious, as
occurring in a high latitude, during the winter season. It was on the
19th of August, the weather dark and gloomy, with light breezes from
north-north-east, in lat. 40° 30′ S., and long. 138° 3′ E., being then
distant about 368 miles from King’s Island (at the western entrance of
Bass’s Straits). It was about eight o’clock P.M. when the ship’s wake
was perceived to be luminous; and scintillations of the same light
were also abundant around. As this was unusual, and had not been seen
before, and it occasionally, also, appeared in larger and smaller
detached masses, giving out a high degree of brilliancy, to ascertain
the cause, so unusual in high latitudes during the winter season, I
threw the towing-net overboard, and in twenty minutes succeeded in
capturing several _Pyrosomata_, giving out their usual pale-green
light; and it was, no doubt, detached groups of these animals that were
the occasion of the light in question. The beautiful light given out by
these molluscous animals soon ceased to be seen emitted from every part
of their bodies; but by moving them about it could be reproduced for
some length of time after. As long as the luminosity of the ocean was
visible (which continued most part of the night), a number of _Pyrosoma
Atlanticum_, two species of _Phyllosoma_, an animal apparently allied
to _Leptocephalus_, as well as several crustaceous animals (all of
which I had before considered as intertropical species), were caught
and preserved. At half-past ten P.M. the temperature of the atmosphere
on deck was 52°, and that of the water 51½°. The luminosity of the
water gradually decreased during the night, and towards morning was no
longer seen, nor on any subsequent night.”[156]

SPONGES.

Let us come back from the wide world of waters, with its nightly
illuminations, and its other ten thousand marvels, to our own homely
and quiet beach. A tribe of existences is awaiting our notice, which we
have as yet neglected; which yet we cannot fail to observe whenever we
peep beneath these boulders, and look at these rocky ledges, just left
exposed by the lowest retiring tides. They are the Sponges; the most
debateable forms of life, long denied a right to stand in the animal
ranks at all, and even still admitted there doubtingly and grudgingly
by some excellent naturalists. Yet such they certainly are, established
beyond reasonable controversy as true and proper examples of animal
life, and therefore having a rightful claim to be painted and
described in this series of essays. However, as they are the lowest, so
shall they be the last; for, with a few notes on some of our species,
I shall dismiss my kind and courteous readers.

The inferior surface of this huge slab of limestone, supported at
one end by a boulder, while the other end is imbedded in the mud or
concealed by the smaller fragments that are thrown in confusion around,
is densely studded with organisms. It is only at very low tides that
this arch is exposed, though now we can creep in and work with no great
discomfort, though with some defilement of our garments from the mud
and slime. The absence of direct light is favourable to the growth
of marine productions, and thus we have another congenial element in
the obscurity. With some of the smaller sea-weeds, chiefly of the
filamentous kinds, as _Cladophora_, _Conferva_, some of the minuter
_Callithamnia_, etc., the majority of the forms that crowd and cover
the rock so densely are animals: indeed there are large areas where
the animate forms struggle so perseveringly for standing-room, that
not a filament or frond of vegetation can be seen, and you could not
thrust the point of a penknife down to the rock in any spot without
wounding some or other of the incrusting creatures. _Polyzoa_ are
here, chiefly of the tufted species; _Hydrozoa_, too, hang down;
Anemones, but not in abundance, may be seen; _Saxicavæ_ push their
crimson siphons through, here and there; _Botrylli_ are spread in
patches, and _Amœrœcia_ are suspended like a plentiful crop of tempting
strawberries; but Sponges constitute the staple of the crop; it is a
veritable field of Sponge.

I have on other occasions described some of the more characteristic
phenomena of this class of creatures;--the volcanic eruptions of the
Crumb-of-bread Sponge, the hills and poles and webs of the Rosy Crumb,
the protrusile bladders of the Sanguine, the starry spicula of the
Flat-Sack.[157] These I shall assume as known, and shall confine myself
to the enumeration and description of a few other species which are
found congregated on this rocky roof.

One of the first to catch the eye, by its gorgeous colour, is a rather
thin, soft, spreading patch, of the richest vermilion hue.[158] It is
of close substance, the surface covered with shallow irregular sinuous
channels and minute orifices. It rarely exceeds an inch in diameter,
but throws out slender clinging processes to some length. The flesh is
dense. Under the microscope it contains three-rayed spicula, which are
for the most part somewhat blunt, but some are very sharp. After death
it rapidly loses its brilliant hue, and dries of a dull oak-brown.

Another occurs in the form of low irregular spreading patches of a
greyish black, very smooth and shiny, more plump than the former, and a
little larger.[159] There are no visible orifices on the surface. The
substance is yellowish grey, compact, with a distinct demarcation from
the thin black tough skin. The spicula of the flesh have three rays in
one plane, and one standing up from it; very stout, sharp-pointed, with
a distinct canal running through the centre of each ray of the larger
ones. There are a few rods abruptly hooked at the tip; a few very long,
straight, and slender, with pin-like heads; and a few simple needles,
long, slender, pointed at one or at both ends.

Some largish rounded masses occur, several inches in diameter, and
rising to a thickness of three-fourths of an inch.[160] The surface
is undulate, the summits slightly ridged, covered with shallow
sinuous channels having sharp edges, not very confluent: large round
mouth-orifices (_oscula_) generally mark the summits of the ridges.
The colour of this fine species is a deep buff, and its appearance is
much like that of our Turkey Sponge, with something of the same feel,
but much firmer. The interior is full of channels. The spicula here
are very varied and interesting, comprising some curious and unusual
forms. Some, indeed, are simple needles, nearly straight, pointed at
one end rather abruptly. The following are minute. There are a number
of rings interrupted at one side, like the letter C, some thicker and
more elliptical, others slender and rounder, C. A few take the form of
the letter S, but having one lobe much more developed than the other.
Some of the C form have both the extremities bifid, and the points
widely diverging; and some of these have the back straight, instead of
curved, and these with their bifid points, look, when viewed in front,
like double anchors. All are, as usual, spun out of the most brilliant
glass.

Then we have in some abundance a sort[161] with firm cartilaginous
walls, about one-eighth of an inch thick, standing up to the height of
three-fourths, with rounded summits, running in irregular sinuations
and convolutions, not unlike the cartilage of the human ear, enclosing
deep hollows. The colour is opaque white, tinged with red, probably
from the red mud, which is prevalent here. When cut with a knife this
sponge has a sharp, crisp, gritty feel, and when a little is crushed
between glass plates we distinctly hear a creaking sound. These
phenomena depend on the circumstance that it is almost wholly composed
of great stout three-rayed spicula, solid throughout, together with a
multitude of excessively slender needles, straight, long, pointed at
one end; and many others as slender, but very short; no longer, indeed,
than the thickness of one of the three-rayed.[162]

Equally numerous with these, and possessing a certain amount of
resemblance to them, are some thick, compact, sack-shaped masses,
with angular edges and blunt points: sometimes they are flattened and
dilated, like a sack when empty; sometimes rounded, like a sack when
full. In the former condition several perforations occur along the
terminal ridge, in the latter there is generally but one. The colour
is white, slightly tinted, just as in the preceding. It stands up
boldly and stiffly (or rather _hangs_ in the natural state) from its
rather narrow base to the height of about two-thirds of an inch, and
the flattened specimens are as wide as this. It is nearly made up of
three-rayed spicula, some of large size, but more rather small. A
transverse section shows no obvious arrangement, except that of the
great central channel, into which the points of the spicula project;
but a longitudinal section shows the spicula built up one on another
in many courses, so nearly symmetrical that hexagonal canals are
formed, whose axes run transversely to the axis of the sponge; _i.e._,
horizontally. There is very little fleshy or gelatinous matter.[163]

Again we see a showy species,[164] making soft, spongy patches of an
orange or red-lead colour, an inch or more in diameter, rising into
ridges a quarter of an inch high, and forming low peaks, whose apices
are perforate. Its substance contains simple needles, long, nearly or
quite straight, pointed at one end; these are found in great numbers
in close array, the points mostly projecting from the surface. Some of
them are twice as thick as others.

Now we notice another peculiar form:[165] creeping, worm-like masses
of orange-yellow or buff hue, soft and spongy in texture, which throw
up one or more free, erect processes, irregularly curved, an inch or
more long, and about one-eighth thick on an average, but frequently
swollen and contracted by turns. These are not tubular, and the tips
are rounded. The general surface under a magnifier appears slightly
channelled. Within we find simple needles, long, nearly straight,
pointed at both ends, moderately numerous, enveloped in much yellow
granular flesh.

Then there are some imposing masses of a globose form,[166] some
of which attain a foot or more in diameter, though others are not
more than an inch. The surface is compact and smooth, of a delicate
purplish-grey hue, with a few minute orifices, each surrounded by a
small paler area.

The spicula in this noble species are various: simple rods, straight,
thick, long, slightly spindle-shaped, blunt at both ends, with a linear
axis; three-rayed, large, stout, very unequal angled, without any
central channel; a number of very small five- and six-rayed stars, the
rays projecting in different planes. They are set in a dense, yellow,
gelatinous flesh, in which we may at all times discover many gemmules,
or eggs; the smaller (or younger) are nearly round, bristling with
points in all directions like sea-urchins, changing as they grow larger
to a more oval form, beset with rounded warts, instead of points. These
are discharged, when mature, with the currents of water, through the
orifices, and find their way to some suitable spot, where they develop
themselves into the parent form.

Finally, here is a sort[167] whose colour is a pale Indian red;
occurring in masses which take the form of thick, plump bands, about
half-an-inch in width, but alternately swelling and contracting, which
creep over the rock, meeting and uniting, and then separating, so as to
leave hollow open interstices, which, however, in some specimens are
gradually filled up. The swellings form pointed hillocks, the apices of
which are pierced with from one to three orifices. Irregular shallow
channels cover the hillocks, and converge to the apices. It contains
simple needles, slender, straight (or slightly curved), pointed at each
end, not very numerous, thickly invested with granular flesh. This
Sponge shrivels much, and becomes shapeless in drying, but changes
little in colour. It is abundant.[168]

[Illustration:

  PLATE 36.

  P. H. GOSSE, _del._        LEIGHTON, BROS.

  SPONGES.  CHITON.
]

Thus the praise of the all-glorious God lies latent in all his
creatures, whether man educe it or not. Too often, when we observe
the wondrous variety, the incomparable delicacy, elegance, beauty,
the transcendent fitness and perfection of every organ and structure,
we are more occupied with our own pleasure or our own glory than with
the praise of God: our own pleasure in acquiring new knowledge, or in
admiring unexpected beauties; our own glory in opening up new stores
of science; these are our motives to study, and we withhold from, or
feebly and grudgingly give to, the Blessed Creator and Fashioner,
the honour, of which every atom, every combination, every exquisite
contrivance, is eloquently discoursing to us the while. Forgive, O
Thou, who hast created all things, and for whose pleasure they are, and
were created, that we so often touch with irreverent hand Thy glorious
works; that we so often walk with silent tongues on this holy ground!

       *       *       *       *       *

A PROTEST.

I cannot conclude this volume without recording my solemn and
deliberate protest against the infidelity with which, to a very painful
extent, modern physical science is associated. I allude not only to the
ground which the conclusions of modern geologists take, in opposition
to the veracity of the “God which cannot lie,” though the distinct
statements which He has made to us concerning Creation are now, as if
by common consent, put aside, with silent contempt, as effete fables,
unworthy of a moment’s thought, and this too before vast assemblages of
persons, not one of whom lifts his voice for the truth of God. These
assaults are at least open and unmasked. But there is in our scientific
literature, and specially in that which takes a popular form, a tone
equally dangerous and more insidious. It altogether ignores the awful
truths of God’s revelation, that all mankind are guilty and condemned
and spiritually dead in Adam; that we are by nature children of wrath;
that the whole world lieth in the wicked one; and that the wrath of
God abideth on it: it ignores the glorious facts of atonement by the
precious blood of Christ, and of acceptance in Him. It substitutes for
these a mere sentimental admiration of nature, and teaches that the
love of the beautiful makes man acceptable to God, and secures His
favour. How often do we see quoted and be-praised, as if it were an
indisputable axiom, the sentiment of a poet who ought to have known
better,

  “He prayeth best who loveth best
    All things, both great and small;”--

a sentiment as silly as it is unscriptural; for what connexion
can there be between the love of the inferior creatures, and the
acceptableness of a sinner praying to the Holy God? It is the
intervention of Christ Jesus, the anointed Priest, which alone gives
prayer acceptance.

There is no sentimental or scientific road to heaven. There is
absolutely nothing in the study of created things, however single,
however intense, which will admit sinful man into the presence of God,
or fit him to enjoy it. If there were, what need was there that the
glorious Son, the everlasting Word, should be made flesh, and give His
life a ransom for many?

If I have come to God as a guilty sinner, and have found acceptance,
and reconciliation, and sonship, in the blood of His only-begotten
Son, then I may come down from that elevation, and study creation with
advantage and profit; but to attempt to scale heaven with the ladder
of natural history, is nothing else than Cain’s religion; it is the
presentation of the fruit of the earth, instead of the blood of the
Lamb.

A TESTIMONY.

This will be, in all probability, the last occasion of my coming in
literary guise before the public: how can I better take my leave than
with the solemn testimony of the Spirit of God, which I affectionately
commend to my readers,--

  THERE IS NO WAY INTO THE HOLIEST BUT BY
  THE BLOOD OF JESUS.


FINIS.

FOOTNOTES:

[149] _Ascidia_ ----?; perhaps _A. prunum_; but much uncertainty rests
on the names of the _Tunicata_. The species is represented in Plate
XXXIV.: two specimens on the left hand.

[150] _Clavelina lepadiformis._

[151] _Perophora Listeri._ For magnified figures of these animals the
reader is referred to my _Tenby_, Plate V., and _Devonshire Coast_,
Plate XV.

[152] _Cynthia grossularia_; of which a group is depicted in Plate
XXXIV., seated on an old cockle valve, to the right of the foreground.

[153] _Cynthia quadrangularis_, represented in the background of Plate
XXXIV., rising above the cockle shell which supports the Currants.

[154] _Amœrœcium proliferum._

[155] Two familiar kinds of _Botryllus_ are represented in Plate XXXV.;
of which I cannot with certainty indicate the specific names.

[156] _Wanderings in New South Wales_, etc., vol. i.

[157] _Tenby._--The systematic appellations of these four species are
_Halichondria panicea_, _Halichondria rosea_, _Halichondria sanguinea_,
and _Grantia compressa_.

[158] _Grantia coriacea._

[159] _Halina Bucklandi._

[160] _Halichondria incrustans._

[161] _Leuconia nivea._

[162] It is possible that these may be fragments of the longer needles;
but from their bluntly-pointed ends, and general agreement _inter se_,
I do not think so.

[163] _Leuconia Gossei_ (Bowerbank MS.). Dr. Bowerbank, to whom I have
communicated this species, thinks that it may have been confounded by
former observers with the preceding. “The broad specific difference
between them is that _L. nivea_ has _very_ large triradiate spicula
at its surface, and _L. Gossei_ has not, but has in lieu of them very
large acerate ones at right angles to the surface.” (Bowerb. _in litt._)

[164] _Hymeniacidon caruncula._

[165] _Hymeniacidon albescens._

[166] _Pachymatisma Johnstoni._

[167] _Microciona carnosa._

[168] I have been minute in the descriptions of these species,
because the student of marine zoology has so little to aid him in the
identification of our Sponges. This South Devon coast is peculiarly
rich in these productions; and several of these, though common here,
are considered, as Dr. Bowerbank tells me, quite rare. The figures,
which I have drawn from the life with great care, will, I trust, leave
no difficulty in the identification.

Plate XXXVI. is devoted to the above species of Sponges. Beginning
from the upper right corner, we have _Halichondria panicea_, greenish
yellow, with perforated hillocks: it occurs also in other parts of
the picture. The scarlet one next below is _Grantia coriacea_. The
black one to the right is _Halina Bucklandi_. The plump buff one
under the scarlet is _Halichondria incrustans_. Below this is the
contorted _Leuconia nivea_. Then follows, below, and a little to
the left, _Hymeniacidon caruncula_. Below this are two specimens of
_Leuconia Gossei_, and on the left, yellow, with a slender serpent-like
projection, _Hymeniacidon albescens_. Behind this is the grey globular
_Pachymatisma Johnstoni_, and below, to the left, the pale red
_Microciona carnosa_.



INDEX.


  Adamsia, 237.

  Æquorea, 263.

  Anemones, Sea, 65, 68, 70, 76-82, 202.

  Angled-crab, 229.

  Annelida, 156, 100, 162.

  ---- Bristles of, 164.

  ---- Circulation of, 161, 167.

  ---- Proboscis of, 164.

  Anstey’s Cove, 64.

  Anthea, 67, 202.

  Aquarium, Use of. 61.

  Ascidia, 299, 309.


  Babbicombe, 30, 34.

  Barnacles, 279.

  ---- Acorn, 280.

  ---- Coral, 282.

  ---- Necked, 281.

  ---- Transformations of, 283.

  Beach, Raised, 69.

  Beadlet, 65.

  Beroe, 270.

  Blenny, Butterfly, 212.

  ---- Smooth, 215.

  Boring Mollusca, 53-60.

  Botryllus, 310.

  Brittle-star, Granulate, 226.


  Calappa, 233.

  Caves, Sea, 65.

  Clavelina, 302.

  Cloaklet, 237.

  Cockle, Paignton, 88, 92.

  ---- Common, 90.

  Cod-stomachs, 232.

  Corkwing, 198.

  Cowry, 17-21.

  Crab, Masked, 128.

  ---- Angled, 229.

  ---- Antennæ of, 129.

  ---- Flat, 187.

  ---- Hermit, 242.

  ---- Nut, 238.

  Cucumber, Sea, 25.

  Currant Squirter, 306.

  Cydippe, 270.

  Cynthia, 305.


  Dahlia Wartlet, 81.

  Dead-man’s Finger, 73.

  Diving-bell researches, 275.

  Dog-whelk, 13-16.

  Dog-winkle, 45.

  Doris, 40.

  Dredging, 168, 221, 236.


  Echinodermata, 27, 172-186, 224.

  Eolis, 41.

  Eurylepta, 132.


  Father-lasher, 203.

  Fear, Effects of, in Fishes, 110.

  Feather-star, 182.

  Fishes, Venomous, 114.

  ---- Eyes of, 110, 170, 214, 219.

  ---- Fear in, 110.

  ---- Flat, 104.

  ---- Gills of, 207.

  ---- Habits of, 105, 112, 116, 123, 170, 198, 203, 208, 215, 217.

  ---- Nests of, 123.

  ---- Sucker of, 168, 171.

  Flat-crabs, 187.

  Flat-fishes, 104.

  Flat-worm, Lined, 132.

  Flowers, 32, 34, 85.

  Forests, Submarine, 67.

  Four-angled Squirter, 306.


  Goby, Freckled, 217.

  Goodrington Sands, 85.

  Gulf-stream, 255.

  Gulls, 5.


  Hermit-crab, 237.

  Hope’s Nose, 69.

  Hydrozoa, Oceanic, 248.

  ---- Sertularian, 277.


  Instinct, Parental, 123, 150, 152, 155, 211.


  Jelly-fish, Naked-eyed, 260.

  ---- Crimson-ringed, 267.

  ---- Transformations of, 267.


  Keer-drag, 101.

  Launce, Sand, 111.

  Leaf-worms, 156.

  Limpet, Common, 48.

  ---- Cup, 150.

  ---- Keyhole, 53.

  ---- Slit, 52.

  Lobster-horn, 277.

  London-bridge Rock, 70.

  Long-worm, 134.

  Lucernaria, 83.

  Lucky Proach, 203.

  Luminosity, 265.


  Medusæ, Covered-eyed, 267.

  ---- Luminosity of, 265.

  ---- Naked-eyed, 260.

  Mental Faculties in the Lower Animals, 246.

  Mollusca, Foot of, 7, 18, 94.

  ---- Boring, 53-60, 196.

  ---- Burrowing, 94.

  ---- Eggs of, 42, 47, 150.

  ---- Eyes of, 9, 23.

  ---- Gills of, 42, 51.

  ---- Habits of, 14, 49, 57, 94, 142, 150.

  ---- Mantle of, 8, 18, 23.

  ---- Naked-gilled, 38-45.

  ---- Proboscis of, 15, 18.

  ---- Shell of, 11, 13, 17, 20, 51.

  ---- Tentacles of, 9, 39.

  ---- Tunicate, 305.


  Nacre, 12.

  Nereis, Pearly, 160.

  Nut-crab, 233.


  Opelet, 67, 202.

  Oyster-culture, 72.


  Paignton, 86.

  ---- Cockle, 88.

  Pelican’s Foot, 16.

  Perophora, 302.

  Petit Tor, 32.

  Pholas, 53.

  Physalia, 248.

  Pipe-fish, 207.

  Polynoe, 162.

  Portuguese Man-of-war, 248.

  Portumnus, 127.

  Prawn, 98.

  Purpura, 45.

  Pyrgoma, 282.

  Pyrosoma, 312.


  Red-nose, 59.

  Rock-pools, 6, 88, 196.


  Sabella, 292.

  ---- Hook-plumed, 296.

  ---- Shelled, 293.

  ---- Soft-tubed, 295.

  Sagartia, 76.

  Sarsia, 260.

  Saxicava, 59.

  Scale-worm, 162.

  Scallop, 21-25.

  Scalpellum, 288.

  Scenery, Views of, 30.

  Screw, Locust, 151.

  ---- Fresh-water, 153.

  Sea, Aspects of, 1, 4, 87.

  Sea Cucumber, 25.

  Sea Hare, 139-146.

  Sea Lemon, 40.

  Sea Urchin, 175.

  Serpula, 37, 284.

  Shells, 11, 51.

  ---- Growth of, 17, 20.

  Shrimp, 101.

  Siponcle, 28.

  Sponges, 315-325.

  Squat-lobsters, 191.

  Squirters, 299, 306.

  Starlet, 173.

  Stephanomia, 258.

  Stickleback, 122.

  Stone-turning, 36.

  Sucker, Two-spotted, 168.

  Sun-star, 224.


  Thornback, 119.

  Topknot, 108.

  Top, Purple-spotted, 7-12.

  Torbay Bonnet, 148.

  Triope, 39.

  Tube-worms, 284.

  Tunicata, 299.

  ---- Oceanic, 312.

  ---- Transformations of, 308.

  Tusk-shell, 146.

  Tyre, Purple of, 46.


  Urchin, Sea, 175.


  Velella, 256.

  Venus, Banded, 96.


  Weever, 114.

  Woodlouse, Sea, 154.

  Wrasses, 200.



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Transcriber's Note


Illustrations have been moved next to the text which they illustrate,
and may no longer match the locations given in the List of
Illustrations.

The letters C and S used to describe shapes on p. 319 were printed in
different fonts.

The following apparent errors have been corrected:

p. 21 "tranverse" changed to "transverse"

p. 50 "‘the" changed to "“the"

p. 51 "point," changed to "point."

p. 51 "foot." changed to "foot,"

p. 61 "Inprovements" changed to "Improvements"

p. 67 (note) "right hand" changed to "left hand"

p. 74 "equaminity" changed to "equanimity"

p. 92 "countremen" changed to "countrymen"

(plate) "PLATE 12" changed to "PLATE 12."

(plate) "LESSER WEEVER" changed to "LESSER WEEVER."

p. 138 "assailent" changed to "assailant"

p. 145 (note) "Introd. to _Conchology_" changed to "_Introd. to Conchology_"

(plate) "ANGLED-CRAB" changed to "ANGLED-CRAB."

p. 230 "Plymouth" changed to "Plymouth."

(plate) "PURPLE-HERMIT CRAB." changed to "PURPLE HERMIT-CRAB."

p. 300 (note) "right hand" changed to "left hand"

p. 300 (note) "XXXIV" changed to "XXXIV."

p. 310 (note) "XXXV" changed to "XXXV."


The following are used inconsistently in the text:

Beroë, Beröe and Beroe

Brittlestar and Brittle-star

Corkwing and Cork-wing

_débris_ and debris

footstalk and foot-stalk

honeycombed and honey-combed

Keyhole and Key-hole

Longworm and Long-worm

zigzag and zig-zag





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