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Title: Peter Parley's Wonders of the earth, sea, and sky
Author: Goodrich, Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Peter Parley's Wonders of the earth, sea, and sky" ***

[Illustration: XVII


                        PETER PARLEY'S WONDERS

                                OF THE

                         EARTH, SEA, AND SKY.

                     EDITED BY THE REV. T. WILSON.

                            A New Edition,



                    DARTON AND CLARK, HOLBORN HILL.

                     Entered at Stationers' Hall.


                  GEORGE BIRKBECK, Esq. M.D., F.G.S.,


                        AS A TRIBUTE OF RESPECT


                        DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE,

                           This Little Work


                      WITH PERMISSION, DEDICATED

                            BY THE EDITOR.


It seems to me that there is something very unreasonable in the plan
of a great many of the books intended to introduce young people to
the various branches of Natural History, which have been recently
published. The chief aim of their authors seems to have been to
combine brevity with comprehensiveness. Brevity is, without doubt, a
great advantage, inasmuch as the proverb is true, that a great book
is a great evil; but in my opinion comprehensiveness ought not to be
attempted in books intended for children. If it were desirable, I
might indeed confidently say, that it can never be obtained within
the necessary limits; and the attempt to effect it, will very often
reduce the work to a mere dry table of classification. However neat and
systematic tables of genera and species, and lists of names may look,
they can never convey to the young the elements of sound scientific
method; and will seldom fail in being useless or disgusting to the
mind, at an age when it is seeking for that sort of knowledge which
will exercise the understanding, without burdening the memory. This
healthy appetite ought to be carefully cultivated; and I am satisfied
that if it were so, from the earliest stage of education, we should
have but few complaints of bad memories. The memory is apt to vanish
from those who would make an idol of it; and I am disposed to think
that its cultivation may very safely be omitted, as a direct object
of education, if due care is taken to keep the understanding active,
and to present the matter on which it is to be engaged in the most
entertaining form possible. In fact, what is often termed "a good
memory," that is, a ready recollection independent of the connections
which are made solely by the understanding, is, as we may see by its
fruits in many persons of feeble intellect, by no means desirable. An
apt example of such a memory is afforded, in what Dame Quickly says
to Sir John Falstaff, when she reminds him of a mixed multitude of
unimportant circumstances, with no other principle of arrangement or
connection, than what was supplied by proximity of time and place.

I would not, however, willingly be supposed to recommend books,
in which systematic arrangement, or the most scrupulous regard to
accurate statement, is overlooked. I had particularly in view that
numerous class of little books, which under various names come out in
series, each volume professing in a manner to comprise _the whole_
of the branch of Natural History which may be the subject of it, by
its containing a mere arrangement of the names of the phenomena which
the branch includes. There is another and widely different class of
books, in which stories from travellers and other idle gossip of the
like kind, are compiled in an undigested mass, without regard to
the different names by which the same thing may be called, and not
unfrequently to a common respect for truth, which is not much less to
be deprecated.

And yet to books of this latter description, often of a very
unworthy character, it is that many of us owe the first calling into
consciousness of that taste which may have made us travellers or
naturalists, or lovers of knowledge. I wish that, without copying the
example of their authors, we should learn a lesson from them, and put
it in practice, by striving to form a taste to enjoy knowledge in them
we have to teach, before we attempt any mode of systematic instruction.

The following little book has been written under the impressions
which I have here stated. I have selected a few of such phenomena
of the Kingdoms of Nature, as seemed to me to have in them most to
excite wonder and admiration; and I have sought to convey distinct
notions with the least possible use of technical language; neither
forgetting the connection of things, nor overloading the statements
with matters that are merely expletive of an arbitrary system. How far
I may have succeeded, is for my little friends, and their instructors,
who have approved of my other books, to decide. Wishing the former as
much pleasure in the reading, as I have had, for their sakes, in the
writing, I take my leave of them.

  P. P.



  Blah.                                                                Page

  Chap. I.    Parley explains how the Strata of the Earth are placed      1

  Chap. II.   What creatures once lived where Dorsetshire now is          5
              The Icthyosaurus                                            6
              The Plesiosaurus                                           14
              The Pterodactyle, &c.                                      17

  Chap. III.   What sort of a place once existed where the neighbourhood
                 of Paris is now, and the animals that lived there       21
               The Palæotherium                                          22
               The Anoplotherium, &c.                                    25
               The Dinotherium                                           26

  Chap. IV.   Of Great Caverns in England and Germany, filled with
                bones of wild animals                                    30
              Dr. Buckland's account of the great cave of Gaylenreuth    31

  Chap. V.    Of other animals that once lived in England and elsewhere
              The Elephant                                               34
              The Gigantic Elk                                           38
              The Megatherium                                            39
              The Beaver                                                 41
              The Dodo                                                   42

  Chap. VI.   Parley describes Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Hot Springs   47
              Earthquake of Calabria                                     49
              Volcanoes                                                  61
              The way in which an Eruption takes place                   63
              Lava Streams                                               65
              Great Lava Streams from Skapta Jokul, in Iceland           69
              Alluvions                                                  70
              The Great Volcano Kirauea, in the island of Hawaii         71
              Of the formation of new islands                            76
              Parley describes his visit to the Geysers of Iceland       78
              The Sulphur Mountains and Sulphur Springs                  87
              How the Geysers may be caused                              89

  Chap. VII.  Of the Rocks called Basaltic                               92
              Parley's visit to Staffa                                   93
              The Giant's Causeway                                      101

  Chap. VIII. Why Parley believes that there is a great source of
                heat within the globe                                   103

  Chap. IX.   Parley tells something about the history of Mount
                Vesuvius                                                111
              The Grotto del Cano                                       112
              Of the death of Pliny, the Naturalist                     115
              Herculaneum and Pompeii                                   124

  Chap. X.    Parley describes the Falls of Niagara                     135


  Chap. I.    Parley tells about the Frozen Ocean                       144
              Icebergs                                                  146
              Parley's dangerous situation on an Iceberg                150

  Chap. II.   The story of a long journey over the ice with some
                Esquimaux                                               152

  Chap. III.  The journey over the ice, continued                       167

  Chap. IV.   The Whale                                                 178
              The mode of catching Whales                               183
              Character of the Whale                                    187

  Chap. V.    A voyage on a Tropical Sea                                190
              Trade Winds and Monsoons                                  191

  Chap. VI.   The Waterspout                                            194
              How Parley supposes Waterspouts to be caused              199

  Chap. VII.  Coral Reefs and Islands                                   203
              Various kinds of Coral                                    204
              The Coral-Making Polypes                                  206
              Forms of the Coral Reefs                                  211
              Parley's first sight of one                               213

  Chap. VIII. Luminous appearance of the sea                            221
              Animals by which it is occasioned, and the Acalepha
                in particular                                           223

  Chap. IX.   The Cuttle Fish                                           231
              The Octopus                                               235

  Chap. X.    The Paper Nautilus, or Argonaut                           239
              How Parley saw one sailing on the sea                     241
              The Pearly Nautilus                                       245
              The Nautilus Spirula                                      248


  Chap. I.    The Colour of the Sky                                     250

  Chap. II.   The Aurora Borealis                                       254

  Chap. III.  Parley tells of some other Meteors
              Parhelia or Mock Suns                                     263
              Ignes Fatui                                               264
              Experiment to show the cause                              266

  Chap. IV.   Shooting Stars                                            267
              What they are                                             269

  Chap. V.    Meteoric Stones, or Aerolites                             273
              How they are caused                                       277

  Chap. VI.   Bloody Rain                                               280
              Red Snow                                                  281
              Showers of Frogs and Fish                                 282

  Chap. VII.  The Spectre of the Brocken                                285

  Chap. VIII. Some other instances of Aerial Reflection
              Souter Fell                                               291
              What a Friend of Parley's saw                             293
              Dover Castle                                              293
              What Humboldt saw                                         294
              What Captain Scoresby saw                                 295
              Apparent distance of Object                               296

  Chap. IX.   Fata Morgana                                              299
              The Mirage                                                299

  Chap. X.    How Parley supposes these appearances to be produced      303
              Refraction                                                305
              Reflection                                                311

              Of some other Wonders, &c.

  Section  I. How we ought to think upon what we know                   314
          II. Ever Part of the Earth a Home for something               316
         III. Birds of Passage, Dormice, and Snails                     318
          IV. The Rein-deer--the Camel                                  322
           V. Benefit of the difference of Climate                      324
          VI. The same Organs in different Animals developed in
                various modes and degrees--the Acalepha, Actinia,
                and Sepia                                               326
         VII. How the Stars and we are connected together--
                Gravitation--Aerolites                                  330
        VIII. Dew                                                       332
          IX. How every thing is endowed with a tendency to preserve
                its own life, and the existence of its race             334
           X. The Bud of the Poppy--long retention of life by seeds
                and roots                                               336
          XI. Of Seeds which are furnished with wings or sails          339
         XII. Conclusion of the conclusion                              340

List of Plates.

   PLATE                                                               Page



    III.   GREAT BONE CAVERN OF GAYLENREUTH                              30

     IV.   GIGANTIC ELK AND MEGATHERIUM                                  38

      V.   VESUVIUS, WITH THE PINE-TREE CLOUD                            64

     VI.   VESUVIUS IN ERUPTION AT NIGHT                                 66

    VII.   THE GEYSERS OF ICELAND                                        78

   VIII.   ISLAND OF STAFFA                                              93

     IX.   FINGAL'S CAVE                                                 97

      X.   FORUM OF POMPEII                                             131

     XI.   GREAT FALL OF NIAGARA                                        135

    XII.   ESCAPE ON THE ICE                                            157

   XIII.   THE WATER-SPOUT                                              194

    XIV.   ACTINIÆ--CORAL BUILDERS                                      206

     XV.   SEPIAS                                                       231

    XVI.   NAUTILUS                                                     239


  XVIII.   SPECTRE OF THE BROCKEN                                       285

    XIX.   DOVER CASTLE                                                 293

     XX.   FATA MORGANA                                                 299

                         WONDERS OF THE EARTH,

                             SEA, AND SKY.

                                PART I.

                         WONDERS OF THE EARTH.



I am now going to tell you, my young friends, about some of the
wonderful things in the earth, sea, and sky. A great number of them I
have seen myself in my travels through various countries, and others I
have only read of; but I shall tell you nothing that is not strictly
true, for I do not wish so much to astonish you as to make you take
pleasure in contemplating the works of God, and to increase your
knowledge of His goodness, wisdom, and power.

I shall begin with some of the wonders of the earth which, as I suppose
you know, belong to the branch of natural history which is called
geology; and to enable you to understand what follows, I must first
explain how the materials which compose the ground you tread upon are

If you hastily travel over any extensive tract of country, such as that
between New York and Philadelphia, or between London and Bristol, you
might think that all the different substances, clay, chalk, limestone,
and granite, were irregularly mixed together. This is, however, not
the case, when taken on a great scale; for if you more carefully
examine, you will find that the various sorts of earth are disposed in
layers, or _strata_, and that a uniform order of arrangement is nearly

If these layers were perfectly horizontal, laid one over another like
the coats of an onion, we should have to dig through one before we
could get to the second, and our knowledge of what the globe consists,
would be much more limited than it is; for the greatest depth to which
men have descended in the deepest mines, is not much greater than the
thickness of one of the strata.

But, instead of this, the surface is broken up by some force from
beneath elevating portions, so as to form mountains and hills; and in
consequence of this the edges of the strata appear on the surface one
after another; just as you would see the edges of a row of bricks that
had been set up on their ends, and then the last one thrown down so as
to push down all the others.


This is the way in which the strata are placed in the neighbourhood of


The chief reason why I wished you to understand this is, that you
may see how it is known that one stratum is older than another. It
is evident that the substance marked _a_, in the section, which
is limestone, must have been deposited before _b_, while _b_ must
certainly be older than _c_.

Now in most of the strata above the granite, which is nearly always in
the position of the oldest formation, there are found various shells,
plants, and bones of animals; and where certain remains of different
animals or vegetables are found in one stratum, it is concluded that
they must have been living about the same time.

Most of the animals of the older strata were different in form from any
at present known to exist; and some of them are very remarkable, and if
they were alive now, would seem to us very strange and awkward.

[Illustration: PLATE I




I will show you a picture of what creatures were once living where the
town of Lyme Regis, in Dorsetshire, now stands, and tell you something
about their structure and their habits. You may perhaps be ready to
think that a great deal of what we profess to know concerning them,
is the work of fancy, but I can assure you it is not, and by and by I
will endeavour to convince you that there is reason enough for you to
believe what I tell you.


That large animal lying on the ground, is called the _Icthyosaurus_,
from two Greek words signifying _Fish-Lizard_, in consequence of his
possessing some of the peculiarities of both fishes and lizards.

The usual length of this creature was from twenty to thirty feet. It
possessed a most surprising combination of the powers and qualities of
different animals which are now in existence. In its general form and
character it must have been something like the modern porpoise; but it
had the teeth of a crocodile, the head of a lizard, the back-bone of a
fish, and the fins or _paddles_, of a whale.

I shall spend some little time in explaining to you each of these
particulars, that you may see how wisely all the parts of living things
are framed to supply their wants, and adapt them to the circumstances
in which they are placed.

The head was not very different from that of a crocodile, or lizard, in
its general shape. The teeth were precisely like those of a crocodile,
and grew up in the same manner. Creatures of this sort lead a ruffian
sort of life, always biting something or other, and as they live very
much in the dark at the bottom of the water, perhaps now and then snap
at a stone or a piece of hard wood by mistake, and often break their
teeth; and in order therefore to keep them in constant repair, they
have a fresh set once a year, or at very short intervals, so that they
are always growing. The young tooth _a_, springs up inside the old one
_b_, till it becomes so large that it splits its predecessor, and the
pieces fall off, just as the covering of some sorts of buds falls off
as the flower expands, as you will see in this cut, representing one of
the fossil teeth.


You must have noticed in the picture the great length of his snout.
In a jaw-bone of such amazing length which was to be applied to such
violent purposes, it was necessary there should be great strength.
There were two ways of obtaining this: one would have been by having
the bones very hard and stout; but this would not do, because they
would then have been so heavy that the animal would have found
difficulty in raising his head to the surface of the water for the
purpose of breathing, since it would have overbalanced the other part
of his body. The other contrivance, which was the one adopted by the
wisdom of the Creator, was to make the jaws consist of several thin
bones, _a_, _b_, _c_, _d_, strongly bound together, and terminating in
succession like the plates of steel of which a carriage spring is made.
There are accordingly six of these bones thus disposed.


But this was not all, the principal middle bone marked _b_, instead
of having its fibres run straight, parallel with the others, had them
placed in a slanting position, and thus there was additional firmness
given to the jaw by what ship-builders would call _diagonal bracing_, a
contrivance that you may often see used in the construction of houses
and ships.

If you have ever seen a crocodile open its mouth, and then snap
together its long thin jaws, so as to make you start with the noise,
you will see how necessary all these contrivances must be for him and
the Icthyosaurus, whose jaws were still thinner, to prevent them from
breaking their bones.

This however is not at all more wonderful than the eye, which in the
old-fashioned animal I have been describing, was much larger than that
of the crocodile, and not unfrequently bigger than a man's head. From
the very great quantity of light which such a large surface would
receive, the creature's power of seeing must have been very great. And
besides this advantage, it had the same faculty as is possessed by the
golden eagle, the turtle, the tortoise, and the lizard, of pressing the
eye forward to render it more convex. In man and most animals, the eye
is placed in a fixed cavity of thin bone, something like an egg-cup,
but in the Icthyosaurus, the cavity was formed by several bones not
quite touching each other; (as you may see in the last cut, and in
figure 2, you have two of the bones by themselves, taken out of the
socket of the eye;) and there were muscles to draw these bones closer
together; so that by making the cup less deep, the eye was thrust
forward and made to swell out in the middle. This is illustrated in
the ball _b_, which is pressed outwards, by drawing the plates of bone
_cc_, together at _o_, close than those which have the ball _a_ between


You must have seen that the more convex magnifying glasses are, the
more they magnify, and the nearer you must hold them to the object you
are looking at. By this contrivance, the eye of the Icthyosaurus could
be made at pleasure into a microscope, so as to see with wonderful
quickness things which were quite close to it, by pushing it forward
and rendering it more convex; or it could be made into a telescope like
the eyes of some persons who are long-sighted, for seeing what is at a
greater distance, by drawing it back.

In all these particulars you may see how the skill of man leads him
to adopt the same plans to produce the same ends in the works of
art, as God has adopted before him in the works of nature, without
his being conscious of copying them; and this should remind you that
man was created in the image of his Maker. If man had never made a
carriage-spring, or a diagonal bracing, he would not have understood
the structure of the jaw of the Icthyosaurus; and if he had never
invented the telescope, he would not have been able to explain the
construction of the eye.

You have now seen the points in which the Icthyo-saurus chiefly
resembled a crocodile or lizard; from which the latter half of its name
is derived, _saurus_, _a lizard_. I must now tell you something of
those parts in which it is like a fish, from which it takes the other
part of its name, _icthy_, for _icthus_, a fish.

You know that crocodiles live a good part of their time on land, and
they therefore have feet and a back-bone like land animals, which
enable them to walk better, but do not allow them to swim so well as
fish. The back-bone is heavy and firm, and each of the bones composing
it has one side slightly hollow, and the other side swelling out to
fit into the hollow in the one that comes next to it. But in fish both
sides of the bones are hollow, and they are joined together by gristle,
as you can easily see in the fish that are commonly eaten; this renders
the back-bone much more flexible and lighter, and therefore better
adapted for an animal always swimming. That of the Icthyosaurus was
formed in the same manner, and we therefore judge that he spent his
whole life in the water; for a back-bone so formed, would not have been
able to support such a great heavy body when walking on the land.

The fins, or paddles, were very curious, and much like those of the
whale; they consisted of above a hundred small bones strongly united
together, in a sort of pavement enclosed in a strong skin, and not
divided into toes, as you may observe in this representation of the
entire skeleton.


You may see many specimens of the skeleton itself in the British

The Icthyosaurus was a great tyrant, and used to prey on every creature
that came within his reach; this is known by the fossil remains
found in the inside of his body. He used at times even to act the
cannibal, and eat his own relations, for a large one has been dug out
of the cliff at Lyme Regis, with part of a small one in his stomach
undigested; he must have been altogether a very unamiable character.
But as his family has been so long extinct, and we are told that we
ought to say nothing but what is good concerning the dead, I shall not
say any more about him, leaving you to form your own conclusions from
what I have related to you.


Those still more strange looking animals with very long necks, which
are represented swimming in the water, have been named _Plesiosauri_, a
word signifying, _related to_, or _closely resembling_, a lizard. There
are some nearly perfect specimens in the British Museum, and this is a
representation made up by taking the uninjured parts of several, so as
to make up a perfect whole.


Taking it altogether, there is not one of the fossil animals so much
unlike anything at present known to exist. Its usual length was from 9
to 15 feet, but it was at times very much larger.

The head was much shorter in proportion than that of the Icthyosaurus,
being more like that of the guana, the lizard which people eat in the
West Indies. The neck must have been longer than that of any living
animal, not even excepting the swan; it contained thirty-three bones,
or _vertebræ_, while the whole of the rest of the back-bone in the body
and tail, contained only fifty-seven.

The faces of these vertebræ were nearly flat, and not hollow like those
of the Icthyosaurus, which would better enable the animal to exist on
land, and it appears to have moved about in the same manner as seals
do. From some very ingenious observations on certain parts of its
anatomy, (which if I were to endeavour to explain to you, you would not
understand, unless you possessed a great deal of anatomical knowledge,)
naturalists have supposed that it used to change the colour of its skin
like the chameleon. Its paddles were almost exactly like those of the
turtle, and its body was something of the same shape, but not quite so

From its long neck, which, although it was strengthened by the solid
joints and peculiar shapes of the bones, was not very strong, and
its small head and jaws, the Plesiosaurus could not have been near a
match for its neighbour, the Icthyosaurus, in combat, even when the
individuals were of the same size; neither would its form adapt it for
cutting through the water so quickly. It must, therefore, no doubt,
have often fallen a prey to that voracious monster. Perhaps, however,
it often played him a trick when he was pursuing it by running on shore
out of his reach; or it might mostly have kept out of his way in very
shallow water amongst the rushes and reeds, where it could every now
and then dart its long neck like a swan, down at the little fish that
came near it; or else suddenly reaching aloft into the air, it may have
seized upon some unlucky insect, or Pterodactyle, (a sort of bat of
which I shall presently speak) and then laid down as quiet under the
rushes as if nothing had happened, waiting for its next mouthful.


That odd-looking creature which is flying in the air over the heads of
the Plesiosauri, has been called the Pterodactyle, which signifies
_wing-fingered_. There were several varieties, of different sizes and
figures, from that of a snipe to that of a raven. The most remarkable
of them was indeed a curious creature, and so you will say if you look
at the picture of his skeleton.


He was more like a bat in his general shape and habits, than anything
else we know of, but was very different in a great many respects.

He had a head like a lizard, with a long snout and sharp teeth; his
ribs were round and thread-like, not flat like those of birds and bats;
his eyes were large; and his wings like a bat's, being a membrane or
skin, stretched out by one very long toe on each of his fore-feet. In
order to support his long head, there were strong cords running down
each side of the vertebræ of his neck, such as are found in some modern
birds, as is known by the forms of the bones to which the ends of them
were attached. His toes ended in sharp claws, and he had also claws at
his two principal joints, so that he could catch hold of the branches
of trees with them, as bats do. These creatures used principally to
feed upon large dragon flies, beetles, and the other insects, of which
the remains are found, and some of which are represented in the picture.

There were also living at the same time with these creatures, several
kinds of tortoises, and fish in immense varieties. The whole district
where the south coast of England now is, seems to have then been a
marsh with no vegetation but sea-weeds, reeds, and the like; and its
only inhabitants were, fish, reptiles, and insects.

After the races of animals which we have mentioned, became extinct,
a period followed in which they were succeeded by some monstrous
creatures, like lizards in all respects, except that they were fitted
to live in the water by the construction of their back-bone, their
having lungs of the same kind as those of fishes, and the possession of
fins. One of these, called the Iguanodon, was sometimes seventy feet
long. It had a little horn near the end of its snout, placed something
like the horn of a rhinoceros, and must have borne considerable
resemblance in its general form to the guana, which I mentioned before.
Their bones and teeth, are found at Lewes, in Sussex, and in the Isle
of Wight, where you may pick them up on the shore, as you can the bones
of Icthyosauri and Plesiosauri, at Lyme Regis, though not in such great

We are indebted for a great deal of what I have told you about the
animals that once lived where Dorsetshire is now, to a lady, Miss
Anning, who spends nearly her whole time in collecting fossils out of
the cliffs. No one ought to go near Lyme Regis without visiting her

[Illustration: PLATE II.




I shall show you a picture representing a state of things much more
like the present, than the one we looked at before. It existed at a
later period, though still a great many years ago; and if you wish to
know why we conclude it to be later, since it is the other side of
the water and we are therefore prevented from distinctly tracing the
succession of the strata, I will tell you.

After leaving the formations of Dorsetshire, in which the great
_saurian_ or lizard-like reptiles are found, we come to chalk in
Hampshire and the Isle of Wight; and after the chalk, to some beds of
clay, and then some beds of limestone. The formations above the chalk,
are those called _tertiary_; those from the chalk down to the lowest
containing animal and vegetable remains, are the _secondary_; and all
below that, consisting mainly of various sorts of granite, are the

Now all this occurs in the same order in France, and the neighbourhood
of Paris consisting of tertiary formations, just corresponds with
the tertiary strata of the Isle of Wight, and them we know to be
more recent than the secondary formations of Dorsetshire. Of course,
therefore, the animals found at Paris, must be more recent than those
found at Lyme Regis.

The largest of the animals represented in the plate, is called the

The following is a picture of his skeleton, as it has been made out,
bone by bone. A single tooth was first discovered, and the French
naturalist, Cuvier, was able to determine from this alone, a great many
particulars which have now been proved by the subsequent discovery
of the bones; such was the knowledge he had acquired by comparing
the bones of different animals. He thus discovered that a certain
shape of tooth always accompanied a certain shape of foot, as well as
indicated what kind of food the animal lived upon. From this might be
judged a great deal about the organs of digestion, and the internal
structure, and something of its habits and disposition. In all these
points and several others, Cuvier predicted from a single bone of the
Palæotherium, what has been exactly confirmed by the entire skeleton.


It was about the size of a small horse, and must have possessed a
little trunk, or proboscis, like the modern Tapir, to which indeed it
must have borne a great resemblance.

[Illustration: American Tapir.]

The reason for thinking that it had a trunk, is because there is a
peculiar contrivance in the bones to give strength to the neck, which
only exists in animals that have a proboscis. There are some Tapirs in
the Zoological Gardens, and if you have seen them, you will be able to
form a pretty good notion of what the Palæotherium must have been. It
had perhaps rather more of the hog about it, than the Tapir has, with a
more dull heavy expression of countenance.

There were three varieties of Palæotherium distinguished by their size.
The smallest was not much larger than a little dog, and you may see the
figure of one of them in the picture, going down to the water to drink.

The more slender animal, which is walking towards the water, is the
Anoplotherium, or un-armed beast. Its size varied from that of a hare,
to that of a large dog; it had a very thick tail like that of the
Kangaroo. Everything about it would lead one to suppose that it was a
timid creature, whose swiftness and agility would protect it against
stronger animals; not unlike in disposition to the antelope, or the
hare of our times.

Another animal was living at the same period, which I must describe
to you, as it was, as far as we know, the largest quadruped that ever
lived upon the earth, and in some respects the most remarkable. It was
called the Dinotherium, or _terrible wild beast_, and you will soon
know how well it deserved this name. The individual of which a part of
the head is now in the British Museum, must have been eighteen feet
long in the body, and proportionally large! If you compare this size
with that of the largest elephant you have ever seen, you will be able
to form some notion of his enormous magnitude.

In his general form he somewhat resembled the Tapirs, but by no means
so nearly as did the Palæotherium. He had a much longer trunk; and his
shoulder blade is formed like that of the mole, by which we know that
he must have used his feet in digging. It seems almost certain that
he was amphibious: and the back part of his skull has a remarkable
similarity to that of the whale, and cetaceous fishes in general.
But the most striking peculiarity in the bones which remain of this
monster, is the existence of two large tusks bending down from the
lower jaw, like two hooks, as you may see represented in this cut, of
the head preserved in the Museum. His legs were probably rather short,
and might have borne nearly the same proportion to his body, as those
of the Hippopotamus do to his. From all we can collect, this must have
been his general form and appearance.



There can be but little doubt that he was of a savage disposition and
lead a sulky sort of life divided between the water and the land, like
the Hippopotamus. His great tusks must have rendered him a formidable
enemy; but as we know that he was a digging animal, it is very likely
that he more frequently used them as a sort of pickaxe, to grub up
such roots as he wanted to eat, for he lived wholly upon vegetables.
He might also have employed them (as Dr. Buckland has conjectured), to
stick into the banks of rivers to support his head above water, and to
anchor himself so as not to be carried down by the stream, while his
huge body lay in his favourite element: or it does not seem unlikely
that he might at times have hooked them on to the lower boughs of
trees, to sustain himself while he plucked down from above the fruit
and foliage with his trunk.

His bones have been found in various parts of France, Germany and

When these animals were living, the climate must have been very
much warmer than it is at present in France, for their bones are
found associated with palm trees, and other vegetable remains of hot
climates, and the bones of crocodiles, tortoises, and other creatures
which only live in warm regions. The isle of Sheppey consists chiefly
of land which was deposited about the same time, and it contains
a great quantity of fossil coffee, and similar plants at present
restricted to the East and West Indies, and countries near the equator.




In several parts of England there are great caverns in limestone and
other rocks, which contain an immense quantity of the bones of such
animals as are now found only in wild countries with warm climates.
One of the most celebrated of these caves, is that of Kirkdale, in
Yorkshire. Of the bones which most of them contain, three-fourths and
upwards belong to bears, of a sort no longer to be found in the living
state. One-half, or perhaps two-thirds, of the remaining fourth, have
been traced to a species of hyæna, which is also unknown at the present
day. A smaller number may be referred to a sort of tiger or lion, and
to some species of the wolf or dog family. The smallest specimens are
of various small flesh-eating animals, such as the fox, the polecat,
and other kindred species. There are also in some of them bones of the
Elephant, Rhinoceros, and Hippopotamus.

[Illustration: PLATE III.


But the largest and most remarkable of these caves, is at Gaylenreuth,
in Germany, of which the picture represents a section. You will
understand this representation, if you read the following account of it
by Dr. Buckland, the Professor of Geology, in the University of Oxford.

"The first grotto turns to the right, and is upwards of 80 feet long.
It is divided into four parts by the unequal heights of the vaulted
roof; the first three are from 15 to 20 feet high; whereas, the fourth
is only from 4 to 5. On the bottom of this part, and on a level with
the floor, there is an orifice only two feet high, which leads into
the second grotto. This runs first southward for 60 feet, being 40
wide and 18 high; it then turns to the west through a space of 70 feet,
becoming gradually lower till its altitude is only 5 feet. The passage
to the third grotto is very incommodious, winding through several
corridors. It is thirty feet wide, and only five or six high. The loam
of the floor is stuffed full of teeth and jaw-bones. Near the entrance
to it, is a gulf of 15 or 20 feet, into which visitors descend by a
ladder. After going down, they arrive at a vault 15 feet diameter by
30 feet in height; and on the side on which they descend, is a grotto
all bestrewed with bones. By going down a little further still, they
fall in with a new arcade which conducts to a grotto 40 feet long, and
a new gulf 18 or 20 feet deep. Even after this descent, another cavern
presents itself 40 feet high, quite covered with bones. A passage now
of 5 feet by 7 leads to a grotto 25 feet long and 12 wide; then alleys,
20 feet long, conduct into another cave 20 feet high; and finally,
a grand grotto expands, 83 feet in width, and 24 in height, more
copiously furnished with bones than any of the rest. The sixth and
last grotto runs in a northerly direction, so that the whole series of
caverns and corridors, describes nearly a semicircle.

"A rift in the third grotto, disclosed in 1784, a new grotto, 15 feet
long by 4 wide, where the greatest number of hyænas' and lions' bones
were found. The opening was much too narrow to have allowed these
animals to have entered by it. A peculiar tunnel which terminated in
this small grotto, afforded an incredible number of bones, and large
skulls quite entire."

It is supposed that these caves were inhabited by the fierce animals
whose bones they contain, and that the other more peaceable creatures
were dragged in by them for prey, since their bones have evidently been
gnawed and crushed as they would be by fierce and powerful carnivorous




I have before mentioned to you the bones of Elephants, as occurring in
the bone caverns; they were, however, not just like the Elephants now
living in Africa and Asia. The tusks seem to have been larger, and the
head not quite so broad and blunt; the teeth were also different.

There are not perhaps many counties in England in which some of these
remains have not been found, and generally not far below the surface of
the soil. About London, and at Woolwich in particular, a great many
specimens of the fossil tusks have been collected; they are chiefly of
about the consistency of chalk, but if you break them across and look
at the end, you can see the grain of the ivory, just as you do on a
billiard-ball, or at the end of a knife-handle.

Before anatomy was understood so well as it is at present, the bones of
the Elephant, and those of several other large extinct animals, were
confounded together under the name of Mammoth. There is a remarkable
account of the discovery of what was at the time called a Mammoth, (but
which was, doubtless, an Elephant,) imbedded in ice in Siberia, which
I shall relate to you, as it is very well written and of undoubted

"In the year 1799, a Tungusian fisherman observed a strange shapeless
mass projecting from an ice-bank, near the mouth of a river in the
north of Siberia, the nature of which he did not understand, and which
was so high in the bank as to be beyond his reach. He next year
observed the same object, which was then rather more disengaged from
among the ice; but was still unable to conceive what it was. Towards
the end of the following summer, 1801, he could distinctly see that
it was the frozen carcass of an enormous animal, the entire flank of
which, and one of its tusks, had become disengaged from the ice. In
consequence of the ice beginning to melt earlier, and to a greater
degree than usual, in 1803, the fifth year of this discovery, the
enormous carcass became entirely disengaged, and fell down from the
ice-crag on a sand-bank, forming part of the coast of the Arctic Ocean.
In the month of March of that year, the Tungusian carried away the two
tusks, which he sold for fifty rubles, about fifteen pounds sterling.

"Two years afterwards this animal still remained on the sand-bank where
it had fallen from the ice; but its body was then greatly mutilated.
The peasants had taken away considerable quantities of its flesh
to feed their dogs; and the wild animals, particularly the white
bears, had also feasted on the carcass; yet the skeleton remained
quite entire, except that one of the fore-legs was gone. The entire
spine, the pelvis, one shoulder-blade, and three legs, were still
held together by their ligaments, and by some remains of the skin;
and the other shoulder-blade was found at a short distance. The head
remained, covered by the dried skin, and the pupil of the eyes was
still distinguishable. The brain also remained within the skull, but
a good deal shrunk and dried up; and one of the ears was in excellent
preservation, still retaining a tuft of strong bristly hair. The upper
lip was a good deal eaten away, and the under lip was entirely gone, so
that the teeth were distinctly seen. The animal had a long mane on its

"The skin was extremely thick and heavy, and so much of it remained
as required the exertions of ten men to carry away, which they did
with considerable difficulty. More than thirty pounds' weight of the
hair and bristles of this animal were gathered from the wet sand-bank,
having been trampled into the mud by the white bears, while devouring
the carcass. The hair was of three distinct kinds; one consisting of
stiff black bristles, a foot or more in length; another of thinner
bristles, or coarse flexible hair, of a reddish-brown colour; and the
third of a coarse reddish-brown wool, which grew among the roots of the
hair. These afford an undeniable proof that this animal had belonged
to a race of elephants inhabiting a cold region, with which we are now
unacquainted, and by no means fitted to live in the torrid zone. It is
also evident that this enormous animal must have been frozen up by the
ice at the moment of its death."


There are frequently found in the peat bogs of England and Ireland, the
bones and horns of a large Elk, called the gigantic Elk, and sometimes
the Irish Elk.

[Illustration: PLATE IV.


Here is a picture of him; and you may judge how well he was entitled to
his name, when I tell you that some pairs of his horns have been found,
which measured nearly twelve feet across from tip to tip. He must
have been considerably larger than the Wapiti Deer in the Zoological
Gardens, and of quite a different form.

It is not known when these creatures became extinct; but it is probable
that it may have been since Britain has been inhabited by man.


The bones of this great beast were first found at Buenos Ayres in South
America, and a skeleton nearly complete was sent home from thence by
the Governor to the Royal Cabinet of Madrid, in 1789. They were found
in loose soil, and must apparently have belonged to nearly the same age
as the Fossil Elephant and Irish Elk.

The head must have been very much like that of the sloth, but it seems
to have possessed the addition of a small trunk like the Palæotherium I
told you of just now. The structure of its legs (and in particular its
very strong short thigh-bone, which is much stouter than that of any
animal living,) shows that it must have moved very slowly.

Its teeth show that it lived on vegetables, and the great ungainly
fore-feet, armed with tremendous claws, would lead one to suppose that
it used to dig in the ground for roots, and tear down the branches of

It appears to have been covered with a thick shell or coating, thicker
than the hide of a rhinoceros, and rather resembling the covering of
the armadillo. I have seen a piece of this wonderful coat of armour in
the Museum at Paris, which was found along with the skeleton in South

If one might decide from its likeness to other animals in its various
parts, it was a sulky beast, and, if it could have spoken, would only
have said to its neighbours, "Let me alone--I want nothing of you, if
you want nothing of me."

Its length was full 13 feet, and its height about 9 feet; so you may
suppose armed, and defended as it was, there was not much chance of
other animals being disposed to meddle with it, for it must have been
big enough and strong enough to take good care of itself, though it
could not run very fast.


You will, perhaps, be surprised to hear that Beavers once lived in
England; but it is known from history, that they were found in Wales
as late as the twelfth century. I have got the bones of some, that
were given me by a countryman, who picked them out of a peat bog in
Hampshire, without knowing what they were. They were buried close by
some hazel nuts, and some moss that had not lost its colour, and was
in no degree decayed; such is the great power possessed by certain
minerals that exist in these peat bogs, to preserve things from decay,
even during a period which could hardly be less than a thousand years.

It is related, that the foot of a lady, which seemed quite fresh,
was found in peat, where it had lain in contact with some of these
substances, with a sandal of a kind that must have been worn many
hundreds of years ago. And though I will not assert that it is true,
yet I will say, that it is very likely to be so, from what I have seen
myself, in regard to nuts, and moss, and various weeds.


When the Dutch in the 16th century, took possession of the Isle of
France, now called Mauritius, which up to that time had not been
inhabited by man, they found a large bird something of the Duck kind,
of which they sent home specimens and representations. They called it
the Dodo, but why, I cannot tell you.

The race has now become extinct, so that many naturalists have declared
that it never existed, and that the account of it was naughtily
invented, and sent home for the gratification and delusion of

   "Those who greedily pursue
    Things wonderful instead of true."

But there is not the least doubt of its being a fact, for in the Museum
in London there is a painting said to have been taken from the living
bird; there is also a leg and a plaster cast of the head placed near
the painting, which naturalists have determined could not have belonged
to any other animal known, from their peculiar construction; there is
also another foot and the head from which the cast was taken, preserved
in the Museum of the University of Oxford, being the remains of an
entire specimen which was kept in the collection of curiosities made
by Elias Ashmole, Esq. till it rotted. This is representation of these
two valuable relics.


The account of the removal of the bones was entered in the records of
the University, and the date is the 1st January, 1755.

More recently some of the bones have been found in the Mauritius, and
have been sent to Paris, where I have heard they may be seen now.

It seems to have been the most unwieldy and inactive bird in existence,
and to have held nearly the same kind of place among feathered animals
as the sloth does among beasts. The body was very massive, and almost
round, and seemed to be stuck upon two short thick legs like pillars.
The tail was strangely out of its place, according to the usual form
of birds; and two little caricatures of wings were hung upon its great
blank sides. A thick pursy neck supported the head, which consisted
of two enormous chaps that opened far behind the eyes. You will best
understand the form of the bill by looking at the cut copied from the
painting which I mentioned before, and you may there see how like a
monk's cowl the feathers of his head looked.


Some of the Dutch who met with this bird in its own country called
it the nauseous bird, and declared that its flesh was intolerably
disagreeable to the taste; while others asserted that it was very good
eating, and that about three Dodos would feast a hundred men. But
whatever may have been the quality of the flesh, I do not believe what
the latter said of its quantity, for the head and leg which I have
seen, and which appear to have belonged to a full grown bird, are not
very much larger than those of a swan.

However this is now a question which of course will never be certainly
decided, as there are no more of them to be eaten. It appears that,
like the beavers and wolves in England, the progress of man and
cultivation deprived them of their sources of sustenance.

If we may judge of what his character was, from his appearance, he
must have been a silly, voracious creature, with hardly any power of
resistance or flight. However, like all the rest of God's works, he was
no doubt adapted for the circumstances in which he was placed, and had
enough means of enjoyment, to make it well worth his while to live as
long as he could.



You have no doubt often heard of Volcanoes and Earthquakes, for almost
everybody in all ages has felt a deep interest in them, and a curiosity
to know what they are caused by. If you will listen to me, while I
merely describe them as they really exist, without "drawing the long
bow," as people say, I will then tell you how I think they are produced.

It is quite certain that there is an important connexion between
Volcanoes and Earthquakes; and we may safely take this for granted, and
at once call the cause of both, whatever it may be, _volcanic agency_.

It has been discovered by extensive observations, that this agency
does not exert itself in individual spots, so as to produce here a
Volcano and there an Earthquake; but its operations take place over
long tracts of country in which the Volcanoes are placed, and, in the
spaces between them, Earthquakes are more or less frequent.

These tracts are called Volcanic bands; one of them extends nearly
parallel with the West Coast of South America, along the chain of
mountains called the Andes, which you will see marked on the map; and
another much smaller extends from Mount Vesuvius to Mount Etna, with
the Volcanic Island Stromboli, and several extinct Volcanoes lying
between them, and then turns to the East, through several of the Greek
Islands, and passes on to Syria, where Earthquakes are frequent.

Earthquakes in their simplest form are nothing more than violent
shakings of the ground; but sometimes the earth is split open;
sometimes it is raised; and sometimes it is depressed.

I shall tell you of some of the changes which took place in the great
Earthquake of Calabria, which lies in the smaller volcanic band I
mentioned to you between Vesuvius and Etna.


The shocks began in 1783, and lasted for nearly four years, till the
end of 1786. During this time the King of Naples sent persons to take
correct notes and representations of all that was going on, and we
have therefore got a better account of it than we have of any other
Earthquake that ever occurred.

The convulsion of the earth, sea, and air, extended as far as Naples,
and over the whole of Sicily; but the district over which it was so
violent as to excite intense alarm, was about five hundred miles in

"The first shock of February 5th, 1783, threw down, in two minutes,
the greater part of the houses in all the cities, towns, and villages,
from the western sides of the Apennines in Calabria Ultra, to Messina
in Sicily, and convulsed the whole surface of the country. Another
occurred on the 28th of March, with almost equal violence. The chain of
granite mountains which passes through Calabria from north to south,
and attains the height of many thousand feet, was shaken but slightly;
but it is said that a great part of the shocks which were spread with
a wave-like motion through the recent strata from west to east, became
very violent when they reached the point of junction with the granite,
as if a reaction was produced where the wave-like movement of the soft
strata was suddenly arrested by the more solid rocks. The surface of
the country often heaved like the billows of a swelling sea, which
produced a swimming in the head like sea-sickness. It is particularly
stated, in almost all the accounts, that just before each shock the
clouds appeared motionless; and although no explanation is offered of
this phenomenon, it is obviously the same as that observed in a ship
at sea when it pitches violently. The clouds seem arrested in their
career as often as the vessel rises in a direction contrary to their
course; so that the Calabrians must have experienced precisely the same
motion on the land."

At Messina in Sicily, the shore was rent; and the soil along the port,
which before the shock was perfectly level, was inclined towards the
sea, and the sea itself was considerably deeper, which showed that the
inclination must have been occasioned by the bottom's sinking. The quay
also sunk down 14 inches below the level of the sea, and the houses in
the neighbourhood were much cracked.

In one town there was a large round tower of great strength, which was
divided by a perpendicular rent, and one-half was raised up several
feet, so as to show the foundations. Those who saw it, said that it
looked like a great tooth half extracted, showing the fangs. Along the
line of the crack, the walls were found to fit so exactly together,
that you would not have known they had even been divided if the courses
of the stones had not been disturbed.


There was a very curious difference between some of the walls which
had been thrown down, or very much shaken by some of the shocks. In
some of them, the separate stones were parted from the mortar, so as to
leave an exact mould where they had rested; and in others, the mortar
was ground to dust between the stones. It was not less strange to see
the effect of what must have been whirling movements in the ground.
In some streets, one house would be thrown down, and leave the rest
uninjured; while in others, all the houses but one were thrown down,
and that one remained firm and unmoved. Two obelisks were twisted
round, so that the stones of which they were composed, stood at cross
purposes. This cut represents one of the two, as it stood after the
earthquake, and before.


"It appears evident that a great part of the rending and splitting of
the ground was the effect of a violent motion from below upwards; and
in a multitude of cases where the rents and chasms opened and closed
alternately, we must suppose that the earth was by turns heaved up,
and then let fall again. We may conceive the same effect to be produced
on a small scale, if, by some mechanical force, a pavement composed
of large flags of stone should be raised up and then allowed to fall
suddenly, so as to resume its original position. If any small pebbles
happened to be lying on the line of contact of two flags, they would
fall into the opening when the pavement rose, and be swallowed up, so
that no trace of them would appear after the subsidence of the stones.
In the same manner, when the earth was upheaved, large houses, trees,
cattle, and men were engulfed in an instant in chasms and fissures; and
when the ground sunk down again, the earth closed upon them, so that
no vestige of them was discoverable on the surface. In many instances
individuals were swallowed up by one shock, and then thrown out alive,
together with large jets of water, by the shock which immediately

The district called Jerocarne, was torn in a surprising manner, and in
one spot the cracks resembled those in a starred pane of glass; and as
these cracks remained open when the earthquake was over, it seemed as
if the middle had been permanently lifted up.


"In the vicinity of Oppido, the central point from which the earthquake
diffused its violent movements, many houses were swallowed up by the
yawning earth, which closed immediately over them. In the adjacent
district also of Cannamaria, four farm-houses, several oil-stores,
and some spacious dwelling-houses were so completely engulphed in one
chasm, that no vestige of them was afterwards discernible."

Amongst the many fissures that were opened, there was one, a mile long,
a hundred feet wide, and thirty feet deep; and another, three quarters
of a mile long, one hundred and fifty feet wide, and one hundred feet
deep; and a third, about a quarter of a mile long, which was two
hundred and twenty-five feet deep.

A mountain was cleft completely in two; and a lake of considerable size
was formed by the opening of this great chasm, and springs bursting
out at the bottom. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood were afraid
that the pool of nearly stagnant water which was thus formed would
injure their health, and were at great expense in trying to drain it;
but it was all in vain, for the springs that fed it at the bottom were

A great mass of earth, or hill, two hundred feet high, and four hundred
feet in diameter, was moved nearly four miles out of its place, with
trees growing upon it; and another similar mass, with a house on it,
which was not at all injured. Some olive and mulberry trees travelled
a full mile. These great movements were aided by springs under the
masses of earth, which made a slimy sort of road for them; and, of
course, the whole distance was down hill.

"Great agitation was frequently observed in the bed of the sea during
the shocks, and, on those parts of the coast where the movement was
most violent, all kinds of fish were taken in greater abundance, and
with much greater facility. Some rare species, which usually lie buried
in the sand, were taken on the surface of the waters in great quantity.
The sea is said to have boiled up near Messina, and to have been
agitated as if by a copious discharge of vapours from its bottom. The
Prince of Scilla had persuaded a great part of his vassals to betake
themselves to their fishing-boats for safety, and he himself had gone
on board. On the night of the 5th of February, when some of the people
were sleeping in the boats, and others on a level plain, slightly
elevated above the sea, the earth rocked, and suddenly a great mass
was torn from the contiguous Mount Jaci, and thrown down with a
dreadful crash upon the plain. Immediately afterwards, the sea rising
thirty palms above the level of this low tract, rolled foaming over it,
and swept away the multitude. It then retreated, but soon rushed back
again with greater violence, bringing with it some of the people and
animals it had carried away. At the same time every boat was sunk or
dashed against the beach, and some of them were swept far inland. The
aged Prince, with one thousand four hundred and thirty of his people,
was destroyed. The number of persons who perished during the earthquake
is estimated at about forty thousand, and about twenty thousand more
died by diseases which were caused by insufficient nourishment,
exposure to the atmosphere, and malaria, arising from the new stagnant
lakes and pools. By far the greater number were buried under the ruins
of their houses; while some were burnt to death in the conflagrations
which almost invariably followed the shocks, and consumed immense
magazines of oil and other provisions. A small number were engulfed
in chasms and fissures, and their skeletons are perhaps buried in the
earth to this day, at the depth of several hundred feet, for such was
the profundity of some of the openings which did not close in again."

There is a fine description of the Earthquake and this melancholy
result, in Cowper's Task, which we shall quote.

      Alas for Sicily! rude fragments now
    Lie scatter'd where the shapely column stood.
    Her palaces are dust. In all her streets
    The voice of singing and the sprightly chord
    Are silent. Revelry, and dance, and show
    Suffer a syncope and solemn pause;
    While God performs upon the trembling stage
    Of his own works his dreadful part alone.
    The rocks fall headlong, and the valleys rise,
    The rivers die into offensive pools,
    And charged with putrid verdure, breathe a gross
    And mortal nuisance into all the air.
    What solid was, by transformation strange,
    Grows fluid; and the fix'd and rooted earth,
    Tormented into billows, heaves and swells,
    Or with vortiginous and hideous whirl
    Sucks down its prey insatiable. Immense
    The tumult and the overthrow, the pangs
    And agonies of human and of brute
    Multitudes, fugitive on every side,
    And fugitive in vain. The sylvan scene
    Migrates uplifted; and, with all its soil
    Alighting in far distant fields, finds out
    A new possessor, and survives the change.
    Ocean has caught the frenzy, and upwrought
    To an enormous and o'erbearing height,
    Not by a mighty wind, but by that voice
    Which winds and waves obey, invades the shore
    With force resistless. Where now the throng,
    That press'd the beach, and, hasty to depart,
    Look'd to the sea for safety? They are gone,
    Gone with the refluent wave into the deep--
    A prince with half his people!

You will find a great many other astonishing effects of this Earthquake
described in Mr. Lyell's Work on Geology, from which I have extracted
some parts of the preceding account.


The word Volcano comes from Vulcan, the name of the God of fire in the
Greek mythology. You have read how the poets used to represent him as
engaged underground in forging thunderbolts for Jupiter, and other
work of the same kind, with the assistance of his one-eyed journeymen
the Cyclopes. They feigned that Volcanoes were the chimneys of his
workshops, and that when an eruption took place he was busy forging his

Others pretended that when Jupiter had overcome the giants named
Titans, who had rebelled against him, instead of putting them in the
stocks, he placed mountains upon them, and that when the imprisoned
monsters turned themselves from one side to the other, earthquakes and
eruptions were the consequence.

However, we don't believe any of these stories now, neither perhaps did
the ancients. But you must learn all about them and their meaning,
(where they have any,) from your schoolmaster. My business now is to
tell you what Volcanoes are.

They are openings in the surface of the earth, from whence ignited
matter of various kinds, smoke, and ashes, are sent forth by some
subterranean agency.

For the most part they do not always keep in activity, but have long
intervals of rest for months, and sometimes for very many years,
between the eruptions.

One of the few that always keeps in eruption, is Stromboli, one of the
Lipari Islands off the coast of Sicily, which there is good reason to
think, has been active for nearly 1600 years. This Volcano is merely
a mountain or rock, standing out of the sea, and the melted matter,
that occasionally runs down its sides, flows directly into the water,
and at once kills and parboils the fish that happen to be near it, and
they are thus sometimes taken and eaten by the poor fishermen who live
about the base of the mountain.

The way in which an eruption takes place in a Volcano of the other
kind, when it has been quiet for a long time, is as follows.

Great noises are heard about the foot of the mountain, and earthquakes
frequently occur for several days before any change is seen in the
opening or _crater_, as it is called. The springs in the neighbourhood
often disappear, and as you may suppose all these forebodings make the
people who live near gloomy enough.

After a time a dreadful burst takes place, and the crater is in an
instant cleared of the stones and earth that may have fallen into it
during the period of repose; ashes and cinders, rocks and stones, are
thrown up to an immense height in the air, and a great cloud of smoke
and steam accompanies them.

In perfectly still weather, this vapour is seen to shape itself in
a very beautiful manner. The immense impulse from beneath sends it
up to a vast height as straight and almost as distinct as a pillar.
At a certain elevation, it spreads abroad and assumes the appearance
represented in the plate. When this occurs on Vesuvius, the Italians
call it the _pine tree cloud_, from the resemblance its form bears to
that of a pine tree.

As the eruption goes on the cloud of smoke which is always copiously
charged with electricity, sends out brilliant lightnings; its form
becomes disturbed, and the dark volumes of vapour are angrily sent
forth in shapeless masses. Red-hot stones are sent into the air to a
stupendous height; the melted matter boils up inside the crater and
rolls down the sides of the mountain, setting fire to the trees that it
meets with, and destroying or enveloping whatever else remains in its

You will see their effect as they appear by night, in the other plate.
I should tell you that the Volcano represented in both the pictures is
Mount Vesuvius.

[Illustration: PLATE V.


The melted matter that boils up in the crater, and flows down the
mountain, is called Lava. I dare say most of you have seen some pieces
of this substance when polished and worked into ornaments. It is found
in great variety, and is sometimes black, porous, and light like
cinders; sometimes it consists of crystallized particles of quartz,
felspar, and other minerals, so as closely to resemble granite; and not
unfrequently it is a solid dark-coloured mass, heavy and hard as the
stone that our streets are paved with.

It issues from the crater in a melted state, bubbling and boiling like
water in a tea-kettle, but you must not therefore suppose that it runs
down the declivity of the mountain like water. On the contrary, its
motion is mostly very slow, seldom being faster when it gets at some
distance from the crater, than four miles an hour, which is about as
fast as a man can walk. When it has run still further from its source
it does not travel more than a few yards in a day.

The motion of a stream of Lava is very peculiar, for the surface
exposed to the air is immediately formed into a crust, and hence it
constantly moves with a crackling noise, and when the stream is quite
fresh no light is seen except in the cracks that are constantly being
formed at the extremity.

In this way a current will sometimes go drawling on for months after
the eruption which gave rise to it has ceased.

A very curious effect is produced when the lava runs in a certain state
of fluidity down a steep descent. A thick, strong crust forms on the
outside, and it is one of the qualities of lava when it has become
hard, like most other stony substances, to present great opposition
to the passage of heat. In consequence of this the liquid lava in the
inside of the current is kept hot, and continues to run on for a long
time after the supply from the crater has ceased, and leaves the crust
in the form of an arched passage.

From what I have told you about lava streams, you will see that there
is not much danger from them to living creatures, who may always get
out of their way fast enough: but sometimes houses and even towns are
enveloped in them.

[Illustration: PLATE VI.


However, from the peculiar mode in which they travel there is often a
way of preventing this, and on one occasion it was resorted to, and
the town of Catania thereby saved. A current of lava from Mount Etna
was making its way straight towards the town, but a body of fifty bold
strong fellows went out to meet it, armed with crow bars; with these
they broke great holes in the crust at the side, and thus the stream
was turned into another course, and pursued its way on one side of the

Throughout an eruption, a great quantity of dust is produced by the
rubbing of the stones against each other which are thrown out from the
crater, and often fall back and are thrown up again several times.

This dust is driven over a great extent of country, and a gentleman
whom I visited, who lived about fourteen miles from Mount Vesuvius,
told me that during the great eruption of 1822, his garden was covered
with them, to the depth of full six inches.

But in more violent eruptions they are carried much further than this.
In an eruption of a Volcano in Sumbawa, an island which lies some miles
to the East of Java, the ashes were carried to a distance of 270 miles
in such quantities as to darken the air, and in another direction
they were found 300 miles off. They fell so heavily 40 miles away
from the Volcano that they broke into many houses, and rendered them

Quantities of liquid lava are thrown upwards, and shape themselves into
nearly the forms of fish by their passage through the air. These are
called bombs by the inhabitants, and the fall of them is very justly
dreaded, as they come with great violence.

The size of the largest of those from which the following picture was
taken, was six inches long, two inches and a quarter wide, and one
inch and three quarters thick; but there are much larger sometimes.


If you should have a chance of examining any of these, you may observe
how wisely the living principle, which gives the figure to fish, has
been ordained by their Creator to provide the best form to assist their
motions, in a medium in which they are suspended, and do not move on
ground as the beasts do; seeing that it is precisely the same sort
of figure as the laws of inanimate matter impress upon it, when in a
yielding state, and being impelled to move under similar circumstances.

I must give you a notion of the quantity of lava sometimes sent out in
a single eruption.

The Volcano called Skapta Jokul, in Iceland, in the year 1794, sent
out two great streams, one of which was 50 miles in length, from 10 to
15 in breadth, and the ordinary depth about 100 feet, but in some deep
valleys it was more than 500 feet. The other was forty miles long,
seven wide on the average, and about the same depth as the first.

These streams were not cold in the year 1805, eleven years after they
had issued from the earth, so that you may judge how long the hardened
lava keeps in the heat.

During the eruption in which this immense mass of melted matter was
thrown out, twenty villages were destroyed, more than nine thousand
persons killed, and an immense number of cattle.

The vapour which rises at first in immense clouds, when the eruption
slackens, or when it gets out of the reach of the heat, condenses, and
mingled with the dust thrown up with it, forms mud, which rushes in
torrents down the mountain. These streams of mud are called alluvions,
and are very much more dreaded by the inhabitants than the lava
streams, because they are so much quicker in their movement.

It was one of these, and not a stream of lava which enveloped the
Roman City Pompeii; and which entered the modern town of Torre del
Greco, and so raised the ground that the lower rooms of the houses were
converted into cellars, and the people were obliged to make the street
doors on what had before been the second story.


There is a very remarkable Volcano in the Island of Hawaii, where
Captain Cook was killed.

The crater, instead of being at the top of a mountain like those of
most other Volcanoes, is a large plain, seven miles in circumference,
sunk below the surface of the surrounding country, and walled in by
rugged cliffs more than seven hundred feet high.

On this plain there are fifty-one conical hillocks, which are almost
constantly sending out vapour and lava, and red hot stones. The
surrounding banks consist entirely of sulphur and lava.

The islanders, before they were taught the truths of Christianity,
believed it to be the abode of their deities, the chief of whom they
call Pelé, and to her, they say, that everything which grows near the
Volcano is sacred. When some missionaries were going to visit it, and
plucked some juicy berries from the shrubs that grew there to quench
their thirst, the native guides begged them to desist till they had
made an offering to Pelé. When they got to the edge of the crater, they
threw some of the berries in, and said, "Pelé, here are your berries,
and I am now going to eat some." They then ate fast enough, and were
willing that the missionaries should do the same.

The following are extracts from the account of our countryman, Mr.
Stewart's visit to this terrific place.

"I can compare the general aspect of the bottom of the crater, to
nothing that will give a livelier image of it to your mind, than to
the appearance the Otsego Lake would present, if the ice with which
it is covered in winter, were suddenly broken up by a heavy storm,
and as suddenly frozen again, while large slabs and blocks were still
toppling, and dashing, and heaping against each other, with the motion
of the waves. Just so rough and distorted was the black mass under
our feet, only a hundred-fold more terrific, independently of the
innumerable cracks, fissures, deep chasms and holes, from which the
sulphureous vapour, steam, and smoke were exhaled, with a degree of
heat that testified the near vicinity of fire.

"At an inconsiderable distance from us, was one of the largest of the
conical craters, whose laborious action had so greatly impressed our
minds during the night, and we hastened to a nearer examination of it.
On reaching its base, we judged it to be one hundred and fifty feet
high, a huge, irregularly shapen, inverted funnel of lava, covered
with clefts, orifices, and tunnels, from which bodies of steam escaped,
while pale flames, ashes, stones, and lava, were propelled with equal
force and noise, from its ragged mouth.

"The chattering of the islanders around our cabins, and the occasional
sound of voices in protracted conversation among our own number,
had scarcely ceased long enough to admit of sound sleep, when the
volcano again began roaring and labouring with redoubled activity.
The confusion of noises was prodigiously great. These sounds were not
fixed or confined to one place, but rolled from one end of the crater
to the other; sometimes seeming to be immediately under us, when a
sensible tremor of the ground on which we lay took place; and then
again rushing to the farthest end with incalculable velocity. The whole
air was filled with the tumult; and those most soundly asleep were
quickly roused by it to thorough wakefulness. One of our party sprang
up in his cot, exclaiming, 'We shall certainly have an eruption; such
power must burst through everything;' He had barely ceased speaking,
when a dense column of heavy black smoke was seen arising from the
crater directly in front of us; the subterranean struggle ceased,
and immediately after, flames burst from a large cone, near which we
had been in the morning, and which then appeared to have been long
inactive. Red-hot stones, cinders, and ashes, were also propelled to a
great height with immense violence; and shortly after, the molten lava
came boiling up, and flowed down the sides of the cone, and over the
surrounding scoria, in two beautiful curved streams, glittering with
indiscribable brilliance.

"At the same time a whole lake of fire opened in a more distant part.
This could not have been less than two miles in circumference; and its
action was more horribly sublime than anything I ever imagined to
exist, even in the ideal vision of unearthly things. Its surface had
all the agitation of an ocean; billow after billow tossed its monstrous
bosom in the air, and occasionally those from different directions
burst with such violence, as in the concussion to dash the fiery spray
forty and fifty feet high. It was at once the most splendidly beautiful
and dreadfully fearful of spectacles."


You must know that most of the volcanic mountains bear evident traces
of having been built up of matter thrown out, in the first place,
from a crack or hole in the ground, and afterwards from the _crater_
or _cup_, which would thus soon be formed. At every eruption a new
layer of dust, and cinders, and lava, is added, and thus a mountain is
gradually produced.

In some instances, the successive layers may be seen is the crater,
as is the case with Vesuvius, of the summit of which this would nearly
represent the section, if we could cut it in two.


Volcanic operations can go on very nearly as well at the bottom of the
sea, as upon dry land; and if you remember what I told you before,
respecting the mode in which the currents of lava flow, you will not be
much surprised to hear that their progress is not stopped by the water,
though it may be somewhat impeded. It is certain that the streams often
travel a great way at the bottom of the sea.

When a Volcano breaks out under the sea, if the eruption send out a
sufficient quantity of lava, and stones and dust, it gets above the
surface and makes such a Volcano as Stromboli.

If the Volcano should afterwards become quiet, then an island is the
result, and if large enough, it may be inhabited.

A great many of the islands of the South Sea, and some of the Greek
islands, originated in this manner; and, only two or three years ago,
an island suddenly rose up off the coast of Sicily, and was taken
possession of in due form by a British captain, in the name of the king
of England; but, as the land consisted of loose earth, and had not much
lava to bind it together, it soon sunk down, and now no trace of it is
to be seen.


There are many Volcanoes in Iceland, and the whole island seems to have
been the produce of Volcanic agency. I am going to describe to you one
of the most singular proofs of this.

Geysers are springs which spout out at intervals great streams of
hot water. The name is taken from the Icelandic word, _geysa_, which
signifies, _to rage_, or, _burst forth violently_.

[Illustration: PLATE VII.


The Icelanders are a very simple, excellent people, and exceedingly
kind and hospitable to strangers. This is not the place for me to tell
you how much kindness I experienced among them; but if I were to do
so, you would have as high a regard for them as I have. They have in
general a considerable degree of intelligence, but I was surprised to
find that a great many of them did not know where the Geysers were, or
anything about them.

There are many springs of the same kind in several parts of Iceland;
but those that are generally known as _the Geysers_, are near the town
of Haukadal, in the south-west part of Iceland. To these I went in
company with four other persons, and a guide.

After a dreary ride through a wild volcanic looking country, we left
our horses in a safe place, and then, proceeding some distance on foot,
we saw clouds of steam arising over the hills before us. A little
further on we got into the plain, where the Geysers are situated, which
is full of boiling springs and holes sending out steam like the valve
of a steam-boiler.

The great Geyser is at the top of a hillock, which seems to have been
formed in the course of years by the substances which the hot water
holds in solution, and deposits as it cools.

At the top of this mound we found a pond of the shape of a saucer,
lined with the most curious incrustations of spar, which exactly
resembled the heads of cauliflowers. It was then about half full of the
most beautiful hot water, as clear as crystal, which was just stirred
in gentle waves by the steam that rose up from the opening at the
bottom of the basin.

We took advantage of this tranquil state of the spring, to examine this
opening. We let down a line, with a weight at the end, to the depth
of about eighty feet, and as nearly as we could judge, it went down

The hole was nearly round, and about nine feet in diameter, but it got
gradually wider towards the top like a funnel. The inside showed the
same kind of flinty incrustation as the hillock was composed of, worn
as smooth as glass by the forcible passage of the water. The water was
then at a temperature of two hundred degrees.

The saucer-shaped reservoir was fifty feet across, and four feet deep.

I ought to tell you that the waters of the Geysers have a petrifying
property, and hence the ground all around them is covered with what was
once grass, moss, and sticks, converted into stone, of which we brought
away many beautiful specimens.

It was very late in the evening when we had completed this examination,
and fixed our tent where we intended to pass the night. The springs
still continued quiet, and you may judge how impatient we were for
something to be going on. However, as it was dark, and we were very
tired, having had a great deal of fatigue during the day, we lay down
in the tent and went to sleep.

About midnight we were suddenly called up by one of our party, to
witness the great Geyser in its full glory. It threw up several jets,
should think of at least ninety feet high, and sent off vast clouds of
steam. There was only just light enough for us to distinguish the water
and steam; but the effect was very grand, and such as we shall never
forget, though it did not leave much behind in our minds to talk about,
as everything seemed indistinct and confused.

The next morning, as soon as it was light, there was a beautiful
eruption of the _New Geyser_, as it is called. The column of water was
eight feet in diameter, and full sixty feet high, and the clouds of
steam were prodigious. The sun was just then rising, and the effect
of his rays through the water and stream, was exquisitely beautiful,
producing many little rainbows. When the water had sunk down, its place
was taken by a tremendous jet of spray and steam, rushing out with a
deafening roar to nearly the same height as the water.

When we threw some large stones into the pipe, the steam instantly
carried them up to an amazing height; and in several instances, when
they went up quite perpendicularly, kept them within its influence for
some minutes, throwing them upwards several times successively, in a
very strange manner; the Geyser seemed to play with them as a boy plays
with his ball when he throws it up and catches it again and again.

We were not yet satisfied, because we had not seen an eruption fairly
from beginning to end; so we waited some time longer. At about seven
o'clock in the morning, we heard low grumbling sounds near the great
Geyser, and the water in the basin bubbled up a little more actively.

We then had an hour and a half of anxious expectation, during which
we kept walking round the hillock; there were then about a dozen loud
reports which made the earth tremble, and the water rose to near the
top of the basin, and became so restless that many of the waves washed
over the edge.

A little while afterwards, the reports became as loud as the firing of
artillery; the ground shook violently under our feet; we ran down the
mound, and had hardly got upon the level ground before the water rushed
up the pipe with such thick clouds of steam, as completely to conceal
the stream. These bursts took place in this manner to the height of
about twenty feet.

There was then a rest for a few seconds, which was followed by several
jets from forty to sixty feet high; and after them a column was thrown
up eighty feet high, and ten feet in diameter. But the last jet was the
most remarkable, for it was more than ninety feet high, and lasted for
seven minutes.

This great effort seemed to have wearied the Geyser, for the water
instantly sunk down out of the basin into the pipe, quite out of sight;
but in a few minutes it rose again to within a foot of the edge of the
basin, and then remained stationary.

Besides the great perpendicular jets, there were many little ones
curling and twisting about in all directions; and we were taught to be
careful of these by one of my companions getting badly scalded in the
leg, for they were very sudden and uncertain in their movements.

When we were quite sure it was all over, we tried the temperature of
the water in the basin, and found it to be twenty degrees cooler than
before the eruption, which was probably caused by the exposure of the
water which had been thrown up into the air.

It seems there are generally about five or six eruptions of each of
the two great Geysers, within twenty-four hours. But while we were on
the spot, many of the smaller springs spouted up much oftener, and one
bustling little thing darted out its waters in all directions, three or
four times in an hour.

We did not see any jet from the great Geyser above one hundred feet
high; but some travellers have asserted that they are at times two or
three hundred feet in height. It would appear that the force of the
Geysers varies considerably, and in some instances is affected by the
earthquakes which often happen here; some of which seem to cripple, and
others to strengthen them.

Some of the water of the great Geyser falls over the edge of the basin
into a deep hole in the rock below, which makes a capital warm bath,
for by the time the water reaches it, it is of the desirable coolness.
I can assure you, we enjoyed a bathe in it very much indeed.

There are several other springs in Iceland of nearly the same
character, and the most remarkable are the Hot Springs of Reykium.
The largest of these has two openings, from one of which the water
is incessantly flowing to the height of six or eight feet; the other
opening is about ten feet distant, and is surrounded by an incrusted
brim, like that of the great Geyser. The eruptions take place from this
about fifteen times in twenty-four hours, to the height of about thirty
feet, accompanied with a great deal of steam.

There is also a most wonderful spring in Reykium, called the Badstofa.
It flows into a great cave, from the bottom of which the water keeps on
retreating and flowing like the waves of the sea, with a deep rumbling
sound for some time before the eruption, when the water rushes up to
the height of nearly twenty feet.

About half a mile from this place, there are some Hot Springs that rise
in the bed of a river, and force themselves quite through the cold
water which covers them.


There is a wonderful place in Iceland, which I am sure you would like
to hear about. It is in the south-west part of the island nearer the
sea than the Geysers. Nearly the whole region consists of sulphur, and
hot clay, and hot dirty water, and it contains some mountains, called
the _Sulphur Mountains_, from which great quantities of sulphur are
collected by the peasants, and sent to the continent of Europe for sale.

The vapour that is always rising from this wretched-looking country,
makes a sort of crust over the hot clay; and you will sometimes come to
a spot that appears solid, and as you go over it, your horse's hoofs
will make holes which will send out steam like little cauldrons. A
gentleman who would go over one of these on foot, got terribly scalded
by the crust breaking away under him.

There is here a sort of hut, from the bottom of which much steam rises,
and it is used as a vapour bath. People that are affected with various
diseases, come to it from the surrounding country in considerable

At a little distance from this you come to the brink of a cliff, and
looking over it, you see twelve large ponds or basins of black mud,
boiling, and splashing, and raging perpetually, with large volumes
of vapour rolling off their surfaces. Beyond these some dismal
black-looking mountains make a back ground. Can you imagine any thing
more fearful to look upon?

Besides these, there is a kind of Geyser of mud, which just resembles
the real Geysers in its action; but instead of sending up beautiful
clear water, it throws out black unsightly mud, as thick as porridge,
which is caught in a nearly round reservoir of more than one hundred
feet in diameter. It is situated near the summit of a mountain called
_Krabla_ and the reservoir seems to have been in time past a volcanic


Of course there cannot be hot water without some source of heat, and
there must, therefore, be a source of heat taken into consideration
in the action of the Geysers. Now, I do not wish to speak of this
here, I only wish to make you understand how it seems likely that the
eruptions of the Geysers are occasioned, supposing there was a supply
of hot water.


This cut is intended to represent what may be a section of the
subterranean reservoir, S W, of the great Geyser, and the pipe, P,
connected with the saucer-shaped basin, B, at the top of the mound. You
see the cracks in the rock through which you must suppose hot water
constantly trickling into the reservoir.

The space S will be constantly full of steam, and the space below, W,
will be always full of water. The water will continue to rise till it
gets to A, and it will then quite stop up the escape of the steam.

The steam in S will then press upon the surface of the water, and
force it up the pipe P with more or less violence, according to the
supply of heat; but when enough of the steam has escaped to render the
pressure less, and the water has sunk to near I, the eruption will

If you will take the trouble to understand this section, you will see
how reasonable it is that the Geyser should be so constructed; and I
have seen a little apparatus made of glass, which showed exactly the
same sort of operations.

Some little variation in the shape of the reservoir and pipe, may
perhaps be needed to account for all that takes place; but the
principle of the activity being produced by the agency of steam, acting
in a space which may be enclosed by the water in its rising to a
certain height, seems to be certain and satisfactory.



In some parts of the world, there are rocks which are not stratified
and arranged like those which I described to you some time ago, but are
laid over the surfaces, and in the crevices of others in this manner:--


In this cut, _a_, _a_, _a_, are intended to represent the stratified
rocks, and _b_, _b_, _b_, the others, which from their position are
sometimes called _overlying rocks_, and they mostly consist of a
substance called _basalt_, which is nearly black and very hard, and
occasionally with white and coloured minerals imbedded in it. There are
two states in which it is found; in one, it occurs in masses without
any particular form, and in the other state it constitutes pillars
shaped with great accuracy and regularity.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII.


The island of Staffa, one of the western islands of Scotland, and the
Giant's Causeway, on the north coast of Ireland, near Londonderry, are
remarkable instances of the latter state; and as I have seen them both,
I will tell you what sort of places they are.


This wonderful island was not generally known to exist, even by the
inhabitants of Scotland, till the last century, when Sir Joseph Bankes
happened to see it, and published an account of it. Since then it has
been visited by numbers, and lately a steam-boat has regularly plied to
it twice a week, from the little town of Oban, in Argyleshire.

It was in this way that I went, and a most delightful trip we had
of it. The steam-boat left Oban in the afternoon, full of kind
light-hearted people, who seemed fully resolved to enjoy themselves. In
the evening we reached the island of Mull, where we were to spend the

The inhabitants of Tobermory, (the little capital of Mull,) anxiously
look out for the arrival of the steam-boat, for they are very poor, and
the little money which the passengers spend, is a great object to them.
On these occasions the inns are seldom large enough to accommodate all
the strangers, and then a strange scramble takes place to get lodgings
for the night. Most of our party succeeded in doing so, and the rest
remained on board the steam-boat.

We went to see a beautiful little estate on one side of the harbour of
Tobermory, which belongs to the son of the old Laird of Coll, whom Dr.
Johnson visited. The grounds are nearly in the shape of a triangle, and
the two sides that are away from the sea, are formed by lofty rocks
with several beautiful waterfalls; and in the middle is a pretty lake.
Except the house on this estate, there are scarcely any good houses in
or near Tobermory, and the inhabitants are very ignorant and poor. Many
of them who could not speak any other English words, ran after us to
ask us for pence and tobacco.

We started early in the morning, and passed several small islands of
curious forms, composed of basalt; one in particular, which is called
the Dutchman's cap, shaped like this.


As we approached Staffa, on the north side, we could see scarcely
anything of the pillars. It appeared a mass of Basalt, of very
irregular shape, rising abruptly out of the sea, scantily covered with
grass on the upper surface.


It is the south side of the island that is chiefly remarkable, of which
I will show you a picture that I made on the spot.

It has (as you may see) exactly the appearance of a great layer of
earth swelling out at the edges, resting on a vast number of pillars
stuck close together. The colour of the pillars is nearly black, and
that of the stratum above, lightish green, yellow, and brown, from the
grass and variously coloured lichens that grow upon it. The sea is very
deep, quite close to the cliffs.

The day I was there, was as fine as possible; not a cloud was to be
seen, and the great ocean was as calm as a mill-pond, which is not very
common in these parts, for there is mostly a considerable swell.

The celebrated cave of Fingal, as it is called, (but why, nobody
knows,) is close to one extremity of the south side.

[Illustration: Plate IX.


It seems just as if it had been formed by cutting away the middle of
some of the pillars, since you can see that many parts of the pillars
now remaining on the roof, are placed as if they were continuations of
the stumps on which you walk at the bottom.

We went into it in a boat, and when we were at the farther end, we got
out upon the broken pillars and surveyed everything at our leisure.

The length of the cave is two hundred and fifty feet, the breadth about
forty, and the height above one hundred feet at the entrance, and
seventy at the inner end.

Along the middle of the roof, is a deep cleft, or fissure, which makes
it something like a pointed arch, resembling the roof of a cathedral.
The sides of the fissure are variegated, yellow, red, brown, and white,
in consequence of water containing various substances, soaking through
from the surface above; and on each side of it, there are several rows
of the top of the broken pillars, which look quite black.

On the sides at the bottom, the stumps form a sort of pavement like
this, which is an exact copy of a small portion of it, and will show
you the forms of the pillars; some stand higher than others; but there
is not generally sufficient difference to prevent you from walking over


Between these pavements the water is very deep, and as it flows direct
from the Atlantic Ocean without any dirty shore or shallows, it looks
very beautiful,--of a clear emerald green, showing at the bottom
the black basaltic pillars in ruins, and a very few long luxuriant
sea-weeds gracefully waving with the undulations of the water.

The exposed surfaces of the pillars, between high and low water-marks,
are covered with the little shell-fish called _balanus_, or BARNACLE,
of colours varying from pink, which is the hue of those that are placed
deepest, to yellow and white, which are those that are least covered by
the water.

The walls of the cave above these shells, are of a deep slate colour.
The pillars which compose them, are on the average about three feet
in diameter, and they are fitted so close together that you cannot get
a penknife in between them. If separated at certain intervals, they
break short off, and leave a remarkably level surface without the least
splinter. Between these joints they break roughly and irregularly.

Here is a view of the inside of the cave.

It is supposed that these wonderful pillars are formed by the cooling
of a melted mass, and that this and other basaltic spots, are the
remains of streams of lava from a volcano long ago extinct.

In some of the lava streams of Mount Vesuvius, there has been noticed
an approach to this structure, though not quite so regular as what we
have been describing.

You may understand in some measure how it may come about, by examining
starch, which always hardens into little columns or pillars; and if
you look at the little sketch of a portion of the pavement of the cave
which I have given you above, you will see that nearly all the pillars
have six sides, the same as the pieces of starch.

It is remarkable what pains the basalt seems to have taken to get into
a six-sided form. I should think about two-thirds of the columns have
six sides, though sometimes one side is little more than a sharp edge
blunted, because it seems to have been prevented by its neighbour
making a similar effort to get its six sides complete.

None of the remaining third of the pillars, have more than nine, or, of
course, less than three sides. You might look a long time before you
would find two pillars exactly alike.

All this you will find occurring just in the same manner in starch,
except that the edges of the basalt pillars are quite even, while those
of starch are more or less waved or twisted.

Near the side of the cave there is a little rock formed by pillars into
a pretty regular cone, which you may see in the plate. It has a very
striking appearance as you approach the island.

Close by the rock there is a little cave, the mouth of which is formed
by bent pillars, in this manner.


The water in this is not very deep, but it was deep enough to give one
of my companions a good ducking as he was trying to reach a shell which
one of the ladies of our party wanted to possess.

You will also often see something like these bent pillars in starch.


On the north coast of Ireland, the Giant's Causeway is a collection of
similar pillars of rather a smaller size. They stretch far into the
sea, and at low water you may walk a long distance upon the tops of

The pillars get higher as they approach the cliff, and in the cliff
itself, just above them, is a remarkable layer of fossil wood in the
state called lignite, which closely resembles charcoal.

At some distance from the Causeway, some of the pillars stand up by
themselves, looking just like tall chimneys. There are also some
wonderful caves in the Basaltic cliffs behind it, but none of them
consisting of pillars like the great cave of Staffa. It is called the
Giant's Causeway, because some people have fancied that it resembled
the commencement of a great pier or causeway, which some beings of
superhuman power had left unfinished. This is only a fancy for poets to
talk of; you and I are now engaged about facts.

There are some similar formations in Iceland, of very great extent, and
in several other parts of the world; but those I have told you about,
are the most remarkable which are known to exist.



If you have attended to what I have already told you, you will
have seen that there must be a close connection between the causes
of volcanoes, earthquakes, and hot springs, (if they are not all
to be ascribed to one cause,) from their always occurring in the
neighbourhood of each other. But there is something else that you ought
to notice in reference to this connection.

I said, that a volcanic eruption was almost always preceded by shakings
of the ground round the root of the mountain. These shakings are
sometimes so violent as to be dreadful earthquakes, and at other times
the earthquake will be at a long distance from the volcano.

There was once a great earthquake which kept on for some days on the
north shore of South America, and then stopped quite suddenly. It was
afterwards found out, that just at the moment it stopped, a tremendous
eruption burst forth from a volcano in one of the West-India islands,
more than 150 miles off.

You know what the safety-valve of a steam-engine is. Now it would seem
just as if volcanoes were safety-valves for the power which causes

Very well.--I am now going to tell you what people have thought
this power has been owing to. Before I do so, that you may not be
disappointed, I should tell you that we know very little on the
subject; nor shall we ever know much till somebody can get down to the
centre of the earth, unless some of the little black spirits, that
the Rosicrucians called Gnomes, and fabled to live in the middle of
the globe, should be kind enough to give us some information on the

In the meantime, we can only guess; but we ought to guess as well as we
can, and see whether our guess is not much more likely to be true than
any of the others.

Volcanic bands are always near the sea-shore, and it has therefore been
generally supposed that water has something to do with their action.

If you take a mixture of sulphur and iron filings, and mix them into
a paste with water, and then bury them in the ground, after a while
they will become hot and send out a great quantity of steam. Some
people have imagined that this is the way in which volcanic activity
is produced, but no one thinks so now, and for very good reasons, for
there is nothing in the action so produced at all capable of accounting
for long continued eruptions, or for the flowing out of the lava.

Sir Humphrey Davy found out, that nearly all kinds of salt and earth,
which had been before looked upon as simple substances, contained
certain metals united to oxygen, which, (as you should know,) is one
of the parts of water, and, in the form of gas, of the air we breathe.
If you put a piece of one of these metals into water, it is in such a
hurry to join itself to the oxygen of the water, that you set it on
fire. A little piece of _potassium_, (the metal of the salt called
_potash_, or _pearlash_,) will float for a few moments on the surface
of the water, burning with a purple flame in the prettiest manner


Sir Humphrey thought he had got the true explanation of the thing.
These wonderful metals formed the basis of every substance in lava,
and supposing them to exist in the centre of the globe, it was only
necessary for water to get to them to set them on fire, and thus to
give rise to earthquakes and volcanoes. It appeared only to be required
that a crack should be made at the bottom of the sea, and the water
flow into the beds of metal underneath, and the violent action produced
would burst through the surface, and throw out streams of melted
matter, accompanied with great clouds of steam, just as takes place in
the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius and other volcanoes.

But you would find it very difficult to think how this can account for
continual and nearly steady operations, such as have been known to
exist in the Geysers of Iceland for more than 1000 years, and in Mount
Stromboli for much longer than that, so we will try another guess.

It has been observed in descending deep mines, that the earth gets
warmer the deeper you go. The usual mode of trying it is to dig little
holes, as you go down, in the sides and bottom of the mine, and put a
thermometer into them. A great many observations of this kind, have
been made in different parts of the world, and the greatest care has
been taken to allow for all causes of irregularity, consisting in
climate and local peculiarities. Comparing these together, it has
been determined that the temperature increases about one degree every
fifteen feet of descent.

A similar conclusion has been drawn from the heat of the water of the
Artesian Wells. But, perhaps, you do not know what Artesian Wells are,
so I will tell you.

They are deep borings in the earth, out of which water rises to, or
even above, the surface of the ground. Wherever you bore, if you go
deep enough you may get plenty of water, and this water is always found
to be warmer in proportion to the depth of the well in which it rises.
They are called _Artesian Wells_, from _Artois_, a town in France,
where the first was constructed.

In a well of this kind near Rochelle, which was 316 feet deep, the
water near the surface was at a temperature of 55 degrees, and at the
bottom 60 degrees. It was afterwards sunk to the depth of 369 feet,
and the temperature at the bottom was then found to be 65 degrees.

Do you not think it most likely that the heat continues to increase
quite as fast in proportion below the deepest point that man has gone
down to? Well, if so, at the depth of some miles it must be hot enough
to melt anything, even granite, and all kinds of stones.

If we suppose, on this evidence, that the centre of the globe is
intensely heated, and that it gets gradually cooler towards the
surface, there is what at once will account for the hot springs, the
increasing heat in descending mines, the constant action of some
volcanoes, the occasional action of others, the streams of lava, and
the nature of all substances that are thrown out.

It is very natural to imagine that every now and then the action of
the great heated mass inside, would crack open the crust, and the sea
wearing away its bottom in some places as it does, may have something
to do in assisting this. Thus, new volcanoes would be formed, and
earthquakes would happen where they never happened before; and over
these immense cracks there would be a volcanic band.

Then, after a time, these cracks might be partially, or wholly, filled
up by the matter thrown into them, and the volcanoes on the surface
above may become quiet for a time.




I am going to relate to you the biography of a Volcano, and I hope you
will find it amusing.

Before the time of the Roman Emperor Trajan, Mount Vesuvius had been
quiet for a great many centuries. It is known that it had had many
eruptions before then, because there are some great lava streams close
by it, on which some of the most ancient Italian cities are built.
In particular, Herculaneum, which was said to have been built by
the Demi-god Hercules, and must therefore have been of the remotest
antiquity, was built chiefly of blocks of lava, and founded upon a
vast stream of the same substance.

And besides, there is no doubt that the land all about the
neighbourhood in the remotest times, bore evident marks of the action
of fire; for it was here that the Poets pretended that the gate of Hell
was, and close by the black and dreary-looking lake Avernus, which you
may read about in the Æneid of Virgil. This was also the place where
the Cimmerians dwelt, whom Ulysses is said to have visited, according
to Homer, on his way to the regions of the dead.


Near here, too, was the celebrated Grotto del Cano, the cave which used
to destroy the lives of small animals put into it, by means of the
exhalations that rose from the bottom; but as these exhalations were
heavier than the air, consisting chiefly of the gas called carbonic
acid, they did not rise much above the bottom. This is what an old
writer, the account of whose travels I am very fond of, says of it.

"Whatsoever hath life, being thrust into the farre end, doth die in
an instant. Yet entred it may be a good way with safety; neither
heat nor cold will oppress you, nor is there any damp or vapour to
be discerned; being perspicuous to the bottome, and the sole thereof
dusty. We made triall with a dog; which we no sooner had thrust in,
but without crying, or otherwise struggling than if shot to the heart,
his tongue hung out, and his eyes setled in his head, to our no small
amazement. Forthwith drawne out, starke, and to our seeming without
shew of life, we threw him into the lake; when anon he recovered, and
swimming to the shore, ran crying away as fast as hee could, to the
not farre distant _Osteria_: where they get no small part of their
living by shewing this place unto forreiners. And it is a sport to see
how the dogs thereabout will steale away, and scud to the tops of the
mountaines, at the approach of a stranger. The _French_ King _Charles_,
the eighth of that name, who held the kingdome of _Naples_ for a
while; made triall thereof with an Asse, which immediately died. The
like befell to a foole-hardy souldier. _Peter of Toledo_ caused two
offenders to be thrust thereinto, and both expired in a moment. Nor
found those three gallants any better successe, who tempted God with
their desperate entrance. This place was not unknowne to _Pliny_, who
calleth it the Cave of _Charon_. The cause of so deadly an effect, is
said to proceede from the fervent vapours ascending at invisible pores,
so thin, so dry, and subtile, as not to be discerned: yet thickned by
the cold that enters at the mouth of the Cave, convert into moisture,
which hangs farre within on the roofe like to drops of quick-silver;
and such esteemed to bee by a number. _Carona Pighyus_, desirous to
informe himselfe in the mysteries hereof, ventured so farre in as
to touch one of those farre of shining drops, and shewed it to his
companions, who entred also, and stayed therein about a minute of an
houre: sensibly perceiving the heat to arise from their feet to their
thighs, till they did sweat at the browes without the endammaging of
their senses, who return'd, to the wonder of the guide, that thought
they had preserved themselves by enchantments. By this their experiment
it appeares that the aire is most deadly neere to the pores where
it first ascended; especially to such creatures as hold their heads
downeward, exhaling at their nostrils the dry and hote vapours. Thrust
a torch neere the bottome, and it will forthwith go out: yet advanced
higher, re-inflames, which approves the former assertion."


But although there were such gloomy places in the neighbourhood, in the
reign of Trajan, less than a hundred years after the Christian Era,
Mount Vesuvius was clothed with blooming vineyards, and corn fields,
studded with villas and beautiful gardens, and with three or four rich
and populous cities near its foot.

The height of the mountain was then much less than it is at present,
and it seems to have had a broad flat top, nearly surrounded by a ridge.


This shape will account for the spot being chosen by the Roman rebel
Spartacus to encamp in, with his gladiators and slaves, when he put
Rome in danger.

For some time before the first eruption on record, there were dreadful
earthquakes, of which the effects are still to be seen in the cracked
and ruined walls of Pompeii and Herculaneum. "There were great
droughts," says the historian, "and violent earthquakes, so that the
whole plain boiled and bubbled, and the hills leapt, and there were
noises under ground like thunder, and above ground like roaring; the
seas made a noise, and the Heavens resounded, and then a sudden mighty
crash was heard, as if the mountains were dashed together; great
stones were then hurled upwards, and were followed by mighty fires,
and immense smoke, so that the whole air was overshadowed, and the sun
quite hidden as in an eclipse."

The same writer then tells us about some wonderful giants appearing to
wander about the summit of the mountain, which neither you nor I shall
be ready to believe.

Pliny, the great naturalist, was at that time living at the town of
Misenum, and as he was a man always prying into nature, and wishing
to know the causes of things, you may suppose his curiosity was very
much excited by these strange occurrences. But he paid dearly for this
laudable curiosity, as you shall hear in the account which his nephew
has left us of the event.

"On the 24th of August, about one in the afternoon, my mother desired
him to observe a cloud which appeared of a very unusual size and shape.
He had just returned from taking the benefit of the sun, and after
bathing himself in cold water, and taking a slight repast, had retired
to his study. He immediately arose and went out upon an eminence, from
whence he might more distinctly view this very uncommon appearance.
It was not at that distance discernible from what mountain this cloud
issued, but it was found afterwards to ascend from Mount Vesuvius. I
cannot give a more exact description of its figure, than by comparing
it to that of a pine-tree, for it shot up a great height in the form
of a trunk, which extended itself at the top into a sort of branches;
occasioned, I imagine, either by a sudden gust of air that impelled
it, the force of which decreased as it advanced upwards, or the cloud
itself being pressed back again by its own weight, expanded in this
manner: it appeared sometimes bright, and sometimes dark and spotted,
as it was more or less impregnated with earth and cinders. This
extraordinary phenomenon excited my uncle's philosophical curiosity to
take a nearer view of it. He ordered a light vessel to be got ready,
and gave me the liberty, if I thought proper, to attend him. I rather
chose to continue my studies; for, as it happened, he had given me an
employment of that kind. As he was coming out of the house, he received
a note from Rectina, the wife of Bassus, who was in the utmost alarm at
the imminent danger which threatened her; for her villa being situated
at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, there was no way to escape but by sea:
she earnestly entreated him, therefore, to come to her assistance.
He accordingly changed his first design, and what he began with a
philosophical, he pursued with an heroical turn of mind. He ordered the
gallies to put to sea, and went himself on board with the intention of
assisting not only Rectina, but several others; for the villas stand
extremely thick upon that beautiful coast. When hastening to the place
from whence others fled with the utmost terror, he steered his direct
course to the point of danger, and with so much calmness and presence
of mind, as to be able to make and dictate his observations upon the
motion and figure of that dreadful scene. He was now so nigh the
mountain, that the cinders, which grew thicker and hotter the nearer
he approached, fell into the ships, together with pumice-stones, and
black pieces of burning rock: they were likewise in danger, not only of
being aground by the sudden retreat of the sea, but also from the vast
fragments which rolled down from the mountain, and obstructed all the
shore. Here he stopped to consider whether he should return back again;
to which the pilot advising him, 'Fortune,' said he, 'befriends the
brave; carry me to Pomponianus.'"

His nephew then goes on to relate that he joined his friend who was in
another vessel, and went on shore, where he took a bath and sat down
to supper, not seeming to be in the least alarmed, when everybody
about him was in the greatest consternation. He then went to sleep so
soundly, that he was heard to snore. The ashes fell so thick in the
court before his apartment, that it was getting nearly impassable, and
his servants thought proper to awaken him. The walls of the houses
began to rock, and he and his friends then resolved to go out into the
fields, lest the stones and bricks should fall upon them. They tied
pillows upon their heads, and went out with torches, for though it was
daytime, the clouds of steam and ashes made it quite dark. They went
down to the sea, and found it in violent commotion. Either a sudden
gust of wind then brought the effluvia of the volcano towards them, or
else a little stream of deadly vapour burst out from a crack in the
ground, which dispersed the rest of the company. But Pliny, who was a
fat asthmatic old man, had laid down upon the ground to watch what was
going on. He attempted to rise, but almost before he had got on his
feet, he fell down dead.

"As soon as it was light again," says his nephew, "which was not till
the third day after this melancholy accident, his body was found
entire, and without any marks of violence upon it, exactly in the same
posture that he fell."

It was in the same eruption that the two great cities, Herculaneum and
Pompeii were overwhelmed by substances thrown out by the volcano. It
does not appear that a single stream of lava flowed out till many years

There were several great eruptions between this time and the year 1306,
and then the volcano was very nearly quiet for more than 300 years.
During this time the volcanic power broke out in another place called
Puzzuoli, at several miles distance. After a succession of violent
eruptions, the earth was cleft open, and a hill, which is now called
the Monte Nuovo, was thrown up in the space of a single night, which is
440 feet high, and a mile and a half in circumference.

At the end of this period Vesuvius was richly covered with vegetation,
even within the crater. But since the year 1650, there has not been ten
years pass without an eruption.


The form of the mountain has quite changed, and a little mountain has
grown up out of the old broad topped one, as you may see in the above


These cities which were of great extent and importance, seem to have
been almost forgotten during more than 1600 years. They are not often
mentioned in Roman history, and, strange to say, the Latin writers who
describe the eruption of Vesuvius, by which they must have been buried,
have said nothing about them, except a very vague allusion or two,
which would hardly have attracted any notice, if what I am going to
tell you of, had not happened.

In the year 1713, as some people were sinking a well, they discovered
two statues, one of Hercules, and the other of Cleopatra; and
continuing to dig in several directions, they found they had got into a
Roman theatre, and after a while they discovered that this Theatre was
that of the City of Herculaneum. But in consequence of the hardness of
the ground, and the great depth of the city under the surface, which
is one hundred feet, they have only been able to clear out a very few
buildings, and those cannot be seen except by torchlight, so that very
little is known about it.

I cannot tell you exactly how the ruins of Pompeii were first
discovered to be the remains of a city. It appears that an architect,
who was employed to make a subterranean canal to convey water to the
town of Torre dell'Annunziata, nearly 300 years ago, met with some
fragments of buildings; and about eighty years afterwards, enough was
seen to convince the discoverers that the ruins were extensive. In the
year 1755, a regular plan of excavation was commenced, and nearly the
whole city is now exposed to the light of day.

The situation of Pompeii is considerably further from the crater of
Vesuvius than that of Herculaneum, and to that circumstance is owing
the superiority of its preservation, and the greater moveableness of
the substances which covered it. It is probable that both cities were
originally assailed by alluvions, or streams of mud, such as I told
you of some time ago, as well as by showers of cinders and stones. But
while Pompeii was only fourteen or fifteen feet below the surface,
and never had anything besides cinders and earth above it, several
streams of lava flowed over Herculaneum, with layers of the different
substances, which the volcano throws into the air, between them, so as
to raise the surface one hundred feet.


Pompeii was three miles in circumference, and was a sea-port town,
though it is now a full mile from the sea. This is known, because the
steps which used to lead down from the quay, for the convenience of
passengers going into boats, are still remaining, and so are some large
metal rings which were intended for cables to be fastened to.

There are several inscriptions in both cities commemorating the great
injuries done by an earthquake which happened in the reign of the
Emperor Nero, sixteen years before they were destroyed. There are also
great cracks to be seen in some of the walls, testifying of the same
event. This was one of the efforts of the volcanic power to get free
before Vesuvius became the safety-valve.

It is very evident that there was ample warning of the catastrophe
before it happened, and that most of the people had time to escape,
for the number of skeletons found has been but small. In the barracks,
there were the skeletons of two soldiers chained in the stocks. There
were seventeen persons found in the cellar of a house just out of the
town, who seem to have fled there for safety, and the deluge of mud
then seems to have flowed in upon them, for their bones were found
in hardened mud. One of the number was a woman, with an infant in
her arms, and the impression of her form in the mud, was wonderfully
perfect, though there was nothing left of her but the bones. She seems
to have been the mistress of the house, and a person of consequence,
since she had a chain of gold about her neck, and rich rings on her

In these instances, (and there are related several others similar,) the
destruction of the persons seems to be accounted for by the peculiar
circumstances in which they were placed. The soldiers, poor fellows,
would, doubtless, have gone off with their companions, if they had not
been in the stocks; and the family of seventeen might have escaped if
they had fled into the open country, instead of into their cellar.

The warning does not however seem to have been very long before the
sad event, perhaps only about an hour. There have recently been found
three skeletons, which seem to have belonged to a father, mother,
and daughter, (the latter of whom was decorated with pearl-rings and
ear-rings,) who were in the act of rushing out of their house. And in
one of the squares of the city, a traveller saw "a new altar of white
marble, exquisitely beautiful, and apparently just out of the hands of
the sculptor, which had been erected there; an enclosure was building
all round; the mortar, just dashed against the side of the wall, was
but half spread out; you saw the long sliding stroke of the trowel
about to return and obliterate its own track--but it never did return:
the hand of the workman was suddenly arrested, and, after the lapse of
1800 years, the whole looks so fresh and new, that you would almost
say the mason was only gone to his dinner, and about to come back
immediately to smooth the roughness."

It is not unlikely that in the early part of the eruption, the ashes
and cinders which the volcano threw out, fell in showers on the
cities, and that the walls were shaken by the subterranean movements,
so that most of the inhabitants thought themselves less in danger in
the open fields, like the people of Misenum, who went into the fields
with pillows tied on their heads, as described by Pliny the younger, in
the passage I quoted just now. Some few others, less afraid of their
houses tumbling down about their ears, than of the bombs and cinders,
betook themselves to their cellars, and such places as they thought

I shall now tell you a little of what has been discovered relating to
the ancient state of the City.

Its walls were about three miles in circumference; the streets were
generally narrow, and paved with great flags of lava, which are
furrowed by very deep ruts made by the wheels of the carriages that
once passed busily along them. When the great hardness of the paving
material is considered, this circumstance is very remarkable, and shows
that the flags must have been laid down for a very long period, for
the like is not to be seen in the streets of the most ancient City in

[Illustration: PLATE X.


The Forum was a very elegant building, and if you look in the plate,
you will see a correct representation of what remains of it. The Forums
of ancient cities were not mere marketplaces, although provisions
and other commodities were offered in them for sale; but they also
contained places fitted for meetings of the people, and other public
uses. You will thus understand how it was that a place not larger than
Pompeii had such an extensive Forum.

The names of the owners over the door of each house are still to be
seen, and some of them are perfectly legible; and the colours of the
paintings on the walls of the houses, are as fresh as if they had
been painted yesterday. Some books have been found, but they are less
perfect than those in Herculaneum, where a whole library has been

The wood of the houses in Herculaneum is astonishingly perfect if
you just scrape off the surface, and some linen has been discovered,
of which the texture could be distinctly seen. There were also some
vessels full of almonds, chesnuts, and walnuts, in a fruiterer's shop,
which preserved their form entire. A baker lived near neighbour to this
fruiterer, and in his shop was a loaf with his stamp upon it, "ELERIS
Q. CRANI RISER." Not far off was an apothecary's shop, in which was a
box of pills, and a little roll of some kind of medicine ready to be
cut into pills, with a jar of herbs and other medicines. Another shop
contained some sauces and olives, which were quite moist. These curious
relics have been sealed up in glass, and placed in the Museum of Naples.

There is a house in one of the streets of Pompeii, on one of the walls
of which there has been scratched with some sharp-pointed instrument, a
rude device like this:


The letters in the corner, are, "_Campani victoria una cum Nucerinis
peristis_." _Campanians, you perished in the victory along with the
Nucerians._ This was a jest of some merry fellow making fun of the
inhabitants of Nuceria, a neighbouring city, and of some other parts
of Campania, over whom they had gained a victory in a squabble. We are
told that the Nucerians, when they were dead beaten, went like cowards
to the Emperor Nero, and laid their case before him. He decided in
their favour, and punished the Pompeians in what may seem a strange
way to you,--he forbade them to have any amusements in their theatre
for ten years. However, from what we know of the general disposition
and habits of the ancient Greeks and Romans, this was a very severe
punishment to them. From the scarcity of books, arising from their
being copied by hand, instead of being printed, but few of them could
spend their leisure time in reading, as so many of us do now; and in
consequence of this, the theatre was to them at once the principal
source of literary improvement and of amusement.


[Illustration: PLATE XI.




The river Niagara runs out of Lake Erie into Lake Ontario, and you may
see the direction it takes if you look in the map of North America. You
may likewise observe that Lake Erie is connected with three other vast
Lakes, and as its level is lower than theirs, the whole of their waters
pass through it into the Niagara.

Nearly half way between the Lakes Erie and Ontario, where the river is
about three quarters of a mile wide, it tumbles over a precipice of
160 feet in height. I shall try to describe to you what I saw when I
visited this place; but I am quite certain I shall not be able to do
justice to the scene. You must form your conceptions of it rather from
the bare facts I tell you respecting the mass of water and the height
of the rocky ledge over which it falls.

As we travelled along from the town of Waterloo on a level road on the
west bank, we saw the river gradually become wider till it was cut into
two streams by a long narrow island some miles in length. The streams
after passing the island, unite into one again, which continues its
course as before.

There is a sullen unpretending majesty about this part of the river, as
if it did not think it worth while to remind the traveller of the vast
distance which its mighty waters have come, or of the stupendous scene
to which they are travelling onward. There is nothing remarkable in its
appearance, and that very circumstance, coupled with what we knew and
what we shortly expected to see, made us full of intense feeling; and
often and often did we put our ears to the ground to hear whether the
sound of the falls could reach us, and then remount and impatiently
spur on our horses.

They say that the roar of the falls may be heard fifteen miles off when
the wind is favourable. But the day we went, there was hardly any wind,
and we were within six miles of the spot before we heard the sound.

At the distance of three miles the waters seemed fretful and
discontented, as they approached what are called the rapids; we
could see afar off "a silver cloud rising slowly into the sky--the
everlasting incense of the waters," consisting of vapour, or rather
fine spray, which is dashed out by the violence of the fall; and the
roar seemed deeper and more tumultuous.

Within half a mile the rapids commence in good earnest. A rapid means
the descent of a river down an inclined bed less sudden than a fall.
The descent here in half a mile, is fifty feet. The bed is rocky, and
the waters in rushing over it foam, and eddy, and tear along in all
directions in which they can possibly approach the awful precipice. The
unity of the stream is broken by thousands of rocks and stones, and
every part of its broad surface seems earnestly taken up with driving
forward to the falls.

After we had enjoyed this scene awhile, we turned into the road again,
and lost sight of the river till we reached a public-house, where we
took refreshment and put up our horses.

The precipice which here breaks the course of the river, is divided
into three parts by two large islands, and thus are formed three
distinct falls. One of these is called the _Great_, or _Horse Shoe
Fall_, from its peculiar shape, which you will see represented in the
picture. This is by far the most extensive waterfall in the world, and
is considered to be above a quarter of a mile in length. Then comes an
island a thousand feet in width, called Goat Island, which has a great
deal of wood growing on it. After that the Second Fall, not more than
twenty feet in width, then an island considerably smaller than the
first; and lastly, Fort Scloper Fall, about a thousand feet wide, which
joins the opposite bank of the river.


The quantity of water which descends every minute in the three falls,
has been estimated to be about 700,000 tons.

Well, a path through the garden of the Inn at which we were, led us
down a steep and thickly wooded bank, to a complete shelf of rock,
about a foot in thickness, called the Table Rock, which stands out
over the river.[A] Since I was there this piece of rock has broken away
and fallen into the stream. I was not at all surprised when I heard
this intelligence, for I can assure you that though I am no coward, it
did not seem very secure when I was standing on it, and if I had not
been quite taken up with what I was looking at, I should not have staid
there long. Here the whole scene on a sudden broke upon us. We were on
a level with the top of the precipice, with the Horse Shoe Fall just
opposite, and to our left, the Second, and Fort Scloper Falls.

[Footnote A: The print is copied by the kind permission of Messrs.
Ackermann, from one of the elegant series of engravings of the Falls of
Niagara, published by them.]

In spite of the loud roar and the violent rushing of the waters, the
scene altogether produced on us feelings of deep tranquillity and
beauty. The portion of the river that falls over the Horse Shoe Fall,
comes on in such an unbroken mass, as if nothing dared to oppose the
progress of a single drop of its water. Then the deep transparent green
of the middle stream, showing at a little depth beneath its surface,
shreds of milky foam, the beautiful cloud of fine spray ever decorated
with a rich rainbow when the sun shines, and the thick woods of Goat
Island, (the island that limits the Horse Shoe Fall,) are in such
lovely harmony. Altogether, I should say that the scene from the Table
Rock, is more remarkable for its beauty than its grandeur, though its
grandeur is quite equal to that of anything I ever looked upon in my

We got down to the bottom of the falls by means of some rough steps
which have been cut in the rock. As we stood on some large fragments
which have fallen down from the cliff above, the roar fell with
overpowering heaviness upon our ears, the fall was nearly hid from our
eyes by the spray, and the river rushed past our feet in a terrible
tumult of white foam. By getting along on the stones under the cliff,
we went in under the fall so as actually to be between the rock and
the descending sheet of water. Your imagination must tell you better
than I can, the character of what we then saw by the broken light that
made its way through the descending mass of waters. We stopped there,
overpowered by indescribable feelings, till we got wet through by the
spray, and then went back to the inn, stored with recollections, which
will be a feast for us as long as we live.

A traveller who visited the Falls in winter, adds some particulars
which will be interesting to you.

"At the time of my visit," says he, "the wind drove the floating ice
out of Lake Erie, with the drift wood of its tributary rivers, and
these were constantly precipitated over the Falls, but we were not able
to discover any vestiges of them in the eddies below. Immediately in
front of the sheet of falling water, on the American side, there was
also an enormous bank of snow, of nearly a hundred feet in height,
which the power of the sun had not been fierce enough to dissolve, and
which, by giving an Icelandic character to the landscape, produced a
fine effect. It appeared to me to owe its accumulation to the fallen
particles of frozen spray.

"What has been said by Goldsmith, and repeated by others, respecting
the destructive influence of the rapids above, to ducks and other
water-fowl, is only an effect of the imagination. So far from being the
case, the wild duck is often seen to swim down the rapid to the brink
of the Falls, and then fly out, and repeat the descent, seeming to take
a delight in the exercise. Neither are small land-birds affected on
flying over the Falls, in the manner that has been stated. I observed
the blue bird and the wren, which had already made their annual visit
to the banks of the Niagara, frequently fly within one or two feet of
the brink, apparently delighted with the gift of their wings, which
enabled them to sport over such frightful precipices, without danger."

                               PART II.

                          WONDERS OF THE SEA.



Your old friend Peter loves to talk about the sea. Ever since he was
a child, he loved everything belonging to the sea, and when he was
a young man he went many long voyages, and met with many strange
adventures, on the sea. Perhaps he did not find it quite so delightful
to be shut up in the narrow compass of a ship, during long voyages,
as he dreamt he should in his childhood. But he does not now regret
whatever labours or sufferings he may have endured, for the pleasure he
finds in telling you of them.

But I do not intend here to spin you a yarn (as the sailors say) about
myself, but merely to describe to you some of the wonderful things I
have seen during my voyages, that you may love and admire them.

You have never seen the sea frozen over in the same manner as you have
seen ponds and rivers in winter. The waters of the sea, everywhere,
contain a large portion of salt, as you know from their taste, and
this prevents them from freezing, except where it is very cold. It is
only near the poles of the earth that the ocean freezes, and there are
large masses of ice, both at the north and south poles, which are never
thawed, but stand as stedfast as the everlasting hills of granite.

Icebergs are large bodies of ice filling the valleys between the high
mountains in northern latitudes. Sometimes they get loosened from the
places where they were formed, by parts of them thawing, in seasons
which are less cold than usual, and then rush down towards the sea,
where they float about in all manner of fantastic and majestic forms.

[Illustration: _Icebergs._]

These icebergs are the creation of ages, and annually increase by the
falling of snows, and of rain, which instantly freezes, and more than
repairs the loss occasioned by the heat of the sun.

I must tell you a little about the way in which cold converts water
into ice.

Everything in nature is expanded or increased in bulk by heat. You
may see in a thermometer how the quick-silver or the coloured spirit
rises in the tube, because it expands when the instrument is in a
warm place, and how it sinks in a cold place. It is just the same with
solids and gases. This would seem to be a universal law of nature,
if it were not for the _single_ exception of water at the moment of
its freezing. If water is cooled down to the freezing point, it will
gradually diminish in bulk, but at the moment it turns into ice, it
seems to spring outward, and increases considerably. In this way
bottles are broken when the water in them freezes; and rocks are often
split open in the same manner when the cracks in them contain water.

You have seen that ice does not sink in water, but floats upon the
surface; this takes place, because from the circumstance which I have
told you, a certain quantity of ice by weight, occupies more space than
the same quantity of water. Now it is worth while for you to see how
wisely this is arranged, as it respects our own climate and country;
for if ice were to sink to the bottom, the lakes, and rivers, and
ponds, would become solid masses of ice during winter, which the sun's
rays would never thoroughly thaw in summer, because, after the surface
had been thawed, the rays would have to pass through the water to get
at the ice at the bottom, and thus our climate would be rendered very
much colder than it is at present, and perhaps the springs would not
circulate, so that we should often suffer from scarcity of water.

But when the salt water freezes, the ice is very porous, almost like a
honeycomb, so that it is much lighter than frozen fresh water, and is
very buoyant upon the sea, and stands out boldly to a great height, as
is represented in the cut of the Icebergs.

I will tell you of a perilous situation in which I was placed in my
younger days, when I went a voyage to Greenland in a whale ship. It was
at the end of the fishing season, and our ship was the last but one
of the oil traders left in those seas; we had been very unsuccessful,
having only taken five small whales, and we were anxious to amend our
ill luck by tarrying after all the other ships had sailed, in hopes
of better success. We were gently sailing about in search of whales
amidst the broken ice when there suddenly arose a rather brisk breeze,
at which time our ship was situated between two icebergs,--one of them
very high and resembling a lofty mountain, and the other considerably

Well, at the time the breeze sprung up, the large iceberg was to the
windward of us, that is, on that side from whence the wind blew, and
having a very large surface which caught the wind, it came sailing
towards us very fast.

The vast bulk of this iceberg sheltered the smaller one, which was
to the leeward of us, so that it did not move in the least, and we
who were between the two, were completely becalmed. The ship was not
advancing a knot in an hour, and we could do nothing whatever to help
ourselves. We were in the greatest dismay, and could only consider
the way in which we should meet our entire destruction. The larger
mountain of ice continued to bear down upon us, and in a few minutes
our vessel was crushed between it and the smaller one, as if it had
been put in a huge smith's vice.

Fortunately, however, for us, the two icebergs clung together, the
greater one impelling the lesser one forward, and we thus had time to
get out of the ship all our sea-chests, a large quantity of cordage,
nearly all our provisions, and everything portable; but the smaller
iceberg soon shifted round the large one and let our ship loose, which
instantly sank, and we, being on the small iceberg, were left floating
on the ocean with despair staring us in the face. Our despair, however,
was soon put to flight, for we perceived a ship at a short distance, to
which we made signal, and they came to our assistance.

But, now I come to a part of the event which I grieve to record.--The
captain and crew of the vessel which came to our succour, seeing that
we had no other alternative, thought they could make an easy prey of
us, and before they would consent to save us, required that we should
give up to them all the things which we had been enabled to rescue
from our wrecked ship!--In such circumstances you need not ask what
we did,--life is sweet, it is said, and the pitiless prospect of the
frozen regions around us, sharpened our appetite for the enjoyment of
it, and we surrendered all but the clothes in which we stood.

Shall I tell you the place where these savages came from? No. I will
only tell you that it lies in about 56 degrees North latitude, by 4-1/2
West longitude; you may, if you please, find its name by looking in the





The Esquimaux live in the most northern parts of America, where there
is hardly anything but ice and snow to be seen from year's end to
year's end. They build their houses of snow, and make their longest
journeys in sledges upon ice along the sea-shore.

You, who have been used to a very different kind of life, may wonder
how they can enjoy themselves, or even endure existence in such
inhospitable regions. But I can assure you they love their native
country so much, that they could by no means be happy out of it; and
their pleasures are real pleasures, though they would not be pleasures
to you. And thus you may learn that God wishes everybody to be happy,
and enables them to be so if they choose to act according to the light
which He has given them, and not be ever struggling for something which
they _cannot_, and therefore _ought_ not, to possess.

And not only do the natives of these frozen countries endure perpetual
frost and snow, but good men have chosen to go and live among them for
the purpose of teaching the natives the doctrines of Christianity.
I shall relate to you a most interesting narrative of some of these
men who were Moravians, and it will give you a better notion of the
character of these parts of the world, and of the sort of life men
lead in them, than anything I could you of my own, for the story is
extremely well told.

"Brother Samuel Liebisch was entrusted with the general care of the
brethren's missions on the coast of Labrador, and the duties of his
office required a visit to Okkak, the most northern of our settlements,
and about one hundred and fifty English miles distant from Nain, the
place where he resided. Brother William Turner being appointed to
accompany him, they left Nain on March the 11th, 1782, early in the
morning, with very clear weather, the stars shining with uncommon
lustre. The sledge was driven by the baptized Esquimaux Mark, and
another sledge with Esquimaux joined company.

"An Esquimaux sledge is drawn by a species of dogs, not unlike a wolf
in shape. Like them, they never bark, but howl disagreeably. They
are kept by the Esquimaux in greater or larger packs or teams, in
proportion to the affluence of the master. They quietly submit to be
harnessed for their work, and are treated with little mercy by the
heathen Esquimaux, who make them do hard duty for the small quantity
of food they allow them. This chiefly consists in offal, old skins,
entrails, such parts of whale-flesh as are unfit for other use, rotten
whale-fins, &c., and if they are not provided with this kind of dogs'
meat, they leave them to go and seek dead fish or muscles upon the


"When pinched with hunger they will swallow almost anything, and on
a journey it is necessary to secure the harness within the snow-house
over night, lest by devouring it, they should render it impossible
to proceed in the morning. When the travellers arrive at their
night-quarters, and the dogs are unharnessed, they are left to burrow
in the snow, where they please, and in the morning are sure to come
at their driver's call, when they receive some food. Their strength
and speed, even with an hungry stomach, is astonishing. In fastening
them to the sledge, care is taken not to let them go abreast. They are
tied by separate thongs, of unequal lengths, to an horizontal bar on
the fore-part of the sledge; an old knowing one leads the way, running
ten or twenty paces ahead, directed by the driver's whip, which is of
great length, and can be well managed only by an Esquimaux. The other
dogs follow like a flock of sheep. If one of them receives a lash, he
generally bites his neighbour, and the bite goes round.

[Illustration: PLATE XII.


"To return to our travellers: the two sledges contained five men, one
woman, and a child. All were in good spirits, and appearances being
much in their favour, they hoped to reach Okkak in safety in two or
three days. The tract over the frozen sea was in the best possible
order, and they went with ease at the rate of six or seven miles an
hour. After they had passed the islands in the bay of Nain, they kept
at a considerable distance from the coast, both to gain the smoothest
part of the ice, and to weather the high rocky promontory of Kiglapeit.


"About eight o'clock they met a sledge with Esquimaux turning in from
the sea. After the usual salutation, the Esquimaux alighting, held
some conversation, as is their general practice, the result of which
was, that some hints were thrown out by the strange Esquimaux, that it
might be better to return. However, as the missionaries saw no reason
whatever for it, and only suspected that the Esquimaux wished to enjoy
the company of their friends a little longer, they proceeded.

"After some time their own Esquimaux hinted that there was a ground
swell under the ice. It was then hardly perceptible, except on lying
down and applying the ear close to the ice, when a hollow disagreeable
grating and roaring noise was heard, as if ascending from the abyss.
The weather remained clear, except towards the east, where a bank of
light clouds appeared, interspersed with some dark streaks. But the
wind being strong from the North-west, nothing less than a sudden
change of weather was expected.

"The sun had now reached its height, and there was as yet little or
no alteration in the appearance of the sky. But the motion of the sea
under the ice had grown more perceptible, so as rather to alarm the
travellers, and they began to think it prudent to keep closer to the
shore. The ice had cracks and large fissures in many places, some
of which formed chasms of one or two feet wide; but as they are not
uncommon even in its best state, and the dogs easily leap over them,
the sledge following without danger, they are only terrible to new

"As soon as the sun declined towards the west, the wind increased and
rose to a storm, the bank of clouds from the east began to ascend, and
the dark streaks to put themselves in motion against the wind. The snow
was violently driven about by partial whirlwinds, both on the ice, and
from off the peaks of the high mountains and filled the air. At the
same time the ground swell had increased so much, that its effect upon
the ice became very extraordinary and alarming. The sledges, instead
of gliding along smoothly upon an even surface, sometimes ran with
violence after the dogs, and shortly after seemed with difficulty to
ascend the rising hill, for the elasticity of so vast a body of ice, of
many leagues square, supported by a troubled sea, though in some places
three or four yards in thickness, would, in some degree, occasion an
undulatory motion not unlike that of a sheet of paper accommodating
itself to the surface of a rippling stream. Noises were now likewise
distinctly heard in many directions, like the report of cannon, owing
to the bursting of the ice at some distance.

"The Esquimaux therefore drove with all haste towards the shore,
intending to take up their night-quarters on the south side of the
Nivak. But as it plainly appeared that the ice would break and disperse
in the open sea, Mark advised to push forward to the north of the
Nivak, from whence he hoped the track to Okkak might still remain

"To this proposal the company agreed, but when the sledges approached
the coast, the prospect before them was truly terrific. The ice
having broken loose from the rocks, was forced up and down, grinding
and breaking into a thousand pieces against the precipices, with a
tremendous noise, which added to the raging of the wind, and the snow
driving about in the air, deprived the travellers almost of the power
of hearing and seeing anything distinctly.

"To make the land at any risk, was now the only hope left, but it was
with the utmost difficulty the frightened dogs could be forced forward,
the whole body of ice sinking frequently below the surface of the
rocks, then rising above it. As the only moment to land was that, when
it gained the level of the coast, the attempt was extremely nice and
hazardous. However, by God's mercy, it succeeded; both sledges gained
the shore, and were drawn up the beach with much difficulty.

"The travellers had hardly time to reflect with gratitude to God on
their safety, when that part of the ice from which they had just now
made good their landing burst asunder, and the water forcing itself
from below, covered and precipitated it into the sea. In an instant,
as if by a signal given, the whole mass of ice, extending for several
miles from the coast, and as far as the eye could reach, began to burst
and be overwhelmed by the immense waves towering above.

"The sight was tremendous and awfully grand; the large fields of ice,
raising themselves out of the water, striking against each other, and
plunging into the deep with a violence not to be described, and a noise
like the discharge of innumerable batteries of heavy guns. The darkness
of the night, the roaring of the wind and sea, and the dashing of the
waves and ice against the rocks, filled the travellers with sensations
of awe and horror, so as almost to deprive them of the power of
utterance. They stood overwhelmed with astonishment at their miraculous
escape, and even the heathen Esquimaux expressed gratitude to God for
their deliverance.

"The Esquimaux now began to build a snow-house, about thirty paces from
the beach; but before they had finished their work, the waves reached
the place where the sledges were secured, and they were with difficulty
saved from being washed into the sea.


"About nine o'clock all of them crept into the snow-house, thanking
God for this place of refuge; for the wind was piercingly cold and so
violent, that it required great strength to be able to stand against it.

"Before they entered this habitation, they could not help once more
turning to the sea, which was now free from ice, and beheld with
horror, mingled with gratitude, the enormous waves, driving furiously
before the wind, like huge castles, and approaching the shore, where
with dreadful noise, they dashed against the rocks, foaming and filling
the air with the spray. The whole company now got their supper, and
having sung an evening hymn in the Esquimaux language, lay down to rest
about ten o'clock. They lay so close, that if any one stirred, his
neighbours were roused by it.

"The Esquimaux were soon fast asleep, but brother Liebisch could not
get any rest, partly on account of the dreadful roaring of the wind and
sea, and partly owing to a sore throat, which gave him great pain. Both
missionaries were also much engaged in their minds in contemplating
the dangerous situations into which they had been brought, and amidst
all thankfulness for their great deliverance from immediate death,
could not but cry unto their Heavenly Father for his help in this time
of need.

"The wakefulness of the missionaries proved the deliverance of the
whole party from sudden destruction. About two o'clock in the morning,
brother Liebisch perceived some salt water to drop from the roof of the
snow-house upon his lips. Though rather alarmed on tasting the salt,
which could not proceed from a common spray, he kept quiet, till the
same dropping being more frequently repeated, just as he was about to
give the alarm, on a sudden a tremendous surf broke close to the house,
discharging a quantity of water into it; a second soon followed, and
carried away the slab of snow placed as a door before the entrance. The
missionaries immediately called aloud to the sleeping Esquimaux, to
rise and quit the place. They jumped up in an instant, one of them with
a large knife cut a passage through the side of the house, and each
seizing some part of the baggage, it was thrown out upon a higher part
of the beach, brother Turner assisting the Esquimaux. Brother Liebisch
and the woman and child fled to a neighbouring eminence. The latter
were wrapt up by the Esquimaux in a large skin, and the former took
shelter behind a rock, for it was impossible to stand against the wind,
snow, and sleet. Scarcely had the company retreated to the eminence
when an enormous wave carried away the whole house, but nothing of
consequence was lost."




"They now found themselves a second time delivered from the most
imminent danger of death; but the remaining part of the night,
before the Esquimaux could seek and find another more safe place
for a snow-house, were hours of great trial to mind and body, and
filled every one with painful reflections. Before the day dawned, the
Esquimaux cut a hole into a large drift of snow, to screen the woman
and child, and the two missionaries.

"Brother Liebisch, however, could not bear the closeness of the air,
and was obliged to sit down at the entrance, where the Esquimaux
covered him with skins, to keep him warm, as the pain in his throat was
very great.

"As soon as it was light, they built another snow-house, and miserable
as such an accommodation is at all times, they were glad and thankful
to creep into it. It was about eight feet square and six or seven feet
high. They now congratulated each other on their deliverance, but found
themselves in a very bad plight.

"The missionaries had taken but a small stock of provisions with them,
merely sufficient for the short journey to Okkak. Joel, his wife and
child, and Kassigiak, the sorcerer, had nothing at all. They were
obliged, therefore, to divide the small stock into daily portions,
especially as there appeared no hopes of soon quitting this place and
reaching any dwellings. Only two ways were left for this purpose,
either to attempt the land passage across the wild and unfrequented
mountain Kiglapeit, or wait for a new ice track over the sea, which it
might require much time to form; they therefore resolved to serve out
no more than a biscuit and a half per day.

"But as this would not by any means satisfy an Esquimaux's stomach, the
missionaries offered to give one of their dogs to be killed for them,
on condition, that in case distress obliged them to resort again to
that expedient, the next dog killed should be one of the Esquimaux's
team. They replied that they should be glad of it, if they had a kettle
to boil the flesh in, but as that was not the case, they must even
suffer hunger, for they could not, even now, eat dogs' flesh in its raw
state. The missionaries now remained in the snow-house, and every day
endeavoured to boil so much water over their lamp, as might serve for
two dishes of coffee a-piece. Through mercy, they were preserved in
good health, and brother Liebisch quite unexpectedly recovered on the
first day of his sore throat. The Esquimaux also kept up their spirits,
and even the rough heathen Kassigiak declared, that it was proper to
be thankful that they were still alive, adding, that if they had
remained a very little longer upon the ice yesterday, all their bones
would have been broken to pieces in a short time. He had, however,
his heels frozen, and suffered considerable pain. In the evening, the
missionaries sung an hymn with the Esquimaux, and continued to do it
every morning and evening. God was present with them, and comforted
their hearts by his peace.

"Towards noon of the thirteenth, the weather cleared up and the sea
was seen, as far as the eye could reach, quite freed from ice. Mark
and Joel went up the hills to reconnoitre, and returned with the
disagreeable news that not a morsel of ice was to be seen even from
thence, in any direction, and that it had even been forced away from
the coast at Nuasornak. They were, therefore, of opinion, that we could
do nothing but force our way across the mountain Kiglapeit.

"To-day Kassigiak complained much of hunger, probably to obtain from
the missionaries a larger portion than the common allowance. They
represented to him, that they had no more themselves, and reproved him
for his impatience. Whenever the victuals were distributed, he always
swallowed his portion very greedily, and put out his hand for what he
saw the missionaries had left, but was easily kept from any further
attempt by serious reproof.

"The Esquimaux eat to-day an old sack made of fish-skin, which proved
indeed a dry and miserable dish. While they were at this singular
meal, they kept repeating, in a low humming tone, 'you was a sack but
a little while ago, and now you are food for us.' Towards evening
some flakes of ice were discovered driving towards the coast, and on
the fourteenth in the morning, the sea was covered with them. But the
weather was again very strong, and the Esquimaux could not quit the
snow-house, which made them very low spirited and melancholy. Kassigiak
suggested, that it would be well to attempt to make good weather, by
which he meant to practise his art, as a sorcerer, to make the weather

"The missionaries opposed it, and told him that his heathenish
practices were of no use, but that the weather would become favourable
as soon as it should please God. Kassigiak then asked, whether _Jesus_
could make good weather. He was told, that to _Jesus_ was given all
power in heaven and earth; upon which he demanded, that he should
be applied to. Another time he said, I shall tell my countrymen at
Seglek. The missionaries replied. 'Tell them that in the midst of this
affliction, we placed our only hope and trust in Jesus Christ our
Saviour, who loves all mankind, and has shed his blood to redeem them
from eternal misery.'

"To-day the Esquimaux began to eat an old, filthy, and worn-out skin,
which had served them for a mattress.

"On the fifteenth the weather continued extremely boisterous, and the
Esquimaux appeared every now and then to sink under disappointment.
But they possess one good quality, namely, a power of going to sleep
when they please, and, if need be, they will sleep for days and nights

"In the evening the sky became clear, and their hopes revived. Mark
and Joel went out to reconnoitre, and brought word that the ice had
acquired a considerable degree of solidity, and might soon be fit for
use. The poor dogs had, meanwhile, fasted for nearly four days, but
now in the prospect of a speedy release, the missionaries allowed to
each a few morsels of food. The temperature of the air having been
rather mild, it occasioned a new source of distress, for by the warm
exhalations of the inhabitants, the roof of the snow-house got to be in
a melting state; which occasioned a continual dropping, and by degrees
made every thing soaking wet. The missionaries report, that they
considered this the greatest hardship they had to endure, for they had
not a dry thread about them, nor a dry place to lie down in.

"On the sixteenth early, the sky cleared, but the fine particles of
snow were driven about like clouds. Joel and Kassigiak resolved to
pursue their journey to Okkak, by the way of Nuasornak, and set out,
with the wind and snow full in their faces. Mark could not resolve to
proceed farther north, because, in his opinion, the violence of the
wind had driven the ice off the coast at Tikkerasuk, so as to render it
impossible to land; but he thought he might yet proceed to the south
with safety, and get round Kiglapeit. The missionaries endeavoured to
persuade him to follow the above mentioned company to Okkak, but it was
in vain; and they did not feel at liberty to insist upon it, not being
sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances. Their present distress
dictated the necessity of venturing something to reach the habitations
of men, and yet they were rather afraid of passing over the newly
frozen sea under Kiglapeit, and could not immediately determine what to
do. Brother Turner therefore went again with Mark to examine the ice,
and both seemed satisfied that it would hold. They therefore came at
last to a resolution to return to Nain.

"On the seventeenth, the wind had considerably increased, with heavy
showers of snow and sleet, but they set off at half-past ten o'clock in
the afternoon. Mark ran all the way round Kiglapeit, before the sledge,
that he might find a good track, and about one o'clock, they were quite
out of danger and reached the bay. Here they found a good track upon
smooth ice, made a meal of the remnant of their provisions, and got
some warm coffee. Thus refreshed, they resolved to proceed without
stopping, till they reached Nain, where they arrived at twelve o'clock
at night.

"The brethren at Nain rejoiced exceedingly to see them return, for by
several hints of the Esquimaux, who first met them going out to sea,
and who then in their own obscure way, had endeavoured to warn them
of their danger of the ground-swell, but had not been attended to,
their fellow-missionaries, and especially their wives, had been much
terrified. One of these Esquimaux, whose wife had made some article of
dress for brother Liebisch, whom they called Samuel, addressed her in
the following manner:--'I should be glad of the payment for my wife's
work.' 'Wait a little,' answered sister Liebisch, 'and when my husband
returns he will settle with you, for I am unacquainted with the bargain
made between you.' 'Samuel and William,' replied the Esquimaux, 'will
not return any more to Nain.' 'How not return! what makes you say so?'
After some pause the Esquimaux replied in a low tone, 'Samuel and
William are no more! all their bones are broken, and in the stomachs of
the sharks.'

"Terrified at this alarming account, sister Liebisch called in the
rest of the family, and the Esquimaux was examined as to his meaning;
but his answers were little less obscure. He seemed so certain of the
destruction of the missionaries, that he was with difficulty prevailed
on to wait some time for their return. He could not believe that they
could have escaped the effects of so furious a tempest, considering the
course they were taking.

"It may easily be conceived, with what gratitude to God the whole
family at Nain bid them welcome. During the storm, they had considered
with some dread, what might be the fate of their brethren, though at
Nain its violence was not felt so much as on a coast, unprotected by
any islands. Added to this, the hints of the Esquimaux had considerably
increased their apprehensions for their safety, and their fears began
to get the better of their hopes. All therefore joined most fervently
in praise and thanksgiving to God, for this signal deliverance."



It seems strange that the largest animal in nature should live in
these regions, where you would think everything must be starved by the
cold. But so it is, and it should lead you to reflect, how wonderfully
the principle which animates living beings, by the outward form and
constitution which it gives to the bodies of animals, adapts them to
support the various circumstances in which they are placed.

There are many kinds of whale which all agree in these particulars.
They are very much larger than any other creatures existing; they live
in the sea and yet suckle their young with milk, and have warm blood
and lungs like land animals, so that they can only breathe by putting
their heads above water. Some people have doubted whether it was proper
to call the whale a fish, but on the whole it is certainly more like
fishes than it is like any other of the great divisions of animals,
seeing that it swims with fins, and cannot live out of the water.


The Greenland whale (naturalists call it _Balena Mysticetus_,) is the
most important of the varieties, as it is the one which produces train
oil in the largest quantities, and whalebone. In common with all the
others, it is a most awkward looking creature. Here is a picture of
one. Its usual length is from 40 to 60 feet; and the circumference of
its body about 40. It not unfrequently weighs 60 or 70 tons, which is
more than the weight of 180 fat oxen.

The tail is commonly about 6 feet long, and 25 feet wide. It lies flat
upon the water, and is what the creature principally uses in swimming,
for the fins near the head appear to be used merely to keep the body
steady in the water. It is also a weapon of defence, and possesses
prodigious strength, as you shall hear by and by.

The inside of the mouth is, perhaps, the most wonderful part of the
whale, both from its size and construction. I was once in one, which
was 15 feet in length and 7 feet wide.

It is from the mouth that the _Whalebone_, as it is called, comes.
The jaws are not furnished with teeth, but in their place there is
something which forms a curious sort of shrimp-trap, which I will
describe to you. The whalebone is ranged along in blades upon the jaws,
like the laths of a Venetian blind, and the inner edge of each blade
is furnished with a fringe of fibrous stuff almost like hair.

The natural position of the whale's mouth seems to be open, and it
mostly swims along or lies near the surface, with its lower jaw hanging
down. Little fish and insects, most of them of the smallest size,
thus come in contact with the smooth edge of the blades of bone, slip
between them, and become entangled in the hairy fringe of the inner
edge, so that they can never get out again. When the whale thinks he
has got enough in his mouth, he immediately raises his enormous lower
jaw and swallows. One of his mouthfuls must often consist of millions
of living creatures, respecting the kinds of which I shall have
something to tell you in a future page.

I told you that he was obliged to rise to the surface of the water to
breathe. You would like to see him ascend for this purpose, and snort
out a jet of thick vapour to the height of twenty feet, or more, and
making such a noise, as may be heard at a distance of several miles.


Under the skin, all over the body, there is a covering of yellowish
fat of about a foot thick, which keeps the animal warm, answering the
same purpose as the fur does on land animals. It is necessary, because
the whale is not cold in the inside like other fish, but has warm,
red blood, which is of a higher temperature even than that of a human
being. This is another circumstance which becomes the more remarkable
from the cold climate in which he lives.

This fat is generally called blubber, and is what the oil comes from.
When first it is taken from the whale, it has not the least unpleasant
smell, and it is not till the cargo is unstowed that a whale ship is at
all disagreeable.

The largest sort of whale is called the _razor back_, from a ridge that
runs along his back. They are often 100 feet in length. I never saw one
of these taken, but the sailors told me that they were very difficult
to come near, and after all, not worth the trouble of killing, for they
have very little blubber.

Then there is the Cachalot, or Sperm Whale, which is smaller, and much
more slender than the common whale. It has teeth, and is of a very
quarrelsome temper. It often fights with its own kind, and I have seen
several of them which had been wounded in the jaws, and made blind by
such conflicts. It is from the head of this animal that spermaceti is

A number of vessels are sent out every year to catch these great
creatures, and this is the way in which they manage their work. Every
vessel is furnished with five or six boats which are hung on the sides
of the vessel in such a way as to be easily lowered into the water on
the shortest notice. One or two of the boats are usually kept upon the
look out, in each of which there is a harpoon attached to a rope above
700 feet in length, and about as thick as a man's thumb. This is the
shape of the harpoon.


When they see a whale showing himself above the surface of the water,
the man who is to throw the harpoon, stations himself at the bow, and
the rest pull away as fast as they are able till they approach the
whale as near as possible, and this is often to within a very short
distance in consequence of his being slower of hearing than most other

The harpooner then throws the harpoon with all his might, and if he
is lucky, it goes through the poor creature's skin and blubber, into
his flesh. The moment he feels the wound, he mostly sinks to a great
depth, and drags out the line which is carefully coiled at the bottom
of the boat, at a tremendous rate. One man stands by with a mop to keep
the edge of the boat over which the rope runs constantly wet, lest
the friction should set the boat on fire, and another holds a hatchet
ready to chop it in two in case it should become entangled. If it goes
out smoothly, they add lines as long as they are necessary: and on
one occasion, for a whale which was very refractory, Captain Scoresby
actually joined together three miles and three quarters of rope, the
weight of which was nearly two tons! Was not this a great fishing-line?

As soon as the whale is struck, they hoist a flag, and the men who are
in the ship, and constantly upon the look out, immediately come to
their assistance. If the signal is made when any of them are asleep, up
they come with their clothes under their arms, and dress afterwards
as they can, for not a moment is to be lost. This is no joke, when the
cold is more than thirty degrees below the freezing point.


However, they are obliged to go; and as many boats as there may be,
then watch anxiously for the re-appearance of the whale on the surface.
As soon as he shows himself, the men of the other boats immediately
strike their harpoons into him, and so secure him till he is faint from
loss of blood, and at last comes up to the surface, spouting out blood
mixed with the vapour from his nostrils. They then despatch him with an
instrument called a lance, and the great carcass rolls over upon its
back. It is afterwards lashed by strong ropes to the side of the ship,
and the blubber is cut up into lumps of convenient size, and stowed in

It occasionally happens, after the harpooner has thrown his weapon,
that the creature in agony, flaps about his tail with tremendous
violence before he goes down. Many boats have been upset in this
manner, and Captain Scoresby relates an instance of a boat being dashed
completely in two.

Some people have thought the whale a very stupid creature, but there
does not seem much ground for this notion, though we can never be in a
condition to see much of its instinctive wisdom. As far as we can see,
it is the very best thing it could do when struck by the harpoon, to
go downwards as it does; and this seems to prove that it has quite its
share of intelligence; and it is still more remarkable, that if a mass
of ice be near when it is pursued, either before or after it has been
struck, it gets under it as quickly as possible, and often thus baffles
its pursuers.

But the most interesting thing in the character of the whale is, its
extreme love for its offspring, and a cruel use is often made by the
whalers of this beautiful disposition. They often strike a _cub_ or
_sucker_, as they call the young whales, which would not be worth
taking itself, because they know its mother will instantly expose
herself to an attack in its defence. You shall hear what Captain
Scoresby says on this, "When the young whale is struck, its mother
joins it at the surface of the water, whenever it has occasion to
rise for respiration; encourages it to swim off; assists its flight,
by taking it under her fin; and seldom deserts it while life remains.
She is then dangerous to approach; but affords frequent opportunities
for attack. She loses all regard for her own safety, in anxiety for
the preservation of her young;--dashes through the midst of her
enemies;--despises the danger that threatens her;--and even voluntarily
remains with her offspring, after various attacks on herself from the
harpoons of the fishers. In June 1811, one of my harpooners struck a
sucker, with the hope of its leading to the capture of the mother.
Presently she arose close by the 'fast-boat;' and seizing the young
one, dragged about a hundred fathoms of line out of the boat with
remarkable force and velocity. Again she arose to the surface; darted
furiously to and fro; frequently stopped short, or suddenly changed her
direction, and gave every possible intimation of extreme agony. For a
length of time she continued thus to act, though closely pursued by the
boats; and, inspired with courage and resolution by her concern for her
offspring, seemed regardless of the danger which surrounded her. At
length, one of the boats approached so near, that a harpoon was hove at
her. It hit, but did not attach itself. A second harpoon was struck;
this also failed to penetrate: but a third was more effectual, and
held. Still she did not attempt to escape, but allowed other boats to
approach; so that, in a few minutes, three more harpoons were fastened;
and, in the course of an hour afterwards, she was killed."



To you, my little friends, who have always lived in a climate in which
it seems as if the wind changed, and it became sun-shiny or cloudy, wet
or dry, cold or hot, without any law or regularity, it is something
strange to hear of places where the inhabitants know almost to a day
that the wind will blow constantly in one direction during so many
months in the year, and constantly in some other direction during the
rest: and where, with equal certainty, they know when to expect rain
and when fine weather.

The truth is, our changeable weather is under the influence of laws
quite as certain and fixed as their uniform weather is, only that there
are more partial causes operating in our climate, so that the effects
are not so strictly periodical. We know as little about the way in
which the laws operate in one case, as in the other.

The winds that always blow in one direction are called the Trade Winds,
and those which blow in one direction regularly during a certain
portion of the year, are called monsoons. They make navigation in some
parts of the ocean, very certain, and you cannot think how odd it seems
to a young sailor the first time he sails in them. He leads then a
lazy sort of life; there is no tacking about, but day after day he has
nothing to do but just such things as might be done on land.

When the sailors of Columbus first found themselves in the Trade Wind
blowing from the eastward, having sailed before it for many days, they
gave themselves up to despair, because they thought they should never
be able to make their way back against it to their dear native country.
They did not know that it would by and by blow quite as certainly in
another direction.

These uniform winds blow only within a certain distance of the equator,
and the cause of them is this. The heat of the climate there occasions
the air next to the surface of the earth to be always ascending, and
other air rushes in from other parts of the world to supply its place.
The motion of the earth upon its axis operates with this, by bringing
the parts of its surface successively in contact with any certain point
in the atmosphere, which does not revolve so rapidly as the earth
itself, and a fixed direction is thus given to the wind.

But it is still much more dull to find one's self in a calm on a
tropical sea. Only imagine to yourselves a stagnant and shoreless
sea, often with unsightly masses of sea-weed floating on it, a sky
constantly of a gloomy-looking red, and nothing to be seen day after
day except this sky and sea; insupportable thirst and bad water to
quench it, and the ship all the time rocking to and fro with a nasty
dull motion, and the ropes and sails idly flapping against the mast and

But though I have seen and felt all this, I cannot describe it to you
so well as the poet, so I will give you his words.

   "Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
      'Twas sad as sad could be,
    And we did speak only to break
      The silence of the sea.

    "All in a hot and copper sky,
      The bloody sun at noon,
    Right up above the mast did stand
      No bigger than the moon.

    "Day after day, day after day,
      We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
    As idle as a painted ship
      Upon a painted ocean.

    "Water, water, everywhere,
      And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, everywhere,
      Nor any drop to drink."



Well! one morning when we were only a few leagues off the West Coast of
Africa, to the South of the Cape Verd Islands, we thought we were going
to have just such a calm as the poet has described. There had been a
violent storm during the night, but every breath of wind had died away,
and left a long sleepy swell upon the sea.

About nine o'clock, we noticed a cloud rising, or rather seeming to
form, at some distance from us, and just below it a white spot of foam
appeared on the surface of the water, and the waves raged over a little
round space in a way that made me feel I don't know how, for I had
never seen such a thing before. The cloud grew blacker and blacker, and
presently seemed to move down towards the sea and swell out in the same
direction, as if to provoke the waves below, which seemed straining up
towards it.

[Illustration: PLATE XIII.


There suddenly seemed to grow out of the middle of the spot of waves,
a complete pillar of water of a tapering shape, and at the same moment
the lower part of the cloud seemed to condense and turn to water, and
shot downwards in a cone to meet it. They united and formed one pillar,
almost as distinct as if it had been of ice instead of water. You will
see a correct representation of this in the picture.

The size at the base must have been very large, not less than 250 feet
in diameter, but it tapered off so much that at the middle it was not
more than three or four feet. Above the middle it increased in size,
and its solidity seemed to get gradually less till it ended in a great
black cloud. Its height might have been about 700 feet.

Its form changed considerably. It generally seemed as if it was
composed of water sucked upwards in a spiral direction, and looked
almost like a great cable; but now and then it looked like a simple
hollow tube.

Sometimes it inclined a little one way, and then another; and sometimes
it was very considerably bent, and then suddenly straightened itself

When the ship was nearest to it, we heard a noise from it like the
rushing of a waterfall, and before it was over, heavy rain came on with
lightning, but no thunder. The wind all the time was very unsteady,
though it was not violent.

While we were looking at it, two smaller ones formed at some distance
under very nearly the same circumstances. One of them stood quite still
for some seconds, and then disappeared; but the other moved steadily on
in a straight line, for several minutes.

The great one continued moving also very slowly for nearly half an
hour, and then seemed to snap in two, and one half sank rapidly into
the sea, as if it had been unhooked from above, and the other half
remained hanging from the cloud for some time, and then curled upwards
and disappeared, throwing down a heavy torrent of rain.

I have seen many water-spouts since, in my voyages over the great
ocean, but have never been so struck with the appearance of any one as
of this.

There is a common notion that a cannon fired at a water-spout, will
disperse it by making a great concussion of the air; but I do not
think that this is true, unless the water-spout be very small. At all
events, it was not true in this case, for we fired right at the large
one several times, and it took no effect except in splashing the water
about as the ball went through.

It is also generally imagined that they are very dangerous to ships,
and if they come close, that they throw such a quantity of water into
them as to sink them. I have somewhere read an account of a vessel
having once been put in danger by one off the Coast of Guinea, and two
or three of the men being washed overboard, and I once saw the sails
and deck of a vessel, made very wet by a small one, myself. But my own
opinion is, that there is not much to be dreaded from them, for they
are not a solid mass of water, but merely condensed vapour in the form
of a tube, with a hollow space in the middle. And I think if you were
right under one of them, it would be no worse than rain descending in
very large drops.


Once I saw a much smaller water-spout on land. It was a gusty, cloudy
day, and the wind had changed several times, when a dark cloud at some
distance from where I was, extended downwards till it came nearly to a

It seemed to reach about three-fourths of the distance from the cloud
to the ground, and moved along slowly for about ten minutes. When I
afterwards made inquiry of the people over whose houses it passed, they
told me that it had let fall in its progress a tremendous quantity of
rain, so as considerably to injure several houses.


I suppose you would now like me to tell you how water-spouts are
caused. I wish I could, for your sakes; and, besides, I should very
much like to know myself. I have, however, a tolerable guess upon the
subject, and that I will tell you of.

I dare say you have often seen little eddies of wind which take up
dust, straw, and other light substances, and carry them up, twirling
them round in a spiral direction like a cork-screw.

When these occur on a larger scale, they are called whirlwinds, and are
often very destructive in their effects, unroofing houses, and doing
various other mischief. They are sometimes occasioned by draughts of
air being disturbed in their course by mountains or hills, and meeting
each other. But the largest are caused by two or more currents of wind,
produced by what ordinarily influences the direction of the wind,
meeting from different quarters, and then twisting round each other
just as two strings, with weights at their ends, would do if you swung
them forcibly together so as to meet about the middle.

A whirlwind occurred some years ago, near where I was living; it lasted
about ten minutes, and produced some very curious effects. It first met
with a milk-maid, who was carrying a pail of milk upon her head, and
tore off her bonnet along with the pail, and carried both to a great
distance, where they were not found till some days afterwards. It next
twisted a wagon in pieces, and blew most of the fragments over a wall;
it unroofed a house, and carried some of the tiles to a great distance;
next it dashed through the window of the room where I was sitting,
swept all the ornaments off the mantelpiece, and made strange havock
with some of the furniture. It then passed on to a neighbouring park,
where it tore up several trees. The wind had not been extremely violent
before, neither was it immediately afterwards.

Suppose a cloud happens to be exactly in the point of union of two
currents of wind, meeting as they did in this whirlwind, it then
becomes twisted in along with them, and partially condensed; and if
it is over the land, this is all that seems necessary to form the

And if it happens to be over the sea, the wind, as it eddies round,
works up the waves into a ferment, and much spray and foam is produced,
which is twisted in with the whirlwind in the same manner as the cloud,
and carried upwards to meet it.

Whether this is just the way in which the thing takes place, or not,
it is pretty certain that the water-spout is caused by the meeting of
winds from various quarters, from what Dr. Franklin tells us in one of
his letters which I read the other day. He says that a sailor informed
him that he was in one of three vessels which chanced to be placed as
at the three corners of a triangle; a water-spout was formed between
them which seemed to be to the leeward of each of them.


The cut will enable you to understand what I mean. The star in the
middle represents the water-spout, and the three arrows the directions
in which each of the three vessels found the wind come, which shows
that three diverse currents of air all set towards the water-spout.



When we were sailing through the Pacific Ocean, I saw a great many
coral reefs and islands; and perhaps there is hardly one of the
wonderful things which I have seen in my travels, that I remember with
more pleasure, or love more to think about, so I shall be glad to tell
you all I know of them.

You are acquainted with the appearance of Coral, as you have often seen
pieces of it in cabinets, and employed as ornaments; and you therefore
know that it always abounds with little holes, but its form, and the
shape of these holes, vary considerably. Some of it occurs in branches,
like the branches of trees, and in consequence of this, and because
it was known to increase in size from time to time, it was taken for a
marine plant, before its nature was fully investigated. The openings
in this sort are placed in the form of stars, as you will see in this
little piece of one of the branches magnified.



Sometimes it is in large roundish masses, called brain stones, from its
resemblance to the brain of an animal; the openings are then long holes
placed in two rows between high ridges, like this.


And a third form is found consisting of thin pieces, thinner than
writing paper, placed on edge, spreading out from a centre, or from a
line down the middle of a long strip, and the openings are then plain
deep furrows, running from the middle to the outside.


There is also the precious red Coral of which beads and other trinkets
are made, found principally in the Mediterranean Sea, and several other
sorts, more or less rare. But what I have described to you are the

This curious substance extends over hundreds of miles in various parts
of the Tropical Seas, in islands of different forms. But before I
describe these to you, I must tell you what is known respecting the
little animals by which it is manufactured, for it is proved to be the
work of certain kinds of the little creatures called Polypes.


The Polypes are a kind of animals apparently of very simple structure,
without bones, or shells, or heads, or brains. They have very large
mouths surrounded by a great number of _tentacula_, or feelers, which
are threads of flesh possessing the sense of touch in great perfection;
and to these _tentacula_ they owe the name _Polypes_, which comes from
two Greek words signifying _many feet_. The ancient naturalists who
named them, I suppose did not know but that they were feet.

[Illustration: PLATE XIV.


If this was the case, they were not, however, quite right. Most kinds
of Polypes very seldom move from one place to another in any way,
but stick themselves upon a rock by means of the flat part of their
bodies, and there remain; and when they let go they generally suffer
themselves to be washed by the waves to some other place, where they
can conveniently fix again. If you have ever been at Brighton, or
at any other places by the sea side, for any length of time, I dare
say you have seen the _sea anemones_, or _sea flowers_, as they are
called, carried round by the fish people to show to their customers;
or possibly you may have seen them in the holes on the rocks. They are
proper Polypes, and the scientific name of them is _Actiniæ_. As they
lead their lazy lives as if they were rooted in the rock, when they are
hungry they spread out their tentacula to catch any little insects or
minute fish, such as crabs and shrimps, which may come in their way.
The instant they feel anything, they close in all their tentacula with
surprising force. It is worth while to put one's finger just in the
centre of one of these "flowers," to feel how strongly they can draw
anything in. I have seen one suck in a little crab half as large as its
own body, in this manner.

When closed up they look an insensible lump of pulpy flesh, but when
their fringe of tentacula is expanded, they are very beautiful indeed,
and exhibit various rich colours. You may see them in each state in the
plate (fig. 1.), where one is represented closed up, and two are open.

If one of these curious creatures is cut into several pieces in certain
directions, each piece will become an animal. You will say that this
seems more like a plant which is propagated by cuttings, than a proper
animal. But for all this, and although it only appears to possess
the same sort of sensibility, in regard to light and touch, as some
plants do, I can give you a very good reason for its being considered
as an animal,--it can move itself according to its own _will_, and
in choosing the time in which it moves, it exhibits instinctive
intelligence. When it finds its little inch of rock in any respect
inconvenient from its being too high above low water mark, or not
sufficiently in the way of the little creatures on which it wants to
satisfy its appetite, it sucks in a great quantity of water, and swells
itself out so as to become nearly as light as the water, and then
looses its hold and continues to float about till it comes in contact
with some more convenient home. When I first saw them thus full of
water, and carried about by the waves, I thought they were dead.

Now the coral builders are all of the same general character as the
Actiniæ, in the construction of their bodies, their various colours,
great mouths surrounded by feelers, and habits of taking their meals.
But besides their being such wonderful architects, they differ from the
English creature in being very sociable, and living together in immense
companies. When you read of the Pyramids of Egypt, or of any other
great structures, you may justly think them wonderful proofs of what
the labours of many men may do when directed to a single object; but
here you have not houses, pyramids, cities, nor even mere islands, but
whole continents constructed by the combined labours of little insects.

I cannot tell you, neither can any one else, in what manner these
little workmen perform their work. It is only certain that they have
some faculty by which they appropriate the particles of carbonate of
lime contained in the sea water, and dispose them in the various forms
I have mentioned to you. When the coral is in progress, it is coated
with a soft gluey sort of substance, and over the star-like clusters
of openings, there may be seen, when the creatures are hungry, little
rosettes of tentacula, more beautiful than you can conceive.

In fig. 2 of the plate, you may see some of these animals showing their
rich rosettes on a piece of branch coral, such as is represented in the
first wood cut, page 204.

There is another sort of branch coral, where the animal always lives at
the end of the branch, the whole of which it has to itself, and will
then spread out its tentacula in a star on the extremity, as you may
see in figs. 3 and 4.

In fig. 5, you may see one of the animals which construct the sort of
coral represented in the cut, page 205.

Since these little creatures can lay down their tentacula in the
openings of their stony houses, when they are not hungry, or when they
are alarmed by the approach of anything that would hurt them, they do
not want the tough skin with which the Actinia is covered, but have
bodies of a very soft and yielding texture.


As I have now introduced to you, as well as I can by means of
description and pictures, the inhabitants of these wonderful submarine
continents, I shall now tell you something of the form in which they
arrange their habitations. Those that I saw about the Society and
Friendly Islands, were mostly in three different conditions. One kind
forms a nearly circular reef, sometimes with an opening in it. It is a
part of the common design of the Polypes always to make this opening
on the Leeward side, when the place is one in which any particular
wind blows during a great part of the year. I cannot tell you why
this is, but it is constantly observed wherever coral reefs are found.
This peculiarity makes the enclosed spaces of water, (which are called
Lagoons,) capital harbours for ships to anchor in, for they are nearly
always smooth, the windward side of the reef acting as a breakwater.
Here is a map of three reefs of this form, in a part of the ocean where
the prevailing wind is South East, and you will see all the openings
are towards the North West.


Another sort have an island of which the foundation is coral, in the
middle of a ring like the above; and a third sort are merely the same
kind of rings round large islands, composed of other sorts of rocks and
earth. A very great number of the islands hereabouts,--perhaps most of
them, are surrounded in this manner.

I well remember the first impressions which the sight of a coral
reef made upon me. I always like to treasure up in my mind the first
impression produced by a beautiful scene; for however wonderful the
objects may be, when you have seen them many times, you become in some
degree indifferent to them. This first impression that I am going to
describe to you, is a continual feast to me when I think upon it, and I
wish you could enjoy it with me.

The first parts of the reef we saw were black, roundish masses,
standing up out of the water, having just the appearance of black men's
heads, and when I asked the sailors what they were, they told me they
were "negroes' heads." I was curious, as you may suppose, to know what
they could be, and I afterwards found they were masses of coral, which
were not covered by the sea, except at very high tides, and had become
blackened by the weather.

The sun was shining brightly, and there was a smart breeze. The waves
breaking over the ragged surface of the coral threw up abundance of
spray, which the sun's rays, every now and then, painted with the most
beautiful rainbow colours. We sailed through an opening, and when we
had got into the Lagoon, the sea was perfectly smooth. The water was as
clear as crystal, and we saw the bottom, and what was going on there,
nearly as well as if we had been close to it, though the depth was very


No flower garden was ever more exquisitely varied, both as to form and
colour, than the scene under the water. The coral itself, standing
up in the forms of shrubs, wheat-sheaves, mushrooms, stags'-horns,
cabbages, and cauliflowers, was mostly covered with millions of the
little polypes, displaying their graceful rosettes of green, purple,
yellow, brown and white. Among these were strewn innumerable shells
from the smallest to the largest, and amongst the most conspicuous
were the gigantic clams, of which many specimens weigh hundreds of

Then there were seen fish darting in and out as they

                                "With quick glance,
    Showed to the Sun their waved coats dropt with gold,"

the variegated Zebra fish, and a hundred other species, often popping
up from deep holes and caves, of which we could not see the bottom. All
seemed life, beauty, and enjoyment, and when I had looked at it a long
time, it brought to my mind the time when God looked upon what he had
formed, and said that it was good, for you could not wish anything to
be different from what it was; the scene appeared faultless, and quite
filled up the heart with emotions of love and beauty.

This reef was one of those which surrounded a good-sized island. The
cut will show you nearly how it appeared to be situated in regard to
the land; _a_ is the land; _b_ the coral; and _c_ the Lagoon, the
width of which was about a quarter of a mile.


There were in it several masses of coral of a very curious shape, such
as I have since found always exist in Lagoons. They are first built up
in the form of a sugar-loaf, and when they get up somewhere between
high and low-water-mark, the polypes extend them at the sides so as
to make a sort of mushroom top, closely resembling the stones which
farmers place ricks upon, to keep them out of the way of rats and mice.
Their constructing these rocks in the sugar-loaf form, so as to make
them as firm as possible, is a proof that the labours of the polypes
are directed by a common instinct, and that each one does not do as he
likes, without regard to the rest. I suppose the reason why they spread
them out at top, is because they love best the highest habitations they
can get, that are not quite out of the water; and therefore as many
polypes as can, make their residences there.

As the tide went down, a considerable space of the shore of the reef
was left dry, towards the Lagoon, where it slanted off gently. Upon
this there were some of the large clam shells, such as you saw a
cut of just now. They generally lay about half open, but they would
occasionally shut their shells together with a loud report, and then
spout up a stream of water three or four feet high. We boiled one of
these fish and tasted it, but found it very disagreeable. The fish
weighed about four pounds, and the shell about fifty. There were many
of a much larger size.

The reefs towards the sea outside the Lagoons go down very suddenly,
and the soundings are generally deep, close alongside them. This is
ascribed to their being built upon the tops of submarine hills and
mountains, for it is believed that the polypes cannot work at very
great depths.

The surface of the reef is seldom quite so high as high-water-mark; but
they sometimes go along an incredible distance without interruption,
very near that point. The inhabitants of the group of islands called
Disappointment Islands, and also of those called Duff's Islands, pay
visits to each other over a bridge of coral 600 miles in length, on a
great part of which their feet are close to the water, so that they
look when on their journey at the time of high-water, just like troops
marching on the surface of the ocean.

The natives of some of the Polynesian islands have actually employed
some of these wonderful little masons to build quays and piers. The
way they do this, is to break off large masses of coral from any reef
that may be near, and drop them down where they want to form the pier.
In a short time the polypes will have stuck them together as firmly
as possible. In an island called Barabora, a very fine quay has been
thus constructed, where a good-sized vessel may conveniently take in or
discharge its cargo.

There were once coral islands where England is now, for in many
counties fossil coral is found in great quantities. It is indeed most
likely that there are large tracts in every part of the world, which
owe their existence to the labours of polypes.

This would most probably be the history of the formation of one of
these tracts, if it were in the Pacific Ocean. A volcanic eruption
would throw up a mountain from the bottom of the sea, the top of which
might be 60 or 70 feet below the surface. As soon as the eruption had
ceased, some polypes who may have left their position on a neighbouring
reef, might be brought by the tide into contact with the summit, and
would immediately begin to work. The race of polypes would multiply,
and the building would go on year after year, till the reef reached the
surface. Pieces of wood which are always drifting about in the ocean,
might be washed into the Lagoon and rest upon the shore. A little soil
might thus be formed in the course of years, and a cocoa-nut or some
other sort of seed, which would equally well bear soaking in the salt
water, might be brought from some distant land, and may take root and
produce a tree. The steady trade winds would also bring some of those
seeds which are provided with wings, such as thistles. Various sea
birds might build their nests upon the infant land, which would thus be
increased in a hundred different ways. Small animals driven out to sea
on pieces of timber or trees, torn away from their original position
by hurricanes, might land upon it; and after a succession of ages, man
would take possession, and a populous country in time be formed.

If you are fond of poetry, you would be much pleased with a very
beautiful description of such a process as this, in James Montgomery's
poem, called the Pelican Island, which you should read.



If you were to go on a long voyage, there is nothing that you would be
much more pleased with, than the occasional bright appearance of the
sea at night. You might see this in all latitudes, but more frequently
in the tropical, than in colder climates. It occurs in a variety
of modes, and, as it seems, arises from several different causes.
Sometimes the wake of the vessel looks like a waving line of beautiful
silver light; sometimes the surface will be studded with spots of
bright light, about as large as your heads; not unfrequently you may
see large islands of light; and now and then a shoal of Albicores,
or some other fish, will pass the vessel, shaking sparks of dazzling
brightness from their fins in all directions.

It has been supposed by some that the brightness in the track of a
vessel, and that which sparkles and flashes in the spray on the tops of
the waves, is electrical light: whether it is so or not, I cannot tell

The effect is, no doubt, sometimes produced by decayed animal and
vegetable bodies, which appear bright in the dark. I dare say you have
seen the bodies of dead fish, and the surface of rotten wood have
this appearance. The particles in which the brightness exists are so
small, that you cannot see them, for, if you touch the luminous body,
particularly if it is a stinking fish, your fingers will immediately
appear bright in the dark, and when you look at them in the light, you
will not be able to see anything on the surface of the skin.

But the most wonderful and extensive cause of all, is the existence
of countless myriads of fish and insects, which are supplied with a
fluid substance that oozes out of their bodies, and shines with a
greenish light upon their surface. Some of them may easily be taken,
by dropping over a net where the luminous spots appear. A few of them
are small shell-fish, of the crab or lobster kind. However, the greater
part are an immense family of creatures called _Acalephæ_, or _sea
nettles_. The word _Acalepha_ is the Greek for a sting nettle, and they
are so called for a reason which I will tell you presently.


There are a great many different forms of them, but they mostly agree
in having their bodies shaped something like an umbrella, with long
filaments hanging down from them. This is a picture of one of the
kind called Berenice. It takes its name from the resemblance of its
filaments, to the long hair of a lady. Berenice was the wife of a
warrior, who made a vow to sacrifice the hair of her head, which was
singularly beautiful, to Venus, if her husband returned from some
successful exploit in which he was engaged. He did so, and the lady
accordingly hung up her hair in the temple of Venus, and thereby gained
the honor of giving her name to a constellation called the hair of
Berenice, and the curious animal figured in the cut.

The substance of the body is a mere mass of jelly, mostly quite
transparent, but sometimes tinged with blue or green; and when deprived
of life it becomes merely a salt liquid, and an extremely thin skin,
weighing only a few grains.

The mouth is underneath, in amongst the filaments, which seem to be
placed where they are for the purpose of entangling small fish and
insects, to hold them till the Acalepha can swallow them. A very great
number of them are of a kind called Medusa, from the resemblance of
their filaments to the snakes, which were said to take the place of
hair upon the head of Medusa, one of the Furies. One or two sorts have
a crest which they erect as a sail, and thus move along before the
wind, on the surface of the sea, in calm weather. I will show you the
picture of one of these called the Physalia.


The size varies from that of a pin's head, to a foot or more in
diameter, and it is said that some have been found to weigh as much as
50 pounds. Their weight is a very little more in proportion to their
bulk than that of salt water, and they keep themselves afloat on the
surface, as long as they are inclined, by moving very slowly along,
which they do by alternately contracting and expanding a very light
ring of muscle, which surrounds the umbrella. When they are tired of
their snail's gallop, or they want to descend on any other account,
they cease moving, and down they go. In this respect they are just
like a man swimming, who sinks if he ceases to strike with his limbs.

There are some species peculiar to hot climates, where they are
generally larger, and more luminous; and some to cold. But what is
wanting in size is amply made up in number, in the Arctic regions. A
certain naturalist calculated by a fair average, how many Acalephæ
there were in two square miles of sea, and the result of his
calculation would fill up a whole line of this work with figures; you
may judge something of it, by his saying that to count the number would
have taken 80,000 persons all the time that has elapsed since the
creation of the world, counting as fast as they could! It is on these
creatures, most of them so small that they cannot be seen without a
microscope, that the vast bodies of the whales are supported, caught in
the wonderful shrimp-trap, which I described to you in a former page!

Two or three kinds are found on your own shores, and I should not
wonder if some of you may not before now have found them lying on
the sea-shore, which the tide has left dry, and taken them up in
your hands. If so, I am sure you will not forget it, nor be in any
difficulty to know why they are called _sea nettles_. They have a
stinging power, which will make the hand smart that touches them.
This is owing to a caustic fluid with which a part of their bodies is
constantly covered.

It is this caustic fluid which is luminous. It oozes through the skin
all round the muscular ring by which they move, and at the large
filaments. The whole body of the creature looks bright, but it is only
from the light transmitted by these parts. You may get a very fair
notion of the appearance of one of their bodies, by rubbing together
two partly transparent pebbles in the dark; the light is of nearly
the same colour, and though it is only produced just at the points of
contact of the pebbles, it illuminates their whole substance.

As they move along they are much brighter when they contract their
bodies, than when they expand them; this is because in contracting they
press out the luminous fluid. I will tell you of some experiments and
observations, which have been made on them.

The body of an Acalepha was squeezed over a glass of warm fresh water,
and the fluid that dropped out communicated its luminous property to
the water. The same was then done with a glass of warm salt water, but
the effect was not nearly so great.

One was squeezed over a vessel containing nearly a quart of milk, which
it made so resplendent that one could see to read by it. The milk
retained its brightness for several hours, and when it faded, it could
be restored by stirring: even three days afterwards it was made bright
by being warmed.

In this manner the Acalephæ communicate a slight degree of light to the
sea-water, in which they swim; but, if they are put into fresh water,
the light spreads much further.

I have often seen them round the ship, looking like so many moons,
and emitting light enough for me to read by, some on the surface, and
others at various depths below it. Their appearance was exquisitely
beautiful when the weather was still and the night dark; but as I
thought about it, I could not help having something of a melancholy
feeling at the strange kind of half-life these creatures lead. They
might enjoy themselves, but I could not tell how, for they had no sight
nor hearing; they loved no light except their own selfish light; they
moved about in the open sea, without seeming to enjoy their freedom,
for they did not care which way they moved; they had no fixed homes or
neighbourhoods to love, like the coral insects; and above all, they did
not care for their kind, for they appear to come near each other only
by chance as the wind or the waves may drive them.

But as they were created by God, their life was given them for some
wise end, and no doubt they have something to do in creation, and they
are capable of enjoyment, though perhaps of nothing that would be
enjoyment to us.


[Illustration: PLATE XV.




Have you ever seen the bone of a cuttle fish? It is a flat, white, very
light thing, about the shape and size of a small sole, or flat fish,
which may be often picked up on the sea-shore. One side is covered
with a very hard substance, which stands out and forms a border all
round; but the other side, which has no covering, is so soft that you
can easily scrape it into powder with your nail. It is often used for
making tooth-powder, and polishing certain things, such as hard woods
and tortoise-shell.


This comes from some of a most curious family of fishes, called by the
general name of _Cephalopods_, from the Greek words for head and feet,
because their feet are placed round their heads, and they walk along
with their heads downwards.

There are several kinds represented in the plate, which will give you
a general notion of their form and appearance. In the structure of
their bodies they possess much more in common with the kind of animals
with which you are familiar, than the Actiniæ which make the coral,
or the Acalephæ which produce the luminous appearance on the sea;
though nothing can be more strange or unsightly than their aspect. They
have a complete system of circulation, though their blood is neither
warm nor red as ours is; their brains are enclosed in a strong case
or skull of gristle, and their organs of sense are well developed;
they have large and perfect eyes, (as you may see in the picture,)
standing out prominently, and ears on each side of the brain. Their
mouths are armed with very strong horny lips not unlike the bill of a
parrot, between which is a very rough tongue. They have no noses, but
it has been proved by experiment that they like some smells and dislike
others, and it has been supposed that the quality of substances which
affects merely the organ of smell in us, affects in like manner the
whole surface of their bodies, or at least, of their heads. They not
only resemble birds in their mouths, but also in having gizzards.

Their great arms or legs, for they serve both purposes equally well,
of which they generally have eight, are very wonderful. They have
no bones in them to act as levers, but are merely long and muscular
masses of flesh which they move about with wonderful activity and power
in all directions, having the most complete command over them. On
their surfaces are great numbers of little suckers or cups resembling
leather, which adhere very strongly to anybody which the animal chooses
to embrace.

You have, no doubt, often played with a round piece of thick leather
with a string through it, by wetting it and pressing it with your foot
upon a stone, so as to lift the stone up, if it be not too heavy. It is
just on the same principle that the suckers of the Cuttle Fish act.

These curious creatures gather up some of their arms into a point, as
a sort of cut-water, as sailors would call it, and swim very rapidly,
by means of the others, having their heads behind. They crawl in all
directions with equal facility.


Their skin changes colour in spots like that of the Chameleon. But
I shall now tell you their most remarkable peculiarities. They are
provided with a bag filled with black stuff, very like printer's ink.
This bag they can at pleasure open, and press out some of the ink; so
when any voracious fish approaches, which the Cuttle Fish thinks will
be too strong for him, he squeezes his ink-bag and colours the water
round him, and thus all of a sudden becomes enveloped in a dark cloud,
in which his enemy gropes about in vain, while he makes the best of his
way off. Is not this a most astonishing mode of defence?

The kind which is found most frequently in our country is represented
in the plate fig. 2. Its skin is smooth and often of a dusky white,
with reddish brown spots, and its length about a foot. It is eaten by
the poor people on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. I never tasted
it, but I do not think that either you or I should like it, from the
look of its flesh.

There is another species of which the ink makes the colour called
sepia, which is of great value to artists.

The largest is called Octopus, and is figured No. 1, in the plate. It
is a very powerful creature, and very ferocious in its disposition.
It is mostly found in the Indian Ocean, where it has been known to
drown men by throwing its great arms round their limbs as they were
swimming. It is also much dreaded by the natives of some of the
islands, who sail in small canoes; for an Octopus will sometimes
cast one of its arms over the side of the canoe, and will be sure to
overturn it, if the man does not instantly chop the arm off.

Like most other very wonderful things, the accounts of the Octopus
seem to have been strangely exaggerated, though we should not be too
ready to deny what a man who seems to be sensible and honest relates,
merely because it is not like our own experience. In regard to the
largest size to which the creature has been known to attain, it is very
difficult to tell what is the truth. I will relate to you what has been
said on the subject.

Some navigators have asserted that the largest vessels have been put in
danger by an Octopus raising its arms so as to get them entangled in
the rigging; and a great many have said the same respecting large boats.

Pliny, the Roman Naturalist, tells a story of one in particular, which
was a sad thief. I should tell you that the Octopus is able to walk on
land when the surface is uneven, so that he can get something for his
suckers to adhere to. Well, this individual that Pliny mentions, used
to visit a house near the sea-side, and steal all the provisions within
his reach. He was seen once or twice before he could be taken; but at
last his thefts were so important, that the inhabitants of the house
watched for him all night, and caught him by the help of dogs, as he
was striding over the rocks towards the sea. It is said that he weighed
700 pounds, and that his arms were 30 feet in length, and so stout that
a man could not embrace them.

Still more wonderful are the narrations which were commonly believed
about 150 years ago, respecting some Sepias that frequented the coast
of Norway. They were then generally called Krakens, and were supposed
to be at times nearly a quarter of a mile in length. It is related that
sailors not unfrequently mistook them for islands.

This is alluded to by Milton in a passage of the Paradise Lost,--

    Him haply slumbering on the Norway foam
    The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff,
    Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
    With fixed anchor on his scaly rind,
    Moors by his side under the lee, and waits
    The wished approach of morn.

I dare say you will be ready to think that these things are very
unlikely, and I shall not much differ from you if you do. But no doubt
some of these creatures must be very large, and much to be dreaded, or
such things would never have been said of them.

[Illustration: PLATE XVI.




But there is one of these Sepias, or Cuttle Fish, which I like very
much, though its character rests under as severe an imputation for
dishonesty and rapacity, as that of the rest. It is that one which
inhabits the beautiful white semi-transparent shell, and is called the
Paper Nautilus, or Argonaut.


Its body is represented out of the shell in the plate, fig. 3, and you
will there see that it is not very different from those that are not
provided with shells, except in having two of its eight arms spread out
at the ends into a thin membrane or web. You shall hear presently the
pretty use which it makes of these webs.

It has no muscular attachment to the shell, as most other shell-fish
have, but merely adheres to it by means of its suckers. On this
account, some have thought that the Sepia must be an usurper, who has
murdered the original master of the shell, and taken possession of his
house. But I do not believe there is any truth in this charge, for the
same sort of animal is always found in the same shell, and if it be
taken out, though it may be kept in salt water, it is sure to die.

When at the bottom of the sea, he walks about with his shell uppermost,
like a snail, but of course with a much more rapid motion, and every
now and then snatches any mouthful that may take his fancy, with two of
his long arms, and conveys it to his horny beak.

When the weather is fine, and he is disposed to enjoy it, he partly
empties his shell of water, so as to make himself lighter than the
surrounding sea, and comes up to the surface, on which he floats like a
little ship.

I once had an excellent opportunity of watching one. The sea was
beautifully calm, and blue, and the sky perfectly clear, when I caught
sight of something white coming upwards at a little distance from the
ship. In an instant the delicate white shell popped above the surface,
twirled round, and the Sepia spouted out the water remaining in his
shell, spread out his two sails, and threw out his six remaining
feet, three on each side of the edge of his shell, which acted as
oars, and scudded away before the wind. If you had but seen the glad
little creature, it would have done your heart good. He seemed full of
freedom, and life, and joy. The dark deep caves of ocean, with their
corals and sea-weeds, and strange variety of inhabitants; the broad
surface of the sea, the fresh breeze, the lovely blue sky, and the
glorious light of the sun, were all at his command.

   "Thou the light sail boldly spreadest,
    O'er the furrowed waters gliding,
    Thou nor wreck nor foeman dreadest,
    Thou nor help nor comfort needest,
    While the sun is bright above thee,
    While the bounding surges love thee,
    In their deepening bosoms hiding,
              Thou canst not fear
              Small marinere;
    For though the tides with restless motion
    Bear thee to the desert ocean,
    Far as the ocean stretches to the sea,
    'Tis all thy own, 'tis all thy empery.

   "Lame is Art, and her endeavour
    Follows Nature's course but slowly,
    Guessing, toiling, seeking, ever,
    Still improving, perfect never.
    Little Nautilus, thou showest
    Deeper wisdom than thou knowest;
    Lore, which man should study slowly;
              Bold faith and cheer,
              Small marinere.
    Are thine within thy pearly dwelling;
    Thine, a law of life compelling
    Obedience, perfect, simple, glad and free,
    To the Great Will that animates the sea."

  (_Hartley Coleridge._)

You should read these exquisite lines with deep attention. There is an
allusion in the second verse to the common notion that the form of a
ship was first taken from the Nautilus; and, indeed, there is a very
distinct resemblance in a part of the shell to the keel, and in another
part to the poop. The sails and oars you will see best in the picture.

Do you think that if the Sepia were a murderer and a thief, in
possession of what does not belong to him, according to the notion of
some naturalists which I was telling you of just now, that he could be
so happy,--so in every way at home,--in his silver boat? If you had
seen him as I did, I am sure you would agree with me in saying that he
could not be any other than the rightful owner.

After "the small marinere" had sailed some distance, he folded up his
sails and packed them and his oars close into his shell, and went down
like a stone.

The Paper Nautilus is mostly found in hot climates. It is never seen
on the surface unless at a long distance from land, and it is very
shy of danger, so that it is not often you can get such a good chance
of observing one as I had. I have been told by a person who was to be
trusted, that sometimes the Sepia will lay hold of a piece of drift
wood, a large leaf, or any other floating substance, and use it as a
raft, when it is not inclined to take the trouble of balancing its
shell with its feet, and spreading its sails.

And now, my little friends, what I have told you respecting these
marvellous Sepias, reminds me of something on which I may give you a
useful caution. Many people are very fond of congratulating you on
the great wisdom and knowledge of the times in which you live, and
of making very light of what the ancients knew, or thought they knew,
especially respecting natural history. In doing this they are not
just to those who lived before us, and very often deceive themselves
in regard to the present state of our knowledge. Aristotle, the tutor
of Alexander the Great, did more in investigating the nature of the
Nautilus, and all other kinds of Cuttle fish, than any other naturalist
has done, and in his writings, (if you could read them,) you might find
nearly all the particulars I have mentioned, and a great many besides.
As to some foolish things that may be found related by him and other
old writers, which are held up for your ridicule, it is not at all
unlikely that future ages may find flaws and follies in what writings
we may leave behind us, as we now do in what our predecessors have left


There is another kind of Nautilus, the shell of which is very strong,
and marked with brown streaks. You will see it in plate XV, fig.
4. It also differs from the Paper Nautilus, in being divided into a
succession of cells or chambers, in this manner.


In this respect it is like the immense family of extinct shells called
Ammonites, or Cornua Ammonis; but the partitions of the chambers of the
latter are undulated, thus


As the cells are mostly filled with various hard earthy substances,
so as to form one solid mass, they used to be called snake-stones,
because it was fancied they were petrified snakes. There are a great
number of them on the coast of Yorkshire, and the story was once
believed that the place had been infested with an immense quantity of
snakes which were changed into stone at the prayer of St. Hilda. What I
am going to tell you, relates both to the Ammonites and the Nautilus.

If you examine the first cut, you will see small openings connecting
all the cells with each other, and the continuous passage thus formed
through the whole of the shell, is called the siphuncle. The inhabitant
of the shell is an animal of the Sepia kind, but without the webs which
serve the Paper Nautilus for sails, and with its arms not so long. It
always resides in the outermost chamber, and it is supposed that it
forms a new partition every year, so that the age of the animal may be
known by counting the number of chambers.

When the Pearly Nautilus wishes to rise to the surface, it pumps out
the water from its shell through the siphuncle, and makes itself light.
It floats often with its shell upwards, and at other times it moves
along backwards for a considerable distance, by means of spouting out
water over the front edge of the shell. It never floats with the same
beautiful stateliness as the Argonaut.

There is also the pretty little shell of the Nautilus Spirula, not much
larger than a shilling, plate XVI, fig. 5, which does not contain a
fish, but is merely annexed to the body of a Sepia, as is represented,
fig. 6. Its use appears to be just the same as that of the shell of the
Pearly Nautilus, to answer the purpose of a float.

These two kinds are very rarely seen floating on the surface, though
there must be many of both of them in the ocean, from the number of
their empty shells which are found. Perhaps this arises from their not
being so buoyant as the Argonauts, and hence they more readily dip
under the surface at the approach of a vessel.

It is now time for us to bid adieu to the sea and its wonderful
inhabitants, since I have promised to tell you of some of the wonders
of the sky, (though I remember a great many more things that I should
like to tell you of).


                               PART III.

                          WONDERS OF THE SKY.



Before I tell you of some of the wonders of the sky, I should like to
tell you what the sky is: it is true you know pretty nearly as much as
I do about it, but you perhaps have not thought so much on what you
know. The sky is everything above our heads which is not connected with
the earth: thus, you may speak of a cloudy sky, or a clear sky; or of
the stars, sun, and moon, being in the sky.

It may however be more proper to restrict the word to the blue
appearance which the atmosphere above us assumes when it is not
concealed by clouds. This appearance is caused by looking into the
air, which surrounds the globe to the height of forty or fifty miles
above its surface, and not by anything which exists above it; for
mountains, when seen from a great distance, appear of the same colour,
evidently from the extent of the air between the spectator and them.

Climate and the season of the year, have a considerable influence on
the colour of the sky. You know what a rich full blue is over us in the
hot months of summer; and I hope you have before now enjoyed the pale
blue of a clear winter's day, when the brown and bare branches of the
trees have showed against it, and all the rivers and ponds have been
frozen as solid as a stone pavement. When I see some of you sliding and
skating on the glassy ice, at such times I am ready to wish I was a boy
again, to join in your pleasures. However, I have had my turn, and old
age has its pleasures as well as youth, only we are apt to get into a
way of looking at all past times as happier than the present, which
is both foolish and wicked. If we were to keep ourselves diligently
engaged in doing our duty, we should always be happy, whether old or

But the darkest blue sky you have ever seen in your country, is light
compared with the skies of hot climates. In them you often see a deep
rich indigo; at other times you are under a canopy of reddish orange,
almost copper colour, like that which was called in the poem I quoted
to you when describing the tropical sea, "a hot and copper sky."

The elevation of the observer above the surface of the earth, is
likewise another cause of variation. I have never myself ascended a
mountain sufficiently high to see this, but I have been told by a
gentleman who had been at the top of Mont Blanc, that the sky there
looked nearly black.

As you must have seen them yourselves, I need only remind you of the
glorious changes of colour by the alteration of the light at the
different times of day. I hope none of you are so lazy as not often
to have enjoyed the rosy mornings; then there is the grey twilight of
evening, and the splendours of the setting sun in the west, round which
the deep orange shades off into the most delicate yellow, which again
glides imperceptibly into pale blue towards the east. Then the moon,
when she has the heavens all to herself, and the stars, when they are
shining out boldly in her absence, each make the sky so beautiful, and
are so beautiful in themselves, that one cannot exceed the other.

I love to look at the moon when the winds rend the clouds asunder, and
drive them tumultuously along, and you see her now and then in the
dark blue depths between. But if I were to tell you all the ordinary
appearances in the sky which I love, I should leave no room to describe
its wonders; which will not do, because I meant this book to give you
an account of things which most of you have not seen.



During the winter months in the Polar Regions, the sun never rises
above the horizon; and during summer it performs in appearance a little
circle round the pole of the Heavens, and never goes out of sight.
You may learn in what manner this is occasioned by the position of
those countries on the surface of the earth, from the book called "The
Wonders of the Telescope."

The year is thus in reality divided into one long day and one long
night. While the night continues, the ground is covered with snow, and
no vegetable life is to be seen, and the animals have much to do to
support themselves on what fish they may chance to pick up on the sea
shore, by preying on each other, or else by scraping away the snow to
get at that scanty vegetation which exists underneath. The odd-looking
Esquimaux and Greenlanders would indeed be very badly off, if it
were not for the beautiful atmospheric phenomena which I am going to


There are seldom intervals of many hours which are not illuminated by
these beautiful meteors, called Auroræ Boreales, or Northern Lights,
occurring in a never-ending variety of form, colour, and intensity.
They generally have a tendency to form an irregular arch, and one side
of them is always much better defined than the other. The more ragged
side sends out brilliant corruscations, shooting out into the sharpest

Sir John Ross describes one which was nearly the colour of the full
moon, and of equal brightness, in the form of a well-defined arch
extending quite across the heavens, and reminded him of what he
conceived must be the effect of Saturn's ring seen by the inhabitants
of that planet from its surface. It lasted for several hours, and at
last broke up as it were into fragments of light, and disappeared.

The distinctness of its form is much influenced by the wind, and when
the air becomes agitated, showers of rays spread out in every direction
with the quickness of lightning. Sir Edward Parry describes long bands
of light extending with immense rapidity, but always appearing to form
round a fixed point, something like a riband held in the hand and
shaken with an undulatory motion.

Little scraps of the brightest light dart about in the heavens, called
by the sailors, "merry dancers." In stormy weather these wild little
things assume all manner of fanciful shapes; sometimes they shoot like
rockets across the firmament, then take a zigzag or waving direction,
and frequently seem to become invisible, and shine out again a little
further on. The Esquimaux say that these appearances are the spirits
of their ancestors playing at ball with the head of a Walrus! You may
perhaps laugh at this odd notion, and I will laugh with you, if you
will learn a lesson from it. You see that men in various states of
society, are always looking out for the appearance of spiritual beings,
and therefore that this disposition is a part of their constitution
which is given them by God: and although their fancies may form strange
notions at times, yet the exercise of the faculty, in some way or
other, is very important. Men had much better think that they see
spirits in the Aurora Borealis, and that they hear them in the wind,
than forget that there are such things as spirits, and that they have
spirits within them, which will live when their bodies are turned into

But for you, my little friends, who are better instructed, there is no
occasion to think you can see or hear spirits with your bodily ears
and eyes; but I trust you will always _feel_ inwardly that there are
spirits within you and around you, and one Great Spirit above you.

The most beautiful form of the Aurora, is called the Corona. It is
a luminous ring generally just overhead, with long distinct rays
very slender, but extremely bright, diverging from it all round. It
only lasts a few seconds, and then seems to burst like a firework,
scattering sparks in all directions.

The stars mostly shine through the Aurora, as through a veil of thin
gauze. The darkness of the sky, with the stars shining in it above
and below, produces a most astonishing effect, which you may see very
well represented in the frontispiece, where there is depicted a small
portion of the middle of a luminous arch, very clearly defined.

It was considered, till quite lately, that the Aurora in the Northern
regions, made a sort of rushing and rattling noise. This, however,
seems to be false, for Captain Lyons used to stand on the ice with his
ears uncovered till they were nearly frost-bitten, listening with the
utmost attention, but he could never hear the slightest sound. A very
intelligent Danish traveller says, that he has often heard the sound,
but that he is convinced of its being produced by the wind blowing upon
the ice. The reason of its being heard while the Aurora is shining,
seems to be that the Aurora often appears when it is windy, or has
something to do with a change of weather, which also occasions the

The Aurora often appears in this country, but not with nearly so much
brilliancy or frequency, as in more northern countries. I have,
however, seen it very beautifully developed in light tints of red,
yellow, and green, but very seldom with a clear outline and determinate
form. It appears that it has been observed here much oftener than
formerly, within the last hundred years, and this applies to nearly
the whole of Europe, where it occurs. In Sweden, before the year 1716,
it was a great rarity, and about the same time the inhabitants of
Iceland were alarmed at its becoming so much more frequent than it had
previously been, supposing that it portended some great misfortunes to
be coming upon them. A similar fancy prevailed amongst ignorant persons
in this country, and I have heard that people used to imagine that the
appearance was a sign of an approaching war.

I have very little to say to you respecting the cause of this wonderful
phenomenon. The most reasonable notion seems to be, that it is
occasioned by electric fluid playing about, and diffusing itself in
the upper regions of the atmosphere, where the air is very thin. A
similar kind of light is produced by a very pretty experiment, which
consists in sending an electric spark through a long glass vessel, from
which the air has been exhausted. When the air is more compressed,
as it is near the surface of the earth, the electric fluid does not
so spread itself abroad, but moves in more direct lines, and in
more compact masses, as you may see in lightning, or in the sparks
of an electrifying machine sent into the atmosphere under ordinary
circumstances of density.




There are a great many very wonderful appearances in a polar sky,
besides the Aurora Borealis. Perhaps the most remarkable of these are
Parhelia, or "mock suns," which are often seen to shine in various
parts of the sky. As many as six of them are sometimes seen at once,
all shining with great brilliancy. They are generally brightest just
before day-break, and fade away as the true sun ascends.

Parhelia have also been seen at different times on the continent of
Europe. At Marienberg, in Prussia, many years ago, towards evening,
one was observed which seemed attached to a small white cloud that
was situated just below the sun. It was at first of a reddish colour,
but as the sun descended towards it, it assumed the aspect of the sun

Three at once were seen at Sudbury, in Suffolk, and two were seen in a
part of Rutlandshire. There are recorded many other appearances of this
remarkable phenomenon, but they do not seem to differ much from each

There is great uncertainty as to what occasions these mock suns.
Perhaps they are merely reflections of the image of the true sun
upon reflecting clouds, such as I shall describe to you presently.
The circumstance that seems to render this probable, is that they
sometimes become brighter as the sun approaches them, which cannot
easily be accounted for by supposing them to have any source of light
in themselves. On the contrary, their fading away at times as he rises,
may be occasioned by the clouds on which they are reflected, becoming
rarified; or the effect may be only comparative, just as the moon grows
paler, and at last disappears, as day comes on. Thus you see the two
opposite effects of the sun's approach may be equally well accounted
for, on the supposition of the Parhelia being mere reflections of the
sun, and I do not think that they could on any other.


The name Ignis Fatuus, or False Fire, is applied to a flickering,
bluish light, which is often seen in marshy districts, and in damp
burial grounds, either on the surface of the earth or only a small
distance above it. So you see it is not strictly a wonder of the sky;
but I introduce it here because it seems to be somewhat similar to some
of the higher meteors, in the manner in which it is occasioned.

A great many entertaining stories are told of persons having mistaken
these Ignes Fatui for real lights, and it is said that benighted
travellers have frequently been led far astray by them. They are
vulgarly called in various parts of the country, Will-o'-the-Whisp,
Jack-o'-the-Lantern, Peg with her Lantern, and in burying grounds in
Scotland, Grave Candles; and strange superstitious notions are annexed
to them. They keep constantly in motion; now rising a few feet above
the earth, now sinking to the surface; now seeming to be close to you,
disappearing in an instant, and shining out at some distance; at times
one of them dividing into two, or two seeming to join into one.

I will presently tell you how you can try a simple experiment,
that will go a great way towards accounting for these idle
Will-o'-the-Whisps. The inflammable gas called Hydrogen, is copiously
produced by the decomposition of animal and vegetable bodies. The
substance called Phosphorus, is contained in animal bodies, and is set
at liberty in small quantities by their decomposition. When phosphorus
and hydrogen come together under certain circumstances, they mix, and
a gas called Phosphuretted Hydrogen is the result.

There is, therefore, no difficulty in supposing that most marshy
grounds may produce this gas; and this experiment will show that it is
very likely that the Will-o'-the-Whisp is nothing more.

Hydrogen may be obtained by pouring diluted Sulphuric acid on small
pieces of Iron or Zinc. If you mix very small pieces of Phosphorus
with very small pieces of Zinc, and put them into a glass, and pour
over them the acid, Phosphuretted Hydrogen will be sent off, and the
surface of the acid will be covered with a beautiful blue flame of
the very colour of the Ignis Fatuus. The cause of the flame is, that
the phosphuretted hydrogen is so wonderfully inflammable, that the
moment it comes into air of a common temperature, it bursts into flame.
If you try this experiment, you will see how likely it is that the
Will-o'-the-Whisp is an escape of this gas from the surface of the



There are few of you who have not seen _falling_ or _shooting stars_,
as they are called. Perhaps some of you have loved to walk out when the
stars have been shining brightly in the blue sky overhead, to watch for
these shy wanderers that seem to come from no where, just to draw a
line of silver light across the heavens, and then disappear. When I was
a little child, I used to think that each appearance of this kind was
the destruction of one of the countless worlds that surround us, and
possibly the same fancy may, at some time or other, have occurred to

If you have taken delight in watching for them, you have many a
time been disappointed, because they would not show themselves more
frequently. It is, for the most part, only now and then that you can
catch sight of one; but there have been some occasions on which they
have appeared in immense numbers.

The most astonishing multitude of them on record, appeared in the year
1833, in the night of the 13th of November, and was seen over nearly
the whole of North America, from the Gulf of Mexico to Baffin's Bay.
They came from all quarters of the Heavens, and are said at one time
to have been half as thick as the flakes in a heavy fall of snow. It
was calculated, on the most moderate grounds, that 36,000 must have
appeared every hour for seven hours successively.

Previously, in the year 1799, also on the 13th of November, a similar
phenomenon was observed by Humboldt, the celebrated traveller, by some
Moravian Missionaries in Greenland, and by many persons in Germany.

In the year 1822, on the same day of the same month, almost as great a
number were seen in several parts of Europe and Asia.

In the year 1831, a French Officer states, that on the 13th of
November, while off the coast of Spain, he saw on an average more than
two a minute during several hours of the night.

Similar observations were made in the year 1835, in some parts of
France; and from several other instances, there seems to be good reason
for believing that there are more falling stars about the middle of
November, than during any other part of the year.

There have been a great many vague and silly notions devised to account
for these remarkable phenomena, and some that are not unreasonable,
though none perhaps quite satisfactory. It has been considered that
they were clouds of hydrogen gas, suddenly ignited by electricity,
within the range of our own atmosphere, and indeed only a very few
miles above the earth. Recent investigations have, however, rendered
it most probable that they are at very considerable elevations, often
as much as 500 miles above us.

But supposing the circumstance of great multitudes of them appearing
just at one particular period of the year, to be a fact, a new light
is thrown upon their origin which must then be considered as decidedly
of an astronomical character. The theory which has been proposed,
is this:--that immense quantities of fragments of matter revolve in
regular orbits in our solar system in various planes, and that on
the 13th of November the earth passes near the orbit in which the
greatest number of such fragments move. Whether they are matter in a
gaseous state, or approaching it, or quite solid; or whether they are
constantly illuminated, or are only rendered luminous by their relation
to other bodies, such as reflection, or meeting with electric fluid,
and so becoming ignited, are questions which must remain unanswered.
There may be a slight evidence in favour of the notion of their
light not being permanent in themselves, from the fact of a French
naturalist having observed on the 17th of June in 1777, a very large
number of small black spots pass over the sun's disc. If these spots
were really bodies, which under other circumstances would have been
falling stars, it should not be forgotten that the earth in June is
nearly in the opposite part of its orbit to that which it passes over
in November.

Well, after all, this is a very doubtful subject, and we may possibly
be very much out in our notions; but it is always worth while to see
which is the best of two theories, though there may be ever so little
to choose between them. We should make the best of what knowledge we
have, and never lazily satisfy ourselves by saying--"nobody can tell
which is true," which is almost as bad as being too obstinate and
dogmatical. For even if we adopt a conclusion which is wrong, we shall
be more ready to receive the truth when our knowledge may be increased,
than if we have no conclusion at all. One of the wisest men who ever
lived, said--"Truth comes more easily out of positive error than out of

You who have been interested with what I have told you respecting
shooting stars, should compare with it what I shall tell you in my next




There were a great many accounts in very early times, of stones having
fallen from the sky. In China and some other eastern nations, they have
long had a notion that such occurrences were connected with political
events, and accordingly they have kept careful records of what they
have known to fall for centuries back. This was a vain superstition,
but it was not more vain than the incredulity with which these reports
were received by nearly all the learned of Europe, till about forty
years ago. They denied the existence of aerolites, for no other reason
than because they had not seen them.

Some new statements attracted the attention of scientific men in
England and on the Continent, to the subject, about the beginning of
the present century, and the conclusion of their researches was, that
stones of various sizes do, in reality, not unfrequently fall from
above to the earth.

It appears that sometimes they fall singly, and at other times in great
numbers. I will relate to you some particular instances.

Near Benares, in the East Indies, in the month of December in the
year 1798, a very bright meteor seemed to fall to the earth, about 8
o'clock in the evening, and a loud noise like thunder was heard, which
was followed by a shock like the fall of heavy bodies. No cloud was to
be seen in the sky. The light of the meteor was so great as to cast
very distinct shadows of the objects in its way. The ground where it
appeared to have fallen, was afterwards examined, and was found to
be strangely torn up, having a number of small holes in it about six
inches deep. At the bottom of each hole was an aerolite weighing on
the average about one pound and a half.

In the year 1803, a similar event took place in Normandy. The meteor,
when first seen, must have been at a very great elevation, for the
inhabitants of two places more than a league distant from each other,
thought it was just over their respective towns. A hissing noise was
also heard, like that of a stone hurled by a sling. The space over
which the stones were dispersed, must have been more than eight miles
long and three wide. There were about two thousand of them collected,
of various weights, from two drachms to seventeen pounds.

Two stones, one of which weighed 200 and the other 300 pounds, fell in
the year 1668, at Verona. In 1680, several small ones are said to have
fallen in London. In 1628, several fell near Hatford, in Berkshire, one
of which weighed twenty-four pounds. In 1795, one weighing fifty-five
pounds, fell in Yorkshire. In 1810, a large aerolite fell, which was
the means of setting fire to five villages, and killing several
persons, in India. The largest of these are, however, small compared
with some which are said, and there is good reason to believe, to have
fallen from the sky, at some time or other. One of these, now at Bahia,
in Brazil, weighs 14,000 pounds.

This is a cut of an aerolite in the British Museum, which fell in
Buenos Ayres. It weighs 1,400 pounds.


They are generally covered over with a thin crust, which is quite
black, and have a very rough surface. Internally, they are greyish
and of a granulated texture. By the help of a microscope, you may
distinguish roundish grains of a grey colour; others, like rusty iron;
some, angular pieces of perfectly metallic iron, which are attracted
by the magnet; and the rest is an earthy sort of cement in which the
others are embedded. Their chemical composition is very uniform, with
the exception of some that consist almost entirely of iron; of which
sort is the one represented on the preceding page.

Their descent appears to be quite independent of the state of the
atmosphere, from whence we may infer that the clouds have nothing at
all to do with them, but that they come from much higher regions.
When they have been found soon after falling, they have always been
extremely hot, and, as I told you of one in India, they have been known
to set on fire what they have come in contact with on the surface of
the earth.

There have been four schemes devised to account for the existence of
aerolites. It has been imagined that they were substances which had
been cast out by volcanoes to immense heights from distant parts of the
world; but this is disproved by the fact that no substance of the same
composition as aerolites, has ever been discovered amongst the known
products of volcanoes.

The celebrated Frenchman, La Place, thought they were substances that
had been cast out by volcanoes in the moon, with such violence as to
send them within the limits of the earth's attraction.

Some have conjectured that they are formed in the air by the
consolidation of clouds of gaseous matters exhaled from the earth;
but according to Sir H. Davy's view of the nature of flame, the light
of meteors must arise from the ignition of _solid_ bodies, so that
at least they must become solid while they are in the condition of
meteors, and long enough before they approach the earth.

I will tell you what I think, according to the present state of our
knowledge, the likeliest explanation, though I do not say that the
reasons in favour of it are very conclusive. You will remember what I
told you respecting the probability of falling stars being fragments
of matter revolving in orbits, which the earth at certain times comes
near in its annual course round the sun. I suppose shooting stars and
aerolites to be the same things, only they are shooting stars while
they show in the sky, and aerolites after they have reached the earth.




There are on record several instances of a fall of red liquid exactly
resembling blood in appearance, which has often been accompanied by a
descent of aerolites. On the 15th of November 1755, there was a heavy
shower of this kind at Ulm, and several parts of Russia and Sweden.
There was another, March 5, 1803, in Apulia, where it seemed to fall
from a reddish black cloud. A descent of large quantities of dry dust
preceded the latter, and has on several occasions occurred by itself.

Before this phenomenon was understood, you will easily suppose that
it was looked upon as something dreadfully portentous, and the more
so from its occurring so unfrequently. It is now known to be closely
related to the aerolites, as you shall hear.

Some of the liquid, looking just like congealed blood, which fell at
Ulm, was examined. It was found to have a sour taste, owing, as it
was thought, to the presence of sulphuric acid. When dried, the dust
that remained, which constituted the colouring matter, was found to
be subject to magnetic attraction, and in other respects to resemble
the substance of the meteoric stones; so there can be no doubt that
the dust is nothing more than what is caused by the fracture or the
friction one against the other, of aerolites, and that the rain is made
red by the dust falling on the clouds, from which it is precipitated.


Several travellers have witnessed the existence of snow of a bright red
colour, in various parts of Baffin's Bay; and at Arezzo, in Italy, in
March 1813, there was a fall of it, which lasted many hours.

There seems some reason to suppose that in the latter instance the
redness was caused by aerolite dust; but a microscopic examination of
some of that at Baffin's Bay, has proved that its colour is owing to a
still more wonderful cause. The colouring particles are actually small
plants or fungi, which take root and grow, and bear seed upon the snow

What do you think of this Lilliputian vegetation? One full-sized plant
is no more than 1-1600th of an inch in diameter; and to cover a single
square inch of its _cold bed_ of snow, 2,500,000 are necessary! It has
been named by its discoverer, Mr. Bauer, _Uredo Nivalis_.


I dare say you have heard, before now, of its raining frogs and fish. I
like that you should have correct notions on these things, so I shall
just tell you what seems to have given rise to these reports.

If you understood what I told you respecting the water-spout, you will
see how likely it is that any small fish that may be on the spot,
should be sucked upwards along with the water, even to the very top of
the spout; now they might be kept up there as long as the whirlwind
kept up a rotatory motion in the cloud, after it had ceased to sustain
the column of water drawn up from the sea. When the whirlwind was
exhausted, the little fish would naturally fall out of the cloud,
perhaps after it had travelled far from where the water-spout occurred.

If the water-spout had passed over fresh-water lakes or rivers, frogs
might be drawn up instead of fish, and let fall in the same manner.

But I will relate to you another circumstance, which may have been
imputed to a descent of fish from the clouds. I told you in the first
part of this book respecting the alluvions, or torrents of mud, which
make their way after an eruption down the sides of Mount Vesuvius.
In some of the great volcanoes of South America, these alluvions have
not to be formed in the regular way, but mud of the consistence of pap
is ejected from the craters themselves in amazing quantities. This
mud is supplied by subterranean waters connected with the volcanic
channel, and it often contains myriads of little fishes of the kind
called _Pimelodes Cyclopum_: they are generally about four inches long,
and they exist in such vast numbers, that their putrifying has before
now bred a pestilence in the neighbourhood of the Volcano. There are
plenty of the same fish in the contiguous streams. What renders the
circumstance so wonderful, is their being raised up to the level of
8 or 9000 feet, and then thrown out from the crater with very little

[Illustration: PLATE XVIII.




I am going to tell you respecting some of the appearances produced
by clouds which reflect like mirrors; and by those changes in the
atmosphere which turn aside, in an irregular manner, the rays of light,
which, as they pass from an object to the eye which is looking at it,
excite the sensation called vision.

One of the most remarkable of these, has long been known by the name
of "The Spectre of the Brocken." The Brocken is the loftiest summit of
the Hartz Mountains, in Germany; it is said to be 3,300 feet above the
level of the sea, and to command the prospect of a tract of land which
is inhabited by more than five millions of people.

It appears that clouds, from some cause or other, which perhaps we
shall never perfectly know, are wont at times to collect on the
neighbouring heights, and reflect a very distinct shadow of great size
of whatever object may be on the summit of the Brocken, when the sun
is rising and casts his beams horizontally. The best account of this
wonderful spectacle, is given by the Abbe Hauy, who visited it in 1797,
and I shall give you his own statement.

"After having been here for the thirtieth time," says Mons. Hauy,
"I was at length so fortunate as to have the pleasure of seeing the
Spectre. The sun rose about four o'clock, and the atmosphere being
quite serene towards the east, his rays could pass without any
obstruction over the Heinrichshohe.[A] In the south-west, however,
towards Achtermanshohe,[B] a brisk west wind carried before it thin
transparent vapours, which were not yet condensed into thick heavy
clouds. About a quarter past four I went towards the inn, and looked
round to see whether the atmosphere would permit me to have a free
prospect to the south-west; when I observed, at a very great distance
towards Achtermanshohe, a human figure of a monstrous size. A violent
gust of wind having almost carried away my hat, I clapped my hand
to it by moving my arm towards my head, and the colossal figure did
the same. The pleasure which I felt on this discovery can hardly be
described, for I had already walked many a weary step in the hopes of
seeing this shadowy image, without being able to gratify my curiosity.
I immediately made another movement by bending my body, and the
colossal figure before me repeated it. I was desirous of doing the
same thing once more; but my colossus had vanished: I remained in the
same position, waiting to see whether it would return, and in a few
minutes it again made its appearance on the Achtermanshohe. I paid
my respects to it a second time, and it did the same to me. I then
called the landlord of the Brocken; and having both taken the same
position which I had taken alone, we looked towards the Achtermanshohe,
but saw nothing. We had not, however, stood long, when two such
colossal figures were formed over the above eminence, which repeated
our compliments by bending their bodies as we did; after which they
vanished. We retained our position, kept our eyes fixed on the same
spot, and in a little time the two figures again stood before us, and
were joined by a third," (most likely by the double reflection of one
of the spectators.) "Every movement that we made by bending our bodies,
these figures imitated; but with this difference, that the phenomenon
was sometimes weak and faint, sometimes strong and well defined."

[Footnote B: Two others of the Hartz mountains.]

There are some remarkable circumstances attending the Brocken, that
are doubtless in some degree connected with "The Spectre," which
was once looked upon as a supernatural apparition. When Christianity
was introduced into Germany, the priests and votaries of the old
superstition, retired to the Brocken as a refuge, and there long kept
up the dark and mysterious rites of the great Saxon idol, Cortho. It is
a very wild place, full of clefts and caverns, and with rivulets and
waterfalls on all sides of it, so that it would answer their purpose
remarkably well. After the inhabitants had taken up the profession of
Christianity, they used to celebrate on this mountain a festival on
Midsummer night, in honour of St. Walpurgis, a female saint, who had
first introduced Christianity among them. A legend then prevailed,
that the summit of the mountain was occasionally haunted by a demon,
which could have been no other than the Spectre. Everything about the
mountain was looked upon with awe and veneration. A beautiful spring
which runs down its side, is at this day called the Magic Spring;
a pretty little lily that abounds on the Mountain, is called the
Wizard's Flower; and two great square granite rocks are called the
Wizard's Chair. These names may be looked upon as monuments of the
estimation in which the mountain was once held.

While you ought, my young friends, to feel happy and grateful in being
taught what these natural things really are, and released from all
superstitious fears or notions respecting them; you should be most
careful not to forget what you owe to a purer faith, of which the
character is to invite you to inquire into, and to know everything
within your reach.

I shall say something to you respecting the cause of the Spectre, in a
future chapter.



There has been something very like the Spectre of the Brocken, seen on
Souter Fell, a mountain about half a mile high, in Cumberland.

One summer's evening, in the year 1743, as a farmer, named John Wren,
and his servant were sitting at the door of his cottage, they saw a man
with a dog furiously chasing some horses along a ledge on the side of
the mountain which they knew was so narrow that a horse could hardly
stand upon it. They seemed to go round one end of the mountain, and

The next morning the farmer and his servant went round the track which
the horses and man had seemed to take, fully expecting to find that
they had fallen over and been killed. You may guess how surprised they
were to find no trace whatever of them, not even the mark of a hoof on
the ground.

Well, they said nothing of what they had seen, and perhaps they almost
forgot it by nearly the same season in the following year, when the
servant, whose name was Daniel Strickett, saw one evening a whole troop
of horsemen trot along the mountain-side, near the same spot. It seems
that he had been laughed at by those to whom he had related the other
apparition, so he was rather timid, and resolved to be well assured
of the reality of this one before he mentioned it. He looked at the
figures for a considerable time, and then called another person to
witness the sight with him. Several others afterwards joined them, and
continued looking at the aerial horsemen till it was quite dark. All
these circumstances were attested before a magistrate in the year 1785:
twenty-six persons are said to have been spectators of the sight.

[Illustration: PLATE XIX.



A gentleman with whom I am acquainted, who lives in the country, told
me that he once left some labourers at the bottom of a very steep
hill, whom he had ordered to do some earth work. As he was going down,
intending to visit them again, about sun-set, he saw a part of the hill
which he was descending, and one of the labourers wheeling a barrow
upon the side of it, reflected on a cloud opposite with the greatest
distinctness. Though it was quite impossible that he could see the men
in their true position, he knew exactly what this man was about, and
what work had been done, from the reflected image.


Dover Castle stands upon the side of a hill, and when looked at from
the side towards Ramsgate, its four turrets may be just seen peeping
over the top of the hill. You may see how it appears in the upper
figure of plate XIX. On the 6th of August 1806, when Professor Vince,
of Cambridge, was staying near Ramsgate, he was astonished to see the
appearance of the castle as if it stood on the side of the hill next to
him, as is represented in the lower figure of the plate. It continued
so for nearly half an hour, during which he looked at it several times
with a telescope, and the image appeared quite clear and distinct.


When Humboldt was residing at Cumana, he frequently saw two small
islands which lie off the coast, suspended in the air. He once saw
some fishing boats seeming to float in the air for several minutes. In
another place he and his companion saw the figures of cows in the air
at a great height; and they were told by a person worthy of credit,
that he had seen the forms of horses suspended in like manner, but with
their legs upwards.


Captain Scoresby relates several remarkable appearances of a similar
kind, one of which I will describe to you. He saw one morning the
inverted image of a ship in the air, which he at once recognized to
be that in which his father was sailing. "It was," says he, "so well
defined, that I could distinguish by a telescope every sail, the
general rig of the ship, and its particular character; insomuch that
I confidently pronounced it to be my father's ship, 'The Fame,' which
it afterwards proved to be; though on comparing notes with my father,
I found that our relative position at the time, gave a distance from
one another of thirty miles, being about seventeen miles beyond the
horizon, and some leagues beyond the limit of direct vision."

Many other such things have been related by travellers, but with very
little variation of circumstance.


If you have never noticed the fact, you will be surprised to observe
what a great difference appears to exist in the distance of the same
objects under different states of the atmosphere. I do not mean when it
is merely clearer than at another time, but when it is equally clear,
the same object will show much higher above the horizon, and therefore
seem to be nearer to some given spot, than at other times. We who have
been at sea, have often seen this when we have been approaching land;
but you will better understand an instance which occurred at Hastings,
on the coast of Sussex. The gentleman who related it was surprised
one day to see a crowd of people running down to the sea-side, and on
inquiry he found they were going in consequence of a report that the
coast of France had become visible to the naked eye.

He went down to the beach, and actually saw the coast of France so
plainly as to be able to distinguish objects, and with a telescope he
even clearly saw French fishing-boats at anchor, close to the shore.
The illusion lasted for more than an hour, and occasionally grew faint
and then brightened again. The distance is fifty miles, and Hastings
would therefore be hidden from the opposite coast of France by the
convexity of the earth; so that if a straight line were drawn from one
to the other, it would pass through the sea.



There is a very remarkable spectacle to be occasionally seen between
the coasts of Italy and Sicily, which the inhabitants call Fata
Morgana, or _Fairy Illusion_.

The shores on each side are rich and beautiful in the extreme, and the
narrow strait being very deep, looks always blue and fresh. According
to the best accounts of the Fata Morgana, it appears only when the sun
is elevated at an angle of 45°. It consists in a reflection of the
objects on the shore more or less magnified, multiplied, distorted, and
often decorated with the hues of the rainbow on the surface of the sea
itself, and the portion of the atmosphere which is in immediate contact
with it. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood look on it as a good
omen, and whenever it appears, run down to the sea-side joyously crying
out, Morgana! Morgana!

[Illustration: PLATE XX.


Those who have seen it, declare that nothing can be more beautiful. The
scene must look as wonderful as anything you have ever read about in
a fairy tale. Castles, palaces, temples, of the utmost magnificence,
houses, hills and valleys, woods, green pastures, all of the brightest
colours, and indeed every one of the beautiful objects on shore,
beautified tenfold. You will see in the plate the attempt of an
intelligent traveller to convey a notion of this glorious phenomenon.


This name is given to similar illusions which are seen in various parts
of the world, and more particularly to the illusive appearance of
water, which is frequent in the sandy deserts of the East. You shall
hear what the celebrated traveller, Dr. Clarke, says of it.

"We procured asses for our party, and, setting out for Rosetta, began
to re-cross the desert, which appeared like an ocean of sand, but
flatter and firmer as to its surface, than before. The Arabs, uttering
their harsh guttural language, ran chattering by the side of our asses;
until some of them calling out '_Raschid!_' we perceived its domes and
turrets, apparently upon the opposite side of an immense lake or sea,
that covered all the intervening space between us and the city. Not
having in my own mind, at the time, any doubt as to the certainty of
its being water, and seeing the tall minarets and buildings of Rosetta,
with all its groves of dates and sycamores, as perfectly reflected
by it as by a mirror, insomuch that even the minutest detail of the
architecture, and of the trees, might have been thence delineated, I
applied to the Arabs to be informed in what manner we were to pass the
water. Our interpreter, although a Greek, and therefore likely to have
been informed of such a phenomenon, was as fully convinced as any of
us that we were drawing near to the water's edge, and became indignant
when the Arabs maintained, that within an hour we should reach Rosetta,
by crossing the sands in the direct line we then pursued, and that
there was no water. 'What,' said he, giving way to his impatience,
'do you suppose me an idiot, to be persuaded contrary to the evidence
of my senses?' The Arabs, smiling, soon pacified him, and completely
astonished the whole party, by desiring us to look back at the desert
we had already passed, where we beheld a precisely similar appearance.
It was, in fact, _the Mirage_, a prodigy to which every one of us were
then strangers, although it afterwards became more familiar. Yet upon
no future occasion did we ever behold this extraordinary illusion
so marvellously displayed. The view of it enabled us to imagine the
horrible despondency to which travellers must sometimes be exposed,
who, in traversing the interminable desert, destitute of water, and
perishing with thirst, have sometimes this deceitful prospect before
their eyes."

Another traveller adds a particular which is well worthy of notice.

"The most singular quality of this vapour is its power of reflection.
When a near observer is a little elevated, as on horseback, he will see
trees and other objects reflected as from the surface of a lake. The
vapour, when seen at a distance of six or seven miles, appears to lie
upon the earth like an opaque mass; and it certainly does not rise many
feet above the ground, for I observed that, while the lower part of
the town of Abusheher was hid from the view, some of the more elevated
buildings, and the tops of a few date-trees, were distinctly visible."



If you wish to understand the manner in which it is most probable that
these illusions are produced, you must closely attend to what I am
going to tell you. I will make my explanation as simple as I can, but I
shall be able to teach you nothing, unless you do your part by paying

You know that vision is produced by rays of light passing from the
object seen, to the eye of the spectator. These rays have a tendency
to form straight lines, and they would be perfectly straight, if they
had only to pass through empty space; but this cannot be the case near
the surface of the earth, as they there have to go through air, and
frequently through other transparent substances.

When these rays meet with a substance which they cannot go through, and
which is therefore called opaque, such as a man or a house, they are
turned back or _reflected_, and strike the eye of the person who may be
looking in that direction, so as to cause vision.

But when they meet with a body which they can pass through, called
therefore transparent, such as water or glass, they are turned aside
out of their original course or _refracted_; and this refraction takes
place in different degrees, according to the density of the substance.

Thus, in looking at objects through air, you do not see anything
exactly in its real position; but in looking at them through water,
the variation between the reality and the appearance is still greater,
because the density of water being greater than that of air, it will
refract more. To prove this you need only put a stick obliquely into
water, and it will look as if it were broken or bent at the surface of
the water.


The true position of the stick is marked by A B, and the apparent
position, by A C.

We see the rising sun some minutes before he has risen above our
horizon, and the setting sun after he has sunk below it, because his
rays are refracted by our atmosphere.


If the sun be at A, he will appear to a spectator on the surface of the
earth at C, as if he were at B, because the rays will be refracted at
D, which represents the limit of the atmosphere, towards C.

Perhaps you knew all this before. Well, the knowledge of these laws
will very nearly enable you to understand the wonders of which I have
told you. I will try to explain to you the manner in which it seems
that the appearances are produced by the operation of the laws.

If a ray pass through a body that refracts it from its original course,
it will go on when it has got through, in a line parallel with its
first direction.

Thus, let A B be a thick piece of glass, and C D, a ray of light
passing through it, which would be refracted from _c_ to _d_; C _c_
would be exactly parallel to _d_ D, and the point C would be seen from
D as if it were at E.


If you think a little upon this, you will see that nothing is necessary
to account for objects appearing nearer to a given point at one time
than another, or objects upon the earth appearing high up in the air,
except different degrees of refraction. Thus in the instance of the
coast of France seeming to approach Hastings, it is evident that the
effect would be produced by an extraordinary degree of refraction in a
stratum of air over the sea, through which the rays of light producing
vision must come.


The explanation will be the same as that of the diagram of the rising
sun in a former page; if the ray from A took the direction D, as under
ordinary circumstances it would do, it is evident that a spectator at
C would see nothing. But instead of this, the ray was refracted near
the middle to the point C, which represents the town of Hastings, and
therefore the object A appeared as if it had been placed at B. You
shall now hear what causes are likely to alter the refracting power of
the air at times.

When air, water, or any other substance, is made hot, it becomes
rarified, and its refracting power is thereby diminished. Have you ever
watched, while you have been on one side of a stove, or of any heated
body, the appearance of things on the other side through the air above
it? If so, you must have seen how strangely they seem to tremble. Now
this is caused by a stream of irregularly heated air rising from the
stove, and enabling you every instant to see the things beyond it more
nearly in their true position than you can through air of the ordinary

If you look through a magnifying glass at distant objects, they will
appear upside down. You may learn why this takes place from books on
optics. The same effect is produced by rays passing through a medium
which becomes gradually denser, instead of suddenly passing from one
state to another. Thus, if you take a square glass bottle and put some
clear syrup into it, and then carefully pour water on the top of that,
anything, such as a written or printed line, seen through the space
where the liquids are mixing, will appear inverted.

Again, if you take a tin tube full of water, stopped with a piece of
plain glass at each end, warm the middle of the tube, and then look at
one end, you will see an object at the other end, if held at a proper
distance, magnified, and distant objects turned upside down, just as
they would be by a convex lens. If, on the contrary, you cool the
middle of the tube, by applying ice to it, the same ensues as by using
a concave lens. If a space of cold air be between two spaces of hot
air, or the contrary, a space of hot air be between two spaces of cold
air, the effects would be the same, only they could not be produced in
so small a compass as they could with water. The space where the two
different temperatures were gradually mixing, would influence the rays
of light in the same manner as a lens on a very large scale.

Now portions of air are often made of different temperature by the
sun's rays, by evaporation, as from the surface of the sea, or
of lakes, or from marshy districts, and by winds operating under
particular local circumstances. I do not want to lengthen out this dry
story, but if you have read attentively what I have said, you will see
that various positions of masses of air heated to different degrees,
is all that is necessary to account for the instances which I have
mentioned, in which objects have appeared inverted and out of their
true positions; such as Dover Castle, Captain Scoresby's father's ship,
the French coast opposite Hastings, and the islands, and horses with
their legs upwards, described by Humboldt.

The apparitions of Souter Fell may be accounted for in like manner.
The latter one was seen at a time of civil commotion, when there were
private troops of horse exercised in all parts of the country, and so
the fact of armed horsemen being in the neighbourhood, is rendered
very probable. We have only to suppose the image of such a troop to be
brought to the side of Souter Fell, perhaps from the opposite side of
the mountain, by a complicated refraction, like that which appeared to
move Dover Castle out of its place.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the Spectre of the Brocken, the Fata Morgana, and the image which
my friend saw of the side of the hill on which he was, require another
sort of explanation, because the object and the image are seen both at
once; the latter could therefore have been no other than the reflection
of the first.

It seems likely that some vapours are capable of receiving shadows.
When I have been bathing in a river with a muddy bottom, I have often
seen my shadow on the cloud of muddy particles which I have disturbed
from the bottom, in a manner something similar to that in which I
should think this may occasionally take place.

There is, however, another theory of it. When rays pass from a thin
medium into a denser medium, the whole do not go through, but they are
_strained_, as it were, and a part are kept back and reflected. It is
thus that you see a reflection on a transparent pane of glass.

If you breathe very lightly upon it, the reflection will be still more
distinct, and the resemblance to the phenomenon we are describing
probably greater. There are then two causes of reflection, the change
of refracting power, and the presence of the watery particles.

Something of this kind perhaps occurs on the top of the Brocken. A rush
of cold air may set up from deep ravines, with water and marshy land at
the bottom, on the West side, while the rising sun is genially warming
the air on the east side of the mountains. Mind, I do not say that it
is so, but it does not seem unlikely that two currents, one of cold air
and the other of hot, thus ascend close to each other; and according to
what I have told you, there would be a reflecting power in the plane
of contact, which might be increased by the watery particles carried

A kind of aerial screen would thus be formed, which might catch
the shadow of a person on the opposite summit, cast upon it by the
horizontal rays of the morning sun. Thus you may account for the image,
and its being so greatly magnified, requires no further explanation
than I have given above; as it only needs the supposition of a mass
of heated air, with two colder ones on each side, being between the
persons and the reflecting substance.

The doubling of one of the figures was possibly occasioned by a
reflecting surface having been formed on a different plane from the
first, which might very easily occur.



I. I have now given you, my little friends an account of a few of
the wonders of the wonderful world we live in, and I hope they have
entertained you. I should like to have spoken to you of a great many
other things, but it would make my book too large.

Some of you, I dare say, are fond of some branch or other of natural
history, and perhaps you may be in the habit of collecting shells,
plants, insects, or fossils. Well, I hope a great many of you do so,
for it is a very delightful employment, when you are not learning your
regular lessons. When I was a school-boy, I loved to dig fossils out
of the earth, and many a sunny day have I spent with my hammer and
chisel under the cliffs by the sea-side, or in a stone-quarry. Many
times I laboured long without success, but at last I scraped together
a very pretty collection, and always managed to enjoy myself on these
fossil-hunting days, whether I was successful or not.

But what I want particularly to say to you before we part is, that I
hope none of you will rest satisfied with merely listening to what
others tell you, with making an orderly collection of specimens, or
recollecting merely the outsides of things. Though all these are very
good when in their proper places, they are not enough. You should
compare together different facts, and often turn them over in your
minds, always keeping in view that there is something to be learned
from them more interesting and more important than any knowledge,
however correct, respecting the shapes of crystals, shells, or plants,
or the habits of animals.

If you are diligent in thinking on what you know, you will see that
nothing stands alone in nature; every single thing is connected with
other things, so as to make up one great whole. It is true that you
will sometimes see what seems to be an exception to this; you will see
instances of conflict and disorder, and, as it seems, things destroyed
without a reason; but you will also very often find, as you come to
know more, that what seemed at first an exception was not such in
reality, and that it was what tends as much to the order and beauty of
the whole, as any of the particular things you admired at first.

II. The ancients supposed that those parts of the world which were
in the torrid zone, and those towards the North Pole, could not
be inhabited by man; and we find from their writings, that it was
something of a puzzle to know of what use they could be. They did not,
however, know much about the extent of them, for even the shape of the
earth was then unknown,--some contending that it was in the form of a
cylinder, some that it was pear-shaped, and others that it was round
and flat like a trencher. A very few made a shrewd guess at its true
figure. No one was quite certain on the subject, till navigators had
sailed round it, so as to reach, by continually going forward, the same
spot as they started from.

What men have learned within the last four centuries, has taught us
that only a small portion of the surface of the earth is uninhabitable.
Man, by the wonderful constitution of his nature, is enabled to bear
the extremes of heat and cold better than any of the animals that
are sent for his use, each of which is adapted for the particular
climate in which it may be placed. Under the most extreme variations
of the temperature of the atmosphere, the heat of our bodies, when we
are in health, is never increased or diminished more than a very few
degrees; so that a thermometer, with the bulb put into the mouth of an
Esquimaux, in a climate much below freezing, will be only three or four
degrees below what it will be in the mouth of an inhabitant of the East
Indies, where the temperature often exceeds 100 degrees.

The dog is almost the only animal that is prepared to accompany man in
all climates. The form and habits of this faithful creature vary most
surprisingly, according to the circumstances in which he is placed;
but he is everywhere the loving friend and faithful associate of man,
and ready to defend him and to share his toil, in the hot and parched
deserts of the East, or the icy regions of the North.

There are a few animals that undergo remarkable changes, to enable them
to bear the vicissitudes of the climate in which they may be placed.
The hares and the foxes of the Northern regions become covered with
white hair in winter. Now, it is proved, that a body hotter than the
surrounding atmosphere which has a white covering, cools much more
slowly than one covered with a dark colour: hence, the heat generated
inwardly is preserved and economized by the winter coats of these
animals, to the great benefit of their health and comfort.

III. Some kinds of birds that love warm climates, are taught to
assemble together at a certain season near the end of summer, almost
to a day, and start off on a pilgrimage to distant lands, where nature
is still blooming. There are these birds which all live nearly the same
sort of life,--the swift, the swallow, and the house marten, which
all bear a strong resemblance to each other. They all come to us from
the south in spring, and take their departure before the next winter.
The swifts form themselves into companies, and take their leave of
us before the middle of August; the swallows do the same about the
middle of October, and the martens at the end of the same month. Thus
these happy creatures manage to live all their life long in summer and


They are furnished with astonishing capabilities for performing these
very long journeys. You are acquainted with their slender forms, so
exactly adapted for cutting through the air, and their long, beautiful
wings. Each of these wings is moved by a muscle of prodigious power,
situated on each side of the breast-bone. Possibly you may have
noticed in larks and other birds, that are in the habit of flying long
distances, which are eaten, what a large proportion of their flesh is
in these two muscles; in the swallow, it greatly exceeds the weight of
the flesh of all the other parts of the body. You will hardly believe
it when I tell you, that the swift is able to fly at the rate of more
than a hundred miles in an hour. The little bird that perched upon
your chimney this morning, may perch to-morrow night upon one of the
pyramids of Egypt, and next week may be at the Cape of Good Hope. You
think a great deal of travelling twenty miles an hour on a railway, but
you see that is slow compared with the travelling of the swallows.

Instead of thus following the summer about over the surface of the
earth, some creatures, that love warmth, make the best of it where
they are. Some birds get into holes and other sheltered places, put
their heads under their wings, and so sleep away the winter months. The
pretty little black-eyed dormouse makes up a snug nest, and does the
same, and so do some other of our common animals. During this inactive
period, all the functions which are necessary to support life become
fitted to a state of repose; the circulation gets slower, and the
supply of inward heat sinks to the lowest temperature which life will

I dare say you have often found some sorts of snail-shells with the
snail inside, and the mouth sealed up firmly, and have taken them for
dead: this is not the case. The covering is only put over for the
winter to keep out the cold, and the creature lives till spring without
food or motion. How it must enjoy the first bright days of spring,
when it opens its eyes after its long nap, reaching out its horns, and
dragging its shell over the green grass.


IV. Then, in the distribution of different animals, there is not less
to engage our attention. The rein-deer is the support and comfort of
the Laplanders. It lives constantly on the scantiest, and apparently
least nourishing diet, and when brought into warmer climates it soon
languishes and dies. The camel only flourishes where there are large
sandy deserts, with precarious supplies both of water and solid food;
and to fit him for his peculiar line of usefulness, he has a receptacle
to contain a stock of water, which he can at pleasure turn into his
stomach, and can go eight or nine days without a fresh supply; he eats
any kind of vegetables, however dry they may be; and a pound a day is
sufficient to support him for weeks together; though he is very much
larger than any of the animals which inhabit your country. It is usual
for camels to go the whole distance from Cairo to Suez, in Egypt,
without tasting a morsel, and this remarkable faculty has been supposed
to arise from the hump upon their backs. When the animal is well
fed, this hump, which is of a fatty substance, fills out and becomes
solid; but when his food is scanty, it wastes away, and its substance
appears to go to the nourishment of the more vital parts of his frame.
His large feet rest upon the sand without sinking in, and at the rate
of about two miles an hour, he will travel thirty miles a day over a
parched desert, bearing a burden of seven or eight hundred weight. He
is called by the Arabs the Ship of the Desert.


V. You may see that there is, in every variety of circumstance,
something that enjoys itself, and has a place to fill up and a part to
act amongst the creatures which God has made. But this is not all: the
existence of the cold of the Poles, and of the heat of the Tropics, is
necessary to the well-being of the whole.

The free air that surrounds the globe, which we breathe, and through
which we see, and hear, and smell, and move, is the same in composition
in every part of the world. It contains just the same proportions of
the two gases, oxygen and nitrogen, in the coldest and the hottest
climates, in the deepest valleys and on the tallest mountains. Now,
this air, considered on a large scale, is always blowing from the Poles
towards the Equator. The more direct rays of the sun heat that portion
of the earth's surface which lies in the Torrid Zone, and therefore
the air above it is perpetually ascending to the upper regions of the
atmosphere, to make room for that which presses upon it from the Poles,
because it is cooler and heavier.

It is this process, united with the motion of the earth on its axis,
which causes the Trade Winds and Monsoons.

Now, do you not see how necessary the cold Poles are to keep the rest
of the world from becoming too hot, by supplying constant currents of
fresh air setting in upon the hotter regions from both sides? Then the
air, which ascends from the Equator, becomes cool, and travels down
again to join the air from the Poles; and so a healthful circulation is
kept up, which is necessary for all climates.

VI. It is very interesting to trace the dependance of the various
tribes of vegetables and animals on each other, and to observe how one
flourishes through the dissolution of another; and still more so to
notice the gradual development of the same parts in the kinds, as they
ascend one above another. You may see an instance of this in three of
the animals that I described to you, which were different enough in
other respects, but agreed in being without a bony skeleton, and in
having long organs round their mouths to catch their food with.

In the Acalephæ, or sea-nettles, these organs were merely filaments
without sensation, of which the use seemed to be, to entangle little
creatures in, which chance might bring in their way. The animals
themselves would seem, at first sight, to be very ill able to destroy
small crabs and other shell-fish. You would suppose that the struggles
they would make with their hard pointed legs, would tear the tender
bodies of the Acalephæ; but the deficiency is supplied by the caustic
luminous fluid which paralyzes the victim, and disables it for violent
struggles while it is detained by the filaments, before the Acalepha
attempts to swallow it.

In the Actiniæ, you will find the loose disorderly filaments changed
into feelers, with wonderfully acute sensation, regularly disposed
in a star. When a substance touches the feelers they close in with
considerable power, but seem to act more like a mechanical trap,--as
the leaves of certain plants catch flies and other insects,--than in
direct dependance on the will of the animal. However, the Actinia has
the sense of feeling, and has a perception of light and of odours,
though without eyes or nose. Having greater muscular strength and
more compactures of film, he does not need the destructive fluid with
which the Acalepha is furnished. Thus, one sort of power is made to
compensate for the loss of another.

The Sepia also catches his food by means of fleshy organs placed round
his mouth; but in him you find them possessed of amazing power, moving
in strict subjection to his will; never loosely floating about as in
the others. Then he tastes, sees, and hears, by means of a tongue,
eyes, and ears, distinctly formed.

A similar gradation is observed in the development of the various parts
composing the hand and arm in animals with perfect skeletons, in which
the bones act as levers. There is a very interesting book[C] written
on this subject, which you would do well to read; and you will see
in it that all sorts of birds, quadrupeds, and even fishes, have, in
their fore feet, wings, and fore fins, elements resembling those of
the human hand and arm. Often, in comparing only two animals, you might
fail to trace the slightest resemblance; but when one or two or more of
other kinds are placed between them, you find a sort of ladder which,
in an evident manner, unites the lowest with the highest tribes.

[Footnote C: Sir Charles Bell's Treatise on the Hand.]

At distant periods of the earth's history, you may see the same sort of
organs, and the same dependance of the creatures one on another. The
fierce Icthyosaurus, and the sly, long-necked Plesiosaurus, had eyes,
ears, tongues, and other parts, the same as our contemporaries; and
they ate and digested their food, and moved from place to place, and
preyed on each other in no other manner.

If our acquaintance with nature were much greater than it is, we should
doubtless be able to bring proofs that there is no sort of stones, of
vegetables, or of animals, nor any process or movement of the elements,
in which we have not an interest. There is no fact that is not in
some way or other connected with the whole, so as to influence its

VII. Not only are the creatures which inhabit the earth united together
by bonds of similarity of structure and appetite, of common wants and
enjoyments, and of mutual support; but we are also united with the
boundless system of worlds which the night unveils to our view. The
principle of gravitation, and the beneficent rays of the sun operating
on the planets and their moons, throw over us a plain and obvious tie
of brotherhood with the stars that we may see night after night making
their way amongst the constellations, as they move in their orbits,
distinguished by their steady light from the twinkling multitude of
fixed stars. The law that unites us to them is the same as causes a
drop of rain to descend, or a weary fly to settle on the earth.

It is not improbable, that the aerolites (if the theory which I hinted
at in a former chapter be true) may be fragments of original matter,
which have never been appropriated by any globe, and now sometimes
pitch on one planet, and sometimes on another. If this be the case, we
should be warranted in concluding that the matter of our solar system
is everywhere the same, chemically considered, and is, therefore,
governed by the same chemical laws; for the aerolites contain no
substance which is not to be found far below the surface of the earth.

Some ignorant persons, in all ages of the world, have fancied that the
relative positions of the stars to each other, at the moment of the
birth of an individual, must have an influence upon his character and
the future circumstances of his life. Thus arose what was called the
_science_ of astrology, and the practice of _casting nativities_; and
in vulgar conversation it is not unfrequent for people, who do not
know the origin of the expression, to "thank their stars," or to talk
of their "unlucky stars," which arose from the prevalence of such a
belief. This, I need hardly tell you, is all nonsense, from beginning
to end; but you may now know that there is, in reality, quite as
wonderful a connection, and as direct a one, between yourselves and the
stars, as this which was fancied to exist.

VIII. But who can tell how wide the relationship of our earth and
everything upon it is extended, through the agency of those wonderful
principles Light, Heat, and Electricity? It may seem to you impossible,
when I tell you that there is not a blade of grass or a flower on
this earth, which may not, in its little degree, affect the climate
of a star far beyond the limits of our solar system; but if you will
consider the way in which the falling of dews is regulated, you will
see that there are grounds for such a notion.

I must first tell you that it is a property of Heat, like Light, to
_radiate_ or expand itself in all directions, without limit; so that a
heated body is always sending out its heat.

Now, this radiation is influenced by the surfaces of bodies: Heat will
radiate more from a black rough surface than from a smooth white one,
and a black body will therefore much sooner get cool than a white one,
as I had occasion to tell you just now. The heat radiates rapidly from
the leaves of vegetables, though from different kinds of plants in very
different degrees, while from stones and dry wood it radiates very

Heat is also _reflected_, or turned back, by meeting with certain
objects; and in this respect, too, it resembles light. You have
possibly seen experiments showing this, made with polished metal

At night time, when the sun's rays are not present, as the heat
radiates quickly from the plants on the ground, each plant becomes
thereby cooler than the earth and stones which surround it. This causes
the watery particles which the air contains, to condense on its leaves
and flowers, in the same manner as you see the moisture in the air of
a crowded room, settle on the outside of a glass of cold water; and,
what is most wonderful, the surface of each plant is so constructed as
to allow the escape of just so much heat, and to receive just so much
dew in return, as its peculiar nature requires. You may see, if you
look, that some plants always have more dew on them than others.

On a cloudy night, when dews are not so much required, a great part of
the heat thus radiated is sent back, being reflected by the clouds.
Hence the dew falls less heavily at such a time than on a clear
starlight night, when every blade of grass and every little flower
sends out its ray of heat to an indefinite extent, and may possibly
meet another ray from the Dog-stars or one of the Pleiades!

This is very wonderful; but if you think, you will perceive that it
is not more wonderful than that a ray of light should travel so far.
Every particle of the surface of these stars does its part in emitting
light, and by that the light of our nights is increased; and if Light
is affected by such remote influences, why should not Climate be so

IX. As everything has a place to fill up amongst the creatures by which
it becomes connected with the universal system, we find innumerable
instances of things being most wonderfully provided with powers of
retaining the position for which they were created, when circumstances
may oppose it. The tendency which every animal has to preserve its
own life, supplies abundant illustration. It is this which causes the
Arctic animals to change their colour to white in winter, and the
swallows to migrate to warmer regions. But there is something selfish
in this, as the provision is merely to save the animal's own life.
Much more beautiful is it to observe the operation of the affections
of parent animals towards their offspring, by which the young, when
they are incapable of taking care of themselves, are kept alive and
preserved from injury often at the sacrifice of the enjoyment, and
even of the life of their parent. You will remember what I told you
respecting the love of the old whales towards the _suckers_. Nothing
parts with its own life willingly, but in a great many animals it may
be seen that there is a greater regard to the preservation of their
race than of their own individual lives.


X. These tendencies may be seen in vegetables as well as in animals.
The young buds of various plants, of the common poppy for example, hang
down their heads, so that the bottom of the _calyx_, as it is called by
botanists, is placed upwards, and forms a sort of thatch or roof. When
the flower spreads out its bright broad leaves, although its weight
is increased, yet it then boldly lifts up its head to the sun, and
the neck of the stalk which seemed unable to bear up the bud, is well
able to sustain the full flower. Now if it were otherwise, and if the
bud held the same position as the flower, the rain would run into the
calyx and would lie there, so as to cause the _petals_ or leaves of the
future flower to become rotten.

In this Kingdom of Nature, the unwillingness to part with life is even
more wonderfully exhibited than in animals.

Seeds have been known to retain their principle of life for centuries,
and long after they have seemed perfectly dead and dry, when placed
in proper circumstances, they have sent out shoots and borne flowers
and fruit. Mr. White relates, that when some old beech trees were
removed from a spot in the neighbourhood of Selborne, where they must
have stood for ages, some strawberry plants sprung up, of which the
seeds must have lain dormant under the roots of the beeches. When the
Spaniards took possession of Peru, many of the race of Incas, the
rulers of that country, fled to the deserts and took with them what
provisions they could carry. There are now, sometimes, found in these
deserts, ancient vessels with very narrow mouths, containing at the
bottom a few grains of _maize_ or Indian corn, the remains of the stock
of those poor exiles. I have got one of the vessels; and the maize
which came out of it was sown, and took root and bore seed, though it
must have been bottled up for considerably more than three centuries.

But now I am going to tell you something still more surprising than
this. The Ancient Egyptians, from some notion connected with their
religion, used at times to place in the hands and under the soles of
the feet of the bodies they embalmed, the roots of a kind of lily. The
roots are of a bulbous sort, not much unlike an onion, and they have
often been found on those mummies which have been uncovered. One or two
of them have been set to vegetate, and have actually borne flowers and
seed, after having slumbered in a mummy coffin for considerably more
than 2000 years!

XI. You know that some seeds have wings or sails, by means of which
they are transported by the winds over land and sea for very many
miles. The thistle-down everybody is acquainted with. There is an
eastern annual plant whose seeds are provided with wings, which, in
a most curious manner, it only uses when it needs them, as you shall
hear. It grows in the little pools that occur here and there in the
deserts of Arabia, which, as you may suppose, in a hot climate and a
sandy soil, are very apt to dry up at some seasons of the year. The
seeds grow on the stalk enclosed in a roll of flaxen fibres, and when
they are ripe they fall off, and if the water continues till the next
year, they spring up close by where their parent plant lived. But
should the pool dry up, the flaxen fibres become dry and spread out
into wings, the wind takes hold of them, and away flies the seed till
it reaches a more favoured spot. When it is lucky enough to get to the
water, the pod speedily bursts open, and the seeds take root at the
bottom. You see how, by a simple mechanical contrivance, this plant is
enabled to do the same for the preservation of its species, as I told
you the Actinia did by a very simple exercise of instinct, for the
preservation of itself.

XII. Because you wonder at the works of creation, you feel a desire to
search into them. You will find out many things, and you may learn to
explain a great many things, the reasons of which you are ignorant of
at present. Still, your wonder will not be satisfied; on the contrary,
the further you go, the more it will be excited. You will have to
go wondering on, but if you proceed in the right disposition, every
addition to your knowledge will increase your admiration and love;
for everything was made by the loving and wise God, and therefore
the whole must necessarily be beautiful and harmonious, and there is
nothing which has not its place to fill, and its part to act. May you,
my little friends, ever keep in mind that you are not left out of this
Divine Plan; and that there is a place to be filled, and duties to
be performed, by each one of you, which are not left to a mechanical
contrivance nor to animal instinct; but must be found out and fulfilled
by a never dying Spirit, which must be conscious of what it is about,
and is responsible to God for every action.









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Transcriber Note

Some of the quoted passages have unusual spelling for some words. These
were left as is; but other minor typos may have been corrected.

The Table of Contents and page 69 list name "Skapta-Jokul" and
"Skaptar Jokul" respectively. A web search shows that the more common
spelling was "Skapta Jokul" and both were changed to that. Some page
references in the Table of Contents were corrected. A reference to
"Plate XVI, fig. 4" on page 246 has been corrected to "Plate XV, fig.
4". Illustrations were moved so as to prevent splitting paragraphs.
All materials were obtained from The Internet Archive and any files
produced are placed in the Public Domain.

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