Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of Illustrations
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Title: A book for the sea-side
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00002247/00001
 Material Information
Title: A book for the sea-side with numerous engravings
Physical Description: viii, 275, 4 p. : ill. ; 17 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Religious Tract Society (Great Britain) ( Publisher )
Publisher: The Religious Tract Society
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: <1852?>
Subject: Glory of God -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Seashore -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Bryozoa -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Beaches -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Fishes -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1852   ( rbgenr )
Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1852   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1852
Genre: Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
Pictorial cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
General Note: Publisher's advertisement follows text.
General Note: Includes index.
General Note: Date from inscription.
Funding: Brittle Books Program
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00002247
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002222358
oclc - 45839843
notis - ALG2599
 Related Items
Other version: Alternate version (PALMM)
PALMM Version

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front cover 1
        Front cover 2
        Front cover 3
        Front cover 4
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
    List of Illustrations
        Page vii
        Page viii
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    Back Matter
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Full Text


- A


The Baldwin Library
i *,,.^m Univershy
O f. f


CI r ()C ~ )

akT.. ~:




Beautiful, sublime, and glorious;
Mild, majestic, foaming, free;-
Over time itself victorious,
Image of Eternity.
Such art thou, stupendous Ocean!
But, if overwhelmed by thee,
Can we think without emotion,
What must thy Creator be ?

Wtillt 3hmursus 4ngranings.









FISHES .. . . .

. 1


. 3


AND SHELLS .. ....



OF THE SEA ........ ......... 123


SEA-WEEBDS . . .. .. 148


SEA-BIRDS . ... .. . .. .. 193






Margate (Frontispiece).
Sea View . .
Terebratula Truncata .
Section of an Ammonite
Belemnite .. ...
Dover . .
Samphire . .
Sea-cabbage .
Tamarisk . .
Fishermen .. ...
Heads of the Herring .
Mackerel Midge ..
The Father Lasher .
The Fishing-frog, or Angler
The Wolf-fish .. ...
The John Dory ..
Head of the Sucker-fish .
The Sun-fish ..
The Beach .. ...
Yellow-horned Poppy .
The Ascidia ..
Botryllus ..
Teredo Navalis ..
Pholas Dactylus .


. 11
. 12
. 13
. 16
. 18
. 23
. 33
. 36
. 39
. 47
. 55
. 60
. 61
. 63
. 66
. 69
. 71
. 74
. 78
. 80
. 81
. 83

The Barnacle .
Solen Ensis ..
Psammobia Ferroensis
Tellina Tenuis .
Group of Mactra .
Donax Trunculus .
Pinnae . .
Pecten Opercularis .
Anomia Ephippium .
Muddy red Trochus .
Octopus Vulgaris .
Pevensey Bay ..
Convolvulus Soldanella .
Comatula Rosacea .
Uraster Rubens .
Ophiura Texturata .
Shell of Globular Echinus
Crickieth Castle, Wales.
Fucus Nodosus .
Fucus Vesiculosus .
Cysosteira Ericoides .
Halidrys Siliquosa .
Chorda Filum .
Delesseria Sinuosa .

. 86
. 92
. 93
. 94
. 95
. 96
. 101
. 106
. 108
. 113
. 121
. 123
. 128
. 131
. 133
. 135
. 136
. 148
. 155
. 156
. 160
. 162
. 166
. 171


Rhodymenia Palmata 173
Laurencia Pinnatifida 176
Chondrus Crispus .177
Griffithsia Setacea 180
The Hair-flag . .. 181
Corallina Officinalis 182
Ulva Latissima . 187
The Needles, Isle of Wight 192
Fishing off Yarmouth 193
Sea-gulls ...... 196
Larus Ridibundus .. 198
Read of Guillemot 206
Head of Razor-bill Auk 209
Head of Puffin .209
The Cormorant .211
The Stormy Petrel .. 215
Brading Harbour, Isleof Wight 223

Prickly Sea-mouse
Terebella Variabilis
Terebella Medusa
Scarborough .
Sea-anemones and

S. 224
. .228
S. 229
S. 239
other Ac-

tiniae . .. 241
Sea-fir . . 253
Magnified portion of the Sea-fir 254
Sea-hair ...... .. 255
Magnified portion of Sea-hair 255
Sickle-beard .. . 257
Magnified portion of Sickle-
beard .. . 258
Flustra Carbacea ... .. 263
Magnified portion of the Sea-
mat .. . 264
Action of a Living Sponge 269





THE noonday sun is shining out upon the sea in all
its lustre, and the small waves come rippling up on the
pebbles so peacefully, that the melody of their motion
is heard only'by those who wander in silence on the
shore. The old cliffs towering up so boldly are gleam-
ing in its light, and contrasting beautifully with that

;~ ,- '
r'' .J .. i
~I -~
r r .


deep blue sky above them, and with the golden flowers
whose seeds were scattered there by the wild wind,
making each crevice a spot of fertility and brightness.
That great and wide sea! With what earnest and
solemn thoughts did the psalmist look upon it, as he
pondered on the things innumerable, both small and
great, which dwell among its depths; as he saw the
white sails of the ships, and mused on the stormy
wind which lifteth up the waters; and remembered,
with solemn confidence and joy, that word of power
which "maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves
thereof are still !"
The old ocean rolls on yet, as mightily and as musi-
cally as it did then, bearing to us all the same recollec-
tions as it brought to Israel of old; fraught, too, with
other associations of power and sweetness. We look
on its waves, to remember how the Saviour himself
walked upon the waters, in the calm majesty of the
Godhead, and with the loving spirit of human sympa-
thy. For us are written the words of pity and en-
couragement which he spoke, when, though the disciples
had but little faith, he could yet save and cheer them
with the assurance, "It is I; be not afraid." For us,
too, is recorded a description of that haven of rest upon
which the believer shall one day enter, where no storm
shall terrify, no wave shall roll its sorrow; for there
shall be "no more sea."
That sea told, to by-gone ages, of the Eternal Power
and Godhead ;" and the greater revelations still which it
has made to the men of modern days, have taught us
this as impressively as the waves themselves could
utter it, had they voices to tell the truth. Suc-
ceeding generations have learned more thoroughly to
read the handwriting of God on the page of nature, as
one thoughtful mind has bequeathed to another some-
thing of the results of its own researches ; and the
flowers of the fields, and the stars of the sky, and the
wonders of the deep, are now so much better known
and understood, that nature should bear to us a still

more impressive lesson of Deity than it conveyed to
our fathers.
That deep, independently of its vast stores of life, is
in itself a wonder, and has a wonderful influence on the
earth and its inhabitants. Three-fifths of the entire
surface of our globe are surrounded with water,-a
proportion so absolutely necessary for maintaining the
productive powers of the land, that were any change to
take place in these relations, a barren and withered
condition would quickly succeed to its present fer-
tility. It is by means of the vapours perpetually
arising from so vast a body of water, that the atmo-
sphere is rendered sufficiently moist for the use both of
animals and vegetables. The presence of this moisture
renders the neighbourhood of the sea favourable to a
luxuriant vegetation; and although on many parts of
our coast this is not to be seen, and the trees on the
shore are few and stunted, it is because the land there
is generally very much exposed to high winds; the
soil is rocky, sandy, or chalky; and the constituents of
sea air, though absolutely necessary to the growth of
many plants, are unfavorable to others. Still, not-
withstanding the aspect of sterility of a large portion of
the coast, there are sheltered places, and better soils,
which are well wooded, and have luxuriant flowers.
The great beauty of the natural productions of the
Channel Islands is often attributed to their lying in the
midst of the waters. The environs and neighbourhood
of the town of St. Helier's, in Jersey, build immediately
in front of the sea, are remarkable for their fertility,
for their cabbages seven feet high, for their flowering
shrubs down close to the shore, and for their beautiful
myrtles; while the banks of Guernsey are gay with
their daffodils and primroses, sweet with their woodbine
scents, and tuneful with their singing birds. Ivy grows
about the rocks near the sea, in Jersey, so as to make
the sea-cliffs seem like ruins; and nowhere are flowers,
both of wood and garden, finer than in the Channel

Even on our own southern shores there is a general
appearance of luxuriance, and many plants of tropical
lands will flourish by the sea, which would not thrive so
well away from its influence. It is a generally acknow-
ledged fact, that the climate of a place on the shore is
not so cold as that of an inland district in the same
latitude. The atmosphere near the sea is never heated,
during the day, to the same degree as in a place of that
latitude far from the coast; but it is, in the same pro-
portion, less cooled through the night; and the result
is, not a colder, but a warmer climate than an inland
place near it. The absence, also, of the extremes of
daily heat and cold diminish the annual extremes of
summer and winter; and thus a climate is produced
which is favourable to the growth of these plants of
warmer countries. The myrtle thrives in Ireland,
almost as well as in Portugal; and so, too, on the coast
of Devonshire,
The meek unshelter'd myrtle sweetly blooms."
At Salcombe, this plant and the aloe attain remarkable
perfection. Several houses in Mary Church, and, in-
deed, of almost every village on the southern coast of
Devon, are profusely adorned with the former plant.
Even on more exposed and colder coasts, as at Dover,
in gardens sheltered by the cliffs, may be seen the
rich orange fruits of the common passion-flower, look-
ing, as they hang from the green bough, scarcely less
beautiful than the starry blossoms which hung among
those festoons in the summer.
That this sea air, with its peculiarities, is favourable
to the health of man, and exceedingly beneficial in
many cases of disease, all experience has proved. Most
of our sea-side towns are the gathering places of thou-
sands during summer; while others afford a sheltered
asylum to the invalid in the cold of winter. There the
patient breathes an atmosphere impregnated with a
profusion of common salt, and a lesser degree of bromine
and iodine; substances which, if inhaled into the system,

have a singular and restorative power. So favourable
to the health of the lungs is the salt air, that in Alex-
andria, which is at all times damp, but the atmosphere
of which is surcharged with muriate of ammonia and
muriate of soda, disease of the lungs is unknown. The
saline particles are so abundant there, that it is quite
impossible to keep iron from rust, and they condense on
the walls and furniture of the houses in small crystals.
The constant agitation of the waves has also a most
important influence on the neighbourhood of the ocean.
It is by means of their incessant 'motion that the air
is purified. Those deep waters contain, not only the
living, but the dead. Vast masses of decomposing
animal and vegetable matters, the refuse of the sea
itself, and the refuse also of the land, lie beneath the
waves. The mineral ingredients of the waters them-
selves possess a fetid, slimy matter, of which we are
made conscious by their bitter and nauseous flavour,
which is probably induced by the decomposition going
on in the ocean. So great is the amount of this,
that if sea-water remain long without agitation, it
passes into a state of putrefaction; and on some low
tropical coasts, where long calms are experienced, it
exhales very unpleasant odours, which are noxious also
in their effects on the health of man. Much of the
decomposing matter is devoured by living creatures, to
whom God has given a voracious appetite, that they
may prey on dead things; much is assimilated to the
nutrition of the sea-weeds; and the brine preserves
much from decay: yet, after all, we need those ever-
rolling waves to render the air perfectly healthful.
Besides the physical influences of the sea air on thQ
visitors to our shores, there are various mental ones,
which go to aid in the restoration of lost health. We
live in days of peculiar mental excitement, in days of
great contrasts of religious opinions, of great competi-
tion in all departments of the business of life, and
when even the hours of recreation are but too often
occupied with pleasures of an exciting nature. The
B 3

very facilities of travelling afforded to the men of our
times, and the various other methods of dispatch so
general now, have given to the present age a restless
activity, which, favourable as it is to progress, is, doubt-
less, often unfavourable to bodily health. Never was
there a time when repose of mind was more desirable,
and when the occasional relaxation of a sea-side visit
was more commonly needed. Here, free alike from the
cares of life and from household anxieties, from the
stimulating pleasures of fashion, and even from the
more reasonable restraints of society, the wanderer by
the shore may find repose; while, if he have a mind at
leisure to contemplate nature, he may behold himself
surrounded by all that is sublime and soothing. Here
are no temptations to linger within doors. The shining
sun, and the rolling sea, and the fresh pure breezes,
encourage him to bodily exercise. Even the mind of
the listless or idle can find some amusement in watching
the coming and going of the vessels, the mirth of the
glad companies of children, and the playful merriment
of older people, who, in the glad buoyancy inspired by
the air, are wisely forgetting that they are no longer
children, as they play with the advancing waves. To
the reflective mind, however,-to the lover of nature
and of knowledge,-what a field is here for thought
and interest! Those who already know something of
marine productions, and are longing to know more,
have only to wander on with observing eyes, and proofs
of the skill and power of God shall be brought by the
waters to their very hand. Even those, who without
thinking further of these things, but who have a love
of beauty and grace, find their gratification here among
the most common objects around them; while the sea
itself, in its grandeur of storm or its smoothness of
calm, amidst the glowing hues of the rising or setting
sun, or by the light of the silver moon and the stars, is
a never-failing source of admiration.
The fitness of those waters for the purposes of civi-
lization and of moral and religious progress, cannot fail

to interest the considering man. To cast the eye on
a map of the world, and see how islands, continents, and
other portions of land are separated by the sea, one
might think that it would prove a barrier to the inter-
course of nations. But the God who spake those seas
into existence gave. to man the skill to traverse them,
and to make them the silent and pathless highway, over
which, in safety and comparative speed, those ships
should be borne which go so often to carry, from land
to land, the necessaries and luxuries of life, and to
awaken to thought and feeling, to light and to devotion,
the people who have long dwelt in moral darkness.
We know but little of the depths of seas. Our En-
glish Channel, at the east of the Eddystone lighthouse,
is not more than fifty fathoms deep, and its depth in-
creases but slowly to the west. The Irish Channel is
some thirty or forty fathoms deeper than this, but the
depth of the main body of the sea is far greater; and
in some parts of the Atlantic no bottom was found in
soundings which reached 300 fathoms, while in sound-
ings made in several places between Spitzbergen and
Greenland, with from 780 to 1200 fathoms, no base
was reached.
As we walk on the shore, looking on the sea, we re-
mark how variously it seems coloured at different parts.
Here a long line of darkly tinted sea-weeds, growing on
rocks just covered with water, and which at low tide
form a margin to the shore, gives to the waters above
them a blackish hue. Now a passing cloud tinges the
surface with a bright sea-green, or a line glitters like
gold in the sunlight. It is not, however, till we have
quitted the shore and sailed away into greater depths,
that we come into what the sailor terms blue water, and
see the beautiful ultramarine tint of the sea. This
was long supposed to be caused by reflection from the
atmosphere; but as it is often of a far deeper blue
than the sky itself, and as it is blue still when murky
clouds obscure the azure, its cause must yet be sought.
Some changes occur in this blue colour owing to the

material and hue of the soil beneath the waves, and it
is modified by the presence of shoals. The Greenland
sea has long been known to vary more than most others,
changing its tint from ultramarine to olive-green, and
passing from the most perfect clearness to deep opacity.
Mr. Scoresby ascertained that in this case the green
colour and opaqueness were caused by innumerable
animals of the tribe of jelly-fishes, which, when ex-
amined, seemed like little crystal drops or air-bubbles,
being semi-transparent globular substances, about one-
twentieth or one-thirtieth part of an inch in diameter.
These exist, but in far less quantity, in the bluish-
green water ; but so innumerable are they in the olive-
green part of the sea, that Mr. Scoresby calculated that
a cubic fathom of this water would contain twenty-three
millions eight hundred and eighty-seven thousand eight
hundred and seventy-two individuals.
How regular are many of the operations of nature!
We lie down at night after seeing the sun apparently
sink in the waves of the west, knowing confidently that
it will again to-morrow gild the eastern gates of the
heavens. So it is with the flowers and fruits in their
appointed seasons : so it is with death itself ; for however
human life maybe prolonged,we know that the threescore
years and ten shall have few to succeed them. Constant
as any law of nature, is that which regulates the rise
and ebb of the tide. Every mariner can calculate upon
it; yet as we daily mark this regularity, we know not
how it is to be accounted for. We are aware of the
fact that the alternate ebb and flow are caused by the
attraction of the sun and moon; but when the philo-
sopher is asked to explain that attraction, he declares it
to be inexplicable-he only knows it by its results.
Like electricity, like life itself, like the eternity revealed
by the Scripture, it cannot be explained ; and the mind
of the Christian, while contemplating such subjects, is
compelled, amidst the feeling of his own finite under-
standing, to think on the infinite nature of God.
The difference made by the winds in the surface of


the sea is not only useful in changing all the air about
us, but it gives it its various aspects of beauty or sub-
limity. Now the margin of the ocean is scarcely
rippled into a wave, and is falling gently on the shore.
Now it is somewhat rougher, and far away over the blue
distance we see those breaking surges, which the sailor
calls white heads or white horses. Again the wind
sweeps sullenly over the sea, and rising higher and
higher, strikes the face of the water in an oblique
direction, driving a portion on the surface over that
which is near; and, raising it thus so far above the ordi-
nary level, accumulates so much water as that the
wind cannot maintain it in that position, and thus again
it dashes downwards. Every wave presents to the
windward a gently ascending surface, and to the lee-
ward a nearly perpendicular descent; while the size of
the wave is greatly determined by the strength of the
wind which raises it, though varying in some measure
according to the depth and extent of the sea. The
waves on our own shores seldom rise to a height of more
than six or eight feet above the level of the water; but
stronger gales and deeper seas have waves far more
terrible to the sailor. Nor do the waves subside
always immediately as the wind lowers; for when the
gale is over they still keep raging on awhile, bring-
ing up to us as we wander by them many a treasure
which winds and waters have torn from the deep,
Amidst all the changes effected by winds and waves,
few thoughtful persons look upon the sea without
feeling the truth of the words of the poet, who, in
describing the tide, says-
"Its everlasting changes bring no change;"
and who refers to
"The ocean's face immutable as heaven's."
Something like these are the thoughts which arise
within us as we look upon the cliffs. Numerous ages



have rolled away since they were in the course of
formation. Even since the period when our land re-
ceived its name from the white cliffs about our shore,
more than sixty generations have lived and died.
Could the men of those times revisit earth, how great
would be the alterations which they would see in things
around! Nothing, perhaps, would seem familiar to
them save that unchanging sea and those everlasting
hills. One generation passeth away, and another
generation cometh; but the earth abideth for ever."
What revelations of older ages lie embedded among
the mass of which our cliffs are composed! The chalk
is entirely a marine deposit. That white substance is
composed of lime and carbonic acid, and may have been
precipitated from water holding lime in solution, from
which an excess of carbonic acid was expelled. But a
large proportion of our purest chalk is evidently chiefly,
if not wholly, composed of the remains of corals,
zoophytes, shells, star-fishes, and other animal sub-
stances; and in some portions of chalk, relics of sea-
weeds appear in great abundance. We can at any
time find remains of large shells in the chalk; but
never till the microscope was brought to bear upon the
crushed or perfect shells which form the grains of this
material, could we imagine how many myriads of these
lay hidden to the human eye. Ehrenberg ascertained
the wonderful fact, that a cubic inch of chalk contains
upwards of a million of the fossil remains of perfect
shells and corals. Little does the thoughtless wan-
derer on the shore think to what small animals he is
indebted for the portion of earth on which he is walking.
That chalk too will, if burned, make as good lime as the
hardest marble. Many buildings have been made of
chalk. Thus the abbey of Hurley, in Berkshire, and its
parish church, anciently a chapel, are said to be made of
chalk, and the remains of these are as fresh and unim-
paired as if the builders had been men of the last century.
The same may be said of the abbey at St. Omer's, which
was ruined during the French Revolution, but which still



retains its beautiful Gothic ornaments in great per-
fection. Many other deposits besides the chalk consist
largely of marine remains, and, like these hills, some-
times stand far away from the present boundaries of
ocean, containing still traditions of the sea. But the
extensive and magnificent range of chalk cliffs along our
southern coasts, and the remarkable features and per-
fectly distinctive characters of this rock, render it more
especially a fitting subject for our remarks.
Among those patriarchal cliffs some of the commonest
fossils may be found at any time, but we may chance
too to find some of the rarest; for however carefully
any portion of cliffs may have been examined, the fre-
quent fracture, and constant wearing of the surface,
leave fresh parts yet unstudied. The shells contained
in the chalk are often somewhat similar to those which
are now washed up by the waves, and are at once
recognized as resembling familiar things; but they are
found to be different species from those now in our seas.
Oysters, scallops, tellens, and various other common
genera abound there; while there are also many, which
even at a glance we know to be different from the
shells of the present times. The shells found in the
chalk are chiefly two-valved species. The most nu-
merous kinds of shells which we shall
find are the different species of terc-
bratula, which are two-valved shells,
sometimes quite smooth, in other
kinds furrowed; various shells belong
to the oyster tribe, one of which is ex-
ceedingly similar to our oyster, and TRUNCATA.
several scallop-shells, well known by
the ridges, which run like rays from the top of the
shell to the base. But perhaps the shells most easily
described to a reader unacquainted with these ob-
jects, are those of the nautilus and ammonite. The
ammonite is altogether extinct in our seas, yet it
must once have abounded there, for in some lime-
stone districts the marble is almost wholly composed



of its shells; and at low water on some parts of
the Sussex coast, where the chalk forms the basis,
enormous specimens are often seen embedded. The

ammonite (Cornu Ammonis,) was so named from its
fancied resemblance to the horn of Jupiter Ammon,
and it varies in size from a most minute shell to one of
twelve, or even fourteen feet in circumference. This
coiled shell is well known in geological collections by
the name of snake-stone. Old superstitions relate
Of a thousand snakes each one
Was turned into a coil of stone
When holy Hilda pray'd."
And some similar traditions yet linger in the north of
England, where these shells abound. The species of
the nautilus found in chalk will be easily distinguished
from other shells, because although the exact forms are
extinct, yet the nautilus still spreads its gauzy sail to
the zephyrs of tropical seas, and its clear and beauti-
fully formed shell is so commonly used as an ornament
that we are all familiar with it. The nautilus and its
congeners are among the earliest traces of the animal
kingdom, and must once have been very numerous.
Mrs. Howitt's lines to this fossil shell are very appro-
priate :-
"Thou didst laugh at sun and breeze,
In the new-created seas;
Thou wast with the reptile broods
In the old sea solitudes;



Sailing in the new-made light
With the curl'd-up ammonite.
Thou survivd'st the awful shock
Which turn'd the ocean-bed to rock,
And changed the myriad living swarms
To the marble's veined forms."
It is not always the shells themselves which we find as
fossil relics, sometimes it is but the cast of the am-
monite or the nautilus. The same may be said of those
spiral species, the tower shells, (Turrilites,) which occur
in the chalk in great abundance, and the largest speci-
mens of which are found in the cliffs of Dover, and in
the chalk marl at Ringmer, near Lewes, in Sussex.
Everybody familiar with chalk cliffs has
seen there those common fossils the belemnites,
which form almost the entire substance of
some limestones on the continent. They are
long cylindrical stones, terminating in a point,
and having at the uppermost and largest end,
a conical cavity. In perfect specimens a shell
is situated in the hollow, but this is rarely
found in the chalk fossil. These belemnites i
are commonly called thunder-stones, and the
writer has heard children term them slate-
pencils, and seen them used for writing on
slates. Sometimes they are dark brown,
sometimes clear as amber, and though usually
about the size of a common lead-pencil, yet
they are occasionally twelve inches long. BELEMNITE.
But as chalk cliffs are not found on every shore, we
must not linger over their contents. Star-fishes and
various kinds of sea eggs, or echinites, as the geologist
calls them, are plentiful there; the last equalling in
number all the other shells found in this deposit,
one entire genus being peculiar to it. Helmet-shaped,
conical, heart-shaped, and spheroidal sea eggs may all
be easily distinguished, sometimes having on them the
remains of their spiny covering, sometimes presenting
on their surfaces the traces whence the spines have
been detached.
Perhaps a wanderer, in striking some ledge of that



old chalk cliff, may bring to light a fossil fish, more or
less perfect in form, and lying there as if it had been
moulded in plaster of Paris, with fins, scales, head, teeth,
and sometimes even with the capsule of the eye, all plainly
visible. Each geological formation exhibits groups of
fossil fishes, but those found in the chalk are evidently
the representatives of species which have now no exist-
ence in our seas.
These fossil remains not only reveal absolute facts to
the man of science, but enable him often to deduce
valuable inferences of a less obvious character. We
will adduce one simple mode of reasoning from an
isolated fact, in order to show this to the reader.
Those common fossils, the trilobites, are found to have
the compound eyes belonging to existing insects, and to
animals of the crab and lobster kind-crustaceous, as the
naturalist terms them. This construction proves that
the mutual relations of light to the eye, and of the eye
to light, were the same in the periods when the trilo-
bites flourished as at the present day; and that the con-
dition of the waters of the sea and of the atmosphere,
and the relation of both to light, have undergone no
change during the years which, minute by minute, have
been since then rolling onwards to eternity. This will
show how much may be learned of the past by thought-
ful inquiry into its relics. The steps in the progress in
any department of science may be slow, but when once
made, the knowledge becomes, as has been well ob-
served, "a mighty instrument of thought, enabling us
to link together the phenomena of past and future
times, and gives the mind a domination over many
parts of the natural world, by teaching it to comprehend
the laws by which the Creator has ordained that the
actions of material things shall be governed."'
Beds of flint in the upper chalk are too obvious not to
be seen by all; and often, embedded in the chalk, or lying
at its base, or mingling with the pebbles of the beach,
we may find masses of iron pyrites. This is sometimes
called copperas, and round pieces of it are known on


some parts of our coast by the name of potatoe-stones or
thunderbolts, and are common articles of sale among
the fossils in sea-side places. These masses are often
bronzed on the surface, but in some cases they have
glittering small knobs. Many of them are no larger
than a pea, occurring from that size to pieces several
inches in diameter. They are mostly crystalline, and
on being broken generally exhibit a fibrous and diverg-
ing structure of glittering rays. Beautiful little
crystals of this mineral are often found filling the
cavities of shells. Sometimes the chalk is stained of
rich rust colour by this iron, thus contrasting with its
pure whiteness. Fossil fish, too, are often marked with
most brilliant tints, their bones, scales, etc. having a
rich bronzed hue. This is owing to the circumstance
that during the process of their decomposition they
emitted sulphuretted hydrogen, and this sulphur enter-
ing into combination with the surrounding water,
sulphuret of iron was formed by the chemical action.




OF whatever geological formation our cliffs may be,
they contain hidden objects of great interest. But
this is not all. There is an outward beauty con-
ferred on many; and soft green grasses, and flowering
shrubs, and blossoms of the richest hue, are studding
their slopes and summits. The wild sea-bird looks
down on many a lovely floweret, blooming far from the
eye of man; and plants which we should search for in
vain on inland meadows or banks, have their home


here, and are sending their roots down in that soil,
consolidating it by their fibres. To see how small a
portion of earth is lodged in the crevices, and what
a shallow ridge of land crowns the height-to hear the
roaring gales of winter rushing round the cliffs-one
would think that this was no place for flowers.
But if gales blow there, the high cliff forms on the
other side a shelter, and the sun shines out in all its
glory there as elsewhere; and plants suited to barren
places and sea airs spring up and thrive, and green
leaves wave to the morning gale or sparkle with the
evening dewdrops.
Man who, panting, toils
O'er slippery steeps, or, trembling, treads the verge
Of yawning gulfs, o'er which the headlong plunge
Is to eternity, looks shuddering up,
And marks you in your placid loveliness-
Fearless, yet frail."
Not to tell of white knots of squinancy wort, look-
ing like patches of snow; or blossoms of the eyebright,
almost hidden among the grass; of golden rock-roses
and wallflowers; of clumps of honey-scented bedstraw,
and wide-spread masses of bugloss, blue as the heaven
above-we must describe such flowers, and such only,
as belong to the sea-side; and if found at all away from
the melody of Ocean's music, are only to be seen clus-
tering on the mountain heights of lands distant from
the sea. Some of them, indeed, are found nowhere
save on the sea-coast.
Such a plant is the samphire (Crithmum maritimum),
whose green tufts hang high up on several of our sea-
side cliffs, always beyond the reach of even the highest
tide, though not so far removed as that a dashing surf
may not sometimes send up its spray upon them.
Sometimes this plant grows within the reach of the
passer-by; but more often the eye of the flower-lover
detects it far away from his grasp, knowing it easily
from all other plants by its clumps of sea-green foliage,
varied in August by clusters of little pale yellow flowers.
The tallest stalks are usually about a foot in length,



and it is very succulent in its nature. It belongs to
the umbelliferous tribe of plants, and its clusters grow
in rays from a central point, like the spokes of an


umbrella. This is the sampler, or sampire, of our older
writers, mentioned in so many ballads and poems, and
referred to by Shakspeare. It is decidedly the best
fitted of all our wild plants for pickling; for it does not,
like the saltwort, which is often sold as its substitute,
depend wholly for its excellence on vinegar and spices.
It is pungent and agreeable in flavour, though not
often in our days used as a salad, as it was formerly.
It would, however, be no bad addition to this dish;
and some who have studied various subjects connected
with the diet of past and present times, are of opinion
that the modern salad is very inferior to that served up
two hundred years ago. The samphire is still pickled
at sea-side places, and may, in its season, be procured
in the London market; but were John Evelyn living,
he might complain now, with even more justice than he



did in the days of the second Charles, of the general
neglect of this herb. This writer remarks that, for its
"aromatic and other excellent vertues," and effects
against the spleen, for sharpening the appetite and
various good purposes, it is "so far preferable to most
of our hotter herbs and sallet ingredients," that he says,
" I have often wondered it has not been propagated in
the potagere, as it is in France, from whence I have
frequently received the seeds, which have prospered
better and more kindly with me than what comes from
our coasts. It does got, indeed, pickle so well, as being
of a more tender stalk and leaf; but in all other
respects, for composing sallets, it has nothing like it."
Gardeners of our days have cultivated it for pickling
with great success; but a large quantity of it dies
ungathered every summer on many of our sea-side
rocks and cliffs, or remains half through the winter, to
enliven them with its greenness. The French call it
creste-marin, or la bacile; but long before the time
of John Evelyn, it was called by them herbe de St.
Pierre, of which our modern name seems the corrup-
tion. It is the critmo of the Italians, and the meer-
fenchel of the Germans.
Hanging like tresses down the rocky sides, we may
often see the green trailing stalks of that little plant,
the sea spurrey sandwort (Arenaria marina). It is
very succulent, its stems about as thick as twine, its
leaves of semi-cylindrical form, as sharp pointed as a
needle, and scarcely thicker than that little implement.
Small, reddish lilac, star-shaped flowers grow here and
there between the leaf and stem; and when the blossom
is over, seed-vessels hang down on the flower stalks,
and are plucked in autumn by the robin or sparrow,
or any other bird which may wing its way from inland
haunts to take a look at the sea. Nor does our sand-
wort confine itself to the rocky height. It grows on
the sandy shore, among the pebbles of the beach,
beyond the reach of the waves; and spreads its clumps
over the ground of many a yard by the sea, where


boats and ships are being built and repaired, seeming
to need but the saline air to call it into existence. It
is always, however, a far more elegant plant when
growing up the cliff than on the ground.
Round about the base of the cliff, where the sand
lies scattered, or is trodden into a firm soil, we may
often gather the prickly saltwort, or sea-grape, (Sal-
sola kali,) with its prostrate angular stems, bearing a
single flower of pale greenish hue, with three little
leaves, or bracteas, as the botanist calls them, at the
base of each floweret. This genus was named from sal,
salt, because an alkaline salt is obtained from it, and
this exists especially in our British species. The soda
contained in some of them was in former times of so
much value, that large quantities were cultivated in the
south of Europe.
A much prettier plant than the saltwort is the
common thrift (Statice armeria), often called sea-pink,
or sea-gilliflower, and which is not only ornamental to
the maritime cliffs, but also to the marshes at some
distance from the sea. During winter, its foliage seems
like tufts of grass among the crevices of the slopes; but
in some of these quiet nooks, where a projecting ledge
shelters it from the keen north and east winds, it
blooms there even in December, lingering on with many
an autumnal or summer flower, as if it had forgotten
that winter had come. On the marsh, its large round
heads of pale rose-coloured or purple flowers are more
conspicuous, as they form bright patches among the
short grasses and taller rushes, or, in July and August,
are so numerous as to make it seem one sheet of white.
Little gardens, rescued from the beach itself, and en-
closed around with the pale green feathery boughs of
the tamarisk, exhibit richly coloured rows of this
pretty flower around their beds; and high up on the
mountain, far away from the sea-shore, the thrift is
sometimes seen.
Here the wanderer might think of him described by
Mrs. Sigourney, who


Blesses their pencill'd beauty. 'Mid the pomp
Of mountain summits, rushing on the sky,
And charming the rapt soul in breathless awe,
He bows to bind them drooping to his breast;
Inhales their spirit from the frost-wing'd gale,
And freer dreams of heaven."

But when the thrift grows on the inland hills,
though no outward change marks it, yet it is changed
in its properties. Here, on our cliffs and marshes, it
contains in some abundance both iodine and soda.
These are greatly lessened in the mountain flower,
while, on the other hand, this increases to quantities
of potash.
It is only of late years that iodine has been proved
to exist in maritime plants, though it has long been
procured from those of the sea itself. Chemical investi-
gation has, however, proved that it occurs in the sea-
side feverfew; in the sea grimmia, a dull-looking
green moss, which in spring and autumn grows in
rounded tufts on the rocks about our shores; and in
that yellowish grey lichen, called the ivory ramalina
(Ramalina scopulorum), which often hangs in loose
tufts beside it. A chemical analysis was made of these
three plants, and of the little olive-coloured tuft which,
being washed by the spray at high tide, is by some
writers considered a sea-weed, by others a lichen, and
called the lesser lichina (Lichina confinis). All these
were growing near together, and were during storms
occasionally washed by the sea spray; and all except
the lichina were found to contain iodine. As the
specimens were carefully washed previously to analysis,
the iodine could not have been derived from saline
incrustation. All these vegetables were healthy; and
Mr. Brand, who made this experiment, has thence con-
cluded that the marine algae--the sea-weeds-" are not
the only plants which possess the power of separating
from sea-water the compounds of iodine, and of con-
densing them in theiir tissues, and this without any
detriment to their healthy functions.".
Look up, and see how the grass, far above, is speckled



with yellow flowers of dandelions and hawkweeds, or
with pink tufts of the century, while the red sorrel
and the pellitory of the wall stand above them. How
glad are the butterflies of the numerous blossoms which
hang about the spiny boughs of the furze (Ulex Euro-
pceus), so plentiful on many banks by the sea, and
bearing well the winds there, and receiving no harm
from an occasional dash of salt spray. Well may the
French call it jonc marin-sea-rush-for it seems to
rejoice in saline airs, and to grow quite as well there as
on the inland common. It is not so useful oh the cliff
as on the village green, for it is not so accessible to
those who would gather it for domestic purposes. It is
well, however, that it is not, for it is of no small service
in holding together the loose soil, and it gives a beauty
in summer and winter to our shores, which have usually
but few shrubs and trees to grace them.
Mountain gorses, ever golden,
Canker'd not the whole year long;
Do ye teach us to be strong,
Howsoever pinch'd and holden,
Like your thorned blooms ? and so,
Trodden on by rain and snow,
Along the hill-side of this life, as bleak as where ye grow."

On cliffs and banks by the sea which are not too
precipitous for the peasant boy, we may see him some-
times gathering the furze for fuel, or for heating the
oven, for it burns with rapidity, and with a great
degree of heat. In the olden times, the peasant col-
lected the boughs for burning lime; but improved
roads and canals have brought coals so much more
within reach, that it is less used now. Yet the young
shoots are good food for cattle, and, if rolled, are
greatly relished by horses. Furze is said always to
contain salt, so that it is not only nutritious and
agreeable to cattle, but is a valuable preventive and
remedy for some of their maladies.
But we must turn to a plant to be found on no place
away from the sea, and which is quite peculiar to our
maritime cliffs. This is the seaside or cliff cabbage



(Brassica oleracea) ; and if we tell our reader that its
young clumps of leaves are very similar to the young
garden cabbage plants, he will know it at once in its


wild state. The flowers, which come in May and June,
are very large and very handsome, shaped like those of
the wallflower, but of a pale yellow. They make a
very conspicuous figure on the heights, for in favourable
seasons the stem attains two or even three feet in
length, and is branched like a shrub; while in the
winter the woody stems, stripped of flowers, rattle to the
roaring winds, and drop the icicles from their boughs.
Even then, however, the leaves are very pretty. Waved
and lobed, and thicker than those of the garden cab-
bage, they are, like them, of a rich green, with a sea-
green bloom upon them; and many of them, in autumn
and winter, are most richly tinted with hues of delicate



lilac or deep violet, and, covered with powdery bloom,
are of the colour of the ripest plum.
This plant is the origin of our garden cabbages, in
all their endless varieties; though we may ask with
Beckmann, Who knows how many steps and grada-
tions were necessary before cabbages, savoys, and cauli-
flowers were produced from our common colewort?"
Yet a similarity is certainly apparent between our cliff
cabbage and the leaves of all those varieties which
furnish our vegetable diet. As this learned author
humorously remarks, With a little ingenuity, one
might form a genealogical tree of them, as Buffon has
done of the race of dogs; but a genealogical tree,
without proofs, is of as little value in natural history
as in claims for hereditary titles or estates."
Some species of cabbage were used by the Romans.
Their brassica very evidently belonged to the cabbage
genus, though which kinds were included under it, it
would now be impossible to define. No doubt, in the
course of ages, some varieties have been lost, as we
know several have been obtained by long-continued
culture. It is therefore probable that the cabbage
which the ancients, to prevent intoxication, ate in a raw
state, like a salad, is not now in existence; though we
know that our common cabbage is sometimes dressed
in this way. The ancients were in the habit of eating
a curled cabbage, which was probably some kind of
broccoli. But Beckmann observes, that we can nowhere
find traces of that "excellent preparation of cabbage,"
called by the Germans sour kraut, though the ancients
dressed turnips in the same manner. He adds, "I
should have been inclined to consider sour kraut as a
German invention, first made in Lower Saxony, which
our neighbours learned from us in modem times, had
not Bellon related that the Turks are accustomed to
pickle cabbage for winter food."
Sometimes our cliff cabbage is eaten, and even carried
about for sale, in places near the sea; but the little
expense of garden vegetables renders it of slight service



to us. It requires long washing previously to cooking,
and is then, as the writer knows by experience, as good
as a dish of garden greens. Perhaps, in long remote
periods of our country, it may have been prized by
those who lived among the old hills where it flourishes;
but it is not likely that it ever was so welcomed as was
the sea-side cabbage of the Kerguelen Island, when it was
gathered from that dreary land by the crews of the
Erebus and Terror. This plant is described by Sir James
Ross as abounding near the sea, ascending to the very
summits of the hills on the shores. The leaves and heads
were of the size of a good cabbage-lettuce, and," says
our Antarctic voyager, the plant possesses all the good
qualities of its English namesake; while, from its
containing a great abundance of essential oil, it never
produces any heartburn, or any of those unpleasant
sensations which some of our vegetables are apt to do."
The roots have the flavour of horseradish, and the
young leaves or hearts that of mustard-and-cress.
How welcome was this plant to our countrymen in
those inhospitable regions where vegetables are so few,
and after their long confinement to a diet consisting
wholly of salt provisions! For one hundred and thirty
days the crews of the ships required no other vegetable
food than this, and for nine weeks it was regularly
served out with the salt beef and pork of the vessel,
during which time there was no sickness on board.
Nor was this the only service rendered by this mari-
time plant. The ducks of the island fed chiefly on the
seeds, and these birds formed a delicious addition to
the table of the mariners.
Our cliff cabbage is not to be found on all our shores.
On the sea-cliffs of Dover it is very abundant; it is so
also on many cliffs of Devonshire, Cornwall, Yorkshire,
and other counties; and it is common on many parts
of the shore of Wales, and on the rocks of the Frith of
Forth. In some seasons it is devoured into shreds,
during summer, by the caterpillars; for as the insecti-
vorous birds delight in woods and gardens, and are



singing their songs to the music of silver rivulets, and
not to the loud roar of ocean, these insects revel on,
unpursued by the race which are elsewhere their
The sea-side cabbage grows all up the cliffs, even to
the very summit; but when the sea kale (Crambe
maritima) grows on cliffs, as it sometimes does, it is
generally lower down, and is more often seen on the
sandy soils below, or among the beach stones, than on
the cliff itself. No plant, however, is more beautiful
there,-not from its white cross-shaped flowers, but
from its wavy leaves, which vary from sea-green into
all the shades of pinkish purple, down to a deep rich
violet tint. So showy are these leaves, that the writer
once passing some cliffs on which they were abundant,
and going rapidly by in the train, at first thought that
the foliage was a clump of bright flowers, till a better
opportunity of viewing them showed the mistake. The
blossoms have a strong scent of honey; and the seed-
vessels are pouches about the size of black currants.
Country people, at the west of England, watch for the
young shoots and leaf-stalks pushing up through the
sand,* when they cut them off underground, and boil
them. It is often planted in gardens, sometimes for
its beauty, sometimes that it may be blanched under
sand or garden-pots for a culinary vegetable. It is,
indeed, almost as general in our kitchen gardens as
the asparagus, and, like it, may be easily forced; but
unlike that plant, it yields its produce the first spring
after being raised from seed. Its flavour, when cooked,
is like that of the cauliflower.
On many a cliff, and under the hedges of lanes
a little way from the sea, or scattered in clumps over
the salt marshes, we find the alexander (Smyrnium
olusatrum), which pleases our eye by its bright foliage,
and its thick cluster of small flowers of yellowish green.
In the seventeenth century, this plant was in common
use for the same purposes for which we now employ
the garden celery, and was boiled with other vegetables



in soups. Long before that period, it had been used as
salad; and our ancestors were well pleased with their
water cresses, and their winter cresses, and the common
alexanders; while they flavoured their "cool tankard"
with the blue flowers of the borage, and put the mari-
gold petals into their ragouts, and gathered the goose-
foots from the salt marshes, and raised the sprout kales
-which were but a variety of our cliff cabbage-for
their daily dish of greens. It is possible that cultiva-
tion somewhat altered the flavour of this plant; or,
perhaps, in this, as in many cases, the general taste has
changed. Whatever the boiled alexanders may be,
neither the odour nor the flavour of the raw plant is
at all agreeable. Pennant, however, says that it is
boiled and eaten with avidity by sailors who, on their
return from long voyages, happen to land at the south-
western coast of Anglesey; and Dr. Withering, who
remarks that it is the principal produce of the Isle of
Steep Holmes, in the Severn, says that it is well worthy
the attention of mariners.
All up the cliff are

Hill flowers running wild,
In pink and purple chequers."

There is a pink century, scarcely differing from the
common century, (Erythrcea centaurium,) so frequent
in our pastures; and there is a sea carrot (Daucus
maritimus) so like the carrot of field or garden, not
only in its white cluster of flowers and its elegant
feathery leaf, but also in its strongly-scented root, that
we need not stay to describe it. Rising above them,
and bearing as pretty a blossom as either, is the upright
spiked thrift (Statice spathulata), which, on some cliffs
and rocks-as on those near Holyhead, and on the
coast of Dover-is, during August and September,
beautiful with its numerous panicles of small lilac
blooms; while, if we wander by the sea-shore of
Norfolk, we may gather a rarer species, called the
matted thrift (Statice reticulata). But the muddy



shores about almost all parts of our coasts, and the
salt marshes too, abound with the larger and more
showy kind, the spreading spiked thrift, or sea
lavender, (Statice limonium,) that has flowers which
in colour are much like the plant of our gardens, whence
it takes its English name; but it is, after all, but
The sea-lavender, which lacks perfume."

It is, however, a great addition to the nosegay of wild
flowers gathered in the sea-side walk; and on summer
evenings, many a visitor from inland places may be
seen wending his way homewards, with bunches of this
and the yellow poppy, and other plants to which his
eye is unaccustomed.
So, too, the hoary shrubby sea stock (Matthiola
incana) is a favourite flower with those who can gather
it from the cliffs. It is, however, very rare, and per-
haps after all is not truly wild, though the great sea
stock (Matthiola sinuata), which grows on the sands, is
apparently really so. The former plant is the origin of
the stock gillyflower of our gardens. Both have pur-
ple flowers. Delightful it is to wander along the sands
where the great sea stock is growing on a midsummer
evening, when the flowers are sleeping, and the quiet
stars are reflected in the soft blue of the waters, which
are murmuring their gentle welcome to the coming
night; for sweet indeed is the scent which this flower
then floats upon the air, delicious as any which we can
inhale, even from those sweetest of inland spots, the
fragrant field of beans, or of flowering hops. These
perfumes are the more cherished because we do not
expect them, and when they mingle, as they sometimes
do, with the night odours of the Nottingham catchfly
(Silene nttans), which grows on limestone rocks, not
only by the shore, but by the side of inland lanes and
meads, we pause to ask if even the scents of tropical
flowers can be stronger and richer than these.
There is a common species of the catchfly frequent



by our sea-shores, both among rocks and also on 'the
sand, called sea campion (Silene maritima), but which
neither by night nor day delights us with its fragrance.
Any one who knows the common bladder campion of
our hedges, with its clusters of white blossoms, set on
flower-cups inflated like bladders, and veined with a
net-work, will at once recognize the sea-side species; for,
excepting that it is of humbler growth, it scarcely
differs from it. There is a variety on the shores of
Devonshire, which bears handsome double flowers.
How dark and rich is the green tint of those leaves
which, on their long stalks, lie about the root of the sea
beet (Beta maritima), and how well does the deep
green hue contrast with the pale sea-green leaves of the
perfoliate yellow wort, and of many other plants of the
rock! Pull up that strong root and taste it, and you
will find it sweet as sugar itself, for, like all the beets, this
possesses the saccharine principle in great abundance.
The common beet (Beta vulgaris) has been exten-
sively planted in France and Belgium, for making sugar.
Our sea beet, if little fitted for this, may yet be esteemed
a very useful plant, and it is often gathered and sold by
the poor who live near the sea, to be boiled as spinach.
It is quite as good as the cultivated spinach, and is a
most plentiful vegetable, frequently growing all about
the cliffs, and even on the sea-beach and salt marshes,
in great masses ; many of the leaves in winter assuming
a rich purple or crimson hue. The flower is but a tall
spike of pale-green blooms, arrayed in little groups of
two or three together, up the stem, having a small leaf
at the base of each. It appears in August. The leaves
of another species of beet, called the cicla (Beta hor-
tensis), are among the most common cooked vegetables,
used by labourers and small farmers for spinach, in
France and Germany; while the Swiss have a variety
which they call chard, the succulent leaves of which
are used instead of greens, and the leaf stalk and
middle vein are stripped and boiled as asparagus. It
does not appear that the beet so commonly used as



spinach on the continent is at all superior to that which
grows on our cliffs, hanging out there sometimes its
long spikes of blossoms two or three feet from the
surface; and Dr. Mackay says, "that the sea beet is
often cultivated on the coast of Cork, as well as in
other places, as an edible vegetable."
Another plant, whose dark green foliage often con-
trasts beautifully with the surface of the rocky cliff, or
the bank on which it grows, is the common fennel
(Foenicula vulgaris), and, from its size, it also makes a
conspicuous figure on the marshes, or by the road-side,
where some salt river is running onwards to the sea. It
has a hollow stem, often three feet high, numerous leaves
which are divided into soft hair-like segments, and its
flowers, which appear in July and August, are large
clusters of small yellow blossoms; its tender stalks
were formerly much eaten as salad, and the plant had the
old name of finckle. The leaves are still used to form
a garnish for dishes, and, cut up and boiled in butter,
are served up as a sauce for fish. They have a strong
odour, and a sweet flavour. The blanched stalks of a
dwarf variety, called finochio, are eaten with vinegar,
oil, and pepper as a salad, and are also sometimes boiled
in soups. This variety is marked by a tendency in the
stalks to swell to considerable thickness. The thickest
part is then earthed up, and acquires a very pleasant
flavour and a tender substance. It is a good deal culti-
vated in Italy. Our common fennel is a very elegant
plant, when the wind sways its light branches up and
down, and carries afar their sweet scents.
While recounting the plants of our sea rocks and
banks which furnish food to the present generation,
or which have been prized among the vegetables of
olden days, we must not forget the broad-leaved pepper-
wort (Lepidium latifolium), which sometimes grows on
the maritime rocks of our shores, or in the salt marshes
near them. "When pepper was so dear," says Beck-
mann, that to promise a saint, yearly, a pound of it,
was considered a liberal bequest; economical house-



wives seasoned their dishes with the leaves of pepper-
wort, which on this account is called at present, in
England, 'poor man's pepper.'" Poor man's pepper is
also the name of another flower, the yarrow, which has
the Latin name of Achillea, because Achilles is said
to have discovered its healing virtues. This, though
common enough on our cliffs, has no pretensions to be
called a sea-side plant, as it grows everywhere; though
the annalist of the life of Henri de Larochejaquelin,
who fell in La Vendee, mentions as a remarkable
circumstance, that the flower of Achilles should have
sprung up on the grave of the deceased warrior. There
are few churchyards or other grassy spots in our land
where it could not be found, so that they who wanted
it for seasoning their dishes had not far to seek; but it
has less pungency than our pepperwort. The flowers
of the latter plant appear in July; they are small, white,
and numerous, and are crowded in leafy clusters.
Then we have a sea radish (Raphanus maritimus),
and though its roots are too tough to contribute to our
salads, yet its white or straw-coloured flowers, veined
with purple, are very pretty. The wild celery (Apium
graveolens), too, is common on our shores, though not
peculiar to them. Dr. Hooker, in his Flora Antarctica,
mentions this and some other of our maritime plants,
among those of Tierra del Fuego. It is always inte-
resting," says this writer, "to meet with familiar objects
when they are least expected, and to recognize in the pro-
ductions of a strange land, the same, or similar to those
which we have seen elsewhere. Tierra del Fuego pos-
sesses, in common with Britain, the sea pink, or
thrift, a primrose so like our primula farinosa, that
they are scarcely distinguishable, and the wild celery,
which, though a rank weed when it grows wild in
England, is so mild and wholesome in Fuegia, probably
from the absence of the sun's direct rays, that it affords
an excellent salad." In our land, death has been caused
by eating a quantity of this wild plant which grew on
the banks of a salt-water river. The primrose to which



Dr. Hooker refers, is the bird's-eye primrose,'a lovely lilao-
purple flower of our mountains; but there is a primrose
often found blooming on the sandy sea-shores of the
Orkney Isles, and which grows too on those of Suther-
land, called the Scottish primrose (Primula Scotica),
a deep bluish purple, so pretty that we lament that it
cannot be found on the southern coast of our island.
A curious plant called the red broom-rape (Orobanche
rubra), belongs to the sea-side flowers, though it is by
no means frequent on our English cliffs, abundant as it
is on the basaltic rocks of the Hebrides. It grows, too,
on the shores of Ireland, and on the magnesian rock of
the Lizard Point, Cornwall. It is, like all the broom-
rapes, truly parasitic, and this particular species seems
to prefer the wild thyme, as the plant on whose roots it
shall affix itself, though any one, to look at the stout
plant which springs from the lowly flower, would hardly
suspect that it was parasitic there.
The broom-rapes are a singular tribe of plants, but
all our native species have a general similarity to each
other-they have stout succulent stems, usually of a
reddish brown hue, with no leaves, but scales on the
stem ; and this stem, at the base, swells into a knob,
which is thickly covered with scales. The flowers are
large and dull-looking, often so much so that one might
take them for blossoms scorched into brownness by the
summer sun; the plant altogether resembling, espe-
cially when the flowers are hardly expanded, a head of
asparagus. The blossoms are pale brown or yellowish
lilac, and several of the species grow on cliffs, because
there grow the flowers on which they are parasitic,
such as the furze and bed-straw. But besides the red
broom-rape there is another peculiar to the shores,
called the blue broom -rape (Orobanche ccerulea), but this
does not grow on the rocks, but on the grassy pastures
near the sea. All the species are acrid, and so de-
structive to the plants to which they attach themselves,
that their name, made of orobus, a vetch, and ancho, to
strangle, is well merited.



A graceful plant, which, when growing in any
quantity, is swept up and down into undulating waves,
is the tamarisk, or sea cypress
(Tamarix Gallica). The lat-
ter English name it owes to
the shape of its foliage, for it
wears no funereal green, but
in summer and autumn is of
rich verdant hue, and its rich
red stems and branches add
much to the beauty of the
shrub. "This elegant plant,"
says Gerard Edwards Smith,
" forms the ornament of Sand-'
gate, flourishing upon its
sandy banks, and flowering
there twice within the year.
Planted inland, it has many
times succeeded. The elegance
of its beaded flower-buds, and
light feathery blossoms, ac-
companied by delicate foliage,
commends this hardy tempter
of the sea-breezes and spray TAMARISK.
to more general cultivation upon such spots."
Yes, there are lovely flowers all around our path-
And when the breeze was in tie veil
Of verdure on the Tamarisk,
And seemed for very sport to whisk
The wildered boughs, so lithe and frail.
I thought how oft the gentle mind
Is fretted sore with cross and care,
And wearied with the restless air,
And bent to snapping in the wind."

Not less beautiful, though very different in appear-
ance, is the sea tree-mallow (Lavatera arborea), which
grows on maritime, always on insulated rocks, in the
south and west of England, and rears its handsome
shining mallow-like, purplish-vink flowers on the coasts



of Teignmouth, Plymouth, some parts of the Isle of
Wight, the shores of Anglesey, and on various parts of
the Scottish islands and mainland. It is a great orna-
ment to sea-side gardens, even in places where it is not
found wild, and grows too in the inland shrubbery or
flower-bed, where, if it is allowed to scatter its seeds, it
will spring up for many successive years, and frequently
attain a large size. Young plants will occasionally
survive a winter or two, but when once it has blos-
somed it perishes.
This beautiful shrub grows on the island of Steep
Holmes, in the Severn, a spot remarkable for being the
only place of growth of our wild peony.
But there are flowers on the cliff to which our space
will not permit us even a notice, for they do not belong
peculiarly to the sea-shore.
"Here and there the bed-straw yellow
Carpets it with golden thread."

Here and there too,
Along this solitary ridge,-
Where smiles, but rare, the blue campanula,
Among the thistles and grey stones that peep
Through the thin herbage-from the highest point
Of elevation o'er the vale below."
Here we may find among ferns, which grow also in
the quiet retreats far away from the sea, one which is
peculiar to its shores. The sea spleenwort (Asplenium
marinum) has a very elegant spray, with which to
deck their slope, and to hide the crevices which time
has rent among the rocks; while little dark brown
cushions of the sea grimmia (Grimmia maritima),
grow not only far above on the cliffs, but, fearless of the
tide spray, gather too at its base. Succulent stems of
the pretty yellow stonecrop (Sedum acre), the golden
chain, as country people call it, mingle in tufts with
the species which is much more common on the sea-
rock than on the barren inland soil. This is the
English stonecrop (Sedum Anglicum), with its fleshy
egg-shaped leaves, small, thick, and tinged with red, the



beautiful clusters of star-like flowers, having white
petals spotted with red and crowned with purple
anthers. During June and July our rocky and sandy
shores have few flowers more lovely and attractive than
this stonecrop.
It is gratifying to the geologist to observe in the
structure of our earth, that nearly all its materials are
such as afford, by their decomposition, a soil fit for the
support of vegetable life. Thus those rocks, formed
either wholly or partly of the remains of animals,
furnish a soil whereon the free winds may scatter the
seeds of shrubs and flowers, whose beauty, and odour,
and utility call for the praise of man to his Maker.
We would not look carelessly at the flower which his
hand has fashioned with skill and beauty. We would
not forget the lilies which our blessed Saviour, when
he dwelt on earth, pointed out as a lesson for hope
and faith. Look only at the structure of that stone-
crop, and you may see how God has cared for the
lowliest things. It belongs to a class of plants growing
in the driest situations; in some cases, as on the sands
of Southern Africa, where not a blade of grass, not a
tuft of moss could thrive. Some of these plants grow
on naked rocks, on old walls, on sandy plains, exposed
to scorching sunbeams by day, and to heavy dews by
night. What nourishment can they derive by their
roots from a soil so sterile 1 Scarcely any ; but myriads
of little mouths, in the form of pores, are scattered on
those fleshy leaves and stems, and the dew and moisture
from the atmosphere enter the plant and are slowly
evaporated again from the juicy structure. The com-
mon orpine (Sedum telephium), or livelong, will grow
for some months if only suspended by a string from the
ceiling of a room, and never supplied with water. An
African species will not only grow under such circum-
stances, but if its leaves be gathered and laid on the
ground, they will send out young shoots from the
notches of their margin, every way resembling their
parent plants.




How interesting is it to remember, as we watch the
magnificent waves, that all that wide-spread ocean is
full of life and enjoyment. It is so in great measure
with earth and air, but the waters are apparently yet
more crowded with living creatures. Room is wanted
on the land for the green fields on which the cattle may
browse, for wide deserts on which the lion may roam,
for forests where birds may sing their songs of praise to
their Creator, and for great cities and small hamlets,
where man should live to his own good and God's
glory. Even on the land, myriads of insects unseen by
us are living in the air; plants of the fungus tribe, only
to be seen by the microscope, are insinuating them-
selves everywhere; and living creatures are lurking
near every leaf and flower. But in the waters life seems
even more abundant. This element abounds, too, in the
extremes of minuteness and of bulk, from the monads

which can be seen only by the most powerful micro-
scope, to the whale, which is twenty times larger than
our largest terrestrial animal that great leviathan,
whom Job describes as making a path to shine after
him, so that one would think the deep to be hoary, and
declares to be a king above all the children of pride.
As the air seems given especially to the birds, which
are fitted to skim through it, and to find much of their
food among its insect multitudes, so the waters are the
domain of the fishes, to whom the smaller living crea-
tures form food, while each in its turn feeds on some
inferior tribe. Comparatively few have the opportunity
of examining the tiniest creatures of the sea, creatures
which teem in myriads in but a drop of that briny
water; but all can mark the fishes as they glide near
the shore, or in the shallow pools among the rocks,
gleaming with tints which may vie with those of the
richest plumage of the bird, or with the gauzy gold or
silver wing of the gayest insect. The brilliance of
every metal, the splendour of every gem, the tints of
the sky and the rainbow, are there reflected in stripes,
and bands, and angles, and undulations. As the light
falls on the surface we see it, now purple, or green, or
gold, or silver; while some fishes are so brilliant in
colour, that, like the rare band-fish, they deserve the
name of flame and red riband, by which name the
people of Nice call it, from its resemblance to those
objects as it glides through the waters. Take but one
of the scales and place it beneath a microscope, and you
may dream that you are looking at a diamond; while
without the aid of the instrument you can see it
rivalling the tints which are reflected by the pearl.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear;"
and the words of our poet might refer to the shells,
or the pearls lying within them, to the fishes, or sea-
jellies, or to the sea-weeds, or the coral structures of
beautiful insects, or to those gems of the mine which




lie entombed in the deep with the loved and the lost.
The fishes are eminently beautiful, not only in colour,
but in grace and symmetry, and are fitted by their
structure for their dwellings and purpose in life ; while
their scales form a coat of mail, so that the descrip-
tion of the patriarch is very appropriate to many: His
scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close
The form of fishes admits of great variety. The most
frequent is that of a cylindrical body, pointed at each
end, and compressed at the sides, as the mackerel.
Some fish, however, are short and round; others
elongated, like the eel, or remarkably compressed, as the
dory; and some, like the skates and flat-fishes, are quite
flat. The fins, which are useful to them in gliding
through the waters, serve also as characteristics of orders
and families. Fish breathe chiefly by means of their
gills, and are capable of receiving the influence of oxy-
gen, not only from such portions of atmospheric air as
are mixed with the water, but from the atmosphere
itself. They are the very opposite of birds, for as those
joyous creatures were made for air they inhale a vast
amount, and have their whole system full of it; but
the consumption of the oxygen by the fishes is very
small, and they have but a low degree of respiration.
Such fishes as swim near the bottom of the sea are found
to have this so low, that their temperature rarely ex-
ceeds by more than two or three degrees that of the
water at the surface ; though those which swim nearer
the top have a somewhat higher standard of respiration.
We wonder not therefore that they are, in comparison
with the joyous creatures of air, of a slow and
dull nature.
The gill-flap, which assists in covering the gills, is
movable, like a fin, independently of the gill-lid. On
raising this part we see beneath it the gills, of a
beautiful red colour, composed of arches, varying in
different species, and fringed with a series of fibrils,
set like the plumelets composing the vane of a feather.


When these are minutely examined, they appear
covered with a velvet-like membrane, over which
myriads of wonderfully minute blood-vessels are spread

HEAD OF THE HERRING. a, the gill-lid; b, the gill-flap.

a, the gill fringes, on the posterior margin of the arch; b, the anterior
slender spines directed forwards; c, position of the heart.

like a delicate net-work. There are commonly four
of these fringed arches: they are movable, and allow
the currents of water, driven down by the action of the
mouth, to flow freely through them, so as to lave every
fibril. The concave margin of each arch is always
more or less studded with tooth-like projections; and
these in the herring, and some others, are lengthened




into slender spines. Their use appears to be to prevent
food taken' into the mouth from being forced out
through the gills with the streams of water sent
through them.*
Every part of the sea has its tribes of fishes; and
there are, besides, flying fish, which can sustain them-
selves for a time in the air; while others, by the
strength of the saw-like serrated bony ray on each
pectoral fin, are enabled to transport themselves even
over the land from one pool to another. Their eyes,
which in different species vary somewhat as to situa-
tion, are always so placed as to meet especially the
conditions of the kind. They are most frequently
placed on the flattened side of the head, but in some
species are higher up. Their structure, adapted as it
is to the dense medium which they inhabit, affords a
good power of vision, at moderate distances, and when
the breeze scarcely ruffles the waves, and the water is
clear, the sight of fish is, as the angler well knows, very
acute. Nor is that beautiful creature of the waves
destitute of the sense of hearing; and violently loud
sounds, as the ringing of bells, or discharge of cannon,
have been known so to terrify the shoals of salmon,
when making their course to the river where they
spend the summer, that they will all turn back and
retreat to the sea which they were leaving.
Those deep waters are almost a world of silence,
save when the wind makes loud music among the
billows. Few of the living creatures have voices to
tell even of their own emotions to their fellows; yet
there are fishes of our own shores which utter cries
when the fisherman captures them, and some of the
fishes of other seas give forth loud and continuous
sounds. A large fish, called the drum, is described by
Dr. Mitchell as making a dull hollow sound when
taken out of the water. Various instances of sounds
emitted by fishes are recorded by the editor of
Cuvier's Regne Animal." Mr. White relates, in his
Wonders of the Waters, p. 16.


voyages in the seas of China, that being at the mouth
of the river Cambodia, his crew and himself were
astonished at sounds heard around the bottom of their
vessel, which he describes as resembling a mingling of
the bass of the organ, the ringing of bells, the
guttural cries of a large frog, and the tones of a
powerful harp. These voices, from a low murmur,
gradually increased, and were heard all over the length
of the vessel and the two sides. As the voyagers
sailed onward the tones diminished, and were gradually
lost in the distance. A man who was their interpreter,
said that these sounds were made by fishes, which lie
described. M. Humboldt heard similar sounds in the
South Seas. On February 28, 1803, towards seven in
the evening, the whole crew," says this writer, "were
astonished by an extraordinary noise, which resembled
that of drums beating in the air." It was at first
attributed to the breakers. Speedily it was heard in
the vessel, and especially towards the poop. It then
seemed like the noise of a boiling, the sound of the
air which escapes from a fluid in the state of ebullition.
The mariners began to fear then that there might be a
leak in the vessel. It was heard unceasingly over
every part of the ship, until about nine o'clock in the
evening, when it ceased altogether."
Beautiful as fishes are, and useful as they are to man,
yet they are not capable of exciting much individual
attachment; and were it not that we want them for
food, they would mostly swim on to the end of their
days free from molestation. We can tame the bird of
the air and teach it to love us, sometimes even to
imitate our language. Its instincts are usually affec-
tionate, and its ways winning and loveable; and the
same may be said of many of the lower animals of the
earth. But fishes are usually unimpressible creatures,
and, save the cravings of a natural voracity, usually
give small evidence of any feeling. But though fishes
in general have little attachment, and no language by
which to express it, yet instances are recorded both in




ancient and modern times, in which they have exhi-
bited affection towards their young, and have learned
to know and obey those who trained them. Pliny and
Martial believed that they could not only be taught to
recognize their master, but to come at his bidding
when he uttered their names. The Chinese, who keep
large numbers of gold fishes, call them by a whistle to
receive their food. Sir Joseph Banks used to assemble
his fish by ringing a bell: and Carew, the historian of
Cornwall, brought his grey mullets together by striking
two sticks.
Among other instances related by Mr. Yarrell, of the
attachment of fishes to each other, he mentions that a
person who had kept two small fishes in a glass vessel,
gave one of them away: the other refused all food, and
showed evident symptoms of unhappiness, till his com-
panion was restored to him.
The food of the greater number of fishes appears to
be of an animal nature. They prowl the seas as the
beast does the forests, devouring the creatures smaller
than themselves, and apparently to a great extent
feeding on each other indiscriminately, acting on the
principle that might is right. The great Creator, when
he filled that vast world of water so full, gave to his
creatures there a very voracious appetite, that as
numbers are increasing every moment, so too the
means of lessening numbers should be in constant
operation. A war of extermination is perpetually going on
beneath those calm summer waters, or rolling billows;
while an immense number of fishes are devoted to the
food of man. So constant are the operations of these
two means, that probably few fishes die a natural death.
The inhabitants of our sea-coast towns consume many,
and send many away inland to remote parts of the
country. But there are, in other countries, tribes of
men who live wholly on the produce of the waters.
Many of our fishermen are engaged in procuring for us
the ocean fish, for all are not in season at one period;
and therefore there is at all times of the year food and


the shores of the Orkneys, and forms the grand support
during summer and autumn to the poor. Dr. Neill,
during his tour of the islands of Orkney and Shetland,
saw on almost every projecting rock an old man,
or one or two lads, holding in each hand a wand or
fishing-rod, and catching the young coal-fish as fast as
they could bait their hooks. It is better food when
young than when full grown. They call it by several
names, as sillock, piltock, cooth, and grey lord; and
Mr. Yarrell says this fish has more provincial names
than any other. It dwells in the seas more or less
all round our shores. The ling (Lota molva), though
not so generally distributed, is scarcely less valuable
in the western islands and the Orkneys than the
coal-fish; and, cut open, salted, and dried in the sun,
forms an article of commerce, which was in former
days more profitable than now. The air bladders, or, as
they are commonly called, the sounds of this fish are
also pickled, and form an article of food; and the roes
are salted and eaten. The oil taken from the liver
has been found, like the cod liver oil, a useful medicine
in cases of debility and emaciation ; and by the light of
a lamp supplied with it, the Scottish islander sits by
his fireside, mending his nets or reading his Bible. The
fisheries of the ling occur early in the summer, and the
prayer of the poor Shetlander, as he returns from them to
his work in the harvest field, is, God open the mouth of
the gray fish (the sillocks),and hand (hold) his hand about
the corn," that is, preserve the grain from tempests.
Another important British fishery is that of the
pilchard, or, as the Scotch call it, the gipsey
herring (Clupea pilchardus) ; but the abundance of this
fish is confined to different parts of the coast; a few
pilchards only rarely visiting any but the south-
western shores of England. Cornwall is the most
celebrated part of our country for the pilchard fisheries,
and on some parts of the Irish coast the fishing stations
are no less important. An immense number of these
fish are sometimes taken; an instance is recorded in

which ten thousand hogsheads have been caught in one
port on a single day: "thus," says Mr. Yarrell, "pro-
viding the enormous multitude of twenty-five millions
of living creatures, drawn at once from the ocean for
human sustenance."
The voracity of the pilchard is very great Mr. Couch
says that he has found their stomachs crammed, each
with thousands of a minute species of shrimp, not
larger than a flea. The number of these minute
creatures must be enormous, if, as Mr. Couch says, all
the pilchards were as well fed as the one he examined;
for so numerous are the fishes themselves, that this
valuable writer describes an assemblage of them, when
near the coast, as assuming the arrangement of a mighty
army, with its wings stretching parallel to the land.
"There are," he says, "three stations assumed by this
great body, that have their separate influence on the
success of the fishery. One is to the eastward of the
Lizard, the most eastern extremity reaching to the Start
Point in Devonshire, beyond which no fishery is carried
on, except that rarely it extends to Dartmouth; a
second station is included between the Lizard and
Land's End, and the third is on the north coast of the
county. It is not an uncommon thing for one of these
districts to be full of pilchards, while in the others
none are to be seen. The length of this fish is nine
or ten inches, and in form it somewhat resembles the
The pilchard fishery, though interesting to the
Cornish men, and affording employment to a large
number of people, is not very lucrative. Probably,
in this respect, none are equal to those of the salmon
in value; but as this fish spends a great part of its life
in rivers, and is little seen by visitors to the sea, we
must not dwell upon it. That common little fish the
sprat (Clupea sprattus) is sure to be seen by those
who are resident near our shores late in the autumn,
or during winter. We have often thought, when seeing
a boat land with its cargo of sprats, that those who


saw these fish only lying on the fishmonger's stall had
little idea of their beauty. Glittering in the net in many
a pale and delicate tint, they look like a mass of silver on
which the rainbow is faintly reflected. Cloudy weather
is the time for the fishermen, and after a few days of
this kind we find in our walks on the pier, long rows
of network, hung there to dry. Fine nets of several
yards long are made by the fisherman in the winter's
evening, or by his wife or children, for the purpose of
catching these fish. This is a very useful species to the
poor of our sea-coast towns, nor is an occasional dish
of sprats unwelcome to the rich, while the fish pickled
in brine is often sold in our inland cities, and is very
good in flavour. Sprats, too, are laid on the fields
for manure, and most of those who have spent some
time near the sea, have seen them borne away in carts
and waggons for thts purpose, or perhaps had their
country ramble spoiled by their odour on the land
while they were in the process of decomposition.
But as we watch the contents of the fishing-boats,
we are often delighted by the beauty of some of the
mullets contained in the trawling-net. The striped red
mullet (Mullus surmuletus) is abundant on our southern
coasts, from Cornwall to Sussex, and is often brought
up in the mackerel net. It is extremely beautiful,
exhibiting every tint of orange, red, and yellow, in
most vivid brilliancy; though, to see its hues in per-
fection, we should observe it during the summer, for
though caught at all seasons it is not always equally
bright. In some years it is much more plentiful on
our shores than in others, for these fish change their
places, and, swimming miles away from their old haunts,
are sometimes long undiscovered by the fishermen.
The mullets were much prized by the Romans, and
their generic name is said to refer to the scarlet colour
of the sandal or shoe worn by the Roman consuls, and
afterwards by the emperors. They were also consecrated
to Diana, the goddess of hunting; because they were
believed in those days to pursue and attack large and


dangerous fish. The red mullet (Mullus barbatus) is
not only rare on our shores, but is also a much less
abundant fish in all seas than the striped variety,
and excels it not only in flavour, but in richness of
colour. It is connected with such records of cruelty
and folly, that one blushes for human beings as we
peruse the details; and we are reminded how much
the refinement of arts and of science can exist, while their
cultivators have hearts as hard as those of the untaught
savage. Poetry, and painting, and sculpture had shed
their influence over the ancients; but the mild light of
revelation had not yet dawned upon them; and thus
their land, with all its advantages, was but as the dark
places of the earth, which are full of the habitations
of cruelty. The beautiful mullet was brought before
the Roman to die; and as the rich epicures sat around
the table, their luxurious repast acquired a new zest, as
they looked on the fish, and saw its bright red colours
gradually passing into various shades of purple, violet,
bluish, and white; till one convulsive throb of agony
put an end to its pain. More cruel practices still were
used towards these poor fish; and the luxurious and
wealthy Roman delighted in exhibiting his ponds or
vivaria containing the mullets, which afforded un-
doubted evidence of the wealth of their owner, since,
according to Martial, a fish of four pounds and a half
cost a ruinous price; and mullets of extreme size, one
weighing six pounds, are recorded to have been pur-
chased at a sum equal to 481., while a still larger fish
was paid for at the value of 641.
The food of the mullet consists of the soft crustaceous
and molluscous animals, and cirrhi are arranged around
the mouth of this, as of some other fish. Mr. Yarrell,
who dissected them, remarks: They are, I have no
doubt, delicate organs of touch, by which all the species
provided with them are enabled to ascertain, to a
certain extent, the qualities of the various substances
with which they are brought in contact; and are ana-
logous in function to the beak, with its distribution



of nerves, among certain swimming and wading birds
which probe for food beyond their sight; and may be
considered another instance among the many beautiful
provisions of nature, by which, in the case of fishes
finding at great depths their light deficient, compen-
sation is made for consequent imperfect vision.
The grey mullet is a pretty little fish, with its rich
blue tints; and several species of gurnard are extremely
beautiful, and are besides useful and delicate articles of
food. October is their especial season, and to see them
in full beauty, we should look at them when just taken
from the water. The red gurnard (Trigla cuculus)
is the most frequent of the nine British species, and
though chiefly found in deep water, yet it sometimes
frequents the rocky pools, which we find at low tide
full of beautiful and living creatures, and adorned with
our loveliest sea plants. The red hue of the upper
portion of the fish seems to mingle imperceptibly with
the silver whiteness which distinguishes the lower
portion, and which glitters in the sunshine. Like several
of our fishes, it utters a sound when taken out of the
sea; and this is so similar to that of the bird of our
summer woods, that the fish is familiarly named the
cuckoo gurnard; while the grey gurnard (Trigla
gurnardus), a common fish, especially on the southern
shores of England, and very abundant on the west of
Scotland, is on the latter shore called crooner, because
of the dull croak or croon which is its lament for
its native sea.
But without waiting till the fishing-boats have
brought their stores for our inspection, we may wander
away to the tide-pools, and find among the rocks,
covered with their dark sprays of olive-green, or
fringed with grass-green leaves and ribands, some of
our common fishes. What a scene of life and anima-
tion is here! Here are crabs running along by
thousands; star-fishes twisting their limbs in strange
contortions; shrimps darting by as if every motion
were one of gladness; limpets, and barnacles, and

periwinkles holding the rock tightly; and mussels
moored to it safely by their silken threads; and red-
looking worm-like creatures with many feet gliding in
the clear water, and feather-like plumes emerging from
shells, and bending there most gracefully. Many a
pretty fish seems hiding from our view among the
entangling weeds; and then, perchance, that ill-looking
little fish with its long wide head, the father lasher, or
long-spined cottus (Cottus bubalis), looks up at us with
such unamiable aspect, as if it only wanted strength
to use its threatening spiny head as a weapon of warfare
against us, and to punish us for intruding into its
domain. There are few parts of our coast where it
may not be seen during the greater part of the year, and


if we only touch it with a finger, it distends its gill
covers, and setting out its numerous spines, as if, like
the Scottish thistle, it would claim the motto, Nemo
me impune lacessit," which, Baxter says, means in plain
Scotch, "Ye maunt meddle wi' me." This bold and
voracious fish has tints of a beautifully vivid red, green,



and brown. It is not eaten in our country; but in
Greenland, where it is much larger, it is the chief food
of many people, and the soup made of it is described
by travellers as good in flavour. The Norwegians also
extract oil from the liver of this fish. The Scotch call
it the lucky proach. It is on our shores often termed
toad-fish, and well named, for its large head would
remind one of a toad. Its name of father lasher is
probably given because, in its active darting progress,
it strikes the water with its broad tail fin. Several of
these fish may often be found hid beneath a bed of
Crantz, in his History of Greenland, says of it,
"Next to augmarsett (capelin), the Greenlanders eat
most of the ulkes, what we call toad-fish, or in New-
foundland, scolpings; it lives all the year round in the
little and large bays near the land, yet in deep water.
It is caught, especially in winter, by poor women and
children, with a line of whalebone or bird's feathers,
thirty or forty fathoms long. At the end, a blue
longish stone is fastened, to sink it. Instead of a bait,
they put on the hook a white bone, a glass bead, or a
bit of red cloth. The fish is commonly a foot long, and
full of bones. The skin is quite smooth, and spotted
with yellow, green, red, and black spots, like a lizard.
It has a very large thick round head, and a wide mouth,
and its fins, especially on its back, are broad and
prickly. Though this fish hath a very ugly look, yet
its flesh and the soup that is made of it taste ex-
tremely agreeable, and are very wholesome, and the sick
may eat of them."
The short-spined cottus, or sea scorpion (Cottus scor-
pius), a fish about four or five inches long, often lurks
among the sea-weeds, or swims into our harbours. Like
the father lasher, it is so common all round our
coasts, as that every haul of the dredge will bring up
one or the other, though seldom both, for they do not
frequent the same spots. The body of this fish is
mottled with dark purple, brown, or reddish brown:

the under part being white, and sometimes it is of
bright scarlet.
Some of these pools are at times half filled with
little fishes left there by the tide. Several species of
the wrasse glide about among the rocks, glittering in
red, orange, and green; and here the gilt head or golden
maid (Crenilabrus melops), sometimes finds its way into
the crab creels, which the fisherman places there; eat-
ing the shrimps and little crabs, so numerous among
the sea plants, and giving a decided preference to
such rocks as are only reached at unusually high tides,
and thus only moistened in general by the spray. And
now as we look about among the waters and the rooks,
a little lower down, we may chance to see the spotted
gunnel, or butterfish (Murcenoides guttata), or the
swordick, as it is often called from its sword-like shape.
But the very sound of our footsteps, or the sight of our
shadow, will send it to hide under the stones or weeds,
and if with some difficulty wesucceed in capturing it, it is
no easy matter to hold it for a minute; for the slimy sub-
stance upon it, from which it takes its name of butter-
fish, as well as its rapid movements, facilitate its escape.
It is generally about five or six inches long. It is only
used in our country for bait, but in Greenland it is
dried and eaten.
It is in these pools also that we shall find a little
fish, well known to all who observe the living creatures
either of sea or river, abounding as it does both in our
salt and fresh waters. Many a time have we, by means
of a gauze net tied to the end of a stick, caught the
stickleback or barnstickle, that tiniest of British fishes,
and kept it for a while in a vase of water. Most per-
sons accustomed to our sea-side have seen the rough-
tailed stickleback (Gasterosteus trachurus), hiding among
stones or weeds, or darting out and pursuing its prey,
devouring it with voracity, and having nothing to fear,
even from fishes much larger than itself, because it is
so well defended by its spines. We can readily believe
the assertion of Henry Backer, that the sticklebacks



leap vertically out of the water to the height of more
than a foot; and that in an oblique direction they will
make springs to a greater distance, where stones or other
obstacles tempt them to try their agility and strength.
They are most fierce little creatures, and a bite from
one of them is by no means to be coveted by the wan-
derer by the sea; while to its companions in the pool
it often proves fatal. A writer in Loudon's Magazine of
Natural History gives an interesting account of some
of these sticklebacks which he had placed in a large
vessel of water. When," says this writer, "a few are
first turned in, they swim about in a shoal, apparently
exploring their new habitation. Suddenly one will
take possession of a corner of the tub, or, as it will
sometimes happen, of the bottom, and will instantly
commence an attack upon his companions; and if any
one of them ventures to oppose his sway, a regular and
most furious battle ensues, the two combatants swim
round and round with the greatest rapidity, biting and
endeavouring to pierce each other with their spines,
which on these occasions are projected. I have wit-
nessed a battle of this sort, which lasted several minutes
before either gave way; and when one does submit,
imagination can hardly conceive the vindictive fury of
the conqueror, who, in the most persevering and unre-
lenting way, chases his rival from one part of the tub
to another, until fairly exhausted with fatigue. They
also use their lateral spines with such fatal effect, that,
incredible as it may appear, I have seen one during a
battle absolutely rip his opponent quite open, so that
he sank to the bottom and died. I have occasionally
known three or four parts of the tub taken possession
of by as many other little tyrants, who guard their
territories with the strictest vigilance, and the slightest
invasion immediately brings on a battle. When a fish is
conquered it loses all its gay colours, as if these depended
on the health and spirits of the wearer, though previ-
ously to death it regains them, but with less clearness
and distinction than when proud and happy."

Our stickleback is little used as food, but, about
Dantzic, oil has been extracted from these fish; and
they were, in former days, caught by myriads in the
river Cam, for the purposes of manure. They are
included in the list of fishes of every country of Europe.
Another little fish, which is very common on all
parts of our boast, though not haunting our pools, is
the freckled or spotted goby (Gobius minutes). It is
seldom more than three inches long, has a large head,
and is of a pale yellowish white, freckled and barred
with brown. It very often comes up with the crabs
in the shrimping nets, for it lurks among the sands,
sometimes completely hiding itself in them. Both
this and some others of the goby tribe are said to
deceive their prey by approaching them slowly, while
their bodies are so covered with the sand and mud
which adheres to their slimy surface, that they are not
discovered to be enemies by the smaller marine animals
on which they feed. They, in their turn, supply a
considerable source of food to the larger fishes and sea
It is in the sandy bay that the less frequent fish, the
gemmeous dragonet, or yellow skulpin (Callionymus
lyra), is to be found. It has a singular appearance,
being shaped like what one would fancy a dragon to be,
and remarkable also for its colours, which glitter like
rubies and emeralds and diamonds, the most conspicu-
ous tint being the yellow. It is, in the north, called
gowdie, from gowd, gold.
One of the most remarkably formed British fishes is
not unfrequent on some coasts, though not universally
distributed. This is the fishing frog, or angler (Lo-
phius piscatorius), that has many ill names among the
fishermen, which we would not repeat. It is generally
about three feet long, and really resembles a frog in its
tadpole condition. It well merits its name of angler,
for it has long thread-like appendages attached to the
head, which serve as its fishing lines. When lying in
the mud or sand, it, by means of its fins, stirs up this

so as to becloud the water, and while thus concealed,
it raises its long filaments, and moves them about. The
lesser fishes, probably mistaking them for small worms

fitted for their food, advance towards it, and are entan-
gled and captured. When in a n t with other fishes,
this voracious angler seems nothing daunted at its own
danger; but immediately swallows some of its com-
panions in misfortune, which are afterwards taken alive
from its stomach, so that though its own flesh is not
eaten, it may furnish food to man by this means.
Little intelligence as fishes in general possess, we find
them endowed with instincts fitted to the requirements
of their condition; and when food cannot be provided
easily, several, like the fishing frog, have recourse to
artifices. Thus the lesser weever, sometimes called
the otter pike, or sting fish (Trachimus vipera), very
ingeniously provides its own meal. This fish, which is
common on all the sandy shores of Scotland, and fre-
quently caught by fishers and shrimpers, feeds on small
crustaceans and insects, and in order to entrap them, it
hides itself in loose sand at the base of the water, leaving

only its head above, and here its open mouth serves as a
trap, into which the unheeding animals may glide.
This beautiful and brilliant fish was anciently called
the sea-dragon, for the same reason that we, in modern
times, call it the sting-fish. It has great power for mis-
chief, and can inflict a severe wound with its fin spines,
which will cause considerable inflammation. Pennant
remarks, that the fish knows how to dart its blows with
as much judgment as a fighting cock. The larger
species, called the great weever, or sea-cat (Trachimus
draco), is also termed sting-bull by the fishermen of
some of our coasts. It is less frequent than the smaller
kind, living in very deep water, but its sting is no less
severe; and so injurious is it that the fishermen imme-
diately deprive it of its spiny fin, before it has power to
harm any one. The laws of France and Spain both
enjoin this practice on their fishermen. Unlovely as are
its actions, however, it is eagerly seized, for its flesh is
a great delicacy. It is about twelve inches in length.


The wolf-fish (Anarrhicas lupus) is another fish
marked by a savage character, which may easily be
traced in its physiognomy. It is confined to the




northern parts of our island, but is not unfrequent
there; and though its flesh is well flavoured, its appear-
ance is so unprepossessing, that few like to eat it. The
people of the Orkney Isles call it swine-fish, but its
name of wolf is very suitable to its voracious and
fierce habits; while it possesses teeth so formidable
that it can crush the hardest substance. It fights its
enemy with desperate fury. The fisherman's net stands
no chance from its wild rage, and his hand receives a
severe wound if extended near it, while it battles with
the large fishes, and devours the smaller ones, making
little account of a whole host of crabs and lobsters,
which may be with it in the meshes.
There is a singular looking fish called the gar-fish, or
sea-pike (Belone vulgaris), common on the coasts of
Cornwall, Kent, Sussex, and some other counties. It
is very slender, and about twenty-four inches long, with
very long mandibles, much like the beak of a bird. Its
vivacity is so great that Mr. Couch says it will spring
out of its element, or for a long time play around a
floating straw, leaping over it again and again. As it
is often taken in the mackerel season, our fishermen
call it the mackerel guide : it has, besides, the familiar
names of horn-fish, long-nose, and sea-needle; and in
Kent is well known by the name of gorebill. Its flesh
is not very well flavoured, but its bones are of a most
beautiful grass-green colour.
The common sea-bream (Pagellus centrodontus) is
a well-known fish on our southern shores, and ladies
living in our sea-coast towns make much use of its
scales for fancy-work. Pearly white roses and other
flowers arrayed on coloured velvet, and formed of these
scales, are exceedingly ornamental and well adapted for
bags, fire-screens, and various other purposes. The
bream is a yellowish red fish, and it is the young
of this species which are so well known as chads, and
which occur so frequently in our rocky pools. Neither
this, nor the equally common black sea-bream, is
much valued as food.


The dory, or john dory as it is commonly called, the
zeus faber of the naturalist, is not one of our common
fishes, though often found, even in profusion, on the
shores of Cornwall or Devon. Yet this flat oval fish is


well known, because many are brought to London from
Plymouth and other parts of the Devonshire coast. It
is remarkable for its high repute among epicures, and
for the absurd legends which are attached to it. The
large. spot which is seen on each side of the fish, is
supposed to have been originated by St. Christopher,
who left the marks of his fingers on its body. Hence
the Greeks call it St. Christopher's fish. In France,
however, it is known as poison St. Pierre, and in that
country the tradition relates that this dory was the fish
taken up by the apostle Peter, with the money in its
mouth for the payment of the tribute. It is also
commonly known in France as the forgeron, or black-
smith, because of its somewhat smoky appearance; but
its traditionary names are very general, for the Italians




call it il janitore, or gatekeeper, in allusion to the
unscriptural notion of the keys which were supposed to
be held by the apostle Peter. The flesh of the fish is
excellent, and its name of John, though of uncertain
origin, is said to have been given by Quin, who has the
not very enviable repute of being one of the best judges
in matters of eating and drinking which some centuries
have produced.
Many a man who is waiting for full employment in
the fishing work, goes down and spends some hours in
catching the fish with a line from some pier head or
jutting rock. The atherine, or sand smelt (Atherina
presbyter), is often taken thus, and is a delicate little
fish of silvery hue, speckled with black. Sometimes the
visitor at the sea-side, who is fond of angling, sits
patiently on the rocks of our southern shores, dreaming
away in the sunshine, while from time to time he takes
from his hook this sand smelt, and is rewarded for his
patience by carrying away a basket full of them.
The grey mullet (Mugil capito) may be seen near
the margin of the shore, revelling in warm sunny
weather, and getting into water so shallow that we
can almost take it with the hand. Mr. Couch observes
of this species: "Carew, the Cornish historian, had a
pond of salt water in which these fish were kept; and
he says that having been accustomed to feed them at
a certain place every evening, they became so tame,
that a noise like that of chopping wood could certainly
cause them to assemble. The intelligence which this
argues, may be also inferred from the skill and vigilance
which this fish displays in avoiding danger, more espe-
cially in effecting its escape in circumstances of great
peril. When enclosed within a ground-scan, or sweep-
net, as soon as the danger is seen, and before the limits
of its range are straitened, and when even the end of
the net might be passed, it is its common habit to
prefer .the shorter course, and throw itself over the
head-line, and so escape: and when one of the
company passes, all immediately follow."



Several fishes, as the cod or keeling, the haddock,
the whiting, and the sole, contribute very largely to
the portion of food yielded by the waters. Those
common and plentiful fiat species, the plaice (Platessa
vulgaris), the flounder (Platessa flesus), and the dab
(Platessa limanda), are also deservedly valued for their
abundance, and good qualities as food. They cannot
be called handsome fishes, but the flat form of these,
and other species, admirably adapts them for inhabiting
low places; and as they are not furnished, like most of
their race, with air bladders, with which to buoy
themselves up, their destined place is near the ground.
Here on the sandy or muddy shore, the plaice hides
horizontally among the loose soil, with the head slightly
elevated above it. The eyes being both on the upper
surface, the fish has a wide range of view, in which to
secure its prey. Mr. Yarrell notices one of those
adaptations, so observable whenever we look into
nature. Referring to the plaice, he says: "Light, one
great cause of colour, strikes on the upper surface only;
the under surface, like that of most other fishes, remains
perfectly colourless. Having little or no means of
defence, had their colour been placed above the lateral
line on each side, in whatever position they moved,
their piebald appearance would have rendered them
conspicuous to all their enemies." The flounder is
sometimes called look, or mayock fleuke; while the
Edinburgh fishermen call it the bull.
The turbot (Rhombus maximus) is common on the
sand-banks, at the east of our island, and considerable
numbers are taken at various parts of our coast.
Though voracious it is somewhat dainty, and will not
touch a bait that is not quite fresh, being best attracted
by such little fish as the sea-scorpion and father
lasher. The brill (Rhombus vulgaris) is often the
companion of the turbot in sandy places, residing how-
ever not alone in the deep waters, but coming into more
shallow parts. It is abundant on the sandy shores.
There are several species called sucking-fishes, from


their power of attaching themselves firmly to the
bottoms of vessels, or to their companions in the sea.
This they do by means of a flattened adhesive disk on
the top of the head; but whether they thus attach
themselves for the purpose of the shelter or protection
thus afforded, or whether it is in order that they may be
carried onwards without any effort of their own, is not
apparent. The common remora (Echeneis remora) is the
species known to the ancients, and was the subject of


many wild fancies in other times. It has been found at
Swansea, adhering to a cod, but is very rare on our
shores. This little fish was once believed to have the
power of stopping the sailing of the largest vessel, by
fastening itself upon it.
"The sucking-fish beneath, with secret chains
Clung to the keel, the swiftest ship detains;
Such sudden force the floating captive binds,
Though beat by waves and urged by driving winds."
None of the sucking-fishes are among those universally
distributed on the shores; but some, as the lump
sucker (Cyclopterus lumpus), a most grotesque looking
figure of a fish, is taken on various parts of our coasts,
especially on the north of our island. It is often ex-
hibited in the fishmongers' shops in London, and is
looked at with wonder, because of the singular and



thick form, and the rich shades of blue, purple, and
orange which appear on its surface. It seems to be
common in the Orkneys, and is there called cock-paidle.
Pennant says of this fish, that on placing one into a
pail of water, it fixed itself so firmly to the bottom,
that in taking it by the tail, the whole pail was lifted
up by that means without removing 4he fish from its
hold, though it contained some gallons.
If we walk along the upper part of the beach where
the waves have left long lines of the refuse of the
deep, and where sea-weed, corallines, and shells engage
our attention, we are almost sure to find those little
things called fairy purses, or mermaids' purses, lying
in the heap. There are two kinds of these. The
prettiest are of a pale horn colour, semi-transparent,
having at their four corners a tendril not quite so thick
as that on a grape-vine, but usually much larger, and
with more numerous curls. These tendrils cling about
pieces of wood or the stems of large sea-weeds, or creep
over stones, and hold fast to them. They are the egg
cases of the small spotted dog-fish (Scillium canicula),
a fish sometimes called on our coast the robin huss.
It is a species of shark; and though not having the
strength of those formidable monsters of tropical seas,
yet it has the true spirit of a shark in its voracity and
fierceness. The fishermen dislike it exceedingly, and
give to it many a familiar name expressive of their
disgust; for it not only devours large numbers of the
smaller fishes, but tears their nets by its determined
fighting, often coming up in numbers only to be
thrown away.
As we might easily infer from the numbers of these
purses lying on our shores, this robin huss is one of
the most common fishes, and still more numerous are
the egg cases deposited by the long-nosed skate, or
ray (Raia mucronata). During winter and spring we
cannot take a walk by the shore without seeing them.
They are oblong horny cases of a dark olive-green, and
having at each corner a projecting piece which looks


like a handle; they resemble in form that very com-
mon object, a butcher's tray. Sometimes they are
inflated, either by being filled with air or sea-water,
or by enclosing the young fish, but at others are empty
and flattened. Ladies frequently cut this case into
narrow strips, and putting them awhile in warm water,
use them as shields to the forefinger when at needlework,
and they answer the purpose very well, as they clasp
tightly round the finger. Sometimes the lover of sea-
weeds finds some very pretty ones attached to these
purses, making a little silky fringe at both ends, and
various beautiful little corallines cluster on and creep
over them. When the young fish is matured, it glides
through the opening at either end, and is at home in
the world of waters. This long-nosed skate, like some
other species of the genus, is a good fish for the table,
and when taken by the hook shakes itself with so much
violence that it needs care to secure it. All the skates
are very voracious, and will eat great numbers of
smaller fishes, crushing up the crabs and little shell-fish
with great ease by means of their powerful jaws. They
are all flat and have long tails.
The thornback (Raia clavata) is another of these
flat fishes, and as useful as it is frequent, affording when
salted a good meal for sea-side people. It is a dan-
gerous fish if carelessly handled, for, besides that it is
covered on all the upper part of its body with small rough
points, it has large tubercular spines distributed here
and there among them. Often while examining the
things on the sea-shore we find pieces of the skin of
this common fish, the spines themselves having been
torn away by the action of the waters, but the oval bony
base from which they sprang left there still, and puzzling
the sea-side visitor to tell what it can be. But the
limits of our little work forbid us to linger longer over
the fishes, or to describe some, which, like the sun-
fish, are so singular in form that few who had seen
them would ever forget them. This strange looking
fish, though occurring but occasionally, "may," Mr.



Yarrcll says, "be said to have been taken from John o'
Groat's to the Land's End. It is almost circular in
shape, and when observed in our seas, seems either
dead or asleep, floating along sideways, and of so in-
sensible and dull a nature that it does not even attempt


to escape, but lets the sailor take it in his hand into
the boat. They are said to be phosphorescent.
Isaac Walton quotes an "ingenious Spaniard," who
says, "that rivers, and the inhabitants of the watery
element, were made for wise men to contemplate, and
fools to pass by without consideration." Assuredly the
waters which wash our island might serve as food for
thought, did we even confine our meditations to the
largest of their inhabitants. "These," said the psalm-
ist, "these all wait upon thee; that thou mayest give
them their meat in due season." When the great
Creator commanded into being every living creature
that moveth, which the waters brought forth, after

their kind," he was mercifully providing stores of food,
which we around this island are constantly enjoying,
and by means of which a large number of our commu-
nity subsist. Nor should we forget that from those
hardy men who are now casting out the net or line,
have sprung some of our most able pilots, some of our
bravest seamen, and that even in our own days many of
those who go out to succour the shipwrecked, braving
the storm at the peril of their own lives, and with little
prospect of reward, are men whose early days were
spent on the shores, among its rocks and shallows, its
waters and their inhabitants.

M-2- _



THERE is good exercise in walking, for those who are
strong enough to traverse a few miles of beach. Such
a walk may be tiring, but it has great charms to those
who love to hear all the variety of melody which
nature offers to the listening ear. Now the wave
dashes with force on the mass of stones, drawing up as
it retreats large numbers of them, but to scatter them
again with a music all its own: now it ripples more
softly among the pebbles, so gently that we can close

our eyes, and dream that we are lying by the borders
of some pebbly rill, till the loud scream of the seagull
above us, so unlike the sweet songs of the minstrel of
the meadow or wood, recalls us to the remembrance
that the ocean is rolling there.
Countless numbers of pebbles, long since rounded
by the action of the water, constitute the shingly mar-
gin on which we are treading. We pick up one or
another, fancying, while wetted by the waves, that it is
a piece of jasper, or agate, or some other treasure, but see,
as it dries, that it is nothing uncommon. Dr. Mantell
has told us that those green false emeralds and aqua-
marines which are sought with such eagerness by
visitors on the Brighton and other coasts, are nothing
but water-worn fragments of common green glass
bottles; and that the moss-agates, jaspers, and other
stones sold by the lapidaries and jewellers of the Isle
of Wight and of Brighton, are in fact of Scotch or
German origin.
But though the wanderer on our shores may never
find one gem of worth sufficient to encircle with gold for
an ornament, he may find at every step some wonderful
stone, with a history well worth his attention. Those
pebbles, rounded now by the long action of the waters
into shingle, are on many beaches mostly flints. They
were originally moulded in the chalk, and, like that
chalk, contain the remains of marine animals embedded
among them. They are not, however, like the chalk
itself, entirely composed of an aggregate of fossil bodies.
This pebble, hard as it is now, must have been at one
time soft and fluid, for on the surface we may often
trace the markings of various marine objects, as a
sponge, or the spine of a sea-egg; and on breaking it,
the scales of fishes, fragments of coral, perhaps a sea
anemone or tiny shell, are perceptible. These little
objects are the centres around which the flinty material
gradually accumulated, while it was in a fluid condition
in water. In this state it was precipitated into the
chalk before the latter was consolidated, these marine

objects all the while forming nuclei, around which the
siliceous earth hardened. A great proportion of the
pebble therefore, consisting of the siliceous earth, is
composed of the fossil skeletons of animalcules, "so
minute," says Dr. Mantell, as to elude our unassisted
vision, but which the magic power of the microscope
reveals, preserved like flies in amber, in all their
original sharpness of outline and delicacy of struc-
It is evident that it was in a deep sea that many of
those pebbles had their origin, or they would not have
enclosed species now unknown, but well ascertained to
have lived in such a sea only. It was then that they
became embedded and hardened in the chalk, till the
chalk bed of ocean was upheaved by volcanic agencies,
and thus the line of sea cliffs was raised above the
waters; then came further elevations of land, bringing
up the fragments gradually worn away from the chalk,
and the sea beach was raised to the place which it now
occupies, several feet above the level of the sea. Mingled
with the pebbles lie pieces of limestone, or cement-
stone, or iron pyrites, while traces of human art and
industry, brought there by the tide, show that our sea
washes a shore inhabited by civilized and intelligent
That sea-side poppy, (Glaucium luteum,) or horned
poppy, as we sometimes call it, because of the long seed
vessels, which, being often a foot in length, may be
seen afar off, like a horn, is a great and frequent orna-
ment to the beach. Every rough wind flutters its golden
petals, but they will not fall for the wind, but will wait
till their time of withering comes. This flower is as
large as the poppy of the corn-field, and as shining in
its gold as is that flower in its scarlet. A large mass of
leaves, of most beautiful sea-green tint, grow around
the root, the upper ones clasping the stem, and the
lower leaves having so many prickles on them, that when
young, or when glittering with dew, they seem as if
silver were sprinkled there. All the winter they may




be seen on the beach, washed by the surf which is scat-
tered from the wave, or which, if the wind sets in on
the shore, covers them over as with little heaps of froth,
till the next gust blows it onward again. This yellow
poppy grows too on the base of the cliff, or on the
sand below the beach. It is an acrid plant, and its


root, which is of the colour of the carrot, is so much
so, that if the juice is tasted, it long leaves an un-
pleasant and burning sensation on the tongue. Its
name refers to its sea-green or glaucous tint, but like
many a flower whose beauty had been marked by the
ancients, the old fables of the Greek mythology de-
rived it from a fisherman, who jumped into the sea
and became a god; a tale of little worth, save to remind
* us of the advantages which we derive, who have re-
ceived no cunningly devised fables, but have the word
of truth in our hearts and homes.


And wandering still beside the wave,
And culling flowers and fancies wild.
I saw the horned poppy gild
The heights with blossoms rich and brave:
"I saw its pods, like scimeters,
So fiercely battling againstt the breeze
That bloweth freshly o'er the seas,
And wafteth songs of mariners."
Some very pretty trefoils flourish exceedingly well on
our sea-beaches, and tufts of sea-side plantain (Plantago
maritima) help to bind the stones together; and many
a clump of the buckshorn plantain (Plantago coro-
nopus) is there, though we shall not go out, as the
housewives of old did, to gather it for salads. Starry
sea-side camomile (Anthemis maritimus), with its
cream-coloured rays surrounding a yellow centre, gives
its strong scent to the wind, and, but for its odour,
might, by one who was not a botanist, be confounded
with the sea-side feverfew (Pyrethrum maritimum):
this plant exactly resembles the mayweed of our corn-
fields, and grows all about the cliffs and shingle.
Vetches are there, too, with their tangling stems, and
in some places that pretty and graceful plant, the sea-
pea (Lathyrus pisiformis), creeps about the pebbly
beach. It is common on those of the counties of Lin-
colnshire and Suffolk, and it grows in abundance near
Walmer castle, in Kent, making the spot quite beauti-
ful in the month of July, with its handsome but
scentless flowers.
But we must wander over these sea-beaches, fearless
of wetting our feet at their margin, if we would see
some of the wonders which the sea is throwing up. We
are no believers in the statement so often made by
people on the coast, that salt water cannot cause cold.
We know it to be a popular fallacy; but with a good
amount of exercise, and by changing the shoes pre-
viously to sitting, we believe we may venture on some
dangers which we could not brave amid the less invi-
gorating air of an inland region. Taking for our
present consideration one tribe of the inhabitants of
the waters, the mollusks and their shells, we have a




large field for observation and inquiry. A mollusk
may be described as a soft-bodied animal, with no legs,
no jointed members of any kind. These animals either
crawl or swim by means of extended portions of their
skins, which are rarely so enlarged as to deserve the
name of fins. They are sometimes covered with shells,
either composed of one piece or valve, or of two or
more valves; but some mollusks, like our garden slug,
have no covering; and some, like the ascidians, which
we are about to mention, have only a thick leathery
mantle or tunic.
The greater number of marine mollusks live on sea-
shores, on rocks, on sand, in eddies, or the mouths of
rivers, and are hence called littoral species; but there
are many kinds which live at great depths, and are
only thrown on the shore by storms. They feed on
animal or vegetable substances, in all conditions,
living or dead; but the several families confine them-
selves either to one or the other kind of food. Those
which feed on living animals of the larger kind, pierce
holes in their shells by means of a proboscis armed
with hooks, and those which feed on the animalcules so
abundant in the waters, or on the small jelly-fish, or
other microscopic objects suspended in the fluid, can
produce in the water an almost circulatory movement,
by means of which these small creatures are hurried, as
in a whirlpool, within the reach of the mollusk.
The ascidians are shell-less mollusca, some of which
are simple, and others compound. Some of the former
animals are very common among our rocks and weeds
on the shore, adhering at low tide to the under surfaces
of rough stones, and hanging like "bunches of semi-
transparent fruit" to the sea-weeds, clinging with a
tenacity which renders it impossible to shake them off.
So common Are they, that the dredge is rarely brought
up from any sea-bed, without containing some of them.
They are irregularly shaped bodies, fixed at one side to
the rock, weed, or shell, while the other end is free.
Two or more openings are visible, and most persons


who, while wandering on the shore, have picked up
one of these animals, have been saluted with a shower
of water, which the ascidian ejects with great force
from these apertures on the slightest pressure. They
have not, usually, any beauty of form,-grace and sym-
metry are not their attributes; but the colours of some
species are exquisitely beautiful. Their leathery tunic
is sometimes crowded with small stones, or pretty little
shells, which completely burrow into the substance of
some of them. Often long graceful stems of horn-
coloured corallines hang like waving boughs about
them, or some tuft of sea-weed is like a silky cushion
on their surface.
That inactive apathetic mass, showing no signs of
life, save when it sends up a jet of water into our faces
from a distance of two, or even three feet, -that
apparently lifeless lump, is a creature well fitted by its
organization for its part in life. Its organs of circula-
tion, respiration, etc. are beautifully arranged, and it is
of great value as food to fishes and other marine
animals, while some of the ascidians furnish food for
the human species. Late observations have proved
that some of these, as well as some other living creatures
of the deep, enjoyed, in earlier stages of life, a greater
degree of freedom and activity. The ascidian, while
yet in a tadpole state, is able to swim through the
waters by means of a rapidly vibrating tail. At a
further stage of its existence, however, the tail dis-
appears, the animal affixes itself by its arms to the
stone or sea-weed, the part which appeared to be the
head sends forth roots, the orifices become visible, and
finally the strange tough gelatinous mass seems to have
lost the will and power of motion, and to be de-
pendent for its very existence on the tangle to which it
Several of the species, like that common pale-green or
yellow kind, the intestinal ascidia (Ascidia intestinalis),
lie about our shore after a storm, or abound among the
rocks. One species (Molgula oculata) is described by




professor Forbes as having a space in the midst of its
encrusted tunic, of a bluish or purple tint, mottled with
orange, with similarly coloured orifices, which look like
little dark eyes within a spectacle-formed frame. Thiswas
found adhering to a
scallop-shell. Another
kind resembles at first
a little ball of sand on
a sea-weed, and when
we rub away the sand
we find that this was
merely a crust to an
object resembling a
small globe of i-ce.
Some are of greyish
white, or ashy red, or
brownish colour; some
of deep crimson, or
brighter scarlet; ano-
ther is tawny coloured
speckled with regular
S dashes of purple. One
species taken on an
..oyster by Mr. Alder,
is described as very
like a raspberry, while
averycommon species
THE AS(CIDIA. on the sea-weeds, at
most parts of our coast (Cynthia rustica), is white and
smooth. Ascidians coloured like the china rose of our
gardens, or of bright orange and palest straw-colour,
sometimes scarlet within, lie unheeded among our sea-
weeds, and are often so covered with sand that we never
see their colours, while their internal structure is known
only to the anatomist. The most common size of
these animals is about an inch, or an inch and a half,
but many are three inches long.
We have spoken only of the simple form of ascidia,
but various compound species are also among the



common objects of our beaches and rocks. Few things
indeed are more frequent, and we know of none more
beautiful, than some of the larger kinds. If, as we
walk along at low tide, we turn up some of the loose
rough stones at the edges of the pools, or grasp at some
root of sea-weed which has been severed from its hold,
we see them looking like clusters of stars of silver, but
tinted with deep crimson or paler rose colour, with
orange, yellow, blue grey, brightest green or deepest
violet. All hues of beauty are seen on them, as they
are too on some which, instead of stars, seem as if they
were icicles hung on the weed by the hand of winter.
"If," say professor Forbes and Mr. Hanley, "we keep
some of these bodies alive in a vessel of sea water,
we find them lie there as apathetic as sponges, giving
few signs of vitality, beyond the slightly pouting out of
tube-like membranes around apertures which become
visible on their surfaces; though a closer and mi-
croscopic examination will show us currents in active
motion in the water around those apertures, streams
ejected and whirlpools rushing in, indicating that how-
ever torpid the creature may externally appear, all the
machinery of life, the respiratory wheels and circulatory
pumps, are hard at work in its inmost recesses. In the
course of our examination, especially if we cut up the
mass, we find that it is not a single animal which lies
before us, but a commonwealth of beings, bound
together by common and vital ties. Each star is a
family, each group of stars a community. Individuals
are linked together in systems, systems combined into
masses. Each member of the commonwealth has its
own peculiar duties, but shares also in operations which
relate to the interest and well-being of the mass. Ana-
tomical investigation shows us the details of these
curious structures and arrangements, beautiful as wise.
Indeed, few bodies among the lower forms of life exhibit
such exquisite and kaleidoscopic figures as those
which are displayed in the combination of the com-
pound ascidians."



Several kinds of botryllus are very common on our
weeds, and our engraving will serve to give a general
idea of their structure,-a being the natural size, and
b a single group magnified. These compound asci-

dians, however, vary much in appearance; one is
described as similar to a number of heads of madre-
pore; others are little orange-coloured masses, fixed
by a stalk to the rock. One, which is very common
on all our coasts (Leptoclinum maculosum), is a thin
hard leathery crust, surrounding the root of the
olive-coloured tangle, and is variegated with white
and blue. Our common serrated fucus, a sea-weed
hereafter to be described, has often in abundance a
whitish yellow species investing it. Some of them, as
the species called the sea fig (Aplidium ficus), have a
most disagreeable odour. Some kinds of ascidians are
linked together in chains.
Perhaps while lingering about among jetties, piers,
and other wood-work, the reader may have seen many
of the piles which are at times under water, pierced into
numerous holes, long worm-eaten looking cavities. This
destruction has been all effected by a long worm-like
mollusk, called the teredo, of which we have several
British species. Immense mischief is done by these
worms, undermining as they often do maritime works,
which a few years since have cost much labour and
money, piercing holes in ships, unfitting them for ser-
vice, and sometimes causing them to sink beneath the


overwhelming billows, while they even make holes in
the roots and stems of submerged living trees, which
grow on the sea-shore of some of the hotter regions
of the earth.
Mr. Thompson mentions that a piece of pine wood,
nine inches in diameter, after having been for five years
and a half used as a pile, was so reduced by the
perforations of the teredines, as not to contain more


than an inch of solid timber in any part; while at
several places it was completely bored through. This
pole was placed fifteen feet below high-water mark,
and was only left uncovered during low water at
spring tides. Often before some sea pier or break-
water is finished, the piles are so worm-eaten that
repairs are required for the first portion of the work.
The very existence of Holland was once endangered
by the ravages made by the shipworms in the em-
bankments so industriously and judiciously employed
for the protection of that country, when all at once
they left the spot, without any reason having appeared
for their doing so. Creosote and various kinds of
varnish have been employed to arrest their ravages, but
nothing seems more effectual than placing in the wood
a number of iron-headed nails, which rusting in con-
sequence of the moisture, seem to be unpalatable or
injurious to the teredines, and this drives them away
from the spot. But these shipworms have their uses
too. Every one living near the sea knows how often large
pieces of wood float in the waters, sometimes the
remains of shipwrecks, sometimes washed in from the
trees on the shore, which winds and storms have
brought low. Some of these piles, borne from climes
where vegetation is luxuriant, would hinder the ship in


its way over theaters, and cause danger to the mariner,
did not the shipworms break them into small fragments,
and scatter them, leaving the smaller pieces for firewood
to the fisherman and other sailor. Many perhaps,
as well as the poet, have watched the blue flames
which hovered about the salt drift wood,-

And as their splendour flash'd and failed,
Have thought of wrecks upon the main;
Of ships dismasted that were hailed,
And sent no answer back again;"

and while winds were blowing without, have lifted up
an anxious and prayerful thought, that He who holdeth
the water in the hollow of his hand would protect the
The common shipworm (Teredo navalis) has a long
tube, generally white and firm as thin porcelain, but
sometimes little more than a film; at times it is
altogether absent. The head is enclosed in a sharp
and hard two-valved shell, and this is the instrument
which, guided by powerful muscles, is employed in its
work. Not only naturalists, but political writers, have
occupied themselves in tracing the history of this
mollusk. Sellius, a native of Dantzic, wrote a book of
three hundred and sixty pages, in which he cited
nearly two hundred authors, and quotes lines of Ovid
alluding to it. Messrs. Forbes and Hanley give an
imitation of the classic lines, adding, that they were
singularly applicable to the history of Sellius himself.

"For as the ship by hidden shipworm spoil'd;
Or as the rock by briny wavelet mined;
Or as the rusted sword by rust is soil'd ;
Or book unused, the tiny moths unbind;
So gnaw'd and nibbled, without hope of rest,
By cares unceasing, is my tortured breast."

But the different species of teredo are not the only
miners, for we have about our shores and lying there
before our eyes, every day, numbers of little excavators,
not only in wood but in stone. We have several
species of pholades, but the one which is most common,


and is to be seen on all our rocky shores, is the prickly
stone-piercer, or stone pidduck (Pholas dactylus), the
dail commun of the French. The shells of these
piercers are all white, more or less thin and delicate,
and consist of two long valves, of an oval form, which


are open at one end. Several small and curious
valves are placed near the hinge, and just inside each
of the large valves is a little piece shaped like a spoon.
The outside of the valves is marked with ridges of
We cannot observe without wonder the caves made
by this little creature, in wood, chalk, limestone, or
other hard substances; some species of pholas preferring
one, and some another; but all selecting this dark
hiding-place. Not that this shell-fish is quite a hermit.
Apparently, it likes the companionship of its kind, for
the holes often open into one another, like little gal-
leries, unlike the cavities made by the teredo, which
are quite separated, though sometimes by a partition
no thicker than a film. Rocks of chalk, or red sand-
stone, or lias, perforated all over by the common
species, often stand up from the water, at low tide,
and shells then may be seen sometimes five or six
inches in length, and one inch and a half broad. This


species lives in all the seas of Europe, and in France
is in great request as food, though with us it is only
used for bait. Boys may often be seen searching for
these animals for this purpose. They call them clams.
All the species might be eaten, and one large West
Indian kind is commonly sold in the markets of
The mode by which the pholades make these cavities
has never been satisfactorily explained; but it seems
probable that they act with the notched edge of the
shell, as with a saw, as they have been observed to
exhibit a rotatory motion while boring. The animal,
too, has, like many of the inhabitants of the sea, small
cilia (so called, because resembling an eyelash), and
these are used for creating currents in the water
around them, which may aid in clearing away the
already, loosened particles. Some writers think that
they are aided by a solvent, but as Messrs. Forbes and
Hanley can find no secretion of this kind, they re-
mark, that if the mollusk is assisted by any chemical
action, it must be by the carbonic acid gas set free
during the process of respiration. It is remarkable
that our common snail (Ielix nemorosa) has been
known to bore similar cavities in masses of carboniferous
limestone. Some other species of marine shell-fish
also make the rocks look like honeycomb by their
labours. Such are some of the gastrochaena; but
they are less frequent than the pholades ; and such also
are the saxicavae, some of which, as the rough saxicava
(Saxicava rugosa), are abundant on some parts of the
coast. The shells of these species are not so well
adapted for rasping as those of the stone-piercers, and
both these animals and the land snails are thought
to effect their purpose by means of a weak secretion of
The stone-piercers are remarkably phosphorescent,
especially when fresh, though some remains of the
luminous property are exhibited, even when dried, and
it may be revived by the application of water. A


solution of sea water always increases its power, while
brandy immediately extinguishes the light. This is
also slightly decreased by sal ammoniac, and entirely
destroyed by acid. The luminous water becomes more
vivid when poured upon fresh calcined gypsum, rock
crystal, or sugar. Milk may be rendered phospho-
rescent by the pholas; but if mixed with sulphuric
acid, it loses its light, acquiring it anew if oil of tartar
be applied. Coloured substances are differently and
actively affected by it. Thus, white appears to receive
and emit the greatest quantity, while yellow and green
do so in a less degree; red emits a very faint light, and
violet still less. One single pholas will render seven
ounces of milk so beautifully luminous, that all around
is clearly to be seen by its light. If the milk is ex-
cluded from the air, the light disappears, reviving again
on exposure to the atmosphere; and in the exhausted
receiver of an air-pump the animal loses its light
The rocks have their cavities made by mollusks, and
their surface, on the other hand, is often roughened by
the adherence of other tribes. Sometimes one of these
well-pierced rocks has almost every unbroken portion
crowded with barnacles. The sessile barnacle or ba-
lanus, of which there are many kinds, is known to every
one on the shore, for it encrusts our piers as with a
stony covering, crowds on the oyster shells, the scallops,
the rocks, the drift wood, and stones, either in the sea
or just out of it, often encrusting vessels, especially
about the helm. This is commonly called the sea
acorn, and the shell is composed of several pieces, alto-
gether forming a cone. Our common specimens are
small, but sometimes we find this an inch long. The
other kind of barnacle is not so frequent, though often
covering masses of wood which the storm brings.
It is called the stalked or duck barnacle (Pentelasmis
anatifera), and its shell of five pieces is at the end of a
long stalk of a reddish colour. The shell itself is
very pretty and clear, with a bluish tint. These bar-



nacles are often seen in clusters, not only on floating
wood, but also on the keels of ships. In China, a deli-
cious dish is made of these shell-fish, which in boiling,
turn from red to white. They are described as resem-
bling the lobster in
Sflavour. The ani-
/ I mals which make
*. these shells are very
/ i / beautifully formed,
S--- and have arms like
.........-1. little feathers, which
they put out be-
tween the valves of
', 4 their shells when
they catch their
food. No one, to
look at any of these
barnacles, could ima-
gine that they were
once active creatures,
:: \, B swimming vigorously
and freely about in
the waters, instead
of being fixed to wood
or stone. But in
their first period of
existence, they were
covered only with a
thin crust, and had
limbs and tailswhich
THE BARNCLE. adapted them for
making their way in the watery world, in which they
were for a period to find their residence.
The shells which we have hitherto, described are,
though beautifully formed, almost colourless; but we
know that shells are often as gaily tinted as the most
glowing flowers, and much do we prize many which
are gathered from far off seas. Shells are secreted by
the mollusks which dwell within them. The little

animal has, when first hatched, some small beginning of
a shell, quite colourless and simple, which, in the course
of time, it moulds into the shape which all its species
make, and adorns with brilliance like to theirs. The shell
is formed upon a basis of membrane, which, when by a
chemical process it is exposed to view, shows itself to
be either a network of cells, or a series of wrinkled
layers. This membrane is scarcely thicker than such
as the spider would weave; but it is consolidated by a
mixture of carbonate of lime, which the mollusk secretes
from its food, and which, mingled with a living gelatine,
exudes from the glands of the skin. Doubtless, its life
is pleasantly employed in making this little cell, and
adorning it with pink, or green, or purple, or any other
brilliant tint, or with the various shades of fawn or
brown, which seem those most usually preferred by the
little painter.
Shells, in an early or rude state of society, have
various uses of which, in our age and country, we
know little. We make from them some beautiful gems
of art, and the shell has long formed the substitute for
the hard, flinty stones of which the cameos were formed
by the ancients. Shells are selected which afford the
necessary distinction of colour, and which, while they
are soft enough to be worked with ease, have yet suf-
ficient hardness to resist wear. The shells usually em-
ployed are univalves; and the bull's mouth, the black
helmet, the horned helmet, and the queen's conch,
afford the material in greatest perfection. About twenty
years since, an Italian commenced the manufacture of
these cameos in Paris, and now about three hundred
persons are employed in that city in cutting them. Mr.
Gray, who read to the Society of Arts a paper detailing
the history of the manufacture of cameos, states,-" The
number of shells used annually thirty years ago, was
about three hundred, the whole of which were sent from
England; the value of each shell in Rome being thirty
shillings." He adds the prices of various shells used in
1847 in Paris, and observes,-" The average value of the




large cameos made there is about six francs each, giving
a sterling value of 32,0001.; and the value of the small
cameos is about 8,0001.-giving a total value of the
cameos produced in Paris for that year of 40,0001.;
while in England not more than six persons are em-
ployed in this trade."
Various ornaments and beautiful pieces of.inlaid work
are made of the nacre, or mother-of-pearl; and several
bivalve shells furnish us with the pearl for feminine attire.
Some large pearls have been procured from British
species, but no shell of our land yields any to be com-
pared to the oriental pearls, or to that large one called
the globe of light, which is found in the avicula of the
Pacific Ocean.
But in many an island of the distant seas, dishes,
drinking-cups, spoons, knives, razors, and fishing-hooks,
are all furnished by the waters which lave their shores;
and the very instruments of music are made of the sea-
shell. It has indeed a music of a softer nature for us-
a music which reminds us of rolling waters, and which
tempts us to lay our ear to its cavity, that we may listen
to its sounds.
Pleased it remembers its august abode,
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there."

But little like to this plaintive tone is the loud, sonorous
voice which the shell is made to echo by the savage, or
to the terrible war-cry which sometimes is uttered
through its spiral coils. That old writer, Pietro Martire,
is quoted by Southey as thus describing a custom of the
native Americans :-" The doors of their houses and
chambers were full of diverse kindes of shells, hanging
loose by small cordes, that being shaken by the wind
they make a certain rattelling, and also a whistling
noise, by gathering the winde in their holowe places;
for herein they have a- great delight, and impute this for
a goodly ornament." In Madoc," the poet describes
a Festival of the Dead, in which he refers to this


Not a sound is heard,
But of the crackling brand, or mouldering fire,
Or when, amid yon pendent string of shells,
The slow wind makes a shrill and feeble sound,
A sound of sorrow to the mind attuned
By sights of woe."

The negro girl yet decks herself in the nose-jewel and
earring made of the shell; and so beautifully do some
tribes form their shells into wreaths and bracelets, that
the European traveller looks on them with admiration.
" Some years ago," says a writer in the Magazine of
Natural History," I saw in the museum of Mr. Bullock
a very magnificent piece of dress of this kind. It was
the chief mourning dress of ceremony at the funerals of
Otaheite. The part worn over the face was made of large
plates of mother-of-pearl shell, fastened together with
fibres of the cocoa-nut; and the elaborate drapery
stretched across the breast was composed of several
thousands of pieces of mother-of-pearl, each separately
drilled and fastened together, in a manner that would be
found difficult for a European artist to copy." Neck-
laces and other ornaments, made of shells, are also
preserved in the British Museum.
The inner layers of some large flat shells are polished
and used, as glass is for windows, in China and India; the
flat shells of various species are used to skim milk; and in
Zetland an elegant lamp is made of the spindle-shell
(Fusus antiquorus), hung horizontally, the cavity being
filled with oil, and the canal serving as a place for the
Shells are found to form an excellent manure for the
land, and are, even in our country, sometimes used for
this purpose; and in China, India, and Africa, where
there is no stone for the lime burner, shells are used in-
stead. So pure is the lime procured from them, that
even the ladies in India, who are accustomed to chew
the leaf of the betel and the nut of the areka, commonly
mingle this with them to improve their pungent flavour.
But important as are some of these uses of shells, yet
they are not to be compared to the service which they
I 3


render in forming extensive portions of land. Chalk,
marl, and limestone are composed of marine relics, in
which shells largely mingle; and millions and millions,
far beyond our computation, must have gone to make
up the substance of a single cliff. The mollusks die,
and the wave comes, with its broad sweep, and rolls
onward the empty shells, and dashing them against
pieces of rock, or projections of soil, reduces them to
fragments, which gradually become more crushed and
broken as the work is repeated. Then these masses are
drawn along in the direction of currents, and driven in
accumulated heaps along the shores. The strata which
result from this action of the waves are mainly composed
of broken shells, of which the asperities have been rounded
into smoothness. It is also a circumstance worthy of
remark, that in strata of this character the fragments are
usually deposited according to the law of specific gravity,
and that they are scarcely ever mingled with mud or other
foreign matters, such shells as remain unbroken being
filled with shelly sand. Many instances of this increase
of land are to be seen on our coast. Such are the de-
positions, which being in the course of long years
pressed down by superior strata, and having in them-
selves a tendency to crystallize, become more and more
compact, and, finally hardening into solid rocks, leave
few traces of their origin visible to the naked eye.
But we must return to our account of some of the
shells which the wanderer by the sea may be likely to
find there. Several species belonging to the gaper
tribe are common. They are oblong shells, and some-
what rude in appearance, always more or less gaping
very widely at the two extremities; both the shell and the
animal within are often covered with a coarse, wrinkled,
thin skin. The species all bury themselves in sand,
mud, or gravel. They have long siphons or tubes, and
when buried they remain in an erect position under
the mud, so that we may discover their retreats by
holes which correspond with the extremities of their


The truncated mya (Mya truncata) is a very plen-
tiful and widely opened shell, in the wet sand of our
coast. In Zetland, it is boiled and eaten, and it is
there called smurslin, and several of the species are
good for food. It is abundant on the coast of New-
foundland, and said to be the favourite food of the
Some shells which are deemed very rare by natu-
ralists, who seek for them on shores only, are very
common species in the deeper part of the sea. This is
the case with the triangular shell of the gibbous tellina
(Tellina gibba), which is so extremely prevalent as to
be a great annoyance to the habitual dredger. Other
species, which we do not often find on the land, are
brought to us in the stomachs of cods, halibuts, and
other fishes. "The haddock," says professor Forbes,
"is a great conchologist: in his travels through the
countries of the mermaids, he picks up many curiosities
in the shell way. Not a few rare species have been
discovered by him, and the ungrateful zoologist too
frequently describes novelties without an allusion to the
original discoverer. As haddocks are not in the habit
of writing pamphlets or papers, the fraud remains un-
discovered, greatly to the detriment of science, for had
the describer stated to whom he was indebted for his
specimen, we could form some idea of its habitat and
history." The cod is also said by this writer to be a great
naturalist in this way, though, apparently, he is not so
much devoted to the study of the mollusca, as to the
inhabitant of the sea-eggs, and to the star-fishes.
The razor fishes, though but a small tribe, are im-
portant bivalve mollusks, and are remarkable for their
long narrow shells, which might remind us of a pod
or seed-vessel of a plant. They are longer and narrower
than any other shells, and they and their inmates were
well known to Aristotle, who describes the habits of
one of the species. He says that it buries itself in the
sand at the distance of about two feet; that it does not
leave its hole, though it can sink or raise itself at will;




that it is alarmed by ioise, and when frightened, buries
itself very rapidly.
This description agrees with the habits of our British
species, two of which are very common. The pod razor
shell (Solen siliqua) is a long shell covered with a thin
skin of a light brown or olive green, which when rubbed
off shows the shell beneath to be white, with a few bands
of dull purple. It is the largest British species, varying
in length from three or four to eight inches. The
animal is good for food, and much sought for on various
parts of our coast, but particularly prized in Ireland.
Women and children take many razor fishes by a very
simple process. They have a long wire sharpened at
one end, and bent. Searching in the sand for the holes
made by these animals, they put down the wire and
easily force them out of their hiding-places. The



French call the solen, manche de couteau, and it is,
indeed, very similar to a knife-handle. On the coast of
Normandy some of the species are very abundant.
The sabre razor shell (Solen ensis) is as plentiful
on sandy places as the other species, and very similar
to it, though more slender. It also inhabits deeper
Much more beautiful in colour are the shells of the
tellen tribe, some of which are strewn upon all our
sandy shores, and occur with the common kinds of
scallop in all the baskets carried about beaches for sale.
They are mostly thin, delicate shells, beautifully sculp-
tured and painted with most rich and glowing hues,
though the little creature which makes the gay dwelling-
place is pale and colourless. The genus psammobia
belongs to this tribe, and it contains some very ele-
gant and beautiful shells. One of these (Psammobia
vespertina), which, though rather a local species, is
abundant in some parts of the coast, is so beautifully
rayed with rosy hues, that it well deserves its name of
the setting sun. It sometimes is collected in great
numbers on our sands after stormy weather, and it
dwells near the shore, burrowing at a slight depth
beneath the sands at low water.

The faroe psammobia (Psammobia ferroensis) is
well known all round our shores, and is of an oblong
figure, tolerably strong and thick, with the valves
somewhat unequal. When fresh from the water it is
usually covered with a thin olive-coloured skin, and




when this is rubbed away we find it rayed with white
and delicate rose colour, or marbled with pink on a
whitish ground. Indented lines run closely from the
hinge to the edge, which are crossed by others ex-
tending the whole breadth of the shell, and the edges
are slightly notched. The highly polished interior is
white or purplish lilac.
The tellens are very numerous, not less than two
hundred species of the genus tellina alone being enu-
merated. They are to be found in every sea, though
abounding most in the tropics; and some or other of
them are, like our British kinds, among the most
frequent shells strewn by storms upon shores. The
tropic species are highly coloured and beautiful in form,
and much valued as chimney ornaments. The animals
all burrow in the sand.


Shells are so difficult to describe that we cannot
enumerate many species, but one of the very common-
est bivalves all round our coast must be mentioned.
This is the pretty thin telling (Tellina tennis), a sub-
oval shell, with a smooth surface, which differs in hue


in different individuals, being sometimes of pale crim-
son or delicate rose tint, at others, of orange or pale
yellow, or yellowish white. It is often shaded with
darker zones of the same colour, but is never marbled
nor spotted. It is about one inch in length, and five-
eighths of an inch in breadth. The pearly white thin
shell is sometimes iridescent, though now and then
stained with orange or rose colour.
An oval-shaped bivalve shell, called the white mactra
(Mactra alba), is very abundant in most sandy and
muddy places round our coast. It is very thin and

brittle, but not clear; and its white surface is covered
with a thin glossy yellowish skin. It is about two-
thirds of an inch in size. Several other species of mac-
tra are cast ashore by the waves on our sandy margins,
and the solid mactra (Mactra solida) is a thick shell,
covered with an olive-green skin. It is sometimes
deeply furrowed or veined with grey or slate colour,
and sometimes of a dull yellow. A very similar species




is common on the shores of the isle of Arran, and is
there collected as food for pigs.
The donax is another large family, whose strong
shells are well known and abundant, and scarcely any
bivalve is more general on our shores than the trun-
cated donax (Donax trunculus). It is oblong wedge-
shaped, firm and glossy, one inch and a quarter broad,
and marked both from the hinge to the edge and from
side to side with close
deep lines, banded
with purple, and hav.
ing small notches at
the edge. The animal
e within is usually of a
Sdull white, but is
sometimes of pale
orange colour, and the
form of its shell is
DO Ca TsRUenULU admirably adapted to
its habit of burrowing in the sand. The name of donax
is from the Greek word for reed, and a flying reed is
used by the ancients for an arrow. The shape of the
shell is very similar to the head of a javelin, being thick
at one end and gradually tapering towards the other.
The truncated mya abounds on the sand, and its
shell looks as if one end had been cut off; and several
species of lutraria are common shells. One of the
many species of Venus, the striated species (Ventus
striatala), is more easily described, and is found every-
where on sandy tracts. It is triangular and heart-
shaped, often painted with delicate zigzag lines of a
brown or purplish brown colour, nearly an inch and
a half in length. Several of the species are common,
and some are more gaily painted than this, and are
justly admired for their brilliancy and smoothness of
surface. It was the beauty of some of these which led
to the fable that Venus selected one of these shells for
her car, and they are used everywhere as decorations.
The North American Indians cover their dancing shoes


with them, and their movements produce a tinkling
sound. There are one hundred and fifteen species of
Venus enumerated.
The island cyprina (Cyprina islandica) may claim
a passing notice as being one of our largest native shells.
It is not rare on any part of our coast, though essentially
it is a northern species. It has been known to measure
four inches and a half in breadth, and more than an
inch in length, but its ordinary size is somewhat less.
A singular and handsome shell is the heart isocardia
(Isocardia cordata). Its name would enable the reader
to identify it, for it is truly heart-shaped. It is of a
dull white colour, marked with fawn or dingy red.
The animal within appears to be insensible either to
sound or light. It fixes itself, by means of its foot, on
the margin of a sand-bank, at too great a distance to
be disturbed by storms. There," says the Rev. Jas.
Bulwer, "the isocardia of our Irish Sea patiently col-
lects its food from the surrounding element, assisted in
its choice by the current which it is capable of creating
by the alternate opening and closing of its valves." It
is chiefly obtained off the Dublin coast.
The last named shell is better known to those who
are in the habit of examining collections of shells, than
to the wanderer by the sea-side. Not so the common
cockle (Cardium edule), whose strong ribbed shell is
familiar to everybody, being found all round our coast
wherever there is any sand. The shell is still used in
the Hebrides for skimming milk; and in the feast of
shells in the days of Fingal, that of the cockle was,
according to Macpherson, the heroes' cup of festivity,
being known by the name of sliga-crechin, or the drink-
ing shell. Large heaps of the empty shells, strewed by
the doors of cottages, often serve to show howagreeable a
food to the labourer are the small globose animals
which once occupied them ; and the cockle is certainly
one of the best flavoured of the mollusca. Though we
cannot agree with those who prefer it to the oyster, as
some do, yet it is no despicable food when roasted or



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