....... . . . .
The Baldwin Library
A NARROW ESCAPE.
WALTER AT THE SEA-SIDE;
FACTS AND FANCIES ABOUT THE
SHORE AND THE DEEP.
What hid'st thou in thy treasure-caves and cells,
Thou hollow-sounding and mysterious main ?"
T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW;
EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
fHE writer's object in the following unpretending
pages has been twofold: to instruct, and to amuse.
To instruct, by bringing before the young reader
a variety of valuable details in relation to the
common objects of the sea-shore and the denizens
of the mighty deep ; to amuse, by clothing these details in
lively language, by illustrating them with anecdote and
quotation, and by interweaving with them certain episodes
of peril, enterprise, and adventure.
Many years have elapsed since Dr. Aikin and his sister
composed their agreeable little narrative of Eyes and No
Eyes," yet its moral is one that requires to be constantly
enforced upon the attention of parents and children.
Thousands migrate every summer to the sea-side, apparently
for no other purpose than to beguile the time with sea-
bathing and listless promenades ; or, in the case of the
young, to build castles of sand and gather shells. How
much more pleasantly would they pass their leisure, whether
young or old, if they learned to keep their eyes open; if
they studied the habits and modes of life of the strange
creatures floating in the rock-pool or crawling over the
weedy beach; if they brought themselves acquainted with
something of the beauty, and power, and wonderfulness of
The writer trusts that the perusal of his little volume will
be found useful in this direction, and will show the youthful
student how much amusement may be derived from a visit
to the sea-side by those who make a good use of their eyes.
And it may serve, perhaps, as a stimulus and encouragement
to the study of Natural History-that one of all the
sciences which affords the most unalloyed gratification;
which most clearly reveals to us the love and mercy, no less
than the power and wisdom, of the Divine Creator; which
forces from our souls the rapturous exclamation: 0 LORD,
how manifold are Thy works I In wisdom hast Thou made
them all! The Earth is full of Thy riches! "
From idler pastimes let us turn awhile
Where Nature glows in Heaven's irradiant smile:
But not to dell or glen, or vale or bower,
Do we now dedicate a passing hour;
Not to the twellinghills, that greenly rise
To catch the lights and shadows of the skies;
Not to the forest dense, that proudly bears
The burthen of a thousand toiling years;
Not to the stream, that sparkles through the shade,
And fills with music all the echoing glade ;-
But to the Ocean, with its voice of might,
Its depths sublime, its face of glorious light;
The long bold line of cliffs, the weedy strand,
The level surface of the ribbed sand;
The rocky pools, that teem with novel life;
The clanging breakers, and their ceaseless strife:
To these we turn, and, worshipping, adore
The Power Divine that bade such marvels.be;-
The wonder and the beauty of the Shore,
The glory and the mystery of the Sea l
WALTER AT THE SEA-SIDE.
10 DONT thi-k I sdllf ever
'- =-_ ..... .. -: -
know much of natural his-
tory," said Walter Somerville
to his cousin, as they lei-
surely paced along the High
Street of a favourite watering-place in the
south-west of England,-" I don't think I shall
THE SWORD BALMUNG.
ever know much of natural history-zoology
-or whatever you call it. Oh, it is such dull
Dull! exclaimed young Arthur Vernon-
" dull Why, it's the most agreeable of studies;
and, by-the-by, I don't know any better place
for pursuing it than the shore of the mighty
and mysterious main.' "
Oh, its hard names are enough to frighten
any fellow! I tell you, Arthur, I must give it
up. I have tried it, and can do nothing with it."
"That, I am afraid, is because you have not
got a sufficiently keen edge to your sword
Sword!--Balmung! Come, Arthur, that's
another of your puzzles. Now, tell me what
you mean by that."
"Well, in an old, very old, German poem
called the Nibelungen Lied, you may read of the
doings of a heroic knight named Siegfried.
This knight was the fortunate possessor of a
wonderful enchanted sword--the sword Balmung
-which had been forged by the famous smith
Mimer. And when he forged it, Mimer deter-
mined it should be the sharpest sword in the
HOW THE BLADE WAS TEMPERED.
world. As soon as he had finished it, he went
straight into the presence of the king, and with
his newly-tempered blade cut asunder 'a thread
of wool floating on water.' Loud was the king
in his admiration of the weapon, but it did not
satisfy the smith. He returned to his forge,
sawed the blade in pieces, welded it in 'a red-
hot fire for three days,' and tempered it with
milk and oatmeal. Then he went again into
the presence of the king, and this time he
severed a ball of wool as it floated on the water.
'Marvellous!' exclaimed the king; and 'Mar-
vellous !' echoed his knights and barons, But
Mimer looked discontented, took up his sword,
and wended his way homeward. Once more he
blew up his fire, and hammered, and welded,
and tempered this said Balmung, working night
and day for seven weeks. Then he went for
the third time into the presence of the king,
and seeing a whole pack of wool floating on the
water, he split it asunder at one stroke. This
wonderful achievement so startled the king that
he could not speak; and as for Mimer, he
owned himself contented. He had put, you see,
the finest possible edge to his sword, Walter;
IS IGNORANCE BLISS?
and had worked and worked until he had obtained
That's a good story," said Walter, reflec-
tively; and I see what you mean. You would
have me give more of my mind to my new
study, and keep on until I am completely master
of it. Well, I'll make another trial; but still I
say and declare that natural history is dull-
Nay, Walter," observed his cousin; you
think it dull because you know nothing of it;
just as the savage despises a lump of gold from
his ignorance of its value. But, surely, it is
not dull to examine the habits of the beautiful
winged birds-their little loves and quarrels,
their ingeniously built nests, their contrivances
for flight, their various powers of song ; or the
manners and customs of the finny populace of
ocean, from the warm-blooded and gentle,
though gigantic whale, down to the little in-
visible animalcule that builds up the white coral
reefs and radiant coral islands; or the numerous
members of the great animal world, so different
in their powers and faculties, so distinctive in
their structure, so glorious in their aspect, yet
OFF TO THE HARBOUR.
all bearing eloquent witness to the wisdom and
goodness and omnipotence of their Creator.
No, Walter; don't call natural history, or any
other science-nay, nor any art either-dull,
because to one who understands and reflects,
who knows or wishes to know, it is full of the
highest interest, and more attractive than any
During this conversation, Walter and his
cousin continued their progress down the High
Street of Oldport-a curious but pleasing com-
bination of busy, tarry, fi y, briny shipping-
town, and gaudy, noisy, smiling, fashionable
bathing-place-and quickly found themselves on
its little pier, which, by throwing out at its
extremity an arm towards the right, enclosed,
with the help of a ridge of rocks on the
opposite side, a small harbour, of sufficient
depth of water for fishing-boats and smacks,
and amply protected from the more dangerous
Walter Somerville was the son of a widow of
moderate circumstances, who had visited Old-
port for the purpose of enabling him to enjoy
his holidays and recruit his strength by the
FRIENDS AND COUSINS.
sea-shore, rightly believing that the finest tonic
in the world is the fresh air which blows over
leagues of windy sea." She had found with
much pleasure, on her arrival, that her sister's
family were also staying at Oldport during the
vacation ; for she knew that Walter could have
no better companion than his cousin Arthur
Vernon, a lad of_ seventeen, scarcely less
remarkable for his acquirements and love of
knowledge, than for his generosity of disposition
and purity of mind. They were warm friends,
though Walter was much younger than his
cousin, to whom he looked up with almost the
reverence a good son pays to his father: they
were warm friends; every day they spent hours
together; and already they had explored in com-
pany much of the charming and picturesque
scenery which surrounded the town of Oldport.
For the attentive observer, for a mind imbued
with a love of the beautiful, for an imagination
capable of conceiving the wonder and perfection
of God's revelation in nature, Oldport was a
delightful locality. Magnificent sea views and
romantic land views blended together in that
complete harmony which is the grand charac-
AROUND AND ABOUT.
teristic of the Divine work. Inland there were
leafy valleys, where, even in the noonday, a soft
subdued shade prevailed; where clear brooks
made such music that you might fancy the flowers
inclining their heads to listen, as if fearful they
should lose a note of its exquisite sweetness:
inland, I say, there were broad reaches of
green pasture and golden corn-field, over whqse
varied surface the wind came and went in
alternate waves of shadow and sunlight; and
swelling hills, from whose summit the spectator
looked down upon a panorama of wonderful
interest-the waters dimpling in the glory of
the heavens, the earth making ready for the
joy of harvest, and, near in snore, the busy
fishing-boats collecting their share of the spoil
of ocean : inland, too, were the greenest of green
lanes that ever rejoiced in the bloom of hawthorn
hedges and the pride of elm and beech, of
oak and chestnut-the greenest of green lanes
that ever wound through deep red banks, heavy
with fern and blossom and ivy and honeysuckle,
while their echoes blithesomely repeated the
mingled songs of a hundred birds-the greenest
of green lanes that ever strayed past trim
AN ENGLISH LAN SCAPF.
cottage and quiet pond, past the haystack and
the cornrick, the meditative cattle in the rich
meadow, the young colt neighing in his grassy
paddock, the squire's neat white mansion look-
ing out on gay garden and well-kept lawn, and
the old, old church, whose massive tower and
ivy-shrouded walls seem in such solemn keeping
with the ever-silent graves.
If such was the character of the inland
SCENES ON THE COAST.
scenery, not less attractive were the prospects
that greeted the wanderer from the shore.
Long lines of cliff stretched far away on either
hand until they vanished in the misty distance;
you could trace them by the edging of white
surf which told where the billows broke, chafing
and foaming, against their rocky base. Here
and there the stately rampart had given way
before the attacks of its restless enemy. In the
hollows thus effected the waters sank into
silence; and, as if satisfied with the victory they
had achieved, contented themselves with gently
kissing the smooth surface of yellow sand. At
other points the earth had seemed anxious to
curb the violence of its mighty antagonist, or at
least to break its force, by throwing out rocky
promontories and isolated crags, over which,
at high tide, the waves kept a ceaseless eddying
and whirling-like tigers quarrelling over their
prey-but whose sides at low water stood bare
and naked in the sun, except for the drapery
of seaweed dependent from them, and partly
concealing the scars and wounds they had
Bounded only by the remote horizon-beyond
THE CHANGEFUL SEA.
and about all this-extended the grand, ever
new, ever old, and all-powerful ocean:-
The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
Its hopes, rs;
Its voice mysterious, which w oso hears
Must think on what will be, an, what has been."
I sometimes think that if we had never any-
thing else to gaze upon but this same mysterious
ocean, we would never weary. There is not.
sameness in its aspect, no monotony; like the
human face, it changes every moment from
grave to gay, from gentle to severe. It seems
so unimpressible, so massive, so immutable;
yet do but look, and you shall see it affected by
the mere influence of a passing cloud. A ray
of sunshine lights it up with an exultant smile;
a breath of wind so stirs up its waves that they
frolic in their glee, like young kids upon the
mountain; the hurricane comes, and convulses
it with wrath and terror; the summer noon
beams upon it, and lo, it subsides into a slumber
soft as that of infancy Now it shines like one
vast sapphire, transparently and intensely blue;
now it has the green glow of an emerald,
streaked here and there with strange purple
shades. At sunrise a pearly mist floats over it
A WORD WITH A MEANING.
like a veil; at sunset it welters in blood-red and
gold. Never the same; always, always changing.
And with such a singular sympathy between it
and the sky, that it incessantly reflects the
latter's moods, and is bright or dull, serene or
disturbed, even as is its celestial sister.
Then consider what a world of romance and
mystery-of hopes and fears "-of human
endurance, suffering, and triumph-is associated
with it. The sea!-oh, the deep significance
of that word It means battle and wreck, and
the cries of the drowning, and the sleep of the
drowned; and the rejoicing of strong men, from
the day when the bold seamen of the Argo first
put forth upon it to the present time, when
its ways are crowded with men's argosies. It
means the sorrow of the widowed wife, and the
long agony of Rachel yearning for her children,
and the sickening desire of the heart for the loved
and lost. It means the triumph of human
valour, of human patience, and human genius
in the stately ship that goes careering over the
waters, like a thing of life," to its destined
port, with its white wings bravely filled by the
blessed airs of heaven. It is sad to think of
STORM AND WRECKA
the poor storm-beaten vessel, with canvas rent and
masts shattered, tossing to and fro at the mercy of
the billows; it is sad to realize some such pain-
ful scene as the poet has so finely painted:-
Our sea-breached vessel can no longer brave
The floods that o'er her burst in dread career;
The labouring hull already seems half-filled
With water, through an hundred leaks distilled;
Thus drenched by every wave, her riven deck,
Stript and defenceless, floats a naked wreck;
At every pitch the overwhelming billows bend
Beneath their load the quivering bowsprit's end:
TWO SIDES TO A PICTURE.
At either pump our seamen pant for breath,
In dire dismay, anticipating death;
Still all our powers the increasing leaks defy,
We sink at sea, no shore, no haven nigh."
It is sad, in truth, to think of all the misery and
despair this gloomy picture foreshadows; but
oh, it is noble to think of the gallant lifeboat,
~-----~ '-, -N-~
manned by hero-hearts, and driven by hero-
arms through the angry flood and the tempestu-
ous night, to the rescue of the sinking seamen !
20 LIGHT AND SHADOW
It is sad to think of a Birkenhead going down
-down-down in the waste of waters, with its
precious freight of living souls of valour,
love, and hope, and faith; of a Royal Charter,
hurled upon perilous rocks in sight of home;
of many a good ship so swallowed up by the
remorseless sea that the eye of man has never
lighted upon their traces; but it is glorious to
think of a Columbus, steadfastly guiding his
bark over the unknown ocean-in search of a New
World; of a Cook, revealing to human know-
ledge the palm-fringed coral isles that stud the
surface of the Pacific; of a Ross and a Parry
and a Franklin, braving the towering iceberg
and the crashing icefloe in their persistent
efforts to unlock the secrets of the Pole; of a
Sir Humphrey Gilbert, tempest-tossed in his
little pinnace, and facing death with unquailing
spirit, for Courage! said he; we are as
nigh to heaven on the sea as on the land." If
ocean has its bitter memories, surely also it has
its associations of joy and triumph; and men
have more reason to welcome it as a friend
than to dread it as a foe.
But I have left Walter and his cousin all this
SOMETHING TO SEE.
time-while the reader and I have been dream-
ing dreams- on the Oldport pier. They have
not been unamused. A small steamer has put
in from some distant port; fishing-boats have
been depositing the rich spoils collected in the
preceding night; others have put forth again,
and outside the harbour have dropped their heavy
nets; .a gay wherry or two, with its load of
" visitors," has rowed away to view the wonders
of the coast; bare-legged boys have been
wading in the sunlit waters, filling the air with
shouts of merriment ; and on a strip of sand, to
the right of the pier, the quaint, ugly, but useful
bathing-machines have been carrying up and
down their laughing patrons. Walter and his
cousin have found much to see and much to
talk about. To an observant eye the dullest
scene will present some feature of interest.
There are men and boys who would see nothing
in a tropical forest or the Bay of Naples; others
would be absorbed and enraptured among the
sands of Sahara. It all depends upon whether
we have cultivated the habit of seeing. The
eye must be educated, like the hand. And the
sight of many persons is so indifferent that no
EDEN BY THE SEA.
spectacles ever provided by author or artist will
enable them to see!
Contented at last with the bright scene of
the pier and harbour, Arthur led his young
cousin down a flight of steps, and proposed a
stroll along the beach. It was a glorious
morning: the sun shone brightly; the sky was
dappled with fleecy clouds which made its
breadths of blue seem bluer still,-
Darkly, deeply, beautifully blue;"
the air was warm and summery, but prevented
from being oppressive or enervating by the fresh
vigorous breeze which came inland, loaded with the
breath of ocean, and, therefore, our two young
friends felt as if walking among the glades of
Paradise-which, indeed, we all might do, if
our hearts were pure, our consciences clean, and
our souls filled with a true sense of the good-
ness and grace of God. I cannot record the
whole of the happy conversation which passed
between them. There was no lack of objects
to delight and interest, to suggest remark and
anecdote. And Arthur, drawing upon his stores
of information, poured into his young cousin's
ear a continuous stream of pleasant talk.
A CROSS OF HONOUR.
"You were referring to Natural History,
Walter, as a something inconceivably dull,"
said he; let us test the truth or no-truth of
your remark. What have you in your hand?"
Oh, this is a stupid thing-' five-fingers,'
they call it about here-a kind of star-fish, you
know; I don't see anything in it either pretty
"Nothing pretty!" ex-
claimed Arthur; "why,
observe its exquisite
shape; it reminds you
of the French cross of
honour, with its five
rays; it is as perfect as
if designed by a mathe-
matician. Its colour,
too-a pale, reddish
yellow, lighter on the under surface-is surely
beautiful. I must tell you, however, that the
colours of the star-fish are very various; some
are of a yellow gray, others of a ruby red, and
others again of a dark violet. And, besides,
some of the species have more than five arms,
though these are seldom found on our English
24 EVERY ONE HAS HIS BURDEN.
"What! are there star-fishes in foreign
Oh yes; you will find them in almost every
sea, north, and south, and east, and west; but
the most beautiful kinds inhabit the warm tropi-
cal waters. They are generally found at moderate
depths, but not a few species descend as low as
a hundred and fifty fathoms."
A fathom ?-let me see; how many feet
make a fathom?"
Six; and a hundred and fifty fathoms are
equal to nine hundred feet, or thrice the height
of yonder cliffs, so that you may fancy what a
weight of water these seemingly slight and feeble
creatures have constantly to endure."
How does the star-fish move ?" said Walter;
"I have been watching one in this pool of
water for some minutes."
You mean two or three," interposed Arthur.
Well, two or three; and it seems to me
quite incapable of going either up or down,
backwards or forwards."
"In the first place, the rays or arms-
whichever you like to call them-are movable,
and can be used to assist the animal's progress;
FACTS ABOUT FEET.
in the second, it is far better provided with feet
than you or I."
"Feet feet! FEET !" shouted Walter, with a
stare of incredulity, and a loud whistle; "come,
Arthur, don't make fun of me."
Not I, indeed. Let us turn this gentleman
softly on his back.-Stranger from the deep
ocean-waters, be assured we have no wish to
injure you; we recognize the fact that you,
like ourselves, were made by a divine hand.-
There, he is lying comfortably on a bed of sea-
weed. Now, if you look closely, you will see
along each ray a row of ambulacra, as they are
"Am-bu-la-cra! That's Latin, and means
something connected with walking."
Some kinds of star-fish have two rows on
each ray, and some two double rows. These
ambulacra, or feet, are really small fleshy tubes,
which thrust themselves through the animal's
skin, or shell, the tube being closed at the ex-
tremity, and terminating in a sucker, usually in
the form of a plate slightly sunken or depressed
in the centre. To each tube, inside the animal,
is attached a vesicle, or bladder, full of fluid;
AN ODD STYLE OF WALKING.
and when the star-fish wishes to move it con-
tracts this vesicle, and by so doing forces the
fluid into the tube-just as by squeezing a
bladder you can fill any pipe that may be
fastened to it. The tube is then expanded and
lengthened out; but by means of its muscular
fibres or threads it again contracts and shrinks
itself up; and by alternately repeating these move-
ments in all its feet, the animal advances. Of
course its progress is very slow, but it is also
very regular. If it meets with any impediment,
such as a stone, it lifts one of its arms until it
finds a point to cling to, then a second, and
perhaps a third-just as by means of your hands
and feet, putting forward first your left, and
then your right, you climb up a wall or a rock."
That is very wonderful," said Walter, re-
See, our gentleman stranger here is on the
move! He is tired of lying on his back. Do
you observe how he thrusts forth his feet, and en-
larges and retracts them-just like a blind man
trying to feel his way ? Now he has got hold
of the side of the rock. Look, he has turned
himself over There goes one ray, now another,
MOUTH AND STOMACH.
now a third. Let us wish our friend a pleasant
voyage round his pool, where he will stay, if he
is wise, until the tide comes in."
"If he can walk," observed Walter, after a
moment's pause, "I don't see how he can eat."
He can eat and digest as well as you can."
"Why, I am sure he has no mouth!"
"Look at the dead one in my hand. Stay,
here's a magnifying glass, which will enable you
to see more clearly. Now turn it on its
back, and in the centre of the disc, or. body, you
will note a kind of a rough fibrous circular
space, with a small opening in the middle.
That is the animal's mouth, which, in some
species, is furnished with teeth, or what serve
for teeth. The mouth opens into the stomach,
which resembles a pouch or bag, and is divided
into a couple of cells. In the one the food is
transformed into a kind of paste before passing
into the upper cell, which, by means of hollow
pipes or tubes, communicates with the animal's
rays; so that the very organs which assist it in its
locomotion also assist it in its digestive processes."
Who would have thought there was so
much that is wonderful in a common-looking
HOW TO EAT AN OYSTER.
object like this star-fish! But what does it
feed upon ?"
All kinds of dead flesh, shell-fish, and even
Here Walter indulged in another whistle, put
his hands in his pockets, shook his head, and
looked the very picture of self-satisfied scepti-
"You seem inclined to doubt me, Walter,
but I am only telling you what our greatest
naturalists believe. And this is the way, ac-
cording to Professor Rymer Jones, in which the
star-fish sets to work: it seizes the oyster with
its long arms, and by means of its suckers holds
it right under its mouth'; then it inverts its
stomach, and engulfs the oyster in its loose
folds, like a boy with his head in a sack; at
the same time it drops a poisonous liquid on the
edges of its victim's shell, which forces it to open;
key presto !-one gulp-and the oyster is gone!"
Whew !" cried Walter; so the star-fish
opens an oyster without an oyster-knife!"
The very remark made by a modern French
writer," said Arthur. "But I have not told
you half the wonders connected with, or ex-
SOMETHING LIKE A CURIOSITY.
hibited by, this curious little animal. For in-
stance, if deprived of any one of its limbs, it
possesses the power of replacing it-of creating
a new limb. Never mind if it does lose an arm
-a very common occurrence with a creature
which the sea pitilessly dashes on the roughest
rocks-it can immediately procure another, and
not a wooden one. But more marvellous still,
the star-fish frequently commits suicide."
Suicide! kills itself! oh! oh!"
I mean what I say. The star-fish-or,
more correctly speaking, two genera of it, called
the Ophrocoma and Luidia-"
Stop, Arthur; let me repeat those names.
Opher-no-Ophro-coma and Luidia. I will
try to remember them."
"These genera possess the power of self-
destruction, which they invariably exercise in
their moods of terror or despair. If seized by
the naturalist or fisherman, they break them-
selves up into small pieces, so that if you would
preserve them, the only way is to kill them
suddenly, by plunging them, the moment they
are drawn from the sea, into a vessel of cold
fresh water. I remember that Professor Forbes
A SUICIDAL STAR-FISI.
gives an interesting account of his capture of
one of these suicidal curiosities. He was then
unaware of its self-destroying powers, and,
therefore, spread it out in his boat to admire its
form and colours. What was his horror, when
he went to remove it for preservation, to find it
dissolved into fragments! Next time our pro-
fessor resolved not to be cheated, and carried
with him a bucket of fresh water. Having
brought up in his dredge a Luidia, the moment
it reached the surface of the sea he carefully
and anxiously plunged his bucket to a level
with the dredge's mouth, and softly slipped the
Luidia into the fresh water. Whether the cold
was too much for it, or the appearance of the
bucket too terrible, cannot be said; but in a
moment it began to melt, and its limbs escaped
through every mesh of the net. So that, you
see, dear Walter,
'There are more things in heaven and earth,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' "
"Well," said Walter, musingly, I must own
that there are more things in natural history
than I dreamt of. But now let us go ahead,
Arthur: we shall have time to reach Foulness
TALK ABOUT FISHERS.
Point. I wonder what that fisherman is
carrying. What a quaint 'dress isn't it,
Quaint, but picturesque; it composes well,
as artists say, in a
picture. Our fisher-
men are a fine hardy
race, Walter, endur-
ing privation with
silent patience, and
calmly confronting .
the wildest perils. t -
They are a peculiar
race, too, with man- FISHERMAN.
ners and customs of their own; somewhat
rough in outward appearance, but with hearts
as tender as a woman's. I never weary of
conversing with them."
I think I should like to go shark-fishing,"
Simply," replied his cousin, "because you
don't know anything about it. What kind of
shark-fishing would you like? Would you
imitate the African negroes, who plunge fear-
lessly into the water, closely watching the
32 TWO MODES OF SHARK-CATCHING.
monster's movements, and taking good care to
keep ever above him? For his mouth being
placed in the lower part of his head, he is forced
to turn himself round before he can seize any
object which is on a higher level. The negro
waits till the monster makes this turn, and then
rips up his belly with a sharp knife."
"No, no, Arthur; that would not suit me
It is true there is an easier mode; but I
don't think it is very interesting. On a dark
night a large hook is baited with a piece of lard
or flesh, and a long and stout chain being at-
tached to it, is flung overboard. Up comes the
shark, looks at it suspiciously, feels all around
it, sniffs at it, mistrusts it, and retires; but his
appetite is too voracious for his prudence; after
much coquetting, he pounces on the bait, and
swallows it ravenously. Then he tries to sink
in the water, but as the chain checks him, he
struggles and plunges about until he grows ex-
hausted, whereupon the chain is drawn up so as
to raise his head above the surface. A cable
is then thrown out with a running loop or knot,
and dexterously twisted around the upper part
THE DESTROYER DESTROYED.
of his tail. No more remains to be done but
to hoist him on deck, and despatch him with
axe or harpoon."
-:: :i- i .
"Well, there would be some pleasure," re-
marked Walter, "in seeing the end of such a
horrid monster. I hate sharks! I can't bear
to read of their following our ships until some
poor seaman is flung overboard, and his dead
body drops into their ravenous jaws. And then,
perhaps, when an unsuspecting sailor is bathing,
one of these huge beasts will shoot through the
quivering waters, and suddenly pounce upon
WORK THAT IS NOT PLA Y
him Crash go his horrible teeth, and the sea,
in a moment, is red with blood."
"The shark," observed Arthur Vernon, "is
the dread of the pearl-fishers, lying in wait for
them until they descend in quest of their
plunder, then suddenly darting upon their un-
happy victims. He is, indeed, a fierce and terrible
creature, but, fortunately, he knows not his own
"You speak of the pearl-fishers: how do
they carry on their dangerous trade?"
"In different parts of the world the pearl-
fishery is differently conducted. In the Gulf of
Manaar-a gulf on the north-east coast of the
island of Ceylon-the boats go out at daybreak,
each manned by twenty Singalese and a negro.
The rowers are ten in number; the other ten
are divers. The latter divide themselves into
two groups of five men each, who take alternate
spells of rest and toil. They descend from
forty to fifty, and even seventy feet, and remain
for a period-of thirty seconds."
"Only thirty seconds, or half a minute!
Why, Arthur, I could keep my head under
water as long as that!"
1HOW THE DIVER DESCENDS.
"You forget the depth, Walter. If you just
dip your head into the sea, you have no pressure
to endure; but at seventy feet the weight is
tremendous, almost crushing in the brain, and
sometimes forcing the blood into the nose, eyes,
and ears. You must also remember that the
diver will repeat the operation ten or fifteen
times in five or six hours."
What do these Singalese divers wear? A
diving-dress, or helmet, like the man whom I
saw at the Polytechnic Institution in London ?"
"No, indeed, or they could remain longer
than thirty seconds. They are perfectly naked,
except a small belt of calico around their loins.
In order to assist their descent, a large stone is
attached to a rope; this stone weighs about
fifty pounds, while the cord sustaining it fre-
quently carries near its lower extremity a sort
of stirrup to receive the diver's foot. When
lowered from the boat, he places his right foot
in this stirrup; in his left he holds the net
which is intended to receive the oysters; then,
grasping in his right hand a signal-cord to com-
municate with his comrades, and pressing his
nostrils with his left, he dives down, down-
36 WHAT IS A PEARL?
the cold green waters closing in around him
like a pall."
"But what is a pearl ?" inquired Walter; "I
think I have read that it is caused by a disease
of the oyster."
THE QUESTION ANSWERED.
Such is the general opinion. It seems to
be the result of the animal's secretion, produced
very frequently, if not always, by the pressure of
some small foreign body in the centre-such as a
grain of sand, the egg of a fish, or a rounded
animalcule. The pearl at first is very small;
but it increases annually, its lustre and colour
depending on the nature of the substance which
lines the shell-that white, glossy, flaky, radiant
substance known as nacre, or mother-of-pearl."
Are there any pearl-oysters found on the
English coast ?"
"None of any importance. The principal
localities are the Persian Gulf, on the Arabian
coast, in Japan, in the American seas, on the
shores of California, in the Bay of Bengal, and,
especially, in the Indian Ocean. But, Walter,
while talking we have been walking, and I have
forgotten that I have letters to write for the next
post. Let us retrace our steps, my boy, as
quickly as may be, and to-morrow we will have
another dip into natural history. So now for
SALTER and his cousin might have
S been seen, the next morning, perched
on a ledge of rocks which jutted out
from the shore, and engaged in the
somewhat monotonous occupation of dropping
pebbles into the water. Suddenly Arthur rose
to his feet, and flinging abroad his arms with
an oratorical air, began to recite, in a clear loud
voice, Barry Cornwall's well-known address to
0 thou vast ocean! ever-sounding sea!
Thou symbol of a drear immensity!
Thou thing that windest round the solid world
Like a huge animal, which, downward hurled
From the black clouds, lies weltering and alone,
Lashing and writhing till its strength be gone.'
"It does not lash and writhe now," said
Arthur, "but dimples into smiles like the smooth
cheek of a happy infant. But last Tuesday
week, when a north-easter blew so furiously,
AN ADDRESS TO THE SEA.
one would have owned the truth of the poet's
'Thy voice is like the thunder; and thy sleep
Is as a giant's slumber, calm and deep.'
It is asleep now, Walter; and you can hear
it murmuring in its dreams:-
'Thou speakest in the east and in the west
At once; and on thy heavily laden breast
Fleets come and go, and shapes that have no life
Or motion, yet are moved and meet in strife.
Oh, wonderful thou art, great element!
And fearful in thy spleeny humours bent,
And lovely in repose; thy summer form
Is it not, Walter? Just look around you,
and say :-
'Is beautiful; and when thy silver waves
Make music in earth's dark and winding caves,
I love to wander on thy pebbly beach,
Marking the sunlight at the morning hour,
And hearken to the thoughts thy waters teach-
Eternity-eternity-and power.' "
"Noble lines! exclaimed Walter. Oh,
is it not jolly to sit here on the rocks, with the
blue waters rippling gently beneath our feet,
while you repeat such splendid verses? "
The sea-shore is the place for poetry,
Walter. If you want to enjoy a great poem,
bring it down here, and read it to the music of
40 RECITING CHILDE HAROLD."
the waves. But come, youngster, it is your
I don't remember anything suitable, except
'A wet sheet and a flowing sea.' "
Which isn't suitable," remarked Arthur;
" for we are not on board ship, and there is not
a breath of wind to fill our sails if we were.
You were learning, a day or two ago, Byron's
stanzas in Childe Harold:' I don't think you
will have forgotten them, for you are fond of
poetry, and have a pretty good memory."
Oh no; I remember them-at least, I
believe so; but they are very'long."
Then oblige your audience with a specimen.
We will be contented with a verse or two."
Walter accordingly began:-
"'Roll on, thou deep and dark-blue ocean! roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin-his control
Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.
Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed-in breeze, or gale, or storm-
Icing the Pole, or in the torrid clime
A SCENE ON THE SEA-SHORE.
42 A POET'S LOVE OF OCEAN.
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime-
The image of eternity-the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth-dread, fathomless, alone.
And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
I wantoned with thy breakers-they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror-'twas a pleasing fear;
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane-as I do here.' "
"Very well recited, Walter," said Arthur,
clapping his hands. And bravo, Byron! say
I. There may be numerous errors both of taste
and expression in these famous stanzas, yet, as
a whole, how grand and impressive they are!
You seem to hear the roll of the ocean in every
line; you seem to catch an echo of its sublime
music. It is evident that he who wrote them
passionately loved the sea-loved to place his
hand on its mane as on the neck of a favourite
steed. Not like the Latin poets who, when
they spoke of the ocean, always seemed afraid
of it, and to regard it with dislike and suspicion.
When Virgil went on a short voyage, what a
fuss his friend Horace made about it !-calling
A LESSON ON LIMPETS.
on all the gods to watch over the ship, and
bring it back safe to port! In the French
poets you will meet with something of the same
half-revealed apprehension: they own its sub-
limity, but they like it best at a distance."
What are these shells ? interrupted
Walter, as he dug a number of dark-gray little
excrescences from the surface of the rock;
"limpets ? "
There," cried Arthur, laughing, you have
brought me down from the clouds at one 'fell
swoop!' Yes, they are limpets; and that
reminds me I promised you another lesson in
natural history. Let us take these limpets for
the subject of our opening remarks-hem "
"I think we might choose something of
"Not a bit of it. How often am I to tell
you, Walter, that everything God has made is
full of interest? Look at this limpet. Its Latin
or scientific name, by the way, is patella,
meaning a little plate'-to which, however, it
does not bear much resemblance."
No; it is more like a Chinaman's hat, or a
dish-cover, or an expanded umbrella, or-"
HEAD OR TAIL?
"A limpet! exclaimed Arthur; "spare me
your comparisons. Well, its shell is called an
univalve, because it is all in one piece, uniform
and unbroken: an oyster is a bivalve, because
it consists of two portions or valves, joined
together by a hinge. In shape it is oval, non-
spiral, but terminating, as you see, in an elliptic
cone ; that is, the point of the cone is not quite
in the centre of the shell. Its sides are orna-
mented with ridges, which, if you notice, are
arranged in the most perfect order, radiating
from the summit like the spokes of a wheel; its
edges are dentate, or cut up, as it were, into
teeth. The interior is smooth, and brilliantly
"It seems to me," said Walter, who had
been carefully examining one of the patellce,
" that the animal has no head."
Arthur handed his cousin his magnifying-
glass, and bade him inspect it more narrowly.
Oh yes, I see it now," cried Walter; and
it is furnished with a couple of horns-something
like a snail's, only not so large."
True; and at the external base of each, if
you look closely, you will find an eye. The foot
NO DISH FOR A KING.
is a sort of thick fleshy disc or knob, and pro-
vided with a mass of fibres, which it fastens to
the rock, stone, piece of wood, or other object
that affords it a resting-place. Its power of
adhesion is remarkable, and has passed into a
proverb: men speak of 'sticking as close as a
limpet.' I have read that it can sustain
without yielding a force of many pounds'
weight. Try, now, to remove this gentleman
here by my side with your hand. Pull-pull
-pull! No use. Of course you can do it
with your knife, because the blade destroys the
fibres which cling to the rock."
Do people eat limpets ? inquired Walter.
Only, I think, when they can get nothing
else; the flesh is neither very nutritious nor
Oh oh Arthur!" screamed Walter,
suddenly; "something is biting me "
What have you been doing, boy ? Thrust-
ing your hand down into that crevice! Pull it
out, and let me see what ails you. Why, you
have been fishing for crabs without bait, and a
good-sized individual has fastened upon your
hand. Oh, we'll soon get rid of him; never fear! "
AN ARMOUR-CLAD RACE.
With his knife Arthur severed a couple of
the creature's pincers, and released poor Walter
-who was nearly fainting with fright and pain
-from its tenacious grasp. He then jumped
from rock to rock until he found a clear pool
of water, in which he dipped his handkerchief,
and quickly returning, he bathed his cousin's face
and hands until he was completely restored.
What a horrid monster!" exclaimed the
poor boy. "I should not have cared, however,
if I had known what it was."
Let us avenge ourselves by making it
serve as the text for our next lesson in natural
history. Tie this piece of string to its hinder
claw, and then you can keep your enemy con-
stantly in sight.
Crabs and lobsters, shrimps and prawns, all
belong to the family of CRUSTAcEANs-so called
because clothed in a kind of armour, hard and
strong, in some cases bristling with spines, and
often almost impenetrable. Nearly all of them,
too, are provided with formidable weapons of
attack and defence, in the shape of strong stout
claws, which, as you can prove from experience,
are by no means agreeable to encounter.
Most of the crustaceans frequent the sea-
shore, living among the rocks, or hiding them-
selves under the sand; a few, however, inhabit
the 'deep, deep sea.'
"A remarkable peculiarity of these hard-
shelled animals is, that at certain regular
periods they voluntarily throw off their coats of
armour. I daresay you have often noticed the
empty shells cast up by the influx of the tide."
Of course I have, and wondered what all
those empty shells could mean, and whether
they were the result of some wholesale massacre
"Not so; it is a provision of Nature to
admit of the creature's growth. This solid
calcareous shell is incapable of enlargement, and
therefore it is moulted, or thrown off, at certain
fixed periods. The crab then remains for
awhile in a perfectly defenceless condition, and
frequently falls a victim to other and more
fortunate crabs, or to the various kinds of fish
which prey upon the crustaceans. But, sensible
of its weakness, it hides itself, if it can, in some
obscure recess, until a new coat has been
secreted, suitable to its enlarged proportions.
AN ABYSSINIAN CUSTOM.
Then it issues forth again to lead its little life
of battle and carnage."
You say battle:' do they fight one
Ay; in this respect they resemble human-
kind. They struggle in fierce contention like
deadly enemies, and do not desist until one or
other of the combatants has lost a tail, a foot, or
a claw. This, however, is no great punishment;
for, like the star-fish, the crustacean can replace
its mutilated members: they reappear, in a
perfect condition, after a few months' repose."
"That is really wonderful! "
I have read," added Arthur, that on the
Spanish coast flourishes a species of crab whose
claw is considered admirable eating. So the
fishermen, after catching the unfortunate animal,
cut off this dainty and return the crab to the
sea-perhaps to catch it again when the limb
"That reminds me," observed Walter, of
an Abyssinian custom. When an Abyssinian
peasant goes on a long journey he drives a
bullock before him, cuts a steak from its back
or sides when he needs it, and leaves the wound
1HOW CRABS EA T MUSSELS.
to heal as best it may. 'Cut, and come again,'
seems to be a favourite motto in Abyssinia."
"Did you ever see a crab eat a mussel?
No? Well, it is curious to watch the crusta-
cean's ingenuity. It keeps the two valves
apart with one of its claws, while with the other
it scoops out the fish, carrying morsel after
morsel to its mouth very rapidly, and evidently
with much enjoyment. Some kinds of crabs
prey upon oysters. They wait until the bivalve
opens its mouth to receive its food or absorb the
rays of the sun, and then they slip in a stone,
which prevents it from reclosing its valves.
Of course, the imprudent mollusc is completely
at their mercy."
Who would have thought that a creature
apparently so stolid and senseless would possess
an instinct so remarkable?"
A very singular anecdote is related by
Professor Rymer Jones," continued Arthur.
" He says that on one occasion he had intro-
duced into his aquarium six crabs of different
sizes. One of them, sidling forward to explore
its new home, was encountered by another of
somewhat larger proportions, which seized upon
50 THE HERMIT CRAB.
it with its claws, broke open its shell, dug its
pincers into its flesh, and commenced a luxurious
banquet. Then came upon the. scene a third
and still stronger crab, which pounced upon the
epicure just as it had pounced upon its weaker
brother, pierced into its vitals in exactly the
same manner, and gorged itself with the living
food. Yet, curious to say, the victim never
ceased from its repast for a moment, but con-
tinued to devour the first crab bit by bit, until
it was itself literally torn to pieces by its
One can hardly believe such a thing to be
possible. But don't some kinds of crabs take
possession of shells that are not theirs ? "
"You are thinking of the Hermit or Soldier
crab (Pagurus Bernhardus), perhaps the most
curious and interesting of all the crustaceans.
It happens that the hermit crab, like some of
our ships of war, is merely half-plated, having
only its head and breast protected, while the rest
of its body is exposed in a soft and yielding
skin. Its instinct, therefore, induces it to look
out for a suitable asylum-a shell as much like
what its own should be as possible. If it finds
hOOKING FOR A HZOUS. 51
one empty, so much the better; if not, he kills
the original inhabitant, and takes possession by
right of force; living alone in his newly-
acquired mansion until he becomes too big for
it, and is compelled to set out in search of a new
one. At ebb of tide you may watch him in his
leisurely progress, turning and re-turning shell
after shell, and even trying them, till he finds one to
suit him-just as a man might try hat after hat
before he felt quite comfortable. He is a very
timid or very suspicious hermit, and at the least
noise withdraws into his shell, closing up the en-
trance with his large hairy claws. Yet he is also
very quarrelsome, and it seems almost impossible
for two hermits to meet without fighting, or, at
least, without showing fight. Each extends his
long pincers, and seems to feel about for the
other's vulnerable parts; but sometimes the two
are so well matched that they 'agree to differ,'
and, acknowledging discretion to be the better
part of valour, pass on in peace. Occasionally,
however, they really come to blows. Mr.
Gosse saw a hermit crab attack another of his
kind, who was much more conveniently and
commodiously lodged than himself. He seized
him by the head, dragged him from his shell,
and taking prompt possession of it, left his
victim to expire upon the sand."
Of course lobsters, like crabs, belong to the
crustaceans ?" said Walter.
"Yes; but, as you know, they are much
larger, and of a different shape and colour. In
their habits they are very similar; and, like the
crabs, they cast their shells. It is said that the
young lobster moults-if I may use the ex-
pression-from eight to ten times in the first'
CASTING ITS SHELL.
year of its life, from five to seven times in the
second year, from three to four times in the
third, and two or three times in the fourth: in
the fifth year they are full-grown. There is
little doubt that after this the lobster casts its
shell annually, though no one seems able to
explain how the operation is performed. Some
writers assert that when it has moulted, or
sloughed, the animal retires to a hiding-place,
until it is again in a condition to contend with
its numerous enemies. Others affirm that the
process is one of absorption, since no cast-off
coverings of adult lobsters are ever found. And
others again contend that the shell comes off
piecemeal, as it does in the cray-fish. But the
puzzle is, how does the lobster release the
THE WONDERS OF INSTINCT.
fleshy part of its claws from its defensive
armour? I think we must believe, with the
fishermen, that the animal 'pines,' or 'falls
away,' like an invalid, before it casts its shell,
and hence is enabled to withdraw its members
from it. When a person grows thin through
prolonged illness, his' clothes become 'a world
too wide,' as Shakspeare says, 'for his shrunk
shanks,' and he throws them off with the
greatest ease. This is the case, I imagine, with
To think," exclaimed Walter, that I could
call natural history dull, when it teaches us such
interesting and instructive facts Why, I could
listen to you all day, Arthur!"
And if I talked all day, I would not exhaust
a tithe of the marvels of instinct, ingenuity, and
adaptation of means to end which the naturalist
finds revealed in the very humblest of God's
creatures. You were frightened, I suppose, by
the hard scientific names employed in zoological
classification, which are useful enough in some
respects, but in nowise concern your apprecia-
tion of the wonderful objects they are intended
A TEMPEST GATHERING.
"How splendidly yonder fishing smack is
driving through the waves!" cried Walter;
"look how the white spray curdles about her
"A fine sight," said Arthur, and one which
always inspirits me; fills me with a sense of
energy and power. But I see that a strong
wind is coming up; heavy clouds are gathering
in the west; and the sea-so smooth an hour
ago-is now barred and streaked with lines of
foam. What long rolling waves are pouring
into the bay! And see how they leap and
clamber up the rocks, as if they would rend
them into atoms! Let us bend our steps
homeward, Walter, for if a storm came on we
should catch it here in all its violence."
The two cousins accordingly descended from
their rocky perch, and retraced their steps
towards the town. As the tide was still on the
ebb, they were able to keep along the shore,
and at almost every step Walter found some
object or other on which to found a question for
his willing tutor. It is astonishing how much
information may in this way be afforded and
received; and I often regret that parents should
PREPARING TO MEET THE STORM.
THE WA VED WHELK.
almost entirely neglect a method of interesting
and instructing their children whose efficacy has
been so abundantly demonstrated.
Among other things which attracted atten-
tion was the mollusc popularly known as the
waved whelk (Buccinum undulatum). Its shell
is common enough on every part of our British
shores, and a familiar object on the street
stalls of London. Its voracity is extra-
ordinary; it attacks its neighbours with ap-
parently unresting appetite, piercing through
their shells, and extracting the juices of the fish
within. Its mouth is furnished with a long,
flexible, and movable proboscis, terminating in
a spiny tongue, with which it drills and rasps
THE MERMAID'S PURSE.
a hole in the hard calcareous covering of its
Its shell is about four inches in length, and
of a yellowish-white or pale-brown colour. In
Scotland it is called the buckle.
Arthur also directed his cousin's attention to
a kind of dark-green leathery bag, which might
easily have been mistaken for a piece of seaweed,
doubled, stitched at the side, but left open at
either extremity to admit the sea-water. He
told him it was known as the fairy purse, or the
mermaid's purse, but was, in reality, the egg-
case of some species of ray-fish or skate. About
November, if one of those strange receptacles
be cut open, the young fish may be found in its
interior, fully formed, lying with its tail turned
over its back, and waiting only for a little ad-
ditional strength before it begins its career in
His mind intent upon these curious facts,
Walter bade his cousin good morning, and
hastened to communicate somewhat of his new-
acquired lore to his mother.
eAMMA wants some specimens of sea-
.. weed, Arthur," said his cousin, when
they met on the following morning;
will you kindly help me to gather
"With pleasure, Walter. Let us keep across
to the eastward, beyond Foulness Point, for
among the rocks in that locality grow the very
finest varieties. We must mind the tide, though;
for at high water the billows come tumbling and
swirling up to the very cliff, and unless we
were as nimble as chamois-goats or as monkeys,
and could clamber up a great black wall as steep
as the side of a house, and six times as high,
we should be cut off to a certainty."
.. Cut off? exclaimed Walter ; what! do
vaurlmean we should be drowned ?"
"' Yes ; by the rising tide."
BROTHER AND SISTER.
Walter's face looked blank at this assertion,
and his cousin continued,-
Last summer a narrow escape occurred in
this very neighbourhood. A little girl and her
brother, who had been playing about the shore
in charge of their nurse, strayed away from her
while she was engaged in gossiping with one
of her own class, and wandered all along the
beach as far as Foulness Point. Here they
amused themselves very pleasantly-picking up
shells, gathering sea-weed, and paddling in the
rock-pools-until gradually driven further and
further in towards the cliffs by the advancing
tide. The boy was old enough to perceive, at
last, that they must make an effort to return;
and they got as far as yonder ledge of rocks,
but beyond that their progress was stopped by
the waters, which had gradually crept up to the
very base of the cliff. What were they to do ?
The boy placed his little sister on the highest
crag he could find-just out of reach of the
waves-and seated himself below her; but as
the tide continued to mount, he saw that in a
few minutes they would be overwhelmed. Before
them rose a low wall of rock, up whose steep
THE RISING TIDE.
face it was impossible for them to climb un-
"Oh, poor little creatures! I hope they
were not drowned."
"You shall hear. Both the boy and his
sister began to cry and shout as loudly as
possible, and to wave their handkerchiefs,
though hopeless of attracting any one's atten-
tion on so lonely a part of the coast. The
water still mounted and mounted -- slowly,
slowly, but surely. How cold it was! How
the poor children shuddered when it touched
their feet! They said their prayers, from some
undefinable belief that if man could not hear
them God could and. would, and send their
parents to their rescue. Then they shouted
again, and terror lent their voices so much
strength that the very sea-birds seemed scared
by their cries. At length, when the sea had
risen up to the boy's waist, and all hope might
well have been abandoned, his sister exclaimed,
'Charles, Charles, some one is coming down the
cliff! And so there was: carefully planting
his feet on every tiny projection, and clinging
with firm grasp to every tuft of grass, a brave
A NARROW ESCAPE.
boy, who bad heard their shouts and saw their
danger, adventured the descent to the wave-
washed rocks. He effected it in safety, and
only just in time. Springing forward, he took
the little girl upon his shoulders, and catching
her brother by the hand, he waded through the
waters, reached a higher ledge, and by patience
and care contrived to place him and themselves
in a tolerably secure position, where they waited
until the tide went down. Then he took them
home to their parents, whose alarm and anxiety
had been excessive, and who rewarded the
saviour of their children with befitting liber-
How glad I am they were saved!" cried
Walter. How awful the boy and his sister
must have felt on that lonely rock, with the
waters gradually creeping higher and higher
about them! "
Yes; and their escape," said Arthur, was
really almost miraculous. Well: this anecdote
will show you the necessity of caution in
such a locality ; but the tide, I believe, is
running out, so that we shall be in no danger,
unless we spend more hours upon our task
than will be at all necessary. But here we
At this point the shore may best be described
as a mass of broken rocks, separated from the
cliff by a narrow strip of shining, shelly sand;
rocks of all sizes and shapes, angular and
rounded, great and small; some reared upright
like towers and spires, others lying horizontally,
or propped up against one another; some
thickly matted with tangle and bladder-weed,
others all bare and naked in the sun: here a
narrow creek of sea-water insinuating itself into
the very heart of the rocky chaos; and there a
delicious pool, fringed with lovely plants, sleep-
ing tranquilly in a shady hollow.
Than these rock-pools, these miniature sea-
lakes, these fairy-basins, I can conceive of
nothing more surpassingly beautiful. In their
transparent depths lie all manner of graceful
and radiant things, rendered lovelier still by the
wavy half-delusive medium through which we
view them. If you would see in narrow com-
pass the most impressive manifestations of the
wisdom and power and infinite creative wealth
of Him who made the worlds and set in motion
the universe, go you down to the shore, and
study the teeming basins hollowed in the living
rock. There shall you see strange quaint shells
and animals; little shrubberies of pink coral-
line;" crimson leaves waving like knightly
banners; purple tufts of fibre as soft and sleek
as silken thread; fan-shaped fronds, reflecting a
glow of luminous azure, like that of a tempered
sword-blade ;" and tiny forests of feathery weeds,
like the plumes of kings. There, too, shall you
see, as the poet saw,
Which, like a bud compact,
Their purple cups contract;
And now in open blossom spread,
Stretch, like green anthers, many a seeking head.
And arborets of jointed stone are there,
And plants of fibres fine as silkworm's thread;
Yes, beautiful as mermaid's golden hair
Upon the waves dispread.
Others that, like the broad banana growing,
Raise their long wrinkled leaves of purple hue,
Like streamers wide outflowing."
I can promise you that Walter and his cousin
were wonderfully delighted by these ocean-
gardens, and found in them a source of the
purest and wholesomest enjoyment. Arthur
had so much to tell, and Walter so much to
PRECIOUS THINGS OF THE SHORE. 65
learn! Arthur had to tell, and Walter to learn,
about the Laminarice, with their numerous
branching roots and rugged stems; the Nereo-
cysts, with taper wands, sometimes seventy feet
in length, and terminating in an enormous
bladder, like a club; and the beautiful Chondrus
crspus, or Carrageen moss, which hangs its
purple-brown fringe around the edge of many
a silent pool. Arthur had to tell, and Walter
to learn, how this moss, when boiled, yields a
peculiarly nourishing and delicious jelly, of
great benefit to invalids; and how, on many
parts of the British coast, the graceful feathery
Dulse is stewed and eaten as a vegetable.
Arthur had to tell, and Walter to learn, how to
distinguish the long thick stalks of the larger
species of Tangles, and the olive-coloured
Bladder fucus, or Bladder wrack, whose numer-
ous little air-filled cells explode under the pass-
ing foot like a score of crackers. Arthur also
told his cousin of marvellous weeds floating far
away in warm tropic waters; of the Macrocystis
pyrifera (forgive the "hard name," 0 reader!),
which is five to fifteen hundred feet in length,
and forms so thick a belt that no swimmer,
66 ALL ABOUT SEA-WEEDS.
however bold and skilful, can force a passage
through it. He told him also of the Sargasso
weed-the Fucus natans--which covers a wide
area of the Atlantic Ocean-forty thousand
square miles, at least-and is of a delicate
yellowish-green, with narrow fronds. He told
him also of the Chorda filiense, or whip-lash,
whose numerous threads and slippery filaments
often entangle themselves about the bather and
imperil his safety. He bade him collect, among
his specimens, some long pieces of the ribbon-
like sea-girdle, or sea-hanger (Laminaria digi-
tata), which serves as a tolerable weather-glass
-always growing damp before the approach of
rain. -Then he showed him the Sea-furbelow,
KEEPING ONE'S EYES OPEN.
with its bulbous, tulip-like stem, and its fronds,
which, if spread out, will cover a circle of six-
and-thirty feet. Nor did he forget to remind
him that nearly all kinds of sea-weed contain
the chemical principle called Iodine, which has
been found of so much benefit in many painful
diseases; that some species are edible ; that
others are useful for manure; while others,
again, afford protection to a world of tiny lives.
But there are things still more curious to be
discerned by the keen observant eye. Under
every stone, in every corner, on every bit of
rock, lurk wonders all undreamed of by the
ignorant. Plants and animals of numberless
varieties and widely different characters-from
A MONSTROUS ANIMAL.
the ridiculous to the sublime, from the hideous
to the beautiful-yet all bearing a distinct im-
press of the Divine Intelligence that for its own
mysterious purposes created them. Let me
give you one scene which Walter and his cousin
saw, and let me give it in Mr. Kingsley's
graphic words, premising that similar scenes
are occurring every minute on the "weedy
Turning up yonder stone, we find an animal
as foul and monstrous to the eye as hydra,
gorgon, or chimera dire," and yet so wondrously
fitted to its work, that we must needs endure
for our own instruction to handle and to look
at it. You see it? That black, shiny, knotted
lump among the gravel-small enough to be
taken up in a dessert spoon. Look now, as it
is raised and its coils are drawn out. Three
feet-six-nine, at least, with a capability of
seemingly endless expansion; a shiny tape of
living caoutchouc, some eighth of an inch in
diameter, a dark chocolate-black, with paler
longitudinal lines. Is it alive? It hangs help-
less and motionless-a mere velvet string across
the hand. Ask the neighboring annelids
THE VORACIOUS ANGLER.
(worms) and the fry of the rock fishes, or put
it into a vase at home and see.
It lies motionless, trailing itself among the
gravel; you cannot tell where it begins or ends;
it may be a dead strip of sea-weed, or even a
tarred string. So thinks the little fish who
plays over and over it, till he touches at last
what is too surely a head. In an instant a
bell-shaped sucker mouth has fastened to his
side, and in another instant a concave double
proboscis, like a tapir's, has seized him as your
finger closes round a stick. And now begins
the struggle; but in vain. Our worm is play-
ing his fish with such a "line" as human angler
never handled-a living line, more elastic than
the most delicate fly-rod, which follows every
lunge, shortening and lengthening, slipping and
twining round every piece of gravel and stem
of sea-weed, with a tiring drag such as no High-
land wrist or step could ever bring to bear on
salmon or trout. The victim is tired now; and
slowly, and yet dexterously, his blind assailant
feels and shifts along his side, till he reaches
one end of him; and then the black lips expand,
and slowly and surely the curved proboscis
LATIN FOR "COCKLE."
begins packing him end-foremost down into the
gullet, where he sinks, inch by inch, till the
swelling which marks his place is lost among
the coils, and he is probably macerated to a
pulp long before he has reached the opposite
extremity of his cave of doom. Once safe down,
the black murderer slowly contracts again into
a knotted heap, and lies, like a boa with a stag
inside him, motionless and blest.
Having examined with eager interest these
and other curiosities, and collected an exquisite
bouquet of fuci, and algce, and laminarice, Walter
and his cousin began their retreat from the
shore, as the tide had turned, and with slow
but irresistible advance was marching inland.
Picking up a shell which lay at his feet, Walter
inquired its name.
That," said his cousin, "is a Cardium, or
Cockle. The species are very common along
our British coasts. They are bivalves, with
convex shells, and are called cardiums from
their supposed resemblance to a heart. What
is the Latin for 'heart,' Walter ?"
And the Greek?"
HOW IT BREA THES AND EA TS.
Then you see it is named from the Greek
word for 'heart.' Here is another specimen,
with the fish inside it. Do you see what a
large foot it has, with a sort of bend or instep
obtains its food; for you must remember that the
cockle generally lives three or four inches deep
in the sand, and would die but for these tubes,
which it projects above the surface."
A CURIOUS INCIDENT.
"If they lie interred under the sand, how do
you find them out?"
By the tiny spirts of water which they
eject from these same tubes. The cockle, let
me tell you, is a very remarkable individual,
and his movements, in their gracefulness and
agility, would do credit to any dancing-master.
Sit down here for a minute or two, and I will
read you something about them from a book I
have in my pocket -Mr. Gosse's Aquarium.
He refers to the great cockle, Cardium tubercu-
latum-a cockle with warts or knobs upon its
shell-found chiefly on the warm southern
shore of Devon."
"Read on, Arthur," said Walter, "and I
will listen with all my might."
"Mr. Gosse had deposited some of these
cockles in a dry dish, knowing that they are
not unaccustomed to an occasional exposure to
the air. 'By-and-by,' he says, 'as we were
quietly reading, our attention was attracted to
the table where the dish was placed by a rattling
uproar, as if flint stones were rolling one over
the other about the dish. Oh, look at the cockles!
was the exclamation; and they were, indeed,
SOMETHING TO LOOK AT.
displaying their agility and their beauty, too, in
fine style. The valves of the largest were
gaping to the extent of three-quarters of an
inch; but the intermediate space was filled up
by the spongy-looking fleshy mantle, of a
semi-pellucid orange hue. At one end pro-
truded the siphons-two thick short tubes,
soldered, as it were, into one, and enveloped
on all sides in a shaggy fringe of cirri, or ten-
tacles. The circular orifices of these tubes -
small holes, perfectly round, with a white
border-had a curious appearance, as we looked
at the heart-shaped end of the valves. The
discharging orifices, however, were but rarely
visible, being usually closed, while the others
remained constantly open. But these things
were what we afterwards saw. For some time
we could look at nothing but the magnificent
foot, and the curious manner in which it was
"' The two lips of the mantle '-I am still
reading from Mr. Gosse-' the two lips of the
mantle suddenly separate, and gaping widely
all along the front, recede nearly to the valves;
while at the same moment a huge organ is
A BEAUTIFUL FOOT.
thrust out, somewhat like a tongue, nearly
Cylindrical! exclaimed Walter; oh, that
means shaped like a cylinder-like my lead
pencil, or an engine-boiler !"
"True," said Arthur, laughing at his cousin's
strange comparisons,-"' nearly cylindrical, but
a little flattened, and tapering to a point. Its
surface is smooth, and brilliantly glossy, and
its colour a fine rich scarlet, approaching to
orange; but a better idea of it than can be con-
veyed by any description will be obtained by
supposing it to be made of polished cornelian.
"'This beautiful and versatile foot is suddenly
thrust out sideways, to the distance of four
inches from the shell; then its point being
curved backwards, the animal pushes it strongly
against any opposing object, by the resistance
of which the whole animal, shell and all, makes
a considerable step forwards. If the cockle
were on its native sands, the leaps thus made
would doubtless be more precise in their direc-
tion, and much more effective; but cooped up
with its fellows in a deep dish, all these her-
culean efforts availed only to knock the massive
A CLOUD OF BIRDS.
shells against the sides, or roll them irregularly
over each other.' "
So much for Mr. Cardium," said Walter;
"I shall always look upon him henceforth with a
great deal of respect."
"And now let us hasten home, for the tide
is coming in both fast and furious.' See, it
has already reached the rocky point below the
lighthouse, and with its clashing clanging roar
seems to have startled the sea-birds into action."
"Yes; what a cloud of white and black
wings is hanging about the cliff! What birds
are those, Arthur?"
Gannets, and guillemots, and gulls; you may
distinguish the latter by their snowy pinions.
These birds love to breed on the ledges and
projecting points of the cliff, and men let them-
selves down by ropes to gather their eggs."
I should like to pay a visit to yonder light-
house, Arthur, and see the great lamp which
burns at night with so bright a glow. How
the sailors must rejoice when they come in
view of the well-known flame! But I have
often wondered in what manner they distinguish
one from another."
Why, some are revolving lights-that is,
they turn round once or twice a minute; others
are fixed ; others intermittent ; some are double,
some single; some red, others white; and all
these differences are marked down in the charts
by which the seaman guides his vessel on her
EMOTION AND SONG.
By this time they had clambered over the
rocks, and gained a stretch of smooth, firm,
yellow sand, where the waters no longer came
up with a rush and a roar, but glided over the
sloping beach, like waves of light along a green
hill-side. There was no further fear of being
overtaken by the tide, for the sand curved in-
land to a considerable distance, with a gradual
rise, and even at high water the sea never com-
pletely covered it. Looking out upon the bright
emerald billows, with their ridges of pearly
foam, and rejoicing in the warm glow of the
sunshine that fell all about and around, Arthur
could not subdue his emotion, and burst out
with a verse of Tennyson's beautiful lyric:-
"Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, 0 Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me."
Walter intimated his approval of his cousin's
musical display by clapping his hands; but he
would not allow him to begin another song.
His new-born taste for natural history was so
keen, that no amount of information seemed
able to satisfy it, and every object he saw sug-
gested fresh questions. Arthur was by no
A LECTURE ON MUSSELS.
means indisposed to answer them; and on some
mussel-shells which his cousin picked up he
delivered a lecture that lasted all the way home.
"The mussel," said Arthur-" the mussel, as
you see, is a bivalve, and also-equivalve--that
is', its two shells are both of the same size; it
is. longitudinal, or longer than it is broad; it is
pointed at the base, and is able to attach itself
to any object by means of a byssus, or beard;
and it has a foot, which, from its power of ex-
AWKWARD LOCOMOTION. 79
tending itself, might almost be called a tongue.
It has a heart, and a liver, and a stomach-is,
in fact, very well provided with internal organs;
but on these I need not enlarge.
"At the base of the foot, Walter, lies a
gland which furnishes a kind of gluey matter;
and this gluey matter, or thick liquid, is moulded
into a thread in the groove of the foot. Thread
upon thread forms the byssus, or beard, by which
the mussel clings to its resting-place, and by
which also it moves from one point to another.
For the mussel is luckier than the oyster, and
can change its residence at will. I admit that
its progress is very slow-half an inch, perhaps,
at a time; but then it has not the same need
of rapid movement that man has, and though
slow it is sure. It seems to act upon the old
maxim-' More haste, worse speed.' "
But how does the mussel contrive to move ?
To look at it, you would think," said Walter,
"that a more helpless creature never existed."
"Look at this post. Now, suppose the
mussel has fastened its byssus here; it draws
upon it, as upon a rope, and the shell is dis-
placed, the house is in motion, away goes the
So THE RAZOR-FISH.
mussel! But again it stops, stretches out is
foot, and hooks to the post a fresh hair of its
byssus; then, by withdrawing its foot suddenly,
and hauling on to its thread, it accomplishes
another forward movement. Each time that it
repeats this operation it seems to attach an
additional hair, so that at the close of four-and-
twenty hours it has used several inches of
cordage. As many as a hundred and fifty of
these small threads are found in the byssus of
some kinds of mussels, by whose means they
anchor themselves securely to the rock.
But here we are in sight of home. To-
Oh, stop a moment, Arthur," interrupted
his cousin; do tell me to what kind of fish
this straight thin shell belongs. I declare it
looks uncommonly like an old razor-handle! "
"And for that very reason," replied Arthur,
"it is popularly called the Razor-fish, and some-
times the Sword-fish. Its scientific name is
Solen. Its peculiar shell, which is open at both
extremities, renders it easily recognizable. It
lies buried vertically in the sand, at a short
distance from the shore. Its hole-which
A SLIPPERY CUSTOMER.
after once excavating it never quits-is fre-
quently two yards deep, so that it lies therein
tolerably secure from the attacks of any enemy
But how does it get up to the top of its
hole to breathe, or obtain its food ?"
Why, it has a large conical foot, bulging in
the middle and pointed at its extremity, and by
means of this appendage it easily raises itself to
the entrance of its burrow. On the least alarm
it buries itself with extraordinary rapidity, so
that you might almost as well attempt to catch
an eel with your fingers."
If that is the case, how do the fishermen
catch it ? "
"When the sea retires, they detect the
hiding-place of the solen by a small aperture in
the sand, whence every now and then little
bubbles of air escape. To attract it to the
surface, the fisherman drops into the hole a
pinch of salt; and the moment the animal
presents the point of its shell above the sand, it
finds itself in a grasp from which there is no
I have seen a piece of stone bored all over
A PLEASURE IN KNOWLEDGE.
with little holes. Are these made by a
fish ? "
Yes; by fishes of the genus Pholas, pro-
vided with thin, transparent, equivalve shells,
the fore-part of which is armed with a number
of little stony points, like a steel rasp. The
fish clings to the rock with its foot, and then
turns from side to side, working its rasp, until
it has .made a hole large enough to receive it.
You will frequently find a post that has been for
any length of time under water completely
honeycombed by these wonderful little creatures."
"How much I have yet to learn cried
Walter; "and how interesting it all is! "
Well; let us go on learning and observing,
day after day, since the toil is so admirably
repaid by the pleasure it affords. And now,
my boy, good morning. To-morrow my new
boat will be ready; and if your mamma will
allow of it, we will try her under sail."
Oh, that will be famous Hurrah !
.. 7-_--_- :.-v ;, .
)" W, Walter," said his cousin, as, next
-' day, he took his seat in the stern of
S the boat, with his hand upon the tiller,
and prepared to keep her well "up to
the wind,"-" now, Walter, your favourite song
would be appropriate:-
A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast,
And fills the white and rustling sail,
And bends the gallant mast! '"
It is just a favourite of mine because
mamma says it was a favourite of my father's.
What is 'a wet sheet,' though ? "
I suppose the poet meant the sail wetted
by the spray; or, you know, in certain cases,
sailors wet the canvas purposely, in order that
it may more effectually catch the wind."
"How can that be? "
The water closes up the pores of the sail,
A LOVELY DAY
and renders it more capable of resisting the
passage of the air. Hold up your handkerchief
to the wind. Now dip it into the water, and
hold it up again."
Oh, I see. Its surface is stiffer now, and
the wind seems to blow harder against it.
Well, but is not this jolly ?"
It is, indeed, what you call jolly, but you
must keep your seat, Walter. Never move
about, except when requested by the boatman,
in a small boat under sail. An incautious
movement has upset many a craft, and caused
the death of hundreds. But, as you say, this is
jolly, delightful, magnificent! There is some-
thing very agreeable in swift, easy, and gliding
motion; it carries with it such a sense of power.
And then, too, the day is so lovely! Such a
blue sky-look at it, Walter !-blue as any
sapphire ever dug out of the bowels of the
earth, and yet dappled all over with masses of
vapour which the sunlight converts into snowy
clouds. Is it not wonderful to think that those
fleecy pavilions-those celestial aery palaces--
those snow-white tents of angels-which seem
so exquisitely pure and luminous, are just built
CLOUDS AND VAPOURS. 85
up of the gases and exhalations which are
thrown off the surface of the earth ? Drawn up
by the sun, they congregate in the upper air,
and gather together into strange and beautiful
forms, and are wafted hither and thither by the
winds, until they grow too heavy to be any
longer supported by the atmosphere, and once
more descend to this lower world in the shape
of rain, or mist, or hail, or snow. And having
thus descended, they are again exhaled from earth,
and again drawn up into the firmament; and so
the marvellous exchange goes on-day after
day, night after night-fertilizing, enriching,
and blessing! "
"There is a great white bank of clouds
yonder, Arthur, which looks exactly like a
range of snow-crowned mountains."
And another just above it reminds one of
the plumed helmet of a knight."
And here, nearly over our heads, sprawls a
tremendous dragon, Arthur. Don't you see its
long coiling tail ? "
"Yes; and its huge head, with half-open
jaws. It recalls the lines of our poet Shak-
86 LITTLENESS OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE.
'Sometimes we see a cloud that's dragonish;
A vapour, sometime, like a bear or lion,
A towered citadel, or pendent rock,
A forkMd mountain, or blue promontory,
With trees upon't that nod unto the world,
And mock our eyes with air.'"
Oh, dear me! sighed Walter; how
much, how very much, you know, Arthur. I
wonder whether I shall ever know half as
Unfortunately," replied Arthur, you are
quite mistaken, cousin mine. I know very
little; only just enough to know that I know
nothing. You have heard of the great Sir
Isaac Newton, who made such remarkable dis-
coveries in the world of science ? "
Oh, yes. He found out the law of gravi-
tation, did he not? The law which keeps the
planets in their courses, and us upon our feet."
Well, what think you was said by this truly
great man of all his wonderful achievements?
'I do not know what I may appear to the
world; but to myself I seem to have been only
like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and divert-
ing myself in now and then finding a smoother
pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst
the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
S before me.' Stop, I can give you Newton's
saying in the versified form in which Byron has
'Newton (that proverb of the mind), alas!
Declared, with all his grand discoveries recent,
SThat he himself felt only like a youth
Picking up shells by the great ocean-Truth!" '
Let not that discourage you, however. It is
better to pick up the shells than, like the idle
and ignorant, tread them under foot."
Thanks to you, Arthur, I have picked up
one or two since I have been down at the sea-
side. At least, I know many things which I
did not know before."
"Acquire but one fact every day in the year, and
you will have gained three hundred and sixty-
S five by the end of the twelvemonth. And more
than that, for each single fact is the key to at
least ten other facts. The secret is just this-
never to let an opportunity of acquiring know-
ledge pass by you unheeded. When Luther
was translating the Bible into German, what do
you think was his motto ?"
"I cannot guess, Arthur."
It was short and s t, brief and pithy:
Nulla dies sine lined."
A PICTURESQUE SCENE.
"Nulla dies-oh, that means,' No day without
doing a line.' Capital, capital! "
I believe," added Arthur, "the proverb
arose from the practice of the famous Greek
painter Apelles, never to spend a day without
working at the art in which he acquired so
extraordinary a proficiency. Hold this rope a
minute, Walter; though the wind is fresh we
may venture to let out a little more canvas.
There, that will do."
We are cutting through the water," said
Walter, admiringly, like an eagle through the
Ay; but we shall not go back so fast, for
the wind will be dead against us, and we shall
be forced to tack about-to go from side to side,
I mean-which is always a slow process.
What a romantic part of the coast is this,
Walter! Look at the long line of dark rugged
cliffs, and the shore beneath them dotted with
Yes ; and do you see the old boat turned
upside down on a ridge of stones, so as to form
a kind of hut? What a comical habitation!
I say, Arthur, isn't it nice to dip your hand in
FISHERMEN ON THE BEACH.
A RADIANT VISITOR.
the water as it ripples by ? But what a greasy
feeling it has!
That is due to the animalcules which it con-
tains: every drop of water is a world of life."
Oh, look, look! here is a beautiful creature !
Just like a lump of transparent jelly !"
"That is a Medusa-one of what zoologists
call the Actinia calephia, and fishermen, Sea-
There, I have it-no-I have got it now
-no-it has slipped through my fingers."
"Take the tin can lying under the seat, and
when you see another, pop it underneath, and
draw up water and all. Mind, though, don't
over-balance yourself. And now I think of it,
you had better sit on the other side."
Here comes a gentleman, all over radiant ,
colours! Now, then !-I've got him, Arthur!"
"Very well; sit still while I make a tack tfo
southward. Then we'll bring round the boat,
and bear down for home. All right, Walter.
Now we will have a chat about the Medusae."
"I have frequently found these jelly-looking
substances on the rocks, Arthur, but I never
knew they were living fish."
ALL ABOUT A 7ELL Y-FISI.
are not very at- ".
tractive ; but
when seen float-
ing in their
they wear avery :
Such is the dif-
ference, you see,
between a thing -
in its place and MaEDSA.
a thing out of its place. But because you meet
with them wrecked upon the rocks, you must
not conclude that they are dead. Let me read
to you a passage from an eloquent French
writer: Often, he says, have these poor cast-
aways arrested my attention. They are small,
he continues-scarcely larger than my hand-
but remarkably beautiful, with their soft sub-
dued shades, or opal white. One of these
delicate creatures I found overturned by the
wind, its crown of lilac hair floating upward,
QUOTATION FROM MICHELET.
and its circular disc-like body prostrate under-
neath. The exquisite creature, with its visible
innocence and glowing rainbow-like colours,
was stranded, like a gliding, trembling jelly.
Nevertheless, I paused beside it. I slipped
my hand underneath it, raising the motionless
body with the utmost caution, and restoring it
to its natural position for swimming. On my
placing it in the neighboring water, it sank to
the bottom without giving a sign of life. I
pursued my walk along the shore, but at the
expiration of ten minutes returned to my medusa.
It was undulating beneath the breath of the
wind. It swam to and fro with peculiarly grace-
ful movement, its wavy tresses flying round it
as it swam. By degrees it retired from the
rock, and soon it was far away in the distance."
"Do you always carry a book in your pocket,
"Generally. I am somewhat of a bookworm,
"What is the name of the book you have
just been reading from ?"
"La Mer-'The Sea'-by an eloquent
French writer, named Michelet. A better sea-
1 FLUID ANIMALL.
side book you could not wish for. But I will
put aside my precious little volume, and tell you
some facts about the medusa. In the first
place, I suppose they are the least solid of all
animals; their bodies are, indeed, composed of
little else than water enclosed in a kind of in-
visible net. Hold one in your hand, and the
heat will quickly dissolve it into water. I have
heard that a medusa weighing fifty ounces will
yield only five or six grains of skin. From in-
dividuals of twelve pounds weight, only six to
seven pennyweights of solid matter is procurable.
Fancy a sirloin of beef affording scarcely half
an ounce of substance !"
Are all medusne of this circular shape?"
Yes; and when floating on the surface of
the wave they have therefore been compared
to a bell, an umbrella, or a mushroom. The
latter object they do in truth very closely re-
semble, if we suppose the stool or body of the
mushroom to have been divided into more or
less divergent, twisted, shrivelled, and fringed
lobes, or folds, with the edges delicately cut,
and the whole provided with long thread-like
appendages, descending vertically into the blue
water like the drooping branches of the weeping
"This medusa is of a pale rose. Are they
all alike in colour?"
No ; some
are blue as the
others, red as
Sb vermilion ; not
'i '- a few resem-
I; II ble the violet of
/ I the woods; and
) many seem to
.1 4ir be streaked with
and dyes. Frail
as they are, they
ai.nsA. make long voy-
ages on the surface of the waves. They
move slowly, but unceasingly. Their movement
is effected by alternately contracting and ex-
panding their jelly-like body, which causes a
certain amount of water to be ejected with more
or less force, and so propels them onward in
the opposite direction. In the same manner
A VORACIOUS FEEDER.
they contrive to rise to the surface. To sink,
they have simply to remain quiet; their weight
is of itself sufficient to make them descend.
This twofold operation of expansion and con-
traction resembles the action of breathing in the
human chest, and hence the ancients were in-
duced to give the medusa the quaint name of
"This is very interesting, Arthur. But
surely this lump of radiant jelly is not actually
an animal-has no mouth, for instance?"
It has a mouth, I can assure you; but where
do you think it is placed? In the middle of
"And what does it feed upon ?"
On small shell-fish, sea-worms, molluscs.
It is very voracious, and swallows its victim at
a' mouthful, without taking the trouble to
divide it. If the victim offers any resist-
ance, the medusa simply holds on until it
has completely exhausted itself by its fruitless
"I think you used another name than medusae
for these strange animals-acal, acal-"
Acalephce, or Sea-nettles."
NETTLES AND STIVGS.
Sea-nettles what a curious term Nettles
"And so do these medusae, if you come in
contact with them. And the pain which the
larger individuals cause is described as very
severe. Some of them are of considerable
dimensions-upwards of a yard in diameter!
There is a medusa found on our coast in warm
calm weather called the Plizostoma Aldrovandi
-excuse the hard names, Walter-which, if it
touches a bather or a fisherman, inflames the
skin and raises it up in scarlet pustules.-Halloa!
here is a piece of timber floating by! Let me
get hold of it."
In a minute Arthur had hauled it into the
boat, where he let it lie at the bottom. But
Walter could not rest satisfied until he had
given it a thorough overhaul, in the course of
which he discovered what is called a Sea-urchin
clinging to it. This afforded the two cousins
another subject of conversation, and pleasantly
occupied them during their repeated tacks; a
mode of progression which to a landsman is
always very wearisome.
The sea-urchin, or sea-hedgehog (Echinus)