Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Glaucus; or The Wonders of the Shore by Charles Kingsley

Part 1 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Glaucus; or The Wonders of the Shore by Charles Kingsley
Scanned and proofed by David Price

Glaucus; or The Wonders of the Shore



I CANNOT forego the pleasure of dedicating this little book to you;
excepting of course the opening exhortation (needless enough in
your case) to those who have not yet discovered the value of
Natural History. Accept it as a memorial of pleasant hours spent
by us already, and as an earnest, I trust, of pleasant hours to be
spent hereafter (perhaps, too, beyond this life in the nobler world
to come), in examining together the works of our Father in heaven.

Your grateful and faithful brother-in-law,



APRIL 24. 1855.


You are going down, perhaps, by railway, to pass your usual six
weeks at some watering-place along the coast, and as you roll along
think more than once, and that not over-cheerfully, of what you
shall do when you get there. You are half-tired, half-ashamed, of
making one more in the ignoble army of idlers, who saunter about
the cliffs, and sands, and quays; to whom every wharf is but a
"wharf of Lethe," by which they rot "dull as the oozy weed." You
foreknow your doom by sad experience. A great deal of dressing, a
lounge in the club-room, a stare out of the window with the
telescope, an attempt to take a bad sketch, a walk up one parade
and down another, interminable reading of the silliest of novels,
over which you fall asleep on a bench in the sun, and probably have
your umbrella stolen; a purposeless fine-weather sail in a yacht,
accompanied by many ineffectual attempts to catch a mackerel, and
the consumption of many cigars; while your boys deafen your ears,
and endanger your personal safety, by blazing away at innocent
gulls and willocks, who go off to die slowly; a sport which you
feel to be wanton, and cowardly, and cruel, and yet cannot find in
your heart to stop, because "the lads have nothing else to do, and
at all events it keeps them out of the billiard-room;" and after
all, and worst of all, at night a soulless RECHAUFFE of third-rate
London frivolity: this is the life-in-death in which thousands
spend the golden weeks of summer, and in which you confess with a
sigh that you are going to spend them.

Now I will not be so rude as to apply to you the old hymn-distich
about one who

" - finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do:"

but does it not seem to you, that there must surely be many a thing
worth looking at earnestly, and thinking over earnestly, in a world
like this, about the making of the least part whereof God has
employed ages and ages, further back than wisdom can guess or
imagination picture, and upholds that least part every moment by
laws and forces so complex and so wonderful, that science, when it
tries to fathom them, can only learn how little it can learn? And
does it not seem to you that six weeks' rest, free from the cares
of town business and the whirlwind of town pleasure, could not be
better spent than in examining those wonders a little, instead of
wandering up and down like the many, still wrapt up each in his
little world of vanity and self-interest, unconscious of what and
where they really are, as they gaze lazily around at earth and sea
and sky, and have

"No speculation in those eyes
Which they do glare withal"?

Why not, then, try to discover a few of the Wonders of the Shore?
For wonders there are there around you at every step, stranger than
ever opium-eater dreamed, and yet to be seen at no greater expense
than a very little time and trouble.

Perhaps you smile, in answer, at the notion of becoming a
"Naturalist:" and yet you cannot deny that there must be a
fascination in the study of Natural History, though what it is is
as yet unknown to you. Your daughters, perhaps, have been seized
with the prevailing "Pteridomania," and are collecting and buying
ferns, with Ward's cases wherein to keep them (for which you have
to pay), and wrangling over unpronounceable names of species (which
seem to he different in each new Fern-book that they buy), till the
Pteridomania seems to you somewhat of a bore: and yet you cannot
deny that they find an enjoyment in it, and are more active, more
cheerful, more self-forgetful over it, than they would have been
over novels and gossip, crochet and Berlin-wool. At least you will
confess that the abomination of "Fancy-work" - that standing cloak
for dreamy idleness (not to mention the injury which it does to
poor starving needlewomen) - has all but vanished from your
drawing-room since the "Lady-ferns" and "Venus's hair" appeared;
and that you could not help yourself looking now and then at the
said "Venus's hair," and agreeing that Nature's real beauties were
somewhat superior to the ghastly woollen caricatures which they had

You cannot deny, I say, that there is a fascination in this same
Natural History. For do not you, the London merchant, recollect
how but last summer your douce and portly head-clerk was seized by
two keepers in the act of wandering in Epping Forest at dead of
night, with a dark lantern, a jar of strange sweet compound, and
innumerable pocketfuls of pill-boxes; and found it very difficult
to make either his captors or you believe that he was neither going
to burn wheat-ricks, nor poison pheasants, but was simply "sugaring
the trees for moths," as a blameless entomologist? And when, in
self-justification, he took you to his house in Islington, and
showed you the glazed and corked drawers full of delicate insects,
which had evidently cost him in the collecting the spare hours of
many busy years, and many a pound, too, out of his small salary,
were you not a little puzzled to make out what spell there could be
in those "useless" moths, to draw out of his warm bed, twenty miles
down the Eastern Counties Railway, and into the damp forest like a
deer-stealer, a sober white-headed Tim Linkinwater like him, your
very best man of business, given to the reading of Scotch political
economy, and gifted with peculiarly clear notions on the currency

It is puzzling, truly. I shall be very glad if these pages help
you somewhat toward solving the puzzle.

We shall agree at least that the study of Natural History has
become now-a-days an honourable one. A Cromarty stonemason was
till lately - God rest his noble soul! - the most important man in
the City of Edinburgh, by dint of a work on fossil fishes; and the
successful investigator of the minutest animals takes place
unquestioned among men of genius, and, like the philosopher of old
Greece, is considered, by virtue of his science, fit company for
dukes and princes. Nay, the study is now more than honourable; it
is (what to many readers will be a far higher recommendation) even
fashionable. Every well-educated person is eager to know something
at least of the wonderful organic forms which surround him in every
sunbeam and every pebble; and books of Natural History are finding
their way more and more into drawing-rooms and school-rooms, and
exciting greater thirst for a knowledge which, even twenty years
ago, was considered superfluous for all but the professional

What a change from the temper of two generations since, when the
naturalist was looked on as a harmless enthusiast, who went "bug-
hunting," simply because he had not spirit to follow a fox! There
are those alive who can recollect an amiable man being literally
bullied out of the New Forest, because he dared to make a
collection (at this moment, we believe, in some unknown abyss of
that great Avernus, the British Museum) of fossil shells from those
very Hordwell Cliffs, for exploring which there is now established
a society of subscribers and correspondents. They can remember,
too, when, on the first appearance of Bewick's "British Birds," the
excellent sportsman who brought it down to the Forest was asked,
Why on earth he had bought a book about "cock sparrows"? and had to
justify himself again and again, simply by lending the book to his
brother sportsmen, to convince them that there were rather more
than a dozen sorts of birds (as they then held) indigenous to
Hampshire. But the book, perhaps, which turned the tide in favour
of Natural History, among the higher classes at least, in the south
of England, was White's "History of Selborne." A Hampshire
gentleman and sportsman, whom everybody knew, had taken the trouble
to write a book about the birds and the weeds in his own parish,
and the every-day things which went on under his eyes, and everyone
else's. And all gentlemen, from the Weald of Kent to the Vale of
Blackmore, shrugged their shoulders mysteriously, and said, "Poor
fellow!" till they opened the book itself, and discovered to their
surprise that it read like any novel. And then came a burst of
confused, but honest admiration; from the young squire's "Bless me!
who would have thought that there were so many wonderful things to
be seen in one's own park!" to the old squire's more morally
valuable "Bless me! why, I have seen that and that a hundred times,
and never thought till now how wonderful they were!"

There were great excuses, though, of old, for the contempt in which
the naturalist was held; great excuses for the pitying tone of
banter with which the Spectator talks of "the ingenious" Don
Saltero (as no doubt the Neapolitan gentleman talked of Ferrante
Imperato the apothecary, and his museum); great excuses for
Voltaire, when he classes the collection of butterflies among the
other "bizarreries de l'esprit humain." For, in the last
generation, the needs of the world were different. It had no time
for butterflies and fossils. While Buonaparte was hovering on the
Boulogne coast, the pursuits and the education which were needed
were such as would raise up men to fight him; so the coarse,
fierce, hard-handed training of our grandfathers came when it was
wanted, and did the work which was required of it, else we had not
been here now. Let us be thankful that we have had leisure for
science; and show now in war that our science has at least not
unmanned us.

Moreover, Natural History, if not fifty years ago, certainly a
hundred years ago, was hardly worthy of men of practical common
sense. After, indeed, Linne, by his invention of generic and
specific names, had made classification possible, and by his own
enormous labours had shown how much could be done when once a
method was established, the science has grown rapidly enough. But
before him little or nothing had been put into form definite enough
to allure those who (as the many always will) prefer to profit by
others' discoveries, than to discover for themselves; and Natural
History was attractive only to a few earnest seekers, who found too
much trouble in disencumbering their own minds of the dreams of
bygone generations (whether facts, like cockatrices, basilisks, and
krakens, the breeding of bees out of a dead ox, and of geese from
barnacles; or theories, like those of elements, the VIS PLASTRIX in
Nature, animal spirits, and the other musty heirlooms of
Aristotleism and Neo-platonism), to try to make a science popular,
which as yet was not even a science at all. Honour to them,
nevertheless. Honour to Ray and his illustrious contemporaries in
Holland and France. Honour to Seba and Aldrovandus; to Pomet, with
his "Historie of Drugges;" even to the ingenious Don Saltero, and
his tavern-museum in Cheyne Walk. Where all was chaos, every man
was useful who could contribute a single spot of organized standing
ground in the shape of a fact or a specimen. But it is a question
whether Natural History would have ever attained its present
honours, had not Geology arisen, to connect every other branch of
Natural History with problems as vast and awful as they are
captivating to the imagination. Nay, the very opposition with
which Geology met was of as great benefit to the sister sciences as
to itself. For, when questions belonging to the most sacred
hereditary beliefs of Christendom were supposed to be affected by
the verification of a fossil shell, or the proving that the
Maestricht "homo diluvii testis" was, after all, a monstrous eft,
it became necessary to work upon Conchology, Botany, and
Comparative Anatomy, with a care and a reverence, a caution and a
severe induction, which had been never before applied to them; and
thus gradually, in the last half-century, the whole choir of
cosmical sciences have acquired a soundness, severity, and fulness,
which render them, as mere intellectual exercises, as valuable to a
manly mind as Mathematics and Metaphysics.

But how very lately have they attained that firm and honourable
standing ground! It is a question whether, even twenty years ago,
Geology, as it then stood, was worth troubling one's head about, so
little had been really proved. And heavy and uphill was the work,
even within the last fifteen years, of those who stedfastly set
themselves to the task of proving and of asserting at all risks,
that the Maker of the coal seam and the diluvial cave could not be
a "Deus quidam deceptor," and that the facts which the rock and the
silt revealed were sacred, not to be warped or trifled with for the
sake of any cowardly and hasty notion that they contradicted His
other messages. When a few more years are past, Buckland and
Sedgwick, Murchison and Lyell, Delabˆche and Phillips, Forbes and
Jamieson, and the group of brave men who accompanied and followed
them, will be looked back to as moral benefactors of their race;
and almost as martyrs, also, when it is remembered how much
misunderstanding, obloquy, and plausible folly they had to endure
from well-meaning fanatics like Fairholme or Granville Penn, and
the respectable mob at their heels who tried (as is the fashion in
such cases) to make a hollow compromise between fact and the Bible,
by twisting facts just enough to make them fit the fancied meaning
of the Bible, and the Bible just enough to make it fit the fancied
meaning of the facts. But there were a few who would have no
compromise; who laboured on with a noble recklessness, determined
to speak the thing which they had seen, and neither more nor less,
sure that God could take better care than they of His own
everlasting truth. And now they have conquered: the facts which
were twenty years ago denounced as contrary to Revelation, are at
last accepted not merely as consonant with, but as corroborative
thereof; and sound practical geologists - like Hugh Miller, in his
"Footprints of the Creator," and Professor Sedgwick, in the
invaluable notes to his "Discourse on the Studies of Cambridge" -
have wielded in defence of Christianity the very science which was
faithlessly and cowardly expected to subvert it.

But if you seek, reader, rather for pleasure than for wisdom, you
can find it in such studies, pure and undefiled.

Happy, truly, is the naturalist. He has no time for melancholy
dreams. The earth becomes to him transparent; everywhere he sees
significancies, harmonies, laws, chains of cause and effect
endlessly interlinked, which draw him out of the narrow sphere of
self-interest and self-pleasing, into a pure and wholesome region
of solemn joy and wonder. He goes up some Snowdon valley; to him
it is a solemn spot (though unnoticed by his companions), where the
stag's-horn clubmoss ceases to straggle across the turf, and the
tufted alpine clubmoss takes its place: for he is now in a new
world; a region whose climate is eternally influenced by some fresh
law (after which he vainly guesses with a sigh at his own
ignorance), which renders life impossible to one species, possible
to another. And it is a still more solemn thought to him, that it
was not always so; that aeons and ages back, that rock which he
passed a thousand feet below was fringed, not as now with fern and
blue bugle, and white bramble-flowers, but perhaps with the alp-
rose and the "gemsen-kraut" of Mont Blanc, at least with Alpine
Saxifrages which have now retreated a thousand feet up the mountain
side, and with the blue Snow-Gentian, and the Canadian Sedum, which
have all but vanished out of the British Isles. And what is it
which tells him that strange story? Yon smooth and rounded surface
of rock, polished, remark, across the strata and against the grain;
and furrowed here and there, as if by iron talons, with long
parallel scratches. It was the crawling of a glacier which
polished that rock-face; the stones fallen from Snowdon peak into
the half-liquid lake of ice above, which ploughed those furrows.
AEons and aeons ago, before the time when Adam first

"Embraced his Eve in happy hour,
And every bird in Eden burst
In carol, every bud in flower,"

those marks were there; the records of the "Age of ice;" slight,
truly; to be effaced by the next farmer who needs to build a wall;
but unmistakeable, boundless in significance, like Crusoe's one
savage footprint on the sea-shore; and the naturalist acknowledges
the finger-mark of God, and wonders, and worships.

Happy, especially, is the sportsman who is also a naturalist: for
as he roves in pursuit of his game, over hills or up the beds of
streams where no one but a sportsman ever thinks of going, he will
be certain to see things noteworthy, which the mere naturalist
would never find, simply because he could never guess that they
were there to be found. I do not speak merely of the rare birds
which may be shot, the curious facts as to the habits of fish which
may be observed, great as these pleasures are. I speak of the
scenery, the weather, the geological formation of the country, its
vegetation, and the living habits of its denizens. A sportsman,
out in all weathers, and often dependent for success on his
knowledge of "what the sky is going to do," has opportunities for
becoming a meteorologist which no one beside but a sailor
possesses; and one has often longed for a scientific gamekeeper or
huntsman, who, by discovering a law for the mysterious and
seemingly capricious phenomena of "scent," might perhaps throw
light on a hundred dark passages of hygrometry. The fisherman,
too, - what an inexhaustible treasury of wonder lies at his feet,
in the subaqueous world of the commonest mountain burn! All the
laws which mould a world are there busy, if he but knew it,
fattening his trout for him, and making them rise to the fly, by
strange electric influences, at one hour rather than at another.
Many a good geognostic lesson, too, both as to the nature of a
country's rocks, and as to the laws by which strata are deposited,
may an observing man learn as he wades up the bed of a trout-
stream; not to mention the strange forms and habits of the tribes
of water-insects. Moreover, no good fisherman but knows, to his
sorrow, that there are plenty of minutes, ay, hours, in each day's
fishing in which he would be right glad of any employment better
than trying to

"Call spirits from the vasty deep,"

who will not

"Come when you do call for them."

What to do, then? You are sitting, perhaps, in your coracle, upon
some mountain tarn, waiting for a wind, and waiting in vain.

"Keine luft an keine seite,
Todes-stille frchterlich;"

as G”the has it -

"Und der schiffer sieht bekmmert
Glatte fl„che rings umher."

You paddle to the shore on the side whence the wind ought to come,
if it had any spirit in it; tie the coracle to a stone, light your
cigar, lie down on your back upon the grass, grumble, and finally
fall asleep. In the meanwhile, probably, the breeze has come on,
and there has been half-an-hour's lively fishing curl; and you wake
just in time to see the last ripple of it sneaking off at the other
side of the lake, leaving all as dead-calm as before.

Now how much better, instead of falling asleep, to have walked
quietly round the lake side, and asked of your own brains and of
Nature the question, "How did this lake come here? What does it

It is a hole in the earth. True, but how was the hole made? There
must have been huge forces at work to form such a chasm. Probably
the mountain was actually opened from within by an earthquake; and
when the strata fell together again, the portion at either end of
the chasm, being perhaps crushed together with greater force,
remained higher than the centre, and so the water lodged between
them. Perhaps it was formed thus. You will at least agree that
its formation must have been a grand sight enough, and one during
which a spectator would have had some difficulty in keeping his

And when you learn that this convulsion probably took plus at the
bottom of an ocean hundreds of thousands of years ago, you have at
least a few thoughts over which to ruminate, which will make you at
once too busy to grumble, and ashamed to grumble.

Yet, after all, I hardly think the lake was formed in this way, and
suspect that it may have been dry for ages after it emerged from
the primeval waves, and Snowdonia was a palm-fringed island in a
tropic sea. Let us look the place over more fully.

You see the lake is nearly circular; on the side where we stand the
pebbly beach is not six feet above the water, and slopes away
steeply into the valley behind us, while before us it shelves
gradually into the lake; forty yards out, as you know, there is not
ten feet water; and then a steep bank, the edge whereof we and the
big trout know well, sinks suddenly to unknown depths. On the
opposite side, that flat-topped wall of rock towers up shoreless
into the sky, seven hundred feet perpendicular; the deepest water
of all we know is at its very foot. Right and left, two shoulders
of down slope into the lake. Now turn round and look down the
gorge. Remark that this pebble bank on which we stand reaches some
fifty yards downward: you see the loose stones peeping out
everywhere. We may fairly suppose that we stand on a dam of loose
stones, a hundred feet deep.

But why loose stones? - and if so, what matter? and what wonder?
There are rocks cropping out everywhere down the hill-side.

Because if you will take up one of these stones and crack it
across, you will see that it is not of the same stuff as those said
rocks. Step into the next field and see. That rock is the common
Snowdon slate, which we see everywhere. The two shoulders of down,
right and left, are slate, too; you can see that at a glance. But
the stones of the pebble bank are a close-grained, yellow-spotted
rock. They are Syenite; and (you may believe me or not, as you
will) they were once upon a time in the condition of a hasty
pudding heated to some 800 degrees of Fahrenheit, and in that
condition shoved their way up somewhere or other through these
slates. But where? whence on earth did these Syenite pebbles come?
Let us walk round to the cliff on the opposite side and see. It is
worth while; for even if my guess be wrong, there is good spinning
with a brass minnow round the angles of the rocks.

Now see. Between the cliff-foot and the sloping down is a crack,
ending in a gully; the nearer side is of slate, and the further
side, the cliff itself, is - why, the whole cliff is composed of
the very same stone as the pebble ridge.

Now, my good friend, how did these pebbles get three hundred yards
across the lake? Hundreds of tons, some of them three feet long:
who carried them across? The old Cymry were not likely to amuse
themselves by making such a breakwater up here in No-man's-land,
two thousand feet above the sea: but somebody or something must
have carried them; for stones do not fly, nor swim either.

Shot out of a volcano? As you seem determined to have a prodigy,
it may as well be a sufficiently huge one.

Well - these stones lie altogether; and a volcano would have hardly
made so compact a shot, not being in the habit of using Eley's wire
cartridges. Our next hope of a solution lies in John Jones, who
carried up the coracle. Hail him, and ask him what is on the top
of that cliff . . . So, "Plainshe and pogshe, and another Llyn."
Very good. Now, does it not strike you that this whole cliff has a
remarkably smooth and plastered look, like a hare's run up an
earthbank? And do you not see that it is polished thus only over
the lake? that as soon as the cliff abuts on the downs right and
left, it forms pinnacles, caves, broken angular boulders? Syenite
usually does so in our damp climate, from the "weathering" effect
of frost and rain: why has it not done so over the lake? On that
part something (giants perhaps) has been scrambling up or down on a
very large scale, and so rubbed off every corner which was inclined
to come away, till the solid core of the rock was bared. And may
not those mysterious giants have had a hand in carrying the stones
across the lake? . . . Really, I am not altogether jesting. Think
a while what agent could possibly have produced either one or both
of these effects?

There is but one; and that, if you have been an Alpine traveller -
much more if you have been a Chamois hunter - you have seen many a
time (whether you knew it or not) at the very same work.

Ice? Yes; ice; Hrymir the frost-giant, and no one else. And if
you will look at the facts, you will see how ice may have done it.
Our friend John Jones's report of plains and bogs and a lake above
makes it quite possible that in the "Ice age" (Glacial Epoch, as
the big-word-mongers call it) there was above that cliff a great
neve, or snowfield, such as you have seen often in the Alps at the
head of each glacier. Over the face of this cliff a glacier has
crawled down from that neve, polishing the face of the rock in its
descent: but the snow, having no large and deep outlet, has not
slid down in a sufficient stream to reach the vale below, and form
a glacier of the first order; and has therefore stopped short on
the other side of the lake, as a glacier of the second order, which
ends in an ice-cliff hanging high up on the mountain side, and kept
from further progress by daily melting. If you have ever gone up
the Mer de Glace to the Tacul, you saw a magnificent specimen of
this sort on your right hand, just opposite the Tacul, in the
Glacier de Trelaporte, which comes down from the Aiguille de

This explains our pebble-ridge. The stones which the glacier
rubbed off the cliff beneath it it carried forward, slowly but
surely, till they saw the light again in the face of the ice-cliff,
and dropped out of it under the melting of the summer sun, to form
a huge dam across the ravine; till, the "Ice age" past, a more
genial climate succeeded, and neve and glacier melted away: but
the "moraine" of stones did not, and remains to this day, as the
dam which keeps up the waters of the lake.

There is my explanation. If you can find a better, do: but
remember always that it must include an answer to - "How did the
stones get across the lake?"

Now, reader, we have had no abstruse science here, no long words,
not even a microscope or a book: and yet we, as two plain
sportsmen, have gone back, or been led back by fact and common
sense, into the most awful and sublime depths, into an epos of the
destruction and re-creation of a former world.

This is but a single instance; I might give hundreds. This one,
nevertheless, may have some effect in awakening you to the
boundless world of wonders which is all around you, and make you
ask yourself seriously, "What branch of Natural History shall I
begin to investigate, if it be but for a few weeks, this summer?"

To which I answer, Try "the Wonders of the Shore." There are along
every sea-beach more strange things to be seen, and those to be
seen easily, than in any other field of observation which you will
find in these islands. And on the shore only will you have the
enjoyment of finding new species, of adding your mite to the
treasures of science.

For not only the English ferns, but the natural history of all our
land species, are now well-nigh exhausted. Our home botanists and
ornithologists are spending their time now, perforce, in verifying
a few obscure species, and bemoaning themselves, like Alexander,
that there are no more worlds left to conquer. For the geologist,
indeed, and the entomologist, especially in the remoter districts,
much remains to be done, but only at a heavy outlay of time,
labour, and study; and the dilettante (and it is for dilettanti,
like myself, that I principally write) must be content to tread in
the tracks of greater men who have preceded him, and accept at
second or third hand their foregone conclusions.

But this is most unsatisfactory; for in giving up discovery, one
gives up one of the highest enjoyments of Natural History. There
is a mysterious delight in the discovery of a new species, akin to
that of seeing for the first time, in their native haunts, plants
or animals of which one has till then only read. Some, surely, who
read these pages have experienced that latter delight; and, though
they might find it hard to define whence the pleasure arose, know
well that it was a solid pleasure, the memory of which they would
not give up for hard cash. Some, surely, can recollect, at their
first sight of the Alpine Soldanella, the Rhododendron, or the
black Orchis, growing upon the edge of the eternal snow, a thrill
of emotion not unmixed with awe; a sense that they were, as it
were, brought face to face with the creatures of another world;
that Nature was independent of them, not merely they of her; that
trees were not merely made to build their houses, or herbs to feed
their cattle, as they looked on those wild gardens amid the wreaths
of the untrodden snow, which had lifted their gay flowers to the
sun year after year since the foundation of the world, taking no
heed of man, and all the coil which he keeps in the valleys far

And even, to take a simpler instance, there are those who will
excuse, or even approve of, a writer for saying that, among the
memories of a month's eventful tour, those which stand out as
beacon-points, those round which all the others group themselves,
are the first wolf-track by the road-side in the Kyllwald; the
first sight of the blue and green Roller-birds, walking behind the
plough like rooks in the tobacco-fields of Wittlich; the first ball
of Olivine scraped out of the volcanic slag-heaps of the Dreisser-
Weiher; the first pair of the Lesser Bustard flushed upon the downs
of the Mosel-kopf; the first sight of the cloud of white Ephemerae,
fluttering in the dusk like a summer snowstorm between us and the
black cliffs of the Rheinstein, while the broad Rhine beneath
flashed blood-red in the blaze of the lightning and the fires of
the Mausenthurm - a lurid Acheron above which seemed to hover ten
thousand unburied ghosts; and last, but not least, on the lip of
the vast Mosel-kopf crater - just above the point where the weight
of the fiery lake has burst the side of the great slag-cup, and
rushed forth between two cliffs of clink-stone across the downs, in
a clanging stream of fire, damming up rivulets, and blasting its
path through forests, far away toward the valley of the Moselle -
the sight of an object for which was forgotten for the moment that
battle-field of the Titans at our feet, and the glorious panorama,
Hundsruck and Taunus, Siebengebirge and Ardennes, and all the
crater peaks around; and which was - smile not, reader - our first
yellow foxglove.

But what is even this to the delight of finding a new species? - of
rescuing (as it seems to you) one more thought of the Divine mind
from Hela, and the realms of the unknown, unclassified,
uncomprehended? As it seems to you: though in reality it only
seems so, in a world wherein not a sparrow falls to the ground
unnoticed by our Father who is in heaven.

The truth is, the pleasure of finding new species is too great; it
is morally dangerous; for it brings with it the temptation to look
on the thing found as your own possession, all but your own
creation; to pride yourself on it, as if God had not known it for
ages since; even to squabble jealously for the right of having it
named after you, and of being recorded in the Transactions of I-
know-not-what Society as its first discoverer:- as if all the
angels in heaven had not been admiring it, long before you were
born or thought of.

But to be forewarned is to be forearmed; and I seriously counsel
you to try if you cannot find something new this summer along the
coast to which you are going. There is no reason why you should
not be so successful as a friend of mine who, with a very slight
smattering of science, and very desultory research, obtained in one
winter from the Torbay shores three entirely new species, beside
several rare animals which had escaped all naturalists since the
lynx-eye of Colonel Montagu discerned them forty years ago.

And do not despise the creatures because they are minute. No doubt
we should most of us prefer discovering monstrous apes in the
tropical forests of Borneo, or stumbling upon herds of gigantic
Ammon sheep amid the rhododendron thickets of the Himalaya: but it
cannot be; and "he is a fool," says old Hesiod, "who knows not how
much better half is than the whole." Let us be content with what
is within our reach. And doubt not that in these tiny creatures
are mysteries more than we shall ever fathom.

The zoophytes and microscopic animalcules which people every shore
and every drop of water, have been now raised to a rank in the
human mind more important, perhaps, than even those gigantic
monsters whose models fill the lake at the Crystal Palace. The
research which has been bestowed, for the last century, upon these
once unnoticed atomies has well repaid itself; for from no branch
of physical science has more been learnt of the SCIENTIA
SCIENTIARUM, the priceless art of learning; no branch of science
has more utterly confounded a wisdom of the wise, shattered to
pieces systems and theories, and the idolatry of arbitrary names,
and taught man to be silent while his Maker speaks, than this
apparent pedantry of zoophytology, in which our old distinctions of
"animal," "vegetable," and "mineral" are trembling in the balance,
seemingly ready to vanish like their fellows - "the four elements"
of fire, earth, air, and water. No branch of science has helped so
much to sweep away that sensuous idolatry of mere size, which
tempts man to admire and respect objects in proportion to the
number of feet or inches which they occupy in space. No branch of
science, moreover, has been more humbling to the boasted rapidity
and omnipotence of the human reason, or has more taught those who
have eyes to see, and hearts to understand, how weak and wayward,
staggering and slow, are the steps of our fallen race (rapid and
triumphant enough in that broad road of theories which leads to
intellectual destruction) whensoever they tread the narrow path of
true science, which leads (if I may be allowed to transfer our
Lord's great parable from moral to intellectual matters) to Life;
to the living and permanent knowledge of living things and of the
laws of their existence. Humbling, truly, to one who looks back to
the summer of 1754, when good Mr. Ellis, the wise and benevolent
West Indian merchant, read before the Royal Society his paper
proving the animal nature of corals, and followed it up the year
after by that "Essay toward a Natural History of the Corallines,
and other like Marine Productions of the British Coasts," which
forms the groundwork of all our knowledge on the subject to this
day. The chapter in Dr. G. Johnston's "British Zoophytes," p. 407,
or the excellent little RESUME thereof in Dr. Landsborough's book
on the same subject, is really a saddening one, as one sees how
loth were, not merely dreamers like, Marsigli or Bonnet, but sound-
headed men like Pallas and Linne, to give up the old sense-bound
fancy, that these corals were vegetables, and their polypes some
sort of living flowers. Yet, after all, there are excuses for
them. Without our improved microscopes, and while the sciences of
comparative anatomy and chemistry were yet infantile, it was
difficult to believe what was the truth; and for this simple
reason: that, as usual, the truth, when discovered, turned out far
more startling and prodigious than the dreams which men had hastily
substituted for it; more strange than Ovid's old story that the
coral was soft under the sea, and hardened by exposure to air; than
Marsigli's notion, that the coral-polypes were its flowers; than
Dr. Parsons' contemptuous denial, that these complicated forms
could be "the operations of little, poor, helpless, jelly-like
animals, and not the work of more sure vegetation;" than Baker the
microscopist's detailed theory of their being produced by the
crystallization of the mineral salts in the sea-water, just as he
had seen "the particles of mercury and copper in aquafortis assume
tree-like forms, or curious delineations of mosses and minute
shrubs on slates and stones, owing to the shooting of salts
intermixed with mineral particles:" - one smiles at it now: yet
these men were no less sensible than we; and if we know better, it
is only because other men, and those few and far between, have
laboured amid disbelief, ridicule, and error; needing again and
again to retrace their steps, and to unlearn more than they learnt,
seeming to go backwards when they were really progressing most:
and now we have entered into their labours, and find them, as I
have just said, more wondrous than all the poetic dreams of a
Bonnet or a Darwin. For who, after all, to take a few broad
instances (not to enlarge on the great root-wonder of a number of
distinct individuals connected by a common life, and forming a
seeming plant invariable in each species), would have dreamed of
the "bizarreries" which these very zoophytes present in their

You go down to any shore after a gale of wind, and pick up a few
delicate little sea-ferns. You have two in your hand, which
probably look to you, even under a good pocket magnifier, identical
or nearly so. (1) But you are told to your surprise, that however
like the dead horny polypidoms which you hold may be, the two
species of animal which have formed them are at least as far apart
in the scale of creation as a quadruped is from a fish. You see in
some Musselburgh dredger's boat the phosphorescent sea-pen (unknown
in England), a living feather, of the look and consistency of a
cock's comb; or the still stranger sea-rush (VIRGULARIA MIRABILIS),
a spine a foot long, with hundreds of rosy flowerets arranged in
half-rings round it from end to end; and you are told that these
are the congeners of the great stony Venus's fan which hangs in
seamen's cottages, brought home from the West Indies. And ere you
have done wondering, you hear that all three are congeners of the
ugly, shapeless, white "dead man's hand," which you may pick up
after a storm on any shore. You have a beautiful madrepore or
brain-stone on your mantel-piece, brought home from some Pacific
coral-reef. You are to believe that its first cousins are the
soft, slimy sea-anemones which you see expanding their living
flowers in every rock-pool - bags of sea-water, without a trace of
bone or stone. You must believe it; for in science, as in higher
matters, he who will walk surely, must "walk by faith and not by

These are but a few of the wonders which the classification of
marine animals affords; and only drawn from one class of them,
though almost as common among every other family of that submarine
world whereof Spenser sang -

"Oh, what an endless work have I in hand,
To count the sea's abundant progeny!
Whose fruitful seed far passeth those in land,
And also those which won in th' azure sky,
For much more earth to tell the stars on high,
Albe they endless seem in estimation,
Than to recount the sea's posterity;
So fertile be the flouds in generation,
So huge their numbers, and so numberless their nation."

But these few examples will be sufficient to account both for the
slow pace at which the knowledge of sea-animals has progressed, and
for the allurement which men of the highest attainments have found,
and still find, in it. And when to this we add the marvels which
meet us at every step in the anatomy and the reproduction of these
creatures, and in the chemical and mechanical functions which they
fulfil in the great economy of our planet, we cannot wonder at
finding that books which treat of them carry with them a certain
charm of romance, and feed the play of fancy, and that love of the
marvellous which is inherent in man, at the same time that they
lead the reader to more solemn and lofty trains of thought, which
can find their full satisfaction only in self-forgetful worship,
and that hymn of praise which goes up ever from land and sea, as
well as from saints and martyrs and the heavenly host, "O all ye
works of the Lord, and ye, too, spirits and souls of the righteous,
praise Him, and magnify Him for ever!"

I have said, that there were excuses for the old contempt of the
study of Natural History. I have said, too, it may be hoped,
enough to show that contempt to be now ill-founded. But still,
there are those who regard it as a mere amusement, and that as a
somewhat effeminate one; and think that it can at best help to
while away a leisure hour harmlessly, and perhaps usefully, as a
substitute for coarser sports, or for the reading of novels.
Those, however, who have followed it out, especially on the sea-
shore, know better. They can tell from experience, that over and
above its accessory charms of pure sea-breezes, and wild rambles by
cliff and loch, the study itself has had a weighty moral effect
upon their hearts and spirits. There are those who can well
understand how the good and wise John Ellis, amid all his
philanthropic labours for the good of the West Indies, while he was
spending his intellect and fortune in introducing into our tropic
settlements the bread-fruit, the mangosteen, and every plant and
seed which he hoped might be useful for medicine, agriculture, and
commerce, could yet feel himself justified in devoting large
portions of his ever well-spent time to the fighting the battle of
the corallines against Parsons and the rest, and even in measuring
pens with Linne, the prince of naturalists.

There are those who can sympathise with the gallant old Scotch
officer mentioned by some writer on sea-weeds, who, desperately
wounded in the breach at Badajos, and a sharer in all the toils and
triumphs of the Peninsular war, could in his old age show a rare
sea-weed with as much triumph as his well-earned medals, and talk
over a tiny spore-capsule with as much zest as the records of
sieges and battles. Why not? That temper which made him a good
soldier may very well have made him a good naturalist also. The
late illustrious geologist, Sir Roderick Murchison, was also an old
Peninsular officer. I doubt not that with him, too, the
experiences of war may have helped to fit him for the studies of
peace. Certainly, the best naturalist, as far as logical acumen,
as well as earnest research, is concerned, whom England has ever
seen, was the Devonshire squire, Colonel George Montagu, of whom
the late E. Forbes well says, that "had he been educated a
physiologist" (and not, as he was, a soldier and a sportsman), "and
made the study of Nature his aim and not his amusement, his would
have been one of the greatest names in the whole range of British
science." I question, nevertheless, whether he would not have lost
more than he would have gained by a different training. It might
have made him a more learned systematizer; but would it have
quickened in him that "seeing" eye of the true soldier and
sportsman, which makes Montagu's descriptions indelible word-
pictures, instinct with life and truth? "There is no question,"
says E. Forbes, after bewailing the vagueness of most naturalists,
"about the identity of any animal Montagu described. . . . He was a
forward-looking philosopher; he spoke of every creature as if one
exceeding like it, yet different from it, would be washed up by the
waves next tide. Consequently his descriptions are permanent."
Scientific men will recognize in this the highest praise which can
be bestowed, because it attributes to him the highest faculty - The
Art of Seeing; but the study and the book would not have given
that. It is God's gift wheresoever educated: but its true school-
room is the camp and the ocean, the prairie and the forest; active,
self-helping life, which can grapple with Nature herself: not
merely with printed-books about her. Let no one think that this
same Natural History is a pursuit fitted only for effeminate or
pedantic men. I should say, rather, that the qualifications
required for a perfect naturalist are as many and as lofty as were
required, by old chivalrous writers, for the perfect knight-errant
of the Middle Ages: for (to sketch an ideal, of which I am happy
to say our race now affords many a fair realization) our perfect
naturalist should be strong in body; able to haul a dredge, climb a
rock, turn a boulder, walk all day, uncertain where he shall eat or
rest; ready to face sun and rain, wind and frost, and to eat or
drink thankfully anything, however coarse or meagre; he should know
how to swim for his life, to pull an oar, sail a boat, and ride the
first horse which comes to hand; and, finally, he should be a
thoroughly good shot, and a skilful fisherman; and, if he go far
abroad, be able on occasion to fight for his life.

For his moral character, he must, like a knight of old, be first of
all gentle and courteous, ready and able to ingratiate himself with
the poor, the ignorant, and the savage; not only because foreign
travel will be often otherwise impossible, but because he knows how
much invaluable local information can be only obtained from
fishermen, miners, hunters, and tillers of the soil. Next, he
should be brave and enterprising, and withal patient and undaunted;
not merely in travel, but in investigation; knowing (as Lord Bacon
might have put it) that the kingdom of Nature, like the kingdom of
heaven, must be taken by violence, and that only to those who knock
long and earnestly does the great mother open the doors of her
sanctuary. He must be of a reverent turn of mind also; not rashly
discrediting any reports, however vague and fragmentary; giving man
credit always for some germ of truth, and giving Nature credit for
an inexhaustible fertility and variety, which will keep him his
life long always reverent, yet never superstitious; wondering at
the commonest, but not surprised by the most strange; free from the
idols of size and sensuous loveliness; able to see grandeur in the
minutest objects, beauty, in the most ungainly; estimating each
thing not carnally, as the vulgar do, by its size or its
pleasantness to the senses, but spiritually, by the amount of
Divine thought revealed to Man therein; holding every phenomenon
worth the noting down; believing that every pebble holds a
treasure, every bud a revelation; making it a point of conscience
to pass over nothing through laziness or hastiness, lest the vision
once offered and despised should be withdrawn; and looking at every
object as if he were never to behold it again.

Moreover, he must keep himself free from all those perturbations of
mind which not only weaken energy, but darken and confuse the
inductive faculty; from haste and laziness, from melancholy,
testiness, pride, and all the passions which make men see only what
they wish to see. Of solemn and scrupulous reverence for truth; of
the habit of mind which regards each fact and discovery, not as our
own possession, but as the possession of its Creator, independent
of us, our tastes, our needs, or our vain-glory, I hardly need to
speak; for it is the very essence of a nature's faculty - the very
tenure of his existence: and without truthfulness science would be
as impossible now as chivalry would have been of old.

And last, but not least, the perfect naturalist should have in him
the very essence of true chivalry, namely, self-devotion; the
desire to advance, not himself and his own fame or wealth, but
knowledge and mankind. He should have this great virtue; and in
spite of many shortcomings (for what man is there who liveth and
sinneth not?), naturalists as a class have it to a degree which
makes them stand out most honourably in the midst of a self-seeking
and mammonite generation, inclined to value everything by its money
price, its private utility. The spirit which gives freely, because
it knows that it has received freely; which communicates knowledge
without hope of reward, without jealousy and rivalry, to fellow-
students and to the world; which is content to delve and toil
comparatively unknown, that from its obscure and seemingly
worthless results others may derive pleasure, and even build up
great fortunes, and change the very face of cities and lands, by
the practical use of some stray talisman which the poor student has
invented in his laboratory; - this is the spirit which is abroad
among our scientific men, to a greater degree than it ever has been
among any body of men for many a century past; and might well be
copied by those who profess deeper purposes and a more exalted
calling, than the discovery of a new zoophyte, or the
classification of a moorland crag.

And it is these qualities, however imperfectly they may be realized
in any individual instance, which make our scientific men, as a
class, the wholesomest and pleasantest of companions abroad, and at
home the most blameless, simple, and cheerful, in all domestic
relations; men for the most part of manful heads, and yet of
childlike hearts, who have turned to quiet study, in these late
piping times of peace, an intellectual health and courage which
might have made them, in more fierce and troublous times, capable
of doing good service with very different instruments than the
scalpel and the microscope.

I have been sketching an ideal: but one which I seriously
recommend to the consideration of all parents; for, though it be
impossible and absurd to wish that every young man should grow up a
naturalist by profession, yet this age offers no more wholesome
training, both moral and intellectual, than that which is given by
instilling into the young an early taste for outdoor physical
science. The education of our children is now more than ever a
puzzling problem, if by education we mean the development of the
whole humanity, not merely of some arbitrarily chosen part of it.
How to feed the imagination with wholesome food, and teach it to
despise French novels, and that sugared slough of sentimental
poetry, in comparison with which the old fairy-tales and ballads
were manful and rational; how to counteract the tendency to
shallowed and conceited sciolism, engendered by hearing popular
lectures on all manner of subjects, which can only be really learnt
by stern methodic study; how to give habits of enterprise,
patience, accurate observation, which the counting-house or the
library will never bestow; above all, how to develop the physical
powers, without engendering brutality and coarseness - are
questions becoming daily more and more puzzling, while they need
daily more and more to be solved, in an age of enterprise, travel,
and emigration, like the present. For the truth must be told, that
the great majority of men who are now distinguished by commercial
success, have had a training the directly opposite to that which
they are giving to their sons. They are for the most part men who
have migrated from the country to the town, and had in their youth
all the advantages of a sturdy and manful hill-side or sea-side
training; men whose bodies were developed, and their lungs fed on
pure breezes, long before they brought to work in the city the
bodily and mental strength which they had gained by loch and moor.
But it is not so with their sons. Their business habits are learnt
in the counting-house; a good school, doubtless, as far as it goes:
but one which will expand none but the lowest intellectual
faculties; which will make them accurate accountants, shrewd
computers and competitors, but never the originators of daring
schemes, men able and willing to go forth to replenish the earth
and subdue it. And in the hours of relaxation, how much of their
time is thrown away, for want of anything better, on frivolity, not
to say on secret profligacy, parents know too well; and often shut
their eyes in very despair to evils which they know not how to
cure. A frightful majority of our middle-class young men are
growing up effeminate, empty of all knowledge but what tends
directly to the making of a fortune; or rather, to speak correctly,
to the keeping up the fortunes which their fathers have made for
them; while of the minority, who are indeed thinkers and readers,
how many women as well as men have we seen wearying their souls
with study undirected, often misdirected; craving to learn, yet not
knowing how or what to learn; cultivating, with unwholesome energy,
the head at the expense of the body and the heart; catching up with
the most capricious self-will one mania after another, and tossing
it away again for some new phantom; gorging the memory with facts
which no one has taught them to arrange, and the reason with
problems which they have no method for solving; till they fret
themselves in a chronic fever of the brain, which too often urge
them on to plunge, as it were, to cool the inward fire, into the
ever-restless seas of doubt or of superstition. It is a sad
picture. There are many who may read these pages whose hearts will
tell them that it is a true one. What is wanted in these cases is
a methodic and scientific habit of mind; and a class of objects on
which to exercise that habit, which will fever neither the
speculative intellect nor the moral sense; and those physical
science will give, as nothing else can give it.

Moreover, to revert to another point which we touched just now, man
has a body as well as a mind; and with the vast majority there will
be no MENS SANA unless there be a CORPUS SANUM for it to inhabit.
And what outdoor training to give our youths is, as we have already
said, more than ever puzzling. This difficulty is felt, perhaps,
less in Scotland than in England. The Scotch climate compels
hardiness; the Scotch bodily strength makes it easy; and Scotland,
with her mountain-tours in summer, and her frozen lochs in winter,
her labyrinth of sea-shore, and, above all, that priceless boon
which Providence has bestowed on her, in the contiguity of her
great cities to the loveliest scenery, and the hills where every
breeze is health, affords facilities for healthy physical life
unknown to the Englishman, who has no Arthur's Seat towering above
his London, no Western Islands sporting the ocean firths beside his
Manchester. Field sports, with the invaluable training which they
give, if not

"The reason firm,"

yet still

"The temperate will,
Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill,"

have become impossible for the greater number: and athletic
exercises are now, in England at least, becoming more and more
artificialized and expensive; and are confined more and more - with
the honourable exception of the football games in Battersea Park -
to our Public Schools and the two elder Universities. All honour,
meanwhile, to the Volunteer movement, and its moral as well as its
physical effects. But it is only a comparatively few of the very
sturdiest who are likely to become effective Volunteers, and so
really gain the benefits of learning to be soldiers. And yet the
young man who has had no substitute for such occupations will cut
but a sorry figure in Australia, Canada, or India; and if he stays
at home, will spend many a pound in doctors' bills, which could
have been better employed elsewhere. "Taking a walk" - as one
would take a pill or a draught - seems likely soon to become the
only form of outdoor existence possible for too many inhabitants of
the British Isles. But a walk without an object, unless in the
most lovely and novel of scenery, is a poor exercise; and as a
recreation, utterly nil. I never knew two young lads go out for a
"constitutional," who did not, if they were commonplace youths,
gossip the whole way about things better left unspoken; or, if they
were clever ones, fall on arguing and brainsbeating on politics or
metaphysics from the moment they left the door, and return with
their wits even more heated and tired than they were when they set
out. I cannot help fancying that Milton made a mistake in a
certain celebrated passage; and that it was not "sitting on a hill
apart," but tramping four miles out and four miles in along a
turnpike-road, that his hapless spirits discoursed

"Of fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute,
And found no end, in wandering mazes lost."

Seriously, if we wish rural walks to do our children any good, we
must give them a love for rural sights, an object in every walk; we
must teach them - and we can teach them - to find wonder in every
insect, sublimity in every hedgerow, the records of past worlds in
every pebble, and boundless fertility upon the barren shore; and
so, by teaching them to make full use of that limited sphere in
which they now are, make them faithful in a few things, that they
may be fit hereafter to be rulers over much.

I may seem to exaggerate the advantages of such studies; but the
question after all is one of experience: and I have had experience
enough and to spare that what I say is true. I have seen the young
man of fierce passions, and uncontrollable daring, expend healthily
that energy which threatened daily to plunge him into recklessness,
if not into sin, upon hunting out and collecting, through rock and
bog, snow and tempest, every bird and egg of the neighbouring
forest. I have seen the cultivated man, craving for travel and for
success in life, pent up in the drudgery of London work, and yet
keeping his spirit calm, and perhaps his morals all the more
righteous, by spending over his microscope evenings which would too
probably have gradually been wasted at the theatre. I have seen
the young London beauty, amid all the excitement and temptation of
luxury and flattery, with her heart pure and her mind occupied in a
boudoir full of shells and fossils, flowers and sea-weeds; keeping
herself unspotted from the world, by considering the lilies of the
field, how they grow. And therefore it is that I hail with
thankfulness every fresh book of Natural History, as a fresh boon
to the young, a fresh help to those who have to educate them.

The greatest difficulty in the way of beginners is (as in most
things) how "to learn the art of learning." They go out, search,
find less than they expected, and give the subject up in
disappointment. It is good to begin, therefore, if possible, by
playing the part of "jackal" to some practised naturalist, who will
show the tyro where to look, what to look for, and, moreover, what
it is that he has found; often no easy matter to discover. Forty
years ago, during an autumn's work of dead-leaf-searching in the
Devon woods for poor old Dr. Turton, while he was writing his book
on British land-shells, the present writer learnt more of the art
of observing than he would have learnt in three years' desultory
hunting on his own account; and he has often regretted that no
naturalist has established shore-lectures at some watering-place,
like those up hill and down dale field-lectures which, in pleasant
bygone Cambridge days, Professor Sedgwick used to give to young
geologists, and Professor Henslow to young botanists.

In the meanwhile, to show you something of what may be seen by
those who care to see, let me take you, in imagination, to a shore
where I was once at home, and for whose richness I can vouch, and
choose our season and our day to start forth, on some glorious
September or October morning, to see what last night's equinoctial
gale has swept from the populous shallows of Torbay, and cast up,
high and dry, on Paignton sands.

Torbay is a place which should be as much endeared to the
naturalist as to the patriot and to the artist. We cannot gaze on
its blue ring of water, and the great limestone bluffs which bound
it to the north and south, without a glow passing through our
hearts, as we remember the terrible and glorious pageant which
passed by in the glorious July days of 1588, when the Spanish
Armada ventured slowly past Berry Head, with Elizabeth's gallant
pack of Devon captains (for the London fleet had not yet joined)
following fast in its wake, and dashing into the midst of the vast
line, undismayed by size and numbers, while their kin and friends
stood watching and praying on the cliffs, spectators of Britain's
Salamis. The white line of houses, too, on the other side of the
bay, is Brixham, famed as the landing-place of William of Orange;
the stone on the pier-head, which marks his first footsteps on
British ground, is sacred in the eyes of all true English Whigs;
and close by stands the castle of the settler of Newfoundland, Sir
Humphrey Gilbert, Raleigh's half-brother, most learned of all
Elizabeth's admirals in life, most pious and heroic in death. And
as for scenery, though it can boast of neither mountain peak nor
dark fiord, and would seem tame enough in the eyes of a western
Scot or Irishman, yet Torbay surely has a soft beauty of its own.
The rounded hills slope gently to the sea, spotted with squares of
emerald grass, and rich red fallow fields, and parks full of
stately timber trees. Long lines of tall elms run down to the very
water's edge, their boughs unwarped by any blast; here and there
apple orchards are bending under their loads of fruit, and narrow
strips of water-meadow line the glens, where the red cattle are
already lounging in richest pastures, within ten yards of the rocky
pebble beach. The shore is silent now, the tide far out: but six
hours hence it will be hurling columns of rosy foam high into the
sunlight, and sprinkling passengers, and cattle, and trim gardens
which hardly know what frost and snow may be, but see the flowers
of autumn meet the flowers of spring, and the old year linger
smilingly to twine a garland for the new.

No wonder that such a spot as Torquay, with its delicious Italian
climate, and endless variety of rich woodland, flowery lawn,
fantastic rock-cavern, and broad bright tide-sand, sheltered from
every wind of heaven except the soft south-east, should have become
a favourite haunt, not only for invalids, but for naturalists.
Indeed, it may well claim the honour of being the original home of
marine zoology and botany in England, as the Firth of Forth, under
the auspices of Sir J. G. Dalyell, has been for Scotland. For here
worked Montagu, Turton, and Mrs. Griffith, to whose extraordinary
powers of research English marine botany almost owes its existence,
and who survived to an age long beyond the natural term of man, to
see, in her cheerful and honoured old age, that knowledge become
popular and general which she pursued for many a year unassisted
and alone. Here, too, the scientific succession is still
maintained by Mr. Pengelly and Mr. Gosse, the latter of whom by his
delightful and, happily, well-known books has done more for the
study of marine zoology than any other living man. Torbay,
moreover, from the variety of its rocks, aspects, and sea-floors,
where limestones alternate with traps, and traps with slates, while
at the valley-mouth the soft sandstones and hard conglomerates of
the new red series slope down into the tepid and shallow waves,
affords an abundance and variety of animal and vegetable life,
unequalled, perhaps, in any other part of Great Britain. It cannot
boast, certainly, of those strange deep-sea forms which Messrs.
Alder, Goodsir, and Laskey dredge among the lochs of the western
Highlands, and the sub-marine mountain glens of the Zetland sea;
but it has its own varieties, its own ever-fresh novelties: and in
spite of all the research which has been lavished on its shores, a
naturalist cannot, I suspect, work there for a winter without
discovering forms new to science, or meeting with curiosities which
have escaped all observers, since the lynx eye of Montagu espied
them full fifty years ago.

Follow us, then, reader, in imagination, out of the gay watering-
place, with its London shops and London equipages, along the broad
road beneath the sunny limestone cliff, tufted with golden furze;
past the huge oaks and green slopes of Tor Abbey; and past the
fantastic rocks of Livermead, scooped by the waves into a labyrinth
of double and triple caves, like Hindoo temples, upborne on pillars
banded with yellow and white and red, a week's study, in form and
colour and chiaro-oscuro, for any artist; and a mile or so further
along a pleasant road, with land-locked glimpses of the bay, to the
broad sheet of sand which lies between the village of Paignton and
the sea - sands trodden a hundred times by Montagu and Turton,
perhaps, by Dillwyn and Gaertner, and many another pioneer of
science. And once there, before we look at anything else, come
down straight to the sea marge; for yonder lies, just left by the
retiring tide, a mass of life such as you will seldom see again.
It is somewhat ugly, perhaps, at first sight; for ankle-deep are
spread, for some ten yards long by five broad, huge dirty bivalve
shells, as large as the hand, each with its loathly grey and black
siphons hanging out, a confused mass of slimy death. Let us walk
on to some cleaner heap, and leave these, the great Lutraria
Elliptica, which have been lying buried by thousands in the sandy
mud, each with the point of its long siphon above the surface,
sucking in and driving out again the salt water on which it feeds,
till last night's ground-swell shifted the sea-bottom, and drove
them up hither to perish helpless, but not useless, on the beach.

See, close by is another shell bed, quite as large, but comely
enough to please any eye. What a variety of forms and colours are
there, amid the purple and olive wreaths of wrack, and bladder-
weed, and tangle (ore-weed, as they call it in the south), and the
delicate green ribbons of the Zostera (the only English flowering
plant which grows beneath the sea). What are they all? What are
the long white razors? What are the delicate green-grey scimitars?
What are the tapering brown spires? What the tufts of delicate
yellow plants like squirrels' tails, and lobsters' horns, and
tamarisks, and fir-trees, and all other finely cut animal and
vegetable forms? What are the groups of grey bladders, with
something like a little bud at the tip? What are the hundreds of
little pink-striped pears? What those tiny babies' heads, covered
with grey prickles instead of hair? The great red star-fish, which
Ulster children call "the bad man's hands;" and the great whelks,
which the youth of Musselburgh know as roaring buckies, these we
have seen before; but what, oh what, are the red capsicums? -

Yes, what are the red capsicums? and why are they poking, snapping,
starting, crawling, tumbling wildly over each other, rattling about
the huge mahogany cockles, as big as a child's two fists, out of
which they are protruded? Mark them well, for you will perhaps
never see them again. They are a Mediterranean species, or rather
three species, left behind upon these extreme south-western coasts,
probably at the vanishing of that warmer ancient epoch, which
clothed the Lizard Point with the Cornish heath, and the Killarney
mountains with Spanish saxifrages, and other relics of a flora
whose home is now the Iberian peninsula and the sunny cliffs of the
Riviera. Rare on every other shore, even in the west, it abounds
in Torbay at certain, or rather uncertain, times, to so prodigious
an amount, that the dredge, after five minutes' scrape, will
sometimes come up choked full of this great cockle only. You will
see hundreds of them in every cove for miles this day; a seeming
waste of life, which would be awful, in our eyes, were not the
Divine Ruler, as His custom is, making this destruction the means
of fresh creation, by burying them in the sands, as soon as washed
on shore, to fertilize the strata of some future world. It is but
a shell-fish truly; but the great Cuvier thought it remarkable
enough to devote to its anatomy elaborate descriptions and
drawings, which have done more perhaps than any others to
illustrate the curious economy of the whole class of bivalve, or
double-shelled, mollusca. (Plate II. Fig. 3.)

That red capsicum is the foot of the animal contained in the
cockleshell. By its aid it crawls, leaps, and burrows in the sand,
where it lies drinking in the salt water through one of its
siphons, and discharging it again through the other. Put the shell
into a rock pool, or a basin of water, and you will see the siphons
clearly. The valves gape apart some three-quarters of an inch.
The semi-pellucid orange "mantle" fills the intermediate space.
Through that mantle, at the end from which the foot curves, the
siphons protrude; two thick short tubes joined side by side, their
lips fringed with pearly cirri, or fringes; and very beautiful they
are. The larger is always open, taking in the water, which is at
once the animal's food and air, and which, flowing over the
delicate inner surface of the mantle, at once oxygenates its blood,
and fills its stomach with minute particles of decayed organized
matter. The smaller is shut. Wait a minute, and it will open
suddenly and discharge a jet of clear water, which has been robbed,
I suppose, of its oxygen and its organic matter. But, I suppose,
your eyes will be rather attracted by that same scarlet and orange
foot, which is being drawn in and thrust out to a length of nearly
four inches, striking with its point against any opposing object,
and sending the whole shell backwards with a jerk. The point, you
see, is sharp and tongue-like; only flattened, not horizontally,
like a tongue, but perpendicularly, so as to form, as it was
intended, a perfect sand-plough, by which the animal can move at
will, either above or below the surface of the sand. (2)

But for colour and shape, to what shall we compare it? To polished
cornelian, says Mr. Gosse. I say, to one of the great red
capsicums which hang drying in every Covent-garden seedsman's
window. Yet is either simile better than the guess of a certain
lady, who, entering a room wherein a couple of Cardium tuberculatum
were waltzing about a plate, exclaimed, "Oh dear! I always heard
that my pretty red coral came out of a fish, and here it is all

"C. tuberculatum," says Mr. Gosse (who described it from specimens
which I sent him in 1854), "is far the finest species. The valves
are more globose and of a warmer colour; those that I have seen are
even more spinous." Such may have been the case in those I sent:
but it has occurred to me now and then to dredge specimens of C.
aculeatum, which had escaped that rolling on the sand fatal in old
age to its delicate spines, and which equalled in colour, size, and
perfectness the noble one figured in poor dear old Dr. Turton's
"British Bivalves." Besides, aculeatum is a far thinner and more
delicate shell. And a third species, C. echinatum, with curves
more graceful and continuous, is to be found now and then with the
two former. In it, each point, instead of degenerating into a
knot, as in tuberculatum, or developing from delicate flat briar-
prickles into long straight thorns, as in aculeatum, is close-set
to its fellow, and curved at the point transversely to the shell,
the whole being thus horrid with hundreds of strong tenterhooks,
making his castle impregnable to the raveners of the deep. For we
can hardly doubt that these prickles are meant as weapons of
defence, without which so savoury a morsel as the mollusc within
(cooked and eaten largely on some parts of our south coast) would
be a staple article of food for sea-beasts of prey. And it is
noteworthy, first, that the defensive thorns which are permanent on
the two thinner species, aculeatum and echinatum, disappear
altogether on the thicker one, tuberculatum, as old age gives him a
solid and heavy globose shell; and next, that he too, while young
and tender, and liable therefore to be bored through by whelks and
such murderous univalves, does actually possess the same briar-
prickles, which his thinner cousins keep throughout life.
Nevertheless, prickles, in all three species, are, as far as we can
see, useless in Torbay, where no wolf-fish (Anarrhichas lupus) or
other owner of shell-crushing jaws wanders, terrible to lobster and
to cockle. Originally intended, as we suppose, to face the strong-
toothed monsters of the Mediterranean, these foreigners have
wandered northward to shores where their armour is not now needed;
and yet centuries of idleness and security have not been able to
persuade them to lay it by. This - if my explanation is the right
one - is but one more case among hundreds in which peculiarities,
useful doubtless to their original possessors, remain, though now
useless, in their descendants. Just so does the tame ram inherit
the now superfluous horns of his primeval wild ancestors, though he
fights now - if he fights at all - not with his horns, but with his

Enough of Cardium tuberculatum. Now for the other animals of the
heap; and first, for those long white razors. They, as well as the
grey scimitars, are Solens, Razor-fish (Solen siliqua and S.
ensis), burrowers in the sand by that foot which protrudes from one
end, nimble in escaping from the Torquay boys, whom you will see
boring for them with a long iron screw, on the sands at low tide.
They are very good to eat, these razor-fish; at least, for those
who so think them; and abound in millions upon all our sandy
shores. (3)

Now for the tapering brown spires. They are Turritellae, snail-
like animals (though the form of the shell is different), who crawl
and browse by thousands on the beds of Zostera, or grass wrack,
which you see thrown about on the beach, and which grows naturally
in two or three fathoms water. Stay: here is one which is "more
than itself." On its back is mounted a cluster of barnacles
(Balanus Porcatus), of the same family as those which stud the
tide-rocks in millions, scratching the legs of hapless bathers. Of
them, I will speak presently; for I may have a still more curious
member of the family to show you. But meanwhile, look at the mouth
of the shell; a long grey worm protrudes from it, which is not the
rightful inhabitant. He is dead long since, and his place has been
occupied by one Sipunculus Bernhardi; a wight of low degree, who
connects "radiate" with annulate forms - in plain English, sea-
cucumbers (of which we shall see some soon) with sea-worms. But
however low in the scale of comparative anatomy, he has wit enough
to take care of himself; mean ugly little worm as he seems. For
finding the mouth of the Turritella too big for him, he has
plastered it up with sand and mud (Heaven alone knows how), just as
a wry-neck plasters up a hole in an apple-tree when she intends to
build therein, and has left only a round hole, out of which he can
poke his proboscis. A curious thing is this proboscis, when seen
through the magnifier. You perceive a ring of tentacles round the
mouth, for picking up I know not what; and you will perceive, too,
if you watch it, that when he draws it in, he turns mouth,
tentacles and all, inwards, and so down into his stomach, just as
if you were to turn the finger of a glove inward from the tip till
it passed into the hand; and so performs, every time he eats, the
clown's as yet ideal feat, of jumping down his own throat. (4)

So much have we seen on one little shell. But there is more to see
close to it. Those yellow plants which I likened to squirrels'
tails and lobsters' horns, and what not, are zoophytes of different
kinds. Here is Sertularia argentea (true squirrel's tail); here,
S. filicula, as delicate as tangled threads of glass; here,
abietina; here, rosacea. The lobsters' horns are Antennaria
antennina; and mingled with them are Plumulariae, always to be
distinguished from Sertulariae by polypes growing on one side of
the branch, and not on both. Here is falcata, with its roots
twisted round a sea-weed. Here is cristata, on the same weed; and
here is a piece of the beautiful myriophyllum, which has been
battered in its long journey out of the deep water about the ore
rock. For all these you must consult Johnson's "Zoophytes," and
for a dozen smaller species, which you would probably find tangled
among them, or parasitic on the sea-weed. Here are Flustrae, or
sea-mats. This, which smells very like Verbena, is Flustra
coriacea (Pl. I. Fig. 2). That scurf on the frond of ore-weed is
F. lineata (Pl. Fig. 1). The glass bells twined about this
Sertularia are Campanularia syringa (Pl. I. Fig. 9); and here is a
tiny plant of Cellularia ciliata (Pl. I. Fig. 8). Look at it
through the field-glass; for it is truly wonderful. Each polype
cell is edged with whip-like spines, and on the back of some of
them is - what is it, but a live vulture's head, snapping and
snapping - what for?

Nay, reader, I am here to show you what can be seen: but as for
telling you what can be known, much more what cannot, I decline;
and refer you to Johnson's "Zoophytes," wherein you will find that
several species of polypes carry these same birds' heads: but
whether they be parts of the polype, and of what use they are, no
man living knoweth.

Next, what are the striped pears? They are sea-anemones, and of a
species only lately well known, Sagartia viduata, the snake-locked
anemone (Pl. V. Fig. 3(5)). They have been washed off the loose
stones to which they usually adhere by the pitiless roll of the
ground-swell; however, they are not so far gone, but that if you
take one of them home, and put it in a jar of water, it will expand
into a delicate compound flower, which can neither be described nor
painted, of long pellucid tentacles, hanging like a thin bluish
cloud over a disk of mottled brown and grey.

Here, adhering to this large whelk, is another, but far larger and
coarser. It is Sagartia parasitica, one of our largest British
species; and most singular in this, that it is almost always (in
Torbay, at least,) found adhering to a whelk: but never to a live
one; and for this reason. The live whelk (as you may see for
yourself when the tide is out) burrows in the sand in chase of
hapless bivalve shells, whom he bores through with his sharp tongue
(always, cunning fellow, close to the hinge, where the fish is),
and then sucks out their life. Now, if the anemone stuck to him,
it would be carried under the sand daily, to its own disgust. It
prefers, therefore, the dead whelk, inhabited by a soldier crab,
Pagurus Bernhardi (Pl. II. Fig. 2), of which you may find a dozen
anywhere as the tide goes out; and travels about at the crab's
expense, sharing with him the offal which is his food. Note,
moreover, that the soldier crab is the most hasty and blundering of
marine animals, as active as a monkey, and as subject to panics as
a horse; wherefore the poor anemone on his back must have a hard
life of it; being knocked about against rocks and shells, without
warning, from morn to night and night to morn. Against which
danger, kind Nature, ever MAXIMA IN MINIMIS, has provided by
fitting him with a stout leather coat, which she has given, I
believe, to no other of his family.

Next, for the babies' heads, covered with prickles, instead of
hair. They are sea-urchins, Amphidotus cordatus, which burrow by
thousands in the sand. These are of that Spatangoid form, which
you will often find fossil in the chalk, and which shepherd boys
call snakes' heads. We shall soon find another sort, an Echinus,
and have time to talk over these most strange (in my eyes) of all
living animals.

There are a hundred more things to be talked of here: but we must
defer the examination of them till our return; for it wants an hour
yet of the dead low spring-tide; and ere we go home, we will spend
a few minutes at least on the rocks at Livermead, where awaits us a
strong-backed quarryman, with a strong-backed crowbar, as is to be
hoped (for he snapped one right across there yesterday, falling
miserably on his back into a pool thereby), and we will verify Mr.
Gosse's observation, that -

"When once we have begun to look with curiosity on the strange
things that ordinary people pass over without notice, our wonder is
continually excited by the variety of phase, and often by the
uncouthness of form, under which some of the meaner creatures are
presented to us. And this is very specially the case with the
inhabitants of the sea. We can scarcely poke or pry for an hour
among the rocks, at low-water mark, or walk, with an observant
downcast eye, along the beach after a gale, without finding some
oddly-fashioned, suspicious-looking being, unlike any form of life
that we have seen before. The dark concealed interior of the sea
becomes thus invested with a fresh mystery; its vast recesses
appear to be stored with all imaginable forms; and we are tempted
to think there must be multitudes of living creatures whose very
figure and structure have never yet been suspected.

"'O sea! old sea! who yet knows half
Of thy wonders or thy pride!'"
GOSSE'S AQUARIUM, pp. 226, 227.

These words have more than fulfilled themselves since they were
written. Those Deep-Sea dredgings, of which a detailed account
will be found in Dr. Wyville Thomson's new and most beautiful book,
"The Depths of the Sea," have disclosed, of late years, wonders of
the deep even more strange and more multitudinous than the wonders
of the shore. The time is past when we thought ourselves bound to
believe, with Professor Edward Forbes, that only some hundred
fathoms down, the inhabitants of the sea-bottom "become more and
more modified, and fewer and fewer, indicating our approach towards
an abyss where life is either extinguished, or exhibits but a few
sparks to mark it's lingering presence."

Neither now need we indulge in another theory which had a certain
grandeur in it, and was not so absurd as it looks at first sight, -
namely, that, as Dr. Wyville Thomson puts it, picturesquely enough,
"in going down the sea water became, under the pressure, gradually
heavier and heavier, and that all the loose things floated at
different levels, according to their specific weight, - skeletons
of men, anchors and shot and cannon, and last of all the broad gold
pieces lost in the wreck of many a galleon off the Spanish Main;
the whole forming a kind of 'false bottom' to the ocean, beneath
which there lay all the depth of clear still water, which was
heavier than molten gold."

The facts are; first that water, being all but incompressible, is
hardly any heavier, and just as liquid, at the greatest depth, than
at the surface; and that therefore animals can move as freely in it
in deep as in shallow water; and next, that as the fluids inside
the body of a sea animal must be at the same pressure as that of
the water outside it, the two pressures must balance each other;
and the body, instead of being crushed in, may be unconscious that
it is living under a weight of two or three miles of water. But so
it is; as we gather our curiosities at low-tide mark, or haul the
dredge a mile or two out at sea, we may allow our fancy to range
freely out to the westward, and down over the subaqueous cliffs of
the hundred-fathom line, which mark the old shore of the British
Isles, or rather of a time when Britain and Ireland were part of
the continent, through water a mile, and two, and three miles deep,
into total darkness, and icy cold, and a pressure which, in the
open air, would crush any known living creature to a jelly; and be
certain that we shall find the ocean-floor teeming everywhere with
multitudinous life, some of it strangely like, some strangely
unlike, the creatures which we see along the shore.

Some strangely like. You may find, for instance, among the sea-
weed, here and there, a little black sea-spider, a Nymphon, who has
this peculiarity, that possessing no body at all to speak of, he
carries his needful stomach in long branches, packed inside his
legs. The specimens which you will find will probably be half an
inch across the legs. An almost exactly similar Nymphon has been
dredged from the depths of the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, nearly
two feet across.

You may find also a quaint little shrimp, CAPRELLA, clinging by its
hind claws to sea-weed, and waving its gaunt grotesque body to and
fro, while it makes mesmeric passes with its large fore claws, -
one of the most ridiculous of Nature's many ridiculous forms.
Those which you will find will be some quarter of an inch in
length; but in the cold area of the North Atlantic, their cousins,
it is now found, are nearly three inches long, and perch in like
manner, not on sea-weeds, for there are none so deep, but on
branching sponges.

These are but two instances out of many of forms which were
supposed to be peculiar to shallow shores repeating themselves at
vast depths: thus forcing on us strange questions about changes in
the distribution and depth of the ancient seas; and forcing us,
also, to reconsider the old rules by which rocks were distinguished
as deep-sea or shallow-sea deposits according to the fossils found
in them.

As for the new forms, and even more important than them, the
ancient forms, supposed to have been long extinct, and only known
as fossils, till they were lately rediscovered alive in the nether
darkness, - for them you must consult Dr. Wyville Thomson's book,
and the notices of the "Challenger's" dredgings which appear from
time to time in the columns of "Nature;" for want of space forbids
my speaking of them here.

But if you have no time to read "The Depths of the Sea," go at
least to the British Museum, or if you be a northern man, to the
admirable public museum at Liverpool; ask to be shown the deep-sea
forms; and there feast your curiosity and your sense of beauty for
an hour. Look at the Crinoids, or stalked star-fishes, the "Lilies
of living stone," which swarmed in the ancient seas, in vast
variety, and in such numbers that whole beds of limestone are
composed of their disjointed fragments; but which have vanished out
of our modern seas, we know not why, till, a few years since,
almost the only known living species was the exquisite and rare
Pentacrinus asteria, from deep water off the Windward Isles of the
West Indies.

Of this you will see a specimen or two both at Liverpool and in the
British Museum; and near them, probably, specimens of the new-old
Crinoids, discovered of late years by Professor Sars, Mr. Gwyn
Jeffreys, Dr. Carpenter, Dr. Wyville Thomson, and the other deep-
sea disciples of the mythic Glaucus, the fisherman, who, enamoured
of the wonders of the sea, plunged into the blue abyss once and for
all, and became himself "the blue old man of the sea."

Next look at the corals, and Gorgonias, and all the sea-fern tribe
of branching polypidoms, and last, but not least, at the glass
sponges; first at the Euplectella, or Venus's flower-basket, which
lives embedded in the mud of the seas of the Philippines, supported
by a glass frill "standing up round it like an Elizabethan ruff."
Twenty years ago there was but one specimen in Europe: now you may
buy one for a pound in any curiosity shop. I advise you to do so,
and to keep - as I have seen done - under a glass case, as a
delight to your eyes, one of the most exquisite, both for form and
texture, of natural objects.

Then look at the Hyalonemas, or glass-rope ocean floor by a twisted
wisp of strong flexible flint needles, somewhat on the principle of
a screw-pile. So strange and complicated is their structure, that
naturalists for a long while could literally make neither head nor
tail of them, as long as they had only Japanese specimens to study,
some of which the Japanese dealers had, of malice prepense, stuck
upside down into Pholas-borings in stones. Which was top and which
bottom; which the thing itself, and which special parasites growing
on it; whether it was a sponge, or a zoophyte, or something else;
at one time even whether it was natural, or artificial and a make-
up, - could not be settled, even till a year or two since. But the
discovery of the same, or a similar, species in abundance from the
Butt of the Lows down to Setubal on the Portuguese coast, where the
deep-water shark fishers call it "sea-whip," has given our savants
specimens enough to make up their minds - that they really know
little or nothing about it, and probably will never know.

And do not forget, lastly, to ask, whether at Liverpool or at the
British Museum, for the Holtenias and their congeners, - hollow
sponges built up of glassy spicules, and rooted in the mud by glass
hairs, in some cases between two and three feet long, as flexible
and graceful as tresses of snow-white silk.

Look at these, and a hundred kindred forms, and then see how nature
is not only "maxima in minimis" - greatest in her least, but often
"pulcherrima in abditis" - fairest in her most hidden works; and
how the Creative Spirit has lavished, as it were, unspeakable
artistic skill on lowly-organized creature, never till now beheld
by man, and buried, not only in foul mud, but in their own
unsightly heap of living jelly.

But so it was from the beginning; - and this planet was not made
for man alone. Countless ages before we appeared on earth the
depths of the old chalk-ocean teemed with forms as beautiful and
perfect as those, their lineal descendants, which the dredge now
brings up from the Atlantic sea-floor; and if there were - as my
reason tells me that there must have been - final moral causes for
their existence, the only ones which we have a right to imagine are
these - that all, down to the lowest Rhizopod, might delight
themselves, however dimly, in existing; and that the Lord might
delight Himself in them.

Thus, much - alas! how little - about the wonders of the deep. We,
who are no deep-sea dredgers, must return humbly to the wonders of
the shore. And first, as after descending the gap in the sea-wall
we walk along the ribbed floor of hard yellow sand, let me ask you
to give a sharp look-out for a round grey disc, about as big as a
penny-piece, peeping out on the surface. No; that is not it, that
little lump: open it, and you will find within one of the common
little Venus gallina. - The closet collectors have given it some
new name now, and no thanks to them: they are always changing the
names, instead of studying the live animals where Nature has put
them, in which case they would have no time for word-inventing.
Nay, I verify suspect that the names grow, like other things; at
least, they get longer and longer and more jaw-breaking every year.
The little bivalve, however, finding itself left by the tide, has
wisely shut up its siphons, and, by means of its foot and its
edges, buried itself in a comfortable bath of cool wet sand, till
the sea shall come back, and make it safe to crawl and lounge about
on the surface, smoking the sea-water instead of tobacco. Neither
is that depression what we seek. Touch it, and out poke a pair of
astonished and inquiring horns: it is a long-armed crab, who saw
us coming, and wisely shovelled himself into the sand by means of
his nether-end. Corystes Cassivelaunus is his name, which he is
said to have acquired from the marks on his back, which are
somewhat like a human face. "Those long antennae," says my friend,
Mr. Lloyd (6) - I have not verified the fact, but believe it, as he
knows a great deal about crabs, and I know next to nothing - "form
a tube through which a current of water passes into the crab's
gills, free from the surrounding sand." Moreover, it is only the
male who has those strangely long fore-arms and claws; the female
contenting herself with limbs of a more moderate length. Neither
is that, though it might be, the hole down which what we seek has
vanished: but that burrow contains one of the long white razors
which you saw cast on shore at Paignton. The boys close by are
boring for them with iron rods armed with a screw, and taking them
in to sell in Torquay market, as excellent food. But there is one,
at last - a grey disc pouting up through the sand. Touch it, and
it is gone down, quick as light. We must dig it out, and
carefully, for it is a delicate monster. At last, after ten
minutes' careful work, we have brought up, from a foot depth or
more - what? A thick, dirty, slimy worm, without head or tail,
form or colour. A slug has more artistic beauty about him. Be it
so. At home in the aquarium (where, alas! he will live but for a
day or two, under the new irritation of light) he will make a very
different figure. That is one of the rarest of British sea-
animals, Peachia hastata (Pl. XII. Fig. 1), which differs from most
other British Actiniae in this, that instead of having like them a
walking disc, it has a free open lower end, with which (I know not
how) it buries itself upright in the sand, with its mouth just
above the surface. The figure on the left of the plate represents
a curious cluster of papillae which project from one side of the
mouth, and are the opening of the oviduct. But his value consists,
not merely in his beauty (though that, really, is not small), but
in his belonging to what the long word-makers call an
"interosculant" group, - a party of genera and species which
connect families scientifically far apart, filling up a fresh link
in the great chain, or rather the great network, of zoological
classification. For here we have a simple, and, as it were, crude
form; of which, if we dared to indulge in reveries, we might say
that the Creative Mind realized it before either Actiniae or
Holothurians, and then went on to perfect the idea contained in it
in two different directions; dividing it into two different
families, and making on its model, by adding new organs, and taking
away old ones, in one direction the whole family of Actiniae (sea-
anemones), and in a quite opposite one the Holothuriae, those
strange sea-cucumbers, with their mouth-fringe of feathery gills,
of which you shall see some anon. Thus there has been, in the
Creative Mind, as it gave life to new species, a development of the
idea on which older species were created, in order - we may fancy -
that every mesh of the great net might gradually be supplied, and
there should be no gaps in the perfect variety of Nature's forms.
This development is one which we must believe to be at least
possible, if we allow that a Mind presides over the universe, and
not a mere brute necessity, a Law (absurd misnomer) without a
Lawgiver; and to it (strangely enough coinciding here and there
with the Platonic doctrine of Eternal Ideas existing in the Divine
Mind) all fresh inductive discovery seems to point more and more.

Let me speak freely a few words on this important matter. Geology
has disproved the old popular belief that the universe was brought
into being as it now exists by a single fiat. We know that the
work has been gradual; that the earth

"In tracts of fluent heat began,
The seeming prey of cyclic storms,
The home of seeming random forms,
Till, at the last, arose the man."

And we know, also, that these forms, "seeming random" as they are,
have appeared according to a law which, as far as we can judge, has
been on the whole one of progress, - lower animals (though we
cannot yet say, the lowest) appearing first, and man, the highest
mammal, "the roof and crown of things," one of the latest in the
series. We have no more right, let it be observed, to say that
man, the highest, appeared last, than that the lowest appeared
first. It was probably so, in both cases; but there is as yet no
positive proof of either; and as we know that species of animals
lower than those which already existed appeared again and again
during the various eras, so it is quite possible that they may be
appearing now, and may appear hereafter: and that for every
extinct Dodo or Moa, a new species may be created, to keep up the
equilibrium of the whole. This is but a surmise: but it may be
wise, perhaps, just now, to confess boldly, even to insist on, its
possibility, lest any should fancy, from our unwillingness to allow
it, that there would be ought in it, if proved, contrary to sound

I am, I must honestly confess, more and more unable to perceive
anything which an orthodox Christian may not hold, in those
physical theories of "evolution," which are gaining more and more
the assent of our best zoologists and botanists. All that they ask
us to believe is, that "species" and "families," and indeed the
whole of organic nature, have gone through, and may still be going
through, some such development from a lowest germ, as we know that
every living individual, from the lowest zoophyte to man himself,
does actually go through. They apply to the whole of the living
world, past, present, and future, the law which is undeniably at
work on each individual of it. They may be wrong, or they may be
right: but what is there in such a conception contrary to any
doctrine - at least of the Church of England? To say that this
cannot be true; that species cannot vary, because God, at the
beginning, created each thing "according to its kind," is really to
beg the question; which is - Does the idea of "kind" include
variability or not? and if so, how much variability? Now, "kind,"
or "species," as we call it, is defined nowhere in the Bible. What
right have we to read our own definition into the word? - and that
against the certain fact, that some "kinds" do vary, and that
widely, - mankind, for instance, and the animals and plants which
he domesticates. Surely that latter fact should be significant, to
those who believe, as I do, that man was created in the likeness of
God. For if man has the power, not only of making plants and
animals vary, but of developing them into forms of higher beauty
and usefulness than their wild ancestors possessed, why should not
the God in whose image he is made possess the same power? If the
old theological rule be true - "There is nothing in man which was
not first in God" (sin, of course, excluded) - then why should not
this imperfect creative faculty in man be the very guarantee that
God possesses it in perfection?

Such at least is the conclusion of one who, studying certain
families of plants, which indulge in the most fantastic varieties
of shape and size, and yet through all their vagaries retain - as
do the Palms, the Orchids, the Euphorbiaceae - one organ, or form
of organs, peculiar and highly specialized, yet constant throughout
the whole of each family, has been driven to the belief that each
of these three families, at least, has "sported off" from one
common ancestor - one archetypal Palm, one archetypal Orchid, one
archetypal Euphorbia, simple, it may be, in itself, but endowed
with infinite possibilities of new and complex beauty, to be
developed, not in it, but in its descendants. He has asked
himself, sitting alone amid the boundless wealth of tropic forests,
whether even then and there the great God might not be creating
round him, slowly but surely, new forms of beauty? If he chose to
do it, could He not do it? That man found himself none the worse
Christian for the thought. He has said - and must be allowed to
say again, for he sees no reason to alter his words - in speaking
of the wonderful variety of forms in the Euphorbiaceae, from the
weedy English Euphorbias, the Dog's Mercuries, and the Box, to the
prickly-stemmed Scarlet Euphorbia of Madagascar, the succulent
Cactus-like Euphorbias of the Canaries and elsewhere; the Gale-like
Phyllanthus; the many-formed Crotons; the Hemp-like Maniocs,
Physic-nuts, Castor-oils, the scarlet Poinsettia, the little pink
and yellow Dalechampia, the poisonous Manchineel, and the gigantic
Hura, or sandbox tree, of the West Indies, - all so different in
shape and size, yet all alike in their most peculiar and complex
fructification, and in their acrid milky juice,- "What if all these
forms are the descendants of one original form? Would that be one
whit the more wonderful than the theory that they were, each and
all, with the minute, and often imaginary, shades of difference
between certain cognate species among them, created separately and
at once? But if it be so - which I cannot allow - what would the
theologian have to say, save that God's works are even more
wonderful than he always believed them to be? As for the theory
being impossible - that is to be decided by men of science, on
strict experimental grounds. As for us theologians, who are we,
that we should limit, … priori, the power of God? 'Is anything too
hard for the Lord?' asked the prophet of old; and we have a right
to ask it as long as the world shall last. If it be said that
'natural selection,' or, as Mr. Herbert Spencer better defines it,
the 'survival of the fittest,' is too simple a cause to produce
such fantastic variety - that, again, is a question to be settled
exclusively by men of science, on their own grounds. We,
meanwhile, always knew that God works by very simple, or seemingly
simple, means; that the universe, as far as we could discern it,
was one organization of the most simple means. It was wonderful -
or should have been - in our eyes, that a shower of rain should
make the grass grow, and that the grass should become flesh, and
the flesh food for the thinking brain of man. It was - or ought to
have been - more wonderful yet to us that a child should resemble
its parents, or even a butterfly resemble, if not always, still
usually, its parents likewise. Ought God to appear less or more
august in our eyes if we discover that the means are even simpler
than we supposed? We held Him to be Almighty and All-wise. Are we
to reverence Him less or more if we find Him to be so much
mightier, so much wiser, than we dreamed, that He can not only make
all things, but - the very perfection of creative power - MAKE ALL
THINGS MAKE THEMSELVES? We believed that His care was over all His
works; that His providence worked perpetually over the universe.
We were taught - some of us at least - by Holy Scripture, that
without Him not a sparrow fell to the ground, and that the very
hairs of our head were all numbered; that the whole history of the
universe was made up, in fact, of an infinite network of special
providences. If, then, that should be true which a great
naturalist writes, 'It may be metaphorically said that natural
selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world,
every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad,
preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly
working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the
improvement of each organic being, in relation to its organic and
inorganic conditions of life,' - if this, I say, were proved to be
true, ought God's care and God's providence to seem less or more
magnificent in our eyes? Of old it was said by Him without whom
nothing is made - 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.' Shall
we quarrel with physical science, if she gives us evidence that
those words are true?"

And - understand it well - the grand passage I have just quoted
need not be accused of substituting "natural selection for God."
In any case natural selection would be only the means or law by
which God works, as He does by other natural laws. We do not
substitute gravitation for God, when we say that the planets are
sustained in their orbits by the law of gravitation. The theory
about natural selection may be untrue, or imperfect, as may the
modern theories of the "evolution and progress" of organic forms:
let the man of science decide that. But if true, the theories seem
to me perfectly to agree with, and may be perfectly explained by,
the simple old belief which the Bible sets before us, of a LIVING
GOD: not a mere past will, such as the Koran sets forth, creating
once and for all, and then leaving the universe, to use Goethe's
simile, "to spin round his finger;" nor again, an "all-pervading
spirit," words which are mere contradictory jargon, concealing,
from those who utter them, blank Materialism: but One who works in
all things which have obeyed Him to will and to do of His good
pleasure, keeping His abysmal and self-perfect purpose, yet
altering the methods by which that purpose is attained, from aeon
to aeon, ay, from moment to moment, for ever various, yet for ever
the same. This great and yet most blessed paradox of the
Changeless God, who yet can say "It repenteth me," and "Behold, I
work a new thing on the earth," is revealed no less by nature than
by Scripture; the changeableness, not of caprice or imperfection,
but of an Infinite Maker and "Poietes," drawing ever fresh forms
out of the inexhaustible treasury of His primaeval Mind; and yet
never throwing away a conception to which He has once given actual
birth in time and space, (but to compare reverently small things
and great) lovingly repeating it, re-applying it; producing the
same effects by endlessly different methods; or so delicately
modifying the method that, as by the turn of a hair, it shall
produce endlessly diverse effects; looking back, as it were, ever
and anon over the great work of all the ages, to retouch it, and
fill up each chasm in the scheme, which for some good purpose had
been left open in earlier worlds; or leaving some open (the forms,
for instance, necessary to connect the bimana and the quadrumana)
to be filled up perhaps hereafter when the world needs them; the
handiwork, in short, of a living and loving Mind, perfect in His
own eternity, but stooping to work in time and space, and there
rejoicing Himself in the work of His own hands, and in His eternal
Sabbaths ceasing in rest ineffable, that He may look on that which
He hath made, and behold it is very good.

I speak, of course, under correction; for this conclusion is
emphatically matter of induction, and must be verified or modified
by ever-fresh facts: but I meet with many a Christian passage in
scientific books, which seems to me to go, not too far, but rather
not far enough, in asserting the God of the Bible, as Saint Paul
says, "not to have left Himself without witness," in nature itself,
that He is the God of grace. Why speak of the God of nature and
the God of grace as two antithetical terms? The Bible never, in a
single instance, makes the distinction; and surely, if God be (as
He is) the Eternal and Unchangeable One, and if (as we all confess)
the universe bears the impress of His signet, we have no right, in
the present infantile state of science, to put arbitrary limits of
our own to the revelation which He may have thought good to make of
Himself in nature. Nay, rather, let us believe that, if our eyes
were opened, we should fulfil the requirement of Genius, to "see
the universal in the particular," by seeing God's whole likeness,
His whole glory, reflected as in a mirror even in the meanest
flower; and that nothing but the dulness of our own souls prevents
them from seeing day and night in all things, however small or
trivial to human eclecticism, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself
fulfilling His own saying, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I

To me it seems (to sum up, in a few words, what I have tried to
say) that such development and progress as have as yet been
actually discovered in nature, bear every trace of having been
produced by successive acts of thought and will in some personal
mind; which, however boundlessly rich and powerful, is still the
Archetype of the human mind; and therefore (for to this I confess I
have been all along tending) probably capable, without violence to
its properties, of becoming, like the human mind, incarnate.

But to descend from these perhaps too daring speculations, there is
another, and more human, source of interest about the animal who is
writhing feebly in the glass jar of salt water; for he is one of
the many curiosities which have been added to our fauna by that
humble hero Mr. Charles Peach, the self-taught naturalist, of whom,
as we walk on toward the rocks, something should be said, or rather
read; for Mr. Chambers, in an often-quoted passage from his
Edinburgh Journal, which I must have the pleasure of quoting once
again, has told the story better than we can tell it:-

"But who is that little intelligent-looking man in a faded naval
uniform, who is so invariably to be seen in a particular central
seat in this section? That, gentle reader, is perhaps one of the
most interesting men who attend the British Association. He is
only a private in the mounted guard (preventive service) at an
obscure part of the Cornwall coast, with four shillings a day, and
a wife and nine children, most of whose education he has himself to
conduct. He never tastes the luxuries which are so common in the
middle ranks of life, and even amongst a large portion of the
working classes. He has to mend with his own hands every sort of
thing that can break or wear in his house. Yet Mr. Peach is a
votary of Natural History; not a student of the science in books,
for he cannot afford books; but an investigator by sea and shore, a
collector of Zoophytes and Echinodermata - strange creatures, many
of which are as yet hardly known to man. These he collects,
preserves, and describes; and every year does he come up to the
British Association with a few novelties of this kind, accompanied
by illustrative papers and drawings: thus, under circumstances the
very opposite of those of such men as Lord Enniskillen, adding, in
like manner, to the general stock of knowledge. On the present
occasion he is unusually elated, for he has made the discovery of a
Holothuria with twenty tentacula, a species of the Echinodermata
which Professor Forbes, in his book on Star-Fishes, has said was
never yet observed in the British seas. It may be of small moment
to you, who, mayhap, know nothing of Holothurias: but it is a
considerable thing to the Fauna of Britain, and a vast matter to a
poor private of the Cornwall mounted guard. And accordingly he
will go home in a few days, full of the glory of his exhibition,
and strong anew by the kind notice taken of him by the masters of
the science, to similar inquiries, difficult as it may be to
prosecute them, under such a complication of duties, professional
and domestic. Honest Peach! humble as is thy home, and simple thy
bearing, thou art an honour even to this assemblage of nobles and
doctors: nay, more, when we consider everything, thou art an
honour to human nature itself; for where is the heroism like that
of virtuous, intelligent, independent poverty? And such heroism is
thine!" - CHAMBERS' EDIN. JOURN., Nov. 23, 1844.

Mr. Peach has been since rewarded in part for his long labours in
the cause of science, by having been removed to a more lucrative
post on the north coast of Scotland; the earnest, it is to be
hoped, of still further promotion.

I mentioned just now Synapta; or, as Montagu called it, Chirodota:
a much better name, and, I think, very uselessly changed; for
Chirodota expresses the peculiarity of the beast, which consists in
- start not, reader - twelve hands, like human hands, while Synapta
expresses merely its power of clinging to the fingers, which it
possesses in common with many other animals. It is, at least, a
beast worth talking about; as for finding one, I fear that we have
no chance of such good fortune.

Colonel Montagu found them here some forty years ago; and after
him, Mr. Alder, in 1845. I found hundreds of them, but only once,
in 1854 after a heavy south-eastern gale, washed up among the great
Lutrariae in a cove near Goodrington; but all my dredging outside
failed to procure a specimen - Mr. Alder, however, and Mr. Cocks
(who find everything, and will at last certainly catch Midgard, the
great sea-serpent, as Thor did, by baiting for him with a bull's
head), have dredged them in great numbers; the former, at Helford
in Cornwall, the latter on the west coast of Scotland. It seems,
however, to be a southern monster, probably a remnant, like the
great cockle, of the Mediterranean fauna; for Mr. MacAndrew finds
them plentifully in Vigo Bay, and J. Mller in the Adriatic, off

But what is it like? Conceive a very fat short earth-worm; not
ringed, though, like the earth-worm, but smooth and glossy, dappled
with darker spots, especially on one side, which may be the upper
one. Put round its mouth twelve little arms, on each a hand with
four ragged fingers, and on the back of the hand a stump of a
thumb, and you have Synapta Digitata (Plates IV. and V., from my
drawings of the live animal). These hands it puts down to its
mouth, generally in alternate pairs, but how it obtains its food by
them is yet a mystery, for its intestines are filled, like an
earth-worm's, with the mud in which it lives, and from which it
probably extracts (as does the earth-worm) all organic matters.

You will find it stick to your fingers by the whole skin, causing,
if your hand be delicate, a tingling sensation; and if you examine
the skin under the microscope, you will find the cause. The whole
skin is studded with minute glass anchors, some hanging freely from
the surface, but most imbedded in the skin. Each of these anchors
is jointed at its root into one end of a curious cribriform plate,
- in plain English, one pierced like a sieve, which lies under the
skin, and reminds one of the similar plates in the skin of the
White Cucumaria, which I will show you presently; and both of these
we must regard as the first rudiments of an Echinoderm's outside
skeleton, such as in the Sea-urchins covers the whole body of the
animal. (See on Echinus Millaris, p. 89.) (7) Somewhat similar
anchor-plates, from a Red Sea species, Synapta Vittata, may be seen
in any collection of microscopic objects.

The animal, when caught, has a strange habit of self-destruction,

Book of the day: