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Glaucus; or The Wonders of the Shore by Charles Kingsley

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contracting its skin at two or three different points, and writhing
till it snaps itself into "junks," as the sailors would say, and
then dies. My specimens, on breaking up, threw out from the
wounded part long "ovarian filaments" (whatsoever those may be),
similar to those thrown out by many of the Sagartian anemones,
especially S. parasitica. Beyond this, I can tell you nothing
about Synapta, and only ask you to consider its hands, as an
instance of that fantastic play of Nature which repeats, in
families widely different, organs of similar form, though perhaps
of by no means similar use; nay, sometimes (as in those beautiful
clear-wing hawk-moths which you, as they hover round the
rhododendrons, mistake for bumble-bees) repeats the outward form of
a whole animal, for no conceivable reason save her - shall we not
say honestly His? - own good pleasure.

But here we are at the old bank of boulders, the ruins of an
antique pier which the monks of Tor Abbey built for their
convenience, while Torquay was but a knot of fishing huts within a
lonely limestone cove. To get to it, though, we have passed many a
hidden treasure; for every ledge of these flat New-red-sandstone
rocks, if torn up with the crowbar, discloses in its cracks and
crannies nests of strange forms which shun the light of day;
beautiful Actiniae fill the tiny caverns with living flowers; great
Pholades (Plate X. figs. 3, 4) bore by hundreds in the softer
strata; and wherever a thin layer of muddy sand intervenes between
two slabs, long Annelid worms of quaintest forms and colours have
their horizontal burrows, among those of that curious and rare
radiate animal, the Spoonworm, (8) an eyeless bag about an inch
long, half bluish grey, half pink, with a strange scalloped and
wrinkled proboscis of saffron colour, which serves, in some
mysterious way, soft as it is, to collect food, and clear its dark
passage through the rock.

See, at the extreme low-water mark, where the broad olive fronds of
the Laminariae, like fan-palms, droop and wave gracefully in the
retiring ripples, a great boulder which will serve our purpose.
Its upper side is a whole forest of sea-weeds, large and small; and
that forest, if you examined it closely, as full of inhabitants as
those of the Amazon or the Gambia. To "beat" that dense cover
would be an endless task: but on the under side, where no sea-
weeds grow, we shall find full in view enough to occupy us till the
tide returns. For the slab, see, is such a one as sea-beasts love
to haunt. Its weed-covered surface shows that the surge has not
shifted it for years past. It lies on other boulders clear of sand
and mud, so that there is no fear of dead sea-weed having lodged
and decayed under it, destructive to animal life. We can see dark
crannies and caves beneath; yet too narrow to allow the surge to
wash in, and keep the surface clean. It will be a fine menagerie
of Nereus, if we can but turn it.

Now the crowbar is well under it; heave, and with a will; and so,
after five minutes' tugging, propping, slipping, and splashing, the
boulder gradually tips over, and we rush greedily upon the spoil.

A muddy dripping surface it is, truly, full of cracks and hollows,
uninviting enough at first sight: let us look it round leisurely,
to see if there are not materials enough there for an hour's

The first object which strikes the eye is probably a group of milk-
white slugs, from two to six inches long, cuddling snugly together
(Plate IX. fig. 1). You try to pull them off, and find that they
give you some trouble, such a firm hold have the delicate white
sucking arms, which fringe each of their five edges. You see at
the head nothing but a yellow dimple; for eating and breathing are
suspended till the return of tide; but once settled in a jar of
salt-water, each will protrude a large chocolate-coloured head,
tipped with a ring of ten feathery gills, looking very much like a
head of "curled kale," but of the loveliest white and primrose; in
the centre whereof lies perdu a mouth with sturdy teeth - if indeed
they, as well as the whole inside of the beast, have not been
lately got rid of, and what you see be not a mere bag, without
intestine or other organ: but only for the time being. For hear
it, worn-out epicures, and old Indians who bemoan your livers, this
little Holothuria knows a secret which, if he could tell it, you
would be glad to buy of him for thousands sterling. To him blue
pill and muriatic acid are superfluous, and travels to German
Brunnen a waste of time. Happy Holothuria! who possesses really
the secret of everlasting youth, which ancient fable bestowed on
the serpent and the eagle. For when his teeth ache, or his
digestive organs trouble him, all he has to do is just to cast up
forthwith his entire inside, and, faisant maigre for a month or so,
grow a fresh set, and then eat away as merrily as ever. His name,
if you wish to consult so triumphant a hygeist, is Cucumaria
Pentactes: but he has many a stout cousin round the Scotch coast,
who knows the antibilious panacea as well as he, and submits, among
the northern fishermen, to the rather rude and undeserved name of
sea-puddings; one of which grows in Shetland to the enormous length
of three feet, rivalling there his huge congeners, who display
their exquisite plumes on every tropic coral reef. (9)

Next, what are those bright little buds, like salmon-coloured
Banksia roses half expanded, sitting closely on the stone? Touch
them; the soft part is retracted, and the orange flower of flesh is
transformed into a pale pink flower of stone. That is the
Madrepore, Caryophyllia Smithii (Plate V. fig. 2); one of our south
coast rarities: and see, on the lip of the last one, which we have
carefully scooped off with the chisel, two little pink towers of
stone, delicately striated; drop them into this small bottle of
sea-water, and from the top of each tower issues every half-second
- what shall we call it? - a hand or a net of finest hairs,
clutching at something invisible to our grosser sense. That is the
Pyrgoma, parasitic only (as far as we know) on the lip of this same
rare Madrepore; a little "cirrhipod," the cousin of those tiny
barnacles which roughen every rock (a larger sort whereof I showed
you on the Turritella), and of those larger ones also who burrow in
the thick hide of the whale, and, borne about upon his mighty
sides, throw out their tiny casting nets, as this Pyrgoma does, to
catch every passing animalcule, and sweep them into the jaws
concealed within its shell. And this creature, rooted to one spot
through life and death, was in its infancy a free swimming animal,
hovering from place to place upon delicate ciliae, till, having
sown its wild oats, it settled down in life, built itself a good
stone house, and became a landowner, or rather a glebae adscriptus,
for ever and a day. Mysterious destiny! - yet not so mysterious as
that of the free medusoid young of every polype and coral, which
ends as a rooted tree of horn or stone, and seems to the eye of
sensuous fancy to have literally degenerated into a vegetable. Of
them you must read for yourself in Mr. Gosse's book; in the
meanwhile he shall tell you something of the beautiful Madrepores
themselves. His description, (10) by far the best yet published,
should be read in full; we must content ourselves with extracts.

"Doubtless you are familiar with the stony skeleton of our
Madrepore, as it appears in museums. It consists of a number of
thin calcareous plates standing up edgewise, and arranged in a
radiating manner round a low centre. A little below the margin
their individuality is lost in the deposition of rough calcareous
matter. . . . The general form is more or less cylindrical,
commonly wider at top than just above the bottom. . . . This is but
the skeleton; and though it is a very pretty object, those who are
acquainted with it alone, can form but a very poor idea of the
beauty of the living animal. . . . Let it, after being torn from
the rock, recover its equanimity; then you will see a pellucid
gelatinous flesh emerging from between the plates, and little
exquisitely formed and coloured tentacula, with white clubbed tips
fringing the sides of the cup-shaped cavity in the centre, across
which stretches the oval disc marked with a star of some rich and
brilliant colour, surrounding the central mouth, a slit with white
crenated lips, like the orifice of one of those elegant cowry
shells which we put upon our mantelpieces. The mouth is always
more or less prominent, and can be protruded and expanded to an
astonishing extent. The space surrounding the lips is commonly
fawn colour, or rich chestnut-brown; the star or vandyked circle
rich red, pale vermilion, and sometimes the most brilliant emerald
green, as brilliant as the gorget of a humming-bird."

And what does this exquisitely delicate creature do with its pretty
mouth? Alas for fact! It sips no honey-dew, or fruits from
paradise. - "I put a minute spider, as large as a pin's head, into
the water, pushing it down to the coral. The instant it touched
the tip of a tentacle, it adhered, and was drawn in with the
surrounding tentacles between the plates. With a lens I saw the
small mouth slowly open, and move over to that side, the lips
gaping unsymmetrically; while with a movement as imperceptible as
that of the hour hand of a watch, the tiny prey was carried along
between the plates to the corner of the mouth. The mouth, however,
moved most, and at length reached the edges of the plates,
gradually closed upon the insect, and then returned to its usual
place in the centre."

Mr. Gosse next tried the fairy of the walking mouth with a house-
fly, who escaped only by hard fighting; and at last the gentle
creature, after swallowing and disgorging various large pieces of
shell-fish, found viands to its taste in "the lean of cooked meat
and portions of earthworms," filling up the intervals by a
perpetual dessert of microscopic animalcules, whirled into that
lovely avernus, its mouth, by the currents of the delicate ciliae
which clothe every tentacle. The fact is, that the Madrepore, like
those glorious sea-anemones whose living flowers stud every pool,
is by profession a scavenger and a feeder on carrion; and being as
useful as he is beautiful, really comes under the rule which he
seems at first to break, that handsome is who handsome does.

Another species of Madrepore (11) was discovered on our Devon coast
by Mr. Gosse, more gaudy, though not so delicate in hue as our
Caryophyllia. Mr. Gosse's locality, for this and numberless other
curiosities, is Ilfracombe, on the north coast of Devon. My
specimens came from Lundy Island, in the mouth of the Bristol
Channel, or more properly from that curious "Rat Island" to the
south of it, where still lingers the black long-tailed English rat,
exterminated everywhere else by his sturdier brown cousin of the
Hanoverian dynasty.

Look, now, at these tiny saucers of the thinnest ivory, the largest
not bigger than a silver threepence, which contain in their centres
a milk-white crust of stone, pierced, as you see under the
magnifier, into a thousand cells, each with its living architect
within. Here are two kinds: in one the tubular cells radiate from
the centre, giving it the appearance of a tiny compound flower,
daisy or groundsel; in the other they are crossed with waving
grooves, giving the whole a peculiar fretted look, even more
beautiful than that of the former species. They are Tubulipora
patina and Tubulipora hispida; - and stay - break off that tiny
rough red wart, and look at its cells also under the magnifier: it
is Cellepora pumicosa; and now, with the Madrepore, you hold in
your hand the principal, at least the commonest, British types of
those famed coral insects, which in the tropics are the architects
of continents, and the conquerors of the ocean surge. All the
world, since the publication of Darwin's delightful "Voyage of the
Beagle,"' and of Williams' "Missionary Enterprises," knows, or
ought to know, enough about them: for those who do not, there are
a few pages in the beginning of Dr. Landsborough's "British
Zoophytes," well worth perusal.

There are a few other true cellepore corals round the coast. The
largest of all, Cervicornis, may be dredged a few miles outside on
the Exmouth bank, with a few more Tubulipores: but all tiny
things, the lingering and, as it were, expiring remnants of that
great coral-world which, through the abysmal depths of past ages,
formed here in Britain our limestone hills, storing up for
generations yet unborn the materials of agriculture and
architecture. Inexpressibly interesting, even solemn, to those who
will think, is the sight of those puny parasites which, as it were,
connect the ages and the aeons: yet not so solemn and full of
meaning as that tiny relic of an older world, the little pear-
shaped Turbinolia (cousin of the Madrepores and Sea-anemones),
found fossil in the Suffolk Crag, and yet still lingering here and
there alive in the deep water of Scilly and the west coast of
Ireland, possessor of a pedigree which dates, perhaps, from ages
before the day in which it was said, "Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness." To think that the whole human race, its joys
and its sorrows, its virtues and its sins, its aspirations and its
failures, has been rushing out of eternity and into eternity again,
as Arjoon in the Bhagavad Gita beheld the race of men issuing from
Kreeshna's flaming mouth, and swallowed up in it again, "as the
crowds of insects swarm into the flame, as the homeless streams
leap down into the ocean bed," in an everlasting heart-pulse whose
blood is living souls - and all that while, and ages before that
mystery began, that humble coral, unnoticed on the dark sea-floor,
has been "continuing as it was at the beginning," and fulfilling
"the law which cannot be broken," while races and dynasties and
generations have been

"Playing such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep."

Yes; it is this vision of the awful permanence and perfection of
the natural world, beside the wild flux and confusion, the mad
struggles, the despairing cries of the world of spirits which man
has defiled by sin, which would at moments crush the naturalist's
heart, and make his brain swim with terror, were it not that he can
see by faith, through all the abysses and the ages, not merely

" Hands,
From out the darkness, shaping man;"

but above them a living loving countenance, human and yet Divine;
and can hear a voice which said at first, "Let us make man in our
image;" and hath said since then, and says for ever and for ever,
"Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world."

But now, friend, who listenest, perhaps instructed, and at least
amused - if, as Professor Harvey well says, the simpler animals
represent, as in a glass, the scattered organs of the higher races,
which of your organs is represented by that "sca'd man's head,"
which the Devon children more gracefully, yet with less adherence
to plain likeness, call "mermaid's head," (12) which we picked up
just now on Paignton Sands? Or which, again, by its more beautiful
little congener, (13) five or six of which are adhering tightly to
the slab before us, a ball covered with delicate spines of lilac
and green, and stuck over (cunning fellows!) with stripes of dead
sea-weed to serve as improvised parasols? One cannot say that in
him we have the first type of the human skull: for the
resemblance, quaint as it is, is only sensuous and accidental, (in
the logical use of that term,) and not homological, I.E. a lower
manifestation of the same idea. Yet how is one tempted to say,
that this was Nature's first and lowest attempt at that use of
hollow globes of mineral for protecting soft fleshy parts, which
she afterwards developed to such perfection in the skulls of
vertebrate animals! But even that conceit, pretty as it sounds,
will not hold good; for though Radiates similar to these were among
the earliest tenants of the abyss, yet as early as their time,
perhaps even before them, had been conceived and actualized, in the
sharks, and in Mr. Hugh Miller's pets the old red sandstone fishes,
that very true vertebrate skull and brain, of which this is a mere
mockery. (14) Here the whole animal, with his extraordinary
feeding mill, (for neither teeth nor jaws is a fit word for it,) is
enclosed within an ever-growing limestone castle, to the
architecture of which the Eddystone and the Crystal Palace are
bungling heaps; without arms or legs, eyes or ears, and yet
capable, in spite of his perpetual imprisonment, of walking,
feeding, and breeding, doubt it not, merrily enough. But this
result has been attained at the expense of a complication of
structure, which has baffled all human analysis and research into
final causes. As much concerning this most miraculous of families
as is needful to be known, and ten times more than you are likely
to understand, may be read in Harvey's "Sea-Side Book," pp. 142-
148, - pages from which you will probably arise with a sense of the
infinity and complexity of Nature, even in what we are pleased to
call her "lower" forms, and the simplest and, as it were, easiest
forms of life. Conceive a Crystal Palace, (for mere difference in
size, as both the naturalist and the metaphysician know, has
nothing to do with the wonder,) whereof each separate joist,
girder, and pane grows continually without altering the shape of
the whole; and you have conceived only one of the miracles embodied
in that little sea-egg, which the Creator has, as it were, to
justify to man His own immutability, furnished with a shell capable
of enduring fossil for countless ages, that we may confess Him to
have been as great when first His Spirit brooded on the deep, as He
is now and will be through all worlds to come.

But we must make haste; for the tide is rising fast, and our stone
will be restored to its eleven hours' bath, long before we have
talked over half the wonders which it holds. Look though, ere you
retreat, at one or two more.

What is that little brown thing whom you have just taken off the
rock to which it adhered so stoutly by his sucking-foot? A limpet?
Not at all: he is of quite a different family and structure; but,
on the whole, a limpet-like shell would suit him well enough, so he
had one given him: nevertheless, owing to certain anatomical
peculiarities, he needed one aperture more than a limpet; so one,
if you will examine, has been given him at the top of his shell.
(15) This is one instance among a thousand of the way in which a
scientific knowledge of objects must not obey, but run counter to,
the impressions of sense; and of a custom in nature which makes
this caution so necessary, namely, the repetition of the same form,
slightly modified, in totally different animals, sometimes as if to
avoid waste, (for why should not the same conception be used in two
different cases, if it will suit in both?) and sometimes (more
marvellous by far) when an organ, fully developed and useful in one
species, appears in a cognate species but feeble, useless, and, as
it were, abortive; and gradually, in species still farther removed,
dies out altogether; placed there, it would seem, at first sight,
merely to keep up the family likeness. I am half jesting; that
cannot be the only reason, perhaps not the reason at all; but the
fact is one of the most curious, and notorious also, in comparative

Look, again, at those sea-slugs. One, some three inches long, of a
bright lemon-yellow, clouded with purple; another of a dingy grey;
(16) another exquisite little creature of a pearly French White,
(17) furred all over the back with what seem arms, but are really
gills, of ringed white and grey and black. Put that yellow one
into water, and from his head, above the eyes, arise two serrated
horns, while from the after-part of his back springs a circular
Prince-of-Wales's-feather of gills, - they are almost exactly like
those which we saw just now in the white Cucumaria. Yes; here is
another instance of the same custom of repetition. The Cucumaria
is a low radiate animal - the sea-slug a far higher mollusc; and
every organ within him is formed on a different type; as indeed are
those seemingly identical gills, if you come to examine them under
the microscope, having to oxygenate fluids of a very different and
more complicated kind; and, moreover, the Cucumaria's gills were
put round his mouth, the Doris's feathers round the other
extremity; that grey Eolis's, again, are simple clubs, scattered
over his whole back, and in each of his nudibranch congeners these
same gills take some new and fantastic form; in Melibaea those
clubs are covered with warts; in Scyllaea, with tufted bouquets; in
the beautiful Antiopa they are transparent bags; and in many other
English species they take every conceivable form of leaf, tree,
flower, and branch, bedecked with every colour of the rainbow, as
you may see them depicted in Messrs. Alder and Hancock's unrivalled
Monograph on the Nudibranch Mollusca.

And now, worshipper of final causes and the mere useful in nature,
answer but one question, - Why this prodigal variety? All these
Nudibranchs live in much the same way: why would not the same
mould have done for them all? And why, again, (for we must push
the argument a little further,) why have not all the butterflies,
at least all who feed on the same plant, the same markings? Of all
unfathomable triumphs of design, (we can only express ourselves
thus, for honest induction, as Paley so well teaches, allows us to
ascribe such results only to the design of some personal will and
mind,) what surpasses that by which the scales on a butterfly's
wing are arranged to produce a certain pattern of artistic beauty
beyond all painter's skill? What a waste of power, on any
utilitarian theory of nature! And once more, why are those strange
microscopic atomies, the Diatomaceae and Infusoria, which fill
every stagnant pool; which fringe every branch of sea-weed; which
form banks hundreds of miles long on the Arctic sea-floor, and the
strata of whole moorlands; which pervade in millions the mass of
every iceberg, and float aloft in countless swarms amid the clouds
of the volcanic dust; - why are their tiny shells of flint as
fantastically various in their quaint mathematical symmetry, as
they are countless beyond the wildest dreams of the Poet? Mystery
inexplicable on the conceited notion which, making man forsooth the
centre of the universe, dares to believe that this variety of forms
has existed for countless ages in abysmal sea-depths and untrodden
forests, only that some few individuals of the Western races might,
in these latter days, at last discover and admire a corner here and
there of the boundless realms of beauty. Inexplicable, truly, if
man be the centre and the object of their existence; explicable
enough to him who believes that God has created all things for
Himself, and rejoices in His own handiwork, and that the material
universe is, as the wise man says, "A platform whereon His Eternal
Spirit sports and makes melody." Of all the blessings which the
study of nature brings to the patient observer, let none, perhaps,
be classed higher than this: that the further he enters into those
fairy gardens of life and birth, which Spenser saw and described in
his great poem, the more he learns the awful and yet most
comfortable truth, that they do not belong to him, but to One
greater, wiser, lovelier than he; and as he stands, silent with
awe, amid the pomp of Nature's ever-busy rest, hears, as of old,
"The Word of the Lord God walking among the trees of the garden in
the cool of the day."

One sight more, and we have done. I had something to say, had time
permitted, on the ludicrous element which appears here and there in
nature. There are animals, like monkeys and crabs, which seem made
to be laughed at; by those at least who possess that most
indefinable of faculties, the sense of the ridiculous. As long as
man possesses muscles especially formed to enable him to laugh, we
have no right to suppose (with some) that laughter is an accident
of our fallen nature; or to find (with others) the primary cause of
the ridiculous in the perception of unfitness or disharmony. And
yet we shrink (whether rightly or wrongly, we can hardly tell) from
attributing a sense of the ludicrous to the Creator of these forms.
It may be a weakness on my part; at least I will hope it is a
reverent one: but till we can find something corresponding to what
we conceive of the Divine Mind in any class of phenomena, it is
perhaps better not to talk about them at all, but observe a stoic
"epoche," waiting for more light, and yet confessing that our own
laughter is uncontrollable, and therefore we hope not unworthy of
us, at many a strange creature and strange doing which we meet,
from the highest ape to the lowest polype.

But, in the meanwhile, there are animals in which results so
strange, fantastic, even seemingly horrible, are produced, that
fallen man may be pardoned, if he shrinks from them in disgust.
That, at least, must be a consequence of our own wrong state; for
everything is beautiful and perfect in its place. It may be
answered, "Yes, in its place; but its place is not yours. You had
no business to look at it, and must pay the penalty for
intermeddling." I doubt that answer; for surely, if man have
liberty to do anything, he has liberty to search out freely his
heavenly Father's works; and yet every one seems to have his
antipathic animal; and I know one bred from his childhood to
zoology by land and sea, and bold in asserting, and honest in
feeling, that all without exception is beautiful, who yet cannot,
after handling and petting and admiring all day long every uncouth
and venomous beast, avoid a paroxysm of horror at the sight of the
common house-spider. At all events, whether we were intruding or
not, in turning this stone, we must pay a fine for having done so;
for there lies an animal as foul and monstrous to the eye as
"hydra, gorgon, or chimaera dire," and yet so wondrously fitted to
its work, that we must needs endure for our own instruction to
handle and to look at it. Its name, if you wish for it, is
Nemertes; probably N. Borlasii; (18) a worm of very "low"
organization, though well fitted enough for its own work. You see
it? That black, shiny, knotted lump among the gravel, small enough
to be taken up in a dessert spoon. Look now, as it is raised and
its coils drawn out. Three feet - six - nine, at least: with a
capability of seemingly endless expansion; a slimy tape of living
caoutchouc, some eighth of an inch in diameter, a dark chocolate-
black, with paler longitudinal lines. Is it alive? It hangs,
helpless and motionless, a mere velvet string across the hand. Ask
the neighbouring Annelids and the fry of the rock fishes, or put it
into a vase at home, and see. It lies motionless, trailing itself
among the gravel; you cannot tell where it begins or ends; it may
be a dead strip of sea-weed, Himanthalia lorea, perhaps, or Chorda
filum; or even a tarred string. So thinks the little fish who
plays over and over it, till he touches at last what is too surely
a head. In an instant a bell-shaped sucker mouth has fastened to
his side. In another instant, from one lip, a concave double
proboscis, just like a tapir's (another instance of the repetition
of forms), has clasped him like a finger; and now begins the
struggle: but in vain. He is being "played" with such a fishing-
line as the skill of a Wilson or a Stoddart never could invent; a
living line, with elasticity beyond that of the most delicate fly-
rod, which follows every lunge, shortening and lengthening,
slipping and twining round every piece of gravel and stem of sea-
weed, with a tiring drag such as no Highland wrist or step could
ever bring to bear on salmon or on trout. The victim is tired now;
and slowly, and yet dexterously, his blind assailant is feeling and
shifting along his side, till he reaches one end of him; and then
the black lips expand, and slowly and surely the curved finger
begins packing him end-foremost down into the gullet, where he
sinks, inch by inch, till the swelling which marks his place is
lost among the coils, and he is probably macerated to a pulp long
before he has reached the opposite extremity of his cave of doom.
Once safe down, the black murderer slowly contracts again into a
knotted heap, and lies, like a boa with a stag inside him,
motionless and blest. (19)

There; we must come away now, for the tide is over our ankles; but
touch, before you go, one of those little red mouths which peep out
of the stone. A tiny jet of water shoots up almost into your face.

The bivalve (20) who has burrowed into the limestone knot (the
softest part of the stone to his jaws, though the hardest to your
chisel) is scandalized at having the soft mouths of his siphons so
rudely touched, and taking your finger for some bothering Annelid,
who wants to nibble him, is defending himself; shooting you, as
naturalists do humming-birds, with water. Let him rest in peace;
it will cost you ten minutes' hard work, and much dirt, to extract
him; but if you are fond of shells, secure one or two of those
beautiful pink and straw-coloured scallops (Hinnites pusio, Plate
X. fig. 1), who have gradually incorporated the layers of their
lower valve with the roughnesses of the stone, destroying thereby
the beautiful form which belongs to their race, but not their
delicate colour. There are a few more bivalves too, adhering to
the stone, and those rare ones, and two or three delicate Mangeliae
and Nassae (21) are trailing their graceful spires up and down in
search of food. That little bright red and yellow pea, too, touch
it - the brilliant coloured cloak is withdrawn, and, instead, you
have a beautiful ribbed pink cowry, (22) our only European
representative of that grand tropical family. Cast one wondering
glance, too, at the forest of zoophytes and corals, Lepraliae and
Flustrae, and those quaint blue stars, set in brown jelly, which
are no zoophytes, but respectable molluscs, each with his well-
formed mouth and intestines, (23) but combined in a peculiar form
of Communism, of which all one can say is, that one hopes they like
it; and that, at all events, they agree better than the heroes and
heroines of Mr. Hawthorne's "Blithedale Romance."

Now away, and as a specimen of the fertility of the water-world,
look at this rough list of species, (24) the greater part of which
are on this very stone, and all of which you might obtain in an
hour, would the rude tide wait for zoologists: and remember that
the number of individuals of each species of polype must be counted
by tens of thousands; and also, that, by searching the forest of
sea-weeds which covers the upper surface, we should probably obtain
some twenty minute species more.

A goodly catalogue this, surely, of the inhabitants of three or
four large stones; and yet how small a specimen of the
multitudinous nations of the sea!

From the bare rocks above high-water mark, down to abysses deeper
than ever plummet sounded, is life, everywhere life; fauna after
fauna, and flora after flora, arranged in zones, according to the
amount of light and warmth which each species requires, and to the
amount of pressure which they are able to endure. The crevices of
the highest rocks, only sprinkled with salt spray in spring-tides
and high gales, have their peculiar little univalves, their crisp
lichen-like sea-weed, in myriads; lower down, the region of the
Fuci (bladder-weeds) has its own tribes of periwinkles and limpets;
below again, about the neap-tide mark, the region of the corallines
and Algae furnishes food for yet other species who graze on its
watery meadows; and beneath all, only uncovered at low spring-tide,
the zone of the Laminariae (the great tangles and ore-weeds) is
most full of all of every imaginable form of life. So that as we
descend the rocks, we may compare ourselves (likening small things
to great) to those who, descending the Andes, pass in a single day
from the vegetation of the Arctic zone to that of the Tropics. And
here and there, even at half-tide level, deep rock-basins, shaded
from the sun and always full of water, keep up in a higher zone the
vegetation of a lower one, and afford in nature an analogy to those
deep "barrancos" which split the high table-land of Mexico, down
whose awful cliffs, swept by cool sea-breezes, the traveller looks
from among the plants and animals of the temperate zone, and sees
far below, dim through their everlasting vapour-bath of rank hot
steam, the mighty forms and gorgeous colours of a tropic forest.

"I do not wonder," says Mr. Gosse, in his charming "Naturalist's
Rambles on the Devonshire Coast" (p. 187), "that when Southey had
an opportunity of seeing some of those beautiful quiet basins
hollowed in the living rock, and stocked with elegant plants and
animals, having all the charm of novelty to his eye, they should
have moved his poetic fancy, and found more than one place in the
gorgeous imagery of his Oriental romances. Just listen to him

"It was a garden still beyond all price,
Even yet it was a place of paradise;
And here were coral bowers,
And grots of madrepores,
And banks of sponge, as soft and fair to eye
As e'er was mossy bed
Whereon the wood-nymphs lie
With languid limbs in summer's sultry hours.
Here, too, were living flowers,
Which, like a bud compacted,
Their purple cups contracted;
And now in open blossom spread,
Stretch'd, like green anthers, many a seeking head.
And arborets of jointed stone were there,
And plants of fibres fine as silkworm's thread;
Yea, beautiful as mermaid's golden hair
Upon the waves dispread.
Others that, like the broad banana growing,
Raised their long wrinkled leaves of purple hue,
Like streamers wide outflowing.' - KEHAMA, xvi. 5.

"A hundred times you might fancy you saw the type, the very
original of this description, tracing, line by line, and image by
image, the details of the picture; and acknowledging, as you
proceed, the minute truthfulness with which it has been drawn. For
such is the loveliness of nature in these secluded reservoirs, that
the accomplished poet, when depicting the gorgeous scenes of
Eastern mythology - scenes the wildest and most extravagant that
imagination could paint - drew not upon the resources of his
prolific fancy for imagery here, but was well content to jot down
the simple lineaments of Nature as he saw her in plain, homely

"It is a beautiful and fascinating sight for those who have never
seen it before, to see the little shrubberies of pink coralline -
'the arborets of jointed stone' - that fringe those pretty pools.
It is a charming sight to see the crimson banana-like leaves of the
Delesseria waving in their darkest corners; and the purple fibrous
tufts of Polysiphonia and Ceramia, 'fine as silkworm's thread.'
But there are many others which give variety and impart beauty to
these tide-pools. The broad leaves of the Ulva, finer than the
finest cambric, and of the brightest emerald-green, adorn the
hollows at the highest level, while, at the lowest, wave tiny
forests of the feathery Ptilota and Dasya, and large leaves, cut
into fringes and furbelows, of rosy Rhodymeniae. All these are
lovely to behold; but I think I admire as much as any of them, one
of the commonest of our marine plants, Chondrus crispus. It occurs
in the greatest profusion on this coast, in every pool between
tide-marks; and everywhere - except in those of the highest level,
where constant exposure to light dwarfs the plant, and turns it of
a dull umber-brown tint - it is elegant in form and brilliant in
colour. The expanding fan-shaped fronds, cut into segments, cut,
and cut again, make fine bushy tufts in a deep pool, and every
segment of every frond reflects a flush of the most lustrous azure,
like that of a tempered sword-blade." - GOSSE'S DEVONSHIRE COAST,
pp. 187-189.

And the sea-bottom, also, has its zones, at different depths, and
its peculiar forms in peculiar spots, affected by the currents and
the nature of the ground, the riches of which have to be seen,
alas! rather by the imagination than the eye; for such spoonfuls of
the treasure as the dredge brings up to us, come too often rolled
and battered, torn from their sites and contracted by fear, mere
hints to us of what the populous reality below is like. Often,
standing on the shore at low tide, has one longed to walk on and in
under the waves, as the water-ousel does in the pools of the
mountain burn, and see it all but for a moment; and a solemn beauty
and meaning has invested the old Greek fable of Glaucus the
fisherman: how eating of the herb which gave his fish strength to
leap back into their native element, he was seized on the spot with
a strange longing to follow them under the waves, and became for
ever a companion of the fair semi-human forms with which the
Hellenic poets peopled their sunny bays and firths, feeding "silent
flocks" far below on the green Zostera beds, or basking with them
on the sunny ledges in the summer noon, or wandering in the still
bays on sultry nights amid the choir of Amphitrite and her sea-

"Joining the bliss of the gods, as they waken the coves with their

in nightly revels, whereof one has sung, -

"So they came up in their joy; and before them the roll of the
Sank, as the breezes sank dead, into smooth green foam-flecked
Awed; and the crags of the cliffs, and the pines of the mountains,
were silent.
So they came up in their joy, and around them the lamps of the sea-
Myriad fiery globes, swam heaving and panting, and rainbows,
Crimson, and azure, and emerald, were broken in star-showers,
Far in the wine-dark depths of the crystal, the gardens of Nereus,
Coral, and sea-fan, and tangle, the blooms and the palms of the
So they went on in their joy, more white than the foam which they
Laughing and singing and tossing and twining; while, eager, the
Blinded with kisses their eyes, unreproved, and above them in
Fluttered the terns, and the sea-gulls swept past them on silvery
Echoing softly their laughter; around them the wantoning dolphins
Sighed as they plunged, full of love; and the great sea-horses
which bore them
Curved up their crests in their pride to the delicate arms of their
Pawing the spray into gems, till a fiery rainfall, unharming,
Sparkled and gleamed on the limbs of the maids, and the coils of
the mermen.
So they went on in their joy, bathed round with the fiery coolness,
Needing nor sun nor moon, self-lighted, immortal: but others,
Pitiful, floated in silence apart; on their knees lay the sea-boys
Whelmed by the roll of the surge, swept down by the anger of
Hapless, whom never again upon quay or strand shall their mothers
Welcome with garlands and vows to the temples; but, wearily pining,
Gaze over island and main for the sails which return not; they,
Sleep in soft bosoms for ever, and dream of the surge and the sea-
So they passed by in their joy, like a dream, on the murmuring

Such a rhapsody may be somewhat out of order, even in a popular
scientific book; and yet one cannot help at moments envying the old
Greek imagination, which could inform the soulless sea-world with a
human life and beauty. For, after all, star-fishes and sea-
anemones are dull substitutes for Sirens and Tritons; the lamps of
the sea-nymphs, those glorious phosphorescent medusae whose beauty
Mr. Gosse sets forth so well with pen and pencil, are not as
attractive as the sea-nymphs themselves would be; and who would
not, like Menelaus, take the grey old man of the sea himself asleep
upon the rocks, rather than one of his seal-herd, probably too with
the same result as the world-famous combat in the Antiquary,
between Hector and Phoca? And yet - is there no human interest in
these pursuits, more humanity and more divine, than there would be
even in those Triton and Nereid dreams, if realized to sight and
sense? Heaven forbid that those should say so, whose wanderings
among rock and pool have been mixed up with holiest passages of
friendship and of love, and the intercommunion of equal minds and
sympathetic hearts, and the laugh of children drinking in health
from every breeze and instruction at every step, running ever and
anon with proud delight to add their little treasure to their
parents' stock, and of happy friendly evenings spent over the
microscope and the vase, in examining, arranging, preserving,
noting down in the diary the wonders and the labours of the happy,
busy day. No; such short glimpses of the water-world as our
present appliances afford us are full enough of pleasure; and we
will not envy Glaucus: we will not even be over-anxious for the
success of his only modern imitator, the French naturalist who is
reported to have fitted himself with a waterproof dress and
breathing apparatus, in order to walk the bottom of the
Mediterranean, and see for himself how the world goes on at the
fifty-fathom line: we will be content with the wonders of the
shore and of the sea-floor, as far as the dredge will discover them
to us. We shall even thus find enough to occupy (if we choose) our
lifetime. For we must recollect that this hasty sketch has hardly
touched on that vegetable water-world, which is as wonderful and as
various as the animal one. A hint or two of the beauty of the sea-
weeds has been given; but space has allowed no more. Yet we might
have spent our time with almost as much interest and profit, had we
neglected utterly the animals which we have found, and devoted our
attention exclusively to the flora of the rocks. Sea-weeds are no
mere playthings for children; and to buy at a shop some thirty
pretty kinds, pasted on paper, with long names (probably mis-spelt)
written under each, is not by any means to possess a collection of
them. Putting aside the number and the obscurity of their species,
the questions which arise in studying their growth, reproduction,
and organic chemistry are of the very deepest and most important in
the whole range of science; and it will need but a little study of
such a book as Harvey's "Algae," to show the wise man that he who
has comprehended (which no man yet does) the mystery of a single
spore or tissue-cell, has reached depths in the great "Science of
Life" at which an Owen would still confess himself "blind by excess
of light." "Knowest thou how the bones grow in the womb?" asks the
Jewish sage, sadly, half self-reprovingly, as he discovers that man
is not the measure of all things, and that in much learning may be
vanity and vexation of spirit, and in much study a weariness of the
flesh; and all our deeper physical science only brings the same
question more awfully near. "Vilior algÉ," more worthless than the
very sea-weed, says the old Roman: and yet no torn scrap of that
very sea-weed, which to-morrow may manure the nearest garden, but
says to us, "Proud man! talking of spores and vesicles, if thou
darest for a moment to fancy that to have seen spores and vesicles
is to have seen me, or to know what I am, answer this. Knowest
thou how the bones do grow in the womb? Knowest thou even how one
of these tiny black dots, which thou callest spores, grow on my
fronds?" And to that question what answer shall we make? We see
tissues divide, cells develop, processes go on - but How and Why?
These are but phenomena; but what are phenomena save effects?
Causes, it may be, of other effects; but still effects of other
causes. And why does the cause cause that effect? Why should it
not cause something else? Why should it cause anything at all?
Because it obeys a law. But why does it obey the law? and how does
it obey the law? And, after all, what is a law? A mere custom of
Nature. We see the same phenomenon happen a great many times; and
we infer from thence that it has a custom of happening; and
therefore we call it a law: but we have not seen the law; all we
have seen is the phenomenon which we suppose to indicate the law.
We have seen things fall: but we never saw a little flying thing
pulling them down, with "gravitation" labelled on its back; and the
question, why things fall, and HOW, is just where it was before
Newton was born, and is likely to remain there. All we can say is,
that Nature has her customs, and that other customs ensue, when
those customs appear: but that as to what connects cause and
effect, as to what is the reason, the final cause, or even the
CAUSA CAUSANS, of any phenomenon, we know not more but less than
ever; for those laws or customs which seem to us simplest
("endosmose," for instance, or "gravitation"), are just the most
inexplicable, logically unexpected, seemingly arbitrary, certainly
supernatural - miraculous, if you will; for no natural and physical
cause whatsoever can be assigned for them; while if anyone shall
argue against their being miraculous and supernatural on the ground
of their being so common, I can only answer, that of all absurd and
illogical arguments, this is the most so. For what has the number
of times which the miracle occurs to do with the question, save to
increase the wonder? Which is more strange, that an inexplicable
and unfathomable thing should occur once and for all, or that it
should occur a million times every day all the world over?

Let those, however, who are too proud to wonder, do as seems good
to them. Their want of wonder will not help them toward the
required explanation: and to them, as to us, as soon as we begin
asking, "HOW?" and "WHY?" the mighty Mother will only reply with
that magnificent smile of hers, most genial, but most silent, which
she has worn since the foundation of all worlds; that silent smile
which has tempted many a man to suspect her of irony, even of
deceit and hatred of the human race; the silent smile which Solomon
felt, and answered in "Ecclesiastes;" which Goethe felt, and did
not answer in his "Faust;" which Pascal felt, and tried to answer
in his "Thoughts," and fled from into self-torture and
superstition, terrified beyond his powers of endurance, as he found
out the true meaning of St. John's vision, and felt himself really
standing on that fragile and slippery "sea of glass," and close
beneath him the bottomless abyss of doubt, and the nether fires of
moral retribution. He fled from Nature's silent smile, as that
poor old King Edward (mis-called the Confessor) fled from her hymns
of praise, in the old legend of Havering-atte-bower, when he cursed
the nightingales because their songs confused him in his prayers:
but the wise man need copy neither, and fear neither the silence
nor the laughter of the mighty mother Earth, if he will be but
wise, and hear her tell him, alike in both - "Why call me mother?
Why ask me for knowledge which I cannot teach, peace which I cannot
give or take away? I am only your foster-mother and your nurse -
and I have not been an unkindly one. But you are God's children,
and not mine. Ask Him. I can amuse you with my songs; but they
are but a nurse's lullaby to the weary flesh. I can awe you with
my silence; but my silence is only my just humility, and your gain.
How dare I pretend to tell you secrets which He who made me knows
alone? I am but inanimate matter; why ask of me things which
belong to living spirit? In God I live and move, and have my
being; I know not how, any more than you know. Who will tell you
what life is, save He who is the Lord of life? And if He will not
tell you, be sure it is because you need not to know. At least,
why seek God in nature, the living among the dead? He is not here:
He is risen."

He is not here: He is risen. Good reader, you will probably agree
that to know that saying, is to know the key-note of the world to
come. Believe me, to know it, and all it means, is to know the
keynote of this world also, from the fall of dynasties and the fate
of nations, to the sea-weed which rots upon the beach.

It may seem startling, possibly (though I hope not, for my readers'
sake, irreverent), to go back at once after such thoughts, be they
true or false, to the weeds upon the cliff above our heads. But He
who is not here, but is risen, yet is here, and has appointed them
their services in a wonderful order; and I wish that on some day,
or on many days, when a quiet sea and offshore breezes have
prevented any new objects from coming to land with the rising tide,
you would investigate the flowers peculiar to our sea-rocks and
sandhills. Even if you do not find the delicate lily-like
Trichonema of the Channel Islands and Dawlish, or the almost as
beautiful Squill of the Cornish cliffs, or the sea-lavender of
North Devon, or any of those rare Mediterranean species which Mr.
Johns has so charmingly described in his "Week at the Lizard
Point," yet an average cliff, with its carpeting of pink thrift and
of bladder catchfly, and Lady's finger, and elegant grasses, most
of them peculiar to the sea marge, is often a very lovely flower-

Not merely interesting, too, but brilliant in their vegetation are
sandhills; and the seemingly desolate dykes and banks of salt
marshes will yield many a curious plant, which you may neglect if
you will: but lay to your account the having to repent your
neglect hereafter, when, finding out too late what a pleasant study
botany is, you search in vain for curious forms over which you trod
every day in crossing flats which seemed to you utterly ugly and
uninteresting, but which the good God was watching as carefully as
He did the pleasant hills inland: perhaps even more carefully; for
the uplands He has completed, and handed over to man, that he may
dress and keep them: but the tide-flats below are still
unfinished, dry land in the process of creation, to which every
tide is adding the elements of fertility, which shall grow food,
perhaps in some future state of our planet, for generations yet

But to return to the water-world, and to dredging; which of all
sea-side pursuits is perhaps the most pleasant, combining as it
does fine weather sailing with the discovery of new objects, to
which, after all, the waifs and strays of the beach, whether
"flotsom jetsom, or lagand," as the old Admiralty laws define them,
are few and poor. I say particularly fine weather sailing; for a
swell, which makes the dredge leap along the bottom, instead of
scraping steadily, is as fatal to sport as it is to some people's
comfort. But dredging, if you use a pleasure boat and the small
naturalist's dredge, is an amusement in which ladies, if they will,
may share, and which will increase, and not interfere with, the
amusements of a water-party.

The naturalist's dredge, of which Mr. Gosse's "Aquarium" gives a
detailed account, should differ from the common oyster dredge in
being smaller; certainly not more than four feet across the mouth;
and instead of having but one iron scraping-lip like the oyster
dredge, it should have two, one above and one below, so that it
will work equally well on whichsoever side it falls, or how often
soever it may be turned over by rough ground. The bag-net should
be of strong spunyarn, or (still better) of hide "such as those
hides of the wild cattle of the Pampas, which the tobacconists
receive from South America," cut into thongs, and netted close. It
should be loosely laced together with a thong at the tail edge in
order to be opened easily, when brought on board, without canting
the net over, and pouring the contents roughly out through the
mouth. The dragging-rope should be strong, and at least three
times as long as the perpendicular depth of the water in which you
are working; if, indeed, there is much breeze, or any swell at all,
still more line should be veered out. The inboard end should be
made fast somewhere in the stern sheets, the dredge hove to
windward, the boat put before the wind; and you may then amuse
yourself as you will for the next quarter of an hour, provided that
you have got ready various wide-mouthed bottles for the more
delicate monsters, and a couple of buckets, to receive the large
lumps of oysters and serpulae which you will probably bring to the

As for a dredging ground, one may be found, I suppose, off every
watering-place. The most fertile spots are in rough ground, in not
less than five fathoms water. The deeper the water, the rarer and
more interesting will the animals generally be: but a greater
depth than fifteen fathoms is not easily reached on this side of
Plymouth; and, on the whole, the beginner will find enough in seven
or eight fathoms to stock an aquarium rivalling any of those in the
"Tank-house" at the Zoological Gardens.

In general, the south coast of England, to the eastward of
Portland, affords bad dredging ground. The friable cliffs, of
comparatively recent formations, keep the sea shallow, and the
bottom smooth and bare, by the vast deposits of sand and gravel.
Yet round the Isle of Wight, especially at the back of the Needles,
there ought to be fertile spots; and Weymouth, according to Mr.
Gosse and other well-known naturalists, is a very garden of Nereus.
Torbay, as may well be supposed, is an admirable dredging spot;
perhaps its two best points are round the isolated Thatcher and
Oare-rock, and from the mouth of Brixham harbour to Berry Head;
along which last line, for perhaps three hundred years, the decks
of all Brixham trawlers have been washed down ere running into
harbour, and the sea-bottom thus stored with treasures scraped up
from deeper water in every direction for miles and miles.

Hastings is, I fear, but a poor spot for dredging. Its friable
cliffs and strong tides produce a changeable and barren sea-floor.
Yet the immense quantities of Flustra thrown up after a storm
indicate dredging ground at no great distance outside; its rocks,
uninteresting as they are compared with our Devonians, have yielded
to the industry and science of M. Tumanowicz a vast number of sea-
weeds and sponges. Those three curious polypes, Valkeria cuscuta
(Plate I. fig. 3), Notamia Bursaria, and Serialaria Lendigera,
abound within tide-marks; and as the place is so much visited by
Londoners, it may be worth while to give a few hints as to what
might be done, by anyone whose curiosity has been excited by the
salt-water tanks of the Zoological Gardens and the Crystal Palace.

An hour or two's dredging round the rocks to the eastward, would
probably yield many delicate and brilliant little fishes; Gobies,
brilliant Labri, blue, yellow, and orange, with tiny rabbit mouths,
and powerful protruding teeth; pipe fishes (Syngnathi) (25) with
strange snipe-bills (which they cannot open) and snake-like bodies;
small cuttlefish (Sepiolae) of a white jelly mottled with brilliant
metallic hues, with a ring of suckered arms round their tiny
parrots' beaks, who, put into a jar, will hover and dart in the
water, as the skylark does in air, by rapid winnowings of their
glassy side-fins, while they watch you with bright lizard-eyes; the
whole animal being a combination of the vertebrate and the mollusc,
so utterly fantastic and abnormal, that (had not the family been
amongst the commonest, from the earliest geological epochs) it
would have seemed, to man's deductive intellect, a form almost as
impossible as the mermaid, far more impossible than the sea-
serpent. These, and perhaps a few handsome sea-slugs and bivalve
shells, you will be pretty sure to find: perhaps a great deal

Meanwhile, without dredging, you may find a good deal on the shore.
In the spring Doris bilineata comes to the rocks in thousands, to
lay its strange white furbelows of spawn upon their overhanging
edges. Eolides of extraordinary beauty haunt the same spots. The
great Eolis papillosa, of a delicate French grey; Eolis pellucida
(?) (Plate X. fig. 4), in which each papilla on the back is
beautifully coloured with a streak of pink, and tipped with iron
blue; and a most fantastical yellow little creature, so covered
with plumes and tentacles that the body is invisible, which I
believe to be the Idalia aspersa of Alder and Hancock.

At the bottom of the rock pools, behind St. Leonard's baths, may be
found hundreds of the snipe's feather Anemone (Sagartia
troglodytes), of every line; from the common brown and grey snipe's
feather kind, to the white-horned Hesperus, the orange-horned
Aurora, and a rich lilac and crimson variety, which does not seem
to agree with either the Lilacinia or Rubicunda of Gosse. A more
beautiful living bouquet could hardly be seen, than might be made
of the varieties of this single species, from this one place.

On the outside sands between the end of the Marina and the Martello
tower, you may find, at very low tides, great numbers of a sand-
tube, about three inches long, standing up out of the sand. I do
not mean the tubes of the Terebella, so common in all sands, which
are somewhat flexible, and have their upper end fringed with a
ragged ring of sandy arms: those I speak of are straight and
stiff, and ending in a point upward. Draw them out of the sand -
they will offer some resistance - and put them into a vase of
water; you will see the worm inside expand two delicate golden
combs, just like old-fashioned back-hair combs, of a metallic
lustre, which will astonish you. With these combs the worm seems
to burrow head downward into the sand; but whether he always
remains in that attitude I cannot say. His name is Pectinaria
Belgica. He is an Annelid, or true worm, connected with the
Serpulea and Sabellae of which I have spoken already, and holds
himself in his case like them, by hooks and bristles set on each
ring of his body. In confinement he will probably come out of his
case and die; when you may dissect him at your leisure, and learn a
great deal more about him thereby than (I am sorry to say) I know.

But if you have courage to run out fifteen or twenty miles to the
Diamond, you may find really rare and valuable animals. There is a
risk, of course, of being blown over to the coast of France, by a
change of wind; there is a risk also of not being able to land at
night on the inhospitable Hastings beach, and of sleeping, as best
you can, on board: but in the long days and settled fine weather
of summer, the trip, in a stout boat, ought to be a safe and a
pleasant one.

On the Diamond you will find many, or most of those gay creatures
which attract your eye in the central row of tanks at the
Zoological Gardens: great twisted masses of Serpulae, (26) those
white tubes of stone, from the mouth of which protrude pairs of
rose-coloured or orange fans, flashing in, quick as light, the
moment that your finger approaches them or your shadow crosses the

You will dredge, too, the twelve-rayed sun-star (Solaster papposa),
with his rich scarlet armour; and more strange, and quite as
beautiful, the bird's foot star (Palmipes membranaceus), which you
may see crawling by its thousand sucking-feet in the Crystal Palace
tanks, a pentagonal webbed bird's foot, of scarlet and orange
shagreen. With him, most probably, will be a specimen of the great
purple heart-urchin (Spatangus purpureus), clothed in pale lilac
horny spines, and other Echinoderms, for which you must consult
Forbes's "British Star-fishes:" but perhaps the species among them
which will interest you most, will be the common brittle-star
(Ophiocoma rosula), of which a hundred or so, I can promise, shall
come up at a single haul of the dredge, entwining their long spine-
clad arms in a seemingly inextricable confusion of "kaleidoscope"
patterns (thanks to Mr. Gosse for the one right epithet), purple
and azure, fawn, brown, green, grey, white and crimson; as if a
whole bed of China-asters should have first come to life, and then
gone mad, and fallen to fighting. But pick out, one by one,
specimens from the tangled mass, and you will agree that no China-
aster is so fair as this living stone-flower of the deep, with its
daisy-like disc, and fine long prickly arms, which never cease
their graceful serpentine motion, and its colours hardly alike in
any two specimens. Handle them not, meanwhile, too roughly, lest,
whether modesty or in anger, they begin a desperate course of
gradual suicide, and, breaking off arm after arm piecemeal, fling
them indignantly at their tormentor. Along with these you will
certainly obtain a few of that fine bivalve, the great Scallop,
which you have seen lying on every fishmonger's counter in
Hastings. Of these you must pick out those which seem dirtiest and
most overgrown with parasites, and place them carefully in a jar of
salt water, where they may not be rubbed; for they are worth your
examination, not merely for the sake of that ring of gem-like eyes
which borders their "cloak," lying along the extreme out edge of
the shell as the valves are half open, but for the sake of the
parasites outside: corallines of exquisite delicacy, Plumulariae
and Sertulariae, dead men's hands (Alcyonia), lumps of white or
orange jelly, which will protrude a thousand star-like polypes, and
the Tubularia indivisa, twisted tubes of fine straw, which ought
already to have puzzled you; for you may pick them up in
considerable masses on the Hastings beach after a south-west gale,
and think long over them before you determine whether the oat-like
stems and spongy roots belong to an animal, or a vegetable.
Animals they are, nevertheless, though even now you will hardly
guess the fact, when you see at the mouth of each tube a little
scarlet flower, connected with the pink pulp which fills the tube.
For a further description of this largest and handsomest of our
Hydroid Polypes, I must refer you to Johnston, or, failing him, to
Landsborough; and go on, to beg you not to despise those pink, or
grey, or white lumps of jelly, which will expand in salt water into
exquisite sea-anemones, of quite different forms from any which we
have found along the rocks. One of them will certainly be the
Dianthus, (27) which will open into a furbelowed flower, furred
with innumerable delicate tentacula; and in the centre a mouth of
the most delicate orange, the size of the whole animal being
perhaps eight inches high and five across. Perhaps it will be of a
satiny grey, perhaps pale rose, perhaps pure white; whatever its
colour, it is the very maiden queen of all the beautiful tribe, and
one of the loveliest gems with which it has pleased God to bedeck
this lower world.

These and much more you will find on the scallops, or even more
plentifully on any lump of ancient oysters; and if you do not
dredge, it would be well worth your while to make interest with the
fish-monger for a few oyster lumps, put into water the moment they
are taken out of the trawl. Divide them carefully, clear out the
oysters with a knife, and put the shells into your aquarium, and
you will find that an oyster at home is a very different thing from
an oyster on a stall.

You ought, besides, to dredge many handsome species of shells,
which you would never pick up along the beach; and if you are
conchologizing in earnest, you must not forget to bring home a tin
box of shell sand, to be washed and picked over in a dish at your
leisure, or forget either to wash through a fine sieve, over the
boat's side, any sludge and ooze which the dredge brings up. Many
- I may say, hundreds - rare and new shells are found in this way,
and in no other.

But if you cannot afford the expense of your own dredge and boat,
and the time and trouble necessary to follow the occupation
scientifically, yet every trawler and oyster-boat will afford you a
tolerable satisfaction. Go on board one of these; and while the
trawl is down, spend a pleasant hour or two in talking with the
simple, honest, sturdy fellows who work it, from whom (if you are
as fortunate as I have been for many a year past) you may get many
a moving story of danger and sorrow, as well as many a shrewd
practical maxim, and often, too, a living recognition of God, and
the providence of God, which will send you home, perhaps, a wiser
and more genial man. And when the trawl is hauled, wait till the
fish are counted out, and packed away, and then kneel down and
inspect (in a pair of Mackintosh leggings, and your oldest coat)
the crawling heap of shells and zoophytes which remains behind
about the decks, and you will find, if a landsman, enough to occupy
you for a week to come. Nay, even if it be too calm for trawling,
condescend to go out in a dingy, and help to haul some honest
fellow's deep-sea lines and lobster-pots, and you will find more
and stranger things about them than even fish or lobsters: though
they, to him who has eyes to see, are strange enough.

I speak from experience; for it was not so very long ago that, in
the north of Devon, I found sermons, not indeed in stones, but in a
creature reputed among the most worthless of sea-vermin. I had
been lounging about all the morning on the little pier, waiting,
with the rest of the village, for a trawling breeze which would not
come. Two o'clock was past, and still the red mainsails of the
skiffs hung motionless, and their images quivered head downwards in
the glassy swell,

"As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean."

It was neap-tide, too, and therefore nothing could be done among
the rocks. So, in despair, finding an old coast-guard friend
starting for his lobster-pots, I determined to save the old man's
arms, by rowing him up the shore; and then paddled homeward again,
under the high green northern wall, five hundred feet of cliff
furred to the water's edge with rich oak woods, against whose base
the smooth Atlantic swell died whispering, as if curling itself up
to sleep at last within that sheltered nook, tired with its weary
wanderings. The sun sank lower and lower behind the deer-park
point; the white stair of houses up the glen was wrapped every
moment deeper and deeper in hazy smoke and shade, as the light
faded; the evening fires were lighted one by one; the soft murmur
of the waterfall, and the pleasant laugh of children, and the
splash of homeward oars, came clearer and clearer to the ear at
every stroke: and as we rowed on, arose the recollection of many a
brave and wise friend, whose lot was cast in no such western
paradise, but rather in the infernos of this sinful earth, toiling
even then amid the festering alleys of Bermondsey and Bethnal
Green, to palliate death and misery which they had vainly laboured
to prevent, watching the strides of that very cholera which they
had been striving for years to ward off, now re-admitted in spite
of all their warnings, by the carelessness, and laziness, and greed
of sinful man. And as I thought over the whole hapless question of
sanitary reform, proved long since a moral duty to God and man,
possible, easy, even pecuniarily profitable, and yet left undone,
there seemed a sublime irony, most humbling to man, in some of
Nature's processes, and in the silent and unobtrusive perfection
with which she has been taught to anticipate, since the foundation
of the world, some of the loftiest discoveries of modern science,
of which we are too apt to boast as if we had created the method by
discovering its possibility. Created it? Alas for the pride of
human genius, and the autotheism which would make man the measure
of all things, and the centre of the universe! All the invaluable
laws and methods of sanitary reform at best are but clumsy
imitations of the unseen wonders which every animalcule and leaf
have been working since the world's foundation; with this slight
difference between them and us, that they fulfil their appointed
task, and we do not.

The sickly geranium which spreads its blanched leaves against the
cellar panes, and peers up, as if imploringly, to the narrow slip
of sunlight at the top of the narrow alley, had it a voice, could
tell more truly than ever a doctor in the town, why little Bessy
sickened of the scarlatina, and little Johnny of the hooping-cough,
till the toddling wee things who used to pet and water it were
carried off each and all of them one by one to the churchyard
sleep, while the father and mother sat at home, trying to supply by
gin that very vital energy which fresh air and pure water, and the
balmy breath of woods and heaths, were made by God to give; and how
the little geranium did its best, like a heaven-sent angel, to
right the wrong which man's ignorance had begotten, and drank in,
day by day, the poisoned atmosphere, and formed it into fair green
leaves, and breathed into the children's faces from every pore,
whenever they bent over it, the life-giving oxygen for which their
dulled blood and festered lungs were craving in vain; fulfilling
God's will itself, though man would not, too careless or too
covetous to see, after thousands of years of boasted progress, why
God had covered the earth with grass, herb, and tree, a living and
life-giving garment of perpetual health and youth.

It is too sad to think long about, lest we become very
Heraclituses. Let us take the other side of the matter with
Democritus, try to laugh man out of a little of his boastful
ignorance and self-satisfied clumsiness, and tell him, that if the
House of Commons would but summon one of the little Paramecia from
any Thames' sewer-mouth, to give his evidence before their next
Cholera Committee, sanitary blue-books, invaluable as they are,
would be superseded for ever and a day; and sanitary reformers
would no longer have to confess, that they know of no means of
stopping the smells which in past hot summers drove the members out
of the House, and the judges out of Westminster Hall.

Nay, in the boat at the minute of which I have been speaking,
silent and neglected, sat a fellow-passenger, who was a greater
adept at removing nuisances than the whole Board of Health put
together; and who had done his work, too, with a cheapness
unparalleled; for all his good deeds had not as yet cost the State
one penny. True, he lived by his business; so do other inspectors
of nuisances: but Nature, instead of paying Maia Squinado,
Esquire, some five hundred pounds sterling per annum for his
labour, had contrived, with a sublime simplicity of economy which
Mr. Hume might have envied and admired afar off, to make him do his
work gratis, by giving him the nuisances as his perquisites, and
teaching him how to eat them. Certainly (without going the length
of the Caribs, who upheld cannibalism because, they said, it made
war cheap, and precluded entirely the need of a commissariat), this
cardinal virtue of cheapness ought to make Squinado an interesting
object in the eyes of the present generation; especially as he was
at that moment a true sanitary martyr, having, like many of his
human fellow-workers, got into a fearful scrape by meddling with
those existing interests, and "vested rights which are but vested
wrongs," which have proved fatal already to more than one Board of
Health. For last night, as he was sitting quietly under a stone in
four fathoms water, he became aware (whether by sight, smell, or
that mysterious sixth sense, to us unknown, which seems to reside
in his delicate feelers) of a palpable nuisance somewhere in the
neighbourhood; and, like a trusty servant of the public, turned out
of his bed instantly and went in search; till he discovered,
hanging among what he judged to be the stems of ore-weed
(Laminaria), three or four large pieces of stale thornback, of most
evil savour, and highly prejudicial to the purity of the sea, and
the health of the neighbouring herrings. Happy Squinado! He
needed not to discover the limits of his authority, to consult any
lengthy Nuisances' Removal Act, with its clauses, and counter-
clauses, and explanations of interpretations, and interpretations
of explanations. Nature, who can afford to be arbitrary, because
she is perfect, and to give her servants irresponsible powers,
because she has trained them to their work, had bestowed on him and
on his forefathers, as general health inspectors, those very
summary powers of entrance and removal in the watery realms for
which common sense, public opinion, and private philanthropy are
still entreating vainly in the terrestrial realms; so finding a
hole, in he went, and began to remove the nuisance, without
"waiting twenty-four hours," "laying an information," "serving a
notice," or any other vain delay. The evil was there, - and there
it should not stay; so having neither cart nor barrow, he just
began putting it into his stomach, and in the meanwhile set his
assistants to work likewise. For suppose not, gentle reader, that
Squinado went alone; in his train were more than a hundred thousand
as good as he, each in his office, and as cheaply paid; who needed
no cumbrous baggage train of force-pumps, hose, chloride of lime
packets, whitewash, pails or brushes, but were every man his own
instrument; and, to save expense of transit, just grew on
Squinado's back. Do you doubt the assertion? Then lift him up
hither, and putting him gently into that shallow jar of salt water,
look at him through the hand-magnifier, and see how Nature is
maxima in minimis.

There he sits, twiddling his feelers (a substitute, it seems, with
crustacea for biting their nails when they are puzzled), and by no
means lovely to look on in vulgar eyes; - about the bigness of a
man's fist; a round-bodied, spindle-shanked, crusty, prickly, dirty
fellow, with a villanous squint, too, in those little bony eyes,
which never look for a moment both the same way. Never mind: many
a man of genius is ungainly enough; and Nature, if you will
observe, as if to make up to him for his uncomeliness, has arrayed
him as Solomon in all his glory never was arrayed, and so fulfilled
one of the proposals of old Fourier - that scavengers, chimney-
sweeps, and other workers in disgusting employments, should be
rewarded for their self-sacrifice in behalf of the public weal by
some peculiar badge of honour, or laurel crown. Not that his
crown, like those of the old Greek games, is a mere useless badge;
on the contrary, his robe of state is composed of his fellow-
servants. His whole back is covered with a little grey forest of
branching hairs, fine as a spider's web, each branchlet carrying
its little pearly ringed club, each club its rose-coloured polype,
like (to quote Mr. Gosse's comparison) the unexpanded birds of the
acacia. (28)

On that leg grows, amid another copse of the grey polypes, a
delicate straw-coloured Sertularia, branch on branch of tiny double
combs, each tooth of the comb being a tube containing a living
flower; on another leg another Sertularia, coarser, but still
beautiful; and round it again has trained itself, parasitic on the
parasite, plant upon plant of glass ivy, bearing crystal bells,
(29) each of which, too, protrudes its living flower; on another
leg is a fresh species, like a little heather-bush of whitest
ivory, (30) and every needle leaf a polype cell - let us stop
before the imagination grows dizzy with the contemplation of those
myriads of beautiful atomies. And what is their use? Each living
flower, each polype mouth is feeding fast, sweeping into itself, by
the perpetual currents caused by the delicate fringes upon its rays
(so minute these last, that their motion only betrays their
presence), each tiniest atom of decaying matter in the surrounding
water, to convert it, by some wondrous alchemy, into fresh cells
and buds, and either build up a fresh branch in their thousand-
tenanted tree, or form an egg-cell, from whence when ripe may
issue, not a fixed zoophyte, but a free swimming animal.

And in the meanwhile, among this animal forest grows a vegetable
one of delicatest sea-weeds, green and brown and crimson, whose
office is, by their everlasting breath, to reoxygenate the impure
water, and render it fit once more to be breathed by the higher
animals who swim or creep around.

Mystery of mysteries! Let us jest no more, - Heaven forgive us if
we have jested too much on so simple a matter as that poor spider-
crab, taken out of the lobster-pots, and left to die at the bottom
of the boat, because his more aristocratic cousins of the blue and
purple armour will not enter the trap while he is within.

I am not aware whether the surmise, that these tiny zoophytes help
to purify the water by exhaling oxygen gas, has yet been verified.
The infusorial animalcules do so, reversing the functions of animal
life, and instead of evolving carbonic acid gas, as other animals
do, evolve pure oxygen. So, at least, says Liebig, who states that
he found a small piece of matchwood, just extinguished, burst out
again into a flame on being immersed in the bubbles given out by
these living atomies.

I myself should be inclined to doubt that this is the case with
zoophytes, having found water in which they were growing (unless,
of course, sea-weeds were present) to be peculiarly ready to become
foul; but it is difficult to say whether this is owing to their
deoxygenating the water while alive, like other animals, or to the
fact that it is very rare to get a specimen of zoophyte in which a
large number of the polypes have not been killed in the transit
home, or at least so far knocked about, that (in the Anthozoa,
which are far the most abundant) the polype - or rather living
mouth, for it is little more - is thrown off to decay, pending the
growth of a fresh one in the same cell.

But all the sea-weeds, in common with other vegetables, perform
this function continually, and thus maintain the water in which
they grow in a state fit to support animal life.

This fact - first advanced by Priestley and Ingenhousz, and though
doubted by the great Ellis, satisfactorily ascertained by Professor
Daubeny, Mr. Ward, Dr. Johnston, and Mr. Warrington - gives an
answer to the question, which I hope has ere now arisen in the
minds of some of my readers, -

How is it possible to see these wonders at home? Beautiful and
instructive as they may be, can they be meant for any but dwellers
by the sea-side? Nay more, even to them, must not the glories of
the water-world be always more momentary than those of the rainbow,
a mere Fata Morgana which breaks up and vanishes before the eyes?
If there were but some method of making a miniature sea-world for a
few days; much more of keeping one with us when far inland. -

This desideratum has at last been filled up; and science has shown,
as usual, that by simply obeying Nature, we may conquer her, even
so far as to have our miniature sea, of artificial salt-water,
filled with living plants and sea-weeds, maintaining each other in
perfect health, and each following, as far as is possible in a
confined space, its natural habits.

To Dr. Johnston is due, as far as is known, the honour of the first
accomplishment of this as of a hundred other zoological triumphs.
As early as 1842, he proved to himself the vegetable nature of the
common pink Coralline, which fringes every rock-pool, by keeping it
for eight weeks in unchanged salt-water, without any putrefaction
ensuing. The ground, of course, on which the proof rested in this
case was, that if the coralline were, as had often been thought, a
zoophyte, the water would become corrupt, and poisonous to the life
of the small animals in the same jar; and that its remaining fresh
argued that the coralline had re-oxygenated it from time to time,
and was therefore a vegetable.

In 1850, Mr. Robert Warrington communicated to the Chemical Society
the results of a year's experiments, "On the Adjustment of the
Relations between the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms, by which the
Vital Functions of both are permanently maintained." The law which
his experiments verified was the same as that on which Mr. Ward, in
1842, founded his invaluable proposal for increasing the purity of
the air in large towns, by planting trees and cultivating flowers
COUNTERBALANCE EACH OTHER; the animal's blood being purified by the
oxygen given off by the plants, the plants fed by the carbonic acid
breathed out by the animals.

On the same principle, Mr. Warrington first kept, for many months,
in a vase of unchanged water, two small gold fish and a plant of
Vallisneria spiralis; and two years afterwards began a similar
experiment with sea-water, weeds, and anemones, which were, at
last, as successful as the former ones. Mr. Gosse had, in the
meanwhile, with tolerable success begun a similar method, unaware
of what Mr. Warrington had done; and now the beautiful and curious
exhibition of fresh and salt water tanks in the Zoological Gardens
in London, bids fair to be copied in every similar institution, and
we hope in many private houses, throughout the kingdom.

To this subject Mr. Gosse's book, "The Aquarium," is principally
devoted, though it contains, besides, sketches of coast scenery, in
his usual charming style, and descriptions of rare sea-animals,
with wise and goodly reflections thereon. One great object of
interest in the book is the last chapter, which treats fully of the
making and stocking these salt-water "Aquaria;" and the various
beautifully coloured plates, which are, as it were, sketches from
the interior of tanks, are well fitted to excite the desire of all
readers to possess such gorgeous living pictures, if as nothing
else, still as drawing-room ornaments, flower-gardens which never
wither, fairy lakes of perpetual calm which no storm blackens, -

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Those who have never seen one of them can never imagine (and
neither Mr. Gosse's pencil nor my clumsy words can ever describe to
them) the gorgeous colouring and the grace and delicacy of form
which these subaqueous landscapes exhibit.

As for colouring, - the only bit of colour which I can remember
even faintly resembling them (for though Correggio's Magdalene may
rival them in greens and blues, yet even he has no such crimsons
and purples) is the Adoration of the Shepherds, by that "prince of
colorists" - Palma Vecchio, which hangs on the left-hand side of
Lord Ellesmere's great gallery. But as for the forms, - where
shall we see their like? Where, amid miniature forests as
fantastic as those of the tropics, animals whose shapes outvie the
wildest dreams of the old German ghost painters which cover the
walls of the galleries of Brussels or Antwerp? And yet the
uncouthest has some quaint beauty of its own, while most - the
star-fishes and anemones, for example - are nothing but beauty.
The brilliant plates in Mr. Gosse's "Aquarium" give, after all, but
a meagre picture of the reality, as it may be seen in the tank-
house at the Zoological Gardens; and as it may be seen also, by
anyone who will follow carefully the directions given at the end of
his book, stock a glass vase with such common things as he may find
in an hour's search at low tide, and so have an opportunity of
seeing how truly Mr. Gosse says, in his valuable preface, that -

"The habits" (and he might well have added, the marvellous beauty)
"of animals will never be thoroughly known till they are observed
in detail. Nor is it sufficient to mark them with attention now
and then; they must be closely watched, their various actions
carefully noted, their behaviour under different circumstances, and
especially those movements which seem to us mere vagaries,
undirected by any suggestible motive or cause, well examined. A
rich fruit of result, often new and curious and unexpected, will, I
am sure, reward anyone who studies living animals in this way. The
most interesting parts, by far, of published Natural History are
those minute, but graphic particulars, which have been gathered up
by an attentive watching of individual animals."

Mr. Gosse's own books, certainly, give proof enough of this. We
need only direct the reader to his exquisitely humorous account of
the ways and works of a captive soldier-crab, (31) to show them how
much there is to be seen, and how full Nature is also of that
ludicrous element of which we spoke above. And, indeed, it is in
this form of Natural History: not in mere classification, and the
finding out of means, and quarrellings as to the first discovery of
that beetle or this buttercup, - too common, alas! among mere
closet-collectors, - "endless genealogies," to apply St. Paul's
words by no means irreverently or fancifully, "which do but gender
strife;" - not in these pedantries is that moral training to be
found, for which we have been lauding the study of Natural History:
but in healthful walks and voyages out of doors, and in careful and
patient watching of the living animals and plants at home, with an
observation sharpened by practice, and a temper calmed by the
continual practice of the naturalist's first virtues - patience and

Practical directions for forming an "Aquarium" may be found in Mr.
Gosse's book bearing that name, at pp. 101, 255, ET SEQ.; and those
who wish to carry out the notion thoroughly, cannot do better than
buy his book, and take their choice of the many different forms of
vase, with rockwork, fountains, and other pretty devices which he

But the many, even if they have Mr. Gosse's book, will be rather
inclined to begin with a small attempt; especially as they are
probably half sceptical of the possibility of keeping sea-animals
inland without changing the water. A few simple directions,
therefore, will not come amiss here. They shall be such as anyone
can put into practice, who goes down to stay in a lodging-house at
the most cockney of watering-places.

Buy at any glass-shop a cylindrical glass jar, some six inches in
diameter and ten high, which will cost you from three to four
shillings; wash it clean, and fill it with clean salt-water, dipped
out of any pool among the rocks, only looking first to see that
there is no dead fish or other evil matter in the said pool, and
that no stream from the land runs into it. If you choose to take
the trouble to dip up the water over a boat's side, so much the

So much for your vase; now to stock it.

Go down at low spring-tide to the nearest ledge of rocks, and with
a hammer and chisel chip off a few pieces of stone covered with
growing sea-weed. Avoid the common and coarser kinds (fuci) which
cover the surface of the rocks; for they give out under water a
slime which will foul your tank: but choose the more delicate
species which fringe the edges of every pool at low-water mark; the
pink coralline, the dark purple ragged dulse (Rhodymenia), the
Carrageen moss (Chondrus), and above all, the commonest of all, the
delicate green Ulva, which you will see growing everywhere in
wrinkled fan-shaped sheets, as thin as the finest silver-paper.
The smallest bits of stone are sufficient, provided the sea-weeds
have hold of them; for they have no real roots, but adhere by a
small disc, deriving no nourishment from the rock, but only from
the water. Take care, meanwhile, that there be as little as
possible on the stone, beside the weed itself. Especially scrape
off any small sponges, and see that no worms have made their
twining tubes of sand among the weed-stems; if they have, drag them
out; for they will surely die, and as surely spoil all by
sulphuretted hydrogen, blackness, and evil smells.

Put your weeds into your tank, and settle them at the bottom; which
last, some say, should be covered with a layer of pebbles: but let
the beginner leave it as bare as possible; for the pebbles only
tempt cross-grained annelids to crawl under them, die, and spoil
all by decaying: whereas if the bottom of the vase is bare, you
can see a sickly or dead inhabitant at once, and take him out
(which you must do) instantly. Let your weeds stand quietly in the
vase a day or two before you put in any live animals; and even
then, do not put any in if the water does not appear perfectly
clear: but lift out the weeds, and renew the water ere you replace

This is Mr. Gosse's method. But Mr. Lloyd, in his "Handbook to the
Crystal Palace Aquarium," advises that no weed should be put into
the tank. "It is better," he says, "to depend only on those which
gradually and naturally appear on the rocks of the aquarium by the
action of light, and which answer every chemical purpose." I
should advise anyone intending to set up an aquarium, however
small, to study what Mr. Lloyd says on this matter in pp. 17-19,
and also in page 30, of his pamphlet; and also to go to the Crystal
Palace Aquarium, and there see for himself the many beautiful
species of sea-weeds which have appeared spontaneously in the tanks
from unsuspected spores floating in the sea-water. On the other
hand, Mr. Lloyd lays much stress on the necessity of aČrating the
water, by keeping it in perpetual motion; a process not easy to be
carried out in small aquaria; at least to that perfection which has
been attained at the Crystal Palace, where the water is kept in
continual circulation by steam-power. For a jar-aquarium, it will
be enough to drive fresh air through the water every day, by means
of a syringe.

Now for the live stock. In the crannies of every rock you will
find sea-anemones (Actiniae); and a dozen of these only will be
enough to convert your little vase into the most brilliant of
living flower-gardens. There they hang upon the under side of the
ledges, apparently mere rounded lumps of jelly: one is of dark
purple dotted with green; another of a rich chocolate; another of a
delicate olive; another sienna-yellow; another all but white. Take
them from their rock; you can do it easily by slipping under them
your finger-nail, or the edge of a pewter spoon. Take care to tear
the sucking base as little as possible (though a small rent they
will darn for themselves in a few days, easily enough, and drop
them into a basket of wet sea-weed; when you get home turn them
into a dish full of water and leave them for the night, and go to
look at them to-morrow. What a change! The dull lumps of jelly
have taken root and flowered during the night, and your dish is
filled from side to side with a bouquet of chrysanthemums; each has
expanded into a hundred-petalled flower, crimson, pink, purple, or
orange; touch one, and it shrinks together like a sensitive plant,
displaying at the root of the petals a ring of brilliant turquoise
beads. That is the commonest of all the Actiniae
(Mesembryanthemum); you may have him when and where you will: but
if you will search those rocks somewhat closer, you will find even
more gorgeous species than him. See in that pool some dozen large
ones, in full bloom, and quite six inches across, some of them. If
their cousins whom we found just now were like Chrysanthemums,
these are like quilled Dahlias. Their arms are stouter and shorter
in proportion than those of the last species, but their colour is
equally brilliant. One is a brilliant blood-red; another a
delicate sea-blue striped with pink; but most have the disc and the
innumerable arms striped and ringed with various shades of grey and
brown. Shall we get them? By all means if we can. Touch one.
Where is he now? Gone? Vanished into air, or into stone? Not
quite. You see that knot of sand and broken shell lying on the
rock, where your Dahlia was one moment ago. Touch it, and you will
find it leathery and elastic. That is all which remains of the
live Dahlia. Never mind; get your finger into the crack under him,
work him gently but firmly out, and take him home, and he will be
as happy and as gorgeous as ever to-morrow.

Let your Actiniae stand for a day or two in the dish, and then,
picking out the liveliest and handsomest, detach them once more
from their hold, drop them into your vase, right them with a bit of
stick, so that the sucking base is downwards, and leave them to
themselves thenceforth.

These two species (Mesembryanthemum and Crassicornis) are quite
beautiful enough to give a beginner amusement: but there are two
others which are not uncommon, and of such exceeding loveliness,
that it is worth while to take a little trouble to get them. The
one is Dianthus, which I have already mentioned; the other Bellis,
the sea-daisy, of which there is an excellent description and
plates in Mr. Gosse's "Rambles in Devon," pp. 24 to 32.

It is common at Ilfracombe, and at Torquay; and indeed everywhere
where there are cracks and small holes in limestone or slate rock.
In these holes it fixes its base, and expands its delicate brown-
grey star-like flowers on the surface: but it must be chipped out
with hammer and chisel, at the expense of much dirt and patience;
for the moment it is touched it contracts deep into the rock, and
all that is left of the daisy flower, some two or three inches
across, is a blue knot of half the size of a marble. But it will
expand again, after a day or two of captivity, and will repay all
the trouble which it has cost. Troglodytes may be found, as I have
said already, in hundreds at Hastings, in similar situations to
that of Bellis; its only token, when the tide is down, being a
round dimple in the muddy sand which firs the lower cracks of

But you will want more than these anemones, both for your own
amusement, and for the health of your tank. Microscopic animals
will breed, and will also die; and you need for them some such
scavenger as our poor friend Squinado, to whom you were introduced
a few pages back. Turn, then, a few stones which lie piled on each
other at extreme low-water mark, and five minutes' search will give
you the very animal you want, - a little crab, of a dingy russet
above, and on the under side like smooth porcelain. His back is
quite flat, and so are his large angular fringed claws, which, when
he folds them up, lie in the same plane with his shell, and fit
neatly into its edges. Compact little rogue that he is, made
especially for sidling in and out of cracks and crannies, he
carries with him such an apparatus of combs and brushes as Isidor
or Floris never dreamed of; with which he sweeps out of the sea-
water at every moment shoals of minute animalcules, and sucks them
into his tiny mouth. Mr. Gosse will tell you more of this marvel,
in his "Aquarium," p. 48.

Next, your sea-weeds, if they thrive as they ought to do, will sow
their minute spores in millions around them; and these, as they
vegetate, will form a green film on the inside of the glass,
spoiling your prospect: you may rub it off for yourself, if you
will, with a rag fastened to a stick; but if you wish at once to
save yourself trouble, and to see how all emergencies in nature are
provided for, you will set three or four live shells to do it for
you, and to keep your sub-aqueous lawn close mown.

That last word is no figure of speech. Look among the beds of sea-
weed for a few of the bright yellow or green sea-snails (Nerita),
or Conical Tops (Trochus), especially that beautiful pink one
spotted with brown (Ziziphinus), which you are sure to find about
shaded rock-ledges at dead low tide, and put them into your
aquarium. For the present, they will only nibble the green ulvae;
but when the film of young weed begins to form, you will see it
mown off every morning as fast as it grows, in little semicircular
sweeps, just as if a fairy's scythe had been at work during the

And a scythe has been at work; none other than the tongue of the
little shell-fish; a description of its extraordinary mechanism
(too long to quote here, but which is well worth reading) may be
found in Gosse's "Aquarium." (32)

A prawn or two, and a few minute star-fish, will make your aquarium
complete; though you may add to it endlessly, as one glance at the
salt-water tanks of the Zoological Gardens, and the strange and
beautiful forms which they contain, will prove to you sufficiently.

You have two more enemies to guard against, dust, and heat. If the
surface of the water becomes clogged with dust, the communication
between it and the life-giving oxygen of the air is cut off; and
then your animals are liable to die, for the very same reason that
fish die in a pond which is long frozen over, unless a hole be
broken in the ice to admit the air. You must guard against this by
occasional stirring of the surface, or, as I have already said, by
syringing and by keeping on a cover. A piece of muslin tied over
will do; but a better defence is a plate of glass, raised on wire
some half-inch above the edge, so as to admit the air. I am not
sure that a sheet of brown paper laid over the vase is not the best
of all, because that, by its shade, also guards against the next
evil, which is heat. Against that you must guard by putting a
curtain of muslin or oiled paper between the vase and the sun, if
it be very fierce, or simply (for simple expedients are best) by
laying a handkerchief over it till the heat is past. But if you
leave your vase in a sunny window long enough to let the water get
tepid, all is over with your pets. Half an hour's boiling may
frustrate the care of weeks. And yet, on the other hand, light you
must have, and you can hardly have too much. Some animals
certainly prefer shade, and hide in the darkest crannies; and for
them, if your aquarium is large enough, you must provide shade, by
arranging the bits of stone into piles and caverns. But without
light, your sea-weeds will neither thrive nor keep the water sweet.
With plenty of light you will see, to quote Mr. Gosse once more,
(33) "thousands of tiny globules forming on every plant, and even
all over the stones, where the infant vegetation is beginning to
grow; and these globules presently rise in rapid succession to the
surface all over the vessel, and this process goes on
uninterruptedly as long as the rays of the sun are uninterrupted.

"Now these globules consist of PURE OXYGEN, given out by the plants
under the stimulus of light; and to this oxygen the animals in the
tank owe their life. The difference between the profusion of
oxygen-bubbles produced on a sunny day, and the paucity of those
seen on a dark cloudy day, or in a northern aspect, is very
marked." Choose, therefore, a south or east window, but draw down
the blind, or throw a handkerchief over all if the heat become
fierce. The water should always feel cold to your hand, let the
temperature outside be what it may.

Next, you must make up for evaporation by FRESH water (a very
little will suffice), as often as in summer you find the water in
your vase sink below its original level, and prevent the water from
getting too salt. For the salts, remember, do not evaporate with
the water; and if you left the vase in the sun for a few weeks, it
would become a mere brine-pan.

But how will you move your treasures up to town?

The simplest plan which I have found successful is an earthen jar.
You may buy them with a cover which screws on with two iron clasps.
If you do not find such, a piece of oilskin tied over the mouth is
enough. But do not fill the jar full of water; leave about a
quarter of the contents in empty air, which the water may absorb,
and so keep itself fresh. And any pieces of stone, or oysters,
which you send up, hang by a string from the mouth, that they may
not hurt tender animals by rolling about the bottom. With these
simple precautions, anything which you are likely to find will well
endure forty-eight hours of travel.

What if the water fails, after all?

Then Mr. Gosse's artificial sea-water will form a perfect
substitute. You may buy the requisite salts (for there are more
salts than "salt" in sea-water) from any chemist to whom Mr. Gosse
has entrusted his discovery, and, according to his directions, make
sea-water for yourself

One more hint before we part. If, after all, you are not going
down to the sea-side this year, and have no opportunities of
testing "the wonders of the shore," you may still study Natural
History in your own drawing-room, by looking a little into "the
wonders of the pond."

I am not jesting; a fresh-water aquarium, though by no means as
beautiful as a salt-water one, is even more easily established. A
glass jar, floored with two or three inches of pond-mud (which
should be covered with fine gravel to prevent the mud washing up);
a specimen of each of two water-plants which you may buy now at any
good shop in Covent Garden, Vallisneria spiralis (which is said to
give to the Canvas-backed duck of America its peculiar richness of
flavour), and Anacharis alsinastrum, that magical weed which,
lately introduced from Canada among timber, has multiplied, self-
sown, to so prodigious an extent, that it bid fair, a few years
since, to choke the navigation not only of our canals and fen-
rivers, but of the Thames itself: (34) or, in default of these,
some of the more delicate pond-weeds; such as Callitriche,
Potamogeton pusillum, and, best of all, perhaps, the beautiful
Water-Milfoil (Myriophyllium), whose comb-like leaves are the
haunts of numberless rare and curious animalcules:- these (in
themselves, from the transparency of their circulation, interesting
microscopic objects) for oxygen-breeding vegetables; and for
animals, the pickings of any pond; a minnow or two, an eft; a few
of the delicate pond-snails (unless they devour your plants too
rapidly): water-beetles, of activity inconceivable, and that
wondrous bug the Notonecta, who lies on his back all day, rowing
about his boat-shaped body, with one long pair of oars, in search
of animalcules, and the moment the lights are out, turns head over
heels, rights himself, and opening a pair of handsome wings, starts
to fly about the dark room in company with his friend the water-
beetle, and (I suspect) catch flies; and then slips back demurely
into the water with the first streak of dawn. But perhaps the most
interesting of all the tribes of the Naiads, - (in default, of
course, of those semi-human nymphs with which our Teutonic
forefathers, like the Greeks, peopled each "sacred fountain,") -
are the little "water-crickets," which may be found running under
the pebbles, or burrowing in little galleries in the banks: and
those "caddises," which crawl on the bottom in the stiller waters,
enclosed, all save the head and legs, in a tube of sand or pebbles,
shells or sticks, green or dead weeds, often arranged with quaint
symmetry, or of very graceful shape. Their aspect in this state
may be somewhat uninviting, but they compensate for their youthful
ugliness by the strangeness of their transformations, and often by
the delicate beauty of the perfect insects, as the "caddises,"
rising to the surface, become flying Phryganeae (caperers and sand-
flies), generally of various shades of fawn-colour; and the water-
crickets (though an unscientific eye may be able to discern but
little difference in them in the "larva," or imperfect state)
change into flies of the most various shapes; - one, perhaps, into
the great sluggish olive "Stone-fly" (Perla bicaudata); another
into the delicate lemon-coloured "Yellow Sally" (Chrysoperla
viridis); another into the dark chocolate "Alder" (Sialis lutaria):
and the majority into duns and drakes (Ephemerae); whose grace of
form, and delicacy of colour, give them a right to rank among the
most exquisite of God's creations, from the tiny "Spinners" (BaČtis
or Chloron) of incandescent glass, with gorgeous rainbow-coloured
eyes, to the great Green Drake (Ephemera vulgata), known to all
fishermen as the prince of trout-flies. These animals, their
habits, their miraculous transformations, might give many an hour's
quiet amusement to an invalid, laid on a sofa, or imprisoned in a
sick-room, and debarred from reading, unless by some such means,
any page of that great green book outside, whose pen is the finger
of God, whose covers are the fire kingdoms and the star kingdoms,
and its leaves the heather-bells, and the polypes of the sea, and
the gnats above the summer stream.

I said just now, that happy was the sportsman who was also a
naturalist. And, having once mentioned these curious water-flies,
I cannot help going a little farther, and saying, that lucky is the
fisherman who is also a naturalist. A fair scientific knowledge of
the flies which he imitates, and of their habits, would often
ensure him sport, while other men are going home with empty creels.
One would have fancied this a self-evident fact; yet I have never
found any sound knowledge of the natural water-flies which haunt a
given stream, except among cunning old fishermen of the lower
class, who get their living by the gentle art, and bring to indoors
baskets of trout killed on flies, which look as if they had been
tied with a pair of tongs, so rough and ungainly are they; but
which, nevertheless, kill, simply because they are (in COLOUR,
which is all that fish really care for) exact likenesses of some
obscure local species, which happen to be on the water at the time.
Among gentlemen-fishermen, on the other hand, so deep is the
ignorance of the natural fly, that I have known good sportsmen
still under the delusion that the great green May-fly comes out of
a caddis-bait; the gentlemen having never seen, much less fished
with, that most deadly bait the "Water-cricket," or free creeping
larva of the May-fly, which may be found in May under the river-
banks. The consequence of this ignorance is that they depend for
good patterns of flies on mere chance and experiment; and that the
shop patterns, originally excellent, deteriorate continually, till
little or no likeness to their living prototype remains, being tied
by town girls, who have no more understanding of what the feathers
and mohair in their hands represent than they have of what the
National Debt represents. Hence follows many a failure at the
stream-side; because the "Caperer," or "Dun," or "Yellow Sally,"
which is produced from the fly-book, though, possibly, like the
brood which came out three years since on some stream a hundred
miles away, is quite unlike the brood which is out to-day on one's
own river. For not only do most of these flies vary in colour in
different soils and climates, but many of them change their hue
during life; the Ephemerae, especially, have a habit of throwing
off the whole of their skins (even, marvellously enough, to the
skin of the eyes and wings, and the delicate "whisks" at their
tail), and appearing in an utterly new garb after ten minutes'
rest, to the discomfiture of the astonished angler.

The natural history of these flies, I understand from Mr. Stainton
(one of our most distinguished entomologists), has not yet been
worked out, at least for England. The only attempt, I believe, in
that direction is one made by a charming book, "The Fly-fisher's
Entomology," which should be in every good angler's library; but
why should not a few fishermen combine to work out the subject for
themselves, and study for the interests both of science and their
own sport, "The Wonders of the Bank?" The work, petty as it may
seem, is much too great for one man, so prodigal is Nature of her
forms, in the stream as in the ocean; but what if a correspondence
were opened between a few fishermen - of whom one should live, say,
by the Hampshire or Berkshire chalk streams; another on the slates
and granites of Devon; another on the limestones of Yorkshire or
Derbyshire; another among the yet earlier slates of Snowdonia, or
some mountain part of Wales; and more than one among the hills of
the Border and the lakes of the Highlands? Each would find (I
suspect), on comparing his insects with those of the others, that
he was exploring a little peculiar world of his own, and that with
the exception of a certain number of typical forms, the flies of
his county were unknown a hundred miles away, or, at least,
appeared there under great differences of size and colour; and
each, if he would take the trouble to collect the caddises and
water-crickets, and breed them into the perfect fly in an aquarium,
would see marvels in their transformations, their instincts, their
anatomy, quite as great (though not, perhaps, as showy and
startling) as I have been trying to point out on the sea-shore.
Moreover, each and every one of the party, I will warrant, will
find his fellow-correspondents (perhaps previously unknown to him)
men worth knowing; not, it may be, of the meditative and half-
saintly type of dear old Izaak Walton (who, after all, was no fly-
fisher, but a sedentary "popjoy" guilty of float and worm), but
rather, like his fly-fishing disciple Cotton, good fellows and men
of the world, and, perhaps, something better over and above.

The suggestion has been made. Will it ever be taken up, and a
"Naiad Club" formed, for the combination of sport and science?

And, now, how can this desultory little treatise end more usefully
than in recommending a few books on Natural History, fit for the
use of young people; and fit to serve as introductions to such
deeper and larger works as Yarrell's "Birds and Fishes," Bell's
"Quadrupeds" and "Crustacea," Forbes and Hanley's "Mollusca,"
Owen's "Fossil Mammals and Birds," and a host of other admirable
works? Not that this list will contain all the best; but simply
the best of which the writer knows; let, therefore, none feel
aggrieved, if, as it may chance, opening these pages, they find
their books omitted.

First and foremost, certainly, come Mr. Gosse's books. There is a
playful and genial spirit in them, a brilliant power of word-
painting combined with deep and earnest religious feeling, which
makes them as morally valuable as they are intellectually
interesting. Since White's "History of Selborne," few or no
writers on Natural History, save Mr. Gosse, Mr. G. H. Lewes, and
poor Mr. E. Forbes, have had the power of bringing out the human
side of science, and giving to seemingly dry disquisitions and
animals of the lowest type, by little touches of pathos and humour,
that living and personal interest, to bestow which is generally the
special function of the poet: not that Waterton and Jesse are not
excellent in this respect, and authors who should be in every boy's
library: but they are rather anecdotists than systematic or
scientific inquirers; while Mr. Gosse, in his "Naturalist on the
Shores of Devon," his "Tour in Jamaica," his "Tenby," and his
"Canadian Naturalist," has done for those three places what White
did for Selborne, with all the improved appliances of a science
which has widened and deepened tenfold since White's time. Mr.
Gosse's "Manual of the Marine Zoology of the British Isles" is, for
classification, by far the completest handbook extant. He has
contrived in it to compress more sound knowledge of vast classes of
the animal kingdom than I ever saw before in so small a space. (35)

Miss Anne Pratt's "Things of the Sea-coast" is excellent; and still
better is Professor Harvey's "Sea-side Book," of which it is
impossible to speak too highly; and most pleasant it is to see a
man of genius and learning thus gathering the bloom of his varied
knowledge, to put it into a form equally suited to a child and a
SAVANT. Seldom, perhaps, has there been a little book in which so
vast a quantity of facts have been told so gracefully, simply,
without a taint of pedantry or cumbrousness - an excellence which
is the sure and only mark of a perfect mastery of the subject. Mr.
G. H. Lewes's "Sea-shore Studies" are also very valuable; hardly
perhaps a book for beginners, but from his admirable power of
description, whether of animals or of scenes, is interesting for
all classes of readers.

Two little "Popular" Histories - one of British Zoophytes, the
other of British Sea-weeds, by Dr. Landsborough (since dead of
cholera, at Saltcoats, the scene of his energetic and pious
ministry) - are very excellent; and are furnished, too, with well-
drawn and coloured plates, for the comfort of those to whom a
scientific nomenclature (as liable as any other human thing to be
faulty and obscure) conveys but a vague conception of the objects.
These may serve well for the beginner, as introductions to
Professor Harvey's large work on British Algae, and to the new
edition of Professor Johnston's invaluable "British Zoophytes,"
Miss Gifford's "Marine Botanist," third edition, and Dr. Cocks's
"Sea-weed Collector's Guide," have also been recommended by a high

For general Zoology the best books for beginners are, perhaps, as a
general introduction, the Rev. J. A. L. Wood's "Popular Zoology,"
full of excellent plates; and for systematic Zoology, Mr. Gosse's
four little books, on Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, and Fishes,
published with many plates, by the Christian Knowledge Society, at
a marvellously cheap rate. For miscroscopic animalcules, Miss
Agnes Catlow's "Drops of Water" will teach the young more than they
will ever remember, and serve as a good introduction to those
teeming abysses of the unseen world, which must be afterwards
traversed under the guidance of Hassall and Ehrenberg.

For Ornithology, there is no book, after all, like dear old Bewick,
PASSE though he may be in a scientific point of view. There is a
good little British ornithology, too, published in Sir W. Jardine's
"Naturalist's Library," and another by Mr. Gosse. And Mr. Knox's
"Ornithological Rambles in Sussex," with Mr. St. John's "Highland
Sports," and "Tour in Sutherlandshire," are the monographs of
naturalists, gentlemen, and sportsmen, which remind one at every
page (and what higher praise can one give?) of White's "History of
Selborne." These last, with Mr. Gosse's "Canadian Naturalist," and
his little book "The Ocean," not forgetting Darwin's delightful
"Voyage of the Beagle and Adventure," ought to be in the hands of
every lad who is likely to travel to our colonies.

For general Geology, Professor Ansted's Introduction is excellent;
while, as a specimen of the way in which a single district may be
thoroughly worked out, and the universal method of induction learnt
from a narrow field of objects, what book can, or perhaps ever
will, compare with Mr. Hugh Miller's "Old Red Sandstone"?

For this last reason, I especially recommend to the young the Rev.
C. A. Johns's "Week at the Lizard," as teaching a young person how
much there is to be seen and known within a few square miles of
these British Isles. But, indeed, all Mr. Johns's books are good
(as they are bound to be, considering his most accurate and varied
knowledge), especially his "Flowers of the Field," the best cheap
introduction to systematic botany which has yet appeared. Trained,
and all but self-trained, like Mr. Hugh Miller, in a remote and
narrow field of observation, Mr. Johns has developed himself into
one of our most acute and persevering botanists, and has added many
a new treasure to the Flora of these isles; and one person, at
least, owes him a deep debt of gratitude for first lessons in
scientific accuracy and patience, - lessons taught, not dully and
dryly at the book and desk, but livingly and genially, in
adventurous rambles over the bleak cliffs and ferny woods of the
wild Atlantic shore, -

"Where the old fable of the guarded mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold."

Mr. Henfrey's "Rudiments of Botany" might accompany Mr. Johns's
books. Mr. Babington's "Manual of British Botany" is also most
compact and highly finished, and seems the best work which I know
of from which a student somewhat advanced in English botany can
verify species; while for ferns, Moore's "Handbook" is probably the
best for beginners.

For Entomology, which, after all, is the study most fit for boys
(as Botany is for girls) who have no opportunity for visiting the
sea-shore, Catlow's "Popular British Entomology," having coloured
plates (a delight to young people), and saying something of all the
orders, is, probably, still a good work for beginners.

Mr. Stainton's "Entomologist's Annual for 1855" contains valuable
hints of that gentleman's on taking and arranging moths and
butterflies; as well as of Mr. Wollaston's on performing the same
kind office for that far more numerous, and not less beautiful
class, the beetles. There is also an admirable "Manual of British
Butterflies and Moths," by Mr. Stainton, in course of publication;

Book of the day: