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Woodlavm 25 Septr 1913 


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contain interesting seasideirea 
you Xike^then Please keep fj:yi 
in which I have written you: 


They were both published soi*t: 


I wish you could have had a 
f ;r Sea creatures . 


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Ever you 


Dear Pegg? I send you two books hich 
eading„you car. keep then bothks long 
your own, as the children say ^ the one 
nanc and return tc me the other one, 
time ago but I know of none better, 
onger tine in Mull, ’I believe it is f 

Affecte Uncle 







MARGATE. 


A 


BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


Beautiful, sublime, and glorious ; 

Mild, majestic, foaming, free ; — 
Over Time itself victorious, 

Image of Eternity. 

Such art thou, stupendous Ocean ! 

But, if overwhelm’d by thee, 

Can we think without emotion, 
What must thy Creator be ? 

Barton. 


%, (Bbiimn, 

WITH NUMEROUS ENGRAVINGS. 


LONDON: 

THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY; 

DEPOSITORIES, 56, PATERNOSTER ROW, 65, ST. PAUL’S CHURCHYARD, 
AND 1 64, PICCADILLY J AND SOLD BY THE BOOKSELLERS. 



CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

The Sea and Sea-cliffs ............ 1 

CHAPTER II. 

Plants of the Cliffs . 16 

CHAPTER III. 

Fishes 36 

CHAPTER IY. 

The Beach— Its Stones, Flowers, Molluscous Animals, 

and Shells 71 

CHAPTER Y. 

Sand and Sand-ripples— Plants of Sands and Marshes 
— Star-fishes, Sea-urchins, Sea-jellies— Phospho- 
rescence of the Sea 124 

CHAPTER VI. 

Sea-aveeds 150 


Y1 


CONTENTS. 


Sea-birds 


CHAPTER YH 


CHAPTER VIII. 

Sea-mouse and other Annelides— Various Crustaceans 

CHAPTER' IX. 


PAGE 

195 


226 


Sea-anemonevS, Corallines, and other Zoophytes 


246 


ftist at dupaWnp. 


Margate {Frontispiece ) . 

Sea View 1 

Terebratula Truncata . . 11 

Section of an Ammonite . . 12 

Belemnite ...... 13 

Dover 16 

Samphire .18 

Sea-cabbage 23 

Tamarisk 33 

Fishermen 36 

Heads of the Herring . . 39 

Mackerel Midge .... 47 
The Father Lasher ... 55 
The Fishing-frog, or Angler 60 

The Wolf-fish 61 

The John Dory 63 

Head of the Sucker-fish . . 66 

Eggs of Dog-fish .... 67 

The Sun-fish 69 

The Beach 71 

Yellow-horned Poppy . . 74 

The Ascidia 78 

Botryllus 80 

Teredo Navalis 81 

Pholas Dactylus .... 84 

Solen Siliqua 92 

Psammobia Ferroensis . . 93 


Tellina Tenuis and Bock 


Limpets 94 

Group of Mactra .... 95 

Donax Anatina 96 

Pinnae 101 

Pecten Opercularis . . . 106 

Anomia Ephippium . . .108 

Trochus Ziziphynus . . .113 

Spawn of Purpura Capillus. 119 
Octopus Yulgaris . . . .121 

Hastings . 124 

Convolvulus Soldanella . . 129 

Comatula Kosacea .... 132 
Uraster Bubens . . . .134 

Ophiura Texturata . . . 136 

Shell of Globular Echinus . 137 
Crickieth Castle, Wales . . 150 

Polysiphonia Parasitica . . 157 
Fucus Yesiculosus .... 158 
Cysosteira Ericoides . . .162 

Halidrys Siliquosa .... 164 

Chorda Filum 168 

Delesseria Sinuosa . . . .173 

Bhodymenia Palmata . .175 
Laurencia Pinnatifida . .178 

Chondrus Crispus . . . .179 

Griffithsia Setacea .... 182 


ENGRAVINGS. 


viii 


PAGE 

Plocamium Coccineum . . 182 

Corallina Officinalis . . . 184 

Ulva Latissima 189 

Chrysomenia Rosea . . .191 

Taonia Atomaria . . . .191 

Pishing off Yarmouth . . 195 

Sea-gulls 198 

Larus Ridibundus .... 200 

Head of Guillemot . . . 209 

Head of Razor-bill Auk . .211 

Head of Puffin 212 

The Cormorant 214 

The Stormy Petrel . . . 218 

Brading Harbour, Isle of 

Wight 226 

Aphrodita Aculeata . . . 227 


Spirorbis Nautiloides . . . 230 

Terebella Medusa .... 231 

Scarborough 246 

Sea-anemones and other Ac- 
tiniae 248 

Sea-fir 261 

Sea-hair 261 

Magnified portion of Sea-fir 262 
Magnified portion of Sea- 

hair 263 

Sickle-beard 264 

Magnified portion of Sickle- 

beard . 265 

Flustra Carbacea . . . .271 

Magnified portion of Sea-mat 271 
Action of a Living Sponge . 276 



CHAPTEK I. 

THE SEA AND SEA-CLIEES. 

The noonday sun is shining out upon the sea in all 
its lustre, and the small waves come rippling up on the 
pebbles so peacefully, that the melody of their motion 
is heard only by those who wander in silence on the 
shore. The old cliffs towering up so boldly are gleam- 
ing in its light, and contrasting beautifully with that 
deep blue sky above them, and with the golden flowers 
whose seeds were scattered there by the wild wind, 
making each crevice a spot of fertility and brightness. 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


That great and wide sea ! With what earnest and 
solemn thoughts did tlie psalmist look upon it, as he 
pondered on the things innumerable, both small and 
great, which dwell among its depths ; as he saw the 
white sails of the ships, and mused on the stormy 
wind which lifteth up the waters ; and remembered, 
with solemn confidence and joy, that word of power 
which “ maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves 
thereof are still !” 

The old ocean rolls on yet, as mightily and as music- 
ally as it did then, bearing to us all the same recollec- 
tions as it brought to Israel of old ; fraught, too, with 
other associations of power and sweetness. We look 
on its waves, to remember how the Saviour himself 
walked upon the waters, in the calm majesty of the 
Godhead, and with the loving spirit of human sym- 
pathy. Tor us are written the words of pity and 
encouragement which he spoke, when, though the dis- 
ciples had but little faith, he could yet save and cheer 
them with the assurance, “It is I; be not afraid.” 
Tor us, too, is recorded a description of that haven of 
rest upon which the believer shall one day enter, 
where no storm shall terrify, no wave shall roll its 
sorrow ; for there shall be “ no more sea.” 

That sea told to by-gone ages of the “ Eternal Power 
and Godhead and the greater revelations still which 
it has made to the men of modern days, have taught 
us this as impressively as the waves themselves could 
utter it, had they voices to tell the truth. Suc- 
ceeding generations have learned more thoroughly to 
read the handwriting of God on the page of nature, as 
one thoughtful mind has bequeathed to another some- 
thing of the results of its own researches ; and the 
flowers of the fields, and the stars of the sky, and the 
wonders of the deep, are now so much better known 
and understood, that nature should bear to us a still 
more impressive lesson of Deity than it conveyed to 
our fathers. 

That deep, independently of its vast stores of life, is 


THE SEA AKD SEA-CLIEES. 


3 


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


4 


A BOOK BOB, THE SEA-SIDE. 


flowers, both of wood and garden, finer than in the 
Channel Isles. 

Even on our own southern shores there is a general 
appearance of luxuriance, and many plants of tropical 
lands will flourish by the sea, which would not thrive 
so well away from its influence. It is a generally 
acknowledged fact, that the climate of a place on the 
shore is not so cold as that of an inland district in the 
same latitude. The atmosphere near the sea is never 
heated, during the day, to the same degree as in a 
place of that latitude far from the coast ; but it is, in 
the same proportion, less cooled through the night ; 
and the result is, not a colder, but a warmer climate 
than an inland place near it. The absence, also, of 
the extremes of daily heat and cold diminish the 
annual extremes of summer and winter ; and thus a 
climate is produced which is favourable to the growth 
of these plants of warmer countries. The myrtle 
thrives in Ireland, almost as well as in Portugal ; and 
so, too, on the coast of Devonshire, 

“ The meek unshelter’d myrtle sweetly blooms.” 

At Salcombe, this plant and the aloe attain remarkable 
perfection. Several houses in Mary Church, near 
Torquay, and, indeed, of almost every village on the 
southern coast of Devon, are profusely adorned with 
the former plant. Even on more exposed and colder 
coasts, as at Dover, in gardens sheltered by the cliffs, 
may be seen the rich orange fruits of the common 
passion-flower, looking, as they hang from the green 
bough, scarcely less beautiful than the starry blossoms 
which hung among those festoons in the summer. 

That this sea air, with its peculiarities, is favourable 
to the health of man, and exceedingly beneficial in 
many cases of disease, all experience has proved. Most 
of our sea-side towns are the gathering places of 
thousands during summer ; while others afford a 
sheltered asylum to the invalid in the cold of winter. 
There the patient breathes an atmosphere impregnated 


THE SEA AHD SEA-CLIFES. 


5 


with a profusion of common salt, and a lesser amount of 
bromine and iodine ; substances which, if inhaled into 
the system, have a singular and restorative power. So 
favourable to the health of the lungs is the salt air, that 
in Alexandria, which is at all times damp, but the atmo- 
sphere of which is surcharged with muriate of ammonia 
and muriate of soda, disease of the lungs is unknown. 
The saline particles are so abundant there, that it is 
impossible to keep iron from rust, and they condense on 
the walls and furniture of the houses in small crystals. 

The constant agitation of the waves has also a most 
important influence on the neighbourhood of the ocean. 
It is by means of their incessant motion that the air 
is purified. Those deep waters contain, not only the 
living, but the dead. Vast masses of decomposing 
animal and vegetable matters, the refuse of the sea 
itself, and the refuse also of the land, lie beneath 
the waves. The mineral ingredients of the waters 
themselves possess a foetid, slimy matter, of which we 
are made conscious by their bitter and nauseous 
flavour, which is probably induced by the decomposition 
going on in the ocean. So great is the amount of 
this, that if sea-water remain long without agitation, it 
passes into a state of putrefaction ; and on some low 
tropical coasts, where long calms are experienced, it 
exhales very unpleasant odours, which are noxious also 
in their effects on the health of man. Much of the 
decomposing matter is devoured by living creatures, to 
whom God has given a voracious appetite, that they 
may prey on dead things ; much is assimilated to the 
nutrition of the sea- weeds, and the brine preserves 
much from decay; yet, after all, we need those ever- 
rolling waves to render the air perfectly healthful. 

Besides the physical influences of the sea air on the 
visitors to our shores, there are various mental ones, 
which go to aid in the restoration of lost health. We 
live in days of peculiar mental excitement, in days of 
great contrasts of religious opinions, of great competi- 
tion in all departments of the business of life, and 


6 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


when even the hours of recreation are but too often 
occupied with pleasures of an exciting nature. The 
very facilities of travelling afforded to the men of our 
times, and the various other methods of dispatch so 
general now, have given to the present age a restless 
activity, which, favourable as it is to progress, is, doubt- 
less, often unfavourable to bodily health. Never was 
there a time when repose of mind was more desirable, 
and when the occasional relaxation of a sea-side visit 
was more commonly needed. Here, free alike from the 
cares of life and from household anxieties, from the 
stimulating pleasures of fashion, and even from the 
more reasonable restraints of society, the wanderer by 
the shore may find repose ; while, if he have a mind at 
leisure to contemplate nature, he may behold himself 
surrounded by all that is sublime and soothing. Here 
are no temptations to linger within doors. The shining 
sun, and the rolling sea, and the fresh pure breezes, 
encourage him to bodily exercise. Even the mind of 
the listless or idle can find some amusement in watching 
the coming and going of the vessels, the mirth of the 
glad companies of children, and the playful merriment 
of older people, who, in the buoyancy inspired by 
the air, are wisely forgetting that they are no longer 
children, as they play with the advancing waves. To 
the reflective mind, however — to the lover of nature 
and of knowledge — what a field is here for thought 
and interest ! Those who already know something of 
marine productions, and are longing to know more, 
have only to wander on with observing eyes, and proofs 
of the skill and power of God shall be brought by the 
waters to their very hand. Even those, who without 
thinking further of these things, but who have a love 
of beauty and grace, find their gratification here among 
the most common objects around them ; while the sea 
itself, in its grandeur of storm or its smoothness of 
calm, amidst the glowing hues of the rising or setting 
sun, or by the light of the silver moon and the stars, is 
a never-failing source of admiration 


THE SEA AND SEA-CLIEES. 


7 


The fitness of those waters for the purposes of civi- 
lization and of moral and religious progress, cannot fail 
to interest the considering man. To cast the eye on 
a map of the world, and see how islands, continents, 
and other portions of land are separated by the sea, 
one might think that it would prove a barrier to the 
intercourse of nations. But the Grod who spoke those 
seas into existence gave to man the skill to traverse 
them, and to make them the silent and pathless high- 
way, over which, in safety and comparative speed, those 
ships should be borne which go so often to carry, from 
land to land, the necessaries and luxuries of life, and 
to awaken to thought and feeling, to light and to 
devotion, the people who have long dwelt in moral 
darkness. 

We, .know but little of the depths of seas. Our 
English Channel, at the east of the Eddystone light- 
house, is not more than fifty fathoms deep, and its depth 
increases but slowly to the west. The Irish Channel is 
some thirty or forty fathoms deeper than this, but the 
depth of the main body of the sea is far greater ; and 
in some parts of the Atlantic no bottom was found in 
soundings which reached 300 fathoms, while in sound- 
ings made in several places between Spitzbergen and 
Greenland, with from 780 to 1200 fathoms, no base 
was reached. 

As we walk on the shore, looking on the sea, we re- 
mark how variously it seems coloured at different parts. 
Here a long line of darkly tinted sea- weeds, growing 
on rocks just covered with water, and which at low tide 
form a margin to the shore, gives to the waters above 
them a blackish hue. How a passing cloud tinges the 
surface with a bright sea-green, or a line glitters like 
gold in the sunlight. It is not, however, till we have 
quitted the shore and sailed away into greater depths, 
that we come into what the sailor terms blue water, and 
see the beautiful ultramarine tint of the sea. This 
was long supposed to be caused by reflection from the 
atmosphere ; but as it is often of a far deeper blue 


8 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


than the sky itself, and as it is blue still when murky 
clouds obscure the azure, its cause must yet be sought. 
Some changes occur in this blue colour owing to the 
material and hue of the soil beneath the waves, and it 
is modified by the presence of shoals. The Greenland 
sea has long been known to vary more than most others, 
changing its tint from ultramarine to olive-green, and 
passing from the most perfect clearness to deep opacity. 
Mr. Scoresby ascertained that in this case the green 
colour and opaqueness were caused by innumerable 
animals of the tribe of jelly-fishes, which, when ex- 
amined, seemed like little crystal drops or air-bubbles, 
being semi-transparent globular substances about one- 
twentieth or one-thirtieth part of an inch in diameter. 
These exist, but in far less quantity, in the bluish- 
green water ; but so innumerable are they in the olive- 
green part of the sea, that Mr. Scoresby calculated that 
a cubic fathom of this water would contain twenty - 
three or twenty-four millions of individuals. 

How regular are many of the operations of nature ! 
We lie down at night after seeing the sun apparently 
sink in the waves of the west, knowing confidently that 
it will again to-morrow gild the eastern gates of the 
heavens. So it is with the flowers and fruits in their 
appointed seasons ; so it is with death itself ; for how- 
ever human life may be prolonged, we know that the 
threescore years and ten shall have few to succeed 
them. Constant as any law of nature, is that which 
regulates the rise and ebb of the tide. Every mariner 
can calculate upon it; yet, as we daily mark this 
regularity, we know not how it is to be accounted for. 
We are aware of the fact that the alternate ebb and 
flow are caused by the attraction of the sun and 
moon ; but when the philosopher is asked to explain 
that attraction, he declares it to be inexplicable — he 
only knows it by its results. Like electricity, like 
life itself, like the eternity revealed by the Scripture, 
it cannot be explained ; and the mind of the Chris- 
tian, while contemplating such subjects, is compelled, 


THE SEA AND SEA-CLIEFS. 


9 


amidst the feeling of his own finite understanding, to 
think on the infinite nature of God. 

The difference made by the winds in the surface of 
the sea is not only useful in changing all the air about 
us, but it gives it its various aspects of beauty or sub- 
limity. Now the margin of the ocean is scarcely 
rippled into a wave, and is falling gently on the shore. 
Now it is somewhat rougher, and far away over the 
blue distance we see those breaking surges, which the 
sailor calls white heads or white horses. Again the 
wind sweeps suddenly over the sea, and rising higher 
and higher, strikes the face of the water in an oblique 
direction, driving a portion on the surface over that 
which is near ; and, raising it thus so far above the 
ordinary level, accumulates so much water as that the 
wind cannot maintain it in that position, and thus 
again it dashes downwards. Every wave presents to 
the windward a gently ascending surface, and to the 
leeward a nearly perpendicular descent ; while the 
size of the wave is greatly determined by the strength 
of the wind which raises it, though varying in some 
measure according to the depth and extent of the sea. 
The waves on our own shores seldom rise to a height 
of more than six or eight feet above the level of the 
water ; but stronger gales and deeper seas have waves 
far more terrible to the sailor. Nor do the waves 
subside always immediately as the wind lowers ; for 
when the gale is over they still keep raging on awhile, 
bringing up to us, as we wander by them, many a 
treasure which winds and waters have torn from the 
deep below. 

Amidst all the changes effected by winds and waves, 
few thoughtful persons look upon the sea without 
feeling the truth of the words of the poet, who, in 
describing the tide, says — 

“Its everlasting changes bring no change 
and who refers to 

“ The ocean’s face immutable as heaven’s.” 


10 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


Something like these are the thoughts which arise 
within us as we look upon the cliffs. Numerous ages 
have rolled away since they were in the course of 
formation. Even since the period when our land 
received its name from the white cliffs about our 
shore, more than sixty generations have lived and died. 
Could the men of those times revisit earth, how great 
would be the alterations which they would see in 
things around ! Nothing, perhaps, would seem familiar 
to them save that unchanging sea and those everlasting 
hills. “ One generation passeth away, and another 
generation cometh ; but the earth abideth for ever.” 

What revelations of older ages lie embedded among 
the mass of which our cliffs are composed ! The chalk 
is entirely a marine deposit. That white substance is 
composed of carbonate of lime, and may have been 
precipitated from water holding a bicarbonate of lime 
in solution, from which an excess of carbonic acid was 
expelled. But a large proportion of our purest chalk 
is evidently chiefly, if not wholly, composed of the 
remains of corals, zoophytes, shells, star-fishes, and 
other animal substances ; and in some portions of 
chalk, relics of sea-weeds appear in great abundance. 
We can at any time find remains of large shells in the 
chalk ; but never till the microscope was brought to 
bear upon the crushed or perfect shells which form 
the grains of this material, could we imagine how 
many myriads of these lay hidden from the human 
eye. Ehrenberg ascertained the wonderful fact, that 
a cubic inch of chalk contains upwards of a million of 
the fossil remains of perfect shells and corals. Little 
does the thoughtless wanderer on the shore think to 
what small animals he is indebted for the portion of 
earth on which he is walking. That chalk too will, if 
burned, make as good lime as the hardest marble. 
Many buildings have been made of chalk. Thus the 
abbey of Hurley, in Berkshire, and its parish church, 
anciently a chapel, are said to be made of chalk, and 
the remains of these are as fresh and unimpaired as if 


THE SEA ATSD SEA-CLIEES. 


11 


the builders had been men of the last century. The 
same may be said of the abbey at St. Omer’s, which 
was ruined during the Trench Revolution, but which 
still retains its beautiful Grothic ornaments in great 
perfection. Many other deposits besides the chalk 
consist largely of marine remains, and, like these hills, 
sometimes stand far away from the present boundaries 
of ocean, containing still traditions of the sea. But 
the extensive and magnificent range of chalk cliffs 
along our southern coasts, and the remarkable features 
and perfectly distinctive characters of this rock, render 
it more especially a fitting subject for our remarks. 

Among those patriarchal cliffs some of the com- 
monest fossils may be found at any time, but we may 
chance, too, to find some of the rarest ; for, however 
carefully any portion of cliffs may have been examined, 
the frequent fracture, and constant wearing of the 
surface, leave fresh parts yet unstudied. The shells 
contained in the chalk are often somewhat similar to 
those which are now washed up by the waves, and are 
at once recognised as resembling familiar things ; but 
they are found to be different species from those now 
in our seas. Oysters, scallops, tellens, and various 
other common genera abound there ; while there are 
also many, which even at a glance 
we know to be different from the 
shells of the present times. The 
shells found in the chalk are chiefly 
two-valved species. The more nu- 
merous kinds of shells which we 
shall find are the different species 
of terebratula, which are two-valved 
shells, sometimes quite smooth, 
in other kinds furrowed ; various 
shells belong to the oyster tribe, 
one of which is exceedingly similar 
to our oyster, and several scallop-shells, well known by 
the ridges, which run like rays from the top of the 
shell to the base. But perhaps the shells most easily 




12 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


described to a reader unacquainted with these objects, 
are those of the nautilus and ammonite. The ammonite 
is altogether extinct in our seas, yet it must once 
have abounded there, for in some lime-stone districts 
the marble is almost wholly composed of its shells ; 



THE AMMONITE. 

and at low water on some parts of the Sussex coast, 
where the chalk forms the basis, enormous specimens 
are often seen embedded. The ammonite (Cornu Am- 
monis) was so named from its fancied resemblance to 
the horn of Jupiter Ammon, and it varies in size from 
a most minute shell to one of twelve or even fourteen 
feet in circumference. This coiled shell is well known 
in geological collections by the name of petrified or 
stone snake, and is often sold with a false head carved 
and attached to it. Old superstitions relate that— 

u Of a thousand snakes each one 
Was turn’d into a coil of stone 
When holy Hilda pray’d.” 

And some similar traditions yet linger in the north of 
England, where these shells abound. The species of 
the nautilus found in chalk will be easily distinguished 
from other shells, because although the exact forms 
are extinct, yet the nautilus still spreads its gauzy 
sail to the zephyrs of tropical seas, and its clear and 
beautifully formed shell is so commonly used as an 
ornament that we are all familiar with it. The nautilus 
and its congeners are among the earliest traces of the 


THE SEA AHD SEA-CLIEES. 


13 


animal kingdom, and must once have been very nume- 
rous. Mrs. Howitt’s lines to this fossil shell are very 
appropriate : — 

“ Thou didst laugh at sun and breeze, 

In the new-created seas ; 

Thou wast with the reptile broods 
In the old sea solitudes ; 

Sailing in the new-made light 
With the curTd-up ammonite. 

Thou surviv’dst the awful shock 
Which turn’d the ocean-bed to rock, 

And changed the myriad living swarms 
To the marble’s veined forms.” 

It is not always the shells themselves which we find 
as fossil relics, sometimes it is but the cast of the 
ammonite or the nautilus. The same may be said of 
those spiral species, the tower shells, ( Turrilites ,) 
which occur in the chalk in great abundance, and the 
largest specimens of which are found in the cliffs of 
Dover, and in the chalk marl at Bingmer, near Lewes, 
in Sussex. 

Everybody familiar with chalk cliffs has 
seen there those common fossils the belem- 
nites, which form almost the entire substance 
of some limestones on the Continent. They 
are long cylindrical stones, terminating in a 
point, and having at the uppermost and 
largest end a conical cavity. In perfect 
specimens a shell is situated in the hollow, 
but this is rarely found in the chalk fossil. 

These belemnites are commonly called thun- 
der-stones, and the writer has heard children 
term them slate-pencils, and seen them 
used for writing on slates. Sometimes they 
are dark brown, sometimes clear as amber, 
and though usually about the size of a com- 
mon lead pencil, yet they are occasionally 
twelve inches long. 

But as chalk cliffs are not found on every shore, we 
must not linger over their contents. Star-fishes and 



14 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


various kinds of sea eggs, or echinites, as the geologist 
calls them, are plentiful there ; the last equalling in 
number all the other structures found in this deposit, 
one entire genus being peculiar to it. Helmet-shaped, 
conical, heart-shaped, and spheroidal sea eggs may all 
be easily distinguished, sometimes having on them the 
remains of their spiny covering, sometimes presenting 
on their surfaces the traces whence the spines have 
been detached. 

Perhaps a wanderer, in striking some ledge of that 
old chalk cliff, may bring to light a fossil fish, more or 
less perfect in form, and lying there as if it had been 
moulded in plaster of Paris, with fins, scales, head, 
teeth, and sometimes even with the capsule of the eye, 
all plainly visible. Each geological formation, exhibits 
groups of fossil fishes, but those found in the chalk 
are evidently the representatives of species not only 
which have no existence in our seas at present, but 
also differ from those of an earlier geological era, 
particularly that of the old-red-sandstone. 

These fossil remains not only reveal absolute facts 
to the man of science, but enable him often to deduce 
valuable inferences of a less obvious character. We 
will adduce one simple mode of reasoning from an 
isolated fact, in order to show this to the reader. 
Those common fossils, the trilobites, are found to have 
the compound eyes belonging to existing insects, and 
to animals of the crab and lobster kind — Crustacea, as 
the naturalist terms them. This construction proves 
that the mutual relations of light to the eye, and of 
the eye to light, were the same in the periods when 
the trilobites flourished as at the present day; and 
that the condition of the sea and the atmosphere, and 
the relation of both to light, have undergone no change 
during the years which have been since then rolling 
onwards to eternity. This will show how much may 
be learned of the past by thoughtful inquiry into its 
relics. The steps in the progress in any department 
of science may be slow, but when once made, the 


THE SEA AND SEA-CLIEES. 


15 


knowledge becomes, as has been well observed, “a 
mighty instrument of thought, enabling us to link 
together the phenomena of past and future times, and 
gives the mind a domination over many parts of the 
natural world, by teaching it to comprehend the laws 
by which the Creator has ordained that the actions of 
material things shall be governed . 55 

Beds of flint in the upper chalk are too obvious not 
to be seen by all ; and often, embedded in the chalk, 
or lying at its base, or mingling with the pebbles of 
the beach, we may find masses of iron pyrites, ( sulpJiuret 
of iron.) This is sometimes called copperas, and 
round pieces of it are known on some parts of our 
coast by the name of potato-stones or thunderbolts, 
and are common articles of sale among the fossils, and 
are preserved in many cabinets under the impression 
that they are meteoric stones. These masses are 
often bronzed on the surface, but in some cases they 
have glittering small knobs. Many of them are no 
larger than a pea, occurring from that size to pieces 
several inches in diameter. They are mostly crystal- 
line, and on being broken generally exhibit a fibrous 
and diverging structure of glittering rays. Beautiful 
little crystals of this mineral are often found filling the 
cavities of shells. Sometimes the chalk is stained of 
rich rust colour by this iron, thus contrasting with its 
pure whiteness. Eossil fish, too, are often marked 
with most brilliant tints, their bones, scales, etc., 
having a rich bronzed hue. This is owing to the 
circumstance that during the process of their decom- 
position they emitted sulphuretted hydrogen, and this 
sulphur entering into combination with the surround- 
ing water, sulphuret of iron was formed by the 
chemical action. 



DOVER. 


CHAPTEK II. 

PLANTS OP THE CLIFES. 

Of whatever rock our cliffs may be composed, they 
contain bidden objects of great interest. None are of 
more importance than those which relate to botany, 
and which both elucidate it as a science, and by 
distinguishing the character of plants belonging to 
each sort of rock, determines, at the same time, the 
individual kind of geological formation to which such 
rock belongs. But this is not all. There is an 
outward beauty conferred on many heights ; and soft 
green grasses, and flowering shrubs and blossoms of 
the richest hue, are studding their slopes and summits. 
The wild sea-bird looks down on many a lovely floweret, 
blooming far from the eye of man ; and plants which 


PLANTS OP THE CLIEES, 


17 


we should search for in vain on inland meadows or 
banks, have their home here, and are sending their 
roots down in that soil, consolidating it by their fibres. 
To see how small a portion of earth is lodged in the 
crevices, and what a shallow ridge of land crowns the 
height — to hear the roaring gales of winter rushing 
round the clifis — one would think that this was no 
place for flowers. But if gales blow there, the high 
cliff forms on the other side a shelter, and the sun 
shines out in all its glory there as elsewhere ; and 
plants suited to barren places and sea air spring up 
and thrive, and green leaves wave to the morning gale, 
or sparkle with the evening dewdrops. 


“ Man who, 


toils 



O’er slippery steeps, or, trembling, treads the verge 
Of yawning gulfs, o’er which the headlong plunge 
Is to eternity, looks shuddering up, 

And marks you in your placid loveliness — 

Fearless, yet frail.” 

Not to tell of white knots of squinancy wort, look- 
ing like patches of snow ; or blossoms of the eyebright, 
almost hidden among the grass ; of golden rock-roses 
and wallflowers ; of clumps of honey-scented bedstraw, 
and wide-spread masses of bugloss, blue as the heaven 
above — we must describe such flowers, and such only, 
as belong to the sea-side ; and if found at all away 
from the melody of Ocean’s music, are only to be seen 
clustering on the mountain heights of lands distant 
from the sea. Some of them, indeed, are found only on 
the sea-coast, although a very close connexion exists 
between this flora and that on the highest mountain- 
tops of our island. An example is seen in the common 
scurvy grass, which has its habitat in each district. 

The samphire, ( Crithmum maritimum ,) hangs its 
green tufts high up on several of our sea-side cliffs, 
always beyond the reach of even the highest tide, 
though not so far removed as that a dashing surf may 
not sometimes send up its spray upon them. Some- 
times this plant grows within the reach of the passer- 
by ; but more often the eye of the flower-lover detects 


18 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


it far away from his grasp, knowing it easily from all 
other plants by its clumps of sea-green foliage, varied 
in August by clusters of little pale yellow flowers. 
The tallest stalks are usually about a foot in length, 
and it is very succulent in its nature. It belongs to 
the umbelliferous tribe of plants, and its clusters grow 
in rays from a central point, like the spokes of an 



SAMPHIRE. 


umbrella. This is the sampier, or sampire, of our 
older writers, mentioned in so many ballads and poems, 
and referred to by Shakspeare. It is decidedly the 
best fitted of all our wild plants for pickling ; for it 
does not, like the saltwort, which is often sold as its 
substitute, depend wholly for its excellence on vinegar 
and spices. It is pungent and agreeable in flavour, 
though not often in our days used as a salad, as it was 
formerly. It would, however, be no bad addition to 
this dish ; and some who have studied various subjects 
connected with the diet of past and present times, are 
of opinion that the modern salad is very inferior to 
that served up two hundred years ago. The samphire 


PLANTS OP THE CLIPFS. 


19 


is still pickled at sea-side places, and may, in its season, 
be procured in the London market; but were John 
Evelyn living, he might complain now, with even more 
justice than he did in the days of the second Charles, 
of the general neglect of this herb. This writer remarks 
that, for its “ aromatic and other excellent vertues,” 
and effects against the spleen, for sharpening the 
appetite and various good purposes, it is “so far 
preferable to most of our hotter herbs and sallet 
ingredients,” that he says, “ I have often wondered it 
has not been propagated in the jpotagere , as it is in 
Erance, from whence I have frequently received the 
seeds, which have prospered better and more kindly 
with me than what comes from our coasts. It does 
not, indeed, pickle so well, as being of a more tender 
stalk and leaf ; but in all other respects, for composing 
sallet s, it has nothing like it.” Gardeners of our days 
have cultivated it for pickling with great success ; but 
a large quantity of it dies ungathered every summer 
on many of our sea-side rocks and cliffs, or remains 
half through the winter, to enliven them with its 
greenness. The French call it crest e-marin , or la 
bacile ; but long before the time of John Evelyn, it 
was called by them herbe de St. Pierre , of which our 
modern name seems the corruption. It is the critmo 
of the Italians, and the meerfenchel of the Germans. 

Hanging like tresses down the rocky sides, we may 
often see the green trailing stalks of that little plant, 
the sea spurrey sandwort, ( Arenaria marina .) It is 
very succulent, its stems about as thick as twine, its 
leaves of semi-cylindrical form, as sharp pointed as a 
needle, and scarcely thicker than that little implement. 
Small, reddish lilac, star-shaped flowers grow here and 
there between the leaf and stem ; and when the blossom 
is over, seed-vessels hang down on the flower stalks, 
and are plucked in autumn by the robin or sparrow, 
or any other bird which may wing its way from inland 
haunts to take a look at the sea. Nor does our sand- 
wort confine itself to the rocky height. It grows on 


20 


A BOOK FOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


the sandy shore, among the pebbles of the beach, 
beyond the reach of the waves ; and spreads its clumps 
over the ground of many a yard by the sea, where 
boats and ships are being built and repaired, seeming 
to need but the saline air to call it into existence. It 
is always, however, a far more elegant plant when 
growing up the cliff than on the ground. 

Bound about the base of the cliff, where the sand 
lies scattered, or is trodden into a firm soil, we may 
often gather the prickly saltwort, or sea-grape, ( Sal- 
sola Jcali,) with its prostrate angular stems, bearing a 
single flower of pale greenish hue, with three little 
leaves, or bracteas, as the botanist calls them, at the 
base of each floweret. This genus was named from sal, 
salt, because an alkaline salt is obtained from it, and 
this exists especially in our British species. The soda 
contained in some of them was in former times of so 
much value, that large quantities were cultivated in the 
south of Europe. 

A much prettier plant than the saltwort is the 
common thrift, ( Statice armeria,) often called sea-pink, 
or sea-gilliflower, and which is not only ornamental to 
the maritime cliffs, but also to the marshes at some 
distance from the sea. During winter, its foliage seems 
like tufts of grass among the crevices of the slopes ; but 
in some of these quiet nooks, where a projecting ledge 
shelters it from the keen north and east winds, it 
blooms there even in December, fingering on with many 
an autumnal or summer flower, as if it had forgotten 
that winter had come. On the marsh, its large round 
heads of pale rose-coloured or purple flowers are more 
conspicuous, as they form bright patches among the 
short grasses and taller rushes, or in July and August, 
are so numerous as to make it seem one sheet of white. 
Little gardens, rescued from the beach itself, and en- 
closed with the pale green feathery boughs of the tama- 
risk, exhibit richly coloured rows of this pretty flower 
around their beds ; and high up on the mountain, far 
away from the sea-shore, the thrift is sometimes seen. 


PLANTS OP THE CLIPPS. 


21 


Here the wanderer might think of him described by 
Mrs. Sigourney, who 

“ Blesses their pencil! d beauty. ’Mid the pomp 
Of mountain summits, rushing on the sky, 

And charming the rapt soul in breathless awe, 

He bows to bind them drooping to his breast ; 

Inhales their spirit from the frost- wing’d gale, 

And freer dreams of heaven.” 

But when the thrift grows on the inland hills, though 
no outward change marks it, yet it is changed in its 
properties. Here, on our cliffs and marshes, it contains 
in some abundance both iodine and soda. These are 
greatly lessened in the mountain flower ; which, on the 
other hand, increases its quantity of potash. 

It is only of late years that iodine has been proved 
to exist in maritime plants, though it has long been 
procured from those of the sea itself. Chemical investi- 
gation has, however, proved that it occurs in the sea- 
side feverfew; in the sea grimmia, a dull-looking 
green moss, which in spring and autumn grows in 
rounded tufts on the rocks about our shores ; and in 
that yellowish grey lichen, called the ivory ramalina, 
(Ramalina scopulorum ,) which often hangs in loose 
tufts beside it. A chemical analysis was made of these 
three plants, and of the little olive-coloured tuft which, 
being washed by the spray at high tide, is by some 
writers considered a sea- weed, by others a lichen, and 
called the lesser lichina, ( Lichina conjinis.') All these 
were growing near together, and were during storms 
occasionally washed by the sea spray ; and all except 
the lichina were found to contain iodine. As the 
specimens were carefully washed previously to analysis, 
the iodine could not have been derived from saline 
incrustation. All these vegetables were healthy ; and 
Mr. Brand, who made this experiment, has thence con- 
cluded that the marine algae — the sea- weeds — “ are not 
the only plants which possess the power of separating 
from sea- water the compounds of iodine, and of con- 
densing them in their tissues, and this without any 
detriment to their healthy functions.” 


22 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


Look up, and see how the grass, far above, is speckled 
with yellow flowers of dandelions and hawkweeds, or 
with pink tufts of the centaury, while the red sorrel 
and the pellitory of the wall stand above them. How 

f lad are the butterflies of the numerous blossoms which 
ang about the spiny boughs of the furze, ( TJlex Euro- 
pceus ,) so plentiful on many banks by the sea, and 
bearing well the winds there, and receiving no harm 
from an occasional dash of salt spray. Well may the 
French call it jonc marin — sea rush — for it seems to 
rejoice in saline airs, and to grow quite as well there as 
on the inland common. It is not so useful on the cliff 
as on the village green, for if is not so accessible to 
those who would gather it for domestic purposes. It is 
well, however, that it is not, for it is of no small service 
in holding together the loose soil, and it gives a beauty 
in summer and winter to our shores, which have usually 
but few shrubs and trees to grace them. 

“ Mountain gorses, ever golden, 

Canker’ d not the whole year long ; 

Do ye teach us to be strong, 

Howsoever pinch’d and holden, 

Like your thorned blooms, and so, 

Trodden on by rain and snow, 

Along the hill-side of this life, as bleak as where ye grow.” 

On cliffs and banks by the sea which are not too 
precipitous for the peasant boy, we may see him some- 
times gathering the furze for fuel, or for heating the 
oven, for it burns with rapidity, and with a great 
degree of heat. In the olden times, the peasant col- 
lected the boughs for burning lime; but improved 
roads and canals have brought coals so much more 
within reach, that it is less used now. Yet the young 
shoots are good food for cattle, and if rolled are 
greatly relished by horses. Furze is said always to 
contain salt, so that it is not only nutritious and 
agreeable to cattle, but is a valuable preventive and 
remedy for some of their maladies. 

But we must turn to a plant to be found on no place 
away from the sea, and which is quite peculiar to our 


PLANTS OP THE CLIPPS. 


23 


maritime cliffs. This is the sea-side or cliff cabbage, 
( Brossica oleracea ;) and if we tell our reader that its 
young clumps of leaves are very similar to the young 
garden cabbage plants, he will know it at once in its 



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


24 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


This plant is the origin of onr garden cabbages, in 
all their endless varieties ; though we may ask with 
Beckmann, “ Who knows how many steps and grada- 
tions were necessary before cabbages, savoys, and cauli- 
flowers were produced from our common colewort ?” 
Yet a similarity is certainly apparent between our cliff 
cabbage and the leaves of all those varieties which 
furnish our vegetable diet. As this learned author 
humorously remarks, “ With a little ingenuity, one 
might form a genealogical tree of them, as Buffon has 
done of the race of dogs ; but a genealogical tree, 
without proofs, is of as little value in natural history 
as in claims for hereditary titles or estates.” 

Some species of cabbage were used by the Bomans. 
Their brassica very evidently belonged to the cabbage 
genus, though which kinds were included under it, it 
would now be impossible to define. No doubt, in the 
course of ages, some varieties have been lost, as we 
know several have been obtained by long-continued 
culture. It is therefore probable that the cabbage 
which the ancients, to prevent intoxication, ate in a raw 
state, like a salad, is not now in existence ; though we 
know that our common cabbage is sometimes dressed 
in this way. The ancients were in the habit of eating 
a curled cabbage, which was probably some kind of 
brocoli. But Beckmann observes, that we can nowhere 
find traces of that “ excellent preparation of cabbage,” 
called by the Germans sour 'kraut , though the ancients 
dressed turnips in the same manner. He adds, “ I 
should have been inclined to consider sour kraut as a 
German invention, first made in Lower Saxony, which 
our neighbours learned from us in modern times, had 
not Bellon related that the Turks are accustomed to 
pickle cabbage for winter food.” 

Sometimes our cliff cabbage is eaten, and even carried 
about for sale, in places near the sea ; but the little 
expense of garden vegetables renders it of slight service 
to us. It requires long washing previously to cooking, 
and is then, as the writer knows by experience, as good 


PLANTS OP THE CLIPPS. 


25 


as a dish of garden greens. Perhaps, in long remote 
periods of onr country, it may have been prized by 
those who lived among the old hills where it flourishes ; 
hut it is not likely that it ever was so welcomed as was 
the sea-side cabbage of the Kerguelen Island, when it 
was gathered from that dreary land by the crews of the 
Erebus and Terror. This plant is described by Sir J ames 
Ross as abounding near the sea, ascending to the very 
summits of the hills on the shores. The leaves and 
heads were of the size of a good cabbage-lettuce, “ and,” 
says our Antarctic voyager, “ the plant possesses all 
the good qualities of its English namesake ; while, from 
its containing a great abundance of essential oil, it 
never produces any heartburn, or any of those un- 
pleasant sensations which some of our vegetables are 
apt to do.” The roots have the flavour of horseradish, 
and the young leaves or hearts that of mustard-and- 
cress. How welcome was this plant to our country- 
men in those inhospitable regions where vegetables are 
so few, and after their long confinement to a diet 
consisting wholly of salt provisions 1 Eor one hundred 
and thirty days the crews of the ships required no 
other vegetable food than this, and for nine weeks it 
was regularly served out with the salt beef and pork 
of the vessel, during which time there was no sickness 
on board. Kor was this the only service rendered by 
this maritime plant. The ducks of the island fed 
chiefly on the seeds, and these birds formed a delicious 
addition to the table of the mariners. 

Our cliff cabbage is not to be found on all our 
shores. On the sea-cliffs of Dover it is very abun- 
dant ; it is so also on many cliffs of Devonshire, Corn- 
wall, Yorkshire, and other counties ; and it is common 
on many parts of the shore of Wales, and on the rocks 
of the Erith of Eorth. In some seasons it is devoured 
into shreds, during summer, by the caterpillars ; for 
as the insectivorous birds delight in woods and gardens, 
and are singing their songs to the music of silver 
rivulets, and not to the loud roar of ocean, these 


26 


A BOOK BOB, THE SEA-SIDE. 


insects revel on, unpursued by the race which are 
elsewhere their destroyers. 

The sea-side cabbage grows all up the cliffs, even to 
the very summit; but when the sea kale ( Crarnbe 
maritima) grows on cliffs, as it sometimes does, it is 
generally lower down, and is more often seen on the 
sandy soils below, or among the beach stones, than on 
the cliff itself. JNo plant, however, is more beautiful 
there, — not from its white cross- shaped flowers, but 
from its wavy leaves, which vary from sea-green into 
all the shades of pinkish purple, down to a deep rich 
violet tint. So showy are these leaves, that the writer 
once passing some cliffs on which they were abundant, 
and going rapidly by in the train, at first thought that 
the foliage was a clump of bright flowers, till a better 
opportunity of viewing them showed the mistake. The 
blossoms have a strong scent of honey ; and the seed- 
vessels are pouches about the size of black currants. 
Country people at the west of England watch for the 
young shoots and leaf-stalks pushing up through the 
sand, when they cut them off underground, and boil 
them. It is often planted in gardens, sometimes for 
its beauty, sometimes that it may be blanched under 
sand or garden-pots for a culinary vegetable. It is, 
indeed, almost as general in our kitchen gardens as 
the asparagus, and, like it, may be easily forced ; but 
unlike that plant, it yields its produce the first spring 
after being raised from seed. Its flavour, when cooked, 
is like that of the cauliflower. 

On many a cliff, and under the hedges of lanes 
a little way from the sea, or scattered in clumps over 
the salt marshes, we find the alexander, (>S 'myrnium 
olusatrum ,) which pleases our eye by its bright foliage, 
and its thick cluster of small flowers of yellowish green. 
In the seventeenth century this plant was in common 
use for the same purposes for which we now employ 
the garden celery, and was boiled with other vegetables 
in soups. Long before that period it had been used as 
salad ; and our ancestors were well pleased with their 


PLANTS OP THE CLIPPS. 


27 


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

All up the cliff are 

“ Hill flowers running wild, 

In pink and purple chequers.” 

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


28 


A BOOK EOK THE SEA-SIDE. 


showy kind, the spreading spiked thrift, or sea 
lavender, ( Statiee limonium ,) that has flowers which 
in colour are much like the plant of our gardens, whence 
it takes its English name ; hut it is, after all, hut 

“ The sea-lavender, which lacks perfume.” 

It is, however, a great addition to the nosegay of wold 
flowers gathered in the sea-side walk ; and on summer 
evenings many a visitor from inland places may he 
seen wending his way homewards, with hunches of 
this and the yellow poppy, and other plants to which 
his eye is unaccustomed. 

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

There is a common species of the catchfly frequent 
by our sea-shores, both among rocks and also on the 
sand, called sea campion, {Silene maritima ,) but which 
neither by night nor day delights us with its fragrance. 


PLANTS OP THE CLIPPS. 


29 


Any one who knows the common bladder campion of 
our hedges, with its clusters of white blossoms, set on 
flower-cups inflated like bladders, and veined with a 
net- work, will at once recognise the sea-side species ; 
for, excepting that it is of humbler growth, it scarcely 
differs from it. There is a variety on the shores of 
Devonshire, which bears handsome double flowers. 

How dark and rich is the green tint of those leaves 
which, on their long stalks, lie about the root of the sea 
beet, {Beta maritima ,) and how well does the deep 
green hue contrast with the pale sea-green leaves of the 
perfoliate yellow wort, and of many other plants of the 
rock ! Pull up that strong root and taste it, and you 
will find it sweet as sugar itself, for, like all the beets, this 
possesses the saccharine principle in great abundance. 

The common beet ( Beta vulgaris) has been exten- 
sively planted in Prance and Belgium for making sugar. 
Our sea beet, if little fitted for this, may yet be esteemed 
a very useful plant, and it is often gathered and sold by 
the poor who live near the sea, to be boiled as spinach. 
It is quite as good as the cultivated spinach, and is a 
most plentiful vegetable, frequently growing all about 
the cliffs, and even on the sea-beach and salt marshes, 
in great masses ; many of the leaves in winter assuming 
a rich purple or crimson hue. The flower is but a tall 
spike of pale-green blooms, arrayed in little groups of 
two or three together up the stem, having a small leaf 
at the base of each. It appears in August. The leaves 
of another species of beet, called the cicla, ( Beta hor- 
tensis,) are among the most common cooked vegetables, 
used by labourers and small farmers for spinach, in 
Prance and Grermany ; while the Swiss have a variety 
which they call chard , the succulent leaves of which 
are used instead of greens, and the leaf stalk and 
middle vein are stripped and boiled as asparagus. It 
does not appear that the beet so commonly used as 
spinach on the continent is at all superior to that 
which grows on our cliffs, hanging out there some- 
times its long spikes of blossoms two or three feet 


30 


A. BOOK BOB THE SEA-SXDE. 


from the surface ; and Dr. Mackay says, “ that the 
sea beet is often cultivated on the coast of Cork, as 
well as in other places, as an edible vegetable.” 

Another plant, whose dark green foliage often com 
trasts beautifully with the surface of the rocky cliff, or 
the bank on which it grows, is the common fennel, 
(Fo&nicula vulgaris ;) and, from its size, it also makes a 
conspicuous figure on the marshes, or by the road-side, 
where some salt river is running onwards to the sea. It 
has a hollow stem, often three feet high, numerous leaves 
which are divided into soft hair-like segments, and its 
flowers, which appear in July and August, are large 
clusters of small yellow blossoms; its tender stalks 
were formerly much eaten as salad, and the plant had 
the old name of finckle. The leaves are still used to 
form a garnish for dishes, and, cut up and boiled in 
butter, are served up as a sauce for fish. They have a 
strong odour, and a sweet flavour. The blanched stalks 
of a dwarf variety, called finochio, are eaten with 
vinegar, oil, and pepper as a salad, and are also some- 
times boiled in soups. This variety is marked by a ten- 
dency in the stalks to swell to considerable thickness. 
The thickest part is then earthed up, and acquires a 
very pleasant flavour and a tender substance. It is a 
good deal cultivated in Italy. Our common fennel is a 
very elegant plant when the wind sways its light branches 
up and down, and carries afar their sweet scents. 

While recounting the plants of our sea rocks and 
banks which furnish food to the present generation, 
or which have been prized among the vegetables of 
olden days, we must not forget the broad-leaved pepper- 
wort, ( Lepidium latifolium ,) which sometimes grows on 
the maritime rocks of our shores, or in the salt marshes 
near them. “ When pepper was so dear,” says Beck- 
mann, “ that to promise a saint, yearly, a pound of it, 
was considered a liberal bequest ; economical house- 
wives seasoned their dishes with the leaves of pepper- 
wort, which on this account is called at present, in 
England, ‘ poor man’s pepper.’ ” Poor man’s pepper is 


PLANTS OP THE CLIPPS. 


31 


also tile name of another flower, the yarrow, which has 
the Latin name of Achillea , because Achilles is said 
to have discovered its healing virtues. This, though 
common enough on our cliffs, has no pretensions to be 
called a sea-side plant, as it grows everywhere ; though 
the annalist of the life of Henri de Larochej aquelin, 
who fell in La Vendee, mentions as a remarkable 
circumstance, that the flower of Achilles should have 
sprung up on the grave of the deceased warrior. There 
are few churchyards or other grassy spots in our land 
where it could not be found, so that they who wanted 
it for seasoning their dishes had not far to seek ; but it 
has less pungency than our pepperwort. The flowers 
of the latter plant appear in July; they are small, 
white, and numerous, and are crowded in leafy clusters. 

Then we have a sea radish, (JRaphanus maritimus ,) 
and though its roots are too tough to contribute to our 
salads, yet its white or straw-coloured flowers, veined 
with purple, are very pretty. The wild celery, ( Apium 
graveolens ,) too, is common on our shores, though not 
peculiar to them. Dr. Hooker, in his Flora Antarctica, 
mentions this and some other of our maritime plants, 
among those of Tierra del Fuego. “ It is always inte- 
resting,” says this writer, “ to meet with familiar objects 
when they are least expected, and to recognise in the pro- 
ductions of a strange land the same, or similar to those 
which we have seen elsewhere. Tierra del Fuego pos- 
sesses, in common with Britain, the sea pink, or 
thrift, a primrose so like our primula farinosa , that 
they are scarcely distinguishable ; and the wild celery, 
which, though a rank weed when it grows wild in 
England, is so mild and wholesome in Fuegia, probably 
from the absence of the sun’s direct rays, that it affords 
an excellent salad.” In our land, death has been caused 
by eating a quantity of this wild plant which grew on 
the banks of a salt-water river. The primrose to which 
Dr. Hooker refers, is the bird’s-eye primrose, a lovely 
lilac-purple flower of our mountains ; but there is a 
primrose often found blooming on the sandy sea- 


32 


A BOOK FOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


shores of the Orkney Isles, and which grows too on 
those of Sutherland, called the Scottish primrose, 
(. Primula Scotica ,) a deep bluish purple, so pretty 
that we lament that it cannot be found on the southern 
coast of our island. 

A curious plant called the red broom-rape (Orobanche 
rubra) belongs to the sea-side flowers, though it is by 
no means frequent on our English cliffs, abundant as it 
is on the basaltic rocks of the Hebrides. It grows, too, 
on the shores of Ireland, and on the magnesian rock 
of the Lizard Point, Cornwall. It is, like all the 
broom-rapes, truly parasitic, and this particular species 
seems to prefer the wild thyme, as the plant on whose 
roots it shall affix itself, though any one, to look at 
the stout plant which springs from the lowly flower, 
would hardly suspect that it was parasitic there. 

The broom-rapes are a singular tribe of plants, but 
all our native species have a general similarity to each 
other — they have stout succulent stems, usually of a 
reddish brown hue, with no leaves, but scales on the 
stem ; and this stem, at the base, swells into a knob, 
which is thickly covered with scales. The flowers are 
large and dull-looking, often so much so that one might 
take them for blossoms scorched into brownness by the 
summer sun; the plant altogether resembling, espe- 
cially when the flowers are hardly expanded, a head of 
asparagus. The blossoms are pale brown or yellowish 
lilac, and several of the species grow on cliffs, because 
there grow the flowers on which they are parasitic, 
such as the furze and bed-straw. But besides the red 
broom-rape there is another peculiar to the shores, 
called the blue broom-rape, ( Orobanche ccerulea) but 
this does not grow on the rocks, but on the grassy 
pastures near the sea. All the species are acrid, and 
so destructive to the plants to which they attach 
themselves, that their name, made of orobus , a vetch, 
and ancho , to strangle, is well merited. 

A graceful plant, which, when growing in any 
quantity, is swept up and down into undulating waves, 


PLANTS OP THE CLIFFS. 


83 


is the tamarisk, or sea cypress, ( Tamarix G-allica .) The 
latter English name it owes to 
the shape of its foliage, for it 
wears no funereal green, hut 
in summer and autumn is of 
rich verdant hue, and its rich 
red stems and branches add 
much to the beauty of the 
shrub. “ This elegant plant,” 
says Glerard Edwards Smith, 

“forms the ornament of Sand- 
gate, flourishing upon its 
sandy banks, and flowering 
there twice within the year. 

Planted inland, it has many 
times succeeded. The ele- 
gance of its beaded flower- 
buds, and light feathery blos- 
soms, accompanied by delicate 
foliage, commends this hardy 
tempter of the sea-breezes 
and spray to more general 
cultivation upon such spots.” tamarisk. 

Yes, there are lovely flowers all around our path- 
ways ; — 

“ And when the breeze was in the veil 
Of verdure on the Tamarisk, 

And seem’d for very sport to whisk 
The wilder’ d houghs, so lithe and frail, 



“ I thought how oft the gentle mind 
Is fretted sore with cross and care, 
And wearied with the restless air, 
And bent to snapping in the wind.” 


Not less beautiful, though very different in appear- 
ance, is the sea tree-mallow, ( Lavatera arboreal) which 
grows on maritime, always on insulated rocks, in the 
south and west of England, and rears its handsome 
shining mallow-like, purplish-pink flowers, on the coasts 
of Teignmouth, Plymouth, some parts of the Isle of 
Wight, the shores of Anglesey, and on various parts of 

D 


34 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


the Scottish islands and mainland. It is a great orna- 
ment to sea-side gardens, even in places where it is 
not found wild, and grows too in the inland shrubbery 
or flower-bed, where, if it is allowed to scatter its seeds, 
it will spring up for many successive years, and fre- 
quently attain a large size. Young plants will occa- 
sionally survive a winter or two, but when once it has 
blossomed it perishes. . 

This beautiful shrub grows on the island of Steep 
Holmes, in the Severn, a spot remarkable for being 
the only place of growth of our wild peony. 

But there are flowers on the cliff to which our space 
will not permit us even a notice, for they do not 
belong peculiarly to the sea-shore. 

“ Here and there the bed-straw yellow 
Carpets it with golden thread .’ ’ 

Here and there, too, 

“ Along this solitary ridge- 
Where smiles, hut rare, the blue campanula, 

Among the thistles and grey stones that peep 
Through the thin herbage— from the highest point 
Of elevation o’er the vale below.” 

Here we may find among ferns, which grow also in 
the quiet retreats far away from the sea, one which is 
peculiar to its shores. The sea spleenwort ( Asplenium 
marinum) has a very elegant spray, with which to 
deck their slope, and to hide the crevices which time 
has rent among the rocks ; while little dark brown 
cushions of the sea grimmia, ( Grimmia maritima ,) 
grow not only far above on the cliffs, but, fearless of the 
tide spray, gather too at its base. Succulent stems of 
the pretty yellow stonecrop, ( Sedum acre,) the golden 
chain, as country people call it, mingle in tufts with 
the species which is much more common on the sea- 
rock than on the barren inland soil. This is the 
English stonecrop, (Sedum Anglicum,) with its fleshy 
egg-shaped leaves, small, thick, and tinged with red, the 
beautiful clusters of star-like flowers, having white 
petals spotted with red and crowned with purple 


PLANTS OE THE CLIEES. 


35 


anthers. During June and July our rocky and sandy 
shores have few flowers more lovely and attractive than 
this stonecrop. 

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



CHAPTER III 

FISHES. 

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


FISHES. 


37 


scope, to the whale, which is twenty times larger than 
our largest terrestrial animal — that great leviathan, 
whom Job describes as making a path to shine after 
him, so that one would think the deep to he hoary, and 
declares to be a king above all the children of pride. 

As the air seems given especially to the birds, which 
are fitted to skim through it, and to find much of their 
food among its insect multitudes, so the waters are the 
domain of the fishes, to whom the smaller living crea- 
tures form food, while each in its turn feeds on some 
inferior tribe. Comparatively few have the opportunity 
of examining the tiniest creatures of the sea, creatures 
which teem in myriads in but a drop of that briny 
water ; but all can mark the fishes as they glide near 
the shore, or in the shallow pools among the rocks, 
gleaming with tints which may vie with those of the 
richest plumage of the bird, or with the gauzy gold or 
silver wing of the gayest insect. The brilliance of 
every metal, the splendour of every gem, the tints of 
the sky and the rainbow, are there reflected in stripes, 
and bands, and angles, and undulations. As the light 
falls on the surface, we see it, now purple, or green, or 
gold, or silver ; while some fishes are so brilliant in 
colour, that, like the rare band-fish, they deserve the 
name of flame and red riband, by which name the 
people of Nice call it, from its resemblance to those 
objects as it glides through the waters. Take but one 
of the scales and place it beneath a microscope, and you 
may dream that you are looking at a diamond ; while 
without the aid of the instrument you can see it 
rivalling the tints which are reflected by the pearl. 

“ Full many a gem of purest ray serene 
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear 

and the words of our poet might refer to the shells, 
or the pearls lying within them, to the fishes, or sea- 
jellies, or to the sea- weeds, or the coral structures of 
beautiful insects, or to those gems of the mine which 
lie entombed in the deep with the loved and the lost. 


38 


A BOOK FOE, THE SEA-SIDE. 


The fishes are eminently beautiful, not only in colour, 
hut in grace and symmetry, and are fitted by their 
structure for their dwellings and purpose in life ; while 
their scales form a coat of mail, so that the description 
of the patriarch is very appropriate to many : “ His 
scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close 
seal.” 

The form of fishes admits of great variety. The most 
frequent is that of a cylindrical body, pointed at each 
end, and compressed at the sides, as the mackerel. 
Some fish, however, are short and round; others 
elongated, like the eel, or remarkably compressed, as the 
dory ; and some, like the skates and flat-fishes, are quite 
flat. The fins, which are useful to them in gliding 
through the waters, serve also as characteristics of orders 
and families. Fish breathe chiefly by means of their 
gills, and are capable of receiving the influence of oxy- 
gen, not only from such portions of atmospheric air as 
are mixed with the water, hut from the atmosphere 
itself. They are the very opposite of birds, for as those 
joyous creatures were made for air they inhale a vast 
amount, and have their whole system full of it ; hut 
the consumption of the oxygen by the fishes is very 
small, and they have but a low degree of respiration. 
Such fishes as swim near the bottom of the sea are 
found to have this so low, that their temperature 
rarely exceeds by more than two or three degrees that 
of the water of the surface ; though those which swim 
nearer the top have a somewhat higher standard of 
respiration. We wonder not therefore that they are, 
in comparison with the joyous creatures of air, of a 
slow and dull nature. 

The gill-flap, which assists in covering the gills, is 
movable, like a fin, independently of the gill-lid. On 
raising this part we see beneath it the gills, of a 
beautiful red colour, composed of arches, varying in 
different species, and fringed with a series of fibrils, 
set like the plumelets composing the vane of a feather. 
When these are minutely examined, they appear 


EISHES. 


89 


covered with a velvet-like membrane, over which 
myriads of wonderfully minute blood-vessels are spread 
like a delicate net- work. There are commonly four 



head of the herring, a, the gill-lid; b, the gill-flap. 



HEAD OF THE HERRING, WITH THE GILL-COYER ENTIRELY REMOVED. 

a, the gill fringes, on the posterior margin of the arch ; 6, the anterior slender 
spines directed forwards ; c, position of the heart. 

of these fringed arches : they are movable, and allow 
the currents of water, driven down by the action of the 
mouth, to flow freely through them, so as to lave every 
fibril. The concave margin of each arch is always 
more or less studded with tooth-like projections ; and 
these in the herring, and some others, are lengthened 
into slender spines. Their use appears to be to pre- 
vent food taken into the mouth from being forced out 


40 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


through the gills with the streams of water sent 
through them. # 

Every part of the sea has its tribes of fishes ; and 
there are, besides, flying fish, which can sustain them- 
selves for a time in the air; while others, by the 
strength of the saw-like serrated bony ray on each 
pectoral fin, are enabled to transport themselves even 
over the land from one pool to another. Their eyes, 
which in different species vary somewhat as to situa- 
tion, are always so placed as to meet especially the 
conditions of the kind. They are most frequently 
placed on the flattened side of the head, but in some 
species are higher up. Their structure, adapted as it 
is to the dense medium which they inhabit, affords a 
good power of vision, at moderate distances, and when 
the breeze scarcely ruffles the waves, and the water is 
clear, the sight of fish is, as the angler well knows, very 
acute. Nor is that beautiful creature of the waves 
destitute of the sense of hearing ; and violently loud 
sounds, as the ringing of bells, or discharge of cannon, 
have been known so to terrify the shoals of salmon, 
when making their course to the river where they 
spend the summer, that they will all turn back and 
retreat to the sea which they were leaving. 

Those deep waters are almost a world of silence, 
save when the wind makes loud music among the 
billows. Eew of the living creatures have voices to 
tell even of their own emotions to their fellows ; yet 
there are fishes of our own shores which utter cries 
when the fisherman captures them, and some of the 
fishes of other seas give forth loud and continuous 
sounds. A large fish, called the drum, is described by 
Dr. Mitchell as making a dull hollow sound when 
taken out of the water. Various instances of sounds 
emitted by fishes are recorded by the editor of 
Cuvier’s “ Regne Animal.” Mr. White relates, in his 
voyages in the seas of China, that being at the mouth 
of the river Cambodia, his crew and himself were 
* Wonders of the Waters, p. 16. 


FISHES. 


41 


astonished at sounds heard around the bottom of their 
vessel which he describes as resembling a mingling 
of the bass of the organ, the ringing of bells, the 
guttural cries of a large frog, and the tones of a 
powerful harp. These voices, from a low murmur, 
gradually increased, and were heard all over the length 
of the vessel and the two sides. As the voyagers 
sailed onward the tones diminished, and were gradually 
lost in the distance. A man who was their interpreter 
said that these sounds were made by fishes, which he 
described. M. Humboldt heard similar sounds in the 
South Seas. On February 28, 1803, towards seven in 
the evening, “ the whole crew,” says this writer, “ were 
astonished by an extraordinary noise, which resembled 
that of drums beating in the air.” It was at first 
attributed to the breakers. Speedily it was heard in 
the vessel, and especially towards the poop. It then 
seemed like the noise of a boiling, the sound of the 
air which escapes from a fluid in the state of ebullition. 
The mariners began to fear then that there might be 
a leak in the vessel. It was heard unceasingly over 
every part of the ship, until about nine o’clock in the 
evening, when it ceased altogether.” 

Beautiful as fishes are, and useful as they are to man, 
yet they are not capable of exciting much individual 
attachment ; and were it not that we want them for 
food, they would mostly swim on to the end of their 
days free from molestation. We can tame the bird of 
the air and teach it to love us, sometimes even to 
imitate our language. Its instincts are usually affec- 
tionate, and its ways winning and lovable ; and the 
same may be said of many of the lower animals of the 
earth. But fishes are usually unimpressible creatures, 
and, save the cravings of a natural voracity, usually 
give small evidence of any feeling. But though fishes 
in general have little attachment, and no language by 
which to express it, yet instances are recorded both in 
ancient and modern times, in which they have exhi- 
bited affection towards their young, and have learned 


42 A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

to know and obey those who trained them. Pliny and 
Martial believed that they could not only be taught to 
recognise their master, but to come at his bidding 
when he uttered their names. The Chinese, who keep 
large numbers of gold fishes, call them by a whistle to 
receive their food. Sir Joseph Banks used to assemble 
his fish by ringing a bell ; and Carew, the historian of 
Cornwall, brought his grey mullets together by striking 
two sticks. 

Among other instances related by Mr. Yarrell, of 
the attachment of fishes to each other, he mentions 
that a person who had kept two small fishes in a glass 
vessel, gave one of them away : the other refused all 
food, and showed evident symptoms of unhappiness, 
till his companion was restored to him. 

The food of the greater number of fishes appears to 
be of an animal nature. They prowl the seas as the 
beast does the forests, devouring the creatures smaller 
than themselves, and apparently to a great extent 
feeding on each other indiscriminately, acting on the 
principle that might is right. The great Creator, when 
he filled that vast world of water so full, gave to his 
creatures there a very voracious appetite, that as 
numbers are increasing every moment, so too the 
means of lessening numbers should be in constant 
operation. A war of extermination is perpetually going 
on beneath those calm summer waters, or rolling 
billows; while an immense number of fishes are devoted 
to the food of man. So constant are the operations of 
these two means, that probably few fishes die a natural 
death. The inhabitants of our sea-coast towns consume 
many, and send many away inland to remote parts of 
the country. But there are, in other countries, tribes 
of men who live wholly on the produce of the waters. 
Many of our fishermen are engaged in procuring for us 
the ocean fish, for all are not in season at one period ; 
and therefore there is at all times of the year food and 
employment, arising from the prevalence of one species 
or another. The wanderer on our shores, as he sees 


PISHES. 


43 


their bronzed faces, is reminded, of the time when the 
Lord of all chose from among the fishermen of Galilee 
some who should live and die in his service. Peter, the 
warm-hearted apostle, and James and John, were taken, 
as our Lord said, that they should be fishers of men ; 
drawing them by cords of love to that Saviour who 
loved the humblest, the poorest, and the guiltiest with 
a love of compassion even unto death. On other shores, 
not only the net is plied, but the women and children 
go among the rocks to get the fish which hide in the 
pools ; and the ship sails its way among the waters of 
distant regions, bearing men who will attack and 
capture shoals of fish far out in the ocean. In all ages, 
fish have been a great source of food ; and so often are 
they mentioned in the Scriptures, that the very sight of 
a fishing-boat or net often serves to recal some incident 
of holy writ. The ancient Homans, in their latter 
days of luxury, expended immense sums of money on 
such fishes as their epicures deemed the most delicious ; 
digging ponds for preserves in which they might keep 
those of the sea or of the fresh waters. One of the 
fishes of our seas, the maigre, was in great request 
among epicures ; and as on account of its large size it 
was always sold in pieces, the fishermen of Home were 
in the habit of presenting the head, which was con- 
sidered the finest part, as a sort of tribute to their 
local magistrates, who acted for a time as the con- 
servators of the city. 

The knowledge of the habits of fish, as well as of 
other natural objects, was formerly very limited, and 
the ancients appear to have known about one hun- 
dred and fifty species, which composed nearly all the 
fish of the Mediterranean fit for eating. In the pre- 
sent day, there are above eight thousand living species 
of fish enumerated, while the fossil remains have 
been identified of upwards of one thousand and five 
hundred. Numerous tribes of this class of animated 
beings are found in the oldest fossiliferous strata, and 
the same type of organization, variously modified, has 


44 


A BOOK POE THE SEA-SIDE. 


continued through the whole series of subsequent 
deposits, up to the present time. Every geological 
formation has its groups of fishes ; and all the fossil 
fishes, anterior to the chalk, are of species no longer 
existing in our seas. 

Little can he known of the habits of these animals, 
compared with what we can learn of the inhabitants of 
earth or air. It is ascertained, however, that some are 
solitary ; some live more or less in companionship with 
numbers ; some remain nearly in one place ; others 
traverse the seas to great distances. Some species 
prefer pools or holes in the sand or mud, and many 
migrate periodically to far-distant seas or to rivers ; 
some tribes advancing at regular seasons from the 
polar and temperate latitudes towards the waters of the 
hotter regions, and some arriving from the equatorial 
seas to those of the temperate zones. We know not 
at what depth the ocean is inhabited by various tribes ; 
nor, indeed, is it yet ascertained at what depth life 
may exist at all. Reasoning from the analogy of 
animals similarly constituted, and which belong to our 
upper world, we infer that life under a continually 
increasing pressure must at a given point reach the 
limit where eternal darkness would reign, did not 
phosphorescent animals make that world luminous, and 
enable the fish to seize its prey or avoid the dangers of 
the rocks below. Hitherto philosophers have believed 
that in a lower depth no living creatures can exist, 
since no power of gravity would draw the animal 
matter downwards. The natural residence of fishes 
has been believed to be in all probability not far below 
one hundred fathoms from the surface. Ho nets, say 
the editors of the “ Regne Animal,” exceeding half 
that depth, are anywhere in use ; and the fish which 
are sometimes caught at fifty fathoms below the 
surface, are in general of species provided with eyes 
of such magnitude as to indicate the probability that 
their enlarged organs of sight are necessary in a 
medium so dense and remote from the light. 


FISHES. 


45 


However this may be as to the tribe of fish, the 
observations made by Captain Sir James Boss in the 
Antarctic Expedition prove that coral insects, shell- 
fish, and other marine animals, live in a depth far 
below that which has long been assigned as their 
utmost limit. Referring to the contents of the dredge 
which was put over in two hundred and seventy fathoms 
of water, and found to contain various things, this 
navigator says : — “ But the most remarkable circum- 
stance was drawing up from so great a depth beautiful 
specimens of living coral, which naturalists and geo- 
logists have hitherto concurred in believing unable to 
work beyond the pressure of a few fathoms below the 
surface. Corallines, sea mats, and a variety of marine 
invertebrate animals, also came up in the net, show- 
ing an abundance and great variety of animal life. 

In another part of the work, Captain Ross says : — 
“ Although, contrary to the general belief of naturalists, 
I have no doubt that, from however great a depth we 
may be able to bring up the mud and stones of the bed 
of ocean, we shall find them teeming with animal life, 
the extreme pressure of the greatest depth does not 
appear to affect these creatures. Hitherto we have not 
been able to determine beyond a thousand fathoms, but 
from that depth several shell-fish have been brought up 
with the mud.” Alluding to some marine invertebrate 
animals, he says that it will be difficult to get natu- 
ralists and philosophers to believe that these fragile 
creatures could possibly exist at the depth of nearly 
two thousand fathoms below the surface ; though he 
asks the question — As we know that they can bear the 
pressure of one thousand fathoms, why may they not 
bear that of two thousand ? 

A few only of those fishes which are most frequent 
on our shores, or are any way remarkable, can be men- 
tioned in this little book. One of them, the common 
mackerel, (Scomber scombrus ,) is among the most beau- 
tiful of fishes, and is so well known that we need not 
attempt to describe its silvery surface, or its fine green 


46 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


stripes, varied with rich blue colours. Next to the 
herring, it contributes most to the lucrative and valu- 
able fisheries of our seas. It appears to inhabit all the 
seas of Europe ; and, like many other fishes, it comes, 
when in full season and most fitted for food, into the 
shallower waters to deposit its spawn, guided there by 
the hand of Him who thus ordains that it shall be 
brought at the appointed time within reach of our 
fishermen. Swimming along near the coast in immense 
shoals, the mackerel becomes an easy prey ; and while 
millions are caught, there are yet left untold numbers, 
to furnish food for future seasons. 

There is not a month in the year in which, at some 
part or other of our coast, the mackerel may not be 
taken ; but the summer is the season when it is most 
abundant, appearing on some part of our shores in 
great numbers in March, but offering the “ great 
harvest” to the fishermen in April and May. It is 
a most voracious animal, and seems to live chiefly on 
the small fry of other fishes. 

Every one knows the flavour of the mackerel, and 
eaten, as it often is, with fennel or gooseberry sauce, 
it is an article of luxury, as well as a supply to the 
necessitous. So plentiful is the fish, that the poor of 
our fishing-towns have indeed reason to thank God 
for it. Mr. Yarrel mentions that in 1808 this fish 
abounded to such a degree on the shores of Dover, that 
sixty were sold for a shilling ; and that in the June of 
the same year, at Brighton, the shoal of mackerel was 
so great, that one of the boats had the meshes of her 
net so completely filled with them, that it was impos- 
sible to bring them in ; and the poor fishermen had to 
see their boat and its contents sink into the waves. 
The name of the mackerel is apparently derived from 
the Latin macularius , in allusion to its chequered 
appearance ; and it is known in most European coun- 
tries by names significant of this peculiarity. That com- 
mon fish on all our shores called the horse mackerel, is 
very inferior in flavour to this species. A grand resource 


FISHES. 


47 


for the sea birds in summer is the young fry of the 
mackerel, and we may watch them hovering in the 
waves, and pouncing with great skill upon them ; while 
the little fish, termed the mackerel midge, (. Motella 
glauco ,) is as much prized as the young fish of the 



MACKEREL MIDGE. 


former species. This is one of the smallest of fishes, 
(the engraving representing its natural size,) and on 
some shores is, during May, very abundant. It is 
about an inch and a quarter long, bluish green on the 
upper part of its body, and of silvery hue beneath. It 
is a beautiful little fish, and if we put our hand into 
the water to dash out a handful of these tiny creatures, 
they look like a shower of glittering silver as we 
scatter them in again. We must not, however, keep 
them long out of the sea, for unless they are returned 
the next minute they will die. So crowded are the 
waters near our shore, during May, with these little 
fish, that sometimes there seems scarcely room to put a 
thin piece 6f paper between them. The very surface is 
darkened by their numbers. They have no room here for 
the gambols in which they delight, but if we can see them 
further out at sea, or watch them in the rocky pool, or 
on the very crest of the wave, we shall see that even the 
dull fishes, as we think them, have their times and 
places for making merry, and that a bright eye too may 
be found in some of the race. When a sudden storm 


48 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


arises, and the surf is thrown by the wind into the 
boats, these little fishes are often brought with it, for they 
are so small and light, that they are the sport of the 
waves. They appear to live in deep water until the 
season for swarming to our shores arrives. The author 
has heard fishermen call the fish the mid, and smid. 
It does not seem to he used as food, probably on 
account of its small size ; yet a little fish, scarcely 
larger than this, and called at Naples the bloodless fish, 
is a very common article of diet there, numbers of them 
being fried together, and forming a mass when cooked. 

Not inferior to the mackerel in value is the herring, 
( Clupea harengus ;) for although it is not, like that 
fish, a delicacy for the rich, yet it furnishes by its 
numbers a most important article of food to the poor, 
and is valuable to them, not only in its fresh, but in 
its dried state. 

The herring fishery is the means of employment of 
many hardy men, men from whose ranks some of our 
best and bravest seamen are taken ; for the fisherman 
has learned from his very boyhood to brave the dangers 
of the sea, and to remember the places of rocks and 
shallows, and the direction of tides and currents. The 
herring is a beautiful silvery fish when fresh taken from 
the water, and as it is turned in different directions, 
shows the green and blue tints so prevalent among our 
fishes, reflecting, besides, other hues in a less degree. It 
inhabits the deep waters all round our island, coming 
in to the shores in shoals to deposit its spawn, and 
generally leaving them afterwards, although a few 
stray herrings may be fished up at any season. The 
wonderful accounts given by older writers of the 
regular migration of this fish in immense numbers from 
the northern seas, is no longer believed; and Mr. 
Yarrel says that the herring has never been seen, so 
far as he is aware, at all in the Arctic seas. It seems 
to be a very uncertain fish, being sometimes most 
abundant on various coasts, and differing both as to 
numbers and to its period of arrival. “ Ordinary philo- 


EISHES. 


49 


sophy,” says Dr. M’Culloch, “is never satisfied unless 
it can find a solution for everything ; and is satisfied, 
for this reason, with imaginary ones. Thus in Long 
Island, one of the Hebrides, it was asserted that the 
fish had been driven away by the manufacture of kelp ; 
some imaginary coincidence having been found between 
their disappearance and the establishment of that 
business. But the kelp fires did not drive them away 
from other shores, which they frequent and abandon 
indifferently, without regard to this work. It has been 
a still more favourite and popular fancy, that they were 
driven away by the firing of guns ; and hence this is 
not allowed during the fishing season. A gun has 
scarcely been fired in the western islands, or on the 
west coast, since the days of Cromwell ; yet they have 
changed their places many times in the interval. In 
a similar manner and with equal truth it was said that 
they had been driven from the Baltic by the battle of 
Copenhagen. It is amusing to see how old theories 
are revived. This is a very ancient Highland hypothesis, 
with the necessary modification. Before the days of 
guns and gunpowder, the Highlanders held that they 
quitted coasts where blood had been shed ; and thus 
ancient philosophy is renovated. Steamboats are now 
supposed to be the culprits, since a reason must be 
found. To prove their effect, Loch Dyne, visited by a 
steamboat daily, is now their favourite haunt, and they 
have deserted other lochs where steamboats have never 
yet smoked.” The herring is known to feed upon 
shrimps, small jelly fish, and the young, not only of 
other fish, but of its own species. It swarms among 
the Orkney and Shetland Isles all the summer long ; 
but on our shores the herrings are most plentiful by 
the end of August, and for a month or two later. 
They are beautifully phosphorescent. 

The herrings are an invaluable resource to the poor 
of the Scottish islands, nor are they the only fish on 
which the hardy inhabitants subsist. 

The coal-fish ( Merlangus carbonarius ) swarms op 
e 


50 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


the shores of the Orkneys, and forms the grand support 
during summer and autumn to the poor. Dr. Neill, 
during his tour of the islands of Orkney and Shetland, 
saw on almost every projecting rock an* old man, 
or one or two lads, holding in each hand a wand or 
fishing-rod, and catching the young coal-fish as fast as 
they could bait their hooks. It is better food when 
young than when full grown. They call it by several 
names, as sillock, piltock, cooth, and grey lord; and 
Mr. Yarrell says this fish has more provincial names 
than any other. It dwells in the seas more or less 
all round our shores. The ling, (Lota molva ,) though 
not so generally distributed, is scarcely less valuable 
in the western islands and the Orkneys than the 
coal-fish ; and, cut open, salted, and dried in the sun, 
forms an article of commerce, which was in former 
days more profitable than now. The air bladders, or, 
as they are commonly called, the sounds of this fish 
are also pickled, and form an article of food ; and the 
roes are salted and eaten. The oil taken from the 
liver has been found, like the cod liver oil, a useful 
medicine in cases of debility and emaciation ; and by 
the light of a lamp supplied with it, the Scottish 
islander sits by his fireside, mending his nets or read- 
ing his Bible. The fisheries of the ling occur early in 
the summer, and the prayer of the poor Shetlander, 
as he returns from them to his work in the harvest 
field, is, “ Grod open the mouth of the grey fish, (the 
sillocks,) and haud (hold) his hand about the corn,” 
that is, preserve the grain from tempests. 

Another important British fishery is that of the 
pilchard, or, as the Scotch call it, the gipsy herring, 
(Clujpea pilchardus ;) but the abundance of this fish 
is confined to different parts of the coast ; a few 
pilchards only rarely visiting any but the south- 
western shores of England. Cornwall is the most 
celebrated part of our country for the pilchard fisheries, 
and on some parts of the Irish coast the fishing stations 
are no less important. An immense number of these 


FISHES. 


51 


fish are sometimes taken ; an instance is recorded in 
which ten thousand hogsheads have been caught in 
one port on a single day: “thus,” says Mr. Yarrell, 
“providing the enormous multitude of twenty-five 
millions of living creatures, drawn at once from the 
ocean for human sustenance.” 

The voracity of the pilchard is very great. Mr. 
Couch says that he has found their stomachs crammed, 
each with thousands of a minute species of shrimp, 
not larger than a flea. The number of these minute 
creatures must be enormous, if, as Mr. Couch says, all 
the pilchards were as well fed as the one he examined ; 
for so numerous are the fishes themselves, that this 
valuable writer describes an assemblage of them, when 
near the coast, as assuming the arrangement of a 
mighty army, with its wings stretching parallel to the 
land. “There are,” he says, “three stations assumed 
by this great body, that have their separate influence 
on the success of the fishery. One is to the eastward 
of the Lizard, the most eastern extremity reaching to 
the Start Point in Devonshire, beyond which no fishery 
is carried on, except that rarely it extends to Dart- 
mouth ; a second station is included between the 
Lizard and Land’s End, and the third is on the north 
coast of the county. It is not an uncommon thing 
for one of these districts to be full of pilchards, while 
in the others none are to be seen. The length of this 
fish is nine or ten inches, and in form it somewhat 
resembles the herring. 

The pilchard fishery, though interesting to the 
Cornish men, and affording employment to a large 
number of people, is not very lucrative. Probably, 
in this respect, none are equal to those of the salmon 
in value ; but as this fish spends a great part of its 
life in rivers, and is little seen by visitors to the sea, 
we must not dwell upon it. That common little fish 
the sprat (Clujpea sprattus) is sure to be seen by those 
who are resident near our shores late in the autumn, 
or during winter. We have often thought, when seeing 


52 


A BOOK POE THE SEA-SIDE. 


a boat land with its cargo of sprats, tbat those who 
saw these fish only lying on the fishmonger’s stall had 
little idea of their beauty. Glittering in the net in 
many a pale and delicate tint, they look like a mass of 
silver on which the rainbow is faintly reflected. Cloudy 
weather is the time for the fishermen, and after a few 
days of this kind we find in our walks on the pier 
long rows of network, hung there to dry. Pine nets 
of several yards long are made by the fisherman in the 
winter’s evening, or by his wife or children, for the 
purpose of catching these fish. This is a very useful 
species to the poor of our sea-coast towns, nor is an 
occasional dish of sprats unwelcome to the rich ; while 
the fish pickled in brine is often sold in our inland 
cities, and is very good in flavour. Sprats, too, are 
laid on the fields for manure, and most persons who 
have spent some time near the sea, have seen them 
borne away in carts and waggons for this purpose, 
or perhaps had a country ramble spoiled by their 
odour on the land while they were in the process of 
decomposition. 

But as we watch the contents of the fishing-boats, 
we are often delighted by the beauty of some of the 
mullets contained in the trawling-net. The striped 
red mullet ( Mullus surmuletus) is abundant on our 
southern coasts, from Cornwall to Sussex, and is often 
brought up in the mackerel net. It is extremely 
beautiful, exhibiting every tint of orange, red, and 
yellow, in most vivid brilliancy ; though to see its hues 
in perfection, we should observe it during the summer, 
for though caught at all seasons it is not always equally 
bright. In some years it is much more plentiful on 
our shores than in others, for these fish change their 
places, and, swimming miles away from their old haunts, 
are sometimes long undiscovered by the fishermen. 
The mullets were much prized by the Romans, and 
their generic name is said to refer to the scarlet colour 
of the sandal or shoe worn by the Roman consuls, 
and afterwards by the emperors. They were also 


FISHES. 


53 


consecrated to Diana, the goddess of hunting ; because 
they were believed in those days to pursue and attack 
large and dangerous fish. The red mullet (. Mullus 
barbatus) is not only rare on our shores, but is also a 
much less abundant fish in all seas than the striped 
variety, and excels it not only in flavour, but in rich- 
ness of colour. It is connected with such records of 
cruelty and folly, that one blushes for human beings 
as we peruse the details ; and we are reminded how 
much the refinement of arts and of science can exist, 
while their cultivators have hearts as hard as those 
of the untaught savage. Poetry, and painting, and 
sculpture had shed their influence over the ancients ; 
but the mild light of revelation had not yet dawned 
upon them ; and thus their land, with all its advantages, 
was but as the dark places of the earth, which are full 
of the habitations of cruelty. The beautiful mullet 
was brought before the Poman to die ; and as the 
rich epicures sat around the table, their luxurious 
repast acquired a new zest as they looked on the fish, 
and saw its bright red colours gradually passing into 
various shades of purple, violet, bluish, and white ; 
till one convulsive throb of agony put an end to its 
pain. More cruel practices still were used towards 
these poor fish ; and the luxurious and wealthy Poman 
delighted in exhibiting his ponds or vivaria containing 
the mullets, which afforded undoubted evidence of the 
wealth of their owner, since, according to Martial, a 
fish of four pounds and a half cost a ruinous price ; and 
mullets of extreme size, one weighing six pounds, are 
recorded to have been purchased at a sum equal to 48 Z., 
while a still larger fish was paid for at the value of 64Z. 

The food of the mullet consists of the soft crustace- 
ous and molluscous animals, and cirrhi are arranged 
around the mouth of this, as of some other fish. Mr. 
Yarrel, who dissected them, remarks : “ They are, I 
have no doubt, delicate organs of touch, by which all 
the species provided with them are enabled to ascer- 
tain, to a certain extent, the qualities of the various 


54 


A BOOK EOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


substances with which they are brought in contact ; 
and are analogous in function to the beak, with its 
distribution of nerves, among certain swimming and 
wading birds which probe for food beyond their sight ; 
and may be considered another instance among the 
many beautiful provisions of nature, by which, in the 
case of fishes their light at great depths being 
deficient, compensation is made for consequent imper- 
fect vision. 

The grey mullet is a pretty little fish, with its rich 
blue tints ; and several species of gurnard are extremely 
beautiful, and are besides useful and delicate articles 
of food. October is their especial season, and to see 
them in full beauty, we should look at them when just 
taken from the water. The red gurnard ( Trigla 
cuculus) is the most frequent of the nine British 
species, and though chiefly found in deep water, yet it 
sometimes frequents the rocky pools, which we find at 
low tide full of beautiful and living creatures, and 
adorned with our loveliest sea plants. The red hue of 
the upper portion of the fish seems to mingle imper- 
ceptibly with the silver whiteness which distinguishes 
the lower portion, and which glitters in the sunshine. 
Like several of our fishes, it utters a sound when 
taken out of the sea ; and this is so similar to that 
of the bird of our summer woods, that the fish is 
familiarly named the cuckoo gurnard ; while the grey 
gurnard, ( Trigla gurnardus ,) a common fish, especially 
on the southern shores of England, and very abundant 
on the west of Scotland, is on the latter shore called 
crooner, because of the dull croak or croon which is 
its lament for its native sea. 

But without waiting till the fishing-boats have 
brought their stores for our inspection, we may wander 
away to the tide-pools, and find among the rocks, 
covered with their dark sprays of olive-green, or 
fringed with grass-green leaves and ribands, some of 
our common fishes. What a scene of life and ani- 
mation is here ! Here are crabs running along by 


PISHES. 


55 


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



THE FATHER LASHER. 

if we only touch it with a finger, it distends its gill 
covers, and setting out its numerous spines, as if, like 
the Scottish thistle, it would claim the motto, “ Nemo 
me imjpune lacessit ,” which, Baxter says, means in plain 
Scotch, “ Ye maunt meddle wi’ me.” This bold and 


56 


A BOOK BOB, THE SEA-SIDE. 


voracious fish has tints of a beautiful vivid red, green, 
and brown. It is not eaten in our country ; but in 
Greenland, where it is much larger, it is the chief food 
of many people, and the soup made of it is described 
by travellers as good in flavour. The Norwegians 
also extract oil from the liver of this fish. The Scotch 
call it the lucky proach. It is on our shores often 
termed toad-fish, and well named, for its large head 
would remind one of a toad. Its name of father lasher 
is probably given because, in its active darting progress, 
it strikes the water with its broad tail fin. Several of 
these fish may often be found hid beneath a bed of 
sea-weeds. 

Crantz, in his History of Greenland, says of it, 
“ Next to augmarsett, (capelin,) the Greenlanders eat 
most of the ulkes, what we call toad-fish, or in New- 
foundland, scolpings ; it lives all the year round in 
the little and large bays near the land, yet in deep 
water. It is caught, especially in winter, by poor 
women and children, with a line of whalebone or bird’s 
feathers, thirty or forty fathoms long. At the end, a 
blue longish stone is fastened, to sink it. Instead of a 
bait, they put on the hook a white bone, a glass bead, 
or a bit of red cloth. The fish is commonly a foot 
long, and full of bones. The skin is quite smooth, and 
spotted with yellow, green, red, and black spots, like a 
lizard. It has a very large thick round head, and a 
wide mouth, and its fins, especially on its back, are 
broad and prickly. Though this fish hath a very ugly 
look, yet its flesh and the soup that is .made of it taste 
extremely agreeable, and are very wholesome, and the 
sick may eat of them.” 

The short-spined cottus, or sea scorpion, ( Cottus 
scorpius ,) a fish about four or five inches long, often 
lurks among the sea- weeds, or swims into our harbours. 
Like the father lasher, it is so common all round our 
coasts, as that every haul of the dredge will bring up 
one or the other, though seldom both, for they do not 
frequent the same spots. The body of this fish is mottled 


FISHES. 


57 


with dark purple, brown, or reddish brown : the under 
part being white, and sometimes it is of bright scarlet. 

Some of these pools are at times half filled with 
little fishes left there by the tide. Several species of 
the wrasse glide about among the rocks, glittering in 
red, orange, and green; and here the gilt head or 
golden maid, ( Crenilobrus melons ,) sometimes finds its 
way into the crab creels, which the fisherman places 
there ; eating the shrimps and little crabs, so numerous 
among the sea-plants, and giving a decided preference 
to such rocks as are only reached at unusually high 
tides, and thus only moistened in general by the spray. 
And now as we look about among the waters and the 
rocks, a little lower down, we may chance to see the 
spotted gunnel, or butterfish, ( Murcenoides guttata ,) or 
the swordick, as it is often called from its sword-like 
shape. But the very sound of our footsteps, or the 
sight of our shadow, will send it to hide under the 
stones or weeds, and if with some difficulty we succeed 
in capturing it, it is no easy matter to hold it for a 
minute ; for the slimy substance upon it, from which 
it takes its name of butterfish, as well as its rapid 
movements, facilitate its escape. It is generally about 
five or six inches long. It is only used in our country 
for bait, but in Greenland it is dried and eaten. 

It is in these pools also that we shall find a little 
fish, well known to all who observe the living creatures 
either of sea or river, abounding as it does both in our 
salt and fresh waters. Many a time have we, by means 
of a gauze net tied to the end of a stick, caught the 
tiny stickleback or barnstickle, and kept it for a while 
in a vase of water. Most persons accustomed to our 
sea-side have seen the rough-tailed stickleback, ( Gaste - 
rosteus trachurus,') hiding among stones or weeds, or 
darting out and pursuing its prey, devouring it with 
voracity, and having nothing to fear, even from fishes 
much larger than itself, because it is so well defended 
by its spines. We can readily believe the assertion of 
Henry Backer, that the sticklebacks leap vertically 


58 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


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


FISHES. 


59 


less clearness and distinctness tlian when proud and 
happy.” These fish possess the faculty of building 
nests in which they deposit their spawn, guarding it 
until the fry are large enough to take care of them- 
selves. The male is generally the sentinel. 

Our stickleback is little used as food, but, about 
Dantzic, oil has been extracted from these fish ; and 
they were, in former days, caught by myriads in the 
river Cam, for the purposes of manure. They are 
included in the list of fishes of every country of Europe. 

Another little fish, which is very common on all 
parts of our coast, though not haunting our pools, is 
the freckled or spotted goby, ( Gobius minutus.) It is 
seldom more than three inches long, has a large head, 
and is of a pale yellowish white, freckled and barred 
with brown. It very often comes up with the crabs 
in the shrimping nets, for it lurks among the sands, 
sometimes completely hiding itself in them. Both 
this and some others of the goby tribe are said to 
deceive their prey by approaching them slowly, while 
their bodies are so covered with the sand and mud 
which adheres to their slimy surface, that they are not 
discovered to be enemies by the smaller marine animals 
on which they feed. They, in their turn, supply a consi- 
derable source of food to the larger fishes and sea birds. 

It is in the sandy bay that the less frequent fish, the 
gemmeous dragonet, or yellow skulpin, ( Callionymus 
lyra ,) is to be found. It has a singular appearance, 
being shaped like what one would fancy a dragon to 
be, and remarkable also for its colours, which glitter 
like rubies and emeralds and diamonds, the most con- 
spicuous tint being the yellow. It is, in the north, 
called gowdie, from gowd , gold. 

One of the most remarkably formed British fishes is 
not unfrequent on some coasts, though not universally 
distributed. This is the fishing frog, or angler, (Lo- 
phius piscatorius ,) which has many ill names among the 
fishermen that we would not repeat. It is generally 
about three feet long, and really resembles a frog in its 


60 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


tadpole condition. It well merits its name of angler, 
for it has long thread-like appendages attached to the 
head, which serve as its fishing lines. When lying in 
the mud or sand, it, by means of its fins, stirs up this 
so as to becloud the water, and while thus concealed, 
it raises its long filaments, and moves them about. The 
lesser fishes, probably mistaking them for small worms 



fitted for their food, advance towards it, and are entan- 
gled and captured. When in a net with other fishes, 
this voracious angler seems nothing daunted at its own 
danger ; but immediately swallows some of its com- 
panions in misfortune, which are afterwards taken alive 
from its stomach, so that though its own flesh is not 
eaten, it may furnish food to man by this means. 

Little intelligence as fishes in general possess, we find 
them endowed with instincts fitted to the requirements 
of their condition ; and when food cannot be provided 
easily, several, like the fishing frog, have recourse to 
artifices. Thus the lesser weever, sometimes called 
the otter pike, or sting-fish, ( Trachimus viper a,) Ye ry 
ingeniously provides its own meal. This fish, which is 
common on all the sandy shores of Scotland, and fre- 
quently caught by fishers and shrimpers, feeds on small 


FISHES. 


61 


crustaceans and insects, and in order to entrap them, it 
hides itself in loose sand at the base of the water, leaving 
only its head above, and here its open mouth serves as 
a trap, into which the unheeding animals may glide. 

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



THE WOLF-FISH. 


The wolf-fish ( Anarrhicas lupus) is another fish 
marked by a savage character, which may easily be 


62 


A BOOK EOB. THE SEA-SIDE. 


traced in its physiognomy. It is confined to the 
northern parts of our island, hut is not unfrequent 
there ; and though its flesh is well flavoured, its appear- 
ance is so unprepossessing, that few like to eat it. The 
people of the Orkney Isles call it swine-fish, hut its 
name of wolf is very suitable to its voracious and 
fierce habits ; while it possesses teeth so formidable 
that it can crush the hardest substance. It fights its 
enemy with desperate fury. The fisherman’s net stands 
no chance from its wild rage, and his hand receives a 
severe wound if extended near it, while it battles with 
the large fishes, and devours the smaller ones, making 
little account of a whole host of crabs and lobsters, 
which may be with it in the meshes. 

There is a singular looking fish called the gar-fish, or 
sea-pike, ( Belone vulgaris ,) common on the coasts of 
Cornwall, Kent, Sussex, and some other counties. It 
is very slender, and about twenty-four inches long, with 
very long mandibles, much like the beak of a bird. Its 
vivacity is so great that Mr. Couch says it will spring 
out of its element, or for a long time play around a 
floating straw, leaping over it again and again. As it 
is often taken in the mackerel season, our fishermen 
call it the mackerel guide : it has, besides, the familiar 
names of horn-fish, long-nose, and sea-needle ; and in 
Kent is well known by the name of gorebill. Its flesh 
is not very well flavoured, but its bones are of a most 
beautiful grass-green colour. 

The common sea-bream ( Pagellus centrodontus) is 
a well-known fish on our southern shores, and ladies 
living in our sea-coast towns make much use of its 
scales for fancy-work. Pearly white roses and other 
flowers arrayed on coloured velvet, and formed of these 
scales, are exceedingly ornamental, and well adapted for 
bags, fire-screens, and other purposes. The bream is 
a yellowish red fish, and it is the young of this species 
which are so well known as. chads, and which occur so 
frequently in our rocky pools. Neither this, nor the 
equally common black sea-bream, is much valued as food. 


FISHES, 


63 


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



THE JOHN DORY. 


well known, because many are brought to London from 
Plymouth and other parts of the Devonshire coast. It 
is remarkable for its high repute among epicures, and 
for the ridiculous legends which are attached to it. The 
large spot which is seen on each side of the fish, is 
absurdly supposed to have been originated by St. 
Christopher, who left the marks of his fingers on its 
body. Hence the Greeks call it St. Christopher’s fish. 
In Prance, however, it is known as poisson St. JPierre, 
and in that country the tradition relates that this dory 
was the fish taken up by the apostle Peter, with the 
money in its mouth for the payment of the tribute. It 
is also commonly known in Prance as th e forger on, or 
blacksmith, because of its somewhat smoky appearance ; 
but its traditionary names are very general; for the 
Italians call it il janitor e, or gatekeeper, in allusion to 


64 


A BOOK FOB, THE SEA-SIDE. 


the unscriptural notion of the keys which were supposed 
to be held by the apostle Peter. The flesh of the fish 
is excellent, and its name of John, though of uncertain 
origin, is said to have been given by Quin, who has 
the not very enviable repute of being one of the best 
judges in matters of eating and drinking which some 
centuries have produced. 

Many a man who is waiting for full employment in 
the fishing work, goes down and spends some hours in 
catching the fish with a line from some pier head or 
jutting rock. The atherine, or sand smelt, ( Atherino 
presbyter ,) is often taken thus, and is a delicate little 
fish of silvery hue, speckled with black. Sometimes 
the visitor at the sea-side, who is fond of angling, sits 
patiently on the rocks of our southern shores, dreaming 
away in the sunshine, while from time to time he takes 
from his hook this sand smelt, and is rewarded for his 
patience by carrying away a basket full of them. 

The grey mullet (Mugil capito ) may be seen near 
the margin of the shore, revelling in warm sunny 
weather, and getting into water so shallow that we 
can almost take it with the hand. Mr. Couch observes 
of this species : “ Carew, the Cornish historian, had a 
pond of salt water in which these fish were kept ; and 
he says that having been accustomed to feed them at 
a certain place every evening, they became so tame, 
that a noise like that of chopping wood could certainly 
cause them to assemble. The intelligence which this 
argues may be also inferred from the skill and vigilance 
which this fish displays in avoiding danger, more espe- 
cially in effecting its escape in circumstances of great 
peril. When enclosed within a ground-seine, or sweep- 
net, as soon as the danger is seen, and before the limits 
of its range are straitened, and when even the end 
of the net might be passed, it is its common habit to 
prefer the shorter course, and throw itself over the 
head-line, and so escape : and when one of the 
company passes, all immediately follow.” 

Several fishes, as the cod or keeling, the haddock, 


FISHES. 


65 


the whiting, and the sole, contribute very largely to 
the portion of food yielded by the waters. Those 
common and plentiful flat species, the plaice, ( Rlatessa 
vulgaris ,) the flounder, ( Rlatessa flesus ,) and the dab, 
(. Rlatessa limanda ,) are also deservedly valued for their 
abundance and good qualities as food. They cannot 
be called handsome fishes, but the flat form of these, 
and other species, admirably adapts them for inhabiting 
low places ; and as they are not furnished, like most 
of their race, with air bladders, with which to buoy 
themselves up, their destined place is near the ground. 
Here on the sandy or muddy shore, the plaice hides 
horizontally among the loose soil, with the head slightly 
elevated above it. The eyes being both on the upper 
surface, the fish has a wide range of view, in which to 
secure its prey. Mr. Yarrell notices one of those 
adaptations, so observable whenever we look into 
nature. Referring to the plaice, he says : “ Light, one 
great cause of colour, strikes on the upper surface 
only ; the under surface, like that of most other fishes, 
remains perfectly colourless. Having little or no 
means of defence, had their colour been placed above 
the lateral line of each side, in whatever position they 
moved, their piebald appearance would have rendered 
them conspicuous to all their enemies. 55 The flounder 
is sometimes called flook, or mayock fleuke ; while the 
Edinburgh fishermen call it the bull. 

The turbot {Rhombus maximus ) is common on the 
sand-banks, at the east of our island, and considerable 
numbers are taken at various parts of our coast. 
Though voracious it is somewhat dainty, and will not 
touch a bait that is not quite fresh, being best attracted 
by such little fish as the sea- scorpion and father 
lasher. The brill {Rhombus vulgaris) is often the 
companion of the turbot in sandy places, residing how- 
ever not in the deep waters only, but coming into more 
shallow parts. It is abundant on the sandy shores. 

There are several species called sucking-fishes, from 
their power of attaching themselves firmly to the 
F 


66 A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

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



HEAD OF THE SUCKER-FISH. 


subject of many wild fancies in other times. It has 
been found at Swansea, adhering to a cod, but is very 
rare on our shores. This little fish was once believed 
to have the power of stopping the sailing of the largest 
vessel, by fastening itself upon it. 

“ The sucking-fish beneath, with secret chains 
Clung to the keel, the swiftest ship detains ; 

Such sudden force the floating captive binds, 

Though beat by waves and urged by driving winds.” 

A small species of sucking-fish may often be found 
on the shores attached to the underside of stones 
lying in rock pools. Another, the lump sucker, 
( Cyclopterus lumpus ,) a most grotesque looking figure 
of a fish, is taken on various parts of our coasts, 
especially on the north of our island. It is often ex- 
hibited in the fishmongers’ shops in London, and is 
looked at with wonder, because of its singular and 
thick form, and the rich shades of blue, purple, and 


FISHES. 


67 


orange which appear on its surface. It seems to be 
common in the Orkneys, and is there called cock-paidle. 
Pennant says of this fish, that on placing one in a 
pail of water, it fixed itself so firmly to the bottom, 
that on taking it by the tail, the whole pail was lifted 
up by that means without removing the fish from its 
hold, though the pail contained some gallons. 

If we walk along the upper part of the beach where 
the waves have left long lines of the refuse of the 
deep, and where sea- weed, corallines, and shells engage 
our attention, we are almost sure to find those little 
things called fairy purses, or mermaids’ purses, lying 
in the heap. There are two kinds of these. The 
prettiest are of a pale horn colour, semi-transparent, 
having at their four corners a tendril not quite so thick 
as that on a grape-vine, but usually much larger, and 
with more numerous curls. These tendrils cling about 
pieces of wood or the stems of large sea- weeds, or creep 
over stones and hold fast to them. They are the egg 
cases of the small spotted dog-fish ( Scilliim canicula), 



EGGS OP DOG-FISH. 


a fish sometimes called on our coast the robin huss. 
It is a species of shark ; and though not having the 
strength of those formidable monsters of tropical seas, 


68 


A BOOK BOB, THE SEA-SIDE. 


yet it lias tlie true spirit of a sliark in its voracity and 
fierceness. The fisliermen dislike it exceedingly, and 
give to it many a familiar name expressive of their dis- 
gust ; for it not only devours large numbers of the smaller 
fishes, hut tears their nets by its determined fighting, 
often coming up in numbers only to be thrown away. 

As we might easily infer from the numbers of these 
purses lying on our shores, this robin huss is one of 
the most common fishes, and still more numerous are 
the egg cases deposited by the long-nosed skate, or 
ray, ( Baia mucronata .) During winter and spring we 
cannot take a walk by the shore without seeing them. 
They are oblong horny cases of a dark olive-green, and 
having at each corner a projecting piece which looks 
like a handle ; they resemble in form that very com- 
mon object a butcher’s tray. Sometimes they are 
inflated, either by being filled with air or sea-water, 
or by enclosing the young fish, but at others are empty 
and flattened. Ladies frequently cut this case into 
narrow strips, and putting them a while in warm water, 
use them as shields to the forefinger when at needle- 
work, and they answer the purpose very well, as they 
clasp tightly round the finger. Sometimes the lover 
of sea-weeds finds some very pretty ones attached to 
these purses, making a little silky fringe at both ends, 
and various beautiful little corallines cluster on and 
creep over them. When the young fish is matured, it 
glides through the opening at either end, and is at 
home in the world of waters. This long-nosed skate, 
like some other species of the genus, is a good fish for 
the table, and wdien taken by the hook shakes itself 
with so much violence that it needs care to secure it. 
All the skates are very voracious, and will eat great 
numbers of smaller fishes, crushing up the crabs and 
little shell-fish with great ease by means of their power- 
ful jaws. They are all flat, and have long tails. In 
the tropics they sometimes grow to an enormous size. 
Dr. Hamilton Smith has informed us that once when 
lying at anchor on the coast of one of the West India 


69 


EISHES. 

Islands he witnessed one pass by the ship, like a large 
cloud beneath the water, in pursuit of a man who was 
swimming to the shore, and when near lifted one of its 
broadsides or wings, and enclosed the man, who was 
never seen again. 

The thornback (Raid clavata) is another of these 
flat fishes, and as useful as it is frequent, affording 
when salted a good meal for sea-side people. It is a 
dangerous fish if carelessly handled, for, besides that it 
is covered on all the upper part of its body with small 
rough points, it has large tubercular spines distributed 
here and there among them. Often while examining 
the things on the sea-shore we find pieces of the skin 
of this common fish, the spines themselves having been 
tom away by the action of the waters, but the oval 
bony base from which they sprang left there still, and 
puzzling the sea- side visitor to tell what it can be. 



THE SUN-FISH. 


But the limits of our little work forbid us to linger 
longer over the fishes, or to describe some which, like 
the sun-fish, are so singular in form that few who have 


70 


A BOOK E OR THE SEA-SIDE. 


seen them would ever forget them. The foregoing 
strange looking creature, the sun-fish, though occurring 
but occasionally, “ may,” Mr. Yarrel says, “ be said to 
have been taken from John o’ G-roat’s to the Land’s 
End. It is almost circular in shape, and when 
observed in our seas, seems either dead or asleep, 
floating along sideways, and of so insensible and dull 
a nature that it does not even attempt to escape, but 
lets the sailor take it in his hand into the boat. They 
are extremely phosphorescent, and appear on a calm 
night like large moons in the water.” 

Isaac Walton quotes an “ingenious Spaniard,” who 
says, “that rivers, and the inhabitants of the watery 
element, were made for wise men to contemplate, and 
fools to pass by without consideration.” Assuredly the 
waters which wash our island might serve as food for 
thought, did we even confine our meditations to the 
largest of their inhabitants. “ These,” said the psalm- 
ist, “ these all wait upon thee ; that thou mayest give 
them their meat in due. season.” When the great 
Creator commanded into being “ every living creature 
that moveth, which the waters brought forth, after 
their kind,” he was mercifully providing stores of 
food, which we around this island are constantly 
enjoying, and by means of which a large number of 
our community subsist. Nor should we forget that 
from those hardy men who are now casting out the 
net or line, have sprung some of our most able pilots, 
some of our bravest seamen, and that even in our own 
days many of those who go out to succour the ship- 
wrecked, braving the storm at the peril of their own 
lives, and with little prospect of reward, are men 
whose early days were spent on the shores, among its 
rocks and shallows, its waters and their inhabitants. 





CHAPTEE XV. 

THE BEACH — ITS STONES, ELOWERS, MOLLUSCOUS 
ANIMALS, AND SHELLS. 

There is good exercise in walking, for those who are 
strong enough to traverse a few miles of beach. Such 
a walk may he tiring, but it has great charms to those 
who love to hear all the variety of melody which 
nature offers to the listening ear. Now the wave 
dashes with force on the mass of stones, drawing up as 
it retreats large numbers of them, but to scatter them 
again with a music all its own : now it ripples more 
softly among the pebbles, so gently that we can close 
our eyes and dream that we are lying by the borders 
of some pebbly rill, till the loud scream of the seagull 
above us, so unlike the sweet songs of the minstrel of 


72 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


the meadow or wood, recalls us to the remembrance 
that the ocean is rolling there. 

Countless numbers of pebbles, long since rounded 
by the action of the water, constitute the shingly mar- 
gin on which we are treading. We pick up one or 
another, fancying, while wetted by the waves, that it is 
a piece of jasper, or agate, or some other treasure, but 
see, as it dries, that it is nothing uncommon. Dr. 
Mantell has told us that those green false emeralds 
and aquamarines which are sought with such eagerness 
by visitors on the Brighton and other coasts, are 
nothing but water-worn fragments of common green 
glass bottles ; and that the moss-agates, jaspers, and 
other stones sold by the lapidaries and jewellers of the 
Isle of Wight and of Brighton are, in fact, of Scotch or 
Grerman origin. 

But though the wanderer on our shores may never 
find one gem of worth sufficient to encircle with gold 
for an ornament, he may find at every step some 
wonderful stone, with a history well worth his atten- 
tion. Those pebbles, rounded now by the long action 
of the waters into shingle, are on many beaches mostly 
flints. They were originally moulded in the chalk, and, 
like that chalk, contain the remains of marine animals 
embedded among them. They are not, however, like 
the chalk itself, entirely composed of an aggregate of 
fossil bodies. This pebble, hard as it is now, must 
have been at one time soft and fluid, for on the surface 
we may often trace the markings of various marine 
objects, as a sponge, or the spine of a sea-egg ; and on 
breaking it, the scales of fishes, fragments of coral, 
perhaps a sea anemone or tiny shell, are perceptible. 
These little objects are the centres around which the 
flinty material gradually accumulated, while it was in 
a fluid condition in water. In this state it was preci- 
pitated into the chalk before the latter was consolidated, 
these marine objects all the while forming nuclei, 
around which the siliceous earth hardened. A great 
proportion of the pebble, therefore, consisting of the 


THE BEACH. 


73 


siliceous earth, is composed of the fossil skeletons of 
animalcules, 44 so minute,” says Dr. Mantell, 44 as to 
elude our unassisted vision, but which the magic 
power of the microscope reveals, preserved like flies 
in amber, in all their original sharpness of outline and 
delicacy of structure.” 

It is evident that it was in a deep sea that many of 
those pebbles had their origin, or they would not have 
enclosed species now unknown, but well ascertained to 
have lived in such a sea only. It was then that they 
became embedded and hardened in the chalk, till the 
chalk bed of ocean was upheaved by volcanic agencies, 
and thus the line of sea cliffs was raised above the 
waters ; then came further elevations of land, bringing 
up the fragments gradually worn away from the chalk, 
and the sea beach was raised to the place which it now 
occupies, several feet above the level of the sea. 
Mingled with the pebbles lie pieces of limestone, or 
cement-stone, or iron pyrites ; while traces of human 
art and industry, brought there by the tide, show that 
our sea washes a shore inhabited by civilized and 
intelligent man. 

That sea-side poppy, ( Claucium luteum ,) or horned 
poppy, as we sometimes call it, because of the long seed 
vessels, which, being often a foot in length, may be 
seen afar off, like a horn, is a great and frequent orna- 
ment to the beach. Every rough wind flutters its 
golden petals, but they will not fall for the wind, but 
will wait till their time of withering comes. This 
flower is as large as the poppy of the corn-field, and 
as shining in its gold as is that flower in its scarlet. 
A large mass of leaves, of most beautiful sea-green 
tint, grow around the root, the upper ones clasping 
the stem, and the lower leaves having so many 
prickles on them, that when young, or when glittering 
with dew, they seem as if silver were sprinkled there. 
All the winter they may be seen on the beach, washed 
by the surf which is scattered from the wave, or which, 
if* the wind sets in on the shore, covers them over 


74 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


with little heaps of froth, till the next gust blows it 
onward again. This yellow poppy grows too on the 
base of the cliff, or on the sand below the beach. It 
is an acrid plant, and its root, which is of the colour 
of the carrot, is so much so, that if the juice is tasted, 
it long leaves an unpleasant and burning sensation on 



YELLOW-HORNED POPPY. 

the tongue. Its name refers to its sea-green or glaucous 
tint, but, like many a flower whose beauty had been 
marked by the ancients, the old fables of the Greek 
mythology derived it from a fisherman, who jumped 
into the sea and became a god ; a tale of little worth, 
save to remind us of the advantages which we derive, 
who have received no cunningly devised fables, but 
have the word of truth in our hearts and homes. 

“ And wandering still beside the wave, 

And culling flowers and fancies wild, 

I saw the horned poppy gild 
The heights with blossoms rich and brave : 


THE BEACH. 


75 


“ I saw its pods, like scimetars, 

So fiercely battling ’gainst the breeze 
That bloweth freshly o’er the seas, 

And wafteth songs of mariners.” 

Some very pretty trefoils flourish exceedingly well 
on our sea-beaches, and tufts of sea-side plantain 
{JPlantago maritima ) help to hind the stones together ; 
and many a clump of the buckshorn plantain (3?lantago 
coronopus) is there, though we shall not go out, as the 
housewives of old did, to gather it for salads. Starry 
sea-side camomile, (Anthemis maritimus ,) with its 
cream-coloured rays surrounding a yellow centre, gives 
its strong scent to the wind, and, but for its odour, 
might, by one who was not a botanist, be confounded 
with the sea-side feverfew, ( PyretJirum maritimum :) 
this plant exactly resembles the mayweed of our corn- 
fields, and grows all about the cliffs and shingle. 
Yetches are there, too, with their tangling stems, and 
in some places that pretty and graceful plant, the sea- 
pea, ( LatJiyrus pisiformis ,) creeps about the pebbly 
beach. It is common on those of the counties of Lin- 
colnshire and Suffolk ; and it grows in abundance near 
Walmer Castle, in Kent, making the spot quite beau- 
tiful in the month of July, with its handsome but 
scentless flowers. 

But we must wander over these sea-beaches, fearless 
of wetting our feet at their margin, if we would see 
some of the wonders which the sea is throwing up. 
We are no believers in the statement so often made by 
people on the coast, that salt water cannot cause cold. 
We know it to be a popular fallacy ; but with a good 
amount of exercise, and by changing the shoes pre- 
viously to sitting, we believe we may venture on some 
dangers which we could not brave amid the less in- 
vigorating air of an inland region. Taking for our 
present consideration one tribe of the inhabitants of 
the waters, the mollusks and their shells, we have a 
large field for observation and inquiry. A mollusk 


76 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


may be described as a soft-bodied animal, with no 
legs, no jointed members of any kind. These animals 
either crawl or swim by means of extended portions of 
their skins, which are rarely so enlarged as to deserve 
the name of fins. They are sometimes covered with 
shells, either composed of one piece or valve, or of two 
or more valves ; but some mollusks, like our garden 
slug, have no covering ; and some, like the ascidians, 
which we are about to mention, have only a thick 
leathery mantle or tunic. 

The greater number of marine mollusks live on sea- 
shores, on rocks, on sand, in eddies, or the mouths of 
rivers, and are hence called littoral species ; but there 
are many kinds which live at great depths, and are 
only thrown on the shore by storms. They feed on 
animal or vegetable substances, in all conditions, 
living or dead ; but the several families confine them- 
selves either to one or the other kind of food. Those 
which feed on living animals of the larger kind, pierce 
holes in the shells of other mollusca and feed on the 
animals within. To enable them to perform this act 
they are furnished with a long probosci-formed organ 
armed with a peculiar dental apparatus, planned in the 
form of a riband on which teeth are placed in rows. 
Others, chiefly bivalves, subsist most probably on 
microscopic objects suspended in the fluid, since they 
can produce in the water an almost circular movement, 
by means of which these small creatures are hurried, 
as in a whirlpool, within the reach of the mollusk. 

The ascidians are shell-less mollusca, some of which 
are simple, and others compound. Some of the former 
animals are very common among our rocks and weeds 
on the shore, adhering at low tide to the under surfaces 
of rough stones, and hanging like “ bunches of semi- 
transparent fruit” to the sea- weeds, clinging with a 
tenacity which renders it impossible to shake them off. 
So common are they, that the dredge is rarely brought 
up from any sea-bed, without containing some of 
them. They are irregularly shaped bodies, fixed at 


THE BEACH. 


77 


one side to the rock, weed, or shell, while the other 
end is free. Two or more openings are visible, and 
most persons who, while wandering on the shore, have 
picked np one of these animals, have been saluted with 
a shower of water, which the ascidian ejects with great 
force from these apertures on the slightest pressure. 
They have not, usually, any beauty of form — grace 
and symmetry are not their attributes ; but the colours 
of some species are exquisitely beautiful. Their 
leathery tunic is sometimes crowded with small stones, 
or pretty little shells, which completely burrow into 
the substance of some of them. Often long graceful 
stems of horn-coloured corallines hang like waving 
boughs abont them, or some tuft of sea-weed is like a 
silky cushion on their surface. 

That inactive apathetic mass, showing no signs of 
life, save when it sends up a jet of water into our 
faces from a distance of two, or even three feet — that 
apparently lifeless lump, is a creature well fitted by 
its organization for its part in life. Its organs of 
circulation, respiration, etc., are beautifully arranged, 
and it is of great value as food to fishes and other 
marine animals, while some of the ascidians furnish 
food for the human species. Late observations have 
proved that some of these, as well as some other 
living creatures of the deep, enjoyed, in earlier stages 
of life, a greater degree of freedom and activity. The 
ascidian, while yet in a tadpole state, is able to swim 
through the waters by means of a rapidly vibrating 
tail. At a further stage of its existence, however, the 
tail disappears, the animal affixes itself to the stone or 
sea-weed, the part which appeared to be the head 
sends forth roots, the orifices become visible, and 
finally the strange tough gelatinous mass seems to 
have lost the will and power of motion, and to be 
dependent for its very existence on the tangle to which 
it hangs. 

Several of the species, like that common pale-green 
or yellow kind, the intestinal ascidia (Ascidia intes- 


78 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


tinalis ,) lie about our shore after a storm, or abound 
among tbe rocks. One species ( Molgula oculata ) is 
described by Professor Porbes as having a space in the 
midst of its incrusted tunic, of a bluish or purple tint 
mottled with orange, with similarly coloured orifices, 
which look like little dark eyes within a spectacle- 

formed frame. This 
was found adhering 
to a scallop-shell. 
Another kind resem- 
bles at first a little 
ball of sand on a 
sea-weed, and when 
we rub away the 
sand we find that 
this was merely a 
crust to an object 
resembling a small 
globe of ice. Some 
are of greyish white, 
or ashy red, or brown- 
ish colour ; some of 
deep crimson, or 
brighter scarlet; an- 
other is tawny co- 
loured, speckled with 
regular dashes of 
purple. One species 
taken on an oyster 
the ascidia. by Mr. Alder, is de- 

scribed as very like a raspberry, while a very common 
species on the sea-weeds, at most parts of our coast, 
(< Cynthia rustical) is white and smooth. Ascidians 
coloured like the china rose of our gardens, or of 
bright orange and the palest straw-colour, sometimes 
scarlet within, lie unheeded among our sea- weeds, and 
are often so covered with sand that we never see their 
colours, while their internal structure is known only 
to the anatomist. The most common size of these 



THE BEACH. 79 

animals is about an inch, or an inch and a half, but 
many are three inches long. 

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


80 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


structures and arrangements, beautiful as wise. Indeed, 
few bodies among tbe lower forms of life exbibit 
sucb exquisite and kaleidoscopic figures as those 
which are displayed in the combination of the com- 
pound ascidians. 

Several kinds of botryllus are very common on our 
weeds, and our engraving will serve to give a general 
idea of their structure , — a being the natural size, and 



BOTRYLLUS. 

I a single group magnified. These compound asci- 
dians, however, vary much in appearance ; one is 
described as similar to a number of heads of madre- 
pore; others are little orange- coloured masses, fixed 
by a stalk to the rock. One, which is very common 
on all our coasts, ( Leptoclinum maculosum ,) is a thin 
hard leathery crust, surrounding the root of the 
olive-coloured tangle, and is variegated with white 
and blue. Our common serrated fucus, a sea-weed 
hereafter to be described, has often in abundance a 
whitish yellow species investing it. Some of them, as 
the species called the sea fig, (Aplidium ficus ,) have a 
most disagreeable odour. Some kinds of ascidians are 
linked together in chains. 

Perhaps while lingering about among jetties, piers, 
and other wood- work, the reader may have seen many 
of the piles which are at times under water, pierced into 
numerous holes, which undermine and destroy the 
structure. The larger of these perforations is effected 
by a long worm-like mollusk, called the teredo, of 


THE BEACH. 


81 


which we have several British species ; but the smaller 
and by far the more common and important are the 
work of one or two kinds of small Crustacea, among 
which is the Limnoria terebrans , and which is, if pos- 
sible, more destructive to wood than the teredo, as it 
is capable of working both in salt and brackish water. 




TEREDO NAVALIS. 


Its perforations are so extensive that the wood attacked 
by it is often supposed to be rotten, which is not the 
case. This pest is found in all our coast harbours. 
It has nearly destroyed the piers of the bridge across 
the Dart, between Teignmouth and Shaldon ; and at 
Plymouth Dockyard the building steps were so injured 
as to require the wood to be replaced by granite.* 

Immense mischief is done by these borers, under- 
mining as they often do important works, which a few 
years since had cost much labour and money. They 
also pierce holes in ships, unfitting them for service, 
and sometimes causing them to sink beneath the over- 
whelming billows ; while they even make holes in the 
roots and stems of submerged living trees, which grow 
on the sea-shore of some of the hotter regions of the 
earth. 

Mr. Thompson mentions that a piece of pine wood, 
nine inches in diameter, after having been for five years 
and a half used as a pile, was so reduced by the 

* See a paper by Dr. E. Moore, in Charlesworth’s Magazine of 
Natural History, voi. ii. p. 206, “ On the occurrence of Teredo navalis , 
and Limnoria terebrans , in Plymouth Harbour.” 

O 


82 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


perforations of the teredines, as not to contain more 
than an inch of solid timber in any part; while at 
several places it was completely bored through. This 
pole was placed fifteen feet below high-water mark, 
and was only left uncovered during low water at 
spring tides. Often before some sea pier or break- 
water is finished, the piles are so worm-eaten that 
repairs are required for the first portion of the work. 
The very existence of Holland was once endangered 
by the ravages made by these, so called, shipworms in 
the embankments that industry has judiciously em- 
ployed for the protection of that country, when all at 
once they left the spot, without any reason having 
appeared for their doing so. Creosote and various 
kinds of varnish have been employed to arrest their 
ravages, but nothing seems more effectual than placing 
in the wood a number of iron-headed nails, which 
rusting in consequence of the moisture, seem to be 
unpalatable or injurious to the teredines, and this 
drives them away from the spot. But these shipworms 
have their uses too. Every one living near the sea 
knows how often large pieces of wood float in the 
waters, sometimes the remains of shipwrecks, some- 
times washed in from the trees on the shore, which 
winds and storms have brought low. Some of these 
piles, borne from climes where vegetation is luxuriant, 
would hinder the ship in its way over the waters, and 
cause danger to the mariner, did not the shipworms 
break them into small fragments and scatter them, 
leaving the smaller pieces for firewood to the fisherman 
and other sailor. Many, perhaps, as well as the poet, 
have watched the blue flames which hovered about the 
salt drift wood — 

“ And as their splendour flash’d and fail’d, 

Have thought of wrecks upon the main ; 

Of ships dismasted that were hail’d, 

And sent no answer back again 

and while winds were blowing without, have lifted up 
an anxious and prayerful thought that He who holdeth 


THE BEACH. 


83 


the water in the hollow of his hand would protect the 
sailor. 

The common ship worm ( Teredo navalis) has a long 
tube, generally white and firm as thin porcelain, but 
sometimes little more than a film ; at times it is alto- 
gether absent. The head is enclosed in a sharp and 
hard two-valved shell, and this is the instrument which, 
guided by powerful muscles, is employed in its work. 
Not only naturalists, but political writers, have occu- 
pied themselves in tracing the history of this mollusk. 
Sellius, a native of Dantzic, wrote a book of three 
hundred and sixty pages, in which he cited nearly two 
hundred authors, and quotes lines of Ovid alluding to 
it. Messrs. Torbes and Hanley give an imitation of 
the classic lines, adding, that they were singularly 
applicable to the history of Sellius himself. 

“ For as the ship by hidden ship worm spoil’ d ; 

Or as the rock by briny wavelet mined ; 

Or as the rusted sword by rust is soil’d ; 

Or book unused the tiny moths unbind ; 

So gnaw’d and nibbled, without hope of rest, 

By cares unceasing, is my tortured breast.” 

But the different species of teredo are not the only 
miners, for we have about our shores and lying there 
before our eyes, every day, numbers of little excavators, 
not only in wood, but in stone. We have also several 
species of pholas ; but the one which is most common, 
and is to be seen on all our rocky shores, is the prickly 
stone-piercer, or stone pidduck, ( Pholas dactylus ,) the 
dail commun of the Trench. The shells of these piercers 
are all white, more or less thin and delicate, and con- 
sist of two long valves, of an oval form, which are open 
at one end. Several small and curious valves are 
placed near the hinge, and just inside each of the large 
valves is a little piece shaped like a spoon. The out- 
side of the valves is marked with ridges of prickles. 

We cannot observe without wonder the caves made 
by these little creatures in wood, chalk, limestone, or 
other hard substances ; some species of pholas preferring 


84 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


one and some another; but all selecting this dark 
hiding-place. JMot that this shell-fish is quite a hermit. 
Apparently, it likes the companionship of its kind, for 
the holes often open into one another, like little gal- 
leries, unlike the cavities made by the teredo, which 
are quite separated, though sometimes by a partition 
no thicker than a film. Socks of chalk, or red sand- 
stone, or lias, perforated all over by the common 
species, often stand up from the water, at low tide, 



PHOLAS DACTYLUS. 

and shells then may be seen sometimes five or six 
inches in length, and one inch and a half broad. The 
common species ( [PJiolas dactylus) lives in all the seas 
of Europe, and in Erance is in great request as food, 
though with us it is only used for bait. Boys may 
often be seen searching for these animals for this 
purpose. All the species might be eaten, and one 
large West Indian kind is commonly sold in the 
markets of Havannah. 

The mode by which the pholades make these cavities 
has never been satisfactorily explained ; but it seems 
probable that they act with the notched edge of the 
shell as with a saw, as they have been observed to 
exhibit a rotatory motion while boring. The animal, 


THE BEACH. 


85 


too, lias, like many of the inhabitants of the sea, small 
cilia, (so called because resembling an eyelash,) and 
these are used for creating currents in the water 
around them, which may aid in clearing away the 
already loosened particles. Some writers think that 
they are aided by a solvent ; but as Messrs. Forbes and 
Hanley can find no secretion of this kind, they re- 
mark, that if the mollusk is assisted by any chemical 
action, it must be by the carbonic acid gas set free 
during the process of respiration. It is remarkable 
that one of our common snails (Helix nemorosa) has 
been known to bore similar cavities in masses of car- 
boniferous limestone. Some other species of marine 
shell-fish also make the rocks look like honeycomb by 
their labours. Such is the gastrochsena ; but it is 
less frequent than the pholas ; and such also is the 
saxicava, some species of which, as the rough saxicava, 
(Saxicava rugosa ,) are abundant on most parts of the 
coast. The shells of these species are evidently not 
adapted for rasping, and both these animals and the 
land snails are thought to effect their purpose by 
dissolving the rock.* 

The stone-piercers are remarkably phosphorescent, 
especially when fresh, though some remains of the 


* The way in which this is earned out is explained as follows by 
Mr. Spence Bate in a paper read before the British Association in 
1849. He says, u that the solvent should be looked for in the element 
in which the animals exist, and not in the resources of the animal 
itself. He presumed that it would be found in the presence of the 
free carbonic acid held in solution by sea water; the economy of the 
boring animals being simple and uniform throughout creation, the 
solvent only being directed by them according to their habits, through 
the process of respiration and the ciliary currents. 

“ With regard to the Pholas tribe, he presumed that they pene- 
trated soft clays through a modification of the same power ; that is, 
in all the stone borers, as saxicava, etc., the calcareous rock is dissolved 
by the carbonic acid in the currents induced by the animal ; but in 
that of the borers into clay, the weaving power is the mechanical 
action of those currents, which are greatly increased by the muscular 
power of the animal ; the carbonic acid still taking up any calcareous 
matter which may be present, as in the case where they are found to 
bore in soft triassic sandstone.” 


86 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


luminous property are exhibited even when dried, and 
it may be revived by the application of water. A 
solution of sea water always increases its power, while 
brandy immediately extinguishes the light. This is 
also slightly decreased by sal ammoniac, and entirely 
destroyed by acid. The luminous water becomes more 
vivid when poured upon fresh calcined gypsum, rock 
crystal, or sugar. Milk may be rendered phospho- 
rescent by the pholas; but if mixed with sulphuric 
acid, it loses its light, acquiring it anew if oil of tartar 
be applied. Coloured substances are differently and 
actively affected by it. Thus, white appears to receive 
and emit the greatest quantity, while yellow and green 
do so in a less degree ; red emits a very faint light, 
and violet still less. One single pholas will render 
seven ounces of milk so beautifully luminous, that all 
around is clearly to be seen by its light. If the milk 
is excluded from the air, the light disappears, reviving 
again on exposure to the atmosphere ; and in the ex- 
hausted receiver of an air-pump the animal loses its 
light altogether. The rocks have their cavities made 
by mollusks, and their surface, on the other hand, is 
often roughened by the adherence of other tribes. 
Sometimes one of these well-pierced rocks has almost 
every unbroken portion crowded with barnacles, animals 
belonging to the tribe of crustaceans afterwards men- 
tioned. 

The shells which we have hitherto described are, 
though beautifully formed, almost colourless ; but we 
know that some are gaily tinted with the most glowing 
colours, and much do we prize many which are gathered 
from far off seas. The shell is formed by the mollusk 
which dwells within. The little animal has, when 
first hatched, some small beginning of a shell, quite 
colourless and simple, which, in the course of time, 
assumes the shape peculiar to the species, and is 
adorned with brilliance like theirs. The shell is formed 
upon a basis of membranous structure, which, when by 
a chemical process it is exposed to view, shows itself 


THE BEACH. 


87 


to be either a network of cells, or a series of wrinkled 
layers. This membrane is scarcely thicker than such 
as the spider would weave ; but it is consolidated by a 
mixture of carbonate of lime, which the mollusk secretes 
from its food, and which, mingled with a living gelatine, 
exudes from the glands of the skin. Doubtless, its life 
is pleasantly employed in making this little cell, and 
adorning it with pink, or green, or purple, or any other 
brilliant tint, or with the various shades of fawn or 
brown, which seem to be dependent to a great extent 
upon the prevailing tints of the surrounding locality 
in which the animal resides. 

Shells, in an early or rude state of society, have 
various uses of which, in our age and country, we 
know little. We make from them some beautiful gems 
of art, and the shell has long formed the substitute for 
the hard, flinty stones of which the cameos were formed 
by the ancients. Shells are selected which afford the 
necessary distinction of colour, and which, while they 
are soft enough to be worked with ease, have yet suf- 
ficient hardness to resist wear. The shells usually em- 
ployed are univalves ; and the bull’s mouth, the black 
helmet, the horned helmet, and the queen’s conch, 
afford the material in greatest perfection. About 
twenty years since, an Italian commenced the manu- 
facture of these cameos in Paris, and now about three 
hundred persons are employed in that city in cutting 
them. Mr. Gray, who read to the Society of Arts a 
paper detailing the history of the manufacture of 
cameos, states : “ The number of shells used annually 
thirty years ago, was about three hundred, the whole 
of which were sent from England ; the value of each 
shell in Pome being thirty shillings.” He adds the 
prices of various shells used in 1847 in Paris, and 
observes : “ The average value of the large cameos 
made there is about six francs each, giving a sterling 
value of 82,000 1 . ; and the value of the small cameos 
is about 8,000Z. — giving a total value of the cameos 
produced in Paris for that year of 40,000Z. ; while in 


88 


A BOOK EOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


England not more than six persons are employed in 
this trade.” 

Various ornaments and beautiful pieces of inlaid 
work are made of the nacre, or mother-of-pearl ; and 
several bivalve shells furnish us with the pearl for 
feminine attire . Some large pearls have been procured 
from British species, but no shell of our land yields 
any to be compared to the oriental pearls, or to that 
large one called the globe of light, which is found in 
the avicula of the Pacific Ocean. 

But in many an island of the distant seas, dishes, 
drinking-cups, spoons, knives, razors, and fishing-hooks, 
are all furnished by the waters which lave their shores ; 
and the very instruments of music are made of the 
sea-shell. It has indeed a music of a softer nature for 
us — a music which reminds us of rolling waters, and 
which tempts us to lay our ear to its cavity, that we 
may listen to its sounds. 

“ Pleased it remembers its august abode, 

And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there.” 

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


“ Not a sound is heard, 

But of the cracking brand, or mouldering fire, 
Or when, amid yon pendent string of shells, 


THE BEACH. 


89 


The slow wind makes a shrill and feeble sound, 

A sound of sorrow to the mind attuned 
By sights of woe.” 

The negro girl yet decks herself in the nose-jewel and 
earring made of the shell ; and so beautifully do some 
tribes form their shells into wreaths and bracelets, that 
the European traveller looks on them with admiration. 
“ Some years ago,” says a writer in the “ Magazine of 
Natural History,” “I saw in the museum of Mr. Bullock 
a very magnificent piece of dress of this kind. It was 
the chief mourning dress of ceremony at the funerals of 
Otaheite. The part worn over the face was made of 
large plates of mother-of-pearl shell, fastened together 
with fibres of the cocoa-nut ; and the elaborate drapery 
stretched across the breast was composed of several 
thousands of pieces of mother-of-pearl, each separately 
drilled and fastened together, in a manner that would 
be found difficult for a European artist to copy.” 
Necklaces and other ornaments, made of shells, are 
also preserved in the British Museum. 

The inner layers of some large flat shells are polished 
and used, as glass is for windows, in China and India ; 
the flat shells of various species are used to skim milk ; 
and in Zetland an elegant lamp is made of the spindle- 
shell, ( Mcsus antiquorus ,) hung horizontally, the cavity 
being filled with oil, and the canal serving as a place 
for the wick. 

Shells are found to form an excellent manure for 
the land, and are, even in our country, sometimes 
used for this purpose ; and in China, India, and Africa, 
where there is no stone for the lime burner, shells are 
used instead. So pure is the lime procured from them, 
that even the ladies in India, who are accustomed to 
chew the leaf of the betel and the nut of the areka, 
commonly mingle this with them to improve their 
pungent flavour. 

But important as are some of these uses of shells, yet 
they are not to be compared to the service which they 
render in forming extensive portions of land. Chalk, 


90 


A BOOK POE- THE SEA-SIDE. 


marl, and limestone are composed of marine relics, in 
which shells largely mingle ; and millions and millions, 
far beyond onr computation, must have gone to make 
up the substance of a single cliff. The mollusks die, 
and the wave comes, with its broad sweep, and rolls 
onward the empty shells, and dashing them against 
pieces of rock, or projections of soil, reduces them to 
fragments, which gradually become more crushed and 
broken as the work is repeated. Then these masses 
are drawn along in the direction of currents, and driven 
in accumulated heaps along the shores. The strata 
which result from this action of the waves are mainly 
composed of broken shells, of which the asperites have 
been rounded into smoothness. It is also a circumstance 
worthy of remark, that in strata of this character the 
fragments are usually deposited according to the law of 
specific gravity, and that they are scarcely ever mingled 
with mud or other foreign matters, such shells as 
remain unbroken being filled with shelly sand. Many 
instances of this increase of land are to be seen on our 
coast. Such are the depositions, which being in the 
course of long years pressed down by superior strata, 
and having in themselves a tendency to crystallize, 
become more and more compact, and, finally hardening 
into solid rocks, leave few traces of their origin visible 
to the naked eye. 

But we must return to our account of some of the 
shells which the wanderer by the sea may be likely to 
find there. Several species belonging to the gaper 
tribe are common. They are oblong shells, and some- 
what rude in appearance, always more or less gaping 
very widely at the two extremities ; both the shell and 
the animal within are often covered with a coarse, 
wrinkled, thin skin. The species all bury themselves 
in sand, mud, or gravel. They have long siphons 
or tubes, and when buried they remain in an erect 
position under the mud, so that we may discover their 
retreats by holes which correspond with the extremities 
of their tubes. 


THE BEACH. 


91 


The truncate# mya {Mya truncatd) is a very com- 
mon shell, and found plentifully in the wet sand of 
our coast. In Zetland, the mollusk within it is boiled 
and eaten ; it is there called smurslin, and several of 
the species are good for food. It is abundant on the 
coast of Newfoundland, and said to be the favourite 
food of the cod-fish. 

Some shells which are deemed very rare by natu- 
ralists, who seek for them on shores only, are very 
common in the deeper part of the sea. This is the 
case with the triangular shell the gibbous tellina, 
{Tellina gibba ,) which is so extremely prevalent as to 
be a great annoyance to the habitual dredger. Other 
species, which we do not often find on the land, are 
brought to us in the stomachs of cods, halibuts, and 
other fishes. “ The haddock,” says Professor Forbes, 
“is a great conchologist : in his travels through the 
countries of the mermaids he picks up many curiosities 
in the shell way. Not a few rare species have been 
discovered by him, and the ungrateful zoologist too 
frequently describes novelties without an allusion to the 
original discoverer. As haddocks are not in the habit 
of writing pamphlets or papers, the fraud remains un- 
discovered, greatly to the detriment of science, for had 
the describer stated to whom he was indebted for his 
specimen, we could form some idea of its habitat and 
history.” The cod is also said by this writer to be a 
great naturalist in this way, though, apparently, he is 
not so much devoted to the study of the mollusca, as 
to the inhabitant of the sea-eggs, and to the star-fishes. 

The razor fishes, though but a small tribe, are im- 
portant bivalve mollusks, and are remarkable for their 
long narrow shells, which might remind us of a pod 
or seed-vessel of a plant. They are longer and narrower 
than any other shells, and they and their inmates were 
well known to Aristotle, who describes the habits of 
one of the species. He says that it buries itself in the 
sand at the depth of about two feet ; that it does not 
leave its hole, though it can sink or raise itself at will ; 


92 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


that it is alarmed by noise, and when frightened, buries 
itself very rapidly. 

This description agrees with the habits of our British 
species, two of which are very common. The pod razor 
shell ( Solen siliqua) is a long shell covered with a thin 
skin of a light brown or olive green, which when rubbed 
off shows the shell beneath to be white, with a few bands 
of dull purple. It is the largest British species, varying 



SOLEN SILIQUA. 

in length from three or four to eight inches. The 
animal within is good for food, and much sought for on 
various parts of our coast, but particularly prized in 
Ireland. Women and children take many razor fishes 
by a very simple plan. They have a long wire sharpened 
at one end, and bent. Searching in the sand for the 
holes made by these animals, they put down the wire 
and easily force them out of their hiding-places. The 


THE BEACH. 


93 


French call the solen mcmche de couteau , and it is, 
indeed, very similar to a knife-handle. On the coast 
of Normandy some of the species are very abundant. 

The sabre razor shell ( Solen ensis) is as plentiful 
on sandy places as the other species, and very similar 
to it, though more slender. It also inhabits deeper 
water. 

Much more beautiful in colour are the shells of the 
tellenidae, some of which are strewn upon all our 
sandy shores, and occur with the common kinds of 
scallop in all the baskets carried about beaches for sale. 
They are mostly thin delicate shells, beautifully marked 
and painted with most rich and glowing hues, though 
the little creature which makes the gay dwelling- 
place is pale and colourless. The genus psammobia 
belongs to this tribe, and it contains some very ele- 
gant and beautiful shells. One of these, (. Psammobia 
vesperiina ,) which, though rather a local species, is 
abundant in some parts of the coast, is so beautifully 
rayed with rosy hues, that it well deserves its name of 
the setting sun. It sometimes is collected in great 
numbers on our sands after stormy weather, and it 
dwells near the shore, burrowing at a slight depth 
beneath the sands at low water. 



PSAMMOBIA FERROENSIS. 


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


94 


A BOOK EOK THE SEA-SIDE. 


when this is rubbed away we find it rayed with white 
and delicate rose colour, or marbled with pink on a 
whitish ground. Indented lines run closely from the 
hinge to the edge, which are crossed by others ex- 
tending the whole breadth of the shell, and the edges 
are slightly notched. The highly polished interior is 
white or purplish lilac. 

The family is very numerous, not less than two 
hundred species of the genus tellina alone being enu- 
merated. They are to be found in every sea, though 
abounding most in the tropics ; and some or other of 
them are, like our British kinds, among the most 
frequent shells strewn by storms upon shores. The 
tropical species are highly coloured and beautiful in 
form, and much valued as chimney ornaments. The 
animals all burrow in the sand. 



TELLINA TENUIS AND ROCK LIMPETS. 

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


THE BEACH. 


95 


in different individuals, being sometimes of pale crim- 
son or delicate rose tint, at others, of orange or pale 
yellow, or yellowish white. It is often shaded with 
darker zones of the same colour, but is never marbled 
nor spotted. It is about one inch in length, and five- 
eighths of an inch in breadth. The pearly white thin 
shell is sometimes iridescent, though now and then 
stained with orange or rose colour. 

An oval-shaped bivalve shell, called the white mactra, 
{Mactra alba,) is very abundant in most sandy and 
muddy places round our coast. It is very thin and 



GROUP OF MACTRA. 

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


96 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


is common on the shores of the isle of Arran, and is 
there collected as food for pigs. 

The donax is another large family, whose strong 
shells are well known and abundant ; and scarcely any 
bivalve is more general on our shores than the trun- 
cated donax, ( Donax trunculus.') It is oblong wedge- 
shaped, firm and glossy, one inch and a quarter broad, 
and marked both from the hinge to the edge and from 

side to side with close 
deep lines, handed with 
purple, and having small 
notches at the edge. 
The animal within is 
usually of a dull white, 
but is sometimes of pale 
orange colour, and the 
form of its shell is ad- 
mirably adapted to its 
habit of burrowing in 
the sand. The name of 
donax is from the Greek 
word for reed, and a 
flying reed was used by the ancients for an arrow. 
The shape of the shell is very similar to the head of a 
javelin, being thick at one end, and gradually tapering 
towards the other. The truncated donax abounds 
on the sand, and its shell looks as if one end had 
been cut off; and several species of lutraria also are 
common shells. 

One of the many species of Venus, the striated 
species, ( Venus striatula,) is more easily described, 
and is found everywhere on sandy tracts. It is 
triangular and heart-shaped, often painted with delicate 
zigzag lines of a brown or purplish brown colour, 
nearly an inch and a half in length. Several of the 
species are common, and some are more gaily painted 
than this, and are justly admired for their brilliancy 
and smoothness of surface. It was the beauty of some 
of these which led to the fable that Venus selected 



DONAX ANATINA. 


THE BEACH. 


97 


one of these shells for her car; and they are used 
everywhere as decorations. The North American 
Indians cover their dancing shoes with them, and their 
movements produce a tinkling sound. There are one 
hundred and fifteen species of Venus enumerated. 

The island cyprina ( Cyjprina islandicd) may claim 
a passing notice as being one of our largest native 
shells. It is not rare on any part of our coast, though 
essentially it is a northern species. It has been known 
to measure four inches and a half in breadth, and 
more than four in length, but its ordinary size is 
somewhat less. 

A singular and handsome shell is the heart isocardia, 
( Isocardia cor data?) Its name would enable the reader 
to identify it, for it is truly heart-shaped. It is of a 
dull white colour, marked with fawn or dingy red. 
The animal within appears to be insensible either to 
sound or light. It fixes itself, by means of its foot, on 
the margin of a sand-bank, at too great a distance to 
be disturbed by storms. “There,” says the Bev. Jas. 
Bulwer, “ the isocardia of our Irish Sea patiently col- 
lects its food from the surrounding element, assisted in 
its choice by the current which it is capable of creating 
by the alternate opening and closing of its valves.” It 
is chiefly obtained off the Dublin coast. 

The last named shell is better known to those who 
are in the habit of examining collections of shells, than 
to the wanderer by the sea-side. Not so the common 
cockle, ( Cardiivm edule ,) whose strong ribbed shell is 
familiar to everybody, being found all round our coast 
wherever there is any sand. The shell is still used in 
the Hebrides for skimming milk ; and in the feast of 
shells in the days of Bingal, that of the cockle was, 
according to Macpherson, the heroes’ cup of festivity, 
being known by the name of sliga-crechin, or the 
drinking shell. Large heaps of the empty shells, 
strewed by the doors of cottages, often serve to show 
how agreeable a food to the labourer are the small 
globose animals which once occupied them ; and the 

H 


98 


A BOOK POE, THE SEA-SIDE. 


cockle is certainly one of tlie best flavoured of the 
mollusca. Though we cannot agree with those who 
prefer it to the oyster, as some do, yet it is no des- 
picable food when roasted or boiled, serving also for a 
good fish sauce when prepared with butter. Many 
cockles are gathered on the sandy shore by children, 
and eaten raw, and in some places numbers of them 
are pickled. During a great failure of the potato crop 
in the Orkney Islands, many of the poorer people 
subsisted almost entirely on these shell-fish. To the 
poor of other lands they are more valuable than to us. 
The people of Tierra del Tuego live almost entirely 
on sea eggs and various mollusks ; and Captain Cook 
remarked in Australia, that wherever marks of fire 
were observed, there lay around the empty shells of 
oysters, cockles, mussels, and various bivalves, some- 
times in numbers almost incredible. 

There is another frequent species of this genus, the 
spiny cockle, ( Cardium echinatum ,) the shell of which 
is larger than the common kind, and is even Armen 
and more thickly ribbed, the ribs being covered with 
numerous short spines. It is a very handsome shell, 
varying from whitish to shades of reddish, or yellowish 
brown. The animal differs too from the common 
cockle in having some bright tints about it. It is of 
yellowish white, and some of its minute thread-like 
feelers are white with yellow points at their bases ; and 
some are dotted with red ; while the foot is of pale 
rose colour, and deeper red. The foot, in this and other 
mollusca, is a fleshy piece somewhat resembling that 
part of the human frame. In the common cockle it is 
remarkably strong, and the animal can, by its means, 
emerge from the sand, re-enter it, raise itself briskly, 
or advance or go back as it pleases. If desirous of 
sinking in the mud or sand, it can lengthen this foot 
and hook itself to any object by its extremity ; it can 
then shorten it and bring the shell to its point, cutting 
the sand with the edge. It can curve it into an arch 
when it chooses to spring, then quickly straighten it 


THE BEACH. 


99 


again, and thus raise the whole body with much 
agility. When above the soil, a similar manoeuvre 
enables it to jump to a considerable height. 

There are many edible species of cockle. Mr. Couch, 
speaking of the large, solid, coarsely wrinkled shell, 
called at Torbay the red nose, ( Cardium rusticum ,) 
says that they are much eaten in that neighbourhood. 
They may be seen at spring tides with their fringed 
tubes appearing just above the surface. The people 
gather them in baskets and panniers, and after placing 
them in cold spring water for a few hours, they fry the 
mollusks in a batter made of crumbs of bread, “ pro- 
ducing,” as this naturalist observes, “ a wholesome and 
savoury dish.” The loose valves lie in considerable 
numbers on the Cornish shore, but the species is 
rather a local than a general one. 

The common mussel (Mytilus edulis) is universally 
diffused round our shores at the edge of low water, or 
a little beyond it, and often cast up by the waves. In 
many lands, as well as in ours, these shell-fish form a 
valuable supply of food. We need not describe at any 
length the dark opaque bluish shell, covered with its 
thin skin of yellowish brown, or the sand-coloured 
animal within, nor tell how the mussel moors itself by 
silken cables to the rock, or rides at anchor among the 
shallows. The valves of the mussel-shell fit very 
closely together, and are opened or closed by means of 
muscles adapted for the purpose which antagonize with 
an elastic hinge. When the animal chooses to remove 
from its station, it gradually opens the shell, and push- 
ing forth a fleshy foot, it makes a furrow in the sand, 
and draws its shell in this in a vertical posture. 
Wholesome as the mussel is in general, yet, as is well 
known, it seems greatly to disagree with some, causing 
eruptions on the skin, like nettlerash, the result 
probably of indigestion. People thus injured by them 
are at sea-coast towns said to be musselled ; but all 
inquiry has failed to discover any cause in the animal 
of their occasional alleged poisonous influence. Neither 


100 A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

chemist nor anatomist can account for it, and all 
theories assigning it to the season of the year, the 
fresh or stale condition of the fish, to its having fed on 
poisonous matters, have in some instance or other 
proved fallacious, and have left the question as they 
found it. Fortunately, however, illness arising from 
this cause is very rare, and so valuable a source of food 
are the mussels, that small portions of the sea-shore 
between the tide-marks are, in some places, surrounded 
by stones, and called mussel gardens, and carefully 
watched by their proprietors. The fishermen of 
Northumberland were seen by Mr. Alder employed in 
piling up stones among the rocks to secure their 
mussels. 

Professor Forbes and Mr. Hanley quote, in the 
valuable “ History of the British Mollusca,” a com- 
munication made by Dr. Knapp of Edinburgh, as to 
the number of these shell-fish consumed in the 
neighbourhood of that city. “ As an article of food,” 
he says, “ there cannot be used fewer than ten bushels 
per week in Edinburgh and Leith, say for forty weeks 
in the year; in all, 400 bushels annually. Each 
bushel of mussels, when shelled and freed from all 
refuse, will probably contain from three to four pints 
of the animals, or about 900 or 1,000, according to 
their size. Taking the latter number, there will be 
consumed in Edinburgh and Leith about 400,000 
mussels.” This, he adds, is a mere trifle compared 
with the enormous numbers used in bait for all kinds 
of fish. At Newhaven alone, he calculates that the 
annual consumption of mussels for this purpose only 
may be reckoned at 4,820,000 ; and as there are nearly 
as many used at Musselburgh, and various other 
places in the Frith of Forth, he estimates the annual 
use of them by the fishermen of that district, for bait 
only, to be thirty or forty millions in each year. 

The larger shell of the horse mussel (. Mytilus modiola) 
may be picked up at various parts of our coast, and in 
some places this shell-fish is collected for food. All 


THE BEACH. 


101 


the mussel tribe can spin a strong and silky hair, 
called byssus, by which they attach themselves to rocks 
so securely that winds and waves cannot rend them 
from their moorings. The animal of that common 
shell, the discordant creneila, ( Grenella discors ,) a 
species nearly allied to the mussel, fastens itself by 
this silk to the roots of the tangle, or the stems of 
corrallines. This mollusk can move with much quick- 
ness when it pleases, hut Mr. Alder remarks that it 
prefers a stationary life, and so forms for itself a kind 
of little nest or case, by fastening together with its 
silky cables a number of the small sea-weeds and 
corallines. Here it lies waiting for such food as the 
water shall convey to it. This shell, which is found 
at all parts of our coast, is sometimes to be seen 
enveloped in nests formed of little pieces of the horn- 
wrack and small masses of sand glued together and 
wound about by these threads. 

A considerable number of bivalves are furnished 
with this bundle of threads, more or less loosely 
connected, and issuing from the base of the foot 
of their inmate. This foot is used to direct the 
threads, and to glue the extremities 
to the point of attachment. The 
largest two-valved shell that our 
British seas produce, the pectinated 
pinna, ( Pinna pectinata ,) which is 
sometimes twelve inches long, has 
a byssus of this kind, consisting of 
numerous silky fibres of a dark 
purplish colour, and often five or 
six inches in length. 'These silky 
tufts are called by the Sicilian 
fishermen lana penna , and the 
inhabitants both of Sicily and 
Calabria prepare the byssus for PINN ^. 

making a kind of stuff ; but this is 
expensive, and consequently the manufacture has 
gradually dwindled. The threads, when broken away, 



102 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


are sold to women, who, after washing them in soap 
and water, drying them in the shade, and combing 
them, card the silk, which by means of these processes 
is reduced to about three ounces. The fabric when 
manufactured is of a beautiful yellowish brown, 
resembling bronze, and it never loses its colour. A 
manufactory of this stuff has long been established at 
Palermo, and there gloves, stockings, caps, and waist- 
coats are made of it. In 1754, a pair of stockings, 
made of the pinna silk, was presented to pope Boniface 
xv., which were so fine that they were enclosed in a 
case no larger than a snuff-box. 

The shell of the pinna is thin and horn coloured, 
and is something like a fan in shape. Beds of these 
sometimes entangle the line of the Cornish fishermen, 
and they can only be removed by forcibly tearing the 
byssus, or by breaking up the ground to which they 
are fastened; in the latter case a large number of 
the shell -fish are brought away. The animal is 
eaten, but it needs many hours stewing before it 
is digestible. The ancients considered it to be good 
food. 

The two valves of the shell cannot be closed by art, 
but the animal can close them ; and Mr. Couch, who 
has long observed the pinna, is convinced that it is by 
this means that it secures its food. The valves stand 
upright, with the wider end above, and the lower part 
attached by the moorings. In its ordinary position, 
the upper end of the shell is open about two inches, 
exposing the animal within, which seems thus to offer 
itself a prey to the first creature that may choose to 
devour it. “ Some fish,” observes the naturalist 
referred to, “ is thus tempted to enter it, but the first 
touch within is a signal for its destruction. The shell 
closes, not only at the side but the top, the latter 
action being effected by the separation of the pointed 
ends, and the captive is either crushed to death or soon 
perishes from the close confinement.” A little crab is 
often found inhabiting this shell with the pinna. The 


THE BEACH. 103 

friendship between them will be described in a future 
page. 

But there is an interesting little animal enclosed in 
a white shell, which works unseen beneath the waters, 
and constructs so beautiful a nest, that not even a 
goldfinch could plan a dwelling better fitted for peace 
or comfort. The late Dr. Landsborough, in his “ Ex- 
cursion to Arran,” describes how he found the lima 
tenera in Lamlash bay, snug in its nest ; and the de- 
scription is so graphic, that long as it is we must quote 
it : — “ The coral nest is curiously constructed, and 
remarkably well fitted to be a safe residence for this 
beautiful animal. The fragile shell does not nearly 
cover the mollusk, the most delicate part of it, a beau- 
tiful orange fringe-work, being altogether out of the 
shell. Had it no extra protection, the half-exposed 
animal would be a tempting mouthful, quite a bonne 
bouche to some prowling haddock or whiting ; but He 
who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb teaches this 
little creature, which he has so elegantly formed, 
curious arts of self-preservation. It is not content 
with hiding itself among the loose coral, for the first 
rude wind might lay it naked and bare — it becomes a 
marine mason, and builds a place of abode ; it chooses 
to dwell in a coral grotto, but in constructing this 
grotto, it shows that it is not only a mason, but a rope 
spinner, and a tapestry weaver, and a plasterer. Were 
it merely a mason, it would be no easy matter to cause 
the polymorphous coral to cohere. Cordage then is 
necessary to bind together the angular fragments of 
the coral, and this cordage it spins ; but its mode of 
spinning is one of the secrets of the deep. Somehow 
or another, though it has no hands, it contrives to 
intertwine this yarn which it forms among the numerous 
bits of coral, so as firmly to bind a handful of it to- 
gether. Externally this habitation is rough, and there- 
fore the better fitted to elude or to ward off enemies ; but 
though rough externally, all is smooth and lubricous 
within, for the yarn is woven into a lining of tapestry, 


104 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


and the interstices are filled np with fine slime, so that 
it is smooth plaster work, not unlike the patent in- 
tonaco of my ingenious friend Mrs. Marshall. Not 
being intended, however, like her valuable composi- 
tion, to keep out damp, or to bid defiance to fire, 
while the intertwining cordage keeps the coral walls 
together, the fine tapestry, mixed with smooth and 
soft plaster, covers all asperities, so that there is nothing 
to injure the delicate fringed appendages of the en- 
closed animal. Tapestry, as a covering for walls, was 
once the proud and costly ornament of regal apart- 
ments ; but ancient though the art was, I shall answer 
for it that our little marine artisan took no hint from 
the G-ohelins, or from the workmen of Arras, or from 
those of Athens, or even from the earliest tapissiers 
of the east. I doubt not that from the time that 
Noah’s ark rested on the mountain of Ararat, the 
forefathers of these beautiful little limas have been 
constructing their coral cottages, and lining them with 
well wrought tapestry in the peaceful bay of Lamlash. 

“ When the lima is taken out of its nest, and put 
into a jar of sea- water, it is one of the most beautiful 
marine animals you can look upon. The shell is ele- 
gant, the animal within the shell is beautiful, and the 
orange fringe-work outside of the shell is highly orna- 
mental. Instead of being sluggish, it swims about with 
great vigour. Its mode of swimming is the same as 
that of the scallop ; it opens its valves, and suddenly 
shutting them, expels the water, so that it is impelled 
onwards or upwards, and when the impulse thus given 
is spent, it repeats the operation, and thus moves for- 
wards by a succession of jerks or jumps. When moving 
through the water in this way, the reddish fringe-work 
is like the tail of a fiery comet. The filaments of the 
fringe may, for anything we know, he useful in catching 
their prey ; they are very easily broken off, and it is 
remarkable that they seem to live for many hours after 
they are detached, twisting themselves about in a 
vermicular manner.” 


THE BEACH. 


105 


Thus beneath the waters the little mollusks work in 
silence, building the house with neatness and elegance. 
It is comparatively seldom that the structure meets 
the eye of man, but Grod has scattered loveliness 
everywhere, and the traces of his pencil have wrought 
rainbow tints even in the lowest deeps. 

Some of the commonest shells on our coast, and 
certainly some of the most beautiful, are the scallops. 
Everybody knows them, coloured as they are with 
their rich hues of brown and orange. The speckled 
scallop (. Fecten varius) is so frequent that we can 
never walk far over the sand without seeing it. Its 
tints vary in different individuals, but they are most 
frequently of reddish-brown, or deeper orange hue, 
the older specimens mottled with white; the valves 
are slightly convex, rather more than two inches long, 
and marked with about twelve ribs. 

The upper valve of the scallops is generally more 
vivid than the lower one, as is the case with many 
bivalve shells, which permanently keep the lower valve 
downwards. Light acts much in influencing colour, as 
we see in our own seas, where all the objects are less 
brilliant in tint than in the seas of tropical climates. 
So, too, shells which are enveloped in sponges, or 
which burrow in the sand, or even live constantly in 
shady places, are much paler than those which cover 
animals that crawl about, and are exposed to light. 

Every sea teems with some of the numerous species 
of scallop. One of the most highly-coloured of our own 
common kinds is the tiger scallop, ( Pecten tigrinus ,) 
which is streaked with every variety of markings, of 
brownish-red, lilac, chocolate, yellow, and white. It is 
a favourite food of flat-fish. The lid-scallop, ( Pecten 
opercular is,) which is so abundant among the oyster- 
beds, is a handsome shell, well known for its uses in 
making pincushions and watch-pockets, and the mollusk 
is often cooked in its shell with bread crumbs, or fried 
for the table. So too is the larger shell-fish of the 
great scallop, ( Pecten maximus ,) while its shell serves 


106 


A BOOK EOK THE SEA-SIDE. 


the fisherman also for a lamp. The pilgrims who in 
former days travelled to the Holy Land, and 

“ Fix’d the scallop in their hats before,” 

as a sign of their pilgrimage, appear to have used this 
species, and they found it lying in plenty by the shores 
of Palestine. 

The French call the shells jpeignes , but in Scotland 
they are often called 
clams. The Rev. Dr. 
Landsborough, describ- 
ing a number of beauti- 
ful corallines and sea- 
weeds which grew on 
some which he dredged 
up from the bay of Lam- 
lash, laments that the 
scallops have disappeared 
from that place. “ The 
fishermen,” he says, 
“ finding that they made 
excellent bait, had, in their greed, I suppose, exhausted 
the bed.” 

The same author describes the scallops as dancing 
so merrily, that when he first saw them he thought 
they were young fishes ; this they did by opening and 
shutting their valves. 

"Who that listens to the old proverb, “ As dull as an 
oyster,” would imagine that the oyster dances in the 
waters too ? Yet so it is ; the young ones dart about 
with the greatest rapidity, and have admirable powers 
of swimming quickly, though, as they increase in size, 
they seem to grow in sedateness. The oyster, like the 
goose, is a misjudged animal ; so far from being stupid, 
it shows unusual resources in emergencies. When 
choosing to remove from its place, it can raise itself 
up on one side, so as to stand nearly upright, and 
thus, awaiting the flowing of the tide, opens the shell, 
and is turned over by the force of the water. The 



THE BEACH. 


107 


very slightest touch will cause it to close its valves. 
When the proboscis of some whelk or other enemy is 
attempting to make a hole in its shell, in order to 
suck the animal forth, it can dart at it a quantity of 
water which it has in reserve between its valves. Ex- 
posed as it is to enemies, which pierce its shell in all 
directions, it will sometimes thicken its substance by 
an addition of nacre, and the pearl which we prize so 
much is but the plug which the oyster has ingeniously 
wrought to stop the cavity made by the intruder. 
True it is that the poor shell-fish has more enemies 
sometimes than even his skill can enable him to resist ; 
and besides being pierced all over by living creatures, 
a parasitic sponge ( Cliona 'perforata) makes holes 
there too. Little forests of corallines spring up on 
the surface, and barnacles, and dead men’s fingers, and 
sea-weeds, ornamental as they are, yet encumber the 
dwelling. The very inside of the cell of our oyster is 
not free from the incursions of animalcules and worms, 
the former of which are phosphorescent, and are, 
perhaps, after all, too small to injure, and may, indeed, 
rather serve as a store of food. 

Our “ native oyster,” ( Ostrea edulis ,) reared in an 
artificial bed, is a well-known animal. But those who 
watch the fishing-boats which are about our coasts are 
more familiar with that most handsome variety called 
the rock-oyster, the flavour of which is, however, infe- 
rior to that of the native, though the animal is larger. 
The rough layers of the shell are usually crowded 
with marine weeds, and other stores from the sea. 
This, which is usually about four inches wide, is also 
dashed and streaked with lilac or reddish purple. 

Most of our coasts produce oysters naturally, and 
nowhere do they attain so much perfection as in the 
British seas. The ancient Bomans gathered them from 
our shores, and placed them in artificial beds in the 
Lucrine Lake. The oyster shells still lie in abundance 
about the shores of Eichborough in Kent, the Bitupse 
of the Bomans, and the spot whence they fetched their 


108 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


best kind. To be a good judge of the flavour of an 
oyster was tbe characteristic of the Roman epicure, 
and Messrs. Eorbes and Hanley thus render tbe well- 
known passage of Juvenal on this subject : — 

u Who at first bite each oyster’s birthplace knew ; 

Whether a Lucrine or Circsean he’d bitten, 

Or one from Bitupinian deeps in Britain.” 

The native and the rock-oyster are but varieties of 
the same species, and the valuable supply of food 
yielded by these abundant shell-fish is chiefly furnished 
by the beds of Kent and Essex. The beds are made 
in rivers, and some care is required in tending and 
replenishing them from the sea, as well as in keeping 
the oysters clear of the barnacles, sea- weeds, and even 
fishes, which would encumber or molest them. The 
depth of bays is sometimes somewhat lessened by the 
great numbers of oysters. The refuse shells are useful 
for manure, and when calcined are of some worth as 
absorbents. There is a species of oyster so like a 
withered leaf, as to elude, by this resemblance, the 
pursuit of birds of prey. 


The anomia, or pearly oyster, 
as it is called, has a thin shell, 
with unequal valves, and is at- 
tached to various bodies, shaping 
itself upon them. Two kinds are 
very commonly thrown up by the 
waves on all parts of the shore, 
often adhering either to the 
common oyster, or the large 
scallop, and when moulded on 



ANOMIA EPHIPPIUM. 


the latter, becoming ribbed like it. The waved anomia, 
(. Anomia undulata ,) and the saddle anomia, ( Anomia 
ephippium^) are much alike, having green, purple, 
violet, or yellow tints reflected on their changing sur- 
faces. One of the valves is usually more flat than the 
other, and has a hole through the base, which was, 
when in the sea, occupied by a shelly plug, that ad- 


THE BEACH. 


109 


liered to the opposite valve, and passed through the 
perforation. 

There is a very singular mollusk, the three-spined 
hyalea, ( Hyalea trispinosa ,) the minute frail shell of 
which has been found on our shores, and may, perhaps, 
have been often wafted there to be broken by the 
wave that brings it. The description given of it by 
Messrs. Eorbes and Hanley is so graphic, that it is 
better to quote it for the reader : — “ In warmer seas 
than those which encircle our island, the surface of 
the water, when the weather is calm, and the sun is 
shining, glistens with glassy needles or shelly bubbles. 
These, upon close examination, prove to belong to 
curious mollusks, which, instead of creeping over sub- 
marine rocks and weeds, or burying in the soft mud 
and sand of the sea-bed, aspire to a gayer and more 
sportive life, and play the part of Neptune’s bees and 
butterflies. Trom our less congenial waves they are al- 
most altogether absent ; only a few stragglers, and these, 
with one exception, of microscopic dimensions, have met 
even the scrutinizing eyes of practised naturalists.” 

Some very pretty little bivalves belonging to the ark 
family are so called because some of the true ark shells 
are much like that curious boat, which has long been 
figured as the home of the family who floated on the 
waters of the deluge. That common shell, the silvery 
ark, {Area nucleus ,) though an inhabitant of deep 
waters, and abundant in dredges, is besides often found 
in a broken condition on our shores. It is quite white, 
but when fresh from the waters is covered with a thin 
olive-coloured skin. In some places we might soon 
gather a basketful of these little shells, as they are in 
such great numbers. The different species chiefly lie 
among the crevices of rocks, and in the cavities of 
other shells, fastening themselves to these objects by 
means of their byssus. 

But the tide is out, and we may wander among the 
wet rocks, slippery with green sea-weeds, and peep 
into the salt water rivulets, which are running in 


110 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


among them. The rocks are so thickly covered with 
barnacles, canoe-shells, and limpets, that they have 
escaped the injuries of the stone-piercers ; as these 
could hardly find an inch of surface unoccupied. 

Large numbers of the grey canoe-shell ( Chiton cine - 
reus) are clinging close to the rocks, some of them of 
an orange brown colour, some varieties nearly black, 
and most of olive green marked with brown patches. 
We turn up a spray of sea- weed, and there lie a number 
of canoe-shells richly dressed in crimson, marked with 
white; while altogether they so ornament the rock 
that it looks as if decorated with mosaic work. The 
animal within is, as we can easily see if we detach the 
shell from the rock, of a dull flesh colour. 

Several of these canoe-shells are common on our 
rocky shores. They are oblong, composed of eight 
transverse plates, so that the animal resembles the 
common wood-louse in its powers of rolling up like a 
ball. It adheres by a foot or disk in the same way 
as the common limpet, that is, by the exhaustion of 
the air in the same manner as children’s leather suckers, 
for which purpose the organ is provided with pores, 
and adheres so firmly that if we only give the animal 
warning of our intention to take it, its removal becomes 
almost impossible. The strong muscles of its foot 
enable it to cling thus firmly while the cavity in which 
some of the shells are fixed is excavated, some think, 
by means of the action of the carbonic acid gas which 
escapes in the process of respiration ; though others, 
as Mr. Hancock, attribute it to a rasping power of 
the soft foot. Wordsworth has well and beautifully 
described the animal in the following lines : — 

“ At distance view’d it seems to lie 
On its rough bed so carelessly, 

That ’twould an infant’s hand obey, 

Stretch’d forth to seize it in its play ; 

But let that infant’s hand draw near, 

It shrinks with quick instinctive fear, 

And clings as close as though the stone 


THE BEACH. 


Ill 


And should the strongest arm endeavour 
The limpet from the rock to sever, 

’Tis seen its loved support to clasp 
With such tenacity of grasp, 

We wonder that such strength should dwell 
In such a small and simple shell.” 

The poet proceeds to draw from this the important 
lesson, that we too should cling to Him who is called 
the Hock of ages. Surely amidst the changes of time 
the Christian may rejoice in the stability of the Saviour, 
and turning from the weaknesses of his own heart, 
may cling with firm confidence and joyful thanksgiving 
to Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for 
ever; whom no clouds shall hide; from whom no 
billow can rend, but on whom the soul may rest either 
in life, or death, or eternity. 

The shell of our common limpet (Patella vulgata) is 
nearly round and conical, and on account of its form 
the Latins distinguished the animal by the suitable 
name of Patella , which was their term for a small 
deep dish, used for the purposes of sacrifice. It is 
usually of an olive or yellowish colour, but is never 
white. Ho mollusk is more common than this, for no 
sooner is a sea-wall reared, which is washed at high 
tide, than thousands of limpets come to take possession 
of it. Many of us have, in the days of childhood, made 
a hearty luncheon of the somewhat tough shell-fish, 
and needed no culinary art to deem them agreeable. 
They are also eaten by the poor on sea-coast towns, 
but their chief value as food is to the savage natives 
of distant lands. In the north of Ireland they are, 
however, a common article of food, and the limpet- 
gatherers at Larne, in Antrim, thirty in number, are 
stated to have earned, in one season of four months, no 
less than one hundred pounds sterling, by collecting 
them. They are also eaten by birds, and much relished 
by poultry ; while, like many other mollusks, they are 
of great value as bait. The late Dr. Johnston, of 
Berwick, calculates that there is an annual consump- 
tion of 11,880,000 limpets for this purpose; and in 


112 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


consequence of this perpetual demand, the limpets of 
his neighbourhood have so decreased in number, that 
the employment of collecting them is now a tedious 
work. 

The limpet can, when it chooses, crawl over the 
rocks, and its long ribbon-like tongue is provided with 
a series of teeth placed in rows, with which it probably 
tears the sea- weeds ; but when it remains stationary, 
its food doubtless consists of the microscopic animals 
present in every drop of water, and which are swept 
into its very mouth. Another species is called the 
horse-limpet, and is known to the Berwick fishermen 
as the yarod. A beautiful little kind is also common 
in the long leaf of the tangle, which is clear and thin, 
of dark olive, rayed with brilliant blue. All sea- weed 
gatherers know it, for it lives on this plant. It is the 
pellucid limpet. 

There is a shell found on most of our shores, though 
not in great numbers, except on some parts of the 
southern coast, which is called the fool’s-cap limpet, or 
Torbay bonnet. It is the Capulus ungaricus of the 
conchologist, and is shaped like a little cap of liberty. 
Then there are keyhole limpets, ( Tissurella ,) so called 
because of an oblong aperture at their summit, which 
in some of the species is shaped like a keyhole. The 
animal of the netted keyhole limpet is sometimes of a 
creamy white colour ; but in other specimens, taken 
from the surface of scallops, which were incrusted with 
a crimson sponge, it has been found to be of a rich 
orange approaching scarlet. 

One or two tooth shells are common. The toothed 
dentalium ( Dentalium entalis) is especially so. It is 
like a horn, slightly curved and hollow, of white or 
yellowish colour, about an inch and a half long. The 
fluted shell of one of the species is said to have sug- 
gested the idea of the shaft of the Doric column. 

Among the shells which we use as ornaments, 
scarcely any, except the cowries, are more generally 
prized than the top shells, which are brought from 


THE BEACH. 


118 


foreign seas. Often of most elegant spiral form, 
somewhat resembling the toy whence they take their 
name, they exhibit the richest hues of pink and 
emerald and blue upon their pearly surfaces. Our 
more soberly tinted species cannot 
rival the foreign kinds, though 
some of the common specimens of 
the muddy red trochus ( Trochus 
ziziphynus) are very pretty shells, 
sometimes measuring an inch from 
the base to the pointed summit, 
and marked with wavy dashes of 
pinkish red, or dark claret, or 
reddish flesh colour, on a ground 
of white. A beautiful creature is the mollusk inhabit- 
ing this shell, being of a bright reddish brown, speckled 
at various parts with other bright tints. All the 
trochus genus have eyes, placed at the base of the 
antennae; and this common kind has greenish blue 
eyes, with a black point in the centre. 

Other species are common, but not easily described ; 
but that small grey top-shell, of an ash colour, with 
grey markings, is well known. It is sometimes called 
the dog-periwinkle, ( Trochus cinerarius ,) and is very 
abundant among the sea- weeds near the shore. 

But the most beautiful of our native species is the 
large top-shell, ( Trochus mojus ,) which is found all 
round our island, and which is sometimes painted with 
most vivid hues. The upper layers are frequently re- 
moved, so as to show the mother-of-pearl beneath ; and 
very pretty bracelets, brooches, and other ornaments, 
are made of this material. Not inferior in brilliance 
to the shell itself, is the animal which constructs it. 
Bright orange, scarlet, straw colour, white, and purple, 
are among the hues which adorn it ; and it is besides 
a blue-eyed beauty, its eyes being of most vivid azure. 
The shell is varied with reddish and liver-coloured 
tints on a ground of dull white. 

The magnificent cowries from the tropics, which, so 

i 



114 


A BOOK FOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


often embellish drawing-rooms, have but a homely 
representative in our seas ; our only native kinds 
being small white-ribbed shells, found on all our sandy 
coasts, and known to children as the pig cowries. 

Among the most frequent shells of our shore is that 
large rough covering of the common whelk, ( Buccinum 
undatum ,) often called by fishermen whelk tingle, or 
sting-winkle, which is frequently four inches long. 
The Latin name is significant of the ancient use of 
some species of this shell as a trumpet; though the 
word apparently included all shells of the spiral form. 
A large species of the shell is still in use in Italy, 
where the herdsmen employ it in making a number of 
loud and somewhat musical sounds, by which they 
direct their herds. “They are also common,” says 
Miss B/oberts, “in North Wales, where I have heard 
their deep and hollow sounds, breaking on the silence 
of those alpine districts, when used by the farmers in 
calling to their labourers. Triton, Neptune’s trum- 
peter, is generally pictured with a shell of this descrip- 
tion in his hand, with which ancient poets fabled that 
he convened the river deities around their monarch. 
It is wreathed like those called sikanos, or sea-horn, 
common to India, Africa, and the Mediterranean, and 
still used as trumpets for blowing alarms and giving 
signals.” Shells of a similar kind are also applied to 
pastoral purposes in Muscovy and Lithuania ; and no 
sooner does the morning sun redden on the hill or 
valley, than the long sounding shelly trumpet of the 
herdsman awakes the echoes, and sheep, horses, mules, 
and goats attend to the well-known summons. Then 
the shepherd heads his flock, and advancing into such 
pasturage as he thinks best suited for them, he guides 
them on their way : a further signal is given when he 
will lead them to the river; and another when they 
are to be taken homeward. Who could observe the 
habit of the shepherd, or even hear the far-off signal, 
without thinking of the words of our Lord — “ My 
sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they 


THE BEACH. 


115 


follow me ?” Who could fail to appreciate the beauty 
of that image, addressed originally to a pastoral 
people, but designed to guide and cheer every true 
believer in Jesus Christ to the end of time ? — “ The 
Lord is my shepherd ; I shall not want. He maketh 
me to lie down in green pastures : he leadeth me 
beside the still waters.” Glorious promise to the 
pilgrims through a desert land, who are walking on- 
wards to their home, and who, like the sheep of the 
wilderness, can only go safely or happily while follow- 
ing the guidance of their leader. 

Miss Roberts, in her “Elements of Conchology,” 
has recorded a pastoral usage of simple piety. “ A 
sort of speaking trumpet,” says this writer, “made 
either of the buccinum or the bark of the cherry-tree, 
is also in much request among the inhabitants of 
alpine districts. When the last rays of the setting 
sun appear on the horizon, the shepherd who dwells 
highest upon the mountain blows his horn, and calls 
aloud, 4 Praised be the Lord.’ The neighbouring 
shepherds then leave their huts, and repeat the words ; 
the sound lasts for several minutes, while every cave 
and mountain echo repeats the name of God.” The 
herdsmen then bend their knees in prayer ; and thus 
God is adored in the sublime scenes of his own work- 
manship, and “ Glory to God in the highest” goes up 
from the voice of assembled shepherds now, as it was 
once proclaimed to shepherds by the heavenly host, 
when the angel came to tell the glad tidings to man of 
the birth of the Redeemer. 

But we must return to our common whelk, whose 
spiral shell led to this digression. This animal is a 
valuable article of bait, and is also much eaten, being 
sold as food in the London streets ; it has not, however, 
any excellence of flavour, and is hard and tough. 
Large balls of the eggs of the whelk lie everywhere 
about the beach, sometimes of the size of an orange, at 
others as if two or three balls were clinging together. 
The sailors call them bladder-chain, and fisherman’s 


116 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


soap ; the former name is very appropriate, as the balls 
look as if chains of yellow bladders were wound round 
and round. At one stage they only contain a white 
liquid, but later in the season we may find the little 
whelk within. They are used by men about the coast 
for washing their hands ; not because of any cleansing 
property which they have in them, but because their 
somewhat rough surface may serve to remove the tar 
from the hands of toil, as effectually as a coarse rough 
towel could do. 

Another kind of whelk, almost equally common, is 
the stone or dog- whelk, ( Purpura lapilla ,) which has 
yellow zones around it, and is interesting as having 
been one of the shells which furnished the valuable 
Tyrian dye, of which we read in Scripture and in 
ancient history. The truncated murex, or rock-shell, 
( Murex trunculus ,) is the other shell-fish from which 
this costly dye was procured, and it appears to be the 
species called the p urpura , or purple. Michaelis thinks 
that Solomon alluded to the spiral form of these shells 
when he says, “ The hair of their head is like purple,” 
meaning that the tresses were tied up in a spiral or 
pyramidal form on the top. The royal purple was 
highly prized for robes and various decorations. Parch- 
ments and vellums were coloured with this brilliant 
hue, in order to set off the golden or silver letters 
traced upon them. Biblical manuscripts, copies of the 
parables of our Lord, and various religious books, 
w r ere, in olden days, richly adorned with this purple. 
Many of the monks spent great parts of their lives in 
writing and illuminating these manuscripts ; and half 
a century was not deemed too long to devote to the 
work of copying in beautiful writing the words either 
of the apostles or saints, and enriching their margins 
and capital letters with devices on a deep blue or 
scarlet ground. 

The blue which we find in Scripture so frequently 
associated with the purple, is supposed to have been 
derived from another shell-fish, which sometimes sails 


THE BEACH. 


117 


in considerable numbers into our seas. This is the 
common ianthina, ( Ianthina communis ,) in shape some- 
thing like that of the snail, but looking as if cut out 
of thin, purplish porcelain. On such of our shores as 
are washed hy the Atlantic it is often seen, and the 
fisherman’s wives call it the bullhorn. The little 
mollusk is slightly tinged with purple, and emits a 
purple fluid which will stain paper. Its fragile bark 
sails securely in the deepest seas ; and when the waters 
are unrippled by winds it floats along with its foot 
upwards, upheld by a little organ resembling a bubble 
of foam, several united together form a raft to which 
they hang attached, and are blown hither and thither 
by the light breath of the summer wind; but if a 
rougher breeze arise, the tiny animals withdraw their 
heads within their shells, take in their float of bubbles, 
and sink to the bottom of the sea. This sea-snail is 
remarkably phosphorescent. It serves as food to the 
fishes and sea-birds. 

A deep and rich violet colour is emitted by a very 
common mollusk of our shores, called the sea-hare, 
(Aplysia depilans.) This liquid will stain a cambric 
handkerchief of a brilliant tint, but the dye is not 
permanent. The water, too, is tinged to a great extent, 
if any alarm causes the animal to discharge the colour. 
Pliny, and other old writers, described the sea-hare as 
so venomous that it was unsafe even to look at it, while 
the mere touch of its acrid fluid would cause the hair to 
fall off. . Our poor little sea-hare, however, is perfectly 
inoffensive, save that it has an unpleasant odour; though 
Darwin found that a large species, which he saw on 
the shores of St. Domingo, emitted a secretion that 
stung the person who touched it rather sharply. This 
animal is a purple lump of fleshy substance, but 
would at once remind one of a hare, from having two 
thick feelers, which are scooped out, and very similar 
to the ears of that animal. It does not resemble the 
fleet creature, however, in its motion ; for, on looking 
down through the clear water of the rocky pool, we 


118 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


may see it slowly wending its way over the ground 
much as a slug would travel over a cabbage leaf. It 
eats the small sea-weeds. 

The periwinkle is too well known at our sea-side 
places to need any description. Though hanging to the 
rock, it does not fix itself firmly like the limpet ; but 
its light hold is often its means of safety, for no sooner 
do we touch it than it rolls down among the brown 
sea-weeds, so like itself in colour, that it often thus 
escapes us. At low water, the periwinkles may be seen 
as if they were crawling after the waves, anxious to 
regain their native element, moving on steadily, though 
slowly. The mollusk is sold in the markets as food, 
but little eaten in our land, save by children ; it is, 
however, very valuable to the poor of some countries. 

Several species of turbo have very ornamental shells ; 
but there is hardly any British shell more beautiful in 
colour than the little oblong kind, called the childish 
phasianella, ( Phasianella pullus ,) spotted and waved, 
as its highly polished surface is, with purplish red, 
crimson, chocolate, and brown, on a whitish ground. 
It is plentiful on many parts of our coast, but not so 
on those of the north and east of Britain. 

Eew shells are more similar to those of our land- 
snails in form than is the pretty glossy brown species, 
called the sea-snail, ( JSFatica monolifera.') It is very 
abundant on our sandy shores. 

The false- wentletrap, ( Scalaria pretiosa ,) a very long 
spiral shell, of a whitish colour, and thickly ribbed, is 
another frequent species. Then there are parasitic 
shell-fish, which infest living animals. One of these, 
the sty lifer, is among mollusks what the ichneumon is 
among insects ; dwelling within the fleshy substance 
of the star-fish, almost hidden from sight, but, like the 
parasitic insect, avoiding the vital parts of its victim. 
It is never found except in the rays, and it looks like 
a little glass bubble. 

But as the thoughts revert to bygone rambles on the 
shore, many shells which we have found there recur to 


THE BEACH. 


119 


mind, but must be left undescribed. Most of tbe com- 
mon and remarkable species are here mentioned, yet 
we feel as Spencer did, when of old he said — 

“ Oh, what an endless work have I in hand, 

To count the sea’s abundant progeny ! 

Whose fruitfulle seede far passeth those on land, 

And also those which wonne in the azure sky !” 

Some of the eggs of the mollusks frequently attract 
our attention on the shore, and often puzzle those un- 
acquainted with them. There are those of the sea- 
snail, looking much like pieces of dried biscuit ; and 
the rock-oyster is sometimes covered with crowds of 
little straw-coloured vase-like objects, which are the 



SPAWN OF PURPURA CAPILLUS. 

eggs of the dog-whelk. Many shell-bearing mollusks 
place their eggs in a nidus, something like a sponge, 
where the young remain for a time. Some hide them 
in holes in the rocks ; some fasten them to sea-weeds ; 
but to all the Great Creator has appointed some safe 
means of depositing them. 

One of the most remarkable clusters of eggs is that 
of the common cuttle-fish, (Sepia officinalis?) Lying on 
many sandy shores we may find during the summer an 
object which looks like a bunch of purple grapes. If 


120 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


we examine it we see that the covering of these grapes 
is tough and leathery. Within is a quantity of white 
slime ; or perhaps the young cuttle-fish, just ready to 
emerge from it, with eyes much larger in proportion 
than they are when it is fully grown, lies within the 
egg. Perchance, on looking further, we may find the 
grown cuttle-fish itself, or we may find its bone in the 
shape of a white oblong substance, composed of layers. 
We all know this substance, because the white layers 
are reduced to powder for pounce, or given to caged 
birds, to supply the absence of such particles of lime 
or flint as they would swallow when in their wild state. 
The animal itself is about a foot long, of a fleshy 
nature, white, and with very large eyes. Like all the 
sepia tribe, its head is surrounded with numerous 
arms, or tentacles, covered with suckers. It walks 
with the head downwards, and by means of these 
flexible limbs it can either swim or crawl, the suckers 
acting like cupping-glasses, and enabling it to hold 
with great tenacity. The long, white, bony substance 
is its internal framework ; and we find it on our shores 
much more frequently than the cuttle-fish itself ; for 
though the storm brings the animal there occasionally, 
yet it is more often procured by the dredge, as its 
home is in the deeper waters. It is not possible to 
keep it long alive in a vessel of salt water, nor is it a 
pleasing animal to look at ; its large eyes and parrot- 
like beak indicating that it possesses the fierce nature 
which characterizes all the species. 

The cuttle-fishes were described, by the old writers, 
as very cunning animals; and though the accounts 
were exaggerated, yet they certainly seem no way de- 
ficient in art. Darwin, in his “ Journal of Researches,” 
says : “ I was much amused by the various arts to 
escape detection used by one individual which seemed 
fully aware that I was watching it. Remaining for 
some time motionless, it would then stealthily advance 
an inch or two, like a cat after a mouse ; sometimes 
changing its colour. It thus proceeded, till having 


THE BEACH. 


121 


gained a deeper part, it darted away, leaving its dusky 
train of ink to hide the hole into which it had crawled.” 

“ While looking for marine animals, with my head 
about two feet above the rocky shore, I was more than 
once saluted by a jet of water, accompanied by a 
slightly grating noise. At first I could not think what 
it was, but afterwards I found that it was this cuttle- 
fish, which, though concealed in a hole, thus often led 
me to its discovery. That it possesses the power of 
ejecting water there is no doubt, and it appeared to me 
that it could take good aim, by directing the tube or 
siphon on the under side of its body. From the diffi- 
culty which these animals have of carrying their heads, 
they cannot crawl with ease when placed on the ground. 
I observed that one which I kept in the cabin was 
slightly phosphorescent in the dark.” 

The inky fluid which some of the species can eject 
into the water, was once thought to be the material of 
which the Indian ink was composed; but this is 
doubtful, though several kinds, like our common cuttle- 
fish, yield a brown pigment, used by artists, and well 
known as sepia. Unpleasing as is their appearance, 
they are in some countries much prized as food, while 
they are of great value to fishermen as bait. 

The poulpe or preke, (Octopus vulgaris ,) which is 
very nearly allied to the common cuttle-fish, is a 
much more unpleasing looking animal, with long 
limbs around its head, which it twirls about in every 
direction. If we put our hand within their reach, we 
are made conscious of the touch by a tingling sensation, 
and a redness on the skin. They are thought to eat 
many crabs and oysters, and the fishermen, who believe 
that they frighten away those which they do not kill, 
have a great enmity to these poulpes. Pliny, who 
relates great marvels of their cunning, tells us that 
they place a little stone between the valves of an oyster, 
and thus suck it out ; adding, “ Such is the wonderful 
intelligence of animals even the most stupid !” But it 
would seem that the oysters of modern days have 


122 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


grown wiser, or the cuttle-fish cannot so cleverly 
deposit the stones, for no one ever finds them now 
wedging the shell-fish in his own dwelling. 



OCTOPUS VULGARIS. 


We have not in onr seas any animals which can 
properly he called monsters of the deep ; hut we know 
of none which might have so good a claim to this 
character, not only hy fierceness and voracity, but by 
repulsive appearances, as the poulpe. Yet our British 
species is very inferior, both in size and in terrific 
power, to the octopi of other seas. Among the islands 
of the Meia-co-shimah group, Sir Edward Belcher saw 
one of these creatures, which some men were carrying 
on a pole, and which he measured. He found that 
each arm was two feet in length, thus enabling the 
animal to reach over an area of more than twelve feet 
in circumference. He saw also both these octopi, and 
some of the sepia tribe, walking about so quickly, that 
it seemed almost impossible to secure them. They 
might be seen down in the clear waters, darting about 
from side to side, or holding so tightly to the stones 
and large sea-roots, by means of their suckers, that it 
required the greatest force to detach them : even when 
caught and thrown up on the sandy shore, they 
shuffled along quickly over the ground, extending their 


THE BEACH. 


123 


long arms, and throwing out sudden streams of ink, 
staring about fiercely all the time with their large 
glaring eyes. At night these eyes are luminous, and 
then the creature has a still more menacing aspect as 
it turns them round and round. 

The ancients, whose love of the marvellous is always 
evident when they speak of objects of natural history, 
related how some of these octopi climbed trees and 
palisades, and could only be resisted by the united 
efforts of dogs and men. They prized their flesh 
highly, and great numbers of octopi are still consumed 
in the isles of Greece by sailors ; but the flesh is 
beaten with sticks for more than half an hour previously 
to cooking it. 

A less indigestible food is yielded by the flesh of the 
sea-leaf or calamary, ( Loligo vulgaris;') but this, though 
used in Greece, is insipid, and is not eaten in our land. 
The animal is often found on our shore, as it lives in 
the sea at a little distance from it, and it is something 
like the cuttle-fish in substance, but narrower in form. 
It swims in the sea with great rapidity. The word 
calamary is derived from calamarium , which, in low 
Latinity, signifies a portable writing-desk, with ink, 
pens, and a penknife. This was given because the 
form of its body is not unlike an escritoire of this kind, 
and the long cartilaginous lance in its back, and the 
fluid which it ejects, are the pen and ink. The eggs 
are in an oval mass, first of a yellowish colour, and 
finally dark blue. A zoologist who once counted a 
cluster of them, found it to contain 39,760 eggs. 




HASTINGS. 


CHAPTER V. 

SAND AND SAND-RIPPLES, PLANTS OF SANDS AND 
MARSHES, STAR-FISHES, SEA-URCHINS, SEA-JELLIES, 
PHOSPHORESCENCE OF THE SEA. 

How often we have been struck with the love which 
all classes and all ages appear to entertain for the sea- 
side ! The robust and the sickly, the rich and poor, 
the child and the old man, all seem to meet before the 
ocean strand as friends and equals ; all seem to drink 
in deep draughts of enjoyment which the sea, the dear 
old ocean of our love, is calculated to inspire. How 
quickly, how kindly, an acquaintance is made there — 


THE BEACH. 


125 


an acquaintance sometimes ripening into a lasting 
friendship ! How gently intrusive are our attempts at 
conversation deemed — if indeed they are characterized 
as intrusive at all — the great ocean rolling placidly 
before us, the sea-bird skimming its clear surface, the 
smooth stones of the beach shining with light beneath 
the little wavelets, and glittering with the sunlit spray 
which the friendly rippling intruders sprinkle on them 
so prettily ; the towering cliff behind us, the shipping, 
the fishermen engaged at their pleasant toil, all cast a 
spell upon us, all entrance our feelings; and while 
they help us to good humour, tend, too, to weaken the 
formalities and conventionalities of society, and make 
us feel for a time free and gladsome as the winds and 
waters. Our dispositions become more genial, our 
thoughts more elevated ; and to the Christian, while 
reflecting on the wondrous works of Grod which lie 
hidden in the deep sea, the remembrance is present 
that Grod is not only the Creator, but the Father of all ; 
that not one of the group assembling here is uninterest- 
ing to him ; that the humblest there is one for whom 
the Saviour died. And as purer and holier thoughts 
come crowding on the mind, the Christian heart beats 
responsive to them, and the hand, perhaps hitherto 
kept bound to a cold breast, is held forth to clasp 
warmly that of another, or to give the little succour 
which the sick or the friendless may require, or the 
word of sympathy or of gentle remonstrance is uttered 
to any who may need it. Well! give me these 
moments — some of the happiest, perhaps some of the 
best of our existence, for it is here, at this place and 
hour, that the child of Grod is often stimulated, under 
the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to fulfil the behest of 
Him who bade us love our neighbour as ourselves ; and 
it is here that, amidst the grand and beautiful of Grod’s 
works, he is fulfilling the command to love his fellow- 
creatures, because he has learned to love Grod. 

How smooth is that broad ridge of sand, and how 
does its smoothness enable the invalid to walk over its 


126 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


length, and yet return untired. Now we come upon a 
portion over which the waves have passed, and the sand 
is rippled too, for they have left their markings there. 
Who can tell whether the sand-ripples of to-day may 
not unfold to men of future ages some of those truths 
which the ripples of bygone years reveal to us ? Many 
an undulating ripple has left its traces on' the surface 
of some of our marine stratified rocks, and the geologist 
finds them still preserving their pristine form. He 
walks with eye intent on the sandy margin of the sea 
now, and sees that these small ripples leave their mark 
on the sand at only a small depth, while larger waves 
impress it more deeply. Then when he finds the ripple 
mark on the sandstone or other rock but slightly 
raised, he readily infers that these deposits were formed 
when the shallow waters alone washed over them. 
Again, when, as is often the case, they are seen to be 
covered by deposits of hundreds or thousands of feet in 
thickness, here is clear evidence that on that spot the 
ancient sea-shore underwent a great lowering, or the 
level of ocean a great rise, since those buried ripple 
marks were impressed by the waves on the sand. And 
thus, by careful investigation of these tide traces, he 
can infer the depth and other circumstances of the 
water which made them ; and learn how by a gradual 
depression the base of that sea was lowered, in relation 
to the ocean level, hundreds, perhaps thousands of 
feet, so as to admit of the successive accumulation of 
new sediments, contain i ng the remains of new races of 
marine animals and land plants. 

High up from the shore we have, on some parts of 
our coast, sand-hills, or levels of a wide extent, and 
though, in some measure, they are held down by the 
roots of plants, yet on a windy day clouds of light 
sand come sweeping into our faces, and almost blind 
us. How well can we remember, when a little party 
of friends landed on such a shore to search for shells, 
how the sand swept upon us so unexpectedly that all 
the refreshment brought for the day was at once spoiled. 


THE BEACH. 


127 


Happily, all there had light hearts and good tempers, 
and the loss of the dinner did not check the enthusiastic 
pursuit of marine curiosities. But this is little com- 
pared to the occasional drifting of these sand-hills. In 
the county of Norfolk, as well as on others of our shores, 
the sand would overwhelm the neighbouring soil, were 
not the sea-lyme grass, (. Elymus arenarius ,) and the sea- 
reed, {Ammophila arundinacea ,) planted to keep it firm 
by their long roots. On many parts of our coast these 
plants, especially the sea-reed, grow wild, establishing 
themselves on the loose soil, and gradually disappearing 
as that soil becomes consolidated; and it is a great 
relief to the eye, tired with looking on the wide expanse 
of sand, to repose itself on the waves which are made 
by the wind-swept grasses. Many a flower of the sandy 
shore springs up among them, and there the great sharp 
sea-rush, ( Juncus acutus ,) the noblest of its species, and 
the sharpest too, rises in tufts or in solitary grandeur 
on the wide waste. Very beautiful are the polished 
chestnut capsules which cluster upon it ; and many 
an eager hand stretched forth to grasp them, has been 
drawn back as if pierced by a spear. 

A little further on, where the salt marsh meets the 
sand, the long flat leaves of the salt marsh club-rush 
(, Scirpus maritimus) are waving around its angular stem, 
while the creeping knobbed root below is helping to 
form a firmer soil. The owner of the marsh land who 
may wish to send his cattle for pasture, will not be 
pleased to find it there, because it occupies so much 
room ; but it is relished by the animals, and the roots 
themselves have been eaten by man in times of scarcity, 
when dried and ground into flour. The marsh has but 
a lonely appearance, though the little sea-milkwort, 
Newton’s knot-grass as it is sometimes called, (Glaux 
maritima ,) with its small pink clusters and thick leaves, 
grows among the grass. And the thrift nods to every 
passing wind ; and large patches of the different species 
of orache glisten as if coveredwith drops of ice, or redden 
into their summer hue. There is little that is bright 


128 A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

on the moist green sward — little to tempt us to try its 
dangerous footing, except the tall Michaelmas daisy, 
( Aster tripolium ;) the tripoly star, and blue daisy of 
older writers, which has lilac clusters of starry blossoms, 
and juicy pale-green leaves and stems. How it is that 
people who live near these marshes persuade themselves 
into the idea that it is the samphire, we know not ; yet 
as it is carried about in baskets for sale, it is probably 
pickled, and doubtless is quite innoxious, though of 
itself tasteless. The glasswort, ( Salicornia herbacea ,) 
growing in such quantities near it, with its juicy 
jointed stems so like a horn, is certainly better adapted 
for pickling ; while the soda which its ashes yield made 
it valuable in former times to the glass manufacturer. 
The white flowers of the scurvy grass ( Cockle aria 
officinalis) grow on the muddy shore below, and their 
pale, pointed, green, juicy leaves are gathered there to 
make some vegetable drink for the invalid. 

But we will leave the marshes, and go down nearer 
to the ever musical, ever beautiful sea, and there we 
shall find flowers too, though not in great abundance ; 
flowers which we can find on the sea-sand only. Such 
is the sea-holly, (JEryngium maritimum ,) with its large 
veined prickly leaf, so like that of the shrub whence 
it has its name, that any one may know it. It has a 
compact head of blue flowers, which might remind one . 
of a small teasel. Glerarde said of its roots, that they 
were “ good for such as are bitten of any wild beast 
the young shoots are eaten as asparagus. 

The pretty sea-side convolvulus ( Convolvulus solda- 
nella) is one of the loveliest flowers of the sand, and, 
though not to be found on all parts of our coast, is 
very plentiful on some. On the sand-hills of Swansea 
it is very abundant, and a friend of the author’s wrote 
some lines on the flowers there : — 

All before me stretcheth ocean, 

All behind me, yet not near, 

Swelling hills that seem in motion 
When thick fogs begin to clear : 

July sunbeams smile before. 


THE BEACH. 


129 


But among these sands of Swansea 
Few the pleasant flowers I find, 
Wild horse-radish, wormwood, pansy, 
Bent-grass rustling in the wind ; 
And the pretty pink convolvulus, 
That scenteth all the shore. 



CONVOLVULUS SOLDANELLA. ( Sea Convolvulus.) 

Some very beautiful plants of this flower flourish on 
the Scottish shores ; and one of the finest specimens 
which the author ever saw was gathered near the 
Cave of Borrowdale, in the Hebrides, remarkable for 
having, on one occasion, sheltered prince Charles 
Stuart. The flower is of a purplish pink, with yellow 
plaits. 

Growing there on the sandy mound afar from the 
waves, is that little thorny shrub called the sallow 
thorn, or sea-buckthorn, ( Hvppophae rhamnoides ,) with 
narrow leaves, which, as the wind blows, “turn up 
their silver lining to the light,” and which are far 
more conspicuous than its minute flowers. The 
autumnal fruits, with their orange tint, are not only 
K 


130 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


lovely to look upon, but pleasant to taste, though rather 
acid. A yellow dye abounds in the whole plant. 

Then, on some of the shores of Cornwall and 
Dorsetshire, we may gather some few plants of wild 
asparagus ; the sparrow-grass, as even learned writers 
called it a few centuries ago. The conspicuous though 
dull white flowers of the mountain garlic ( Allium 
carinatum) also are to be found on sea-sands, sending 
their unpleasant odour on the dews and zephyrs. 
Old writers said that no plant would flourish near it. 
It is of little use to us, but the Kamschatdales gather 
and store it for winter use. 

More common than this, and assuredly more wel- 
come to the rambler on the sands, is the sweet odour 
of the little burnet-rose. ( Rosa spinosissima ,) and all 
are glad to see its dark green spray of small leaflets, 
and to gather its cream-coloured flowers, spite of the 
immense number of prickles which guard them by 
crowding every stem and branch. On the road 
between Swansea and the Mumbles this rose covers 
the sands for more than two miles, and literally 
perfumes the air. Who does not love the rose ? Who 
can wonder that the ancients chose it to deck the 
tomb of the departed friend, though we may not enter 
into the notion of one of the classic poets, “ This is 
the amulet whereby no ills their tomb molest.” “ The 
rose,” says a learned writer, “ is the essential part of 
all the ornaments of the earlier Christian architecture ; 
even the shape of the windows, doors, and towers may 
be traced to it, as well as the accompanying decorations 
of flowers and leaves.” Another kind of rose, called 
the dwarf-fruited rose, ( Rosa rubella ,) sometimes 
shares with the burnet-leaved species the maritime 
sands ; and patches of the sea-side pimpernel ( Arenaria 
peploides ) are often conspicuous there, by their rich 
green, juicy leaves, though the small white flowers 
closing early in the day are little seen among the mass. 

But the tide has left behind it large stores of living 
things, some of which are hurrying onwards or creep- 


THE BEACH. 


131 


ing slowly to regain tlie sea. Many of the common 
star-fishes are wonderfully constructed, and any one 
who wishes to be acquainted with them should read 
the work of Professor Forbes on the subject. To the 
geologist this tribe of animals is remarkably interest- 
ing, because the stalked star-fishes, crinoidese, were 
in long past years among the most numerous of the 
inhabitants of the seas. “ So numerous,” says this 
learned writer, “that the remains of their skeletons 
constitute great tracts of the dry land as it now appears. 
For miles and miles we may walk over the stony 
fragments of the crinoidese — fragments which were 
once built up in animated forms, encased in living 
flesh, and obeying the will of creatures among the 
loveliest of the inhabitants of the ocean. Even in 
their present disjointed and petrified state, they excite 
the admiration, not only of the naturalist, but of the 
common gazer ; and the name of stone-lily, popularly 
applied to them, indicates a popular appreciation of 
their beauty.” These lily stars, these graceful waving 
creatures, which in all probability passed their lives 
fixed to one spot by their stems, in the depths of the 
ocean, are now almost gone. But two kinds of these 
beautiful animals are known to exist in modern seas, 
and even these, so far as the present knowledge extends, 
are only affixed to the stem at an early period of life, 
acquiring afterwards their freedom. He, therefore, 
who would see the old form in its exactness, must 
look at the stone-lily, the beautiful encrinite which the 
geologist places in his museum, from the encrinite 
marble of Derbyshire or of similar districts. 

Over the seas where these graceful animals lived 
and died, man has come to dwell, and the castle and 
cathedral spire rise beside the cottage home ; or the 
mansion, and waving fields, and green meads, and em- 
bowering woods catch the gleams of sunshine, or the 
shadows of the clouds. But star-fishes dwell in our 
seas, which were in the earliest periods of life affixed 
to stalks, though they w*ere not known to be so attached 


132 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


until the year 1823. The rosy feather-star ( Comatula 
rosacea) is a small animal, having live arms or rays, 
which being double, look like ten. It is of a deep 
rose colour, dotted with brown, and is about three- 
fourths of an inch in height, its stalk being pentangular. 



COMATULA KOSACEA. 

The discovery of this animal was made by Mr. J. V. 
Thompson, and zoologists of all nations were greatly 
interested about it. It was taken in the Cove of 
Cork, attached to the stems of some zoophytes. The 
young star-fishes waving on their stalks, have since 
been found on sea-weeds in great numbers. They are 
active little creatures, even in their fixed condition, 
and when older are able to swim with great freedom. 
When a newly caught feather-star is put into fresh 
water, it usually contracts and dies, and if not killed 
thus, or by the application of spirits, it breaks itself 
into pieces and dies, giving out, in its last moments, a 
rich purple colour, which tinges the water. 

Although this beautiful animal abounds among the 
sea- weeds of rocky places, and may be procured by 
dredging, yet it is not always to be seen by those who 


THE BEACH. 


133 


stray along our shores. Not so, however, is it with 
some of the common star-fishes, which we may find 
almost anywhere, and at any time, thrown on the 
beach, or moving about in the shallow pools with great 
rapidity. In many places, especially on the eastern 
coasts of England, numbers of the common brittle 
star-fish ( Ophiocoma rosula) are twisting their long, 
slender arms incessantly; and though we feel little 
inclination to touch them, because of the strange con- 
tortions of their limbs, yet the colours of some of 
them are very beautiful, the disk being of white or dull 
rose colour, marked sometimes with a red or yellow 
star. Should we overcome our dislike to its strange 
attitudes, and take it up to look at it, one arm after 
another separates itself, and we find ourselves holding 
nothing but the disk around which they grew. 

All the brittle stars have these threatening actions, 
and this strange power of breaking themselves up. Of 
the more slender and rare species, called the thread- 
rayed brittle-star, Professor Eorbes relates, that when 
dredging in the Bay of Eothsay, he found at first one 
of the thread-like arms of the animal, winding in the 
mud. “ Arm after arm,” says this writer, “ occurred, 
but no body ; at length the skeleton of a body was 
found, and when I had begun almost to despair of 
finding anything like a disk, an almost perfect specimen 
occurred. A few days after, dredging in similar 
ground in the Gair Loch opposite Greenock, I was 
astonished by the sight of masses of interlacing arms 
of the same animal, as large as a man’s fist, coming 
up in the dredge. They were all alive and twisting 
in every direction ; yet strange to say, there were no 
more than seven or eight disks secured.” In this 
case the arms being so easily separated, had been 
broken away by the dredge. Another species had 
arms so thread-like and fragile, that the only perfect 
specimens were such as had been dried in a heap of 
sand, as it was impossible to kill them without break- 
ing them into innumerable fragments. 


184 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


But we must not dwell upon rare species. Common 
ones lie on the shores, and deserve our notice by their 
remarkable structure. The common star-fish, or 
cross-fish, or five-fingered Jack, (Ur aster rubens ,) is 
known to all who visit the sea occasionally. It is 
yellow or orange, or perhaps of deeper red or purple, 
and its skin is tough and leathery; a full-grown 
specimen being often about nine inches across, and its 
rays five or six in number, tapering to a point. The 



mouth is on the under surface of the body, and a deep 
groove runs from it, along each arm, to the point. 
In these grooves are a number of suckers, which are 
capable of adhering even to the smoothest surfaces, 
and by means of which the animal can walk with 
great facility. The star-fish should be kept for a 
while in a vessel of salt water, if we would observe its 
remarkable structure, and the manner in which its 
hundreds of little feet can work. Any one who 
should look at them, and see them coiling and feeling 
about would think they were numerous worms, each 
independent of the other. Touch one of these suckers, 



THE BEACH. 


135 


and immediately several around it draw themselves 
in, changing from a little stalk-like organ to a small 
knob of flesh. This cross-fish is so abundant on some 
shores as to serve the purpose of manure, and while 
living it clears the shore and the sea of various 
decomposing matters, eating an immense quantity of 
food, and holding it down with its suckers. It is 
supposed by the fishermen to be destructive to the 
oyster fisheries by insinuating itself between the valves 
of the oyster-shell, and swallowing the animal ; so the 
fishermen of Newhaven tear these star-fishes open, 
when they come up in the net, before returning them 
to the sea. On almost all parts of our shores the people 
have a superstitious dread of some or other of the star- 
fishes, and dislike to touch them. With the notion 
common among the superstitious, they think that several 
srrange-looking creatures are in some alliance with the 
great enemy of man. Dr. Drummond, while drying 
specimens of these star-fishes in his garden at Bangor, 
heard children saying on the other side of the hedge, 
“ What’s the gentleman doing with thebad man’s hands P 
Is he ganging to eat the bad man’s hands, do ye think ?” 

Yoracious creatures as the star-fishes are, none 
seems more so than another common species called the 
sun-star, and in former days termed the sun-fish, 
(/S 'olaster papjposa.) This being a native of deeper 
seas than the cross-fish, is not so general, though 
sometimes after a rough wind numbers are thrown on 
the shore ; and if we go down to see the fisherman 
empty his nets, we shall often observe this among the 
living things which he rejects. Its name will serve 
well to characterize it, for surrounded by its rays, 
twelve or thirteen in number, and bright in its hues of 
yellow, and especially of red, it is not unlike those 
representations of the sun which beam from the sign- 
boards of the inn, or which adorn the children’s books 
of older times. It is sometimes, however, of purplish 
hue. Like all the species, it furnishes food for fishes 
and other marine animals. 


136 


A BOOK FOB THE SEA-SIDE 


Then there are cushion-stars, and bird’s-foot-stars, 
and sand-stars, which last have long worm-like arms, 
ever twisting and twirling. These prefer sandy places, 
though certainly not for the reason assigned by 
Reaumur, that they are too frail to encounter the 
rough edges of rocks; for, as Professor Forbes remarks, 
had he only walked along the sea-shore he would have 
seen plenty of the far more delicate brittle stars, 
moving in the midst of rocks with perfect safety. It 



OPHIURA TEXTURATA. 


is quite amusing to watch a number of the common 
sand-stars, ( OpJtiura texturata ,) which the receding 
tide has left behind. They sometimes seem as if 
seized with a unanimous desire to overtake the wave. 
On they go, never interfering with each other’s pro- 
gress, but the points of their arms touching each other, 
so as to make a good representation of a piece of what 
ladies term crochet work. They will find their way 
into the sea too, if no one hinders them, now and then 
leaving behind them an arm, which in coiling about 
probably came in the way of a stone, or became 
entangled in a mass of sea-weeds. 


THE BEACH. 


137 


One of the most elegant of our star-fishes, the 
butt-horn, ( Asteria aurantiaca ,) is said by Mr. Eean 
to owe its name to an odd notion of the fishermen. 
The first star-fish of the species which the Cornish 
fisherman takes, is carefully made a prisoner, and 
placed on the stern of the boat. When he hooks a 
halibut, which is here termed a hut, he immediately 
sets the poor star-fish at liberty ; but if the fishery is 
unsuccessful, he ignorantly attributes it to this animal, 
and it is left to perish far from its native element. 

There is a star-fish of a rare kind, which has arms so 
branched and curled in among each other, that the 
animal looks like a mass of entangling tendrils. This 
is called the Shetland argus, (Astrophyton scutatum ,) 
and it no sooner perceives its prey, than, stretching 
out these arms, it seizes them as in a net. So singular 
an animal has long been noticed ; and Bradley, in his 
Wonders of Nature, well remarks, “ So odd a creature 
as this is well worth the contemplation of such curious 
persons as live near the sea, where every day they have 
subjects enow to employ their curiosity, and improve 
their understanding.” 

The annexed engraving will represent to any one 
used to the shore, a crust or shell, which he has often 
seen rolling over the sand as the wind stirs the sea- 
weeds. It will be known 
at once as that of the 
common sea-egg or urchin 
(Echinus sphcera,) in the 
state in which we often 
find it on the shore, with 
all the spines rubbed off, 
or in which we frequently 
see similar species ex- 
tracted from the chalk or shell of globular echinus. 
other cliffs. This shell or box is of most curious 
construction, and its parts jointed together with such 
marvellous compactness, that the little ball can remain 
unbroken when tossed by winds and waves; while 



138 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


extinct species are found as perfect after ages have 
rolled away, as if they were made hut yesterday by the 
living urchin. 44 There are,” says Professor Porbes, 

4 4 above 300 plates of one kind, and nearly as many 
of another, all dove-tailed together with the greatest 
nicety, and regularly bearing on their surfaces above 
4000 spines, each spine perfect in itself, and of a com- 
plicated structure, and having a free movement in its 
socket.” Have we not here a remarkable evidence of 
the skill of the Great Creator, and shall not these 
calcareous crusts, which the rough wind drives before 
it, be to us like the stars on which our thought dwells 
at eventide, uttering some tidings of God, even though 
they have no speech, nor language, and though their 
voice is not heard ? 

The sea-eggs are little eaten in our country, though 
the larger kinds of other seas are often a valuable 
source of food, and many a mariner stranded on an 
inhospitable shore, has gladly fed on this and other 
species. It is eaten, too, by fishermen on some parts of 
our own coasts, and the roe, which is of an agreeable 
flavour, is esteemed a great delicacy in the southern 
countries of Europe. The animal within has a no less 
beautiful structure than the shell ; nay, its structure is 
higher, for it is endowed too with the mysterious prin- 
ciple of life. Without entering into minute anatomical 
details, we will notice such only as are obvious to every 
one who picks up a sea-egg, and looks at the animal 
and its crust. There is a little aperture at the top of 
the shell, and without any microscope we may see 
around it the five teeth which belong to a most minute 
and complicated dental apparatus. Placing the animal 
in water, and taking care not to frighten it, we may 
offer it a piece of coralline. The teeth soon fasten on 
this with so tight a hold, that we may swing the .sea- 
egg backwards and forwards, and unless our coralline 
snap with the weight, the animal will hold on thus 
for an hour, and at length, if we will permit it to do 
so, will nibble it with great contentment. Then that 


THE BEACH. 


189 


little urchin, encased in its sphere, is no bad walker, 
and it can not only travel along the bottom of the pool, 
but can clamber the sides of the rugged rocky preci- 
pices, and anchor itself at will. Even the smooth sides 
of a glass vessel form no hindrance to its progress. 
Hundreds of spines, all jointed on to the animal within 
are put in motion as it walks ; and besides these, an 
iipmense number of little suckers or feet, just like 
those of the common star-fish, come through the pores 
and aid in the progress. 1ST o wonder that with 4,000 
spines, and more than 1,800 suckers, our little urchin 
can wander over the rocks, devouring as it goes the 
tiny corallines, with all the little polypes which their 
cells contain ; or can hold on tightly with teeth and 
suckers, when it chooses to be still, and to lie in wait 
till the crab, with sideways motion, comes near, and is 
seized by its suckers, or till the fish, gliding on in the 
tranquil water, is pounced on and paralyzed by their 
touch, and being brought to the mouth and speedily 
digested, serves to allay the appetite of the hungry 
creature. We have not been made conscious of any 
stinging power possessed by this species, but some sea- 
urchins of other shores are well known to have the 
power of giving severe pain by the touch of their 
suckers. Instances are recorded in which the sea- 
urchin has darted these spines into the hand, and left 
them there ; and those who have been thus wounded 
have found their presence as painful, and their removal 
as difficult, as if they had filled their hands with thorns 
by grasping a bramble. 

Do not imagine, if you find one of these sea-urchins 
clinging to a rock, that it will yield its hold to your 
slightest touch — you must use considerable effort to 
remove it. One of the species can actually bore its 
way into the rocks, making little circular cavities deep 
enough to hold more than two-thirds of the animal ; 
and in order to make itself more comfortable, or to 
gratify its taste, or perhaps to preserve its spines from 
injury, it lines the cavity with corallines. The purple- 


140 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


egg urchin, {Echinus lividus ,) which has long purple 
spines, has been seen thus occupying cliffs on the 
western coast of Ireland where the rock projected 
into the sea, so as to make the ledges accessible at low 
water, and which were never left entirely dry. These 
ledges were full of holes perforated by the animals, and 
thousands were lying, each one in a cavity fitted to its 
size, the little ones in small holes, and the full-grown 
echini in larger ones. Mr. W. Thompson, who saw a 
group of them, says that their purple spines and regular 
forms presented a most beautiful appearance, studding 
the pools which lay among the grey limestone rocks. 

Several other species may be found in abundance 
about our coast ; there is the green pea-urchin, whose 
spines, when the animal is living, are of green and 
gold, very frequent among shell-sand ; and the pretty 
little purple-tipped sea-urchin, which seems to like the 
company of oysters and scallops, and is often dredged 
up with them, or cast ashore by the waves. 

The piper, a large and singular species, is the most 
elegant of all, but it is rare, and apparently confined 
to the Zetland seas. In museums in sea-coast towns, 
we occasionally see it with thick spines, sometimes an 
inch and a half long, which the fishermen compare to 
the drones of a bagpipe, and it is also called king of the 
sea-eggs. 

But besides the globular sea-eggs, there are some 
termed head-urchins, and some flattened species termed 
pancake-urchins, which, when the spines are rubbed 
away, are seen to have their calcareous shells deeply 
indented with a star. The same form is also observable 
on the fiddle-urchins, which have this familiar name 
because of their form, which resembles that of the 
musical instrument. One of the head-urchins, called 
the mermaid’s head, is very common on our coast, 
burrowing for food and protection in the damp sand. 

It is surely an encouragement to us to love and 
cultivate in our own minds a sense of the beautiful, 
when we see that beauty marks the works of the Great 


THE BEACH. 


141 


Creator. He has made everything beautiful in its 
season. JSTot a moment can he spent on the shore 
without perceiving it. There are those jelly-fishes, 
dancing in the sunny waters. Has mortal man, even 
the most gifted, ever made forms, or colours, or mo- 
tions, which could at all compare with them F They lie 
among those curling waves, pure as crystal, reflecting, as 
a soap bubble might do, every brilliant hue of light. W e 
see them there in numbers ; but only those who have 
examined that world of waters before us can form any 
conception of the multitudes which are never in their 
individual forms seen by human eye. There they sail, 
beheld only by Him who created them. The larger 
living creatures of the waves find their food in their 
innumerable multitudes, and though we see them not 
individually, they yet in their numbers lend their light 
at night to the brilliant phosphorescence of the sea, a 
phosphorescence charming with its beauty those who 
frequent our shores. The moon shines out on the still 
waters, and the gentle ripple of the wave, and the faint 
sound of the plashing oar, perhaps the song of the sailor 
boy, bid us linger. Wherever that gentle wave falls, 
wherever that oar breaks the water, there myriads of 
little lights come sparkling up, or a line of green and 
silvery light seems left in the wake of the boat. 

A still brighter light invests the seas of the tropics, 
which are 

“ Spangled with phosphoric power, 

As though the lightnings there had spent their shafts, 

And left the fragments glittering in the field.” 

When we think how many marine animals, both 
living and dead, are made to emit this phosphorescent 
light, we are almost ready to believe that the depths 
below must have a light as clear as that we enjoy who 
owe our light to the sun. Various crabs, cuttle-fish, 
shell-fish, nereides, star-fish, zoophytes, and others 
whose names are unknown to any but zoologists, aid 
with jelly-fishes, and innumerable little gelatinous 


142 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


worms, in giving light, while we know that fishes just 
dead also emit phosphorescence. The knowledge of 
this latter fact is practically serviceable, sometimes, to 
people near the sea ; and the writer knew a body of 
workmen who always hung dead fish in a dark passage 
through which they had occasionally to pass, that 
their gleaming lamp might direct them. 

But though larger animals diffuse their light in the 
depths, yet that portion which reaches ns is doubtless 
chiefly caused by microscopic jelly-fishes and infusoria. 
Dr. Poeppig,in his recent voyage to Chili, thus describes 
some of the animals which cause the phosphorescence 
of the sea. Erom the topmast the sea appeared, as far 
as the eye could reach, to be of a dark red colour, and 
this in a streak the breadth of which was estimated at 
six English miles. “ As we sailed slowly along,” ob- 
serves this writer, “ we found that the colour changed 
into brilliant purple, so that even the foam which is 
seen at the stern of a ship under sail was of a rose 
colour. The sight was very striking, because this pur- 
ple streak was marked by a very distinct line from the 
blue waters of the sea, a circumstance which we the 
more easily observed, because our course lay directly 
through the midst of this streak, which extended from 
south-east to north-west. The water taken up in a 
bucket appeared indeed quite transparent ; but a faint 
tinge of purple was perceptible when a few drops were 
placed in a piece of white china in the sunshine. A 
moderate magnifying glass showed that these little 
red dots, which only with great attention could be 
discerned by the naked eye, consisted of infusoria 
which were of a spherical form, entirely destitute of 
external organs of motion.” This writer calculates that 
the space covered with the colour was about one 
hundred and sixty-eight square miles ; and as these 
animals may have been equally distributed in the upper 
stratum of water, their numbers must infinitely sur- 
pass all that human calculations can measure. 

Some of our writers who have given most attention 


THE BEACH. 


143 


to the subject, agree with Dr. Baird in thinking that a 
luminous property is given to all the marine animal- 
cules, and that the little creatures of various tribes, 
each no larger than a grain of sand, possess this faculty 
as a defence, and also as a means of procuring their 
food in the deep and fathomless waters. That the 
medusae, or sea-jellies, give out light has been proved 
beyond all dispute. Several of the hemispherical species 
were put in a spoon with a small quantity of sea- water, 
and held over a burning candle. As soon as the water 
was hot they appeared like burning wheels, the spots 
at the margins and centres alone emitting light, in 
which manner they shone uninterruptedly and vividly 
for about twenty seconds, when they shrank and died, 
losing their luminousness with their lives. Various 
other experiments proved that these minute animals, 
like the polypes in the coralline, emit the light chiefly 
under irritation. 

Sailors, who row us in the boat by the shore to look 
at this phosphorescence, tell how such sights have, in 
other days, foretold of storms ; but many a billow 
rages, and many a wild wind utters its solemn chant, 
which were never foretold by this light on the wave. 
So far from this, Dr. Baird observed, that these little 
animals, with quick perception of the coming storm, 
take refuge from the agitation of the sea in its stiller 
depths. From long observation this gentleman believes 
that the phosphorescence is more brilliant, and more 
generally diffused over the surface of the water, imme- 
diately before or during a light rain ; and when, as it 
does occasionally happen, the sea is particularly lumi- 
nous in bad weather, it is produced by the larger jelly- 
fish, and not by these minute creatures. 

The study of these medusae is very difficult, because 
of their extreme delicacy, and in most cases it is 
impossible to preserve them. Until recently a few 
fragmentary accounts of them was all that could be 
procured, and even yet much remains to be learned. 
To Professor Porbes, all who would study the marine 


144 


A BOOK EOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


animals are much indebted. Tew, like that great 
zoologist, will, from among other labours, bestow so 
much time in observing them ; few have his extent of 
knowledge and power of description, and still fewer 
that patient and persevering determination by which 
alone the minute can be seen and understood. The 
form of the greater number of jelly-fish is that of an 
umbrella, more or less convex, and in some cases more 
like those round glass-shades which are placed as a 
protection over statuettes. The margin is usually a 
little raised, and is provided with numerous feelers, 
the bases of which are like little knobs, often of a deep 
colour, or marked with a brilliant spot ; while other 
jelly-like organs of variable form and dimensions 
depend from the centre, at the extremity of which is 
the mouth leading to the stomach beyond. 

A beautiful little species, common around the Isle 
of "Wight, and gleaming there like a scarlet berry, is 
described in so simple and interesting a manner by Dr. 
J. P. Davis, that we will quote it for our reader from 
Professor Porbes’s monograph on the naked-eyed me- 
dusae. This species is called the scarlet cyanea, ( Cyanea 
coccinea.') “ Having been discovered,” says the doctor, 
“ by Mrs. Davis, who had likewise the best opportunity 
of watching its motions during several weeks that she 
kept it in a glass of sea- water at Tenby, and afterwards 
here, (Bath,) whither it was conveyed in a phial of the 
same, and lived three weeks after its arrival ; I will 
state the history of this thing of life and light in her 
own words : — ‘ One morning while pouring some sea- 
water into the vessel containing the sea-anemones, I 
observed two small objects, which I took for the 
young of these animals, and as quickly as possible 
raised them in a spoon out of the basin, and placed 
them in a tumbler of clear sea-water. They resembled 
tiny bell-glasses ; four transverse rays were perceptible 
on their sides, and a minute red body with four white 
arms forming a cross was suspended in the water. 
Around the edge of the bell or disk appeared a delicate 


THE BEACH. 


145 


white fringe, which was lengthened or shortened at 
the pleasure of the animal. The contraction was some- 
times so great as to give the fringe the appearance 
of being knotted up to the edge of the bell or disk. 
It was highly interesting to watch their movements in 
the water as they ascended from the bottom, the bell 
or disk contracting and dilating alternately, until 
the animal arrived near the surface of the water. This 
motion was particularly conspicuous at the edge of the 
disk, and the fringe or tentacula became shortened as 
the animal rose in the water ; but when they descended 
again, the tentacula lengthened sometimes to a great 
degree, after which the animal sank gradually without 
any visible effort.’ This lady adds that after a fort- 
night one of her pets turned itself inside outwards and 
died, leaving, as all the jelly-fishes do, only a few 
particles of fibre; the other lived more than two 
months, and even bore a journey to Bath in a closed 
phial of sea-water, when it shrank and died, though 
without performing the feat of turning itself outwards.” 

Another very elegant little creature ( Oceania episco - 
polls) has been seen, with multitudes of its companions, 
on the great fishing-banks of the sea near the Zetland 
Isles, swimming close to the surface of the water, with 
a central portion of a rich mulberry colour hanging 
down from its crystal bell. Another is described by 
Dr. Landsborough ; and as so few of us have had the 
opportunity of examining these minute creatures, we 
do not hesitate in quoting the description from the 
learned work in which they occur. “ The transparent 
bell,” says this writer, “which rose above its body, was 
so very pellucid that it was a good while before I ob- 
served it at all. It rose to a considerable height above 
the buff-coloured body of the animal; and it was 
elegantly shaped, like the fine crystalline shades often 
placed over stuffed birds or artificial flowers, or mini- 
ature figures formed of pure alabaster — the finest 
crystal vase was clumsiness itself compared with it. 
It was as fine as the transparent soap-bubble blown out 

L 


146 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


of a pipe ; and we doubt not that, like this bubble, it 
would have been iridescent bad it been so placed as 
that the sun could have shone upon it. Delicate as 
its fabric was, the vigour of the little creature was very- 
remarkable, and has been well compared to the efforts 
of a strong swimmer, as it alternately contracted and 
expanded its pellucid organization. The margin of its 
mouth had a close fringe of brownish tentacula. By 
aid of the lens I could observe that they were drawn in 
when the body was contracted, but that at every stroke 
they were protruded like forked lightnings, or like 
feathered serpents, darting and flashing forth till they 
were longer than the body of the animal.” 

Such are the minute and exquisite creatures which 
contribute to the light upon the waves. Who can 
think of their number and their beauty without ex- 
claiming with one of old, “ Thy way is in the sea, and 
thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are 
not known?” 

W e may not linger among these interesting creatures, 
or stay to describe one like a little balloon, moored by 
fine silken cables, or another with black spots on the 
little knobs of its fringe, which are conspicuous as it 
glides in the water ; or of a third which wears such 
countless numbers of these dots, which are supposed 
to be organs of sight, that, as Professor Porbes says, 
“ Argus, the hundred-eyed, must yield to it.” There 
are species shaped like a Chinese hat. Many are 
delicately coloured with pink, purple, orange,, red, 
lilac, green, or blue ; while the species which is the 
most phosphorescent of all the British medusae, is 
nearly colourless, and is about an inch or an inch and 
a half in size. Zoologists term it Geryonia appen- 
diculata. 

Who would think that creatures delicate as air- 
bubbles could digest the well-coated crab or shrimp ? 
Yet beautiful little jellies, of about a quarter of an 
inch in length, can devour animals larger and more 
highly organized than themselves, seizing them and 


THE BEACH. 


147 


eating them with great eagerness and apparent enjoy- 
ment. An individual has often been observed to seize 
and swallow a jelly-fish quite as large as itself; and 
yet to look at them one would think them types of 
fragility and delicacy, and never believe that their food 
could be other than the animalcules which lie around 
them. It is not always, however, in the contest 
between the jelly-fish and the crustacean that the 
former is victorious. A friend of the writer’s once 
placed a beautiful medusa in a jar of sea-water, and 
having procured for its food some living shrimps, left 
it to its enjoyment. A few hours afterwards this 
naturalist went to look at his crystal friend, when, lo ! 
the shrimps had feasted on the jelly-fish, instead of 
the jelly-fish on the shrimps. 

Let not the reader think that these small medusae 
are inaccessible, and must be left altogether to the 
observations of the scientific. Some of them are very 
general, and in great plenty around our shores, and if, 
on a summer or autumn evening, he will take a little 
muslin bag attached to a metal ring, place it at the 
end of a stick, and sail slowly over the water, holding 
his net there, it will soon be filled with small jelly- 
fishes', some of which he may see without the aid of a 
microscope, while others may be carried home in a phial 
for closer observation. Let him not be disappointed, 
if when brought out of the water they seem to have 
lost all their beauty ; a few minutes’ gliding in a basin 
will restore it, although they will need the reflection 
of a bright sunshine or of a strong lamp to exhibit it 
vividly. 

But without giving ourselves any further trouble 
than to stoop down on the shore to pick up what the 
storms have brought, we may see some of the larger 
tribes of jelly-fishes. Blubber-fish, jelly-strangers, 
starch-fish, and other names are commonly given to 
them by the fishermen, and the name of sea-nettles, 

( Acalephce ,) though deserved by few, is given to 
them all. 


148 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


We do not wonder that any one who was ever stung 
by that common species, the hairy cyanea, ( Cyanea 
capillato ,) is rather careful how he touches a jelly-fish. 
We have sometimes felt its pricking, tingling touch 
during bathing, and borne a remembrance of it on the 
skin for an hour or two. Yet it is a lovely creature, 
marking its track through the water by a long tail of 
threads, while its flat mass of jelly flaps about very 
gracefully. It is these threads which form a fringe 
around the animal that have the stinging property, 
and which render it a true nettle ; nor is the stinging 
power less when they are cut off from the animal. 

Two other British species are considered by Professor 
Porbes to possess also stinging properties ; but though, 
as he says, he has endeavoured by various means of 
irritating other kinds to elicit “nettling proofs of 
rage,” and has rubbed hundreds of them together, 
and grasped them and stirred them, yet they were 
harmless. This naturalist thinks, however, that it 
may be found that, either at particular seasons, or under 
particular circumstances, other species may sting. He 
adds that Dicquemare has stated that some species of 
Oceania sting slightly only when they touch any sen- 
sitive part, as the eyes. Our author humorously 
remarks, “ that not being ambitious of suffering stone- 
blindness, he has not ventured to repeat the worthy 
abbe’s experiments, as he prefers keeping his eyes 
intact, to poking medusae into them.” 

There is a poor inoffensive jelly-fish which the wave 
brings to every part of our shore. Grentle reader, if it 
is swept to your feet, after you have well looked at it, 
throw it into the sea as far as you can, for it will soon, 
if away from its native element, shrivel to a few fibres : 
not all your skill will avail to preserve it alive, unless 
you have with you a vessel in which to plunge it at 
once. It is the golden aurelia, (. Aurelia aurita .) If 
you have walked by the sea in summer you must have 
seen it ; it is hemispherical in form, translucent, and 
of the colour of starch ; sometimes nearly a foot across, 


THE BEACH. 


149 


but more generally about tbe size of a tea-saucer. It 
is bordered by a close fringe of jelly-like tentacles, and 
has four purple crescents, which, though internal, shine 
through its clear substance, and render it in the water 
a very beautiful object. 

There is another pretty jelly-fish, which often lies 
in numbers among our sea- weeds, entangling them by 
means of long threads, one of which is at each side of 
its body. The body itself is usually about the size of 
a small walnut, and the filaments about four or five 
inches long. It is the globular beroe, {Gydippe pileus,) 
and when we say that it looks like an oval ball of ice, 
we shall enable the reader to know it at once from 
any other common kind. 






CRICKIETH CASTLE, COAST OF WALES. — GATHERING SEA-WEED. 


CHAPTEB VI. 

SEA-WEEDS. 

There is a rough wind over the sea, making wild 
music there. Ear away in the distance the white surf 
on the waves is dazzling and splashing, and the sailor 
who marks them there points them out to the children, 
and elicits long questionings from the wondering group. 
The vessels are coming into harbour, for hollow sounds 
and screaming birds foretel a storm, and we think of 
bygone shipwrecks, and thank God that there is a haven 
of retreat for the mariner. And then the thought natu- 
rally leads us to the remembrance of life’s billows and 
storms ; to moments of anguish which we may have 
known ; to cares and anxieties which others dear to us 
may have shared, while their bark has been braving the 


SEA-WEEDS. 


151 


tempestuous ocean of life. Yes, tlie Christian’s heart 
responds to the promise that there is a rest to the 
people of Grod, where the billow shall never roll, where 
sin shall never cause sorrow. There is a house of peace 
and light and love, bought by the Saviour’s death for 
all who love him. And if a wave of anxious thought 
should roll upon them, yet still every believer in him 
can with humble prayer ask of this Guide, either, as of 
old, to still the sea, or to bid us come forth to meet 
him in that stormy water, upholding us with his hand 
lest we sink by the way. 

Mournful as is the sound of the hollow wind, yet the 
wild magnificence of the stormy sea has its charms for 
us ; and were all as safe as we from its dangers, we could 
love to listen to those rich, deep tones. Those winds 
and waves will tear away many a thick-stemmed sea- 
plant, and scatter many a feathery and delicate tuft 
around us ; for a vast field of vegetation lies far beneath 
these curling surges. As these roll on in their fury, 
lashing with tremendous force the rocks near the shore, 
they sever the weeds from their attachments, and dash 
their fragments around, their uprooted masses giving us 
some conception of the nature of the world below. 
And yet, with the exception of the long, cord-like 
weed, the sea whiplash, the largest fronds of our marine 
plants are not more than four feet long. How dif- 
ferent are these from the palm-like plants which rise 
beneath the waves of the great Pacific, or from the 
everlasting bladder-thread of that sea, which, being 
fifteen hundred feet long, exceeds in dimensions any 
other plant of land or waters. In the Antarctic seas, 
too, marine plants of prodigious size are most abundant ; 
and enormous masses lie about the shores of some of 
the islands there. On the Falkland Isles, great heaps, 
wrenched from the rocks, were seen by Captain Eoss, 
twisted together by rolling in the heavy surf, and so 
encumbering the beach that walking became quite 
laborious, the pedestrian sinking to the knees in 
masses of decomposing vegetation, while marine animals 


152 A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 

entangled there as in a net were adding, by their 
decaying bodies, to the sickening odour. Yet here 
was a field for the naturalist intent on studying the 
plants of the sea; for growing on these large weeds 
were tufts of rare and delicate plants, waving in silky 
luxuriance to the slightest wind, some of them being 
just such sea- weeds as the voyager has seen on his 
native rocks, and recalling remembrances of the sea- 
girt island of his affection. One gigantic sea-weed, 
surpassing all others in bulk, is particularly abundant 
about the Falkland Islands, and altogether resembles a 
tree in its manner of growth. This plant, called the 
lessonia , is eight or ten feet in height, and its stem as 
thick as a man’s thigh. It grows in an erect direction ; 
and at the end of its branches, leaves, two or three 
feet long and only three inches broad, hang in the sea 
like the boughs of the weeping- willow, presenting a 
mass of green foliage to him who looks down into 
the clear water. Then comes the raging wind, and 
bears away the huge trunk to the strand ; and this 
looks so like a mass of drifted wood that many would 
be deceived by it. N o arguments urged by our 
voyagers could dissuade the captain of a merchant 
brig from taking boat-loads of these trunks on board 
his vessel. He was strong in his belief that they 
would, when dried, afford excellent fuel. The only 
use, however, of which these trunks are to man is, 
that when hardened the people make them into knife 
handles. But to the world of marine animals of 
what service are they ? The worms, and crabs, and 
zoophytes, and shell-fish, the sponges and sea-mats, 
and the entangled fishes, with the clustering eggs on 
their stems, all attest that the vegetation of the deep 
has its uses, and that a larger number of living creatures 
probably are dependent upon it than are upon the 
leaves, stems, and fruits and flowers of any forest tree 
of our upper earth. 

But if our sea- weeds cannot rival these in size, yet 
in minuteness, and exquisite delicacy of structure, some 


SEA-WEEDS. 


153 


of them need not yield to any of the marine plants of 
other lands. We have sea-plants, of which it would 
take hundreds of fibres to make the thickness of' 
sewing silk; some which are fine as the powdery 
plumage on a butterfly’s wing ; others so wondrously 
small, as that hundreds might lie in a drop of water ; 
some branched out like a lace embroidery ; others like 
balls of silky hair ; some are only globules, consisting 
of a single cellule of colouring matter ; some which 
seem mere dots are> found, by the application of the 
microscope, to look like branching trees. 

In order that the reader unacquainted with this 
subject may form some idea of the minute beauty 
of one of them, we will extract from Dr. Lands- 
borough’s “ Popular Introduction to British Sea- 
weeds,” a description given by this admirable naturalist 
in his own picturesque manner. The plant is called 
the fan-shaped licmophora ; and though rare, is found 
on sea- weeds at various parts of our coast. “ Though 
minute,” says this writer, “ it well deserves the name 
of splendid ; it is like an assemblage of hundreds of 
beautiful little fans. Had I believed in the existence 
of fairies as firmly as I did in my childish years, I 
could have imagined that some marine Queen Mab, 
and all the ladies of her court, were congregated amid 
the branchlets and filaments of the little alga. 

£ Materiam super abat opus every fan was of exquisite 
workmanship. Raised on a little stem, they were 
spread out so as to form, in some cases, more than a 
semicircle, the rays numbering from ten to twenty- 
six. Each ray was wedge-shaped, a little denticulated 
at the top ; the upper part was amber-coloured, and as 
each ray had a lighter coloured dot in the middle of 
this portion, these bright dots formed a crescent of 
sea-gems, adorning the fan. Under this amber-coloured 
portion there was a pellucid band, the lower part of 
the fan being amber-coloured like the upper. Aided 
by a microscope, the whole was so beautiful, that a 
lady to whom I showed a portion of licmophora , thus 


154 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


magnified, said she could not fall asleep for a long 
time that night, as the lovely fans seemed ever before 
her eyes ; and when she did sleep she dreamed of 
them.” Such are the exquisite forms lying on rocks 
or sea-weeds, seeming to the naked eye hut scattered 
grains of green powder, hut, in fact, being partly formed 
of flint; thus remaining indestructible, and in the 
course of ages, minute as they are, forming masses of 
the mineral, which during their period of growth 
they extracted from the waters. 

As there is no part of the soil of earth where some 
grass or moss will not find power to creep, so there is 
no sea, or river, or stream without its weeds, algce , 
as all flowerless aquatic vegetables are termed. And 
as on the land we have the region of the vine and the 
myrtle, of the oak and the cedar, so there are portions 
of the watery world where peculiar sea- weeds cover the 
soil ; depths and currents influencing, in some degree, 
their form and structure, as latitude and elevation do 
the land plants. They are not, however, quite so dis- 
tinctly marked in this respect as is the vegetation of 
the land ; and some sea- weeds, like our water-cress and 
meadow-grass, are world- wide; hut even our own 
island exhibits considerable difference in the species 
common on the northern and southern coasts, while 
many sea-weeds on the limestone rocks of Ireland 
attain a size and luxuriance far greater than those of 
the Scotch or English shores. So numerous are the 
species of algae that they cannot be reckoned. The 
crystal rivulet, the navigable river, the salt sea, the 
sulphureous streams of Italy, the eternal snows of 
polar regions, the wet rock, the lonely sea-cave, the 
sides of the waterfall, the damp garden-path, each has 
species peculiar to itself ; each wears a tracery which 
tells, by unquestionable evidence, that it was wrought 
by the finger of G-od. 

But besides the sea-weeds which are attached to 
rocks, and ocean depths, and larger plants, there are 
floating weeds, lying in masses in the sea, looking so 


SEA-WEEDS. 


155 


entangled and numerous, that the inexperienced 
voyager almost fancies that he could walk lightly over 
them ; but not so ; they would yield to his tread, and 
carry him down to join the many who lie in that vast 
cemetery, over which the waves murmur their perpetual 
dirge. That bladder-chain ( Macrocystis pyriferd) has 
its long fronds, of many hundred feet, sustained by 
numerous air-bladders ; and so, too, has the gulf- weed 
which sometimes reaches our shores, though it is native 
only to the seas within forty degrees of the equator. 
It still entangles the ship, as it did the vessel of the 
undaunted Columbus ; still forms such vast meadows 
in certain parts of ocean, that these are said to enable 
the pilots to rectify their longitude. It is often called 
the tropic grape. Then there are species which are 
attached to shells, or even to crabs, or other animals, 
and are carried about at the pleasure of their living 
wearer, and often brought to us ; when, were it not 
for these agents, we should not have looked upon them. 
Sea-weeds evidently grow much faster than do land 
plants ; and even those which grow about our shores, 
increasing continually, as they do, must cover the rock 
below with a thicker and softer cushion than was ever 
sat on by woodland wanderer who rested on the mossy 
trunk or stone of earth. 

Marine botanists have divided the sea-weeds into 
three divisions, a classification which, though with re- 
spect to a few individuals it may not be very obvious, 
yet is very general. These are the olivaceous, the 
grass-green, and the red. The olive-brown or olive- 
green sea- weeds are generally larger than those of the 
other tribes, and are the most perfect in form. Old 
Ocean scatters some of them on the strand with every 
rolling wave; and we are often reminded of their 
presence by the long black ridges which mark that 
wave’s progress over the shore, and by the strong odour 
of the salt weed which reaches us. These plants 
usually grow at about half-tide level, becoming less 
abundant at the low- water mark. Long lines of rocks 


156 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


stretch by the margin of our sea-shores, darkened by 
these heaps, and their summits emerge from the waters, 
like black rocks, even at high tide. Sometimes these 
olive plants grow far out in deeper water, and then 
their colour is usually darker than even those which 
flourish near the shore. 

The grass-green sea-weeds are of very simple struc- 
ture ; and our readers will at once recall how the sea- 
rocks are covered with the silky verdure of some kinds, 
and how their glossy transparent leaves wave about in 
the clear pools. Our fresh waters exhibit many grass- 
green weeds, and the marine species prevail in shallow 
water, and are more often seen near the shore than 
dredged from the deeper parts of the sea. Far different 
is it with the red sea-weeds. Though many lie on the 
sand or pebbles, pleasing us by their glowing tints 
and elegant forms, they are brought there by the ever- 
restless waves, which rooted them up from the depths. 
Many of them are finer than the finest silk ever spun 
by the worm, and need the microscope to inform us of 
their beauty ; and some of the most delicate of these 
grow just at the extreme of low- water mark. 

The largest of our common marine plants is that 
olive species called the knobbed fucus, (1 Facus nodosus ,) 
and known in some places as yellow tang, because it is 
often of a dull yellow colour. Its thick, leathery stems 
are frequently six, or even eight feet long, and they 
are sustained in the water by the large air vessels 
which occur at intervals. So well are these bladders 
filled with air, that we have only to hold one in a 
candle, and it will explode with a loud noise and 
extinguish the light. This plant always turns quite 
black in drying, and it varies much in luxuriance, 
according to the depth at which it grows ; the specimens 
found near high-water mark being low and tufted, 
becoming longer as they reach the point of low tide. 
The following engraving represents the parasitic poly- 
siphonia, (Polysiphonia parasitica ;) but contrary to 
the signification of its name, it commonly grows on 


SEA-WEEDS. 


157 


rocks, though occasionally it may be found attached to 
the roots of the bladder and other fuci. 



POLYSIPHONIA PARASITICA. 

This bladder sea-weed is sometimes used by fisher- 
men to cover their oysters, and the children, not only 
on the Scottish coast, but also on that of England, call 
it sea- whistle, and make whistles with the bladders. 
It attaches itself to rocks and stones by means of a 
conical root, and when in fructification it has orange- 
coloured pods, on green stalks, which give the dark 
weed a more lively appearance than usual. 

The commonest of all our sea-weeds is the bladder 
fucus, ( Fucus vesiculosus.) Walk for five minutes 
where you will on ocean’s margin, and there lies its 
dark spray with bladders in its very substance, and a 
strongly marked vein running through its midst. 
When in fruit it has ovate receptacles, and the spores, 
as the seeds are called, are contained in this, as in most 
other marine plants, in a thick, jelly-like substance, 
which is well fitted to glue the seed on the rocks, 
washed over by restless waves. This mucus is also 
considered by many surgeons as a valuable remedy in 
glandular swellings, and many a suffering child has them 
daily bound about it apparently with good success. 
The plant also is nutritious and useful in feeding 


158 


A BOOK FOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


pigs, on which account it is called, in G-othland, swine- 
tang. Lightfoot tells how, when the snow-storm 
descends on the Highlands, covering up their scanty 
herbage, the red deer come from the mountains in 
troops, to feed on this sea-weed. 



FUCUS YESICULOSUS. 

Both these species, as well as several others, yield 
kelp and iodine. This kelp was formerly used largely 
in the manufacture of soap and glass, but improve- 
ments in chemistry have rendered other materials 
available for this purpose; and the kelp trade has 
suffered from them, though there is still a considerable 
demand, from the iodine procured from sea- weeds. 
Dr. Landsborough says that, from July 1845 to July 
1846, it is calculated that upwards of 10,000 tons 
of kelp were manufactured on our British shores, 
which, on an average of 51. per ton, would amount 
in value to 50,000Z. Besides the use of iodine in 
medicine and surgery, it is also of service in the arts ; 
and neither the wondrous results of daguerreotype 
nor of calotype could be produced without the aid of 
vapours from iodine, which iodine the sea-plants have 
gathered to themselves from the sea water. 


SEA-WEEDS. 


159 


These are some of the various uses to which sea- 
weeds may be applied ; and who can tell but that in 
coming days they may be made to aid in the manu- 
facture of sugar ? Several of them have been found 
by Dr. Stenhouse to yield mannite, a substance which, 
though not equalling in sweetness the sugar of the 
cane, is similar to that of the grape, and it is pure and 
white, and abundant in many sea-weeds, especially in 
that long leaf called the sea-belt. In many countries 
where coals are dear, or people are poor, sea-weeds are 
stacked as fuel, and they are occasionally used for manure 
in England. Little heaps of decomposing sea-weeds lie 
sometimes nearer to the sea-coast cottage than the 
laws of health would sanction ; but the garden crop of 
the coming year shall tell of their use to the land. 
In Ireland they are far more valued, and form the 
chief manure for thousands of acres of potato ground, 
which but for their aid would furnish no store to the 
peasant ; for on the west coast of Ireland the poor are 
almost dependent on this source, and they bring the 
plants several miles from the sea. Even on the 
Ayrshire coast, when a good breeze has brought in a 
quantity of weeds, men, women, and children may be 
seen conveying them to the land, in baskets, barrows, 
and little carts, or dragging away the long, thick stem 
of the tangle, while its bunch of leaves sweeps the 
ground as it passes. Kelp has been found to make 
an excellent manure for grass lands, and has also been 
used with other materials as a top-dressing for corn, 
potatoes, and other crops, with great success. 

As we proceed to notice various sea-plants, other 
uses which they offer to man will be named ; but it 
must not be forgotten that the great mass which the 
mortal eye never looks upon is working unseen in the 
waters below, purifying them by their means, and 
rendering the breezes which blow over them healthful 
instead of noxious. Many dead things lie in the 
deep, and the great city pours its refuse into its tide ; 
but the sea-plant gathers from this evil a nutriment 


160 


A BOOK FOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


to itself, and waves in healthful action for us. Vast 
multitudes of fishes and other animals repose and 
hide among the branches and the mossy couches which 
lie there. The “worthless sea-weed” Horace called 
it, while Yirgil deemed it “ viler than the sea and cast 
out on the shore but homely men of our times have 
disproved the notions of the elegant poets, and have 
learned to bless God that the sea has brought them 
its weeds. 

Almost equally abundant during winter and spring 
is the serrated fucus, ( Fucus serratus,) whose brown 
spray contains no bladders, and may at once be known 
from all others by its saw-like edges. It covers piers, 
stones, rocks, in dark, thick masses, like the bladder 
fucus, its sprays being from six to ten feet long. It 
is used for all the same purposes as that plant ; while 
fishermen prefer it for packing their fish, because, 
containing little mucus, it is less likely to ferment. 
When in fruit, it has yellowish receptacles, usually 
situated at the end of its spray. 

There is one very wonderful circumstance connected 
with these yellow, flat, pod-like vessels. In some 
specimens these contain a number of oblong grains, 
each of which finally separates into eight distinct 
particles, and each of these becomes surrounded with 
minute hairs. But in other specimens of the plant 
still more strange changes occur ; and instead of little 
grains, there are numerous tufts of much-branched, 
jointed, delicate threads, which produce a number of 
little bags, filled with many orange, vivacious atoms, 
which eventually issue from their cases, and swim 
about with a rapid motion, resembling the voluntary 
movements of animalcules. These atoms are supposed 
to be similar to the powder which is on the stamens of 
flowers, and which, if we stoop to inhale the odour of 
the lily, tinges our cheek with yellow. Dr. Harvey, 
in his learned and valuable “ Phycologia Britamiica,” 
directs us how to observe, with a microscope, these 
atoms in motion. .Fresh specimens should, he says, be 


SEA-WEEDS. 


161 


collected in winter or early spring, and being removed 
from the water, should be left till partially dry. As 
the surface dries, there will exude from the pores of 
the receptacle drops of a thick orange-coloured fluid, 
which, on being placed under a microscope, and 
moistened with salt water, will be found to be composed 
of innumerable cellules, from which will issue troops 
of these atoms, that are no sooner liberated than they 
commence those singular motions which the naturalist 
finds it so difficult to reconcile with vegetable life. 

The only other fucus, which is a common plant, is 
the channelled species, (Fucus canaliculatus .) This is 
a lighter coloured and much smaller sea-weed, rarely 
exceeding six inches in height. Like the other it is 
tough and leath ery, and is characterized by the channel 
or furrow down its stems. It begins to grow on the 
very edge of high-water mark, and often on spots 
where the wave cannot reach it, except to scatter 
from a distance some white drops of foam. It never, 
however, in this situation, attains its full size, but 
increases in luxuriance to about half- tide level, when 
it usually ceases. Its close and tough texture fits it 
well for enduring drought, and for resisting the drying 
effects of sun and air, to which it is exposed during a 
great part of every day. Dry and hard as it sometimes 
becomes in hot weather, yet no sooner does the wave 
reach it than its softness and flexibility are regained. 
It is a very favourite food of cattle, which will leave 
the other species untouched to search for this. We 
shall not find it easy to convey to the reader so clear a 
description of many sea-weeds as we can give of the 
different species of fucus, but the engravings will help 
to the knowledge of some. The different kinds of 
bladder- chain which are on our shores are much 
more delicately formed than those of the last-named 
genus, and their branches are often not thicker than 
twine. The fennel-like bladder-chain, and especially 
the fibrous bladder-chain, are very frequent on rocks, 
near low- water mark, as well as in the tide-pools. The 

M 


162 


A BOOK EOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


main stem of the latter 
plant is as thick as a 
swan’s quill, from six 
inches to a foot long, 
and strung with small 
bladders as with beads. 
It always turns of an 
ebony black in drying. 
It is a pretty sea-weed, 
but not so much so as 
is the heath-like blad- 
der - chain, ( Cysosteira 
ericoides .) When taken 
out of the water this is 
of a yellowish olive, but 
when waving in the sea- 
pool it is an exquisitely 
beautiful plant. It then 
has all the richest hues 
of emerald and blue 
upon it ; and these are, 
Dr. Harvey remarks, 
more like those phosphorescent gleams which 
flash from the marine animals, than any vegetable 
colour. “ As each twig,” says this writer, “ waves to 
and fro in the water, the hues vary ; and sometimes 
when the light falls partially on a branch, some portions 
seem covered with sky-blue flowers, while others 
remain dark.” Its name alludes both to the shrub- 
like form of the plant covered with little branches like 
the heath, and to its beautiful colours. 

The granulated bladder-chain (Cysosteira granulated) 
is not an unfrequent sea- weed, and this species may be 
known by the cluster of olive-green knobs at the base 
of its branches. Like the others it abounds with air 
bladders, and it would seem a favourite plant with 
marine animals. Pick it up where you will, a clean 
specimen can rarely be found. Sponges gather round 
it, corallines and little shell-fish and their eggs hang 



SEA-WEEDS. 


163 


about it, so that a branch of this plant often supplies 
an excellent store for him who examines these things 
with a microscope. 

But if the reader should fail in identifying any of 
these plants, there is a sea-weed which he can easily 
know by our description, and which he can find on 
almost any of our shores in rough weather. During 
autumn and winter we often see masses of a long strap- 
shaped, yellowish olive sea-weed lying on the sand or 
beach. It is the sea-thongs, (. Himanthalia lorea ,) and 
though less valued now, was formerly of much worth 
for the rifch salt which it yielded to the kelp manu- 
facturer. If we chance to see this growing on the rock, 
we perceive that this strap proceeds from a cup. 
Numbers of these cups grow together, and the strap 
comes out of the centre. As it increases in size, after 
attaining some length, it divides into two portions, and 
then each of these portions divides again into two, and 
so continues until the specimens which we find on the 
shore, often three or four yards in length, are divided 
again and again. The wave which tore them up also 
brings away the cup from which they spring, and we 
find that this is the true frond of the sea- weed, the 
long straps being merely pods or seed-vessels. They 
are covered with an orange-coloured slime which stains 
the hands. The fruit consists of tubercles, which are 
seated in the straps, and these tubercles discharge 
their seeds by means of pores. The cup, which is not 
unlike a plant of the mushroom tribe, is in Ireland 
made into a kind of sauce for fish. 

The representation of the podded halidrys, or sea- 
shrub, (Halidrys siliquosa ,) will at once remind the 
reader of a very common sea-plant whose fronds, three 
or four feet long, branch in all directions, and bear an 
immense number of these flat pods on slender stalks. 
When young it is of greenish olive, and as it grows 
older is of a rich brown. It adheres by means of an 
expanded disk so firmly to the rock, that we cannot 
easily tear it away. Dr. Landsborough found dark 


164 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


impressions on a limestone rock at Ardrossan, of a 
sea-weed much resembling this species. 



HALIDRYS SILIQUOSA. 

Perhaps, however, no sea- weed is more conspicuous 
or better known than are one or two of the species of 
oarweed. The common sea-belt, or sea-girdle, {Lami- 
naria saccharina ,) is like a long narrow leaf with a 
curled margin, attached to a stem as thick as a man’s 
finger, and terminated by a cluster of very strong fibres. 
This leaf is often hung up to warn by its increased 
moisture of approaching damp ; and the author knew 
a person who had kept one for twenty years, and still 
found it faithful to its office. It contains a greater 
store of iodine than any of our sea-plants, except its 
allied species the fingered oarweed. A large quantity 
of white sugary substance lies upon it when dry, and 
the plant is sometimes boiled and eaten, but it is not 
either nutritious or agreeable. Numbers of these 


SEA-WEEDS. 


165 


plants float above our rocks when the receding tide 
leaves them uncovered ; and specimens, six or seven 
feet long, borne from deeper water, often lie on the 
shore, while we may sometimes find one ten feet in 
length. Dr. Harvey remarks, that on many parts of 
the shore on the west of Ireland and Scotland, where 
the water is clear as crystal, these beautiful leaves 
may be seen growing in great luxuriance several 
fathoms below the boat which is sailing there. When 
the plant is well grown, rows of little projections, 
about as large as peas, may be seen, and then the leaf 
reminds us of those long leaves of the east, on which 
oriental characters are inscribed in the middle. 

Growing in just the same kind of spots, and on many 
shores as plentiful, though not quite so universally 
diffused, is the bulbous oarweed, ( Laminaria bulbosa ,) 
the largest of our British species. It is a long broad 
leaf, cut into several segments, which stream in the 
waters or before the wind off the shore. It has a flat 
stem, which has one twist in it, and which has a waved 
margin so like a lady’s flounce, that the plant is com- 
monly called furbelows. 

A third species is known to every visitor of the sea- 
coast. It lies about everywhere by the sea, sometimes 
in sufficient quantities to diffuse an unpleasant odour 
there, and the half- dried masses of this and similar 
plants often form a seat by the sea for him who needs 
repose. Such resting-places are fraught with dangers, 
however, to persons of delicate health, for the sun and 
air do not always penetrate the heap, and on turning 
it up we find an amount of moisture which is slowly 
evaporating. Medical men resident on sea-coast towns 
are very familiar with cases of pain and illness brought 
on by sitting on damp places and heaps of sea- weeds 
on the beach. 

The sea-weed to which we were referring is com- 
monly called the tangle, or sea-girdle, or sea-staff, 

( Laminaria digitata ;) and if we tell our readers that 
it is like a number of olive-brown ribbons at the end 


166 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


of a thick and tough stem, he will recall it to memory ; 
or if he is near the shore and will walk down to look 
for it, we can venture to predict that he will find it. 
He may stop, too, and examine its root ; for among 
its strong fibres he will probably find the little pellucid 
limpet-shell, marked with its blue rays, and it will he 
a great wonder if he do not find, too, the blue limpet 
hiding there like a hermit in a little cave which he 
has dug for himself. Gerarde told how this plant, 
boiled and dressed with pepper, vinegar, and butter, 
might he eaten ; and it was formerly sold in Scotland 
for food ; hut we can say nothing in its favour in this 
respect, though useful for kelp, iodine, and manure. 
Dr. Landsborough remarks : “ Were it converted into 
peat, we should not he unwilling to use it, and we 
have seen it thus metamorphosed, hut on too small a 
scale to he useful. This was amongst the sand-hills 
on the coast of Ayrshire, wdiere it had been drifted a 
considerable way inland by some unusually high-tide ; 
and having been deeply covered with driven sand, it 
had lain, it may be, for many ages, and had become a 
layer of peat about two inches thick, in which the 
stout tubular rind of the tangle stem in a compressed 
state was quite distinguishable. There is a variety of 
this sea-weed not sufficiently distinct to be perceived, 
perhaps, by those unaccustomed to marine plants, but 
which is well known to the kelp burners. This 
variety they call cuvy, and the stalks stand up firmly 
like little sticks, only bending slightly at top with the 
weight of the leaves. The stalk has a rough bark as 
thick as pasteboard, which may be stripped off. This 
kind is particularly infested by parasitic plants. The 
common tangle, as we may easily see, is so flexible as 
to lie prostrate along the rocks. The fronds of the 
tangle often become quite white, and we may find 
numbers of their ribbons dried thus on the beach. 
Children often eat them when fresh from the water, 
and they are not unpleasing, having the flavour of 
half-cooked shreds of isinglass. 


SEA-WEEDS. 


167 


The esculent alaria ( Alaria esculentd) is a long 
narrow leaf as graceful as any of the sea- weeds, and 
having a much prettier green colour, besides being 
altogether thinner and more delicate. It is clearly 
marked by the long vein or mid-rib which runs through 
it. It is little known on our southern coasts, but is 
abundant on all the Atlantic shores of the British 
islands, attaining the greatest luxuriance on some of 
the most exposed parts of the western coasts. It 
would seem strange that so delicate a leaf should 
grow best in roughest waters; yet so it is, though 
we seldom find it free from a few rents. The stem is 
about as thick as a goose-quill, and has on it a number 
of narrow leaflets. This plant is eaten in the Beroe 
Isles, and in Iceland, and also in some parts of Ireland 
and Scotland, but only the mid-rib is taken, the rest 
being stripped off. The Irish call the plant murlins, 
and the Scotch term it henware and badderlocks. 

There are some pretty olive-green plants belonging 
to the laminarise, as well as some gigantic species 
found in other lands. A beautiful kind which abounds 
along the shore of North America has a leaf frequently 
as large as a moderately sized table-cloth. Others 
have stems which the inhabitants of the shores, 
where they abound, use as they might do poles of 
wood. 

A slimy cord-like plant entwines itself about our 
rocks and stones, growing in the still pools, and thirty 
or forty of the cords often springing from one root. 
It is the sea-laces, (Chorda, jilum,') and when dry is not 
unlike the round leather cord with which a fisherman 
would fasten his boots. These cords taper at the base, 
increase in thickness, and again are pointed at the end. 
This sea- weed is also called whiplash, catgut, and Lucky 
Minny’s lines. Who Lucky Minny may be we know 
not, but many a fisherman has used the plant for lines 
in fishing. Another name which it bears, of dead 
men’s ropes, tells a sad and true tale of the plant 
which has proved fatal to many a swimmer, who 


168 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


breasted the waters in the quiet land-locked bay in 
fearless pleasure, little dreaming that its entangling 
cords should wind about him so fast that all efforts to 
break the coil would be useless. Yes ! these ropes 
have wound about many a dead or dying man, and, 
doubtless, often awaken touching regrets and heart- 
rending memories to the wanderers on the shore. In 



CHORDA FILUM. 

bays where the bottom is sandy or muddy, the plant 
increases to such a degree that it seriously impedes 
the course of vessels. It is found more or less about 
all our shores, and is sometimes forty feet long. When 
young it is thickly clothed with slender gelatinous 
threads, which disappear as it becomes older. It is 
also much infested by a parasite, the small litophison, 
which covers the cord for several feet with little tufts 
of olive-green threads as thick as a hog’s bristle, and 
two or three inches long. Some of the older cords 
look, when about the end of summer, like so many 
shaggy ropes which are soft and slippery to the 
touch. 

Besides this there is a jointed whiplash, ( Chorda 
lomentario ,) another plant like a cord, but small 
and slender, and looking as if tied at intervals with a 
tight thread ; and there are the long entangling cords 
of the corded whiplash, {Chordaria flag ellif or mis ,) con- 
sisting of closely congregated long threads, and sending 


SEA-WEEDS. ~ 


169 


out numerous slender branches ; its colour is a dark 
brown, and it is very slimy to the touch. 

A very beautiful sea-weed belonging to the oliva- 
ceous series is called the peacock’s tail padina, ( Padina 
pavonia .) It is found in rocks or shallow pools at 
half-tide level. It is not unfrequent on various parts 
of the southern coast, and is very abundant at Tor- 
quay. It grows in many pools along the shores of 
the Mediterranean Sea, and the waves of the tropical 
oceans bring up plants of this kind very frequently, 
but they are no way superior either in size or beauty 
of colour to our British specimens. Should the 
wanderer by the sea behold this beautiful plant 
waving in the clear water of the tide pool, he will 
have no hesitation in pronouncing on its name, for it 
is in form much like the expanded tail of a peacock, 
and it has iridescent hues almost as bright as those of 
that bird. Some of the earliest writers on the sea and 
its contents noticed this elegant sea- weed ; and when 
in the pool, the fringes of thread-like fibres which 
adorn it give to the surface the loveliest of colours. 
It generally grows in fan-shaped fronds, several of 
which are clustered together. Its margin is rolled 
inwards, and the outer surface is covered with a fine 
chalky powder, which comes off to the touch. It has 
also zones of olive, reddish, and bright green upon it, 
and its substance is thick and tough. 

The rocks which are dashed by the spray at high 
tide, are sometimes protected from its action by means 
of numerous lichens of greenish, or grey, or yellow 
hue ; and an olive-green plant, called lichina, grows 
on all our sea-side rocks within reach of the foam, but 
a little way above the ordinary level of the high tide. 
Some writers call it a lichen, some term it a sea- weed. 
It is a tuft of a leathery nature, dark and crisp when 
exposed to sun and air, but acquiring its pliability when 
the wave brings its moisture. 

We have enumerated the most marked of the olive- 
green sea-plants — those which, if not already known to 


170 


A BOOK EOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


every frequenter of the shore, may easily become so. 
There are, however, several kinds very common, but 
which we should fail in any attempt to describe in 
simple terms. Many species are parasitic on larger 
sea- weeds, and others cluster closely down on the sur- 
face of the rocks. Some are like leathery cups ; some 
heaped on rocks like crowded tubercles ; many spread- 
ing over the marine stones in flat or curled patches ; 
others are brush-like tufts ; some so small that though 
formed of numerous threads, they look like nothing 
more than small downy semicircular spots, about as 
large as half a pea. Some, like one which very often 
infests the sea thongs, form a kind of knob or swelling 
on the sea-weed ; others cover the pebbles at half- 
tide level with a thin purple crust ; while some are so 
beautiful that their delicate branches remind one of 
the feathery ferns of the green lane. Some are in 
dense pencillate tufts, one or two inches long. 

ISTo one can possibly imagine the wonders which 
exist in the sea both in its plants and minute animals, 
who has not been accustomed to the use of a microscope. 
There are comparatively few who can enjoy the advan- 
tage of possessing one of the best of these instruments, 
but we have often thought that the parents of families 
w T ho regularly spend a portion of the year at the sea- 
side would do well to procure a less expensive one for 
the use of the children. Young persons are so easily 
interested in natural history, if its details are at all 
pointed out to them. They are always great collectors 
of sea-weeds, shells, and other marine curiosities, 
always anxious to know their names. And when we 
point out to them the wonderful proofs of design, the 
fitness for their condition so evident in all that Glod 
has wrought, how naturally may their minds be led to 
the consideration of G-od’s goodness. The teachable, 
listening, loving spirit of a little child — that very 
spirit which Groa enjoins upon us all — considers these 
things with simple wonder and delight. Who shall 
say that when we teach the child to love the works of 


SEA- WEEDS. 


171 


Grod, this may not, by the gracious aid of the Holy 
Spirit, be tbe means of leading him to believe and trust 
in the Saviour ? The Grod who made these things is 
the very Grod to whom he is taught to pray, the very 
Lord on whom he is told he should rest in humble 
faith ; the Grod who by the hands of prophets and 
apostles wrote the Bible ; the Saviour who died for his 
salvation ; the Holy Spirit who sanctifies every true 
believer in it. Even should this not be the result of 
our teaching, yet is it well to encourage the habit of 
observation, to inculcate the love of simple and 
elevating pursuits, and the enjoyment of calm pleasures. 
It is well to cherish a love of the grace and Beauty in 
the natural world, to stimulate the mind to active in- 
quiry and to patient thought. 

If the olive-green sea- weeds often need the aid of the 
microscope in their investigation, still more do the red 
series require it. To this division belong our smallest 
and most delicate species. So fine are some of them, 
that the faintest touch of the artist’s pencil exaggerates 
their size. Most of these minute ones, wonderful as 
they are, must be passed over in this limited work. 
The genus polysiphonia, of which no less than twenty- 
five species are enumerated by Dr. Harvey, are chiefly 
composed of tufts of threads, and their name indicates 
the many siphons. Eew of these plants are larger 
than common sewing-threads — many far finer; yet 
these are among the most frequent of our sea-weeds, 
several of them being parasitic on other plants. Some 
of the sea- weeds of the ceramium family are fine and 
delicate beyond description, for we know of no work 
of nature or art delicate enough to afford a comparison. 

Some of the common polysiphonia to which we have 
alluded are very rich in tint, exhibiting various shades 
of crimson, red, and orange, or of purple or pale 
amethyst, some of them varying in colour in the dif- 
ferent seasons of the year, as much as do the emerald 
or golden leaves of the oak in its spring or autumnal 
livery. Many of them are pale brownish or straw- 


172 A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

coloured; and some, like that common species the 
fastigiate polysiphonia, which we have before mentioned 
as growing on the knobbed fucus, have the hue of 
the olive-brown sea-weeds, the colour being probably 
influenced by exposure for many hours at low tide to 
the air, while at other times they are covered with 
water. At one period of the year, however, this plant 
assumes a dull orange hue. The common lobster- 
horn polysiphonia is quite red, and being ringed like 
the horn of the animal whence it takes its name, may 
perhaps be recognised by the reader. It is usually 
about as stout as packthread, much branched, of 
a lively crimson, and very abundant. We may find 
among our common red sea- weeds some species which 
can be simply described, but these are chiefly of the 
larger kind. Almost every one who has been in the 
habit of looking for marine plants in summer among 
the rocky pools, has seen floating there richly coloured 
sprays of pink leaves, which having a vein up the 
middle resemble in shape the leaves of a tree. These 
form the plant called the scarlet, or dock-leaved 
delesseria, ( Delesseria sanguined .) These leaves, which 
are on short stalks of the same light colour, are from 
four to eight inches long, and two or three broad; 
being when young nearly flat like a willow leaf, but 
having, when older, a waved margin. This, which 
is the most beautiful of all our red sea-weeds, is 
common on all shores from Orkney to Cornwall. 
It grows best on the shady sides of the pool, and 
beneath the ledges of rocks, and indeed there is a 
peculiarity in the colouring of sea- weeds which renders 
them very unlike the plants of land. We know that 
our flowers need light to make them beautiful, but 
the most gorgeously tinted marine plant has usually 
acquired its beauty in the deepest shadow. Few 
would look at a fine specimen of this sea-weed 
without admiration, and it was selected as worthy 
to bear the name of the great botanist, the Baron 
B. Delessert, who not only laboured himself in the 


SEA-WEEDS. 173 

investigation of plants, but encouraged many others 
in this pursuit. 

The species figured on our pages is scarcely, less 
beautiful or less common. The oak-leaved delesseria 
{Delesseria sinuosa) is chiefly parasitical on the tangle, 



DELESSERIA SINUOSA, (YOUNG.) 

and when we can see both plants in perfection, the 
contrast of its bright tint with the rich olive of the 
larger plant is extremely beautiful. The indented 
edges resemble those of the oak leaf, and sometimes 
the notches are much more deep than are even those 
of the tree. The species called the winged delesseria 
lies everywhere about our shores, and is of a much 
darker red, but it cannot be described without the use 
of scientific terms. 

The esculent iridaea ( Iridcea edulis) is a sea-weed 
known almost all round our coasts, growing on marine 


174 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


rocks at low -water mark, but it is not universally 
abundant. It consists of a large flat dull reddish leaf, 
without any veins, rounded at the top, and tapering at 
the base, being thus pear-shaped. Several of these 
thick fleshy leaves grow together from the same root. 
Dr. Withering bestowed on the plant the specific name 
of edulis ; but, as Dr. Hooker remarks, this is to be 
regretted, because it is of little value as human food, 
though marine worms may make a meal of it. He 
adds that he has never seen it eaten ; but Dr. Stack- 
house says that in Cornwall it sometimes is used by the 
fishermen as food, after being crisped over the fire, and 
the Scottish peasants of the western coast eat it after 
pinching it with hot irons. A fine ruby-coloured dye 
may also be extracted from it by simple maceration ; 
and every one who has prepared sea-weeds for the her- 
barium is aware that this is far from being the only 
plant which dyes the fresh water. Dr. Harvey thinks, 
however, that these dyes would not be of a permanent 
character. 

This sea- weed is often called dulse by fishermen, but 
it is not the true dulse of the Scottish Highlander. 
This is the palmate rhodymenia, (Rhodymenia palmata,') 
and it is by far the most nutritious of our native sea 
plants. Sir William Hooker describes his having seen 
it gathered from the rocks by women and children, and 
eaten with avidity. The author is also acquainted with 
a Highland gentleman, who would eat a plateful at a 
time with much relish, though to those unused to it 
there is something unpleasing in its very odour. On 
being asked if a crude and somewhat hard vegetable 
like this would digest, he replied that so good were its 
medicinal properties, that none need ever fear that it 
would prove indigestible ; that he had eaten it daily in 
early life, when his home was in the Highlands, and 
that in late years of ill health he had often regretted 
the necessity of discontinuing the practice. The High- 
landers regard it as an antidote to disease in general, 
but especially to glandular affection, and as it contains 




SEA-WEEDS. 


175 


iodine they are probably in the right. The Icelanders, 
too, use it extensively for food, but they eat it more in 
a dried than in a raw state. Like many other sea- 
plants, mannite exudes from it while drying; and 
when in this condition, the Icelander either boils it or 






RHODYMENIA PALMATA. 

mixes it with dry flour for his meal. He also preserves 
it in casks for future use, and when eaten uncooked it 
is a vegetable addition to fish. In the Mediterranean 
islands, too, it is much used in cookery, forming an 
important part of the ragouts and made dishes ; and 
it is one of the chief ingredients in a soup called, by 
M. Soyer, St. Patrick’s soup, and recommended by 
him to the poor peasantry of Ireland. The Irish 
consume a great deal of this sea-weed, after having 
merely dried it on the beach or in the cottage yard in 
the sun. It is eaten raw, and the flavour is obtained 



176 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


by long chewing. It is not agreeable to all palates, 
however, for the author has tried this plant as food ; 
but neither raw, nor fresh, nor dried, nor cooked in 
any way, except in soup, was it pleasant. Dr. Harvey 
says that on many parts of the west coast of Ire- 
land it forms the only addition to potatoes, in the 
meals of the poorest class. The variety which grows 
on mussel-shells, between the tide marks, is thought 
the best, being less tough than the other dulse ; and 
the minute mussels, and other small shell-fish, which 
adhere to its folds, are, he adds, “ no ways unpleasing 
to the consumers of this simple luxury, who rather 
seem to enjoy the additional gout imparted by the 
craunched mussels.” Until recently it was carried 
about for sale in Edinburgh. 

Besides being used as food, this plant, after having 
been dried in the sun, is rolled up and smoked both by 
the Scotch and Irish as tobacco, though it has appa- 
rently no stimulating or sedative powers, and its only 
odour is a faint scent like violets, which it yields on an 
infusion in water. The author of this little work was 
some years since residing in a sea-coast town in which 
an Irish regiment was stationed. At almost any part 
of the day, men, women, or boys were to be seen on 
the beach gathering the dulse and carrying it away in 
baskets, or even pails. The people collecting it said 
that the soldiers wanted it for smoking, and the boys 
engaged in picking it might be seen munching it with 
great glee. After the departure of the regiment, a 
person living in the neighbourhood offered to send a 
cask of dulse to some soldier friend ; but unfortunately, 
in her desire to prepare it rightly, she washed it 
thoroughly in fresh water before packing it, and thus 
deprived it of its virtues. The people of Kamtschatka 
make a fermented vinegar of the dulse, which on 
account of the quantity of sugar contained in the 
plant is easily produced. 

This species is distinguished as the palmate, because 
its form is often, like the palm of the hand, terminated 


SEA-WEEDS. 


177 


by long fingers. It grows on rocks or on other sea- 
weeds, several of the fronds being grouped together ; 
and though varying much in shape, it is always easily 
detected by one familiar with either of its forms by 
its flavour. Dr. Harvey remarks, that he has often 
observed that when the dulse grows upon rocks it is 
broad and slightly divided; while when growing on 
the serrated fucus, even on the same rock, it is separated 
into numerous divisions. The colour varies from a 
deep purplish red to a pinkish hue, but its tint is 
never very vivid. 

Several species of rhodymenia are well known, and 
one other is as frequent as the dulse, and so resembles 
it in colour and flavour, that probably the two plants 
are used indiscriminately as food. This ciliated rhody- 
menia ( Rhodymenia ciliata) is marked by a fringe of 
little segments round its margin, and its colour is 
generally redder than that of dulse; while another 
species, the laciniated rhodymenia, is sometimes of as 
rich a crimson as can be imagined, many specimens 
vying with the reddest of roses. Its form, too, is pretty, 
and its flavour very dissimilar to that of the palmate 
kind. Several very pale pink species are also lovely 
sea- weeds. 

Dr. Landsborough, referring to the word dulse, which 
appears to owe its origin to the duillisg of the High- 
landers, remarks that the latter, as we learn from good 
authority, is composed of two Graelic words, duille , or 
leaf, and uisge , water, that is, the leaf of the water. 
“ Erom uisge” he adds, “ is derived the word whisky, 
and with the addition of laugh, life, we have the 
usquebaugh of the Irish, [aqua vitce ,) the water of 
life;” — with how much more propriety might it be 
called the water of death ! In some parts of Ireland 
the dulse is still called dillesk, which means still the 
leaf of the water, for esk means water ; hence we have 
so many rivers in Scotland named Esk, such as North 
Esk and South Esk ; that is, North Water and South 
Water. 


178 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


Another of the red sea- weeds which was formerly 
eaten, though few now seem inclined to use it as food, 
is the pepper dulse, ( Laurencia pinnatifida .) The 
young plants are slightly pungent, hut those which are 
not so are very disagreeable in smell and flavour. This 



LAURENCIA P1NNATIFLDA. 

species is very plentiful, and often a sea-wall is scarcely 
completed before little tufts spring up upon it, covering 
it as the mossy clump would an inland rock, though it 
will not give so rich a tint as will the moss, for it is 
generally of a lurid brown, though sometimes varying 
in green and brown ; but it rarely exhibits any bright 
tint, pale yellow being its gayest. It grows on rocks 
from the extreme of high-water mark, and it is as 
plentiful on other shores as on ours, growing along 
the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and in 
tropical seas, and as far south as Cape Horn. Several 
allied species are well-known plants. 


SEA-WEEDS. 


179 


A sea- weed which, even when fresh from the waves, 
has none of that unpleasant flavour common to many 
is the Irish moss, so 
called because it was 
first made into a jelly 
in Ireland. It is the 
well-known carrageen 
moss of the shops, 

( Chondrus crispus , ) 
and is not only very 
nutritious, but when 
properlypreparedwith 
milk, makes a truly 
delicious food. Clus- 
ters of this tough but 
flexible sea-weed, with 
its fringed and curled 
edges, brought in by 
the waves, lying in 
crisped and bleached 
masses far above their 
reach, are everywhere 
common. Its preparation for use is very simple, 
the mere drying in the sun being all that is neces- 
sary. It is still sold for a jelly for the invalid, 
though, like many other remedies which have been 
at one time overrated, it is now valued less than it 
deserves. Some years since, the poor inhabitants of 
the west coast of Ireland carried on a trade with the 
carrageen, which was of much importance to a people 
so poor ; and the collecting and drying this plant, and 
packing it for sale, afforded much employment. At 
one period it was sold at as high a price as two and 
sixpence per pound, but its fashion is now gone. It 
is still used instead of isinglass for blancmanges ; and 
by the house painters for size. Another species equally 
fitted for these purposes, and included under the name 
of carrageen, is the tubercled moss, ( Chondrus mamil - 
losus .) It is usually of a lighter colour than the other 



180 A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 

kind, and its frond is channelled and dotted with little 
knobs, which, as they may be seen by the naked eye, 
serve as an easily recognised distinction. If this plant 
is placed for awhile in fresh water, it turns from a dull 
purple to a lively pink colour. 

What numbers of small silky red weeds are growing 
beneath the shadow of the large dark species, or are 
streaming before the soft ripples which wash the rocks ! 
It is here that we may find some handsome specimens 
of that ruby-coloured weed, the phyllophora, ( Phyl - 
lojphora rubens ,) the frond of which is flat, from three 
to eight or nine inches long, its primary leaf being 
wedge-shaped, with many smaller wedge-shaped leaflets 
growing out of it. Its glossy surface and clear colour 
would render this a lovely plant, were it not for the 
parasites which infest it, and which in some cases 
almost hide it from our view. Red sea-weeds with 
calcareous coverings cluster upon it; and iqasses of 
little cells, the homes of polypes, spread over it as if 
they were patches of sand ; nor can we remove these 
/ objects without tearing the thin and delicate plant. 

Other species of the same genus lie hidden there 
too ; and here we may find a common plant easily 
known from any other by its fine wiry stiff fronds 
looking like a tangling tuft of horsehair, save that 
their colour is a lurid purple. This is the entangled 
gigartina, known now to the marine botanist as the 
Gymnogongrus yplicata. Here, too, as well as among 
the heaps of weeds strewn over the beach, we may see 
a quantity of the purplish brown fronds of the forked 
furcellaria, {Fur cellar ia fastigiata^ which is formed of 
a number of little forks, that cannot fail to remind us 
of the implement used by the haymaker. 

A beautiful feather-like sea-weed often serves as 
a fringe to the tangle stem, or is blown from it by the 
wind, and left on the sand for the collector. This is 
the feathery ptilota, ( Ftilota plumosa ,) and it is not 
known to grow on any other plant save this. Very 
pretty, too, are the pink shrub-like pieces of that 


SEA-WEEDS. 


181 


common plant, tlie red ceraminm, which is one of the 
sea-weeds seen everywhere on the coast. Several 
species of ceramium, of exquisite delicacy, and finer 
than any thread spun by the spider in its embroidery, 
are parasitic on our smaller sea- weeds, and by a power- 
ful microscope may he seen to exhibit most graceful 
structure. Of one of these ( Ceramium diaphanum) 
Dr. Harvey remarks : “ When growing, few algae are 
more delicately beautiful; and even in a dry state 
it forms a very handsome object, the brilliancy and 
regularity of the dot-like joints, connected by hyaline 
glistening spaces, having the effect of a fine tracery.” 
Some species of this family are formed of threads so 
slender, so flaccid, and so densely matted together, 
that it is almost impossible to display them on paper 
in anything but a tangled mass, for any attempt to 
remove the fibres from each other would destroy the 
specimen. They are not nearly so thick as the finest 
hair of the head. 

There are several species of a genus named in honour 
of a lady who has made many discoveries in marine 
botany; this is the griffithsia, so called after Mrs. 
Griffiths of Torquay. All the species have the remark- 
able property, when put into fresh water, of projecting 
very small drops of fluid to the distance of several 
inches. When removed from the water, the membrane 
of their cells bursts with violence, and making a sound 
in the explosion, discharges the colouring matter of 
the plant. That very common species, the bristly 
griffithsia, ( Griffithsia setacea ,) which grows on the 
perpendicular sides of deep rocky pools, or under the 
shade of large plants, is extremely pretty, and the 
form of its dense pink tufts is well preserved in drying. 
Its colouring matter, however, very soon discharges 
itself, and it is found to be a powder of so rich a 
carmine tint, that there is no doubt it might be used 
for a pigment, could a sufficient quantity be obtained. 
The brilliant hue which it leaves on the paper stained 
by it remains vivid for years. Dr. Harvey says, that 


182 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


delicate as this sea- weed is, no other is more patient of 
confinement, or can be more easily domesticated. A 


GRIFFITHSIA SETACEA. 



tuft placed in a closed bottle of sea- water was, he 
observes, after more than two years’ imprisonment, 
apparently as fresh and healthy as when taken from 
the sea. The water had not been changed, and it had 
remained clear and pure. The plant had not grown 
much, as the bottle was a small one, but its threads 
reached nearly to the surface of the water, and at that 
time no symptom of decay was manifest. 

The common hair-flag, ( Plocamium coccineum,') both 
in summer and winter, lies on the sand or pebbles, 
and cannot fail to attract the attention of any who 
roam the shore with eye intent on the sea treasures 
there. It is in great request for scrap-books and 
ornamental groups of sea-plants, placed on embossed 
cards. Its colour is a fine transparent red, between 
crimson and scarlet. So widely dispersed is this 
plant, that it is found in every sea from the North 
Cape to Cape Horn. Mingling in the group with it, 
we commonly see another almost equally diffused sea- 


SEA-WEEDS. 


183 


plant, which grows on larger weeds, in most of our 
rock pools. This is the scarlet dasya, ( Dasya coccinea.) 



PLOCAMIUM COCCINEUM. 

So lovely are the red sea- weeds, so graceful and so 
rich in hue, that as the memory recalls them one by 
one, we would fain linger over the attempt to por- 
tray something of their grace to the reader. But 
description fails, and we must urge on all who visit 
the sea to examine and study these wonderful pro- 
ductions for themselves. But before quitting these 
plants, we must endeavour to depict some which are 
common on the shore, and which none hut those 
acquainted with marine botany would discover to he 
plants at all. They are encrusted with a calcareous 
covering ; so that they would be taken for small corals. 
The investigations which have proved that they are 
not so are but recent. 

A very frequent kind is here figured, the common 
strong-jointed coralline, ( Corallina officinalis ,) which 
is too abundant in rocky pools, especially during the 
autumnal and winter seasons, to have escaped the 
observation of any one familiar with marine rocks. 
Even those who never saw it growing there, have seen 
its tufts scattered in the wind, and bleached by the 
sun, and they are then like a spray of delicate white 
coral, though when growing, the plant is of a reddish 


184 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


lilac colour. Place it between the teeth, and you feel 

as if you were crunch- 
ing a piece of chalk; 
and take it home and 
hold it in a candle, 
and you shall see a 
clear white light, which 
will remind you by its 
power of a miniature 
bude light. Though 
we often find it quite 
white, yet it has taken 
various hues in the 
process of bleaching — 
first a dull red, then 
yellow, and finally the 
tint of milk. When the 
plant is placed in an 
acid, the chalky cover- 
ing dissolves, leaving a 
red tissue. 

By similar experiments several stony-looking crusts 
on our marine rocks, pebbles, and shells, which to the 
rambler there would seem to be corals, are proved to 
be of vegetable nature, presenting a structure precisely 
similar to that of our red sea-weeds. One of these 
nullipores is found all about our coast, appearing at 
first on the surface of stones, rocks, or shells, like 
a little stony knob, which, by degrees, spreads so as to 
form uneven crusts, resembling some of those lichens 
which are the time-stains of the old wall or tower. 
The crust gradually becomes thicker by successive 
thin coats of calcareous substance deposited on its 
surface ; and its irregular form, while in some spe- 
cimens reminding us of the lichen, would, in others, 
look like stony lumps or masses. The colour varies 
from lurid purple to chalky white. The species here 
described is the many-formed melobesia, which the 
marine botanists call Melobesia polymorpha. 



SEA-WEEDS. 


185 


Other nullipores are in the form of shrub-like 
masses, composed of stony branches, three or four 
inches in diameter, of a deep crimson colour while 
fresh, but, like all the species, bleaching by exposure 
to the sun. Of one of these, the calcareous melobesia, 
( Melobesia colcarea ,) which is found on many parts of 
the coast in great abundance, Dr. Harvey remarks : 
“ It forms extensive hanks, on which the fronds are 
heaped together without order, and appear to he kept 
from drifting merely hy their weight. The specimens 
at the top of the hanks are alone living ; those under- 
neath, as may at once he known hy their faded colour 
and offensive smell, are always found dead. In the 
west of England, where this species abounds, it has 
been used as manure with success, being particularly 
suited to a peaty soil ; hut as it requires to he dredged 
up, its weight and the depth at which it vegetates pre- 
venting its being drifted in any quantity ashore, the 
full use is not made of it hy the peasantry, which its 
value would seem to call for. In many districts 
where lime is scarce, a considerable quantity might he 
obtained hy burning this plant. The ‘ coral sand , 5 so 
abundantly employed on the shores of Bantry Bay, 
owes its fertilizing properties to the remains of 
cellepores and other zoophytes of whose debris it 
chiefly consists . 55 

Some of these stony plants are thin as paper, and 
very brittle ; while some form globular masses, also of 
light and papery texture, crumbling to powder very soon 
when dried. Others, in appearance, are nothing more 
than tiny stony dots or patches on other sea-weeds. 

A very curious little calcareous plant was discovered 
recently by Professor Allman, and is figured and de- 
scribed in the “ Phycologia Britannica.” Dr. Harvey 
says, that the way in which his friend discovered this 
was a good exemplification of that habit of observa- 
tion inculcated in the little well-known paper called 
“Eyes and ~No Eyes.” “My friend,” he says, “who 
omits no opportunity of adding an unobserved fact or 


186 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


a new member to biological science, noticed that an 
oyster-shell found on a supper table was infested by 
some animal and vegetable parasites, among others by 
some poor little specimens of the dotted chrysomenia. 
On looking a little closer at these latter, he spied 
what few but an observer so lynx-eyed would have 
discovered — some minute white dots, irregularly 
placed on the surface of the fronds. These he deemed 
worthy of examination, and laid aside the oyster-shell 
for that purpose. On submitting a fragment of the 
chrysomenia to the microscope the following day, the 
first trial rewarded him with a sight of the delicate 
glossy fan:” which was copied from his drawing, and 
is a coloured plate in Dr. Harvey’s work. 

This newly discovered plant is called Lithocistis 
Allmani , and is fully described by the Professor. It 
appears to the naked eye like small dots scattered 
over the vegetable to which it has attached itself. 
Under the microscope, each dot is seen to consist of 
one or more, frequently of a cluster of transparent fan- 
shaped fronds. It is brittle and crumbles under the 
touch, its frond being chiefly composed of carbonate 
of lime, which is not a mere incrustation, but is 
intimately incorporated with its tissues. The mineral 
matter is entirely dissolved under the action of dilute 
acid, and nothing is left save a small film in which the 
original form can with difficulty be detected. The 
“ Phycologia Britannica” is, from the cost of the work, 
consequent on its valuable illustrations, a book for the 
few and not for the many ; but such of our readers as 
may have an opportunity of seeing the plates contained 
in it, would receive great pleasure from examining the 
beautiful symmetry and structure of this small plant : 
and he must have a heart singularly unwilling to 
admit a thought of G-od, who would not recognise here 
the proof of the Divine skill. 

But the grass-green division of sea-plants has its 
beauties and its wonders, its graces and its uses too. 
These marine weeds may be generally known by their 


SEA-WEEDS. 


187 


bright verdant tint and delicacy, though a few contain 
a tinge of purple in their hue. Many are expanded 
into glossy leaves, others are like a pile of velvet on 
the marine rocks. Our sea-pools have their green 
weeds waving there like plumes, or flagging down 
their verdant tufts when the water is off, as if mourn- 
ing its absence ; or they are clustered into little spongy 
balls. Many of them grow on other sea- weeds, as 
does the prettiest of them all, the feathery bryopsis, 
which when in the water is like a green silky plume ; 
while another, not uncommon species, the mossy 
bryopsis, is of a peculiarly rich green, and grows in 
dense tufts on the stems of some sea-plants. It 
bursts its cells when placed in fresh water, and dis- 
charges a green powder. In sheltered bays on the 
west of Ireland it is very abundant. 

We have all seen our rocks and shores at low water 
covered with a green sward, too slippery, perhaps, for 
our footing, but looking as if a meadow bordered the 
sea. The plant whose filaments afford this verdure 
is the rock cladophora, ( Cladophora rupestris,') which 
is so abundant everywhere, and so ornamental to the 
rocks as to have been noticed by some of the earliest 
Greek naturalists ; and small as are its fibres, it is 
sometimes gathered and carted for manure. Several 
species of similar structure form the green thread-like 
tufts on our rocks ; and one which in Roundstone Bay, 
Connemara, infests every object on which it can lay 
hold, and is frequent on the tangle and other similar 
sea-weeds, is an exceedingly beautiful plant when 
young, though when old it gets drawn out into long 
slimy ropes. 

The rock cladophora has long been known as the 
rock conferva, a great number of thread-like sea- weeds 
and plants of the fresh water having been included 
until lately in the genus Conferva . Some of these 
thread-like weeds are found in all seas. Darwin de- 
scribes one species which he saw when sailing from 
Bahia, which gave the sea a reddish appearance. On 


188 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


applying a magnifying glass of small power to the 
water containing the plants, this naturalist found that 
the whole surface seemed as if covered by chopped 
pieces of hay, with their ends jagged. These proved 
to be minute cylindrical confervse, in bundles of from 
twenty to sixty threads each. He adds that he was 
informed by Mr. Berkely that they were the same 
species ( Trichodesmiuwi erythrceum) as that found 
over large spaces in the Bed Sea, and from which that 
sea is said to derive its name. “ Their numbers,” he 
says, “ must be infinite ; the ship passed through 
several bands of them, one of which was ten yards 
wide, and judging from the colour of the water, at least 
two miles and a half long. In almost every long 
voyage some account is given of these confervse. They 
appear especially common in the sea near Australia, 
and off Cape Leeuwin I found an allied and apparently 
different species. Captain Cook, in his third voyage, 
remarks that the sailors give to this appearance the 
name of sea sawdust.” 

But returning to the plants of our own seas and 
their shores, we shall find that one of the most com- 
mon on shores, rocks, and in pools, is the compressed 
enteromorpha, ( Enteromorpha comjpressa .) It is some- 
times as fine as hair ; at others, halt* an inch broad and a 
foot long. It is distributed to every explored sea, and 
may be known from another similar and frequent 
species by being branched. Long unbranched ribbon- 
like leaves characterize the intestine-like enteromorpha, 
and it is hollow like a green transparent tube. This 
plant is also found in every part of the known world, 
and is thought to be the species which the inhabitants 
of Japan use in soup in the same way that we use 
macaroni. They appear to employ several of the grass- 
green and other sea- weeds for this purpose, first clearing 
them from the salt, then bleaching them. This plant 
forms an article of commerce with the Javanese. 

There is a marine weed well known to all who fre- 
quent the coast, which floats up and down in the pools 


SEA-WEEDS. 


189 


like a bright flag. It is the broad green laver, ( Ulva 
latissima ,) and is a wide and long leaf, puckered at the 
edges, free from veins, and clear and glossy. This plant 
is found on all shores, except on the extreme antarctic 



ULYA LATISSIMA. 


coast, where the vegetable kingdom has no represen- 
tative, save in the forms of the Diatomaccd , a tribe 
of minute plants to be described hereafter. The laver 
appears from the accounts of Lightfoot and Sir J. E. 
Smith to have been formerly stewed and eaten ; but 
apparently it is not so used now. It was called oyster 
green, because placed in the baskets of oysters ; and 
Lightfoot says that the Highlanders ascribe to it an 
anodyne virtue, and bind the leaves about the forehead 
and temples. “ But,” he adds, “ the use of it in these 
intentions is supported by no good authority.” 

The lettuce-like ulva, (Ulva lactuca ,) though a 
common species, is not so universal as this. It is 
smaller, thinner, and of even brighter green, and is 
far longer and more slender. The ribbon laver, ( Ulva 
linza ,) though the most beautiful of the genus, is not 


190 


A BOOK EOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


very common. It is sometimes one or two feet long, 
about an inch or two wide, tapering at each end, and 
puckered at the edges. 

There is a frequent and very beautiful glossy sea- 
plant, the true laver, (Porphyra laciniata ,) which the 
reader can easily distinguish from the species of ulva. 
It is called sea-silk, and it is very thin and glossy, 
like silk gauze, its long waving leaves growing in 
clusters, and being of a rich purple or bright amethyst. 
This is when the plant is full grown, for when young it 
is, though thin and clear, of a dull olive colour. It is 
always extremely frail, tearing at the least touch, and 
clinging round our fingers as we gather it. It is found 
in most seas, extending almost to the extreme of vege- 
tation at the poles. This and an allied species are 
sometimes cooked and brought to English tables, under 
the name of laver ; while in Scotland, where it is an 
article of luxury, it is called sloke, slouk, or sloukawn. 
The plant requires boiling for many hours, when it is 
reduced to a dark slimy-looking pulp, which is eaten 
with pepper, vinegar, and lemon juice. The Scotch are 
very fond of this dish, and if any one can overcome the 
dislike excited by its muddy disagreeable appearance, 
it is really very good food. The author has known it 
to be often eaten in England with roasted mutton, and 
much relished. There are few, however, who, unless 
they learned to like it during childhood, become fond 
of it afterwards. Dr. Landsborough, referring to its 
seasonings, says, “ So far as our experience goes, 
it requires them all ; with these appliances, however, 
it is tolerable, verifying the good Scottish proverb, 
‘ If you boil stanes in butter, you may sup the broo.’ ” 

Dr. Harvey thinks that the laver might become a 
valuable article of diet, in the absence of other vege- 
tables, to the mariners in our whaling vessels, cruising 
in high latitudes, where every marine rock at half tide 
produces it in abundance. He adds that in its pre- 
pared state it may be preserved for an indefinite time 
in closed tin vessels. The common porphyra (Porphyra 


SEA-WEEDS. 


191 


vulgaris) is much, like it in its delicate texture and 
tints, but it always preserves the form of a long, 
slender, undivided leaf, whereas the other species is 
cut into lobes, and its colour is generally more vivid. 
Wide spaces of rock are sometimes covered with its 
purple ribbons, or they hang on sea-walls, or rocks 
and stones, nearly throughout the year. This kind 
may be eaten like the true laver. 

But among the sea-weeds there are few more 
beautiful than the Taonia atomaria , with its delicate 



TAONIA ATOMARIA. 



green tint and dark bands, on the small Chrysomenia 
rosea , so rare in most 
localities, but which 
has been abundantly 
found by Dr. Budd in 
the neighbourhood of 
Plymouth ; and it is 
to his unrivalled col- 
lection of marine algse 
that we are indebted 


CHRYSOMENIA ROSEA. 


192 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


for this and other specimens from which our figures 
are taken. 

We have before had occasion to notice the existence 
in some sea- weeds of minute particles which exhibited 
peculiar movements. This approach to animal life is 
seen also in some green sea-plants, and in none more 
remarkably than in the large class of plants called 
Oscillatoricd. These singular vegetables are found not 
in the sea only, but in rivers, on moist stones and rocks, 
on corallines and sea-weeds, sometimes being a green 
slime on the surface, or, as in the warm springs of Bath, 
forming large velvet-like patches of a dark green colour. 
Many species are found on our sea-rocks, some of them 
at about high-water mark, or in spots only occasionally 
overflowed by salt water ; but none of these oscillating 
plants are found in dry places. Some have filaments 
long enough to look like little tufts of silk, others are 
in flat masses, others again like crusts, while their slimy 
patches often render the sea-rock slippery to the foot. 
Some beautiful species of a verdigris colour have threads 
an inch in length. Such are the plants of the largest 
kind of the oscillatoriae, which form crisp tufts of 
threads twisting into entangled masses of dark green 
shaggy coats. They mostly cover rocks to a great 
distance along the shore, or hang like silken beards to 
sea- weeds. 

Any attempt to describe even the commonest species 
without the aid of coloured plates and scientific terms 
would be useless; yet we can give the reader some 
general idea of the singular structure of these plants. 
They are all composed of thread-like tubes, some of 
them looking, under the microscope, like a succession 
of rings, such as we see in the earth-worm. Each tube 
is found to be double, the outer one transparent like a 
pipe of glass. Within this is a jointed tube filled with 
colouring material, which is at some times scarcely 
perceptible ; at others, intensely green, or purple, or 
yellowish. These threads wind and twist in the most 
active manner like little worms, with a motion so appa- 


SEA-WEEDS. 


193 


rently determined by their own will, that if not of an 
animal nature, they are singularly like it. Not only 
do they bend and curl right and left, but they will in a 
few hours actually remove to distances of ten times 
their own length, in this respect exhibiting a motion 
without parallel in the vegetable kingdom. None of 
the various causes which have been assigned for these 
movements are quite satisfactory. There are accurate 
observers who conclude that the motions are entirely 
vegetable, accounting for them by their remarkable 
rapidity of growth, by the action of light upon the 
fibres, or by the agitation of the water in which they 
are immersed ; when under the microscope, the slightest 
and most imperceptible currents having the power to 
influence fibres so delicate. But naturalists, of equal 
sagacity and experience, cannot receive this opinion. 
They have surrounded the watch-glass in which they 
placed their specimens with a piece of talc, to prevent 
any motion in the liquid ; but the singular contortions 
were active as ever. They have also left a mass of 
these filaments all night in utter darkness, but on 
examining them next morning, many of the tubes had 
during the interval entirely separated themselves from 
the heap. Sapidity of growth will only account for 
the increased length of the filaments, and not for their 
turning to the right or left, or for their removing to a 
distance from the other tubes. 

Mungo Park, when he looked on the little moss in 
the dreary desert, took comfort as he thought of Grod’s 
care of the small plants ; and it has always seemed to 
us that faith and hope could even more easily gain 
fresh strength in the contemplation of the smaller 
objects than of the vast in Grod’s creation. When 
David looked up into the blue arch of the midnight 
heaven, it seems the natural result of his gaze that he 
should have felt his own littleness ; and many a heart 
has responded to his utterance, “ When I consider thy 
heavens, the work of thine hand, the moon and the 
stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that 
o 


194 A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

thou art mindful of him ? or the son of man, that thou 
visitest him?” But as we look upon the care and 
skill shown in the structure and preservation of a 
little thread-like plant, which, perfect as it is, does 
not exceed an eight or ten-thousandth part of an inch, 
the result is the opposite — the inference natural, that 
we are of more value than many such plants. God’s 
word, which he has magnified above all his name, has 
told us so in words which can never he mistaken — 
words which can assure the feeblest faith by their 
mighty power. The world and all that is beautiful 
is but for a season, it shall all pass away ; but the 
undying spirit within him who gazes upon it has a 
glorious destiny. It is imperishable, it shall live 
somewhere for ever ; and having been enabled, even 
here, by God’s Spirit to believe in that Saviour by 
whom light and immortality are brought to light, it 
may rejoice, every moment, in the calm conviction that 
its eternity of joy is already begun ; and though the 
clouds of life may be shadowing for awhile its begin- 
ning, yet at “ evening time it shall be light.” 



FISHING OFF YARMOUTH. 


CHAPTEB VII. 

SEA-BIRDS. 

We cannot complain of want of music on the sea- 
shore, for wind and waves make there a constant 
melody; hut we rarely listen, when near the sea, to 
the voice of a singing-bird ; such birds are uttering 
their joy far away over the corn-fields, or among the 
leafy boughs of the deep green woodland, or in the 
stillness of the meadow, or among the water sedges. 
Now and then a robin comes in the autumn, with a 


196 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


plaintive farewell for the passing brightness ; or a lark 
soars over the cliff to pour out its loud song of praise 
and gladness. One or two singing-birds, like the shore- 
pipit, sing their best songs here, and nestling in the 
clefts and crevices of the rocks, or dying towards the 
blue sky far above them, utter the sweet tune, which 
is often all the sweeter because it is the only song 
which is to he heard. But if the voices of our sea- 
birds are not in themselves musical, they please us by 
their association with the rude and wild scenes around 
us, and by their fitness to their haunts. Of little use 
to the sea-bird would be the sweet clear tones of the 
nightingale or the lark. Loud as these seem to us 
when uttered amid the stillness of the country, they 
would hardly be heard over the sea, and would be of 
small service as a language to the winged creatures 
whose homes are rocky precipices, ever dashed against 
by loud-sounding waves. To these the screaming 
hoarse voices of the sea-gulls are far better attuned, 
and these are indeed the only utterances which could 
avail them amidst the storm. He who cares for the 
young ravens when they cry, and for the sparrow 
when it falls to the ground, has better fitted the sea- 
birds for their native haunts than had he endowed them 
with the gift of melody. Buffon remarked that a bird 
which can make itself heard, like a wild goose, a league 
high in the air, and produce sounds in a medium which 
considerably diminishes their intensity, must possess 
a voice of four times the strength of men, or even of 
the quadrupeds, which can only be heard half a league 
at furthest from the surface of the earth. And so 
those loud screams, which when uttered by the multi- 
tudes of birds on some parts of our shores are almost 
deafening to our ears, have their meaning and their 
adaptation, if not their melody. 

Nor is this powerful voice of the sea-bird the only 
fitness for its haunts which is presented to our minds 
as we look and listen. Besides that it possesses, in 
common with all birds, that wonderful power of vision 


SEA-BIRDS. 


197 


without which it could neither direct its flight with 
safety, nor gain any idea of distance or motion, it has 
immense strength of wing; and such species as the 
sea-gulls, which are destined to live on water rather 
than land, have small legs and feet ; while such as are 
made, like the curlew, to roam the marshes, have long 
legs, adapted for walking and wading in among them. 
The sea-birds, like most of the creatures which find 
their food in the waves, are exceedingly voracious ; for 
animal life is so abundant there, that the larger tribes 
must consume much in order to preserve some propor- 
tion in the numbers. If on some cold afternoon we 
hear the tribe of gabbling wild geese which are hover- 
ing over our shores on their way to the marshes, we 
may, on looking up, see them arranged in a triangular 
form. This is the most favourable mode for cutting 
through the air, and that foremost bird, which serves 
as a point to the triangular array, will soon be more 
fatigued than any of the others, for he has a greater 
resistance to overcome than they. Others, however, 
will succeed in their turns to the point of difficulty, 
while the foremost will fall back on the rear for rest 
from fatigue. In the same way the fishes make their 
long migratory journeys through the waters. In this 
case, however, the strongest male fish takes the prece- 
dence, then come the other males, while the triangle 
is completed by a line of female fishes. 

Living ever in the air, experiencing all its influences 
and variations, birds are very sensitive to atmospheric 
changes, and presage with much certainty coming 
variations of seasons or of weather. And when the 
divers and sea-gulls come on rapid wiug to the rocks, 
and scream in loud tones on our shores, as if to warn 
their far-off companions that the storm is on its way; 
or when the cranes come away from marshes to soar 
high in air, the mariner lowers his sails, and the 
wanderer by the sea, who may have ventured far 
from home, knows that he must now hasten back, lest 
winds and waves drive him before them. 


198 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE, 


The thick downy covering of the sea-bird is moistened 
with an oily secretion, so that the bird can shake the 
water from his wings, while his skin is dry beneath. 
All birds have an oil for keeping their plumage soft 
and flexible, but in the aquatic bird a greater supply 
is given, so that the wave may come over it, and rolling 
off, leave it unwetted. It is this abundance of oil which 
makes the flesh of the sea-fowl so strong in flavour, for 
it not only insinuates itself through the entire plumage, 
but is even imbibed by the skin. 

JSTo bird is better known on most parts of our coast 
than the common gull, (Lams canus,) which is in some 
places called the winter-mew. Active and restless as it 



SEA-GULLS. 


may seem on the wing, it has, when in repose, little 
that would remind us of the frequent comparison, 
“blithe as a bird.” We often see it in gardens near 
the coast, with clipped wings, wandering in solitude 


SEA-BIRDS. 


199 


over the paths with a dejected and melancholy air, as 
if pining for its native sea and its companions. When 
free its manners seem almost agitated as it darts eagerly 
on its prey, swallowing it so impetuously that it some- 
times seizes the hook and bait which the fisherman has 
put out to take the fish, and thus wounds itself and 
becomes a captive. Buffon called the clamorous and 
voracious gulls the vultures of the sea ; they not only 
feed on fish, molluscous, and other living animals, but 
seize on dead and putrid matter of every description, 
either floating on the waters, or spread on the shore. 
When food is not plentiful near the ocean this bird 
goes away inland, and will sometimes follow the plough 
over the field in search of the insects, its silvery 
plumage rendering it conspicuous among the dark fur- 
rows, or by the side of the black rook, which is there 
too. Grulls do not dive into the water for food, but 
they dip now and then to seize it. They have also a 
faculty of existing a long time without food ; and a 
gull kept by a naturalist was known to pass nine days 
without eating. They have been found by voyagers 
in all latitudes, and are very numerous in northern 
regions, where the carcasses of whales and of large fish 
offer them an abundant store of nourishment. Hard 
and tough as their flesh is, yet it may be eaten, and 
the eggs, which are placed in large nests made of 
grass and sea- weeds, are very good. This gull generally 
builds in crevices among the high rocks on the shore, 
or, when the coast is of a more level description, in 
salt marshes. 

Quite as common is the black-headed gull, ( Larus 
ridibundus,) which is, like this, of an ash-grey colour, 
but is easily known from it in summer by its dark- 
brown head and neck, and its red beak and eyelids, 
though in winter the plumage on the head is paler. 
We may see it hanging in air on any winter’s day 
above the sea, and hear its wild scream mingling with 
the hoarse murmurs of the waters. Suddenly it espies 
a fish, and down our bird dashes with strong wing to 


200 


A BOOK POE THE SEA-SIDE. 


the surface, seizing its powerless prey in a moment. 
Their number and the perpetual movements of these 
birds at this season will often give an appearance of 
life and animation to the scene, and delight us as we 



LARUS RIDIBUNDUS. 


watch their elegant forms and graceful movements. 
In the spring, parties of them assemble and repair to 
the marshes to build their nests, gathering the sedges 
and the tops of the reeds for this purpose ; and as 
soon as the young are hatched, both the parents and 
their young ones fly away to the sea, to hover there 
perpetually. 

Many people dwelling on the coast eat the eggs of 
the gulls ; and far up in the ledges of the tall cliffs we 
may sometimes see boys collecting those of another 
species, the kittiwake gull, (Larus tridactylus.') A 
perilous work it seems as we look up from the shore, 
and tremble to think how one false step might hurry 
them downwards, or how easily the rope sometimes 
suspended round them might snap and drop them. 
This kittiwake is not so general as the other species 
here named, and it never builds in marshes. It is 
sometimes a valuable bird to our mariners. Captain 
Eoss says that it inhabits the highest latitudes yet 
reached by man, and that it congregates in innumera- 
ble multitudes along the west coast of Prince Eegent’s 


SEA-BIRDS. 


201 


Inlet, where his party killed enough to supply them 
with several excellent meals : he describes them as 
delicious, and perfectly free from any rancid flavour. 
Its common name is given from the resemblance of its 
cry to the word kittiwake. Eishop Mant’s description 
of our sea-gulls is very graphic : — 


“ More fleet, on nimble wing, the gull 
Sweeps booming by, intent to cull 
Voracious, from the billow’s breast, 
Mark’d far away, his destined feast. 
Behold him now deep plunging dip 
His sunny pinion’s sable tip 
In the green wave ; now slightly skim 
"With wheeling flight the water’s brim, 
Wave in blue sky his silver sail 
Aloft, and frolic with the gale, 

Or sink again his breast to lave, 

And float upon the foaming wave. 

Oft o’er his form your eyes may roam, 
Nor know him from the feathery foam, 
Nor ’mid the rolling waves, your ear 
On yelling blast, his clamour hear.” 


The feathers of some of our sea-birds are very useful. 
The fine elastic down of the eider-duck is a well known 
and costly article of luxury, and the collecting it a 
source of maintenance to many. The bird is called 
St. Cuthbert’s duck, because numbers build on a rock 
called St. Cuthbert’s Isle ; but it is also a native of 
some of the northern coasts of England, and of various 
Scottish islands. It is only a rare visitor to our 
southern shores, and the quantity of down on its body 
enables it to brave the coldest countries. Its nest is 
made of fine sea- weed among the stones of the shore, 
and so abundant is the down on this duck, that it can 
spare a portion with which to line its nest. As it sits 
day by day on the nest, the bird strips from its breast 
a quantity of this soft material, so that the eggs are at 
length quite enveloped in it. The elasticity of the 
down is so great, that two or three pounds, which may 
by pressure of the hand be reduced to a small ball, 
will dilate to such a degree as to fill a large quilt. The 


202 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


flesh, of the bird is good for food, but its life is too 
valuable to be sacrificed for this purpose, for it is only 
the down of which the bird robs herself that is of much 
worth; such as is taken from her when dead soon 
becoming matted and spoiled. There are rocky places 
in Norway and Sweden where hundreds of the nests 
of the eider-duck are to be found every season, and 
they descend by inheritance to the proprietors, and are 
a source of much wealth to them. 

Several of the duck tribe are winter visitants to our 
shores, and the sea seems quite alive with them as they 
flutter from place to place, just letting us see their 
forms, then in a moment disappearing beneath the 
waves. They not only flutter above the water, but are 
most unwearied swimmers, and most clever and suc- 
cessful divers after fish. With the wild gull, and some 
other birds, they unite in making in the air, when they 
come to us, a most strange unearthly sound, which if 
heard in the darkness may startle the wanderer on the 
shore, reminding him of those wild legends of horse- 
men and hounds, whose shouts were fancied to resound 
in the air, when those who uttered them were invisible 
to mortal eye. 

“ And now the wintry coast along 
The assembled flocks of ocean throng, 

Some native birds perennial ; some 
From inland moor or freshet come, 

To winter on the fishy shore : 

And some from far-off regions frore. 

Where reigns uncheer’d a dayless night, 

Have hither sped their annual flight.” 

Such a bird is the scaup-duck, (Anas marina ,) which 
on some shores comes with the rough and strong gales 
of the late autumnal months, to pass its winter with 
us, diving after the small fish, and finding a vegetable 
diet in the sea- weeds about the shore, or scooping with 
its broad beak along the mud or sand, and swallowing 
such small worms or insects as it may find. Mr. 
Yarrell thinks that to this habit of scooping it owes its 
name of scaup-duck ; but Mr. Willoughby says that 


SEA-BIRDS. 


203 


the broken shells among which it feeds are called 
scaup, and infers this to be the origin of its name. Its 
flesh is dark, and has a fishy flavour, but it is some- 
times eaten by those who cannot procure other food. 
In the spring this duck forsakes our shores, and numbers 
of them may again be seen streaming over the waters 
on their way to the countries north of the Orkney and 
Shetland Isles, where they rear their young. The 
tufted duck (Anas fuligula) is often the companion of 
this species on our coast, and is more generally distri- 
buted, being a well-known visitor in company with the 
golden eye, the pochard, and other oceanic ducks. This 
species is also an excellent diver, and though it feeds 
on the same substances as the other, is good for eating, 
and has so excellent a flavour that it is sometimes 
called the black widgeon. 

The flesh of the pochard or dun-bird (Anas ferina) 
is, however, superior to this, and is said even to be 
better than that of the celebrated canvass-backed duck 
of the United States, though this is only when it re- 
sorts to inland lakes and rivers, and not when it feeds 
on the fishy animals near the sea. When about the 
shore it is very fond of two of the marine vegetables, 
which are not sea- weeds, but which grow in salt-water 
pools and sea-dikes. We have only two native plants 
of this kind, and neither of them is universally diffused. 
The long ribbon-like green plant called the grass- 
wrack, (Zostera marina ,) has long cord-like stems, 
while its flowers are like little rows of green beads 
which grow in the leaves, these serving as a kind of 
sheath to them. When these stems and leaves are 
dried, they are sold under the name of alga marina, for 
filling mattresses, and they are also used in packing 
glass for removal. This plant grows quite in the sea, 
but the sea-ruppia, (Ruppia maritima ,) or tassel-grass, 
sometimes called eel-grass, grows in salt-water ditches, 
and may be easily known by its flowers, which are 
on a curling flower-stalk, and by its long narrow leaves. 
These two plants the pochard tears up by the roots, 


204 


A BOOK FOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


which have not a firm hold in the soil, and these it 
eagerly devours, throwing away the remainder of the 
plants. It is often called the red-headed poker, and 
red-eyed poker, from the prevailing colour of the head, 
which is a rich chestnut red. Its low whistling tones 
are heard on our shores about the month of October, 
and if the bird is alarmed it croaks as hoarsely as 
a raven. 

We have several other winter ducks, as the pin-tail, 
commonly called, on the Hampshire coast, the sea- 
pheasant, on account of its length of tail ; and the 
widgeon, which, besides being like this duck, a species 
prized for the table, is one of our common kinds, being 
found all round our shores, and frequenting, as several 
others do, the rivers, fens, and marshes. It makes, 
both by night and day, a strange whistling noise, which 
obtained for it in our country the name of whew-duck, 
and in France that of canard siffieur. Then there are 
the velvet-duck, which comes to some of our shores to 
eat our mussels, razor-shells, and other shell-fish ; and 
the golden eyes, so well known on our coast, which are 
wary birds, and have one or two sentinels always on 
the look out, to warn the party of approaching 
danger. 

But by far the handsomest of the ducks which fre- 
quent the sea-side, is the shell-drake, or shield-drake, 
or burrow -duck, ( Anas tadorna ,) whose pure and 
brilliant plumage gleams in the sunshine of the winter 
or summer day, for it is found all the year long on the 
coast. It prefers flat and sandy places, and builds 
sometimes in rabbits’ burrows, or other spots where 
the soil is soft, frightening the rabbits by its loud shrill 
whistle. It hunts in the sand for those little active 
insects, the sand-hoppers, which look like tiny shrimps 
skipping about there ; or it drags up the sea- worms or 
shell-fish. It appears to prefer the latter kind of food, 
and hence its name of shell- drake. That of shield- 
drake, Mr. Yarrell thinks, may have originated in the 
frequent use made of this bird in heraldry: the 


SEA-BIEDS. 


205 


family of Brassey, in Hertfordshire, as well as several 
others of this country, having in their arms this duck 
on their shield, and sometimes as a crest. 

The geese, as well as the ducks, are chiefly winter 
visitants to our coasts. 

u Now o’er our heads compact they fly ; 

See, as we speak, careering high, 

A flock of wild ducks clouds the air 
In wedge-like shape triangular ; 

And grey geese there outstretch’d, combine 
Their troop in one unbroken line, 

Now in small bands dispersed, or each 
His prey pursuing o’er the beach, 

On their strong legs they wade ; divide 
Deep down the gulfy flood, and glide 
Afar unseen ; or rising meet 
The breasting wave with oary feet ; 

Their strokes alternately advance, 

And cleave secure the deep expanse.” 

As the geese come to us, and the air is filled with their 
wild shrill cries and noisy gabblings, they give to all the 
dwellers of the coast warning of coming cold and frost, 
of wintry winds and roaring waves. Yet it is impos- 
sible to contemplate their coming without admiration of 
their order and arrangement. The goose is a maligned 
bird. There is no music in its gabbling utterance; 
and its outstretched neck and gaping mouth would not 
be good external indications of sense ; and so the goose 
has become a type of stupidity. Yet the mode of flight 
of these birds is one which enables each individual to 
take its proper place, and shows no small degree of 
intelligent instinct. Sometimes, as has been said, this 
is performed in a triangular arrangement ; but when 
the troop is not very large, it moves through the air 
in one unbroken line. By either means the foremost 
bird cuts the air, enabling the whole party to proceed 
with less fatigue. 

The goose has an acute vision, and a fine faculty 
of hearing ; and so guarded is it, that whether eating 
or sleeping, one of the party always acts as a sentinel, 
and with outstretched neck and head raised high in the 


206 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


air, gives timely notice of the smallest cause of alarm. 
Prom the great height in the air at which the flocks 
fly, the fowler’s aim is almost useless ; hence the old 
familiar comparison, of “ a wild-goose chase.” 

The most frequent species of goose about our shores 
is the brent-goose, ( Anser brenta ,) the smallest of its 
kind, and a most true marine bird ; for it passes a great 
portion of its days, and even of the night, out at sea, 
and seldom resorts to inland waters. It may some- 
times be seen in great numbers on the shore at low 
tide, when the waters have left their store of sea- weeds, 
and the numerous living creatures which lie among 
them ; then these geese hunt for their prey, turning 
over the weeds, and eagerly devouring the worms and 
shell-fish, or seizing from the pool its beautiful fringes 
of bright green laver leaves, and eating large quantities 
of the plant at a meal. The geese are clever enough 
to well understand that when the mud hardens so as 
that a human foot may tread it in safety, it is no longer 
a secure place for them ; and then away they wander 
into the sea, betaking themselves to the waters, and 
finishing their meal in peace among the floating sea- 
weeds, or peering among those which blacken the tops 
of the rocks that are emerging from the water. As 
these birds afford good food, they are often shot, and 
great numbers may be seen in the winter season in 
the London markets and the poulterers’ shops. On the 
Northumbrian coast they are called ware-geese, because 
they eat the sea- weeds. Our readers will remember, 
that several species of sea-plants are called ware, as 
the hen- ware ; and in some places all the larger brown 
sea-weeds seem included in this name ; while on other 
coasts sea- weeds in general are termed chaff, no doubt 
from a mistaken notion of their worthlessness. 

The bernicle goose {Anser bernicla) comes to us 
also from the north of Europe at this period, and is 
seen on some of our shores in great numbers during 
severe weather, especially at the west of our island; 
but it is less truly a maritime species, being as often 


SEA-BIKDS. 


207 


in the salt marshes as immediately by the sea. This, 
too, is the case with the smew, ( Mergus albellus ,) 
which is very similar in appearance and manners to 
the oceanic ducks, and is often seen about the sea- 
side, as well as on the shores of the salt rivers. It 
feeds on small fish, crustaceans, and insects ; is a shy 
bird, an excellent diver, but a poor walker : it seems, 
indeed, as if the smallest distance over land was per- 
formed only by great effort, but it plunges far down 
in the water at its pleasure. 

The mergansers, the largest kind of which is the 
goosander, are also very common birds on some parts of 
our coast, but not universally distributed there ; and, 
like the various species of grebe, can find their home 
in the sea, or spend their time in hunting among the 
reeds and rushes for their food. This is not the case 
with those birds known to us especially as the divers, 
for they live out on the wide sea, only coming to the 
shore to rear their young ones, and taking the brood off 
with them to the waters as soon as the feathers on their 
wings and bodies fit them for the sea. These birds 
are most indefatigable divers ; and it is most amusing 
to sit on the rocks or shore, and observe their perform- 
ances. Look at a number of these birds on a foggy 
day, late in the year, when shoals of sprats are stream- 
ing in the sea, and darkening its surface by their 
multitude. Down goes the diver in the midst of them, 
and one would think that he stayed there to eat a 
meal at his leisure beneath the waters, so long is it ere 
he emerges from them. Not only the sprats, but the 
herrings, and other small fish, have reason to dread 
these birds ; and their peculiar croaking might serve 
as a warning, for it is loud, though somewhat resembling 
in its tones the cooing of the wood-pigeon, and seeming 
rather the plaintive note of sorrow than the utterance 
of joy. The sprat-loon, or red- throated diver, ( Colymbus 
septentrionalis ,) is the most frequent of the three 
British species, and it is so eager in the pursuit of its 
prey, that it is often captured by the fisherman in 


208 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


his sprat net. The term loom, or loon, is thought by 
Mr. Tarrell to he a modification of the name which 
it hears among the Laplanders. They call it the 
lumme, which is said to mean the lame, on account 
of the hobbling mode of walking which the diver 
has. In the Orkneys it is called also the rain-goose 
because its croaking tones are said to be loudest before 
rain. Its nest is generally placed very near the water, 
so that the bird may slip out of it into its native 
element, for it can neither stand nor walk with ease. 
It can, however, fly very well, and at a good height too, 
and make its way quickly over the sea, heedless of 
storm or wave. The fowler seldom tries to get at it, 
for, by dint of quick swimming and good diving, the 
attempt to escape is so successful that his labour would 
be lost. During the time when these birds are rearing 
their young, their mournful cry is oft repeated, the 
utterance sounding like the words kakera, kakera, by 
which name this diver is called in many parts of 
Scandinavia. 

The grebes, too, can fly and dive well, but they 
make little use of their wings. They are almost con- 
stantly on the water, swimming against the wind, yet 
sometimes the wave will drive them on to the shore, 
where they will he easily taken before they can settle 
themselves to the water. If you attempt to touch 
them they make great resistance, striking at you with 
the hill, and when once fairly afloat, they will soon 
escape by diving. Their feathers are elastic, and 
form so close and glossy a down, that the bird is well 
protected both from wet and cold. The covering of 
the breast is white ; and this silvery plumage never 
becomes moist, and unites the elasticity of feathers to 
the brilliancy of silk and the softness of down. Muffs 
are often made of this part of the skin of the grebe ; 
and Pallas relates that in the southern parts of Siberia 
these birds are so numerous as to afford a very lucrative 
trade among the Barabynsk Tartars, for this glossy 
skin. 


SEA-BIRDS. 


209 


Much of that loud, wild screaming which resounds 
among the cliffs, and which sometimes rises shrill and 
hoarse, even above the wildest 
roar of the sea, is made by 
some of those birds which look 
like the diver, and which can 
also both swim and dive ex- 
ceedingly well. The common 
guillemot ( TJria troile) is com- HEAD 0F guillemot. 

monly called the foolish guillemot, or foolish Willie, 
or wild Willie ; though why it should be deemed in- 
ferior to other sea-birds in sense is not very apparent, 
as it seems to surpass many of them in this respect. 
It may be that because when on shore the bird has 
an awkward appearance, as the legs are placed so far 
back beneath the body that they walk badly, and their 
wings are so short and narrow, that they can scarcely 
flutter. Let our bird, however, but get upon the face 
of the waters, and we shall see it swim with grace 
and ease, while the very position of its legs, which 
renders it a bad walker, is suited to facilitate its diving. 
It dives very low, even far under the ice, and the 
wings aid its progress as it rises to the surface when 
some tempting crab, or fish or marine insect, induces it 
to urge onwards with great rapidity. It is by means 
of these short wings, too, that the guillemots clear the 
projecting ledges of rocks and cliffs, and jump from 
point to point, till they reach those high, and to us 
inaccessible spots, where they often build. These birds 
can bear a great degree of cold, and are often seen on 
the ice ; but as they can only find their food in the 
open seas, they leave the colder regions of the in- 
hospitable north, and come, during complete frosts, to 
our shores; whole families residing there, and con- 
gregating by thousands among the rocks. 

After the breeding season, the various cliffs and 
insulated rocks where their nests were formed become 
deserted by the sea-birds, and they spread along 
shore in all directions; thus it is that the gannets, 

p 



210 


A BOOK FOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


razor-bills, guillemots, gulls, etc., are met with in 
localities far removed from the place of their birth; 
and thus tend to swell the numbers in the various 
local fanna to which, in fact, they do not strictly 
belong. 

So far from being stupid and insensible, the guille- 
mots evince great contrivance and affection in planning 
the welfare of their young. Mr. W aterton, referring 
to these birds in the neighbourhood of Flamborough 
Head, says, “The men there assured me that when 
the young guillemot gets to a certain size, it manages 
to climb upon the back of the old bird, which conveys 
it down to the ocean. Having carried a good telescope 
with me, through it I saw numbers of young guillemots 
diving and sporting on the sea, quite unable to fly ; 
and I observed others on the ledges of the rocks, as I 
went down among them, in such situations, that had 
they attempted to fall into the waves beneath they 
would have been killed by striking against the pro- 
jecting points of the intervening sharp and rugged 
rocks : wherefore I concluded that the information of 
the rock-climbers was to be depended upon.” Mr. 
Yarrell, in further proof of this, says that he has seen 
on the sea, at the very base of the high cliffs of the 
Isle of Wight, the young, both of the guillemot and 
the razor-bill, so small that they could not have made 
the descent by themselves from their lofty birth-places 
without destruction. Yet he adds, that these little 
birds knew perfectly well how to take care of them- 
selves, and at the approach of a boat would swim 
away, and dive in all directions. By the month 
of September, the birds, both old and young, leave the 
rocks, and make their dwelling, both by night and 
day, on that wide world of waters for which they are 
so admirably fitted. 

Our great ornithologist, Mr. Yarrell, remarks also, 
that about the beginning of May, the common guille- 
mot, with many other species of birds frequenting the 
sea-rocks, come to particular points, where, from the 


SEA-EIEDS. 


211 


numbers which congregate, and the bustle apparent 
among them, one would think that a confusion of 
interests and of localities would be likely to ensue. 
“ On the contrary,” says our author, “ it will be found 
that the guillemots occupy one station, or line of 
ledges on the rocks ; the razor-bills another ; the 
puffins a third; kittiwake gulls a fourth; whilst the 
inaccessible pinnacles seem to be left for the use of 
the lesser black-backed and herring gulls . Two distinct 
species scarcely ever breed close by the side of each 
other.” Who could have believed that the sea-birds 
had so good an idea of political science, and so rigid 
notions of justice, as to share their kingdom so definitely 
and wisely ? The common guillemot is distributed all 
round our coasts, and in some places has the name 
also of willock, or turkershire. Its single egg is placed 
on the bare rock, and though varying much in hue, is 
generally of a bluish green, dashed with dark brown. 
The black guillemot (JJria grylle) is a dull, black- 
hued bird, with scarlet feet and legs, while these 
parts in the common guillemot are black; but the 
former is not a common bird on any of our shores. 

Associating with the guillemot in great numbers, 
wherever our shores are precipitous, we may find the 
razor-bill auk, ( Alca torda ,) 
which is so like its companion 
in appearance, manners, and 
habits, that only an ornitholo- 
gist would detect any differ- 
ence between them. The little 
auk, ( Alca alle ,) which is more 
often seen on our northern HEAD OF razor-bill auk. 
than southern coast, is also half oceanic in habits, 
rarely appearing on land save during the period of 
incubation, or when driven in by the violence of winds 
and waves. It is provincially called the rotche. 

Any one who has once seen a puffin or coulter-neb 
{Alca arcticd) will ever again know this bird from all 
others. A strange-looking bird it is, and strange too 



212 


A BOOK FOE. THE SEA-SIDE. 


is the grave sound which the puffin makes, seeming, as 
it sits perched on the ledge of the sea-rock, as if it 
were announcing some very- 
solemn fact to its companions, 
looking at you with its sharp 
eyes, if you glance upwards, 
as if to say, “ I am not afraid 
of you, hut shall proceed with 
my oration,” and letting you 
head of puffin. approach pretty near without 

indicating any emotion. Immense numbers of these 
birds are to be found among the cliffs of our 
shores, as on those of the Isle of Wight, during the 
summer, or they may be seen running over the downs 
at the top of the cliff, contending with the rabbits for 
the proprietorship of the burrows, pecking most un- 
scrupulously the rightful owners, and generally suc- 
ceeding in securing possession. Not that the puffin 
always resorts to ready-made dwelling-places. Some- 
times no rabbit holes are to be found, and the male puffin 
either excavates burrows very cleverly, or they all 
content themselves with crevices of the rocks. When 
burrows are made by these birds, the very summit of 
the cliff is chosen, and the hole dug is sometimes 
several feet deep. Such earnest workers are they, that 
they will, while thus occupied, allow themselves to be 
taken by the hand ; and Mr. Selby says that he has 
frequently obtained specimens of the bird by thrusting 
his arm into the burrow, though at the risk of receiving 
a severe bite from the sharp and strong bill of the 
puffin. The egg, which is as large as that of a pullet, 
is in the month of June placed at the very end of the 
burrow, and as it is good for eating, it is often taken 
by people in the neighbourhood. This bird dives 
exceedingly well. We may often see it far up on 
some rocky point, peering into the waters. Presently 
it dashes down, hides for a moment beneath the surface, 
then emerges with several sprats or other small fish 
hanging from the bill by their heads, sweeps actively 



SEA-BIRDS. 


213 


upwards, and bears tbe meal to its family. From the 
form of its bill it is often called the sea-parrot, and it 
can insert this like a wedge between the valves of the 
shell-fish. The natives of the Kurile Isles make orna- 
ments of these bills, and those of Oonalaska use the 
skin and plumage for vestments. 

On almost every part of our rocky shores we may 
see and hear too that large bird, the black cormorant, 
( Pelecanus carlo.') The range of this bird is very 
extensive, as it is found on the Granges of India, over 
the greater part of Europe, and also in North America. 
Great numbers rear their young among the cliffs of 
the Isle of Wight, and large flocks are often to be 
seen on the sand-downs of the southern coast, as well 
as on isolated sea-rocks about our shores. We all 
know that the cormorant has a great reputation for 
voracity, and being both a good diver and swimmer, 
and a most dexterous fisher, it has abundant means of 
supplying its appetite. When it has caught a young 
fish beneath the surface, it will come up, and tossing its 
victim in the air, will catch it head foremost, so that the 
fins and scales may not interfere with the throat while 
swallowing it. This would be less necessary did the 
cormorant confine its food to its favourite fish the eel, 
or even to small fish in general ; but as it does not 
hesitate to seize a fish so large as that we should 
deem its passage down the throat almost impossible, 
this instinctive precaution is very necessary. It is 
wonderful how many fish a cormorant will consume 
in the course of an hour’s fishing, and it pursues its 
prey, not only with such address, but also with such 
determined perseverance, that it rarely escapes ; even 
if a young bird, only half fledged, is thrown into the 
water, it instantly dives and helps itself to its food. 

This cormorant is remarkably intelligent and may 
easily be tamed, when it becomes much attached to its 
owner. Colonel Montagu had one which was so domes- 
ticated, that it would come to him and dress its 
feathers with the greatest composure by the fireside 


214 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE, 


where he sat. It is in its wild state a friendly, social 
bird, living in great harmony with its congeners ; and 
here, when away from its native haunts, it associated 
with perfect good temper with geese, ducks, and other 
fowls, though when it saw a pool it would become 



THE CORMORANT. 

excited and restless, and perhaps yearnings for the sea 
would come to it. So docile is the nature of the bird 
that both in England and Holland, as well as in some 
eastern lands, it has been trained to catch fish, and 
disgorge them for its owner, only receiving a’ few 
afterwards as a reward for its efforts. Whitelock 
mentions that he had a cast of them, which like 
hawks, would come to his hand, and tells how the 
best he ever had were given to him by Mr. Wood 
master of the cormorants to king Charles the First.' 
Sir George Staunton saw a similar species thus em- 
ployed in China, and referring to the southern branch 


SEA-BIEDS. 


215 


of the canal on his journey to Han-choo-foo, he says, 
“ On a large lake close to this part of the canal, and to 
the eastward of it, are thousands of small boats and 
rafts built entirely for this species of fishery. On 
each boat or raft are ten or a dozen birds, which at 
a sign from the owner plunge into the water, and it is 
astonishing to see the enormous size of the fish with 
which they return, grasped between their bills.” The 
cormorant generally builds on the very summits of the 
rocks, making its nest of dried sea-weeds, and these 
are in some instances two feet in height. The eggs, 
like the flesh of the bird, have so high a flavour that 
they are of no value. 

Many thousands of the gannet or solan goose, ( Fele - 
canus basscmus ,) “ intelligent of seasons,” come during 
spring and autumn to various parts of our shores. 
Their young are the strangest looking little birds, 
resembling powder puffs, and they are often taken for 
their down, which is appropriated to many useful pur- 
poses, as well as for their flesh. This, though some- 
what oily in flavour, is esteemed a delicacy in many 
parts of Scotland, large numbers of these young gannets 
being sold in the Edinburgh markets. The eggs too 
are very highly prized, and the spots which are the 
annual resorts of these birds become of much value to 
the proprietors. The Bass Bock at the entrance of 
the Erith of Eorth, the Isle of Ailsa at the mouth of 
the Erith of Clyde, St. Kilda, and the Skelig Isles on 
the Irish coast, as well as some others, are all cele- 
brated for their solan geese. Mr. Selby says, that 
the precipitous Bass Bock is rented from the pro- 
prietor at sixty or seventy pounds per year, entirely 
on account of the worth of these birds and their eggs. 
“ Great care,” says this writer, “ is taken to protect 
the old birds, which the tenant is enabled to do from 
the privilege possessed by the proprietor of preventing 
any person from shooting or otherwise destroying 
them within a certain limited distance of the island. 
Erom the accounts I have received from the resident 


216 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


there, it appears that the gannet is a very long-lived 
bird, as he has recognised, by particular and well-known 
marks, certain individuals for upwards of forty years, 
that invariably returned to the same spots.” 

These birds become very tame during incubation, 
even allowing themselves to be stroked by the hand 
without resistance, nor even appearing displeased, and 
merely uttering a low cry of grog, grog. During May 
and June, the nests, young, and eggs are so numerous 
on the surface of the Bass Island, that the rambler there 
can hardly avoid treading on numbers of them as he 
passes on; while the sea all round about it is so covered 
with them, that they can be compared only to swarms 
of bees. These birds abound also and breed in Lundy 
Island, from whence they spread along the coasts of 
Cornwall and Devon. The herrings so plentiful in 
our seas, and so valuable a resource to man, are also 
the chief food of the gannet ; and the bird sees them 
from afar, plunges in, and seizes them with great 
address. It is surprising to see them when plunging 
for food. The bird turns round in the air, head down- 
wards, and spreading its wings, twists round like a 
corkscrew in its descent, by which a greater impulse 
is given ; just as it reaches the surface of the water, 
the wings suddenly collapse, and the bird disappears 
under it, scattering the spray around. It often remains 
a minute out of sight, and seldom returns without a 
fish in its mouth. It has been calculated by Buchanan, 
that the gannets of St. Kilda, alone, destroy annually 
one hundred and five millions of herrings. When 
autumn arrives, the gannets betake themselves to 
milder climates, and many are found on the shores of 
the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay. The Drench 
term this bird fou de bassan. 

The most graceful of all our sea-birds are the sea 
swallows, or terns. Skimming lightly through the air, 
they, like the land-birds after which they are named, 
are ever on the wing, and their slender bodies, their 
long pointed wings and forked tails, would immediately 


SEA-BIRDS. 


217 


remind us of our swallow, that welcome herald of 
flowers and sunshine, that useful destroyer of the 
insect race, which else would overrun our gardens and 
fields. Over the water skims the light tern, never 
diving, but picking up some store of food while on the 
wing, now and then perching on some floating drift- 
wood, or buoy, or other sea mark, and looking out on 
the watery world about it. But the bird needs little 
rest, and is soon off again, uttering^ loud shrill cries, 
as if rejoicing in its strength, and excited by its own 
rapidity of motion. If the air is clear and the sea 
calm, it often flies at a great height, and then some- 
times descending suddenly, it pauses a minute and 
darts upon a small fish, and wings again its way onward. 

The terns are a numerous genus, and the species are 
very similar to each other ; they are all summer visitants 
from the north of Europe. The common tern ( Sternus 
Mr undo) builds its nest occasionally on beaches, or on 
the ledges of the rocks, but the greater number of these 
are generally found on salt marshes, or on low sandy 
islands near the sea. All its movements are very rest- 
less, and accompanied by noisy cries. It is very careful 
of its young, but like most sea-birds is not so patient 
in sitting in the nest as are our sweet woodland song- 
sters, rarely going near them during day, but protect- 
ing them from the cold of night by its presence. When 
the young terns begin to fly, it seems to be a joyful 
and exciting day for the whole family ; the attempt is 
made amid much clamour, and any approach of man 
towards them is resented by the parent birds, which 
will swoop around the head of the intruder with shrill 
screams. That pretty bird, the lesser tern, ( Sterna 
minuta ,) is often seen near the sea, for it is distributed 
all round our coasts, and is abundant during the summer 
on the low and sandy districts, placing its eggs on the 
bare sand in May ; while associating with it, or assem- 
bling in great numbers with its own species only, may 
be seen the arctic tern, ( Sterna arctica ,) which is the 
most common kind of the family. It may be known 


218 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


by the pearl-grey plumage of its under parts, as this 
is, in the lesser tern, of a dull white. Though these 
birds rarely swim, they are all web-footed. 



THE STORMY PETREI,. 

The smallest of all our web-footed birds is the stormy 
petrel, (Pr ocellar ia jpelagicus,') a bird far more familiar 
to us by the poetic fictions so often related of it, than 
by any personal acquaintance. Now and then, indeed, 
these birds come in large flocks to our shores, but this 
is a rare event, though after severe gales a stray bird 
or two may occasionally be seen as if coming to repose 
from the storm. It is most truly an oceanic bird. 

u Up and down, up and down, 

From the base of the wave to the billow’s crown, 

Amidst the flashing and feathery foam 
The stormy petrel finds a home ; 

A home, if such a place can be 

For her who lives on the wide, wide sea, 

On the craggy ice, in the frozen air ; 

And only seeketh her rocky lair 

To warn her young and teach them to spring 

At once o’er the waves on her stormy wing.” 


SEA-BIEDS. 


219 


The wing of the petrel seems indeed untiring, and it 
must be a strange change from the usual habits of the 
bird, when its young require its patient care. In some 
of the outmost rocks which form the Atlantic boundaries 
of our island, it places its eggs in the crevice of the 
cliff, or perchance in the burrow of the rat or the rabbit, 
and there the mother bird sits uttering a low purring 
noise, as if singing to cheer her solitude. Mr. Hewitson 
gives an interesting account of these petrels as he has 
seen them in some of the Shetland Isles at this season. 
“ During the day,” says this writer, “ the old birds 
remain within their holes, and when most other birds 
are gone to rest, issue forth in great numbers, spreading 
themselves far over the surface of the sea : the fishermen 
then meet with them very numerously, and though they 
had not previously seen one, are sure to be surrounded 
by them upon throwing pieces of fish overboard.” 

We have been accustomed from our childhood to 
hear of these birds by the name which they have 
among the sailors of Mother Carey’s chickens, and have 
heard the notion, so popular among our mariners, that 
these poor birds are associated with storm and tempest, 
and are therefore birds of ill omen. Our sailors, brave 
men as they are, men to whom Englishmen owe so 
much, yet are, as a race, very superstitious, and quite 
willing to believe the romantic tales connected with 
this innocent bird ; while the Erench, Germans, and 
Italians appear to believe them too, for they have 
names synonymous with our common one of storm- 
finch. The petrels follow the ship for many days to- 
gether, and sometimes a courageous heart that would 
not quail in the encounter with mortal foe, sinks at 
the sight of this bird. Yet it comes in the wake of 
the ship, sometimes for shelter, but more generally for 
food. As the vessel sails on, cleaving the waters, many 
a small marine insect, a shrimp, a tiny crab, a store of 
shell-fish, or other source of food is brought within its 
reach ; or the piece of biscuit, or fat, or other refuse is 
thrown into the waves and affords it a meal. These 


220 


A BOOK POE THE SEA-SIDE. 


birds paddle along on the surface, so as to seem to walk 
on tbe water, and hence, says Mr. Yarrell, their name 
of petrel, from this similarity to the act of the apostle 
Peter. Some of the petrels are to be seen in every sea, 
and are the inseparable companions of the mariner in 
the long voyage, flying in the face of the very strongest 
winds without having their course impeded by them. 
They are not terrified by storm and tempest, for 
they seek those seas where the violent agitation of 
the waters brings to the surface the marine objects 
which constitute their food. Though they cannot 
dive, and are never wholly submerged, yet they will 
dash on their prey with the greatest promptitude, and 
if it is a little below the surface they will plunge in a 
great part of the body in order to seize it. The sound 
which these birds utter when out at sea has been com- 
pared to the croaking of a frog. During storms they 
will shelter themselves between the rolling waves, and 
remain there some instants, notwithstanding the inces- 
sant agitation of the sea, running along the movable 
furrows of ocean as larks would do among those of 
the corn-field, and balancing their wings so as to skim 
over the water, striking it rapidly with their feet. 

But besides those birds, which by their webbed feet 
seem particularly adapted for swimming, we have several 
others which are common on our shores. Some of the 
plovers habitually frequent the sea-coast, and with 
their numerous young broods may be seen running 
along our flat coasts, feeding by the margin of the 
water, and picking up from the sand or from the mass 
of sea-weeds the shrimps, little crabs, and shell-fish, on 
which they subsist. Curlews, plovers, sand-pipers, and 
purres resort to inland heaths to breed ; they are fre- 
quent on Dartmoor, and great numbers resort at night 
to the breakwater in Plymouth Sound to feed on the 
shell-fish which are found there ; even in the darkest 
night their flight on and off may be traced by the 
responsive calls which they utter from one to the 
other as they fly high in the air. The grey plover 


SEA-BIKDS. 


221 


(>S 'quatarola cinerea) is common in small flocks by tbe 
sea in autumn, winter, and spring ; and still more so 
is that handsome bird the turnstone, (/S 'trepsilas in - 
tenures ,) which is well named from its constant habit 
of turning over the pebbles of the beach to procure the 
marine insects and worms lying hid beneath them. Their 
shrill cry has a melancholy sound during the low piping 
winds of the autumnal months. In winter, we also 
often see great numbers of the ring-plover, ( Charadius 
hiaticula .) The Trench call o ur ploversy> luviers, because 
their migration mostly occurs about the rainy season. 

"What merry little birds are the sanderlings, ( Calidris 
arenoria ,) and how blithely, in company with the sand- 
pipers, do they run along the moist sandy margin of 
the sea. It gives one a fresh feeling of gladness only 
to look at them as they go glancing past ns, stopping 
now and then to probe the sand, by inserting their 
bills in it in an oblique direction. The marine insects 
and worms have no chance of escape, for the bill will 
penetrate a quarter of an inch ; and the action is so 
rapid, that their prey have no warning. Off runs the 
sanderling again to another spot, and digs up a fresh 
stone with so hurried a motion, that you would think 
the bird had been startled ; or it will wade up to the 
middle after the wave in merry play, and when that 
tide has ebbed, we shall see the traces of these birds 
in the hollows made in the sands, rows of twenty or 
more holes being very conspicuous there. 

The sanderling is a well-known bird, but not so 
general as is the dunlin or purre, ( Tringa variabilis .) 
With others of the sand-pipers, this bird may be seen 
running by the very edge of the water with the greatest 
celerity, fearless of the surge or the rippling wave, 
which often washes it up to its knees. Immense flocks 
sometimes collect on the sand, dotting it here and 
there, or rising in numbers, and often wheeling about 
for a minute, alighting on some fresh spot ; pleasing 
us by alternately showing us their dark ashy grey 
upper plumage, and the silvery white beneath their 


222 


A BOOK FOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


bodies. This bird remains on the shore all the year, 
except at the period when it goes to build its grassy 
nest on the inland moors of Scotland, or of the Hebrides ; 
where in a loosely constructed little home it places 
four eggs. The purple sand-piper, ( Tringa maritima ,) 
easily known by its bluish plumage, may sometimes 
be seen with it, but is not, like it, a common bird. 

The knot, ( Tringa Canutus ,) with its brown and white 
hues, appears in considerable numbers in winter on our 
shores, but it retreats to pass the summer season in 
the higher latitudes. The movements of these birds, 
as they wheel round on the wing, are exceedingly inte- 
resting and graceful. Their chief food seems to be 
small bivalve shell-fish, which they pick up from the 
muddy, oozy shores. The flesh is esteemed a delicacy ; 
and Pennant thought that our bird was probably a 
favourite article of food to the Danish king, though 
others consider that its name of Canutus may be merely 
a remembrance of the narrative which records that the 
monarch sat by the waves till they came up to his feet. 

That shrill loud whistle which startles the wanderer 
on the shore and annoys the sportsman, is uttered by 
one of the most common of our wading birds, the red- 
shank, ( Tot anus calidris ,) which in its dusky brown 
plumage is coming in large parties, but which will in 
spring retire to the inland marshes to place its nest 
beneath some low bush on that bleak spot. How 
ingenious the bird is in procuring its food ! This con- 
sists of the worms and shell-fish buried in the soft 
mud. Down darts the beak into the soil up to the 
very forehead, while at the same moment the bird 
jumps so that the weight of his body in descending 
may increase the depth of the stroke, and now we see 
that it comes up with its mouth full of worms. 

All the birds of this genus are very pleasing and 
amusing in their habits, running along the shore with 
the greatest quickness, bobbing the head and tail up 
and down with incessant motions, and when rising in 
the air, uttering a loud piping note. The common 


SEA-BIRDS. 


223 


sand-piper ( Totctnus hypoleucos) is a very freqnent 
species near the sea, and is one of the liveliest little 
birds of its race. If wounded, these birds will readily 
dive on an attempt to take them, and it is sometimes 
difficult to find where they are, as they remain under 
water, their bills only projecting above. 

“ Along the salt sea’s oozy verge, 

When wafted high the ebbing surge 
Unshelter’d leaves the shelly fry, 

Hark ! the curlew’s tumultuous cry : 

Not as, remote from human sight, 

In lonely pairs their vernal flight 
They speed o’er heathy mountain rude, 

Or some waste marsh’s solitude, 

To the tall grass or bristling reed 
Their wild unnestled young to breed : 

But now along the peopled coast, 

In densely congregated host, 

Yet heedful of the thundering gun, 

Aloft on bluish legs, they run, 

Or delve with slender bill and bow’d 
The yielding sand ; or shouting loud, 

To warn their comrades of the way, 

Lest darkling from the line they stray, 

Wake the dull night with startling sounds ; 

Well might you deem the deep-mouth’ d hounds 
Raised in full cry, the huntsman’s peal, 

Or clamour’d for their morning meal.” 

Thus has Bishop Mant well described the habits of 
our common curlew, ( Numenius ar quota?) The sound 
of courlie, courlie, from which the bird takes its name, 
is chiefly to be heard in the marshes during the spring, 
when it is intent on protecting and rearing its young. 
The French also call it courlis , and the Italians chiurle 
maggiore , from its well-known cry. While on the 
wing it utters a shrill whistle as the assembled birds 
wheel round in the air in circles. 

Flocks of these birds, arrayed in the wedge-shaped 
mode of travelling which our migratory sea-birds usually 
assume, come about the middle of autumn to every part 
of our coasts, frequenting the low oozy shores which they 
perforate by their bills, wheeling round several times 
before they descend and settle to their employment. 
Everybody who knows the curlew must have remarked 


224 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


its long bill ; and in Scotland and the Scottish isles 
the bird is called a whaap or whaup, which is the name 
of a goblin supposed to go about under the eaves of 
houses after nightfall, the highlander having an especial 
dread of “ witches, warlocks, and long-nebbed things.” 
The flesh of the curlew is in great request. Its manners 
are very shy and wary, and its walk remarkably grave 
and measured, as it makes its way into the shallows 
after its food, or proceeds along the shore. It can 
swim exceedingly well. 

“ And what are they who roam the shore 
Alert on active foot ; explore 
With wedge-like bill the oyster-shell; 

Scoop from his rock- encrusting cell 
The adhesive limpet ; and upheave 
Where worms and sea-born insects cleave 
The weed-clad stone ? The varied vest, 

Sable and white ; and oft the breast 
With gorget white adorn’d ; the bill 
Of orange, with instinctive skill 
Inform’d ; and legs of sanguine dye, 

Bespeak the ocean-haunting pie.” 

The oyster catcher, or sea-magpie, ( Hcematopus ostra- 
legus ,) is a beautiful bird, the black portion of its 
piumage being a glossy jet, and contrasting well 
with the pure white which marks the lower part of the 
back and the base of the tail; while in winter it has 
the additional ornaments of a white gorget around its 
throat. It is very common on the low flat shores of 
our island, and acquired the name of sea-pie as much 
from its chattering clamour as from its varied dress. 
It has also those of pianet, olive, sea-woodcock, and 
chalder. When a number of these birds are together 
on the sands at low tide, their actions and movements 
are well worth our notice. They will hunt up the 
periwinkle shell from among the weeds, or take it from 
the rock, and soon swallow the mollusk within ; and 
they will pick away the mussel from the rock, notwith- 
standing the strong silky cables by which it has moored 
itself there ; while they can scoop out the limpet from 
its cavity with as much ease as if it only lay lightly on 


SEA-BIRDS. 


225 


the surface of the stone. Larger bivalve shells, such 
as the oyster, make some resistance to our bird. Even 
this, however, it is enabled to overcome by means of 
its powerful bill, which has a sharp vertical edge like a 
chisel. If the shell of the oyster is only open ever so 
little, this is suddenly thrust between the valves, and 
when once inserted, the beak, with one sudden wrench, 
opens it fully, and its owner soon devours the contents. 
The rocks full of holes in which the stone-piercers lie 
in numbers, are delightful spots for the oyster catcher. 
It is astonishing how many of these a single bird will 
consume, and when a party surrounds the spot, they 
must almost exterminate the whole colony. The shells 
are dug out from the caves with great address and 
ease, and are generally broken ere they reach the light 
and air of the outer world. Many shell-fish are con- 
sumed by ducks and geese and gulls. Several kinds 
of crows prey upon them, letting them fall upon the 
stones with some force, and thus breaking them when 
the shells might prove too hard for their bills ; the 
different species of walrus eat them, and the preacher- 
monkeys of other lands come down to the shores to 
feed upon the oysters and other bivalves. Eut no 
other bird or animal can take so good an advantage 
of their helplessness as can the oyster catcher, whose 
strong beak seems made for the very purpose of 
seizing upon the mollusk in its house. Even the nets 
of the fishermen are not safe from the plunders of this 
bird, for it will pounce upon the fish, and dragging it 
out, will tear it open to help itself to any shell-fish 
which its stomach may contain. 

Eew sea-birds are more courageous or earnest in the 
defence of their young than this. The eggs are placed 
on the bare ground, amidst the shingle ; and while the 
mother bird is sitting upon them, her companion 
watches over her, uttering a loud shrill cry, as a note 
of alarm, at the least appearance of danger. The flesh 
of the oyster catcher is too hard and fishy to tempt 
the sportsman to pursue the bird. 

Q 


BRADING HARBOUR, ISLE OF WIGHT. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

SEA-MOUSE A YD OTHER AYYELIDES — VARIOUS 
CRUSTACEANS. 

Reader, did you ever behold a sea-mouse ? Perhaps 
you will say that, from your acquaintance with the 
animal of the name mouse which visits your dwellings, 
you have no desire to know it. But our sea-mouse 
will not nibble your cheese or pastry, and will require 
nothing for its nourishment beyond a draught of salt 
water, and a spray of sea- weed. It is probable, how- 
ever, that if you have never searched for it, you have 
never looked on it ; for though a common animal, it is 
wont to hide among the weeds, and under the sides of 
rocks, and seldom lies quite in our way. But if you 
have an hour to spare, it will not be lost if you spend 
it in turning over the weeds. You may find there 
many a beautiful living thing, which you may see 
described in books ; and you may perhaps discover 


ANNELIDES. 


227 


some that have not as yet been noticed. The wonder- 
ful animals and plants of the sea are probably not half 
known yet. They are not like the flowers of the field, 
which are all so well understood and portrayed, that 
a botanist of Britain can hardly hope to find a flower 
growing wild which is not known by others to he a 
plant of our island. Not so with the contents of the 
deep. Tew naturalists who have given any attention 
to the sea and its treasures have failed to bring to 
light not only new facts respecting long-known objects, 
but also some animal hitherto unknown. Why may 
not we add our stock of information to the general 
knowledge ? Why should we not search out for our- 
selves, and see with our own eyes the beauty and the 
fitness of all the works of God P Myriads lie in that 
depth — ay, and many on those shores too, which, if 
mortal eye has looked upon, it is perhaps with naught 
but a careless gaze. Even of those who know the 
most on this subject, we may yet ask, in the words of 
Job, “Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea, 
or hast thou walked in the search of the depth ?” 

But to return to our sea-mouse, which is a very 
singular and a very beautiful animal in some respects, 
though it has neither grace of form, nor, as far as we 



APHRODITA ACULEATA. 


can see, any remarkable elegance of motion. The 
prickly sea-mouse (. Aphroclita aouleata) is of an elon- 
gated oval shape, about six or eight inches in length. 


228 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


It has scales, or plates, upon its back; but these 
are covered by a filmy substance, which resembles 
tow, and arises from the sides of the animal. Strong 
spines are also there, which pierce through this tow ; 
and a number of flexible bristles, which are irradiated 
with gold, purple, green, and every rainbow hue, grow 
in great numbers upon the surface, rivalling in lustre 
the richest tint of the humming-bird or the peacock, 
and having a remarkably metallic appearance. Our 
sea-mouse will not live long in the house — at least we 
have found it so, having tried to preserve several in 
basins of salt water, but without much success. The 
brilliant tint, however, will long remain uninjured, if 
the animal be preserved, after death, in spirits, or in 
that chemical preparation now generally used for 
similar purposes. Every mode of drying will destroy 
the brilliancy ; for we have removed from the dead 
animal all the internal portion, and spread it out in 
various ways ; but the bright tints soon yielded to a 
dull-coloured brown. 

The sea-mouse belongs to the class of the ahhelides, 
and is the largest of this tribe of animals to be found 
on our native shores. The annelides differ a good deal 
in external appearance, in manners, and habits ; but 
they may be generally described as having an elongated 
form, always marked by rings, at certain distances, 
round the body. These rings are united to each other 
by strong muscles, enabling the animal to twist in 
various directions ; and the moist skin with which it 
is covered shows the marks of the rings more or less 
plainly. The common earthworm is a familiar instance 
of an annelide. 

Turn up any of the sea- weeds or stones on the shore 
on a summer day, or look for awhile into the salt 
water pools, and you will probably see some of the 
nereids. These are little worm-like animals, with 
many feet, looking, but for these, like tiny eels or 
serpents, or perhaps reminding us of the centipedes 
of hot countries as they move in the water with an 


ANKELIDES. 


229 


undulating motion. They are sometimes of most 
brilliant blue or green, but the greater number are red 
or flesh-coloured. Many of them have a fierce aspect, 
as if they would dart at us. One common kind, when 
seen under a microscope, looks as if it bad the bead of 
a dog on its ever-twisting body. They are phospho- 
rescent, and Linnaeus termed one, which is especially 
so, the night-shining nereis ; andM. Yiviani describes 
one kind as contributing greatly to the phosphorescence 
of the sea at Grenoa. 

Many of the annelides are seen to be extremely 
beautiful when viewed beneath the microscope. They 
form, doubtless, a great store of food to the larger 
animals of the sea, as well as to the birds of the ocean 
and its shores. To man, some of the largest kinds 
are useful as bait for fish, especially for whiting and 
mackerel. They even constitute a small article of 
commerce to the inhabitants of the shores of the 
Mediterranean and Atlantic. That little animal found 
everywhere by the sea, the lug -worm, ( Arenicola 
'piscatorial) is very useful in this respect ; and fishermen 
may often be seen digging a good way with their 
spades into the sand to procure it. This long reddish 
worm, which changes into a dark green, has no par- 
ticular beauty of colour or form to attract us ; and we 
must watch it, ere we shall perceive the extreme grace 
and symmetry of its gills, or breathing apparatus, 
which change continually into most beautiful colours. 
These gills separate around the head of the worm, like 
the radii of a circle, all gently curving inwards. Each 
stalk of this feathery crown supports small plumed 
branches, which are subdivided into branchlets again 
and again. This lovely coronal can never be seen for 
more than a moment. It is extended in every direc- 
tion, and is of a fine red colour, often changing, as we 
glance at it, to a still richer and deeper hue. We 
have hardly had time to look at it, however, before 
it is lost to us, and folded up ; but in another minute 
it is expanded again, and bright as ever. So long as 


230 


A BOOK EOK THE SEA-SIDE. 


the lug-worm continues in good health, these two 
conditions alternate with each other. If we take up 
the animal in our fingers, it emits a liquid which 
stains them with a deep yellow ; nor will soap and 
water remove the tinge, which remains till time shall 
have worn it away. 

There is a very common annelide which any wan- 
derer by the shore may find, but which will exhibit 
scarcely any beauty to the naked eye. It is well 
worth examining under a microscope ; and then he 
who loves the graceful and elegant will find his taste 
abundantly gratified in the structure of a tiny creature, 
not larger than the smallest pearl, which we pass by 
on every sea-side walk, and crush under our footstep 
daily. Gather from the rock a spray of that large 
olive-green sea-plant, the serrated fucus, or pick up a 
dried piece from the beach, and you will probably see 
on its surface hundreds of small white dots. On looking 
closer into it, you will easily perceive that these dots are 
little coiled shells, quite white. These are the homes 
of the nautilus-like spirorbis, ( Spirorbis 
nautiloides .) This is all which is revealed 
to the unassisted eye ; but put one of 
these shells in a little sea-water in a 
watch-glass beneath the microscope, 
spirorbis nauti- arL d wEat beauty is there displayed ! 
loides. Every one knows the shell of the pearly 

nautilus of the tropic seas, and this little coil is now 
seen exactly to resemble it in form, while its material 
is glossy as mother-of-pearl. But the living wonder, 
the inmate of that dwelling, is more exquisitely 
beautiful than we could conceive. It will not always 
emerge at our bidding ; but wait with patience, and 
we sEall see, coming from the shell, a little crown of 
feathers, all moving about gracefully, and being studded 
with small barbs, producing little currents in the water 
around. This action, so incessant, and so pleasing 
to our eye, is of great use to the animal in its native 
element ; for by these means the animalcules on which 



AjN'ISTELIDES. 


231 


it subsists are swept to tbe very entrance of its bouse, 
and enter into its mouth. 

Many other annelides, as well as molluscous animals 
enclosed in shells or tubes, gather nutriment in this 
way. The genera of sabella and terebella, which live 
in the sand all around our coasts, haye a very similar 
breathing apparatus to that of the spirorbis, and can 
also effect similar currents in the water around them. 
On sandy shores, our way on the smooth margin is 
sometimes quite strewed with the tubes of these 
animals. Those of the sabella alocolata bear some 
analogy to those of terebellse, but are much more com- 
pact and strong, since they are not buried in the 
sands, but are built one upon the other in large piles 
and archways above the surrounding beach and rocks, 
in situations where they are most open to the sea, but 
protected from the breakers. The deserted dwellings of 



TEREBELLA MEDUSA. 


the terebellse are pretty objects, for they are thickly 
studded with pieces of shells, mingled with the sand, 
and make, by their various forms and colours, quite a 


232 


A BOOK FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


piece of mosaic work. These tubes are, when the 
animal is living, inserted in the sand, with the upper 
part above the surface ; and when the tide washes over 
them, the little worms doubtless put forth their starry 
crowns of plumes, and seize their food. The long 
thread-like rays which are placed on the head can be 
lengthened or shortened at the will of the animal, and 
are long enough to be seen by the unassisted eye, 
though they need the aid of the microscope to exhibit 
their full beauty. They shrink up at the slightest 
touch ; but, when fearless and happy, they move about 
incessantly, now up, now down, or twisting in all 
manner of contortions. It is by means of these feelers 
that the little animal constructs its dwelling-place, 
the base of the tube being a membranous tissue 
on which the small stones and pieces of shell are laid, 
and to which they immediately adhere. Sometimes 
we find little pieces of the ridged cockle-shell, now 
a piece of purple mussel, now a scrap of the silvery 
anomia, interspersed with gay fragments of orange 
or brown scallop-shells ; while here and there some 
glittering stone, clear as crystal, or white as milk, or of 
dark brown, varies the materials. If we deprive the 
terebella of its tube, it loses no time in forming an- 
other ; and it will do this in a few hours, even in a 
vase of sea- water, if we supply it with some shell-sand 
and small stones. It is amusing to watch it at this 
employment, as it takes up the sand with its feelers. 
Its habits are thus described by Mr. Spence Bate in 
Annals of Natural History, 1851 : — 

“By the long feelers or tentacular cirri which 
surround its head, anything is grasped with which it 
may come into contact, such as minute shells, grains 
of sand, etc. These, upon being drawn near, are 
placed upon its mouth, the lower edge of which forms 
a prehensile lip. While resting here, it is, I presume, 
that the glutinous substance which when dried forms 
the membranous lining of the tube is poured over it. 
With its lip the creature places the sand upon its back, 


AN^ELIDES. 


283 


and then rolls itself over from side to side, and again 
puts forth its tentaculae in search of fresh building 
material. 

“ These tubes are buried in the sand, to the depth 
of about a foot or more, with one end above and open 
to the sea, at which extremity minuter ones branch 
off, giving it an arborescent appearance. 

“ Within its case the annehde has the power of 
moving freely and turning itself at will. Its pro- 
gressing movement is performed by means of setae, 
or oars, planted in thick muscular sheaths, which 
enable it to pass freely in one direction, but which, 
being directed backwards, wholly preclude a retrograde 
movement. The mechanism by which this latter 
power is executed, is by means of a long row of minute 
triple-pointed hooks, situated at the base of each set 
of setae ; each hook, which has three points at one 
extremity, is finished off with a blind hook at the 
opposite end, the whole of which turns upon a central 
hinge, so that by the elevation of the blind extremity, 
which is perhaps the ordinary position in which the 
apparatus rests when employed, precludes the triple- 
pointed hook from interfering with the advancement 
of the animal in its naturally confined abode ; but the 
instant that the blind or protecting hook is depressed, 
the sharp triple-pointed end becomes a most powerful 
agent to assist in its retiring within its own abode, 
and is, I believe, the only external instrument belong- 
ing to the worm possessed with this capability. 

“ These hook-like appendages are common to most 
of the tubicolse, but vary in form and shape, not only 
with genera, but species. 

“ The whole internal cavity of the worm in which 
the viscera exist is filled by a fluid, by means of 
which the animal moves, the loss of which entails 
destruction of motive power ; to preclude which, upon 
receiving any external wound, the animal will divide 
itself, by contraction of the annular muscles, above 
the inflicted injury. It also will perform the same 


234 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


act of bisection as a means of escape from the grasp 
of an enemy ; and this is done, not only without loss 
of any particle of fluid, but without any appearance 
of discomfort or pain to the animal.” 

Among the most frequent instances of these anne- 
lides we may mention some species of serpula, which 
form shelly white rugged tubes on different objects. 
If we can look in the fishermen’s nets we see great 
numbers of them, but every walk on the shore will 
also furnish us with some specimens. These white 
hollow tubes lie in clusters on oyster, or scallop, or 
other large shells, or coil upon stones, pieces of brick, 
or any other object which may have lain at the bottom 
of the sea. The species which we find most frequently 
is the worm-like serpula, {Serpula trequetra ,) which 
lies in groups variously intertwined, its tube being 
white, carinate d, tapering to a point, and irregularly 
twisted. But a larger species, the many -twisted 
serpula, {Serpula contortuplicata ,) is also often dredged 
up. Sometimes these tubes occur in clusters, and 
unattached to any shell or other material, and are 
several inches long. The animal within the tube is 
extremely beautiful and graceful, with the coronal of 
plumes, which, as we have seen, adorns so many of the 
annelides, and which, in this case, are most richly 
coloured. When the worm is at all alarmed it retreats 
entirely into its tube, but when at ease it is the 
liveliest of creatures, and waves its feathers of red, or 
yellow, or violet hue, up and down and round about 
as if it delighted in motion. In the other species these 
plumed rays are blue, and no tint of earth or sky can 
exceed the richness and depth of their azure. The 
serpulse exist in all seas, but in those of the tropics are 
far larger than in ours, and fragments of shells and 
other bodies are there speedily covered with large 
masses of these twisted tubes, from whence proceed 
the crowms of graceful and richly tinted feelers, needing 
no microscope to display them perfectly. 

There is a curious little worm-like creature, but 


AlO-ELIDES. 


235 


which belongs more properly to the echino dumata , 
called the shell-bearing sipuneulus, ( Sipuneulus bern- 
Jiardus,) which sometimes buries itself in the sand, 
sometimes hides under the shadow of a sea-rock, or 
a tuft of marine plants. It apparently has no skill 
with which to plan, or no material with which to con- 
struct a dwelling, yet its instinct enables it to turn to 
account the labours of others. Plenty of empty shells 
lie about the sandy shores — those of the periwinkle 
are everywhere, and one of these will serve it for a 
house it* the owner be dead, or have for any reason 
left its shell untenanted. Better adapted still to its 
long worm-shaped body is the horn-like tooth-shell, 
( JDentalium entails ,) and as these shells are frequent 
enough, our annelide is at no loss for a home. JSTor 
does it change its dwelling after it has once adopted 
it, but there it remains till it dies, altering it in some 
measure to suit its convenience, and securing the 
entrance of the shell by a plaster-work of sand. In 
the centre of this it leaves a small circular hole, just 
large enough to protrude its trunk, and this it sends 
out to a great distance, and moves about with ease in 
search of food. This curious animal is found on most 
parts of the British coast. 

Ah, what wonders lie in that sea, which human eye 
has never witnessed ! and to how many do the raging 
waves of winter sound like a mournful dirge ! It is 
painful to remember how many a stately bark has 
sunk in that ocean, freighted with all its loves and 
cares, and how much shorter is the average of life 
among sailors than among landsmen ; yet it is well to 
remember it, if it lead us to think kindly of those 
hardy men ever to be seen in our seaport towns. 
Washed as our island is by the sea, and dependent as 
we are for comfort, for necessaries, for luxuries, on the 
exertions of the fisherman and the mariner, surely the 
sailor has a claim on every British heart. Who is so 
fearless of life as that boatman on the beach, when 
the wrecked ship is lying off, and waves threatening 


236 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


every moment to engulf it in the deep ? What boat- 
man of Deal, for example, ever asked if there was a 
prospect of reward or payment, when in his boat he 
strove with the wind and the surge to rescue those 
who were ready to perish? What British sailor 
would leave the sinking or burning ship while there 
was the least hope of rescuing the woman or child 
from the peril of the fire and the waves ? Our 
sailors are brave and generous, but, alas ! many of 
them are thoughtless — perhaps no race of men more 
so. Shall we see them ever on the very verge of 
death and danger, and be indifferent as to their safety 
for this world and the next? Happily, in almost 
every town of our coast there are now people who are 
trying to benefit them, some by providing them with 
the necessaries of life, others by striving to relieve 
their spiritual wants. Let not the annual visit to the 
sea-side be a useless one to the sailor. The Christian 
has ever a work to do for Grod, and his work generally 
lies before him ; and the town in which he has dwelt 
for months should leave on the hearts and minds of 
some of its people some traces of his moral and spiritual 
influence — some token of his active labours. So long 
as there is a sailor in our ports without a Bible, so 
long as there is one who never goes up to the house 
of Grod, or otherwise shows that he knows not or cares 
not for the Saviour of sinners ; so long as there is one 
who is destitute, or sick, or dying, there is a work to 
do which should be dear to the heart of every Christian 
man and woman of Britain. 

But we must turn to the consideration of some of 
the contents of the waters, and then the numerous 
crustaceans will engage our attention. These are a 
very serviceable class of animals, and furnish a con- 
siderable amount of food to man, both in his savage 
and civilized conditions. This, however, is far from 
being the only purpose of their numbers in the sea, for 
so much refuse do they consume, that we may regard 


CRUSTACEANS. 


237 


it as their especial office to cleanse the deep of its 
putrifying remains. The crabs and lobsters, like the 
star-fishes, are endowed with a great appetite for food, 
and the power of digesting it in large quantities, 
besides that they are said to have a preference for such 
substances as are in the process of decomposition ; and 
possessing the carnivorous principle, they devour great 
multitudes of the living and the dead of the sea. 

The animals termed crustaceans are all covered with 
a brittle crust, like that of the crab, lobster, and shrimp. 
The crust of these animals is far less firm than the 
covering of the mollusca ; but, like that, it is made of 
materials gathered from the waters, mingled with a 
cellular structure developed by the living animal. 
Both coverings contain chitine # and calcareous earth, 
but in the shell of the mollusk there is a larger pro- 
portion of earth than in the covering of the crustacean. 
Crabs abound on our shores, and lobsters may some- 
times be found in the pools, or hidden among the 
sea- weeds on the rocks. These latter are less terres- 
trial in their habits than the former animals, some 
of them indeed in other climates being land-crabs, 
and going far inland. Wherever crabs abound they 
soon clear away the refuse of the shore. Their claws 
are remarkably strong, enabling them to hold firmly, 
and to tear quickly, any substance with which they 
come in contact, and they will soon rend away the 
flesh, and leave the exposed skeleton of any deceased 
animal. Most persons who have frequented the sea- 
side have felt how strong is their grasp, and how 
successfully they can pinch the finger of an assailant. 
Rather than relinquish their hold, they will leave the 
claw in the hand, and make their escape; and the 
member, like the arm of the star-fish, is parted with 
seemingly without pain, and in time is renewed again. 
An injured limb is thrown off by the animal by a violent 


* Chitine is an animal tissue found in most marine animals, and is 
indestructible in boiling potash or strong mineral acids. 


238 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


muscular exertion, finishing with a blow against some 
hard body ; the amputation being the work of a few 
seconds. It is, as before said, capable of being again 
renewed. A new limb is formed within the old shell, 
and is folded up until the skin is shed, when it appears 
as a part of the new skeleton, the sac-like membrane 
which protected it being cast with the periodical 
moult, and is larger or smaller in accordance with the 
length of time which may have passed between the 
period of the amputation of the limb and the casting 
of the skin. 

Though their sideway movements are somewhat 
contrary to our ideas of graceful motion, yet they can, 
on the approach of danger, run with a velocity which 
is surprising, and their quick movements obtained for 
one of the species the old name of cavalier or knight. 
Only throw a tiny pebble at a crab, and away it runs 
till it reaches the cleft of a rock under which it can 
hide, or attains a safe retreat beneath the branches of 
the large sea- weeds. The usual haunts of these crus- 
taceans are rocky places, where, though the sea reaches 
them, they are secure from the rough waves. Here 
they remain till the tide advances, when they come to 
the shore, and seize and devour all that they can find. 
They have a strong sense of smell, and if some dead 
sea-bird or other animal is lying on the sand, great 
numbers of crabs assemble around it; and they are 
said to clear away more refuse from the coast in the 
night than in the daytime. Sometimes a party of 
crabs will linger so long over their repast, that they 
cannot regain the sea in time, and as they are unable 
to swim, they are liable to be stranded in the shallow 
waters. If no hole of a rock, no tangling shelter of 
weeds offers a retreat, they contract their limbs under 
their bodies, and await as contentedly as may be the 
returning tide. It is while thus situated that numbers 
of our crabs are caught, for though many are taken in 
the creels or crab-baskets, yet this gives the fisher- 
men more trouble. When first seized they fight very 


CRUSTACEANS. 


239 


courageously, advancing their claws very firmly, and 
sometimes they snap them together. 

As to any inferior enemies which the crabs may have, 
they are so skilled in that running away which is 
jocosely called the better part of valour, and are so 
c unnin g and dexterous in reaching a retreat which is 
inaccessible to their pursuers, that they have little to 
dread from any foe but man. Something of this skill 
in adapting themselves to circumstances is manifested 
in species which make their habitual dwelling within 
the valves of the shell-fish. Thus there is one little 
crab, which being fully conscious of the insufficient 
protection afforded by its thin and fragile crust, makes 
for itself a home between the valves of the pinna or 
the mussel. This is the pea-crab, (Pinnotheres pisum,') 
which is often found in its lodging when mussels are 
opened. Old legends termed this little crustacean the 
guardian of the pinna, and related that it warned its 
hospitable host of the coming danger by pinching or 
knocking against the shell, on which the mussel closed 
its valves against the incursion of the cuttle-fish or 
other enemy. What ears ever heard the knocking of 
the crab, or what eye ever saw the movement, the old 
naturalists do not record; but even a century back 
the statement seems to have been generally believed, 
though the defencelessness of the crab, rather than its 
friendship for the mussel, is probably the cause of the 
companionship. 

Crab-fishing is often a serviceable means of main- 
tenance to a fisherman, for although these animals are 
sold at little price, yet the mode of catching them 
enables the fisher to take other prey at nearly the 
same time. The men take in their boats crab-pots or 
creels, and also fishing-lines. The creels, which being 
made of wicker-work are a kind of basket, contain 
bait of little pieces of the thornback, or skate, which 
are attached to the bottom, and some stones being 
placed in the creel to secure its descent, it is let down, 
sometimes twenty fathoms deep, the fisherman being 


240 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


guided by bis knowledge of the ground as to the spot 
and its depth, and preferring a rocky bottom, as the 
known haunt of these animals. The creel is formed 
upon the same principle as some mousetraps, which 
renders the process of getting in much easier than that 
of getting out ; and as many creels are placed together, 
and the bait can be seen and smelt too, large numbers 
of these devouring creatures enter the baskets, and 
shrimps, prawns, and lobsters are often found in their 
company. Meantime the fishermen, having well marked 
the spot where they have placed their creels, can pro- 
ceed to a distance, and pursue their fishing with lines 
or nets. In a few hours the owner of the creels 
returns, and takes them up ; the crabs are then carried 
about for sale, either boiled or in the condition in 
which they are brought up from the sea. 

At one period of the year the crustaceans lose their 
covering, and a new one gradually forms in its stead. 
This is at first but a thin skin ; and at this period the 
animal would be easily injured, did it not, for awhile, 
keep well hid among the rocks. The large edible crab 
( Cancer jgagurus ) is well known, and its flesh is very 
good, and perhaps the best in flavour of any of our 
British species ; though just at the time when it is 
changing its coat it is soft and watery. This, however, 
is not the case with all crabs, for some of those of the 
West Indian and American shores are then in greatest 
perfection. A writer in the American Cyclopaedia 
observes : “ Myriads of crabs are caught on the shores 
of the rivers and creeks of the Chesapeake Bay when 
in their soft state, and sold to great advantage. The 
epicure who has never tasted soft crabs should hasten 
to Baltimore, Annapolis, or Euston in Maryland, in 
July and August, to make himself acquainted with 
one of the highest luxuries of the table.” 

Our large edible crab (Cancer pagur us) is taken, on 
rocky shores, all round this island ; another common 
though much handsomer species, the velvet crab, 
(Portunus puber,) is much sought after for the delicacy 


CRUSTACEANS. 


241 


of its flavour in the Channel Islands. It is about 
two inches and a half long, and is common on our 
coasts as well as on those of the continent ; the Trench 
call it crabe a laine , or crdbe espagnol. The common 
shore-crab, ( Carcinus mcenas ,) the least esteemed of 
all the kinds which are taken by our fishermen, is 
abundant everywhere, and is sometimes sold, but is 
more often used for bait. 

There are some strange-looking crabs, called spider 
crabs, which are too much like the animal after which 
they are named to be very attractive. This kind is 
very common on the shores of the Mediterranean, and 
is called the sea-spider. The maia of the Greeks 
is among the largest of this kind of crustacean, and 
the ancients attributed to it a great degree of wisdom, 
and believed it to be sensible to the charms of music. 

One of the most frequent species on our shores is 
that called the hermit, or soldier crab, (Pagurus bern- 
hardus .) This animal has for its covering a very soft 
thin crust, unfitting it for moving about among rocks 
or stones, and rendering it constantly liable to outward 
injury. With a singular instinct, implanted in the 
defenceless creature by its Maker, it encases itself in 
some empty shell which it may find lying on the shore. 
It always selects a spiral shell, like that of the whelk or 
sea-snail, and pushing itself into it backwards, holds 
itself in among the coils. It is most amusing to 
watch one of these crabs which has outgrown its house. 
It cannot make this larger, and has no resource but to 
look out, as any other housekeeper might do, in search 
of a new dwelling. Our crab is not easily suited. 
One is too large, and another too small ; until after 
having pushed itself into several, and emerged as duly 
from each, it finds one to which it can adjust itself. 
Sometimes two of these crabs will fight vigorously for 
the possession of an untenanted shell, and then the 
conqueror becomes a true hermit, never leaving his 
cave until his increased size requires a further change. 
It is almost impossible to drag one of these little 

R 


242 


A BOOK FOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


creatures from its habitation ; for when menaced with 
danger it retreats far into the shell, and will sooner 
part with a claw than come forth ; so that it is only 
after its death that we can examine it. It walks 
along the shore, or at the bottom of the sea, with a 
slow motion ; and, by means of its strong claws, either 
tears the sea-weeds for food, or seizes the small living 
things of the waters which are its destined prey. It 
is chiefly to be seen during the summer or autumnal 
season. 

The lobster, like the crab, # is a great devourer of 
putrid substances, and is therefore very useful in the 
waters, as well as a great source of food to man. It 
fights very courageously before it will suffer itself to be 
taken ; and it has such wonderful celerity of movement, 
that even if we are fortunate enough to find a lobster 
among the rocks, it requires much address to secure 
the prey. It can move either backward or forward in 
the water, and dart into a hole smaller, as it would 
seem, than its body. This animal is supposed to be 
very long-lived, and it was said in the days of Pliny 
that its life sometimes exceeds in length that of a man. 
M. Latreille saw a lobster nearly six feet long from 
one extremity to another, and thence inferred that its 
age was very great. It subsists on small fish, sea- 
worms, mollusks, and everything drowned in the sea ; 
and in times of scarcity, especially during its change 
of skin, the lobster will devour its fellow. When near 
the shore it keeps very close to the rocks. It is much 
more alert in summer than at other seasons, and 
fishermen have seen these animals spring very long 
distances at this time. They usually catch them in 
nets ; but unless the w r ater is very thick they can take 
none in the daytime, nor will the lobster enter the 
nets on nights when the sea is remarkably phos- 

* Such is the common opinion as to crabs ; but its correctness may 
be doubted ; for a friend writing to us says that he kept crabs much, 
but never saw one touch a piece of putrid food : they rejected all but 
the freshest of animal matter. 


CRUSTACEANS. 


243 


phorescent. Occasionally, on a wintry day, we find a 
poor lobster lying among the rocks so benumbed with 
cold that it cannot raise a claw against us. 

Three species of shrimp are pretty general on our 
shores. They are often taken on the sands by nets 
fastened to the end of a stick, carried by barefooted 
boys, who wade into the water, pushing it before them. 
The common shrimp, ( Crangon vulgaris ,) the Crevette 
of the Trench, is very frequent and abundant ; and so 
is the white prawn, (Palcemon squillai) The prawn 
( Palcemon serratus ) is a great delicacy, and a common 
article of the breakfast table at the sea-coast, and the 
wave often brings a fine specimen to the beach, or 
leaves it to finish its days among the rocks. The 
flesh of this crustacean is considered less indigestible 
than that of most of the tribe, and has even been 
recommended by physicians as a suitable food to 
persons in a state of debility. In the Levant prawns 
are salted, and preserved in large baskets, constructed 
chiefly of the leaves of the palm-tree. In this state 
they are forwarded to Constantinople, Smyrna, and 
various towns of Turkey, where great numbers of them 
are consumed during Lent and other seasons appro- 
priated to fasting by the Greek church. Several fish 
show a great predilection for a dinner of prawns, and 
come near to the shore to devour them ; but they, 
like the lobster, are gifted with such amazing quickness 
of movement that they often escape from their enemies. 
They usually swim forward in the water, using their 
feet under the tail as they might do fins ; but when 
danger seems nigh, and they wish to quicken their 
speed, they can alter their course, and move backwards 
or sideways, by means chiefly of the extremities of 
their fan-like tails, which strike the water in front and 
carry the body backwards. 

The whole of this class of animals have the power 
of casting their skins, and the process is thus described 
by Mr. C. Spence Bate in the Annals of Natural 
History for 1851. He says — “ The manner in which 


244 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


the crab seems to free itself of its extraneous covering 
is by the internal growth of the animal. The increased 
bulk acting upon the principle of the lever, the trans- 
verse growth becomes compressed within the limits of 
the old carapace, which induces an increase of dimen- 
sion in the contrary direction, and the first sign which 
I have noticed of the approaching change in the 
animal’s economy is an increase in its thickness, 
whereby the segments of the abdomen become more 
conspicuous from above. As this increases, the crab 
wanders about in search of a retired spot, and often 
becomes very savage, darting at anything which ap- 
proaches it, until at length the moment draws near, 
when it hitches the point of one of its claws in some 
crack or crevice, and withdraws itself from its old skin, 
escaping between the carapace and abdomen. The 
moment it becomes free, the full size to which it 
grows, until it again throws off the shell, is attained. 

“ They seem to have the power of retaining their 
shell at will, until suitable circumstances both as to 
time and place occur for casting it with security ; for 
in many instances I have seen them both before and 
even after the process had commenced, and patiently 
watched for hours at a time without success, yet upon 
retiring after a few minutes’ absence I have found the 
exuviae shed. 

“ When they have thrown off the old skeleton they 
are very liable to become the prey of larger animals 
both of their own and other species, of which they 
themselves seem aware ; and being excited by fear are 
much more active and less easily caught than at any 
other period.” 

Among the various crustaceans known to our shores 
the barnacles have a claim to notice. The sessile 
barnacle or balanus, of which there are many kinds, is 
known to every one on the shore, for it encrusts our 
piers as with a stony covering, crowds on the oyster 
shells, the scallops, the rocks, the drift wood, and 
stones, either in the sea or just out of it, often en- 


CRUSTACEANS. 


245 


crusting vessels, especially about the helm. This is 
commonly called the sea acorn, and the shell is com- 
posed of several pieces, altogether forming a cone. 
Our common specimens are small, but sometimes we 
find this an inch long. The other kind of barnacle is 
not so frequent, though often covering masses of wood 
which the storm brings. It is called the stalked 
barnacle, ( JPentelasmis anotifera ,) and its shell of five 
pieces is at the end of a long stalk of a, reddish colour. 
The shell itself is 
very pretty and 
clear, with a bluish 
tint. These bar- 
nacles are often 
seen in clusters, not 
only on floating 
wood, but also on 
the keels of ships. 

In China, a deli- 
cious dish is made 
of these animals, 
which in boiling 
turn from red to 
white. They are 
described as resem- 
bling the lobster in flavour. The crustaceans which 
make these shells are very beautifully formed, and 
have arms like little feathers, which they put out 
between the valves of their shells when they catch 
their food. Ho one, to look at any of these barna- 
cles, could imagine that they were once active creatures, 
swimming vigorously and freely about in the waters, 
instead of being fixed to wood or stone. But in 
their first period of existence, they are covered only 
with a thin crust, and have limbs and a tail which 
adapt them for making their way in the watery world, 
in which for a period they freely run about, as it were, 
in search of their future residence. 




BARNACLES. 


SCARBOROUGH. 


CHAPTEB IX. 

SEA- ANEMONES, CORALLINES, AND OTHER ZOOPHYTES. 

How beautiful is the sea to-day, and smooth even as 
a sea of glass ! with only one small ridge of foam at its 
very edge, sounding, too, as it falls, like a low murmur 
of sweet music. It must have been just on such a day 
as this that the poet penned that comparison — 

“Lovely to look on as the tranquil main, 

When in his noonward track the unclouded sun 
Tints the green wave with every hue of heaven.” 

The few pillowy clouds which float over the blue sky 
seem all passing onwards and away, and the thin 



SEA-AKEMONES. 


247 


vapour which shimmers over the beach tells of the 
heated atmosphere. Many little groups, and some few 
solitary ones, are sitting on the rocks, or beneath the 
shadow of the boats, with books, or needlework, or 
pencil, or are lounging in an attitude of dreamy repose 
with eyes fixed on the waters. Children — busy, rest- 
less, laughing children — are toiling unweariedly, spite 
of the sunshine, digging trenches in the sand or 
raising it into mounds, which the afternoon tide shall 
sweep before it, as ruthlessly as Time will level many 
a castle which some dreamers yonder are building in 
the air. 

This is a good day for the invalid to lie on the beach, 
or to be drawn over the sands in an easy chair ; and 
as we who have frames free from pain, and strength of 
limb for motion, look on the pallid and weak one, we 
should not only thank Grod for our exemption from 
suffering, but breathe a prayer of intercession for the 
sick stranger or friend. Nor would the time be ill 
employed, if, laying aside book or pencil, we could, 
with gentle tone and look of kindness, strive to give an 
hour of amusement to one whose usual place may be 
the couch of pain and the chamber of solitude. No 
sufferer should seem to us as a stranger. A pale face 
should ever awaken sympathy. Those who are much 
alone are glad to listen to the tones of a cheerful 
voice ; those much in pain, to be beguiled of sadness. 
And who knows but that on a heart made susceptible 
by sickness, and thoughtful by isolating from the cares 
and vanities of life, we may not, as friendship and con- 
fidence increase, speak some word that may, through 
GTod’s grace, fall like a seed into a moistened soil, and 
spring up into a plant of grace to bear fruits of holi- 
ness ? That seed has fallen in the heart under all 
circumstances. Sometimes, when its owner was in the 
midst of youth, and joy, and hope; sometimes in the 
sunshine ; sometimes in the storm ; yet perhaps under 
no circumstances has it come to the heart more fre- 
quently, and more deeply, than in the hour of pain, 


248 


A BOOK FOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


and when something more than human sympathy was 
needed by the sufferer. 

Though a day like this may render a long walk un- 
desirable, yet it is exactly suited for strolling to the 
rocks, to see those wonderful and beautiful things the 
sea-ahemohes. Look at those rocks on a cloudless 



SEA -ANEMONES AND OTHEli ACTINLffi 


morning, and what a scene of beauty lies before ns ! 
Those craggy masses, from whose points hang large 
sea-plants which the high tide will cover, are all exposed 
now, and the barnacles and the limpets lie in their 
shelly caves in multitudes around. The little channels 
at the base of the rocks are clear as crystal and 
gleaming like silver; while the bright green lavers 
and the silky-tufted plants of deep red, or rosy pink, 
or grassy green, are making it look like a fairy forest. 
But what other garden shall display such wealth of 
gorgeous flowers ? The tulips and anemones, with all 
their varied and brilliant hues ; the sunflowers, with 
their starry forms and golden tints, are outrivalled by 
these sea-flowers ; and purple, and orange, and blue, 
and amethyst, and green, and yellow, are brighter on 


SEA- ANEMONE S . 


249 


this rock than they are on any flower-bed : for travel- 
lers who have looked on the plants of even tropical 
lands tell how far richer in colouring than those are 
these lovely flowers of the sea. 

And yet, though they look so like flowers, they are 
not really so. Can we doubt that they live and feel ; 
that they have instincts and longings, when we see 
those starry petals moving up and down, till some 
shrimp comes within the grasp and is quickly swallowed, 
or some crab, or even shell-fish is devoured? The 
shrimp is lively and agile, and the anemone is rooted 
to the spot ; yet the little crustacean is no match for 
the soft flower-like animal, which, low as it is in the 
scale of life and feeling, yet seems almost endowed 
with cunning when seizing its food. Like many 
another delicate creature of the sea, it has power in 
its touch, and whenever those rays shall meet the 
shrimp or crab, they hold it firm. 

But the anemone cannot hurt us, so we may venture 
to place the finger within its rays. If we do this ever 
so slightly, the animal will resent the impertinence, 
and will hold the finger with much tenacity, and per- 
chance leave a tingling sensation in its point even 
after it is withdrawn. When clouds are gathering 
over the sky the anemones will fold up all their beauty 
and long anticipate the coming rain or nightly cold, 
by shrinking up into a dull-looking conical lump of 
flesh of a reddish or olive brown colour. When we 
see our rocks covered with these fleshy lumps, which 
refuse to open into flowers to a passing sunbeam, it is 
likely that ere to-morrow’s sun has set some storm 
will come over the waves. Even when half contracted, 
and just opening wide enough to enable us to see some- 
thing of their rays, we must not expect a smooth 
sea, as this is foretold only by their opening wide to 
the sunlight. The Abbe Dicquemare, who kept them 
long in vessels of sea-water, says that they serve as 
excellent barometers, though when preserved for this 
purpose they must not be fed, as the amount of food 


250 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


might, one way or other, influence their predictions. 
There would be no cruelty in this, as they do not 
seem to require more food than they can receive from 
the salt water, which is full of microscopic animals, 
both palatable and nutritious to them. The vessel in 
which they are contained should not be allowed to be 
sullied by any slime or sediment, and these should be 
carefully removed with a camel’s hair pencil, in such 
a manner as to avoid giving any shock to the sensitive 
anemones. 

Although these flower-like animals are to be looked 
for chiefly on the rocks which are washed by the sea 
at high tide, yet we find them also adhering to shells, 
stones, and similar substances. They attach themselves 
so firmly to these, that we can with difficulty remove 
them ; and the safest way of doing so is by cutting, 
where it is possible, a piece of the surface to which 
they adhere. This strong hold is effected by means 
not ascertained, but probably similar to those used by 
the limpet. When they choose to remove to a distance 
they can do so by relaxing their hold, and gliding 
slowly along, using probably the same power of motion 
as the limpet, and moving perhaps at the rate of half 
an inch in five minutes ; or they can at will inflate 
their bodies, and thus rendering them buoyant, cast 
themselves uncontrolled to the movements of the 
waves, suspended feet upwards at the surface of the 
water. 

There is one species of these animals, the spotted 
sea-anemone, which is often said to be in a kind of 
friendly alliance with the hermit crab, fixing itself on 
the lip of the shell which is its dwelling-place, and 
making there a horny membrane to which it attaches 
its base. Dr. Coldstream remarks that the case thus 
formed on the old shell by the horny membrane, and 
covered by the anemone, he has invariably found to be 
inhabited by the hermit crab. Dr. Landsborough 
says, “ I have kept one of these pretty sea-anemones 
for some days in sea-water. It had fastened itself to 


SEA-ANEMONES. 


251 


a little fragment of a screw shell, ( Turrit ello ,) but its 
co-tenant in the inside was not a hermit crab, but a 
pretty red annelide. Be this as it may, certain it is 
that on this occasion we found that the spotted 
anemone had fastened itself to the outer lip of many 
of the large roaring buckies (common whelks) brought 
up ; and wherever there was an anemone without, 
there we found a hermit within. In all likelihood 
they in various ways did each other good. The 
hermit has strong claws, and while he is feasting on 
the prey he has caught, many spare crumbs may fall 
to the share of his gentle-looking companion. But 
soft and gentle-looking though the anemone he, it 
has a hundred hands ; and woe to the wandering wight 
who comes within the reach of one of them, for all the 
other hands are instantly brought to its aid, and the 
hermit may soon find that he is more than compensated 
for the crumbs that fall from his own booty.” 

Thousands of that most common species the fig 
marigold sea-anemone ( Actinia mesembryanthemwri) 
may sometimes he seen adorning a line of our rocky 
shore between the tide-marks. It is of a liver colour, 
with a broad margin around its base, which margin is 
edged with a narrow rim of brightest blue, and around 
the central opening at the upper part of the animal 
there is a little circle of blue spots, not quite so large 
as an ordinary pearl. This anemone is a very cleanly 
animal, liking best the purest water. And when the 
tide comes rippling in, and filling all the pools about 
the shore, then these animals, which before seemed 
only so many knobs of dark flesh, open to the sun their 
starry rays, and when mingling with other species look 
more beautiful than flowers which our conservatories 
can show ; the water over them just serving as a 
crystal veil, through which we discern their clear rays 
of olive, or liver colour ; while the rays of some of 
their gayer companions are purple, or scarlet, or straw- 
colour, or green, or pink, or of snow-like whiteness. 
One pretty grass-green species, (the green corynactis ,) 


252 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


described by Professor Allman as growing on the 
shores of Ireland, and which has since been found on 
the Cornish coast, is so changeable in its form that it 
perpetually exhibits itself under some new shape. 
Now it is like an hour-glass, and again it resembles a 
round leaf on a stalk, assuming too all sorts of positions, 
though its favourite attitude seems that of hanging 
from the rock in the form of a daisy. “ Corynactis 
viridis ,” says the Professor, “ is a charming little 
animal, and by no means rare in the locality where I 
discovered it ; the brilliancy of its colours, and the 
great elegance of its flower-like rays, when fully 
expanded, render it eminently attractive ; hundreds 
may often be seen in a single pool, and few sights will 
be retained with greater pleasure by the naturalist 
than that presented by these little zoophytes, as they 
spread abroad their green and rosy crowns, amid the 
sea- weeds and millepores, and plumy corals, co-tenants 
of their rocky vases.” 

It is very interesting to watch these animals for a 
length of time ; and by so doing we shall discover that 
several species have habits of their own, not partaken 
by other kinds. Thus some of them collect small 
pieces of broken shells, or perfect minute ones, or 
clusters of sand and little stones, placing them on 
their soft bodies as if they designed them for a 
coat of armour : and a very pretty small kind, the 
cave-loving anemone, ( Actinia troglodytes ,) is really a 
dweller in cells, for it lives in a hole in the soft slaty 
rock, exactly fitted to the size of its body ; and when 
the water reaches it, it puts forth its daisy-like feelers 
and displays its loveliness. Touch it, however, even 
most gently, and the beautiful flower is in a moment 
safely ensconced in its cavity, so as to be almost lost 
to sight. Sometimes when a little colony of these sea- 
anemones have established themselves among the rocks, 
the tide washes up a thin layer of sand, covering the 
surface all over. But the Grod who bade these little 
creatures find their homes in the rocks, left them not 


SEA-ANEMONES. 


253 


unprovided with instincts to meet the emergencies of 
their condition. The anemone knows how to rid 
itself of the annoyance ; and setting to work with its 
petal-like feelers, and at the same time pouring out 
currents of water from its mouth, it soon makes a hole 
through the sand, and when the tide flows, its crown 
is as plainly to be seen as ever. And when again the 
water is off the rocks, and the animal retreats into the 
cavity and can be seen no longer, its dwelling-place 
would hardly be betrayed by the hole in the sand 
which it has made, for it is only such as the common 
lug- worm would have pierced in its twisting progress 
through the mass. Bocks already made like honey- 
combs by the stone-piercers are very excellent places 
for these animals ; and our little anchorites do not' 
fail to use them, by colonizing there to a great extent 
in the ready-made caves. 

The prettiest of all our common species, and one 
very often to be seen on our rocky shores, is the purple 
sea-anemone, {Actinia crassicornis .) It is also one of 
the largest; though the one which exceeds all the 
British species in this particular is the Anthea tuedia , 
which, when relaxed, measures about three inches in 
length, and the same in diameter. Nothing can exceed 
the vividness of the tints of the species called the 
purple anemone, though they are not always of the 
colour by which they are called. There are several 
varieties, so that sometimes when we find a large 
group of these animals, we may, on a single sea-rock, 
see every colour of the rainbow, and every modification 
of these colours. One is of a rich scarlet, thickly 
studded with pale warts, like so many beads ; and 
some are described as having “jackets red as a Kentish 
cherry.” Cream-coloured or white kinds we are sure 
to see among them ; and rich, though delicate yellow ; 
and olive green, with orange stripes, “borrowing,” as 
Dr. Johnston says, “the hue of the wild rose,” are 
not unfrequent. Again, we find one reminding us of 
the purple silky garden anemone in its colour ; or, by 


254 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


its still deeper hue, of the violet of the wood ; while 
the brightest of tulips is neither gayer nor more 
varied than others. JSTo description can convey an 
idea of their beauty — a beauty too to he seen in sun- 
shine, almost wherever there are rocks a little way in 
the sea, at high tide. This species, also, is eaten, and 
it appears, from the Abbe Dicquemare, that several 
kinds combine, after being boiled in sea- water, to form 
a dish for the epicure. The late Dr. J ohnston remarks 
on the Abbe’s description of this diet, “ I dare to say 
that sea-anemones are not less a luxury than the sea- 
urchins of the tasteful Greeks, or the snails of the 
Homan epicures ; but I have not been tempted to test 
its truth. Bondeletius having, as I think, the purple 
sea-anemone in view, is an older witness to its dainti- 
ness ; and he tells us that it brings a good price at 
Bourdeaux : — £ Ils la lavent fort e souvent , 'puis la 
fricassent legierement en la poele .’ 4 It is well and 

frequently washed, and then fried lightly.’ 4 Actinia 
dianthus also is good to eat,’ quoth Dicquemare ; and 
Plancus directs the cook to dress this after the manner 
of dressing oysters, with which it is frequently eaten. 
Even the hot and peppery anthea has its praise ; from 
it they prepare the dish called rastegna, which is a 
favourite in Provence.” More recently we have it 
upon the authority and taste of Mr. G-osse, who has 
eaten them both fried and boiled, but recommends 
his friends to try the latter only. 

Sometimes, when these animals are offended by our 
touch, they will, like the ascidians, retaliate by jerking 
a fountain of water in our face as we are stooping over 
them; and some species will, under irritation, give 
out flashes of green phosphorescent light in the dark. 
If put into fresh water they will, like many other 
marine animals, die instantly. Yet the tenacity of life 
which is usually exhibited by these creatures is extra- 
ordinary. They have been immersed in water so hot 
as to blister the skin ; yet lived on, in so far as could 
be discovered, in enjoyment of their strange drowsy 


ZOOPHYTES. 


255 


existence. They have been frozen in a mass of ice, 
and afterwards thawed ; have been placed within the 
exhausted receiver of an air-pump ; have been cut in 
halves and quarters; been deprived of their rays, — 
and yet lived; in the latter cases reproducing the 
mutilated portion, or gradually forming into two or 
four separate anemones instead of one, or if cut exactly 
in halves, sometimes reuniting. 

More than twenty species are described as British 
sea-anemones, but several others have been recently 
discovered. The French call them orties de mer , (sea- 
nettles,) as some of them on being touched sting, or 
rather tingle the flesh ; while this power is the means 
by which they destroy prey which, like the crab and 
the oyster, are so much larger than themselves, and 
apparently so well defended. 

The sea-anemones are zoophytes, a word w'hich 
signifies that they are animal plants ; yet they are in 
no respect plants, only resembling them in their flower- 
like forms and colours, and in the rooted condition of 
some of the species. They are true animals, though 
with a low organization. Zoophytes appear to have 
little life, and yet mere worms of this tribe have 
exerted a singular and powerful influence on the con- 
dition of man — an influence greater than that of any 
other animal, or indeed of all other animals together ; 
while they have executed works compared to w r hich 
man’s proudest monuments of art are frail indeed. 
The coral isles of the tropical seas have all been reared 
by the incessant toil of little worms in infinite numbers 
— busy workers, which, with “ subtle chemistry,” have 
drawn from the sea, as from a quarry, the lime with 
which to construct these w r orks. Countless genera- 
tions have thus toiled on, and are toiling still, bringing 
up new islands which seem as if they would turn the 
equatorial seas into dry land. Dr. Maculloch elo- 
quently describes their labours : — “ Their plants are 
made of stone, and they build dwellings. Dwellings ! 
— they construct islands and continents for the habita- 


256 


A BOOK FOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


tion of man. The labours of a worm which man can 
barely see form mountains like the Apennines, and 
regions to which Britain is as nothing. The invisible, 
insensible toil of an ephemeral point conspiring with 
others in one great design, working unseen, unheard, 
but for ever guided by volition — that one volition 
which cannot err — converts the liquid water into the 
solid rock, the deep ocean into dry land, and extends 
the dominion of man, who sees it not, and knows it 
not, over regions which even his ships had scarcely 
traversed. This is the great Pacific Ocean, destined, 
perhaps, at some future day, to be a world. That 
same power which has thus wrought by means which 
blind man would have despised as inadequate, by means 
which he has but just discovered, here, too, shows the 
versatility, the contrast of its resources. In one hour 
it lets loose the raging engines, not of its wrath, but 
of its benevolence ; and the volcano and the earthquake 
lift up to the clouds the prop and foundation of new 
worlds, that from those clouds they may draw down the 
sources of the river, the waters of fertility and plenty. 

But though we have some small corals, yet we have 
no coral reefs, needing the skilful pilotage of the vessel 
to escape their dangers. Yet we have animals very 
similar to those of the coral structures, and of exactly 
the same race of beings, doing a little work in gathering 
from the ocean the materials of stony or horny fabrics. 
Some of these are so frequent that every one who has 
visited the shore must have seen them; and yet so 
little are zoophytes generally known, that few are aware 
of their existence on every strand. 1ST or need we wonder 
that even the well-educated are not acquainted with 
them. It is but of recent years that they have been 
known to the scientific man, and none who had not 
carefully examined them with a microscope could pos- 

* It would appear, from the most recent and trustworthy researches 
that the coral islands of the Pacific are not so completely due to the 
zoophyte as was formerly supposed, and that they commence their 
structure on the tops of submarine mountains. 


ZOOPHYTES.- 


257 


sibly suspect their animal origin. Few even now have 
seen the polypes, which, united by one line to each 
other, dwell in the horny spray, that horny spray being 
itself a part of them, as much as our nails are a part of 
us. Well may we ask, as we look at these zoophytes, 
What is an individual? Now as we see the polypes 
beneath the microscope, each one a living, moving, 
sensitive worm, we pronounce them a number of indi- 
viduals ; but when we examine the little cord which 
binds them all into one, we call them and their skeleton 
or horny case a single zoophyte. Not a wave beats 
upon the shore but there may lie one of these beautiful 
and singular creatures. The plant-like sprays hang like 
elegant little bushes or trees from the sea-weed ; gather 
on every oyster and scallop, and many other shells ; 
cluster in groups on the mermaid’s purses ; cover the 
stones with tangling masses ; or, detached from the 
rocks beneath the waves, lie among the pebbles, to be 
blown hither and thither by the breeze. Pity it is 
that objects so beautiful and graceful should lie around 
us all unknown and unconsidered. Would that we 
could induce, not the few, but the many, to search 
them out, and examine — to derive from them that joy 
which we ourselves have experienced while observing 
their marvellous motions and structure, till the spirit 
has been bowed with reverence before the Creator 
whose skill designed and formed them, and faith has 
taken a fresh hold on Giod the Saviour from the proofs 
of his power and love. 

Some of the commonest zoophytes equal in grace 
and symmetry any of the objects of earth or sea. We 
would describe them to the reader who may not know 
them as sprays of a sand or horn colour, looking much 
like sea-weeds, and also, like them, tough and leathery, 
having, when dry, a brittle nature. They are never 
smooth and glossy, but are rough to the touch ; and 
many, when fresh from the water, look clear and like 
fine branches made of amber. The form of zoophyte 
which we are now describing is better known to thos6 
s 


258 


A EOOE FOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


who have not studied them by the name of coralline — 
a name, as we have seen, also belonging to some 
branched sea-weeds encrusted with lime, which were 
long believed to be zoophytes. Many of our horn- 
coloured corallines grow on any object indifferently ; 
but some seem especially to prefer various sea- weeds 
or shells. Thus a species, called the bottle-brush 
coralline, clusters in long sprays on old valves of 
shells ; another seems always to prefer such shells as 
have only one valve ; a third grows on sand or rock ; 
some cover the whole frond of the tangle or other sea- 
weed; and some wind like tangling threads about 
larger corallines. Many grow only down deep in the 
sea, deeper than even the sea- weeds themselves can 
vegetate ; and though we find them in scattered tufts, 
were doubtless affixed to shells and stones below. 

blow there is nothing about these corallines which 
would at a glance at all identify them with the sea- 
flowers which grow on the rock, or with those which 
make the corals. But the reason is, that when we see 
these sprays, the polypes which reside there are either 
dead from having long lain out of the water, or they 
have shrunk up into the shells which are on each side 
of those tiny branches. JSTot even the cells, in each of 
which a worm resides, can be traced by the naked eye. 
But place one of the sprays beneath even an ordinary 
microscope, and they are evident enough, and wonder- 
ful and beautiful too. All down the branches of this 
horny skeleton we may see little cups, some looking 
like bells or vases. But to see the living zoophyte 
our specimen must be fresh. Our microscope need 
not be of great power. This will show us that each 
little animal which puts its feelers out of the cell is 
shaped like a lovely starry flower, such as a daisy or 
marigold ; while each feeler, representing the petal of 
the flower, is covered with minute hairs, which, as the 
feelers move up and down in ever restless motion, make 
small currents in the water, bringing the animalcules 
which it contains to the mouth of the polype. 


ZOOPHYTES. 


259 


The author of this book was once residing in a sea- 
coast town, when a lecture on zoophytes was announced 
as about to be given by an intelligent naturalist who 
lived there. The lecturer promised to exhibit these 
flower-like creatures to the audience, and many assem- 
bled to see what living zoophytes could be like. When 
one of these horny corallines was held up to the assem- 
bled hearers, a murmur of surprise went round the 
room. “ Was that a zoophyte ?” Every one had seen 
it before, and all knew that in five minutes’ walk on 
the neighbouring beach he could assuredly find many 
such. Most had thought it a pretty, graceful sea- weed. 
The polypes were unfortunately rather languid on 
that evening. They would not come out of their cells. 
The spray was shaken and struck in order to irritate 
them, and the light brought to bear right upon them, 
but they lingered yet. Suddenly the lecturer exclaimed, 
with all the joyous simplicity and enthusiasm of a man 
of science, “ Here they are! oh, here they are!” and 
it was well for the reputation of the science that they 
did appear, for some there were actually denying the 
possibility of their existence. But these men were 
little used to hidden wonders, and had not walked the 
world with eyes open as had the lecturer. And now 
with the help of the microscope many gazed at these 
elegant and active little creatures, looking, as the gas- 
light shone down upon them, like living flowers of 
pure silver ; their threadlike rays surrounding the top 
of their exquisitely formed cells, and moving on, moving 
ever, in restless motion. 

When a number of the zoophytes have been dredged 
from the sea, and been afterwards looked at in a dark 
place, they have been seen to be beautifully illuminated, 
putting forth little lamps all down the branches, so that 
each notch which we see there, and know to be a cell, 
has, at its summit, a small star of bright light. One 
of these, the knotted- thread coralline, ( Laomedea gelati- 
nosa ,) is described by Dr. Landsborough as “ very 
luminous, every cell for a few minutes being a star ; 


260 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


and as each polype had a will of its own, they lighted 
and extinguished their little lamps, not simultaneously, 
but with rapid irregularity ; so that this running fire 
had a very lively appearance.” In other experiments 
these corallines were briskly handled and scattered 
about ; and the little polypes not only emitted the most 
brilliant lights, but also a strong odour of phosphorus. 
Nothing can exceed the beauty of a sight like this, 
when a great number of these corallines, entangled 
among each other by their branches, are shaken in a 
mass, and the starry lights come sparkling forth, either 
as tokens of their own alarm, or as endeavours to 
frighten their enemies. Some such cause seems neces- 
sary to account for their lights, which are never ex- 
hibited to the naturalist save when the polypes are 
irritated; though down in the deep sea they are, 
perhaps, an important addition to the light ; and they 
may also contribute to the phosphorescence of the 
wave which sparkles on the shore. 

Crabbe had evidently marked a circumstance at 
that time little known : — 

“ While thus with pleasing wonder you inspect 
Treasures, the vulgar in their scorn reject, 

See, as they float along, the entangled weeds 
Slowly approach, upborne by bladdery beads ; 

Wait till they land, and you shall then behold 
The fiery sparks those tangled fronds enfold ; 

Myriads of living points ; the unaided eye 
Can but the fire and not the form descry.” 

The difficulty of describing these corallines in fami- 
liar terms will preclude our referring to many species ; 
but our engravings, by representing a few, will, it is 
hoped, enable the reader to gain some idea of the 
general appearance of these zoophytes. Scarcely any is 
more often presented to our view than that elegant 
species called the sea-fir, ( Sertularia abietina ,) which 
grows in tufts on many shells, and is so common on 
the rock-oyster, that it would be impossible to see a 
number of these shell-fish without it. It is like a 


ZOOPHYTES, 


261 



SERTULARIA ABIETINA, OR SEA-FIR. 



SERTULAR1A OPERCULATA, OR SEA-HAIR, 

(i natural size.) 


262 A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

little horn-coloured tree, of the shape of a fir-branch, 
is flat, and has a somewhat zigzag stem. It varies in 
height from four to twelve 
inches, and the cells have 
the appearance, to the naked 
eye, of small notches, or teeth, 
on both sides of the branches. 
Under the microscope these 
may be seen to be of the 
shape of a Florence flask; 
and when the zoophyte is 
living, little daisy-like flowers 
appear on the summit, moving 
their rays or feelers with 
great quickness, lengthening 
or shortening them with 
amazing celerity ; and, when 
they choose, withdrawing 
themselves entirely from our 
gaze within their little vases. 

Several species of the sertu- 
laria are to be found among 
our most common corallines ; 
and one which might be 
gathered up from any pebbly 
or sandy margin of the sea 
is well named sea-hair, (/S 'ertularia operculata.) It 
appears to the eye like a tuft of delicate threads, from , 
two to four, or sometimes to twelve inches high. 
Every wanderer by the shore admires this lovely little 
plant-like object. Children collect it, and keep it 
among their stores ; and many besides children carry 
away these corallines to place among the shells on 
the mantelpiece. The corallines preserve their form 
and general appearance much better than the sea- 
weeds ; and in those little collections sold in the 
shops at sea-port towns, either in groups or on the 
successive pages of small books, this zoophyte takes a 
conspicuous part. As has been observed, had it been 



MAGNIFIED PORTION OF THE 
SEA-FIR. 


ZOOPHYTES. 


263 


called the nereid’s hair, its name would not have been 
inappropriate ; for a more elegant object never waved 
in that watery world 
which the nereids were 
of old believed to haunt ; 
and no festoon wreathed 
about sea- cave or sea- 
plant with more grace- 
ful garlands. 

At one time of the 
year, little silver-look- 
ing pods, scarcely larger 
than a pin’s point, yet 
easily seen by the naked 
eye, grow in abundance 
on this coralline, each 
having a little lid or 
valve. The small notches 
down both sides of the 
stems and branches are 
the dwelling-places of 
the polypes, and are 
seen by means of the 
microscope to have great 
elegance of form. Some- 
times this coralline grows 
in such quantities on 
some of our larger sea-weeds as quite to hide them 
with its tufts ; and the author has seen a thick stem 
of the tangle so entirely covered with it as to resemble 
the tail of a fox. Darwin’s lines addressed to these 
supposed nereids refer to the corallines : — 

“ You chase the warrior shark, and cumbrous whale, 

And guard the mermaid in her briny vale ; 

Feed the live petals of her insect flowers, 

Her shell- wrack gardens, and her sea-fan bowers ; 

With ores and gems adorn her coral cell, 

And drop a pearl in every gaping shell.” 

Many of our corallines have familiar names given 



264 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


them, from their resemblance to the common objects 
which they resemble. Thus one is called sickle-heard, 
because of its curled form. There are others known by 
the names of bottle-brush, herringbone, squirrel’s tail, 
sea-tamarisk, sea-oak, sea-cypress. We have besides 
snail-trefoil corallines, and podded corallines; sea- 
spleenwort, sea-bristles, sea-thread, and the lmotted- 
thread corallines. Several are distinguished by the 
forms which are exhibited by their vesicles, or their 
cells, under a microscope. Thus we have the small 
climbing coralline, with bell-shaped cups ; the creeping 
bell-coralline ; the lily, or pomegranate-flowering coral- 
line, the cells of which have an exact resemblance to 
a bell-flower, or to the half-expanded blossoms after 
which they are called. 

The common sic- 
kle-beard, ( JPlumu - 
lariafalcato^) which 
is here represented, 
both in its natural 
and magnified con- 
ditions, is common 
everywhere, in its 
detached state on 
the beach, and 
grows on stones, 
sea- weeds, shells, 
and various marine 
objects. A com- 
mon-sized specimen 
is here represented, 
but it is often much 
larger than this. 

Some of the spe- 
cies of plumularia 
are much prettier 
in form than even 
this kind; but they are less frequent. Dr. Lands- 
borough describes the impression made by their beauty 



PLUMULARIA FALCATA, OR SICKLE-BEARD, 

(■ natural size.) 


ZOOPHYTES. 


265 


on some of the men who went with him on a dredging 
excursion to Lamlash bay. “ Our boatmen,” he 
says, “were surprised at the avidity with which 
we grasped at whatever was growing upon the scallops. 
Among other things, there were beautiful specimens 
of plumularia catfarina , and plumularia pinnata ; 
zoophytes which certainly have nothing in their 
appearance to recommend them in their state of 
collapse, when removed from their native element. 
Taking one of the finest fronds of the pinnate 
plumularia, I dipped it in water, and told them to 
look at it now. It had spread out into an elegant 
white plume; and, regarding it with surprise, they 



MAGNIFIED PORTION OF THE SICKLE-BEARD. 

said they ‘ did not think that there was anything so 
bonnie to be got in the bay.’ Another Arran fisher- 
man, however, having brought up from the deep a fine 


266 


A BOOK BOB THE SEA-SIDE. 


specimen of the pheasant’ s-tail coralline, took it home 
as a curiosity to his wife ; and she, being no less 
tasteful than her husband, planted it in earth in an 
old tea-pot, and, carefully watering it each day with 
fresh water, had the satisfaction of imagining that it 
grew every day beneath her fostering care.” “ Be 
that as it may,” adds this delightful writer, “ it came 
unwithered into my possession, and its vesicles are 
embalmed in my friend Dr. J ohnston’s £ History of 
British Zoophytes,’ as being the first vesicles of this 
species that had ever been observed.” 

A very common zoophyte, called the tubular coral- 
line, ( Tubulario indivisa ,) is composed of a number of 
tubes large enough to be well seen ; each tube being 
usually about the size of a grass stem. These are 
all entangled at the base, twisting among each other, 
so as to give this zoophyte the appearance of being the 
root of a sea-weed. They grow in an erect position on 
stones, or sponges, or other marine things, and when 
first brought up by the waves, we may see in each 
tube a small pink knob. If we happen to have a 
bottle of sea-water near, this knob is soon seen to be 
but an unfolded star-like polype, clearly discernible by 
the naked eye, its small feelers moving about in all 
directions. In a few days these flowers fall off into 
the water, but they often retain life and movement 
for some hours after their fall, while new ones soon 
succeed them on the top of the tubes. A naturalist 
who saw this tubular coralline in a clear but deep 
rocky pool, says that the beauty of the little pink 
starry flowers, when seen in great numbers and per- 
petual motion, is beyond all description. The tuft of 
empty tubes is one of the commonest objects on the 
beach after stormy weather. It is horn-coloured, and 
the tubes are usually about three or four inches high, 
though they sometimes attain the height of twelve 
inches. 

There are zoophytes far less universally diffused than 
these, though found in some parts of our seas, which 


ZOOPHYTES. 


267 


are of a firmer structure, and much larger than the 
corallines, ( Gorgonia .) They are called sea-fans, and 
look like flat branches of a stony tree. Many are 
brought to our museums and houses by mariners who 
have visited far distant oceans, and they are very 
generally known in their dried condition. 

The zoophytes called sea-pens are less uncommon 
on some parts of our shores, but are more frequently 
brought up from deep water, sticking in the fishermen’s 
lines. So like quills are these, that, as Lamarck 
observed, “It seems as if nature in producing this 
compound animal wished to copy the exterior form of 
a bird’s feather.” Nor is this the only instance in 
which the great Designer of nature has given external 
resemblance to objects very different in themselves. 
If the zoophyte resembles a flower or a plume, so does 
the flower resemble an animal ; and the bee and fly- 
orchis, with their fragile petals, would remind us of 
the humming or buzzing insects which are flying near 
them. 

The sea-pens are very luminous, the polypes all 
down their sides giving out, while in a state of vivacity, 
most brilliant sparks of light. “ A more singular and 
beautiful spectacle,” says Dr. Grant, “ cannot be ima- 
gined than that of a deep purple sea-pen, ( Pennotula 
yjihosphorea ,) with all its delicate transparent polypi 
expanded and emitting their usual brilliant phospho- 
rescent light, sailing through the still and dark abyss 
by the regular and synchronous pulsations of the 
minute fringed arms of the whole polypi.” 

Darwin, in his “ Journal of Researches,” describes a 
sea-pen found in South America. He says that it 
consists of a thin, straight, fleshy stem, with alternate 
rows of polypi on each side, and surrounding an elastic 
stony axis. This is the case with all the sea-pens, as 
the framework or skeleton of these zoophytes is internal, 
and the fleshy portion outside ; their structure being 
the very reverse of that of the corallines. At low 
water he saw hundreds of these zoophytes, projecting 


268 


A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


like stubble a few inches above the surface of the 
sand, and this too is just the position in which our 
British species are found. “ When touched or pulled,” 
says this writer, “ they suddenly draw themselves in 
with force, so as nearly or quite to disappear. By this 
action the highly elastic axis must be bent at the lower 
extremity, where it is naturally slightly curved ; and I 
imagine it is by this elasticity alone that the zoophyte 
is enabled to rise again through the mud. Each 
polypus, though closely united to its brethren, has a 
distinct mouth, body, and tentacula. In a large speci- 
men there must be many thousands of these polypi ; 
yet we see that they act by one movement ; they have 
also one central axis, connected with a system of 
obscure circulation.” He adds, “ It is always interest- 
ing to discover the foundations of the strange tales 
of old voyagers, and I have no doubt but the habits 
of the sea-pen explain one in such a case. Captain 
Lancaster, in his voyage in 1601, narrates that in the 
island of Sombrero in the East Indies he found ‘a 
small twig growing up like a tree ; and on offering 
to pluck it up it shrinks down to the ground, unless 
held very hard. On being plucked up a great worm 
is found to be its root, and as the tree groweth in 
greatness, so doth the worm diminish ; and as soon as 
the worm is entirely turned into a tree, it rooteth in 
the earth, and so becomes great. This transformation 
is one of the strangest wonders that I saw in all my 
travels ; for if this tree is plucked up while young, and 
the leaves and bark stripped off, it becomes a hard 
stone, when dry, much like white coral : thus is the 
worm twice transformed into different natures. Of 
these we gathered and brought home many. 5 ” Such 
are the glimpses of truth bequeathed to us by early 
naturalists. 

The sea-fans have the skeleton within the polypes, 
and when alive and bending before the waves are very 
beautiful, especially in the waters of tropical seas, 
where the mariner can see the ground far below him. 


ZOOPHYTES. 


269 


We prize them as curiosities, though we do not attach 
to them any of that superstitious veneration which is 
given to a nearly allied species of zoophyte. This is 
the sea-tree, (JPrimnoa lepadifera ,) and the fishermen 
keep it as a protection against storms. When fishing 
for the red fish, ( Perea marina ,) which is found in 
great plenty where the sea-trees grow, the line and 
net of the fishermen are often entangled by being 
wound about these branches by the fish. When the 
line is drawn up, it brings with it the branch which 
tore it. The fishermen say that these trees grow as 
large as those in our forests, but this is doubtful. 
This species is found on the coasts of the Shetland 
Isles and of Aberdeenshire. 

But we must return to some of the zoophytes which 
are strewn over the shores, so as to be observed by us 
all. All have seen on old shells and stones brought up 
from the sea, especially if they have been present at 
the coming in of a fishing-boat, some curious half 
fleshy, half spongy substances, called by the fishermen 
dead man’s fingers, or dead man’s hands, and which a 
Trench fisherman would tell you were mains de mer. 
This zoophyte is the Alcyonium digitatum of the 
naturalist, and is most frequently composed of a 
number of lobes like fingers, though often it is of a 
single piece, not larger than a thumb. Indeed it 
assumes a variety of forms. These zoophytes at first 
are by no means, like the corallines or sea-anemones, 
attractive objects, but they are interesting as being 
the link between the zoophyte and the sponge. We 
might turn from them with disgust, if unaware of 
their interesting and singular structure. Their tough 
leathery skins are studded all over with little starry 
figures, which, if we look closely, are evident to the 
unaided eye. They are formed of eight rays, in the 
midst of which there is a little aperture, scarcely 
larger than a needle’s point, but easily seen. When 
the zoophyte is living, the eight somewhat thick arms 
of the polypus emerge from each of these openings, 


270 


A. BOOK EOE THE SEA-SIDE. 


looking like so many flowers. This zoophyte is a 
beautiful object, and it is one which may be seen by 
any one who will take home a specimen freshly brought 
up from the sea, and will place it in a vessel of water. 

We have some zoophytes which make their cells in 
a snow-white calcareous crust, which is spread over 
some of the sea- weeds; others, called the sea-scurfs, 
encrust some sea-plants with a sand-coloured net- 
work, so as to spoil them as specimens for the 
herbarium, though in themselves these clustered cells 
and polypi are most beautiful and graceful creatures. 
In different species these cells are variously formed, 
and the outward appearance, too, differs materially. 
Thus some look like silvery patches on the objects to 
which they are attached ; and some are greyish white ; 
others brown and glittering. One not unfrequent 
species ( Lepralia pediostoma) resembles a delicate 
gauze-work, spread over stones and shells, forming 
large patches of a light crimson, or sometimes of a 
pure white, with glassy lustre ; another is of a beau- 
tiful orange red, and some of a fine lilac purple. Some 
look like webs of lace, and in several kinds the cells 
are discoverable by the naked eye. 

There is not a more frequent zoophyte, nor indeed 
a more common marine object of any kind, than the 
great hornwrack, ( Flustra foliacea .) Every one who 
ever spent a day on the shore has seen it there. It is 
called lemon weed, because when burnt it has the 
odour of that fruit ; and, when fresh from the sea, has 
often the scent of violets, though this disappears in dry- 
ing, and many specimens are scentless. An immense 
number of polypes reside in one of these sea-mats, 
and Dr. Landsborough, speaking of another kind of 
hornwrack, the membranaceous sea-mat, ( Flustra mem- 
Iranacea ,) which forms a beautiful gauze-like incrusta- 
tion on marine weeds, says that the light which 
proceeds from it is very beautiful, for as the cells are 
so closely and regularly arranged, it exhibits when 
shaken a simultaneous blaze, and becomes for a little 


ZOOPHYTES. 


271 


while like a sheet 
of fire. The common 
hornwrack looks some- 
thing like a crisp sand- 
coloured leaf, cut into 
many rounded lobes, 
and is brittle and rough 
to the touch. The 
wind blows hundreds 
of specimens on the 
beach every day ; and 
if, reader, you have 
brought from the sea- 
side any little heap of 
sea-plants and coral- 
lines, you may go 
and look at them, for 
be assured you will 
find among them the 
broad- leaved horn- 
wrack. Old writers 
called it the “ curious 
sea-weed.” 

We have selected 
for our engraving a 
specimen of the car- 
bacea sea-mat, ( Flus - 
tra carbacea ,) which, 
though less general 
than the broad-leaved 
kind, is shaped some- 
what like it, and the 
cells here represented 
will also help to give 
the reader some idea 
of the structure as 
seen under the micro- 
scope. It is frequent 
on some shores. An 



flustra oarbacea, {natural size.) 



MAGNIFIED PORTION OF THE SEA-MAT. 


272 A BOOK BOR THE SEA-SIDE. 

ordinary specimen presents about ten square inches 
of surface, and Dr. Grant calculates that this is the 
home of more than 18,000 polypi. Like the polypi 
so often described, they are living flowers, with their 
slender rays ever active, and each ray having down its 
side minute little processes like hairs. 

Linnaeus named the genus jiustra , from flustro , to 
weave ; and they are commonly known on the coast as 
sea-mats. JSTo one unacquainted with natural history 
would believe them to be animal productions. Some 
of the smaller sea-mats are prettier than the large ones, 
looking like little tufts cut out of ivory, or tinted with 
a pale yellow colour. One very frequent kind, called 
the paper sea-mat, ( Flustra chartacea ,) is about the 
substance of a thin pasteboard; very slender, semi- 
transparent, and shining, and of a pale straw colour, 
sometimes tinged with pink. 

"Wonderful is it to think that little plantlike objects 
should be the home of so many living creatures, 
that they contain a larger population than London or 
Paris, while each one is as perfect and beautifully 
formed as is the larger animal of the desert or the 
wood. 

There is a soft pellucid substance thicker than a 
jelly, and more nearly resembling a wet sponge, though 
retaining its form even when cast on the pebbles. 
This is a common zoophyte, and it was termed by the 
old writers, who supposed it to be a plant, the knotty 
spongy fucus. The modern naturalist calls it the 
Alcyonidium gelatinosum. It grows in deep water, 
attached to old shells and stones, but the waves often 
throw it up from the sea. It is usually from six to 
twelve inches long, but occasionally a specimen is found 
which attains the length of two feet. It is often irre- 
gularly branched and knobbed, varying in hue from 
the colour of wet sand to a clear yellow, when it looks 
as if made of barley sugar. Little dots appear on the 
surface which are produced by the polypes just beneath, 
and which, when they emerge, have the usual appear- 



ZOOPHYTES. 


273 


ance of these starry animals. Johnson, the editor of 
Gerard's Herbal , thus describes it : — “ This is a very 
succulent and fungous plant, of the thicknesse of one’s 
thumbe ; it is of a dark yellowish colour, and buncheth 
forth on everie side with many unequal tuberosities or 
knots ; whereupon Mr. Thomas Hickes, being in. our 
companie, did fitly name it ragged sea-staffe.” And 
this homely description is very accurate, save that the 
object is an animal. 

As in many other departments of the science, marine 
discoveries are continually being made of new species 
of zoophytes. For many centuries such as were 
common were described as sea- weeds ; and naturalists 
never suspected that living polypes nestled in their 
tubes and cells. It is scarcely more than a century 
since they have been found to have any affinity to the 
sea-anemones. These were long described as a link 
between the animal and vegetable kingdoms — half 
plant, half animal. Several naturalists, however, had 
begun to doubt whether they were at all of a vegetable 
nature, when John Ellis, a London merchant, and a 
great lover of natural history, felt convinced, by his 
own observation, that the corallines were animal pro- 
ductions ; and with the true modesty of science, he 
stated what he called his “ suspicions” to the Royal 
Society. This was in June 1752 ; and later in the 
same year these suspicions were confirmed into 
certainty, and he stated his conviction that “these 
apparent plants were ramified animals in their proper 
skins and cases, fixed to shells, oysters, mussels, and 
others.” Then followed his admirable treatise on the 
corallines and other marine productions of our shores ; 
a work well illustrated by engravings of the corallines, 
both in their natural and magnified conditions. To 
him we owe most of those familiar names, which liken 
them to well-known things. The late Dr. Johnston, 
of Berwick, a worthy successor of Ellis in this study, 
referring to this book, says : “ It is a work so complete 
and accurate that it remains an unscarred monument 


274 A BOOK FOB THE SEA-SIDE. 

of his well-earned reputation as a philosophical inquirer ; 
and is, even to this day, the principal source of our 
knowledge in this department . 55 

Those whose love of grace and elegance induces 
them to group sea- weeds and corallines on paper, may 
he pleased to know that John Ellis had a great fond- 
ness for this amusement, and that it is to the pleasure 
which he took in it that we are indebted for the dis- 
covery of the animal nature of the corallines. He 
was induced to examine their beautiful sprays with a 
microscope, and saw the cells and their flower-like 
inhabitants, and found that these were all united into 
one by “a tender thready line 55 to the fleshy part 
which occupies the centre of the spray. The presumed 
plant he ascertained to be the skin or covering, and as 
much an animal structure as the horn of the beast, 
the shell of the tortoise, or the nail of the human 
hand. 

The skeletons, or cases, whether strong or calcareous, 
membro-calcareous, or horny and flexible, are all com- 
posed of the same materials — lime, and a gelatinous 
or membraneous substance called chitine, the peculiar 
character of each depending on the different propor- 
tions in which these are mixed. 

Low in the scale of animal life as the zoophytes 
must be, rooted as many are to one place, susceptible 
of division by the knife, and yet preserving vitality, 
still we have in our seas a yet lower form of life. This 
is the sponge. John Ellis it was who also proved the 
sponge to be an animal. "We have many native sponges, 
chiefly of a branched form, but growing sometimes in 
little mounds, tufts, and crests upon rocks, or lying 
about the shore at the roots of the sea- weeds, or coral- 
lines, which have been forced by the sea from their 
attachments on the rocks. Many of our native species 
grow at about the point of low-water mark, where, 
though washed by the tide, they are daily left 
uncovered. A common sort, the branched sponge, 
(Ilalichondrici oculato ,) may be seen frequently on our 


ZOOPHYTES. 


275 


shore among the refuse of the waves. It is composed 
of branches about the size of a goose-quill, usually on 
a stem a liftle thicker, and is often a foot long. Its 
colour is that of a light sand. Pew of our native kinds 
have any bright tints, but those of hot climates are 
often remarkably beautiful in form and brilliant in hue. 
Backhouse, in his “ Travels in Van Diemen’s Land,” 
describes a remarkable bank of sponges on the shores 
of the bay at Circular Head, which was several 
hundred yards long, and more than a yard thick. He 
also observed several banks of smaller dimensions and 
of numerous and curious species. “ Sponges, as we see 
them in England,” says this writer, “are merely 
skeletons. In their living state, those upon this coast 
are filled with a scarlet, crimson, or bright yellow pulp, 
and covered with a thin skin. They are of great 
beauty when seen in clear water.” 

The sponges of our toilette, as well as the British 
species which we find lying on the beach, are indeed 
mere frameworks ; and few readers, unless they be 
naturalists, have seen a living sponge, for it is not a 
very frequent sight, and must be looked for if found. 
The canals and pores of a sponge while living are filled 
with a thin jelly-like fluid, which is seen by the aid of 
the microscope to be entirely formed of minute grains 
with some moisture. That portion of the sponge which 
we generally find on the shore is simply the skeleton, 
the animal having died on exposure to air. This 
framework in some species consists of horny and 
elastic fibres, in others it is of a firm unbending tissue, 
full of little crystallized sharp points called spiculse, 
which form exquisite objects for the microscope. 
These abound in most of our British sponges, rendering 
them unfit for domestic purposes. 

It would be impossible here to describe sponges. 
In the higher forms of animal life, the individuals of 
one species have all resemblances which may be stated, 
but sponges, even of the same kind, differ from each 
other in figure and development too much to admit of 


276 


A BOOK EOR THE SEA-SIDE. 


popular description. Most wonderful processes take 
place in the living animal. Dr. Grant, once, while 
observing one under a microscope in some sea-water, 
perceived an inward motion in the opaque particles 
floating through the water. He brought one of the 
apertures of the sponge immediately into view, and 
thus describes the wonderful spectacle which it pre- 
sented. “ 1 beheld,” he says, “ for the first time, this 
living fountain giving forth, from a circular cavity, an 
impetuous torrent of liquid matter, and hurling along, 
in rapid succession, opaque masses which it strewed 
everywhere around. The beauty and novelty of such 
a scene in the animal kingdom long arrested my 
attention, but after twenty-five minutes of constant 
observation, I was obliged to withdraw my eye, from 
fatigue, without having seen the torrent for one instant 
change its direction, or diminish in the slightest 
degree the rapidity of its course.” Our engraving 
represents the action of a living sponge, discharging 



ACTION OF A LIVING SPONGE. 

the water downwards ; and many naturalists have 
since beheld a sight seldom seen by the unscientific 
observer. When the animal of the sponge dies, of 
course this action ceases entirely. 

But we have come to one of the lowest known 
forms of animal life — a form of which we actually know 


ZOOPHYTES. 


277 


but little. We cannot judge bow far sucb an animal 
can suffer or enjoy ; but we see that the Great 
Creator has fitted it for existence, and adapted it to 
its condition. Well might Job, in contemplating the 
wonders of his hand, exclaim, “ He bindeth the floods 
from overflowing ; and the thing that is hid bringeth 
he forth to light. But where shall wisdom be found ? 
and where is the place of understanding P The depth 
says, It is not in me : and the sea says, It is not with 
me.” Yes, we may love and admire the wonders of 
the sea, yet never gain that fear of the Lord which 
is understanding. Strange that careful, considering 
men can look on the marvellous things of the deep, 
and never trace the marks of the hand that wrought 
them ; nor is it less strange, that having traced and 
acknowledged them, they can doubt whether Grod has 
given a higher revelation of himself to the inquiring 
spirit. Were it not so, we could but feel that the 
adaptation of the sponge to its circumstances is far 
greater than of us to ours. We have longings for 
immortality ; yet what does earth promise ? Sickness 
and death. We have, more or less, a consciousness of 
guilt ; yet what does nature tell of pardon and hope ? 
Nothing, absolutely nothing ! Our friends, like those 
creatures of the sea, are making the earth, like its 
waters, one vast burial-place ; but nature, with all its 
teachings, reveals no haven of rest for the weary spirit ; 
breathes no promise of reunion with the beloved. Oh ! 
if there were no higher manifestation of Grod than 
even his glorious works of earth, and sea, and sky, 
well might the heart sink at life’s trials ; well might 
we fear to live, and fear to die. But he has magnified 
his word above all his name ; and while the written 
record represents the Lord that created the heavens, 
Grod himself that formed the earth and made it — “ a 
just G-od and a Saviour,” as saying, “Look unto me, 
and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth,” and while 
the declaration rests, that “ Christ died even for the 


278 A BOOK EOR THE sea-side. 

ungodly,” there may be hope, there may be joy in 
every lot of human life ; and all who by the grace of 
the Holy Spirit have come to that Divine Saviour 
with a lowly but confident faith, may live on in 
calm hopefulness, and commit their parting spirits 
to him. 


INDEX. 


Alaeia, esculent, 167. 
Alexander, the, 26. 

Ammonite, the, 12. 

Angler fish, the, 59. 

Anomia, saddle, 108. 

— waved, 108. 

Annelides described, 226. 
Anthea, the, 253. 

Ascidia, the, 78. 

Ascidians, 76. 

Atherine, or sand-smelt, 64. 
Auk, the razor-bill, 211. 
little, 211. 

Barnacle, the, 245. 

Beach, the, described ; its stones, 
flowers, shells, and countless 
number of pebbles, etc., 71 — 73. 
Beet, the common, 29. 

Bernicle- goose, 206. 

Beroe, globular, 149. 

Bird’s-foot stars, etc., 136. 

Black cormorant, 213. 

Bladder- chain, fennel-like and 
fibrous, 161. 

heath- like, 162. 

granulated, 162. 

Bladder- chain, 155. 

Botryllus, various kinds of, 80. 
Brent-goose, 206. 

Brill, the, 65. 

Brittle star-fish, 133. 


Broom-rape, blue, 32. 

, red, 32. 

Bryopsis, feathery, 187. 

, mossy, 187. 

Buckshorn plantain, 75. 
Butt-horn, 137. 

Calamary, the, 123. 

Camomile, starry sea-side, 75. 
Carrageen moss, 179. 

Centaury, common, 27. 
Ceramium, various species of, 
181. 

Channel Islands, beauty of the ; 
St. Helier’s, Guernsey, Mount 
Edgcumbe, 3, 4. 

Childish phasianella, 118. 

Cicla, the, 29. 

Cliff-cabbage, 23. 

Cliffs, plants of the, 16; their 
beauty and variety, 17. 
Coal-fish, 49. 

Cockle, the common, 97. 

spiny, 98. 

Compressed enteromorpha, 188. 
Convolvulus, the, 128. 

Corals, remarkable fact of, 45. 
Coralline, strong-jointed, 183. 

, knotted- thread, 259. 

, tubular, 266. 

Corallines, variety of, 258— 264. 
Corynactis, green, 252. 


280 


INDEX. 


Cottus, long-spined, 55. 

, short- spined, 56. 

Cowries, 113. 

Crab, the edible, 240. 

— — , the pea, 239. 

, the shore, 241. 

, the soldier, 241. 

, the velvet, 240. 

Crab fishing, 239. 

Cross-fish, the, 134. 

Crustaceans described, 236. 
Curlew, the, 223. 

Cushion-stars, 136. 

Cuttle-fishes, description of, 120. 
Cyanea, hairy, 148. 

, scarlet, 144. 

Cyprina, the island, 97. 

Dab, the, 65. 

Delesseria, oak-leaved, 173. 

, dock-leaved, 172. 

Discordant crenella, 101. 
Dog-fish, 67. 

periwinkle, 113. 

whelk, 116. 

Donax, truncated, 96. 

Duck, the burrow, or shield - 
drake, 204. 

, the eider, 201. 

, the scaup, 202. 

, the tufted, 203. 

Dunlin, or purre, 221. 

English and Irish Channels, depth 
of the, 7. 

English stone-crop, 34. 

Esculent alaria, 167. 

iridaea, 173. 

False wentletrap, 118. 

Faroe psammobia, 93. 

Father lasher, 55. 

Fennel, common, 30. 


Fishes ; forms, habits, uses, 
beauty, and variety of ; sounds 
emitted by, 40 — 45. 

anecdote of, 40. 

, phosphorescence of, 142, 

143. 

Flounder, the, 65. 

Flying-fish, their structure, etc., 
described, 40. 

Fucus, channelled, 161. 

, bladder, 157. 

, knobbed, 156. 

, serrated, 160. 

, spongy, 272. 

Furcellaria, forked, 180. 

Furze, the, 22. 

Gannet, or solan-goose, 215. 
Gar-fish, or sea-pike, 62. 
Gemmeous dragonet, 59. 
Gigartina, entangled, 180. 
Gilt-head, or golden maid, 57. 
Gipsy-herring, 50. 

Glasswort, the, 128. 

Globular beroe, 149. 

Goby, freckled, 59. 

Golden aurelia, 148. 

maid, 57. 

Gooseander, the, 207. 

Grass- wrack, 203. 

Great weever, or sea-cat, 61. 
Grebe, the, 208. 

Greenland and Spitzbergen ; ex- 
traordinary depth of the sea 
at, 7 . 

Grey canoe-shell, 110. 

plover, 220. 

Griffithsia, bristly, 181. 
Guernsey, beauty of the banks 
at, 3. 

Guillemot, the black, 211. 

, the common, 209. 

Gull, the black-headed, 199. 


INDEX, 


281 


Gull, the comihon, 198, 

, the kittiwake, 200. 

Gunnel, or butter-fish, 57. 
Gurnard, grey, 54. 

, red, 54. 

, cuckoo, 54. 

Hair-flag, the, 182. 

Hairy cyanea, 148. 

Heart isocardia, 97. 

Herring, the, 48. 

fishery, the, noticed, 48. 

Horn wrack, the, 270. 

Horned or sea-side poppy, 73. 
Hyalea, three-spined, 109. 

Ianthina, 116. 

Island cyprina, 97. 

Ivory ramalina, 21. 

John Dory, the, 63. 

Knot, the, 222. 

Laminarise, 165. 

Large top-shell, 113. 

Laver, the green, 189. 

, the ribbon, 189. 

, the true, 190. 

Lichina, the, 21. 

Limpet, the common, 111. 

, fools-cap, 112. 

, keyhole, 112. 

Ling, the, 50. 

Lug- worm, the, 229. 
Lump-sucker, 66. 

Mackerel, the, 45 — 48. 
Mackerel-midge, 47. 

Mactra, the white, 95. 

solid, 95. 

Marine mollusks, 76. 


Medusae, or j elly-fish ; their lumi- 
nous properties, 141 — 144. 
Melobesia, calcareous, 185. 

, many-formed, 184. 

Michaelmas daisy, 128. 
Microscope, power of the, 10. 
Moss, carrageen, 179. 

, tubercled, 179. 

Mountain garlic, 130. 

Muddy red trochus, 113. 

Mullet, red, 53. 

, striped-red, 52. 

, grey, 64. 

Murex, or rock-shell, 116. 
Mussel, the common, 99. 

, the horse, 100. 

Mya, truncated, 91. 

Nacre, or mother-of-pearl ; vari- 
ous ornaments made from, 89. 
Native Americans, custom of, 88. 
Nature, regularity of its opera- 
tions; reflections, 8. 
Nottingham catchfly, 28. 

Oarweed, bulbous, 165. 

Ocean, the, reflections on ; its 
grandeur and beauty, 2; its 
vast stores of life, influence on 
the earth, etc., 3 ; its depth 
unknown, constant agitation 
of its waves, 5, 7 ; fitness for 
purposes of civilization, 7 ; its 
various tints, 7 ; constancy and 
regularity of its tides, 8. 
Orpine, the, 35. 

Otter-pike, or sting-fish, 60. 
Oyster catcher, 224. 

, the native, 107. 

, the pearly, 108. 

Parasitic polysiphonia, 156. 
Peacock’s- tail padina, 169. 
Pectinated pinna, 101. 


282 


INDEX. 


Pepper- dulse, 178. 

Pepper-wort, broad-leaved, 30. 
Periwinkle, the, 118. 

dog, 113. 

Phyllophora, the, 180. 

Pilchard, the, 50 ; extraordinary 
voracity of, 51. 

Pilchard fishery, the, noticed, 51. 
Pintail, the, 204. 

Piper, the, 140. 

Plaice, the, 65. 

Plovers, 220. 

Pochard, or dun-bird, 203. 
Podded halidrys, or sea- shrub, 163. 
Pod razor shell, the, 92. 
Polysiphonia, 171, 172. 

Poor man’s pepper, 30. 

Porphyra, the, 190. 

Poulpe, or preke, 121. 
Psammobia, 93. 

Ptilota, feathery, 180. 

Puffin, or coulter-neb, 211. 
Purple-egg urchin, 140. 

Purres, 220. 

Bay, the, 68. 

Kazor-fish, 91. 

Bed broom-rape, 32. 

Bed-fish, 269. 

Bed gurnard, 54. 

Bedshank, the, 222. 

Bemora, the, 66. 

Bhodymenia, palmate, 174. 

, ciliated, 177. 

Bing-plover, 221. 

Bock cladophora, 187. 

shell, 116. 

Bose, burnet, 129. 

, dwarf-fruited, 130. 

Bosy feather-star, 132. 

Sabre razor- shell, 93. 

Salt-marsh club-rush, 127. 


Samphire, referred to by Shak- 
speare, 18. 

Sand-piper, the common^ 223. 

, purple, 222. 

Sanderlings, the, 221. 

Sand-hills, drifting of, 126. 
Sand-ripples, 126. 

Sand-stars, 136. 

Saxicava, the rough, 85. 

Scallop, the great, 105. 

, lid and speckled, 105. 

, tiger, 105. 

Scarlet, or dock-leaved delesseria, 
172. 

dasya, 183. 

Scottish primrose, 32. 
Screw-shell, the, 251. 
Scurvy-grass, 128. 

Sea-air favourable to health, and 
beneficial in disease, 4. 
Sea-anemone, cave-loving, 252. 

, fig-marigold, 251. 

, purple, 253. 

Sea -anemones, corallines, etc., 
described, 246 — 250. 

Sea-beet, 29. 

Sea-belt, 164. 

Sea-birds described, 195—198. 
Sea-bream, 62. 

Sea-buckthorn, 129. 

Sea-campion, 28. 

Sea-carrot, 27. 

Sea-cat, 61. 

Sea- cliffs, thoughts on, 10. 
Sea-cypress, 33. 

Sea-egg, or urchin, 137. 

Sea-fans, 267. 

Sea-fig, 80. 

Sea-fir, 260. 

Sea-girdle, 165. 

Sea-grape, 20. 

Sea-grimmia, 34. 

Sea-hair, 262. 


INDEX. 


283 


Sea-hare, 117. 

Sea-holly, 128. 

Sea-kale, 26. 

Sea-laces, 167. 

Sea-lavender, 28. 

Sea-leaf, or calamary, 123. 
Sea-lyme grass, 127. 

Sea-magpie, 224. 

Sea-mat, carbacea, 271. 

, membranacea, 270. 

, the paper, 272. 

Sea-milkwort, 127. 

Sea-mouse, prickly, 227. 
Sea-nettles, 147. 

Sea-pea, 75. 

Sea-pen, purple, 267. 
Sea-pheasant, 204. 

Sea, phosphorescence of ; its 
causes, 140. 

Sea-pike, 62. 

Sea-pink, 20, 31. 

Sea -radish, 31. 

Sea-reed, 126. 

Sea-ruppia, 203. 

Seaside, the, described, 124 — 128. 

camomile, 75. 

convolvulus, 128. 

cabbage, 23, 26. 

feverfew, 75. 

plantain, 75. 

poppy, 73. 

pimpernel, 130. 

Sea-rush, 127. 

Sea-scorpion, 56. 

Sea- shrub, 163. 

Sea-snail, 118. 

Sea-spurrey sandwort, 19. 
Sea-spleenwort, 34. 

Sea-stock, 28. 

Sea-swallows, 216. 

Sea-thongs, 163. 

Sea-tree, 269. 

mallow, 33. 


Sea-urchin, 137. 

Sea-weeds ; their beauty, variety, 
and uses described, 150— 154. 
Serpula, many-twisted, 234. 

, worm-like, 234. 

Sharp sea-rush, 127. 

Shells; their value and various 
uses, 86—89. 

Shetland argus, 137. 

Shipworm, the, 83. 

Shield-drake, 204. 

Shrimp, the common, 243. 

prawn, 243. 

white, 243. 

Sickle-beard, common, 264. 
Silvery ark, 109. 

Sipunculus, the, 235. 

Skate, long-nosed, 68. 

Smew, the, 207. 

Snail, the, 84. 

Solan goose, 215. 

Spindle-shell, 89. 

Spiny cockle, 98. 

Spirorbis, the, 230. 

Sponge, branched, 274. 

, parasitic, 107. 

Spongy fucus, 272. 

Spotted gunnel, or butter-fish, 
57. 

goby, 59. 

Sprat, the, 51. 

Sprat-loon, or red-throated diver, 
207. 

St. Helier’s, environs of, remark- 
able for their fertility, 3. 
Star-fish, brittle, 133. 

, common, 134. 

Stickleback, the, 57. 

Sting-fish, 60. 

Stone-piercer, prickly, 82. 
Stormy petrel, 218, 219. 

Stylifer, the, 118. 

Sun-star, the, 135. 


284 


INDEX. 


Tamarisk, or sea-cypress, 33. 
Tellen tribe, shells of the, 94. 
Tellina, gibbous, 91. 

, thin, 94. 

Teredo, the, 80. 

Tern, the arctic, 217. 

common, 217. 

* lesser, 217. 

Thornback, the, 69. 

Thrift, the common, 20. 

matted, 27. 

spiked, 27. 

Toothed dentalium, 112. 
Tooth-shell, the, 235. 

Top-shell, 113. 

Torbay bonnet, 112. 
Tower-shells, 13. 

Tripoly star, or Michaelmas daisy, 
128. 

Trochus, the, 113. 

Truncated mya, 91. 

donax, 96. 

murex, or rock- shell, 

116. 


Turbot, the, 65. 

Turnstone, the, 221. 

Ulva, lettuce-like, 189. 

Urchin, purple-egg, 139. 
Urchins, various kinds pf, 140. 

Venus, striated, 96. 

Whelk, the common, 114. 

, dog, 116. 

Whiplash, corded, 168. 

jointed, 168 

White mactra, the, 95. 
Widgeon, the, 204. 

Wild celery, the, 31. 

Wolf-fish, the, 61. 

Yarrow, the, 31. 

Yellow stonecrop, the, 34. 
skulpin, 59. 

Zoophytes, corallines, anemones, 
etc., description of 246. 


THE END. 


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3 


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4 


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THE LIFE OF FRANCIS LORD BACON, Baron of 

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5 


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U 


6 


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7 


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8 


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CHILDREN OF THE BIBLE. 2s. 
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A PACKET, containing Sixteen Sorts, in Ornamental 

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9 


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THE LITTLE LIBRARY. 

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The Lip of Truth. 

Shepherd and his Flock. 

Good Sunday Scholars. 

Now is the Time. 

The Mother’s Last Lesson. 

Peter and Willy. 

Susan and her Birthday. 

What is your Hope ? 

Second Series. 4 d . 

Weeds and Flowers. 

The Bible Printers. 

The Unhappy Boy made Happy. 
The Little Flower Gatherer. 

The Honest Cabin Boy. 

The Gold Mine. 

The Name on the Rock. 

The Plate of Cherries. 

The Marys of the Bible. 


The Old Stable. 

Cobbler Pounds. 

John in Search of a Place. 

Little Rachel. 

Two Rich Young Men. 

The Two Pictures. 

A Child and the Sparrows. 

Peep into a School. 

The Packet containing — 

The Rose Tree. 

Charles Dwight, the Missionary’s 
Son. 

Do not Forget to Pray. 

The Ragged Scholar’s Home 
made Happy. 

A Traveller’s Story. 

The Widow’s Lamp. 

Nayah,the Little Hindoo Convert. 


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10 


THE MONTHLY VOLUME. 


Sixpence, in fancy paper covers. 

Biography. 

Life of Julius Caesar. 

Cyrus. 

Lady Russell. 

Mohammed. 

Sir Isaac Newton. 

Charlemagne. 

Alexander. 

Bonaparte. 

Lavater. 

Alfred the Great. 

Lives of Eminent Anglo-Saxons, 
Parts I. and II. 

Lives of Eminent Medical Men. 
Successful Men of Modern Times. 

Ecclesiastical Biography. 

Life of Luther. 

Calvin. 

Martin Boos. 

Cranmer. 

Life and Times of Leo X. 

Lives of the Popes. Parts I. to IV. 
Life of WyciifFe. 

Geography. 

Jamaica, Enslaved and Free. 
Arctic Regions. By Capt.Scoresby. 
The Jordan and the Dead Sea. 
Iona. 

Ancient Egypt. 

Idumea and Arabia. 

Babylon and the Banks of the 
Euphrates. 

Nineveh and the Tigris. 

Tyre : its Rise, Glory, and Deso- 
lation. 


Tenpence , in cloth bds. gilt edges. 

Switzerland, Historical and De- 
scriptive. 

Australia: its Scenery, Natural 
History, etc. 

its Settlements, etc. 

Topography. 

London in the Olden Time. 
London in Modern Times. 

Paris : Ancient and Modern. 
Ancient Jerusalem. By Dr. Kitto. 
Modern Jerusalem. By Dr. Kitto. 
Dublin. 

Old Edinburgh. 

Modern Edinburgh. 

Yenice, Past and Present. 

Church History. 

The Ancient British Church. 

The Greek and Eastern Churches. 
The Inquisition. 

The Jesuits. 

Sketches of the Waldenses. 
Protestantism in France. Parts 
I. and II. 

The Crusades. 

Characters, Scenes, and Incidents 
of the Reformation. Parts 
I. and II. 

Glimpses of the Dark Ages. 
Dawn of Modern Civilization. 
Sketches of the French Revolu- 
tion. 

The Tahtar Tribes. 

The Court of Persia. 

The People of Persia. 


11 


Natural History. 

Garden Flowers of the Year. 
Wild Flowers of the Year. 

Our Song Birds. 

Our Domestic Fowls. 

Palm Tribes. 

Plants and Trees of Scripture. 
Comparisons of Structure in Ani- 
mals. 

British Fish and Fisheries. 

The Geography of Plants. 

Science, etc. 

The Solar System. By Dr. Dick. 

Parts I. and II. 

The Telescope and Microscope. 
James Watt and the Steam- 
engine. 

The Atmosphere. By Dr. Dick. 
Origin and Progress of Language. 

Agriculture. 

The Blights of Wheat, and their 
Remedies. By the Rev. E. 
Sidney. 

The Field and the Fold. By the 
Rev. E. Sidney. 

Commercial and Political 
Economy. 

The British Nation : its Arts and 
Manufactures. 

Money : its Nature, Uses, etc. 
Mines and Mining. 

The Northern Whale Fishery. 

By Capt. Scoresby. 

Caxton and the Art of Printing. 


Natural Phenomena. 

The Senses and the Mind. 
Volcanoes : their History, Phe- 
nomena, etc. 

The Caves of the Earth. 

Wonders of Organic Life. 

Magic, Pretended Miracles, etc. 

Physical and Social 
Economy, 

Moral Phenomena, etc. 

Man, in his Physical, Intellectual, 
Social, and Moral Relations. 
Good Health — the Possibility, 
Duty, and Means of Obtain- 
ing and Keeping it. 
Self-Improvement. 

Schools of Ancient Philosophy. 
Remarkable Escapes from Peril. 
Remarkable Delusions. 

The Bible, Evidences of 
Christianity, etc. 

Our English Bible. 

The Bible in Many Tongues. 
Philosophy of the Plan of Salva- 
tion. 

Life’s Last Hours. 

Poetry. 

Cowper’s Task, and other Poems. 
Cowper’s Truth, and other Poems. 


12 


SUITABLE FOE REWARDS AND PRESENTS. 

Of the foregoing Series , the following Double Volumes are Formed, with 
Frontispiece , Is. §d. each , cloth boards ; 2 s. extra bds. gilt edges. 


Cowper’s Task, and other Poems. 
Dr. Kitto’s Ancient and Modern 
Jerusalem. 

Kitto’s Court and People of Persia. 
Dr. Dick’s Solar System. 
Domestic Fowls and Song Birds. 
The Garden and Wild Flowers. 
Dark Ages and Dawn of Civili- 
zation. 

Arctic Regions & Whale Fishery. 
Babylon and Nineveh. 

Ancient Egypt and Tyre. 

Venice and Switzerland. 

The Jordan and Idumea. 

Old and Modern Edinburgh. 

The French Revolution and 
Napoleon Bonaparte. 
Protestantism in France. 
Characters, Scenes, and Incidents 
of the Reformation. 

Eminent Anglo-Saxons. 


London in Ancient and Modern 
Times. 

The Caves and Mines of the 
Earth. 

Lives of the Popes, 2 vols. 

The Inquisition and the Jesuits. 

Australia ; its Scenery and Settle- 
ments. 

Bible in Many Tongues, and our 
English Bible. 

The Field and the Fold, and 
Blights of Wheat. By Rev. 
E. Sidney. 

Plants and Trees of Scripture, 
and Geography of Plants. 

Ancient British Church & Iona. 

Lives of Wycliffe and Cranmer. 

Lives of Caxton and Watt. 

Lives of Caesar and Alexander. 

Lives of Lavater and Boos. 

Magic and Remarkable Delusions, 


THE SOCIETY’S PERIODICALS. 

THE SUNDAY AT HOME; a Family Magazine for 
Sabbath Reading. Embellished with superior Engravings. Pub- 
lished Weekly, price One Penny ; in Monthly Parts, Fivepence 

THE LEISURE HOUR; a Family Journal of Instruction 
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in Monthly Parts, Fivepence. 

THE CHILD’S COMPANION, AND JUVENILE IN- 
STRUCTOR. Published monthly, price One Penny. In a neat 
wrapper, super-royal 32mo, numerous Engravings. 

THE TRACT MAGAZINE, AND CHRISTIAN MIS- 
CELLANY. Published monthly, price One Penny. Stitched in a 
neat wrapper, and illustrated with an Engraving. 




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