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Violets, sweet tenants of the shade,
Your errand here fulfil ;
And match your Maker's skill.
The ocean swarms with curiosities. Probably the flying-fish may be considered as one of the most singular. This little scaled inhabitant of water and air seems to have been more favoured than the rest of its finny brethren. It can rise out of the waves, and on wing visit the domain of the birds. After flying two or three hundred yards, the intense heat of the sun has dried its pellucid wings, and it is obliged to wet them, in order to continue its flight. It just drops into the ocean for a moment, and then rises again and flies on, and then descends to re-moisten its wings, and then up again into the air; thus passing its life, sometimes wet, sometimes dry, sometimes in sunshine, and sometimes in the pale moon's nightly beam, as pleasure dictates, or as need requires. The additional assistance of wings is not thrown away upon it. It has full occupation both for fins and wings, as its life is in perpetual danger.
The bonito and albicore chase it day and night; but the dolphin is its worst and swiftest foe. If it escape into the air, the dolphin pushes on with proportional velocity beneath, and is ready to snap it up the moment it descends to wet its wings.
You will often see above a hundred of these little marine aërial fugitives on the wing at once. They appear to use every exertion to prolong their flight; but vain are all their efforts, for when the last drop of water on their wings is dried up, their flight is at an end, and they must drop into the sea.
Some are instantly devoured by their merciless pursuer, part escape by swimming, and others set out again as quickly as possible, and trust once more to their wings.
Mine be a cot beside a hill;
A bee-hive's hum shall soothe my ear;
With many a fall, shall linger near.
The swallow oft, beneath my thatch,
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
And share my meal, a welcome guest.
Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew, And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet gown and apron blue.
The village church among the trees,
Where first our marriage vows were given,
When things come every day under our notice, we are apt to grow accustomed to them, and to lose that feeling of wonder which they are calculated to awaken. Were this not the case, we could never behold a spider's web without astonishment. What would seem more unlikely than that any animal should spin threads, and weave them into nets, such as no fowler or fisher could excel, and then hang them in the very places where the wished-for prey is most abundant, and watch in concealment its approach? Were this done by large creatures, how would it excite our admiration! Though formed for purposes of destruction, the spider's web is more delicate and beautiful than the work of any other insect. No one who has ever been out on a bright summer morning can have failed to admire the fine lace-work of silvery threads which adorn every bush, and almost every blade of grass. It is no wonder that the victims for whom the snares are spread fly into them so readily and fear no danger. Were they to see their terrible enemy herself, they would avoid her ; but she is very
; cunning, and generally keeps out of sight.
Spiders are usually of a dirty brown colour, though some field-spiders are prettily marked with green and black and white stripes. This insect has eight eyes, which it cannot shut or move; but as some are placed in front of the head, some at the back, and some on the sides, it can see everything that passes around. Its head is armed with two stings, which have rough edges like saws, and end in a nail, like the claw of a cat. When not wanted for use, this nail is bent down like a knife upon its handle, and near the point is a small opening, through which a liquid poison is forced out. With these fearful weapons the spider soon destroys any creature it can seize, and woe to the unlucky insect that falls in its power! Each of its eight legs is furnished with three movable claws; one is small, like the spur of a bird, and placed on the side ; the two others are longer, and with these it can fix itself wherever it pleases, and move in every direction. Besides these eight legs, the spider has two other limbs in the fore-part of its body, which may be called arms, as they are only used for turning and holding its prey. You would scarcely imagine that such a dreadful creature should require nets to catch the insects upon which it feeds, but if you remember they have wings and it has none, you will see that it could not easily overtake them, and that these snares are very useful to entrap them as they fly.
For the purpose of forming its web, the spider has