« AnteriorContinuar »
zoophyte, that possesses the same power of re-production as the hydra.
HENRY.-It is not of the same order, is it, Father?
PAPA.-No; it belongs to the Acalephæ. Scarcely any thing more is requisite to produce as many seaanemones as you please, than to cut a single one into as many pieces.
HENRY.-And if any of the tentacula were destroyed, others would spring in their place.
ANNA.“Why are they called anemones, Papa?
PAPA.-From the resemblance of their tentacula, which are disposed in regular circles, and tinged with a variety of beautiful colours, to the petals of the anemone. Do not you remember our finding some on the rocks a few weeks
? ANNA.-0 yes! and I recollect your saying that they have been called “ living barometers."
PAPA.-Very probably I did; for some have been of opinion that when they close the mouth, it indicates bad weather, and when they open it fine weather. It has even been said that they are more to be depended on than the most accurately-constructed barometer: but sensible as they may be to changes in the atmosphere, I am very mnch disposed to doubt whether they may be relied on as a criterion of the approaching state of the weather.
ANNA.-I was astonished to see them eat: one of them swallowed two muscles in their shells, and the other a crab as large as a hen's egg.
PAPA.The crab was nearly as large as the anemone. You recollect that a day or two after, they returned from the mouth the shells of their prey, perfectly cleared of the meat.
ANNA.—Yes; the muscle shells were quite whole, with the two shells joined together, but entirely empty.
PAPA.—The anemones, like the hydræ, are very voracious animals; but they can, nevertheless, bear long fasting. They may be preserved alive in a vessel of salt
water a whole year, or perhaps longer, without any visible food.
Henry.—The Acalephæ are superior to the polypi in their structure, are they not?
PAPA.—Yes; the larger species are: for though they have no blood-vessels, they have channels for the transmission of fluids; and their bodies are of a fibrous or muscular texture. The sea-anemone avails itself of this in its movements, which it offers by contracting the muscles on one side and elongating them on the other.
MAMA.— I remember to have seen a very beautiful variety of Actinia at Hastings, called the sea-carnation. It adhered by the tail to the under-part of the projecting rocks opposite to the town, and when the tide was out, had very much the appearance of a long white fig.
PAPA.—There are several beautiful species of animalflowers to be found, not only on the rocks of our own coasts, but on those also on the shores of the West India islands.
As we are to go back through the pasture to look for polypes in the pond, it is time to return. If we should find any, Anna, you will not expect me to make any experiments upon them; for I cannot justify the cruelty of cutting them to pieces as a certain Naturalist justified his operations upon the sea-anemones, by saying that he had only “ multiplied their existence and renewed their. youth.”
HYMNS AND POETICAL RECREATIONS,
THE VESTAL FIRE.
A virgin priesthood ever in their turns
Stol'n from the secrets of eternal truth, That tale was surely not of heathen growth. Shrin'd in the bosom's darkness-dark or e'er The sacred ray of truth was lighted there, And dark again if ever it expireThere burns a pale beam of celestial fire: 'Twas not of earth enkindled, and 'twere vain The power of man to light that lamp again. Of heathen fable might I wisdom learn, Methinks that lamp should not so dimly burn. But where are they, the watchers, who should bide For ever wakeful by the altar's side? Where is the Vestal's eye, the Vestal's care? Too oft, alas ! that lamp lies smouldering there, Untended and untrimm'd-for they, e'en they Who should be guarding it, have gone their way, To other cares betaken. The curious eye Is gone in search of some fond imagery That it delights to look on; nor misgives Of what betides the treasur'd charge it leaves. The restless thoughts, the heart that should have stayed Close by the altar where its hope is layed, Distracted, shared, pre-occupied, has left Too much forgotten the celestial gift, Through scenes of earthly pleasure while it roves In eager search of something that it loves Better than that it turns from or if not, Too much to love the other as it ought. Meantime the lamp burns dim—the flickering ray Seems ready to betake itself away, And leave the bosom to its native night, The darker for the once remembered light, O God! if I might ask one boon of thee, And that the only one it still should be,
That thou wouldst purify the heart, the thought,
Nor the moon-beam in the sky;
From the lowly casement nigh
'Twas still — but there was not heard a sound
Of the streamlet murmuring clear; Nor echo of the loitering step,
That speaks the living near
'Twas cold-—aye, cold as the April suns,
That shine so falsely bright,
That falls so cold at night.
But there came a sound through the damp, dark air,
A sound so loud, so clear,
That sainted spirits hear.
Who is it loves on nights like this
To breathe so sweet a lay,
He never sings by day?
Who, the careless world forsaking, Keeps his song for the midnight solitude,
Where none but the sad are waking.
He does not sing where the blest forget
How the cold night moments pass;
As they trickle through her glass
He does not sing where the summer birds
Their painted wings are pluming;
Misgive not of winter's coming.
And musick is afar;
And darkness in the air-
Their painted bosoms hide;
And none will sing beside
Shall steal upon thine ear,
That earth is used to hear
But haply the voice of one who strays
From the place where spirits dwell, To visit again the scenes it loved,
Ere it bade the world farewell.
So sad—as if it remembered yet
Some secret wrong it bare, While numbered with the things of earth,
It had its dwelling here.
So fond, so pitiful—as if
It came again to find,
Some loved one left behind.
Thou wilt say it is like-O it can be like
To one only thing belowThe visit celestial mercy makes,
To the lonely child of woe.
And pity is afar-
The solitary tear-
The gentle voice of One,
That comfort else had none.