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Next morning, how great was my surprise, on entering the summer. house, to find my poor snails crawling about, some on the edge of the basin, some tumbling over, some on the table, and one or two actually eating the paste that was to stick them on! I was perfectly shocked, burst into tears, and carefully picking up every snail, carried them into a field beyond the garden, where I make no doubt they perfectly recovered from their scalding."
THE ESCULENT SNAIL,
Is large and fleshy, and, when properly cooked, is not unpleasant to the taste.
At the commencement of winter, it carefully closes its shell with a thick white cover or operculum, attached to its body, that just fills up the opening, and in this enclosed state, it remains until the commencement of warm weather, seldom appearing abroad till about the beginning of April.
These Snails are at this day much admired in some parts of the Continent, and are not always used from economical motives; for at Vienna, but a few years ago, seven of them were charged the same price in the inns, as a plate of veal or beef. The usual modes of preparing them for the table, are by boiling, frying them in butter, or sometimes stuffing them with force-meat: but, in what manner soever they are dressed, their sliminess always remains. The greatest num. bers, and the finest snails, are brought from Suabia.
Dr. Browne, who travelled to Vienna somewhat more than a century ago, remarks, that since the markets were so well supplied with other provisions, "he was surprised to meet with some odd dishes at their tables, such as Guinea-pigs, and divers sorts of snails and tortoisos."
Dr. Townson was shown at Erlau, a snailery, which, the proprietor informed him, was constructed on an improved plan. In our island, he says, this might have had the denomination of a Patent Snailery, or Philosophical Snail-sty. It consisted only of a large hole, two or three feet deep, dug in the ground, having a wooden house as a cover. The animals were fed on the refuse of the garden, which was thrown to them.
There seems some doubt as to the original introduction of these snails into England. Mr. Pennant says, that we are indebted for them to Sir Kenelm Digby; and Da Costa, that in the last century, a Charles Howard, Esq., of the Arundel family, brought some of them from Italy, in the hope of rendering them an article of food in England; and, for this purpose, dispersed them about the woods and downs of Albury, an ancient seat of the family, near Boxhill in Surrey. They are now to be found in considerable numbers, not only there, but also in several parts of the confines of Sussex.
THE creatures that are ranked under the Linnean order Zoophyta, seem to hold a middle station between animals and vegetables. Most of them, deprived altogether of the powers of locomotion, are fixed by sterns that take root in crevices of rocks, among sand, or in such other situations as nature has destined for their abode; these, by degrees, send off branches, till at length some of them attain the size and extent of large shrubs. The Zoophytes are usually considered under two divisions. The stony branches of the first division, which has the general appellation of Coral, are hollow, and full of cells, which are the habitations of animals resembling Polypes, Medusæ, &c., according to their respective genera. The next division consists of such animals as have softer stems, and are, in general, not merely inhabi. tants of a stem or branches, but are themselves in the form of a plant, Those of this division which are best known, are the Corallines, the Sponges, and the Polypes.
OF THE MADREPORES.
THE animals which inhabit the Madrepores are Medusa. The coral which contains them is fixed and simple, or branched, with cavities composed of lamella in a star-like form.
The great variety of Madrepores, their conspicuous appearance in the water, and their astonishing quantity on some coasts, have caused them to be remarked by navigators and travellers, from the earliest periods. They are all composed of calcareous matter, united with a portion of animal substance. By calcination they yield an excellent lime.
In certain species, their substance is extremely hard and solid; and in others, cellular and friable. Their form also varies much. Some are spherical, others semi-globose, and others flat: many are branched; and the branches of some are smooth, and of others hairy, furrowed, or striated. With respect to color, they are red, yellow, brown, &c., but their most prevalent color is yellowish-white.
It is principally in hot climates, between the Tropics, that they are in greatest abundance. Few of them have been observed in any of the European seas, except the Mediterranean. Many species are found in a fossil state.
THE PRICKLY MADREPORE.
This Madrepore is in such extraordinary abundance, as occasionally to form immense beds at the bottom of the sea. In height it increases, without limit, until it is arrested by the line of low water; and in width it is boundless. Captain Cook, and other navigators, have spoken of banks of reefs of coral, or Madrepore, so extensive as to have prevented their approach to land, sometimes even for several leagues. Many voyagers have mentioned the dangers to which they have been exposed, during stormy weather, upon these reefs, not only from their liability to be wrecked, by the ships driving against such as rose nearly to the surface of the water, but also from the cables to which their anchors were tixed having been cut in pieces by chafing against them.
There can be no doubt that several kinds of Madrepore concur in the formation of these reefs ; but that which, in general, constitutes by far the greatest portion, is the species here mentioned.
OF THE CORAL TRIBE.
ALL the different species of coral are branched, and the branches are not articulated. Their interior is stony and solid. The surface is striated, and covered by a bark-like envelope, which is fleshy and porous; and from which there issue numerous animals, resembling Polypes both in appearance and structure.
THE RED CORAL.
Few persons are unacquainted with this production, at least in a wrought state, as forming necklaces or brace. lets, for the ornament of the female figure. It is, perhaps, the most valu. able of all the productions of the sea, except pearls; and constitutes a very important article of commerce.
When Coral is taken from the water, or even touched whilst under water, all the polypes suddenly contract.
The fisbing for Coral is, at this day, an object of great importance to the inhabitants of Marseilles, Catalonia, and Corsica; the principal parts of the Mediterranean from which coral is obtained, are the coasts of Tunis and Sardinia, and the mouth of the Adriatic.
THE OFFICINAL, AND DOWNY SPONGE.
OF THE SPONGES IN GENERAL.
THE Sponges consist of an entirely ramified mass of capillary tubes, supposed, by many persons, to be the production of a species of worms which are often found straying about the cavities. Others have im. agined them vegetables. But that they are possessed of a living prin. ciple seems evident, from their alternately contracting and dilating their pores; and shrinking, in some degree, from the touch, when ex. amined in the water. They are capable of absorbing nutriment from the fluid in which they subsist. The species differ much from each other, both in shape and structure. Some are composed of reticulated fibres, or masses, of small spines; some, as the common or Officinal Sponge, are of no regular shape; others are cup-shaped, and others tubular.
THE OFFICINAL, AND DOWNY SPONGE.
The Officinal Sponge is well known, from its utility for various domestic purposes. It is an elastic substance, and in every part is full of holes. It grows into irregular lobes of a woolly consistence, and generally adheres, by a broad base, to the rocks. A variety of small marine animals pierce and gnaw into its irregular winding cavities, These appear on the outside, by large holes, raised higher than the rest. When Sponge is cut perpendicularly, the interior parts are seen to consist of small tubes, which divide into branches as they appear on the surface. These tubes, which are composed of reticulated fibres, extend themselves every way; by this means increasing the surface of the Sponge, and ending at the outside in an infinite number of small holes, which are the proper mouthis of the animal. Each of these holes is surrounded by a few erect pointed fibres, that appear as if they were woven in the form of little spines. Thu tubes, with their ramifications, in the living state of the Sponge, are clothed with a gelatinous substance, properly called the flesh of the animal.
Sponge is an object of commerce in the Mediterranean, and in several of the islands in the Grecian Archipelago. Here, on the submarine rocks, it is found, of large size and in great abundance. As it is chiefly found on rocks, at the depth of five or six fathoms, it has been the cause of many of the inhabitants of these islands having become excellent divers Yet this fatiguing and dangerous employment does
THE VESICULAR CORALLINES-POLYPE TRIBE.
not at all enrich them; for M. Olivier, in his account of Greece, reports that they are in a state of the inost lamentable poverty and wretched. When first taken out of the sea, Sponges have a strong fishy smell
, which the fishermen get rid of by washing them perfectly clean it fresh water. This is all the preparation which is necessary, previously to their being packed together for sale; but, without it, they would soon become putrid, and perish.
The reproduction of Sponge is more rapid than would, perhaps, be imagined: it is to be found, in perfection, in places from which, only two years before it had been entirely cleared.
OF THE SERTULARIÆ, OR VESICULAR CORALLINES.
The general appearance of all the species of Vesicular Corallines, is exceedingly delicate and beautiful. They have the form of plants, being fixed by a base to submarine rocks, to shells, sea-weeds, or other solid bodies, and usually branching upward in a peculiarly elegant manner. Their stems are composed of a horny or elastic and semi-transparent substance, which does not effervesce with acids, These stems are tubulous, and beset throughout with numerous cupshaped denticles, from which there issue little heads, in the form of polypes. In some of the species the polypes are on one side only of the branches ; in others, on both sides; and in others they are verticulate. The color varies; but the greatest number of them are either white, or of a transparent brown; and nearly all of them become brownish when dried.
The Vesicular Corallines form a very numerous tribe. They are common on all the coasts of Europe. By the ancient naturalists, they were considered to be vegetable productions ; but they are now transferred to their proper place, in the animal kingdom.
Some of the species are oviparous, and others produce living offspring.
OF THE HYDRA, OR POLYPE TRIBE.
POLYPES are gelatinous animals, which consist of a long tubular body fixed at the base, and surrounded at the mouth by arms or ten. tacula. They are chiefly inhabitants of fresh water, and are among the most wonderful productions of nature The particulars of their life, their mode of propagation, and powers of reproduction, after being cut to pieces, are truly astonishing. Long after experiments had been made, did scepticism involve the philosophic world; and the history of the animals did not obtain complete credit, till these had not only been often repeated, but had been varied in every possible manner.