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116 An Egyptian Desert Snail in the British Museum.


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pation of Rome by the French. Mysterious providence! Thou 'slumberest not.' Hungarians are defeated by the Austrian Marshal Haynau, called Marshal Hyæna by some brewer's men, who ill-treated him next year in London. The snail was stuck to its board for three months of 1850. An actual life in death, or death-like life!

In March of that year-the year before the world's Great Exhibition-Dr Baird was running his eye over the shell cabinets. He notices some shining, dirty, glairy matter on the board. He looks closer. The snail 46. 3. 25' is alive! The little desert wonder- no wonder at itwas tired as well as hungry! It shot out its soft body, and its four fine telescopic tentacles, and tried to crawl. There is nothing for its fine, for its marvellous microscopic rows of teeth to crunch or munch. The Doctor's ruthless gum would not give way. Gum-tragacanth and gum-arabic mixed, is 'dour stuff.'

The Doctor opened one of the glass-cases, took out the board with Helix 46. 3. 25,' and brought it down stairs. Great was the sensation inside and outside the Insect-room. Helix 46. 3. 25 was no longer ‘Prometheus bound. It was released. Lettuce—soft, milky, mild lettuce—and delicate cabbage leaves were regularly got for the little pet. It actually lived out the Great Exhibition of 1851. In November of that famous year, Helix 46. 3. 25 'fell into a doze, and by March 1852 was found dead.' So Dr. Baird wrote to me on the 20th January 1866, when I asked him for some particulars to refresh my memory. He had given its story in Excelsior:

When the Doctor wrote his note, it was in table case 27 B, a case close to the birds of the heron and snipe families, and not far from the fine cases of birds of Paradise, collected by Mr Wallace. On the wall near it is that masterly hunting-piece by Weenix, which I remember first seeing in 1835, when I wondered over, as I wandered into, the old Museum in Bloomsbury. Our woodcut shows the snail of the desert, drawn by the late Dr Samuel P: Woodward for his useful Manual


of Mollusca. It is figured crawling on a branchlet of the Egyptian caper plant-a plant of the same genus as the wild caper, painted in the foreground of Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne, in the National Gallery. On the margin there is added the figure of another desert snail (perhaps Helix irregularis) from Egypt. The sprig of caper and this snail are copied from the great book on Egypt.

This snail, like our snails and slugs, and indeed like a very great multitude of other creatures, crawls on a broad, soft, fleshy disk. Hence their name, Gasteropoda, from the Greek words for 'belly' and 'foot.' The class to which they belong is named MOLLUSCA, and the creatures are often named “molluscous animals, from their soft bodies. Many of them, indeed most of them, have shells. These shells are often highly ornamental. Some of those brought from the Philippine Islands by the late Mr Hugh Cuming are of great beauty, and a few singular for changing colour when moistened. Sir David Brewster has explained the cause of this.

The story of the snail, like that of Dr M‘Bain's sea anemone in a previous paper, seems wonderful, some may even say sensational. When you begin systematically to study any special branch of natural history, this feeling will

WONDERS to the ignorant and blind are COMMON OCCURRENCES to those who have eyes. Would that parents and teachers in Scotland and out of it were aware of this! Our noble Lord Rector,—whose intense thoughtful eyebrows, and profound but simple discourse in the Music Hall on the second of April 1866, none who saw and heard can ever forget,-feels this. I cannot but. quote some memorable words of his, written from his home, Cheyne Row, Chelsea, September 25th, 1865 :— For many years it has been one of my constant regrets that no schoolmaster of mine had a knowledge of natural history, so far at least as to have taught me the grasses that grow by the wayside, and the little winged and wingless neighbours that are continually meeting me with a salutation which I cannot answer, as things are.

go off.

Why didn't somebody teach me the constellations too, and make me at home in the starry heavens, which are always overhead, and which I don't above half know to this day? I love to prophesy that there will come a time, when not in Edinburgh only, but in all Scottish and European towns and villages, the schoolmaster will be strictly required to possess those two capabilities (neither Greek nor Latin more strict), and that no ingenious little denizen of this universe be thenceforth debarred from his right of liberty in those two departments, and doomed to look on them as if across grated fences all his life.' II, N, MELVILLE PLACE, EDINBURGH,

April 11, 1866.


EAREST HARRY, I believe my first

waking thought this morning was, that this was your twelfth birthday, and the first one on which I was not able to give my dear boy a birthday greeting in person. It does seem

very lonely to be without you this morning ; but no one knows better than yourself that it was not our pleasure, but what appeared to be your real good, that influenced your papa, when he decided

on leaving you at school, instead of making you one of our little party in Switzerland. He

is now taking a short walking tour with some friends; but I am sure, however little time he may have for writing, a little note at least will find its way to assure you that he, too, has not been unmindful of you this day; but as Fanny and I are awaiting his return at this lonely spot, we must send you longer letters. Fanny has promised to give you a full account of our wanderings hitherto,

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