« AnteriorContinuar »
“ Miss,—You say I take you spoon to pay my rents. My rent is paid! What you say to zat? You no need to say I take you spoon. “I remain, Miss, respectfully, your oblige humble servant,
But I thought it too-what you say—-sharp, for a lady, sir, so I burned my letter.
Well, we were married ; and, ze next day, when we get up, I say to Charlotte :
“ Well, my dears, we must get up and begin the world. Where is the money, eh? How much, Charlotte, my dears?"
(But I only laughed in my sleeves.)
She look up and say, wiz a smile that made her look so prettier than even she is :
“ Eighteenpence, Theodore.” o
“ Ah,” I say, “zat not much, eh ? Lend me your watch, my dear. Here, too, is mine. I go to my bank.”
And I go to a place in Oxford-street where I know, and I say to the
“ Can I have 41. on these ?"
The man looked at the watch, and then he look up in my eyes, and say directly,
“ You can have 81.
“ Charlotte, don't mind. We are honests and we are resspectables, and loyal to each other. Our Lord will care for us, and we shall walk up ze hill.”
That day we open our café. It was painted nice, and furnished, and outside was :
Ici on loge.
Before twelve o'clock that day, there came a ring, and a party of German foreigners.
“ Haben sie Platz ?"
So that very night we had six of our twelve beds occupied everybody paying 8s. a day for food and rest and firements.
Pretty well to begin with. Ah !
Thus it happened that I arrived at the top of my hill, and Theodore at the first platform of his, at the same moment.
SEA-SIDE RECREATIONS.* It is daily becoming more and more sensibly felt that fresh air, saltwater bathing, long walks, and lovely and romantic scenery, by no means constitute all the resources of the sea-side. Collecting a few brightcoloured shells, searching for pebbles, and gathering what wrack and weeds and stray forms of animal life are thrown up by the tide- thanks to Harvey's beautiful little Sea-side book and to the Aqua-vivaria at the different zoological gardens—are becoming to a great extent superseded by a still more delightful occupation—the study of the curious forms, and still more curious habits, of the animated beings that abound on our coasts.
Few persons are fully aware of the many strange, beautiful, and wondrous objects that are to be found by searching those shores which every season are crowded in the pursuit of pleasure that is perpetually vanishing, when thought to be actually within the grasp ; while to the humble lover of nature, a true and legitimate source of recreation is ever present, ever renewing itself, ever springing up, even at his feet, in new and fascinating shapes. Most curious and interesting, indeed, are the forms of animal life dwelling often neglected within a few yards of where the idler stands, whose lovely forms and hues, whose exquisitely contrived structures and amusing instincts, would not fail to attract his attention and afford him interest, were he only cognisant of their existence.
Here is Mr. Gosse, a naturalist who has before earned distinction by a careful study of the wonders of creation in inter-tropical countries ; he comes home, studies too hard, and, as a natural consequence, loses his health ; he is ordered change of air and exercise ; he repairs to the coast of Devonshire, and finds on his own shores as much, if not more, to amuse him, to occupy his time in healthful recreation and to write about, as if he had spent the same time on the unexplored shores of Africa.
This is the tone of mind with which to enjoy the sea-side. How popular will these delightful rambles on the sea-coast become! One glance on arrival at the bluff red headlands marshalled out by Petit Tor, the white houses of Exmouth shining in the full afternoon sun on the blue hazy shore, irregular rocks, with strong iron bars driven in here and there as a fastening for herring nets, sand and shingle, with young dogfish putrefying as useless, a wilderness of boulders beyond, and then down we go among the rocks and amid the boulders to peer into the pretty tide-pools, full of pure sea-water, quite still, and as clear as crystal. From the rocky margins and sides of these little tide-pools the puckered fronds of the sweet oar-weed (Laminaria saccharina) spring out, and gently drooping, like ferns from a wall, nearly meet in the centre ; while other more delicate sea-weeds grow beneath their shadow. Sea-anemones, with slender tentacles set round like a fringe, of an olive colour or a deep rich red, sometimes brightening into blood-red, are
* A Naturalist's Rambles on the Devonshire Coast. By Philip Henry Gosse, A.L.S., &c. John Van Voorst.
scattered about the sides. The bottom is paved with small muscles, and fringed with dwarf fuci, ulve, and coralline—representatives of the olive, green, red, and stony sea-weeds. Under the great boulders are found whole colonies of the smooth sea-anemones and curious dense sponges. Beyond these, again, are great blocks of stone invested with a clothing of slippery sea-weeds, or covered at the edges with shells of serpulæ, which cruelly cut the fingers in turning them over—yet what a harvest below! whole colonies of those elegant creatures, the nakedgilled mollusca, are there awaiting the return of the tide. There is the large grey Eolis papillosa, there the little Doris bilamellata, there the pretty green Polycera ocellata, and the most lovely of all, the exquisite Eolis coronata, with tentacles surrounded by membranous coronets, and with crowded clusters of papillæ, of crimson and blue that reflect the most gem-like radiance. When these pretty captives are taken home and placed in what might be called a compensating vase, that is to say, a vase of sea-water, in which there is just so much vegetable life as will compensate for the consumption of aeriform gases by animal life (and all young naturalists should know how to make their own aquæ-vivaria), they will live almost any time. Place among these active Eolides a large but sluggish Anthea, or a helpless Actinia, and they will attack them at once, eat holes in their sides, or actually devour their tentacles. Thus, even in these apparently placid, tranquil tide-pools, there is the same war, the same system of compensations going on as everywhere else, and one portion of the humblest creatures that are endowed with organic life are busy destroying another portion. So it is in the whole scale of creation up to man, who is never long happy without an occasional onslaught of races against races-families of men madly destroying other families of
To turn, however, to topics suggestive of more agreeable ideas, we have on the Devonshire coast the rock honey.combed into a thousand little cavities by a stone-boring shelled mollusk, Saxicava rugosa, which, as it only attacks limestone, is probably assisted in its operations by an acid secretive power, and these honey-combed structures extending to beyond the reach of present tides, so it would appear that the rocks have been elevated since the existence of these stone-borers.
In the larger and lower tide pools, that are separated from the sea only at spring tides, large prawns swim at freedom among great oar weeds and tangles. It is curious that in the aquæ-vivarium the prawn loses his fine zebra-like colours in a few hours : he cannot bear the light, living as he does in a state of nature in the obscurity of deep holes and rocky pools. At Brixham, a handsome shell, very regularly conical, Trochus ziziphinus, is found under the large stones at low water, as is also the beautiful scallop Pecten opercularis. Mr. Gosse ascertained that the animal of this shell possessed the power of leaping. At Petit Tor is found also the Rosy Feather Star, and at Watcombe, the Sea Lemon, Doris tuberculata, the largest of our naked-gilled mollusca.
Mr. Gosse's great natural vivarium at this part of the coast was a certain rock-pool at Oddicombe, which he thus graphically describes :
I took another look at my pretty little rock-basin at Oddicombe. It is a deep, oval, cup-like cavity, about a yard wide in the longest diameter, and of the same depth, hewn out, as it were, from the solid limestone, with as clean a Nov.-VOL. XCIX. NO. CCCXCV.
surface, as if a stonemason had been at work there. It is always, of course, full of water, and, except when a heavy sea is rolling in, of brilliant clearness. All round the margin are growing tufts of the common Coralline, forming a whitish bushy fringe, reaching from the edge to about six inches down : a few plants of the Bladder Fucus are scattered around and above the brim; and the arching fronds of the Sweet Laminaria, tbat I before spoke of, hang down nearly to the bottom, closely resembling, except in their deep brown hue, the hart's tongue fern that so profusely adorns the sides of our green lanes. Below the Coralline level are a few small red sea-weeds, as Rhodymenia palmata ; and the dark purple Chondrus crispus growing in fine tufts, reflecting a rich steelblue iridescence. But all the lower parts of the sides and the bottom are almost quite free from sea-weeds, with the exception of a small Ulva or two, and a few incrusting patches of the Coralline-base, not yet shot up into branches, but resembling smooth pink lichens. The smooth surface of the rock in these lower parts is quite clean, so that there is nothing to intercept the sight of the Actinice, that project from the hollows, and spread out their broad circular disks like flat blossoms adhering to the face of the interior. There are many of these, all of the species A. bellis, and all of the dark chocolate variety, streaked with scarlet ; and they are fine in the ratio of the depth at which they live ; one at the very bottom is fully three inches in diameter.
There is something exceedingly charming in such a natural vivarium as this. When I go down on my knees upon the rocky margin, and bring my face nearly close to the water, the whole interior is distinctly visible. The various forms and beautiful tints of the sea-weeds, especially the purple flush of the Chondrus, are well worthy of admiration; and I can see the little shrimps and other Crustacea busily swimming from weed to weed, or pursuing their instinctive occupations among the fronds and branches—an ample forest to them. Tiny fishes of the Blenny genus are also hiding under the shadow of the tufts, and occasionally darting out with quivering tail; and one or two Brittlestars are deliberately crawling about, by means of their five long and flexible arms, in a manner that seems a ludicrous caricature of a man climbing up by his hands and feet--only you must suppose an additional arm growing from the top of his head. The variety of their colours, and the singular but always elegant patterns in which they are arranged, render these little starfishes attractive.
Such a calm clear little well as this, among the rugged rocks, stored with animal and vegetable life, is an object well calculated to attract a poet's fancy. The following description must have been drawn from just such a rock-pool, and most true to nature it is :
In hollows of the tide-worn reef,
Hundreds of dye-bearing mollusks, Purpura lapillus, are found adhering to the rocks between tide-marks, and as the Saxicava burrows the limestones, so at Tor Abbey the Pholas burrows the sandstones. Both these stone-boring mollusks breathe by means of double siphonal tubes, the currents from which keep the hole open behind them another instance of those beautiful and wise contrivances common to the humblest forms of animal life, and in this case essential to the health and comfort of a poor shell-fish that spends its whole life buried in a sepulchre of stone.
It would take pages to record a tithe of the various captures of more or less rare creatures made by Mr. Gosse. One day, it is a rich-coloured Pleurobranchus plumula ; another, a Dead-man's-fingers, Alcyonium digitatum, much more elegantly called by Sir John Dalyell, Mermaid's Glove. Next it was the Laomedea geniculata, a forest in itself, with slender zigzag stems shooting up in crowded rows, like trees in a wood, from a creeping root that meanders over the sea-weed, every angle of the stem bearing a glassy cell inhabited by a many-tentacled polype. Numerous other little creatures, as small Mantis shrimps, Eolides, and Dorides, are found in these forests. The habit of the Mantis shrimp is to take a firm hold of the zoophyte with its hindermost feet, and to rear its long spectre-like form in the free water, through which it sways backward and forward, catching with its singularly-constructed fore feet for any straggling prey that may be passing. Add to these, numerous rare anemones, among which one hitherto undescribed, and which Mr. Gosse calls the Rosy Anemone, Actinia rosea, with rose-red tentacles, olive disk, and rich umber-brown body.
From Marychurch, on the south coast, Mr. Gosse repaired to Ilfracombe, on the north coast, from whence one of his first excursions was in search of the rare Caryophyllia Smithii, which he succeeded in finding, as well as a rare anemone, Actinia gemmacea, and which immediately became new and interesting pets, domiciled in a home vivarium for inspection and study. A next pet was a very pretty zoophyte, Eucratea chelata, which was again supplanted by a snake-headed coralline and some less interesting parasitic animals. So persistent a partiality for Actinias, Eolides, Dorides, and other marine creatures, could not, however, satisfy itself with a simple examination of their habits and structure in glass vessels ; after a time Mr. Gosse determined upon cooking and devouring some of his pets. The process was not quite so easy to put into execution as to watch them in an aquæ-vivarium. The experiment was first made with the common Actinia crassicornis, and is thus described :
In a few minutes I collected some half a dozen of different sizes at low water near Wildersmouth, and having rubbed them with my fingers in a tidepool till the coating of gravel was pretty well got rid of, brought them home. I put them into a pan of sea-water for the night to cleanse them, and most beautiful and gorgeous was the appearance they presented when expanded ; no two alike in colours, and yet all so lovely that it was difficult to say which excelled. Perhaps one with the tentacles partly cream-colour and partly white was as beautiful as any.
The next morning, however, I began operations. As it was an experiment, I did not choose to commit my pet morsels to the servants, but took the saucepan into my own hand. As I had no information as to how long they required boiling, I had to find it out for myself. Some I put into the water (sea-water) cold, and allowed to boil gradually. As soon as the water boiled, I tried one: it was tough, and evidently undone. The next I took out after three minutes' boiling: this was better; and one at five minutes' was better still; but not so good as one which had boiled ten. I then put the remaining ones into the boiling water, and let them remain over the fire boiling fast for ten minutes, and these were the best of all, being more tender, as well as of a more inviting appearance.
I must confess that the first bit I essayed caused a sort of lumpy feeling in my throat, as if a sentinel there guarded the way, and said, “ It shan't come here.” This sensation, however, I felt to be unworthy of a philosopher, for