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number resemble snails and lobsters, whilst others are slender, and several feet in length. The most common are wheel-shaped, with arms from four to six inches long, which they move rapidly, in order, as it is supposed, to catch food. Some are slow in their motions, a few exceedingly active. Some are of a dark colour; others are blue; and others again, bright yellow. Those of the Mediterranean are either red or white, or vermilion ; and on the shores of the island which Harvey has thus beautifully described, Captain Flinders saw a considerable number that glowed with the vivid colours of the rainbow :
“ Where life in all her myriad mouldings plays,
Amid the beauty of the tropic blaze :
Enshrouded in the shadows of the past,
mysterious workmen” to whose unseen labours the poet thus elegantly refers, are undoubtedly some of the most wonderful productions of the deep. Naturalists have traced the share they take in the formation of Coral and Corallines; it is also extremely probable, that many marine substances, supposed to be sea-plants, are in reality animal productions, formed by different kinds of Polypes for their abodes. Nor is it unlikely, that the more compact bodies brought from various parts of the East and West Indies, and known by the general appellation of star, brain-stones, and petrified fungi, are in fact of the same origin.
But what, it may again be asked, is the use of these extraordinary productions ? This is a question which we cannot clearly answer. They admit, in their general configuration, no very clear or probable comparison with any of the objects that daily meet our view. They are new in various respects; they have little in common with the living creatures by which we are surrounded. They are the inhabitants of another element, of a vast world of animated existence, and our footsteps are not upon their fields. But they possess, I think, above all others, that vast variety of form by which we are frequently induced to observe, the different, or rather the studiously diversified methods by which one and the same end is attained ; and which also teaches us, that beauty and variety, distinct from every other consideration, was a motive in the mind of the Creator This astonishing variety of organized life, corresponds exactly with the surrounding elements, whether of air, or earth, or water, or the purposes for which every individual is called into being. We observe it, every step we take ; and hence we may allowably infer, that a similar order subsists in the great world of waters, respecting which, we know comparatively little ; and that, moreover, as one class of beings is designed to serve as food for another, a second to purify the atmosphere, a third to keep down the superabundance of insect life, a fourth as way-marks to direct the thoughts of the most incurious to the manifestations of divine workmanship ; that so the same design is answered, the same purposes attained by such as grow in the sunless retreats of the great ocean, or float upon its moving billows, or spring luxuriantly from the fissures of the rocks.