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panions, found much to occupy him in an expanse of sparkling water, a considerable arm of the Catapsco, which extended for a mile or two beyond his solitary abode, and spread immediately before his door, so as to form a fine extensive bay. Of books he possessed few, and those exclusively professional ; but in this beautiful expanse of water, he had an open book, which a long life would scarcely suffice him to read through. Having a small, but neatly made, and easily manageable skiff, he could convey himself whithersoever his fancy led; and amid the various objects of interest or curiosity, with which the waters abounded, none were more attractive than the Sunfish. Along the river's margin, where the depth of water was not greater than from twelve inches to four feet, a succession of circular spots were perceptible, cleared of the surrounding grass, and shewing a smooth sandy bed. These spaces were the nests of this beautiful fish, and over them she might be seen, balanced in the transparent wave, at the distance of six or eight inches from the bed, gently swaying her elegant tail and fins; or wheeling round in the limits of her little circle, as if engaged in keeping it clear of all incumbrances. Here the mother deposits her eggs or spawn, and never did hen guard her chickens with more eager vigilance, than the Sun-fish does the spot wherein her promised offspring are deposited. If a neighbour approach her borders, she darts against him with a fierce and angry air, and obliges him to retreat ; if a pebble, or clod of earth be dropped into the nest, she examines it with jealous attention, and immediately removes it, unless apparently satisfied that it cannot harm her: but if man approaches, she hurries into deep water. In a few minutes she may be seen cautiously venturing to return; at first timidly, then swiftly, taking a hurried turn or two round the dear spot, and scudding back again to the shady bowers formed by the river grass, which grows up from the bottom, to within a few feet of the surface, and attains to twelve or fifteen in length. Again she ventures forth from the depths, and if no further cause of fear occurs, she sails gently, with obvious satisfaction, into the placid circle of her home.
There is also one association which I may not pass over, in the mention of aquatic natures, because little of history is connected with them. The early Christians adopted the figure of a fish as a symbol of their faith, and sculptured it on their tombs. This symbol was well understood by persons of a similar belief, while it remained an enigma to the heathens, and frequently preserved the remains of their friends from spoliation. We find also, on ancient gems, an anchor, and on either side a fish, with the letters that compose the name of Jesus inscribed on them. This emblem is frequent on the gems attributed to
the Basilidians, and other sectaries; it occurs also in different places, and might, perhaps, originate with the Gnostics. Nor will it be irrelevant to notice, the symbolical meaning of the Greek word Ixovos, which signifies a fish, as explained by the learned Bingham.
It was also supposed to allude to the doctrine of the resurrection, in reference to Noah and Jonah, who were as fish in the mighty waters. It implied farther, the expectation of the person there deposited, that he also should experience the like preservation, and be restored to renovated life. It was equivalent to the
resurgam” of modern tombstones ; contained a covert acknowledgment of this article of faith, and was understood by those who professed a like belief, as expressing the hope of him who rested beneath: “I shall be preserved, through death, to a renewed life.”
Animals, of. every description, hold in their configuration an obvious relation to the elements by which they are surrounded. The air accords exactly with the creatures that inhabit it; the earth, with those that move upon its surface ; and the sea, with its myriads of living creatures. A vast diversity of form and functions, of capacities and wants, indeed, subsists between the inhabitants of each ; but in all, this fitness remaine. The different classes are admirably adapted to their respective stations; the individuals that compose them, vary in form, in instinct, and in colour, according to the sites they are designed to occupy, or to their spheres of respective usefulness.
“Where familiarity has once laid the sentiment asleep, it is difficult to resuscitate surprise.” The daily return of the same objects, render them familiar to our view; nor are men inclined to admire, or to search into the causes of what they are always con. versant with; as if the novelty rather than the excellence of the works of Deity, ought to inspire us with a desire to investigate them. Yet if we could forget all that we know, all that we have seen, everything which presents itself to us, in our morning walks, in the daily occurrences of nature, I am convinced that the most exquisite productions of imitative art, would never awaken half the feelings which this wonderful adaptation of forms, and properties, to the surrounding element, are calculated to excite on a first acquaintance with them.
Let us take, for example, the general configuration of the ocean tribes.
Some of these are nearly flat, moulded into a cir. cular form, with two long awns, like sail-yards, issuing from the head, and inverted behind, to serve