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Ancient English Ballad—Extraordinary manner in
the Lake of Llynberis, in North Wales–River Trout
neth, Pont Aberglassin, Leixlep, and Tivy; the last
Almahalan, in Iceland— Fishing season-Beautiful Phe-
tion of the Mackerel; where most abundant -
-One of the most stupendous Gifts of Providence to
Shetland Islands–Storm at Doreholm-Arrival of the
- Destination of each - Sketch of Lochfine Ani. mated Scene of the Herring Fishery
Closing remarks, illustrative of the benefits conferred on some of the most desolate portions of the Globe, by the annual visits of this genus
and the Countries to which they annually resort 229
PASCAL has well observed, that if the heart be rightly disposed, even the feeblest of created beings, are to us a book of knowledge, a living mirror, in which to contemplate the eternal power and beneficence of the Creator. This observation often occurs to my remembrance,
and may it also occur to yours, my friend, when exploring the green lanes around your quiet dwelling, or when, on the sea-shore at Sidmouth, you observe the little Zoophyte expanding its mimic petals to the sun. I know not any branch of natural history which more strikingly illustrates this remark of Pascal, than the link which thus unites the Vegetable Kingdom to the vast world of animated nature. This link is composed of several extraordinary productions, termed Zoophytes, or animal plants, from the likeness which they bear to different vegetable productions. A considerable number are known by the name of Corals, or Corallines, and resemble shrubs and trees, though evidently separated from them by their hard and calcareous nature; whilst, in others, the softness of their texture, and plant-like ramifications, caused them to be formerly considered as creeping plants. Among these, the genus Hydra is equally conspicuous for its wonderful construction, and peculiar properties. This interesting genus, was so named by Linnæus, from a fancied similarity to the fabulous Hydra of antiquity. The individuals which compose it are found in small streamlets, and in stagnant water, where they adhere to the floating leaves of aquatic plants, and prey on minute worms and insects of various kinds.
These Polypes are remarkably voracious; they seize their victims with the utmost avidity, and swallow them in the same manner as a snake devours any small quadruped. Their arms, or tentaculæ, resemble those of the Sepea, or Cuttle-fish, and they are, moreover, furnished with numerous minute organs, which apparently act as suckers, and enable them to seize and hold any floating insect passing within their reach.
Hydras, like many productions of the vegetable kingdom, may be increased by means of shoots or offsets, and one or more branches frequently proceed from the parent stem; these continually throw up fresh suckers, which, in their turn, give life to others, till at length the parent Polype assumes the appearance of a real geological tree. How wonderful are the operations of Nature! The Hydra of the fens of Lerna is justly considered a chimera of the imagination ; but the Hydra of our streamlets possesses its reproductive powers, and realizes the description of the ancient poet. If one of these extraordinary productions be carefully separated, the upper part will produce a new tail, the lower a head and arms, and the middle, both a head and tail. In short, a Hydra may be divided in every possible way, and the several portions, like those of the fabulous inhabitants of the Lernian marshes, will quickly reproduce the deficient organs.
Leuwenhoek was the first who discovered this remarkable property; but his researches were not carried to any extent, and he remained in a great