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is leading the blessed and glorious existence extinguished oysters may be seen, each bed of an Epicurean god. The world without consisting of full-grown and aged indiviits cares and joys, its storms and calms, its duals. Happy broods these pre-Adamite passions, evil and good—all are indifferent congregations must have been-born in an to the unheeding oyster. Unobservant epoch when epicures were as yet unthought even of what passes in its immediate vici- of, when neither Sweeting nor Lynn had nity, its soul is concentrated in itself, yet il come into existence, and when there were not sluggishly and apathetically, for its no workers in iron to fabricate oyster. body is throbbing with life and enjoyment. knives ! We have no record of the man who The mighty ocean is subservient to its plea- first ventured to swallow an oyster alive;
The rolling waves waft fresh and but surely, if he could be found, he deserves choice food within its reach, and the flow a statue to his memory in Billingsgate of the current feeds it without requiring an Market. It is likely, however, that the effort.
inhabitants of sea-shores haye tried the Though the molluscs do not rank high in taste of all the dwellers in the deep, rejectthe scale of intelligence, Milne-Edwards ing the unsavoury, till at length the oyster relates that even the oyster seems educatable was universally preferred as the most delito a small degree. In the great oyster cious. establishments on the coasts of Calvados, Thé “native" oysters, in such repute, are he learned that the merchants teach them obtained from artificial' “ oyster-banks,” to keep their shells closed when out of the formed by transporting the young fry to water, by which means they retain the shallow tanks, where, their food being prewater in their shells, keep their gills moist, sent in great abundance, they thrive, and and arrive lively in Paris. The process is attain a fine flavour. Their full growth is. this : No sooner is an oyster taken from the not reached till they are five or seven years sea than it closes its shells, and opens them of age. Oysters grown in the natural way only after a certain time. The men, taking --sea oysters, as they are termed-also live advantage of this to exercise the oysters, in vast communities called oyster banks, the remove them from the water daily, and left valve of each individual being attached keep them out for longer and longer periods. to the rocks, and they attain their majority This has the desired effect; the well-edu- in four years. Ten years ago the annual cated mollusc keeps his shell closed for supply to the London markets was 20,000 many hours together, and, as long as the to 30,000 bushels of natives and 100,000 shell is closed, his gills are kept moist. sea oysters. "A million and a half of these
The age of an oyster is indicated by the shell-fish are consumed during each season number of its successive layers or plates. in Edinburgh, being at the rate of more These, as we have seen, overlap each other, than 7,300 a day; while upwards of fiftyand each of them marks a year's growth. two millions are taken from the French Up to the time of the animal's maturity channel banks in the course of a year. these layers, or " shoots," as they are The poor oyster has many foes and called, are regular and successive; but after devourers besides man. Star-fishes, with that time they become irregular, and are greedy fingers, poke them out of their piled one over the other, so that the shell shells when incautiously yawning, and becomes more and more thickened and whelks assail them from above, persebulky. Judging from the great thickness veringly drilling a hole through and through to which some oyster-shells have attained, their upper valves. They need large powers the inhabitant must have reached a patri- of multiplication to keep up their numbers archal age (for an oyster).
in the face of so much opposition, and it is If unmolested, it is to be presumed that satisfactory to learn from
that a single this patriarchal age would be a common individual produces 1,200,000 eggs. thing among these molluscs. In some of There is a bivalve, called “ Anomia," the ancient rocks, stratum above stratum of remarkable for having a hole near the beak
of its under-valve, through which a fleshy | able evil ; for, rendered uncomfortable, plug is protruded, to serve as a cable, and their peace of mind and ease of body moor it to the rock. It strikingly resembles destroyed by some intruding and extranean oyster, attached to whose shell it is often ous substance
a grain of sand, perchance, found, and when of ample size, has been or an atom of splintered shell—the creature treated as such, and eaten. Its pungent encloses its torturing annoyance in a flavour tickles the palate ; but if once smooth-coated sphere of gem-like beauty. tasted, it should be immediately rejected, Would that we bipeds could treat our since this oyster, peppered by nature, is troubles so philosophically, and convert our exceedingly pernicious, and apt to produce secret cankers into sparkling treasures ! very ugly symptoms in its consumers. The early naturalists believed that pearls
The “ Pectens," or scallop-shells, are were petrified rain-drops, falling from often very vividly and variously coloured, heaven into the cavities of gaping shell. and have been called the “butterflies of the fish ; but if a pearl is cut through, it will sea,” as well on this account as because of present generally a grain of sand or some their agile, fluttering, and flying move- small portion of matter, around which suc. ments. In an aquarium they may be cessive layers of nacre have been deposited. observed shooting hither and thither, and Any shell, uni-valve or bivalve, with a fitfully opening and closing their valves, nacreous interior (or mother-of-pearl lining) apparently for no other purpose than to may produce pearls. They have been found " let off the steam.” The shell may be in limpets, sea-ears, and especially in the known by the regular radiation of the ribs "unios,” fresh-water shells abounding in from the summit of each valve to the cir- most rivers of the north. It is said, indeed, cumference, and by the two angular projec- that England was once celebrated for its tions, or ears, that widen the sides of the pearls, and that the reputation of them Linge.
tempted Julius Cæsar to land with his At Weymouth a good deal of business is soldiers on the shores of Albion. But the done in dredging these delicacies for the Oriental pearl-mussel (Avicula margaritimarket. Broiled and stuffed with force- fera) is the creature that supplies us with meat, and served in his own shells, the the most valued pearls, as well as the scallop not only forms an ornament to the greatest quantity of mother-of-pearl. table, but a pleasing variety amongst the The most renowned pearl-fishery is carried fish. The worthy woman who does the on in the Bay of Condatchy, in the island chief trade at Weymouth informed Mr. of Ceylon, on banks situated a few miles Gosse that the customers are “mostly the from the coast. The diver, when he is genteels.”
about to plunge, seizes with the toes of his In the dark ages a large species, the right foot a rope, to which a stone is attached Pecten Jacobæus, or St. James's shell, was to accelerate his descent, while the other worn in the front of the hat by those pil. foot grasps a bag of network. With his grims who had visited the shrine of St. right hand he seizes another rope, closes his James, at Compostella, in Gallicia. The nostrils with the left, and in this manner fussil pectens found in the sub-appenine rapidly reaches the bottom. He then hangs rocks of Italy were supposed by early the net round his neck, and with much dexwriters to have been dropped by these terity and all possible despatch, collects as devout persons on the road.
many pearl-oysters as he can during the A shell, nearly related to the common two or three minutes he is able to remain oyster, produces the costly pearls of the under water. Each diver can repeat this East, that have been as highly operation about fifty times in one day; but esteemed as the diamond itself. In most it is not uncommon to see, after several deinstances the pearls are the consequences scents, blood streaming from the nose and of the attempts of irritated and uneasy ears. molluscs to make the best of an unavoid. Pearls are valued according to the purity
of their colour and greatness of their size.them of great size, have been found in the There is a pear-shaped pearl existing at the lias and oolite rocks. present time, which measures above two The common Mussel is too well known to inches in length by half an inch in thick need description. The animals abound on
It was obtained at the fishery of the rocks of our own coasts, to which they Catipa, in Arabia, and sold for £10,000. are fixed by their byssus. The nambers
The Chinese, profiting by the knowledge brought into the London market, and pur. that the formation of pearls is a remedial chased, as treats, by the poor (for the process on the part of the animal, were in richer classes despise them), are very great. the habit, from a very early period, of in. In Edinburgh and Leith, about 400 bushels troducing foreign substances between the of mussels—that is, about 400,000 individual mantle and the shell, that they might be animals are used as food in the course of come coated with pearl. Such shells are the year. Still larger quantities appear to frequently brought to this country, and be used as bait, for they are tid-bits which several specimens are now to be seen in the the whiting, haddock, and cod cannot resist. South Kensington Museum, in which various Dr. Knapp states that, for this purpose, figures and other objects have been covered thirty or forty millions are annually collected by nacre.
in the Firth of Forth alone. The shells of the pearl-oyster are of al- Yet on many parts of our coast the mus. most as much value as the pearls, the nacre sels remain ungathered, for the people bewhich lines them being, indeed, the very lieve them noxious, and every now and then same sort of material. The shells of other the doctors register authentic cases of poi. species also afford nacre (or mother-of- soning by these shell-fish. Dr. Carpenter pearl) of considerable value to the manu- says that many instances have occurred in facturer. From our own seas, or rather which a large number of persons have been from the sea around the Channel Isles, we suddenly attacked with violent symptoms procure the “ Haliotis," or sea-ear, to use it after eating mussels from a particular bed, in the decorations of papier-maché work; and fatal cases have not been uncommon. and other and larger kinds of the same Professor Forbes declares that the number curious genus are brought from the shores of persons killed by this viralent, though and islands of the Pacific Ocean for the same savoury, mollusc is but small -- almost purpose. They furnish the deep-coloured minute when compared with the number of and rich-hued dark-green and purple mother. mussel-eaters. One man "musselled,” howof-pearl ; the brighter and paler kinds are ever, makes more noise in the world than a from the pearl-oysters themselves. The million unharmed; just as the fate of a charming colouring is not due to pigments, single victim of a railway accident overbut caused by the layers of membrane and powers all our recollections of the myriads solid matter. The laminæ, or layers, are who travel safely every day. not perfectly regular, but the edges of one The animals called fresh-water mussels lie over the surface of another, so that are, for the most part, “anodong" and the light is not reflected as it would be "unios ;" the former are so named from from a plain surface, but is thrown into the absence of teeth in the hinge (“anodon” colours.
means toothless); the unio is the creature The “Hammer-oyster” is another genus, from which pearls are occasionally obtained. which is chiefly worth notice on account of Passing over the “ Arca,” distinguished its singular form, the two sides of the hinge by its equi-valve shell, the "Pectunculus," being extended, so as to resemble, in some and the “Trigonia,” which resemble it, we degree, the head of a hammer; whilst the come again to the “Tridacna," or clam. valves, lengthened out at right angles to shell, whose valves attain such enormons these, represent the handle. The creature size. The animal of the tridacna is disinhabits the Indian Ocean and the shores of tinguished by the beauty of its colours ; the Australia, and many fossil species, some of mantle of the tridacna safranea, for in.
stance, has a dark-blue-edge with emerald- | the “red-noses," as they called the great green spots, gradually passing into a light cockles, and after cleansing them a few violet. When a large number of these hours in cold spring-water, fry the animals beautiful creatures expand the velvet bril- in a batter made of crumbs of bread. The liancy of their costly robes, in the trans- cockles have not changed their habits parent waters, no flower-bed on earth they are still found in the old spots ; but can equal them in splendour. It is only the cottagers find it more profitable to when the animal is young, and the shell collect the sapid molluscs for the fashion. comparatively light, that it is attached to ables of Torquay, and content themselves the rocks by a byssus; as the creature with the humbler and smaller species. gets older, and the shell heavier, the byssus Now for those long white razors and gray disappears. When the tridaena is thus free, scimitars. They are Solens, or“ Razor-fish,” it is said to be taken by a long pole, intro- burrowers in the sand by that foot which duced between the valves when open, the protrudes from one end, and nimble in animal immediately closing the valves upon escaping from the Torquay boys, whom it, and not quitting its hold until it is you will see boring for them with a long landed. The byssus, while there is one, is iron screw, on the sands at low tide. so tough as to require to be chopped away | Should you visit the shore, you may be with a hatchet, in order that the shell may desirous of securing a specimen of this be detached.
bivalve, so like a razor-handle. The shells Come we now to the Cockles — those lie scattered on the sand, but you want to well-known shells, thick, equi-valved, ele- get the living animal. Well, you have gantly marked with radiating ribsribs before now been instructed in the easy ornamented in some cases with spires of art of catching birds by first dropping a various and singular forms. See them in pinch of salt upon their tails ; but never the water. What-oh, what are those red having fully carried out the instructions, capsicums ? and why are they poking, snap- have had very trifling success. Neverthe ping, starting, crawling, tumbling wildly less, the sol though he bores hole over each other, rattling about the huge many feet in the sand, is to be caught with mahogany cockles out of which they are salt. Dr. Lankester, instructed by Prof. protruded ? Mark them well, for they are E. Forbės to adopt this method, had no a Mediterranean species, rarely found on sooner got to the sea-side, than he quietly our own coasts. The red capsicum is the stole to the pantry and pocketed some salt, foot of the animal contained in the cockle and then went alone at low tide to the shell. By its aid it crawls, leaps, and bur- sandy shore. As as he espied rows in the sand, where it lies drinking in a hole he looked round, for he almost fanthe salt water through one of its syphons, cied he heard his friend behind him, chuckand discharging it again through the other. ling at the hoax; however, nobody was Never was silken-hosed foot of cardinal there, and down went a pinch of salt over arrayed like this. Mr. Gosse compares it the hole. What he then beheld almost to a finger of polished cornelian, and con- staggered him. Was it the ghost of some cludes, after all, that it is what it is, and no razor-fish, or was it a real live solen that description can be adequate. With this now raised its long shell at least half out foot our cockle can leap and jerk himself of the sand ? He grasped it, fully exabout in a vigorous and extraordinary pecting it would vanish, but found he had fashion.
won his prize. The common edible cockle is found in They are very good to eat, these razorgreat abundance on our shores ; if a handful fish-at least for those who have a digesof shells be gathered from the sands at ran- tion for them, -and they abound in millions dom, nearly one-third will be cockles! Dr. on all our sandy shores. Dr. Lankester Turton records that in his day the cottagers having caught more than he wanted for of Paignton, in Devonshire, used to gather scientific purposes, adopted the suggestion
of a Scotch friend, and had the remainder / workmen lined with brickwork the excavamade into soup.
When the soup was tion as fast as it was made. brought to table, our Scotch friend vowed The “ Teredo,” or ship-worm, is a forit was particularly fine, and ate a başin with midable borer—a bore to shipowners, since at least twenty razor-fish in it. One table- many a ship has been known to split in the spoonful satisfied the ladies, whilst the open sea, no one on board having suspected Doctor and an English friend declared that the planks had been thoroughly drilled (against their consciences) that they had through and through by this patient animal. never eaten anything more excellent. The The hardest oak, pay even teak and sissoo Scotchman was up at five o'clock, and off to woods, are no obstacles to the teredo. As the dredging-ground; but although Dr. L. if in revenge for the unceasing war waged had only swallowed three solens, nightmare by mankind against its near relative, the unfitted him to join in the excursion. oyster, it seems to have registered a vow to
The remaining members of this group are extinguish the vitality of as many human amongst the most interesting of the bivalve beings as lies within its power. Nor have mollusca, both as regards their habits and ships alone been the object of its attacks; for the curious varieties of structure which they many a good landing-pier has it riddled to present. The “Pholas," almost as soon as shreds, not to speak of bolder attempts, such he quits the egg, begins to bore the rock on as the endeavour to swamp Holland by which he is cast, enlarging his cell with his destroying the piles of her embankment. own increase in size. He prefers a bed of Rather more than a century and a quarter clay, or soft limestone, to anything harder; ago all Europe believed that the United but if restricted to hard limestone, he can Provinces were doomed to destruction, and still manage to work his way. Attaching that the teredo was sent by the Deity to his foot to the bottom of the hole, he sways pull down the growing arrogance of the himself from side to side, and rasps away Hollanders. with his shell, which seems to be renewed But while blaming the teredo for the as fast as it is worn away. When, in 1851, mischief that it does, justice bids us, not pass Mr. Robertson exhibited some pholades at
over in silence the services it renders to man. work in the Pavilion, at Brighton, an intel. Though a devastator of ships and piers, it is ligent lady “observed two animals whose also a protector of both, for were the fragperforations were bringing them nearer and ments of wreck and masses of stray timber nearer to each other. She was curious to that would choke our harbours and clog the know what they would do when they met, waves permitted to remain undestroyed, the and watched them closely. When the two loss of life and injuries to property that perforating shell-fish met, and found them- would result would soon far exceed all the selves in each other's way, the stronger damages done and dangers caused by the just bored right through the weaker one.' teredo. . This active shell-fish is one of the
It is stated that the elder Brunel got an police of Neptune-a scavenger and clearer idea from a pholas, which helped him con- of the sea. It attacks every stray mass of siderably in forming the Thames. Tunnel. floating or sunken timber with which it With the auger-formed head of the mollusc comes in contact, and soon reduces it to in view, he designed his cast-iron shield; as harmlessness and dust. For one ship sunk the pholas lines the passage as fast as he by it a hundred are really savod. forms it with a chalky secretion, Brunel's