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animals are almost infinitesimal. Will it be
believed that such animals are spread over
thousands of square miles of ocean, that they occur
both at the surface; and at depths the most
considerable that have yet been reached, and that
their remains compose ninety per cent. of the
mud that forms the sea-bottom at those depths?
The stomachs of the brittle-stars brought up in
mid-Atlantic in a living state through nearly
two miles of water, were found to contain half-
digested food of this kind; and although it may
never be possible to obtain the creatures
themselves alive from such depths, the fact of their
living there is now clearly proved. That they
have long inhabited those cold silent recesses,
is also evident, since the whole bottom of the
Atlantic seems strewed thickly with a fine mud
entirely made up of their remains, associated
only with a few transported stones and a rare
sprinkling of sponge spicules and flinty cases of
the simplest vegetable cells.

It remains only to treat of these sponges and
of the vegetation belonging to the sea. The
sponges are very widely spread, and each
consists of a curious network clothed with soft
gelatinous matter. At frequent intervals are
open spaces through which water is made to
pass, and in this way food is brought. It is not
a little curious to watch these lowest forms of
life, in the water, where their brilliant colours
are as remarkable as the shapelessness of the
masses they present. Such opportunities are
now not rare, as the animals can be kept in
vivaria prepared for the drawing-room.

Not so easily can the wealth of marine
vegetation be observed. From the crimson
spots on the otherwise unsullied snow of the
Arctic seas to the vast serpent-like seaweeds
eight hundred feet long floating in the open
ocean, there is a never-ending variety of plants
abounding with points of interest, appealing
to the eye for admiration and wonder, but
requiring the skill and experience of the
accomplished naturalist to explain and understand.
Some of the most important of these seaweeds
float permanently on the surface of the water,
growing there and limited to certain latitudes
quite as completely as the marine animals; but
others are from time to time detached from the
rocks to which they are usually attached, and
drift away to new and distant lands. With
them, proceed whole colonies of fishes, crustaceans,
molluscs, annelids, and other animals,
which are thus often conveyed in the most
unexpected manner from one point to another. So
extensive are the floating masses, that the small
ships that first crossed the Atlantic to America
were seriously impeded by them, and even now
they sometimes interfere with the paddle-wheel
or the screw of the ocean steamer. It is chiefly
in the vortex, or central part of the great Gulf
stream, that these accumulations take place, and
there they seem to be permanent.

Elsewhere the vegetation of the sea is chiefly
seen near land, and is there as remarkable for
variety and beauty as the "flora" of the
adjacent land itself.

While these larger and more highly organised
vegetable forms are widely spread and easily
recognised, there is not unfrequently to be
recognised a dull filmy appearanceor brown
stainon the water, which being examined is
found to consist of inconceivably small groups
of cells which multiply with a marvellous
rapidity, and of which each one obtains from
sea water minute particles of flint, which
are deposited in plates covered with lines
and marked with the most elegant patterns.
While the cells themselves, being simple
vegetable productions, decay almost as rapidly as
they form, the atoms of flint within which each
is enclosed, are permanent, and sink down in
time to the bottom of the sea. To such an
extent do these multiply, that in the South
Pacific Ocean there is one heap which covers a
space four hundred miles long and one hundred
and twenty miles broad: the thickness being
great and rapidly increasing. Elsewhere similar
rapid accumulations are being made by means
apparently not less inadequate.


          I HEARD a murmuring song
Breathed o'er my spirit as the day grew dim,
I heard the forest voices wild and strong
          Chant forth their autumn hymn.

          I heard it when at night
All nature else was wrapt in solemn calm,
And then my heart-chords quivered, as they might
          Beneath a funeral psalm.

          The summer months are past,
With all their fragrance, and their flowery sheen,
Their gorgeous coloursall too fair to last,—
          And our bright robe of green.

          Beneath our pleasant shade
What crowds of happy forms roamed light and gay,
But now the leaves, which then cool shadows made,
          Have passed like them away.

          The autumn came, and spread
A gold and purple covering o'er our leaves,
Rich as those evening beams that, softly shed,
          The western sky receives.

          The stormy changeful breath
Of autumn winds rushed past with hollow sweep,
And all those tender leaves in hurried death
          'Neath our bare branches sleep.

          And now, so sad and lone,
When the red sun sinks down the glowing west,
Through the cold night for those dead leaves we moan,
          And sob ourselves to rest.

          Alas! no sheltering roof
Receives them; like the sheaves of yellow grain,
The wind that often whirls them high aloof
          Brings them to earth again.

          All mingled, there they lie,
Those heaps of skeleton-like leaves, below;
But winter has prepared for all that die
          A shroud and tomb of snow.