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rivers by which they are traversed fall into
the Arctic Ocean: and are therefore
inaccessible for the whole or a greater part of
the year. We may live to see, therefore, that
the Muscovite tradition of defence is quite
as vain a trust as most of the traditions
blindly followed in these days, unless the
peace now in course of negotiation be lasting
and secure.

The interruptionnay, the paralysis
of commerce occasioned by the present war
is another source of exhaustion. Except for
ordinary necessaries of life, Russia draws her
supplies from foreign countries in exchange
for raw material produced from the estates
of the nobles. She has such endless supplies
of timber that to give an idea of some of her
forests, it is said, as a specimen, that a
squirrel might hop from Saint Petersburg
to Moscow from tree to tree without touching
the ground, and that she could, under a
rational system, afford illimitable tallow,
hemp, and oil; but these sources of wealth
are impeded and crippled very naturally when
nearly every port she possesses along her
limited sea-board is blockaded.


No more than a few months have elapsed
since the greatest Greek scholar of the day,
the Reverend Doctor Gaisford, late Dean of
Christchurch, Oxford, was carried to his last
resting-place within the walls of the ancient
cathedral over which he had presided so many
years. The students of the house, clad in
white surplices, preceded the remains of their
venerated Dean as the procession passed
along the east side of the quadrangle, from
the deanery to the cathedral. Great Tom
had, by tolling every minute (a thing never
done except at the death of the sovereign or
the dean), announced the decease; and now
a small land-bell, carried in front of the
procession by the dean's verger, and tolled every
half-minute, announced that the last rites
were about to take place.

The cathedral clock struck four; the usual
merry peal of bells for evening prayers was
silent. We strolled towards the cathedral, and
finding a side-door open, walked in. The dull,
harsh, and grating sound of the workmen
filling up the grave struck heavily on our
ears, as it resounded through the body of the
church. The mourners were all gone; and
alone, at the head of the grave, watching
vacantly the busy labourers, stood the white-
headed old verger; another hour, the ground
would be all levelled, and the stones replaced
over the master he had served faithfully so
many years.

The verger informed us that the ground
now opened had not been moved for two
hundred years, and that a dean had not
been buried within the precincts of the
church for nearly one hundred years. Bearing
ing these facts in mind, we poked about
among the earth which had been thrown out of
the grave. We found among the brick-bats
and rubbish a few broken portions of human
bones, which had evidently been buried very
many years; but fastened on to one of the
brick-bats we discovered a little bone which
we at once pronounced not to be human. It
was a little round bone, about the size of a
large shirt-stud, from the centre of which
projected a longish, tooth-like spine, the end
of which still remained as sharp as a needle,
and the enamel which covered it still resisted
a scratch from a knife. The actual body of
the bone was very light and brittle, and a
simple test we applied showed that it had
been under ground very many years.

The question arose, what was our bone,
and how did it get to the place where it
was found? It was shown to the greatest
authority we have in comparative anatomy,
and he immediately pronounced it to be a
spine from the back of a very large fish,
commonly known as the skate or thornback.
This creature has, fixed into the skin of
his back in a row along the back of his
tail, many very sharp prickles of a tooth-
like character, and covered with enamel, just
like our specimen. If one of these skin-teeth
be cut out from a recent fish, the stud-like
knob of bone into which the spine is fixed,
will be found, serving to keep this formidable
weapon (for such it is) in its proper position;
and dreadful blows can Mr. Thornback give
with his armed tail in his battles, be they
submarine, or be they in the fisherman's boat.

How did the spine of a thornback get
into Christchurch Cathedral, into ground
that had not been moved for two hundred
years? Before the days of Henry the Eighth
the precincts, where the college now stands,
were occupied by monkish buildings, where
monks had many fast-days, and, on these
days, were probably great consumers of fish.
The supply of fresh-water fish, from the
Thames close by, would hardly be equal to
the demand. It is therefore probable that
they procured salt-water fish, and a thornback
is, above all fish, the most likely to
have been supplied by the fishmonger.

In an old book on fishes and serpents, we
found, unexpectedly, evidence to prove that
the skate a hundred years ago formed a
favourite dish at the high tables of the
colleges. The book was published in seventeen
hundred and sixty-three, and the
passage runs thus: "The skate, or flaire, is
remarkably large, and will sometimes weigh
above one hundred pounds; but what is
still more extraordinary, there was one sold
by a fishmonger at Cambridge to St. John's
College, which weighed two hundred pounds,
and dined one hundred and twenty people.
The length was forty-two inches, and the
breadth thirty-one inches."

The monkish cooklike a cook of the
present day-would, probably, skin and cut off
the tail of the thornback, when he cooked
him for the monks' dinner, and then he would