Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/129

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117
GLAUCUS.

having a bluish colour of deadly hue for a short period, and then becoming of a blackish or brownish black colour. I have seldom seen a gelatinous animal which appeared so firm whilst in the water, that proved so speedily to decompose when removed from it. Even the beautiful purple of the back, the silver or enamel of the abdomen, and the silvery blue of the sides, all speedily vanish, indeed instantly disappear, upon the death of the animal, as if it had been washed off; the expansive, delicate, and beautiful fins, and digitated processes, are no longer seen; they shrink up to nothing.

"Even on taking the animal alive out of the water, and placing it upon the hand, that instant almost, from its extreme delicacy, it was destroyed. The digitations of the fins fell off, the least movement destroyed the beauty of the animal, it speedily lost all the purple and silvery enamelled tints, and became a loathsome mass. Thus do we too often find animals, beautiful in external adornments, curious in their habits and organization, and calculated in every respect to supply us with inexhaustible sources of intellectual gratification, doomed speedily to perish—brief in the period allotted to them in the busy theatre of animated existence: but, doubtless, with the gift of existence, they have received from the bounteous hand of their Creator, the means of enjoying their fleeting lives.

"To place these little animals in the glass of water from the towing net, without injury to their delicate structure, required care; so that as soon as they were captured in the net, attached to the meshes, they were not handled, but carefully washed off, which was effected by dipping the meshes in the glass of water, when the animal soon detached