Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/145

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133
COVERED-GILLED MOLLUSKS.

stances in which He has placed them, and not merely their dried and shrivelled remains, technically labelled and arranged in the drawers of a cabinet, can scarcely have a greater treat than a ramble on a summer's day along the margin of the sea, on some one of our rocky shores.

"'Tis pleasant to wander along on the sand,
   Beneath the high cliff that is hollow'd in caves,
When the fisher has put off his boat from the land,
   And the prawn-catcher wades thro' the short rippling waves;

While fast run before is the sandling and plover.
   Intent on the crabs and the sand-eels to feed;
Or on a smooth rock which the tide will soon cover,
   To find us a seat that is tap'stried with weed."

But still more pleasant is it to peer into those wells of pure water which are hollowed out in the living rock, fringed with waving sea-plants, and stocked with animals of various kinds, all pursuing their natural avocations, and disporting themselves in a thousand ways, under the umbrageous shade of what to them is a marine forest. As we gaze down into these clear, quiet depths, we almost unconsciously repeat the words of one of our noblest poets, who has selected such a scene for the embellishment of the wildest of his romances:—

      "And here were coral-bowers.
         And grots of madrepores,
And banks of sponge, as soft and fair to eye
          As e'er was mossy bed
    Whereon the wood-nymphs lie
With languid limbs in summer's sultry hours.
        Here too were living flowers.
     Which, like a bud compacted.
     Their purple ctips contracted.
   And now, in open blossom spread,
Stretch'd like green anthers many a seeking head.