Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/40

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28
MOLLUSCA.

drought, to sustain life, in such a state of retirement and suspension of their usual habits, not for a few days or weeks only, but even for many years. Numerous examples have occurred in which the land-shells of distant countries have been brought to England, alive but torpid, and have been kept shut up in drawers for twelve, eighteen, and even twenty months; manifesting no signs of life until moistened, when they presently crawled about, and began to eat. But the most singular example of this protracted sleep on record, is that of Mr. Simon's Snails, which must surely have been the veriest Rip Van Winkles among Mollusca. The following account is from the Philosophical Transactions; and the facts seem to have been carefully investigated, and well authenticated:—

"Mr. Stuckey Simon, a merchant of Dublin, whose father, a fellow of the Royal Society, and a lover of natural history, left to him a small collection of fossils and other curiosities, had among them the shells of some snails. About fifteen years after his father's death (in whose possession they continued many years), he by chance gave to his son, a child about ten years old, some of these snail-shells to play with. The boy put them into a flower-pot, which he filled with water, and the next day into a basin. Having occasion to use this, Mr. Simon observed that the animals had come out of their shells. He examined the child, who assured him that they were the same he had given him, and said he had also a few more, which he brought. Mr. Simon put one of these into water, and in an hour and a half after, observed, that it had put out its horns and body, which it moved but slowly, probably from weakness. Major