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THE WATER PINK.
It is difficult in some cases to draw the line between the animal and vegetable kingdoms. The sensitive plant possesses qualities which entitle it to rank in both, but the most curious combination of vegetable and animal properties is met with in the water pink and the animal grass which grows in Port Mahon in the island of Minorca. They are thus described by Mr. Jones in his Sketches of Naval Life:
"As I sauntered along the shore of the harbour, my attention was drawn to a beautiful flower at the bottom, where the water was nearly a fathom in depth. It grew on a stalk about three-eighths of an inch in diameter, and about ten inches in length, was in shape like an inverted cone, about ten inches in diameter; and was variegated with brilliant colours, red, yellow, and purple. It was a
beautiful thing, and I wanted it; so I determined to knock it off, hoping some chance might bring it to the shore. I threw and saw I struck it; when the water was cleared up, the stalk was there, but I could not discover the flower. After a vain search, I went on further, and came to another, near the shore: I thought I was sure of this, and got a stick to draw it to me, when, as soon as I touched it-quash-the whole disappeared-it was all animal-flower and all. I have since procured several, and have preserved them. The stalk is formed by concentric coats of gristly matter, which is transparent when the outer one is removed. It is attached to the rocks below. This forms a tube, in which is an animal about seven inches long, with two rows of feet in its whole length; at its upper end is the head, and rising from the latter, the flower I have spoken of. This is formed by a vast number of fibres, each with an exceedingly fine and variegated fringe, placed like that of a feather; they do not form a single cup, but several; and their roots are so ranged, as to produce a spiral channel reaching to the animal's mouth. They have a strong sensitive power, and as soon as
touched, are dragged by the animal into the stalk. After a few minutes it ascends again, and the flower spreads out as before; doubtless they are intended for taking food. A touch will spoil them, so delicately are they formed. I cut off the flower, and passed a paper under it, in water; then by laying it on a board, and pouring water on, spread it out as I wished it. They are of the ceraline species, and are called water pinks by the natives. I can take you too, to parts of the harbour, where the bottom is covered with tufts of grass, some green, some dark coloured; some in plain tufts, and others with a star in the middle; this grass, too, is all animal, and if you touch it, will disappear in the ground. There is a large quantity of it just north of the hospital island."
MELANCHOLY Consists quite as much in pride as refinement; in the pride of despising trivial sources of enjoyment, as in the refinement which is keenly susceptible of trivial annoyances. A person striving to construct happiness out of daily life, strongly resembles one of the smaller tribes of birds constructing its nest. The materials for this nest are in themselves mean and worthless-here a feather, there a straw yonder a spray of moss-and on that thorn a tuft of wool: we despise and overlook them, but the bird, wise and patient in the providential instinct of its nature, sees differently, and confounds by its actions both man and his reasoning. It collects the small, contemned materials, arranges them, and when arranged, the feather, the straw, the moss, and the wool, having lost their separate insignificance, form a part of a beautiful whole, of a
tiny but perfect fabric. Just so let us not despise trifles-any trifle at least, by means of which an innocent gratification may either be imparted or received and we shall find an aggregate of pleasure. The kind look or word that occupies but a moment, may, by its influence on the spirits, gladden a whole day.
A habit of rendering and of being pleased with the minor charities and courtesies of life, which Milton calls "the thousand decencies," that flow from words and actions, has a vast influence upon happiness. Every graceful observance, or yet more graceful forbearance, may seem separately as unimportant as a grain of sand; but taken in the accumulation of a whole life, they resemble the body of "sand upon the sea-shore"- —a barrier to the fury of an ocean. There is pride in despising to enjoy trifles when they lie in our path, and only ask us to pick them up: there is folly too-for enrapturing pleasures come but seldom, and even then exhaust rather than strengthen the mind: and there is even sin-for the little enjoyments despised are often especially prepared for us by God.