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quiries. As the diameter of this elegant vegetable was not equal to a twentieth part of that of the shell on which it grew, there was necessarily, in a vessel capable of receiving that, a great space of vacant water on every side of the branches. Such it had appeared for some hours; but after this time accidentally casting my eye upon the glass, after I had sate near it reading, and perfectly still for some minutes, I was surprised with a multitude of extremely slender white threads, as it were, filling up all that space, and extending themselves every way from the branches to the sides of the glass; on my starting to observe them, they instantaneously disappeared. It was not difficult to guess that they were the parts of animals inhabiting the curious vegetable, not of the plant itself, since otherwise they could not have been capable of motion. I placed a microscope in a proper situation to see all that passed without disturbing the objects of my observation, and waited the event with my eye continually upon the object.
It was not long before I found that every joint of this beautiful plant was hollow, and was inhabited by an insect. The effects of the motion which had discomposed them had no sooner ceased, than I saw from the centre of
the top of every joint the head of a small red animal at first sight, I could only distinguish on each of these heads five little protuberances; but by degrees each of these thrust out its extremity farther and farther, till at length it formed one of those filaments I had before observed extending itself to such a distance. I had now opportunity to examine what I had before only seen. I found these were a kind of arms of which each animal had five, and in the centre of which was placed the mouth; eyes or other organs there appeared none.
On close observation of these arms, I found the upper surface of each all the way furnished with a kind of little cups, or tubercles, hollow, and open at the top, and could discover that the creatures had a power of closing or opening them singly at pleasure. These are the instruments which nature has given to creatures unprovided with eyes, to procure their food: these extend themselves to a very considerable distance, and are endued with a quick and exquisite sensation: whatever minute insect falls upon them is received into one of the cups, and instantly conveyed to the mouth, or whatever of a proper size passes near them, gives the signal, by the motion it makes in the water, for their turning upon and seizing it.
Thus are these minute insects plentifully sup
plied with food; and the same sense of feeling which arms them for the taking their prey gives them notice of approaching danger. On the motion made in the surrounding water, by the approach of anything larger than themselves, they instantly draw in their limbs, and find themselves secure in their cells within the body of the plant; and so exquisite is this sense, that but the setting a foot in the room in any part of which they are placed, is instantly followed by their disappearing.
So little is yet discovered of this interesting part of natural history, that the very existence of an insect with five arms has not before been known, and that some among the French who have chanced to see creatures, perhaps of this kind, in the corals and other marine productions, have been wild enough to suppose the very plants themselves made by the creatures that inhabit them. How infinitely more just to see the amazing whole as nature formed it! to see, in the universal chain of being, a motionless and almost shapeless animal affording place to a vegetable of surprising beauty; and that supporting the tender frames of a thousand other animals of a defenceless kind, which every larger insect must have else devoured, and every motion of a wave have dashed to pieces.
INSPECTOR, No. 125.
At once came forth whatever creeps the ground,
THE animals which had afforded me so much pleasure, a few days ago, on the oyster-shell, lived with me till yesterday morning. It was not, indeed, without some difficulty that inhabitants of the ocean could be supported out of their natural element; but when one has pleasure in an inquiry, there scarce remains any sense of the trouble that attends it.
It was easy to conceive that creatures destined to spend their lives in the sea-water, could not support themselves in fresh; and it was equally palpable that there would be a necessity of food for them. The insects that people, in such myriads, all our waters of ponds and rivers, might serve in the place of creatures of equal magnitude natives of the sea, but the salt necessary to be added to make the fluid of a proper nature for the creature to be supported, destroyed, in an instant, all that should have been their food. To evade the threatened
destruction, I was at the pains to supply them alternately with salt water and with fresh many times in the day, and to give them food at one hour in the latter, and their proper fluid at another. This care kept them in health till the night before last, when, an unexpected incident taking up three hours of my time beyond what I intended, my little family sickened in the midst of their food, and, though I gave them salt-water as soon as I returned, they all perished yesterday morning.
As I had an apparatus for examining them in an increased magnitude, always at the side of the glass in which they were kept, it was with great delight that I observed the manner of their feeding. When they had kept hungry four or five hours in uninhabited salt-water, the eagerness and confusion visible among them, on putting in the fresh, was a surprising agreeable sight. The disturbance given by the pouring it in, always sent them on the instant, in great precipitation, into the very innermost recesses of their cells; but the motion of the millions of animals, many of them scarce large enough to be seen, unless by the assistance of the glasses, instantly summoned them out; they received the gentle tremulation of the water, as a signal of their prey being near, and in an in