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Yet this is Rome,
MARY RUSSELL MITFORD.
This scene is taken from the drama of “ Rienzi."
Cola di Rienzi, the famous Roman tribune, was born of humble parentage, at Rome, in 1313. He distinguished himself by freeing, for a time, his native city from the barbarous thralldom of the nobles. His triumph was short-lived, however, and he was eventually killed by the very people for whom he had labored.
The expression “crimson glory” (1) means a “ bloody battlefield.” The “ Ursini” (2) were among the most distinguished of Italian noble families, and were opposed to Rienzi. The “beloved disciple" (3) is St. John the Evangelist.
2. ěs' fï ā' cious; a. produc 7. děn tie' u lā' těd; a. notched ing the effect intended.
into little tooth-like projec3. pli' å ble; 2. easy to be bent. tions. 1. ob' long; d. having greater 9. sū’ture; n. the seam or joint length than breadth.
which unites the bones of the 5. těn' tēr-house; n.
skull. stretched tightly.
11. åb nôr mal; a. irregular. 5. sēr rā těd; a. hed on the 11, vēr' te bræ; n. joints of the edge like a saw.
The Clothing of some Animals.
1. It is very interesting to observe the wonderful way in which the Creator has clothed and ornamented His
various creatures. Some live in the water, some on land, some pass their time partly in the water or on land, some exist partly in the air, on the water, and on the land. Ali are beautifully and wonderfully constructed. I propose to make a few remarks on the external coverings of some of these.
2. In the scales of the fish we find plates of thin horn. These plates are set in a soft pocket of the true skin, and overlap one another so as to form a complete suit of armor -giving origin, no doubt, to the idea of scale armor as worn by our ancestors at the time when arrows were used in battle. The scales in the fish are not all of the same size; they are beautifully fitted, like enamel plates, on to the body, so that while they afford the most efficacious protection, they do not interfere in the least with the movements of the fish, which in many instances are exceedingly rapid.
3. Passing on from the fish to the crocodile, we again find a scale-formed armor. The scales are let into the skin in a different manner from those of the fish, and they are capable of absorbing a considerable amount of water. This I found out by soaking a crocodile's skin in water. Before the skin was soaked, it was as hard and inflexible as a board. Having been soaked a few hours, it became as pliable and soft as a wet towel. This is evidently an arrangement to enable the crocodile to pass his time with comfort both in the water and out of the water. A crocodile also has lungs, not gills, and we never find true scales, like those of a fish, unaccompanied by gills. When the crocodile is basking in the sun, his scales are much harder than when they are in the water.
4. If we look for scales in land animals, we shall find them more especially in the armadillo and the tortoise.
In the armadillo we find a series of scales of peculiar shape, not let into pockets as in the fish, but each connected with its neighbor by soft skin, so that the armadillo's skin may be said to be a series of oblong-headed nails (such as are used to tack on furniture fringes) fastened into a covering which forms the skin of the animal. The armadillo has to roll himself into a ball as occasion requires; therefore the studs of his armor are so beautifully fitted, as to size and shape, that he can roll them up into a ball without the slightest appearance of crease or wrinkle.
5. In the case of the armadillo, who lives under a covering of horny flexible skin, please to observe that his backbone, and all other bones, as well as his lungs, heart, and other viscera, are all underneath this flexible roof to his body. In the tortoise we find quite another arrangement. Take a tortoise-shell and boil it, and you will find that you can pick off the scales one by one, and that underneath the scales is a tenter-house of solid-formed bone.
6. This dome-shaped house is not composed of a continuous mass of bone, as a tea-cup is made of a continuous plate of pottery, but rather of a series of small bones, all properly arched to suit the original curve, and jointed together in a most marvelous manner. The edges of each bone are deeply serrated, and the serrations fit in such a workmanlike manner one into another that an amount of solidity is gained which could not have been equaled if the whole dome had been cast in a single piece.
7. But how is a tortoise to live in his house? Where are his ribs to go? Let us examine. In ordinary animals, the backbone forms an attachment for the ribs, and there are plenty of muscles outside the ribs. In the tortoise, the ribs themselves are actually used to form part of the dome, or roof. By examining the inside of a tortoise-shell, the
fact will at once become apparent. The ribs will be seen forming the girders of this wonderful roof, and they are connected together by means of the above-mentioned plates of bone and denticulated edges, while the center portion of the bone sends down an arch to form a canal, in which the spinal marrow is contained.
8. The tortoise therefore lives inside a house which is composed of his own ribs formed into a dome, and he rests upon his breast-bone, which is flattened out into a broad plate, to serve, first, for the attachment of the ribs, and, secondly, as a kind of supporting foot or basement. Can there possibly be a more beautiful piece of design than this, which combines economy of material and great strength with lightness ?
9. We often find the same design in created things utilized for various purposes. It is, therefore, highly interesting to find that the kind of denticulated suture as adopted in the tortoise is present also in our own skulls. A bony box is required to carry and protect the brain ; the human skull, therefore, is formed of bones, each being jointed to its neighbor by identically the same kind of union as that in the tortoise. There is in the human skull another meaning for this: the interposition of several lines of sutures all over the skull prevents a fracture of one of the bones of the skull spreading to its neighbor, just as the woodwork in a window-frame prevents the fracture of an individual square of glass spreading to the adjoining squares.
10. In the common hedgehog we find a very curious bit of mechanism. The hedgehog has no horny studs fastened into the skin as in the armadillo, nor yet has he a bone-formed dome, covered with horny scales, as in the tortoise. Instead of this his horny covering assumes the form of spines, or bristles, each set firmly into the skin at
one end, and very sharply pointed at the other end. These bristles the owner can erect in groups, with all the points outward, presenting a formidable array of weapons ; but the hedgehog has also power to lay back all these sharp-pointed spines in one direction, namely, from his head downward.
11. The muscles which command these spines are fine strings or fibers similar to the “frowning muscle " in our own foreheads; in fact, when a hedgehog curls himself up, he begins work with a tremendous frown as he tucks his head inward. The muscles that work the spines are attached to the spines which project from the back-bone, and also more especially on to the ribs, which I find to be of unusual strength and abnormal width for so small an animal. The vertebræ are attached to the ribs in a very peculiar manner, and each of the back-bones fits on to its neighbor by a wonderful joint which keeps the chain of bones quite stiff when the animal is walking, but which enables him to coil up into a ball on the slightest provocation.
FRANCIS T. BUCKLAND.
What do we find in the scales of the fish (2) ? How are these plates set (2) ? What suggested the idea of the scale armor worn in olden times (2) ? What effect has soaking on the skin of the crocodile (3) ? What has the crocodile instead of gills (3) ? What always accompany true scales (3) ? What may be said of the armadillo's skin (4) ? What do we find if we boil a tortoise-shell (5)? Of what is the dome-shaped house of the tortoise constructed (6) ? What is meant by dome-shaped (6) ? To what are the ribs of the tortoise attached (7)? Of what is the human skull formed (9) ? What form does the horny covering of the hedgehog assume (10) ? What can the hedgehog do with its bristles (10) ? How does the hedgehog begin when about to curi itself up (11) ? How are its vertebræ attached to its ribs (11) ?