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Now, dim, forsaken mirror,
Thou giv'st but faintly back
And thus with man's proud spirit
Thou tellest me 'twill be
When the forms and hues of this world fade
And his heart's long troubled waters
Reflecting but the images
16. Remarks on Fishes.
Proved; shewn, demonstrated. Experience; trial. Immense'; measureless, vast. Myriads; thousands, great numbers. Crea'tures; beings. Disposi'tions; natures. Man'ners; modes of life, habits. Ig'norant; untaught, unlearned. Construc'tion; form, structure. Conforma'tion; adaptation. Em'inent; high, distinguished. Exter'nal; outward. Rapid'ity; swiftness, velocity. Pectoral; belonging to the breast. Equili'brio; balance. Contrib'ute; assist, help.
IT has been proved from experience, that the very depths of the immense ocean contain myriads of creatures, to whose very forms we are almost strangers, and of whose dispositions and manners we are still more ignorant. In their construction, however, modes of life, and general design, these creatures are as truly wonderful as the inhabitants of either the land or air.
The structure of fishes, and their conformation to the element in which they are to live, are emi
nent proofs of divine wisdom. Most of them have the same external form, sharp at one end, and swelling in the middle; by which configuration, they are enabled to traverse the watery element with greater ease and swiftness. Ten or twelve miles an hour is no small degree of rapidity in the sailing of a ship; yet any of the larger species of the watery tribe would soon overtake her, play round her as if she did not move, and even advance considerably before her.
The fins of fishes are denominated from their situations. The pectoral fins are placed at a little distance behind the openings of the gills, and are large and strong, and serve both to balance the body and assist the motion of the fish; the ventral fins are placed towards the lower part of the body, under the belly, and serve chiefly to raise or depress the fish in the water; the dorsal fins are situated on the ridge of the back, and are very large in flat fish their use, like the pectoral ones, is to keep the body in equilibrio, as well as to contribute to its progressive motion; the anal fins are placed between the ventral ones and the tail, and enable the fish to keep an upright position.
Voracity is the chief characteristic of aquatic animals. Those with the largest mouths pursue almost every thing that has life; and, often meeting each other in fierce opposition, the fish with the largest mouth and gullet comes off victorious, and devours its antagonist. As a counterbalance, however, to this great voracity, fishes are incredibly prolific. Naturalists declare that the cod spawns above nine millions in a season. The flounder commonly produces about one million, and the mackerel about five hundred thousand. Scarcely one in a hundred of these eggs, however, brings forth an animal; they are devoured by all
the small fry that frequent the shores, by waterfowl in shallow water, and by the larger fishes in deep water. Such a prodigious increase, if permitted to come to the years of maturity, would overstock nature: even the ocean itself would not be able to contain, much less provide for, one half of its inhabitants; it preserves the species in the midst of numberless enemies, and furnishes the rest with a natural sustenance.
The moon shines bright, and the bark bounds light,
As the stag bounds over the lea ;
We love the strife of the sailor's life,
Now high, now low, to the depths we go,
We make a track o'er the ocean's back,
Fearless we face the storm in its chase,
The landsman may quail at the shout of the gale,
Wild as the waves which the vessel laves,
Is the lot of the sailor boy.
Autumn in Greece.
17. The Whale.
Inhab'itant; dweller. Produ'ces; brings forth.
An'cients; people of former times.
zures. Varies; differs. Generally; commonly. Disproportioned; out of measure. Composed; made up. Yield'ing; producing. Permit'ting; allowing. Sit'uated; placed. Aston'ishing; amazing. Velocity; swiftness, rapidity. Mater'nal; motherly.
THE whale is by far the largest inhabitant of the sea, and produces its young alive: the ancients have described it as being several hundred feet in length; but at present the largest found in the northern seas rarely exceeds one hundred feet in length, and twenty in breadth. Such is their bulk within the arctic circle; but in the torrid zone they are sometimes seen one hundred and sixty feet long. Formerly, however, when the captures were much less frequent, and they had more time to grow, they were taken of a much greater size.
This fish varies in colour, the backs of some being red, and the belly generally white: others are black; some mottled, and others quite white. Their colours in the water are extremely beautiful, and their skin is very smooth and slippery.
There are many turnings and windings in the nostrils of this fish, and it has no fin on the back: the head is very much disproportioned to the size of the body, being in bulk nearly one-third of the whole fish, and the under lip is much broader than the upper. The tongue, which is as large as a moderate-sized feather bed, is composed of a soft spongy fat, capable of yielding five or six barrels of oil; the gullet is very small for so vast a fish, not exceeding four inches in width, and scarcely capable of permitting a man's hand to pass down it. Out of two orifices in the middle of the head, this creature spouts the water to a great height. The eyes are comparatively small, and situated towards the back of the head.
The whale produces one or two cubs at a time, which she suckles with her teats for the whole space of one year. At the moment of their birth the young are about ten feet in length, and follow the dam as calves do the cow; but when she is in fear, and flees from danger, she grasps her cubs with her fins, and plunges with astonishing velocity to the most profound regions of the deep, where, secure from the attacks of man, she enjoys the pleasures of maternal love, no animals appearing more fond of their offspring than whales. Natural History.
Death and Resurrection of Christ.
He dies! the friend of sinners dies!
Here's love and grief beyond degree,
Break off your tears, ye saints, and say
Say, Live for ever, glorious King!