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sea-devil, frog-fish, 6. Balistes, file-fish. 7. Chi



The properties of the Torpedo have been described by Oppian; but, with that liberty to which poets always conceive themselves entitled, he has endowed it with the power of benumbing the fisherman through the whole length of his line and rod.

The hooked torpedo ne'er forgets his art,
But soon as struck, begins to play his part;
And to the line applies his magic sides:
Without delay the subtile power glides
Along the pliant rod and slender hairs,
Then to the fisher's hand as swift repairs:
Amazed he stands, his arms of sense bereft,
Down drops the idle rod, his prey is left;
Not less benumbed than had he felt the whole
of frost's severest rage beneath the Arctic pole.

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ORDER 11 BRANCHIOSTEGI, or having a gillcover. The genera are: 1. Accipenser, sturgeon, beluga. 2. Ostracion, trunk-fish. 3. Tetrodon 4. Diodon, porcupine-fish. 5. Cyclopterus, lumpsucker. 6. Centriscus. 7. Syngnathus, pipe-fish. 8. Pegasus.

The class of PISCES, or fishes, which, in the preceding arrangement, is subdivided into six orders, has, by several naturalists, been limited to two: fishes with an osseous or spinous skeleton; and fishes with a cartilaginous skeleton; the former including the first four orders of Linnæus, and the latter the last two.

The first peculiarity that strikes us, with regard to the fishes of the spinous order, is the extent of their numbers. Not only are the individuals of each family more numerous, but the variety of the kinds is also far greater. Upwards of seven hundred different species of spinous fishes are already known and described; while the whales and the cartilaginous fishes, when taken together, hardly amount to a fifth of that number. The former are, in general, inferior in size; and it is conformable to a law, which obtains in every department of the animal kingdom, that the

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smaller the productions of nature are, the more numerous and diversified in form does she yield them. A very valuable purpose in the economy of Providence is gained by this constitution of the animal kingdom; for, since the smaller tribes are in general destined to become the prey of the larger, an adequate provision is made for the supply of every kind; none entirely perishes through want; none is ultimately extirpated through depredation.

It is by the numbers, therefore, of the spinous fishes that the other orders are preserved, and their own perpetuated. In them generation is formed, not by producing a living animal, or by hatching a distinct egg, but by spawning innumerable ova, that are quickened into life by the heat of the sun, and are destined to supply the annual waste of millions. Hence the powers of fecundity in this division exceed belief, and in a short space defy calculation. A single herring, if suffered to multiply unmolested, and undiminished for twenty years, would show a progeny greater in bulk than the globe itself. It is owing to this exuberant fertility that the herring, the pilchard, and some others, are obliged to migrate annually from the arctic regions, in shoals of such vast extent, that for miles they are seen to darken the surface of the water.

But the amazing propagation of fishes, which we witness along our coasts and rivers, bears no proportion to the vast quantities that swarm in the warmer latitudes of the Indian ocean. The inhabitants of some of the islands there are under no necessity of providing instruments for fishing: as fish tribes approach the shore, they are found in great numbers, in the plashes, where the water remains after the ebbing of the tide. In some places where these swamps are dried up by the sun, they are left in such shoals, that they communicate, by their putrefaction, a noxious and unhealthy influence to the atmosphere.

Happily, however, for the purity of the ocean, and

the health of those beings which it supports in life, the waste of these fishes is nearly proportioned to their fecundity; and the balance of nature is exactly preserved. The shark, the porpoise, and the cod, we ought therefore to consider not so much in the light of plunderers and rivals as that of benefactors to mankind. Without their exertions the sea would soon be overcharged with the burthen of its own inhabitants; and that element, which at present distributes health and plenty to the shore, would in a short time load it with putrefaction.

The general character by which naturalists distinguish the spinous fishes from the cartilaginous is that bony operculum, which, in this order, universally covers the gills on each side. By these coverings the gills are alternately opened and shut; and the spinous fishes breathe by these organs alone. Hence, as these animals partake less of the conformation of quadrupeds than either the cartilaginous or the cetaceous tribes, they can in general remain only a shorter time out of their proper element. When taken from the water, they testify their sufferings by panting more violently, and at closer intervals; the thin air furnishes not their gills with proper play, and in a few minutes they expire.

But the spinous tribes are not all equally incapable of supporting life in the open air. The eel will live several hours out of water; and the carp has been known to be fattened in a damp cellar. The manner in which this process is conducted, is by putting the animal in a net, wrapt up in wet moss, the mouth only disengaged, for the convenience of feeding: the nourishment which agrees best with it is white bread and milk; and upon this food it will fatten more rapidly, and become better flavoured than when fed in the pond. It is necessary, however, that the net be dipped frequently in water, and kept hanging in a damp vault.

The cartilaginous fishes, though not so remarkable

either for fatness or size, are in general more voracious than any of the tribes we have already reviewed; their livers are indeed fat, and are sometimes employed for the production of oil; it is not, however, from them that man derives either his most pleasant or salubrious food; they are impure and immoderate feeders, and their flesh savours of impurity. Of a considerable portion of them the mouth is placed below the head; a contrivance of nature, for which an old writer assigns a curious reason: their snout, says he, is too small to be divided; and their voracity is so keen, that their own life requires that it should not be allowed a ready or complete gratification.

In consequence of this conformation of the mouth, a great part of the cartilaginous fishes are obliged to turn their back downwards in laying hold of their prey; a circumstance that requires time, and affords an opportunity to the smaller fishes to make their escape. They devour every kind of fish or flesh, and to their extraordinary voracity, had nature granted the power of easily apprehending their food, the other kinds must long ago have been altogether extirpated from their gluttony*.

CLASS IV. Amphibia.

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Almighty Being!

Cause and support of all things, can I view
These objects of my wonder; can I feel
These fine sensations, and not think of THEE?

THIS class includes all animals who live with equal facility on land or in water, and some others which do not exactly conform to this description. The amphibia, from the structure of their organs, and the power they possess of suspending respiration at pleasure, can support a change of element uninjured, and endure a very long abstinence. The lungs differ wide

See the ingenious and well-written article Zoology,' in the 'PANTOLOGIA, or Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.

ly in appearance from those of other animals. Many of the amphibia are possessed of a high degree of productive power, and will be furnished with new feet, tails, &c. when, by any accident, those parts have been destroyed. Their bodies are sometimes defended by a hard, horny shield, or covering; sometimes by a coriaceous or leathery integument; sometimes by scales, and sometimes have no particular coating. The amphibia, in general, are extremely tenacious of life, and will continue to move and exert many of the animal functions, even when deprived of the head itself. By far the greater part are oviparous, some excluding eggs, covered with a hard or calcareous shell, like those of birds; others, such as are covered only with a tough skin, resembling parchment; and in many, they are perfectly gelatinous, without any kind of external covering, as in the spawn of a common frog. The amphibia are divided into REPTILIA, containing the amphibia pedata, or footed amphibia; and the serpentes, or footless amphibia. In the REPTILIA, there are four genera: 1. Testudo, tortoise, turtle. 2. Rana, frog*, toad. 3. Draco, dragon, or flying lizard t. 4. Lacerta, lizards, crocodile, chamæleon, newt, salamander, iguana.

Along these lonely regions, where, retired
From little scenes of art, great NATURE dwells
In awful solitude, and nought is seen
But the wild herds that own no master's stall,
Prodigious rivers roll their fatt'ning seas;
On whose luxuriant herbage, half concealed,
Like a fall'n cedar, far-diffused his train,
Cased in green scales, the CROCODILE extends.


When this animal is in the tadpole state, before it has lost its tail, the circulation of the arterious and venous blood may be distinctly seen, by a good microscope.

The very name of flying-dragon, says Dr. Shaw, conveys to the mass of mankind the idea of some formidable monster, and recals to the imagination the wild fictions of romance and poetry; but the animal, distinguished by that title in modern natural history, is a small harmless lizard.

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