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for a full half-century, and from the pages of even our more credulous voyagers for at least a century more, it maintained its place as a real existence long enough to be assigned a permanent niche in our literature. It has been described as raising its vast arms out of the water to the height of tall forest-trees, and as stretching its knobbed and warted bulk, roughened with shells, and darkened with seaweed, for roods and furlongs together,-resembling nothing less extensive than some range of rocky skerries on some dangerous coast, or some long chain of sand-banks forming the bar of some great river. It was introduced to the reading world with much circumstantiality of detail, by an old Norwegian bishop (Eric Pontoppidan), as an animal the largest in creation, whose body rises above the surface of the water like a mountain, and its arms like the masts of ships.' And one of the French continuators of Buffon,Denys Montfort,-regarding it as at least a possible existence, has given, in his history of Mollusca, a print of a colossal cuttle-fish hanging at the gunwale of a ship, and twisting its immense arms about the masts and rigging,-a feat which the cuttle-fish of the Indian seas is said sometimes to accomplish, if not with a ship, at least with a canoe. But nowhere does the kraken of Norway look half so imposing or half so poetical as in Milton. In palpable reference to the old bishop's largest animal in creation,' we find the poet describing, in one of his finest similes,
that sea beast,
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.'
imposing in its proportions than the kraken of Norway, is, as I have said, a very curious animal,-constituting, as it does, that highest link among Mollusca, in which creatures without a true back-bone or a true brain approach nearest, in completeness of structure and the sagacity of their instincts, to the vertebrata. All my readers on the sea-coast, especially such of them as live near sandy bays, or in the neighbourhood of salmon-fishings, must have frequently seen the species most abundant in our seas,—the common loligo or strollach (Loligo vulgaris); and almost all of them must have the recollection of having regarded it, when they first stumbled upon it in some solitary walk, as an extraordinary monster, worthy of the first place in a museum. “The cuttlefish,' says Kirby, in his Bridgewater Treatise, 'is one of the most wonderful works of the Creator.' We have no creature at all approaching it in size, that departs so widely from the familiar every-day type of animal life, whether developed on the land or in the water.
A man buried to the neck in a sack, and prepared for such a race as Tennant describes in his Anster Fair, is an exceedingly strange-looking animal, but not half so strange-looking as a strollach. Let us just try to improve him into one, and give, in this way, some idea of the animal to those unacquainted with it. First, then, the sack must be brought to a point at the bottom, as if the legs were sewed up tightly together, and the corners left projecting so as to form two flobby fins; and further, the sack must be a sack of pink, thickly speckled with red, and tolerably open at the other end, where the neck and head protrude. So much for the changes on the sack; but the changes on the parts that rise out of the sack must be of a much more extraordinary character. We must first obliterate the face, and then, fixing on
the crown of the head a large beak of black horn, crooked as W. hat of the parrot, we must remove the mouth to the opening
veen the mandibles. Around the broad base of the beak
must we insert a circular ring of brain, as if this part of the animal had no other vocation than to take care of the mouth and its pertinents; and around the circular brain must we plant, as if on the coronal ring of the head, no fewer than ten long arms, each furnished with double rows of concave suckers, that resemble cups arranged on the plane of a narrow table. The tout ensemble must serve to remind one of the head of some Indian chief bearing a crown of tall feathers; and directly below the crown, where the cheeks, or rather the ears, had been, we must fix two immense eyes, huge enough to occupy what had been the whole sides of the face. Though the brain of an ordinary-sized loligo be scarcely larger than a ring for the little finger, its eyes are scarce smaller than those of an ox. To complete our cuttle-fish, we must insist as a condition that, when in motion, the metamorphosed sack-racer must either walk head downwards on his arms, or glide, like a boy descending an inclined plane on ice, feet foremost, with the point of his sack first, and his beak and arms last; or, in other words, that, reversing every ordinary circumstance of voluntary motion, he must make a snout or cut-water of his feet, and a long trailing tail of his arms and head. The cuttle-fish, when walking, always walks with its mouth nearer the earth than any other part of either head or body, and when swimming, always follows its tail, instead of being followed by it.
This last curious condition, though doubtless, on the whole, the best adapted to the conformation and instincts of the creature, often proves fatal to it, especially in calm weather and quiet inland firths, when not a ripple breaks upon the shore, to warn that the shore is near. An enemy appears; the creature ejects its cloud of ink, like a sharp-shooter discharging his rifle ere he retreats; and then, darting away tail foremost under the cover, it grounds itself high upon the beach, and perishes there. Few men have walked much along the shores of a sheltered bay without witnessing a catastrophe of this kind. The last loligo I saw strand itself in this way was a large and very vigorous animal. The day was extremely calm ; I heard a peculiar sound,-a squelch, if I may employ such a word ; and there, a few yards away, was a loligo nearly two feet in length, high and dry upon the pebbles. I laid hold of it by the sheath or sack; and the loligo, in turn, laid hold of the pebbles, just as I have seen a boy, when borne off against his will by a stronger than himself, grasping fast to projecting door-posts and furniture. The pebbles were hard, smooth, and heavy, but the creature raised them with ease, by twining its flexile arms around them, and then forming a vacuum in each of its suckers. I subjected one of my hands to its grasp, and it seized fast hold ; but though the suckers were still employed, it employed them on a different principle. Around the circular rim of each there is a fringe of minute thorns, hooked somewhat like those of the wild rose.
In fastening on the hard smooth pebbles, these were overtopped by a fleshy membrane, much in the manner that the cushions of a cat's paw overtop its claws, when the animal is in a state of tranquillity ; and, by means of the projecting membrane, the hollow inside was rendered air-tight, and the vacuum completed; but in dealing with the hand, a soft substance, the thorns were laid bare, like the claws of the cat when stretched out in anger, and at least a thousand minute prickles were fixed in the skin at once. They failed to penetrate it, for they were short, and individually not strong, but acting together and by hundreds, they took at least a very firm hold.
What follows the reader may deem barbarous ; but the men who gulp down at a sitting half a hundred live oysters to gratify their taste, will surely forgive me the destruction of a single mollusc to gratify my curiosity. I cut open the sack of the creature with a sharp penknife, and laid bare the viscera. What a sight for Harvey when prosecuting, in the earlier stages, his grand discovery of the circulation! There, in the centre, was the yellow muscular heart propelling into the transparent tubular arteries the yellow blood. Beatbeat-beat; I could see the whole as in a glass model ; and all I lacked were powers of vision nice enough to enable me to detect the fluid passing through the minuter arterial branches, and then returning by the veins to the two other hearts of the creature ; for, strange to say, it is furnished with three. There is the yellow heart in the centre, and lying altogether detached from it, two other darker-coloured hearts at the sides! I cut a little deeper. There was the gizzard-like stomach, filled with fragments of minute mussel and crab shells; and there, inserted in the spongy, conical, yellowish-coloured liver, and somewhat resembling in form a Florence flask, the ink-bag distended, with its deep dark sepia, —the identical pigment sold under that name in our colourshops, and so extensively used in landscape drawing by the limner. I once saw a pool of water, within the chamber of a salmon-wear, darkened by this substance almost to the consistence of ink. Where the bottom was laid dry, some fifteen or twenty cuttle-fish lay dead, some of them green, some blue, some yellow; for it is one of the characteristics of the creature that, in passing into a state of decomposition, it assumes a succession of brilliant colours; but at one of the sides of the chamber, where there was a shallow pool, six or eight individuals, the sole survivors of the shoal, still retained their original pink tint, freckled with red, and went darting about in panic terror within their narrow confines, emitting ink at almost every dart, until the whole pool had become a deep solution of sepia. But I digress.
I next laid open the huge eyes of the stranded cuttle-fish. They were curious organs,—more simple in their structure than those of any quadruped, or even any fish, with which I am acquainted, but well adapted, I doubt not, for the purpose of seeing. A camera-obscura may be described as consisting of two parts,—a lens in front, and a darkened chamber