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tion of this margin appears to be the most important and difficult part of her operation: when that is completed, she quickly crosses the area she has described with the lines which give it a wheel-like appearance, and fastening these lines together by a number of circular threads, the web is completed.

ANNA.-She is not long in making it, I suppose.

PAPA.-She cannot be ; for even when her net is not destroyed by any accident, she renews it either wholly, or at least the concentric circles, every twenty-four hours.

ANNA.- Why does she renew it so frequently?

PAPA.-Because these circles, which are intended to catch her prey, are composed of a very viscid material, which, when long exposed to the air, dries and loses its adhesive properties, so that it will not retain the insects that fly into the net. The web of the housespider, on the contrary, which is a gauze-like substance, designed to entangle the claws of flies in the fine meshes of which it is formed, will serve with occasional repairs for a considerable period, sometimes for many months. Do you know, Anna, I expect a continuance of fine weather from the appearance of this spider's web.

ANNA:—What do you judge from, papa?

PAPA.-From the great length of the main-threads which support it. It is asserted by naturalists, who have well ascertained the fact, that if fine settled weather be on the point of commencing, these threads will invariably be very long; but if the weather be about to be changeable, wet and stormy, they will as certainly be.short; so that they may be depended on as very accurate barometers.

ANNA.- cannot imagine how they contrive to spin these long threads, that is, how they get across with the first thread; for the point to which they fasten it, is often a very long way from that where they began. I have seen some extending half across the garden--there is nothing for them to walk on, and they cannot fly,

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PAPA.--Spiders have the power of darting their threads before them in any direction and to almost

On these they convey themselves, not only in a horizontal line, but also up in the air to an astonishing height. Dr. Lister, a celebrated naturalist, was once on the top of the highest steeple of York Minster, and saw numbers of them soaring very high above him.

ANNA. They employ their threads as air balloons then, I suppose.

PAPA.— Yes. They start in the first place by a sudden leap, which carries them on a good way, the stream of air and wind beating upon the threads they throw.out, helps to ascend; and by the posture and management of their feet, which they use very much like oars, or wings, they are able to support themselves in the air at any height and for any length of time they please.

ANNA.--They can fly without wings then.

PAPA.—They cannot strictly be said to fly, because they are carried into the air chiefly by the external force of the wind; but they can steer their course, in case the wind suffers them, and perhaps mount and descend at pleasure. I apprehend these aërial flights are chiefly predatory excursions; for there are often manifest signs of slaughter, such as the wings and legs of unfortunate flies and gnats on the threads they sail on, as well as on their webs below.

ANNA.I have often observed a very curious spider's web on the hedges, like a deep den, at the bottom of which the spider seems to be lurking for her prey.

PAPA. You mean that of the Labyrinth Spider. It is a large white horizontal net, having at its margin a cylindrical cell, sometimes two or three inches deep, at the further end of which, defended from the rays of the sun, and secure from the attack of birds, the spider lies concealed. I have frequently seen her, on the slightest motion of her net, rush out of her cave to seize upon her prey.

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ANNA.-The webs of spiders are very various, are they not?

PAPA..Yes; there is a great variety of them. Each different species forms its toils in a somewhat different manner. You are not to suppose that all spiders' webs are equally fragile with those you see in this part of the world. I have read that the spiders of Bermudas spin webs between trees forty or fifty feet distant, which are strong enough to ensnare a bird as large as a thrush; and Sir G. Staunton informs us, that in the forests of Java, spiders' webs are to be found of so strong a texture as to require a sharp cutting instru-' ment to divide them.

ANNA.--I suppose all spiders form some kind of web or net.

PAPA.-All have the power of spinning, but they do not all avail themselves of it in procuring food. Some, which Walckenaer in his work on spiders has named vagrants, obtain their prey by stratagem; they conceal themselves in a little cell formed of the rolledup leaf of a plant, or in a hole in a wall, or behind a stone, and thence dart upon unwary insects; and sometimes, like the cat in the fable, they pretend to be dead, in order to tempt their heedless prey to come within their reach. Another tribe which may properly be denominated hunters, openly search for and seize their prey, and when taken, convey it to their subterranean dens, where they devour it. You perhaps know that an attempt was once made to produce silk from garden spiders. M. Bon, of Languedoc, about a hundred years ago, contrived to manufacture from their bags a pair of silk stockings and mittens. They were of a beautiful natural grey colour, and almost as strong and as handsome as those made of common silk; but it was found that the manufacture could not be carried on to any extent, for the work of twelve spiders was found not equal to more than that of one silk-worm; and they were so exceedingly ferocious, that it was impossible to keep any number of them together. Four or five thousand being distributed into cells, fifty into some, one or two hundred into others, the larger ones soon killed and ate the less; so that in a short time there were scarcely two left together in any of the cells,

- ANNA.“I suppose their disposition to each other, is the reason that there are so few spiders.

PAPA.- I have no doubt that it is, for they lay a vast number of eggs.

ANNA.-Did not you say, papa, that the silk was made from the bag of the spidermis that the same as the web?

PAPA.No, my dear. The bag is the cone which the female spins for the reception of her eggs-you have often seen them, I dare say, in sheltered secure corners. They are little yellowish balls, something like those of the silk-worm, only a great deal smaller. ANNA.--I think I know what you mean, papa :

I remember mama once shewed me one in the microscope: it was full of young spiders.

Z. Z.


No. XV.

Yew Tree-Taxus. This tree, more wanting of utility than most others, has been connected by tradition with many marvellous adventures, and in some instances charged with mischiefs it does not seem qualified to perpetrate-modern botanists considering no part of it poisonous, but the leaves.

“The berries are sweet and viscid. Children eat them in large quantities without inconvenience. The fresh leaves are fatal to the buman species. Three children were killed by a spoonful of the green leaves. The same quantity of the dried leaves had been given the day before, without any effect."-WITHERING.

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