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The feet are highly curious, the two claws, with which each is terminated, being furnished on its under side with several paralle processes, resembling the teeth of a comb, and enabling the animal to dispose and manage, with the utmost faciity, the disposition of the threads in its web, &c.

The Aranea tarantula, or Tarantula spider, of which so many idle recitals Lave been detailed in the works of the learned, and which, even to this day, continues in some countries to exercise the faith and ignorance of the vulgar, is a native of the warmer parts of Italy, and other warm European regions, and is generally found in dry and sunny plains. It is the largest of all the European spiders; but the extraordinary symptoms supposed to ensue from the bite of this insect, as well as their supposed cure by the power of music alone, are entirely fabulous, and are now sufficiently exploded among all rational philosophers. The gigantic Aranea avicularia, or Bird-catching spider, is not uncommon in many parts of the East Indies and South America, where it resides among trees, frequently seizing on small birds, which it destroys by wounding with its fangs, and sucking their blood.

During the early part of the last century, a project was entertained by a French gentleman, Monsieur Bon, of Montpellier, of instituting a manufacture of spiders' silk; and the Royal Academy, to which the scheme was proposed, appointed the ingenious Reaumur to repeat the experiments of M. Bon, in order to ascertain how far the proposed plan might be carried but, after making the proper trials, M. Reaumur found it to be impracticable, on account of the natural disposition of these animals, which is such as will by no means admit of their living peaceably together in large numbers. M. Reaumur also computed that 663,522 spiders would scarcely furnish a single pound of silk. Monsieur Bon, however, the first projector, carried his experiments so far as to obtain two or three pairs of stockings and gloves of this silk, which were of an elegant gray colour, and were presented, as samples, to the Royal Academy. It must be observed, that in this manufacture it is the silk of the egg-bags alone that can be used, being far stronger than that of the webs. Monsieur Bon collected twelve of thirteen ounces of these, and having caused them to be well cleared of dust, by properly beating with sticks, he washed them perfectly clean in warm water. After this, they were laid to steep, in a large vessel, with soap, saltpetre and gum-arabic. The whole was left to boil over a gentle fire for three hours, and was afterwards again washed to get out the soap; then laid to dry for some days, after which it was carded, but with much smaller cards than ordinary. The silk is easily spun into a fine and strong thread; the difficulty being only to collect the silk-bags in sufficient quantity

There remains one more particularity in the history of spi ders, viz. the power of flight. It is principally in the autumnal season that these diminutive adventurers ascend the air, and contribute to fill it with that infinity of floating cobwebs, which are so peculiarly conspicuous at that period of the year. When inclined to make these aërial excursions, the spider ascends some slight eminence, as the top of a wall, or the branch of a tree; and turning itself with its head towards the wind, protrudes several threads, and, rising from its station, commits itself to the gale, and is thus carried far beyond the height of the loftiest towers, and enjoys the pleasure of a clearer atmosphere. During their flight, it is probable that spiders employ themselves in catching such minute winged insects as may happen to occur in their progress; and when satisfied with their journey and their prey, they suffer themselves to fall, by contracting their limbs, and gradually disengaging themselves from the thread.

These insects are but ill calculated to live in society Whenever thus stationed, they never fail to wage war with each other. The females, in particular, are of a disposition peculiarly capricious and malignant; and it is observed, that they sometimes spring upon the males, and destroy them. On this occasion, says Linnæus, if ever, may be justly applied the Ovidian line:

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Res est solliciti plena timoris amor!

The following is a notable instance of the INGENUITY OF THE SPIDER.T. A. Knight, Esq. of Herefordshire, has, in a Treatise on the Culture of the Apple and Pear, introduced the following concerning this curious insect.

"I have frequently placed a spider on a small upright stick, whose base was surrounded by water, to observe its most singular mode of escape. After having discovered that the ordinary means of escape are cut off, it ascends the point of the stick, and, standing nearly on its head, ejects its web, which the wind readily carries to some contiguous object. Along this, the sagacious insect effects its escape, not however till it has previously ascertained, by several exertions of its whole strength, that its web is properly attached to the opposite end. I do not know that this instance of sagacity has been mentioned by any entomological writer, and I insert it here in consequence of the erroneous accounts of some periodical publications, of the spider's threads, which are observed to pass from one tree or bush to another in dewy mornings."

The reader will be pleased with the following account of A SPIDER TAMED, given by the Abbé d'Olivet, author of the Life of Pelisson, in the following passage:

"Confined at that time in a solitary place, and where the light of day only penetrated through a mere slit, having no other servant than a stupid and dull clown, a Basque, who was continually playing on the bagpipes, Pelisson studied by what means to secure himself against an enemy, which a good conscience alone cannot always repel; I mean, the attacks of unemployed imagination, which, when it once exceeds proper limits, becomes the most cruel torture of a recluse individual. He adopted the following stratagem :-Perceiving a spider spinning her web at the spiracle, he undertook to tame her; and to effect this, he placed some flies on the edge of the opening, while the Basque was playing on his favourite bagpipe. The spider by degrees accustomed herself to distinguish the sound of that instrument, and to run from her hole to seize her prey; thus, by means of always calling her out by the same tune, and placing the flies nearer and nearer his own seat, after several months' exercise, he succeeded in training the spider so well, that she would start at the first signal, to seize a fly at the farthest end of the room, and even on the knees of the prisoner."

It has been stated, that a prisoner confined in the Bastile, retained his senses, contrary to expectation, by playing daily so many games at push-pin; he having, unknown to his keepers, secreted a battalion or two of these hostile implements. The device of Pelisson is more interesting to us, as we learn from it, that the spider, though amongst the most quarrelsome of insects, yet is capable of being rendered familiar by the reason and perseverance of man.

In the introduction to a modern Entomology there is a description of the process by which the spider weaves its web. After describing the four spinners, as they are termed, from which the visible threads proceed, the writer makes the following curious observations:-"These are machinery, through which, by a process more singular than that of rope-spinning, the thread is drawn. Each spinner is pierced, like the plate of a wire-drawer, with a multitude of holes, so numerous, and exquisitely fine, that a space often not larger than a pin's point includes a thousand. Through each of these holes proceeds a thread of inconceivable tenuity, which, immediately after issuing from the orifice, unites with all the other threads from the spinner, into one. Hence, from each spinner proceeds a compound thread; and these four threads, at the distance of about one-tenth of an inch from the apex of the spinner, again unite, and form the thread we are accustomed to see, which the spider uses in forming its web. Thus, a spider's web, even spun by the smallest species, and when so fine that it is almost imperceptible to our senses, is not, as we suppose, a straight line, but a rope, composed of at least 400 yarns."

We shall close this chapter with a CURIOUS ANECDOTE OF A SPIDER, connected with observations on the utility of ants in destroying venomous creatures; by Captain Bagnold.

"Desirous of ascertaining the natural food of the scorpion, I inclosed one (which measured three-quarters of an inch from the head to the insertion of the tail) in a wide-mouthed phial, together with one of those large spiders so common in the West Indies, and closed it with a cork, perforated by a quill for the admission of air. The insects seemed carefully to avoid each other, retiring to opposite ends of the bottle, which was placed horizontally. By giving it a gradual inclination, the scorpion was forced into contact with the spider, when a sharp encounter took place, the latter receiving repeated stings from his venomous adversary, apparently without the least injury; while, with his web, he soon lashed the scorpion's tail to his back, and afterwards secured his legs and claws with the same materials. In this state I left them some time, in order to observe what effect would be produced on the spider, by the wounds he had received. On my return, however, I was disappointed, the ants having entered, and destroyed them hoth.

"In the West Indies I have daily witnessed crowds of these little insects destroying the spider or cockroach, which, as soon as he is dispatched, they carry to their nest. I have frequently seen them drag their prey perpendicularly up the wall and, although the weight would overcome their united efforts and fall to the ground, perhaps twenty times in succession, yet, by unremitting perseverance, and the aid of reinforcements, they always succeeded.

"A struggle of this description once amused the officers of his majesty's ship Retribution, for nearly half an hour: a large centipede entered the gun-room, surrounded by an immense concourse of ants; the deck, for four or five feet round, was covered with them; his body and limbs were encrusted with his lilliputian enemies; and although thousands were destroyed by his exertions to escape, they ultimately carried him in triumph to their dwelling.

"In the woods near Sierra Leone, I have several times seen the entire skeletons of the snake beautifully dissected by these minute anatomists."

From these circumstances it would appear, that ants are a considerable check to the increase of those venomous reptiles, so troublesome in the torrid zone; and their industry, perseverance, courage, and numerical force, seem to strengthen the conjecture: in which case they amply remunerate us for their own depredatɔns.

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