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year, or perhaps longer, in a vessel of sea water, without any visible food; but, wher. food is presented, one of them will successively devour two muscles in their shells, or even swallow a whole crab as large as a hen's egg. In a day or two the crab-shell is voided at the mouth, perfectly cleared of ali the meat. The muscle-shells are likewise discharged whole, with the two shells joined together, but entirely empty, so that not the least particle of fish is to be perceived on opening them. An anemone of one species, will even swallow an individual of another species; but, after retaining it ten or twelve hours, will throw it up alive and uninjured. Through this opening also, it produces its young ones alive, already furnished with little claws, which, as soon as they fix themselves, they begin to extend in search of food.

In Hughes's Natural History of Barbadoes, an account is also given of several species of animal flowers. They are described as only found in a bason in one particular cave: and of the most remarkable species mentioned by him, we have the following description:" In the middle of the bason, there is a fixed stone or rock, which is always under water. Round its sides, at different depths, seldom exceeding eighteen inches, are seen at all times of the year, issuing out of little holes, certain substances that have the appearance of fine radiated flowers, of a pale yellow or a bright straw colour, slightly tinged with green, having a circular border of thickset petals, about the size of, and much resembling those of a single garden marigold, except that this seeming flower is narrower at the discus, or setting on of the leaves, than any flower of that kind. I have attempted to pluck one of these from the rock, to which they are always fixed, but never could effect it; for as soon as my fingers came within two or three inches of it, it would immediately' contract close together its yellow border, and shrink back into the hole of the rock; but, if left undisturbed for about four minutes, it would come gradually in sight, expanding, though at first very cautiously, its seeming leaves, till at last it appeared in its former bloom. However, it would again recoil with a surprising quickness, when my hand came within a small distance of it. Having tried the same experiment by attempting to touch it with my cane, and a small slender rod, the effect was the same. Though I could not by any means contrive to take or pluck from the rock one of these animals entire, yet I once cut off (with a knife, which I had held for a long time out of sight, near the mouth of a hole out of which one of these animals appeared) two of these seeming leaves. These, when out of the water, retained their shape and colour, but, being composed of a membrane-like substance surprisingly thin, it soon shrivelled up and decayed."

The Abbé Diequemarre, by many curious, though cruel experiments, related in the Phil. Trans. for 1773, has shewn, that these animals possess, in a most extraordinary degree, the power of reproduction, so that scarce any thing more is necessary to produce as many sea anemones as we please, than to cut a single one into as many pieces. A sea anemone being cut in two by a section through the body, that part where the limbs and mouth are placed, ate a piece of a muscle, offered to it soon after the operation, and continued to feed and grow daily for three months after. The food sometimes passed through the animal, but was generally thrown up again, considerably changed, as in the perfect sea anemone. In about two months, two rows of limbs were perceived growing out of the part where the incision was made. On offering food to this new mouth, it was laid hold of, eaten, and, the limbs continually increasing, the animal gradually became as perfect as those which had never been cut. In some instances, however, he found that when one of these creatures was cut through, new limbs would be produced from the cut place, those at the mouth remaining as before; so that a monstrous animal was the consequence, having two mouths, and feeding at both ends.

Having put some of them into a pan of water, set over a slow fire, he found that they lost their life at fifty degrees of Reaumur's thermometer. To avoid the imputation of cruelty in these experiments, the author argues the favourable conse quences that have attended his operations on the sea anemones, which have been so fortunate as to fall into his hands: as he has not only multiplied their existence, but also renewed their youth," which last," he adds, "is surely no small advantage." The reproductive power of the Barbadoes animal flower is prodigious. Many people coming to see these strange creatures, and occasioning some inconvenience to a person through whose grounds they were obliged to pass, he resolved to destroy the objects of their curiosity; and, that he might do so effectually, he caused all the holes out of which they appeared, to be carefully bored and drilled with an iron instrument, so that we cannot suppose but their bodies must have been entirely crushed to a pulp: nevertheless, they again appeared in a few weeks, from the very same places.

Animal flowers are found in as great beauty and variety on the coast of Galloway, as any where in the West Indies. They are repeatedly taken notice of in Sir J. Sinclair's Statistical Account of Scotland. Mr. Little, minister of Colvend, mentions the polypus, or sea anemone, among the productions of that coast. Mr. Muirhead, minister of Urr, gives the following particular description of them:-" About five years ago, I discovered in the parish of Colvend, the animal flower, iv

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as great perfection and variety as it is in Jamaica. lively colours, and the various and elegant forms of the poly. pus on this coast, are truly equal to any thing related by natural historians, respecting the sea-flowers of any other country. To see a flower of purple, of green, blue, yellow, &c. striving to catch a worm, is really amusing." And Mr. Marshall, minister of Brittle, has allotted a section of his Statistical Account of his parish, to animal flowers; wherein he says, "Till of late perhaps it has not been much adverted to, that the animal flower, or water polypus, is even common along the shores of Brittle, Colvend, and very likely round the whole coast of the stewartry of Galloway. The form of these polypi is elegant, and pleasantly diversified. Some are found resembling the sunflower, some the hundred-leaved rose, but the greater number bear the likeness of the poppy. The colours differ as much as the form. Sometimes the animal flower is of a deep purple, frequently of a rose colour, but mostly of a light red or fleshy hue. The most beautiful of them, that could be picked up, have often been carried from the shore of Colvend, twelve or fifteen miles up into the the country, where they have lived, fed on worms, and even bred for several weeks, and might have existed much longer, if they could have been supplied with sea-water."

CHAP. XXXVI.

CURIOSITIES RESPECTING VEGETABLES.-(Concluded.)

If to this lower planet we advert,

Seat of our birth and nurture, proofs abound
Of infinite contrivance, matchless skill.
Whether the site or figure we regard,
Or distribution of the various parts
Perfective of the system, strokes appear
Too exquisite for bungling chance to hit.

Bally.

FUNGUS, OR MUSHROOM.

By fungus, we mean the mushroom tribe. The ancients called them the children of the earth, to indicate the obscurity of their origin. The moderns have likewise been at a loss in what rank to place them; some referring them to the animal, some to the vegetable, and others to the mineral kingdom. Messrs. Wilck and Minchausen, have not scrupled to rank these odies among animal productions; because, when fragments of them or their seeds were macerated in water, these gentlemen perceived a quantity of animalcules discharged, which they supposed capable of being changed into the same

substance. It was an ancient opinion, that beef could produce bees; but it was reserved for Messrs. Wilck and Minchausen, to suppose that bees could produce beef. The former asserts, that fungi consist of innumerable cavities, each inhabited by a polype; and he does not hesitate to ascribe the formation of them to their inhabitants, in the same way as it has been said that the coral, the lichen, and the mucor, were formed. Hedwig has lately shewn how ill-founded this opinion is with respect to the licher; and M. Durande has demonstrated its falsity with regard to the corallines.

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Indeed, (says M. Bonnet, speaking of the animality of fungi,) nothing but the rage for paradox could induce any one to publish such a fable; and I regret that posterity will be able to reproach our times with it. Observation and experiment should enable us to overcome the prejudices of modern philosophy, now that those of the ancient have disappeared and are forgotten." It cannot be denied, that the mushroom is one of the most perishable of all plants, and it is therefore the most favourable for the generation of insects. Considering the quickness of its growth, it must be furnished with the power of copious absorption; the extremity of its vessels must be more dilated than in other plants. Its root seems, in many cases, to be merely intended for its support; for some species grow upon stones, or moveable sand, from which it is impossible they can draw much nourishment. We must therefore suppose, that it is chiefly by the stalk that they absorb. These stalks grow in a moist and tainted air, in which float multitudes of eggs, so small, that the very insects they produce are with difficulty seen by the microscope. These eggs may be compared to the particles of the byssus, 100,000 of which, as M. Gleditsch says, are not equal to one- ! fourth of a grain.

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May we not suppose that a quantity of such eggs are absorbed by the vessels of the fungus, and that they remain there without any change, till the plant begins to decay? Besides, the eggs may be only deposited on the surface of the plant, or they may exist in water, into which they are thrown for examination. Do not we see that such eggs, dispersed through the air, are hatched in vinegar, in paste, &c. and wherever they find a convenient nidus for their development? Can it be surprising, then, that the corruption of the mushroom should make the water capable of disclosing certain beings that are really foreign to both? It is not more easy to acquiesce in the opinions of those naturalists who place the fungi in the mineral kingdom, because they are found growing on porous stones, thence called lapides fungarii; which, however, must be covered with a little earth, and be watered with tepid water, in order to favour the growth. Such mush

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rooms are no more the produce of the stone, than the lichen is of the rock to which it adheres, or the moss, of the tree on which it is found.

We have only to observe the growth of mushrooms, to be convinced that this happens by development, and not by addition or combination of parts, as in minerals. The opinion of Boccone, who attributed them to an unctuous matter performing the function of seed, and acquiring extension by apposition of similar parts; and that of Morison, who conceived that they grew spontaneously out of the earth by a certain mixture of salt and sulphur, joined with oils from the dung of quadrupeds; have now no longer any adherents. Fungi are produced, they live, they grow by development; they are exposed to those vicissitudes natural to the different periods of life which characterize living substances; they perish and die; they extract, from the extremity of their vessels, the juices with which they are nourished; they elaborate and assimilate them to their own substance: they are, therefore, organized and living beings, and consequently belong to the vegetable kingdom.

But whether they are real plants, or only the production of plants, is still a matter in dispute with the ablest naturalists. Some ancient authors have pretended to discover the seed of mushrooms; but the opinion was never generally received. Petronius, when he is laughing at the ridiculous magnificence of his hero Trimalcio, relates, that he had written to the Indies for the seed of morelle. These productions were generally attributed to the superfluous humidity of rotten wood, or other putrid substances. The opinion took its rise from observing that they grew most copiously in rainy weather. Such was the opinion of Trajus, king of Bauhin, and even of Columna, who, talking of the peziza, says, that its substance was more solid and harder, because it did not originate from rotten wood, but from the pituita of the earth. It is not surprising, that, in times when the want of experiment and observation made people believe that insects could be generated by putrefaction, we should find the opinion general, that fungi owed their origin to the putrescence of bodies, or to a viscous humour analogous to putridity Malpighi could not satisfy himself as to the existence of seeds, which other botanists have pretended to discover. He only says, that these plants must have them, or that they perpetuate themselves, and shoot by fragments. Micheli, among the moderns, appears to have employed himself most successfully on this subject. He imagined, that he not only saw the seeds, but even the stamina, as well as the little transparent bodies destined to favour the dissemination and fecundation of these seeds Before this author, Lister thought he per

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