' CHAPTER II.
DRUIDICAL REMAINS - A WRECK OFF SCILLY - GEOLOGY AND ZOOLOGY OF THE ISLES - EFFECT OF LIGHT ON PLANTS AND ANIMALS : HISTORY OF ITS DISCOVERY - THE PIPE-FISH AND ITS INCUBATION - FISH PARADOXES - AN AQUARIUM - SUICIDE OF THE STARFISH -THE PLEUROBRANCHUS - DEVELOPMENT OF EOLIS, DORIS, AND ACTION - SHELL AND NO SHELL - THE PEDICELLINA : IS IT VIVIPAROUS? - THE SAGITTA: A PUZZLE TO ZOOLOGISTS - WHERE THERE IS NO RESPIRATION THERE WILL BE NO CIRCULATION - THE CHYL-AQUEOUS FLUID OF ANEMONES PROVED NOT TO EXIST—EARLIEST STAGE OF A NUTRITIVE FLUID—FUNCTION OF THE " CONVOLUTED BANDS " - DELIGHTS OF LITERATURE.
THE traveller's first wish is Shakespeare's -
" I pray you, let us satisfy our eyes With the memorials and the things of fame That do renown this city."
At Scilly there is no city, and this non-existent city boasts " no things of fame/' unless we choose so to consider the grave where Sir Cloudesley Shovel was first interred—which crowns the negative attractions of the Isles by being no grave at all. I am quite serious. They ask you here, whether you have seen the grave; on investigation, this renowned spot turns out to be destitute even of the rudest stone or landmark to indicate where the bones of the wrecked admiral may imaginatively be supposed to lie ; it is simply a strip of land on the coast,, where no grass will grow by reason of the shifting sand. And yet, if "gossip report" be not wholly a fibber, somewhere in this neighbourhood lie the remains of the great admiral, who was wrecked as he returned home covered with glory, 1500 or even 2000 men perishing with him on these inhospitable rocks. This was a century and a half ago, and tradition, we know, is apt to magnify, vires acquirit eundo. Still, if they will keep up the tradition, they might put up a commemorative stone. Stones are abundant enough, in all conscience ; and, if we believe the antiquaries, some of these stones are invested with the hour of Druidical sanctity.
Druidical erudition is not common. On probing the recesses of my own knowledge on this mysterious subject, I found that the principal source of my familiarity with it was the opera of Norma. For more than twenty years I had reverently followed that splendid priestess Giulia Grisi, and that majestic priest Lablache; and if to these you add the fragments of undeniable Druidical Remains in the persons of the very ancient virgins of the sun, forming the nightly chorus of that opera, little doubt should be thrown on the accuracy of my historical conceptions. With that erudition I had been content. But on reaching Scilly, where the respectable Borlase assured me Druid temples and sacred rock-basins did veritably exist, I was not a little anxious to bring my operatic erudition into direct confrontation with fact. I even cleared my throat for a pathetic burst of moriam insieme, when I should really stand beside a Dolmen, and with the mind's eye behold my casta diva about to perish, the victim of a superstition which had small sympathy with lovers.
Following Borlase's directions, I soon came upon a towering altitude of stones, in solitary isolation on the shore. A less erudite eye would have seen here nothing but a pile of stones; but the forewarned mind descried in their symmetrical arrangement, ledge upon ledge, crag upon crag, the rude architecture of early days; especially when it glanced at the stone-hedges and stone-cottages near at hand, which assuredly were built by human architects, and showed a less symmetrical arrangement than the towering pile. Then, again, the rock-basins, in which the pure water of heaven was received, who could doubt that their oval form and smoothly chiselled sides and bottoms were the work of man ? If the cairn of stones left vague doubts, these rock-basins veritably were Druidical remains ; and thus fortified against scepticism, I indulged in the emotions which naturally accompanied the belief of being in the presence of the remnants of a great human epoch long since passed away.
Having indulged in these emotions, and extracted from them all the pleasure they could yield, it was with acquiescent equanimity that I afterwards learned how little probability historical scepticism allowed to these Druidical remains. It appears that the cairns are simply cairns, and not temples. The architecture is Nature's ; and, indeed, the forms are repeated in almost every cairn along the shores. Moreover, those rock-basins.... '
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