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The purple-staining whelks (b. lapillus) were formerly celebrated on the coasts of the Mediterranean, an account of a valuable purple dye which was extracted from them. They have, however, of late years, been entirely neglected, in consequence of the discovery of cochineal, from which a dye equally excellent, and at much less cost, is to be procured. The number of these shells necessary to have been collected together for the purpose of dying even a small quantity of cloth, must have been very great. The dying matter, like the ink in the cuttle-fish, is found in a peculiar reservoir, situated in the upper part of the body, and on one side of the stomach. This reservoir is very small, being seldom so large as a small pea. A handkerchief stained with the colouring matter of the whelk will retain its brilliancy for many years; but the purple tint does not appear till the linen has been exposed for some time to the action of the sun and air. In Britain, there are several kinds of shell-fish which furnish a dye of this sort, but these are seldom sought after.-See our frontispiece, fig. 3, for the buccinum harpa, or, harpshell; and fig. 5, for the b. striatum, or striped whelk.
25. Strombus, screw-shell ; inhabitant, a limas.
Inhabitants of the ocean, and usually found upon rocky shores.
26. Murex, rock-shell; inhabitant, a limax. Found on rocky shores, within the influx of the tide; some few burrow in the sand, and the whole are entirely marine. Their shells are mostly rugged, strong and heavy, from which circumstance they have obtained the name of rock-shells. The purpure of the antients belong to this genus. From these shells, or rather from their inhabitants, is furnished the famous Tyrian purple. A single vein situated near the head of the fish contains this colouring liquor. See. also p. xx.
..: 27. Trochus, top-shell; inhabitant, a slug.
Most kinds are marine, and some few are found on land in moist places; the generality of them reside in deep water, others in shallows, that are left nearly dry at the reflux of the tide : the species are very numerous, and several kinds are common to the British shores. The t. conchyliophones possesses the remarkable faculty of attaching stones and fragments of shells to his testaceous covering during the period of its formation. : 28. Turbo, wreath-shell; inhabitant, a slug. · Some of the species in this and the preceding genera are very likely to be confounded; but by attentively observing the round or angular form of their apertures, their proper family may readily be determined. Most of the kinds inhabit the sea, some fresh waters, and others are met with on land: the most valuable marine species are fished up from deep waters, or found adhering to rocks and stones below high-water mark. This is a very extensive genus, and a very considerable number are found on the British shores. The common periwinkle (t. littoreus) is, in this country, more extensively used as food than any of the other testaceous univalves. This shell is easily gathered, as it is found on all our rocks which are left uncovered by the ebbing of the tide. Children are principally employed in this fishery, and the shells are sold by measure. They are in general used after being plainly boiled, and are consumed in great quantities by the poor inhabitants on the coast.
29. Helix, snail; inhabitant, a slug. Of the land species, almost every place produces some one or other of the kinds: they are found on trees, walls, moist mossy banks, under stones, &c. Of the aquatic species, some are found on the sea shores, on the banks or margins of rivers, brooks,
and ponds, but mostly in shallow waters: the whole are of very brittle substance, and exceedingly susceptible of injury. Some of the kinds are used as food: the species are very numerous, nearly seventy being found in Great Britain.
The All-wise Author of Nature has denied to these animals the use of feet and claws, to enable them to move from place to place; but he has made them ample amends in a way more commodious to their habits and mode of life, by the broad skin along each side of the belly, and the power of motion which this possesses. By this motion they are enabled to creep; and by the skin, assisted with the glutinous slime emitted from their body, they adhere firmly and securely even to the smoothest surfaces. When the snail is in motion, four horns are distinctly seen on its head; but the two uppermost and longest of these deserve peculiar consideration, both on account of the various motions with which they are endued, and also from their having eyes at the extreme ends of them. These eyes appear like two blackish points, and, when taken from the body, are of a bulbous figure. They have but one coat; and the vitreous, the aqueous, and the crystalline humours, are (though not very distinctly) to be seen. The animal is able to direct them towards different objects at pleasure, by a regular motion out of the body; and sometimes it hides them, by a very swift contraction into the belly. Under the smaller horns is the animal's mouth; and though its substance may appear too soft to be furnished with teeth, yet it has no fewer than eight. With this it chews leaves and other substances, seemingly harder than any part of its own body; and with these it even sometimes bites off pieces of its own shell. ..The snail, if its shell be broken, has a power of mending it. Even when apparently crushed to pieces, these animals will set to work, and with the slimy substance they force from their bodies, which
soon hardens, they in a few days close up all the numerous chasms. The junctures, however, are easily distinguishable; and the whole shell, in some measure, resembles an old coat patched with new pieces. But, although the animal has the power of repairing its shell, it is not able to form a new one. Some curious instances of their wonderful tenacity of life may be seen in Bingley's Animal Biography, vol. iii, pp. 469-471.,
An inadvertent step may crush the snail,.
Will step aside, and let the reptile live. - The esculent snail (h. pomatia) is the largest of all the land-snails produced in this country. It is found in the woods and under hedges in Northamptonshire, and in some of the southern counties. At the commencement of winter, it carefully closes up its shell with a thick white cover or operculum attached to its body, that just fills up the opening, and in this inclosed state remains until the commencement of warm weather, seldom appearing abroad till about the beginning of April. - It is large and fleshy, and, when properly cooked, not unpleasant to the taste. Among the Romans it constituted a favourite dish; but, if the account of Varro is to be credited, they had it of a size infinitely larger than any now known; for this writer assures us, that the shells of some of them would hold ten quarts:Iand, we need not (says Mr. Pennant) admire the temperance of the supper of the younger Pliny, which consisted of only a lettuce a piece, three SNAILS, two eggs, a barley-cake, sweet wine and snow, in case his snails bore any proportion in size to those just mentioned. They kept these animals in what were called cochlearia, or snail-stews. These were generally formed under rocks or eminences, whose bottoms were watered by lakes or. rivers; and, if a natural dew. or moisture was not
found, they formed an artificial one, by bringing into the place a pipe bored full of holes, like a wateringpot, through which it was continually sprinkled. They required little attendance or food, supplying themselves, in a great measure, as they crawled about the sides or floor of their habitation. To fatten them, however, they were fed with bran and sodden lees of wine.
They are even yet much admired in some parts of the Continent, and are not always used from economical motives; for at Vienna, a short time since, seven of them were charged the same at an inn as a plate of real or beef, The usual modes of preparing them for the table, are by boiling, frying them in butter, or sometimes stuffing them with force meat; but, in what manner soever they are dressed, their sliminess always in a great measure remains. The greatest quantities, and the finest snails, are brought from Suabia. Dr. Brown, who travelled to Vienna above a century ago, remarks, that since the markets were so well supplied with other provisions,' he was surprised to meet with some odd dishes at their tables, such as guinea-pigs, and divers sorts of snails and tortoises. Dr. Townson was sbown, at Eylau, a snailery, which, the proprietor informed him, was constructed on an improved plan. In our island, he says, this might have had the denomination of a Patent Snailery, or Philosophical Snail-sty. It consisted only of a large hole, two or three feet deep, dug in the ground, having a wooden house as a cover. The animals in this place were fed on the refuse of the garden, which was thrown into them. There seems some doubt as to the original introduction of these snails into England: Pennant says, it was by Sir Kenelm Digby; and Da Costa, that a Charles Howard, Esq. of the Arundel family, brought some of them, in the last century, from Italy, in the hope of rendering them an article of food in England; and, for this purpose, dispersed them about the woods