« VorigeDoorgaan »
the nonconforming bodies have been so instrumental in furthering the two last advances of Christianity in the overthrow of persecution and of slavery, they may join us in removing this hindrance of Christian divisions, and thus prepare the way for those fresh waves of progress which yet remain to fulfil the blessed promises of Christianity for the benefit of mankind.
Even while we live in separate communions we may strive to love and honour one another more, respecting each other's motives, even if we fail to understand the principles which actuate them. Let us strive to be less political and partisan, to bear more with each other's weaknesses, to have patience with each other's sins. Let us pray together more earnestly for the fulfilment of Christ's prayer that all who believe in Him may be one.
The power of Christianity is not dead ; it is only the faithless lives of professing Christians which hinder and chill the work. The drawing of the inner life of each one to a nearer likeness to Christ Jesus our Lord is a step towards unity to which we may all attain, for, in the beautiful words of the preacher, “We all recognise Him as the one Being whom it is good to follow, the one Power without weakness, the one Love which knows no change, the one Truth without the shadow of a lie.' “At His feet all Christians of every name gather; by His cross all of every name are attracted, and to all He is the chiefest among ten thousand and altogether lovely.' And we must add with St. Thomas that He is our Lord and our God, for a common belief in the very and eternal Godhead of our Incarnate Lord will ever be the real and only source of all true unity.
A DREDGING GROUND.
No one has so many pleasant memories as the naturalist, and no other naturalist so many perhaps as the marine zoologist, whose sport always or almost always takes him where Nature is at her best, and whose hunting grounds are limited only by the limits of the sea itself. When we come to look into the actual modes and methods by which the marine zoologist inveigles his prey within his grasp, these we find vary considerably. First and foremost there are the rocks and rock-pools, left bare by the ordinary tides, where, with aid of his hammer and his chisel, he cracks and chips his prey from out the oozy crannies and the slippery sides of the weed-fringed boulders. Or, if these show symptoms of becoming exbausted, he waits until springtides lay bare that lowest and least accessible zone wherein his chiefest spoils do congregate. Or again he bribes the local fisherman or fisherwoman to bring him the “rubbidge' found adhering to the lines and lobster pots—a plan which has produced as large a crop of rarities as any that could be named. But perhaps on the whole the easiest, as well as the most profitable, and certainly by very far the most entertaining method of capturing his prey is by means of the naturalist's dredge-which brings me straight to my present subject.
The actual operations of dredging are probably too well known to need description, especially since the return of the Challenger,' with all its freight of things rare and undescribed, over which savants, it is whispered, are even still in some cases hotly disputing. The main difference between these larger operations and our own small shallowwater dredgings is that the process in our case is of course an infinitely simpler one. Instead of a matter of seven or eight or even ten hours, a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes at the most is amply sufficient for the letting down and drawing up of our dredge, while in place of prepared lines and high-pressure engines,' toggles,’“ travellers,' and 'patent accumulators,' an ordinary rope and a pair of good stout arms are the only engines needed. As for the comparative advantages of deep and shallow dredging, a good case probably might be made out on either side. If our chance of a prize is less, on the other hand our danger of an absolute blank—of a dredge returned empty on our hands is less also. Not that the element of luck can at all be
said to be eliminated in our case. Far from it. Indeed in all dredging there is a good deal of the gambling element. You scrape and scrape for hours perhaps, and are rewarded in the end by a boat-load of mud. Then as you turn despairingly homewards, you let down the dredge for one last scrape, and up comes that long looked-for Sertularia, or that Conchifera that you have hitherto only known by a single valve in a friend's collection ! And yet when you return next morning, having carefully taken the bearings, again you scrape and scrape and take nothing, or nothing worth the having. Still, allowing for all drawbacks, few methods of pursuing natural history appear to me to combine so many advantages. There is—to some minds at least-an allurement even in this very uncertainty, and, unlike other branches of zoology, it has the great merit of being practically inexhaustible, since dredge when you will, and where you will, and as long as you will, you may be very sure that you will not exhaust-nay, you will not lay bare a hundredth part, or a hundred-thousandth part of the inexhaustible treasures of the sea.
And now, before proceeding to work, a word as to our dredging ground. The Killary bay or harbour (for it seems to be indifferently called one and the other) is a long and exceedingly narrow lane of water dividing the counties Mayo and Galway, and it is at its mouth I propose our first haul be made. Strictly speaking, the Killary is neither a bay nor a harbour, but a true fiord—the best specimen of one perhaps to be found in the kingdom. Fiords, as the reader will hardly need to be told, are not limited to Norway. The Scotch sea lochs many of them are excellent examples, and others might be pointed out along the coast. At the same time every bay, and even every narrow bay, is not a fiord; indeed it seems doubtful whether the sea under any circumstances is equal to the task of scooping one out single-handed. A fiord may in fact be described as a deep narrow valley or glen, partly open, partly submerged, the water as a rule being deeper within the glen than at the mouth, a fact which alone wonld go far to prove that it had not been excavated by the sea. In Norway many of the valleys which stretch back from the heads of the fiord will be found, if followed up, to end in glaciers. That our little Killary fiord does not end in a glacier at present is obvious, but that it has once so ended becomes on examination scarcely less so, and wherever the upper coating of grass, earth, and stones is removed, there the traces of its presence and the marks of its graving tools are to be seen.
Walking along the shore (a matter, by the way, of no little difficulty), we find that in several places they end in low cliffs, or rather banks of drift, out of which the stones and pebbles protrude. These stones and pebbles are not ranged symmetrically, but rather what may be called no how-like currants and raisins, say, in a slice of plum-cake-big above, little below, without any particular order or sequence. Underneath the ground is littered with similar stones, washed down, not by the sea, but by the slow steady action of running water. In fact the part played by the sea in the shaping of this glen has been but a very mild one. We meet with no cliffs (these tiny drift escarpments hardly deserving the name); no heavy beaches of rolled stones; none of the thousand and one signs of ravage and ruin which we encounter elsewhere along this wave-tormented shore. Here and there the rocks break abruptly down towards the edge, and here and there streams have worn long jagged watercourses : elsewhere the heath-covered hill-sides, dotted with squares of grass, and streaked with long dark lines of boulders, rise upwards at varying angles of incline from a few feet above high-water mark to the cloud-crowned summits above. This absence of cliffs, and indeed of most of the ordinary signs of sea action, is a marked feature of all fiords. Mr. Geikie, in his Great Ice Age, points out that although the shores of many of the Norwegian fiords are thickly strewn with rocks, these on examination will generally be found to be, not waveworn but angular, showing that they have been dislodged rather by the action of ice than by that of the sea, while small buildings, perched on piles rising out of the water, will stand for years, the strength of the waves being insufficient to dislodge them.
Not one of the least charms of our own little Killary is its position with regard to the sunset. Facing as it does nearly due west, with a slight incline to the north, the effect, at least from the southern bank, is as if the mountains to right and left were simply so many frames or bastions set there specially with a view to enhance its splendours. Here night after night for several consecutive summers a show-nay, rather a succession of shows-used to be set out for our delectation. Literally night after night, for it is a remarkable, and moreover an extremely exasperating fact, that in Connemara, as throughout the west of Ireland, the sunset appears to bear uncommonly little reference to the weather which has either preceded or is about to follow it. AHI day perhaps it has rained—incessantly, pitilessly—not a break in the clouds, not a momentary intermission of the unrelenting downpour. Suddenly, about half an hour before sunset, the scene changes. · The clouds draw back and begin to dispose themselves more becomingly to right and left; deep blue spaces appear in the upper sky, paling into green, and passing gradually into all the reds and yellows of sunset. After the sun has gone, long level lines of crimson appear above the horizon. Later a moon rises, clear and serene, as in a world from which all storm and rain have vanished for ever. You
to bed remarking cheerfully that the weather at last seems to have come to its senses, and next morning you spring up, full of hope, to find—that it is raining harder than ever; that the whole landscape is blurred and blotted with mists; that at least two new leaks have sprung in the roof, and that all chance of settled weather seems a good deal further off than before !
Under these circumstances there is but one thing to be done, and that is to avail oneself of every hour, and, if possible, of every minute which the caprice of the sky allows. Imagine us then, reader, starting off to dredge on a fine afternoon late in the month of July: it has rained in the morning, but the rain is now over ; the glass has gone up, and for the next four or five hours we may count on a continuance of fine weather.
From our starting-point on the south bank to the edge of the shore is but a few steps, but the tide is low, and we have a considerable beach of shingle and loose stones to cross before reaching the boat. Up to the brink of high-water mark grow the grass and heather, notably the St. Dabeoc heath, whose silver-lined leaves and large pink bells seem rather to enjoy coming within reach of a dash of spray. Unlike its gregarious kindred, the St. Dabeoc grows chiefly in scattered companies, here mingling with the tufts of thyme, there cropping up in the midst of the Osmunda. As we pass we notice that the bumble-bees have already been at work. Every corolla is punctured with a hole; some with two; others lie scattered about on the ground, and all are more or less scratched and scored with the rough tarsi, which have little regard for its delicate waxen loveliness. Our boatmen are waiting, but still we linger, curious to see if anything comes to make use of the holes. Presently a “Gamma' moth comes sidling up, and begins insinuating its tongue into the top of one of the corollas: but either dissatisfied with the contents, or not liking our neighbourhood, presently darts off, the silver y upon its wings gleaming resplendent as it goes. Next a bumble-bee comes booming along, and without even going through the form of applying at the proper entrance, makes straight for the hole at the side, where it begins feloniously robbing the honey, keeping up a low and evidently dissatisfied hum the while. Presently out it comes, and, with a louder and a yet more disgusted buzz, flies off ; blundering first into a patch of • Ragged Robin,' whose pink colour has for the moment misled it. While we watch to see if it discovers its mistake, a bee hawk-moth passes us like a flash, and the next moment is hovering with vibrating wings and outstretched tongue over a patch of trefoil. An invitation what entomologist could resist ? And in spite of being only armed with our hats and a landing net, we are away in pursuit: up hill and down dale, our prey allowing us to come just within arm's length, and then, with a few rapid evolutions of its wings, soaring away yards out of our reach. This by the way, you perceive, is one of the inconveniences of natural history. You start with the fullest intention of pursuing one branch, and lo! another calls you away, and leaving the first you follow the secondperbaps to find on your return that the moment for the original one is over.
At last, however, we are off. All the pots, pans, and bottles are in.