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shore, each male surrounded by his females, from eight to fifty, and his offspring, amounting frequently, to more than that number. Each family is preserved separate from every other. The ursine seals are extremely fat and indolent, and remain with little exercise, or even motion, for months together upon the shore. But if jealousy, to which they are ever alive, once strongly operate, they are roused to animation by all the fierceness of resentment and vengeance, and conflicts arising from this cause between individuals soon spread through families, till at length the whole shore becomes a scene of the most horrid hostility and havoc. When the conflict is finished, the survivors plunge into the water, to wash off the blood, and recover from their exhaustion. Those which are old, and have lost the solace of connubial life, are reported to be extremely captious, fierce, and malignant, and to live apart from all others, and so tenaciously to be attached to the station, which preso may be supposed to give each a right to call his own, that any attempt at usurpation is resented as the foulestindignity, and the most furious contests frequently occur in consequence of the several claims for a favourite position. It is stated, that in these combats two never fall upon one. These seals are said, in grief, to shed tears very copiously. The male defends his young with the most intrepid courage and fondness, and will often beat the dam, notwithstanding her most supplicating tones and gestures, under the idea that she has been the cause of the destruction or injury which may have occurred to any of them. The flesh of the old male seal is intolerably strong ; that of the female and the young is considered as delicate and nourishing, and compared in tenderness and flavour to the flesh of young pigs. The bottle-nosed seal is found on the Falkland Islands, is twenty feet long, and will produce a butt of oil, and discharge, when stuck to the heart, two hogsheads of blood. . PHQENICOPTEROS, the slamingo, in natural history, a genus of birds of the order Grallae. Generic character: bill naked, toothed, bending in the middle, as if broken ; nostrils covered above with a thin plate and linear ; tongue cartilaginous and pointed; neck, legs, and thighs exceedingly long ; feet webbed, black-toe very small. The P. rubra, or common flamingo, the only species noticed by Latham, is nearly of the size of a
goose, and upwards of four feet long. When mature in plumage, these birds are all over of the most deep and beautiful scarlet : but this maturity they never acquire till their third year. They are found in America, as far north as the southern borders of the United States, France, Spain, and Italy, in Syria and in Persia, but more frequently than any where else, on the coast of Africa downwards to the Cape. They build their nest of mud, in the shape of a hillock, and in a cavity on the top of it the female deposits two white eggs, on which she sits, having her legs dependent one on each side of the hillock. The young ones run with great swiftness, but are unable to fly till they have attained nearly their complete growth. They subsist chiefly on small fishes, ova, and water insects, and frequent, during the day, the borders of rivers and lakes, withdrawing at night to the high grounds, and lodging amidst the long grass. They are extremely shy, and are stated, almost always, unless in the breeding season, to keep together in flocks, having a centinel, ever vigilant at his post, by whom the slightest approaching danger is announced, by intimations which produce immediate flight. Their flesh is thought by some not inferior to that of the partridge, but their tongue was one of the most valued dainties of Roman epicurism. They have been sometimes reared tame, but are with difficulty preserved, and their susceptibility of cold is exquisite. PHOENIX, in astronomy, one of the constellations of the southern hemisphere, unknown to the ancients, and invisible in our northern parts. This constellation is said to consist of thirteen stars. Phoenix, in botany, a genus of the Appendix Palmae. Natural order of Palms. Essential character: calyx three parted; corolla three-petalled : male, stamina three ; female, pistil one; drupe ovate. There are two species, viz. P. dactyrofera, date palm-tree, and P. farinifera, natives of the Levant and Coromandel. PHONICS, the doctrine or science of sounds. See Acoustics. This science has been considered as analogous to that of optics, and is divided into direct, refracted, and reflected ; these have been called phonics, diaphonics, and cataphonics; but the terms are now well nigh obsolete. Phonics is a science that may be improved with regard to the object, the medium, and the organ.
The object may be improved with respect to the production and propagation of sounds. With regard to the medium, phonics may be improved by its thinness and quiescency, and by the sonorous body, being placed near a smooth wall, either plain or arched, more especially if it be formed after some peculiar curve, as from this arises the theory and practice of whispering places. Sound is much sweetened, if it is propagated in the vicinity of water; and on a plain, it will be conveyed much further than on uneven und.
PHORMIUM, in botany, a genus of the Hexandria Monogynia class and order. Natural order of Coronariae. Asphodeli, Jussieu. Essential character: calyx mone; corolla six-petalled, the three inner petals longer ; , capsule oblong, three-sided; seeds oblong, compressed. There is but one species, viz. P. tenax, New Zealand flax-plant. The inhabitants of New Zealand make a thread of the leaves, with which the women weave a variety of fine matting for clothing, and several other
urposes. It is also manufactured in Nor. olk Island for canvass and coarse linen cloths.
PHOSPHATES, in chemistry, salts formed of the phosphoric acid, with earths, alkalies, &c. The alkaline phosphates are soluble and crystallizable; they are also fusible, forming a kind of glass, and facilitate the fusion of a number of other substances. They may be decomposed in the humid way, by sulphuric and some other acids; but in the dry way, these decompositions do not often happen. The phosphate of soda is much used in medicine; it is purely saline, without any bitterness, which renders it a good substitute for Epsom and Glauber's salts. . As it melts easily, and promotes the fusion of the earths and metallic oxides, it is used in chemical operations as a flux. Phosphate of ammonia exists in the urine of car. nivorous animals in considerable quantity, united with phosphate of soda, forming a triple salt, formerly denominat. ed microcosmic, or fusible salt, in urine.
END OF WOL, IX.