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the toads and salamanders of this country. They assert having inoculated various animals with the poison from the skin pustules of these amphibia, and have demonstrated their poisonous quality on other animals. I have not space to relate my experiments; but I have been handling varieties of the Bufoidae, the Kanides, and other divisions of the Amphibians almost every year of my life, in every stage of transition, and never could trace the slightest approximation to poison in their skins.
Before me, at this moment of writing, mon bien aim'e "Peter" is scrambling, in his lazy fashion, over my hand. You ask, "Who is Peter?" He is a salamander (Salamandra vulgaris of American herpetologists). He has been my companion nearly two years. He lives in a flower-pot half full of clay, covered with moss kept ever beautifully green by moistening.
Years ago, "way down South," a ball of earth, gravel, and clay was sent me, saying, " it was alive—it moved." And so it did; but on opening this ball one of these pretty salamanders looked out with astonishment upon a world so new to him. We enjoyed ourselves very much for a month or more; but alas! one unlucky morning, while holding him in the palm of my hand, the other engaged with a magnifier watching the oozing from the pores of his skin the moisture which the heat of my hand caused to evaporate over his body, another pet—a large white crane of the South, called familiarly "Poor Job"—crept up near me, and, with a dash of his long neck, my little pet was gobbled up, and disappeared from mortal ken.
Nearly two years ago a kind friend, remembering the hobby I ride, brought me another ball. This last was found here (in Connecticut), nearly eight feet below the surface. A fine tree had been blown down by a storm, and men were engaged in throwing up the earth to see whether it could not be drawn back into position, and take root again, consequently saved; and with a spadeful of earth "Peter," in his ball, rolled forth. He had reposed in a perfect mould— every crease, wrinkle, and toe were distinctly traced in the soft clay. He was stiff, almost lifeless; but on being exposed to the warm air of the room he slowly revived, but did not become lively or active until spring was far advanced. Of course I had nothing to feed him on. Slugs had disappeared, and flies had gone into winter-quarters, so for months he lived and thrived upon cold water; he is now lively and brisk under the same rigime, having enjoyed four flies in as many months.
He has grown considerably since his resurrection. This summer he has averaged twenty flies a day, but as fall approached he was satisfied with fewer; even in November, when they were still plentiful, he would take but three a day— but how languid and thin he becomes if by chance you neglect to soak the moss or to bathe him! He is little more than four inches long, beautifully mottled with pearly white and black, in lozenges, triangles, and crescents over his
back. These spots were very faint, almost unseen, when he first emerged; but having been nicely nursed and looked after, he does credit to the company he keeps, and is exceedingly pretty. He knows his name; go ever so softly to the jar and whisper "Peter," and up pops from the moss the little square head. But the oddity of the answering action is that he does not see you. This cold weather he keeps the lids down over his eyes; but his power of hearing is very acute. This is the only mark of hibernating he has ever exhibited, except once, when absent about two weeks and no fire being made in the room, he found it necessary for comfort to descend into the clay; but he left about half an inch of his tail above the surface, by way of thermometer I conclude, for the fire had not been made a quarter of an hour before he was aware of it, and backed out to his usual position under the moss.
The query I have often asked myself is, how they can manage to get into these balls of earth? The only conclusion I can arrive at is that they roll themselves to and fro, as I have often seen him do, until the skin becomes incrusted with clay in layers over it to keep in the moisture. In a state of nature, these never being disturbed, the earth adheres more and more, they meanwhile obtaining their moisture from the absence of light and the porous nature of the clay. They could exist ages in such a domicile unchanged— the earth ball increasing by the adhesiveness of its own natural laws.
"Peter" andl are not in every respect such good friends as we were formerly. I was engaged, late in the autumn, lulling with chloroform into everlasting sleep a fine moth. A plump, gay fly came buzzing along, which I soon entrapped, and hastened to the jar, inviting "Peter" to the repast; but, most unfortunately, I offered it with the finger and thumb which had just been experimenting in chloroform. He came eagerly forth at my call, but had no sooner approached his head toward the fly than he drew back under the moss. Since then, if he has been starving for weeks, he will not accept any thing in the eating line from mo, but another member of the family has only to announce her presence, when his head pops up to see what he can devour; before this contretemps no one could get him to accept any thing but myself.
I can not conceive how the fabulous accounts among the ancients concerning this division of Amphibia could have originated—their fancied resistance to fire, their ability to suffer any amount of heat, their poisonous stinging, dangerous qualities, etc. I might as well add— which are still existent among the moderns. The truth is, as my own experience demonstrates —and I have seen almost all the varieties we have in this country—they can not stand heat at all.
The longest time I dare hold "Peter" on my hand, without seeing him ready to expire with anguish from the oppression caused from its natural warmth, is less than two minutes. The sweat literally (pardon this vulgar term, but it is the only word to express the state he will be in) bursts in globules, and runs down on to my hand; his sides and throat pant, his eyes distend, his jaws relax and open, his legs lose their strength; and if not thrown instantly into water I know he would expire. He loses all his good looks if the moss becomes dry or the room is over-warm, becoming stupefied and dull; and as for light, he can not suffer it any more than he "whose deeds are evil." Put him down any where, and away he will scamper under a book, up your sleeve, into a drawer—any where, so he gets his head, like the ostrich, hidden; then he imagines himself safe. By candle, or lamp-light , or moonlight, or sunlight, it is all the same; but a dark night, when you can barely distinguish any thing by the light of the stars, he is happy, and enjoys a ramble over the moss or other jars of plants amazingly. They are strictly nocturnal animals, and were not made for the garish light of day; they exist only in wet and dark places, rambling abroad for food, which consists, in a state of nature, of slugs, worms, and insects of the diptera order. Again, it is said when frightened they will emit an acrid, milky fluid, which oozes from tubercles on the sides of the body, and that this is poisonous to small animals. It may be so with those in Europe, but with all my watchfulness I have never observed a semblance even of this white fluid; and furthermore, the pores which throw out the moisture, and which evidently absorb it, range only along the head, back, and tail, at a line just above where the
legs intersect the body. While "Peter" is apparently perspiring at every pore, drop chalk or any white powder over his body, instantly it becomes absorbed by the moisture above this line, but can be easily brushed off with a camel'shair pencil below it.
And a beautiful provision of Nature this is: for if the clay for the purpose of retaining moisture adhered to the entire body, it would be impossible for the little animal to move abroad after food; his legs would become so incrusted and his body so weighty that, unless the food came to it, it must starve—which is a sequence Mother Nature would never recognize.
In the mating season the male exudes a fluid, as it passes along, which leaves behind him a powerful odor, closely resembling the fashionable perfume " patchoulie," and which, probably, may have been mistaken for the moisture of a milky nature said to flow from the body.
But I shall weary you: permit me only to add, I have selected here a chapter of truths for your amusement, may I hope for your instruction. But yet there is a moral to all this which blesses the giver as much as the recipient. It is to become familiar, to cultivate the society of every living thing that crosses your path. Yon will find so much to amuse, to amaze, to admire, and to love, you will never be weary with too much variety; there is so much to learn—a new and divine Thought in every creeping, leaping, walking, flying creature—that Life will become to you of double significance.
THE ADVENTURES OF PHILIP.
BY W. M. THACKERAY.
pleasant chatter and rattle of the teeth; the hot fit an agreeable warmth; and though the ensuing sleep, with which I believe such aguish attacks are usually concluded, was enlivened by several dreams of death, demons, and torture, how felicitous it was to wake and find that dreadful thought of ruin removed which had always, for the last few months, ever since Dr. Finnin's flight and the knowledge of his own imprudence, pursued the good-natured gentleman! What! this boy might go to college, and that get his commission; and their meals need be imbittered by no more dreadful thoughts of the morrow, and their walks no longer were dogged by imaginary bailiffs, and presented a jail in the vista! It was too much bliss; and again and again the old soldier said his thankful prayers, and blessed his benefactor.
Philip thought no more of his act of kindness, except to be very grateful, and very nappy that he had rendered other people so. He could no more have taken the old man's all, and plunged that innocent family into poverty, than he could have stolen the forks off my table. But other folks were disposed to rate his virtue much more highly; and among these was my wife, who chose positively to worship this young gentleman, and I believe would have let him smoke in her drawing-room if he had been so minded, and though her genteelest acquaintances were in the room. Goodness knows what a noise and what piteous looks are produced if ever the master of the house chooses to indulge in a cigar after dinner; but then, you understand, / have never declined to claim mine and my children's right because an old gentleman would be inconvenienced: and this is what I tell Mrs. Pen. If I order a coat from my tailor must I refuse to pay him because a rogue steals it, and ought I to expect to be let off? Women won't see matters of fact in a matter-of-fact point of view; and justice, unless it is tinged with a little romance, gets no respect from them.
So, forsooth, because Philip has performed this certainly most generous, most dashing, most reckless piece of extravagance, he is to be held up as a perfect preux chevalier. The most riotous dinners are ordered for him. We are to wait until he comes to breakfast, and he is pretty nearly always late. The children are to be sent round to kiss uncle Philip, as he is now called. The children? I wonder the mother did not jump up and kiss him too. Kile en etait capable. As for the osculations which took place between Mrs. Pendennis and her new-found young friend, Miss Charlotte Baynes, they were perfectly ridiculous; two school-children could not have behaved more absurdly; and I don't know which seemed to be the youngest of these two. There were colloquies, assignations, meetings on the ramparts, on the pier, where know I?—and the servants and little children of the two establishments were perpetually trotting to and fro with letters from dearest Laura to dearest Charlotte, and dearest Charlotte to her dearest Mrs. Pendeunis. Why, my wife absolutely went the length of saying that dearest Charlotte's mother, Mrs. Baynes, was a worthy, clever woman, and a good mother—a woman whose tongue never ceased clacking about the regiment, and all the officers, and all the officers' wives; of whom, by-the-way, she had very little good to tell.
"A worthy mother, is she, my dear?" I say. "But, oh, mercy! Mrs. Baynes would be an awful mother-in-law!"
I shuddered at the thought of having such a commouplace, hard, ill-bred woman in a state of quasi authority over me.
On this Mrs. Laura must break out in quite a petulant tone—" Oh, how stale this kind of thing is, Arthur, from a man qui veut passer pour un homme d'esprit! You are always attacking mothers-in-law!"
"Witness Mrs. Mackenzie, my love—Clive Newcome's mother-in-law. That's a nice creature! not selfish, not wicked, not—"
"Not nonsense, Arthur!"
"Mrs. Baynes knew Mrs. Mackenzie in the West Indies, as she knew all the female army. She considers Mrs. Mackenzie was a most elegant, handsome, dashing woman—only a little too fond of the admiration of our sex. There was, I own, a fascination about Captain Goby.
Do you remember, my love, that man with the stays and dyed hair, who—"
"Oh, Arthur! When our girls marry, I suppose you will teach their husbands to abuse, and scorn, and mistrust their mother-in-law. Will he, my darlings? will he, my blessings?" (This apart to the children, if you please.) "Go! I have no patience with such talk!"
'' Well, my love, Mrs. Baynes is a most agreeable woman; and when I have heard that story about the Highlanders at the Cape of Good Hope a few times more" (I do not tell it here, for it has nothing to do with the present history), "I dare say I shall begin to be amused by it."
"Ah! here comes Charlotte, I'm glad to say. How pretty she is! What a color! What a dear creature!"
To all which of course I could not say a contradictory word, for a prettier, fresher lass than Miss Baynes, with a sweeter voice, face, laughter, it was difficult to see.
"Why does mamma like Charlotte better than she likes us ?" says our dear and justly indignant eldest girl.
"I could not love her better if I were her mother-in-law "says Laura, running to her young friend, casting a glance at me over her shoulder; and that kissing nonsense begins between the two ladies. To be sure the girl looks uncommonly bright and pretty with her pink cheeks, her bright eyes, her slim form, and that charming white India shawl which her father brought home for her.
To this osculatory party enters presently Mr. Philip Firmin, who has been dawdling about the ramparts ever since breakfast. He says he has been reading law there. He has found a jolly quiet place to read. Law, has he? And much good may it do him! Why has he not gone back to his law, and his reviewing?
"You must—you must stay on a little longer. You have only been here five days. Do, Charlotte, ask Philip to stay a little."
All the children sing in a chorus, "Oh, do, unclePhilip, stay a little longer!" Miss Baynes says, "I hope you will stay, Mr. Firmin," and looks at him.
"Five days has he been here? Five years. Five lives. Five hundred years. What do you mean? In that little time of—let me see, n hundred and twenty hours, and at least a half of them for sleep and dinner (for Philip's appetite was very fine)—do you mean that in that little time his heart, cruelly stabbed by a previous monster in female shape, has healed, got quite well, and actually begun to be wounded again? Have two walks on the pier, as many visits to the Tintelleries (where he hears the story of the Highlanders at the Cape of Good Hope with respectful interest), a word or two about the weather, a look or two, a squeezekin, perhaps, of a little handykin—I say, do you mean that this absurd young idiot, and that little round-faced girl, pretty, certainly, but only just out of the school-room — do you mean to say that they have— Upon my word, Laura, this is too bad. Why, Philip has not a penny piece in the world."
'' Yes, he has a hundred pounds, and expects to sell his mare for ninety at least. He has excellent talents. He can easily write three articles a week in the Pall Mall Gazette. I am sure no one writes so well, and it is much better done and more amusing than it used to be. That is three hundred a year. Lord Ringwood must be applied to, and must and shall get him something. Don't you know that Captain Baynes stood by Colonel Ringwood's side at Busaco, and that they were the closest friends? And pray, how did we get on, I should like to know? How did we get on, baby?"
"How did we det on?" says the baby.
"Oh, woman! woman!"yells the father of the family. "Why, Philip Firmin has all the habits of a rich man with the pay of a mechanic. Do you suppose he ever sate in a second-class carriage in his life, or denied himself any pleasure to which he had a mind? He gave five francs to a beggar girl yesterday."
"He had always a noble heart," says my wife. "He gave a fortune to a whole family a week ago; and" (out comes the pocket-handkerchief —oh, of course, the pocket-handkerehief)—"and —' God loves a cheerful giver!'"
"He is careless; he is extravagant; he is lazy; I don't know that he is remarkably clever—"
"Oh, yes! he is your friend, of course. Now, abuse him—do, Arthur!"
"And, pray, when did you become acquainted with this astounding piece of news?" I in'Hlire.
'' When? From the very first moment when I sawCharlotte lookingat him, to be sure. The poor child said to me only yesterday, 'Oh. Laura! he is our preserver!' And their preserver he has been, under Heaven."
"Yes. But he has not got a five-pound note I" I cry.
"Arthur, I am surprised at you. Oh, men, men are awfully worldly! Do you suppose Heaven will not send him help at its good time, and be kind to him who has rescued so many from ruin? Do you suppose the prayers, the blessings of that father, of those little ones, of that dear child, will not avail him? Suppose he has to wait a year, ten years, have they not time, and will not the good day come?"
Yes. This was actually the talk of a woman of sense and discernment when her prejudices and romance were not in the way, and she looked forward to the marriage of these folks, some ten years hence, as confidently as if they were both rich, and going to St. George's tomorrow.
As for making a romantic story of it, or spinning out love conversations between Jenny and Jessamy, or describing moonlight raptures and passionate outpourings of two young hearts and so forth—excuse me, s'il vons plait. I am a man of the world, and of a certain age. Let the young people fill in this outline, and color it as they please. Let the old folks who read lay
down the book a minute and remember. It is well remembered, isn't it, that time? Yes, good John Anderson and Mrs. John. Yes, good Darby and Joan. The lips won't tell now what they did once. To-day is for the happy, and tomorrow for the young, and yesterday, is not that dear and here too?
I was in the company of an elderly gentleman not very long since, who was perfectly sober, who is not particularly handsome, or healthy, or wealthy, or witty; and who, speaking of his past life, volunteered to declare that he would gladly live every minute of it over again. Is a man who can say that a hardened sinner, not aware how miserable he ought to be by rights, and therefore really in a most desperate and deplorable condition; or is he fortunatus niminm, and ought his statue to be put up in the most splendid and crowded thoroughfare of the town? Would you who are reading this, for example, like to live your life over again? What has been its chief joy? What are to-day's pleasures? Are they so exquisite that you would prolong them forever? Would you like to have the roast beef on which you have dined brought back again to table, and have more beef, and more, and more? Would you like to hear yesterday's sermon over and over again—eternally voluble? Would you like to get on the Edinburgh mail and travel outside for fifty hours, as you did in your youth? You might as well say you would like to go into the flogging-room and take a turn under the rods: you would like to be thrashed over again by your bully at school: you would like to go to the dentist's, where your dear parents were in the habit of taking you: you would like to be taking hot Epsom salts, with a piece of dry bread to take away the taste: you would like to be jilted by your first love' you would like to be going in to your father to tell him you had contracted debts to the amount of x -\-y -\- z, while you were at the University. As I consider the passionate griefs of childhood, the weariness and sameness of shaving, the agony of corns, and the thousand other ills to which flesh is heir, I cheerfully say for one, I am not anxious to wear it forever. No. I do not want to go to school again. I do not want to hear Trotman's sermon over again. Take me out and finish me. Give me the cup of hemlock at once. Here's a health to you, my lads. Don't weep, my Simmias. Be cheerful, my Pha?don. Ha! I feel the co-o-old stealing, stealing upjward. Now it is in my ankles—no more gout in my foot: now my knees are numb. What, is—is that poor executioner crying too? Goodby. Sacrifice a cock to Jescu—to^Escula— . . . Have you ever read the chapter in Grote's History t Ah! When the Sacred Ship returns from Delos, and is telegraphed as entering into port, may we be at peace and ready!
What is this funeral chant, when the pipes should be playing gayly as Love, and Youth, and Spring, and Joy are dancing under the windows. Look you. Men not so wise as Socrates have their demons, who will be heard and whisper in the queerest times and places. Perhaps I shall have to tell of a funeral presently, and shall be outrageously cheerful; or of an execution, and shall split my sides with laughing. Arrived at my time of life, when I see a penniless young friend falling in love, and thinking, of course, of committing matrimony, what can I do but be melancholy? How is a man to marry who has not enough to keep ever so miniature a brougham—ever so small a house—not enough to keep himself, let alone a wife and family? Gracious powers! is it not blasphemy to marry without fifteen hundred a year? Poverty, debt, protested bills, duns, crime, fall assuredly on the wretch who has not fifteen—say at once two thousand a year; for you can't live decently in London for less. And a wife whom you have met a score of times at balls or breakfasts, and with her best dresses and behavior at a country house—how do you know how she will turn out; what her temper is; what her relatious are likely to be? Suppose she has poor relatious, or loud coarse brothers who are always dropping in to dinner? What is her mother like? and can you bear to have that woman meddling and domineering over your establishment? Old General Bavnes was very well—a weak, quiet, and presentable old man; but Mrs. General Baynes, and that awful Mrs. Major MacWhirter—and those hobbledehoys of boys in creaking shoes, hectoring about the premises? As a man of the world I saw all these dreadful liabilities impending over the husband of Miss Charlotte Baynes, and could not view them without horror. Gracefully and slightly, but wittily and in my sarcastic way, I thought it my duty to show up the oddities of the Baynes family to Philip. I mimicked the boys, and their clumping Bluchor-boots. I touched off the dreadful military ladies, very smartly and cleverly as I thought, and as if I never supposed that Philip had any idea of Miss Baynes. To do him justice, he laughed once or twice; then he grew very red. His sense of humor is very limited; that even Laura allows. Then he came out with strong expression, and said it was a confounded shame, and strode off with his cigar. And when I remarked to my wife how susceptible he was in some things, and how little in the matter of joking, she shrugged her shoulders, and said, " Philip not only understood perfectly well what I said, but would tell it all to Mrs. General and Mrs. Major on the first opportunity." And this was the fact, as Mrs. Baynes took care to tell me afterward. She was aware who was her enemy. She was aware who spoke ill of her and her blessed darling behind our backs. And "do you think it was to see you or any one belonging to your stunt-up heuse, Sir, that we came to you so often, which we certainly did, day and night, breakfast and supper, and no thanks to you? No, Sir! ha, ha!" lean see her flaunting out of my sitting-room as she speaks with a strident laugh, and snapping her dingily-gloved fingers at the door. Oh, Philip, Philip! To think that you were such a coward
as to go and tell her! But I pardon him; from my heart I pity and pardon him.
For the step which he is meditating, you may be sure that the young man himself does not feel the smallest need of pardon or pity. He is in a state of happiness so crazy that it is useless to reason with him. Not being at all of a poetical turn originally, the wretch is actually perpetrating verse in secret, and my servants found fragments of his manuscript on the dressing-table in his bedroom. Heart and art, sever and forever, and so on; what stale rhymes are these? I do not feel at liberty to give in entire the poem which our maid found in Mr. Philip's room, and brought sniggering to my wife, who only said "Poor thing!" The fact is, it was too pitiable. Such maundering rubbish! Such stale rhymes, and such old thoughts! But then, says Laura, "I dare say all people's love-making is not amusing to their neighbors; and I know who wrote not very wise love-verses when he was young." No, I won't publish Philip's verses, until some day he shall mortally offend me. I can recall some of my own written under similar circumstances with twinges of shame, and shall drop a veil of decent friendship over my friend's folly.
Under that veil, meanwhile, the young man is perfectly contented, nay, uproariously happy. All earth and nature smiles round about him. "When Jove meets his Juno, in Homer, Sir," says Philip, in his hectoring way, "don't immortal flowers of beauty spring up around them, and rainbows of celestial hues bend over their heads? Love, Sir, flings a halo round the loved one. Where she moves rise roses, hyacinths, and ambrosial odors. Don't talk to me about poverty, Sir! He either fears his fate too much or his desert is small, who dares not put it to the touch and win or lose it all! Haven't I endured poverty? Am I not as poor now as a man can be—and what is there in it? Do I want for any thing? Haven't I got a guinea in my pocket? Do I owe any man any thing? Isn't there manna in the wilderness for those who have faith to walk in it? That's where you fail, Pen. By all that is sacred, you have no faith; your heart is cowardly, Sir; and if you are to escape, as perhaps you may, I suspect it is by your wife that you will be saved. Laura has a trust in Heaven, but Arthur's morals are a genteel atheism. Just reach me that claret— the wine's not bad. I say your morals are a genteel atheism, and I shudder when I think of your condition. Talk to me about a brougham being necessary for the comfort of a woman! A broomstick to ride to the moon! And I don't say that a brougham is not a comfort, mind you; but that, when it is a necessity, mark you, Heaven will provide it! Why, Sir, hang it, look at me! Ain't I suffering in the most abject poverty? I ask you is there a man in London so poor as I am? And since my father's ruin do I want for any thing? I want for shelter for a day or two. Good. There's my dear Little Sister ready to give it me. I want for money. Does not that sainted widow's cruse pour its oil