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full, or it is satisfied it has procured sufficient, it retires to its nest, where it quietly feasts so long as its little store lasts. The hind feet of the male are furnished with a spur about an inch in length, curved and perforated. This is connected with a poisonous gland, but a wound inflicted by it on man produces no ill consequences
except the actual wound, which is not very serious. When the young of the platypus are brought forth they are quite naked, but when they get their first coat of hair they become as playful as kittens. When in captivity they have been observed to be very cleanly, being often engaged in washing their fur after the manner of the cat. They are, however, very tender, and except they receive constant attention they soon die.
MOSSES. PERHAPS many of the young readers of the JUVENILE may be curious as to what we purpose to bring before them under the title of “Remarkable Things. Now, it strikes us that we may not find it unprofitable to show our young friends how great are the wonders which exist in the vegetable kingdom-wonders of which thousands are totally ignorant, and which, therefore, they do not understand or appreciate. We think, in fact, that whilst there is so much that is remarkable in natural history, young people cannot more profitably employ a portion of their leisure hours than by giving their study to these treasures, in preference to the showy but dangerous amusements spread around them in other ways. Such, young readers, is our belief, and therefore we intend monthly to notice some of these remarkable things among vegetables, hoping thereby to awaken interest in your youthful minds, and also to amuse you in an innocent and rightful manner.
As a commencement of the year, we are going to speak for awhile about the mosses, which are certainly amongst the most singular things in botany. When the icy blasts of winter have robbed the woods of their fresh greenness, and the frosts and snows have bowed the heads of many fair plants, mosses still survive, looking green and lively, and offering many wondrous arrangements in their formation. Mosses grow everywhere, covering the old wall or the ruined building, where other plants refuse to grow and flourish, and very often we may see them covering by their beauty the bare and rude bark of the old oak trees. The woodlands are now carpeted by their velvet beauty, and where we least expect to be cheered by vegetable sights, they are seen meekly looking up to us from the sod. And think you, young readers, that these simple things are really so common-place as you often are inclined to consider them? Truly not. Let us reveal to you some of the wonders connected with their formation and appearance.
Amongst other tribes, the Thread-mosses are conspicuous for beauty, and also for wondrous formation. The silvery threadmoss is common on sunny banks and walls, also on roofs and rocks. The seed-cases are egg-shaped, and when green are quite upright, but hang down as soon as ripe, so that by this arrangement the seeds are scattered upon the earth as from a pitcher turned upside down. The leaves are egg-shaped, ending in hairs, but they are so pressed against the stems that they can hardly be seen by the naked eye. This plant, wonderful in the formation of the seed-cases, grows in patches about half an inch high. In autumn, and early in winter, it is of a vivid green, then shining and silvery white, especially when dry. This distinguishes the silvery threadmoss from some of its near relatives. Another very remarkable moss is that called the great hairy thread-moss, the friend of the peasant's hut, for it easily attaches itself by its roots to roofs,
whether thatched or tiled, also on walls and the trunks of trees. It is a curious fact, noticed by the great Linnæus, that when this moss overspreads thatched Vuildings, instead of the thatch lasting only ten years, it will endure for an age. Thus we see that mosses are singular from their uses as well as for their structure. This moss has not much of outward beauty to commend it to us, unless it be growing in patches, and presenting a fine yellowish green, which contrasts pleasingly with the grey bark of aged trees, or old thatch on barns and cottages. In dry seasons the great hairy thread-moss looks of a dull grey or brown. Those of our young
readers who take some pleasure in collecting mosses and placing them in books will find some beautiful examples amongst the thread-mosses, both as regards their form and colour. Wir
One of the species has the stem half as long as the fruit-stalk, and very shining; the leaves are of a greenish-golden hue, forming altogether a firm tuft. The pea-shaped seed-cases turn to a yellow red, which is exquisite in tint, and altogether the little vegetable is well worthy of attention. So, also, is the bordered thread-moss. The yellowish hue of this species is a distinguishing mark; but when we come to place it under the microscope, how greatly is its beauty increased and its colouring variegated! The deep colours of the nerve and margin in each tiny leaf become of a brilliant blood-red, dazzling to behold. Another moss which is
equally interesting under the microscope is the pale-leaved thread. inoss. Though somewhat rare in England, it is not unfrequent among the Scottish mountains. The minute leaves of this plant, which to our naked eyesight do not look particularly wonderful, become astonishing objects under the glass. They seem as if covered with the finest net-work, and the seed-cases show teeth and fringes, and delicately-formed lids. This is indeed a pitcher filled with the finest seeds, upheld by the Creator of this tiny plant to the influences of sun and rain, and when perfected bending gradually to the earth.
But we must leave the thread-mosses, and turn very briefly to some other kinds. As the thread-mosses, so the fringe-mosses are full of wonder to the thoughtful mind. The revolving fringe-moss is common in woods and heaths, on garden-walks, old trees, and walls, and also among decaying wood. Well do we call to mind a country spot where this species grew so abundantly as to form a verdant carpet for the wanderer. Children used to resort to that shady spot, and thus their little feet were continually pressing upon the green covering. Yet they little harmed it, after the heavy dews all was bright and shining as before. In places rarely visited the stems of this moss rise from one to two inches in height, though mostly buried in the earth. The fruit-stalks, full an inch long, uphold their pea-shaped golden-yellow seed-cases. A singular fact connected with the revolving fringe-moss is, that if the fruit-stalk be moistened at the base when it is perfected, the head turns round three or four times. Spiral fibres are thus provided for this little moss, and they answer the same purpose as those of the water-lilies, with all such plants as are peculiarly affected by light or moisture. Very striking in its appropriate places is the long-leaved fringe-moss, one of the largest and handsomest of its kind. Beautiful and shining foot-stalks, resembling polished shafts, of a dark-red colour, uphold seed-cases of equally brilliant colour. Besides these and many other different tribes of these little vegetables, there are the club-mosses. These we can but glance at now, as we wish to hint to our young readers the beauty of mosses when the microscope is employed in their examination
The club-mosses are mostly creeping in their habits, with slender branched stems, clothed with leaves, that overlap each other like the tiling of a house. Like the ferns, these mosses are most abundant in hot countries. Though humble, they are not without their uses. More than one species is used in dyeing operations, and several have medicinal properties. The kind which we have figured is the representative of yet another tribe, the scale
It is called the broad-leaved scale-moss, and our readers will see that it is a striking species. In closing, we would remind our young readers that mosses are amongst the most wondrous of mieroscopic objects. They are most beautiful when examined in
their various parts. And besides the wonderful formation of mosses, surely, young readers, there is a great deal of gentle sentiment connected with them, is there not? Think how beauteous they render our country walks, and then pause in thought by the country graveyard, and see them lovingly covering the last restingplaces of the loved and departed, and may your young hearts bound with gratitude to God, who hath so clothed the earth with forms of life and beauty, and given us these glorious things to study and admire!
QUERY 1.-ON THE KING'S DAUGHTER ALL GLORIOUS WITHIN.
SIR,— In Psalm xlv. 13 it is said, “ The king's daughter is all glorious within.” Will you oblige by an explanation of that passage ? -P. G.
ANSWER.—That psalm celebrates the marriage of two royal personages ; supposed to be Solomon and the daughter of Pharaoh. But the psalm has a higher meaning; it is a sublime prophecy of the Church, the spiritual bride of the Messiah. Loyalty, obedience, and worship are due from the spouse; love, protection, and faithfulness are assured from her Lord. The rich odours and costly attire of an Eastern princess are described, as emblematical of the beauty of holiness, and the graces which adorn the Church. She is both a royal bride and a royal daughter; and she is not only richly attired, but “all glorious within." Some have taken the word “within ” to refer to the place where she retired from public observation, as queens in the East were kept from the eye of strangers. But we think this is not the meaning of the text before us; for the Hebrew word “ within" is feminine, as is the word “glorious,” showing that both words refer to the person of the bride, and not to the place where she retired. The word “ within,” therefore, indicates the inner qualities of her mind. She is not only clothed in rich and costly apparel, but she is endued with the most valuable qualities of mind and heart. She has an inner glory. Even as the Shekinah in the Temple filled it with a splendour surpassing all the gold and ivory which adorned