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rope two inches in circumference. A few years ago there was a person at Oxford who could hold his arm extended for half a minute, with half a hundred weight hanging on his little finger."* We are also told by Desaguliers of a man who, by bending his body into an arch, and having a harness fitted to his hips, was capable of sustaining a cannon weighing two or three thousand pounds. And not many winters ago, the celebrated Belzoni, when first entering on public life, exhibited himself in the theatres of this metropolis, and by a similar kind of harnessing was capable of supporting, even in an upright position, a pyramid of ten or twelve men surmounted by two or three children, whose aggregate weight could not be much less than 2000 pounds; with which weight he walked repeatedly towards the front of the stage.
The prodigious powers thus exerted by human muscles will lead us to behold with less surprise the proofs of far superior powers exerted by the muscles of other animals, though it will by no means lead us to the means of accounting for such facts.
The elephant, which may be contemplated as a huge concentration of animal excellencies, is capable of carrying with ease a burden of between three and four thousand pounds. With its stupendous trunk (which has been calculated by Cuvier to consist of upwards of thirty thousand distinct muscles) it snaps off the stoutest branches from the stoutest trees, and tears up the trees themselves with its tusks. How accumulated the power that is lodged in the muscles of the lion! With a single stroke of his paw, he
* Young's Lect. on Nat. Phil. i. 129.
breaks the back-bone of a horse, and is said to run off with a buffalo in his jaws at full speed: he crushes the bones between his teeth, and swallows them as a part of his food.
Nor is it necessary, in the mystery of the animal economy, that the muscles should always have the benefit of a bony lever. The tail of the whale is merely muscular and ligamentous; and yet this is the instrument of its chief and most powerful attack; and, possessed of this instrument, to adopt the language of an old and accurate observer *, a long boat he valueth no more than dust, for he can beat it all in shatters at a blow." The skeleton of the shark is entirely cartilaginous, and totally destitute of proper bone; yet is it the most dreadful tyrant of the ocean it devours with its cartilaginous jaws whatever falls in its way; and in one of its species, the squalus carcharias, or white shark, which is often found thirty feet long, and of not less than four thousand pounds weight, has been known to swallow a man whole at once.
The sepia octopodia, or eight-armed cuttle-fishthe polypus of Aristotle-is found occasionally of an enormous size in the Mediterranean and Indian seas, its arms being at times nine fathoms in length, and so prodigious in their muscular power, that when lashed round a man, or even a Newfoundland dog, there is great difficulty in extricating themselves; and hence the Indians never venture out without hatchets in their boats, to cut off the animal's holders, should he attempt to fasten on them, and drag them under water.
*Frederick Martens. See Shaw, II. ii. 489.
But this subject would require a large volume, instead of occupying the close of a single lecture. Let us turn from the great to the diminutive. How confounding to the skill of man is the muscular arrangement of the insect class! Minute as is their form, there are innumerable tribes that unite in themselves all the powers of motion that characterise the whole of the other classes: and are able, as their own will directs, to walk, run, leap, swim, or fly, with as much facility as quadrupeds, birds, and fishes exercise these faculties separately. But such a combination of functions demands a more complicated combination of motive powers; and what it demands it receives. In the mere larve or caterpillar of a cossus, or insect approaching to the butterfly, Lyonet has detected not less than four thousand and sixty-one distinct muscles, which is about ten times the number that belong to the whole human body; and yet it is probable that these do not constitute any thing like the number that appertain to the same insect in its perfect state. The elater noctilucus, or phosphorescent springer, is a winged insect; but it has also a set of elastic muscles, which enable it, when laid on its back, to spring up nearly half a foot at a bound, in order to recover its position. This insect is also entitled to notice in consequence of its secreting a light, which is so much beyond that of our own glow-worm, that a person may see to read the smallest print by it at midnight. The cicada spumaria, or spumous grasshopper, is in like manner endowed with a double power of motion; and, when attempted to be caught, will either fly completely off, at its option, or bound away at the distance of two or three yards at every leap. This insect is
indigenous to our own country, and is one of those which in their larve and pupe states discharge, from the numerous pores about the tail, that frothy material upon plants which is commonly known by the name of cuckow-spit.
Crabs and spiders have a singular power, yet not muscular, of throwing off an entire limb whenever seized by it, in order to extricate themselves from confinement; and most of them throw off also, once a year, their skin or crustaceous covering, and The muscular elasticity of the
secrete a new one.
young spider gives it, moreover, a power, analogous in its use to that of wings; whence it is often seen, in the autumn, ascending to a considerable elevation, wafted about by the breeze, and filling the atmosphere with its fine threads. * The land-crab (cancer ruricola) inhabits the woods and mountains of a country; but its muscular structure enables it to travel once a year to the sea-coast to wash off its spawn in the waters. The spawn or eggs thus deposited sink into the sands at the bottom of the sea, and are soon hatched; after which millions of little crabs are seen quitting their native element for a new and untried one, and roving instinctively towards the woodlands.
The hinge of the common oyster is a single muscle; and it is no more than a single muscle in the chama gigas, or great clamp-fish, an animal of the oyster form, but the largest testaceous worm we are acquainted with. It has been taken in the
* In this case, the gossamer spider seems to have a power of shooting out webs, to which themselves being attached, the whole becomes buoyant in air. See White's Natural History of Selborne, Part II. letter 23. - ED.
Indian ocean of a weight not less than 532 pounds; the fish, or inhabitant, being large enough to furnish 120 men with a meal, and strong enough to lop off a hand with ease, and to cut asunder the cable of a large ship.
Nor is the muscular power allotted to the worm tribes less wonderful than that of insects, or its variety less striking and appropriate. The leech and other sucker-worms might be thought as well acquainted with the nature of a vacuum as Torricelli; and move from place to place by alternately converting the muscular disks of their head and tail into air-pumps.
The sucker of the cyclopterus, a genus of fishes denominated suckers from their wonderfully adhesive property, is perhaps the most powerful for the size of the fish, of any we are acquainted with; and is formed, at will, by merely uniting the peculiar muscles of its ventral fins into an oval concavity. In this state, if pulled by the tail, it will raise a pailful of water rather than resign its hold.
The teredo navalis, or ship-worm, is seldom six inches in length, but the muscles and armour with which its head is provided enables it to penetrate readily into the stoutest oak-planks of a vessel, committing dreadful havoc among her timbers, and chiefly producing the necessity for her being copperbottomed. This animal is a native of India; it is gregarious, and always commences its attack in innumerable multitudes; every worm, in labouring, confining itself to its own cell, which is divided from that of the next by a partition not thicker than a piece of writing-paper. The seaman, as he beholds. the ruin before him, vents his spleen against the