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air, incapable as these substances seem to be, at first sight, of affording any thing like solid nutriment. Leeches and tadpoles present us with familiar proofs of the former assertion, and there are various kinds of fishes that may be added to the catalogue. Rondelet kept a silver fish in pure water alone for three years; and at the end of that period it had grown as large as the glass globe that contained it. Several species of the carp kind, and especially the gold-fish, have a similar power; and even the pike, the most gluttonous, perhaps, of the whole class, will both live and thrive upon water alone in a marble bason.
The bee, and various other insects, derive their nutriment from the nectar and effluvium of flowers. So also does the trochilus genus, or humming-bird, which many regard as the connecting link between the two classes; buzzing like the bee itself with a joyous hum around the blossom on which it lights; and in one of its species, t. minimus, not exceeding it in size, and only weighing from 20 to 45 grains. Air alone appears sufficient for the support of animals of other kinds. Snails and chameleons have been known repeatedly to live upon nothing else for years. Garman asserts that it is a sufficient food for spiders; and that though they will devour other food, as fishes will that may be maintained alone on water, they do not stand in need of any other. Latreille confirms this assertion to a considerable extent, by informing us that he stuck a spider to a piece of cork, and precluded it from communication with any thing else for four successive months, at
* Encyclop. Brit. art. Physiol. p. 679.
the end of which time it appeared to be as lively as ever. * And Mr. Baker tells us, in the Philosophical Transactions, that he had a beetle that lived in a glass confinement for three years without food, and then fled away by accident.
The larves of ants, as well as of several other insects of prey, are not only supported by air, but actually increase in bulk, and undergo their metamorphoses without any other nourishment. It is probable, also, that air is at times the only food of the scolopendra phosphorea, or luminous centipede, which has been seen illuminating the atmosphere, and sometimes falling into a ship, a thousand miles from land.
Amphibious animals have a peculiar tenacity to life under every circumstance of privation; and not only frogs, and toads, but tortoises, lizards, and serpents, are well known to have existed for months, and even years, without other food than water-in some instances, without other food than air.
Mr. Bruce kept two cerastes, or horned snakes, in a glass jar for two years, without giving them any thing. He did not observe that they slept in the winter season; and they cast their skins, as usual, on the last day of April. †
Lizards, and especially the newt species, have been found embedded in a chalk-rock, apparently dead and fossilized, but have reassumed living action on exposure to the atmosphere. On their detection in this state the mouth is usually closed with a glutinous substance, and closed so tenaciously, that * Monthly Rev. App. lv. 494.
+ Voyages, Appendix, p. 296. 8vo. edit.
they often die of suffocation in the very effort to extricate themselves from this material. *
In respect to toads the same fact has been ascertained, for nearly two years, by way of experiment†; and has been verified, by accident, for a much longer term of time. The late Edward Walker, Esq. of Guestingthorpe, Essex, informed me not long since, that he had found a toad perfectly alive in the midst of a full grown elm, after it was cut down by his order, exactly occupying the cavity which it appeared gradually to have scooped out as it grew in size, and which had not the smallest external communication by any aperture that could be traced. And very explicit, and apparently very cautious, accounts have been repeatedly published in different journals, of their having been found alive, embedded in the very middle of trunks of trees and blocks of marble, so large and massy, that, if the accounts be true, they must have been in such situations for at least a century. There is a very particular case of this kind given by M. Seigue, in the Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Paris.§
* Journ. of Science, No. XII. p. 375.
+ See Dalyell's Introd. to his Translation of Spallanzani's Tracts, p. xliii. 1803.
See various instances, Encycl. Brit. art. Physiol. p. 681. § Mem. 1731. H. 24. Dr. Edwards, of Paris, has sufficiently ascertained of late, that blocks of mortar, and heaps of sand, are porous enough to admit so much air as is requisite to support the life of lizards, toads, and other amphibials of the batrachian family: but that they all perish if surrounded by mercury, or even water, so as to intercept the air by their being encompassed by an exhausted receiver. In boxes of mortar or sand, however, they live much longer than in boxes plunged under water. The probable cause is, that the air of the atmo
These observations lead us to another anomaly of a more extraordinary nature still; and that is, the power which man himself possesses of existing without food, under certain circumstances, for a very long period of time. This is often found to take place in cases of madness, especially that of the melancholy kind, in which the patient resolutely refuses either to eat or drink for many weeks together, with little apparent loss either of bulk or strength.
There is a singular history of Cicely de Ridgeway, preserved among the records in the tower of London, which states, that in the reign of Edward III., having been condemned for the murder of her husband, she remained for forty days without either food or drink. This was ascribed to a miracle, and the king condescended in consequence to grant a pardon.
The Cambridgeshire farmer's wife, who, about
sphere pervades the pores of the sand or margin pretty freely; but that it is not extricated from the circumfluent water so as to pervade the pores of the box buried in it. This, however, is not the explanation offered by Dr. Edwards. He found also that frogs will live a longer or shorter period of time under water, according to the temperature of the water, and the previous temperature of the surrounding atmosphere. They die speedily if the water be lower than 32° Fahr. or higher than 108°: that the longest duration of life is at 32o, at which point life will continue for several hours; that its duration diminishes with the elevation of the scale above this point, and that it is extinguished in a few minutes at 108°.
The most favourable point in the temperature of the atinosphere is also 32°. If the season have maintained this point for some days antecedently to the frog's being plunged under water, itself of 32°, the animal will live from 24 to 60 hours. De l'Influence des Agens Physiques sur la Vie; also, Mémoires sur l'Asphyxie, &c. 1817. Paris, 8vo. 1824.
thirty years ago, was buried under a snow storm, continued eight days without tasting any thing but a little of the snow which coveréd her. But in various other cases we have proofs of abstinence from food having been carried much farther, and without serious evil. In the Edinburgh Medical Essays for 1720, Dr. Eccles makes mention of a beautiful young lady, "about sixteen years of age," who, in consequence of the sudden death of an indulgent father, was thrown into a state of tetanus, or rigidity of all the muscles of the body, and especially those of deglutition, so violent as to render her incapable of swallowing for two long and distinct periods of time; in the first instance for thirty-four, and in the second, which occurred shortly afterwards, for fifty-four, days; during " all which time, her first and second fastings, she declared," says Dr. Eccles, "she had no sense of hunger or thirst: and when they were over, she had not lost much of her flesh."
Not long ago we have had nearly as striking an instance of this extraordinary fact, in the case of Anne Moore, of Tutbury in Staffordshire, who, in consequence of a great and increasing difficulty in swallowing, at first limited herself to a very small daily portion of bread alone, and on March 17. 1807, relinquished even this, allowing herself only occasionally a little tea or water, and in the ensuing September pretended to abstain altogether from liquids as well as solids. From the account of Mr. Granger*, a medical practitioner of reputation, who saw her about two years afterwards, she appears to
* Edinburgh Med. and Surg. Journal, No. xix. July 1809, p. 319.