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“Earth-worms do mollifie, conglutinate, appease pain, and by their terrestrial, and withall, waterish humidity, they do contemper any affected part, orderly and measurably moderating any excesse whatsoever. The powder of worms is thus prepared : They use to take the greatest earth-worm that can be found, and to wrap them in mosse, suffering them to remain for a certain time, thereby the better to purge and cleanse them from that clammy and filthy slimynesse, which outwardly cleaveth to their bodies. When all this is done, they presse hard the hinder part of their bodies neer to the tail, squeesing out thereby their excrements, that no impurity, so neer as is possible, may be retained in them.
Thirdly, they use to put them into a pot, or some fit vessel, with some white Wine, and a little salt, and straining them gently between the fingers, they first of all cast away that Wine, and then do they pour more Wine to them, and after the washing of the worms, they must also take away some of the Wine, for it must not all be poured away (as some would have it), and this must so often be done and renewed until the Wine be passing clear, without any filth or drossinesse, for by this way their slimy jelly, and glutinous evil quality is clear lost and spent. Being thus prepared, they are to be dryed by little and little in an Oven, so long till they may be brought to powder, which being beaten and searsed, it is to be kept in a glasse vessel far from the fire, by itself. A dram of this powder being commixed with the juyce of Marigolds, cureth the Epilepsie ; with some sweet Wine, as Muscadel, Bastard, or the Metheglin of the Welchmen, it helpeth the Dropsie. With white Wine and Myrrhe, the Jaundice; with new Wine or Hydromel, the Stone; ulcers of the Reins and Bladder: it stayeth also the loosenesse of the belly, helpeth barrennesse, and expelleth the secondine, it asswageth the pain of the hanch or hip; by some the Sciatica ; it openeth obstructions of the Liver, driveth away Tertian Agues, and expelleth all Worms that are bred in the Guts, being given and taken with the decoction or distilled Water of Germander, Wormwood, Southern-wood, Garlick, Scorum, Centory, and such like.
“The decoction of Worms made with the juyce of Knot-grasse, or Comfery, Salomon's Seal, or Sarasius compound, cureth the disease tearmed by physitians, Diabetes, where one cannot hold his water, but that it runneth from him without stay, or as fast as he drinketh. A glyster, likewise, made of the decoction of earthworms, and also taken accordingly, doth marvellously assuage and appease the pain of the hemorrhoids. There be some that give the decoction of earth-worms to those persons that have any congealed
or clotted bood in their bodies, and that with happy successe. The virtue of earth-worms is exceedingly set forth, both by the Grecians and Arabians, to encrease milk in women's breasts.” There is scarcely an ill “that flesh is heir to,” but may be cured by the powder of the common earth-worm, if we may believe the same learned Edward Topsell. Tooth-ache is cured by pouring a few drops of a decoction of worms in oil, into the ear. Applied outwardly, wounds are closed up, ulcers are cleansed, and darts or arrows shot into the body" are drawn out. Chilblains and “ kibes in the heels, sinews that have been cut or punctured, and broken bones, may all be healed by the external use of this wonderful powder. Pain is soothed, erysipelas cured, and scalds or burns are healed by a plaster made of earth-worms."
Fables such as these were believed in ; but a more remarkable fact, that many authors of celebrity have recorded from their own experience, is still by many at the present day disbelieved. This is the wonderful ease and rapidity with which lost parts are restored. We have frequently mentioned, in the course of these papers, the power which many Annelides possess, of reproducing lost or mutilated portions of their body. It was in the case of some animals of this Order, however, that this faculty was first experimentally ascertained. M. Bonnet, of Geneva, struck with the curious history of the fresh-water polype, Hydra, as communicated to him by Trembley, commenced a series of experiments of a similar nature, upon some small worms living in the fresh waters of his neighbourhood. “He cut some worms into halves, into three, four, and ultimately, into as many as fourteen pieces. The halves he found became whole worms; the thirds and quarters also; and the morsels grew to be complete individuals, not to be distinguished from the common stock.”
Experiments were also tried upon the more terrestrial species of Lumbricidæ, though not with the same uniform success. Reaumur next commenced a series of experiments upon species of earth worms, the terrestrial species of the Lumbricidæ. He cut individuals into unequal halves, the anterior being made considerably shorter than the posterior, and he found that in less than two days the anterior portion became a perfect animal. The posterior portion was equally successfully developed, though more slowly, two or three months being required to reproduce the anterior from the posterior portion. Spallanzani then followed up these experiments by fresh ones, and the subject has lately been still further investigated by a careful series of experiments carried on by my late
friend, Mr. Newport. I remember well his exhibiting a variety of specimens at the Linnæan Society, establishing the fact by showing the parts reproduced. These portions were generally smaller than they were before amputation, but still they were completely restored. Mr. Williams denies this, but negative assertions can never do away with facts clearly established and faithfully set forth before the learned world.
Worms form a favourite bait for anglers, though various species are preferred by various fishes. The common earth-worm, for instance, is not a great favourite with trout, though it is much used for entrapping eels and some other kinds of fish. The greatest favourite with anglers for catching trout is the brambling, or Lumbricus foetidus. This is a remarkably pretty species of earthworm, of a reddish-brown colour, with alternate yellow and brown segments. It is generally much smaller than the common earthworm, being seldom more than from two to three inches in length. The clitellus is composed of six rings, and there are twenty-six between the head and clitellus. The posterior portion or tail is slightly tapered, not spatulate as is the case in L. terrestris, and the yellow bands are wost conspicuous on this part of the body. Hence a common name in some parts of the country, the yellow tail.” “When fresh,” these bramblings “exude, if touched, a yellow pungent fuid of a very disagreeable and peculiar odour, which stains the fingers, and leaves a smell which cannot easily be got rid of for many hours.” When immersed in spirits, the worm discharges a clouded fluid, mixed with sulphur-yellow colour, and loses some of its markings. The brambling is chiefly found in old dungheaps. A very large species of worm, belonging to the terrestrial
group of this order of Annelides, occurs in the island of Ceylon. It was named Megascolex, the “great earth-worm,” by Mr. Templeton, who first discovered and described it. The rings of the body, instead of having a few series of bristles or spinets on them, as in Lumbricus, etc., are surrounded with a complete circle of these setæ. The species described by Mr. Templeton, Megascolex coeruleus, is about from twenty to forty inches in length, and as thick as a man's little finger. These worms are chiefly found after heavy rains. Last November (1868), my attention was called to a curious species of earth-worm, which had been exhibited to the Tyne-side Natu. ralists' Club by Mr. Draper, of Seaham Hall. They had been sent to him by Mr. Johnston, gardener at Plas Machynllyth, in North Wales. Upon a close examination of several live specimens sent to
me by Mr. Dinning, secretary of the club, for identification, I found that each segment had the circular row of bristles, and that therefore it must belong to the same genus as the “great earth-worm” found by Templeton in Ceylon. No species of this genus had ever previously been found in Europe, and it was therefore extremely interesting to find one of a group, up to this time considered peculiar to India, occurring in our island. This worm I described some time ago at a meeting of the Zoological Society, and named it Megascolex diffringens. It was found by Mr. Johnstone in an old hot-bed for stove plants in the garden at Plas Machynllyth, and may possibly have been introduced to this country along with some plants from India. The worm is an extremely lively animal, twists itself like an eеl in all directions, and possesses the faculty of breaking its body up into several pieces. Though small when compared with its ally from Ceylon, it reaches a length of four or five inches, with a circumference of three lines, and forms a very interesting addition to our fauna.
The second family of this Order is that of the NAIDES. The worms belonging to this family differ from the Lumbricidæ in having a head distinct from the body, and the first three or four segments of the body being destitute of bristles. The mouth is exactly terminal, and they do not possess, as the earth-worms do, a terminal lip. They are small, pellucid, vivacious worms, all truly lacustrine, either free and living amongst sub-aquatic plants, or partially parasitical and subsisting within the shells of fluviatile mollusca. They differ from the earth-worms by having a more completely flattened body, and by the body being furnished with comparatively long setaceous bristles. The segments of which the body is composed are not so distinct as those of the earth-worms, and each is armed with two different kinds of bristles. The superior bristles are setaceous, and always collected in small fascicles; the inferior are in the form of spinets, forked at the apex. With these the Naides creep about actively, and are even able to swim. The species are zoophagous, living on small animals; and though in all probability oviparous, they are remarkable for their facility of multiplying by spontaneous division.
“This fact has been particularly noticed by British naturalists, in the case of Nais (Stylaria) lacustris, or proboscidea, a small linear or round worm, about half an inch long, that is common about the roots of aquatic plants in our ponds and ditches. When this process commences, says Mr. Lewis, who has watched the operation, the little worm begins to form a second head near the
extremity of its body. After this head, other segments are in turn developed, the tail or final segment being the identical tail of the mother, but pushed forward by the young segments, and now belonging to the child, and only vicariously to the mother. In this state, he adds, we have two worms and one tail.”
The British species of the Naides are few in number, and have had very little attention paid to them. .
(To be continued.)
ASTRONOMICAL NOTES FOR JULY.
BY W. T. LYNN, B.A., F.R.A.S.
Of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
The present month is not one that affords much scope for profitable telescopic scrutiny of the orbs of heaven, particularly of the more distant stellar ones, beyond our own system. At no time in the month does it become dark before nine o'clock in the evening, and the lingering twilight interferes with the visibility of the fainter celestial objects through nearly, if not quite, the whole of the night. The positions of the large planets will be as follows :
Mercury arrives at his greatest western elongation on the 17th, and is therefore visible only in the morning.
Venus continues visible for a short time only after sunset, setting at the beginning of the month about a quarter past nine ; afterwards earlier, on account of her rapid motion in declination towards the south, so that at the end of the month, she will set at a quarter before nine. She is returning from superior conjunction, having been in that position in May, so that she is gibbous in appearance, and her distance from us great, but diminishing in the course of the month from 153 to 142 millions of miles.
MARS sets at the commencement of the month a little after eleven o'clock, and at the end of it by a quarter before ten. His distance from us is increasing, and as he is passing to the south of the equinoctial, he will not be well observable in this part of the world after the present month. In the first week, he passes from the constellation Leo into Virgo, and will be very near the third magnitude star, B Virginis, on the evening of the 10th.
JUPITER now becomes observable towards midnight in the constellation Aries ; rising, at the end of the month, about eleven c'clock.
Saturn is visible during the whole of the first half of the night,