Because chalk is the snail's best food, and the food is the source of the lime of which it forms its shell. Lime is not, however, necessary to be eaten for the perfect formation of the operculum, (or lid of the shell) as is remarked in the Zoological Journal by Mr. Bell; many snails in his possession having formed that part, though during the whole summer they had no access to any preparation of lime.
most in their colours ? Because they are most exposed to the operation of light; while those shells, which, within the bodies of their snails are always white, as are also those which live in holes whence they never issue. Another striking proof of the blanching effect of darkness is furnished by some bivalve shells, as scallops, permanently affixed by their lower valve, which is constantly white, while the upper one may possibly be variegated with bright colours.
Because they were eaten as great delicacies among epicures. For this purpose, they were kept in sties, and fattened with bran and sodden wine ; and on this generous fare they grew occasionally to such a size, that, according to Varro, the shell would hold full ten quarts! The younger Pliny's supper of three snails, two eggs, a barley cake, a lettuce, sweet wine, and snow, was therefore no very spare meal.
Snails are still eaten in great numbers on the continent of Europe, particularly in Lent. In Switzerland they are fed in many thousands together in gardens ; in Italy they are much liked ; in Paris they are sold in the market; and, in Vienna, they are charged at an inn the same as a plate of veal or beef, or a dish of frogs at a French restaurateur*. The Greeks are also great eaters of land-snails, but they have not the art of fattening them. The usual mode of preparing them for the table is either boiling, frying them in butter, or stuffing them with force-meat.
Because of their being recommended for consumptive complaints by the physicians of that day; indeed, snail-water is still to be found in the pharmacopoeia of the last century.
Snails were introduced as above by Charles Howard, one of the earls of Arundel, who brought them from Italy for the cure of his countess. Sir Kenelm Digby likewise patronized the remedy. Elias Ashmole says, the earl scattered them on the hills about Dorking, in Surrey, and between Albury and Horsley, near Guild* There is in Brussels a market for frogs, which are brought alive in pails and cans, and prepared for dressing on the spot. The hind limbs, which are the only parts used, are cut from the body with scissors, by the women who bring the animals for sale.
ford. We have noticed, in our Promenade round Dorking, their being on Box Hill, where to this day large snails abound. They were also introduced a few years since into a curious garden in Scotland, where they did not prosper.
Because of the nourishment afforded to the sheep by feeding on snails. Thus, the sweetest mutton is reckoned to be that of the smallest sheep, where the sands are scarcely covered with very short grass. " From these sands come forth snails of the turbinated or spiral kind, which spread themselves over the plains early in the morning, and whilst they are in quest of their own food among the dews, yield a most fattening nourishment to the sheep." - Borlase's Hist. Cornwall.
Because they are substituted for their summer food, which winter may have destroyed. They break the shells of the snails, by reiterated strokes against some stone; and it is not uncommon to find a great quantity of fragments of shells together, as if brought to one particular stone for this very purpose.