In 'Religious Ceremonies,' p. 309, we are told that the Pope celebrates Mass in Lent, Advent, and all eves on which fasting is required, in a purple robe.
Other shellfish produce purple dyes; amongst them Aplysla hybrida, and I have dyed a piece of linen with the beautiful purple liquid which it emits, but it faded quickly.
Dr. Darwin mentions a large Aplysia which is common at the Cape de Verd Islands, five inches long, and of a dirty yellowish colour, veined with purple, and when disturbed, it emits a very fine purplish-red fluid, which stains the water for a space of a foot round.
The Dolabella Rumphi is stated by Mr. Nicholas Pike to yield a deep lilac liquid, and from one specimen which he found on Barkly Island, off the Island of Mauritius, he procured nearly half an ounce of the viscous liquid, which retained its colour even when dry.†
Lima squamosa secretes a liquid of a blood-red colour.‡ It is found at Mahon, Minorca.
Scalaria communis yields a purple liquor destructible by acids, and Planorbis corneus, a purplish fluid, but it cannot be made of any use, though Lister tried several experiments with the vain hope of being able to fix it. and Purpura lapillus is said by M. Cailliaud to be used for food in the spring (after the fish have spawned) by some of the inhabitants of St. Michel-Chef-Chef, in the department of the Loire Inférieure. In March, 1868, I saw Purpura lapillus sold at Hastings ready boiled for eating at 1d per pint; but the name given to them, was not one to encourage a trial, viz., Man-suckers; though I was assured they were very good, and tasted like periwinkles. The Spanish names for it are Minchas, and Corn de fel.
In Spain, Murex trunculus is eaten, and is called, Corns, Corn blanc, Caracoles, Cornias, Bois, and Bucios;
* Plutarch, Alex., c. 36, as quoted in 'Phoenicia,' by John Ken. rirk, M.A.
† 'Subtropical Rambles,' by Nicholas Tike, p. 277. ‡ 'Journal de Conchyliologie,' 1867; vol. xv. p. 265.
The Almond Whelk, or Red Whelk, as it is sometimes called - Fusus antiquus - is eaten in Liverpool, and great quantities are taken on the Cheshire coast. In Dublin the fishermen use them principally for bait for the larger kind of fish, such as cod and ling, and only occasionally eat them, boiled or pickled. The beautiful large white variety is dredged off the Irish coast. My largest specimen from Dublin measures six and a half inches in length, and three and a half inches in breadth, and Dr. Jeffreys saw the shells used as lamps in the Shetland Isles by the northern fishermen. They are suspended from a nail in the wall or ceiling of the hut, by means of a piece of string, which is fastened round the shell in a triangular form. The inside is filled with fish-oil, and a wick of cotton or tow is put into the canal at the extremity of the mouth.* The Chinese use a large shell, a species of Fusus, for their fog-horns.
In 'Antiquitates Culinariae,' it is said that at the enthronization feast of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1504, 8000 whelks were supplied at five shillings a thousand, and they were served up as an accompaniment to sturgeon; and amongst the dishes forming part of the second course, we read of Sturgeon in foyle with welkes.
* 'British Couchology,' vol. i., Introduction, p. lxviii.
In heraldry we find whelks used, and the arms of Sir John Shelley, of Maresfield, in Sussex, are sable, a fess engrailed between three whelk-shells or. The Shelleys of Lincolnshire bear, argent a chevron gules, between three whelks sable;* and the crest of the Venables, of Cheshire, is a wyvern gules, issuing from a whelk-shell argent; and many other examples might be given.†
A buccinum, or whelk, with a figure rising out of it, or rather looking out of it, is sculptured on the font in St. Clement's Church, Sandwich.
It is said that the eider-duck when it has not more than one or two eggs in its nest, places a shell, Buccinum glaciate, beside them. The usual number of eggs is from five to six. Western Norway Island, off the coast of Western Spitzbergen, is a well-known place where the eider-duck breeds in great numbers.‡
Cleanse them well, boil them till they can easily be taken from the shell, and then fry them with plenty of fat or butter, till they are brown.