Cornhill Magazine,  4 (1861), 537–50.

A Week's Imprisonment in Sark

[David T Ansted]


Essay, Travelogue


Progress, Technology, Steamships, Oceanography, Natural History, Naturalists, Nomenclature, Wonder, Zoology, Collecting, Physical Geography, Geology, Environmentalism, Physiognomy

    Gives an account of a trip to 'a spot within the British islands in which the rising generation of Englishmen' can learn 'by experience what it is to exist for a time without telegraphs, railroads, and steamboats', and still witness the kind of 'prejudices that would have laughed to scorn, half a century ago, any one who would be rash enough to assert that ships could be conveyed across the sea by machinery, regardless of wind and weather' (537). Also narrates a visit to the Gouliot Caves, 'celebrated in the annals of natural history, and remarkable beyond all others of those oceanic recesses which Neptune has reserved to himself, and has lined with his choicest treasures of animal and vegetable life' (541). These 'temples of Marine Zoology' contain in abundance 'the soft animals with hard names on which the lips of beauty now love to linger' (542). However, the caves are visited every year by 'pilgrimages of eager naturalists armed with knives and possessed of every kind of pot and pan to carry away the objects of their worship' (541). Indeed, the current 'mania of collecting' is such that many of the marine animals in the caves are simply 'cut away and shipped off to England as fast as they can be procured' (542–43). In addition, suggests that many 'pot-holes' and 'curious natural shafts' might be 'visited with advantage at various times of tide by the geologist as well as the artist' (547), and comments on the 'peculiar physiognomy' of the 'small population, always intermarrying' which inhabits the island (550).

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