« ForrigeFortsæt »
self, yet loud enough to be heard by his officers. "That baro-straight for the captain's cabin, where the first object that attracted meter never yet deceived me; it is one of Troughton's best, and although the aspect of the weather is so favourable, the quicksilver continues to fall, and has already fallen considerably below 'Stormy.' I don't know what to make of it."
Logship did not reply, for his reliance on the barometer almost equalled that of the captain, and he dreaded to offer a dissenting opinion, lest the instrument might be correct; and he would then lose the character he had long sustained of being the best living mercury in the ship for measuring the changes in the weather. Williamson, the captain, was not the man to waver upon a case of emergency; on the contrary, he was remarkable for the quickness as well as the accuracy of his decision; but upon this occasion he was at fault. In a tropical clime he would have understood it.
He descended once more to his cabin, but as quickly reappeared, and glancing his sharp eye around him, exclaimed, "The glass is still falling! Mr. Fearnought, turn the hands up-up
Logship now quietly slipped down to take a peep at the barometer, for, as the weather had so settled an appearance, he, as well as the first lieutenant, and of course the idlers, began to question the sanity of their commander. The doctor was commencing what he intended should be a rather learned disquisition on the disorders of the mind, and the variety of cases which had fallen under his notice, when the little master returned from the cabin, with as much astonishment and anxiety depicted in his weather-beaten countenance as the captain's exhibited. "It's below Very Stormy,' sir," shouted Logship, " and the sooner we get the ship out of this rascally roadstead the better for all hands."
At this moment, a wild-looking subject of his Majesty came paddling up to the side of the frigate, in a wretched-looking cockle-shell of a canoe, which the natives dignified by the title of a boat. A greasy-looking letter was handed up the gangway, addressed to the "captain or commanding officer of any of his Majesty's cruisers on the coast;" and after passing through the different gradations prescribed by the etiquette of a man-of-war, it was delivered to the captain, who, thinking only of his barometer, and the importance of getting the ship under weigh, cheered the men at the capstan, and thrust the letter into his pocket, without looking at the superscription or breaking the seal.
Captain Williamson, of his Majesty's ship Palmyra, was not what the ladies would have called a pretty fellow, for he had nothing effeminate in either his person or manner. He was a fine dashing-looking sailor, not more than thirty years of age, with the exterior of a gentleman, and the bearing of a man accustomed to command, yet free from the slightest particle of hauteur. His projecting forehead overhung a pair of sharp grey eyes, which twinkled restlessly beneath long shaggy eyebrows; his aquiline nose was so pliant, that it almost bent with every movement of his features, and when he smiled it was curved like the beak of an eagle. It has already been observed that nature had, strangely enough, placed upon the very tip of this proboscis a little clump of long black hair, which, sensible of the slightest passion of his mind, projected like the quills of the fretful porcupine; and at such moments it was deemed advisable by those who knew him well to give him a clear berth. His mouth was well formed, though rather small; and a professed advertising dentist would have placed some value on the head of the noble captain for the sake of his teeth. He was tall, and, unlike sailors in general, he did not stoop; on the contrary, he held his head as erect as a lifeguardsman. His bronzed complexion denoted the ever-varying climes to which he had been exposed; and, like most people who have good teeth, he contracted a habit of laughing, which threw into his features a kind of continual smile, as if the mind within was all sunshine.
"At length the anchor was hove a short stay peak; the topsails were sheeted home, and the yards were braced contrariwise to swing the ship. The capstan was again manned, and the commander descended once more to look at the weather-glass. The quicksilver had fallen to a startling degree. Even Torricelli, the inventor of barometers, might have been himself puzzled on the
At length the frigate was under weigh, and stretched out to sea under a light breeze, and with all sail set. Williamson and the master looked at each other, and then at the sky, which was now beautifully bright, and then at the horizon, which was clear and serene; and the distrust in their features was manifest and amusing. As soon, however, as Fearnought could absent himself from the quarter-deck, he descended the companion-ladder, and made
his notice was a very small bright speck on the side of the deck, which upon further examination was discovered to be quicksilver; and underneath the ball of the barometer he perceived a small hole, through which the mineral fluid had gradually and imperceptibly oozed. Fearnought returned to the quarter-deck with a broad grin, which startled the commander almost as much as the barometer had done, until the cause was explained; and never was any man more delighted at a fracture, which at any other time, and under any other circumstances, would have very much annoyed the gallant captain.
It is a common saying-and, generally speaking, a true onethat sailors can turn their hands to anything; and there is one peculiar feature in their professional career, which, if accurately noted, will in no small degree account for the ingenuity thus observable in their character. On shore we have either an instructor at our elbow, or a means of arriving at a solution of our difficulties; but on board ship we are cut off from any such aid, and when left to ourselves, we naturally turn inwardly, as it were, to our own resources, and thus acquire by degrees a habit of contrivance, by which we eventually learn to surmount any little difficulty that may impede our progress. From this habit we also derive self-confidence,-I do not mean self-conceit,-which enables us to face difficulty, instead of shrinking from it. Mental energies are often called forth, which might have otherwise lain dormant; and although the events that led to their development might be trivial, the mind was prepared in a measure to contend with more important casualties hereafter. I once knew a young midshipman, who upon one occasion, by his persevering ingenuity, eventually overcame an obstacle which at one time threatened to conquer him; and this single instance so delighted his commander as to produce a feeling which had a considerable influence on the future destiny of the young aspirant.
Williamson descended to his cabin, and found the quicksilver rolling along the deck in a thousand particles, as the ship careened to the wind. His little middies soon gathered it together, and as Williamson was a mechanic in his way--for he could take a watch to pieces, and put it together again, build a ship upon a scale of an inch to a foot, mend a lock as well as the armourer, hoop a cask as well as the cooper, or apply a tourniquet or open a vein as well as the doctor-of course he could mend his own barometer; and so he did.
At a little before dusk that afternoon, Williamson, in drawing his handkerchief from his pocket, drew along with it the greasy letter to which we have elsewhere alluded, and it was nearly blown overboard. The midshipman on watch picked it up, and handed it to him. Williamson smiled at his own forgetfulness, but looked very grave when he read the letter: it ran thus
"A noted smuggler, schooner-rigged, with a tanned topsail, will leave Flushing on or about the 25th instant, with a cargo of spirits and tobacco, and may be expected on the western coast of Ireland to-morrow night. She is painted black, with a patch of brown canvas in her mainsail. She may be turned into a sloop or a lugger, and is provided with a narrow strip of painted canvas to represent port-holes. She has fifteen hundred bales of tobacco on board, and her ground tier consists of hollands and brandy. It is expected that she will attempt a landing in the Mal bay, near Mutton Island."
Williamson read the letter to his first lieutenant and to the officer of the watch, and the latter hailed the man at the mast-head to keep a sharp look-out; whilst the signal midshipman was sent aloft with a telescope, to sweep the horizon before night came on. The frigate then stood in for the land, and, when within a safe distance from it, she was hove-to under easy sail, with her head off shore.
Towards midnight the breeze gradually freshened, and if the smiling aspect of the weather on the one hand, and the sinking barometer on the other, had puzzled Williamson that morning, there could be little doubt on the subject now; for the wind had that hollow mournful sound, as it rattled through the blocks and cordage, which only the accustomed ear of a sailor could truly identify as a certain harbinger of bad weather. The small drizzling rain that fell served rather to feed the wind, and the squalls which rushed suddenly down the mountain valleys kept the anxious eye of the officer of the watch on his weather-beam.
At daybreak the breeze became more steady, and Williamson, in his short round Flushing jacket, with a gold loop upon each shoulder to denote his rank, went up to the masthead, to reconnoitre with his spyglass the creeks and bays which indented that dangerous part of the coast; but there was not a vestige of a vessel
of any kind to be seen; and having shared alternately with the little master the look-out duty during the night, he ordered a sharp eye to be kept all round, and descending to his cabin, threw himself on his cot, and slept soundly for a couple of hours.
At eight o'clock, the look-out man at the foretop-gallant masthead reported "a strange sail on the weather-bow." The captain started from his couch, for the welcome sound had reached his quick ear; and in an instant every one was in motion. It was known throughout the ship that the letter which the skipper received conveyed information from the agent at Flushing, that a smuggler would attempt to land upon that part of the coast. The crew, therefore, who were at breakfast, flew up the hatchways; the captains of the tops were already half-way up the rigging; and even the portly doctor and the marine officers left their hot rolls to join in the excitement of the scene.
Amongst the most nimble of those who ran up the ratlines of the rigging on that occasion was Williamson himself, who was soon perched on the topmast-crosstrees, balancing himself, as the ship heeled over, with one hand for the king and the other for himself. Williamson went aloft, not that he mistrusted any of his officers, but because he was anxious to judge, from a single glance of his own keen eye, what the stranger looked like, how she was standing, and what should be done; but scarcely had he got his telescope to bear upon her, when a sudden squall obscured her from his view.
Prompt in his decision, Williamson descended from the masthead, and calculating that the stranger could have hardly made the Palmyra out before the squall came on, he ordered her to be put on the other tack, and then proceeded to disguise her in the following manner :-the fore and mizen top-gallant masts were sent on deck, while the maintop-gallant yard was left across; the sail loosed, and sheeted home in a slovenly manner. courses were reefed to make them look shallow; the quarter boats lowered to a level with the gunwale; and the maindeck guns were run in and housed: a long strip of canvas, painted a light brown, and varnished, was then carefully spread over the portholes; a few trusses of hay were placed in the main-chains; and the wheels of a carriage, which Williamson kept always ready, were lashed in the fore-chains. After all this was done, the practised eye of even a close observer might have taken his Majesty's ship Palmyra for a homeward-bound West Indiaman or a clumsy transport.
As soon as the squall passed to leeward, the stranger was again seen on the weather quarter, and the signal midshipman reported her to be a schooner, with only her fore and aft sails set, standing in for Mutton Island, which, with its single small tower, the ruin of a religious temple, lay about nine miles ahead of her. "I think we shall do that fellow, if he don't make us out before we can get him well on our weather quarter," observed the captain to little Logship.
"I don't know, sir," replied the master; "I don't much like the look of the weather. Last night's moon looked for all the world like a lump of butter in a bowl of burgou. We shan't want for wind when the flood makes-"
"So much the better," sharply answered Williamson, who, sanguine in all things, was now impatient with Logship, who had the name of being a croaker in the ship; "the devil's in the dice if the Palmyra can't outcarry that little cockle-shell yonder, let us but once get in between him and the land. You know of old what our frigate can do, especially when she gets a foot or two of the main-sheet."
Logship was muttering something in reply, but in so subdued a tone that only detached words could be caught, such as allowing that-blows hard-soon dark-if we could-," laying a strong emphasis on the hypothetical particle; when the little man was startled by the sharp tone in which the captain abruptly inquired, "How is the moon, Mr. Logship?"
"Full moon to-night, sir, at ten o'clock."
Logship," said the captain, turning round, and looking him steadfastly in the face, "will you for once in your life look at the bright side of things; or if you will not, pray do me the favour to allow the moon to do so."
Logship was silent.
Little Logship was exactly four feet eight inches tall, and his extreme breadth measured at least two-thirds of his height; he had a very large head, with very small inquisitive eyes, and his cheeks were round and plump, and very rubicund; but whether the last was caused by the bracing sea-air, or the stiff nor'westers he too
frequently indulged in, is scarcely a matter worth speculating on Although he entered his Majesty's service from a Sunderland collier, he always wore blue cloth pantaloons and Hessian boots with large tassels; he considered them the distinguishing mark of a gentleman. He was also particular in wearing gloves, although his little horny hands had been in former days better acquainted with the tar-bucket than the sextant. Logship was nevertheless a thorough-bred seaman, a good plain navigator, as far as plane or Mercator sailing went. He could distinguish the Ursa Major from the Ursa Minor; and he could steer the Palmyra, when scudding in the heaviest gale of wind, within a point of the compass.
The little master's peculiarities often amused his captain; they had sailed together for many years, and although the skipper knew that there were times when it would have puzzled Logship, even in his Hessian boots, to walk a plank without diverging to his right or left, still he also knew that it was only when the frigate was safely moored in a land-locked harbour that he ever indulged beyond the king's allowance.
The signal midshipman, who was stationed aloft to keep his eye on the schooner, now reported that she was shaking a reef out of her mainsail, and setting her gaff-topsail. "What colour do you make her gaff-topsail?" inquired the captain. "It's a tanned sail, sir,' was the reply. "How is she painted?"
Black, sir," answered the midshipman; "and she has a patch brown canvas in her mainsail."
Very well," replied the captain. "Now then, Mr. Fearnought, 'bout ship; up top-gallant masts; shake a reef out; make all the sail the ship will bear. That fellow has made us out, and we shall have enough to do to get within shot of him before dark. Pipe the hammocks down, and let the chests and shot-racks be triced up underneath them; give the ship all the elasticity you can."
"Well, Logship," asked the captain, "what do you think of her now ?-shall we have her or not?''
"Don't know," answered the master; "those black little devils that lie so low on the water have slippery heels, and when they get into smooth water and a steady breeze, 'twould puzzle a remora to get hold of them."
"A what?" asked Williamson.
"A remora, sir," replied Logship, chuckling at the ignorance of the skipper.
"What sort of animal may that be, Mr. Logship?" asked the captain.
"Ah! sir," said Logship, "you have never been in the Mozambique Channel, or you'd know what a remora is. Well, sir, it's a sucking fish they bend on to a line; and then off the little devil starts with the speed of a deep sea-lead, and the moment it twigs a turtle, it fixes itself by its suckers to the calipash, and sticks to it like a leech until you haul it on board; and I'm blessed if that a'nt a useful sort of a shipmate to have on board when one's six upon four."
The chase had now commenced in earnest; every possible effort that the ingenuity of the officers could invent was resorted to, to make the Palmyra sail; and at nightfall the schooner, although but yet a mere speck on the horizon, was yet near enough to be just visible through the night-glass, but only to one man in the ship— that man was the captain.
THE God of Nature, who created the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night, has also given us various seasons, or divisions of the year, for the better supplying his living creatures with the produce of the earth. These seasons by us are called Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Spring begins on the day the sun enters the first degree of Aries, which is about the 10th day of March, and continues till he enters the first of Cancer; when Summer begins, and continues till the sun moves forward to the first of Libra; when Autumn takes place, and continues to the first of Capricorn; at which time Winter begins, and closes the year, that has revolved again to the first of Aries. These are the common definitions; but as they are to be confined to the seasons on the north of the equator, so it may more strictly and universally be said, that Spring commences when the distance of the sun's meridian altitude from the zenith, being on the increasing hand, is at a medium between the greatest and the least; that Summer takes place when the sun's meridian distance from the
zenith is the least, and ends on the day when his distance is a mean between the greatest and the least; at which period Autumn begins; and that Winter commences on the day when the sun's distance from the zenith of the place is the greatest, and terminates on the day when his distance is at a mean between the greatest and the least. These seasons, under the equator, return twice every year; but all other places have but one winter during a year, which, as before mentioned, begins when the sun enters the tropic Capricorn in the northern hemisphere. When the sun enters Cancer in the southern hemisphere, all places under the same hemisphere have their winter at the same time.-Burt.
RAMBLES OF AN AMERICAN NATURALIST.-No. II. BY JOHN D. GODMAN.
IN moving along the borders of the stream, (the brook along which the observations were made, recorded in the previous paper) we may observe, where the sand or mud is fine and settled, a sort of mark or cutting, as if an edged instrument had been drawn along, so as to leave behind it a tract or groove. At one end of this line, by digging a little into the mud with the hand, you will generally discover a shell of considerable size, which is tenanted by a molluscous animal of singular construction. On some occasions, when the mud is washed off from the shell, you will be delighted to observe the beautifully regular dark lines with which its greenish smooth surface is marked. Other species are found in the same situations, which, externally, are rough and inelegant, but within are ornamented to a most admirable degree, presenting a smooth surface of the richest pink, crimson, or purple, to which we have nothing of equal elegance to compare it. If the mere shells of these creatures be thus splendid, what shall we say of their internal structure, which, when examined by the microscope, offers a succession of wonders? The beautiful apparatus for respiration, formed of a network regularly arranged, of the most exquisite delicate texture; the foot, or organ by which the shell is moved forward through the mud or water, composed of an expanded spongy extremity, capable of assuming various figures to suit particular purposes, and governed by several strong muscles that move it in different directions; the ovaries, filled with myriads, not of eggs, but of perfect shells, or complete little animals, which, though not larger than the point of a fine needle, yet, when examined by the microscope, exhibit all the peculiarities of conformation that belong to the parent; the mouth, embraced by the nervous ganglion, which may be considered as the animal's brain; the stomach, surrounded by the various processes of the liver, and the strongly acting but transparent heart, all excite admiration and gratify our curiosity. The puzzling question often presents itself to the inquirer, why so much elaborateness of construction, and such exquisite ornament as are common to most of these creatures, should be bestowed? Destined to pass their lives in and under the mud, possessed of no sense that we are acquainted with, except that of touch, what purpose can ornament serve in them? However much of vanity there may be in asking the question, there is no answer to be offered. We cannot suppose that the individuals have any power of admiring each other, and we know that the foot is the only part they protrude from their shell, and that the inside of the shell is covered by the membrane called the mantle. Similar remarks may be made relative to conchology at large: the most exquisitely beautiful forms, colours, and ornaments are lavished upon genera and species which exist only at immense depths in the ocean, or buried in the mud; nor can any one form a satisfactory idea of the object the great Author of nature had in view, in thus profusely beautifying creatures occupying so low a place in the scale of creation.
European naturalists have hitherto fallen into the strangest absurdities concerning the motion of the bivalved shells, which five minutes' observation of nature would have served them to correct. Thus, they describe the upper part of the shell as the lower, and the hind part as the front, and speak of them as moving along on their rounded convex surface, like a boat on its keel; instead of advancing with the edges or open part of the shell towards the earth. All these mistakes have been corrected, and the true mode of progression indicated from actual observation, by our fellowcitizen, Isaac Lea, whose communications to the American Philosophical Society reflect the highest credit upon their author, who is a naturalist in the best sense of the term.
As I wandered slowly along the borders of the run, towards a little wood, my attention was caught by a considerable collection
of shells lying near an old stump. Many of these appeared to have been recently emptied of their contents, and others seemed to have long remained exposed to the weather. On most of them, at the thinnest part of the edge, a peculiar kind of fracture was obvious, and this seemed to be the work of an animal. A closer examination of the locality showed the footsteps of a quadruped, which I readily believed to be the muskrat: more especially as, upon examining the adjacent banks, numerous traces of burrows were discoverable. It is not a little singular that this animal, unlike all others of the larger gnawers, as the beaver, &c., appears to increase instead of diminishing with the increase of population. Whether it is that the dams and other works thrown up by men afford more favourable situations for their multiplication, or their favourite food is found in greater abundance, they certainly are quite as numerous now, if not more so, than when the country was first discovered, and are to be found at this time almost within the limits of the city. By the construction of their teeth, as well as all the parts of the body, they are closely allied to the rat kind; though in size, and some peculiarities of habit, they more closely approximate the beaver. They resemble the rat especially, in not being exclusively herbivorous, as is shown by their feeding on the uniones or mussels above-mentioned. To obtain this food requires no small exertion of their strength; and they accomplish it by introducing the claws of their fore-paws between the two edges of the shell, and tearing it open by main force. Whoever has tried to force open one of these shells, containing a living animal, may form an idea of the effort made by the muskrat: the strength of a strong man would be requisite to produce the same result in the same way.
The burrows of muskrats are very extensive, and consequently injurious to dikes and dams, meadow banks, &c. The entrance is always under water, and thence sloping upwards above the level of the water; so that the muskrat has to dive in going in and out. These creatures are excellent divers and swimmers; and being nocturnal, are rarely seen unless by those who watch for them at night. Sometimes we alarm one near the mouth of the den, and he darts away across the water, near the bottom, marking his course by a turbid streak in the stream: occasionally we are made aware of the passage of one to some distance down the current in the same way; but, in both cases, the action is so rapidly performed, that we should scarcely imagine what was the cause, if not previously informed. Except by burrowing into and spoiling the banks they are not productive of much evil, their food consisting principally of the roots of aquatic plants in addition to shellfish. The musky odour which gives rise to their common name, is caused by glandular organs placed near the tail, filled with a viscid and powerfully musky fluid, whose uses we know but little of, though it is thought to be intended as a guide by which these creatures may discover each other. This inference is strengthened by finding some such contrivance in different races of animals, in various modifications. A great number carry it in pouches similar to those just mentioned. Some, as the musk animal, have the pouch under the belly; the shrew has the glands on the side; the camel on the back of the neck; the crocodile under the throat, &c. At least no other use has ever been assigned for this apparatus; and in all creatures possessing it, the arrangement seems to be adapted peculiarly to the habits of the animals. The crocodile, for instance, generally approaches the shore in such a manner as to apply the neck and throat to the soil, while the hinder part of the body is under water. The glands under the throat leave the traces of his presence, therefore, with ease, as they come in contact with the shore. The glandular apparatus on the back of the neck of the male camel seems to have reference to the general elevation of the olfactory organs of the female; and the dorsal gland of the peccary no doubt has some similar relation to the peculiarities of
The value of the fur of the muskrat causes many of them to be destroyed, which is easily enough effected by means of a trap. This is a simple box, formed of rough boards nailed together, about three feet long, having an iron door, made of pointed bars, opening inwards, at both ends of the box. This trap is placed with the end opposite to the entrance of a burrow observed during the daytime. In the night, when the muskrat sallies forth, he enters the box, instead of passing into the open air, and is drowned, as the box is quite filled with water. If the traps be visited and emptied during the night, two may be caught in each trap, as muskrats from other burrows may come to visit those where the traps are placed, and thus one be taken going in as well as on coming out. These animals are frequently very fat, and their flesh has a very wholesome appearance, and would probably prove
good food. The musky odour, however, prejudices strongly against its use; and it is probable that the flesh is rank, as the mussels it feeds on are nauseous and bitter, and the roots which supply the rest of its food are generally unpleasant and acrid. Still, we should not hesitate to partake of its flesh in case of necessity, especially if of a young animal, from which the musk-bag had been removed immediately after it was killed.
accidentally struck down by one of the workmen, during one of its beautiful leaps, and killed. As the hunters saw nothing worthy of attention in the dead body of the animal, they very willingly resigned it to me; and with great satisfaction I retreated to a willow shade, to read what nature had written in its form for my instruction. The general appearance was mouselike; but the length and slenderness of the body, the shortness of its fore limbs, and the disproportionate length of its hind limbs, together with the peculiarity of its tail, all indicated its adaptation to the peculiar kind of action I had just witnessed. A sight of this little creature vaulting or bounding through the air strongly reminded me of what I had read of the great kangaroo of New Holland; and I could not help regarding our little jumper as in some respects a sort of miniature resemblance of that curious animal. It was not evident, however, that the jumping-mouse derived the aid from its tail, which so powerfully assists the kangaroo. Though long and larity which, in the New Holland animal, impels the lower part of the body immediately upward. In this mouse the leap is principally, if not entirely, effected by a sudden and violent extension of the long hind limbs, the muscles of which are strong and admirably suited to their object. We have heard that these little animals feed on the roots, &c., of the green herbage, and that they are every season to be found in the meadows. It may, perhaps, puzzle some to imagine how they subsist through the severities of winter, when vegetation is at rest, and the earth generally frozen. Here we find another occasion to admire the all-perfect designs of the Author of nature, who has endowed a great number of animals with the faculty of retiring into the earth, and passing whole months in a state of repose so complete as to allow all the functions of the body to be suspended, until the returning warmth of the spring calls them forth to renewed activity and enjoyment. The jumping-mouse, when the chill weather begins to draw nigh, digs down about six or eight inches into the soil, and there forms a little globular cell, as much larger than his own body as will allow a sufficient covering of fine grass to be introduced. This being obtained, he contrives to coil up his body and limbs in the centre of the soft dry grass, so as to form a complete ball; and so compact is this, that, when taken out, with the torpid animal, it may be rolled across a floor without injury. In this snug cell, which is soon filled up and closed externally, the jumping-mouse securely abides through all the frosts and storms of winter, needing neither food nor fuel, being utterly quiescent, and apparently dead, though susceptible at any time of reanimation, by being very gradually stimulated by light and heat.
In this vicinity, the muskrat does not build himself a house for the winter, as our fields and dikes are too often visited. But in other parts of the country, where extensive marshes exist, and muskrats are abundant, they build very snug and substantial houses, quite as serviceable and ingenious as those of the beaver. They do not dam the water as the beaver, nor cut branches of trees to serve for the walls of their dwellings. They make it of mud and rushes, raising a cone two or three feet high, having the entrance on the south side under water. About the year 1804, I saw several of them in Worrall's marsh, near Chestertown, Mary-sufficiently stout in proportion, it had none of the robust musculand, which were pointed out to me by an old black man, who made his living principally by trapping these animals, for the sake of their skins. A few years since, I visited the marshes near the mouth of Magerthy river, in Maryland, where I was informed by a resident that the muskrats still built regularly every winter. Perhaps these quadrupeds are as numerous in the vicinity of Philadelphia as elsewhere, as I have never examined a stream of fresh water, diked meadow, or mill-dam, hereabout, without seeing traces of vast numbers. Along all the water-courses and meadows in New Jersey, opposite Philadelphia, and in the meadows of the neck below the Navy-yard, there must be large numbers of muskrats. Considering the value of the fur, and the ease and trifling expense at which they might be caught, we have often felt surprised that more of them are not taken, especially as we have so many poor men complaining of wanting something to do. By thinning the number of muskrats, a positive benefit would be conferred on the farmers and furriers, to say nothing of the profits to the individual. My next visit to my old hunting-ground, the lane and brook, happened on a day in the first hay harvest, when the verdant sward of the meadows was rapidly sinking before the keen-edged scythes swung by vigorous mowers. This unexpected circumstance afforded me considerable pleasure, for it promised me a freer scope to my wanderings, and might also enable me to ascertain various particulars concerning which my curiosity had long been awakened. Nor was this promise unattended by fruition of my wishes. The reader may recollect that, in my first walk, a neat burrow in the grass, above ground, was observed without my knowing its author. The advance of the mowers explained this satisfactorily; for in cutting the long grass they exposed several nests of field-mice, which, by means of these grass-covered alleys, passed to the stream in search of food or drink, unseen by their enemies, the hawks and owls. The numbers of these little creatures were truly surprising; their fecundity is so great, and their food so abundant, that were they not preyed upon by many other animals, and destroyed in great numbers by man, they would become exceedingly troublesome. There are various species of them, all bearing a very considerable resemblance to each other, and having to an incidental observer much of the appearance of the domestic mouse. Slight attention, however, is requisite to perceive very striking differences; and the discrimination of these will prove a source of considerable gratification to the inquirer. The nests are very nicely made, and look much like a bird's nest, being lined with soft materials, and usually placed in some snug little hollow, or at the root of a strong tuft of grass. Upon the grass-roots and seeds these nibblers principally feed; and where very abundant, the effects of their hunger may be seen in the brown and withered aspect of the grass they have injured at the root. But, under ordinary circumstances, the hawks, owls, domestic cat, weasels, crows, &c., keep them in such limits as prevent them doing essential damage.
I had just observed another and a smaller grassy covered-way, where the mowers had passed along, when my attention was called - towards a waggon at a short distance, which was receiving its load. Shouts and laughter, accompanied by general running and scrambling of the people, indicated that some rare sport was going forward. When I approached I found that the object of chase was a jumping-mouse, whose actions it was truly delightful to witness. When not closely pressed by its pursuers, it ran with some rapidity in the usual manner, as if seeking concealment. But in a moment it would vault into the air, and skim along for ten or twelye feet, looking more like a bird than a little quadruped. After continuing this for some time, and nearly exhausting its pursuers with running and falling over each other, the frightened creature was
The little burrow under examination, when called to observe the jumping-mouse, proved to be made by the merry musicians of the meadows, the field crickets; acheta campestris. These lively black crickets are very numerous, and contribute very largely to that general song which is so delightful to the ear of the true lover of nature, as it rises on the air from myriads of happy creatures rejoicing amid the bounties conferred on them by Providence. It is not a voice that the crickets utter, but a regular vibration of musical chords, produced by nibbling the nervures of the elytra against a sort of network intended to produce the vibrations. The reader will find an excellent description of the apparatus in Kirby and Spence's book: but he may enjoy a much more satisfactory comprehension of the whole, by visiting the field cricket in his summer residence, see him tuning his viol, and awakening the echoes with his music. By such an examination as may be there obtained, he may derive more knowledge than by frequent perusal of the most eloquent writings, and perhaps observe circumstances which the learned authors are utterly ignorant of.
Among the great variety of burrows formed in the grass, or under the surface of the soil, by various animals and insects, there is one that I have often anxiously, and as yet fruitlessly explored. This burrow is formed by the smallest quadruped animal known to man, the minute shrew, which, when full grown, rarely exceeds the weight of thirty-six grains. I had seen specimens of this very interesting creature in the museum, and had been taught, by a more experienced friend to distinguish its burrow, which I have often perseveringly traced, with the hope of finding the living animal, but in vain. On one occasion, I patiently pursued a burrow nearly round a large barn, opening it all the way. I followed it under the barn floor, which was sufficiently high to allow me to crawl beneath. There I traced it about to a tiresome extent, and was at length rewarded by discovering where it terminated, under a foundation stone, perfectly safe from my attempts. Most probably a whole family of them were then present, and I had my labour for my pains. As these little creatures are nocturnal, and
are rarely seen from the nature of the places they frequent, the most probable mode of taking them alive would be by placing a small mousetrap in their way, baited with a little tainted or slightly spoiled meat. If a common mousetrap be used, it is necessary to work it over with additional wire, as this shrew could pass between the bars even of a close mousetrap. They are sometimes killed by cats, and thus obtained, as the cat never eats them, perhaps on account of their rank smell, owing to a peculiar glandular apparatus on each side that pours out a powerfully odorous greasy substance. The species of the shrew genus are not all so exceedingly diminutive, as some of them are even larger than a common mouse. They have their teeth coloured at the tips in a remarkable manner; it is generally of a pitchy brown, or dark chestnut hue, and, like the colouring of the teeth in the beaver and other animals, is owing to the enamel being thus formed, and not to any mere accident of diet. The shrews are most common about stables and cow-houses; and there, should I ever take the field again, my traps shall be set, as my desire to have one of these little quadrupeds is still as great as ever.
BENARES, THE "HOLY CITY" OF HINDUSTAN. BENARES, the celebrated "holy city" of Hindustan, is built on the north bank of the Ganges, and is about 460 miles from Calcutta, 950 from Bombay, and 1103 from Madras, travelling distance. It has been, from time immemorial, famous as a seat of Hindu learning; and is held in such estimation by the Hindus, that pilgrimages from all quarters are made to it. The late Bishop Heber thus describes it in his "Travels in India."
Topee Sahib' (the usual names in Hindustan for a European), kana ke waste kooch cheez do' (give me something to eat), soon drew from me what few pieces I had; but it was a drop of water in the ocean, and the importunities of the rest, as we advanced into the city, were almost drowned in the hubbub which surrounded Such are the sights and sounds which greet a stranger on entering this the most holy city' of Hindustan, the Lotus of the world, not founded on common earth, but on the point of Siva's trident, a place so blessed, that whoever dies here, of whatever sect, even though he should be an eater of beef, so he will but be charitable to the poor Bramins, is sure of salvation. It is, in fact, this very holiness which makes it the common resort of beggars; since, besides the number of pilgrims, which is enormous, from every part of India, as well as from Tibet and the Burman Empire, a great multitude of rich individuals in the decline of life, and almost all the great men who are from time to time disgraced or banished from home by the revolutions which are continually occurring in the Hindu states, come hither to wash away their sins, or to fill up their vacant hours by the gaudy ceremonies of their religion, and really give away great sums in profuse and indiscriminate charity."
BULLUM v. BOATUM.
"LAW," says the facetious author of the "History of John Bull," "Law is a bottomless pit;" and every one who has ever had the misfortune to fall into it has felt the difficulty of getting out. The "glorious uncertainty" of the law has afforded too good a mark for the shafts of our wits to be suffered to pass unaimed at, and one of the best hits ever made, which we must allow to be "in the
by the renowned George Steevens, that laugh-loving "Lecturer upon Heads." Steevens's Lectures, which were originally delivered by himself, somewhat after the fashion of Mathews's Monopolologues, and illustrated now by a puppet, anon by a barber's block, and sometimes by the due adjustment of the lecturer's own visage, obtained great repute and favour in their day, and were published in a small volume adorned by very laughable wood-cuts; but the book is now seldom to be met with, and the memory of its author is fading into oblivion. The report of the case "Bullum v. Boatum," which was delivered by the lecturer arrayed in full legal costume, was prefaced by the following luminous definition of "Law."
"No Europeans live in the town, nor are the streets wide enough for a wheel-carriage. Mr. Fraser's gig was stopped short almost in its entrance, and the rest of the way was passed in ton-clout," is the famous case of "Bullum v. Boatum," as reported jons, through alleys so crowded, so narrow, and so winding, that even a tonjon (a species of litter) sometimes passed with difficulty. The houses are mostly lofty, none I think less than two stories, most of three, and several of five or six, a sight which I now for the first time saw in India. The streets, like those of Chester, are considerably lower than the ground-floors of the houses, which have mostly arched rows in front, with little shops behind them. Above these, the houses are richly embellished with verandahs, galleries, projecting oriel windows, and very broad and over-hanging eaves, supported by carved brackets. The number of temples is very great, mostly small, and stuck like shrines in the angles of the streets, and under the shadow of the lofty houses. Their forms, however, are not ungraceful, and many of them are entirely covered over with beautiful and elaborate carvings of flowers, animals, and palm branches, equalling in minuteness and richness the best specimens that I have seen of Gothic or Grecian architecture. The material of the buildings is a very good stone, from Chunar, but the Hindus here seem fond of painting them a deep red colour, and, indeed, of covering the more conspicuous parts of their houses with paintings, in gaudy colours, of flower-pots, men, women, bulls, elephants, gods, and goddesses, in all their many formed, many-headed, many-handed, and many-weaponed varieties. The sacred bulls devoted to Siva, of every age, tame and familiar as mastiffs, walk lazily up and down these narrow streets, or are seen lying across them, and hardly to be kicked up, (any blows, indeed, given them must be of the gentlest kind, or woe be to the profane wretch who braves the prejudices of this fanatic population !) in order to make way for the tonjon. Monkeys sacred to Hunimaun, the divine ape who conquered Ceylon for Rama, are in some parts of the town equally numerous, clinging to all the roofs and little projections of the temples, putting their impertinent heads and hands into every fruiterer's and confectioner's shop, and snatching the food from the children at their There were two farmers, farmer A. and farmer B. Farmer A meals. Faqueers' houses, as they are called, occur at every turn, was seised or possessed of a bull; farmer B. was seised or possessed adorned with idols, and sending out an unceasing tinkling and of a ferry-boat. Now the owner of the ferry-boat, having made strumming of vinas, biyals, and other discordant instruments; while his boat fast to a post on shore, with a piece of hay, twisted ropeAfter he had religious mendicants of every Hindu sect, offering every conceiva- fashion, or as we say, vulgo vocato, a hay-band. ble deformity, with chalk, cow-dung, disease, matted locks, distorted made his boat fast to a post on shore, as it was very natural for a limbs, and disgusting and hideous attitudes of penances as supersti-hungry man to do, he went up town to dinner; farmer A.'s bull, tion can show, literally line the principal streets on both sides. The as it was very natural for a hungry bull to do, came down town to number of blind persons is very great (I was going to say of lepers look for a dinner; and the bull observing, discovering, seeing, and also, but I am not sure whether the appearance on the skin may spying out, some turnips in the bottom of the ferry-boat, the bull not have been filth and chalk): and here I saw repeated instances scrambled into the ferry-boat-he ate up the turnips, and to make of that penance of which I had heard much in Europe, of men an end of his meal, he fell to work upon the hay-band. The boat, with their legs or arms voluntarily distorted by keeping them in being eaten from its moorings, floated down the river, with the one position, and their hands clenched till the nails grew out at bull in it: it struck against a rock-beat a hole in the bottom of the backs. Their pitiful exclamations as we passed, Agha Sahib, the boat, and tossed the bull overboard. Thereupon, the owner of
"LAW is—law,-law is law, and as, in such and so forth, and hereby, and aforesaid, provided always, nevertheless, notwithstanding. Law is like a country dance, people are led up and down in it till they are tired. Law is like a book of surgery, there are a great many terrible cases in it. It is also like physic, they that take least of it are best off. Law is like a homely gentlewoman, very well to follow. Law is also like a scolding wife, very bad when it follows us. Law is like a new fashion, people are bewitched to get into it; it is also like bad weather, most people are glad when they get out of it." The same learned authority observes, that the case before referred to, and hereafter immediately stated, came before him, that is to say,
Bullum v. Boatum.