Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

to bend it, and the crab is said to be in buckram, as in the first RAMBLES OF AN AMERICAN NATURALIST.-No. IV. stage it was in paper. It is still helpless, and offers no resistance;

BY JOHN D. GODMAN.

AFTER the sun-fish, as regular annual visitants of the small rivers and creeks containing salt or brackish water, came the crabs, in vast abundance, though for a very different purpose. These singularly-constructed and interesting beings furnished me with another excellent subject for observation; and during the period of their visitation, my skiff was in daily requisition. Floating along with an almost imperceptible motion, a person looking from the shore might have supposed her entirely adrift; for as I was stretched at full length across the seats, in order to bring my sight as close to the water as possible without inconvenience, no one would have observed my presence from a little distance. The crabs belong to a very extensive tribe of beings, which carry their skeletons on the outside of their bodies, instead of within; and, of necessity, the fleshy, muscular, or moving power of the body is placed in a situation the reverse of what occurs in animals of a higher order, which have internal skeletons or solid frames to their systems. This peculiarity of the crustaceous animals, and various other beings, is attended with one apparent inconvenience: when they have grown large enough to fill their shell or skeleton completely, they cannot grow farther, because the skeleton, being external, is incapable of enlargement. To obviate this difficulty, the Author of nature has endowed them with the power of casting off the entire shell, increasing in size, and forming another equally hard and perfect, for several seasons successively, until the greatest or maximum size is attained, when the change or sloughing ceases to be necessary-though it is not always discontinued on that account. To undergo this change with greater ease and security, the crabs seek retired and peaceful waters, such as the beautiful creek I have been speaking of, whose clear sandy shores are rarely disturbed by waves causing more than a pleasing murmur, and where the number of enemies must be far less in proportion than in the boisterous waters of the Chesapeake their great place of concourse. From the first day of their arrival, in the latter part of June, until the time of their departure, which in this creek occurred towards the 1st of August, it was astonishing to witness the vast multitudes which flocked towards the head of the stream.

It is not until they have been for some time in the creek that the moult or sloughing generally commences. They may be then observed gradually coming closer in-shore, to where the sand is fine, fairly exposed to the sun, and a short distance farther out than the lowest water-mark, as they must always have at least a depth of three or four inches water upon them.

but at the end of thirty-six hours, it shows that its natural instincts are in action; and by the time forty-eight hours have elapsed, the crab is restored to the exercise of all his functions. I have stated the above as the periods in which the stages of the moult are accomplished; but I have often observed that the rapidity of this process is very much dependent upon the temperature, and especially upon sunshine. A cold, cloudy, raw, and disagreeable interval happening at this period, though by no means common, will retard the operation considerably, protracting the period of helplessness.

This is the harvest season of the white fisherman and of the poor slave. The laziest of the former are now in full activity, wading along the shore from morning till night, dragging a small boat after them, and holding in the other hand a forked stick with which they raise the crabs from the sand. The period during which the crabs remain in the paper state is so short, that great activity is required to gather a sufficient number to take to market, but the price at which they are sold is sufficient to awaken all the cupidity of the crabbers. Two dollars a dozen is by no means an uncommon price for them when the season first comes in; they subsequently come down to a dollar, and even to fifty cents; at any of which rates the trouble of collecting them is well paid. The slaves search for them at night, and then are obliged to kindle a fire of pine-knots on the bow of the boat, which strongly illuminates the surrounding water, and enables them to discover the crabs. Soft crabs are, with great propriety, regarded as an exquisite treat by those who are ford of such eating; and though many persons are unable to use crabs or lobsters in any form, there are few who taste of the soft crabs without being willing to recur to them. As an article of luxury, they are scarcely known north of the Chesapeake, though there is nothing to prevent them from being used to considerable extent in Philadelphia, especially since the opening of the Chesapeake and Delaware canal. The summer of 1829, I had the finest soft crabs from Baltimore. They arrived at the market in the afternoon, were fried according to rule, and placed in a tin butter-kettle, then covered for an inch or two with melted lard, and put on board the steam-boat which left Baltimore at five o'clock the same afternoon. The next morning before ten o'clock they were in Philadelphia, and at one they were served up at dinner in Germantown. The only difficalty in the way is that of having persons to attend to their procuring and transmission; as when cooked directly after they arrive at market, and forwarded with as little delay as above mentioned, there is no danger of their being the least injured.

At other seasons, when the crabs did not come close to the The individual, having selected his place, becomes perfectly shore, I derived much amusement by taking them in deep water. quiescent, and no change is observed during some hours but a This is always easily effected by the aid of proper bait; a leg of sort of swelling along the edges of the great upper shell at its back chicken, a piece of any raw meat, or a salted or spoiled herring, part. After a time, this posterior edge of the shell becomes fairly tied to a twine string of sufficient length, and a hand-net of condisengaged, like the lid of a chest; and now begins the more venient size, is all that is necessary. You throw out your line and difficult work of withdrawing the great claws from their cases, bait, or you fix as many lines to your boat as you please, and in a which every one recollects to be vastly larger at their extremities, short time you see, by the straightening of the line, that the bait and between the joints, than the joints themselves. A still greater has been seized by a crab, who is trying to make off with it. You apparent difficulty presents itself in the shedding of the sort of ten- then place your net where it can conveniently be picked up, and don which is placed within. the muscles. Nevertheless, the Author commence steadily but gently to draw in your line, until you have of nature has adapted them to the accomplishment of all this. The brought the crab sufficiently near the surface to distinguish him: disproportionate-sized claws undergo a peculiar softening, which if you draw him nearer, he will see you, and immediately let go; enables the crab, by a very steadily continued, scarcely perceptible otherwise, his greediness and voracity will make him cling to his effort, to pull them out of their shells; and the business is com- prey to the last. Holding the line in the left hand, you now dip pleted by the separation of the complex parts about the mouth and your net edge foremost into the water, at some distance from the eyes. The crab now slips out from the slough, settling near it on line, carry it down perpendicularly until it is five or six inches the sand. It is now covered by a soft, perfectly flexible skin, and, lower than the crab, and then with a sudden, turn-out bring it though possessing precisely the same form as before, seems inca- directly before him, and lift up at the same time. Your prize is pable of the slightest exertion. Notwithstanding that such is its generally secured, if your net be at all properly placed; for as soon condition, while you are gazing on this helpless creature, it is as he is alarmed, he pushes directly downwards, and is received in sinking in the fine loose sand, and in a short time is covered up the bag of the net. It is better to have a little water in the sufficiently to escape the observation of careless or inexperienced bottom of the boat to throw them into, as they are easier emptied observers. Neither can one say how this is effected, although it out of the net-always letting go when held over the water. occurs under their immediate observation; the motions employed This a good crabber never forgets; and should he unluckily be to produce the displacement of the sand are too slight to be appre- seized by a large crab, he holds him over the water, and is freed at ciated, though it is most probably owing to a gradual lateral once, though he loses his game. When not held over the water, motion of the body, by which the sand is displaced in the centre they bite sometimes with dreadful obstinacy; and I have seen it beneath, and thus gradually forced up at the sides until it falls necessary to crush the forceps or claws before one could be over and covers the crab. Examine him within twelve hours, and induced to let go the fingers of a boy. A poor black fellow also you will find the skin becoming about as hard as fine writing-placed himself in an awkward situation: the crab seized him by a paper, producing a similar crackling if compressed; twelve hours later, the shell is sufficiently stiffened to require some slight force

finger of his right hand, but he was unwilling to lose his captive by holding him over the water; instead of which, he attempted to

secure the other claw with his left hand, while he tried to crush the biting claw between his teeth. In doing this, he somehow relaxed his left hand, and with the other claw the crab seized poor Jem by his under-lip-which was by no means a thin one, and caused him to roar with pain. With some difficulty he was freed from his tormentor; but it was several days before he ceased to excite laughter, as the severe bite was followed by a swelling of the lip, which imparted a most ludicrous expression to a naturally comical countenance.

On the first arrival of the crabs, when they throng the shoals of the creeks in vast crowds, as heretofore mentioned, a very summary way of taking them is resorted to by the country people, and for a purpose that few would suspect without having witnessed it. They use a three-pronged fork or gig, made for this sport, attached to a long handle; the crabber, standing up in the skiff, pushes it along until he is over a large collection of crabs, and then strikes his spear among them. By this several are transfixed at once, and lifted into the boat; and the operation is repeated until enough have been taken. The purpose to which they are to be applied is to feed the hogs, which very soon learn to collect in waiting upon the beach when the crab-spearing is going on. Although these bristly gentry appear to devour almost all sorts of food with great relish, it seemed to me that they regarded the crabs as a most luxurious banquet; and it was truly amusing to see the grunters, when the crabs were thrown on shore for them, and were scampering off in various directions, seizing them in spite of their threatening claws, holding them down with one foot, and speedily reducing them to a state of helplessness by breaking off their forceps. Such a crunching and cracking of the unfortunate crabs I never have witnessed since; and I might have commiserated them more, had not I known that death, in some form or other, was continually awaiting them, and that their devourers were all destined to meet their fate in a few months in the sty, and thence through the smoke-house to be placed upon our table. On the shores of the Chesapeake, I have caught crabs in a way commonly employed by all those who are unprovided with boats and nets. This is to have a forked stick and a baited line, with which the crabber wades out as far as he thinks fit, and then throws out his line. As soon as he finds he has a bite, he draws the line in, cautiously lifting but a very little from the bottom. As soon as it is near enough to be fairly in reach, he quickly-yet with as little movement as possible-secures the crab by placing the forked stick across his body, and pressing him against the sand. He must then stoop down and take hold of the crab by the two posterior swimming-legs, so as to avoid being seized by the claws. Should he not wish to carry each crab ashore as he catches it, he pinions or spansels (as the fishermen call it) them. This is a very effectual mode of disabling them from using their biting claws; yet it is certainly not the most humane operation: it is done by taking the first of the sharp-pointed feet of each side, and forcing it in for the length of the joint behind the moveable joint or thumb of the opposite biting claw. The crabs are then strung upon a string or withe, and allowed to hang in the water until the crabber desists from his occupations.

The circumstance of the external skeleton has been mentioned, but who would expect an animal so low in the scale as a crab to be furnished with ten or twelve pair of jaws to its mouth? Yet such is the fact; and all these variously-constructed pieces are provided with appropriate muscles, and move in a manner which can scarcely be explained, though it may be very readily comprehended when once observed in living nature. But, after all the complexity of the jaws, where would an inexperienced person look for their teeth? Surely not in the stomach. Nevertheless, such is their situation; and these are not mere appendages that are called teeth by courtesy, but stout, regular, grinding teeth, with a light brown surface. They are not only within the stomach, but fixed to a cartilage nearest to its lower extremity; so that the food, unlike that of other creatures, is submitted to the action of the teeth as it is passing from the stomach, instead of being chewed before it is swallowed. In some species the teeth are five in number, but throughout this class of animals the same general principle of construction may be observed. Crabs and their kindred have no brain, because they are not required to reason upon what they observe; they have a nervous system excellently suited to their mode of life, and its knots or ganglia send out nerves to the organs of sense, digestion, motion, &c. The senses of these beings are very acute, especially their sight, hearing, and smell. Most of my readers have heard of crabs' eyes, or have seen these organs in the animal on the end of two little projecting knobs, above and on each side of the mouth: few of them, however, have seen the

crab's ear, yet it is very easily found, and is a little triangular bump placed near the base of the feelers. This bump has a membrane stretched over it, and communicates with a small cavity, which is the internal ear. The organ of smell is not so easily demonstrated as that of hearing, though the evidence of their possessing the sense to an acute degree is readily attainable. A German naturalist inferred, from the fact of the nerve corresponding to the olfactory nerve in man being distributed to the antennæ in insects, that the antennæ were the organs of smell in them. Cuvier and others suggest that a similar arrangement may exist in the crustacea. To satisfy myself whether it was so or not, I lately dissected a small lobster, and was delighted to find that the first pair of nerves actually went to the antennæ, and gave positive support to the opinion mentioned. I state this, not to claim credit for ascertaining the truth or inaccuracies of a suggestion, but with a view of inviting the reader to do the same in all cases of doubt. Where it is possible to refer to nature for the actual condition of facts, learned authorities give me no uneasiness. If I find that the structure bears out their opinions, it is more satisfactory; when it convicts them of absurdity, it saves much fruitless reading, as well as the trouble of shaking off prejudices. The first time my attention was called to the extreme acuteness of sight possessed by these animals, was during a walk along the flats of Long Island, reaching towards Governor's Island, in New York. A vast number of the small land-crabs, called fiddlers by the boys, (gecarcinus,) occupy burrows or caves dug in the marshy soil, whence they come out and go for some distance, either in search of food or to sun themselves. Long before I approached close enough to see their forms with distinctness, they were scampering towards their holes, into which they plunged with a tolerable certainty of escape; these retreats being of consi derable depth, and often communicating with each other, as well as nearly filled with water. On endeavouring cautiously to approach some others, it was quite amusing to observe their vigilance; to see them slowly change position, and from lying extended in the sun, beginning to gather themselves up for a start, should it prove necessary; at length, standing up as it were on tiptoe, and raising their pedunculated eyes as high as possible. One quick step on the part of the individual approaching was enough; away they would go, with a celerity which must appear surprising to any one who had not previously witnessed it. What is more remarkable, they possess the power of moving equally well with any part of the body foremost; so that, when endeavouring to escape, they will suddenly dart off from one side or the other, without turning round, and thus elude pursuit.

My observations upon the crustaceous animals have extended through many years, and in very various situations; and for the sake of making the general view of their qualities more satisfactory, I will go on to state what I remarked of some of the genera and species in the West Indies, where they are exceedingly numerous and various. The greater proportion of the genera feed on animal matter, especially after decomposition has begun; a large number are exclusively confined to the deep waters, and approach the shoals and lands only during the spawning season. Many live in the sea, but daily pass many hours upon the rocky shores for the pleasure of basking in the sun; others live in marshy or moist ground, at a considerable distance from the water, and feed principally on vegetable food, especially the sugar-cane, of which they are extremely destructive. Others, again, reside habitually on the hills or mountains, and visit the sea only once a year for the purpose of depositing their eggs in the sand. All those which reside in burrows made in moist ground, and those coming daily on the rocks to bask in the sun, participate in about an equal degree in the qualities of vigilance and swiftness. Many a breathless race have I run in vain, attempting to intercept them, and prevent their escaping into the sea. Many an hour of cautious and solicitous endeavour to steal upon them unobserved has been frustrated by their long-sighted watchfulness; and several times, when, by extreme care and cunning approaches, I have actually succeeded in getting between a fine specimen and the sea, and had full hope of driving him farther inland, have all my anticipations been ruined by the wonderful swiftness of their flight, or the surprising facility with which they would dart off in the very opposite direction, at the very moment I felt almost sure of my prize. One day, in particular, I saw on a flat rock, which afforded a fine sunning place, the most beautiful crab I had ever beheld. It was of the largest size, and would have covered a large dinner-plate, most beautifully coloured with bright crimson below, and a variety of tints of blue, purple, and green above; it was just such a specimen as could not fail to excite all the solicitude of a collector

to obtain. But it was not in the least deficient in the art of selfpreservation; my most careful manoeuvres proved ineffectual, and all my efforts only enabled me to see enough of it to augment my regrets to a high degree. Subsequently I saw a similar individual in the collection of a resident: this had been killed against the rocks during a violent hurricane, with very slight injury to its shell. I offered high rewards to the black people if they would bring me such a one; but the most expert among them seemed to think it an unpromising search, as they knew of no way of capturing them. If I had been supplied with some powder of nux vomica, with which to poison some meat, I might have succeeded.

The fleet-running crab (Cypoda pugilator), mentioned as living in burrows dug in a moist soil, and preying chiefly on the sugarcane, is justly regarded as one of the most noxious pests that can infest a plantation. Their burrows extend to a great depth, and run in various directions; they are also, like those of our fiddlers, nearly full of muddy water; so that, when these marauders once plump into their dens, they may be considered as entirely beyond pursuit. Their numbers are so great, and they multiply in such numbers, as in some seasons to destroy a large proportion of a sugar-crop; and sometimes their ravages, combined with those of the rats and other plunderers, are absolutely ruinous to the seaside planters. I was shown, by the superintendant of a place thus infested, a great quantity of cane utterly killed by these creatures, which cut it off in a peculiar manner, in order to suck the juice; and he assured me that, during that season, the crop would be two-thirds less than its average, solely owing to the inroads of the crabs and rats, which, if possible, are still more numerous. It was to me an irresistible source of amusement to observe the air of spite and vexation with which he spoke of the crabs; the rats he could shoot, poison, or drive off for a time with dogs. But the crabs would not eat his poison while sugar-cane was growing; the dogs could only chase them into their holes; and if, in helpless irritation, he sometimes fired his gun at a cluster of them, the shot only rattled over their shells like hail against a window. It is truly desirable that some summary mode of lessening their number could be devised; and it is probable that this will be best effected by poison, as it may be possible to obtain a bait sufficiently attractive to ensnare them.

The land-crab, which is common to many of the West-India islands, is most generally known as the Jamaica crab, because it has been most frequently described from observation in that island. Wherever found, they all have the habit of living, during great part of the year, in the highlands, where they pass the daytime concealed in huts, cavities, and under stones, and come out at night for their food. They are remarkable for collecting in vast bodies, and marching annually to the sea-side, in order to deposit their eggs in the sand; and this accomplished, they return to their former abodes, if undisturbed. They commence their march in the night, and move in the most direct line towards the destined point. So obstinately do they pursue this route, that they will not turn out of it for any obstacle that can possibly be surmounted. During the daytime, they skulk and lie hid as closely as possible; but thousands upon thousands of them are taken for the use of the table by whites and blacks, as on their seaward march they are very fat and of fine flavour. On the homeward journey, those that have escaped capture are weak, exhausted, and unfit for use.

Before dismissing the crabs, I must mention one which was a source of much annoyance to me at first, and of considerable interest afterwards, from the observation of its habits. At that time I resided in a house delightfully situated about two hundred yards from the sea, fronting the setting sun, having, in clear weather, the lofty mountains of Porto Rico, distant about eighty miles, in view. Like most of the houses in the island, ours had seen better days, as was evident from various breaks in the floors, angles rotted off the doors, sunken sills, and other indications of decay. Our sleeping room, which was on the lower floor, was especially in this condition; but as the weather was delightfully warm, a few cracks and openings, though rather large, did not threaten much inconvenience. Our bed was provided with that indispensable accompaniment, a musquito bar or curtain, to which we were indebted for escape from various annoyances. Scarcely had we extinguished the light and composed ourselves to rest, than we heard, in various parts of the room, the most startling noises. It appeared as if numerous hard and heavy bodies were trailed along the floor; then they sounded as if climbing up by the chairs and other furniture, and frequently something like a large stone would tumble down from such elevations with a loud noise,

followed by a peculiar chirping note. What an effect this produced upon entirely inexperienced strangers may well be imagined by those who have been suddenly waked up in the dark, by some unaccountable noise in the room. Finally, these invaders began to ascend the bed; but happily the musquito bar was securely tucked under the bed all around, and they were denied access, though their efforts and tumbles to the floor produced no very comfortable reflections. Towards daylight they began to retire, and in the morning no trace of any such visitants could be perceived. On mentioning our troubles, we were told that this. nocturnal disturber was only Bernard the Hermit, called generally the soldier-crab, perhaps from the peculiar habit he has of protecting his body by thrusting it into an empty shell, which he afterwards carries about until he outgrows it, when it is relinquished for a larger. Not choosing to pass another night quite so noisily, due care was taken to exclude Monsieur Bernard, whose knockings were thenceforward confined to the outside of the house. I baited a large wire rat-trap with some corn-meal, and placed it outside of the back door, and in the morning found it literally half-filled with these crabs, from the largest-sized shell that could enter the trap down to such as were not larger than a hickory nut. Here was a fine collection made at once, affording a very considerable variety in the size and age of the specimens, and the different shells into which they had introduced themselves.

The

The soldier or hermit-crab, when withdrawn from his adopted shell, presents about the head and claws a considerable family resemblance to the lobster. The claws, however, are very short and broad, and the body covered with hard shell only in that part which is liable to be exposed or protruded. The posterior or abdominal part of the body is covered only by a tough skin, and tapers towards a small extremity, furnished with a sort of hooklike apparatus, enabling it to hold on to its factitious dwelling. Along the surface of its abdomen, as well as on the back, there are small projections, apparently intended for the same purpose. When once fairly in possession of a shell, it would be quite a difficult matter to pull the crab out, though a very little heat applied to the shell will quickly induce him to leave it. The shells they select are taken solely with reference to their suitableness, and hence you may catch a considerable number of the same species, each of which is in a different species or genus of shell. shells commonly used by them, when of larger size, are those of the whelk, which are much used as an article of food by the islanders, or the smaller conch (strombus) shells. The very young hermit-crabs are seen in almost every variety of small shell found on the shores of the Antilles. I have frequently been amused by seeing ladies eagerly engaged in making a collection of these beautiful little shells, and, not dreaming of their being tenanted by a living animal, suddenly startled, on displaying their acquisitions, at observing them to be actively endeavouring to escape; or, on introducing the hand into the reticule to produce a particular fine specimen, to receive a smart pinch from the claws of the little hermit. The instant the shell is closely approached or touched, they withdraw as deeply into it as possible, and the small ones readily escape observation; but they soon become impatient of captivity, and try to make off. The species of this genus (pagurus) are very numerous, and during the first part of their lives are all aquatic; that is, they are hatched in the little pools about the margin of the sea, and remain there until those that are destined to live on land are stout enough to commence their travels. The hermit-crabs, which are altogether aquatic, are by no means so careful to choose the lightest and thinnest shells as the land troops. The aquatic soldiers may be seen towing along shells of most disproportionate size; but their relatives, who travel over the hills by moonlight, know that all unnecessary incumbrance of weight should be avoided. They are as pugnacious and spiteful as any of the crustaceous class; and when taken, or when they fall and jar themselves considerably, utter a chirping noise, which is evidently an angry expression. They are ever ready to bite with their claws, and the pinch of the larger individuals is quite painful. It is said, that when they are changing their shells, for the sake of obtaining more commodious coverings, they frequently fight for possession; which may be true where two that have forsaken their old shells meet, or happen to make choice of the same vacant one. It is also said, that one crab is sometimes forced to give up the shell he is in, should a stronger chance to desire it. This, as I never saw it, I must continue to doubt; for I cannot imagine how the stronger could possibly accomplish his purpose, seeing that the occupant has nothing to do but keep close quarters. The invader would have no chance of seizing him to pull him out, nor

could he do him any injury by biting upon the surface of his hard claws, the only part that would be exposed. If it be true that one can dispossess the other, it must be by some contrivance of which we are still ignorant.

OUR LITERARY LETTER-BOX.

We have been disappointed in not obtaining information relative to the EMPLOYMENTS OF FEMALES in different parts of Britain, as we had fancied that the

These soldier-crabs feed on a great variety of substances, scarcely refusing anything that is edible: like the family they subject would be one of general interest. We can, therefore, only give what belong to, they have a decided partiality for putrid meats, and the planters accuse them also of too great a fondness for the sugar

cane.

we have received.

"MR. EDITOR,-In answer to your inquiries respecting the employment of females, I can inform you that, in the counties of Hereford and Salop, young girls commence their duties as household servants as early as twelve or fourteen years of age, in the families of petty shopkeepers, clerks, &c., where they receive from 11. to 21. per annum ; as they become older and know more of household work, they obtain situations in more respectable families where only one servant is kept, and their wages are advanced to 47. or 5%.; and from these

Their excursions are altogether nocturnal; in the day-time they lie concealed very effectually in small holes, among stones, or any kind of rubbish, and are rarely taken notice of, even where hundreds are within a short distance of each other. The larger soldier-crabs are sometimes eaten by the blacks; but they are not much sought after, even by them, as they are generally regarded with aversion and prejudice. There is no reason, that we are aware of, why they should not be as good as many other crabs, places they become cooks and housemaids in the houses of the more wealthy, but they certainly are not equally esteemed.

THE MERRY MONTH OF MARCH.

THE bloom is in the bud, and the bud is on the bough,

And Earth hath grown an emerald, and heaven a sapphire now;
The snowdrop and the daisy wild are laughing everywhere;
And the balmy breath of opening buds floats sweetly thro' the air.
Ten thousand birds are on the wing whene'er the morning dawns,
And the merry huntsman's horn and hounds are dashing o'er the lawns;
There's a busy hum of insect crowds, all full of life and joy;
Age shakes his scatter'd locks of snow, and thinks himself a boy.
For the bloom, &c.

The mountain-streams are leaping in a galaxy of light;
The dew on every blade of grass is beaming pure and bright;
There's such a fragrance in the fields-such beauty far unfurl'd,
That God himself doth seem to walk in glory through the world.
Oh, how the sunny soul expands, how leaps the bounding heart,
As notes of music from the lips of kneeling seraph start;
What promise in the verdant plains-what hope is on the wing !
A blessing on thy balmy breath, thou merry month of spring.
For the bloom is in the bud, &c.

A number of our readers instantly recognised the hand of FELICIA Will HEMANS in the lines "The bud is in the bough," given in No. 62. some of them now exercise their knowledge or their ingenuity in giving us information respecting the above " parallel passage?"

THE USES OF MYTHOLOGY.

The history of the religious ideas of man is an important portion of the history of the human mind; and the legends of mythology, silly as they may appear to narrow minds, will always be deemed by the true philosopher worthy of attentive consideration; the poetic beauty of many of them will recommend them to all readers of taste; and the arrival of a period when the cultivation of the severer sciences, and more practical philosophy, shall have so completely extinguished poetic feeling as to render them objects of contempt and neglect, is a consummation hardly, perhaps, to be desired by any true friend of mankind.-Keightley.

MUSIC AND NOVELS.

I have been told by a physician of the first eminence, that music and novels have done more to produce the sickly countenances and nervous habits of our highly-educated females, than any other causes that can be assigned. The excess of stimulus on the mind, from the interesting and melting tales that are peculiar to novels, affects the organs of the body and relaxes the tone of the nerves; in the same manner as the melting tones of music have been described to act upon the constitution, after the sedentary employment necessary for skill in that science has injured it.-Clarkson's Portraiture of Quakerism.

RETURNING ENERGY.

Dr. Kitchiner, to show how the strength of man may be diminished by indulging indolence, mentions the following ludicrous fact" Meeting a gentleman who bad lately returned from India, to my inquiry after his health, he replied, Why, better-better, thank ye; I think I begin to feel some symptoms of the return of a little English energy. Do you know that the day before yesterday I was in such high spirits, and felt so strong, that I actually put on one of my stockings by myself." "-Traveller's Oracle.

with about 81. wages. In the two latter classes of situations, they are generally very well off, as far as regards their physical comfort; but the irksomeness of the restraint attendant upon a life of service, is too apt to induce them to accept the first offer of marriage, without duly considering the character or the means of the man who solicits their hand, and too often find their afterlife one of hardship and privation. There is another class of females, who are in the habit of apprenticing themselves for two or three years to the drea3making, as being something more respectable than service; but, after becoming proficient in their calling, they seldom earn more than 10d. or 1s. per day, sometimes with and sometimes without their board.

"Another class the daughters of tradespeople who are well to do in the world-after spending ten or a dozen years in learning the accomplishments usually taught in modern boarding-schools, sometimes obtain situations as governesses in private families or schools, where they often have to teach music, drawing, dancing, French, geography, and the use of the globes, English grammar and history, and have the manners, and keep up the appearance of ladies, with salaries varying from 147. to 207. per annum ; and it is very seldom, indeed, that the latter sum is obtained.

"Such, as far as my own knowledge extends, are the unfavourable circumstances in which women who have to learn and labour to get their own living' are placed; and if your inquiries should elicit any information which may tend to improve their condition, you will confer a benefit, not only on the parties themselves, but on every man who has a wife, sister, or daughter to provide for."-AN OPERATIVE.

Another correspondent, writing from GLASGOW, informs us, that " many hundreds of females are employed in warehouses, and their labour is in sewed muslin, or making ladies' collars, and other such articles-they are, for the most part, respectable tradesmen's daughters; their weekly earnings are from 6s. to 108., and sometimes, but very seldom, a little more; their hours are from 10 to 8. Some are employed in tambouring, and make about the same; fine work is paid higher. Some, but comparatively few, obtain work as fringersi. e. putting fringes to shawls; they are chiefly for exportation, and it is done in their own houses; their employ is uncertain, and I think cannot average more than from 4s, to 6s. per week. We have also women employed in winding yarn, and they make about 48. Common tradesmen's servants have from

51. to 77.; the higher classes give from 87. to 147. GooD servants are much in demand, but bad ones, I am sorry to say, are far too plentiful.

"In reference to the query, Could females easily be enabled to acquire skill and facility in occupations usually left to men, such as those we have men. tioned, watch-makers, pianoforte-makers, &c., and also as designers, or pattern-drawers for manufactures, household furniture, &c.? I can only answer, that male pattern-drawers are generally in constant employment, and are well paid, I believe chiefly by the designs. I think tasty (excuse the vulgarism) females might make a good livelihood by it; but I have never known any who have, as yet, tried it.

"I know several persons in Edinburgh, which cannot be called a manufacturing city, who find employment as follows:-in binding shoes, they make at the very most 7s., and as low as 38. In folding and stitching for bookbindors, about from 6s. to 88., paid according to their dexterity. By straw hat-making, dress-making, stay-making, millinery, &c., many make a good livelihood; their I speak earnings vary from 98. to 158., and some even make upwards of 17. of the common sort, or those who work only for tradespeople. Some find work in making up boas, muffs, &c., for furriers; their earnings are various. Others make vests, and are paid about 2s. by tailors, and about 3s. 6d. by private individuals; these are light vests. It must be taken into consideration that 17. here [the letter is from Glasgow,] will go about as far as 21. in London. Respectable lodgings can be had for 18. 6d. per week, or even less (these are comfortably furnished). Good small houses can be had from 37. to 51. per Provisions are also very much below those of London; and a person

annum.

can board and lodge well at 7s. per week, including 6d. per week for a fire; this is the common rate with the working classes-some are even less.

"W. S. I. E."

BRISTOLIENSIS. That coal is of vegetable origin appears to admit of no dispute. But the nature and character of the vegetation which has been gradually converted into coal, and the modus operandi, or nature of the process by which fossil plants have been thus mineralised, have been, and still are, matters of controversy amongst the geological "doctors." The vegetable origin of coal is proved by the numerous impressions of plants found in connection with it, and by the traces of organisation which are still discoverable in it. Professor Buckland, speaking of the coal-mines of Bohemia, says, "The most elaborate imitations of living foliage upon the painted ceilings of Italian palaces bear no comparison with the beauteous profusion of extinct vegetable forms with which the galleries of these instructive coal-mines are overhung. The roof is covered as with a canopy of gorgeous tapestry, enriched with festoons of most graceful foliage, flung in wild, irregular profusion over every portion of its surface. The effect is heightened by the contrast of the coal-black colour of these vegetables with the light groundwork of the rock to which they are attached. The spectator feels himself transported, as if by enchantment, into the forests of another world; he beholds trees of forms and characters now unknown upon the surface of the earth, presented to his senses almost in the beauty and vigour of their primeval life; their scaly stems and bending branches, with their delicate apparatus of foliage, are all spread forth before him, little impaired by the lapse of countless ages, and bearing faithful records of extinct systems of vegetation, which began and terminated in times of which these relics are the infallible historians."

This, however, is a rare case: for the difficulty of recognising the particular character of the vegetation which has been converted into coal, has been in general very great. "Of the leaves the greater part is more or less mutilated; those of ferns, which are extremely numerous, have lost their fructification in the majority of instances; and it frequently happens that the leaflets of compound leaves have been dis-articulated, either wholly or partially. Stems or trunks are in all cases in a state, which must be supposed to result from decay previously to their conversion into coal; destitute of bark, or with the principal part of that envelope gone, and often pressed quite flat, so that all trace of their original convexity is destroyed. Where ripe fruits are met with, they are not in clusters, as they probably were when alive, but separated into single individuals."

From the limited number of plants which have been identified in the coalmeasures, an inference was drawn, that "in the beginning nature was in reality little diversified; that a few forms of organisation of the lower kind only were all that clothed the face of the earth; and that it was only in after ages that nature assumed her many-coloured, ever-varying robe." But Professor Lindley has proved that plants are capable of enduring suspension in water in very different degrees, some resisting a long suspension almost without change, others rapidly decomposing and disappearing. The meagre character of the coal Flora may, therefore, be owing to the different capabilities of different plants of resisting destruction in water. Professor Lindley's conclusions are :— 1. Coal is of vegetable origin. 2. That at the period of its deposit the earth was covered with a rich vegetation, of which only a small portion has been preserved. 3. That the plants which formed coal, were, for a period of some duration, floating in water.

ONE or two correspondents have addressed us on points of domestic economy, which we scarcely conceive to fall within our particular" line;" one wishes to receive instruction about rearing poultry, keeping a cow, &c. Now, if our correspondent is really in earnest in these matters, we do not know that we can do better than to refer him, and similar correspondents, to the Editor of the MAGAZINE OF DOMESTIC ECONOMY-a cheap, useful, and excellently conducted periodical, from the perusal of which we have frequently derived pleasure and profit.

A GLASGOW LADY wishes to know the origin of the terms "Blues," "Blue Stockings," &c., as applied to literary ladies. In Boswell's Johnson the following is given:-" About this time (under the date of 1781) it was much the fashion for several ladies to have evening assemblies, where the fair sex might participate in conversation with literary and ingenious men, animated by a desire to please. These societies were denominated Blue Stocking Clubs; the origin of which title being little known, it may be worth while to relate it. One of the most eminent members of these societies when they first commenced was Mr. Stillingfleet, whose dress was remarkably grave, and in particular it was observed that he wore blue stockings. Such was the excellence of his conversation, that his absence was felt as so great a loss, that it used to be said, 'We can do nothing without the blue stockings;' and thus, by degrees the title was established. Miss Hannah More has admirably described a Blue Stocking

Club in her Bas-Bleu ;' a poem, in which many of the persons who were most conspicuous there are mentioned."

HANS. "Are women naturally weaker than mon? or is it their occupations and habits that make them so ?"

Our correspondent surely does not doubt that the organisation of woman is more delicate than that of man; and, therefore, that the one is naturally weaker than the other. When we meet with a stout amazon, we must not compare her with a small or weak man, whom she perhaps could lift with he finger and thumb, but we must compare her with men of her own class, habits, &c. Country women of the working or labouring class, themselves the children of stout, hardy parents, and who have been inured to occupations out of doors, are frequently more masculine, more hardy, and far better able to endure fatigue, than many a healthy, active citizen; but then, look at the fathers, husbands, and brothers of these women. Our dictum then is-Women are constitutionally weaker than men, and the sedentary nature of their occupations, in civilised society more especially, increases rather than diminishes their physical inferiority.

An EDINBURGH correspondent, in asking for advice, gives the following statement of his case :-"Sent to the grammar-school of my parish at an early age, it was with no good will that I got crammed in a pretty fair smattering of its staple commodity; but not continuing more than eighteen months or so, and being 'drafted' to a commercial academy, I soon forgot the last vestige of 'penna' and ‘amo,' amid the incessant repetitions of a multiplication-table, and endless workings' of the 'rule of three.' On leaving school, though doomed to the very unclassical oecupation of standing behind a counter, I did not altogether forget the names of my old friends in Nepos, Hannibal and Alcibiades, &c., but plucking up a spirit,' applied myself at leisure-hours once more to the first principles of Ruddiman. Having since mastered Ovid, Cæsar, Virgil, and Horace, I can safely affirm that all the pain felt in the learning has been more than compensated by the pleasure experienced in the reading of these worthies. Now, sir, by saying whether you recommend an advance, and possibly catching a 'grip' of some crabbed Greek' by the way, or whether you recommend a halt, and perusal of our own best authors, as I cannot overtake both, you will much oblige 'JUVENIS."

After reading this letter, we were inclined to say to " Juvenis," "GO ON AND PROSPER." But there is a deficiency in his statement, which prevents an opinion being given. He does not say whether his prospects for life are exclusively commercial, or whether he has some intention of attempting to enter one of the "professions." Seeing that he must either give up English literature or Greek, we would, under the idea that his life is to be devoted to commercial pursuits, advise a halt, at least for some time, until he can take a range in the wide field of our noblest and best authors, as well as obtain some general knowledge of science. Nor let our correspondent despise the "unclassical occupation of standing behind a counter;" the counter will never degrade his learning, while his learning may add respect and even dignity to the counter. It is the mark rather of a weak than of a strong mind, to despise the daily occupations of daily life, under the idea that habits, feelings, tastes, &c., are too fine and delicate for such vulgar affairs. But if our correspondent feels a strong impulse to add Greek to his Latin, by all means let him follow the bent of his inclination. The knowledge which we acquire with pleasure is worth a thousand constrained tasks.

"CARLOW.-Sir,-A question proposed in the Literary Letter-Box' of your valuable journal of the 29th ult., signed W.W., strongly reminds me of an anecdote told of Charles II. It is said the king proposed to some 'savans' of his day the following: What is the reason, that if a fish be placed in a vessel of water previously accurately weighed, it will not increase the weight?' The courtiers looked puzzled-some, however, ingeniously attempted to account for the phenomenon. At length, one more cunning than the rest shrewdly observed, Please your majesty, I doubt the fact.'

"Greatly doubting the truth of ' W.W.'s' statement, I immediately tried the experiment, and found that the camphor did not revolve; nor, when the oil was dropped in, did it 'recede to the side of the vessel. "SAMUEL HAUGHTON." We have also tried the experiment, with much the same result. The camphor had a very slight-almost imperceptible-rotary motion, but the drop of oil had no effect.

All Letters intended to be answered in the LITERARY LETTER-BOX are to be addressed to "THE EDITOR of the LONDON SATURDAY JOURNAL," and delivered FREE, at 113, Fleet-street.

The VOLUMES of the LONDON SATURDAY JOURNAL may be had as follows:VOLUME I., containing Nos. 1 to 26, price 5s. 6d. in cloth. VOLUME II., containing Nos. 27 to 52, price 58. 6d. in cloth. VOLUMES I. and II. bound together, containing the Numbers for 1839, price 10s. 6d. in cloth.

BACK NUMBERS and PARTS, to complete Sets, may always be obtained.

London: WILLIAM SMITH, 113, Fleet Street. Edinburgh: FRASER and Co. Dublin: CURRY and Co-Printed and Stereotyped by Bradbury and Evans, Whitefriars.

« ForrigeFortsæt »