Beauties and Wonders
Nature and Art.
Beauties and Wonders
Nature and Art,
in a series of
Author of Leisure Hours.
Printed and sold by Darton and Harvey,
no. 55, Gracechurch-Street 1794M.DCC.XCIV.
The art of exerciſing the faculty of thinking and reflecting upon every object that is ſeen, ought to conſtitute a material branch of a good education; but it requires the ſkill of a maſter’s hand, to lead the minds of youth to the habit of obſervation. Dr. Watts ſays that there are four methods of attaining knowledge. Obſervation, reading, converſation, and meditation. The firſt lies within the compaſs even of children, and from the early dawn of reaſon, they ſhould be accuſtomed to obſerve every thing with attention, that falls under their notice. A judicious inſtructor will find matter for a leſſon among thoſe objects, that are termed common or inſignificant. How little this is generally the caſe, may be collected from the ignorance, not of children only, but ſometimes of youth, who, although they have attained a conſiderable degreegree ii A3v ii gree of claſſical learning, are unacquainted either with the materials, of thoſe things they daily uſe, or the methods of manufacturing them. The form and appearance of ſubſtances are ſo much changed by the effects of art, that it would be impoſſible for a mind, unprepared by inſtruction, to concieve the original material of many things, that are in the moſt common uſe. Would any child ſuppoſe, that the cloth, of which her frock is made, is compoſed of the fibrous parts of a green plant; or that the paper ſhe draws upon, is the ſame ſubſtance wrought into a different form; that the tranſparent glaſs ſhe drinks out of, was once a heap of ſand and aſhes; or that the ribbon ſhe wears, is the produce of an inſect? The deſign of the following little work, is to excite the curioſity of young perſons on theſe ſubjects, by furniſhing information on a few of the moſt obvious. The form of dialogue has been adopted as beſt ſuited to convey inſtruction blended with amuſement; being deſirous that it ſhould be read rather from choice than compulſion, and be ſought by my young readers as an entertainment, not ſhunned as a mere dry preceptive leſſon.
Sophia, aged sixteen.
Cecilia, aged twelve.
Augusta, an occasional visitor, aged twelve.
Charles, aged fifteen.
Henry, aged nine.
Mental Improvement; in a Series of Instructive Conversations.
Sophia and Cecilia.
Sophia. How happy are we, my dear ſiſter, to be bleſſed with ſuch parents, who devote ſo much time to our inſtruction and amuſement; with what tenderneſs do they liſten to our converſation, and improve every ſubject that ariſes to our advantage!B2 Cecilia. 4 B2v 4
Cecilia. I am never ſo happy in any other company; they have the art of rendering inſtruction and ſtudy agreeable. Though I tenderly love my governeſs, I feel ſuch a ſuperior attachment to my mamma, that I am not able to expreſs it; and I am ſure Mrs. Selwyn will not blame me for it, for ſhe always adviſes me to look up to my father and mother as my beſt and kindeſt friends.
Sophia. Mrs. Selwyn, our worthy governeſs is too wiſe and diſcreet to be jealous of our preferring our parents to every body, ſhe would ſooner direct us to regulate our affections properly, and undoubtedly give them the firſt place.
Cecilia. What bitter repentance do I feel, when I have done anything to offend them, particularly when I am inattentive to their inſtruction. How comes it, Sophia, that I am 5 B3r 5 I am ſo often idle, and my thoughts wander from what I am about, when I really intend to be good?
Sophia. You are very young, my dear, and mamma ſays that the habit of attention is difficult to form; but that by ſteadily endeavouring to fix our thoughts on one object we ſhall every day find it more eaſy, and though it may coſt us ſome pains at firſt, let us remember, what we owe to the affectionate care of ſuch a mother, and give our whole attention, when ſhe condeſcends to inſtruct us.
Cecilia. I often pity poor Auguſta; ſhe has no mamma, and her governeſs ſeldom teaches her any thing, but her regular leſſons.
Sophia. I both love and pity her; ſhe is of a good diſposition, but has not received the ſame advantages that we have; her papa is B3 engaged 6 B3v 6 engaged in buſineſs, and leaves her wholly to the care of her governeſs, who takes but little pains with her.
Cecilia. Let us deſire our parents to give us leave to invite her often to be preſent at our evening converſations. Papa has promiſed to give us ſome account of various manufactures; all will be new to her, ſhe will be delighted, and it will be a means of ſupplying her with ſome of the inſtruction ſhe wants.
Sophia. Mamma will be very willing, I dare ſay: ſhe takes pleaſure in doing good, and is never better pleaſed than when ſhe has an opportunity of improving young people.
Cecilia. I long for the evening, when we are all to meet in the ſtudy. I wonder what will be the ſubject he will have prepared for us. My brothers too are to be of the party,ty, 7 B4r 7 ty, and when we have been ſeparated all day, it is ſuch a pleaſure to meet them, that I cannot ſay how delighted I am with the thoughts of it.
Sophia. It is almoſt time to attend our writing maſter, and do not let us forget the terms of admiſſion to theſe ageeable evening converſations; attention to our leſſons in the day, and obedience to the commands of our dear mamma, are the only methods of obtaining a ſeat in the ſtudy at night. Papa will not confine the ſubject of his lectures wholly to manufactures, but intends to explain the nature of the materials of what we wear and uſe, which will frequently lead him to deſcribe objects of natural hiſtory, a ſtudy of which I am particularly fond.
Cecilia. We are alſo ſometimes to ſupply a ſubject, we are to have books given us, that we may be prepared, and are to be queſtionedtioned 8 B4v 8 tioned on the given ſubject. I wiſh I may be able to anſwer properly.
Sophia. Hark! the bell rings for writing; we muſt attend the ſummons.
Mr. Harcourt, Mrs. Harcourt, Auguſta, Sophia, Cecilia, Charles, and Henry.
Mrs. Harcourt. My dear Auguſta, I am glad to ſee you, my girls tell me you deſire to be of our party when we meet of an evening. Your company will be always agreeable to me, and I hope our converſations will be inſtructive to you.
Augusta. I accept the invitation with pleaſure; but I hope to receive entertainment as well as inſtruction; for I ſhall never be able to attend a long dry lecture without2 out 9 B5r 9 out ſome amuſement to render it palateable.
Mr. Harcourt. I have choſen the Whale for our ſubject to night, and the information it affords I expect will be new and wonderful to you all.
Charles. Is not the Whale found in the ſeas towards the north pole?
Mr. Harcourt. Yes, my dear, they chiefly inhabit the ſeas towards the north pole; though many whales are caught in the South Seas towards that pole, but the chief fiſhery has been near the coaſt of Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, and Greenland; where many ſhips from this country go every year, for the ſole purpoſe of catching whales.
Mrs. Harcourt. We may admire the goodneſs of Providence, who leaves not the moſt obſcure corner of the globe, without its peculiar riches. 10 B5v 10 riches. Theſe countries, which ſcarcely ſupply food for their wretched inhabitants, and are covered with ſnow, full nine months in the year: are viſited by people from diſtant parts of the world, who brave every danger, for the ſake of taking the whales, which are found in their ſeas.
Cecilia. I cannot think what uſe they can be of, to tempt people to go ſo far for them.
Mr. Harcourt. You will find that they ſupply ſeveral uſeful articles for our convenience. Your ſtays, for example, would not be ſo well ſhaped without whalebone.
Cecilia. Are the bones that ſtiffen our ſtays really the bones of whales?
Mr. Harcourt. The ſubſtance called whalebone, adheres to the upper jaw, and is formed of thin parallel laminæ, called whiſkers; ſome of 11 B6r 11 of the longeſt are four yards in length; they are ſurrounded by long ſtrong hair to guard the tongue from being hurt, and alſo to prevent the return of their food, when they diſcharge the water out of their mouth.
Henry. Whiſkers four yards long! how fierce the whale muſt look; pray what ſize is he himſelf?
Mr. Harcourt. The common whale is the largeſt of all animals, of whoſe hiſtory we have any certain account; it is ſometimes found ninety feet long, and thoſe which inhabit the torrid zone are ſaid to be much larger. The ſize of the head is about one third of of the whole fiſh, the under lip is much broader than the upper, which is narrow and oblong, the tongue is a ſoft, ſpongy, fat ſubſtance, ſometimes yielding five or ſix barrels of oil, the gullet or ſwallow is very ſmall for ſo large an animal, not exceedinging 12 B6v 12 ing four inches in width; but that is proportioned to the food it eats, which is a particular kind of ſmall ſnail; or, as ſome ſay, it varies its repaſt with the Meduſa, or ſea blubber, an inſect which is found in the ſea.
Sophia. Is not the whale a fiſh of prey then? I thought it would devour men, if they unhappily fell in their way.
Mr. Harcourt. They are quite harmleſs and inoffenſive to every thing but inſects. The only danger to be apprehended from them, is the ſtarting of a plank in a ſhip, or the overturning of a boat, with their huge bulk.
Augusta. Oh terrible! what can induce men to incur ſuch dangers, when they may ſtay quietly at home and enjoy themſelves?
Mrs. Harcourt. There are many ſtrong reasons that prevailvail 13 C1r 13 vail with thouſands to undergo a life of hardſhip, toil, and danger. The neceſſity of earning a living, to which you, who are brought up in the enjoyment of plenty, are ſtrangers, is one ſtrong inducement.
Sophia. But I would chuſe ſome eaſier employment; a gardener has an agreeable life.
Mr. Harcourt. But do you not reflect that all men cannot be gardeners; there is employment for but few in that line. Providence has wiſely endued mankind with as great a variety of inclinations and purſuits, as there is diverſity in their perſons; ſome ſhew a very early inclination for a ſea-life, that no danger can deter, or perſuaſions prevail with them to give up; which appears to be implanted for the purpoſe of providing the means of an intercourſe between the inhabitants of diſtant countries, by which each party may reap advantage by interchanging the ſuperfluous produce of diſtantC ſtant 14 C1v 14 ſtant climes, and exerciſing the mutual good offices of love and kindneſs. But to return to the whale; it has two orifices in the middle of the head, through which it ſpouts water to a great height, and, when it is diſturbed or wounded, with a noiſe like thunder. Its eyes are not larger than thoſe of an ox, and placed at a great diſtance from each other. There is no fin on the back, but on the ſides; under each eye are two large ones, which ſerve it for rowing. The colour varies, the back of ſome being red, others black, and another variety is mottled; the belly is generally white. They are extremely beautiful in the water; the ſkin is very ſmooth and ſlippery. Under the ſkin the whale is covered with fat or blubber, from ſix to twelve inches thick, which ſometimes yields from one to two hundred barrels of oil. All Europe is ſupplied with oil for lamps, and many other purpoſes, from this blubber. The fleſh is red and coarſe, ſomewhat like beef; the 15 C2r 15 the Greenlanders eat it, and the Icelanders ſoak it in ſour whey.
Charles. It muſt be very diſagreeable food. I ſhould think, the oil would make it very greaſy and ſtrong.
Mr. Harcourt. So it does, but the poor people, who live in countries ſo far north, have but little variety of meat to tempt their appetite. In winter, as your mother has already remarked, the ground is covered with ſnow, and affords no vegetation but a little moſs, which is found on the bodies of trees, conſequently the larger animals, ſuch as cattle, &c. cannot ſubſiſt there. The reindeer is peculiar to thoſe parts, and ſupplies his maſter with a ſcanty proviſion during that dreary ſeaſon; but as they are valuable for many other purpoſes, they are unwilling to kill them, but from neceſſity; the fleſh of the whale is therefore reckoned a dainty, which may afford us a leſſon, C2 to 16 C2v 16 to be contented with beef and mutton, and to diſcourage that ſpirit of gluttony and ſenſual indulgence, that prevails too glaringly at the tables of the rich, who are ſeldom ſatisfied with one or two plain diſhes, but cover their tables with a profuſion, that invites a falſe appetite, and waſtes the good things that are provided for our uſe.
Charles. Do whales ever ſtray ſo far from their uſual haunts, as to be found on our coaſts? it would give me great pleaſure to ſee one.
Mr. Harcourt. There have been inſtances of a few, that have been left at low water on ſhore, but they occur but ſeldom; when it happens, they are called royal fiſh, and become the property of the king and queen. Notwithſtanding its vaſt ſize, the whale ſwims ſwiftly, and generally againſt the wind. The female brings but one, or at moſt two young 17 C3r 17 young ones at a time, which are nine or ten feet long; they ſuckle their young, and if purſued, ſhew the ſame maternal ſolicitude for the preſervation of their offſpring, as land animals, by wrapping them up in their fins cloſe to their bodies.
Sophia. Pray, does the whale yield any other produce that is uſeful to man, except oil and whalebone?
Mr. Harcourt. Yes. Spermaceti is prepared from the oil that is found in the head of a whale. It is melted over a gentle fire, and put into moulds, like thoſe wherein ſugar loaves are formed; when cold and drained, it is taken out, and melted over again, till it be well purified and whitened; it is then cut with a knife into flakes, and is uſed as a medicine for various complaints of the lungs; it is alſo uſed for making candles, which are but little inferior to thoſe made of wax.C3 Charles. 18 C3v 18
Charles. I cannot imagine what means can be deviſed to catch and manage an animal of ſuch prodigious ſize.
Mr. Harcourt. No animal is ſo large or powerful, but muſt yield to the ſuperior ſagacity of man. The method of taking whales is truly curious, and I ſhall have pleaſure in entertaining her with a recital of it.
All. Pray begin, we are all attention.
Mr. Harcourt. The fleet uſually ſets ſail about the beginning of April, and ſteers northward, till they reach about the 75th degree of north latitude, where they uſually begin to meet with the ice. It is among theſe huge heaps of ice, that float about in theſe ſeas, that they find the whales, and there moſt of the veſſels fix their abode for the fiſhing. In the Engliſh whale fiſhery, every ſhip has ſix or ſeven boats belonging to it, each of which has 19 C4r 19 has one harpooner, one man to ſteer, one to manage the line, and four ſeamen to row it; each boat is provided with two or three harpoons, ſeveral lances, and ſix lines faſtened together, each one hundred and twenty fathoms long. To each harping iron is faſtened a ſtrong ſtick, about ſix feet long, and a ſoft pliable line of as many fathom, called the fore gauger, which is faſtened to the lines in the boat. The inſtrument with which the whale is ſtruck, is a harping iron, or javelin, pointed with ſteel, in a triangular ſhape, like the barb of an arrow. The harpooner, upon ſight of the fiſh, ſlings the harping iron with all his might againſt his back; and if he be ſo fortunate as to penetrate the ſkin and fat, into the fleſh, he lets go a line faſtened to the harping iron, at the end of which is a gourd, which ſwimming on the water, diſcovers where the whale is: for, the minute he is wounded, he plunges to the bottom, commonly ſwim- 20 C4v 20 ſwimming againſt the wind; and this is the moment of danger, leſt he ſhould outrun the length of the line, and pull the boat after him into the deep; to guard againſt this inconvenience, a man is fixed by the line with a ſharp knife, ready to cut it in a moment, in caſe of neceſſity. If the whale return for air to breathe, the harpooner takes the opportunity to give him a freſh wound, till fainting by loſs of blood, from repeated wounds, the men ſeize that moment for approaching him, and thruſting a long ſteeled lance under his gills, into his breaſt, and through the the inteſtines, ſoon diſpatch him. When the carcaſe begins to float, they cut holes in the fins and tail, and tying a rope in them, tow him to the veſſel, where he is faſtened to the larboard ſide of the ſhip, floating upon his back, almoſt level with the ſea.
Charles. What wonderful ſkill and dexterity are 21 C5r 21 are requiſite in a Greenland ſailor! I ſhould like to make one voyage with them.
Mrs. Harcourt. Your curioſity and ardour are excited by the account your father has given us of their expeditions, but you are not aware of the hardſhips they undergo from the ſeverity of theſe northern climates.
Augusta. I have been accuſtomed to look with contempt on ſuch people, as greatly my inferiors; but for the future, I will try to reſpect every body whoſe employments are uſeful.
Mr. Harcourt. You will do right; for a Greenland whale catcher is a much more valuable member of ſociety, than an idle man of fortune, who lives on the labours of others. In order to take the blubber or fat, from which they procure the oil, and the fins, as they are called, or whalebone, ſeveral men get 22 C5v 22 get upon the fiſh, equipped with a kind of iron calkers or ſpurs, to prevent their ſlipping, and cut off the tail, which is hoiſted on deck, and then cut ſquare pieces of blubber, weighing two or three thouſand pounds, which are hoiſted on board with the capſtan, where each piece is again divided into ſmaller pieces, of two or three hundred pounds weight, then theſe are thrown into the hold, and left for a few days to drain. When all the blubber is cut from off the belly of the fiſh, it is turned on one ſide, by means of a piece of blubber, left in the middle, called the cant or turning piece; thus they cut out the ſides in large pieces, which they call hockies. The next operation is to cut out the two large jaw bones, ſituated in the under lip, which, when hoiſted on deck, are cleanſed, and faſtened to the ſhrouds, with tubs placed under them to catch the oil which they diſcharge. The carcaſe is left to float, and ſupplies food for Greenlandland 23 C6r 23 land birds, called mallemucks, &c. After the pieces of blubber have lain a few days in the hold, they hoiſt them on deck, cut them into ſmall pieces, and put them through the bung holes into their caſks; one of the largeſt fiſh will fill more than ſeventy butts. The produce of a good large whale is valued at about one thouſand pounds. When thus richly laden, they begin to ſail homewards with their ſpoil: when they return, the fat is to be boiled, and melted down into trainoil. The whale fiſhery begins in May, and continues through the months of June and July. Whether the ſhips are ſucceſsful or not, they muſt come away, and get clear of the ice before the end of Auguſt.
Sophia. I thank you, my dear papa, for this very entertaining account. I ſhall never ſee a piece of whalebone, but I ſhall think of the 24 C6v 42 the labours and difficulties of the poor Greenland ſailors.
Charles. I admire the courage and ingenuity of thoſe who firſt attempted to catch whales.
Mr. Harcourt. Probably accident diſcovered the uſe that might be made of them, and induced ſome needy bold adventurer to make the attempt; but many muſt have been the hazards and diſappointments before the art was reduced to a ſyſtem as it is now. Rude and imperfect is the beginning of all knowledge. Perſeverance and experience have contributed more than genuisgenius, to the diſcovery of things uſeful, to accommodate the life of man.
Mrs. Harcourt. Much is due to the man who firſt ventured his life to procure ſo uſeful a commodity as train oil, without which, many muſt paſs a long dreary winter’s night, without even the chearing rays of a lamp.Henry. 25 D1r 25
Henry. But, mamma, they can buy candles.
Mrs. Harcourt. Candles, indeed, are very uſeful; but oil is cheaper, and there would not be a ſufficient quantity of tallow to light our ſtreets of a night. All the cities in Europe are lighted with oil, which is a great accommodation to their reſpective inhabitants.
Cecilia. Are there no other fiſheries you can give us an account of, papa?
Mr. Harcourt. Yes, my dear, the cod, herring, and ſalmon fiſheries are very uſeful and extenſive, and employ a great number of hands; but our converſation has held long enough for one time, we will reſerve them for the ſubject of another evening.
Mrs. Harcourt. It is almoſt ſupper time, and little Henry ſeems ready for bed.D Henry. 26 D1v 26
Henry. Indeed, mamma, I am not very ſleepy, and could ſit a great while longer to hear papa tell us more about theſe huge whales, and mountains of ice.
Mr. Harcourt. I will oblige you another time. It is too late now. Adieu, my dear childen.
Mr. and Mrs. Harcourt, Auguſta, Sophia, Cecilia, Charles, and Henry.
Cecilia. We have all waited with the greateſt impatience for the hour of meeting. If the cod and herring fiſheries afford us as much entertainment, as the catching of whales, we ſhall not ſoon be tired.
Mrs. Harcourt. I am glad to hear you were pleaſed with laſt 27 D2r 27 laſt night’s converſation; it is a proof that your minds are capable of reliſhing rational amuſement. An early habit of trifling is difficult to be ſubdued, and ſhould be carefully avoided: thouſands are rendered unhappy by it; for having never been accuſtomed to exerciſe their faculties, as they grow up, they find every thing fatiguing that requires reflection, and as the mind cannot reſt wholly inactive, they fly from one trifling, uſeless purſuit to another; always tired of themſelves, and rendering no benefit to others; but a well regulated mind is marked by the judicious diſpoſal of time, converting even amuſement into inſtruction. Nature and art preſent ſo many objects, calculated to amuſe and intereſt, that none but the idle need want a ſucceſſion of emyloymentemployment.
Augusta. Pray, have the kindneſs to inſtruct me how to fill up my time. I am often ſo much at a loſs what to do with myſelf, D2 that 28 D2v 28 that I wiſh for night, to put an end to the long day. As ſoon as my leſſons are over, and nothing can be more tireſome than they are, I am without employment, and wander about without knowing what to do with myſelf. My governeſs ſays, that I muſt not be troubleſome to her, after I have finiſhed my taſks; ſo I have no body to converſe with, nor any thing to amuſe me, but playing about, till I am tired.
Mrs. Harcourt. Come to us every evening; I hope our converſations will furniſh you with many ſources of entertainment for your leiſure hours. I am willing to point out whatever may occur worthy your further attention, and by ſtrictly adhering to a few ſimple rules, you will find the day become as ſhort as you wiſh it.
Augusta. Pray give me theſe rules. I ſhall willingly adopt them.Mrs. 29 D3r 29
Mrs. Harcourt. Perhaps it will not be ſo eaſy at firſt, as you imagine; ill habits are difficult to ſurmount; but by degrees it will become familiar, and in time agreeable. In the firſt place, never be unemployed; read, draw, work, walk, and accuſtom yourſelf to obſerve every thing you ſee with attention; conſider how they are made, what the materials are, and where they come from. If you are unable to diſcover the anſwers, keep a little book, and make a memorandum of what you want to know, and we will endeavour to give you information. This alone will fill many an hour, that now paſſes tediouſly away.
Augusta. I thank you for theſe directions, and will begin to-morrow; but I have hindered Mr. Harcourt from beginning his account of the cod.
Mr. Harcourt. The cod is a fiſh of paſſage, and is found D3 from 30 D3v 30 from eighteen inches to three or four feet long, with a great head, and teeth in the bottom of the throat, its fleſh white, its ſkin browniſh on the back, and covered with a few tranſparent ſcales. It eats excellent, when freſh; and if well prepared and ſalted, will keep a long time. Saltfiſh or ſtock fiſh, commonly eaten in Lent, is cod thus prepared. There are two kinds of ſalt cod, the one called green or white, the other dried or cured. The moſt eſſential thing in the green cod-fiſhery, is the ſkill of the perſons employed to open the fiſh, to cut off the heads, and to ſalt them, upon which laſt, the ſucceſs of the voyage chiefly depends. The principal fiſhery for cod is on the banks of Newfoundland, in North America; and the beſt ſeaſon, from the beggningbeginning of February to the end of April, when the cod, which during the winter, had retired to the deepeſt part of the ſea, return to the bank, and grow very fat. Each fiſher takes but one cod at a time, yet the more 31 D4r 31 more experienced will catch from three hundred and fifty, to four hundred every day. This is a very fatiguing employment, both on account of the weight of the fiſh, and the extreme cold which reigns on the bank. They ſalt the cod on board. The head being cut off, the belly opened, and the guts taken out, the ſalter ranges them in the bottom of the veſſel, head to to tail, and having thus made a layer of them, a fathom or two ſquare, he covers them with ſalt, over this he places another layer of fiſh, which he covers as before, and thus he diſpoſes all the fiſh of that day, taking care never to mix the fiſh of different days together. By the time they have lain three or four days thus to drain, they are removed into another part of the veſſel, and ſalted again; then they are left untouched till the ſhip has got its load, unleſs they put them in barrels for the conveniency of room.Sophia. 32 D4v 32
Sophia. The curing and taking of cod muſt be leſs diſagreeable and dangerous than whalecatching. I had no idea that the catching of fiſh alone employed ſo many men.
Mrs. Harcourt. We are apt to uſe and conſume the neceſſaries and conveniences of life, without reflecting on the pains and labour neceſſary to obtain them. The ſmalleſt domeſtic accommodation is frequently not to be had, without the aſſiſtance of ſeveral hands; a pin or needle, for inſtance, employs a great number of workmen, before they are brought to the degree of perfection, in which we receive them. And the ſupply of a common table, if we conſider the reſources from which it is drawn, moſt probably employs the time and labour of thouſands; but we interrupt your father from proceeding, this ſubject may be reſumed another time.Mrs. 33 D5r 33
Mr. Harcourt. In the fiſhing for dry cod, veſſels of various ſizes are uſed, though ſuch are generally choſen as have large holds, becauſe this kind of fiſh incumbers more than it burthens. As cod can only be dried by the ſun, the European veſſels are obliged to put out in March or April, in order to have the benefit of the ſummer for drying. Indeed the Engliſh ſend veſſels for cod later, but they only purchaſe of the inhabitants what had been caught and prepared before hand. In exchange for which, we carry them meal, brandies, biſcuits, pulſe, molaſſes, linen, &c. The fiſh choſen for this purpoſe, though the ſame ſpecies as the green cod, is yet much ſmaller. As ſoon as the captains arrive, they unrig all the veſſels, leaving nothing but the ſhrouds to ſuſtain the maſts; and, in the mean while, the mates provide a tent on ſhore, covered with branches of fir, and ſails over them, with a ſcaffold, fifty or ſixty feet long, and about 34 D5v 34 about one third as broad. While the ſcaffold is making ready, the crew are fiſhing, and as faſt as they catch, they bring their fiſh, open them, and ſalt them on moveable benches; but the main ſalting is performed on the ſcaffold, called flake. When the fiſh have taken ſalt, they waſh them, and lay them on piles, on the galleries of the ſcaffold, to drain again, then ſufficiently drained, they are ranged on hurdles, a fiſh thick, head againſt tail, with the back uppermoſt; obſerving, while they lie thus, to turn and ſhift them four times every twenty-four hours. When they begin to dry, they lay them in heaps of ten or twelve a piece, to retain their warmth, and continue to enlarge the heap every day, till it becomes double its firſt bulk. At length they join two of theſe heaps into one, which they turn every day as before; laſtly ſalt them over again, beginning with thoſe that had been ſalted firſt, and in this ſtate lay them in huge piles, as big as hayricks;ricks; 35 D6r 35 ricks; and thus they remain, till they are carried on ſhip-board, where they are laid on branches of trees, diſposed for that purpoſe, in the bottom of the veſſel, with mats around them, to prevent their contracting any moiſture. There are four kinds of commodities drawn from cod: the zounds, which is a jelly like ſubſtance, that covers the inſide of the main bone, and the tongues are ſalted at the ſame time with the fiſh, and barrelled up for eating. The roes or eggs being ſalted and barrelled, are uſeful to caſt into the ſea, to draw fiſh together, particularly pilchards; and laſtly the oil, which is uſed in dreſſing of leather; and thus, by the art and ingenuity of man, every part of this fiſh, that can be ſerviceable is put to uſe; and by his ſkill in curing and drying it, a large ſupply of wholeſome proviſion is preſerved, which muſt otherwiſe be loſt. Nor is this care beſtowed on the cod alone; the herring ſupplies food to vaſt numbers of families, eſpeciallypecially 36 D6v 36 pecially the poorer ſort, to whom they are a great relef, when other proviſions are dear; but perhaps you are all tired of this ſubject, and wiſh to hear no more concerning the catching of fiſh; if that be not the caſe, the herring, though a ſmall fiſh, will furniſh us with wonders almoſt as extraordinary as the whale.
Henry. I am the youngeſt of the company, and I am not at all tired.
Charles. You ſurpriſe me by talking of wonders concerning the herring; I have ſeen many of them, but never obſerved any thing in them to excite my attention, beyond fiſh in common.
Mr. Harcourt. It is not any thing remarkable in the conſtruction of the individual fiſh, to which I allude, but to the prodigious numbers in which they aſſemble, at certain ſeaſons of the year. About the beginning of June, a ſhoal 37 E1r 37 a ſhoal of herrings, in bulk not leſs than the whole extent of Great Britain and Ireland comes from the north, on the ſurface of the ſea; their approach is known to the inhabitants of Shetland (an iſland to the north of Scotland) by ſeveral tokens in the air and water, as by the birds, ſuch as gannets, &c. which follow, in order to prey upon them; and by the ſmoothneſs of the water. It is not certainly known whence they come, though it is probable, that their winter rendezvous is within the arctic circle, where the ſeas ſwarm with inſect food in greater abundance than in our warmer latitudes. They caſt their ſpawn when they arrive in theſe ſeas, for they come to us full, and are ſhotten long before they leave us. The great ſhoal divides into columns of five or ſix miles in length, and three or four in breadth, reflecting, in bright weather, as they paſs, many ſplendid colours.E Sophia. 38 E1v 38
Sophia. Well might you ſay, you had wonderful things to relate; I had formed no idea of ſhoals of fiſh, of ſuch prodigious extent. The aſtoniſhing particulars we have already heard, make me ſuppoſe that the ſea, and its produce, would furniſh us with an inexhauſtible fund of entertainment.
Mr. Harcourt. The ſubject is too extenſive for our limits; the wonders of the deep have not yet been fully explored; but the moſt obvious particulars, that are not aſcertained, I ſhall with pleaſure relate, as they illuſtrate and confirm our notions of the wiſdom and goodneſs of that divine Being, who careth for all the works of his creation, and has provided for the reſpective wants of each.
Cecilia. Pray papa, what kind of fiſh is the herring? I am not at all acquiantedacquainted with it.Mr. 39 E2r 39
Mr. Harcourt. The herring is a ſmall ſalt-water fiſh, with a bluiſh back, and a white ſilvered belly. It is commonly ſaid that nobody ever ſaw a herring alive, they die ſo immediately on being taken out of the water; but there have been inſtances to the contrary. By what I have already told you, you will perceive that the herring is a fiſh of paſſage; they go chiefly in ſhoals, and are fond of following any fire or light; indeed, as they paſs, they reſemble a kind of lightning themſelves, their colours glancing againſt the ſun. The method of pickling and curing herrings is ſimple; there are two ways of doing it, the one makes white or pickled herring, the other what is called red herring. The white or pickled herring is prepared by cutting open and gutting the fiſh, as ſoon as it is taken out of the water, but the melts and roes are always left in; they are then waſhed in freſh water, and left for twelve or fifteen E2 hours 40 E2v 40 hours in a tub full of ſtrong brine, made of freſh water and ſea ſalt. They are then taken out and drained, and when well drained, put up in barrels, diſposed evenly in rows or layers, preſſed well down, and a layer of ſalt ſtrewed over them at top and bottom. After waſhing, gutting, and ſalting the fiſh, as above, when they intend to make them red herrings, they ſtring them by the head, on little wooden ſpits, and hang them in a kind of chimney, made for the purpoſe, and when the chimney is filled, which generally requires ten or twelve thouſand fiſh, they make a fire underneath of bruſh-wood, which yields much ſmoke, but no flame, which moſtly dries them ſufficiently in twenty-four hours; they are then barrelled for keeping. Theſe are the moſt important fiſheries, and employ by far the greateſt number of people, though there are many poor men who live on the ſea coaſts, whoſe ſcanty ſubſiſtence depends on the dangerous and precarious employ- 41 E3r 41 employment of fiſhing; a little boat is their chief treaſure, in which they venture out in rough and boiſterous weather, when the preſſing wants of their family urge them to the undertaking.
Mrs. Harcourt. Their danger and hardſhips are increaſed, by being obliged to ſtruggle with rough weather, and the ſtorms of winter, that being the principal ſeaſon for fiſhing.
Cecilia. The ſufferings of the poor are very great on ſhore, in cold weather; their miſerable huts and tattered cloaths, ſcarcely defending them from the ſharpneſs of the air, not to mention their ſcarcity of fuel. I wonder how they ſupport ſuch hardſhips.
Mrs. Harcourt. Aged perſons and infants ſometimes ſink under theſe difficulties, but thoſe in middle life, who are able to uſe exerciſe, ſupport them with leſs injury. Let theſe reflectionsE3 flections 42 E3v 42 flections inſtruct us to feel for the wants of others, and endeavour to relieve them, by retrenching our ſuperfluous indulgencies; when ſhould inſpire us at the ſame time with gratitude to the Giver of all good, for the numerous bleſſings he has allotted us, above many other of our fellow creatures, with thankful acknowledgment. Let us cloſe the day, and each one retire to repoſe.
Charles. I have found the ſubject of fiſheries ſo new and entertaining, that far from being tired of them, my curioſity is raiſed to hear more of them. When you returned from Ireland, I think you mentioned having viſited the ſalmon fiſheries; be ſo 43 E4r 43 ſo kind as to give us the particulars you remember of them.
Mr. Harcourt. The ſalmon is a very curious fiſh, its inſtincts and habits are well worth our attention. The principal ſalmon leaps (as they are called) in Ireland, are at Coleraine, and at Ballyſhannon, which is a ſmall town ſituated near the ſea, with a bridge of fourteen arches over a river which, at a ſmall diſtance, falls down a ridge of rocks about twelve feet, and at low water forms a very pictureſque caſcade.
Henry. Do the ſalmon abound in that river? it muſt be very pretty to ſee them tumble down the waterfall.
Mr. Harcourt. Almoſt all the rivers, lakes, and brooks in this iſland afford great plenty of theſe fiſh; ſome during the whole year, and ſome only during certain ſeaſons; they generally go down to the ſea about Auguſt and Sep- 44 E4v 44 September, and come up again in the ſpring months; and, what is very remarkable, the ſame fiſh always come back to the ſame river, ſo that the owners of the fiſhery are not afraid of loſing their fiſh.
Sophia. Fiſh appear ſo ſtupid, and void of intelligence, that extraordinary inſtincts in them ſtrike one with more wonder than in other animals.
Mr. Harcourt. The great Creator has impreſſed certain propenſities ſo ſtrongly on different animals, that they are irreſiſtible; and this powerful inclination ſtands them in ſtead of reaſon, which is given to man, as a being of a ſuperior order, to guide his judgement and direct his conduct through the various ſcenes of life.
Charles. What inducement can theſe fiſh have for thus changing the place of their habitation ,?Mr. 45 E5r 45
Mr. Harcourt. Freſh water ſeems to be more ſuitable, than the ſea, for depoſiting their eggs and and rearing their young. It is ſaid that the females work beds in the ſandy ſhallows of rivers, and there lay their eggs, which the male impregnates; afterwards they both are employed in covering the eggs with ſand, each partaking in the labour neceſſary for bringing the eggs to perfection; theſe in time become vivified, and take their courſe to the ſea, being then about four inches long. After a ſtay of ſix weeks, or two months, they return up the ſame rivers; the ſalt water having cauſed them to attain nearly to half their full growth, in that ſhort ſpace of time.
Mrs. Harcourt. Salmon, and perhaps many other kinds of fiſh, ſeem abſolved, by the laws of nature, from the ſedulous attention in rearing their young, that is requiſite in birds, and terreſtrial animals; their chief care is to 46 E5v 46 to provide for the preſervation of the eggs, by depoſiting them in a ſuitable place, and after they have performed that office, they appear to have no farther thought about them. Strangers to the pleaſing ſolicitude of parental fondneſs, they may with propriety be ranked in an inferior ſcale of exiſtence to the beautiful feathered race, whoſe tenderneſs and patient care may ſerve as models to careleſs mothers, who neglect their offspring, from indolence, or a love of other purſuits.
Mr. Harcourt. When I was at Ballyſhannon, I paſſed ſeveral hours in watching the fiſh leap up the caſcade, and it is hardly credible, but to thoſe who have been eye witneſſes, that they ſhould be able to dart themſelves near fourteen feet perpendicularly out of the water; and, allowing for the curvature, they leap at leaſt twenty. They do not always ſucceed at the firſt leap; ſometimes they bound almoſt to the ſummit, but the falling 47 E6r 47 falling water daſhes them down again; at other times, they dart head-foremoſt, or ſide-long upon a rock, remain ſtunned for a few moments, and then ſtruggle into the water again; when they are ſo ſucceſsful as to reach the top, they ſwim out of ſight in a moment. They do not bound from the ſurface of the water, and it cannot be known from what depth they take their leap; it is probably performed by a forcible ſpring with their tails bent; for the chief ſtrenghth of moſt fiſh lies in the tail. They have often been ſhot, or caught with ſtrong barbed hooks fixed to a pole, during their flight, as it may be termed; and inſtances have been known of women catching them in their aprons. At high water, the fall is hardly three feet, and then the fiſh ſwim up that eaſy acclivity without leaping. Sometimes I have ſeen at low water fifty or ſixty of theſe leaps in an hour, and at other times only two or three. I placed myſelf on a rock on the brink of the 48 E6v 48 the caſcade, ſo that I had the pleaſure of ſeeing the ſupriſing efforts of theſe beautiful fiſh cloſe to me; and at the bottom of the fall, porpoiſes and ſeals tumbling and playing among the waves; and ſometimes a ſeal carries off a ſalmon under his fins.
Augusta. I knew a boy of nine years old, who lived in Scotland, where the rivers are remarkably clear; he ſaw a ſalmon ſporting in the water at the bottom of his father’s garden, and jumped in. The fiſh was large and ſtrong, and ſtruggled to eſcape from his hold; but after a pretty ſmart conteſt the boy came of victorious, and brought his antagoniſt ſafe to land.
Henry. That muſt have been fine ſport, I ſhould like to have been of the party.
Charles. This account is very entertaining; but I want to know their method of taking theſe fiſh.Mr. 49 F1r 49
Mr. Harcourt. They are caught in weirs, which are formed by damming up the river, except a ſpace of three or four feet in the middle, which the ſalmon having paſſed, are caught in a ſmall encloſure, formed by ſtakes of wood; the entrance is wide, and gradually leſſens, ſo as barely to admit a ſingle ſalmon at a time. Every morning, during the fiſhery, they are taken out, by means of a ſtaff, with a ſtrong barbed iron hook, which is ſtruck into them. But at Ballyſhannon, by far the greater number is caught in nets below the fall; they ſometimes catch near one hunfred at a throw. The time of the fiſhery is limited; and after it is elapſed, the encloſure is removed, the nets are laid aſide, and the fiſh are at liberty to flock the rivers with ſpawn. The chief ſalmon fiſheries, beſides thoſe in Ireland, are at Berwick on the Tweed, and along the coaſts of Scotland. Vaſt quantities are ſalted or pickled, and put up in F cags 50 F1v 50 cags, and ſent to different parts of the kingdom.
Mrs. Harcourt. There are alſo great quantities of ſalmon brought freſh to the London markets, by being packed in ice; which, by excluding the air, is found a preſervative to many other things. The inhabitants of the northern parts of Europe, the Ruſſians eſpecially, preſerve their fowls and other proviſions, during their hard winters, when meat is difficult to be procured, in ſnow and ice.
Mr. Harcourt. It would be tedious and unneceſſary to particulariſe the various kinds of fiſheries that are in different parts of the world. Oyſters, lobſters, pilchards, anchovies, and ſturgeon, are all caught in great quantities; the three latter pickled or ſalted down for uſe. Cavear or kavia, a ſauce much prized by the Italians, is made of the roe or eggs of the ſturgeon. All theſe form extenſive branches of commerce, and ſupply 51 F2r 51 ſupply vaſt numbers of people with food, who reſide at a great diſtance from the places at which they are caught; at the ſame time, that they are a means of maintaining thouſands of families, by furniſhing uſeful and profitable occupation to them; not muſt we omit to mention the great variety and vaſt numbers of freſh fiſh, that are eaten without being ſalted, which daily ſupply our markets, and provide us with an agreeable change of diet. The produce of the ocean is inexhauſtible; nor is it confined to fiſh alone; the bottom is covered with vegetation in many parts.
Augusta. How is it poſſible to know that?
Mr. Harcourt. The ſea throws up a great variety of ſea weeds. Divers alſo relate that this is the caſe.
Charles. Can men dive to the bottom of the ſea?F2 Mr. 52 F2v 52
Mr. Harcourt. There are people who are very expert in diving; but a full account of this curious art is better deferred to another evening, as we have not time to enter into a complete deſcription of the methods of performing it.
Sophia. I have heard that the Giant’s Cauſeway in Ireland is a great natural curioſity; had you an opportunity of ſeeing it, when you were in that country?
Mr. Harcourt. It was an object that I paid particular attention to. It is ſituated at the northern extremity of the iſland. It conſiſts of about thirty thouſand natural pillars, moſtly in a perpendicular ſituation. At low water the cauſeway is about ſix hundred feet long, and probably runs far into the ſea, as ſomething ſimilar is obſerved on the oppoſite coaſt of Scotland. It is not known whether the pillars are continued under ground, 53 F3r 53 ground, like a quarry. They are of different dimenſions, being from fifteen to twenty-ſix inches in diameter, and from fifteen to thirty-ſix feet in height: their figure is generally pentagonal or hexagonal. Several have been found with ſeven, and a few with three, four, and eight ſides, of of irregular ſizes; every pillar conſiſts as it were of joints or pieces which are not united by flat ſurfaces; for on being forced off, one of them is concave in the middle, and the other convex, many of theſe joints lie looſe upon the ſtrand. The ſtone is a kind of baſaltes, of a cloſe grit, and of a duſky hue; it is very heavy, each joint generally weighing two hundred and a half. It clinks like iron, melts in a forge, breaks ſharp, and, by reaſon of its extreme hardneſs, blunts the edges of tools, and by that means is rendered incapable of being uſed in building. The pillars ſtand very cloſe to each other, and though the number of their ſides differ, yet their contextures are F3 ſo 54 F3v 54 ſo nicely adapted, as to leave no vacuity between them, and every pillar retains its own thickneſs, angles, and ſides, from top to bottom. Theſe kinds of columns are continued, with interruptions, for near two miles along the ſhore. By its magnitude and unuſual appearance, it forms altogether an object of great rarity, and is moſtly viſited by all ſtrangers, who have any curioſity.
Mrs. Harcourt. This is a wonderful account. It ſeems to be one of thoſe productions of nature that may be termed an unique. I know of nothing ſimilar to it. I met with a paſſage, last night, in Collinſon’s Hiſtory of Somerſet, though not immediately referring to the ſubject before us, that I cannot reſiſt the pleaſure of repeating. It is concerning a peculiar property of the limpet (a ſpecies of ſhell-fiſh), that is found at Minehead in that country; that contains a liquor curious for marking linen. When the 55 F4r 55 the ſhell is picked off, there will appear a white vein lying tranſverſely in a little furrow next the head of the fiſh, which may be taken out by a bodkin, or any other pointed inſtrument. The letters or figures made with this liquor will preſently appear of a light green colour, and if placed in the ſun, will change into the following colours; if in winter, about noon, if in ſummer, an hour or two after ſun-riſing, and ſo much before ſetting; for in the heat of the day in ſummer, it will come on ſo faſt, that the ſucceſſion of each colour will ſcarcely be diſtinguiſhed. Next to the firſt light green, it will appear of a deep green, and in a few minutes change to a full ſea green; after which, in a few minutes more, it will alter to a blue, then to a purpliſh red: after which, lying an hour to two, (if the ſun ſhines) it will be of a deep purple red beyond which the ſun does no more. But this laſt beautiful colour, after waſhing in ſcalding water and ſoap, 56 F4v 56 ſoap, will, on being laid out to dry, be a fair bright crimſon, which will abide all future waſhing. This ſpecies of limpets are, ſome red, others white, black, yellow, brown, and ſand colour, and ſome are ſtriped with white and brown parallel lines.
Sophia. I ſhould like to have a ſpecimen of this marking liquor. It muſt be the moſt elegant of all methods of imprinting letters, &c. on linen.
Mrs. Harcourt. I believe I have treſpaſſed upon your father’s time by this account, but I was much pleaſed with it. Cecilia, cloſe this converſation, by reciting Mr. Keate’s Addreſs to the Ocean.
Address to the Ocean.
Cecilia. Hail! thou inexhauſtible ſource of wonder and contemplation! Hail! thou multitudinoustitudinous 57 F5r 57 titudinous ocean! whoſe waves chaſe one another down like the generations of men, and after a momentary ſpace are immerged for ever in oblivion! Thy fluctuating waters waſh the various ſhores of the world, and while they disjoin nations, whom a nearer connection would involve in eternal war, they circulate their arts, and their labours, and give health and plenty to mankind. How glorious! how aweful are the ſcenes thou diſplayeſt! whether we view thee when every wind is huſhed; when the morning ſun ſilvers the level line of the horizon; or when the evening track is marked with flaming gold, and thy unrippled boſom reflects the radiance of the over-arching heavens! Or whether we behold thee in thy terrors! when the black tempeſt ſweeps thy ſwelling billows, and the boiling ſurge mixes with the clouds! when death rides the ſtorm, and humanity drops a fruitleſs tear for the toiling mariner, whoſe heart is ſinking with diſmay! And 58 F5v 58 And yet, mighty Deep! ’tis thy ſurface alone we view. Who can penetrate the ſecrets of thy wide domain! What eye can viſit thy immenſe rocks and caverns, that teem with life and vegetation? or ſearch out the myriads of objects, whoſe beauties lie ſcattered over thy dread abyſs? The mind ſtaggers with the immenſity of her own conceptions; and when ſhe contemplates the flux and reflux of thy tides, which, from the beginning of the world, were never known to err, how does ſhe ſhrink at the idea of that Divine Power, which originally laid thy foundations ſo ſure, and whoſe omnipotent voice hath fixed the limits, where thy proud waves ſhall be ſtayed!
Henry. I have been thinking, dear papa, that if there were as many whales as herrings, the ſea would be hardly large enough to hold them.
Mr. Harcourt. Providence has wiſely limited the fruitfulneſs of the larger animals, both on land and in the ſea, to a ſmall number: whales, lions, and eagles ſeldom bring forth more than two at a time. We may alſo obſerve with thankfulneſs, that the increaſe of noxious animals are generally reſtricted by the ſame wiſe law of nature; whilſt thoſe creatures, which are uſeful to man, multiply very faſt. Did the birds and beaſts of prey, and huge ſerpents, increaſe as faſt as domeſtic animals, this globe would be no longer habitable; we ſhould be forceded 60 F6v 60 ed to reſign our places to them, and they would become lords of the creation.
Mrs. Harcourt. Your obſervation ought to excite in us a lively gratitude for the wiſe arrangement and proportion of creatures in the univerſe; a ſtriking proof of the wiſdom and goodneſs that governs all things. I have been frequently aſtoniſhed at the accounts I have read of the increaſe of fiſh. There have been found in one codfiſh, 3,686,760 eggs; now, ſuppoſing only half, or even a quarter of theſe eggs to come to perfection, the increaſe is prodigious. Other kinds of fiſh multiply alſo in a ſurpriſing degree, yet there is no reaſon to think, that any one kind increaſes beyond its due proportion with the reſt. According to what we remark among the animals, that we have an opportunity of obſerving, each has its enemy; and it is reaſonable to ſuppoſe that the ſame law prevails in the ſea; and that each kind has a power- 61 G1r 61 a powerful adverſary, that diminiſhes its numbers, and keeps them within due limits.
Sophia. Who could have the patience and perſeverance to count ſuch a vaſt number of ſmall eggs?
Mrs. Harcourt. Many naturaliſts have taken great pains to inveſtigate this curious ſubject, but Mr. Harmer has purſued it with more ſucceſs than any of them, by an ingenious method of firſt weighing the whole ſpawn very exactly, he then ſeparated a certain number of grains, and carefully counted the number of eggs they contained, by which number he multiplied the remaining grains; thus, by the advantage of method and regularity, he obtained the knowledge of a curious fact in nature eaſily, in compariſon of the trouble he muſt have taken, to have aſcertained it by the tedious method of counting the whole.G Cecilia. 62 G1v 62
Cecilia. Now I am convinced of what you have often told me, that nothing can be well done without order and method. I will endeavour to be more attentive to this point, and do every thing with greater regularity for the future.
Mrs. Harcourt. Order is, indeed, the beſt guide in every kind of buſineſs, and diſtinguiſhes a well taught mind, from one that is uninſtructed. It ſhould extend to all our concerns: the diſpoſal of our time and money, the proportion of amuſement and buſineſs ſhould be regulated by ſome rule, and not left to the direction of mere chance, as is too often the caſe with many thoughtleſs people.
Charles. What a prodigious quantity of ſalt muſt be conſumed in the curing of ſuch multitudes of fiſh! I am aſhamed to confeſs that I am 63 G2r 63 I am ignorant whether ſalt be a natural or an artificial ſubſtance.
Mr. Harcourt. I will give you ſome account of the manner of its production: you could hardly have choſen a more entertaining ſubject for our evening’s converſation. Common ſalt, uſed for ſeaſoning and preſerving meat, fiſh, &c. is one of the moſt uſeful neceſſaries of life; and is of three kinds, viz. foſſile or rock ſalt; ſea or marine ſalt; and ſpring ſalt. Foſſile or rock ſalt is found in large beds, or ſtrata, within the bowels of the earth, ſometimes cryſtallized, but more frequently in irregular maſſes of red, yellow, or blue colour.
Henry. Coloured ſalt! I never have ſeen any of that kind, why do we not uſe it?
Mr. Harcourt. All ſalt becomes white by grinding. There are mines of rock-ſalt in various parts of the world; they are found in Poland, Hungary, Germany, Italy, Spain, and England; as well G2 as 64 G2v 64 as in ſome other countries in Europe. I ſhall confine myſelf to deſcribe the manner of procuring this kind of ſalt, before I ſay any thing of the other ſorts. The account of the Polish mines, in the village of Wilizka, five leagues from Cracow, the capital of Poland, which were diſcovered in the year 12511251, will furniſh us with an idea of them, that will ſerve for a deſcription of ſalt mines in general. Their depth and capacity are ſurpriſing. Within them exiſts a kind of ſubterraneous republic, or commonwealth, which has its policy, laws, families, &c. nay, even public roads, for horſes and carriages are kept here, for the purpoſe of drawing the ſalt to the mouth of the quarry, where it is taken up by engines. Theſe horſes, when they are once down, never ſee the light again; but the men take frequent occaſions of breathing the freſh air. What aſtoniſhment muſt a traveller feel, on arriving at the bottom of this wonderful abyſs, where ſo many peopleple 65 G3r 65 ple are interred alive, and numbers of them are even born there, that have never ſeen day-light. The firſt thing that ſtrikes him with ſurprize, is a long ſeries of vaults, ſuſtained by huge pilaſters cut with the chiſſel out of the rock ſalt, reſembling ſo many cryſtals, or precious ſtones of various colours, reflecting a luſtre from the light of the flambeaux, which are continually burning, that dazzles the eye with its ſplendour; nor can he be leſs ſurprised at obſerving a clear rivulet of freſh water running through the midſt of theſe mountains of ſalt, and ſupplying the inhabitants with a ſource of comfort and accommodation, little to be expected in ſuch a dreary region. The workmen he will find employed in hewing the rocks of ſalt, in form of huge cylinders, uſing hammers, pick-axes, and chiſſels, much as in our ſtone quarries, in order to ſeparate the ſeveral banks. As ſoon as the maſſive pieces are got out of the quarry, they G3 break 66 G3v 66 break them into fragments proper to be thrown into the mill, where they are ground, and reduced into a coarſe farina, or flour, which ſerves all the purpoſes of ſea ſalt.
Charles. I remember going once with you into a ſtone quarry, and can therefore eaſily form an idea of it; but I am ſurpriſed to hear that ſalt is ſo hard as to require hammers and pick-axes to ſeparate it.
Mr. Harcourt. In its natural ſtate, the maſſes of rock ſalt are very hard; there are two kinds of ſal gemma found in the ſalt mines of Wilizka; the one harder, and more tranſparent, and the cryſtallization of which appears more perfect than that of the other; this is the ſal gemona of the druggiſts and dyers. It cuts like cryſtal, and is frequently uſed for toys, chaplets, little vaſes, &c. I think I muſt procure you ſome ſpecimens of them, Sophia; they will deſerve 67 G4r 67 deſerve a place in your cabinet of natural rarities.
Sophia. I ſhall value them very highly, both as your gift, and as a great curioſity.
Mr. Harcourt. The other kind is leſs compact, and ſuitable only for kitchen uſes. The colour of the ſalt, while in the maſs, is a little browniſh; and yet, when ground, it becomes as white as if it had been refined. Some of theſe maſſes are found as hard and tranſparent as cryſtal; ſome white, yellow, blue, and fit for various works of taſte, in which they engrave as on precious ſtones. The mine is cold and moiſt, which cauſes ſome difficulty in reducing the ſalt into powder. They make a blackiſh ſalt of the water drawn out of it, which ſerves to fatten cattle. The ſalt mines of Catalonia are found in the mountains of the Duchy of Cordona; they form a ſolid mountain of rock ſalt, between four and five 68 G4v 68 five hundred feet in height, and a league in circumference, and deſcending to an unknown depth below the ſurface. This prodigious mountain of ſalt, which has no mixture of other matter with it, is eſteemed a great natural curioſity, and has raiſed a doubt among naturaliſts, whether ſalt does not vegetate or grow. To give you an imperfect idea of the quantities of ſalt produced annually, it is ſaid, that one of the Northwich pits, which is in Cheſhire, has yielded, at a medium, four thouſand tons of ſalt in a year. This ſalt is eſteemed unfit for domeſtic uſes, in its natural ſtate; and therefore they use the method practiſed in Poland, Hungary, and many other places, on the coarſer rock ſalt; they refine it, by diſſolving it in weak brine, and then boiling it into ſalt again. The works, where the rock ſalt is refined, are called Refineries. The rock ſalt is broken ſmall, and put into leaded ciſterns, where it is diſſolved in cold ſea-water, when the ſolution 69 G5r 69 ſolution has ſtood a day and night to ſettle, it is drawn off from the ſediment into the ſalt-pan, and refined into ſalt in the ſame manner that common ſalt is boiled up. The ſcratch, or calcarious matter falling from it, forms a cruſt on the ſides of the ciſtern. They are careful not to waſte the brine left in the pans after the ſalt is taken out, but add it to the next quantity put into the pan, and ſo on to the end of the works. I cannot diſmiſs the ſubject of rock ſalt, without mentioning the iſland of Toongming, in the East Indies, which affords the moſt remarkable kind of foſſile, or native dry ſalt, in the world. The country is, in general, very fruitful, but in certain parts of the iſland there are ſpots of ground, of ſeveral acres, which appear wholly barren, yielding not the leaſt appearance of any thing vegetable on them. Theſe ſpots of ground taſte very ſalt, and abound with ſalt in ſuch a manner, as not only to ſupply the whole 70 G5v 70 whole iſland, but a great part of the neighbouring continent.
Augusta. Have the people in this country no other mark to find out the places that produce the ſalt, than the barrenneſs of the ſpot?
Mr. Harcourt. When the inhabitants perceive the ground becomes dry, and covered with white ſpangles, which are pieces of ſalt, they are ſufficiently aſſured that this is a proper place to dig for that commodity. It is very remarkable that the ſame pieces of land, which produce vegetables one year, will produce this ſalt another; and on the contrary, the ſalt parts will, ſome ſeaſons, be covered with vegetation. The ſalt work in this iſland is of great advantage to the inhabitants, and ſupplies all the poor, during the ſeaſon, with employment. The men are occupied in collecting the ſalt, and wetting the earth, and the women in boilinging 71 G6r 71 ing up the water, which they attend as carefully as the men. The ſecond kind of ſalt is marine or ſea ſalt, which is made from ſea water, thickened by repeated evaporation, and at length cryſtallized.
Henry. I do not understand what evaporation means.
Mr. Harcourt. Heat, cauſed either by the action of the ſun or fire, makes the watery particles of ſea-water fly off, or diſperſe into the air, and leave the ſaline parts at the bottom of the veſſel, which is called evaporation. The ſalt, thus deprived of the water, cryſtallizes, or hardens, and ſhoots into cryſtals, ſuch as I ſhewed you the other day in the microſcope. Opake ſtones, pyrites, and minerals, when regularly formed, are ſaid to be cryſtallized; as well as tranſparent ſtones and ſalts. Ice will give you the idea of a complete cryſtallization, compoſed of long needle-like maſſes, flattened on 72 G6v 72 on one ſide, and joined together in ſuch a manner, that the ſmaller are inſerted into the ſides of the greater. The cryſtals of different kinds of ſalts afford great variety and beauty of forms, and are curious objects of microſcopic obſervation. The regularity of their figure, each different ſubſtance producing a form appropriate to itſelf, is a confirmation, that not only the more obvious works of nature, but alſo the internal ſtructure of organized bodies, are formed with the ſame harmony, order, and beauty, that characterize the other parts of the creation. Marine ſalt is prepared by boiling ſea-water. The ſalt-works are erected near the ſea, in order to afford an opportunity of conveying the ſalt-water into them by pipes, which is afterwards boiled in pans of an immenſe ſize. It is neceſſary to have the roofs of wood faſtened with wooden pegs, as the effluvia, which evaporates from the boiling pans, ruſts and deſtroys iron in a very little time. Whilſt boiling, 73 H1r 73 boiling, they purify it with whites of eggs, or ſometimes the blood of ſheep or oxen is uſed for the ſame purpoſe. The ſaline liquor which remains from the making of ſalt, is called bittern, and is uſed for medicinal purpoſes.
Mrs. Harcourt. I think we may obſerve in the proceſs of ſalt, as well as many other things, that nature provides materials for man’s ingenuity and induſtry to work upon; nay, ſhe ſupplies us with few things, that does not require ſome labour to render them ſuitable for our uſe.
Mr. Harcourt. Nature has not only furniſhed us with materials to work with, but implanted in our minds ſuch activity of diſpoſition, and thirſt of knowledge as impels us to ſcrutinize into the properties of theſe materials, and apply them to the purpoſes of life. Much has already been diſcovered, more perhaps lies ſtill behind; the field is H vaſt, 74 H1v 74 vaſt, and may ſupply uſeful and intereſting occupation for many ſucceeding generations of men. The third, and laſt kind of ſalt, is prepared in much the ſame manner as marine ſalt, from the water of ſaltwells and ſprings, and is called brine, or fountain ſalt. The whiteſt, drieſt, and fineſt grained ſalt is ſometimes made up in form of ſugar loves, in ſmall wicker baſkets. In preparing baſket ſalt, they uſe reſin, and other additions, to break the grain, and render it very ſmall; and, to finiſh the proceſs, it is dried in ſtoves. Great quantities of brine or ſpring ſalt is made in moſt of the inland countries, as in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, and in ſome parts of France and England. Lakes of this kind are found in the Podolian deſert, near the river Boryſthenes; on the Ruſſian frontiers, toward Crim Tartary; in the kingdom of Algiers; and in other countries. Where naturnature does not ſupply theſe lakes or ponds, artificial ones may 75 H2r 75 may be made. This is annually done very advantageouſly in France, where the chief coaſts for bay-ſalt, are those of Bretagne, Saintogne, and the Pay d’Aunis. In order to make a ſaline, or ſalt-marſh, a low plat of ground muſt be choſen adjoining to the ſea, and diſtant from the mouths of large rivers; and, to render it complete, it ſhould be near ſome convenient harbour for veſſels. The ground thus choſen, muſt be hollowed out to three ponds or receptacles. The firſt, into which the ſea-water is admitted, may be called the reſervoir; the ſecond receptacle, which is to be again divided into three diſtinct ponds, communicating with each other by narrow paſſages, and containing brine of different degrees of ſtrength, may be called the brineponds; and the third receptacle, is to be furniſhed with an entrance, between which and the brine-ponds, there is to run a long narrow winding channel, the reſt of it is to be divided into ſmall pits, containing a H2 very 76 H2v 76 very ſtrongly ſaturated brine, which is to be converted into ſalt, and they may therefore properly be called the ſalt pits. The firſt receptacle muſt communicate with the ſea, by a ditch, defended by walls; the ditch ſhould have a flood-gate to admit, retain, or let out the ſea-water, as occaſion may require. The bottoms of the reſervoir, or brine-ponds, are to be lined with any kind of tough clay, or earth, that will hold water. The proper ſeaſon for making ſalt in theſe artificial ſalinæ, is from May to the end of Auguſt. When the ſalt-men open the flood-gate, at the time the tide is out, to drain off all the ſtagnating water, and after repairing and cleanſing the receptacles from mud and dirt, they admit the ſea-water, at the next high tide, till it floats the whole marſh, and ſtands at a proper height in the reſervoir. In a few days, moſt of the water, in the ſalt-pits, is exhaled by the power of the ſun, and what remains is a very ſtrong brine. 77 H3r 77 brine. They daily ſupply themſelves with more ſalt-water, in proportion to what is exhaled by the ſun, and the workmen draw out the cryſtals, or ſalt, as they are formed every day, and diſpoſe them in a pyramidal heap, which they cover over at the top with thatch, or ſtraw, to preſerve it from the injuries of the weather. Thus, at a ſmall expence and trouble, a ſalt is prepared, very fit for all domeſtic uſes; and France eſpecially, is furniſhed with a very profitable article for exportation. The uſes of common ſalt are various and extenſive. Its acid and alkali are employed in many chemical operations in the arts. It is an important ingredient in the fuſion of glaſs, which it whitens and purifies. It facilitates the fuſion of the metallic parts of minerals; and its peculiar uſe in preſerving meat, &c. and giving a poignancy to the taſte of various kinds of food, is univerſally known. Common ſalt H3 is 78 H3v 78 is alſo uſeful as a manure, by contributing to fertilize the ſoil.
Charles. You ſurpriſe me. I remember to have read in hiſtory, of princes, who commanded the lands of their enemies to be ſowed with ſalt, that nothing might grow on them. The Bible furniſhes me with an inſtance of it, when Abimelech deſtroyed the city of Shechem, he ordered the place where it had ſtood, to be ſowed with ſalt.
Mr. Harcourt. It pleaſes me to obſerve, that you remember what you read, and that you apply it as occaſion offers. Perhaps the error and prejudice of the ancients aroſe from this cauſe, that they were ignorant that the ſalt is injurious, and deſtructive to all vegetables, yet it increaſes the fertility and productive qualities of the earth.
Mrs. Harcourt. That is a very curious diſtinction, that I was 79 H4r 79 I was unacquainted with before. It grows late, our lecture has been rather long this evening.
Mr. Harcourt. It is time to ſeparate, and as I have re lated the moſt important particulars concerning ſalt, and the manner of preparing it, we will withdraw. Good night, children.
Augusta. Some gentlemen dined with us to-day, who came from Canada, in North- America. I believe they took me for an ignorant girl, that might eaſily be made to believe any thing. I aſſure you, they quite vexed me; they told me a number of improbable ſtories of an animal, that builds houſes three ſtories high, makes bridges, and 80 H4v 80 and I know not what ridiculous ſtuff. I hate to be impoſed upon, ſo I left the table as ſoon as the cloth was removed, and haſtened here, to tell you how I have been ſerved.
Mrs. Harcourt. Sophia, what is the name of this extraordinary animal, that has cauſed ſo much offence to Auguſta?
Sophia. I ſuppoſe it was the beaver, mamma.
Augusta. Ay, that is the very name; but I cannot believe theſe accounts to be true.
Mrs. Harcourt. Sophia ſtudies natural hiſtory, ſhe ſhall give us the particulars ſhe is acquainted with, concerning this curious creature.
Mr. Harcourt. Charles has been this morning to inſpect a hat manufactory, and is therefore prepared to complete his ſiſter’s account of the beaver, by informing us what uſe is made 81 H5r 81 made of its fur. Sophia, it is your turn to begin.
Sophia. Beaver, or Caſtor, makes a diſtinct genus of animals of the order of Glires, and class of Mammalia. The characters are, that the upper fore teeth are truncated, and hollowed obliquely, and that the lower are oblique at the apex; with a flat tail, and feet which have five toes on each, and palms adapted to ſwimming. Under this genus, are comprehended three ſpecies. The Beaver or Fiber. Secondly, the Caſtor.. Thirdly, the Caſtor, called Zibethicus.
Mr. Harcourt. Very well defined, with the method and preciſion of a naturaliſt. Give us now a deſcription of the animal, and afterwards, its manner of living and habits.
Sophia. The Beaver is about four feet in length, and twelve or fifteen inches broad; his ſkin in 82 H5v 82 in the northern regions is generally black; but it brightens into a reddiſh hue, in the temperate climates. He is covered with two ſorts of hair, one long, and the other a ſoft down; the latter, which is an inch in length, is extremely fine and compact, and furniſhes the animal with a neceſſary degree of warmth, the long hair preſerves the down from dirt and wet. The head is like that of the otter, but longer, the ſnout is pretty long, the eyes ſmall, the ears ſhort, round and hairy on the outſide, but ſmooth within, and the teeth very long, the under teeth project the breadth of three fingers, and the upper half a finger, all of which are broad, crooked, ſtrong and ſharp; beſides thoſe teeth, which are called inciſors, which grow double, are ſet very deep in their jaws, and bend like the edge of an axe; they have ſixteen grinders, eight on each ſide, four above, and four below, directly oppoſite to each other. With the former, they are able to cut down trees of a conſiderableſiderable 83 H6r 83 ſiderable ſize; with the latter, to break the hardeſt ſubſtances; the legs are ſhort, the fore-legs not exceeding four or five inches in length, the fore-paws are formed ſomething like the human hand. Theſe feet ſerve the beaver to dig, ſoften, and work the clay for different purpoſes, the hind feet are furniſhed with membranes, or large ſkins, extending between the toes, like thoſe of ducks, and other water-fowl; the tail is long, a little flat, entirely covered with ſcales, ſupplied with muſcles, and perpetually moiſtened with oil or fat, which the creature diſtributes all over them with his ſnout, and which he procures from four bags, which are placed under the inteſtines, and are found in every beaver, whether male or female. Theſe bags are filled with a reſinous liquid ſubſtance, which, when it is ejected, ſettles into a thick conſiſtence. Phyſicians call it caſtoreum, and preſcribe it as an excellent remedy againſt poiſons, vapours, and other maladies; but when 84 H6v 84 when it grows old, it blackens, and degenerates into a dangerous poiſon.
Mrs. Harcourt. Before Sophia relates the manners and occupations of this creature, let us give particular attention to the implements nature has furniſhed it with. The form and ſtrength of the teeth are ſuited to cutting of wood and hard ſubſtances, and we have already been told that with theſe they are able to fell trees; the fore-paws are adapted to handling and diſpoſing the materials of the work; the hind-feet are formed for ſwimming, and evidently ſhew that the creature is intended to live in both elements, and is what is called an amphibious animal; the tail, from its flatneſs, and the hardneſs of its ſcales, may ſerve very well for a hod, ſuch as bricklayers uſe for carrying mortar, &c. And now, Auguſta, do you think it totally improbable, that a creature furniſhed with ſuch tools, and endued with a proportionable degree of ſagacity to uſe them, 85 I1r 85 them, ſhould be able to conſtruct houſes of three ſtories, or build bridges, &c.?
Augusta. Indeed I begin to be ſtaggered; but is this really the caſe? Pray Sophia go on, for I am impatient to hear what you have to tell us about it.
Sophia. When they are going to chuſe a place to build a habitation, they aſſemble in companies ſometimes of two or three hundred, and after mature deliberation, fix on a ſpot where plenty of proviſions, and all neceſſaries may be found. Their houſes are always ſituated in the water, and when they can find neither lake nor pond adjacent, they endeavour to ſupply the defect, by ſtopping the current of ſome brook or ſmall river, by means of a cauſey or dam; for this purpoſe they ſet about felling of trees, which ſeveral of them together effect pretty eaſily, with their ſtrong teeth; they take care to chuſe out thoſe that grow I above 86 I1v 86 above the place where they intend to build, that they may ſwim doen the current. They alſo, with wonderful ſagacity, contrive that they ſhall fall towards the water, that they may have the leſs way to carry them. After the tree is felled, they cut it into proper lengths, and then roll them into the water, and navigate them towards the place where they are to be uſed. The cauſey, raiſed with theſe pieces of wood, is ſometimes ten or a dozen feet in thickneſs at the foundation; it deſcends in a ſlope on the ſide next the water. The oppoſite ſide is raiſed perpendicularly like our walls, and the ſlope, which at its baſe, is twelve feet broad, diminiſhes towards the top to the breadth of two feet. They drive the extremities of theſe pieces of wood very near each other, into the earth, and interlace them with other ſtakes more ſlender and ſupple. But as the water, without ſome other prevention, would glide through the cavities and leave the reſevoir dry, they have 87 I2r 87 have recourſe to a clay, which they perfectly well know how to procure, and which they work up into a kind of mortar with their tails, and cloſe up the interſtices with it, both within and without, and this entirely ſecures the water from paſſing away. If the violence of the water, or the footſteps of hunters, who paſs over their work, damage it, they immediately ſet about repairing it. They build their cabins, either on piles in the middle of the ſmall lakes, they have thus formed, on the bank of a river, or at the extremity of ſome point of land, that advances into a lake. The figure of them is round or oval, divided into three partitions, raiſed one above another. The firſt is ſunk below the level of the dike, and is generally full of water, the other two ſtories are built above it. The whole edifice is moſtly capable of containing eight or ten inhabitants. Each beaver has his peculiar cell aſſigned him, the floor of which he ſtrews with leaves, I2 or 88 I2v 88 or ſmall branches of the pine tree, ſo as to render it clean and comfortable. Their works, eſpecially in the cold regions, are completed in Auguſt or September; after which they furniſh themſelves with a ſtore of proviſions. During the ſummer, they regale upon all the fruits and plants the country produces. In the winter they eat the woods of the aſk, the plane, and other trees, which they ſteep in water, in quantities proportionable to their conſumption, and they are ſupplied with a double ſtomach, to facilitate the digeſtion of ſuch ſolid food at two operations. They cut twigs from three to ſix feet in length, the larger ones are conveyed by ſeveral beavers to the magazine, and the ſmaller by a ſingle animal, but they take different ways. Each individual has his walk aſſigned him, to prevent the labourers from being interrupted in their reſpective occupations. Theſe parcels of wood are not piled up in one continued heap, but laid acroſs one another with interſticesterſtices 89 I3r 89 terſtices between them, that they may the eaſier draw out what quantity they want; and they always take the parcel at the bottom. They cut this wood into ſmall pieces, and convey it to their cell, where the whole family come to receive their ſhare. Sometimes they wander in the woods, and regale their young with a freſh collation. The hunters, who know that theſe creatures love green wood, better than old, place a parcel of the former about their lodge, and then have ſeveral devices to enſnare them. When the winter grows ſevere, they ſometimes break the ice, and when the beavers come to the opening for air, they kill them with hatchets, or make a large aperture in the ice, and cover it with a very ſtrong net, and then overturn the lodge, upon which the beavers thinking to eſcape in their uſual way, by flying to the water, and emerging at the hole in the ice, fall into the ſnare, and are taken.I3 Cecilia. 90 I3v 90
Cecilia. Poor creatures! what can induce any body to be ſo cruel, as to enſnare and deſtroy ſuch ingenious and induſtrious animals?
Mr. Harcourt. Profit. The hunters in America catch vaſt numbers of them every year, for the ſake of their ſkins, and bags of caſtor, which they bring to the merchants, who ſend them to Europe.
Cecilia. Pray what uſe do they make of their ſkins?
Mr. Harcourt. I leave Charles to anſwer that queſtion.
Charles. Men’s hats are made of the fur of the Beaver. Women are employed by the hatters, to clear the ſkins of the hair; for which purpoſe they uſe two knives; a large one, like a ſhoe-maker’s knife, for the long hair; and a ſmaller, not unlike a vine knife, to 91 I4r 91 to ſhave or ſcrape off the ſhort hair or down. When the hair is off, they mix the ſtuff, putting to one third of dry caſtor, two thirds of old coat, a term they uſe for the hair of thoſe ſkins, which have been worn ſome time by the ſavages, and by that means is become finer than the reſt. After it is mixed, they card it; which is pulling it ſmooth and even, between two things reſembling a curry comb, with fine teeth: ſuch as are uſed to card wool with, before it is ſpun. They then take a proper quantity of this fluff for a hat, and put it upon the hurdle, which is a ſquare table with chinks cut through it lengthwiſe, then the workman takes an inſtrument called a bow, very like a fiddle-ſtick, and works the fur, till it mixes well together, the dirt and filth paſſing through the chinks. In this manner they form two gores or pieces of an oval form, ending in a ſharp corner at top. Theſe pieces, or capades, as they are called, being formed in this manner, 92 I4v 92 manner, they proceed to harden them into cloſer, and more conſiſtent flakes, by preſſing them with a hardening ſkin or leather; they are then caried to the baſon, which is a ſort of bench, with an iron plate fitted in it, and a little fire underneath it, upon which they lay one of the capades, ſprinkled with water, and make uſe of a ſort of mould to form it; when, by means of the heat of the fire, the water, and preſſing, the ſubſtance thickens into a ſlight hairy ſort of felt or stuff. After they have turned up the edges all round the mould, they lay it by, and proceed in the ſame manner with the other half. The next thing is to join the two pieces together, ſo as to meet in a point at the top, and form a high crowned cap. The hat thus baſoned, is removed to a large receiver or trough, which is a kind of copper kettle, of a peculiar ſhape, filled with hot water and grounds, after dipping the hat in the kettle, they begin to work it, by rolling and unrolling it 93 I5r 93 it again and again, firſt with their hands, and then with a little wooden roller, dipping it frequently in the kettle, till by fulling and thickening it in this manner for four or five hours, it is brought into the ſize of the hat intended; they form the crown by laying the high crowned cap on a wooden block of a proper ſize, and tying it round with a packthread, called a commander, which they gradually puſh down to the bottom of the block, with a piece of iron properly bent, which they call a ſtamper. When the hat is dried, they ſinge it, and rub it with pumice, to take off the coarſer knap, it is afterwards rubbed with ſeal-ſkin, and laſtly carded with a fine card.
Mr. Harcourt. You have given us a very clear account of what you ſaw this morning; but pray tell us, whether ſomething is not to be done to colour and ſtiffen the hat.Charles 94 I5v 94
Charles. O yes! the hat is ſent upon the block to the dyers, who makes a dye of logwood, verdigreaſe, copperas, and alder-bark, and fills his copper with it, which is moſtly large enough to hold ten or twelve dozen of hats at a time. He boils the hats in this dye for near an hour, then ſets them out to cool, and boils them again ten or more times over, till the dye is complete; it is now returned to the hatter, who dries it thoroughly over a charcoal fire, and then ſmears it with glue, or gum ſenegal, diſſolved to ſtiffen it. The next thing is to ſteam it on the ſteaming-baſon, which is a little hearth or fire-place, covered over with an iron plate that exactly fits it; on this plate, wet cloths are ſpread to prevent the hat from burning, the hat is placed brim downwards on it, and rubbed gently with the hand, till ſufficiently ſteamed and dried, it is then put again upon the block, and bruſhed and ironed with flat-irons, ſuch 95 I6r 95 ſuch as are uſed for ironing linen, which ſmoothens and poliſhes it, and nothing now remains to be done, but to clip the edges, and ſew a lining into the crown.
Mrs. Harcourt. I thank you in the name of the company for the entertainment you have given us, and cannot help obſerving the wiſdom of Providence that has ſo wonderfully ſuited the formation and inſtincts of the beaver to its wants, and appointed manner of life.
Augusta. I am all aſtoniſhment and wonder; and for the future, ſhall be more ready to liſten to extraordinary things with attention; but I thought it fooliſh to give credit to any thing that ſeemed ſo improbable.
Mrs. Harcourt. There is a material difference between credulouſly aſſenting to every thing we hear without examination; and liſtening attentively to the relations of people of ſense and 96 I6v 96 and credit, who have no motive for impoſing upon us; and, who, if we have patience, will probably give good reaſons for what they aſſert; but it is a mark of ignorance to believe every thing implicitly. Much depends upon the degree of credit due to the character of the perſon who relates the circumſtance: but there are ſuch wonders in both nature and art, that till they are explained, may well appear improbable to the uninformed mind; this reflection ſhould incite us to purſue the attainment of uſeful knowledge by attending to the converſation of people of experience and information.
Mr. Harcourt. Converſation is an agreeable means of inſtruction: and thoſe people, who by a habit of attention and obſervation, collect knowledge wherever it is to be found, may meet with it from the moſt clowniſh ruſtic, or unlettered mechanic. Never deſpiſe any body as too mean to learn from; but talk to 97 K1r 97 to every one in his own way; that is, on the ſubject of his profeſſion or calling, and you may with certainty rely upon gaining information.
Mrs. Harcourt. We have paſſed the time ſo pleaſantly, that we have not been aware how late it is; it is time to take leave. Children, good-night.
Mrs. Harcourt. Buſineſs prevents your father from his uſual attendance, therefore we muſt find ſomething to entertain ourſelves with; cannot we contrive ſome game or play to amuſe us?
Sophia. If you pleaſe, mamma, we will play at queſtions, in the manner Miſs Groves K ſhewed 98 K1v 98 ſhewed us. You muſt propoſe a queſtion, which each of us muſt try to anſwer in turn. Whoever gives a proper reply gains a prize.
Cecilia. What ſhall the prizes be?
Charles. They need not be of any great value, ſome trifle for the ſake of the play.
Mrs. Harcourt. I received a preſent yeſterday, of ſome ſhells and foſſile productions, it will give me pleaſure to diſtribute them among you; they will juſt ſuit the purpoſe. Sophia, you will find them in my cabinet: bring them, and diſpoſe them in equal parcels.
Sophia. What beautiful tints! what colours can equal theſe? Shells, flowers, and inſects are the finiſhings of nature, and for elegance of form, variety, and beauty of colour, as well as delicacy of texture, excel the fineſt works of art.Mrs. 99 K2r 99
Mrs. Harcourt. They will ſerve two purpoſes. The one as prizes for your anſwers, the other as a ſubject for my firſt question. What is a ſhell?
Henry. A ſhell is a houſe for a ſnail, or a ſmall fiſh to live in.
Mrs. Harcourt. A prize belongs to Henry for his anſwer, as it is certain that ſhells furniſh a caſe or covering, or if you pleaſe a habitation, for the inſects that dwell in them; they alſo ſerve them as a defence, or coat of mail againſt their enemies, or any thing that might injure their tender bodies; but I mean to enquire in what manner the ſhell is produced.
Cecilia. I ſuppoſe it is a part of the animal, formed with it as bones are.
Mrs. Harcourt. That was thought to be the caſe formerly,K2 merly, 100 K2v 100 merly, but the diſcoveries of M. Reaumur has ſhewn the ſuppoſition to be falſe; he has proved that the ſhells of ſnails are formed from the perſpiration of the animal, which is concreted or hardened by the air, and it is reaſonable to ſuppoſe that the ſeawater has the ſame effect on thoſe of fiſhes. The caſting of the ſhell of crabs and lobſters tends to confirm this opinion.
Augusta. Do they ever change their ſhells?
Mrs. Harcourt. Yes, my dear, every year. The creature, aware of what it has to undergo, retreats to a place of ſecurity, ſuch as the cavities of rocks, or under great ſtones, where it lies till all the parts are by degrees diſengaged from the old ſhell. In this naked ſtate they make a very diſagreeable appearance, being a mere lump of fleſh covered with a ſort of jelly, which by degrees hardens into a ſhell, ſomewhat larger than the old 101 K3r 101 old one, and thus accommodates itſelf to the growth of the animal.
Charles. This is very wonderful indeed; are ſhells a perfect defence to the fiſh that live in them?
Mrs. Harcourt. I propoſe that as my next queſtion, to be anſwered by the company.
Sophia. I ſuppoſe there is no manner of doubt, as mamma has already told us, that they defend the fiſh againſt many injuries; but I read a little while ago, they are not a perfect ſecurity againſt all. Shell-fiſh are the food of ſome fiſh of the larger kinds, particularly the ſea-porcupine, and a ſpecies of the wray-fiſh, feed chiefly upon them. Theſe fiſh are provided by nature with a ſuitable apparatus for grinding them into a ſtate proper for digeſtion, their jaws being furniſhed with bony ſubſtances extending to the palate, and under part of K3 the 102 K3v 102 the mouth, which are capable of reducing ſtrong ſhells into a pulp; but what is moſt extraordinary is, that a ſmall pectunculus or cockle, is the prey of the ſoal, which has no ſuch inſtruments for breaking them to pieces, but is ſuppoſed to be furniſhed with a menſtruum in the body, that has the power of diſſolving them, for on examining the inſide of a ſoal, many of theſe ſhells are found in part diſſolved, whilſt others remain unaltered.
Mrs. Harcourt. How various are the powers of nature; ſhe is not obliged to perform the ſame thing always by the ſame means, but uſes variety of proceſſes to produce the ſame effect. Into how many claſſes are ſhells divided by the beſt naturaliſts?
Charles. A viſit to the British Muſeum, in company with a friend of my papa’s, who is a collector of ſhells, has rendered me capable of reſolving the queſtion: they are generallyrally 103 K4r 103 rally divided into three claſſes. Univalves, bivalves, and multivalves; which include ſea, land, and freſh-water ſhells, which are ſubdivided into many genera and ſpecies. The firſt claſs conſiſts of ſhells that are of one ſingle piece; as a ſnail-ſhell; the ſecond, of thoſe which are formed of two, as the oyſter or muſcle; and the third, of thoſe which have more pieces than two. Sea-eggs will afford us an example of theſe, being covered with ſpines or prickles. Land-ſhells are of two kinds, the recent and the foſſile; the recent are thoſe which are inhabited by living animals; but the foſſile are the remains of marine bodies, ſuppoſed to have once inhabited the deep ſeas, though frequently found in great quantities under ground, in mines, and in places far diſtant from the ocean, and ſometimes on the tops of mountains.
Augusta. Aſtoniſhing! by what ſtrange accident could they ever come there?Charles. 104 K4v 104
Charles.. That queſtion has puzzled many wiſe and learned men; it is generally believed that thoſe parts have many ages ago been covered with ſea, and ſome refer to the grand deluge as the cauſe of this wonderful change; they are very advantageous to the places where they are found, as they afford an excellent manure for land.
Sophia. This is a convincing proof of the truth of the hiſtory of the deluge: the account that Moſes gives us of the flood has always appeared to me ſo wonderful, that I could ſcarcely believe it; but I think, after this confirmation, I ſhall never doubt again concerning any thing, however extraordinary, that I find written in the Scriptures.
Mrs. Harcourt. Remember, my dear, that the ſacred writings contain a hiſtory of the miraculous interpoſition of divine Providence, in teachinging 105 K5r 105 ing mankind the moſt holy and pure religion, from the earlieſt ages to the glorious diſpenſation of the Goſpel. Can we then be ſurpriſed, that they ſhould contain things out of the courſe of nature? the very eſſence of a miracle is, that an effect is produced which can only be accounted for by the influence of a ſupernatural power. In the rude ages of groſs ignorance, when the worſhip of idols was almoſt univerſal, ſome ſtriking inſtances of a miraculous diſplay of divine power was neceſſary to convince men, that a God exiſted, who had created all things, and who governed them with an all-ſeeing eye. The children of Iſrael were choſen as a peculiar people, among whom were diſplayed theſe extraordinary manifeſtations of the divine Preſence, that by their means the worſhip of the One True God might ſupplant the adoration paid to the ſun, moon, ſtars, animals of various kinds, and even to ſtocks and ſtones, by the different nations of the earth. The multitude 106 K5v 106 multitude of foſſile bodies found in places remote from the ſea are an incontrovertible proof of ſome violent convulſion of nature; and perhaps are permitted to remain as a monument, to ſilence all cavillers on this ſubject; but let us reſume the thread of our diſcourſe, the vaſt variety of ſhells that are ſeen in the cabinets of collectors is not all the produce of one ſea or one country. Some of the moſt beautiful come from the Eaſt-Indies and the Red Sea. The colours and brilliancy of ſhells ſeem to be improved and heightened by the heat of the ſun, as thoſe of warm climates always excel thoſe found in cold countries in luſtre. The ſhores of Aſia furniſh us with the pearloyſters and ſcallops in great perfection. Shells of great beauty are alſo found on the ſhores of America and the Weſt-Indies. In Africa, on the coaſt of Guinea, abounds a ſmall ſpecies of porcelain ſhells, which the natives uſe as money.Augusta. 107 K6r 107
Augusta. I thought nothing could ſerve the purpoſe of money but gold and ſilver.
Mrs. Harcourt. Gold and ſilver are only uſed as a repreſentation of real wealth. I give you a certain quantity of gold, in exchange for which you ſupply me with corn, cattle, or any of the neceſſaries of life. With the gold that you have received, you purchaſe ſome other commodity that you want from a third perſon, who likewiſe barters it in the ſame manner for ſomething that he ſtands in need of; thus it paſſes from one to another, enabling them to exchange the commodities of life in a more exact proportion with reſpect to the value of each, than could be done without ſuch a medium. Shells, or any other durable ſubſtance, may anſwer the ſame purpoſe as gold, if men agree to receive it in the ſame way. The women of this country adorn their hair, and make bracelets and necklaces with 108 K6v 108 with another kind, which are perfectly white.
Henry. How droll they muſt look upon their black faces and necks.
Sophia. We have different ideas of beauty, Henry, perhaps they are as well ſatisfied with theſe ſimple ornaments, as our women of faſhion are with diamonds and rouge, but we interrupt mamma.
Mrs. Harcourt. The Mediterranean and Northern Ocean contain great variety of ſhells, and many of remarkable elegance and beauty; but upon the whole they are greatly inferior to thoſe of the Eaſt-Indies. Our own Engliſh coaſts are not the laſt in the production of ſhells, though they cannot be compared to thoſe of the Eaſt-Indies for luſtre and colour.
Cecilia. I think I have heard that there is a methodthod 109 L1r 109 thod of poliſhing ſhells, mamma, will you be ſo kind as to tell us how it is done.
Mrs. Harcourt. There are various methods of poliſhing ſhells, and adding to their natural beauty. Among the immenſe variety of ſhells, with which we are acquainted, ſome are taken out of the ſea, or found on its ſhores, in their utmoſt perfection, and cannot be improved by the hand of art, their beautiful tints being ſpread upon the ſurface, and the natural poliſh ſuperior to any that could be given: but in others the beauties are concealed by a coarſe outer coat, which the hand of a ſkilful poliſher may remove. Collectors ſhould have ſpecimens of the ſame ſpecies both rough and poliſhed, that the naturaliſt may compare the natural ſtate with the artificial one. How many fine ſtrokes of nature’s pencil in this part of the creation would be entirely concealed from our view, were it not for the aſſiſtance of an art that unveils, and diſplays them in full luſtre? A ſhell L that 110 L1v 110 that has a ſmooth ſurface, and a natural dull poliſh, requires only to be rubbed with the hand, or a piece of chamoy leather, or ſome tripoli or fine rotten ſtone may be uſed, and it will become perfectly bright and poliſhed; but even this ſhould be done with caution, for in many ſhells the lines are only on the ſurface, and the wearing ever ſo little of the ſhell defaces it. A ſhell that is rough, foul, and cruſty, or covered with a tartareous coat muſt be ſteeped for ſome hours in hot water, then it is to be rubbed with rough emery on a ſtick, in order to get off the coat; after this it may be dipped in diluted aqua-fortis, ſpirit of ſalt, or any other acid, and after remaining a few moments in it, be again dipped in common water; then it is to be well rubbed with ſoap-ſuds; after which the operation may be finiſhed with a fine emery, and a hairbruſh; and, many to heighten the poliſh, rub the ſhell with a thin ſolution of gum arabic, or the white of an egg; gloves ſhould 111 L2r 111 ſhould be worn in uſing the aqua-fortis, as it is liable to injure the fleſh wherever it touches. Some ſhells require more ſevere treatment, which is called ſcaling them, and is performed by a horizontal wheel of lead or tin, impregnated with rough emery, and the ſhell is worked down in the ſame manner as ſtones are by the lapidary; this requires the hand of a ſkilful artiſt to avoid wearing away the ſhell too low, and ſpoiling it. After the ſhell is cut down as far as is proper, it is to be poliſhed with fine emery, tripoli or rotten ſtone, with a wooden wheel, turned by the ſame machine as the leaden one. Theſe are the principal means uſed in this art, and the changes that are produced by it, are often ſo great, that the ſhell is not to be known for the ſame, for inſtance, the onyx or volute is of a ſimple pale brown in its natural ſtate, and becomes a fine bright yellow, with only juſt the ſuperficies taken off, but if eaten away deeper, appears of a milkwhite,L2 white, 112 L2v 112 white, with a bluiſh hue towards the bottom. In the Eaſt-Indies they frequently engrave lines, circles, and other devices on many ſpecies of ſhells, particularly by the nautilus; but this is a groſs violation of good taſte; ſo far from embelliſhing or heightening the charms of nature, it does not even imitate them.
Charles. When we go to the ſea-ſide in autumn, we may collect ſhells, and poliſh them at our leiſure hours. Among other curioſities that were pointed out to my obſervation at the Britiſh Muſeum, was a piece of byſſus, which is a fine cloth, uſed by the ancients, when ſilk was rare, made of the threads of the pinna marina, a fiſh ſomewhat like a muſcle, but much larger, and is held in its place in the ſame manner, by a prodigous number of very fine threads, which the animal has the power of ſpinning as it finds occaſion, as the ſpider and caterpillar do. Theſe threads have in all times 113 L3r 113 times been uſed for the ſame purpoſes as ſilk. At preſent they are manufactured at Palmero, the chief city of Sicily, and other places, into gloves, ſtockings, and different ſorts of wearing apparel. The method of rendering it fit for uſe, is by laying it for a few days in a damp cellar to ſoften, then comb and cleanſe it; and laſtly, ſpin it, in the ſame manner as they do ſilk. By theſe threads, the pinna marina, or ſea-wing, as it is ſometimes called, ſuſpend themſelves to the rocks twenty or thirty feet beneath the ſurface of the ſea. In this ſituation, it is ſo ſucceſsfully attacked by the eightfooted polypus, that the ſpecies could not exiſt, but for the aſſiſtance of the cancer pinnotheris, which lives in the ſame ſhell, as a guard and companion. The pinnotheris or pinnophylax is a ſmall crab, naked like Bernard the hermit, but is furniſhed with good eyes, and always inhabits the ſhell of the pinna; when they want food, the pinna opens its ſhell, and ſends its faithfulL3 ful 114 L3v 114 ful ally to forage; but if the cancer ſees the polypus, he returns ſuddenly to the arms of his blind hoſteſs, who by cloſing the ſhell, avoids the fury of her enemy; otherwiſe, when it has procured a booty, it brings it to the opening of the ſhell, where it is admitted, and they divide the prey.
Augusta. This is curious indeed; that one animal ſhould ſupply eyes for another, in return for the advantage of a coat of mail.
Mrs. Harcourt. It is almoſt time to diſtribute the prizes. Henry, that ſmall lot of beautiful ſhells belongs to you. Charles will take theſe pieces of coral, and prepare himſelf by to-morrow evening to give us ſome account of what coral is, whether animal or vegetable; and Sophia, this paper nautilus is reſerved for you. I hope you are able to give us ſome particulars relative to the fiſh that inhabited it.Sophia 115 L4r 115
Sophia. The general form of the nautilus is adapted to ſwimming on the water, and reſembles the figure of a boat or veſſel, but varies in ſome particulars in the different ſpecies. The name is derived from a Greek word, ſignifying both a fiſh and a ſailor. It is ſuppoſed that men firſt took the idea of ſailing in veſſels from what they ſaw practiſed by this little creature. The paper nautilus, is ſo named from the thinneſs of the ſhell, which it ſometimes creeps out of, and goes on ſhore to feed. When this animal intends to ſail, it extends two of its arms on high, and ſupports a membrane between them, which it throws out to ſerve as a ſail, and its two other arms hang out of the ſhell to be uſed occaſionally as oars, or as a ſteerage; but this laſt office is generally performed by the tail. When the ſea is calm, numbers of theſe fiſh are frequently ſeen diverting themſelves with ſailing about in this manner, but as ſoon as a ſtorm 116 L4v 116 ſtorm ariſes, or any thing diſturbs them, they draw in their arms, and take in as much water as makes them a little heavier than the ſea-water in which they ſwim, and by that means ſink to the bottom. When they deſire to riſe again, they expel this abundant water through a number of holes which they have in their arms, and ſo lighten themſelves.
Mrs. Harcourt. The manners and inſtincts of thoſe animals that inhabit the ocean, are greatly concealed from us by their ſituation, but thoſe few that have offered themſelves to our obſervation, diſplay inſtances of the ſame admirable wiſdom that has formed the inhabitants of the earth and air. Should man ever be enabled, by any future diſcovery to traverſe the bottom of the ſea, what wonders would be opened to his view! what numberleſs examples of contrivance and ſagacity, directed by the ſame wiſdom that has inſtructed the bee to gather honey, and 117 L5r 117 and the beaver to conſtruct his habitation, would appear! The different contrivances that ſeveral ſpecies of fiſh, whoſe manners are known, diſcover, in the modes of catching their prey, are ſo wonderful and curious, that I cannot deny myſelf the pleaſure of relating a few inſtances. The ſturgeon is without teeth, and his mouth placed under the head, like the opening of a purſe, which he has the power of puſhing ſuddenly out or retracting. Before this mouth, under the beak or noſe, hang four tendrils ſome inches long, and which ſo reſemble earth-worms, that at firſt ſight they may be miſtaken for them. This clumſey toothleſs fiſh is ſuppoſed by this contrivance to keep himſelf in good condition, the ſolidity of his fleſh evidently ſhewing him to be a fiſh of prey. He is ſaid to hide his large body amongſt the weeds near the ſea-coaſt, or at the mouths of large rivers, only expoſing his irrhi or tendrils, which ſmall fiſh or ſea inſects miſtaking 118 L5v 118 miſtaking for real worms, approach for plunder, and are ſucked into the jaws of their enemy. The fleſh of the ſturgeon was ſo valued in the time of the emperor Severus, that it was brought to table by ſervants with coronets on their heads, and preceded by muſic, which might give riſe to its being in our country preſented by the lord mayor to the king. At preſent it is caught in the Danube, and the Wolga, the Don, and other large rivers, for various purpoſes. The ſkin makes the beſt covering for carriages; iſinglaſs is prepared from parts of the ſkin, cavear from the ſpawn; and the fleſh is pickled or ſalted, and ſent all over Europe, as your father told you in his account of the fiſheries. There is a ſea inſect described by Mr. Huges, whoſe claws or tentacles being diſpoſed in regular circles, and tinged with variety of bright lively colours, repreſent the petals of ſome moſt elegantly fringed and radiated flowers; as the carnation, marigold,rigold, 119 L6r 119 rigold, and anemone; theſe beautiful rays ſerve them as a net for incloſing their prey. Theſe entertaining ſubjects have inſenſibly led us on till it is late. Good night, children, let us retire.
Mr. Harcourt. Good evening to you, ladies, I regretted loſing the pleaſure of joining your party laſt night, but underſtand from Mrs. Harcourt, that you were very well amuſed with the ſubject of ſhells and foſſils.
Cecilia. Nothing was wanting but your company, to render our evening delightful.
Mrs. Harcourt. Delightful, my dear Cecilia, that is too ſtrong a word; learn to moderate your expreſſions, ſuit your terms to the occaſion; or 120 L6v 120 or you will be at a loſs to raiſe your language in proportion to your feelings, when important events excite your livelieſt emotions.
Cecilia. How often do I forget your precepts in this reſpect, although I endeavour to attend to them; but I did enjoy myſelf ſo very much laſt night, that I thought I might ſay delightful without any exaggeration.
Mrs. Harcourt. I am glad you were ſo well pleaſed; but reſtrain the warmth of your expreſſions; an exceſs in this way, may be ranked among the follies of the preſent faſhionable manners; it is not only abſurd in itſelf, but tends to give us falſe ideas of things, and induces us to conſider that as important, which in its own nature is but trifling. Whenever I hear a girl exclaim upon every little variation of weather, I am dying of heat, I am frozen to 2 death; 121 M1r 121 death; or melting in ecſtacies at a concert or a play, I ſuſpect either that her imagination has been ſuffered to run wild, or that ſhe has never been inſtructed to adapt her language to her ideas. Such exceſs of ſpeech is to be expected from novel and romance readers, but are ill ſuited to a woman of good ſenſe and propriety of manners.―Well, Charles, we expect our entertainment from you, to-night. Have you been able to diſcover, whether corals and corallines are to be ranked in the vegetable or animal kingdom?
Charles. Linneus has claſſed them among the zoophytes, which are a kind of intermediate body, ſuppoſed to partake both of the nature of an animal and a vegetable, as the Greek words, from which it is derived, indicate, ſignifying plant animal. In the Linnean ſyſtem, the zoophytes, which conſtitute the fifth order of worms, are compoſiteM ſite 122 M1v 122 ſite animals, reſembling flowers, and ſpringing from a vegetating ſtem. This order contains fifteen genera, of which nine are fixed, and have no power of removing from the places where they are formed; as the iſis or red coral, ſea-fan or gorgonia, alcyonium, ſponge, fluſtra, tubularia, corallines, ſertularia, and vorticella, but the others poſſeſs the faculty of tranſporting themſelves from one place to another, as the hydra or polype, the pennatula, or ſeapen, tœnia, volvex, furia, and chaos, or the aſſemblage of chaotic or microſcopical animals. The ſpecies under this order are one hundred and fifty-ſix. The immenſe and dangerous rocks built by the ſwarms of coral inſects in the Southern Ocean, which riſe perpendicularly like walls, are deſcribed in Cook’s voyages. A point of one of theſe rocks broke off, and ſtuck in the hole that it had made in the bottom of one of his ſhips, which muſt otherwiſewiſe 123 M2r 123 wiſe have periſhed, by the admiſſion of water.
Mr. Harcourt. Their prodigous multiplication in all ages of the world is ſhewn by the numerous lime-ſtone rocks, which conſiſt of a congeries or heap of the cells of theſe animals, which conſtitute a great part of the ſolid earth. Specimens of theſe rocks are to be ſeen in the lime-works at Linſel, near Newport, in Shropſhire; in Coalbrook Dale; and in ſeveral parts of the Peak of Derbyſhire. It is remarkable that many of thoſe found in a foſſile ſtate, differ from any ſpecies of the recent ones that are known, and have either been produced in the deep ſeas, where no human eye can penetrate, or are become exſtinct. I ſuppoſe, Charles, you can inform us from what country the beſt coral comes, and in what manner it is procured.
Charles. The ſeaſon for fiſhing coral is from April M2 to 124 M2v 124 to July. The places are the Perſian Gulf, Red Sea, coaſts of Africa, towards the Baſtion of France, the iſles of Majorca and Corſica, and the coaſts of Provence and Catalonia. Seven or eight men go in a boat: the caſter throws the net, which is formed of two beams, tied acroſs with a leaden weight to preſs them down. A great quantity of hemp is looſely twiſted round, among which they mix ſome ſtrong nets, and faſten to the beams; thus prepared it is let down into the ſea, and when the coral is pretty much entangled, they draw it out by a rope, which ſometimes requires half a dozen boats to effect. It is uſed as a medicine in various diſeaſes.
Sophia. I ſuppoſe it is but lately that the real nature of coral has been aſcertained; was it not formerly reckoned a vegetable?
Mr. Harcourt. It was formerly ranked among the number of marine plants, but the diſcoveries of modern 125 M3r 125 modern naturaliſts have raiſed it to the animal kingdom, ſince their obſervations ſatisfactorily prove that it is the ſtructure and habitation of certain ſea animals, and deſigned for their protection and ſupport. The nature and origin of coral have been as much diſputed as any ſubject in natural knowledge. Some have conſidered coral, and the other ſimilar productions of the ſea as ſtone. They adopted this opinion from their exceſſive hardneſs, and ſpecific gravity, as well as from obſerving that when theſe bodies were calcined, they were converted into lime. Kircher ſuppoſes that there are entire foreſts of it at the bottom of the ſea, which is not at all improbable, ſince M. de Peyſſonnel has demonſtrated by his experiments, that it is conſtructed by an animal of the polype kind. In forming coral, and other marine productions of this claſs, the animal labours like thoſe of the teſtaceous kind, M3 each 126 M3v 126 each according to its ſpecies, and their productions vary according to their ſeveral forms, magnitudes, and colours. The coral inſect, he obſerves, expands itſelf in water, and contracts itſelf in air; or when it is touched with the hand, or when acid liquors are poured upon it; and he actually ſaw theſe inſects move their claws or legs, and expand themſelves, when the water in which they were, was placed near the fire. Broken branches of coral have been obſerved to faſten to other branches. The coral inſects, not having been injured, continue their operations, and as they draw no ſuſtenance from the ſtone of the coral, they are able to increaſe in a detached ſtate. M. de Peyſſonnel obſerved that it grows in every direction, ſometimes horizontally, ſometimes perpendicularly downwards, at other times upwards. Coral then is a maſs of animals of the polype kind, having the ſame relation to the polypes united to them, that there is between the ſhell of a ſnail, and 127 M4r 127 and the ſnail itſelf. Pray Charles, tell us how many kinds of coral there are?
Charles. There are three kinds; red, white and black; the black is the rareſt, and moſt eſteemed; but it is the red that is moſtly uſed in medicine. There is no part of the world where white coral is produced in ſuch abundance as on the ſhores of the iſland of Ceylon, and other of the neighbouring coaſts. The lime made in thoſe countries for building houſes, fortifications, &c. is all prepared by burning this coral. It lies in vaſt banks, which are uncovered at low water, and it is ſpongy and porous. While young, it is formed erect in ſhape of little ſhrubs, and is then firm and ſolid, with a ſmooth ſurface; but the branches continually ſhoot out, and from thoſe new branches, proceed others, till the whole is one confuſed buſh, which is all covered with a white viſcous matter, which in time hardens upon them, and becomes 128 M4v 128 becomes coral; and this filling up all the interſtices, and hardening between them, renders it one coarſe rock.
Cecilia. I obſerved you named ſponge among the zoophytes; ſurely that cannot be the habitation of inſects. I have often wondered what it is, but have never been able to ſatisfy my curioſity.
Mr. Harcourt. Sponge is a kind of marine ſubſtance, found adhering to rocks, ſhells, &c. under cover of the ſea-water. Naturaliſts have till lately been greatly embarraſſed in which of the three kingdoms to place it; but it is now decidedly allowed to be of ſome ſpecies of worm or polype. The ſame M. de Peyſſonnel has diſcovered, and deſcribed the worms that form four different ſpecies of ſpnogesſponges; he thinks the ſponge is formed from the juices or ſlaver, which is depoſited by the worms that inhabit them.Henry. 129 M5r 129
Henry. The next time I have any to rub my ſlate with, I will try if I can find any of theſe inſects.
Mrs. Harcourt. It will be a vain endeavour. The inſects are all dead, long before the ſponge comes to our hands; beſides they are ſo ſmall as to require the beſt microſcopes to diſcover them.
Augusta. I know a lady that has a beautiful grotto in her garden; ornamented with variety of corals and ſhells. I ſhall obſerve it with more attention the next time I viſit her.
Charles. I wonder if any body ſhould beſtow the money and trouble, neceſſary to form ſuch a collection, to place them in a garden, where they are liable to be ſtolen, and are expoſed to the injuries of the weather.Sophia. 130 M5v 130
Sophia. Perhaps the corals are artificial, and ordinary ſhells, mixed with pebbles, and pieces of coloured glaſs; the refuſe of the glaſs-house, would have a very pretty effect.
Cecilia. Artificial coral! I never heard of ſuch a thing. Pray ſiſter, how do they make it?
Sophia. After having choſen twigs and branches to your fancy, reſembling the manner of the growth of coral as much as poſſible; you muſt peel and dry them. Then take one ounce of clear roſin, and diſſolve it in a braſs pan, to which add two drams of the fineſt vermillion, mix theſe ingredients well together, and paint the branches with it whilſt it is warm, then hold them over a gentle coal fire, till they are ſmooth and even as if poliſhed. In the ſame manner, white 131 M6r 131 white coral may be imitated with white lead, and black coral with lampblack.
Charles. If papa and mamma will give us leave, we will build one, near the river at the top of the grove. I will undertake to be the architect, and perform the rough work.
Mrs. Harcourt. I approve the plan, and will aſſiſt in the execution of it.
Mr. Harcourt. I agree to it, on one condition, that it ſhall not infringe upon the time of your ſtudies. Riſe an hour earlier every morning, that will give you ſufficient opportunity for the work.
Cecilia. That will be no hardſhip, theſe beautiful mornings; let us agree to meet at ſix o’clock.
Augusta. I am not uſed to riſe till eight. How ſhall I ever contrive to be ready?Henry. 132 M6v 132
Henry. I will rouſe you, by ringing of the bell.
Mrs. Harcourt. Late riſing is a bad habit, that you have been allowed to contract; but my dear Auguſta, determine to overcome it; it will require a litte reſolution at firſt, but when you conſider the advantages it will procure, I am perſuaded the difficulty will appear trifling. Health and opportunity for improvement, reſult from an early hour; a pale face, languor, and ſlothfulneſs, are the penalties of lying long in bed. A too great proportion of ſleep is equally a ſpecies of intemperance with gluttony and drunkenneſs, and yet many a perſon, who would ſhudder at being accuſed of thoſe depravities, freely indulge themſelves in the former, from want of conſideration, ill example, and long habit; and by that means injure their conſtitution; and loſe a large portion of the active part of their lives. 133 N1r 133 lives. Perhaps the building of this grotto may be the fortunate means of accuſtoming you to wake at a proper hour, and when once you have uſed yourſelf to it, you will find it both pleaſant and profitable.
Augusta. You have convinced me of the advantage of riſing early, and I ſhall endeavour to be one of the firſt at the grove. Papa has lately given me a fine pearl necklace that was mamma’s: my governeſs tells me that they are not beads, but that they are found in oyſters. I thought I would enquire the next time we met, how they came there, as I ſuppoſe they are no part of the fiſh.
Mr. Harcourt. Many have been the conjectures of both ancient and modern writers concerning the production of pearls. Some have ſuppoſed them to proceed from a diſeaſe of the fiſh, but there ſeems to be a great ſimilarityN larity 134 N1v 134 larity between them, and what is found in crabs, called crabs-eyes, which are formed near the ſtomach of the animal, and ſerve as a reſervoir of calcareous matter againſt the forming of the new ſhell, at which time they are diſſolved, and depoſited for that purpoſe. As the internal part of the ſhell of the pearl, oyſter, or muſcle, conſiſts of mother pearl, which reſembles the material of pearl, and as the animal has annually occaſion to enlarge his ſhell, there is reaſon to ſuſpect that the looſe pearls are ſimilar reſervoirs of the pearly matter for that purpoſe. The fiſh, in which the pearls are found, is much larger than the common oyſter, and is called concha margaritifera. It abounds on the coast of Perſia, near Ormus, about Cape Comorin, and on the coaſt of the iſland of Ceylon. The oriental pearls are moſt valued on account of their largeneſs, colour, and beauty; but pearls are caught in the ſeas of the Eaſt-Indies, in thoſe of America, and in ſome parts of Europe. 135 N2r 135 Europe. At the commencement of the ſeaſon, which is in March and April, and again in Auguſt and September, there appear frequently two hundred and fifty barks on the banks; in the larger are two divers; in the ſmaller, one. Each bark puts off from ſhore before ſun-riſe, by a land-breeze which never fails, and returns again by a ſea-breeze, which ſucceeds it at noon. As ſoon as the barks have arrived at the place where the fiſh lie, and have caſt anchor, each diver binds a ſtone under his body, which is to ſerve him as ballaſt, and prevent his being driven away by the motion of the water, and alſo to enable him to walk more ſteadily among the waves. Beſides this they tie another heavy ſtone to one foot, in order to ſink them to the bottom of the ſea: and as the oyſters adhere ſtrongly to the rocks, they arm their fingers with leather gloves, or take an ironrake to diſplace them with. Laſtly, each diver carries with him a large net, tied to N2 his 136 N2v 136 his neck by a long cord, the other end of which is faſtened to the ſide of the bark. The net or ſack is intended to hold the oyſters he may collect, and the cord is to pull him up by, when his bag is full, or when he wants air. Thus equipped, he precipitates himſelf ſometimes above ſixty feet under water. As he has no time to loſe, as ſoon as he arrives at the bottom, he begins to tear the oyſters off the rocks, and cram them into his budget. At whatever depth the divers are, the light is ſufficient for them to ſee what paſſes around them, and ſometimes, to their great conſternation, they behold monſtrous fiſhes, from whoſe jaws they can eſcape only by mudding the water, and concealing themſelves by that means; although this artifice will not always ſave them from falling a prey to theſe formidable enemies. The beſt divers will remain under water near half an hour, during which time they hold their breath, without the uſe of oils, acquiring the 137 N3r 137 the habit by long practice; but the exertion is ſo violent, as generally to ſhorten the lives of thoſe who repeat it frequently. Beſides this method of diving, there is a way of deſcending in a diving bell, ſo contrived as to be repleniſhed often with freſh air, by means of air-barrels, which are let up and down by ropes.
Sophia. The dangers that the poor diver incurs, to obtain a mere bauble, for I ſuppoſe pearls are only uſed for ornaments, are far more dreadful than thoſe of the Greenland fiſhermen.
Mrs. Harcourt. The poor men, who encounter theſe dangers for a livelihood, do not conſider how trifling the value of the pearls is in itſelf, but what great advantages they can gain by the riſk. Single pearls have been ſold for immenſe ſums of money. Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, wore one as an earring, that Pliny has eſtimated at eighty thouſandN3 ſand 138 N3v 138 ſand pounds ſterling. The real value of pearls and diamonds is ſmall, becauſe they do not contribute to the ſupport or comfort of the life of man; but whilſt people of fortune will laviſh great ſums upon ſuch inſignificant things, there will always be found people whoſe neceſſities will impel them to obtain them at the riſk of their lives. It is time to ſeparate. Remember our appointment in the grove at ſix tomorrow morning.
Mr. Harcourt. Well ladies, how have you proceeded with your grotto? though I am not one of the party, I am intereſted in your ſucceſs.
Sophia. We go on very well indeed, Charles has drawn the plan, and mamma has given James 139 N4r 139 James leave to help my brother to dig the foundations; Auguſta and Cecilia are employed in ſorting and cleaning the ſhells and foſſils; they alſo have undertaken to collect pebbles, and gather moſſes, attended by little Henry, who carries a baſket to put them in; and I am very buſy in making artifical coral; thus we all take a ſhare. Mamma is ſo kind as to promiſe us a preſent of ſhells and ores, and if you pleaſe, you muſt contribute, by prouring us ſome glaſs cinders, or refuſe of the furnaces from the glaſs-houſe.
Mr. Harcourt. Moſt willingly ſhall I ſupply you with that, or any other thing you may want, to forward your deſign; but pray, can any of you inform me, of what ingredients glaſs is compoſed?
Charles. I think, Sir, you have told me that the principal articles in its compoſition are ſalt and ſand, or ſome kind of ſtone which anſwers 140 N4v 140 anſwers the ſame purpoſe; the ſalt muſt be of the fixed kind, ſuch as will not evaporate with the moſt intenſe heat, and is generally procured from the aſhes of a vegetable called kali, which is brought from the Levant. The ſand or ſtone, muſt be ſuch as will melt eaſily, which gives firmneſs and conſiſtence to the glaſs.
Mr. Harcourt. The beſt ſtone for this purpoſe, comes alſo from Italy, and is called tarſo. But ſand is now almoſt the only ſubſtance employed in the Britiſh manufactures of glaſs. The moſt ſuitable is that which is white, ſmall, and ſhining: when examined by the microſcope, it appears to be fragments of rock cryſtal; that which is of a ſoft texture, and more gritty, does very well for green glaſs. Our glaſs-houſes are furniſhed with white ſand for their cryſtal glaſſes, from Lynn in Norfolk, and Maidſtone in Kent; and with the coarſer, for green glaſs, from Woolwich; other ingredients are occaſionallycaſionally 141 N5r 141 caſionally mixed with theſe, according to the kind of glaſs required, ſuch as arſenic, manganaſe, lead, &c.
Mrs. Harcourt. Sophia, you have ſeen a glaſs-houſe, cannot you give ſome account of the operations performed there?
Sophia. There are three ſorts of furnaces uſed in the glaſs-works. After having properly mixed the aſhes and ſand together, they are put into the firſt furnace, where they are burned or calcined for a ſufficient time, and become what is called frit, which being boiled in pots or crucibles of pipemakers clay, in the ſecond furnace, is rendered fit for blowing.
Augusta. How very extraordinary that materials of ſo groſs and dirty a nature, ſhould ever become ſo beautiful and tranſparent as glaſs! By what is the alteration occaſioned?Mrs. 142 N5v 142
Mrs. Harcourt. The metamorphoſis, for it may well be termed ſo, is cauſed by the action of the fire, which when intenſe, vitrifies or turns them into glaſs. Sophia, go on with your account.
Sophia. The workman, who blows the glaſs, takes his blowing iron, which is a hollow tube about two feet and a half long, and dipping it in the melting-pot, turns it about: the metal ſticks to the iron like honey: he dips four times for every glaſs, and at every dip, rolls the end of his inſtrument, with the glaſs on it, on a piece of iron, over which is a veſſel of water, which by its coolneſs conſolidates the glaſs, and diſpoſes it to bind better with the next to be taken out of the pot. When he has got enough of matter on the inſtrument, he begins to blow gently through it, in the ſame manner as boys blow ſoap-ſuds through a pipe, and in order to give it a poliſh, he rolls it backwardswards 143 N6r 143 wards and forwards on a ſtone or marble: after blowing, and whirling the iron till he has formed the glaſs to the intended ſhape, he delivers it to the maſter workman to break off the collet, which is a little piece that flicks to the iron. In order to hollow it out, another workman thruſts in an iron inſtrument, and turns it round with a circular motion till it is ſufficiently enlarged. When it is perfectly formed, it is ſet on the lear or third furnace to anneal or harden; it is proper to add, that the ſtem, and the foot of a drinking glaſs, require each a diſtinct operation.
Mrs. Harcourt. Habit and long practice, enable theſe men to endure theſe ſcorching heats, which they receive directly in their faces, mouths, and lungs. They are always obliged to work in their ſhirts, with a broad brimmed ſtraw-hat on their heads, to preſerve their eyes from the exceſſive heat and light. They ſit in large wide wooden chairs, with long 144 N6v 144 long elbows, to which their inſtruments are hung. They work for ſix hours without intermiſſion, when they are relieved by another ſet of workmen, who take their places for the ſame ſpace of time.
Cecilia. Panes of glaſs for windows cannot ſurely be formed by blowing, pray how are they made.
Mr. Harcourt. The workman contrives to blow, and diſpoſe his glaſs ſo as to form a cylinder, which by frequently heating and working on a kind of earthen table, at length begins to open and unfold like a ſheet of paper, a previous notch or inciſion being made for that purpoſe in the cylinder of glaſs, and thus becomes flat; the table of glaſs is now nearly perfected, and requires nothing farther, but to be heated over again. When taken out, they lay it on a table of copper, from 145 O1r 145 from whence it is carried to the third furnace to anneal.
Henry. Pray explain the meaning of that word, I do not underſtand it.
Mr. Harcourt. It ſignifies to bake or harden; the firſt furnace in a glaſs-houſe is heated to an intenſe degree of heat, in order to fuſe or incorporate the ingredients; the ſecond is alſo heated ſufficiently to melt and vitrify the frit into a glaſſy ſubſtance; but the third is moderately heated, that it may perform the office of baking or hardening the work, when faſhioned to the ſhape it is to bear.
Henry. You have explained this ſo clearly, that I am no longer at a loſs to comprehend it.
Mr. Harcourt. There are two methods of making plates for looking-glaſſes; the one, by blowing them, O much 146 O1v 146 much in the ſame manner as they blow glaſs for windows, but on a larger ſcale. The other, caſting or running of them, which is generally practiſed in making large glaſſes. The French claim the honour of this invention. It was firſt propoſed to the French court in 16881688, by the Sieur Abraham Thevart. It is performed in nearly a ſimilar manner to the caſting of ſheetlead, and this method not only enables them to make glaſſes of more than double the ſize of any made by blowing, but alſo to caſt all kinds of borders, mouldings, &c. The furnaces for melting the materials of this manufacture are of enormous ſize, and thoſe for annealing the glaſſes when formed, ſtill larger. There are at leaſt twenty-four annealing furnaces or ovens, each above twenty feet long placed around a melting furnace. All theſe furnaces are covered over with a large ſhed, under which are likewiſe built forges and workhouſes for ſmiths, carpenters, and other artificers, who 147 O2r 147 who are continually employed in repairing and keeping in order the machines, furnaces, &c. as alſo apartments for theſe, and the workmen employed about the glaſs. So that the glaſs-houſe in the caſtle of St. Gobin, in the foreſt of Fere, in the Soiſſonois, celebrated for its excellence in this manufacture, appears more like a little city, than an aſſemblage of workmen’s ſheds. The inſides of the furnaces are lined with a ſort of baked earth, adapted to ſuſtain the action of fire, and the ſame earth ſerves alſo for melting-pots, ciſterns, &c. The ciſterns are about a yard long, and half as wide, they ſerve for the conveyance of liquid glaſs, which is drawn out of the meltingpots, to the caſting tables. When the matter is ſufficiently vitrified, refined, and ſettled, they fill the ciſterns, and leave them in the furnace, till they appear white through exceſſive heat. The table on which the glaſs is to be run, is of caſt iron. There is a curious machinery to remove the ciſternsO2 ſterns 148 O2v 148 ſterns from the furnaces to the table, which places them in an inclined poſition, ſo as to diſcharge a torrent of matter, like liquid fire, with which the table is preſently covered. As ſoon as the glaſs is come to a conſiſtence, they ſhove it off into the annealing furnace, with an iron raker as wide as the table, being aſſiſted by workmen on the other ſide of the furnace, who pull it to them with iron hooks.
Charles. I cannot imagine how they contrive to remove them in that burning ſtate, without either breaking the glaſſes, or hurting themſelves.
Mr. Harcourt. The ſurpriſing dexterity and quickneſs, with which they perform the different operations, is inconceivable to thoſe who have not been eye-witneſſes of that wonderful manufacture. The tiſors, or perſon’s employed in heating the large furnaces, run round the furnace in their ſhirts, withoutout 149 O3r 149 out the leaſt intermiſſion, with a ſpeed ſcarce inferior to that of the lighteſt courier; as they go along, they take two billets of wood, and throw them into the firſt furnace, and continuing their courſe, do the ſame for the ſecond. This they hold on uninterruptedly for ſix hours together. One would not expect, that two ſuch ſmall pieces of wood, which are conſumed in an inſtant, would maintain the furnace in the proper degree of heat, which is ſo great, that a large bar of iron, laid at one of the mouths of the furnace becomes red hot in leſs than half a minute. The proceſs of theſe glaſſes is now completed, except grinding, poliſhing, and foliating, or laying on of the quickſilver. The grinding of glaſs requires great nicety, when performed on glaſſes that are deſigned for teleſcopes, or other optical uſes. Plate or caſt glaſs is ground by placing it on a ſtone table, in ſuch a manner, that it cannot be ſhaken or O3 diſplaced, 150 O3v 150 diſplaced, and then by means of a wooden frame, another glaſs is rubbed backwards and forwards over it, with water and ſand between them, and thus by conſtant attrition their ſurfaces become ſmooth.
Mrs. Harcourt. Various are the uſes to which the ingenious invention of glaſs is applied; be ſides the different accommodations with which it ſupplies domeſtic wants, ſuch as windows, looking-glaſſes, and all the innumerable variety of veſſles that adorn our tables, and contribute to our convenience. Natural philoſophy is greatly aſſiſted by teleſcopes, microſcopes, magnifying glaſſes, &c. which enable us to view objects too minute ever to be examined by the naked eye. Many experiments in electricity, and on the properties of the air, the knowledge of which is called pneumatics, could not be performed without the aſſiſtance of glaſs. The eye-ſight of aged perſons, or thoſe who have a defective ſight, receive relief from 151 O4r 151 from ſpectacles, which they muſt have ſought in vain, without this invention. They were the fortunate diſcovery of a monk of Piſa in the year 12991299. Nor does it only ſerve for uſeful purpoſes: it alſo ſupplies us with various kinds of ornaments. Moſt of the precious ſtones are ſo well imitated by this compoſition, as to deceive the eye of thoſe, who are not critical judges.
Charles. Among the variety you have enumerated, you have omitted burning glaſſes, which are ſo contrived, that they draw the ſun’s rays into one point or focus, and are capable of ſetting fire to any thing that will burn. Some hiſtorians relate, that Archimedes, the celebrated mathematician of Syracuſe, invented glaſſes of this kind, ſo powerful, that they ſet fire to the Roman ſhips, beſieging Syracuſe, under the command of Marcellus, and deſtroyed the whole fleet. Thus the ingenuity and invention of one man 152 O4v 152 man was able to reſiſt and repel the united force of thouſands, under the command of the moſt accompliſhed general of his age and country.
Mr. Harcourt. Your hiſtorical anecdote is very ſuitably introduced, and is an eminent inſtance of the ſuperiority of wiſdom over brutal ſtrength.
Sophia. Has not the invention of the armonica ſome claim to be mentioned, before we diſmiſs this ſubject?
Mrs. Harcourt. I am not ſurpriſed it ſhould be recollected by a lover of muſic; but Sophia, you muſt not raiſe curioſity without ſatisfying it, perhaps ſome of the company may not know what an armonica is.
Sophia. The armonica is a muſical inſtrument, peculiar for the ſweetneſs of its tones, and conſiſts of glaſſes, of the ſhape of a globe, cut 153 O5r 153 cut in half. The whole ſet is fixed upon a ſpindle, and then played upon by turning them round with a wet finger.
Mr. Harcourt. This method of producing muſical ſounds, though firſt introduced among us by Mr. Puckeridge of Ireland, has been long ſince practiſed in Germany: and the Perſians have alſo a ſimilar invention, by ſtriking ſeven cups of porcelain, containing a certain quantity of water, with ſmall ſticks.
Cecilia. Among the other curioſities made of glaſs, give me leave to mention Rupert’s drops, which are formed ſomewhat in the ſhape of a pear, of green glaſs, and though they will bear the heavieſt ſtroke of a hammer without breaking, fly to pieces in a moment, if you break off the tip of the tail.
Henry. Pray what did they make windows of, before there was any glaſs? I can think of nothing 154 O5v 154 nothing that would keep out the cold, and be clear at the ſame time.
Mrs. Harcourt. Horn and oiled paper were the ſubſtitutes they were obliged to uſe. Glaſs-windows were not known in England till 11801180; and then were conſidered as a mark of great magnificence, ſuitable only to palaces, churches, &c. The Italians poſſeſſed this art firſt. The French learned it of them, and from thence it was brought into England. Venice for many years excelled all Europe in the fineneſs of its glaſſes: and in the thirteenth century, were the only people that had the ſecret of making cryſtal looking-glaſſes. The glaſs manufacture was firſt begun in England in 15571557. Glaſs plates were made at Lambeth, in 16731673, under the patronage of the Duke of Buckingham, who introduced this manufacture into England, with amazing ſucceſs. So that in a century we have attained the art in a degree, that rivals even the 155 O6r 155 the Venetians and are no longer obliged to be ſupplied with this article from foreign countries.
Augusta. What beautiful painted windows I have ſometimes obſerved in churches. There is one in Norwich cathedral, that is reckoned to be very finely painted, done by Mrs. Lloyd, who was the wife of one of the deans. Papa was acquainted with her, and he ſays ſhe added many other elegant accompliſhments to her ſkill in painting on glaſs.
Mrs. Harcourt. Remark how much better this lady’s leiſure was employed, than it would have been in idle diſſipation, or ſlothful indolence; her works remain a teſtimony of her induſtry and taſte, and will long preſerve her name from oblivion. The ancient manner of painting in glaſs was very ſimple, and conſiſted in the mere arrangement of pieces of glaſs of different colours, in ſome ſort of ſymmetry, and conſtituted 2 a ſpecies 156 O6v 156 a ſpecies of what we call moſaic work. In time, the taſte for this kind of work improved, and the art being found applicable to the adorning of churches and other public buildings, they found means of incorporating the colours with the glaſs itſelf, by expoſing them to a proper degree of fire, after the colours are laid on.
Mr. Harcourt. There is an eaſy method of painting ſmall pictures on glaſs, called back-painting, which requires but little ſkill, and produces a pretty effect. You muſt take a piece of crown glaſs, the ſize of the print you intend to paint, a metzotinto is the beſt adapted to the purpoſe: ſoak your print in clean water for forty-eight hours, if it be on very ſtrong, cloſe, hard gummed paper, but if on a ſoft ſpongy paper, two hours will be ſufficient; then lay the print between four ſheets of paper, two beneath it, and two above it, that the moiſture may be drawn out of it. In the mean while, 157 P1r 157 while, let the glaſs be warmed at the fire, then with a hogs-hair bruſh dipped in melted Straſburg turpentine, ſmear the glaſs ſmoothly and evenly. Lay the print upon the glaſs, rubbing it gently from one end to the other, that it may lie cloſe. With the finger rub off the paper from the backſide of the print, till nothing can be ſeen, but the print, like a thin film upon the glaſs, and ſet it aſide to dry. When it is well dried, varniſh it over with ſome white tranſparent varniſh, that the print may be ſeen through it, which is now fit for painting. Having prepared a variety of oil colours, which muſt be ground very fine, and tempered very ſtiff, lay ſuch colours on the tranſparent print as your fancy and taſte direct; the outlines of the print guiding the pencil, and it will produce a very pretty effect. You muſt be careful to lay on the colours thick enough to appear plainly through the glaſs. When your grotto is finiſhed, you may exerciſe yourſelves this P way, 158 P1v 158 way, and each one produce a picture, though much inferior to thoſe works that require the hand of an artiſt, yet affording amuſement for a leiſure hour, and varying the courſe of your occupations. Adieu, my dear children; I wiſh you repoſe and pleaſant dreams.
Henry. May I be allowed to chuſe a ſubject for this evening. I want to know what ſugar is made of. I heard Mr. Jenkins ſay it was a ſalt, and I think he muſt be miſtaken, for I cannot taſte the leaſt flavour of ſalt in it.
Mr. Harcourt. Chemically conſidered, he is in the right. Sugar is a ſweet, agreeable, ſaline juice expreſſed from many different kinds of 159 P2r 159 of vegetables. Carrots, parſnips, white and red beets yield ſugar, but the plant, from which the ſugar, that is generally uſed, is procured, is the ſugar-cane; a ſort of reed that grows in great plenty in both the East and West-Indies. Sophia, endeavour to give us a botanical definition of it.
Sophia. It is a genus of the triandria digynia claſs. Its characters are, that it has no empalement; but inſtead of it, a woolly down longer than the flower, that incloſes it. The flower is bivalve, the valves are oblong, acute pointed, concave, and chaffy. It has three hairs like ſtamina, the ends of the valves terminated by oblong ſummits; and an awl-ſhaped germen, ſupporting two rough ſtyles, crowned by ſingle ſtigmas, the germen becomes an oblong acute pointed feed, inveſted by the valves. It is cultivated in both the Indies for its juice, P2 which 160 P2v 160 which when boiled, affords that ſweet ſalt which is called ſugar.
Mr. Harcourt. The canes grow from eight to twenty feet high, they are jointed, and at each joint are placed leaves. They are propagated by cuttings, which are generally taken from the tops of the canes, juſt below the leaves; a deep ſoil, and light land are moſt ſuitable to the ſugar-plant, and the rainy ſeaſon is the proper time for planting it. The ground ſhould be marked out by a line, that the canes may be regularly diſpoſed, and at equal diſtances. The common method of planting them, is to make a trench with a hoe, which is performed by the hand; into this trench a negro drops the number of cuttings intended to be planted, which are planted by other negroes, who follow him: and the earth is drawn about the hills with a hoe.
Charles. I fancy agriculture is not ſo well underſtoodſtood 161 P3r 161 ſtood in the Indies, as it is in Europe: or they would make uſe of the plough in theſe operations; as it would perform the work both more expeditiouſly, and in a completer manner, than can be done by the hand. What length of time, and what multitudes of hands, would it occupy, to hoe up all the land in England, that is to be ſowed with corn every ſeaſon.
Mr. Harcourt. Horſes are very ſcarce in the Weſt-Indies eſpecially, and almoſt all laborious operations are performed by the hands of negro ſlaves.
Augusta. Are thoſe countries inhabited by negroes? I underſtood that they were the natives of Africa.
Mr. Harcourt. You were rightly informed, my dear, they are indeed natives of Africa, but ſnatched from their own country, friends, and connections, by the hand of violence, P3 and 162 P3v 162 and power. I am aſhamed to confeſs that many ſhips are annually ſent from different parts of England, particularly Briſtol and Liverpool, to the coaſt of Guinea, to procure ſlaves from that unhappy country, for the uſe of our Weſt-India iſlands, where they are ſold to the planters of ſugar-plantations, in an open market like cattle, and afterwards employed in the moſt laborious and ſervile occupations, and paſs the reſt of their lives in an involuntary and wretched ſlavery.
Sophia. How much my heart feels for them! How terrible muſt it be, to be ſeparated from one’s near relations! Parents perhaps divided from their children for ever; huſbands from their wives; brothers and ſiſters obliged to take an eternal farewel. Why do the kings of the African ſtates ſuffer their ſubjects to be ſo cruelly treated?Mrs. 163 P4r 163
Mrs. Harcourt. Many cauſes have operated to induce the African princes to become aſſiſtants in this infamous traffic, and inſtead of being the defenders of their harmleſs people, they have frequently betrayed them to their cruelleſt enemies. The Europeans have found the means of corrupting theſe ignorant rulers, with bribes of rum, and other ſpirituous liquors, of which they are immoderately fond. At other times they have fomented jealouſies, and excited wars between them, merely for the ſake of obtaining the priſoners of war for ſlaves. Frequently they uſe no ceremony, but go on ſhore in the night, ſet fire to a neighbouring village, and ſeize upon all the unhappy victims, who run out to eſcape the flames.
Cecilia. What hardened hearts muſt the captains of thoſe ſhips have. They muſt have becomecome 164 P4v 164 come extremely cruel, before they would undertake ſuch an employment.
Mrs. Harcourt. It is much to be feared that moſt of them, by the habits of ſuch a life, are become deaf to the voice of pity; but we muſt compaſſionate the ſituation of thoſe whoſe parents have early bred them to this profeſſion, before they were of an age to chuſe a different employment. But to reſume the ſubject of the negroes. What I have related, is only the beginning of their ſorrows. When they are put on board the ſhips, they are crouded together in the hold, where many of them moſtly die from want of air and room. There have been frequent inſtances of their throwing themſelves into the ſea, when they could find an opportunity, and ſeeking a refuge from their misfortunes in death. As ſoon as they arive in the Weſt-Indies, they are carried to a public market, where they are ſold to the beſt bidder, like horſes at our fairs. 165 P5r 165 fairs. Their future lot depends much upon the diſpoſition of the maſter, into whoſe hands they happen to fall, for among the overſeers of ſugar-plantations, there are ſome men of feeling and humanity; but too generally their treatment is very ſevere. Accuſtomed to an inactive indolent life, in the luxurious and plentiful country of Africa, they find great hardſhip from the tranſition, to a life of ſevere labour without any mixture of indulgence to ſoften it. Deprived of hope of amending their condition, by any courſe of conduct they can purſue, they frequently abandon themſelves to deſpair, and die, in what is called the ſeaſoning, which is becoming inured by length of time to their ſituation. Thoſe who have leſs ſenſibility and ſtronger conſtitutions, ſurvive their complicated miſery but a few years: for it is generally acknowledged that they ſeldom attain the full period of human life.Augusta. 166 P5v 166
Augusta. Humanity ſhudders at your account; but I have heard a gentleman, that had lived many years abroad, ſay, that negroes were not much ſuperior to the brutes, and that they were ſo ſtupid and ſtubborn, that nothing but ſtripes and ſeverity could have any influence over them.
Mr. Harcourt. That gentleman was moſt probably intereſted in miſleading thoſe with whom he converſed. People who argue in that manner, do not conſider the diſadvantages the poor negroes ſuffer from want of cultivation. Leading an ignorant ſavage life in their own country, they can have acquired no previous information: and when they fall into the hands of their cruel oppreſſors, a life of laborious ſervitude, which ſcarcely affords them ſufficient time for ſleep, deprives them of every opportunity of improving their minds. There is no reaſon to ſuppoſe that they differ from us in any thing 167 P6r 167 thing but colour, which diſtinction ariſes from the intenſe heat of their climate. There have been inſtances of a few, whoſe ſituation has been favourable to improvement, that have ſhewn no inferiority of capacity: and thoſe maſters, who neglect the religious and moral inſtruction of their ſlaves, add a heavy load of guilt to that already incurred, by their ſhare in this unjuſt and inhuman traffic.
Charles. My indignation ariſes at this recital. Why does not the Britiſh parliament exert its power, to avenge the wrongs of theſe oppreſſed Africans? what can prevent an act being paſſed to forbid Engliſhmen from buying and ſelling ſlaves?
Mr. Harcourt. Mr. Wilberforce, a name that does honour to humanity, has made ſeveral fruitleſs efforts to obtain an act for the abolition of this trade. Men intereſted in its continuance, have hithero fruſtrated his noble 168 P6v 168 noble deſign; but we may rely upon the goodneſs of that Divine Providence, that careth for all creatures, that the day will come, that their rights will be conſidered, and there is great reaſon to hope, from the light already caſt upon the ſubject, that the riſing generation will prefer juſtice and mercy, to intereſt and policy: and will free themſelves from the odium we at preſent ſuffer, of treating our fellowcreatures in a manner unworthy of them, and of ourſelves.
Mrs. Harcourt. Henry, repeat that beautiful apoſtrophe to a negro woman, which you learned the other day out of Mrs. Barbauld’s Hymns.
Henry. Negro woman, who ſitteſt pining in captivity, and weepeſt over thy ſick child, though no one ſeeth thee, God ſeeth thee; though no one pitieth thee, God pitieth thee. Raiſe thy voice, forlorn, and abandoned“doned 169 Q1r 169 doned one; call upon him from amidſt thy bonds, for aſſuredly he will hear thee.
Cecilia. I think no riches could tempt me to have any ſhare in the ſlave-trade. I could never enjoy peace of mind, whilſt I thought I contributed to the woes of my fellow-creatures.
Mr. Harcourt. But Cecilia, to put your compaſſion to the proof. Are you willing to debar yourſelf of the many indulgencies that we enjoy, that are the fruit of their labour? ſugar, coffee, rice, calico, rum, and many other things, are procured by the ſweat of their brow.
Cecilia. I would forego any indulgence to alleviate their ſufferings.
The reſt of the Children together.. We are all of the ſame mind.
Mrs. Harcourt. I admire the ſenſibility of your uncorruptedQ rupted 170 Q1v 170 rupted hearts, my dear children. It is the voice of nature and virtue. Liſten to it on all occaſions, and bring it home to your boſoms, and your daily practice. The ſame principle of benevolence which excites your juſt indignation at the oppreſſion of the negroes, will lead you to be gentle towards your inferiors, kind and obliging to your equals, and in a particular manner condeſcending and conſiderate towards your domeſtics; requiring no more of them, than you would be willing to perform in their ſituation; inſtructing them when you have opportunity; ſympathizing in their afflictions, and promoting their beſt intereſts when in your power.
Augusta. My governeſs forbids me ever to ſpeak to the ſervants, therefore I cannot ſhew them any kindneſs, without diſobeying her.
Mrs. Harcourt. Your governeſs ſhews her diſcretion in forbidding you to be familiar with the ſervants. Their want of education renders them 171 Q2r 171 them improper companions, but can never deprive them of their claim to our tenderneſs and good offices.
Mr. Harcourt. It is time to proceed in our account of the proceſs of preparing the juice of the ſugar-cane for uſe. When the canes are ripe, they are cut, and carried in bundles to the mill. The mills conſiſt of three wooden rollers, covered with ſteel plates, and are ſet in motion, either by water, wind, cattle, or even the hands of ſlaves. The juice being ſqueezed out of the canes, by the rollers, runs through a little canal into the ſugar-houſe, where it falls into a veſſel, from whence it itis conveyed into the firſt copper. With the liquor is mixed a quantity of aſhes and quick-lime, which ſerves to purify it, by raiſing up the unctuous matter in form of a ſcum to the top, which is ſkimmed off and given to poultry. This operation is performed five or ſix times, till the ſugar is ſufficiently purified, and become of a proper thickneſs to be Q2 convert- 172 Q2v 172 converted into the various kinds for uſe. It is then put into hogſheads, and ſent over to England to the care of the ſugarrefiners, whoſe buſineſs it is to complete the proceſs, by boiling it up with bullocks blood, in order to clear it. Sometimes whites of eggs are uſed for the ſame purpoſe. They add a little of the fineſt indigo to give it a good colour. It is boiled over again that the moiſt parts may evaporate. The next thing to be done is to fill the moulds, which are in the form of inverted cones. The rooms in which theſe moulds are placed, are heated to a ſuitable degree, to dry the ſugar they contain. When the loaves are fully dried, they are papered, and ſold to the grocer.
Henry. Are ſugar-candy and barley-ſugar made from the ſugar-cane? they are different from ſugar both in taſte and colour.
Mr. Harcourt. The material is the ſame, although the preparation varies. Sugar-candy, is ſugar cryſtal- 173 Q3r 173 cryſtallized. It is firſt diſſolved in a weak lime-water, then clarified, ſcummed, ſtrained through a cloth, and boiled. It is afterwards put into forms or moulds, that are croſſed with threads to retain the ſugar as it cryſtallizes. Theſe forms are ſuſpended in a hot ſtove, which is ſhut up, and the fire made very vehement. Upon this, the ſugar faſtens to the ſtrings that croſs the forms, and there hangs in little ſplinters of cryſtal. When the ſugar is quite dry, the forms are broken, and the ſugar is taken out candied. Red ſugarcandy is coloured, by pouring a little juice of the Indian fig into the veſſel, whilſt the ſugar is boiling. Barley-ſugar, is ſugar boiled till it is brittle, and then poured on a ſtone anointed with oil of ſweet almonds, and formed into twiſted ſticks. It ſhould be boiled up with a decoction of barley, whence it takes its name, they ſometimes caſt ſaffron into it, to give to it the bright amber colour.Q3 Mrs. 174 Q3v 174
Mrs. Harcourt. Sugar is a very uſeful commodity. It preſerves both animal and vegetable ſubſtances from putrefaction; and we are indebted to it, on this account, for all the variety of conſerves and ſweetmeats which adorn and enrich our repaſts. White ſugarcandy is used by miniature painters to prevent the colours from cracking, when mixed with gum arabic; and Henry need not be told how uſeful barley-ſugar is in coughs and hoarſeneſſes.
Mr. Harcourt. It is ſuppoſed, that although the ancients were acquainted with this plant, they were ignorant of our method of refining and preparing it. The firſt account we have of ſugar refiners in England, is in the year 16591659. Several other things are produced from the ſugar-cane. Treacle is the ſyrup that runs from the barrels of raw ſugar. Rum is diſtilled from the ſugar-cane.Charles. 175 Q4r 175
Charles. Is not arrack alſo made from ſugar?
Mr. Harcourt. It is ſometimes diſtilled from rice and ſugar, fermented with the juice of cocoanuts; but it is generally diſtilled from a vegetable juice called toddy, which flows by inciſion out of the cocoa-nut tree, like the birch juice procured among us for wine. The ſugar-houſe of a refiner is a large building, conſiſting of ſix or ſeven floors, and the utenſils neceſſary to perform the different operations, require the aid of various kinds of workmen. The pans, coolers, ciſterns, ſyrup-pipes, baſons, ladles, ſkimmers, and ſometimes the candy-pots are made of copper. Pipes, pumps, and ciſterns made of lead are alſo uſed. The iron-founder ſupplies bars of a triangular form to be laid under the pans; alſo the cockel, which is an iron trunk uſed to dry the goods in the ſtove, iron-doors, &c. The carpenter is required to furniſh racks, 2 troughs, 176 Q4v 176 troughs, ſtools, blocks, coolers, oars, &c. Tubs and backs to hold the lime-water, which contain from thirty to two hundred barrels, employ the back-maker. The wicker-work conſiſts of refining-baſkets, ſcum-baſkets, pulling up baſkets, coal and clay-baſkets, &c. Thus if we conſider the numbers employed in building the ſhips uſed in bringing over the ſugar, and in conveying the poor ſlaves from their own country; planters, overſeers, &c. we may ſuppoſe that we do not taſte a lump of ſugar that is not produced by the united labour of a thouſand hands.
Sophia. And yet we uſe the conveniencies of life in a careleſs waſteful manner, without reflecting one moment on the trouble neceſſary to procure them. May I relate the manner of obtaining the maple-ſugar, which ſome have endeavoured to introduce in the room of the produce of the ſugar-cane.Mrs. 177 Q5r 177
Mrs. Harcourt. By all means, it will give us pleaſure to hear it.
Sophia. The acer ſaccharinum, or the ſugar-mapletree, grows in great quantities in the weſtern countries of all the middle ſtates of the American Union. Theſe trees are generally found mixed with the beech, hemlock, white and water-aſh, the cucumber-tree, linden, aſpen, butter-nut, and wild cherrytrees. They grow only on the richeſt ſoils, and frequently in ſtony ground. Springs of the pureſt water abound in their neighbourhood. They are, when fully grown, as tall as the white and black oaks, and from two to three feet in diameter. They put forth a beautiful white bloſſom in the ſpring before they ſhew a ſingle leaf. The wood of the maple-tree is extremely inflammable. Its ſmall branches are ſo much impregnated with ſugar, as to afford ſupport to 178 Q5v 178 to the cattle, horſes, and ſheep of the firſt ſettlers, during the winter, before they are able to cultivate forage for that purpoſe. Its aſhes afford a great quantity of pot-aſh, exceeded by few of the trees that grow in the woods of the United States.. The tree is ſuppoſed to arrive at its full growth in twenty years. It is not injured by tapping, on the contrary, the oftener it is tapped, the more ſyrup it yields. The effects of a yearly diſcharge of ſap from the tree, in improving and increaſing the ſap, are demonſtrated from the ſuperior excellence of thoſe trees, which have been perforated in an hundred places, by a ſmall wood-pecker, which feeds upon the ſap. The method of obtaining the ſap, is by boring a hole in the tree, with an auger; a ſpout is introduced about half an inch into the hole, made by the auger. The ſap flows from four to ſix weeks, according to the temperature of the weather. Troughs are 179 Q6r 179 are placed under the ſpout to receive the ſap, which is carried every day to a large receiver, whence it is conveyed, after being ſtrained to the boiler. There are three modes of reducing the ſap to ſugar; by evaporation, by freezing, and by boiling, of which the latter is the moſt expeditious. The profit of this tree is not confined to its ſugar. It affords a moſt agreeable molaſſes, and an excellent vinegar. The ſap, which is ſuitable for theſe purpoſes, is obtained, after the ſap which affords the ſugar has ceaſed to flow, ſo that the manufactories of theſe different products of the maple-tree, by ſucceeding, do not interfere with each other. The molaſſes may be uſed to compoſe the baſis of a pleaſant ſummer beer. The ſap of the maple is moreover capable of affording a ſpirit. A tree ſo various in its uſes, if duly cultivated, may one day ſupply us with ſugar, and ſilence the arguments of the planters, 180 Q6v 180 planters, for a continuance of the ſlavetrade.
Mr. Harcourt. Very philoſophically obſerved. We thank you, for your entertaining account, and wiſh you good-night, as it is already paſt the uſual time of ſeparation.
Cecilia. I thank you, dear mamma, in the name of my brothers and ſiſter, for the pleasure you have given us, in allowing us to accept Farmer Dobſon’s invitation to his ſheep-ſhearing. We have paſſed a very agreeable afternoon, both from the civility of the honeſt farmer and his wife, and the novelty of the ſcene, which was very ſtriking to us, as we had never ſeen any thing of the kind before. It remindeded 181 R1r 181 ed me of Thomſon’s deſcription of a ſheep-ſhearing, which with your leave I will repeat.
Mrs. Harcourt. It will give me pleaſure to hear it, provided you are careful to ſpeak ſlow, diſtinct, and give every word its proper emphaſis.
Cecilia. In one diffuſive band, They drive the troubled flocks, by many a dog Compell’d, to where the mazy-running brook Forms a deep pool; this bank abrupt and high, And that fair-ſpreading in a pebbled ſhore, Urg’d to the giddy brink, much is the toil, The clamour much, of men, and boys, and dogs, Ere the ſoft fearful people to the flood Commit their woolly ſides. And oft the ſwain, On ſome impatient ſeizing, hurls them in: Embolden’d then, nor heſitating more, Faſt, faſt, they plunge amid the flaſhing wave, And, panting, labour to the fartheſt ſhore. Repeated this, till deep the well waſh’d fleece Has drunk the flood, and from his lively haunt R The 182R1v 182 The trout is baniſh’d by the ſordid ſtream; Heavy, and dripping, to the breezy brow Slow move the harmleſs race: where, as they ſpread Their ſwelling treaſures to the ſunny ray, Inly diſturb’d, and wondering what this wild Outrageous tumult means, their loud complaints The country fill; and, toſs’d from rock to rock, Inceſſant bleatings run around the hills. At laſt, of ſnowy white, the gathered flocks Are in the wattled pen innumerous preſs’d, Head above head; and rang’d in luſty rows, The ſhepherds ſit, and whet the ſounding ſhears. The houſewife waits to roll her fleecy ſtores, With all her gay-dreſs’d maids attending round. One, chief, in gracious dignity enthron’d, Shines o’er the reſt, the paſtoral queen, and rays Her ſmiles, ſweet beaming, on her ſhepherd king; While the glad circle round them yield their ſouls To feſtive mirth, and wit that knows no gall. Meantime, their joyous taſk goes on apace: Some mingling ſtir the melted tar; and ſome, Deep on the new ſhorn vagrant’s heaving ſide To ſtamp his maſter’s cypher ready ſtand; Others th’ unwilling wedder drag along; And, glorying in his might, the ſturdy boy Holds by the twiſted horns th’ indignant ram. Behold, where bound, and of its robe bereft, By 183R2r 283 By needy man, that all-depending lord, How meek, how patient, the mild creature lies! What ſoftneſs in its melancholy face, What dumb complaining innocence appears! Fear not, ye gentle tribes, ’tis not the knife Of horrid ſlaughter that is o’er you wav’d; No, ’tis the tender ſwain’s well-guided ſhears, Who having now, to pay his annual care, Borrow’d your fleece, to you a cumbrous load, Will ſend you bounding to your hills again.
Mrs. Harcourt. Tolerably well repeated; a general acquaintance with the beſt Engliſh poets, united with a retentive memory and graceful enunciation, will furniſh the rare and delightful accompliſhment of repeating ſelected paſſages, which may ſupply an elegant amuſement for the vacant hour of domeſtic leiſure, and prevent that laſſitude ſo frequently complained of at home, and which compels many to ſeek a refuge from themſelves in diſſipation and faſhionable pleaſure.R2 Sophia. 184 R2v 184
Sophia. My time is ſo variouſly filled up, that I never experience that weariſomeneſs.
Mrs. Harcourt. A well choſen ſucceſſion of employments, is the beſt antidote againſt ennui, as it is termed by the French, or liſtleſſneſs. Reading, drawing, natural hiſtory in its different branches, ſimple mathematics, experimental philoſophy, with various other rational purſuits, are admirably calculated to fill up the leiſure hours of perſons in eaſy circumſtances, whoſe duties or buſineſs afford them opportunity for ſuch ſtudies.
Mr. Harcourt. It is a juſt obſervation that none but the idle want employment. The active mind collects amuſement from the moſt trifling events. Cannot a ſheep-ſhearing ſupply us with a hint for the ſubject of our preſent converſation? Sophia, endeavour to 185 R3r 185 to entertain us with the natural hiſtory of the ſheep.
Sophia. Sheep, according to Linnæus are of the order of pecora, and make a diſtinct genus, the characters which diſtinguiſh them, are that their horns are hollow, bent backward, wreathed, and crooked, and ſcabrous. They have eight cutting teeth in the lower jaw, but none in the upper, and no canine teeth. The wool of theſe animals conſiſts only of long ſlender hairs, much twiſted, and variouſly interwoven with one another. This cloathing is peculiar to the ſheep kind, ſo far as is yet known, no other animal having been diſcovered with a ſimilar covering; neither is it poſſeſſed by all the ſpecies of ſheep, ſome of thoſe of the diſtant nations have ſhort hair like that of the goat.
Mr. Harcourt. In addition to your general account of the ſheep, I will enumerate the ſpecies, and their peculiarities, which according to R3 the 186 R3v 186 the ſame great maſter of natural arrangement, Linnæus, are three; firſt the ovis aries, or ram ſheep, which comprehends many varieties, ſuch as the common ſheep, with large horns twiſting ſpirally and outwardly: the hornleſs ſheep, with the tail hanging down to the knees; this kind is common in many parts of England. The Spaniſh, or many horned ſheep, having uſually three horns, and ſometimes four or five. This ſort of ſheep is frequent in Iceland, Siberia, and other northern countries. The African ſheep, which has ſhort hair like that of the goat. And the broad-tailed ſheep, which is common in Syria, Barbary, and Ethiopia. The tails of theſe are ſo long, as to trail upon the ground, and the ſhepherds are obliged to put boards with ſmall wheels under them, to keep them from galling. Theſe tails are eſteemed a great delicacy, being of a ſubſtance between fat and marrow; they ſometimes weigh fifty pounds each. The broad-tailed ſheep are alſo found in 187 R4r 187 in the kingdom of Thibet, and their fleeces are equal to thoſe of Caramania in fineneſs, beauty, and length. The Cackemirians engroſs this article, and have factors in all parts of Thibet, for buying up the wool, which they work up into thoſe elegant ſhawls, that are brought into this counry from the Eaſt-Indies, and this manufacture ſupplies them with a conſiderable ſource of wealth. The ſecond ſpecies is the ovis Guinienſis, commonly called the Angola ſheep. They are long legged and tall, and their ears hang down, the horns are ſmall, and bending down to the eyes. The neck is adorned with a long mane, the hair of the reſt of the body is ſhort, and it has wattles on the neck. The third ſpecies is the ovis ſtrepſiciros, or Cretan ſheep, with horns quite erect, twiſted like a ſcrew, and beautifully furrowed on the outſide. This kind is common in Hungary, and large flocks of them are found on Mount Ida, in Crete. The manners of 188 R4v 188 of this animal are naturally harmleſs and timid; it threatens by ſtamping with its foot, but its only reſiſtance is by butting with its horns. It generally brings one young one at a time, ſometimes two, and rarely three. It is a valuable animal to the farmer, as it is kept at the leaſt expence of any, and will thrive upon almoſt any paſture ground, not particularly wet; a conſtant damp cauſes them to rot.
Mrs. Harcourt. Almoſt every part of it may be applied to ſome uſeful purpoſe. The fleſh is a delicate and wholeſome food. The ſkin, when dreſſed, forms different parts of our apparel, as ſhoes and gloves; it is alſo uſed for covers of books. The entrails, properly prepared and twiſted, are uſed in clocks, and various muſical inſtruments. The bones calcined, form materials for teſts for the refiner. The milk is thicker than that of cows, and conſequently yields a greater quantity, in proportion, of butter and cheeſe; 189 R5r 189 cheeſe: and even the dung is uſeful as a rich manure; but the moſt valuable part of all is the fleece, or wool, which when waſhed, ſhorn, dreſſed, combed, ſpun, and wove, makes a vaſt variety of ſtuffs and cloths, ſuitable both for cloathing and furniture, and was ſo highly valued by the ancients for its utility, as to have given riſe to the ſtory of the golden fleece, which I requeſt the favour of Charles to relate.
Charles. The ancients, always fond of fables, concealed the ſimpleſt events, under the appearance of ſome extraordinary ſtory. Jaſon, ſon of Æſon, king of Theſſaly, ſailed in the firſt large ſhip (called Argo) to fetch the golden fleece from Colchis. Fiftyfour brave Theſſalians accompanied him in his expedition, and from the name of the veſſel are called Argonauts. Their object is ſuppoſed to have been the eſtabliſhment of a profitable trade in wool, in which that country excelled. The difficultiesculties 190 R5v 190 culties he met with in his undertaking, and which he overcame by his prudence, are repreſented by the fable of a dragon. that guarded the fleece, and which he is ſaid to have killed by the aſſiſtance of Medea, an enchantreſs. The education this prince had received from Chiron, the centaur, famous for his arts and learning, had fitted him for cultivating commerce, and promoting uſeful diſcoveries. Jaſon at length reigned, and died peacably at Colchis.
Sophia. Another proof of the high veneration that was paid to the inventors of the woollen manufacture, is, that the art of preparing it was attributed to Minerva, the goddeſs of wiſdom, and the protectreſs of the uſeful arts.
Cecilia. We have been entertainmed with the hiſtory of the ſheep, and a general account of its uſes; but I am very deſirous of knowinging 191 R6r 191 ing the manner of working wool, and rendering ſo rough a material fit for the purpoſes of ſpinning and weaving fine cloth.
Mrs. Harcourt. Various are the operations it undergoes, before it is in a proper ſtate for the purpoſes you mention. The fleeces, when taken out of the bales in which they are packed after ſhearing, muſt be ſcoured; when the wool has continued long enough in the liquor to diſſolve and looſen the greaſe, it is taken out, and well waſhed and dried; it is then beat with rods, on hurdles of wood, to clear it of the duſt and groſſer filth. The next thing is to pick it, and oil it with oil of olives. It is now given out to the ſpinners, who firſt card it on the kneel; that is, paſs it between the points or teeth of two inſtruments, ſomething like a curry-comb, called cards, to diſentangle it, and prepare it for ſpinning, which is an operation too common to need deſcription. The thread, or worſted being ſpun, reeled, and made into 192 R6v 192 into ſkeins, is ready for the hand of the weaver, who begins his work by putting the warp, or threads, the long way of the piece, into the loom, which he ſtiffens with ſize before he forms the woof, which is done by throwing the thread with a ſhuttle across the warp, till the work be finiſhed; when it is to be cleared of all knots, &c. and carried to the fuller to be ſcoured and cleanſed, ready for dying; after it is dyed, it is preſſed and prepared for ſale. Different kinds of goods require variation in the proceſs, according to the kind of ſtuff intended to be made.
Augusta. Wool is applied to a vaſt many different purpoſes, what are the principal manufactures in which it is employed?
Mr. Harcourt. Let Henry endeavour to enumerate the things that we uſe, that are made of wool.Henry. 193 S1r 193
Henry. Broad cloths for men’s coats, flannel, blankets, carpets, rugs, caps, ſtockings, and various kinds of ſtuffs.
Cecilia. All ſtockings are not knitted, how are the others made?
Mr. Harcourt. They are wove in a machine, called a ſtocking-frame, very ingeniouſly contrived, but too complex to give you any idea of it by deſcription. Wool is the ſtaple commodity of this iſland, and forms the principal article in our foreign and domeſtic trade. The yearly produce of wool in England, towards the cloſe of the laſt century, was calculated at two millions ſterling, and conſequently it gives employment to a vaſt number of hands. A pack, or two hundred and forty pounds weight of ſhort wool, is computed to employ ſixty-three perſons a week, to manufacture it into cloths: and when it is made into ſtuffs or S ſtockings, 194 S1v 194 ſtockings, it employs a much greater number.
Charles. The working of wool is doubtleſs an invention of great antiquity; but how long has it been introduced into England?
Mr. Harcourt. It may be ſaid to have riſen into notice about the fourteenth century. King Edward the third introduced the fine woollen manufacture from the Netherlands. Queen Elizabeth greatly improved the ſtate of this manufacture by her patronage, in which ſhe received conſiderable aſſiſtance from the troubles in the low countries, excited by the ſeverity of the Duke of Alva, and the Spaniſh inquiſition, on account of religion, which drove numbers of manufacturers to take ſhelter in England, where they enjoyed protection and encouragement to ſettle. Contraſt the conduct of Elizabeth and the Duke of Alva. The one cheriſhed the uſeful arts, and diffuſed happineſs 195 S2r 195 happineſs and wealth among her people; the other, from a gloomy ſuperſtition, deprived his country of uſeful manufacturers, and obliged them to take refuge in the dominions of his rival, which they enriched by their labours and ſkill.
Mrs. Harcourt. Nature is an excellent inſtructreſs. From the nautilus men learned the art of ſailing. From the ſpider they are ſuppoſed to have been taught the art of weaving. Attention to natural objects will probably ſupply new diſcoveries, which are now unthought of.
Charles. What country produces the fineſt wool?
Mr. Harcourt. The wool of Aſia excels that of Europe. Of the European, none is more valued than the Spaniſh and the Engliſh. Spain is famous for its breed of ſheep, they have frequently ten thouſand in a flock, under S2 the 196 S2v 196 the care of fifty ſhepherds, who are ſubſervient to the authority of one man.
Henry. I think I ſhould like to be a ſhepherd, it muſt be an eaſy pleaſant life.
Mrs. Harcourt. They generally paſs their time in a very indolent uſeleſs manner; though ſome in the north of England knit ſtockings, yet it appears to me, that a better plan of employment might be ſuggeſted for them, without interfering with their principal occupation. Thoſe who could read and write, might keep a regiſter of the weather, and make obſervations upon the natural objects that preſented themſelves to their view, which might be a means of promoting uſeful knowledge.
Charles. Is it not the cuſtom for the lord chancellor, the judges, and maſters in chancery, to be ſeated on woolpacks, in the houſe of Lords?Mr. 197 S3r 197
Mr. Harcourt. That is a cuſtom not very eaſy to be account for, unleſs it is to remind them of protecting and maintaining the woollen manufactures of this country.
Mrs. Harcourt. It is time to put an end to our converſation. Supper is ready. Good night, Children.
End of the First Volume.
Juſt Publiſhed Price One Shilling and Six-pence, half- bound, with Vellum Back. Leisure Hours, or Entertaining Dialogues, Between perſons Eminent for Virtue and Magnanimity. The Characters drawn from Ancient and Modern Hiſtory, deſigned as Leſſons of Morality for Youth.
In the Preſs, and ſoon will be published,The second volume of Mental Improvement.