Изображения страниц

main. A load of anxiety was removed from his mind at that moment. He had left his companions in a destitute state, without shelter, or arms, or provision beyond the present day. He had not received any tidings of them : it was impossible he should ; and a hundred times during his journey home, he had pictured to himself the settlement as he might find it. Sometimes he fancied it deserted by all who had strength to betake themselves to the distant villages : sometimes he imagined it wasted by famine, and desolated by wild beasts or more savage men. At such times, he thought how little probable it was that one so infirm as his mother should survive the least of the hardships that all were liable to ; and though he confided in the captain's parting promise to take care of her, he scarcely expected to meet her again. Now, he had seen her with his own eyes; and he saw also, that the general appearance of the throng before him was healthful and gladsome, and his heart overflowed with joy.

o God bless you, God bless you all !” he cried, as he pushed his way through the crowd which had outstripped his mother and the captain.

16 Let him go; do not stop him," exclaimed several who saw his eagerness to be at his mother's side: and they turned away and patted the oxen, and admired the waggon, till the embrace was received, and the blessing given, and Richard at liberty to greet each friend in turn.

6. Tell me first,” said he in a low voice to Mr. Stone, “are all safe? Have all lived through such a time as you must have had of

[ocr errors]

"" All but one. We have lost George Prest. We could ill spare him ; but it was God's will.”

· Richard looked for George's father, who appeared to be making acquaintance with the oxen, but had only turned away to hide the tears which he could not check. Richard wrung his hand in silence, and was not disposed for some time to go on with his tale or his questions.

The first thing he wanted to know was, where and how his friends were living.

Gor You shall see presently,” said the captain. And as they turned round the foot of the hill, he did see a scene which astonished him. Part of the slope before him, rich with summer verdure, was inclosed with a rude fence, within which two full-grown and three young antelopes were grazing. In another paddock were the grey mare and her foal. Across the sparkling stream at the bottom of the slope lay the trunk of a tree which served as a foot-bridge. On the other side, at some little distance, was the wood, in its richest beauty. Golden oranges shone among the dark green leaves, and vines were trained from one stem to another. On the outskirts of the wood were the dwellings, overshadowed by the oaks and chestnuts which formed their corner posts. Plastered with clay, and rudely thatched, they might have been taken for the huts of savages, but for their superior size, and for certain appearances round them which are not usual among uncivilized people. A handmill, made of stones, was placed under cover beside one of the dwellings ; a sort of work-bench was set up under one of the trees, where lay the implements of various employments

which had been going on when the arrival of the waggon had called every one from his work. The materials for straw-platting were scattered in the porch, and fishing-nets lay on the bank of the stream to dry. The whole was canopied over with the bluest of summer skies.' Dark mountains rose behind.

or. We are just in time to shew you our village before sunset,” said the captain, observing how the last level rays were glittering on the stream.

6o And is this our home?” said Richard, in quiet astonishment. “ Is this the bare, ruined place I left five months ago? Who has helped you? Your own hands can never have done all this.”

6"Nature,-or He who made nature, --- has given us the means," replied the captain : “and our own hands have done the rest. Welldirected labour is all we have had to depend on.”

6«Wonderful !” cried Richard. « The fields are tilled "

666 By simple, individual labour. There can be little combination in tillage on a small scale, where different kinds of work must succeed each other, instead of being carried on at the same time.”

«« These houses and so many utensils " co Are the produce of a division of labour as extensive as our resources would allow."

««. There must have been wise direction as well as industrious toil.”

666 Yes," said Mr. Stone, smiling, “ we have been as fortunate in our unproductive as in our productive labourers.” No. I. pp. 99—103.

We must make room for a short extract from Demerara ': it will require no comment. ·

66. I have always wondered,” said Mary, “ why there was no sugar grown in Africa, or in any part of South America but the little angle we inhabit. So it might be anywhere within that line.”

666 Anywhere (as far as climate is concerned) within thirty degrees of the equator. There are duties which prohibit the English from purchasing sugar from China, New Holland, the Indian Archipelago, Arabia, Mexico, and all South America, but our little corner" here ; and from Africa none is to be had either. The slave trade has been like a plague in Africa.”

66 Well, but you have passed over Hindostan.”

««« The trade is not absolutely prohibited there; but it is restricted and limited by high duties.” our What remains then?”

« Only our corner of the world, and a tiny territory it is, to be protected at the expense of such vast tracts-only the West India Islands, and a slip of the continent.”

«« But surely it is a hardship on the inhabitants of these other countries, to be prevented supplying the British with sugars.”

««. It is a hardship to all parties in turn :-to the British, that the price is artificially raised, and the quantity limited ; to the inhabitants of these vast tracts, they are kept out of the market ; to the West India planters; but most of all, to the slaves.”

«« To the planters? Why, I thought it was for their sakes that the monopoly was ordered.”

o« So it is; but they suffer far more than they gain by it. The cultivation of sugar is at present a forced cultivation, attended with expense and hazard, and only to be maintained by a monopoly price, both high and permanent.

« Look at Mitchelson's plantation, and see whether its aspect is that of a thriving property! A miserable hoe, used by men and women with the whip at their backs, the only instrument used in turning up the soil, while there are such things in the world as drill ploughs and cattle! A soil exhausted more and more every year! A population decreasing every year, in a land and climate most favourable to increase! Are these signs of prosperity? Yet all these are the consequence of a monopoly which tempts to the production of sugar at all hazards, and at every cost.”

r«s I see how all these evils would disappear, brother, if the trade were free ; but could the proprietors stand the shock? Could they go through the transition?”

6- O yes; if they chose to set about it properly, living on their own estates, and making use of modern improvements in the management of the land. If the soil were improved to the extent it might be, the West Indies might compete with any country in the world. The planter would estimate his property by the condition of his land, and not by the number of his slaves. He would command a certain average return from the effective labour he would then employ, instead of the capricious and fluctuating profits he now derives from a species of labour which it is as impolitic as guilty to employ; and, as the demand for sugar would continually increase, after the effects of free competition had once been felt, there would be no fear of a decline of trade. A soil and climate like this are sufficient warrants that the West Indies may trade in sugar to the end of the world, if a fair chance is given by an open trade.”

- Then if economy became necessary, there would be no slaves; for it is pretty clear that slave labour is dear.”

co Slavery can only exist where men are scarce in proportion to land ; and as the population would by this time have increased, and be increasing, slavery would have died out. At present, land is abundant, fertile, and cheap in Demerara, and labour decreases every year; so that slaves are valuable, and their prospect of emancipation but distant. But in my estate, as I have told you, the land is by far less, fertile, labour more abundant, and slavery wearing out. My exertions will be directed towards improving my land, and increasing the supply of labour ; by which I shall gain the double advantage of procuring labour cheap, and hastening the work of emancipation. I hope no new monopoly will be proposed, which should tempt me to change my plan, and aid and abet slavery." No. IV. pp. 96-99.

Assuredly, when political economy comes to be better understood, there will be no such thing under a civilized Government, as slavery. We cordially thank the Author for her illustration of this truth.

Art. V. l. Gleanings in Natural History; with local Recollections.

By Edward Jesse, Esq. Deputy Surveyor of His Majesty's Parks.
To which are added, Maxims and Hints for an Angler. Small

8vo. pp. xii. 314. Price 10s. 6d. London, 1832. 2. Researches in Natural History. By John Murray, F.S.A. F.L.S.

F.H.S. F.G.S. &c. Second Edition, 12mo. pp. 146. 6s. Lon

don, 1830. 3. The Minstrelsy of the Woods; or Sketches and Songs connected

with the Natural History of some of the most interesting British and Foreign Birds. By the Author of « The Wild Garland,” &c.

12mo. pp. 228. London, 1832. 4. An Outline of the smaller British Birds, intended for the Use of

Ladies and Young Persons. By Robert A. Slaney, Esq. M.P.

12mo. pp. 144. London, 1832. N OW is the season when flowers seem to have taken wings,

and all the colours of the parterre are seen glistening in the sunshine and in motion over the yet unmown meadows and the sedgy waters ;—when butterflies as blue as blue-bells, or primrose-coloured, or flaunting in still gayer dyes, are to be seen in pairs frolicking among the tall, feathered grasses; and dragonflies, green, and light blue, and dark blue, and red, and fleshcoloured are seen hawking in little parties, imitating the voracity of birds of prey ;—when caterpillars of all sorts and sizes put on their velvet garb of many colours, and make young entomologists wonder what beautiful kind of fly the gay worm will turn to ; and when we begin to find the leaves of our shrubs rolled up and glued together for insect nests, or sewn into tents,—when the upholsterer bee, and the carpenter ant, and the paper-maker wasp, and the aëronaut spider are all pursuing their respective crafts with diligence. By the way, Mr. Murray has devoted two chapters of his ‘Researches' to the subject of the ascent of the spider; a phenomenon which, he thinks, will ultimately be found connected with the meteorology of the atmosphere. The manner in which some spiders carry on their operations, favours the idea of such a connexion. The spider would seem to be, in fact, a sort of insect barometer.

. If the weather is likely to become rainy, windy, or the like, the spider fixes the terminating threads by which the entire web is suspended, unusually short, and in this state awaits the impending change. On the other hand, if these threads are discovered to be long, we may conclude that it will be in that ratio serene, and continue so for about a week or more. If spiders be completely inactive, rain will likely follow; but if, during the prevalence of rain, their wonted activity is resumed, it may be considered as of short duration, and to be soon followed by fair and constant weather. It has been also observed, that


spiders regularly make some alterations in their webs every twentyfour hours ; and we feel persuaded that this is the case : if these changes are observed between 6 and 7 o'clock, P.M., they indicate a clear and pleasant night. It is really interesting to observe, in a fine summer's day, the threads that fan and flutter in the breeze from the trees and hedges; and they are often stretched across the road from hedge-row to hedge-row, particularly in a morning or evening. Murray, p. 32.

The gossamer-spider, or, as our Author proposes to denominate it, aranea aëronautica, is a distinct and peculiar species, and its ascent and movement in the air are essential to its existence. Other species of this extensive family will endure close confinement, and not merely prison allowance, but total deprivation of food for months, and even years, and yet survive. Some prefer to carry on the labours of the loom in deserted halls and galleries, in warm nooks and dark corners; and other species construct for themselves subterranean cells and sub-aqueous abodes. But this free tenant of the air, we are assured, is so impatient of confinement, that it will die, when imprisoned, sometimes within twenty hours, or, at most, in a few days. The principle by which its ascent is effected, is a controverted point. The Author of the “Natural History of Insects” in the Family Library, remarks, that though the insect itself is heavier than air, the thread which it spins is lighter; and that this is its balloon. The Author of the ingenious little volume entitled " Art in Nature,” repeats this statement, but adds by way of explanation, that the thread buoys up the insect itself, as the tail of a kite does the

body. This is, however, a very different principle from that of the balloon. Mr. Murray states, that the thread is not specifi

cally lighter than the air, but, on the contrary, so much heavier, that it immediately falls to the ground, unless electrified, when it

floats, or is borne up by some other buoyant principle. There are two distinct phenomena connected with this little aëronaut,' which appear to be independent of each other. One is the principle by which it ascends; the other, its power of propelling its threads into the air. Both have been doubted. Swammerdam and De Geer ridiculed the idea of the flight of spiders ; and the Author of "Insect Architecture” follows Mr. Blackwall in expressing his firm belief, that the spider “cannot throw out a single - inch of thread without the aid of a current of air.' Mr. Murray's observations on this subject, first appeared in Loudon's Magazine of Natural History; and they are referred to by Mr. Rennie in the “ Insect Architecture", but controverted. In his present volume, Mr. Murray takes the opportunity of defending his opinions in a rejoinder. We find him citing the authority of Aristotle in support of the opinion, that "spiders cast their - threads, not from within, as an excrement, as Democritus would “have it, but from without, as a histrix doth its quills. It is

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »