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The Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) online

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vicinity : the word brea being the Spanish one
for tar or pitch. Before landing, in our ap-
proach, the pitchy characteristics of the place
were obvious both to sight and smell ; and not
the less perceptibly so as to the latter, for a
strong bituminous odor was perceptible to us,
when at a distance of some hundred yards off.
The landing place is situated at the apex of a
bluff point, the shore of which exhibited not
only large and small fragments of asphaltum,
but extensive strata of it traversed the beach,
as they ran into the sea, forming large banks
of it, which, from their bulk and form at the
margin of the water, evidently extended to a
considerable distance from the shore. At some
distance, it has, at low water, as was the case
when we landed, the appearance of a more
than ordinary huge whale when stranded — a
sight which I have witnessed ; or it is not
unlike some of the embankments along the
coast of Holland. Here we called on a Spaniard,
who, with his large family resided in the vil-
lage, and were by him very kindly received
and recaled with coffee, the usual early ante-
meridian refreshment of the day. He sailed a
drogher, or small coasting vessel, between La
Brea and Port of Spain, and kept a small
store or shop, for the supply of necessaries to
the planters of the vicinity, and acted besides
as a sort of agent to them. The village is small,
consisting of a score or so of huts, and having
only one or two dwellings, entitled to the ap-
pellation of house, and that by rather straining
the term in its application. It is the shipping-
place of the district, for the produce manufac-
tured on about a dozen sugar-plantations. The
inhabitants are either tradesmen or labourers,
who work for the planters in the neighbour-
hood ; or persons who gain a livelihood as fish-
ermen. It did not take us long to survey the
aspect and local merits of this place. The soil
on which these dwellings are built, is a mixture
of alluvial earth and asphaltum; a circumstance
which, although it creates no sort of alarm in



the minds of the inhabitants, is yet rather
unfavourable to the perpendicular of their
buildings.

In our ramble. Muscovado was jocular at the
expense of the good people whose lot had been
cast in this most unsavoury abode : he said
that " they had pitched upon a bad site, and
that their doings therefore never could be tip-
right.'^ In truth, not one of the house of La
Brea was without considerable aberration
from that usually considered import requisite
in architecture. They were erected on posts
or stakes, driven into the soil ; and these being
liable to be affected by the capricious move-
ment of the pitch, they were in consequence
some tending with a list in one direction,
some in another, while all were more or less
injured by the vagaries and ups and downs of
the locality.

* # * » *

Although the evils of these motive propen-
sities are not necessarily dangerous to the
lives of the occupants of the dwellings of La
Brea, from the materials used in their con-
struction being wood ; yet, evidently, great
inconvenience is produced. They are in fre-
quent want of fresh support — propping and
repair — and it is no uncommon thing for an
occupier to be obliged to hang his doors and
windows afresh, to ensure their opening and
shutting. It is quite of frequent occurrence,
for persons closing their doors, on getting up
in the morning, to find themselves prisoners,
from a sudden lurch of their tenements, hav-
ing, during the night, distorted the joinings of
the frame-work of their houses, and etTectualiy
jammed up all egress, until the carpenter can
be summoned. * * * *

Having made our observations on the vil-
lage of La Brea, our party struck into the
high road, and proceeded in a southerly direc-
tion for the pitch lake, where we arrived after
a walk of nearly a mile. * * *

The pitch lake, as viewed from its northern
side, presents a vast field of solid asphaltum,
with the exception of a small portion near the
centre, which is more or less liquid ; one can
walk with perfect safety over all of it but that
liquid part, on stepping on the edge of which
one is admonished by its progressive sinking,
to retrace his way. It is perfectly fiat, and
on an exact level with its embankment. Its
form is nearly that of an oval, a mile and a
half in length, and a mile in breadth, as far as
I could ascertain, without actual measure-
ment. It may be likened in appearance to an
extensive field of ice during a rapid thaw, or to
a vast expanse of drossy melted lead inter-
sected by numerous streaks of the clear metal
ramifying it throughout; those streaks would
represent a multitude of chasms in the lake,
from two to six or seven feet in depth, running



along its surface in all directions, and aUvays
filled with limpid water to their very brink.
The sides of these chasms are formed thus -v,
showing clearly that the asphaltum of which
they are composed has hardened from a state
sulhciently liquid for motion. On a frag-
ment of the pitch being broken, it exhibits
in its interior an almost perfectly black co-
lour.

The pitch lake has at different times been
visited by men of considerable talent, for its
accurate investigation ; but unfortunately for
science, their stay on the spot has not been
sufficiently long to allow, I should think, its
startling effect upon their mind to subside, and
to allow place for calm reflection, and the
consequent acquirement of those accurate data
so indispensable to its satisfactory description,
as to its origin, composition and properties.
Although I cannot bring into the field the sci-
entific knowledge of several learned gentlemen
by whom the lake has been visited and des-
cribed, namely, the late Alexander Anderson,
formerly superintendent of the Botanic Gar-
den at Kingston, in the Island of St. Vincent,
Dr. Nugent, the present agent in London for
the Island of Antigua, and Dr. Thomas An-
derson, of Trinidad, who have written able
accounts of it ; yet I will venture to offer my
own observations, claiming for them nothing
more than an attentive inspection and consid-
eration of the facts which came before me on
my visit, assisted by much information from
others who have seen the lake. The account
of the last named gentleman as published in
the United Service Journal for January, 18.39,
is particularly deserving of attention. Dr.
Anderson has resided a long time at Trinidad,
and he carefully inspected the lake ; and his
description, besides its other merits, contains
a notice of nearly all that was known of the
matter up to the time he wrote his paper. He
tells us, however, that Gumilla's accoimt is the
first which we have of it ; but in this he is
mistaken, for it was known and described long
before Ganiilla's time.

Sir Walter Raleigh tells us, that in his V03'-
age in search of the celebrated imaginary El
Dorado, on his way he stopped at Trinidad,
landed at La Brea, saw the lake, and actually
used some of the pitch in the repair of his ships
and boats, finding it to answer adniirablj'.
This was in the year 1.593, shortly after the
occupation or conquest of the island by Spain
in 1.592, by means of their Governor Don An-
tonio Beneo. The island was at that time
peopled almost entirely with the aboriginal
Indians, a fine race of men, with whom Sir
Walter principally communicated ; he, how-
ever, does not give us their own name for the
asphaltum, but says that they called it piche,
which obviously is an appellation which they



346



THE FKIENO.



received from their Spanish conquerors. He
further informs us, that the substance was in
general use by the various tribes of Indians in
the river Orinoco for caulking their canoes, in
the building of which they used great skill.
It is probable that there are Spanish writers
who give even earlier notices of the lake than
that of Sir Walter.

The Jesuit Gumilla, with the ability of all
his fraternity, gives us some useful particulars
as to the Trinidad lake of pitch, at page 15
of the 1st volume of his " Historia natural,
civil y geografiea de las naciones situadas en
las riberas del rio Orinoco," printed at Barce-
lona in 1791. In a short description of Trini-
dad, he says : —

"The greatest curiosity of this island con-
sists of its springs or fountains of pitch, for I
so term a lake of liquid pitch not far distant
from the Point or Capeof Cedro. Sliortly be-
fore I visited Trinidad, it happened that,
nearly midway in the road leading fron) the
capital to an Indian village, a portion of earth
suddenly sunk, and was immediately replaced
by a pond of pitch, to the great astonishment
and terror of the inhabitants of the vicinity,
who feared that the same thing might, when
least expected, occur on the spot where they
dwelt. A little to the eastward of Cape Cedro,
near the sea-shore, there is a spring of pitch
as hard as slate or chalk, and which is never
exhausted ; for although all vessels passing it
take large quantities of it, as I myself have
done, for the purpose of caulking our Orinoco
boats, the hollows thereby occasioned are soon
filled again with new pitch, in the same man-
ner as may be observed in saltpetre mines.
On my visit to the lake, I was accompanied
by experienced inhabitants of the island, who
assured me of two things ; firstly, that, judging
from the proximity of the lake of liquid pitch,
they believed that that which is gathered on
the sea-shore in a hard body, acquires that
consistence from passing through the soil, an
opinion with which I easily coincide; and,
secondly, that foreign vessels visit the island,
and take in cargoes of this pitch, using that
which is solid as ballast, and taking away
what is found liquid in casks. I relate this
entirely upon the authority of my informants,
as I had no opportunity of afterwards verify-
ing their statement myself; but as they were
natives of the island, their testimony is enti-
tled to weight." — Late Foreign Journal.



A LITERARY SHOEMAKER.

Joseph Pendrell, the literary shoemaker,
who died about fourteen years since, was a
descendant of the Pendrelis, who saved Charles
the Second at Worcester, and to whom a pen-
sion was granted by government. He had
received at school nothing more than the ordi-
nary education of reading and writing, and at
an early age, was apprenticed by his father to
a shoemaker, which business he followed until
his death. He had, when young, a great taste
for books, and was led to literary studies by
the following accident : — Stopping at a book-
stall one day, he laid hold of a book on arith-
metic, marked fourpence; he purchased it, and
availed himself, of his leisure hours, in making



himself master of the subject. At the end of
the book he found a short introduction to the
mathematics; this stimulated him to make
further purchases in this branch of study ;
from the elements, he soon proceeded to all
the various departments of that noble sci-
ence, comprehending the pure and mixed
mathematics.

When a journeyman, he made every possi-
ble saving to purchase books of greater ex-
pense ; he found there were many valuable
writers on his favourite subject in the French
language, for which purpose he obtained a
grammar, a book of exercises, a vocabulary,
and a dictioiiarj', with which he persevered,
until he obtained a competent knowledge for
the reading of the French writers; in the
same manner he went on to acquire the Latin
and Greek languages, as subordinate to his
favourite pursuit, and he made himself master
of the Greek language, sufficient to read any
of the propositions of Euclid, the Septuagint
and the Greek Testament, and the Greek
prose writers. He had formed a large collec-
tion of classical books, many of which he
had purchased at the auction-room in King
street Covent Garden, once belonging to Pat-
terson, a celebrated book auctioneer, famous
for making his catalogues, and whose rooms
were the resort of most of the literary men of
his time.

Pendrell did not, however, avail himself of
any of those literary characters, whom he was
there accustomed to meet; on the contrary,
he always shunned notice, and made it a prac-
tice invariably to conceal his name when a lot
was knocked down to him at the conclusion of
the sale. He had often met there the learned
Bishop Lowth, who frequently fell into con-
versation with him, as they sometimes hap-
pened to meet before the sale began. Bishop
Lowth was much interested with his conver-
sation, and one day asked Patterson who he
was. Patterson took the first opportunity
which presented itself to inquire of him his
name and address, acquainting him who the
person was that felt interested in his favour.
The poor shoemaker, with a diffidence which
in this case was very blamable, declined to
give Patterson his name; thus frustrating an
occasion which might have led to his advance-
ment from so humble a station.

He was well informed on most subjects of
science and natural philosophy, was familiar
with our best poets, and had a thorough ac-
quaintance with most of our writers in the
department of the belles letters. His know-
ledge of mathematics was profound ; to which
he added an acquaintance with astronomy,
navigation, fortification, &c. — in short, the
whole circle of those sciences which require
an acquaintance with mathematics. He re-
sided for several years prior to his death at
Gray's Buildings, Duke street, Manchester
Square, and died in the seventy-fifth year of
his aae. — Ibid.



THE POTOMAC AQUEDUCT.

The water is to be let into this magnificent
work, by which the connection between Alex-
andria and the Chesapeake and Ohio canal is



established, the 4th of July. 'I he aqueduct
was commenced in 1633. The opinion of the
engineer, as lo the mode of construction, waa
overruled, and an attempt made by certain
contractors to build circular coficr-dams in
which to sink the piers. The failure of this
plan, having its effect on an intelligent Board
of Directors, placed the Engineer, Major Wil.
liain Turnbull.of the Corps of Topographical
Engineers, in the position he has ever since
held with such advantage to the work and
honour to himself. It was not till the year
1834 that it was in his power seriously to
commence operations, and he was then beset
by every difficulty growing out of the novelty
of the work, the restricted means of the com-
pany, and the natural obstacles to be encoun-
tered.

This aqueduct springs over the Potomac
river at Georgetown, and conveys the water
of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal into the
Alexandria canal. It consists of two abut-
ments and eight massive stone piers, at the
distance of one hundred feet apart, supporting
a wooden trunk, which superstructure, it was
originally designed, also should have been of
stone. 'J'he foundation of the piers is on the
rock at the bottom of the river. Twenty feet
of mud and twenty feet of water were in some
places to be penetrated to reach this rock.
The task of baring the rock of this superio-
cumbent mass and keeping it dry, called out
the highest qualities of the engineer. When
every thing looked the fairest, and the bottom
was nearly reached, a sudden irruption of mud
and water would take place from some unseen
cause, and the work be thrown back to its ori-
ginal condition. But skill and perseverance
triumphed over all, and the work now stands
a monument of the proficiency of the present
age in the art of engineering. As a hydraulic
work, it ranks number one, and may be boldly
pointed to in comparison with any thing at
home or abroad.

The progress of the work has attracted
much attention in Europe, and the descrip-
tions of it, published by order of Congress,
which are elaborate, have been asked for with
avidity, and republished in England. So that,
hitherto, the work has had probably more
celebrity abroad, than that of which it is so
well deserving at home. — Nat. Intel.



MILKING.

Cows that are milked quick, and stripped
clean, will give more milk, than if they are
managed by moderate milkers. The reason
is, that whatever milk is left in the udder
dries up, and a cow will shrink in her milk
permanently in proportion to the quantity that
is allowed to dry up. If half dries up, she
will soon be reduced to half her natural flow
of milk — just as she will dry totally up if her
milking is totally neglected.

When a milker approaches the cow, the
animal is said to " give down" her milk. From
that moment it should be withdrawn as rapid-
ly as possible ; the longer it or any of it re-
mains in the udder, the more of it begins to
dry up, even during the operation of the milk-
er. Very much depends upon rapidity and



THE FRIEND.



347



fidelity in the niilkor, in order to boast truly
of having an excellent cow for milk. VV
have known cows, that, in certain hands, gav
enormous quantities of milk, and as soon £
they were sold to a villager, who trusted to
his hired girls to do the milking, they began
to shrink, and soon the cows lost their repu-
tation, and the men of whom they purchased
them were denounced as liars, cheats, and
every thing else that is bad. The secret of
this fault-hnding might be traced to the girl,
who either was very slow in milking, or who
had not patience enough to strip the cow very
clean.

If the cow was not managed aright when
she had her first calf, it will be almost impos-
sible to make her great for milk as long as she
lives. The first experiment with her is a final
habit. No heifer, after calving, should be
trusted to inexperienced, unkind, or unfaithful
hands. She should be treated gently, fed
well, and milked regularly — at just such hours
—and milked quickly, and as long as half a
dozen drops can be forced from the udder.
She should, too, be milked as nearly as possi-
ble up to the time of her having the next calf.
By such attention, she will be likely to prove
a valuable animal ; one that will give much
milk, hold out long, and be manageable every
way by her attendants.

Learners should be taught the art of milk-
ing on cows that are being dried off". And one
of'their first lessons should be to clasp the teat
very near to its extremity. This will hurt
the cow least, and be worked easiest to the
milker. They should, also, boar the left arm
moderately against the leg of the cow. She
cannot then kick, or, if she attempts it, by
raising her foot, the milker will be ready to
ward otf and protect herself and pail from any
sad consequences. Thus guarded, let them
make as brisk work of milking as possible —
treating the cow gently, and withdrawing all
the milk faithfully, and there will be a chance
for the security of two good things — a good
milker and a good cow.



Planting Beans. — The editor of the East-
ern Farmer, published in Portland, Me., says,
the prettiest, most economical, and convenient
mode of planting pole-beans, is to fix the pole
in the centre of the hill, and then plant your
beans in two or three circles around it, one a
few inches outside of the other circle. The
beans when trained upon the pole, will protect
each other against drought and sun, and bear
more abundantly, and for a much longer pe-
riod, than when planted in the old way, having
two or three, or half a dozen irregular stalks
in a hill.



Electricity of Steam and Thunder Storms.
The evening meetings of the Royal Insti-
tution closed with a lecture by Professor Far-
raday upon the subject of the electricity of
steam, in the course of which some highly
interesting phenomena were for the last time
developed, proving the fallacy of some impor-
tant points of certain opinions formerly held
upon electrical science. It is generally sup-



posed that a process of evaporation is contin-
ually going forward upon the surface of the
earth, the dews and moisture from which
ascending into the atmosphere are formed into
clouds, which becoming surcharged with the
electricity continually given out by vegetable
and animal substances, produce the phenome-
na of lightning and the thunder storm. This
opinion was greatly strengthened by the dis-
covery of a supposed power in steam to evolve

electricity, an efliict first observed at

Armstrong's works at Newcastle. A work-
man accidentally touching a steam-boiler,
found what he conceived to be sparks of fire
passing from the boiler to his hand, and, in his
ignorance of electrical science, reported to his
employer that the boiler was full of fire ; sub-
sequent examination proved that this fire was
the electric fluid passing from the steam issu-
ing out of the boiler, and from the boiler
itself. Several papers on the subject were
subsequently published, and it has ever since
been laid down as a principle of science, upon
which most important philosophical theories
have been based, that electricity is produced
by the evaporation of water into steam or
vapour. This subject has lately occupied the
attention of Professor Farraday, and the result
of his investigations has been a demonstration
of the fallacy of this popular notion. By a
series of beautiful and novel experiments, he
showed that this peculiar electrical phenome-
non was the result of the water which became
condensed in the pipe, and not of the steam
evaporated from the water in the boiler or its
mere friction in rushing through the tube ; but
that water alone pressed rapidly through a
tube, would produce the effect heretofore sup-
posed to belong to steam, it being essentially
necessary that the water should be at so low a
temperature as to come in contact with the
inner surface of the tube, the intervention of a
thin coat of steam between the two, wholly
destroying the power of producing electricity.
In order to produce the effect, it is necessary
that the water should be perfectly pure, even
that supplied to the metropolis for culinary
purposes not being sufficiently clarified for this
object. A very small portion of common
Glauber's salts dropped into pure water de-
stroyed its efficacy, whilst the electricity was
immediately evolved from distilled water. The
nature of this electricity was shown to be
changed from positive to negative, or vice
versa, by certain extraneous substances com-
ing in contact with the water; and its degree
of intensity was evinced by charging Leyden
jars, and drawing sparks from the aperture of
the boiler sufficient to ignite a jet of gas. In
former times it was imagined that a " cat's
back" and other matters were the most exci-
table of electric substances. It is now proved
beyond a doubt, that there is no substance in
nature so high in the scale of excitation as
water. The professor, in conclusion, con-
tended that neither steam nor its action had
any thing to do with the evolution of electri-
city or the higher phenomena of the thunder
storm and the flash of lightning, neither of
which could be formed by evaporation from
the surface of the earth, inasmuch as it does
not contain water sufficiently pure for the pur-



pose. The important principles propounded
In this lecture have excited the greatest inter-
est in the scientific world, and more especially
among electricians. The lecture was deliver-
ed to a very crowded auditory. — Foreign
Journal.

A SIBERIAN WINTER.

The traveller in Siberia, during winter, is
so enveloped in furs that he can scarcely
move ; and under the thick fur-hood, which is
fastened to the bear-skin collar, and covers
the whole face, one can only draw in, as it
were by stealth, a little of the external air,
which is so keen that it causes a very peculiar
and painful feeling to the throat and lungs.
The distance from one halting place to an-
other takes about ten hours, during which
time the traveller must always continue on
horseback, as the cumbrous dress makes it
insupportable to wade through the snow. The
poor horses suffer at least as much as their
riders, for besides the general effect of the
cold, they are tormented by the ice forming
in their nostrils, and slopping their breathing;
when they intimate this, by a distressed snort
and a convulsive shaking of the head, the dri-
vers relieve them by taking out the pieces of
ice, to save them from being suffocated.
When the icy ground is not covered by snow,
their hoofs often burst from the effects of the
cold. The caravan is always surrounded by
a thick cloud of vapour; it is not only living
bodies which produce this effect, but even the
snow smokes. These evaporations are in-
stantly changed into millions of needles of
ice, which fill the air, and cause a constant
slight noise, resembling the sound of torn satin



Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 128 of 154)