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

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countrymen generally. The idea is prevalent
that fishing is a low occupation ; but it is as
false as it is common. Equally prevalent and
false is the supposition, that these fisheries
have no history but such as relates to the
quantity and quality of the food which they
annually produce. He who shall correct these
errors, and give to this branch of American
industry the place which belongs to it in our
annals, will perform a valuable service. To
describe these events, however, forms no part
of our present purpose ; and our doubting read-
ers must be content to take the truth of the
remark, as to their high and interesting cha-
racter, upon trust, until another time.

Having given, on a former occasion, some
account of the whale-fishery, we design now
to devote a few pages to some of the other
sea-fisheries, and to the manner of catching
and curing the various kinds of dried, smoked,
and pickled fish, that are found for sale in our
markets. These fish are not taken in great
abundance within the limits or jurisdiction of
the Union ; inasmuch as the best fishing-
grounds, whether for cod, pollock, herring, or
mackerel, are far north or east of the United
States. Those most frequented are the inlets
and shores of the Bay of Fundy, the Bay of
Chaleurs, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the
Straits of Bellisle, the coast of Labrador, and
the Banks of Newfoundland. Fishing at New-
foundland is, probably, the most hazardous.



The business is usually commenced in April,
and closed in October. It is done while the
vessel is at anchor in the open sea, at a great
distance from land, and wos too often betides
those who engage in it with old, unsound, or
ill-furnished vessels.

A vessel intended for service in the Labra-
dor fishery leaves home about the middle of
May. Arriving on the coast after a passage
of two or three weeks, she enters some snug
harbour, and is there moored. There she
remains quietly at anchor, until a full " fare"
has been obtained, or until the departure of
the fish requires the master to seek another
inlet. The coast of Labrador is frequented
(or fishing for a distance of ten or twelve de-
grees of latitude. It has been preferred to
any other, for a long time, on account of its
security, and a general certainty of obtaining
a supply offish. The fishing is done entirely
in boats, and the number usually employed is
one for about thirty tons of the vessel's regis-
ter. Here, under the management of an ex-
perienced and skilful master, every thing may
be rendered systematic and regular. As soon
as the vessel has been secured by the neces-
sary anchors, her sails and light rigging stow-
ed away, her decks cleared, her boats fitted,
and a day or two spent in fowling and sailing,
under colour of exploring the surrounding
waters, and fixing upon proper stations for the
boats, the master announces to his crew that
they must try their luck with the hook. Each
boat has now assigned to it a skipper or mas-
ter, and one man. At the time designated,
the master departs with his boats, to test the
qualities of his men, and to mark out for
them a course for their future procedure.

The love of power, so common to our race,
is exemplified even here, since the skippers of
these boats, though commanding each but a
single man, often assume airs and exercise
authority which are, at once, ridiculous and
tyrannical ; while their ingenuity in explain-
ing the causes of a bad day's work, really
occasioned by idleness, or by time spent in
shooting sea-birds, frequently puts the patience
and the risibility of the master to a severe
trial. If fish are plenty, and not too distant
from the vessel, the boats are expected, in
ood weather, to catch two loads in a day.
Their return, if laden, is the signal for the
dressing-crew, who were left on board, to be-
gin a series of operations, which, when com-
pleted, leave the fish in the form in which the
consumer buys them. From the dressing-
table, the fish are thrown down the hatch-way
to the Salter, who commences the process of
curing by salting, and placing them in layers
in the bottom of the vessel. If the master
ntends to remain on the coast until his fish are
ready for market, they are commonly taken



on shore as soon as caught, and there dressed,
salted, and dried, before being conveyed to the
vessel. If, on the contrary, it be his intention
to dry them at home, as is now the common
practice, the sailer's duty is the last that is
performed aboard. The English usually cure
their fish on the coast. The buildings which
are necessary for this purpose are easily con-
structed ; they consist of an oblong shed, and
a rude wharf, called a stage. The site select-
ed for the stage is a rocky inlet, where the
water is deep, and the beach or upland dry-
ing-place is capacious and convenient. The
bait used is a small fish, called capelin. This
small, but useful fish, seldom remains on the
fishing-ground for more than six weeks in a
season ; a time which is long enough for se-
curing a full supply, and which an experienced
and energetic master does not often allow to
pass awaj' without one. The average produce
of this fishery may be estimated at about ten
quintals to every ton of the vessels employed
in it, though the best masters are dissatisfied,
when they fail to catch a fourth or fifth more.

The selection of a master is a point so im-
portant to owners, that a word upon his quali-
fications and duties will not be amiss. Be-
sides all the responsibilities at sea, which
devolve upon a master in the merchant ser-
vice, he has cares and anxieties, which are
unknown to that branch of maritime adven-
ture. His passage being safely made, the
master of the merchantman is relieved by the
counsel and assistance of the owner or con-
signee. But it is not so with the master of the
fishing-vessel. During the period devoted to
fishing, his labour is arduous in the extreme;
and come what will, in the desolate and dis-
tant regions which he visits, his own sagacity
and prudence are his only reliance. If, as not
unfrequently happens, he be so unfortunate as
to have among his crew two or three refrac-
tory spirits, who poison the minds of all the
rest ; if others, who boasted loudly in port
how well and quickly they could use the split-
ting-hnife, or how true and even-handed they
were in distributing the salt, prove too igno-
rant to be trusted ; or if every man under his
charge, without being either dogged or inca-
pable, is still of so leaden a mould, as to re-
main immovable under promises of bounty or
promotion ; these difficulties must be but new
inducements to use extraordinary personal
exertions, and to preserve his reputation at
the expense of his health and strength. Even
if there are none of these embarrassments to
contend with, his ordinary employments re-
quire an iron frame and an unconquerable
resolution.

The master's duty, if he be an efficient man,
is never an easy one. If he would provide
against every contingency, and make sure of



354



THE FRIEND.



a cargo despite of every adrerse event, he
must not even allow himself the full repose
which nature craves. It is upon his regu-
larity and perseverance in procuring fresh
bait, a service which must sometimes be per-
formed at the hazard of his life, upon the fre-
quency of his visits to his boats, which are
ot'ten miles asunder, upon his readiness to use
his own hands to make up the laggard's defi-
ciency, upon his economy and system in the
use of time and outlits, upon the degree of
energy and regularity which he infuses, and,
finally, upon the care which he exercises in
dressing and sailing the object of his search,
that the success or failure of the voyage mainly
depends. Masters who are able and willing to
sustain these varied and incessant calls upon
their bodily vigour and mental activity are to
be found, probably, in every fishing port. But
it is very certain, that the number has sensi-
bly diminished during the last twenty years,
and that the transfer to other and more profit-
able and ambitious commands is still going
on. The mercantile men of the commercial
capital of the North, and the packet-ships of
the commercial emporium of the Union, rank
deservedly high. But were their counting-
rooms and quarter-decks to yield up all, or
even half, of those whose birth-places were on
the Capes of Massachusetts, and whose ear-
liest adventures were made in the fishing craft,
they would lose many high and honoured
names. So, too, were either to cease recruit-
ing from the same sources, the humble em-
ployment of which we are speaking would
speedily become more prosperous, and, in pub-
lic estimation, more respectable.

The cod-fishery in the Bay of Fundy dif-
fers in many respects from that of Labrador.
It commences earlier, and is pursued more
irregularly, and to a later period of the sea-
son ; while it yields larger and better fish, and,
from the greater depth of water and rise of
tide, requires much longer lines. This fish-
ery is pursued principally by the people who
live along the shores of the Bay, and by the
fishermen of the eastern part of Maine. The
vessels which are employed in it, though of
greater variety, are neither so large nor so
valuable, as those which are required for the
more hazardous and distant fishing-grounds ;
and, unlike these, it allows of the use of sail-
boats of the smallest size, as well as of those
which can be propelled with safety and cele-
rity by the oars of a single man. The vessels
anchor upon the outer grounds as often, and for
such times, as the weather permits ; while the
boats keep within the passages, and about the
ledges, with which the Bay abounds. The
time used for fishing is just before high-tide,
and just before low-water, which states of the
sea the fishermen call slacks. Most of the
fishermen own or occupy small farms, situated
on or near the shores of the Bay ; so that fish-
in" is an occasional, rather than a constant
employment with them. For some of them,
who live upon the main-land, however, and
many whose homes are upon the islands, the
sole reliance for support is the hook and line.
Two hundred boats are sometimes in sight at
F.astport, and when, by a turn of the tide, or a
change of the wiud, the little fleet draw to-



gether and flcat past the town in line, the '
scene is not without interest, even to those:
who have witnessed it hundreds of times. !

From the earliest, or, as they are called, the '
spring fares of the cod-fish obtained in the'
Bay of Fundy, are made a considerable part
of the table or rfKn-fish, that are consumed in j
the New England stales; and, next to the
Isles of Shoals fish, they are undoubtedly the I
best. Those caught in boats are seldom fit
for dunning. They are commonly sold fresh,
to the little fishing-slands, or trading establish-
ments, set up by the more independent island-
ers. But owing to a variety of causes, the pro-
cess of curing is so imperfectly performed, that
none are so good as those caught in vessels,
and many are wholly unfit for human food.
The sprinkling of lime, however, over the de-
fective parts, a practice which the fishermen
deem entirely honest, will deceive the eye and
quiet the nasal organ of the inexperienced or
careless purchaser. These waters afford, also,
a considerable part of the fish known among
dealers as pollock, hake, and haddock. They
are usually taken when fishing for the cod, and
by the same means. The " Quoddy-pollock"
is a great favourite every where in the inte-
rior, and is to be found in almost every farm-
house of the north. The hake-fishery of this I
Bay is small ; nor is it of much consequence
on any part of the American coast. The hake
and the haddock are poor fish, and neither
commands more than half the price of the cod.
The hake, however, yields a larger quantity
of oil, and is, therefore, held in estimation by
those who catch it, and are not compelled to
eat it. The haddock, when fresh, suits the
taste of some, but, when dried, it is without
reputation, even in the hut of the negro, who
is doomed to be its principal consumer.

We turn now to a brief consideration of the
herring-fishery. The herring in many vari-
eties is taken in large quantities in the princi-
pal seas of Europe and America ; and some of
the principal cities of I he former owe their
foundation, perhaps much of their present
commerce and wealth, to the prosecution of
this fishery. To persons who are familiar
with the character and rank of the mass of
herring-catchers of the present-day, an account
of the mania on this subject in England, two
centuries ago, seems almost incredible. We
have no space to go into details ; nor can we
even relate incidents to show how vast were
the projects, and how magnificently rich were
the joint-stock associations, that were formed
by noblemen and princes of the blood to catch
and cure herrings !

This branch of industry, as pursued in Ameri-
can waters, produces food of various qualities.
The herring is cured both by salting and
smoking, and by sailing and pickling. When
by the first method, it is packed in boxes ;
when by the latter, in barrels. Nearly the
whole amount of that well-known luxury of
the supper-table, the scaled-herring, is taken
in the Bay of Fundy, and its tributary, the
Passamaquoddy. The best are found and
cured in the vicinity of Digby, Nova Scotia,
but those of our own fishing-grounds treat the
palate to a great delicacy. They were caught
for many years by means principally of lighted



torches, made of the outer bark of the while

birch.

The practice was, for one or two men to
place a light of this description in the bow of a
small boat, and then to drift about the favour-
ite resorts of the herring, on very dark nights,
and to bail in, with a dip-net, all that were
allracted to the surface of the water. The
islanders have a story, that the discovery of
the attracting properties of light was acciden-
tal, 'i'hey relate that, many years ago, a fish-
erman who lived on Campo-bello,* and who
chanced one night to be on the side of one of
its little harbours, opposite to his own house,
on remembering that he had no fire at home,
took some chips and coals in a skillet to carry
across; that, during the passage, the chips
took fire and blazed up ; and, on his landing,
he found that a large number of herrings had
followed him to the shore; and that this cir-
cumstance induced experiments, which result-
ed in abandoning the former practice of using
" set-nets" and " wears." These nets and
wears are, however, becoming favourites
again ; and should the torch-lights be com-
pletely extinguished, of which there is cer-
tainly some fear, the inhabitants of the fron-
tier towns of Maine will be deprived of one of
their finest sights, and sojourners among them
of one of their most attractive and peculiar
scenes. To walch, from the head-lan.ds and
beaches, the movements of the " herring-dri-
vers," has been a pleasurable recreation there
for years. We have seen a spacious harbour,
and the coves and indentations in its neigh-
bourhood, most beautifully lighted up, as with
hundreds of lamps, and each light heaving and
falling with the motion of the sea. Far in the
otfing, the torches, no larger to the eye than
a candle's flame, would move and dance, ap-
proach and cross each other, and then vanish
away ; while nearer, and perhaps within a
stone's throw of the position which we occu-
pied, their red flare would reveal every act of
the fisherman, as time after time, he drew in
the fish which he had lured to destruction. On
shipboard, too, when entering or leaving the
Passamaquoddy, we have seen these lights in
all directions, and they served to relieve lone-
liness, and to excite interesting imaginings.

(To be concluded.)

For '■ The Friend."
BEES.

Pollen — Propolis — Importance of Bees to the
Fructification of Flowers.

Carey and Hart, of this city, have lately
published a re-print of" The Honey Bee; its
natural history, physiology, and management."
By Edward Bevan, M.D. It appears to be a
work well deserving the attention of those
interested in the culture of bees, embracing
much curious, as well as useful information on
the subject. The following is extracted from
the last three chapters.

PoLLiJN. — Pollen and Farina, in the lan-
guage of botanists, are terms applied to the
powdery particles discharged by the anthers

• An island on the New Brunswick side of the Bay
of Passamaquoddy.



THE FRIEND.



355



of flowers in warm dry weather, and which
hang about the stamina. The colour, as well
as the structure of pollen, varies in different
plants. Its use, in fecundating the germens of
flowers, is well known : the services of bees,
towards that end, will be noticed in a separate
chapter.

Pollen has a capsular structure, varying its
shape in difierent flowers, insomuch as to be a
popular object for the microscope. Each grain,
it is supposed, consists commonly of a mem-
braneous bag, which contains a meal still
finer, so fine that its granules do not exceed
the 10,000th part of an inch in some plants,
the geranium for instance. When the bag
containing them comes to maturity, it bursts
on the application of moisture ; this bursting
is naturally effected by the honey-like exuda-
tion of the stigma; but if extraneous moisture
accomplish it prematurely, the pollen is ren-
dered useless for the purpose of fructification.
Whenever moistened, the bag explodes with
great force, and discharges a subtle vapour or
essence, which, when released by the peculiar
moisture of the stigma, performs effectually its
final purpose.

This substance, as I have stated in the last
chapter, was once erroneously supposed to be
the prime constituent of wax ; but the experi-
ments of Hunter and Huber have proved that
wax isasecrelionfroni the bodies of wax-work-
ing bees, {vide chap, xxxiii.) and that the
principal purpose for which they collect pollen
is to nourish the embryo-bees (it has been
called the ambrosia of the hive.) Huber was
the first who suggested this idea, and it well
Hccords with what we observe among other
parts of the animal kingdom ; — birds, for in-
stance, feed their young with different food
from what they take themselves. Hun-
ter examined the stomachs of the maggot-bees,
and found farina in all, but not a particle of
honey in any of them. Huber considers the
pollen as undergoing a peculiar elaboration in
the stomachs of the nursing bees, to be fitted
for the nutriment of the larvae.

" In spring," says Dr. Evans, " which may
be called the bee's first carrying season,
scarcely one of the labourers is seen return-
ing to the hive, without a little ball or pellet
of farina, on each of its hinder legs. These
balls are invariably of the same colour as the
anther-dust of the flowers then in bloom, the
different tints of yellow, as pale, greenish, or
deep orange, being most prevalent." The bees
may frequently be observed to roll (heir bodies
on the flower, and then, brushing off the pollen
which adheres to them, with their feet, form
it into two masses, which they dispose of in
the usual way. In very dry weather, when
probably the particles of pollen cannot be
made to cohere, I have often seen them return
home so completely enveloped by it, as to give
them the appearance of a different species of
bee. The anther-dust, thus collected, is con-
veyed to the interior of the hive, and there
brushed off by the collector or her com-
panions. Reaumur, and others, have observed,
that bees prefer the morning for collecting this
substance, most probably that the dew may
assist them in the moulding of their little
bails. " I have seen them abroad," says



Reaumur, " gathering farina at the earliest
dawn ;" they continue thus occupied till about
ten o'clock.

This is their practice during the warmer
months; but in April and May, and at the set-
tlement of a recent swarm, they carry pollen
throughout the day ; but even in these in-
stances, the collection is made in places most
likely to furnish the requisite moisture for
moulding the pellets, namely, in shady and
soniotiii.es in very distant places.

When a bee has completed her loading, she
returns to the hive ; part of her cargo is
instantly devoured by the nursing-bees, to be
regurgitated for the use of the larvae, and
another part is stored in cells for future exi-
gencies in the following manner. The bee,
while seeking a fit cell for her freight, makes
a noise with her wings, as if to summon her
fellow-citizens round her ; she then fixes her
two middle and her two hind legs upon the
edge of the cell which she has selected, and
curving her body, seizes the farina with her
fore legs, and makes it drop into the cell :
thus freed from her burthen, she is fully pre-
pared to collect again. Another bee immedi-
ately packs the pollen, and kneads and works
it down into the bottom of the cell, probably
mixing a little honey with it, judging from the
moist state in which she leaves it ; an air-
tight coating of varnish finishes this storing of
pollen.

The bee stores pollen in worker-cells only.
I am not aware of this fact having ever been
publicly stated before : I am indebted for a
knowledge of it to the attentive observation of

Humphrey. This discrimination of the

i)ee may arise from an instinctive knowledge
that pollen may be best preserved when stored
in small quantities.

The quantity of this substance collected is
immense ; Swammerdam calculated that a
single family would gather from thirty to sixty
pounds in a year.

From the uniform colour of each collection,
it is reasonable to suppose that the bee never
visits more than one species on the same jour-
ney ; this was the opinion of Aristotle, and the
generality of modern observers have confirm-
ed it. Reaumur, however, supposed that the
bee ranged from flowers of one species to
those of another indiscriminately. Arthur
Dobbs, in the Philosophical Transactions for
1752, states, that he has repeatedly followed
bees when collecting pollen ; and that what-
ever flowers they first alighted upon decided
their choice for that excursion, all other spe-
cies being passed over unregarded. Butler
had previously asserted the same thing.
Here we see the operation of a discriminating
instinct, which, in the first place, leads the
insect to make an aggregation of homoge-
neous particles, which, of course, form the
closest cohesion ; and, in the next place, pre-
vents the multiplication of hybrid plants.
This remark was made by Sprengel, who has
confirmed the observations of Dobbs, Butler,
and others. The bees which Reaumur ob-
served to visit flowers of different species,
might have been in quest of honey as well as
of pollen.

Propolis. — Besides the honey and pollen



which are gathered by bees, they collect a
resinous substance, that is very tenacious,
semi-transparent, and which gives out a bal-
samic odour, somewhat resembling that of
storax. In the mass, it is of a reddish brown
colour; when broken, its colour approaches
that of wax. Dissolved in spirit of wine or
oil of turpentine, it imparts, as varnish, a
golden colour to silver, tin, and other white
polished metals. Being supposed to possess
medicinal virtue, it was formerly kept in the
shop of the apothecary. According to Vau-
quelin, propolis consists of one part of wax,
and four of pure resin ; in which respect, and
in its yielding the same acid, (the benzoic,) it
resembles balsam Peru. It also contains some
aromatic principles.

With propolis, bees attach the combs to the
roof and sides of their dwelling, stop crevices,
fasten the hives or boxes to the floors and roof,
strengthen the weak places of their domicile,
and varnish the cell-work of their combs. The
chapter on Instincts details the modes in which
bees employ it for their protection against
intruders into their hives. From its being
used for the firm attachment of combs to the
roofs of hives, it must be the first matter col-
lected by a recent swarm. The term propolis
is derived from the Greek, and signifies, " be-
fore the city;" bees having been observed to
make use of it, in strengthening the outworks
of their city.

Reaumur was unable to discover its vege-
table source. It is generally supposed to be
gathered from the resinous exudations of the
poplar, alder, birch, and willow ; according to
Rieni, from pines and other trees of the fir
tribe; though some authors have alleged that
bees can produce it where no such trees are
near them, and that turpentine and other resins



Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 131 of 154)