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

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men are often deprived of adequate recom-
pense for their labour. The quantity exported
from the eastern part of Maine often exceeds
eighty thousand boxes in a year, while the
average of ten years may be estimated at
three-fourths of that quantity. Besides these,
some thousands of barrels are annually pick-
led. The article known among dealers as the
gibbed-herring is a good substitute for the
second quality of mackerel.

It is frequently said, that the mackerel-fish-
ery is of a very recent origin, or that, at least,
vessels were not employed in it until about the
close of the last, or the beginning of the pre-
sent century. Both suppositions are entirely
erroneous. We have refrained from tracing
the slighest historical sketch of the cod and
herring-fisheries, and must continue to ob-
serve the same rule. But, did it comport with
our present purpose, we could present facts
and statistics, so numerous and so well authen-
ticated, as to leave no possible doubt on the
minds of any, that this fishery was commenced
more than two centuries ago; that, in fact, it
is as old as any other ; that it employed even
a hundred vessels yearly, prior to the Revolu-
tion ; and that the exports of mackerel reach-
ed the value of £50,000 currency in a year.

This fish is one of the most beautiful that
the sea affords. Its habits are continually
changing, and, with them, the modes of catch-
ing it. Fifty years after the settlement of
Plymouth, the practice prevailed of taking it
in seines by moonlight ;* and seines are still
used to great advantage and extent in some
parts of Nova Scotia. The fishermen of New
England, at the present time, use the hook
principally, though there are indications, that
some other means must be resorted to, or the
business be abandoned. When first seen upon
the coast in the spring, the fish is thin and
poor, and voyages in quest of it hardly pay
their expenses, even when full fares are ob-
tained. The course of our fishermen in pur-
suit of the mackerel is commonly as follows :
— They seek for, and generally find it, in the
vicinity of the Capes of the Delaware, about
the month of May ; and following it north and
east, as the season advances, they " make
fares" in the Bay of Fundy in July and Au-
gust ; in the Bay of Chaleurs in September,
and sometimes in the latter bay and the Gulf

• This was at Cape Cod. In 1670, the government
of Plymouth colony granted the profits ut' the cod,
mackerel, bass, and herring-fisheries there for a frec-
Bchool. This school was established, and is said to
have been tlie first ordained by law in New England.

of St. Lawrence in the month of October.
More frequently, however, they are following
it on its return west and south, before the
equinoctial gale. They seldom pursue it
farther in autumn than the Capes of Massa-
chusetts, or the shoals of Nantucket. At
times, great quantities are taken along the
coast, in small boats ; and landsmen, women,
and children leave their accustomed employ-
ments, and, by the use of pans, baskets, trays,
pilch-forks, atid the like, show how true it is,
that " necessity is the mother of invention."

The master of the mackerel vessel, after
reaching some well known resort of the fish,
furls all his sails, except the main-sail, brings
his vessel's bows to the wind, ranges his crew
at proper intervals along one of her sides, and
without a mackerel in sight, attempts to raise
a school or shoal, by throwing over bait. If
he succeeds to his wishes, a scene ensues
which can hardly be described, but which it
were worth a trip to the fishing-ground to
witness. We have heard more than one fish-
erman say, that he had caught sixty mackerel
in a minute; and when he was told, that, at
that rate, he had taken thirty-six hundred in
an hour, ai)d that, with another person as ex-
pert, he would catch a whole fare in a single
day, he would reject the figures, as proving
nothing beyond a wish to undervalue his skill.
Certain it is, that some active young men will
haul in and jerk ofT a fish, and throw out the
line for another, with a single motion; and
repeat the act, in so rapid succession, that
their arms seem continually on the swing. To
be high-line* is an object of earnest desire
among the ambitious ; and the muscular ease,
the precision and adroitness of movement,
which such men exhibit in the strife, are ad-
mirable. While the school remains alongside,
and will take the hook, the excitement of the
men, and the rushing noise of the fish in their
beautiful and manifold evolutions in the water,
arrest the attention of the most careless ob-
server. Oftentimes the fishing ceases in a
moment, and as if put an end to by magic;
the fish, according to the fishermen's conceit,
panic-stricken by the dreadful havoc among
them, suddenly disappear from sight.

Eight, ten, and even twelve thousand have
been caught, and must now be " dressed
down." This process covers the persons of
the crew, the deck, the tubs, and every thing
near, with blood and garbage ; and as it is often
performed in darkness and weariness, and
under the reaction of overtasked nerves, the
novice, and the gentleman or amateur fisher,
who hitherto had seen and participated in
nothing but keen sport, become disgusted.
They ought to remember, that in the recre-

* To catch the greatest number offish.


Btions of manhood, as in those of youth, tlie
toil of hauhng the hand-sled up hill, is, gener-
ally, in proportion to the steepness and slip-
perincss which give the pleasurable velocity

The opproach of night, or the disappear-
ance of the mackerel, closing all labour with
the hook and line ; the lisli, as they are dressed,
are thrown into casks of water, to rid them of
blood. The deck is then cleared and washed ;
the mainsail is hauled down, and the foresail
is hoisted in its stead ; a lanthern is placed in
the rigging; a watch is set to salt the fish,
and keep a look out for the night ; and the I
master and the remainder of his crew, at a
late hour, seek repose. The earliest gleams
of light find the anxious master awake, hurry-
ing forward preparations for the morning's
meal, and making other arrangements for a
renewal of the previous day's work. But the
means which were so successful then, fail
now, and perhaps for days to come ; for the
capricious creatures will not take the hook,
nor can all the art of the most sagacious and
experienced induce them to bile. Repeating,
however, the operations which we have des-
cribed, from time to time, and until a load has
been obtained, or until the master becomes
discouraged, or his provisions are consumed,
the vessel returns to port, and hauls in at the
inspector's wharf, where the fish, many or
few, are landed, sorted into three qualities,
weighed, re-packed, re-snited, and re-pickled.
In two or three days she is refilled, and on her
way to the fishing-ground. Meanwhile, the
owner, and all others who inquire, " what
luck," learn from some wise " old salt," (and
there is always a Sir Oracle,) how much
knowledge the mackerel have acquired since
the previous season. Having been thus em-
ployed until the cold weather approaches, or
the fish leave the coast, the smaller vessels
haul up, and their skippers pass the winter in
cracking nuts, relating stories, and accounting
for bad voyages, or boasting of good ones;
while the larger vessels go south, and engage
in freighting.

The superiority of sound, strong, and well
finished vessels, over those of opposite quali-
ties, may seem too apparent to require a
word of notice : many poor ones are never-
theless employed, and so are poor masters ;
but the misplaced economy of trusting to either
is becoming so perceptible, that their number
is rapidly diminishing. Yet we may be par-
doned for relating a single fact, illustrative of
the folly of retaining in use a solitary vessel
that ought to be, or one master that seeks to
be in a harbour, during any of the gales which
occur on our coast just before the equinox.
Some four years ago, between Mount Desert
and Cape Sable, there were, one day, three
hundred vessels in sight of each other; and,
as was judged, they were mostly mackerel
catchers, meeting with more than the average
success. The moderate breeze of the morn-
ing freshened towards noon, and as night ap-
proached, there were strong indications of a
storm. A movement was soon perceptible
throughout the fleet, and it finally scattered
and sailed away. The staunch vessels, which
were controlled by stout hearts, sought an


oiling; but the rest, the shelter of the nearest
haven. Four thousand men, probably, were
thus interrupted in their employment ; — but
mark the issue; the vessels that kept their
positions, under their storm-trimmed foresails,
escaped unharmed, and resumed their business
early the next day ; while the refugees were
seen no more for four days, two of which were
excellent for fishing, and during that time
many vessels caught from a quarter to a third
part of a full fare.

The bait, which we have said, is thrown
overboard to attract the fish to the surface, is
usually compoi-ed of small mackerel, or salted
herrings, cut in small pieces. As economy
and success alike require a careful use of it,
the master seldom allows other hands than his
own to dispose of it. It was formerly the duty
of the man who kept the watch on deck, in the
night, to cut the bait on a block. But the
hait-mill has taken place of this noisy and
tedious process. Nothing, certainly, in the
time of any fisherman now living, has occa-
sioned so much joy as its introduction. This
labour-saving, sleep-promoting machine, as
constructed at first, was extremely simple. It
was a box, which was made to stand on end,
and had a crank projecting through its side ;
while, internally, it had a wooden roller, arm-
ed with small knives, in rows, so arranged
that, when the roller was turned, the fish to
be ground or cut up should undergo the oper-
ation by coming between these rows of knives
and others which were arranged along a board
that sloped towards the bottom.

As already remarked, the mackerel-fishery
is as old as any other, and was commenced in
Massachusetts. This state not only took the
lead, but retains it. 'J'hc business has been
extensive and successful ; at present, it is
diminishing. In 18:32, ihe returns show, that
upwards of 383,000 barrels were inspected in
Massachusetts alone, while those of 1842 ex-
hibit the inspection of only 76,000 barrels,
which is 20,000 more than in 1841 ; and the
statistics of the fishery of Maine present re-
sults and comparisons even more unfavourable.
There is certainly no lack of skill and perse-
verance on the part of those who are now so
inadequately rewarded for their capital and
labour. Whether the numerous and increas-
ing " broken voyages" are to be attributed to
a decrease of fish, or to a change of ils habits
and places of resort, we shall not undertake to
determine. The opinions of many practical
men are mere whims and fancies ; and, though
amusing enough, are not worthy of record.


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

(Concluded from page 350.)

I have before alluded to the fortification of

the weak places of hives with propolis.

Reaumur, whose hives consisted of wooden
frames and panes of glass, wishing to put this
talent of the bees to the test, carelessly fast-
ened the glass of a hive with paper and paste,
before putting in a swarm ; the bees soon dis-
covered the weakness of his paste-work, and
indignantly gnawing to pieces this feeble

fence, secured the glass with their own ce-

I have already observed, that the sage bet
chooses the morning for collecting pollen, on
account of the dew's enabling her to compress
it better; but, as moisture would render pro-
polis less coherent, she galhtrs this substance
when the day is somewhat advanced, and when
the warmth of the sun has imparted to it soft-
ness and pliancy. These qualities are how-
ever soon lost, after it has been detached from
the secreting surfaces, and exposed to the
oxygenising power of the air. So rapid is
tins hardening process, that the bees which
store it oftentimes find some difficulty in tear-
ing it with their jaws from the thighs of their

I have noted that Huher says the extent of
a bee's flight in quest of food is undecided, but
Ihat it probably does not exceed half a league.
Upon this Dunbar observes, " If Huber meant
half a German league, as he probably did,
then, according to his calculation, a bee will
Hy two miles from its home. I am rather dis-
posed to question the accuracy of this calcula-
tion. That the insect can and does fly thus
far on some occasions, I do not doubt ; but in
her ordinary excursions, during the honey sea-
son, I believe one English mile will be found
to be the extent of her flight. I am led to this
conclusion by the circumstance that my own
apiary is within a mile and a half of an exten-
sive moor, and that during the finest weather
in September, when the heaih is in full bloom,
few of my hives send any forager in that direc-
tion." Huber himtelf must have been aware
of the usual extent of the bee's flight not ex-
ceeding two miles ; for whilst he resided at
Cour, near Lausanne, and afterwards w hen he
lived at Vivai, his bees suffered so from scanty
pasturage, thstt he could only preserve them
by feeding, although tho.-e that were located
two miles off him were, in each case, storing
their hives abundantly.

Importance of Bees to the Frvctif ration of
Flowers. — Honey is regarded by modern natu-
ralists as of no other use to plants but to allure
insects, which, by visiting the nectaries of
Iheir flowers to procure it, become instrumen-
tal to their fertilization, either by scattering
the dust of the stamens upon the stigmata of
the same flower, or by carrying it from those
which produce only male blossoms to those
that bear female ones, and thereby rendering
the latter fertile.

No class of insects renders so much service
in this way as bics ; they have, however, been
accused of injuring vegetables, in three ways :
1st. By purloining for their combs the wax
which defends the prolific dust of the anthers
from rain; 2dly. By carrying off" the dust
itself, as food for their young larva;; and
3dly. By devouring the honey of the necta-
ries, intended to nourish the vegetable organs
of fructification (Darwin's Phytologia.)

In defence of his insect protegees, Dr. Evans
has observed : —

" First. That the proportion of wax col-
lected from the anthers is probably trifling, it
being so readily and abundantly obtainable
from honey.

" Secondly. That for any depredations com-



mitted on the farina, they amply compensate,
by their inadvertent yet providential convey-
ance of it, on their limbs and corselets, to
the female organs of monoecious or dicEcious
plants, whose impregnation must otherwise
have depended on the uncertain winds. This
is exemplified in the practice of our garden-
ers, who, in early spring, before they dare
expose their hol-beds to the open air, and
consequently to the access of insects, insure
the fertility of the cucumbers and melons, by
shaking a male blossom over each female
flower. For the same purpose, and with the
same success, a gentleman in Shropshire
substitutes a male blossom, in place of the
female one, at the top of his embryo cucum-
ber, which instantly adheres, and falls off in
due time.*

" To the same kind intrusion of insects
we owe the numberless new sorts of escu-
lents and endless varieties of flowers in the

" Thirdly. That in a great many instances,
the honey-cups are completely beyond the
reach of the fructifying organs, and cannot
possibly be subservient to their use. Hence
Sir J. E. Smith believed the honey to be in-
tended, by its scent, to allure these venial pand-
ers to the jlowers, and thereby shows how
highly he estimated their value to vegetation.
See his Introduction to Botany. In the same
work, the author observes Sprengel has inge-
niously demonstrated, in some hundreds of
instances, how the corolla serves as an attrac-
tion to insects, indicating by various marks,
sometimes perhaps by its scent, where they
may find honey, and accommodating them
with a convenient resting-place or shelter
while they extract it. This elegant and inge-
nious theory receives confirmation from almost
every flower we examine. Proud man is dis-
posed to think that

' Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,'
because he has not deigned to explore it; but
we find that even the beauties of the most
sequestered wilderness are not made in vain.
They have myriads of admirers, attracted by
their charms, and rewarded by their treasures,
which would be as useless as the gold of a
miser, to the plant itself, were they not the
means of bringing insects about it."

Thus the bee, by settling upon and collect-
ing honey from a thousand difl^erent flowers,
is thereby assisting the great purpose of vege-
table reproduction, at the same time that the
loads she carries home enable her to con-
struct receptacles for the reproduction of her
own race.

" For the due fertilization of the common
Barberry, it is necessary that its irritable sta-
mens should be brought into contact with the
pistil, by the application of some stimulus to
the base of the filament ; but this would never
take place were not insects attracted, by the
melliferous glands of the flower, to insinuate
themselves amongst the filaments, and thus.

• When bees do not take spontaneously to the blos-
Boms of llie cucumber, melon, &c., they may be templ-
ed to fertilize them, by applying honey to the male and
female bloom.

while seeking their own food, unknowingly to
fulfil the intentions of nature in another de-
partment."* In some cases the agency of the
hive-bee is inadequate to produce the required
end ; in these the humble-bee is the operator :
these alone, as Sprengel has observed, are
strong enough, for instance, to force their way
beneath the style-flag of the Iris Xiphium,
which in consequence is often barren. Other
insects besides bees are instrumental in pro-
ducing the same ends ; indeed they are neces-
sary instruments ; and hence, according to the
same naturalist, in some places where the par-
ticular insect required is not to be met with,
no fruit is formed upon the plant which is usu-
ally visited by it, where it is indigenous: for
he supposes that some plants have particular
insects appropriated to them. The American
Aristolochia Sipho, though it flowers plenti-
fully, never forms fruit in our gardens, proba-
bly for the reason just assigned. The Bate
Palm afibrds a striking instance of the neces-
sity of extraneous intervention to perfect fruc-
tification; male and female flowers are borne
on separate trees, and unless the two sorts be
in the neighbourhood of each other, the fruit
has no kernel, and is not proper for food.
There was a tree of this kind, bearing female
flowers, at Berlin, for the fructification of
which, a branch, with male flowers upon i
was once sent by post from Leipsic (20 Gei
man miles,) and being suspended over some of
the pistils, the tree afterwards yielded fruit
and seed in abundance. Professor Willdenow
has stated a very curious circumstance, con-
cerning the Aristolochia Clematitis. He ob-
serves that the stamens and pistils of the flow-
er are inclosed in its globular base, the anthers
being under the stigma, which thereby re-
quires the intervention of an insect to convey
the pollen to it. The Tipula pennicornis
accomplishes this object ; it enters the flower
by its tubular part, which is thickly lined with
inflected hairs, so as readily to admit the fly,
but totally to prevent its release, till by the
fading of the corolla the hairs have fallen flat
against its sides. Hence the insect in strug-
gling to efiect its escape brushes off" the pollen,
and applies it to the stigma, thereby accom-
plishing the fertilization of the flower.
" Si quid novisti rectius istis,
Candidus imperii ; a\ non, his ulere mecum."

Floating Gardens of Kashmir (Cashmere.)

Another, and an important use, made of the
abundant water surface of Kashmir, is the for-
mation of floating gardens. Various aquatic
plants spring from the bottom of the lakes, as

* This process may be strikingly exemplified, by
exciting artificially the basis of the filaments, in the
flower just mentioned. In the beginning of June, when
Ihe barberry usually blossoms, the six stamens are shel-
tered by the concave form of the flower, and spread
moderately, so long as they are unmolested ; but if one
of them be stimulated at its root, by means of a long
stout bristle or horse-hair, it will bend forward, and
strike its anther full of pollen, upon the top of the pistil ;
after which it will retire gradually, yet perceptibly, to its
former position. This action may be produced again
and again in the same stamen, or in all six successively.
In performing this experiment, care should bo taken to
apply the stimulating point without shaking the flower.

water lilies, conferva;, sedges, reeds, &c., and
as the boats which traverse these waters take,
generally, the shortest lines they can pursue
to the place of their destination, the lakes are,
in some parts, cut, as it were, in avenues
amongst the plants, which, in shallows, are
separated by beds of sedges, and of reeds. In
the latter places, the neighbouring farmer
attempts to establish his cucumber and melon
floats, by cutting off" the roots of the aquatic
plants just mentioned, about two feet under the
water, so that they completely lose all con-
nection with the bottom of the lake, but retain
their former situation in respect to each other.
When thus detached from the soil, they are
pressed into somewhat closer contact, and
formed into beds of about two yards in
breadth, and of an indefinite length. The
heads of the sedges, reeds, and other plants of
the floats, are now cut off", and laid upon its
surface, and covered with a thin coat of mud,
which, at first intercepted in its descent, gra-
dually sinks into the mass of matted roots.
The bed floats, but is kept in its place by a
stake of willow driven through it at each end,
which admits of its rising or falling in accom-
modation to the rise or fall of the water. By
means of a long pole thrust amongst the weeds
at the bottom of the lake, from the side of a
boat, and turned round several times in the
same direction, a quantity of convervse and of
other plants is torn off" from the bottom, and
carried in the boat to the platform, where the
weeds are twisted into conical mounds, about
two feet in diameter at their base, and of tho
same height, terminating at the top in a hol-
low, which is filled with fresh soft mud, drawn
from the bottom of the lake, to which some-
limes wood ashes are added, though much
more frequently omitted. The farmer has in
preparation a large number of cucumber and
melon plants, which have been raised under
mats, and of these, when they have four leaves,
he places three plants in the basin of every
cone or mound, of which a double row runs
along the edge of every bed, at about two feet
distance from each other. No farther care
is necessary, except that of collecting Ihe
fruit ; and the expense of preparing the plat-
forms and cones is confined to the value of the
labour, which altogether is trifling, as the
work is very soon done. Perhaps a more
economical method of raising cucumbers can-
not be devised, and though the narrow beds
are ordinarily almost in contact by their sides,
yet, by their flexible nature, they are so sepa-
rable that a small boat may be readily pushed
between the lines without injuring the struc-
ture, and, for the most part, they will bear a
man's weight, but, generally, the fruit is pick-
ed oiT from the boat. I traversed a tract of
about fifty acres of these floating gardens of
cucumbers and melons, and saw not above
half a dozen unhealthy plants; nor have I
seen in the cucumber and melon in the vicini-
ty of very populous cities in Europe, or in
Asia, so large an expanse of plant in a state
equally healthy, though it must be observed,
without running into luxuriance of growth.
This condition indicated the situation to be
congenial to the constitution of the cucumber,
of which, however, a more substantial proof



was found in the very large number of young
fruit set near the crown, which certainly ex-

Online LibraryRobert SmithThe Friend : a religious and literary journal (Volume 16) → online text (page 134 of 154)