D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

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^ I'ublid l(ibriiiy



MAY. 1881.


By Professor DAVID S. JOKDAN.

IN the realm of the Northwest Wind, on the boundary-line between
the dai-k fir-forests and the sunny plains, there stands a mountain,
a great white cone two miles and a half in perpendicular height. On
its lower mile, the dense fir-woods cover it Avith never-changing green ;
on its next half-mile, a lighter green of grass and bushes gives place in
winter to white ; and, on its uppermost mile, the snows of the great Ice
age still linger in unspotted purity. The people of Washington Ter-
ritory say that this mountain is the great " King-pin of the Universe,"
which shows that, even in its own country. Mount Rainier is not with-
out honor.

Flowing down from the southwest slope of Mount Rainier is a
cold, clear river fed by the melting snows of the mountain. Madly it
hastens down over white cascades and beds of shining sands, through
birch-woods and belts of dark firs to mingle its waters at last with
those of the great Columbia.

This river is the Cowlitz, and on its bottom, not many years ago,
there lay half-buried in the sand a number of little orange-colored
globules, each about as large as a pea. These were not much in them-
selves, but, like the philosopher's monads, each one had in it the prom-
ise and potency of an active life. In the water above them, little
suckers and chubs and prickly sculpins were straining their mouths to
draw these globules from the sand, and vicious-looking crawfishes
picked them up with their blundering hands and examined them with
their telescopic eyes. But one, at least, of the globules escaped their
scientific curiosity, else this story would not be worth telling.

The sun shone down on it through the clear water, and the ripples
of the Cowlitz said over it their incantations, and in it at last awoke a

VOL. XIX.— 1


living being. It was a fish, a curious little fellow, only half an inch
long, with great, staring eyes which made almost half his length, and a
body so transparent that he could not cast a shadow. He was a little
salmon, a very little salmon, but the water was good, and there were
flies, and worms, and little living creatures in abundance for him to
eat, and he soon became a larger salmon. And there were many more
little salmon with him, some larger and some smaller, and they all had
a merry time. Those who had been born soonest and had grown
largest used to chase the others around and bite off their tails, or, still
better, take them by the heads and swallow them whole, for, said they,
" Even young salmon are good eating." " Heads I win, tails you lose "
was their motto. Thus, what was once two small salmon became
united into one larger one, and the process of " addition, division, and
silence," still went on.

By-and-by, when all the salmon were too small to swallow the
others, and too large to be swallowed, they began to grow restless and
to sigh for a change. They saw that the water rushing by seemed to
be in a great hurry to get somewhere, and one of them suggested that
its hurry was caused by something good to eat at the other end of its
course. Then they all started down the stream, salmon-fashion, which
fashion is to get into the current, head up-stream, and so to drift
backward as the river sweeps along.

Down the Cowlitz River they went for a day and a night, finding
much to interest them which we need not know. At last, they began
to grow hungry, and, coming near the shore, they saw an angle-worm
of rare size and beauty floating in an eddy of the stream. Quick as
thought one of the boys opened his mouth, which was well filled with
teeth of different sizes, and put it around that angle- worm. Quicker
still he felt a sharp pain in his gills, followed by a smothering sensa-
tion, and in an instant his comrades saw him rise straight into the air.
This was nothing new to them, for they often leaped out of the water
in their games of hide-and-seek, but only to come down again with a
loud splash not far from where they went out. But this one never
came back, and the others went on their course wondering.

At last they came to where the Cowlitz and the Columbia join,
and they were almost lost for a time, for they could find no shores,
and the bottom and the top of the water were so far apart. Here they
saw other and far larger salmon in the deepest part of the current,
turning neither to the right nor left, but swimming straight on up just
as rapidly as they could. And these great salmon would not stop for
them, and would not lie and float with the current. They had no
time to talk, even in the simple sign-language by which fishes express
their ideas, and no time to eat. They had an important work before
them, and the time was short. So they went on up the river, keeping
their great purposes to themselves, and our little salmon and his
friends from the Cowlitz drifted down the stream.


By-and-by the water began to change. It grew denser, and no
longer flowed rapidly along, and twice a day it used to turn about and
flow the other way. And the shores disappeared, and the water began
to have a different and peculiar flavor — a flavor which seemed to the
salmon much richer and more inspiring than the glacier-water of
their native Cowlitz. And there were many curious things to see ;
crabs with hard shells and savage faces, but so good when crushed and
swallowed ! Then there were luscious squid swimming about, and, to
a salmon, squid are like ripe peaches and cream for dinner. There
were great companies of delicate sardines and herring, green and
silvery, and it was such fun to chase them and to capture them !

Those who eat only sardines, packed in oil by greasy fingers, and
herrings dried in the smoke, can have little idea how satisfying it is
to have one's stomach full of them, plump and sleek, and silvery, fresh
from the sea.

Thus they chased the herrings about and had a merry time. Then
they were chased about in turn by great sea-lions, swimming mon-
sters with huge half-human faces, long thin whiskers, and blundering
ways. The sea-lions liked to bite out the throats of the salmon, with
their precious stomachs full of luscious sardines, and then to leave the
rest of the fish to shift for itself.

And the seals and the herrings scattered the salmon about, and at
last the hero of our story found himself quite alone, with none of his
own kind near him. But that did not trouble him much, and he went
on his own way, getting his dinner when he was hungry, which was
all the time, and then eating a little between-meals for his stomach's

So it went on for three long years ; and at the end of this time our
little fish had grown to be a great, fine salmon, of forty pounds' weight,
shining and silvery as a new tin pan, and Avith rows of the loveliest
round black spots on his head, and back, and tail. One day, as he was
swimming about, idly chasing a big sculpin, with a head so thorny
that he never was swallowed by anybody, all of a sudden the salmon
noticed a change in the water around him.

Spring had come again, and the south-lying snow-drifts on the Cas-
cade Mountains once more felt that the " earth was wheeling sunward,"
and the cold snow-waters ran down from the mountains and into the
Columbia River, and made a freshet on the river, and the high water
went far out into the sea, and out in the sea our salmon felt it on his
gills ; and he remembered how the cold water used to feel in the
Cowlitz when he was a little fish, and in a blundering, fishy fashion
he thought about it, and wondered whether the little eddy looked as
it used to, and whether caddice-worms and young mosquitoes were
really as sweet and tender as he used to think they were ; and he
thought some other things, but, as a salmon's mind is located in the
optic lobes of his brain, and ours in a different place, we can not be


certain, after all, what his thoughts really were. What he did we know.
He did what every grown salmon in the ocean does when he feels the
glacier-water once more upon his gills. He became a changed being.
He spurned the blandishments of soft-shelled crabs. The pleasures of
the table and of the chase, heretofore his only delights, lost their
charms for him. He turned his course straight toward the direction
whence the cold fresh water came, and for the rest of his life he never
tasted a mouthful of food. He moved on toward the river-mouth, at
first playfully, as though he were not really certain whether he meant
anything, after all. Afterward, Avhen he struck the full current of the
Columbia, he plunged straight forward with an unflinching determi-
nation that had in it something of the heroic. When he had passed
the rough water at the bar, he found that he was not alone ; his old
neighbors of the Cowlitz and many more, a great army of salmon,
were with him. In front were thousands ; pressing on, and behind
them, were thousands more, all moved by a common impulse, which
urged them up the Columbia.

Tliey were swimming bravely along where the current was deep-
est, when suddenly the foremost felt something tickling like a cobweb
about their noses and under their chins. They changed their course
a little to brush it oif, and it touched their fins as well. Then they
tried to slip down with the current, and thus to leave it behind. But
no — the thing, whatever it was, although its touch was soft, refused to
let go, and held them like a fetter ; and, the more they struggled, the
tighter became its grasp. And the whole foremost rank of the salmon
felt it together, for it was a great gill-net, a quarter of a mile long,
and stretched squarely across the mouth of the river. By-and-by men
came in boats and hauled up the gill-net and threw the helpless salmon
into a pile on the bottom of the boat, and the others saw them no more.
We that live outside the water know better what befalls them, and we
can tell the story which the salmon could not.

All along the banks of the Columbia River, from its mouth to
nearly thirty miles away, there is a succession of large buildings,
looking like great bams or warehouses, built on piles in the river,
and high enough to be out of the reach of floods. There are thirty
of these buildings, and they are called canneries. Each cannery has
about forty boats, and with each boat are two men and a long gill-
net, and these nets fill the whole river as with a nest of cobwebs from
April to July ; and to each cannery nearly a thousand great salmon
are brought in every day. These salmon are thrown in a pile on the
floor ; and Wing Hop, the big Chinaman, takes them one after another
on the table, and with a great knife dexterously cuts off the head, the
tail, and the fins ; then with a sudden thrust removes the intestines
and the eggs. The body goes into a tank of water, and the head goes
down the river to be made into salmon-oil. Next, the body is brought
on another table, and Quong Sang, with a machine like a feed-cutter,


cuts it into pieces just as long as a one-pound can. Then Ah Sam, with
a butcher-knife, cuts these pieces into strips just as wide as the can.
Then Wan Lee, the China boy, brings down from the loft, where the
tinners are making them, a hundred cans, and into each can puts a
spoonful of salt. It takes just six salmon to fill a hundred cans. Then
twenty Chinamen put the pieces of meat into the cans, fitting in little
strips to make them exactly full. Then ten more solder up the cans,
and ten more put the cans in boiling water till the meat is thoroughly
cooked, and five more punch a little hole in the head of each can to let
out the air. Then they solder them up again, and little girls paste on
them bright-colored labels showing merry little Cupids riding the happy
salmon up to the cannery-door, with Mount Rainier and Cape Disap-
pointment in the background ; and a legend underneath says that this
is " Booth's " or " Badollet's Best," or " Hume's" or " Clark's," or " Kin-
ney's Superfine Salt-water Salmon." Then the cans are placed in cases,
forty-eight in a case, and five hundred thousand cases are put up every
year. Great ships come to Astoria and are loaded with them, and
they carry them away to London, and San Francisco, and Liverpool,
and New York, and Sydney, and Valparaiso, and Skowhegan, Maine ;
and the man at the corner grocery sells them at twenty cents a can.

All this time our salmon is going up the river, escaping one net as
by a miracle, and soon having need of more miracles to escape the
rest ; passing by Astoria on a fortunate day, which was Sunday, the
day on which no man may fish if he expects to sell what he catches,
till finally he came to where nets were few, and, at last, to where they
ceased altogether. But here he found that scarcely any of his many
companions were with him, for the nets cease when there are no more
salmon to be caught in them. So he went on day and night where the
water was deepest, stopping not to feed or loiter on the way, till at
last he came to a wild gorge, where the great river became an angry
torrent rushing wildly over a huge staircase of rocks. But our hero
did not falter, and, summoning all his forces, he plunged into the Cas-
cades. The current caught him and dashed him against the rocks.
A whole row of silvery scales came off and glistened in the water like
sparks of fire, and a place on his side became black and red, which, for
a salmon, is the same as being black and blue for other people. His
comrades tried to go up with him ; and one lost his eye, one his tail,
and one had his lower jaw pushed back into his head like the joints of
a telescope. Again he tried to surmount the Cascades, and at last he
succeeded, and an Indian on the rocks above was waiting to receive
him. But the Indian with his spear was less skillful than he was wont
to be, and our hero escaped, losing only a part of one of his fins, and
with hira came one other, and henceforth these two pursued their jour-
ney together.

Now a gradual change took place in the looks of our salmon. In
the sea he was plump and round and silvery, with delicate teeth, and


as handsome and symmetrical a mouth as any one need wish to kiss.
Now his silvery color disappeared, his skin grew slimy, and the scales
sank into it ; his back grew black and his sides turned red — not a
healthy red, but a sort of hectic flush. He grew poor, and his back,
formerly as straight as need be, now developed an unpleasant hump at
the shoulders. His eyes — like those of all enthusiasts who forsake eat-
ing and sleeping for some loftier aim — became dark and sunken. His
symmetrical jaws grew longer and longer, and, meeting each other, as
the nose of an old man meets Bis chin, each had to turn aside to let
the other pass. And his beautiful teeth grew longer and longer, and
projected from his mouth, giving him a savage and wolfish appearance,
quite unlike his real disposition. For all the desires and ambitions of
his nature had become centered into one. We do not know what this
one was, but we know that it was a strong one, for it had led him on
and on, past the nets and horrors of Astoria, past the dangerous Cas-
cades, past the spears of the Indians, tlirough the terrible flume of the
Dalles, where the mighty river is compressed between huge rocks into
a channel narrower than a village street ; on past the meadows of
Umatilla and the wheat-fields of Walla Walla ; on to where the great
Snake River and the Columbia join ; on up the Snake River and its
eastern branch, till at last he reached the foot of the Bitter-Root Moun-
tains in the Territory of Idaho, nearly a thousand miles from the ocean,
which he had left in April. With him still was the other salmon
which had come with him through the Cascades, handsomer and smaller
than he, and, like him, growing poor and ragged and tired. At last,
one October afternoon, they came together to a little clear brook, Avith a
bottom of fine gravel, over which the water was but a few inches deep.
Our fish painfully worked his way to it, for his tail was all frayed out,
his muscles were sore, and his skin covered with unsightly blotches.
But his sunken eyes saw a ripple in the stream, and under it a bed of
little pebbles and sand. So there in the sand he scooped out with his
tail a smooth, round place, and his companion came and filled it with
orange-colored eggs. Then our salmon came back again, and, softly
covering the eggs, the work of their lives was done, and, in the old
salmon-fashion, they drifted tail foremost down the stream.

Next morning, a settler in the Bitter-Root region, passing by the
brook near his house, noticed that a " dog-salmon " had run in there
and seemed "mighty nigh tuckered out." So he took a hoe, and, wad-
ing into the brook, rapped the fish on the head with it, and carrying it
ashore threw it to the hogs. But the hogs had a surfeit of salmon-
meat, and they ate only the soft parts, leaving the head untouched.
And a wandering naturalist found it there, and sent it to th6 United
States Fish Commission to be identified, and thus it came to me.





" Force begets Fortitude and conquers Fortune." — IIf.lyetius.

PHYSICAL vigor is the basis of all moral and bodily Avelfare, and
a chief condition of permanent health. Like manly strength
and female purity, gymnastics and temperance should go hand in
hand. An effeminate man is half sick ; without the stimulus of phys-
ical exercise, the complex organism of the human body is liable to
disorders which abstinence and chastity can only partly counteract.
By increasing the action of the circulatory system, athletic sports pro-
mote the elimination of effete matter and quicken all the vital pro-
cesses till languor and dyspepsia disappear like rust from a busy
plowshare. " When I reflect on the immunity of hard-working peo-
ple from the effects of wrong and overfeeding," says Dr. Boer-
haave, " I can not help thinking that most of our fashionable diseases
might be cured mechameally instead of chemically, by climbing a
bitterwood-tree or chopping it down, if you like, rather than swallow-
ing a decoction of its disgusting leaves." The medical philosopher,
Asclepiades, Pliny tells us, had found that health could be preserved,
and if lost, restored, by physical exercise alone, and not only discarded
the use of internal remedies, but made a public declaration that he
would forfeit all claim to the title of a physician if he should ever fall
sick or die but by violence or extreme old age. Asclepiades kept his
word, for he lived upward of a century, and died from the effects of
an accident. He used to prescribe a course of gymnastics for every
form of bodily ailment, and the same physic might be successfully
applied to certain moral disorders, incontinence, for instance, and the
incipient stages of the alcohol-habit. It would be a remedy ad prin-
ciplum, curing the symptoms by removing the cause, for some of the
besetting vices of youth can with certainty be ascribed to an excess of
that potential energy which finds no outlet in the functions of our
sedentary mode of life. In large cities parents owe their children a
provision for a frequent opportunity of active exercise, as they owe
them an antiseptic diet in a malarious climate.

Nor can this obligation be evaded by depreciating the importance
of physical culture as distinct from that of the mental faculties. For
the term of their earthly pilgrimage the human body and the most im-
mortal soul are more inseparable and more interdependent than the
horse and its rider : a Centaur would hardly have promoted his higher
interests by neglecting the equine part of his person. " I have sinned
against ray brother, the Ass," said St. Francis, when the abuse of his


body had bi'ought on a mortal disease. For the idea that the suprem-
acy of the mind could be enforced by debilitating penances is a fatal
mistake ; an enervated body, instead of ministering to the needs of the
mind, becomes its tyrant, a querulous, capricious, and exorbitant mas-
ter. Every hospital attendant knows that, with the rarest exceptions,
the sufferers from exhausting diseases have no more self-control than
a fretful child. Neither can the progress of our mechanical industries
be made a pretext for undervaluing the advantages of an athletic edu-
cation. It has been prophesied that the time will come when the auto-
crat of the breakfast-table shall break his egg with a dynamite wafer ;
but, unless we invent a labor-saving contrivance for every muscle of
the human organism, there is not a day in the year nor an hour in the
day when the practical business of life can not be performed more
easily and more pleasantly with the aid of a vigorous body, not to re-
raention the moral disadvantages which never fail to attend the loss of
manly self-reliance. Active exercises also confer beauty of form and a
natural grace of deportment. " By their system of physical culture,"
says a Scotch author, " the Greeks realized that beautiful symmetiy
of shape which for us exists only in the ideal, or in the forms of di-
vinity which they sculptured from figures of such perfect proportions."
That a man's welfare in every sense of the word depends upon the
normal development of his body might, therefore, seem an axiom
whose self-evidence could be questioned only in a fit of insane infatu-
ation ; yet an Oriental fanatic has succeeded in tainting countless mill-
ions of his fellow-men with this very insanity. About .six hundred
years before the beginning of our chronological era, a speculative
philosopher of northern Hindostan set about to investigate the origin
of the sufferings which so often make human life a burden instead of
a blessing, and, failing to trace these afflictions to any avoidable cause,
he took it into his head that terrestrial existence itself must be an
evil, and conceived the unhappy idea of preaching a crusade against
the love of earth and the rights of the human body, as distinct from
a supposed preternatural part of our being. His success has been,
beyond all compare, the greatest calamity that ever befell the human
race since the days of the traditional deluge ; not only that the doc-
trines of Gautama bore their fruit in the utter physical degeneration
of his native country, and the populous empires of Eastern Asia, but,
seven centuries after, the essential doctrines of Buddhism, intensified
by an admixture of Gnostic demonism and Hebrew mythology, were
preached upon the shores of the Mediterranean and invaded the para-
dise of the Aryan jiations. A mania of self-torture and miracle-wor-

Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe Popular science monthly (Volume 19) → online text (page 1 of 110)