« ForrigeFortsett »
of the trunks carelessly allowed to shoot up in suckers, the leaves of which are devoured by cattle, or left uninjured to grow so thick as to ftifle each other by the exclusion of the light and air, and produce inSignificant brushwood, initead of the parent tree. It would be an use. ful suggestion to the uncivilized and negligent country people of these regions, to clear the ground of the stubs, which, on account of the deep flow, have been left standing a considerable height above the soil; and to rear nurseries of oak from the acorn; though such advice, if not enforced by a law made for that purpose, would probably be disre. garded. On the domains, especially, belonging to the crown, from which the Admiralty obtains much excellent timber for ship-building, provision ought to be made that in bushy grounds, or such as are en. tirely cleared of wood, acorns might be planted in proper places, and fecured from cattle by ditches ; thus a new and promising succession of timber would soon be obtained, Without this precaution a great scarcity of wood is to be apprehended throughout this territory, which is naturally favourable to its production,
'« On this and similar subjects connected with the scientific culture of trees, which has hitherto been altogether neglected in Ruilia, I have, by order of government in the year 1780, expatiated and suggested sixty-six proposals for those improvements which I thought were most consistent with the nature and conftitution of the country, and which might serve for the basis of a permanent regulation : extracts from these proposals having subsequently been transmitted to all the governments of the empire,
« In the small town of Sarank we changed horses, about noon on the 27th. Notwithstanding the trade it carries on by the manufac. ture of soap and leather, this town does not appear to be in a state of progreslive improvement. In this place, as well as in Pensa, and moft of the villages of this neighbourhood, the small Afiatic moths (Blatta Afatica; by the Ruilians called Prussaker) have transınigrated from the Volga, and become very troublelome. We met with them more commonly winged than without wings, and it is afferted that they drive before them and destroy the great moths (Blatta oricutalis, which more properly should be called Occidentalis, as America is their native country). They are fond of associating with the crickets, and if both are collected in a glass vessel, and placed upon snow, even in mild weather and sunshine, they grow torpid, their bodies swell, and they seem to die instantly, but quickly recover on being removed to a warm place.
“ Saraník, where we arrived on the 28th, in the afternoon, is 109 versts diftant from Pensa. The whole country is embellished with numerous villages belonging chiefly to noblemen; and it is one of the most fertile and productive grain-provinces of the Ruflian empire. The oak is here the most common species of wood, while the few forests of fir-trees in the rich loamy soil, consist only of crooked and Tinted trees, covered with branches from the bottom of the trunk to
"The birch and linden-tree delight in this foil, and flourish in
great perfection. The former could be eafily increased by feeds, and might serve, in many instances, instead of the oak. The lime-tree of this country is very favourable to the production of honey, and is the most proper tree for planting groves along the road. This plantation, which was ordered by government throughout the empire, and is cf. fected as far as two ftages beyond Saraník,
is usually so much neglected, or done with fuch fapless and weak young trees, that they soon wither away: as they are not planted deep enough in the soil, and neither fupported nor manured. Hence the necessity of placing, at least, three vigorous plants in every trench which should be dug in a dry foil, and fo deep that it may be filled up till within about nine inches of the surface around it, and then more moisture and shade would cherish the root. It is farther necessary to plant more than one row of trees on each side of the road, that they may afford mutual protection to each other.
“ Agriculture is most shamefully neglected in the government of Perfia, and the Boors, though poffefted of the most fertile country of the empire, live in miserable smoaky huts, and in the most disgusting ftate of uncleanliness. Nay, I must confess, that the inhabitants of chis diftri&t did not appear to me the moft virtuous subjects of the crown ; and their conduct to the nobility, during the rebellion, excited by Pugachef, bears evidence of their depravity:
“ Notwithstanding the numerous ftuds of the nobility, horses have, within the last twenty years, been advanced to double their foriner price throughout Russia, insomuch, that a common draught horse, which was formerly sold at fifteen rubles, is now valued at from thirty to thirty-five rubles. The boors of this district almost generally keep horses, which are of either a middle or small fize. Black cattle are likewise small. The sheep, on the contrary, are large, and of the species with short tails; their flesh is of an agreeable favour, but their wool is of inferior quality, and generally black. In February they yean commonly two lambs. Every boor keeps hogs for domeftic consumption; and in winter the pigs, lambs, and calves live in the fame apartments with almost every family. All kinds of poultry are large ; the geese are mostly of a spurious breed from the Chinese, or thole of a swan neck. Pidgeons fly about in numerous covies in every village.
“ The various species of grain which are principally cultivated in die government of Pensa, both for home consumption and exportation, conlist of rye, spelt, barley, oats, miller, and buckwhcat. Notwithstanding the abundance of those species of grain, there are very few good mills to be met with, and instead of finding good bread in Pensa, we were generally served with the worst imaginable. Al. though the soil is good, yet we were informed that wheat will not thrive, and that it is productive only in the vicinity of fome villages inhabited by Tartars in the lower countries of the Usa. Attempts have recently been made here, to cultivate a species of oats which by way of eminence is called (Mnogoplodnoi Owes), the productive grain. I have left with them several species of oats for farther ex.
periments. Hemp is cultivated and manufactured here. There is no doubt that the Chinese and Bologna hemp would thrive particularly well in this neighbourhood.
“ The grain is here placed in stacks near the villages, and beside open threshing-floors, till it is separated and dried for threshing in winter; the itraw is thrown away except what is used for litter and thatching. In a similar manner the dung in all these rich corocountries is thrown into pits and pools near the villages, and improvidently waited, because there is an abundance of fertile fallows, and new arable land. If the boors could be persuaded to mix this dung with the ashes of their hearths, with marle which every where abounds, and with good black earth, and to form beds of this composition on dry places, the production of nitre might thus be increased in Russia. Perhaps this object could in some measure be attained, if the labour bestowed on the manufacture of faltpetre were computed according to a settled regulation, and allowed to the peasants by a de. duction from their arrears (Nedoimki) due to the crown.—The crops of hay yield here from fifty to seventy poods * from the defærtine,tor two thousand four hundred square roods.
“ The city of Pensa (660 versts from Mosco, and 1394 from St. Petersburgh) surprized me in a very agreeable manner. By the kind. ness of the Governor, Lieutenant-General Stupilhin, we were accom. modated in one of the best new-built houses. When I visited this place in the year 1768, then only a country-town, I found it through. out built of wood, in a rude and irregular manner, the churches ex. cepted. Since the eitablishment of the provincial government, many noble families have been induced to settle here, and build strong ele. gant mansions disposed in regular streets, by which this city, not. withstanding its hilly situation, promises to become one of the most fourishing places of its rank,
“ Tra le and manufactures have progressively increased, and begin to fourish at Penfa. The shopkeepers and merchants have become more numerous, active, and opulent, since the nobility have made this city their residence. Besides the travelling dealers, several foreign merchants have settled here, and amply supply the inhabitants with every article of convenience and luxury; the latter of which has, tı. gether with: public amusements, already made its way hither. The noble families who refide here, and persons of rank who occasionally visit this town, have not only enlivened, but even rendered it fociaa, ble and polite. Among the noble visitors I shall mention principally his highness Prince Alexander Borissovitch Kurakin, who possesses cönfiderable estates in this government, and now enjoys a philosophic retirement, at a period of life much too early for the feclution of his talents. This concourse of persons of rank has induced them to in.
* A pood is forty pounds weight.
+ A desættine is 210 Rhenish feet broad, and 560 feet long, being 117,600 square feet,
fitute a private club, which consists of one hundred noble members, who assemble every Saturday, at a ball, in an elegant and spacious building erected on the principal place of the town. The disproportionately greater number of ladies who visit this ball, is ftill more remarkable than at Mosco; because many noblemen are absent froin their families, and employed in civil and military posts : perhaps the cruelties exercised in these countries, during the rebellion of Pugatthef, have also contributed to diminish the number of male nobility.
The governments of Peitsa, Nilhné-Norgorod, Limbirth, and Sa. ratof, are the true granaries of the Imperial capitals ; it is only to be regretted, that the greatest part of the inhabitants, and particularly the vafsals of the nobility, consist of settlers who came hither from all parts, and
Inay be fairly clafled among the most indolent and depraved peasantry of the empire. Nor have any effectual tteps been taken to facilitate the exportation of grain by the inland navigation of the Loma and Moktha, which might be easily improved, and likewise rendered subservient to the conveyance of timber for thip-building, A considerable proportion of the people inhabiting this government consists of Mordvines of the Mokihanic tribe, whó chiefly live in the woody countries along the river Moksha, and likewise in the mountainous regions between the Soura and Volga. Indeed, if we may judge from the names of the rivers and brooks, which are mostly of Mordvinic derivation, the government of Pensa must have formerly been the principal settlement of that people.
(To be continued.)
ART. V. Von den Goldgrubenden Ameisen und Greiffen der
Alten. i, e. Of the Gold-digging Ants and Griffons of the
32. Helmstädt. Fleckeisen, 1799.
whimsical story, relative to the gold-mining ants and
griffons, has been recorded for upwards of two thousand years. Long before the age in which Ctefias lived, it was narrated by Aristeas Proconnefius, but much more circumstantially by Herodotus; and about eighty years afterwards by Nearchus, who relates it with the confidence of an eye-wit, ness. Megasthenes and Strabo, as well as Pomponius Mela, Arian, Pliny and Ælian gave new interest 10 this fable, and Philostratus describes even the shape and colour of the Griffon, with an accuracy almost equal to that of Linnæus. From the 13th to the 17th century, this tradition was propagated by men of respectable talents and acknowledged integrity. The cele
brated De Thou positively maintained that Schach-Tamas, Sophi of Persia, had in the year 1559 made a present of a gold-mining ant, about the size of a dog, but uncommonly wild and ferocious, which together with some other valuable donations had been transmitted by his ambassador to Soliman the Great. Even in the present age, one of our most enlightened literary characters, Larcher, has publicly defended the existence of these ants, in his edition of Herodotus, tom. iii. (Notes sur la troisieme livre, p. 339.) So remarkable a fi&ion which is in a manner sanctioned by the veneration we owe to antiquity, is certainly intitled to a strict inquiry.
The noble and learned author has successfully attempted to explain the mysterious nature of this tradition, from the mechanical process or particular method in which the most ancient nations carried on their lavations of gold. He avails himself of the evidence of the writers already mentioned, and quotes the conclusive passages, particularly with a view to vindicate the opinions of Ctefias. The method of obtaining gold in the fandy desart of Shamo or Cobi, in Great Tartary, which extends from the borders of Great Thibet to the Chinese
Tartary, was perfectly similar to that which is everywhere known by the name of gold-wash, and which is still practised in Hungary, America, and other countries; to effect a complete separation of the metallic particles of gold from those of fand or other earthy substances. And as the precious annual product there obtained was, according to all accounts, very considerable, the nuinber of persons thus employed mult doubtless have been great. The work was carried on partly by children, but chicfly by slaves, prisoners of war, and state crimi. nals who were strictly guarded by overseers. On account of the intense degree of heat, and the constant labour in water, all the people employed were naked. (Diod. Sic. tom. i. P. 181 & feq.) The golden sand was cleansed and wathed in the open air, on hearths not unlike those which are at prefent used in our mills, for the washing of metallic earths, Instead of the common cloths for catching the gold duft, they made use of certain fox-skins which were indigenous to the country. (Strabo xi, p. 763. Appian. vol. i. p. 797. Edit, Schweig.) Hence it became necellary that a great number of these animals should be annually caught. Many of them were probably kept in the vicinity of the mines, while others were feared in the parks of the great, as a curious species of animal. (Herodotus lib. vii. p. 249.) In short, they were indispensably required in the gold-works; it was soon observed that they took up their usual abode under ground, and thus raised hillocks of sand and earth, similar to ant-hills ; but their pecu. liar uft was not understood,