water. Such of them as swim he rejects: the others, being washed clean: from the pulp, and skinned, are suffered to remain in water till they begin to sprout, when they are fit for planting. His next work is to take the leaves of the banana, or some other large leaf, one of which he places in the circumference of each hole, so as to line it withinside, leaving the sides of the leaf some inches above the ground; after which he rubs the mould in very lightly, till the hole is filled. Three nuts are then chosen for each hole, and planted triangularly, by making a small opening for each with his finger, about two inches deep, into which he puts the nuts, with that end downwards from which the sprout issues; and having lightly covered them with mould, he folds the edges of the leaf over them, and places a small stone on the top to prevents its opening. In the space of about eight or ten days, the young shoots begin to make their appearance above the earth, and call once more for the attendance of the planter, who unfolds the banana leaves, that the growth of the tender plant may not be impeded. In

order to shelter them from the sun, other leaves or branches are placed round the hole; and they are changed as often as they decay, during five or six months. Such tender care does the cacao require, and so requisite is shade to its growth and prosperity, that, besides the precautions I have mentioned, they are obliged to plant some other tree to the south-west of the plant, which may grow up with it, and serve it for shelter against the scorching rays of the sun: the erythina, or bean-tree, is generally chosen for this purpose. In the fifth year it begins to repay the cultivator for his trouble; and by the time it has stood eight years, attains its full perfection. It generally produces two crops of fruit in the year, and will sometimes continue bearing for twenty years. The same delicacy which marks its infancy, is apparent in all the stages of its growth; for it is obnoxious to blights, and shrinks from the first appearance of drought; and the greatest part of a whole crop of cacao-trees have been known to perish in a single night, without any visible cause.

AUGUSTA. I am surprised that any person has the patience and perseverance to cultivate a shrub that requires so much pains, and, after all, is so liable to disappoint the hopes of those who have reared it, at the expense of such a great deal of time and labour.

MRS. HARCOURT. I imagine that the profit it brings, when it succeeds, is the inducement to the attempt. Nothing is to be effected without pains and labour. We cannot learn the simplest mechanical operation without repeated efforts. Consider what numberless attempts an infant makes to speak or walk, before it can either articulate a perfect sound, or proceed a few steps by itself. In the same manner, the habits of performing most of the common operations of the body, which we practise, as it were insensibly, when we have arrived at maturity, are acquired by almost imperceptible degrees. A child learns to judge of the distances of objects by experience, as of the distance and nature of sounds. The powers of smelling, feeling, hearing, and seeing, exist in a new-born infant; though a considerable space of time passes before it is

capable of reaping much benefit from them: repeated and continual practice at length enables it to see, hear, taste, feel, and smell, with accuracy and precision, if it be born with perfect organs. This should teach us never to despair of attaining any degree of perfection in virtue or knowledge, of which our nature is capable. If indolence, pride, avarice, or anger, are the leading propensities of a man's disposition, let him war with determined resolution and unremitted care, against that particular vice to which he feels himself prone, and he will certainly come off victorious in the combat. Resistance against a predominant inclination is at first painful; by repetition it is rendered easy; and in time the practice of the opposite virtue becomes delightful.

MR. HARCOURT. The possibility of overcoming vicious inclinations, and correcting what is commonly called our nature, is finely exemplified in the story of Socrates and the physiognomist. A man who pretended to discover the characteristic marks of the disposition and affections, by the lines of the

face, was introduced to Socrates, without knowing the philosopher, and desired to declare, by the rules of his art, what kind of person Socrates was. He replied, after observing his countenance attentively, that he was a drunkard and a glutton, passionate, and a slave to vice in general. Upon which the company ridiculed his want of discernment, and denied all dependence on the truth of physiognomy; but Socrates reproved their rashness, acknowledging that in his youth he felt himself powerfully inclined to the very vices the man had named, but that resolution and perseverance had enabled him to overcome them: and all present knew that he had attained such command over himself, as to be celebrated as a model of virtue and morality. My dear Henry must lay aside his intention of entertaining us with the history of coffee, till to-morrow evening. It is too late to begin a fresh subject. Adieu, adieu.

« VorigeDoorgaan »