bearing the branches to the ground with their weight, the paler "Limaô dôce," or sweet lemon, rather insipid, but greatly esteemed here for its cool, refreshing properties, all these, with many others, make a mass of color in which gold, deep orange, and pale yellow blend wonderfully with the background of green. Beyond the house enclosure, on the opposite side of the road, are the gardens, with aviary and fish-ponds in the center. With these exceptions, all the property not forest is devoted to coffee, covering the hillsides for miles around. The seed is planted in nurseries especially prepared, where it undergoes its first year's growth. It is then transplanted to its permanent home, and begins to bear in about three years, the first crop being of course a very light one. From that time forward, under good care and with favorable soil, it will continue to bear, and even to yield two crops or more annually for thirty years in succession. At that time the shrubs and the soil are alike exhausted, and, according to the custom of the country, the fazendeiro cuts down the forest for a new plantation, completely abandoning his old one, without a thought of redeeming or fertilizing the exhausted land.

One of the long-sighted reforms undertaken by Mr. Lage is the manuring of all the old, deserted plantations on his estate; he has already a number of vigorous young plantations, which promise to be as good as if a virgin forest had been sacrificed to produce them. He wishes not only to preserve the wood on his own estate, and to show that agriculture need not be promoted at the expense of taste and beauty, but to remind his country people also, that, extensive as are the forests, they will not last forever, and that it will be necessary to emigrate before long to find new coffee-grounds, if the old ones are treated as worthless. Another of his reforms is that of the roads. The ordinary roads in the coffee plantations, like the mule-tracks all over the country, go straight up the sides of the hills between the lines of shrubs, and besides being gullied by every rain, they form so steep an ascent that even with eight or ten oxen it is often impossible to drive the clumsy, old-fashioned carts up the slope, and the negroes are obliged to bring a great part of the harvest down on their heads. On Senhor Lage's estate all these old roads are abandoned, except where they are planted here and there with alleys of orange-trees for the use of the negroes; and he has substituted for them winding roads in the side of the hill with a very gradual ascent, so that light carts drawn by a single mule can transport all the harvest from the summit of the plantation to the drying-ground.

It was the harvesting season, and the spectacle was a pretty one. The negroes, men and women, were scattered about the plantations with broad, shallow trays, made of plaited grass or bamboo, strapped over their shoulders and supported at their waists; into these they were gathering the coffee; some of the berries being brilliantly red, some already beginning to dry and turn brown, while here and there was a green one not yet quite ripe, but soon to ripen in the scorching sun. Little black children were sitting on the ground and gathering what fell under the bushes, singing at their work a monotonous but rather pretty snatch of song, in which some took the first and others the second, making a not inharmonious music. As their baskets were filled they came to the Administrador to receive a little metal ticket on which the amount of their work was marked.

- and each The requisi

A task is allotted to each one, so much to a full-grown man, so much to a woman with young children, so much to a child, one is paid for whatever he may do over and above it. tion is a very moderate one, so that the industrious have an opportunity of earning a little money independently. At night they all present their tickets and are paid on the spot, for any extra work. From the harvesting-ground we followed the carts down to the place where their burden is deposited. On their return from the plantation the negroes divide the day's harvest, and dispose it in little mounds on the drying-ground. When pretty equally dried, the coffee is spread out in thin even layers over the whole enclosure, where it is baked for the last time. It is then hulled by a very simple machine in use on almost all the fazendas, and the process is complete.

Yesterday we succeeded in obtaining living specimens of the insect so injurious to the coffee-tree, the larva of a little moth akin to those which destroy the vineyards in Europe, and among them was one just spinning his cocoon on the leaf. We watched him for a long time with the lens as he wove his filmy tent. He had arched the threads upwards in the center, so as to leave a little hollow space into which he could withdraw; this tiny vault seemed to be completed at the moment we saw him, and he was drawing threads forward and fastening them at a short distance beyond, thus lashing his . house to the leaf, as it were. The exquisite accuracy of the work was amazing. He was spinning the thread with his mouth, and with every new stitch he turned his body backward, attached his thread to the same spot, then drew it forward and fastened it exactly on a line with the last, with a precision and rapidity that machinery could hardly imitate.

It is a curious question how far this perfection of workmanship in many of the lower animals is simply identical with their organization, and therefore to be considered a function, as inevitable in its action as digestion or respiration, rather than an instinct. In this case the body of the little animal was his measure: it was amazing to see him lay down his threads with such accuracy, till one remembered that he could not make them longer or shorter; for, starting from the center of his house, and stretching his body its full length, they must always reach the same point. The same is true of the so-called mathematics of the bee. The bees stand as close as they can together in their hive for economy of space, and each one deposits his wax around him, his own form and size being the mould for the cells, the regularity of which when completed excites so much wonder and admiration. The mathematical secret of the bee is to be found in his structure, not in his instinct. But in the industrial work of some of the lower animals, the ant for instance, there is a power of adaptation which is not susceptible of the same explanation. Their social organization, too intelligent, it seems, to be the work of any reasoning powers of their own, yet does not appear to be directly connected with their strucWhile we were watching our little insect, a breath stirred the leaf and he instantly contracted himself and drew back under his roof, but presently came out again and returned to his work.



FIRST-BORN among the Continents, though so much later in culture and civilization than some of more recent birth, America, so far as her physical history is concerned, has been falsely denominated the New World. Hers was the first dry land lifted out of the waters, hers the first shore washed by the ocean that enveloped all the earth beside; and while Europe was represented only by islands rising here and there above the sea, America already stretched an unbroken line of land from Nova Scotia to the Far West.*

In the present state of our knowledge, our conclusions respecting the beginning of the earth's history, the way in which it took form and shape as a distinct, separate planet, must, of course, be very

* "It would be inexpedient to encumber this essay," Mr. Agassiz remarks,." with references to all the authorities on which such geological results rest. They are drawn from the various State Surveys, including that of the mineral lands of Lake Superior, in which the early rise of the American Continent is for the first time affirmed, and other more general works on American geology."

vague and hypothetical. Yet the progress of science is so rapidly reconstructing the past that we may hope to solve even this problem; and to one who looks upon man's appearance upon the earth as the crowning work in a succession of creative acts, all of which have had relation to his coming in the end, it will not seem strange that he should at last be allowed to understand a history which was but the introduction to his own existence. It is my belief that not only the future, but the past also, is the inheritance of man, and that we shall yet conquer our lost birthright.

Even now our knowledge carries us far enough to warrant the assertion that there was a time when our earth was in a state of igneous fusion, when no ocean bathed it and no atmosphere surrounded it, when no wind blew over it, and no rain fell upon it, but an intense heat held all its materials in solution. In those days the rocks which are now the very bones and sinews of our mother Earth — her granites, her porphyries, her basalts, her sienites were melted into a liquid mass. As I am writing for the unscientific reader, who may not be familiar with the facts through which these inferences have been reached, I will answer here a question which, were we talking together, he might naturally ask in a somewhat skeptical tone. How do you know that this state of things ever existed, and, supposing that the solid materials of which our earth consists were ever in a liquid condition, what right have you to infer that this condition was caused by the action of heat upon them? I answer, Because it is acting upon them still; because the earth we tread is but a thin crust floating on a liquid sea of molten materials; because the agencies that were at work then are at work now, and the present is the logical sequence of the past. From Artesian wells, from mines, from geysers, from hot springs, a mass of facts has been collected, proving incontestably the heated condition of all substances at a certain depth below the earth's surface; and if we need more positive evidence, we have it in the fiery eruptions that even now bear fearful testimony to the molten ocean seething within the globe and forcing its way out from time to time. The modern progress of Geology has led us by successive and perfectly connected steps back to a time when what is now only an occasional and rare phenomenon was the normal condition of our earth; when those internal fires were inclosed in an envelop so thin that it opposed but little resistance to their frequent outbreak, and they constantly forced themselves through this crust,

pouring out melted materials that subsequently cooled and consolidated on its surface. So constant were these eruptions, and so slight was the resistance they encountered, that some portions of the earlier rock-deposits are perforated with numerous chimneys, narrow tunnels as it were, bored by the liquid masses that poured out through them and greatly modified their first condition.

There is, perhaps, no part of the world, certainly none familiar to science, where the early geological periods can be studied with so much ease and precision as in the United States. Along their northern borders, between Canada and the United States, there runs the low line of hills known as the Laurentian Hills. Insignificant in height, nowhere rising more than fifteen hundred or two thousand feet above the level of the sea, these are nevertheless the first mountains that broke the uniform level of the earth's surface, and lifted themselves above the waters. Their low stature, as compared with that of other more lofty mountain-ranges, is in accordance with an invariable rule, by which the relative age of mountains may be estimated. The oldest mountains are the lowest, while the younger and more recent ones tower above their elders, and are usually more torn and dislocated also. This is easily understood when we remember that all mountains and mountain-chains are the result of upheavals, and that the violence of the outbreak must have been in proportion to the strength of the resistance. When the crust of the earth was so thin that the heated masses within easily broke through it, they were not thrown to so great a height, and formed comparatively low elevations, such as the Canadian hills or the mountains of Bretagne and Wales. But in later times, when young, vigorous giants, such as the Alps, the Himalayas, or, later still, the Rocky Mountains, forced their way out from their fiery prison-house, the crust of the earth was much thicker, and fearful indeed must have been the convulsions which attended their exit.

The Laurentian Hills form, then, a granite range, stretching from Eastern Canada to the Upper Mississippi, and immediately along its base are gathered the Azoic deposits, the first stratified beds, in which the absence of life need not surprise us, since they were formed beneath a heated ocean. As well might we expect to find the remains of fish or shells or crabs at the bottom of geysers or of boiling springs, as on those early shores bathed by an ocean of which the heat must have been so intense. Although from the condition in which we find

« VorigeDoorgaan »