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painter; and probably would in time have been, in some kinds of comedy, at the head of his profession. He had also no inconsiderable power of mimickry: but as in the rainbow all the colours of the prism are assembled at once, though the brightest and deepest only are distinctly visible; so, where there is one distinguished and superior talent, the person thus gifted unites and possesses usually all the rest, though in an inferior degree.
But to go back to his economy and self-denial. They were often such as to make me rashly imagine them to be wholly unnecessary: still, I respected so highly his motives for the privations to which he subjected both me and himself, that for the most part I submitted to them cheerfully, looking forward with a hope (which was not disappointed) that the time would come when our circumstances would allow us to have more of the comforts and elegancies of life, and to receive our friends in a manner more suited to the esteem which we entertained for them. The time did come ; but, unfortunately, it came too late. Mr. Opie was conscious that he had nearly realized the sum so long desired. I was allowed to make the long-projected alterations and improvements in my own apartments, and he had resolved to indulge himself, as he called it, in the luxury of keeping a horse. You may remember, my dear Sir, that when he had given over lecturing for the season, and you were requesting him to write a paper for The Artist against a given time, he replied that he was tired of writing, that he would be a gentleman during the spring months, keep a horse, and ride out every evening. The next time you saw him, he was on a sick couch, and the object of affectionate solicitude to all who surrounded him! He lived not to enjoy the independence which he had so virtuously toiled to obtain ; but was cut off in the prime of every possession and expectation, and in that year both of his married life and mine, which I can with truth aver was the most prosperous and the most happy!
rRoM frie UNIvensAL MAC Azi Nz. Particulars of the Pearl Fishery in the Bay of Condatschy.
Translated from the French Account of a Voyage to Ceylon, performed between the Pears 1790 and 1800.
THE Island of Ceylon affords no greater curiosity to an European, than a view of this bay, during the pearl fishery. This arid desert then presents a scene of such variety, that I cannot say I have cver seen any thing that can be compared to it. The confluence of many thousands of individuals of all colours incessantly passing and repassing—the great number of tents and huts erected upon the shores, each of which has its shop—the multitude of barks that return in the afternoon from the fishery, many of them loaded with riches—the anxiety painted upon the faces of the owners at the time when the barks are nearing the shore— the haste with which they approach them in hopes of finding a valuable cargo—the prodigious number of jewellers, brokers, and merchants, of all nations and all colours, both natives and foreigners, all engaged about pearls, some separating and assorting, some weighing, some examining the number and value, and some perforating them,-all these details united, make a very lively impression upon the spectators. The first object, before the fishery commences, is to examine the various oyster banks, and the state of the oysters, and to make a report to government accordingly. If the quantity is then supposed to be sufficient, and that they are come to a proper degree of maturity, the banks upon which the oysters are to be found are put up to auction, and some black is commonly the auctioneer; but sometimes the government think proper to cause the fishery to be carried on upon their own account, and afterwards, likewise, to sell the pearls to the merchants. The pearl fishery begins in the month of February, and terminates early in April. Six weeks, or two months at most, is the time fixed by the merchants for this operation. All the barks being assembled in the bay of Condatschy, from hence they depart and return together every day.—As the signal for sailing, a gun is fired about six o'clock, and the fleet gets under sail with a sea breeze. It arrives at the banks before day-break, and at sunrise the divers begin diving. This continues without intermission till the breeze which springs up towards the south gives the signal for the barks to return to the bay.—The return is announced to the proprietors by the firing of another gun, who are in continual agitation till this takes place. The moment they arrive, the cargo is brought on shore, as it is necessary the whole of them should be unloaded before night.—But, however bad their success may have been, the proprietors very rarely betray any marks of dissatisfaction, as they always flatter themselves with being more successful another time. Each bark carries twenty men, and a tindal, or master, who acts as pilot. Ten of the crew are attached to the oars, and assist the divers in coming up again. The divers descend five at a time, and when the first five are up the others replace them, diving alternately, merely taking time just sufficient to renew their breath. To hasten the descent of the divers, the following means are used: They bring five large pieces of reddish granite stone on board, common in this country, which, though rounded at both extremities, are still of a pyramidical form—a hole is made through the smallest part of them, sufficient to pass a cord. In order to have their feet at liberty, some divers make use of a stone, cut in the form of a half moon; and these stones they tie round their waist, or below the belly, when they enter into the Water. Accustomed to this exercise from their earliest infancy, the divers are not afraid to dive from four to ten fathom. When either of the divers is upon the point of going down, he siezes with the toes of his right foot the cord attached to one of the stones just described, while upon those of the left foot he takes a bag net. All the Indians have the faculty of using their toes with the same facility as their fingers; and, such is the force of habit, that with their toes only, they can bring up the smallest object whatever from the bottom with as much ease as an European would with the use of his fingers. The diver, being thus prepared, takes another cord in his right hand, and, closing his nostrils with the left, descends into the ocean, to the bottom of which he is rapidly drawn by the stone. He then gets the bag net from his neck before him, and, with as much promptitude as address, he collects as large a number of oysters as possible during the space of time he remains under water; which is, generally speaking, about two minutes. Afterwards, regaining his first position, he gives the signal for assistance, by pulling the cord that he holds in his left hand. By these means he is up again in a moment, and is received into the bark. As to the stone which is left at the bottom, that is drawn up by means of the cord to which it is attached. The efforts made by the divers during this operation are so violent, that when they come up, they throw up water, and sometimes even blood, from their mouths, their ears, and their nostrils. This, however, does not prevent them from diving again when it comes to their turn. They frequently dive from forty to fifty times in a day, and bring up a hundred oysters each time. Some of them rub their bodies with oil, and stop up their ears and nostrils to keep out the water: others do not use any precaution whatever. - But, thbugh in general they do not remain more than two minutes at the bottom of the sea, there are some who can stay four or five minutes, which, says the writer, I have seen by a young Caffre, the last time I assisted in the pearl fishery. No person was ever known to have remained longer under water, excepting a diver who came from Anjango in 1797, and he staid there six Dmlnutes. . . . . . . . . .
Thanks to the suppleness of the limbs of the Indians, and the habit they have contracted from their infancy this exercise, which an European considers so painful and dangerous, is extremely familiar to them. What they fear the most, is to meet with a shark, whilst they are at the bottom. This terrible creature is common in the seas that lave the coasts of India, and is the object of continual alarm to those who venture into the water. Some divers, however, have the address to evade the shark, though they still continue their time underneath. But the terror which they generally labour under is so permanent, and the certainty of escape so weak, that, guided by superstition, they have recourse to supernatural means to secure themselves from an enemy so formidable. Before they dive, they seldom fail to consult a conjuror, or an exorcist, and they implicitly believe whatever he tells them. According to the cast and the sect to which the diver belongs, various preparatory ceremonies are prescribed, in the exact performance of which they place a confidence, which nothing can weaken. Their credulity is always the same, though the event should turn out in direct opposition to the predictions of the impostor. The appearance of a single shark is enough to spread terror among the divers. This they communicate to their comrades of the other barks, when their terror is generally so great, that they return to the bay, and refuse to fish any more for the rest of the day. Sometimes all this alarm is caused by nothing more than one of the divers cutting his foot by treading upon a sharp stone; but as the business of the fishery suffers considerably by these false alarms, the fact is rigidly inquired into ; and if any fraud is discovered, the authors are severely punished. During the time the barks are returning to the bay, the proprietors are exposed to the chance of losing a number of their finest pearls. When the oysters are left in a state of rest for any time, they frequently open of themselves; and then a fine pearl is easily discovered, by thrusting any small substance between the shells to keep them open. After this, the theft is not difficult to commit, and particularly among those who are employed to search the oyster for pearls. But when the proprietors suppose this to have been the fact, they put the offenders under close confinement, and give them strong emetics and cathartics, by which they frequently recover the objects of research. Being landed, the oysters are carried away by those persons to whom they belong, and deposited in pits about two feet depth. They are sometimes placed in small squares, enclosed in with rails, each merchant having his particular division. A mat being spread upon the ground to prevent the oysters from touching it, they are then suffered to putrify. After this they are dried, and then they may be opened without running any risque of damaging the pearls, which would infallibly be the case if they were to be taken from the oysters whilst they are fresh. When the shells are divided, the oysters are attentively examined, and they are sometimes boiled because the pearl commonly found in the shell is often enclosed in the body of the oyster. The bad smell occasioned by the oysters when in a state of putrefaction, is often insupportable, and continues a longtime after the fishery, extending several miles about Condatschy, rendering the whole country the most disagreeable and unwholesome, till the setting in of the monsoons purifies the air. This unwholesome air, however, does not repress those persons actuated by the love of gain; for, several months after the fishing season is over, a number of individuals may be seen walking about with their eyes fixed to the ground, and searching every spot where the oysters have been in a state of putrefaction. Very frequently some of these have the good fortune to find a pearl, which amply rewards them for their pains. In the year 1797, a man of the lowest class discovered one of very great value, which he dispo
sed of for a considerable sum.
ANECDOTES COLLECTED FROM THE PRIVATE LIFE OF PETER THE GREAT, EMPEROR OF RUSSIA.
PETER died, as he had lived, a great man! Every circumstance of his malady, and the cause of his death could only appertain to an extraordinary personage. A too frequent use of strong liquors had occasioned a violent pain in the neck of the bladder; and he could not bring himself to disclose the nature of his disorder. This conqueror, this intrepid warrior, who had so often confronted death at the head of his armies, could not conquer a false delicacy: it cost him his life. It is certain that had he discovered his malady from the beginning, he might have lived thirty years longer; he was of a strong constitution, and this disorder, in its commencement, was a thing of no consequence.
This childish timidity, this species of innocence and modesty,”
* He was modest, in two senses; and modesty and simplicity were, at that time, the accompaniments of great minds. I knew only the Marechal Villars, who was an exception to this rule. After a long succession of military glory and brilliant actions, he might have aspired to the title of a great man, if he had not sounded his own praises; ever boasting, he spoke of only his own merits and services, and had all the vanity of a man risen from nothing.