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ble detachment leaves the sanguine city, advances in a body, and surrounds the enemy.
The strength and perseverance of ants are perfectly wonderful. Kirby states, that he once saw two or three horse-ants hauling along a young snake not dead, which was of the thickness of a goose-quill. St. Pierre relates, that he saw a number of ants carrying off a Patagonian centipede: they had seized it by all its legs, and bore it along as workmen do a large piece of timber. Nothing can divert them from any purpose which they have undertaken to execute. In warm climates they may be frequently seen marching in columns which exceed all power of enumeration; always pursuing a straight course, from which nothing can cause them to deviate : if they come to a house or other building, they storm or undermine it; if a river cross their path, they will endeavor to swim over it, though millions perish in the attempt.
It is related of the celebrated conqueror Timour, that being once forced to take shelter from his enemies in a ruined building, he sat alone many hours : desirous of diverting his mind from his hopeless condition, he fixed his observation upon an ant which was carrying a grain of corn (probably a pupa) larger than itself, up a high wall. Numbering the efforts that it made to accomplish this object, he found that the grain fell sixtynine times to the ground; but the seventieth time it reached the top of the wall. “This sight,” said Timour, “ gave me courage at the moment, and I have never forgotten the lesson it conveyed.”
TERMITES, OR WHITE ANTS ALMOST all that we know concerning the habits and instincts of these curious animals is derived from an account published by Smeathman, in the “ Philosophi. cal Transactions” for 1781. The proceedings of this insect-tribe, as detailed in that paper, are so singular, that they cannot fail to prove interesting to the reader.
The termites are represented by Linnæus as the greatest plagues of both Indies, and indeed, between Vol. I.
the Tropics, they are justly so considered, from the vast damages and losses which they cause : they perforate and eat into wooden buildings, utensils, and furniture, with all kinds of household stuff, and merchandise; these they totally destroy, if their progress be not timely stopped. A person residing in the equinoctial regions, although not incited by curiosity, must be very fortunate if the safety of his property do not compel him to observe their habits.
“When they find their way," says Kirby, “into houses or warehouses, nothing less hard than metal or glass escapes their ravages. Their favorite food, however, is wood, and so infinite is the multitude of assailants, and such the excellence of their tools, that all the timber work of a spacious apartment is often destroyed by them in a night. Outwardly, every thing appears as if untouched; for these wary depredators, and this is what constitutes the greatest singularity of their history, carry on all their operations by sap or mine, destroying first the inside of solid substances, and scarcely ever attacking their outside until first they have concealed it and their operations with a coat of clay.”
An engineer having returned from surveying the country, left his trunk on a table; the next morning he found not only all his clothes destroyed by white ants or cutters, but his papers also, and the latter in such a manner, that there was not a bit left of an inch square. The black lead of his pencils was consumed, the clothes were not entirely cut to pieces and carried away, but appeared as if moth-eaten, there being scarcely a piece ás large as a shilling that was free from small holes ; and it was farther remarkable, that some silver coin, which was in the trunk, had a number of black specks on it, caused by something so corrosive, that they could not be rubbed off, even with sand. “One night,” says Kemper, “in a few hours, they pierced one foot of the table, and having in that manner ascended, carried their arch across it, and then down, through the middle of the other foot, into the floor, as good luck would have it, without doing any damage to the papers left there."*
* Hist. Japan, vol. ii. p. 127.
The destructiveness of these insects is, perhaps, one of the most efficient means of checking the pernicious luxuriance of vegetation within the tropics ; no large animals could effect in months what the white ant can execute in weeks; the largest trees which, falling, would rot, and render the air pestilential, are so tho. roughly removed, that not a grain of their substance is to be recognised. Not only is the air freed from this corrupting matter, but the plants destroyed by the shade of these bulky giants of the vegetable world are thus permitted to shoot. * The nests of these insects are usually termed hills by natives, as well as strangers, from their outward appearance, which, being more or less conical, generally resemble the form of a sugar-loaf; they rise about ten or twelve feet in perpendicular height above the ordinary surface of the ground.
They continue quite bare till they reach the height of six or eight feet; but in time the dead barren clay of which they are composed becomes fertilized by the
genial influence of the elements in these prolific climates, and in the second or third year, the hillock, if not overshaded by trees, becomes like the rest of the earth, almost covered with grass and other plants; and in the dry season, when the herbage is burnt up by the rays of the sun, it appears not unlike a very large haycock. “But of all extraordinary things I observed," says Adanson, "nothing struck me more than certain eminences, which, by their height and regularity, made mê take them at a distance for an assemblage of negro huts, or a considerable village, and yet they are only the nests of certain insects."*
Sméathman has drawn a comparison between these labors of the termes and the works of man, taking the termes' laborer åt one-fourth of an inch long, and man at six feet high. When a termes has built one inch, or four times its height it is equivalent to twenty-four feet, or four times the height of man. One inch of the termes' building being proportionate to twenty-four feet of human building, twelve inches, or one foot, of the former must be proportionate to twelve times twentyfour, or two hundred and eighty-eight feet, of the latter; consequently, when the white ant has built one foot, it has, in point of labor, equalled the exertions of a man who has built two hundred and eighty-eight feet; but as the ant hills are ten feet high, it is evident that human beings must produce a work of two thousand eight hundred and eighty feet in height, to compete with the industry of their brother insect. The Great Pyramid is about one-fifth of this height; and as the solid contents of the ant hill are in the same proportion, they must equally surpass the solid contents of that ancient wonder of the world.
Every one of these hills consist of two distinct parts, the exterior and the interior.
The exterior consists of one shell formed in the manner of a dome, large and strong enough to enclose and shelter the interior from the vicissitudes of the weather, and the inhabitants from the attacks of natural or ac.
* Voyage to Senegal,
cidental enemies. It is, therefore, in every instance much stronger than the interior of the building, which, being the habitable part, is divided, with a wonderful degree of regularity and contrivance, into an amazing number of apartments for the residence of the king and "queen, and the nursing of their numerous progeny; or appropriated as magazines, to hold provisions.
These hills make their first appearance above ground by a little turret or two in the shape of sugar-loaves, rising a foot or more in height. Soon after, at some little distance, while the first turrets are increasing in height and size, the insects raise others, and so go on. increasing their number, and widening their bases, till the space occupied by their under-ground works becomes covered with a series of these elevations; the centre turret is always the highest; the intervals between the turrets are then filled up, and the whole collected, as it were, under one dome. These interior turrets seem to be intended chiefly as scaffolding for the dome: for they are, in a great part, removed when that has been erected.
When these hills have reached somewhat more than half their height, they furnish a convenient stand where the wild bulls of the district may be seen to station themselves, while acting as sentinels and watching the rest of the herd reposing and ruminating below; they are sufficiently strong for this purpose. The outward shell, or dome, is not only of use to protect the interior buildings from external violence and heavy rains, but to collect and preserve a regular supply of heat and moisture, which seems indispensible for hatching the eggs and rearing the young ones.
YOUNG LADIES GARLAND.
TO YOUNG LADIES.
If a young lady cannot bear reproof without sullenness, and disappointment without repining, what are we to expect of her when placed at the head of a family; to guide and direct its concerns ? Truly the education