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together, the men striking the alligators, that would otherwise attack the cattle, of which they are very fond, and those latter hurrying towards the opposite shores, to escape thuse powerful enemies. They will swim swiftly after a dog, or a deer, or a horse, before attempting the destruction of man, of which I have always remarked they were afraid, if the man feared not them.
Although I have told you how easily an alligator may be killed with a single rifle ball, if well aimed, that is to say, if it strike either in the eye or very immediately above it, yet they are quite as difficult if not shot properly; and, to give you an idea of this, I shall mention two striking facts.
My good friend, Richard Harlan, M. D. of Philadelphia, having intimated a wish to have the heart of one of those apimals to study its comparative anatomy, I one afternoon went out about half a mile from the plantation, and seeing an alligator that I thought I could put whole into a hogshead of spirits, I shot it immediately on the skull bone. It tumbled over from the log on which it had been basking into the water, and, with the assistance of two negroes, I had it out in a few minutes, apparently dead. A strong rope was fastened round its neck, and, in this condition, I had it dragged home across logs, thrown over fences, and handled without the least fear. ladies there, anxious to see the inside of its mouth, requested that the mouth should be propped open with a stick put in vertically; this was attempted, but at this instant the first stunning effect of the wound was over, and the animal thrashed and
snapped its jaws furiously, although it did not advance a foot. The rope being still around the neck, I had it thrown over a strong branch of a tree in the yard, and hauled the poor creature up, swinging free from all about it, and left it twisting itself, and scratching with its fore-feet to disengage the rope. It remained in this condition until the next morning, when finding it still alive, though very weak, the hogshead of spirits was put under it, and the alligator fairly lowered into it with a surge. It twisted about a little, but the cooper secured the cask, and it was shipped to Philadelphia, where it arrived in course.
Again, being in company with Augustin Bourgeat, Esq. we met an extraordinary large alligator in the woods whilst hunting; and, for the sake of destruction I may say, we alight
ed from our horses and approached it with full intention to kill it. The alligator was put between us, each of us provided with a long stick to irritate it, and, by making it turn its head partly on one side, afford us the means of shooting it immediately behind the fore-leg and through the heart.' We both discharged five heavy loads of duck-shot into its body, and almost all into the same hole, without any other effect than that of exciting regular strokes of the tail, and snapping of the jaws, at each discharge, and the flow of a great quantity of blood out of the wound, and mouth and nostrils of the animal; but it was still full of life and vigour, and to have touched it with the hand would have been madness; but as we were anxious to measure it, and to knock off some of its larger teeth, to make powder chargers, it was shot with a single ball just over the eye, when it bounded a few inches off the ground, and was dead when it reached it again. Its length was seventeen feet ; it was apparently centuries old; many of its teeth measured three inches. The shots taken were without a few feet only of the circle that we knew the tail could form, and our shots went en masse.
As the lakes become dry, and even the deeper connecting bayous empty themselves into the rivers, the alligators congregate into the deepest hole in vast numbers; and, to this day, in such places, are shot for the sake of their oil, now used for greasing the machinery of steam-engines and cotton-mills, though formerly, when indigo was made in Louisiana, the oil was used to assuage the overflowing of the boiling juice, by throwing a ladleful into the kettle whenever this was about to take place. The alligators are caught frequently, in nets by fishermen : they then come without struggling to the shore, and are killed by blows on the head given with axes.
When autumn has heightened the colouring of the foliage of our woods, and the air feels more rarified during the nights and earlier part of the day, the alligators leave the lakes to seek for winter quarters, by burrowing under the roots of trees, or cover-, ing themselves simply with earth along their edges. They become then very languid and inactive, and, at this period, to sit or ride on one, would not be more difficult than for a child to mount his wooden rocking-horse. The Negroes who now kill them, put all danger aside by separating, at one blow with an axe, JANUARY-MARCH 1827.
the tail from the body. They are afterwards cut up in large pieces, and boiled whole in a good qnantity of water, from the surface of which the fat is collected with large ladles. One single man kills oftentimes a dozen or more of large alligators in the evening, prepares his fire in the woods, where he has erected a camp for the purpose, and by morning has the oil rendered.
I have frequently been very much amused when fishing in a bayou, where alligators were numerous, by throwing a blown bladder on the water towards the nearest to me. The alligator makes for it at once, flaps it towards its mouth, or attempts seizing it at once, but all in vain. The light bladder slides off; in a few minutes many alligators are trying to seize this, and their evolutions are quite interesting. They then put one in mind of a crowd of boys running after a football. A black bottle is sometimes thrown also, tightly corked; but the alligator seizes this easily, and you hear the glass give way under its teeth as if ground in a coarse mill. They are easily caught by Negroes, who most expertly throw a rope over their heads when swimming close to shore, and haul them out instantly.
But, my dear sirs, you most not conclude that alligators are always thus easily conquered : there is a season when they are dreadfully dangerous; it is during spring, during the love sea
! The waters have again submerged the low countries ; fish are difficult of access; the greater portion of the game has left for the northern latitudes; the quadrupeds have retired to the high lands; and the heat of passion, joined to the difficulty of procuring food, render these animals now ferocious and very considerably more active. The males have dreadful fights together, both in the water and on the land. Their strength and weight adding much to their present courage, exhibit them like colossuses wrestling. At this time no man swims or wades among them; they are usually left alone at this season.
About the first days of June the female prepares a nest; a place is chosen forty or fifty yards from the water, in thick bramble or cane, and she gathers leaves, sticks, and rubbish of all kinds, to form a bed to deposite her eggs; she carries the materials in her mouth, as a hog does straw.
As soon as a proper nest is finished, she lays about ten eggs, then covers them:
with more rubbish and mud, and goes on depositing in different layers until fifty, or sixty, or more eggs are laid. The whole is then covered up, matted and tangled with long grasses, in such a manner that it is very difficult to break it up. These eggs are the size of that of a goose, more elongated, and, instead of being contained in a shell, are in a bladder, or thin transparent parchment-like substance, yielding to the pressure of the fingers, yet resuming its shape at once, like the eggs of snakes and tortoises. They are not eaten even by hogs. The female now keeps watch near the spot, and is very wary and ferocious, going to the water from time to time only for food. Her nest is easily discovered, as she always goes and returns the same way, and forms quite a path by the dragging of her heavy body. The heat of the nest, from its forming a mass of putrescent manure, cause the hatching of the eggs, not that of the sun, as is usually believed
Some European writers say, that at this juncture the vultures feed on the eggs, and thereby put a stop to the increase of those animals. In the United States, I assure you, it is not so, nor can it be so, were the vultures ever so anxiously inclined; for, as I have told you before, the nest is so hard, and matted, and plastered together, that a man needs his superior strength, with a strong sharp stick, to demolish it.
The little alligators, as soon as hatched (and they all break shell within a few hours from the first to last), force themselves through, and issue forth all beautiful, lively, and as brisk as lizards. The female leads them to the lake, but more frequently into small detached bayous for security's sake; for now the males, if they can get at them, devour them by hundreds, and the wood ibis and the sand-hill cranes also feast on them.
I believe that the growth of alligators takes place very slowly, and that an alligator of twelve feet long, for instance, will most probably be fifty or more years old. My reasons for believing this to be fact is founded on many experiments, £* shall relate to you one made by my friend Bourgeat. tleman, anxious to send some young alligators as a pr. acquaintance in New York, had a bag of young small, brought to his house. They were put out to shew the ladies how beautiful they were when
accidentally made its way out into a servant's room, and lodged itself snug from notice into an old shoe. The alligator was not missed, but, upwards of twelve months after this, it was discovered about the house, full of life, and, apparently, scarcely grown bigger ; one of his brothers, that had been kept in a tub and fed plentifully, had grown only a few inches during the same period.
Few animals emit a stronger odour than the alligator; and, when it has arrived at great size, you may easily discover one in the woods in passing fifty or sixty yards from it. This smell is highly musky, and so strong, that, when near, it becomes insufferable; but this I never experienced when the animal is in the water, although I have, whilst fishing, been so very close to them, as to throw the cork of my fishing line on their heads, to tease them. In those that I have killed, and, I assure you, I have killed a great many, if opened, to see the contents of the stomach, or take fresh fish out of them, I regularly have found round masses of a hard substance, resembling petrified wood. These masses appeared to be useful to the animal in the process of digestion, like those found in the craws of some species of birds. I have broken some of them with a hammer, and found them brittle, and as hard as stones, which they resemble outwardly also very much. And, as neither our lakes nor rivers, in the portion of the country I have hunted them in, afford even a pebble as large as a common egg, I have not been able to conceive how they are procured by the animals, if positively stones, or by what power wood can become stone in their stomachs.
Observations and Experiments on the Different Kinds of Coal.
By M. KARSTEN. The celebrated Chief of Mines in Prussia, KARSTEN, some time ago published, in his “ Archiv für Bergbau und Hüttenwesen," a valuable series of observations and experiments on the different kinds of coal met with in the mineral kingdom. This important treatise has been reprinted in a separate form, and sent to
On reading it carefully, we feel convinced that a condensed view of its most important facts and inferences will be read with