« AnteriorContinuar »
with narrow pathways, occasionally intersected by hedges of the prickly milk hush, and low and thick ramifications of the aloe tree.
The party beat about the jungle (for it had this appearance, rather than that of a garden), when by great good fortune it had a glimpse of one of the animals making off with some rapidity. It was first taken for a large grown calf; a misconception very natural, as the sequel will shew, and as by the report of the morning, the party expected to meet with tigers. The appearance of the animal, however, gave a stimulus to the exertions of the gentlemen, who moved forward in the low jungle, surveying every bush, and expecting each instant to hear a tremendous roar, or perhaps to encounter the savage attacks of the animals. Little more search brought the two beasts in full view, when one of them started off, receiving a ball from a gentleman in the side. It went rapidly past two others of the party, and was wounded by a single shot in the flank. These wounds appeared to have produced no decided effect, and a quarter of an hour had elapsed before it was again discovered crouching in a thick plantation of aloe trees. It was here that a few Sepoys and one of the gentlemen advancing within eight paces, brought the beast prostrate on the ground; when, for the first time, considering the indistinct view obtained in the low jungle, during the pursuit, it was found that instead of tigers the objects of the chace were lions of considerable size! Some danger attended the death of this animal, (which was a lioness) as
the other party were diametrically opposite to the aloe plantation when the volley was fired into it. The balls whistled over their heads and around them, but happily without bad consequences to any body.
The success which attended the first hunt, redoubled exertion; and with great management, the party scoured the bushes in search of the lioness's companion. Some time passed,`and a great deal of laborious exertion, before the animal was traced by his footsteps to one of the high hedges which intersected the garden. The party approached within eight yards, when, by previous concert, two gentlemen and two sepoys fired, independently, with effect. The animal moved off immediately on the other side of the hedge, and in ten minutes more, he was discovered lying under another hedge, groaning with rage and pain. Some pieces were instantly fired, which exasperating him, he rushed out, and nobly charged his assailants, his tail being curled over his back. In his advance, he was saluted with great coolness with several balls from all the gentlemen, and a few sepoys of the party who had come up; and though within a few yards of the object of his attack, he suddenly turned off, (it is supposed on account of being severely wounded) and sprung upon a sepoy, detached to the right, with whom he grappled, and afterwards by the violence of the exertion fell to the ground, beyond him.
It was at this moment that the party gallantly, and for the humane purpose of saving a fellowcreature, rushed forward, and with the bayonet and swords put an end
to the monster. The sepoy was wounded in the left shoulder, but it was hoped that there is no danger of his losing his life.
The complete success of the day was justly calculated to excite many pleasing reflections; but after all was concluded, it appeared that a countryman, who attended at a distance unarmed, and for his own curiosity, was wounded in the thigh by a ball. This accident has of course damped the pleasure of the sport, though it is but just to remark, that before the party entered into the garden, entreaties were used to the curious bystanders to induce them to keep away from the scene of action, and many were sent off by main force, who afterwards returned in defiance of every remonstrance.
The animal last killed was a lion, not quite full grown, but strong and powerful in his make; the lioness was in the same proportion.
On being brought to the Residency and inspected, these animals were sent to his Highness Futteh Sing at his own request.
The appearance of tigers in the immediate vicinity of Baroda is not common; two only having strayed from the ravines of the river Myhie to the enclosures round the town, within the last fifteen years, but lions have never been seen. Indeed the existence of this species in India has been questioned, though since satisfactorily established. It is conjectured that the lions killed yesterday had wandered out of the deep defiles of the Myhie, about twelve miles from Baroda, in the night, which was unusually dark, and attended throughout in the neighbourhood
of that river with torrents of rain. It was fortunate that their retreat was immediately discovered, or from the number of people now employed in cultivation around this populous town, some would in all probability have fallen victims to their voracity.
HISTORY OF THE COCCUS LACCÆ, OR LAC INSECT.
By the late Dr. Kerr.
(From the same.)
The head and trunk of this insect form one uniform, oval, compressed, red body, of the shape. and magnitude of a very small louse, consisting of twelve transverse rings; the back is carinate, the sides are sharp and alate; the belly is flat; antennæ, two filiform, truncated, diverging half the length of the body, each sending off two, often three delicate diverging hairs, longer than the antennæ; the mouth and eyes could not be seen with a common watch-maker's magnifier.
The tail is a little white point, sending off two horizontal hairs as long as the body.
Progression is performed by three pair of limbs, half the length of the animal, forming rectangles at the edge of the trunk; the transverse rings of the body are capable of a little motion.
I have often observed the birth of those insects, but could never see any with wings, nor could I find any distinction of sexes, unless that trivial difference of the antennæ. Their connubial rites. they also kept a secret from me : nature and analogy seem to point out a deficiency in my observa
tions, possibly owing to the minuteness of the object, and want of proper glasses.
The insect is produced by the parent in the months of November and December; they traverse the branches of the trees upon which they were produced for some time, and then fix themselves upon the succulent extremities of the young branches, sometimes upon the petioles of the leaves, but never on the trunk, or large branches, probably on account of the rigidity of their cuticle, and deficiency of juice.
servations; I did not see the inect until November, when the sells and insects were at their full size; and we find a vast number of little oblong red bodies, intermixed with the red fluid of the mother; these are the young offspring, each enveloped in its proper membrane; when all the red liquid is expended, they throw off their membranous coverings, and pierce a hole through the side of the mother, and superior part of the cell, and walk off one by one to a distant part of the branch, leaving their exuviæ behind, which is that white substance found in the empty cells of the stick lac.
Those insects are the parasitic inhabitants of three different trees,
1st. Ficus Religiosa, Bengali Pipul, Anglice Banian tree.-2d. Ficus Bengalensis, in Bengali Bhur, Anglice Banian tree.-The third is a valuable tree called Pros or Pras by the natives.
By the middle of January they are all fixed in their proper situations; they appear as plump as before, but shew no other signs of life. The limbs, antennæ, and_viz.— sitæ of the tail are no longer to be seen around the edges; they are environed with a spisid, sub-pellucid liquid, which seems to glue them to the branch; it is the gradual accumulation of this liquid which forms a strong and complete castle for each insect, and is what is called gum lac, so useful to the arts of men, as well as the preservation of this valuable insect. I had no opportunity of seeing the operations of this insect, from the 25th of January until the 16th of March, when the cells were completely formed over the insect; they had the appearance of an oval, or rather subrotund, smooth red bag without life, about the size of a small cochineal insect, emarginated at the obtuse end, full of a beautiful red liquid, seemingly contained in cellulæ, as in the albumen ovi. At this time the young insects cannot be distinguished in the fluid. Here again there is a blank in my ob
The insects fix themselves so close together, and in such numbers, that I imagine only one in six can have room enough to complete her cell; the others die, and are eat up by various insects. The extreme branches appear as if they were covered with a red dust, and their sap so much exhausted, that they generally wither, produce no fruit, and the leaves drop, or turn to a dirty black colour. The insects are transported, I imagine, by birds; if they perch upon these branches they must carry off a number of those insects upon their feet, to the next tree they rest upon. It is worth observing, that these fig-trees, when wounded, drop a milky juice, which instantly coa
gulates into a viscid, ropy substance, which, hardened in the open air, is similar to the cell of the coccus laccæ. The natives boil this fig milk with oils into a birdlime which will hold peacocks or the largest birds; in the same manner a red medicinal gum is produced from the wounded prass tree, so similar to the gum lac, that it may readily be taken for the same substance; hence it is probable that those insects have little trouble in animalizing the sap of these plants in the formation of their cells.
The gum lac is said to be produced from the ber or beyer tree, which is frequent in this country; it is the rhamnus jujuba Linnæi, or jujube tree; I will not deny the fact, but what has been shewn to me as such, was a substance very different from the lac: there is a fungous excrescence frequently grows from the small branches of this tree, the little tender granulations of which are at first covered with a red bloom, which soon turns black, and neither contains insects, lac, nor colour, that ever I could find, even with the utmost care in my inquiries. This tree is much frequented by ants, flies, and various insects, which destroy the flowers, leaves and fruit; this mistake has probably led Bontius, father Tachard, and their copiers into error. The lac of this country is principally found upon the unculti vated mountains on both sides of the Ganges, where bountiful nature has produced it in such prodigious abundance, that was the consumption ten times greater the markets might be supplied by this minute insect! The only trouble
in procuring the lac, is in breaking down the branches, and carrying the sticks to market; the present price in Dacca is about 12 shillings the hundred weight, and it is brought from the distant country of Asam! The best lac is of a deep red colour; if it is pale and pierced at the top, the value diminishes, because the insects have left their cells, and consequently, they can be of no use as a dye or colour, but probably they are better for varnishes.
The insect and its cell has gone under the various names of gum lac, lac tree, in Bengali, lac sand; by the English it is distinguished into,-1. Stick lac; which is the natural state from which all the others are formed;-2. Seed lac, is the cells separated from the sticks ;-3. Lump lac, is seed lac liquified by fire, and formed into cakes; 4. Shell lac, is the cells liquified, strained, and formed into thin transparent laminæ, in the following manner :-separate the cells from the branches, break them into small pieces, throw them into a tub of water for one day; wash off the red water and dry the cells, and with them fill a cylindrical tube of cotton cloth, two feet long and an inch and a half diameter, tie both ends, turn the bag above a charcoal fire; as the lac liquifies, twist the bag, and when a sufficient quantity has transuded the pores of the cloth, lay it upon a smooth junk of plantain tree (musa paradisiaca Linnæi) and with a strip of the plantain leaf draw it into a thin lamina, take it off while flexible, for in a minute it will be hard and brittle; the value of shell lac is according to its transparency.
This is one of the most useful insects yet discovered, to Europeans or natives. The natives consume a great quantity of shell lac in making ornamental rings, painted and gilded in various tastes, to decorate the black arms of the ladies, and formed into beads, spiral and linked chains for necklaces, and other ornaments for the hair.
Sealing-wax-Take a stick and heat one end of it upon a charcoal fire, put upon it a few leaves of the shell lac, softened above the fire; keep alternately heating and adding more shell lae, until you have got a mass of three or four pounds of liquified shell lac upon the end of your stick; knead this upon a wetted board, with three ounces of levigated cinnabar; form it into cylindrical pieces, and to give them a polish, rub them while hot with a cotton cloth.
Japanning. Take a lump of shell lac, prepared in the manner of sealing wax, with whatever colour you please; fix it upon the end of a stick; heat the polished wood over a charcoal fire, and rub it over with half melted lac, and polish by rubbing it even with a piece of folded plantain leaf held in the hand, heating the lac, and adding more as occasion requires; their figures are formed by lac charged with various colours, in the same manner.
In ornamenting their gods and religious houses, &c. they make use of very thin beat lead, which they cover with various varnishes, made of lac charged with colours; they prepare them, it is said, with alum and tamarinds; the leaf of lead is laid upon a smooth iron heated by fire below, while the
varnish is spreading upon it; to imitate gold leaf they add turmerick to the varnish. This art is only known to the women of a few families.
Cutler's Grindstones.-Take of Ganges sand three parts, of seed lac washed one part; mix them over the fire in an earthen pot, and form the mass into the shape of a grindstone, leaving a square hole in the centre; fix it on an axis, with liquified lac; heat the stone moderately, and by turning the axis you may easily form it into an exact orbicular shape; polishing grindstones are made only of such of the sand as will pass easily through muslin, in the proportion of two parts sand to one of lac. This sand is found at Rajamahal; it is composed of small, regular, crystalline particles, tinged red with iron two parts, to one of the black magnetic sand described by Muschenbrook.
The stone-cutters make their grindstones of a crystalline stone with black iron specks (corund) beat into powder, and mixed with lac, in the same proportions as with the sand; the coarse for cutting, and the sifted powder for polishing. These grindstones cut down iron very fast, and when they want to increase its power, they throw sand upon it, and let it occasionally touch the edge of a vitrified brick. The same composition is formed upon stick, for cutting stones, shells, &c. by the hand.
Painting-Take one gallon of the red liquid, from the first washing of shell lac, strain it through a cloth, boil it for a short time, then add half fan ounce of soap