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comment. We have ample passages from ther which he always honored ; and the inProfessor Silliman's journal, and from an stitution of learning with which he mainautobiographical memoir written during his tained a life-long connection was in his last years, as well as extracts from his let- early days the object of a regard mixed with ters and the letters addressed to him. It awe, and always of pride and devotion. He is an easy and pleasant way of writing per. used to think President Styles the greatest sonal history, and it would be an easy and of human beings; and one reads with a kind pleasant way of reading it, if life were as of dismay, that he was once fined sixpence long as art. But we fear that the popular for kicking a football into the President's usefulness of this work — and the biogra- door-yard. phy of the eminent man who did so much There was in this grave youth the makto popularize science should be in the hands ing of many kinds of greatness. He who of all — must be impaired by its magnitude; became so eminent in science could have and we are disposed to regret that Profes- been a great jurist, for he had the tranquil. sor Fisher did not think fit to reject that lity and perseverance necessary to legal sucpart of the correspondence which contrib- cess; he could have been a great statesutes nothing to the movement of the narra- man, for his political views were clear and tive or the development of character, and just and far-reaching ; he wrote some of condense much of that material which has the most popular books of travels in his only a value reflected from the interest day, and he could have shone in literature ; already felt in Professor Silliman. These while he appears to have been conscious of are faults in a work from which we have the direction in which a sole weakness lay, risen with a clear sense of the beauty and and with early wisdom forsook the muse of goodness, as well as the greatness, of the poetry. He tells us that it was no instinceminent scientist. It is admirable to see tive preference which led him to the study how his career, begun in another century and pursuit of the natural sciences, but the and another phase of civilization, ended in persuasion of Dr. Dwight, who was Presi. what was best and most enlightened and lib. dent of Yale in Silliman's twenty-third year, eral in our own time. A man could hardly and who opened this career to him by ofhave started from better things, or been sub- fering him the Professorship of Chemistry, ject at important points of his progress to then about to be established. At that time better influences. Benjamin Silliman was Silliman was studying law; but, once conof Revolutionary stock, which had its roots vinced that he can be of greater use to himin the soil of the Reformation. The Con- self and others in the way proposed, he en. necticut Puritan came of Tuscan Puritans, ters it and never looks back; goes to Phil. who Aed their city of Lucca, and finally adelphia to hear the learnedest professors passed from Switzerland through Holland of that day; goes to Europe for the culture to our shores. Brain and heart in him unattainable in this country; overcomes were thus imbued with an unfaltering love poverty in himself and in Yale ; will not be of freedom, chastised by religious fervor; tempted from New Haven by the offer of and when he became a man, he married the Presidency of the University of South with a race of kindred origin in faith, senti. Carolina, but devotes himself to a generous ment, and principles. He advanced with study of science, to the diffusion of scientific his times in a patriotic devotion to de- knowledge, and the promotion of the greatmocracy and equality, but he seems to have ness of the institution to which he belongs. always kept, together with great simplicity His devotion is not blind, however : he of character, the impression of early teach- finds time to write attractive accounts of ing and associations, and something of old- his voyages to Europe, to concern himself time stateliness and formality. His youth, in religious affairs, to sympathize and colike his age, was very sober, modest, and operate with whatever is noble and good in discreet. The ties which united him to political movements. He lives long enough his family were strong; and he loved his to enjoy his fame, to see Yale prosperous mother, who long survived his father, with and great, and his country about to triumph the reverent affection of the past genera- forever over the evil of slavery, which he tion. Ile inherited certain theological had hated and combated. It was a noble principles from his parents, and never life, — simple, pure, and illustrious, - and swerved from them for a moment. Some its history is full of instruction and enfriendships came down to him from his fa- couragement.

Fifteen Days. An Extract from EDWARD man in whose soul the best impulse was the

Colvil's Journal. Boston : Ticknor and love he bore his victim, and in whom the Fields.

evil destiny of the drama triumphs.

From the conversation of Harry and the This is a work of fiction, in which the botanist, his friend, the author retrospecpassion of love, so far from being the prime tively develops in its full beauty a characmotive, as in other fictions, does not enter ter illustrated in only one phase by the at all. The author seeks to reach, without episode which the passages from Edward other incident, one tragic event, and en- Colvil's journal cover, while she sketches deavors to make up for a want of adven- with other touches, slight, but skilful, the ture by the subtile analysis of character and people of a whole neighborhood, and the the study of a civil problem. The novelty events of years. Doctor Borrow, the bota. and courage of the attempt will attract the nist, is made to pass, by insensible chanthoughtful reader, and will probably tempt ges, from a learned indifference concerning him so far into the pages of the book, that slavery to eloquent and ardent argument he will find himself too deeply interested in against it, and thus to present the history its persons to part from them voluntarily. of the process by which even science, the The national sin with which the author so coldest element of our civilization, found itpitilessly deals has been expiated by the self at last unconsciously arrayed against a whole nation, and is now no more ; but its system long abhorrent to feeling. In the effects upon the guilty and guiltless victims, Doctor's talk with Westlake, we have a here alike so leniently treated, remain, and close and clear comparison of the origin and the question of slavery must always com- result of the civilizations of New England mand attention till the question of recon- and the South, the high equality of the North struction is settled.

and the mean aristocracy of the Slave States, In “Fifteen Days ” the political influences and the Doctor's first perfect consciousness of slavery are only very remotely considered, of loving the one and hating the other. The while the personal and social results of the supposititious Mandingo's observations of system are examined with incisive acute. the state of Europe at the time of opening ness united to a warmth of feeling which at the African slave-trade form a humorous last breaks forth into pathetic lament. Is not protest against judgment of Africa by travthe tragedy, of which we discern the propor- ellers' stories, and suggest more than a tions only in looking back, indeed a fateful doubt whether the first men-stealers were one? A young New-Englander, rich, hand- better than their victims, and whether they some, generous, and thoroughly taught by conferred the boon of a higher civilization books and by ample experience of the Old upon negroes by enslaving them. But the World and the New to honor men and free- humor of the book, like its learning, is dom, passes a few days in a Slave State, in subordinated to the story, which is imbued the midst of that cruel system which could with a sentiment not wanting in warmth progress only from bad to worse ; to which because so noble and lofty. The friendreform was death, and which with the in- ship of Colvil and Dudley is less like the stinct of self-preservation punished all open friendship between two men, than the afattempts to ameliorate the relations of op- fectionate tenderness of two women for pressor and oppressed, and permitted no each other; and the character of Dudley kindness to exist but in the guise of se. in its purity and elevation is sometimes verity or the tenderness of a good man for elusive. The personality of Colvil is also his beast; which boasted itself an aristoc- rather shadowy ; but the Doctor is human racy, and was an oligarchy of plebeian ig- and tangible, and the other persons, hownorance and meanness; which either dulled ever slightly indicated, are all real, and bear men's brains or chilled their hearts. In the palpable witness, in their lives, to the influpresence of this system, Harry Dudley lin- ences of that system which, though cruel to gers long enough to rescue a slave and to the oppressed, wrought a ruin yet more die by the furious hand of the master, - a terrible in the oppressor.

THE

ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art,

and Politics.

VOL. XVIII. - AUGUST, 1866. — NO. CVI.

HOW MY NEW ACQUAINTANCES SPIN.

HE strictly professional man may spider are to be found subjects worthy

have overcome his natural aver- the attention of every class of minds; sion to some of the most interesting for to the naturalist is exhibited a speobjects of his study, such as snakes, cies which, though not absolutely new and toads, and spiders, and vermin of to science, was never seen nor heard of all kinds; but people in general have by Professor Agassiz till the spring of always required that any attempt to 1865, and which is so narrowly circumforce such abominations upon their scribed in its geographical distribution notice should be preceded by a more that, so far as I can ascertain, it was or less elaborate and humble acknowl- never observed by Hentz, a Southern edgment of their hideous aspect, their entomologist, who devoted himself parferocious disposition, their dark and ticularly to spiders, -and is met with bloody deeds, and the utter impossibil- only upon a few low, marshy islands ity of their conducing in any way to on the coast of South Carolina, and human comfort and convenience. perhaps of other Southern States. Its

But, while admitting the truth of habits, too, are so interesting, and so much that has been thus urged against different in many respects from those spiders as a class, I must decline, or at recorded of other species, that the obleast defer, conforming to custom in server of living creatures has here an speaking of the particular variety which abundant opportunity, not only for inwe are about to consider, and I believe creasing his own knowledge, but for that it will need only a glance at the enlarging the domain of science. And insect and its silk, and a brief notice of this more especially in America ; for its habits, to justify my indisposition to while, in England, Blackwall and othfollow the usual routine.

ers have been laboring for more than Without apology, then, I shall en- thirty years, spiders seem to have redeavor to show that in the structure, ceived little attention on this side of the habits, the mode of growth, and, the Atlantic. above all, in the productions of this We have now, moreover, in our ob

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1806, by TICKNOR AND Fields, in the Clerk's Office

of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. VOL. XVIII. — NO. 106.

9

servation of these insects, an incentive insects, and who-since Professor Wyof sovereign effect, namely, the hope of man has shown that the hexagonal form increasing our national wealth ; for to of the bee's cell is not of original dethe practical man, to the manufactur- sign, but rather the necessary result of er and the mechanic, is offered a new difficulties met and overcome in the silken material which far surpasses in most economical manner, though by beauty and elegance that of the silk- no means always with perfect exactworm, and which, however small in

ness and uniformity - has fallen back quantity at present, demands some at- upon the ancient and still prevalent tention in view of the alarming decrease belief in the precise construction of the in the silk crops of Europe. This ma- spider's web, (which, as will be seen, terial is obtained in a manner entirely really displays it no more than does the new, - not, as with the worm, by un- bee's cell.) - to this disappointed man winding the cocoons, nor yet, as might of geometry and figures is now offered be suggested for the spider, by un- the alternative of either finding a new ravelling the web, but by drawing or and truer illustration, or of abandoning winding or reeling directly from the his position entirely. body of the living insect, even as you Let us, then, wait till we have seen would milk a cow, or, more aptly, as this spider and heard his story. His wire is pulled through a wire-drawing story! That reminds me of another machine.

class which may possibly be repreTo the admirer of the beautiful and sented among my readers, and whose perfect in nature is presented a fibre of members, in the contemplation of the absolute smoothness, roundness, and domestic economy of these insects, will, finish, the colors of which resemble, I fear, discover many and weighty arguand in the sunlight even excel in ments in favor of the various opinions brilliancy those of the two precious entertained by the advocates of Wometals, silver and gold; while the mor- man's Rights; for here is a community alist who loves to illustrate the work- in which the females not only far exings of God's providence in bringing ceed the males in number, but present forth good out of evil, by comparing so great a contrast to them in size and the disgusting silk-worm with its beau- importance, that, but for absolute proof, tiful and useful product, may now en- they never would be regarded as beforce the lesson by the still more strik- longing to the same species. ing contrast between this silk and the Here, then, is a life-size picture of loathed and hated spider.

our spider and of — I was about to say, The statesman who, after a four his partner; but in truth it is she who years' war, sees few indications of a is the spider, and he is only her partbetter spirit on the part of the South, Such is the real physical, and, and is almost ready to exclaim, “Can so to speak, mental superiority of the any good thing come out of Nazareth ?" female, that, even if we insist upon the may now perhaps discern a spot, small legal equality at least of the masculine indeed, but brilliant, on the very edge element, we can do so only in name, of the dark Carolina cloud ; and it may and will find it hard to avoid speaknot be too much to hope that, in course ing of him as the male of the Nephila of time, the cords of our spider's gold- plumipes, thus tacitly admitting her as en and silver silk may prove potent the truer representative of the species. bonds of union with the first of the re- Their relative size and appearance are bellious States.

shown by the figures; but it may be As to the mathematician who believes added that she is very handsome; the in the inborn tendency of mankind to fore part of her body, which, being comvariation and imperfection, and holds posed of the head and chest soldered up to us, as shining examples of mathe- together, is termed cephalothorax, is matical accuracy, the work of certain glossy-black and covered, except in

ner.

answer these questions, we must go back three years, to the 19th of August, 1863, and to the camp of the Fifty-fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, on a desolate island a little south from the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, and in sight of the fortress which Gillmore had just begun to strengthen by the addition of tons of Union shot and shell, till, from tolerably strong masonry, its walls became solid earthworks which nothing could pierce or greatly injure. There, at the north end of Folly Island, - scarce wider than our camp at that point, and narrower than the magnificent beach which, at low tide, afforded ample space for the battalion drill, - I found in a tree a very large and handsome spider, whose web was at least three feet in diameter.

Glad enough to meet with Fig. 1. Male and Female Nepkila plumcipes.

anything new, and bearing in spots, with white hairs; she has also mind the interest with which, when a upon six of her legs one or two brushes boy, I had watched and recorded the of black hairs; — while he is an insig- operations of our common house and nificant-looking insect of a dull-brown hunting spiders, I entangled him - I color and half-starved look, with only a did n't then know it was her, so let few scattered bristles upon his slender it pass — in the web, and carried it limbs. He does nothing for himself, to my tent.

The insect was very leaving her to make the web and pro- quiet, and did not attempt to escape ; vide the food, and even to carry him on but presently, after crawling slowly her back when removal is necessary; along my sleeve, she let herself down but she makes up for the imposition by to the floor, taking first the precaution, keeping him on short allowance and at after the prudent fashion of most spia respectful distance, excepting when ders, to attach to the point she left a the impregnation of her eggs is neces- silken line, which, as she descended, sary; and even then she is mistress came from her body. Rather than seize of the situation, and, etiam in amoribus the insect itself, I caught the thread sæva, may afterward eat him up. But and pulled. The spider was not moved, of this contrast between the two sexes, but the line readily drew out, and, beof their functions and their relations ing wound upon my hands, seemed so to each other, more hereafter. It is strong that I attached the end to a litsufficient to observe that, when this tle quill, and, having placed the spider spider is mentioned, and the sex is not upon the side of the tent, lay down on specified, the female is always referred my couch and turned the quill between to.

my fingers at such a rate that in one When, where, and how was this minute six feet of silk were wound upon spider discovered ? and why is it that it. At the end of an hour and a half I we have never heard of it before ? To estimated, with due allowance for stop

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