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joy in the God of my salvation.” “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house ; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life": in thy light shall we see light,” Psa. lxii. 5; iv. 6; Hab. iii. 17, 18; Psa. xxxvi. 8, 9.
THE LEECHES ;
UNCLE BARNABY ON ADAPTATION.
Who is there that has not experienced the efficacy of that beautiful and useful reptile the leech, in assuaging pain by subduing inflammation? Of the many thousands that are constantly kept in readiness for use by every surgeon, apothecary, and druggist in England, nearly all, I believe, are imported from the south of Europe. During the long war that set at variance all the powers of Europe, and cramped their foreign commerce, it was with extreme difficulty that any importations of the useful and delicate little creatures above referred to were effected; and the price, in consequence, was enormously high. Hence, the resources afforded within our own country were proportionately raised in value. A leech stream was considered a valuable acquisition to an estate or a neighbourhood ; and the gathering of leeches furnished employment and profit to many poor families. A stream of this kind ran through my uncle's grounds, and frequent applications were made for his permission to gather leeches there. One fine summer evening, we stood for some time watching a boy thus employed. He
had a small net fastened to the end of a stick, which he kept dipping in the stream, and drawing up, but without success, although the little creatures were to be seen in great numbers rapidly gliding by. Weary with trying in vain this mode of attack, he made another attempt—leaning over the edge of the stream, and endeavouring to catch the leeches in his hands; but they invariably slipped through his fingers. A stick, and a string with a crooked pin at the end, which lay on the bank, intimated that he had also tried angling. We pitied the poor boy's want of success, and inquired how long he had been thus employed. He replied, almost the whole day; and that he had only obtained one leech, which he showed us. It appeared to have been bruised in taking, and was most likely unfitted for use. As the poor boy appeared weary and faint, and had derived from his day's labour little or nothing of the means of support, my uncle kindly sent him to the kitchen for some food, and we passed on our way. At a considerable distance from the former spot, we came to another winding of the same stream, and there saw a boy standing bare-legged in the water. My uncle inquired what he was doing. “ Leechgathering," was the reply. “But where is your net?” asked my uncle ; “how do you catch the leeches?” With a significant grin, the boy replied, “I doant want a net, your honour : I catches em with my legs." Presently he stepped on the bank, when several leeches appeared sticking to his flesh. These he gently removed, and carefully deposited in a vessel of water, which already contained several more ; and again he took his place in the stream. “How long have you been catch
ing these leeches?” asked Frank. “ Ever since I gave over work, at six o'clock, master,” answered the boy.
“And how shall you dispose of them ? and what are they worth ?” “They be worth what they fetches,” returned the boy, with another shrewd grin; “if the doctor happens to want 'em, mayhap I may get a groat a-piece.”
“Well,” observed my uncle, “this is a very clever plan of catching fish, without nets, lines, or baits.” “It would not do for all sorts of fish, your honour ; but it is the nature of leeches to suck flesh, and so there's nothing like flesh to catch 'em wi_.”
“See, lads,” said my uncle, as we passed away from the successful leech-catcher, “the importance of adapting the means employed to the end we have in view. By this kind of adaptation, the lad we have just left has accomplished more in an hour's recreation, after his regular day's work, than the other poor fellow by his ill-adapted efforts through a whole day.”
“Would it not be right, uncle, for us to go back, and tell the other boy that there is a much easier and better way of catching leeches ?” “I think it would, though I am by no means sure that your information will be as thankfully received as it is benevolently intended.”
On our return, we saw the first boy coming away
from the kitchen, where, according to my uncle's orders, he had been plentifully regaled. He collected together his net and lines, and was proceeding homewards with the produce of his day's labour-one poor, half-dead leech—when we met him, and entered into conversation about tbe more successful experiment we had witnessed.
he would say,
He received the communication with indifference, not unmingled with prejudice--seemed to despise the idea of attempting to catch the creatures without net, line, or bait, and shrunk from exposing himself to their bite. Whether or not he persisted in his notionless method ; whether he adopted the more rational plan that had been suggested to him ; or whether he altogether abandoned his trade of leech-gathering, I do not recollect, but the incident was frequently alluded to by my uncle. He would say, when a thing was awkwardly and unsuccessfully attempted, “It is like catching leeches with a net; or if set about dexterously, “ That person intends to suc
ucceed, like the boy who stood in the water to catch leeches."
I remember Uncle Barnaby saying, that there were four rules of adaptation, which, if they were constantly observed, would tend much to facilitate and give success to all our undertakings. He said it would not be lost time in the beginning of an enterprise, to bestow due consideration on these particulars. Many years have passed since this conversation, and I have never yet seen reason to dispute the correctness of the observation. I have always found my advantage in thus employing forecast and contrivance. On the other hand, I have often had occasion to regret rashly embarking in any undertaking, without having duly considered and adapted my instruments and means. “Every purpose,” said the wise man, “is established by counsel.” “ Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house,” Prov. xx. 18; xxiv. 27.
My uncle's four rules were