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Forgetful that by Thee I stand,
How oft I've wished to break the lines
For something more, or something higher?
A fall thus dreadful had been mine."
REV. JOHN NEWTON.
A RECENT traveller in the south of Russia gives the following account of a swarm of locusts, which he witnessed. "The plague of locusts," mentioned in book of Exodus, and "The description of the army of locusts," by the prophet Joel (chap. 2.), give a particular interest to the subject.
"During the summer," writes Dr. Lee,* "I visited Kief and the greater part of the country extending between the Dnieper and Dniester, which was at that time suffering from the ravages of locusts. On the 8th July 1825, I rode with Baron Franc five verstsf from Biala Cerkiew to see the locusts. We found upwards of 300 peasants engaged in destroying them. They had dug a ditch across the steppe, three miles long, and about two feet in depth. There were millions of these insects upon the ground: they were
* The Last Days of Alexander, and the First Days of Nicholas,' by Robert Lee, M.D., F.R.S., p. 14.
† Verst is a Russian measure of length, equal to about half an English mile.
Steppes.] A Russian name for the vast plains in the South of Russia.
said to move with peculiar vivacity with the south wind and when the sun was shining, and to travel only during the day. The boys and girls were stationed along the opposite margin to prevent the locusts from crawling up, and passing to the other side. In this trench there were deep holes dug, into which the locusts were swept, and slaves were raising them from these, with wooden spades, into sacks held by others. So many of these measures were required daily from each band of slaves upon the steppe; and from the dull, sluggish, and inert manner in which they were occupied, it did not appear to me that they had a very heavy task to perform. On the 10th of July, I visited them again, and though vast numbers had been destroyed, myriads remained. Upwards of 400 peasants were now at work. A more wretched, ill-clothed, miserable race I never saw; lodging in holes in the ground, worse covered than our common vagrants and beggars, and men, were behind them with whips, which I saw used. I rode back in a state of melancholy, hoping and praying fervently, that the following prediction of the poet might soon be fulfilled :
"Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
The locusts appeared in the Crimea in 1819, and ad continued in it till 1823. That year the crops were completely devoured by them. From thence they spread westward as far as Bessarabia, and to the
north upwards of 300 miles from the sea; and in the autumn of 1824 their eggs had been deposited in the earth, not only in those fertile provinces, but throughout the whole tract of country extending eastward from the Dnieper towards the Don to the Caucasus. I had seen their ova* during the winter dug out of the earth, when they presented the appearance of clusters of small yellow sacs or bags. In the month of May, the young ones began to issue from the ground in myriads, at which time they did not exceed the fifth of an inch in length, and could only crawl along the surface. In a few weeks they had greatly enlarged, and could leap considerable distances like grasshoppers. By the end of June, they were able to fly a short way, and before the end of July, they mounted high into the air, and took long flights. At first they were of a blackish hue, and their heads were disproportionately large, but afterwards they became of a clear brown colour, with wings of grey or rosy red. In some places they covered the ground completely, and were in a state of rest; but in others, they were going slowly before the breeze, and resembled, at a distance, a sheet of gently flowing water. Around Novomirgorod, in travelling from Biala Cerkiew, near Kief, to Odessa, the road was deeply covered with them, and they rose as our carriage approached with a peculiar rattling noise, and in such numbers that they filled the air like flakes of snow in a storm. They swarmed in the streets of Odessa, in the vineyards, and on the surrounding steppe at the beginning of August, and masses of the dead bodies of those drowned in the sea covered the
* Ova.] Eggs.
There were everywhere two distinct varieties of these insects; one about three inches, and the other half of that length. The first kind was observed to bear a much greater proportion to the other near the sea, than at a remote distance. There was a third variety of a green colour, but it was extremely rare, and in some places wholly wanting. In the neighbourhood of Odessa, on the steppe, I observed vast numbers of a peculiar species of sphex, or ichneumon fly,* employed in killing or burying the locusts. The fly insidiously sprung upon the locust, applying its long and powerful legs around the body, so that the victim could not expand its wings and escape. When exhausted with fruitless efforts to fly, the sphex applied the strong nippers with which its mouth is furnished, around the neck of the locust, and thrusting the dart with which it is also provided, between the head and body, in a few seconds deprived the locust of life. This dart I found to consist of two sharp spears, with a small tube between them, but whether connected or not with a poisonous sac was not ascertained. The fly remained for some time attached to the body of the locust after it was dead, probably for the purpose of depositing its ova within
* The Ichneumon-fly, is a kind of fly which deposits its eggs in the bodies of caterpillars. This does not kill the caterpillar, but after the caterpillar becomes a chrysalis, the eggs of the ichneumon fly are hatched, and the chrysalis is destroyed. There are several species of this kind of fly in England, and they are very serviceable in destroying caterpillars.
Those who have read of the ichneumon, must distinguish it from the ichneumon-fly. The ichneumon is an Egyptian animal, resembling a weasel, which preys upon smaller animals, and devours crocodiles' eggs.
it. The sphex afterwards dragged the locust into a small grave it had previously dug in the ground for its reception, and covered it carefully with earth. The ultimate extinction of the locusts here obviously would be effected by this means, if none other were provided by nature for the purpose. The locusts, I was informed some years after, had entirely disappeared from these extensive steppes.
OBS. In reading this lesson, the map of Russia should be carefully consulted.
THE NEW ZEALAND MISSION.-PART I.
IN the great Southern Ocean, to the east of Australia, there are three islands, which extend more than 1200 miles from north to south, and compose the fine country called New Zealand. The Southern, or Stewart's Island, is small, full of hills and lofty heights covered with forests, which places to the very edge of the sea.
descend in some The large island in the middle is not yet fully known to us. ranges of snow-capped mountains rise near the western coast, and chains of wooded hills lie between them and the open country on the east side. The northern island also is very hilly, and there are several high mountains, some of which have been burning mountains. Mount Tongariro is burning still, though its top is covered with snow. Between Tongariro and the Bay of Islands, there lies a district of country which is full of volcanic hills, lakes, and hot mineral waters. Those of Rotorua are particularly curious: