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THE CHINCHA GUANO ISLANDS.
ITH this are forwarded two sketches made during our late visit to the Chincha Islands, and, considering the importance of the group, concerning which the world in general probably is comparatively ignorant, they may prove interesting. We found one hundred and twentysix sail of ships lying at anchor, some of them having been waiting four months for their turn to go under the shoots, the time being governed by their tonnage, at the rate of ten days for every hundred tons register; but a vessel measuring one thousand tons is loaded in three days by the shoots, if the men work well. They also use large launches, which, of course, is a tedious business. The export of the guano has increased considerably during the last few years between three and four hundred thousand tons are the annual amount at present, which is effected by the aid of nine hundred working hands, three hundred and twenty of them being Chinese,
who enter into contracts to serve their employer, (the government contractor,) Don Domingo Elias, for four dollars a month, renewing it, if they choose, with the increase of four dollars monthly, and a bonus of one hundred and twenty. Those who work on their own account are paid eight and ten rials, four and five shillings, for each cart that they load. They live in a collection of dirty huts made of bamboo and mud; they, nevertheless, appear to be happy and contented, and in general are well conducted. We landed at a wooden pier on the north island, ascended the slope of the guano hill, passed through the settlement, and walked round a quarry which forms the subject of one of the sketches. The men with pickaxes work their way into the guano, leaving a sort of wall on either side: here it was so hard that it requires a heavy blow to remove it. It is then conveyed in wheelbarrows either direct to the mouths of the shoots on the
edge of the cliffs, or to the huge carts running on tramways for the same purpose.
The principal hill of guano is in the background, with the laborers at work on its side. This was originally sixty or seventy feet in height above the natural rock of the island. The color varies very much, in some parts being as dark as warm sepia, and in others as light as that of a Bath brick where the men are digging, the ammonia is very powerful, affecting the eyes; it is often found in nearly a pure state, in large crystallized lumps. Passing round to the westward, toward the passage between the north and middle islands (which was crowded with ships, principally American,) we came upon the southwest shoots, which I chose for the other sketch. The hut to the right is the
head-quarters of the man employed to regulate the loading and dispatch of the boats. which are seen under the shoots receiving the guano. The inclosure in the foreground, over the shoots, is to prevent waste by the wind blowing it away, and to enable the workmen to form a constant collection near the mouths of the canvas tubes, seventy feet in length. Following the cliffs to the left are seen the huts of the Chinese, and another shoot, with an embankment and tramway on it leading to the quarries. The cart is just tilted: the horse draws it back up the incline. In the background stands a machine intended for scooping out the guano; but it is in disuse, as it did not answer. Close behind it, on the north side of the hill, but not in view, are the settlement, Governor's house, etc. The cliffs are perforated in all di
rections, forming picturesque arches and caves. They are also working the middle island, an English ship lying under a shoot one hundred and forty feet in length, the cliffs being perpendicular. The surface of the guano is covered with skeletons of birds and bones of seals; and I brought away, as a reminiscence, the tusks of three from the skulls imbedded in the soil, which is like a rabbit warren, from the hundreds of holes running in every direction. These are made by a bird about the size of a pigeon, which remains hidden during the day, sallying forth at dusk to fish.
The south and smallest island has not yet been touched. We landed, and, with some difficulty, scrambled up the face of the rock, ascending by a steep hill to the top, which is literally covered in one part down to the sea with skeletons of sea-lions and seals, the former as large as twelve and fourteen feet in length. It is supposed that they crawl to the highest point as they feel death approaching. The guano on this island is perforated by the birds even more than on the middle one, and as we walked we were constantly breaking through the crust, and sinking half way to the knee. Two birds, with an egg, were dragged from their hidingplace.
There is much diversity of opinions respecting the formation of the guano. Considering its depth, (it being in some places one hundred and forty feet above the natural rock,) its great solidity, and the extent of its superficial area, it would appear impossible that any number of birds since the Flood could have been the cause; yet deep below the surface, and in the center of the hill, eggs and skeletons of birds are constantly found. It affords a subject for discussion, but I doubt if there will ever be a unanimous opinion respecting it. silver ornaments are discovered occaGold and sionally, having been buried by the ancient Peruvians more than three centu
We remained on the island nine days, on two of which, being Sundays, our chaplain's congregation was increased on one occasion by about forty, and on the last by one hundred people from the merchant vessels. It must be borne in mind that there were many more ships in the passage and also to the north than I have represented
HE common stickleback of our rivulets the great fish family than careless observa much more interesting member of courage, his capacity for enduring almost ers might suppose. His strength, his any degree of heat or cold, his ability to live either in salt or fresh water, and, lastly, the singular instinct which gifts him with the desire and power to construct a place him, notwithstanding his diminutive "nest" for the protection of his offspring, size, in the ranks of royalty among fishes.
fishes termed Acanthopterygii, from the The stickleback belongs to a class of dorsal and lateral defensive spines with which they are furnished. The generic term by which the special family Stickleback is distinguished is Gasterosteus, from the Greek word gaster, the stomach, and osteon, a bone, in allusion to the bony plates by which the sides of the stomach are depopular names, which likewise refer to the fended. These little fish have also other plate-armor with which their sides are defended, or their sharp aggressive spine. These names are, Sharplin, Banstickle, Prickleback, etc. The different species
sive plates, or of spines. One small and are distinguished by the number of defensvery pretty kind is the ten-spined stickleback (Gasterpungitius ;) while the most in fresh water, is the fifteen-spined sticklerare of the family, seldom, if ever, found back (Gasterspinachia.) This last, however, will also, like his congeners, live in fresh water. sufficiently distinct to account for his difHe is, indeed, of aspect ference of habit, being formed almost like a short eel, but stamped indisputably as a true stickleback by his spines, and other gasterostean characteristics, not omitting his nest-building faculty, in which he is nearly as distinguished an architect as his brethren of the brooks.
Among other interesting peculiarities of these little fish, is their chamelion-like different influences. In the breeding seapower of assuming different colors under son, or when agitated in the almost coneach other, their usual dull green changes tinual conflicts which they wage against to the gayest hues of scarlet contrasted with milky white, the most vivid grassgreen with purple, and sometimes in combat becoming, in their most terrible anger, nearly jet-black. The vanquished, how
ever, soon loses his bright hues, recovering a faint reflection of them at the moment of dissolution, as though in the delirium of his last agony he saw himself the victor instead of the vanquished. Placed in a tank with others of his own size, he never ceases to combat till he remains undisputed monarch of his domain; so that it is impossible to keep a number in the same vessel. A single pair, however, under fortunate circumstances, might exhibit the interesting spectacle of the construction of the nest.
Nest-architecture has been generally thought to be confined to birds; for the few quadrupeds which have been described as making nests-such as the rabbit, the field-mouse, and the squirrel-merely prepare beds for their young. The only true nests, therefore, except those of birds, are constructed by fishes; and yet, till M.
Coste read his interesting paper on the "Nidification of Sticklebacks" at the French Academy, modern naturalists knew nothing of this peculiarity in the habits of fishes, at least they published nothing; though Aristotle had stated above two thousand years ago that a certain little fish constructed a nest like that of a bird; a statement that was either overlooked, discredited, or disregarded. Clive, it is true, among modern naturalists, stated that the black gobie deposited its spawn in a kind of nest; and it is now thought that this was the fish alluded to by Aristotle.
M. Coste was enabled by a long series of unwearied observations to describe the whole process of construction of the stickleback's nest; and the following narrative, as subsequently detailed by Orbelin, is the result of his interesting discoveries.
At spawning-time the males-for they are the builders, the ladies remaining perfectly passive-may be seen busily engaged preparing for the erection of the family-nursery, evidently an arduous task for such miniature architects. Every bit of the material is carried in the tiny mouth, and often from considerable distances. His various contrivances to prevent the foundation of his structure from being carried away by the stream are exceedingly interesting; the most common being the deposit of a layer of sand on the lighter materials, which he also brings in his mouth. The floor thus formed, is cemented by means of a gluten which he obtains from his own skin by continuous rubbing; an operation from which he evidently suffers great fatigue, and sometimes appears for a time quite overcome in the effort.
His next process is to attach a row of small uprights, or twig-columns, to this base; in the performance of which he exhibits the most fastidious delicacy of taste, taking them out over and over again to refix them in a position more to his mind. Sometimes he may find a portion of the materials unsuitable; in which case he takes down a part or the whole of the structure, regardless of fatigue and trouble, and carries the useless lumber to a distance, so as not to encumber his future proceedings. As the walls rise he cements them as he had previously done the base, and then completes the roof in a similar manner. The structure when quite complete has two entrances-a front and back door, as it were-which he preserves in the desired form by frequently pressing in and out in opposite directions, so as to keep the nest in form and sufficiently open.
When the nest is finished fatal combats often ensue for its possession; and when at last preserved or conquered, the triumphant male invites some favorite female to come and occupy the edifice, over which he keeps guard during the whole time she is depositing her eggs; always wearing in honor of the joyful occasion his brightest hues of white and scarlet, or more regal purple. He continues to maintain his guard in full uniform until the eggs, or spawn, are all hatched, and the young fry begin to disperse; and then retires, his office over, and his gay colors faded to the usual dusky green.
THE DUTCH IN NEW YORK. N 1663, according to Mr. Watson, al
presented their gable ends to the street; and all the most important buildings, as the "Stuyvesant Huys" and the "Stadt Huys," were set in the foreground, to be seen the more readily from the river. The chief part of the town then lay along the East, at that time called Salt River, the ground gradually descending from the high ridge corresponding to the line of Broadway. The three half moon forts, named the Rondeels, were built at equal distances for the defense of the place, the first at Coenties Slip, and the third at the "Water Gate," on the outer bounds of the city, being the foot of the present Wallstreet. Between Moore and Whitehall streets lay the shipyards, and where now tower stately trees on the Battery were numerous rocks forming "the Ledge."
In our last number we gave an engraving of a group of old Dutch tenements formerly standing on the corner of Broad and Garden streets, whose places are now occupied by immense warehouses; and also a sketch of an old grocery, bearing the number 41 Broad-street. Whether it was erected by a Stuyvesant, a Hardenbrook, or a Schermerhorn, is not known. It escaped the great conflagration of 1776, and in 1830, when still occupied, as the sign on the door indicates, was known to be one hundred and thirty-two years old.
As the first settlers of New Amsterdam were from Amsterdam in Holland, they brought with them to the New World the same manners, customs, and opinions that prevailed in the land of their nativity. The fashion of their apparel and the form of their dwellings, in particular, were fac similes of such as they had been familiar with in Holland, where gable fronts, leaden windows, and sharp pointed roofs are characteristic features of both city and village-of the stadtholder's palace, the burgomaster's mansion, and the peasant's hut. Thus the young has outgrown the old; and in the native home of the Hollanders we have often lingered over those quaint old scenes for which one looks in vain among their children in the Western World.
The cottage style was usually adopted by the founders of New Amsterdam. Most of their buildings consisted of a single