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Having obtained, with some trouble, thirteen ounces of these bags, he had them beaten and washed, to free them from extraneous impurities. After this they were steeped in a solution of soap, nitre, and gum-arabic, and then boiled in the same mixture over a slow fire. Clean warm water was then used to free them from the soap, &c.; and having been laid for some days to dry, they were loosened with the fingers previously to being carded by the common silk-carders. By this process a beautiful ash-coloured silk is said to have been obtained, easy to be spun, and much stronger in the thread than that of the silk-worm. This was woven in a stocking-weaver's loom. The thirteen ounces of bags yielded about four ounces of silk, three of which were sufficient for the manufacture of a pair of stockings. This experiment fully demonstrated the capabilities of spider-silk; but the impossibility of obtaining abundance of the raw material precluded any further application of the discovery. Naturally, the substance is concealed, or torn and scattered about in insignificant quantities; and to rear spiders artificially, as we do the silk-worm, has been found impossible, in consequence of their hostile and ferocious natures. Reaumur placed 500o in fifty different cells, and fed them on insects and proper juices ; notwithstanding, the larger devoured the smaller, till in a short time only two or three were left in each compartment.
More recently, a gentleman of the name of Rolt received an honorary medal from the London Society of Arts for obtaining silk from the produce of the same spider. In Mr Rolt's experiment, the silk was obtained directly from the spinnerets of the animal, and not from its egg-bags or cocoons. He connected a small reel with the steam-engine of the factory in which he was occupied, and putting it in motion, at the rate of 150 feet per minute, found that a fullgrown spider would thus continue to afford an unbroken thread during from three to five minutes. The specimen of this silk which Mr Rolt presented to the Society was wound off from twenty-four spiders in two hours. Its length was estimated at 18,000 feet, its colour was white, and its lustre of metallic brilliancy, owing probably to its great opacity. Mr Rolt did not attempt to combine two or more filaments into one winding, nor to form it into thread by throwing. The thread of the garden-spider is so much finer than that of the silk-worm, that the united strength of five of the former is, according to Mr Rolt, equal only to one of the latter; and assuming that the weight is in proportion to the strength, and that a spider will yield twice a year a thread 750 feet in length, while that produced by a single silk-worm is 1900 feet, it follows that the produce of one silkworm is equal to that of 6} spiders. “Now,' says the Report in the Society's Transactions, as on an average it takes 3500 silk-worms to produce a pound of silk, it would take about 22,000 spiders to produce an equal quantity. Besides, spiders are not so easily confined as silk-worms, and whenever two come in contact, a battle ensues, which ends in the destruction of the weaker one. Spiders kept for silk must therefore be each in separate dens or cells; and the apparatus contrived by Mr Rolt for this purpose, though very ingenious, and well adapted to carry on a course of experiments with a hundred or two, would manifestly be wholly inapplicable to any purpose of commercial utility. Such has been the result of the experiments to obtain silk from spiders. The scantiness of the produce, the impossibility of rearing the animals in communities, and, above all, the difficulty of supplying them with food, leave little or no hope of amendment.
Strange as it may seem, spiders have otherwise had, or still have, some economical importance attached to them. 'Medicinally,' says Hentz, 'the web is narcotic, and has been administered internally in some cases of fever with success.' The web of the common housespider has long been employed in stopping the effusion of blood. 'Good Master Cobweb,' says Bottom, if I cut my finger, I will make bold with thee. Though spiders are regarded by us with aversion, there are savage tribes who eat them. Sparman says that the Bashie men consider them as dainties; and Labillardière asserts that the inhabitants of New Caledonia seek for and devour large quantities of a spider nearly an inch long, which they roast over a fire.
WAS born on the 24th of July 1687, in Crutched Friars, London, where my father then lived; but soon after, he removed to the Old Jewry, near Cheapside, where he kept, for several years afterwards, that noted house
called the King's Head, a famous beef-steak house in its day, and a great resort of merchants and other gentlemen. Reared in London, and often about the Thames, I acquired an unconquerable desire to go to sea ; and though my parents did everything in their power to give me a good education, and promised to push me on in the world, if I would abandon this notion, I persevered in my obstinate resolution. Not all the entreaties of my poor dear mother, though she once begged me on her knees, nor the persuasions of my father or any other friends, could make the least impression on me.
When they found their endeavours were ineffectual, they formed a new scheme to wean me from a sea-life. This was to procure me a short voyage, hoping that the many dangers and hardships to which I should be exposed, and should see others undergo, would deter me from persevering in that course of life. As wilful persons never want woe, such was my obstinacy, that nothing would content me but what contributed to my ruin ; and Providence justly frustrated all my hopes, by indulging me' in the choice I had so foolishly and ungratefully made, în direct opposition to my duty to my affectionate parents. When it was proposed that I should take a short voyage, I insisted that nothing but a voyage to the East Indies would please me ; for no other reason that I can think of, than that I had a cousin in the East India Company's service at Calcutta. It was accordingly resolved to gratify this whim. My father, however, shewed a due concern for my comfort and welfare, by the manner in which he fitted me out. He supplied me plentifully with provisions, clothes, and other necessaries for the voyage ; besides which, I had a cargo to trade on, to the value of a hundred pounds, which was a large trust for a boy of not yet fourteen years of age. I went as a passenger, well recommended to Captain William Younge, with whom my passage and the freight of my cargo were agreed for, and we soon after embarked.
The vessel Captain Younge commanded was the Degrave, of 700 tons burden, and carrying 52 guns. She was a regular India trader, and, like all others of her class, required to be well armed for the sake of defence. The parting with my mother was not without pain ; but I was a giddy boy, and soon recovered my spirits. The ship dropped pleasantly down the Thames to the Nore, and passed through the Downs on February 19, 170F. Nothing remarkable occurred during the outward-bound voyage. In our route, we stopped a week at the Canaries, and arrived at Fort George, in the East Indies, in three months and twenty days from the Downs. Two days after, we weighed anchor, and sailed to Mastapatan, where we staid a month, and then proceeded to complete our voyage to Bengal.
On arriving at Calcutta, my cousin came on board, and offered to assist in disposing of my goods; but the captain discovering that he was far from being trustworthy, took charge of my cargo, and sold the whole to good advantage, taking in exchange the commodities of the country. While lying at this port, we lost many of our crew by fever; and, worst of all, at length Captain Younge also died, leaving his son, who was second-mate, to take charge of the ship. This was a serious disaster, for our new commander was an inexperienced young man, not fit for so important a trust. The number of deaths on board caused us to wait a considerable time to recruit the ship's company. During this period of inaction, I learned to swim, and frequently amused myself by swimming in the Hooghly. I became so exceedingly expert in this art, that I could swim several miles up or down the river.
Our business being finished at Bengal, and our crew greatly renewed, we sailed on our homeward voyage, having on board 120 hands, some of them Lascars, besides two women and myself, and a few other passengers. As we were going down the river, our ship ran aground, and stuck fast; but there being a very strong tide, it turned her round, and we got off the next high water without any damage, as we imagined. This accident proved the cause of the sad misfortune which soon after overtook us. On getting out to sea, the vessel was found to have sprung a leak, and we were obliged to keep two chain-pumps continually at work. We were two months in this distressing condition, every man taking his turn at the severe labour of pumping. It was a joyful sight to see the island of Mauritius rising on the horizon, and we were all still more delighted to arrive at the island, which lies about 600 miles to the east of Madagascar. This fine island was inhabited by the Dutch, * who treated us with great kindness and humanity, assisting us with whatever was in their power. We made a tent on shore, in which we stowed great part of our cargo, in order to lighten the ship, and discover the leak. In this search, which could not have been properly performed, the sailors were unsuccessful, and the captain gave it up as hopeless. A month was spent on the island. Having taken on board plenty of good fish, turtle, and goats, with some beef, we departed, shaping our course directly for the Cape of Good Hope.
The infatuation of going to sea with a leaky vessel is more than I can possibly account for. Whatever motive urged the captain to do such an act of folly, he and all of us were severely punished for it. When we had been gone a few days from Mauritius, the leak gained on us more and more, and it was with great difficulty the ship could be kept above water. Young as I was, I saw that we were on the verge of destruction, and now repented in tears the madness of putting myself in the way of such a catastrophe. It was dreadful to see the exertions which the men made to keep the vessel from sinking. They wrought incessantly at the pumps; but the water came in as quickly as it was pumped and bailed out, and gained gradually, in spite of every effort. All were spent with fatigue, and despair settled on every countenance. According to our reckoning, we were a hundred leagues southward of Madagascar; and to lighten the ship, several guns and much of the heavy goods were heaved overboard. The captain was for continuing our course to the Cape, 600 leagues distant, but the ship's company in general opposed it, being of opinion that they could not keep her above water long enough, and were in favour of running to Madagascar, which was the nearest land.
The peril we were in did not admit of delay, and by urgent persuasion the captain ordered 'bout ship, and put back for Madagascar. The wind favouring us, the water-logged vessel got on somewhat better in its new course; and on the third day I was sent along with the captain's boy up to the mast-head to look out for land, since nobody else could be so well spared. In such apparent danger, my
*The Dutch afterwards abandoned Mauritius; and in 1721 it was taken possession of by the French, by whom it was called the Isle of France. The British took it from the