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the oysters are washed by the upper layer | were none but human enemies to limit their of fresh water, which purges them of all increase; yet so unsparing and persistent impurities and leaves them white and sweet. had the pursuit of them become that they In this condition they will live and retain were in imminent danger of extermination. their flavor out of water for three months if The war gave the oysters of the Chesapeake closely packed and kept cool.
a respite, and the work of depletion was When the inquiries were made for this stayed; but it was speedily taken up again, article, oyster grounds were valued at from and already the oystermen of those parts
are deploring the exhaustion of their most valuable beds and the necessity of going further and further out for their supplies. The natural advantages of the Chesapeake and its tributary waters for the rapid growth of oysters are unsurpassed. Nevertheless, those seemingly exhaustless fields are faring precisely as oyster-beds have the world over when left to the mercy of men who have but one object in connection with them, and that is to gather each day the largest amount possible, regardless of the future. There never yet was a useful natural growth, however vigorous and prolific, that could hold its own against human greed untempered by personal ownership.
“No' fishery," observed a prominent member of the British Oyster Fisheries' Commission lately, “ No fishery can fail to be destroyed if left to the interested in
genuity of man, the oyster fishery least of fifty to five hundred dollars and more an all." The opinion is a plausible one-but acre. It is to be presumed, however, that it is utterly mistaken. there has been a shrinkage in these values The British government has acted on it as in the case of all other property. Under for years, vainly striving to foster the multifavorable circumstances, an average yield plication of oysters and oyster-beds by of five hundred bushels of oysters to the restrictive measures, close times, and the acre can be reasonably counted on, very like, and all the while the oyster crop has much larger crops being common. From fallen off and the prices of oysters has risen; four to six years are required for the matur- they were ten dollars a bushel in 1862, and ing of a crop of spat, in which time an acre more than seven times as much in 1875. In of seed will have increased to two or three like manner it has been attempted in this thousand bushels if properly handled and country to thwart, by various enactments, cared for. This, it is to be feared, but rarely the “interested ingenuity” of oystermen, happens, most oyster growers trusting too and always with an effect contrary to what much to nature for the development of their was expected. The cure lies in the very stock. Left to themselves, the oysters crowd opposite direction. If the depletion of our each other and become pinched and ill- oyster-beds is to be stayed, if a constant developed. Many die ; more are killed by supply sufficient to meet the steadily instars and other vermin; and those that are creasing demand is to be maintained, it left are in the end sadly inferior in size and will be by increasing the interest-personal, quality to what they ought to be. In sea- pecuniary interest-of oystermen in the farming, as in every other occupation, it is oyster-beds, not by trying to thwart or only the intelligent, diligent and watchful restrain it. Oystermen must be allowed to that command high success.
be something more than oyster catchers. Shortly before the war of the rebellion The ownerless buffaloes are doomed to certhe oyster-beds of Virginia were repre- tain extermination; they are nobody's propsented by Governor Wise as having an area erty and everybody's prey. So likewise are of nearly 2,000,000 acres, averaging four the ownerless oysters. hundred bushels to the acre. The Virginia The oyster commissioners of the Chesaoysters are enormously prolific, and there peake predict that if the steady exhaustion
PINCHED OYSTERS (CALLED SHANGHAIS). of the oyster-beds of Maryland and Vir- uncertain title, such as has been granted ginia continues, the entire stock will be used along the Connecticut shore, certainly does up within half a century, and we may be not point that way. While the perpetuity of sure that no diminution in the demand for oyster-beds on common ground has everyoysters will cut short the work of destruc- where been seriously threatened, a shadowy tion. That the predicted extermination of title to cultivated ground has sufficed to the oysters of those waters, or any of the cover miles and miles of once unproductive waters of our Atlantic coast, will really hap- Sound-bed with the finest oysters in the pen, however, we have not the slightest world. Were the title made good enough
to borrow money on, there would be no lack of capital to stock the rest of the Sound, or of men to cultivate its inviting acres now untilled.
Our excellent and serviceable National Fish Commission might do well to move in this matter. An act of Congress authorizing the sale of soundings along the coast exclusively for oyster farming would help
the work enormously. The coastwise states, OYSTER-BOATS.
by supplementary enactments, could easily fear. The nation cannot afford it, and will place the oyster farmer on an equal footing prevent it by giving to oyster growers the with the ordinary agriculturist with great best of all encouragement-freedom and advantage to them and to the country at protection.
large. There would be some delicate quesThe country is well stocked with domestic tions of local jurisdiction to settle, and some cattle, and there is little danger of the sup- common rights to ordinary fisheries to be ply running out. Suppose they were sud- protected, but these need not lead to any denly declared to be common property, as the oysters are, and no one allowed to hold a permanent personal interest in any he suffered to remain alive,-how long would the supply be kept up? In the case of cattle the interested ingenuity of man is wisely conservative; their numbers are increased and their quality improved by careful selection and cultivation. Why should the rule be reversed under water ? Suppose the government were to authorize the survey and sale of shallows—in other words, land suitable for oyster farmingand make the oyster grower's title to the ground he stocks and the crop he raises as secure as the upland farmer's is, -would the quantity or the quality of the oyster crop be endan- serious difficulties. Nor would navigation gered?
be interfered with or impeded in the least. The effect produced by a partial and The productive area which might be
added to the public domain by thus taking home and abroad advances even in the cultivable coast is simply enormous rapidly than the supply.
And if every It lies at our very doors, and the cost of acre of available coast-water, from Cape reclaiming it would be small compared Cod to the mouth of the Chesapeake, were with the wealth it would return. Once brought under cultivation, it is doubtful assured that their growing crops would be as whether the supply of oysters could ever
secure against trespass as the upland farmer's, outrun the demand. Vast as the present the oystermen of Long Island Sound would commercial and alimentary importance of go on extending their operations until the oyster trade has become, it is but in its every acre of the Sound-bed would be infancy. It is capable of almost infinite exbrought under cultivation. The depth of tension; and when the supply is drawn, not the waters would offer no obstacle, either merely or chiefly from unprotected natural to the growth of oysters or their propa- beds, chance-sown and accidentally develgation, since the finest natural oysters the oped, but from larger areas systematically Sound has produced were found in the stocked, cultivated and defended against verdeepest depression of that submerged val- min and the unregulated greed of man, the ley, and the American method of cultivation oyster crop will rank among the first of answers as well in deep water as in shal-American resources in point of value as it low. By the gradual extension of culti- now does in point of excellence. It is nourvated ground, the star-fish and other pests ished by the inexhaustible sea; it steadily enof the oyster-bed would be brought more riches instead of impoverishing the land, and and more under subjection, and with the the average yield is several times more abundlessening of the risks and losses the cost of ant and remunerative than any grain crop. raising oysters would be reduced and the It is little less than national folly, therefore, price would fall accordingly. The employ- to pride ourselves on practical thrift, while ment of steam power for propulsion and for slighting a field of productive industry so hauling dredges would more than make up promising as this is; still worse to discourfor the extra labor of dredging in deep age honest enterprise in it, as has been water; and with the improvement in modes done hitherto, by legal restraints. What and means of working likely to come from has already been accomplished in the face the cultivation of large areas, the product of popular opposition, financial difficulty iveness of the grounds—already worth more, and needless risk, is a guarantee that the acre for acre, than the best farm land field is well worth working, and also that might be greatly increased.
there would be no lack of workmen were The demand for American oysters at they offered proper encouragement.
The foolish bud would fain become a flower,
And flaunt its heart out in the fair sunshine ;
Dreams only of a golden fruitful hour.
The perfect, purple clusters hang, and pine
Impatient leaning from their sheltered bower.
And subtle sweets to this poor end are spent;
That man should idly quaff from sparkling glass
Your honey lingers on his lips, “ Alas
BY ADELINE TRAFTON.
outward seeming, even partaking of the
pleasures that came in her way, though DID HE SAY HE SHOULD COME AGAIN ?
without the heart to originate any. She But the skating carnival was doomed was quiet,-perhaps more so than in former never to take place. Claudia's zeal waned times,-cool, and, if the truth be told, a before the preparations were well under little cross in the sanctity of her own home way. After hope, despair. In these alter- where one may certainly be allowed some nations the days passed, until angry jealousy privileges of expression. But Captain Elyot took the place of both and put an end to all never dreamed of the mischief his careless desire to please and entertain her visitor. words had wrought. They had passed from For Claudia now looked in vain for the re- his mind—with a faint regret over their newal of the old intimacy with Captain Elyot, having been uttered—before he reached his who did not avail himself of the permission quarters.
If any thought of the evening she had given him that night at the door. lingered long with him, it was over Blossom, He often passed the house, either alone who had, without doubt, expected him. He or with companions; sometimes she met fancied her alone,-as she was so many him face to face. He went in and out hours of the day, listening for his knock at at Mrs. Stubbs's,—she herself had seen the door, turning her soft brown eyes toward him, but he did not come to her. It tor- it at every step outside; for, notwithstanding mented her day and night. If she only Lieutenant Orme's occasional notice of the
. knew the cause of his staying away, she girl and his freaks of kindly attention, it was would be satisfied, she said to herself. to Elyot himself that she looked for her Why had he asked to come if he had not pleasures and the relief from the dullness desired it? What could it be that stood in of her life at the post. He had promised the way? Not that she went about sighing, to teach her cribbage. They were to have and groaning, and wringing her hands. made a beginning this night. Civilization has turned a key upon expres- But Blossom had not passed so forlorn an sion. No; Claudia lived her usual life, to evening as he imagined. It is well for people to learn that they are not the hinges | Elyot said to Lieutenant Orme the next upon which the lives of others turn, and the morning after the tea-party at the major's. young man would have received a shock of “I was not with them at all,” replied surprise, to say the least, had he passed her Orme. “I spent the evening at the Stubbs's.” window an hour earlier than he did. The The room was uncomfortably warm, but clear stillness of the winter night outside this was like a puff of cool air in Elyot's was shivered by the sound of young voices face. So Blossom had not sighed in solsinging within the parlor,—not the doleful itude, and the young man went there at his ditties which Blossom bestowed upon her own pleasure now! friends, but gay, two-part songs and merry “There's a nice little girl for you,” the
glees from an old book Lieutenant Orme | lieutenant went on, between puffing away at had picked up elsewhere. Some jolly fellow, his meerschaum and critically eying its tint. ordered into the wilderness, had left it behind. “ No sort of nonsense about her. I asked They were droll songs to Blossom, with her to go out on the ice this afternoon.” their “ Tirra-la-las,"--all about hunting, and “ Indeed!” scenting, and rising betimes, and full of the “ Yes; but the old woman objected. It blast of horns. Blossom's little fingers was too cold, she said. I assured her that skipped and hopped about the keys,-no fox there was every prospect of a change in the in the chase was ever more bewildered; but weather, but all for nothing. She held out Mrs. Stubbs, at the further end of the room, against me, and I confess I gave it up rather taking her ease after the perplexing business than rouse her. They say there isn't such of the day, thought it all wonderfully fine, a temper within a thousand miles if a spark and rejoiced over the girl's happy laugh, happens to strike her. I've no desire to be which filled every pause and took the place that spark, and besides, she might deny me of more than one difficult passage.
the house if I proved troublesome. I'll try “ You left early last night," Captain | her again the first mild day. Or suppose