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To the lowest orders of the community, the nature of West India produce cannot fail to hold out the opportunities of cheap dissipation. As the peasants of Europe, in the countries of the vine, are uniformly observed to be of a more irritable temperament, and
not feel inclined to dispute, though we have a very contemptible opinion of their feeling; and we think that nothing can be more ridiculous than the assertion, that it tends to make men vigorous and spirited. Does not throwing the quoit, or playing at cricket, produce the same effect, and in a more harmless manner? In short, we cannot but declare that, in our opinion, the man who can take delight in tormenting any animal in open day, is only prevented from murdering a fellow creature by night, who might offend him, by the rigour of the laws, which we doubt that he would not have fortitude enough to support. As to the cock-fighters, we think them the most unfeeling set of miscreants in nature. It is impossible to conceive so disgusting a spectacle as the Cockpit, in St. James's Park, exhibits from Christmas till Easter. The writer of this article, from a residence on the spot, has had many opportunities of observing it, and will endeavour to give a faint description of the amusement and its patrons. At a certain hour in the afternoon, and again in the evening, several hundred fellows assemble, most of whom, in appearance, would disgrace a gibbet:- they consist of the lowest mechanics, just as they leave their work, with dirty aprons, &c. farmer-looking men from the country, shopkeepers, grooms, coachmen, lords, and dukes. They all pay either 3s. 6d. or 55. each for admission, according to the extent of the match; and they ail mix together indiscriminately!! Here is equality with a vengeance. You may see the nobleman, in boots and buckskin breeches, laying his five guineas against the black-smith's pound, who stands beside him; and at the conclusion of each battle, they settle their accounts with the most scrupulous punctuality.
more given to excess than those of corn districts, partlý from the fluctuation of their gains, and partly from the abundance of intoxicating liquors: so, we may expect the lower orders of the colonists to be affected somewhat in the same way, by the concurrence of the very same causes—an uncertain profit, and easy access to spirituous liquors.
Such, in general, are the modifications which we might suppose the manners of Europeans to receive from the peculiar structure of society, and the nature of the occupation in the West Indian colonies. It is almost unnecessary to remark, that the picture is a general one, applicable indeed to the great bulk of the population; but liable to many individual exceptions, so much the more honourable, as the common failings were more natural....
When the cocks are brought in, they are irritated by the feeders, who pat them, and hold them to each other till they draw blood.-They then set them down, and they fight furiously till one falls; when the other is suffered to strike at him, though he has not power to rise, till he is deprived, by repeated wounds, with spurs four inches long, of the power of motion !-And all this time the brutal spectators are laying their odds upon
the successful animal.-I have seen a cock thus tormented for half an hour after he was unable to rise; and on once remonstrating with a member of parliament on the cruelty of the sport, he replied that my sense of feeling was ideal, as “the cocks did not mind it at all !!!"
They in their pearly shells at ease attend
Tre pearl fishery, in the Bay of Condatchy, in the Island of Ceylon, affords occupation to some thousands of persons during the season, which begins in February and ends in April, The boats employed in this fishery carry twenty men, ten of whom are divers and ten boatmen, besides a chief, who acts as pilot. Five only dive at a time, when these come up the five others go down, and leave them to recruit their strength.
In order to accelerate the descent of the divers, large stones are employed: five of these are brought in each boat for the purpose: they are of a reddish granite, common in this country, and of a pyramidical shape, round at top and bottom, with a hole, perforated through the smaller end, sufficient to admit a rope. Some of the divers use a stone shaped like a half-n they fasten round the belly when they mean to descend, and thus keep their feet free.
These people are accustomed to dive from their very infancy, and fearlessly descend to the bottom in from four to ten fathoms water, in search of the oysters. The diver, when he is about to plunge, seizes the rope, to which one of the stones we have described is attached, with the toes of his right foot, while he takes hold of a bag of net-work with those of his left; it being customary among all the Indians to use their toes in working or holding as well as their fingers, and such is the power of habit, that they can pick up even the smallest
thing from the ground with their toes as nimbly as a European could with his fingers. The diver, thus prepared, seizes another rope with his right hand, and, holding his nostrils shut with the left, plunges into the water, and by the assistance of the stone speedily reachesthe bottom. He then hangs the net round his neck, and with much dexterity, and all possible dispatch, collects as many oysters as he can, while he is able to remain under water, which is usually about two minutes. He then resumes his former position, makes a signal to those above by pulling the rope in his right hand, and is immediately by this means drawn up and brought into the boat, leaving the stone to be pulled afterwards by the rope attached to it.
The exertion undergone during this process is so violent, that, upon being brought into the boat, the divers discharge water from their mouth, ears, and nostrils, and frequently even blood. But this does not hinder them from going down again in their turn. They will often make from forty to fifty plunges in one day; and at each plunge bring up about a hundred oysters. Some rub their bodies over with oil, and stuff their cars and noses to prevent the water from entering; while others use no precautions whatever. Although the usual time of remaining under water does not much exceed two minutes, yet there are instances known of divers who could remain four or even five minutes, which was the case with a Caffree boy the last year I visited the fishery. The longest instance ever known, was that of a diver who came from Anjango in 1797, and who absolutely remained under water full six minutes.
The only cause of dread to the diver during this ter
rific operation is the ground shark; and with a view to avoid his attacks, they consult their conjurer before they begin to dive, and pay a religious attention to all his directions. These directions, however, as our readers will naturally suppose, are not always efficacious; and when, in spite of them, any diver meets with an accident, the ingenuity of the conjurer is exercised in the invention of a plausible excuse for the failure. ...
.....The invention of these fellows, in redeeming their credit, when any untoward accident happens to falsify their predictions, deserves to be noticed. Since the island came into our possession, a diver at the fishery one year lost his leg, upon which the head conjurer was called to account for the disaster. His answer gives the most striking picture of the knowledge and capacity of the people he had to deal with. He gravely told them, “that an old witch, who owed him a grudge, had just come from Colang on the Malabar coast, and effected a counter conjuration, which for the time rendered his spells fruitless; that this had come to his knowledge too late to prevent the accident which had happened, but that he would now show his own superiority over his antagonist, by enchanting the sharks and binding up their mouths, so that no more accidents should happen during the season.” Fortunately for the conjurer the event answered his prediction, and no farther damage was sustained from the sharks during the fishery that year. Whether this was owing to the prayers and charms of the conjurer, I leave
European readers to decide; but certainly it was firmly believed to be the case by the Indian divers, and he was afterwards held by them in the highest esteem and ye