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of the vision penetrating the twilight by which I was surrounded, together
with the excruciating pain that I felt in my ears and eyes : in short, my · mind being assailed by a thousand incomprehensible images, I ceased
striking wiih my hand and legs; I felt myself receding from the bottom; the delightful thought of once more beholding the blue heavens above me get the better of every other reflection; 1 involuntarily changed the position of my body, and, in the next instant, found myself once more on the surface. How did my bosom inflate with the rapid inspirations of my natural atmosphere, and a sensation of indescribable pleasure spread over every part of the body, as though the spirit was rejoicing at its liberation from its watery peril !
' In fact, it was a new sensation which I cannot describe. I did not suffer it
, however, to be of long duration,-once more I essayed with a more fixed determination. Again I felt myself gliding through the slippery water, which, from its density, gave one the idea of swimming through a thick jelly; again I experienced the same change of temperafare in the water as I descended; and again the agonizing sensation in my ears and eyes inade me waver. But now, reason and resolution urged me on, although every instant the pain increased as I descended; and at the depth of six or seven fatboms, I felt a sensation in my ears like that produced by the explosion of a gun; at the same moment, I lost all sense of pain, and afterwards reached the bottom, which I explored with a facility which I had thought unattainable. Unfortunately, I met with no oysters to repay me for my perseverance : and as I found myself exhausted for want of air, 1 seized hold of a stone to prove that I had reached the bottom at eight fathoms water, and rose to the top with a triumph as great as if I had obtained a treasure.
"I no sooner found myself on the surface than I became sensible of what had happened to my ears, eyes, and mouth ; I was literally bleeding from each of these, though wholly unconscious of it. But now was the greatest danger in diving, as the sharks, mantas, and tinteréros, have an astonishingly quick scent for blood. However, I was too much pleased with my success, to attend to the advice of the diver, and I continued the practice till I had collected a considerable number of shells, out of which I hoped to reap a rich harvest. But although constancy has a great deal to do with success, it will not command it! Six
small pearls were all that the large number of shells produced, although many of the oysters were large, and evidently of considerable age ; but, like myself, they were "quite old enough to be better.”
* The oyster secures itself so firmly to the rocks by its beard, that it re: quires no little force to tear it away; and as its external surface is full of
sharp points, the hands are soon severely cut by them. The effect of the buoyancy of the water is also curious. At the depth of seven or eight fathoms, it requires exertion to keep down; and if you then attempt to lay hold on a rock with the hands, you find yourself, as it were, suspended, so that if you let go your hold you will immediately tumble upwards! I remember, the first oyster I ever met with was at the depth of four fathoms only; my head was almost touching it; and forgetting, in my pleasure, to strike out with my legs, as I stretched forward my hand to catch hold of the prize, to my astonishment, the oyster slipped from my grasp, and I found myself nearly at the surface of the water the next instant, so that I had all my labour for nothing.
'So firmly does the oyster fix himseif to the rock, that, in order to tear him away, it is necessary to get “a purchase" upon him, by placing the feet on the bottom. The excessive difficulty of doing this is incredible; it requires the muscular strength of the whole body to overcome the resistance of the water's buoyancy. I have no doubt that, by means of its long beard, the oyster has the power of locomotion, and that it changes its situation according to its pleasure or convenience.'--pp. 250—254.
Although disappointed in his search, Mr. Hardy had now seen enough to be persuaded that a diving-bell would be of no use in the pearl-fishery, at least in the Gulf of California, owing to the inequality of the bottom, which he found to be full of narrow fissures, within which the oysters almost always fixed themselves. He also became aware that he had been led into a gross error, by being led to believe that beds’ of oysters meant places where they lay heaped up in large masses.
** Indeed,' he says,
a moment's reflection would have pointed out the impossibility of the oysters being piled in heaps together in this gulf. This fish always seeks for tranquillity, which it could never find in situations exposed to currents, and motion occasioned by the undulation of the water. I always found them in sheltered bays, the bottoms of which were covered with large rocks.'-p. 255. He also notices a remarkable circumstance.
The perception of objects under water at this depth is very indistinct, and their magnitude is augmented, so that a very small shell appears of large dimensions, and the diver is frequently mortified by the discovery of the mistake when he rises. It is strange that the deception should not be detected by the touch : but it would appear, that in the same way as the eyes measure the capacity of the stomach, so also do they convey to the hands a sort of conviction that the apparent is the true size; so that these organs take pleasure in mutually deluding each other !'-pp. 255, 256.
Mr. Hardy informs us that he frequently dived when the horizon was filled with the projecting fins of sharks, rising above the surface of the water!' and swimming round him in every direction, at no greater distance than a few fathoms!' and thinks, that nothing but the strong concentration of the passions upon one particular object could induce a man to brave such frightful dangers; the only weapon of defence with which the diver is provided on such occasions being a stick, about nine inches long, and pointed at both ends. "The diver grasps it in the middle, and when attacked by a shark, he thrusts it into the monster's jaws, in such a position that in attempting to seize his victim, the jaws close upon the two sharp points; thus secured, he can do no mischief, but swims away with his martydom; the diver rises and seeks a new weapon of defence. Nevertheless, there are dangers to be apprehended, against which even this contrivance is of no avail, as may be seen by the following anecdote, related to our traveller by Don Pablo Ochon, who, for many years, was a superintendent of the fishery and an expert diver, as having happened to himself:
"The Place de la Piedra negada, which is near Loréto, was supposed to have quantities of very large pearl-oysters round it—a supposition which was at once confirmed by the great difficulty of finding this sunken rock. Don Pablo, however, succeeded in sounding it, and, in search of specimens of the largest and oldest shells, dived down in eleven fathoms water. The rock is not above one hundred and fifty or two hundred yards in circumference, and our adventurer swam round and examined it in all directions, but without meeting any inducement to prolong his stay. Accordingly, being satisfied that there were no oysters, he thought of ascending to the surface of the water; but first he cast a look upwards, as all divers are obliged to do, who hope to avoid the hungry jaws of a monster. If the coast be clear, they may then rise without apprehension.
* Don Pablo, however, when he cast a hasty glance upwards, found that a tinteréro had taken a station about three or four yards immediately above bim, and, most probably, had been watching during the whole time he had been down. A double-pointed stick is a useless weapon against a tinteréro, as its mouth is of such enormous dimensions, that both man and stick would be swallowed together. He, therefore, felt himself rather nervous, as his retreat was now completely intercepted. But, under water, time is too great an object to be spent in reflection, and therefore he swam round to another part of the rock, hoping by this means to avoid the vigilance of his persecutor. What was bis dismay, when he again looked up, to find the pertinacious tinteréro still hovering over him, as a hawk would follow a bird. He described him as having large, round, and inflamed eyes, apparently just ready to dart from their sockets with eagerness, and a mouth (at the recollection of which he still shuddered) that was continually opening and shutting, as if the monster was already in imagination deFouring his victim, or, at least, that the contemplation of his prey imparted a foretaste of the gout !
* Two alternatives now presented themselves to the mind of Don Pablo: one, to suffer himself to be drowned—the other, to be eaten. He had already been under water for so considerable a time, that he found it impossible any longer to retain his breath, and was on the point of giving himself up for lost, with as much philosophy as he possessed. But what is cearer ihan life? The invention of man is seldom at a loss to find expedients for its preservation in cases of great extremity. On a sudden he fecollected, that on one side of the rock, he had observed a sandy spot, and to this be swam with all imaginable speed; his attentive friend still watching his movements, and keeping a measured pace with him.
: As soon as he reached the spot, he commenced stirring it with his pointed stick, in such a way that ihe fine particles rose, and rendered the water perfectly turbid, so that he could not see the monster or the monster him. Availing himself of the cloud, by which himself and the tinteréro were enveloped, he swam very far out in a transvertical direction, and reached the surface in safety, although completely exhausted. Fortunately he rose close to one of the boats; and those who were within, seeing him in such a state, and knowing that an enemy must have been persecuting him, and that, by some artifice, he had saved his life, jumped overboard, as is their common practice in such cases, to frighten the creature away by splashing in the water; and Don Pablo was taken into the boat more dead than alive.'—pp. 257-- 260.
The sharks are, indeed, so formidable to every creature of which the sea is not absolutely the natural element, that we are told of an instance of a number of seals lying upon the shore of an island, which quietly allowed themselves to be knocked on the head by that ferocious animal, man, from fear of falling into the jaws of some of those monsters ; the largest, the captain said, he had ever seen, which were blockading the poor creatures on the sea-side, and picked up every seal which was bold enough to venture into the water. The following scene may give some idea of the formidable nature of these "hyænas of the deep.”
Our author was sitting on the highest hill of an island he had discovered in the gulf, and which he has named George's Island, plunged into a reverie of home, and friends, and kindred, when he was suddenly roused by a splashing in the water. It was a combat between a seal and two monstrous sharks.
• Never did I witness any thing half so terrific. I could scarcely breathe from anxiety. The commotion in the water was very great, and the long tails of the sharks were, at intervals, four or five feet out of the water, making muscular efforts, and flouncing with ferocious energy, to keep the seal from rising to the surface. Presently their tails entirely disappeared, and in an instant more, the ruffled surface of the water, where the combat had taken place, was discoloured with blood, bubbling up from below: and a perfect smoothness succeeded, which left only a trace of where the fight had been. So completely were my feelings absorbed by the spectacle, that no sooner had the excitement subsided, than I was overcome by a faintness and a sensation of thirst, which even at this moment of detailing the relation, I could fancy that I feel afresh, and that again I see the poor seal torn to pieces.
• Two of the crew told me that they also had beheld the fight, and afterwards saw the poor seal crawl out of the water upon the rocks with his entrails hanging out. Judging from the appearance of the sharks swimming round the island close to the shore, I should imagine they cannot be short of thirty feet long. They look like whales; and I took especial care neither to venture into the water myself, nor suffer any of our men to do so.'-pp. 306, 307.
But we are terrified when we view the combat between the powerful and strong, the spilling of large quantities of blood alarms our imagination ; but the havock which we and other animals commit upon the smaller species of the creation, which can neither defend themselves, nor even express their pain by cries, we regard unmoved ; and sometimes, even the sight of the injury inflicted such little creatures upon each other affords us amusement.
• There were many low rocks on the beach,' Mr. Hardy tells us, complacently, in the next page, among which, at low water, I picked up a great number of very pretty shells, all small, and many with fish in them.
• While engaged in this occupation, I was surprised to observe, on alaost all the flat rocks, little piles of shells. I knew that only my Mexican servant came on shore with me in the canoe, and him I saw engaged
in another direction ; knowing also that he had never passed over the spot where the heaps in question were piled; and even if he had, that it would bave been impossible for him, in so short a time, to have made so many, I began to imagine that they must have been made by Indians, and carefully examined the sand for the print of footsteps. But I could find only my own. I was therefore at a loss to conjecture the cause of this curious circumstance. Upon re-examining the heaps, I discovered small crabs to be engaged in this occupation! They were dragging them along, and appeared to be charitably disposing them as habitations for their young progeny, to whom it afforded a comfortable protection against the beating of the sea upon the rocks, when the tide rose, as well as from the jaws of Other fish. I stayed and watched the progress of their labours with great amusement, and it only ceased when the rising of the tide permitted them to work no longer.'-pp. 308, 309.
We have no doubt that it amused Mr. Hardy, but we doubt whether the poor shell-fish which were thus dragged out of their natural sphere to be starved to death on the beach, were not as much alarmed, and would have struggled as hard, if they had had the power, as the seal within the fangs of the two sharks. But we do not blame Mr. Hardy for this difference of feeling he evinces on the two occasions—it is in human nature.
The lions in the mountains of California are said to be very ferocious. Mr. Hardy gives an instance which he heard from a native:
A former commandant of this province, in the year 1821, was travelling near the gulf of Molexe, the western side of which passes the road from San Diego, whence he had come; and finding it impossible, from the lateness of the hour, to reach Loréto before morning, he resolved upon sleeping in one of the valleys near the shore. His two sons, youths of sixteen and eighteen years of age, accompanied him. The father, being apprehensive of lions, which he knew to be plentiful among the mountains, slept with a son on either side of him, charitably supposing, that if one of these animals should approach the party during the night, he would certainly attack the person sleeping on the outside.
About midnight, a wandering lion found out the retreat of the trio, and, without his approach being perceived, he leaped upon the father, in whose body he inserted his teeth and claws, and with mane and tail erect, proceeded forth with to devour him. The two boys, moved by the cries and sufferings of their parent, grappled the lion manfully, who, finding his prize contested, became furious; the combat was most bloody. After being dreadfully lacerated, the two brave youths succeeded, with a small knife
, in killing their ferocious enemy, but, unhappily for them, not soon enough to save their father; and the afflicted boys were left to lament his death and their own severe wounds. They both, with difficulty, survived; and are, I understand, still living in California, although dreadful objects, the features of one of them being nearly obliterated.'—pp. 261, 262.
These mountains are also the abode of wild cattle, which are hunted by the inhabitants of the missions for their fat. Mr. Hardy