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so exercised, was altogether degrading to human nature, and better therefore they were never so exercised at all. Is it essential to the interests of a nation, that the talents of one part of the community should be employed for the ruin and destruction of the other part? But is it true that nothing is so well calculated to exercise the ingenuity of men, and excite their emulation, as the introduction of luxury into society? Such a notion would be insulting to the honour and goodness of God. Nobler views, more exalted exercises, and greatly more encouraging incentives are set before the human race. Whether we exam. ine the structure of our bodies, or the fabric of our minds; whether from ourselves, we look abroad upon the earth, or up to heaven, or higher still, to the heaven of heavens, we shall every-where find abundant materials for the highest exercise of our noblest powers, and for the most gratifying rewards of our industry. Every useful employment has its own immediate gratification. What pleasure can attend a useless and hurtful exercise, however ingenious?
Luxury, then, being pernicious to society, should be opposed by an inflexible adherence to chaste but simple manners, and by a due attention to the conduct of those with whom we are in any way connected. As we value the blessings we enjoy, and would wish to transmit them to our children, we should endeavour to renew the traces of that severe and manly hardihood, which are fast disappearing with the aged chroniclers of the events of other years.
10th February, 1819,
"A wood worm
That lies in old wood, like a hare in her form;
The power of superstition over the human mind, has been for a long series of years gradually weakening, and, since learning and philosophy have begun to spread their benign rays over our island, has in many parts almost disappeared. Still however, it is a melancholy truth, that too many of the lower ranks of society, and some even of the higher, are too credulous, even at this day, in believing many of the idle stories which were formerly invented by ignorance and superstition. Amongst these is the belief which is still retained by many people, in what is vulgarly called the Dead Watch.
It is an undoubted fact, that many people, when waiting upon the sick, hear something resembling the beating of a watch, which they frequently conclude is sent for a warning before the person's death. Nothing however, is more certain than that if they were to observe the same silence, at other times they would hear the beating equally distinct; but at that solemn hour, when we are anxiously waiting upon the bed of sickness, we naturally observe the most profound silence, and hence it is, that amidst the stillness of the night, we generally hear the Dead Watch.
We shall however lay before our readers an account of the insect, that has for so many ages been the cause of so much alarm to the superstitious, extracted from the best sourses of information - -The death watch is therefore the vulgar name, for what in the science of Zoology is termed the pediculus of old wood, a species of the termes belonging to the order of aperta and class of insects in the Linnæan system. It is nearly the size of a common louse; and the noise resembling the beating of a watch is made by the male or female when wooing each other.-There are two kinds of death watches; of the first we have an excellent account in the Phil. Trans. by Mr. Allen. It is a small beetle, five-sixteenths of an inch long, of a dark brown colour,
having pellucid wings under the vagina, a large cap or helmet on the head, and two artennæ proceeding from beneath the The part which it beats with, he observed, was the extreme edge of the face; which he calls the upper lip, the mouth being pro tracted by this bony part, and lying underneath, out of view.
This account is confirmed by Mr. Derham, with this differ ence, that instead of ticking with the upper lip he observed the insect to draw its mouth, and beat with its forehead. That author had two death watches, a male and a female, which he kept for several months alive in a box; and could bring one of them to beat whenever he pleased, by imitating its beating. The second kind of death watch is an insect in appearance quite dif ferent from the former. The first only beats 7 or 8 strokes at a time and quicker: the latter will beat some hours together without intermission; and the strokes are more leisurely, and like the beat of a watch. The latter is a small greenish insect, much like a louse when viewed with the naked eye; and the ticking as in the other is a wooing act. This minute insect is produced from a white egg much smaller than the nits of lice; it is hatched in March, and when it leaves its shell it is even smaller than its egg; though that can scarce be discerned without a microscope. When they come to their perfect size, they are very active, and run about very swiftly. This insect; which has been long known under the name of the Death Watch, has been noticedby Linnæus (Syst. Nat. p. 1015. No. 2) Geoffry, however, says, he is confident that it is not from this insect, but from the "dermes domesticus," (Syst. Nat. p. 563, No. 12) which makes the circular holes in furniture, that the ticking noise proceeds. Dr. Shaw assures us, that the insect properly called the Death Watch, is a caleopterous insect of the genus "ptinus." (Syst. Nat. p. 585.) He says it is chiefly in the advanced state of the spring that this alarming little insect commences its sound: the prevailing number of distinct strokes is from 7 to 9, or 10, these are given in pretty quick succession and are repeated at certain intervals; and in old houses, where the insects are numerous, they may be heard almost every hour of the day, especially if the weather be warm.-The sound exactly resembles that which may be made by beating moderately hard with the nail on a table. The insect is about a quarter of an inch in length. This accurate naturalist has distinguished this insect by the name "Ptinus Fatidicu," the beating ptinus,
On the Blood Avenger.
and supposes it to be the same with the "dermestes tesselatus of Fabricius, and the "ptinus paliator" of Gmelin. He also cautions us not to confound this insect, which is the real Death Watch of the vulgar, emphatically so called, with another insect, which makes a sound like the ticking of a watch, and which continues its sound for a long time without intermission, it belongs to a totally different tribe from the Dead Watch, and is the “terme pulsatarum” of Linnæus Nat. (Musc. vol. 9.)
ON THE BLOOD AVENGER.
TO THE EDITOR.
In reviewing the early history of the world, among many customs which have long ago become obsolete, we find not a few which seem to us inconsistent with civilized society. A remarkable instance of this kind is the practice of blood avengement, which prevailed among many nations of antiquity, and is not yet abolished, at least in one eastern country. The blood avenger was the nearest relation of the person murdered, whose duty it was to avenge his kinsman's death with his own hand. In the infancy of society when there was no magistrate or court of justice to award punishment to offenders, it is obvious that men's lives would have been in the highest degree insecure, had murders been allowed to be committed with impunity. The unlimited power of the blood avenger was considered as having a salutary effect not only in punishing the offender, but in preventing the wanton effusion of blood: and hence he has been considered by many as an indispensable member of society, prior to the establishment of judicial tribunals. But in this case one is tempted to suspect that the remedy is worse than the disease; for when the gratification of a passion so malignant as revenge, becomes the point of honour, it will lead to the most dreadful consequences. Suspicion must sometimes alight where it ought not; and as the avenger set out on his bloody expedition on the first notice of the death of his friend, in the heat of his passion he might put to death an innocent man whom report had stigmatized as the murderer, and thus become the perpetrator of a second murder. But this is not all. Where such a cus
Arabian Story of Kais.
tom prevails, one murder must necessarily lead to another, till deadly feuds become hereditary between families and tribes, so that one murder may lead to a hundred.
The blood avenger was recognised among the Israelites: but by the wise provisions of their lawgiver he was rendered compar atively harmless, and never appeared there, as he did in other nations, a relentless monster, who like a destroying angel, spread terror and death wherever he went. The reader will find the special enactments on this subject in the 35th chapter of Numbers. It may be remarked en passant, that Moses does not appoint the blood avenger, but speaks of him as already well known. And if it is asked why he did not abolish so dangerous a custom by declaring it a capital crime for a private indi vidual to revenge the murder of his friends, it may be answered that he probably found the prejudice in favour of this character too strong to be overcome at once, and therefore contented himself with limiting the powers of this licensed assassin.
In Arabia the blood avenger is still an honourable character. That man is in the highest degree contemptible, and the subject of universal reproach, who has not avenged his relation's death. He is at least as much despised as the military man among us who refuses a challenge. And on the other hand, the avengement of blood is with them a man's highest praise, and regarded as a proof of valour and magnanimity. In illustration of these statements I would recommend to your readers the following Arabian Story, extracted from Michaelis's Commentaries on the Laws of Moses a work replete with interesting information, and enriched with much biblical criticism.
I am, &c.
Glasgow, 9th March, 1819,
ARABIAN STORY OF KAIS,
"Hatim the father, and Adi the grandfather of Kais had both been murdered; but as that happened before Kais was capable of reflection, his mother kept it a secret from him, that he might not at any future period meditate revenge, and thereby expose his own life to danger. In order to guard against his having any suspicions, or making any inquiries as to their deaths, she collected a parcel of stones on two hillocks in the neighbourhood, that they might have the appearance of burial places, and