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find their nests, while they held a large fly under their wings with one of their other feet; they crept with it into the hole that leads to the nest, and staid there. about 3 minutes, when they came out. With their hind feet, they threw the sand so dexterously over the hole, as not to be discovered; then taking flight, soon returned with more flies, settled down, uncovered the hole, and entered in with their prey.
This extraordinary operation raised his curiosity to try to find the entrance, but the sand fell in so fast that he was prevented, till by repeated essays he was so lucky as to find one. It was 6 inches in the ground, and at the farther end lay a large maggot, near an inch long, thick as a small goose quill, with several flies near it, and the remains of many more. These flies are provided for the maggot to feed on, before it changes into the nymph state, then it eats no more till it attains to a perfect wasp.
XII. An Account of the Plague at Aleppo.* By the Rev. Tho. Dawes, Chaplain to the Factory there. Dated Aleppo, Oct. 26, 1762. p. 39. Mr. D. here states that Aleppo and the adjacent country for 6 been in a very terrible situation, afflicted during the greatest part of that time: years past had with many of the Almighty's severest scourges. Its troubles were ushered in by a very sharp winter in 1756-7, which destroyed almost all the fruits of the earth. The cold was so very intense, that the mercury of Falirenheit's thermometer, exposed a few minutes to the open air, sunk entirely into the ball of the tube. Millions of olive-trees, that had withstood the severity of 50 winters, were blasted in this, and thousands of souls perished merely through cold. The failure of a crop of the succeeding harvest occasioned a famine with all its attendant miseries. In many places the inhabitants were driven to such extremities, that women were known to eat their own children, as soon as they expired in their arms, for want of nourishment. Numbers of persons from the mountains and villages adjacent came daily to Aleppo, to offer their wives and children to sale for a few dollars, to procure a temporary subsistence for themselves; and hourly might be seen in the streets dogs and human creatures scratching together on the same dunghill, and quarrelling for a bone, or a piece of carrion, to allay their hunger. A pestilence followed close to the heels of the famine, which lasted the greatest part of 1758, and is supposed to have swept away 50 or 60 thousand souls in Aleppo and its environs.
Having in a former letter given an account of the earthquakes of 1759 and 1760, Mr. D. proceeds to the description of another scourge, the plague, which after lying dormant from the autumn and through the winter, made its appearance again in Aleppo at the end of March 1761, to the great consternation of
* A complete history of this memorable plague was published by Dr. Patrick Russell, in 1791.
the inhabitants. The infection crept gently and gradually on, confined chiefly to one particular quarter, till the beginning of May, when it began to spread visibly and universally. They shut up on the 27th, and their confinement lasted 96 days. The fury indeed of the contagion did not continue longer than the middle of July, and many of the merchants went abroad with caution early in August; but as the British consul had no urgent business to induce him to expose himself to any risk, his family remained in close quarters till they could visit their friends with tolerable security. As an addition to the uneasiness of their situation, the earthquakes returned the latter end of April, though with no great violence, except the first shock, and that much less terrible than those of 1759. They felt 6 or 7 within the week, and 4 more at long intervals during their imprisonment; but as they were all slight, their apprehensions soon subsided. At their release from confinement the last day of August, they flattered themselves with the hopes of a speedy release from danger; but it pleased God to order it otherwise. In all the plagues with which Aleppo had been visited in the 18th century, the contagion is said to have regularly and constantly ceased in August or September, the hottest months in the year; and it is pretty certain, that it disappeared about that time in 1742, 1743, 1744, and 1760; but unfortunately the year 1761 proved an instance of the fallacy of general observations on this dreadful subject; for from the end of March 1761 to the middle of September 1762, scarcely a day passed without some deaths or fresh attacks from the distemper; and though the violence of it ceased in the autumn, yet on an it was fatal to at least 30 persons in every week, from that time to the end of the winter. In February 1762 they were pretty healthy: hearing but of few accidents, and those in the skirts of the city, they once more began to entertain some faint hopes of a farther exemption, but they were of very short duration: in March the infection spread again, and in April increased with such rapidity, that they were obliged to retire to close quarters on the 26th of that month, and did not go abroad again until the 28th of August, when the burials ▾ were reduced to about 20 a day; the infection gradually decreased till the middle of September, after which time no accident had been heard of.
Mr. D. wishes he could with any precision determine the loss in the 2 summers 1761-62; but, in times of such general horror and confusion, it is in a manner impossible to come at the exact truth. If you inquire of the natives, they swell the account each year from 40 to 60,000, and some even higher; but, as the eastern disposition to exaggeration reigns at present almost universally, little accuracy is to be expected from them: this however is certain, that the mortality of 1762 was very considerable, perhaps not much inferior to any in the 18th century. Some of the Europeans had been at no small pains and expence to procure a regular and daily list of the funerals during their confinement, and
their account amounted to about 20,000, from the 1st of April to the 1st of September 1762, and about one-third less the preceding summer. This calcuation Mr. D. was inclined to think was pretty right, though there were some strong objections against a probability of being able to procure a just one in such circumstances: for the Turks keep no register of the dead, and have 72 different public burial places in the 7 miles circumference of the city, besides many private ones within the walls. The Christians and Jews, who are supposed to be rather less than a 7th part of the number of inhabitants, have registers, and each nation one burial place only; their loss in 1762 was about 3500 in the 5 months.
Mr. D. mentions that during the months of June and July, (the greatest part of which the burials were from 2 to 300 a day) the noise of men singing before the corpses in the day, and the shrieks of women for the dead both day and night, were seldom out of their ears. Custom soon rendered the first familiar to him, but nothing could reconcile him to the last; and as the heat obliged them to sleep on the terrace of their houses in the summer, many of his nights' rest were disturbed by these alarms of death.
All the English had been so fortunate as to escape infection in their houses, though each year 4 or 5 Europeans had been carried off, and each year the plague broke out in 2 houses that join to the English consul's. In one of them died a Franciscan priest, after 2 days' illness, whose bed was placed about 6 yards distance from Mr. D.'s. He believes he was in no great danger, as a wall 9 or 10 feet high separated their terraces; but had he known his situation, he should have moved farther off. The year before, he was thrown into a very great agitation of mind for a few days, by the death of his laundress's husband; for the very day he died of the plague, his servant had received his linen from his house, and he had carelessly put on some of it, even without airing. This accident happened many weeks after they were open, and his illness was industriously kept a secret. The last month of his confinement in 1762 passed very heavily with him indeed; for he found his health much disordered. Whether it proceeded from a cold he catched in his head by sleeping in the open air in some very windy nights; from want of exercise; or from the uneasiness of his mind naturally attending his melancholy situation, he knew not; but his nerves seemed all relaxed, his spirits in a state of dejection unknown to him before, and his head so heavy and confused, that he could neither write nor read for an hour together with application or pleasure. Since his release, he had passed a month at a garden about an hour's ride from the city, for the sake of exercise and fresh air, and found himself much relieved by it, though his head was far from being then clear.
Among many anecdotes relating to this plague that he had heard, the following seemed somewhat extraordinary: and yet, as they were well attested, he had no
reason to doubt of the truth of them, viz. last year as well as this (1762) there had been more than one instance of a woman's being delivered of an infected child, with the plague sores on its body, though the mother herself had been entirely free from the distemper.
A woman that suckled her own child of 5 months, was seized with a most severe plague, and died after a week's illness; but the child, though it sucked her, and lay in the same bed with her during her whole disorder, escaped the infection. A woman upwards of 100 years of age was attacked with the plague, and recovered; her two grandchildren, of 10 and 16, received the infection from her, and were both carried off by it.
While the plague was making terrible ravage in the island of Cyprus, in the spring of 1760, a woman remarkably sanguine and corpulent, after losing her husband and 2 children, who died of the plague in her arms, made it her daily employment from a principle of charity to attend all her sick neighbours, that stood in need of her assistance, and yet escaped the infection. Also a Greek lad made it his business for many months to wait on the sick, to wash, dress and bury the dead, and yet he remained unhurt. In that contagion 10 men were said to die to 1 woman; but the persons to whom it was almost universally fatal, were youths of both sexes. Many places were left so bare of inhabitants, as not to have enough left to gather in the fruits of the earth; it ceased entirely in July 1760, and had not appeared in the island afterwards.
The plague seems this year (1762) to have been in a manner general over a great part of the Ottoman empire. They had advice of the havoc it had made at Constantinople, Smyrna, Salonicha, Brusa, Adena, Antioch, Antab, Killis, Ourfah, Diarbekir, Mousol, and many other large towns and villages. Scanderoon, for the first time he believed in the 18th century, had suffered considerably; the other Frank settlements on the sea coast of Syria had been exempted, excepting a few accidents at Tripoli, which drove the English consul, Mr. Abbott, into a close retirement for a week or two, but the storm soon blew over.
XIII. Observations on Sand Iron.* By Mr. Henry Horne. p. 48. Mr. H. procured, from Mr. Adams the Virginia merchant, a quantity of the black sand, and in order to estimate its comparative weight with that of iron ore, he procured some of the richest ore he could get, which having reduced to powder, he filled an ordinary tea-cup with it. He afterwards filled the same cup with some of the sand, and on comparing the weights with each other, he found that the weight of the sand was to that of the ore as 3 to 2; and having taken notice how readily the sand was attracted by the magnet, he was convinced that * Commonly called magnetic sand. It is a black oxyd of iron. 4 T
the sand must certainly contain a very considerable quantity of iron, and therefore determined to make trial of it. He was however, for some time, interrupted in his design, by information he received from a friend, that such an inquiry had been made many years before, by a member of the R. S., and of chemical knowledge, but without success; and that the experiments were published in the Phil. Trans., vol. xvii, p. 624.*
Having thoroughly considered those experiments, they appeared to Mr. H. far from decisive, and that if Dr. Moulin had placed more confidence in the power of the magnet, and less in his menstruums, he would rather have concluded that there might be some sorts of iron ore which his menstruums would not touch in the moist way, nor any regulus be produced from them in the dry, as he made use of them, which yet might, under some other hands, be subdued by more apt and powerful methods than any which at that time he was acquainted with.
Mr. H. however apprehended he might draw this conclusion from his experiments, viz. that the sand was not simply iron, but that it was strongly united with a fixed and permanent earth, which could not be separated from it without some powerful means; but he could not think this a sufficient objection to the prosecution of an experiment, which, if it succeeded, might be attended with very happy consequences. Proceeding therefore on this supposition, he mixed up about 8 or 9 oz. of the sand, with a proportional quantity of a strong corrosive flux, which he put together into a crucible, and committed it to a very strong fire in an excellent wind-furnace, where he kept it for between 2 and 3 hours, hoping by this means to have answered the intended purpose; but he confesses he was not a little surprised that, after the crucible was taken from the fire, he could not find a single grain of metal in the remaining contents.
This disappointment greatly puzzled him, till having thoroughly examined into the unexpected event, without being able to discover any reason sufficient to incline him to recede from his former opinion, as to the component parts of the sand, he concluded that the flux might possibly be a very improper one; for though it might have effected the intended separation, yet it might at the same time be sufficiently powerful to divide the particles of the metal, when separated, so very minutely, as to be capable of subliming and carrying them off imperceptibly; and finding the contents greatly diminished, so that the quantity remaining bore but a small proportion to that which was first put into the crucible, he concluded that this must really have been the case, and that some very different method must be pursued in order to produce the desired effects. He immediately determined to make a 2d trial, in which he proceeded in the following manner. He took the same quantity of sand made use of in the former expe
Vol. iii, p, 495 of these Abridgments.