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venience to the old oyster, and eventually destroy its life. But, as soon as it attaches in dangerous proximity to the moutin of the shell, tbe oki Oyster works it or blows it from its position, and it finds another object, as in figure 8, which represents oysters attached to a neck of a glass bottle, and to a handle, and also a fragment of a jug; or it fastens to another place on the same shell. It is no uncommon occurrence to find in the natural beds large central oysters literally encrusted with those of smaller size, so arranged as to demonstrate the foregoing fact.
From the great prolificacy of the female oyster, it inight readily be inferred that the increase would far exceed the demands, great as they are, upon the natural beds. A single female oyster contains about two million ova, all of which, under favorable circumstances, should develop ito perfect oysters. But in deep water most circumstances are unfavorable to the existence of the ova and spat. They are beset by enemies and casualties from the spawn until the shells of the young become safficiently formed and hardened to afford protection.
In the Chesapeake, as in all the oyster waters of this country, the increase is altogether from the natural beds, where the ora and young cannot be protected. In the deep water the temperature is citen too cold for the development of the oval, and even when dereloped many of the delicate spats perish. Planted oysters are not allowed to remain undisturbed a sufficient length of time to enable them to breed. In the most favorable breeding localities, as in Tangiers Sound, the beds grow to such thickness that the underlying oyters are destroyed by the superincumbent weight of the accumulations. Here the beds are two feet and upward in thickness, with only a few inches of the upper portion composed of those living. Oysters will not survive for any long time when covered with sand, inad, or any other matter; and sometimes, by a change of current, or trom disturbance of the bottom by violent storms, extensive natural beds are covered by sand and destroyed. The young oysters, when they accumulate so rapidly as is the case in Tangers, add a stratum yearly to the natural beds, and destroy a corresponding stratum underneath. The increase is, therefore, only in the extension of the area occupied by the beds. Here dredging has been found most beneficial, asthe dredge relieves the beds of their weight, and spreads the oysters over the bottom. A half century since, the bottom of the Chesapeake was interspersed with numerous isolated beds of small extent and great thickness, but dredging has so scattered them that they now form almost a continuous bed, covering the whole bottom. Dredging also clears the upper portions of the beds of the accumulations of mud and sand. The ova adhere best to clean objects, and the dirt destroys the delicate spat. .
Tarietics.-Notwithstanding the proximity of the different varieties of the oyster, each preserves its identity, and they remain as it were in separate families. The number of varieties found in the Chesapeake has not been precisely ascertained, but it is supposed to be about thirty. Some of them have been imported from the Atlantic coast, and others from the southern rivers as plants, but most of them are indigenous. Those in the deep waters of the bay differ from such as are on the shoals, and the same variety is not frequently found in two rivers, however near their entrance into the bay. Nature has provided thick, hard sheils, capable of affording perfect security from their numerous enemies, for those in deep water; while, in the small and comparatively shallow rivers, where their foes do not exist in such numbers, the shells are thin and easily broken.
In the deposits of crustacea and acephala, forming a great portion of the inarl beds in the vicinity of the Chesapeake, there are many varieties
of the oyster and clam that have existed in its waters in some unknown period of the past, but which are now extinct. Oyster shells ineasuring fourteen inches in length, (Fig. 6,) and clam shells one and a half inch thick and six or seven inches in breadth, are found in a state of perfect preservation.
More recent banks or deposits of shells found on the shores of the bay in the county of Talbot and of Dorchester, in Maryland, show but little difference in size or conformation from those existing at the present time. Here are banks of shells one foot to four feet thick, extending indefinitely into the mainland, and covered by soil to such a depth as to admit of cultivation.
Food. From the investigations of scientific men nothing certain is learned as regards the peculiar food of the oyster. The regularoyster-men, who observe them at all seasons and in all conditions, entertain no other · idea on the subject than that they feed upon the salt water. Certain it is
that they feed only on the flood of the tide, as their shells are then open, while they are closed during the ebb. That they do eat or swallow and digest their food is inferred from their internal construction, as nature has provided them with the full complement of organs adapted to the purpose. Evidence that other food than that derived simply from salt water is consumed, is furnished in the fact that they grow and fatten near the land, in shallow water better than in the open sea, and become more perfect in size and condition in the mouths of the rivers, the floods of which carry down the elements of growth and thrift.
Artificial breeding. With all these natural advantages afforded by the Chesapeake for the successful propagation and culture of the oyster crop, the business is not efficiently managed by the unscientific men who are, at present, engaged in the work. Were the operations conducted with skill and judgment, the profits would be greatly enlarged, and the annual product could be almost indefinitely multiplied. The artificial propagation and culture of oysters are not attended by the risks and expenses of pisciculture, and require less skill and attention to insure success; yet streams heretofore tenantless of fish are now well stocked artificially with the finest and most delicious of the finny tribe. Oyster planting is here conducted in a slovenly and wasteful manner, while new plantations are seldom made from the spawn or the young oysters. The plan here adopted for the formation of new beds is to fasten in the natural beds, previous to the breeding season, a few stakes with brush attached. The spawn will attach to these in considerable numbers, and, when the ova are developed to the proper condition, the stakes are withdrawn, and fixed in the bottoms where it is intended to form new plantations or beds. In the third year from the spawn the new plantation begins to breed, and after that period it rapidly multiplies when the conditions are favorable.
M. Costé, a scientific gentleman and eminent naturalist of France, who has made the study of the oyster a specialty, proposes to stock the whole available coast of France with oysters, at a cost of about six dollars per acre. He has invented a small, portable machine, which he sinks in the natural beds previous to the breeding season, and leaves it to become freighted with the ova, and these to be developed into young oysters, when he withdraws the machine, and places it with its living attachments in some favorable locality that he wishes to stock with the bivalves. M. Costé has thus transplanted 20,000 young oysters at one time on his apparatus, which he assures us may be easily managed, and and on which the young oysters may be carried to any reasonable distance. It may be seen, therefore, what immense profits the extensive oyster grounds of the Chesapeake might be made to yield with skillful management and improved machinery, when under the present clumsy system a profit is realized, after paying an annual rent of $300 or $400 per acre.
The oyster commissioners of the Chesapeake report a gradual diminution in the oyster crop in the past ten years, and estimate, by the same rates of decrease, that the whole stock will be exhausted in a half century. It behooves the sovereign States that have jurisdiction over these valuble oyster grounds to encourage, by legislative aid or otherwise, the propagation and culture of oysters, both as a source of wealth to the States themselves, and as an article of food and luxury for the people. The means, as well as the knowledge and skill, are now reguired to increase successfuily the numbers and protect the spat, as well as to discriminate as to the best and most prolific varieties; for improvement may aš readily be made in quality as in quantity. Until recently the supply by natural increase was considered inexhaustible, and no aids, either legislative or otherwise, were deemed needful or advisable. But now, when an interest of so much importance to the States most directly concerned, and to the whole country, is threatened with extinction, the means for its preservation become a necessity. Not only its preservation may be readily accomplished, but its value may be greatly enhanced; and, by proper management, the oyster grounds of the Chesapeake can be made to supply a demand equal to that of our whole country at the present time.
COUNTRY ROADS AND ROAD LAWS.
The term "country roads" is intended to include all descriptions of wagon roads in rural districts, which are made and repaired under the general direction of " county commissioners,” « police," or "circuit courts," or, as in some States, under a board of " town supervisors," and in others under the selectmen" of the towns. The immediate supervision of construction and repairs is generally under the direction of local “road supervisors," or "path masters," as they are termed in some districts. The tax for road repairs is generally a capitation tax on male citizens between sixteen and sixty years of age. The number of days' labor required on public reads per annum varies in the different States from one day to fifteen. Although this system of levying road tax generally prevails, it is conceded that it is very defective, and, so long as it is continued, poor roads will be the inevitable consequence. There is prob. ably no public interest in which sound and intelligent legislation is more needed than in the enactment and revision of our road laws. Any system which provides for the assessment and collection of a road tax in labor will be found inefficient, and totally inadequate to the purpose for which such tax is levied. The recorded experience of reliable men in ali rural districts in this country-in some cases covering a period of more than two hundred years of the defects of this system, is suficient eri. dence that reform is greatly needed.
Although the amount of statistical information obtained in answer to the circulars issued from this Department is far short of what was antici. pated, we are enabled from the data furnished to arrive at many important facts, that will serve as guides to those specially interested in the construction and repair of roads. It was hoped that the returns would be so full and explicit that a complete tabular report could have been compiled in accordance with the questions propounded.
The unsettled condition of many of the southern States since the close of the war has been such that few repairs of bridges or roads have been made, and probably few will be undertaken until reconstruction is thoroughly effected.
A report from Florida says: “No road laws, no bridges; streams are crossed by ferries, fording, or swimming."
P. T. Tannehill, of Henderson County, Texas, says: “Our roads are not worked, the wagoner making his own way. Soil remarkably favorable for roads. No macadamizing material in the State, none needed. Road laws in this magnificent State, like other laws, seldom executed. No turnpikes; don't need them. Roads last until they become too miry, when wagoners cut a new one. Texas can boast of the best roads, with the least work, of any State in or out of the Union. Our citizens gen. erally regard work as unconstitutional."
E. S. Holden, of Stockton, San Joaquin County, California, writes that “the general character of public roads throughout the State, during wet seasons, is bad; in January and February, almost impassable. Necessity has stimulated the people to construct good and durable roads and turnpikes, and quite a number of pikes, from two to thirty miles in length each, have been finished, or are in process of construction. Those col. structed will be passable at all seasons of the year. They are made by