Page images

Anglers to deem them a distinct Species, to which they have given the name of the Peacock worm.

In great droughts, when these worms do not approach the surface, or come from their holes, they may be sometimes tempted to do so, by pouring plenty of water on the ground where they used to be most seen. The juice of walnut leaves, mixed with water and a little salt, poured into their holes, as also the juice of green hemp, will, it is said, force them out; but they are so nauseous to the worms that most of them die.

A Three-prong dung-fork thrust into the ground, and continually moving it, will force all the worms within a certain distance to come instantly out of their holes, supposing, from the shaking of the Earth, it is the Mole's heaving to come at them.

Mr. WHITE, in speaking of Earth-worms, remarks, "that they make their casts most about March or April in mild weather; they do not lie torpid in Winter, but come forth when there is no frost; in rainy nights they travel about, as appears from their sinuous tracts on the soft muddy soil, perhaps in search of food. When Earth-worms appear at night on the turf, although they considerably extend their bodies, they do not quite leave their holes, but keep the ends of their tails fixed therein, so that on the least alarm they can precipitately retire under the earth. Whatever food falls within their reach when thus extended, such as blades of grass, straws, fallen leaves, (the ends of which are often drawn into their holes,) they seem to be content with; even in copulation their hinder parts never quit

their holes, so that, except they lie within reach of each other's bodies, no two worms can have any commerce of that kind, but as every individual is an Hermaphrodite, the difficulty in meeting with a mate of a different sex is removed; they are much addicted to Venery, and very prolific.

"Lands, continues Mr. W. that are subject to frequent inundations are always poor, and probably from the worms being drowned. The most insignificant Insects and Reptiles have more influence in the Economy of Nature, than the incurious are aware of, and are mighty in their effect, as well from their minuteness, which renders them less an object of attention, as from their numbers and fecundity. Earth-worms, though in appearance a small and despicable Link, yet, if lost, would make a lamentable chasm in the Chain of Nature; for to say nothing of half the Birds, and some Quadrupeds, which are almost entirely supported by them, Worms seem to be great promoters of Vegetation, by perforating and loosening the Soil, and rendering it pervious to rains and the fibres of plants, by drawing straws and stalks of leaves and twigs into it; and most of all, by throwing up such infinite numbers of earthy lumps, called Worm-casts, which being their excrement, is a fine manure for grain and grass. Worms affect slopes to avoid being flooded, and probably provide new soil for hills and slopes, when the rain washes the earth away. Gardeners and Farmers express their detestation of Worms; the former, because they render their walks unsightly, and make them much work; the latter, be

cause they think Worms eat their green corn; but these Men would find that the earth without worms, would soon become cold, hard-bound, void of fermentation, and consequently sterile; besides, in favour of Worms it should be added, that green corn, plants, and flowers, are not so much injured by them, as by many species of Beetles and Long-legs in their Grub state, and by unnoticed myriads of small Slugs, which silently and imperceptibly spread devastation, both in the Garden and in the Field.”

The BRANDLING-worm is streaked from head to tail in alternate red and yellow circles, is dark at the head, becoming gradually paler towards the tail. Brandlings are found in old dunghills, which consist of hogs and horses dung, and rotten earth; also in old thatch and dung, in grass mown from garden walks after it hás lain some time; but those which are found in Tanners bark after being used and laid by until quite rotten, are the best, and may generally be used without any scouring: when Brandlings are kept in moss, like the Lob-worm, they should be fed by dropping a little cream, about a spoonful a day, upon the moss; it will prevent their swelling at the knot near their middle, which when it takes place, usually kills them. With some Anglers it is a rule not to use these worms and the Gilt-tail, until they have been in moss two days, nor after they have continued in it more than ten.

Dunghill RED-worms are small and knotted, of a bright red, and are to be found in almost every heap of horse dung that has much straw rotted in it. Cow-dung Red-worms are found in the fields, and in

nearly dry flakes of dung; their heads are shining dark brown, with flat tails; are good baits, and may occasionally be used when taken, but are best scoured and preserved like other worms.

GILT-TAILS are paler and larger than the last mentioned worms, are knotted like them, and of a pale yellow, especially towards the tail. Mr. GAY, in his Rural Sports, expresses his approbation of this sort of worm, in the following lines.

You must not ev'ry Worm promiscuous use,
Judgment will tell the proper baits to choose;
The Worm that draws a long immod'rate size,
The Trout abhors, and the rank morsel flies;
And if too small, the naked fraud's in sight,
And fear forbids, while hunger does invite.
Those baits will best reward the fisher's pains,
Whose polish'd tails a shining yellow stains:
Cleanse them from filth, to'give a tempting gloss,
Cherish the sullied reptile race with moss;
Amid the verdant bed they twine, they toil,

And from their bodies wipe their native soil.

The RED-worm, found in all loamy soils, may be collected by following a plough, turning up garden soil, and under boards, bricks, slates, tiles, stones, &c. that have lain undisturbed for any time; these four worms may be preserved together in one pot, and when the Brandlings or others are meant to be used, let the Angler, the Evening before, pick them out by themselves, and put them into a bag, with moss moistened with sweet thinnish Cream, and they will appear more bright and tempting to the fish.

WHITE OF MARL-worms are found chiefly in Marl

or Clay land by following the plough, and also in turnip fields, where the soil is of a stiffish quality; the head is very small, and of a pale red, they are larger than the Brandling, and naturally tough, are a good bait, especially in muddy water, may be preserved in some of their own Earth, keeping it properly damp, with some moss at top, and when scoured are of a pale white.

The MARSH-Worms are middle-sized and knotted, of a blueish cast and tender; are to be found in the rich banks of rivers, and in marshy ground, wherein they are usually got by treading the ground, when it is moist, much backwards and forwards, or in circles, with both feet close together: they require more scouring in moss than most other worms, at least fifteen days, but are very lively good baits.

The TAG-TAIL is a worm of a pale flesh colour, with a yellow tag, almost half an inch long on his tail; it is found in marled lands or meadows after a shower, or in a morning, in calm and not cold weather, in March or April. In discoloured water by rain, it is considered a fatal bait for Trout, they will not endure long scouring.

GENTLES may be procured almost at any time at the Tallow-chandlers, and should be kept in oatmeal and bran, as Bran by itself is too dry. Those who live in or near London may buy them in proper condition for the day on which they wish to use them, but for the accommodation of those who reside in the Country remote from such convenience, the best modes of breeding them will be here mentioned, in order to prevent disappointments.

« PreviousContinue »