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considerable. In 'sixty-seven the early sellers
made ten guineas per hundredweight, but the
price rapidly fell to five pounds, and later sales
were made at three pounds. Two hundred
pounds per acre would be the return from one
garden; and over the hedge, or across the river,
twenty or twenty-five poundsless than the
cost of cultivation. These contrasts often
occur, and constitute the excitement of hop-
growingbut it is a lottery in which the good
farmer must win in the end, and in which skill,
though it may now and then be baffled, is in
the long run well rewarded.


THERE are about thirty species of seals at
present known to naturalists; but of these not
one half are "fur seals." The "hair seals" are,
however, hunted for their blubber and hides,
out of which leather is made; they are only
found in northern latitudes, while the fur seals
are confined to the southern regions and to the
North Pacific: no species yielding valuable fur
skins being found in the Atlantic, or on the
shores of the Northern hemisphere. There
are, therefore, a Northern and a Southern seal
fishery, so called; but in reality the seal, though
living in the sea so far as is necessary to obtain
its food, is not a fish, but a warm-blooded suck-
giving animal, belonging to the order Pinnipedia,
or oar-footed mammals, and passes the
greater portion of its time sleeping on the
shore or on the ice-fields. The seals also
inhabit the southern coasts of Europe and the
British islands; but it is only in high northern
latitudes, among the ice-fields of Newfoundland,
Spitzbergen, and Greenland, that they
are found in sufficient quantities to render
their pursuit profitable. In the Spitzbergen,
or, as it is sometimes erroneously called, the
"Greenland seal fishery," the seals which
form the quarry of the sealer are chiefly four
speciesthe ground seal; the saddleback,
or harp seal, from the saddle or harp-shaped
marking on the backs of the adult male; the
bladder-nosed seal, or klapmutz of the
Continental sealers, so called from the inflated
bladder or cap on its forehead; and the floe rat,
the smallest species of seal in the Arctic seas.
Spring is the time when the pursuit of these
seals is followed, because at that time the seals
assemble in incredible numbers on the great
ice-floes, which have not as yet broken up in
the Arctic seas, to produce their young. The
young of the seal is generally of a creamy
coloured white, and is particularly fat, and his
skin, though small, is covered with a thick
coating of hair. For fourteen or twenty days
after birth they are unable to swim; and it
often happens that seals of this age are blown
off the floes by the spring gales, and drowned.
The sealer, therefore, endeavours to reach the
North Sea before they have taken the water;
for then the helpless young fall an easy prey to
the hunters.

Now-a-days there are few whalers sailing
from British ports, and most of these are
steamers belonging to Dundee, Hull, Kirkcaldy,
Peterhead, or Aberdeen. Nearly all of
these vessels, since the failure of the whale
fishery on the east side of Davis Strait (to
which inlet whaling is now almost entirely
confined), make a preliminary trip to the seal
fishery; and those vessels which pursue the
Spitzbergen whaling do so as a matter of necessity,
because they are unable to penetrate to
the more northern haunts of the whale until
the ice barrier breaks up later in the season.
There are also a number of German, Norwegian,
and Dutch ships engaged in the seal
fishery; all being comprehended by the non-
political British seamen under the generic name
of "Dutchmen." The French had at one time
a few ships; but of late years they have
abandoned the enterprise. The "Dutchmen"
sail directly for the "sealing ground;" but the
British ships rendezvous towards the end of
February and the first days of March, in Bressa
Sound, off Lerwick, in Shetland, the most
northern town in Her Majesty's dominions. As
most of the seamen are drunk before starting,
this halt is looked upon as a convenient stoppage
to put all in order before encountering the
tempestuous North Sea. Here are bought fresh
stores of fish, fowls, and eggs at a very low
price, vegetables, leather "sealing caps," and
the numerous articles of Shetland hosiery,
comforters, mits, guernseys, &c. Here also arrive
from the Nor' Isles stalwart fellows, with very
big sea-chests, and a small stock of clothing,
to be taken on as "green hands" to assist in
the sealing. They are shrewd lazy customers,
little liked by the regular hands, and poorly-
paid, and kicked about briskly; but they,
nevertheless, come in such numbers that there
is generally little difficulty for each ship, in
ten days or a fortnight, to make up its
complement of men to from forty to seventy.
Lerwick is then quite alive. It is the annual
holiday of the old Scandinavian-looking village,
which for the rest of the year stagnates in more
than Shetland dulness. The crooked, narrow
streets are alive with hundreds of seamen, who
are always, more or less, under the influence of
rum, though there is not, or was not, at the
time of our visit, a single licensed house in the
whole village. But the people are hospitable,
and half-a-crown will go as far in producing
from private stores bottles of ardent spirits, as
anywhere else in the world. The boatmen and
fishermen seem to keep open house, and vie with
each other in showing kindness to and in making
a harvest out of the sealers. At last, one by
one, cheered in turn by the other vessels of the
fleet, and by a demoniacal yell from a crowd
of boys, and girls decked with caps and ribbons,
at the landings, the vessels sail out of
the Sound, and soon lose sight of Shetland.
High seas generally prevail in these latitudes
so early in the year; but if you are in a steamer
it will not last long; in about a week little bits
of oozy-looking ice, tossing about on the crests
of the waves, will tell that you are approaching
the scene of your labours. In a few days more