We pursued our insidious foe from tree to tree with the shears, and beheaded him with great slaughter. But, alas! it was only a realization of the old nursery sneer, about cutting off your nose to spite youi face, for when we had decapitated the worm, we left a headless tree to serve as his monument, and, in some cases, the wretched little monster compelled the destruction of three years' slow growth.
The parent of the worm, being a fly of ambition and taste, invariably picked out the biggest and showiest of the poor little struggling trees to lay her eggs in, so that after the day of judgment was over, and the ins(ect)urrection crushed, our pride was crushed with it, for the borer, not being, alack! the baseless fabric of a vision, left an awful wrack behind, both of our Pines and our vainglory.
Small comfort do we find in the assurance that the Pines will be none the worse for topping, for, with a life and trees so short as ours, "a few years " are not to be lightly regarded, and the poor hill had precious little good looks to lose, and has been waiting for its beauty already quite long enough. Moreover, what assurance can we have that every summer will not bring with it fresh devastation? It takes a year or two for insects to find you out; but their first call is never their last. If the borers have intelligence of the existence of Pines on "Doctor's Hill," they will come again as sure as the tax-collector, and new woes are in store for us from their visitations.
Moved by that desire to find consolation in our neighbor's ills, to which La Rochefoucauld cynically alludes, we go about spying at the tops of other people's evergreens, and find that this is the borer's year. Driving, a few days since, in a neighboring village, I saw, with concern, a long row of tall Norway Spruces at least forty feet high, that inclose a public garden, all suffering from the attacks of our fell marauder. Luckily, their tops will hardly be missed, while ours - Wae 's me! as Carlyle would moan.
Now the question arises, Is there any prevention as well as cure for this infliction? Is there any application obnoxious to the borer's mamma that can be put where she would lay her eggs, and so induce her to move on? Has she any avowed distaste for whale-oil soap, or coal-tar, or kerosene emulsion, or any other unpleasant odor? And if there is such a deterrent, where should it be applied - on the very top of the leader, or at the place where the new shoots start from tne old year's growth?
When a person sets out to plant a tree or two he scarcely bargains for having the study of entomology thrown in, with a course of chemistry into the bargain, not to mention toxicology, and the trade of wholesale murder, until he might as well begin the career of gardener by serving an apprenticeship to the Czar of Russia. I am horrified by the bloodthirstiness developed by this seemingly innocent diversion j still, this but confirms the view of pleasures before quoted. Indeed I am not sure but there is an opening for an essay on the Dangerous Moral Tendencies of Gardening. The only objection to it is, that if the Legislature of Massachusetts got wind of such a thing it would pass a law which might prove inconvenient. There are advantages in having your morals legislated about by a paternal, not to sav nuritanically paternal, government, re drawbacks also one does not always wish to be virtuous by act of Parliament. Still, if the legislation can be brought to bear upon worms, we will not complain.
An eminent Philadelphia physician, visiting Boston, was struck with an inscription in the Public Garden, " Dogs forbidden to swim in this pond on Sunday," and remarked that he knew that education had been carried to an advanced stage in Massachusetts, but he had not learned before that even the dogs had been taught to read! How delighted we should be to learn that the gypsy moth has been warned off by the General Court. So far we of the South Shore have been left to cope, somewhat ineffectively, I admit, with our own insects, but if the famous moth finds us out we may expect the government myrmidons at its heels, and let us hope that they will carry the web-worms with them. But a commission ramping about the fields, even for so praiseworthy a purpose, has its terrors.