From the Vineyard Gazette editions of October, 1846:
Place a bone across a pork rind, and you have “Bony part crossing the Rhine.” This is termed “Illustrated History.”
The sword-fish is an exceedingly strong fish, from six to sixteen feet in length. It derives its name from the nose, about three feet in length, and similar to a dull, two-edged sword. With this weapon it has no scruples, when irritated, at piercing the side of a ship or whale, or breaking up a boat. It is taken with a harpoon, and there is just enough of peril in the sport to be exciting. The striker takes his stand on a platform run over the bows of the boat, where he can see the fellow just below the surface of the water. When hit, the fish runs immediately to windward, and will run a league before exhausted, dragging the boat after him in the most obliging manner. When several are about, and one is fairly hit, the line of the harpoon is fastened to an empty barrel, water-tight and painted black, and thrown overboard. This retards the velocity of the race and affords a clue to the whereabouts of the exhausted animal, while the crew can be pursuing another. The sword-fish is barreled up for the market. If you have an inkling after this kind of miniature whaling, the Vineyard boatmen will give you an opportunity to indulge it, in its season.
Or perhaps you have a grudge against the shark family. Well, you can indulge that too, to your heart’s content, if you will visit their haunts. The Vineyard grey sharks can show quite a formidable row of ivory, and are not very pleasant companions, especially if you are after a school of blue-fish, as we once experienced, projecting their shovel-noses out of the water and not hesitating to take a bait, line and all, intended for others. Grey sharks are caught with a baited hook, attached to a fathom of chain, and lying on the bottom. When it is decided that they shall come up, instead of the fisherman’s going down, they are killed alongside, with a short oaken club. One well directed blow of the muntle on their proboscis destroys them, bad luck to the gourmands.
If your visitor wishes to stand as a living specimen of Dean Swift’s definition of angling,” — A stick and a string, with a worm at one end and a fool at the other,” — and be dextrously tapped by mammoth moschetos, let him go “a perching.” In this interesting position I will leave him and this branch of the subject together.
Improvement seems to be the order of the day. It is sought in every department intended to subserve either interest or pleasure. Perhaps in none is the inventive genius of the age more successful than in the modes of travelling and the means of communication. To say nothing of steamboats and air-balloons, let us confine our thoughts for a few moments to the subject of Rail-Roads. Within a very few years an entire revolution has been brought about in the internal transit in our land. Rail-Roads have been stretching their iron arms in every direction throughout the length and breadth of our country, and ere long will enter the untrodden wilds of Oregon. A mighty power has thus been put in operation, to arouse within our country what was inert; to bring into play for the use of her citizens, the dormant moral and physical wealth lying unused over so much of her surface; and this it has accomplished by the annihilation of the obstacle of distance.
The time for sluggishness is about being gone. Skill and machinery will assist the industrious wherever he works, in whatever profession, in any part of our land.
In all human probability, judging from the present indomitable enterprize of our citizens, the years will be comparatively but few, before the abrupt steeps of the Rocky mountains will afford no impassable barrier. New England will be brought into neighborhood with the new-formed States and Territories bordering on the Columbia river and the Pacific Ocean, and through them a short Western communication will be opened with the Japanese and Chinese empires. Although the effect of Railways upon Canal property is quite disastrous, yet the superior advantages of the former are such as to promote the good of the great whole, in much greater proportion than the speed of the rail-car exceeds that of a transportation canal boat. But touching upon the matter of speed in the means of transit, who can tell what powers will yet be employed to accelerate that of the railroad car? Or how fast we shall go when we run, or rather fly in air-cars? Or perhaps be shot through the airy heavens from Boston to New Orleans by the power of electricity? Let not our readers turn pale at such a thought. For is not the electro-magnetic telegraph, which was discovered a few years since, quite as much a subject of wonder to the civilized world, as the realization of the use of carriages propelled by electricity may be fifty years hence, if the present march of improvement and of discovery continue?
Compiled by Hilary Wall