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Ants on the march

Sometimes slower news cycles forced editors to include stories that were less-exciting as filler. In the recently digitized Saturday August 6th, 1831 issue of the thrice weekly Waterford Chronicle, the editors deployed this bit of text to pad page 4 (notice the non-standard spelling and location name – even in printed works in the 1830s spelling lacked standardization):

“The walls and floor of my appartment (at Buenes Ayres,) says Sir Edmond Temple, were nearly covered with what at first gave me considerable alarm; but having been assured that I should not be molested, I took courage, and found that I was not deceived. This was a colony of ants, which had their settlement in one of the beams of the roof, and having several roads to it, they were spread in divisions of millions over the room, but always preserved the nicest order and regularity in their ranks. Day and night their industry was unceasing; I never found the least inconvenience from them, but often much amusement in observing their curious labours. Sweets seemed to be their great allurement, for the sugar bowl every morning was found to be in their entire possession and to dislodge them was no easy task. Perhaps no house in Buenos Ayres is altogether free from them.”

Sir Edmond Temple was a colorful figure, according to Jason Colavito, he was “a knight of the Spanish Order of Charles III, traveled to Peru in 1825 in search of riches and spent two years not finding them. While traveling, he learned of the discovery of a “giant’s” skeleton near Tarija in Bolivia, and efforts by the corporation to which Temple belonged to sell the bones for profit.”

More information about this expedition, and the wit of Sir Edmond, can be found in his Travels in Various Parts of Peru, (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1830). [Internet Archive fulltext]


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Last Modified: July 7, 2016