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Yankee accompaniments of spring.

The Spring has come again, and with it the usual accompaniments of spring in these times. The singing of birds and the beauties of buds and blossoms are not the only symptoms of the opening of a more genial season. The nasal utterances of the Yankees emerging from their suspended animation of the winter, mingle with the more musical cadences of the frogs, and the equinox is a signal for storms in both earth and heaven. The spring, the harbinger of Life to universal nature, has become in Virginia the harbinger of death. The season that elsewhere renews the faded face of the earth here indents it with furrows in which the bodies of human beings and of Yankees are promiscuously planted, there to slumber till the trumpet of resurrection shall summon the just and the unjust to their last account. In fact there is no feature of the Southern spring more uniform then the blue coat vegetation, and at a certain period Lee and other stalwart husbandmen, have to go out and cut down, and thresh and gather in to the Libby and other storehouses just as regularly and inevitably as our farmers gather in the fruits of the earth.

It is hardly respectful, however, to the fruits of the earth to indulge such comparison. Nor do we mean to say that the Yankees in any respect resemble the productions of our soil except that they always appear in the spring and disappear in the harvest time. They may be classed more properly with those destructive insects which inflict such injury on agriculture, and often ruin the grain crops. They are caterpillars, grubs, hessian flies, maggots, and wheat midges combined. In Virginia they may be likened to joint worms, being in the larva state during the winter, assuming the pup condition in March, and boring their way into complete daylight and activity with the warm weather. In the cotton States they play the part of blister flies, leaf beetles, boll worms, and cotton lice. This last insect more accurately describes the nature and habitue of the enemy than any other known to entomology. In color it is in some instances black, but oftener resembles a Yankee greenback. The end of its whole existence is to rob the Southern planter of his great staple, which is also the entire end and aim of Yankeedom. But it has various obstacles which interfere with its predatory purposes, and among them is a kind of miscegenation process, which is sure to bring it to grief. Another insect, called the ichneumon, lays an egg in the body of the louse, which, hatching into a grub, devours the inside of the still living insect, until it eventually dies, clinging to the leaf even in death, and the ichneumon makes its appearance from the old skin of the louse. It is but just to the cotton louse to admit that, unlike the Yankee, this kind of amalgamation is not voluntary on his part. Let us be thankful that the human pests of our agriculture have their enemies as well as the insects, and that they have welcomed to their embrace, in the beastliness of miscegenation, an ichneumon, which will eat them up alive, and hatch a progeny that will continue to devour and destroy their race.

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Robert E. Lee (1)
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