The Silk Industry
by others hatched out daily. I was enabled to exhibit worms all through from hatching out, daily also, until ready to spin (make their cocoons). Then with help of numbers of worms and cocoons received on the morning of the show from Booral, I exhibited a large number climbing into bushes place for them and making their cocoons. Moths also at same time were viewed as they emerged day after day from older cocoons and proceeded to lay their eggs. Thus completing an exhibition showing at one view every stage in the life history of the mulberry silkworm, from the time of its birth, just hatched, come out of its shell (the egg) to the mother moth again, laying the eggs for a future year. Such a complete exhibit of silkworms as this had certainly never before been seen at any public show nor in any other part of the world.
"A remarkable feature about these exhibits was that, notwithstanding the extraordinary disadvantages and vicissitudes to which the worms were exposed, such as heat (as high as 88o Fah., and probably more), cold (as low as 53o), sudden changes in temperature, foul air, dust, travelling packed closely in cases, &c., &c., they went on working day and night without the slightest apparent injury, thus proving how wonderfully healthy and strong worms properly reared in this Colony are. Several Italian and French gentlemen, who had had extensive experience of silk culture in Europe, said they could not understand how worms could be so vigorous and healthy, for in their own countries they had to take great precautions to prevent sudden changes in temperature, exposure to draughts, &c., or the whole of their stock would be carried off.
" A general opinion freely expressed by people who professed to understand about silkworms was that the labour required to manage a large number would be too costly to allow of any profit, but on questioning them I found their ideas and 'experience' were gained by keeping a few dozen or a few hundred worms in very primitive style. On my explaining and showing how easily a few hundred thousand could be fed and managed their eyes were opened. Many people told me they had learned more in five or ten minutes' chat with me and seeing the worms than they could gather from books in as many months.
"A number of Bathurst gentlemen who were present strongly urged that the Department of Agriculture should send the exhibit to the Show to be held in that city on 11th, 12th, 13th April. The Department complying with their request, I accordingly left on the 9th, taking an exhibit similar to that show in Sydney, with the addition of two fine samples of silk which had been 'grown and reeled' at New Italy. The whole of the insects, to the great astonishment of the spectators, had travelled during the day and night about 280 miles from Booral, and arrived in perfect condition. As was the case in Sydney, the worms proved one of the greatest attractions. Mr. Williams, local Secretary to the Women's Silk-growing Association, and an enthusiast, gave me every assistance, working hard, and relieving me greatly in a portion of my duties, which here, as also in Sydney, required constant attention early as well as late.
"The next occasion at which the Government silkworms were exhibited was at the Chrysanthemum Show of the United Horticultural Societies, in the Town Hall, Sydney, on 19th, 20th, 21st April. The exhibits were similar to those at Bathurst, and the worms recently from Booral again travelled, without loss or injury, to Sydney. What an attraction the worms were, and the interest they aroused on the subject of silk-growing, was very pronounced. The Government House party, including Miss Ottmann, warmly praised the show, the latter lady expressing her opinion that similar