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Philippine Islands and the Moluccas are full of them. Many of the islands themselves are of volcanic origin. Buffon, indeed, and some other philosophers have accounted for the existence of islands by supposing a violent convulsion of nature, which submerged a vast continent, and left the tops of the mountains projecting above the surface of the waters; those mountain tops thus constituting the islands now found there; and Malte-Brun, following out the same idea, calls them “the magnificent fragments of a former world, scattered over the mighty ocean."
However just this hypothesis may be in respect to some of the islands, it is most certain, that others are formed by a different process; that is, not by the disappearance of portions of land already existing, but by the actual formation of new land in places where all was ocean before. All over the tropical regions of the Pacific ocean the coral animal is still incessantly employed in forming numberless islands and in rearing piles of building, as a late British writer justly observes, “far loftier and doubtless far more durable than the pyramids of Egypt, in the midst of the fathomless sea.”2 These minute animals, as naturalists inform us, pursue their. gigantic labours with that unerring sagacity, which is the peculiar attribute of what we call instinct. It is said that they cannot work above water; and, as they chiefly inhabit an ocean where the wind generally blows from one quarter, they raise their structure in a perpendicular direction on the windward side, so that, when they approach the surface of the water where the rolling of the ocean would at times leave them naked, the waves are thus broken, and they can continue their labours to the leeward without any embarrassment. After the windward side has been protected, the next part raised to the surface of the ocean is at some distance to the leeward. The whole, when first seen, consists of a chain of detached rocks usually placed in a circular form, including an area which is often of several hundred feet in diameter. In the progress of the work, the intermediate parts, whether circular or straight, are gradually filled up; so that on the outside the walls are perpendicular and the water deep; but within, the water grows deeper from the margin towards the centre, producing a solid mass of rock, the upper part of which is in the form of a basin. This cavity is at first a kind of salt lake, but is gradually filled up by the animals, until finally the sea is so far excluded, that during calm weather the rain freshens the water in it, and thus at once end the labour and the lives of these industrious little animals.
1 Malte-Brun's Geogr.
It is easy to perceive how the islands thus formed will, in the course of time, be covered with vegetation. The sea, casting sand and slime on the top of these rocks, raises their surfaces above their level; the seeds of plants are known to float thousands of miles and still retain their vegetative powers; and these seeds, taking root in the crevices of the rocks, produce plants, which, in their turn, by annual decay, together with the decomposed coral, soon furnish a soil for others. By a process of this kind, these new islands are gradually supplied with the cocoa nut tree and other valuable products for the sustenance of those hapless natives, who are so often driven to them from the other islands in their frail canoes, which become the sport of the same winds and waves that have already drifted the fruits of the earth before them for their reception..
We ought not to omit adding, that if the formation of this class of islands were not now well ascertained, -yet- many of them are so far from having the appearance of any thing like the sloping sides of mountains on land; that they are perpendicular elevations, with bold shores, and water of the deepest blue surrounding them on all sides. The little island which we have before mentioned, (Lord North's,) though scarcely more than three quarters of a mile long and half a mile in width, stands, if we migħt use the comparison, like a tower or monument, just raising its head' a few feet above:the surface of boundless waters, alone, in sight of no other land, with its coral reef encircling it like a diadem, and washed on all sides by the ocean, of darkest blue, and in which the sounding lead of the mariner
-“Drops plumb down
Ten thousand fathom deep.” 1 Of all the countries in this vast region of the globe, it has been justly observed, that the greater part remains, to the present day, unchanged by the hand of man, and clothed with the native perennial verdure of the innumerable forest trees and other vegetable productions which the Creator originally bestowed upon them. The animal kingdom is hardly less various than the vegetable; and it has been remarked as a fact particularly worthy of notice, that in the tropical parts of the Oceanic region the larger quadrupeds are found only in the larger islands; and that the smaller quadrupeds are comparatively few. The elephant, for example, is known only on the Peninsula, Sumatra, and a small district of the northeast part of Borneo; the tiger is not found in any of the smaller islands, even when tuese are near to larger ones which abound with that animal; ard
* Paradise Lost, b. ii. 933. VOL. XX.--NO. 39. 2
this, and other animals of the same tribe, though numerous in the larger islands to the westward, disappear as we go eastward. In Australia proper we find that phenomenon of quadrupeds, the kangaroo, which is the largest of this region, and at the same time has the particular form which in other parts of the globe nature has given to the smallest race of quadrupeds—the rat and the dormouse; here also we ve the no less extraordinary flying phalangers, ornithorynchi, and other anomalies, which, as Cuvier observes, have been found to astonish naturalists by their strange conformation, which broke through all rules and overthrew all systems ! The varieties of the monkey tribe in the Oceanic region, generally, are wonderful, and almost all differing from the species of that family in the other quarters of the world; the ourang-outang, however, apparently the least intelligent of the race, though so strongly resembling man in form, seems to be confined to two spots, Borneo and Sumatra. The birds present no less remarkable features than the quadrupeds; their varieties, singularity of form, and splendour of plumage, are unrivalled; and there is among them a vast proportion of suctorial birds, or such as derive their principal support from sucking the nectar of flowers. This peculiar organization, which in Africa, India, and America, is restricted to the smallest birds, is here given to species as large as any of the thrushes. Fish of various kinds are found in this region; but it is worthy of notice, that the cod, herring, and salmon are unknown. This abundance of fish has rendered the occupation of the fishing life the common condition of the inhabitants.
These general remarks must be taken with many limitations, so far as respects some parts of the Oceanic region. In the Pacific or South Sea Islands the quadrupeds are very few, and those'small; the large ones found there at this day are carried from other countries. Bougainville and Cook found on them, generally, only a small species of hogs with long heads and small erect ears, dogs, lizards, and an animal larger than a mouse but smaller than a rat. No noxious or poisonous reptiles are found there, except centipedes, which, however, are neither large nor numerous.
We shall detain the reader but a moment longer on this branch of our subject, to mention a singular fact in relation to the tides in the Pacific ocean; and we do this, in order to draw
Cuvier's Revolutions of the Globe, p. 41, Amer. ed. şi the Lardner's Cabinet Cycloped. vol. 66, Nat. Hist.; Cuvier's Revoluulons of the Globe; Foreign Quart. Rev. for 1834; Ellis's Tour through Hawaii (Owhyhee); Ěncycloped. Americana, Art. Australia, &c. for further particulars respecting the natural history of these islands.
the attention both of practical navigators and philosophical observers.
It is stated by the intelligent Mr. Ellis, the missionary, who resided several years in Tahiti (Otaheite) and the Sandwich Islands, that the rising and falling of the tides, (in the South Sea Islands,) if influenced at all by the moon, appear to be so only in a very small degree. “The height,” says he, “ to which the tide rises, varies but a few inches during the whole year; and at no time is it elevated more than a foot or a foot and a half. The sea, however, often rises to an unusual height; but this appears to be the effect of a strong wind blowing for some time from one quarter, or the heavy swells of the sea, which flow from different directions and prevail equally during the time of high and low water. During the year, whatever be the age or situation of the moon, the water is lowest at six in the morning and the same hour in the evening, and highest at noon and midnight. This is so well established, that the time of night is marked by the ebbing and flowing of the tide; and in all the islands the term for highwater and for midnight is the same. The same thing is stated by Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet, in their Journal of Voyages and Travels: “It is generally known," they observe, “but may be repeated here, in connection with the aforementioned periodical but irregular inundations of the sea, that the tides throughout the Pacific ocean do not appear to obey the influence of the moon in the slightest degree. It is always high water about twelve, and low about six o'clock, day and night." The fact has also been noticed by a few British navigators. Captain Beechey, after describing the harbour of Papiete and some others on the north side of Otaheite, says--"It is generally high water at half an hour after noon every day, and low water at six in the morning;" at the same time he observes, in language which might mislead the reader if not understood with some qualifications—that the tides in all these harbours (of Otaheite) are very irregular." These irregulari
Polynesian Researches, by the Rev. W. Ellis, vol. i., p. 28. 3 Tyerman and Bennet's Journal, vol. ii., p. 225, Amer. edit.
Beechey's Voyage to the Pacific and Beering's Strait, vol. ii., Appendix, p. 648, London edit. 1831. We should apprise all those persons who read voyages and travels for the sake of acquiring knowledge, and not merely to beguile an idle hour, that they will look in vain in the American reprint of Beechey's Voyage, for this and many other important facts; they are contained in an "Appendix” of 150 quarto pages, the whole of which, beside twenty-one plates and three charts, is suppressed in the American edition, and without any notice to the reader (that we have observed) of this mutilation of the original work! That Appendix contains-an account of Fossil Remains in the Arctic Regions-The habits of Mexican Bees—Vocabulary, of the Western Esquimaux-Nautical Remarks-Geographical Position of Places
ties are, doubtless, what Messrs. Tyerman and Bennet call “irregular inundations" of the sea, which, according to Mr. Ellis, are occasioned by the strong winds blowing for some time from one quarter, or the heavy swells of the sea coming from various directions. The fact is also confirmed by an intelligent correspondent in Professor Silliman's Journal of Science, (Mr. John Ball, of Troy, New York,) who states, that during his three weeks' stay at Tahiti the tide was observed to rise about one foot, and always highest at twelve o'clock noon and midnight; and, he adds, “I was informed that this is always
Another writer, whose remarks are republished in that Journal (from that of the Franklin Institute), adds to the testimony on this point the following—that Professor Whewell states, that Lieutenant Malden, who accompanied Lord Byron on his voyage to the Sandwich Islands in the British ship Blonde, in 1824-25,'' gives a similar account of the tides at Owhyhee.” But the language of Lieutenant Malden is, that “the tide was observed to rise about four feet, and to be high water at sunset and low water at daylight, being influenced by the sea and land breezes. This regularity would probably not take place in the winter months, when they do not prevail."2. This statement can
Meteorological Observations-On the Aurora Borealis—Specific Gravity of the Surface of the Sea-Temperature of the Sea at Different Depths -Dip and Intensity of the Magnetic Force-Variation of the Compass. All this important information is withheld from scientific readers, in order to make a book cheap enough to suit the general market. If, however, we have not national pride enough to encourage good editions of valuable works, we cannot blame the booksellers. A similar mutilation was made several years ago in the American reprint of Capt. Hall's Loo Choo Islands.
* American Journal of Science, vol. xxviii., p. 8. We stop to make a single remark here, to show how difficult a matter it is, in the investigation of facts, even to quote an author correctly. A correspondent, cited in the same Journal, (vol. 28, p. 312,) says—"Mr. Whewell quotes the observation of Capt. Beechey, that at Papiate, one of the Society Islands, it is high water every day at half an hour before noon,” &c. Here are two errors: 1. Captain Beechey says half an hour after noon; and 2. Papiate is not one of the islands, but a harbour in one of them, (Otaheite) as above stated in the text.
Byron's Voyage of H. M. Ship Blonde, Appendix, p. 256, Lond. edit. 1826. We quote this statement from a paper, published in the Appendix to the Voyage of the Blonde, purporting to be an “ Extract from Lieut. Malden's Official Account of the Sandwich Islands." Whether the “extracı” is faithfully made or not, we have no means of determining; the “Voyage” itself is unworthy of confidence in many particulars.
and wretched volume is not the work of Lord Byron, but is made up from disjointed scraps and notes of different individuals, and published without a responsible name; and is, it seems, the work of a Mrs. Graham, to whom, unaccountable as it may appear, the task was assigned of preparing the narrative of a voyage performed in a public