« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
larity of their appearance and the mode left dry at low water. When this has of their origin. The coral-forming attained any height, the sun dries the polypi are animals of a low order of sand at low tide, and the winds then organisation, not differing greatly in help to drift it and pile it up still higher structure from the fresh water polyp, above the waves, till at last we get a or hydra, to be found in abundance little islet permanently above even during the summer in our pools and high water mark, that becomes the ditches. The principal difference is in home of the sea-bird and the haunt of the faculty which they possess of se- the turtle. Driftwood is now and creting and depositing carbonate of then thrown up on it, with plants from lime in the minute cells and interstices some distant shore, still bearing about of their own tissues, so that their bodies them, either in seed or root, the essence consist of a solid framework, with a of vitality. A low, trailing, scrubby soft gelatinous sort of covering. They vegetation is thus gradually, comlive, moreover, in communities, not menced, which, united with the merely associated, but coalesced, indi- "guano” of the birds and animals, forms viduals growing out of each other as a soil for any nobler individual of the buds grow out of trees, and all uniting vegetable kingdom, the germs of which to form a common body, having a cer- may happen to be cast there. This tain irregular but definite form and little islet thus, Venus-like, sprung size, so that the different corals may be from the sea, is continually added to known by the external appearance of by the continued action of its parent, their masses, just as trees are.
and ultimately, perhaps, coalesces with It is sometimes said that coral ani- others of similar origin, resting on the mals are worms, and that they build the same mass of reef. In time there would reefs, like architects building a house. be sufficient space of ground to collect This is altogether a false notion and a considerable quantity of rain water analogy. The coral polypi do not during wet weather, and this, percolatbuild their own masses any more than ing through the soil and the porous we build our own skeletons, and the rock below, remains there at no great reefs are formed simply of the accumu- depth, just about the level of low water lation of dead and living bodies of such probably, where it is prevented draincorals, which have grown there, lived ing off by the sea water around it. there, and died there in countless num- Some persons have fancied that the bers through a long series of years. fresh water thus found was merely the The dead coral masses are in most in- salt water of the sea with the salt filstances unmoved and unchanged from tered out of it, forgetting that filters what they were when alive, except, act only mechanically, while salt is perhaps, that their internal structure in chemical solution in the water of the has become more solid and crystalline. sea. If a large sponge, saturated with Some of them, however, have been fresh water, be half immersed in a dish worn and broken by the action of the of salt water, the sponge will retain the waves, and their debris, often in a state fresh water at its centre unmixed with of fine sand, has been accumulated in the salt for an indefinite length of time. the hollows and interstices of the rest, In the same way is the fresh water reso that all the lower and internal por- tained a little way below the surface of tions of a coral reef have become com- a coral islet. pacted together into solid stone. Not Thus are islets and islands formed only corals, but multitudes of fish, on the surface of reefs, and prepared crabs, univalve and bivalve shells, sea- for the habitation of man. But there is urchins, star-fish, hard calcareous sea- another wonder yet about the formaplants, and countless myriads of mi- tion of the reefs themselves on which nute foraminiferous shells have all we must say a few words. The coralcontributed their remains to the mass forming polypi, of whose solid frames of this accumulation. When a pile of the reefs are composed, cannot live in materials of this kind, all dead inter- deep water. A certain amount of nally, but full of life on its outer sur- light and heat is necessary to their exface, reaches the sea level, the breakers istence, and they seem to flourish best soon detach blocks from its outer edge, when exposed to the very surf of the and roll them on to it, and the currents breakers. They cannot live at all in a sweep sand over it, until in some place greater depth than twenty fathoms, or or other a sand-bank is formed that is one hundred and twenty feet. But the reefs themselves rise up like huge and circles sometimes of many miles in submarine walls from depths hitherto diameter, with a central lagoon of ununfathomable. A frequent depth found occupied water, and a scattered margin just immediately outside the breakers, of little islets formed from the old as close as a boat dare venture, is one sand-banks. hundred and twenty fathoms, or seven In the great archipelago of the Rahundred and twenty feet, while lines dack and Ralick islands (or the Mar. of three hundred fathoms (eighteen shal islands, as they are sometimes hundred feet) and more have been let called), extending over a space of four down from a ship at a little greater or five hundred miles, not a stone or distance, without being able to reach fragment of a rock is to be seen other the bottom. The explanation of this than coral; all the old lands, with their apparent difficulty is found in the de- hard rocks, have disappeared beneath pression of the sea-bed. Wherever the sea; and so valuable are even the such reefs are now found land once sinallest pebbles of hard rock, that existed, with shores on which the coral whenever a drift tree is thrown ashore animals settled in their favourite depths on one of the islands, its roots are inand localities. They grew and flou- stantly searched, and any little stones rished there, and laid the foundations of that are entangled therein are carried a reef. The land then became affected to the chief as “ droits belonging to by one of those great chronic move- the crown." ments which are so slow and gradual The aspect of these “atolls," as they that men fail to perceive their effects are called, is peculiar. The dark in any one or two generations, and clear blue water of the unfathomable sank slowly beneath the waves - 80 ocean rolls around them, kept in long slowly that the gradual increase of the gentle undulations by the perpetual solid frames of the polypi was sufficient breath and impulse of the trade-wind. to counteraet the movement of depres- This long, lazy swell, meeting suddenly sion so far as they were concerned, and with the obstruction of the steep wall to keep the upper surface of the reef of the reef, lifts itself into vast, wide, still at the level of low water in the continuous ridges of blue water, that, sea. Century after century and thou rising higher and higher, at last roll sand after thousand of years went by, over, and fall on the outer edge of the and still the sinking of the sea-bed and reef in broad cataracts of foain. One the up-building of the reef went on, great ring of snow-white surf thus entill at length in many instances the virons the whole reef-mass except at original land disappeared altogether the leeward openings, forming a wellfrom sight. The old island lies buried marked boundary between the deep now deep in his coral tomb, the only blue of the ocean and the bright grasssymptom of his former existence being green water of the tranquil and comthe flat slab of coral rock laid horizon. paratively shallow lagoon inside. The tally across his head. Every step and sittie islets on the ring of reef are marevery gradation of this process may gined by beaches of glittering white still be observed in the great Pacific sand, covered with green bushes, and Ocean. Some of the lofty and rugged often crowned by the pliant stem and islands have their margins fringed by gently waving plumes of the graceful, corals which are but now commencing feathery cocoa-palm. The elements to grow only just below the beach; of the scene are few and simple ; yet others that have subsided to a certain is it not only beautiful, but most extent are surrounded by an irregular impressive. The bright contrast of ring of coral reef at some distance from colour seen under a tropical sun, with the present beach, which ring marks the clear deep sky overhead and the the outline of the island as it once ex- few piled-up mountainous and staisted, a channel of water, or lagoon, tionary clouds, looking like towers of running between the outer sea wall woolpacks, which are characteristic of and the margin of the present land, to the Pacific horizon, pleases and satiswhich access is gained from the sea by fies the eye, while the mind cannot fail numerous irregular openings in the to be moved with the contemplation of barrier, or encircling reet; others such wonderful results springing from again occur either singly or in groups the apparently antagonistic, but really and archipelagos, where the coral reefs united, action of the great forces of naalone are to be seen disposed in ovals ture. The great internal disturbing
agencies and the destructive action of never seen, save at a distance by some waves and winds are together set at stray wanderer from the coast. defiance and overcome by the vital We have seen that throughout large energies and powers of such an insignie tracts of the Pacific we have reason to cant animal as a little polyp.
believe that great tracts of land have The high islands of the Pacific, whe- sunk below the level of the sea. It has ther surrounded by an encircling bar- occurred to us sometimes to specurier reef or not, have likewise generally late on the extent to which this demany features in common. They rise pression has been carried, the time it into lofty peaks and ridges in the in- has occupied, and how far this geoloterior, grass-grown, but bare of trees, gical agency may have an ethnological from which radiate many buttress-like bearing or connexion. Instances are ridges, separated from each other by not wholly wanting of purely archeodeep and precipitous ravines, that open logical facts which would lead us to ask into valleys as they proceed towards the whether some of the present islands sea. Each radiating ridge has its sides have not once formed parts of larger also closely and deeply furrowed by lands occupied by people of a higher rocky glens, that run straight from its civilisation, and acquainted with more crest on either side into the valleys, and of the arts of life. Such instances are each ends frequently in a craggy pro- the large grotesque statues found by montory that juts into the sea, with Captain Cook upon Easter Island, dark precipices
of black rock separat- carved out of hard lava rock, and of a ing the valleys from each other. Over colossal size, utterly beyond any apall the lower parts of the ridges, as parent means of workmanship poswell as in the depth of the valleys and sessed by the inhabitants then, and ravines, spread dark, umbrageous mysterious to them as to Cook in all forests, while groves of cocoa-palms, that respects the time and mode of bamboos, breadfruits, and the broad their production. In the opposite leafed banana, extend across the more corner of the Pacific again, in the is. open and level tracts. Under these land of Tinian, which was uninhabited trees the inhabitants build their huts, when visited by our illustrious navi. cultivate their gardens, and lead their gator, he found temples carved out of simple and light-hearted lives. If such the solid rock, supported by columns an island have an encircling reef, the and pillars of cut and ornamented lagoon between it and the land forms a stone. We remember seeing in the tranquil sea-lake or natural harbour, in columns of the Daily News, some years which the natives may disport them- ago, a letter from a naval officer who selves, while as the reef often closes in had lately visited Pitcairn's Island, upon the land, and cuts this off where giving an account of a visit he had the precipitous dividing ridges that paid, under the guidance of one of the bound each valley strike into the sea, inhabitants, to some almost inaccessiit not unfrequently happens that adja- ble precipices on the sea shore, where cent valleys have no easy method of landing from a boat or a canoe communication either by land or water, was utterly impossible. These preciand are thus apt to form isolated dis- pices, thus overhanging a wild and so. tricts, the inhabitants of which are Îitary sea, he described as graven with often at enmity with each other. strange characters and marks, appa
The lofty and often inaccessible in- rently symbols or hieroglyphics, eviteriors of these islands are but rarely dently carved by the hand of man. He visited, and frequently but little known professed himself utterly puzzled to by the careless inhabitants of the coast. account for the meaning or object of Instances are recorded by Mr. Darwin their existence, or how they could have and others, of men guilty perhaps of been cut. If, however, we suppose some crime, or obnoxious to the re- Easter Island to have been once the venge of some enemy, or perhaps urged summit of a green swelling mountain, only by the moody impulses of tbat rising from a land now buried deep melancholy and misanthropic disposi- below the sea, it becomes easy to untion which drives some men of all na- derstand how “priests or scribes" may tions and ages to prey upon their own have gone up to carve upon the lofty hearts in solitude, having taken to lead rock, conspicuous to the people below, wild lives in the recesses of the moun, inscriptions which now can be rarely
ins, and having thus passed years, visible to mortal eye.
Even as the present islands and is. himself or his men. One poor young lets are but the landmarks and mo- fellow, a volunteer from the colony, numents of much larger islands, or died of hunger and exhaustion by the even of a once great continent per. way. While in Swan River, Captain haps, that spread over the space now Grey made himself master of the lanoccupied by ocean, may not the people guage, and the habits and customs of that inhabit those islands, a people so the natives ; and published, beside his peculiar, yet so widely spread, so si- more formal travels, a very interesting milar, yet so utterly separated, may comparative vocabulary of the Austrathey not also be the relics and the mo- lian languages. In all this he showed numents of some more mighty and great energy, power of mind, and demore numerous race that inhabited the termination of character; and, though submerged continent or the larger and his enthusiasm often led him into diffimore closely neighbouring islands of culties, yet he ever exerted himself the past ?
heartily and for the most part effecWhatever truth may lie hidden under tually to extricate himself and his folsuch dream-like musings, no one, we
lowers from their consequences. After think, can be insensible to the interest spending some time at King George's excited by Polynesia and its inhabitants. Sound, he was made Governor of Early navigators, shipwrecked sai. South Australia, whence he was relors, grave and reverend missionaries, moved to New Zealand, when that scientific travellers, harum-scarum ad- colony seemed to be entangled in many venturers, and whaling captains and complicated evils. That she has sur. doctors, and last not least, governors mounted these we cannot avoid attri. of colonies, have all been charmed or buting in great measure to the vigour interested by this great region of the and wisdom of her governor. earth, and have all given excellent, We never happened even to see Sir and some unrivalled, contributions to George Grey, though we have heard our knowledge respecting it.
much of hiin both from Swan River Sir George Grey, late Governor-in- and South Australia. He does not Chief of New Zealand, is a very re- appear to be a popular man-probably markable man, and one of whom we his temper may be grave and his man. expect to hear more in the future, and ners reserved. We did not abstractedly probably in scenes more nearly neigh- approve of many of his acts as Goverboaring to us. He had barely com- nor of New Zealand, but perhaps those pleted his military education at Sand- acts may have been made necessary or hurst (we are not sure if we are expedient by circumstances. However correct in that locality) when, with a that may be, we cannot but recognise fellow-student, Lieutenant Lushington, the merits of a man who does what he he projected an expedition to the north- bas done, throughout a career, where he west coast of Australia, proposing to has had himself, and for the most part penetrate from that direction right bimself alone, to depend on. We beacross the country. In this they failed lieve we are correct in saying that he egregiously, as any one must have an- is not a relative_he is certainly not a ticipated who was acquainted with the near or a close one-of our Earl Grey character of that country. Australia and our Sir George at home. We do is not like Europe, but like Africa ; not like him the worse on that acand what they attempted could only be count. paralleled in our part of the world by One most meritorious line of con. an expedition to land on the coast duct he has pursued is, that wherever south of Morocco, and ride across the he has been, he has always made himself desert of Sabara to Tripoli and Egypt. acquainted with the nature and resourCaptain Grey was wounded in a con- ces of the country, and the character test with the natives; and, after pene- and language of the people he has had trating a little way, they had to return to deal with, and has not shown him. to their vessel. He then went to Swan self backward in communicating the River, and made an expedition along results of his labours to the public. He the coast in two open whale-boats, got is evidently an earnest man, not given wrecked some three hundred miles to to affectation, not afflicted with mock the northward, and had to walk back modesty, and ready to speak plainly through the desert, without food, for the and sincerely of that which he has greatest part of the distance, for either seen or that which he has done. That
this has been work of no ordinary cha- impression upon the suitor from what it would racter we shall show by extracting the have had coming direct from the lips of the commencement of his preface to his governor of the country. Moreover, this last publication on Polynesian my
mode of communication through a third perthology :
son was so cumbrous and slow, that, in or
der to compensate for the loss of time thus " Towards the close of the year 1845, I occasioned, it became necessary for the inwas suddenly and unexpectly required by terpreters to compress the substance of the the British Government to administer the representations made to me, as also of my affairs of New Zealand, and shortly after- own replies, into the fewest words possible; wards received the appointment of Governor- and as this had in each instance to be done in-Chief of those islands.
hurriedly, and at the moment, there was rea“ When I arrived in them, I found her son to fear that much that was material to Majesty's native subjects engaged in hosti- enable me fully to understand the question lities with the Queen's troops, against whom brought before me, or the suitor to comprethey had up to that time contended with hend my reply, might be unintentionally considerable success ; so much discontent omitted. Lastly, I had on several occasions also prevailed generally amongst the native reason to believe that a native besitated to population, that, where disturbances had not state facts, or to express feelings and wishes, yet taken place, there was too much reason to an interpreter, which he would most gladto apprehend they would soon break out, as ly bave done to the governor, could he have they shortly afterwards did, in several parts addressed him direct. of the islands.
** These reasons, and others of equal force, " I soon perceived that I could neither made me feel it to be my duty to make mysuccessfully govern, nor hope to conciliate, a self acquainted, with the least possible denumerous and turbulent people, with whose lay, with the language of the New Zealandlanguage, manners, customs, religion, and ers, as also with their manners, customs, and modes of thought, I was quite unacquainted. prejudices. But I soon found that this was In order to redress their grievances, and ap- a far more difficult matter than I had at ply remedies, which would neither wound first supposed. The language of the New their feelings nor militate against their pre- Zealanders is a very difficult one to underjudices, it was necessary that I should be stand thoroughly : there was then no dicable thoroughly to understand their com- tionary of it published (unless a vocabulary plaints; and, to win their confidence and can be so called); there were no books pubregard, it was also requisite that I should be lished in the language, which would enable able at all times, and in all places, patiently me to study its construction ; it varied altoto listen to the tales of their wrongs or suf- gether in form from any of the ancient or ferings, and, even if I could not assist them, modern languages which I knew; and my to give them a kind reply, couched in such thoughts and time were so occupied with the terms as should leave no doubt on their cares of the government of a country then minds that I clearly understood and felt for pressed upon by may difficulties, and with them, and was really well disposed towards a formidable rebellion raging in it, that I them.
could find but very few hours to devote to " Although furnished with some very able the acquisition of an unwritten and difficult interpreters, who gave me assistance of the language. I, however, did my best, and most friendly nature, I soon found that even cheerfully devoted all my spare moments to with their aid I could still only very imper- a task, the accomplishment of which was nefectly perform my duties. I could not at sary to enable me to perform properly every all times and in all places have an interpre- duty to my country and to the people I was ter by my side ; and thence often when way- appointed to govern. laid by some suitor, who had, perhaps, tra- “Soon, however, a new and quite unexvelled two or three hundred miles to lay be- pected difficulty presented itself. On the fore me the tale of his or her grievances, I side of the rebel party were engaged, either was compelled to pass on without listening, openly or covertly, some of the oldest, least and to witness with pain an expression of civilised, and most influential chiefs in the sorrow and keenly disappointed hope cloud islands. With them I bad either personally, over features which the moment before were or by written communications, to discuss bright with gladness, that the opportunity questions which involved peace or war, and so anxiously looked for had at length been on which the whole future of the islands and secured.
of the native race depended; so that it was " Again, I found that any tale of sorrow in the highest degree essential that I should or suffering, passing through the medium of fully and entirely comprehend their thoughts an interpreter, fell much more coldly on my and intentions, and that they should not in ear than what it would have done had the any way misunderstand the nature of the person interested addressed the tale direct to engagements into which I entered with them. myself; and in like manner an answer de- " To my surprise, however, I found that livered through the intervention of a third these chiefs, either in their speeches to me, person, appeared to leave a very different or in their letters, frequently quoted, in ex.