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will that mortal feel, and what will be his sensations, who is permitted, in the mercy and goodness of Providence, to be the first to explore its mountains and streams-to behold its scenery-to investigate its geological character-and, finally, by his survey, to develop its natural advantages, all still unknown to the civilized world, but yet certain to become, at no distant date, of vast importance to a new people? The Islands lie bounded by the sea, with all their features new and untouched, as they fell from the hand of the Creator! Certainly an island more favourable for colonization, I think, cannot be found in the Indian Archipelago.
We have already given our author's general and poetical description of Interview Island; and we now make room for a longer, more particular, and more matter-of-fact account of its soil, climate and productions:
The natural productions of the island are the Lancewood tree (Apocynacea), wood oil tree (Dipterocarpus), a species of Ebony (Diospyrus), Mountain Jack trees (Artocarpus Echinata), the Cocoanut, Mango, Pumpkins (Columba pepo), and a variety of other trees. There are several species of timber trees capable of being used in ship-building, while there are others exceedingly well adapted for posts, beams, &c. There is enough of wood for all purposes of utility, and adorning the country,-just as much as even a painter could wish.
The soil towards the N. W. is apparently a mixture of decomposed slate and clay; the slate gradually disappearing, on approaching the hill running in the centre.* Vegetation is abundant over all the slate formation. From the regularity of the direction of the strata, the valleys are numerous, and much alluvial soil is washed down, which, blending with fallen leaves, and other putrescent substances, produces a good superficial soil, in which trees grow to a large size, and the shrubs and smaller plants become particularly luxuriant and productive. The trees, the chief of which are the ever-green beech (Fagus betuloides) are generally rotten at the heart, a circumstance which may be attributed to the coldness of the schistose subsoil, upon which the trees are rooted, as well as to the perpetual moisture of the climate.
The extreme western portion of the island is composed of a succession of stratified rocks,-a difference at once distinguishable by the form and nature of the ranges, and the direction of the shores; the hills are irregularly heaped together; the sounds are intricate and tortuous in their course; and the shores are formed by deep sinuosities, and prominently projecting headlands. The channels also are studded with innumerable islands and rocks, extremely dangerous to navigation. In this position the rock is for the most part granite and greenstone and it is a remarkable fact, that, where the greenstone formation terminates, there the islands cease to appear. The decomposition of granite and the other primitive rocks, which are found there, forms but a poor unproductive soil : : so that, although the land is thickly covered with shrubs, they are all small and stunted. The torrents of water also, that pour down the sides of the hill, as appears from the hollowed forms by the water courses, wash away the partial accumulations of soil, that are occasionally deposited; consequently few trees are to be found, excepting in clefts and recesses of the rocks, where decomposed vegetable matter collects and nourishes their growth. The hollows are surrounded by a line of " yarra" gum trees, or white bark eucalyptus, which seemed at a distance to contain lakes; but instead of water, I found only blocks of vesicular trap, consisting apparently of granular felspar; and horn-blend rock also appeared in the banks enclosing them.
The soil south of the island is, generally speaking, a rich loamy one, with
Here I came across Chloritic slate, or a soft rock, slate clay containing magnesiaa specimen of which the apprentice, who followed me, left on the wrecked timbers of the Emily; but it was washed away by the night's tide. I had no opportunity to obtain another supply.
fine vegetable mould in some places. It is very productive,-a fact_evidenced by the luxuriant growth of the forest trees in this quarter, and the perfect success, which attended my cultivation of the date, pumpkin, and orange trees.
In proceeding to the southern point of the island from the lake, by a pathway leading all along its bank, I branched off to the west leading through thick underwood. Here and there I observed, the soil was faced with trees of a harsh character, growing so thick and close as to form large tufts, over which I walked as on hard ground. I struggled through several thickets of stunted beech trees, with a thick jungle of berberis underneath, whose strong and sharp thorns penetrated my skin at every step.
The temperature of the island I should consider low, but the climate mild. As illustrative of this latter, I may mention the comparative warmth of the sea near its surface, when the sea was covered with a cloud of steam. And, besides, the parrots and the humming birds, generally the inhabitants of warm regions, are very numerous on the western side—the former feeding upon the seeds of a species of bark, and the latter chirping and sipping the sweets of flowers in the coldest mornings.
The mammalia of the island, as far as I could ascertain it, comprise the Tiger, Leopard, a species of white monkey, wild cat, wild dogs, a species of black pig with short legs, and several kinds of squirrels-one, a large black squirrel with yellow breast and belly; another, a small striped squirrel.
There are a great diversity of birds. The bulbul, parrots of a large kind, parroqueets, a small parrot with a red-rump, a black minah with a yellow headband, minahs also of a large kind, the red-headed woodpeckers, honeysuckers, a large brown hawk, wild fowl, ground doves, large green pigeons, teals, plovers and curlews, king crow, tailor bird, cranes, white heron, a whiteheaded fish-hawk, crow pheasants, red breast, black birds, and thrushes.
I have seen several species of snake very common in all countries, and two sorts of lizards, and guana of a small kind. Sea tortoise, shell'd and commonturtle visit the sandy beach every night to deposit their eggs.
The sea affords a variety of fish; and the shores supply shell-fish, prawns, crabs, oysters, cockles, muscles, &c.
The native men are described as of middle height, muscular, very dark, with features and hair closely allied to the African. The women, Mr. Quigley ungallantly characterizes as "the most illfavoured creatures" he ever saw, and declares that he should certainly prefer never seeing them again, lest his ideas of female beauty should undergo a change unfavourable to the "tranquillity of his future life." The garb of both sexes is that of perfect innocencethat which our first parents wore before their fall.
The intercourse of these people with the crew of the schooner Sea Serpent, which took Mr. Quigley to their shores, was of the most friendly character, and was latterly approaching to familiarity." The visitors had hopes of being able to "establish a permanent friendly footing with them;" but their plans were unhappily frustrated;-how, or why, we do not discover in the narrative. Mr. Quigley evidently regards the natives of these islands in a more favourable view than that, in which general report has represented them; and his experience justifies his doing so. The charge of cannibalism, so commonly brought against them, he, on insufficient evidence, we think, positively declares utterly groundless.
Mr. Quigley presses upon the British Government the propriety of occupying the Andamans, or one of the larger islands, as a naval and military station. The advantage of establishing a settlement
of civilized people on islands so situated as these are, and of turning to account their stores and resources, is so obvious, that we may assume that it has only been foregone for what were deemed good and sufficient reasons. Our Government once had a settlement on the Great Andaman, first at Port Chatham, and afterwards at Port Cornwallis: but it was eventually withdrawn because of the extreme insalubrity of the island. At one time also, much was said of the intention of the Danes to take possession of these islands; but they appear to have abandoned the idea, if it was ever entertained. The French too, as fond of colonising as they are unfit to be colonists, might have been expected to cast a longing eye on the Andamans, occupying so commanding a position for a naval and military station, had they not seen some obstacle to their occupation, stronger than the fact of their having no right of possession.
But Mr. Quigley thinks that, if the islands were cleared, they would cease to be so insalubrious; and on this point he is probably right. The difficulty, in the inevitable cost of life and money in effecting this clearance, is, however, a serious impediment. The employment of convicts in the work, as recommended by Mr. Quigley, would entail an additional punishment on these unfortunates, which we doubt the legal right of the Government, or the moral right of the Courts, to inflict.
The Cocos Islands, Great and Little, as described by our wanderer," seem rather more inviting to settlers than the Andamans. The smaller isle, situated about nine leagues N. N. W. of the Great Andaman, and being about two and a half miles long by three quarters of a mile broad, is thus sketched by Mr. Quigley, in a more simple and intelligible style than that adopted by him with the Andamans:
The aspect of the island exhibits a gracefully waving surface, swelling and sinking with an easy slope and a full rounded outline, equally avoiding the unmeaning horizontal surface, and the interruption of abrupt or angular elevations. It is that surface which might be expressed as rolling, resembling the heavy swell of the ocean around it, when its waves are subsiding to rest after the agitation of a storm. It is elevated in the centre, so that in advancing into it from either side, you see before you only the plain, with its curved outline marked upon the sky, and forming the horizon, but on reaching the highest point you look around upon the whole of the scene.
Much of the island consists chiefly of alluvial soil, exceedingly rich, in some parts of the island: the nature of the soil is not favourable to plants which take a deep root, and therefore shrubs and grasses are found; the former are thinly scattered over the brows of the hill side, but the grasses are abundant, and although of a harsh and dry appearance, most nourishing, for they form the chosen food of numerous and large guanas.
Of the Great Coco he says:
"The surface of the country present inequalities quite inconsiderable, for they appear like beautifully connected hills. It may be said to be hill and plain all around the sea shore it presents a hilly appearance, while within it presents a plain. The soil in the plains is generally a rich black mould, and that of the hills consists of decomposed lava, of a deep chocolate color; both descriptions of soil being exceedingly fertile, and suited to the
growth of all descriptions of European and tropical grain and fruits. On the N. E. side, forming the boundary of a tank of good water, 200 feet long by 50 wide, the grass around is so rich, that a single acre of ground, in its natural state, is capable of maintaining a pair of cattle, without artificial food of any kind, all the year round. A species of long grass also grows on the southern bank of this tank, affording shelter to a large flock of teals. Various portions of the island are also covered with this long grass."
This island is six miles in length, and two in breadth. The natural productions, animal and vegetable, of this group are not very dissimilar to those of the Andamans. The islands are uninhabited except at a certain season of the year, when they are visited by the Burmese to collect the products of the cocoanut tree, &c. Mr. Quigley, when discoursing on the resources of the islands which he visited, reminds us of the Glasgow man, who wound up his glowing description of a valley in Switzerland, with the emphatic declaration, that it was clearly intended by Providence for the site of bleaching and Turkey red dye works!" Being a Maulmain man, he naturally has an eye to the timber: and, among other allusions to this article, he says, in describing the Great Coco, "a species of timber for spars, to enable a ship to proceed on her voyage, is indigenous to the island, and may be cut conveniently."
Our author earnestly exhorts the members of the East Indian community in general, and the "East Indian Agricultural Association" of Madras in particular, to avail themselves of the advantages, which these islands offer for "the establishment of their nationality as a class of people." He supports his exhortation by references to the case of the Israelites, who became a nation in spite of the oppressions of Egypt; of the United Kingdom, which can spare its millions of people for colonizing all the ends of the earth; and of the continent of America peopled by European immigrants. It is very evident to us, however, that the time has not yet come for the establishment of East Indian nationality, in the way suggested by Mr. Quigley. We do not expect a child to run, before it can stand alone; nor do we believe that the members of the East Indian community, who, with few exceptions, are brought up to rely on the Government offices for support, are in a fit condition to brave the hardships and the toils of emigration to uncleared, uninhabited islands, where their maintenance must be won by manual labour from the bosom of the soil. Were it otherwise, however, the result of a recent attempt at a settlement on the Great Coco, which cost the lives of seven out of eleven settlers-three of whom were Europeans-would be a caution to the East Indians against trying to "establish their nationality" on a couple of pestilent islands, with a total area of about. a dozen square miles.
IV.-An Investigation of the Rate of Mortality amongst certain Assured lives in India; with new tables of Annuities, Assurances, &c. for single lives. By C. Scotton Francis. Calcutta. W. Thacker and Co. 1850.
By some, the remark may be deemed deficient in originality—but no fear of the suspicion of plagiarism shall deter us from making itthat British India is a very strange country, and its inhabitants a somewhat singular people. Why, here in Calcutta we have five daily English newspapers, besides publications, filled with advertisements, and circulated gratuitously, equal in amount to three or four more; and all this in a town whose English-reading inhabitants would not make the population of a third-rate market town in England. Another peculiarity, as we believe, of our Anglo-Indian Society, is the extent to which Life Assurance is carried amongst us. We wish we could persuade ourselves that this is due to the prevalence of prudence and provident habits amongst us; but we fear it is in some degree quite the contrary. On this subject, we shall have to say a few words, ere we have done with the present notice.
The work before us is one that we regard with special favour. It is designed to substitute certainty for uncertainty, as the basis of a series of most important transactions, and to make the assurance of lives in India rest upon the result of experience, instead of hap-hazard. It is surprising to what an extent this hap-hazard system of assurance has been carried by some of our Home offices, in undertaking risks on lives exposed to the trial of an Indian climate. We have been told that the practice in some of the English offices is, when granting policies on Indian lives, coolly to add to the premium three per cent. on the amount of the policy, and this without respect to the age of the person effecting the assurance. For example, supposing a man of 30 years of age would pay in Europe £1-15 for an assurance of £100 on his life, the same man on coming to India will be charged £4-15; or, supposing that a man of 50 pays £3 at home, he will have to pay £6 here. The English offices that have branches in India, and the offices that have been established in India itself, have of course Indian rates; but we have always been of opinion that, considering all things, the rates are considerably too high. In fact we have an idea, that the higher rate of interest obtainable here, might almost make amends for the higher rate of mortality; and we are, to a certain extent, confirmed in this idea, by the very large bonuses that the offices distribute amongst those who assure on the mutual principle, or with participation of profits.
Some years ago, we noticed a pamphlet by Mr. W. J. B. Woolhouse, on the rate of mortality among the officers of the Indian Army, and expressed our belief that the mortality was estimated too high, and consequently the expectancy or average duration of life too low. This we imputed to the fact, that Mr. Woolhouse takes cognizance of officers only so long as their names remain in the Army List; con