any real work in this direction, and "the | down the stream to the sea, where it was islands still remain an almost virgin arranged the yacht was to meet them. ground for any future explorer both in The account of this journey is full of inthis as well as other branches of natural terest, and is given in graphic but unprehistory." From the Liu-Kiu Islands the tending language, with the charms of Marchesa started northward, bound for freshness and novelty. Marvellous is the Kamschatka, through the lonely and misty supply of fish (Salmonida) which the seas of the north Pacific, and in due time Kamschatkan rivers produced. At Narthe sharp peak of the Vilutchinska volcano chiki, on a little branch of the Avatcha a graceful cone of about seven thousand River, where the stream is not more than feet revealed the position of the vessel, eighteen inches deep, Dr. Guillemard bewhich soon arrived at the narrow entrance gan for the first time dimly to realize the of the bay of Avatcha, which is described vast numbers of fish which annually visit as one of the finest harbors of the world, the country, and which may be said litif not actually the finest, Rio and Sydney erally to choke its rivers. yielding the palm to their Kamschatkan rival.

Hundreds were in sight, absolutely touching one another, and as we crossed the river back fins were visible as far as we could see our horses nearly stepped upon them. Their the stream, and aground, and gasping in the shallows, and lying dead or dying upon the banks, were hundreds more. The odor from these decaying fish was distinctly perceptible at a distance of a couple of hundred yards or more. In weight these salmon varied from seven to fifteen, and even twenty, pounds. blotchy with patches of red and white, and of They were, for the most part, foul fishthe kind known by the Russians as the Garbusa; but others in fair condition were to be found, and with a little trouble I was able to pull out three good ten-pound fish in as many minutes with a gaff. Any other method of fishing would have been useless. It would have been nearly impossible to make a cast without foul-hooking a fish, and nine-tenths or


more of them were in an uneatable condition.

The scenery of the coast of southeastern Kamschatka, with its precipitous cliffs at the foot of which none but a bird could land, its deep valleys running down to the sea at whose mouths still lay the accumulated masses of last winter's snow, its pinnacle rocks like rows of huge iron teeth, must be superb. Steaming steadily towards land the Marchesa enters the harbor of Petropaulovski, which is little more than a hamlet of about two or three hundred inhabitants, of whom eight or ten are Europeans. If the human inhabitants of the peninsula are comparatively few in number, this is not the case with the sledge-dogs, which abound. Dr. Guillemard describes the sledge-dog as wonderfully well trained, cunning, and enduring, but often obstinate and unmanageable to a degree, being apparently indifferent to the kicks and blows showered on him by The enormous abundance of salmon his master. He is a good hunter and which thus fill the rivers of Kamschatka fisherman, supporting himself upon the is to the new-comer an astonishing sight. game and salmon he catches, but seldom, The millions of fish that are caught and in spite of his treatment, deserting his form the food throughout the year of almaster. However, his rapacity is so great most every living creature in the country that the inhabitants cannot keep sheep, - the cows and horses even not excepted goats, or other of the smaller doméstic are, we are assured, as nothing comanimals. Raw hides, boots, and even ba-pared with the countless myriads that bies, it is said, occasionally vary his diet. perish naturally. The rotting fish that The harbor and rivers of Petropaulovski lined the banks and in places lay piled in teemed with fish; and though whiting and little heaps together are not the victims, herring were abundant, they were left in as one might be disposed to conclude, of comparative peace owing to the ease with any occasional fatal epidemic; the phewhich salmon were to be obtained. To nomenon is a constant annual occurrence. the ship's crew this place seemed little The dwellings of the natives are huts, less than a paradise; the bright sunny often combined with stables, through weather and cold nights were a pleasant which one has to pass before entering the change after tropical heat, and the fore-habitable room; the windows are made of castle mess was supplied with many unac strips of bear-gut sewed together, which customed dainties. It was the intention cannot admit much light. In the corner of the travellers to proceed northwards by land, with baggage and horses, from Avatcha Bay until they struck the head waters of the great Kamschatka River, then to procure boats or rafts, and to float |

[ocr errors]

The garbusa or humpback, so called from the extraordinary development on the back of the kelt during the Oncorhynchus proteus of recent ichthyologists. the spawning season, is the Salmo proteus of PallasThis fish, with others, is figured in vol. i., p. 127.

their altitudes are given as 16,988 feet for Kluchefskaya; 12,508 for Uskovska; 15,400 for Kojerevska; and 11,700 for Tolbatchinska. The first-named volcano has a wonderful steepness of slope, and an unbrokenly conical shape, and is regarded by Dr. Guillemard as being one of the best instances that could be given of a mountain that owes its exact height and form to the slow piling up of the ashes and lava ejected from its crater. The Kamschatka volcanoes do not appear to have been active for many years until about nine months after our author had left the country, when "a series of eruptions appear to have taken place which in grandeur must have rivalled those described by Krasheninikof in 1737." It is curious that the only account of these eruptions is given in the Japan Gazette, and that two years after their occurrence the fact was unknown both to the Royal and Royal Geographical Societies. It was synchronous with the terrible catastrophe at Krakatau in Java (August, 1883); further information, however, is needed on this subject.

of one of these rooms which the travellers | on the heights of the four chief volcanoes entered for lunch and rest, "was the usual lying to the south of the lower part of the tawdry eikon, and facing it a long array Kamschatka River was not lost sight of; of clippings from the New York Police News, full of the choicest horrors of battle, murder, and sudden death"! amid which lively surroundings the travellers consumed their sour milk and bilberries, potatoes and turnips. The party struck the Kamschatka River not far from a little hamlet called Gunal, where there are about twenty huts and a population of about ninety-four souls, all the descendants of Russians who established themselves here with Kamschatdale wives in the last century. At this point, the head waters of the river that was to bear the travellers some four or five hundred miles before they reached the sea, the river is merely a little stream, barely fifteen yards across, and not more than a foot or eighteen inches deep. The travellers continued their land journey as far as Sherowmy, where they dismissed their horse-boys and horses, and began their river journey, which was made on rafts and boats. At the village of Melcova the party ran short of tea and sugar, which they were able to obtain there. The tea in use is the usual brick tea of other parts of Siberia; it is made in cakes about ten inches by five, and three quarters of an inch in thickness, squeezed flat by hydraulic pressure, and stamped with large Chinese characters. "Brick tea is to a Kamschatkan what coffee is to a Lapp. It is found in the very poorest and most miserable hut, and is regarded as just as much a necessary of life as tobacco." The high price of sugar places it beyond the reach of most; the party purchased some at eighteen pence a pound. At nightfall the rafts were run ashore at the nearest beach, and the tents pitched on the stony or sandy edge of the river. The menu was not a varied one, but to our author it was the most luxurious he had ever experienced in camp life.

Soup à la chasseur, boiled salmon, stewed capercailzie or grouse, teal à la Kamschatdale, bilberry jam, and tea and coffee, form a very respectable meal for a traveller whose appetite has been sharpened by the keen air of a northern autumn; and it was but seldom that we failed to do justice to it. And when the journals had been written up, and the birds skinned, and we smoked our last pipe at the enormous fire before turning in, we felt, but for the natives, Kamschatka was as pleasant a country for camping as we had ever experienced.

Arrived at Ust Kamschatka, near the mouth of the river on the east of the peninsula, the travellers' river journey was practically at an end; they were now only four miles distant from the bar at the mouth of the river. Ascending a lookout tower near the village they soon were gratified with the sight of the Marchesa approaching from the south, and thus, after a month's absence, "hit off the time of meeting with an exactness as curious as it was fortunate." The presence of two vessels in the port of Ust Kamschatka, the Marchesa and the Nemo, a Japanese walrus schooner, whose captain was a Swede, was deemed an occurrence so unusual that it was felt something should be done to celebrate it, so a feast and a ball were accordingly resolved on. The Swedes sent various intoxicating drinks; the supper-table groaned with cold ducks, cranberries, brick tea, and other Kamschatkan delicacies; empty bottles served for candlesticks; the ballroom roof was low, and the "six feet three " Swedes had their heads among the dried fish and other odds and ends hanging to the rafters; the band was represented by an old fiddler who, for an uninterrupted period of six hours, gave the company the dance music most in fashion in Ust Kamschatka. The

The opportunity for taking observations rank and fashion of the village were pres

ent; the "fair sex were represented by | schatka, the result of two days' visit to fourteen individuals who sat round the Betchevinskaya Bay, the total bag conroom; these ladies were "just a wee bit fishy.' For the rest, our author who is a most amusing writer as well as a man of science shall tell his own story:

[ocr errors]

A dance had just ceased as we arrived, and we took our seats in placid ignorance of what was in store for us. Presently the squeak of the fiddle was heard, and instantly the ladies rushed in search of partners. There was a great move in the direction of the two Swedes and the rest of the party; and as became a modest old bachelor I prepared to faire tapisserie with the papas and mammas. But it was destined to be otherwise, for on raising my eyes I found that two fair damsels were suing for the honor of my hand. The young women were not beautiful. However, there was no time to be lost. The seal-hunter, the American nigger, and the tall Swede were already hard at it, and slipping my arm round the waist of the nearest fair one I plunged blindly into the dance. The affair was simple enough at first. The dance merely consisted in shuffling slowly round the room side by side, the gentleman with his left arm free, the lady accompanying the music with a sort of monotonous chant. Time was of no particular object, and smoking was permitted; and as we had partaken neither of the cranberries nor the corn brandy, we felt as well as could be expected under the circumstances. It was not for long, however. Suddenly the music stopped; everybody clapped hands; and, short and stern, the order rang out in Russian, "Kiss." There are moments in which even the stoutest spirit quails. I turned a despairing glance on my partner, and my heart sank within me. All hope was gone! We all know how in moments of supreme emotion the most trivial details become indelibly stamped upon the mind. The scene is now before me. I saw the redhaired seal-hunter bend down to meet his fate like a hero, his green tie dangling in the air; I saw a gallant officer who had served Her Majesty in many climes struggle nobly to the last. Slowly my partner's arms dragged me down. the lips stole upwards. I nerved myself for a final effort. and all was over! Before the next dance I had fled.

Dr. Guillemard and his party met with good sport near Betchevinskaya Bay, and succeeded in killing several big-horns or Kamschatkan wild sheep (Ovis nivicola, Eschscholtz). This wild sheep frequents the precipitous slopes of the sea-cliffs, and is also met with in the interior of the peninsula; they keep in small herds of from three to nine individuals. Of the fourteen specimens obtained all were males, whose ages apparently ranged from three to six years. As an illustration of the abundant sport to be obtained in Kam

sisted of fourteen big-horns, some seals, besides teal, duck, and golden plover. Two bears, though badly hit, managed to escape owing to the denseness of the scrub. The big-horn is most delicious meat, and it "was declared on all hands that no such mutton had ever been tasted before." The carcases were salted down and preserved for future use; and the men all agreed that there was no country like Kamschatka, where salmon, grouse, and mutton were to be had for the killing. Dr. Guillemard gives a list of the birds shot or observed by his party during their visit to Kamschatka, from which list, and from others given by Russian naturalists, the recorded species number one hundred and eighty-six.

The stay of the Marchesa in the Sulu Islands, a little group north-east of Borneo in the eastern archipelago, extended over a period of about six weeks. Here, says our author:

I had to contend with the fact that, in many places, that master naturalist, Mr. A. R. Wallace, had preceded us; nothing could be more fortunate for a traveller, nothing more disadvantageous to an author. The " Malay Archipelago" may still be used as the guidebook for those beautiful islands, for they have been almost untouched by the great changes which Europe has witnessed during the last quarter century.

The extraordinary calmness of the sea of these regions struck our author. Not only was its burnished surface unbroken by a single breath of air, but no trace of swell was visible to mar the glassy plain. Everything was aglow with the heat. Anchoring off Meimbun on the mouth of a little river, a few canoes with bamboo outriggers came on both sides the Marchesa, somewhat mistrustfully, fearing the presnatives there has been war for more than ence of Spaniards, between whom and the two centuries. However, the sight of their fellow-countrymen a little rajah with his suite of three Sulu attendants, to whom the Marchesa was giving a passage from Sandakan, in north Borneo, to Meimbun -soon allayed their suspicions, and the travellers landed in Sulu territory, "where every prospect pleases, with the single exception of being mistaken for a Spaniard."

[ocr errors]

Dr. Guillemard's descriptions of scenery are always charmingly given, and even without the aid of the admirable illustrations which often accompany them one can almost imagine that one had oneself

Had I to introduce my readers to the most un-European scene I know of, I think I should ask him to take a seat with me in a native canoe and paddle up the graceful windings of the Meimbun River. At its mouth the huts, built on seaweed-covered piles, form each a separate island. The floors are raised a bare three feet above the level of the water, and one needs not better evidence of the fact that here at least we are in stormless seas. On the palm-stem platforms in front of the entrance the natives squat, while around are playing half-a-dozen naked little Cupids, now plunging into the water, now paddling races in miniature canoes. A little further, and we

been among the party of travellers. Of | represented; while, on the other hand, the scenery at Meimbun he writes: cockatoos, brush turkeys (Megapodius), peculiar to the Austro-Malayan sub-region of which New Guinea is the central and typical mass, and numerous species of pigeons, inhabit the Philippines. The flora, as far as is known, shows similar peculiarities; many typical Malayan genera are absent, while a large Australian and Austro-Malayan element is present in the archipelago. Dr. Guillemard's visit in the Sulu Islands resulted in an ornithological collection of more than two hundred specimens, comprising sixty-four genera. Before the Marchesa arrived, very little was known of the zoology of the archipelago. Dr. Guillemard's list, though by no means an exhaustive one, is " than sufficient to show the main source from which the bird life of the archipelago is derived," so that Sulu is "geographi cally purely Philippine, just as it is politically by the treaty of 1885."

enter the river, whose water is so clear and pure and bright that one longs to tumble in, clothes and all. Close to the banks lies the market-place, a picturesque jumble of ponies, ripe bananas, red sarongs, palm-leaf stalls, and flashing spears. Beyond, the sea-going praus are hauled up on shore, their unwieldy sterns a mass of quaint carving. Then through a tiny reach bordered by the Nipa palm, whose graceful fronds, thirty or forty feet in length, spring directly from the stream, and we find ourselves in a sort of upper town, where the houses are built with seeming_indifference either in or out of the water. The place is the absolute perfection of beauty and untidiOverhead the eye rests on a wealth of - bamboo, banana, durian, jack-fruit, and the arrowy betel palm, with its golden egg-like nuts. In these happy climes man's needs grow at his very door. Cold and hunger, misery and want, are words without a meaning. Civilization is far off indeed, and

ness. verdure

for the moment, at least, we have no desire for it.


The history of the archipelago would consist of little else than a record of the constant civil wars which have raged be tween the natives and the hated Castilians since the time of their seizure of the Philippines, and their efforts to establish their power in Sulu. By an agreement between England, Spain, and Germany (in 1885), the sovereignty of Spain is recognized over the entire archipelago; i.e., all the islands lying between Mindanao and the coast of Borneo. Spain renounces all claim to north Borneo and a few small islands adjacent in favor of England, and acknowledges British sovereignty over all the islands within three miles of the mainland of north Borneo; and it is stipulated that there shall be perfect freedom of commerce and navigation in the Sulu archipelago. Of the various interesting matters which presented themselves to the travellers in the Sulu Islands we have no space to speak; we will only notice the tree which the Sulus plant in their cemetery near to the carved wooden monuments, this is a species of Michelia, called by the natives the dead man's flow

Notwithstanding the proximity of Borneo and the Philippine Islands, their flora and fauna are remarkably distinct. The former is almost typically Indo-Malayan in its zoological features; its flora shows an equally great similarity to that of the Malay peninsula. In its physical aspect also, Borneo, like Java and Sumatra, is connected with the mainland by a submarine bank of great extent, where the soundings are uniformly very shallow; so that at one period of the world's history Bor-er-tree. neo was united with and formed the southeastern limit of the great Asiatic continent. It is different with the Philippine Islands, which are markedly insular in their fauna and flora. Only one species of monkey inhabits the archipelago, while the species found in Borneo and other Indo-Malayan islands are numerous. Elephants, rhinoceros, tapirs, and tigers are absent, and there are only a few small rodents. Among the birds, many Malayan genera are un

Buddhist and Mohammedan alike plant the Champac above their dead; so should we, too, I think, did our climate permit it. Day after day throughout the year the tree blossoms. Day after day the delicately creamy corollas freshness and their fragrance, unlike any other fall entire upon the grave, retaining both their flower. For how long after they have closed over our loved ones are our graves decorated, I wonder? Here Nature, kindlier-hearted and unforgetful, year after year lays her daily offering of Champac blossoms upon the tomb.

At Kudat, in British north Borneo, | sociability are stamped on the pet's counwhere the party stayed a week, Dr. Guille- tenance. mard was able to add considerably to his zoological collection. In one of the morning's rambles along the pleasant jungle walks and long stretches of beach, fringed with cycas and casuarina, our author came across a small bird (Mixornis bornensis) fast entangled in the web of a spider of the genus Nephila.

The Marchesa visited Sumbawa and the neighboring islands of Flores and Samba, which lie east of Java. Sumbawa is about one hundred and seventy miles long, and is tolerably thickly populated, chiefly with people of Malay race. These islands are but little known to Europeans. They are Dutch possessions. There are two sultanates, Sumbawa and Bima, over which the Dutch exercise a certain amount of authority. A Kontroleur resident at Bima

These structures in the tropical forests of this part of the world are often of large size and great strength; but I was astonished to find that they were sufficiently strong to cap-is the sole European upon the island. A ture a bird which, in this instance, was as large as a goldfinch. For the moment my feelings of humanity overpowered me, and Í released the captive; but directly afterwards I regretted that I had done so, as the conclusion of the drama might have been of interest. The spider, though evidently somewhat deterred by his unusually large capture and the violent shakings of the web, showed no intention of flight, and quietly watched the issue of events close by.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

The "while man was an orang-utan, which Mr. Gueritz presented to the Marchesa. He was called Bongon, from the small village at the head of Marudu Bay, which the Marchesa visited. Bongon was a formidable-looking beast, and was enclosed in a large wooden cage, and at first he was fed through the bars with all possible precaution.

One day, however, he managed to escape, and we suddenly discovered that he was of the most harmless and tractable disposition. From that moment Bongon became the pet of the ship, and was spoilt alike by the crew and ourselves. Indirectly this was, no doubt, the cause of his death, a much-deplored event that took place some months later on the coast of Celebes.

There is an admirable engraving of Bongon on page 105 of our author's book. No doubt it is a very striking likeness; philosophic inquiry and good-humored

marked difference between the island of Sumbawa and the islands of the Sulu group at once struck the travellers; the surrounding country was parched greatly, and the trees were nearly as leafless as our own in winter. From April to July little or no rain falls, and the buffaloes move along in clouds of dust. This is due to the south-east winds, which sweep over the dry desert lands of Australia and parch up the countries that lie in their path as far as Java. It was the intention of the travellers to visit and, if possible, ascend Tambora, which was once the scene of one of the most appalling volcanic eruptions ever known. Owing to the dense and thorny jungle that clothed the sides of the mountain, and to the ab sence of the slightest track, the idea of an ascent was deemed nearly impracticable, or at least attended with too many difficulties, and was abandoned. The great eruption, of which Mr. Wallace has given an account, began on April 5, 1815, was most violent on the 11th and 12th, and did not entirely cease until the following July. The sound of the explosions was heard over eleven hundred miles in one direction, and over nine hundred in a nearly opposite one. Whirlwinds carried up men, horses, cattle, and whatever else came within their influence, into the air; large trees were torn up by the roots and covered the sea with floating timber; streams of lava flowed to the sea, destroying everything in their course. Ashes fell in thick quantities and rendered houses at Bima, more than sixty miles away, uninhabitable. Along the seacoast of Sumbawa and neighboring islands the sea suddenly rose to the height of from two to twelve feet, and vessels were forced from anchorage and driven ashore. The town of Tambora sank beneath the sea and remained permanently eighteen feet deep where there had been dry land before. Out of a population of twelve thousand persons inhabiting the province of Tam

« ElőzőTovább »