Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

unauthorized and extraordinary proceedings were made known in England, immediate orders were sent out to deliver up the place to its proper owner.

From the river Juba to Cape Guardafui, and along the coast to the entrance of the Red Sea, the country is inhabited by a race of people called Somauli, who profess to observe the precepts of the Koran: they are represented as a mild generation, of pastoral habits, and confined almost entirely to the coast, the interior being occupied by the tierce and untamable Gallas. From Guardafui, in lat. 3° N., to Mukdeesha, in 2° S., the whole line of coast is a naked and rocky shore, rising abruptly to the height of from two to four hundred feet, which, in advancing to the southward, declines into a sandy plain : in the whole extent of this portion of the coast there are neither bays, rivers, nor inlets.

In those tranquil seas, not far from the line, there occurred one of those miraculous escapes in boat navigation of which our naval chronicles contain so many examples. A distant white speck, about eighty miles from the coast, was seen in the horizon apparently approaching the ship: this was set down for an albatross, but it presently turned out to be a boat:—

'As she approached, we perceived her to be a large canoe, with a sail formed by a small piece of blue dungaree and an old cotton sheet. In her sat four black men, haggard and emaciated in their appearance, while a fifth lay stretched at full length under the seats, apparently in a dying state. They lowered their sail, and seemed to hesitate whether or not they should venture on board; upon which we endeavoured to remove their fears by friendly motions to advance, and by means of one of our seamen, who spoke a little Arabic. We imagined, of course, that they belonged to the coast, but by venturing too far out had been blown off. To our astonishment they replied in French, inquiring in a most anxious manner if we were of that nation, and on receiving an answer to the contrary, they uttered a cry of joy, and paddled alongside as fast as their little remaining strength Would allow.

'Upon coming on board, it was evident that

"Famine, despair, cold, thirst, and heat Had done their work on them by turns j" and it was some time before they were sufficiently recovered to make us acquainted with their history.'—vol. i. p. 377.

It was simply this. They were runaway slaves, escaped from the tyranny of a French owner of the Seychelles. They started with a little fish, rice, and about a gallon of water, which, ignorant of their course, and thoughtless of the future, they had consumed in the first few days, and were actually, when picked up, in the last stage of starvation. 'Seventeen notches in the side of their canoe indicated the mauy days of misery and distress they had passed during this

voyage voyage of seven hundred and fifty miles. The poor negro in the bottom of the boat expired in less than an hour after his hopes had vainly been awakened to life and liberty.'

Capt. Owen, during the completion of the survey of the eastern coast of Africa, took measures for examining the western coast of Madagascar, which was but partially and very imperfectly known. On the north-west coast of this great island, which extends from Cape Amber to Cape St. Andrew, he surveyed several commodious, safe, and extensive bays and harbours, the principal of which are Passandava, Nareenda, Majambo, Bembatooka, and Boyauna. Many large rivers fall into those bays, whose sources are no doubt in the chain of mountains that, running north and south, divide Madagascar into two portions. The remaining part of the western coast, from Cape St. Andrew to Cape St. Mary, an extent of ten degrees of latitude, presents a long-continued rocky or sandy shore (with the exception of St. Augustin Bay), bound with reefs and islands of coral:—

'The coast from St. Augustin's to Boyauna Bay is almost an unvaried, low, marshy plain, irrigated by barred rivers, bounded by a line of sharp-pointed coral masses, uncovered when the tide is out, and in two or three places a complete archipelago of rocky islets, assuming a variety of whimsical shapes, among which that of the cauliflower appeared the most predominant.'—vol. ii. p. 97.

At Bembatooka Bay were three American vessels actively engaged in completing their cargoes, which consisted almost wholly of jerked beef which they prepared themselves, preserving the tallow and curing the hides on the spot. In slaughtering the beasts, which they procure for a trifle, 'the heads, hearts, offal, and bones, are thrown into the middle of the town, and there left to putrify in the sun, filling the air with most disgusting odours, highly productive of disease; the heads and hearts of the bullocks were, however, very acceptable to the surveying party, who had been so long on salt provisions.

The details which Capt. Owen gives of his intercourse with Radania would have been interesting if published at the time, but after the lapse of so many years, and the information which has been conveyed through so many channels to the public, respecting the progress of this extraordinary reformer of his countrymen, they do not seem to call for particular observation.

The little squadron, on taking its final leave of Madagascar, proceeded once more, as if spell-bound, to that fatal bay of Delagoa. A party set out to ascend one of the rivers, for the purpose of hunting the hippopotamus. VVhilst they were in quest of the haunts of these huge animals, a shrill angry scream reached their ears, and presently Mr. Barrette, a midshipman, rushed

from from the reeds, his face covered with blood, calling loudly for assistance to Lieutenant Arlett, who had just been attacked by an elephant. The party proceeded to the spot, and found their unfortunate comrade stretched motionless on his back, covered with blood and dirt, and his eyes starting from their sockets, in all the expressive horror of a violent death. It was some time before he showed any symptoms of life; they succeeded, however, in carrying him on board, where he gradually recovered, and when he became sufficiently collected, he gave an account of what befcl him, which shows the extraordinary sagacity of the elephant, even in its wild state. He, at the first approach of the animal, thought he had stumbled upon an enormous hippopotamus, the object of their pursuit, but was soon undeceived.

'The animal, which appeared highly irritated at the intrusion, waved its trunk in the air, and the moment he spoke, reared upon its hind legs, turned short round, and, with a shrill, passionate cry, rushed after him, bearing down the opposing reeds in his way, while Lieutenant Arlett vainly attempted to effect his escape. For a short time he had hopes of eluding his pursuer, as the animal perceived one of the seamen mounted on the top of a tree, about twenty feet high and three in circumference, menacing him by his voice and gestures, while preparing to fire. The elephant turned short round, and, shrieking with rage, made a kind of spring against the tree, as if to reach the object of his attack, when his ponderous weight bore the whole to the ground, but fortunately without hurting the man, who slipped among the reeds. The ferocious animal still followed him, foaming with rage, to the rising hank of the river; the man crying loudly, "An elephant! an elephant!" until, closely pressed by his pursuer, they both came upon the top of the slope, where the party who had heard his cries were prepared, and instantly fired a volley as the elephant appeared. This made him return with increased fury to Mr. Arlett, who, in his eagerness to escape, stumbled and fell, the huge beast running over him and severely bruising his ancle.

'As soon as he had passed, Mr. Arlett arose, and, limping with pain, attempted once more to retreat, but the animal returned to the attack; his trunk was flourished in the air, and the next moment the unfortunate officer was struck senseless to the ground. On recovering himself, his situation appeared hopeless, his huge antagonist standing over him, chafing and screaming with rage, pounding the earth with his feet, and ploughing it with his tusks. When the party first saw them, Mr. Arlett was lying between the elephant's legs, and had it been the intention of the animal to destroy him, placing a foot upon his senseless body would in a moment have crushed him to atoms; but it is probable that his object was only to punish and alarm, not to kill—such conjecture being perfectly in accordance with the character of this noble but revengeful beast.

'It appeared that the elephant, on his last return to Mr. Arlett, had filled his trunk with mud, which, having turned him on his back, and forced open his mouth, he blew down his throat, injecting a large quantity into the stomach. It was this that produced the inflated appearance of Mr. Arlett's countenance, for he was almost in a state of suffocation, and for three days after this adventure, he occasionally vomited quantities of blue sand.'—vol. ii. pp. 211, 212.

The consequence of this last visit to Delagoa Bay, and of the hunting excursion, is thus stated by Captain Owen :—

'The fatality of the Delagoa fever was here further exemplified by the death of our purser, Mr. Thomas Farley, and Lieutenant Richard Nash, of the Royal Navy, a gentleman, who, after invaliding from His Majesty's sloop Espiegle, sailed as a passenger on board the Leven, for the purpose of obtaining a knowledge of surveying. It was supposed that he imbibed the fever whilst engaged in the hippopotamus hunt up the Dundas River, and Mr. Farley, by sleeping two nights on shore: both continued in good health until after our arrival at the Cape, a period of three weeks, when they were attacked nearly at the same time, and died within a few days of each other.'—vol. ii. p. 223.

The results of this expedition, so important to hydrographical science and navigation, are thus summed up by Captain Owen:—

'During the five years which we had been absent, we had traced about thirty thousand miles of coast line, which was transferred by measure to paper, occupying nearly three hundred large sheets. Most of the details of this work were before but imperfectly known, and many we were entirely ignorant of; so that at one view it is shown in how great a degree navigation has profited by the expedition. But, to form a just idea of the magnitude and character of the work, the charts and plans made during the voyage should be referred to, nearly the whole of which were furnished to the Admiralty in duplicate. In the course of our service, we were called upon in numerous instances to correct the errors of former navigators, and fix the latitudes and longitudes of places that had not before been determined.'—vol. ii. pp. 376, 377.

It is much to be regretted, however, that, in traversing such an immense extent of coast-line almost unknown, and wholly unexplored, objects of natural history should not have engaged the particular attention of some one iu the expedition, who might have been charged with the duty of collecting whatever appeared to be curious. It required not a professed naturalist to do this, and to preserve specimens. The botanist, as we have seen, fell an early victim to one of those pestiferous rivers, in which so many of the officers and crew perished. We are fully aware that the business of marine-surveying, and laying down the results of

observations observations on paper, afford full occupation to the officers and crews generally of small vessels; but the surgeons and assistantsurgeons have plenty of time on their hands, and we know not in what manner they could spend their leisure hours with more amusement to themselves, and greater advantage to the public, than in the investigation of the wonderful objects of the creation. There is one subject in particular, that on the present expedition was constantly before their eyes, and one as to which our information is very imperfect—the objects themselves most wonderful, but the manner and the means of their production, the creatures even by whom they are produced, and their whole economy, so enveloped with the veil of mystery as to be very little understood. It is scarcely necessary to say, that we allude to the multitude of coral islands and reefs, which were found to extend, on the present voyage, over a very considerable portion of the ' thirty thousand miles of coast-line' which the expedition traversed. The Seychelles and Comoro Islands, almost the whole of the western coast of Madagascar, and the eastern coast of Africa, from Delagoa Bay to the entrance of the Red Sea, are fenced in, as it were, with one continuous chain of coral reefs. We are apt to regard with wonder the stupendous results of the art and industry of man, whether exemplified in the massy temples and pyramids of Egypt, the gigantic wall of China, the island-raised Breakwater in Plymouth Sound, or the splendid ruins of Greece, and the two yet perfect and magnificent temples of London and of Rome; but after all, what are they, or all of them, whether regarded in point of magnitude or of symmetry, when put in comparison with the creations of the minute and insignificant worms which fabricate these coral reefs and islands, and of whom they are at once the habitations and the tombs! One single group of these lithophytes would be sufficient to supply materials for all the monuments which the art and industry of man have ever raised. They are so numerous in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and so uninterruptedly increasing, that in the course of ages these seas must be filled up, and land must usurp the place of water! This result may not take place in ten thousand, or ten times ten thousand years, but come it must.

Art. VI.—Great Britain in 1833. By Baron d'Haussez, ExMinister of Marine under King Charles X. 2 vols. London. 1833.

TT is curious that so many of the last ministry of Charles X. should have become authors since their fall; and it is satisfactory

to

« ElőzőTovább »