The Canarians still show with pride, the British flags which they look on this occasion, depending from the dome of their principal church; they also show the long-boat of Nelson's ship, on board of which he lost his arm. In this honourable defence the crews of several French ships distinguished themselves, who at the time of the appearance of the English, hastened to take arms, and who contributed much, by their example, to excite the courage of the militia and troops of the country.
Since this attack of Nelson on the Canaries, the garrisons of these islands have been considerably reinforced.
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At the time we were there, they reckoned regular troops well disciplined and maintained; most of these troops are at Teneriffe, which can also furnish near militia. Independent of this increase in the number of their troops, an attack on Santa Cruz would now be very difficult, from the commanding situation of a new fort, which the last governor built on a steep rock, and the batteries of which are pointed downwards to the roadstead, and cross the fire of the square tower which defends the mole.
The nature of our mission, the good intelligence between the two governments, the late successes of France, the recent peace with America, all concurred to ensure us the most obliging and flattering reception from the Spaniards. Our brave allies were particularly pleased in interrogating us on the subject of our last campaign in Italy, the passage of the Alps, the battle of Marengo, and the rapid succession of prodigies of which we happened to give them the first account. All seemed to vie with each other in shewing every demonstration of their respect and admiration for France.
Among those with whom I had the honour of being acquainted at Teneriffe, and from whom I received particular attention, I ought to mention the duke of Bethancourt, colonel of the Ultonia regiment, a descendant of the famous Jean de Bethancourt, a Norman nobleman, who was at once the conqueror and legislator of the Canaries, one of the greatest men of the fifteenth century, which was so prolific prodigies.
John of Bethancourt had all the heroism, all the romantic enthusiasm of his time, without its ignorance, fanaticism and ferocity. His memory, eternally dear to the Canarians, will be, for his latest descendants, an unalienable title to the most flattering consideration; and the man of whom I speak, is entitled to the esteem of the worthy, for his own particular merits.
The marquis de Nava possesses a beautiful botanic garden at the Orotava; this nobleman dedicates a part of his large income to naturalize in these isles every species of vegetables which might extend their commerce, enrich their soil, adorn their vallies, and clothe their naked and barren mountains with verdure. The marquis de Nava ought to secure the esteem and notice of all good men, as one of the benefactors of his country.
Savignon, physician to the government, it much respected for his general character, and his extensive knowledge in his profession. Cologant, in whose respectable family, benevolence to French travellers seems to be hereditary, gave us every information on the subject of the last eruption of the volcano of Cahorra; and also lent us a tinted drawing, which he had himself made, of the appearance of the volcano at the time: On my return to Europe, happening to notice this representation in a work of M. Bory, I was sorry not to see the addition of the name of the real author, because omissions of this kind, however involuntary they may be, are often sufficient cause of changing, or even destroying the liberal confidence of strangers towards European travellers, a confidence of which I have received so many generous proofs in the course of this voyage.
During our stay at Teneriffe, the barometer continued without any particular change at from 28 i 3 l to 28 i 4 l ; the thermometer on board our ships in the shade at noon, varied from 17 to 20, and gave me then for the mean Of all the hypotheses to which the traditions of the ancients on the Canaries have given rise, doubtlessly the most singular, and the most generally admitted, is that of the existence of a large continent, of which these isles were a part; and which, under the name of Atlantides, then occupied the vast ocean which now separates.
Africa from the New World. This opinion has been maintained by some travellers, who are themselves deceived by the authority of Plato, or by the sophisms of several modern writers. Volumes of compilations and citations have been made on this subject, and yet the truth remains still in obscurity, and we are bewildered in dissertations and hypotheses, instead of comparing the actual physical constitution of the countries which they pretend were formerly connected. In this last point of view, M. Bailly, one of our fellow-travellers, considered the Canaries, and discussed the important question of the existence of the Atlantides.
I shall here present the interesting observations of this enlightened mineralogist. Bailly , from the authority of Plato, have spoken of the existence of the Atlantides, the greater part of whom, who admit the fact, affect to see in the Canary isles, described by the ancients under the name of the Fortunate islands, the remains of that land which, according to many, could not have occupied a less space than what is comprised between Africa and America, and probably made part of these two continents uniting them by its isthmus.
The chain of mountains described by the name of Mount Atlas and which stretches along the north part of Africa, serves very much to support their opinions on this subject, for they see only in the isles of which we are treating, the continuation of that chain, which by an inconsiderable winding could have been connected with the Azores.
They might as easily have proved a connection between the Cape de Verd islands, and the mountains of the interior of Africa. The same authority which thus confounded the Canaries, the Azores; and the Cape de Verd islands, might have justified the reunion of all the other Atlantic isles to the lost continent, such as Tristan d'Acunha, Ascension, St. The physical state of the pretended remains of the Atlantides, and of the continents to which we would connect or assimilate them, has never been compared; it is this circumstance which I propose here to point out.
These isles appear to have risen from the bottom of a deep sea; their coasts are very steep, and almost perpendicular; the channels which separate them are unfathomable; the banks and shoals which are so common in other archipelagos, are not to be found among these. If sometimes an isolated rock is observed, it either seems to be attached to some neighbouring island, or else it is entirely distinct; in either case, the same observations which apply to other larger Atlantic islands will also apply to these. There is not to be seen in any of them granites or real porphyrys, or any such primitive stones; and the calcareous substances which are found in some of them are merely shells collected together, or other similar productions.
From the same facts we may also conclude, that the hypotheses on which they attempt to establish the opinion that the Atlantic isles are the remains of an ancient continent, is not to be supported, for all these islands being exclusively volcanic, it follows that the Atlantide must have been a continent entirely volcanic, or else that the volcanic parts of this continent were spared in the catastrophe which swallowed all the rest: ON the 13th of November, in the evening, after shipping the provisions for which we had staid at the Canaries, we prepared to continue our voyage.
At four o'clock we passed the little town of Candelaria, celebrated for the miracles of the virgin of that name. All this part of the island of Teneriffe appears to be as wild and barren as the coast of Anaga. In the evening we discovered the isles of Gomera and Palma, which we left to the west, and passed in the night.
On the 15th we were already under the tropic of Cancer.
Op the 18th we concluded ourselves to be in the latitude of the Cape de Verd islands. It is worthy of remark, that admiral Dentrecasteaux, nine years before, endeavouring to follow a like course to cross the equator by 16 or 18, experienced the same obstacles, and was, like us, driven by the winds and currents as far as under the 26th degree of west longitude.
On the 30th of December we passed, for the first time, the tropic of Capricorn. On the 3d of February we doubled the Cape of Good Hope, at the distance of eight or ten leagues. We easily distinguished the mountain called the Table, notwithstanding the fogs with which it was at that time enveloped. From the 3d to the 4th of March we experienced sudden and violent squalls, which, however, did not continue more than 24 hours, but they were so violent that the barometer during the time sunk 10 inches 8 lines.
The Naturalist received some damage in her sails. We now found ourselves off the Mozambique channel, a latitude where violent storms are very frequent. On the 10th of March we again crossed the tropic of Capricorn. At length, on the 13th, in the evening, we were in sight of the mountains of the Isle of France, after a voyage of one hundred and forty-five days, reckoning from the time of our departure from Europe, which made this one of the longest passages we could make in a voyage of the kind.
The obstinacy of our commander in ranging the coast of Africa, was the chief cause of this delay, and as it had, throughout the whole of our operations, the most fatal influence, I think I ought to dwell an instant on the subject. Two courses naturally present themselves to the navigator who, on leaving Europe, intends to double the Cape of Good Hope: By the other course, on the contrary, after having reached the latitude of the Cape de Verd islands, steering to the west, and making for the eastern coast of America, so as not to cross the line but in 25, or even 30 degrees longitude west from the meridian of Paris.
Being arrived at about the 33d degree of south latitude, we at first found the wind N. Doubtless if we had only to compare the absolute distance of these two courses, we should not hesitate to chase the coasting voyage along the shores of Africa; but the well-informed navigator takes into his calculation other circumstances than the idle consideration of relative geographical positions: Hence all these inconveniences are attached to the coasting of the N.
In fact, experience teaches us that the currents which prevail in this part of the Atlantic, set to the N. All well-informed navigators agree on the subject of these facts, and capt. Dampier, whose writings are the fruit of a long experience, and extremely valuable for their exactness, has particularly developed this subject in his treatise on the winds. By the course, standing out to sea, the currents which are so fatal to the coaster, are favourable to those who bear away to the west: Whether the shelter of a large continent produces or occasions them in its vicinity, or that this phenomenon may be ascribed to any other physical cause, I cannot decide: It is for good reasons that experienced navigators prefer the western course, although it appears to be the longest; that this course is certainly the best, has been sufficiently proved, ever since the first voyages of Schouten.
This celebrated traveller relates, that during his first voyage from Europe to the Indies, in the year , the captain of the vessel in which he had embarked, and who was an experienced seaman, had a dispute with the commander of another ship belonging to the Dutch company, which sailed as consort with him to Batavia. Schouten's captain being influenced by the reasons I have stated, chose to steer to the west; the other, on the contrary, deceived by appearances and his own inexperience, persisted that it was best to lengthen the coast of Africa.
Thus, divided in opinion, each pursued a different course; but the experiment was so much in favour of Schouten's captain, that he gained near two months on the inexperienced coaster. Farther, it is not only in doubling the Cape of Good Hope that they have occasion to fear the currents, and the calms on the coast of Africa; the voyages even which arc: This route, he observes, is that of the most able navigators, and however long it may appear, it is however much shorter in reality, for those who cross the equator too far to the east to coast the shores of Africa, and stand first to the N.
He relates, among other examples or this sort, that of a vessel, which, detained by the calms, and obstructed by the currents, remained eleven months in its course from France to the coast of Angola. In a word, if it was not foreign to the nature of my work to prolong the discussion, it would be easy to produce such a number of facts and observations in favour of the course to the west, as would amount to demonstration; but it is sufficient for my present purpose, to enable the reader to judge of the extent of the fault of our commander, in persisting to steer along the coast of Africa.
We shall soon find, that from this preposterous obstinacy, which was necessarily followed by a consequence plain to foresee and easy to evade, he was forced from the beginning of the voyage to disturb and discompose all the regularity of the operations which had been prescribed for him to follow: Thus, in the execution of the most important undertakings, the slightest faults produce consequences at once grievous and irreparable! Doubtless, the relation of a passage to the Indies seems to promise but little that can now be interesting, or to furnish any new observations at a time when so many vessels of every nation have so often repeated the voyage in the course of the last three centuries.
This, however, is not the fact, and to prove it, we have only to cast an eye over the many relations of the sort that have been written at different periods, We shall there see, that almost every navigator occupied exclusively on the most general or trivial objects, has only repeated what his predecessors had said a hundred times before him, neglecting every new subject of observation which this immense scene continually presents, comprising at once the whole length of the Atlantic ocean, the Indian sea, the two temperate zones, and the whole of the equinoctial line.
Are we not still unacquainted with the depths of the seas, and the relative proportions of the saltness of their waters? Are we not still uncertain of the real cause of the phosphorescence of the ocean, a phenomenon so astonishing, so common, and nevertheless so little understood: In extending my researches to each of the subjects I have mentioned, I have wished rather to point out this new pursuit, which I do not pretend to have gone through; but the results I have gained from my first attempts appear to be of such utility, that I think it my duty to give a slight sketch of them here, reserving all the details of the observations of which they are the fruit, for a future time and for a future work.
THE meteorological observations were made with the thermometers of Dolland and Mossy; barometers made by the last mentioned artist, and hygrometers by Richer. To compare them as exactly with each other as possible, I made it an invariable rule from the beginning of our voyage to take an observation four times each day, at the hours most opposite; that is to say, at six in the morning and at six in the evening, at midnight, and at twelve at noon in the open air, and on the poop of our vessel, and as often besides as I conveniently could.
This first series of my labours furnished me with the the following general results:. We shall now proceed to describe the state of the hygrometer, being the first time that this valuable instrument crossed the seas: We proceed next to the state of the barometer. That instrument in this respect is eminently useful to mariners, and our own experience leaves us no doubt on this head. It appears as much more considerable as the other becomes greater.
The winds become lighter and more constant; the action of all the instruments becomes at the same time more regular, and their variations in consequence are less. UNDER similar circumstances, and at the time of my meteorological observations, I entered on a course of experiments on the subject of the agreement between the temperature of the sea on its surface, with that of the atmosphere; the results of which experiments I have made known to the Institution. With an apparatus, such as I judged most proper for the purpose, I attempted to make, at the same time with my friend and colleague, M.
Depuch, some observations on the temperature of the ocean, at great depths from the surface, and soon began to doubt the gradual and progressive coldness of the waters of the sea, in proportion as we penetrated deeper into its abyss. I shall have occasion, in the sequel, to recur again to this part of my labours.
Among the most important observations on the physical history of the sea, we must doubtless reckon those whose object is to determine the relative and absolute proportion of the saltness of the waters in different latitudes, and at different depths; unto this time, however, few experiments of the sort have been made, and even these first attempts appear to me to be totally wrong in their primary principles, and not of any essential use in their results.
Humboldt, in my opinion, is a method incapable of furnishing any given rule, because of the immense quantity of animalcule, often microscopic, which breed And multiply in sea-water, and which, though themselves distinct from the salts, perhaps do not in a less degree affect the specific weight of the liquid in which they are suspended, or rather, in a state of solution, on account of the gelatinous mucus which transudes from every part of their surface, and which gives to the purest sea-water that character of viscosity which it is always found to possess.
To obviate these difficulties, it was my intention to collect, in every five degrees of latitude, a sufficient quantity of sea water, pounds for example, to filter it through paper, and thus determine the specific weight with the areometer of Nicholson; a very defective method, as I have before observed, but which, being only accessary to my other experiments, was so much the more useful, as the water, by filtering, would be previously separated from the greatest part of other substances not connected with it.
After this first operation, I proposed to put the water into one of the alembics which we had from government, and to carry on the evaporation to the point of drawing together as much as possible all the saline substances which it might contain in solution, and then reuniting the remainder of each of these distillations, in one or more vessels, hermetically sealed, proposed at my return to confide such valuable objects of experiment to M. Fourcroy, who would doubtless have analysed them correctly.
This method of investigation, independent of the exact results which it appears to be capable of demonstrating, has the additional advantage of requiring only a succession of operations very easy to be pursued even on board a ship, and it the same time to render unnecessary all those minute details of fine analysis which cannot be properly attended to in the midst of the inconvenience that is necessarily attendant on a voyage.
The phosphorescence of the waters of the ocean is another curious and interesting subject of astonishment and investigation, and which has, ever since the days of Aristotle and Pliny, engaged the attention of the voyager. However extraordinary the slight sketch which I have here given of the principal phenomena of the phosphorescence of the sea, may appear to the reader, there is not one single word that I have not borrowed from the observations of those not liable to either enthusiasm or exaggeration. How numerous and varied are these phenomena!
Here the surface of the ocean sparkles and shines as far as the eye can reach, like a sheet of silver, when electrified in the dark—there it unfolds its waters in immense sheets of sulphur and flaming bitumen; in another place if resembles a sea of milk, the extremities of which are not to be perceived. Bernardin de Saint Pierre has described with enthusiasm those shining stars which seem to dart by thousands from the bottom of the waters, and of which, he justly adds, those of our artificial fire-works are but a feeble imitation.
Others have made mention of those masses of fire which roll on the waves like so many enormous red balls, and of which we ourselves saw some that did not appear to be less than twenty feet in diameter. Many seamen have observed fiery parallelograms, cones of light inverted, whirling about on their points, shining garlands and luminous serpents.
In some places of the seas are to be perceived sparks of fire springing from the surface; in another part bodies of light and phosphorus are seen moving on the waves in the midst of darkness.
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Sometimes the ocean appears as if ornamented by an immense steep of moving light, whose undulating action seems to reach the edge of the horizon; all these phenomena, and many others which I forbear to mention, however marvellous they may appear, are nevertheless incontestible. They have been many times described by navigators of undoubted veracity, and I have myself observed most of the appearances which I have described, in different parts of the seas.
How many theories have been written in explanation of these prodigies. Sometimes, the supposed spirit of the salts, the bitumen, the petroleum, and animal oils, have been mentioned as the causes of these phenomena; sometimes, the spawn of the fishes, and other marine productions; the remains of marine animals have been thought sufficient to produce these extraordinary effects: Some naturalists have admitted a kind of moving putrefaction in the superficial beds of the sea, while some have thought it to proceed from the motion of light and shade; and others have considered it as occasioned exclusively by reflection.
Electricity has also supplied some celebrated voyagers with ingenious conjectures on the subject; and more recently, phosphorus and similar productions have opened a new field for new hypotheses; some have supposed these phenomena totally distinct, others have attributed them to the influence of hydrogen. In a word, there is no sort of conjecture, probable or even absurd, which has not been adopted, and nevertheless the best naturalists remain still in uncertainty of the real cause of such grand phenomena of nature. In the physical and meteorological part of my work, I shall have occasion more particularly to discuss each of these theories, and I hope I shall easily demonstrate the futility of each of them, one only excepted.
I shall here merely mention a few of the results of my experiments and long study on this subject. My numerous observations, and the beautiful collection of coloured representations of phosphoric animals, by M. Lesueur, will, I hope, place this beyond a doubt. However various my physical and meteorological observations may have been, they did not occupy the whole of my time; so many undisturbed hours may be devoted to study when on a voyage, far from the noise of cities, and entirely abstracted from all the duties belonging to family or to friendship, and even from every connection with so, tidy.
Cuvier, whom we may esteem as the author of this classification of the animal kingdom, and whose advice and instructions served me as a rule in my investigations. But it shall suffice here to sketch slightly the picture of some few of these animals, so long neglected by naturalists, and which, from the strangeness of their form, the singularity of their organization, the beauty of their colours, and the variety of their character, so well merit the attention of the natural philosopher.
At the head of this class of animals I shall place the Physalis, a kind of zoophyte, which, by means of a membrane or bladder, similar to that of certain fish, floats always on the surface of the water. A kind of membraneous muscle in folds or plaits fixed longitudinally on the back of the airy, vesicle, furnishes the animal with a real sail, which it can at pleasure expand or contract, in suitable proportions to the force or direction of the wind. This vindictive animal spreads on the surface of the waves its sinewy snares or nets, several feet in length, and of a pure and lively ultramarine blue.
Woe to the hand which attempts to seize them the sensation of burning is not quicker than that of the venom which is concealed in these instruments of, prey. This sensation is attended with an intolerable smarting in the part touched by them, with a kind of numbness or stupefaction of the whole limb, such are the almost instantaneous effects of the slightest touch of the physalis. Sometimes an appearance on the skin, similar to that produced by stinging nettles, is the consequence; this is accompanied by extreme pain, which generally continues twenty-four or thirty-six hours.
What can we think of the nature of this subtile poison No direct experiment has yet been made on the subject, and all that I can say from my own experience, is, that when this animal was plunged in water strongly acidulated, with any kind of acid, but especially with the sulphuric, or muriatic, the beautiful blue colour of the sinewy nets became immediately red, as if the principle of the colour was really of a vegetable nature.
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I ought also to add, that the poison seemed to exert a more particular stupefying power on those animals which seemed to be the food of the physalis, for it is impossible otherwise to conceive how an animal so small, could contain in its nets, and in some sort devour alive, fish of four or five inches in length, as we had often opportunity to observe. In devouring its food, the physalis makes use of a prodigious number of suckers or feelers which depend from the lower part of the airy vesicle, and which is surrounded by the venomous snares already described.
Next to the Physalis may be mentioned the Physsophoris, a gelatinous and soft species of animals, of the most beautiful colours, which support themselves on the surface of the waves by means of a vesicle shaped like a very small olive, with a thick gelatinous coat or skin, the inside of which is generally filled with air.
When the animal would dive into the ocean, immediately a valve opens, the air with which the vesicle is filled is let out, the specific weight of the animal increases, and it plunges into the depths of the waters; when the animal would again rise to the surface, a new bubble of air seems to swell out, or rather to be formed instantaneously, the small reservoir is filled afresh, the valve shuts, the physsophoris again is lessened in weight, and rises again on the bosom of the waves. In the Vellelles, the next of the class, the means differ, but the results are the same.
On the hack of the animal, resembles the form of a little skiff overturned, there rises obliquely a kind of crest, extremely thin, light, transparent and cartilaginous; this is a large sail, which serves the animal to direct its motions, to alter or hasten them; always close-hauled, this beautiful azure vessel makes its way through the water, changes its course at pleasure, and rarely fails to catch its prey, which it holds fast in its numerous nets or snares with which it is surrounded, and soon devours by the help of the innumerable suckers which depend from its lower surface.
The elegant shape of this animal, the transparency of the sail, the beautiful azure blue colour with which it is adorned, all unite to make it one of the most beautiful species of the class to which it belongs, and it is very picturesque to observe in calm weather, thousands of these zoophytes manoeuvring on the surface of seas, which seem like so many beautiful flotillas in miniature, directed according to the principles or our naval tactics. Their substance, more transparent than the purest crystal, is generally of a fine rose colour, opal, or azure; their form is always more or less spheroidical; eight or ten longitudinal, sides are disposed in a circumference, each formed by a prodigious number of small transverse leaves or folds, excessively thin, and capable of astonishing motion; these constitute the essential organs of the animal's, movements.
It is with the help of these small oars, moving at pleasure, that the animal guides itself towards its prey, escapes from its enemies, whirls about on its own axis if I may be allowed the expression ; in a word, performs all its necessary evolutions. How shall I be able to describe the next species of zoophyte, which like a beautiful garland of azure-coloured crystal, moves on the surface of the waves, successively raising its transparent folds, which resemble the leaves of ivy; its beautiful rose-coloured feelers are stretched oat, seeking the prey on which the animal feeds, which is no sooner caught than it is enveloped in a fatal net.
This zoophyte immediately contracts itself, forming a sort of circle around the animal it has conquered; thousands of suckers, like long leeches, spring at the same instant from under the leaves which I have just described, and which in a state of repose serve to cover and protect these suckers. In few moments the prey, however large, is devoured. I cannot avoid mentioning the admirable phosphoric property so general among most of the animals of this class, and which in that I have now described, is more lively and brilliant than in others, and causes it to appear in the midst of darkness like a beautiful garland of flame and phosphorus!
In what terms shall I describe those Janthines of a purple colour, which move on the surface of the sea, suspended by a white bunch of airy vesicles! Or what can I say of those numerous legions of Salpa, of rose-colour, azure, or opal, which form banks of thirty or forty leagues in extent, and which glitter in the midst of darkness! The substance of these animals is so brilliant, even in the darkest night, that it has the appearance of red hot iron! Nor should I omit to speak of the beautiful Glaucus, of a fine ultramarine blue, with a stripe of silver on the back: Cuvier for whom I had intended several of the curious marine animals considers as constituting a new order in the class to which they belong; these have their organs of respiration in the hind part of the back!
These are to be seen playing on the stormy waves of the southern ocean. As they unfold their beautiful purple fins, they might be taken for so many little tortoises in miniature, and indeed by this name they are generally called by the seamen. I shall venture to speak of those azure-coloured Porpites, in the membraneous head of which species, the learned M. Cuvier thought he had discovered the type of some kinds of nummulites, with concentric spires, which are found in a state of petrifaction on the summit of the highest mountains of our continent.
But I must conclude this subject; for to point out only the new and interesting objects which we collected during this long from Europe to the Indies, would exceed the bounds which I have prescribed to myself. It most suffice to add, that our collection consisted of upwards of eighty new species of different animals; and that among these is a remarkable fish, not only for being variegated with brilliant gold and purple, but also for the pustulous conic vesicles with which its teguments are bristled, and which compel the animal to float continually on the surface of the seas.
AFTER so long a voyage, the sight of any portion of land Is doubtless delightful to the traveller; but how much more does it appear interesting, when he knows that he shall find on it the men, manners and language of his native country. Besides, the picturesque appearance of the Isle of France, the singular shapes of its mountains, the verdure which clothes the whole surface of the island, the numerous habitations which he discovers at a distance, all contribute something to the charm of having reached the first goal or resting place of his voyage. The prevailing winds at the Isle of France are, the E.
Those which blow from the N. But it is said that these hurricanes happen but seldom since the lands have been so much cleared. The hurricanes of these latter days, which have been most spoken of, are those which happened in the years , and The first took place on the 15th of December, when the sea rose three feet eight inches above the level of the highest tides; the barometer sunk W, 3 lines; and there fell in the course of twenty-four hours, 73 lines of rain water; and independent of the thunder and lightning, which was almost incessant the whole tithe of this dreadful hurricane, there appeared a meteor like a globe of fire, which followed the direction of the wind, which was then N.
This meteor was very high in the atmosphere, and appeared, half as large as the moon. The second hurricane, still more disastrous than the former, happened at the same time in the month, namely, on the 15th of December, ; it lasted about twenty three hours, during which time the barometer sunk 14, 9 lines; and the mercury in the tube was so strongly agitated, that oscillations were considerable, and there rose from its surfaces sparks of pale light, which filled all that was empty of the tube. The sea raged horribly, and the waves were so impetuous, that several ships were driven on the rocks and wrecked; some were even overset that were at anchor in the middle of the port.
The quarters of Mocha, of Flacq, of Pamplemousses, and the Riviere du Rempart, were more particularly devastated by this last hurricane, during which there fell lines of rain water. Notwithstanding the momentaneous disasters which are the consequences of these hurricanes, experience seems to prove that they are a real benefit to the Country; and that this sort of periodical revolution gives new strength to the soil, and makes the atmosphere more salubrious.
Thus Nature, benevolent in all her works, makes evil itself one of the most powerful agents in producing good. Earthquakes happen but seldom in the Isle of France; but in the morning, on the fourth of August, , two strong shocks were felt, which, however, did not do any damage. As in our own climates, it thunders in the hottest months, that is to say, it generally happens in October; November, December, and January.
The mean term of nine years' observation on this subject, gives about fifteen days of thunder in each month. Hail is a phenomenon which rarely happens, but, nevertheless, there are same instances; for example, it hailed in the plains of Mocha on the 10th of December, Rain falls very frequently, and in great abundance.
In the year 7 of the revolution, they were reckoned at ; in the year 8, ; which, on an average, makes above half the days of the year rainy. This frequent rain, the height of the mountains, the forests which cover the summits, and the basaltic nature of the soil, which prevents the earth imbibing much of the water to any great depth, seem to be considered as the chief causes of the multiplicity of the rivers, of which there are above forty, independent of smaller streams, springs, and numerous torrents in every part of the island; the rivers, indeed, are not very considerable, but they nevertheless contain an immense quantity of water, if we suppose them collected together in one mass.
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This great number of rivers and streams power, fully assists the natural fertility of the soil, and that strength of vegetation, of which we cannot have a perfect idea in mates not so much favoured by nature. However abundant the rains may still be in, the Isle of France, it is the general opinion of the country, that they have much diminished in the course of the last twenty-five or thirty years, and the clearing of the lauds, which latterly is particular, has been done without proper consideration, is universally thought to be the principal cause of this diminution.
And the oldest and best-informed agriculturists assert; that the rivers convey much less water than formerly; that several springs have dried up, and that vegetation is not so quick; and this last effect is ascribed not so much to the soil being exhausted, as to the deficiency of its natural humidity. It is certainly not impossible, that the inconsiderate act of clearing the forests may have been one great cause of the diminution of the quantity of rain; but it is also possible, that if the quantity be still the same as formerly, it may not now be sufficient for the vegetation, because the first effect of the denudation of the soil, is to occasion a quicker and greater evaporation.
But whatever weight this last observation may have, it is nevertheless incontestable, that the clearing of the lands, has been followed in most parts of the island by the effects above mentioned. In the environs of the port N. Thus, in all this part of the island they are generally in the habit of lighting fires in winter; the evenings particularly are very cool, and I have myself felt cold for want, of more covering in the night.
In the plains of Pamplemousses, the temperature is not hotter than in the plains of Wilhems and Mocha. This remarkable circumstance of the little elevation of the temperature of the Isle of. France, in the interior of the country, depends, First, on the small size of the island; Secondly, on its isolated situation in the middle of the seas; Thirdly, on the nature of the prevailing winds; Fourthly, from the high mountains which cover part of its surface; Fifthly, from the forests, which in the interior are yet very extensive; Sixthly, from the frequent and abundant rains; and Seventhly, from the multiplicity of the rivers and springs, which usually occasion a cool air in the valleys.
Lislet himself never observed it at that height. The months of December, January, and February, are the hottest. It is not only from the temperature being warmer, that the atmosphere of the port N. Except in the time of a hurricane, the barometer, in the N. These considerations on the physical situation of the Isle of France, are not only necessary to be known as Connected with the meteorology, they also apply particularly to the health of the inhabitants. Experience confirms the justice of these observations.
Notwithstanding this objection, it would be very unjust to think it a cause of complaint, because it is to these qualities of the air that the particular salubrity of the Isle of France is to be ascribed, as well as the climate being free from the dreadful fevers which are so common in Batavia, the Philippines, the Moluccas, Madagascar, and most of the countries near the equator.
We must not, however, believe with some enthusiasts, that all endemic distempers are unknown in the Isle of France; for unfortunately there are several, so, much the more to be feared, as they seem difficult to be avoided. In fact, independent of stomach complaints, which are here very frequent, and of the leprosy, which, although formerly unknown in this island, now prevails among many even of the white population, all the distempers of the urinary passages affect the inhabitants to an extraordinary degree: Delisse, contains a great proportion of carbonate of lime.
I have thus, from my own particular observations, and according to the general results which I could deduce from those of Messrs. Lislet Geoffroy, hastily given a meteorological sketch of the Isle of France. The geological and meteorological de, tails which follow, appear to me to be equally new as inter resting; they are the observations of our mineralogist, M.
Indeed all the mountains of this, island surround if like a girdle of immense ramparts; they have all a declivity more or less towards the sea-shore, whilst towards the centre of the island, they each present an irregular mouth or cup, which cavities are often on the peak or top. These strata correspond exactly one with another, and wherever you see them interrupted by valleys or deep fissures, they are again observable on the other side of the mountains which they form. From these observations it is incontestably proved, that they have all the same origin, and that they may be dated from the same epoch; that, united in fewer ages, they could only have been since separated by some sudden and violent revolution of nature.
Every fact proves, that in former times the whole island was but one enormous burning mountain; and that exhausted by the eruptions, and sunk down by its own weight, it swallowed in its abyss the greatest part of its own mass, and that of this immense vault there now remains only the foundations of which the half-open, broken parts in different places, form the present mountains of the islands. Some points or peaks of a conic shape, which rise towards the centre of the country, bear the character of an origin posterior to the sinking of the crater, and seem to have been the last spiracles or vents through which the subterranean fires exhaled their vapours.
I shall not unnecessarily enlarge on the subject, but I must take notice of the rocks which compose the soil: Dolomieu under the name of argilo-ferruginous lava: In some low marshy places a species of iron is found, in grains as large as nuts; in these places mines were formerly attempted to be worked, but a scarcity of wood, and the great price of manual labour, soon caused the attempt to be abandoned. These madrepores become every day more extended; several small islands are formed therewith, and others are continually forming of the same elements; while the principal island is also thus enlarging more and more.
We have ourselves seen a remarkable instance of the rapid increase of the zoophytes. The port admiral's ship was stranded some time after our departure; and at our return, that is to say, two years and a half after, the madrepores had increased in such a manner all over the hull of the ship, that it had become but one substance with the rock on which it rested. The soil of the Isle of France is, as we have noticed, essentially volcanic; but at the same time very different from that of Teneriffe: I have seen in the compact masses of lava, which form the mountains of the island, a progressive change, which, from the hardest basalt by a number of intermediate modifications, became vegetative earth.
The action of a strong fire on this earth changes it to the colour of deep red ochre, which is doubtless caused by a stronger oxydation of the iron it contains, which is almost in a metallic state in the basalt. But whatever may be the origin of this vegetative earth, it is nevertheless of a very excellent quality, and where it is of any considerable depth, vegetation is produced with an extraordinary degree of vigour; and the number and quantity of plants cultivated with success in the Isle of France is truly prodigious; and what is still more remarkable in the midst of this abundance, is, that almost the whole of the vegetables are foreign to the soil, and yet all succeed equally well.
To have a just idea of this fertility of the country which is the subject of these observations, we ought to visit the gardens of the government in the plains of Pamplemousses; where the respectable M. In this garden we may ramble: Here we see the giant of the equinoctial forests, they teak, with which ships are built in India, almost unperishable; the bread-fruit tree, with the produce of which all the population of the countries in the southern ocean are; supplied with food; the rafia of Madagascar, a valuable species of palm, which furnishes a delicate kind of sago; the nutmeg-tree, which, lately imported by the respectable M.
Poivre, may soon be expected to free us from the duty we yet pay to the Dutch monopoly; the clove-tree, whose innumerable and beautiful red fruit so much delight the eye, and which also already supply our isles with a mach greater quantity of cloves than is necessary for our own consumption; the badam-tree, with large leaves of beautiful verdure, and which bears a small almond of a long shape, and of a finer flavour than any of our nuts; the ebony-tree, which produces the wood so valuable for its beautiful polish, and shining black colour; the Pamplemousse tree, with fruit which is a species of orange, of the size of a small melon, of the rind of which is made excellent sweetmeats; the tamarind tree, bearing a fruit well known as being both pleasant to the taste, and medicinal; the dwarf orange tree of China, only one foot in height, and the fruit of which is scarcely so large as is of the coffee-tree, but which, like that of the coffee, is red.
The importation of the cherry immortalized the name of cullus among the Romans, and it is esteemed among as to the present day. Bow many modern naturalists have done a hundred times more than Lucullus for the human species, and nevertheless have lived unfortunate, and have died unknown, even among their own countrymen! To conclude this general account which I have sketched, it remains for me to mention the animals and inhabitants of the Isle of France, for other climates and other people must be the subjects of our farther observations: However the individuals belonging to our expedition were pleased with the reception they experienced from the inhabitants of the colony, our commander had reason to repent having touched at this places but without entering into the sad details of this part of our story, it shall suffice to say, that the third ship which was to have.
It is generally allowed, that the wood of hot climates is heavier and stronger than those, of more temperate regions. The experiments of M. Lislet support this opinion; and in fact, it proved that the European oak, thus compared with 22 kinds of equatorial wood, is but 17l for the weight, and 19l for the relative strength. See the following table;. Experiments to decide the relative strength of the woods may be made several ways: Lislet was, choosing the pieces, as much as possible, of an equal size in every respect, of each of the sorts of wood which he wished to compare, and then to fix them by the two extremities on two substantial points of support—for example, two notched posts—and then to suspend from the middle of each of the pieces of wood, a weight of sufficient force to break them.
The agreement between this quantity of weight determines that of the strength of the wood, For example, if to break a piece of timber of the black fir, it requires a weight equal to , and to produce the same effect on a similar piece of oak, it only requires a weight equal to , it appears that the strength of resistance of these two timbers ought to agree, as with ; or more simply, that the strength of the oak is to that of the black fir as 1 is to 2. We were scarcely under sail, when we were informed by our commander, that from that time we should have but half a pound of new bread once in ten days; that instead of the allowance of wine, we should have three-sixteenths of a bottle of bad rum of the Isle of France, bought at a low price that colony; and that the biscuit and salt provisions should be our general food.
Thus, from the first day of a voyage which must necessarily be both long and difficult, we were abridged, all at once of bread, wine, and fresh meat—a sad prelude, and chief cause of all the miseries we in the end experienced. From the 30th of April to the 5th of May, we proceeded as far as the 29th degree of latitude, and to the 64th degree of east longitude.
From the 5th to the 11th, we had constantly dark, moist, and rainy weather, occasioned by the winds from the N. The night of the 9th instant was particularly bad: The temperature of the sea, on the surface, was very little different from that of the atmosphere. In fact, the length of our passage from Europe to the Indies, and our stay in the Isle of France, which was certainly longer than it ought to have been, had lost us part of the favourable season for our expedition.
Our commander feared to be driven towards Diemen's Land, and therefore resolved to begin his exploration by reconnoitring the N. This important determination gave us much concern, because it was not absolutely necessary from our actual situation. The season, though advanced, was not so much so as to prevent us from doubling the South Cape; and as from this point we should be getting nearer the equatorial, regions, it appeared to us more prudent to pay respect to the instructions we had received from government, which we well knew were the result of the most learned deliberations and the most extensive knowledge on the subject.
We shall see in the end the consequences produced by this first deviation from our orders. From the 21st to the 25th of May, we continued to approach the western shore of the continent which me had come thus far to explore.
We were, however, still at the distance of more than leagues, but our meteorological instruments already began to shew the influence of the land we were approaching. During the first part of our voyage I had observed that the east winds constantly produced moist weather; that they were almost always attended by thick fogs and rains, which sometimes fell in torrents. Surprised at so sudden and so entire a change in the action of meteorological phenomena, I considered all the circumstances, and thought that I might draw the following singular conclusion—that the part of New Holland which we were drawing near, was in general a low country, with no high mountains, or extensive forests, and with but little fresh water.
It does not belong to my present subject to enter on the details of the memorial which I then made on the matter: I shall at a future time return to this subject, as towards the southern extremity of New Holland we experienced from the N. On the 27th at day-break we made New Holland; a blackish stripe from the north to the south, was the humble profile of this continent: We hoped therefore by this means to obtain the first objects of our southern collection, and we were gratified beyond our hopes.
Deceived by the charts which had been put in our hands In Europe, we believed that we should double Cape Leuwin in the evening of the 28th. This cape forms the most western point of New Holland; on the north of which the unknown part of Leuwin's Land, which we were to explore, immediately begins. This important cape should have been placed, according to these charts, in On this day, the land which we bad in sight appeared to below, sterile, sandy, and of a dark colour, mingled with some whitish specks. Several whales passed very near our ships. About midnight we again cast the drag, which brought up a collection of interesting curiosities, which to draw and describe, occupied M.
Lesueur and myself ail the remainder of the night, as similar descriptions had done the night preceding. During the whole of the 29th. My estimable friend, M. Depuch, describes it in the following terms: Near the shore are many hills of gentle declivity; these appear blackish and barren. In many places we observed whitish spots, of more or less extent; one of which spreads above half a mile from the shore, up the land and makes it an excellent landmark for the navigator. In my observation of this point I remarked all the characters of a sandy soil; a property which seemed to belong to the whole of this unknown coast.
The blackish aspect which is pretty general, is occasioned by a dark and languishing vegetation; the parts without any vegetation are of a whitish colour. On the morning of the 30th, we doubled a cape, a-head from which projected is reef where the sea broke with violence, and which stretched out into the sea above a quarter of a league. We soon discovered that it formed point of entrance south of a large bay, which, from the name of our principal corvette, we named Geography Bay; the cape I have just mentioned, received the name of Cape Naturalist: Farther out, and almost in the middle of this bay, is a reef which stretches to a great length, and is very dangerous; this we called Naturalist Reef.
In the evening, about five o'clock, we cast anchor, towards the entrance of the bay which we had just discovered. Language English Dewey Number View online Borrow Buy. Set up My libraries How do I set up "My libraries"? These 4 locations in All: Open to the public ; E Book; Illustrated English Show 0 more libraries This single location in Queensland: These 3 locations in South Australia: None of your libraries hold this item. Found at these bookshops Searching - please wait We were unable to find this edition in any bookshop we are able to search.
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