Abbildungen der Seite

striking example of the expansive powers of life could hardly be met with in organic nature.

The fruits are large, oval-pointed pods, about five or six inches long, and divided into five lobes or compartments, containing from twenty to forty seeds, the cacao of commerce, enveloped in a white pithy substance.

In localities well sheltered from the wind the grower sows his seeds. In two years the plant attains a height of three feet, and throws off numerous branches, all of which are removed, with the exception of four or five. In the third year the fruits appear, but the tree does not yield fully until six or seven years old, after which it produces abundant crops for upwards of two decades.

When the pods are first picked they are remarkable for a peculiar pungency, which can be converted into the highly valued aromatic principle only by a process of fermentation. Therefore they are thrown into pits, covered with a thin layer of sand, stirred at intervals, and allowed to remain for three or four days. After which they are taken out, cleaned, dried in the sun, packed in cases or sacks, and dispatched to the market. They are best known in Europe in the form of chocolate, being roasted, ground into a smooth paste and flavored with vanilla or other spices.

The pineapple, too, is found in this, as well as on the islands of adjacent groups.


At Ceram Island, the largest of the Molluccas, one of the chief natural productions is the sago palm, known in botany as the Sagtts Lcevis and Sag-us Rumphii. It is not only more plentiful here than in any of the adjoining islands, but attains to greater perfection. It grows to the height of one hundred feet, and a single tree will sometimes yield twelve hundred pounds of starch, instead of four hundred pounds, as at Amboyna. The tree, in its early stage, is very slow of growth, but when it has once formed its stem it shoots up rapidly, and assumes its crown of far-spreading foliage and colossal efflorescence. Before the flower ripens into fruit the tree must be felled, as otherwise the farina which man uses for his food would be exhausted.

The sago, which forms so important an article of commerce, is prepared from the soft inner portion of the trunk, the latter being cut into pieces about two feet long, which are then split in half, and the soft substance scooped out and pounded in water till the starchy matter separates, when it is drained off with the water, allowed to settle, and afterwards purified by washing. The substance thus obtained is sago meal; but before being exported to the European markets, it is made into pearl sago by a Chinese process carried on at Singapore. The rough meal is subjected to repeated washings and strainings, then spread out to dry, and broken into small pieces, which, when sufficiently hard, are pounded and sifted until they are tolerably uniform in size. Small quantities, finally, are placed in a large bag, which is suspended from the ceiling, and shaken backwards and forwards for about ten minutes, until the sago becomes pearled or granulated, after which it is- thoroughly dried and packed for exportation.

(Adams's Eastern Archipelago; Bickmore's Travels in; Wallace: Malay Archipelago.)



The winds are aw'd, nor dare to breathe aloud,
The air seems never to have borne a cloud,

Save where volcanoes serd to heaven their curl'd
And. solemn smokes, like altars of the world.

Edward C. P1nckney.


NEXT to Australia in size, probably—lying just to the north, and separated from it at one point by the narrow Straits of Torres—is New Guinea. It was discovered in 1511 by Antonia d'Albreu and Francisco Serram. The population is altogether native, and numbers fully 500,000. The area is about 300,000 square miles.

The interior is wholly unknown to Europeans, and our acquaintance even with the coast line cannot be described as complete. The island is, however, most irregular in form. On the west a deep basin, called Geelvink Bay, sweeping inland from the north, almost meets the Gulf of McClure, entering from the west, and so forms a bold and extensive peninsula connected with the mainland by a very narrow isthmus, There is reason to believe that the island is very mountainous, with deep, well-wooded valleys breaking up the various chains, and with meadow lands extending from the base of the mountains to the sea. The summits of the southern peninsula attain a far loftier elevation than those of Australia. Mount Owen Stanley, for instance, is 13,205 feet high, and Mount Obru is 10,200 feet. A magnificent chain follows the line of the north coast with much faithfulness, forming the ranges of the Cyclops, which terminate in the Island of Jobi; and further west, of the Arfak and Amberbakin, with a maximum height of about 9,000 to 9,500 feet. On the southwest the limestone formation crops up in terraced heights, which rise one above another like the stages of an amphitheatre, until they mount above the snow line; the warm and humid forests of the tropics lying at their base, their crests uprearing the icy, snowy pinnacles of an Arctic world. The Snow Mountains are 15,400 feet above the sea-level.

Valley and plain and hill, ravine and mountain steep, all are clothed with a vegetation that almost defies description by its luxuriance and variety. When the island has been thoroughly explored, we may expect to hear that it is not inferior to Java or Borneo in fertility of soil. It is certain that it produces all the richest of fruits and the most valuable growths of tropical nature. In the lowlands, bread-fruit, cocoanut, banana, sago, betel, orange and lemon, and a multitude of other luxuries; in the higher grounds, magnificent forest trees, the kanary, the masool, the wild nutmeg, ebony and iron wood. Sugar cane, tobacco and rice yield abundant crops; maize and yams are also cultivated, and among the glories of the forest is the camphor tree.

Nor is the usual parasitical exuberance wanting; epiphytous plants overarch the wooded glades, and creepers of every description hang in festoons from bough to bough. Among the wealth of leaf and bloom the paradise birds build their sequestered nests, and the echoes ring with the shrill cries of parrots and lories, and the murmurs of carpophagous pigeons.

Animal life is not so abundant as vegetable. The mammals are few in number, and most of them are marsupials of the Australian type; though New Guinea possesses some indigenous species of kangaroos, and more particularly two species which are strictly arborial in their habits. Wild swine are plentiful, as also the wood-cat. Of birds, about sixty species have been particularized. Insects astonish by their numbers, and dazzle by their brilliancy of coloring. The rivers swarm with fish, and so do the surrounding seas.

The great island is not alone in her grandeur, for along her shores, and no great distance from the main land, there are at least one hundred islands. The area of these would probably reach 10,000 square miles, with a population of over 20,000 people. The physical features, as well as products, are similar to those of New Guinea.

Curiously, the main island, with those lying close to it, if we except a very few of the Molluccas, are the homes of that most beautiful of birds, the Bird of Paradise {Paradisaidce). They are not to be found on any of the other islands. Of the Paradisse, twenty species are already known; their beautiful plumage being much sought after to supply the fashionable markets of the world.


About two hundred miles to the northeast of

« ZurückWeiter »