« ZurückWeiter »
among the simple-minded barbarians, and instructing them in every vice and villainy.
"No one knows with any certainty how many inhabitants are on Hogoleu; some say 15,000, some 20,000; but there are very many. They are armed with good swords with hilts of brass, daggers, spears pointed with iron, bows of great strength, arrows headed with iron, and slings out of which they fling round stones with great certainty and with the force of a shot. The iron weapons they have purchased from traders of Manilla and elsewhere. They have many combats with crews of ships, and display great courage. No white men have ever lived among them, to anyone's knowledge, though I have heard there is one living there now, established by one Captain Hayes. Many men have been on shore and have been treated with hospitality. From what I have seen of them, they are a people I would have no fear of, although they have an ugly habit of attacking ships upon small grounds of offense. In 1870 they tried to board the Vesta, but the German captain, although he lost his anchor and chain by having to slip it, was more than a match for them. He fired upon them with scrap-iron and killed a great many. Of course, he was not to blame; but these unfortunate misunderstandings tend very much to perpetuate ill feeling.
"That the first Europeans who can succeed in establishing a permanent agency upon Hogoleu will make their fortunes in a very short period, is an unquestionable fact. This island presents to the commercial adventurer such an opportunity as is scarcely to be found elsewhere in the world—not alone from the valuable products of the land itself, but from the possession of so magnificent a harbor for shipping, whence could be extended the ramifications of a trade on a large scale throughout the whole great Caroline Archipelago. That there is any risk in the attempt, I do not for a moment believe. All that is required is for one determined man, acquainted with the Caroline tongue, to secure, by acceptable presents, the protection of a chief, to marry into his family (as he would be required to do), and after a few months' diplomacy he might have it all his own way, so far as driving a trade for his owners was concerned."
PELEW ISLANDS ATOLLS.
The Pelew Islands referred to form the extreme western end of the Caroline group, and were discovered by Drake in 1579; the main Carolines having been visited by Alonzo de Saavedra, as early as 1528, although the discovery of the group has been ascribed by some writers to Lopez Villa Lobas, in 1543, which is an evident mistake.
These Atolls, or horse-shoe islands (such as I have described Hogoleu), are an important feature in the geological formation of the Pacific Isles, and are to be -found in nearly every group, as well as scattered over the great waste of waters of the South Sea, sometimes isolated and alone, at Qthers in groups and chains, having the appearance of the last outposts of a sunken continent. Darwin, Humboldt and others account for their singular shape and formation by assuming that at one time they were portions of the mainland or continents, or islands, and that their centers, which at former periods were hilly and mountainous, gradually sank and disappeared; the coral insect building the fringe or edge on the sunken lands in the form we now see them. They vary somewhat in size and form, and may be found from but a mile or so in diameter to hundreds of miles in circumference.
The inland lakes are nearly always safe harboring for vessels sailing and trading in these seas. Generally speaking, there are from one to four openings or passage-ways from the sea to the lagoons, through which the tide ebbs and flows. These channels vary from fifty to several hundred yards in width, and carry deep navigable water. In the storms and gales that sometimes prevail in these regions, an atoll might be truly termed the sailors' snug harbor.
A wide platform of rock, covered with the sea, except at low tide, borders most of the high islands of the Pacific. It is a vast accumulation of coral, based upon the bottom in the shallow waters of the shores. This bank or table of coral rock is of varying width, from a few hundred feet to a mile or more; and although the surface is usually nearly flat, it is often intersected by irregular boat channels, or occasionally incloses large bays, affording harbor protection to scores of ships. In very many instances it stands at a distance from the shores, like an artificial mole, leaving a wide and deep channel between it and the land, and within this channel are other coral reefs, some in scattered patches and others attached close to the shore. The inner reef in these cases is distinguished as the fringed reef, and the outer as the barrier reef. The sea rolls in heavy surges against the outer margin of the barrier; but the still waters of a lake prevail within, affording safe navigation for the tottling canoe, sometimes through the whole circuit of an island; and not unfrequently ships may pass, as by an internal canal, from harbor to harbor around the island.
The reef is covered by the sea at high tide, yet the smoother waters indicate its extent and a line of breakers its outline. Occasionally a green islet rises from the reef and in some instances a grove of palms stretches along the barrier for miles, where the action of the sea has raised the coral structure above the waves.
Coral islands resemble the reefs just described, except that a lake or lagoon is encircled instead of a mountainous island. A narrow rim of coral reef, generally but a few hundred yards wide, stretches around the inclosed waters. ' In some parts it is so low that the waves are still dashing over it into the lagoon, and in others it is verdant with the rich foliage of the tropics. The coral-made land when highest is seldom over eight or ten feet in height.
When first seen from the deck of a vessel, only a series of dark points are descried just above the horizon. Shortly after, the points enlarge into the plumed tops of the cocoanut trees, and a line of green, interrupted at intervals, is traced along the - water's surface. Approaching still nearer, the lake and its belt of verdure are spread out before the eye, and a scene of more interest can scarcely be imagined. The surf beating loud and heavy along the margin of the reef, presents a strange contrast to the prospect beyond—the white coral beach, the massy foliage of the grove, and the embosomed lake with its tiny islets. * * * Very erroneous ideas prevail respecting the appearance of a bed or area of growing corals. The submerged reef is often thought of as an extended mass of coral, alive uniformly over its upper surface, and by this living growth gradually enlarging upward; and such preconceived views when ascertained to be erroneous by observation, have sometimes led to skepticism with regard to the zoophyte origin of the reef rock. Nothing is wider from the truth, and this must have been inferred from the description already given. Another glance at the coral plantation should be taken by the reader, before proceeding with the explanations which follow.
Coral plantation and coral field are more appropriate appellations than coral garden, and convey a juster impression of the surface of a growing reef. Like a spot of wild land, covered in some parts with varied shrubbery, in other parts bearing only occasional tufts of vegetation over barren plains of sand, here a clump of saplings, and there a carpet of variously colored flowers—such is the coral plantation.
Numerous kinds of zoophytes grow scattered over the surface, like the vegetation of the land. There are large areas that bear nothing, and others that are thickly overgrown. There is no green sward to the landscape, and here the comparison fails. Sand and fragments fill up the bare intervals between the flowering tufts, or where the zoophytes aVe crowded; there are deep holes among the stony stems and folia, that seem as if formed among the aggregated roots of the living corals. * * *
These fields of growing coral spread over submarine lands, such as the shores of islands and continents, where the depth is not greater than their habits require—just as vegetation extends itself through regions that are congenial. The germ or ovule, which, when first produced, swims free, finds afterwards a