Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

was varied by some interesting and unreserved | China has long exercised the same sort of power conversations with Ke-shen. His Canton recol- or influence in countries very far west of Lhassa, lections seemed to haunt him. Ke-shen asked us and therefore more distant from Peking. for news of Palmerston; if he was still minister of foreign affairs. He gave them a graphic and perfectly true description of the absolute power of the Chinese sovereign :

Our emperor says to us, "You see that is white." We prostrate ourselves, and answer, "Yes, it is white." Then he shows us the same thing, and says, "You see that is black." We prostrate ourselves again, and say, "Yes, it is black." But if you were to say that a thing could not at the same time be both black and white, the emperor would say perhaps to him who had that boldness, "You are right"-but at the same time he would cause him to be strangled

or beheaded.

Ke-shen was a high authority on this subject, for he had been one of the emperor's privy councillors.

M. Huc persuades himself, naturally enough perhaps, that the Chinese resident at Lhassa became jealous of the progress made by himself and M. Gabet among the Thibetians, and therefore determined on bringing about their departure from the country; but any Chinese functionary in his position would have deemed such a measure necessary, and a mere act of prudence as concerned himself, considering he served a master who, as we have just seen, treats his servants in so truculent a style, even when they have reason on their side. Ke-shen had already been once condemned to death himself.

One day the ambassador, Ke-shen, had us called, and, after much cajolery, he ended by telling us that Thibet was a cold country, too poor for us, and that we must think about going back to France. He said this with a kind of careless frankness, as if he had supposed that no objection could be made to it. We asked him whether in thus speaking he intended to give us advice or commands?" Both," said he coldly.

It was certainly a stipulation in 1845, between M. de Lagrené, the French minister, and Keying, that the Romish religion should no longer be subject to persecution in China; and Sir John Davis lost no time in obtaining for Protestants whatever privileges were to be accorded to Romanists. In 1847, however, two Romish bishops, in partibus, were found in the interior, and immediately sent off to the coast, whence they found their way to Hong-Kong, indignant at what seemed to them so direct a violation of treaties. The Chinese government declared that the privileges in question were only intended for the Five Ports where Europeans were permitted to reside, and that they did not extend to admitting the teachers of Christianity into the interior.

We altogether concur with M. Huc on one point. If the two missionaries were to quit Lhassa, they might at least have been allowed to leave it in the readiest and easiest way. Within three weeks' journey was the frontier of Bengal, whence it was their wish to proceed to Calcutta. But no; Chinese fears and jealousies had decreed otherwise. The same absurd precaution which had caused certain emissaries from Russia to be conducted by a roundabout course from Kiachta to Peking, doomed our poor missionaries to travail from Lhassa through alpine passes to the frontier of China, and from thence to Canton-a weary course of about eight months. They protested in vain, and declared they would denounce this cruel measure to the French government. Ke-shen was inflexible, observing that he must remember what was expected from him by the emperor, and take care of his own head.

A good escort, however, was provided, and every care taken for the welfare of our travellers. A mandarin of respectable military rank, and fifteen Chinese soldiers, were charged with their safe conduct by Ke-shen in person, who, moreover, in a most edifying oration, recorded by M. Huc, pointed out their respective duties; and truly the undertaking before them was not a light one, as the description of the journey to the Chinese frontier (where the present work concludes) will easily show. In this almost impassable tract of country we may discover the real cause of the separation, for so many ages, of China from the Western world; for mountains of nearly the same alpine character extend all the way from Tartary southwards to Yunnan and the frontiers of the Burmese empire. The hardships of the present journey, undertaken under all possible advantages, killed no less than three mandarins, that is, their conductor and two others who joined them on the route. We must observe, however, that the former had been invalided from his duties on account of swelled legs and other, probably dropsical, symptoms, brought on by the abuse of stimulating liquors. We must give our author's description of this mandarin's separation from his Thibetian wife, as it is a specimen of M. Huc's style :

They in vain urged that they were not Chinese subjects, and therefore disclaimed his assumed authority over them in Thibet. The conference was abruptly terminated by their being informed that they must prepare themselves to quit the country. They went at once to their friend, the regent, who, in words at least, seemed to impress them with the notion that he did not consider their departure absolutely depended on the will of the Chinese Resident. The habitual insincerity of Asiatics renders them very ready to say anything that may be agreeable to their hearers, and their love of ease makes them willing to avoid unpleasant discussions. It is very probable that the regent was jealous of Ke-shen; but we cannot go quite the length of imagining, with M. Huc, that a ready compliance with the determination of Ke-shen on the part of himself and M. Gabet became necessary, "de peur de compromettre le regent, et de devenir, peut-être, la cause de fâcheuses dissensions entre la Chine et le Thibet." We are persuaded that, whatever circumstances may occur to occasion a war between Thibet and China, it will not be for such a cause as this. M. Huc must before now have become sensiAvant de monter à cheval, une Thibétaine vigourble that he equally miscalculated in another quar-senta; c'était la femme de Ly-kouo-ngan. Il l'avait eusement membrée et assez proprement vêtue se preter. "Dans notre candeur, nous nous imaginions épousée depuis six ans, et il allait l'abandonner pour que le gouvernement français ne verrait pas avec toujours. Ces deux conjugales moitiés ne devant plus indifférence cette prétension inouie de la Chine, se revoir, il était bien juste qu'au moment d'une si qui ose poursuivre de ses outrages le Christianisme déchirante séparation, il y eut quelques mots d'adieu. et le nom français jusque chez les peuples étran- La chose se fit en publique, et de la manière suivante. gers, et à plus de mille lieues loin de Peking."-Voilà que nous partons, dit le mari; toi, demeure

monde monta à cheval.

ici, assise en paix dans ta chambre.-Va-t-en tout | reported that they found in his house, or at least his doucement, répondit l'épouse; va-t-en tout douce- possession, 682 Chinese pounds of gold, being ment, et prends bien garde aux enflures de tes jambes. about 14,560 English ounces; but of silver the Elle mit ensuite une main devant ses yeux, comme enormous amount was 17,940,000 taels, which is pour faire croire qu'elle pleurait.-Tiens, dit le Pacif- more than six millions sterling, or as nearly as icateur des royaumes* en se tournant vers nous; elles possible the whole amount of indemnity paid to Engsont drôles ces femmes Thibétaines; je lui laisse une land on account of the war, including the ransom maison solidement bâtie, et puis une foule de meubles presque tout neufs, et voilà qu'elle s'avise de pleurer! of Canton. Ke-shen might thus truly be said to Est-ce qu'elle n'est pas contente comme cela.-Après have" paid for the war.' But, as if this were not ces adieux si pleins d'onction et de tendresse, tout le enough, his women were sold by auction (Mr. Robins never had such an opportunity), and when he reached the capital from Canton, he was without the necessaries of life, though the emperor soon packed him off to Elee, the Celestial Siberia.* After all this, it was rather cool, when his services were wanted, to appoint him resident at Lhassa; where, however, he soon contrived to do something towards repairing his broken fortunes, by helping himself to the gold and precious stones in which Thibet abounds. The two chests in charge of the missionaries were, no doubt, an instalment of his remittances to China; and he is now viceroy of the province of Sse-chuen, (whither he sent the chests,) one of the largest of the empire, being equal in area to all France. This strange history is not unlike that of many a minister of the Celestial Empire.

ever.

ner.

[Before getting on horseback, a stout, well-made Thibetian woman, well dressed, made her appearance. It was the wife of Ly-kouo-ngan. They had been married six years, and he was going to leave her forThese conjugal halves, not being to see each other again, it was proper that at such an excruciating separation, they should have some words of farewell. The affair came off in public, and in this man"We are going to set off," said the husband; "do thou remain here, and sit quietly in thy chamber."-"Go carefully," answered the wife," and take care of the swellings of your legs." She then put one hand before her eyes, as if to pretend that she wept. "Just see," said the husband, turning to us, "how queer these Thibetian women are! I leave her a well-built house, besides a quantity of furniture nearly new-and yet she is going to cry! Is she not satisfied with that?" After these adieux, so full of soul and tenderness, we all mounted our horses.]

One word more about Ke-shen. A most striking trait of Chinese character is recorded by M. Huc, just as he is on the point of departure. We have seen the circumstances under which our missionaries took leave of the imperial representative at Lhassa. Whatever he might think or say on the occasion, they, at least, had just cause to consider themselves treated by him with unnecessary harshness; if not for their removal from Thibet, at least for their removal by the way of China, instead of Bengal. Notwithstanding all this, he drew them aside at their last interview, and said confidentially: "I shall soon be on my way to China myself; that I may not be overcharged with effects on my departure, I send two large chests by this opportunity; they are covered with Thibetf cow skins (showing us at the same time how they were lettered); I recommend these two cases to your special care. When you reach the relays at night, let them be deposited in your sleeping apartment; and when you arrive at the capital of Sse-chuen province, deliver them to the care of the viceroy." Thus, when a Chinese officer, a countryman and nominee of his own, was going the same journey, he preferred entrusting this treasure (for such no doubt it was) to two poor European missionaries, whom he had injured, rather than to a Chinese mandarin of respectable station, who was, in a great measure, his own dependant. He had often said that he admired and respected the European probity, and this was a practical proof of it. M. Huc very justly adds: This mark of confidence gave us pleasure it was a compliment to the honesty of Christians, and at the same time a bitter satire upon

66

the Chinese character."

Our missionaries make no pretension to learning; and are credulous in proportion. But their notices of the life before them are curious, and, we believe, truthful. We will conclude with two very extraordinary Thibetian customs, which we do not remember in Turner; though it must be observed that, while they did not reach Ladak or the Indian frontier, neither did Turner reach Lhassa or the Chinese.

The Thibetian women at their toilette submit to a

custom, or rather to a regulation, almost incredible. Before going out of their houses they anoint their faces with a black and sticky varnish, a good deal like preserved raisins. As their object is to make themselves ugly and hideous, they spread this nasty paint over their faces every way, and daub themselves so as no longer to look like human beings.

It is certainly something altogether new to find any race of women with the ambition "de se rendre laides et hideuses," but it must be an amazing simplification of the business of the toilet. The only wonder is that such a custom was ever submitted to, when, as M. Huc states, a certain Nomekhan, or Lama-king of the country, imposed it on the female part of the community, as a corrective of their morals and a protection to their virtue.

In order to put a stop to a licentiousness which was becoming almost general, Nomekhan published an edict, by which women were prohibited from appearing in public without daubing their faces in the manconsiderations caused this strange law, and threatened ner we have described. High moral and religious the disobedient with severe punishments, and, above all, with the wrath of Buddha.

"One

Nothing but a hierarchy, or rather, a nation of priests, could ever have succeeded in so monstrous a scheme of moral or religious discipline, more unSome time after Ke-shen's disgrace, there ap-need not sure look frightful, though one 's dead.” natural than the nunneries of Romanism. peared at Hong-Kong the copy of a Peking gazette, which detailed the circumstances of his sentence, and gave the amount of his registered property. The two ministers commissioned on the occasion

*M. Huc has the true version of the story. "The emperor, in his paternal tenderness, gave him his life, and contented himself with degrading him from all his titles, taking all his decorations from him, confiscating his goods, razing his house, selling his The Yak of Thibet, bauf à long poil, figured in wives at auction, and sending him to banishment at Turner's embassy.

A play on his Chinese name.

the extremity of Tartary."

The second strange custom is a Thibetian salutation of respect, more absurd even than the "noserubbing" with which the Esquimaux greet their friends. M. Huc describes it by the terms "tirer la langue," which can only mean "putting out the tongue." We have read that the New Zealanders have a habit of expressing their hatred or defiance of their enemies by the same elegant gesture, and for such a purpose it might seem sufficiently significant and appropriate among savages; but how a people, at least semi-civilized, like the Thibetians, could ever have fallen upon such a mode of signifying respect, is altogether marvellous. It goes far at least to prove the purely conventional nature of all such signs, when the very opposite movements have been adopted by different nations to denote the same thing. If to uncover the head be, in Europe, a mark of respect, it is precisely the reverse in China; and, though to salute with either the right | or left hand be a nearly indifferent matter among us, a salutation with the left is so deadly an insult with Mahomedans in the East, as to have been instantly answered with a stab or a shot. For this reason, the native commissioned officers of our Indian army, in giving the military salute, confine it to the sword held in the right hand, and do not at the same time raise the left hand to the forehead.

" faithfully to transmit to his sovereign the whole tenor of the correspondence." He would hardly fail to do so, being aware that all Lord Hardinge's communications must at last reach Peking through Thibet, and betray any concealment of the subject. Three commissioners were appointed by Lord Hardinge, in 1847, to enter the Thibetian territory, and endeavor to settle the frontier boundaries, if possible. Other objects were combined with the principal one. Lieutenant Strachey, one of the commissioners, was instructed to follow up his previous researches in Ngari, and penetrate through Gurdokh to the Lake Manasarowar, and so eastward, as far as practicable, through Darjerling or Bhotan to the British provinces. That officer has printed an interesting narrative of his first journey, in 1846, proving the rigors of those alpine regions to be precisely corresponding to the experience of MM. Huc and Gabet; and we hope in time to have a detailed account of his more recent and official researches.

From the Spectator, 24 May.

MR. THACKERAY'S LECTURES. WHAT are his lectures like?-good of course, exceedingly worth hearing, but like what?

Well, they are like his conversation, like his books, like himself; probably very near to what was expected by that audience, fit though not few, which assembled to hear the question for itself on Thursday.

Since the Ruler of the Valley of Cashmere has become a tributary to the British crown, circumstances must occasionally bring us into contact with the Chinese government through Thibet. From the first conclusion of the treaty between Gholab Singh and the governor-general of India, Lord We all knew before, how Thackeray handles the Hardinge, with the foresight of a statesman, turned follies which he satirizes-with what gentleness his attention to the accomplishment of two most and tenderness. If the operator enjoys, in an innodesirable objects. First, the exact ascertainment cent and unconcealed pride, the skill with which he and definition of the boundaries between Cashmere applies the keenest of edges-if he is apt to dwell and the Ladak territory; and, secondly, the con- somewhat disproportionately upon subjects whose tinuation of the same trade between the territory, infirmities or eccentricities are the most suited to now dependent on the British government, and his treatment-you see, by the unmistakable eloLadak, as had been before established by treaty be-quence of his demeanor, that it is from sympathy, tween Cashmere and Ladak. We found, in fact, such a treaty existing, by which tea and shawlwool were to be transmitted to Cashmere and the Punjaub by the Ladak road; and persons proceeding from Ladak to China, or from China to Ladak, were not to be obstructed on the way. That no means might be left untried, Lord Hardinge engaged the services of H. M. Plenipotentiary in China, to communicate with the minister of the emperor, Keying, on the subject, and obtain, if possible, the appointment of Chinese or Thibetian commissioners to meet our own on the new frontier of India. The land distances to be traversed in negotiation were enormous. From Canton to Peking was 1200 miles, and from Peking to our frontier more than 2000. Various and Protean were the shifts and changes by which Keying, in Chinese fashion, endeavored to elude all concern or responsibility in the matter. Among others was this highly ungeographical objection: "The trading with Thibet would not be in conformity with the maritime treaty, as it is not included in the Five Ports.' When convinced of the real nature of this nonsequitur, Keying admitted that the traders on the Indian frontier might carry on a commerce entirely distinct from that of the English merchants, who repair to the Five Ports of China; and he engaged

*Our manufactory of tea in Kumaon is so promising that we may one day supply it to Thibet and Chinese Tartary, where the consumption is very large.

not malignity; that his bent in that direction has been imparted by deep suffering, and by an overconsciousness of foibles which must be shared to be felt so sharply. He knows what he is talking about. If you could mistake the confession of the most intimate knowledge, searching even to the springs and motives, or of that musical but changeful voice-changing with each phase of thought or feeling, you cannot mistake the explicit avowal. What distinguishes Thackeray from other English satirists is his knowledge of the world, his enjoyment even of the luxuries, the gauds, and the little ostentations, at which he has his fling. His inordinate admiration of power teaches him to sympathize even with servility; but all the while a masterly intellect with its keen insight, a warmly loving heart which loves best what is best, and a large piety pure from the first freshest sources of nature, teach him to worship only the noblest forms of power and protest against tyranny of every kind. He is a satirist, but not supercilions. It is Rousseau, but, no longer dreaming, master of himself and his subject; Swift, but informed by the insight of love; Moliére, but with a steadier purpose, and the confidence of a freer time and country.

Thackeray in the rostrum is not different from the Thackeray at the table or in the printed page, except that he is in the rostrum. His lecture is a long soliloquy, giving you Thackeray's idea of his subject. Thus the first of these Thursday lectures was his idea of Swift-the sum and substance of

what had been suggested to the great humorist by level, survey with him-enjoying the variety, the career of that audacious and able, that mortified and baffled, that cassocked unscrupulous adventurer, with his attainments, his brilliancy, his sorrows rendered ghastly by their concealment, his unintelligible loves, his intellectual distinction before death; the frustration of greatness for lack of love and faith. All this told with the intuition of sympathy and the vigor of a congenial mind; the kindest of satirists analyzing the harshest.

laughing at the accidents, quizzing the unconscious passenger; and then remembering how that passenger has feelings, tastes, appetites like yours— commands your sympathy-deserves, if not your help, your prayers; for are we not all alike, with follies, weaknesses, powers wasted, but good still at heart, and all the better for standing by one another? At least, Thackeray says so; and we are inclined to believe his honest countenance.

THE LOST TRAVELLER.

But the look and manner of the man! Thackeray in the rostrum, we say, is not different from Thackeray anywhere else; a thought graver, perchance, because he is reading, or is nervous at the AMONG the numerous victims, distinguished travelidea of sustaining, himself alone, a colloquy with lers, whose lives have been sacrificed to the perils of that distinguished assemblage. But the form which African discovery, the world has almost forgotten that rises before you in that crimson desk is unaltered; of the unfortunate Jacques Compagnon, who, under it is the same strange, anomalous, striking aspect; the auspices of the Duke de Choiseul, left Senegal in the face and contour of a child-of the round- 1758 to explore the country to the north and east of cheeked humorous boy, who presumes so saucily of Simboni, where he was heard from in 1760, and Senegambia, penetrated as far as the wooded desert on being liked, and liked for his very impudence- then disappeared, never, it was supposed, to be heard grown large without losing its infantile roundness from again. After ninety years of mystery and obliv or simplicity; the sad grave eyes looking forth-ion, however, the veil has been removed, and the through the spectacles that help them but baffle you with their blank dazzle-from the deepest vaults of that vast skull, over that gay, enjoying smile; the curly hair of youth, but gray with years brought before their time by trouble and thought.

Those years, rich in study, have produced the consummate artist. The highest art lies not in concealing the art, but in so perfecting the means that they work unseen and unheard, while the artist uses them to set before you Nature undistorted by his efforts to drag her forth, undistracted by accessories. The admirable execution of his work; the vigorous exclusion of surplusage; the selection of the figures and scenes to fill his canvass; the truth and sufficiency of every touch; the command of chiaroscuro, in which the sombre was relieved by the brilliant, the terrible by the pathetic; the closeness, pregnancy, and elegance of diction; the delicate and masterly finish of the whole, appreciated only by the too-watchful critic were equally relished by the most accomplished of the masculine minds in that room, the most unsophisticated of feminine hearts. Perfect art had attained its end in perfect simplicity, which obtruded nothing between the subject and the hearer; only that the hearer, endowed for the time with the faculties of the lecturer, saw with unwonted eyes and insight.

secret of his fate has been disclosed by M. de Gaysa, a
Hungarian explorer in Africa, from whom a letter has
been received by the Imperial Society of Vienna, dis-
closing the discoveries which seem to place the fact
beyond question, besides giving it a very interesting
aspect. M. de Gaysa writes from the country of the
Kommenis, a semi-civilized tribe, who have some re-
ligious notions "possessing a certain analogy with
the Christian tradition, a regular language, an alpha-
bet, and a mode of writing," all, or most of which,
they appear, from their own account, to have derived
in 1775, and whose memory was revered as that of a
from a stranger, a European, who died among them
sage or good genius. That this stranger was Jacques
Compagnon, was proved by a number of circum-
stances, not the least conclusive of which was several
personal relics, regarded by the people as sacred, one
being a quadrant with his name engraved upon it in
full. It would seem, from such accounts and tradi-
tions as M. de Gaysa was able to gather, that Com-
pagnon was detained by the Kommenis, and, being
reconciled at last to his captivity, devoted himself to
His tomb, con-
instructing them in the useful arts.
sisting of "a little stone monument of a conical form,
covered with an inscription in hieroglyphical charac
ters," was pointed out to the Hungarian visitor in
one of their principal villages.

EMIGRATION OF FEMALE PAUPERS.-The Clare

By dwelling more upon the humanities of his Journal says:-"One hundred and fifty young subject than the conventionality or costume of the females, from the workhouses of Ennis, Kilrush, and Ennistymon, embarked at the North-wall Quay, time, though not forgetting that, Thackeray ap- Dublin, on board the British and Irish Company's peals to an interest that never passes away; with steamer, the Foyle, for Plymouth, where they are to him the present company is never excepted. The sail, under the government auspices, for Australia. follies, the servilities, the corruptions of Anne's Their ages range from sixteen to five-and-twenty; and day, are essentially the same with those of the more we are glad to be able to quote the following testifinished manufacture, Queen Victoria's reign. mony as to their personal appearance from eye-witThackeray neither conceals nor obtrudes the appli- nesses of their embarkation-though it merely anIcation of his moral: his audience neither avoids nounces a fact well known to all who saw them here nor resents it. Society came bodily to be anatomized, as willingly as it would to undergo any other wholesome and desirable operation. If the chastener was nervous at his task, the willing patient encouraged him; and when he cut home, he did not enjoy his skill alone. For Thackeray is a satirist without arrogance-an instructor without airs of superiority-a gentleman-a companion who makes you a party to his thoughts, and in this way of life surveys the passing scene from the carriage-window with a pleasant converse that heightens every trait; while you, elevated to his

at their departure:- A finer set of girls, for their position in life, could not be seen-healthy, ruddy, and comfortably clad-a credit to the guardians and officials of their respective unions.'"'

Two large casks of eau de Cologne have arrived missioners, for the Great Exhibition; the same being from the Continent, on account of the Austrian comintended for the supply of the fountain of Cologne water, which is to be perpetually in play in the Austrian department of the Exhibition, and which, according to the arrangement, will be newly supplied to the fountain each day during the time.

From the British Quarterly Review. 1. Johnston's Physical Atlas. Folio. 2. Physical Geography. By Mrs. SOMERVILLE.

THE remarkable phenomena of which it is intended to treat in the present paper, have occurred during the whole historical period down to the present time. They afford the strongest evidence we possess of what the internal constitution of our globe is, and reveal a kind of agency which has been, and still is, one of the most powerful in modifying its external appearance.

It is worth considering how much knowledge regarding the first constitution of our planet would have been lost to us, and how many more points in its subsequent history, than at present, would have been obscure, had active volcanoes been unknown to us. It is not a strained hypothesis to suppose such ignorance to have really existed. For the greater part of the volcanic activity in Europe showed itself before the historical period, and in districts which have since lain entirely dormant. Had the comparatively small districts of Naples and Sicily been also extinct, like similar districts in other parts of Italy, and had we been acquainted only with the continent of Europe, the hypothesis would have been realized. The geologist would then have found the key wanting to the differences between unstratified rocks, (granite, porphyry, &c.) and the stratified series. The relative positions of these two classes of rock would have given rise to most puzzling inquiries. Many parts of Europe now interpreted to be extinct volcanic regions, would have been blanks. And even if some bold theorist, led by the burned appearance of the rocks, and the absence of organic remains in them, had supposed some previous high temperature of these rocks to account for the phenomena, he would hardly have gone so far as to suggest that they had sprung in a liquid state from beneath the surface of the earth; still less would such a suggestion have been generally entertained.

The facility with which volcanic rocks lend themselves to cultivation, or the natural growth of vegetation, adds to the difficulty of discovering their true nature. Even with our present means of knowledge, it has been a matter of controversy whether certain districts in Europe are of volcanic origin. Some doubted whether Auvergne was a centre of extinct volcanic action, which it has now been proved to be beyond a doubt. A similar question has been keenly discussed regarding a portion of the Rhine country. Vesuvius, even, when, previous to its eruption in 1631, cattle pastured on the grassy floor of its crater, and wild boars harbored in the surrounding brushwood, might have deceived an unpractised eye, though eleven earlier eruptions of that mountain had occurred since the commencement of the Christian

of which have been recorded, or are believed to have occurred during man's existence on the globe. Among ACTIVE VOLCANOES the variety is very considerable. The district which forms the kingdom of Naples affords several examples of these differences. The volcano of Stromboli, one of the Lipari islands, is a perpetually bubbling caldron of heated lava; Vesuvius and Etna exhibit their powers only at distant intervals. The Solfatara of Puzzuoli emits smoke and gases, but does not show any further activity; while the elevation of Graham Island, to the S. W. of Sicily, within the last thirty years, exhibits another variety of volcanic power. If we turn our eyes to the New World, and to the great ocean beyond, we find a more striking change. Mount Etna, the highest of the European volcanic mountains, is about 10,000 feet high, and holds an isolated position. But in South America, the volcanic vents crown a chain of mountains stretching from one end to the other of that continent, and they in some cases attain an elevation of 22,000 feet. The great ocean lying between America and Asia contains many volcanic mountains of great elevation; some of them isolated, but the greater number arranged in a peculiar manner, which will be described below.

There are, then, great differences in the size and position of volcanic mountains, and in the mode in which they show their activity. Nevertheless, descriptions of eruptions from those mountains whose activity is intermittent, resemble each other so closely that the history of one is very much that of all, and this similarity is not limited to the external circumstances-the dreadful thunder, the darkness, the torrents of mud; but equally holds in regard to the matter ejected from the interior of the mountain. Not only is the matter thrown out by volcanoes at the most distant parts of the world (with few exceptions) alike in form, but it is almost identical in ultimate composition. We find that lava, scoriæ, ashes, and other products, proceed from all or almost all volcanoes, and these products, when tried by the chemist, yield nearly the same ultimate elements.

Eruptions are generally preceded by loud subterranean noises, and frequently by slight shocks of earthquakes. The sounds are described as being sometimes of the most awful description. Humboldt mentions that the ceilings in the palace at Portici, at the foot of Vesuvius, were cracked by the mere effect of the concussion of the air. The noise is said by some to resemble discharges of heavy artillery, and "awful roarings." On the occasion of an eruption of the volcano of Cozeguina, in Central America, the explosions are said to have been heard over an area of nearly 1500 miles in diameter. During an eruption of Mount Tomboro, in Sumbawa, one of the smaller islands of the Indian Ocean, the sounds were heard in Sumatra, at a distance of 970 geographical miles, and at Ternate, Volcanic activity as now known to us, whether in an opposite direction, at a distance of 720 miles. in earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or thermal At the time when these sounds are issuing from springs, in its most destructive as well as most beneath the ground, columns of dense smoke are harmless manifestations, appears to be due to the seen to issue from the crater of the volcano. The same cause. The same power which produces the smoke occasionally assumes a very peculiar apearthquake in one place, in another causes an erup- pearance, called by the Italians "the pine," from tion from a mountain, or affects thermal springs. its resemblance to the umbrella-shaped trees of this In noticing these several phenomena, it will be kind which occur in Italy. Sometimes this cloud proper to begin with volcanic mountains, where extends over so great an area as to produce total effects at once the most numerous, the most striking, darkness in the neighborhood of the volcano, and it and the most accessible to observation, are exhibited, is then accompanied by the fall of volcanic sand premising that this notice includes active volcanoes and ashes, which attain a depth of several feet. In only, by which is meant those volcanoes, eruptions the eruption in the island of Sumbawa, just alluded

era.

« VorigeDoorgaan »