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He view'd, he sigh'd, alternate passions burn;
For the Atheneum.
SOME PARTICULARS RELATIVE TO THE ISLANDS OF
TRISTAN D'ACUNHA, IN THE SOUTH ATLANTIC.
THE most recent account that has been published of these islands is to be found in the sixth chapter of Sir George Staunton's account of Lord Macartney's embassy to China, whose ship, the Lion, touched there in 1792. A sudden gust, however, driving her from her anchor, it was only during a few hours that an imperfect examination of the anchorage and of the adjacent shores could be attempted. Of these nearly unknown islands, therefore, very little could be said in that work, the editor of which, however, justly observes, that they are certainly worthy of a more particular enquiry, as they are not fifty leagues out of the general track of vessels bound to China, and to the coast of Coromandel, by the outer passage; the following particulars, therefore, collected from the log-book, and notes of Capt.
John Patten, of the ship Industry, from Philadelphia, who was a temporary inhabitant of the largest of the three islands that are called the isles of Tristan d'Acunha, where he remained with part of his crew, collect ing seal skins, from August 1790 to April 1791, will no doubt provę interesting to the geographer, and help to fill up another blank leaf in our knowledge of the globe.
These islands; which are three in number, lie in latitude 37° 14' S. and longitude 14° 30' W. from London.* The northernmost is the largest, and is about thirty miles round. The next in size is about twenty miles in circumference, and bears W. S. W. by compass from the large island, about nine leagues distant. The third, or smallest, is
The situation assigned by Capt. Patten is very nearly the same with that given to these islands by every navigator, excepting Sir Erasmus Gower, the commander of the Lion, who states that the spot where the Lion anchored was determined by good meridional observations, and by accurate time-pieces, to be 37° 6' S. latitude, and 11° 43 W. longitude from Greenwich,
about fifteen miles round, and bears S.S.W. from the large island about eight leagues distant.* They are all three of a circular shape, and consist of very high land, with clear open passages between them. Their shores are in general bold, and arc exempt from shoals or other dangers to navigation, except a high reef of rocks or rocky isles off the south end of the smallest island.
The current sets to the north east. There is a regular tide, the water rising from eight to ten feet. Whilst Capt. Patten was there, the prevailing winds were from the northward and westward; the easterly and southerly winds blowing but seldom, and scarcely ever longer than twenty-four hours at a time. It generally blows fresh, and frequently very hard, from the N. W.; and when a gale came on it was generally preceded by a very heavy sea, rolling in sometimes twelve and sometimes twenty-four hours before the wind rose. The weather is very subject to be thick and hazy, attended with much rain. The summer months are warm, but the cold in winter is very severe.
There is a bay on the north-west side of the large island, which, however, is open and exposed. It has a fine beach of black sand, where the boat was hauled up. There are two falls of excellent water, affording an abundant supply, sufficient for the wants of a large fleet; and from one of these cascades the water casks might be filled by means of a long hose, without moving them from the boats. The Industry's people pitched their tent at this bay. Around it is plenty of wood. The trees do not grow high, but their branches bend down and spread on the ground. The foliage of the trees that principally abound resembles that of the yew-tree, but the wood is like that of the maple, and burns remarkably well; the trunks are about ten feet in height, and about nine inches in diameter. There are no large or tall trees to be met with. A great deal of drift-wood is found on the east side of the island, but none to the westward, Abundance of wild celery, sour dock (sorrel), and wild parsley is met with. The rocks yield great quantities of the sea-weed called laver, and the shore is covered with a broad sea-weed, several fathoms long (fucus giganteus.) No quadrupeds were met with, except some goats, which had been left there by former navigators, and which were very wild. Seven of them were shot. Neither vermin nor venomous creatures of any description were observed. Of birds the principal were a kind of gannets, like wild geese, which the sailors considered as excellent food; penguins, albatrosses, Cape cocks and hens, a bird like a partridge, but of a black colour, which cannot fly, is easily run down, and is very well flavoured, and a variety of small birds that frequent
* By Sir E. Gower's account, the largest island, or that of Tristan d'Acunha proper, seems not to exceed fifteen miles in circumference. Inaccessible island, the next in size, he reckons at about nine miles; and Nightingale island, the least, seven or eight miles in circumference. The estimations of their extent may fairly be considered to be superseded by the account given by Captain Patten, who had a much longer time and better opportunity of ascertaining them than the officer of the Lion.
the bushes and underwood. Abundance of birds' eggs are to be got in the proper season.
There are large quantities of fish, particularly a kind of large perch, some weighing six pounds ; hle-fish in large shoals, craw-lisli, starfish, and others. They had no nets, and therefore did not catch inuch hish; what they caught was with hook and line, and the craw-fish were thrown up by gales of wind. No other shell-fish were found. The shore is covered with seals, sea lions, and sea-elephants (the tongues of which are reckoned good eating), and whales abound in the offing, particularly of that species called by the wlialers killers. Most of the whates observed in these latitudes were cow-fish.*
In the seven months that Capt. Patten was on shore at Tristan d'Acunha he got five thousand six hundred seal-skins, and could, he says, have loadeu a large ship with oil in three weeks. Both the seaelephants and the sea-lions, as well as the seals, afford large quantities of oil, but as their business was to collect skins for the China market, they only killed such seals as suited their purposes. September he reckoned to be the best month for making oil at these islands. · The middle of the large island rises in the shape of a sugar-loaf, and is very much elevated. Trees grow half way up, but higher up the mountain consists of bare and rugged rocks, frequently hidden by the clouds, and the summit is covered with snow during the greatest part of the year. No snow, however, was observed to fall on the coast. There is a considerable extent of level land between the foot of the mountain and the shore, the soil of which is a fine rich loam, of a red colour and considerable depth, apparently adapted to the production of every kind of vegetable, and, excepting the danger of devastation from high winds, adequate to any cultivation.
The productions of the other islands are nearly the same as those of the large one. There is no safe anchorage at the other islands.
Capt. Patten saw the remains of different wrecks at Tristan d'Acunhá, such as the bowsprit and mast of a cutter, several spars, some of which were worm-eaten, some iron hoops, and other pieces of iron; but he did not perceive the marks or traces of any huts or habitations.
To the eastward are other small islands, such as Cough and Alvarez islands, and the Marsouines, of which we have very imperfect notions. Capt. Colquhoun, of the American brig Betsey, who likewise touched at Tristan d'Acunha, and planted potatoes, onions, and a variety of seeds there, had been at Congh's island in latitude 40 S. and longitude 2' W. which he described as low land, having a bay with good anchorage and abundance of fresh water.
The South-sea whalers call the male whale a bull fish, the female a cow fisb, and their young calves.
THOUGHTS ON THE INEQUALITY OF CONDITIONS.
THERE is nothing which a humane and considerate mind contemplates with more pain, than the great inequality with which the advantages and enjoyments of life are dealt out to different classes
I mean, to take these terms in their common acceptation, and to understand by the enjoyments of life, a plentiful table, lightsome and well furnished apartments, apparel of delicate manufacture, power to command the attendance of others, and freedom from any obligation to coarse or disgusting employments; to labour that exhausts life, or privations that render it of little value.. To these may be added a share of deference, respect, a facility of access to objects of taste and curiosity, with all those other circumstances through which the rich feel their superiority over the poor. I know very well that with philosophers these advantages are of little or no account; they can prove by many learned and logical arguments that external goods have nothing to do with happiness, which resides exclusively in the mind. We are therefore bound to believe that these gentlemen; though they appear to enjoy a good table, or an elegant carriage as well as their neighbours, in fact regard them with perfect indifferences for which reason I beg to be considered as only addressing those who share in the common feelings of mankind, and who are therefore apt, at times, to repine that in the common blessings of it there should exist so striking a disproportion.
The honourable origin of this disproportion is industry. By the order of Providence the advantages of life are made the reward of diligence, active exertion, and superior talent, According as a man iş distinguished by these, his share will of course encrease at the expenice of his weaker or more indolent neighbour. But this alone would not account for the prodigious accumulation which by degrees takes place, were it not that this larger share generates power; and here begins the mischief, for power embanks and confines the riches which otherwise would disperse and flow back in various channels to the community at large. Power enables the indolent and the useless not only to retain, but to add to their possessions, by taking from the industrious the natural reward of their labour, and applying it to their own use. I enables them to limit the profits and exact the services of the rest of the community, and to make such an unnatural separation between the enjoyment of a thing and the power of producing it, that where we sce the one, we are habitually led to infer the privation of the other. The sinews of industry become relaxed by the plenty it produces, but the gripe of power is firm, and can only be unloosed by power. All the fences of law are provided, all the watchfulness of suspicion is awakened, all the salutary prejudices are cherished which may serve to keep clown those who are already undermost, and 10 secure to those who have once acquired them the enjoyments and advantages of life. Since
things are so, how is it, it may be asked, that they are not worse? How is it that this continual tendency to accumulation has not long ago centered in a few hands all that is valuable in life? . To solve this difficulty we must recollect, that as in the material, so in the mural world, there are opposite laws and tendencies which counteract each other, so that the weaker, though it never can subdue the stronger, yet acts as a continual check upon it, and serves to prevent it from ever passing a certain point. In this light I have often considered with pleasure those levelling principles which are constantly at work, and prevent the aecumulating principle, not indeed from preponderating to a degree that often shocks humanity, but at least from entirely destroying the balance of society.
The first of these levelling principles is, the number of adventitious wants and infirmities which take possession of a rich man, and make him dependent on those who administer to them. The enjoyments of sense are limited, those of fancy are infinite. If the rich had no fantastic wants, it is probable no more poor would be suffered to subsist in a country than would suffice to procure a plentiful subsistence for the owners of the soil; just as we maintain no more oxen than will serve for food, or horses than are wanted for the draft or the saddle; the rest of the land would lie uncultivated, as indeed it does, whenever those who possess the property of it are not stimulated by some advantage to themselves to make it productive. In conformity with this idea, we always use the phrase of a numerous poor; a burdensome poor, a country overstocked with poor, whenever, from any accidental overflow, they happen to exist in grealer numbers than we can conveniently use. But in general, where taste and fashion exist, their various demands are drawing off, by numberless little channels, that wealth which its possessor would not otherwise be induced to part with. Nor is mere subsistence all that is thus gained; those tastes, to supply which talent is required, require also education, they require a certain degree of affluence, they bring the different ranks into contact with each other. The rude hind from his mud-walled cottage may raise corn for the table of the nobleman; but if the latter chuses to have an artist, he must occasionally admit him to that table. Leonardo da Vinci died in the arms of Francis the first. The wants of taste, and they alone, supply a gradation of ranks; for the man who is able to administer to the more refined pleasures of life, himself requires to be placed several rounds above the foot of the ladder.
Another levelling principle, akin to the former, is that personal consequence which is the result of personal capacity and experience. Of this no artificial state of society, no station of inferiority, not even a state of slavery itself, can entirely divest its possessor. Skill is power. The owner of a large house and domain may call himself, if he pleases, the master of them, and in a certain sense he is so, for all his dependants are labouring for hím; but he cannot deprive his steward, his butler, his gardener, his cook, even his dairy.maid, of that importance which arises from their understanding what he does not understand. He may give general orders, but if he attempts to interfere in