Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Horner's paper, that it is more complete in its accompaniments, 'than any other in this volume, being illustrated both by a map of the country, and sections of the rocks.

The only other memoir in this collection which we shall now mention, is a sketch of the Geology of Madeira, by the Honourable H. G. Bennet.

The short, but interesting, sketch contained in this paper, concludes with the following remarks.

“ To my mind, the most interesting geological facts, are the intersection of the lava by dikes at right angles with the strata. -dly, The rapid dips which the strata make, particularly the overlaying of that of the Brazen Head to the eastward of Funchal, where the blue, grey, and red lavas are rolled up in one mass, as if they had slipped together from an upper stratum.-dly, The colunınar form of the lava itself, reposing on, and covered by, beds of scoriæ, ashes and pumice, which affords a strong argument for the volcanic origin of the columns themselves. And, 4thly, the veins of carbonate of lime and zeolite, which are not found here in solitary pieces, as in the vicinity of Ætna and Vesuvius, but are amid the lavas and in the strata of pumice and tufa, and are diffused on the lava itself, and occasionally crystallized in its cavities.”

These remarks excite great curiosity about the detail of the facts, which prove the rocks here enumerated to be really of volcanic origin. The presence of carbonate of lime is certainly inconsistent with the idea, that the rocks in which it is contained have been in fusion at the surface of the earth, and under a pressure no greater than that of our atmosphere; as, in such circumstances, the heat would have driven off the carbonic acid, and left the calcareous earth in the state of quicklime. It is, however, by no means inconsistent with the action of volcanic force at the bottom of the sea. This follows as a natural corollary, froin the experiments of Sir James Hall on the effects of heat modified by compression. The facts described by Mr Bennet have a great resemblance to those communicated by Sir George Mackenzie to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, in the course of the last winter. It is curious to see the truths of geology confirmed by witnesses brought from points so distant; and to find Iceland and Madeira joining to attest the same facts, and to support the same theory.

Though we have confined ourselves to the geological papers in this volume, we have not been able to extend our observations to them all. Another paper, by Dr Berger, on the Geology of some parts of Hampshire and Dorsetshire;--one on the Souffriere of the Island of Mountserrat, by Dr Nugent ;-a Notice

P2

on the Geological Structure of the Vicinity of Dublin, by Dr Fitton, which, viewing it as a Notice, has considerable merit;and another Notice accompanying the Section of Heligoland, by two Officers of Engineers, are highly deserving of attention.

We cannot, however, take leave of this volume, without congratulating the public on the institution of a Society particularly devoted to geological researches. The beginning is fair, and augurs

well for the future. At the same time, we must take the liberty of suggesting another service which a Society of this nature may be able to render to science; nay, we will even say, a duty which it is strongly called on to perform. We should hope that a Society, seriously interested for the advancement of Geology, will not rest satisfied with observation, but will undertake what may be called geological experiments. In

general, one who pursues this study, has only the means of observing the facts that spontaneously offer, or those which the arts have accidentally brought to light, with views very different from the acquisition of science. He is accordingly often cruelly disappointed. When he has traced some fact through a variety of gradations, and thinks himself on the point of ascertaining the whole truth, some obstacle, accidental in itself, and such as a little industry could easily remove, puts an entire stop to his inquiry. Every man who has busied himself in the examination of the earth's surface, must have often experienced such mortifications. The causes of them are no doubt frequently beyond the power of skill or industry to overcome; but they are often such as, though an individual cannot remove them, would readily yield to the efforts of a Society, which would raise and appropriate a fund for such purposes. How many useful experiments, with such assistance, might be made ! Nothing, for instance, could be more instructive than to know how deep the alluvial ground reaches which we find in the beds of rivers, and especially near their mouths; and in what proportion this depth decreases, as we approach the mountains. This is one of the points on which Nature herself rarely affords full information; which, however, might be obtained by the simple operation of boring in proper situations. ... The succession of the rocks, as we descend, might be determined in the same manner in those countries where the strata. are horizontal and unbroken, and where, of course, Nature sel. dom affords the means of making such observations. The junction or contact of different kinds of rock, is one of the objects. most interesting to a geologist: but, how often does he come within a few hundred yards, nay, in some cases, within a few feet, of that junction, and yet is unable to discover the exact line, on account of a quantity of earth or gravel, which is not to be

removed

removed without more time and expense than he can afford to bestow.

Evident as is the value of such experiments, we know but of very few instances in which they have been attempted. If we mistake not, the Duc de Choiseul Gouffier caused pits to be dug, or borings to be made on the banks of the Meander, so renowned for the windings, and consequently the changes of its course, in order to discover to what depth its workings extended. A geologist of our own country, no less skilful than zealous in the pursuit of science, has given several examples of a similar kind. Sir James Hall has, in many instances, removed the veil which the alluvial soil had drawn across some of the most instructive spots that have been met with in the mineral kingdom, and has caused models to be made, exhibiting the phenomena he discovered. These, we believe, are the only luciferous experiments, of which geology can yet boast. A Society, forming itself into a body, for the purpose of directing and executing such experiments, would mark an era in the history of this science; and, we have no doubt, would open up fields of observation that are at present entirely concealed. It would give us great pleasure to think, that, in the institution of the Geological Society, we are to hail the commencement of such an era.

ART. X. Voyage aux Indes Orientales, pendant les Années

1802, 1803, 1804, 1805 et 180S, contenant la Description du Cap de Bonne-Esperance, des Iles de France, Bonaparte, Java, Bornen, et de la l'ille de Batavia ; des Observations sur le Comiserce et les Productions de leier's Puys, sur les Maurs et les Usages de leurs Habitans, 8c. Avec un Atlas, par Ch. F. Tombe. Revni, et augmenté de plusieurs Notes et Eclaircisse

mens, par M. Sonini. 2 Tom. 8vo. Paris, 1810. Tur "He information alluriled by this work is not very import

ant; but it conducts us over interesting ground ; and brings again into view topics, the consideration of which we have, perhaps, too long intermitted. While sinister interest and servility are actively working upon the prejudices and ignorance of the public, for the prolongation of abuses by which individuals profit, it is proper that some attempt should be made to direct the attention of the country to the true state of the fact. It is not the cry of speculation ! raised against all prospective views; it is not the cry of innovation ! raised against the proposal of all measures contrived to avert forescen calamiļies, that will support the country under a continuance of comP3

mersia

mercial bankruptcies; that will open new, to supply the loss of ancient channels of trade; that will animate industry under the pressure of unexampled burthens, and increase the productive powers of the country, under a continued drain of its resources, A quict acquiescence in things as they are, is a delightful opiate to a nation in peril--and, like other opiates, will always be prescribed by those who consult their patients' present satisfaction, rather than thcir ultimate safety.

On no subject has the listlessness and indifference incident to nations with respect to the common weal, been more remarkably displayed than in England with respect to the affairs of India. A total ignorance of the subject is general, even among well informed people. The notions which have been propagated, are those which it concerned interested individuals to propagate. Prejudices accordingly have gained the field; and to such a degree, that the only measures accommodated to the situation of our affairs, measures recommended by the most obvious principles of policy, and most familiarly adopted in every enlightened government, have been very generally represented as the suggestions of paradoxical ingenuity, and rejected, in many instances, without the ceremony of a hearing. Events, however, will not permit a long continuance in this course. They are hurrying us on to results which will only be the more fatal, that they coine unforeseen. A commercial company, excluding the rest of the public from a boasted commerce, yet coming annually to the pockets of that excluded public for support, will not always be endured. sovereignty, entrusted to a small body of merchants, and so managed as not to yield any thing in the balance of receipts and supplies, but to draw largely and constantly from us, is a prodigy in politics, which an enlightened age cannot long continue to regard with indiference. A perpetual deficit in the finances of such a sovereignty, and such a commerce, cannot fail, sooner or later, to produce an explosion. Promises perpetually belied by experience; pretexts a thousand tịmes brought forward, and a thousand times refused, wji in tine cease to delade.

The branch of the subject which is more particularly brought into view in the work before us, is the New Enpire, as it may very proper's we called, which, within a few years past, has been added the comercial dominion of the East India Comjpany. it is that union which, for a number of centuries, was occupied with brilliant fortune by the Dutch. V. Tombe sailed from Nantes to the Cole of Good Here, and thence to the Isle of France; and ron the Isle of krivice to the Eastern chipelago; to Sumatra, Java, Bornco, Timor, the Molucca,

and

A great

and other islands; and, lastly, to Ceylon. On the physical and moral circumstances of these places, and their commercial and political relations, he offers such notices as his observations and reading supplied. There is but little in his volume which is new; for he had not the best opportunities, and he was not the fittest man in the world to profit by them. The history, however, of the field over which he passed, excites many reflections. This is the very field of that celebrated spice trade, which first tempted the other nations of Europe to break the monopoly which the Portuguese, as the first discoverers, claimed in the Indian Seas. It is that envied trade which excited so much desire, and produced such eager efforts, for several ages, among the English ; which formed the object of so persevering and acrimonious a rivalship between them and the Dutch ; which produced the massacre of Amboyna, and the unrelenting contests to which the interests of both nations in India were well nigh sacrificed. It is that trade which contributed so much to the grandeur and power of Holland ; which was for nges the envy of all the commercial nations of Europe ; and which the Dutch guarded from competition with such exquisite jealousy and care.

One of the effects of the war in which the French revolution involved us with Holland, was to bring into our possession the whole scene of this splendid commerce. But, did we derive from it any of those advantages which it had produced to its first proprietors ? Alas, no! And the reason is obvious. The East India Company had no capital for it. They had not enough, indeed, for the business of their own territory, and they would not permit any one else to enter into the career, for fear the inonopoly should suffer. Rather than run that risk--rather than agree to participate with their countrymen in the advantages of a trade which they possessed, but could not occupy--they chose, at the peace of Amiens, actually to advise giving up, what had constituted for centuries the most brilliant commerce of the globe, to a foreign nation--to our inveterate enemies--to the French, in short, under the name of the Dutch ! Upon the renewal of the war, the stations of the Dutch trade again fell into our hands. And what, again, has been the consequence? The Company has had less trade, and the nation dearer spices, since the acquisition, than before. The commercial capital invested by the Company in the annual purchase of Indian goods, instead of increasing in proportion to the extent of the new channels of trade obtained by the new circunisiances of the nation, has decreased, and that in a degree of which ihe public is far from being aware,—in a degree which it will not be Basy for it to believe. It has gradually dwindled down to little

« AnteriorContinuar »