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The natives came off and hovered round the ship in canoes ; tall and well-shaped, with high foreheads, and aquiline noses, they seemed to differ somewhat from the generality of the South Sea islanders; their hair, neatly tied up, was adorned with wreaths of flowers and coloured shells; and cylinders of green leaves or of tortoise shells, three inches in diameter, hung from their ears. Two or three days afterwards, they fell in with a chain of islands extending from lat. 6° to lat. 120, long. 187° to long. 193° W. or rather a succession of groups, each consisting of a circular reef of coral rocks, out of which, at irregular distances, rose a number of small flat islands, richly covered with the bread fruit, the pandanus and cocoa-nut trees. Captain Krusenstern claims for Lieutenant Kotzebue the merit of having first discovered these groups; but we can scarcely permit ourselves to doubt that they are the same which were seen by Captain Marshall, in the Scarborough, in 1788, and by the Nautilus, in 1799, and named on the charts the Nautilus, the Chatham, and Calvert's Islands. We readily admit, however, that if Lieutenant Kotzebue be not the first discoverer of these islands, he is, at all events, the first who has made us acquainted with their true position ;' and we are disposed to allow him the further merit of having thrown much additional light on the nature and formation of those singular coral groups, which rise out of the Pacific, in circular chains, like fairy rings in a meadow, almost through its whole extent from east to west, and from the 30th parallel of northern, to the same parallel of southern latitude.
It has long been known, that the upper surface of these islands, usually known by the general name of Coral Rocks, is composed of calcareous fragments of a great variety of forms, the production of marine animals; and, since the voyages of Cook, Flinders, D'Entrecasteaux, and others, it has been as generally supposed, that these minute creatures began their wonderful fabrics at the very depth of the ocean, building upwards from the bottom, and that each generation, dying in its cells, was succeeded by others, building upon the labours of their predecessors, and thus rising in succession till they reached the surface. This was surnised to be the process, from the circumstance of the sea being found so deep, close to the external side of the reef, as frequently to be unfathomable. It now appears that this is not precisely the case. The facility with which the little vessel of Kotzebue entered through the open spaces in the surrounding reef or dam, into the included lagoon, enabled M. Chamisso to inspect more narrowly the nature of these extraordinary fabrics, and to give á inore distinct and intelligible account of their origin and progress. From the circumstance of their being grouped only in certain spots of the Pacific,
and always in an united though irregular chain, generally more or less approaching to a circle, he was led to conclude that the coralanimals lay the foundation of their edifices on shoals in the ocean, or perhaps, more correctly speaking, on the summits of those submarine mountains, which advance sufficiently near the surface to afford them as much light and heat as may be necessary for their operations. The extreme depth at which they can perform their functions has not yet been ascertained; but it was found, on the late Voyage of Discovery, that in Baffin's Bay, marine animals existed at the depth of one thousand fathoms, and in a temperature below the freezing point. The outer edge of the reef exposed to the surf is the first that shows itself above water, and consists of the largest blocks of coral rock, composed of madrepores mixed with various shells, and the spines of the sea hedge-hog, which break into large tablets, and are so compact, as to sound loudly under the hammer. On the sloping side of the inner ridge or reef, the animals discovered in the act of carrying on their operations, were the tubipora musica, the millepora cærulea, distichopora, actinias, and various kinds of polypus. The living branches of the lythophytes were generally attached to the dead stems; many of the latter, however, crumbled into sand, which, accumulating on the inner declivity, constitutes a considerable part of the surface of the new islands.
The ridge or reef when once above water on the windward side, extends itself by slow degrees till it has surrounded the whole plateau of the submarine mountain, leaving in the middle an enclosed lake, into which are passages, more or less deep; coinmunicating with the ocean; the islets formed on the reef or wall are smaller or larger, according to accidental circumstances. Chamisso observed, that the smaller species of corals' had sought a quiet abode within the lagoon, where they were silently and slowly throwing up banks, which in process of time unite with the islets that surround them, and at length fill up the lagoon, so that what was at first a ring of islands, becomes one connected mass of land. The progress towards a state fit for the habitation of man is thus described by the naturalist.
* As soon as it has reached such a height, that it remains almost dry at low water, at the time of ebb, the corals leave off building higher; sea-shells, fragments of coral, sea hedge-hog shells, and their broken off prickles are united by the burning sun, through the medium of the cementing calcareous sand, which has arisen from the pulverisation of the above-mentioned shells, into one whole or solid stone, which, strengthened by the continual throwing up of new materials, gradually increases in thickness, till it at last becomes so high, that it is covered only during some seasons of the year by the high tides. The heat of . A A2
the sun so penetrates the mass of stone when it is dry, that it splits in many places, and breaks off in flakes. These flakes, so separated, are raised one upon another by the waves at the time of high water. The always active surf throws blocks of coral (frequently of a fathom in length, and three or four feet thick) and shells of marine animals between and upon the foundation stones; after this the calcareous sand lies undisturbed, and offers to the seeds of trees and plants cast upon it by the waves, a soil upon which they rapidly grow to overshadow its dazzling white surface. Entire trunks of trees, which are carried by the rivers from other countries and islands, find here, at length, a resting place, after their long wanderings : with these come some small animals, such as lizards and insects, as the first inhabitants. Even before the trees form a wood, the real sea-birds nestle here; strayed landbirds take refuge in the bushes; and at a much later period, when the work has been long since coinpleted, man also appears, builds his hut on the fruitful soil formed by the corruption of the leaves of the trees, and calls himself lord and proprietor of this new creation.'-vol. iii. pp. 331-3.
The reflections of Kotzebue are just and natural :
The spot on which I stood filled me with astonishment, and I adored in silent admiration the omnipotence of God, who had given even to these minute animals the power to construct such a work. My thoughts were confounded when I consider the immense series of years that must elapse before such an island can rise from the fathomless abyss of the ocean, and become visible on the surface. At a future period they will assume another 'shape; all the islands will join, and form a circular slip of earth, with a pond or lake in the circle; and this forın will again change, as these animals continue building, till they reach the surface, and then the water will one day vanish, and only one great island be visible. It is a strange feeling to walk about on a living island, where all below is actively at work. And to what corner of the earth can we penetrate where human beings are not already to be found ? In the remotest regions of the north, amidst mountains of ice, under the burning sun of the equator, nay, even in the middle of the ocean, on islands which have been formed by animals, they are met with !- vol. ii. p. 36.
The inhabitants of this group seemed to differ little from those of Polynesia in general. The men were tall, and well made; they wore their black hair neatly knotted upon the head, and decorated with wreaths of flowers, and had cylinders of tortoise-shell, also ornamented with flowers, hanging from the ears. The women were extremely bashful, retiring, and modest. Kotzebue and his associates went through every part of the group of islands, without the least apprehension from the natives, whom they invariably found mild, inoffensive, and obliging. “I was unarmed, (he says,) for I felt myself quite secure among these kind-hearted children of Nature, who, to amuse me, would play and dance before me.? It was evident they had never before seen white men; for, on their first approach, they were dreadfully terrified, and it was some time before they could be prevailed on to visit the ship: the hogs and dogs on board greatly alarmed them, and were considered as huge rats, the only quadrupeds with which they were acquainted..
Among their most useful plants were the cocoa-nut tree, the pandanus, and the bread-fruit, which furnished them with food, raiment, and lodging.
“The fruit of the pandanus constitutes in Radack the food of the people. The compound fibrous stone-fruits which compose the conical fruit, contain a spicy juice at their basis, the point where they are fixed. To obtain this juice, the fruit is first beaten with a stone, the fibres chewed, and pressed in the mouth. The fruit is also baked in pits, after the manner of the South Sea, not so much to eat it in this state, as to prepare mogan from it, a spicy dry confectionary, which is carefully preserved as a valuable stock for long voyages. To prepare the mogan all the members of one or more families are employed. From the stone-fruits, as they come out of the baking-pit, the condensed juice is expressed by passing them over the edge of a shell, then spread out on a grate, covered with leaves, exposed over a slight charcoal fire to the sun, and dried. The thin slices, as soon as they are sufficiently dried, are rolled up tight, and these rolls then neatly wrapped in the leaves of the tree, and tied up. The kernel of this fruit is well tasted, but difficult to be obtained, and is often neglected. From the leaves of the pandanus the women prepare all sorts of mats, as well the square ones with elegant borders, which serve as aprons, as those which are used as ship’s sails, and the thicker ones for sleeping upon.'—-vol. iii. p. 150.
The naturalist seems to think that these children of nature were somewhat restrained from the besetting vice of savages, that of appropriating to themselves the property of others, by a person of the name of Kadu, from the reef of Ulea, (one of the numerous islets forming the great group of the Carolinas, and distant from this place at least fifteen hundred miles,) and who, though he had never seen an European ship, or European man, had heard much of both. This extraordinary character, notwithstanding all the entreaties of his friends, determined to accompany Lieut. Kotze. bue ; and when they became enabled to understand each other, they learned from him, that having one day left Ulea in a sailing boat, with three of his countrymen, a violent storm arose, and drove them out of their course; that they drifted about the open sea for eight months, according to their reckoning by the moon, making a knot on a cord at every new moon. Being expert fishermen, they subsisted entirely on the produce of the sea'; and when the rain fell, laid in as much fresh water as they had vessels to contain it. "Kadu, says Kotzebue, who was the best diver, frequently went down to the bottom of the sea, where it is well known that the water is not
so salt, with a cocoa-nut (shell) with only a small opening.'* When these unfortunate men reached the isles of Radack, however, every hope and almost every feeling bad died within them; their sail had long been destroyed, their canoe long been the sport of winds and waves; and they were picked up by the inhabitants of Aur, in a state of insensibility. Three or four years had elapsed since their arrival, and Kadu had taken a wife, by whom he had one child; notwithstanding which he came up to Kotzebue, and, with a firm and determined voice and look, said, “I will remain with you wherever you go.' His friends endeavoured to dissuade him, and even to drag him from the ship; but his resolution was not to be shaker, and when the time of departure arrived, he took an affect. ing leave of his friends and family, distributed bis little property among them, and embarked on board the Rurick.
Before they left the group, however, Kotzebue thought it right to tell him that he had no intention of revisiting the islands of Radack; and that he was about to proceed on a long and fatiguing voyage. He threw his arms around me, (says Kotzebue,) vowed to stay with me till death; and nothing remained for me but to keep him, and with a firm determination to provide for him as a father.' M. Chamisso has given several anecdotes illustrative of the mild and amiable character of Kadu, who soon became a great favourite of the officers and men of the Rurick. We once only (says the naturalist) saw this mild man angry;' and this was occasioned by some of the crew having removed a little collection of stones which he had formed, to a place where he could vot find them. He continued during the voyage to conduct himself with great propriety; but on the return of the ship to the same group, he as suddenly changed his mind of continuing with Kotzebue as he had previously formed that resolution, and determined to abide with his friends :--the account which he received of the inelancholy state of his little daughter after his departure, was supposed to be the motive of this change; the reason assigned by himself, however, was, that he wished to superintend the new plants and animals which had been collected for the use of the natives, at the Sandwich Islands, and other places visited by the Rurick.
The Rurick sailed about the middle of March to renew her northern discovery; and on the 13th of April had reached the lat. 44° 30',_'a frightful day, (says Kotzebue,) which blasted all my fairest hopes. A tremendous storm had nearly overwhelmed his little vessel; and he was thrown with such violence against a projecting corner of his cabin, that he was obliged to keep his bed for several days. On the 24th the ship reached Oonalashka, and op
* Chamisso states this circumstance more cautiously; he brought up cooler water, (he says) which, ' according to their opinion,' was likewise less salt.