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MONG the scenes which are deeply impressed on my
mind, none exceed in sublimity the primeral forests, undefaced by the hand of man—whether those of Brazil, where the powers of Life are predominant, or those of Tierra del Fuego, where Death and Decay prevail. Both are temples filled with the varied productions of the God of Nature. No one can stand in these solitudes unmoved, and not feel that there is more in man than the mere breath of his body.
In tropical forests, when quietly walking along the shady pathways, and admiring each successive view, I wished to find language to express my ideas. Epithet after epithet was found too weak to convey to those who have not visited the intertropical regions the sensation of delight which the mind experiences. The land is one great, wild, untidy, luxuriant hot-bouse, made by Nature for herself, but taken possession of by man, who has studded it with gay houses and formal gardens. How great would be the desire in every admirer of nature to behold, if such were possible, the scenery of another planet! Yet to every person in Europe it may be truly said that, at the distance of only a few degrees from his native soil, the glories of another world are opened to
him. In my last walk I stopped again and again to gaze on these beauties, and endeavored to fix in my mind forever an impression which, at the time, I knew must sooner or later fail. The form of the orange- tree, the cocoa - nut, the palm, the mango, the tree-fern, the banana, will remain clear and separate; but the thousand beauties which unite these into one perfect scene must fade away.
THE KAURI PINE.
Ar Waimate, in New Zealand, two mis. sionary gentlemen walked with me to part of a neighboring forest, to show me the famous kauri pine. I measured one of these
. noble trees and found it thirty-one feet in circumference above the roots. There was another close by, which I did not see, thirty-three feet; and I heard of one no less than forty feet. These trees are remarkable for their smooth cylindrical boles, which run up to a height of sixty, and even ninety, feet, with a nearly equal diameter, and without a single branch. The crown of branches at the top is out of all proportion small to the trunk; and the leaves are likewise small compared with the branches. The forest was here almost composed of the kauri, and the largest trees stood up like gigantic columns of wood.
TIERRA DEL FUEGO,
any great size.
The central part of Tierra del Fuego, where the clay-slate formation occurs, is most favorable to the growth of trees; on the outer coast the poorer granitic soil, and a situation more exposed to the violent winds, do not allow of their attaining
Near Port Famine I have seen more large trees than anywhere else: I measured a winter's-bark which was four feet six inches in girth, and several of the beech were as much as thirteen feet. Captain King also mentions a beech which was seven feet in diameter seventeen feet above the roots.
There is one marine production which, from its impor. tance, is worthy of a particular history; it is the kelp (or Macrocystis pyrifera). This plant grows on every rock, from low-water mark to a great depth, both on the outer coast of Tierra del Fuego and within the channels. I believe, during the voyages of the Adventure and Beagle, not one rock near the surface was discovered which was not buoyed by this floating weed. The good service it thus affords to vessels navigating near this stormy land is evident; and it certainly has saved many a one from being wrecked. I know few things more surprising than to see this plant growing and flourishing amidst those great breakers of the western ocean, which no mass of rock, let it be ever so hard, can long resist. The stem is round, slimy, and smooth, and seldom has a diameter
TIERRA DEL FUEGO,
of so much as an inch. A few taken together are sufficiently strong to support the weight of the large loose stones to
which, in the inland channels, they grow attached; and yet some of these stones were so heavy that, when drawn to the surface, they could scarcely be lifted into a boat by one per
son. Captain Cook, in his second voyage, says that this plant, at Kerguelen Land, rises from a greater depth than twentyfour fathoms; “and as it does not grow in a perpendicular direction, but makes a very acute angle with the bottom, and much of it afterward spreads many fathoms on the surface of the sea, I am well warranted to say that some of it grows to the length of sixty fathoms and upward.” I do not suppose the stem of any other plant attains so great a length as three hundred and sixty feet, as stated by Captain Cook. Captain Fitz Roy, moreover, found it growing up from the greater depth of forty-five fathoms. The beds of this seaweed, even when not of great breadth, make excellent natural floating breakwaters. It is quite curious to see, in an exposed harbor, how soon the waves from the open sea, as they travel through the straggling stems, sink in height and pass into smooth water.
The number of living creatures whose existence intimately depends on the kelp is wonderful. A great volume might be written describing the inhabitants of one of these beds of sea-weed. Almost all the leaves, excepting those that float on the surface, are so thickly incrusted with corallines as to be of a white color. On shaking the great entangled roots, a pile of small fish, shells, cuttle-fish, crabs, sea-eggs, star-fish, etc., all fall out together. Often as I went back to a branch of the kelp, I never failed to discover animals of new and curious structures. I can only compare these great water forests of the southern hemisphere with the land forests in the intertropical regions. Yet, if in any country a forest was destroyed, I do not believe nearly so many species