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The living polyps separate the atoms of carbonate of lime, one by one, from the foaming breakers, and unite them into a symmetrical structure. Let the hurricane tear up its thousand huge fragments; yet what will that tell against the accumulated labor of myriads of architects at work night and day, month after month? Thus do we see the soft and gelati
nous body of a polypus, through the agency of the vital laws, conquering the great mechanical power of the waves of an ocean which neither the art of man nor the inanimate works of nature could successfully resist.
A few miles north of Keeling there is another small atoll, the lagoon of which is nearly filled up with coral mud. Cap
tain Ross found embedded in the conglomerate on the outer coast a well-moulded fragment of greenstone, rather larger than a man's head. He and the men with him were so much surprised at this that they brought it away and preserved it as a curiosity. The occurrence of this one stone, where every other particle of matter is of lime, certainly is very puzzling. The island has scarcely ever been visited, nor is it probable that a ship had been wrecked there. From the absence of any better explanation, I came to the conclusion that it must have become entangled in the roots of some large tree; when, however, I considered the great distance from the nearest land, the combination of chances against a stone thus being entangled, the tree washed into the sea, floated so far, then landed safely, and the stone finally so embedded as to allow of its discov. ery, I was almost afraid of imagining a means of transport apparently so improbable. It It was, therefore, with great interest that I found Chamisso, the justly distinguished raturalist who accompanied Kotzebue, stating that the inhabi tants of the Radack Archipelago (a group of lagoon islands in the midst of the Pacific) obtained stones for sharpening their instruments by searching the roots of trees which are cast upon the beach. It will be evident that this must have happened several times, since laws have been established that such stones belong to the chief, and a punishment is inflicted on any one who attempts to steal them.
In the morning of April 12th we stood out of the lagoon.
on our passage to the Isle of France. I am glad we have visited these islands: such formations surely rank high among the wonderful objects of this world. Captain Fitz Roy found no bottom with a line seven thousand two hundred feet in length, at the distance of only two thousand two hundred
GROWTH OF CORAL ON A MOUNTAIN SLOWLY SUBSIDING.
yards from the shore; hence this island forms a lofty submarine mountain, with sides steeper even than those of the most abrupt volcanic cone. The saucer-shaped summit is nearly ten miles across; and every single atom, from the least particle to the largest fragment of rock in this great pile (which, however, is small compared with very many lagoon islands), bears the stamp of having been subjected to organic arrangement. We feel surprised when travellers tell us of the vast dimensions of the Pyramids and other great ruins; but how utterly insignificant are the greatest of these when compared to these mountains of stone, accumulated by the agency of various minute and tender animals! This is a wonder which does not at first strike the eye of the body but, after reflection, the eye of reason.