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ARGENTINE REPUBLIC AND URUGUAY.
his ground as much as he chose; but it has frequently been necessary to post soldiers at the sluices, to see that each estate took only its proper allowance during so many hours in the week.
HIBERNATION OF ANIMALS.
WHEN we first arrived at Bahia Blanca, September 7th, 1832, we thought nature had granted scarcely a living crea ture to this sandy and dry country. By digging, however, in the ground, several insects, large spiders, and lizards were found in a half-torpid state. On the 15th, a few animals began to appear, and by the 18th (three days from the equinox), everything announced the commencement of spring. The plains were ornamented by the flowers of a pink woodsorrel, wild pease, and geraniums; and the birds began to lay their eggs. Numerous insects were crawling slowly about; while the lizard tribe, the constant inhabitants of a sandy soil, darted about in every direction. During the first eleven days, while nature was dormant, the average temperature was 51°; and in the middle of the day the thermometer seldom ranged above 55°. On the eleven succeeding days, in which all living things became so animated, the average was 58°, and the range in the middle of the day between 60° and 70°. Here, then, an increase of seven degrees in the average temperature, but a greater one of extreme heat, was sufficient to awaken the functions of life. At Montevideo, from which we had just before sailed, in the twenty-three days included be tween the 26th of July and the 19th of August, the average
temperature was 58.4°, the average hottest day being 65.5°, and the coldest 46°. The lowest point to which the thermom eter fell was 41.5°, and occasionally in the middle of the day it rose to 69° or 70°. Yet with this high temperature, almost every beetle, several genera of spiders, snails, and land-shells, toads and lizards, were all lying torpid beneath stones. But we have seen that at Bahia Blanca, which is four degrees southward, and therefore has a climate only a very little colder, this same temperature, with a rather less extreme heat, was sufficient to awake all orders of animated beings. This shows how nicely the arousing of hibernating animals is governed by the usual climate of the district, and not by the absolute heat.
WHAT are the boasted glories of the illimitable ocean? A tedious waste, a desert of water, as the Arabian calls it. No doubt there are some delightful scenes: a moonlight night, with the clear heavens and the dark glittering sea, and the white sails filled by the soft air of a gently-blowing trade-wind; a dead calm, with the heaving surface polished like a mirror, and all still except the occasional flapping of the canvas. It is well once to behold a squall with its rising arch and coming fury, or the heavy gale of wind and mountainous waves. I confess, however, my imagination had painted something more grand, more terrific in the fullgrown storm. It is an incomparably finer spectacle when beheld on shore, where the waving trees, the wild flight of
THE PACIFIC AND INDIAN OCEANS.
the birds, the dark shadows and bright lights, the rushing of the torrents, all proclaim the strife of the unloosed elements. At sea the al
deed different, but the feelings partake more of horror than of wild delight.
It is necessary to sail over the Pacific to comprehend its immensity. Moving quickly onward for weeks together, we meet with nothing but the same blue, profoundly deep ocean. Even within the archipelagoes the islands are mere specks, and far distant one from the other. Accustomed to look at maps drawn on a small scale, where dots, shading, and names are crowded together, we do not rightly judge how infinitely small the proportion of dry land is to the water of this vast expanse.
ON the first of April, 1836, we arrived in view of the Keeling or Cocos Islands, situated in the Indian Ocean, and
about six hundred miles distant from the coast of Sumatra.
This is one of the lagoon islands (or atolls) of coral formation. Its ringformed reef is surmounted in the greater part of its length by narrow islets. On the northern or leeward side there is an opening through which vessels can pass to the anchorage within -the shallow, clear, and still water of the lagoon, which, resting in its great
er part on white sand, is, when illumined by a vertical sun, of the most vivid
On the 6th I accompanied Captain Fitz Roy to an island at the head of the lagoon. The channel was exceedingly intricate, winding through fields of delicately branched corals. When we arrived at the head, we crossed a narrow islet, and found a great surf breaking on the windward coast. I can hardly explain the reason, but there is to my mind much grandeur in the view of the outer shores of these lagoon islands. There is a simplicity in the barrier-like beach, the margin of green bushes and tall cocoa-nuts, the solid flat of dead coral-rock, strewed here and there with great loose frag ments, and the line of furious breakers, all rounding away toward either hand. The ocean, throwing its waters over
the broad reef, appears an invincible, all-powerful enemy; yet we see it resisted and even conquered by means which at first seem most weak and inefficient. It is not that the ocean spares the rock of coral: the great fragments scattered over the reef, and heaped on the beach, whence the tall cocoa-nut springs, plainly bespeak the unrelenting power of the waves. Nor are any periods of repose granted. The long swell caused by the gentle but steady action of the trade-wind, always blowing in one direction over a wide area, causes breakers almost equalling in force those during a gale of wind in the temperate regions, and which never cease to rage. It is impossible to behold these waves without feeling a con
viction that an island, though built of the hardest rock, let it be porphyry, granite, or quartz, would ultimately yield, and be demolished by such an irresistible power. Yet these low, insignificant coral islets stand and are victorious; for here another power, as an antagonist, takes part in the contest.