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Rippled like flowing waters by the wind,
The hound bayeth loudly,
The boar's in the wood,
To spring from her bood;
She sits like a crest,
With birds from their nest.
Oh! shadow of glory!
Dim image of war!
Her hero no star,
Of empire and chace,
And quake for their race.
In the pride of his might,
To embrace him in fight;
For a spear 'gainst the Mammoth,
At the foaming Behenioth;
As towers in our time,
And, like her, sublime !
Travels in Brazil, in the Years 1817-1820. Undertaken by Command of his Majesty the King of Bavaria.
By Dr. Joseph Baptist Von Spix, and Dr. C. F. Philip Von Martius, Knights of the Royal Bavarian Order of Civil Merit, and Members of the Royal Academy of Sciences at
Munich, &c. &c. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 327-298. That the present age is more distinguished in the walks of literature or the practice of virtue than any which has preceded it, may be, as it has been disputed; but, in the examination of the works of nature, in the accurate investigation of physical phenomena, and the ardent and successful pursuit of scientific inquiry, it has taken the lead, and undoubtedly ranks far above all others. Science has erected her standard on the broad basis of practical utility, her dogmas are no longer the creations of visionary theorists, but the certainties of philosophical induction. Looking at the vast strides which have been made in chemistry, zoology, geology, and the whole circle of physical sciences within the last forty years, and the great benefits which have resulted from them, we are at a loss whether more to admire the skill and perseverance displayed, or the success with which they have been crowned. Our own country has been active in every branch of philosophy. France has produced many excellent chemists, but Germany bears away the palm in mineralogy and geology; sciences intimately connected with each other, and the latter perhaps the most practical of those which date their origin in modern times. A spirit of observation has been excited ; expeditions have been planned and executed, whose object has been the advancement of scientific knowledge by the collection of facts. Much has of late been added to the stores of geography; and the unremitting and perilous exertions of our own Parry have been most honourable to himself and to his country. The discovery of the Western World gave an impulse and direction to philosophical investigation : while the bold and enlightened observer ranges its extensive Savannahs, climbs its lofty mountains, penetrates its mines, and explores its mighty waters,- meeting with objects above, beneath, and around him, to excite his admiration, and increase his stores of knowledge. The philosopher and statesman behold, with a scrutinizing eye, the silent, yet rapid march of civilization among a people, whose enterprizing character, and local situation, destine, at no distant period, to attain a degree of commercial and political importance, rivalling, if not surpassing, the nations of the Old World. It must be confessed, however, that we are still in a great measure ignorant of the internal geography of the southern portion of this extensive continent; and, although the scientific researches of Humboldt, and his companion Bonpland, have brought us better acquainted with the regions colonized by Spain,- yet the interior of Brazil, partly owing to the difficulties presented by nature, and still more to those created by the jealousy of the government, has remained comparatively unexplored; notwithstanding it occupies that portion of the southern continent, which is, beyond comparison, the best situated to attain commercial eminence. "It is, therefore, with pleasure we call the attention of our readers to the work before us. The project entertained by the king of Bavaria, as long back as 1815, of sending out to South America persons of distinguished ability to make observations on the whole range of scientific subjects, does him infinite credit; and, from the manner in which this object has been effected, the choice of the individuals appears to have been most judicious. On the marriage of her imperial highness, Caroline, Josepha Leopoldina, archduchess of Austria, with his royal highness Don Pedro D'Alcantara, crown prince of Portugal, an embassy was appointed by the imperial court to conduct the princess to Brazil, and which was composed of many learned and scientific men. So favourable an opportunity was not to be lost; and, in the early part of 1817, Drs. Von Spix and Martius set off for Vienna on their way to Trieste, where they were to embark. The royal academy of sciences
at Munich had been directed to furnish them with such hints and instructions as were calculated to assist them in their labours. Dr. Spix undertook the departments of Zoology and Geology, and Dr. Martius that of Botany: in addition to a careful attention to every thing within their own departments, they were instructed to examine into the hitherto problematical production of gold, diamonds, and precious stones ; to observe the declination, inclination, and daily variation of the magnetic needle; to experiment upon seawater, and ascertain its temperature, transparency, colour, phosphorescence, and saltness, at various depths, and in various situations; also the temperature of the atmosphere, the phenomenon of the Fata Morgana, the periodical oscillation of the barometer: in short, they were required to note every fact, the knowledge of which might in the remotest degree advance the cause of science. It is with less regret that we pass over the pertinent observations made by our travellers at Vienna, the mines of Idria (which they visited,) and the port of Trieste, as they are all well known. We now proceed to lay before our readers such a synopsis of the work as our limits will permit, and which will serve to recommend it to their notice. Departing from Trieste in an Austrian frigate, they were soon overtaken by one of those sudden storms, to which the Adriatic, in common with all inland seas, is liable; and which, after carrying away the bowsprit, forcing in the cabin windows, and exposing them to considerable danger, obliged them to bear away to Venice to refit. They were afterwards detained by contrary winds at Malta, of which we have an interesting and animated account: a change of wind enabled them to leave this place on the 1st of May, for the Straits. They observe :
"Several phenomena indicated that we were drawing wearer to the great ocean, among which we may particularly mention the greater phosphorescence of the sea. On the voyage from Trieste, we had bitherto seen only detached luminous points in the sea ; but now the ship seemed, in the night-time, to swim in liquid fire, and, as it glided along and beat against the waves, the deck was illumined by a bright light. The sight of this grand and magic nocturnal phenomenon excites the admiration of every beholder, especially if it is the first time he had the opportunity of traversing the liquid element in such splendour. The sea was covered with luminous balls, as large as a hazel-nut, and with every wave that dashed against the ship in its course, it seemed to throw out sparks like hot iron, when it is hammered, or like a catherine-wheel, and lighted up all the surrounding objects. Besides these innumerable balls of fire, there were other larger insulated luminous bladders, most frequently near the ship, but likewise at a distance from it, in places where the waves broke in foam. The darker the night grew, the more
beautiful did the phenomenon appear; and on moonlight nights it was less visible, and only on the side where the shadow of the vessel fell.”.
Those of our readers who have beheld this glorious sight, will recognize the truth of the description. Various attempts have been made to explain this splendid appearance. Forster attributes it to electricity, excited by the friction of the ship; Adanson, Humboldt, and Peron, to mollusca zoophytes and other marine animals. Our authors made several careful observations and experiments on the subject, and the result seems to refer the phenomenon to animalculi and electricity conjointly. For ourselves, we suspect the latter agent is very seldom employed in producing these effects. During the stay of the ship in the bay of Gibraltar, much botanical and other information was collected on shore; but we have nothing new on the subject of the current which constantly sets into the Mediterranean; and it is much to be regretted that the problem of an under-returning current still remains unsolved, particularly as we think there are several simple methods by which this point might be decided ; the specific gravity of the sea-water within the Straits is greater than that of the Atlantic, and this fact seems rather opposed to the doctrine of a sub-current having a westerly direction. There is an obvious inaccuracy in the statement, that the stream in the Straits runs to the eastward at the rate of from four to five leagues an hour! In a work of a scientific nature, a mistake of this kind should have been especially avoided. A run of four days brought them to Madeira, where some observations were made on the strata and botanical productions, and some opinions hazarded with respect to the formation of bazaltes, of which the island is principally composed. The day after their arrival they proceeded on their voyage; and, although the passage from thence to the line is a beaten track, our authors have contrived to enliven it by several interesting remarks. We congratulate them on the burst of good feeling to which they give vent on beholding, for the first time, the beautiful cross of the South :
“On the 15th of June, in latitude 14° 6' 45”, we beheld, for the first time, that glorious constellation of the southern heavens, the cross, which is to navigators a token of peace, and, according to its position, indicates the hours of the night. We had long wished for this constellation, as a guide to the other hemisphere; we therefore felt inexpressible pleasure, when we perceived it in the resplendent firmament. We all contemplated it with feelings of profound devotion, as a type of salvation; but the mind was especially elevated at the sight of it, by the reflection that even in this region, which this beautiful constellation illumines, under the significant name of the cross, the European bas carried the noblest attributes of humanity, science, and