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covered either one or more individuals living upon the most desolate spots. It should, however, be observed that this remark applies to the Pacific Ocean, where a barren island is rather a rare occurrence, and therefore cannot be said to com*} within the true intent and meaning of the advocates of hospices for wrecked mariners, although there are reefs and banks even in this sea whereon food and shelter, as well as sweet water, might be placed, and which, we feel assured might afford seasonable relief to many a poor perishing mariner. We intend to notice this fact more fully as we proceed ; however, the islands in the Pacific, where wrecks more frequently happen than is generally known, are for the most part overloaded with vegetation. They often contain fruits, such as the banana, the bread fruit, and cocoa. Life is easily supported in such places, with the help of the sea, abounding as it does with fish. The naked wretch who shivers beneath the bleak skies of our northern shores, and starves upon the inhospitable islands that are to be found in less genial climes, would be made happy if translated to these sunny islands, for all his physical wants would be alleviated. Nature has been exceedingly kind in these latitudes, except in some instances where a great evil is felt in the want of water j and when this necessary element is absent, then the island is uninhabited. To be wrecked in such a situation is the greatest calamity that can befall a ship in those seas, for, as the ancient mariner says, there is—
"Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink,
But if water is to be found, then the conditions of existence are comparatively easy. A warm climate, a fruitful soil, abundance of fish, and now and then a fowl as well as a turtle, help to furnish the solitary's larder. The primeval curse is then unknown; man need not earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. The luxurious savage in many of the islands in this extensive ocean feels himself hungry, and he stretches forth his hand, and the bread fruit-tree yields an "unreaped harvest;" and
"The sun bakes its unadulterated loaves
It is not to be wondered at, then, that upon several of these islands, supposed to be uninhabited, we found solitary individuals; some had been, we believe, wrecked, but in the majority of cases that came under our notice, they were voluntary exiles from civilization. In one instance, we found a man upon a lagoon island, who had been left there to die by a gang of desperadoes. He had been found guilty of mercy on some occasion after plundering a ship at sea, and he was sentenced, as they do these things in pirate craft. His trial was only a look, for he was condemned without being heard. His sentence was a nod. The time allowed for preparation was while a boat was being lowered. The executioners of his sentence were barbarians. The scene, a ship floating on a sunny sea, with a coral reef under her lee; and the spectators, a brutal set of wretches from every climate under heaven.
We rarely found a solitary savage upon an island, indeed never. The wild man is gregarious—he seeks the larger islands, or congregates in the clusters of islets that abound in such vast quantities in this delightful and sunny sea. The solitary was invariably a European; generally English or Spanish. We never found a Frenchman so situated, although it is not to be supposed that natives of France have not been left upon uninhabited spots by wreckage or some other sea calamity. We are, however, disposed to adopt the opinion of an officer of our vessel, who remarked, upon this fact, that of all people the French are the least capable of bearing solitude. "He must have an audience of some sort, or he dies."
There is, however, a terrible earnestness in the mere narrative of events that occasionally happen at sea; and previous to indulging in any opinion respecting the utility of establishing hospices upon barren islands in the track of commerce on the high seas, we will draw the reader's attention to a few startling facts connected with the shipping of this great maritime nation, leaving the statistics of the American, French, Dutch, and other maritime powers out of our calculation; it will assist us in our conclusions upon the subject.
As our object is not yarn spinning, but to communicate a few plain facts, and so take the shortest way to the mind, we will refer to Lloyds' List, where we shall find a register from whence we can safely draw conclusions, as curious and full of interest as any to be found in Anson, Dampier, or Cook. This dry statistical volume tells us plainly that not a week passes without a vessel sailing from some ports that is never heard of again. Strike a balance for four years, and the number of missing vessels is upwards of two hundred, varying in size from the gigantic transatlantic steam-ship, the "Pacific," of 3,000 tons, down to the "Saucy Jane," of Newport, of 95 tons. The fate of every one of these vessels is a mystery sealed from every human eye. The imagination, however, sees visions of starvation in open boats, or upon the hastily constructed raft, and of destitution upon the barren rock. Let us suppose, as was probably the case, that in some instances the vessels foundered and the crew reached an island, and that such island was barren; they would only have prolonged their misery, which would perhaps have been better ended if they had perished when their vessel was lost.
Another description of disaster that is as fruitful of calamity as any that occurs at sea, arises from the necessity of sometimes abandoning ships when water-logged, dismasted, or on fire. Here again Lloyd's List informs us that upwards of seven hundred such accidents and casualties took place in four years, being on an average, one hundred and seventy-five per annum. In all these instances the crews or part of them ultimately reached land somewhere, or else the loss of the vessels could not have been reported; but we are ignorant of their sufferings, for the " List" is silent upon that head, all sentiment being sacrificed to statistics.
Again, upwards of two hundred vessels annually founder at sea, the crews of which take to boats and reach land. Some of these
reached hospitable shores, but there are many, doubtless, who had better have perished with the ship than have passed through the terrible ordeal of suffering that is occasionally made known to the world through the daily papers.
But while we enumerate the disasters that annually occur at sea that are reported to Lloyds', as evidence to prove that hospices upon barren islands, in certain localities to be hereafter noticed, are required, are we certain that the scheme is practicable? Fortunately, philanthropy, now-a-days, is often an agreeable amusement. A modern benefactor to his species may play the part of a good Samaritan, without having a burning enthusiasm, an iron frame and robust nerves. He need not visit hulks or transports. He may content himself with doing a vast amount of good through the agency of societies, with an office, a secretary, and correspondence. It is surprising what may be done and is done daily in this way. So far, indeed, has philanthropy been carried, that there is now rather a competition for objects of humanity. Some of these humanitarian schemes are harmless, some beneficial, and some doubtful. Under which head shall we class the benevolent intention whieh has recently expanded into all but action of erecting hospices upon barren islands? and we believe that all depends upon the means used in carrying out the project; for we fail not so much from attempting impossibilities, as from improperly attempting possibilities.
First in order comes the question, Which are the islands whereon it would be advisable to erect hospices? And then, ouj;ht such hospices to be left unprotected? Or should a permanent residence be established of a few persons, as a means of assisting shipwrecked seamen on such inhospitable places? Now, anyone going simply by common sense would see, to begin with, a great distinction between a store of restoratives placed in the most opportune situation imaginable for plunder by any lawless men that chance might bring upon an uninhabited island, and a hospice protected by permanent residents left there to preserve its invaluable treasures from natural decay or wanton spoliation. What guarantee is there that stores left unprotected would remain untouched? It has been suggested that a law might be passed, making it felony to violate such a sanctuary as contained this "manna in the wilderness."
We confess, however, to having misgivings upon this point. The law is comparatively powerless in the wild solitudes of the ocean. In an uninhabited wilderness, it is the temptations of the passing moment that alone constitutes the law of the place. We would rather have our hospices protected. If we are to leave stores, let us leave store-keepers also. Men live in far more solitary places; take, for instance, our floating light-vessels, the Bell Rock, the Eddystone, and the Caskets. On these rocks men are cabined and confined ; but upon an island they would have excitement. Besides, we do not propose to leave storekeepers there for life, they would be visited and relieved at stated periods. Moreover, we believe, in many instances, the project would be self-supporting, and so expense might be avoided.
We have experience, too, on our side, in one instance at least, for the reader must be informed, that the idea of erecting hospices upon barren islands is not without precedent; unprotected hospices have been tried before and failed. It was attempted at Anticosti, an island lying in the mouth of the river St. Lawrence. This island does not possess a single harbour, although 125 miles long, and, in its widest part, 30 broad. The shore on the north side is high, and the water close to the cliff is deep; on the south the land is low and the water shoal, and as reefs extend to a considerable distance from the shore, and this island lies in the track of all vessels passing up the St.Lawrence, there are very many shipwrecks upon it. The island is said to be uninhabited, at all events we have no account of the interior, except from such Indians as have visited it in search of game, and they describe it as being swampy.
Well, here was an excellent opportunity for establishing a hospice, and three were placed upon different parts of the island—one at each extremity, and one in the middle. But they were invariably plundered by fishermen or other persons, until at length the Governor of Newfoundland wisely established two families, one at the east and the other at the west end, for the purpose of protecting the stores, and of affording aid to persons wrecked upon the coast. This plan was successful, and has been the means, we believe, of alleviating much misery that would otherwise have been inevitable. We imagine, therefore, that human nature, at least "salt water" human nature, is the same all over the globe. What is true at Anticosti, placed as it is, a wild in the midst of civilization, is applicable to more remote and toequally desolate islands. It may be possible, however, to detect and punish the paltry thief who might be mean enough to plunder the stores benevolently deposited at an island like Anticosti, placed at the threshold of civilization; but how could we discover the reckless sea felon who might, in mere wantonness, violate a hospice left upon one of the islands in the Tristan d'Acunha group, St. Paul's, the reefs in Torres Straits, the Paracelles Rock, the Gallapagos Islands, or in the Archipelago of the Philippines, or upon any desolate and uninhabited spot lying in the highway of navigation, and yet far away from the abodes of civilized men?
We have stated that this benevolent project might be made selfsupporting, or nearly so; now, as many of the islands are considered as barren, this may seem a contradiction. The islands whereon hospices might be required, are indeed barren to seamen wrecked with nothing to assist themselves with; but we know that some of these inhospitable places are capable of yielding a considerable revenue to any one permanently residing upon them. Take, for instance, the islands of Tristan d'Acunha, which are certainly as unfavourably placed for a commercial speculation as any we could mention. These islands are situated in the Atlantic Ocean, in lat. 37° 20' south, and 11° 48' west. They lie in the track of ships doubling either Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope. The largest gives the name to the group —the other islands being known as Inaccessible and Nightingale. Inaccessible deserves its name, but why the other should be called Nightingale is more than we can divine. It is, however, very pretty, though irregular in its form, having a deep hollow in the middle, and is about seven miles in circumference. Tristan d'Acunha is very high, and may be seen sixty or seventy miles at sea, although only about fifteen miles in circuit. In the centre of the island there is a conical mountain, something like the Peak of Teneriffe, and when we anchored a mile from the shore, in thirty fathoms, the ship was overshadowed by the darkness of the frowning mass, which appeared to rise like a huge castellated wall immediately from the ocean.
As these islands are 1,500 miles distant from any land, a settlement upon Tristan d'Acunha appears to offer but few temptations for a residence; and yet, notwithstanding that landing upon them is very difficult, and often impossible, it was until very recently not without inhabitants. The fact is, these islands, although barren and inhospitable to shipwrecked mariners, are nevertheless a good situation for drying and preparing the furs of seals and other animals. A hospice, placed upon the Tristan group, or upon any similarly situated islands, might be protected by storekeepers, who might profitably employ their leisure hours in a similar way, and thus be enabled to partially support themselves.
Should an attempt ever be made to leave a hospice upon Tristan d'Acunha, the storekeepers (if any) must be few. The settlement that until very recently existed there was on a patch of undercliff fronting the sea. On the right there was a slope which was under cultivation. But even this fragment of the original settlers, who had managed to live there for the last twenty years, has now, we hear, left. They were taken away by her Majesty's ship " Geyser," which vessel left the Cape of Good Hope in January last for that purpose, the settlement being in danger of starvation. There is, however, a wide difference between a colony and a hospice, and although this barren island will not support the first, it is perfectly capable of supplying nourishment to a few storekeepers, who would also be in periodical communication with those persons whose duty it would be to see that they were not in want of supplies.
As the United Service Magazine has a very extensive circulation in naval circles, it may be desirable to know that a vessel wishing to communicate with the settlement should heave to with her head off shore, and should never allow Hardy Rock to be shut in with Herald Point. It is dangerous to approach within a mile of the shore, lest in the long swell the vessel should be baffled with calms or eddy winds. A field of kelp, rooted in fifteen fathoms, and stretching off a third of a mile, subdues the surf and allows boats to land, or to water with a hose from the waterfall. A slight current sets in to the south-west along the shore of the settlement.* The peak of Tristan d'Acunha is 8,300 feet high.
There are two other islands which are stumbling blocks in the way of all ships bound to our thriving colony of Australia, viz., St. Paul's and its sister isle, Amsterdam. They are situated midway between
• See Admiralty Chart, 2,228. South Atlantic.