A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 822 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14.
the reef, but I never saw or heard of an opening that would admit a ship.  The reef, or the first origin of these cells, is formed by the animalcules inhabiting the lithophytes.  They raise their habitation within a little of the surface of the sea, which gradually throws shells, weeds, sand, small bits of corals, and other things, on the tops of these coral rocks, and at last fairly raises them above water; where the above things continue to be accumulated by the sea, till by a bird, or by the sea, a few seeds of plants, that commonly grow on the sea-shore, are thrown up, and begin to vegetate; and by their annual decay and reproduction from seeds, create a little mould, yearly accumulated by the mixture from sand, increasing the dry spot on every side; till another sea happens to carry a cocoa-nut hither, which preserves its vegetative power a long time in the sea, and therefore will soon begin to grow on this soil, especially as it thrives equally in all kinds of soil; and thus may all these low isles have become covered with the finest cocoa-nut trees.  The animalcules forming these reefs, want to shelter their habitation from the impetuosity of the winds, and the power and rage of the ocean; but as within the tropics, the winds blow commonly from one quarter, they, by instinct, endeavour to stretch only a ledge, within which is a lagoon, which is certainly entirely screened against the power of both; this, therefore, might account for the method employed by the animalcules in building only narrow ledges of coral rocks, to secure in this middle a calm and sheltered place, and this seems to me to be the most probable cause of the origin of all the tropical low isles, over the whole South Sea.”—­F.
This theory has been pretty generally adopted by scientific men, and does not seem liable to any valid objection.  The astonishment it may excite, is quite analogous to what is experienced on any discovery of the important ends to which the instinctive labours of other creatures are subservient, and is great, merely because of the conceived magnitude of the object to which it relates.  But this affords no presumption against the truth of the theory; rather indeed, if the doctrine of final causes be allowed any credit, may be held, as in some degree, circumstantial evidence in its favour.  We shall elsewhere, it is expected, have occasion to consider the subject with the attention it deserves.—­E.


Arrival of the Ships at Otaheite, with an Account of the critical Situation they were in, and of several Incidents that happened while they lay in Oaiti-piha Bay.

On the 15th, at five o’clock in the morning, we saw Osnaburg Island, or Maitea, discovered by Captain Wallis, bearing S. by W. 1/2 W. Soon after I brought-to, and waited for the Adventure to come up with us, to acquaint Captain Furneaux that it was my intention to put into Oaiti-piha Bay, near the south-east end of Otaheite, in order to get what refreshments we could from that part of the island, before we went down to Matavia.  This done, we made sail, and at six in the evening saw the land bearing west.  We continued to stand on till midnight, when we brought-to, till four o’clock in the morning, and then made sail in for the land with a fine breeze at east.[1]

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