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LITT
LITTELL'S LIVING AGE. - NO. 1114.-7 OCTOBER, 1865.

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From the Quarterly Review. view of discovering, if possible, some of 1. A Narrative of Travels on the Amazon those wonderful laws which govern the or

and Rio Negro, &c. By Alfred R. ganic world, some of the footprints of the Wallace. London, 1853.

Creator in the production of the countless 2. Himalayan Journals ; or, Notes of a Nat- forms of animal and vegetable life with

uralist in Bengal, the Sikkim and Ne- which this beautiful world abounds.
pal Himalayas. By Joseph D. Hook- We purpose in this article to bring before
er, M.D., R. N., É. R. S. London, the reader's notice a few gleanings from the
1854.

natural history of the tropics, merely surmis3. Three Visits to Madagascar during the ing that we shall linger with more than or

Years 1853, 1854, 1856, with notices of dinary pleasure over the productions of the Natural History of the Country, tropical South America, of which Mr. Bates &c. By the Rev. W. Ellis, F. H. S. has charmingly and most instructively writLondon, 1859.

ten in his recently published work, whose 4. The Tropical World: a Popular Scien- title is given at the head of this article ; we

tific Account of the Natural History of shall pause to admire, with Dr. Hooker, the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms. some of the productions of the mighty Him

By Dr. G. Hartwig. London, 1863. alayan mountains; and we may also visit 5. The Naturalist on the River Amazons: a Madagascar in company with so trustworthy

Record of Adventures, Habits of Ani- a traveller as Mr. Êllis.
mals, Sc., during Eleven Years of The ancients, before the time of Alexan-
Travel. By Henry Walter Bates. der’s Indian expedition, were unacquainted
London, 1863.

with any tropical forms of plants, and great
was their

stonishment when they first beThe naturalist will never have to com- held them :plain, with Alexander, that he has no more worlds to conquer, so inexhaustible is the “Gigantic forms of plants and animals," as wide field of Nature, and so numerous are Humboldt says, “filled the imagination with the vast areas which as yet have never at exciting imagery: Writers from whose sever all, or only partially, been explored by trav- and scientific style any degree of inspiration ellers. What may not be in store for some elsewhere entirely absent, become poetical future adventurer in little-known regions; when describing the habits of the elephant, what new and wonderful forms of animals the height of the trees, 'to the summit of which and plants may not reward the zealous trav- broader than the shields of infantry,' – the

an arrow cannot reach, and whose leaves are eller, when no less than eight thousand spe- bamboo, a light, feathery, arborescent grass, of cies of animals, new to science, have been which single joints (internodia) served as fourdiscovered by Mr. Bates during his eleven oared boats, – and the Indian fig-tree, whose years' residence on the Amazons ? Nor is pendent branches take root around the parent it alone new forms of animated Nature that stem, which attains a diameter of twenty-eight await the enterprise of the naturalist; a feet, ‘forming, as Onesicritus expresses himself whole mine of valuable material, the work with great truth to nature, a leafy canopy siming of which is attended with the greatest ilar to a many-pillard tent.""* pleasure, lies before him in the discovery of new facts with regard to the habits, struc- It is not possible for language to describe ture, and local distribution of animals and the glory of the forests of the Amazon, and plants. It is almost impossible to exagger- yet the silence and gloom of the Brazilian ate the importance to the philosophic natu- forests, so often mentioned by travellers, are ralist of such studies in these days of thought striking realities. Let us read Mr. Bates's and progress. The collector of natural cu-impressions of the interior of a primeval forriosities may be content with the possession est : of a miscellaneous lot of objects, but the man of science pursues his investigations with a **Cosmos," vol. li. p. 155. Sabine's Translation, THIRD SERIES. LIVING AGE.

1401.

e

VOL. XXXI.

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“The silence and gloom,” he says, “ are real- ! bulk of whose members are not climbers, seem ities, and the impression deepens on a longer to have been driven by circumstances to adopt acquaintance. The few sounds of birds are of this habit. The orders Leguminosa, Guttiferæ, that pensive and mysterious character which in- Bignoniacex, Moraceæ, and others, furnish the tensifies the feeling of solitude rather than im- greater number. There is even a climbing parts a sense of lite and cheerfulness. Some genus of palms(Desmoncus), the species of which times in the midst of the stillness a sudden yell are called in the Tupí language, Jacitára. or scream will startle one; this comes from These have slender, thickly spined and flexuous some defenceless fruit-eating animal which is stems, which twine about the latter trees from pounced upon by a tiger-cat or stealthy boa- one to the other, and grow to an incredible constrictor. Morning and evening the howling- length. The leaves, which have the ordinary monkeys make a most fearful and harrowing pinnate shape characteristic of the family, are noise, under which it is difficult to keep up one's emitted from the stems at long intervals, instead buoyancy of spirit. The feeling of inhospitable of being collected into a dense crown, and have wildness which the forest is calculated to inspire at their tips a number of long recurved spines. is increased tenfold under this fearful uproar. These structures are excellent contrivances to Often even in the still hours of midday, a sud- enable the trees to secure themselves by in climb. den crash will be heard resounding afar through ing, but they are a great nuisance to the travelthe wilderness, as some great bough or entire ler, for they sometimes hang over the pathway tree falls to the ground. There are besides and catch the hat or clothes, dragging off the many sounds which it is impossible to account one or tearing the other as he passes. The for. 'I found the natives generally as much at number and variety of climbing trees in the a loss in this respect as myself. Sometimes a Amazon forests are interesting, taken in conisound is heard like the clang of an iron bar nection with the fact of the very general tendenagainst a hard hollow tree, or a piercing cry cy of the animals also to become climbers.” rends the air ; these are not repeated, and the succeeding silence tends to heighten the unpleasant impression which they make on the Bates thus writes:

Of this tendency amongst animals Mr. mind. With the natives it is always the curupíra, the wild man, or spirit of the forest, which produces all noises they are unable to explain.” American monkeys, are climbers. There is

All the Amazonian, and in fact all South

no group answering to the baboons of the Old Mr. Bates has some exceedingly interest- World which live on the ground. The Galliing observations on the tendency of animals naceous birds of the country, the representa, and plants of the Brazilian forests to be- tives of the fowls and pheasants of Asia and come climbers. Speaking of a swampy for- Africa, are all adapted by the position of the est of Pará, he says :

toes to perch on trees, and it is only on trees,

at a great height, that they are to be seen. " The leafy crowns of the trees, scarcely two the bears (Cercoleptes), found only in the Ama

A genus of Plantigrade Carnivora, allied to of which could be seen together of the same zonian forests, is entirely arboreal, and has a kind, were now far away above us, in another world as it were.

long flexible tail like that of certain monkeys. We could only see at times, where there was a break above, the tracery of Many other similar instances could be enumethe foliage against the clear blue sky. Some haga, or carnivorous ground beetles, a great

rated, but I will mention only the Geodeptimes the leaves were palmate, at others finely proportion of whose genera and species in these cut or feathery like the leaves of Mimosæ. Be- forest regions are, by the structure of their low, the tree-trunks were everywhere linked to feet, fitted to live exclusively on the branches gether by sipós; the woody, flexible stems of

and leaves of trees." climbing and creeping trees, whose foliage is far away above, mingled with that of the latter independent trees. Some were twisted in Strange to the European must be the apstrands like cables, others had thick stems con- pearance of the numerous woody lianas, or torted in every variety of shape, entwining air-roots, of parasitic plants of the family snake-like round the tree-trunks, or forming gi- Araceæ, of which the well-known cuckoogantic loops and coils among the larger branch- pint, or Arum maculatum of this country, es; others again were of zigzag shape or indent- is a non-epiphytous member, which sit on ed like the steps of a staircase, sweeping from the branches of the trees above, and “. hang the ground to a giddy height.”.

down straight as plumb-lines,” some singly, Of these climbing plants he adds:

others in leashes ; some reaching half-way

to the ground, others touching it, and tak“It interested me much afterwards to find ing root in the ground. Here, too, in these that these climbing trees do not form any par- forests of Pará, besides palms of various ticular family or genus. There is no order of species, “ some twenty to thirty feet higb, plants whose especial habit is to climb, but spe others small and delicate, with stems no cies of many of the most diverse families, the thicker than a finger,” of the genus Bactris,

producing bunches of fruit with grape-like species until proved to be the same. The juice, masses of a species of banana observations of this admirable naturalist (Urania Amazonica), a beautiful plant, on other points in the history of the butwith leaves “like broad sword-blades," terflies of the Amazons, are highly imporeight feet long, and one foot broad, add tant and deeply interesting. We must refresh interest to the scene. These leaves cur to this subject by-and-by. rise straight upwards alternately from We cannot yet tear ourselves away from the top of a stem five or six feet high. these forests of Pará. We can well underVarious kinds of Marants, a family of stand the intense interest with which Mr. plants rich in amylaceous qualities (of Bates visited these delightful scenes month which the Maranta arundinacea, though after month in different seasons, so as to not an American plant, yields the best obtain something like a fair notion of their arrowroot of commerce), clothe the ground, animal and vegetable productions. It is conspicuous for their broad, glossy leaves. enough to made a naturalist's mouth water Ferns of beautiful and varied forms deco- for a week together to think of the many rate the tree-trunks, together with the successful strolls which Mr. Bates took amid large fleshy heart-shaped leaves of the the shades of these forests. For several Pothos plant. Gigantic grasses, such as months, he tells us, he used to visit this disbamboos, form arches over the pathways. trict two or three days every week, and “ The appearance of this part of the forest never failed to obtain some species new to was strange in the extreme; description can him of bird, reptile, or insect: convey no adequate idea of it. The reader who has visited Kew, may form some “ This district," he says, “seemed to be an notion by conceiving a vegetation like that epitome of all that the humid portions of the in the great palm-house spread over a large Pará forest could produce. This endless divertract of swampy ground, but he must fancy sity, the coolness of the air, the varied and it mingled with large exogenous trees, simi- strange forms of vegetation, the entire freedom lar to our oaks and elms, covered with the solemn gloom and silence, combined to

from mosquitoes and other pests, and even creepers and parasites, and figure to him- make my rambles through it always pleasant self the ground encumbered with fallen as well as profitable. Such places are paradises and rotting trunks, branches, and leaves, to a naturalist, and if he be of a contemplative the whole illuminated by a glowing vertical turn there is no situation more favourable for sun, and reeking with moisture !” Amid his indulging the tendency:. There is somethese “swampy shades” numerous butter- thing in a trophical forest akin to the ocean in flies delight to flit. An entomologist in its effects on the mind. Man feels so completeEngland is proud, indeed, when he succeeds ly his insignificance there and the vastness of

nature. A naturalist cannot help reflecting in capturing the beautiful and scarce Cam

on the vegetable forces manifested on so grand berwell Beauty (Vanessa antiopa) or the a scale around him.' splendid Purple Emperor ( Apatúra iris), but these fine species do not exceed three

Mr. Wallace and Mr. Bates are well inches in expanse of wing, while the glossy, known advocates of Mr. Darwin's theory blue, and black Morpho Achilles, measures of Natural Selection. The former gentlesix inches or more. The velvety black Papilio Sesostris, with a large silky green for four years, and he has published a very

man was Mr. Bates's companion in travel patch on its wings, and other species of interesting account of his voyage on his rethis genus, are almost exclusively inhabi

turn to England. * Whatever difference tants of the moist shades of the forest.

of opinion there may be with respect to the The beautiful Epicalea ancea, “ one of the

celebrated work which Mr. Darwin gave to most richly coloured of the whole tribe of the world four or five years ago, unbiased butterflies, being black, decorated with and thoughtful naturalists must recognize broad stripes of pale blue and orange, delights to settle on the broad leaves of the the force with which the author supports U raniæ and other similar plants.". But, with which he encounters every difficulty:

many of his arguments, and the fairness like many other natural beauties, it is diffi- The competition displayed by organized cult to gain poesession of, darting off with beings is strikingly manifested in the Bralightning speed when approached.

zilian forests. So unmistakable is this fact, Bates tells us that it is the males only of the different species which are brilliantly

* The Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean coloured, the females being plainer, and Society bears ample testimony to the zeal and eneroften so utterly unlike their partners that gy of Mr. Wallace in collecting insects from Singaseen fastening yan-iree, whose –

pore, Malacca, Borneo, Celebes, and other islands they are generally held to be different of Malaysia.

nesses.

that Burmeister, a German traveller, was The strangling properties of some of the painfully impressed with the contemplation fig tree family are indeed very remarkable, of the emulation and “spirit of restless and may be witnessed not only in South selfishness” which the vegetation of a America, but in India, Ceylon, and Austratropical forest displayed. " He thought lia. Frazer observed several kinds of Fithe softness, earnestness, and repose of cus, more than 150 feet high, embracing European woodland scenery were far more huge ironbark trees in the forests at Morepleasing, and that these formed one of the ton Bay. The Ficus repens, according to causes of the superior moral character of Sir Emerson Tennent, is often to be seen European nations : ” à curious question, clambering over rocks, like ivy, turning which we leave to the consideration of mor- through heaps of stones, or ascending some al philosophers. The emulation displayed tall tree to the height of thirty or forty by the plants and trees of the forests of feet, while the thickness of its own stem Pará is thus spoken of by Mr. Bates : does not exceed a quarter of an inch.

The small plants of this family, of which

the Murdering Liana is one species, grow "In these tropical forests cach plant and tree and reproduce their kind from seeds deseems to be striving to outvie its fellow, strugi posited in the ground; but the huge repregling upward towards light and air --- branch, sentatives of the family, such as the Banand leaf, and stem - - regardless of its neighbours. Parasitic plants are with firm grip on others, making use of them with reckless indifference, as instruments for “Bended twigs take root, and daughters grow their own advancement. Live and let live is

About the mother tree ;” clearly not the maxim taught in these wilder

There is one kind of parasitic tree and the Peepul, or sacred Bo-tree of the very common near Pará, which exhibits this Buddhists (Ficus religiosa) originate from feature in a very prominent manner. It is seeds carried by birds to upper portions of called the Sipó blatador, or the Murderer Sia. some palm or other tree. Fig-trees, as Sir na. It belongs to the fig order, and has been E. Tennent has remarked, are “the Thugs described by Von Martins in the “ Atlas to Spix of the vegetable world ; for, though not and Martius's Travels.” I observed many speciThe base of its stem would be unable

cessarily epiphytic, it may be said that, to bear the weight of the upper growth; it is in point of fact, no single plant comes to obliged, therefore, to support itself on a tree of perfection or acquires even partial developanother species. In this it is not essentially ment without the destruction of some other different from other climbing trees and plants, on which to fix itself as its supporter." but the way the matador sets about it is pecu- The mode of growth of these trees is well liar, and produces certainly a disagreeable im- described by the excellent writer just menpression. It springs up close to the tree on tioned, and we shall make use of his own which it intends to fix itself, and the wood of language:its stem grows by spreading itself like a plastic mould over one side of the trunk of its supporter. It then puts forth, from each side an arm

"The family generally make their first aplike branch, which grows rapidly, and looks as pearance as slender roots hanging from the though a stream of sap were flowing and hard-crown or trunk of some other tree, generally a ening as it went. This adheres closely to the the seed carried thither by some bird which had

palm, among the moist bases of whose leaves trunk of the victim, and the two arins meet on fed upon the fig, begins to germinate. This the opposite side and blend together. These root, branching as it descends, envelopes the arms are put forth at somewhat regular inter- trunk of the supporting tree with a network of vals in mounting, upwards, and the victim, wood, and at length penetrating the ground, when its strangler is full grown becomes tightly attains the dimensions of a stem. But unlike a clasped by a number of inflexible rings. These gradually grow larger as the murderer flourish. stem it throws out no buds or flowers; the true es, rearing its crown of foliage to the sky min. stem, with its branches, its foliage, and fruit gled with that of its neighbour, and in course of springs upwards from the crown of the tree time they kill it by stopping the flow of its sap: issue the pendulous rootlets, which, on reaching

whence the root is scen descending; and from it The strange spectacle then remains of the selfish parasite clasping in its arms the lifeless and the earth fix themselves firmly, and form the decaying body of its victim which had been a celebrated. In the depth of this grove, the

marvellous growth for which the banyan is so help to its own growth. Its ends have been original tree is incarcerated till literally stran

erved – it has flowered and fruited, reproduced gled by the folds and weight of its resistless and disseminated its kind; and now when the companion, it dies and leaves the fig in undisdead trunk moulders away, its own end ap- turbed possession of its place. proaches; its support is gone and itself also falls."

*"Ceylon,” I. p. 95.

neces

mens.

• But not trees alone do these vegetable' | cious chambers, and may be compared to garroters embrace in their fatal grasp; stalls in a stable ; some of them are large ancient monuments also are destroyed by enough to hold half-a-dozen persons." What these formidable assailants. Sir E. Ten- are these buttresses, how do they originate, nent has given an engraving of a fig-tree and what is their use? We have already on the ruins at Pollanarrua, in Ceylon, seen how great is the competition amongst which had fixed itself on the walls --- a the trees of a primeval forest, and how curious sight, indeed - " its roots streaming every square inch is eagerly battled for by downwards over the ruins as if they had the number of competitors. In consequence once been fluid, following every sinuosity of of this, it is obvious that lateral growth of the building and terraces till they reach roots in the earth is a difficult matter. “ Nethe earth.” An extremely interesting series cessity being the mother of invention,” the of drawings is now to be seen in the Lin- roots, unable to expand laterally, “ raise nean Society's room at Burlington House, themselves ridge-like out of the earth, growillustrating the mode of growth of another ing gradually upwards as the increasing strangling or murdering tree, of New Zea- height of the tree required augmented supland, belonging to an entirely different port.” A beautiful compensation, truly, order from that to which the figs belong and full of deep interest! As Londoners (Urticacece), namely, to one of the Myr- add upper stories to their houses where tacere. The association of garroting habits competition has rendered lateral additions with those of the stinging nettle family is impossible, so these gigantic trees, in order apt enough, we may be inclined to think ; to sustain the massive crown and trunk, but it is rather disappointing to meet with strengthen their roots by upper additions. these disagreeable peculiarities in the case One of the most striking features in tropiof the Myrtle group, but such is the fact: cals scenery is the suddenness with which the Rata, or Metrosideros robusta - as we the leaves and blossoms spring into full believe is the species – climbs to the sum- beauty. “ Some mornings 'a single tree mits of mighty trees of the forest of Wan- would appear in flower amidst what was the garoa, and kills them in its iron grasp. But, preceding evening a uniform green mass of notwithstanding, these unpleasant impres- forest, – a dome of blossom suddenly created sions which “ the reckless energy of the as if by magic.” In the early mornings, vegetation might produce” in the traveller's soon after dawn, the sky is always without mind, there is plenty in tropical nature to a cloud, the thermometer marking 72° or counteract them :

73° Fahr. Now all nature is fresh, and the

birds in the full enjoyment of their existence, “There is the incomparable beauty and the “ shrill yelping" of the toucans being frevariety of the foliage, the vivid colour, the quently heard from their abodes amongst the richness and exuberance everywhere displayed, wild fruit-trees of the forest; flocks of which make the richest woodland scenery in parrots appear in distinct relief against the Northern Europe a sterile desert in comparison. blue sky, always two by two, chattering to But it is especially the enjoyment of life manifested by individual existences which compen

each other, the pairs being separated by sates for the destruction and pain caused by the regular intervals, too high, however, to inevitable competition. Although this compe- reveal the bright colours of their plumage. tition is nowhere more active, and the dangers The greatest heat of the day is about two to which each individual is exposed nowhere o'clock, by which time, the thermometer more numerous, yet nowhere is this enjoyment being 920 or 93° Fahr., "every voice of more vividly displayed.”

bird or mammal is hushed : only in the trees

is heard at intervals the harsh whirr of a Mr. Bates mentions a peculiar feature in cicada. The leaves which were so moist some of the colossal trees which here and and fresh in early morning, now become lax there monopolize a large space in the forests. and drooping, and the flowers shed their The height of some of these giants he esti- petals. The Indian and Mulatto inhabitants mates at from 180 to 200 feet, whose “ vast sleep in their hammocks or sit on mats in dome of foliage rises above the other forest the shade, too languid even to talk.” trees as a domed cathedral does above the Mr. Bates has given a graphic picture of other buildings in a city.” In most of the tropical nature at the approach of rain : large trees of different species is to be seen - a growth of buttress-shaped projections First, the cool sea-breeze which commenced around the lower part of their stems. The to blow about ten o'clock, and which had inspaces between these buttresses - which are creased in force with the increasing power of generally thin walls of wood - form spa- the sun, would flag and finally die away. The

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