Page images
PDF
EPUB

respecting the question whether the continents of Asia and America are united. From the account of different travellers and navigators, especially among the Russians, it would appear that there is still a considerable part of what is usually laid down in the maps as forming the coast of the northern ocean, which has never yet been accurately traced. The maritime boundary of the country of the Tchuktchi has never been explored; and, so far as can be learned from the inhabitants themselves, they are ignorant of the extent of their own territory in the northern direction. Captain Bhering and Captain Cook, who successively made very important discoveries in the narrow part of the sea, composing what is now called Bhering's Straits, were never able to penetrate farther N. than about the 70° of latitude. Beyond this, on the American continent, we are completely without any information; and on the Asiatic side, we seem to have little certain knowledge, until we arrive at the River Kovyma, for about 20° of longitude. We have some imperfect accounts of a large tract of land lying beyond what is now marked on the maps as the N. E. part of Asia, to which the name of New Siberia has been given. This may either be an island detached from either continent, or it may be a part of America, stretching over to the westward; but respecting this country, if it actually, exist, our information is very scanty.

On Dec. 18, a paper by James Smithson, Esq. was read, containing some remarks on vegetable colours. Among the substances which he examined were litmus, the colouring matter of the violet, of the blue hyacinth, of the blue paper which is employed for wrapping up loaf sugar, of the mulberry, and the pigment called sap-green. Some of these are employed by

may

chemists as delicate tests of acids and alkalies; and various experiments were related respecting their action on these bodies, and the manner in which they were respectively affected by them. The author conceives it probable that some vegetable colours be produced by a combination of principles, that the red colour of flowers may depend upon the union of carbonic acid with a blue matter, and that in other cases a vegetable principle may be combined with a small quantity of potash, analogous to the substance which has been called ulmin. The author also gave an account of some experiments which he had performed upon the green colour which is procured from certain insects: this he was led to conclude is of a different nature from the vegetable greens.

On the same evening a paper by Dr. John Davy was read, giving an account of the mountain called Adam's Peak, in the Island of Ceylon. This has been long celebrated as the resort of pilgrims from all parts of the country, in consequence of a superstitious tradition that the Indian god Boodha ascended into heaven from its summit, and left upon it the impression of his foot. The mountain is supposed by the author to be between VOL. XI. N° I.

E

6,000 and 7,000 feet high. It has a level area at its top, of nearly a circular form. The summit is surrounded by a grove of trees of the genus rhododendron, but of a species which is said to grow in no other situation. The plants are accounted sacred, so that it was impossible to procure a specimen for examination. The mountain itself is composed of gneiss, the constituents of which exist in very different proportions in its different parts. In some districts hornblende predominates so much as almost to change the character of the rock; but this passes by insensible degrees into a more perfect gneiss, without exhibiting any exact limit of separation. The author observed some of the gems, which are the produce of Ceylon, imbedded in the gneiss which composes this mountain.

WERNERIAN NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY.

The first meeting of the Wernerian Natural History Society for this session took place in the College Museum on Nov. 15. It was moved by Professor Jameson, and unanimously agreed to, that, in consequence of the melancholy event of the death of the Princess Charlotte of Wales, the Society should immediately adjourn, without proceeding to business.

The Wernerian Natural History Society met again on the 6thinst. when the following office-bearers were chosen : President.-Robert Jameson, Esq. F.R.S.

[ocr errors]

Vice-Presidents. Colonel Imrie, F.R.S.; John Campbell, Esq. F.R.S.; Lord Gray, F.R.S.; Sir Patrick Walker, F.L.S. Secretary.-P. Neil, Esq. F.R.S.

Treasurer.-W. Ellis, Esq.

Librarian and Keeper of the Museum.-James Wilson, Esq. Painter.-P. Syme, Esq.

Council. Dr. Macnight, F.R.S.; C. S. Monteath, Esq. F.R.S.; Dr. Wright, F.R.S.; Dr. Yule, F.R.S.; D. Bridges, Esq.; Dr. D. Ritchiè, F.R.S.; Dr Falconer, F.L.S.; T. Šive right, F.R.S.

Professor Jameson at this meeting read a communication from William Scoresby, jun. M.W.S. &c. entitled, "Narrative of an Excursion upon the Island of Jan Mayen, containing some Account of its Appearance and Productions." This remote and desolate spot, situated in lat. 70° 49′ to lat. 71° 8° 20′′ N. and long. 7° 25′ 48′′ to 8° 44′ W. was visited by Captain Scoresby, jun. on Aug. 4, 1817. On approaching it, the first object which strikes the attention is the mountain of Beerenberg, which rears its icy summit to the height of 6840 feet above the level of the sea. At this time all the high lands were covered with snow and ice; and the low lands, in those deep cavities where large beds of snow had been collected, still retained part of their winter covering, down to the very margin of the sea. Between capes North-east and South-east, Captain Scoresby observed three remarkable icebergs, having a perpendicular height of 1284 feet,

and presenting a striking resemblance to frozen cascades. The beach where Capt. Scoresby landed was covered to a great depth with a sand having the appearance of coarse gunpowder, and which was a mixture of iron-sand, olivine, and augite. Here and there he met with pieces of drift wood. As he advanced towards the rocks he found rolled masses of lava, blocks of burned clay, and masses of red-coloured backed clay. Numerous pointed, angular rocks, probably belonging to the floetz formation, were seen projecting through the sand. These were basaltic-vesicular, and with numerous and beantiful imbedded grains and crystals of olivine and augite. Along with these was a rock which appeared to be very nearly allied to the celebrated mill-stone of Andernach. After leaving the sea shore, Captain Scoresby met with no other rocks but such as bore undoubted marks of recent volcanic action, viz. cinders, earthy slag, burned clay, scoriæ, vesicular lava, &c. He ascended to the summit of a volcanic mountain which was elevated 1500 feet above the sea, where the beheld a beautiful crater, forming a basin of 500 or 600 feet in depth, and 600 or 700 yards in diameter. The bottom of the crater was filled with alluvial matter, to such a height that it presented a natural flat of an elliptical form, measuring 400 feet by 240. From this eminence the country in all directions appeared bleak and rugged in the extreme; and the rocks, and hills, and mountains, every where presented to the eye such appearances as seemed to indicate the action of volcanic fire. The plants are very few in number: he determined the rumex digynus, saxifraga tricuspidata, arenaria peploides? silene acaulis, and draba hirta: all the others were unfortunately lost. Near the sea shore he observed burrows of blue foxes: feet marks of bears, and of another animal, which he conjectured to be the rein-deer. But few birds were seen, such as fulmars, divers, puffins, and terns.

GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY.

The first meeting for business took place on Nov. 21.

A letter from R. Anstice, Esq. accompanying a specimen of arragonite from the Quantock Hills, was read.

The Quantock Hills consist chiefly of greywacke, but are penetrated by a bed of mountain lime-stone running through a great part of their length. In a quarry near the village of Merridge, about six miles from Bridgewater, is a fissure in this limestone rock, which has been for some time famous for its calcareous stalactites. Recently this fissure has been cleared to a greater extent than before; and Mr. Anstice visited the spot in the month of August last, when he found that, after proceeding along it for about 40 yards, the passage suddenly became contracted.

The narrow part being enlarged at his desire, it was found to lead into a cavern about 20 yards in length, from six to ten yards

in breadth, and from three to six feet in height along the middle. About one-third of its surface was covered with stalactites of arragonite (flos ferri) of great beauty. This cavern is situated in the greywacke; and Mr. Anstice remarks, that the arborescences of arragonite occur only in that rock, while those which are found adhering to the lime-stone are common calcareous stalactite.

A letter was read from Mr. Winch, mentioning the discovery of a tree about 28 or 30 feet long, with its branches, in a bed of fire-stone (one of the coal sand-stones) at High Heworth, near Newcastle. Of this organic remain the trunk and larger branches are siliceous; while the bark, the small branches, and leaves, are converted into coal and Mr. Winch remarks, that the small veins of coal, called by the miners coal-pipes, owe their origin universally to small branches of trees. Mr. W. states it as a remarkable and interesting fact, that, while the trunks of trees found in the Whitby alum shale are mineralized by calcareous spar, clay-iron-stone, and iron pyrites, and their bark is converted into jet; those buried in the Newcastle sand-stones are always mineralized by silex, and their bark changed into common coal.

A paper by Dr. Berger was read, containing a theoretical explanation of the curvature of the beds of lime-stone which form the Jura mountains.

Dec. 5.-The reading of a paper by Mr. W. Phillips, entitled, "Remarks on the Chalk Hills in the Neighbourhood of Dover, and on the green Sand and blue Marl overlying it near Folkestone," was begun.

Dec. 19.-The reading of Mr. Phillips's paper was continued.

ROYAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AT PARIS.

Sept. 1, 1817.---The following papers were read:

A memoir on aneurism, by M. Provençal.

A description of the oyster-beds of Maremmes, by M. de Montègre.

An offer made by an anonymous individual to contribute a sum of 7000 fr. for the purpose of founding a prize for the encouragement of inquiries into subjects connected with statistics, was referred to a committee.

Sept. 8.--A letter from the Minister of the Interior was read, communicating the King's approval of the election of M. Piazzi into the class of Foreign Associates.

A paper, entitled "Researches on Chlore and on Hydrochloric Acid," by M. Rosier, was referred to the consideration of a committee.

M. Lamarck gave an account of a paper addressed to the Academy by M. Dupetit Thouars, on the renewal of the park of

trees.

M. Fourrier, in the name of the committee to which the offer of an anonymous person to establish a prize for statistics was

referred, reported their unanimous opinion that the offer should be accepted. Upon which the Academy resolved that application should be made to the Minister of the Interior requesting his Majesty's authority to accept the sum thus liberally offered for the above-mentioned purpose.

M. Geoffroy-Sainte-Hilaire read a memoir on the structure of the os hyoides in different animals.

Sept. 15.---After some letters had been read, the remainder of the sitting was occupied by two memoirs: the one by M. Moreau de Jonnès, entitled," A Geological and Mineralogical Examination of the Volcanic Mountains of Vauclin, in the Island of Martinique;" and the other by Gen. Sauviac," On the Ocean." Sept. 22.---M. Fevre presented the continuation of his "Essay on the Construction of Chemical Tables," which was referred to a committee.

A report was made on "Maps of the Kingdom of Portugal," by Jose Correa de Mello and Pedro Cardoso Giraldes.

M. Sylvestre, in the name of a committee, made a report on a memoir by M. Huzard, jun.; the object of which is an inquiry into the qualities which characterized the English horses before their amelioration, the present state of the breed, and the methods by which the English have succeeded in producing those qualities to which their horses are indebted for the high esteem in which they are now held.

M. Portal read a paper, entitled, toneal Inflammation."

[ocr errors]

"Considerations on Peri

Sept. 29.---M. Arrago read a letter from M. Dupin giving an account of an Aurora Borealis observed by him at Glasgow. The reading of M. Moreau de Jonnès's memoir was proceeded with.

A memoir by M. Lapostolle on conductors against lightning was referred to a committee.

Oct. 6.---M. Coquebert-Montbret began the reading of a very minute report on the circumnavigation of the globe, by M. Krusenstern.

A letter was read from M. Henri, Ingenieur des Ponts et Chaussées, dated Florac, depart. de la Lazère, giving an account of a mass of native oxide of iron in which are many particles of native iron, found in the bed of a torrent near Florac. Messrs. Hauy and Vauquelin were requested to examine the specimens accompanying the paper.

Oct. 13. Two proof pieces of the medal struck in commemoration of the voyage of the corvette Urania were presented by the Minister of Marine.

M. Babinet, ancien élève of the Polytechnic School, presented a memoir in which he examines the precision of the formula given by M. Laplace on the deviation, of bodies falling from a great height.

« PreviousContinue »