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Most of the necessaries are cheap and good.
The whole population of these islands is estimated now not to exceed one hundred and ten thousand souls, and by all observations appears to be decreasing; but the estimation of Captain Cook, who attributed to these islands four hundred thou. sand, no doubt was overrated by one-half.
Amomum Zerumbet.-This plant will frequently be seen in small patches in the neighborhood of Honolulu; the leaves are broad and pinnate, the flower spike compact, bractea red, flowers pale yellow and without odor. It yields, a fine fluid which allays thirst.
Cyrtandra Lessonia-This is one of the forest trees of the Sandwich islands. It has white mona petalous flowers, which are very fragrant, and the fruit is a white berry, with two cells and many seeds.
Cyrtandra Triflora.-This is a shrub found in thick shady places near the Pali precipice.
Piper Methysticum.-This is the plant called kava or ava by the Polynesians. The leaves are alternate, on rather long petioles, broad heart-shaped and smooth, much veined and have a sombre green color. The root is used to prepare the intoxicating drink called awa. A half a pint of the infusion produces intoxication, but no excitement of body or mind, and a long continued use a leprous eruption of the skin. The king cultivates a considerable quantity, and is said to be under excitement of it more or less every evening. It has an extremely nauseous taste to those unaccustomed to it. It is much employed also in dropsy as a remedy, and is said to be very effectual.
January, 1846.-As a commercial place Mazatlan dates but eight or ten years back, when it consisted of but a few houses or miserable huts, principally occupied by Indians or half-breeds, and who in fact constitute the great majority of the inhabitants, the merchants only forming the white population.
At present it is a place of considerable trade, and in its rapid growth has resembled many of our western towns, but here many of the houses are mere hovels. while a few members of the mercantile community have splended mansions. I have been informed that it is at present the only town in Mexico that is rapidly increasing in population. The prosperity of this place is caused by the silver mines of the interior, a large amount of bullion and coin being brought here for exportation, which is nearly all smuggled on board English men-of-war. The Mexicans, in returning, take a large amount of merchandise of various kinds in the interior.
The aspect of the surrounding country is barren and uninviting, having a high range of mountains in the distance, among which are some fertile vallies, and from whence this place is supplied with fruit and vegetables, being transported a distance of more than fifty miles on mules, there being no roads whatever yet constructed for carrying of any kind, and in consequence provisions of all kinds are exceedingly dear.
There is a peculiar feature given to the country here by a species of cactus (columnarius) which often rises to the height of forty feet, having a trunk sometimes three feet in diameter with the summit much branched, the branches deeply furrowed and armed with spines. The flowers are of a pale red color, rather inconspicuous. Much of the cultivated land is enclosed with this plant, the branches being cut off six or eight feet long and inserted into the ground, where they soon take root, and by their spines prevent the ingress of animals.
The principal forest tree here is the , belonging to leguminoseae, and it much resembles the locust in appearance. The natives call it ebony, from the resemblance of the heart wood to that timber. By the English it is called iron wood, from its weight. It takes a very high polish, but is very brittle, and is frequently fashioned into canes.
A beautiful species of justicia will frequently be found entwined around the cactus, with red terminal flowers in clusters,
The Cuscuta Americana is found abundantly in this neighborhood. It is a parasite, without roots, and entwines around other plants. The flowers are white.
There is a species of rhamnus in great abundance here, which the inhabitants use to give an acid taste to the water they drink. Some birds live entirely on the berries while in season. The flowers are yellow and the berries of an orange color. Jatropha Urcens.-This is a plant with variegated leaves, armed with long silvery hairs, and when touched produces a stinging effect.
June, 1846.—The geology of the western coast of South America is very inter. esting, in consequence of the great convulsions of nature which have taken place since the settlement of the country by Europeans, and also the visible effects of these which have occurred at a remoter period. Here, cities have been sunk and long lines of coast elevated in a few minutes, while the shattered and broken rocks, traversed by innumerable dykes of green stone, show what commotions formerly took place. The surrounding hills of Valparaiso consist of a granitic formation, which sometimes assumes the character of gneiss, and sometimes of granite. Their summits are flat-topped, and their flanks are rounded. That side of these mountains which fronts the prevailing winds is generally covered with forest. Here, during the summer, which forms the greater part of the year, the wind blows straightly from the southward, and a little off shore, so that rain never falls; but during the three winter months it is sufficiently abundant. The vegetation in consequence is very scanty.
Chile is traversed by several mountain chains, between which are beautiful vallies, and these are connected by narrow passages. These vallies, together with the passages, were formerly the bottoms of inlets and bays. A very fine kind of wheat is extensively cultivated in these vallies, also Indian corn, peaches, figs, apples, grapes, strawberries, and many other kinds of fruit; but the staple food, particularly among the laboring classes, is a kind of bean.
Bell mountain is six thousand four hundred feet high, and twenty-six miles distant from Valparaiso, and at this season of the year presents a fine view, covered with snow.
In the neighborhood much copper is found, and the ore is mostly sent to Swansea, England, to be smelted. The Chile government, or rather the old Spanish law, encourages the searching for mines. The discoverer may work a mine on any ground by paying five shillings, and before paying, he may even try in the garden of another man. The Chilian method is still the cheapest. The two principal improvements introduced by foreigners have been, first, by roasting the copper pyrites, which is the common ore in Cornwall, and the English miners found this thrown away as useless; secondly, stamping and washing the scoria from the furnaces, by which process particles of metal are recovered in abundance. They send to England cargoes of this scoria or cinders. The Chilian miners thought that there was not a particle of copper in the pyrites, and were under this mistake for many years, and laughed at the English who bought their richest veins for a few dollars. The workmen receive about one pound sterling per month and food, which consists of sixteen figs and two small loaves of bread for breakfast, and for dinner boiled beans, for supper broken roasted wheat grain. The miners who work in the mines receive about twenty-five shillings per month, and are allowed a little "charqui" or dried beef.
Very respectfuly submitted,
J. C. REINHARDT, Naturalist.
To Captain JOHN PERCIVAL,
Commanding United States Frigate Constitution.
WASHINGTON, September 15th, 1846.
FRANCIS MARKOE, JR., ESQ.,
Corresponding Secretary of the National Institute.
DEAR SIR: In the third Bulletin of the National Institute, containing the proceedings of the meeting of April, 1844, the following announcement appears at page 432:
"On the measurement of Base Lines—Captain W. A. Swift, U. S. Army.”
Supposing that the paper thus designated was intended to represent the title of the paper which I had the honor to read before the society on the 5th April, 1844, I beg to state, that the words used in the announcement quoted above, convey neither the idea of the character of the paper in question, nor the object which I had in view in making it.
The title, as prefixed by myself, is as follows:
"Description of the Base of Long Island, (New York.) measured by Ferdinand R. Hassler, Esq., in the year 1834, for the survey of the coast of the United States."
I have to request the favor of you to cause the error which I have pointed out in the title to be stated in the forthcoming bulletin of the society's proceedings, in order that the purport of the paper may not be misunderstood. It does not profess to be upon the "Measurement of Base Lines;" on the contrary, it assumes to be a description of the Base of Long Island, in the operations of which it became my duty, as one of Mr. Hassler's assistants in the coast survey, to partake, from the commencement to the termination thereof.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. H. SWIFT,
Capt. Topog. Engineers.