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On fhe Vertebrated Animals of the Lower Murray and Darling, 
their habits, economy, and geographical distribution, by 

[Bead 10th September, 1862.] 

SOME of the observations embodied in this paper date back as far 
as the year 1852, but the greater number are the results of a 
nine months' sojourn on the Lower Murray and Darling, where, 
encamped in the neighbourhood of Gol Gol, I was enabled, with 
the assistance of Messrs. Williams and their devoted natives, to 
thoroughly investigate the fauna of that part of Australia. 

I cannot speak too highly of the valuable co-operation of 
these gentlemen, the same whom Mr. Landsborough met on his 
return journey at the Warrego pushing on towards the Gulf, 
and whom he designates " the best of Australian Bushmen." 

The Placental Mammals of this district are of course few. 
They belong to the Bats, (Nyctophilus, Scotophilus, Rhinolophus,) 
the Rodents, (Hydromys, Hapaloiis, MiisJ and the Carnivora, 
which are represented here, as in the rest of Australia, by the 
Dingo alone. 


The Bats of the Murray and Darling all belong to the family 
Vespertilionidae, as the large so-called " Vampire Bat " or 
" Flying Fox " (Pteropus) is not found in those regions. 

Owing to the superstitions of the natives, who look upon 
every Bat as a departed friend and relative, who, according to 
their ideas with regard to the transmigration of souls, has seen 
better days among themselves, has thrown spear and boomerang, 
and feasted upon Kangaroo, Wallaby, and Emeu, the number 
of Bats collected during my journey was very limited indeed. 

. 894053 


'.? rvJviJi Sfct*{&n$<xwer Qreek I caught the first of these creatures, 
and I was seriously informed by the natives, that it was " brother 
belonging to black-fellow, who kill lubra if you kill him." 

Farther down the river this superstition vanished more and 
more ; still they never assisted in procuring specimens of this family. 

The following are the species collected : 

Geoffrey's Nyctophilus 

observed at various places between Gunbower Creek and the 
Junction of the Darling. 


The Little Bat 

of which a single specimen was caught near Milldura, 20 miles 
from the Darling. 


Chocolate Bat- 
specimens of which have been captured on the Lower Darling. 
I have been informed that a " tailed Bat " was also an in- 
habitant of that part of Australia, but I did not succeed in 
securing a specimen. I suppose that it is a new species of the 
genus Molossus, of which only a single representative is as yet 
described from this country, discovered some years ago by the 
late Dr. L. Becker, in the neighbourhood of Melbourne. 


The Large-leaved Horse- Shoe Bat 
frequently observed near Gunbower Creek. 



The Dingo, Warrigal of the natives, is the only Australian 
representative of the large Group of carnivorous animals inhabit- 
ing every other part of the globe ; and as our " Native Dog " has 
already established a reputation for himself, I shall be as brief as 
possible. In spite of the many enemies of the Dingo he is as 
plentiful as ever on the Lower Murray and Darling ; neither the 
strychnine of the settlers, nor the guns or spears of the Aborigi- 


nals could exterminate the breed : which no doubt is also 
maintained by stray shepherds' dogs not all the so-called 
Dingos being of the pure " Warrigal " blood. 

There is a black and tan coloured variety. Various litters 
taken by myself had generally four pups, sometimes a pair 
of each colour. The natives, who hate the Dingo most cordially 
for his living on the fat of the land, kill him on every opportunity 
and eat ^is flesh, which is by no means of ill flavour, though 
I have partaken of it under stress of hunger, and I will not 
vouch that I should sit down to roast Dingo with the same gusto 
now as ten years ago in the Murray scrub. 

A question has been raised as to the origin of the Dingo in 
Australia, and several high authorities are of opinion that the dog 
was introduced there by man ; if so, this must have been at a 
very remote age, as the first molar tooth of a dog has been found 
with other fossil remains in the breccia of the Wellington caves. 

In those days of Diprotodons, not only did the Dingo exist, 
but also some of the animals now restricted to the island of 
Tasmania, as Tliylacinus and Sarcophilus, teeth of which I have 
discovered in the same breccia, and which are now on view at 
the Australian Museum. 


The third group of the Australian Mammalia consists of the 
Rodents, which are largely represented, and, to some extent, par- 
take of the structure of the Kangaroo ; many having their hind 
limbs much elongated, and moving by a succession of jumps, in 
which they use the hind legs only. A few (4 species) are 
aquatic (Hydromys), expert swimmers and diners, and a great 
many are arboreal, and apparently the representatives of the 
squirrels in Australia. 

All the species observed by me on the Lower Murray, are 
strictly nocturnal, and all bring forth 4 young ones (born blind) 
at a time. 

Golden-bellied Beaver Rat. 

All the specimens of this rat procured by me are from Gun- 
bower Creek and Lake Boga, where this animal is very plentiful. 


It is strictly nocturnal, and was often observed after sundown, 
gambolling upon the shores of that beautiful lake. The Black 
Snake is a sore enemy to the young progeny of this Hydromys ; 
for I captured a specimen, which, upon being opened, proved to 
have swallowed a full dozen young Beaver Rats, about the size 
of new-born kittens. 

This Bat is not found on the Lower Darling, at least, I was 
assured by the natives that they had never seen it. 

Building Hapalotis. 
Koel or Kohl of the natives. 

Captain Sturt described this animal first, though Sir Thomas 
Mitchell mentioned it before him. 

It is one of the many species which will soon be extinct, as 
I found that it had already retreated before the herds of sheep 
and cattle across the Murray. Only a few empty nests were 
occasionally met with south of that river. The few specimens 
collected were captured by the natives about 10 miles north of 
the Darling Junction ; though many empty nests, or rather huts, 
were met with, occupied by Hapalotis apicalis, which, it appears, 
often takes a fancy to the roomy structures of the building 
Hapaloiis, and ejects the original inhabitant. I kept both 
species together in a box, but they never agreed, and, though 
the building Hapalotis is much larger in size, it could never hold 
its own against Hapalotis apicalis. They feed on various seeds, 
bulbous roots, insects, and the smaller species of Hapalotis, or 
birds' eggs, &c., and bring forth 4 young at a time. 

White-tipped Hapalotis. 
Tillikin of the natives. 

Mr. Gould figures this species, of which he mentions merely 
that he received it from South Australia. I observed the first 
specimens in the neighbourhood of Euston, and found it in great 
numbers upon Sir Thomas Mitchell's old track on both sides of 
the Murray. It also occurs on the Darling, and I have no doubt 


that the late lamented Explorers called Rat Point (in the neigh- 
bourhood of fort Bourke) after this Hapalotis. 

They are gregarious in their habits. I have dislodged as 
many as 15 specimens from a single tree, and kept large num- 
bers in captivity. They became quite tame ; and many which 
had escaped would return to join my frugal supper at night, and 
help themselves, to damper especially. This is a very graceful 
animal, strictly nocturnal in its habits, and its flesh white, tender, 
and well-tasted. 


Mitchell's Hapalotis. 

Kahlpere of the natives 

is another animal which the late Sir Thomas Mitchell first dis- 
covered. I have no doubt that it is widely distributed over the 
Australian continent, but I was not able to procure specimens at 
Gunbower Creek, or at the Junction of the Loddon. The first 
pair obtained were brought to me by natives in the neighbourhood 
of the Murrumbidgee. This animal is very plentiful on the 
Darling : and as many as 50 specimens were often procured by 
the native women in an afternoon. It burrows into the ground, 
and is dug out by them. Hapalotis Mitch ellii is strictly nocturnal 
in its habits, and the female produces 4 young at a time. Though 
they are easily kept in captivity, they often kill each other, if not 
well supplied with food ; they also have a disagreeable habit (to 
the naturalist, at least) of gnawing each others tails off. 

5. Mus SUBRUFUS ? 
Dusky mouse. 
Pethack of the natives. 

Apparently an undescribed species (for which I would propose 
the name of Mus subrufus) is found in large numbers between 
Gol Gol Creek and the Darling ; it is nocturnal and gregarious, 
and, like Hapalotis Mitchellii, burrows into the 'ground ; 4 young 
are produced at a time by the female. 

All the Rodents are eaten by the natives, but only in case 
of no other food being at hand, as a large number of these little 
creatures are wanted to satisfy the hunger of a black-fellow. 

This closes the list of the Placental Mammalia, which I had 


an opportunity of observing. But there are, no doubt, still many 
species of Rodents new to science ; in fact, several skins of 
Ha/patotie were received through native tribes living some 100 
miles further north, but all were in such bad preservation, that 
it was found impossible to give a correct description of them. 


By far the larger number of animals inhabiting the extensive 
plains on the Murray and Darling are marsupial ; and with a few 
exceptions truly nocturnal in their habits. 

This accounts for the apparent scarcity of animal life ; and 
often do travellers mention, that except an occasional Kangaroo, 
they have never met with any mammalian animal in the interior 
of the country. 

Two-thirds of the smaller mammalia collected and examined 
by me on the Murray were new to many old residents, and even 
the natives, who, in many parts, have acquired habits different 
from their former mode of life, had almost forgotten the existence 
of some of these species. With the aid of the Messrs. Williams 
and the natives, I succeeded in procuring every species known 
to exist in that part of Australia ; and in finding also a number 
of animals of this order which hitherto had been only known to 
frequent Western and South Australia. 

The following are the different genera : 
f Dasijurus. 

Dasyuridse ~{ Antechinus. 

^ Mijrmecobius. 
r Chceropus. 

Peramelidae -{ Perayalea. 
(, Perameles. 


(. Bclidceus. 

r Macropus. 

Macropodidas { T * 


^ Bettongia. 


I may also mention the Genus Phascoluinys (the Wombat), as 
I know upon reliable authority that P. latifrons has been killed in 
the neighbourhood of the " North-west Bend " on the Murray. 

The two genera Petaurus and Phascolarctos, the so called 
" Flying Squirrels " and " Native Bear" are not represented ; 
both frequent the rocky and mountainous districts only. 


Native Cat or Tiger Cat of the Settlers. 
" Kettrie " of the Natives. 

This is the most blood-thirsty of the Marsupial animals in- 
habiting the Murray scrubs, solitary in its habits, strictly 
nocturnal, and the terror of the feathered tribe, particularly of the 
yellow crested Cockatoo. Afraid of nothing, it will, when 
hungry, attack any other animal ; a mother will eat even her own 
progeny, if she has nothing else to fall back upon. 

I have often detected the lair of this Dasyurus by the heap of 
feathers and bones generally collected at the foot of the tree upon 
which it dwells ; it is eaten by the natives. The female is not 
furnished with the usual pouch, and in June or July brings forth 
often as many as 6 young at a time, so that every teat is occu- 
pied, 6 being the number of mammas generally observed in this 
species. The Native Cat of our neighbourhood (Dasyurus 
viverrinus) is somewhat smaller in size, with a more bushy tail, 
and the female furnished with 6 teats ; this may not be constantly 
the case, though I am informed by my friend, Mr. E. P. Ramsay, 
that various specimens examined by him had not more than 6 
teats, only 4 of which were in milk. Owing to the absence of 
a pouch, many of the weak young drop off, and only a few, 
generally 3 or 4, reach maturity. 

All my attempts to domesticate the young have proved 
fruitless ; they never learnt to recognise the hand that fed 
them, and though I kept a pair nearly six months, at the 
end of that time they were found only more ferocious than ever ; 
having made their escape at last, they kept near the huts and 
tents of the camp, completely clearing the place of mice and 
other vermin. Wherever a spot is infested with mice or rats in 
the bush (and some of the stations are overrun with them) there 


is no better remedy than to procure a few young Dasyuri, which 
having been kept on the ground for a few months, and turned 
out into the store-house, will soon " effect a clearance." 

The range of this species extends, according to Grould, as far 
as the West Coast. 

The Natives inhabiting the country near the junction of the 
Darling, have some superstitions regarding this animal, and 
" Jacob," an old chief on the River, often assured me, that 
" Kettrie make rain and rainbow." As his kinsmen are not fond 
of rain, I suppose they kill as many Kettries as possible. 


Handsome tailed Phascogale. 
Kultarr, (native name.) 

This is without doubt the most handsome species of the genus. 
It is ashy grey above, white underneath, with long bushy 
black tail, the upper half of the basal part of which is of a rich 
chesnut colour. 

The few specimens which have found their way to Europe 
were procured at the Williams River, Western Australia ; but 
when the intervening country between the Murray River and the 
West coast is better known to Naturalists, it will probably be found 
that the range of this beautiful creature extends over the larger 
half of the continent. The few specimens brought to me by the 
natives were generally found in hollow limbs of trees. I kept 
several alive for a considerable time, feeding them with live mice 
or small birds. Their movements were cat-like, but very grace- 
ful ; like all the members of this genus they are strictly nocturnal 
in their habits. A female specimen, caught in the beginning of 
June, had 8 very small young ones attached to the teats, which 
were 10 in number : no regular pouch was observable, the long 
hair only covering the young progeny. 

My specimens were captured near Williams' Station, Gol 
Gol Creek, about 10 miles from the Darling Junction. 

Brush-tailed Phascogale. 

This species, nearly allied to P. calura is, no doubt, still more 
widely distributed. It is occasionally found in the neighbour- 


hood of Sydney, and extends its range right across the continent 
to the west coast. On the Murray River, it is exceedingly rare ; 
the only specimen I found was secured in the neighbourhood of 
Mount Hope. I have subsequently received specimens through 
the natives, when at Port Lincoln ; and examined some which had 
been captured at Albany on King George's Sound, and have 
found them to be identical with the original Tapoa-Tafa of 

The only female specimen I saw had no pouch, but 10 teats 
covered with long hair. I suspect that, as in the other species, a 
large number of young is brought forth ; but how many reach 
maturity must yet be left to be determined. 

Woolly Phascogale. 
Kultarr (native name.) 

Two single specimens of this little Phascogale were obtained 
through the natives at Gol Gol Creek: one a female with 10 
teats and 7 young. The hind legs in this species are long and 
slender, and the natives informed me, that it lived upon the 
ground, unlike the other species of this genus ; most of which are 

The little creature, which I kept alive for several weeks, was 
fond of flesh, and, when put into a box with a number of Rodents, 
attacked the frightened mice immediately. 

The natives informed me, that the animal was very rare ; in 
fact, they had a dispute about its name, and called it " Kultarr," 
just as they did with Phascogale calura, while some asserted they 
had never seen the animal before. 

Though I offered high rewards for another specimen, I did 
not succeed in procuring any more than these. 

This species is also strictly nocturnal in its habits. 

Rusty footed Antechinus, 
Warum (native name.) 

This lively little animal is the most abundant of the Antechini, 
and, though nocturnal, is often seen during the day time. Its 


range extends from the east to the west coast. It used to be so 
common near the camp on the Murray, that I have often captured 
several specimens whenever a load of wood was brought in. 
I kept many alive and always found that, like the species of 
the Phascogale, it would attack and kill any number of mice, 
if put into the same box. The shallow pouch of the female is 
provided with 10 teats, and as many young are sometimes 
attached to them. I find several entries in my diary corro- 
borating these facts : 

Aug. 17. 1 female Antechinus flavipes with 10 young. 
19. 1 ditto 9 

20. 1 ditto 9 

Several females procured in September had only 6 young, of 
much larger size, attached to the teats. 

This animal is common on the North Shore, Sydney. 

White-footed Antechinus, 
Tram-Trammit (native name.) 

One of the smallest of this genus, and widely distributed over 
the whole of the southern part of the continent from Swan 
River to Port Jackson. The specimens I obtained on the Plains 
of the Murray are identical with specimens from this Colony, and 
with those inhabiting South and Western Australia. 

The female is furnished with a rather shallow pouch containing 
10 teats ; and in specimens captured in July and August, from 6 to 
9 young, of the size of a pea. The Natives caught this species 
frequently on the Sand-hills near our camp, in King George's 
Sound. A. albipes frequents rocky places, and is often found 
under stones. I have also found specimens under stones near 
Manly Beach. 

It bears captivity very well. I have lately found several 
specimens, and succeeded in keeping them about six weeks 
alive ; they thrive very well, and I killed them only on 
account of their rather strong odour, if fed on flesh. Though 
small, they are very ferocious, and they will attack mice of double 
their size, without fear. 



Thick-tailed Podabrus. 
Mondellundellun (native name.) 

All the specimens of this species ever sent to Europe came 
from the West coast of this continent ; but as I have obtained 
specimens fronf various parts of the Murray River, I doubt not 
that it inhabits the intervening country between the Swan River 
colony and New South Wales. I have never seen this hand- 
some little Podabrus from the eastern part of Australia, 
though a species with a much longer tail (Podabrus macurus) 
occurs in the neighbourhood of Brisbane, and further north. I 
have kept several specimens alive for months, but always 
found it necessary to separate them on account of their 
ferocity. I have more than once lost a number of valuable 
Rodents through inadvertently adding a Podabrus, or any 
species of Antechinus to them ; they fall upon the poor mice 
immediately, and kill many more than they can possibly eat. 
If not supplied with food, they attack and devour each other. 

Females, which the natives brought in July and August, had 
from 6 to 9 young ones in the rather shallow pouch. The 
number of teats is 10 ; and, as I found several with the whole 
number in milk, I believe that as many as 10 young are brought 
forth at a birth. 

All the species of the genus Antechinus are rather sensitive 
to cold ; and, when the thermometer fell as low as 30 a great 
many perished. 

Beyond a hoarse screech, I never noticed any voice. A 
singular peculiarity in all the Dasyuridae is, that they carry their 
ears folded down, never erect, when alive : and, though I do not 
want to find fault with Gould's beautiful work, I must say, that, 
in this respect, the representations he gives of this tribe of the 
animals of Australia are not over true to nature. 

Banded Myrmecobius. 

This singular animal which also inhabits the Plains border- 
ing on the Murray and Darling, is not found close to the first 


named river : and, as far as my inquiries among the natives 
went, has never occupied that part of the country. It does not 
now inhabit any part of Victoria, and I think the Murray may 
be taken as its southern boundary. A quarrel existed between 
the Darling natives and the tribe which accompanied me, so that 
I was not able to procure any live specimens of this singular 
animal, but its existence is proved sufficiently. I have been in- 
formed by Mr. Scott, the owner of a Station at Tapio, about 80 
miles from the Darling Junction, that the Banded Myrmecobius is 
by no means rare ; and that the natives could procure specimens 
for me ; but a few bad skins were all I obtained. 

How many young ones the female produces, and with how 
many teats she is furnished, I am unable to say ; the only fact 
proved is, that the range of Myrmecobius fasciatus is not limited 
to the West Coast, and, that according to the natives, it is not 
nocturnal in its habits. 

The Eastern Chseropus. 
Landwang (native name.) 

This singular animal which Sir Thomas Mitchell first dis- 
covered in his expedition to the Darling, June 16, 1836, is still 
found on the plains of the Murray ; though it is exceedingly 
rare, and is disappearing as fast as the native population. The 
large flocks of sheep and herds of cattle occupying the country 
will soon disperse those individuals which are still to be found 
in the so-called settled districts, and it will become more and 
more difficult to procure specimens for our national collection. 

During a period of six months, I encamped not far from the 
spot where Sir Thomas Mitchell secured his tail-less animal. I 
had the greatest difficulty in obtaining a few specimens, but 
succeeded at last, and as I believe that nobody has ever been 
able to observe the habits of this singular creature in a state of 
nature, I will quote from my diary, October 4th, 1857 : 

" After returning from a short excursion into the scrub, I fell 
in with a party of natives who had succeeded, at last, in securing 
a pair of the Chwropus, (male and female.) They wanted all 
manner of things for them, from a pair of blankets to a cutty 


pipe ; and as I was very anxious to sketch them from life I 
emptied my pockets there and then; and promised a grand 
entertainment for the night with plenty of damper and sugar and 

On arrival at the camp, the two animals were secured in a 
bird cage ; and I was busy for several hours sketching my charges 
in different positions. 

Gould's figures of Chceropus occidentalis are spiritless, being 
taken from dry skins. T was in the habit of showing a copy of 
Sir Thomas Mitchell's tail-less specimen to the natives, urging 
them to procure animals of that description ; of course, they did 
not recognize it as a " Landwang," and I was furnished in 
consequence with a large number of the common Bandicoot 
(Perameles obesula) minus the tail, which, to please me, had been 
screwed clean out. 

About sun-down, when I was about to secure my animals for 
the night, one of the nimblest made its escape, jumping clean 
through the wires of the cage. 

At a quick pace it ran up one of the sandstone cliffs, followed 
by myself, all the black-fellows, men, women, and children, and 
their dogs. 

Here was a splendid opportunity for observing the motions of 
the animal ; and I availed myself of it. The Chceropus progressed 
like a broken down hack in a canter, apparently dragging the 
hind quarters after it ; we kept in sight of the fugitive ; and, 
after a splendid run up and down the sand hills, our pointer, who 
had been let loose, brought it to bay in a salt bush. 

A large tin case was fitted up for the habitation of these 
animals, and provided with coarse barley grass, upon which, as 
the natives informed me, they feed. Insects, particularly Grass- 
hoppers, were also put into the box, and, though they were rather 
restless at first, and made vain attempts to jump out, they appeared 
snug enough in the morning, having constructed a completely 
covered nest with the grass and some dried leaves. 

During the day time, they always kept in their hiding places, 
and, when disturbed, quickly returned to them ; but, as soon as 
the sun was down, they became lively, jumping about and 
scratching the bottom of the case, in their attempts to regain 


liberty. I kept these animals upon lettuces, barley grass, bread, 
and some bulbous roots, for six weeks, until the camp was broken 
up, when they were killed for the sake of their skins. 

I think that about 8 specimens of this species were secured 
during our stay ; several of which, proved to be females with 
good sized young ones in the pouch, which is very deep and runs 
upwards, not like that of a Kangaroo. All were provided with 
8 teats, and bore 2 young ones, only one pair of teats being 

I may mention here that the Chceropus drinks a good deal of 
water, but will neither touch meat nor attack or eat mice, as the 
other members of this family do. 

Their dung, which I often examined when oub hunting, was 
entirely composed of grass, very dry, about the size of sheep's 
trundles, but much longer, so that I believe, that in a state of 
nature, they feed principally upon vegetables. They are very 
good eating, and I am sorry to confess that my appetite more 
than once over-ruled my love for science ; but 24 hours upon 
"pig- face " (mesembryanthemum) will damp the ardour of any 

The young which I took from the pouch of several females, 
never exceeded 2 in number, and were so far advanced, that I con- 
clude that the breeding season is in May or June. It is a 
curious fact, that the third toe in the fore feet of the Chceropus is 
much more developed in the young than in the adult animal : in 
fact, the former looked more like a young Perameles, than a 
CJiceropus ; the limbs being short and strongly made the basal 
half of the tail, which in the adult is covered with long black 
hair, is of a dark purple colour in the nude young animal. The 
eye of this species, which is very large and brilliant, is represented 
much too small in Gould's figures. 

Rabbit Rat. 

Wuirrapur, (Murray natives.) 
Jecko, (Darling tribes.) 

This beautiful animal, like many other species, has long ago 
retreated to the north of the Murray. It is social, not gregarious, 


in its habits, only found in pairs scattered over the wide plains 
formerly the sole domain of the Kangaroo and Emeu. It digs 
into the ground, forming a burrow like a rabbit, but with only 
one entrance, and differs herein from Bettongia Graii, the burrows 
of which are provided with several outlets, and may easily be dis- 
tinguished from those of the Peragalea. 

As this " Rabbit Rat " often prefers entering the ground on 
a hill side, and as hills, even of very slight elevation, are often 
scarce on these extensive plains, it will sometimes happen, that 
the Peragalea takes advantage of the mound raised upon a 
departed black-fellows grave, providing for itself a habitation 
beneath the natives weary bones. Upon this ground an inves- 
tigator asserted, some years ago, that this animal dug out the 
dead bodies of the natives and fed upon them. I think that 
every naturalist that has the slightest knowledge of the habits of 
this animal, will agree with me, that it is no resurrectionist, and 
if it takes advantage of the " mound," it is only for convenience 
sake, and not for criminal purposes. 

It is nocturnal in its habits, feeds upon grass, roots, insects, 
&c., and always retires before dawn. Its flesh is very good 
eating, though the fur has a peculiar sweetish smell which is 
retained for years after the skin has been cured. 

The natives seldom unearth the animal ; the holes being very 
deep, and often found to be uninhabited. I procured a few 
specimens only, among which, was an adult female, with a very 
deep pouch, 8 teats, and two large young. 

All the spots which, in the adult, are covered with black hair, 
were of a purple colour in the nude young specimens, which 
appeared to be about four months old ; so that, according to my 
diary, their breeding season will be about the beginning of May, 
The pouch runs upwards. 

Banded Perameles. 
Thill, (native name.) 
Moncat (do. do.) 

One of the many animals whose range extends from the east 
to the west coast of the Continent, it is common on all parts of 


the Murray River, and is also found in Victoria, in South Australia, 
parts of Western Australia, and in the immediate neighbourhood 
of Sydney. 

Though provided with strong claws it seldom burrows, except 
in search of its food, which consists of insects, bulbous roots, 
various herbs, &c. Nocturnal and social in its habits, the striped 
(so called) " Bandicoot " seeks shelter, during the day time, in 
hollow logs, or under stones, although sometimes it constructs a 
sort of nest like the Cheer opus. 

This animal bears captivity well, and becomes very expert in 
catching mice. I had several about the camp ; and they proved 
as useful as cats. 

I was in the habit of feeding the specimens kept in a large 
tin case with various kinds of Rodents, which they killed with 
astonishing quickness. 

The Perameles would tumble the mice about with its fore 
paws, break their hind legs, and eat generally the head only. 
I have seen a single individual kill as many as twenty mice in a 
very short time, breaking their bones successively, after which 
it would begin to satisfy its hunger. 

During the months of May, June, July, and August, female 
specimens provided with 8 teats, and containing from 2 to 4 
young were captured by the natives. Those obtained in August, 
had grown to the size of a young rat ; fur, cream coloured, with- 
out the markings upon the haunches, which appear at a more 
nature age. 

The flesh is palatable. The pouch runs upwards. 

Short-nosed Perameles. 
Bandicoot of the settlers. 
Pirrikin, Murray natives. 

This animal is the most common of the Peramelidce, inhabiting 
the whole of the Southern part of the Continent and Tasmania. 
How far its range extends to the north, I have been unable to 
ascertain, though I know that it is frequently met with on the 
Clarence River. 

The flesh is delicious, especially when done in the native style, 


that is, the hair removed, and the game roasted upon the coals. 
From May to September, females with from 2 to 3 young ones in 
the pouch were frequently captured. In October or November, 
the young progeny begin to shift for themselves. 

The pouch is very deep, the entrance upwards, and contains 
8 teats. 


Vulpine or Brush-tailed " Opossum " 

So well known to everybody, that I shall not enlarge upon it ; 
but merely remark that this species is the staff of life to the 

I often admired my native friends, when after a hard day's 
unsuccessful hunting they dropped in at the camp empty handed ; 
how carefully they would examine the large flooded Gum-trees 
(Eucalyptus rostratus), fringing the river banks, how nimbly they 
would get a footing upon some hollow limb, and with what per- 
severance "Possum" was dislodged, and perhaps, accidentally 
dropped into the river, whence it had to be rescued by the black- 
fellow's better half : for it was the question of " to eat or not 
to eat." 

How often the Phalangista vulpma produces young, I am not 
able to tell with certainty. I think, judging by the large 
numbers in every forest, several times a year. The female is 
provided with only 2 teats, and seldom carries more than one 
young one at the time. 

Ring-tailed Opossum. 
Pirrath of the Murray natives. 

A rare animal on the Murray and Darling. I secured no 
more than two specimens during my stay there. It is much 
lighter in colour than the species inhabiting the Swan River 
colony. The pouch in the female is provided with 2 teats. 

It is one of the characteristics of the flat country tra- 
versed by the Murray and Darling, that no other species of the 
Phalangistidce are found there. 

The first Btlidceus I captured on my return, at Mount Ida, 



Mclvor Range, 80 miles distant from the Murray, is, according 
to G-ould, a new species, and is figured by him in part XI. of his 
Mammalia, 15, as " Belidmus notatus" 

As I made many enquiries of the Natives about the genus 
Petaurus, and found that these animals are not known to them, 
I do not hesitate to consider their range to be restricted to the 
mountainous coast districts. 

All the members of this family are nocturnal, and the female 
is provided with one pair of mammas only. In the " Flying 
Squirrels " the number of young is sometimes 2 ; but the 
Koala or " Native Bear " never produces more than a single 
young one at a time. 

I now proceed to the Kangaroo, whose form and habits seem 
to have struck the discoverers of Australia with special wonder. 
Large Plains are admirably adapted to the habits of these 
animals, and the low lands of the Murray have once swarmed 
with their numbers as they do now with cattle and sheep. At 
the present time, large flocks of Kangaroos are a rare sight ; and 
though I have seen as many as sixty or eighty together, I think 
that this is the exception, not the rule. 

.The most formidable, and no doubt the handsomest species of 
the whole tribe is, 


The Great Red Kangaroo. 
Bullucur of the Murray natives. 

Which has become very scarce upon the left bank of the 
Murray, but is still found in considerable numbers in New South 
Wales and South Australia. The range of this species to the 
eastward does not extend much beyond Mount Hope. 

This large beautiful animal, about which a great deal has 
been written, ought to be well known to every colonist, and yet it is 
only a few months ago that the very existence of such a creature 
was doubted by an enlightened "critic," who was pleased to 
designate this species as ante-diluvian ; indeed it must sound 
like a fable to people who know little or nothing about such 
matters, if they are informed that the male of this species is of a 
foxy red, and the female of a bluish grey colour. 


The Bed Kangaroos, like the great Kangaroo, (Macropus 
major) feed in flocks, and, when disturbed, the old males cover 
the retreat of the fleet females who are off first, so that specimens 
of the latter sex are rare, the dogs generally stopping the pro- 
gress of the rear-guard of the red " old men." 

In wet weather, when the chalky top soil of the " Malley 
scrub " is softened, these Kangaroos are easily captured : they 
sink deep into the ground, and any black-fellow's cur, trained 
for such work, will stick ta the tail of the Kangaroo until his 
master is able to come up and crack its skull, or run a spear 
through it. 

The female produces one young at a time, which she carries 
in her pouch until it is of considerable size. As in all the other 
members of this family, the number of mammae is four. 

The flesh is very palatable I prefer it to that of Macropus 


The Great Kangaroo. 
Bullucur of the Murray natives. 

A much more common species than the preceding, and 
similar in its habits, the female producing only one young one at 
a time. The pouch has 4 teats. 

Dr. James C. Cox has lately presented two young of this 
species to the Museum, which were both taken from the same 
pouch. I mention this as being of very rare occurrence ; they are 
about | inch long. 


Bridled Nail-tailed Kangaroo. 
Merrin of the Murray natives. 

The most common of all the smaller species of the Kangaroo 
tribe ; often seen out during the day-time, though, when observed 
in captivity, much livelier at night ; gregarious, the female 
producing one young at a time, generally in the beginning 
of May ; pouch confaining 4 teats. Its flesh is white and well 


Hare Kangaroo. 
Turatt of the Murray natives. 

Common upon the level country between the Murray and 
Darling ; strictly nocturnal and solitary in its habits ; it is seen 
during the day-time only, and is generally found asleep under 
some salt bush, or in any other sheltered locality. The Hare 
Kangaroo is the fleetest of the whole tribe, and will, when hotly 
pressed, take leaps more than 8 feet high. 

A single young one is produced at a time ; pouch furnished 
with 4 teats. This species is easily tamed, and I have kept 
several at the camp, which lived well on biscuit, bread, or boiled 

Its flesh is delicious, in fact some of the best meat I ever 

Rufous Bettongia. 
Kangaroo Rat. 

This animal, so common in the neighbourhood of Sydney, has 
not been observed by me to the westward of the Murrumbidgee, 
where Bettongia penicillata appears to take its place. Not a single 
specimen was procured by the natives during my stay at the 
Darling Junction ; so that 1 have no doubt about the extent of 
its range. This animal is easily tamed, and 1 have kept a young 
one about the size of a large rat for several weeks. The little 
animal often followed me upon my excursions, seeking shelter 
upon the approach of danger by creeping between my boots and 

Only one young is brought forth in June, though the pouch 
contains 4 teats. The flesh of this animal is also very palatable. 

Pencil-tailed Bettongia. 
Pattuck of the Murray natives. 

The smallest of the whole family, nocturnal in its habits. 
Those occasionally seen during the day time have been disturbed. 


It is not very quick, and is easily caught, even by common dogs. 
I have from time to time kept* numbers of these animals in 
captivity in an enclosure of pine logs about seven feet high, 
which they used to climb with a nimbleness truly astonishing, 
and thus often escaped. During the day time I always noticed 
these creatures crouching into some corner ; the tail brought 
forward between the hind legs, the head between their paws ; 
fast asleep. I noticed that they are very partial to the thick 
clusters of Polygonum scrub so frequent on the Murray. 

Female specimens, with never more than 1 young attached to 
one of the 4 teats, were frequently brought to me by the natives. 
Single specimens, with a white brush at the end of the tail, 
occur occasionally. 

This Bettongia and B. Ogilbeyi appear to be so closely allied 
to each other that I should consider them the same species. 


Gray's Jerboa Kangaroo v 
Booming of the Murray natives. 

This burrowing Bettongia has long retreated before the herds 
of cattle with which the plains bordering on the Murray are now 
stocked ; and it is no longer to be found south of that river, so, 
at least, the natives assured me, and whenever we went out hunt- 
ing for it, we always had to cross to the New South Wales side. 

Not a single specimen of my collection was procured in 
Victoria. Although this species is constantly furnished with a 
brush of white hairs at the end of the tail, I consider it identical 
with Gould's B. GraU, in which the white mark is wanting. 

It is a truly nocturnal animal, which always leaves its burrow 
long after the sun is down, in fact, never before it is quite dark. 
I often watched near their holes, gun in hand, listening to their 
peculiar call ; but I always had great difficulty in procuring 
specimens, as they are very shy, and hardly to be distinguished 
from the surrounding objects. 

The best plan is always to dig them out ; an operation in 
which the black-fellows are very expert, though it is rather 
tedious work ; the holes running into each other, and being 


sometimes ten feet deep ; and several shafts may have to be 
sunk, before a couple of " Bookings " can be secured. 

I have often seen several acres of ground covered with their 

I have no doubt that this, and, perhaps, many of the other 
species, breeds several times during the year, but brings forth one 
young only. The pouch of the female is furnished with 4 teats. 

It is difficult to keep them in captivity, as they are very wild 
indeed ; and either escape by a burrow, or kill themselves in 
running their heads against the enclosure. 

These are all the Marsupial animals proper which I have 
observed ; it will however be necessary to say a few words about 
the sub-class of the Marsupial Group, the Monotremata, which is 
represented by the following species. 

The Duck-billed Platypus. 

This singular animal does still exist in most of the tributaries 
of the Murray, as the Loddon, Avoca, Campaspe, &c. It is ex- 
tremely shy, and little is yet known about its habits and economy. 
It burrows into the river bank from below the water level, and 
according to Bennett, brings forth 3 young ones at a time ; some 
found by that naturalist were one inch and seven-eighths in 
length. Its food consists of fresh water worms, mollusca, worms, 
insects, &c. 

This is about all we know of the Platypus, and cannot I do 
better for the benefit of science than draw attention to Pro- 
fessor Owen's remarks in his elaborate paper on the monotremata ; 
The great anatomist says : 

" The principal points in the generative economy of this para- 
doxical species still remain to be determined by actual observation. 

1. Manner of copulation. 

2. Season of copulation. 

3. Period of gestation . 

4. The nature and succession of the temporary structures 

developed for the support of the foetus during gestation. 

5. The exact size, condition, and powers of the young at the 

time of birth. 


6. The act of suckling. 

7. The period during which the young requires the lacteal 

nourishment, and the age at which the animal attains 

its fall size." 

Knowing that many gentlemen in the country take great 
interest in Natural History, and have frequent opportunities of 
observing the Ornithorliynchus, I beg to draw their attention to 
the questions yet to be solved. 

The Spiny Echidna. 

This singular animal, of which I have seen two preserved 
skins at Mount Hope, is almost less known than the Platypus. 
Its geographical range does not extend far into the flat country, 
and it is generally found in mountain ranges among rocks and 
stones ; a shepherd at Mount Hope assured me that the animals 
which he had preserved were captured at the mount ; the natives 
further down the river did not appear to be aware of the existence 
of such an animal as the Echidna ; their food is said to consist 
principally of ants and their eggs, though I have kept many in cap- 
tivity and offered them the food mentioned, but without success. 
Upon hen-eggs they subsist for some time ; they also like bread 
and milk, but seldom live longer than two or three months in 
captivity. I have reason to believe that, strange as it may appear, 
the Echidna lives upon grass also, as I have examined several 
which had the intestines full of digested grass or herbs. 

Of the generation of this species nothing is as yet known, nor 
have I ever seen a very young Echidna, none at least less than 
six or eight inches long. 


To investigate the Reptilian fauna of a country, a longer 
stay than six months is necessary, and the species which I am 
going to enumerate must be considered as but a small portion 
of the reptiles inhabiting those districts. The country consists of 
large plains without a stone npon them, studded with salt-bush, 



pine forests, or mallee scrub, affording the agile reptiles unusual 
facilities for escape during the summer. In the cold season these 
creatures, owing to the nature of the country, retreat into the 
ground, so that they can only be obtained with great difficulty ; 
and this is the cause that the collection made during my sojourn 
on the Murray was but a scanty one. 

Those which were observed belonged to the following 
genera : 


b. Geissosaura. 

CHELONIA. 1. Chelodina. 

f-a. Leptoglossae. 2 . Hydrosaurus. 

r 3. Pygopus. 

4. Lialis. 
5 7. Hinulia. 

8. Mocoa. 

9. Siaphos. 

10. Trachydosaurus. 

11. Cydodus. 

12. Tropidolepisma. 
1315. Diplodactylus. 

^c. Pachyglossee. ^ 16 18. Pliyllurus. 

19 22. Grammatophora. 
not venomous. 23. Morelia. 

( 24. Acanthophis. 

25 26. Diemenia. 
venomous 1 27 28. Pseudechis 

29. Hoplocephalus. 

30. Tjimnodynastes. 
3133. .EfyZa. 

34. Pelodryas. 




The long-necked Tortoise. 

This aquatic reptile is found in considerable numbers in the 
Murray and its tributaries. It affords food to the natives, 
especially during the summer, when the lagoons are dry, as it can 


then be procured in large numbers without difficulty. Their eggs, 
which are deposited in the beginning of January, amount to 15 or 
20, perhaps even more, as the natives, who consume them in 
quantities, informed me. 

Like all tortoises, the preseut species is very tenacious of life. 
On one occasion, a specimen was brought to the camp pierced by 
a spear : for the sake of experiment, it was put into a case, and 
kept for a few months, at the end of which, the wound was found 
completely closed, and the animal as lively as if nothing had 
happened to it. 


The Lace Lizard. 

I believe the present striped species, and the large spotted or 
Gigantic Lace Lizard (3. giganteus) to be identical ; this is one of 
the most common forms on the plains of the Murray ; so common, 
in fact, that I have often captured half a dozen of them on my 
return to the camp ; they were generally found basking in the 
sun, close to their holes, down which they disappeared with 
extraordinary swiftness when disturbed. They grow to a large 
size, as much as 7 or 8 feet long, and feed upon carrion, as well 
as upon living animals ; on various occasions several pounds of 
bones, and once a large " opossum " was taken from the stomach 
of one of these reptiles. 

Their eggs, of which they deposit some 10 or 15, are large, 
covered with a tough leathery membrane ; the young lizards being 
more than 10 inches long, at the time of^birth. 

The present species is well distributed over almost every part 
of Australia. 


The Pygopus. 

This, at first appearance, snake -like form, is occasionally met 
with, but not so frequently as other Lizards : its flat tongue, the 
two rudimentary limbs near the anus, and its ear-holes, easily 
distinguish it from a true snake. 


The number of eggs deposited by the present species, seldom 
exceeds 3 or 4, they are of very elongate form, 3 or 4 times as 
long as they are broad, and are generally hatched by the powerful 
rays of the sun in 3 or 4 weeks. This lizard also has a very 
wide distribution. 

There has been a second species of Pygopus observed on the 
Murray, marked with much more brilliant colours than any 
hitherto known; but owing to the mutilated state of the specimen 
which was captured by the natives, it was found impossible to 
preserve it or give a correct description thereof. 


Burton's Lialis. 

This is another snake-like form, with pointed muzzle, a single 
specimen of which came under my notice ; its range is very 
extensive, as I have at various times received specimens from the 
Clarence River, and from farther north. Sir George Grey 
mentions its occurrence in Western Australia. In its habits, it is 
similar to the Pygopus. 


Elegant Hinulia. 

Australian Hinulia ; and 

Slender Hinulia. 

Are three species of Scincoid Lizards, occasionally observed. 
The first is generally found beneath the rough bark of trees. I 
believe that there are many more representatives of the genus 
Hinulia, but owing to their nimbleness, it was impossible to 
capture many of them. The number of eggs deposited by these 
Lizards has not been ascertained correctly ; perhaps they are 
viviparous, and if so, may bring forth 10 to 12 young. 


New Holland Moco. 
This widely distributed small Lizard has been frequently 


captured, ifc is very common under bark, or among dead leaves 
or branches. Its eggs are deposited among decomposed leaves 
in moist places, and are from 10 to 16, and perhaps more in 
number. I have often taken as many as 50 out of one of these 
breeding places, but I believe that they were the produce of 
several lizards. 

In the neighbourhood of Sydney, where M. trilineata is very 
common, the eggs are generally laid between the fronds of the 
so called " Staghorn fern." 


The Siaphos. 

This is another small Lizard, with very short three-toed limbs ; 
it frequents shady or dark places, and lays but a limited number 
of eggs. 

Rugose Stump-tail. 

A large, lazy, and very common kind of Lizard, generally 
known as the " Sleeping Lizard," which frequents open sandy 
plains, and may be captured in large numbers during a hot 
summer's day. 

The number of young produced, seldom exceeds 4, those 
dissected by me had 2 embryos only. I believe these Lizards do 
not inhabit the east coast, at all events they are not found near 
Sydney, or at the Hastings or Clarence Rivers. 

In Western Australia, particularly in the neighbourhood of 
King George's Sound they are very common. 

Giant Cyclodus. 

Whether this species is identical with the large Cyclodus of 
the east coast I cannot at present determine. Peters has des- 
cribed a Cyclodus from South Australia, and Dr. Schomburgk who 
discovered this new species informs me that our common Giant 
Cyclodus does not exist near Adelaide ; if this is correct, the 
Cyclodus found on the Murray, would be referable to Peters' 
C. occipitalis. 


One or two specimens of this Lizard were captured by the 

I had been always under the impression that these reptiles 
produced 2 or perhaps 3 young only, but not long ago I 
dissected a large female specimen and took therefrom fifteen 
well formed young, each about from 5 to 6 inches long. 

This species is prized by the natives as an article of food. 

King's Tropidolepisma. 

This species, (the smallest of the genus) is alone found on 
the Murray, its range extends almost from the east to the west 
coast, though in the immediate neighbourhood of Sydney it does 
not occur. 

The number of eggs or young produced by this Lizard has 
not been ascertained. 


Yellow Crowned Diplodactyle. 

This little Gecko is rather rare, as not more than 5 specimens 
were procured through the natives during my stay on the Murray ; 
its distribution is very extensive, and, in fact, includes almost 
every part of Australia. The Australian Museum is in possession 
of specimens from the North East Coast, from the Murrumbidgee, 
and from South and West Australia. Near Sydney this species 
is tolerably common. It is oviparous, producing about 6 eggs. 


Beautiful Diplodactyle. 

I do not think that there is another species of Lizard, so 
common and so widely distributed as this ; every tree along the 
river banks harbours large numbers of them, and wherever a 
piece of dry bank is removed, this little Gecko is sure to be found 
beneath, in company with various species of Coleoptera, Blattse, 
and spiders. In stony localities it frequents the shady side of 
rocks, &c. In its habits this Lizard is truly nocturnal. 



The Eyed Diplodactyle. 

Of this rare Lizard a few solitary specimens were captured, 
and these were in bad preservation and scarcely to be recognized. 
The Museum has, however, lately received well preserved speci- 
mens from the Murrumbidgee, through the kindness of Mr. 
William MacLeay, M.L.A., so that I am able to enumerate this 
Gecko, as inhabiting the Murray Plains. 

Broad-tailed Gecko. 

Spineless Gecko. 

Thick-tailed Gecko. 

Have been obtained in the Mclvor ranges and near Mount 
Hope ; on the Murray Plains, no specimens were observed, 
though they may exist there. These three Geckos are common 
near Sydney and at the Clarence and Richmond Rivers ; the last 
mentioned species also occurs in Western Australia. 

Crested Grammatophora. 

The distribution of the present species does not extend, as 
far as my experience goes, beyond the mountainous districts ; 
upon the dividing range specimens were frequently observed, but 
in the plain country they disappeared. The natives informed me 
that this lizard existed near Mount Hope, but they never cap- 
tured it. 

Near Sydney, where this species is common, it is generally 
found in the neighbourhood of water, diving into it when dis- 
turbed and remaining at the bottom for a considerable time. 
Specimens which I have in captivity, would lie at the bottom 
of a water vessel for hours without coming to the surface to breathe. 
I have watched one under water for more than forty minutes, 
I was then called away, but on my return half an hour afterwards 
I could not see the least indication that the lizard had stirred ; 


again I watched it for some twenty minutes longer, and gave it up 
at last, the reptiles being apparently under no necessity to breathe. 


The Common Grammatophora. 

yhis is a well-known and very common species found in 
nearly every part of Australia. It is fond of basking in the sun, 
and may be frequently observed sitting motionless on old 
stumps upon road side fences, &c. From 5 to 8 eggs are 
generally produced, and deposited in the sand. 


Yellow spotted Grammatophora. 

This .species is found in large number upon all the open plains, 
every tuft of grass and every salt bush sheltering several of these 
gaily coloured creatures ; they vary considerably in their markings, 
more so even than the previous species G. muricata. The number 
of eggs produced amounts to about 8. 

Bearded Grammatophora. 

This formidable looking reptile is better known under the 
name of " Jew Lizard." It cannot be considered a common form 
on the Murray, but its distribution extends from the East to the 
West Coast ; how far it ranges North I have not been able to 
ascertain, I know however that it occurs at Wide Bay, and is 
probably found all over the continent. 

The number of eggs produced by this reptile is most likely 
from 6 to 8, perhaps more. 



The Carpet Snake. 

I am inclined to think that the Carpet Snake and the 
Diamond Snake are identical, varying in colour in different 
localities ; Carpet Snakes occur in every part of Australia, the 


South East Coast excepted ; they differ from the Diamond Snake 
in nothing but their markings, which consist of a series of brown 
blotches with darker margins, whilst the Diamond Snake is of a 
glossy bluish black, with a bright yellow spot in the centre of 
nearly every scale. 

The Carpet Snake does not appear to be so common on the 
plains or in the mountain districts, and a single specimen only 
was secured ; this snake feeds upon birds, small mammals, &c., 
and produces a large number of eggs ; from 20 to 30 as the natives 
informed me. 


The Death Adder. 

Of this highly venomous snake, I obtained but a single speci- 
men at Lake Boga ; it brings forth about 10 or 12 young ones. 


Grey Diemenia. 

The present species so common near Sydney is not often met 
with on the Murray, only one specimen being secured during 6 
months ; its bite is not considered dangerous, causing only a 
slight irritation, not as bad as the sting of a bee ; the total length 
seldom exceeds 3 feet. 

Brown Snake. 

A species, which like many others, ranges from the East to the 
West Coast, and perhaps extends over the whole continent, as 
I have received specimens from Cape York. Near Sydney, and 
along the East Coast, the young are distinctly black, banded 
with a black patch upon the head ; but the young found on the 
Lachlan and in other localities to the westward are not banded. 
I have received specimens from Adelaide which are plain coloured 
with black patches upon head and neck, but without bands. In 
a few years these bands and black spots disappear more or less, 
and the adult snake is generally of an uniform brown color; there 
are some individuals on the coast, however, in which the bands 
may be traced when full grown. In the specimens taken on the 
Murray no bands or black marks could be detected. 


This snake is highly venomous, and produces some 20 eggs, 
which are deposited in the sand under some bramble or decayed 
leaves ; it is frequently confounded with the following species. 


Yellow-bellied Brown Snake. 

Hitherto considered to be a variety of the Black Snake, from 
which it differs in nothing but the colour, being brown above and 
yellow or orange beneath. This Snake does not occur near 
Sydney ; but it appears to be common as far north as Port 
Denison, from whence specimens have been obtained. 

It is highly venomous. 


Black Snake. 

One of the most common and most venomous Snakes, distri- 
buted over almost every part of Australia, common on the Murray, 
and producing some twenty young annually. 


Brown-banded Snake. 

This, the most vicious of all our reptiles, closely allied to the 
Indian Cobra, is very common on the plains, in particular in the 
reed-beds near Swan Hill, and in other swampy places ; the 
natives appear to be in great dread of this reptile, and assured 
me that its bite was certain death. 

This species is also found in almost every part of Australia. 

These are all the Snakes actually observed by me, but no 
doubt they do not represent all the species which exist in these 
extensive plains. 


Of this order not many species were collected. 


Striped Swamp Frog. 
In a reed-bed near Lake . Boga a single specimen was 


obtained. It is a common species near Sydney, on the Clarence 
River, near Rylston, and in many other localities. 


Common Golden Tree Frog. 

This species, widely distributed over Australia, is the most 
common of all our Batrachians : the natives when pinched for 
food capture large numbers of it by the light of a torch at night ; 
a supply of this frog can always be secured wherever there is 
fresh water near. 


Yellow-Legged Tree Frog. 

This species, which ranges also over a great part of the 
continent, is generally found during the day-time under the 
bark of the "Flooded Gum" (Eucalyptus rostrata). 

Adelaide Tree Frog. 

This species is not common on the Murray ; its range extends 
as far as Western Australia. 

Great Green Tree Frog, 

The largest of our Batrachians, found in every part of Aus- 
tralia, and in New Guinea. I have seen specimens as large as a 
man's fist. This species feeds upon almost every living object 
that can be swallowed : lizards, frogs, all kinds of insects, and 
young birds for I have once taken the nestling of a small 
honey-eater out of the stomach of one of these insatiable 

This concludes my notice of the reptilian fauna of the Lower 
Murray, which, as before mentioned, will prove much richer both 
in genera and species than it appears at present to be. I could 
enumerate some 5 or 6 more species, but these were in such bad 
preservation that it was found impossible to determine their 
character with certainty. 


Observed in the neighbourhood of Sydney, by 

HAVING paid much attention to the reptiles found near this city, 
I am now able to give an account of the snakes to be met with 
in the vicinity, and to point out which of them may be considered 
dangerous to man or larger animals. 

There are four highly venomous snakes observed to inhabit 
nearly every part of Australia, while a fifth large venomous species 
exists besides these on the North-west coast ; and these are the 
only dangerous ones known to us as yet. 

All the remaining species, as far as my knowledge goes, are 
too small to inflict a dangerous wound. 

In the beginning of spring, when reptiles re-appear, there is 
generally a great supply of snake stories brought before the 
public by the daily press, but it is of very rare occurrence that 
we hear of death being caused by the bite of any of these 

If we compare our reptile-fauna with other countries under 
the same latitude, I think that we have sufficient reason to 
be thankful for the absence of the deadly Vipers, the Rattlesnakes 
and Puff-adders of India, America, and Africa all of which 
have fangs an inch or more in length ; we actually have 
not yet discovered a single species in which the teeth exceed 
one-fourth of an inch, and I doubt whether any of our snakes can 
inflict a wound through ordinary cloth or a common leather boot. 

All our venomous snakes belong to the second sub-order of 
the class Ophidia, viz : to the Colubrine snakes with perma- 
nently erect immoveable fangs in front. Of innocuous, or not 
venomous Colubrine snakes, we have three species near Sydney, 
all of which are Tree-snakes. If we except the Diamond snake, 
which belongs to the Boa family, we find that all not venomous 


Colubrine snakes may be easily distinguished from the venomous 
species by the deep curve which the gape of the mouth forms ; 
whilst, in the venomous snakes, the gape is always a more or less 
straight line. In the members of the Boa family the line is 
straight, as in venomous snakes, but these are easily distinguished 
by the rudimentary limbs, in shape like a small spur situated 
near the anus. 

I have added Dr. Giinther's description of the two species of 
Sea- Snakes which occur on our coast ; both of which may be 
considered harmless, having only very small fangs and I take 
this opportunity to thank that eminent naturalist for the kind 
assistance he has so frequently rendered me. I also beg to assure 
those contributors to the Museum who have furnished me with the 
means of adding to the knowledge of our Reptiles, that I shall 
always consider myself under deep obligations to every one 
of them. 



Snakes without grooved fang in front, comprising the follow- 
ing families : 

1. Typhlopidce, or Blind Snakes". 

2. DendropMdcB, or Tree- Snakes. 

3. Dipsadidce, or Nocturnal Tree-Snakes; and 

4. Pythonidce, or Rock-Snakes. 

Typhlops. Sclmeid. 
Typhlops riipelli. Jan. 
The Blind Snake. 

Scales in 22 rows. Rostral large and broad above, narrowing 
below ; Preoculars much larger at the base than at the tip, third 
upper labial in contact with the ocular and preocular. Anterior 
scales smaller than the posterior ones. Tail short, cylindrical, 


very obtuse, three times the length of its diameter, and ending 
in a small spine. 

The color of this harmless little reptile is brownish grey 
above, and yellowish below; each scale of the back being 
bordered with yellowish white, the markings becoming obsolete 
towards the tail ; the form is cylindrical, enlarging towards the 

Of all our harmless snakes, the present species is the least 
Offensive ; it lives under ground, and is frequently found in Ants' 
nests, upon the Iarva3 of which it principally exists ; its total 
length does not exceed 18 inches. I believe that the present 
species has a very wide range, and that it will be found to inhabit 
the greater part of the Australian Continent ; specimens from 
the Murray River, from South Australia, and from Queensland 
are in the collection of the Australian Museum. 


Dendrophis. Boie. 
Dendrophis punctulata. Gray. 
The Green Tree-Snake. 

Scales in 12 or 13 rows. 
Anal bifid. 
Yentrals 207. 
Subcaudals 106/106. 

Of slender form, above green or pale olive brown, beneath 
bright yellow, sides and under parts of head the same colour; eyes 
large, pupil rounded. Outer edge of scales white, as may be seen 
on stretching the skin. 

1 anterior 2 posterior oculars, scales smooth, those of the 
vertebral row much larger, polygonal ; scales of outer rows elon- 
gated, narrow, quadrilateral, and very imbricated. 

Maxillary teeth smooth and of equal length. 

This snake, one of the few not venomous Australian species, 
is a gentle harmless creature, which at any time may be handled 
with impunity ; it nerer attempts to bite, and of many hundred 


individuals which I had an opportunity to observe alive, not a 
single one could be induced to inflict a wound. 

If we except Tasmania and the southern part of Victoria, we 
find the Green Tree Snake from north to south, and from east to 
west ; it frequents trees, feeds upon insects, frogs, lizards, small 
birds and birds' eggs, and grows to a considerable length, but 
seldom if ever exceeding 6 feet. 

I have reason to believe that the female is oviparous, laying 
about 20 or more eggs in November or December ; young indi- 
viduals differ considerably from the adult in colouring, being not 
of so bright a green ; and having a grey instead of a light yellow 
belly. The winter is generally passed under hollow logs or 
beneath flat stones in sunny but often damp localities. 


DIPSAS. Auct. 


The Brown Tree-Snake. 

Scales in 19 rows. 
Anal entire. 
Ventrals 236. 
Subcaudals 87/87. 

Form slender, body and tail compressed, elongate head much 
depressed, triangular, broad behind, very distinct from neck ; 
scales on the vertebral line much larger, regularly six-sided, 
vertical shield broad, occipitals obtuse behind, one loreal ; eight 
upper labials, the third and fourth and sometimes the fifth touching 
the orbit ; one anterior two posterior oculars ; eye large, pupil 
elliptical ; nostril moderate, between two shields ; posterior 
maxillary teeth longest and grooved. 

Above, light brown or reddish brown, with numerous black 
rather oblique, sometimes obsolete cross bands ; belly uniform 
salmon coloured. 

The present species has not been so much noticed in the 
neighbourhood of Sydney as the Green Tree-snake, but this may 


be owing to its nocturnal habits ; it is found along tbe East Coast, 
and ranges as far as Port Essington ; individuals observed in 
captivity appeared very gentle in disposition, and could be freely 
handled without showing any inclination to bite, they passed the 
day coiled up amongst the branches of trees, but became very 
active at night, noiselessly gliding through the foliage in search of 
their prey, which, as in the Green Tree snake, consists of birds, 
birds' eggs, insects, frogs, lizards, and the smaller mammalia. 

I am unable to state whether the female is oviparous or 
not; the number of young produced annually does probably not 
exceed 20. Total length of adult about 6 feet. 



Scales in 47 rows. 
Yentrals 276. 
Anal bifid. 
Subcaudals 80/80. 

Head shields small, scale-like ; three pairs of distinct frontal 
plates, vertical plate indistinct, rostral shield with a pit on each 
side, first and second upper labials pitted ; of the lower labials 
the first seven are smooth, then follow seven deeply pitted scales, 
and 3 or 4 smooth ones, nostrils lateral, in a single plate with a 
groove beneath ; eyes lateral; pupil elliptical, erect ; scales smooth; 
subcaudal plates in two rows, two spur-like appendages near the 

Coloration : 

Bluish black above, almost every scale with a yellowish (white 
in spirits) elongate spot in the centre ; there is a series of dark- 
edged irregular blotches upon the back, each bearing in the 
middle a few very bright yellow-colored scales ; these spots or 
blotches vary considerably in different individuals, specimens 
from Port Macquarie having almost the markings of the Carpet 
Snake, but still retaining the yellow spot in each scale, which in 


M. variegata is wanting. Some specimens occur with a pale 
yellow streak from the side of the head to the vent : in fact we 
very rarely find two of these snakes which do not differ con- 
siderably in their markings. 

The range of the Diamond Snake (M. spilotes) is restricted 
to a very limited area of country, being found in no other part 
of Australia than from Port Macquarie to Jervis Bay, or perhaps 
Cape Howe ; and from the coast to the western slopes of the 
Blue Mountains and the Liverpool Range. In the plains watered 
by the Lachlan, the Murray and the Murrumbidgee, the present 
species is not found, the Carpet Snake (Harelia variegata} taking 
its place there. 

The Diamond Snake is a common species in the county of 
Cumberland", in the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra district ; it 
is a harmless creature, which may be picked up by any body with- 
out ever offering to bite ; though it is a strictly nocturnal snake, 
individuals are nevertheless met with during the day-time, either 
basking in the sun and digesting their food, or, having been dis- 
turbed, in search of a place of shelter. Like the other species of 
the family Pythonida?, they prey upon birds, and the smaller 
species of Mammals ; young individuals feeding upon insects, 
frogs, or birds' eggs ; the female deposits 30 or more eggs in 
December or January, which in a month or two the sun brings to 
maturity. I am not aware that the mother cares any longer about 
her progeny, after laying the eggs ; and I have never seen or 
heard of a single instance where she coiled herself upon the 
eggs so deposited. 

Diamond Snakes are found in almost every kind of country 
as long as it offers sufficient shelter ; they prefer open stony 
ridges studded with low trees and well supplied with water, the 
edges of swamps and lagoons are frequented by them, as they 
find there a considerable supply of Water-rats (Hydromys) , young 
Ducks, and other water-fowl ; they also often visit the hen roosts 
of the farmer, or surprise " Opossums " (Phalangista) or " Flying 
Squirrels " (Petaurus), upon the branches of high Eucalypti. 

The largest specimen, to my knowledge, that has been cap- 
tured near Sydney, and properly measured, without being 
stretched, was 10 feet 3 inches long; that individuals of 11 


feet or more in length occur, I doubt not, though they are very 
rare indeed, and have never come under my notice. 

The way in which Diamond Snakes capture their prey is as 
follows : 

The snake suspends itself from the branch of some low bush 
or tree and watches for the victim, which often plays about near 
its unseen enemy. The reptile, with its neck and head bent 
into the form of an S, deliberately measures its distance, un- 
coiling more of its body if necessary, and often almost touch- 
ing the animal it is in wait for ; as soon as the snake is sure 
to reach its victim, it darts forward, generally catching the 
prey by one of the hind legs, and instantly takes a turn around 
its body, soon extinguishing life through its powerful pressure. 
As soon as the animal is quite dead, the process of swallowing 
begins, the snake always commencing with the head ; this 
done, the reptile will often for days together bask in the sun, 
until the food is so far digested as to impede its movements 
no longer. 

If a snake is disturbed during this state, it will almost always 
throw up the half digested carcass. 

In a state of nature they never touch any food except living 
animals. I once, however, observed a Diamond Snake, which was 
kept in a cage, swallow a rat which had been killed by a Brown - 
banded snake (Hoploceplialus curtus.) 

The present species is greatly infested by various kinds of 
Intestinal worms, including a Tape worm, clusters of which I 
have frequently taken from the stomach of this reptile. 

Before concluding, a few remarks will be necessary with re- 
gard to the Carpet Snake (Morelia variegata). 

There is very little, if any difference in the distribution and 
number of scales between the Diamond and Carpet Snakes, the only 
character in which both snakes vary, is the coloration ; the first 
having a yellow spot in the centre of each scale, whilst the latter 
has the back ornamented with numerous irregular black edged 
brown blotches ; the belly, as in the Diamond Snake, being yellowish. 
I have mentioned before the remarkable fact, that the Carpet 
Snake is found in every part of Australia, except the Coast 
District, say from Cape Howe to the Hastings, and about 100 miles 


inland ; at Port Macquarie both species occur, but at the Clarence 
River, according to Mr. James F. Wilcox, the Carpet Snake 
alone is found. Dr. J. E. Gray has indeed tried to distinguish 
the one from the other by the vertical plate, which he considers 
distinct in Morelia variegata, and indistinct in M. spilotes. But 
after examination of large numbers of both species, I do not 
think that the above is a character much to be relied upon, and 
I am led to believe that both Snakes are but varieties of the 
same species. 

There is, according to Dumeril and Bibron, the famous French 
Herpetologists, a second species of Snake of the Boa family to be 
found near Sydney, namely, 

The Bolyeria, D. 8f B. 


This, however, is not the case. I have hunted the country near 
Sydney for years, and have never come across a single snake of 
this description ; high rewards have been offered for it, with no 
better success, and no specimen ever existed in the Australian 
Museum. I have, however, lately purchased a snake which 
answers to the description given, and which was obtained at 
some of the islands near New Guinea. 



Snakes with an erect immoveable grooved or perforated 
fang in front of the maxillary. 

Gape of mouth forming a straight line. 

This suborder, if we include the genus Acanthophis with the 
first family, comprises the 

1. Elapidce or Elapides ; and the 

2. HydropMdce, or Sea-Snakes. 



Diemenia. Gray, 

Diemenia psammophis. Schleg. 

The Grey Snake. 

Scales in 15 rows. 
Anal bifid. 
Ventrals 177. 
Subcaudals 85/85. 

The present species has been described by Dr. Giinther as 
D. reticulata, under which name I have frequently alluded to it. 
It appears, however, that the snake to which Giinther refers in 
his Cat. of Colubrine Snakes, when quoting Schlegel's figure 
(AbMldungen Tab. 46, No. 14), is that author's D. psammopliis, 
which name has the priority, and ought to be adopted instead of, 
D. reticulata. The coloration is a uniform grey above, and 
greenish below, the central part of the ventrals being con- 
spicuously marked with green; tips of scales and skin between 
them, black ; and of tail, salmon .colour ; a yellowish dark 
edged streak crossing the rostral shield. The eye is encircled 
first by a black and then by a yellowish line, both ending in a 
point below the orbit. 

The present species is found in nearly every part of Australia, 
the extreme North and South excepted. I have taken it eight 
years ago on the Murray and Darling, and since then specimens 
have come to hand from Brisbane, Port Curtis, and Rock- 
hampton. All these snakes differ no more from those of Sydney 
than these do amongst themselves. Much dependence can 
never be placed upon coloration as a distinguishing character 
in snakes, as in this no two reptiles vary so much as a snake 
about to shed its skin differs from itself after this operation 
has been successfully performed. I believe the present species 
to be the most common in our neighbourhood. 

It frequents sandy localities, feeds on insects, small frogs, 
lizards, &c., and its bite does not cause any more irritation than 
the sting of a bee; from 15 to 20 eggs are deposited by the 


female under stones exposed to the sun, generally in the be- 
ginning of December, and perhaps earlier, as I have on more 
than one occasion taken the young snakes at the end of that 
month and in the beginning of January. This reptile is 
generally found from two to three feet in length, very rarely 
exceeding four feet. During the cold season the grey snake 
retires under flat stones exposed to the sun ; it very seldom, if ever, 
goes into the ground ; it is very sensitive to cold, and the least 
frost suffices to destroy it. I have found sometimes five and 
more of these reptiles under the same stone. 

Diemenia Superciliosa. Fischer. 
Ringed Diemenia. 

Scales in 17 rows near neck. 
Scales in 15 rows near tail. 
Subcaudals 73/73. 
Anal bifid. 
Ventrals 228. 

Superciliaries larger than vertical ; occipitals widely forked, 
rounded, broad ; rostral high, reaching to the surface of crown ; 
one nasal, one anterior, two posterior oculars ; superciliaries pro- 
minent above the eye ; anterior ocular grooved near the top ; pos- 
terior frontals much larger than the anterior ones, bent down on 
the sides and with nasal, anterior ocular, and second and third 
upper labial replacing the loreal ; belly flat. Dark brown above, a 
lighter band just crossing behind the occipitals ; side of face and 
chin much lighter than the other parts of the body ; belly yel- 
lowish, sides of ventrals and lower edge clouded with purple 
grey, forming a series of irregular blotches, each ventral 
with a distinct darkish streak on its lower edge. Half-grown and 
sometimes adult individuals show traces of from seventy to seventy- 
five black rings, which in the young snakes are very distinct. 
The following description is applicable to young specimens up to 
three years old :- 

Muzzle light brown ; a black triangular spot covering the re- 
gion between the eyes and the occiput as far as the hinder margin 


oftheoccipitals this streak is bent down on the sides of the face, 
and behind this dark spot is a white narrow streak and another 
broad dark band reaching down to the edge of the labial shields ; 
then follows again a white streak and a second black band, but 
much smaller than the previous one, and so alternately a broader 
brownish and a narrow black band to within an inch of the apical 
half of the tail ; the black bands are occasionally interrupted, 
leaving a blank on the other side of the body ; including these 
interrupted streaks, from seventy to eighty may be counted upon 
body and tail, seventy-five is the usual number. The belly in 
young and half-grown individuals is covered with yellowish spots, 
which at a more mature age form into the black blotches men- 
tioned in the description of the adult. 

The great difference in the coloration of young half-grown 
and adult individuals has given rise to a variety of names : for 
some time I tried in vain to reduce them, but at last succeeded 
by bringing together a complete series of this snake in various 
stages of growth, from the egg upwards. Dr. Albert Giinther 
to whom drawings as well as specimens in good preservation 
were submitted, states in a paper read before the Zoological 
Society of London, 

" The young specimens, then, found by Mr. Krefft, do not 
belong to Furina textilis, Dumeril and Bibron, which has three 
posterior oculars, but to Diemansia annulata, described by myself 
in ' Colubr. Snakes? p. 213. And the old individual sent by Mr. 
Krefft is identical with Pseudcelaps su/perciliosus, Fisch. Mr. 
Jan, of Milan, (who says that he has examined the Snakes of the 
Hamburg Museum) describes the adult Snake under two names, 
Pseudcelaps sordellii and Ps. hubinyi, the latter being founded 
upon an accidental variety, in which some of the head 
shields are confluent. The synonomy of this species therefore 
would be : 

Diemansia superciliosa. 

an Adult. 
1856. Pseudcelaps superciliosus. Fisher in Abhandl. Geb. 

Naturwiss. III., part 107., taf. 2 fig. 3. (head not quite 

correct) . 


1859. Pseudoelaps sordeUii. Jan in Rev. and Magaz. Zool. 

pi. C. (head). 

1859. Pseudcelaps kubinyi, Jan, 1. c. (founded on an accidental 
variety) C. (young). 

1858. Diemansia annulata, Giinth. Colubr. Snak., p. 2 B. 
1862. Furina textilis, Kreffb, Proc. Zool. Soc. p. 149." 

The geographical range of this species extends over almost 
every part of Australia, as I have seen specimens from Cape York, 
Adelaide, the Murray, and other localities. When full grown, 
this Snake may be dangerous to man ; in its habits it is diurnal, 
and found generally in rocky localities ; young Snakes are fre- 
quently found under stones during the cold season, while those of 
a more mature age retire into the ground. 

Brachysoma diadema. Gilnther. 
The Red-Capped Snake. 

Scales in 15 rows. 
Anal bifid. 
Ventrals 175. 
Subcaudals ? 

Body elongate and rounded ; head flat, distinct from neck ; 
muzzle broad and obtuse ; rostral high, slightly grooved, reaching 
to surface of crown ; one nasal pierced by the " large nostril ; 
anterior oculars triangular, posterior one much larger, five-sided 
and bent down on the sides ; occipitals moderate, rounded, 
scarcely forked behind ; 6 upper labials, the third and fourth 
forming the orbit ; eye small, pupil sub-elliptical, erect. Two 
temporal shields, the upper in contact with both post oculars, 
the lower much larger, wedged in between the last two labials. 

Above, purplish brown, each scale with yellow centre very 
distinct in the first 4 or 5 rows on each side ; head and neck 
black above, except a lunated spot just behind the occiput, which 
is brick-red, and turns white in spirits. 

Beneath yellowish, front of lower jaw with a black spot. 


" Upper jaw with grooved fang in front, separated from the other 
teeth by an interval ; an elongate series of six or seven teeth 
behind ; palatine teeth equal in length ; anterior teeth of lower 
jaw longest." (Giinther.) 

This very handsome little Snake is not uncommon near 
Sydney, though few people have ever seen it ; during the cold 
season I have met with specimens under thin flat stones at Manly ? 
Lane Cove, and other rocky localities ; before I had an oppor- 
tunity of proving its existence near Sydney, it had been known 
from "Western Australia and the North East coast only. 
This Snake is venomous, but never offers to bite, and may be 
handled with impunity ; it is oviparous, laying from 8 to 10 eggs. 
Its food consists, like that of other small species, in minute Blattee, 
young frogs of the genus Pseudopkryne, ants, ants' eggs, &c. 


Pseudechis porphyriacus. Shaw. 

The Black Snake. 

Scales in 17 rows. 
Anal bifid. 
Ventrals 180 to 200. 

Subcaudals 14, 41/41. Sometimes all subcaudals entire. 

This snake is so well known that but a short description of it 
will be necessary. Body elongate and rounded ; tail moderate, 
not distinct from trunk : head rather small, quadrangular with 
rounded muzzle ; shields of crown regular ; 2 nasals, no loreal ; 
one anterior and 2 posterior oculars ; scales smooth, imbricate, in 
1 7 rows ; anal bifid ; first subcaudals entire, hinder ones two- 
rowed ; in some individuals all the subcaudals are entire. Black 
above, each scale of the outer series, red at the base and black at 
the tip ; ventral shields with black posterior margins ; muzzle 
light brown ; ventral plates from 180 to 200. 

The Black Snake is, I believe, the most common of all our 
venomous snakes ; it frequents low marshy places, is fond of 
water, dives and swims well, and subsists principally upon frogs, 


lizards, insects, and the smaller mammalia, in particular the 
young of Hydromys leucogaster. On one occasion 16 young of 
this rat were taken out of a single Black Snake, so that the 
reptile must have plundered four rats' nests. 

When irritated the Black Snake raises about two feet of its 
body off the ground, flattens out the neck like a Cobra, and 
then darts at its prey or enemy. The bite of this snake is 
highly venomous, killing good sized dogs or goats within an 

The number of young brought forth in March generally 
amounts to 15 or 20. During the winter the Black Snake retires 
into the ground. 

I believe that the Black Snake is found in almost every part of 
Australia. On the Murray and farther north a Snake occurs 
which has generally been considered a variety of the Black Snake ; 
it is identical with it in almost every particular except colour, 
being brown instead of black, and orange beneath. Whether this 
is really a distinct species or merely a variety is not quite certain. 
Dr. Giinther has distinguished the brown variety, however, as 
P. australis, and I mention this as it is a belief with some people 
that the Brown Snake and the Black Snake are identical, and the 
coloration sexual. It is to be remembered that the Brown 
Snake of Sydney, (Diemenia supercilwsd) is generically distinct 
from the Black Snake. 


Hoplccephalus nigrescens* Gthr. 
Black-backed Hoplocephalus. 

Scales in 15 rows. 
Yentrals 173 to 176. 
Anal entire. 
Subcaudals 37. 

Scales in 15 rows, 6 upper labials, the second of which is 
pointed above, the third truncated. Uniform bluish grey or 
purple black above ; ventral shields whitish, blackish on the 


sides. Description : Body rather elongate, rounded ; tail 
somewhat short, not distinct from trunk ; head oblong, depressed, 
not distinct from neck ; eye small, pupil sub-elliptical. Rostral 
shield, very broad and low, and very obtuse superiorly ; anterior 
frontals moderate, broader than long, rounded in front ; posterior 
frontals rather large, five-sided, each with two hinder edges 
forming together a right angle ; vertical, six-sided, about as broad 
as long, with parallel outer edges, an obtuse angle in front, and a 
pointed one behind ; occipitals oblong, obtusely rounded behind ; 
superciliary moderate ; two posterior oculars, one anterior just 
reaching to the upper surface of the head ; the post fror tal, 
nasal, anteorbital and second upper labial meet at a point and 
replace the loreals ; six upper labials : the first is very low, 
situated below the nasal, the third and fourth enter the orbit ; 
front series of temporals formed by two shields, one of which 
is in contact with the post orbitals. Chin-shields of nearly 
equal size, several scales between the hinder chin-shields and the 
first ventral ; the median line of the upper part of the tail is 
occupied by a series of hexagonal scales ; a series of small teeth 
behind the grooved front tooth. 

The present species is subject to considerable variation 
of colours during the course of the year ; sometimes before 
changing its skin the back and head are of a leaden hue, 
and the ventral scales uniform whitish ; after the old skin has 
been cast off, the upper coat assumes a shining deep purple or 
bluish black ; the ventral scales are at this time rose-coloured, 
which hue is invariably lost in spirits. The ventral scales of 
many subjects examined I found clouded on the sides ; some- 
times the greater part of the scales, in particular those near the 
vent, were blackish, and the subcaudals entirely so. I believe 
that this is the only snake of the genus Hoplo cephalus in which 
the tongue is white. 

The rocky neighbourhood of Middle Harbour (Port Jackson) 
is the locality where I first found this new species, but since then 
specimens have been obtained from Port Macquarie and the 
Clarence River, which do not differ in colour from those inhabiting 
the neighbourhood of Sydney ; it is highly probable that the 
geographical distribution of this species extends still farther to 


the northward ; but, owing to its nocturnal habits, collectors 
will experience great difficulty in capturing it. 

During the cold season, from May to September, I have 
frequently found this Snake hybernating (if I may so express 
their dormant state) under loose flat stones, singly or in pairs, 
but never in company with other Ophidians ; and more than once 
a dozen specimens were the result of a day's hunting. 

It is very singular that no Snakes of this kind were ever met 
with between Sydney and Long-Bay, or towards the South-head, 
and I believe that they never frequented that district, otherwise 
the species would have been known long before this, as even 
White, in his Voyage to New South Wales, figures such rare 
Snakes as Vermicella annulata, and HoplocepJicdus variegatus. 

With regard to its habits, I may mention that it is strictly 
nocturnal, feeding on the smaller Batrachians, as Pseudophryne 
australis, and TTperoleia marmorata, specimens of which I have 
found in its stomach. It is rather sluggish in its disposition, 
and, though venomous, not dangerous to man or the larger 

The female produces about 20 young annually. 


Black-bellied Hoplocephalus. 

Scales in 17 rows. 
Ventrals 157. 
Anal bifid. 
Subcaudals 51. 

Body short and rounded; tail short, distinct from trunk; head 
triangular, distinct from neck : above brownish olive, head 
much lighter coloured, with a white-edged dark streak from 
behind the eye to the back of the neck. 

Description head shields regular ; vertical, six sided, with 
obtuse angle in front, and a sharp one behind ; superci- 
liaries rather large, nearly as long as the vertical occipitals ; much 
forked behind, sometimes angular, but more generally rounded ; 
nasal large, pierced by the nostril ; one anterior, two posterior 
oculars ; rostral high, with a groove along its lower edge ; six 



upper labials, third and fourth coming into the orbit ; a white or 
yellowish-edged dark streak from behind the eye to the back of 
the head, no collar ; eye moderate, pupil rather sub-elliptical ; in 
young individuals the pupil appears always quite rounded ; scales 
six-sided, much larger on the sides than upon the back; skin 
between the scales black. 

Young specimens have the whitish streak behind the eye 
very distinct and often extended on the other side as far as the 
nostril ; the apical half of the tail is either whitish or salmon- 
coloured below ; in other respects they do not differ from the 
adult in colour, except that the whitish hue on the sides of the 
neck is less distinct. In the adult subject the head is often much 
paler than the other part of the body, which is either olive brown 
or brownish black above, and bluish black or bluish grey below ; 
the fourth part of each ventral scale is clouded with grey on the 
sides, leaving a much darker band in the middle, which, approach- 
ing the neck, diminishes in size ; the sides of the neck below and 
the chin shields being of a yellowish hue. Individuals occur 
occasionally, which are almost black above ; others, particularly 
those about to shed their skin, appear pale brown above, and 
bluish grey below ; in removing any of the ventral plates, the 
skin below is always jet black. 


The present species abounds in sandy or swampy localities 
near Sydney ; the country between the City and Botany is much 
frequented by these snakes ; they appear to be nocturnal, and are 
seldom observed during the day-time ; they often prey upon each 
other, but generally upon the smaller Batrachians (Cystignathus 
and Pseudophryne) which I have frequently taken from 
their stomachs ; various kinds of insects, small lizards, &c. } 
are also devoured by them. The venom of this snake 
does not effect the larger vertebrated animals. I have at 
various times experimented upon cats and goats with it, but 
without a single fatal result ; in fact the animals bitten did not 
appear to be affected at all. 

Mrs. Edw. Forde of Ash Island, to whom I am greatly in- 
debted for much valuable information respecting the reptilian 
fauna of the Hunter River, informs me that Hoplocephalus 


signatus is the most common of the Snakes on Ash Island, and 
that it is frequently captured and carried about by domestic cats, 
generally at night, proving at once its nocturnal habits and the 
slight effect its venom has upon these animals. 

At Port Macquarie, this Snake occurs in large numbers, also 
at the Richmond and Clarence Rivers, but from beyond Brisbane 
I have never seen any specimens. I believe that it is also found 
in the neighbourhood of Melbourne. It is probably identical with 
Hoplocephalus flagellum (M'Coy) . 

The female produces from 15 to 25 young ones annually, 
total length 20 inches, tail 4 inches, cleft of mouth f of inch. 

Broad-Headed Snake. 

Scales in 21 rows. 
Anal entire. 
Ventrals 210. 
Subcaudals 45 to 50. 

Body and tail moderate ; head flat, broad behind, very distinct 
from neck, obtuse in front ; eye moderate, pupil sub-elliptical ; 
vertical shield rather small, six sided, frontals of nearly equal 
size, large posterior ones rounded behind ; occipitals regular, 
rather broad, forked ; large lower temporal shield wedged between 
fifth and sixth lower labial ; 6 lower labials, the last of which is 
the largest ; one large pre-ocular in conjunction with nasal ; an- 
terior, frontal and second upper labial replacing the loreal. 

Above black, irregularly spotted with yellow (white in spirits), 
forming a series of broad black blotches upon the back. 

Beneath shining greyish black, each ventral plate with a large 
yellow spot on each side ; first and second row of scales yellow, 
with here and there a black one intermixed ; all the light scales 
more or less shaded towards the point. 

We know little or nothing as regards the geographical dis- 
tribution of this reptile ; the few specimens in European collec- 
tions were obtained by Mons. Verreaux, near Sydney, and so 
rare has this snake always been that up to 1858 no specimen of 


it was to be found in the British Museum. Since then I have 
been able to collect several hundreds of these snakes, which are 
strictly nocturnal in their habits, and seldom if ever observed 
during the day time. They may be procured from under stones 
in sunny localities during the cold season, and all the stony ridges 
around Sydney have harboured them in large numbers. At the 
present time they begin to become scarce, many of their favourite 
haunts being invaded by the gardener or the builder. 

The bite of this snake is not sufficiently strong to endanger 
the life of man. I have been wounded by it several times, and 
experienced no bad symptoms beyond a slight headache ; the spot 
where the fang entered turning blue to about the size of a shilling, 
for a few days. 

Cats, dogs, and goats have been frequently experimented 
upon without any fatal result. 

In January or February the female produces from 15 to 20 
young ones, which, though only a few inches long, will show fight 
if one attempts to lift them ; the adults always look formidable if 

The snake which Schlegel describes as Naja bungaroides 
Abbildungen, Tab. 48, fig. 17 and 18, is nothing but a variety of 
the present species. The Australian Museum is in possession of 
a specimen from the Hastings, which is banded instead of having 
the irregular blotches of H. variegatus. 

The Brown-banded Snake. 
Scales in 18 rows anteriorly, and in 19 posteriorly. 

Yentrals 169. 
Subcaudals 44. 

Body rounded, rather depressed, tail moderate, not distinct 
from trunk ; head large, broad, very distinct from neck, crown 
flat, muzzle rounded ; superciliaries slightly prominent, and 
sometimes two grooves before the eye. All the shields of the 
head very broad, the vertical almost square, with an obtuse angle 
behind ; occipitals deeply forked, sides sometimes jagged, with a 



broad scale fitting the notch. Scales never in less than 18 
rows ; above olive brown with from 60> to 70 darker cross-bands, 
in some specimens the scales between the dark bands are an- 
teriorly edged with yellow, the two outer rows of scales yellowish, 
more or less clouded, but without any distinct spot in the centre 
of each scale as in H. superlus. Belly yellow, ventral plates 
frequently clouded or spotted with dark grey anteriorly, growing 
darker towards the tail ; the subcaudals, which are entire, being 
almost uniform blackish. 

The coloration of this snake varies considerably ; on the East 
Coast light-brown specimens are much more frequent than dark 
ones, whilst Western Australian snakes of this species are very 
dark-brown, and the cross-bands remarkably distinct. This 
reptile has been frequently alluded to by some authors as H. 
8uperbu8 y but I have always maintained that no continental species 
has ever been found with 15 rows of scales, and the vertical 
shield more than twice as long as broad ; the main characters 
by which the two snakes can easily^be distinguished. I am 
certain that more than 300 specimens have passed through my 
hands, and in not one instance did they answer to Dr. Gunther's 
description of H. superbus. 

I will give here the main points in which both Snakes differ : 

H. superbus. 
Scale* in 15 rows. 
Tail short, distinct from trunk. 
Head remarkably small, scarcely j 
distinct from trunk. 

Neck rather rounded. 

Scales of Head more or less elongate ; 

vertical, more than twice as long 

as broad. 

Coloration uniform brown, 2 outer 
rows of scales with reddish or 
yellow centre spot. 

Habitat Tasmania. 

Synonym Diamond Snake of the 

H. curtus. 

18 to 19 rows. 

Tail not distinct from trunk. 

Head very broad, as large again 
as H. Superbut, and distinct 
from neck. 

Neck very flat. 

Scales of Head very broad, in par- 
ticular the vertical, which with- 
out the anterior angle would 
form a square. 

Coloration brown banded, 2 outer 
rows of scales paler, or clouded 
with yellow and greyish. 

Habitat Australian continent. 

Synonyms Brown Banded Snake, 
N. 8. Wales ; Tiger Snake, Vic- 


I have had some correspondence with Dr. Albert Giinther 
regarding the habitat of the two Snakes, and I am glad to see 
the learned Doctor's statement in the Annals of Natural History 
for November, 1863, that " HoplocepUalus superbus proves to be 
a Tasmanian species." 

It would be interesting to know whether the Tasmanian Snake 
is able to inflate the skin of the neck when irritated, but judging 
from its small size this is not likely to be the case, and we must 
leave to Tasmaniau Naturalists the solution of this question. In 
the continental Snake the power to raise itself off the ground for 
half the length of the body, and to flatten out the neck like a 
Cobra, is well known, the Black Snake being the only other 
reptile which has been provided with the same power. A few 
words more and I have done with this, the most dangerous of all 
our Snakes. 

Its habitat is, I believe, the temperate part of Australia from 
East to West. I have taken it on the Murray, in South Australia 
and Victoria, and receive^ specimens from almost every part of 
New South Wales and from King George's Sound. The present 
species is not far removed from the Indian Cobra (Naja iripudians), 
and its bite is as deadly. A good sized dog bitten became para- 
lyzed within three minutes, and was dead in fifty minutes after- 
wards ; a goat died in thirty -five minutes ; another goat which 
escaped whilst experimented upon, was found dead in the 
street after a few hours ; a Dingo met the same fate in forty-eight 
minutes ; an Echidna (Echidna hysirix) lived six hours, and a 
Common Tortoise, an animal which will live a day with its head 
cut off, was dead in five hours after being bitten. 

Antidote vendors seeing the effect of the poison, never dared 
to peril their reputation in the attempt to save the animals so 
bitten ; I must mention, however, that in making these experiments* 
chance bites, where the snake makes a dart, bites, and retires, 
were out of the question, and I grant that under such conditions 
man or animal may recover ; but if the snake's head is applied 
to the lip or ear of some animal and the fangs well pressed into 
the wound, there is little hope of recovery. Let me also give a 
few words of advice to such men as go about exhibiting these 
reptiles, and showing their prowess by allowing themselves to be 


bitten, professing that they possess an antidote against the 
poison ; generally speaking, these persons are more or less 
impostors ; they break off the fangs of the snake, but do not know- 
bow soon they are reproduced, and thus frequently fall victims 
to their ignorance. The Indian jugglers have more sense, and 
entirely remove the teeth, as most of the specimens of Naja 
tripndians prove which are received from India. 

The young of this snake, from 15 to 20 in number, are 
generally observed about the end of February ; they are then 
from 7 to 8 inches long, and subsist on small frogs, lizards, or 
insects. During the cold season this snake retires into the 
ground, as I have never met with half-grown or adult specimens 
under stones. 



Red-bellied Si^e. 

Scales in 15 rows. 
Anal 1/1. 
Ventrals 187. 
Subcaudals 41,41. 

Purplish brown above, with a series of darker longitudinal 
lines along the upper part of the body, leaving a light elongate 
mark in the middle of each scale. Beneath yellow, bright red 
in adult specimens, each ventral plate clouded on the upper edge 
with purplish brown, much interrupted on the posterior part of 
the body. Divisional line of subcaudal plates marked in a 
similar manner, leaving the outer edges of the plates yellowish. 
Upper part of head purplish brown as far as the middle of 
posterior frontals, covering the vertical part of superciliaries, and 
reaching beyond the occipitals ; this elliptical spot is joined to 
the back by a narrow band of the same colour running along the 
median line of the neck. A light-greyish band encircles the 
dark-brown mark, divided by the narrow line by which this mark 
is joined to the back. Upper and lower labials dotted with 
brown spots. Body rounded, head rather flat, depressed ; tail 


short, distinct from trunk, and ending in a conical spine or nail 
about a quarter of an inch long. 

Scales in 15 rows (not in 13, as mentioned by Dr. Giinther, 
whose description as Diemenia cucullaia, was taken from a very 
bad specimen) ; 6 upper labials, the third and fourth forming the 
lower edge of the orbit, the second labial not in contact with the 
posterior frontal ; rostral broad, low, very obtuse superiorly ; 
shields of the head regular, all more or less rounded posteriorly, 
and slightly imbricate, vertical twice as long as broad ; one anterior 
and two posterior oculars, one temporal in contact with both 
oculars, four or five scale-like temporals behind ; eye very small, 
pupil elliptical and erect. 

About 3 years ago in 1860 I captured a single individual 
of this species ; since then, owing to the exertions of friends in 
the country, specimens from Ash Island, Hunter River, Port 
Macquarie, the Clarence River, and other localities have been 
received, so that its geographical range has been ascertained 
for many hundred miles ^jpng the east coast. This snake is 
strictly nocturnal in its habits, sluggish and of gentle disposition, 
never offering to bite when handled, and though venomous, it is 
so in a very slight degree only, as has been proved by experi- 
ments ; its length seldom, if ever, exceeds 20 inches. Rocky and 
desolate places are frequented by it, and in such localities it is 
occasionally found under fiat stones during the cold season. 



The Ringed Vermicella. 

Scales in 15 rows. 
Ventrals 225. 
Anal bifid. 
Subcaudals 18/18. 

The following is Dr. Giinther's description : "Body elongate, 
rounded, slightly compressed behind; tail very short; head 


moderate, not distinct from neck, similar to Elaps ; rostral 
shield very large, rounded, raised above the surface of snout ; 
occipitals rather narrow ; two posterior oculars ; anterior large, 
replacing the loreal together with the nasal ; hasal shield single, 
pierced in the centre by the small nostril ; six upper labials, 
third and fourth coming into the orbit ; one large temporal shield 
in contact with the upper posterior ocular, two smaller ones 
behind. Scales smooth, large, rather rounded behind, in fifteen 
rows. Anal and subcaudals bifid. Tail ending in an obtuse conical 
scale. Two small fangs in front of upper jaw, no other teeth 
behind ; palatine and mandibulary teeth equal in length. Crown 
of head and muzzle black ; a yellowish, in fresh specimens white, 
band across the posterior frontals, a second on the neck ; body 
and tail encircled by alternate black and white (in spirits) 
rings. Length of cleft of mouth y ; length of tail 1|" ; total 
length 28"." 

The ringed Yermicella, like all other nocturnal snakes, is 
very seldom met with, and apparently little known to the 
colonists. I often capture it during the cold season without 
taking any precaution whatever, as I know from experience that 
this gentle creature will never bite ; but even if it should do so, 
the wound would be small and of no danger whatever. I have 
never succeeded to make it bite of its own accord, but had to 
open its mouth forcibly if I wished to try an experiment. White, 
in his Voyage to New South Wales, gives a figure of this interest- 
ing snake, but little was known until a few years ago with respect 
to its geographical range. We find it as far south as Eden, Twofold 
Bay ; it occurs again in Western Australia, is tolerably common 
near Brisbane, and may probably be found much further north. 
Mr. William Taylor has lately presented a young specimen of 
this snake to the Museum, which was captured at the Culgoa 
River ; it is not unlikely that this species is found all over the 
continent from east to west. 

In its habits it is nocturnal, and closely allied to the genus 
Elaps, inhabiting South America ; in fact it bears, like our Bat- 
rachians, according to Giinther, a closer resemblance to the 
South American than to the Indian fauna. 




, The Death Adder. 

Scales in 21 rows. 
Ventrals 127. 
Anal entire. 
Subcaudals 42. 

Head large, depressed, broad behind, regularly shielded, no 
loreal, 2 nasals, nostrils between ; 8 rows of dorsal scales, keeled 
to the root of the tail ; grey, sometimes salmon coloured above, 
minutely punctulated ; back and tail with about 4 or 5 white 
spots speckled with pink, lower lip flesh coloured (white or yel- 
lowish white in spirits), with a pale black dot in the centre of 
each scale ; beneath salmon coloured (yellow in spirits) ; tail dis- 
tinct from trunk, short, thin, and ending in a recurved soft spine. 

The colour of the Death Adder is subject to a good deal of 
variation, northern specimens from Rockhampton and Port 
Denison have the dark cross-bands of the back considerably 
smaller than those from the neighbourhood of Sydney, and the 
markings in the centre of the upper and lower labials and chin 
shields are of a pale greyish hue in the former. Specimens of a 
copper-red colour, as occasionally occur near Richmond, Rand- 
wick, and Long Bay, have seldom come under my notice from 
other parts of the continent. 

Its habits and economy are tolerably well known. It is fond 
of warmth and sunshine, frequents sandy localities, is sluggish 
in its movements, and does not jump backwards if going to bite. 
When irritated this snake flattens itself out generally in the form 
of an S, turning round to one side or the other with astonishing 
rapidity, but never jumping at its enemy. As regards the sup- 
posed venomous sting in the tail, I can assure everybody inte- 
rested in this matter that the caudal appendage is a mere orna- 
ment, quite soft, which nobody could run into his finger 
if he tried, and I am astonished that the fables which igno- 
rance has circulated in a former and darker age, have not 
been exposed long before this. 

In April or May they go into winter quarters, having during 
the summer months accumulated a sufficient quantity of fat, to 


be under no farther necessity of catching frogs, grasshoppers, 
or field-mice during the next season. The burrow of some small 
rodent, or the hole furnished by a decayed root, is selected and 
taken possession of until the warm sunshine of spring recalls the 
sluggish reptile to fresh activity. 

I believe that the Death-adder is found in almost every 
part of Australia north of 36. The Australian Museum is in 
possession of specimens from many parts of New South Wales 
and from various localities in Queensland. The British Museum 
received this snake from Port Essington and the north-west 
coast, and I have taken it myself on the Murray and Darling. 
Its length seldom exceeds 30 inches. A very large specimen 
measured 2 feet 2 J inches to the vent, and 4| inches to the tail ; 
total, 2 feet 7 inches ; around the body, 6 inches. 




The Ringed Sea Snake. 

Scales (front part) 21 to 23 series. 
Ventrals from 213 to 241. 

Body subcylindrical, of moderate length, shields of the head 
subnormal in number and arrangement, nostrils lateral, in a single 
nasal shield, both nasals being separated from each other by a 
pair of anterior frontals. Scales imbricate, smooth, ventral shields 
well developed, tail with 2 series of subcaudals (Gthr.) 

Body covered with a series of black rings, 20 to 50 ; crown of 
the head black, the first and second black mark of the head and 
neck are joined below by a longitudinal band commencing from 
the chin ; snout and side of the head yellow, with a black band 
running through the eye (Gthr). 

This Snake is frequently thrown ashore after stormy weather 
near Manly Beach, Coogee Bay, Botany, and other localities. Its 
range is very extensive, and it is common in the Bay of Bengal, 
the China Seas, and on the Australian and New Zealand coast ; it 
lives on fishes, and is not much dreaded by the natives of the South 
Sea Islands who, I am told, handle this snake with impunity. 


Pelamis bicolor. Daud. 
The Black and Yellow Sea Snake. 

" Head long, with very long spatulate snout ; neck, rather 
stout ; body of moderate length ; nasal shields contiguous, 
longer than broad, pierced by the nostrils posteriorly ; only one 
pair of frontals ; scales not imbricate, not polished, tubercular or 
concave ; ventral shields none or very narrow ; lower jaw without 
notch in front ; 2 or 3 postorbitals ; neck surrounded by from 
45 to 51 longitudinate series of scales : from 378 to 440 scales 
in a lateral longitudinal series between the angle of the mouth 
and the vent." (Gunther.) The coloration of this snake varies 
considerably ; the most prevailing colour is, the upper part of the 
head and the back uniform black, the sides and belly uniform 
brownish olive or yellow, the latter colour predominating just 
after the snake has shed its skin. Both the black and yellow 
colours are sharply denned. Tail with a series of black spots. 
This snake, which occasionally occurs on our shores, has a wide 
range, and appears to be as common on the Indian Ocean as it is 
here. The coast of New Zealand may be taken as its most 
southern limit. Dr. Gray, speaking about the Hydrides in the 
Brit. Mus. Cat. of Snakes, remarks " that they are true Sea- 
Snakes ; that they coil themselves up on the shore, living on 
sea- weeds, and lay their eggs on the shore." This observation 
is not correct if applied to the present species, as I have more than 
once taken gravid females with from four to six well-developed 
young of such a size as are sometimes met with swimming about, 
and apparently a few days old only. That they live on sea-weed 
is doubtful also, for though I have dissected almost every specimen 
which has come into my hands, I have found nothing but fishes 
or the remnants of such in the stomach. 

These are all the specimens of Snakes observed near Sydney ; 
and as the country has been well searched for more than five 
years, it will be difficult to discover new species. 

" Geometrical Researches " in four papers, comprising numerous 
new theorems and porisms, and complete solutions to celebrated 
problems, by MARTIN GARDINER, C.E. 


1. If A, B, 0, be any three points, then by " angle O AB " 
we mean the angle formed by the revolution of a rigid straight 
line round O as centre from a position coincident with A to a 
position coincident with OB, the method of movement being such 
as to sweep direct across the straight line AB from A to B. 
And according as the revolution is right-handed or left-handed 
we say the angle is of right formation or of left formation. 

2. The " rotative " of a straight line A B in respect to a 
point O, is the method of rotatory movement of a rigid straight 
line round as centre when the movement is such as to sweep 
direct across the straight line from A to B. And according as the 
revolution is right-handed or left-handed we say that A B is of 
right rotative or left rotative in respect to O. 

3. By the rotative of a tangent drawn from a point to a curve, 
we mean its rotative in respect to the centre of the osculating 
circle at the point of contact of the tangent and curve. 

4. By the term n'gon, we mean a figure composed of n con- 
nected portions of straight lines which we can conceive to be 
formed by n successive movements of one point. 

5. The lines composing any n'gon are called sides and the 
first point of the 1 st side, and the final point of the n th side are 
called extremities. 

6. A closed n'gon has its extremities coincident ; and an open 
n'gon has its extremities distinct. 

7. When any n'gon is represented by means of the letters 
which indicate its first extremity and its various other angular 
points and last extremity written in successive order, we say it is 
of prescribed formation. 


8. If be a point, and A B a straight line : then by " rectare 
O'A B " we mean J A B sin (0 A B) in which the lines 
O A, B are regarded as of like signs, and in which account is 
taken of the formation of the angle A B. 

9. By the " rectare " of any closed n'gon A X A 2 . . . . A W A X we 
mean the sum of the n products. 

J O A 1 . O ' \ ' sin (0 AJ A 2 ) 
i OA 2 -OA 3 -sm(0 -A 2 A 3 ) 

I OA n - OAj-siii (0- A^Aj) 

in which is any fixed point in its plane, and in which all the 
straight lines issuing from are regarded as of like signs 

Ifgp The rectare of a closed n'gon of prescribed formation is 
constant in sign and magnitude. 

10. If S represents any straight line or plane, and that p 
represents any point ; then p, S represents the length of the 
perpendicular from^> on S. 

I think it proper to mention, that early in 1862 I forwarded 
enunciations of the theorems in papers 2 and 3, and some of 
those of paper 4 to the President of the Queen's College Galway, 
and to Professor Chasles. I sent also enunciations of the princi- 
pal porisms and theorems in papers 1 and 2 to Sir James Cockle, 
the Chief Justice of Queensland, immediately after his arrival in 
the Colony. 


PAPER No. 1. 

Researches concerning figures peculiarly derived from other figures 

[Read 9th July, 1862.] 

Given a closed n'gon A X A 2 ............. A W A X , to find the 

locus of a point O, such, that if we join the successive points 
Bj , B 2 , ..... B M , B X , of the feet of perpendiculars from it on the 

respective sides A^A^, A^ A^ , . . . . A n A I , of the given n'gon, 

then will the rectare of the new n'gon B X B 2 ---- B n B X , thus 

derived (which we will call the derived figure) be of a given 
magnitude, . 


Let a lt a 2 ,...., a n , be the centres of the circles circum- 
scribing the quadrilaterals 

Now, paying attention to the formations of magnitudes, and 
looking on the quadrilateral B n A X B X , we at once perceive that 
J rectare (OB^ +0^6^ = rectare (OB^) -rectare (a^B^Bj). 

And from the quadrilateral B X A 2 B 2 , we have 
f rectare (CKB^ + O'AgBg) = rectare (OB^)- rectare (a^BJ. 

And in the like manner we get the following equations from 
the other n 2 quadrilaterals : 

i rectare (CKB^ A, + OA n B n ) = rectare (OB^BJ- 

rectare (a n < B B _ 1 BJ. 

Therefore as the sum of the first sides of these n equations is 
obviously equal half the known rectare of the given n'gon 


Aj A 2 A M Aj , it follows that by putting 5" to represent the 

rectare of this %'gon, we will have f 2' = 2 rectare 
OY B W B I + a 2 'B 1 B 2 + .... + V B w -i B w ) ; and therefore 
rectare (^ - B M B I + ^ B 4 B 2 + + a w B^ BJ = 

s - i y. 

And since the squares of diameters of circles are four times the 
squares of the radii, it is evident this last equation may be written : 

(A 1 0)2.sin(a 1 -B M B 1 ) + (A 2 0) 2 .sin(a 2 -B 1 B 2 ) + + (A, 0)'. 

sin (a n ' B n _ x BJ = 8 2 - 4 J'. 

But if we assume any point p in the plane, and draw the 

perpendiculars p Cj , p C 2 , p C n , to the respective sides 

Aj A 2 , A 2 A g , A n Aj ; and that we find the centres 

c , c , c , c , of the circles which circumscribe the quadri- 
laterals p C n A 1 Cj , ^ C t A 2 C 2 , / C^^j A M C n : it is evident 

we have 

angle (^ B M B x ) = angle (c x C n 0^. 

angle (^ B x B a ) = angle (c a Cj O a ). 

angle (a, . B^ BJ = angle (c n - 0^ CJ. 

Hence it is obvious we may write the last general equation in 
in the form (\ O) 2 sin (^ C % C x ) + (A 2 O) 2 sin (c a ' C x 2 ) 
4- .... + (A n O) 2 . sin (C M . C^ C n ) = 8J - '. 

And from this we learn that the locus of the point O is a 
known circle. Moreover, it is evident (see Salmon's Conic 
Sections, pages 88 and 89) that if M indicates the centre of this 
circle, and that p 2 represents the square of its radius, then we can 
write the preceding equation under the form 

p* (sinc 1 .C |i 1 + sin V C i C 2 + 
+ (AjM) 2 . sin Cl . C n C x + (A 2 M) 2 . sin c g . Oj O 


It is also well to remember that the position of the centre 
M is independent of the value of % . 

1. If all the given straight lines forming the closed 
n'gon pass through one point, it is obvious the locus of O has 
this common point of intersection for centre. In this case 
3" = zero ; and, when the point of intersection is at infinity, 2 
has no real value but zero ; and, for such value of J, the 
problem is porismatic, for any straight line cutting the given 
ones perpendicularly may be regarded as belonging to an infinite 
circle whose centre is at the point of intersection. 

And when the first half of the closed n'gon A X A 2 . . . . A^ A 
is coincident with the second half (taken in order as indicated) 
then also 2' and ^ must be each = zero, and the locus of is 

2. If the closed n'gon be a triangle A A 2 A A X , then it is 
evident that for each of the angular points of the triangle, con- 
sidered as a position for O, we have 2 equal zero ; .*. it is 
obvious that for all values of 2 the centre of the locus must be 
coincident with the centre of the circle circumscribing the 
triangle. And putting R for the radius of the circle circumscrib- 
ing the triangle, we have the relation 

(p2 + R2 ) . ( sm - GI - C 3 Cj + sin c a ' C x C 2 + sin c,- C 2 C 3 ) = 8 ^ - 43" 5 

but B 2 (sin GI - C 3 Cj + sin c a C x C 2 + sin c s ' C 2 C 3 ) = - 2 S' 
:. p* (sin Cj- C 3 Cj + sin c a ' C x C 2 + sin c^ C 2 C 3 ) = 8 2 - 2' 
p z - R 2 45" 

and ' ~w ij> 

But if w-j, w 2 , m 3 , represent the feet of perpendiculars from the 
centre of the circumscribing circle on the sides A I A , A^ A 3 y 
A 3 Aj , of the triangle and that we put S" to represent the 
rectare of the triangle m l ^ 2 m 3 m^ , then ' = 4J", and 
therefore we have 

- R 2 


3. If the figure A^... -A^ is a complete regular polygon of 
n sides ; than the centre M of the locus of O is coincident with the 
centre of the circle which circumscribes the polygon. And if we 
represent the radius of the circumscribing circle by R, it is 
evident we can write the equation of the locus in the form 

n . sin ( - revolution) . p 2 + n . sin (- revolution) R 2 = 85* - 4^' 
in which the involved angle is of like formation with ^". 

From this we at once see that when n = 2, we must have 
85* = 45" ; and /. as % = zero, so also must 2 = zero. 

When n = 4, then we must have 8^ == 4^', or %' = 22 ; 
and the problem is porismatic. 

4. Again, since sin (| revolution) = i chord (^ revolution,) 
and that ^ chord ( revolution ) = perimeter of polygon of 
j sides ; therefore it is evident that n . sin (|- revolution) is equal 
to twice the perimeter of a polygon of -| sides. And /. it is 
evident that when A I A 2 . . . A^ A I is a regular polygon, and n = 

infinity, we have n- sin (- .re volution) = 4 TT = 4 (3 1416) 

and 4 TT . p 2 + 4 TT R 2 = 8 - 4^.' 
477.^ = 82 - 8^" 

7T.p 2 = 2 (S ~ 5') 

And, putting 2" to represent the rectare of the circle which con- 
stitutes the locus of O, we can write the last equation in the form 

5" = 22 - 22' 

When we suppose p = H, then the derived figure of the circle 
A I A 2 . . . A^ A I is a cardoid whose rectare is represented by 5*. 
and therefore, as in this case, the point O has the circle 
A A . . . . A M A as locus, we have 


5. It is evident we can investigate in like manner (and that 
the locus of will be a circle) when, instead of one closed n'gon> 
we are given any number of closed n'gons, and that the sum of 
the products of the rectares of their derived figures and given 
numbers of known signs, is to be of a given magnitude. 

And it is also evident the locus of is a circle when the sum 
of the products of the rectares of some of the derived figures and 
given numbers, has a given ratio to the sum of the products 
of given numbers and the rectares of the remaining derived 

6. Again (owing to the nature of the investigation, and to 
our knowledge of the relative properties of approximate figures) 
it is evident the principle of continuity justifies the extension of 
our results to the more comprehensive propositions in which given 
straight lines are replaced by curves of any kind whatever in a 
plane. And (remembering that the curvatures at points in curves 
are proportional to the angles between tangents at the extremities 
of equally long elements} we may announce the following important 
porisms : 


Given any lot of closed figures of prescribed formations in a plane, 
then will the locus of a point o be a determinable circle when the 
sum of the products of given numbers and the rectares of the derived 
figures of the lot in respect to this point is of a given or determinate 
magnitude %. And, for all values of %, the centre of the determin- 
ate circle (whose circumference is the locus of o) is a fixed point, 
with which the locus of o is coincident when 2 is a minimum, and 
which point is the mean centre of the curvatures when the given 
figures are closed curves and the given numbers all equal. 


Given a lot of closed figures of prescribed formations, and given 
also a second lot of closed figures of prescribed formations ; then will 
the locus of a point o be a determinable circle when the sum of the 
products of given numbers and the rectares of the derived figures of 
the first lot in respect to the point, has a given or determinable 


invariable ratio to the sum of the products of other given numbers 
and the rectares of the derived figures of the second lot in respect to 
this same point. 

7. These porisms give immediate intimation of numerous 
interesting theorems, of which the two following are ex- 
amples : 


The rectare of the derived figure of any conic in respect to any 
point in the circumference of a circle having the line joining the 
foci as diameter, is equal the rectare of the circle. 


If any number of conies have a common focus ; then will the 
locus of a point o be a determinable circle, passing through this 
focus, when the sum of the rectares of the derived figures of the 
conies in respect to the point o is equal to the sum of the like 
rectares of the circles having the transverse axes of the conies as 

8. In respect to the general problem, it is evident that when 
the given data is wholly or partly curve, the exact locus of 
cannot be (unless in some particular cases) obtained without the 
aid of the infinitesimal calculus. 

It is also obvious that in cases in which some points of the 
given data are at infinity, the co-ordinate methods will afford the 
best means of actual solution, though of course the principle of 
continuity justifies us in predicting the nature of the locus, even 
when the manner of approximating to its position (as indicated 
in our general investigation) may not be intelligible to our 
limited understanding. However, to clear all doubt on this 
point, we can easily find the equation of the locus of O 
without paying attention to the rectare of the given figure 
A I A a ....A n A l . 

This may be done in various ways, but the following is 
sufficient : 


Assuming rectangular axes of reference, let 
G 1 x + H x y + K L = 

H 2 y + ^ = 

G n * + H n ?/ -f K n = 0, 

be the equations of the n successive straight lines A^ K^ A g A 
...... A W A I? taken in order. Then putting x', y' t to represent 

the co-ordinates of any one of the positions of O, it is evident we 
can express the equations of perpendiculars from this point to the 
lines represented by the above equations, and that we can find 
the co-ordinates of the feet B , B 2 , . . . B , of these perpendiculars 
in terms of x', y', and known quantities. Hence it is obvious 
that if we indicate the co-ordinates of B , B 2 , ..... B W , by 

(*!> 2/1) > Ov y a ) (*V ^ ^ fche ec i uatio11 

then by substituting the values of x l y^ x^, y 2 , &c., implicating 
x'j y', and known quantities, we will have the equation of the 
Circle which is the locus of O. 

And by expressing the equations of the sides of the given 
figure A X A 2 . . . . A M Aj in terms of the co-ordinates of the points 
A I? A 2 , . . . A^, we can arrive at the theorems already found, but 
not so obviously as by the method already exposed. 

9. Theorems pertaining to all kinds of plane figures are very 
limited in number, owing no doubt to the bias for investigations 
concerning peculiar forms which the minds of geometers suffer 
in learning the science of geometry. 

When theorems of such a general nature are discovered they 
should not be passed unnoticed in elementary class-books ; for 
they show to us that in geometry (as in nature) we may have 
forms of the most irregular character adapted to fulfil definite 


relations in as complete a manner as forms definable by words 
or equations. 

In addition to the theorems given in the preceding investiga- 
tion, I would direct attention to the following general theorem. 


If a rigid tangent of fixed length perform (as tangent) a 
'movement round any given complete curvilinear plane figure so that 
the point of contact continues at the extremity of the tangent ; then 
if m denote the number of right loops, and n the number of left loops 
which constitute the given figure, the rectare of the track of the out- 
ward extremity of the tangent will differ from the rectare of the 
given figure by (m n) times the area of a circle having a radius 
equal in length to the tangent. 

NOTE. The porisms evolved in this paper cannot fail to be 
interesting to geometers who apply themselves to questions in 
Speculative Astronomy. 

PAPER No. 2. 

Researches concerning n'gons inscribed in other n'gons by 

[Read 9th July, 1862.] 

Given n straight lines L L , L 2 , ...... L^ and the like 

number of points o v o 2 , o n in a plane ; to describe a closed 

n'gon p l p 2 p n p^ which will have its points p v p 2 , .... jp w? 

on the straight lines L p L 2 , L M taken in order, and its 

successive sides p l p 2 , p 2 p 3 , P n P\ P ag sing in order through 

the n respective points o v o , .... o . 



1. If we assume any three points a lt b^ c^ in the line 
L , and that we draw the straight lines x o^ 6 X o^ c^ o l to 
cut L 2 in the points 2 , b 2 , c 2 ; then 

Similarly, if we draw a o. 6 o , c a o,, to cut L in points 

8 * * B Z o * 

a *> b 9 . c 9 ; and that we draw a o_, 6_ o,, C Q o,, to cut L in 


4 , 6 , c^ ; and that we proceed thus until a n o n , b n o , c o n , cut 
L X in a n 1? 6 n 1? C M x ; then evidently we have the following 
relations (each one of which is similar to the above) : 

n+1 n+l 

C n+l 

And from these n equations we at once derive the equation : 
^- : ~ = : * +1 : (!) 

n+l n+l 

From this we learn that p l is known (by the problem of 
" determinate section " of Apollonius, or because it is a double 
point of known homographic divisions on L X ) ; and therefore also 

Moreover, we learn that in the non-porismatic state of the 
data, there are two and but two positions for p v both real or 
both imaginary. 


2. When the data is so related that the points a n+l , & n+1 , w+1 
fall on the respective points a , Z^ , Cj ; then evidently the problem 
is porismatic ; for equation (1) assumes the form 

which holds when p^ has any position whatever in L X . 
Hence we may announce the following theorem : 


If there be n straight lines and n points in a plane, and that 
any three closed logons can be described, such that each one of them 
has its n angular points in the n respective lines, and its n sides 
passing in order through the n points, then ivill any point in any 
of the fixed lines be an answerable position for the prescribed 
angular point (resting on that line) of a closed u'gon fulfilling the 
like conditions with the three others. 

3. Theorem 1 will enable us to arrive at some interesting 
porisms and theorems. 

Firstly. Suppose we were given all the data but the two 
points o n _ 1 and o n , and that it is required to find such positions 
for these points as will render the problem porismatic. 

Here our object is to form 3 closed ft'gons ^ a ... a a v b 

^2 ' ' ' ^ n ^i' i C 2 * c n c 'i> ( su ^J ect to ^6 imposed conditions 
as respects the given data) whose sides a n __ J a^ b n _ l b n , c n _ l c^ 
will pass through one point, and whose sides a n a , b b , c c , will 
pass though another point : for these two points would evidently 
be answerable positions for c^__ and o n . If we take b 1 in the 
intersection of Lj and L W , we can find the corresponding point 
b on L . If we take a . in the intersection of L and L 

n 1 n 1 n 1 1 n t 

we can find the corresponding point a 1 on L r And if we take G I 
anywhere in L A , we can find the corresponding point c n _ 1 on the 


line L .. Now if we take any point in ^ b n _ l as a position for 
O M _ I , and that we draw o c n __ l to cnt L^ in c^ ; and then draw 
c c, to cut a a in o : it is evident o . and o so determined 

n 1 1 n 1 n * i *> 

are answerable positions : for we have the three closed w'gons, 

c n c i Dialling the 


Hence in the general states of the data, we have the following 
porism : 


If a closed n'gon have its n angular points on n given straight 
lines, and have its first n 2 sides passing through n 2 given 
points; then its n 1 th and upsides will cut two determinate 
straight lines XX, TY in points o n _ 1 and o n , such that if we look 
on these points a$ fixed, we can " deform" the n'gon so that its 
angular points will move along the n given straight lines, and its 
sides continue through the n fixed points. 

In respect to this porism it may be proper to observe that 
when the two lines L , and L are parallels (and therefore a 

n 1 n n1 

at infinity) and that a^ is at infinity on 1^, then the line a^ a^_ 1 
is at infinity ; and the point o n where G I c n cuts a l (^ n _ 1 is at in- 
finity ; and therefore the last sides of the w'gons (the sides 
through o ) must be all parallels to each other. And if L , L 

72 A ft fl 1* 

and L be parallels, and that a { is at infinity, then b l b n _ 1 and 
a a n _ l are at infinity ; and it is evident we can assume c^ any- 
where on L^, and that c n _ l c- n and c n c l will continue through o n _^ l 
and O M at infinity. 

4. We arrived at porism 1 under the hypotheses that L X , '^ n _ v 
and L do not intersect each other in one point ; and therefore it 
is necessary to inquire into the nature of the relations when these 
three lines pass through one point. 


When such is the case, it is evident the line b l 6 n _ 1 
(or XX) becomes co-incident with L MI , and that the line a 1 a- n _ l 
(or YY) becomes co-incident with 1^). 

It is also evident o % _ 1 can be taken anywhere in L n _ 1 ; and 
that o n can be taken anywhere in L r It is also evident the n th 
angular points of the %'gons are all co-incident in the common 
point of intersection of the lines L 1? L W _ I and L B . Moreover, 
we arrive at this under the hypotheses that all the given straight 
lines do not pass through one point. 

Hence we infer the following theorem : 


Given n straight lines L,, L 2 , L , of which the first, the 

n 1 th , and the n th pass through one point, the rest not all 
passing through this point ;. and given likewise n 2 point o v o 2 , 

w _ 2 > f a ser ws of n points : if positions for the n 1 th and 

n th points o % _ 1 and o n of the series be such that any point whatever 
in the line L is an answerable position for the first angular point of 
a closed tig on p 1 p 2 .... p M p 1? having its n angular points p p ... 
P M on the n respective lines L p L 2 , .... L M , and its n sides p p 
p 2 p 3 , . . . . p n p 1? passing in order through the n respective points 
o,, o , . . . . o , then will the points o , and o be situated in the 

1 2 n 7 * n 1 n 

given straight lines L W _ I , L /t , each in each respectively. 

5. When all the given straight lines L , L 2 , . . . . L , intersect 
in one point q, then it is obvious that the infinitely small %'gons 
a \ a 2 " a n i a n a i> & i ^2 ' ' ' ' ^n ^i are not Distinct, and that 
* i ^ M _i an( i a i a w _! (XX and YY) are not determined in position. 
In this case we may evidently assume o^_ 1 anywhere in the plane 
(because a^ <^ n _ l is not restricted in position) and find corres- 
ponding answerable positions for o in the intersection of the 
sides c 1 c n , d l d n , of any other two closed w'gons G I c 2 . . , . o n _ l 


c c,cJd c .....d , d cL. fulfilling the conditions (because the 

Tl 1 L t n 1 ft A * 

three ?&'gons including these two and the n'gon a^ a . . . 
& n \ fulfil the conditions). Moreover it is evident that if we 
draw any straight line XX through q ; then for all points o 
assumed in XX 3 the corresponding points o will be on a deter- 
minable straight line passing through q. 
Hence we have the following porism : 


If all the angular points of a closed n'gon move on n given straight 
lines meeting in a point q, and that all its sides but the n th pass 
through determinable fixed points ; then if the point through which 
the n 1 th side passes be situated on a known straight line passing 
through q, so will the point through which the n th side passes be on 
a determinable straight line passing through q. (See Mulcahy's 
" Modern Geometry," page 77.) 

6. If we have the n 2 given points o v o v .... o n _ 2 , in direc- 
tum with the intersection of L X and L n ; then (no matter how 
general otherwise the given lines may be) it is evident the straight 
line X X will pass through these n 2 given points ; and therefore 
o n _ 1 will be in directum with the n 2 given points. 

Hence we may announce the following porism : 


If all the angular points of a closed iCgon move on given straight 
lines, and all its sides, except one, pass through given points which 
lie in a straight line passing through the intersection of the lines on 
which the extremities of the free side move, then this side also passes 
through a fixed determinable point. (See Mulcahy's " Modern 
Geometry," page 77.) 

7. When the given points o 1 , o a , <? n _ 2 , are in one 

straight line, and that the three lines L J5 L n _ 1 , L n , pass through 
one point in this line ; then XX and YY are evidently both 
coincident with the straight line o v o 2 , .... o n _ o and we infer 
the following theorem : 



If a closed n'gon c c 2 .... c n Cj, ftowe its angular points 
Cj, c 2 , .... c <w n ^ecZ straight lines L J5 L g .... L^, of which 
any three L , L , L , taken in successive order meet in one point 
q : then o p o 2 , . . . . o being the n powts in which any straight line 
through this point q cuts the respective sides G I c 2 , c 2 c 3 , .... c n GJ 
o/ the n'gon, we can (if we conceive these points to become fixed) 
deform the n'gon, so that its sides will continue through these fixed 
points, and its angular points move on the fixed straight lines. 

8. If all the given straight lines but L pass through one 
point q ; then, from the general investigation, it is evident the 
straight line b b _, (or XX), is indeterminate, and may have 
any position we wish with respect to q. And it is also evident 
that by giving b l b n __ l any fixed position through q, then will 
b b be coincident therewith; and o and o will be in directum 

n 1 n n1 

with q. Hence we have the following porism : 


If all the sides of a closed n'gon c x c . . . . c c, pass through 
given points, and all its angular points except one c move on given 
straight lines meeting in a point q which is in directum with the 
points through which the sides containing the free angle pass; then 
the locus of tliis angular point c n is a determinable straight line. 

9. Secondly. When the data is all given but the straight 
lines L K _ I and L^ ; to find positions for these two lines so as to 
render the problem porismatic. 

Here, if we assume a, in the intersection of the lines o o 

nl n 

and Lp it is evident the corresponding point a _, must be on the 
line o o , and also on the line o a _ : and therefore it must 

2 n 2 

be (generally) their point of intersection. And it follows that 


any answerable straight line L must pass through the point of 

91 1 

intersection of the lines o , o and o _ a . 

n 1 n n 2 n2 

And if we take the point in which the straight line o n _ 1 o n _ 2 
cuts L _ as an angular point b _ of an answerable ft'gon, we 

71 4 o ir n 4 

can find the corresponding point b l in L r Moreover, it is evident 
that b n must be co-incident with the known intersection of o n _ 2 
o n _ 1 and & x o n ; and therefore any answerable straight line L n 
must pass through the point of intersection of the lines o n _ 2 o n _ 1 
and b 1 o n . Now let G I c a . . . . C B ^ be any other closed ^'gon, 
having its n sides passing in the prescribed manner through the 
n given points, and its first n 2 angular points c^ c g . . . . c n _ 2 
resting on the n 2 given lines L I} L 2 , .... L n _ 2 . 

It is evident that if we draw the two straight lines \_ 1 ^ n _ l 
and a n c n , and look on them as fixed, they will be answerable 
positions for L and L M , because the three closed w'gons a 1 2 

a n a v \~b^ b n b v C 1 C 2 c n i falfil tlie P rescribed 


Hence (in the general state of the data) we may announce 
the following 


If a closed rfgon have its n sides passing through n given points, 
and have its first n 2 angular points situated on n 2 given 
straight lines : two points can be found, such that if we draw a 
straight line from the first of these determined points through the 
n 1 th angular point of the n'gon, and that we draw another straight 
line from the second determined point through the n th angular point 
of the rfgon, and look on these drawn lines as fixed ; then we can 
deform the -rfgon so that its n sides will continue through the 
n given points, and its n angular points move along the n straight 
lines composed of the n 2 given ones, and the two determined 


10. If, in the investigation to the preceding porism, we 
consider the particular state of the data in which all the given 
points , o . . . . o are in one straight line, it is obvious that 
the intersection of the lines o . o and o a _ becomes in- 

n I n n 4 n a 

determinate, as also that of o n _i an( i \ o However, it is 
evident that if we fix on any point in the straight line o c> 2 ... , 
as the point through which L must pass, then there corres- 
ponds another point in the same line through which L must 
pass. And we have the following porism : 


If all the sides of a closed n'gon pass through given points 
which lie in one straight line, and that all its angular points 
except one move on given straight lines : then will the locus 
of the free angle be a determinable straight line (see Mulcahy's 
Geometry, page 75). 

11. Porisms 5 and can be easily derived from those which 
precede them by the usual method of reciprocation ; and other 
particular theorems and porisms can be deduced from these, 
&c. However, I will not enter more into details in the present 
paper, as my chief object is to get at the more general relations. 

12. Thirdly. Given all the data but the point o and the line L 
to find positions for these which will render the problem poris- 

Let a 1 a 2 a n _ l a^ and & x & 2 b n _ : b^ be the two 

known closed (n l)'gons, having their sides passing in the 
prescribed manner through the n 1 given points, and their 
angular points on the n 1 given straight lines. If we 
put b for the point in which the straight line & w _ 1 b 1 o n _ l cuts 
L/ n ; then evidently (p n having any position not in w _ 1 b^ f| _ 1 ) 
we must have b n coincident with 6 , or, in other words, we must 
have L passing through 6 , the first angular point of one of the 


known closed (11 l)'gons. And, putting a n the point in which 
the straight line a n _ 1 a 1 o n _ i cuts L n , it is evident that for the 
w'gon a l a 2 . . . o^ a n a^ we must have any answerable point o n 
situated on the straight line a an which is the last side of 

n 1 1 n 1 

the other known closed (?i l)'gon. 

And if Cj c a . . . . c e 1 be any closed rc'gon, having its first n 1 
sides passing through the n 1 given points, and having its first 
n 1 angular points on the n 1 given lines; it is evident that by 
drawing a straight line from b through c , and by producing c^ c^ 
to cut the line o n _ } ^ n _ l a 1 ; then will this point of intersection 
and the line b c n be answerable positions for o n and L^ : (because 
we have the three closed rz/'gons a l a .... a a 1? b 1 b^ . . . b n b^ 
i C 2 '" C n c i' ^filling the conditions). 

Hence the following porism : 


If a closed n'gon have its first n 1 angular points on n 1 
given straight lines, and its first n 1 sides passing through n 1 
given points : then tv:o straight lines and a point in each of tliem 
can be found, such that if from either one of these determined points 
(in a determined line) we draw a line L n through the n th angular 
point of the n'gon, and chat we produce the n th side of the n'gon 
to cut the other of the two determined lines in a point o n , and that 
we regard th& line L and point o n as fixed : we can deform, the n'gon 
so that its n sides v:ill continue through the n points composed of 
the n 1 given ones and, the determined one o , and its angular 
points move along the n straight lines composed of the n 1 given 
ones and the determined one L B . 

13. Be-considering the problem, it is evident we can use the 
following system of equations : 



And from these we at once obtain the equation : 

b 2l 

b n + l n 

bo a , o 

n n n+l n 

In the porismatic states of the data it is obvious the second 
side of this equation must = 1, since a l & & 1 must be 
coincidents with c^ & & . 

14. We may also remark that if a^ a^ w a x & l l & 2 

.... & 6 are two closed %'gons, and that o^ o , .... o the 
intersections of their pairs of sides (of their first sides ; of their 
second sides, &c.) are in one straight line ; then, drawing 
straight lines through r and 6 p through a^ and & a , &c., to cut 

the line o l o 2 o n ; it is evident the line Q I o 2 .... o n has 

coincident with it a third closed %'gon inscribed in the n lines 
&, &i> a o b^ &c. And therefore we must have : 

11 92 

n a i n 


\ ( \ | ' \ 2 ........ 6 1 Q \ = 

\ 6 l r & 22 ........ b n J ' 

And as the third or single-line closed n'gon can be substituted 
instead of either of these, we must have each of the two 
factors of the first side = 1. 


15. The problem can be investigated in the following 
manner : 

Looking on the four successive sides p l p_^ p 9 p s , p 3 p^ p^ p & 
let us see whether we could replace them by a less number of 
sides passing through determinable points, and having their inter- 
sections on determinable straight lines, and their extremities inp 1 
and p.. 

Let ij be the point of intersection of the straight lines o o g 
and o 3 . Then since o , o 2 , i , are in one straight line, it follows 
that the intersection T I of the straight lines o j p 2 and ^ p 3 is 
in a known straight line R r And since o 3 , o 4 , i^ are in one 
straight line, it follows that the intersection s l of the straight 
lines o p and ^ p 3 is in a known straight line S . 

Hence it is evident the solution of the problem is reduced to 
that of describing a closed (n l)'gon p l r l s l P 5 P 6 P n Pi, 

whose sides p l r v r { s^ s l p., p^p & p n p i pass through the 

n 1 known points o^ i^ o^ o g , o n , and whose angular 

points jp 1? r 1? 8 V p 5 , . . . . p will rest on the n 1 known straight 
lines L X , B , S 1? L 5 , .... L^. Similarly, by proceeding with the 
first four sides of this closed (n l)'gon as with those of the 
fz'gon, we can reduce the solution to that of describing a 
closed (n 2)'gon p l r 2 s 2 p Q . . . . p n p l whose sides pass in order 
through n 2 known points o^ i.^ o 5 . . . . o n , and whose angular 
points p^ r 2 , s 2 , p 6 . . . . p n rest on the n 2 known straight lines 
Lj, R 2 , S 2 , L 6 , . . . . L n . 

And thus, step by step, we can proceed until we make the 
solution of the problem depend on that of describing a triangle 

Pl V3 S -3^1 WhOSG SideS Pl r n-3' T n-3 S n-V S n_3 PI> wlU P 338 

through known points 1? * _g, o , and whose angular points 
Pv r n-3 s n-3 ? w ^^ rest on ^ nown straight lines L p B n _ 3 , S n _ 3> 


16. To arrive at porismatic relations of the data let us consider 
the question when we arrive at that point in the investigation 
where we have reduced the solution to the forming of a quadri- 
lateral p l r n _^ s n _ 4 p n p 1 whose sides pass in order through the 
known points o^ \_^ n _^ n -> and whose angular points rest in 
order on the known straight lines L p R n _ 4 , &_# ^V It is 
evident our method of investigation leaves the point o and the 
lines L^ 5 Lp unimplicated ; and therefore it follows that if we give 
such positions to these as will render the forming of the quadri- 
lateral porismatic, then will the problem of the forming of the 
w'gon p 1 p 2 " P n P 1 be porismatic. Now, if we assume any two 
positions for L I and L n which pass through q the point of inter- 
section of R , and S , then (by a well-known porism) we can 
find a position for o which will render the problem of the form- 
ing of the quadrilateral porismatic. 

Hence we may announce the following porism : 


If a closed rfgon have all its angular points Taut the 1 st and 
n 111 resting on given straight lines, and have all its sides 'but the 
II th passing through given points : a point q can be found, such 
that if we look on straight lines from it through the 1 st and n^ 
angular points as fixed, and that we deform the n'gon so that its 
n angular points will move along the n straight lines composed of 
the n 2 given ones and the two described ones, and so that its 
first n 1 sides continue through the n 1 given points, then will 
the n^or last side of the n'gon continue through a fixed determin- 

17. The problem can be investigated in the following manner : 
Suppose we draw the straight line Q x containing the inter- 
section of L I and L 2 , and that of L 3 and L 4 . And let q l be the 
point of intersection ofp 2 p 3 and Q^. 


Then since L X , L 2 , and Q l pass through one point, it follows 
(by a well-known porism) that p q l cuts the line o l o in a known 
point /-j. And since L 3 , L , and Qj pass through one point, it 
follows that p q cuts the line o., o in a known point . 

Hence evidently the solution of the problem is dependent on 
that of forming a closed (n l)'gon p n p^ .... p n p 1 whose 
successive sides pass through the n 1 known points r , ^, o 4 
. . . . o n , and whose angular points taken in order rest on n 1 
known straight lines L^, Q 1? L 4 , .... L n . 

And, proceeding with this closed (n l)'gon as we have done 
with the closed w'gon, we can reduce the solution of the problem 
to the forming of a closed (n 2)'gon p l q 2 p . .. . P n p^ whose 
sides pass in order through n 2 known points r g (in 
line s 1 r 1 ), s 2 (in line s l o^), o_, o g , ---- o^ and whose angular 
points rest in order on n 2 known straight lines L I} Q 2 , L gj 

And thus, step by step, we can proceed until we make the 
solution depend on that of forming a triangle p 1 q n _^ p n p v whose 
sides pass in order through three known points ^ n _3, s n _ 3 > n > an( ^ 
whose angular points rest in order on three known straight lines 

18. To arrive at porismatic relations, we will (as in last 
method) consider the question at that point in the investigation 
where we have reduced the solution of the problem to the forming 
of the quadrilateral p g n _ 4 p n _ l p n p^ having its angular points, 
taken in order, on known straight lines L I} Q n4 > ^ J n _ 1 > ^ 
and its successive sides passing through four known points r^ ^ 
s ,o , o . For, as the method leaves the points 0,0 , and 

n 4 n 1 n n - 1 

the line L unimplicated, it follows that if we give these such 


positions as will render the quadrilateral porismatic, then will the 
problem of the forming of the complete %'gon be porismatic. 

But it is evident (from a well known porism) that if we 
assume any two points in the straight line r n _ 4 * n _ 4 as positions 
for o , and o , then we can find a position for L so as to render 

1 n' n 

the problem of the forming of the quadrilateral porismatic. 
Hence we may announce the following porism : 


If a closed n'gon have its first n 2 sides passing through n 2 
given points, and have its first n 1 angular points resting on n 1 
given straight lines : a straight line can be found, such that if we 
look on the two points in which it is cut by the two last sides of the 
j^gon as fixed, and that we deform the n'gon so that its sides will 
continue tlirougli the n points composed of the n 2 given ones and 
the two determined ones, and that its first n 1 angular points move 
on the n 1 given straight lines, then will the locus of the n th angular 
point of the n'gon be a determinate straight line. 

This porism is evidently derivable from Porism 8 by 
reciprocation : 

19. It is evident from the properties of homographic pencils 
and divisions (see Chasles' " Geometric Superieure "), that we 
can solve the more extended problem, in which all or any 
number of the entities o 1 , o a , .... o n may be replaced by conies 
to be touched by sides of the closed w'gon, provided these 
conies touch the respective pairs of given straight lines on 
which the extremities of the touching sides are to rest. And all 
the data but the conic o n being given, the method of finding this 
conic so as to render the problem porismatic is evident. 

And if instead of requiring all the angular points of the 
closed %'gons to rest on straight lines, we were to have all or 
any number of them rest in given circles, or other given conies 
passing through the pairs of given points through which the sides 
of the w'gon forming such angular points pass, then also we 
can solve. 


The numerous problems which may be formed by di- 
versifying the data give rise to porisms which may be easily 
evolved. I will not enter on their investigation in this paper ; 
but the following porism, comprising a multitude of particular 
cases, can be easily deduced : 


If there be a closed n'gon, having its 1 st and n 1 th angular 
points resting on given straight lines L I? L n _ 1} and that the 
nature of the conditions imposed on the n 2 first sides and angles 
be such that by forming the open (n %ygo-ns according to these 
conditions, we shall have the given straight lines Lj and L n _ 1 , 
divided homographically by their extremities : two straight lines 
XX, YY, can (generally) be found, such that if we look on the 
points o and o in which they are cut by the n 1 th and n* sides 
of the closed tigon as fixed points, and that we " deform " this u'gon 
so that its sides and angles continue subject to the imposed con- 
ditions, and that its n 1 th and n* sides continue through, the deter- 
mined points o and o , then ivill the n th angular point of the 
n'gon describe a determinable circle passing through o , and o 

tt 1 

(see Porism X. in Transactions of the Royal Society of Victoria 
for 1859). 

20. From the well-known properties of three pairs of points 
in one straight line, which are in involution (see " Geometrie 
Superieure " ) we infer the following theorem : 


If we can form one closed 2 n'gon whose first n sides and whose 
second n sides pass successively through n fixed points taken in 
prescribed order, and whose first n angular points rest in succession 
on n given straight lines taken in prescribed order : then any point 
whatever in any of the lines is an answerable position for an angular 
point of a like closed 2 n'gon ; or which amounts to the same we can 
deform the 2 rigon subject to the imposed conditions, so that its angular 
points will move along the n straight lines. 


21. The problem solved at the commencement of this paper 
may be regarded as strictly analogous to the following one : 

" Given a system of n straight lines L I? L* 2 , .... L n in space, 
and given also a second system of n straight lines K 1? K 2 , .... K^ 
in space ; through the lines of the second system taken in order 
to draw n planes forming a closed planes n'gon whose n angular 
joints will rest on the n lines of the first system taken in order." 

To those who understand the homographic theory (and 
possess the ability to conjure up figures in the air) the method of 
solution is obvious ; and the following theorems and porisms are 
evident consequences. 


If we can form three closed planes w'gons, such that the n 
planes of each contain n fixed straight lines in space (each plane 
containing a certain line), and the n joints rest on n other fixed 
straight lines in space ; then will any point whatever in any 
straight line of the second system of n lines be an answerable 
position for an angular point of a closed planes n'gon fulfilling 
the like conditions. 


If we can form one closed planes 2 w'gon, whose first n 
planes and whose second n planes contain n fixed straight lines 
(in space) taken in prescribed order, and whose first n angular 
joints and second n angular joints rest on n other fixed straight 
lines taken in prescribed order ; then we can deform this planes 
2 Ti'gon so that its sides will contain the straight lines of the first 
system, and its angular joints move along the straight lines of 
the second system. 


Given a system of n straight lines in space, and given the first 
n 2 straight lines <>f a second system of n straight lines in space : 

Innumerable straight lines (contained in the surface of a deter- 
minable hyperboloid of one sheet) can be found, such that if we chose 
any two of them, and draw a plane through each, we can find two 


points R and S, one in each plane, and through these points draw 
innumerable pairs of corresponding straight lines (the line through 
each point being in the plane in which the point lies), such that if we 
chose any pair of the corresponding lines as the n 1 th and n th straight 
lines of Hie second system, ive shall render porismatic the problem of 
the construction of the closed planes ri'gon, whose n planes contain 
the n lines of the second system, and whose n angular joints rest on 
the n lines of the first system. 


Given the first n 1 of a system of n straight lines in space, 
and given also the first n 1 of a second system ofn straight lines 
in space : 

If a closed planes n'gon have its first n 1 angular joints on 
the respective n 1 lines of the first system, and its n 1 
first planes containing the respective n 1 lines of the second 
system ; two straight lines and a point in each can be found, such 
that if from either of these two points we draw any staight line L 
through the n th angular joint of the n'gon, and that through the 
point where the other found line pierces the -D^ plane of the n'gon, we 
draw any line K in that plane ; then by taking the lines L and K 
as fixed n" 1 lines of the first and second systems, we can deform the 
rigon so that its n planes will continue to contain the n straight lines 
of the second system, and its angular joints move on the n straight 
lines of the first system. Moreover, we can give any position to K , 
and find innumerable corresponding ansiverable positions for L fall 
in the surface of a determinable hyperboloid of one sheet.} 

The following theorems are also obvious consequences from the 
theory of homographic figures : 


If there be three distinct closed straight line w'gons having 
their first angular points in one straight line xx, each ?i'gon of 
which has its sides passing through n fixed points, and its angular 
points in n fixed planes ; then will any point in the straight line 
xx be an answerable position for the first angular point of another 
such closed w'gon, and any other point in the plane containing xx 


will be an answerable position for the first angular point of a 
straight line closed 2 w'gon, whose two successive series of n sides 
will pass in order through the n fixed points, and whose two 
successive series of angular points will be situated in the n fixed 
planes. And, reciprocally, if we can form one closed 2 w'gon 
having its first n sides distinct from its second n sides, &c. 


If there be 4 closed straight line rc'gons, each one of which 
has its sides passing in order through n . fixed points, and its 
n angular points resting on n fixed planes, and that the first 
angular points (all in one plane P) of these closed w'gons are not 
all in one straight line ; then will any point in the plane P be an 
answerable position for the first angular point of another such 
closed tt'gon. 


The principal porisms (concerning plane straight line ^'gons) 
envolved in this paper contain as particular cases all those of a 
kindred nature, said to have been comprised in the writings of the 
ancient Greek Geometers. 

They contain also as particular cases all those concerning poly- 
gons which are given in the works of Professors Simsoii, Mulcahy 
and Chasles. 

PAPER No. 3. 

Researches concerning n'gons inscribed in curves of the second 

degree, by 


1. Let S represent any fixed curve of the second degree ; and 

let o 1? o g , o n represent n fixed points of a series, which, taken 

in order, may be designated the 1 st , 2 nd , 3 rd , and n m points 



Suppose fll a a n+1 , ^ 6, i^, ^ c 2 .... CR+I , ^ <* a .... 

r/ &c., to be inscribed ft'gons, the successive sides of each of 
which pass in order through the n points of the series. 

If we regard the point o l and its polar as vertex and axis to 
homologic figures whose homological ratio is 1, and that we 
look on the points a^ b^ c v d^ &c., as belonging to one figure, 
then will 2 , b^ c g , d^ &c., be the corresponding points in the 
other figure. 

Similarly, if we regard the point o 2 and its polar as vertex and 
axis to homologic figures whose homological ratio is 1, and 
that we look on the points 2 , b^, c y d^ &c., as belonging to one 
figure, then will 3 , b^, c 3 , d^ &c., be corresponding points in the 
other figure. 

We may thus proceed from the extremities of sides of the 
n'gons of like subscript numbers to those of higher subscripts 
until we arrive at the final extremities of the n'gons. And as 
homologic figures are homographic, and that figures homo- 
graphic with any figure are homographic with each other, there- 
fore it is evident the first points a^ b^ c v d^ &c., of the inscribed 
w'gons, and their final points n+1 , & n+1 , C B+I , &c., are correspond- 
ing points of homographic figures. Moreover, it is evident that 
the tangents to the cnrve S, at the corresponding points of these 
homographiclfigures, are corresponding lines of the figures. 

2. By indicating tangents to the curve by capital letters of 
like names and subscripts to the small letters indicating the 
points of contact, we at once infer the following important 
theorem : 

If in a curve of the second degree there be three n'gons a 1 a 2 

S that th * D 


successive sides of each pass in order through n fixed points o v o 2 , 
.... o n ; then, d l d 2 .... d.^ representing an inscribed rigon ivhose 
sides pass in like manner through the fixed points., and which 
we may conceive to be deformed so as to assume the 
position of all the rigons which can be so inscribed., we will have 

3. We know that the first extremities of the inscribed n'gons 
are corresponding points to their last extremities in a pair of 
homographic figures. We know also that according as these 
homographic figures are homologic or not homologic so according- 
ly will the closing chords of the w'gons all pass through one point 
or be tangents to a conic T having double contact with S, (in the 
points which are answerable positions for first extremities of 
inscribable closed w'gons whose sides pass in order through the 
given points) and of like or unlike rotatives, (reckoning from the 
final extremities of the n'gons) just according as the final ex- 
tremities of the ^'gons are on the same side or on opposite sides 
of the line of contact of the conies T and S. But, when we can 
interchange the distinct extremities of one of the inscribable 
w'gons, we know that the figures are homologic. Hence we 
have the following theorems : 


If in a curve of the second degree there can be one inscribed 
closed 2 rtgon ivhose two successive series of n sides pass in order 
through n. fixed points, and are not co-incident ; then will any point 
in the curve be an answerable position for the first extremity of 
another inscribable closed 2 rigon whose sides will pass in like order 
through the *& fixed points. 

And the closing chords of the inscribable rigons the sides of each 
of which pass in order through the n fixed points will all pass 
through one point, whose polar cuts the curve in the answerable 
positions for first extremities of inscribable closed rigons whose sides 
pass in order through the points. 



If in a conic S there can be inscribed one open 2 n'gon whose 
first n sides and whose second n sides pass in order through n fixed 
points, then will the closing chords of all the inscribable logons whose 
sides %)ass in order through the n fixed points be tangents to a conic 
T having double contact with the given conic S, and they will be of 
Hike or unlike rotatives in respect to T (reckoning from the final 
extremities of the logons J just according as the final extremities of 
the logons are on the same side or on opposite sides of the line 
of contact. 


If there be a curve of the second degree and a series of n points 
and that the problem of the inscription of closed n'gons the sides of 
each of ivhich pass in order through the n points is non-porismatic, 
there are two and but two answerable positions for the first extremi- 
ties of such closed rigons. 


If three closed n'gons be inscribable in a curve of the second 
degree so that the sides of each pass in order through n fixed points 
of a series of n points ; then will any point in the curve be an 
answerable position for the first extremity of an inscribable closed 
utgon whose sides pass in like manner through the n points. 

This theorem is otherwise evident from the well-known 
relations of homographic divisions in a conic. It can also be 
easily deduced from the formula of theorem 1 by supposing a ^ 
I , and C M , to be co-incident with a^ b^ and c^ respectively. 

For as 

= 1, and that -- : -- = 1 

it would follow that if d l and d be supposed distinct, the chord 
f/ x d . l should pass through the points of intersection of Aj with 
B, and 0, 


4. If o . j be any point in the straight line containing the 
first extremities a l and b l of the two inscribable closed fi'gons, 
whose sides pass in order through the n fixed points o^ o 2 , .... o n 
of a series of ^points, it is evident^ a^ ... a n a l b l b^ ... b n b l a 1 
is a closed 2 (n -+- 1) 'gon whose two series of n + 1 successive 
sides pass in order through the n + 1 points o^ o a , .... o n , o l 

Moreover, it is evident (by making a 1 the first point of an 
inscribed 2 (n -f- 1) 'gen) that if the point o 1 be such as to 
render any point in the curve answerable for the first point of an 
inscribable closed 2 (n + l)'gon whose sides pass in the prescrib- 
ed manner through the n -f 1 points o^ o 2 o n , o. l9 then will 

, i be situated in the straight line containing a^ and b^ Hence 
we infer the following theorems : 


If in a curve of the second degree we inscribe any three distinct 
tigons^ e 2 ...e^, ^ f a . . . . f i+1 , g 1 g 2 .... g n+1 , the sides of each 
of ivhich pass in order through n given points ; then will the three 
pairs of straight lines GI f n+1 , f x e i+1 and G L g n+1 , g L e n+1 and 
f, g , ,, g, f , ., cw# eacA other in three points in the straight line ivhich 
contains the first points of the two inscribable closed logons whose 
sides pass in order through the n 

This theorem is otherwise evident, since homographic 
pencils having a common vertex in a conic, are such that by 
taking any two pairs of the corresponding radiants and coupling 
them transversly they will form an involution with the double 
radiants of the pencils. 


Any point in the straight line containing the first points of the 
two closed (n 1) 'gons inscriptible in a curve of the second degree 
so that the sides of each pass in order through n 1 fixed points, 
will be an answerable position for the n th point of the series so as to 


render any point in the curve an answerable position for the first 
extremity of an inscribable closed 2 n'gon whose two successive series 
of u sides w ill pass in order through the n points. And no point 
outside the straight line containing the first extremities of the two 
closed (n \) 'gons will possess this property. 

5. If we have a curve of the second degree and the first 
n 2 points of a series of n points, and that we assume the 
n 1 th point Off^i anywhere in the straight line containing the 
first extremities p l and q l of the inscribable closed (w 2) 
'gons whose sides pass in order through the n 2 given points 
and that we assume the n th point o n co-incident with the pole of 
the straight line containing the first extremities of the inscribable 
closed (11 1) 'gons whose sides pass in order through the n 1 
points Op o 2 , .... o n _ 2 , A _ 1 > it is obvious from theorems 6 and 2 
that any point in the curve is an answerable position for the 
first extremity of an inscribable closed w'gon whose sides pass in 
order through the n points of the series. Moreover, it is evident 
(by considering p 1 or q l as first points of inscribable w'gons) the 
w th point o n lies in the line p l q 1 o n _ r Hence 


If any closed n'gon inscribed in a a curve of the second degree 
have its first n 2 sides passing in order through n 2 given 
points ; then a straight line xx can be found such that if we look on 
the points in which it is cut by the n 1 th and n th sides of the rigon 
as fixed i we can deform the n'gon so that its angular points ivill 
move along the curve and its n sides continue through the n fixed 
points composed of the n 2 given ones and the two determined 

HHJ^ In respect to this porism it is well to remember that the 
straight line xx cuts the given curve in the answerable positions 
(real or imaginary) for the first extremities of the inscribable 
closed (n 2) 'gons, the sides of each of which pass in order 
through the n 2 given points. And when the problem of the 
inscription of the closed (n 2) 'gons is porismatic, then o 
and o must be coincident though otherwise unrestricted in the 



6 If we have a conic and any even number of points in one 
straight line, it is evident the points in which this line cuts the 
conic, are answerable positions for first angular points of inscrib- 
able closed n'gons, whose sides pass in order through the n points. 

Hence from porism 1, we infer the following theorem : 

THEOREM 8. any even number, and that in a conic there be inscribed a 
closed iigon having n 1 of its sides passing through n 1 fixed 
points in one straight line; then will the remaining side pass through 
a point in the same line, such that if we suppose it fixed, we can de- 
form the closed rigon so that its angular points will move along the 
curve, and its n sides continue through the n fixed points. 

And from theorem 2 or 7, we at once infer the following 


If n be any odd number, and that in a conic there be inscribed 
any closed 2 rigon such that n 1 pairs of its opposite sides cut each 
other in n 1 points situated in one straight line, then will the re- 
maining pair of opposite sides cut each other in a point of this same 
straight line. 

The particular case in which n = 3 is identical with 
Pascal's famous theorem concerning an inscribed hexagon. 

7. In applying theorem 6 to the finding of the first angular 
points of the inscribable closed 1'gons, the side of each of which 
must pass through a given point o^ we immediately perceive that 
the polar of the point o j cuts the curve in the answerable 
positions for these angular points. And from this, and porism 1, 
we have 


If we have a conic and three points, each point of which is the 
pole of the straight line containing the other two ; then will any 
point in the conic be an answerable position for the first angular 
point of an inscribable closed Qgon whose sides pass through the 
three points taken in any order whatever. 


8. The theorem inverse to that made use of in establishing 
theorem 8 may be enunciated in the following manner : 


If two conies, S and T, have double contact (real or imaginary), 
and that from any four points in the conic S there be drawn tangents 
to the conic T of like or opposite rotatives just according as the points 
lie on the same side or on opposite sides of the straight line (always 
real) containing the points of contact of the conies : then will the 
anhannonic ratio of the four points whence the tangents are drawn 
be equal to the anharmonic ratio of the four points in which the 
tangents touch the conic T, and also to the anharmonic ratio of the 
other four points in which these tangents again cut the conic S. 

This theorem is given in a very imperfect form in Chasles' 
" Geometrie Superieure," and also in Salmon's " Conies" where 
its discovery is said to be due to Mr. Townsend, of Trinity 
College, Dublin. The CORRECT THEOREM is now given for the 
first time. 

9. It is evident, from this theorem, and from the preceding 
portions of the paper, we can form theorems in respect to 
extended data, analogous to those arrived at. I will give the 
following one as an instance : 


If the n angular points of a closed n'gon rest on a curve S of the 
second degree, and that its first n 1 sides pass through n 1 
points, or that all or any number of them, not passing through fixed 
points, are tangents of certain prescribable rotatives to fixed conies 
having double contacts with S ; then if we deform the Tig on subject 
to these imposed conditions, the envelope of the n^ side will be a conic 
having double contact with S, or it will be a determinate point, just 
according to the possibility of inscribing in S an open 2 (n 1) 
'gon or a closed 2 (n 1)V OW whose two successive series of n 
sides are distinct and meet in orderly succession with the n 1 
entities in the manner prescribed for the closed rigons. 



10. Given a conic and a series of n points o 1 , o^ o n ; to 

inscribe the closed rc'gons, in the conic, the sides of each of which 
will pass in order through the points. 

Now it is evident that if we can find the answerable positions 
for the first angular points of the closed rc'gons our object will 
be attained. 

First method of solution. 

If n be an odd number, it is obvious from theorem 10 that we 
can replace the point o and the side of any of the closed w'gons 
which passes through it by two other points and two chords 
cutting each other in the curve and passing through the deter- 
mined points and the extremities of the side which passed 
through o . Hence we may consider n to be an even number. 

/sis. Let a l a^ a^ a l be one of the inscribed closed 

ft'gons whose sides pass in order through the n points o > o ... o 

Looking on the first four sides of this w'gon, let us designate 
by i l the intersection of the lines o 1 o^ and o^ o^ ; and let b l be 
the point in which ^ a^ again cuts the conic. Then, a a a b a 
being an inscribed 4'gon, it is evident from theorem. 8, that the 
point r^ in which a^ b l cuts the line o l o 2 i^ is known. And, since 
3 4 5 b 3 is an inscribed 4'gon, and that o o i are in one 
line, therefore the point ^ in which the line a g ^ cuts the line 
3 4 *i * s known. Hence we perceive that the inscription of the 
closed n'gons is reduced to that of the inscription of the closed 
(n 2)'gons a^ b 5 .... w a l whose sides pass in order through 
the n 2 known points r^ s^ o^ .... o n . 

And thus, step by step, we can reduce the number of sides 
repeatedly by two until we arrive at a closed 4'gon a l b^^ a n _ 1 
a^ o^ whose sides pass in order through four known points r , 2 


Now let i be the intersection of the lines r, s and o 

|-1 i-2 $n-2 n 1 

On ; and let ^^ be the point in which i 9 & n _ l again cuts the 
conic. Since a^ 5 a ^3^-2 a i * s an ^^"bed 4'gon, it follows 
that the point (see theorem 8) r 1 in which a b t cuts r s. 

Ji-*- 1 at*-! fi-2 -511-2 

is known. And since a n _ l ^^ a^ a n a^^ is an inscribed 4'gon, 
the point s, in which a. b , cuts o o is known. Hence, 

ftt-l 1 4n-l n 1 n 

as the points r^^ and s are known, the points a in which the 
straight, line r^ ^^ cuts the conic are known. 

Ejp I may also remark that porism 1 is prominently evident 
from this method of solution for (from the well-known case of 
theorem 8 in which n = 4) the straight line r s^ is such that 

*>MT- J 3 -5*1 2 

if we assume one of the points o n _ l5 <> n anywhere therein, we can 

find a corresponding position for the other one in the same line 
which will render porismatic the inscription of the closed 4'gon, 
and .'. also that of the closed w'gon. 

Second method of solution. 

Analysis. Let a a^ . . . . a^ a^ be a closed w'gon inscribed in 
the desired manner (n being regarded as an even number). 
Suppose that through 1 we draw the chord t b. 2 parallel to Q I a^. 
Then it is evident (from the well-known particular case of 
theorem 8 in which n = 4) that the point p^ in which b^ a. 3 cuts 

o, o is known. 

i - 

And if we suppose the chord b^ b 3 parallel to p 2 o 3 , and that 
we draw & 3 4 to cut p 2 o 3 in p^ then for like reasons the point 
j 3 is known. Similarly, if we draw the chord b^ b^ parallel to 
p 4 , and that we draw b a. to cut p 3 o , in jj , then will the 
point p i be known. 

And proceeding thus, it is evident we at length arrive at the 
known point p n in which the chord b n 1 cuts the straight 
line p o . 

1 n 1 n 


The result of these operations is obviously an inscribed closed 
w'gon a l & 2 & 3 . . . . b n a /l whose first n 1 sides are parallels to 
known straight lines Q I o^ p 2 o^, P$ " P n _^ <> n -, and whose 
last side b a^ passes through the known point p . 

Now n 1 being an odd number, we know that the chord 
b n a 1 will be parallel to a fixed determinable direction ; and 
therefore, as the side is also a transversal through the point 
p n , we know the point a l of its intersection with the conic. 
Moreover, it is obvious that the point b n will also be an answer- 
able position for the first angular point of an inscribable closed 
n'gon fulfilling the conditions. It is also evident that when the 
point p n is at infinity and indicated by the infinite production of 
the chords b n a [7 the problem will be porismatic. 

Third method of solution. 

Theorem 6 intimates to us Poncelet's elegant method of 
arriving at the first angular points of the closed w'gons fulfilling 
the imposed conditions. Inscribe any three distinct w'gcns 

a i a 2 ' VK' & 1 5 2 *n+l' C l C 2 ' n+l' the U sideS f 6ach f 

which pass in order through the n given points o lt o 2 , .... o 
find *', the point of intersection of the chords a. b and b. a 

1 n+l 1 tt-j-i ? 

find k, the point of intersection of the chords a 1 c and 
c i a n 4-i ' ^ nd ^ ^ e P^ n ^ ^ intersection of the chords b^ c 
and G I b._ l . Then will the three points *, k, I, be in one straight 
line which is such that its points of intersection with the conic 
(real or imaginary as may be) are answerable positions for the 
first angular points of the inscribable closed ft' 

This method holds whether n is odd or even, and from 
the present paper it is obvious it holds in the following more 
extended problem : Given a conic S and n entities G I} o^ .... o^ 
any number of which represent given points, and the rest given 
conies having double contacts with S ; to inscribe in S the closed 


n'gons, the n sides of each of which will meet with the entities 
taken in order, in such a manner as that the sides meeting with 
the entities which are conies will be tangents of prescribed 
rotatives thereunto. (Remembering that when we fix on the 
rotative of any particular numbered sides of the w'gons whose 
first points lie on one side of the line of contact of the entity 
which they touch, we must have them of opposite rotative when 
the first points fall on the other side of the line of contact.) 

Fourth method of solution (for particular case). 

When the given conic is a circle, the problem of the inscrip- 
tion of the closed n'gons whose sides pass in order through the 
n given points o , 2 , . . . . o^ can be investigated in the following 
manner (which is worthy of particular attention as an illustration 
of the importance of conceiving the methods of rotatives of 
segments of lines in respect to particular points, and by such 
means eliminating uncertainty as to which of two straight lines 
is the answerable one to the object in view.) Method of investi- 
gation : Suppose p l p 2 P n P l an inscribed closed rc'gon whose 
sides pass in order through the n points. 

Let a l a 2 .... n+1 and ^ & 2 .... b be two inscribed w'gons, 
formed at random, the sides of each of which pass in order 
through the n points. From the properties of similar triangles 
we have 

a p a . . p 

n r 711 * 

. . 


. , . 
n"n n-j-1 *\ 

holding in signs when the rotatives of the involved lines are 


taken in respect to any point in the circumference. And 
from these we have 



the rotatives of the involved parts being taken in respect to any 
point in the circumference. 

Now since the product of two sides of any plane triangle is 
equal in magnitude to the product of the diameter of the circum- 
scribing circle and the perpendicular from their point of inter- 
section on the third side ; it is evident from the last equation that 
the perpendiculars from p l on the straight lines a l b l and b l 
a have to each other a known numerical ratio ; and, therefore, 
all the answerable positions for p l must be included amongst 
those given by the intersections of the given circle with two 
known straight lines passing through the intersection of the 
chords a b and b a . Moreover, since one only of 

1 W-f 1 * M pi 

these two straight lines gives points jp l fulfilling the equation 
of conditions when the rotatives of the involved portions 
are taken in respect to any point in the circumference, it is 
obvious that the point p l is an intersection of the given circle 
with one known straight line. 

By forming another inscribed w'gon c l c 2 .... c , x whose sides 
pass in order through the given points, it is evident the point p l 
must be in a deter minable straight line through the intersection 
of the chords a l c n+1 and c l a . And hence we infer Poncelet's 
method of finding the straight line x x containing the answerable 

When a n+l and b are co-incident with a l and b l then 
evidently the first side of the last equation is equal unity, and 
therefore so also the second side. And in this state of the data 
it is evident that any point in the circumference will be an 


answerable position for p l . Hence we re-arrive at theorem 5, 
and also at the following : 


If ^ a 2 a n a i 

inscribed in a circle, the sides of each of which pass in order through 
n fixed points o x , o 2 , o n , and that 

a o 

n n 

when the rotatives of the involved lines are taken in respect to any 
point in the circumference; then will any point in the circumference 
be an answerable position for the first angular point of an inscrib- 
able closed n'gon whose sides pass in order through the n fixed 


12. When the data is such as to render the problem poris- 
matic when the number of points is even, and that they are all 
in one straight line ; then, by supposing the points a^ and b l 
co-incident with the points in which this line cuts the circle, it is 
obvious from the last theorem that 

which is a formula already arrived at by Chasles, on page 465 of 
his treatise on " Geonietrie Superieure" 

13. Again (since the extremities of all the inscribable ^'gons 
belong to homographic figures) the following theorem can be 
easily deduced : 


If there be given a circle and n points in a plane, two straight 
lines, X and Y can be found, such that if a^ and a be the ex- 
tremities of any inscribed n'gon ivhose sides pass in order through 


the n points, then will the product of the perpendiculars from a l and 
a on X and Y, respectively , be of constant magnitude. 

The lines are equidistant from the centre of the circle, and 
are those corresponding to infinity in the homographic figures to 
which the extremities of the inscribable n'gons belong. 

X. ,14{ ]By the well-known process of reciprocation we can at 
once^form theorems which are the " duals " or "correlatives" of 
"tJiQ? & investigated, or we can arrive at them by steps correlative 
to those already used. It is also obvious we can make the 
solutions of the problems subservient to the solutions of their 
" duals," or we can arrive at solutions to the dual problems by 
steps correlative to those used. As an example of the latter 
mode of proceeding, I will enunciate the dual problem, and give 
the method of solution correlative to the first. 


To exscribe a closed ^'gon to a given curve of the second 
degree, so that its n successive angular points will be situated 
in n given straight lines L , L 2 , .... L M taken in order. 

Analysis. Let n be considered an even number ; and let 
a l 2 .... a n j be an exscribed closed M-'gon whose angular points 
a v a. 2 , .... a n rest on L I? L/ 2 , .... L n respectively. 

Suppose we draw a straight line I through the points of 
intersection of L X and L 2 , and of L S and L 4 ; and let i be the 
point in which this line cuts a 2 a y Then if r l be the point in 
which the other tangent from i cuts a l a^ it follows that the 
straight line R X through ^ and the intersection of L X and L 2 is 
known. And if s 1 be the point in which the other tangent from 
i cuts a^ a^, it follows that the straight line S through 5 and the 
intersection of L q and L, is known. 

o 4 

Hence we see that the problem is reduced to the exscribing of 


a closed (n 2)'gon r s^a^ . . . . a^ T I having its successive angular 
points on the n 2 known straight lines B , S 1? L & , .... L^. 

And thus, step by step, we can reduce the problem until we 
make the solution dependent on that of exscribing a closed 4'gon 
r 2 s a n \ a r * having its angular points on the four 
known straight lines R , S T , L , L . 

f Z fn 2 n 1 n 

Now our object is to find out how to form this closed 4'gon. 

Suppose we draw the straight line which contains the inter- 
section of the lines R and L^, and the intersection of S* and 
L _ ; and suppose # to be the point in which this line cuts the 

Then as the point in which the other tangent from x cuts the 
side a a n must be on each one of two known straight lines 
(one through the intersection of B A 9 and L , and the other 
through that of S A 9 and L ) it is known. And therefore the 
tangent a a n through it is known, &c. Moreover it is evident 
the point x is such that if L and L^ pass through it, the 
problem of the construction of the closed 4'gon will be porismatic, 
and therefore also the construction of the exscribed closed ?i'gon. 
Hence we may announce the following porism, which is the dual 
of porism 1 already given : 


If a closed n'gon be exscribed to a fixed conic, and have its first 
n 2 angular points on n 2 faed straight lines ; a point x can be 
found, such that if we draw straight lines from it through the 
n 1 th and n th angular points of the n'gon, and regard these two 
lines as fixed, we can deform the n'gon so that its angular points will 
move along the n fixed straight lines, and its n sides continue tan- 
gents to the fixed conic. 


15. It is evident, from the projective properties of figures, 
that analogous theorems and porisms, to those established con- 
cerning plane conies, can be established in respect to " spherical 
conies" It is also obvious that analogous problems concerning 
spherical conies can be solved by analogous processes. 


The problem solved in this paper is famous from having been 
the chief instrument in unfolding the theory of poles and polars 
amongst the matchless geometers of France. 

In 1776, Castillon gave a solution to the particular case in 
which the conic is a circle and n = 3, which appeared in the 
" Nemoires of the Academy of Berlin" 

In 1776, Lagrange indicated a method of arriving at a solu- 
tion to the particular case considered by Castillon, by means of 
rather complicated trigonometrical equations. 

In 1776, the porism pertaining to this case appeared in 
the " Opera Reliqua " of Professor Simson, of the University 
of Glasgow. Simson solved the problem in 1731. 

In 1784, Ottajano and Malfatti (two distinguished Italian 
Geometers) gave excellent solutions to the more general case in 
which the curve is a circle and n = any whole number whatever. 
These solutions were published in the " Memorie della Societa 
Italiana " of Naples. 

In 1796, Lhuilier gave a solution to this case, or rather he 
showed how its solution might be made dependent on the solu- 
tion of trigonometrical equations. 

In 1803, the illustrious Carnot (the republican statesman 
chosen by Napoleon I. to rally the shattered power of the 
empire against the combined feudalism of Europe) gave a similar 
solution to this particular case in his work entitled " Geometric 
de Position" 

In 1810, Brianchon solved the general problem, in which the 
curve is any conic, and n any whole number. This solution 
appeared in the " Journal de P Ecole Poll/technique." 

In 1817, Poncelet (the celebrated French Engineer) gave an 


elegant and simple method of solution to the general problem in 
the " Annales des Mathematiques" 

In 1847, Mr. Townsend (of Trinity College, Dublin) pointed 
out an easy method of demonstrating the correctness of Poncelet's 
process by means of anharmonic properties of conies. 

In 1847, Mr. Gaskin (of Jesus College, Cambridge) furnished 
a solution which was edited by Professor Davies (of the Royal 
Military Academy) and published in the " Mechanics' Magazine." 
This method of solving the general question is evidently nothing 
more than an extension of the methods of Castillon and Ottajano. 

Mr. Gaskin has also paid much attention to this problem in an 
appendix to his work entitled " Solutions to Geometrical Problems; " 
and he is unquestionably the first geometer who succeeded in 
arriving at a true conception of the contingent porismatic relations 
of the data. 

The inquisitive reader may consult the third volume of 
" The Mathematician " for a more detailed history, including the 
labours of Euler, Lexell, Fuss, Gergonne, Servois, Econtre, Rochat, 
Noble, Wallace, Lowry, Swale, Hearn, &c. 

PAPEB No. 4. 

Researches concerning n'gons inscribed in surfaces of the second 



[Read 17th June, 1863.] 

1 . Let S represent a surface of the second degree ; and let 
o , o 2 , .... o n be a series of n fixed points, designated as first, 
second, &c., according to the subscript numbers. Let a a^ .... 

?*'gons, the sides of each of which pass in order through the n 


If we regard the point o ]L and its polar plane as vertex and 
axis to homologic figures whose homological ratio is 1, and 
that we look on a^ b , c , d , &c., as belonging to one of these 
figures, then will a^ & 2 , c g , d 2 , &c., be their corresponding points 
in the other figure. Similarly, by regarding o 2 and its polar 
plane as vertex and axis to homologic figures whose homological 
ratio is 1, and looking on a 2 , & 2 , c 2 , d^ &c., as belonging to one 
of these figures, then will a , b , c 3 , d , &c., be their corresponding 
points in the other figure. And it is evident we may thus pro- 
ceed until we arrive at the final extremities of the inscribed 
n'gons. But, as homologic figures are homographic, and that 
figures homographic with any figure are homographic with each 
other, it is evident the first extremities of the inscribed n'gons 
belong to a figure which is homographic with a figure to which 
the final extremities of these ft'gons belong. Moreover, it is 
evident that the first and last extremities of each %'gon are 
corresponding points in the homographic figures, and that the 
tangent planes at the extremities of each w'gon are correspond- 
ing planes. 

Hence we may announce the following theorem : 


If in a surface of the second degree there be inscribed n'gons 
such that the n successive sides of each pass in order through a series 
of n fixed points ; then will the first extremities of these argons belong 
to a figure which is homographic with a figure to which their final 
extremities belong ; moreover, the extremities of each n'gon will be 
corresponding points in the homographic figures, and the tangent 
planes at these extremities will be corresponding planes. 

2. The two following theorems are immediate consequences 
from theorem 1 : 



If in a surface of the second degree n'gons be inscribed whose 
first extremities are all in one plane, and whose sides pass in order 
through n fixed points, then will their last extremities be all in one 


If in a surface of the second degree there can be inscribed 3 
closed logons whose sides pass in order through n faced points, then 
will any point in the trace of the plane containing their first extremi- 
ties be an answerable position for the first extremity of another such 
inscribable closed n'gon. 

3. If in addition to having 3 inscribed closed ?i'gons, whose 
sides pass in order through the n fixed points, we were to have 
another such inscribed closed n'gon whose first extremity 1 is 
not in the trace of the plane containing the first extremities of 
the other three, then obviously any point y l in the surface is an 
answerable position for the first extremity of a closed n'gon 
whose sides pass in order through the n points. For through 
x and y l we can conceive a plane whose trace cuts the trace of 
the plane containing the first extremities of the other three closed 
w'gons ; and therefore, from theorem 3, it follows that y 1 is an 
answerable position for the first extremity of an inscribable 
closed Ti'gon. Hence we have 


If in a surface of the second degree there can be inscribed 4 
closed n'gons whose sides pass in order through n fix.ed points, and 
that the first extremities of these closed rCgons are not all in one 
plane, then will any point in the surface be an answerable position 
for the first extremity of another such inscribable closed n'gon. 

4. Again (as a consequence from theorem 1) we have the 
following : 


If in a surface of the second degree there be inscribed four 

whose sides pass in order through n fixed points ; then, representing 
tangent planes by capital letters of like names and subscripts with 
the small letters indicating the points of contact, we have 

<i' A : . 

"+!' A +l 

d 1 ,A 1 

<Z , A 

n+l' n+l 

<V B i 

<Wi' B . + , 


d ,B 

+!' H-1 

5. If in the equations of the last theorem we suppose a , b 
and d n ^ to be respectively coincident with a , b v d ; and that 
c x and c are distinct. Then, evidently 

!il^l-. Jl^l and "i' AI . C "+i' A i 

" ' " 

From these equations we at once perceive that the closing 
chord Cj c passes through the common point of intersection of 
the planes A X , B , D . 

Hence, from this and theorem 4, we infer the following : 


If in a surface of the second degree there can be inscribed 3 
closed rigons, whose sides pass in order through n fixed points ; 
then according as any other inscribed rfgon having its sides passing 
in order through the points and not having its first extremity in 
plane with those of the others, is an open u'gon or a closed n'gon, so 
accordingly will the entire locus of all the answerable positions for 
first extremities of inscribable closed n'gons (whose sides pass in 


order through the n points) be the trace of the plane containing the 
first extremities of the 3 closed n'gons or the entire surface in other 
words so accordingly will the problem of the inscription of the 
closed rfgons be partially porismatic or fully porismatic. 


If the problem of the inscription of closed n'gons (whose sides 
pass in order through n fixed points) in a surface of the second 
degree be partially porismatic, then will the closing chords of all the 
inscribable open logons (whose sides pass in order through the n 
points) pass through the pole of the plane whose trace is the locus of 
the first extremities of the inscribable closed n'gons. 


If there be a surface of the second degree and n fixed points, such 
as to render partially porismatic the problem of the inscription of the 
closed n'gons whose sides pass in order through the points ; then will 
any point whatever in the surface be an answerable position for the 
first extremity of an inscribable closed 2 n'gon whose first n sides 
and whose second n sides pass in order through the n fixed points. 

6. Suppose we have a surface of the second degree and n fixed 
points, such that in addition to two inscribed closed n'gons whose 
sides pass in order through the points, we have an inscribed 
closed 2 ?i'gon whose two successive series of n sides pass in order 
through the n points. And let a l and b 1 be the first extremities 
of the closed n'gons, and c l the first extremity of the closed 2 n'gon. 

Tben d l and d. l being the extremities of any inscribed open 
ft'gon whose sides pass in order through the n points, we have 
(from equations of theroem 5) 

c v A i c n+r A i _ d v A i d n+v A i 

C l> B l C +l' B l d V B J rfn+l' B i 

And as we can interchange the extremities c^ c n 1? it is evident 

, and that = And from 


this we learn that the closing chords of all the inscribable open 
rz-'gons must pass through the straight line zz of intersection of 
the planes Aj and B r 

Now, if we conceive a plane through zz and the line G I c. l9 it 
follows that all the inscribable open w'gons (whose sides pass 
in order through the points) whose first extremities are in the 
trace of this plane, will have their final extremities in the same 
trace. And as the extremities of the %'gons form homographic 
divisions in the trace, and that two distinct corresponding points 
Cj and c n are interchangeable in these divisions, therefore it 
follows that all the closing chords of these inscribable open w'gons 
will pass through one point v (in the line zz). Moreover, it is 
evident that the points of contact of the tangents from v to the 
trace are answerable positions for first extremities of inscribable 
closed %'gons whose sides pass in order through the n fixed points. 
Hence, from this and theorem 6, we infer 


If there be a surface of ike second degree and n fixed points, such 
that one closed 2 rigon can lie inscribed whose two successive series 
of n sides pass in order through the points and are not coincident ; 
then will any point in the surface be an answerable position for the 
first extremity of an inscribable closed 2 n'gon whose sides pass in 
like manner through the points ; and the problem of the inscription 
of the closed nfgons whose sides pass in ordef through the n fixed 
points is partially porismatic. 


If there be a surface of the second degree and a series of n fixed 
points such that the problem of the inscription of the closed logons 
whose sides pass in order through the n points is fully porismatic ; 
then any one of the points of the series being omitted will render 
partially porismatic the problem of the inscription of the closed 
(n \.y gons whose sides pass in the same order through the n 1 
remaining points. And according as the omitted point is inside or 
outside the surface so will the closed (n lygons be imaginary or 
real. H^f The trace of the polar plane of the omitted point 
being the locus of an extremity of a side of the (n l)'goris. 



If there be a surface of the second degree and n fixed points, such 
i der partially porismatic the problem of the inscription of the 
closed n'gons whose sides pass in order through the n points ; then 
by adopting the pole of the plane whose trace is the locus of the first 
extremities of the inscribable closed n'gons, as the n + 1 th point of 
the series, we render fully porismatic the problem of the inscription 
of the closed (n + I)'gons whose sides pass in order through the 
series of n + 1 points. 


If there be a surface of the second degree and a series of n fixed 
points, such that the problem of the inscription of the closed logons 
whose sides pass in order through the n points is non-porismatic ; 
then there can be two and not more than two answerable positions 
(real or imaginary as may be) for the first extremities of the cl> sed 

7. Let us have a surface of the second degree and n points o^ o^ 
.... o , such as to render non-porismatic the inscription of the 
closed n'gons whose sides pass in order through these points. 
And let x x be the straight line containing the first extremities of 
these closed ?&'gons. 

If o be any point in the line x x, then evidently the 
points in which xx pierces the surface are answerable positions for 
first extremities of inscribable closed 2 (n + l)'gons each of which 
has its two successive series of n sides passing in order through 
the n + 1 points o^ o 2 ,....o n , o n+r Therefore (theorem 9) the 
problem of the inscription of the closed (n + 1) 'gons whose sides 
pass in order through the n + 1 points is partially porismatic. 
Moreover, we know that the line xx is a closing chord of an 
inscribable (n + l)'gon, and must, therefore, pass through the 
pole of the plane whose trace is the locus of first extremities of 
the inscribable closed (n + l)'gons. Hence we have the 
following theorems : 



If there be a surface of the second degree and n points such as to 
render non-porismatic the problem of the inscription of the closed 
rigons whose sides pass in order through the points ; then by assum- 
ing any point in the straight line containing the first extremities of 
the two inscribable closed rfgons as the n + 1 th point of the series, 
we tvill render partially porismatic the problem of the inscription of 
the closed (n + 1) 'gons whose sides pass in order through the n + 1 

THEOREM 14 (porismj. 

If there be a surface of the second degree and n. fixed points, such as 
to render non-porismatic the problem of the inscription of the closed 
rUgons whose sides pass in order through the points ; then, assum- 
ing any point in the straight line xx containing the first extremities 
of the two inscribable closed n'gons, as the 11 + 1 th point of the series, 
we can find a position for the n + 2 th point of the series in the same 
straight line which will render fully porismatic the problem of the 
inscription of the closed (n + 2) 'gons whose sides pass in order 
through the n + 2 points of the series. 

8. And from theorem 14 we at once infer the following 
theorems : 


If an open n'gon be inscribed in a surface of the second degree so 
that its n sides pass in order through n fixed points, and that the 
problem of the inscription of the closed rfgons whose sides pass in 
like manner through the points is non-porismatic ; then will the 
closing chord of the open rigon be in plane with the straight line 
xx which contains the first extremities of the tiuo inscribable closed 
n'gons whose sides pass in order through the n fixed points. 


If in a surface of the second degree there be inscribed an open 
2 rfgon whose two successive series of n sides pass in order through 
n fixed povnts ; then will the plane containing its extremities and 
the first point of its n 1 th side pass through the two answerable 
positions for the first extremities of the inscribable closed n'gons 
whose sides pass in order through the n points of the series. 


9. And from theorems 3 and 15 we infer 


If there be a surface of the second degree and n fixed points, and 
any odd number k ; and if in the surface there can be inscribed one 
closed k.n'gon whose k series of successive n sides pass in order 
through the n fixed points so that no two of the series are co-incident ; 
then will the first points of the 1 st , n + 1 th , 2 n + 1 th , .... (k 1) 
n + 1 th , sides lie all in the trace of one plane ; and any point in 
this trace will be an answerable position for the first extremity of an 
inscribable closed k.n'gon whose sides pass in order through the n 
fixed points. 

10. The following theorem (of which theorem 9 may be 
regarded as the particular case in which k = 2) is evident. 


If there be a surface of the second degree and n fixed points, and 
any even number k ; and if in the surface there can be inscribed a 
closed k.n'gon whose k series of successive sides pass in order 
through the n fixed points so that no two of the series of sides are 
co-incident ; then will the first points of the 1 st , n + 1 th , 2 n + 1 th 
.... (k 1) n + 1 th sides lie all in the trace of one plane ; and any 
point in the surface will be an answerable position for the first 
extremity of another inscribable closed k.n'gon whose sides pass in 
like manner through the n fixed points; and the problem of the 
inscription of the closed ^.k.n'gons whose ^.k series of sides pass in 
order through the n fixed points is partially porismatic. 

11. Now let us have a surface S of the second degree and the 
first n 2 points o 1? o g , .... o n _ of a series of n points, such as 
to render porismatic the problem of the inscription of the closed 
(n 2)'gons whose sides pass in order through the n 2 given 

First, it may be observed that when the inscription of the 
closed (11 2)'gons is fully porismatic, then no distinct fixed 
positions can be found for the n 1 th and 7i th points which will 
render porismatic the inscription of the closed tt'gons whose sides 
pass in order through the n points of the series. But it is 


evident that answerable coincident positions have unlimited 
space as locus. 

When the problem of the inscription of the closed (n 2) 
'gons is partially porismatic, we know that the closing chords of 
inscribed (n 2) 'gons will pass through the point x which is 
the pole of the plane X whose trace is the locus of the first 
extremities of the inscribable closed (n 2) 'gons. And it is 
evident that x and X may be real even though the closed (n 2) 
'gons be imaginary. 

Now if a l a 2 .... a n _ l be one of the inscribed (n 2) 'gons, it 
is evident that in order to render porismatic the inscription of 
the closed rc'gons we must have o and o^ in such positions that 
by drawing a , o , to cut the surface in a , then will a o cut 

o n _i n.i rf n n 

the surface in a . This can be effected by taking o^_ l anywhere 
in the plane X, and by then taking o anywhere in the polar line 
of the point o^_ in respect to the trace of X. 

Hence we have the following theorem : 

THEOREM 19 (porismj. 

Given a surface of the second degree and the first n 2 points 
of a series of n points such as to render partially porismatic the 
problem of the inscription of the closed (n tycoons whose sides 
pass in order through the n 2 given points : a plane X can be 
found such that by taking the n 1 th point of the series anywhere 
therein we can find a corresponding straight line in the same plane, 
any point in which line being made a position for the n ih point of the 
series will render partially porismatic the problem of the inscription 
of the closed logons whose sides pass in order through the n points 
of the series. 

12. In the investigation of the preceding theorem I have used a 
theorem arrived at in the researches concerning w'gons inscribed 
in curves of the second degree, viz. : " If there be any line of 
the second degree and 3 points in its plane such that each one 
has its polar line passing through the other two, then will any 
point in the curve be an answerable position for the first extremity 


of an inscribable closed 3'gon whose sides pass in any order 
through the three points o v o 9 , o 3 ." 

Now, if we assume the pole of the plane o o o g as a fourth 
point, then evidently (see theorem 7) we have 


If there be a surface of the second degree and four points, such that 
each one is the pole of the plane containing the of her three, then will 
any point in the surface be an answerable position for the first extremity 
of an inscribable closed 4<'gon whose sides pass in order through the 
four points taken in any order. fjj^T The centre of the surface 
and the three points at infinity indicated by the productions of 
any system of conjugate diameters, are evidently four points such 
that each one is the pole of the plane containing the other three. 

13. And from theorems 20 and 10 we have 


If there be a surface of the second degree and three points such 
that the polar plane of each one contains the other two points, then will 
the problem of the inscription of the closed 3'gons, the sides of which 
pass in any order through these points, be partially porismatic. 
fJSp These closed 3'gons will be imaginary when the trace of 
the plane through the three points is imaginary. 


If there be a surface of the second degree and three points such 
that the polar plane of each one contains the other two points, then 
any point in the surface 'is an answerable position for the first ex- 
tremity of an inscribable closed 6'gon whose first three sides and 
whose second three sides pass through the three points taken in any 

14. Now if we have a surface of the second degree and any 
odd number n of points in one straight line, it is evident that the 
points in which the straight line pierces the surface are answerable 


positions for first extremities of inscribable closed 2 w'gons whose 
first n sides and whose second n sides pass in order through the 
n points. 

Hence (see theorem 9) we infer the following : 


If there be a surface of the second degree and a series n of points 
(n being an odd number) in one straight line, then will the problem 
of the inscription of the closed n'gons whose sides pass in order 
through the n points be partially porismatic ; and any point in tlie 
surface will be an answerable position for the first extremity of an 
inscribable closed 2 rig on whose first n sides and whose second n 
sides pass in order through the n fixed points. Hip 33 It is evident 
that when w=l, the locus of the extremities of the inscribable 
1'gons will be the trace of the polar plane of the point through 
which the sides all pass. 

15. The following theorem (of which Pascal's is but a parti- 
cular case) is an evident consequence. 


If n be an odd number and that in a surface of the second degree 
there be inscribed a closed 2 iCgon such that all its pairs of opposite 
sides, with the exception of one pair, cut each other in n 1 points 
lying in one straight line, then will this remaining pair of opposite 
sides cut each other in a point in the same straight line. 

16. If n 2 be an even number, and that the inscription of the 
closed (n 2)'gons whose sides pass in order through n 2 fixed 
points in one straight line xx is non-porismatic ; then (see 
theorem 14) by assming any position in xx as a n 1 th point, we 
can find a corresponding position for a w tb point in the same line 
so as to render fully porismatic the problem of the inscription of 
the closed w'gons whose sides pass in order through the n points 
of the series . 


This may be formally enunciated, thus : 

Ifnbe any even number, and that we have a surface of the second 
degree and n 1 points in one straight line ;' then a position for a n th 
point can be found in the same straight line which will render fully 
porismatic the problem of the inscription of the closed n'gons whose 
sides pass in order through the n points of the series 

17. If there be n fixed points in the plane of a conic, we know- 
that the problem of the inscription of closed Ti'gons in the conic 
is either non-porismatic or fully porismatic ; and in the non- 
porismatic state of the data we can always find a real line 
containing the two answerable positions for the first extremities 
of the closed n'gons. 

Hence we easily arrive at the following theorem. 


If a gauche closed rfgvn inscribed in a surface of the second 
decree be cut by a plane, and that we conceive the points of its inter- 
section with the plane to become fixed, then the problem of the 
inscription of the closed n'gons whose sides pass in order through 
these n fixed points is partially porismatic or fully porismatic, just 
according as the problem of the inscription of the closed n'gons in 
the trace of tJie plane containing the points is non-porismatic or 

18. Let the surface S and the n points o 1? o 2 , . . . . o n be so 
related that the problem of the inscription of the closed w'gons 
whose sides pass in order through the n points is non-porismatic. 

Let p l and q l be the first extremities of inscribable closed 
w'gons ; and let xx be the straight line containing these points. 

Through xx conceive any plane cutting the surface S. Tow 
if in the trace of this plane we assume points as first extremities 
of inscribable open ^'gons whose sides pass through the n fixed 
points, then will the final extremities of these w'gons be in the 
same trace. And, as the extremities of each of these ^'gons 
are corresponding points in homographic divisions in a conic 


such that we cannot interchange them in the divisions, we know 
that the closing chords of these w'gons are tangents of like or 
unlike rotatives to a conic k having double contact with the trace 
in the points where xx pierces it (reckoning from the final ex- 
tremities of the w'gons) just according as the final extremities 
of the w'gons are on the same side or on opposite sides of the 
straight line xx. Similar remarks evidently apply in respect to 
the traces of all other planes drawn through the line xx. And 
we know that the conies to which the closing chords are tan- 
gents belong to a surface having double contact with S in the 
points where xx pierces it. 

Again by assuming o , in any particular position in xx, it 
is evident that the tangent lines from this point to the various 
conic sections, made in the surface S by planes through xx, are all 
closing chords to %'gons inscribable in the surface so that the 
sides of each pass in order through the n fixed points o } , o^ ... o^. 
And we perceive that we can have any number of closed (n + 1 ) 
'gons inscribed in S so that the sides of each pass in order 

through the n -f 1 points o^ 2 , o^, o l ; we perceive also 

that the problem of the inscription of these closed (n + l)'gons 
is partially porismatic. Hence we learn that the point o is 
the vertex of a cone of the second degree enveloping the surface 
which has double contact with S in the points where xx pierces 
it. This is also evidently true for all other points in xx. There- 
fore we infer that the envelope of the closing chords of all the 
inscribable w'gons, whose sides pass in order through the n 
points, is a surface T of the second degree having double contact 
with S in the points in which the line xx pierces it. 

Moreover, it is evident that when we have the rotative of any 
one of the closing chords (reckoning from the final extremity of 
the w'gon) in respect to a section of T made by a plane through 
xx, we can determine on the rotatives of all others, by conceiving 
the plane to revolve round xx as axis and the chord to be 
deformed so as to move tangentially to the various conic sections 


of T but not to have either of its extremities pass through the 
points in which xx pierces the surface. Hence we may announce 


If there be a surface S of the second degree and a series of n 
fixed points such as to render non-porismatic the problem of the 
inscription of the closed logons whose sides pass in order through 
the n points of the series ; then will the closing chords of the inscribed 
open logons whose sides pass in order through the fixed points be 
tangents to a surface of the second degree having double contact with 
the surface S in the two points which are answerable positions for 
first extremities of the inscribable closed n'gons whose sides pass m 
order through the n fixed points. 


If two surfaces of the second degree have double contact ; and 
that from points in one of the surfaces we draw chords tangent to 
the other surface in plane with the line xx of contact of the 
surfaces, and of such roiatives (in respect to the plane sections in 
this other surface made by the planes through xx containing these 
tangents) as are indicated by any one of the chords we conceive 
to revolve with the plane which contains it round the line xx as 
axis, in such a manner as to be always tangent to the surface 
but not to have either of its extremities pass through the points where 
xx pierces the surface; then will the final points of the chords 
belong to a figure which is homographic with a figure to which the 
first extremities of these chords belong. 


If two surfaces of the second degree have double contact, and 
that any point in the line of contact is the vertex of a cone enveloping 
one of the surfaces, then- will the traces of this cone on the other 
surface be plane curves. And the poles of the planes containing these 
traces are situated in the line of contact of the surfaces. 


If there be a surface S of the second degree, and n entities, each 
entity of which is either a fixed point or a conicoid having double 


contact with S ; and if there be n'gons inscribed in the surface S so 
that each side of every n'gon will meet with the entity of the series 
which is of like rank in the series which such side is in the n'gon, 
and in such a manner as to pass through the entity if it be a point 
or, if the entity be a conicoid, to be tangent of certain prescribable rota- 
tive to the trace made on this conicoid by a plane containing the first 
point of such side and the line of contact of the conicoid with S : then 
will the extremities of each n'gon be corresponding points of homo- 
graphic figures. And when we cannot interchange the extremities of 
any of the n'gons so as to have them still corresponding in the 
homographic figures, then will the closing chords of the logons be tan- 
gents of determinate rotatives to the traces made on a certain conicoid 
having double contact with S by planes containing the final extremi- 
ties of the n'gons and the line of contact of such conicoid with S. 
But when we can interchange the distinct extremities of the tigons 
so that they still remain corresponding points of the hornographic* 
figures, then will the closing chords of the rigons all pass through 
one point. 

19. It is evident we can extend many of the preceding 
theorems by a substitution of such entities as those implicated in 
the theorem just enunciated for some of the entities which we 
considered as all composed of points. 

It is also obvious that all these theorems have " duals," which 
are easy of formation by well known methods or which can be 
arrived at by steps correlative to those we have employed in the 
preceding investigations. As it would be superfluous to repeat 
the " duals " of all the theorems, I will content myself by giving 
that of theorem 20 in order to exhibit a sort of nomenclature 
which may be found convenient in enunciating the duals of the 


If there be a surface of the second degree and four fixed planes 
such that each plane is the polar of the point common to the other 
three planes ; then any straight line m any of the planes is an 
answerable position for an angular joint of a closed planes u'gon 
whose n planes are tangential to the surface, and whose four succes- 
sive angular joints lie in the four fixed planes taken in any order 


20. I will now proceed to indicate methods by which we can 
graphically find the positions for the first extremities of the closed 
n'gons inscribable in a surface of the second degree so that the 
sides of each will pass in order through n given points. And (in 
doing so) I wo aid have the reader remember that when I speak 
of a closed w'gon, or of any w'gon, I refer to a n'gon inscribed 
in the surface whose sides pass in order through the n point of 
the series ; and wheD I speak of a 2 n'gon, I refer to one inscribed 
in the surface whose first n sides and whose second n sides pass 
in order through the n points of the series, and are not coincident 
in pairs. 


Given a surface S of the second degree, and a series of n 
points Oj, o 2 , . . . . o n ; to inscribe in the surface the closed w'gons 
the sides of each of which will pass in order through the n fixed 

Analysis of a first method of Solution. 

Suppose ^ 2 . . . . a n a^ to be a closed w'gon such as required, 
the sides a t a^ a 2 a y .... a n o^ passing through the respective 
points o v o 2 , .... o n . 

Now let us see whether we could reduce the inscription of this 
closed w'gon to that of another having a less number of sides. 

If G I , o 2 , 3 are in one straight line we know that in this line 
we can determine a point g such that a^ a ]L g will be a straight 
line. And therefore evidently we can reduce the solution of the 
problem to the inscription of the closed (n 2)'gon ^ & 4 a g .... 
a n a^ whose sides pass in order through the n 2 known points 

If o v o a , o 3 be such that each one of them has its polar plane 
passing through the other two, we know that the point h which 
is the pole of the plane o l o 2 o g is such that a^ a^ h is one straight 
line. And therefore evidently we can reduce the solution of the 


problem to the inscription of a closed (n 2)'gon whose sides 
pass in order through the n 2 known points h, o^ o^ ... o . 

If o , o 2 , o , be neither in one straight line nor such that the 
polar plane of each one passes through the other two, then we 
can find the straight line xx such that by assuming q any point 
therein, we can find a corresponding point r, in the same line, 
such that q a and r a will cut each other in a point p in the 
surface S. And therefore evidently we can reduce the solution 
of the problem to the inscription of the closed (n l)'gon 
a pa a .... a n a whose sides pass in order through the n 1 
known points q, r, o , o & , o^. 

So now it is evident we can reduce the solution of the 
problem of the inscription of the closed w'gons to that of the 
inscription of closed (n 2)'gons or to that of the inscription 
of closed (n l)'gons. And thus, step by step, we can reduce 
the problem until we make its solution depend on that of the 
inscription of closed 3'gons, or 2'gons whose sides are required 
to pass through known points. 

When we reduce the problem to the inscription of closed 
3'gons whose sides are required to pass through 3 known points, 
and that these points are in one straight line or that each one 
of them has its polar plane containing the other two ; then will 
the problem of the inscription of the closed rc'gons be partially 
porismatic ; and the locus of the first extremities of the closed 
w'gons is the trace of the polar plane of the point through which 
the closing chords of the inscribable open rc'gons all pass. 

When we reduce the problem to the inscription of closed 
2'gons whose sides are required to pass through 2 known points, 
and that these points are co-incident, then we know that the 
problem of the inscription of the closed ra'gons is fully porismatic. 

ll^p I need scarcely state that the method of solution just 
indicated is complete, though it is obvious there are many peculiar 
states of the data from which we can at once pronounce on the 
nature of the solution without going through all the indicated 
operations or processes. 


Analysis of a second method of solution. 

From theorems 9 and 16 we learn that according as we can 
inscribe one open 2 w'gon or one closed 2 w'gon, so will the 
problem of the inscription of the closed w'gons be non-porismatic 
or partially porismatic. 

When the data is in the non-porismatic state, it is evident 
that if we inscribe an open 2 n'gon, and draw the plane which 
contains its extremities and the first point of its n -f 1 th side ; and 
that we then inscribe another open 2 w'gon whose first extremity 
is not in this plane ; then will the plane through the extremities 
and first point of the n + 1 th side of this last 2 w'gon cut the 
other plane in a straight line xx which pierces the surface in the 
points (real or imaginary as may be) which are the answerable 
positions for the first extremities of the inscribable closed 

When we can inscribe a closed 2 w'gon ; it is evident that we 
can inscribe open w'gons, and that the closing chords of these will 
intersect in a point the trace of whose polar plane is the locus of 
the answerable positions for the first extremities of the closed 

When the problem is fully porismatic, the fact will be intima- 
ted to us by our being enabled to inscribe 4 closed w'gons whose 
first extremities are not all in one plane. 

^g^ This method of solution is also complete, and is applica- 
ble to the following more general problem : " Given a surface S 
of the second degree, and n entities in prescribed order, each entity 
being either a given point, or a conicoid having double contact with S; 
to inscribe in the surface S closed n'ffons such that each side of each 
rigon ic ill meet with the entity of the series ivhich is of like rank in 
the series with such side in the rigon, and in such a manner as to 
pass through the entity if it be a point, or to be tangent of certain 
prescribable rotative to the trace made on the conicoid by a plane 
containing the Jirst point of such side and the line of contact of the 
conicoid ivith S if it be a conicoid" 

Third Method of Solution. 
The following method of finding the first extremities of the 


inscribable closed %'gons is applicable to the more general pro- 
blem when the data is in the non-porismatic state : 

Inscribe three w'gons such that the first extremity of the 
second ^'gon coincides with the final extremity of the first w'gon, 
and that the first extremity of the third n'gon coincides with the 
final extremity of the second w'gon ; draw the plane which con- 
tains the extremities of these ^'gons, and find its trace on the 
given surface ; find i the point of intersection of the straight 
line through the first extremity of the first %'gon and the final 
extremity of the second %'gon with the tangent line to the trace 
at the junction of these ^'gons ; find k the point of intersection 
of the straight line through the first extremity of the second 
??.'gon and final extremity of the third w'gon with the tangent 
line to the trace at the junction of these w'gons : then will the 
points in which the straight line ik pierces the surface be the 
answerable positions for the first extremities of the closed w'gons. 
The proof is obyious from theorem 8, and the properties of the 
homographic figures in which the extremities of the w'goiis are 
corresponding points. 

21. Various simple solutions can be given to the problem 
when all the entities are points and that the surface is either 
spherical, cylindrical or conical. However their exhibition re- 
quires much more room than can be accorded in this paper, so 
that I will finish by showing how theorem 5 can be arrived at 
when the surface is spherical. 

22. When the surface is spherical and the entities o v o^....o n 
all points, we can easily derive theorem 5 independently of 
homologic or homographic considerations. 

Thus. Let d t ^^ n+1 be any variable inscribed w'gon ; 
and let ^ 2 . . . a n+v ^ ft a . . . . # n+1 , ^ a .... c w+ i> b thl *ee rc'gons 
(inscribed at random). 

From similar triangles we immediately deduce the following 
relations : 


2 ' ( 

From these we at once obtain the relation 

(d, M 2 (d ,h \ 2 (c b\* (c , b ,Y 

\ 1 I/ V +l +!/ \ 1 I/ \ +l n+iy 

And now since the square of a chord of a sphere is equal to 
the product of the diameter and the perpendicular let fall from 
one extremity of the chord on the tangent plane at the other 
extremity, we perceive (from the last formula) that the following 
relation (adopting the notation employed in theorem 5) subsists, 

rf l A l d n+V A +l C I> A l C n+l> A + l 



Sir William Hamilton, the Astronomer Bo} T al of Ireland, has 
given much attention to the problem of this paper. He pub- 
lished the results of his researches in the Philosophical Magazine 
for July 1849, and afterwards drew the attention of the Mathe- 
matical Section of the British Association to the subject. He 
succeeded in solving only the particular case in which the sur- 
face is an ellipsoid and the closed n'gon even sided. 

It seems that his " Quaternion " and other symbolical methods 
led him to infer that independent of the two positions for the 
first angular points of the closed w'gons, which may be real or 
imaginary according to peculiar states of the data, there are also 



two necessarily imaginary positions. But it is clearly evident 
from this paper that such is not the case ; and that his symbo- 
lical analysis labours under the defect of grasping some extra- 
neous kindred problem. However, Sir William's method led 
him to discover theorem 27 as respects the particular state of 
the data considered : but he does not seem to have observed 
that the closing chords are all in plane with the line of contact 
of the surfaces. 

The solutions which I give to the general problem are ex- 
tremely simple ; and the numerous new and beautiful theorems 
unfolded bear testimony to the power of the system of " Geome- 
tric Superieure " of the modern French School. 

On the desirability of a systematic search for, and observation 
of variable stars in the Southern Hemisphere, by ME. 

[Read August 13th. 1862.] 

THE department of Astronomy relating to variable stars was 
very little followed up before the middle of the present century. 
The most complete catalogue that I have yet seen of such objects 
is that contained in Mr. George F. Chambers' admirable hand- 
book of Astronomy, published at the close of last year. It 
comprises 99 stars. Of 22 the dates of discovery are not given, 
18 were discovered previous to 1800, and the remaining 59 were 
discovered during the present century. If we divide the elapsed 
portion of the present century into periods of ten years, we shall 


find the following table for the number of variable stars dis- 
covered in each period : 

Periods . discovered . 

18111800 2 


18311821 4 

18411831 4 

18511841 18 

18611851 31 

Total 59 

It will be observed from the above statement, that within the 
last twenty, and especially within the last ten years, the zeal of 
Astronomers in this department of research has been rapidly 
increasing. Observations of variable stars furnish employment 
for some of the most distinguished Astronomers of Europe, and 
as a consequence, we frequently find communications with 
reference to such objects in the pages of that valuable scientific 
journal, the Astronomische Naclirichten. Now, considering the 
additions to our knowledge in this department of Astronomy 
which have been made during the past twenty years, and are con- 
stantly being made by Northern observers ; and, also, taking into 
account the fact that so few stars of high south declination are 
to be found in the catalogue, the question might well be asked, 
how is it that so little has been done for the cause in this hemis- 
phere ? Surely we are not to suppose that our Southern heavens 
do not furni&h as fertile a field for such discoveries as the 
Northern Hemisphere does. This scarcity of results does not pro- 
ceed from any peculiar barrenness of the Southern heavens, but 
rather from the great want of Southern observers. On an ex- 
amination of the above npntioned catalogue, it will be seen that 
out of the 99 stars that it contains, 25 only are situated in the 
Southern Hemisphere, and of these only two are south of the 
23rd parallel of declination, namely : Eta (77) Argus, and Kappa 
(/c) Corona Australis. I may, however, remark that the star B. 
A. C. 5656, not contained in that catalogue, is variable, on the 
authority of the British Association Catalogue. Of Eta (77) Argus 
I shall speak presently, suffice it just now to say that it is one of 


the most, if not the most remarkable, in the whole heavens. It 
cannot be expected that this -department of the science can receive 
many accessions at the hands of professional Astronomers in this 
Hemisphere, they being too much occupied with the advance- 
ment of standard astronomy to devote much time to the search 
for variable stars. It is, however, a department in which a great 
deal might be done by amateurs. Intelligent persons, even if 
unprovided with instrumental means, might, by means of good 
eyes, work with considerable advantage, so far as the observa- 
tion of stars from the first to the fifth magnitude is concerned. 
Observation of fainter stars will, of course, require telescopic aid, 
and it sometimes happens that a star, which at its maximum is a 
brilliant object to the naked eye, dwindles to a telescopic object 
as it advances towards its minimum. But telescopes of three or 
four inches aperture would be of great assistance, and these are 
within the means of many amateurs. I shall now treat of my 
subject under three different heads, namely : 

I. The observation of particular stars known to be variable. 

II. The examination of stars suspected to be variable. 

III. A general survey and comparison of all the stars of the 
Southern Hemisphere. 

And first, the observation of Stars known to be variable. 
This course of observation should be pursued in order to deter- 
mine with increased accuracy the law or progress of increase and 
decrease of their lustre, together with the exact epochs of their 
maxima and minima. Mr. Pogson, the present director of the 
Madras Observatory, who has hitherto taken much interest in 
this department of Astronomy, forwards periodically to the 
AstronomiscJie Nachrichten ephemerides of the observed variable 
stars to assist observers in their researches. We must not infer 
from the fact of a star being observed to go through its varia- 
tions in a certain period that it will continue to do so. Some of 
the stars that were originally thought to undergo fluctuations of 
brightness in regular periods have been found from continuous 
observation to go through those variations in irregular intervals 
of time. Thus I may instance the case of the distinguished star 
Algol in the constellation Perseus, From careful continuous 


observation of this star by Argelander, Heis, and Schmidt, its 
period is found to be shorter now than when it was first dis- 

The period is found to diminish, not progressively, but with 
accelerated rapidity. It is impossible to foresee what the final 
result of this gradual diminution will be. The star may even- 
tually become of constant lustre, or its period, after having arrived 
at a certain state, may again lengthen with accelerated rapidity. 
The law and cycles of its variations have, of course, to be deter- 
mined from a long course of future observation. There are also 
great apparent irregularities attending the variations of Omicron 
(o) Ceti, another remarkable star in the class we are considering. 
The maximum of this star for 1862, according to Pogson's 
Ephemeris, occurred on July 3rd, its magnitude then being the 
second ; it is well known that at its minimum it becomes invisible 
to the naked eye. It is a star which commends itself to the 
close attention of Southern observers. Although it is within 
reach of European observers, still the conditions under which 
it is seen by most of them are not so favourable as those under 
which it is seen in this latitude. Few Northern observers have 
the advantage of clear skies like those of Australia. No observa' 
tions, perhaps, are more difficult of accurate performance than 
those attending variable stars, both on account of the many 
sources of error to which they are liable, and because so much 
depends on the observer's judgment. The more numerous, then? 
the observers of a particular star, the greater reliance is to be 
placed on the general result. Every variable star should, if 
possible, be observed about the time of its superior meridian 
transit, as atmospheric causes interfere much with the accuracy 
of the results. I should be trespassing beyond the limits of a 
paper were I to enter into a description of all the known variable 
stars ; it will be sufficient to give a table of those which are ad- 
vantageously situated for observation in this hemisphere. Such 
a table will be found appended to this paper. But after having 
spoken of Algol aud Mira Ceti, I must not forget to say a few 
words with reference to our remarkable Southern star Eta (77) 
Argus, which more nearly concerns us in this latitude. This 
star has, for the last thirty-five years, been known to be variable. 


The following extract, from Sir John HersehelPs " Outlines of 
Astronomy," shows the changes that have been recorded of it 
previous to 1844 : 

" In the time of Halley (1677) it appeared as a star of the 
fourth magnitude. Lacaille, in 1751, observed it of the second. 
In the interval from 1811 to 1815 it was again of the fourth ; 
and again, from 1822 to 1826, of the second. On the 1st of 
February, 1827, it was noticed by Mr. Burchell to have increased 
to the first magnitude, and to equal Alpha (a) Crucis. Thence, 
again, it receded to the second ; and so continued until the end 
of 1837. All at once, in the beginning of 1838, it suddenly 
increased in lustre so as to surpass all the stars of the first 
magnitude except Sirius, Canopus, and Alpha (a) Centauri, which 
last star it nearly equalled. Thence, it again diminished, but 
this time not below the first magnitude until April, 1843, when 
it had again increased so as to surpass Canopus, and nearly equal 
Sirius in splendour." 

I have myself watched the variations of this star for some 
years past with considerable interest. In 1854 it was a very 
conspicuous object west of the Southern Cross, equilibrating 
as it were the two bright stars of the Centaur with that con- 
stellation. The most casual observer of the heavens might now 
miss the bright object which was then so conspicuous. The 
following comparisons, made by me in July of that year, may be 
interesting in conjunction with the present insignificant ap- 
pearance of the star : Of Alpha (a) Centauri, Beta (/3) Centauri, 
Alpha (a) Crucis, and Eta (77) Argus, the first was by far the 
brightest. Beta (/5) Centauri and Eta (77) Argus were about 
equal in brilliancy. It was difficult to judge of the comparative 
brightness of these two, but I considered the latter to be somewhat 
the brighter. Eta (77) Argus was somewhat brighter than Alpha 
(a) Crucis. The star in question now appears as one of ftbout 
the 4| magnitude. A marked diminution of its lustre has taken 
place since May, 1860. About that time I pointed out to the 
Rev. W. Scott, the Government Astronomer, the remarkable 
changes that had taken place in its lustre ; and at his recommen- 
dation I compared its magnitude with stars within range of the 
European observatories. I found some difficulty in making this 


comparison, owing to the stars being situated in different parts 
of the heavens, my observations being made without the assistance 
of an astrometer. From very careful comparisons, however, I 
considered its lustre to be equal to that of Beta (/3) Canis 
Minoris. I, at the same time, compared it with Delta (B) Crucis 
and Theta (0) Argus, to which I found it equal. This latter 
estimate may be considered as accurate as can be formed by the 
unaided judgment, the stars of comparison being moreover in 
the same part of the heavens. At the close of January, of the 
present year, I compared Eta (if) Argus with Sigma (<r) Orionis, 
u Carinae, Theta (6) Argus, and Beta (/3) Canis Minoris. It 
was not so bright as the last mentioned two ; the difference 
between it and Sigma (cr) Orionis was scarcely perceptible, 
though the latter may have been somewhat the brighter. It 
appeared to be exactly equal to u CarinaB, which is a small star 
distant about a degree and a half from it in a north-easterly 
direction. From observations during last month, I find that its 
magnitude is perceptibly less than that of u Carina3, which, being 
very close to it, can easily and accurately be compared with it. I 
have not contented myself with a comparison between it and one 
or two stars near it, but have extended my observations to several 
others, in order to avoid any errors which might arise from the 
standard of comparison itself being variable. I am devoting 
considerable attention to this star, with a view to the 
determination of its time of minimum, magnitude at 
minimum, and ratio of decrease and increase. It is very 
probable that the minimum is not far distant ; the time 
however, cannot be predicted, as the changes of this star have 
hitherto been very irregular. From what has been said it 
appears that Eta (77) Argus is one of the most interesting of the 
class to which it belongs, and deserves continuous and close 
observation. So far as the contrast between its maximum and 
minimum magnitudes is concerned it may be regarded as the 
Algol of the Southern Hemisphere. It appears from the notices 
of the Royal Astronomical Society for February last that the 
variations of Eta (rj} Argus have been made the subject of papers 
by Mr. Abbott and Mr. Powell read before the Society. It is a 
remarkable fact that the variable character of this star has so far 


escaped the knowledge of Mr. Hind, the celebrated Astronomer 
and superintendent of the Nautical Almanac, as to be still 
denoted in that valuable work as a star of the second magnitude. 
Several stars of a character far less marked are designated in 
that work as variable. The other variable stars of high south 
declination are Kappa (K) Corona? Australis, and B.A. C. 5656. 
The former was discovered to be variable by Halley, in 1676. 
The latter is variable on the authority of the British Association 
catalogue : it is one of the stars forming the tail of the Scorpion, 
and is, like Eta (T?) Argus, situated within the Via Lactea. I 
have no knowledge of its period and limits of variation, It does 
not appear to have been observed by Lacaille. 

II. The next subject to which I would direct your attention 
is the examination of stars suspected to be variable. In the 
Astronomische Nachrichten, No. 1311, May 29, 1861, is a com- 
munication from M. Secchi, an Astronomer at Rome, from which 
I give the following extract : 

" On m'ecrit du Chili que 1'etoile Canopus brille actuellement 
d'un eclat qui plusieurs fois est superieur a Sirius : cela prouverait 
une variabilite." 

It appears, then, that our bright star Canopus has surpassed 
Sirius even in splendour. M. Secchi does not give his authority, 
nor is his statement accompanied by any definite observations. 
I have not hitherto paid much attention to the subject of variable 
stars, but it occurs to me that I have often been struck with the 
great brilliancy of Canopus, and I believe I have even given 
expression to my thoughts on the subject. I have not, however, 
instituted any comparisons between it and Sirius. It was only 
very recently that I became aware of M. Secchi's communication, 
so that I was unable to verify the statement, Sirius being then too 
near the -vapours of the horizon to afford a trustworthy com- 
parison. I trust to be able to make some comparisons in the 
course of a short time. Canopus may, therefore, at least be re- 
garded as belonging to the class of stars suspected to be variable. 
There are some circumstances connected with the conspicuous 
star Beta (/9) Argus, which should make it the subject of careful 
observation. The catalogue of the British Association imitating, 
I presume, that of Lacaille, represents this star as of the first 


magnitude ; whereas, it is at the present time only an average 
star of the second magnitude, being about equal to Alpha (a) 
Trianguli Australis. It was observed by Taylor, Brisbane, 
Johnson, and Rumker; but I cannot speak as to their estimation 
of its magnitude, as I have not their catalogues at my command. 
According to the photometric observations made by Sir John 
Herschell at the Cape of (rood Hope, its magnitude was some- 
what greater than that of Alpha (a) Trianguli Australis. I 
cannot for a moment suppose that Lacaille committed an error in 
recording Beta (/3) Argus in 1751 as of the first magnitude. 
Considering, then, the circumstances connected with this star, we 
may regard it also as belonging to the list of stars suspected to 
be variable. There are other Southern stars which might well 
claim attention if the magnitudes assigned to them in the 
catalogues of Lacaille and the British Association are to be relied 

I shall here advert to an interesting discovery which I made 
on the evening of the 25th July, and which suggests the conclu- 
sion that Eta (77) Argus is not the only variable star in that part 
of the heavens which it occupies. On comparing the stars of the 
sixth magnitude in its neighbourhood with a chart constructed 
from data afforded by the British Association catalogue, I was 
struck with the fact that B.A.C. 3679, a star of the sixth magni- 
tude, had vanished from its place in the heavens. At all events 
it was not visible in my telescope of 3J inches aperture, which is 
capable of showing stars down to the ninth and tenth magni- 
tudes. Instead also of finding both B.A.C. 3680 and 3683, I 
could distinguish one only. The distance between these two stars, 
according to the catalogue just mentioned, is rather more than a 
minute of arc, a quantity appreciable in a small telescope, yet an 
instrument furnished with a power of 120, and capable of separa- 
ting easily Alpha (a) Crucis and Alpha (a) Centuri exhibited the 
star under the single aspect. Possibly B.A.C. 3680 and 3683 
may be members of a double star and now in the same visual 
line. This is a subject which I should like to have investigated 
by means of the large equatorial telescope of the Observatory. 
The only remaining star of the three in question is situated about 
half a degree north-west of Eta (77) Argus, and is surrounded 


with several stars of the ninth or tenth magnitude. That all three of 
the stars formerly existed there can be no doubt, for B.A.C. 3679 
and 3683 were observed by Taylor and Brisbane, and B.A.C. 
3680 by those two observers and also by Lacaille. 

III. I will now direct your attention to the desirability of a 
complete naked eye examination of all the stars in the Southern 
Hemisphere to the fifth magnitude. As a general rule the best 
months for comparison observations in this latitude are May, 
June, and July ; the atmosphere at that period of the year being 
peculiarly steady and transparent ; observations should, however, 
be made at all available opportunities, as variable stars of short 
period might thus be earlier detected. The stars at the time of 
comparison should be at a considerable altitude. In my short 
experience I have found that a star, as it approached the horizon, 
sometimes became fainter and at other times brighter. The 
former effect is probably produced by thin clouds near the hori- 
zon, the latter by diffused particles of matter in the atmosphere 
causing the well-known phenomenon of scintillation, which is 
very apt to produce an exaggerated impression of its lustre on 
the judgment of the observer. Care should be exercised that 
the portions of the heavens occupied by the compared stars be 
equally clear, as inequality in that respect might seriously affect 
the results. Comparisons should also be repeated at different 
hours on the same night, in order to the elimination of any errors 
which might arise from the source just mentioned. Attention 
should also be paid to the position of the moon on the nights of 
observation. It is well known that an observer's estimate of the 
brilliancy of a star is considerably influenced by the degree of 
illumination of the sky on which it is projected ; consequently he 
should not compare stars in the neighbourhood of the moon with 
those more remote from her. An inexperienced observer would 
hardly credit the amount of error incurred by a neglect of these 
precautions. The observer must, in fact, in this, as in every 
other department of Astronomy, pay the most scrupulous atten- 
tion to all probable sources of error. In instituting a set of 
naked-eye comparisons, a number of standard stars must be 
selected for the epoch, in a descending scale of magnitude, from 
the star of the greatest brilliancy to one that can only be 


perceived with difficulty by the naked eye ; the difference 
between any two consecutive magnitudes should be so small as 
not to admit with accuracy of any intermediate order of magni- 
tude. All the other stars should then be arranged under the 
standard stars to which they are respectively considered to be 
equal. A mere isolated comparison of two stars, without refer- 
ence to other stars of the. same class, and to the higher and 
lower orders of magnitude, would hereafter leave the observer in 
doubt as to which of the two stars was the variable one, and as 
to their limits of magnitude. In making a series of comparisons 
recourse might be had to the very simple and inexpensive 
astrometer devised and employed by Sir John Herschell at the 
Cape of Good Hope. A description of this instrument may be 
found in his " Outlines of Astronomy," or in his " Results of 
Observations made at the Cape of Good Hope," &c. To those 
amateurs who would undertake a comparison of the stars in the 
Southern Hemisphere, a study of Sir John Herschell's " Method 
of Sequences " will be profitable, and the results of the labours of 
that great authority valuable for reference. 

A new and interesting feature iii the department of stellar 
astronomy has, I believe, been brought to light by the observations 
of Mr. Abbott, of Tasmania, as the following extract from the 
Herald, of June 23rd last will show : 

" At a meeting of the Royal Society of Tasmania, on the 3rd 
instant, Mr. Abbott read some notes on a drawing of the ' cluster 
of coloured stars surrounding Kappa (/c) Crucis,' the object being 
to show that considerable alteration had taken place both in the 
position and colouring of its component stars since it was observed 
by Sir John Herschell at the Cape of Good Hope." 

If the component stars of the cluster Kappa (/e) Crucis have 
really undergone changes in their position and colouring, surely it 
is a discovery of the highest interest in stellar astronomy. May 
we regard the cluster in question as a system of coloured suns, 
revolving round their common centre of gravity, thus adding one 
more example to the known variety and beauty of the Great 
Creator's works ? 

It would be foreign to the object of this paper for me to enter 
into any speculations regarding the causes of the phenomena of 


variable stars. Observations of such objects have been too few 
and disconnected to admit of our forming any satisfactory 
hypothesis. My object is to draw attention to this department of 
Astronomy, in order, if possible, to induce some to follow it up more 
systematically in this hemisphere. I trust my humble efforts 
may succeed. Searching for variable stars and observing them, 
may appear a useless labour to the minds of some persons ; but 
we must remember that in the history of Astronomy many re- 
searches, which at the outset appeared to be fraught with no 
great result, eventually contributed much to the advancement of 
the science. Let us contemplate the grand fact, that within the 
past seventeen years 68 planets have been discovered between 
the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Or again, let us consider what 
delicate instruments of inquiry comets have become. The cele- 
brated periodical comet of Encke has not only informed us of the 
extreme probability of a resisting medium in the interplanetary 
spaces, but has also afforded us the means of determining with 
unprecedented accuracy, the mass of the planet Mercury. And 
great results may be predicted for the branch of science we have 
been treating of. The inquirer, in any department of the science, 
must not be discouraged in his efforts because he cannot see 
grand results looming in the future. The experience of Astrono- 
mers for ages past he must make his own, and it will teach him 
to press onward to the invisible goal. Faith, in fact, must be an 
ingredient in the intellectual constitution of the scientific man, 
as it is in the spiritual constitution of the religious man. It is 
sufficient that observers work zealously and intelligently in any 
field that may be open to them ; or, rather, in those fields for 
which they are respectively peculiarly fitted, and the future will 
be certain to bring forth some not only interesting, but valuable 
result. A high authority has said " In all labour there is profit." 
Let this, then, be the motto of the observer, and if he adhere to 
it he need not despair of .eventual success. 







Change of 

Times of 
[axima, accord- 
ing to Pogson's 
for 1862. 
Astr. Nach. 
Xo 1350. 

E. A. 


T Piscium i 

li. m. s. 
24 46 

1 10 15 
1 23 25 
2 12 17 
3 52 55 
4 20 38 
4 21 32 
4 51 22 
4 53 14 
5 47 36 

7 1 

7 25 7 
8 8 57 
8 46 16 

8 48 51 

9 20 42 
9 40 2 

10 39 38 
12 31 24 

12 44 
12 26 33 
13 20 36 

13 22 4 
13 25 42 

14 44 39 
15 45 40 

16 9 19 
16 9 20 

16 25 43 
16 26 12 
16 51 39 
16 59 44 
18 21 59 
18 23 48 

O ' 

+ 13 46 

+ 8 11 
+ 29 
3 37 
+ 12 5 
+ 9 51 
+ 9 38 
+ 7 55 
15 2 
+ 7 23 

+ 10 14 

+ 8 37 
+ 12 7 
+ 3 36 

8 37 

+ 12 5 

58 56 
+ 7 46 

+ 6 19 
8 40 

2 28 

22 33 
6 28 

11 45 
15 49 

22 35 
22 33 

15 49 
16 52 
12 40 
15 54 
+ 6 12 
; 38 49 

242 + 

327 f 

196* + 






8m. + 






from to 
9.5 11 

9 13 
2 12 
4 4.5 
8 13.5 
9 12.5 
1 1.5 

8 10 

6 10 
8.5 13.5 

6.5 10.5 

2.5 3 
5 10 

1 4 
6.5 11 



4 10 
6 11 

8 9.5 

5 12 

7 10 
9.3 13.5 
4.5 13.5 
7.6 13 
11 14 
3 6 

April 24. 
Sept. 14. 

July 3. 

May 7. 
March 11. 
June 19. 

Jan. 9. 
July 24. 
April, un- 
July 3. 
Jan. 17. 
Jan. 22. 
Oct. 5. 
Feb. 22. 
Dec. 11. 

Oct. 13. 
min. 10-0 
May 29. 

Jan. 1. 
May 27. 
Oct. 19. 
July 28. 

Not until 
Feb., 1863. 
May 21, 
min. 11-0 
Nov. 17. 

April, un- 
April, very 
April, un- 

August 5. 
June 25. 

S Piscium 

It Piscium .... 

o Cceti 

X Tauri 

R Tauri 

S Tauri 

S Orionis .... 

E Canis Minoris .... 

S Canis Minoris .... 
E Cancri 

S Hydrse 


n Argus . . 

_g Virginis . . ... 

21 Virginis 


It M Hvdrse . . 

* in Libra 

fi Librae 

It Scornii 

S Scorpii 

* in Ophiuchus 

S Ophiuchi 

Hind' s Nova (1848).. 

* in Serpens 

K Coronae Australis . . 






Change of 

Times of 
Maxima, accord- 
ing to Pogson's 

E. A. 


for 1862. 
Asir. Nach. 
No. 1350. 

JR Scuti Sobieskii .... 

It Aquilaa 
JS Sagittarii 

18 40 1 

18 59 38 
19 8 28 

5 50 

+ 8 1 
19 33 




5 9 

8 12.8 

Jan. 8. 
March 21. 
May 31. 
Aug. 11. 
Oct. 26. 
May, un- 
May 19 

S Sagittarii 

19 11 14 

19 16 


i] Aquilse . . 

19 45 9 

_j_ 38 

7 18 

36 44 

20 3 28 

14 41 

95 13 5 

Sep 25 

20 40 22 

15 18 


10 5 13 


T Capricorn! 

21 14 13 

15 45 


Q 14 


Tnlv 2fi 

S Pegasi 

22 15 9 

JL. 7 19 

85 135 

* in Aquarius 

22 21 

10 42 


It Pe^asi 

22 59 37 

19 46 


85 135 

April 28 

23 37 15 

16 3 


7 10 

June 28 


Since the preceding Paper was written I have obtained the 
following ring-micrometer observations of the star of the sixth 
magnitude, about half a degree north-west of Eta (77) Argus, 
which afford satisfactory proof that it is B. A. C. 3680. 



B. A. C. 3680 Star 
of Comp. 

Resulting Mean 

R. A 


R. A. of 
B.A. C. 


Declin. of 
B. A. C. 


Aug. 4. 

B. A. C. 3655. 

m. s. 
f 3 50-6 
f 3 50-6 
f 3 51-6 
t 3 50-6 

m. s. 
1 41 
1 43 

Mean re- 
sult .... 

h.. m. s. 
10 37 21-7 
10 37 21-7 
10 37 227 
10 37 21-7 

deg. m. s. 
58 29 48 
58 29 50 

10 37 21-9 

58 29 49 

Aug. 7. 

B. A. C. 3655. 
B.A.C. 3721. 

f 3 50-6 
f 3 50-6 
t 3 61-1 
f 3 50-1 
6 37-1 
6 37-1 

1 47 
1 53 
1 47 
1 44 

Mean re- 

10 37 21-7 
10 37 21-7 
10 37 22-2 
10 37 21-2 
10 37 20-9 
10 37 20-9 

58 29 54 
58 30 
58 29 54 
58 29 51 

10 37 21-4 

58 29 55 

NOTE. Where the difference of declination is not given, it is to be understood that one of the stars 
crossed the ring too near its ceatre to afford a trustworthy determination of difference. 



B. A. C. 3655 E. A. = 10 33 31-1 Declin. = 58 28 7 
B. A. C. 3721 E. A. = 10 43 58-0 Declin. = 58 35 44 



B. A. C. 3679 E. A. = 10 37 22-1 Declin. = 58 34 46 
B.A. C. 3680 E.A. = 10 37 22-2 Declin. = 58 29 39 
B.A.C. 3683 E.A, = 10 37 30-1 Declin. =58 29 45 

Since my arrival in Sydney to-day, the Rev. Mr. Scott has 
kindly drawn my attention to Mr. Maclear's report of a " Com- 
parison of the Southern Stars of the B. A. Catalogue with the 
Heavens, made at the Cape of Good Hope," which report is 
published in the 20th volume of the " Memoirs of the Royal 
Astronomical Society." It contains the following note with 
reference to the stars B. A. C. 3679 and 3683 : 

" There are no stars in the catalogue positions. The modern 
authorities are Taylor and Brisbane, but Taylor gives no polar 
distance of 3679, and his position of 3683, is approximate. They 
will agree with B. A. C. 3680, by assuming an error of 5 minutes 
of arc, and of 10 seconds of time respectively in the places of 
Brisbane, 3174 and 3177." 

From this it will be seen that the observations of Taylor and 
Brisbane most probably refer to B. A. C. 3680. I regret I had 
not the " Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society " at com- 
mand when engaged in the composition of my paper. The only 
works I had for reference on the point were the catalogues of 
Lacaille and the British Association. 

On the Comet of September ]862. No. 1. 

[Eead October 8th, 1862.] 

THE object of the present paper is to furnish the members of 
the society with some popular information respecting the comet 
which has been visible during the past month. The paper is a 
short one, owing to the whole of my available time having been 
occupied in making and reducing observations and performing 
other necessary calculations. So far as I can learn from the 
newspapers, the comet appears to have been seen at Brisbane 
in the neighbouring colony of Queensland, at the close of the 
last week in August. A letter from Mr. Biden, dated from the 
ship " Stornoway," and also a telegram from Brisbane appeared 
in the Herald of the 1st ultimo, announcing its visibility. I may 
here remark, in passing, that when a comet makes its appearance, 
the fact should, if possible, be at once communicated to those 
stations where the instruments necessary for observation are 
located, in order to ensure complete and accurate observation of 
the stranger while it is within reach of the telescope. It was 
through a neglect of these precautions that a large comet seen 
at Brisbane in the beginning of November last, altogether escaped 
observation, so that we remain in utter ignorance of the elements 
of its orbit. But to return to our subject. On seeing the an- 
nouncement in the Herald, I made preparations for observing the 
new visitor with the best instrumental means at command. This 
consisted of a telescope of 3 J inches aperture and 4 feet focal length, 
provided with a ring-micrometer constructed by Mr. Tornaghi of 
Sydney. The comet was first detected with the naked eye afc 
twenty-six minutes past six o'clock on the evening of the 1st, the 
twilight being pretty strong at the time. This circumstance 
proved our new visitor to be one of more than ordinary brilliancy. 
As the twilight declined the comet's head became, of course, 
more distinct, but no portion of the tail could be distinguished 
with the naked eye, owing to the presence of the moon, then in 
her first quarter, and shining brightly. The comet would have 


been in every way well situated to serve as a striking object, 
were it not for the unfortunate circumstance that the moon was 
approaching her opposition ; altogether it does not appear to 
have attracted much attention. Mr. Biden mentions in his 
letter that the comet's tail was about five degrees in length, but 
then he saw it under more favourable circumstances, namely, 
when the moon was comparatively young. On the evening of 
the 1st the nucleus was about equal to a star of the fourth magni- 
tude. It was of a dull lead colour, large, and of a very elliptical 
form, but not of a character calculated to afford very precise 
determinations of position. A conspicuous star of the sixth 
magnitude was fortunately found near the comet, which served 
as a standard of comparison. The observations of that evening 
gave the following result : 

September 1st, 7h. 33m. 13s., Windsor M.T. R.A. 15h. 
46m. 53.8s. Declination, 20 28' 32" N. This corresponds to 
a position a little south of or above the constellation Corona 
Borealis. Comparisons, repeated at short intervals, showed that 
the comet was moving slowly in right ascension, but very rapidly 
in declination. The rapid movement of the comet thus indicated 
gave ground for hope that observations extending over a few 
days would afford a tolerable approximation to the orbit. This, 
you will remember, was not the case with the great comet of last 
year ; that body moved over a space of only a few minutes of a 
degree during the week succeeding its discovery, so that nearly 
a month elapsed before a determination of the orbit could be 
attempted. Such was also the case of Donati's comet of 1858. 
On the following evening (the 2nd), the comet was found to 
have moved between five and six degrees in declination, and in a 
direction nearly due south. On this occasion it presented a 
rather curious aspect in my telescope. The nucleus was more 
distinct than on the preceding evening, but it appeared as two 
bright points connected by a slender thread of light. I was at 
first disposed to regard this phenomenon as the result of some 
defect in the object-glass of the telescope, but was soon satisfied 
that such could not be the case. The Rev. C. F. Garnsey, of 
Windsor, assures me that he observed the same phenomenon 
some days later, but with a telescope of smaller dimensions. 



The line connecting the two nuclei appeared to be nearly coin- 
cident with a parallel of declination, having, in fact, the same 
direction as the major axis of the large elliptical nucleus of the 
preceding evening. On the evening of the 3rd the nucleus was 
scarcely distinguishable, in consequence partly of the increase 
of the moon's light, partly of the increase of the comet's distance 
from both the earth and the sun, and partly of the haziness of 
the atmosphere. The evening of the 4th was very cloudy. The 
clouds broke once and revealed the comet, but it again clouded 
over before I could make any observation. Some good observa- 
tions were made on the 5th, but the stars of comparison cannot 
be identified with any in the catalogues in my possession. The 
comet's nucleus on this occasion was much more sharply denned, 
and presented a very interesting appearance. It appeared single, 
but there extended from it a narrow beam of light in the direc- 
tion of the sun. The beam gradually increased in breadth as it 
extended from the nucleus, and resembled that seen on July 4th, 
1861, in the great comet of that year, by the Rev. T. W. Webb, 
of Hardwick, Herefordshire, England. I estimated it to be 
about two minutes of arc in length. The physical changes of the 
comet during the first week of September were remarkable, and 
an account of them will be awaited with interest from those 
possessed of more powerful instrumental means. The nebulosity 
surrounding the nucleus was pretty extensive, being upwards of 
six or eight minutes in diameter. The observations of the first 
three evenings being carefully reduced, a process rather trouble- 
some, owing to the rapid movement of the comet in declination, 
the calculation of the orbit was immediately proceeded with. Mr. 
Hawkins of Goulburn, published an approximation on the 13th, 
which, though based on rough observations, was sufficiently ac- 
curate to show that the comet was not to be identified with any 
whose elements had hitherto been computed. On the 16th, my 
first approximation appeared as deduced from the observations of 
the first three evenings. [See the set of elements marked I., at 
the end of this paper.] These were found to represent the obser- 
vations of the 7th within a few seconds of arc ; those of the llth, 
within about three minutes ; and, finally, on the 1 7th, the dis- 
crepancy between the observed and computed places amounted 


to upwards of a degree. I accordingly proceeded to a closer approxi- 
mation founded on the observations of the 1st, llth, and 20th, and 
arrived at the second set of elements here given. I have not yet 
had an opportunity of comparing these elements with the inter- 
mediate observations, but hope to be able to do so in time for the 
next meeting of the Society. On the whole, I think set II. will 
be found to be as close an approximation as can be obtained 
from the first three weeks observations unconnected for parallax. 
I hope to be able to enter more at length into the subject when 
the observations of the comet have been completed and fully 
reduced. I shall also then have an opportunity of comparing 
the results with those derived from the more accurate and 
extended observations of European and American astronomers. 
No notice of the discovery of the comet has appeared in the 
Astronomisclie Nacliricliten up to the 14th June, the latest date 
received ; but in the Illustrated London News of July 12th, I find 
the following item of news : 

" A new comet was discovered on the 3rd instant at Marseilles, 
by M. Tempel, in the constellation Cassiopea. It is rapidly 
journeying towards the polar star, and will soon, it is believed, 
be visible to the naked eye." 

On calculating back for Greenwich mean midnight, July 3rd, 
from elements II, I obtain the following for the apparent place 
of the comet : R, A., = 76| degrees ; declination = 64 degrees 

This position is on the confines of the constellation Cassiopea, 
so I think there can be little doubt that the comet discovered by 
M. Tempel is the same as that which is now the subject of 
observation here. The next mail from England will probably 
satisfy us on that point. From the date of discovery till about a 
week before it became generally visible here, the comet was 
traversing the northern hemisphere beneath our horizon. 

I will now give a few interesting particulars, founded on the 
elements. The comet when first seen, on the evening of the 1st, 
was distant about thirty-three millions of miles from the earth, 
and was slowly receding from us. It passed its perihelion on 
the evening of the 23rd August, its distance from the sun then 
being ninety-one and a-half millions of miles. There is no comet 


in the tables to whose elements those of the present one bear a 
complete resemblance. There is a rough coincidence between 
its perihelion distance, position of orbit-plane, and direction of 
heliocentric motion, and the corresponding elements of the great 
comet of 1811 ; the greater axes of the two orbits are, however, 
at right angles to each other. The most remarkable feature of 
the orbit of the present comet is the fact that it nearly intersects 
that of the earth at the descending node, or point where the 
comet crosses from the north to the south side of the plane of 
the ecliptic. The value of the comet's radius vector, at the node, 
expressed in parts of the earth's mean distance from the sun, is 
1-0191352. The radius vector of the earth, corresponding to the 
same point, is 1'0132944. If we multiply the difference 
0*0058408 by ninety-five millions of miles, the assumed mean 
distance of the earth from the sun, we have very approximately 
the distance between the two orbits, as measured in the plane of 
the ecliptic namely, 554,876 miles. Now, it will be remembered 
that when the great comet of last year crossed the plane of the 
earth's orbit on the 29th June, the earth and comet had nearly 
the same longitude as seen from the sun. The comet's head, 
however, was thirteen millions of miles within the line of the 
earth's orbit ; consequently the earth merely performed a journey 
through the more diffused part of the comet's tail. Had the 
earth and comet in the present instance been in heliocentric 
conjunction at the time of the nodal passage, we should have 
witnessed a phenomenon surpassing, it may be, the magnificent 
apparitions of ancient times. The condition necessary to have 
brought the two bodies into such close neighbourhood would be 
that the perihelion passage should occur about thirty-two days 
earlier than it actually did. If we assume six minutes of arc as 
the apparent diameter of the comet's head on the evening of the 
1st September, we have 58,000 miles as the real diameter of 
the nebulosity surrounding the nucleus, and this would subtend 
an angle of six degrees, supposing the earth and comet to be 
both in the line of nodes at the same time. An object 
like this would strike even the enlightened people of the 
nineteenth century with amazement. The earth, however, 
had passed the point on the 10th of August, or thirty- 


two days before the comet came down to it, and as a con- 
sequence the distance separating the two bodies at the time 
of the nodal passage was about fifty-two millions of miles. 
It is of course utterly impossible to predict what would be the 
result of a transit of the earth through the head of a comet. It 
is commonly supposed that results of a disastrous character can- 
not be produced by collision with a comet, because it is composed 
of matter very highly rarified and diffused. We are, however, 
acquainted with some natural agents which, though ethereal 
in their constitution, are capable of producing very disastrous 
effects. The earth passed through a very diffused part of the 
tail of the last great comet, and the result was a universal mag- 
netic storm. What might be the degree of electric disturbance 
should the earth pass through the densest portion of a comet 
may well form a subject for speculation. The earth has, however, 
for ages past in its successive revolutions round the sun, escaped 
entanglement with these wanderers of the skies. Considerations 
such as these are not unprofitable. They teach us our utter de- 
pendence on the power and goodness of the great Being who 
" hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, meted out 
heaven with the span, comprehended the dust of the earth in a 
measure, weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a 
balance." They serve to impress us with a sense of the wis- 
dom and good providence of Him who has adjusted the 
orbits of countless revolving worlds, and regulated their motions 

On the 20th ultimo the comet had increased its distance from 
the earth to seventy-six millions of miles, and by the 2"th it had 
become quite invisible to the naked eye. It has been traversing 
the constellation Scorpio during the past three weeks, and is 
now on the borders of the Milky Way. It will probably 
continue visible in the telescope for some days to come. 


Set I. Set II. 

Aug. 23. Aug. 23. 

Perihelion passage, 1862, G. M. T., '0530 -13478 

Perihelion distance 0'3fi2Gi 0-062905 


Distance of perihelion from ascending deg. min. sec. deg. min. sec. 

node in the direction of motion 152 40 20 152 49 46 

Longitude of ascending node .. 137 8 33 137 13 37 

Inclination of orbit 65 41 39 66 9 35 

Motion . . . . . . . . Retrograde. Retrograde. 

NOTE. The longitude of the ascending node in Set I. is reckoned from 
the mean equinox of September 1st, 1862; that in Set II., from the mean 
equinox of January 1st, 1862. 

On the Comet of September 1862. No. 2. 

[Read November 12th, 1862.] 

IN the course of the hist paper which I had the pleasure of 
reading before the Society, I mentioned that, in all probability, 
the comet which formed the subject of the paper was identical 
with one discovered by M. Tempel, at Marseilles, on the 3rd July. 
The intelligence we had received from Europe respecting the 
discovery of the latter was very vague, consisting merely of a 
brief announcement in the Illustrated Tondon News, of 12th July, 
that a comet had been discovered as above in the constellation 
Cassiopea. You will remember, that on calculating back from 
the elements in the last paper, it was found that the comet seen 
here was, on the 3rd July, in R.A. 76J degrees ; Declin. 04 
degrees north. Finding this position was near Alpha and Bel a 
Camelopardi, and therefore not far from the constellation Cassi- 
opea, and making some allowance for the indefinite character of 


the announcement in the Illustrated London Xeu.'$, I naturally, 
but, as the sequel will shew, rather hastily concluded that 
Tempel's comet and our own were one and the same. With this 
conclusion I rested satisfied till the Illustrated London New* came 
to hand of the 2nd August, which contained the following more 
precise notice respecting the discovery of Tempel's comet. 

" The new comet discovered by M. Tempel at Marseilles, on 
the night of the 2nd and 3rd instant, near Beta, in the constel- 
lation Cassiopea, we learn, was previously observed on the 2nd, 
by M. Seeling, at Athens. It was seen by M. Tempel, with 
difficulty, with the naked eye. With a glass it presented the 
appearance of an irregular oval-formed nebulosity, without any 
trace of a tail. On July 5th, at eleven o'clock, p.m., it was near 
to Eta in the Great Bear." 

On reading this notice, it immediately occurred to me th;\t, 
either the elements contained in the last paper were not so 
accurate as I had supposed, or that the comet discovered by 
MM. Tempel and Seeling was totally distinct from that which 
had been the subject of observation here My attention was at 
once drawn to the subject. On discussing the whole series of 
observations from the 1st September to the 15th October, I found 
no reason to doubt the accuracy of the elements. By means of 
the elements I found the following for the approximate places of 
the comet which has been visible here : 

July 3 d . 5. G.M.T. R.A. = 7G 27' Declination=C4- <3' N. 

July 7 d . 5. G.M.T. R.A. = 7724/ Declination =Gi c 52' N. 

The distances of the comet from the sun and earth at those 
times were respectively as follows : 

July 3 d . 5. Distance from Sun 123 millions of miles ; from 
Earth 171 millions of miles. 

July 7 d . 5. Distance from Sun 110 millions of miles; from 
Earth lt>2 millions of miles. 

Now from the known brilliancy of the comet in that portion 
of its orbit which it traversed while above our horizon from the 
1st September to the middle of October it is obvious that it must 
at the above dates have been far beyond the limits of unassisted 
vision. In this circumstance, then, it differs from the comet 
discovered by MM. Tempel and Seeling, which is stated to have 


been just visible to the naked eye. Again, it will be observed 
that the motion of our comet, although nearly in the direction 
of the pole-star, was only a few minutes of arc daily, whereas 
the other comet moved over the large arc of about seventy 
degrees in three days. Here, then, is conclusive evidence that 
the two comets were pursuing totally different orbits. On 
making known this circumstance to a friend my attention was 
drawn by him to the Illustrated London News of August 16th, 
a later date than I myself had received. It was therein stated 
that a comet had been discovered by Rosa at Rome, on the 25th 
July, which became distinctly visible to the naked eye on the 
3rd August. The notice is accompanied with a rough chart 
showing the comet's apparent track among the stars from the 
night of discovery to the 20th August. The chart enables 
me at once to identify this comet as the one observed here, 
for on calculating back from the elements, I find our comet 
occupied precisely the positions indicated in the chart, and 
must have become visible to the naked eye in the beginning 
of August. On the night of discovery, the comet was distant 
one hundred and three millions of miles from the sun, and 
one hundred and eighteen millions from the earth. The comet 
discovered by MM. Tempel and Seeling might have been 
seen in the colony after the first week in July ; but I am 
not aware that it has been seen by any one. It is usual for 
Astronomers to designate the comets of any particular year 
according to the order of their times of perihelion passage. 
Taking, therefore, into account the fact that the two comets 
under consideration appeared in Europe almost simultaneously, 
and our present ignorance respecting the time of the perihelion 
passage of the one, I am not yet justified in designating our 
comet as " I. of 1862." I hoped the October mail would bring us 
a considerable amount of intelligence respecting the late comet, 
but that hope has not been realised. In the Herald of the 20th 
ultimo, there is an extract of a letter from Mr. Hind to the Times, 
which confirms to some extent the results contained in my last 
paper. He states the comet will be nearest to the sun on the 
23rd, (August is implied, though not expressed, in the extract), 
and distant thirty-two and a half million.-, of miles from the earth 


on the 30th. He says, further : " the comet will traverse the 
plane of the ecliptic on the llth September, at a point distant 
rather more than two millions of miles from the earth's path." 
Now, it will be remembered that, in my last paper, I stated that 
the nearest approach of the comet to the earth's path had 
occurred on the llth September, but that the distance between 
the two orbits was rather more than half a million of miles. 
This is about one-fourth of the distance which Mr. Hind gives. 
It is, however, very probable that Mr. Hind's are only approxi- 
mate results, based on a few observations taken at the comet's 
first appearance : it is, of course, usual for astronomers to give 
rough results at the beginning, to be gradually corrected from 
future observations. I think, therefore, it will be found, when 
more mature results reach us from Europe, that the comet 
actually approached the earth's orbit much nearer than two 
millions of miles. I speak thus confidently because the elements 
which I have given satisfy pretty nearly observations extending 
over six weeks. Further on I will give a comparison of the 
parabola, with the results derived from observation. From the 
meagre accounts that have reached us, it appears that the 
phenomena mentioned in my last paper as attending the 
comet were also observed in Europe during the month of 
August. These phenomena are described as most extraordi- 
nary, so we may expect some interesting information respect- 
ing them by the next mail from Europe. There is a drawing 
of the comet in the Illustrated London News of August IGth, 
from which it will be seen that the comet in its general ap- 
pearance resembled that of Halley, as figured by Struve on 
October 8th, 1835. 

Since the last meeting of the Society I have slightly corrected 
the elements contained in my former paper. My latest approxi- 
mation, uncorrected for aberration and parallax, is as follows : 
Perihelion passage, 1862, August 23rJ, '1340 Greenwich mean time. 

Perihelion distance 0.96290 

Distance of perihelion from ascending i Deg. min. sec. 
node, according to the order of the signs J 20" 10 12 

Longitude of perihelion on orbit 344 23 48 i Mean equinox of 

Longitude of ascending node 137 13 36 ) 1st January, 1862. 

Inclination of orbit 66 9 36 

Motion, retrograde. 


Adopting the above elements, we have the following expres- 
sions for the comet's heliocentric co-ordinates referred to the plane 
of the Equator and the two corresponding planes : 
Log sin X =[9-9976609] + log sin (191 e 23'.96 + v.) 
Log tan A =[+ 9-0149823] + log tan (19123'.96 + v.) 

x = r cos (141 21 ' 22 + A) cos X 

y = r sin (141 21' 22 + A) cos X = x tan (141 21' 22 + A) 

z = r sin X 

where r is the comet's radius vector and v the true anomaly, 
reckoned according to the order of the signs, or contrary to the 
direction of the comet's motion. 

I believe the elements above given, will be found to be a 
pretty close approximation to the true ones, considering the 
difficulty attending exact observations of the comet, and the 
liability to error of the positions of the stars of comparison. In 
all cases, I have adopted the beso authorities at command for the 
positions of the stars of comparison. In three instances, I have 
been enabled to avail myself of corrections deduced from meridian 
observations made at the Sydney Observatory in 1859 and 
18CO. As an instance of the liability to error of the Southern 
catalogues, I may refer to my observations of the 13th 
October. In the comparisons of that evening, I employed 
B. A. C. 5558 a star of the sixth magnitude, and Lacaille 6907 
one of the seventh. The latter corresponds with 5789 of the 
Brisbane Catalogue. My comparisons of the two stars showed 
that Lacaille 6907 was thirty-five seconds of time west of 
B. A. C. 5558. Lacaillle's catalogue gives the same result, but 
Brisbane makes it only sixteen seconds west of B. A. C. 5558. 
The position of Brisbane 5789 depends on one observation only, 
and this is the case with many other stars in that catalogue. It 
appears, therefore, we must be cautious in placing much depen- 
dence on the star positions of the Southern catalogues. A 
complete and accurate re-observation of the Southern stars, 
down to the eighth magnitude inclusive, more especially those 
between the parallels of 20 and 50 degrees declination, is a work 
of the highest importance, and without which we cannot expect 
any great advance in the astronomy of this hemisphere. The 
best observations of a planet or comet cannot be made available 
for any accurate purpose till the origins from which its position 


are measured are known with certainty. For the accomplish- 
ment of this great work, we must, in a great measure, look to 
our observatory : a valuable instalment of it has already been 
presented to the scientific world in the three volumes of 
observations for 1859, 1860, and 18(51. 

The following table contains the results of my observations, 
with the exception of those where the stars of comparison could 
not be found in the catalogues of the British Association, 
Brisbane, and Lacaille. The later observations will prove useful 
in the event of the comet not being more accurately observed 
elsewhere. The positions are uncorrected for parallax, and referred 
to the mean equinox and mean equator of January 1st, 
18G2. The last two columns of the table exhibit a comparison 
of some of the places derived from observation with the 
corresponding positions deduced from the parabola. In 
order to this comparison, the comet's places have been 
corrected for parallax. C and O denote respectively the 
calculated and observed places of the comet, and A a, ATT, the 
differences of right ascension and north polar distance. The 
October comparisons indicate the necessity of a further slight 
correction of the elements, but it would be a waste of time to 
attempt extreme accuracy, considering the probable amount of 
the errors of the catalogues, and of the comparison obser- 
vations themselves. The positions of the loth October, are the 
latest that can be depended on for a comparison ; the comet's 
distances from the sun and earth, were then respectively, one 
hundred and twenty-five and one hundred and forty -six millions 
of miles. I succeeded in making some observations on the 
evening of the 21st, but the results, owing to the excessive faint- 
ness of the comet, are liable to errors of upwards of a minute of 
arc ; they are, therefore, not sufficiently accurate for a correction 
of the orbit. 

Having now given you as much information as I can under 
the circumstances, I must take leave of the subject. The members 
of the Society will, doubtless, find much to interest them in the 
intelligence which will be received respecting the comet by t-ho 
English mail, now due, and that of December next. 




v* OO 


3 p 






2 ? 2 2S 2 8 

00 O O 00 ~ O ^H 

++ I I 1+ I I I 

OO O O OO*-"f^H 

II I I + + + ++ 

i-H^(M(MOCO(M^ 10 -^ (M <M C4O 

CO ^* f^ ^ ** r^ ^H ^^ ^O C^l ^ O< 









K t ft t SV 5*jJ 5 


C< ^CO CO C CO C ^C C r-* .-I 

SJ O 5O -^ .CO ~C5 'O CO >CO 5N -^ 
-H -rt ~F-I -i-C<Cl * ; r i-l 

5SSS5555S55SsJ 555 

On Australian Storms. 

[Read 7th September, 1864.] 

THE public for the past few months have been rejoicing in the 
acquisition of another lunar theory for the prediction of weather, 
which, like all its predecessors, will, I fear, be eventually thrown 
aside as useless. But, there is a weather system in full operation 
in England, which, though not so ambitious in its pretentious 
as the various lunar theories, is nevertheless logically deduced 
from observation, and therefore of great value. I refer to the 
method of forecasting weather, as daily practised in England 
by Admiral Fitzroy. His theory does not profess to determine 
months beforehand, when and where storms will occur, but a 
storm having once begun in the vicinity of the British Isles, it 
fixes, with a very tolerable approach to accuracy, its velocity and 
the course it will pursue. These desiderata being obtained, it is 
an easy matter to forewarn by the electric telegraph those places 
on the coasts which will probably feel the effects of the storm. 
The general principles on which forecasts of weather are drawn 
by Admiral Fitzroy, and the way in which these principles have 
been discovered, are soon explained. For some time before the 
system of weather warnings was established, the Board of 
Trade had maintained a system of simultaneous meteorological 
observations throughout the United Kingdom. The regular 
observations of the astronomical establishments and the light- 
houses were supplemented by those of a large corps of earnest 
and devoted private observers. These observations were regularly 
forwarded to a central office for correction and discussion. Very 
little insight into the law of atmospheric changes could be obtained 
by the mere inspection of a mass of tabular records, but when the 
simultaneous observations were exhibited in a series of curves 
and charts a very interesting fact was elicited. On a careful 
comparison of the diagrams during periods of marked atmospheric 


disturbance, it was found, that storm phenomena, barometric and 
otherwise, did not remain stationary on the spot where they 
originated, but gradually shifted eastward. A storm, for instance, 
which originated in the Atlantic off the west coast of Ireland, 
would be found to cross over Ireland and England, towards the 
North Sea. It was in fact discovered, that the atmosphere of the 
north temperate zone had a slow circulation eastward, carrying 
with it its disturbances, just as the tidal current of a river carries 
with it, the eddies that are formed in it. The general direction, 
and velocity, of this grand circulation, and the modifications 
which they undergo from various circumstances, having been 
satisfactorily ascertained from numerous systematic observations, 
the electric telegraph furnished the means of carrying out the 
great principle into practice. The consequence now is, that 
forecasts of weather are daily telegraphed to all parts of the 
British coasts from one to three days in advance, such forecasts 
being drawn from previous states of weather, reported to the 
central office also by telegraph. Suggestions have been thrown 
out from time to time in our daily papers, as to the advisability 
of establishing in these colonies the system above described. 
But I think it would be premature, to attempt its introduction 
here, until the meteorological observations, already available 
have at least been systematically and carefully discussed as 
were those which furnished the principle on which the daily 
forecasts of Admiral Fitzroy are founded. I believe it has always 
been assumed, that the atmospheric disturbances affecting these 
colonies, have an eastward tendency, as in the north temperate 
zone, but at the same time, beyond the tracing of a few isolated 
gales, nothing has been done by comparison of observations, 
to show, that as a general rule, our gales and storms are so 
translated. The observations already available are sufficient to 
show roughly their general direction and average velocity. But 
in order to trace them out with all desirable accuracy, together 
with the modifications which they undergo from the influence 
of the physical geography of the colonies, we require observations 
more numerous and extended than those made at present. It 
is here we feel the great want, which is not experienced in 
the mother country, of a large corps of amateur observers, to 


supplement the efforts of the government. There is, too, another 
disadvantage attending any operations here, but it is one which 
might easily be remedied. A little more care in the preparation, 
or publication, of the telegraphic weather reports is necessary. 
Their frequent inaccuracy is an evil, which is the more serious, 
on account of the fewness of the stations. Where the places of 
observation are numerous, and therefore not so widely separated 
from one another, an accidental error in a report from any one 
station is easily detected by comparing it with the reports from 
the other stations in its immediate vicinity. 

My present object is to lay before the Society a series of 
diagrams, which I humbly hope may throw some light on the 
manner in which barometric changes are propagated over the 
Colonies. The area of the Colony of New South Wales being so 
limited, and the observations at seven out of the nine meteoro- 
logical stations being made only once a day, it is obviously 
impossible to trace any atmospheric disturbance with satisfaction. 
This difficulty is especially obvious if the movement of the dis- 
turbance be from west to east, because the stations differ so little 
in longitude. The observatory at Adelaide is then of great im- 
portance in the solution of this question. Its distance westward 
from our own Colony is sufficiently great to enable us to detect any 
deviation from actual synchronism of barometric changes. Mr. 
Todd has kindly supplied me with his observations made at the 
Adelaide Observatory, during the years 1861 and 1862. I have 
employed those for 1861, together with the observations made at 
Deniliquin, Sydney, and Brisbane, for the same year, in laying 
down the barometric curves appended to this paper. The curves 
for Adelaide and Sydney have been projected from the 9 a.m. 
observations at those places ; the Brisbane and Deniliquin curves 
are copied from those contained in the Volume for 1861 of the 
Sydney Astronomical and Meteorological observations. No 
corrections have been applied to the observations for difference 
oflongitude or height above sea level, as such corrections would 
not materially affect, the conclusions to be arrived at. The 
diagrams require very little explanation. The vertical lines 
represent the days of the month, and the horizontal ones the 
heights of the barometers at the four stations. The vertical lines 


at their intersections with the curves indicate the simultaneous 
height of the barometers. Now a cursory glance at the four 
curves is enough to satisfy any person of their general similarity, 
but on a closer inspection it will be seen that the barometric 
maxima and minima, which are of course the prominent features 
of the curves, are not simultaneous over the large area embraced 
between the observatories at Adelaide and Brisbane, but have a 
gradual progression from west to east, or rather perhaps from 
south-west to north-east. On the average, they occur at Sydney 
and Brisbane respectively about one and two days later than at 
Adelaide. The principal corresponding maxima and minima at 
the four stations are pointed out in the diagrams by the red lines. 
If we may take the observations for 1861 as sufficient to de- 
monstrate the rule as to the propagation of our barometric 
changes, and I think we may, it is incontestably shown by the 
diagrams that they are propagated gradually over the colonies 
from about south-west to north-east. The wind phenomena 
attending these alterations of tension are made up of the two 
great polar and tropical currents. In the winter months the 
gradual shifting of these streams of air over the colonies, is as 
distinctly marked by the observations as the propagation of their 
accompanying barometric phenomena. The alternation of the 
tropical and polar winds is distinctly marked at Sydney through 
the whole year, the former corresponding to a falling and the 
latter to a rising barometer. During the summer months at 
Adelaide the tropical currents appear in a great measure to fail, 
polar winds being remarkably prevalent. This fact may be simply 
accounted for, by the position of Adelaide with reference to the 
great Australian Continent. Daring the summer the atmos- 
phere over the vast area of land to the north is greatly rarified 
by radiation, and consequently ascends. The tropical streams of 
air instead of passing over Adelaide are arrested in their progress 
by this partial vacuum and are met by the polar winds, which 
are also hastening to restore equilibrium at the same point. Thus 
it is that polar winds are so remarkably prevalent at Adelaide 
during the summer. In order to illustrate the way in which our 
storms are propagated, I may briefly trace out the progress across 
the colonies of one of the most conspicuous instances of bad weather 


in the year 1861. In glancing over the Adelaide observations, 
the first bad weather which would particularly attract our 
attention would perhaps be that of April 13th 18th. It appears 
from Mr. Todd's observations, that after a fine day and nearly 
cloudless night, the morning of the 13th at Adelaide was ushered 
in with thin cirro-stratus cloud and a falling barometer, both 
phenomena being marked characteristics of tropical currents of 
air. During the night of the 12th the polar currents had failed, 
and the opposite or tropical ones commenced. Northerly winds 
prevailed on the 13th, 14th, and 15th, the barometer still falling, 
with indications of heavy weather : the tropical winds were also 
marked by the thermometer, the temperature being high on those 
days. The lowest recorded reading of the barometer occurred at 
6 p.m. on the 14th, being 29*523 (corrected for temperature). 
On the morning of the 16th the tropical current was met and 
overcome by its polar opponent, the wind changing to south- 
west, the barometer rising, and the thermometer falling. Strong 
gales and heavy weather from the polar quarter prevailed 
throughout the colony of South Australia on the 16th, 17th, and 
18th, moderating towards evening of the 18th. A heavy storm 
of wind and rain swept over Melbourne and the adjacent country 
in the afternoon of the 16th, which coming from a southerly 
direction, appears from the newspaper accounts to have been 
only a temporary advance of the polar current. We learn from a 
telegram in the Herald of the 17th, that a N.N.E. gale with 
squalls, was blowing at Melbourne at 8 p.m. on the 16th. Hence 
it appears, that while the tropical current which had passed over 
and altogether ceased at Adelaide, was prevailing at Melbourne, 
the opposite or polar current was severely felt at the former 
place. On the night of the 17th, however, Melbourne in its 
turn experienced the conflict of the two great currents, in 
the shape of violent westerly gales, trees being uprooted and 
other damage done. It was in Bass' Straits during the fearful 
weather of the 16th 18th that the ill-fated ship " Rembrandt " 
foundered, taking down with her eleven out of the fifteen souls 
she had on board. The newspapers describe these gales as being 
remarkably violent. Now let us turn to the state of the weather 
in our own colony. From the observations at the Sydney 



Observatory and South Head, it will be seen that tropical winds 
prevailed throughout the 14th, 15th, and 16th. The prevalence 
of these winds was made manifest by a falling barometer, and 
rising thermometer. The lowest recorded reading of the former 
instrument occurred at three p.m. on the 16fch, being 29.587, 
differing only O064 from the minimum at Adelaide. These 
values are at once comparable, because the heights of the Sydney 
and Adelaide Observatories above the sea are nearly equal. During 
the night of the 16th the polar winds were first felt at Sydney, 
blowing strong from the west during the forenoon of the 17th, 
the barometer rising and the thermometer falling. On referring 
to the account of the gale at Adelaide, it will be seen that the 
least pressure of the atmosphere and the reversal of the wind 
occurred there many hours earlier. And probably if the wind 
observations at Brisbane were before us, we should find that the 
polar winds were not experienced there till the 18th, that is, if 
the storm had not expended itself before reaching so far north. 
However, we perceive from the diagrams that the least pressure 
occurred on the 17th, or one day later than at Sydney. On the 
whole, it would appear, that the barometric oscillations decrease 
as we advance towards the tropics. An inspection of the curves 
contained in Mr. Scott's Volume of observations for 1861, will 
make this circumstance at once apparent. 

It is unnecessary for me to go into a consideration of the 
other period of great atmospheric disturbance, which characterized 
the year 1861. Those who wish to go further into the subject, 
may profitably examine the following storm periods : May 
21st 24th. June 15th 26th. During the latter period the 
barometer remained low for several days, owing to the re- 
markable persistency of the tropical winds. There is one thing 
that cannot have escaped the observation of those who have 
studied the winds, that their effects are different in different 
places owing to local influences, such as coasts and mountains. 
On comparing my own observations with those made at the 
Sydney Observatory, I find that all winds blowing from the 
eastern semi-circle between north and south, are felt with much 
more effect at Sydney than at Windsor. This circumstance, I 
have no doubt, is owing to the winds from the sea being deflected 



or thrown upwards by the high coast line, the scud during heavy 
gales on the coast being often seen at Windsor, to move with 
great rapidity, while light winds only prevail on the earth's surface. 
An easterly gale is, I believe, a thing of very rare occurrence at 
Windsor. The strength of the different winds in various 
localities is a subject that should be studied, as one means of 
enabling us to forecast the probable effects of weather at such 
places. In an interesting communication in the Illustrated 
London News of December last, on the subject of the gales which 
marked the last three months of 1863, a writer referred to the 
circumstance, that the greatest violence of gales might be 
expected to occur about the time of minimum barometric pressure. 
Heavy gusts are commonly experienced shortly after the time of 
least pressure. In connexion with this subject I may say, I have 
observed that it is not only about the time of the minimum 
barometric pressure in great storms that the greatest force of 
wind is experienced. It is well known that in ordinary fine 
weather the chief daily barometric minimum occurs regularly 
about 3 p.m., and it happens that this is precisely the hour at 
which the average strength of the winds is a maximum. In 
support of this statement I may give the following as the mean 
force of air currents at Windsor at 9 a.m. noon, 3, 6, and 9 p.m. 
for the first seven months of the present year. The scale 
employed in the observations was 6. 


9 a.m. 



6 p.m. 

9 p.m. 
















































The wind observations of last year were only made at 9 a.m., 
3 p.m., and 9 p.m., but a comparison of these as also of the 
observations made at the Sydney Observatory during the past 


eight years will show that the mean force is greater at 3 p.m. 
than at 9 a.m. or 9 p.m. The least pressure of the atmosphere 
and the greatest activity in air currents occurring at the same 
time as the highest temperature would seem to point to the 
conclusion that the sun is the primary and chief agent in the 
production of all our atmospheric commotions. 

One of the most interesting examples I have met with of the 
propagation of storm phenomena over the colonies, was on the 
occasion of the remarkable gales of the 25th and 26th October 
last. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 27th October, 
appeared the following telegram from Adelaide : 

" Heavy gale here yesterday, (25th) commencing at JST.TO3., 
min. bar. 29.150 at 4.15 p.m. ; wind soon after veered round to 
W., blowing very hard throughout the night. Bar. at 10 p.m., 
29.310, but falling after midnight ; 28.990 at 9 a.m. (26th) at 
Mount Gambier ; 29.160 at Adelaide at 11 a.m., still falling 
slightly." The dates in parenthesis are inserted by me for the 
sake of explanation. Compare the above observations with the 
state of the weather as recorded by myself at Windsor. Light 
north-easterly winds prevailed on the 25th, with a falling 
barometer ; at 9 a.m. on that day, it stood at 29.906, (corrected 
for temperature) and during the following twenty-four hours, fell 
to 29.342 or 0.564 of an inch. The wind freshened at 9 a.m. on 
the 26th, and blew a gale, varying from ]N".E. to N.W., the 
barometer in the meantime falling rapidly. The wind was 
remarkable for its numerous circuitous sweeps, blowing frequently 
from every point of the compass in succession. From half-hourly 
observations on the 26th, the lowest corrected reading of the 
barometer was found to be 29.021 at 3 p.m. Forty-five minutes 
after the minimum was attained, the wind veered to west, and 
blew in heavy gusts during the afternoon, the barometer oscilla- 
ting, but on the whole, rising slowly. It, however, began to go 
down rapidly again after 9 p.m., falling 0.08 inch in an hour and 
a half, the wind, then light, having backed to IST.W. It rose 
slowly after 2 a.m. on the 27th. Heavy W. and W.S.W. winds 
continued throughout the 27th, the barometer still rising. Now 
it fortunately happens, that at both Adelaide and Windsor, three 
prominent features of the storm were recorded, viz : a first and 


second minimum of the barometer, and the change in the direc- 
tion of the wind. The principal minimum occurred at Adelaide 
and Windsor as reduced to the meridian of Windsor, as follows : 
At Adelaide, October 25 d 5 h 4 m Windsor mean time. 
Windsor 26 d 3* O m 

The difference gives twenty-two hours as the interval of 
absolute time occupied by the phenomenon in its propagation 
over the space separating the two observatories. Again, we find 
that soon after the principal minimum of atmospheric pressure, 
the wind at both places veered to the west, and that in about 
eight hours at Adelaide, and six at Windsor, the barometer 
again began to fall. We have here a well defined instance of 
the gradual shifting eastward of the two great air currents in 
connection with their corresponding atmospheric pressures, and 
it is evidently in accordance with the rule derived from the 
consideration of the curves. And the observations recorded at 
Windsor on this occasion, afford a very striking illustration of 
the influence of tropical currents of air on the barometer, for no 
sooner did the tropical current gain a temporary ascendancy over 
its polar opponent, as shown by the backing of the wind to north- 
west on the evening of the 26th, than the instrument again began 
to fall. I have received observations of the same storm from 
Brisbane and Cape Otway. The observations at Cape Otway are 
made three times a day, and show that the storm at that place, 
slightly preceded in point of time the same phenomenon at 
Windsor. The lowest reading of the barometer occurred early 
in the afternoon of the 26th, the wind also shifted about the same 
time. The observations at Brisbane are also made three times a 
day, viz : at 9 a.m., 3 p.m., and 9 p.m. N.N.E. and N.N.W. winds 
prevailed there on the 26th, the barometer falling from 29.924 
at 9 a.m. on the 25th, to its lowest recorded point 29.440 at 
3 p.m. on the 27th. Strong polar winds from W.S.W. prevailed 
on the 27th. Thus, it appears, that the principal features of the 
storm occupied about two days in shifting north-easterly from 
Adelaide to Brisbane. 

From A what has been said we should infer that if a system of 
weather warnings were established along our eastern sea-board, 
Adelaide would form an admirable out-post to warn us of approach- 


ing danger. But it does not follow that the Adelaide reports 
are sufficient for this purpose. It is said by some persons that 
the prevailing gales of these Colonies originate in the Southern 
Indian Ocean, and pass over Adelaide before reaching us. Al- 
though this may be true in the majority of cases, it will sometimes 
happen that our east coasts are subject to gales from which 
Adelaide either wholly or in part escapes. Admiral Fitzroy has 
shown that a polar current advancing from the north towards 
the British Isles, is sometimes carried so far eastward by the 
general movement of the atmosphere as to pass between Norway 
and the east coast of Scotland, spreading itself over the North 
Sea, and there encountering the tropical current from the south- 
west ; both being deflected westward by Danish and Dutch 
shores, and combined producing those violent easterly gales 
which are so destructive to the shipping along the east coast of 
Great Britain. Such easterly gales are not first felt at the 
meteorological stations in Ireland and the west of England. The 
approach of the two great currents would be first announced 
from the north of Scotland and from the French coasts. 
Instances analagous to this occur in these Colonies. Let us 
suppose an area of diminished pressure with northerly winds to 
be passing over Adelaide eastward, and a powerful current to be 
advancing from the south-east towards this point. Before the 
extremity of this current can reach Adelaide it is carried east- 
ward by the general circulation, and so passes over Tasmania 
along our eastern coast, meeting, probably, the warm moist 
current from the north, and so producing one of those terrific 
easterly gales which are so remarkable for their down-pour of 
rain. In such a case as this we must not trust to Adelaide alone 
for warning ; the reports from that station must be supplemented 
by those from the Tasmanian coasts. We have before us a very 
striking exemplification of the case I have just mentioned. If 
we examine the curves at the close of April, we shall find what 
appears at first view an exception to the theory of eastward 
circulation, namely the barometric minima at Sydney and 
Brisbane precede those at Adelaide and Deniliquin. At Adelaide 
northerly winds were remarkably prevalent with high temper- 
ature throughout the 27th, 28th, 29th, and 30th April and 1st 


May ; the barometer attaining its minimum at 6 p.m. on the 
30th April. Mr. Todd on the 30th describes the barometer as 
falling, with every appearance of high winds. But let us see 
what was going on along our east coast at this time. The lowest 
recorded reading of the barometer at Sydney was 29,444 at 3 
p.m. on the 29th ; and throughout the 27th and 28th the polar 
and tropical currents were in violent conflict, producing gales 
between E.S.E. and N.E. of no ordinary character. A reference 
to the newspapers of that period will show that floods were very 
prevalent in the Colony. On the 29th the polar winds appear 
to have gained the mastery for a short time, and the barometer 
rose a little. On the 1st May the polar winds were first felt at 
Adelaide ; the tropical ones at the same time prevailing at 
Sydney. This second advance from the southward, which had 
reached Adelaide, was afterwards slightly felt at Sydney. 

Although we have apparently arrived at the rule for the pro- 
pagation of our atmospheric disturbances, still it cannot be denied 
that there are some remarkable exceptions. Take for example the 
weather of the middle of February of last year, which was marked 
by successive heavy rains and floods from Queensland to Bass' 
Straits. A rather lengthy account of that storm, which bore 
strong marks of the cyclonic character, is contained in the Sydney 
Morning Herald and the Empire of the llth and 10th June, 1863, 
respectively. The gradual progression southward of the barometic 
phenomena in connexion with the changes of the wind and 
weather are remarkably well shown by the scattered observations 
available. As then there are exceptions to the rule just mentioned 
for the propagation of our storms, it becomes us before attempt- 
ing to apply the system of Admiral Fitzroy to our own coasts, to 
make at least some effort to establish special observations during 
periods of remarkable atmospheric disturbance. The discussion 
of such data might acquaint us with the conditions under which 
the exceptions to the rule are produced. The effects of local 
influence on the wind and weather would also have much light 
thrown upon them. It is much to be regretted that special 
observations were not instituted for the months of October and 
December last, which were marked by extraordinary disturbances 
in the atmospheric elements. It is of course impossible to 


announce long beforehand the day on which such observations 
should be made ; this is not required. Sufficient warning is given 
by the barometer, and if the instrument is found at any time to 
be falling rapidly, a series of hourly or two-hourly observations 
should be at once commenced in order to secure the gradual 
variations of the atmospheric pressure, together with the corres- 
ponding changes of the wind. Especially should the time and 
amount of the least pressure be secured. At the chief observatories 
in England, self-recording instruments are established. The 
principal instruments are the barograph and the anemometer ; 
the former registers the gradual march of the atmospheric pres- 
sure, and the latter the direction and velocity of the wind. These 
records being continuous and unbroken, the slightest and briefest 
changes are traced with accuracy. It is much to be regretted 
that the expensive character of these instruments prevent their 
general adoption. I am happy to say that a self-recording 
anemometer was erected at the Sydney Observatory about twelve 
months ago, which I believe, gives entire satisfaction. 

In concluding this paper, I think I may reasonably urge upon 
you the claims which Australian meteorology has upon you as a 
scientific Society. "We are in a position to lend a helping hand 
to a science, the promotion of which is of the highest importance 
to the interests of the colonies. It is much to be regretted 
that some of our colonists who have plenty of leisure and means, 
do not come forward in the cause as earnestly as the many 
in the noble country from which we are sprung, but it must be 
remembered they have no encouragement. A noble example 
would be shown by our Philosophical Society, if we should only 
establish one meteorological station, and invite the co-operation 
of observers in the colonies. The Government have done all 
that can be expected of them, for, in addition to the Sydney 
Observatory, they support meteorological stations at Armidale, 
Newcastle, Bathurst, Goulburn, Deniliquin, Albury, and Cooma. 

Remarks on the preceding paper, made at the Meeting of 7th 
September, 1864, by 

THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S. &c., V.P. 

IN the paper just read there are 31 distinct propositions or state- 
ments, with an appeal to the public, and especially to this 
Society, to aid in researches such as those in which the author 
of that paper is so usefully engaged. 

It may not be, perhaps, impertinent to mention this appeal 
before I proceed to notice the other very interesting subjects 
discussed by Mr. Tebbutt. There have been several writers 
in this colony already on the science of Meteorology or on some 
of its most important branches. Count Strzelecki, in his "Physical 
Description of New outh Wales and Van Diem en's Land, published 
in 1845, entered on the Climatology of these colonies, and 
discussed the nature of the atmospheric currents from his own 
personal observations. He gives a table of monthly currents 
contrary in direction to surface winds ; attributing some of the 
observed phenomena to increase or decrease of the Sun's declina- 
tion, showing that a cold current moves frequently between two 
warmer currents entirely by virtue of its volume. 

He further shows from his own observations, that at Port 
Phillip the rule adduced by Mr. Tebbutt for Adelaide obtains, 
viz. : polar winds prevail in summer ; but he appears to oppose 
Mr. Tebbutt's solution of a rise of the equatorial current, 
stating that there is no proof of this from observation. Further, 
he shows that the rule stated for Port Phillip and now for 
Adelaide, is not maintained either in Tasmania, Port Jackson, 
or Port Macquarie, of which in the former the equatorial pre- 
vails both in summer and in winter, and in the latter two 
localities the winter is distinguished and not the summer by 
polar winds. He infers that such variations must depend on 
something more than a local cause, and probably belong to the 
influence of monsoons and winds existing within a certain dis- 



tance of Terra Anstralis. He gives also skeleton charts of the 
prevailing winds in New South Wales and Tasmania, during 
the winters of 1840-1-2, and during the summer of 1840, 
by which we are to assume that, depending on the monsoons, the 
winter winds veer round and within Australia from right to left, 
and the summer from left to right. 

Since the date of that work, the subject of Cyclones or Circular 
storms has been amply discussed, and among other writings a 
treatise on " Australasian Cyclonology, or the law of storms in the 
South Pacific Ocean," was put forth in 1853 by ^Mr. Dobson, of 
Hobart Town, in which he endeavours to show that the great 
storms of the Southern Pacific rotate from left to right, beginning 
near the Equator, progressing first westerly, then to S.W., and 
recurving towards S.E. He shows also, that the general storm 
track of the South Pacific Ocean appears to follow the curvature 
of the East Coast of Australia, as the storm track of the South 
Indian Ocean does that of the West Coast of Australia. He 
further points out that Bass's Strait is subject to two kinds of 
Cyclones, one changing from N.W. to S. and S.W., and the other 
from KE. to E. and S.E. The work of Mr. Dobson is filled with 
examples from log-books and other data which, certainly, in 
many instances, justify his conclusions. 

In 1859, Mr. W. S. Jevons, then a member of this Society, 
published in Waugh's Almanac an elaborate collection of data 
concerning the climate of Australia and New Zealand. These 
were collected from contributions to newspapers and other sources 
and from his own recorded observations. So far as they bear on 
the question immediately before us, he adopts the conclusion, 
that his " facts fall into beautiful harmony on the single supposi- 
tion of two antagonistic winds." 

He speaks, firstly, " of the Great westerly ivind of the Southern 
Hemisphere," secondly, of the " monsoon-like summer wind on 
the ti.E. Coast" I quote one passage from this essay, because it 
fitly introduces what I have to say respecting my own opinions. 
Speaking of the ultimate causes of the changes of weather, he 

"The rain-bearing winds of New South Wales may be 
connected with the S.E. trades, which, according to common rule, 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S. &c., V.P. 167 

commence a little north of Moreton Bay, but move up and down 
with the sun. Now, if these winds at any time extended them- 
selves unusually far south, a wet season might be produced along 
the S.E. coast. This theory finds support, I believe, from the 
Rev. W. B. Clarke, who has watched and investigated the climate 
many years. 

" Just the same effect would be produced, if any cause acted 
from the centre of Australia to hinder the advent of sea winds, 
and project the fiery breath of the sun-heated plains upon the 
unexpectiiig coast lands, or during hot winds." And then he 
adds, with needful caution, " these are mere speculations ; to 
reason accurately upon such wide-acting causes, will not be within 
any person's power till meteorology is quite another thing. 
Australia is more sea-surrounded than any other large surface 
of land, and, as it is only over the wide ocean that the winds 
perform their normal course, meteorology is, perhaps, a simpler 
problem in this land than anywhere else." 

There is a fact also mentioned by Mr. Jevons, which must be 
borne in mind, that in Australia similar phenomena are apt to 
prevail almost synchronously over very wide areas. On one 
occasion, at least, a severe hot wind was felt from Moreton Bay 
to Port Phillip, a distance of at least 800 miles ; rains are equally 
general at times, and what I have already pointed out in comparing 
the weather near Sydney with that in Mr. Kennedy's experience in 
the interior, and what the late Admiral King found in comparing 
Paramatta with Sir T. L. Mitchell's experience in Tropical 
Australia, the laws affecting the barometer are nearly constant. 

In any discussion on storms in Australia these facts should be 
borne in mind. 

I must now apologise for referring to my own individual 
efforts in this region of science. Probably, from their distant 
date and the manner in which they were published, my earlier 
attempts to interest the Australian community in the laws of 
storms may have passed somewhat out of view. And it is pro- 
bable, that at that time Mr. Tebbutt may have been too young to 
notice such a subject in the columns of a public journal. But, 
twenty-two years ago, in the month of January, 1842, 1 published 
the particulars of a great storm that had just traversed the whole 


of the eastern portion of New South Wales ; and I think it was the 
first attempt of the kind bearing on the wide area often visited 
by such atmospherical derangements. As this account attracted 
some notice, I commenced a series of papers on ^1 the 
general topics of Meteorology, which were published in the 
Sydney Herald in that year, 1842, in which, among other things. 
I proposed to show that our Eastern Australian storms revolve 
from left to right, and that the conflict of opposing winds is the 
principal agency employed. I will quote a few remarks to show 
how far Mr. Jevons's notion of monsoon-like winds and the 
easterly set of the atmosphere alluded to by Mr. Tebbutt, were 
anticipated by me 22 years ago, in connection with the South 
and East Coasts of what was then altogether New South Wales. 

" In Bass's Strait a sort of monsoon prevails at certain periods 
of the year, the wind blowing from the east for a time, though 
generally from the westward at the other season ; and so power- 
ful is the westerly wind that the trees upon Kent's Group point 
to the east. 

" Beyond this, the great westerly circuit winds which travel 
round the earth have their full influence, affected only by the 
great southerly currents of air which sometimes as well as the 
northern ones produce derangements in the ordinary phenomena 
of the winds. 

" It may be assumed, therefore, that as easterly and southerly 
winds are the most prevalent on the east side of the dividing 
mountains ; so on the south-west side of these ranges the pre- 
valent winds inland ought to be . from westerly points. Such is 
the case, for there is direct evidence to show that the south- 
westerly winds blow over the land from about the Gulf of Alexan- 
dria to the Blue Mountains ; and north and north-westerly from the 
N. W. interior to the Blue Mountains, the least violent of them 
becoming west winds when they reach the mountains, and des- 
cending into the seaward country to the east as west winds, 
yet slightly deflected according to the passes through which 
they descend. 

" The course of both N.W. and S.W winds seems to be de- 
fined pretty accurately in the above statements as circuit winds 
meeting somewhere about 147 and 150 E., and about that point 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S. &c., V.P. 169 

turning seawards as west winds, the curves, as it were, touching 
at the point where a common tangent would stretch away towards 
the West Coast, and where, according to observation, the trees 
lean from the west." 

One of the points which I proposed to elucidate, was that " some 
of the southerly gales off the East Coast of Australia come from 
the north (as they should do), if there be any truth in the laws 
affirmed for the southern hemisphere." 

In allusion to the prevalence of winds on the south coast, I 
have cited several instances in which, what is general for South 
Australia, the winds veered from left to right. 

In subsequent papers during several years I published 
observations on the storms along the east coast, and especially on 
thunder-storms ; and of these I had logged down carefully with 
barometers, thermometers, and time-keeper close at hand, every 
few minutes or seconds, every change that occurred. Many of 
these I now produce. Much, however, of the matter I had 
prepared I sent, at the request of Admiral Erskine and by his 
hands, to the late Colonel Reid. 

My object in alluding to these descriptions is to show that 
during the time when meteorological observations had not been 
commenced here as a public duty and the facilities were far less 
than they are at present, private observers were at work and 
recorded their discoveries, just as Mr. Tebbutt is now doing with 
such praise -worthy industry. The appeal to private observers, 
at the close of his paper, has therefore already had encourage- 
ment beforehand. 

Another object in referring to my own pursuits, in connection 
with the study of storms, is to justify the observations which I 
wish to offer on Mr. Tebbutt's paper, as proving that I enter 
upon its discussion with some claim to offer an opinion, inas- 
much as I speak as much from observation as from theoretical 
views. And I may say that T have recorded far more observations 
on this subject than I have ever had leisure to put in print. 
What I have been enabled to do in the latter way has, I am 
happy to know, met the approval of others ; and not only has Dr. 
Leichhardt, but Mr. Piddington of Calcutta has also mentioned 
my old labours with approval. (Sailor's Horn Book, 2nd Ed., 
p. 631.) 


Mr. Tebbutt commences his paper with a remark relating to 
what is called Saxby's system. I agree with him in thinking, 
that whatever merit there may be in proving that derangements 
of the atmosphere are often coincident with certain epochs of the 
moon, there is nothing yet sufficiently known to authorise any 
dicta on the subject and to justify predictions of weather in 
Australia as deduced from it. Nay, many allotted days have 
indicated nothing of fulfilment. 

Two suggestions occur to me that if there be any truth in 
the idea that the passage of the moon over the equator is the 
sole cause of storms and changes of weather, it must have also 
been so from the beginning of creation, and no such thing 
as irregular variations could ever have occurred in the state of 
season ; and that if the moon's influence affect any portions of 
the earth beneath her attraction, all ought to be equally affected 
in the same way in succession. 

Now, facts certainly not fully coinciding with the theory, we 
need not look about for arguments to justify it. Noah Webster has 
a far greater belief in the lunar influence than Mr. Saxby ; but it 
may be safe to reject it as the main agent with Sir J. Herschel and 
M. Arago, who both deny it on convictions derived from a con- 
sideration" of all the phenomena presented to their enquiry. 
Nevertheless, I would speak with the highest respect of Mr. Saxby 
who is not, as some imagine, a mere pretender, but a man of 
science and well versed in all appliances to illustrate his subject : 
but he appears to me to have ridden his hobby a little too hard, 
as at present there is not evidence enough to sanction his 

Admiral Fitz Roy who, Mr. Tebbutt thinks, has established 
a system which we should also initiate in New South Wales 
appears to me to have deserved the great credit which is assigned 
to him as a most diligent and indefatigable observer, and a very 
practical and useful guide in directing others to observe and 
utilise their observations. But, it is not yet acknowledged that 
his system is perfect, or altogether to be depended on. I might 
quote on this head evidence that cannot be refuted. But I would 
guard these remarks on the conscientious labours of such men as 
Fitzroy and Saxby, by saying that I have read very carefully 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S. &c., V.P. 171 

and with much advantage the extensive lessons of the former, 
and that I name the latter author only in connection with what 
has been observed in Australasia ; and that it is not in a spirit of 
presumption that I venture to make the following remarks. 

I can, of course, have no objection to the establishment here 
of Observatories or Meteorological stations to test any of these 
views. Therefore, my remarks must not be interpreted into a 
denial of the value of such stations, could we only discover where 
they could be placed. Together with the late Admiral King, I 
waited on a late Governor, Sir Charles Fitz Roy, to urge the 
establishment of an Astronomical Observatory near Sydney, 
and if our recommendation, backed as it was by Capt. Owen 
Stanley, R.N., had been attended to, the present Astronomer 
would have been saved much inconvenience, and the Observatory 
would have been placed where it ought to have been, on the 
Silica Range, on the North Shore. 

I do not, therefore, object to fresh stations, but, with my 
views relating to storms, I do not yet see where we could place 
these stations, so as to become fore-casters of change. And the 
adoption of these is the main object, as I take it, of Mr. Tebbutt's 

In order to show this, I have entered into so much preliminary 
matter, before I examine the grounds of his argument. 

The first point noticed is the easterly tendency of the 
atmosphere in this hemisphere as well as in the northern, the 
latter of which is dwelt on by Admiral Fitz Roy, though it must 
be added that his synchronous curves are very irregular in this 
respect. . 

That the atmosphere partakes of the earth's motion there can 
be little doubt : I have shown this in my Herald essays. The 
upper wind in all known temperate latitudes is generally from 
the west, and of examples of this I would mention the dust (with 
American infusoria) so constantly falling over the Cape de Verd 
Islands, of which I have been eye witness ; and the volcanic 
ashes from South American eruptions which, falling upon the 
trade wind, were carried by it to the westward back again towards 

Mr. Tebbutt shows in his diagrams that there is, apparently, 


an easterly set in this way between the S.W. and N.B. points of a 
line joining Adelaide and Brisbane. But, whether this is due to 
the general atmospheric translation from west to east, or to the 
influence of a compound motion or resolution of forces of a 
southerly wind and a westerly wind during gales, does not 

That gales which come in at Adelaide from the S.W. and blow 
towards the N.E. in aright line, must by necessity have a seeming 
tendency to the east, is clear ; but, it may be open to conjecture 
whether gales which blow fiercely from the south would progress 
to the eastward, unless the general westerly current could over- 
power them. 

All this is on the supposition that such gales are right-lined, 
It is doubtful, however, whether they are not actually circular, 
and if it be so (and there can be no comparison as to the changes 
of wind following the same order at Sydney as well as at Adelaide 
and Brisbane, unless they are) the easterly progression must be 
due to some other cause. 

I will state what I believe the cause to be. 

In dealing with storms in Australia we must well weigh all 
the local conditions. Surrounded by wide oceans its coasts are 
exposed to the prevailing ocean winds. Along the east coast, at 
a moderate distance from it, runs a barrier of high land from 
3,000 to 7,200 feet in elevation, separating the eastern coast from 
the low interior, the southern part of which is exposed to the 
S.W., say about Adelaide. 

The tendency of the drainage of the northern part of the 
mountain barrier is (as shown by the Darling) in the same N.E. 
and S.W. line of which, in reversed direction, storms are assumed 
to travel from Adelaide to Brisbane. 

Now, it is reasonable to assume, that unless a storm has a 
vertical thickness greater than the height of the Cordillera it 
cannot cross it ; and, therefore, only such storms as are more 
than from 3,000 to 7,200 feet thick can cross the mountains, even 
if their area be wide enough : and thus many storms bringing 
heavy rains from S.W. never cross to the eastward at all, but 
travel along the western slopes of the Cordillera, leaving all the 
eastward dry and only slightly affected by other atmospherical 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c., V.R 173 

conditions consequent on the passage of the eastward edge of the 

Similarly, if gales come in from the N".E., unless they are verti- 
cally thick enough, they also travel southwardly along the eastern 
slopes of the Cordillera, and never water the western interior. 

I have collected examples of numerous gales which, although 
violent along the coast and up to the slope of the mountains, 
deluging the sea board with rain, have only been recognised at 
Bathurst or Wellington by a slight shower or Scotch mist, or a 
gently disturbed atmosphere. Such was the case during some 
of our late tempestuous weather ; for, whilst the Coast was under 
floods, patches of the western country were suffering from drought, 
being cut off by the high lands from access of the easterly winds. 

Mr. Tebbutt's mention of scud at Windsor when there is a 
storm at Sydney, and of only rare westerly gales at the former 
place, is thus to be explained. The scud beiag probably only 
evaporated moisture is borne on the very top of a thin gale ; and 
he, no doubt, rightly admits such local influences from the coasts 
and mountains. 

Mr. Tebbutt quotes the case of the storm of 25th and 26th 
October, 1863, showing that the same changes of wind and 
barometrical oscillations occurred between Adelaide and Windsor 
at an interval of 26 hours, and about a day later at Brisbane. 

Now, these successive changes prove that that gale was a Cy- 
clone, having probably a diameter of about 250 miles, and a mean 
progress of about 24 miles per hour (which is in remarkable 
agreement with the rate of numerous great East Pacific storms 
and cyclones), the eastern edge of which grazed and came over 
the summit of the Cordillera where it was about 4000 feet above 
the sea ; the thickness of the storm being about 5000 feet, which 
is the height, as obtained by measurement by myself, of very many 
of the gales in this colony. Mr. Redfield and Mr. Piddington 
assume a thickness of a mile (280 feet more) for several known 

On the east coast the gales appear to me to be at certain 
seasons of an equally cyclonic character. And Mr. Tebbutt quite 
co-incides in opinion with me as to the nature of those gales, 
as resulting from the combined forces of polar aerial currents and 



the set of the warm ocean current from the N.E., which has, 
I am persuaded, a great deal to do with the rains which have so 
often fallen upon our shores, and especially during the late 
terrible season of floods. 

I watched the state of the ocean during several of our late 
gales. It was everywhere, within reach of my sight, smoking 
with fog which, drifting in with the rain from the surface of the 
ocean current, caused that superabundant moisture which was 
twice observed on smooth walls and metallic surfaces that 
streamed with it, owing to the sudden condensation of the warm 
vapour. The high thermometer and the increase of Ozone 
which is characteristic of sea winds, both show how much those 
periods were affected by the influence of equatorial currents. 

A storm of striking features, in February, 1863, was noticed 
by Mr. Tebbufct and registered in the Empire, which showed a 
progression to southwards. 

Very little was wanting to the collected data, to give a 
complete history of that storm. Fortunately, I was at the time 
in a position to supplement Mr. Tebbutt's observations. I was 
then to the westward of the Bell River, about 260 or 270 miles 
W. by N". of Windsor, and about 25 miles from the head of the 
Bogan. Having a barometer and thermometer with me, I was 
enabled to notice what took place ; and one remarkable fact 
preceding the gale was, that we had the regular sea breeze 
on the evening before, which in all probability came in through a 
distance of 300 miles from the neighbourhood of Port Macquarie. 
I have frequently felt the sea breeze under the Liverpool Range. 
As there is no land much higher than 4000 feet between the two 
points, the sea breeze must at least have had about the same 
vertical thickness. In Maneero I have found it generally not 
more than that. As I was observing the western edge of the 
gale, the diameter of it must have been at least about 300 miles. 

Another gale that of April and May, 1864 is noticed by 
Mr. Tebbutt ; and by the periods of minimum barometrical pres- 
sure and changes of wind, this was a gale from the northward. 

Now, I would call attention to a fact I alluded to when I began, 
the wide area over which ordinarily the atmospherical phenomena 
are persistent. 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c., V.P. 175 

When my late friend Mr. Kennedy was exploring the Barcoo 
and desert country about it and the "Warrego, I carried on at St. 
Leonard's simultaneous observations, as I did when he was in 
York Peninsula. On the former occasion there was the most 
marked agreement with my own observations and those made by 
Mr. Kennedy. Eight hundred miles to the N.W. especially on 
2 8th-3 1st August, 1847 Kennedy had strong E. andKE. winds 
on the desert of the Barcoo ; whilst on the 26-27-28th, a heavy gale 
was blowing along the coast of Tasmania, and strong N.E. to N. 
winds blew at Sydney. The winds shifted from N.E. to S. in the 
latter part of September, 1847, both at Brisbane and on the Barcoo. 

Again on 13th October, squalls and thunderstorms occurred 
simultaneously at Sydney and on the lower part of the Barcoo. 

Such coincidences as these are, however, not always due to 
progressing gales. I suspect, from having made hundreds of 
similar observations, that separate storms often occur simultane- 
ously, or nearly so, over wide regions, as if the moving causes 
were some kinds of electric shock propagated from a distance and 
successively charging (at minute intervals) areas of atmosphere 
in a similar condition. If Admiral Fitz Roy's dictum is true, that 
one storm cannot maintain itself for more than four days, it is 
impossible to account for the facts often observed of weeks of 
stormy weather without coming to some such conclusion as I 
long ago adopted, and which I am glad to see strengthened by 
Admiral Fitz Roy's opinion. 

During thundery weather, I have frequently noticed the fact 
that thunderstorms are simultaneous, or nearly so, at Bathurst 
and Sydney ; and if these storms be so propagated or 
connected, why not other kinds of storms, such as gales of wind 
and cyclones ? 

I will not now dwell further on this, but state distinctly that 
in my humble opinion Mr. Tebbutt rightly infers, not alone from 
the storms of 1861 cited by him, that such storms are occasioned 
by two currents. 

I state unreservedly, and I can show it by phenomena of storms 
noted down, as in the example I now produce, that there are 
always two winds at work in all great derangements of the 
atmosphere in Australia. 


A heavy thunderstorm from S.W. is always preceded by a 
N.E. wind, and if such a wind in summer blows fresh after sun- 
down, in 9 times out of 10 the next day will exhibit thunder. 

So, preceding the gales of 6th and 9th August, 1861, 1 noticed 
the upper clouds progressing from the westward, and the surface 
wind from westward also, when, quietly at first, a body of 
clouds which had formed in the east began to move westwardly, 
and the east wind wedged itself in between the two westerly 
strata, and after a struggle of about 3 hours obtained the mastery. 

A similar phenomenon was observed by me before the cyclone 
of ll-12th June last, and that of June, 1857. So constant 
is the struggle between the polar and equatorial winds, that I 
have never missed it when I have looked for it, at the commence- 
ment and close of a hot wind. The hot wind frequently com- 
mences at Sydney from seaward at N.E., and ends at S.W. or S. ; 
clouds, for hours preceding the change, gathering in S.W. by 
condensation of the vapour suspended by the N.W. wind through 
the contact with the S. wind. The KB. wind hot is the hot N.W. 
current deflected by the KB. 

Furthermore, I have stood out in a furious hot wind for hours 
watching the wind vane, which is then oscillating between S.W. 
and N.W. ; and if any one will but place an aneroid on his table, 
under his eye, during one of our summer thunderstorms, he will 
observe the index oscillating to and fro, as the pressures occasioned 
by the two winds engaged in conflict alter according as they gain 
or lose strength by turns. 

Taking then all these facts into consideration, I consider it 
demonstrated that there are always two winds engaged in all our 

Now, to utilise the observations we have by forecasting coming 
storms, seems to be the object of Mr. Tebbutt's paper. I agree 
with him, that to do this we must have more observers, and 
perhaps more correct ones than we have at present. 

Many of the published notes in the daily papers are useless, 
from occasional typographical errors, and errors of observation. 
I have been in the habit of checking the figures given by the 
observers, which, when the heights of the places of observation 
are known, is the easiest -thing possible. If the readings are 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c., V.P. 177 

correct, the difference calculated between any two places ought 
to agree within a few feet. I have occasionally found 50 and 
60 feet of difference on different days, which shows that there 
must be errors in reading or recording the observations. But if 
we had fresh troops of observers, where shall we place them ? 

If our East coast storms come in from the N.E. or S.E., they 
must hit the coast at some point or other, and it does not at all 
follow that they must necessarily travel upwards or downwards. 
Sometimes they hit the coast after rec&rving, and get doubled up 
by recoil from the mountains, and then, after a short struggle, in 
which the wind backs (and of course blows) as it did in the heavy 
gale of the 1st July last, return after the fashion of circles made 
by a stone thrown into water, which circles run contrary when 
tney impinge on an obstacle. 

At other times, the whole coast, as during the late season, 
from Cape York to Cape Howe, is similarly affected in succession 
or contemporaneously, and in such a case, Coast stations might 
give warning. But, it is very doubtful whether S.W. gales 
running up the back of the Cordillera, could be so watched and 
turned to account. 

Nevertheless, as information would be obtained, which, if to 
be relied on, is always valuable, the establishment of fresh stations 
for observation would be desirable. 

But, I think a more desirable object would be the passing of a 
law by the legislature, rendering it imperative on masters of ships 
arriving from abroad, or belonging to our coasting marine, to place 
copies of their logs in the hands of the Astronomer. We often read 
of hurricanes off our coasts, such being the character assigned by 
masters of small craft to a blow of wind which a ship of 1000 
tons would consider as nothing. On the other hand, we should 
obtain data in connection with N.E. gales, by vessels coming from 
the Islands, and with E. gales, by passages to and from New 
Zealand, which would be invaluable to persons engaged in 
deciphering the elements of Australasian storms, and in turning 
them to account. 

On the Cave Temples of India, 

BEFORE proceeding to a description of the different cave temples 
I have visited in India, a brief account of the supposed religious 
origin, uses, and classification of those temples generally, will 
serve to elucidate the subject, and explain the names I shall have 
to apply to them throughout. 

The old temples of India have long claimed from the antiquary 
a large share of attention, not only on account of the peculiarity 
of their construction, but also because the period of their erection 
appears in almost every case to be involved in the deepest obscu- 
rity. The hypogsea, or subterraneous cavern structures, con- 
cerning which I have at present to speak, are perhaps the most 
remarkable monuments of human labour and perseverance to be 
met with in Asia, Many of them contain statues of colossal 
dimensions, and their walls are covered over with elaborate 
embellishments of the most fanciful description. The ancient 
chronologers of India have not assisted us in revealing the 
antiquity of these wonderful mountain cave temples, but their 
statements and writings only serve yet further to perplex the 
confused accounts that have been handed down from past ages, 
and to make our conjectures more uncertain and unsatisfactory. 
It may appear, at first sight, singular that a people so skilful in 
the fine arts as the inhabitants of Hindostan, should have 
selected such lonely and uncouth places for the site of their idol 
temples. Islands, subterraneous caves, and almost inaccessible 
mountains appear to have been their favourite localities for the 
erection of buildings which, as we cannot doubt, were intended 
as places for the daily celebration of their peculiar worship. It 
is, however, to be considered that, from time immemorial, India 
has been a prey to marauding chiefs and lawless usurpers, who 
robbed, desolated, and destroyed almost every important place 
which they visited in their frequently-recurring predatory 


excursions. Many of the idols set up in these temples during 
the hours of devotion were thought to be of great value, and 
it is not uncommon even now to see them formed of gold or 
silver, having for eyes diamonds and other precious stones. I 
saw an instance of this in visiting the hill temple of Parbutty, 
near Poona, held in high veneration by the natives, and supported 
by the Government from motives of policy. A blind Brahmin 
in charge opened with his key the iron doors of the corner pagodas, 
each one containing a god in white marble. I was not allowed 
to approach the middle temple, but a light was procured and 
held against the door to enable me to see inside the group of the 
god Seva, in solid silver, Gunputty his wife, and Parbutty the 
child, both in solid gold. Their eyes are made of diamonds and 
rubies of great price, which I saw sparkling in the dark. They 
are robed in white dresses, put on by Brahmins, who are the only 
persons allowed ever to enter their sanctuary. The three idols 
are valued at 60,000 rupees. Twenty-five Brahmin priests of 
high caste are paid by the Company a sum of 18,000 rupees a 
year to live in the temple and perform the rites. A guard of 
sepoys is furnished by the Government for the protection of 
these idols. As these idols offered great temptations to the 
plunderer, it was necessary, therefore, in order to carry on the 
ceremonies inculcated in the sacred Vedoo, and at the same time 
to preserve the riches of the temple from the spoiler's hand, that 
these buildings should be erected in places presenting great 
natural advantages in the way of security. The officiating priests 
resided upon the spot, in rooms set apart for their accommodation ; 
and the deluded worshippers who came, often laden with offerings, 
to pray, cared little for distance, or for the difficulties of the road ; 
seeing that the more dangers they encountered in these their 
pious journeyings, the more acceptable they believed their service 
to be. Of the licentious character of the rites celebrated in these 
Pagan temples, it is needless here to speak. They have passed 

It has been remarked by travellers in ancient and modern 
Egypt, that there is a striking resemblance known to subsist 
between the usages, the superstitions, the arts, and the mythology 
of the ancient inhabitants of Western India, to those of the first 


settlers on the Upper Nile. The temples of Nubia, for example, 
exhibit the same features, whether as to style of architecture or 
the form of worship to which they were devoted, with the similar 
buildings which have recently been examined in the neighbour- 
hood of Bombay. 

In both cases they consist of vast excavations hewn out in the 
solid body of a hill or mountain, and are decorated with huge 
figures which indicate the same powers of nature, or serve as 
emblems to denote the same qualities in the ruling spirits of the 
universe. As a further proof of this hypothesis, we are informed 
that the Sepoys who joined the British army in Egypt, under 
Lord Hutchinson, imagined that they found their own temples in 
the ruin of Dendera, and were greatly exasperated at the natives 
for their neglect of the ancient deities whose images are still pre- 
served. So strongly indeed were they impressed with this 
identity, that they proceeded to perform their devotions with all 
the ceremonies practiced in their land. There is a resemblance, 
too, in the minor instruments of their superstition the lotus, the 
lingam, and the serpent which can hardly be regarded as acci- 
dental ; but it is no doubt in the immense extent, the gigantic 
plan, the vast conception which appears in all their sacred 
buildings, that we most readily discover the influence of the same 
lofty genius, and the endeavour to accomplish the same mighty 
object. The excavated temples of Guerfeh Hassan, for instance, 
remind every traveller of the cave of Elephanta. The resem- 
blance, indeed, is singularly striking, as are, in fact, all the 
leading principles of Egyptian architecture, and that of the 
Hindoos. By whom and by what means these wonderful efforts 
have been accomplished is a mystery sunk too deep in the abyss 
of time ever to be revealed. 

Mr. Fergusson, who has devoted more time to their investi- 
gation than most travellers or antiquarians, with the exception of 
Mr. Prinsep and Dr. Bird, has arrived at the following conclusions 
with regard to the antiquity of the monuments ; that the oldest 
relics of whose existence he is aware are the Laths, bearing inscrip- 
tions of Asoka, dating from the middle of the third century B.C., 
and that he is not aware of the existence of any cave anterior to, 
or even coeval with these, nor of any structural building whose 


date can reach so high as the first centuries of our era. He also 
states that it appears quite evident that the Buddhists were the 
earliest cave-diggers, and that it is not difficult to trace the 
connection of the whole series from " the earliest abode of Buddha 
ascetics " at Nagarjuni, to the Kylas at Ellora. As far as our 
knowledge of the cave temples of India extends, the whole may be 
classified under the following heads : 

First, Vihara, or Monastery Caves. 1st, The first sub- 
division of this class consists of natural caverns, or caves, 
slightly improved by art ; they are, as might be assumed, the 
most ancient, and are only found appropriated to religious 
purposes in the older series of Behar and Cuttack ; and though 
some are found among the western caves, their existence there 
appears to be quite accidental. 

The second subdivision consists of a verandah opening be- 
hind into cells for the abode of the priests, but without 
sanctuaries or images of any sort. 

In the third subdivision of Vihara caves, the last arrangement 
is further extended by the enlargement of the hall, and the con- 
sequent necessity of its centre being supported by pillars ; and in 
this division, besides the cells that surround the hall, there is 
always a deep recess facing the entrance, in which is generally 
placed a statue of Buddha, with his usual attendants thus 
fitting the cave to become not only an abode for the priests, but 
also a place of worship. 

To this division belong by far the greatest number of Buddhist 
excavations. The most splendid of these are those of Ajunta, 
though the Dherwarra, at Ellora, is also fine ; and there are also 
some good specimens at Salsette and Junir. 

The second class consists of Buddhist Chaitya Caves. These 
are the temples, or, if I may use the expression, the churches of 
the series, and one or more of them is attached to every set of 
caves in the west of India, though none exist in the eastern side. 
Unlike the Viharas, the plan and arrangement of all these 
caves is exactly the same ; and, though the details and sculpture 
vary with the age in which they were executed, some strong 
religious feeling seems to have attached the Buddhists to one 
particular form for their places of worship. 


In the Viharas we can trace the progress from the simple 
cavern to the perfect monastery ; but these Chaitya caves seem at 
once to have sprung to perfection, and the Karli cave, which is 
the most perfect, is also considered the oldest in India. 

All these caves consist of an external porch, or music gallery, 
an internal gallery over the entrance, a centre aisle, which I will 
call the nave (from its resemblance to what bears that name in 
our churches), which is always at least twice the length of its 
breadth, and is roofed with a plain waggon-vault ; to this is 
added a semi- dome, terminating the nave, under the centre of 
which always stands a Dagoba, or chaitya. 

A narrow aisle always surrounds the whole interior, separated 
from the nave by a range of massive columns. The aisle is 
generally flat roofed, though sometimes, in the earlier examples, 
it is covered by a semi-vault. 

In the oldest temples the Dagoba consists of a plain circular 
drum, surmounted by a hemispherical dome crowned by a Tee, 
which supported the umbrella of state. In the earlier examples 
this was in wood, and as a general rule, it may be asserted, that in 
these all the parts that would be constructed in wood in a struc- 
tural building, are in wood in the caves ; but in the more modern 
caves all those parts, such as the music gallery outside, the ribs 
of the roof, the ornaments of the Dagoba, the umbrella of state, 
&c., are repeated in the rock, though the same forms are preserved. 
These two classes comprehend all the Buddhist caves in India. 

The third class consists of Brahminical caves, properly so 
called. In form, many of them are copies of, and all a good deal 
resemble the Buddhist Yihara, so much so as at first sight to 
lead to the supposition that they are appropriations of Buddhist 
caves to Brahminical purposes. On a more intimate acquaint- 
ance, however, with them, many points of distinction are observed. 
The arrangement of the pillars, and the position of the sanctuary, 
is in no instance the same as in a Vihara. They are never sur- 
rounded by cells, as all Viharas are, and their walls are in- 
variably covered, or meant to be, with sculpture ; while the 
Viharas are almost as invariably decorated by painting, except 
the sanctuary. The subjects of the sculpture, of course, always 
set the question at rest. 


The finest specimens of this class are at Ellora and Elephanta ; 
also on the island of Salsette. These two last I have visited and 
described. I have also described the Buddhist temple of Karli, 
and was the first writer who gave a description of the cave temple 
of Bambourda, near Poona, which, although differing from any 
other I have seen, I believe should be classed amongst the third, 
or Brahminical order. Dr. Bird told me that they were first 
described by a Danish traveller, in the transactions of the Asiatic 
Society, in 1853 ; but he was not aware that my account was pub- 
lished in my work in 1850. 

I shall now attempt to describe the rock-cut temples in the 
order in which I visited them, beginning with the most cele- 
brated those of Elephanta, next Kannari, then Karli, and lastly, 
Bambourda. Elephanta, called by the natives Gara-pori, is an 
island seven miles from Bombay and five from the Mahratta 
shore. It is six miles in circumference, and is composed of two 
hills, with a valley between, at the foot of which, as you land, 
you see just above the shore on your right an elephant coarsely 
cut out in stone, of the natural size and colour, standing on a 
platform of stones, which has given the name to the island. 

Ascending an easy slant, about half way up the hill, you come 
to the opening or portal of a large cavern, hewn out of a solid 
rock, into a magnificent temple ; for such it may well be termed, 
considering the immense labour involved in such an excavation, an 
attempt that appears far more bold than that of the pyramids of 
Egypt. There is a fair entrance into this subterraneous temple, 
which is an oblong square, in length 135 feet by 120 broad. The 
floor not being level, the height varies from fifteen to eighteen 
feet. The roof was supported by twenty-six pillars and eight 
pilasters, disposed in four rows ; but several of the pillars are 
broken. Each column stands upon a square pedestal, and is 
fluted; but instead of being cylindrical, is gradually enlarged 
towards the middle. 

Above the tops of the columns a kind of ridge has been cut, to 
resemble a beam about twelve inches square, and this is richly 
carved. Along the sides of the temple are cut between forty and 
fifty colossal figures, in height from twelve to fifteen feet, none of 
them being entirely detached from the wall. Some of these 


figures have on their heads a kind of helmet ; others wear crowns, 
with rich devices ; and others again are without any other cover- 
ing than curled a.nd flowing hair. Some of them have four, and 
others six hands, holding sceptres, shields, symbols of justice, 
ensigns of religion, weapons of war, and trophies of peace. On 
the South side, facing the entrance, is an enormous bust with 
three faces, representing the triple deity, the Hindoo Trimurti or 
Trinity of " Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva." Brahma, the creator, 
occupies the centre position. This face measures five feet in length, 
the width from the ear to the middle of the nose is three feet, the 
width of the whole figure is near twenty feet. On the right is 
the preserver, Vishnu, holding a Lotus ; and Siva, the destroyer, 
is on the left, having in his hand a cobra capella, or hooded snake, 
and on his cap a human skull. To the left of this bust, amid a 
group of uncouth figures, is one, a female form, to which the 
name of Amazon has been given, from the fact of its being 
without the right breast. This figure has four arms. The right 
fore-arm rests upon the head of a bull ; the left fore-arm hangs 
down, and once contained something which is now mutilated and 
undistinguishable. The hand of the right arm grasps a cobra 
capella, and that of the hinder left arm holds a shield. 

At the east end is a passage, about eighteen feet long, termi- 
nating in an open space that admits the light through a sort of 
shaft-hole in the rock, and containing a delicious spring of the 
finest water to be found in this part of India. As Bombay has 
long been proverbial for the badness of its water, the table of the 
Governor is supplied from this spring, and many who are about 
to sail from the country lay in a few dozens of it 'for the voyage, 
as it keeps well. The approach to this place is guarded by four 
figures, fourteen feet high, beautifully executed, and more perfect 
than any to be found in this temple. 

At the west end, and almost opposite the passage that leads 
to the well, is a room or recess of about twenty feet square, 
having in the centre of it an altar, upon which are placed symbols 
of a worship " offensive to European notions of delicacy." The 
entrance to this recess is also guarded by eight naked figures? 
each fourteen feet high, sculptured in a manner which shows that 
the people by whom they were executed must have made consider- 


able progress in the statuary's art. The whole of this portion of 
the excavation is in a very ruinous condition, and the roof appears 
to be fast sinking in. The rains being permitted to lodge within 
the whole of the temples four months out of the twelve does much 
to hasten the destruction of those interesting monuments. When 
the Portuguese became masters of this part of India and visited 
this island, they were so horrified by the character of .this heathen 
temple that they ordered a piece of heavily loaded cannon to be 
planted opposite the entrance, with the hope of destroying the 
principal pillars that support the roof, and burying the cave in the 
ruins of the mountain above it. 

Still further to the right, is the entrance to a subterraneous 
passage, with deep clear water. A friend of mine, prompted 
by curiosity, once swam some hundred feet up this passage 
with a lighted candle, but could not see to the end of the 
excavation. Snakes and other reptiles are often met with in 
some of these dark recesses, and the cavern itself is not visitable 
after the rains, until the ground has had time to dry into com- 
plete hardness. Different writers, according to their general 
notions on the subject of Indian antiquities, have adopted 
very different opinions relative to the age of this magnificent 
excavation ; some referring it to the most remote age ; others 
attributing it to a much more recent period. Mr. Fergasson 
alludes to the general similarity of these caves to those of Ellora, 
with which he has no doubt they are contemporary ; indeed 
there is a degree of similarity between the two series, which is 
singular in structures so distant, and which can only be accounted 
for by their being undertaken at the same time, and probably 
under the same direction. 

Colonel Tod considers that the noblest remains of sacred 
architecture, throughout Western India, are of Boodh or Jain 
origin, and assigns to the first temple of Dwarka, now sacred to 
Krishna, an antiquity of 1200 years before Christ. 

The cave temples of Kanari, in the island of Salsette, are 
twenty- two miles from Bombay, and four beyond the village of 
Vehar ; from which village, proceeding through a thick jungle, 
along the edge of deep gullies, you reach the village of Tulsi, in 
the immediate vicinity of the caves. 


The Kanari Caves are excavated on the west and north faces 
of a round hill connected with the principal ranges, in the midst of 
wild and most picturesque scenery. They consist of one large 
Chaitya cave, and numerous small Yiharas, all temples of Buddha. 
The largest is very like the temple of Karli in form, but smaller 
and not so highly finished. The portico in front contains two 
gigantic figures of a male and female, 25 feet high, and the walls 
are covered with smaller statues and inscriptions, similar to those 
of Karli. There have been ribs of teak to support the arched roof, 
of which few now remain. On each side of the nave is a row of 
fifteen octagonal pillars, each being surmounted by a group of two 
elephants carrying a male and a female, in rather a dilapidated 
state. At the end of the temple is a large stone Dagoba, or altar, 
which appears once to have been crowned with the teak-made 
umbrella that is now missing. The umbrella is peculiar to all 
the temples of Buddhist worship, and supposed to cover relics of 
Buddha. This cave is 90 feet long by 40 in breadth, and about 
the same height. Clusters of large bats are seen hanging from 
the roof, which is covered with them. I shot one for the purpose 
of examining it, and found it to be similar to the species called 
flying foxes. 

The smaller caves are situated in the hill behind the large 
one, forming six stories, one above the other, giving the hill 
almost the appearance of a honeycomb. At the entrance of each 
cave is a deep stone cistern, containing beautiful clear water, and 
on each side of the walls is a carving of a sort of hieroglyphic 
figure, an inch deep, and about two feet long. 

Descending southwards from this elevation are several deep 
pits, built up with burnt bricks, probably the burial-places of 
those who inhabited the caves. 

Dr. Bird, in speaking of Kanari, says : " The large excavation 
is further distinguished by having in front of it, on a ledge of the 
mountain, several small mounds, or burying-places of the ' raliats? 
or saints, who were tenants of the caves. One of them I opened 
in 1839, and found two copper urns containing human ashes. 
In one of the urns was a small gold box, containing fragments of 
white cotton rag, with a pearl, a ruby, and some small pieces of 
gold ; in the other was a silver box with ashes." 


" It is not only the numerous caves," observes Lord Valentine, 
" that give an idea of what the population of this barren rock 
must once have been, but the tanks, the terraces, and the nights 
of steps which lead from one part to another. Yet now, not a 
human footstep is to be heard, except when the curiosity of a 
traveller leads him to pay a hasty visit to the ruined habitations 
of those whose very name has passed away, and whose cultivated 
fields are become an almost impassable jungle, the haunt of 
tigers, and the seat of pestilence and desolation." 

One thing that struck me as most singular, is the extraor- 
dinary manner in which the inscriptions on these temples is 
preserved, the characters being as distinct as if they were quite 
recently engraved. 

The next inscription, over a water reservoir of one of the 
small caves of Kanari, has been rendered thus by the savants in 
Oriental antiquities : " This tank is the pious work of Sulisadata 
(in obedience to) the word of the radical golden originator of all 
things, the prophet of friendship." 

The inscriptions on these temples, they say, are in a language 
neither pure Pali nor Sanscrit, though approaching sufficiently 
near either to be intelligible through their medium. The charac- 
ter in which it is written differs but little from that of inscriptions 
on Asoka pillars, which was in use we know during the third 
century B.C. ; to this class belong Karli, Kanari, Aurungabad, 
Nassik, Junir, Ellora. 

About half way between Poona and Bombay, in the Ghaut 
mountains, on the right-hand side of the valley as you proceed 
towards the sea, -and a mile from the village of Karli, is situated 
the great cave temple of Karli, without exception the largest and 
finest Chaitya cave in India, and fortunately also the best pre- 
served. It is the finest specimen of a Buddha cathedral which 
can be met with. It is excavated in " Amygdaloid trap," and is 
vaulted. As you ascend the hill by a steep tortuous path over 
rocks and through jungle, the entrance to the temple (impossible 
to find without a guide,) bursts suddenly upon the sight. Passing 
under a gateway, over which is erected a square stone room con- 
taining drums, trumpets, gongs, and bells, for the performance 
of sacred music during festivals, a dozen men being paid by the 


company for that purpose ; you have on the right a pagoda, in 
which I saw an old faqueer, who had lost all his fingers from 
disease. In front of this is a lofty portico, supported at the 
entrance by two high octagonal pillars. The walls are all 
covered with sculptures of men and women, as large as life ; and 
on each side project the trunks, heads, and fore-legs of three 
elephants, of great size, and well executed, carved, like all the 
rest, out of the solid rock ; two of the trunks only remain entire. 
Several inscriptions in character and language unknown, one of 
which I copied on the spot, appear on the pillars, and on different 
parts of the portico ; they are as legible as if done a few years 
ago. From the portico, a small door leads at once into the grand 
cave, which at first appears almost like magic, and surpasses 
anything I had ever imagined. Elephanta and Kanari cannot 
compare with it, and probably only those of Ellora may be 

The general outline resembles an old Gothic cathedral. On 
each side is a row of eighteen pillars, supporting an arched roof, 
lined with ribs of teak wood. The pillars are octagonal, with 
round bases. The first fifteen are surmounted by two elephants, 
each having on his back a male and female figure, with their 
arms entwined. On the other side of the Elephant, out of sight, 
are two horses couchant, which would have escaped my obser- 
vation, had not a native called me behind the pillar, where it is 
almost dark, to point them out. The height of the temple is 
about fifty feet, its length 120, and extreme breadth forty-eight 
feet. The nave between each row of pillars is just twenty-four 
feet, leaving twelve feet for the aisles on either side, the passage 
along which is very dark. At the farther extremity is a large 
solid stone structure, round, and the upper part shaped like a 
dome, the circumference of which is forty feet. This dome is 
surmounted with a pedestal, narrow at the base, and becoming 
gradually broader like an inverted pyramid. In this is fixed a 
large open umbrella, made of strong teak wood, reaching very 
nearly to the roof. This sort of altar is called a " Dagoba," and 
is found in most all the cave temples of Buddhist origin. Innu- 
merable large bats are hanging from the roof, or flying about, 
and a species of squirrel, with vertical black and grey stripes, is 


continually running along the walls, producing a very lively 
effect. This place being excavated out of the solid rock, from 
which also are formed the pillars, sculptures, and dagoba, the 
whole temple may be considered as one single solid structure, 
with the exception of the teak umbrella. 

. A few yards to the left of the portico are some wells of 
clear water, one of which runs under a subterraneous passage, and 
near them are large square excavations like rooms, one above the 
other, an old ladder being the only means of ascending to the 
upper one. In each of these are about twenty little dark rooms 
placed all around, each having a stone seat. These appear to 
have been the separate chambers of the priests belonging to the 
temple. Here everything is plain, without sculpture or inscrip- 
tion. This is the Yihara, or monastery caves that appear to be 
attached as at Kanari to the cathedral-like excavation of Buddha 

Passing through Karli, on my return from Poona I paid a 
second visit to the caves to take a few sketches, and was not a 
little astonished to find them filled with swarms of people, large 
families being encamped in every corner, and outside all around, 
where stalls for the sale of fruit and sweetmeats were erected, 
giving the spot the appearance of a great fair. I found on en- 
quiry that all this concourse of people was assembled to celebrate 
the Hindoo fetes of Jattera, which last a fortnight from the 6th 
of April, full moon, and that they were principally of the Coolie 
tribe who came there on an annual pilgrimage from all parts of 
the Concan, Canari, and the Malabar coast, Upwards of 1500 
sheep had been killed in the caves the day before, as a sacrifice 
to the gods, which accounted for the number of fresh raw sheep- 
skins I saw drying on the rocks and surrounding trees in all 
directions. On hearing this I congratulated myself on being able 
to obtain a meal of fresh mutton at the bungalow, but was 
informed by the Portuguese butler that not for any consideration 
could a slice be had from the natives, this being a religious cere- 
mony that entitled none but themselves to partake of the sacri- 
ficial viands. 

A sirdar of the Rajah of Sattara having favoured me with the 
loan of an elephant, I rode out on it to the cave temple of Bam- 



bourda, a mile from Poona, and had a very narrow chance of not 
discovering it. I was close to the spot, surrounded by natives, 
but they could not understand what I wanted. At last a young 
lad guessed it, and in a few minutes, after crossing some rocky 
ground, he led me to the entrance of the cave, which is below 
the surface of the earth, and might easily be passed by as a small 
gravel pit. It has not long been discovered, and never described 
until this account was written. It differs entirely from any other 
cave I have seen, and I should think is of much less antiquity 
than the other ones. In an open space in front is a large dome, 
supported by twelve square pillars, without any carvings, having 
in the middle four pillars, covered by a square top. The 
entrance to the temple is between two large lions couchant, of 
granite, which are the only evidences of sculpture of any sort 
contained in it. The roof is quite flat and low, supported by 
five rows of eight plain square pillars in each. At the end an 
opening leads into two separate rooms, in the middle of which 
are stone Dagobas. I saw no well nor cistern here, but on the 
right at the entrance is a deep square hole, which seems to have 
contained water. 

My guide said that this cave extended several miles under- 
ground by a subterraneous passage, having another entrance on 
a hill three miles off and directly opposite, whch he pointed out ; 
that it had been blocked up and reduced to its present size to 
keep out tigers and other wild beasts, to which it afforded a safe 
retreat. I found at the extreme end a modern wall, plastered 
over, that seemed to bear out what he said, and had- it not been 
late, would have gone across to the opposite hill to verify the 
fact: Few people at Poona had seen this cave or were aware of 
its existence. 

My desire for exploring cave temples having become known 
in camp, Captain Jacob, well informed on Indian antiquities, told 
me before I started from Poona, that if at Kurkala, five miles 
beyond Worgaum, I took the road to the left, I should reach the 
caves of Birsa, five miles off, but in the direction of the fort of 
Lohagurh, which I intended to visit on my return. All the 
villagers assembled around me at Kurkala assured me that it was 
on the right hand side, instead of the left as I had been told, 


pointing to a hill some miles distant, which I reached with great 
difficulty, across a country covered with rocks, and my suspicions 
were too well confirmed, when, after toiling for hours under a 
burning sun, I entered on the top of the hill, a small square 
pagoda filled with bells and peacock's feathers, such as I had 
passed on the road every day. 

This mistake arose from my not knowing the Mahratta word 
for CAVE TEMPLE, and therefore the impossibility of making the 
simple-minded natives dream of what I was seeking with so much 
labour and, in this case, useless toil and disappointment. 

I have since ascertained, beyond doubt, that these caves exist 
where Captain Jacob pointed them out, to the left of the main 
road mention being made of them in " Grant Duff's History of 
the Mahrattas." 

On Snake-bites and their Antidotes, 

A few general remarks on the various Snakes of Australia 
will, I presume, be interesting to those who are exposed to the 
danger of them, and may also be a guide to the person bitten, as 
to the urgency of the case, and necessity for more or less active 

The Snakes of Australia may, for our purpose, be divided into 
two distinct classes, the venomous and the non-venomous. The 
venomous most often met with are here named and classed in the 
order of their SUPPOSED virulence : 

The Deaf Adder. 

The brown-banded Snake with yellow belly. 

The brown Snake. 

The black Snake. 


The whip Snake. 

The lead-coloured Snake. 

Various other Snakes, according to particular locality. 

Nearly all varieties of Sea- Snakes. 

The non -venomous are : 

The carpet Snake. 
The diamond Snake. 
The green Tree- Snake. 
The brown Tree- Snake, &c. 

These are quite harmless, and like the Boa-Constrictor, capture 
their prey alive, and gradually devour it. The two first are 
nocturnal in their habits, and so is the prey they live upon. The 
pupil of the eye is linear, like a cat's, and having no poison fangs, 
their bite cannot be dangerous, so that no further observations 
on them will be required. 

As a general rule, all snakes of a dirty, livid colour, with the 
fissure of the jaws straight, instead of curved, and flat head, may 
be looked upon as poisonous, and in a greater degree as these 
features are more or less present the Deaf Adder and brown- 
banded Snake being very good illustrations of this rule, as they 
answer in a high degree to the above leading features, and are, as is 
well known, the most deadly of all our snakes. There are however 
many bright-coloured Snakes in this and other countries highly 
dangerous, as well as the livid ones. The real proof, however, of 
a venomous snake, consists in the poison fangs, one of which is 
situated on each side of the upper jaw, hidden in the fold of the 
gum, and can be seen when the animal is irritated, like a very 
sharp-pointed tooth, slightly curved backwards ; it is traversed 
by a grooved canal in the tooth, leading from a gland placed 
under the eye, where the poison is constantly secreted for use . 
and when the snake intends to bite, the poison glands, compressed 
by muscular action, impel the poison into the excretory canal, 
which conducts it through the fangs, from which it is instilled 
into the punctured wounds they have made. The longer the 
snake retains his hold, the more dangerous will the bite prove, as 
he has been able by continued compression of the apparatus, 


to squeeze more poison into the wound than by a superficial 
sudden bite ; there may also be found only one puncture instead 
of two, if the bite has been given sideways, one fang only having 
entered the part, which might lessen the danger. 

One great peculiarity in all the Australian Snakes is, as 
compared with the venomous Snakes of other countries, the 
remarkably small size and shortness of their poison fangs, seldom 
exceeding one-sixth of an inch, and often much less, with pro- 
portionate small calibre ; which fact being well borne in mind 
will assist materially in diminishing the danger, and simplifying 
the treatment as regards the excision of the bitten part, which, 
being never deep, does not require those frightful mutilations we 
often hear of in the country, with the addition of gunpowder set 
alight on the wound, fingers chopped off, and other useless acts, 
which a knowledge of the anatomy of the apparatus will prove at 
once to be quite uncalled for, as the cutting out of a piece of 
flesh as large as a sixpence, well raised up with the forceps, 
will necessarily include any part that the fangs could have 

It is widely different with the Snakes of tropical countries, 
whose fangs are often much thicker and longer ; for instance, the 
Puff- Adder of South Africa, of which I have seen the fangs half 
an inch long, and thick in proportion. The Rattle-Snake, and 
Cobra di Capello, have much larger fangs than the Australian 
Snakes, their bite being also much more fatal. The Deaf- Adder is 
peculiar in having larger fangs than any other Australian Snake, 
and has something at the end of its tail like a sting, about a 
quarter of an inch long, similar to a thorn, which it can erect at 
will. There is a popular error very prevalent that when it bites 
it stings simultaneously with its tail, which it appears to do by 
its wriggling motion, but this caudal termination has been ex- 
amined by the microscope and found to be imperforate ; it only 
occurs in the old males, and, in spite of the terrors it has been 
invested with, must be considered as a harmless appendage of 
this otherwise most deadly reptile. 

Sea Snakes are known by their flattened tail, and are found 
in abundance in the Eastern Seas, near the shore. I caught one 
on the Malabar coast, with which the sea was swarming, about 


ten miles from land : it was rather like the brown-banded Snake, 
with yellow belly, three feet long, with flat tail ; the poison fangs 
were distinct, and I pronounced it venomous to those who were 
handling it incautiously. Persons in ships having often an idea 
that they are something like eels, have, more than once, paid the 
penalty of such a mistake with their life. I knew of two instances 
in India occurring, one to a surgeon of a man-of-war at Madras, 
and one to a major returning home. 

The fangs of all snakes, when extracted or broken off, render- 
ing them harmless for the time, are re-produced to any extent 
after a few weeks, each reptile being provided with a number of 
rudimentary fangs, ready to re-place the lost ones. 

The ignorance of this fact has been fatal to snake-charmers 
in India, who exhibit the Cobra in the streets without any danger, 
and have all at once died from its bite, when least suspecting it. 
Underwood, of Melbourne, probably made the same mistake. In 
the present state of our knowledge, there is no such thing as a 
distinct certain antidote for a snake bite, but there may be 
included under the head of antidotes, a system of medical and 
surgical treatment, which, if promptly and carefully applied, 
will, I have no hesitation in saying, be found equal to over- 
come any symptoms arising from the poisonous reptiles of this 

I shall proceed at once to point out the treatment which has 
the general sanction of the medical profession in various parts of 
the world, and which has been found to succeed in desperate 
cases where no particular antidote could have been of any 

TREATMENT : The person bitten should immediately suck the 
wound well ; and if he cannot reach the part, cause it to be suck- 
ed by somebody, as it extracts a large portion of the poison, which 
is thus prevented entering into the system, and the danger 
becomes less in proportion. This practice is of high antiquity, 
and is known to be harmless to the person doing it, who may 
wash his mouth out with salt and water afterwards. A ligature 
should, at the same time, be applied, rather tight, about half an 
inch above the wound, between it and the heart, which should be 
left on for some time, as it stops the circulation, and prevents the 


poison being conveyed by the absorbents into the system. The 
part bitten should be raised up well with the forceps, and a piece 
cut out not larger than a sixpence, which will include the whole 
depth of the puncture, and the bleeding should be promoted by 
warm water. There is no fear of cutting any of the veins or 
arteries if the flesh is well pulled up by the person cutting it ; and 
if the bleeding is unusual, continued pressure on the part with 
lint or a handkerchief will stop it. When the bleeding has ceased, 
the ipecacuanha poultice may be applied to the part as a matter 
of further precaution. The surgical part of the treatment, which 
is the first to be carried out, will thus consist in the sucking, the 
ligature, the excision, and applying the ipecacuanha poultice. I 
do not recommend to enlarge the puncture, or scarify the part 
which promotes absorption but I should prefer it to be sucked 
well, undisturbed by any interference, until it is cut out with the 
knife or scissors. 

I should not object to the part being touched with the actual 
cautery or red hot iron, if such be at hand immediately, which 
would prevent excision being required ; but I think it is more 
painful, and inferior in efficacy, as it is not followed by a flow of 
blood which is so useful. The patient ought not to be dragged 
about as is the custom, but may sit in an easy chair, in the open air, 
his state being something similar to a person in a fainting fit, 
who requires all his strength to rally against the state of collapse ; 
and for that purpose experience has proved that there is no 
remedy so certain in counteracting the effects of the poison and the 
excessive prostration of the entire nervous system, as a large quan- 
tity of brandy, whiskey, or any other spirits taken pure, or mixed 
with water, at the option of the patient, and in quantity a pint or 
more, according to the urgency of the symptoms. All- this 
should be taken as soon as possible after the bite ; no intoxication 
will take place, and if the symptoms of it appear, no more should 
be given. This large amount of spirits, that under ordinary 
circumstances might of itself be fatal, will be found completely 
to overcome the poison by suddenly rousing the prostrate nervous 
system to regain its equilibrium, and thus become the real 
ANTIDOTE, and the only one that can actually be depended on in 
any dangerous case of Snake bite, A child will be able to take 


it by the wine glassful, with equal part of water, and the tolerance 
of pure spirits in such cases is wonderful. I believe this impor- 
tant remedy was found out in America, where the Rattle-Snake 
is so common, and where old Indians would allow themselves to 
be bitten for a pint of pure whiskey, which they drank off at 
once, and found no symptoms of poisoning from the bite, or of 
intoxication from the whiskey. This fact being once established, 
its application has spread far and wide, but not so generally in 
this country as it should have done, considering its well acknow- 
ledged successful results. 

As the patient rallies, and urgent symptoms disappear, the 
antidotes can be withheld, and if immediately after the accident, 
this plan of treatment has been actively carried out, a few hours 
would, in most instances, place him out of danger. 

The efficacy of these rules is only equalled by their extreme 
simplicity, which will enable any person to proceed at once with 
the treatment without the loss of a minute, as every minute's 
delay increases the danger. For the use of people living in the 
country, out of reach of immediate medical assistance, I have 
completed a small box, containing spirits to begin with, and 
all instruments, appliances, and antidotes required for curing 
any snake-bite, with printed directions how to use them 

I will conclude by observing that the blacks of this country, 
who must have great experience in snake-bites, use, in their rude, 
untutored way, the same surgical treatment as is here advised, 
with the addition of immersing the patient in cold water : repeated 
cold water affusion to the face might be used with advantage 
instead of immersion. The bites of centipedes, scorpions, taran- 
tulas, and other venomous insects, are best treated with ammonia 
applied to the part and taken internally. The same surgical 
treatment as applied to men should be used for all animals bitten 
by poisonous reptiles. 

On the Wambeyan Caves, 
By DR. JAMES Cox. 

[Read 9th July, 1862.] 

IT is not so easy in Australia as in Europe, to plan at short 
notice a tour suitable for the brief periods of relaxation we 
are able to rescue from the pressure of Sydney work. So, when 
I was the other day casting about for some expedition in which 
to spend a week's holiday with satisfaction, I found myself rather 
puzzled to hit on any new line of country, having already 
explored most of our own vicinity. . My friend, the Rev. Mr. 
Hassall, jun., relieved me of my difficulty by suggesting a visit 
to the " Wambeyan Caves ;" but so ignorant was I and I do 
not find that I am an exception of their whereabouts, or their 
qualities, that I had to ask what part of the colony they 
were in. The answer I received was, that they were a day's ride 
from Berrima. Others were soon induced to join our expedition, 
but many refused because they had not heard them spoken of, 
and because I could not inform them how long our visit would 
take. As I can now, however, answer that question, I should 
advise any man who has a week to spare, and loves this kind of 
pleasure, to visit the Wambeyan Caves. 

On Wednesday, 12th March, at twelve o'clock, eleven of us 
started from Bendooly, Mr. Cordeaux's residence, four miles on 
this side of Berrima, on horseback, leading two packhorses with 
the necessary amount of provisions. 

From the back premises of Bendooly we went away due 
west, and made for Wanganderry, a sheep station of Mr. 
Cordeaux's, about twelve miles distant. We reached this about 
two o'clock ; thence we made for Bullio, a second station of 
Cordeaux's, still going west. From Bullio we made for Bowman's 
Hill, the descent to the Wollondilly River, which we crossed 
about six o'clock, and camped on the Horse Flat about half a 
mile down the river bank : in all about twenty miles from 
Berrima. The country passed through to this point is for the 


most part extremely monotonous, the only thing striking my 
attention as peculiar, being the great variety of Epacris, and 
a peculiar shrub, called there the bitter willow (Daviesia) ; 
although this is as intensely bitter as quassia, the cattle are very 
fond of it ; but unfortunately, in districts where it is eaten, so 
strong a bitter is communicated to the milk and butter that they 
are unfit for use. By diverging to the right, before reaching 
Bowman's Hill, to the edge of the cliffs, a grand panorama can 
be obtained of the valley of Burragorang and Coolong. 

I should advise any one taking this trip in future to follow 
our example and camp on the Horse Flat, as it is well adapted 
for it ; and in the morning, you are more prepared to meet the 
great difficulty the ascent of the Telegang mountain. 

At daylight we started for the caves, a distance of ten miles. 
The road is difficult to find, but fortunately we had an excellent 
guide in our friend Mr. Henry Oxley. Ascending the river for 
about half a mile, you cross it, ride along the opposite bank for 
another quarter of a mile, and again cross it to a small creek. 
Still steering west, you ascend the creek for a few hundred yards, 
which brings you to the foot of the Telegang mountain. 

This magnificent hill is about a mile and a quarter up, and 
its characters represent the whole surrounding country, which for 
miles round, as far as the eye can reach, is composed of a 
succession of such hills on a minor scale. The hill itself is essen- 
tially trap (not in large masses on the surface, but lying in the 
form of small loose broken pieces), very steep and pointed, thinly 
wooded with gum, box, and stringy bark, and richly grassed with 
a soft tufty grass resembling the kangaroo grass, which seems 
excellent for grazing, as at the top of every little pinch is a cattle 
camp. "We ascended the crest of the hill, but I should advise 
any one intending to ascend it to do so gradually round the right 
side, as the footing for the horses is much more secure. The 
view from the top of the various windings of the Wollondilly in 
the distance is very magnificent. Here also is to be seen a 
peculiar species of Gasuarina (native oak). The sexes of the 
trees are separated the female bears a fine cone-looking seed 
vessel, but the male flower resembles the common acorn. 

Following the path which takes to the right, you again steer 


west, and about a mile from the top of the hill good water is to 
be found. 

Ascending this creek for about a mile, the path turns sharply 
to the left, on to the crest of the ridge. Special attention should 
be paid to this point, as from not observing it on our return, but 
continuing straight on, some of us were benighted, and found 
ourselves in difficulties. The path from this turn is plain for 
about three miles, when another creek is made, which bears well 
away to the left, leading you to an old sheep station, called 
Telegang station. Continuing a westerly course across the 
cleared patch of land, you take the path which leads from the 
angle formed by the right bank of the watercourse on which the 
station is situated and the line of cleared ground, bearing well 
to the right for about three miles ; the character of the country 
and vegetation then altogether alters, almost by a line of demar- 
cation : you have, in fact, reached a limestone country, thinly 
covered with low stunted box and cooraman. An exquisitely 
clear stream of water is reached, with a bed of white marble 
pebbles, which is the Wambeyan Creek. About half a mile 
further a rocky barricade, some two hundred feet high, obstructs 
your further progress. The stream of water runs into a large 
archway, which is the mouth of the Wambeyan Caves. The 
Wambeyan Creek, after a course of about two miles further, falls 
into Marrs Forest Creek which falls into the Guinecor Creek, a 
branch of the Wollondilly. The limestone rocks in this district 
do not occur as a few thick beds of limestone with subordinate 
layers of calcareous shale, but in one bold reef-like mass of some 
hundreds of feet thick, separated in places by a few layers of 
impure limestone, and deeply intersected by perpendicular divi- 
sional planes through which the water percolates to form the 
caverns. The running stream, as above mentioned, if followed to 
this solid barrier of rocks, runs into an archway, which is the 
real mouth of the caves, and through it you enter the first of a 
succession of caverns. This special one is called the " Wambeyan 
Church." I presume from its arched cathedral-like roof; and 
from an absurd looking rock, accurately resembling a " parson 
in his pulpit," with his book, bibs, and scarf the remains of an 
enormous stalagmite. This cavern attracts special attention, as 


it is fortunately lighted from both ends the opposite end having* 
fallen in and opened the end of the cave, from one of those pecu- 
liar funnel-shaped holes seen in most limestone countries and 
very common here. The height of this cave is, I believe, about 
one hundred and twenty feet ; and it is about 400 feet long. The 
floor, on the left side of which the stream of water continues its 
course, is covered with large broken masses of stone ; which I 
believe have rolled in from the far end, in some places covered 
with a green conferva, in others with a pink kind of lichen. The 
roof, which is also tinged with this peculiar lichen, I believe only 
since daylight has been so fully admitted, has suspended from it 
long delicate stalactites, varying in form and beauty, some of im- 
mense length, and the walls are studded with fluted columns, 
between which are also hung delicate pieces resembling tapestry 
and fringe. 

Between these columns are seen the openings of smaller 
caverns, the haunts and homes of the Wallaby and the Bat. The 
stream of water, when it enters the cave, is fully six feet wide, 
but if followed to the right hand corner of the distant end it is 
found to have dwindled away to a stream not six inches wide, 
and now enters a dark gallery. In following out this gallery it 
is necessary to use lights, and to prepare yourself for a wet and 
slippery scramble, as deep pools of water now and then stop 
your progress. I should advise any one wishing to see these 
caves to advantage to take with them a good supply of wax 
candles, a couple of dozen of blue lights, and a pole to feel your way 
among the pools of water, which, however, in a dark subterranean 
passage always appear more formidable than they really are. 

The first thing to attract your attention is the intense cold ; 
and secondly, if well lighted, the magnificent effect of the lights 
on the snow-white crystalline marble ; and thirdly, the difficulty 
of finding the right way, for on all sides of this main gallery, 
galleries of less size turn off, some of which have the appearance 
of being the main course. However, if you advance in a straight 
direction with the first cave for about 100 yards, the beauties of 
the place increase, and here we had first displayed to us the 
effects of our blue lights on the pure white crystalline stalactities 
which hung round on all sides, This passage then bends to the 


right, and about another 100 yards on becomes much expanded 
when to the left is seen another large opening, of which we will 
speak again. 

Here all appearance of the stream ceased, but pools of water 
were occasionally met with. It became evident, however, that 
we were in the main channel of the creek, and that during floods 
this passage was full of water, from the bunches of rubbish 
perched high up on the ledges of the marble rocks. Our course 
now for the next hundred yards was easy and dry (all traces of 
water having disappeared), until we again found daylight. We 
had in fact reached the opposite side of the rocky barrier across 
the creek, for undoubtedly it was the main creek we had again 
reached, commencing from a marble arch in the bluff rocks, 
but differing in there not being the sign of a drop of water, 
which from its marks we could see to have been there during 
floods, nor as far as we could see down this creek, which had 
very steep banks, could we perceive where the running stream 
made its escape. To the right of this exit several very interest- 
ing channels lead off, suspended from the side of one of which is, 
what is called the sounding-board, a remarkable thin sheet of 
marble, and from it Mr. Oxley brought forth sounds of sweet 
melody, which reverberated on all sides. 

To all appearance this was the end of the cave. But what 
had become of the water ? 

Looking down the creek, from the mouth at this end, about a 
hundred yards up the bank to the left, is seen a native fig tree, at 
the base of which is a small unattractive-looking opening, the 
only known entrance from the surface, but I doubt if it is the 
only means of entering what are termed the " Fig Tree Caves." 
At this mouth we found some fine specimens of the dog-tooth spar. 

On entering here lights became necessary at once, as the 
footing is very dangerous, deep crevices occurring on all sides, 
till the cavern suddenly expands to an unknown extent. After 
feeling our way carefully to the left, and having got on a firm 
footing, a blue light revealed to us its magnificence. The 
grandeur of the natural sculpture is here very great, and the 
thickness and length of the stalactities and stalagmites wonderful, 
but they are not so purely white as those before seen. The floor 


of this cave is in some places almost knee-deep with a dark 
brown-coloured, light, dry amorphous powder, which at the time 
I took to be dry pulverised dung of wallabies, as they were seen 
in great numbers ; but, on examining a small sample that I 
brought back with me, I found it contained almost no vegetable 
matter. The ledge of rocks on which we stood suddenly ended 
in an abrupt precipice, at the bottom of which we conjectured 
the water ran, but on lowering a light no trace of it was seen. 
Branching off to the right, this precipice became less steep, and 
a few of us descended, though with difficulty, as we now 
undoubtedly heard sounds like falling water ; but, after wander- 
ing and scrambling about for some time, we could discover no 
more than a number of vast dry caverns. Having ascended 
again, we took more to the right ; after having explored several 
beautiful galleries leading off, the sounds of distant falling water 
still becoming more distinct. 

As you proceed to the right, the footing is both dangerous 
and difficult, while the floor seems made of masses of rock which 
have slipped from the mouth we entered by, and filling up what 
must have been once a large and deep cavern. Here also the 
noise of water was distinct, and a few of us determined, if 
possible, to descend and see it an undertaking which proved to 
be one of great difficulty and danger, owing to the loose and 
slippery state of the rocks, the uncertainty of the right way, 
and the deep and narrow crevices we had to descend. After 
descending a shaft some fifty feet, the rocks lost the dirty brown 
appearance they had above, and began to get white and crys- 
talline, as in the tunnel before described ; in fact, it was evident 
we had entered a tunnel of a minor kind, still running in a 
westerly direction, which at last ended in a shaft so narrow that 
we were obliged to descend it on our hands and knees. 

Having reached the bottom, we were, however, rewarded by 
finding the object of our search a broad running stream in the 
midst of summer as cold as ice about 200 feet below the surface 
of the ground, and having for its bed a solid block of white 
marble. This channel was, as a general rule, about ten feet 
high, running in a downward and westerly direction. Attempts 
were made to follow the stream up and down, but the water 
became in places so deep that it was impossible to do so. 


Having ascended again with the object of ascertaining where 
this stream made its exit, we descended the dry Wambeyan 
Creek for about a mile and a-half. At about this distance the 
banks became very high, and to our delight we discovered the 
water spouting out of what looked like a solid bluff of rock, in two 
different places, about one hundred yards apart, and pouring the 
water again into the Wambeyan Creek through narrow fissures. 

From the top of the cliffs a good view can be had of the 
surrounding country, and the different forms of vegetation map out 
with accuracy the extent of the limestone, which is very limited. 

I must now return to the tunnel leading from the left of the 
main tunnel from the " Church." You are obliged to climb some 
rocks to enter it, and having entered and followed it up for about 
thirty yards, it becomes very contracted, and ends in a hole just 
large enough to allow a man to drag his body through. You 
now enter by far the finest part of these caves, consisting of a 
series of small chambers, all connected by archways, which seem 
as if they had been excavated out of a mass of solid white marble 
the floor being remarkably crystalline and pure, as if it had 
been formed by pouring over the surface the material of the sur- 
rounding rocks, in a fluid state, which had then been allowed to 
crystallise ; and, in reality, it is in this way that it has been 
formed. The water, impregnated with carbonic acid, dissolves 
the rocks, forming with them a soluble bi-carbonate of lime 
which, on being again exposed to the atmosphere, allows one 
atom of the carbonic acid to escape, leaving a deposit of the 
insoluble carbonate on the spot. It is on the same principle that 
all stalactites and stalagmites are formed. 

These chambers have been called the " Organ Gallery," from 
the great length and regularity of the stalactites and stalagmites 
which, in many cases, have met and form one continuation, giving 
the appearance of the pipes of an organ. So thick are they in 
some places, that it is impossible to get between them, and so 
sharp in others that you require to avoid them with care. As 
you proceed to the right, one chamber after another, each seeming 
more beautiful than the preceding, succeeds ; the splendour and 
magnificence of which, in my opinion, can only be appreciated by 
a personal visit. You are at last prevented from proceeding to 


the left by coming to the brink of a deep precipice, which we were 
unable to descend. I am inclined to think that this is the continua- 
tion of the watercourse we were unable to follow up, for although 
we could not hear the sound of water running, still, on throwing 
down stones it was evident by the splash that there was a deep 
pool of water. It may, however, be a succession of other caves. 

On following out these chambers to the right we were conducted 
to a cavern of enormous extent, far larger than the " Church," 
and from a small opening in a distant corner daylight was seen. 
We had a magnificent view of this cavern by means of the blue 
lights, and from what I saw from the distance, I was inclined to 
believe that this cavern we were looking into was the cave we had 
visited from the Fig-tree opening, and that, in fact, we were stand- 
ing beneath the precipice which obstructed our course to the left. 

One peculiarity in this cave is, that the floor of it in some 
parts is so deeply covered with the peculiar dark powder before 
mentioned, as literally to prevent your being able to wade 
through it. 

On the Fibre Plants of New South Wales, 

[Read 5th October, 1864.] 

THE character of the vegetation of this Colony, in many 
respects so remarkable, is, as regards its economic value, but 
little understood. From it neither commerce, science, nor the 
arts have as yet been benefited to any appreciable extent. With 
the exception of a few trees, the timber of which is used for 
building and fencing purposes, scarcely any importance has been 
attached to any qualities of our indigenous plants, many of which 
I feel convinced contain valuable properties which only require 
to be made known. It was generally expected that the vegetable 
products sent from this Colony to the Paris and London Great 


Exhibitions would have been the means of ascertaining their 
commercial interest ; but beyond testing the strength of some of 
the woods, and pronouncing the White Ironbavk of Illawarra to 
be th strongest in the world, the authorities connected with 
these exhibitions have not furnished us with any further informa- 
tion, although various vegetable substances, supposed to have 
medicinal, dyeing, and textile properties, were forwarded from this 
colony on both occasions. We have been in fact thrown on our 
own resources, and every effort should be made by all persons in- 
terested in this matter, to ascertain by investigation whatever 
commercial value our plants may possess before it is too late. 
Already extensive tracts of country have been cleared, which 
formerly bore the richest and most varied vegetation. The brush 
forests to which I allude, so general along our coast, are fast 
disappearing before the axe of the settler. To judge of the 
future by the past and present, a few years more and these will 
have ceased to exist. I have been induced, therefore, to draw 
attention to a few plants which yield a strong and durable fibre 
suitable for a variety of purposes, as it is in such forests as 
those referred to that the fibre producing plants which I shall 
now proceed to bring under notice are principally found : 

The first in importance is the Gigantic Nettle Urtica gigzs 
a remarkable tree abounding on rich alluvial soils, from 
Illawarra to the extreme north; in the Clarence and Richmond 
districts it almost exclusively covers vast spaces of ground, and 
many of the trees attain a height over 100 feet, and are 40 feet in 
circumference. The bark, which i? very thick in both the young 
and old state, furnishes a strong and durable fibre much used by 
the Aborigines for making their dilly bags, nets, &c. It is easily 
prepared by crushing or beating the bark until nearly dry ; by 
this means all extraneous substances are sufficiently removed to 
make it fit for exportation or for other uses. It must on no 
account be steeped in water, as this has the effect of rotting it. 
The Aborigines prepare it by chewing the bark. The prepared 
fibre, as Mr. Lardner of Grafton states, may be obtained at from 
3d to 4d per pound. 

In the Northern districts another species of arborescent 
Nettle Urtica plwtimiophyUa, called the small-leaved nettle, fur- 



nishes by its bark a similar fibre to the last, but of a finer 
description, and admirably suited, it is supposed, for Paper-making. 
The fibre of this tree is prepared in the same manner as the 
former, and may be obtained at as cheap a rate and in unlimited 
quantities, and I would here remark, that although stripping these 
trees of their bark will destroy the main stem, yet, the root is 
not seriously affected by the process, as the destruction of the 
stem causes innumerable shoots to spring from its base, which 
would annually yield a supply of young fibres perhaps better 
suited for general purposes than that from older growth. 

I shall now refer to the fibres known as Kurrajong, an abori- 
ginal name, I believe for fibre, and not, as is commonly supposed, 
applied to any one plant at all events Colonists know several 
plants under this name. The-Kurrajong of Sir Thomas Mitchell 
is " Sterculia heteroplujlla" a tree not uncommon in many parts 
of the Colony, particularly in the Western districts. The 
aborigines in the interior, almost exclusively employ the fibre 
from the bark of this tree in manufacturing their nets, fishing-lines, 
dilly-bags, &c. It is of a strong and durable character, but of 
little commercial value, as the expense of collecting it and the 
carriage would be more than it is worth. The Kurrajong : from 
which the district beyond Richmond is named, is Hibiscus Jietero- 
phyllus, a plant of very frequent occurrence in all thickly wooded 
places within the coast range ; the fibre from this is exceedingly 
tough, and perhaps more generally used by the natives, than that 
of any other. Very large quantities of this bark might be obtained 
and at a comparatively trifling cost. Another, but smaller plant 
than the preceding, the Pimelea hypericifolia, also bears the name 
of Kurrajong ; this yields an excellent fibre, and as it grows in the 
greatest profusion in various places from Illawarra to Twofold 
Bay on the coast, and from Berrima to Araluen inland, no diffi- 
culty would be experienced in procuring a supply of its bark, 
which, in its raw state, is often used by settlers for purposes as a 
substitute for twine. Again, in the Northern brush forests, 
particularly on the banks of rivers, one of the most common plants 
to be found, is called by settlers Brown Kurrajong Oommersonia 
ecliinata, the fibre of which is more valued by the natives for 
its strength and durability, than any other kind ; of this these 


people make their fishing-nets and lines, and it does not, it would 
appear, easily rot. It is not however so easily prepared as that 
from the Green Kurrajong Hibiscus heteroplnjllus . Concerning 
this plant, Mr. Lardner, of Grafton, who is well acquainted with 
the mode of preparing its fibre for use, remarks, " Both the wood 
and bark are hard, and a good deal of crushing is required to 
get the fibre." The bark contains a very large quantity of strong 
mucilaginous matter, which no washing will entirely remove. 
The fibre is very long, and not interlaced as in the nettle, it is 
very strong when moist, but becomes hard and brittle if much of 
the glutinous substance is allowed to remain in it. 

Having thus adverted to the plants known as Kurrajong I 
shall now proceed to notice a tree, the inner bark of which 
furnishes a coarse but valuable fibre, which has been long known 
and used by the settlers on the Clarence and Richmond, in which 
districts it is most common, and where it usually attains a very 
large size. This tree was described by me from a dried specimen 
furnished by the late Dr. Stephenson, being then unknown to 
botanists, as a new species of Brachychiton. The dried flowers 
had a dull brownish colour, which I then supposed was some- 
thing of the natural colour when fresh. I therefore called it B. 
luridum. Since that time I have had many opportunities of 
seeing this fine tree in flower, and no name could have been more 
appropriate than that of luridum, a name adopted on my 
authority by Dr. Miiller in his Fragmenta, and by Mr. Bentham 
in the Flora of Australia. Instead of being lurid, the flowers, 
which are large, somewhat bell-shaped, are of a beautiful rose 
colour, and as these appear before the new leaves the tree being 
almost deciduous no finer sight could be imagined than a large 
tree in full flower. It is called in the districts referred to, 
" Sycamore," and its bark may be got under that name in any 
quantity, at a very moderate rate. The only other indigenous 
plants to which I shall invite attention as fibre bearing kinds, are 
an aroidaceous plant, called by settlers Traveller's Grass, and 
the Gigantic Lily ; the first of these Gymnostacliys anceps is 
well known, and abounds in all thickly wooded situations along 
the coast line, having an inland range of about 50 miles. 
It bears a leaf similar to the flag or Iris, and attains a height 


of six feet and upwards ; a strip of the leaf | of an inch in width, 
drawn over a fire so as to soften the fibre, or even without this 
preparation, is strong enough to resist the efforts of a man to 
break it. I fancy therefore, that if the properties of this invaluable 
plant, at least to the bush traveller, were properly tested, it would 
be found to yield a fibrous material of considerable commercial 
advantage. The last but most important fibre bearing plant 
is the Gimmeah of the natives ; the Gigantic Lily of the 
settlers, and the Doryantlies excelsa of botanists. It is closely 
allied to the American Agave, commonly called Aloe, but it 
is not a true lily. In the year 1850, at the first meeting of the 
Australian Society, the late Sir Thomas Mitchell read a most able 
and interesting paper on the resources of the County of Cumber- 
land. I am not aware whether that paper was published or not, 
nor can I learn whether it or any copy of it is in existence, but I 
have a perfect recollection that in that paper Sir Thomas laid parti- 
cular stress on the value of the Doryanthes fibre, which he thought 
was equal if not superior to the New Zealand Flax Phormium 
ienax, with which it was compared, and by way of proof he 
had a specimen of the flax prepared, which was submitted 
to the inspection of those who were present when the paper 
was read, and was pronounced to be equal in length, colour, 
fineness, and strength to any other kind known. I was then 
comparatively a young Colonist, and my knowledge of the 
country but limited of the principal localities where this plant 
is found, I knew little or nothing. Being therefore under the 
impression that it was not to be found in any great quantities, 
that it was in fact, sparingly distributed over the Country, I 
ventured in discussing the merits of the paper at the Meeting, to 
give expression to my belief, and to add that as it was known to 
grow slowly after being cut down, no regular supply of its leaves 
would be obtainable. This opinion, a most erroneous one, has 
been quoted since by more than one person as being correct, but 
I now know from personal acquaintance with the habits of this 
plant, that it grows in such abundance in various places, as to 
furnish an unlimited supply of material for any purpose for which 
it may be required. It is found in the greatest profusion on both 
banks of the Woronora River, all over Mr. Holt's ground at 


South Botany, extending southwards from this to the hills above 
Illawarra. But it is in that vast and wretchedly poor country 
lying between the Hawkesbury River and the Wollorabi Ranges, 
that this plant flourishes in its greatest splendour. In this inhos- 
pitable region, it is not only abundant, but it is the only plant to 
be met with that is either particularly attractive, or useful to the 
traveller. I know of no finer sight than to pass through this 
country during the flowering season of Doryanlhes. The very 
parched-like vegetation with which it is surrounded, and the poor 
arid soil from which it grows seem by contrast to add additional 
freshness and lustre to its rich red wax-like flowers. Port 
Stephens is also another locality in which this plant grows in 
equal abundance, and as all the places mentioned, are within an 
easy distance of water carriage, a constant supply of the leaves 
might readily be procured at small expense. 

I have thus enumerated the plants which, I am aware, furnish 
a really excellent fibrous material ; in doing so, I claim no credit 
for having supplied any information which was not known to 
many persons before ; the only object I had in view was to draw 
attention to these plants in a condensed and collected form, in the 
hope that those who may be interested in the manufacture of fibre, 
or may desire to bring such material into use, may know, not only 
the plants which will supply it, but where such plants are to be 
found. There are other indigenous plants which the natives 
employ in making their nets, bags, &c., among which are several 
grasses and reeds, but with them I am not sufficiently acquainted 
to speak with confidence. Possibly, what has been stated may 
elicit from others information regarding these. I shall conclude 
by remarking that in addition to the indigenous plants referred 
to, there are several introduced kinds which yield a valuable fibre, 
such as the Sida retusa, originally sent from the Mauritius and 
the West Indies, but now an acclimatised plant in this and the 
adjoining Colony of Queensland ; it has, in fact, become everywhere 
a troublesome weed. The American Aloe, and all the kinds of 
Plantain and Banana, are most valuable for their fibre, and to all 
such plants I would venture to direct the attention of Colonists in 
general, and particularly the Managers of the new Paper Company 
now commencing its operations in the neighbourhood of Sydney. 

On Osmium and Iridium, obtained from New South Wales Gold, 

By A. LEIBIUS, Ph. D., 

Assayer to the Sydney Branch of fr the Royal Mint. 
[Read Nov. 2nd, 1864.] 

ACCOMPANYING the Platinum in its crude state as Platinum ore, 
such as is chiefly found in Russia and South America, a series of 
rare metals is found, which latter are known to chemists under 
the collective name of " Platinum-metals," and comprise the 
metals known as Rhodium, Ruthenium, Palladium, Osmium and 
Iridium. Palladium and Rhodium were discovered in Platinum 
ore by Wollaston, in 1803; the Ruthenium in 1844, by Clauss, 
to whose researches we owe almost all that is known about this 
metal, whilst Tennant found in 1804, that the alloy of Osmiridium, 
which was shortly previous found in the insoluble residue of 
Platinum ores, and considered as one substance, consisted of two 
distinct metals, to which he gave the names of Osmium and 

These two metals, although they are sometimes found by 
themselves, generally occur as a natural alloy of osmiridium 
of different composition, namely, Ir. Os., which Berzelius found 
composed of 49'34 Os., 4677 Ir., 3-15 Rhod., and 074 Fe., and 
Ir. Osa which Berzelius found to contain 25 0/0 Irid., and 75 ojo 
Osmium, and which latter some mineralogists call Irid-Osmium. 

This Osmium-Iridium, or Osmiridium, of which I intend to 
bring a short account before your notice, does not only occur 
in Platinum ore, but is also found in company with Gold, and 
especially in Californian Gold. The Gold from New South Wales 
brought to the Mint is also alloyed with a sometimes not incon- 
siderable quantity of this Osmiridium. 

At a heat at which Gold fuses freely the Osmiridium is 
totally infusible, and its high specific gravity, which ranges from 
about 19 to 21 (according to the preponderance of the Osmium 

BY A. LEIBIUS, PH. D. 211 

over Irid.), causes the same to sink to the bottom of the melting 
pot, where it is easily separated from the Gold. It is through this 
process that the Sydney Mint has collected, in its crude state, 
the Osmiridium, which, since its establishment, has amounted to 
about 3 Ibs. 

There are several methods for extracting pure Osmium and 
pare Iridium out of this impure Osmiridium. The method 
adopted by me was the one given by Woehler, and which, for 
working on a small scale, at all events, is the most convenient. 
I will shortly describe it : 

The quantity of Osmiridium taken under operation was 8 
ounces, which were powdered in a steel mortar, and mixed with 
an equal quantity of fused Salt (Na. CL), the mixture introduced 
into a glass tube, such as used for analyses, and heated in a gas 
furnace, whilst moist chlorine gas was allowed to pass slowly for 
about 3 hours over the mixture, heated to a dull red heat. By 
this means a double salt of Chloride of Sodium with Chloride of 
Iridium is formed, as well as a double salt of Chloride of Sodium 
with Chloride of Osmium. But a great part of the Chloride of 
Osmium formed is again decomposed by the water of the moist 
chlorine gas into osmic acid, (which escapes, and is collected in a 
balloon which is in connection with the glass tube) and into 
metallic Osmium and Hydrochloric Acid. But the metallic 
Osmium gets again formed into Chloride of Osmium, and com- 
bines to a double salt, 2 Aeq. Os C1 2 + 4 HO = Os O , Os, 4 HC1. 
The contents of the glass tube, which at the end of the operation 
contain the double Chlorides of Iridium and Osmium with 
Sodium, are dissolved in water which leaves titaniferous Iron 
and other impurities of the Osmiridium undissolved, whilst the 
double chlorides just mentioned are readily soluble. But only 
about 30 lo of the w r eight of Osmiridium employed are brought 
in solution by this process. A repetition of the same with the 
dried residue extracts a little more, so that after three operations I 
got about 50 lo in solution. 

This solution, which is dark red-brown, is distilled with 
strong nitric acid in a glass retort, to convert the Chloride of 
Osmium into Osmic Acid, which distills over and collects in 
dilute Ammonia, The residue in the retort is poured, whilst still 


hot, into a strong solution of Sal ammoniac, when the greatest 
part of the Iridium falls down as a blackish crystalline powder, 
having a dark red streak, and which is a double salt of Chloride 
of Ammonium with Chloride of Iridium or Irid-Salmiak. 

The liquid, which is filtered off from the Irid-Salmiak, is 
evaporated with soda to dryness, gently heated in an earthen 
crucible, and then boiled out with water, which leaves Oxide of 
Iridium behind as a blackish powder, which is dried and reduced 
to Iridium by Hydrogen gas. 

The purest Iridium is obtained by heating the Irid-Salmiak, 
just mentioned, to a strong red heat, when pure Iridium is left 
behind if the Irid-Salmiak employed has been once or twice 
recrystallized. In this way I obtained the Iridium here produced. 
It is a black powder. Subjected to strong pressure whilst some- 
what moist in a suitable apparatus, and then to a strong white heat, 
the Iridium is obtained in a compact, though very brittle mass, 
which allows of polish. I endeavoured to obtain a little in this 
way ; its colour is that of polished steel. (Specimen shown.) 

This Iridium, which obtained its name from the Greek word 
Ipt?, because it forms different salts, the solutions of which possess 
almost all colours of the rainbow, is extremely difficult of fusion. 
At a heat by which platinum is fused, it merely contracts a little 
and gets silver white. Of late Messrs. Deville and Debray, in 
Paris, who have occupied themselves very largely with the ex- 
traction of platinum and platinum metals have been especially 
successful in the construction of furnaces for obtaining the 
highest degrees of heat. These furnaces are constructed of lime, 
and heated with a mixture of either coal gas and oxygen, or 
oxygen and hydrogen, in the proportion of 1 oxygen to 2 hydro- 
gen. In this furnace they have been able to melt about 400 
grains of pure Iridium in one operation, whilst the same furnaces 
fused about 25 Ibs. of platinum in one operation. The Iridium 
thus fused -is pure white and similar to polished steel, but brittle 
from its crystalline structure within. Its specific gravity is the 
same as Platinum, namely, 21*15 ; it alloys with Zinc and Tin. 
The Iridium as obtained as black powder, is used as the best 
black colour for porcelain painting. But its most important 
application appears to have been discovered but quite lately, 

BY A. LEIBIUS, PH. D. 213 

through Deville and Debray, since it forms a fusible alloy with 
platinum, which, when it contains 25 30 \o of Iridium, resists 
every acid. Vessels of such an alloy are already manufactured by 
Desmontis in Paris, and whilst the technical application of 
Iridium, which hitherto has been but very limited, has thus been 
brought into a new phase, the Russian Government has given 
especial instructions with regard to the development of their 
vast resources of platinum ores, from which not only the valuable 
platinum, but also the no longer valueless Iridium are obtained. 

Although the Australian Gold does not contain anything 
like a sufficient quantity of Iridium to become one of the resources 
for obtaining the latter for technical purposes, I thought that 
the importance which this interesting metal seems destined to 
have, would sufficiently warrant my drawing your attention to 
the same by giving you this short outline, and exhibiting a few 
specimens of the metals and its compounds, as well as its usual 
companion, the metal Osmium, of which I shall speak presently. 

With regard to the different compounds into which Iridium 
is capable of entering, I need not trouble you. The solutions of 
the different salts represent, as already mentioned, almost all the 
colours of the rainbow, but unfortunately they do not keep long, 
but decompose under change of colour. 

The most important Iridium Salt, namely the Irid-Salmiak ; 
already mentioned, I have here. This dissolves in 20 parts of 
water, but colours distinctly yellow even 40,000 parts. 

On heating it to red heat, pure Iridium remains behind. 


I will now shortly describe the companion of the Iridium the 
Osmium. It is very difficult to get Iridium quite free from 
Osmium, of which traces adhere with great pertinacity. The 
operation for preparing Osmium out of Osmiridium falls in Tvith 
the preparation of Iridium by chlorine gas, as before described. 

The Osmium which is collected during the preparation of Iri- 
dium, partly as osmic acid, in a balloon attached to the tube in 
which the mixture of Osmiridium and Salt was heated, and partly 
as Chloride and Bichloride of Osmium, is dissolved in dilute 


Ammonia, and the yellow solution which soon gets brown from 
further decomposition, is evaporated until all Ammonia is driven 
off, when a compound of Ammonia Sesquioxide of Osmium falls 
down as a black powder. (Sample shown.) 

When this substance is heated after being dried, it decomposes 
with a hissing noise, Nitrogen and aqueous vapours being evolved 
and the Osmium becomes reduced to the metallic state with great 
violence. An admixture of J Sal ammoniac assists in making 
this decomposition less violent. (Ammonia Sesquioxide of Os- 
mium, as well as pure Osmium shown.) 

This metal Osmium, which received its name from the Greek 
^Oa-jjbr} (smell) in consequence of the strong and peculiar smell 
of its highest oxide, the osmic acid, has only of late been more 
closely investigated through the researches of Deville and Debray. 
They found its properties essentially different from former 
observers. The specific gravity ranges from 21'3 to 21*4, is 
therefore heavier than Iridium or Platinum (21 '15.) It is not 
fusible, but at a very high temperature, by which Iridium fuses 
and Platinum volatilizes, it is evaporated as osmic acid without 
showing any fusion. If Osmium is heated in a graphite pot with 
7 to 8 parts Tin to strong red heat, it dissolves in the Tin and 
separates on cooling as a crystalline powder of great hardness, 
which can be obtained after dissolving out the Tin with hydro- 
chloric acid. The Osmium in its character very much resembles 
Arsenic. It enters into combination with chlorine, as already 
stated, forming protochloride and bichloride of Osmium, the 
first having an olive green, the latter a red-brown colour. .The 
solutions of these salts very rapidly decompose under separation 
of Osmium and formation of H. Cl. 

The most interesting compound of Osmium is the Osmic acid 
Os 4 . It is obtained when metallic osmium is heated in the 
bulb of a glass tube, whilst oxygen gas passes slowly over it ; 
the osmic acid thus produced is condensed in fine white needles 
in the next glass bulb, which has to be kept well cooled, 
(apparatus shown.) In this way I have prepared this specimen, 
(osmic acid shown.) 

This Osmic acid fuses more easily than wax into an oily liquid. 
It has an insupportably pungent odour, and its vapours attack the 

BY A. LEIBIUS, PH. D. 215 

lungs strongly, and excite a burning pain in the eyes. To give you 
a faint idea of its smell, I produce here a very dilute solution of 
osmic acid, by decomposing a solution of osmate of potash with 
Hydrochloric acid. The smell thus produced, is not at all danger- 
ous. Osmic acid is reduced by the alcohol flame ; if therefore a 
granule of osmium be placed on the edge of a piece of platinum 
foil, and held in the flame of a spirit lamp in such a manner as 
to allow part of the flame to rise freely into the air, this part 
becomes brightly luminous, because the osmic acid formed by 
the combustion of osmium mounts upwards, and is again reduced 
by the flame to metallic osmium, which thus mixes with the 
flame as a finely divided solid body, and thereby increases the 

Osmic acid attacks the skin and every organic substance. 

Osmium and its compounds have at present only a scientific 
interest. It was my intention to prepare an extensive series of 
Iridium and Osmium compounds to lay before this Meeting, but 
I must defer doing so till I am enabled to work upon a larger 
scale than I have done hitherto, and for which purpose I require 
several chemicals and apparatus, which cannot be procured in this 

On the Prospects of the Civil Service under the Superannuation 
Act of 1864, 


[Read December 7th, 1864.] 

I SUBMIT, in this paper, the conclusions at which I have arrived 
after examining, as a Commissioner appointed under the Act, the 
financial provisions of the Superannuation Act of 1864. 

The sum paid, either as a single or annual premium, for an 
annuity to commence at a certain age not yet attained, and to 
continue during the remainder of a life, should be sufficient, if 
invested at compound interest at the current rate, to produce at 
the death of the annuitant (if his life has been of average 


duration) a sum equivalent to the value of the annuity he will by 
that time have received. 

In calculating the premium to be thus paid, the following 
chances are taken into account : 

1. The probability of the purchaser of the annuity surviving 
to receive it. 

2. The number of years he will probably live to enjoy it, 
should he so survive. 

These probabilities are usually deduced from the Carlisle 
tables of mortality ; and the value of a deferred annuity, cor- 
rected by these probabilities, is that which the purchaser should pay 
to compensate the fund out of which the annuity is to be paid. 

It is essential, however, in order that the fund may be thus 
compensated, that the premium paid should be invested, and 
the interest thus obtained re-invested immediately, at the current 
rate. Neither principal nor interest can be applied to any other 
purpose without detriment to the fund, and therefore risk to the 
purchaser's annuity. If a portion of the premium paid by A, or 
of the interest which has accrued from its investment, be applied 
to paying an annuity assigned to B, it is probable that the fund 
will be unable to meet A's claim at maturity, but it is absolutely 
certain that an unendowed fund so managed, will ultimately 
become insolvent. All that B is entitled to receive from the fund 
is the equivalent of the contributions he has paid, determined in 
the manner before explained. He may on other grounds be 
entitled to a larger annuity, but this difference cannot be paid 
to him out of moneys which have accrued from the subscriptions 
of other expectants,. without injury to the latter. 

In testing the financial provisions of the Superannuation Act 
of 1864 by these principles, it will not be necessary to examine 
critically every condition under which an officer can retire. It 
will be sufficient for my purpose if I can show that, even under 
circumstances favourable to the fund, it is impossible to carry 
out, for any lengthened period, the obvious intentions of the Act. 

Let the test be applied to the following conditions embraced 
in the Act : 

1. A public officer of sixty years of age and thirty years 
service may retire on a pension equal to his full pay. 



2. Every public officer not specially exempted by the Act 
may be required to pay to the fund, tmtil he retire or die, an 
annual sum not exceeding four per cent, on his salary. Provided 
that any one awarded a pension before the expiration of ten years 
from the date of his first contribution will be required to continue 
his annual contribution until the ten years have expired. 

3. The above to apply to all officers in the public service at 
the passing of the Act. % 

The following table, calculated on the principle before ex- 
plained, shows (1) the pure premium which officers of ages 
between twenty and sixty should pay annually to secure from an 
unendowed fund at the age of sixty, should they live so long, a 
retiring allowance of 100 a year ; (2) the present value of the 
sum they would thus pay ; (3) the present value of the sum the 
law requires them to pay ; (4) the difference between the two 
latter values, or the endowment which should be granted at once 
from other sources if these officers are to be paid, without injury 
to others, the retiring allowance which the Act prescribes. In 
these calculations, the duration of life assumed is that given in 
the Carlisle tables of mortality, and the rate of interest 5 per cent. 



3. 4. 

Pure Premium in 

Present value of 


's to be pnid un- 
til the age of sixty 
to secure 100 per 
annum for life on 

Present value 
of Xo. 1. 

contribution which ._ 
can be levied under Endowment 
Act, ie.4per cent., required at 
until the age of once - 

attaining that age. 

sixty, or for ten yrs. 












10 nearly 




















64 nearly 


1 29 











































This table shows (1) That a person now of the age of 
twenty, who desires to obtain at "the age of sixty, should he live 
so long, a pension of 100 a year for the remainder of his life, 
should pay 5 per annum until he attains that age ; (2) that the 
present value of such payments is 76 ; (3) that the present value 
of the utmost which the law can require of him is 60 ; (4) and 
that the difference, or 16, must (if he is to receive at sixty years 
of age that yhtch the law prescribes) be obtained from some other 
source. Again, as a contrast, the table shows that a person now 
of the age of fifty, who desires to obtain at the age of sixty, a 
pension of 100 a year for the remainder of his life, should pay, 
until he attains that age nearly 64 per annum. The present 
value of such payments being 455, and that of the utmost the 
law requires being 29, the remainder, or 426, should be 
supplied at once from some other source. 

For pensions of greater value, the sums which should be paid, 
can be demanded, and must be obtained from other sources, vary 
of course in exact proportion to the rate of pension, and can be 
readily calculated from the table. 

From column three can be ascertained the present value of the 
utmost which any officer can be called on to pay, but not that 
which probably he will pay. Take, for instance, the case of an 
officer who enters the service at the age of twenty at a salary of 
100 a year, and retires at sixty at a salary of 600. To enable 
him to receive from an unendowed fund at the latter age a retir- 
ing pension of 600 per annnm, he should, as the table shows, 
pay from the first, 30 per annum, i.e., 5 per cent, on 600, his 
ultimate salary, which is equivalent to 30 per cent, on his salary 
on entering the service. The law only requires that he should pay 
4 per cent, on the salary he may at the time be receiving. There- 
fore, the present value of the sum which such an officer will be 
required to pay cannot be correctly ascertained from column three 
of the table ; and the insufficiency of his payments to yield the 
sum he is entitled to receive at sixty, is not correctly represented 
by column four, which only indicates the actual insufficiency in 
the improbable case of an officer entering the public service, and 
remaining in it until sixty years of age, without an increase of 
salary. I draw attention to this, to remark that the examples I 


have taken do not sufficiently expose the inadequacy of the pro- 
visions of the Superannuation Act. 

From the data furnished in the Blue Book of the Colony, it 
may be roughly estimated that the amount of retiring allowances 
on full pay liable to be claimed during the next ten years on the 
conditions under examination are 

At a distance of 1 year from the present date ... ... 2250 

2 years 700 

3 1525 

4 1500 

5 1400 

6 1175 

7 ... ... 1000 

8 450 

9 1260 

10 Nil. 

The immediate endowment required to prevent these pensipns 
being paid out of the contributions of other subscribers to the 
fund is by the above table 

For those who may retire in 

The 1st 





= 17023 






= 5201 






= 10522 






= 9645 


,, ... ... 




= 8400 






= 6568 





= 5220 





= 2191 


33 * ' ' 




= 5746 



Say 70,000. 

The same endowment would be necessary to meet claims 
accruing at the moderate rate of 1500 per annum for the first 
four years, and 1000 per annum for the following six years. 


The pensions which have already been granted under the Act 
may be classified as follows : 
To one of the age of 49 a net pension for remainder of 

his life of 350 

To one of the age of 55 433 6 8 

To one of the age of 57 504 

To four of the age of 60 in all 1696 6 8 

To one of the as-e of 68 192 

Total... .. 3175 13 1 

The present value of these pensions, ascertained by means of 
the usual tables, exceeds 30,000 ; and as they have been granted 
to persons who have contributed little or nothing to the fund, 
they also, in fairness, should be charged against such endowment 
as the fund may receive. 

Now the endowments which, under the provisions of the Act, 
are available, or supposed to be so, during the next ten years are, 

1. The sum of 10,000, paid out of the Consolidated Fund, 

in accordance with clause 16 of the Superannuation Act. 
This, however, has been diminished by a claim of 1470, on 
account of a recent death, and is now but 8530. 

2. The contributions of officers who may leave the service at 

their own wish before they have become entitled to any 
payment from the fund, or who may be dismissed. 

By comparing the Blue Book of 1860 with that of 1863, it 
has been ascertained that during these three years, salaries in the 
aggregate amounting to about 30,000, have from the above 
causes been surrendered by officers whose average service has 
been seven years. 

On the assumption that retirements in future will be at this 
rate, the following sums may be carried to the credit of endow- 
ment : 
At the end of the first year, the contributions of 

those who have subscribed one year only, 4 per 

cent, on 10,000 400 

At the end of the second year, the contributions of 

those who have subscribed one and two years ... 600 


At the end of the third year, the contributions of those 

who have subscribed one, two, and three years . . 800 
and so on, making, in ten years, an aggregate amount, of which 
the present value is about 9500. 

The subscriptions of the entire public service to the Super- 
annuation Fund amount to about 10,000 per annum, and the 
present value of such an income for ten years, at 5 per cent, 
interest, is 77,215. 

From these results it will be seen that the endowments already 
received, and those to be expected during the next ten years, are 
not equal in value to the pensions which have been already granted; 
also, that at the end of ten years from the present time, the fund 
will probably have received from two sources an endowment equal 
in the aggregate, and at the present time, to about 18,000, and 
that it will have become liable for payments not fairly chargeable 
to it, of which the present value is about 100,000. The differ- 
ence, or about 82,000, is the present value of the extra charge 
which will, by that time, have been imposed on the fund, and 
which the united subscriptions of the whole of the public service, 
up to that period, will be found barely sufficient to meet. 

In the calculations I have submitted, no consideration has 
been given to the following claims to which the Superannuation 
Fund is liable, and which are sufficient to absorb one half of the 
fund created by the Act : 

1. An Officer under sixty years of age can obtain a pension 
equal to half his salary after fifteen years' service, on submitting a 
medical certificate of incapacity ; and for every additional year of 
service an additional pension equal to one-thirtieth of his salary. 

2. If above sixty years of age he can obtain the same pension, 
for the same service, without medical certificate. 

3. If of a shorter service than fifteen years, he can obtain a 
pension varying from one month's pay for a year's service to two 
months' pay for three years' service. 

4. If an Officer die in the service, his relatives of any degree 
become entitled to receive a month's pay for each year of his 

Under these circumstances, the prospects of the Civil Service 
under the Superannuation Act of 1864 may be considered to be 


hopefully stated in the following words : Every person now in 
the Public Service who is a subscriber to the fund created by the 
Act, and who may remain in the service for ten years from this 
date, will then find that he had the satisfaction of contributing to 
the pensions of those who have retired before him, but that there 
is nothing available for pensions which may then be due, or 
afterwards become so. 

The question which I have thus brought under the notice of the 
Society is of interest to every contributor to and every recipient 
from the Fund. I apprehend that when the Fund becomes insol- 
vent as, unless further endowed, it assuredly must in about ten years, 
those who may then be pensioners will have to submit to a reduc- 
tion of their retiring allowances, in order that others entitled to be 
placed on the pension list may share with them, according to their 
claims, the available income. All contributors to the Fund have a 
claim to be pensioned from it. The Act does not appear to make 
the claim of any one superior to that of another ; and as it cau- 
tiously provides that the pension or gratuity granted shall be paid 
out of the Fund, so far as the same shall be adequate to discharge 
it, the fact of a pension having been granted to one would hardly 
justify his being paid in full to the prejudice of another, though a 
later claimant. If it be clearly understood that, when the period 
of insolvency shall have set in, those entitled to pensions will be 
allowed to divide the annual income between them in proportion 
to their claims, there is perhaps no necessity for immediate action. 
In that case, those who may get first on the pension list, and have 
contributed the least to the fund, will receive the most, whilst 
those who may be placed on it in ten years time will, perhaps, 
receive a half-pay retirement. This, however, is, comparatively 
speaking, a bright prospect. But, if the pensions are to be paid 
in full, on the principle of " first come first served," it behoves 
those who cannot expect to qualify themselves for retirement 
during the next ten years to consider their prospects, and to take 
steps for the improvement of their position. To give the Fund, 
with its present liabilities, a prospect of continued vitality, it 
should at once be further endowed with the sum of 80,000. 
If this cannot be obtained, the pensions granted should be 
limited to the capability of the Fund, which I have shown to 
be considerably less than the Act presumes. 

On the Distribution of Profits in Mutual Insurance 

By M. B. PELL, ESQ. 

[Read December 7th, 1864.] 

THERE is no part of the subject of Life Insurance which has 
occasioned so much difficulty, and given rise to so much diversity 
of opinion and of practice, as that of the distribution of profits. 
The methods which have been adopted are very various, and very 
few of them seem founded upon any intelligible principle. 

Many attempts have been made of late years to form an exact 
theory on this subject, and to deduce systematic rules ; but it 
cannot, I think, be yet said that there is any method which is 
generally recognised as theoretically correct, and capable of 
application in all cases. 

In order to form correct rules for the distribution of profits, it 
is necessary, in the first place, to lay down some fundamental 
principle, depending upon the nature of the contract of insurance, 
upon which the method of distribution must be based, and in the 
next to express the principle by means of formulas capable of 
practical application. Writers upon this subject have generally 
assumed, without comment or controversy, that the fundamental 
principle is the following. If at any time, upon investigating the 
affairs of a Mutual Insurance Society, a surplus is found to exist, 
there should be returned to each member of the society that 
portion of the surplus which he contributed. A sum being 
reserved sufficient to cover all the liabilities, the surplus, if any, 
is considered not as the property of the society, and not strictly 
speaking as profit, but as the property of certain members held 
in trust, to be returned to them according to the proportions in 
which they contributed to it. If it turn out at any investigation 
that the members have been paying too much in the form of 
premium, or that the sum reserved at the preceding investigation 
was more than the event has shewn to have been necessary, then 


the surplus is to be regarded as a separate fund from which each 
member is to be repaid in proportion to his contribution. When 
the amount of the surplus has been ascertained, nothing remains 
then but to determine how much each member contributed towards 
it. But, with the greatest respect for those eminent writers 
who have made this principle the foundation of their investiga- 
tions, there are many consideration which have driven me to the 
conclusion that it is in reality fallacious, and in many cases is, 
and necessarily must be, ignored. I shall endeavour to show 
that where there is no antecedent agreement as to the mode of 
distribution of profits, the adoption of the principle against which 
I am contending involves a violation of some of the rules which 
are universally recognised and adopted in settling mutual 
contracts, and in regulating the affairs of monetary and com- 
mercial associations. I cannot see that there is anything so 
entirely peculiar in the mutual contract of life assurance as to take 
it out of all ordinary rules, and to require or justify successive 
revisions and amendments according to circumstances as they 

In stating my objections to this principle, I shall endeavour to 
show (1) that it cannot possibly be fully carried out ; (2) that if 
in regulating the affairs of any society it could be pushed to all 
its legitimate conclusions, it would be found that the society was 
not in reality an insurance but an investment society ; (3) that 
the principle must be fallacious, for if consistently applied, it 
would, under some circumstances, lead to results, the justice, or 
even the legality, of which could not be maintained. 

In a paper by Mr. Sheppard Homans, actuary of the Mutual 
Life Insurance Company of New York, published in the London 
Assurance Magazine in October, 1863, a most elaborate method 
is given of estimating the contributions of the several members 
to the surplus fund. " It appears," he says, " that the contribu- 
tions or over-payments of policies during a bonus period may in 
general be found thus : Credit each policy-holder (1st) with the 
amount actually reserved at the last preceding distribution of 
surplus as the then present value or re-insurance of the policy ; 
and (2nd) with the effective (or full) premiums paid since that 
time, both sums being accumulated at the actual current rate of 

BY M. B. PELL, ESQ. 225 

interest, to the date of the present distribution ; and charge him 
(1st) with the actual cost of the risk to which the company has 
been exposed, during the interval, determined by means of a 
table representing the rates of mortality and interest actually 
experienced ; and then (2nd) with the amount now reserved as 
the present value of the policy. The difference between the sum 
of his credits and the sum of his debits determines the over- 
payment or contribution from the policy proper." 

This is perhaps the clearest statement that has been made 
upon this subject, and amounts to this. The premiums were 
originally settled according to a certain rate of interest, and a 
certain table of mortality, with a margin or loading added to 
cover expenses and contingencies. At the former investigation a 
sum equal to the liability upon each policy was calculated upon 
the same basis and reserved to the credit of the policy. At the 
present investigation it is found that during the interval the rates 
of interest and of mortality have been more favourable than 
those assumed, and a new scale of premiums is calculated upon 
the experienced rates, being the scale according to which the 
members should have paid if those rates could have been foreseen. 
To each member there is returned the difference between what 
he has paid and what it is supposed that he ought to have paid, 
together with the superfluous accumulations of interest upon the 
sum reserved to his credit at the former investigation. But even 
this elaborate method is very far from attaining to that mathema- 
tical equity which is intended, for it must be remembered that 
the sums to the credit of the policies at the former investigation 
would have differed, not only in amount, but in proportion, if the 
events of the succeeding bonus period could have been foreseen ; 
and, therefore, to carry out the principle fully, those sums should 
be revised, which would greatly alter the results, and would lead 
to further, and practically interminable, complications. 

By the effective premiums Mr. Ho mans explains that he means 
the actual premiums with a certain per centage upon the amount 
insured deducted to cover expenses. This mode of apportioning 
the expenses is correct as far as it goes there is no reason why 
a policy upon an older life should be charged more for expenses 
of management than one upon a younger, the amounts assured 


being the same. But it falls far short of settling the question of 
the apportionment of expenses so fully, as the strict mathematical 
equity which the system proposes to carry out seems to require. 
It would probably be found, upon a careful examination, that the 
actual expense to the society occasioned by any policy has little, 
if any, dependence upon the amount assured ; but that the ex- 
pense is pretty nearly the same upon one policy as upon another. 
Excepting, perhaps, in very large societies, where the expenses 
are relatively light, it would in many cases be found that if the 
policies for small amounts were charged with the expenses which 
they had really occasioned, there would be nothing of profit left 
to them, although a considerable general surplus migiit exist. It 
might and probably would appear in some cases, that such 
policies had been an actual loss to the society. In seeking to 
determine the real contributions to surplus by the several 
members, there is no reason why these considerations should be 
neglected, and their omission seems to render the results obtained 
of no practical value. 

To carry out the method explained by Mr. Homans, it would 
be necessary at an investigation to form a new table of mortality, 
upon the actual experience of the Society since the former 
investigation. It is difficult to see how, in so short a time and 
with so limited a number of lives, any table could be framed of 
any value whatever ; but without such a table it would be 
impossible to apportion the actual losses or cost of insurance 
during the interval, in accordance with the assumed principle. 
The losses might be apportioned in the same proportion as if the 
assumed rates of mortality had been actually experienced ; and 
this would seem the only practicable method in any case where 
the number of members is too small to form the basis of a new 
mortality table ; but it is to some extent arbitrary, and very 
imperfectly in accordance with the principle upon which the 
system rests. 

There is another consideration which cannot be consistently 
neglected, if a really accurate estimate is to be formed of the 
contributions of the several members of a society to the surplus 
fund. It is well known that it is much easier to find safe and 
good investments for smaller sums than for larger ones, and that 

BY M. B. PELL, ESQ. 227 

as the funds of a society increase, there is an increasing difficulty 
in finding safe and profitable investments. It may happen, and 
indeed has happened, that a portion of the contributions of the 
earlier members of a society are more profitably invested than 
the funds received from those who come after them. If, then, a 
member is considered to retain any special property in the money 
which he has paid to the society, the earlier members might well 
contend that they are entitled to the full benefit of the higher 
rate of interest at which their funds were invested, and it might 
even perhaps be allowed that as the older investments expire, the 
earlier members are entitled to have their funds reinvested in the 
most profitable securities which the society can find. The justice 
of this claim can hardly, I think, be disputed if the principle 
against which I am contending be allowed. The newer members, 
whose funds are necessarily invested at a lower rate of interest, 
can hardly be said to have contributed to any surplus which 
may exist, according to any higher rate of interest, than what 
those funds have actually yielded. In England, where the rate 
of interest upon money invested in good securities is tolerably 
uniform, these considerations would not perhaps be of much 
importance, but the case is very different in this colony. 

To take account of the various rates of interest in calculating 
the contributions to surplus, would involve difficulties, which 
would probably be found to be insuperable, but their neglect 
would render the results of no practical value. 

If the principle is once admitted that the original contract of 
assurance is to be varied, to the extent that every member is en- 
titled to claim as his own, anything which he has paid in excess 
of what experience has proved to have been requisite, we shall be 
driven to* conclusions totally inconsistent with the nature of 
insurance. If there has been a proportionally lower rate of mor- 
tality among the younger lives than amongst the older, then the 
younger lives should be charged with the losses upon their own 
class only. The member who insured at the age of thirty should 
be charged with no losses except those upon policies taken out at 
that age. To push the principle a little further, those who in- 
sured at the age of thirty, five years ago, should not be charged 
with losses upon policies dated ten years bank ; and so on by 


successive subdivisions, until we should come at last to the conclu- 
sion that no member can be equitably charged with any losses, 
except those upon his own policy ; which would amount to this, 
that upon the death of a member there should be paid back to 
his representatives the exact sums which he paid in, with interest 
added and expenses deducted. 

Suppose, again, that the members of the society live in two 
towns, and that experience proves that the rates of mortality are 
more favourable in one town than in the other. If any account 
is to be taken of the proportion in which the members have 
contributed to surplus during any period, it cannot be denied 
that those who live in the healthier town should be charged with 
losses according to their own more favourable rates of mortality. 
On the same principle, the towns should be divided into sections, 
the members residing in which should be charged with their own 
losses only. For similar reasons we should go on to subdivide 
into streets, and then into houses, and finally into single policies, 
arriving thus at the same conclusion as before ; which is, indeed, 
the final conclusion to which the assumed principle must 
necessarily lead, and the only perfectly equitable solution of the 
whole difficulty. 

I shall now endeavour to show that the fundamental principle 
which has been so commonly assumed, that any surplus which 
may accumulate during any period is not really the property of 
the society, but is merely held in trust to be returned to the 
members, is inconsistent with the nature of the mutual contract 
of insurance usually entered upon ; and not only is not, but in 
many cases could not reasonably or even legally, be adhered to. 

If during any period a surplus is accumulated on account of 
higher rates of interest or low rates of mortality, or excess of 
loading, then according to the assumed principle, this is the 
property of some or all of the members in a certain proportion ; 
and this proportion, it must be observed, is quite accidental, 
depending upon a variety of circumstances, which cannot in any 
case be foreseen. Now, suppose that upon the eve of the day 
upon which the investigation is to take place, a loss exactly equal 
in amount to this surplus which has accrued, is incurred through 
some accidental cause, as the failure of a bank. There could be 

BY M. B. PELL, ESQ. 229 

no possible doubt, I conceive, that the surplus should be 
appropriated to make good this loss. To the justice and legality 
of such an appropriation, no objection could possibly be made. 
But according to the assumed principle, such an appropriation 
would be grossly unjust, being an application of the private 
property of certain members, to make good a partnership loss. 
If there had been no surplus, then all the members must have 
borne the loss, in a certain proportion. The fact that there 
happens to be in the hands of the society a fund, the private pro- 
perty of the members, cannot alter the proportion in which the 
loss should be borne, and to apply this fund to cover the loss 
would be clearly unjust, unless the proportion were the same, 
which could only happen by the merest accident. According to 
the principle, the fallacy of which I am endeavouring to prove, 
the only proper course would be, to apportion the loss, and to 
apportion the surplus separately, and so to balance the accounts. 
This would lead us to the absurd conclusion, that some of the 
members would have to bear a certain loss, or abate somewhat of 
their claims according to the original contract, although the 
society on the whole was in a perfectly solvent state, whilst to 
apply the surplus to cover the loss, would be at once to affirm 
that the surplus fund is, and that it is not the common property 
of the society common property to pay losses, but not common 
property to be distributed as profit. 

Again it might be found upon investigation, that by reason of 
high rates of interest, a certain profit had accrued, but that in 
consequence of a high rate of mortality, a loss had been incurred. 
To follow the obvious and necessary course of applying the profit 
to cover the loss would involve similar contradictions. 

The word equitable has been much used by writers upon this 
subject, and it seems always to have been assumed that equity 
consists in returning to every member so much as he may have 
paid in excess of what has in fact proved to be sufficient ; or, in 
other words, to reform the original contract by the light of new ex- 
perience. I think that I have sufficiently shown that this principle 
of equity, if carried out to its full extent, and I cannot see that 
there is any particular point at which we can stop short in its 
application, is inconsistent with the existence of any contract of 


insurance at all. My idea of equity, as applied to this subject, is 
that the original contract should be rigidly adhered to, without 
reference to subsequent events. A member contracts to pay an 
annual premium calculated upon the basis of certain rates of 
interest and mortality. If on the whole the rates of interest and 
mortality prove favourable, a surplus will accumulate, and will be 
the common property of the society, independently of the sources 
from which it- may have been derived, and should be dealt with 
in the same manner as if it had been caused by a rise in the 
value of securities, or otherwise accidently. 

The observed rates of interest and mortality, and calculations 
respecting the expense of management, may afford very useful 
data for the formation of new societies, or for determining the 
conditions upon which new members should be admitted, but I 
cannot see that they have any relevancy whatever in estimating 
the proportion in which an existing surplus is to be divided. 

I will endeavour by an illustration to make my meaning more 
clear. Suppose that a number of persons should combine 
together to form a society for the purpose of cultivating land, so 
as to provide themselves with such quantities of wheat, maize, 
and hay as they might require, each member agreeing to take so 
much of each commodity at a certain fixed price, to be paid 
annually in advance, the agreement to continue in force during 
a certain time, and the profits, if any, to be divided equitably at 
fixed intervals. 

If the profits were to be divided according to the principle 
attempted to be applied to life insurance societies, it would be 
necessary when a surplus had accumulated to make an accurate 
estimate of the cost of producing each commodity, and to charge 
each member accordingly, so as to ascertain how much each 
had contributed to the surplus. If wheat were found to have cost 
much less than had been anticipated, then the member who had 
agreed to take wheat only, would receive a large share of the 
profit. If the cost of hay agreed exactly with the estimated 
price, then the man who took hay only would receive no profit. 
If there was a loss upon the maize, then those who took maize 
should, on the same principle, instead of sharing in the profit, be 
required to make good the loss. It would be contrary to the 

BY M. B. PELL, ESQ. 231 

principle to appropriate the contributions from the wheat con- 
sumers to pay the losses occasioned by the maize consumers, for 
every man's contribution should be regarded as his own. I think 
it will be conceded that this mode of apportioning the profits 
would be directly at variance with our most commonly received 
motions of equity, and that the principle involved would, if fully 
carried out, render mutual contracts to be performed in future 
practically of no effect. 

An estimate of the actual cost of the several commodities pro- 
duced would furnish useful data in forming a new society for 
similar purposes ; and the calculations of how much each member 
contributed to surplus might afford an interesting arithmetical 
exercise ; but in determining how the profit in hand should be 
divided such estimates and calculations would be wholly 

I will now endeavour to explain what I consider to be the 
true principle upon which profits should be distributed in Mutual 
Life Insurance Societies. 

Suppose that a number of persons mutually insure their lives. 
Each member contracts to pay a fixed sum annually during his 
lifetime, and the society contracts to pay a certain sum upon his 
death. At the end of five years, suppose a fund will have accu- 
mulated in the hands of the society, and at the same time each 
policy will have acquired a certain value. Suppose now that it 
were determined to wind up the Society, and to divide the fund. 
Each member should in the first place of course receive the 
present value of his policy, or the value of his claim against the 
society. If the payment of these sums should exhaust the fund, 
there would be an end of the matter : the Society would have 
proved exactly solvent and no more, and no one would have lost 
or gained anything by it. 

The present value of the policy on the life of any member is 
his share of the fund, being precisely what he would lose if the 
fund were annihilated, and what he would receive if the Society 
were wound up. It is, in fact, the sum which he has invested 
and risked in the concern. It is not, of course, so great as the 
full amount of the premiums which he has paid, with interest 
added, for a portion has gone to pay for losses by deaths during 


the five years, and for this he has received an equivalent, viz., 
the security which he has enjoyed during the five years, that in 
case of his death a certain sum would be paid to those for whom 
it was his intention to provide. 

It is not my object in this paper to consider how the present 
value of a policy should be determined, but in a merely business 
like point of view, it should be such a sum as would enable a 
member, in case his own society was wound up, to compound 
with another similar society to insure his life at the same pre- 
mium which he had hitherto paid, although his age was greater 
by five years. 

If upon winding up a society it were found that the funds 
were not sufficient to pay back to each member the present value 
of his policy, it is quite clear that each must abate proportionally. 
Whatever per centage is wanting on the whole, the same per 
centage must be deducted from each. I cannot see that there 
would be any other just or legal way of apportioning the loss, 
and it appears to me equally clear that if, instead of a deficiency, 
there were a surplus, it should be distributed in the same pro- 
portion ; that is, in proportion to the present value of the policies 
or to the sums invested and risked in the Society by the several 
members. This is precisely in accordance with universal practice 
in all cases where several persons are jointly interested in any 
undertaking. Profits are always divided in the same proportion 
in which losses, if incurred, would be apportioned. It may be 
urged, as an objection to this method, that, under certain circum- 
stances, some of the members would receive a larger share of the 
surplus than they had contributed ; but it would always be found 
in such cases that if a loss had been incurred, the same members 
would necessarily have borne the larger share of the loss, and in 
the same proportion. 

In a purely proprietary company, under proper management, 
the insured incur no appreciable risk, and receive no share of the 
profit. The shareholders take all the surplus, to which they have 
contributed nothing. They are simply paid for the risk which 
they have incurred, small though it be. The insured enjoys a 
security for which he pays, and the shareholder undertakes a 
certain risk for which he is paid. To say that this is inequitable, 

BY M. B. PELL, ESQ. 233 

because the shareholder had contributed nothing to the surplus, 
would not be more absurd than it would be to condemn as in- 
equitable a system, under which a member of a Mutual Life 
Insurance Society might, under certain circumstances, receive a 
larger share of the profits than he had himself contributed. 
When a man becomes a member of a Mutual Insurance Society, 
he not only insures his life, but, to a certain extent, he engages 
in the business of life insurance ; he is at once insurer and in- 
sured, and as insurer he may be considered at any time to have 
invested in the business a sum equal to the present value of his 
policy, and is entitled to a proportional share of the profits in the 
same way and for the same reason that a shareholder in a pro- 
prietary company is so entitled. 

This present value is small at first, and increases with the 
duration of the policy, but where the premium is paid in a single 
sum. the policy has at once a considerable value. In estimating 
the present values of the policies at any investigation, it is 
necessary of course to take into account any previous bonus 
additions which may have been m&de, every such addition 
amounting in reality to a new paid-up policy. 

Any system of distribution which depends upon* the assump- 
tion that the loading is the principal source of profit, the " bonus 
producing power " of the policy, as it has been called, is quite 
inapplicable in this colony. In England the rates of interest 
upon good securities are tolerably uniform, and the probability of 
any great fluctuation very remote, so that it is safe to calculate 
upon a rate of interest a very little less than what may actually 
be obtained. But here, although a comparatively high rate of 
interest may be obtained, its continuance cannot safely be de- 
pended upon, so that there is necessarily a wide difference 
between the assumed and the experienced rates. This has been, 
and will no doubt continue to be for many years, one of the largest 
sources of profit to Life Insurance Societies in this colony. 

By a method explained by Mr. Meikle in a paper recently 
published in the Assurance Magazine, the contributions from 
interest alone by the several members of a Society may be cal- 
culated with exactness upon the supposition that the members 
die according to the assumed rates of mortality. By a similar 


method some general results may be obtained as to the effects of 
more favourable rates, and of loading. I cannot within the limits 
of this paper enter fully into this part of the subject, but can only 
state some results in a very general form. The contributions 
to surplus from a very high rate of interest are larger in propor- 
tion to present values from older and from paid up policies, than 
from ordinary policies of short duration. The reverse is the case 
with respect to profits arising from loading and from low rates of 
mortality ; the contributions from these sources from policies of 
very short duration, being larger in proportion to their present 
values, than from older or from paid up policies. The losses 
which might be occasioned by high rates of mortality would be 
in the same proportion. There is a greater proportional profit on 
the newer policies, but, at the same time, there is a greater risk. 
According to the method of distribution which I propose, the 
younger policies would under such fa vo arable circumstances re- 
ceive less, and the older ones more, than they had contributed ; 
and the general effect would be that, until a member attained to 
the average age, his bonus additions would be less than an equi- 
valent for his contributions to surplus ; but afterwards the balance 
would be in his favour. This would be the case in an old society 
with policies existing of all ordinary durations. 

None of these results respecting contributions, according to 
my view of the matter, afford any argument for or against the 
method of distribution which I advocate. I have stated them 
merely for the purpose of explaining the reason of certain effects, 
which that method produced at the recent investigation of the 
Australian Mutual Provident Society. The circumstances of that 
Society are wholly exceptional, and T believe unprecedented. 
The rates of mortality during the past five years have been un- 
usually low, and the profit from this source upon policies of short 
duration, although not very considerable, is large in proportion 
to their present values. The method, therefore, of dividing the 
surplus in proportion to present values, has in this case operated 
favourably to the older and more valuable policies. Under 
ordinary circumstances, where there is the usual proportion of 
old and of new policies, this would not have produced any very 
marked effect. The business of the Australian Mutual Provident 

BY M. B. PELL, ESQ. 235 

Society, however, has increased so enormously during the last 
few years, and the preponderance of very new policies, is so ex- 
cessive, that a policy of six years standing may be regarded as 
an old policy, and one of ten years as very old. 

On account of the favourable rates of mortality which the 
Society has experienced, this new business has proved very 
remunerative, and of the profits from this source, the policies of 
longer duration have in some cases received a larger share than 
what they actually contributed. Those who think there is any- 
thing really inequitable in this, should remember that those who 
have received the larger share of the profits have also incurred 
the largafr share of the risk. The accumulated capital, the pro- 
perty of the earlier members of the Society, was the guarantee 
fund, without the security of which the greater number of the 
newer members would never have insured their lives in the 
Society at all ; and upon this fund, if any loss had been incurred 
through a high rate of mortality, the larger share of the loss must 
have fallen. Any such loss must have been made good, if possible, 
out of the surplus arising from high rates of interest, to which 
the newer members have contributed comparatively little. 
The larger share of such losses would unavoidably have fallen 
upon the earlier members, and, therefore, they are entitled to 
participate in profits in proportion to the sums which they have 
invested in the society and exposed to such risks. It would be 
very unjust that the newer members should share fully in the 
profits arising from favourable rates of mortality, whilst they are 
to a great extent secured against losses by the funds already 

Even supposing that the real contributions to surplus from 
every policy could be estimated, it would be inequitable to divide 
profits in that proportion, unless there was an understanding that 
losses in any way incurred should be separately estimated and 
similarly apportioned. If the surplus from one source, or from 
all sources, is merely held by the society in trust to be returned 
to the members in certain proportions, then clearly if a loss be 
incurred through rates of mortality in excess of the assumed 
rates, or otherwise, this loss must be the private debt of the 
members, to be paid by them in certain proportions, independently 


of any surplus which may have arisen from other sources. Such 
a system would be inconsistent with what seems one of the funda- 
mental principles of insurance, viz., that all losses shall be borne 
in common and paid for out of the common fund ; and could not 
reasonably or even legally be carried out except under a distinct 
antecedent agreement. 

On the Agricultural Statistics of New South Wales, 

[Read December 7th, 1864.] 

I BEG to lay on the table of the Society three sets of tables, 
setting forth respectively as follows, viz. : 

Table 1. 1st the imports of wheat and flour, the estimated 
value thereof, and the value per head of the population. 2nd the 
colonial produce, with the average price per bushel of wheat, 
estimated value, and value per head of the population. 3rd the 
exports of wheat and flour, estimated value thereof, and value per 
head of the population. 

Table 2. The second table shows the quantities, in tons, 
imported, produced in the colony, and exported, with the net 
quantity left for consumption, and the proportion to every 100 of 
the population. 

Table 3. The third table exhibits the proportion of land 
under tillage in the principal crops, and the produce per acre. 

The three sets of tables embrace the quinquennial period from 
1859 to 1863, both inclusive. 

It has seemed to me to be of some importance at the present 
juncture, that we should arrive at as near an approximation, as 
the information before us will admit, as to the results of our 
colonial husbandry during the last few years. 


I take this means of giving publicity to the subject, since 
owing to the lateness of the period when the returns for 1863 
were received, no time was afforded me for analysing them prior 
to their publication, and the usual official channel is now closed to 

If any one will take the trouble to refer to the " Statistical 
Register" for 1858, he will find a set of tables similar to 
those now before you, extending over the period from 1854 to 
1858, both inclusive. He will find the following results plainly 
brought out, and stated at pages 12, 13, and 14 of the pre- 
fatory report, viz., that the average annual value of our 
imports of wheat and flour for the five years was no less than 
368,473 ; that was at the annual rate of 1 5s. 3d. per head 
of the population. 

The total sum sent out of the colony during this period for 
wheat and flour, was 1,842,365 ; this was for the five years, 
1854 to 1858. Well, what did we produce during this period? 
The statistics of agriculture show us that on the average of the 
five years, our wheat crops yielded 1,346,052 bushels per annum 
(an average of rather more than 15 bushels per acre.) The price 
of wheat during these five years ranged from 7s. 4d. up to 16s. 5d. 
per bushel, the average being lls. 4d. ; this gave an annual value 
to our wheat crop of 762,312, or at the rate of 2 12s. 3d. per 
head of the population. 

The annual value of our imports and home produce together, 
was 1,120,785, or at the rate of 3 17s. 6d. per head of the 
population ; but from this we must deduct an export at the rate 
of 86,356, or 6s. 4d. per head annually, which leaves 3 lls. 2d. 
as the annual average value of the consumption of breadstuffs per 
head of the population. Including wheat for seed, the net 
quantity of wheat and flour left for consumption, after deducting 
exports, averaged 44,361 tons annually, that is at the rate of 14'9 
tons to every 100 of the population, equal to very nearly 300 Ibs. 
to every man, woman, and child in the colony. 

I have referred back to these results of a previous inves- 
tigation, in order to institute a comparison with the figures I 
have now to treat of, which have reference to the later quin- 
quennial period, 1859 to 1863. 



The average annual value of wheat and flour imported during 
this period was 354,826, equal to 19s. 9d. per head of the 
population ; and the total sum sent out of the Colony for bread- 
stuffs was 1,774,133. 

We will put the results of the two quinquennial periods 
together, viz. : 

Annual Average. 



1854 to 1858 




1859 to 1863 


19 9 






I am comparing now the declared values of our importations, 
quantity I will come to presently. It appears then, that the 
value of the importations in the five years, 1859 to 1863, did not 
reach the average of the previous five years by 13,647, or 
5s. 6d. per head. 

If we look, however, to the quantities imported, we shall find 
the figures reversed ; for whereas the annual average of the first 
five years was 17,141 tons, the average of the last five years was 
23,499 tons that is an excess at the rate of 6,858 tons annually. 

Our home produce of wheat, from 1859 to 1863 inclusive, 
averaged 1,331,371 bushels annually, or rather over 11 bushels 
per acre, being a smaller average by 15,281 bushels than the 
yield of the previous five years ; the prices of wheat ranged from 
6s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. per bushel the average being 7s. 3d., which gave 
an annual value to our wheat crop of 493,801, or at the rate 
of 1 7s. lid. per head of the population. 

The comparison stands thus, viz. : 

Average Acreage. 




1854 to 1858 

87 906 

1 346 652 

11 4 

762 312 

1859 to 1863 

116 061 

1 331 371 


493 801 


The computed value of our imports and home produce 
together was at the annual rate of 2 7s. 8d. per head of the 
population, against 3 7s. 6d., during the previous five years. 

The difference in the rate is attributable not (as has been 
shown) to deficiency of quantity, but to the higher value during 
the earlier quinquennial period. 

Including wheat for seed, the net quantity of wheat and flour 
left for consumption, after deducting exports, averaged 47,919 
tons, that is, at the rate of 134 tons to every 100 of the popula- 
tion equal to about 260 Ibs. to every man, woman, and child in 
the colony, that is, about 40 Ibs. less per head per annum than 
we found to be the consumption of the previous quinquennial 

It is reasonable to attribute the higher rate of consumption of 
the first five years to the comparative extravagance of the period 
following the gold discovery. We know that waste and ex- 
travagance marked that era, not in food only, but in drink, in 
dress, and in necessaries of all kinds. The sobering process of 
the last five years has had the effect of introducing habits of 
economy into every household, as herein exemplified. 

What are the results then of this branch of our inquiry ? They 
are these : First, we imported during the decade 1854 to 
1863, inclusive wheat and flour to the value of 3,616,498, we 
exported to the value of 888,238, leaving a sum of 2,728,260 
against the colony for breadstuff's, exclusive of rye, oats, barley, 
rice, &c. 

Secondly, that whilst the extent of land sown in wheat has 
increased by 32 per cent, over the average of the first five years, 
the average yield of our own crops has not kept pace with this 
increase, nor with the increase of the population. This result 
is owing, for the most part, to the disasters of the last two 
years. Excepting the year 1854 the crop of last season was 
far below any year of the decade. The largest yield was in 
1856, viz. 1,756,964 bushels off 106,124 acres ; the smallest 
was in 1863, 808,919 bushels, off 103,962 acres, equal to 95 
Ibs. of flour per head of the population, without deducting 
wheat for seed, or about one third the quantity required for 


In the first quinquennial period we imported 36'0 per cent., 
and we produced 64-0 per cent, of the wheat and flour provided 
for consumption. In the second quinquennial period we imported 
44*0 per cent., and produced 56'0 per cent. 

In the first five years the average acreage sown in wheat was 
49 '4 per cent, of the land under tillage. In the second five years 
it was 41*4 per cent, only a falling off of 8 per cent. And here 
I should like to point attention to the remarkable decrease in 
wheat cultivation, and to the corresponding increase in the 
cultivation of maize, which is observable in the years 1862 and 
1863. You will observe in table 3 that whilst in 1860 we had 49 
per cent, of our cultivated land under wheat, and 19 per cent, 
only in maize, in 1863 we had 33 per cent, only under wheat, 
and 31 per cent, in maize. 

There is another striking feature in the table of produce which 
goes to prove the greater certainty attending the cultivation of 
maize. It will be seen that the years fraught with disaster to 
the wheat crop, were rather favourable to the growth of maize, 
for in 1862, we had 33J bushels of maize per acre, and only 9 \ 
of wheat ; and in 1863, we had 30J bushels of maize to only 7J 
of wheat. 

The expediency of substituting maize-flour for wheaten-flour 
or, rather, of using the two together is a question of deep 
moment. It involves a saving to the country of something like 
300,000 a-year; and Mr. Mort has placed us under great 
obligations for having brought the matter so prominently before 
the public, and for setting so good an example. No other colony 
can compete with us in growing maize, whilst all (excepting 
Queensland) can beafrus in the growth of wheat. 

But I must not dilate at greater length on this topic. The 
paper is already longer than I intended, and yet there is one 
practical conclusion at which I should like to arrive before 
closing my remarks. It is to determine from the data before 
us, what remuneration the agriculturist may expect, on the 
average of years, for his labour and expenditure in the cultiva- 
tion of wheat. 

We have seen that the average yield of the five years 1854 
to 1858 was fifteen bushels per acre, and that the average price 


(let it be observed that this was a period of comparatively high 
prices, owing to the effects of the gold discovery) was 11s. 4d. 
per bushel. The result is, that the farmer, during these years, 
reaped a return of 8 10s. per acre as the reward of his toil. 
But his seed wheat has to come out of this, at the rate of If 
bushels per acre, and this reduces his profits by 17s., leaving 
him only 7 13s. per acre. 

This, however, is the result of five years of higher prices than 
have ruled since. Let us see then how much the farmer has 
made by wheat-growing on the average of the last five years 
1859 to 1863. 

We have seen that the average yield was only 11*3 bushels 
per acre, whilst the average price was 7s. 3d. per bushel. Now 
suppose, after deducting wheat for seed, the farmer had a clear 
10 bushels of wheat for sale to the acre, the average remuneration 
for his expenditure of time and labour would amount to 3 12s. 
6d. per acre. If now we take the mean of the two quinquennial 
periods, we get the result of 5 12s. 9d. per acre as the cash 
return to the farmer. But this is a more favourable view than it 
would be wise for him to make the basis of his calculations ; 
because, on turning back to earlier statistics, I find that during 
the four years previous to the decade I am speaking of, namely, 
from '49 to '53, the average price of wheat was barely 6s. per 

The South Australian farmer is content to get his 3s. 6d. per 
bushel on the ground, and his average produce may be stated at 
about 12 bushels to the acre, that is about 42s. per acre, whilst 
our average return per acre is more than double. And yet what 
are the facts ? Why, that the cultivation of wheat was in 1862 
at the rate af 2| acres to each person in South Australia, whilst 
in New South Wales there was not half an acre. If this is so, 
the South Australian farmer may calculate on a remunerative 
market for his breadstuffs in Sydney for many years to come, if 
we do not bestir ourselves. We can also readily understand how 
it is that we received from that colony in 1863 over 400,000 
bushels of wheat and over 12,000 tons of flour of the aggregate 
value of 270,717. 

In disparagement of the results arrived at in this paper, 


doubts may be thrown upon the perfect accuracy of our returns 
of agriculture. All that I can say in answer to this is, that they 
have been complied with the greatest care, and that every 
possible precaution has been taken to ensure accuracy in their 
collection. To say that errors may be possible is only to say 
that all human efforts are fallible ; but there are no more 
reasonable grounds for rejecting the conclusions at which we 
have arrived in this matter than for rejecting the results of any 
other inquiry into the social condition of the people, or into the 
comparative progress of the colony in any other branch of 

Seeing the great importance of the subject, it would be 
well that means were taken to render the enquiry into our 
agricultural resources less open to question, and to publish 
the information obtained in more minute detail and with 
greater promptitude. 

I must, however, take leave to deprecate the idea that the 
duty of collecting the returns is performed in a perfunctory 
manner. It is true with regard to the boundaries of districts, 
that, taking one year with the other, uniformity has not in all 
cases been observed ; but in the aggregate it is only proper to 
say that the most careful scrutiny, from year to year, has disclosed 
no seriously appreciable error. 

(YEARS 1859 TO 1863, INCLUSIVE.) 

TABLE shewing 1st, the Imports of Wheat and Flour, the 

Estimated Value, and the Quantity and Rate per head of 

the Population. 
2nd, the Colonial Produce of Wheat in bushels, the Average 

Price per Bushel, and the Number of Bushels, and Rate per 

head of Population. 
3rd, the Export of Wheat and Flour, the Estimated Value, 

and the Quantity and Rate per head of Population. 








Flour and 



Value of 
Imports per 
Head of 





8. d. 
11 2 
1 6 6 
18 5 
18 5 

Average of 5 years. . 537,850 

11,547 1 354,826 

19 9 



Colonial Produce. 

Value of 
Imports and 
Colonial Pro- 
duce per 
Head of 


price p. bu. 
out the 

8 6 
6 6 

6 6 


Value of 
Colonial pro- 
duce per 
Head of 





s. d. 
1 16 3 
1 9 1 
1 1 
13 10 

S. d. 
2 11 8 
2 13 4 
1 18 6 
1 12 3 

Average of 5 years 


7 3 


1 7 11 






Flour and 


Value of 
Exports per 
Head of 






s. d. 
3 2 
5 4 
5 8 
5 2 
5 10 

Average of 5 years . . 






2. TABLE shewing the quantities of Breadstuff's Imported, Pro- 
duced in the Colony, and Exported during the years 1859, 
1860, 1861, 1862, and 1863 ; also the Proportion per 100 of 

















O ft 






















































Average of 5 yrs - 




5,167 * 47,919 


* Wheat for Seed is included in this quantity. 

3. PROPORTION of the Cultivated Land under the Principal Crops, 
during the years 1859, 1860, 1861, 1862, and 1863. 

Name of Crop. 


5 Years. 














Potatoes. . . . 
Hay. . . 

PRODUCE per Acre of each of the Principal Crops, during the 
years 1859, 1860, 1861, 1862, and 1863. 




6 Years. 






Wheat bhls. 







Maize do. 







Barley do. 







Oats do. 







Potatoes tns. 







Hay do. 







On the Defences of Port Jackson, 
By G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 

[Read September 6th, 1865.] 

IT is generally admitted that the effectual defence of Port 
Jackson presents many difficulties. Not one of the several 
projects that have been proposed at different times seems to fulfil 
entirely and satisfactorily the object in view, viz., the possibility 
of preventing an enemy from entering Port Jackson, or the cer- 
tainty of having such advantage over him from our batteries, as 
to oblige him to surrender or retreat if we permit him to enter 
the Harbour. These difficulties arise chiefly from the extent of 
Coast to be fortified, which encloses an area of about ten square 
miles, and has no less than twenty Points, Headlands, or Islands, 
and twenty Bays or Coves to be commanded or covered, and also 
from the enormous expense required to complete extensive and 
effective works, and to maintain a large military force to man 

Any complete system of defence for Port Jackson, if ex- 
tended from Sydney to the Heads, would be too costly for the 
Colony at present ; but batteries might be commenced to afford 
temporary defence, with a view to their being afterwards con- 
verted into works of such power as to render them efficient and 

The probability of being obliged to strengthen our defensive 
works in a co-relative proportion to the advance of Military 
science, was overlooked in the construction of our present 
batteries, and in our future works we must not forget the rapid 
improvements that are made daily in the heavy artillery and 
vessels of war likely to be brought against us. 

It must be admitted that whether we have or have not the 
co-operation of English Men-of-War or of a Colonial Navy, 
batteries and forts are indispensible for the defence of our 


It is therefore requisite : 

I. To consider carefully the strategical field of Port Jackson 
with regard to Defensive and Offensive operations, and to make a 
topographical examination of all the positions to be commanded 
or covered. 

II. To fix upon the best positions for our forts and batteries 
strategically, and with regard to communication with head- 

III. To determine the number and strength of our batteries, 
so that they may command every place where a vessel could lay 
to, to shell the city, taking into consideration the amount of 
Military Forces at our disposal, the assistance we may derive 
from Ships of Her Majesty's Navy, and the outlay necessary for 
the completion of the works. 

IY. To determine the construction necessary for our forts 
and batteries, in order to make them of sufficient strength and 
power to resist any attack made upon them by sea or by land, 
considering the improved ordnance likely to be used against us, 
and to make these works as extensive as may be required by 
their particular positions to enable a sufficient number of soldiers 
to manoeuvre within them, in order to secure effective defence 
and to keep up a rapid and regular fire against an attacking 

V. To determine the quantity and power of the ordnance 
required for the works proposed, considering the improvements 
made in vessels of war, the sides of which are now made suf- 
ficiently strong to resist the penetration of projectiles fired from 
old cast iron guns, and also the long ranges at which we shall 
have to attack the ships of an enemy, and the uncertainty of 
firing at moving objects. 

I shall explain my views upon each of these points separately. 


1 . On looking over the Echiquier General of Port Jackson, 
with regard to defensive and offensive operations, we find that the 
elevation of the North Head (353 feet) renders it a tempting posi- 
tion to an enemy, as it would defilade works on Middle Head, 
George Head, Inner South Head, Green Point, Shark Point, 

BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 247 

Bradley Head, Shark Island, Clark Island, Point Piper, and Dar- 
ling Point, and would command North Harbour, Middle Harbour, 
the Sound, the Channels, Watsons Bay, Taylor Bay, Rose Bay, 
Double Bay, and as far as Bushcutters Bay, besides the whole 
of the approaches to the Harbour by sea; but this formidable 
position could easily be rendered inaccessible by a battery on 
Middle Head, except on the ocean side, where a landing could 
be prevented. 

North Head is too distant and too isolated to be permanently 
occupied, and Works erected thereon could only be advantageous 
to us in the event of our being able to spare many of our troops. 

2. Middle Head is one of the best positions in Port Jackson, 
but unless strongly fortified at the gorge by a ditch and wall about 
400 yards long, enclosing an area of nearly 15 acres, it would prove 
insecure, as an enemy could bring boats at night into Hunter Bay 
and Obelisk Bay to land large bodies of troops to attack the 
batteries of Middle Head in the rear, and by preventing our 
re-enforcements reaching other positions from the attacked point, 
facilitate the tactics of his fleet. Vessels steaming 5 knots per 
hour, on entering by the East Channel, would not be exposed to the 
fire of Middle Head batteries more than six (6) minutes within 
a range of 2000 yards, and would keep during that time more 
than 1000 yards from these batteries ; on entering by the West 
Channel vessels would be exposed twenty (20) minutes at a less 
range than 2000 yards, but as soon as they had rounded George 
Head they would have no more to fear from the batteries of 
Middle Head, and in the case of landing parties attacking these 
batteries, they might prevent re-enforcements from reaching in 
time other positions attacked by a fleet. If reliance could be 
placed on obstructions across the Channel to prevent the ingress 
of ships, Middle Head strongly fortified might prove the best 
position in Port Jackson ; but as permanent obstructions that 
would keep out our own vessels as well as an enemy's are out of 
the question. Middle Head cannot be considered strategically the 
best position for Head-quarters on the North Shore. 

3. George Head, if we have temporary obstructions is of 
more importance. The height of its crest in close communication 
with roads, the impossibility of an enemy surrounding it, from 


the approaches being so extensive 'and well commanded, safe 
retreat being secured in case of a reverse, the practicability of 
affording re-enforcements to other positions, if needed, by land 
or by water, together with the fitness of the ground to contain 
Shell-proof works and barracks, and to command every battery 
we might have from Darling Point to the entrance of the Harbour, 
indicate it as the best position on the North Shore for Head- 
quarters for the number of troops to be permanently kept in 
readiness against the attacks of an enemy. . Vessels steaming 5 
knots per hour must be exposed to the full fire of batteries on 
George Head for 25 minutes, at a less range than 2000 yards, 
and within that same range, the guns of George Head will cross 
fire with those of every battery as far as Point Piper. Vessels 
forcing a passage through obstructions thrown across the channels 
would be followed by the guns of George Head until past Bradley 

4. On examination of the ground from Inner South Head 
Lighthouse to the Gap, we find that the first point north of the 
Gap Bluff is decidedly the best for a battery. There is no inter- 
vening ground to interfere with the fire of guns as at each of the 
other plateaux towards the Lighthouse. This position might be 
of value with long range guns. Vessels entering by the East 
Channel would be exposed to the fire of the guns of a battery on 
Inner South Head for 28 minutes, within a range of 2000 yards, 
but only for 4 minutes within a range of 1000 yards. Engaging 
vessels at sea, which could easily keep out of 1000 yards range, 
would prove almost a waste of ammunition, as the elevation of the 
guns would vary at every shot. At night this battery would be 
nearly useless. It is too far from Watsons Bay for tactical opera- 
tions, although it is invaluable as a look-out from which to trans- 
mit information by Electric Telegraph to other batteries. 

5. Green Point is strategically a very good position ; a 
battery there is necessary. Vessels entering by the East Channel 
would be raked fore and aft by its guns nearly point blank, being 
fully exposed to their fire for 12 minutes within a range of 1000 
yards, and for 20 minutes within 2000 yards ; entering by the 
West Channel vessels would lie 16 minutes only within the same 
range, but a low ricochetting fire from Green Point would be 

BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 249 

almost certain to disable them. The proximity of Watsons Bay 
(for communication by water), renders this position most valuable 
in a logistical point of view. In time of war it will also afford a 
powerful support to vessels seeking shelter in Watsons Bay. 

6. Shark Point is another good position. Vessels would be 
exposed 24 minutes within a range of 2000 yards to the fire of 
guns placed there, but their speed may be increased and the 
time of their exposure lessened. Guns at that position would 
cover Taylor Bay and Rose Bay where vessels could lay to to 
shell the city. It is easy of access and ought to be occupied. 

7. Bradley Point is a most important position with any system 
of Defence we may adopt. With obstructions in the Channels, 
it is as important as Shark Point, although further from them, and 
without obstructions, it is strategically the best position in Port 
Jackson. Within a range of 2000 yards, it commands almost 
every place where a vessel could lay to to shell the City. Heavy 
Guns placed at Bradley Point would bear constantly on an 
enemy for three-quarters of an hour, from the time of his 
entering Port Jackson until h*e had reached Darling Harbour, 
being nearly all the time raked fore and aft. Bradley Head, might, 
however, like Middle Head, prove an insecure position unless 
strongly fortified at the gorge on the higher ground, to prevent 
an enemy from attacking its batteries in the rear. 

8. With obstructions in the Channels, Point Piper, Darling 
Point, Garden Island, and Careening Point need only have sub- 
sidiary batteries, where guns may be taken if wanted ; but with- 
out obstructions, these positions require powerful batteries for 
guns to cross fire with other works within a range of 2000 yards 
upon vessels attempting to shell the city and shipping. 

9. Shark Island and Clark Island would be very good posi- 
tions if we could spare many troops to occupy permanently strong 
forts erected thereon, otherwise they are too liable to be surrounded 
by a fleet and attacked by landing parties, without the chance of 
assistance or re-enforcements reaching them. Strong Forts 
numerously garrisoned on these Islands would be too costly to build 
and to maintain. 

10. Although the present batteries at Fort Denison, Lady 
Macquarie's Point, Fort Macquarie, Kiribili Point, and Dawes 


Point, and the dismantled battery on Bradley Point are frequently 
depreciated, and' are no doubt defective in some details of con- 
struction, their situation is in accordance with the rules of 
Defence at the time they were designed, which could not possibly 
foresee or provide for the consequences of the recent wonderful 
developement of the mechanical appliances of war. With our 
experience, the same mistakes are not likely to occur in new 
works, and the old ones may be modified so as to render them 
efficient batteries. 

11. The inner positions of the Harbour as far as our Powder 
Magazine must be protected by batteries on Fort Phillip, Goat 
Island, Ball's Head, or Long Nose Point, to prevent vessels under 
shelter in some of the Bays, from shelling the City. The new 
Powder Magazine at Spectacle Island ought without delay to be 
made shot and shell proof. 

12. If obstructions were placed across the " Sow and Pigs " 
Shoal, a strong Tower on the rock there would be necessary to 
fire point blank on either side at vessels attempting to force a 
passage, but without obstructions, there seems no necessity for 
such a work. 


The extent and number of our Batteries require much con- 

We may be exposed to receive a hostile visit from a single 
frigate, but it is more likely that not less than a squadron would 
dare to venture into Port Jackson, with the probability of being 
received by British men-of-war ; if we trust to the latter to defend 
us, they may be overpowered by a stronger force if not well sup- 
ported by land batteries. It is more prudent to depend chiefly 
on our batteries, regarding the powerful assistance of H.M. 
Ships, if at Sydney, as an additional advantage. 

Two systems of Defence seem practicable. 

The first consists in the strength and power of our batteries 
and forts and upon their extent, to cover every point where an 
enemy could attempt a landing, or lay to to shell the city and 

BY G. A. MOEELL, ESQ., C.E. 251 

shipping. The strongest work of such a system should be at 
Bradley Head as a centre of operation, the batteries at the 
Heads being subsidiary ; the heaviest of guns would be required 
at every work, with a large number of men and good military 
roads to every position. 

This system is the most rational, and the only one in accord- 
ance with the laws of Defence and Attack, but it is too costly to 
be entertained at present by the Colony. I find from a rough 
estimate that it would not cost less than a quarter of a million 
sterling before its completion, and not less than 60,000 annually 
for the maintenance of the necessary troops and for repairs. 

The second system of defence consists in obstructing the 
Channels at the entrance of the Harbour, and in concentrating 
round these obstructions, where vessels may be expected to be 
delayed, our strongest works, making provision, however, 
for the possibility of vessels taking us by surprise or for 
their forcing a passage, by constructing subsidiary works within 
the obstructions. 

Movable obstructions beyond booming a narrow channel or 
canal are not generally considered as means of defence, but we 
are obliged to take into consideration the small number of 
troops at our command and the cost of Defensive Works. 
If mechanical contrivances could be relied on, a small open- 
ing might be left in the obstructions of the channels to be closed 
at a short notice on the appearance of suspicious craft. 
Any obstructions must be made of as permanent a character 
as possible to prevent boats intended to land troops from passing 
over them or blowing them up partly, to effect a coup de main on 
our batteries. 

The cost of the construction of this second system of defence 
would not be half that of the first, and the expense for main- 
tenance would be within our means ; but its efficiency would also 
be proportionately diminished, as so much depends upon obstruc- 
tions which a powerful and ingenious enemy might succeed in 
clearing away. 

I have carefully considered this second system consisting of 
obstructions and batteries to protect them, and I shall now refer 
to it more particularly. 


The best position for booms is necessarily where obstructions 
already exist. The " Sow and Pigs" Shoal leaving two narrow 
channels, one on each side, presents greater facilities for placing 
obstructions than any other position. 

If booms are only floated or laid the whole distance from 
the Sow and Pigs Rock to the shores, large vessels at full speed 
would most likely pass over them by forcing them down; they 
could undoubtedly accomplish this by sending boats over night to 
prepare a gap in the booms by attaching bags of shot or other 
weights to them to diminish their buoyancy, or by blowing them 
partly away with torpedoes. Such booms could not prevent boats 
passing across or over them at night for the purpose of landing 
large bodies of troops within the obstructions for a coup de main 
on our batteries. 

If to remove these objections we make our obstructions in 
the form of dykes, leaving only a small opening in each channel 
for navigation, the scheme becomes more feasible, as it must be 
self-evident that it is easier to boom and to command a narrow 
channel of from 300 to 400 yards than 1700 or 1800 yards, the 
whole distance from shore to shore. Engineers differ in 
opinion with regard to the probable results that dykes con- 
structed across the Sow and Pigs Shoal might produce in Port 
Jackson, and it certainly is a most interesting subject for discus- 
sion. Booming small openings is merely a matter of engineering 
detail ; a plan could be devised for obstructing these channels 
temporarily in time of war. 

Booms would require powerful batteries to protect them, and 
the best positions for these batteries would be at point blank 
ranges from the obstructions. 

George Head and Green Point are preferable to Middle Head 
and Inner South Head for Head-quarters and batteries, for if booms 
are to detain an enemy, it is better to engage vessels at short 
ranges in narrow passages where turning and manoeuvring is 
impossible, and where every one of our shots would tell from our 
knowing by previous target practice the exact range arid elevation 
for every point in the channels, than to engage them partly at 
sea where the costly ammunition of our heavy guns would be 
mostly wasted. It is hardly probable that an enemy would 

BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. >_>.-; 

venture to force a passage under the fire of strong batteries, with 
heavy guns at George Head and Green Point, supported by 
others on Middle Head and Inner South Head. Vessels would be 
raked fore and aft by two batteries in whatever position they should 
occupy, and a rapid and accurate fire from heavy guns would 
soon oblige them to surrender or drive them on the shoal in their 
attempt to retreat. The firing of the enemy could not do much 
damage to strong works constructed at a proper elevation to 
resist shot and shell, whereas the enemy would be exposed to the 
fire of our batteries, from which every shot would tell with 
unerring precision. 

In order to be prepared in case of surprise we ought to have 
two strong batteries within the obstructions, one on Shark Point 
and the other on Bradley Point ; a strong iron fort on the " Sow 
and Pigs" rock, with the heaviest guns procurable, would prove the 
most formidable of all our works, for every shot from these guns 
at such short ranges could sink a vessel. Subsidiary Works on 
Point Piper, Darling Point, and Careening Point would also be 
required, to be furnished with guns from Head-quarters when 
necessary. The lower part of the Harbour below Dawes Point 
must likewise be protected by similar works on Fort Phillip, 
Goat Island, and Long Nose Point. 

The comparative economy of the second system of defence 
was my reason for proposing it to the Select Committee of the 
Legislative Assembly on Harbour Defences. 

The plan I then proposed consists of: 

A Tower, on the " Sow and Pigs" rock, covered with 6-inch 
armour plates, backed with timber and Iron frames, armed with 
one 60(Kpounder Armstrong rifled shunt gun, mounted under a 
cupola (non-revolving), and with two 300-pouncler Armstrong 
rifled shunt guns mounted on traversing platforms and turn-tables ; 
the guns to fire through embrasures. 

Four Dykes partly closing the entrance of the Harbour at the 
" Sow and Pigs" Shoal, and leaving two openings for navigation of 
400 yards each, one in the Western Channel and one in the Eastern. 

Movable booms to be stretched across the channel between 
the dykes, or removed on each side of them when the passages 
are open. 



A Fort on George Head to be used as Head-quarters on the 
North Shore, with secure shot and shell proof barracks for 150 
men, stores and magazine, towards Chowder Bay. The offensive 
and defensive work to consist of one 600-pounder Armstrong rifled 
shunt gun, under a non-revolving cupola, placed on the extreme 
height, the rock being sloped for depression. 

Two 300-pounder Armstrong rifled shunt guns in an iron 
" batterie blindee," about 50 feet below the crest, and four 150- 
pounder Armstrong rifled shunt guns below the last, in four 
connected wells, with iron-plated shields and roofs. All these 
works are to be connected by covered ways and surrounded by a 
ditch and loop-hole wall. 

A Fort on Green Point, consisting of a " batterie blindee " 
for two 150-pounder Armstrong rifled shunt guns, surmounted by 
a cupola (non-revolving) for one 300-pounder Armstrong rifled 
shunt gun. 

Within a bastionette adjoining, on the Watsons Bay side, 
shot and shell proof barracks for 50 men to be constructed so as 
to render this work a secondary head-quarters. 

A " batterie blindee" on Middle Head, situate on the extreme 
height, between the " Hut" and the north point of Middle Head. 
This battery to hold one or two 150-pounders, brought from 
George Head when necessary to engage an enemy. Proper sling 
waggons to be provided. Turn-tables, traversing platforms, and 
gun carriages, to remain in the battery. The guns to be kept 
mounted in this work in war-time only, in charge of a detachment 
from head-quarters on George Head. 

Modifying the unfinished battery on Middle Head, so as to 
mount one or two heavy guns (up to 7 tons) taken there when 
necessary. The details of the works are similar to those for Point 
Piper, explained below. 

A " batterie blindee" on the highest point of South Head, 
between Gap Bluff and the Inner South Head lighthouse. This 
battery to contain one 150-pounder, to be taken there by a detach- 
ment from Green Point in time of war, and in other respects to 
be similar to the "batterie blindee" on Middle Head. 

A " batterie blindee" for two guns on Shark Point, similar 
to that on Inner South Head. 

A " batterie blindee" on Bradley Head for one 300-pounder 

BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 255 

Armstrong rifled shunt gun, and one 150-pounder to be brought 
from George Head when necessary. This battery to be similar 
to the above-mentioned " batteries bliudees." 


Ordnance of the above proposed Works to consist of 

Two 600-pounder Armstrong rifled shunt guns. 

Five 300-pounder ditto ditto 

Twelve 150-pounder ditto ditto 

The 150-pounders only would be movable, and distributed 
over the works as circumstances require. 

A sunken barbette battery on Point Piper, to consist of a well 
for a heavy gun (up to 7 tons), brought there when necessary, 
and two platforms for field pieces. 

All the guns to fire " en barbette," and the heavy piece 
to be mounted on a traversing platform with a double bed, raised 
or lowered at will, to fire over the parapet, by means of hydraulic 
machinery, or Morell's conical screw lift, which will not (like the 
hydraulic lift) require constant attention in time of peace, in order 
to secure its acting when wanted. 

A similar battery on Darling Point to that proposed for Point 

Similar batteries to the last mentioned on Goat Island and 
Long Nose Point. 

A well for a heavy gun at Fort Phillip. 

Modifications of our present batteries, so as to secure their 
efficient co-operation with the proposed scheme. 

The construction of good roads to connect the positions re- 
ferred to. 

Stabling at George Head for twenty-four horses, and at Green 
Point for sixteen horses. Twenty horses to be kept always 
trained to move the heavy guns and ammunition to the different 

Telegraphic communication to be established between the 
head-quarters and Sydney, to avoid delays, and to obtain troops or 
volunteers at the shortest notice ; many accessories to be provided 
to ensure the regular performance of the duties required of our 
troops and volunteers, so as to lighten the hardships they must 


necessarily endure in actual engagement, and afford them security 
when off duty. 

The formation of a corps of Volunteer Engineers, to act in 
connection with the ISTaval Brigade and Volunteer Artillery, to 
throw up earthworks at any place if required, as an additional 
security against the landing of an enemy. 

The erection of a sunken barbette battery at Botany, for 
one heavy gun, and two heavy field guns brought there when re- 


The laws of attack and defence, although modified to meet 
the requirements of improved artillery, remain nearly the same 
for coast defences, for if we have long range guns and more pene- 
trating projectiles, these will be opposed by vessels coated with 
armour plates. 

The question is whether it is necessary for us to oppose iron- 
coated forts to the artillery of an enemy ? 

The ordnance now carried by the vessels of foreign navies 
(of which I shall speak presently) would justify such constructions 
even if the superiority of iron forts to masonry had not been 
admitted by every nation. 

Other considerations also induced me to propose the con- 
struction of iron batteries. I rejected Earthworks on account of 
the thickness of parapet that would be required to resist new 
artillery. The firing through embrasures would be too limited, 
and the accuracy of our opponents' rifled guns would render 
these embrasures mere shell traps. If our guns were mounted 
" en barbette," the direct or ricochetting fire of an enemy would 
soon silence them. 

Sand batteries present nearly the same objections. We are 
aware that the bomb-proof sand works of Fort Wagner, on Morris 
Island, were captured after being breached by rifled artillery at 
ranges of from 1300 yards to 2000 yards. 

Brickwork batteries and towers require too many guns on 
account of the difficulty of obtaining a lateral range for them, 
and the embrasures weaken the walls considerably. Thus Fort 
Sumter, in South Carolina, a brickwork containing 135 guns, 
succumbed to an attack of seven batteries of 8 in., 10 in., and 

BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 257 

100 pounder Parrott rifled guns, with two 80 pounder Whitworths. 
From General GHllmore's Report it appears that a breach 80 
yards long by 12 feet deep was made from August 17th to 
August 23rd, 1863, (six days) by 5009 projectiles thrown from 
the 17 guns forming the 7 batteries, at an average range of 
3881 yards ; not over one half of the projectiles fired struck the 
masonry, and only 1668 helped to form the breach. More than 
two years before, in April, 1861, we find again from the official 
reports of General Gillmore, that Fort Pulaski surrendered in 
less than 48 hours ! This Fort was a pentagonal brickwork case- 
mated on all sides, the walls being 7| feet thick and 25 feet high, 
with one tier of guns in embrasures and one tier " en barbette." 
It contained 48 guns, 20 of which bore on the attacking batteries ; 
these were five 10 in. and five 8 in. Columbiads, four 32 
pounders (smooth bore), one 24 pounder Blakely rifled gun, 
and two 12 in., and three 10 in. sea coast mortars. The 
breaching guns which did the work were four 8 in. and 10 in. 
Columbiads for shot and shell, two 84 pounders, two 64 pounders, 
and one 48 pounder, rifled with flat grooves from old unhooped 
42, 32, and 24 pounders, to fire James' shot and shell, and also 
five 30 pounder Parrott rifled guns. The range from 1650 to 3100 
yards, and the number of shots fired in three half-days 3543. 

The experiments of 1860 and 1861, proved the uselessness 
of masonry to resist the attack of rifled ordnance, and we find 
from the Report of the Ordnance Committee on Breaching experi- 
ments against Martello Towers (dated January 25th, 1861), that 
brick towers 40 feet diameter at top, 46 feet at base, and 36 feet 
high, with a least thickness of 7 feet 3 inches at foot, and 5 feet 
6 inches at the springing of the arches, can be practically 
demolished by very few shots; the 158 Armstrong projectiles, 
which took effect against Tower No. 71, fired from one 80 
pounder, one 40 pounder, and one 7 in. howitzer (Armstrong), 
having removed 2168 cubic feet of masonry at a range of 1032 
yards, or 13.72 cubic feet per shot. 

But the most convincing experiments were made in October, 
1864, in the Bexhill bombardment, to test the comparative 
power of the 70 pounder Armstrong shunt gun, and 70 pounder 
Whit worth. Both the shunt and Whit worth guns passed their 
solid shot through the 7 feet brickwork, and their shells 


penetrated 5 feet in a 9 feet brickwork before bursting. [The 
Shunt gun caused more damage than the Whitworth, on account 
of the larger area of the shot and the greater charge of powder 
contained in the shell.] 

The effect of Artillery against good rubble masonry was 
tested as far back as 1834 at Metz, in France, and it was found 
that at 1094 yards, a 36 Ibs. projectile fired with 12 Ibs. of 
powder produced a mean penetration of 1 8.2 inches. 

As heavy rifled artillery has a proportionately greater effect 
than the old smooth bore guns, it would be unsafe to trust to 
masonry for our batteries, and at least that portion of our works 
likely to be exposed to the fire of heavy rifled ordnance ought to 
be covered with armour plates, and the best section of iron wall 
for us to adopt must be determined by comparing the experiments 
on the different iron targets. 

As a notice of the relative merits of the various targets tested in 
England and other countries would alone suffice to fill a very long 
paper, I shall only mention a few experiments shewing the results 
of the trials of the best targets in connexion with the ordnance 
used against them. I have illustrated many of the target experi- 
ments by drawings on which I have also compiled tables shewing 
the effect produced upon them by the several kinds of ordnance. 

The construction I have suggested for our exposed forts and 
batteries is calculated to offer the greatest amount of resistance 
to heavy shot with the least possible thickness of iron wall. With 
the rigidity of the backing and framing, I combine the resistance 
of solid plates 6 in. thick, and provide the bolts with a peculiar 
compression washer. The external openings of my embrasures, 
are hardly larger than the internal openings, and are to be fitted 
with folding shutters of 6| in. forged plates. 

I provide for any re-inforcements that may be required at 
any position by making my batteries large enough to have a heavy 
gun placed in each embrasure if necessary. The expense of 
plating the exposed sides of a large circular or oval Fort is not 
very considerable, compared with the advantages to be derived 
from being able to use additional guns safely in the batteries. 
The difficulty of procuring heavy rifled guns now, and their great 
cost render such provision necessary ; and if good roads are made 
between the different works, the heaviest guns might be moved 

BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 259 

from one battery to another in a few hours, if needed to dislodge 
an enemy from any position he might occupy. 

The forts on George Head and Green Point and the batteries of 
Middle Head and Inner South Head being fully armed with the 16 
heavy guns I propose for them, could sustain any attack even from 
iron-clads, and probably oblige them to retreat with great loss. 

I propose to mount the guns on traversing platforms and 
turn-tables in order to move them from one embrasure to another 
so as to obtain with each gun as much lateral range as if they 
were mounted " en barbette." I recommend this arrangement 
in preference to revolving cupolas, for with fixed forts, damage 
to the iron walls will not affect the working of the guns, the 
battery may be strengthened with more guns if necessary, firing 
may be kept up in the same direction or on totally different points 
at the same time, and accommodation can be provided for a 
sufficient number of troops to repel the attacks of assaulting 
parties without interfering with the artillerymen at their guns, 
whereas with revolving cupolas, the artillerymen must neglect 
their fire to repulse assailants, and when receiving the fire of 
several vessels from different points simultaneously, they can only 
respond to one at a time, thereby being exposed to have their 
iron wall and machinery so damaged as to render the guns 
almost useless except in the direction of their last shot. The 
expense also of constructing and maintaining revolving cupolas 
with all their machinery is greater than for fixed batteries with 
guns of the same calibre. 

With a complete system of defence, iron forts or batteries would 
be required at every position, but with obstructions in the channels, 
the subsidiary works within the obstructions, intended to receive 
guns only in the event of one or two vessels effecting an entrance 
by surprise, could be masked batteries without armour plates. 

I propose to make these works " barbette batteries" sunken in 
pits, where the guns after firing would be lowered to be re-loaded. 
They would have to be built on the highest point of the position 
to avoid their being taken " en defilade" ; their parapet could be 
of any thickness and surrounded by a small ditch and glacis beyond. 
These works would be entirely masked, the only indication of their 
position to an enemy being the appearance of the guns for one 
or two minutes at a time whilst firing. Their cost would not 


exceed much the expense of the excavations, the alterations to the 
traversing platforms and a few accessories. 

Foreign navies carry much heavier ordnance now than for- 
merly : 

The armament of French ships of war consists principally of 
the 100-pounder " Canons rayes," to which 300-pounder Arm- 
strongs, besides numerous heavy guns cast and built up at the 
Imperial Factories, will be added shortly. French vessels are 
afloat and in course of construction to carry 600-pounder guns. 

The Russians are known to possess in their navy large bore 
and rifled American guns, besides Armstrong and Mackay guns ; 
they have also ordered a large number of steel and other hooped 
guns from Captain Blakely, part of which are already in the ser- 
vice ; they are also beginning to supply their navy with steel guns 
from their new Imperial Factory. They have moreover many 
guns of Krupp's homogeneous steel made purposely for their navy. 
Their order given last year to the Essen Gun Factory consisted 
principally of fifty 9 in., and a large number of 6 in., 8 in., 11 in. 
and 15 inch guns. 

The Americans are known to have in their Navy, guns of 
almost incredible calibre, such as Blakelys up to 900-pounders, 
Parrotts rifled guns from West Point Foundry, Cold Spring, N.Y., 
principally 6.4 in., 8 in., and 10 inch guns used inturretted ships, 
and carrying respectively shots of 100 Ibs., 200 Ibs., and 300 Ibs. 
weight. They have also many Rodman and Dahlgren hollow cast 
iron guns (principally cast at Fort Pitt Works) of 9 in., 10 in., 
11 in., 13 in., 15 in., and 20 inch bore, capable of throwing shot 
and shell from 100 Ibs. to 1000 Ibs. weight. At Fort Pitt alone 
over two thousand cannon have been cast during the late war, 
among which are more than one hundred 15 in. guns now in use 
in their army and navy. 

Almost every nation has some of the guns I have mentioned 
as well as their own new guns. 

I have illustrated and made sections in my drawings of nearly 
all the new naval guns used by England, France, America, Russia, 
and other powers, and it will be remarked after careful examination 
of the sections and official tables of experiments, that the British 
rifled guns, the Armstrongs, up to 600-pounders, have proved 
superior to any of the same calibre. 

BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 261 


More than ten years ago, in 1855, during the Russian war, 
three French floating batteries " Devastation," " Tonnante," and 
" Lave," covered with 4| in. armour plates received the fire of the 
Russian smooth bore guns at Fort Kinburn without injury at the 
ranges of 600 and 700 yards. This success and also the favorable 
results of experiments on 4f inch armour plates at Portsmouth 
and at Vincennes the year before, in 1854, led to the construction 
of heavier and more powerful guns. 

Plated vessels to resist this new ordnance were begun in 
France and every naval power followed her example. Thus 
within the last six years the building of wooden ships of war may 
be said to have been discontinued and only iron-clads built. 

In 1862 the " JSTormandie " an iron-clad of 36 100-pounder 
rifled guns, and 5800 tons burden, carrying 840 tons of armour 
plates on her sides, crossed the ocean, going from France to Mexico. 
We have since heard of the cruise of the French iron -clad squadron, 
in 1863, and of the Russian iron-clad squadron in 1864, and more 
recently of the contemplated cruise of the combined squadron of 
English and French armour-plated vessels. 

It is a well-known fact that the proportion of the American 
iron-clads to British is as 6 to 1 in regard to number, and that 
their new Monitors and turretted ships were designed with the 
view of being rendered sea-worthy by raising their sides with 
ordinary plates, so as to fit them for crossing the ocean. [It is 
not probable, however, that these vessels would come to Australia.] 

The necessity of having good sea going armour plated vessels 
with small draught of water, has long been felt, and new vessels 
are specially designed for this object, such as the " Lord Warden" 
and "Lord Clyde" in England, and the "Valeureuse" and 
" Magicienne" in France, which carry a sufficient thickness of 
armour plate to enable them to resist the penetration of the 
heaviest shots at ordinary ranges. 

Improvements in plating vessels of war may soon enable 
them to put on their armour at will, and to store it away partly 
for distant voyages. Thus, within a few years, a squadron visiting 
this port may apparently consist of wooden ships, yet turn out 
afterwards to be sufficiently plated to resist the penetration of 
shell, even at short ranges. 


The possibility of disabling even ordinary steamers moving 
at ordinary speed is not to be relied on with only a small number 
of guns and men. Major Owen in his " Essay on the Motion of 
Projectiles," says : "As a steam vessel can constantly change her 
position and move very rapidly, it is often extremely difficult when 
tiring from a land battery, even to hit her, except when she is 
obliged to advance in a certain direction or has arrived within a 
very short range." He remarks upon the difficulty of judging 
distances for laying a gun upon an object at a long range, from 
the difficulty of observing the effect of the fire and the disturbing 
influence of the wind, and recommends that " the ranges over 
the water in front of the battery should be known to the gunners 
in the battery." 

General Taylor, Inspector of Artillery, and late Commandant 
at Shoeburyness, has also remarked : " It holds to the common 
sense opinion that permanent fortifications to be effective at the 
proper moment must be held by men who know exactly where 
every shot will fall." 

If it be assumed that one or two experimental shots fired at 
a vessel will determine the range, can the argument be sustained 
for Port Jackson where every shot will have to be experimental 
as the range will vary every moment with the motion of the 
steamer ? Besides, it is on record that floating targets at long 
ranges and also at comparatively short ones are not often hit with 
the shots of the best rifled guns, even by the most practiced gun- 
ners at Shoeburyness. 

These few remarks shew the great importance of target 
practice at every one of our batteries and the necessity of having 
guns fit to do the required work accurately at long or short ranges. 

I subjoin an official table of the comparative amount of work 
done at 1000 yards by the smooth bore GH-pounder gun (95 cwt.) 
and by the 150-pounder rifled gun, where it is seen that the 
150-pounder gun can do 5.24 times the same work as the 
68-pounder with only 2| times the same charge of powder, and 
2 times the weight of shot, or the former will do 2 \ times more 
work at 1000 yards than the 68-pounder will do at 200 yards. 
If the 150-pounder is made the same bore as the 68-pounder 
(8 in.), it is also found that the rifled gun has greater accuracy 
than the smooth bore with spherical projectiles. 



The greater point blank range of rifled guns over the smooth 
bore is well known, and I have given only a few tables of ranges 
and deviations of the heaviest guns up to 600 pounders. 

At sea, vessels will fight at the distance their guns will 
cany ; but in our Defences we must use rifled guns, because we 
must have power and accuracy in order to reach the enemy. 

I have calculated the strength of the iron walls of the forts 
and batteries I proposed in my plan of defence, considering 
weight and cost, to give the greatest resisting power obtainable 
against racking or punching projectiles, whether ponderous shots 
fired at a low velocity or rifled bolts fired with the highest 
possible velocity, so as to distribute their effects over the whole 
structure. The same calculations are made in designing iron-clad 
vessels, so that our superiority over an enemy must depend 
chiefly on the power of our guns to do the work required of them, 
at from 1000 to 4000 yards. The short time vessels may be 
exposed to the fire of our batteries renders it necessary to have 
guns that will send their shot through armour plates, otherwise 
we should require more guns and men than we can procure for 
the purpose of racking vessels, and perhaps we should not have 
the chance of shattering their sides with shells afterwards. 

Commander Scott, R.N., says in a paper he read before the 
Royal United Service Institution, in June 1863, " The size of the 
gun is of vast importance, more than is generally assigned to it, 
and for this reason, 20 guns, each a one-pounder, are fired at a 
target of Iron 1J in. thick, and produce no effect. One gun, a 
20 pounder, is fired and smashes it. The velocity in both 
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BY G. A. MORELL, ESQ., C.E. 265 

Comparing the number of men required in each case we have 
for the rifled guns 

T\vo 600-pounders 40 men 

Five 300 ditto 80 

Twelve 150 ditto 120 

Total ... 240 men 

And for the one hundred and forty (140) 68-pounders we shall 
have to employ 1120 men, even by reducing the detachment for 
each piece from 10 to 8 men. 

It must be remarked also that beyond 1000 yards this equiva- 
lent number of 68-pounder guns would be useless with solid shot, 
whereas the rifled guns could still send their shells through 

The cost of maintaining 1120 efficient artillerymen instead 
of 240 would be more than four times as great, and supposing 
that half of the 1120 men were volunteers, a saving of more than 
20,000 annually would still be made in troops alone, by using 
heavy rifled guns instead of the ordinary smooth bore. 

The weight of shot used with these rifled guns is not more 
than one-half of that used with the 68-pounders to do the same 
work, and not over one -fourth of the quantity of powder is re- 
quired. The expense of a general discharge of one round with 
the rifled guns is less than half the cost of the same discharge 
with the 68-pounders, 

The original outlay, taking into consideration the cost of 
ammunition per piece, would also be considerably less for rifled 

I do not wish to say that 68-pounder guns are useless, on the 
contrary, I admit that at 200 or 300 yards they are very formid- 
able, particularly if in large number, but they would not answer 
for long range guns (2000 yards or more for instance) against 
ships protected with some kind of armour. 

One 68-pounder from our highest work would probably fire 
more than 100 rounds before sending one shot through the deck 
of a moving vessel, for according to the latest experiments, the 
best rifled guns would at 2000 yards have a mean difference of 
range of 30 yards for every five rounds. 


I do not wish to enter into a dissertation upon the merits of 
the different rifled guns ; it would be impossible in this paper to 
treat of the best materials to be employed in their manufacture, 
of the best method of rifling, or of all the details of their con- 
struction. I have illustrated the rifling and projectiles of the 
different heavy guns that have attracted public attention. 
Armstrong built up guns have not yet been surpassed ; their 
safety against bursting and the improvement recently introduced 
in their rifling and projectiles, their accuracy and endurance, and 
their perfect adaptability to fire spherical shot as well as cylin- 
drical bolts with or without studs recommend them for casemate 
guns. The shunt rifling is also better than any other except 
Scott's rifling. The principle of both is the same, and if Scott's 
rifling should prove the best, the Armstrong guns could be rifled 
with the Scott groove. There would be no difficulty in doing so, 
as the Ordnance Factories in their circulars require particularly 
" that the form of rifling and the number of grooves should be 
specified." The Armstrong rifled guns could be re-tubed at any 
time when the grooves are worn out, and any ne\y rifling that 
may have been found superior can then be introduced. 

Having to depend principally upon the Royal Artillery for 
working our guns, it is better to place the Armstrong in their 
hands than a strange weapon not adopted in the service. 

I cannot help expressing my admiration of the Whitworth 
homogeneous iron guns, and particularly of the Mackay steel 
guns, but neither the Hexagonal bore nor the Windage Adaptation 
Ordnance have been proved to offer greater advantages than the 

The expense of carrying out a complete system of defence 
probably guided the Select Committee on Harbour Defences in 
their recommendation of few heavy guns and their selection of 
68-pounder cast iron guns. They wished probably to provide for 
the immediate defence of Port Jackson, but it is doubtful whether 
the 68-pounders would silence the guns of an iron-plated frigate. 
It is easy to foresee that if the armaments of foreign powers be 
not reduced, small armour-plated vessels with heavy guns will 
soon be sent to foreign stations. 

On the Transmutation of Rocks in Australasia. 
By the REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., E.G.S., F.R.G.S., &c. 

[Read 10th May, 1865.] 

BEFORE the particular examples which it is one object of the 
following remarks to illustrate, are introduced to the notice of 
the Society, it may be advisable to preface them by a brief 
general consideration of the doctrine of Transmutation, or, as it 
is otherwise called, the Metamorphism of rocks. 

It is not my intention to enter at any great length upon it ; 
but the subject is of such great importance and interest to 
geologists, that a more close and careful inquiry might well 
engage our attention. It has been treated of by at least one 
hundred authors of eminence, and their works, either in memoirs 
and addresses, or in volumes of considerable size, are in them- 
selves a library. It will be understood from this, that it would 
be difficult to condense their remarks into any applicable compact 
abstract. Nor have I the intention of doing so. I shall, how- 
ever, refer to several of them in the course of this memoir, and 
borrow from them only what is absolutely indispensable. Yet, I 
am anxious to guard my own conclusions by such coincidences as 
may be appropriate ; though it is no part of my intention to 
enter deeply into any questions raised by their discussions. As I 
speak in the presence of chemical and metallurgical analysts, 
whatever bears upon their peculiar province will, no doubt, 
attract sufficient attention to invite elucidation, if any difficulty 
is presented within the range of their researches, and if my own 
explanation of certain phenomena known to them as well as to 
myself be not satisfactory, I shall be very grateful should they 
take up the question where I may leave it, and treat it more to 
the purpose. Professor Smith, Mr. Hunt and Mr. Miller of the 


Mint, Mr. Stephens and Mr. Krefft, have all at some time or 
other studied on the spot the examples I propose to dwell on from 
our own vicinity. 

I must not, however, confine myself to them alone, for if they 
are to be explained, it can only be by comparison with other 
instances of like kind in other countries. 

The terms Transmutation and Transmuted are equivalents of 
Metamorphism and Metamorphic ; but I incline to the Latin 
rather than to the Greek derivatives, because it seems to me they 
are more expressive of what is intended. They occur very often 
in geological treatises, and one class of ancient formations is 
especially called " metamorphic," because they are exposed over 
wide areas, and exhibit everywhere the evidence of the trans- 
mutations they have undergone in deep recesses of the earth's 
surface before they were brought up and visibly exposed. It is 
not of these formations that I propose to treat, except in a passing 
way, on this occasion. But on other instances of change induced 
in rocks of other formations under circumstances and conditions 
which appear explanatory of the causes of change, I may dwell 

It may seem a strange thing to some, to have it propounded 
that there is nothing really stable in the solid structure of the 
earth's surface. 

Observation shows that in rocks of all ages there have been 
external and internal changes, either of composition or of texture, 
which must have gone on in some of them from the beginning, 
and, therefore, it is reasonable to infer in all ; and these changes 
can also be proved in some instances to be now in progress. I 
am not speaking of rocks in the act of formation, though Trans- 
mutation may be contemporaneous with deposits from the very 
first ; but I assume that the deposits have taken place, and that 
the transmutations of them have been of subsequent date. 

It has been observed in numerous localities that at the contact 
of two rock formations, both of them have undergone a change of 
material or of composition or of texture. This is most frequently 
the case where one formation belongs to sedimentary or aqueous 
rocks, and the other to what are called igneous. 

In some instances, the alteration seems to be induced by what 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 269 

Daubree calls imbibition, i.e., when a rock is in a condition to be 
compared with a sponge, so that mineralised salts or fluids can 
permeate it. Other changes take place by the more direct 
agency of chemical, galvanic, electric, or other mysterious forces, 
among which heat plays an important part, but not to the extent 
which is generally imagined. Pressure also acts powerfully 
and entirely alters the condition of rocks. It is not surprising 
that hasty observations should have led some geologists to 
attribute effects to heat, which we may see, perhaps, by and 
by, it is hardly capable of effecting alone. Thus trappean 
rocks have oftentimes been charged with causing great eleva- 
tions and disruptions when they have been incapable of pro- 
ducing any such effects, so far as inquiry shows them to have 
merely flowed through fissures caused by other agency, and to 
have produced effects somewhat different from those attributed 
to them. 

When two masses of different kinds of rock, or of different 
composition, structure, origin and age, are in contact, there is 
often noticed a mutual change near the planes of contact ; this 
transmutation Delesse calls normal metamorphism. When these 
changes are evidently traceable to adventitious causes, such as 
irruptions of heated matter, the transmutations are denominated 
special or abnormal. In one or other of these ways large masses 
of strata are changed; and although the ancient slates and 
associated rocks known as metamorphic, betray a transmutation 
on the largest scale, the phenomena of such change are widely 
apparent in the Tertiary, Cretaceous, and Jurassic formations of 
the Pyrenees, the Alps, the Carpathians, Turkey, the Caucasus, 
Armenia, and Himalaya ; and, what is remarkable, in the 
greater mountain chains the transmutations are more striking 
than in the smaller ranges of the same age, as is evidenced in the 
Hartz, Wurtemburg, the Jura, Aragon, New Castille, and in 
other mountains where the natural features are on a smaller 
scale. D'Archiac shrewdly points out that these variations are 
not necessarily due to the presence of igneous rocks, because 
transmutation has gone on in the greater chains oftentimes far 
from such igneous matter. 

It appears, nevertheless, certain that where transmutation 


has occurred, there has been a contact of the changed with the 
transmuting agent. 

Naturally it will occur to the mind, that in order to determine 
accurately how such transmutations have taken place, we require 
a careful analysis of the rocks for some distance beyond the planes 
of alteration, with a distinct understanding of the way in which 
physical forces of determinate character act upon materials of the 
kinds in question, whether considered under a mere mineral or a 
metallurgical aspect. 

Some facts are so constant under certain conditions that they 
may be considered as established. If, for instance, an eruptive 
rock is in contact with a sedimentary rock, both will be changed. 
And Fournet calls that of the former exomorpliism, and of the 
other endomorphism. 

As these are the most commonly observed, and as they apply 
to the examples from this neighbourhood, it may be as well to 
dwell particularly on such as are abnormal, or special kinds of 
transmutation ; and we may confine ourselves chiefly to the 
endomorphic or transmuted sedimentary rocks. But all in due 

Generally, igneous rocks of different characters produce 
different kinds of transmutation ; and deposits of calcareous, 
aluminous, or siliceous composition, will, of course, be affected 
differently by the same kind of transmuting agent. 

Thus it is found that granitic rocks, trappean rocks, and 
lavas, all produce varying changes when in contact with rocks of 
the same name. 

I propose not to dwell upon rocks of great antiquity. But I 
may mention one remarkable fact in Victoria which I noticed, 
in company with Messrs. Selwyn and Aplin, where the granite of 
Mount Alexander is in contact with the gold-bearing, quartzi- 
ferous, Silurian schists of Specimen Grully, near Castlemaine. 

Not only do all the quartz lodes cease as lodes at the contact 
with the granite, proving the probable fact that the granite is 
younger than the slates ; but at the junction there are numerous 
striking variations in the slates themselves, together with the 
occurrence of small amounts of minerals and metals. 

. Iron is often in this way discovered in abundance, as in the 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, U.A., F.G.S., 271 

Isle of Elba, where that rich habitat of iron is in close proximity 
with granite, and in this colony about the Dromedary Mountain 
and from it to Maneroo. 

In contact with granite rocks, coal is often converted into 
Anthracite and Graphite. 

In New South Wales I have often found Pegmatite or 
graphic granite at the points of intrusion of ordinary granite, 
and in some instances corroded. In certain cases in some 
countries, corroded pegmatites are very metalliferous. Again, 
granites are frequently found in a decomposing state, called 
rotten granite. In such cases the rotten granite is traversed 
oftentimes by porphyritic elvans or by quartz veins. Such may 
be seen on the descent from Bowenfells to the river Cox, on the 
Bat hurst line ; it is an instance of transmutation effected, 
perhaps, by silicated vapours which have resulted in quartz 
veins : and it was in one of those very spots I first found Austra- 
lian gold in 1841. 

I must anticipate here the mention of a fact connected with 
granite, which is curious, that rock which is enveloped in or 
entangled with granite, is very seldom if ever prismatised or 
altered into columns the columnar structure being extremely 
common in rocks that are in contact with trap. The conclusion 
to be drawn from such a fact is, that the granite could not be as 
hot as the trap, and therefore the plasticity of granite is not due 
to simple fusion. 

On the other hand, where granite has been itself enveloped in 
igneous matter lava for instance, it undergoes a change. 

Witness this specimen from an extinct volcano in Auvergne. 

Granite produces a singular change on certain arenaceous 
rocks, as in this fragment broken off at the junction of a granitic 
intrusion with " green sand." It is silicified. 

Silicincation is a very common product of the contact of 
granite with calcareous rocks. Limestones thus affected exhibit 
their fossils frequently silicified, and the unsilicified limestone is 
changed to a saccharoidal marble, the colours passing away, and 
the marble becoming white. 

Occasionally, however, similar changes in limestone have 
been produced without contact with granite ; and the transmn- 


tation is to be attributed to slowly acting molecular and galvanic 
forces, or to lateral pressure and contact of beds. 

The soft chalk of the Isle of Wight and Ballard Down, near 
Poole, in Dorsetshire, has thus been converted into a hard lime- 
stone close to the fault which traverses that range of country, 
and near to which upheaval has taken place. 

These specimens I collected from Ballard Head in 1835. 
There is no granite or other igneous rock within many miles of 
that vicinity. 

One of the most remarkable changes I have ever noticed in 
the neighbourhood of granite, occurs a little south of Bathurst in 
this colony. 

At what is called the Great Western Copper Mine, some of 
the slates are converted into Mica schist and Griesen ; and lime- 
stones associated with them are changed into white saccharoidal 
marble, whilst in the slates Tremolite in layers and sulphuret of 
copper with lead abound. 

So completely is the original structure masked in some of the 
beds, that I was taken to what was called a limekiln, a con- 
siderable distance from the marble. A good deal of whitish 
granular rock had been collected and had been subjected to fire, 
but in vain, and this whitish granular rock turned out to be 
Griesen. It was, nevertheless, an altered rock, and I believe 
altered by granite. Near Bathurst the granite is frequently 
found decomposed with elvans passing through the decomposed 

In another part of the country, full ninety miles west of 
Bathurst, the granite of the Sappa Bulgas, or Harvey's Range, 
has converted ordinary sandstone, very much of the age of our 
rocks near Sydney, into a vitrified rock such as is here exhibited. 
The same granite has, further to the west, converted slate into 
pitchstone and jasper. 

In some countries garnet is a common product of granitic 
transmutation, and in New Zealand and New Caledonia garnet 
rock is of common occurrence in the districts where great 
physical forces have been in operation. The specimen before 
us is from the north part of the latter island. 

On the eastern flank of the great Maneroo plateau I noticed 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 273 

epidote as a very common mineral under similar circumstances 
of transmutation. Epidote is included by Delesse in the same 
division of minerals formed in rocks by transformation, as garnet. 
Most of these minerals when found in calcareous rocks, have 
been silicated. Chiastolite also occurs in slates over granite on 
Jejedzric Hill in Maneero. 

When sandstones come in contact with granite rocks, they 
are frequently converted into quartzite, producing metallisation, 
silicification and vitrification. A true quartzite may according 
to Delesse always be distinguished by the occurrence in it of mica. 

It can scarcely be doubted that the silica has often been ad- 
ministered by silicated waters or springs, under the action of 
transmutation by Imbibition which has gradually produced the 
observed changes. 

In some instances these springs may be almost proved to 
have been poured forth on the ancient sea margins ; for, in 
certain places a number of marine shells that belong to shallow 
water, have been found silicified wholly or in part, as is noticeable 
in some of the Jurassic formations, but notwithstanding this, no 
one, it seems, has found a silicified Ammonite ; though occasion- 
ally Ammonites and Belemnites occur unsilicified amidst silicified 
shells. The explanation is, that the Cephalopods being inhabi- 
tants of deep water were not exposed to the influence of the silica 
so freely administered near the shore ; and after mineralisation in 
another way, may have drifted to the shallower depths. Perhaps, 
however, some fossils have been silicified under a more perfect 
power of assimilation than others : for, in various Spirifers I have 
found what must have been a tendency to resist or to accept sili- 
cification in some parts of their organization more than in others. 
Thus, frequently the spiral appendages have been silicified, whilst 
the rest of the animal was transmuted by calcareous agency. 

Respecting Granite itself, it appears to undergo a transmuting 
action. I am one of those who deny the occurrence of what is 
termed primitive granite. If such exists, I believe no human eye 
ever beheld it. The researches of Yirlet and Scherer demon- 
strate, that the crystalline structure of certain granites surpasses 
altogether the limits of granite, i. e. the facts which belong to the 
different materials are such as frequently to contradict all con- 


ceivablc notions of such a rock having been formed simply by 
igneous fusion, and that, therefore, water must have been an 
agent of considerable importance. 

About nineteen or twenty years ago a controversy took place 
between some continental geologists as to the origin of the beau- 
tiful marbles of Italy. Near the Lake of Como exist certain 
rocks that have been denominated Gneiss, and this has been 
adduced as a proof that such gneiss and the marbles also, are the 
result of the transmuting power of granite. Now, in the Italian 
peninsula, no sedimentary formations are known to exist of older 
epochs than those of the Jurassic and Cretaceous and Upper 

M. Boubee asserted that older rocks did exist concealed 
under the deposits named, and that M. de Collegno and others 
who took the same view as he did were wrong. He maintained 
that heat could not permeate so as to change by igneous trans- 
mutation any rock thicken than 6 or 7 feet ; and that, therefore, 
masses from 100 to 1000 feet thick could not be so changed. 
He concluded, then, that the Jurassic limestones (which belong 
to the same category as those of Greece), were altered by slowly- 
acting, long-continued, electric and chemical molecular forces. 
But I must say, that M. Boubee does admit occasional examples 
of transmutation by heat alone, and that is, I presume, all that 
the advocates of that doctrine require. They do not, and they 
cannot ignore other agencies. 

The fact that the impressions of fossil plants occur often in 
highly silicified beds, proves that a change by imbibition of silica 
may occur, set free by heated waters or vapour. 

No one could pretend that any plant could leave a cast in 
such hardened rock as this in which a cast of a Lepidodendron 
from Sofala appears, or of this in altered shale from Canooiia. 
It is absurd to suppose that the silicated rock was in a plastic 
state when the plant became enveloped in it. 

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that lime, iron, and 
other rnetals have occasionally made their appearance in veins by 
direct igneous emanations impregnating and coating solid rocks 
of other kinds. And the only source that can be supposed for 
silica so developed is from granitic rock. Silicated water at a 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 

temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, is, I believe, quite capable 
of producing, in time, much of the changes observed. 

The more direct agency of heat will be dealt with when we 
enter upon the subject of Trappean Transmutations. 

It must, however, be borne in mind, that although siliceous 
rocks in contact with granite are transmuted, it is not always so. 

The influence in all cases must be in proportion to proximity ; 
and there are instances in which granite does not appear to be the 
direct cause at all, for it is of a totally different origin since it 
occurs sometimes where no granite exists. 

In the case of our great Hawkesbury rocks, so common about 
and under Sydney, the ground may be seen full of bright 
sparkling crystalline particles, which it is difficult to understand 
as belonging to a sandstone formed by drift and deposition alone, 
unless we suppose, what is probably the case, that the original gran- 
itic and quartz detritus, of which much of the rock is composed, 
has, since its formation, undergone a transmutation which has 
produced the crystalline particles and facets that stud the whole 
of the gtrata, and betray no kind of abrasion whatever. They 
may have been formed by secretion from a silicified menstruum in 
which the deposits took place. 

I have washed away by water and acid the coloured and 
cementing matter of most of our sandstones, and also of the red 
sands of the interior desert, and have then found when under the 
microscope, that the particles are generally only crystallised in 
part, seldom assuming more than a rude resemblance to hexagonal 
crystals, except where they have formed as druses in small 

Whilst alluding to this change, I may mention, that, although 
quartz veins have certainly resulted from intrusion of silica into 
fissures, frequently veins of quartz in quartzite and other silicated 
rocks are the product of secretion from the rock itself, the quartz 
having filled up cracks produced after the rock was formed. 
Australia abounds with examples. Here is one from N.W. 
Australia, Brecknock Harbour. 

Mr. Sorby has examined the crystals of quartz and other 
constituents of granite, and has discovered in them the presence 
of visible water sometimes in cavities otherwise filled with air. 


Taking this fact in common with the different degrees of 
fusibility of quartz, mica, and felspar, which are the elements of 
normal granite, it is quite clear that igneous fusion alone cannot 
have been concerned. 

The fusion point of Silica may be taken at 2800 C. (or 5072 
F.). According to Fournet, quartz in a state effusion may cool 
down from 1300 to 1800 (i. e., from 2171 to 3292 F.) below its 
fusion point, without consolidation. The other minerals fuse at a 
much lower temperature than quartz, and yet, if you examine 
granite, you will perceive that quartz very often occurs enveloped 
in felspar and mica also ; how is this fact to be understood, if no 
change has taken place in the granitic mass since its formation ? 
The granite must originally have been in a very different con- 
dition from a single mass merely fused by igneous action ; and if 
we admit this and other considerations which we cannot now 
stay to speak of, then it follows, that whether or not the granite 
has undergone in itself any transmutation, it is highly probable 
that the chemical and mineralogical action and the presence of 
vapours would certainly influence any mass of sedimentar^aaatter 
in contact with it, and, therefore be a source of what we have 
seen called exomorphism, altering, where the vapours and heat 
and mineral matters have had fair play, the surfaces at least of 
the external substances. And we shall see how hydrated 
agencies could exist if we recollect what has been demonstrated, 
that there must have been originally from 1 to 50 per cent, of 
water in granite. 

It is well known that the vapour of water under pressure at 
a high temperature is capable of dissolving silica, and, therefore, 
granite, under the influences stated, may silicify a rock capable 
of receiving the change, or of producing even veins of quartz in 
fissures ; and thus we may explain many of the phenomena with 
which we are familiar, and which are exhibited where sedimentary 
rocks are in contact with granite, as in the instances illustrated 
by specimens, and cited from this colony. 

In the same way argillaceous rocks become silicated into 
siliceous slates and some kinds of gneiss. And thus we have by 
the presence of water in plastic or heated granite, a true origin 
for many of the phenomena we designate Transmuted or Meta- 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 277 

morphic. We learn, also, in this way, how certain granites 
themselves, which are really schistose in structure, and might be 
even termed stratified, have resulted from the transmutation of 
ordinary schists. 

Such I have described, in one of my reports to the Govern- 
ment, as having been met with by me in the neighbourhood of 
the Murrumbidgee River. 

I have already mentioned the alterations which shales and 
sandstones have undergone in connection with the granite mass 
of the Sappa Bulgas or Harvey's Range, west of Molong. 

Now, I have ascertained from inquiry and examination of the 
rocks, that all along the western frontier of New South Wales, 
as on the Darling River, and between it and the Barcoo, there is 
an enormous development of silicified and vitrified sandstones. 

As the phenomena extend over so vast an area, it can hardly 
be attributed to anything short of a normal transmutation ; and, 
therefore, in all probability ifc may be to the action of granite 
rather than of any real trappean rocks. There is, I think I may 
safely say, no range of any considerable elevation or extent in the 
low region along the Darling, which does not betray the clearest 
proof of transmutation. And in some parts of the country, far 
beyond, near the Lower Barcoo (or Cooper's Creek), Mr. A. C. 
Gregory found the rocks altered in a remarkable degree. 

The late Sir T. L. Mitchell made a similar observation, but 
he merely mentions the fact without attempting to account 
for it. Both he and Captain Sturt were struck by the poly- 
gonal forms and hardened nature of many loose fragments on the 
summits of the groups of hills, such as D'Urban's, Dunlop's, 
Greenough's, &c. In the hills which lie along the river 
channels of the Narran and Bokara, 150 miles further north, 
pebbles of such transmuted rocks occur in abundance. The 
collection here present was made from the ridges of that 
neighbourhood near Curawallinghi, on the Ballandoon River. 
The conclusion from them must be, that great denudation, of 
which these are the spoils, has taken place, and that formerly the 
insulated groups of hills were connected in one grand plateau, 
the less hardened masses having been removed. 

As we pass onwards to the Balonne and along the Maranoa, 


in Queensland, similar phenomena are presented ; but in some 
instances the alteration there may have been due to trappean 
rather than to granitic rocks, as in the case of the flanks of Red 
Cap and other hills on the Cogoon. 

No mention has yet been made of Porphyry or other varieties 
of granite rocks ; but it may be concisely stated that there are in- 
stances of slate rocks converted to porphyry, of porphyry passing 
to granite, and of porphyry which has undergone a crystalline 
tendency. Here is a rude octohedron of porphyry from near 
Harvey's Range. At Port Stephens I visited a Cone Hill, on 
the summit of which there is a most remarkable assemblage of 
prismatic columns, of almost equal interest with those described 
by Humboldt as occurring in the Andes. 

Many of the Porphyries in New South Wales, where they 
have been silicated, exhibit beautiful double hexahedral prisms, a 
variety, no doubt, due to transmutation, and which is generally 
considered to belong to the Devonian epoch of Europe. Such 
porphyry occurs on the Hunter, and at Arthursleigh, near the 
Wollondilly, in Argyle. 

It would take up too much time to dwell on the jasperised 
rocks, which are another result of granitic transmutation. I can 
only say that they are extremely common in parts of this colony, 
and also in the northern part of New Holland generally, I have 
examined huge examples of this change not far from the granite 
of the Peel River and Hanging Rock districts ; and I have little 
doubt that the jaspers so common in certain beds of our coal- 
fields have been derived from the destruction and abrasion, and 
driftings and deposition of the fractured rocks of an earlier age, 
allied to that to which the example above quoted clearly belongs. 

Here, again, we are on the limits of equal change produced 
by Granite and Trap. 

The trappean rocks include basalt, dolerite, greenstone, 
diorite, and various others, in which the felspar is hydrated and 
allied to lime felspar. In the granitic rocks, the felspar is an 
orfchoclase or potash felspar. 

Trap rocks are assumed to have been formed under water, and 
to have been subjected to great pressure ; but when they come 
near to day, they become vesicular, puffing off their steam or 

BY THE EEY. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 279 

associated gaseous vapours, as bread does in an oven, and so 
becoming in a subaerial position very like some lavas. Filtration, 
secretion, or other allied operations, fill the cavities afterwards 
with minerals which are observed not to be confused, but to be 
deposited one over another. In this state they become what is 
called amygdaloidal. 

Much of such cellular basaltic lava distinguishes the trappean 
overflows in Victoria ; and it is also common in parts of New 
South Wales. It certainly forms the youngest basalt of the 
gold-fields. Indeed, so recent is it that grasses, reeds and other 
vegetables are found under the basalt scarcely altered, only 
scorched and not burned. How is this to be accounted for, if 
the transmutations by basalt are really effected by intense heat ? 
In all probability the traps act frequently like granite ; but there 
are differences also. 

The most striking instances of the slightly changed character 
of vegetable matter in contact with trap are to be found near 
Daylesford, in Victoria, where leaves and plants only partly 
altered, or mineralised in sulphuret of iron, are embedded in fissile 
clay beneath the basalt, and when examined present in fact 
almost a recent appearance. Whatever may have been the actual 
cause of such change, it is impossible to believe that the basalt was 
at fusion heat, when it overflowed. At Wentworth Gold Field, 
New South Wales, similar facts are noticed. 

In this colony, the presence of trap and basalt has produced 
numerous and greater changes at the contact with coal beds and 
with calcareous and silicated formations. The instances are too 
numerous to be quoted on this occasion. But all must not be 
passed over. 

In order to deal with the coal beds, we have first to consider 
what are the actual effects of heat on combustible substances. 

The effects in the laboratory are well known to Professor 
Smith and other gentlemen present ; and the artificial manu- 
facture of coke is known to produce results which imitate the 
phenomena observed in nature. 

Combustibles may be classed as turf, lignite, bituminous coal, 
and anthracite or stone coal. These form a series which 
advances to graphite or plumbago commonly called black lead. 


Now, in order to ascertain under what temperatures such 
substances become transmuted, M. Delesse employed M. 
Jacequelaine to subject them to distillation, and from the notes 
made by the latter (which I will abridge) we shall see how trans- 
mutation may be produced at a lower temperature than is 
generally believed. We find, then, the following results : 

Turf threw off its odour at from 220 to 230 C., and distilled 
at 260, = 516 F. 

Lignite became empyreumatic at 220, and distilled at from 
260 to 285. 

Coal from St. Etienne threw off its odour at 150, that from 
Dresden at 205, and English coal at 295, distilling at 400, 
which was also the point of distillation of Swansea anthracite, 
though it became odorous at 310. 

We may therefore take the point of distillation of bituminous 
matters in such combustibles as, respectively, 260, 300, and 
400 = 752 F. This is far below red heat. 

Now, taking the scale of temperature of the earth at 1 F. for 
fifty feet vertical, the above temperature will correspond to a little 
more than seven English miles, so that a basalt or trap coming 
up from that depth would be sufficiently hot to convert coal into 
coke. And inasmuch as at a little more than a quarter of the 
temperature mentioned, or about 212 Fahrenheit, the water in 
the combustible would pass off, it is certain that a basaltic outburst 
coming from a depth of little more than two miles would be quite 
sufficient to produce considerable change. 

M. Jacequelaine says that other processes besides that of heat 
can volatilise combustibles. 

Thus heated alkaline solutions percolating to a great depth 
may dissolve the bitumen and increase the proportion of carbon, 
and so we have one explanation of the cause why the deepest 
and oldest coals are richest in carbon ; and we may also thus 
understand why dissolution and not dry distillation may be sup- 
posed capable of producing the change from lignite to graphite. 

Whilst on this topic it is only natural to express an opinion 
on the occurrence of the Mineral Oil so abundant in America, and 
in various parts of Europe and Asia. 

That it maj originate in a natural distillation of combustible 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 281 

matter there can be no doubt. And some geologists have 
ventured on the haphazard conclusion, that it will be found under 
almost all large areas of bog or turf. We already know, that the 
bogs of Ireland have supplied materials for candles, and there are 
minerals also in New South Wales, such as Bog-butter, which 
have resulted from decomposition of vegetable matter in peat. 

A mineral of this kind, belonging to the waxy and resinous 
species, I showed some time ago to Professor Smith. It came 
from the neighbourhood of Twofold Bay. A mineral of a like 
character has more recently been discovered at Wettin, in 
Germany, in the Royal Coal Mine, in association with much rock 

In the volume for 1863 of "Good Words," a very useful 
periodical edited by Dr. Macleod, there is an excellent paper by 
Professor G. Rogers, of Glasgow, on Coal and Petroleum ; in it 
he supposes the rock oil to be produced by coal seams affected by 
pressure and internal heat, the lowest coals nearest the igneous 
source being converted into anthracite. He thinks the distillation 
has caused the oil to accumulate in deep fissures and subterranean 
reservoirs below the coal formation, and even as low as the 
Silurian rocks, and that it is poured out from those reservoirs 
by the same mode of action as produces Artesian springs. 

Another author has supposed it to be an exudation from coral 
reefs, a proposition which originated in a mistake and which 
requires little refutation. A French geologist of eminence to 
whom I have already alluded M. Virlet d'Aoust arguing 
against another opinion (that, because some of the oils have a 
peculiar character they are allied to animal matter, which appears 
to be the case with oil distilled from the Cannel coal under 
Mount York, in New South Wales), has put before us some facts 
which cannot be set aside by mere conjecture.* He even contro- 
verts the idea of an origin in coal, which two distinguished 
chemists of Germany, Messrs. Turner and Reichenbach, have held 

* Nevertheless, we must not overlook what Sir R. I. Murchison says in 
his " Siluria " (3rd ed. pp. 282-3 and 560-1) of fossil-fish-bearing beds pro- 
ducing bitumen at Caithness, and of the fish-bearing beds of the High Alps 
from which oil has been distilled. See, also, his paper in Proc. Geol. Soc. I. 
139. [3rd April, 1829.] 


in common with Prof. Rogers, and declares that if coal is the 
sole origin of the oil (call it by what name you like) then such 
a hypothesis involves conclusions so extraordinary, that it must 
be abandoned. 

He takes for his test the Isle of Zante, where petroleum has 
been known for more than 2300 years, and which must have 
furnished an annual supply of 22,643 avoirdupois tons English 
(23,000,000 kil.). Reichenbach acknowledges that in every quin- 
tal there are twenty ounces of oil, and therefore there must be 
at least 368,000,000 of quintals (each being equal to 1 cwt. 3 
qrs. 25 Ibs. E.) to produce the petroleum of Zante alone. 

Herodotus is the first person who mentions it, and from his 
time to this, the quantity of petroleum has been sufficiently great 
to require more coal than the whole of England could have 
supplied if obtained for the purpose. 

This, however, is but the -^th of the supply of naptha from 
Rangoon, which, according to Mr. Coxe, produces 92,781 tuns 
a year. 

The author then refers to Trinidad, and to the " rivers of oil'* 
flowing up along the Alleghanies and in Pennsylvania, and in 
Ohio. This calculation, he rightly assumes to overbear all theory 
and hypothesis. 

M. Virlet, in his work (Dictionnaire Pitioresque des Sciences 
Naturelles), says the origin of bitumen in general is not due to 
the transmutation of organic debris, but to eruptions by 
emanations, which in penetrating sandstones, shales and lime- 
stones, of all countries, has modified them in its own way. 

Whatever may be the real origin of these fluids they are 
certainly of different kinds in composition. This is also 
certain, that the brown Cannels of Scotland do produce oil by 
distillation, and we have here near Hartley a brown cannel allied 
to but not exactly identical with the Bog-head Scotch cannel, 
which, though of true Carboniferous age, contains a high per- 
centage of mineral oil. I believe the oil will be found to exist in 
cells. I have, elsewhere,* very recently shown that I was the first 

* The reference is to a paper " On the Coal Fields" in the Catalogue of 
Natural and Industrial Products of New South Wales, exhibited by the 

BY THE EEV. W. B. CLAEKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 283 

person in this country to suggest the existence of cannel 
containing oil, and therefore, I will not now say more on that 

There are oil-bearing shales or carbonaceous deposits behind 
Mount Kembla, in the Illawarra, from which I selected specimens 
in the year 1849, and I believe such will be found to exist else- 
where. These shales do not produce so much oil as the cannel 
coals, and when used up in the retort appear to be of the character 
of charcoal. They are, therefore, not so much transmuted as the 
cannel. At Stony Creek, near Maitland, such cannel also occurs. 
At Brisbane Water there is a very heavy coal which is supposed 
to be capable of producing oil, but it appears to contain too much 
ash. Similarly in the Illawarra, in Tasmania, and in New 
Caledonia, there are deposits which come nearer than the shales 
of American Creek to graphite, but have not actually attained to 
it completely. I have specimens here from all these localities. 

During the geological survey of Trinidad by Mr. Wall and 
my friend Mr. Sawkins, they concluded that the bitumen of that 
island is distilled from vegetable bog matter by the mere heat of 
the sun. 

In Auvergne, however, amidst the extinct craters, bitumen 
exudes from the soil and concretes the particles of sand sticking 
to the feet ; this is a specimen of it. In the Danubian province 
of Boumania, bitumen, solid and liquid, occurs together with 
rock-oil. In this colony there is a spot where bitumen also 
appears. It may be useful to examine this selection of specimens 
from Trinidad, sent to me by Mr. Sawkins during the survey. 

Combustibles may, in some instances, be transmuted without 
being burnt. The coal seams about Mount Wingan on the Page 
River have been burning for years, and we see them, as well as 
some in England, where they have long been on fire, exhibiting 
similar , appearances to coal seams transmuted by trap. In 

International Exhibition Commissioners at Sydney in 1861. P. 86. The 
examples quoted were the Cannel (allied to the Bog-head coal) of Mount 
York, and of Loders' Creek in the Liverpool Range. This is further treated 
of in a paper by the Author, " On the Oil-bearing Deposits of New South 
Wales," read before the Geological Society of London, February 1866, in 
which other localities are mentioned. 


various parts of the Hunter River basin, porcellanite containing 
impressions of ferns of the coal epoch occur, and even at 
Khanterintee (which name, I think, implies action of fire), above 
the beach near Newcastle, there are similar appearances. In the 
Illawarra the coal is sometimes converted into coke and 
prismatised. The specimen now on the table came from the mine 
at Bellambi. I saw the spot in the mine whence it came, and 
doubt not it was affected by the trap dyke which traverses the 

At Rive de Gier, in France, near Lyons, there is a mountain 
called St. Genis-Terre-Noire, where all the changes by coal on fire 
are well exhibited. First, there is irisation ; then the coal becomes 
cellular and full of cavities ; then harder and more brilliant ; 
lastly, it passes to a coke with metallic lustre. The coal is thus 
affected through several feet of thickness. 

Now, if we examine the coal seam in Nobby's Island at the 
mouth of the Hunter, altered by the greenstone dyke that passes 
through it, we shall see a similar transmutation. 

I obtained, several years ago, examples of irisated coal and 
half-burnt shale from an old pit on the ascent to Mount Keera ; 
and here you perceive the irisation. The same feature dis- 
tinguishes the transmuted coal of New Caledonia, as shown 
by the specimens before us, which I lately received from my 
correspondent there, M. Garnier, the French Government 
Geologist. I am not sure about the transmuting rock in that 
island ; but in Illawarra it is basalt. Similarly, the coal-beds on 
the Nattai, near the Fitzroy mine, have been affected by igneous 
rocks ; and one variety is full of minute concretions of ferruginous 
matter which look like seeds. 

I have already shown that in Illawarra the coal in one place 
is prismatised. It is so in Spitzbergen, in the Arctic Ocean ; 
but though it was supposed from certain fossil shells very like 
some in our Australian lower Carboniferous beds, that the Spitz- 
bergen coal was of that age, recent examination by Professor de 
Koninck, of Liege, shows it to be of Permian age. 

Coal prismatised in this way passes sometimes from Coke to 
Anthracite and Graphite. The whole of these sometimes occur 
together, the graphite being nearest to the trap. 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 285 

M. Delesse mentions coal in Algeria, which was transmuted 
from lignite by trap, but not coked, though enveloped by the 
igneous rock which could not, therefore, have had very great heat. 

In England there, are numerous localities where coal beds are 
altered just in the same way. In 1838 I visited a spot in 
Radnorshire, where such was the case, and here is a portion of 
the transmuting basalt. In the Isle of Anglesea the coal also is 
coked and becomes incombustible when near Dolerite. 

Various minerals are introduced into coal by transmuting 
agents, oftentimes by water impregnated by earths and salts. 

Thus iron, sulphur, lime, manganese, magnesia, alumina, and 
even quartz itself are found in abundance, sometimes crystallised. 

Mr. Gould found a particle of gold in coal in Tasmania, and 
in this specimen of coal from New Caledonia you can perceive the 
crystals of quartz studding the laminae. Sir R. Murchison has 
mentioned a similar occurrence in the coal of Barrow Hill, near 
Dudley. (Sil. Syst. p. 497.) 

In fact, minerals of all kinds are found in some Coals, natural 
Cokes, Anthracites and Graphites. 

That this latter is an evidence of the influence of igneous action 
may be acknowledged, when we consider that the great plumbago 
mine of Borrowdale, in English Cumberland, is in the midst of 
a trappean mass passing through Silurian slates. Another 
instance of the alteration of coal beds in contact with trap passing 
to basalt, occurs at Dudley, where the shales are converted into 
jasperoid porcellanite (as in Trinidad, and on the Hunter). 
There is especial mention of this in Murchison's " Siluria," where 
the author compares the altered shales to the " brand-erde " of 
the Germans. 

With two or three further remarks I will dismiss this part of 
the subject. 

I have previously given my reasons for believing that the 
Hawkesbury rocks near Sydney had been subjected to transmu- 
tation, arguing from the crystalline particles. I see also an 
additional argument in the fact that these rocks are full of little 
bits of graphite, which are so perfect, that in my explorations I 
have sometimes picked them out with a knife to serve for a 
pencil when I happened to have no better one at hand. 



Lignite, one of the lowest forms of combustible, sometimes 
becomes prismatised, at other times it is only found in the form 
of charcoal which occurs in all coal seams more or less ; just as 
it is found in lava from Madeira, where wood of a recent tertiary 
epoch is entangled. 

At Andernach, and in other places visited by me on the Rhine, 
I saw trunks of trees and leaves only partially carbonised in a 
hydrated volcanic tuff. In lava near Neuwied, carbonised trees 
in an upright position just as they grew, may be seen. 

In a volcanic tuff, or ash bed, at Ko3nigswinter, under Drach- 
enfels, I found stems of trees converted into semiopal, just such as 
occurs in Tasmania. Here are specimens for comparison. 

At Herculaneum, a beam has been found in the volcanic tuff 
which covered that city, preserving its woody character; and, 
according to Delesse, Pelouze found in it 50 per cent, of carbon. 

With respect to the prismatising of coal, we must not be led 
into errors from the fact that similar effects occur from artificial 
heat in the chemise or lining of a furnace, for simple desiccation 
will prismatise some combustibles ; and it is stated, on authority 
of careful experiments, that such prismatised combustibles are 
never at a red heat. In fact, prismatisation is a minor transmu- 
tation than that of coking. 

This is well illustrated by the oil-bearing Cannel of Mount 
York. Though full of oil, it has undergone transmutation in a 
perceptible degree ; its laminse are obliterated, the strata lines 
are merely stripes, whilst the blocks into which it is separable are 
distinctly, though rudely, prismatic. It is difficult to separate it 
in planes which present unbroken its distinctive impressions of 
Glossopteris, a fossil plant which marks its epoch. A further 
proof of transmutation is exhibited over it, where a silicate of 
alumina occurs full of bright crystals of pyrites, which mineral 
has thus resulted from the removal of the sulphur from the 

One proof that water must be present in these changes, is the 
occurrence of zeolitic minerals (which are not common near 
granitic contacts where the water is less), and also by hydroxydes 
of iron and alumina. This element has been already mentioned 
in relation to granite ; but heat must also be occasionally widely 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 287 

diffused, for anthracite occurs in the European Alps where there 
is no direct contact with igneous rocks, and such heat, therefore, 
was probably due to the inherent temperature brought up from 
below when the Alps were elevated. 

There is one character assumed by granitic and trappean 
rocks, and also by coal and other transmuted deposits, which 
ought to be mentioned. I mean the spheroidal form. 

Basalte en boules is a common geological expression ; the 
concentric layers exfoliate like the coats of an onion, as in this 
specimen from Launceston, in Tasmania. The same structure 
occurs in certain coals at Newcastle and in India. 

It also occurs in sandstones, as at Five Dock, near Sydney, 
where a hard concretion is surrounded by successive layers of 
softer rock. 

It is transmutation allied to prismatisation, and in fact 
columns of basalt are explained as originating from the juxta- 
position and mutual pressure of spheroidal masses. 

In this colony and in Tasmania I have found this structure 
very common in the middle and lower Carboniferous rocks. At 
Woollamboola Lagoon, Jervis Bay, and about Wollongong and 
to the north of it, the beach rocks which are full of fossils are 
studded with round balls of calcareous matter often containing a 
shell or coral. 

On the Hunter, as near Glendon, these spheroids are of 
immense size and line the left bank of the river for some distance. 
In the Jervis Bay district, as you will see by these examples, 
shells have been twisted out of their proper bedding and now 
appear outside the ball. Similar instances occur in the white 
limestone of Balme in France, where siliceous balls with silicified 
Terabratulse occur. 

Chemouset adopts the same view as myself, viz., that when 
the Terabratulee were deposited, the balls did not exist. 

Other kinds of transmutation occur. Thus the coal near 
Swansea, in Glamorganshire, has in one place been formed 
through the agency of a vein of sulphuret of iron, or in common 
with its occurrence, not in columns or spheroids, but in a series 
of cones or conical sections of a spheroid. 

In some parts of the lower Carboniferous formation of New 


South Wales as at Worregee on the Shoalhaven, near Singleton 
on the Hunter, and at Coyeo on the Page River there occur 
many curious concretions of carbonate of lime simulating 
crystals of selenite, but attached to each other in radiating forms 
of very considerable size and thickness. In one instance the 
substance is a marble, the molecular atoms having united in the 
same way as in Carara or Pentelic marble. I found similar 
concretions in the Carboniferous beds at Spring Hill in Tasmania, 
not far from trap. 

No doubt these peculiar concretions have been formed under 
some such agency as that which produces flints in beds of Chalk ; 
but they are all examples of transmutation^ and as just such 
spheroids as I have before mentioned are common in argillaceous 
rocks in contact with trap, a low temperature may have assisted 
in forming the lime concretions of the Carboniferous rocks. 

In the coal shale of the valley of D'All, in the Thuringerwald, 
and in the upper Green sand of Cave Hill near Belfast, in Ireland, 
are similar spheroids where the rock is in contact with trap. 
But in the latter case the argillaceous odour remains with 8 per 
cent, of water. Delesse figures an instance of felspathic rock in 
the Yosges Mountains, which has been changed into parallellopi- 
pedons which in the interior are perfect concentric spheroids. 

It is not surprising, then, that in other localities a true 
prismatic structure should have been induced in argillaceous and 
calcareous deposits, as in the beautiful columns of the South 
Tyrol country. 

I would point out that in many of our Australian deposits we 
find a tendency in the thinner portions to break off into geometric 
forms having columnar divisions, with occasionally convex upper 
surfaces ; and that at Point Puer, in Tasmania, in various parts 
of Victoria, and about Wollongong and elsewhere, the rocks are 
often jointed so as to produce a tesselated structure or miniature 
representation of a " giant's causeway." In fact it is the pris- 
matic structure, the joints being lined with ferruginous emanations 
or deposits. 

Spheroidal forms appear to be common not only on earth 
but in air and water. Vapour is suspended in spheroids held 
up by electric agency, and owing to the same structure in the 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 289 

perspiration of the human hand ifc may be passed safely through 
molten metal. 

The laundress spits upon her iron, and the saliva runs off in 
globules and water in a spheroidal form remains unevaporated 
in a red-hot crucible or pan so that where heat is concerned 
the same form is assumed, as where it appears to be absent. 

All physical things seem to have a tendency to take this 
particular structure, and heat administered in gentle doses, to- 
gether with infinitesimal draughts of gases and mineral vapour 
during long periods of time, superintended by the administrative 
aid of chemical, galvanic, and other natural forces, has a mission 
in the final renovation of the constitution of the world. 

Little has been said of metallic combinations or changes ; but 
no person can spend a day among our Hawkesbury rocks and 
not be struck by the fact that iron, at least, has been introduced 
by means of imbibition, and through fissures into our common 
sandstone, and the colouring of these rocks brought out by 
oxidation, presenting most remarkable forms and varying outlines? 
betrays the influence of iron in a striking way. . 

One of the most common of all exhibitions of iron is that of 
Pyrites. It belongs to all ages, and has been produced in all 
kinds of rock. It is a great enemy to some mining operations, 
such as the production of gold, and much wealth is lost because 
it is difficult to separate it from the precious metal. 

Now, this mineral, owing to its combination with sulphur, is 
a pure product of transmutation, and in turn it becomes an agent 
thereof. The sulphuration of the springs of Greece has been 
traced to the decomposition of this mineral. And what is more 
curious, from pyrites have resulted huge deposits of hydrated iron. 
In the Cevennes mountains, in Languedoc, pyritous emanations 
or eruptions have produced a mass of the mineral near Alais, of 
great thickness, and on the opposite side of the valley in which 
the quarries are situate, there is a great mass of hydrated iron, 
which is proved to result from the decomposition or transmutation 
of the pyrites. 

M. Yirlet, who first called attention to this curious spot, 
exhibited to the Geological Society of France, in August, 1814, a 
specimen which created some surprise. In it the pyrites occupied 


the centre of the mass, whilst the outside had entirely been 
changed into hydrafced ore. 

I am now able to exhibit an equally interesting proof of similar 
transmutation. This specimen was brought down with many 
others from the Harding River, De Witt's Land, and sent to me 
by the Hon. F. P. Barlee, Colonial Secretary of Western Australia. 
This example is doubly striking from the fact that the iron retains 
its crystalline form. The gangue of this mineral is an altered rock 
associated with trap. M. Yirlet says, that at whatever period 
the Jurassic rock of the Cevennes was intruded into by the pyrites, 
the change spoken of still goes on, and he believes it to be 

With respect to minerals in general, it may be remarked, that 
they may be deposited at a temperature much lower than is 
necessary to fuse them. 

Below, or not higher than 104 F., products characteristic of 
metalliferous veins may be formed. 

On the authority of M. Julier, it is stated by Daubree, that an 
old brass cock of ancient Roman origin was found at the baths of 
Plombieres, under a mass of masonry, and that it was covered with 
crystals of sulphuret of copper absolutely identical with Cornish 
sulphuret in aspect, form and properties. The water there also 
deposits quartz crystals, holding alkaline silicate in solution. 

From Somma (Vesuvius), limestone has been ejected un- 
touched, and granite also in Auvergne. The former was covered 
by minerals such as occur in the open air. Therefore, similar 
phenomena take place far below, as well as near or at the earth's 

The temperature of springs seldom goes beyond 212 F., 
and under three-fourths of the earth's surface, springs have 
to support an ocean of 200 atmospheres ; rocks, therefore, 
may be altered at great depths by pressure, and by imbibition of 
gases bringing up from greater depths minerals and metallic 
emanations which, when a fissure has been formed, may rush to 
the surface, producing mineral veins in convenient places. 

Thus, Daubree considers the gold and tin deposits of Saxony, 
Bohemia and Brazil have been formed ; but if so, why not those 
of California and Australia ? 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLABKE, M.A., F.Q.S., &c. 291 

Those who adhere to what I believe to be a fiction, viz., the 
origin of gold deposits from fusion, may be startled by a fact 
reported recently by Mr. Blake of California, that he found a 
crystal of calcite (Calc spar) having through it a wire of native 

In the last edition of LyelTs Elements of Geology, published 
in January last (and which I received after I had prepared 
the materials for this paper), I am glad to find that he 
quotes some of the same facts which I have quoted to-night- 
One passage from this new edition of an important work, will 
show more fully how much the author of it coincides in the views 
I have just expressed : viz., that from the bottom of p. 733 to 
middle of p. 734. 

Referring to the prismatic structure of rocks, I must now 
exhibit a singular column from the lower Carboniferous formation 
at Colo Colo, on the Paterson River, transmuted in this way by 
porphyry. Fossils occur outside this prism as on the outside of 
the balls from Jervis Bay. 

Here is, however, a far more striking instance of this struc- 
ture in another specimen of fossiliferous calcareous grit, of 
Secondary age, from Bramston Range, on the Flinders River, 
which was brought away by Mr. James Atkinson, of Oldbury, 
near Berrima. 

I saw another about six weeks ago at the house of his 
compagnon de voyage, Mr. Burke, at Mittagong. In each instance 
the sides of the columns, which are separated or united by cal- 
careous spar, exhibit the fossils of the formation in good preser- 
vation, but assuredly under circumstances which could not have 
existed when the rock was first deposited. 

I may now approach the subject of transmutations in our own 

The upper beds of rock in the counties of Cumberland and 
Camden consist of a series which I long ago denominated the 
Wianamatta beds, and this designation is now adopted by the 
geologists of Europe. They consist of shales, calcareous grit and 
sandstone, with carbonaceous layers and casts of wood and a good 
deal of iron. These beds are frequently traversed by dykes and 
bosses of basalt, which have passed through the underlying 


Hawkesbury rocks at the junction of the two series, and have 
hardened and altered both at the points of contact. 

On Razorback, northern ascent, the plant-bearing calcareous 
grits have in one instance become completely spheroidal near a 
trap dyke and in its line of direction. 

On the south side of Razorback, near Picton, there is a deposit 
of very curiously structured carbonate of iron, a yellow cone-in- 
cone ore, an effect of transmutation, and satisfactory enough as to 
my views of the age of the deposits in which it occurs. I have 
specimens of identically the same ore from the Maranoa and Flin- 
ders Rivers, in Queensland. 

At Prospect Hill, an old dioritic summit has been surrounded 
by the Wianamatta deposits, so that it rises through them like 
an island. Portions of disintegrated and regenerated sedi- 
mentary dioritic matter form some of the beds, which contain 
casts of plants. Through these and the other beds, basalt full of 
chrysolite has subsequently risen and formed a coulee with 
columnar structure, on the north-east extremity, and this has 
transmuted the Wianamatta shales in some places into a greenish 
jaspery substance. 

On the east of Paramatta, about half way to Sydney, a mass 
of columnar basalt has risen through the lower Wianamatta beds, 
and from this Sydney is supplied with road metal. About 
twenty-five years ago there was visible on the flanks of this mass 
a series of parti- coloured aluminous beds, inclined to the basalt, 
which have been destroyed in the process of excavation ; but I 
was fortunate enough to make a coloured sketch of them whilst 
they were in existence. The prismatic structure here is partly 
curvilinear and partly vertical. Between the prisms occur lumps 
and strings of calcareous spar, and the outside of them is covered 
with a greenish talcose-looking substance, of a fibrous texture, so 
much resembling woody fibre, that it has deceived even botanists 
in that respect. Now this substance, in fact a mixture of the 
ordinary basalt with lime, is, I conceive, an effect of transmutation. 
It is by no means unusual to find such products of basalt. 
Whether the lime has been derived from the calcareous matter in 
the Wianamatta beds, or comes from an independent source, it is 
perfectly in accordance with numerous examples in other parts of 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 293 

the world. For instance, at the Giant's Causeway, in Ireland, 
where basalt has overflowed chalk, there are deposits of lime ; 
and between the basalt and a bed of rounded quartz and clay 
which had covered the chalk before the outburst, crystals of 
quartz and calc-spar occur in the cavities of the bed ; and a thin 
layer of carbonate of lime is also formed. This carbonate of lime 
is fibrous, just as the specimens are from the Pennant Hills 
quarry. It fills in the interstices between the basaltic matter 
just as it does in the latter place. 

In the neighbourhood of Camden, in some excavations made 
for me many years ago in the presence of, and by the direction 
of Sir W. Macarthur, I recognised a very much greater change 
than this is at the junction of basalt with the Wianamatta 
calcareous beds. Similarly at Burwood, near to the Railway sta- 
tion, there is a fan-shaped mass of columnar basalt, which has 
transmuted the soft shales of the Wianamatta series. There are 
other places in Cumberland where basalt has risen and has 
produced numerous examples of transmutation, just as under the 
Mittagong Range the Wianamatta and underlying Hawkesbury 
rocks have been changed. 

These latter deposits with which the remainder of my 
remarks will be directly connected, underlie the Wianamatta beds, 
and rise round them in a basin-formed trough between the sloping 
edge of the coast district of Cumberland and the vertical escarp- 
ment of the eastern edge of the Blue Mountain plateau. 

Denudation of a considerable extent had taken place before 
the Wianamatta deposits began ; and, therefore, the basalts that 
have altered both series must have been erupted more recently 
than the latter. 

At points of junction of the two series, as on the west of 
Prospect, I have come upon several instances in which the 
Hawkesbury beds have been changed as much as the Wianamatta 
beds, affording an exact parallel with the changes under the 

In one of the specimens of the latter, you will observe that 
the most siliceous rock has been partly vitrified, and is very 
nearly allied in this state to some of the rocks from the Narran, 
Darling, and Maranoa districts. 


It is not, therefore, surprising to find similar transmutations 
in the heart of the Hawkesbury rocks. We have, indeed, near 
Sydney some of the most remarkable transmutations which have 
ever been submitted to the inspection of a geologist. 

There is a mass of white rock seen from the North Shore of 
Port Jackson, on the top of the cliffs north of Bondi Bay, which 
offers one of the most striking examples. This is finely depicted 
in the photographs on the table. Again, near Botany North 
Head, on the cliff near the old station, there is another example. 
At Five dock is a third ; near Pyrmont there is a fourth ; on 
Lane Cove a fifth ; and at Waverley there are traces of a sixth. 
Others exist in the same formation on the Hawkesbury rocks, as 
at the head of Cowan Creek, which I visited many years ago. 

In all these places the sandstones have undergone a great 
change, and have become prismatised. 

The occurrence of prismatic sandstone has appeared to some 
persons an anomaly. But it is not an uncommon feature in 
sandstone countries of a geological age not widely distant from 
the age of our Hawkesbury rocks. 

I have brought hither for comparison two prismatic examples 
from the Hartz, from my own collection, and some others from 
other countries. Nevertheless, this kind of structure is not 
generally observable in the purest sandstones, and the prismatic 
action is, therefore due, perhaps, to a molecular alterations as well 
as to the element itself which holds the siliceous particles 
together having been affected by heat. 

In some spots no trace exists visibly of the existence of basalt 
or other trappean rock. But in others there is open to inspec- 
tion a clear contact between them. Thus, below the cliff near 
Bondi, which is a little north of that commonly known as " Ben 
Buckler," (but which Mr. Hill tells me is a corruption of a 
native word, "Baalbuckalea,") viz., at Meriberi, a mass of 
basalt appears at the sea level and for a considerable height 
above ; so that it is an intrusive dyke which only forms a boss 
in that vicinity. Again, at the Sugar Loaf Hill near the Bargo 
River, the boss of trap which forms that conical summit amidst 
the bush is yet partially covered by transmuted sandstone in 
situ, the relics of the masses that have been swept away. 

BY THE BEV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 295 

There, all the changes are easily traceable from unaltered to 
highly vitrified compact beds ; the basalt itself having in all its 
features, especially the calcareous portions, the closest re- 
semblance to the Pennant Hill rock. 

Again, at the lately boasted-of gold diggings on a branch of 
the Nepean River, a few miles from Mittagong village, I 
found the whole of the drift in which the few particles of gold 
dug there were found, composed of most highly transmuted 
fragments of true Hawkesbury sandstone. I broke with my 
hammer a -very great number of these pebbles accumulated in 
heaps, and I am quite sure, that no other drift than that exists, 
and in one of the creeks near by I picked up basalt. 

Another example of a similar kind to that of Bargo exists 
about a quarter of a mile west of the lock-up on the Berrima 
Road, near the Little Forest, where a mass of basalt stands in 
the midst of a denuded area, the sides and summit bearing 
altered fragments of the same Hawkesbury rocks. Most 
beautiful dendritic oxidations of manganese occur on some of the 
faces of rough basaltic blocks. Most of our Hawkesbury rocks, 
especially near to Sydney, are poikilitic, i.e., they are variously 
coloured by the oxidation of iron, the hues of which have 
changed from the usual ferruginous colour of rust, to yellow, 
reddish, and grey, not always giving an agreeable tint to our 
public buildings. Take the Exchange, for instance, and other 
edifices in Sydney, where dull-coloured dark grey and yellowish 
toned stones occur in no definite arrangement with the rest. 
Again, most extraordinary forms are occasionally represented by 
the distribution of the iron in some blocks of stone ; and it 
appears that whilst the saiad was moist or friable enough to allow 
ferruginous impregnations to pass downwards in successive 
layers, or after all these were deposited, another series of white 
laminae not at all disarranging the former, have crossed them 
apparently at about equal consecutive intervals of time. Any 
one who will go about the city and inspect the walls of houses 
and other buildings, will find plenty of good examples. 
Occasionally, the forms referred to take the character of a 
landscape, resulting from a combination of lines and colours. 
Witness the stone fairly representing a hilly island, over the 


main entrance of the Custom House. One of the most ordinary 
forms is a nodular, or concretionary arrangement, and these 
concretions have sometimes a diameter of forty feet. 

Now, I class these changes and appearances among the 
phenomena of transmutation. 

But, when prismatic action occurs colours on the external 
surfaces of the stone are generally absent. The coloured portions 
occur in the interior in patches or blotches ; and in the case of 
the Five Dock quarry the columnar portions have a centre, 
generally of rectilineal sides, in which the ferruginous matter 
has been attracted, as it were, to that centre, or left when 
the rock became jointed and gases passed upwards, deoxidising 
the iron. The surfaces of these prisms are, however, speckled 
with portions of a white and, where wet, pasty substance which 
has evidently resulted from an external agent, and which puts on 
the character of a transmutation. It is probable, therefore, that 
the internal assemblage of ferruginous matters is occasioned by a 
transmutation which has removed the colouring matter from the 
surrounding parts. And yet we must bear in mind that, as the 
silica is pure and generally transparent, and the silicate of 
alumina, which varies sometimes in excess of one or other of the 
ingredients, is also white, it is not always to transmuting agency 
we must refer the whiter portions of sandstone in the 
Hawkesbury series. 

In* various parts of the country I have noticed white bands 
for some distance on each side of a crack in coloured sandstone, 
and often there, where wide enough, the fissure is filled in with 
silicate of alumina which thus forms apparently independent 
dykes ; such as are near the east end of the wall of the Victoria 

The occurrence of silicate of alumina is a by no means rare 
phenomenon in sandstone rocks. M. Etallon, in a short paper on 
the soil of the Ores Bigarre, near Luxenil, in the department of 
the Haute Saone, in France (and published there), describes the 
association of alumina with silica and iron. The clay is a charac- 
teristic feature of this lower member of the Trias. But 
frequently silica has been introduced subsequently to the deposit, 
and he suggests its origin in mineral springs. He mentions also 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 297 

the occurrence of ferruginous patches cemented by silicic acid ; 
these occasionally form veins or concentric curves. There is so 
much in this account parallel with what may be seen in this 
colony, and especially on Mount Victoria, where just such veins 
occur in the sandstone, that it is a useful illustration of what we 
find in Australia. 

Silicification has also produced kidney-shaped concretions of 
jaspery quartz ; but sometimes, though rarely, there occur little 
columns in the rock, slightly granular, of a white substance, 
pulverulent, and having all the characters of alumina. These 
prisms, which are quite distinct from the rock itself, are about 
0.01. m. through, and 0.03 m. high. 

Springs are mentioned which are felspathised, and probably 
rise from granitic rock below the sandstone. 

In many cases near Sydney, the cracks or fissures are, on the 
contrary, lined with ferruginous matter, forming sometimes thick 
casings, and, as on various points of the beach rock about Port 
Jackson, on the coast to the north of Manly Beach and elsewhere 
in the inner region, presenting dykes of ironstone which are not 
always continuous for long distances, but which swell up into 
bosses or irregular masses, as on the North Shore ; the entrance 
of Middle Harbour ; head of Cowan Creek ; the Long Beef near 
Narrabeen, &c. 

Other masses of hydrated oxide of iron occur at Brisbane 
Water, at Fitzroy near the Nattai, and other places. 

The conclusions I have come to from a somewhat careful 
examination of the whole of the localities mentioned and 
numerous others, is that the Fitzroy iron ore is a product of 

The west end of the Mittagong is composed of a trachytic 
rock, full of little crystals of specular iron. On it rest unaltered 
the Hawkesbury beds. But these beds have been affected by an 
after irruption of basalt, which there forms a considerable 
portion of the range, and has produced a transmutation of the 
sandstones and other rocks at the surfaces of contact. 

Springs have burst out at the junction of the formations, and 
have brought up the iron and other minerals which are associated 
with it, so that beds and stalactitical masses of the iron, originally 


derived from the trachyte, or from a source common to both, have 
resulted since, or during the formation of the Hawkesbury beds. 
It is possible, that the basalt may have had something to do with 
the iron, for, on descending about six weeks ago from the summit 
of the basaltic portion, near the head of the Gibraltar Creek, I 
found the sandstone in contact with the basalt hardened into a 
ferruginous conglomerate like " cement " of the gold-fields, and 
traces of hydrated oxide of iron exactly resembling that which 
forms the Fitzroy mine. Nodular lumps of carbonate of iron 
occur in the Wianamatta beds and in the Hawkesbury rocks, 
with patches of coal ; but the great masses of hydrated ore occur 
in beds as in the places named, and at Soldier's Pinch near 
Mount Yictoria, and in other localities in that region. 

Returning now to the fissures near Sydney. About a year 
and a-half ago, I found at the end of a peninsulated mass of sand- 
stone, on the North Shore between Greenwich Bay and Ball's 
Head, a dyke of brownish rock, at the sea level, which was 
highly ferruginous and clayey, and on each side of which for some 
distance the beds of sandstone were tilted away from it and 
extremely hardened. Breaking it up, I found the interior on one 
side of the cliff putting on the appearance of an amygdaloidal 
trap, and this being in connection with the hardening of the 
sandstones, there is good ground for believing that the supposition 
of its origin is not chimerical. Yet this dyke appears from the 
analysis of Professor Smith to be principally a silicate of alumina, 
though highly ferruginous. 

Having the impression on my mind that this is a true igneous 
dyke, I began to trace out its further relations, and I have now 
traced it distinctly from the mouth of Lane Cove, through the 
Greenwich isthmus, on the one side, through Ball's Head isthmus 
on the other side, and so into a dyke of similar character at 
Point Piper and into the sea very near to the occurrence of the 
Meriberi columnar sandstone and dyke of basalt, a distance of 
six geographical miles. 

Of course continuous tracing is impossible, for the waters of 
the several bays of the main harbour intervene between the 
points where the dyke is visible ; but as the general bearing E. 
20 S. is persistent, I have no doubt that it is a dyke formed when 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLAEKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 299 

the whole mass of the harbour was filled in with continuous 
deposits of sandstone, and, therefore, of far greater antiquity 
than the present features of the land. Generally it can only 
be most distinctly made out where the land is lowest ; but at 
Greenwich the existence of the dyke is traceable to a height 
of full 200 feet above the sea level, and on the water edge 
at one side of the isthmus the sandstone has been prismatised, 
though not to the same extent as in the localities photographed. 

There are abundance of specimens here assembled to illustrate 
this dyke. 

The occurrence and phenomena of the iron dykes, such as 
those near the Racecourse at Rand wick, and on the North Shore 
will be fully treated of hereafter by Mr. Miller, to whom I leave 
the further details of the examples cited ; but I may mention 
that he has discovered gold in very minute proportion not only in 
the masses of iron ore, but in this very dyke of silicate of alumina, 
as well as in other patches of North Shore iron. 

At the sea extremity of this dyke near Meriberi, the occur- 
rence of silicate of alumina and various intermediate changes of 
the sandstone, which is there cemented by it, are particularly 
striking ; a more extraordinary locality than that between the 
north head of Bondi Bay and the main coast line towards the 
South Head of Sydney nowhere is met with ; for the fissured 
character of the cliffs and the transmutations of the rocks are 
most remarkable. 

No doubt hundreds of other localities exist along the coast, 
which have not received yet, but which deserve examination . At 
any rate, with the present remarks as a guide, it is possible many 
of the open dykes on our harbour will, by close attention, be 
found to be of the same character as those which occur on the 
beach at Newcastle and at Wollongong, and at intermediate places, 
and which are, undoubtedly, open dykes from which the trappean 
matter has been removed. It is probable that in these, and many 
others in the Carboniferous formation, the igneous action may be 
made visible, and that as we ascend to the Hawkesbury and 
Wianamatta beds, which are so much above the coal beds, the 
igneous products may themselves be found to have been altered 
and so decomposed into these silicated ferruginous clay dykes. 


It is clear that the prismatic structure induced on the sand- 
stones must have been effected by the trap in a very different 
condition of these beds. Now, if we examine the prismatic 
sandstone, we shall find that it is sometimes very absorbent, and 
does not justify the opinion once formed of its durability. At 
Meriberi, and at Five Dock it has been extensively used for the 
roads. Being consulted about it some years ago by a surveyor, 
I undertook an examination of it for his guidance ; and the 
result was, that it was far from answering the expectation 
formed of it. Some of it had a higher Specific gravity than 
portions of unaltered sandstone, but of some the density was 
lower. In 1864, Professor Smith obtained S.GL of some 
unaltered rock, 2'41 and 2 '44, and of the altered rock 2*47. 
In 1859, I obtained S.Gr. of other portions of white columns 
2*37. The compact hard sandstone of Blackwattle Swamp 
gave me 2'45 ; but at Pyrmont the Specific gravity of the 
harder rock came out 3*01, and the softer 2'31. In general the 
Specific gravity of transmuted sandstone is higher than the 
nominal value. Thus, an altered red sandstone near Belfast 
underlying a dolerite has a polyhedral structure, and its Specific 
gravity nearly 7 per cent. (6 '43 per cent.) higher than the 
unaltered. At Comber, in the county of Down, the Specific 
gravity increased from 2'522 to 2'545. 

On the contrary, a white prismatic sandstone at Wildenstein, 
very like the Meriberi prisms, having a light greyish blue tint, 
was found by M. Delesse, to whom I am indebted for this example, 
to have a lower Specific gravity than the unaltered rock which is 
red, though the difference is not very great. The explanation is, 
that the quartz was slightly vitrified, for the density of the sand- 
stone fused artificially came out 2'081 instead of 2'342. It would 
lead me away from my present purpose to discuss the question of 

Eespecting the transmuted rocks at Meriberi, near Bondi, 
their white colour arises partly from the silicate of alumina with 
which the grains are cemented. There is no vitrification of the 
mass, only the prisms are generally clean, the joints cutting 
through the larger pebbles of quartz in the coarser varieties. It 
is such a change as might be anticipated from the action of heat 
administered in water. 

BY THE REV. \V. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 301 

The loss of colour is like that of the rocks at Wildenstein, and 
the strata lines, which are distinctly marked at Meriberi, have a 
zig-zag course, and the prisms on the south side cut them ob- 
liquely at angles of 62, 68, 73, dipping N.N.W. The height of 
the rock above the sea at the quarry is 207 feet on the north side, 
and 214 feet on the south side. The opening strikes S., 70 W., 
and the breadth is 50 paces. I give these measurements to 
show that an ample space has been cleared to exhibit fully all the 
phenomena. That the prisms have probably been formed, as is 
usual in such cases, at right angles to the intruding basalt, and as in 
numerous cases quoted by Delesse, is shown by the way in which 
they dip. Near St. Catherine's School, the imperfect prisms also 
have a partia]ly fan-shaped arrangement in a dome-like mass. 
At Meriberi the vertical portion is removed, but on the height 
south of the opening, the summits of prisms occupy some space. 
The unaltered rock contains casts of stems of plants ; but none of 
these are seen in the altered rock. They have been probably all 
obliterated by partial fusion of the silica, for it is well known that 
silicification destroys very often the delicate parts of organic 
structures so transmuted, as Dr. Duncan has recently found in 
examining the silicified fossil corals of the West Indies. 

As the quartz pebbles .are only slightly altered, it is clear that 
the heat radiating from the trap never was so great as to completely 
fuse the silica, or dissolve it entirely. And I, therefore, believe 
that the heat was hydrous, as all such changes must be at first. 
An examination of the unaltered rock is necessary to understand 
the amount of change. I submitted 619 grains of a column from 
Meriberi to absorption, and the weight gained was three grains. 
Some of our Hawkesbury sandstones are so incoherent, that when 
the blocks from the Railway cutting on Darling Causeway, at the 
head of the Grose River, are thrown over the embankment, many 
of them crumble to powder. The sandstone near Meriberi is not 
quite so loose as this ; but some of it consists merely of particles 
of semicrystalline quartz, without any visible cement, which of 
course are easily separable. This explains why the summits of 
the fractured cliffs, themselves huge quadrilateral columns, to the 
south of the quarry are strewn with quartz pebbles, the relics of 
destroyed beds of loosely aggregated grit and sandstone. At this 


locality no doubt can exist that the transmuting cause has been 
the dyke of basalt below, and that the eruption was to some 
degree violent. We may infer this from the fact, that between 
the dyke and the sides of the cliff, there intervenes, besides the 
aluminous matters, a bed of hard fractured sandstone pebbles. 
Much of the clay that there exists takes the character of bole, and 
that is often a clear indication of the presence of trap as at the 
Giant's Causeway, where it exists among the basalt, and from 
which the specimen was collected which is now before us. 

I have dwelt on the features of this Bondi locality, because it 
illustrates more clearly than others all the principal characteristics 
of such phenomena as are illustrated by it. 

At Botany Head, where the prismatisation has been intense, 
the presence of igneous matter is not so clear. I have frequently 
examined the cliffs to seaward very closely, but I have not found 
any dyke. 

But, if we turn to Five Dock (which I have visited in company 
of Professor Smith and Mr. Hunt) we have as it were an inter- 
mediate example. There the sides of the quarry are about 
twenty to twenty-five feet high in the deepest parts. The lower 
members of the strata are all partially hardened, and the laminae 
of deposit are apparent with layers of silicated alumina between 
them ; yet soft as they comparatively are, they form well denned 
polyhedral prisms by means of clean joints cutting through them, 
of which the sides vary from nine to thirteen inches, and the dip 
apparently fan-like, is on one side to N.W., on the other to S. 
30 W. 

The beds on the north side themselves undulate in a sweep 
inclining 5 E. and 8 W. ; the upper ten feet consisting of 
thin beds of tile-stone, white clay and blue shale, with much 
reddish clay, all of which have been greatly disturbed and 
probably crushed during the partial upheaval and depression 
which these rocks have undergone. 

One feature in this quarry is strongly marked. There is 
much ferruginous matter in the normal rock ; but in the cal- 
careous rock the whole of that red coloured stone is in the interior 
of the prisms, as before mentioned. 

Now, though there can be no doubt that this quarry marks 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 303 

the site of trappean influence, the transmuting agent is concealed. 
But, as the upper portions mark the coming in of the Wianamatta 
beds which near by are well developed, and as the basaltic trap 
of Burwood is but two miles distant to S.W., the conclusion we 
mast naturally come to is, that that trap has extensive ramifications 
under the surface and has produced the transmutation at Five Dock. 

It is, therefore, only reasonable to consider, that where similar 
changes have been noticed, a similar cause for them exists ; and 
as the processes connected with excavations of the soil go on, 
these dykes may be hereafter discovered. 

There are, however, other visible demonstrations of igneous 
rock than those mentioned ; as near Canterbury, and along the 
old Liverpool road, where, in one part, probably connected with 
the Prospect and Bull's Hill district, blocks of porphyritic diorite 
lie by the way side. 

How far these eruptions may have been contemporaneous 
with the peculiar formation of the country near Sydney, it is 
impossible to say. But the broken and fragmentary, insulated or 
peninsulated masses of sandstone, with cliffs and ledges 
apparently successional, and the peculiar parallelism which exists 
in the direction of the outlines of the harbour coasts, all point to 
a series of prolonged changes by which the deposited and once 
more highly elevated Hawkesbury rocks were subsequently 
depressed, cracked and broken down along certain lines of joints, 
thus allowing the intermediate masses to be swept away, leaving 
only such landmarks as Spectacle Island, Cockatoo, Snake Island, 
Garden Island, Pinchgut, Clarke's Island, Shark Island, the 
patch off Grey Cliff and some other minor features. These point 
to a once general extension of rocks over the whole harbour, of 
which these small islands were summits ; whilst the coast is 
marked by the larger and more striking islands, now peninsulated 
by sandy beaches, of the South Head, North Head, and other 
masses of like kind, both north and south of these. 

When we look to these features and observe the agency of 
igneous forces we may naturally conclude that the irruption of 
basalt and other rocks of like kind may have been the result of 
the depression of the country along the sea line, in turn producing 
the effects 011 the rocks which we have been considering. 


We must now look a little closer to the condition of these 
transmuted sandstones. 

I have mentioned under the head of granitic rocks the 
alterations near the Sappa Bulgas, and the extension of a line of 
transmuted sandstones along the Darling, Narran, and so on into 
Queensland. I am now able to state that, from information 
obtained in October last, from the journal of Mr. Arthur Bloxam, 
and from Mr. M'Hattie more recently, that these altered sand- 
stones extend as far as Paroo River and beyond, and it is 
remarkable that at a very short distance from them exists a 
development of basalt, leaving us in no doubt that that rock 
has had something to do, as well as granite, with the transmuta- 
tions to the westward. The locality reached by Mr. Bloxam 
was about 29 S., and between 144 and 145 E., or 130 miles 
to the N.N.W. of Oxley's Table Land. He mentions in one part 
of that country a sudden chasm, implying depression of a portion 
of a sandstone country, and the occurrence of springs similar to 
those which appear to rise along the line of transmuted country, 
from the Warrego to the north of South Australia. 

The transmutation must have been very considerable also in 
the Peak Downs and Mackenzie River districts, for, about 23 S., 
and 148 E., many of the creeks are filled with altered sandstones 
and shales like those already described. 

A similar remark may be made respecting portions of country 
in ]ST.W. Australia. 

The sandstones of the Glenelg River, and of Brecknock and 
Camden Harbours, and in patches all through Tasman's Land 
and De Witt's Land, are in similar condition, as the specimens 
before us prove. 

Mr. F. T. Gregory found semi-columnar sandstone in con. 
junction with trap on the Sherlock River, in 21 29' 10" S., and 
118 42' E. Springs were common in that region. 

The connection of springs with transmuted rocks and lines of 
fissure is beautifully illustrated in a recent paper in the " Comptes 
Rendus," by Messrs. Martin and Garrigou, under the head of 
" Physique du Globe" on the mineral springs of Ax and Luchon. 
The authors show how granites have been changed and formed also 
out of neighbouring materials, where springs have traversed the 

BY THE REV. W. B. CLARKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 305 

Mr. Stutchbury has given a description of the transmutations 
of Sandstone near the Sappa Bulgas, to which it may be well to 
refer. The following is an abstract of a part of his Report of 1st 
July, 1852 : 

" Near Dewembang the sandstone is contorted and prismatised, 
The columns are not so compact in the interior as on the outside, 
which is distinctly denned by a double boundary. The strata 
lines are visible. 

" At Gundi, on the Little River, the sandstone is arched in 
synclinal and anticlinal curves ; and on Cockabroo Plains it is 
jasperised and porphyritic, becoming full of nodular concretions 
of iron ore as near Geary. Five miles from Murrumbidgeree the 
ground is covered by pebbles of compact hematite, extending for 
more than a mile. At Cumbogle Combang the sandstone is 
again prismatised." 

This description does not, however, convey the whole of the 
facts. The sandstones have been converted into a homogeneous 
flint or chert by the fusion of the pebbles and sand into one 
compact mass. All kinds of suppositions have been adduced to 
account for similar changes in the coal-fields, and in such fused 
conglomerates as exist at Merton, on the Hunter, and boiling 
water has been called in to explain them. 

Now, in Tasmania the identical changes have been produced in 
sandstone similar to that which occurs on Cooper's Creek, at the 
Sappa Bulgas, and elsewhere ; and there is no doubt whatever, that 
in the localities about Green Ponds, which I have most carefully 
studied, the cause of change is to be traced to greenstone and basalt. 

Not only at Green Ponds, but at Picton, and still further to 
the north, near Spring Hill, the igneous rock is in direct contact 
with the transmuted semi- vitrified sandstone ; and if the specimens 
here present from the Sappa Bulgas and Picton be compared, no 
absolute difference can be discovered. I have selected portions 
of transmuted rocks which show in each a border of the unchanged 
rock. The rock is prismatised as well as vitrified, and it is 
capable of such clean cleavage that it might be chipped into the 
form of the arrow heads and flint instruments used by the 
aborigines of Europe, just as similar spear heads are used by the 
Australian aborigines. 


The only difference which I think may occur in rocks, trans- 
muted by basalt and granite or greenstone, is the presence in the 
latter of an alkali derived from the greater proportion of felspar in 
the transmuting agent. Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Ulrich of the 
Victorian Geological Survey undertook for me the delicate 
analysis of the Cooper's Creek and Sappa Bulgas rock for alkali, 
and a minute proportion was detected by each of them. 

I do not know whether any alkali has been traced in these 
transmuted sandstones near Sydney. I am myself unable to 
determine it. 

Certainly, we have no such complete vitrifications near 
Sydney as at Green Ponds, in Tasmania ; but, on the other hand, 
though I found imperfect prisms near Lovely Banks, in the same 
district, in contact with trap, I have never seen such perfect 
columns as those we can find in this neighbourhood. Tasmania 
may yet produce them ; but I did not see any in the course of a 
very careful survey of the valley of the Jordan, and at Jericho, 
where contacts are common. 

There are, however, other changes produced on the south of 
Green Ponds (near Bagdad, and about Constitution Hill) on beds 
of the Carboniferous formation which are worthy of notice. These 
portions of shale, containing casts of plants, are filled with 
chalcedonic veins. I broke them from masses in contact with 
the igneous rock now exhibited. 

The facts which I have now endeavoured to illustrate are, 
that there is an intimate relationship between prismatised rock, 
ferruginous deposits, silicate of alumina, and basaltic and trappean 
outbursts. This will be further strengthened if we consider that 
silicate of alumina abounds in certain trappean rocks ; and 
that various clays are constantly found in association with 

1 have also endeavoured to point out not only the probable 
connection of the physical features of our own vicinity with the 
causes of igneous action beneath us, but that there is proof 
abundant to show that the solid rocks, whether sedimentary or 
intrusive, are still undergoing constant change, and that no part 

BY THE EEV. W. B. CLAEKE, M.A., F.G.S., &c. 307 

of the earth's crust is stable, in consequence of the continual 
motion of the mineral particles. I must now draw upon your 
patience in order to make a few further practical remarks. 

It might be supposed that most of the phenomena mentioned 
in this paper have died out, and that no actual instability, such 
as changes of level, are now going on. 

If it did not carry ine out of my present field altogether, I 
could easily prove that there are undoubted evidences of 
considerable changes of level of a quasi-permanent character 
about Moreton Bay, and in the southern part of this territory, and 
in Victoria, as well as in South and in West Australia. 

But there are other such changes going on nearer our own 
homes changes which, however inappreciable by the eye of a 
common observer, are yet capable of being measured by the 
delicate contrivances of our colleague, the Government astronomer. 
He can tell you that there are invisible forces at work which 
betray their existence by effects that derange his close calculations 
and defy his grasp. And whether those are all external, as 
produced by expansion of the rocks by solar heat or contraction 
by cold, or by the action of rain water filtering through fissures, 
and so introducing or removing extraneous matter, or whether 
there is still an expansion or contraction under such normal 
transmutation as was mentioned when I began, this is undoubted, 
that the Astronomer does not know at what horizon he can fix his 
level of the foundation for his instruments, nor does he know 
whether to-morrow it will be where it was this morning. 

No doubt this is not confined to Sydney Observatory, but 
is common to others, proving that the fact itself belongs to a 
general and not to a local law one which is, of course, modified 
in its application by the peculiar structure, texture, and condi- 
tions of the rocks of each locality. 

I do not doubt that my first views on this question are sus- 
tainable, and that, although there may be general causes at 
work, there are also local circumstances that render the present 
site of the Observatory an unfortunate one. 

In the days of the late Captain Stanley and Admiral King, I 
united with those officers in urging the necessity of placing the 
Observatory upon a wider base of rock, such as the North Shore 


affords ; and I have since accompanied my friend Mr. Smalley 
to a spot which Captain Stanley and myself examined together 
and which he approved. 

Whether in the progress of ages any such transmutation as 
has been discussed to-night, will be detected in the Flagstaff-hill, 
and which we have seen to exist elsewhere, no one can foresee. 
But if the views now expressed of the processes by which the trans- 
mutation of rocks is produced, viz., slowly acting forces and moderate 
temperatures during long periods of time, be correct, we shall come 
to the conclusion to which we are brought by many other inde- 
pendent lines of reasoning, and which close observers have not 
failed to enunciate, that, though the epochs during which the 
earth has existed is but a moment compared with the eternity of 
its Creator, it is still, in comparison with the past period of man's 
existence, of inconceivable antiquity. 

P.S. Such persons as feel an interest in the subject discussed in the pre- 
ceding remarks, will be amply gratified by studying the researches of M. 
Delesse, in his "Etudes sur le Metamorphisme des Roches (Paris, 1858,)" a 
work full of instructive details. 

In the "Bulletin de la Societe Geoloyique de France" 2nde Serie, Tomes 
i, iii, iv, vi, will be found much valuable matter on the same and allied 
topics in papers and notes by MM. Virlet d' Aoust, Neree Boubee, Durocher, 
and others. M. le Vicomts d' Archiac has also some useful observations 
(see Tom. v. p. 3) in his admirable work " Histoire des Progres de la Geologie 
(1853.)" These are the principal authorities, with the exception of Herr 
Scheerer, to whom I have looked for foreign facts on which to base a 
comparison of my Australian examples. The circumstances under which 
this paper has been committed to the press, have hindered more particular 
references in place. 

W. B. C. 

St. Leonard's, 

11th April, 1866. 



Helena- Scott 


On the Oology of Australia, 

[Read 5th July, 1865.] 

BEFORE Mr. Gould entered upon his magnificent work, there 
seems to have been very little done in Australian Ornithology. 

In fact, the subject, although one of the greatest interest, was, 
as a whole, almost entirely neglected. In Dr. Shaw's " Zoology 
of New Holland," only a few plates are devoted to the subject, 
which were taken from specimens in collections made by Sir 
Joseph Banks, during Captain Cook's first voyage. 

Some figures again have been given in the " early voyages of 
Phillip, White, Collins, and King ; and Lewin's " Birds of New 
Holland " contain only about 25 or 30 plates." 

Vigors and Horsfield commenced a work upon the Birds of 
Australia in the collection of the Linnean Society, the largest 
collection then existing, but unfortunately they did not proceed 
beyond the true Honey-eaters. (Meliphagidce.) 

Descriptions of Australian species have also appeared in the 
works of various authors, such as Cuvier, Latham, Shaw, and 
Vieillot, but many of these are meagre, and in some instances 

Thus, no general or reliable history of this portion of our 
Fauna had been undertaken before May 1838, when Mr. Gould 
left England for Australia, there, personally, to investigate the 
manners and habits of our birds in their native state. And we 
see with what great success his efforts have been crowned ; 
exceeding even his own most sanguine expectations, for at the 
close of his magnificent work, we find that through his instru- 
mentality, no less than upwards of 360 new species have been 
discovered and figured, (thereby raising the number to 650 



Among which, he states, " are comprised many forms remark- 
able for their novelty, the anomalous character of their structure, 
and the singularity of their habits, such as the Bower-birds 
(PtilonorJiynclii and OJilamyderce,) and the mound raising birds, 
(Leipoa, Talegalla, and Megapodius,)" errors concerning which 
have been all rectified in his work. 

No part of Australia is better suited for bird-life than New South 
Wales, and from the brushes, scrubs, and belts of luxuriant vegeta- 
tion found all along the coast, between the mountains and the sea, 
one would naturally expect to find New South Wales tenanted 
by a fauna peculiar to itself. This is really the case : New South 
Wales is inhabited by a greater number of species than any other 
part of Australia, although the species strictly peculiar to it are 
less in number than those peculiar to Northern Australia. Upon 
examining Gould's table of the distribution of species, we find 
that 385 are known to inhabit New South Wales ; 289 South 
Australia; 243 Western Australia; 230 Northern Australia; 
and 181 are found in Van Dieman's Land. Of these 88 are 
peculiar to New jSouth Wales ; 76 to South Australia ; 36 to 
Western Australia; 105 to Northern Australia; and 32 are 
peculiar to Van Dieman's Land ; 33 being found in all parts of 

By the term peculiar Mr. Gould does not imply that such 
species are strictly confined to their respective countries, but, 
that as far as is yet known, they have not been found else- 
where. As the character of the soil differs and varies considerably, 
so each dissimilar district is clothed with a different style of 
vegetation, and each has, as it were, a Zoology of its own. For 
instance, the lofty Eucalypti are tenanted by the honey-loving 
Parakeets (Triclioglossi) and some Ptiloti. The Banksice swarm 
at various seasons of the year with the true honey-eaters, 
(Meliphagidce.} The Fig trees are resorted to by the Regent and 
Satin-birds, and the Ptilinopi. The Palms by the large fruit- 
eating Pigeons (Carpopliagce), and the beautiful Lopliolaimus. 
In the dense scrubs we find the Brush Turkey and Leipoa, and 
on the grassy slopes and plains, the Ground Parrots and terres- 
trial Doves, while the densely wooded spurs of the mountains 
and gullies, are traversed by Lyre-birds and the Orthonyx. 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 311 

Most of the Old World birds are beautifully represented 
with us : The Merlin and Kestrel of Europe, by our Falco 
frontatus and Tinnunculus cenchroides. The European Osprey, 
by Pandion leucocephalus ; the sparrow-hawk, (Accipiter nisus) 
by our bird of the same genus, Accipiter torquatus, which is 
found throughout the whole of Australia. We also have our 
Plovers, and Dottrells, one Avocet, and one stilted Plover. 
Among the Water-birds, the Grebes and Cormorants of Europe 
are also well represented by Phalacrocorax carboides, Podiceps 
gularis, and P. Australis. 

In addition to having most of the European genera repre- 
sented with us, few countries can boast of so many distinct genera 
peculiar to itself as Australia, such, for instance, as ^Eyotheles, 
Pardalotus, Strepera, Gymnorhina, Grallina, Pteropodocys, 
Paclnjcepliala, Colluncincla, Falcunculus, Oreoica, Menura, 
Psophodes, Origma, Malurus, Pyrrholcemus, Struthidea, Ptilonor- 
liynclius, Chlamydera, Licmetis, Calyptorhynchus, Platycercus, 
Eupliema, Nymphicus, ScytJirops, Myzantha, Anthochcera, 
Entomyza, Sittella, Climacteris, Leipoa, Pedionomus, Talegalla, 
Tribonyx, Cereopsis, Anseranas, and Biarittra, &c., &c. 

Some species are universally dispersed over the whole 
country, from North and Western Australia to Yan Dieman's 
Land, as Corvus Coronoides, Iclitliijaetus leiicogaster, Milviis affinis, 
Chelidon arborea, Phaps chalcoptera. The Emu, (Dromaius 
SorcB Hollandice) and the Bronze cuckoo, (Clialcits lucidus,) a 
migratory species, which also pays an annual visit to New 
Zealand. Others again are, as far as is yet known, confined to 
particular parts. 

In New South Wales we have Aquila, ? Horpliridides, Podaargus 
humeralis, Enjtlrrodryas rosea, Eopsaltria australis, Menura 
superba, Psophodes crepitans, Nalurus Lamberti, Eptliianura tricolor 
Origma rubricata. Polytelis barrabandi, &c. In South 
Australia, Malurus melanotus, Ptilotis cratitia, X&rophila 
leucopsis, and both Western Australia and North Australia have 
also birds peculiar to those parts. 

In taking a general view of the Australian Fauna, we find a 
very marked deficiency in the Raptores or birds of prey. The 
whole of these, including the hawks and owls both noc- 


turnal and diurnal, comprise only 37 species, among which 
we find only one of the restricted genus Aquila or True eagles ; 
no vulture of any kind, and only two kites, Milvus affinis 
and M. issurus. Among the nocturnal owls, however, those 
belonging to the genus Strix, are more numerous than in any 
other country, comprising no less than four species, whereas 
other countries are provided with only one species of this useful 

Among the perchers, the insectivora are greatly in excess ; 
of the Podargi there are 6 species, the Honey-eaters (MeUphagidce) 
include more than 20 genera and 63 species, while of the Maluridce, 
which are among the most beautiful and brilliantly colored of our 
Australian birds, there are 13 species. 

The Fringillidce (finches) are found in great numbers ; and the 
Psittacidce extremely numerous, more so than in any other country. 
They form four great groups, the Calijptorijticlii, Cacatuce, 
Trichoglossi, and ground Parrots. 

The Calyptorlmjnclii procure the greater part of their food from 
the Banksice and Casuarina, the small branches of which may 
frequently be found torn open by these birds in search of Lepi- 
dopterous and other Larva3 ; nor are even the woody nuts of the 
BanJcsice proof against their immensely powerful jaws, but are 
split open and the white kernel eagerly devoured. Of Calyp- 
torhynchus there are at least 7 species known, and all, I believe, 
inhabit Australia. 

The Cacatuce number six species. The Triclioglossi subsist 
chiefly upon the honey procured from the flower-cups of the 
Eucalypti, and the Ground parrots, which include the genera, 
EupJiema, Platycercus, Psephotus, Melopsittacus, Nymphicus, and 
Pezoporus, are all peculiar to Australia. The united groups of 
these comprise 60 species. 

While the Gallinacea are few, being only represented by two 
genera of which jointly there are only 5 species ; the Pigeons 
and Hemipodes are very numerous, and many of the former, such 
as the Carpophagce and the Ptilinopi are very beautiful. The 
Procellaridce which are found visiting the whole of our coast, 
are also in species more numerous than in any other part of the 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 313 

The matter forming the preceding paragraphs has been for 
the most part extracted from Gould's " Birds of Australia." I 
have, however, thought it desirable to introduce them here in 
order to afford a general view of the character of Australian 

Now, while so much has been said about the birds themselves, 
I find that their habits and economy as connected with their nidi- 
fication, are but imperfectly understood, and that the nests and 
eggs even of many of our most common species, remain still 
un described. 

It is this part of our Ornithology then, viz. : The " Oology of 
our Australian Birds," to which I intend paying particular 
attention, for indeed there is little or no hope of finding new 
species within a considerable distance of Sydney. I have fre- 
quently heard it regretted that collections of Australian birds' 
eggs are not more numerous ; and that those which are occasion- 
ally made, seldom contain more than fifty or sixty species. Most 
of our birds have the credit of only laying two eggs at a sitting ; 
though even if such were the case, they make up for this short- 
coming by having two or three broods in the year. I find, however, 
that three eggs, are upon the average, laid by our birds. The 
Honey-eaters lay two or three ; the Acanthizce, Maluri, and 
Chthonicola three or four ; Larks three. The Quails are great 
layers ; the Parrots also, often lay from eight to ten eggs ; 
most of the King-fishers lay four or five ; and the Finches six or 

Many of the nests of our birds are most beautiful, and as well 
worth collecting as the eggs. Nothing can surpass the neat- 
ness, warmth, and at the same time, the strength of the nests of 
some of our Acanthizce. And it is not less interesting to observe 
the peculiar structure and material used in the formation of those 
of the White-winged chough, (Corcorax leucopterus) and of the 
Grallina, which are composed of mud with grass to strengthen 
them, a compost which will harden in time to an almost incredible 
degree, when exposed to the rays of the sun. Upon one occa- 
sion, I threw one of the large basin- shaped nests of the Chough to 
the ground from a height of more than thirty feet without its 



Besides the Chough and Grallina, we have another bird 
which builds its nest of mud, upon a horizontal bough ; 
this is the Strutliidea cinerea, a bird not found in this district, its 
habitat being the South Eastern portion of the interior. Mr. 
Gould quoting from Mr. Gilbert's journal, states that the nests 
of the StrutJiidea are similar to those of the Grallina, and placed 
in like situations upon a horizontal bough ; those found by Mr. 
Gilbert had a thick lining of grass, more than is usually found in 
the nests of the Grallina, and one of them contained four eggs, 
" the medium length of which was one inch and a quarter by 
seven-eighths of an inch in breadth ; their colour was white, with 
blotches, principally at the larger end, of reddish brown, purplish 
gray, and greenish gray, some of the blotches appearing as if 
they had been laid on with a soft brush." 

I might mention many other nests equally curious and beauti- 
ful, but will proceed to those more immediately connected with 
our plate. It may be imagined that the figures are too highly 
coloured, but those who have taken eggs themselves, will know 
how greatly the specimens fade. The bloom of the more brightly 
tinted goes off in a few days, while some even lose their original 
colour altogether, and turn as in the case of the Pied robin, 
(Petroica ? bicolor) from green to a dull brown ; I might cite 
numerous other instances, for nearly all the eggs fade consider- 
ably, even when kept from the light in close boxes. I have tried 
various means to remedy this, but without success. Gum, if laid 
on thickly, causes some to keep their colour, but imparts an 
unnatural gloss, which does not improve their appearance at all. 
The best way, upon the whole, is to empty them carefully, and if 
possible, without using water ; when an egg is once wet, it 
immediately loses its bloom : sucking has this in its favour, that 
the contents may be withdrawn through almost an invisible hole. 
Many people use a complete set of instruments for egg-blowing, 
but these, although useful and handy, may very well be dispensed 

The paintings from which the figures on Plate I. were litho- 
graphed and colored, have been executed by Mrs. Edward Forde, 
and were, with the exception of the three first, (Nos. 1, 2, and 3) 
painted from specimens at most only three or four days from the 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 315 

nests, so that by these means I have secured correct and unfaded 
colors. As far as I am aware, none of these have been figured 
before in any publication ; and even if they have, we know that 
the descriptions and coloring must have been taken from faded 
specimens, unless the author has taken the same precaution and 
had them painted within a few days after they were laid. 

Some of our species breed very early, commencing in July, 
and often continue until December. The early breeding birds, 
such as some of the Acantkizce and Eopsaltrice, and many of 
the Fly-catchers, have their second brood in October, and very 
often a third in December. So that if the eggs of our Austra- 
lian birds are few in number, they certainly make up for it in 
the number of broods which they have ; I have been informed 
by some of my old school-fellows, that they have taken no less 
than eight nests from one pair of birds during the season, as 
soon as one nest was taken, the birds constructing another, and 
so on, until the birds had built eight separate nests, and laid 
fifteen eggs. And I have myself, in the case of what we con- 
sidered rare birds, taken four or five nests from the same pair. 
A curious fact relating to some species, is, that they are found 
breeding before their plumage reaches the colour of the adult 
birds. Whether these are the young in their first year, or 
whether these species take two or three years before arriving 
at the plumage of the adult, I have not yet determined ; from 
the plumage alone, one would judge them to be the young in 
their first year. I am not alluding to such birds as the males 
of the Satin and Regent birds, &c., which we well know take 
t\vo or three years before appearing in the livery of the adult, 
but to certain species of the genera Acanthiza and Melithreptus, 
the generality of which obtain their livery at the end of the 
first year, but which I have found breeding while yet in the first 
year's plumage. 

Much perplexity has arisen on account of naturalists finding 
young birds breeding while in first year's plumage, supposing, 
naturally enough, that they were adult birds, and consequently 
considering them as new species. 



The Temporal Pomatorhinus. (Gould, B. Austr., Vol. IV., pi. 20.) 
PI. I., Fig. 1. 

The genus Pomatorhinus is well represented in Australia, but 
the great 'strong hold of this tribe is the south-eastern portion of 
Asia, and the Islands throughout, to the North of Australia. From 
what I can learn from the notes of various authors, upon the 
Asiatic members of this genus, I find that our Australian 
species seem to form a separate and distinct group, differing in 
their habits and nidification, and chiefly in the curious markings 
of their eggs, in which all our species closely resemble each other. 
From these facts alone they quite merit their separation into 
another genus. 

Four species of Pomatorhinus are found inhabiting Australia : 
P. superciliosus, P. ruftceps, and P. temporalis, the eastern and 
southern parts ; and P. ruberculus the northern portion, where it 
takes the place of P. temporalis of New South Wales. P. 
superciliosus enjoys an extensive range of habitat, being found 
equally plentiful in Western Australia. P. ruftceps was dis- 
covered by a German Emigrant in South Australia ; its habitat 
is chiefly the borders of the Darling and Murray Rivers. 

The Pomatorhini have been placed by most authors among 
the Honey-eaters (MeUphagidce) ; but Mr. Gould informs us (after 
a careful study of habitats and economy) that they have no 
affinity to that tribe whatever, he has therefore placed them in 
a separate family, between the CorvidoB and Meliphagidce, and I 
can myself testify that as far as our Australian Pomatorhini are 
concerned, they neither assimilate in their habits, actions, or 
nidificajtion, to any of the numerous genera of Honey -eaters, for 
which Australia is so famous. 

In Fig 1, is a very good representation of the eggs of P. 
temporalis. I found this, which is about the largest species, very 
plentiful on the Bell River, also in the districts of Wellington, 
and the Lachlan. They are usually met with in small troops, 
and not unfrequently on the ground, over which they hop and 
run with surprising agility and ease, and where they procure the 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 317 

greater part of their food. They are very pleasing and active in 
their movements, bat very garrulous and noisy, especially when 
disturbed. Sometimes a troop may be seen gently feeding upon 
the ground, hopping over it with a quick and easy motion, until 
some more watchful individual will give the alarm by a hoarse 
guttural cry, which is immediately taken up by the rest, as they 
fly off, emitting a garrulous croaking noise, to the nearest tree, 
settling upon the slanting trunks, hopping upwards by degrees 
and chasing each other to the ends of the highest boughs, from 
which they will often fly off, one after the other, to repeat the 
same actions elsewhere. 

They breed chiefly in September, October, and November, 
making a large coarse nest of twigs slightly interwoven ; the 
lower part is much rounded, the upper rather elongated, and 
sometimes drawn into a neck, the back twigs being brought 
forward so as almost completely to hide the small opening, which 
has, as it were, a thatch of twigs over its entrance. Very often 
too the twigs from the lower side project upwards, rendering it 
(seemingly) almost impossible for the bird to enter without 
disarranging them. 

It is lined with a great quantity of grass or stringy bark, with 
which the eggs are frequently covered when the birds leave their 
nests. The top of some bushy tree, or the end of some thickly 
branched bough are the sites chosen for the nests, which, when 
in the former situations, are placed nearly upright, but when in 
the latter, upon their sides, being built of course to suit the 
boughs in which they are placed. 

Several nests may be found within a few yards of each other 
in the same clump of trees, with birds sitting in each of them. 
The number of the eggs found in a nest varies from 5 to 10. 
My brother, Mr. James Ramsay, informs me that he has taken 
no less than fourteen from one nest, and in these cases believes 
them to be the joint property of several birds ; the usual number, 
however, is 5, which are either much elongated or rounded in 
form, and not un frequently have the ends of equal thickness ; 
the medium size is one inch in length, by 9 lines in breadth. 
The ground colour is brownish, yellowish, or purplish-buff, 
covered with a most peculiar network of veins and hair lines, 


running in various directions, both across and round the surface ; 
these lines are of a dark purplish brown. The colouring matter 
has the peculiarity of being easily rubbed off. 

Mr. Gould remarks : " The markings of the eggs may be 
more easily imagined, by supposing a hair or hairs to have been 
carelessly drawn over them after having been dipped in ink." 


The White-eyebrowed PomatorMnus. (Gould, B. Austr., 

Vol. IV., pi. 22.) 

PL L, Fig. 2. 

All that I have said with respect to the habits and actions of 
the former species, may equally well be applied to this. It is 
not, however, such a noisy species, nor found in such large 
troops. The nest is similar to that of P. temper alis, but smaller ; 
and has the entrance more completely covered by a thatch of 
twigs. The eggs are three or five in number ; their usual length 
is 10| or 11 lines, by 7J to 8 lines in breadth ; some are rounded 
in form, others more elongated. The ground color is of a brown- 
ish gray tinged with olive, clouded with purplish brown and 
greyish olive, and sparingly veined with dark bistre. Some 
specimens are of a uniform dull greyish olive brown, clouded 
with a deeper hue, and without veins, and have a clouded band 
round the centre. Like the foregoing species, this is frequently 
found upon the ground, hopping about with the greatest agility 
under the trees, especially during the early part of the day ; when 
flushed they fly off to the nearest tree, and commence to ascend 
it by a series of hops and jumps until they reach the end of the 
boughs, from which they fly off in a string. They are very 
sprightly and quick in their movements, and have the peculiarity 
of drawing their heads in and puffing out their feathers as they 
ascend the branches, looking like a number of brown balls bounc- 
ing among the limbs. 

This species has a wide range of habitat, being found equally 
common on the Darling, Lachlan, Bell, and Murray Rivers, as 
well as over the whole southern portion of the country, and 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 319 

in Western Australia. Upon the Bell Kiver, and near the Lachlan, 
I found them very plentiful in company with the P. temporalis, 
and have frequently found several nests of both species built in the 
same clump of trees, for which purpose they show preference to 
the thick bushy tops of a species of Acacia, allied to the " Myall." 

Mr. Or. Krefffc informs me that the nest and eggs of the 
P. ruficeps so closely resemble those of the P. superciliosus, that 
the one description will answer for both species. The eggs of the 
P. ruficeps have, however, more commonly a clouded band round 
the centre, which is also visible in some specimens of the eggs of 
P. superciliosus. 

Specimens sent to me from the Darling River, as the eggs of 
P. ruficeps, are somewhat larger than one would expect from the 
size of the bird, and are lighter in colour, clouded with a purple 
brown, with a very few streaks of a darker hue, in length 10 lines 
by 7^. The eggs of P. rubeculus I have not yet seen. This species 
is confined to the northern portion of Australia, where it takes 
the place of the P. temporalis of New South Wales. P. iemporalis 
is the oldest known species, and was described by Latham under 
the name of Turd/us frivolus. 


The Wart-faced Honey-eater. (Gould, B. Austr., Vol. IV., pi. 41.) 
PI. I., Fig. 3. 

Although this species was at one time plentiful in our neigh- 
bourhood, it has of late years become rare, and can now only be 
looked upon as an occasional visitor. I found a few specimens 
feeding in the Eucalyptus trees the year before last (1863), but 
had not previously seen any since June, 1859, when they arrived 
in great numbers, and literally swarmed in the swamp-mahogany 
trees, Eucalyptus sp., which were then in bloom, their bright 
yellow and black plumage contrasting beautifully with the green 
foliage and still greener plumage of the various Parakeets, with 
which the tree was crowded. * 

* ISince these notes were written, this species has again visited us in 
immense numbers, and many pairs have remained and bred in the neighbour- 
hood of Sydney, their stay lasting from August to December, 1865. 


I met with numerous flocks of this species last year near 
Braidwood, traversing the bush from one blossom tree to another, 
squabbling and fighting with almost every Soldier Bird they came 
across, for they are rather inclined to be pugnacious, and will 
often indulge their propensity, particularly upon the smaller 
Honey-eaters, which manfully attack them in return. 

They are usually very plentiful in the neighbourhood of the 
Bogan River. During my last visit to those parts I succeeded in 
finding several nests, and was not long in procuring their eggs also. 
As I expected, upon climbing up to the nests, I was immediately 
attacked by not only the parent birds but also by several of their 
feathered friends, attracted by the cries of their mates, all gallant- 
ly keeping up the attack until T had reached the ground again, 
snapping their bills so close to my face that I stood no small chance 
of having my ears pecked off, and always flying at me from behind. 

The nest is a neat cup-shaped structure composed of stringy 
bark, and lined with finer shreds of the same material. It is 2^ 
inches across inside, by 1J inch deep, and placed between the 
upright forks of some tall sapling, or upon a horizontal bough. 
They breed during November and December, or perhaps earlier 
in some localities, and lay two or three eggs 10 to 11 J lines long, 
by 8J to 9 lines in breadth. These, when freshly taken, are cer- 
tainly among the most beautiful I have ever met with ; but 
unfortunately, as in most bird's eggs, the bloom goes off, and 
the bright tint soon fades. 

From my note book, I find that when first taken from the nest 
they are of a deep saturnine buff, spotted with irregular markings 
of a deeper hue, in some, evenly distributed over their surface, in 
others, more crowded at the larger end ; there are also a few indis- 
tinct dots of greyish lilac dispersed over the surface ; but these 
lilac dots are not visible in all specimens. I have one, however, 
in which greyish lilac spots predominate. The specimen from 
which the figure on our plate (PI. I., Fig. 3) has been taken, is the 
largest and finest of its species that I have ever seen : all, however, 
are not of this form, some being more lengthened and less rounded. 

This species of Honey- eater was one of the first known, and 
was described under various names, and placed in several genera 
by as many different authors ; but as its habits and economy 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 321 

became more perfectly understood, and ornithologists began to 
classify their birds more from their habits, &c., this species 
was finally placed among the Honey-eaters, and a new genus 
formed for its reception, viz : that of Xanthomyza, of which, 
at present, it is the only species known. The curious 
miniature wart-like excrescences round the eyes and ears, have 
gained it the colonial name of the Wart-faced Honey -eater, 
while from its black and yellow plumage, it is called also the 
Mock Regent-bird. 


The Fuscous Honey -eater. (Gould, B. Austr., Vol. IV., pi. 44. 
PL L, Fig. 4. 

Of the genus Ptilotis, there are at present 16 species known, 
being the most numerous group of the Australian Meliphagidce. 
" Nearly all the species (says Mr. Gould) are prettily marked about 
the face, or have the ear-coverts largely developed, and character- 
ized by a coloring different from that of the other part of the 

Although the members of this genus are among the most 
brilliantly coloured of the tribe, this species has nothing in its 
plumage to recommend it, which may account for its being some- 
what overlooked. I find little or no mention of its habits or 
economy, and nothing of its nidification, even in Mr. Gould's 
magnificent work ; although it is one of the most common species 
of our Sydney birds. 

The fuscous Honey-eater breeds in September and the three 
following months, making a neat cup-shaped nest of stringy-bark, 
strengthened by the addition of a great quantity of cobweb ; it is 
lined with fine shreds of bark, hair, and sometimes the silky 
down from the seed-vessels of the wild cotton, (Gomphocarpus 
fruticosus.) It is usually placed among the twigs at the end of 
some horizontal bough, or among the bushy tops of the young 
Eucalypti. The Turpentine trees, (Syncarpia) also afford favorite 
sites for their nests, which are 2 J inches across by 2 inches deep. 
The eggs are two in number, from 8| to 10 lines long, by 


6 to 7 lines in breadth ; the ground color is of a deep yellowish 
buff, with spots of a deeper and more reddish hue, and a few of 
faint lilac, in some sprinkled equally over the whole surface, in 
others crowded, or forming a cone at the larger end. 

In painting these eggs, as well as those of Xanthomyza 
ptirygia, the true tint of color is only to be obtained by using 
light Saturnine red. The ground color of the eggs of Ptilotis 
fusca, upon fading, becomes flesh-yellow, and the markings 
yellowish or reddish brown, the lilac almost disappearing. 

These Honey-eaters are usually found during the winter 
months, in small groups of from 5 to 10 in number ; it is not a 
migratory species, but remains with us all the year round, and is 
one of the numerous birds which frequent gardens ; it may be 
found in the orchards, either when the trees are in full bloom, 
flying round the blossoms in search of insects, or when the fruit 
is ripe. They seem to have a decided preference for the sweet 
juice of pears. This species of Honey-eater is, I believe, strictly 
confined to New South Wales. 


TlieYellow-iufted Honey-eater. (Gould, B. Austr.,Vol.IV., pi. 37.) 

PI. I, Fig. 5. 

This beautiful Honey-eater is one of our most common species, 
and found very abundantly in the neighbourhood of Ashficld and 
Parramatta. It shows a decided preference for the more open 
parts of the bush clothed with underwood of Acacia and young 
Eucalypti, rather than the thick scrubby parts nearer Sydney. 

Like most of the genus, the yellow-tufted Honey-eaters are 
very partial to fruit, and during the season, they resort to the 
gardens in great numbers, accompanied by many other species, 
and may often be seen squabbling over the over-ripe pears and 
oranges. They are very fond of exercising their pugnacious pro- 
pensity upon the larger birds, Hawks, Owls, and even the 
sleepy-looking Goat-suckers are quickly attacked as soon as 
perceived ; even their own species, when wounded, and crying 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 323 

out, come in for a share of their dislike. Often a dozen or 
more may be seen clustering upon a bough huddling up together, 
pecking at, and fighting with, each other, or screeching, as if 
holding a jubilee over some common enemy. 

This is not a migratory species, but is always to be found 
throughout the whole year, and breeds much earlier than the 
generality of the tribe. We have eggs taken in the early part 
of June, and others found in October, November, and December. 
They have two, and sometimes three broods during the year ; 
August and September being their favorite months for breeding. 

With respect to its nidification (I will quote what I have 
already said upon the subject in vol. vi. of the " Ibis " page 244,) 
" I find upon referring to my note-book, that we captured two 
young, well able to fly, on July 18th, 1863 ; but during some 
seasons birds breed much earlier than in others. 

The nest is a neat but somewhat bulky structure, open above, 
and composed of strips of stringy bark, lined with finer shreds of 
the same material, and the silky down from the wild cotton 

The site selected is usually some low bushy shrub, among the 
thick tufts of the Bleclmum, (B. Cartilaginum) or carefully hidden 
in the thick rich clusters of the beautiful Tecoma Australia. The 
ferns and Tecoma seem their favorite places for nestling ; among 
the clumps of the former, we have frequently found 3 or 4 nests 
within a few yards of each other, fastened to the stems and leaves 
of the ferns : sometimes they will place their nests among the 
dead leafy tops of a fallen Eucalyptus, or in gardens among the 
prickly branches of the orange trees ; they may be also found, 
not unfrequently, suspended in a fork of the bough of a small 
bushy forest oak. 

The total lengths of the nests are generally 3 or 4 inches by 
3J in diameter, being inside 2 inches deep by If or 2 wide. The 
eggs, which are usually two in number, are of a pale flesh-pink 
tinged with yellowish buff, deeper at the thick end where they 
are spotted or blotched with markings much deeper in hue, and 
of a reddish-brown tint. In some, the markings form a zone 
near the larger end, in others, an irregular patch, with a few 
dots sprinkled over the rest of the surface ; when freshly taken 


they have a beautiful flush of pink ; some specimens are almost 
without marking of any kind, and like the eggs of most of our 
Australian birds, vary considerably in form. The usual length is 
from 9 to 11 lines by 7| to 8 lines in breadth. 

In the nests of this Honey-eater, we occasionally find the eggs 
of a Cuckoo, (Cuculus inornatus) which closely resemble those 
of the Honey-eater, they may be distinguished however, by being 
of a uniform pale flesh-color or of a yellowish-bun , and seldom 
having spots or markings of any kind. We have one speci- 
men of this egg, which has a very few dots of deep blackish and 
reddish brown ; in length they are 11 f lines by 8 \ in breadth. A 
few days after the young Cuckoo is hatched, it commences to 
grow very rapidly, and soon fills up the greater part of the 
nest, unceremoniously treading on its foster brethren, and eagerly 
swallowing the greater share of the food which the parent-birds 
bring them, until the unfortunate rightful owners of the nest are 
either starved to death, or smothered by the weight of its body, 
and as soon as dead, are thrown out by the parent-birds, which 
seem to be quite proud of their foster nestling. This species of 
Cuckoo will sometimes deposit an egg in the nest of other Honey- 
eaters, as we have found them in those of Melithrept'iis linulatus, 
Ptilotis chrysops, and P. fusca. And upon one occasion an egg 
was found in the nest of Zosttrops dorsalis. 

On the 30th January, 1864, I shot a very beautiful variety of 
the yellow tufted Honey-eater, of a pale yellow color above and 
below, having the ear-coverts and tufts, front and sides of the 
head, the throat, outer webs of the tail, and wing-feathers brighter 
and of a deeper yellow, the shafts of all the feathers white, bill 
and claws brownish horn color, irides dull slate blue, feet and legs 
bluish lead color. This was not the only specimen, there were 
two others about the garden at the same time, but not in company 
with it. They seemed to be much scouted by the rest of their 
species, feeding quietly by themselves and not crying out at all. 
Several times, while I was about to shoot one of these Albinos, a 
yellow-breasted Robin, (Eopsaltria Australis) perched close beside 
it, took an inquisitive look in its face, and then, with a harsh 
squeak flew off again, as if quite disgusted with such a " freak of 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 305 


The Restless Fly-catcher. (Gould, B., Austr., Vol. II., pi. 181.) 
PL L, Fig. 6. 

This pretty Fly- catcher which is distributed over the whole 
of the South-eastern and Western portion of Australia, is one of 
our most interesting and lively species ; among most school-boys 
it . is known in New South Wales under the name of the Land- 
Wagtail, in contradistinction, I suppose, to the Water- Wagtail, 
(Eliipidura Motacilloides) to which it closely assimilates in plumage, 
nidification, and habits ; and indeed, the name is not altogether 
inappropriate, inasmuch as the present species prefers to build its 
nest far away from the water, and not unfrequently high up 
among the branches of the trees, whereas that of the Water- 
Wagtail, is nearly always found in the vicinity of some creek or 
river, very often on a bough overhanging the water and within 
a few inches of its surface. 

The restless Fly-catcher, is not a migratory species. During 
the winter months it frequents the gardens and orchards, 
and becomes exceedingly tame ; it is often seen around the 
out-houses and yards, and not nnfrequently hopping over the 
backs of the cattle and horses, doubtless in search of flies ; it is 
always on the move, and well merits its name ; runs lightly and 
quickly over the ground, wagging its long tail from side to side 
as it goes along. 

Its note is loud and clear, but it also indulges in a guttural sort 
of squeak, uttered when flying, or settling on a bough, in addition 
to this, it has also a peculiar habit of poising itself in the air a few 
feet from the ground, and during this operation, emits a sort of 
gurgling sound not unlike the sharpening of an instrument on a 
grind- stone, on account of which, it has obtained the name of 
" The Grinder." This ceremony finishes by the bird darting 
down to the ground, seizing some worm or caterpillar, and flying 
off, uttering a loud squeak of satisfaction. Whether this is a sort 
of jubilation over some fine fat worm which it has espied lurking 
in the grass, I leave to others who understand the language of 
birds to decide. 



The nest of this Fly-catcher, like those of most of the tribe, is 
round and cap-shaped, 2| to 3 inches across by 1J deep, and 
placed upon a horizontal bough over a fork, or by the side of an 
npright twig, it is chiefly composed of bark and grass, neatly 
interwoven ; the lining is of grass, hair, or roots, and the edges 
often ornamented with lichen, fastened on by cobweb. It is 
usually placed at a considerable distance from the ground, and 
often at the end of some dead bough. 

The eggs are two or three in number, from 9 to 10 J lines in 
length, by 7J in breadth, rather rounded in form, having the 
ground color of a dull white, stained with spots and blotches of 
dull chestnut-brown and greyish lilac, the latter appearing as if 
beneath the surface. In most of the specimens, the spots form 
only a distinct zone nearer the larger end, but in some, are 
sprinkled over the whole surface. The birds are for the most 
part found breeding in October, November, and December, but 
sometimes earlier or later, as they feel inclined. They have two 
broods in the year. 


The Yellow-breasted Eobin. (Gould, B., Austr., Vol. III., pi. 11.) 
PI. I., Figs. 7 and 8. 

The nest of this species much resembles in form, those of the 
true Australian Robins of the genus Petroica, to which the birds 
also closely assimilate in their movements and habits, with the 
exception that the Eopsaltrice are lovers of the more unfrequented 
parts of the bush, while nearly all the members of the genus 
Petroica prefer the open and half cleared patches of land. 

The nests of the yellow-breasted Robin are either placed in 
the upright fork of some small tree, or built upon some horizontal 
bough, often within two or three feet of the ground. It is a 
beautifully round and cup-shaped structure, 3 inches high by 2 
inches across and 1| deep, composed of strips of bark, and lined, 
most frequently, with the narrow thread like leaves of the native 
oak, (Gasuarina) and a few dry leaves of the Eucalypti. The 
edges and parts of the outside are studded with small pieces of 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 327 

the mouse-ear lichen, and hanging from the sides, are long chips 
of bark, some of them 4 inches or more in length and | an inch 
wide, fastened on one above the other with cobweb, the lowest of 
them reaching several inches below the bottom of the nest. 

The eggs, which are two or three in number, are of an apple 
green, or light greenish-blue color, spotted, blotched, or minutely 
dotted with deep brownish-red, yellow-brown, and obsolete spots 
of faint lilac. Some are thickly speckled all over so as almost to 
hide the ground color, and in these the yellowish-brown markings 
predominate ; others are distinctly spotted, or have a zone of 
dots, or one large blotch at the thicker end without any other 
markings. They are in length 10 J to 11 lines by 7 to 7| in 
breadth, and are usually found in September and the three 
following months. 

Mr. Gould, in his " Birds of Australia," figures four species 
of Eopsaltria, two from Western Australia, but the other two, 
E. capita, and the one at present under consideration, 
(E. Australis,) are confined to the Eastern portion of our continent. 

The yellow-breasted Robin is very common in the neighbour- 
hood of Sydney, it prefers the thickly wooded parts of the bush, 
although it is sometimes found in the gardens and orchards. Its 
flight is short and rapid, and seems to be scarcely brought into use 
more than is necessary to flit from one tree to another. It is 
seldom seen among the higher branches of the trees, keeping 
near the ground where it obtains the greater part of its food. It 
is an extremely tame bird, scarcely troubling itself to get out of 
your way. If there is any " clearing " going on in the bush, or 
a woodman splitting timber, there also will be found our yellow- 
breasted friend perched transversely against the upright stem of 
the nearest tree, waiting for any grub or caterpiller that may be 
knocked out of the wood, and darting down, almost under the 
blade of the axe to seize its prey. Its usual cry consists in the 
continuation of a clear shrill piping note, kept up in the same 
tone and key often for the full space of a minute or more without 
the slightest variation, its tail sometimes bobbing up and down at 
each interval as if keeping time. When suddenly disturbed, it 
often utters a sort of squeak, and upon perching, jerks its tail 
up after the manner of the true Robins. 



The Brown Fly-catcher. (Gould, B., Ausfcr. Vol. III., pi. ii.) 
PL I., Figs. 9 and 10. 

This bird, although one of our most common, and sombre- 
colored, is one of our sweetest songsters. At day -break it may 
be seen perched upon the dead top of some lofty Eucalyptus, 
pouring forth a song of the most cheerful and pleasing strain : its 
notes are varied, and may be heard at a considerable distance. 
Mr. Gould remarks that they resemble those of the Chaffinch 
(Frmgilla ccelebs). They have a decided preference for perching 
while singing upon the very topmost boughs of the most lofty 
trees, from whence they will dart off to capture some insect on the 
wing, and then return to complete their song. They are very 
tame, and fearless of man : and will frequently come and perch 
beside you when walking in the fields or bush ; wagging their 
tails from side to side as if perfectly sure that they were either 
privileged birds, or, on account of their dull plumage, not worth 

This the so-called " Tit-lark" of Australia, which is a general 
favorite, is both a summer and winter resident. They are con- 
stantly found about the fences and rails, and are not unfrequently 
seen on the roofs of houses, always in pairs, and occasionally 
seeking for spiders under the eaves, which they eagerly devour ; 
and, if building at the time, will carry off the web to cement the 
nest. Last year a pair took possession of a large Oak-tree, near 
our dwelling-house, at Dobroyde, and afforded us much amuse- 
ment in watching them : seeking for spiders and cobweb under 
the eaves and corners of the stables. One day, by watching 
one cany off a large piece of cobweb, my brother discovered 
its nest, placed in a fork near the end of a horizontal bough. 
While adding the cobweb, the bird sat in the nest, and, pushing 
itself round and round, stuck the web on the edges. The 
nest is small, but very neat and compact 1| inch across, by 
^ inch deep composed of grasses sunk in the fork of a 
horizontal bough ; the edge is even with, or slightly raised above, 
the branches, and ornamented with small scales of bark, securely 

BY E. P. RAMSAY, ESQ. 329 

fastened on with cobweb, and rendered so like the bark of the 
tree, that it is no easy task, for one who is unacquainted with its 
habits, to discover it. The eggs are two in number; but I 
remember two instances in which we found three in a nest : this, 
however, is very rarely the case. In length, they are from 8| to 
10 lines by 6 to 7| lines in breadth. They vary considerably 
in colour, some being of a beautiful bluish-green, with a zone of 
brownish-purple and greyish-lilac blotches round the centre, and 
a few dots over the rest of the surface ; in others the 
spots are dispersed equally over the whole. . As the eggs 
fade, the ground colour becomes very pale, and the markings 
turn to dull reddish-brown. This species has two, and sometimes 
three broods in the year. The peculiar instinct which birds have, 
of ornamenting the outside of their nests with small scales of 
bark and lichen which grow upon the same trees, is beautifully 
illustrated in not only the nest of the present species, but also in 
those of many other Australian birds : as in that of the Yellow- 
breasted Robin (E. australis), and more particularly in those 
of the Nut-hatch (Sittella chrysoptera), which are not only 
ornamented on the outside with scales of bark, from the same 
or similar branches, to which they are fastened, but the inside is 
carefully lined with small pieces of the mouse-eared lichen 
so arranged as to bear a very close resemblance to the eggs. The 
shortest and easiest way of finding the nest of either the Titlark 
or Nuthatch is to watch the birds. Any one accustomed to 
birds'-nesting can tell in a very short time, whether the birds 
have a nest or not, and when this fact is settled, nothing is 
easier than to watch the birds until they go to it. 

The Theory of Encke's Comet. 

[Eead August 2nd, 186-5.] 

BEFOBE entering upon the subject of my present paper, I must 
express my hope that you have not prepared yourselves for any 
brilliant discovery, or the advancement of any new theory. It 
is not intended to enter upon any speculation as to the Physical 
Structure of Comets generally a subject, beyond all others, 
deficient in data. My object on the present occasion is to find 
out by an examination of certain familiar facts, "What is the 
use of Encke's Comet, rather than what it is made of." 

Encke's Comet, though bearing the name of that eminent 
Astronomer, is also known as " Pons' Comet," from Pons, who 
discovered it in 1805, and again in 1819 ; but there is no doubt 
that this same Comet had been previously seen in 1786, and 
again in 1795. Encke indeed, though he always refers to it as 
Pons' Comet, pointed out the identity of the object observed On 
these four occasions ; made it his intense study, and predicted its 
return in 1822. It was true to its appointment, and, which 
makes it an object of some local interest, its re-appearance was 
observed in that year by Rumker, at Sir Thomas Brisbane's 
Observatory, at Paramatta, Justly then has it acquired its 
usual title from Professor Encke, who devoted twelve years of 
arduous labour to its discussion, and not only predicted its future 
appearances, but established the important proposition to which 
I shall draw your attention this evening. 

These " Hairy Stars," as they have been termed wandering 
vapours, it may be that appear in our system for a brief 
period, when most of them launch into the immensity of space, 
and " no man sees them more," were, in the darker ages, objects 
of superstitious veneration : and even in more enlightened times 
they appear to excite in many minds, not only a romantic 

BY G. R. SM ALLEY, ESQ. 331 

interest, but an undue disposition to connect them with certain 
terrestrial events. 

These ephemeral bodies, of which probably there are a vast 
number which we never see, follow the same rule as that 
observed in all other Planetary bodies, that is, they move in the 
geometrical curve which we call a conic section. This is a mere 
problem in geometry, for when we have obtained by observation, 
the co-ordinates of a body's path generally from the right 
ascension and declination we can lay down the form of that 
path, and identify it, much in the same sort of way as we may 
lay down upon a map and identify the track of a traveller, from 
his observed latitudes and longitudes. Of these curves, some 
of the Comets select the ellipse, or oval, more or less elongated, 
in which case the return may be predicted. Some few have been 
suspected though with no degree of certainty of moving in 
hyperbolic paths ; whilst the greater number appear to move in 
parabolas (the path of the common projectile), a curve which 
forms a sort of connecting link between the ellipse on one side, 
and the hyperbola on the other ; in such cases as the two 
last, the return of the Comet cannot be anticipated. 

Now, without pausing to comment upon the remarkable cir- 
cumstance of nature selecting for her operations those curves 
which are exhibited by dividing a cone in different directions, I 
will merely remind you how Newton demonstrated that, if a body 
be projected in space, and acted upon continually by a force which 
varies inversely as the square of the distance, and resides in a 
fixed centre, that body will describe one of " the Conic Sections," 
the centre of force being in the focus. Conversely, if we find 
from Geometrical considerations, that a body describes one of 
the conic sections about a centre of force situated in the focus, 
we are sure that the Law of Force is that of the inverse square 
of the distance. 

Now, observation shows that Comets do move in conic sections, 
and that the Sun resides in the focus. Hence it follows that 
Comets necessarily follow the Law of Gravitation. Moreover, there 
must be a certain amount of substance about them, however 
attenuated that substance may be otherwise they could not be 
subjected to the Laws of Gravitation. Again, admitting the 


previous statements, we find that the nature of the orbit described 
by a body, is dependent upon the proportion which the projectile 
force bears to the central force. With the initial velocity of 
projection we have, I think, no concern for it is far beyond our 
comprehension but we may fairly enquire whether any subse- 
quent cause, can be assigned for the diversity of orbits which 
manifest themselves in the case of comets. Arguing from the 
elliptical, or nearly circular form of the orbits of all the permanent 
bodies of our system, we should be disposed to expect that other 
bodies following the same general laws, would run their races in 
similar courses : undoubtedly this is merely an argument from 
analogy, as there is no " a priori " argument against a body 
having been originally projected under such circumstances that 
it should describe an hyperbola or a parabola, instead of an 
ellipse : but it leads me to a question which I shall have occasion 
to dwell upon namely, " what are the causes which may deflect 
a moving body from its original path ? " 

Starting from our own immediate system, we know that the 
combined action of the sun and planets produces perturbations in 
the orbits of the latter, though their mean paths remain un- 
disturbed. We see a most interesting illustration of this in the 
discovery of the Planet Neptune, which was due to the Mathema- 
tical Investigations of Adams and Leverrier, who had previously 
demonstrated that certain irregularities in the orbit of Uranus 
could only be accounted for by perturbations caused by another 
exterior planet : this planet was looked for and discovered in the 
position indicated. 

Now here we are considering bodies whose masses have to 
each other some considerable proportion, and although it is a 
consequence of the Law of Universal Gravitation that each of 
two bodies should attract each other in direct proportion to 
their masses ; yet whilst a larger produces perceptible perturba- 
tions in the orbit of a smaller body ; these perturbations are not 
significant and there is no permanent derangement in the case 
of the solar system. But far different is it in the case of a comet. 
Here we have a body of such extreme trenuity that its mass is 
not comparable with even the smallest of the members of our 
own system. How easy then is it to conceive that, whatever 


may have been the original path of a comet, that path might be 
completely changed by the disturbing action of one or more 
bodies within whose influence it happened to pass : and although 
it must still continue to describe one of the conic sections, yet the 
nature of the curve may be entirely altered in consequence of 
the change of velocity produced by the disturbing planet. 
Hence we are prepared to reconcile the apparent anomaly of the 
parabolic or hyperbolic paths of comets, with our pre-conceived 
notions of the superior and refined simplicity of the elliptic 
orbit. We may fairly consider it by no means improbable that 
comets were originally impressed with a motion which would 
cause them to describe ellipses, and that the orbits they 
subsequently moved in were the effects of perturbation, rather 
than original design. 

Strangely enough, Jupiter and his Satellites seem continually 
to have been " stopping the way " of comets. On two or three 
occasions comets have threaded their way through Jupiter's 
system, and whilst on the one hand none of the Satellites have 
been in any degree affected, it has been plainly proved that the 
comets have been considerably deflected from their previous 

Without, however, troubling ourselves to enquire what may 
have been the nature of a comet's path originally, it is sufficient 
for our purpose to know that they are liable to be disturbed 
when they come within the influence of our own system. 

It was such considerations as these that made the comet 
which bears the name of Encke, so eminently his own. I have 
already remarked that it was detected by Pons in 1819, but that 
Encke proved its identity with one that had been observed on 
three previous occasions. And this he did by calculating back- 
wards the planetary perturbations to the respective times of 
observation. With most indefatigable labour he successfully per- 
formed this self-imposed task a work requiring high mathematical 
genius extreme accuracy in computation sound judgment and 
nice discrimination. The result was as he had anticipated ; he 
found that the disturbing effects of the planets would have been 
just such as to verify the correctness of the assumption, that the 
comet which had been observed on the four occasions in question, 



must have been one and the same body. He now proceeded to 
carry his calculations forward, and again taking into consideration 
the attraction of the planets, he predicted its re-appearance and 
perihelion passage on the 24th of May, 1822. As it was not 
seen in Europe on that occasion, this opportunity of verifying the 
correctness of Encke's calculations must probably have been lost 
but for the Parramatta Observatory, when it was observed by 
Rumker, on the 2nd of June, and on subsequent occasions. 
From the observations then made, it would appear that the 
comet passed its Perihelion on May 23rd, at 23h. 7m. that is to 
say, just 53 minutes before the beginning of May 24th. 

With the improved data now before him, Encke was enabled 
to correct his elements, and predict with still greater accuracy, 
the Comet's re-appearance at intervals of about 1210 days. 
Since then, its name has been down as one of this World's 
regular visitors, and it never forgets to leave its card at the 
appointed time. 

I have endeavoured to give some idea of the form and 
dimensions of this comet's orbit, by a diagram, constructed on 
scale from the elements computed for the year 1865 ; and 
I will just compare a few of Encke's elements for 1832 
with the corresponding ones for the present year, merely observ- 
ing that, for the sake of simplicity in numbers, the Earth's 
mean distance from the Sun is taken for unity, and that the 
quantities are set down sufficiently approximate for our purpose. 
They are as follows : 




Major Axis .............. 









"* _ Q'003 

Periodic Time 

1210 Days 

1206 Days 


These results are not intended to bear a very close investi- 
gation, but they serve to illustrate, in a general manner, the fact 
that the axis, and, therefore also, the periodic times of the 
elliptic orbit of Encke's Comet, are continually diminishing ; and 
Encke attributes this phenomenon to " the existence of an 
SBtherial medium which pervades all space." 



There is nothing inconceivable in the idea that there is an 
invisible, almost imponderable aether pervading all parts of space 
on the contrary, assured as we are, that " Nature abhors a 
vaccuum," we may fairly think that no part of space is abso- 
lutely void, though we can well understand that such astherial 
medium would, by gravitation, be condensed in the immediate 
vicinity of substantial bodies. 

It remains, however, for us to examine whether this supposi- 
tion of Encke's about the " ^Etherial medium," does account for 
the fact, that the comet which bears his name has been con- 
tinually decreasing the size of its orbit and its period of revolu- 
tion from the time of its first appearance up to the present time. 

Now I have already remarked that, however attenuated the 
material of a comet may be, it must still be subject to the Laws 
of Universal Gravitation ; and, though I may be treading on 
familiar ground, yet I will just observe that when a body moves 
in an ellipse under the action of a force tending towards a fixed 
centre, any diminution in its velocity, from whatever cause it 
may arise, will have the effect of diminishing the dimensions of 
the ellipse, and therefore of diminishing the time of revolution. 
But this is just the effect that would be produced by an aetherial 
medium, and I venture for a few moments to draw attention to 
a principle, well known as it may be, upon which this fact 


It will not affect the question if we suppose the resistance 
offered by this assumed setherial medium to act at any instant, 
and at any place in the ellipse, as at C, when the direction of 
the comet's motion is that of the tangent CT. The Comet is 
under the influence of two forces, viz., the centrifugal force (as 
it is commonly, though incorrectly, called), in direction CT, and 
the sun's attraction in direction CS, towards the focus of the 
ellipse. Consider any portion of time, however small, and let Cn 
represent the space through which the comet would be pulled in 
that time by the sun. Also let Cm represent the space through 
which it would move in the same time in consequence of the 
velocity it had at C. supposing it to have remained unchanged 
in magnitude and direction. Then if we complete the parallelo- 
gram Cm Pn, according to the Second Law of Motion, P will be 
the place of the comet at the end of the supposed time. But 
now suppose that a resistance is created by the setherial 
medium in a direction contrary to that of the comet's motion 
when at C, so that Co will represent the space described in the 
same small time Cn as before, representing that due to the 
sun's attraction then completing the parallelogram CoQn, as 
before, Q will be the place of the comet a point evidently nearer 
to the sun than P, and the ellipse will be deflected from CP to 
CQ. Now this is true, however small the supposed interval of time 
may be. Make it therefore infinitessim ally small, and suppose 
the medium to be continually acting, then it is clear that the 
boundary of the ellipse is being contracted continually, arid that 
although -the orbit answers the elliptic condition at any parti- 
cular time, yet the path of the Comet is, in reality, a spiral 
terminating in the sun, into which body the comet must 
eventually fall, unless some very uuforseen circumstances should 
cause it to deviate from its present course. 

It must be remembered that Encke arrived at this theory 
only after a most careful and elaborate calculation of the 
planetary perturbations. These disturbances are duly allowed 
for, so that any influence they might possess in changing the 
comet's orbit, must be altogether excluded from the question. 

But before finally accepting Encke's solution, simple as it is, 
we are bound to enquire whether there is any other that can be 
offered, and if so, what are their respective merits. 


There is another theory propounded. From observations of 
Halley's Comet especially, it is supposed that comets possess the 
property of throwing off and leaving behind them, in a vaporous 
state, some portion of their matter, which is repelled by the sun ; 
whilst the remaining portion is still attracted by the sun, and 
proceeds under the usual law of gravitation. This theory would 
certainly explain the phenomenon of Encke's Comet for if some 
portion of the mass were entirely disposed of, the remainder, 
having less mass than before, would be more subject to the sun's 
attraction : consequently, the orbit would be diminished, and 
therefore the periodic time continually decreased. Now without 
pausing to reflect upon the complicated nature of the theory thus 
offered, we may observe that the phenomena on which it in a 
great measure depends, have not been witnessed in many comets, 
nor do the vaporous effusions, even in Halley's Comet, appear to 
have been alvjays in the direction where it would meet with least 
resistance. When two theories, equally probable, are proposed 
for our acceptance, we are naturally prepared to receive the more 
simple. Of the simplicity of Encke's theory compared with the 
latter, there can be, I imagine, but little question. Again, are 
they both equally possible ? The second may indeed be quite 
possible, so far as we know, but I am not aware of any evidence 
that renders such a conclusion decisive ; and with regard to 
Encke's theory, it is so easily reducible to ordinary dynamical 
principles, that one question only can be raised, and that is, 
" the probable existence of an etherial medium." 

There are independent proofs of this, and it renders Encke's 
theory in the highest degree probable. 

Formerly, light was supposed to be emitted from self-luminous 
bodies, in extremely minute particles, travelling with enormous 
velocity, and impinging on the retina. This " Theory of 
Emanations " sufficiently accounted for most optical phenomena. 

It failed, however, to explain the experiment of Newton's 
Rings, in which, if a lens of ever so slight a curvature be pressed 
upon a piece of plate glass, concentric rings of different colours 
are observed, separated by dark intervals. 

But this singular phenomenon is fully accounted for by 
" The Undulatory Theory of Light" a theory whose truth has been 


so severely tested, that it has now obtained universal acceptance. 
It is, perhaps, needless to remind you that it supposes light to be 
propagated from a luminous body, which excites a series of suc- 
cessive undulations in a highly elastic a3therial medium. Such a 
medium must then exist otherwise the light of the sun could 
not be transmitted to us if, as we infer, undulations are the 
mode of doing so. 

Then we may fairly conclude that there is an a3therial medium 
pervading all space, dense indeed in the vicinity of substantial 
bodies, but dwindling away in space into extreme rarity. 
There is then no obstacle to Encke's theory, which unites great 
simplicity with all reasonable probability. And we cannot avoid 
being struck with the beautiful manner in which it assists the 
Undulatory Theory of Light ; the one helps to establish the 
theory of the other, and we are forcibly reminded of the truth of 
Bacon's observation, that " no natural phenomenon can be 
adequately studied in itself alone, but to be understood ; it must 
be considered as it stands connected with all nature." 

On certain possible relations between Geological Changes and 
Astronomical Observations. 


[Eead October llth, 1865.] 

IT is, I confess, somewhat doubtful, whether the title of the 
present paper sufficiently expresses the purport of my remarks 
this evening. It has been selected for want of a better ; but the 
real object that I have in view is to show that certain localities 
may be undergoing some slow geological changes of a most 
singular and unexpected character, changes imperceptible to 
any ordinary observations, but capable of detection by delicate 


and refined observations made with instruments of the highest 
class by the practised astronomical observer. 

Though previously aware that some suspicions had been at 
different times entertained that the changes of azimuth, as ob- 
served with the transit instruments employed in the observatories 
of Greenwich, Edinburgh, and Trivandrum, were periodic ; yet 
my attention was especially drawn to the subject by the singular 
fluctuations in the errors of level and azimuth, which I have 
remarked since the Sydney Observatory came under my direction. 
Now I am compelled to admit, that although I think I have de- 
tected something like a periodicity in these fluctuations, yet they 
are not sufficiently regular to draw any decided conclusions 
from them taken by themselves. And we cannot be surprised at 
this when we consider the position of the present observatory. 
Bounded, as it is, on three sides by precipitous rocks, at distances 
varying from one to three hundred feet long ; and the hill itself 
composed of material which peculiarly ttnfits it for an Ob- 
servatory ; so that there are continual displacements of the com- 
ponent parts, of such magnitude as to prevent the detection of 
those subtle changes which result from the regular laws of nature. 
Moreover, since the erection of the observatory, the stability of 
the hill has been still further endangered by the excavation of 
stone from the sides ; and on such occasions sudden and irregular 
instrumental changes have been observed, which could be ac- 
counted for on no other supposition. 

Still impressed with the conviction that such periodic 
changes do occur as must be traced to regular Geological laws, 
and not to accidental circumstances, I selected for my investiga- 
tions the Royal Observatory of Greenwich, and I need hardly 
comment upon the importance of such selection. Situated upon 
a well selected soil in the midst of Greenwich Park, and kept 
free, by legal enactment, from any disturbances such as roads or 
railways or indeed anything which might produce the slightest 
vibration ; with the ." Astronomer Royal " for England as its 
Director, and a large and highly efficient staff ; with instruments, 
the best that art and money could procure, we may be satisfied 
that even the shadow of doubt cannot rest upon the observations 
made and reduced there. 


The results employed by me in my present investigation, 
were obtained from the published Greenwich Observations for 
the years 1858, 1859, 1860, and 1861. But, before I proceed, 
I will briefly draw your attention to the mode of obtaining those 

In a public observatory, the principle astronomical work 
consists in observations of stars, as they are in the act of passing 
across the meridian of the observatory. For this purpose an 
instrument, called a Transit Circle, is employed, the application 
of which, is sufficiently illustrated by the common theodolite, 
bearing in mind that the axis is supported by solid stone piers, 
sunk several feet into the ground, and that the telescope itself, is 
not supposed to have any motion, except in a vertical plane 
coinciding with the meridian of the place. Now if the instru- 
ment were put in complete adjustment, and could be so retained, 
the axis would be perfectly horizontal, and the line of collimation 
of the telescope would always move in the meridian of the place ; 
but as from mechanical defects and other causes, it is practically 
impossible to ensure these conditions for any length of time, it 
is usual, after the instrument has once fairly settled down, to 
bring the errors of level and azimuth, as they are termed, 
within moderate limits, and to determine, by very delicate ob- 
servations made every evening, if possible, their actual amounts 
at the time, and to apply the results thus obtained as corrections 
to the ordinary star observations ; at the present time it is the 
error of azimuth, with which we are principally concerned. 

If there were any fixed star situated exactly in the pro- 
longation of the earth's axis, we should have nothing to do but 
to turn the telescope upon that star ; and if, after perfect adjust- 
ment in other respects, this star appeared upon a vertical wire 
in the focus of the object glass, we should know that there was 
no error of azimuth. And even if there is not this coincidence, 
the error of azimuth, which ought always to continue small in a 
good instrument, can be readily determined by means of a 

It is true that in neither Hemisphere is there a star exactly 
coinciding with the corresponding Pole; but in the Northern 
Hemisphere there are two stars " Polaris, of the second Magni- 

BY G. R. SMALLEY, ESQ. :; 1 1 

tude, and X ursa? minoris of the fifth Magnitude neither of 
whose angular distances from the Pole much exceed a degree ; 
and in the Southern Hemisphere we have cr Octantis, a star of 
the sixth Magnitude, whose angular distance from the Pole is 
about | of a degree; and by the application of Observations 
made upon one of these stars, in a manner familiar to the 
astronomer, we are enabled to determine the azimuthal error of 
the meridian instrument with as much essential accuracy as if we 
strictly had a Pole star to guide us. 

This error being now determined, it is easy to erect a fixed 
azimuth mark so far distant from the observatory that any small 
accidental change in its position be imperceptible. Such 
a mark is of great importance to enable the astronomer to 
determine the position of his instrument at times where he is 
prevented from observing his azimuth stars. It is usual to have 
this mark constructed of stone or masonry with a fine distinct 
mark engraved upon a plate embedded into the upper part. 
Near St. Leonard's Church, on the North Shore, there is a tree 
iu the last stage of rottenness, having attached to one of its 
branches an iron ring with two cross wires this constitutes the 
azimuth mark of the Sydney Observatory ! * 

Let me now proceed to consider the circumstances of the 
Royal Observatory at Greenwich. 

The constitution of Greenwich Hill, is, I believe, gravel with 
h substratum of clay. The Observatory itself is about 150 feet 
the mean level of the Thames, and the direct distance from 
the river is about half a miie. It stands, speaking roughly, 
about lOu feet from the edge of the north side of the hill, where 
it slopes rapidly down towards the Thames ; at about the same 
distance also, there is a considerable slope towards the west ; and 
at the distance of a mile or thereabouts on the south and south- 
west lie the vallies of Blackheath and Lewisham : towards the 
east there is little or no fall for about three miles. I speak 
roughly from memory, but I do not think I am far wrong in my 
descriptions of the locality the height of the Observatory I have 
given accurately. 

* Since this paper was written, I have succeeded in re-placing the tree 
by a substantial stone column. G. R. S. 



I have already observed that the transit circle is of the 
hightest order. It was erected in 1850, and its entire weight 
is, in round numbers, about 17 cwt., with its axis supported by 
two granite piers of immense strength and thickness, sunk 
several feet below the surface. 

I have dwelt upon these details because it is necessary to 
premise that the observations upon which the present enquiry is 
founded, have been made under the most favourable circum- 
stances, and with the greatest possible care and accuracy. 

As pictures give a clearer and more impressive view of events 
than any verbal or written description, so I think curves 
represent more conspicuously than figures, such periodic changes 
as those which I am about to discuss. 

In these diagrams, one side of each of the squares represents 
one second of arc for azimuthal deviation the blank line being 
the meridian and another side perpendicular to it represents 
an interval of three days. In Fig. I., every observation for the 
determination of error of azimuth is set down, and the points 
corresponding to such observations jointed by lines. Hence the 
curves thus described represent the actual deviations to the east 
or west of the instrument itself, or of the ground upon which the 
instrument stands. In Fig. II., the curves are described " libera 
manu " through the mean positions of the deviations. Now, on 
examining these diagrams, we cannot fail to be struck with the 
remarkable similarity of the general outline of the curves. You 
will perceive that in each of the four years they appear to indicate 
a maximum elevation towards the east about the vernal equinox, 
and a minimum deviation towards the west, about the autumnal 
equinox. Carried over four consecutive years, we can hardly suppose 
such a phenomenon to be accidental. No doubt you will remark 
many irregularities in these curves, but I am rather glad to see them 
than otherwise, because in spite of errors of observation and mecha- 
nical defects, it brings out the laws of nature in greater relief. 

I have already endeavoured to explain how these azimuthal 
changes are obtained, and it now remains for us to examine how 
this apparent periodic regularity may be accounted for. Astro- 
nomical causes are out of the question, so that I know of no 
other alternatives, except instrumental changes due to tempera- 




















BY. Q. R. SMALLEY, ESQ. 345 

ture or actual periodic changes in the position of the ground 
upon which the instrument rests. 

Now it is hardly to be conceived that tha expansion and con- 
traction of the different parts of this complicated instrument 
the transit circle should follow such regular laws as those which 
appear to obtain in the case before us. And even if it were so, 
we should expect that the extremes of azimuthal deviation would 
correspond to the extremes of external temperature but this is 
contrary to observation. Can we then do otherwise than conclude 
that these remarkable periodic variations are due to an actual 
twisting if I may use the expression of the hill or ground 
upon which the Observatory is established ? 

It will naturally be enquired whether such a phenomenon is 
confined to elevated spots. I am inclined to think it is. I think 
I have traced it at Sydney it has been suspected at Edinburgh 
and Trivandrum and I have endeavoured to verify it in the case 
of Greenwich : all these are elevations of some magnitude. On 
the other hand, I have carefully examined the observations made 
at the Observatories of Oxford and Cambridge both of which 
are situated on comparatively low and gently rising eleva- 
tions, and I find, not only that the azimuthal changes are 
very small, but no regular law of periodicity can be detected. 

In order to contrast the irregularities which arise from instru- 
mental or accidental causes with those which appear to follow 
some law of nature, let me again direct your attention to the first 
diagram in which every observation of azimuth is exhibited. 
You will perceive two very remarkable and sudden deflections 
amongst several others one on the 15th of April, 1859, and 
the other on the 20th of September in the same year ; yet on 
both these occasions I find recorded in the Greenwich observa- 
tions that the transit circle had been raised from its bearings on 
those days, and it was suspected that it had not quite recovered 
its natural position at the time the observations for azimuth 
were made. Compare these descrepancies with the general 
symmetry exhibited by the four curves, and we cannot help feeling 
that the laws of nature assert their superiority, notwithstanding 
accidental irregularities which are easily detected. 

In order to connect, as far as possible, these changes which 


I now feel myself justified in calling geological with thermal 
changes, T proceeded to examine the temperature results at the 
Royal Observatory of Greenwich. For this purpose I examined 
the readings : 

1st, of Thermometers in the external atmosphere. 
2nd, of those at a depth one inch below the surface. 
3rd, ditto ditto 3'2 feet ditto ditto 
4th, ditto ditto 6 ditto ditto ditto 
5th, ditto ditto 12 ditto ditto ditto 
6th, ditto ditto 26 ditto ditto ditto 
Out of all these classes of observations none appeared to accord 
so well with the azimuthal changes as those made with 
thermometers whose bulbs were placed twelve feet below the 
surface of the ground. In this case the minimum temperature 
corresponded to about the end of March, and the maximum 
temperature to about the middle of September. 

I do not at the present time pretend to offer any theory upon 
this intereresting subject, I merely state facts as I find them, 
with the full conviction that they will be found useful in future 

Since the preparation of this paper I have found, what I was 
not previously aware of, that this subject had been, to a certain 
extent noticed by Mr. Ellis of the Greenwich Observatory, in the 
year 1859. His investigations are conducted somewhat differ- 
ently from mine, and he devotes himself more to the periodic 
changes of level than of azimuth, and endeavours to combine 
the two elements. Whilst, however Mr. Ellis's results are more 
general than mine, yet they do not exhibit those very decided laws 
which I have endeavoured to establish, but it is satisfactory to 
find that his conclusions all tend to the same point. And it is 
singular that quite unintentionally I have commenced my investi- 
gations at the very point where he left off. Mr. Ellis examines 
the years 1850 to 1857 included, and I have confined myself to 
the four succeeding years, and this may perhaps account for the 
greater regularity observable in my results the instrument and 
piers having had time to assume what may almost be called a 
permanent position. 

The present state of " Astronomical, Magnetical, and Meteoro- 
logical Science ; and the practical bearings of those subjects." 


[Read December 6th, 1865.] 

IN the present paper I propose to examine " the relation which 
exists between Astronomy, Magnetism, and Meteorology, con- 
sidered as subjects of scientific pursuits :" " their present state, 
and the improvements which have been arrived at in the means 
and methods of observing :" " the practical bearings of those 
subjects, whether connected or unconnected, and the best means 
of advancing their utility." 

In commencing with the science of Astronomy, it becomes 
necessary to define with some accuracy what we mean by it ; and 
here also we must draw a wide distinction between Astronomy 
as it was, and Astronomy as it is. 

It is no uncommon an error, and ifc is certainly a very 
prejudicial one, to consider that the science of astronomy consists 
in what is familiarly expressed by the phrase " star gazing ;" and 
that an astronomer, whether professional or otherwise, is likewise 
a mere " star gazer." 

And here I must stop to inquire, " what do we mean by star 
gazing ? " In reply, I say, that any one who has the means to 
purchase a tolerably good telescope, equatorially mounted, and 
who has the time at his disposal to examine objects of known 
interest, to verify predicted phenomena, or to seek for new 
objects by the process which is technically called " sweeping the 
heavens," is a " star gazer." But we must consider astronomy 
as a link in the chain of physical sciences, and the public astro- 
nomer ought perhaps more properly to be called the public 
observer. Astronomy cannot be properly pursued without mathe- 
matical aids, or without the assistance of optical and mechanical 
science. Again, although it is absurd with our present knowledge 


and calculus to predict meteorological changes in different 
parts of the world subject to different local influences, yet we 
must not hastily reject the notion that the moon as well as the 
sun may be capable of influencing our atmosphere as well as 
our tides and magnets. 

Of all sciences none is so comprehensive and elaborate in 
detail none offers so vast a field for speculation and discovery, 
and none has attained to such perfection as that of astronomy. 
And yet with all its great antiquity for it is said to have been 
studied by the Chaldeans 2,250 years before the Christian era 
with all the refinements of the present instruments and methods 
of observing : and with all the increasing supply of astronomers, 
professional as well as amateur, a supply which seems to increase 
with the demand we find yet more to be done. 

There are at the present time, in different parts of the world, 
no fewer than 70 public observatories ; and in England alone 
there are 12 private observatories, where observations are 
systematically made and reduced. 

No doubt many private observatories and observers may be 
found in every country, and it would be no easy matter to 
estimate the number of individuals so engaged. Assigning to 
Greenwich that pre-eminence amongst national observatories, to 
which it is justly entitled, we find that the Astronomer Royal 
has under his direction eight permanent assistants, and nine 
supernumeraries. In the principal observatory of the Southern 
Hemisphere at the Cape of Good Hope there are four per- 
manent assistants, and four supernumeraries under the direction 
of the astronomer ; and we should find a proportional staff in 
most other observatories of any long standing. 

And yet with all this, how unfinished and uncertain do we 
find the principal and most important work of a fixed observatory, 
namely, the accurate determination of the positions of the fixed 
stars. To quote the language of Sir John Herschell, " every well 
determined star, from the moment its place is registered becomes 
to the astronomer, the geographer, the navigator, the surveyor, 
a point of departure which can never deceive or fail him the 
same for ever and in all places of a delicacy so extreme as to be 
a test for every instrument invented by man, yet equally adapted 


for the most ordinary purposes ; as available for regulating a 
town clock as for conducting a navy to the Indies ; as effective 
for mapping down the intricacies of a petty barony, as for 
adjusting the boundaries of transatlantic empires." 

" When once its place has been thoroughly ascertained and 
carefully recorded, the brazen circle with which that useful work 
was done may moulder, the marble pillar totter on its base, 
and the astronomer himself survive only in the gratitude of 
posterity. But the record remains, and transfuses all its own 
exactness into every determination which takes it for a ground- 
work, giving to inferior instruments, nay, even to temporary 
contrivances and to the observations of a few weeks or days, all 
the precision attained originally at the cost of so much time, 
labour, and expense." 

Such are the opinions so elegantly expressed by this great 
philosopher, in the introduction to the catalogue of 8377 fixed 
stars, published by the British Association, for the advancement 
of science. Yet, out of the countless number which optical 
improvements bring within our sphere of observation, 1500 only 
appear to be accurately recorded : of these, the catalogue just 
referred to, furnishes the most reliable portion. Perhaps, the 
number of those which have been determined with very great pre- 
cision, does not exceed 2000, whilst of the fundamental stars or 
those selected for the nautical almanac there are 141. Hitherto, 
the fixed stars of the Southern Hemisphere do not appear to have 
received their due share of attention, and it is only now, that 
there seems to be some prospect of those observatories which 
possess first-class meridian circles, co-operating in forming a 
complete catalogue, of all stars up to the ninth magnitude, after 
the example of Argelander, in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Among the improvements which have been made in astrono- 
mical instruments, none perhaps deserves more attention than 
the method now almost universally adopted for observing bodies 
on the meridian. Previous to 1850, it was usual to employ two 
instruments for the purpose. A transit instrument, by means of 
which the time of a star's passing the meridian, and hence the 
right ascension was obtained ; and a mural circle which furnished 
the stars altitude when on the meridian. These two ele- 


merits, which like the latitude and longitude of a place, are 
requisite for determining the position of a celestial object, could 
not be obtained at the same time except by the aid of two 
observers : and, moreover, the mural circle was open to objections 
from the mode in which it was usual to mount it. 

Now, however, both these instruments are combined in one 
under the name of the Transit or Mendian Circle ; so that 
complete observations of a body are made simultaneously by one 
observer, and both instruments receive an amount of strength 
and freedom from mechanical defects which could not be 
previously obtained. Even in this instrument an improvement 
is now made, and one which I have adopted with advantage in 
the small transit circle of the Sydney Observatory. Formerly it 
was necessary to raise the transit instrument entirely off its 
bearings, in order to obtain the error of collimation of the 
telescope. This was at all times a work of difficulty, and 
oftentimes of hazard ; the necessity for this is now superseded 
by the simple expedient of having an aperture through the centre 
of the telescope, which is closed when not in use, and affords an 
uninterrupted view of one collimator from the other. 

Time would fail to dwell upon the improvements which have 
been made in telescopes equatorically mounted, and the progress 
which has been made by opticians and mechanics in the con- 
struction of lenses, and that delicate apparatus for measur- 
ing small spaces, known as the micrometer. Professor Airy 
considers the screw of the micrometer attached to the telescope 
of the transit circle at Greenwich, the workmanship of 
Messrs. Troughton and Sims, to be almost perfect. But there 
is still room for improvement in the graduation of circles, and 
the construction of lenses. Both indeed have attained to a high 
degree of excellence : yet the most finely graduated circle is 
found to be somewhat imperfect, and the optician has not yet 
succeeded in producing a lens perfectly achromatic. 

Hitherto I have been speaking of instruments especially 
adapted to the scientific work of an observatory, and in such a 
case there is probably a limit to improvement, for what is 
required is stability, clearness of definition, and accuracy in 
measurement : and these will be sacrificed if we attempt to 


obtain very high magnifying power, a result which is more 
favorable for the gratification of our curiosity than for purposes 
of scientific utility. And here, for scientific purposes, is the 
advantage of a refracting over a reflecting telescope. Perfect 
distinctness is the first essential, and this can be obtained in a 
high degree by a lens of moderate dimensions, but is most 
difficult to arrive at in a polished reflector of large dimensions 
the very curvature of which is more or less irregular at first, and 
is always liable to alter by the flexure arising from its own 
weight. And, moreover, perfect distinctness being supposed, as 
the magnifying power is increased, the degree of illumination of 
the magnified object is diminished : hence what is gained by 
apparent enlargement is lost in detail. Amongst those who have 
been most successful in the construction of reflecting telescopes, 
we have the well-known names of Sir William and Sir John 
Herschel, Lassell, Delarue, Nasmyth, and Lord Rosse the first 
of these commencing with a telescope of 7 feet focal length only, 
eventually succeeded in producing one of 40 : and the last, at 
his own expense, with his own designs, under his own immediate 
direction, and with much of his own personal labour, completed 
in 1848 a reflector of no less than 53 feet focal length; 
one of the most interesting results that have been derived from 
telescopes of such high magnifying powers is the resolution of 
Nebulae into clusters of stars of definite magnitude ; but beyond 
this, however interesting they may be, it is questionable whether 
any important discoveries will ever be made by their means. 

The most important feature of the present time is the division 
of labour in the different branches of astronomical science, espe- 
cially amongst amateurs. 

I have already alluded to the very comprehensive nature of 
observatory work, and were it not for the labour of private 
observers prompted by their love of knowledge, much would 
remain unknown, and still more would be left undone. Thus 
we find some devoting themselves to a careful examination and 
measurement of the solar spots ; others to a similar examination 
of the mountains and depths which appear upon the surface of the 
moon ; some applying the powers of photography to a minute 
delineation of those objects, and others passing sleepless nights in 


searching the heavens for new planets and comets, or the resolu- 
tion of nebulae, and the measurement of double stars. 

Nor must we omit to mention, what is perhaps the greatest 
discovery of the day, " spectrum analysis." Well may we be 
filled with amazement, at the thought, that by comparing the 
spectra of the fixed stars, with that produced by known sub- 
stances in a state of combustion, we may, at no very distant 
period, be enabled to determine the constituents of bodies, so 
remote from us that their distances cannot even be guessed at. 

Such an investigation as this, even if there be no practical 
benefit to be derived from it, is obviously one of the deepest 
interest ; it is as interesting to the chemist, as it is to the 
astronomer, and it is impossible to foresee what discovery it may 
lead to. 

To carry on the enquiry, needs the command of a powerful 
telescope, and the most delicate contrivances of the optician 
contrivances which can only become effective, by frequent experi- 
ments, and need to be in the hands of the experienced man of 
science. With such a view, it is satisfactory to know, that the 
Astronomer Royal at Greenwich, departing from his usual rule, 
not to employ the force at his command, in mere speculative 
investigations, yet takes so deep an interest in this question, that 
systematic observations are carried on, and improvements con- 
tinually made in the apparatus for observing.* 

I trust it may not be very long, before we may be in a 
position to pursue the same subject in the Southern Hemis- 

The present state of magnetical and meteorological science 
bears an invidious comparison with that of astronomy. At the 
same time it need not surprise us, for the age of the latter sciences 
may be reckoned by days, whilst the former is reckoned by years. 
And again, astronomy is, to a certain extent, within everybody's 
reach, whilst magnetism requires in the observer considerable 
mathematical training, expensive and delicate instruments, and 

* Since this paper was read, I have received a letter from the Astro- 
nomer Royal, in which he informs me that "he has virtually abandoned the 
spectrums analysis " the expense and labour are such that he thinks it best 
left to amateurs. G-. R. 8. 

BY &. K. SMALLEY, ESQ. 353 

most careful manipulation it will, of course, be understood that 
I am speaking of terrestrial magnetism. 

This subject was hardly entered upon previous to the year 
1840, when magnetic expeditions were promoted, and temporary 
magnetic observatories established in different parts of the world, 
the objects of such observations being to determine the following 
elements. The " intensity " of the terrestrial magnetic force the 
" dip " or inclination of the direction of such force to the horizon 
and the " declination" or as navigator's call it, the variation, 
or angle which such direction makes with the astronomical 
meridian. Meteorological observations were necessarily combined 
with these, for the two subjects are evidently closely connected. 
But it must be admitted that we have not made any very great 
progress in either. 

It is true we are able to conclude that the moon exercises 
an influence upon terrestrial magnetism, and that it is somehow 
connected with the solar spots ; we are convinced that it is a 
function of heat, and that it is connected with electricity, if it be 
not the origin of those elements. We find that magnetic 
disturbances are coincident with great thermal changes, but not 
necessarily with electric storms. Again, most magnetic pheno- 
mena may be produced by electricity not so the converse, 
unless we introduce the element motion. It is true we are able to 
trace something like a general law of the " Diurnal, Annual, and 
Secular " variations of the magnetic elements, as for example 
that the declination needle has two maximum deviations from its 
normal position, in the 24 hours, and likewise in the year. 
Also, that magnetic storms have their changes which extend 
over a period of about ten years, which corresponds to the 
changes which occur in the number and magnitude of the solar 
spots, and that it is most undoubtedly connected with the 
" Aurora." 

Still, with all this, how little do we know of the source and 
laws of a power which may perchance prove to be the key to the 
universe itself. 

But great improvements have been made in the means and 
methods of making magnetical observations. The apparatus 
now employed at the Kew observatory, under the direction of the 


Royal Society of England, has attained a very high degree of 

The application of photography to magnetism and meteoro- 
logy, by means of the most minute changes in the position of a 
magnet, or in the height of the barometer and thermometer as at 
any time self recorded, is an indication of improvement and 

It is a matter of surprise, as well as of regret, that electrical 
observations are so much neglected. The importance of such 
observations in connection with magnetism and meteorology need 
not be enlarged upon, and I am not aware that in any observa- 
tory, excepting those of Greenwich and Kew, are systematic 
observations made of the electric condition of the atmosphere. 
I am happy to inform this Society that I am now making 
arrangements for carrying on electrical observations, at the 
Sydney Observatory, at the usual meteorological hours, and 
on occasions of unusual disturbance, with apparatus especially 
constructed for the purpose. 

It would seem almost superfluous to comment upon the 
" practical bearings " of a Scientific Observatory, yet is the 
cui bono enquiry so frequently made, that it seems unavoidable to 
overlook it. Surely when we consider that every nation, whether 
old or young in the scale of importance, deems it expedient to 
have a national observatory, it would seem impossible to avoid 
the conviction that some practical benefit is to be derived from 
it, either as a means for promoting knowledge and refinement, or 
as the centre of operations whose utility is obvious. The general 
importance of practical astronomy to navigation is well known, 
and every available place for observation is called into requisition. 
At every important place on the earth's surface, ought the 
latitude and longitude to be determined by a long and careful 
series of observations, made with a superior class of instruments ; 
each of such places becomes in its turn a centre, to which stations 
of secondary importance must be referred, and without which, 
geography is incomplete, and much of the surveyor's labour spent 
in vain. 

The discovery of general meteorological laws is of the highest 
practical importance to navigation, agriculture, and public health : 

BY G. R. SM ALLEY, ESQ. 355 

and it is only by a long series of careful and systematic observa- 
tions well reduced and collected, that such laws can be arrived at. 
I could wish, indeed, that every health-officer and medical 
practitioner, whether in his public or private capacity, might be 
persuaded to devote some attention to the presence of that agent 
which we call ozone for want of a better term ; and also to the 
presence of humidity at any time, as indicated by the readings 
of the wet and dry bulb thermometers. Nor are magnetical 
observations of less practical importance. Their relations to 
meteorology have been already alluded to. They are of the 
utmost importance to the surveyor in the interior of a country : 
and still more so to the mariner along a rocky iron-bound coast. 

It is to be hoped that the whole of this colony will be 
surveyed on a sound scientific basis, but according to the 
method hitherto adopted, some idea may be formed of the impor- 
tance of magnetic operations, when I state that the boundary 
line of an estate, might, in the course of 60 years, be found to 
differ from the original determination by upwards of a degree, 
owing to the secular variation of the magnetic meridian. 

The whole range of magnetic observations is called into 
active play in the determination of the error produced in the 
ship's compass by the attraction of the iron, in the several parts ; 
for want of such determination there is reason to suppose that 
many a good and well found ship, has been cast away. 

The advantages of a magnetic survey of this country I propose 
to discuss more fully upon a future occasion, at the present time 
I will confine myself to an illustration of some practical import- 
ance. In commencing this survey I determined to take such 
stations as were most convenient, at intervals of about 15 miles, 
and without any enquiries as to possible local imfluence. I 
decided thus, because I believe that most localities in this country 
have more or less local influence, and whilst it would be easy 
afterwards to reject from the magnetic chart suspected stations, 
yet it would be far from easy to determine from enquiries made 
before-hand, what localities were certainly free from causes which 
would influence the observations. Three of my stations, Nobby's 
at Newcastle, Musclebrook, and Wingen, (near what is called 
the Burning Mountain) exhibited singularly discordant results. 


Wingen was especially remarkable. Taking for example the 
observations for the inclination of the needle, at Scone they were 
what I should have expected from its geographical position ; not 
so at Musclebrook, which is about 15 miles on this side ; whilst at 
Wingen, which is about 15 miles further north there was a 
difference of nearly a degree. To make certain, the observations at 
Wingen and Scone were repeated with the greatest possible care, 
and the same results obtained. I have since learned that large 
quantities of iron stone are known to abound at Wingen, and to 
a certain extent though not so great perhaps at Musclebrook 
and lobby's. This is a most interesting subject, and is one 
which we can but lightly touch upon, on the present occasion. 
Even though the divining rod may no longer find believers in its 
power, yet we cannot refuse to acknowledge the indications of 
the magnet, and perhaps a practical importance may be claimed 
for it beyond what has hitherto been known or investigated. 

The best assistance which can be rendered to science is by 
noting and recording remarkable phenomena, and communicating 
the same to some establishment where they will be examined and 
collated with others. A few important facts are better than 
large masses of ordinary observations. In England alone there 
are volumes of unreduced and unpublished magnetical and 
meteorological observations, which are thus rendered useless for 
want of the proper force to reduce and discuss them. Yet there 
must and will be progress every one may assist in the advance- 
ment of science if he has but the will, and no one could fail to 
have the will did they but reflect that " Art is long and Time 
is short." 

Beading and Wellbank, Printers, Bridge Street, Sydney. 

On the Manners and Customs of the Aborigines of the 
Lower Murray and Darling, by 


[Read 2nd August, 1865.] 

IT is much to be regretted that many of our fellow-colonists who 
have had ample opportunities for observing the aboriginal inha- 
bitants of Australia, have never made an attempt to record the 
manners and habits of a people now without a doubt upon the 
verge of extinction : and as every observation be it apparently 
ever so trifling will become of greater interest from year to 
year, T may be held excused if I come before you to-day with 
some bond-fide notes relating to the Aborigines of the Lower 
Murray and Darling. Nearly eight years have passed since they 
were made, and many of the natives, then in the prime of life, 
have disappeared already, and but few of them will be 
remembered by the settlers who now occupy their hunting 

Unlike the American Indian, who slowly retreated before the 
settler, the Australian clung to the soil upon which he was 
born, but he did not become civilised ; he tried to eke out an 
existence, feeding upon his Kangaroos and Emus, and occasion- 
ally interfering with the squatters' stock : but finding that he 
could not do so with impunity, he came to terms, bartered his 
opossum rug for blankets ; his game for flour, beef, or mutton ; 
his services as a shepherd or stock-rider for other luxuries of 
civilised life ; and at last he became dependent for almost every- 
thing upon the occupant of his own domain. The consequence 
of all this is obvious. A native once used to flour, tea, sugar, 
and tobacco, can hardly exist without them ; hence very few inde- 
pendent tribes remain within the settled districts, and the younger 
members of them have almost forgotten the vegetables or the 
game upon which their fathers once feasted. 



If these people did not retreat before the white man it was 
not their fault ; they have only the alternative of making a 
compromise with the settler, or of fighting the next tribe they 
come in contact with ; and generally they adopted the first they 
remained upon the soil which had given them food for so many years, 
took to rum and tobacco, sacrificed their wives and daughters to 
the white man (if a free offer may be called a sacrifice), and at 
last, almost ceased to increase in numbers as the women became 
either barren or produced a weak half-caste offspring, who were 
not fit to endure the same privations, or obtain their food in 
the same ingenious manner as their black brethren. 

The Aboriginal population of Victoria in 1847 amounted to 
about 5000 ; in 1858, shortly after these notes had been taken, 
their number had been reduced to 1768, men, women, and 
children ; and if they have decreased at the same rate to the 
present day there will scarcely be a thousand souls left. 

When I started from Melbourne, in October 1857, for the 
Lower Murray, I counted the number of natives who visited our 
camp at every station, and the following is the result, the 
average distance being about 25 or 30 miles from post to post. 
Between Melbourne and Spring Plains about 70 miles no 
native was observed. 

Apple's Hotel 8 

Campaspe River 15 

Echuca 35 

Maiden's Station 8 

Gardiner's Station, (Gunbower Creek) ... 45 

Gardiner's Out- Station 12 

Campbell's Station 18 

Loddon Junction 23 

Eeedy Lake 10 

Lake Boga 6 

Marrapit River 14 

Swan Hill 18 

Tintindyre 13 

' Coghill's Station 7 

Hamilton's Station, and Murrambidgee 

Junction 22 


Lagoon, near Junction 12 

M'Callum's, and Grant's Station 31 

Euston (including native police) 40 

Half-way Lagoon 29 

Kilkine 11 

M'Grath's Station 7 

Jainieson's Station, (Milldura), and 

Williams's Station, (Gall Gall) ... 35 

Darling Junction 35 

which, in round numbers, would amount to about 400 souls. 

Between Melbourne and the Campaspe, the natives have 
very much degenerated, they were, in fact, represented by a few 
old men and decrepit women, and two or three diseased wretched 
children ; but, nearing the Murray, their condition appeared to 
improve, and at Gunbower Creek they were found in considerable 
numbers, most of the men fine stalwart fellows, some more than 
six feet and one nearly seven feet in height. 

Fishes, crayfish, the eggs of tortoises, ducks, emus, the mallee 
hen, and the black swan, appeared to be their principal food at 
that time, they were therefore tolerably independent and remark- 
ably lazy as I thought, though on consideration it appeared to 
me that their philosophy was quite correct ; why should they 
exert themselves ? They did not lay in stores, and many of their 
viands being of a perishable nature, and to be had almost every 
day, there was no reason why they should work like their civil- 
ised brethren ; there are only two beings which appeared great 
fools in their eyes, namely a white man and a working bullock. 

My stay at Gunbower Creek was not of sufficient duration to 
study the manners and habits of these people ; the men all 
carried guns (some very queer looking fowling pieces), they were 
all tolerably good shots, but when trusted with ammunition 
would invariably come home empty handed, though their own 
camp fires seemed to be well supplied with a variety of game. 

After a while, many of the smaller animals were bartered for 
tobacco and flour, but in not one instance could they be induced 
to kill a bat ; they even asked, when I had captured one of these 
creatures alive in the tent, to let it go, as it was " brother 
belonging: to blackfellow." 


They told me that if it was killed, one of their lubras would 
be sure to die in consequence. They had their corobbories of a 
moonlight night, keeping our party awake with monotonous 
songs, and once they even had a sort of quarrel, and in conse- 
quence a fight a woman, as usual, being at the bottom of it 
but after all nobody was hurt, and I missed a good opportunity 
of observing their burial rites. 

There were, however, a few graves in the neighbourhood of 
Mr. Gardiner's station, in a thick pine scrub, enclosed by a rude 
brush fence, and covered with large pieces of cork. They 
appeared neglected, and were much more rude in shape than the 
graves subsequently encountered farther down the river. The 
settlers treated the poor blacks invariably with great kindness, 
in return for which they would look after the squatters' property 
with a keen eye. They would never allow the men to destroy 
any old fences or huts for the sake of a few dry slabs or a piece 
of bark ; and if no heed was taken of their remonstrances, would 
invariably report it at the next station. If their watchful eyes 
observed the tracks of a few stray sheep, they immediately 
altered their course, and took me miles out of my road to as 
it appeared no purpose whatever, until the stragglers were 
overtaken, and safely delivered at the head-station. 

Like all the other tribes they would share their food with each 
other, and if out hunting, and having too many followers for the 
few pounds of flour and tea with which we started, it was 
frequently found necessary to starve part of the garrison, by 
making the natives who accompanied us, eat their rations before 
our eyes, so that the idle camp followers were compelled to look 
after opossums, and leave us alone. 

Following the course of the Murray, I noticed about 18 or 20 
natives encamped near Campbell's Station, one of them a remark- 
able character, being an aged woman in good condition, with a 
large white beard ; the natives at this place appeared to subsist 
principally upon fish, of which 3 or 4 kinds including the Murray 
Cod (Oligorus macquariensis) , were roasting on their camp fires. 

At the Loddon Junction more natives were observed, all 
armed with fishing spears, and freely offering their women for a 
small number of hooks and lines. 


At Reedy Lake, about ten men and women were noticed, and 
at Lake Boga, six ; the natives who visited the camp at Lake 
Boga were remarkable on account of their powers of mimickry, 
and the good English they spoke ; all had been under the tuition 
of the Moravian Missionaries, and one appeared to make a 
livelihood by offering to preach like one of them ; he had a way 
of his own of saying home truths, like " white-fellow always 
pray give it daily bread, but bail give it damper." It appears 
that the Moravian Missionaries had made an attempt to teach 
the natives agriculture, but I fear with little success. A few 
small plots of ground enclosed with a brush fence, and overgrown 
with weeds, were all that was left of these " native gardens," 
to which their owners pointed with considerable pride. 

In this part of the country where extensive reed beds are of 
common occurrence, the natives live for several months during the 
year on " Typha roots," or Wongal (Typha Shuitleworthii) ; at a 
certain period, I believe January or February to be the months, 
the women enter these swamps, take up the roots of these reeds, 
and carry them in large bundles to their camp ; the roots thus 
collected are about a foot to eighteen inches in length, and they 
contain besides a small quantity of saccharine matter, a con- 
siderable quantity of fibre. The roots are roasted in a hollow 
made into the ground, and either consumed hot or taken as a sort 
of provision upon hunting excursions ; they are at the best but a 
miserable apology for flour, and I almost believe that it was more 
on account of the tough fibre thus obtained that these roots are 
made an article of food. 

As soon as a sufficient quantity of " Wongal " had been 
roasted, the whole tribes settled around the improvised oven, 
every body chewing the roots most vigorously ; the lumps of 
rejected fibre were afterwards collected by the women, and spun 
into threads from which their fishing-nets and other domestic 
utensils were manufactured, these nets forming the staple article 
of barter between the tribes inhabiting the reed-beds and those 
parts where no Wongal was produced. If we take into 
consideration the large nets for catching water-fowl in use, it is 
indeed astonishing how great the perseverance of these people 
(and how sound their teeth) must have been, and it is not to be 


wondered at that the possession of one of these nets has always 
been considered to be a sort of fortune to its owner. 

At the present time no more fishing-nets of Wongal fibre are 
' manufactured, as the natives barter twine from the settlers 

Between Lake Boga and the Junction of the Murrumbidgee, 
some sixty or seventy natives were observed encamped in small 
lots near the river or lagoons, most of them occupied with 
fishing. We passed several graves, the last near Coghill's 
Station, of the simple form noticed at Grunbower Creek, whilst a 
little farther on a regular hut had been erected over the departed 
native ; and at Hamilton's Station were two graves of this 
description, in a very good state of preservation. The form of 
these sepulchres changed again soon, being, instead of bark, 
covered with grass and reeds ; a fishing net generally enclosing 
the whole fabric. 

Nearly all the trees along the river-bank showed more or less 
traces of the presence at one time of a large number of natives : 
square pieces of bark for drying their opossum skins upon had 
been cut, often to the height of 20 feet above the ground ; there 
were also many signs upon these trees where canoes of great 
dimensions had once been removed, whilst fresh cuttings of this 
kind rarely occurred. 

It may be of interest to give a short description of the manner 
in which a canoe is manufactured : 

The tree selected is generally the species of Eucalyptus, known 
to the settlers as " Flooded Gum" by which the river banks from 
Swan Hill to the Darling Junction are invariably fringed ; the 
trunk must be free from branches or knots, and, if possible, 
slightly bent ; having found a suitable tree of this kind, a large 
forked branch is cut, and the tree being jammed between, it 
serves the native as a sort of ladder ; he begins by making two 
incisions which at first run parallel to each other, and then closing 
more and more join at the ends, the whole having the form of an 
elongate shield. The outer bark is then removed sufficiently to 
permit the introduction of a number of flattened sticks of tough 
wood, each about a quarter of an inch thick ; these sticks are 
wedged under the piece of bark, which is to form the canoe ; they 


bend easily, and soon loosen it from the trunk. With a couple 
of grass-ropes around the bark, it is then allowed to slide down, 
and is put upon the stocks in a regular way. Dry leaves, grass, 
and small branches, having been collected and pub into the still 
flat piece of bark, they are fired, and the sides soon begin to turn 
up ; when sufficiently bent, 3 or 4 sticks are introduced, to 
prevent the bark from curling any more ; accidental cracks or 
holes in the canoe are filled up with clay from the river-bank, 
and the boat is ready for use. 

These canoes are generally propelled with long elastic spears, 
and considerable progress is made on smooth water, as lakes or 
lagoons ; but to steer the frail bark dead against the stream in 
such a river as the Murray is almost impossible ; when going up 
stream, the natives keep close alongside the river banks, where 
the current is less, but they never travel long distances up the 
river, but frequently visit friendly tribes by going overland, and 
having manufactured a canoe, they drift down the stream, back 
to their own hunting grounds. 

A supply of clay is always kept in these canoes, and often 
when the bark is not of sufficient depth, a clay rim or dam is 
raised on both ends, to prevent the water from coming in ; being 
all good swimmers, the natives appear very careless with their 
frail craft, and if she sinks, which is however very seldom the 
case, they quietly swim ashore and build another. To sit 
perfectly quiet is the first rule, balance yourself well, keep 
baling out any water which may run in, and trust to the native 
who propels the boat ; the least motion from one side to the 
other suffices to fill and sink it, there being seldom more than 
about an inch of board. Being at 'home in the water, like New- 
foundland dogs, they appear to think that every white man who 
trusts himself to their bark canoes, must necessarily be the same, 
and if half-a-dozen men are willing to cross the river at once, the 
natives have generally no opposition to offer, and would almost 
as soon see some of their passengers drowned as cross the 
river twice. 

When out fishing at night, they have a small fire burning in 
the bow of the canoe, which is for that purpose covered with 
clay; some of the fishes are attracted hereby, and many of 


them speared. A loop of grass-rope, or green hide, attached to 
the side of the canoe, through which the spear is ran into the 
bottom of the river, answers the purpose of an anchor. 

Passing farther down the Murray, the natives increased in 
numbers, and at a lagoon near Kilkine, we found some 50 or 60 
of them assembled for the purpose of " making young men ; " 
these wretched youths being passed through various ordeals, one 
of which was to mount the candidate upon the shoulders of 
the biggest man in the tribe, to run round the camp fires 
with him, all the rest following with hideous noises, and to 
deposit him without as much as a shirt on, in some part of the 
scrub. Five or six of them passed the night there, shivering 
and hungry, until released by the men the next morning, 
and introduced to the adults of the tribe as " men." I do 
not think that these ceremonies were gone through in the 
orthodox style, and the youths did not appear to believe 
in them at all ; they assured me they only submitted 
because of their rights hereafter to take a lubra unto 

Both men and women were well made, with highly intelligent 
countenances ; but, except the young girls, none of them 
wore any covering whatever. When the men approached at 
the first interview, they wore two or three feathers of the White 
Cockatoo in their hair a sign of their being messengers of 
peace, and two of them who accompanied our party to the 
Darling Junction, never removed these feathers as long as they 
were upon the hunting grounds of another tribe. 

On no occasion did I notice any of the natives to travel at 
night, and whenever noises were heard, for which they could not 
account, they were invariably put down to the credit of Devil- 
Devil, and no promise whatever could induce them to leave 
their fires. 

A few miles from Milldura, at a place called Mondellemin by 
the natives, a permanent camp was established, and in a few days 
some twenty of them, including men, women, and children, were 
assembled near our huts ; they could not at first understand what 
brought us there, but when we purchased some of the native animals 
captured by them, they ever after brought in a good supply 


and became our permanent huntsmen. The boys would go out to 
collect insects, the women to look for small mammals, and the men 
looking for the larger game ; they would try their best to please, 
and obtain the reward offered for some of the more rare creatures, 
but not succeeding, they would as quickly try to pass off some 
common animal as the one which we were in want of. 

Being very anxious to obtain Mitchell's tail-less Chceropus 
(Choeropus ecaudatus) high rewards were offered, though in vain ; 
the cunning natives, not succeeding in finding the animal required, 
were in the habit of bringing any number of the common 
bandicoot, (Perameles obesula) with the tail screwed out. 

Altogether they became very useful, and very much attached 
to us, (as long as our flour bags lasted, at least) ; but whenever 
the stock of flour diminished, they would break up their camps, 
and pay visits at the neighbouring stations ; returning as quick as 
possible when they heard that a steamer had arrived with fresh 
supplies. At one time, when about fifty bags were in store, I 
observed two natives trying to count them ; but, their numerals 
being limited to one and two, this became rather a difficult task ; 
rongul means two, and meta one, so that rangul, rangul, meta is 
equivaleat to five, and so on ad infinitum ; of course, to count fifty in 
this fashion was too much for them, so informing the tribe that there 
were thousands of flour bags in the store, they returned shortly after, 
with a stick, into which they made a notch for every bag, keeping 
henceforth as good an account as the storeman. Nothing could keep 
them near the camp, or induce them to exert themselves in hunt- 
ing, except seeing a good supply of flour on hand ; and when some 
two months before our return to Melbourne, the stock became 
very low, and I feared to lose the natives, they were completely 
out-manoeuvred ; as I filled the empty bags with sand during 
the night, and piled them up with the rest. 

Never did I behold such astonished faces as the natives 
showed on the next morning ; they examined the ground for miles, 
looking for dray tracks, and as no steamer had passed, could not 
account for the flour thus arrived, and as usual, put it down to 
the agency of " Devil-Devil." 

I have often tried to find ont if they had any ideas of 
religion, but without success ; I know that the younger children 


often learn to read and to write, and I believe that Mr. Goodwin, 
of Yelta, has had some very successful scholars, but I do not 
think that the adults ever understood the principles of 

Once I met old Jacob, a Darling chief, in Mr. Goodwin's 
house, intensely looking at a colored print, representing our Lord 
as the " Good Shepherd," with a lamb upon his shoulders. 
Jacob addressed me in his quaint way of " make a light ! name 
belonging to that one Shepherd ? " 

I tried to explain the meaning of the picture, but to no 
purpose, and all I got out of poor Jacob was : " bail, shepherd 
belonging to this country ! never see him carry lamb on his 
shoulders, he always leave him along the bush." Taking the 
print literally, I do not think Jacob was far wrong. 

The natives living near Mr. Goodwin's place were much 
more comfortable in many respects than any of the tribes seen 
before ; they could always count upon a certain price in the 
shape of flour, tea, and sugar, for any work performed ; they 
lived in closed sort of huts, which had somewhat of a permanent 
character ; but I have reason to believe that all the good 
examples of Mr. Goodwin and his assistant, were counteracted 
by the presence of a lot of hard-drinking and hard-swearing 
bushmen at the Darling Junction public-house, opposite. 

Here, at Yelta, or rather on the New South Wales side of 
the River, the natives had always assembled in large numbers 
for the purpose of feasting upon fish and bartering their famous 
Myall-spears for reeds, Wongal-twine, and nets the produce 
of other parts of the country ; in olden times no doubt their 
stone hatchets were exchanged in a similar manner, as from 
Gunbower Creek to the Darling Junction there is not a stone to 
be met with the size of a man's fist. I have been told that the 
green stone, serpentine, or jade tomahawks used by the natives, 
were obtained at Mount Macedon, and that a certain locality on 
the side of the mount had been considered neutral ground by the 
neighbouring tribes, who went there for the purpose of obtaining 
suitable material for their weapons. 

About this time of the year, in the month of July, a similar 
gathering had taken place ; and one night I visited the camp, 


accompanied by Mr. Goodwin. There was no moon when we 
crossed the river, and following oar guide, we soon found 
ourselves in the midst of about two hundred natives, stretched 
around their camp-fires, which formed a semi-circle, the middle 
being occupied by " old Jacob," the famous chief, who appeared 
to keep them merry by telling a number of tales ; all were busy 
except Jacob. Some tried to straighten young shoots of the 
Myall, by heating them in the ashes, and then bending the wood 
into shape keeping their feefc and the whole weight of their 
body upon it ; others were occupied knitting nets, using Ihe 
same instrument as our fishermen do, and working with their 
hands and feet ; the women were cooking fish, of which a large 
supply had been obtained during the day, carefully reserving 
the taboo'd fish called Manor, for the use of the aged, no youth 
or lass being permitted to partake of it ; carving their waddies, 
or preparing opossums' skins for their rugs, kept others busy, and 
all this time the sonorous voice of old Jacob could be distinctly 
heard, and shouts of laughter testified how well the old man's 
tales were appreciated. 

When the moon rose, the men left their occupation, some 
ascending trees to cut down branches, others painting themselves 
with gypsum, for the forthcoming corobboree, and shortly after 
the dance commenced, performed by some fifty or sixty men, 
with bushes tied to their ancles. Their ribs, arms, and thigh- 
bones, were traced with gypsum upon the dark skin, and made 
them appear as so many skeletons ; the women and young girls 
formed a sort of orchestra, beating opossum rugs, and singing 
their monotonous airs ; all the dancing men, and some of the 
more aged ones who sat near the women, were provided with 
two short thick pieces of hardwood, which they beat to the time 
of the song. All this time one of their " doctors," as he was 
termed, experimented upon another blackfellow, as it would 
appear, in trying to deliver him of an immense worm which he 
seemed to pull out of his patient's mouth ; I found afterwards 
that this worm was part of the intestines of an opossum ; they 
went on enjoying themselves when I left, keeping the dance 
up until the small hours, and, of course, sleeping far into 
the day. 


The following morning we inspected their fishing gear, which 
was simple enough. For river or lagoon fishing, when the water 
is clear, they have a three-pronged spear, with which the} 7 strike 
the fish, either from their canoes or from logs in the water. 
Sometimes they fish at night, as mentioned beiore, and then a 
fire is lit in the bow of the canoe to attract the fish. They also 
have iron spears, and I was told that they would dive, and take 
up a position alongside a sunken log, keeping the spear 
horizontal with the right hand and the big toe, and running it 
through every fish which came within range ; sometimes five or 
six fish have been speared during the sixty or eighty seconds 
they remain under the water. 

I do not think that they use large nets for fishing in the 
river, but the women are very expert with hook and line, and 
with a sort of flat net fixed to a bent stick about 6 or 8 feet in 
length, similar to a dredge ; this, of course, is only fit for shallow 
lagoons, the outlets of which, when the flood-waters begin to fall? 
are closed with sticks or basket-work to prevent the fish escaping, 
thus creating a considerable reserve for the following months. 

The principal fishes used as food by the natives are the 
Murray Cod, (Oligorus macquariensis) ; Silver Perch, (Lates 
colonorum) ; Cat Fish, (Gopidoglanis tandanus) ; and Manor, 
(Ghatoessus come) ; most of the other species are small ; I believe 
however, that both kinds of Australian Mullet (Mugil dobula, and 
Mugil compressus) , and another species of so-called Perch inhabit 
the Murray, and its tributaries. 

As I am speaking about nets, I may as well mention their 
contrivance for catching water-fowl, in particular ducks. Wild 
ducks are as much prized by the natives as they are with us, 
and having studied the habits of these shy birds well, they 
have at last contrived a plan to catch them, which is a 
complete success. A large net, sometimes 20 feet deep by 
100 feet long, is spanned across a creek or river, to the two ends 
to which a string is fastened, resting upon some branch of a tree, 
being kept in readiness by two natives, who are posted beneath 
this tree, and the net completely immersed in the water. Some 
two or three miles higher up the creek, a party of natives start 
the birds, which invariably follow the bend of the creek, though 


sometimes at a height of a hundred feet or more; as soon as 
they are nearing the net, another native who is posted in the 
scrub gives a peculiar whistle similar to a species of hawk 
throwing a flat piece of wood or a boomerang among the startled 
birds, which immediately stoop to the level of the water's edge ; 
quick as lightning the net is raised, the ducks get entangled in 
its meshes, and become an easy prey to the women and children, 
who jump in to secure them. 

I have seen from 50 to 100 ducks taken in this manner at a 
haul. Black Duck, (Anas superciliosa) ; Shovellers, (Spatula 
rhynchotis) ; Teal, (Anas punctata) ; Pink-eyed or Whistling 
Ducks, (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) ; Wood Ducks, (Bemicla 
jubata) ; and White-eyed Ducks, (Nyroca australis) ; being the 
species most common. 

Of fresh water crustaceans, we find the large river Cray-fish, 
(Potamobius serratus,) distinguished by its spiny back and white 
pincers, and a species of Prawn, which is frequently eaten raw by 
the natives. 

The large cray-fish is secured in a very simple manner : a 
canoe is fastened in the stream, and two or three natives paddle 
with their hands in the water, the great crustacean makes a dart 
at their fingers with its pincers, and before he finds out his 
mistake, he is safely landed into the canoe the pincers being 
immediately broken off. 

Other kinds of food which the lagdons or river supply are 
tortoises, (Chelodvna), generally taken during the hot summer 
days when the water is low, also muscle shells (Unw) large 
mounds of which may be traced upon the river banks at intervals 
for hundreds of miles. 

Most of the natives being supplied with guns, they are able 
to surprise almost every kind of bird, though they generally 
shoot water-fowl only. The Emu is still hunted in the primitive 
style by hunters carrying bushes in their hands, and so trying to 
steal a march upon the rather stupid bird ; as soon as they are 
within range their spears are thrown and the bird secured. 

Fishes, cray-fish, insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, all birds, and 
the smaller mammals, are generally roasted upon the coals; 
whilst emus are treated in the following manner : The feathers 


are singed off, and a large hole is made in the ground, filled 
with leaves, dry branches, &c., the fire being well supplied with 
fuel for an hour or so ; the ashes and embers are then cleaned 
out, the bottom covered with fresh gum-leaves ; the carcase is 
put upon these, covered over with leaves again, and the 
whole with earth and lumps of clay (the size of a man's fist) 
which have previously been heated ; a fire is again lit upon the 
top, and after another hour the bird is done, tasting as sweet as 
if prepared by the best professed cook. 

Of Mammalia which are hunted by the native for the sake of 
their skins or their flesh, the common opossum (Plialangista 
vulpina), stands first. In the Mallee scrub, where the trees are 
of stunted growth, these animals are plentiful, and easily 
secured : whilst upon the river banks, where gum-trees one 
hundred or two hundred feet in height give them shelter, this 
is a more laborious task ; still even upon the highest tree 
poor 'Possum is never secure. I have seen one of these 
nimble blacks after a rainy day, when his stomach called loud for 
meat, carefully scan every tree along the river bank, until the 
trace of 'Possums' nails were found in one of the old " gums ; " 
tomahawk in hand, he mounted it, the first branch being about 
sixty feet above ground ; even then, he had to cut through a thick 
branch, and it was almost dark when he extracted an old 
opossum, which however, before it could be killed, dropped into 
the river below ; his wife had been watching him, however, and 
plunging into the stream, she secured their supper for that night. 

If nothing is to be had in the shape of meat, the last resource 
is, in summer time at least, to light a few branches and hunt for 
frogs, which may also be secured, summer or winter, beneath the 
bark of the flooded gum trees. Native cats, (Dasyurus gtoffroyii) 
all species of rats and mice, and the smaller wallabies, (Halmaturus,} 
are also eaten, and some of them obtained almost every day. The 
large kangaroos (Macropus major and Osphranter rufus) are 
generally hunted by a number of men with their dogs, the time 
chosen being after a heavy shower of rain, when the large 
animals sink deep into the chalky soil of the Mallee scrub. 

After a kangaroo has been killed, the successful hunter secures 
the kidney fat, which however is very small in quantity, it 


is generally attached to a string around the neck, and of coarse 
women and children who see this sign rejoice, and bring "home 
the carcass, if it is not too far ; or should more than one animal 
have been slaughtered, the tribe removes for a day or two, to eat 
the meat on the spot. 

A species of burrowing kangaroo-rat, (Bettongia campestris) and 
a sort of bandicoot, (Peragalea lagotis), are dug out occasionally. 

The kangaroo-rat, called Booming, is common in the scrub, 
and its burrows often cover a couple of acres of ground : the 
natives trace the direction of the holes, by inserting long slender 
twigs, and then sink a shaft, which sometimes requires to be 
from ten to twelve feet deep ; when they labour, they work with 
a will, and more than once I have noticed a couple of natives 
to sink three such shafts in a day. A pointed stick to loosen 
the earth, a sort of scoop to throw it up, or if too deep, to 
fill a kangaroo skin with it, are all the digging utensils they 

The burrowing bandicoot, known as Wuirrappur to the 
natives, is dug up in a similar manner. In fact there is scarcely 
a living animal from the grub of a large beetle to a whale, which 
an Australian rejects. The vegetable kingdom does not offer, 
however, a great variety of food. 

One or two herbs, the Quandong, and a root the size of a 
radish, are all the vegetables I have ever noticed these people to 
eat, though the so called " Pigface " (Mesembryanthemum 
cequilaterale), must not be forgotten ; it appears to be the only 
substitute for salt they have, and whenever their women have 
been out, they invariably return with some bunches of this 

Being dependent upon a variety of food which is not always 
in season, or more plentiful at one time than at another, they lead 
of course, a wandering life, and on this account do not erect any 
permanent dwelling. A simple break-wind of gum-branches is 
all they require, and sometimes a few sheets of bark are stripped 
to make their huts more comfortable, but beyond this they do 
not go ; these light structures are shifted, or rather turned, should 
there be a change of wind, or they are left altogether in case the 
vermin become too troublesome. 


Their weapons are just as simple ; a few reed-spears with 
hardwood ends, a throwing stick, a sort of shield, besides clubs 
or wad dies and boomerangs, comprise the whole of their armoury. 
The boomerang appears to have been a late introduction, and 
I have never seen a native on the Murray who made use of 
it as a defensive weapon. 

Their social position is naturally a very low one ; they do not 
appear to have any idea of a Supreme Being, they possess no 
religious rites, and every man who is strong and cunning enough 
to enforce his authority and to subject the weak, will always be a 
chief among them. Marriage ceremonies they have none, and 
when a native takes a lubra to himself for good, it is pretty 
certain that, however young she may be, she has- had connection 
with most of the men of the tribe. These women are often 
obtained by stealing them from another tribe, in which case the 
unhappy creature is generally beaten into a state of insensibility, 
or they are exchanged, any man giving his own sister for that of 
another ; thus many young men who have no sister to offer, are 
deprived of the blessings of the conjugal state, or rather they 
possess no lubra which they may order about, or make a slave of. 

They exchange wives out of compliment to visitors of other 
tribes, during the time of their stay ; and they freely ofier both 
their wives and daughters to any European who may have a 
piece of damper, a fish-hook, or any other present to bestow. 
They treat their children kindly, though they do not hesitate to 
destroy them sometimes at their birth, and particularly if the 
babe is a cripple ; still I remember a man, named Piper, with 
malformed feet, who was then about twenty-five years of age, and 
able to make a living as well as any other blackfellow. 

The children do almost what they like ; it sounds ridiculous, 
though it is a fact, when I say that they often leave the mother's 
breast, to take the pipe out of her mouth, and have a smoke ; 
they suckle their children often for four years and more. Of 
their dogs the natives are almost as fond as of their children. 
Women do not hesitate to suckle pups ; and it is not to be won- 
dered at, that under such circumstances, the dogs become much 
attached to the aboriginals : and if only with them for a few 
nights, they seldom follow their white master again. They sleep 


with fcheir dogs, gnaw at the same bone with them, and though 
they do not feed them well, the kind treatment makes up for the 
rest ; and as I mentioned before, a well-bred dog left with 
blackfellows for a few days, is a lost dog for ever. 

It has been stated that they were in the habit of killing their 
aged men and women ; this, however, must be a mistake, as I 
have noticed them to carry an old man about from place to 
place, who had been a cripple for 8 or 10 years. Cases of 
insanity are, I believe, of very rare occurrence ; though I remem- 
ber a single instance, a boy about 14 years of age was pointed 
out to me as a " silly boy : " but I had not sufficient time to 
observe him, he played football with the other boys of the tribe 
and appeared to be the most expert of them. 

Though they have not the faintest idea of religion, they are 
yet very superstitious : the universal belief that every death in 
their own little circle is caused by a member of a neighbouring 
tribe, and that vengeance will be taken accordingly is one of the 
principal causes perhaps of their rapid disappearance from 
among us. As soon as a native has breathed his last, messengers 
are sent to friendly families in the neighbourhood, and if bad 
news travels fast in civilised countries, it appears to travel much 
faster in the Australian bush. It is only with great reluctance 
that they pronounce the name of a departed friend, and if their 
wailings and the personal chastisement they inflict upon them- 
selves, upon such occasions are proofs of their sorrow, their 
feelings must be intense. 

The men seldom if ever wail, though they often inflict fearful 
gashes, principally upon their heads, mixing the blood with 
gypsum and thus cause the formation of a thick crust or skull cap 
which is frequently renewed. I have noticed a fine young fellow 
mourning the death of a young girl, (neither sister nor bride), 
stretch like Mucius Scaevola his right arm into the fire until 
that limb was almost roasted, the skin cracked and hanging 
around it in large patches. 

The women perform the noisy part of the business, howling 
incessantly for days and weeks, and only leaving off" during meal 
time, and when tired out they fall asleep for a few hours. The 
deeper they mourn the more gypsum is laid on, so that some- 


times nothing but the eyes, ears, and mouth, remain uncovered. 
Their burial rites I have had no opportunity to observe, but 
always found the graves well kept, and have generally seen the 
most romantic spots selected for the last resting place of their 

On the Lower Darling these sepulchres were generally made 
in some shield-like enclosure of brush wood, shaded by drooping 
acacias or cypress-pines, and covered with a rude hut of bark or 
brush wood, into which for a long period afterwards casual 
passers-by friends of the lost one implant a green bough, so 
that by the number of these boughs one may judge in what 
estimation the poor creature was held who rested beneath. Their 
strong belief that they will re-appear as white men, is well 
known, as also the desire to see a certain likeness in white men 
with one or another of their lost friends. The way in which they 
try to find out in which direction to take vengeance for a deceased 
member is singular. After the sand has been smoothed around 
the grave and the brush enclosure is formed, they leave the ground, 
returning from time to time until by some insect or other accidental 
cause the smooth surface has been disturbed, and in that direction 
retaliation is sought ; of late they are satisfied to throw a waddy 
or a few harmless spears at the first unlucky strange black they 
may thus encounter ; while formerly they tried to shed blood at 
least, if not able to kill their victim. 

Before concluding I shall say a few words about their artistic 
skill, which is confined to the embellishment of their rude 
weapons and skin coverings ; they seldom go beyond a series of 
straight lines at various angles, red and white being the usual 
color to set off the pattern. They are however tolerably good 
observers, as there is no difficulty whenever they carve the figure 
of a fish, a bird, or a mammal, upon a sandstone rock, or trace 
the same on a piece of blackened bark, to recognise the genus of 
the animal thus represented. The numerous bays and inlets of 
Port Jackson abound with such carvings, but on the Murray I 
have never seen any thing beyond a few tracings on sheets of 
blackened bark, probably done during a rainy day. 




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