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The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, June 20 (1840)

147

Reviews.

1.
Chart of New Zealand, from original Surveys. By T. M'Donnell, Lieut., R.N. With Plans of the Hokianga River, of Southern Port, Stewart's Island, of Dusky Bay, &c. Engraved and published by James Wyld, Charing-cross East.
2.
Chart of Port Nicholson, New Zealand. Surveyed by E. M. Chaffers, R.N. 1839. Published by James Wyld, Charing-cross. June 1, 1840.
The first of the above charts is the beat general map of New Zealand extant. It is very properly called a chart, because more is known of the coasts than of the interior, which is, in fact, at present merely conjectural. Great care has been taken by Mr. Wyld in the drawing of this general chart or map; he has certainly availed himself, with care and skill, of all the authorities within his reach: and every one at all interested in the country should possess himself at once of this map.
The chart of Port Nicholson, by Captain Chaffers, is an important addition to the geography, or rather to the hydrography of New Zealand. It shows that the author's knowledge of this particular branch of the profession to which he belongs, especially fits him for the command he now fills. We have already spoken of hilt MS. charts, illustrated by Mr. Heaphy's drawings. They will, no doubt, continue to contribute to our hydrographical stores; and by the time Mr. Wyld's great map is published, we apprehend we shall want but little to complete our knowledge of the sea coasts of the New Zealand group. As for the interior, a knowledge thereof can only be a work of time—the result of small contributions, as the surveying and settlement of the country proceeds. With these instalments, so to speak, of geographical knowledge, it is Mr. Wyld's intention to keep pace; indeed, the two productions above quoted may be taken as evidence of this.
In an early number, it is our intention to insert an article on the sources of our geographical knowledge of New Zealand, in which the principal publications will be noticed.
The Falkland Islands; Compiled from Ten Years' Investigation of the Subject. By G. T. Whittington, London: Smith and Elder, and J. Ridgway. 1640.
This is a very complete account of the Falkland Islands. The author has evidently examined every document relative thereto; and the pamphlet before us, as the title-page imports, is the result of his investigations.
It commences with a history of the claim! to the sovereignty of the Falklands, from the time the French took possession of them, in 1763, until the recent occupation of them by this country. It is somewhat singular that, whilst the Falkland Islands have been considered well worth quarrelling about by all the great colonizing nations, they have been almost wholly neglected when once possessed.
Mr. Whittington contends that they are worth colonizing, both as a desirable commercial station, and as a military post. The following are his observations on the subject:—
"I shall now proceed to offer my observations and suggestions regarding the Falklands, founded upon a careful examination of the numerous authentic documents in my possession,—acquired during many years of diligent inquiry; and I feel myself fully justified in stating that they possess every facility and every requisite to form a commanding naval and commercial depôt, and for the establishment of a prosperous and important fishing colony, to be connected with the breeding of cattle and coarse-woolled sheep, so as to render it one of the most valuable dependencies of the British Grown.
"The first objects which attract particular attention are the numerous, safe, and convenient harbours for shipping, all created by the hand of nature, without any artificial aid for man; amongst these the splendid Berkley Sound claims our first attention, possessing as it does every advantage which either art or science can bestow, and in which spacious harbour all the fleets of Europe might find anchorage at the same time. In this favourable position, it Is evident there exists the means for establishing a most commodious naval station, which from its locality becomes daily more requisite, in consequence of the increasing extension of our Australian and South American commerce, and the absence of any other naval position belonging to Great Britain, nearer to the southern hemisphere than the Cape of Good Hope.
"In a political point of view, our commercial relations with the republics of South America having now become of vast national importance, they require both protection and support, which the naval command upon the South American station is incompetent to supply, from being compelled at present to rendezvous either at Rio Janeiro, or to hover about the Rio Plata; but if a naval station were established in East Falkland, the ships of war would sustain little wear and tear, their damages could be easily repaired, their supplies constantly at band, and their proximity and command of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans would enable them, at all times, to grant ample protection to the mercantile interests of Great Britain. It also forms an object for due consideration, that a saving to a large amount annually would be effected in the unavoidable expenditure now incurred upon the South American command, by England possessing a naval establishment in that quarter; and, viewing the subject politically, suppose a war to break out with France, North America, or even with any of the South American republics, in such an event, which I hope is far distant, then a naval station at the Falklands would almost at the outset be decisive of the contest, as in point of fact it would be impossible for any number of vessels to navigate those seas and to escape the notice of the British cruisers; and they would not only command in that vicinity, but also possess every facility for cruising between the Falklands and the Cape of Good Hope.
"Placed intermediately between both seas, with a harbour of refuge at hand to refit in, and a good look-out, it would be difficult, if not impracticable, for any ship to navigate those seas without the permission of Great Britain; and upon these considerations alone I contend, that the Falkland Inlands constitute a most important British dependency."
Mr. Whittington thinks that a settlement might be formed on East Falkland "capable of absolutely insuring prosperity to the settlers, with the certainty of rendering most essential services to the shipping and commercial interests of this country; and that independently of any political benefit to be derived from possessing a naval station there."
In this we are disposed to agree. Most of the ships bound for the Australasian Colonies and the East Indies require some half-way stopping-place, to obtain supplies. Emigrant ships especially require as the poorer classes are not so well provided for a long voyage, as the wealthier class of settlers. The necessary cleaning of the ship and washing of linen cannot be well conducted at sea; so that most of the ships bound for the Pacific, touch at Rio or elsewhere. Now, for such a purpose, at certain seasons of the year, the Falklands would be well adapted. The wild cattle, which seem to thrive wonderfully on the Islands, would furnish abundance of provisions for ships, and there is no doubt that a great victualling trade would be carried on.
Mr. Whittington shows that, in point of soil and climate, the Falklands have been misrepresented. The climate he represents as more equable and more healthy than that of England, and the soil is capable of producing most of the vegetable productions of this country.
As to the conclusion that the Falklands are barren, drawn from the fact that there are no aborigines thereon, Mr. Whittington shows that other cases do not warrant the assumption:—
"It is insisted upon by Dr. Johnson and others, that the absence of original native inhabitants furnishes conclusive proof of their barrenness and inclemency: I reply that the island of Juan Fernandez, which gave rise to the beautiful tale of Robinson Crusoe, forms at once an indisputable refutation of that erroneous doctrine; the climate of that island presents a perpetual spring, yielding in abundance all the luxuries of life, but not possessed of aboriginal occupants. The North American States have recently obtained its sovereignty from the Republican Government of Chili, and created a settlement for the purpose of forming a naval station, to benefit and advance their commerce in the southern hemisphere. In respect to climate, Terra del Fuego, an island situated several degrees further south than the Falkland, is admitted to be, at its southernmost point, barren in soil, and of inhospitable climate; notwithstanding which thousands of aborigines exist there, and they continue to increase, even at the very southernmost point; and still further south, is situated an island of considerable extent, named the Hermit, in latitude 56 deg., upon which aborigines are found, living in a cheerless region, amidst winds and tempests.
"Several places which enjoy the most favourable climate, nevertheless did not possess aboriginal inhabitants—for instance, the Island of Madeira, so celebrated for its salubrious and mild climate; yet no one would argue that the want of primitive occupants was of itself sufficient proof that the Island was unfit to be inhabited. The Ionian Islands, again, afford another forcible illustration of the fallacy of these hasty unwarranted assertions, and which are the result of prejudice and want of due consideration; if generally admitted, they would have left those peculiarly favoured places unpeopled, even at the present day. It is the characteristic of prejudice, to confound right and wrong together, and being always governed by ignorance and obstinacy, to persist in error, and resist the truth."
In conclusion, we have only to observe, that in this colonizing age, we have not much doubt that a few years will witness a thriving population established in the Falklands; and, if the new principles were called into action, the risk of failure would be small indeed. Those who are interested in the question of colonization generally, should possess themselves of Mr. Whittington's book, which is enriched with two good maps, prepared by Wyld.
Australiana. Thoughts on Convict Management, and other Subjects connected with the Australian Penal Colonies. By Captain Maconochie, R.N., K.H. Parker, West Strand. 1839.
We have received the above work for review. We differ with its general object, but it is far too able an exposition of the author's views, to be dismissed With a cursory notice. We shall, therefore, go carefully through it, and take a more leisure opportunity of reviewing it at length.

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