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THE BECQUEREL RAYS
THURSDAY, MARCH 23, 1905.
organised to explore the Kalahari, under the leadership of Sir Frederick Lugard, during the years 1896–9.
Of the main expedition and its personnel we hear very THE KALAHARI DESERT.
little throughout the book. It had left Palapye some Die Kalahari. Versuch einer physisch-geographischen time before Dr. Passarge reached that place, at the
Darstellung der Sandfelder des südafrikanischen beginning of October, 1896. He followed with a small Beckens. By Dr. Siegfried Passarge. Pp. xvi+
party, and a few days after starting he was stricken
with fever. A woful month ensued, during which, 822; illustrated; and with a “ Kartenband ” containing 11 maps and 10 sheets of sections, sketches, &c.
with a dying prospector as his companion in mis(Berlin : Dietrich Reimer (Ernst Vohsen), 1904.)
fortune, he lay in or under the wagon as it trekked Herausgegeben mit Unterstützung der königlich- slowly north-westward across the eastern part of the
desert. preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Price So marks (unbound).
Not until the middle of November did he regain
his feet; but his recovery thereafter was rapid, and NOW TOW if we could imagine that Mr. Shandy the
his field-work in various parts of the Middle Kalahari elder were alive, this is a book that, like many
was carried on subsequently without serious interrupanother of its class, would have delighted him.
tion until its termination in October, 1898. During Hereby he could have proved triumphantly to Yorick
the two years thus spent, his traverses extended east the potency of that great scheme of education—that
and west over a breadth of about 700 km., and north “north-west passage to the intellectual world "
and south for about 500 km., the site of the desiccated which he propounded so enthusiastically upon a memor
Lake Ngami lying roughly central to these journeys. able occasion. His scheme, it will be remembered,
His official investigations were directed chiefly to the was that upon every substantive in the dictionary the
islands of ancient rocks with which the region is Auxiliaries (so gravely misunderstood by the Corporal sparingly studded, mainly in the form of subdued hilland Uncle Toby) should be brought to bear ex
chains but occasionally in comparatively low-lying haustively :-"Every word, Yorick, by this means,
tracts that have remained uncovered by the superficial you see, is converted into a thesis or an hypothesis :
formations of the desert. To reach these islands it every thesis and hypothesis have an offspring of pro
was necessary to cross the level sandy veldt for longer positions ;-and each proposition has its own con
or shorter distances—traverses that were often very sequences and conclusions; every one of which leads difficult and full of hardship and Dr. Passarge had the mind on again, into fresh tracts of enquiries and
thus the opportunity to carry out that careful study doubtings.-- The force of this engine,' added my of desert conditions in the Kalahari which forms what father, is incredible....!!
we must regard as the main subject of his book. The Even up to the numberless “ tracts of enquiries and
ancient rocks were found to consist of two great series doubtings," it is in this spirit that Dr. Passarge has
of unfossiliferous greywackes, schists, and limeattacked * Die Kalahari "; and the book before us, i stones, often much altered by dynamic and thermal with its mass of spacious solidly printed pages, is the agencies, and probably in the main pre-Cambrian, result. It is a work which compels our admiration, though possibly ranging down into Cambrian times. not only for the thorough and painstaking manner in Among these ancient sediments there are many which its author has carried out his personal investi- intrusions of acid and basic igneous rocks. The gations, often in circumstances of great difficulty; but thin superficial deposits, though incomparably more also for the acumen with which he has grasped the
recent, are believed by Dr. Passarge to include beds bearing of his observations upon problems of world that may date back to Eocene times. By their comwide range; and for the astounding industry with position and structural alteration through weathering, which he has pushed his researches into all the ramifi
these desert-formations held to indicate the cations of his subject. In giving us, for the first time, successive conditions that have ruled in the region an adequate knowledge of a large part of that hitherto since Mesozoic times; and it is in his discussion of little known region of South Africa, the Kalahari these deposits that the author gives the fullest play Desert, he has also contributed most significantly to to his powers. our earth-knowledge in general. Hence his book,
To take the contents of the book in their given besides forming the basis for all future work in the order :--After a modest preface, the author deals, Kalahari, must have a weighty influence in many in chapter i., with the explorations of his prequestions pertaining to the geological history of the decessors in the Kalahari. The list of references continent of Africa and to the changes of climate added at the end of the chapter constitute his bibliothat are recorded in the rocks of many other parts of graphy of the subject-a convenient arrangement the globe.
that is followed throughout the book. In the second We feel that it is a forlorn hope to attempt within chapter Dr. Passarge gives a consecutive account and the limits of our space to present in true proportion itinerary of his travels and experiences. This account even an outline of the contents of this great mass of is to a large extent repeated and amplified in the topoinformation with its leaven of speculative deduction. graphical descriptions of later chapters. The third But let us to the attack !
chapter is occupied with a short description and cateDr. Passarge was attached, as mining expert, to an gorical formulation of the topographical and hydroexpedition of the British West Charterland, Ltd., graphical conditions of South Africa generally, through
all its divisions and subdivisions. In chapter iv. the The two chapters already mentioned as forming an author deals in the same manner with South African 'interlude to the topographical details are comparatively geology, with the literature of which he appears to be amusing. The first (xvi.) describes the geological well acquainted. Respecting this literature, he re- effect of the burrowing animals of the desert, both marks (p. 39) :
mammals and insects, upon the superficial formations, "So ist denn die Geschichte der geologischen with numerical calculations as to its efficacy in proForschung in Südafrika eine wahre Komödie der ducing large results. The second gives a summarised Irrungen. So viel Forscher, so viel Ansichten! Ja, description of the structure of the deposits found on ein und derselbe Forscher haben ihre Auffassung the sites of the desiccated lakelets or " Kalkpfannen" wiederholt gewechselt. . .
of a certain district, with a particular inquiry into the He debates anew the many doubtful points in the origin of the water-holes ("* Pfannenkrater '') that in correlation of the rocks, and expresses his views
many cases still persist within them. After stating thereon. This chapter with its bibliographical the problem in his favourite manner, under various appendix might be used as a general introduction to headings in interrogative form, the author proceeds the study of South African geology. It is illustrated
to show that all the peculiar features of the waterby a geological map of Africa south of 10° S. lat.
holes may be assigned to the agency of the wild (Blatt ii. in the “ Kartenband ”), which, though rough animals that have used them as drinking places and in execution and crude in colouring, serves to give at bath-tubs. He enumerates these animals; shows from a glance the main lines on which the rocks of this part the records of the first white travellers how multiof the continent are arranged. The climate of South tudinous they once were; gathers data from the Berlin Africa and of the Kalahari afford material for Zoological Gardens as to the drinking capacity of most chapter v., which includes a summary of the author's of the larger herbivores; supplements this with observpersonal observations on the weather, and concludes
ations on the drinking of his draught animals when with some very acceptable notes on the rapidly pro- trekking in the desert; calculates the amount of disgressive desiccation of the country, based on a com- solved and suspended matter in the water of the parison of the experiences of the earlier and later
pans,” and how much would be carried away in explorers.
the interiors of the beasts that drank it; and also how Then follows a solid block of chapters—vi. to xxiv., much they removed on their exteriors after their pp. 105-530—devoted, except for an interlude in occasional mud-baths. Then, the cubic space of the chapters xvi. and xvii., to the detailed account of the water-hole being known, and the number of its former author's investigations in the several districts visited— visitants estimated, a simple calculation brings out the Kwebe and neighbouring hill ranges; the region the number of years in which, by this agency, the bordering on Ngami and the Botletle River; the Haina hole could have been produced. Veldt; the Chanse Veldt and the adjacent German
Is there not the germ of a glorious question for frontier; the western part of the Okavango basin with
some future examination paper in the following its rapidly perishing river-system, of which the de
sentences ?scription is of extreme interest; the Kaukau Veldt;
“Nehmen wir die Oberfläche eines Nashorns auf the Kung Veldt; and the Mahura Veldt. With many “ Überblick ” and “ Rückblick,
6 qm an und die Kruste nach jedem Schlammbad auf
I mm, so trägt jedes Tier 6 1 Schlamm fort. Wenn "Folgerung," the author pursues his way through also io dieser Tiere während der Trockenzeit (180 masses of detailed observations, all carefully classified, Tage) täglich baden, tragen sie im Jahr 10.8 cm subdivided, and marked with sign-posts in the form Schlamm fort, im Laufe von weniger als 2000 Jahren
Das of head-lines; and many a pertinent interrogative also den Inhalt einer Pfanne von 20,000 cbm.
würden 10 Nashörner allein fertig bringen!" (p. 321). sentence, spaced out in the text, is conscientiously answered or as conscientiously evaded by further Let us acknowledge, however, that from this questions. It is in these chapters that the operation of singular line of research a very important deduction the Auxiliaries is most forcefully felt. To the general is drawn, and is in keeping with all the other reader the greater part of these details must be arid, as
evidence :befits the description of a desert, yet not without “ Denn diese Zahl besagt, dass vor dieser Zeitrefreshing oases here and there. Nor can it be denied sagen wir rund 6000-7000 Jahren--das Chansefeld ein that in a region undergoing such rapid changes in wesentlich anderes Klima gehabt haben muss respect to rainfall and drainage-systems, the full par- (p. 322). ticulars as to the exact condition of all the water-pans After giving, in chapter xxx., a summary of our at the time that they were examined are certain to scanty knowledge of the vast area of the Kalahari prove of value in the future for purposes of compari- beyond the regions which he visited, the author proson; while to the geological traveller who may here- ceeds to epitomise his own observations and to deal after visit the Middle Kalahari the whole of these with the broader aspects of his subject. The orochapters are likely to prove of service. Indeed, when graphic and hydrographic conditions of the Kalahari we remember how much more might have been written as a whole are briefly stated in chapter xxxi., with a from the impressions of a trained observer at work in summary of the evidence for the rapidly progressive a new country during two whole years, we feel, on desiccation of the land in a definite direction. Then the whole, inclined to be grateful to Dr. Passarge for follow chapters on the basement-rocks (das Grundhis moderation.
gestein) of the region; on the development and
antiquity of the South African land-mass; and on the of 447 rock-specimens and slides by Prof. Kalkowsky; superficial formations (die Deckschichten). In chapter twelve chemical analyses of rocks; an account of the *XXV., entitled
Die Mesozoische Wüsten-periode," land and freshwater shells from the newer superficial the author discusses the different stages of alteration deposits by Prof. E. v. Martens; a full account of the shown both by the older rocks and by the superficial diatoms by H. Reichelt; and a list of plants. The last formations, through "einkieselung " or cementation twenty-seven pages of the book are occupied by the by infiltrated silica, and “verkieselung" or replace- classified indices. ment of carbonates by silica ; and he gives his reasons There is no attempt at artistic embellishment in the for recognising successive periods of alteration and text-illustrations; and the same may be said of the deposition consequent upon changes in the physical numerous sheets of maps, plans, and sections conconditions of the land. He goes far afield in his tained in the “Kartenband,” some of which, indeed, argument, touching upon the various effects of rock- appear scarcely to justify their reproduction, while in weathering under almost every climate of the globe, many the scale seems to be unnecessarily large. but with especial reference to desert-conditions. He And now that we have growled our way through brings this information to bear upon the South African the book, and have earned the concluding pipe of geology generally, where he recognises evidence for peace, let us add that when a capable and earnest desert-conditions of great antiquity and long duration,
worker is willing, in publishing his results, to underbut with occasional intermission. Whether these go the severe labour that a production of this kind speculations are well founded it will remain for the must have entailed, our sense of gratitude toward keen investigators now working in South Africa to him should be paramount, and should stifle all minor decide.
complaints and especially the impatient grumbling In the same strain of more or less hypothetical de- that arises in the main from our own unrealised duction following upon an epitomised re-statement of indolence.
G. W. L. the main facts, are the next two chapters—xxvi. Periode der Brackwasserkalke und der Laterite," and
ANIMAL PHOTOGRAPHY. xxvii. “ Die Pluvialzeit und ihr Abklingen bis zur Photography for the Sportsman Naturalist. Gegenwart "-in which the probable condition of the L. W. Brownell. American Sportsman's Library. interior of South Africa is traced through Tertiary and Pp. xviii +311; illustrated. (New York : The Macpost-Tertiary times. It seems somewhat hazardous to millan Company; London: Macmillan and Co., correlate the isolated and widely scattered patches of Ltd., 1904.) Price 8s. 6d. net. thin sandstone and limestone by their lithological
N several previous occasions we have had the characters alone, and to assign them to successive pleasure of noticing some of the admirable periods. One line of argument by which the author volumes belonging to that series of the Sportsman's reaches his conclusions with respect to the age of Library” which deals exclusively with the various the desert-beds of the Kalahari is by comparing them animals constituting the sportsman's quarry. In the with the more readily determinable Tertiary succession volume now before us we have, on the other hand, of Egypt. On questionable grounds he suggests that one of a second series devoted to different aspects his “ Pfannensandstein ” may be assigned to the of sports and matters connected theçewith. In reEocene, his “ Kalaharikalk” to a somewhat moist garding practical photography as an essential element episode in Miocene and Lower Pliocene times; after in the education and outfit of every modern sportswhich he recognises a period of dry conditions in the man who desires to be something more than a mere Middle Pliocene, and then a Pluvial period of late slayer of game, the editor has undoubtedly been well Pliocene and early post-Pliocene times. This Pluvial advised; and he also has been exceptionally fortunate period may be accepted with some confidence as being in securing the services of an expert with the exin close relation to the occurrence of the Glacial period perience and reputation of Mr. Brownell to make in northern Europe. Evidence from many other parts known to the beginner the mysteries of the camera of the world tends to show that the progressive and the technique of outdoor animal photography. desiccation that has gone on since that period has | If the reader is careful to bear in mind that when not by any means been confined to the African the author refers to “our animals " he means the continent.
members of the North American and not of the Among the interesting side-issues raised or British fauna, the book will, we venture to think, capitulated in these later chapters of the book are prove as acceptable to sportsmen and field-naturalists questions as to the antiquity of the Kalahari fauna; on this side of the Atlantic as to the countrymen the geological effect of wind-action; the obliteration of the author; and if this turn out to be the case, a of dry river-beds; " zoogene erosion”; the change of wide circulation would seem to be assured. climate in North Africa during historic times; and In his introduction Mr. Brownell gives a concise others that we have no space even to catalogue. and yet comprehensive sketch of the history of photo
The next-and last-chapter gives a review of the graphy, dwelling especially on the enormous strides plant-life of the Kalahari, with especial reference to it has made during the last half-dozen years. The the evidence which it bears as to the changing con- loss of time that he himself experienced in having to ditions of the land. Then follow various appendices, learn everything for himself when first taking up occupying one hundred pages. These contain a few animal photography is alluded to as a kind of justifiastronomical observations; a petrographical description cation (if one be needed) for the appearance of his