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Volume 19, 1886

Wellington Philosophical Society.

First Meeting. 30th June, 1886.
Dr. Hector, President, in the chair.

Papers.—1. “Report on the Infusoria of New Zealand,” from the Microscopic Section of the Society. Communicated by W. M. Maskell, F.R.M.S. (Transactions, p. 49.)

2. “On the English Scaly Lizard in New Zealand, Zootoca vivipara,” by T. W. Kirk. (Transactions, p. 67.)

3. “Note on the Occultation of Jupiter and its Satellites, 16th April, 1886, as observed at Petone, New Zealand,” by Dr. Hector.

Times by watch, approximate to New Zealand mean time: Disappearance of 1st satellite, 11h. 28m. 20s.; 2nd satellite, 11h. 30m. 40s. Planet: 1st limb, 11h. 31m. 35s.; 2nd limb, 11h. 32m. 27s.; 3rd satellite, 11h. 34m. 0s.; 4th satellite, 11h. 35m. 15s. Reappearance: 1st satellite, 12h. 42m. 30s.; 2nd satellite, 12h. 44m. 45s. Planet: 1st limb, 12h. 45m. 30s.; 2nd limb, 12h. 47m. 10s.; 3rd satellite, 12h. 48m. 0s.; 4th satellite, 12h. 49m. 20s. Observed with a 4in. refractor, 100 diameter eye-piece. At disappearance of satellites no change, but sharp and sudden. The advancing limb of the planet on dark edge of the moon was blurred before it was flattened, and during the occultation the planet's disc was crossed by a distinct silvery streak parallel with the moon's edge, decidedly brighter than the rest of the planet, and distant about 4″ from the moon's edge. Between this streak and the moon's edge the light was only slightly, if at all, brighter than the rest of the disc. This streak maintained its position relative to the moon's edge until the planet was almost totally occluded, but the last film of light from the planet's limb suddenly shrank to a minute point of light, which disappeared sharply in the same manner as the satellites had done. The reappearance of the planet from the bright limb of the moon showed no silvery streak, but a dusky film seemed to divide the planet from the moon, as it passed from behind, and especially at the time of final emergence.

4. The President delivered an address. (Transactions, p. 461.)

Second Meeting: 4th August, 1886.
Dr. Hector in the chair.

Papers.—1. “On the New Zealand Glow-worm,” by G. V. Hudson. (Transactions, p. 62.)

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Fish Exhibited

2. “On a new Species of Giant Cuttle-Fish, (Architeuthis kirkii),” by C. H. Robson. Communicated by Dr. Hector. (Transactions, p. 155.)

3. “On the Earth-worms of New Zealand,” by W. W. Smith. (Transactions, p. 123.)

4. “On the Track of a Word,” by E. Tregear. (Transactions, p. 482.)

5. “Additional Information concerning the Eruption at Rotomahana,” by Dr. Hector. Illustrated by photographic views taken by Mr. C. Spencer.

Dr. Hector stated that the curves registered by the barographs or self-registering barometers at Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Lincoln (Christchurch), and Dunedin, had been received, and showed curious modifications, which might throw some light on these eruptions. The Lincoln barometer showed on the 21st May, at 3 p.m., a very marked indentation, that reappeared on many days at intervals of twenty-four hours. A similar, but inverted, notch was noticed on the 24th at Rotorua, and for some days subsequently, but was wanting at other places. A still more curious fact was, that further notches had appeared on the 28th June and the 1st July, (after the eruption), at Lincoln, which made him doubt any possible connection between these curves of the barograph and our New Zealand eruptions. He pointed out that at the time of the Sunda eruptions, in 1883, such disturbances in the atmospheric pressure were noticed here and at other places, and suggested that possibly the recent eruptions of Etna, or some outbreak of Mounts Erebus or Terror, in the Antarctic Continent, might have something to do with the matter.

Exhibits.—Dr. Hector showed a new and valuable food fish, caught off the Island of Kapiti by Mr. S. H. Drew. It belongs to the genus Pimelepterus, all recorded species of which are confined to tropical seas; but Dr. Günther states in a private note that a fish of this kind caught in Sydney Harbour has been erroneously placed in the genus Pachymetopon. The name proposed for this new species is Pimelepterus drewii.

A specimen of Girella simplex, caught in the Wanganui River, also by Mr. Drew, was exhibited. This fish, Captain Gilbert Mair recognises as the true Parore of the Natives, which at certain seasons frequents the mangrove swamps in the North, and about the true nature of which there has been much uncertainty.

Third Meeting: 25th August, 1886.
Dr. Hector in the chair.

New member.—H. A. Gordon, F.G.S.

Papers.—1. “Notes in Reference to the Prime Causes of the Phenomena of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” by W. T. L. Travers, F.L.S. (Transactions p. 331.)

Mr. Crawford doubted if volcanoes were chiefly situated in tropical regions. He had been surprised to hear of late that the supposed craters in the moon were really made of ice. This would need explanation.

Mr. Hudson made some remarks regarding the fluid condition of the earth's interior not being compatible with the observed effects of the moon's attraction.

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Mr. George referred to the difference in temperature of interior of the earth in different countries.

Mr. Maxwell said the contraction of the earth's surface was a prime cause. The earth's interstitial friction was sufficient to generate heat, which, when water is brought into contact with the heated parts, quite explains the explosions that take place.

Dr. Hector considered that the causes referred to by the author were very remote from the causes of the earthquakes and volcanoes of the present, or, indeed, any past geological period which we can study. How the globe solidified and assumed its present form is not the question: but what is the nature and origin of the force that produces the great mountain chains and the ocean beds? If we could drain the ocean-beds, we should find them only bordered by volcanic rocks, that occupy a very insignificant proportion in the Earth's crust, as compared with the stratified rocks. Take a line, for instance, from New Zealand in a great circle to the north-west, through the Indian Archipelago and South Europe, and we find a thickness of stratified deposits about 400 times the thickness of the same formations to the right or left. This is a common feature of all great mountain regions; in fact, there had been a steady depression or inflexing of the Earth's surface, in which deposits of sediment are continuous, until more than 30 miles' thickness had accumulated in that particular line. Then followed a great elevation, or reversal, of the same flexure, so that the sediments are largely removed by denudation, and the basement formation or rocky core of the original surface crust is actually laid open to view. Here, therefore, we have evidence of the Earth's surface having been engulphed to at least 30 miles; and yet in such mountains as the Himalayas, or Alps, volcanic rocks are almost wanting, the igneous rocks present being mainly such as result from deep-seated crushings. If we were dealing with a globe having only a thin shell, resting on a fluid, such flexures would necessarily have been accompanied by most terrific protrusions of the interior matter. Regarding the temperature of the Earth, it has been found that in the Sierra Nevada, in the Comstock lode, when they had gone down 2,000 feet, a temperature was reached at which the men could not work; water gushed from the rock at 145° Fahr., and the temperature could not be kept below 100°. That was 4,000ft. above sea-level, the mouth of the mine being at 6,000ft. At Stawell, in Victoria, the mines start at 800ft. above sea-level, and go down 2,400ft., that is 1,600ft. below sea-level; yet the miners are not in the least degree inconvenienced by increased heat. That shows that the increase of temperature must have been caused by other circumstances than the central heat of the earth. With regard to the objection offered by Mr. Crawford as to the ice on the moon, he mentioned a most interesting paper in “Nature,” taken from an American source, by John Ericsson, who shows that a body exposed to space without an atmosphere would be reduced 142° below zero when turned away from the sun; while the side turned towards the sun would never be above 81° below zero.

Mr. Travers, in reply to Mr. Crawford, stated that we know perfectly well that the existence of water on the globe depends entirely on the presence of the atmosphere. Remove the atmosphere, and all the water would ascend into space and be diffused in the form of aqueous vapour. As to the surface of the moon being encrusted with ice, the theory is certainly new, and at variance with all telescopic observation. He then referred to the strides made in lunar photography, and upheld the other theories he had advanced.

2. “On the Honeydew of the Coccidœ, and their Fungus,” by W. M. Maskell. (Transactions, p. 41.)

Mr. H. Travers said that the black fungus found on leaves was the scaly blight.

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Fourth Meeting: 8th September, 1886.
Dr. Hector in the chair.

Papers.—1. “On Polynesian Folk-lore,” by E. Tregear. (Transactions p. 486.)

2. “On a new Species of Moth, (Pasiphila lichenodes), by A. Purdie, M.A. (Transactions, p. 69.)

Fifth Meeting: 20th October, 1886.
Dr. Hector in the chair.

New Member.—Mr. Hughes.

Papers.—1. “On the Waihao Greensands and their Relation to the Ototara Limestone,” by Mr. McKay. (Transactions, p. 434.)

2. “On Tree Blight,” by W. M. Maskell, F.R.M.S.

The author suggested that the Government be petitioned to take some immediate action in the matter, and try by every means to prevent the wholesale destruction of their trees by insects, etc. In his opinion it would be of far greater use to spend some of the vote to the Forest Department in preserving the trees, than in trying to plant olives in Auckland. He had been for some time trying to bring about some action in the matter, and he would move “That a deputation wait upon the Government and petition that something might be done.”

Mr. Crawford seconded the resolution, which after discussion was unanimously carried.

Mr. Maskell proposed, and Mr. Chapman seconded, “That the Council of the Society be authorised to take steps to carry out this resolution.”—Carried.

Salmon-trout from Hutt River

Exhibits.—(1.) A fine specimen of female salmon-trout which had been caught by Mr. Rutherfurd in the Hutt River, weighing 11 pounds, was exhibited by Dr. Hector. (2.) The Chairman exhibited a map of the recent earthquakes at Charlestown, which he had just received, and certain remarkable facts connected with them were discussed. (3.) A collection of fossils from Otago were also shown and described by Mr. McKay.

Dr. Hutchinson was nominated to vote in the election of Governors of the New Zealand Institute for the ensuing year.

Earthquakes at Charleston

Fossils from Otago

Sixth Meeting: 19th January, 1887.
Dr. Hector in the chair.

New Member.—Mr. J. Esdaile.

Papers.—1. “On a Common Vital Force,” by Coleman Phillips.


The author states that his paper contains a subject partaking rather of philosophical inquiry than strict scientific research. But as late discoveries, such as the theories of Darwin, tend in the one direction of asserting “the

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positive fluidity of the life-principle in nature,” the discussion may lead to the affirmation of some definite principle. It may be assumed that the life-principle is a fluid far more subtle than ether, electricity, or any other of the unknown or unsolved forces of nature: That this fluid is the same in quality, whether used by man, animal, fish, bird, tree, plant, or insect, but differs in quantity; that it occupies a similar place in the economy of the planet, as the subtle ether (without which it is evident light could not travel) or magnetism, which affects the compass, no matter in what spot the magnetized needle may be placed; that this fluid differs from the other great forces of nature, although the life fluid, the subtle ether, and the force we call magnetism, may be variations of one great and as yet unsolved natural force. That the life fluid has some affinity with magnetism is evident, seeing that local magnets attract each other through the general law of magnetism, just as life acts upon life through the general principle of vital force. The author then supports his views by illustrating the identity of the agency, “or life fluid,” in all manifestations of instinct and reason, and in all structural divergences both in animals and plants.

2. “On a Branching Fern-Tree,” by J. Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 217.)

3. “New Plants,” by J. Buchanan, F.L.S. (Transactions, p. 213.)

4. “On Ixodes maskelli, a Parasite of the Albatross,” by T. W. Kirk. (Transactions, p. 65.)

5. “On a Curious Double Worm,” by T. W. Kirk. (Transactions, p. 64.)

6. “Additional Notes on New Zealand Coccidœ,” by W. M. Maskell. (Transactions, p. 45.)

Additions to Museum

Exhibits.—Additions to the Museum were exhibited:—(1.) Large shark's tooth. (2.) Fossils from Tata Island. (3.) Insects from Rio. Presented by Hon. Mr. Waterhouse.

Annual Meeting: 18th February, 1887.
Dr. Hector, President, in the chair.
Abstract of Report.

There were seven meetings held, and twenty-eight papers read, during the year.

One hundred and twenty new volumes had been purchased for the library, and 146 volumes bound.

The receipts for the year 1886–87 amounted to £275 9s. 4d., the expenditure £208 1s. 4d., leaving a balance in hand of £67 8s.

A report from the Microscopic Section of the Society was also read.

Election of Office-bearers for 1887.

Election of Office-bearers for 1887.—President—Dr. Hutchinson; Vice-presidents—Mr. Travers and Hon. G. R. Johnson; Council—Messrs. Maskell, Brandon, Hulke, Govett, Pennefather, and Drs. Newman and Hector; Secretary and Treasurer—R. B. Gore; Auditor—W. E. Vaux.

New Member.—Mr. Clement Lee.

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Papers.—The following papers were then read:—

1. “On the Occurrence of Bismuth at the Owen Reefs, New Zealand,” by W. Skey. (Transactions, p. 459.)

Dr. Hector explained that he had collected this ore, and that this was the only metal required to make the list of metallic elements found in New Zealand complete. This discovery was interesting, as indicating the possibility of finding much more valuable minerals. He also gave an account of the locality where he had found the bismuth.

2. “On the Australian Moth (Junonia vellida) found in the Wellington District,” by G. V. Hudson. (Transactions, p. 201.)

New Method of Utilizing Silk Cocoons

3. “On a New Method of Utilizing Silk Cocoons, suitable for New Zealand produce,” by F. W. Pennefather, LL.M.

This was a method by which the cocoons could be used without winding off the silk, or a plan of using the material as floss-silk.

Geological Specimens exhibited

Exhibits.—Scoria from Galatea Fort, 15 miles from Tarawera; specimens from Te Aroha, containing large quantities of silver and only traces of gold; specimens from the Richmond Hill Silver-mine; coal from a new seam at Mokihinui (30ft. seam).

4. The following papers were taken as read:—

“On a New Species of Alpheus,” by T. W. Kirk. (Transactions, p. 194.)

On Trimorphism in Flowers of New Zealand Fuchsia.

“On Trimorphism in Flowers of New Zealand Fuchsia,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S.

“On New Species of Podocarpus,” by T. Kirk, F.L.S.