AUSTRALASIA, 'N Modern Geography, the great division of the Earth's surface. A systematic classification in geography is as necessary to enable us to form dear and comprehensive views of its objects, as it is in botany, mineralogy, geology, or any other depart ment of physical science, though incapable of I= brought to the same degree of perfection. The•• progress made, during the last fifty years of the past century, in the discovery of those almost innumer able Islands that are scattered over the three great oceans, the Indian, the Southern, and the Pacific, peopled by various races of human beings, differ mg in their features, manners, dispositions, and lan guage, forcibly demanded some such systematic ar rangement; otherwise, as the President De Brooms has observed, " The sight would be dazzled and confounded, if care were not exerted to relieve It, and fix its attention by divisions marked from die ' tance to distance." It was this learned and very intelligent writer who first suggested, that all the Lands and Islands in the Austral world should be divided into three por tions, corresponding with the three great Oceans, the Indian or 'Ethiopic, the Atlantic, and the Pacffic ; those in the Indian Ocean, and to the south of Asia, to be named Australasia ; those in the two Pacifies, from the multitude of Islands, Polynesia (a name first used, we believe, by De Barnes), and those in the Atlantic, to the south of Cape Horn, and the Cape of Good Hope, Magellanica. The last, however, be came unnecessary, as soon as it was ascertained, that the Terra Australis incognita had no existence. Some idea may be formed of the rapid progress made in maritime y, even within the last fifty years, , and of its um ection previous to that period, when it is stated, , in the year 1770, theenlightened and industrious hydrographer, the late Alexander Dal rymple, asserted that the great southern continent was not then a matter of discovery, for that it had been seen on the west by Tasman in 1642, and on the east by Juan Fernandez, above half a century before; adding, without any doubt or hesitation, that " the countries intermediate, equal in extent to all the civilized part of Asia, from Turkey to China inclu sive, still remain unexplored." Nay, more, " that it
extended from south to the pole, and that the number of its inhabitants was probably more than fifty millions." All these facts he discovers in the Spanish and Portuguese voyages in the South Pacific Ocean. (Historical Collections.) The two divisions of Australasia and Polynesia will be found to comprehend, with sufficient convenience, all those Islands, that cannot with propriety be re• ferred to any of the four continents of the Globe. Nor is there any difficulty in drawing the line of se paration between those two divisions ; though it it not quite so easy to mark the distinct boundary be tween the Australasian and the Asiatic Islands, where they melt into each other, about the Equator, at the north-west extremity of Papua or New Guinea. In a geographical view, the small Islands of Way giou, Saiwatty, Batanta, Mysol, and Timorlaut, ought strictly to belong to Australasia ; but peopled, as they are, by Asiatics of the Malay tribe, and under the influence of the Dutch Islands, It may, be wore proper, in a moral and political point of view, to consider them is belonging to the Asiatic Islands; more particularly, as we shall then have all the Aus tralasian population, with very few exceptions, mark ed with the African or Negro character. But, in fact, all geographical divisions are and must be to a certain degree arbitrary.
If, then, we take the equator as the northern boundary from the 132° to the 175° of east longitude ; continue a line on the latter meridian to the 55th parallel (bending a little to take in New Zealand) for the eastern ; another line along the same parallel to the 65° of east longitude for the southern ; and a slanting line to the point on the, equator from which we set out, so as to include Kerguelenes,10, and pass on the eastern sides of Timorlaut, Ceram, Mysol, and Salwatty, for the western boundary ;—those lines will circumscribe the whole of the Australasian Islands. We have included the uninhabited Islands of Kerguelen, and St Paul and Amsterdam, because they cannot properly be considered as African Islands ; though arranged, we believe, under that division by Pinkerton : they are of less importance to geogra phy than to geology.