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report of a gun has the effect of occasioning a fall of snow among the Himalaya mountains.
In the vast reservoirs of ice in these seas, myriads of herrings seek refuge, for the purpose of breeding in security. In the middle of winter, having deposited their spawn, they quit their recesses ; and pour in vast columns along the coasts of America, Ireland, and Great Britain ; emitting brilliant reflections, like those of the rainbow. In October they return to their icy habitations.
Capt. Parry passed through LANCASTER SOUND; proceeded westward, and took up his winter quarters in a harbour of Melville Island. This island he supposed to be 150 miles long, and from 30 to 40 broad. He saw many fragments of snow and ice, resembling what Freminville beheld in other parts of the arctic regions, viz. steeples, towers, colonnades, castles, and fortresses. The animals, seen on this desolate coast, were deer, foxes, white mice, and one American musk ox, having a mane large and shaggy, like that of a lion. The vegetables consisted of grass, poppies, and saxifrage in tufts and patches : and the birds were the glaucus, the king-duck, and the ptarmigan. These birds were seen only in summer; but owls, in full beauty of feather, were observed during the whole of their stay.
It has been remarkeds, that the western shores of continents are more warm than eastern ones. An east wind is, in fact, dreaded in most countries. The cold is frequently intense in Kamschatka, when on the opposite shore of America it is comparatively warm. The western part of Iceland bis free from those enormous glaciers and mountains of snow and ice which so much deform the eastern shore; and on the east coast of Britain a pea-blossom is scarcely known in May, while in the west, myrtles, and even fuchsias, grow in the open air, throughout the winter. In this island, dry autumns and summers, with warm springs and abundant showers, have
Humboldt. Dampier. 6 Barrow's Polar Regions, p. 372.
been the most remarkable for plentiful years : and, upon reference to meteorological observation, we find, that in those years western winds have principally prevailed. In winter, the north and north-east winds are generally productive of frost, and a south-west wind of thaw.
But climates frequently vary, even in the same province; a variation caused by soil, comparative absence or prevalence of woods and stagnant waters, the pernicious effects of which steam from vegetable and animal decomposed substances. In Canada the ground freezes so hard in winter, that no graves can be dug; dead bodies are, therefore, kept till the commencement of a thaw ; when the vegetation is so exceedingly quick, that the grass may be almost seen to grow. In other regions of America soil and heat produce an equal sterility, and moisture an equal luxuriance of growth ; but, for the most part, America has temperatures, differing from regions, occupying the same parallels of latitude. Its general climate is more islandic than continental; and yet its coldness and its moisture cannot be caused entirely by the proximity of two oceans; since we find islands in the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Indian seas, still warmer, and equally as dry. That America, if we except the western coast, is colder and more moist, than corresponding latitudes, in other countries, is certain : and that those qualities may arise, in some degree, out of the neighbourhood of two such vast oceans, as the Atlantic and Pacific, and a comparative height above the level of their surfaces, is highly probable. But these causes are assisted in producing their results by the vastness of the forests, the length and breadth of the rivers, the imperfect state of cultivation, the nature of the soil, and certain peculiarities of electrical phenomena.
In tropical climates, the flesh of animals has neither the succulence nor the flavour of those of Europe ; but they abound in cooling fruits. Insects, reptiles, birds, and some quadrupeds are, also, very vigorous, and grow to a great size. The quadrupeds of America are, however, not so large, as those of corresponding latitudes in the Old World, though the reptiles are larger. Fishes, for the most part, attain the largest size and weightiest bulk, in cold and temperate regions. Fishes, inhabiting a peculiar element, are to the human race, the most innocent, and not the least profitable, of animals : they have no opportunity of giving offence, except that opportunity is sought by man himself. But in the hot climates of every continent, and almost of every island, man is annoyed in a manner, scarcely to be conceived by the more fortunate natives of Europe. The Philippine Islands are infested by large bats ; Porto Bello with toads; Egypt with asps ; the south of Africa, Asia, and Panama, with serpents ; Guinea with ants; Guadaloupe with beetles ; and many parts of Africa with innumerable locusts.
In respect to soil, we may observe, with the author of the “ Spectacle de la Nature,” that though good soils yield the most, abundant harvests, in bad ones wild fowl is more delicate and wholesome; game of a more delicious flavour; fruits of a purer juice; and bees yield a better honey and a better wax. In hot soils vegetables are hard and strong, but not prolific; in moist ones luxuriant and prolific, but neither strong nor hard.
That climate has an effect upon the skin is evident from three circumstances, among a multitude of others : first, that if a native of Europe is in a hot climate, his children have darker complexions than his own. Secondly, that African children are born white, continue so one month, when they deviate to a pale yellow; after a time they become brown, then black, and, lastly, glossy and shining. Thirdly, that the negro population, in American climates, grow gradually less black : and, fourthly, that Jews, remarkable for marrying among themselves, in all ages and countries, are observed to be white in England ; swarthy in Portugal; olive in America; and copper-coloured in Arabia. Europeans are white; the
Arabs, Persians, and Chinese, brown ; the East Indians copper-coloured ; and the Javans yellow. The Moors are swarthy; the Africans, under the line, black; and the natives of New South Wales of a dark chocolate. Greenlanders, when born, are as white as we are ; but they have a blue spot in their skins, sometimes above the loins, and sometimes under, three-quarters of an inch in diameter. As they grow up, this spot gradually extends over the whole body.
Hitherto, we have paid too great a respect to colour. The time, is, however, approaching, when prejudices of this kind will subside; and we shall know little or no distinction between white brethren, black brethren, red brethren, or olive brethren. The age of prejudice, thank heaven! is gradually passing away.
In the old continents we find men varying in their colour, according to their relative latitudes ; but in America it is otherwise; the natives of that vast continent being, with small diversity of shades, of a red copper colour, from north to south, and from east to west. The Esquimaux, that freezes near the arctic pole; the western Indian, who sleeps upon leaves, and has the woods for his canopy; the Mexican, who burns between the tropics; the Peruvian, who sees the sun set behind the Cordilleras; and the Brazilian, who beholds it rising out of the bosom of the Atlantic, all bear the stamp of one original. There are no negroes under the Line, nor are there any whites either in the frigid or the temperate Zones : a white face, a black breast, and a woolly head, are equally unknown. The American Indians are remarkable, too, for the thickness of their skins and the hardness of their fibres ; hence their comparative insensibility to bodily pain. They are also distinguished by a mellifluous language, and a classical symmetry of structure. Indeed, so beautiful are their forms, that when the celebrated American painter, West, saw the Apollo Belvidere at Rome, so struck
was he with the resemblance, that he instantly exclaimed, “How like a young Mohawk warrior !” When the Italians heard this exclamation, they were mortified : but, upon the painter's describing the elasticity of their limbs ; their dexterity with the bow and arrow, and their indications of conscious vigour ; and when he assured them, that he had often seen them stand in the very attitude of the Apollo, with their eye following the arrow, just discharged from the bow, they were reconciled to the exclamation of the painter, and felt the value of the criticism a.
From the complexional diversities, alluded to, has arisen the belief, that the whole human race have not sprung from one original ; but that either two species were created, one with hair, and the other with wool ; or, that as many men were created as there are different colours; with some allowances for partial shades. Others, on the other hand, contend, that these diversities are merely varieties of one species, as in vegetables many varieties of one plant derive their distinguishing features from the soil, the culture, or the climate.
M. Baillieb has asserted, that there is only one thirty-second of difference between the extreme of summer heat and the extreme of winter cold. In tropical regions spring begins at the end of September ; summer in December; autumn in March; and winter in June. In the northern latitudes this order is reversed ; and in their summer the heat, occasioned by the constant presence of the sun, is tempered by the large quantity of caloric, absorbed by the masses of ice and snow, as they pass from a firm to a fluid state. The beech grows to the 57th degree of latitude; the oak reaches 60; the cherry and apple 63; the osier, willow, and quince 66; the fir 68; the pine 69; and the birch 70. In this latitude the cold is sometimes so rigorous, that the sap of the trees freeze, when they snap with a loud noise.
EUROPE, though it is the garden of the globe, has many * Life of West. · Lettres sur l'Origine des Sciences, p. 292.