Sidor som bilder

the formations, to which the Parisian strata apply, were made at different epochs of time; that each stratum was once the surface of that part of the globe in which it is now situated; and that the animals, found imbedded, there lived, and there perished.' It is, indeed, said, that some species lie in a stratum, which extends several hundred miles, unmixed with the other strata above or below. Now this is very possible; and there ought to be little doubt expressed as to the fact; but we are no more to apply this comparative greatness of extent to the whole globe, than the natives of the deserts of Asia are to suppose, that deserts pervade the entire surface of the earth.

Strata, containing vegetable remains, seldom discover marine shells or bones. Little can be accurately inferred from this; the whole subject being wrapped in ambiguity; but it is not improbable, that each successive epoch has been marked by phenomena, peculiar to itself. And it is no great stretch of reasoning to suppose, as others have supposed, that the whole has several times been peopled with animals and vegetables, different from those now in existence. From this probability has arisen the supposition, that there may be a succession of animal and vegetable species, as, in the course of years, there are individuals.



XI. . In the survey, hitherto taken by geologists, it has been observed, that no organic remains have been discovered in the interior substances, of which the stones of primitive mountains are composed. They

being found only in those mountains, called secondary : which rest on the sides, and which sometimes even cover the summits of primitive ones. It has also been observed, that all fossil remains of viviparous land animals have been found in alluvial soil; or near the surface of the earth :-and that as no remains of the human species have yet been discovered in ancient alluvial ground, it may reasonably be inferred, that the changes, so frequently alluded to, took place before the present race of man' was formed. Skeletons have been dug up in various places : but from no position invalidating the correctness of this argument; for they have been evidently imbedded and

i “ Wlien assert,” says M. Cuvier, “ that human boves have not been hitherto found among extraneous fossils, I must be understood to speak of fossils or petrifactions properly so called :-as in peat depositions or turf bogs, and in alluvial formations, as well as in ancient burying grounds, the bones of men, with those of horses, and other ordinary existiog species of animals, may readily enough be found :—but among the fossil palæotheria, the elephants, the rhinoceroses, &c., the smallest fragment of human bone has never yet been found. * * * Every cir. cumstance, therefore, contributes to establish this position :--that the human race did not exist in the countries in which the fossil bones of animals have been discovered, at the epoch when these bones were covered up; as there cannot be a single reason assigued why men should have entirely escaped from such general catastrophes ; or, if they also had been destroyed and covered over at the same time, why their remains should not be now found along with those of other animals. I do not presume, however, to conclude that man did not exist at all before these epochs. Perhaps even the places which he then inhabited may have been sunk into the abyss, and the bones of that destroyed human race may yet reinain buried under the bottom of some actual seas; all, except a small number of individuals, who were destined to continue the species." Cuvier ;-Theory of the Earth.-Jameson.

agglutinated at no very distant period of time. In the villa Ludovici, near Rome, is a skeleton, encrusted with stone; and in the British Museum is a fossil human skeleton found in Guadaloupe, imbedded in limestone. At the founding of Quebec, a savage was dug up, petrified, from the lower strata ; with his arrows and his quiver. A skeleton was, also, found in a lead mine, mixed with stags' horns, in 1744; and in a mine at Falun, in Sweden, two human bodies were, at different times, found impregnated with vitriol of iron :-at Andrarum impregnated with sulphur: and in Norway impregnated with copper, on a bed of loadstone. Others have, also, been found in mines, wearing a mineralized appearance...

Whether the changes, we have alluded to, took place, prior, or subsequent to the formation of man, it is now impossible to ascertain. What is now sea, as we have before observed, was once dry land; and what is now land was, probably, in great part, an entire ocean. This supposition involves difficulties of the first importance; but it is the only rational one, that, in the present state of geological science, can reasonably be entertained. Future discoveries will produce more correct data": and time and unwearied application to the general subject may render that evident, which is now mys

i The Egyptians told Herodotus, that since the creation the sun had altered his course four times : and that the earth and sea hai as often changed into each other.---Herod. lib.ii. c. 123. Diod. Sic. lib. i.

2 " Collect facts,” says Bacon, « with judgment; and describe them with exactness and fidelity. After a thousand years we play systematize,

terious :--this science, like many others, being still in its infancy. An analogy is, however, offered to us in the changes, presented in Jupiter's belts : for these belts frequently exhibit appearances, as if the sea quitted the land, and returned to it again.

That a vast deluge has, in remote times, paralyzed vegetation and desolated the earth, is evident. It is recorded in history'; it is recorded in the traditions of all nations”; and, above all, it is recorded in the natural history of the globe. But neither historical record, nor tradition, nor conjecture, can at present fathom those awful operations, which exhibit instances of power, to contend against which were mere waste of resolution; and to attempt to fathom were mere waste of strength. And as an example of the magnificent extent of Nature's operations, we may close these remarks with observing, that in two years more than eighteen thousand square miles of ice disappeared from the Greenland seas : and as a singular coincidence, it has been observed, that this great change occurred at the time, when the magnetical variation to the westward became stationary.

" It has been remarked, and with great ingenuity, that if in the first chapter of Genesis time is adopted instead of day, it would assist the geological student very materially.

2 Even in America.-Humboldt's Personal Narrative, vol. iv. p. 472. 3 Pennant's Outlines, vol. iv. p. 52. 4 Personal Narrative, vol. iv. p. 12.


The effects of volcanoes' are generally known; it is not, therefore, our intention to enter into a history of them; but we may just state a few of comparatively recent occurrence. A great part of the Passandayang in Java was swallowed in 1772, with explosions more than equal to the heaviest cannon. Forty villages were destroyed; two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven inhabitants; and fifteen? miles in length and six of breadth ingulphed. The terrible catastrophes in Borneo have been amply described'; and the convulsions in 1766, in which the whole city of Cumana was overturned ; and a subsequent one at Carraccas, in which nine-tenths of that city was destroyed, and ten thousand persons buried under its ruins, are described in Humboldt's best manner.

LE“ Vesuvius,” says Dr. Clarke, “is in all respects, as to its chemical nature, a vast gas blowpipe; corresponding in all its phenomeva, with the appearances and effects, the explosions and detonations, the heat and the light, exhibited hy the apparatus, which bears this name ; and differing from it only as the mighty operations of Nature in the universe differ from the puny imitations of the chemist in his laboratory.

. No volcanic eruption takes place without the agency and decomposition of water. “ Hence,” says Dr. Clarke, “ before any great eruption of Vesuvius, not only does the water disappear in all the wells of Naples, Portici, Resina, and other towns at the foot of the mouutain, but even the sea itself retires." · Batavian Trausactions, vol. ix.; Raffles' Hist. of Java, 410, vol. i. p. 15.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »