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precaution apply their mouth to the plant.' But so formidable are the guards with which nature has furnished this reservoir, that animals are often seen lamed in the hoof from this cause.
When night comes on after the burning day, and brings a diminution of temperature, the persecuted animals are not allowed to enjoy this alleviation; enormous bats attack them during sleep, and suck their blood, or hang to their coats and form wounds, in which mosquitos, gad-flies, and a multitude of insects, deposit their eggs, and convert them into festering sores. Thus, during the dry season, the larger quadrupeds lead a life of ceaseless misery in these regions.
On the approacn of the rainy season, the whole scene is quickly and strangely changed: the deep-blue of the evercloudless sky becomes lighter; at night, the black spot in the glorious southern constellation of the cross is hardly perceivable: the soft phosphorescent glimmer of the magellanic clouds is extinguished, and even the vertical stars of the eagle and ophiuchus, shine with a tremulous and less planet-like light. A few solitary clouds first appear, like distant mountains in the south; vapours spread themselves like veils across the zenith, and the distant thunder announces the approach of the refreshing rain.
Scarcely is the surface of the earth moistened, when the reeking grounds are overspread with Kyllingia, Paspalum, and other sedges and grasses; herbaceous Mimose unfold their leaves, and, together with the early song of birds, and the opening flowers of the water-plants, salute the rising sun. The horses and cattle now revel in the perfect enjoyment of existence, though the beautiful spotted jaguar Jurks in the tall herbage, and darts, like the eastern tiger, on the unwary animal.
According to the natives, the moistened shores of the ponds are occasionally seen to rise and break into clods, which are cast, with a noise like that of a mud-volcano, into the air. The prudent spectator, aware of the cause, hastens from the place; for a gigantic water-snake or a fearful crocodile rises from the pit, aroused from their torpor by the first gush rain.
By degrees, the rivers which form the southern boundary to the plains, the Arauca, the Apuré, and the Payara, overflow their banks, and the same animals which, in the preceding half year, fainted from thirst on the parched and burning soil, are now compelled to live as amphibious: one part of the steppes becomes a vast lake, navigable for large vessels, which can sail ten or twelve miles together straight across the country. The mares withdraw with their foals to the higher banks, which again resume their character of islands; but with each day these dry spots diminish, and at last, from want of pasture, the crowded horses are seen swimming about for hours together, seeking a scanty food from the flowering grasses which still rear their heads above the brown turbid waters. Many foals are drowned in consequence, and many are seized by crocodiles, or struck and disabled by their serrated tails: not unfrequently cattle and horses are afterwards seen, who have escaped from these monsters, and carry on their limbs the marks of the sharp teeth of these blood-thirsty lizards.
African Coast to the Plains of Antisana, which are higher above the level of the sea than the summit of the Peak of Teneriffet. Here the northern Birch, there the DatePalm, affords a shelter from the noon-day sun to the animals of which we have been speaking. The same genus which, in North-eastern Europe, combats with wolves and bears, is exposed in another hemisphere to the attacks of tigers and crocodiles!
This appearance reminds the thoughtful observer of the power of conforming with exterior circumstances with which Nature has endowed, in common with man, certain species, both of animals and plants. The horse and the ox, like the farinaceous grasses, have been carried by him over the whole earth; from the Ganges to the Plata, from the
But it is not only from these enemies that the herds and troops of cattle and horses are exposed to danger, they have a fearful foe among the fish. The stagnant lakes of Bera and Bastro are filled with innumerable electric eels, which possess the power, at pleasure, of sending a very powerful shock from any part of their slimy yellow-spotted bodies; they are five or six feet long, and possess this ex traordinary faculty in sufficient power to kill the largest animals if they can discharge their organs at once, and in the most favourable direction. At one time they existed in such numbers in one of the water-courses of the road from Uritucu, that every year many horses, stunned by their shocks, were drowned in crossing the ford. All other fish fly the neighbourhood of this formidable eel; and the angler, on the bank, is often startled by a shock conveyed to him along his moistened line §.
THE comparative efficiency of the deserts and steppes of the globe, as barriers between the adjoining countries, is proved by the great difference which exists in the physical and moral characters of these contiguous lands.
Africa's northern deserts separate the two great human races, which, originating from a common home, have long been at variance, and whose discord has been the subject of mythology, under the fabled strife of Osiris and Typhon. North of Mount Atlas dwell the smooth, long-haired people, of tawny complexion and Caucasian features; southwards, on the contrary, from Senegal towards Soudan, Negroes alone are found, in various stages of improvement.
In middle Asia, the steppes of Mongolia divide Siberian barbarism from the earliest seat of human cultivation in the Indian peninsula.
In South America, the Llanos and Pampas limit the extent of European half-civilization, which has more recently been introduced there. North, between the mountain-chains of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea, thriving towns and cheerful villages crowd on each other, and a taste for the arts, and intellectual improvement, as well as their necessary result, the noble zeal for civil freedom, are now aroused. Towards the south, a gloomy wilderness surrounds the steppes; forests thousands of years old, an impenetrable thicket, fill the marshy territory between the Orinoco and the Amazon; mighty masses of granite narrow the bed of the foaming streams; mountain and forest re-echo the thunder of the cataract, combined with the roar of the tiger and the dead howl of the bearded ape. Where the shallower waters leave a sand-bank dry, the body of the lurking crocodile is seen lying, its jaws opened to seize its prey, and so motionless that it is often covered with birds, who perch on it. The spotted boa, with his tail wound round a branch of a tree, and his iong body doubled together, watches the opportunity and darts on some young bull, or a more feeble deer, as it approaches the bank, and, after smearing the body with its venomous saliva, sucks it in slowly and with effort through its distended throat and neck; and then lies for weeks overcome with the mass of food, till it is digested, and hunger again compels it to seek a new meal.
The pressure of the atmosphere is hence so much diminished on these plains, that when the wild cattle are baited by hounds, blood issues from their nose and mouth.
Gymnotus Electricus; it belongs to a very different section of the class, to that of the eel (Murana) properly so called.-See Saturday Magazine, Vol. IV., p. 144.
These various appearances are the results of increasing moisture in the air, and therefore precede the rain. The drier the atmosphere, the deeper the blue of the sky; hence, the intense azure of that of tropical climates. English travellers are even struck with the great difference between their native sky and that of Italy in this respect. An instrument has been contrived by which the depth of blue has been measured, and meteorological observations are made with it; it is called a Cyanometer, (blue measurer.) As the moisture increases, distant objects become more obscure and faint; and the heavenly bodies, therefore, are not so bright. The spot in the Cross is an astronomical phenomenon on which scientific men are not agreed; it appears much darker than the rest of the sky, and, therefore, just the reverse of those apparent clusters of stars which compose what are called Nebulæ, the Milky-way, and the Magellanic clouds. Most of our readers are familiar with Capt. Hall's eloquent description of the effects of seeing the constellations of the southern hemi-ming in the Orinoco, they raise their head above the water like a sphere, as they gradually rise above the horizon, in sailing; and dog: they occasionally attain a length of forty-five feet as it is said, especially the feelings excited by the Cross, the sign of our salvation, but the largest skin ever brought to Europe has not exceeded two and planted by God in the heavens as a beacon to man.-See Saturday twenty. The American serpent (a python,) is a distinct species Magazine, Vol. III., p. 139. from the East Indian,
The identity of Voltaism, or Galvanism, and electricity is well known, the action of the former species of these two divisions, is supposed to exist, in a latent state, in all organized matter, where dissimilarly constituted parts are in contact, and appears to be intimately connected with the phenomenon of vitality, as well as with almost every one of the physical world.
The saliva with which this serpent covers its victim accelerates putrefaction, the muscular part becomes softened like jelly, and enables the reptile to swallow whole limbs at a time. When swim
VARIOUS races of natives inhabit this grand and wild scenery, separated by a decided difference of language. Some lead a wandering life, ignorant of agriculture, and living on ants, gums, and even earth, like the Otomaks and Jaruren, the outcasts as it were of mankind.
While the Orinoco and the Meta flow between their banks, these tribes live on fish and turtle; they kill the former by arrows when they rise to the surface, and are very expert in the use of their weapon for this chase. As soon as the river begins to rise, the fishery ceases, and during the floods, which last two or three months, these Otomaks consume enormous quantities of earth as food; large stores are kept in their huts, ready prepared by baking, in pyramidal heaps of balls*; and the Missionaries state, that one ma will eat from three quarters to a pound and a quarter of it in a day. According to their own avowal, this clay is their principal food during the rainy season, occasionally adding a lizard or a small fish if they can obtain either, or a fern-root; but they are so fond of this strange diet, that, even during the dry season, when they have an ample supply of fish, they daily swallow some of the clay after a repast, by way of a treat. They are of a dark copper complexion, with disagreeable Tartarian features, robust, but not with prominent bellies, as most savages, and they appear to undergo little diminution in flesh during the season of their earth-diet, nor does their health appear at all injured by itt.
Other tribes, like the Maquiritars and the Makos, are more cultivated, consume fruits raised by themselves, and have fixed abodes in consequence. But large portions of territory between the Cassiquiare and the Atabapo, are tenanted only by the tapir and the gregarious species of apes; yet in these deserted plains, images carved in the rocks, show that at some former period they were the abodes of more cultivated races than any now bordering on them, which, generally speaking, are in the lowest scale of human existence, and quite incapable of executing any such sculptures.
Among the present degraded races, the most violent passions, as might be expected, reign without control. Whole races drink the blood of their enemies, and others more skilled than all civilized mankind ever are in the knowledge of vegetable poisons, have their thumb-nail dipped in a most violent one, always ready to inflict the mortal wound on any enemy whom they can surprise. The weaker tribes, when migrating, are compelled, for self-preservation, to obliterate with care their footmarks, in order to foil their relentless and ingenious pursuers.
SOUTH AMERICA contains another plain three times as extensive as the Llanos, if not so interesting from its productions. This plain, called the Pampas, lies on the
"On the 6th of June, 1800, on our return from the Rio Negro, when we descended the Orinoco, we passed a day in a mission inhabited by the earth-eating Otomaks; the village was called La Conception di Uranua, and was picturesquely situated against a granite rock. The earth which this people devour is an unctuous mild clay, true potters'-earth, coloured yellowish-gray by a little oxide of iron; it is carefully selected for use, and is found on some banks on the shores of the Orinoco and Meta. They distinguish one kind of earth from another by the taste, for all clay is not equally agreeable to them: they knead the earth into balls of from four to six inches in diameter, and toast these before a slow fire till the outside becomes reddish; when wanted they are again softened in water. These Indians are very wild, and averse from all agriculture: it is a proverbial expression among the farthest nations of the Orinoco, in designating any thing very filthy, to say, so dirty that
the Otomaks eat it.'"-HUMBOLDT.
To the physiological question, whether, or in what way, this simple earth can supply the place of food, there is, at present, no decided satisfactory answer, but it is a well-known fact, that every where within the Tropics, men have a singular and unconquerable craving for swallowing earth at times. The Indian women engaged in the potteries on the Magdalena, often eat a portion of the clay on which they are at work, but all except the Otomaks suffer in their health severely, by the indulgence of this propensity. The negroes brought to the West Indies during the prevalence of the slave-trade, always endeavoured to obtain a kind of clay, simila. to what, as they said, they had been accustomed to eat with impunity in their own country; but the practice was forbidden, from finding that they were injured by it, and the earth was consequently only sold secretly in the markets. According to the accounts of different travellers, a similar taste is found in many parts of tropical countries.
This poison is called curare, and is obtained from an unknown plant, but belonging to a genus which is very poisonous; the single seed of one species is sufficient to kill twenty persons.
eastern side of the Andes, and extends from their foot to the Atlantic. Captain Sir F. B. Head, who journeyed over this immense expanse in 1825, has given the latest, and by far the most interesting account of it; and from his work we shall principally take our notice.
The Pampas are about nine hundred miles in breadth: and in the same latitude, that of Buenos Aires, are divided into three very distinct regions. On leaving Buenos Aires, the earth for about one hundred and eighty miles is clothed with large thistles and clover; for the next four hundred and fifty, the plain presents nothing but long grass, and the remainder, to the base of the Cordillera, is covered with evergreen trees and shrubs; the two latter divisions are little changed during the year, the grass only becoming more brown from the summer-heats, but the district of thistles varies in a singular manner. In winter, the country looks like a vast turnip-field, the clover is luxuriant, and the herds of wild cattle grazing in unrestrained liberty, present a beautiful scene. The clover disappears as spring advances, the thistles gain the ascendancy, and an altitude of ten or eleven feet; forming a forest impenetrable to man or beast by their strong and prickly stems and leaves; the road through them is hemmed in on each side, cutting off all view, and so rapid is the growth, and so effectual the barrier, that Captain Head says, it is not impossible that an army might be completely surrounded by them and imprisoned, before it could escape. Dried and withered by the increasing heat, this forest yields at last to the periodical hurricanes that sweep over the plains; it lies strewed along, fertilizing the soil anew by its decay, and the succession is renewed by the re-appearance of the clover-crop.
The grass and woody regions, though less varied, are not less beautiful; the former seems to be without a weed, and in the latter such order exists in the growth of the trees, that a rider may gallop between them in every direction.
The climate of the Pampas, like that of all continents, is varied by intense heat during the summer, while the winter is about as cold as November in our latitude; but the effects occasioned by the difference in the moisture of the atmosphere, is the more striking feature in the regions of wood and grass. Owing to the level nature of the country, its distance from the ocean, and other causes, the air is so dry, that dead animals dry up in their skins on the plains, as they do in the great deserts of Africa. There is no dew at night in the hottest weather: on the contrary, in the first, or eastern region, the air is excessively damp, animal decomposition after death is rapid, the walls of the houses in Buenos Aires are so damp, as to make them disagreeable, and sugar, salt, &c., can hardly be kept from dissolving; but it does not appear that even this part is unhealthy in consequence, so that on the whole, the climate of the country is beautiful and salubrious.
Like the Llanos, there are few fixed residents on these fertile plains; the native Indians wander in tribes from place to place over the southern part, and a few straggling towns and huts, the residence of the keepers of enormous herds, are widely scattered over the rest. The impolicy of the Spanish government having prevented the natural advantages of the country from being available, the want of good navigation and of a harbour on the coast, are impediments to the progress of cultivation.
The inhabitants of these isolated residences, descendants of Spanish settlers, are termed Gauchos, and live a monotonous life in the hut inhabited by their predecessors. It consists of one room, in which the whole family reside promiscuously; a shed serves for a kitchen, and about fifty or a hundred yards off, is a circle of thirty yards, enclosed slaughter, and which, consequently, is strewed with bones, with strong posts, in which the cattle are penned for carcasses, horns, and skins of bullocks and horses, while on the fence are perched vultures attracted by the stench, and overcome with gorging on the carrion.
The food of these people consists solely of beef and water, and inured from their infancy to fatigue in riding, for they never walk, they are hardy and healthy. Their principal occupation is to catch and kill cattle, and their principal accomplishment, the use of the lasso, to which they are trained from an early age, children being always seen lassoing the dogs or wild birds; the use and nature of this lasso will be presently explained.
It appears that the indifference to the conveniences or even the necessaries of civilized life, which characterizes the Gaucho, however philosophical it may appear at first
as the result of contentment, leads to the usual conse- | immediately turns his horse round, and causes it to lean quences of moral degradation*. on the opposite side from the course of the ox, so that when this is stopped by the lasso being run out, the horse may be able to resist the sudden jerk; this often, however, draws him sliding on all four feet for some yards; but more commonly the ox, as being unprepared for the check, is thrown down, and affords time to the hunter to secure him by either dragging him along the ground before he can rise, or by houghing him.
There are no regular roads, of course, through these plains, and the mode of travelling is extraordinary. A rude carriage is prepared for the journey, by having strips of soaked hide bound wet over every part of its wheels and frame; this, on drying, contracts and becomes as hard as wood, and will endure a course of seven hundred miles without being cut or worn through; horses are harnessed by a single rope from the saddle, and each mounted by a peon, or postilion: the vehicle is dragged at a full gallop across ditches, lakes, and over all obstacles. At the end of a stage the riders unhook their animals, and set off to catch other fresh horses from the enclosures near the buildings which serve as post-houses, and the immense troops of horses produced in the country, prevent any delays from want of fresh relays; but the mode of riding is cruel in the extreme, the sides of the horse are streaming, and the heels and legs of the riders are literally bathed
Those who, like the Gauchos from youth, are inured to it, or who can stand it, prefer, however, to ride, instead of using these vehicles. Captain Head gives an animated account of the effects of his journey on horseback across this country and though at first, suffering from the fatigue of riding one hundred and fifty miles a day, at a fuil gallop for weeks together, yet he states that when broke in to it, and strengthened by the temperate yet invigorating diet of beef and water, to which a prudent traveller prefers trusting, in preference to encumbering himself with luggage and provisions, it causes no permanent injury to the health, and is a very exhilarating and pleasant mode of life.
One constant source of danger in riding over the Pampas, arises from the holes like rabbit-holes, made by an animal called the biscacho, or viscacho. When full grown, they are nearly as large as badgers, their head is like a rabbit, but they have large bushy whiskers. In the day-time they keep in their burrows, and are only seen to come forth at sunset; but what appears extraordinary regarding these animals and their dwellings, is, that in the day time, two small owls sit at the mouth of the holes, into which they retire on the approach of any danger: the same thing is said to occur in the prairies of North America, with respect to the animal called the prairie dog. The fact is, the bird is a variety of the burrowing owl (strix cunicularia,) which to save the trouble of making a retreat for itself, takes possession of the deserted holes of the viscacho, and like the snake mentioned in the note, has no other connexion with the quadruped. This bird belongs to a division of the family (owl,) which can see as well by day as by night, and this species not being savage, likes to sit at the door of its house and see what is going on in the world.
The puma, or American lion, a species of ostrich, the gama, the Patagonian cavy, are among the principal indigenous animals of the Pampas.
In one part of the country, Captain Head found locusts so numerous as to cover the ground. At one of the posts a woman was sweeping them away with a broom, and they swarmed in crowds up his horse's legs; he placed his straw hat on the ground while he was drinking some water, and on going to resume it, it was covered with these insects biting the straw.
The method of taking the wild cattle and horses by the lasso is singular; this is a long line made of thongs of leather, and having a running noose at one end. The gaucho, or peon, being mounted on a well-trained horse, holds the lasso coiled up loosely in his right hand, but without any risk of its entangling; the other end is fastened by a hook to the saddle. When he has approached sufficiently near the animal he has selected, he throws the lasso, and with such unerring aim, acquired by long practice, that the noose falls on the neck or round the horns. On feeling the strange incumbrance, the ox gallops off, the man
THE GREAT DESERT OF AFRICA.
THE immense sterile desert of Africa, which equals onehalf of Europe in extent, or is nearly three times as large as the Mediterranean sea, is called Sahara§, and may be considered as an ocean of sand, having bays or gulfs of lesser deserts branching off from it, and various islands, of different magnitudes, of fertile spots in it, called Oases; the largest of these, Fezzan, is 300 miles long and 200 broad; this is surrounded by an irregular ridge of rocks, except on the west, where it is open to the desert. fertility of this and other Oases arises from their having a comparatively abundant supply of water from wells, supplied from the neighbouring mountains; for very little rain falls here any more than in the open desert. Date-palms are the principal vegetable productions, though the soil and climate are not unfavourable for raising wheat. These Oases are far more abundant on the eastern than on the western side of the Sahara. The Sahara forms only the major part of a still larger tract, extending to the further side of Arabia, and divided by the valley of the Nile and the Red Sea into three unequal portions, for all this part of the globe is of a similar physical character in most respects.
The Sahara, or African part, is estimated at about 2500 miles in length by 720 in average breadth. Its sandy surface is a general character, but this is of different levels. In many places it is quite naked, but generally it produces an odoriferous plant, called by the Arabs Shé, somewhat resembling our wild thyme; with this are found other plants, one of which, very thorny, and serving as food for the camel, is the most common.
In some places large flocks of sheep, goats, or even cattle, find a scanty pasture, but more commonly nothing is to be seen but desolate hills of shifting sands; these are termed "deserts without water," a name conveying to ar Arab's ear the fearful idea of an intense and suffocating heat, of a total absence of vegetation, and of the hazard of a dreadful death from want of water. The western division is of this nature, and is no less than 1600 miles in length by half that number in breadth, and is, without doubt, the largest desert in the world.
One peculiarity of these plains is the abundance of salt found every where on the surface. Natron (a carbonate of soda,) is also abundant.
Besides the animals already mentioned, the ostrich is found in the Sahara, though more abundant in the southern parts of the continent. Some species of deer, or gazeiles, also frequent the fertile spots; but, from the dearth of vegetation, and want of water, the natural history of this desert is very limited.
The persevering energy of man has conquered the obstacles which the Sahara apparently presents to any intercourse between the nations separated by it. From the earliest ages traders have traversed it, by uniting in large bodies, called caravans, and the camel, by its wonderful structure, its strength, docility, and abstemiousness, is the means which have enabled man to effect these journeys, for without it they would be impossible; but even with this auxiliary, and with all the precautions that experience can take, the caravans have frequently to endure the most terrible distress from want of water, for the shifting sands frequently obliterate the land-marks of the route, and delayed by the search for the path, the stock is exhausted before the multitude can reach one of the few and fardistant wells. The dried and bleached corpses and skeletons of the camels and horses who constantly perish on the journey, are the principal guides on many of these dangerous roads.
We have already mentioned the phenomenon of columns of sand raised by whirlwinds, as common to all extensive plains in tropical regions; but those which visit the desert of Africa have been more particularly described from their
This word in Arabic means Desert,
being better known. The caravans which have traversed | The most western, the plateau of Iran or Persia, is not so these desolate regions from the remotest antiquity, being elevated or extensive, no where exceeding 4000 feet, and constantly exposed to their destructive violence. All not comprehending more than 1,700,000 square miles. In travellers who have crossed these plains, have described length, the two together extend about 5500 miles from west the precursors and the appearance of the storm in similar to east, and vary in breadth from 700 to 2000 miles. terms: a more death-like stillness in the air, a lurid light, and those optical phenomena mentioned in p. 36, announce the approach, and the coming clouds of sand are seen in the horizon. If the direction of the wind brings them towards the caravan, and sufficient time is not allowed for escape, the riders, dismounting from their camels and horses, throw themselves flat on their faces, closing the mouth and eyes to keep out the suffocating particles, and the vapour which carries them. The camels instinctively bury their noses in the sand for the same purpose, while the horse, unless inured to it by experience, and trained to take the same precaution, suffers fearfully, if not fatally. When the danger is passed, and the bewildered fainting traveller rises from his constrained position, he often finds all the known landmarks swept away, which were to guide him on his path, his associates dead from fatigue, heat, or suffocation, or if he escapes these calamities, his provisions, his clothes, his stock, are usually much injured, if not destroyed by the sand, which is so subtile and penetrating, as to enter every package, however closely secured and guarded. We have endeavoured to convey an idea of the appearance of a sand-storm and its effects, in the engraving at the beginning of this paper.
Unfortunately, little is at present known of the natural history and productions of this country. The climate, from the great elevation, is very cold, yet a vegetation adorns many parts of it, and the wild horses, in large droves, pasture on the more fertile portions. That it was once the abode of numerous and civilized nations, appears from the remains of temples and sepulchres found on some of the mountains. The present Mongolian population are wandering tribes, professing the religion of the Dalai-Lama, and keeping immense flocks of horses, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats, and therefore, plentifully provided with all the necessaries of life, and, indeed, raised far above many other nations in their habits and customs.
The desert of Kobi resembles that of Africa, consisting of a mass of barren sand, incapable of cultivation, and nearly destitute of water from the absence of vegetation.
THE TABLE LAND OF CENTRAL ASIA. BETWEEN the thirtieth and fiftieth parallels of latitude from the Caspian Sea to Lake Baikal, and from the sources of the Indus to the wall of China, is an immense TableLand, parts of which are the highest spots, not being mere peaks of mountains, on the globe. Generally it consists of an assemblage of naked mountains, enormous rocks, and vast plains, the principal of which latter is the Desert of Kobi, or Shamo. These table-lands form two distinct tracts, differing in extent and elevation: the most eastern, comprising the plateau of Thibet, and the great desert of Kobi or Gobi, rises from 4 to upwards of 10,000 feet above the level of the sea, and contains about 7,000,000 square miles.
THE tribes who overran the Roman empire, and came from the East, the Huns, Avars, and Alani, are supposed to have emigrated from this Table-Land of Asia; and some of the Gothic tribes, as they are called, came from a more limited plain of Europe, Jutland, and Denmark, which, though now peopled, yet preserves some of its natural characters, and is marked out by extensive heaths, which still present an obstacle to all cultivation. Why these un inviting districts should have been so apparently over peopled that emigration was rendered necessary, when the rest of the known world was comparatively under-populated, is a mystery in history which there is no means of fully explaining: it may be partly accounted for by the peculiar nature of the physical geography of this central region, which presents facilities of communication, and varieties of soil and climate, favourable to the spread of population. Its present comparative solitude is due to moral causes, to which we have not space to do more than allude.
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