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It is a
ing man, with the waters of the great deep-simultaneously lashing so many shores, and encompassing so many kingdoms, and, we may say, the globe itself, in its awful universality. More than two-thirds of the surface of the earth are covered by the ocean, and the extent of dry land is farther limited by rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. The objection may be started, that there is too much
But an acquaintance with facts, and a just consideration of their bearings, teach us the reverse.
We need not complain that the sea circumscribes our domains, as if we wanted room, when vast regions quite open to us are thinly peopled, and there remains so very much land to be possessed. The sea yields those exhalations which pass into dew and rain, and irrigate the earth; and if the effect be not excessive, we should not ascribe superabundance to the
That moisture is not to be considered superfluous which, flowing off from the fields, and descending into fissures, ravines, and valleys, becomes springs and rivers, impels machinery and introduces shipping, and after adorning many a landscape, and serving countless valuable
purposes, mingles anew with the waters of the ocean. wonderful system on which we are thus remarking: The blood of animals flows in containing vessels; so does the water, made artificially to supply towns; but, elevated by no forcing pump, the vapour rises from the sea, and, conducted by no tubes, it performs its vast and beneficent circuit with infallible regularity. The sanguineous circulation lasts only for a few years; this aqueous circulation is maintained without decay through innumerable ages. Nor is the sea a blank to vitality—it is not all dead
It is not the Typhon of the Egyptians-a name which denoted with them the personation of evil, and which they applied censoriously to the sea, as being in their apprehension a barren sea, unproductive of vitality. Even the salt of the sea was an abomination to the Egyptians; and hence, perhaps, to “sow with salt" became a symbol of devastation in the imagery of Eastern writers. The sea is full of life, active and varied life. enumerate all its plants, and animals, and animalcules, and tell how its sands and rocks, and shallows and profounds, are adapted respectively to their different populations? “ From materials furnished to him by the late antarctic expedition, Ehrenberg has ascertained that animalcules exist even in the ice and snow of the polar sea, and that they are abundant not only in inland seas, and in the vicinity of land, but that the clearest and purest water, taken from the open sea, and far from land, is crowded with microscopic life. These minute organisms have been found living at the depth of 270 fathoms (1620 feet), and, consequently, subjected to a pressure equal to 50 atmospheres, (about 750 lbs. on each square inch of surface.) . . The power of emitting light is possessed by several species of marine animals, among the polypes, annelids, crustacea, and mollusca. It was formerly a question, to what cause the luminosity of the sea was to be attributed ? By some philosophers it was supposed to be owing to the decay of animal substances which it contained; while others conjectured that it arose from a kind of electricity peculiar to itself. These hypotheses are now abandoned, and it is universally admitted, that the phosphorescence of the sea is owing to that of its living inhabitants, more especially of those which belong to the present order (that of jelly.fish); and it has been found, that the species of medusæ most instrumental in producing the luminosity of the ocean are those which are the most minute.” So largely are the vegetable and animal kingdoms represented in the sea, as to give confirmation to a saying of the ancients, that “whatever exists elsewhere is found in the sea, and that the sea contains things found nowhere else.” Nor is it a negation to human comfort. It supplies man with food. The finny tribes he has neither fed nor tended. He has provided for them no sustenance, no shelter, no guardian care. And yet, in the absence of all his attentions and culture, they are supplied to him in such abundance as to raise the question, whether, by all his fisheries, they are sensibly diminished. In sustaining his ships, the sea becomes a medium of communication for him between the ends of the earth. And let it be remembered that these vessels are human abodes, and that thousands of our race, or hundreds of thousands, dwell mostly on the main. In every way, then, the ocean is included in the habitable globe.
Let us now advert to the other agent, FIRE. in lashing shores, tends to wash them away; and if this power alone operated, islands and continents would gradually disappear. The sea, wearing down every thing into its
channel, would become less deep, and more extended, till all would be surmounted by its ascendant billows. To counteract this destruction there must be a compensating reproduction; and the reproducing agent is Fire. To a certain extent, the sea itself compensates for its destructiveness, by covering its bed with new strata, which may afterwards be elevated. But although this agency would diminish the depth of the ocean, it would never cause " the waters under the heaven to be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." The power of upheaval lies in heat. The bulk of substances is greatly affected by their temperature. In general they expand when they are warmed, and contract when they are cooled. Clay is an exception to the general rule. Owing to the expulsion of humidity, it contracts when it is heated. In this way the elevation and subsidence of land may be accounted for by the increase or reduction of igneous agency. Subterranean heat coming into contact with solid rocks, may not only enlarge their volume, but may turn them into a liquid or gaseous state.
The liquids or gases thus formed have prodigious elastic energy, and may lift up strata of whatever strength and thickness. The upward pressure may be of wide extent; and throughout that range of action the conditions may be so nearly equal, that large tracts of land may be simultaneously and almost uniformly elevated. It has been abundantly proved that parts of Sweden and other countries are exemplifying such elevation at the present time. Or the pressure from beneath may act on a limited portion of the overlying strata, as in the case of the mountain Jorullo, near to the city of Mexico. Mr Scrope, indeed, has suggested that this mountain may be an example of ejection rather than elevation, and may consist of an accumulation of lava and ashes : and Sir Charles Lyell speaks in favourable terms of this suggestion. But Humboldt, who visited the scene, was fully of the belief that the land had been uplifted. Mr Miller, in his admirable treatise on the “ Old Red Sandstone,” adopts this planation. “It is rarely," he says, " that the geologist catches a hill in the act of forming, and hence the interest of this well-attested instance. From the period of the discovery of America to the middle of the last century, the plains of Jorullo had undergone no change of surface, and the seat of the present hill was covered by plantations of indigo and sugar cane, when, in June 1759, hollow sounds
were heard, and a succession of earthquakes continued for sixty days, to the great consternation of the inhabitants. After the cessation of these, and in a period of tranquillity, on the 28th and 29th September, a horrible subterranean noise was again heard, and a tract four square miles in extent rose up, in the shape of a dome or bladder, to the height of sixteen hundred and seventy feet above the original level of the plain. The affrighted Indians fled to the mountains; and from thence looking down on the phenomenon, saw flames issuing from the earth for miles around the newly-elevated hill, and the softened surface rising and falling like that of an agitated sea, and opening into numerous rents and fissures. Two brooks which had watered the plantations precipitated themselves into the burning chasms. The scene of this singular event was visited by Humboldt about the beginning of the present century. At that period the volcanic agencies had become comparatively quiescent; the hill, however, retained its original altitude; a number of smaller hills bad sprung up around it; and the traveller found the waters of the engulphed rivulets escaping at a high temperature from caverns charged with sulphureous vapours and carbonic acid gas. There were inhabitants of the country living at the time who were more than twenty years older than the hill of Jorullo, and who had witnessed its rise.” But even where the elevating power has a point or centre, the sides of the mountain rise with its uplifted summit, and the whole of a country may be only the lower and gentler declivity of the mountain ridge. Thus the internal heat of the globe, though residing in profound and inscrutable mansions, is palpable in its effects. When straitened for
it forces the crust of the earth to yield to its expansiveness, and the result is seen in all that rises above the level of the sea. Nor is this all. The equipoise established at first is constantly preserved, so far at least as is conducive to benevolent designs. The sea is ever demolishing what it assails, and mass after mass yields to its denudations. This constant waste a volcanic agency as constantly repairs—ever deepening the channel of the ocean, and thus restricting its prevalence, or elevating the ocean's bed, and thus raising up what it strives to wash down. In either of which ways a divine Governor still breaks up for the deep his decreed place, and sets bars and doors, and says, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.”
What a magnificent equilibrium is presented in these conceptions! The tide of the ocean is uncontrollable by us; nor is the insignificance of man ever more apparent than when he loses sight of land for weeks and months together, in crossing the aqueous expanse, especially when a tempest overtakes him, and his frail bark drifts and leaks, and seems to be perishing in its diminutiveness and helplessness.
The agitation of the sea is equalled in its majesty and terrors only by the rockings of the earth, when hidden fires dissolve restraining barriers, and burst from their imprisonment. Who can be composed when the earth is moved, and its foundations are out of course? Who may stand by the crater, or think to close its lips, when it vents its fury, when it breathes flame and mutters thunder? Each of these awful powers, the aqueous and the igneous, seems to be in itself illimitable. But there is a God who can make even such agencies become bounds to one another; who can poise them in salutary proportion and counteraction, and reduce all their frightful mastery to a mutual helpfulness, by that power “which weighs the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance; which stretches out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing." -Dr King.
THE SPANISH CHAMPION.
The warrior bowed his crested head,
And tamed his heart of fire;
His long imprison'd sire.
I bring my captive train ;
O break my father's chain !
A ransom'd man this day ;
Will meet him on his way.”
And bounded on his steed;
The charger's foaming speed.