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GEOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.
EARLY CIVILIZATION ROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN.
Mediterranean. Consequently. Proximity.
Commerce. Territory. Comparison. The nations that, according to the best authenticated history, appear to have been first civilized, were those that dwelt round the coast of the Mediterranean sea.' That sea—by far the greatest inlet that is known in the world, having no tides, nor, consequently, any waves, except such as are caused by the wind only-was, by the smoothness of its surface, as well as by the multitude of its islands and the proximity? of its neighbouring shores, extremely favourable to the infant navigation of the world, when, from their 3 ignorance of the compass, men were afraid to quit the view of the coast, and, from the imperfection of the art of shipbuilding, to abandon themselves to the boisterous waves of the ocean. To pass beyond the pillars of Herculesthat is, to sail out of the straits of Gibraltar*_was in the ancient world long considered as a most wonderful and dangerous exploit of navigation. It was late before even the Phænicians and Carthaginians, the most skilful navigators and shipbuilders of the old times, attempted it—the only nations that did attempt it.
Of all the countries on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, Egypt seems to have been the first in which either agriculture or manufactures were: cultivated and improved to any considerable degree. Upper Egypt extends itself nowhere above a few miles from the Nile; and in Lower Egypt that great river breaks itself into many different canals, which, with the assistance of a little art, seem to have afforded a communication by water carriage, not only between all the great towns, but between all the considerable villages, and even to many farmhouses in the country--nearly
in the same manner as the Rhine and the Maese do in Holland at present. The extent and easiness of this inland navigation was probably one of the principal causes of the early improvement of Egypt.
The improvements in agriculture and manufactures seem likewise to have been of very great antiquity in the provinces of Bengal, in the East Indies, and in some of the eastern provinces of China, though the great extent of this antiquity is not authenticated by any histories, of whose authority we, in this part of the world, are well assured. In Bengal, the Ganges and several other great rivers8 form a great number of navigable canals, in the same manner as the Nile does in Egypt. In the eastern provinces of China, too, several great rivers form, by their different branches, a multitude of canals, and, by communicating with one another, afford an inland navigation much more extensive than that either of the Nile or the Ganges, or, perhaps, than both of them put together. It is remarkable that neither the ancient Egyptians, nor the Indians, nor the Chinese, encouraged foreign commerce,do but seem all to have derived their great opulence from this inland navigation.
All the inland parts of Africa, and all that part of Asia which lies any considerable way north of the Euxine and Caspian seas, the ancient Scythia, the modern Tartary and Siberia, seem in all ages of the world to have been in the same barbarous and uncivilized state in which we find them at present. The sea of Tartary is the Frozen Ocean, which admits of no navigation ; and though some of the greatest rivers in the world run through that country, they are at too great a distance from one another to carry commerce and communication through the greater part of it. There are in Africa none of those great inlets, such as the Baltic and Adriatic seas in Europe; the Mediterranean and Euxine seas, both in Europe and Asia ; and the gulfs of Arabia, Persia, India, Bengal, and Siam, in Asia, to carry maritime commerce into the interior parts of that great continent; and the great rivers of Africa8 are at too great a distance from one another to give occasion to any considerable inland navigation. The commerce, besides, which any nation can carry on by means of a river which does not break itself into any great number of branches or canals, and which runs into another territory before it reaches the sea, can never be very considerable, because it is always in the power of the nations who possess that other territory to obstruct the communication between the upper country and the sea. The navigation of the Danube is of very little use to the different states of Bavaria, Austria, and Hungary, in comparison with what it would be if any of them possessed the whole of its course, till it falls into the Black Sea. -SMITH'S ‘Wealth of Nations.'
1. This statement is to be received nominatives go before, one singular and with considerable limitation. Neither the other plural ? Nineveh nor Babylon can be said to be 6. A grammatical error; correct it. on the shores of the Mediterranean.
7. A good deal more is known now on 2. Proximity to what?
these subjects than in the days of Smith. 3. Their, referring to the noun coming 8. Name some of them? after it.
9. What does that supply
place of 4. Gibraltar, the Calpe of the Greeks, 10. Foreign commerce is the trade formed, with Ábyla on the African coast, which one nation carries on with another; "the pillars of Hercules.”
inland commerce is the trade in the ex5. What rule regulates the number of change of commodities between citizens the verb in cases of this sort when two of the same nation or state.
THE FIRST ATTEMPTS AT COMMERCE.
Unavoidable. Expeditions. Ingenuity.
Accomplished. The original station allotted to man by his Creator was in the mild and fertile regions of the East. There the human race began its career of improvement; and, from the remains of sciences which were anciently cultivated, as well as of arts which were anciently exercised in India, we may conclude it to be one of the first countries in which men made any considerable progress in that career. The wisdom of the East was early celebrated, and its productions were early in request among distant nations. The intercourse, however, between different countries was carried on, at first, entirely by land. As the people of the East appear soon to have acquired complete dominion over the useful animals, they could early undertake the long and tiresome journeys which it was necessary to make, in order to maintain their intercourse, and by the provident bounty of heaven they were furnished with a beast of burden, without whose aid it would have been impossible to accomplish them. The camel, by its persevering strength, by its moderation in the use of food, and the singularity of its internal structure, which enables it to lay in a stock of water sufficient for several days, put it in their power to convey bulky commodities through those deserts which must be traversed by all who travel from any of the countries west of the Euphrates, towards India. Trade was carried on in this manner, particularly by the nations near to the Arabian Gulf, from the earliest period to which historical information reaches. Distant journeys, however, would be undertaken at first only occasionally, and by a few adventurers. But by degrees, from attention to their