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There was a time when our earth was in a state of igneous fusion, when no ocean bathed it, and no atmosphere surrounded it, when no wind blew over it, and no rain fell upon it, but an intense heat held all its materials in solution. In those days, the rocks, which are now the very bones and sinews of our mother Earth, - her granites, her porphyries, her basalts, her sienites, - were melted into a liquid mass.
From artesian wells, from mines, from geysers, from hot-springs, a mass of facts has been collected, proving incontestably the heated condition of all substances at a certain depth below the earth's surface; and if we need more positive evidence, we have it in the fiery eruptions that even now bear fearful testimony to the molten ocean seething within the globe and forcing its way out from time to time. The modern progress of geology has led us, by successive and perfectly connected steps, back to a time when what is now only an occasional and rare phenomenon was the normal condition of our earth; when those internal fires were enclosed in an envelope so thin that it opposed but little resistance to their frequent outbreak, and they constantly forced themselves through this crust, pouring out melted materials that subsequently cooled and consolidated on its surface. So constant were these eruptions, and so slight was the resistance they encountered, that some portions of the earlier rock-deposits are perforated with numerous chimneys, narrow tunnels as it were, bored by the liquid masses that poured out through them and greatly modified their first condition.
There was another element without the globe, equally powerful in building it up. Fire and water wrought together in this work, if not always harmoniously, at
least with equal force and persistency. Water is a very active agent of destruction, but it works over again the materials it pulls down or wears away, and builds them up anew in other forms.
There is, perhaps, no part of the world, certainly none familiar to science, where the early geological periods can be studied with so much ease and precision as in the United States. Along their northern borders, between Canada and the United States, there runs the low line of hills known as the Laurentian Hills. Insignificant in height, nowhere rising more than fifteen hundred or two thousand feet above the level of the sea, these are nevertheless the first mountains that broke the uniform level of the earth's surface and lifted themselves above the waters. Their low stature, as compared with that of other more lofty mountain-ranges, is in accordance with an invariable rule, by which the relative ages
of mountains may be estimated. The oldest mountains are the lowest, while the younger and more recent ones tower above their elders, and are usually more torn and dislocated also. This is easily understood, when we remember that all mountains and mountain-chains are the result of upheavals, and that the violence of the outbreak must have been in proportion to the strength of the resistance.
When the crust of the earth was so thin that the heated masses within easily broke through it, they were not thrown to so great a height, and formed comparatively low elevations, such as the Canadian hills or the mountains of Bretagne and Wales. But in later times, when young, vigorous giants, such as the Alps, the Himalayas, or, later still, the Rocky Mountains, forced their way out from their fiery prison-house, the crust of
the earth was much thicker, and fearful indeed must have been the convulsions which attended their exit.
Such, then, was the earliest American land, — a long, narrow island, almost continental in its proportions, since it stretched from the eastern borders of Canada nearly to the point where now the base of the Rocky Mountains meet the plain of the Mississippi Valley. We may still walk along its ridge and know that we tread upon the ancient granite that first divided the waters into a northern and southern ocean; and if our imaginations will carry us so far, we may look down toward its base and fancy how the sea washed against this earliest shore of a lifeless world.
This is no romance, but the bold, simple truth; for the fact that this granite band was lifted out of the waters so early in the history of the world, and has not since been submerged, has, of course, prevented any subsequent deposits from forming above it. And this is true of all the northern part of the United States. It has been lifted gradually, the beds deposited in one period being subsequently raised, and forming a shore along which those of the succeeding one collected, so that we have their whole sequence before us.
For this reason the American continent offers facilities to the geologist denied to him in the so-called Old World, where the earlier deposits are comparatively hidden, and the broken character of the land, intersected by mountains in every direction, renders his investigation still more difficult.
CVIII. - A TRIBUTE TO MASSACHUSETTS.
THE following is an extract from Mr. Sumner's speech in the Senate, May 19 and 20, 1856.
OD be praised, Massachusetts, honored Common
wealth, that gives me the privilege to plead for Kansas on this floor, knows her rights, and will maintain them firmly to the end. This is not the first time in history that her public acts have been impeached and her public men exposed to contumely. Thus was it in the olden time, when she began the great battle whose fruits you all enjoy. But never yet has she occupied a position so lofty as at this hour. By the intelligence of her population, by the resources of her industry, by her commerce, cleaving every wave, by her manufactures, various as human skill, by her institutions of education, various as human knowledge, by her institutions of benevolence, various as human suffering, by the pages of her scholars and historians, by the voices of her poets and orators, she is now exerting an influence more subtile and commanding than ever before, — shooting her far-darting rays wherever ignorance, wretchedness, or wrong prevails, and flashing light even upon those who travel far to persecute her. Such is Massachusetts; and I am proud to believe that you may as well attempt with puny arm to topple down the earth-rooted, heaven-kissing granite which crowns the historic sod of Bunker Hill, as to change her fixed resolve for Freedom everywhere.
Sir, to men on earth it belongs only to deserve success, not to secure it; and I know not how soon the efforts of Massachusetts will wear the crown of triumph. But it cannot be that she acts wrong for herself or her children,
when in this cause she encounters reproach. No: by the generous souls once exposed at Lexington, — by those who stood arrayed at Bunker Hill, — by the many from her bosom who, on all the fields of the first great struggle, lent their vigorous arms to the cause of all, — by the children she has borne whose names alone are national trophies, is Massachusetts now vowed irrevocably to this work. What belongs to the faithful servant she will do in all things, and Providence shall determine the result.
CIX. - NAPOLEON; OR, THE MAN OF THE
RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON, an American essayist and poet, was born in Boston, May 25, 1803 ; and graduated at Harvard College, 1821. In 1829 he was settled as a Unitarian clergyman in Boston, but, in 1832, he dissolved his connection with his people on account of some differences of opinion respecting the Lord's Supper. In 1835 he went to reside in Concord, Mass., which has been his home ever since. He is a man of peculiar and original genius, combining spiritual and imaginative beauty with sharp practical insight. He has no system in his thoughts, and his ideas are not connected by any law of logical sequence. He enunciates truth in aphorisms, and his transitions are sudden and abrupt. His style is remarkable for its condensed beauty. No writer has given utterance to a greater number of thoughts that have passed as quotations into common circulation. His influence is wide, but it is rather exerted through the minds of his disciples than directly. He is a bold questioner of everything, and submits all received opinions in theology, politics, literature, and morals to the test of pure and independent reason. As a lecturer he finds great favor with thoughtful and cultivated audiences, but the common mind can hardly follow his sudden changes and abrupt transitions. His manner is very attractive, combining in a high degree dignity, simplicity, and impulsiveness. He has written some poetry, the best of which has the same characteristics of beauty and originality as his prose writings.
MONG the eminent persons of the nineteenth cen
tury, Bonaparte is far the best known and the most powerful, and owes his predominance to the fidelity with which he expresses the tone of thought and