Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

menced the work of destruction; and the relation either of debtor or creditor, low. relentless rapacity of impersonal corpora- ever, almost every individual, of the age tions was unknown and unapprehended. of legal discretion, stands,--and to appreBut, as embarrassments and banks have ciate the responsibilities which such relaspread, the true character of our laws has tion involves, is of some importance. Even been more clearly developed. It was left those who are devoid of personal concern, for corporations, without soul, without feel an interest in those things which conbowels, without any of the yearnings of cern their friends, and which affect the nature, to evince the atrocity of which the reputation and prosperity of their country, laws are capable. The scales have at We recommend, to those with whom such length fallen from the eyes of the people, reflections have weight, the candid peru--they have awakened from their slug- sal of both the essays, the titles of wbich gishness; and when they shall come cor are prefixed to this article. They should rectly to estimate the deleterious influence be read in connexion, as they will serve and tendency of the privileged combina- to temper and to correct each other. We tions, to which they have lent their sanc- would also recommend to those, who have tion, they will resume the rights with never fancied to themselves the sufferings which they have so improvidently parted, of an unfortunate insolvent, torn from his and rescind the powers which they have family in the hour of despondence, and inso injudiciously bestowed. They will an carcerated in the common cell of the nihilate, with a breath, the bubbles which wretched and the base, cut off from the their breath has inflated. A bill, which exercise of his faculties, and the enjoygoes far to check enormities, of which we ment of the poorest bounties of nature, have seen but the beginnings, has just degraded in his own estimation, and dispassed one branch of the legislature of graced in public opinion-to those who this state. It is entitled, “ An Act to abo- have never entered into the feelings of lish Imprisonment for Debt, and to pre- such a one, we repeat, we would recomvent Frauds against Creditors.” We mend the perusal of another series of eshave seen the original draught of it, says written under the signature of “Howwhich is susceptible of material amend- ard" in 1811, in the New-York Columbian, ments. It has, we understand, been con- and afterwards collected in a pamphlet. siderably amended. We hope that some In these essays are some pathetic details definite provision may be introduced into which will touch the sensibilities even of it, for the attachment of the sbares of the the most obtuse; and those who would capital stock of any incorporated com- blame the enthusiasm with which the wripany, and the dividends due thereon, held ter is animated, must, at least, acknowby any debtor at the time of the com- ledge it to be amiable. A zeal for the liber. mencement of any suit against him, or ty of the citizen may, indeed, be carried to transferred to him whilst any judgment excess, but we do not think that this is a against him remains unsatisfied. There frequent fault, though certainly a very are many points in which the draught ap- venial one. If the habits and dispositions pears to us to be defective, but as we of our people be democratic, they are efknow not what shape the bill has since fectually counteracted by the tendency of taken, nor what improvements it may re- institutions which every day is consolidatceive, we shall defer our comments upon ing. We have more cause to dread, that it, until its fate is decided. That it will the debasing influence of commercial cube wholly rejected, we can hardly believe. pidity will deaden the pulses of national Cheated creditors and persecuted debtors pride and liberal sentiment, than that the are equally clamorous for some relief, insurgency of public opinion will arrest against the unequal operation of existing the current of commercial enterprise. laws.

We should be sorry to see liberty and proWe are fearful that a class of our rea- perty brought into competition,-weshould ders will regard the topic which we have despair of the commonwealth, if an unworoffered to their consideration as a dry and thy passion for the latter should ever be unpromising one,-we shall not tempt their suffered to preponderate the love, and the patience by dwelling on it longer. In the reverence, due to the former. E.

ART. 5. Essay on the Theory of the Earth, by M. CUVIER, Perpetunl Secretary of

the French Institute, Professor and Administrator of the Museum of Natural History, &c.-With Mineralogical Notes, and an Account of Curier's Geological Discoveries, by PROFESSOR JAMESON.--To which are now added, Observations on the Geology of North America, illustrated by the Description of various Organic Remains, found in that part of the World, by SAMUEL L. MITCHILL, Botan. Mineral. et Zoolog, in Univers. Nov. Eborac. Prof. &c. &c. 8vo. pp. 248. New-York, Kirk & Mercein. 1818.

This essay

ANY great and learned men have been raised. He takes hold of the submuch of their attention in investigating his rcaders into a new region of thought, the history of the terraqueous globe. They and gently carries them with him along bave endeavoured to comprise the results the lapse of ages, without fatigue and of their inquiries in a theory of the earth. without complaint. We shall feel highly Such a theory supposes a system support- gratified, if, in the review we have undered by a series of facts relative to the taken of this celebrated work, we can changes and origin of the terraqueous only interest our readers sufficiently to globe. Mineralogy has heretofore almost induce them to procure and peruse the exclusively furnished data, upon which book, which we shall proceed more partheories of the earth have been establish- ticularly to notice. ed; but in the one under consideration, The edition before us, as lately issued similar results have followed from a view from the press of Kirk & Mercein, in of the fossil organic remains, which are New-York, contains three parts; and the so abundantly scattered over the surface whole is illustrated by eight plates of enof the earth, and imbodied in the solid gravings of the fossil remains of quadrustrata far beneath the surface. The work peds, and other organic beings, found in before us contains an admirable com various districts of the globe. pendium of the labours and researches The first part contains the essay of of an individual, who has been, for many M. Cuvier on the theory of the earth, years past, vigorously engaged, unlocking which is introductory to his great works the depositories of nature where the re on fossil organic remains. lics of former times are interred. From has been translated by professor Jameson, these, after a scrutinizing examination of Edinburgh, from the original French and mature deliberation, he has establish- into English, and contains the substance ed a system, which, for simplicity and of his work, being the reasoning and de. elegance of structure, outshines all that duction, resulting from the consideration have preceded it. Hitherto, in the inves. of the whole subject matter. This is contigations on the subject of geology, ex tained in 183 pages. The second part traneous fossils, or petrifactions, have not contains mineralogical notes, and an acreceived the attention which their impor- count of Cuvier's geological discoveries, tance demands. Hence, Cuvier, “ as an by professor Robert Jameson, intended to antiquary of a new order,” entices his illustrate the text of the essay. These readers over paths but little explored, and notes occupy 134 pages; and the remains leads them among the tombs to examine ing 111 pages are supplied by Dr. Mitchill. the remains of organic beings “hitherto To the translation and edition of proalmost uniformly neglected.” In systems fessor Jameson, Dr. Mitchill has added of mineralogy and geology, petrifactions (wbat forms the third part of the work have occupied a very small space, and before us)“ Observations on the Geology wherever they have been noticed, they of North America," illustrated by the dehave appeared like an appendix, but par- scription of various organic remains found tially connected with the subject, and in that part of the world. Thus we have, placed there as objects of inexplicable imbodied in a few octavo pages, the lacuriosity. So, in cabinets of mineralogy, bours of three men, great in the field of it was difficult to arrange them in any sys- science, of different nations and of differtem, and accordingly they were excluded, ent languages, but uniting, freely uniting, or laid by, for future consideration. But without envy or jealousy, to explore the now, the light of an extraordinary genius dark recesses of nature, and unfold the shines in the dark recesses of nature, and ways of God to man. Such a union of gives to extraneous fossils a consideration sentiment and action, in men of extensive and rank in the history of the terraqueous acquirements and scientific erudition, is globe, to which they have never before not often to be met with, and wbere their

cesses.

menon.

labours promote the general welfare, we observe the first proofs of revolutions" should not be backward in bestowing that on its surface. liberal encomium which their works have « The lowest and most level parts of the merited. It must be a great source of earth, when penetrated to a very great satisfaction and pleasure to the philoso- depth, exhibit nothing but horizontal strata, phic world, to see France, England, and composed of various substances, and con America engaged in extending and illus- taining almost all of them innumerable ma

rine productions. Similar strata, with the trating the pbysical sciences, by the la

same kind of productions, compose the hills bours of men, who are foremost in these

even to a great height. Sometimes the departments in their respective countries. shells are so numerous as to constitute the It is with great diffidenco that we un entire body of the stratum. They are aldertake to examine the merits of their most every where in such a perfect state of respective works. Their inquiries into preservation, that even the smallest of them the relics of animated beings, which once retain their most delicate parts, their sharpmoved upon the surface of the earth, but est ridges, and their finest and tenderest proare now extinct, lead us to a true and cor

They are found in elevations far rect history of our globe, as explained in above the level of evey part of the ocean, the preliminary observations (p. 27) of and in places to which the sea could not be Cuvier himself.

conveyed by any existing cause. They are

not only enclosed in loose sand, but are of. " The ancient history of the globe, which ten incrusted and penetrated on all sides by is the ultimate object of all these researches, the hardest stones. Every part of the earth, is also, of itself, one of the most curious ob- every hemisphere, every continent, every jects that can engage the attention of en

island of any size, exhibits the same phenolightened men: and if they take any interest

We are therefore forcibly led to in examining, in the infancy of our species, believe, not only that the sea has at one the almost obliterated traces of so many na period or another covered all our plains, but tions that have become extinct, they will that it must have remained there for a long doubtless take a similar interest in collect time, and in a state of tranquillity; which ing, amidst the darkness which covers the circumstance was necessary for the formainfancy of the globe, the traces of those re

tion of deposits so extensive, so thick, in volutions which took place anterior to the part so solid, and containing exuviæ so perexistence of all nations.

fectly preserved “ We admire the power by which the hu

« The time is past for ignorance to assert man mind has measured the motions of that these remains of organized bodies are globes, which nature seemed to have conceal mere lusus nature,-productions generated ed forever from our view. Genius and science in the womb of the earth by its own creative have burst the limits of space, and a few ob- powers., A nice and scrupulous compariservations, explained by just reasoning, have

son of their forms, of their contexture, and unveiled the mechanism of the universe. frequently even of their composition, cannot Would it not also be glorious for man

to bursi detect the slightest difference between these the limits of time, and by a few observations, to

shells and the shells which still inhabit the ascertain the history of this world, and the

sea. They have therefore once lived in the series of events which preceded the birth of the sea, and been deposited by it; the sea consehuman race."

quently must have rested in the places where

the deposition has taken place. Hence it Cuvier after stating, in the plan of his is evident the basin or reservoir containing essay, that he will describe the whole of the sea has undergone some change, at least, the results at which the theory of the either in extent, or in situation, or in both. earth seems to him to have arrived,

Such is the result of the very first search, ceeds, in the third section, to speak of the and of the most superficial examination. first appearance of the earth. 'The invi

“ The traces of revolutions become still ting prospects of verdant plains and cul

more apparent and decisive when we ascend

a little higher, and approach nearer to the tivated fields, of gently flowing streams, foot of the great chains of mountains. There and fertile valleys, together with cities, are still found many beds of shells; some towns, and villages, and their attendant of these are even larger and more solid; the population, would lead the superficial ob. shells are quite as numerous and as entirely server to imagine that the solid materials preserved, but they are not of the same speof the earth were unchangeable and had cies with those which were found in the less 80 remained from the beginning; but he is elevated regions. The strata which contain soon convinced to the contrary, when he have various degrees of inclination, and are

them are not so generally horizontal : they digs beneath the surface, ascends the hills, sometimes situated vertically. While in the observes the declivities of mountains, or plains and low hills it was necessary to dig examines the defiles of descending tor- deep in order to detect the succession of the rents, where he can see something of the strata, here we perceive them by means of Internal structure of the globe. We thus the valleys which time or violence has pro

pro

[ocr errors]

duced, and which disclose their edges to the of New-York, - Dr. Bruce's Mineralogieye of the observer. At the bottom of these cal Journal,—The Transactions of the declivities, huge masses of their debris are

American Philosophical Society, and collected, and form round bills, the height of others, not now at hand for more particuwhich is augınented by the operation of lar reference, may be consulted. But every thaw and of every storm.

the observations added to Jameson's edi" These inclined or vertical strata, which form the ridges of the secondary mountains, tion of Cuvier, by Dr. Mitcbill, afford do not rest on the horizontal strata of the the most abundant proofs of such revolubills which are situated at their base, and tions in North America. They are stated serve as their first steps ; but, on the contra- by Cuvier, in the 5th and 6th sections of ry, are situated underneath them. The lat. bis Essay, to have been numerous and ter are placed upon the declivities of the sudden, and the geology of North Ameformer. When we dig through the horizon- rica is not wanting in proofs on these tal strata, in the neighbourhood of the inclin. points; but we reserve our remarks in ed strata, the inclined strata are invariably order that we may be more particular found below. Nay, sometimes, when the when noticing that part of the work. inclined strata are not too much elevated,

'T their summit is surmounted by horizontal

proofs of the occurrence of restrata. The inclined strata are therefore

volutions before the existence of living more ancient than the horizontal strata. And beings,” are contained in the seventh secas they must necessarily have been formed tion of the essay, in which our author in a horizontal position, they have been sub- writes as follows. sequently shifted into their inclined or ver

56 As we ascend to higher points of elevatical position, and that too before the hori- tion, and advance towards the lofty summits zontal strata were placed above them.

of the mountains, the remains of marine “ Thus the sea, previous to the formation animals, that multitude of shells we have of the horizontal strata, had formed others, spoken of, begin very soon to grow rare, which, by some means, have been broken, and at length disappear altogether. We arlifted up, and overturned in a thousand ways. rive at strata of a different nature, which There had therefore been also at least one contain no vestige at all of living creatures. ehange in the basin of that sea which preceded Nevertheless, their crystallization, and even eurs: it had also experienced at least one re

the nature of their strata, show that they also volution; and as several of these inclined have been formed in a suid ; their inclined strata which it had formed first, are eleva: position and their

slopes show that they also ted above the level of the horizontal strata 'have been moved and overturned; the obwhich have succeeded and which surround lique manner in which they sink under the them, this revolution, while it gave them shelly strata,shows that they have been formtheir present inclination, had also caused ed before these ; and the height to which them to project above the level of the sea, their bare and rugged tops are elevated above so as to form islands, or at least socks and all the shelly strata,-shows that their suminequalities; and this must have happened mits have never again been covered by the whether one of their edges was lifted up

sea since they were raised up out of its above the water, or the depression of the bosom. opposite edge caused the water to subside,

“ Such are those primitive or primordial This is the second result, not less obvious, mountains which traverse our continents in nor less clearly demonstrated, than the first, various directious, rising above the clouds, do every one who will take the trouble of separating the basins of the rivers from one studying carefully the remains by which it another, serving, by means of their eternal is illustrated and proved."

snows, as reservoirs for feeding the springs, The proofs of revolutions on the surface and forming, in some measure, the skeleton, of the globe, besides what are here men

or, as it were, the rough frame-work of the

earth. tioned, are many, and have been observ

“ The sharp peaks and rugged indentations ed in various parts of the earth, collected which mark their summits, and strike the and recorded in the different works on eye at a great distance, are so many proofs geology. The investigations on this sub- of the violent manner in which they have ject have been principally made in Eu- been elevated. Their appearance in this rope and Asia. America has of late pre- respect is very different from that of the sented abundant additional facts in proof rounded mountains and the hitls with flat of such revolutions. Among the foreign- surfaces, whose recently formed masses have ers who have collected them,

may be men- always remained in the situation in which tioned Volney, Humboldt, and M'Clure, they were quietly deposited by the sea which

last covered them. as the most conspicuous. Many of our

“ These proofs become more obvious as own citizens bave occasionally written on

we approach. The valleys have no longer these subjects, and their essays are to be those gently sloping sides, or those alterfound in the several periodical journals of nately salient and re-entrant angles opposite the country. The Medical Repository to one another, which seem to indicate the

[ocr errors]

1

beds of ancient streams. They widen and had forced themselves into view, after the
contract without any general rule; their wa formation of those which are secondary. lo
ters sometimes expand into lakes, and some some countries, we find numerous and pro-
times descend in torrents; and here and digiously large blocks of primitive substances
there the rocks, suddenly approaching from scattered over the surface of the secondary
cach side, form transverse dikes, over which strata, and separated by deep valleys from
the waters fall into cataracts. The shat the peaks or ridges whence these blocks
tered strata of these valleys expose their must have been derived. It is necessary,
cdges on one side, and present on the other therefore, either that these blocks must have
side large portions of their sarface lying ob- been thrown into those situations by means
liquely; they do not correspond in height, of eruptions, or that the valleys, which other.
but those which on one side form the sum wise must have stopped their course, did not
mit of the declivity, often dip so deep on the exist at the time of their being transported
other as to be altogether concealed.” to their present sites.
These proofs also correspond with the series of epochs anterior to the present time,

« Thus we have a collection of facts, a
opinions entertained by Mr. Kirwan. He and of which the successive steps may be
states that no masses, or strata, contain- ascertained with perfect certainty, although
ing shells, or other petrified organic re the periods which intervened cannot be de-
mains, are found higher than 8500 or 9000 termined with any degree of precision.
seet above the present level of the sea.* These epochs form so many fixed points, an-
Hence the earth, since the creation of ani- swering as rules for directing our inquiries
mated beings, was covered with water to respecting this ancient chronology of the
that level, and consequently the revolu- earth.”
tions which appear to have taken place in In order to show that

" the causes the higher mountains were produced at which act at present on the surface of our a period anterior to the existence of ani- globe,” are imcompetent to produce the mal life. Cuvier does not go into detail revolutions above referred to, he next on this subject, but refers for proofs more enters into their examination, in wbich at large to Pallas, Saussure, Deluc, and he treats “of slips, or falling down of the others, and concludes the section thus : materials of mountains ;" w of alluvial for

Hence, it is impossible to deny, that the mations ;” “ of the formation of Downs ;" waters of the sea have formerly, and for a “of the formation of cliffs or steep shores;" Jong time, covered those masses of matter “of depositions formed in water;" “ of 'which now constitute our highest moun stalactites ;" “ of lithophites;" “of in- i tains; and farther, that these waters, during crustations ;” and “of volcanoes,” from a long time, did not support any, living which he draws the following conclusions : bodies. Thus, it has not been only since the commencement of animal life that these

« Thus we shall seek in vain, among the numerous changes and revolutions have various forces which still operate on the surtaken place in the constitution of the exter- face of our earth, for causes competent to nal covering of our globe : for the masses the production of those revolutions and ca. formed previous to that event have suffered tastrophes of which its external crust er. changes, as well as those which have been hibits so many traces: and if we have reformed since; they have also suffered vio- course to the constant external causes with tent changes in their positions, and a part of which we have been hitherto acquainted, these assuredly took place while they exist

we shall have no greater success.' ed alone, and before they were covered over by the shelly masses. The proof of this lies cal causes could not have produced these

He also concludes (p. 56) that astronomiin the overturnings, the disruptions, and the revolutions, at least such as have a slow as well as in those of more recent formation, and gradual operation. The mutation of which are there even in greater number and the earth's axis never exceeds 10 or 11 better defined.

degrees, and this gradually advances to “But these primitive masses have also its maximum, and as gradually returns. suffered other revolutions, posterior to the This, and the subsidence of the waters formation of the secondary strata, and have from the earth, and the changes from perhaps given rise to, or at least have par. heat to cold, or from cold to heat, are all taken of, some portion of the revolutions incompetent, since in acting slowly, they and changes which these latter strata have could not have produced sudden effects. experienced. There are actually considera- After these remarks, be observes that nable portions of the primitive strata uncovered, although placed in lower situations than turalists have been led to make many exmany of the secondary strata ; and we can.

traordinary suppositions, and to lose themnot conceive how it should have so happen. selves in “erroneous and contradictory ed, unless the primitive strata, in these places, speculations." Hence he is led to take

a view “ of former systems of geology,” See Kirwan's Geological Essays.

in which be gives a summary of the pria

« ForrigeFortsæt »