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containing seeds, and as this class of trees never send up shoots from the roots, the whole would be destroyed. Not so, however, the oak, for it will almost invariably send up shoots from the roots. In the prairies of the West we have counted as many as fifty times where the oak and hickory have been destroyed by fire, and would start up again from the roots before the struggle for life was over: consequently no conebearing trees can live in this region, except in inaccessible cliffs beyond the reach of fire. In the northern parts of our continent, where beech, oak, and hickory cannot grow, we find as soon as the firs are destroyed that poplar and birch immediately occupy the vacant ground. But in a country of mountains, bogs, and lake, the fire cannot destroy all the firs. So, in time, a few firs are seen struggling up through the poplars and birches, and in time supersede them, to be again destroyed and renewed as before. But in a flat open country like Denmark, the firs once destroyed would have no chance of renewal. We give it as our opinion that no thick forests of fir can exist in our northern hemisphere for five hundred years without being destroyed by fire. If, then, the firs ceased in Denmark five hundred years after the close of the drift period, how long would it require for the beech to supersede the oak? After the fire had destroyed the firs, the oak would most readily take its place, and get the start of the beech; because of its greater tenacity of life it would send up shoots from the roots, while both the oak and beech would have a start from the stores of beech nuts and acorns hibernating animals had hid away in the ground or hollow trees. The contest would now be between the oak and the beech, and a very few centuries would determine it, soil and climate being more favorable to one than the other. Thus we see from the rate of changes at present going on in our own country, that all the changes of forest vegetation in Denmark since the drift period may easily be accounted for in one thousand five hundred years. Nothing but beech has been known in Denmark since the historic period, and the firs, oak, and beech occupy spaces in the bogs corresponding to the periods they severally predominated.
None of these peat bogs, as far as we recollect, are over thirty or forty feet deep. Mr. T. Sterry Hunt, Assistant Provincial Geologist in Canada West, has made the statement, based
on careful examination, that these peat bogs will produce ten times as much vegetable matter in a given time as our common forests. It is estimated that if all the timber on our common forests was compressed into coal, it would make a layer of about one inch all over the ground. This we may suppose would represent the growth of from one to two hundred years. Were our deepest peat bogs compressed and converted into coal according to the above estimates, we would find it difficult to carry back the close of the drift period be yond four or five thousand years.
The Black Forest of Germany has changed three times in the historic period: first fir, then oak, and now fir again. From such very uncertain data is the attempt made to carry back the human period far beyond the Mosaic record!
II. THE NILE POTTERY.
Another fact relied on to prove the great antiquity of man, is the old pottery and other works of art found deep down in the sediment of the Nile. Without going into facts or figures, it will be sufficient to state that the sediment brought down by the annual floods, and deposited all over the lower valley of the Nile, amounts somewhere to about two and a half or three inches in a century, so that what was the surface of the soil in the days of Moses will now be some eight feet below. In digging and boring wells, works of art have been found as far down as seventy-two feet below the present surface, from which it is inferred that Egypt has been inhabited by man thirty thousand years.
Let it be borne in mind that the Nile, like the Ganges, Mississippi, Missouri, and other large rivers of this class, has its lower course through a region of soft sediment deposited from its own waters. All such rivers, unless artificial means are used to prevent it, are constantly wearing away on one side, and depositing sediment on the other, thus keeping all such rivers of a uniform breadth. The laws that govern this constant shifting of the channel are easily explained. In times of flood, especially, wherever the current impinges strongly against a bank it will cut away on that side, but at the same time an equivalent for this loss will be found in the depositions in the
eddy on the opposite side; thus, first one side then the other is cut away and filled up, so that in the course of time these curves chase each other down stream. I have traversed rivers where these ever-receding curves reminded me of the appearance of an auger in boring, where the curves appear to chase each other perpetually. As most of the large rivers of our globe are underlaid with sand, a tide of which is constantly rolled along the bed of the stream, and constantly accumulating simultaneously with the deposition of sediment in times of flood on the adjoining bottom lands, in the course of a few centuries the river really runs on a ridge of sand, with banks of soft clay or mud on each side. Like a man trying to walk on the track of a railroad, he now slips off on this side and then on that, so all these rivers slip off from this ridge of sand, and as the adjoining clay or mud banks are more easily cut and carried away than the sand, this accounts for the fact that these rivers are uniformly deepest in the parts newly cut away; so that a work of art lost in one of these newly formed deep places, in the course of a few centuries may be found far from the river, and deeply imbedded in river mud.
The city of Booneville in Missouri was first built on the north bank, but the river left the town, having made a turn toward the south side of the valley. The inhabitants followed up the river, and built on the alluvial banks. But the town had not made much advancement before the channel changed again, and this time close to the south side, where the banks or bluffs come sloping down to the alluvial plain, and here Booneville still remains, and all this in less than fifty years.
The great flood of 1844 carried away a whole section of land near Kansas City, belonging to one Colonel Chick.
Those who have traveled on our great Western rivers will often have seen a man with the lead sounding the depth where shoals are apprehended. The line used is nine fathoms. In the distance of a mile the depth may vary from one to nine or more fathoms. When the lead does not touch the bottom the man would sing out, "No bottom, no bottom." The bell would then ring, and all steam would be put on again. Now the Nile is a stream of precisely the same character as the Missouri or Mississippi. Suppose in the early days of the settlement of Egypt, old pottery, bricks, and other works of art
had been lost in an eddy near shore where the water might be eight or ten fathoms deep, the moving sand along the bottom, and the deposition of sediment in this case, would be several fect in a year, until it was raised above low water. Thus it is very easy to see, from the changes actually going on at the present time, how in the course of a few centuries works of art could be buried many feet deep, and be found far from the present bed of the river. Some of these works of art, from the data adopted by Sir C. Lyell and others pronounced to be twenty thousand years old, have subsequently from inscriptions on them been proved to be only two thousand years old. Sir C. Lyell himself in one place informs us truly that all such large rivers as the Nile, Ganges, etc., are constantly changing their beds. We, however, needed not his testimony to settle this fact.
In the year 1850 we stood on the banks of the Missouri river, near the city of Weston. A man standing by our side, pointing to a snag about eighty rods out in this stream, said, "When I came here seven years ago, Squire Jones had his, cornfield all on this side of that snag. In that time the land has all been washed away, and now it is nearly filled up again." In three or four years after Squire Jones's cornfield was washed away, the man with the lead on the bow of the steamer, in the identical place where the cornfield had been, might have been heard singing out, "No bottom, no bottom." Now suppose at this juncture a black boy, who might have been splitting wood, had dropped his ax overboard, and the mate had said, "There, you clumsy black rascal, you have lost the ax overboard; you shall have a rope's end for that;" and the boy had replied, "Well, massa, it was an ole one, and broke on de corner." In fifty years corn may be planted in this same place again, and then let Sir C. Lyell, Horner, Darwin & Co., come along and sink a shaft in this part of the Missouri valley, and they may find the identical ax the negro boy lost overboard fifty or more feet from the surface. They will then announce their discoveries and infallible scientific deductions. They will say, "It is a well-established fact that all this great valley rises by the deposition of sediment at the rate of one foot in a century: fifty feet from the surface we found this American ax, showing conclusively that this great
valley has been inhabited by civilized man of the Anglo-Saxon type for five thousand years." While many are wondering at the old relic and at the profound deductions of science, an old gray-headed negro comes along and says, "Let me see dat ax." After examining it attentively he says, "I lost dat berry ax overboard jist fifty years ago, and massa he flog me for it." Messrs. Lyell and Horner's estimate of the age of the first settlement of Egypt is no better than the above. That such rapid and great changes take place in the Mississippi region is matter of fact. I have seen six feet of sediment that had accumulated in an eddy of the Missouri river in six months, and that so near the surface as to be left dry at low water. The accumulations would be much greater in the deep parts that were said to have "no bottom."
Were the delusions and false deductions of these men of science to affect themselves alone, it would not be cause for such profound regret; but when millions are influenced in their views of divine truth by their writings, the plea of ignorance in part of the subjects of which they have treated will not relieve them from the responsibility they have incurred in leading the simple astray.
III. THE NEW ORLEANS SKELETON.
On pages 43 and 44.we have an account of a pit sunk at New Orleans for gas works to the depth of sixteen feet. Four layers of buried cypress forests were dug through, with several hundred rings in the trees, and at the depth of sixteen feet, charcoal and a human skeleton were found. The cranium of the skeleton is said to belong to the aboriginal type of the red Indian race. Dr. B. Dowler, indorsed by Sir C. Lyell, estimates the age of this skeleton at fifty thousand years. No data are given by which this conclusion is reached, so we are left to our own resources.
Sir C. Lyell himself has estimated the rise in the alluvial deposits of the Mississippi at one foot in a century. This we think a low estimate, for it is a fact pretty well established that the delta of this river has encroached on the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of about five or six miles in a century, and a descent of about three inches in a mile is required to drain off the FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XVII.-36