網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

cisive. Those who could understand each other would soon collect together, apart from the rest. Every one would separate from those who were incomprehensible by him. The awful change would be felt to be a production of divine power; and being accompanied by a declaration of the great purpose for which it was inflicted, the wiser individuals would soon concur in the counsels of their better judgment, indeed of obvious common sense, and would recommend an immediate obedience to the requisition of that Omnipotence whom it was absurdity to oppose. The mode of execution was easy, by all who were intelligible to each other separating from those who were not so, and by those uniting into little societies who found they could harmonize together. As these would severally live most peaceably and comfortably by themselves, and therefore in a different locality from others, migrations of this sort would be resolved upon ; and suitable stations would be selected, either' according to such divine suggestions as should be communicated, or according to such natural agencies and circumstances as would then be operating to similar results. The divine purpose was thus accomplished of causing them to settle in different colonizations.*

What history and revelation thus concur to assure us did take place, we may perceive, by glancing at the geographical state of the earth, had been foreseen and provided for, when the configuration and condition of the surface were arranged and settled after the diluvian commotion. If we compare the geological face of the globe with this historical certainty of the division and dispersion of the human population into distinct and separated tribes and nations, and with their permanent continuance in this state, we shall be struck with the manifest adjustment of the one circumstance with the other. For as ground is prepared by human skill and industry to be a garden or fields of'corn, so was the surface of the earth put into those shapes and conditions which would correspond with these intended divisions of the human

to " So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence, upon the face of all the earth ; and they left off to build the city."-Gen. xi. 8. Or Eber's sons, " the name of one was Peleg: for in his days was the earth divided."--Gen. x. 25. As the word Peleg signifies division, it is reasonably inferred that the disparting of mankind occurred at the period of his nativity, and Peleg was born in the 101st year after the flood.-Ib. 10. 12, 14, 16.

face; and which would separate its populations from each other, and keep them in this state, and prevent them from again intermingling and amalgamating, and from ever becoming one people, one empire, one uniform set and kind of assimilated human beings.

The continental land of the earth, that part which the ocean waters did not cover, was therefore not made to be one level plain, one circuitous series of even surface, everywhere cultivable and everywhere accessible, which the human race might traverse with ease and celerity, from north to south, or from east to west. Such facilities of movement and intercourse were reserved for the later ages of the world, of which the present day seems to be a commencement, when art and science would be led to surmount the opposing obstacles of established nature. Our canals, roads, steamvessels, improved navigation, railroads, and other contrivances of safe and rapid motion, are overcoming distance and impediment, by the applicable resources of mechanical knowledge and experimental assiduity. But communications, passåge, conveyance, travelling, and marching with this mutual freedom and rapidity, were inconsistent with the divine purposes in the ancient state of his human world; and therefore every natural obstacle to such intercourse was established in the form and condition of the surface of the earth, at the secession of the diluvian waters, which for many succeeding ages of human nature would prevent such a result. Hence' the general superficies was divided into distinct terrestrial compartments, separated from each other by mountains, deserts, forests, lakes, marshes, rivers, wild heaths, and frozen regions, which were long unpenetrated, or inaccessible, or which could not be traversed by mankind, with their ancient means and resources of distant transport. These geological obstructions insulated tribes and nations from each other, and kept them so disparted, and protected them from each other's invasion and hostilities, and made the one even ignorant of the other's existence, and averse to any political inter

A slight glance at the state of the earth in this respect will show you how fully and how naturally this special object was provided for and produced.

The portions of the earth which have been ordained to be in the state of sandy deserts, separating large tracts of continent from each other, chiefly prevail in the Asiatic and

VOL. II.Ee

course.

[ocr errors]

African quarters of the globe, and most extensively in the latter. After a fertile stretch of land along its seashores, the whole northeast portion of Africa has been in this condition, and to a vast extent.* Beyond the Atlas chain of mountains which bound the southern districts of Morocco, that immense desert begins, which spreads into the regions where the negro population commences, and separates them from all land facilities of intercourse with the great civilized nations that have been distinguished in human history.t In South Africa others of the same sort occur ;# but their extent has not been ascertained, nor do we yet know how much of the central and southeastern territories of this continent may be in this condition. They occur in Turkestan, Arabia, and Syria, and other parts of Asia. All these, which are already known, form a vast zone of deserts, whose united extent has been , calculated to spread over a fourth part of the dry land of Asia and Africa.ỹ Their character is very peculiar, and from this, and from their amazing spread and continuity of extent, they must fulfil some important effect in our present earthly mechanism, which human sagacity has not yet descried.

* * The whole northeast part of Africa consists of a mighty expanse of desert sand, expanding for upward of 1000 miles in each direction. The chains of arid and rocky mountains by which it is traversed, give only a more rugged and dreary character to this immense waste."-Murray, Encycl. Geog. p. 1144.

†"Then follows the immense ocean of desert, nearly 3000 miles in length and 1000 in breadth, reaching across the whole continent from east to west, and from north to south, between latitude 150 and 300. The sterility of the scene is only interrupted by a narrow line of not above half a mile, formed by the course of the Nile through Nubia, and by a few islands, or oases, scattered at wide intervals over this immeasurable waste; these spots affording springs, verdure, and a few days' support to a scanty population.”—Ib. p. 1136.

I'" In South Africa, some late observers, in travelling inland from the Cape, have caught a glimpse of vast expanses of desert, reported almost to rival those at the opposite extremity of the continent." - Ib. p. 1136.

9. The sandy zone includes also the eastern part of the great Alpine girdle. It is therefore more accurate to consider it as extending across the African continent in a band of 130 in breadth. From the Red Sea it turns a little to the northward; and in the form of a truncated triangle, resting upon the sea as a basis, it reaches obliquely across the continent of Asia, to the 50th degree of latitude and the 120th of longitude; including Northern Africa, Arabia, Persia, Cabul, Bucharia, Sind, Thibet, and the western part of Chinese Tartary; and embracing an area of 6,500,000 square miles, or nearly one fourth of the two continents through which it passes."-Encyc. Brit. p. 158.

!! "This traet is characterized by vast desert plains, formed of very light moveable sands, which assume the form of waves; by burning

In Europe they are rare, and nearly as much so in America, though in the southern regions of this continent there are occasionally some indications of them.*

At both the poles, the freezing severity of the cold makes nearly all within the Arctic circle uninhabitable by men, and causes the lower districts which are contiguous to these, to be but little occupied or visited by the human race.t For their occupation, that portion of the globe which forms the temperate and torrid zones, contains the only regions that have been provided and fitted. In these mountains have been established, which were intended to keep mankind apart from each other, and to make all access between them long impossible, and at all times difficult. They have been found important protectors of the independence of nations, and most useful repressions of that grasping ambition which military power and activity have so often cherished and sought to indulge, at the expense of human liberty and comfort. It is from their position and effects in the structure of the surface, that the present form of the regions of the earth principally arises.f Mountains have also in them other re

and pestilential winds; by an extraordinary aridity and want of rivers ; and by an abundant formation of salt, sometimes deposited like a crust on the surface, sometimes mixed with the inferior salt. Except the Indus and the Oxus, there is not a river of any size within this immense region, which is twice as large as Europe.”—Encyc. Brit. p. 158.

* “ There are no real deserts in Sonth America, except a narrow tract of rock and quicksands on the coast of Peru, between Coquimbo, and Lima, on which no rain ever falls.”-Humboldt, Pers. Narr. vol. 4.

“A permanent zone of ice surrounds each pole, the breadth of which varies with the seasons. In å general point of view, the icebound seas and lands are nearly conterminous with the Arctic circle in the northern hemisphere, and with the parallel of 600 in the south.

In the one case, they occupy one twelfth, in the other about one seventh of the hemisphere."--Enc. Ed. S. p. 169. “It is not quite agreed that any navigator has been within 60 degrees of the North Pole, although some accounts pretend to a still nearer approach. The failure of Capt. Cook's attempt to penetrato to the South Pole gave rise to an idea that it is surrounded with fixed ice to the distance of eighteen or 19 degrees. A recent Russian expedition could not get beyond 700 8'. But Mr. Weddell reached 255 miles nearer the pole, and contends that the South Pole must be free from ice.”-Murray, Enc. Geog. p. 185.

# “If we consider the old continent attentively, we shall find that its general form, the declivity of its surface, and the course of its rivers, are chiefly determined by one great zone of mountains, which traverse it from one extremity to the other, at the mean latitude of 40° north. This Alpine girdle has its origin on the shores of the Atlantic, between the parallels of 30° and 420, from which, in several chains, under the names

sults of great importance to mankind, and appear to occupy, altogether, a portion of its surface not much less than that which has been assigned to be sandy desert. *

It is quite absurd to make it a complaint against Provi,dence, that deserts, forests and mountains, swamps and lakes, abstract so large a portion of the land surface of the earth from the use and habitation of mankind; because we see that, notwithstanding the existence of these, a far greater portion of cultivable land than men were ever meant to occupy, has been left free for them to appropriate to their use, whenever it should be needed. But so far have they been from wanting to use what was fully accessible and applicable, that they have, in all ages, perunitted a very large proportion indeed of good and fertile land to remain in the state of forests of great extent, although every tree that they consist of is removable at any time by human skill and indus

Wherever they choose to reside, they soon level the forest and clear the ground.

For their actual habitation and use, both plains and valleys have been copiously formed, in the distribution of the new surface. Prolific valleys accompany all the mountains and hills, and mostly abound with the richest vegetation. A great portion of the north of Europe and Asia presents a spacious plain, fit for the cultivation of all that its population

try.

of Atlas on the south, and the Pyrenees, Alps, and Mount Hemus on the north, it passes into Asia. There, under the names of Cancasus, Taurus, and Elbourz, it is continued eastward to 700 of longitude. At this meridian it divides into two branches, one of which, the Himalaya range, takes a direction S. E., and terminates within 500 miles of the Bay of Bengal. The other, Mount Altai and Yablouny, passes northeastward to the Pacific Ocean at lat. 550. Its entire length is 8000 miles to 1400 E. long. Its breadth varies from 500 to 2000 miles.”—Enc, Brit. S. p. 156.

* “ This great Mediterranean band of mountains may be considered as the spine of the ancient continent. It determines the direction and elevation of the surface over nine tenths of Europe and Asia, one fifth of Africa, the course of all the great rivers in the old world, except the Nile and the Niger, and in some measure the climate of the different regions. It encloses within its extreme branches Spain, Barbary, Italy, Switzer, land, Southern Germany, Hungary, the Mediterranean Isles, Turkey in Europe and Asia, Persia, Bucharia, Thibet, and Chinese Tartary'; all of which countries consist either of table land, or of valleys placed between the different chains.

“ The surface of this mountainous zone occupies a space of 5,000,000 of square miles, and embraces Persia, Phænicia, Assyria, Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy, all the early seats of civilization.”-Ib. p. 157.

« 上一頁繼續 »