Слике страница
PDF
ePub

low, that not only single strata, but whole series may not have been deposited at all, in some localities? Thus, the old red sandstone from the head of Connecticut river, thence by the palisadoes of New York, and thence through New-Jersey and the Pasaic to the Delaware, covers, not the grauwacke, anthracite and transition limestone, but the granite and the gneiss, and is itself covered, almost throughout, by volcanic floetz trap. Are the tertiary basins of Paris, London, the Isle of Wight, and Gratz, in Carinthia, continuous? If then, the depositions of strata have not been simultaneous but successive, their causes have been so too ; and the inundations that held them in suspension, must have been successive also.

Of these tertiary deluges, the last was that series to which the earth owes its present aspect, and which seems to have taken place subsequent to the appearance of man upon the earth; because the oldest traditionary history of every country retains some faint remembrance of deluges in remote ages. The violent disruptions of the crust of the globe, and the change of the ocean botttom into modern dry land, the furious ravages which the surface of the earth every where exhibits, are referred by Dr. Ure and Mr. Silliman, to the deluge recorded in the book of Genesis, as having happened in the time of Noah. А deluge produced by a “vindictive" miracle, (to use Professor Silliman's word) the consequence of God's anger against mankind. We are loth to ascribe the passions of anger and revenge to the Supreme Being; but we must take the narration as it is given ; and if it be the dictate of an inspired writer, it is entitled to our belief. But if these gentlemen bave read their Bible accurately, we have not. This, however, is a question we shall not discuss here, though we do not intend it shall go undiscussed.

Previous to the last diluvium of the tertiary, there was a series of cataclysms in almost every part of the earth, submerging many species of animals and vegetables, extinguishing their races, and leaving that deposit, to which the name diluvium has been given; deluges, attended with more or less marks of great violence in every country subjected to their action. We have no objection to the common but erroneous notion of the Noachic deluge, except, Ist. the utter non-necessity of supposing it simultaneous and universal; 2ly. because it does not account for those marks of violence which are every where manifest as the consequences of the last series of inundations ; 3ly. because all anterior deluges, as we have shewn, were partial and local over the face of the globe; 4ly. because even if a body of water 15 cubits deep would do it, there is no necessity

for covering the Andes, the Himalaya, or the Australian mountains; and 5ly, because every relator would speak of this deluge as extending over the whole world, if it extended over the whole of his world—the bible account, as we understand it, would agree sufficiently with our own opinions. This series of deluges happened after the appearance of the human race upon the earth; and the early traditionary history of every nation, refers to a deluge as the earliest event that dwelt in the human memory. Whether the cradle of the family of nations was the Caucasian or Parapomisan chain of hills, is not now material to establish ; but, in all probability, some of the inhabitants of those regions escaped; for the earliest records of tradition and history, point to that high part of central Asia, as the source of population, at least to the Asiatic nations, and to the highly polished Sanscrit, as the earliest language known, and propagated from Babylon by the Thracians and Pelasgi, journeying from Babylonia to Asia Minor, thence to Greece and Latium, and, subsequently, modelling in a great degree the grammar and the words of the Teutonic races.* The Persian and Semitic languages differing from the former in their grammatical construction, as well as in the roots of their words, manifestly belong to different families of nations.

Nor are we much disposed to quarrel with the usual chronology of the Noachic deluge, assuming, for very good reasons, the Samaritan text, which the new testament quotations more particularly sanction. The history of human civilization does not indicate (as we think) a period of more than 5000 years as its origin; and this assignment will sufficiently agree with the succession of lives indicated in the book of Genesis.

Anterior to this period of general earthquakes and inundations, there is good reason to believe, with M. Bailly and others, that the northern regions of the earth enjoyed a warmer temperature than they do now: for the fossile remains of Siberia, animal and vegetable, indicate a tropical climate. There is no difficulty in accounting for this; for every earthquake and volcanic disturbance would produce a thickening of the crust of the earth by the oxydation of the metalloids or otherwise ; and all history as well as all geological theory, indicates not an increase, but a decrease of terrestrial and atmospheric temperature, slowly but surely advancing. As successive layers are

See on this subject, the very ingenious book of Lieutenant Colonel Vans KeoBedy, of the Bombay establishment; to us, the most satisfactory inquiry yet insti. tuted. 4to. London. M. Erro's derivation of the Greek from the Basque, we have not yet seen. VOL. VI.-N0. 12.

38

added to the crust of the earth, the internal temperature will be more slowly conducted through that crust to the surface. The accumulation of facts in Cordier's late paper, are in full confirmation of this conclusion.

Such, then, are our notions of the early history of the earth's surface, and the causes that have operated in producing present appearances.

Of these causes we have assumed but one, viz. volcanic action, and its consequences the upheavings of strata, deluges, and disruptions from below. This has been assumed, Ist, because it is of itself sufficient to account for all the phenomena ; and 2ly, because we know to a certainty that this cause has operated repeatedly in former times, producing the same effects, and does yet produce them under modern eyesight. Our assumption is not gratuitous, but a known and indisputable fact.

Io considering the deluges as having been so numerous, we have no doubt of the general truth of our position, inasmuch as all the strata after the primitive, (the volcanic series, that is, the granite poured upward from below, the dykes, and the floetz trap excepted) have been the deposited débris of the rocks disintegrated and suspended during the particular convulsion that gave birth to the stratum; every stratum differing, in mineralogical composition, and in the organic remains imbedded in it, from the stratum below and the stratum above it, is owing to a separate inundation; and whenever the imbedded fossils are the same in one stratuin in England, for instance, as they are in another in France, or in Germany, or in the United States, the strata so containing similar characterizing fossils, have been deposited under the same laws of deposition, and at one and the same geological period of time; and this, even though

he mineralogical character of the stratum should not be, as it generally is, however, similar in each region.

As to Mr. Brande's work, it is a tolerably good compilation, and the last edition may serve as an elementary work. Dr. Ure's book contains so many irrelevant theories, and is, throughout, so needlessly and so ultra-theological, that it seems to be written, not so much to furnish geological information, as to serve as a text book to gentlemen who are content to read their bibles superficially. Dr. Ure's book, moreover, bears every mark of being the closet compilation of a man who has never travelled, or observed existing geological anomalies with his own eyes.

We have said before, and we repeat it, Mr. Bakewell's book is, upon the whole, the best and safest elementary work on geology now extant, incomplete as it is ; but if it does not lead

us every where, it seldom misleads us. Professor Silliman did well to republish this plain, unpretending volume.

We approach now Professor Silliman's additions to that work, comprising the views of geology he thinks it proper and expedient to present to his students at New-Haven. We have already spoken in terms of deserved approbation of the mineralogical school at New Haven, conducted with increasing raputation by this able and very useful man. If we cannot speak in the same terms of commendation of his geological lectures, we shall assign our reasons of dissent, in language plain and fearless, but with all the respect due to the character of the distinguished gentleman from whom we differ.

Geological research clearly proves, that the earth was gradually redeemed from the universal and long continued dominion of water under which it lay at its first creation." p. 40.

There is not a geological fact that ever has been, or can be produced, in support of this wild and unauthorized supposition.

“ The geological evidence that supports the (Mosaic) history of the flood, is most abundant, and altogether satisfactory.” p. 50.

“ The deluge of Noah was an exterminating, vindictive (p. 60) and punitive infliction; sudden in its occurrence, and violent in its effects. It rose 726 feet in 24 hours." p. 73.

We who read our Bibles, and accept of the statements as there made, are not so bold as Professor Silliman, who ventures to substitute his own statements for those of the Bible. The statement made in the Scripture is, that the rise of the waters was gradual and gentle, quietly “bearing up the ark;" not violent enough to strip an olive tree of its leaves, and "fifteen cubits was the depth of the flood.” Are we to adopt the Professor's gratuitous suppositions, or are we to accept the statements of the Bible itself?

Whatever those statements are, we have no right to detract from, diminish, add to, or alter them. There is one and the same evidence for every part of the statement, and it must be taken altogether as it is, or rejected altogether.

" Many revolutions, more or less extensive, the result of earthquakes, volcanos, tempests, and even deluges, partial or general, and, perhaps, of other causes now unknown, may have preceded the formation of man." p. 65.

For may, read certainly; the facts in confirmation are utterly undeniable.

" There is decisive evidence that not farther back than a few thousand years, an universal deluge swept the surface of this globe, and produced certain alterations in its physiognomy." p. 68. .

Not a particle of evidence exists of any such universal, simultaneous deluge, but an ignorant perusal of the Scripture narrative, which implies no such thing. That many partial deluges, earthquakes and violent eruptions happened in various parts of the earth a few thousand years ago, is manifest enough; but that a body of water, covering the whole earth six miles in depth, happened a few thousand years ago, may be an article of belief with Professor Silliman, but we are at a loss for the scriptural, the geological, or any other evidence of it.

“I know not on what authority, physical or historical, any person is permitted to say that the elevation (of the Noachic deluge) was less than to cover all the high hills and mountains under the whole heaven. p. 95, note.

To this we reply, affirmantis est probare : it is not our business to prove a negative. And we reply, secondly, that the 20th verse of the 7th chapter of Genesis, says, “fifteen cubits upwards did the waters prevail.” If this be a mistake of the narrator, let Professor Silliman correct him ; non nostri est tantas componere lites. We take the Scripture account as we find it.

Iu p. 35, et seq. and p. 119, Professor Silliman manifestly inclines to the opinion that the primitive formations, were the chrystalline deposits of the substances held in chemical solution by the primeval waters that covered the globe, aided by heat and pressure! But, that the quartz, the felspar, the mica, the hornblende, the clay slate, the stcatite, the serpentine, and the primitive limestone, were all held in chemical solution in hot water originally, requires a supply of that solvent far more abundant than, from any known source of it, we would venture to turnish. As his hypothesis is perfectly gratuitous, and supported, so far as we know, by no analogy of facts, by no chemical experiment, we may leave it to its own merits. Professor Silliman seems to have a great dread of fire. In stating the modern opinion, that the interior of the globe is, probably, in igneous fusion, and Cordier's collection of facts in corroboration of it, he observes, p. 16, “but philosophers will be slow to admit such appalling conclusions from the premises hitherto presented.” Now, one of the premises hitherto presented, is the notorious fact, that no man ever saw a specimen of the interior of the globe, but what manifestly proceeded from a mass in igneous fusion.

If the innumerable streams of melted lava,

« ПретходнаНастави »