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Title: COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
Author: Humboldt, Alexander von, 1769-1859
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1" ***

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This material taken from pages i-ii, iv and v, and 3-12

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p i


[p ii is blank]

[p iii - not copied; pertains to reprint series]

p iv [portrait]

p v





Naturae vero rerum vis atque majestas in omnibus momentis fides caret, si
quis modo partes ejus ac non totam complectatur animo. -- Plin., 'Hist.
Nat.', lib. vii, c. 1.



Baltimore and London

[page vi and Introduction to the 1997 edition not copied]

p 1


[p 2 is blank]

p 3

I CAN not more appropriately introduce the Cosmos than by presenting a brief
sketch of the life of its illustrious author.*  While the name of Alexander
von Humboldt is familiar to every one, few, perhaps, are aware of the
peculiar circumstances of his scientific career and of the extent of his
labors in almost every department of physical knowledge.  He was born on the
14th of September, 1769, and is, therefore, now in his 80th year.  After
going through the ordinary course of education at Gottingen, and having made
a rapid tour through Holland, England, and France, he became a pupil of
Werner at the mining school of Freyburg, and in his 21st year published an
"Essay on the Basalts of the Rhine."  Though he soon became officially
connected with the mining corps, he was enabled to continue his excursions
in foreign countries, for, during the six or seven years succeeding the
publication of his first essay, he seems to have visited Austria,
Switzerland, Italy, and France.  His attention to mining did not, however,
prevent him from devoting his attention to other scientific pursuits, among
which botany and the then recent discovery of galvanism may be especially
noticed.  Botany, indeed, we know from his own authority, occupied him
almost exclusively for some years; but even at this time he was practicing
the use of those astronomical and physical instruments which he afterward
turned to so singularly excellent an account.

[footnote] *For the following remarks I am mainly indebted to the articles
on the Cosmos in the two leading Quarterly Reviews.

The political disturbances of the civilized world at the close
p 4
of the last century prevented our author from carrying out various plans of
foreign travel which he had contemplated, and detained him an unwilling
prisoner in Europe.  In the year 1799 he went to Spain, with the hope of
entering Africa from Cadiz, but the unexpected patronage which he received
at the court of Madrid led to a great alteration in his plans, and decided
him to proceed directly to the Spanish possessions in America, "and there
gratify the longings for foreign adventure, and the scenery of the tropics,
which had haunted him from boyhood, but had all along been turned in the
diametrically opposite direction of Asia."  After encountering various risks
of capture, he succeeded in reaching America, and from 1799 to 1804
prosecuted there extensive researches in the physical geography of the New
World, which has indelibly stamped his name in the undying records of

Excepting an excursion to Naples with Gay-Lussac and Von Buch in 1805 (the
year after his return from America), the succeeding twenty years of his life
were spent in Paris, and were almost exclusively employed in editing the
results of his American journey.  In order to bring these results before the
world in a manner worthy of their importance, he commenced a series of
gigantic publications in almost every branch of science on which he had
instituted observations.  In 1817, after twelve years of incessant toil,
four fifths were completed, and an ordinary copy of the part then in print
cost considerably more than one hundred pounds sterling.  Since that time
the publication has gone on more slowly, and even now after the lapse of
nearly half a century, it remains, and probably ever will remain, incomplete.

In the year 1828, when the greatest portion of his literary labor had been
accomplished, he undertook a scientific journey to Siberia, under the
special protection of the Russian government.  In this journey -- a journey
for which he had prepared himself by a course of study unparalleled in the
history of travel -- he was accompanied by two companions hardly less
distinguished than himself, Ehrenberg and Gustav Rose, and
p 5
the results obtained during their expedition are recorded by our author in
his 'Fragments Asiatiques', and in his 'Asie Centrale', and by Rose in his
'Reise nach dem Oural'.  If the 'Asie Centrale' had been his only work,
constituting, as it does, an epitome of all the knowledge acquired by
himself and by former travelers on the physical geography of Northern and
Central Asia, that work alone would have sufficed to form a reputation of
the highest order.

I proceed to offer a few remarks on the work of which I now present a new
translation to the English public, a work intended by its author "to embrace
a summary of physical knowledge, as connected with a delineation of the
material universe."

The idea of such a physical description of the universe had, it appears,
been present to his mind from a very early epoch.  It was a work which he
felt he must accomplish, and he devoted almost a lifetime to the
accumulation of materials for it.  For almost half a century it had occupied
his thoughts; and at length, in the evening of life, he felt himself rich
enough in the accumulation of thought, travel, reading, and experimental
research, to reduce into form and reality the undefined vision that has so
long floated before him.  The work, when completed, will form three volumes.
 The 'first' volume comprises a sketch of all that is at present known of
the physical phenomena of the universe; the 'second' comprehends two
distinct parts, the first of which treats of the incitements to the study of
nature, afforded in descriptive poetry, landscape painting, and the
cultivation of exotic plants; while the second and larger part enters into
the consideration of the different epochs in the progress of discovery and
of the corresponding stages of advance in human civilization.  The 'third'
volume, the publication of which, as M. Humboldt himself informs me in a
letter addressed to my learned friend and publisher, Mr. H. G. Bohn, "has
been somewhat delayed, owing to the present state of public affairs, will
comprise the special and scientific development of the great Picture of
p 6
Each of the three parts of the 'Cosmos' is therefore, to a certain extent,
distinct in its object, and may be considered complete in itself.  We can
not better terminate this brief notice than in the words of one of the most
eminent philosophers of our own country, that, "should the conclusion
correspond (as we doubt not) with these beginnings, a work will have been
accomplished every way worthy of the author's fame, and a crowning laurel
added to that wreath with which Europe will always delight to surround the
name of Alexander von Humboldt."

In venturing to appear before the English public as the interpreter of "the
great work of our age,"* I have been encouraged by the assistance of many
kind literary and scientific friends, and I gladly avail myself of this
opportunity of expressing my deep obligations to Mr. Brooke, Dr. Day,
Professor Edward Forbes, Mr. Hind, Mr. Glaisher, Dr. Percy, and Mr. Ronalds,
for the valuable aid they  have afforded me.

[footnote] *The expression applied to the Cosmos by the learned Bunsen, in
his late Report on Ethnology, in the 'Report of the British Association for'
1847, p. 265.

It would be scarcely right to conclude these remarks without a reference to
the translations that have preceded mine.  The translation executed by Mrs.
Sabine is singularly accurate and elegant.  The other translation is
remarkable for the opposite qualities, and may therefore be passed over in
silence.  The present volumes differ from those of Mrs. Sabine in having all
the foreign measures converted into corresponding English terms, in being
published at considerably less than one third of the price, and in being a
translation of the entire work, for I have not conceived myself justified in
omitting passages, sometimes amounting to pages, simply because they might
be deemed slightly obnoxious to our national prejudices.

p 7

In the late evening of an active life I offer to the German public a work,
whose undefined image has floated before my mind for almost half a century.
I have frequently looked upon its completion as impracticable, but as often
as I have been disposed to relinquish the undertaking, I have again --
although perhaps imprudently -- resumed the task.  This work I now present
to my contemporaries with a diffidence inspired by a just mistrust of my own
powers, while I would willingly forget that writings long expected are
usually received with less indulgence.

Although the outward relations of life, and an irresistible impulse toward
knowledge of various kinds, have led me to occupy myself for many years --
and apparently exclusively -- with separate branches of science, as, for
instance, with descriptive botany, geognosy, chemistry, astronomical
determinations of position, and terrestrial magnetism, in order that I might
the better prepare myself for the extensive travels in which I was desirous
of engaging, the actual object of my studies has nevertheless been of a
higher character.  The principal impulse by which I was directed was the
earnest endeavor to comprehend the phenomena of physical objects in their
general connection, and to represent nature as one great whole, moved and
animated by internal forces.  My intercourse with highly-gifted men early
led me to discover that, without an earnest striving to attain to a
knowledge of special branches of study, all attempts to give a grand and
general view of the universe would be nothing more than a vain illusion.
These special departments in the great domain of natural
p 8
science are, moreover, capable of being reciprocally fructified by means of
the appropriative forces by which they are endowed.  Descriptive botany, no
longer confined to the narrow circle of the determination of genera and
species, leads the observer who traverses distant lands and lofty mountains
to the study of the geographical distribution of plants of the earth's
surface, according to distance from the equator and vertical elevation above
the sea.  It is further necessary to investigate the laws which regulate the
differences of temperature and climate, and the meteorological processes of
the atmosphere, before we can hope to explain the involved causes of
vegetable distribution; and it is thus that the observer who earnestly
pursues the path of knowledge is led from one class of phenomena to another,
by means of the mutual dependence and connection existing between them.

I have enjoyed an advantage which few scientific travelers have shared to an
equal extent, viz., that of having seen not only littoral districts, such as
are alone visited by the majority of those who take part in voyages of
circumnavigation, but also those portions of the interior of two vast
continents which present the most striking contrasts manifested in the
Alpine tropical landscapes of South America, and the dreary wastes of the
steppes in Northern Asia.  Travels, undertaken in districts such as these,
could not fail to encourage the natural tendency of my mind toward a
generalization of views, and to encourage me to attempt, in a special work,
to treat of the knowledge which we at present possess, regarding the
sidereal and terrestrial phenomena of the Cosmos in their empirical
relations.  The hitherto undefined idea of a physical geography has thus, by
an extended and perhaps too boldly imagined a plan, been comprehended under
the idea of a physical description of the universe, embracing all created
things in the regions of space and in the earth.

The very abundance of the materials which are presented to the mind for
arrangement and definition, necessarily impart no inconsiderable
difficulties in the choice of the form under
p 9
which such a work must be presented, if it would aspire to the honor of
being regarded as a literary composition.  Descriptions of nature ought not
to be deficient in a tone of life-like truthfulness, while the mere
enumeration of a series of general results is productive of a no less
wearying impression than the elaborate accumulation of the individual data
of observation.  I scarcely venture to hope that I have succeeded in
satisfying these various requirements of composition, or that I have myself
avoided the shoals and breakers which I have known how to indicate to
others.  My faint hope of success rests upon the special indulgence which
the German public have bestowed upon a small work bearing the title of
'Ansichten der Natur', which I published soon after my return from Mexico.
This work treats, under general points of view, of separate branches of
physical geography (such as the forms of vegetation, grassy plains, and
deserts).  The effect produced by this small volume has doubtlessly been
more powerfully manifested in the influence it has exercised on the
sensitive minds of the young, whose imaginative faculties are so strongly
manifested, than by means of any thing which it could itself impart.  In the
work on the Cosmos on which I am now engaged, I have endeavored to show, as
in that entitled 'Ansichten der Natur', that a certain degree of scientific
completeness in the treatment of individual facts is not wholly incompatible
with a picturesque animation of style.
Since public lectures seemed to me to present an easy and efficient means of
testing the more or less successful manner of connecting together the
detached branches of any one science, I undertook, for many months
consecutively, first in the French language, at Paris, and afterward in my
own native German, at Berlin (almost simultaneously at two different places
of assembly), to deliver a course of lectures on the physical description of
the universe, according to my conception of the science.  My lectures were
given extemporaneously, both in French and German, and without the aid of
written notes, nor have I, in any way, made use, in the present work,
p 10
of those portions of my discourses which have been preserved by the industry
of certain attentive auditors.  With the exception of the first forty pages,
the whole of the present work was written, for the first time, in the years
1843 and 1844.

A character of unity, freshness, and animation must, I think, be derived
from an association with some definite epoch, where the object of the writer
is to delineate the present condition of knowledge and opinions.  Since the
additions constantly made to the latter give rise to fundamental changes in
pre-existing views, my lectures and the Cosmos have nothing in common beyond
the succession in which the various facts are treated.  The first portion of
my work contains introductory considerations regarding the diversity in the
degrees of enjoyment to be derived from nature, and the knowledge of the
laws by which the universe is governed; it also considers the limitation and
scientific mode of treating a physical description of the universe, and
gives a general picture of nature which contains a view of all the phenomena
comprised in the Cosmos.

This general picture of nature, which embraces within its wide scope the
remotest nebulous spots, and the revolving double stars in the regions of
space, no less than the telluric phenomena included under the department of
the geography of organic forms (such as plants, animals, and races of men),
comprises all that I deem most specially important with regard to the
connection existing between generalities and specialities, while it moreover
exemplifies, by the form and style of the composition, the mode of treatment
pursued in the selection of the results obtained from experimental
knowledge.  The two succeeding volumes will contain a consideration of the
particular means of incitement toward the study of nature (consisting in
animated delineations, landscape painting, and the arrangement and
cultivation of exotic vegetable forms), of the history of the contemplation
of the universe, or the gradual development of the reciprocal action of
natural forces constituting one natural whole; and lastly, of the special
p 11
branches of the several departments of science, whose mutual connection is
indicated in the beginning of the work.  Wherever it has been possible to do
so, I have adduced the authorities from whence I derived my facts, with a
view of affording testimony both to the accuracy of my statements and to the
value of the observations to which reference was made.  In those instances
where I have quoted from my own writings (the facts contained in which
being, from their very nature, scattered through different portions of my
works), I have always referred to the original editions, owing to the
importance of accuracy with regard to numerical relations, and to my own
distrust of the care and correctness of translators.  In the few cases where
I have extracted short passages from the works of my friends, I have
indicated them by marks of quotation; and, in imitation of the practice of
the ancients, I have invariably preferred the repetition of the same words
to any arbitrary substitution of my own paraphrases.  The much-contested
question of priority of claim to a first discovery, which it is so dangerous
to treat of in a work of this uncontroversial kind, has rarely been touched
upon.  Where I have occasionally referred to classical antiquity, and to
that happy period of transition which has rendered the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries so celebrated, owing to the great geographical
discoveries by which the age was characterized, I have been simply led to
adopt this mode of treatment, from the desire we experience from time to
time, when considering the general views of nature, to escape from the
circle of more strictly dogmatical modern opinions, and enter the free and
fanciful domain of earlier presentiments.

It has frequently been regarded as a subject of discouraging consideration,
that while purely literary products of intellectual activity are rooted in
the depths of feeling, and interwoven with the creative force of
imagination, all works treating of empirical knowledge, and of the
connection of natural phenomena and physical laws, are subject to the most
marked modifications of form in the lapse of short periods of time, both
p 12
by the improvement in the instruments used, and by the consequent expansion
of the field of view opened to rational observation, and that those
scientific works which have, to use a common expression, become 'antiquated'
by the acquisition of new funds of knowledge, are thus continually being
consigned to oblivion as unreadable.  However discouraging such a prospect
must be, no one who is animated by a genuine love of nature, and by a sense
of the dignity attached to its study, can view with regret any thing which
promises future additions and a greater degree of perfection to general
knowledge.  Many important branches of knowledge have been based upon a
solid foundation which will not easily be shaken, both as regards the
phenomena in the regions of space and on the earth; while there are other
portions of science in which general views will undoubtedly take the place
of merely special; where new forces will be discovered and new substances
will be made known, and where those which are now considered as simple will
be decomposed.  I would, therefore, venture to hope that an attempt to
delineate nature in all its vivid animation and exalted grandeur, and to
trace the 'stable' amid the vacillating, ever-recurring alternation of
physical metamorphoses, will not be wholly disregarded even at a future age.
'Potsdam, Nov.', 1844.

This material taken from pages 13-22
NB - The page numbers will be properly aligned in Courier 12 font.

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p 13


The Translator's Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
The Author's Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

The Results of the Study of Physical Phenomena . . . . . . . . . . 23
The different Epochs of the Contemplation of the external World . .24
The different Degrees of Enjoyment presented by the Contemplation
     of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Instances of this Species of Enjoyment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Means by which it is induced . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
The Elevations and climatic Relations of many of the most
     celebrated Mountains in the World, considered with
     Reference to the Effect produced on the Mind of the
     Observer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27-33
The Impressions awakened by the Aspect of tropical Regions . . . .  34
The more accurate Knowledge of the Physical Forces of the
     Universe, acquired by the Inhabitants of a small Section
     of the temperate Zone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
The earliest Dawn of the Science of the Cosmos . . . . . . . . . .  36
The Difficulties that opposed the Progress of Inquiry . . . . . . . 37
Consideration of the Effect produced on the Mind by the
     Observation of Nature, and the Fear entertained by some of
     its injurious Influence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  40
Illustrations of the Manner in which many recent Discoveries have
     tended to Remove the groundless Fears entertained
     regarding the Agency of certain Natural Phenomena . . . . . .  43
The Amount of Scientific Knowledge required to enter on the
     Consideration of Physical Phenomena . . . . . . . . . . . . .  47
The Object held in View by the present Work . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
The Nature of the Study of the Cosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
The special Requirements of the present Age . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Limits and Method of Exposition of the Physical Description of the
     Universe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Considerations on the terms Physiology and Physics . . . . . . . . .58
Physical Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  59
Celestial Phenomena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
The Natural Philosophy of the Ancients directed more to Celestial
     than to Terrestrial Phenomena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
The able Treatises of Varenius and Carl Ritter . . . . . . . . .66, 67
Signification of the Word Cosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68-70
The Domain embraced by Cosmography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  71
Empiricism and Experiments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  74
The Process of Reason and Induction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77
p 14
Connection between the Material and the Ideal World . . . . . . . . 80
Delineation of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
Celestial Phenomena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Sidereal Systems  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
Planetary Systems  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90
Comets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  99
Aerolites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .111
Zodiacal Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Translatory Motion of the Solar System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
The Milky Way . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
Starless Openings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    152
Terrestrial Phenomena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .154
Geographical Distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .161
Figure of the Earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .163
Density of the Earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
Internal Heat of the Earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
Mean Temperature of the Earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .175
Terrestrial Magnetism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  177
Magnetism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .183
Aurora Borealis . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . .193
Geognostic Phenomena . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Earthquakes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
Gaseous Emanations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
Hot Springs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .221
Salses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  .224
Volcanoes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .227
Rocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .247
Palaeontology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .270
Geognostic Periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 286
Physical Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287
Meteorology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .311
Atmospheric Pressure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315
Climatology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .317
The Snow-line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .329
Hygrometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332
Atmospheric Electricity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .335
Organic Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339
Motion in Plants . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 341
Universality of Animal Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .342
Geography of Plants and Animals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .346
Floras of different Countries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .350
Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .352
Races . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .353
Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357
Conclusion of the Subject . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .359

p 15

Translator's Preface.
Author's Preface.

Vol I.


Introduction. -- Reflections on the different Degrees of Enjoyment presented
to us by the Aspect of Nature and the scientific Exposition of the Laws of
the Universe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. .  .Page 23-78

Insight into the connection of phenomena as the aim of all natural
investigation.  Nature presents itself to meditative contemplation as a
unity in diversity.  Differences in the grades of enjoyment yielded by
nature.  Effect of contact with free nature; enjoyment derived from nature
independently of a knowledge of the action of natural forces, or of the
physiognomy and configuration of the surface, or of the character of
vegetation.  Reminiscences of the woody valleys of the Cordilleras and of
the Peak of Teneriffe.  Advantages of the mountainous region near the
equator, where the multiplicity of natural impressions attains its maximum
within the most circumscribed limits, and where it is permitted to man
simultaneously to behold all the stars of the firmament and all the forms of
vegetation -- p. 23-33.

Tendency toward the investigation of the causes of physical phenomena.
Erroneous views of the character of natural forces arising from an imperfect
mode of observation or of induction.  The crude accumulation of physical
dogmas transmitted from one country to another.  Their diffusion among the
higher classes.
Scientific physics are associated with another and a deep-rooted system of
untried and misunderstood experimental positions.  Investigation of natural
laws.  Apprehension that nature may lose a portion of its secret charm by an
inquiry into the internal character of its forces, and that the enjoyment of
nature must necessarily be weakened by a study of its domain.  Advantages of
general views which impart an exalted and solemn character to natural
science.  The possibility of separating generalities from specialties.
Examples drawn from astronomy, recent optical discoveries, physical
geognosy, and the geography of plants.  Practicability of the study of
physical cosmography -- p. 33-54.  Misunderstood popular knowledge,
confounding cosmography with a mere encyclopedic enumeration of natural
sciences.  Necessity for a simultaneous regard for all branches of natural
science.  Influence of this study on national prosperity and the welfare of
nations; its more earnest and characteristic aim is an inner one, arising
from exalted mental activity.  Mode of treatment with regard to the object
and presentation; reciprocal connection existing between thought and speech
-- p. 54-56.

The notes to p. 28-33.  Comparative hypsometrical data of the elevations of
the Dhawalagiri, Jawahir, Chimborazo, Aetna (according to the measurement of
Sir John Herschel), the Swiss Alps, etc. -- p. 28.  Rarity
p 16
of palms and ferns in the Himalaya Mountains -- p. 29.  European vegetable
forms in the Indian Mountains -- p. 30.  Northern and southern limits of
perpetual snow on the Himalaya; influence of the elevated plateau of Thibet
-- p. 30-33.  Fishes of an earlier world -- p. 46.

Limits and Method of Exposition of the Physical Description of the Universe
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . .
Page 56-78

Subjects embraced by the study of the Cosmos or of physical cosmography.
Separation of other kindred studies -- p. 56-62.  The uranological portion
of the Cosmos is more simple than the telluric; the impossibility of
ascertaining the diversity of matter simplifies the study of the mechanism
of the heavens.  Origin of the word 'Cosmos', its signification of adornment
and order of the universe.  The 'existing' can not be absolutely separated
in our contemplation of nature from the 'future'.  History of the world and
description of the world -- p. 26-73.
Attempts to embrace the multiplicity of the phenomena of the Cosmos in the
unity of thought and under the form of a purely rational combination.
Natural philosophy, which preceded all exact observation in antiquity, is a
natural, but not unfrequently ill-directed, effort of reason.  Two forms of
abstraction rule in the whole mass of knowledge, viz.:  the 'quantitative',
relative determinations according to number and magnitude, and
'qualitative', material characters.  Means of submitting phenomena to
calculation.  Atoms, mechanical methods of construction.  Figurative
representations; mythical conception of imponderable matters, and the
peculiar vital forces in every organism.  That which is attained by
observation and experiment (calling forth phenomena) leads, by analogy and
induction, to a knowledge of 'empirical laws'; their gradual simplification
and generalization.  Arrangement of the facts discovered in accordance with
leading ideas.  The treasure of empirical contemplation, collected through
ages, is in no danger of experiencing any hostile agency from philosophy --
p. 73-78.

[In the notes appended to p. 66-70 are considerations of the general and
comparative geography of Varenius.  Philological investigation into the
meaning of the words [Greek word] and 'mundus'.]

Delineation of Nature.  General Review of Natural Phenomena. . . . . p.

Introduction -- p. 79-83.  A descriptive delineation of the world embraces
the whole universe ([Greek words]) in the celestial and terrestrial spheres.
 Form and course of the representation.  It begins with the laws of
gravitation, and with the region of the remotest nebulous spots and double
stars, and then, gradually descending through the starry stratum to which
our solar system belongs, it contemplates this terrestrial spheroid,
surrounded by air and water, and finally, proceeds to the consideration of
the form of our planet, its temperature and magnetic tension, and the
fullness of organic vitality which is unfolded on its surface under the
action of light.  Partial insight into the relative dependence existing
among all phenomena.  Amid all the mobile and unstable elements in space,
'mean numerical values' are the ultimate aim of investigation, being the
expression of the physical laws, or forces of the Cosmos.  The delineation
of the universe does not begin with the earth, from which a merely
subjective point of view might have led us to start, but rather with the
objects comprised in the regions of space.  Distribution of matter, which is
partially conglomerated into rotating
p 17
and circling heavenly bodies of very different density and magnitude, and
partly scattered as self-luminous vapor.  Review of the separate portions of
the picture of nature, for the purpose of explaining the reciprocal
connection of all phenomena.

I.  Celestial Portion of the Cosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page

II.  Terrestrial Portion of the Cosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p.

a.  Form of the earth, its mean density, quantity of heat, electro-magnetic
activity, process of light -- p. 154-202.

b.  Vital activity of the earth toward its external surface.  Reaction of
the interior of a planet on its crust and surface.  Subterranean noise
without waves of concussion.  Earthquakes dynamic phenomena -- p. 202-217.

c.  Material products which frequently accompany earthquakes.  Gaseous and
aqueous springs.  Salses and mud volcanoes.  Upheavals of the soil by
elastic forces -- p. 217-228.

d.  Fire-emitting mountains.  Craters of elevation.  Distribution of
volcanoes on the earth -- p. 228-247.

e.  Volcanic forces form new kinds of rock, and metamorphose those already
existing.  Geognostical classification of rocks into four groups.  Phenomena
of contact.  Fossiliferous strata; their vertical arrangement.  The faunas
and floras of an earlier world.  Distribution of masses of rock -- p.

f.  Geognostical epochs, which are indicated by the mineralogical difference
of rocks, have determined the distribution of solids and fluids into
continents and seas.  Individual configuration of solids into horizontal
expansion and vertical elevation.  Relations of area.  Articulation.
Probability of the continued elevation of the earth's crust in ridges -- p.

g.  Liquid and aeriform envelopes of the solid surface of our planet.
Distribution of heat in both.  The sea.  The tides.  Currents and their
effects -- p. 301-311.

h.  The atmosphere.  Its chemical composition.  Fluctuations in its density.
 Law of the direction of the winds.  Mean temperature.  Enumeration of the
causes which tend to raise and lower the temperature.  Continental and
insular climates.  East and west coasts.  Cause of the curvature of the
isothermal lines.  Limits of perpetual snow.  Quantity of vapor.
Electricity in the atmosphere.  Forms of the clouds -- p. 311-339.

i.  Separation of inorganic terrestrial life from the geography of vital
organisms; the geography of vegetables and animals.  Physical gradations of
the human race -- p. 339-359.

Special Analysis of the Delineation of Nature, including References to the
Subjects treated of in the Notes.

I.  Celestial Portion of the Cosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p.

The universe and all that it comprises -- multiform nebulous spots,
planetary vapor, and nebulous stars.  The picturesque charm of a southern
sky -- note, p. 85.  Conjectures on the position in space of the world.  Our
stellar masses.  A cosmical island.  Gauging stars.  Double stars revolving
round a common center.  Distance of the star 61 Cygni -- p. 88 and note.
Our solar system more complicated than was conjectured at the close of the
last century.  Primary planets with Neptune, Astrea, Hebe, Iris, and Flora,
now constitute 16; secondary planets 18; myriad of comets of which many of
the inner ones are inclosed
p 18
in the orbits of the planets; a rotating ring (the zodiacal light) and
meteoric stones, probably to be regarded as small cosmical bodies.  The
telescopic planets, Vesta, Juno, Ceres, Pallas, Astrea, Hebe, Iris and
Flora, with their frequently intersecting, strongly inclined, and more
eccentric orbits, constitute a central group of separation between the inner
planetary group (Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and Mars) and the outer group
(Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune).  Contrasts of these planetary
groups.  Relations of distance from one central body.  Differences of
absolute magnitude, density, period of revolution, eccentricity, and
inclination of the orbits.  The so-called law of the distances of the
planets from their central sun.  The planets which have the largest number
of moons -- p. 96 and note.  Relations in space, both absolute and relative,
of the secondary planets.  Largest and smallest of the moons.  Greatest
approximation to a primary planet.  Retrogressive movement of the moons of
Uranus.  Libration of the Earth's satellite -- p. 98 and note.  Comets; the
nucleus and tail; various forms and directions of the emanations in conoidal
envelopes, with more or less dense walls.  Several tails inclined toward the
sun; change of form of fixed stars by the nuclei of comets.  Eccentricity of
their orbits and periods of revolution.  Greatest distance and greatest
approximation of comets.  Passage through the system of Jupiter's
satellites.  Comets of short periods of revolution, more correctly termed
inner comets (Encke, Biela, Faye) -- p. 107 and note.  Revolving aerolites
(meteoric stones, fire-balls, falling stars).  Their planetary velocity,
magnitude, form, observed height.  Periodic return in streams; the November
stream and the stream of St. Lawrence.  Chemical composition of meteoric
asteroids -- p. 130 and notes.  Ring of zodiacal light.  Limitation of the
present solar atmosphere -- p. 141 and note.  Translatory motion of the
whole solar system -- p. 145-149 and note.  The existence of the law of
gravitation beyond our solar system.  The milky way of stars and its
conjectured breaking up.  Milky way of nebulous spots, at right angles with
that of the stars.  Periods of revolutions of bi-colored double stars.
Canopy of stars; openings in the stellar stratum.  Events in the universe;
the apparition of new stars.  Propagation of light, the aspect of the starry
vault of the heavens conveys to the mind an idea of inequality of time -- p.
149-154 and notes.

II.  Terrestrial Portion of the Cosmos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page

a.  Figure of the earth.  Density, quantity of heat, electro-magnetic
tension, and terrestrial light -- p. 154-202 and note.  Knowledge of the
compression and curvature of the earth's surface acquired by measurements of
degrees, pendulum oscillations, and certain inequalities in the moon's
orbit.  Mean density of the earth.  The earth's crust, and the depth to
which we are able to penetrate -- p. 159, 160, note.  Threefold movement of
the heat of the earth; its thermic condition.  Law of the increase of heat
with the increase of depth -- p. 160, 161 and note.  Magnetism electricity
in motion.  Periodical variation of terrestrial magnetism.  Disturbance of
the regular course of the magnetic needle.  Magnetic storms; extension of
their action.  Manifestations of magnetic force on the earth's surface
presented under three classes of phenomena, namely, lines of equal force
(isodynamic), equal inclination (isoclinic), and equal deviation (isogonic).
 Position of the magnetic pole.  Its probable connection with the poles of
cold.  Change of all the magnetic phenomena of the earth.  Erection of
magnetic observatories
p 19
since 1828; a far-extending net-work of magnetic stations -- p. 190 and
note.  Development of light at the magnetic poles; terrestrial light as a
consequence of the electro-magnetic activity of our planet.  Elevation of
polar light.  Whether magnetic storms are accompanied by noise.  Connection
of polar light (an electro-magnetic development of light) with the formation
of cirrus clouds.  Other examples of the generation of terrestrial light --
p. 202 and note.

b.  The vital activity of a planet manifested from within outward, the
principal source of geognostic phenomena.  Connection between merely dynamic
concussions or the upheaval of whole portions of the earth's crust,
accompanied by the effusion of matter, and the generation of gaseous and
liquid fluids, of hot mud and fused earths, which solidify into rocks.
Volcanic action, in the most general conception of the idea, is the reaction
of the interior of a planet on its outer surface.  Earthquakes.  Extent of
the circles of commotion and their gradual increase.  Whether there exists
any connection between the changes in terrestrial magnetism and the
processes of the atmosphere.  Noises, subterranean thunder without any
perceptible concussion.  The rocks which modify the propagation of the waves
of concussion.  Upheavals; eruption of water, hot steam, mud mofettes,
smoke, and flame during an earthquake -- p. 202-218 and notes.

c.  Closer consideration of material products as a consequence of internal
planetary activity.  There rise from the depths of the earth, through
fissures and cones of eruption, various gases, liquid fluids (pure or
acidulated), mud, and molten earths.  Volcanoes are a species of
intermittent spring.  Temperature of thermal springs; their constancy and
change.  Depth of the foci -- p. 219-224 and notes.  Salses, mud volcanoes.
While fire-emitting mountains, being sources of molten earths, produce
volcanic rocks, spring water forms, by precipitation, strata of limestone.
Continued generation of sedimentary rocks -- p. 228 and note.

d.  Diversity of volcanic elevations.  Dome-like closed trachytic mountains.
 Actual volcanoes which are formed from craters of elevations or among the
detritus of their original structure.  Permanent connection of the interior
of our earth with the atmosphere.  Relation to certain rocks.  Influence of
the relations of height on the frequency of the eruptions.  Heights of the
cone of cinders.  Characteristics of those volcanoes which rise above the
snow-line.  Columns of ashes and fire.  Volcanic storm during the eruption.
Mineral composition of lavas -- p. 236 and notes.  Distribution of volcanoes
on the earth's surface; central and linear volcanoes; insular and littoral
volcanoes.  Distance of volcanoes from the sea-coast.  Extinction of
volcanic forces -- p. 246 and notes.

e.  Relation of volcanoes to the character of rocks.  Volcanic forces form
new rocks, and metamorphose the more ancient ones.  The study of these
relations leads, by a double course, to the mineral portion of geognosy (the
study of the textures and of the position of the earth's strata), and to the
configuration of continents and insular groups elevated above the level of
the sea (the study of the geographical form and outlines of the different
parts of the earth.  Classification of rocks according to the scale of the
phenomena of structure and metamorphosis, which are still passing before our
eyes.  Rocks of eruption, sedimentary rocks, changed (metamorphosed) rocks,
conglomerates -- compound rocks are definite associations of
cryctognostically simple fossils.  There are four phases in the formative
condition; rocks of eruption,
p 20
endogenous (granite, sienite, porphyry, greenstone, hyperathene, rock,
euphotide, melaphyre, basalt, and phonolithe); sedimentary rocks (silurian
schist, coal measures, limestone, travertino, infusorial deposit);
metamorphosed rock, which contains also, together with the detritus mica
schist, and more ancient metamorphic masses.  Aggregate and sandstone
formations.  The phenomenon of contact explained by the artificial imitation
of minerals.  Effects of pressure and the various rapidity of cooling.
Origin of granular or saccharoidal marble, silicification of schist into
ribbon jasper.  Metamorphosis of calcareous marl into micaceous schist
through granite.  Conversion of dolomite and granite into argillaceous
schist, by contact with basaltic and doleritic rocks.  Filling up of the
veins from below.  Processes of cementation in agglomerate structures.
Friction conglomerates -- p. 269 and note.  Relative age of rocks,
chronometry of the earth's crust.  Fossiliferous strata.  Relative age of
organisms.  Simplicity of the first vital forms.  Dependence of
physiological gradations on the age of the formations.  Geognostic horizon,
whose careful investigation may yield certain data regarding the identity or
the relative age of formations, the periodic recurrence of certain strata,
their parallelism, or their total suppression.  Types of the sedimentary
structures considered in their most simple and general characters; silurian
and devonian formations (formerly known as rocks of transition); the lower
trias (mountain limestone, coal measures, together with 'todilegende' and
zechstein); the upper trias (butter sandstone, muschelkalk, and keuper);
Jura limestone (lias and oolite); freestone, lower and upper chalk, as the
last of the flotz strata, which begin with mountain limestone; tertiary
formations in three divisions, which are designated by granular limestone,
lignite, and south Apennine gravel -- p. 269-278.

The faunas and floras of an earlier world, and their relations to existing
organisms.  Colossal bones of antediluvian mammalia in the upper alluvium.
Vegetation of an earlier world; monuments of the history of its vegetation.
The points at which certain vegetable groups attain their maximum; cycadeae
in the keuper and lias, and coniferae in the butter sandstone.  Lignite and
coal measures (amber-tree).  Deposition of large masses of rock; doubts
regarding their origin -- p. 285 and note.

f.  The knowledge of geognostic epochs -- of the upheaval of mountain chains
and elevated plateaux, by which lands are both formed and destroyed, leads,
by an internal causal connection, to the distribution into solids and
fluids, and to the peculiarities in the natural configuration of the earth's
surface.  Existing areal relations of the solid to the fluid differ
considerably from those presented by the maps of the physical portion of a
more ancient geography.  Importance of the eruption of quartzose, porphyry
with reference to the then existing configuration of continental masses.
Individual conformation in horizontal extension (relations of articulation)
and in vertical elevation (hypsometrical views).  Influence of the relations
of the area of land and sea on the temperature, direction of the winds,
abundance or scarcity of organic products, and on all meteorological
processes collectively.  Direction of the major axes of continental masses.
Articulation and pyramidal termination toward the south.  Series of
peninsulas.  Valley-like formation of the Atlantic Ocean.  Forms which
frequently recur -- p. 285-293 and notes.  Ramifications and systems of
mountain chains, and the means of determining their relative ages.  Attempts
to determine the centre of gravity of the volume of the lands upheaved above
the level
p 21
of the sea.  The elevation of continents is still progressing slowly, and is
being compensated for at some definite points by a perceptible sinking.  All
geognostic phenomena indicate a periodical alteration of activity in the
interior of our planet.  Probability of new elevations of ridges -- p.
293-301 and notes.

g.  The solid surface of the earth has two envelopes, one liquid, and the
other aeriform.  Contrasts and analogies which these envelopes -- the sea
and the atmosphere -- present in their conditions of aggregation and
electricity, and in their relations of currents and temperature.  Depths of
the ocean and of the atmosphere, the shoals of which constitute our
highlands and mountain chains.  The degree of heat at the surface of the sea
in different latitudes and in the lower strata.  Tendency of the sea to
maintain the temperature of the surface in the strata nearest to the
atmosphere, in consequence of the mobility of its particles and the
alteration in its density.  Maximum of  the density of salt water.  Position
of the zones of the hottest water, and of those having the greatest saline
contents.  Thermic influence of the lower polar current and the counter
currents in the straits of the sea -- p. 302-304 and notes.  General level
of the sea, and permanent local disturbances of equilibrium; the periodic
disturbances manifested as tides.  Oceanic currents; the equatorial or
rotation current, the Atlantic warm Gulf Stream, and the further impulse
which it receives; the cold Peruvian stream in the eastern portion of the
Pacific Ocean of the southern zone.  Temperature of shoals.  The universal
diffusion of life in the ocean.  Influence of the small submarine sylvan
region at the bottom of beds of rooted algae, or on far-extending floating
layers of fucus -- p. 302-311 and notes.

h.  The gaseous envelope of our planet, the atmosphere.  Chemical
composition of the atmosphere, its transparency, its polarization, pressure,
temperature, humidity, and electric tension.  Relation of oxygen to
nitrogen; amount of carbonic acid; carbureted hydrogen; ammoniacal vapors.
Miamata.  Regular (horary) changes in the pressure of the atmosphere.  Mean
barometrical height at the level of the sea in different zones of the earth.
 Isobarometrical curves.  Barometrical windroses.  Law of rotation of the
winds, and its importance with reference to the knowledge of many
meteorological processes.  Land and sea winds, trade winds and monsoons --
p. 311-317.  Climatic distribution of heat in the atmosphere, as the effect
of the relative position of transparent and opaque masses (fluid and solid
superficial area), and of the hypsometrical configuration of continents.
Curvature of the isothermal lines in a horizontal and vertical direction, on
the earth's surface and in the superimposed strata of air.  Convexity and
concavity of the isothermal lines.  Mean heat of the year, seasons, months,
and days.  Enumeration of the causes which produce disturbances in the form
of isothermal lines, i.e., their deviation from the position of the
geographical parallels.  Isochimenal and isotheral lines are the lines of
equal winter and summer heat.  Causes which raise or lower the temperature.
Radiation of the earth's surface, according to its inclination, color,
density, dryness, and chemical composition.  The form of the cloud which
announces what is passing in the upper strata of the atmosphere is the image
of the strongly radiating ground projected on a hot summer sky.  Contrast
between an insular or littoral climate, such as is experienced by all
deeply-articulated continents, and the climate of the interior of large
tracts of land.  East and west coasts.  Difference between the southern and
northern hemispheres.  Thermal scales of
p 22
cultivated plants, going down from the vanilla, cacoa, and musaceae, by
citrous and olives, and to vines yielding potable wines.  The influence
which these scales exercise on the geographical distribution of cultivated
plants.  The favorable ripening and the immaturity of fruits are essentially
influenced by the difference in the action of direct or scattered light in a
clear sky or in one overcast with mist.  General summary of the causes which
yield a more genial climate to the greater portion of Europe considered as
the western peninsula of Asia -- p. 326.  Determination of the changes in
the mean annual and summer temperature, which correspond to one degree of
geographical latitude.  Equality of the mean temperature of a mountain
station, and of the polar distance of any point lying at the level of the
sea.  Decrease of temperature with the decrease in elevation.  Limits of
perpetual snow, and the fluctuations in these limits.  Causes of disturbance
in the regularity of the phenomenon.  Northern and southern chains of the
Himalaya; habitability of the elevated plateaux of Thibet -- p. 331.
Quantity of moisture in the atmosphere, according to the hours of the day,
the seasons of the year, degrees of latitude, and elevation.  Greatest
dryness of the atmosphere observed in Northern Asia, between the river
districts of the Irtysch and the Obi.  Dew, a consequence of radiation.
Quantity of rain -- p. 335.  Electricity of the atmosphere, and disturbance
of the electric tension.  Geographical distribution of storms.
Predettermination of atmospheric changes.  The most important climatic
disturbances can not be traced, at the place of observation, to any local
cause, but are rather the consequence of some occurrence by which the
equilibrium in the atmospheric currents has been destroyed at some
considerable distance -- p. 335-339.

i.  Physical geography is not limited to elementary inorganic terrestrial
life, but, elevated to a higher point of view, it embraces the sphere of
organic life, and the numerous gradations of its typical development.
Animal and vegetable life.  General diffusion of life in the sea and on the
land; microscopic vital forms discovered in the polar ice no less than in
the depths of the ocean within the tropics.  Extension imparted to the
horizon of life by Ehrenberg's discoveries.  Estimation of the mass (volume)
of animal and vegetable organisms -- p. 339-346.  Geography of plants and
animals.  Migrations of organisms in the ovum, or by means of organs capable
of spontaneous motion.  Spheres of distribution depending on climatic
relations.  Regions of vegetation, and classification of the genera of
animals.  Isolated and social living plants and animals.  The character of
flora and fauna is not determined so much by the predominance of separate
families, in certain parallels of latitude, as by the highly complicated
relations of the association of many families, and the relative numerical
value of their species.  The forms of natural families which increase or
decrease from the equator to the poles.  Investigations into the numerical
relation existing in different districts of the earth between each one of
the large families to the whole mass of phanerogamia -- p. 346-351.  The
human race considered according to its physical gradations, and the
geographical distribution of its simultaneously occurring types.  Races and
varieties.  All races of men are forms of one single species.  Unity of the
human race.  Languages considered as the intellectual creations of mankind,
or as portions of the history of mental activity, manifest a character of
nationality, although certain historical occurrences have been the means of
diffusing idioms of the same family of languages among nations of wholly
different descent -- p. 351-359.

In This material taken from pages 23 to 56

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p 23


In attempting, after a long absence from my native country, to develop the
physical phenomena of the globe, and the simultaneous action of the forces
that pervade the regions of space, I experience a two-fold cause of anxiety.
 The subject before me is so inexhaustible and so varied, that I fear either
to fall into the superficiality of the encyclopedist, or to weary the mind
of my reader by aphorisms consisting of mere generalities clothed in dry and
dogmatical forms.  Undue conciseness often checks the flow of expression,
while diffuseness is alike detrimental to a clear and precise exposition of
our ideas.  Nature is a free domain, and the profound conceptions and
enjoyments she awakens within us can only be vividly delineated by thought
clothed in exalted forms of speech, worthy of bearing witness to the majesty
and greatness of the creation.

In considering the study of physical phenomena, not merely in its bearings
on the material wants of life, but in its general influence on the
intellectual advancement of mankind, we find its noblest and most important
result to be a knowledge of the chain of connection, by which all natural
forces are linked together, and made mutually dependent upon each other; and
it is the perception of these relations that exalts our views and ennobles
our enjoyments.  Such a result can, however, only be reaped as the fruit of
observation and intellect, combined with the spirit of the age, in which are
reflected all the varied phases of thought.  He who can trace, through
by-gone times, the stream of our knowledge to its primitive source, will
learn from history how, for thousands of years, man has labored, amid the
ever-recurring changes of form, to recognize the invariability of natural
laws, and has thus, by the force of mind, gradually subdued a great portion
of the physical world to his dominion.  In interrogating the history of the
past, we trace the mysterious course of ideas yielding the first glimmering
perception of the same image of
p 24
a Cosmos, or harmoniously ordered whole, which, dimly shadowed forth to the
human mind in the primitive ages of the world, is now fully revealed to the
maturer intellect of mankind as the result of long and laborious observation.

Each of these epochs of the contemplation of the external world -- the
earliest dawn of thought and the advanced stage of civilization -- has its
own source of enjoyment.  In the former, this enjoyment, in accordance with
the simplicity of the primitive ages, flowed from an intuitive feeling of
the order that was proclaimed by the invariable and successive reappearance
of the heavenly bodies, and by the progressive development of organized
beings; while in the latter, this sense of enjoyment springs from a definite
knowledge of the phenomena of nature.  When man began to interrogate nature,
and, not content with observing, learned to evoke phenomena under definite
conditions; when once he sought to collect and record facts, in order that
the fruit of his labors might aid investigation after his own brief
existence had passed away, the 'philosophy of Nature' cast aside the vague
and poetic garb in which she had been enveloped from her origin, and, having
assumed a severer aspect, she now weighs the value of observations, and
substitutes induction and reasoning for conjecture and assumption.  The
dogmas of former ages survive now only in the superstitions of the people
and the prejudices of the ignorant, or are perpetuated in a few systems,
which, conscious of their weakness, shroud themselves in a vail of mystery.
We may also trace the same primitive intuitions in languages exuberant in
figurative expressions; and a few of the best chosen symbols engendered by
the happy inspiration of the earliest ages, having by degrees lost their
vagueness through a better mode of interpretation, are still preserved among
our scientific terms.

Nature considered 'rationally', that is to say, submitted to the process of
thought, is a unity in diversity of phenomena; a harmony blending together
all created things, however dissimilar in form and attributes; one great
whole ([Greek words]) animated by the breath of life.  The most important
result of a rational inquiry into nature is, therefore, to establish the
unity and harmony of this stupendous mass of force and matter, to determine
with impartial justice what is due to the discoveries of the past and to
those of the present, and to analyze the individual parts of natural
phenomena without succumbing beneath the weight of the whole.  Thus, and
thus alone, is it permitted to man, while mindful of the high destiny
p 25
of his race, to comprehend nature, to lift the vail that shrouds her
phenomena, and as it were, submit the results of observation to the test of
reason and of intellect.

In reflecting upon the different degrees of enjoyment presented to us in the
contemplation of nature, we find that the first place must be assigned to a
sensation, which is wholly independent of an intimate acquaintance with the
physical phenomena presented to our view, or of the peculiar character of
the region surrounding us.  In the uniform plain bounded only by a distant
horizon, where the lowly heather, the cistus, or waving grasses, deck the
soil; on the ocean shore, where the waves, softly rippling over the beach,
leave a track, green with the weeds of the sea; every where, the mind is
penetrated by the same sense of the grandeur and vast expanse of nature,
revealing to the soul, by a mysterious inspiration, the existence of laws
that regulate the forces of the universe.  Mere communion with nature, mere
contact with the free air, exercise a soothing yet strengthening influence
on the wearied spirit, calm the storm of passion, and soften the heart when
shaken by sorrow to its inmost depths.  Every where, in every region of the
globe, in every stage of intellectual culture, the same sources of enjoyment
are alike vouchsafed to man.  The earnest and solemn thoughts awakened by a
communion with nature intuitively arise from a presentiment of the order and
harmony pervading the whole universe, and from the contrast we draw between
the narrow limits of our own existence and the image of infinity revealed on
every side, whether we look upward to the starry vault of heaven, scan the
far-stretching plain before us, or seek to trace the dim horizon across the
vast expanse of ocean.

The contemplation of the individual characteristics of the landscape, and of
the conformation of the land in any definite region of the earth, gives rise
to a different source of enjoyment, awakening impressions that are more
vivid, better defined, and more congenial to certain phases of the mind,
than those of which we have already spoken.  At one time the heart is
stirred by a sense of the grandeur of the face of nature, by the strife of
the elements, or, as in Northern Asia by the aspect of the dreary barrenness
of the far-stretching steppes; at another time, softer emotions are excited
by the contemplation of rich harvests wrested by the hand of man from the
wild fertility of nature, or by the sight of human habitations raised beside
some wild and foaming torrent.  Here I regard less the degree of intensity
than the difference existing in the
p 26
various sensations that derive their charm and permanence from the peculiar
character of the scene.

If I might be allowed to abandon myself to the recollections of my own
distant travels, I would instance, among the most striking scenes of nature,
the calm sublimity of a tropical night, when the stars, not sparkling, as in
our northern skies, shed their soft and planetary light over the
gently-heaving ocean; or I would recall the deep valleys of the Cordilleras,
where the tall and slender palms pierce the leafy vail around them, and
waving on high their feathery and arrow-like branches for, as it were, "a
forest above a forest;"* or I would describe the summit of the Peak of
Teneriffe, when a horizontal layer of clouds, dazzling in whiteness, has
separated the cone of cinders from the plain below, and suddenly the
ascending current pierces the cloudy vail, so that the eye of the traveler
may range from the brink of the crater, along the vine-clad slopes of
Orotava, to the orange gardens and banana groves that skirt the shore.  In
scenes like these, it is not the peaceful charm uniformly spread over the
face of nature that moves the heart, but rather the peculiar physiognomy and
conformation of the land, the features of the landscape, the ever varying
outline of the clouds, and their blending with the horizon of the sea,
whether it lies spread before us like a smooth and shining mirror, or is
dimly seen through the morning mist.  All that the senses can but
imperfectly comprehend, all that is most awful in such romantic scenes of
nature, may become a source of enjoyment to man, by opening a wide field to
the creative powers of his imagination.  Impressions change with the varying
movements of the mind, and we are led by a happy illusion to believe that we
receive from the external world that with which we have ourselves invested

[footnote] *This expression is taken from a beautiful description of
tropical forest scenery in 'Paul and Virginia', by Bernardia de Saint Pierre.

When far from our native country, after a long voyage, we tread for the
first time the soil of a tropical land, we experience a certain feeling of
surprise and gratification in recognizing, in the rocks that surround us,
the same inclined schistose strata, and the same columnar basalt covered
with cellular amygdaloids, that we had left in Europe, and whose identity of
character, in latitudes so widely different, reminds us that the
solidification of the earth's crust is altogether independent of climatic
influences.  But these rocky masses of schist and of basalt are covered with
vegetation of a character with which we are unacquainted, and of a
physiognomy wholly
p 27
unknown to us; and it is then, amid the colossal and majestic forms of an
exotic flora, that we feel how wonderfully the flexibility of our nature
fits us to receive new impressions, linked together by a certain secret
analogy.  We so readily perceive the affinity existing among all the forms
of organic life, that although the sight of a vegetation similar to that of
our native country might at first be most welcome to the eye, as the sweet
familiar sounds of our mother tongue are to the ear, we nevertheless, by
degrees, and almost imperceptibly, become familiarized with a new home and a
new climate.  As a true citizen of the world, man every where habituates
himself to that which surrounds him; yet fearful, as it were, of breaking
the links of association that bind him to the home of his childhood, the
colonist applies to some few plants in a far-distant clime the names he had
been familiar with in his native land; and by the mysterious relations
existing among all types of organization, the forms of exotic vegetation
present themselves to his mind as nobler and more perfect developments of
those he had loved in earlier days.  Thus do the spontaneous impressions of
the untutored mind lead, like the laborious deductions of cultivated
intellect, to the same intimate persuasion, that one sole and indissoluble
chain binds together all nature.

It may seem a rash attempt to endeavor to separate, into its different
elements, the magic power exercised upon our minds by the physical world,
since the character of the landscape, and of every imposing scene in nature,
depends so materially upon the mutual relation of the ideas and sentiments
simultaneously excited in the mind of the observer.

The powerful effect exercised by nature springs, as it were, from the
connection and unity of the impressions and emotions produced; and we can
only trace their different sources by analyzing the individuality of objects
and the diversity of forces.

The richest and most varied elements for pursuing an analysis of this nature
present themselves to the eyes of the traveler in the scenery of Southern
Asia, in the Great Indian Archipelago, and more especially, too, in the New
Continent, where the summits of the lofty Cordilleras penetrate the confines
of the aerial ocean surrounding our globe, and where the same subterranean
forces that once raised these mountain chains still shake them to their
foundation and threaten their downfall.

Graphic delineations of nature, arranged according to systematic views, are
not only suited to please the imagination,
p 28
but may also, when properly considered, indicate the grades of the
impressions of which I have spoken, from the uniformity of the sea-shore, or
the barren steppes of Siberia, to the inexhaustible fertility of the torrid
zone.  If we were even to picture to ourselves Mount Pilatus placed on the
Schreckhorn,* or the Schneekoppe of Silesia on Mont Blanc, we should
p 29
not have attained to the height of that great Colossus of the Andes, the
Chimborazo, whose height is twice that of Mont Aetna; and we must pile the
Righi, or Mount Athos, on the summit of the Chimborazo, in order to form a
just estimate of the elevation of the Dhawalagiri, the highest point of the

[footnote] *These comparisons are only approximative.  The several
elevations above the level of the sea are, in accurate numbers, as follows:
The Schneekoppe or Riesenkoppe, in Silesia about 5270 feet, according to
Hallaschka.  The Righi, 5902 feet, taking the height of the Lake of Lucerne
at 1426 feet, according to Eschman.  (See 'Compte Rendu des Mesures
Trigonometriques en Suisse', 1840, p. 230.)  Mount Athos, 6775 feet,
according to Captain Gaultier; Mount Pilatus, 7546 feet; Mount Aetna, 10,871
feet, according to Captain Smyth; or 10,874 feet, according to the
barometrical measurement made by Sir John Herschel, and communicated to me
in writing in 1825, and 10,899 feet, according to angles of altitude taken
by Cacciatore at Palermo (calculated by assuming the terrestrial refraction
to be 0.076); the Schreckhorn, 12,383 feet; the Jungfrau, 13,720 feet,
according to Tralles; Mount Blanc, 15,775 feet, according to the different
measurements considered by Roger ('Bibl. Univ.', May, 1828, 0. 24-53),
15,733 feet, according to the measurements taken from Mount Columbier by
Carlini in 1821, and 15,748 feet, as measured by the Austrian engineers from
Trelod and the Glacier d'Ambin.

[footnote continued]
The actual height of the Swiss mountains fluctuates, according to Eschman's
observations, as much as 25 English feet, owing to the varying thickness of
the stratum of snow that covers the summits.  Chimborazo is, according to my
trigonometrical measurements, 21,421 feet (see Humboldt, 'Recueil d'Obs.
Astr.', tome i., p. 73), and Dhawalagiri, 28,074 feet.  As there is a
difference of 445 feet between the determinations of Blake and Webb, the
elevation assigned to the Dhawalagiri (or white mountain, from the Sanscrit
'dhawala', white, and 'giri', mountain) can not be received with the same
confidence as that of the Jawahir, 25,749 feet, since the latter rests on a
complete trigonomietrical measurement (see Herbert and Hodgson in the
'Asiat. Res.', vol. xiv., p. 189, and Suppl. to 'Encycl. Brit.', vol. iv.,
p. 643).  I have shown elsewhere ('Ann. des Sciences Naturelles', Mars,
1825) that the height of the Dhawalagiri (28,074 feet) depends on several
elements that have not been ascertained with certainty, as azimuths and
latitudes (Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 282).  It has been
believed, but without foundation, that in the Tartaric chain, north of
Thibet, opposite to the chain of Kuen-lun, there are several snowy summits,
whose elevation is about 30,000 English feet (almost twice that of Mont
Blanc), or, at any rate, 29,000 feet (see Captain Alexander Gerard's and
John Gerard's 'Journey to the Boorendo Pass', 1840, vol. i., p. 143 and
311).  Chimborazo is spoken of in the text only as 'one' of the highest
summits of the chain of the Andes; for in the year 1827, the learned and
highly-gifted traveler, Pentland, in his memorable expedition to Upper Peru
(Bolivia), measured the elevation of two mountains situated to the east of
Lake Titicaca, viz., the Sorata, 25,200 feet, and the Illimani, 24,000 feet,
both greatly exceeding the height of Chimborazo, which is only 21,421 feet,
and being nearly equal in elevation to the Jawahir, which is the highest
mountain in the Himalaya that has as yet been accurately measured.  Thus
Mont Blanc is 5646 feet below Chimborazo; Chimborazo, 3779 feet below the
Sorata; the Sorata, 549 feet below the Jawahir, and probably about 2880 feet
below the Dhawalagiri.  According to a new measurement of the Illimani, by
Pentland, in 1838, the elevation of this mountain is given at 23,868 feet,
varying only 133 feet from the measurement taken in 1827.  The elevations
have been given in this note with minute exactness, as erroneous numbers
have been introduced into many maps and tables recently published, owing to
incorrect reductions of the measurements.
[In the preceding note, taken from those appended to the Introduction in the
French translation, rewritten by Humboldt himself, the measurements are
given in meters, but these have been converted into English feet, for the
greater convenience of the general reader.] -- 'Tr.'

But although the mountains of India greatly surpass the Cordilleras of South
America by their astonishing elevation (which, after being long contested,
has at last been confirmed by accurate measurements), they can not, from
their geographical position, present the same inexhaustible variety of
phenomena by which the latter are characterized.  The impression produced by
the grander aspects of nature dies not depend exclusively on height.  The
chain of the Himalaya is placed far beyond the limits of the torrid zone,
and scarcely is a solitary palm-tree to be found in the beautiful valleys of
Kumaoun and Garhwal.*

[Footnote] *The absence of palms and tree-ferns on the temperate slopes of
the Himalaya is shown in Don's 'Flora Nepalensis', 1825, and in the
remarkable series of lithographs of Wallich's 'Flora Indica', whose
catalogue contains the enormous number of 7683 Himalaya species, almost all
phanerogamic plants, which have as yet been but imperfectly classified.  In
Nepaul (lat. 26 1/2 degrees to 27 1/4 degrees) there has hitherto been
observed only one species of palm, Chamaerops martiana, Wall. ('Plantae
Asiat.', lib. iii., p. 5,211), which is found at the height of 5250 English
feet above the level of the sea, in the shady valley of Bunipa.  The
magnificent tree-fern, Alsophila brunoniana, Wall. (of which a stem 48 feet
long has been in the possession of the British Museum since 1831), does not
grow in Nepaul, but is found on the mountains of Silhet, to the northwest of
Calcutta, in lat. 24 degrees 50 minutes.  The Nepaul fern, Paranema
cyathoides, Don, formerly known as Sphaeroptera barbata, Wall. ('Plantae
Asiat.', lib. i., p. 42, 48), is indeed, nearly related to Cyathea, a
species of which I have seen in the South American Missions of Caripe,
measuring 33 feet in height; this is not, however, properly speaking a tree.

On the southern slope of the ancient Paropamisus, in the latitudes of 28
degrees and 34 degrees, nature no longer displays the same abundance of
tree-ferns and arborescent grasses, heliconias and orchideous plants, which
in tropical
p 30
regions are to be found even on the highest plateaux of the mountains.  On
the slope of the Himalaya, under the shade of the Deodora and the
broad-leaved oak, peculiar to these Indian Alps, the rocks of granite and of
mica schist are covered with vegetable forms almost similar to those which
characterize Europe and Northern Asia.  The species are not identical, but
closely analogous in aspect and physiognomy, as, marsh parnassia, and the
prickly species of Ribes.*  The chain of the Himalaya is also wanting in the
imposing phenomena of volcanoes, which in the Andes and in the Indian
Archipelago often reveal to the inhabitants, under the most terrific forms,
the existence of the forces pervading the interior of our planet.

[footnote]  *Ribes nubicola, R. glaciale, R. grossularia.  The species which
compose the vegetation of the Himalaya are four pines, notwithstanding the
assertion of the ancients regarding Eastern Asia (Strabo, lib. 11, p. 510,
Cas.), twenty-five oaks, four birches, two chestnuts, seven maples, twelve
willows, fourteen roses, three species of strawberry, seven species of
Alpine roses ('rhododendra'), one of which attains a height of 20 feet, and
many other northern genera.  Large white apes, having black faces, inhabit
the wild chestnut-tree of Kashmir, which grows to a height of 100 feet, in
lat. 33 degrees (see Carl von Hugel's 'Kaschmir', 1840, 2d pt. 249).  Among
the Coniferae, we find the Pinus deodwara, or deodara (in Sanscrit,
'dewa-daru', the timber of the gods), which is nearly allied to Pinus
cedrus.  Near the limit of perpetual snow flourish the large and showy
flowers of the Gentiana venusta, G. Moorcroftiana, Swertia purpurescens, S.
speciosa, Parnassia armata, P. nubicola, Poenia Emode, Tulipa stellata; and
besides varieties of European genera peculiar to these Indian mountains,
true European species as Leontodon taraxacum, Prunella vulgaris, Galium
aparine, and Thlaspi arvense.  The heath mentioned by Saunders, in Turner's
'Travels', and which had been confounded with Calluna vulgaris, is an
Andromeda, a fact of the greatest importance in the geography of Asiatic
plants.  If I have made use, in this work, of the unphilosophical
expressions of European genera, 'European' special, 'growing wild in Asia',
etc., it has been in consequence of the old botanical language, which,
instead of the idea of a large dissemination, or, rather, of the coexistence
of organic productions, has dogmatically substituted the false hypothesis of
a migration, which, from predilection for Europe, is further assumed to have
been from west to east.

Moreover, on the southern declivity of the Himalaya, where the ascending
current deposits the exhalations rising from a vigorous Indian vegetation,
the region of perpetual snow begins at an elevation of 11,000 or 12,000 feet
above the level of the sea,* thus setting a limit to the development of
p 31
life in a zone that is nearly 3000 feet lower than that to which it attains
in the equinoctial region of the Cordilleras.

[footnote] *On the southern declivity of the Himalaya, the limit of
perpetual snow is 12,978 feet above the level of the sea; on the northern
declivity, or, rather, on the peaks which rise above the Thibet, or
Tartarian plateau, this limit is at 16,625 feet from 30 1/2 degrees to 32
degrees of latitude, while at the equator, in the Andes of Quito, it is
15,790 feet.  Such is the result I have deduced from the combination of
numerous data furnished by Webb, Gerard, Herbert, and Moorcroft.  (See my
two memoirs on the mountains of India, in 1816 and 1820, in the 'Ann. de
Chimie et de Physique', t. iii., p. 303; t. xiv., p. 6, 22, 50.)  The
greater elevation to which the limit of perpetual snow recedes on the
Tartarian declivity is owing to the radiation of heat from the neighboring
elevated plains, to the purity of the atmosphere, and to the infrequent
formation of snow in an air which is both very cold and very dry.
(Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 281-326.)  My opinion on the
difference of height of the snow-line on the two sides of the Himalaya has
the high authority of Colebrooke in its favor.  He wrote to me in June,
1824, as follows:  "I also find, from the data in my possession, that the
elevation of the line of perpetual snow is 13,000 feet.  On the southern
declivity, and at latitude 31 degrees, Webb's measurements give me 13,500
feet, consequently 500 feet more than the height deduced from Captain
Hodgson's observations.  Gerard's measurements fully confirm your opinion
that the line of snow is higher on the northern than on the southern side."
It was not until the present year (1840) that we obtained the complete and
collected journal of the brothers Gerard, published under the supervision of
Mr. Lloyd.  ('Narrative of a Journey from Cawnpoor to the Boorendo Pass, in
the Himalaya, by Captain Alexander Gerard and John Gerard, edited by George
Lloyd', vol. i., p. 292, 311, 320, 327 and 341.)  Many interesting details
regarding some localities may be found in the narrative of 'A Visit to the
Shatool, for the Purpose of determining the Line of Perpetual Snow on the
southern face of the Himalaya, in August', 1822.  Unfortunately, however,
these travelers always confound the elevation at which sporadic snow falls
with the maximum of the height that the snow-line attains on the Thibetian
plateau.  Captain Gerard distinguishes between the summits that rise in the
middle of the plateau, where he states the elevation of the snow-line to be
between 18,000 and 19,000 feet, and the northern slopes of the chain of the
Himalaya, which border on the defile of the Sutledge, and can radiate but
little heat, owing to the deep ravines with which they are intersected.  The
elevation of the village of Tangno is given at only 9300 feet, while that of
the plateau surrounding the sacred lake of Maqasa is 17,000 feet.  Captain
Gerard finds the snow-line 500 feet lower on the northern slopes, where the
chain of the Himalaya is broken through, than toward the southern
declivities facing Hindostan, and he there estimates the line of perpetual
snow at 15,000 feet.  The most striking differences are presented between
the vegetation on the Thibetian plateau and that characteristic of the
southern slopes of the Himalaya.  On the latter the cultivation of grain is
arrested at 9974 feet and even there the corn has often to be cut when the
blades are still green.  The extreme limit of forests of tall oaks and
deodars is 11,960 feet; that of dwarf birches, 12,983 feet.  On the plains,
Captain Gerard found pastures up to the height of 17,000 feet; the cereals
will grow at 14,100 feet, or even at 18,540 feet; birches with tall stems at
14,100 feet, and copse or brush wood applicable for fuel is found at an
elevation of upward of 17,000 feet, that is to say, 1280 feet and above the
lower limits of the snow-line at the equator, in the province of Quito.  It
is very desirable that the 'mean' elevation of the Thibetian plateau, which
I have estimated at only about 8200 feet between the Himalaya and the
Kuen-lun, and the difference in the height of the line of perpetual snow on
the southern and on the northern slopes of the Himalaya, should be again
investigated by travelers who are accustomed to judge of the general
conformation of the land.  Hitherto simple calculations have too often been
confounded with actual measurements, and the elevations of isolated summits
with that of the surrounding plateau.  (Compare Carl Zimmerman's excellent
Hypsometrical Remarks in his 'Geographischen Analyse der Karte von Inner
Asien', 1841, s. 98.)  Lord draws attention to the difference presented by
the two faces of the Himalaya and those of the Alpine chain of Hindoo-Coosh,
with respect to the limits of the snow-line.  "The latter chain," he says,
"has the table-land to the south, in consequence of which the snow-line is
higher on the southern side, contrary to what we find to be the case with
respect to the Himalaya, which is bounded on the south by sheltered plains,
as Hindoo-Coosh is on the north."  It must, however, be admitted that the
hypsometrical data on which these statements are based require a critical
revision with regard to several of their details; but still they suffice to
establish the main fact, that the remarkable configuration of the land in
Central Asia affords man all that is essential to the maintenance of life,
as habitation, food, and fuel, at an elevation above the level of the sea
which in almost all other parts of the globe is covered with perpetual ice.
We must except the very dry districts of Bolivia, where snow is so rarely
met with, and where Pentland (in 1838) fixed the snow-line at 15,667 feet,
between 16 degrees and 17 3/4 degrees south latitude.  The opinion that I
had advanced regarding the difference in the snow-line on the two faces of
the Himalaya has been most fully confirmed by the barometrical observations
of Victor Jacquemont, who fell an early sacrifice to his noble and unwearied
ardor.  (See his 'Correspondance pendant son Voyage dans l'Inde', 1828 'a'
1832, liv. 23, p. 290, 296, 299.)  "Perpetual snow," says Jacquemont,
"descends lower on the southern than on the northern slopes of the Himalaya,
and the limit constantly rises as we advance to the north of the chain
bordering on India.  On the Kionbrong, about 18,317 feet in elevation,
according to Captain Gerard, I was still considerably below the limit of
perpetual snow which I believe to be 19,690 feet in this part of Hindostan."
 (This estimate I consider much too high.)

[Footnote continues]  The same traveler says, "To whatever height we rise on
the southern declivity of the Himalaya, the climate retains the same
character, and the same division of the seasons as in the plains of India;
the summer solstice being every year marked by the same prevalence of rain
which continues to fall without intermission until the autumnal equinox.
But a new, a totally different climate begins at Kashmir, whose elevation I
estimate to be 5350 feet, nearly equal to that of the cities of Mexico and
Popayan" ('Correspond. de Jacquemont', t. ii., p. 58 et 74).  The warm and
humid air of the sea, as Leopold von Buch well observes, is carried by the
monsoons across the plains of India to the skirts of the Himalaya which
arrest its course, and hinder it from diverging to the Thibetian districts
of Ladak and Lassa.  Carl von Hugel estimates the elevation of the Valley of
Kashmir above the level of the sea at 5818 feet, and bases his observation
on the determination of the boiling point of water (see theil 11, s. 155,
and 'Journal of Geog. Soc.', vol. vi., p. 215).  In this valley, where the
atmosphere is scarcely ever agitated by storms, and in 34 degrees 7 minutes
lat., snow is found, several feet in thickness, from December to March.

p 32
But the countries bordering on the equator possess another advantage, to
which sufficient attention has not hitherto been
p 33
directed.  This portion of the surface of the globe affords in the smallest
space the greatest possible variety of impressions from the contemplation of
nature.  Among the colossal mountains of Cundinamarea, of Quito, and of
Peru, furrowed by deep ravines, man is enabled to contemplate alike all the
families of plants, and all the stars of the firmament.  There, at a single
glance, the eye surveys majestic palms, humid forests of bambusa, and the
varied species of Musaceae, while above these forms of tropical vegetation
appear oaks, medlars, the sweet-brier, and umbelliferous plants, as in our
European homes.  There as the traveler turns his eyes to the vault of
heaven, a single glance embraces the constellation of the Southern Cross,
the Magellanic clouds, and the guiding stars of the constellation of the
Bear, as they circle round the arctic pole.  There the depths of the earth
and the vaults of heaven display all the richness of their forms and the
variety of their phenomena.  There the different climates are ranged the one
above the other, stage by stage, like the vegetable zones, whose succession
they limit; and there the observer may readily trace the laws that regulate
the diminution of heat, as they stand indelibly inscribed on the rocky walls
and abrupt declivities of the Cordilleras.

Not to weary the reader with the details of the phenomena which I long since
endeavored graphically to represent,* I will here limit myself to the
consideration of a few of the general results whose combination constitutes
the 'physical delineation of the torrid zone.'  That which, in the vagueness
of our
p 34
impressions, loses all distinctness of form, like some distant mountain
shrouded from view by a vail of mist, is clearly revealed by the light of
mind, which, by its scrutiny into the causes of phenomena, learns to resolve
and analyze their different elements, assigning to each its individual
character.  Thus, in the sphere of natural investigation, as in poetry and
painting, the delineation of that which appeals most strongly to the
imagination, derives its collective interest from the vivid truthfulness
with which the individual features are portrayed.

[footnote]  *See, generally my 'Essai sur la Geographie des Plantes, et le
Tableau physique des Regions Equinoxiales', 1807, p. 80-88.  On the diurnal
and nocturnal variations of temperature, see Plate 9 of my 'Atlas Geogr. et
Phys. du Nouveau Continent'; and the Tables in my work, entitled 'De
distributione Geographica Plantarum, secundum coeli tempriem, et altitudinem
Montium', 1817, p. 90-116; the meteorological portion of my 'Asie Centrale',
t. iii., p. 212, 224; and, finally, the more recent and far more exact
exposition of the variations of temperature experienced in correspondence
with the increase of altitude on the chain of the Andes, given in
Boussingault's Memoir, 'Sur la profondeur a laquelle on trouve, sous les
Tropiques, la couche de Temperature Invariable.'  (Ann. de Chimie et de
Physique, 1833, t. liii., p. 225-247.)  This treatise contains the
elevations of 128 points, included between the level of the sea and the
declivity of the Antisana (17,900 feet), as well as the mean temperature of
the atmosphere, which varies with the height between 81 degrees and 35
degrees F.

The regions of the torrid zone not only give rise to the most powerful
impressions by their organic richness and their abundant fertility, but they
likewise afford the inestimable advantage of revealing to man, by the
uniformity of the variations of the atmosphere and the development of vital
forces, and by the contrasts of climate and vegetation exhibited at the
different elevations, the invariability of the laws that regulate the course
of the heavenly bodies, reflected, as it were, in terrestrial phenomena.
Let us dwell, then, for a few moments, on the proofs of this regularity,
which is such that it may be submitted to numerical calculation and

In the burning plains that rise but little above the level of the sea, reign
the families of the banana, the cycas, and the palm, of which the number of
species comprised in the flora of tropical regions has been so wonderfully
increased in the present day by the zeal of botanical travelers.  To these
groups succeed, in the Alpine valleys, and the humid and shaded clefts on
the slopes of the Cordilleras, the tree-ferns, whose thick cylindrical
trunks and delicate lace-like foliage stand out in bold relief against the
azure of the sky, and the cinchona, from which we derive the febrifuge bark.
 The medicinal strength of this bark is said to increase in proportion to
the degree of moisture imparted to the foliage of the tree by the light
mists which form the upper surface of the clouds resting over the plains.
Every where around, the confines of the forest are encircled by broad bands
of social plants, as the delicate aralia, the thibaudia, and the
myrtle-leaved Andromeda, while the Alpine rose, the magnificent befaria,
weaves a purple girdle round the spiry peaks.  In the cold regions of the
Paramos, which is continually exposed to the fury of storms and winds, we
find that flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants, bearing large and
variegated blossoms, have given place to monocotyledons, whose slender
spikes constitute the sole covering of the soil.  This is the zone of the
p 35
grasses, one vast savannah extending over the immense mountain plateaux, and
reflecting a yellow, almost golden tinge, to the slopes of the Cordilleras,
on which graze the lama and the cattle domesticated by the European
colonist.  Where the naked trachyte rock pierces the grassy turf, and
penetrates into those higher strata of air which are supposed to be less
charged with carbonic acid, we meet only with plants of an inferior
organization, as lichens, lecideas, and the brightly-colored, dust-like
lepraria, scattered around in circular patches.  Islets of fresh-fallen
snow, varying in form and extent, arrest the last feeble traces of vegetable
development, and to these succeeds the region of perpetual snow, whose
elevation undergoes but little change, and may be easily determined.  It is
but rarely that the elastic forces at work within the interior of our globe
have succeeded in breaking through the spiral domes, which, resplendent in
the brightness of eternal snow, crown the summits of the Cordilleras; and
even where these subterranean forces have opened a permanent communication
with the atmosphere, through circular craters or long fissures, they rarely
send forth currents of lava, but merely eject ignited scoriae, steam,
sulphureted hydrogen gas, and jets of carbonic acid.

In the earliest stages of civilization, the grand and imposing spectacle
presented to the minds of the inhabitants of the tropics could only awaken
feelings of astonishment and awe.  It might, perhaps, be supposed, as we
have already said, that the periodical return of the same phenomena, and the
uniform manner in which they arrange themselves in successive groups, would
have enabled man more readily to attain to a knowledge of the laws of
nature; but, as far as tradition and history guide us, we do not find that
any application was made of the advantages presented by these favored
regions.  Recent researches have rendered it very doubtful whether the
primitive seat of Hindoo civilization -- one of the most remarkable phases
in the progress of mankind -- was actually within the tropics.  Airyana
Vaedjo, the ancient cradle of the Zend, was situated to the northwest of the
upper Indus, and after the great religious schism, that is to say, after the
separation of the Iranians from the Brahminical institution, the language
that had previously been common to them and to the Hindoos assumed among the
latter people (together with the literature, habits, and conditions of
society) an individual form in the Magodha of Madhya Desa,* a district that
is bounded by the great chain
p 36
of Himalaya and the smaller range of the Vindhya.

[footnote] *See, on the Madhjadeca, properly so called, Lassen's excellent
work, entitled 'Indische Alterthumskunde', bd. i., s. 92.  The Chinese give
the name of Mo-kie-thi to the southern Bahar, situated to the south of the
Ganges (see 'Foe-Koue-Ki' by, 'Chy-Fa-Hian', 1836, p. 256).  Djambu-dwipa is
the name given to the whole of India; but the words also indicate one of the
four Buddhist continents.

In less ancient times the Sanscrit language and civilization advanced toward
the southeast, penetrating further within the torrid zone, as my brother
Wilhelm von Humboldt has shown in his great work on the Kavi and other
languages of analogous structure.*

[Footnote] *'Ueber die Kawi Sprache auf der Insel Java, nebst einer
Einleitung uber die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues und ihren
Ein fluss auf die geistige Entwickelung des Menschengrshlecht's' von Wilhelm
v. Humboldt, 1836, bd. i., s. 50519.

Notwithstanding the obstacles opposed in northern latitudes to the discovery
of the laws of nature, owing to the excessive complication of phenomena, and
the perpetual local variations and the distribution of organic forms, it is
to the inhabitants of a small section of the temperate zone that the rest of
mankind owe the earliest revelation of an intimate and rational acquaintance
with the forces governing the physical world.  Moreover, it is from the same
zone (which is apparently more favorable to the progress of reason, the
softening of manners, and the security of public liberty) that the germs of
civilization have been carried to the regions of the tropics, as much by the
migratory movement of races as by the establishment of colonies, differing
widely in their institution from those of the Phoenicians or Greeks.

In speaking of the influence exercised by the succession of phenomena on the
greater or lesser facility of recognizing the causes producing them, I have
touched upon that important stage of our communion with the external world,
when the enjoyment arising from a knowledge of the laws, and the mutual
connection of phenomena, associates itself with the charm of a simple
contemplation of nature.  That which for a long time remains merely an
object of vague intuition, by degrees acquires the certainty of positive
truth; and man, as an immortal poet has said, in our own tongue -- Amid
ceaseless change seeks the unchanging pole.*

[Footnote]  *This verse occurs in a poem of Schiller, entitled 'Der
Spaziergang' which first appeared in 1795, in the 'Horen.'

In order to trace to its primitive source the enjoyment derived from the
exercise of thought, it is sufficient to cast a rapid glance on the earliest
dawnings of the philosophy of nature, or of the ancient doctrine of the
'Cosmos.'  We find even
p 37
among the most savage nations (as my own travels enable me to attest) a
certain vague, terror-stricken sense of the all-powerful unity of natural
forces, and of the existence of an invisible, spiritual essence manifested
in these forces, whether in unfolding the flower and maturing the fruit of
the nutrient tree, in upheaving the soil of the forest, or in rending the
clouds with the might of the storm.  We may here trace the revelation of a
bond of union, linking together the visible world and that higher spiritual
world which escapes the grasp of the senses.  The two become unconsciously
blended together, developing in the mind of man, as a simple product of
ideal conception and independently of the aid of observation, the first germ
of a 'Philosophy of Nature.'

Among nations least advanced in civilization, the imagination revels in
strange and fantastic creations, and, by its predilection for symbols, alike
influences ideas and language.  Instead of examining, men are led to
conjecture, dogmatize, and interpret supposed facts that have never been
observed.  The inner world of thought and of feeling does not reflect the
image of the external world in its primitive purity.  That which in some
regions of the earth manifested itself as the rudiments of natural
philosophy, only to a small number of persons endowed with superior
intelligence, appears in other regions, and among entire races of men, to be
the result of mystic tendencies and instinctive intuitions.  An intimate
communion with nature, and the vivid and deep emotions thus awakened, are
likewise the source from which have sprung the first impulses toward the
worship and deification of the destroying and preserving forces of the
universe.  But by degrees, as man, after having passed through the different
gradations of intellectual development, arrives at the free enjoyment of the
regulating power of reflection, and learns by gradual progress, as it were,
to separate the world of ideas from that of sensations, he no longer rests
satisfied merely with a vague presentiment of the harmonious unity of
natural forces; thought begins to fulfill its noble mission; and
observation, aided by reason, endeavors to trace phenomena to the causes
from which they spring.

The history of science teaches us the difficulties that have opposed the
progress of this active spirit of inquiry.  Inaccurate and imperfect
observations have led, by false inductions, to the great number of physical
views that have been perpetuated as popular prejudices among all classes of
society.  Thus by the side of a solid and scientific knowledge of natural
phenomena there has been preserved a system of the pretended
p 38
results of observation, which is so much the more difficult to shake, as it
denies the validity of the facts by which it may be refuted.  This
empiricism, the melancholy heritage transmitted to us from former times,
invariably contends for the truth of its axioms with the arrogance of a
narrow-minded spirit.  Physical philosophy, on the other hand, when based
upon science, doubts because it seeks to investigate, distinguishes between
that which is certain and that which is merely probable, and strives
incessantly to perfect theory by extending the circle of observation.

This assemblage of imperfect dogmas, bequeathed by one age to another --
this physical philosophy, which is composed of popular prejudices -- is not
only injurious because it perpetuates error with the obstinacy engendered by
the evidence of ill-observed facts, but also because it hinders the mind
from attaining to higher views of nature.  Instead of seeking to discover
the 'mean'  or 'medium' point, around which oscillate, in apparent
independence of forces, all the phenomena of the external world, this system
delights in multiplying exceptions to the law, and seeks, amid phenomena and
in organic forms for something beyond the marvel of a regular succession,
and an internal and progressive development.  Ever inclined to believe that
the order of nature is disturbed, it refuses to recognize in the present any
analogy with the past, and guided by its own varying hypotheses, seeks at
hazard, either in the interior of the globe or in the regions of space, for
the cause of these pretended perturbations.

It is the special object of the present work to combat those errors which
derive their source from a vicious empiricism and from imperfect inductions.
 The higher enjoyments yielded by the study of nature depend upon the
correctness and the depth of our views, and upon the extent of the subjects
that may be comprehended in a single glance.  Increased mental cultivation
has given rise, in all classes of society, to an increased desire of
embellishing life by augmenting the mass of ideas, and by multiplying means
for their generalization; and this sentiment fully refutes the vague
accusations advanced against the age in which we live, showing that other
interests, besides the material wants of life, occupy the minds of men.

It is almost with reluctance that I am about to speak of a sentiment, which
appears to arise from narrow-minded views, or from a certain weak and morbid
sentimentality -- I allude to the 'fear' entertained by some persons, that
nature may by degrees lose a portion of the charm and magic of her power,
p 39
as we learn more and more how to unvail her secrets, comprehend the
mechanism of the movements of the heavenly bodies, and estimate numerically
the intensity of natural forces.  It is true that, properly speaking, the
forces of nature can only exercise a magical power over us as long as their
action is shrouded in mystery and darkness, and does not admit of being
classed among the conditions with which experience has made us acquainted.
The effect of such a power is, therefore, to excite the imagination, but
that, assuredly, is not the faculty of mind we would evoke to preside over
the laborious and elaborate observations by which we strive to attain to a
knowledge of the greatness and excellence of the laws of the universe.

The astronomer who, by the aid of the heliometer or a double-refracting
prism,* determines the diameter of planetary bodies; who measures patiently
year after year, the meridian altitude and the relative distances of stars,
or who seeks a telescopic comet in a group of nebulae, does not feel his
imagination more excited -- and this is the very guarantee of the precision
of his labors -- than the botanist who counts the divisions of the calyx, or
the number of stamens in a flower, or examines the connected or the separate
teeth of the peristoma surrounding the capsule of a moss.  Yet the
multiplied angular measurements on the one hand, and the detail of organic
relations on the other, alike aid in preparing the way for the attainment of
higher views of the laws of the universe.

[Footnote]  *Arago's ocular micrometer, a happy improvement upon Rochon's
prismatic or double-refraction micrometer.  See M. Mathieu's note in
Delambre's 'Histoire de l'Astronomie au dix-huitieme Siecle', 1827.

We must not confound the disposition of mind in the observer at the time he
is pursuing his labors, with the ulterior greatness of the views resulting
from investigation and the exercise of thought.  The physical philosopher
measures with admirable sagacity the waves of light of unequal length which
by interference mutually strengthen or destroy each other, even with respect
to their chemical actions; the astronomer, armed with powerful telescopes,
penetrates the regions of space, contemplates, on the extremest confines of
our solar system, the satellites of Uranus, or decomposes faintly sparkling
points into double stars differing in color.  The botanist discovers the
constancy of the gyratory motion of the chara in the greater number of
vegetable cells, and recognizes in the genera and natural families of plants
the intimate relations or organic forms.  The vault of heaven, studded with
p 40
and stars, and the rich vegetable mantle that covers the soil in the climate
of palms, can not surely fail to produce on the minds of these laborious
observers of nature an impression more imposing and more worthy of the
majesty of creation than on those who are unaccustomed to investigate the
great mutual relations of phenomena.  I can not, therefore, agree with Burke
when he says, "it is our ignorance of natural things that causes all our
admiration and chiefly excites our passions."

While the illusion of the senses would make the stars stationary in the
vault of heaven, Astronomy, by her aspiring labors, has assigned indefinite
bounds to space; and if she have set limits to the great nebula to which our
solar system belongs, it has only been to show us in those remote regions of
our optic powers, islet on islet of scattered nebulae.  The feeling of the
sublime, so far as it arises from a contemplation of the distance of the
stars, of their greatness and physical extent, reflects itself in the
feeling of the infinite, which belongs to another sphere of ideas included
in the domain of mind.  The solemn and imposing impressions excited by this
sentiment are owing to the combination of which we have spoken, and to the
analogous character of the enjoyment and emotions awakened in us, whether we
float on the surface of the great deep, stand on some lonely mountain summit
enveloped in the half-transparent vapory vail of the atmosphere, or by the
aid of powerful optical instruments scan the regions of space, and see the
remote nebulous mass resolve itself into worlds of stars.

The mere accumulation of unconnected observations of details, devoid of
generalization of ideas, may doubtlessly have tended to create and foster
the deeply-rooted prejudice, that the study of the exact sciences must
necessarily chill the feelings, and diminish the nobler enjoyments attendant
upon a contemplation of nature.  Those who still cherish such erroneous
views in the present age, and amid the progress of public opinion, and the
advancement of all branches of knowledge, fail in duly appreciating the
value of every enlargement of the sphere of intellect, and the importance of
the detail of isolated facts in leading us on to general results.  The fear
of sacrificing the free enjoyment of nature, under the influence of
scientific reasoning, is often associated with an apprehension that every
mind may not be capable of grasping the truths of the philosophy of nature.
It is certainly true that in the midst of the universal fluctuation of
phenomena and vital
p 41
forces -- in that inextricable net-work of organisms by turns developed and
destroyed -- each step that we make in the more intimate knowledge of nature
leads us to the entrance of new labyrinths; but the excitement produced by a
presentiment of discovery, the vague intuition of the mysteries to be
unfolded, and the multiplicity of the paths before us, all tend to stimulate
the exercise of thought in every stage of knowledge.  The discovery of each
separate law of nature leads to the establishment of some other more general
law, or at least indicates to the intelligent observer its existence.
Nature, as a celebrated physiologist* has defined it, and as the word was
interpreted by the Greeks and Romans, is "that which is ever growing and
ever unfolding itself in new forms."

[Footnote] *Carus, 'Von den Urtheilen des Knochen und Schalen Gerustes',
1828 6.

The series of organic types becomes extended or perfected in proportion as
hitherto unknown regions are laid open to our view by the labors and
researches of travelers and observers; as living organisms are compared with
those which have disappeared in the great revolutions of our planet; and as
microscopes are made more perfect, and are more extensively and efficiently
employed.  In the midst of this immense variety, and this periodic
transformation of animal and vegetable productions, we see incessantly
revealed the primordial mystery of all organic development, that same great
problem of 'metamorphosis' which Gšthe has treated with more than common
sagacity, and to the solution of which man is urged by his desire of
reducing vital forms to the smallest number of fundamental types.  As men
contemplate the riches of nature, and see the mass of observations
incessantly increasing before them, they become impressed with the intimate
conviction that the surface and the interior of the earth, the depths of the
ocean, and the regions of air will still, when thousands and thousands of
years have passed away, open to the scientific observer untrodden paths of
discovery.  The regret of Alexander can not be applied to the progress of
observation and intelligence.*

[footnote] * Plut., in 'Vita Alex. Magni', cap. 7

General considerations, whether they treat of the agglomeration of matter in
the heavenly bodies, or of the geographical distribution of terrestrial
organisms, are not only in themselves more attractive than special studies,
but they also afford superior advantages to those who are unable to devote
much time to occupations of this nature.  The different branches of the
study of natural history are only accessible in certain positions of social
life, and do not, at every season
p 42
and in every climate, present like enjoyments.  Thus, in the dreary regions
of the north, man is deprived for a long period of the year of the spectacle
presented by the activity of the productive forces of organic nature; and if
the mind be directed to one sole class of objects, the most animated
narratives of voyages in distant lands will fail to interest and attract us,
if they do not touch upon the subjects to which we are most partial.

As the history of nations -- if it were always able to trace events to their
true causes -- might solve the ever-recurring enigma of the oscillations
experienced by the alternately progressive and retrograde movement of human
society, so might also the physical description of the world, the science of
the 'Cosmos', if it were grasped by a powerful intellect, and based upon a
knowledge of all the results of discovery up to a given period, succeed in
dispelling a portion of the contradictions which, at first sight, appear to
arise from the complication or phenomena and the multitude of the
perturbations simultaneously manifested.

The knowledge of the laws of nature, whether we can trace them in the
alternate ebb and flow of the ocean, in the measured path of comets, or in
the mutual attractions of multiple stars, alike increases our sense of the
calm of nature, while the chimera so long cherished by the human mind in its
early and intuitive contemplations, the belief in a "discord of the
elements," seems gradually to vanish in proportion as science extends her
empire.  General views lead us habitually to consider each organism as a
part of the entire creation, and to recognize in the plant or the animal not
merely an isolated species, but a form linked in the chain of being to other
forms either living or extinct.  They aid us in comprehending the relations
that exist between the most recent discoveries and those which have prepared
the way for them.  Although fixed to one point of space, we eagerly grasp at
a knowledge of that which has been observed in different and far-distant
regions.  We delight in tracking the course of the bold mariner through seas
of polar ice, or in following him to the summit of that volcano of the
antarctic pole, whose fires may be seen from afar, even at mid-day.  It is
by an acquaintance with the results of distant voyages that we may learn to
comprehend some of the marvels of terrestrial magnetism, and be thus led to
appreciate the importance of the establishments of the numerous
observatories which in the present day cover both hemispheres, and are
designed to note
p 43
the simultaneous occurrence of perturbations, and the frequency and duration
of 'magnetic storms.'

Let me be permitted here to touch upon a few points connected with
discoveries, whose importance can only be estimated by those who have
devoted themselves to the study of the physical sciences generally.
Examples chosen from among the phenomena to which special attention has been
directed in recent times, will throw additional light upon the preceding
considerations.  Without a preliminary knowledge of the orbits of comets, we
should be unable duly to appreciate the importance attached to the discovery
of one of these bodies, whose elliptical orbit is included in the narrow
limits of our solar system, and which has revealed the existence of an
ethereal fluid, tending to diminish its centrifugal force and the period of
its revolution.

The superficial half-knowledge, so characteristic of the present day, which
leads to the introduction of vaguely comprehended scientific views into
general conversation, also gives rise, under various forms, to the
expression of alarm at the supposed danger of a collision between the
celestial bodies, or of disturbance in the climatic relations of our globe.
These phantoms of the imagination are so much the more injurious as they
derive their source from dogmatic pretensions to true science.  The history
of the atmosphere, and of the annual variations of its temperature, extends
already sufficiently far back to show the recurrence of slight disturbances
in the mean temperature of any given place, and thus affords sufficient
guarantee against the exaggerated apprehension of a general and progressive
deterioration of the climates of Europe.  Encke's comet, which is one of the
three 'interior comets', completes its course in 1200 days, but from the
form and position of its orbit it is as little dangerous to the earth as
Halley's great comet, whose revolution is not completed in less than
seventy-six years (and which appeared less brilliant in 1835 than it had
done in 1759):  the interior comet of Biela intersects the earth's orbit, it
is true, but it can only approach our globe when its proximity to the sun
coincides with our winter solstice.

The quantity of heat received by a planet, and whose unequal distribution
determines the meteorological variations of its atmosphere, depends alike
upon the light-engendering force of the sun; that is to say, upon the
condition of its gaseous coverings, and upon the relative position of the
planet and the central body.

p 44
There are variations, it is true, which, in obedience to the laws of
universal gravitation, affect the form of the earth's orbit and the
inclination of the ecliptic, that is, the angle which the axis of the earth
makes with the plane of its orbit; but these periodical variations are so
slow, and are restricted within such narrow limits, that their thermic
effects would hardly be appreciable by our instruments in many thousands of
years.  The astronomical causes of a refrigeration of our globe, and of the
diminution of moisture at its surface, and the nature and frequency of
certain epidemics -- phenomena which are often discussed in the present day
according to the benighted views of the Middle Ages -- ought to be
considered as beyond the range of our experience in physics and chemistry.

Physical astronomy presents us with other phenomena, which can not be fully
comprehended in all their vastness without a previous acquirement of general
views regarding the forces that govern the universe.  Such, for instance,
are the innumerable double stars, or rather suns, which revolve round one
common center of gravity, and thus reveal in distant worlds the existence of
the Newtonian law; the larger or smaller number of spots upon the sun, that
is to say, the openings formed through the luminous and opaque atmosphere
surrounding the solid nucleus; and the regular appearance about the 13th of
November and the 11th of August, of shooting stars, which probably form part
of a belt of asteroids, intersecting the earth's orbit, and moving with
planetary velocity.

Descending from the celestial regions to the earth, we would fain inquire
into the relations that exist between the oscillations of the pendulum in
air (the theory of which has been perfected by Bessel) and the density of
our planet; and how the pendulum, acting the part of a plummet, can, to a
certain extent, throw light upon the geological constitution of strata at
great depths?  By means of this instrument we are enabled to trace the
striking analogy which exists between the formation of the granular rocks
composing the lava currents ejected from active volcanoes, and those
endogenous masses of granite, porphyry, and serpentine, which, issuing from
the interior of the earth, have broken, as eruptive rocks, through the
secondary strata, and modified them by contact, either in rendering them
harder by the introduction of silex, or reducing them into dolomite, or,
finally, by inducing within them the formation of crystals of the most
varied composition.  The elevation of sporadic islands, of
p 45
domes of trachyte, and cones of basalt, by the elastic forces emanating from
the fluid interior of our globe, has led one of the first geologists of the
age, Leopold von Buch, to the theory of the elevation of continents, and of
mountain chains generally.  This action of subterranean forces in breaking
through and elevating strata of sedimentary rocks, of which the coast of
Chili, in consequence of a great earthquake, furnished a recent example,
leads to the assumption that the pelagic shells found by M. Bonpland and
myself on the ridge of the Andes, at an elevation of more than 15,000
English feet, may have been conveyed to so extraordinary a position, not by
a rising of the ocean, but by the agency of volcanic forces capable of
elevating into ridges the softened crust of the earth.

I apply the term 'volcanic', in the widest sense of the word, to every
action exercised by the interior of a planet on its external crust.  The
surface of our globe, and that of the moon, manifest traces of this action,
which in the former, at least, has varied during the course of ages.  Those
who are ignorant of the fact that the internal heat of the earth increases
so rapidly with the increase of depth that granite is in a state of fusion
about twenty or thirty geographical miles below the surface,* can not have a
clear conception of the causes, and the simultaneous occurrence of volcanic
eruptions at places widely removed from one another, or of the extent and
intersection of 'circles of commotion' in earthquakes, or of the uniformity
of temperature, and equality of chemical composition observed in thermal
springs during a long course of years.

[Footnote]  * The determinations usually given of the point of fusion are in
general much too high for refracting substances.  According to the very
accurate researches of Mitscherlich, the melting point of granite can hardly
exceed 2372 degrees F.
[Dr. Mantell states in 'The Wonders of Geology', 1848, vol. i., p. 34, that
this increase of temperature amounts to 1 degree of Fahrenheit for every
fifty-four feet of vertical depth.] -- Tr.

The quantity of heat peculiar to a planet is, however, a matter of such
importance -- being the result of its primitive condensation, and varying
according to the nature and duration of the radiation -- that the study of
this subject may throw some degree of light on the history of the
atmosphere, and the distribution of the organic bodies imbedded in the solid
crust of the earth.  This study enables us to understand how a tropical
temperature, independent of latitude (that is, of the distance from the
poles), may have been produced by deep fissures remaining open, and exhaling
heat from the interior
p 46
of the globe, at a period when the earth's crust was still furrowed and
rent, and only in a state of semi-solidification; and a primordial condition
is thus revealed to us, in which the temperature of the atmosphere, and
climates generally, were owing rather to a liberation of caloric and of
different gaseous emanations (that is to say, rather to the energetic
reaction of the interior on the exterior) than to the position of the earth
with respect to the central body, the sun.

The cold regions of the earth contain, deposited in sedimentary strata, the
products of tropical climates; thus, in the coal formations, we find the
trunks of palms standing upright amid coniferae, tree ferns, goniatites, and
fishes having rhomboidal osseous scales;* in the Jura limestone, colossal
skeletons of crocodiles, plesiosauri, planulites, and stems of the cycadeae;
in the chalk formations, small polythalmia and bryozoa, whose species still
exist in our seas; in tripoli, or polishing slate, in the semi-opal and the
farina-like opal or mountain meal, agglomerations of siliceous infusoria,
which have been brought to light by the powerful microscope of Ehrenberg;**
and, lastly, in transported soils, and in certain caves, the bones of
elephants, hyenas, and lions.

[Footnote] *See the classical work on the fishes of the Old World by
Agassiz, 'Rech. sur les Poissons Fossiles', 1834, vol. i., p. 38; vol. ii.,
p. 3, 28, 34, App., p. 6.  The whole genus of Amblypterus, Ag., nearly
allied to Palaeoniscus (called also Palaeothrissum), lies buried beneath the
Jura formations in the old carboniferous strata.  Scales which, in some
fishes, as in the family of Lepidoides (order of Ganoides), are formed like
teeth, and covered in certain parts with enamel, belong, after the
Placoides, to the oldest forms of fossil fishes; their living
representatives are still found in two genera, the 'Bichir' of the Nile and
Senegal, and the 'Lepidosteus' of the Ohio.

[Footnote] **[The 'polishing slate' of Bilin is stated by M. Ehrenberg to
form a 'series' of strata fourteen feet in thickness, entirely made up of
the siliceous shells of 'Gaillonellae', of such extreme minuteness that a
cubic inch of the stone contains forty-one thousand millions!  The
'Bergmehl' ('mountain meal' or 'fossil farina') of San Fiora, in Tuscany, is
one mass of animalculites.  See the interesting work of G. A. Mantell, 'On
the Medals of Creation', vol. i., p. 233.] -- Tr.

An intimate acquaintance with the physical phenomena of the universe leads
us to regard the products of warm latitudes that are thus found in a fossil
condition in northern regions not merely as incentives to barren curiosity,
but as subjects awakening deep reflection, and opening new sources of study.

The number and the variety of the objects I have alluded to give rise to the
question whether general considerations of physical phenomena can be made
sufficiently clear to persons who have not acquired a detailed and special
knowledge of
p 47
descriptive natural history, geology, or mathematical astronomy?  I think we
ought to distinguish here between him whose task it is to collect the
individual details of various observations, and study the mutual relations
existing among them, and him to whom these relations are to be revealed,
under the form of general results.  The former should be acquainted with the
specialities of phenomena, that he may arrive at a generalization of ideas
as the result, at least in part, of his own observations, experiments, and
calculations.  It can not be denied, that where there is an absence of
positive knowledge of physical phenomena, the general results which impart
so great a charm to the study of nature can not all be made equally clear
and intelligible to the reader, but still I venture to hope, that in the
work which I am now preparing on the physical laws of the universe, the
greater part of the facts advanced can be made manifest without the
necessity of appealing to fundamental views and principles.  The picture of
nature thus drawn, notwithstanding the want of distinctness of some of its
outlines, will not be the less able to enrich the intellect, enlarge the
sphere of ideas, and nourish and vivify the imagination.

There is, perhaps, some truth in the accusation advanced against many German
scientific works, that they lessen the value of general views by an
accumulation of detail, and do not sufficiently distinguish between those
great results which form, as it were, the beacon lights of science, and the
long series of means by which they have been attained.  This method of
treating scientific subjects led the most illustrious of our poets* to
exclaim with impatience, "The Germans have the art of making science
inaccessible."  An edifice can not produce a striking effect until the
scaffolding is removed, that had of necessity been used during its erection.

[Footnote]  *Gothe, in 'Die Aphorismen uber Naturwissenschaft', bd. I., s.
155 ('Werke kleine Ausgabe','von' 1833.)

Thus the uniformity of figure observed in the distribution of continental
masses, which all terminate toward the south in a pyramidal form, and expand
toward the north (a law that determines the nature of climates, the
direction of currents in the ocean and the atmosphere, and the transition of
certain types of tropical vegetation toward the southern temperate zone),
may be clearly apprehended without any knowledge of the geodesical and
astronomical operations by means of which these pyramidal forms of
continents have been determined.  In like manner, physical geography teaches
us by how many leagues
p 48
the equatorial axis exceeds the polar axis of the globe, and shows us the
mean equality of the flattening of the two hemispheres, without entailing on
us the necessity of giving the detail of the measurement of the degrees in
the meridian, or the observations on the pendulum, which have led us to know
that the true figure of our globe is not exactly that of a regular ellipsoid
of revolution, and that this irregularity is reflected in the corresponding
irregularity of the movements of the moon.

The views of comparative geography have been specially enlarged by that
admirable work, 'Erdkunde im VerhŠltniss zur Natur und sur Geschichte', in
which Carl Ritter so ably delineates the physiognomy of our globe, and shows
the influence of its external configuration on the physical phenomena on its
surface, on the migrations, laws, and manners of nations, and on all the
principal historical events enacted upon the face of the earth.

France possesses an immortal work, 'L'Exposition du Systme du Monde', in
which the author has combined the results of the highest astronomical and
mathematical labors, and presented them to his readers free from all
processes of demonstration.  The structure of the heavens is here reduced to
the simple solution of a great problem in mechanics; yet Laplace's work has
never yet been accused of incompleteness and want of profundity.

The distinction between dissimilar subjects, and the separation of the
general from the special, are not only conducive to the attainment of
perspicuity in the composition of a physical history of the universe, but
are also the means by which a character of greater elevation may be imparted
to the study of nature.  By the suppression of all unnecessary detail, the
great masses are better seen, and the reasoning faculty is enabled to grasp
all that might otherwise escape the limited range of the senses.

The exposition of general results has, it must be owned, been singularly
facilitated by the happy revolution experienced since the close of the last
century, in the condition of all the special sciences, more particularly of
geology, chemistry, and descriptive natural history.  In proportion as laws
admit of more general application, and as sciences mutually enrich each
other, and by their extension become connected together in more numerous and
more intimate relations, the development of general truths may be given with
conciseness devoid of superficiality.  On being first examined, all
phenomena appear to be
p 49
isolated, and it is only by the result of a multiplicity of observations,
combined by reason, that we are able to trace the mutual relations existing
between them.  If, however, in the present age, which is so strongly
characterized by a brilliant course of scientific discoveries, we perceive a
want of connection in the phenomena of certain sciences, we may anticipate
the revelation of new facts, whose importance will probably be commensurate
with the attention directed to these branches of study.  Expectations of
this nature may be entertained with regard to meteorology, several parts of
optics, and to radiating heat, and electro-magnetism, since the admirable
discoveries of Melloni and Faraday.  A fertile field is here opened to
discovery, although the voltaic pile has already taught us the intimate
connection existing between electric, magnetic, and chemical phenomena.  Who
will venture to affirm that we have any precise knowledge, in the present
day, of that part of the atmosphere which is not oxygen, or that thousands
of gaseous substances affecting our organs may not be mixed with the
nitrogen, or, finally, that we have even discovered the whole number of the
forces which pervade the universe?

It is not the purpose of this essay on the physical history of the world to
reduce all sensible phenomena to a small number of abstract principles,
based on reason only.  The physical history of the universe, whose
exposition I attempt to develop, does not pretend to rise to the perilous
abstractions of a purely rational science of nature, and is simply a
'physical geography, combined with a description of the regions of space and
the bodies occupying them.'  Devoid of the profoundness of a purely
speculative philosophy, my essay on the 'Cosmos' treats of the contemplation
of the universe, and is based upon a rational empiricism, that is to say,
upon the results of the facts registered by science, and tested by the
operations of the intellect.  It is within these limits alone that the work,
which I now venture to undertake, appertains to the sphere of labor to which
I have devoted myself throughout the course of my long scientific career.
The path of inquiry is not unknown to me, although it may be pursued by
others with greater success.  The unity which I seek to attain in the
development of the great phenomena of the universe, is analogous to that
which historical composition is capable of acquiring.  All points relating
to the accidental individualities, and the essential variations of the
actual, whether in the form and arrangement of natural objects in the
struggle of man against the elements, or of nations against nations, do not
admit of being
p 50
based only on a 'rational foundation' -- that is to say, of being deduced
from ideas alone.

It seems to me that a like degree of empiricism attaches to the Description
of the Universe and to Civil History; but in reflecting upon physical
phenomena and events, and tracing their causes by the process of reason, we
become more and more convinced of the truth of the ancient doctrine, that
the forces inherent in matter, and those which govern the moral necessity,
and in accordance with movements occurring periodically after longer or
shorter intervals.

It is this necessity, this occult but permanent connection, this periodical
recurrence in the progressive development of forms, phenomena, and events,
which constitute 'nature', obedient to the first impulse imparted to it.
Physics, as the term signifies, is limited to the explanation of the
phenomena of the material world by the properties of matter.  The ultimate
object of the experimental sciences is, therefore, to discover laws, and to
trace their progressive generalization.  All that exceeds this goes beyond
the province of the physical description of the universe, and appertains to
a range of higher speculative views.

Emmanuel Kant, one of the few philosophers who have escaped the imputation
of impiety, has defined with rare sagacity the limits of physical
explanations, in his celebrated essay 'On the Theory and Structure of the
Heavens', published at Konigsberg in 1755.

The study of a science that promises to lead us through the vast range of
creation may be compared to a journey in a far-distant land.  Before we set
forth, we consider, and often with distrust, our own strength, and that of
the guide we have chosen.  But the apprehensions which have originated in
the abundance and the difficulties attached to the subjects we would
embrace, recede from view as we remember that with the increase of
observations in the present day there has also arisen a more intimate
knowledge of the connection existing among all phenomena.  It has not
unfrequently happened, that the researches made at remote distances have
often and unexpectedly thrown light upon subjects which had long resisted
the attempts made to explain them within the narrow limits of our own sphere
of observation.  Organic forms that had long remained isolated, both in the
animal and vegetable kingdom, have been connected by the discovery of
intermediate links or stages of transition.  The geography of beings endowed
p 51
with life attains completeness as we see the species, genera, and entire
families belonging to one hemisphere, reflected as it were, in analogous
animal and vegetable forms in the opposite hemisphere.  There are, so to
speak, the 'equivalents' which mutually personate and replace one another in
the great series of organisms.  These connecting links and stages of
transition may be traced, alternately, in a deficiency or an excess of
development of certain parts, in the mode of junction of distinct organs, in
the differences in the balance of forces, or in a resemblance to
intermediate forms which are not permanent, but merely characteristic of
certain phases of normal development.  Passing from the consideration of
beings endowed with life to that of inorganic bodies, we find many striking
illustrations of the high state of advancement to which modern geology has
attained.  We thus see, according to the grand views of Elie de Beaumont,
how chains of mountains dividing different climates and floras and different
races of men, reveal to us their 'relative age', both by the character of
the sedimentary strata they have uplifted, and by the directions which they
follow over the long fissures and which the earth's crust is furrowed.
Relations of superposition of trachyte and of syenitic porphyry, of diorite
and of serpentine, which remain in the rich platinum districts of the Oural,
and on the south-western declivity of the Siberian Alti, are elucidated by
the observations that have been made on the plateaux of Mexico and
Antioquia, and in the unhealthy ravines of Choco.  The most important facts
on which the physical history of the world has been based in modern times,
have not been accumulated by chance.  It has at length been fully
acknowledged, and the conviction is characteristic of the age, that the
narratives of distant travels, too long occupied in the mere recital of
hazardous adventures, can only be made a source of instruction where the
traveler is acquainted with the condition of the science he would enlarge,
and is guided by reason in his researches.

It is by this tendency to generalization, which is only dangerous in its
abuse, that a great portion of the physical knowledge already acquired may
be made the common property of all classes of society; but, in order to
render the instruction impaired by these means commensurate with the
importance of the subject, it is desirable to deviate as widely as possible
from the imperfect compilations designated, till the close of the eighteenth
century, by the inappropriate term of 'popular
p 52
knowledge.'  I take pleasure in persuading myself that scientific subjects
may be treated of in language at once dignified, grave, and animated, and
that those who are restricted within the circumscribed limits of ordinary
life, and have long remained strangers to an intimate communion with nature,
may thus have opened to them one of the richest sources of enjoyment, by
which the mind is invigorated by the acquisition of new ideas.  Communion
with nature awakens within us perceptive faculties that had long lain
dormant; and we thus comprehend at a single glance the influence exercised
by physical discoveries on the enlargement of the sphere of intellect, and
perceive how a judicious application of mechanics, chemistry, and other
sciences may be made conducive to national prosperity.

A more accurate knowledge of the connection of physical phenomena will also
tend to remove the prevalent error that all branches of natural science are
not equally important in relation to general cultivation and industrial
progress.  An arbitrary distinction is frequently made between the various
degrees of importance appertaining to mathematical sciences, to the study of
organized beings, the knowledge of electro-magnetism, and investigations of
the general properties of matter in its different conditions of molecular
aggregation; and it is not uncommon presumptuously to affix a supposed
stigma upon researches of this nature, by terming them "purely theoretical,"
forgetting , although the fact has been long attested, that in the
observation of a phenomenon, which at first sight appears to be wholly
isolated, may be concealed the germ of a great discovery.  When Aloysio
Galvani first stimulated the nervous fiber by the accidental contact of two
heterogeneous metals, his contemporaries could never have anticipated that
the action of the voltaic pile would discover to us, in the alkalies, metals
of a silvery luster, so light as to swim on water, and eminently
inflammable; or that it would become a powerful instrument of chemical
analysis, and at the same time a thermoscope and a magnet.  When Hygens
first observed, in 1678, the phenomenon of the polarization of light,
exhibited in the difference between the two rays into which a pencil of
light divides itself in passing through a doubly refracting crystal, it
could not have been foreseen that, a century and a half later, the great
philosopher Arago would, by his discovery of 'chromatic polarization', be
led to discern, by means of a small fragment of Iceland spar, whether solar
light emanates from a solid body or a gaseous covering, or
p 53
whether comets transmit light directly or merely by reflection.*

[Footnote]  *Arago's Discoveries in the year 1811. -- Delambro's 'Histoire
de l'Ast.', p. 652.  (Passage already quoted.)

An equal appreciation of all branches of the mathematical, physical, and
natural sciences is a special requirement of the present age, in which the
material wealth and the growing prosperity of nations are principally based
upon a more enlightened employment of the products and forces of nature.
The most superficial glance at the present condition of Europe shows that a
diminution, or even a total annihilation of national prosperity, must be the
award of those states who shrink with slothful indifference from the great
struggle of rival nations in the career of the industrial arts.  It is with
nations as with nature, which, according to a happy expression of Gšthe,*
"knows no pause in progress and development, and attaches her curse on all

[Footnote]  *Gothe, in 'Die Aphorismen uber Naturwissenschaft.' -- 'Werke',
bd. 1., s. 4

The propagation of an earnest and sound knowledge of science can therefore
alone avert the dangers of which I have spoken.  Man can not act upon
nature, or appropriate her forces to his own use, without comprehending
their full extent, and having an intimate acquaintance with the laws of the
physical world.  Bacon has said that, in human societies, knowledge is
power.  Both must rise and sink together.  But the knowledge that results
from the free action of thought is at once the delight and the
indestructible prerogative of man; and in forming part of the wealth of
mankind, it not unfrequently serves as a substitute for the natural riches,
which are but sparingly scattered over the earth.  Those states which take
no active part in the general industrial movement, in the choice and
preparation of natural substances, or in the application of mechanics and
chemistry, and among whom this activity is not appreciated by all classes of
society, will infallibly see their prosperity diminish in proportion as
neighboring countries become strengthened and invigorated under the genial
influence of arts and sciences.

As in nobler spheres of thought and sentiment, in philosophy, poetry, and
the fine arts, the object at which we aim ought to be an inward one -- an
ennoblement of the intellect -- so ought we likewise in our pursuit of
science, to strive after a knowledge of the laws and the principles of unity
that pervade the vital forces of the universe; and it is by such a course
p 54
physical studies may be made subservient to the progress of industry, which
is a conquest of mind over matter.  By a happy connection of causes and
effects, we often see the useful linked to the beautiful and the exalted.
The improvement of agriculture in the hands of freemen, and on properties of
a moderate extent -- the flourishing state of the mechanical arts freed from
the trammels of municipal restrictions -- the increased impetus imparted to
commerce by the multiplied means of the intellectual progress of mankind,
and of the amelioration of political institutions, in which this progress is
reflected.  The picture presented by modern history ought to convince those
who are tardy in awakening to the truth of the lesson it teaches.

Nor let it be feared that the marked predilection for the study of nature,
and for industrial progress, which is so characteristic of the present age,
should necessarily have a tendency to retard the noble exertions of the
intellect in the domains of philosophy, classical history, and antiquity, or
to deprive the arts by which life is embellished of the vivifying breath of
imagination.  Where all the germs of civilization are developed beneath the
aegis of free institutions and wise legislation, there is no cause for
apprehending that any one branch of knowledge should be cultivated to the
prejudice of others.  All afford the state precious fruits, whether they
yield nourishment to man and constitute his physical wealth, or whether,
more permanent in their nature, they transmit in the works of mind the glory
of nations to remotest posterity.  The Spartans, notwithstanding their Doric
austerity, prayed the gods to grant them "the beautiful with the good."*

[Footnote]  *Pseudo-Plato, -- 'Alcib.', xi., p. 184, ed. Steph.; Plut.,
'Instituta Laconica', p. 253, ed. Hatten.

I will no longer dwell upon the considerations of the influence exercised by
the mathematical and physical sciences on all that appertains to the
material wants of social life, for the vast extent of the course on which I
am entering forbids me to insist further upon the utility of these
applications.  Accustomed to distant excursions, I may, perhaps, have erred
in describing the path before us as more smooth and pleasant than it really
is, for such is wont to be the practice of those who delight in guiding
others to the summits of lofty mountains:  they praise the view even when
great part of the distant plains lie hidden by clouds, knowing that this
half-transparent vapory vail imparts to the scene a certain charm from
p 55
the power exercised by the imagination over the domain of the senses.  In
like manner, from the height occupied by the physical history of the world,
all parts of the horizon will not appear equally clear and well defined.
This indistinctness will not, however, be wholly owing to the present
imperfect state of some of the sciences, but in part, likewise, to the
unskillfulness of the guide who has imprudently ventured to ascend these
lofty summits.

The object of this introductory notice is not, however, solely to draw
attention to the importance and greatness of the physical history of the
universe, for in the present day these are too well understood to be
contested, but likewise to prove how, without detriment to the stability of
special studies, we may be enabled to generalize our ideas by concentrating
them in one common focus, and thus arrive at a point of view from which all
the organisms and forces of nature may be seen as one living active whole,
animated by one sole impulse.  "Nature," as Schelling remarks in his poetic
discourse on art, "is not an inert mass; and to him who can comprehend her
vast sublimity, she reveals herself as the creative force of the universe --
before all time, eternal, ever active, she calls to life all things, whether
perishable or imperishable."

By uniting, under one point of view, both the phenomena of our own globe and
those presented in the regions of space, we embrace the limits of the
science of the 'Cosmos', and convert the physical history of the globe into
the physical history of the universe, the one term being modeled upon that
of the other.  This science of the Cosmos is not, however, to be regarded as
a mere encyclopedic aggregation of the most important and general results
that have been collected together from special branches of knowledge.  These
results are nothing more than the materials for a vast edifice, and their
combination can not constitute the physical history of the world, whose
exalted part it is to show the simultaneous action and the connecting links
of the forces which pervade the universe.  The distribution of organic types
in different climates and at different elevations -- that is to say, the
geography of plants and animals -- differs as widely from botany and
descriptive zoology as geology does from mineralogy, properly so called.
The physical history of the universe must not, therefore, be confounded with
the 'Encyclopedias of the Natural Sciences', as they have hitherto been
compiled, and whose title is as vague as their limits are ill defined.  In
the work before us, partial facts will be considered only in relation to the
p 56
The higher the point of view, the greater is the necessity for a systematic
mode of treating the subject in language at once animated and picturesque.

But thought and language have ever been most intimately allied.  If
language, by its originality of structure and its native richness, can, in
its delineations, interpret thought with grace and clearness, and if, by its
happy flexibility, it can paint with vivid truthfulness the objects of the
external world, it reacts at the same time upon thought, and animates it, as
it were, with the breath of life.  It is this mutual reaction which makes
words more than mere signs and forms of thought; and the beneficent
influence of a language is most strikingly manifested on its native soil,
where it has sprung spontaneously from the minds of the people, whose
character it embodies.  Proud of a country that seeks to concentrate her
strength in intellectual unity, the writer recalls with delight the
advantages he has enjoyed in being permitted to express his thoughts in his
native language; and truly happy is he who, in attempting to give a lucid
exposition of the great phenomena of the universe, is able to draw from the
depths of a language, which, through the free exercise of thought, and by
the effusions of creative fancy, has for centuries past exercised so
powerful an influence over the destinies of man.

This material taken from pages 56 to 78

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p 56


I HAVE endeavored, in the preceding part of my work, to explain and
illustrate, by various examples, how the enjoyments presented by the aspect
of nature, varying as they do in the sources from when they flow, may be
multiplied and ennobled by an acquaintance with the connection of phenomena
and the laws by which they are regulated.  It remains, then, for me to
examine the spirit of the method in which the exposition of the 'physical
description of the universe' should be conducted, and to indicate the limits
of this science in accordance with the views I have acquired in the course
of my studies and travels in various parts of the earth.  I trust I may
flatter myself with a hope that a treatise of this nature will justify the
title I have ventured to adopt for my work, and exonerate me from the
reproach of a presumption that would be doubly reprehensible in a scientific

Before entering upon the delineation of the partial phenomena
p 57
which are found to be distributed in various groups, I would consider a few
general questions intimately connected together, and bearing upon the nature
of our knowledge of the external world and its different relations, in all
epochs of history and in all phases of intellectual advancement.  Under this
head will be comprised the following considerations:

1.  The precise limits of the physical description of the universe,
considered as a distinct science.

2.  A brief enumeration of the totality of natural phenomena, presented
under the form of a 'general delineation of nature.'

3.  The influence of the external world on the imagination and feelings,
which has acted in modern times as a powerful impulse toward the study of
natural science, by giving animation to the description of distant regions
and to the delineation of natural scenery, as far as it is characterized by
vegetable physiognomy and by the cultivation of exotic plants, and their
arrangement in well-contrasted groups.

4.  The history of the contemplation of nature, or the progressive
development of the idea of the Cosmos, considered with reference to the
historical and geographical facts that have led to the discovery of the
connection of phenomena.

The higher the point of view from which natural phenomena may be considered,
the more necessary it is to circumscribe the science within its just limits,
and to distinguish it from all other analogous or auxiliary studies.

Physical cosmography is founded on the contemplation of all created things
-- all that exists in space, whether as substances or forces -- that is, all
the material beings that constitute the universe.  The science which I would
attempt to define presents itself, therefore, to man, as the inhabitant of
the earth, under a two-fold form -- as the earth itself and the regions of
space.  It is with a view of showing the actual character and the
independence of the study of physical cosmography, and at the same time
indicating the nature of its relations to 'general physics, descriptive
natural history, geology, and comparative geography', that I will pause for
a few moments to consider that portion of the science of the Cosmos which
concerns the earth.  As the history of philosophy does not consist of a mere
material enumeration of the philosophical views entertained in different
ages, neither should the physical description of the universe be a simple
encyclopedic compilation of the sciences we have enumerated.  The difficulty
of defining the limits of intimately-connected studies has been increased,
because for centuries it has been customary to designate various branches
p 58
of empirical knowledge by terms which admit either of too wide or too
limited a definition of the ideas which they were intended to convey, and
are, besides, objectionable from  having had a different signification in
those classical languages of antiquity from thish chey have been borrowed.
The terms physiology, physics, natural history, geology and geography arose,
and were commonly used, long before clear ideas were entertained of the
diversity of objects embraced by these sciences, and consequently of their
reciprocal limitation.  Such is the influence of long habit upon language,
that by one of the nations of Europe most advanced in civilization the word
"physic" is applied to medicine, while in a society of justly deserved
universal reputation, technical chemistry, geology and astronomy (purely
experimental sciences) are comprised under the head of "Philosophical

An attempt has often been made, and almost always in vain, to substitute new
and more appropriate terms for these ancient designations, which,
notwithstanding their undoubted vagueness, are now generally understood.
These changes have been proposed, for the most part, by those who have
occupied themselves with the general classification of the various branches
of knowledge, from the first appearance of the great encyclopedia
('Margarita Philosophica') of Gregory Reisch,* prior of the Chartreuse at
Freiburg, toward the close of the fifteenth century, to Lord Bacon, and from
Bacon to D'Alembert; and in recent times to an eminent physicist, Andre
Marie Ampere.**

[footnote] *The 'Margarita Philosophica' of Gregory Reisch, prior of the
Chartreuse at Freiburg, first appeared under the following title:  Aepitome
omnis Philosophi¾, alias Margarita Philosophica, tractans de omni generi
scibili.  The Heidelberg edition (1486), and that of Strasburg (1504), both
bear this title, but the first part was suppressed in the Freiburg edition
of the same year, as well as in the twelve subsequent editions, which
succeeded one another, at short intervals, till 1535.  This work exercised a
great influence on the diffusion of mathematical and physical sciences
toward the beginning of the sixteenth century, and Crasles, the learned
author of 'L'Aperu  Historique des Methodes en GŽometrica' (1837) has
shown the great importance of Reisch's 'Encyclopedia' in the history of
mathematics in the Middle Ages.  I have had recourse to a passage in the
'Margarita Philosophica', found only in the edition of 1513, to elucidate
the important question of the relations between the statements of the
geographer of Saint-Die, Hylacomilus (Martin Waldseemuller), the first who
gave the name of America to the New Continent, and those of Amerigo
Vespucci, Rene, King of Jerusalem and Duke of Lorraine, as also those
contained in the celebrated editions of Ptolemy of 1513 and 1522.  See my
'Examen Critique de la Gegraphie du Nouveau Continent, et des Progres de
l'Astronomie Nautique aux 15e et 16e Siecles', t. iv., p. 99-125.

[footnote] II Ampre, 'Essai sur la Phil. des Sciences', 1834, p. 25.
Whewell, 'Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences', vol. ii., p. 277.  Park,
'Pantology', p. 87.

p 59
The selection of an inappropriate Greek nomenclature has perhaps been even
more prejudicial to the last of these attempts than the injudicious use of
binary divisions and the excessive multiplication of groups.

The physical description of the world, considering the universe as an object
of the external senses, does undoubtedly require the aid of general physics
and of descriptive natural history, but thecontemplation of all created
things, which are linked together, and form one 'whole', animated by
internal forces, given to the science we are considering a peculiar
character.  Phyical science considers only the general properties of bodies;
it is the product of abstraction -- a generalization of perceptible
phenomena; and even in the work in which were laid the first foundations of
general physics, in the eight books on physics of Aristotle,* all the
phenomena of nature are considered as depending upon the primitive and vital
action of one sole force, from which emaate all the movements of the

[footnote] * All changes in the physical world may be reduced to motion.
Aristot., 'Phys. Ausc.', iii., 1 and 4, p. 200, 201.  Bekker, viii., 1, 8,
and 9, p. 250, 262, 265.  'De Genere et Corr.', ii., 10, p. 336.
Pseudo-Aristot., 'De Mundo.' cap. vi., p. 398.

The terrestrial portion of physical cosmography, for which I would willingly
retain the expressive designation of 'physical geography', treats of the
distribution of magnetism in our planet with relation to its intensity and
direction, but does not enter into a consideration of the laws of attraction
or repulsion of the poles, or the means of eliciting either permanent or
transitory electro-magnetic currents.  Physical geography depicts in broad
outlines the even or irregular configuration of continents, the relations of
superficial area, and the distribution of continental masses in the two
hemispheres, a distribution which exercises a powerful influence on the
diversity of climate and the meteorological modifications of the atmosphere;
this science defines the character of mountain chains, which, having been
elevated at different epochs, constitute distinct systems, whether they run
in parallel lines or intersect one another; determines the mean height of
continents above the level of the sea, the position of the center of gravity
of their volume, and the relation of the highest summits of mountain chains
to the mean elevation of their crests, or to their proximity with the
sea-shore.  It depicts the eruptive rocks as principles of movement, acting
upon the sedimentary rocks by traversing, uplifting, and inclining them at
various angles; it
p 60
considers volcanoes either as isolated, or ranged in single or in double
series, and extending their sphere of action to various distances, either by
raising long and narrow lines of rocks, or by means of circles of commotion,
which expand or diminish in diameter in the course of ages.  This
terrestrial portion of the science of the Cosmos describes the strife of the
liquid element with the solid land; it indicates the features possessed in
common by all great rivers in the upper and lower portion of their course,
and in their mode of bifurcation when their basins are unclosed; and shows
us rivers breaking through the highest mountain chains, or following for a
long time a course parallel to them, either at their base, or at a
considerable distance, where the elevation of the strata of the mountain
system and the direction of their inclination correspond to the
configuration of the table-land.  It is only the general results of
comparative orography and hydrography that belong to the science whose true
limits I am desirous of determining, and not the special enumeration of the
greatest elevations of our globe, of active volcanoes, of rivers, and the
number of their tributaries, these details falliing rather within the domain
of geography, properly so called.  We would here only consider phenomena in
their mutual connection, and in their relations to different zones of our
planet, and to its physical constitution generally.  The specialties both of
inorganic and organized matter, classed according to analogy of form and
composition, undoubtedly constitute a most interesting branch of study, but
they appertain to a sphere of ideas having no affinity with the subject of
this work.

The description of different countries certainly furnishes us with the most
important materials for the composition of a physical geography; but the
combination of these different descriptions, ranged in series, would as
little give us a true image of the general conformation of the irregular
surface of our globe, as a succession of all the floras of different regions
would constitute that which I designate as a 'Geography of Plants.'  It is
by subjecting isolated observations to the process of thought, and by
combining and comparing them, that we are enabled to discover the relations
existing in common between the climatic distribution of beings and the
individuality of organic forms (in the morphology or descriptive natural
history of plants and animals); and it is by induction that we are led to
comprehend numerical laws, the proportion of natural families to the whole
number of species, and to designate the latitude or geographical position of
the zones in whose
p 61
plains each organic form attains the maximum of its development.
Considerations of this nature, by their tendency to generalization, impress
a nobler character on the physical description of the globe, and enable us
to understand how the aspect of the scenery, that is to say, the impression
produced upon the mind by the physiognomy of the vegetation, depends upon
the local distribution, the number, and the luxuriance of growth of the
vegetable forms predominating in the general mass.  The catalogues of
organized beings to which was formerly given the pompous title of 'Systems
of Nature', present us with an admirably connected arrangement by analogies
of structure, either in the perfected development of these beings, or in the
different phases which, in accordance with the views of a spiral evolution,
affect in vegetables the leaves, bracts, calyx, corolla and fructifying
organs; and in animals, with more or less symmetrical regularity, the
cellular and fibrous tissues, and their perfect or but obscurely developed
articulations.  But these pretended systems of nature, however ingenious
their mode of classification may be, do not show us organic beings as they
are distributed in groups throughout our planet, according to their
different relations of latitude and elevation above the level of the sea,
and to climatic influences, which are owing to general and often very remote
causes.  The ultimate aim of physical geography is, however, as we have
already said, to recognise unity in the vast diversity of phenomena, and by
the exercise of thought and the combination of observations, to discern the
constancy of phenomena in the midst of apparent changes.  In the exposition
of the terrestrial portion of the Cosmos, it will occasionally be necessary
to descend to very special facts; but this will only be in order to recall
the connection existing between the actual distribution of organic beings
over the globe, and the laws of the ideal classification by natural
families, analogy of internal organization and progressive evolution.

It follows from these discussions on the limits of the various sciences, and
more particularly from the distinction which must necessarily be made
between descriptive botany (morphology of vegetables) and the geography of
plants, that in the physical history of the globe, the innumerable multitude
of organized bodies which embellish creation are considered rather according
to 'zones of habitation' or 'stations', and to differently inflected
'isothermal bands', than with reference to the principles of gradation in
the development of internal organism.  Notwithstanding this, botany and
zoology, which constitute
p 62
the descriptive natural history of all organized beings, are the fruitful
sources whence we draw the materials necessary to give a solid basis to the
study of the mutual relations and connection of phenomena.

We will here subjoin one important observation by way of elucidating the
connection of which we have spoken.  The first general glance over the
vegetation of a vast extent of a continent shows us forms the most
dissimilar -- Graminae and Orchideae, Coniferae and oaks, in local
approximation to one another; while natural families and genera, instead of
being locally associated, are dispersed as if by chance.  This dispersion
is, however, only apparent.  The physical description of the globe teaches
us that vegetation every where presents numerically constant relations in
the development of its forms and types; that in the same climates, the
species which are wanting in one country are replaced in a neighboring one
by other species of the same family; and that this 'law of substitution',
which seems to depend upon some inherent mysteries of the organism,
considered with reference to its origin, maintains in contiguous regions a
numerical relation between the species of various great families and the
general mass of the phanerogamic plants constituting the two floras.  We
thus revealed in the multiplicity of the distinct organizations by which
these regions are occupied; and we also discover in each zone, and
diversified according to the families of plants, a slow but continuous
action on the aerial ocean, depending upon the influence of light -- the
primary condition of all organic vitality -- on the solid and liquid surface
of our planet.  It might be said, in accordance with a beautiful expression
of Lavoisier, that the ancient marvel of the myth of Prometheus was
incessantly renewed before our eyes.

If we extend the course which we have proposed, following in the exposition
of the physical description of the earth to the sidereal part of the science
of the Cosmos, the delineation of the regions of space and the bodies by
which they are occupied, we shall find our task simplified in no common
degree.  If, according to ancient but unphilosophical forms of nomenclature,
we would distinguish between 'physics', that is to say, general
considerations on the essence of matter, and the forces by which it is
actuated, and 'chemistry', which treats of the nature of substances, their
elementary composition, and those attractions that are not determined solely
by the relations of mass, we must admit that the description of the earth
comprises at
p 63
once 'physical' and 'chemical' actions.  In addition to gravitation, which
must be considered as a primitive force in nature, we observe that
attractions of another kind are at work around us, both in the interior of
our planet and on its surface.  These forces, to which we apply the term
'chemical affinity', act upon molecules in contact, or at infinitely minute
distances from one another,* and which, being differently modified by
electricity, heat, condensation in porous bodies, or by the contact of an
intermediate substance, animate equally the inorganic world and animal and
vegetable tissues.

[footnote]  * On the question already discussed by Newton, regarding the
difference existing between the attraction of masses and molecular
attraction, see Laplace, 'Exposition du Systeme du Monde', p. 384, and
supplement to book x. of the 'Mecanique Celeste', p. 3, 4; Kant, 'Metaph.
Anfangegrunde der Naturwissenschaft, SŠm. Werke', 1839, bd. v., s. 309
(Metaphysical Principles of the Natural Sciences); Pectet, 'Physique', 1838,
vol. i., p. 59-63.

If we except the small asteroids, which appear to us under the forms of
aerolites and shooting stars, the regions of space have hitherto presented
to our direct observation physical phenomena alone; and in the case of
these, we know only with certainty the effects depending upon the
quantitative relations of matter of the distribution of masses.  The
phenomena of the regions of space may consequently be considered as
influenced by simple dynamical laws -- the laws of motion.

The effects that may arise from the specific difference and the
hererogeneous nature of matter have not hitherto entered into our
calculations of the mechanism of the heavens.  The only means by which the
inhabitants of our planet can enter into relation with the matter contained
within the regions of space, whether existing in scattered forms or united
into large spheroids, is by the phenomena of light, the propagation of the
force of gravitation or the attraction of masses.  The existence of a
periodical action of the sun and moon on the variations of terrestrial
magnetism is even at the present day extremely problematical.  We have no
direct experimental knowledge regarding the properties and specific
qualities of the masses circulating in space, or of the matter of which they
are probably composed, if we except what may be derived from the fall of
aerolites or meteoric stones, which, as we have already observed, enter
within the limits of our terrestrial sphere.  It will be sufficient here to
remark, that the direction and the excessive velocity of projection (a
velocity wholly planetary) manifested by these masses, render it more than
probable that
p 64
they are small celestial bodies, which, being attracted by our planet, are
made to deviate from their original course, and thus reach the earth
enveloped in vapors, and in a high state of actual incandescence.  The
familiar aspect of these asteroids, and the analogies which they present
with the minerals composing the earth's crust, undoubtedly afford ample
grounds for surprise,* but, in my opinion, the only conclusion to be drawn
from these facts is that, in general, planets and other sidereal masses,
which by the influence of a central body, have been agglomerated into rings
of vapor, and subsequently into spheroids, being integrant parts of the same
system, and having one common origin, may likewise be composed of substances
chemically identical.

[footnote]  I[The analysis of an aerolite which fell a few years since in
Maryland, United States, and was examined by Professor Silliman, of New
Haven, Connecticut, gave the following results:  Oxyd of iron, 24; oxyd of
nickel, 1.25; silica, with earthy matter, 3.46; sulphur, a trace - 28.71.
Dr. Mantell's 'Wonders of Geology', 1848, vol. i., p. 51.] -- 'Tr.'

Again, experiments with the pendulum, particularly those prosecuted with
such rare precision by Bessel, confirm the Newtonian axiom, that bodies the
most heterogeneous in their nature (as water, gold, quartz, granular
limestone, and different masses of aerolites) experience a perfectly similar
degree of acceleration from the attraction of the earth.  To the experiments
of the pendulum may be added the proofs furnished by purely astronomical
observations.  The almost perfect identity of the mass of Jupiter, deduced
from the influence exercised by this stupendous planet on its own
satellites, on Enck's comet of short period, and on the small planets Vesta,
Juno, Ceres, and Pallas, indicates with equal certainty that within the
limits of actual observation attraction is determined solely by the quantity
of matter.*

[footnote] *Poisson, 'Connaissances des Temps pour l'Anne' 1836, p. 64-66.
Bessel, Poggendorf's 'Annalen', bd. xxv., s. 417.  Encke, 'Abhandlungen der
Berliner Academie' (Trans. of the Berlin Academy), 1826, s. 257.
Mitscherlich, 'Lehrbuch der Chemie' (Manual of Chemistry), 1837 bd. i. s.

This absence of any perceptible difference in the nature of matter, alike
proved by direct observation and theoretical deductions, imparts a high
degree of simplicity to the mechanism of the heavens.  The immeasurable
extent of the regions of space being subjected to laws of motion alone, the
sidereal portion of the science of the Cosmos is based on the pure and
abundant source of mathematical astronomy, as is the terrestrial portion on
physics, chemistry, and organic morphology; but the domain of these three
last-named sciences embraces
p 65
the consideration of phenomena which are so complicated and have, up to the
present time, been found so little susceptible of the application of
rigorous method, that the physical science of the earth can not boast of the
same certainty and simplicity in the exposition of facts and their mutual
connection which characterize the celestial portion of the Cosmos.  It is
not improbable that the difference to which we allude may furnish an
explanation of the cause which, in the earliest ages of intellectual culture
among the Greeks, directed the natural philosophy of the Pythagoreans with
more ardor to the heavenly bodies and the regions of space than to the earth
and its productions, and how through Philolaus, and subsequently through the
analogous views of Aristarchus of Samos, and of Seleucus of Erythrea, this
science has been made more conducive to the attainment of a knowledge of the
true system of the world than the natural philosophy of the Ionian school
could ever be to the physical history of the earth.  Giving but little
attention to the properties and specific differences of matter filling
space, the great Italian school, in its Doric gravity, turned by preference
toward all that relates to measure, to the form of bodies, and to the number
and distances of the planets,* while the Ionian physicists directed their
attention to the qualities of matter, its true or supposed metamorphoses,
and to relations of origin.

[footnote] *Compare Otfried Muller's 'Dorien', bd. i., s. 365.

It was reserved for the powerful genius of Aristotle, alike profoundly
speculative and practical to sound with equal success the depths of
abstraction and the inexhaustible resources of vital activity pervading the
material world.

Several highly distinguished treatises on physical geography are prefaced by
an introduction, whose purely astronomical sections are directed to the
consideration of the earth in its planetary dependence, and as constituting
a part of that great system which is animated by one central body, the sun.
This course is diametrically opposed to the one which I propose following.
In order adequately to estimate the dignity of the Cosmos, it is requisite
that the sidereal portion, termed by Kant the 'natural history of the
heavens', should not be made subordinate to the terrestrial.  In the science
of the Cosmos, according to the expression of Aristarchus of Samos, the
pioneer of the Copernican system, the sun, with its satellites, was nothing
more than one of the innumerable stars by which space is occupied.  The
physical history of the world must, therefore, begin with the description of
the heavenly bodies,
p 66
and with a geographical sketch of the universe, or, I would rather say, a
true 'map of th world', such as was traced by the bold hand of the elder
Herschel.  If, notwithstanding the smallness of our planet, the most
considerable space and the most attentive consideration be here afforded to
that which exclusively concerns it, this arises solely from the
disproportion in the extent of our knowledge of that which is accessible and
of that which is closed to our observation.  This subordination of the
celestial to the terrestrial portion is met with in the great work of
Bernard Varenius,* which appeared in the middle of the seventeenth century.

[Footnote]  *'Geographia Generalis in qua affectiones generales telluris
explicantur.'  The oldest Elzevir edition bears date 1650, the second 1672,
and the third 1681; these were published at Cambridge, under Newton's
supervision.  This excellent work by Varenius is, in the true sense of the
words, a physical description of the earth.  Since the work 'Historia
Natural de las Indias', 1590, in which the Jesuit Joseph de Acosta sketched
in so masterly a manner the delineation of the New Continent, questions
relating to the physical history of the earth have never been considered
with such admirable generality.  Acosta is richer in original observations,
while Varenius embraces a wider circle of ideas, since his sojourn in
Holland, which was at that period the center of vast commercial relations,
had brought him in contact with a great number of well-iinformed travelers.
'Generalis sive Universalis Geographia dictur quae tellurem in genere
considerat atque affectiones explicat, non habita particularium regionum
ratione.'  The general description of the earth by Varenius ('Pars
Absoluta', cap. i.-xxii.) may be considered as a treatise of comparative
geography, if we adopt the term used by the author himself ('Geographia
Comparativa', cap. xxxiii.-xl.), although this must be understood in a
limited acceptation.  We may cite the following among the most remarkable
passages of this book:  the enumeration of the systems of mountains; the
examination of the relations existing between their directions and the
general form of continents (p. 66, 76, ed. Cantab., 1681); a list of extinct
volcanoes, and such as were still in a state of activity; the discussion of
facts relative to the general distribution of islands and archipelagoes (p.
220); the depth of the ocean relatively to the height of neighboring coasts
(p. 103); the uniformity of level observed in all open seas (p. 97); the
dependence of currents on the prevailing winds; the unequal saltness of the
sea; the configuration of shores (p. 139); the direction of the winds as the
result of differences of temperature, etc.  We may further instance the
remarkable considerations of Varenius regarding the equinoctial current from
east to west, to which he attributes the origin of the Gulf Stream,
beginning at Cape St. Augustin, and issuing forth between Cuba and Florida
(p. 140).  Nothing can be more accurate than his description of the current
which skirts the western coast of Africa, between Cape Verde and the island
of Fernando Po in the Gulf of Guinea.  Varenius explains the formation of
sporadic islands by supposing them to be "the raised bottom of the sea:"
'magna spirituum inclusorum vi, sicut aliquando montes e terra protusos esse
quidam scribunt' (p. 225).  The edition published by Newton in 1681
('auctior et emendatior' unfortunately contains no additions from this great
authority; and there is not even mention made of the polar compression of
the globe, although the experiments on the pendulum by Richer had been made
nine years prior to the appearance of the Cambridge edition.  Newton's
'Principia Mathematica Philosophie Naturalis' were not communicated in
manuscript to the Royal Society until April, 1686.  Much uncertainty seems
to prevail regarding the birth-place of Varenius.  Jaecher says it was
England, while, according to 'La Biographie Universelle' (b.xlvii., p. 495),
he is stated to have been born at Amsterdam; but it would appear, from the
dedicatory address to the burgomaster of that city (see his 'Geographia
Comparativa', that both suppositions are false.  Varenius expressly says
that he had sought refuge in Amsterdam, "because his native city had been
burned and completely destroyed during a long war," words which appear to
apply to the north of Germany, and to the devastations of the Thirty Years'
War.  In his dedication of another work, 'Descriptio regni Japoniae' (Amst.,
1649), to the Senate of Hamburgh, Varenius says that he prosecuted his
elementary mathematical studies in the gymnasium of that city.  There is,
therefore, every reason to believe that this admirable geographer was a
native of Germany, and was probably born at Luneburg ('Witten. Mem. Theol.',
1685, p. 2142; Zedler, 'Universal Lexicon', vol. xlvi., 1745, p. 187).

p 67
He was the first to distinguish between 'general and special geography', the
former of which he subdivides into an 'absolute', or, properly speaking,
'terrestrial' part, and a 'relative or planetary' portion, according to the
mode of considering our planet either with reference to its surface in its
different zones, or to its relations to the sun and moon.  It redounds to
the glory of Varenius that his work on 'General and Comparative Geography'
should in so high a degree have arrested the attention of Newton.  The
imperfect state of many of the auxiliary sciences from which this writer was
obliged to draw his materials prevented his work from corresponding to the
greatness of the design, and it was reserved for the present age, and for my
own country, to see the delineation of comparative geography, drawn in its
full extent, and in all its relations with the history of man, by the
skillful hand of Carl Ritter.*

[Footnote]  *Carl Ritter's 'Erdkunde im VerhŠltniss zur Natur und zur
Geschichte des Menschen, oder allgemeine vergleichende Geographie'
(Geography in relation to Nature and the History of Man, or general
Comparative Geography).

The enumeration of the most important results of the astronomical and
physical sciences which in the history of the Cosmos radiate toward one
common focus, may perhaps, to a certain degree, justify the designation I
have given to my work, and, considered within the circumscribed limits I
have proposed to myself, the undertaking may be esteemed less adventurous
than the title.  The introduction of new terms, especially with reference to
the general results of a science which
p 68
ought to be accessible to all, has always been greatly in opposition to my
own practice; and whenever I have enlarged upon the established
nomenclature, it has only been in the specialities of descriptive botany and
zoology, where the introduction of hitherto unknown objects rendered new
names necessary.  The denominations of physical descriptions of the
universe, or physical cosmography, which I use indiscriminantely, have been
modeled upon those of 'physical descriptions of the earth', that is to say,
'physical geography', terms that have long been in common use.  Descartes,
whose genius was one of the most powerful manifested in any age, has left us
a few fragments of a great work, which he intended publishing under the
title of 'Monde', and for which he had prepared hiimself by special studies,
including even that of human anatomy.  The uncommon, but definite expression
of the 'science of the Cosmos' recalls to the mind of the inhabitant of the
earth that we are treating of a more widely-extended horizon -- of the
assemblage of all things with which space is filled, from the remotest
nebulae to the climatic distribution of those delicate tissues of vegetable
matter which spread a variegated covering over the surface of our rocks.

The influence of narrow-minded views peculiar to the earlier ages of
civilization led in all languages to a confusion of ideas in the synonymic
use of the words 'earth' and 'world', while the common expressions 'voyages
round the world', 'map of the world', and 'new world', afford further
illustrations of the same confusion.  The  more noble and precisely-defined
expressions of 'system of the world', 'the planetary world', and 'creation
and age of the world', relate either to the totality of the substances by
which space is filled, or to the origin of the whole universe.

It was natural that, in the midst of the extreme variability of phenomena
presented by the surface of our globe, and the aerial ocean by which it is
surrounded, man should have been impressed by the aspect of the vault of
heaven, and the uniform and regular movements of the sun and planets.  Thus
the word Cosmos, which primitively, in the Homeric ages, indicated an idea
of order and harmony, was subsequently adopted in scientific language, where
it was gradually applied to the order observed in the movements of the
heavenly bodies, to the whole universe, and then finally to the world in
which this harmony was reflected to us.  According to the assertion of
Philolaus, whose fragmentary works have been so ably commented upon by
Bšckh, and conformably to the general testimony
p 69
of antiquity, Pythagoras was the first who used the word Cosmos to designate
the order that reigns in the universe, or entire world.*

[footnote]  *[Greek word], in the most ancient, and at the same time most
precise, definition of the word, signified 'ornament' (as an adornment for a
man, a woman, or a horse); taken figuratively for [Greek word], it implied
the order or adornment of a discourse.  According to the testimony of all
the ancients, it was Pythagoras who first used the word to designate the
order in the universe, and the universe itself.  Pythagoras left no
writings; but ancient attestation to the truth of this assertion is to be
found in several passages of the fragmentary works of Philolaus (Stob.,
'Eclog.', p. 360 and 460, Heeren), p. 62, 90, in Bockh's German edition.  I
do not, according to the example of Nake, cite Timof Locris, since his
authenticity is doubtful.  Plutarch ('De plac. Phil.', ii., I) says, in the
most express manner, that Pythatoras gave the name of Cosmos to the universe
on account of the order which reigned throughout it; so likewise does Galen
('Hist. Phil.', p. 429).  This word, together with its novel signification,
passed from the schools of philosophy into the language of poets and prose
writers.  Plato designates the heavenly bodies by the name of 'Uranos', but
the order pervading the regions of space he too terms the Cosmos, and in his
'Timus' (p. 30 a.) he says 'that the world is an animal endowed with a soul'
 [Greek words].  Compare Anaxag. Claz., ed. Schaubach, p. III, and Plut.
('De plac. Phil.', in Aristotle ('De Caelo', I, 9), 'Cosmos' signifies "the
universe and the order pervading it," but it is likewise considered as
divided in space into two parts -- the sublunary world, and the world above
the moon.  ('Meteor.', I., w, 1, and I., 3, 13, p. 339, 'a', and 340, 'b',
Bekk.)  The definition of Cosmos, which I have already cited is taken from
Pseudo-Aristoteles 'de Mundo', cap. ii. (p. 391); the passage referred to is
as follows:  [Greek words].  Most of the passages occurring in Greek writers
on the word 'Cosmos' may be found collected together in the controversy
between Richard Bentley and Charles Boyle ('Opuscula Philologica', 1781, p.
347, 445; 'Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris', 1817, p. 254); on
the historical existence of Zaleucus, legislator of Leucris, in Nake's
excellent work, 'Sched. Crit.', 1812, p. 9, 15; and, finally in Theophilus
Schmidt, 'ad Cleom. Cycl. Theor.', met. I., 1, p. ix., 1 and 99.  Taken in a
more limited sense, the word Cosmos is also used in the plural (Plut., 1,
5), either to designate the stars (Stob., 1, p. 514; Plut., 11, 13) or the
innumerable systems scattered like islands through the immensity of space,
and each composed of a sun and a moon.  (Anax. Claz., 'Fragm.', p. 89, 93,
120; Brandis, 'Gesch. der Griechisch-Ršmischen Philosophie', b. i., s. 252
(History of the Greco-Roman Philosophy).  Each of these groups forming thus
a 'Cosmos', the universe, [Greek words], the word must be understood in a
wider sense (Plut., ii., 1).  It was not until long after the time of the
Ptolemies that the word was applied to the earth.  Bockh has made known
inscriptions in praise of Trajan and Adrian ('Corpus Inscr. Graec.', I, n.
334 and 1036), in which [Greek word] occurs for [Greek word] in the same
manner as we still use the term 'world' to signify the earth alone.  We have
already mentioned the singular division of the regions of space
p 70  [Footnote continues]
into three parts, the 'Olympus, Cosmos' and 'Ouranos' (Stob., i., p. 488;
Philolaus, p. 95, 303);  this division applies to the different regions
surrounding that mysterious focus of the universe, the [Greek words] of the
Pythagoreans.  In the fragmentary passage in which this division is found,
the term [Greek word] designates the innermost region, situated between the
moon and earth; this is the domain of changing things.  The middle region,
where the planets circulate in an invariable and harmonious order, is, in
accordance with the special conceptions entertained of the universe,
exclusively termed 'Cosmos', while the word 'Olympus' is used to express the
exterior or igneous region.  Bopp, the profound philologist, has remarked
that we may deduce, as Pott has done, 'Etymol. Forschungen', th.i., s. 39
and 252 ('Etymol. Researches'), the word [Greek word]  from the Sanscrit
root 'sud', 'purificari', by assuming two conditions; first that the Greek
letter 'kappa' in [Greek word] comes from the palatial 'epsilon', which Bopp
represents by 's' and Pott by '' (in the same manner as [Greek word],
'decem, taihun' in Gothic, comes from the Indian word 'dasan'), and, next,
that the Indian 'd'' corresponds, as a general rule, with the Greek 'theta'
('Vergleichende Grammatik' 99 -- Comparative Grammar), which shows the
relation of [Greek word] (for [Greek word]) with the Sanscrit root 'sud',
whence is also derived [Greek word].  Another Indian term for the world is
'gagat' (pronounced 'dschagat'), which is, properly speaking the present
participle of the verb 'gagami' (I go), the root of which is 'ga.'  In
restricting ourselves to the circle of Hellenic etymologies, we find
('Etymol. M.', p. 532, 12) that [Greek word] is intimately associated with
[Greek word] or rather with [Greek word], whence we have [Greek word] or
[Greek word]  Welcker ('Eine Kretische Col in Theben', s. 23 -- A Cretan
Colony in Thebes) combines with this the name [Greek word] , as in Hesychius
[Greek word] signifies a Cretan suit of arms.  When the scientific language
of Greece was introduced among the Romans, the word 'mundus', which at first
had only the primary meaning of [Greek word] (female ornament), was applied
to designate the entire universe.  Ennius seems to have been the first who
ventured upon this innovation.  In one of the fragments of this poet,
preserved by Macrobius, on the occasion of his quarrel with Virgil, we find
the word used in its novel mode of acceptation: "Mundus caeli vastus
constitit silentio" (Sat., vi., 2).  Cicero also says, "Quem nos lucentem
mundum vocamus" (Tim¾us, 'S.de univer.', cap. x.)  The Sanscrit root 'mand'
from which Pott derives the Latin 'mundus' ('Etym. Forsch.', th. i., s.
240), combines the double signification of shining and adorning.  'Loka'
designates in Sanscrit the world and people in general, in the same manner
as the French word 'monde', and is derived according to Bopp, from 'lok' (to
see and shine); it is the same with the Slavonic root 'swjet', which means
both 'light' and 'world.'  (Grimm, 'Deutsche Gramm.', b. iii., s. 394 --
German Grammar.)  The word 'welt', which the Germans make use of at the
present day, and which was 'weralt' in old German, 'worold' in old Saxon,
and 'weruld' in Anglo-Saxon, was, according to James Grimm's interpretation,
a period of time, an age ('saeculum') rather than a term used for the world
in space.  The Etruscans figured to themselves 'mundus' as an inverted dome,
symmetrically opposed to the celestial vault (Otfried Muller's 'Etrusken',
th. ii., s. 96, etc.).  Taken in a still more limited sense, the word
appears to have signified among the Goths the terrestrial surface girded by
seas ('marei, meri',) the 'merigard', literally, 'garden of seas.'

From the Italian school of philosophy, the expression passed, in this
signification, into the language of those early poets
p 71
of nature, Parmenides and Empedocles, and from thence into the works of
prose writers.  We will not here enter into a discussion of the manner in
which, according to the Pythagorean views, Philolaus distinguishes between
Olympus, Uranus, or the heavens, and Cosmos, or how the same word, used in a
plural sense, could be applied to certain heavenly bodies (the planets)
revolving round one central focus of the world, or to groups of stars.  In
this work I use the word Cosmos in conformity with the Hellenic usage of the
term subsequently to the time of Pythagorus, and in accordance with the
precise definition given of it in the treatise entitled 'De Mundo', which
was long erroneously attributed to Aristotle.  It is the assemblage of all
things in heaven and earth, the universality of created things constituting
the perceptible world.  If scientific terms had not long been diverted from
their true verbal signification, the present work ought rather to have borne
the title of 'Cosmography', divided into 'Uranography' and 'Geography.'  The
Romans, in their feeble essays on philosophy, imitated the Greeks by
applying to the universe the term 'mundus', which, in its primary meaning,
indicated nothing more than ornament, and did not even imply order or
regularity in the disposition of parts.  It is probable that the
introduction into the language of Latium of this technical term as an
equivalent for Cosmos, in its double signification, is due to Ennius,* who
was a follower of the Italian school, and the translator of the writings of
Epicharmus and some of his pupils on the Pythagorean philosophy.

[footnote]  *See, on Ennius, the ingenious researches of Leopold Krahner, in
his 'Grundlinien zur Geschichte des Verfalls der Romischen Staats-Reigion',
1837, s. 41-45 (Outlines of the History of the Decay of the Established
Religion among the Romans).  In all probability, Ennius did not quote from
writings of Epicharmus himself, but from poems composed in the name of that
philosopher, and in accordance with his views.

We would first distinguish between the physical 'history' and the physical
'description' of the world.  The former, conceived in the most general sense
of the word, ought, if materials for writing it existed, to trace the
variations experienced by the universe in the course of ages from the new
stars which have suddenly appeared and disappeared in the vault of heaven,
from nebul¾ dissolving or condensing -- to the first stratum of cryptogamic
vegetation on the still imperfectly cooled surface of the earth, or on a
reef of coral uplifted from the depths of ocean.  'The physical description
of the world' presents a picture of all that exists in space -- of the
siimultaneous action of
p 72
natural forces, together with the phenomena which they produce.

But if we would correctly comprehend nature, we must not entirely or
absolutely separate the consideration of the present state of things from
that of the successive phases through which they have passed.  We can not
form a just conception of their nature without looking back on the mode of
their formation.  It is not organic matter alone that is continually
undergoing change, and being dissolved to form new combinations.  The globe
itself reveals at every phase of its existence the mystery of its former

We can not survey the crust of our planet without recognizing the traces of
the prior existence and destruction of an organic world.  The sedimentary
rocks present a succession of organic forms, associated in groups, which
have successively displaced and succeeded each other.  The different
super-imposed strata thus display to us the faunas and floras of different
epochs.  In this sense the description of nature is intimately connected
with its history; and the geologist, who is guided by the connection
existing among the facts observed, can not form a conception of the present
without pursuing, through countless ages, the history of the past.  In
tracing the physical delineation of the globe, we behold the present and the
past reciprocally incorporated, as it were, with one another; for the domain
of nature is like that of languages, in which etymological research reveals
a successive development, by showing us the primary condition of an idiom
reflected in the forms of speech in use at the present day.  The study of
the material world renders this reflection of the past peculiarly manifest,
by displaying in the process of formation rocks of eruption and sedimentary
strata similar to those of former ages.  If I may be allowed to borrow a
striking illustration from the geological relations by which the physiognomy
of a country is determined, I would say that domes of trachyte, cones of
basalt, lava streams ('coules')of amygdaloid with elongated and parallel
pores, and white deposits of pumice, intermixed with black scoriae, animate
the scenery by the associations of the past which they awaken, acting upon
the imagination of the enlightened observer like traditional records of an
earlier world.  Their form is their history.

The sense in which the Greeks and Romans originally employed the word
'history' proves that they too were intimately convinced that, to form a
complete idea of the present state of the universe, it was necessary to
consider it in its successive
p 73
phases.  It is not, however, in the definition given by Valerius Flaccus,*
but in the zoological writings of Aristotle, that the word 'history'
presents itself as an exposition of the results of experience and

[Footnote] *Aul. Gell., 'Nect. Att.', v., 18.

The physical description of the word by Pliny the elder bears the title of
'Natural History', while in the letters of his nephew it is designated by
the nobler term of 'History of Nature.'  The earlier Greek historians did
not separate the description of countries from the narrative of events of
which they had been the theater.  With these writers, physical geography and
history were long intimately associated, and remained simply but elegantly
blended until the period of the development of political interests, when the
agitation in which the lives of men were passed caused the geographical
portion to be banished from the history of nations, and raised into an
independent science.

It remains to be considered whether by the operation of thought, we may hope
to reduce the immense diversity of phenomena comprised by the Cosmos to the
unity of a principle, and the evidence afforded by rational truths.  In the
present state of empirical knowledge, we can scarcely flatter ourselves with
such a hope.  Experimental sciences, based on the observation of the
external world, can not aspire to completeness; the nature of things, and
the imperfection of our organs, are alike opposed to it.  We shall never
succeed in exhausting the immeasurable riches of nature; and no generation
of men will ever have cause to boast of having comprehended the total
aggregation of phenomena.  It is only by distributing them into groups that
we have been able, in the case of a few, to discover the empire of certain
natural laws, grand and simple as nature itself.  The extent of this empire
will no doubt increase in proportion as physical sciences are more perfectly
developed.  Striking proofs of this advancement have been made manifest in
our own day, in the phenomena of electro-magnetism, the propagation of
luminous waves and radiating heat.  In the same manner, the fruitful
doctrine of evolution shows us how, in organic development, all that is
formed is sketched out beforehand, and how the tissues of vegetable and
animal matter uniformly arise from the multiplication and transformation of

The generalization of laws, which, being at first bounded by narrow limits,
had been applied solely to isolated groups of phenomena, acquires in time
more marked gradations, and gains in extent and certainty as long as the
process of reasoning
p 74
is applied strictly to analogous phenomena; but as soon as dynamical views
prove insufficient where the specific properties and heterogeneous nature of
matter come into play; it is to be feared that, by persisting in the pursuit
of laws, we may find our course suddenly arrested by an impassible chasm.
The principle of unity is lost sight of, and the guiding clew is rent
asunder whenever any specific and peculiar kind of action manifests itself
amid the active forces of nature.  The law of equivalents and the numerical
proportions of composition, so happily recognized by modern chemists, and
proclaimed under the ancient form of atomic symbols, still remains isolated
and independent of mathematicl laws of motion and gravitation.

Those productions of nature which are objects of direct observation may be
logically distributed in classes, orders, and families.  This form of
distribution undoubtedly sheds some light on descriptive natural history,
but the study of organized bodies, considered in their linear connection,
although it may impart a greater degree of unity and simplicity to the
distribution of groups, can not rise to the height of a classification based
on one sole principle of composition and internal organization.  As
different gradations are presented by the laws of nature according to the
extent of the horizon, or the limits of the phenomena to be considered, so
there are likewise differently graduated phases in the investigation of the
external world.  Empiricism originates in isolated views, which are
subsequently grouped according to their analogy or dissimilarity.  To direct
observation succeeds, although long afterward, the wish to prosecute
experiments; that is to say, to evoke phenomena under different determined
conditions.  The rational experimentalist does not proceed at hazard, but
acts under the guidance of hypotheses, founded on a half indistinct and more
or less just intuition of the connection existing among natural objects or
forces.  That which has been conquered by observation or by means of
experiments, leads, by analysis and induction, to the discovery of empirical
laws.  These are the phases in human intellect that have marked the
different epochs in the life of nations, and by means of which that great
mass of facts has been accumulated which constitutes at the present day the
solid basis of the natural sciences.

Two forms of abstraction conjointly regulate our knowledge, namely,
relations of 'quantity', comprising ideas of number and size, and relations
of 'quality', embracing the consideration of the specific properties and the
heterogeneous nature
p 75
of matter.  The former, as being more accessible to the exercise of thought,
appertains to mathematics; the latter, from the apparent mysteries and
greater difficulties, falls under the domain of the chemical sciences.  In
order to submit phenomena to calculation, recourse is had to a hypothetical
construction of matter by a combination of molecules and atoms, whose
number, form, position, and polarity determine, modify, or vary phenomena.

The mythical ideas long entertained of the imponderable substances and vital
forces peculiar to each mode of organization, have complicated our views
generally, and shed an uncertain light on the path we ought to pursue.

The most various forms of intuition have thus, age after age, aided in
augmenting the prodigious mass of empirical knowledge, which, in our own day
has been enlarged with ever-increasing rapidity.  The investigating spirit
of man strives from time to time, with varying success, to break through
those ancient forms and symbols invented, to subject rebellious matter to
rules of mechanical construction.

We are still very far from the time when it will be possible for us to
reduce, by the operation of thought, all that we perceive by the senses, to
the unity of a rational principle.  It may even be doubted if such a victory
could ever be achieved in the field of natural philosophy.  The complication
of phenomena, and of the vast extent of the Cosmos, would seem to oppose
such a result; but even a partial solution of the problem -- the tendency
toward a comprehension of the phenomena of the universe -- will not the less
remain the eternal and sublime aim of every investigation of nature.

In conformity with the character of my former writings, as well as with the
labors in which I have been engaged during my scientific career, in
measurements, experiments, and the investigation of facts, I limit myself to
the domain of empirical ideas.

The exposition of mutually connected facts does not exclude the
classification of phenomena according to their rational connection, the
generalization of many specialities in the great mass of observations, or
the attempt to discover laws.  Conceptions of the universe solely based upon
reason, and the principles of speculative philosophy, would no doubt assign
a still more exalted aim to the science of the Cosmos.  I am far from
blaming the efforts of others solely because their success has hitherto
remained very doubtful.  Contrary to the wishes and counsel of of those
profound and powerful thinkers who
p 76
have given new life to speculations which were already familiar to the
ancients, systems of natural philosophy have in our own country for some
time past turned aside the minds of men from the graver study of
mathematical and physical sciences.  The abuse of better powers, which has
led many of our noble but ill-judging youth into the saturnalia of a purely
ideal science of nature, has been signalized by the intoxication of
pretended conquests, by a novel and fantastically symbolical phraseology,
and by a predilection for the formulae of a scholastic rationalism, more
contracted in its views than any known to the Middle Ages.  I use the
expression "abuse of better powers," because superior intellects devoted to
philosophical pursuits and experimental sciences have remained strangers to
these saturnalia.  The results yielded by an earnest investigation in the
path of experiment can not be at variance with a true philosophy of nature.
If there be any contradiction, the fault must lie either in the unsoundness
of speculation, or in the exaggerated pretensions of empiricism, which
thinks that more is proved by experiment than is actually derivable from it.

External nature may be opposed to the intellectual world, as if the latter
were not comprised within the limits of the former, or nature may be opposed
to art when the latter is defined as a manifestation of the intellectual
power of man; but these contrasts, which we find reflected in the most
cultivated languages, must not lead us to separate the sphere of nature from
that of mind, since such a separation would reduce the physical science of
the world to a mere aggregation of empirical specialities.  Science does not
present itself to man until mind conquers matter in striving to subject the
result of experimental investigation to rational combinations.  Science is
the labor of mind applied to nature, but the external world has no real
existence for us beyond the image reflected within ourselves through the
medium of the senses.  As intelligence and forms of speech, thought and its
verbal symbols, are united by secret and indissoluble links, so does the
external world blend almost unconsciously to ourselves with our ideas and
feelings.  "External phenomena," says Hegel, in his 'Philosophy of History',
"are in some degree translated in our inner representations."  The objective
world, conceived and reflected within us by thought, is subjected to the
eternal and necessary conditions of our intellectual being.  The activity of
the mind exercises itself on the elements furnished to it by the perceptions
of the senses.  Thus, in the
p 77
early ages of mankind, there manifests itself in the simple intuition of
natural facts, and in the efforts made to comprehend them, the germ of the
philosophy of nature.  These ideal tendencies vary, and are more or less
powerful, according to the individual characteristics and moral dispositions
of nations, and to the degrees of their mental culture, whether attained
amid scenes of nature that excite or chill the imagination.

History has preserved the record of the numerous attempts that have been
made to form a rational conception of the whole world of phenomena, and to
recognize in the universe the action of one sole active force by which
matter is penetrated, transformed, and animated.  These attempts are traced
in classical antiquity in those treatises on the principles of things which
emanated from the Ionian school, and in which all the phenomena of nature
were subjected to hazardous speculations, based upon a small number of
observations.  By degrees, as the influence of great historical events has
favored the development of every branch of science supported by observation,
that ardor has cooled which formerly led men to seek the essential nature
and connection of things by ideal construction and in purely rational
principles.  In recent times, the mathematical portion of natural philosophy
has been most remarkably and admirably enlarged.  The method and the
instrument (analysis) have been simultaneously perfected.  That which has
been acquired by means so different -- by the ingenious application of
atomic suppositions, by the more general and intimate study of phenomena,
and by the improved construction of new apparatus -- is the common property
of mankind, and shouldnot, in our opinion, now, more than in ancient times,
be withdrawn from the free exercise of speculative thought.

It can not be denied that in this process of thought, the results of
experience have had to contend with many disadvantages; we must not,
therefore, be surprised if, in the perpetual vicissitude of theoretical
views, as is ingeniously expressed by the author of 'Giordano Bruno', "most
men see nothing in philosophy but a succession of passing meteors, while
even the grander forms in which she has revealed herself share the fate of
comets, bodies that do not rank in popular opinion among the eternal and
permanent works of nature,
p 78
but are regarded as mere fugitive apparitions of igncor vapor."

[Footnote]  *Schelling's Bruno, 'eber das Gottliche und Naturaliche Princip.
der Dinge', 181 (Bruno, on the 'Divine and Natural Principle of Things')

We would here remark that the abuse of thought, and the false track it too
often pursues, ought not to sanction an opinion derogatory to the intellect,
which would imply that the domain of mind is essentially a world of vague
fantastic illusions, and that the treasures accumulated by laborious
observations in philosophy are powers hostile to its own empire.  It does
not become the spirit which characterizes the present age distrustfully to
reject every generalization of views and every attempt to examine into the
nature of things by the process of reason and induction.  It would be a
denial of the dignity of human nature and the relative importance of the
faculties with which we are endowed, were we to condemn at one time austere
reason engaged in investigating causes and their natural connections, and at
another that exercise of the imagination which prompts and excites
discoveries by its creative powers.

This material taken from pages 79 to 111

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p 79




WHEN the human mind first attempts to subject to its control the world of
physical phenomena, and strives by meditative contemplation to penetrate the
rich luxuriance of living nature, and the mingled web of free and restricted
natural forces, man feels himself raised to a height from whence, as he
embraces the vast horizon, individual things blend together in varied
groups, and appear as if shrouded in a vapory
 vail.  These figurative expressions are used in order to illustrate the
point of view from whence we would consider the universe both in its
celestial and terrestrial sphere.  I am not insensible of the boldness of
such an undertaking.  Among all the forms of exposition to which these pages
are devoted, there is none more difficult than the general delineation of
nature, which we purpose sketching, since we must not allow ourselves to be
overpowered by a sense of the stupendous richness and variety of the forms
presented to us, but must dwell only on the consideration of masses either
possessing actual magnitude, or borrowing its semblance from the
associations awakened within the subjective sphere of ideas.  It is by a
separation and classification of phenomena by an intuitive insight into the
play of obscure forces, and by animated expressions, in which the
perceptible spectacle is reflected with vivid truthfulness, that we may hope
to comprehend and describe the 'universal all' [Greek words] in a manner
worthy of the dignity of the word 'Cosmos' in its signification of
'universe, order of the world', and 'adornment' of this universal order.
May the immeasurable diversity of phenomena which crowd into the picture of
nature in no way detract from that harmonious impression of rest and unity
which is the ultimate object of every literary or purely artistical

Beginning with the depths of space and the regions of remotest nebulae, we
will gradually descend through the starry zone to which our solar system
belongs, to our own terrestrial spheroid, circled by air and ocean, there to
direct our attention
p 80
to its form, temperature, and magnetic tension, and to consider the fullness
of organic life unfolding itself upon its surface beneath the vivifying
influence of light.  In this manner a picture of the world may, with a few
strokes, be made to include the realms of infinity no less than the minute
microscopic animal and vegetable organisms which exist in standing waters
and on the weather-beaten surface of our rocks.  All that can be perceived
by the senses, and all that has been accumulated up to the present day by an
attentive and variously directed study of nature, constitute the materials
from which this representation is to be drawn, whose character is an
evidence of its fidelity and truth.  But the descriptive picture of nature
which we purpose drawing must not enter too fully into detail, since a
minute enumeration of all vital forms, natural objects, and processes is not
requisite to the completeness of the undertaking.  The delineator of nature
must resist the tendency toward endless division, in order to avoid the
dangers presented by the very abundance of our empirical knowledge.  A
considerable portion of the qualitative properties of matter -- or, to speak
more in accordance with the language of natural philosophy, of the
qualitative expression of forces -- is doubtlessly still unknown to us, and
the attempt perfectly to represent unity in diversity must therefore
necessarily prove unsuccessful.  Thus, besides the pleasure derived and
tinged with a shade of sadness, an unsatisfied longing for something beyond
the present -- a striving toward regions yet unknown and unopened.  Such a
sense of longing binds still faster the links which, in accordance with the
supreme laws of our being, connect the material with the ideal world, and
animates the mysterious relation existing between that which the mind
receives from without, and that which it reflects from its own depths to the
external world.  If, then, nature (understanding by the term all natural
objects and phenomena) be illimitable in extent and contents, it likewise
presents itself to the human intellect as a problem which can not be
grasped, and whose solution is impossible, since it requires a knowledge of
the combined action of all natural forces.  Such an acknowledgement is due
where the actual state and prospective development of phenomena constitute
the sole objects of direct investigation, which does not venture to depart
from the strict rules of induction.  But, although the incessant effort to
embrace nature in its universality may remain unsatisfied, the history of
the contemplation of the universe (which
p 81
will be considered in another part of this work) will teach us how, in the
course of ages, mankind has gradually attained to a partial insight into the
relative dependence of phenomena.  My duty is to depict the results of our
knowledge in all their bearings with reference to the present.  In all that
is subject to motion and change in space, the ultimate aim, the very
expression of physical laws, depend upon 'mean numerical values', which show
us the constant amid change, and the stable amid apparent fluctuations of
phenomena.  Thus the progress of modern physical science is especially
characterized by the attainment and the rectification of the mean values of
certain quantities by means of the processes of weighing and measuring; and
it may be said, that the only remaining and widely-diffused hieroglyphic
characters still in our writing -- 'numbers' -- appear to us again, as
powers of the Cosmos, although in a wider sense than that applied to them by
the Italian School.

The earnest investigator delights in the simplicity of numerical relations,
indicating the dimensions of the celestial regions, the magnitudes and
periodical disturbances of the heavenly bodies, the triple elements of
terrestrial magnetism, the mean pressure of the atmosphere, and the quantity
of heat which the sun imparts in each year, and in every season of the year,
to all points of the solid and liquid surface of our planet.  These sources
of enjoyment do not, however, satisfy the poet of Nature, or the mind of the
inquiring many.  To both of these the present state of science appears as a
blank, now that she answers doubtingly, or wholly rejects as unanswerable,
questions to which former ages deemed they could furnish satisfactory
replies.  In her severer aspect, and clothed with less luxuriance, she shows
herself deprived of that seductive charm with which a dogmatizing and
symbolizing physical philosophy knew how to deceive the understanding and
give the rein to imagination.  Long before the discovery of the New World,
it was believed that new lands in the Far West might be seen from the shores
of the Canaries and the Azores.  These illusive images were owing, not to
any extraordinary refraction of the rays of light, but produced by an eager
longing for the distant and the unattained.  The philosophy of the Greeks,
the physical views of the Middle Ages, and even those of a more recent
period, have been eminently imbued with the charm springing from similar
illusive phantoms of the imagination.  At the limits of circumscribed
knowledge, as from some lofty island shore, the eye delights to penetrate
p 82
to distant regions.  The belief in the uncommon and the wonderful lends a
definite outline to every manifestation of ideal creation; and the realm of
fancy -- a fairy-land of cosmological, geognostical, and magnetic visions --
becomes thus involuntarily blended with the domain of reality.

Nature, in the manifold signification of the word -- whether considered as
the universality of all that is and ever will be -- as the inner moving
force of all phenomena, or as their mysterious prototype -- reveals itself
to the simple mind and feelings of man as something earthly, and closely
allied to himself.  It is only within the animated circles of organic
structure that we feel ourselves peculiarly at home.  Thus, wherever the
earth unfolds her fruits and flowers, and gives food to countless tribes of
animals, there the image of nature impresses itself most vividly upon our
senses.  The impression thus produced upon our minds limits itself almost
exclusively to the reflection of the earthly.  The starry vault and the wide
expanse of the heavens belong to a picture of the universe, in which the
magnitude of masses, the number of congregated suns and faintly glimmering
nebulae, although they excite our wonder and astonishment, manifest
themselves to us in apparent isolation, and as utterly devoid of all
evidence of their being the scenes of organic life.  Thus, even in the
earliest physical views of mankind, heaven and earth have been separated and
opposed to one another as an upper and lower portion of space.  If, then, a
picture of nature were to correspond to the requirements of contemplation by
the senses, it ought to begin with a delineation of our native earth.  It
should depict, first, the terrestrial planet as to its size and form; its
increasing density and heat at increasing depths in its superimposed solid
and liquid strate; the separation of sea and land, and the vital forms
animating both, developed in the cellular tissues of plants and animals; the
atmospheric ocean, with its waves and currents, through which pierce the
forest-crowned summits of our mountain chains.  After this delineation of
purely telluric relations, the eye would rise to the celestial regions, and
the Earth would then, as the well-known seat of organic development, be
considered as a planet, occupying a place in the series of those heavenly
bodies which circle round one of the innumerable host of self-luminous
stars.  This succession of ideas indicates the course pursued in the
earliest stages of perceptive contemplation, and reminds us of the ancient
conception of the "sea-girt disk of earth," supporting the vault of heaven.
It begins to exercise in action
p 83
at the spot where it originated, and passes from the consideration of the
known to the unknown, of the near to the distant.  It corresponds with the
method pursued in our elementary works on astronomy (and which is so
admirable in a mathematical point of view), of proceeding from the apparent
to the real movements of the heavenly bodies.

Another course of ideas must, however, be pursued in a work which proposes
merely to give an exposition of what is known -- of what may in the present
state of our knowledge be regarded as certain, or as merely probable in a
greater or lesser degree -- and does not enter into a consideration of the
proofs on which such results have been based.  Here, therefore, we do not
proceed from the subjective point of view of human interests.  The
terrestrial must be treated only as grand and free, uninfluenced by motives
of proximity, social sympathy, or relative utility.  A physical cosmography
-- a picture of the universe -- does not begin, therefore, with the picture
of the universe -- does not begin, therefore, with the terrestrial, but with
that which fills the regions of space.  But as the sphere of contemplation
contracts in dimension our perception of the richness of individual parts,
the fullness of physical phenomena, and of the heterogeneous properties of
matter becomes enlarged.  From the regions in which we recognize ony the
dominion of the laws of attraction, we descend to our own planet, and to the
intricate play of terrestrial forces.  The method here described for the
delineation of nature is opposed to that which mst be pursued in
establishing conclusive results.  The one enumerates what the other

Man learns to know the external world through the organs of the senses.
Phenomena of light proclaim the existence of matter in remotest space, and
the eye is thus made the medium through which we may contemplate the
universe.  The discovery of telescopic vision more than two centuries ago,
has transmitted to latest generations a power whose limits are as yet

The first and most general consideration of the Cosmos is that of the
'contents of space' -- the distribution of matter, or of creation, as we are
wont to designate the assemblage of all that is and ever will be developed.
We see matter either agglomerated into rotating, revolving spheres of
different density and size, or scattered through space in the form of
self-luminous vapor.  If we consider first the cosmical vapor dispersed in
definite nebulous spots, its state of aggregation will
p 84
appear constantly to vary, sometimes appearing separated into round or
elliptical disks, single or in pairs, occasionally connected by a thread of
light; while, at another time, these nebulae occur in forms of larger
dimensions, and are either elongated, or variously branched or fan-shaped or
appear like well-defined rings, including a dark interior.  It is
conjectured that these bodies are undergoing variously developed formative
processes, as the cosmical vapor becomes condensed in conformity with the
laws of attraction, either round one or more of the nuclei.  Between two and
three thousand of such unresolvable nebulae, in which the most powerful
telescopes have hitherto been unable to distinguish the presence of stars,
have been counted, and their positions determined.

The genetic evolution -- that perpetual state of development which seems to
affect this portion of the regions of space -- has led philosophical
observers to the discovery of the analogy existing among organic phenomena.
As in our forests we see the same kind of tree in all the various stages of
its growth, and are thus enabled to form an idea of progressive, vital
development, so do we also in the great garden of the universe, recognise
the most different phases of sidereal formation.  The process of
condensation, which formed a part of the doctrines of Anaximenes and of the
Ionian School, appears to be going on before our eyes.  This subject of
investigation and conjecture is especially attractive to the imagination,
for in the study of the animated circles of nature, and of the action of all
the moving forces of the universe, the charm that exercises the most
powerful influence on the mind is derived less from a knowledge of that
which 'is' than from a perception of that which 'will be', even though the
latter be nothing more than a new condition of a known material existence;
for of actual creation, of origin, the beginning of existence from
non-existence, we have no experience, and can therefore form no conception.

A comparison of the various causes influencing the development manifested by
the greater or less degree of condensation in the interior of nebulae, no
less than a successive course of direct observations, have led to the belief
that changes of form have been recognized first in Andromeda, next in the
constallation Argo, and in the isolated filamentous portion of the nebula in
Orion.  But want of uniformity in the power of the instruments employed,
different conditions of our atmosphere, and other optical relations, render
a part of the results invalid as historical evidence.

p 85
'Nebulous stars' must not be confounded either with irregularly-shaped
nebulous spots, properly so called, whose separate parts have an unequal
degree of brightness (and which may, perhaps, become concentrated into stars
as their circumference contracts), nor with the so-called planetary nebulae,
whose circular or slightly oval disks manifest in all their parts a
perfectly uniform degree of faint light.  'Nebulous stars' are not merely
accidental bodies projected upon a nebulous ground, but are a part of the
nebulous matter constituting one mass with the body which it surrounds.  The
not unfrequently considerable magnitude of their apparent diameter, and the
remote distance from which they are revealed to us, show that both the
planetary nebulae and the nebulous stars must be of enormous dimensions.
New and ingenious considerations of the different influence exercised by
distance* on the intensity of light of a disk of appreciable diameter, and
of a single self-luminous point, render it not improbable that the planetary
nebulae are very remote nebulous stars, in which the difference between the
central body and the surrounding nebulous covering can no longer be detected
by our telescopic instruments.

[footnote]  *  The optical considerations relative to the difference
presented by a single luminous point, and by a disk subtending an
appreciable angle, in which the intensity of light is constant at every
distance, are explained in Arago's 'Analyse des Travaux de Sir William
Herschel' ('Annuaire du Bureau des Long.', 1842, p. 410-412, and 441).

The magnificent zones of the southern heavens, between 50 degrees and 80
degrees, are especially rich in nebulous stars, and in compressed
unresolvable nebua e.  The larger of the two Magellanic clouds, which circle
round the starless, desert pole of the south, appears, according to the most
recent researches,* as "a collection of clusters of stars, composed of
globular clusters and nebulae of different magnitude, and of large nebulous

p 86
not resolvable, which, producing a general brightness in the field of view,
form, as it were, the back-ground of the picture."

[footnote]  *The two Magellanic clouds, Nubecula major and Nubecula minor,
are very remarkable objects.  The larger of the two is an accumulated mass
of stars, and consists of clusters of stars of irregular form, either
conical masses or nebulae of different magnitudes and degrees of
condensation.  This is interspersed with nebulous spots, not resolvable into
stars, but which are probably 'star dust', appearing only as a general
radiance upon the telescopic field of a twenty-feet reflector, and forming a
luminous ground on which other objects of striking and indescribable form
are scattered.  In no other portion of the heavens are so many nebulous and
stellar masses thronged together in an equally small space.  Nubecula minor
is much less beautiful, has more unresolvable nebulous light, while the
stellar masses are fewer and fainter in intensity. -- (From a letter of Sir
John Herschel, Feldhuysen, Cape of Good Hope, 13th June, 1836.)

The appearance of these clouds, of the brightly-beaming constellation Argo,
of the Milky Way between Scorpio, the Centaur, and the Southern Cross, the
picturesque beauty, if one may so speak, of the whole expanse of the
southern celestial hemisphere, has left upon my mind an ineffaceable
impression.  The zodiacal light, which rises in a pyramidal form, and
constantly contributes, by its mild radiance, to the external beauty of the
tropical nights, is either a vast nebulous ring, rotating between the Earth
and Mars, or, less probably, the exterior stratum of the solar atmosphere.
Besides these luminous clouds and nebulae of definite form, exact and
corresponding observations indicate the existence and the general
distribution of an apparently non-luminous, infinitely-divided matter, which
posssesses a force of resistance and manifests its presence in Encke's, and
perhaps also in Biela's comet, by diminishing their eccentricity and
shortening their period of revolution.  Of this impending, ethereal, and
cosmical matter, it may be supposed that it is in motion; that it
gravitates, notwithstanding its original tenuity; that it is condensed in
the vicinity of the great mass of the Sun; and, finally, that it may, for
myriads of ages, have been augmented by the vapor emanating from the tails
of comets.

If we now pass from the consideration of the vaporous matter of the
immeasurable regions of space [(Greek)*] -- whether scattered without
definite form and limits, it exists as a cosmical other, or is condensed
into nebulous spots, and becomes comprised among the solid agglomerated
bodies of the universe -- we approach a class of phenomena exclusively
designated by the form of stars, or as the sidereal world.

[footnote]  *I should have made use, in the place of garden of the universe,
of the beautiful expression [Greek], borrowed by Hesychius from an unknown
poet, if [Greek] had not rather signified in general an inclosed space.  The
connection with the German 'garten' and the English 'garden', 'gards' in
Gothic (derived according to Jacob Grimm, from 'gairdan', 'to gird'), is,
however, evident, as is likewise the affinity with the Slavonic 'grad',
'gorod', and as Pott remarks, in his 'Etymol. Forschungen', th. i., s. 144
(Etymol. Researches), with the Latin 'chors', whence we have the Spanish
'corte', the French 'cour', and the English word 'court', together with the
Ossetic 'khart'.  To these may be further added the Scandinavian 'gard',**
'gard', a place inclosed, as a court, or a country seat, and the Persian
'gerd', 'gird', a district, a circle, a princely country seat, a castle or
city, as we find the term applied to the names of places in Firdusi's
Schahnameh, as 'Siyawakschgird', 'Darabgird', etc.

** (This word is written 'gaard' in the Danish) -- Tr.

p 87
Here, too, we find differences existing in the solidity or density of the
spheroidally agglomerated matter.  Our own solar system presents all stages
of 'mean' density (or of the relation of 'volume' to 'mass'.)  On comparing
the planets from Mercury to Mars with the Sun and with Jupiter, and these
two last named with the yet inferior density of Saturn, we arrive, by a
descending scale -- to draw our illustration from the terrestrial substances
-- at the respective densities of antimony, honey, water, and pine wood.  In
comets, which actually constitute the most considerable portion of our solar
system with respect to the number of individual forms, the concentrated
part, usually termed the 'head', or 'nucleus', transmits sidereal light
unimpaired.  The mass of a comet probably in no case equals the five
thousandth part of that of the earth, so dissimilar are the formative
processes manifested in the original and perhaps still progressive
agglomerations of matter.  In proceeding from general to special
considerations, it was particularly desirable to draw attention to this
diversity, not merely as a possible, but as an actually proved fact.

The purely speculative conclusions arrived at by Wright, Kant, and Lambert,
concerning the general structural arrangement of the universe, and of the
distribution of matter in space, have been confirmed by Sir William
Herschel, on the more certain path of observation and measurement.  That
great and enthusiastic, although cautious observer, was the first to sound
the depths of heaven in order to determine the limits and form of the starry
stratum which we inhabit, and he, too, was the first who ventured to throw
the light of investigation upon the relations existing between the position
and distance of remote nebulae and our own portion of the sidereal universe.
 William Herschel, as is well expressed in the elegant inscription on his
monument at Upton, broke through the inclosures of heaven ('caelorum
perrupit claustra'), and, like another Columbus, penetrated into an unknown
ocean, from which he beheld coasts and groups of islands, whose true
position it remains for future ages to determine.

Considerations regarding the different intensity of light in stars, and
their relative number, that is to say, their numerical frequency on
telescopic fields of equal magnitude, have led to the assumption of unequal
distances and distribution in space in the strata which they compose.  Such
assumptions, in as far as they may lead us to draw the limits of the
individual portions of the universe, can not offer the same degree of
mathematical certainty as that which may be attained in all that
p 88
relates to our solar system, whether we consider the rotation of double
stars with unequal velocity round one common center of gravity, or the
apparent or true movements of all the heavenly bodies.  If we take up the
physical description of the universe from the remotest nebulae, we may be
inclined to compare it with the mythical portions of history.  The one
begins in the obscurity of antiquity, the other in that of inaccessible
space; and at the point where reality seems to flee before us, imagination
becomes doubly incited to draw from its own fullness, and give definite
outline and permanence to the changing forms of objects.

If we compare the regions of the universe with one of the island-studded
seas of our own planet, we may imagine matter to be distributed in groups,
either as unresolvable nebulae of different ages, condensed around one or
more nuclei, or as already agglomerated into clusters of stars, or isolated
spheroidal bodies.  The cluster of stars, to which our cosmical island
belongs, forms a lens-shaped, flattened stratum, detached on every side,
whose major axis is estimated at seven or eight hundred, and its minor one
at a hundred and fifty times the distance of Sirius.  It would appear, on
the supposition that the parallax of Sirius is not greater than that
accurately determined for the brightest star in the Centaur (0".9128), that
light traverses one distance of Sirius in three years, while it also
follows, from Bessel's earlier excellent Memoir* on the parallax of the
remarkable star 61 Cygni (0".3483), (whose considerable motion might lead to
the inference of great proximity), that a period of nine years and a quarter
is required for the transmission of light from this star to our planet.

[footnote]  *See Maclear's "Results from 1839 to 1840," in the 'Trans. of
the Astronomical Soc.', vol. xii., p. 370, on 'a' Centauri, the probable
mean error being 0".0649.  For 61 Cygni, see Bessel, in Schumacher's
'Jahrbuch', 1839, s. 47, and Schumacher's 'Astron. Nachr.', bd. xviii., s.
401, 402, probable mean error, 0".0141.  With reference to the relative
distances of stars of different magnitudes, how those of the third magnitude
may probably be three times more remote, and the manner in which we
represent to ourselves the material arrangement of the starry strata, I have
found the following remarkable passage in Kepler's 'Epitome Astronomiae
Copernicanae', 1618, t. i., lib. 1, p. 34-39:  "Sol hic noster nil aliud est
quam una ex fixis, nobis major et clarior visa, quia propior quam fixa.
Pone terram stare ad latus, una semi-diametro via e lactea e, tunc ha ec via
lactea apparebit circulus parvus, vel ellipsis parva, tota declinans ad
latus alterum; eritque simul uno intuitu conspicua, quae nunc no potest nisi
dimidia conspici quovis momento.  Itaque fix arum spha era non tantum orbe
stellarum, sed etiam circulo lactis versus not deorsum est terminata."

Our starry stratum is a disk of inconsiderable thickness, divided a
p 89
third of its length into two branches; it is supposed that we are near this
division, and nearer to the region of Sirius than to the constellation
Aquila, almost in the middle of the stratum in the line of its thickness or
minor axis.

This position of our solar system, and the form of the whole discoidal
stratum, have been inferred from sidereal scales, that is to say, from that
method of counting the stars to which I have already alluded, and which is
based upon the equidistant subdivision of the telescopic field of view.  The
relative depth of the stratum in all directions is measured by the greater
or smaller number of stars appearing in each division.  These divisions give
the length of the ray of vision in the same manner as we measure the depth
to which the plummet has been thrown, before it reaches the bottom, although
in the case of a starry stratum there can not, correctly speaking, be any
idea of depth, but merely of outer limits.  In the direction of the longer
axis, where the stars lie behind one another, the more remote ones appear
closely crowded together, united, as it were, by a milky-white radiance or
luminous vapor, and are perspectively grouped, encircling as in a zone, the
visible vault of heaven.  This narrow and branched girdle, studded with a
radiant light, and here and there interrupted by dark spots, deviates only
by a few degrees from forming a perfect large circle round the concave
sphere of heaven, owing to our being near the center of the large starry
cluster, and almost on the plane of the Milky Way.  If our planetary system
were far 'outside' this cluster, the Milky Way would appear to telescopic
vision as a ring, and at a still greater distance as a resolvable discoidal

Among the many self-luminous moving suns, erroneously called 'fixed stars',
which constitute our cosmical island, our own sun is the only one known by
direct observation to be a 'central body' in its relations to spherical
agglomerations of matter directly depending upon and revolving round it,
either in the form of planets, comets, or aerolite asteroids.  As far as we
have hitherto been able to investigate 'multiple' stars (double stars or
suns), these bodies are not subject, with respect to relative motion and
illumination, to the same planetary dependence that characterizes our own
solar system.  Two or more self-luminous bodies, whose planets and moon, if
such exist, have hitherto escaped our telescopic powers of vision, certainly
revolve around one common center of gravity; but this is in a portion of
space which is probably occupied merely by unagglomerated matter or cosmical
vapor, while in our system
p 90
the center of gravity is often comprised within the innermost limits of a
'visible' central body.  If, therefore, we regard the Sun and the Earth, or
the Earth and the Moon, as double-stars, and the whole of our planetary
solar system as a multiple cluster of stars, the analogy thus suggested must
be limited to the universality of the laws of attraction in different
systems, being alike applicable to the independent processes of light and to
the method of illumination.

For the generalization of cosmical views, corresponding with the plan we
have proposed to follow in giving a delineation of nature or of the
universe, the solar system to which the Earth belongs may be considered in a
two-fold relation:  first, with respect to the different classes of
individually agglomerated matter, and the relative size, conformation,
density, and distance of the heavenly bodies of this system; and secondly,
with reference to other portions of our starry cluster, and of the changes
of position of its central body, the Sun.

The solar system, that is to say, the variously-formed matter circling round
the Sun, consists, according to the present state of our knowledge of
'eleven primary planets',* eighteen satellites
p 91
or secondary planets, and myriads of comets, three of which, known as the
"planetary comets," do not pass beyond the narrow limits of the orbits
described by the principal planets.

[footnote]  * (Since the publication of Baron Humboldt's work in 1845,
several other planets have been discovered, making the number of those
belonging to our planetary system 'sixteen' instead of 'eleven'.  Of these,
Astrea, Hebe, Flora, and Iris are members of the remarkable group of
asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.  Astrea and Hebe were discovered by
Hencke at Driesen, the one in 1846 and the other in 1847; Flora and Iris
were both discovered in 1847 by Mr. Hind, at the South Villa Observatory,
Regent's Park.  It would appear from the latest determinations of their
elements, that the small planets have the following order with respect to
mean distance from the Sun:  Flora, Iris, Vesta, Hebe, Astrea, Juno, Ceres,
Pallas.  Of these, Flora has the shortest period (about 3 1/4 years).  The
planet Neptune, which, after having been predicted by several astronomers,
was actually observed on the 25th of September, 1846, is situated on the
confines of our planetary system beyond Uranus.  The discovery of this
planet is not only highly interesting from the importance attached to it as
a question of science, but also from the evidence it affords of the care and
unremitting labor evinced by modern astronomers in the investigation and
comparison of the older calculations, and the ingenious application of the
results thus obtained to the observation of new facts.  The merit of having
paved the way for the discovery of the planet Neptune is due to M. Bouvard,
who, in his persevering and assiduous efforts to deduce the entire orbit of
Uranus from observations made during the forty years that succeeded the
discovery of that planet in 1781, found the results yielded by theory to be
at variance with fact, in a degree that had no parallel in the history of
astronomy.  This startling discrepancy, which seemed only to gain additional
weight from every attempt made by M. Bouvard to correct his calculations,
led Leverrier, after a careful modification of the tables of Bouvard, to
establish the proposition that there was "a formal incompatibility between
the observed motions of Uranus and the hypothesis that he was acted on
'only' by the Sun and known planets, according to the law of universal
gravitation."  Pursuing this idea, Leverrier arrived at the conclusion that
the disturbing cause must be a 'planet', and finally, after an amount of
labor that seems perfectly overwhelming, he, on the 31st of August, 1846,
laid before the French Institute a paper, in which he indicated the exact
spot in the heavens where this new planetary body would be found, giving the
following data for its various elements:  mean distance from the Sun, 36.154
times that of the Earth; period of revolution, 217.387 years; mean long.,
Jan. 1st, 1847, 318 degrees 47'; mass, 1/9300th; heliocentric long., Jan
1st1847, 326 degrees 32'.  Essential difficulties still intervened, however,
and as the remoteness of the planet rendered it improbable that its disk
would be discernible by any telescopic instrument, no other means remained
for detecting the suspected body but its planetary motion, which could only
be ascertained by mapping, after every observation, the quarter of the
heavens scanned, and by a comparison of the various maps.  Fortunately for
the verification of Leverrier's predictions, Dr. Bremiker had just completed
a map of the precise region in which it was expected the new planet would
apper, this being one of a series of maps made for the Academy of Berlin, of
the small stars along the entire zodiac.  By means of this valuable
assistance, Dr. Galle, of the Berlin Observatory, was led, on the 25th of
September, 1846, by the discovery of a star of the eighth magnitude, not
recorded in Dr. Bremiker's map, to make the first observation of the planet
predicted by Leverrier.  By a singular coincidence, Mr. Adams, of Cambridge,
had predicted the appearance of the planet simultaneously with M. Leverrier;
but by the concurrence of several circumstances much to be regretted, the
world at large were not made acquainted with Mr. Adams's valuable discovery
until subsequently to the period at which Leverrier published his
observations.  As the data of Leverrier and Adams stand at present, there is
a discrepancy between the predicted and the true distance, and in some other
elements of the planet; it remains therefore, for these or future
astronomers to reconcile theory with fact, or perhaps, as in the case of
Uranus, to make the new planet the means of leading to yet greater
discoveries.  It would appear from the most recent observations, that the
mass of Neptune, instead of being, as at first stated, 1/9300th, is only
about 1/23000th that of the Sun, while its periodic time is now given with a
greater probability at 166 years, and its mean distance from the Sun nearly
30.  The planet appears to have a ring, but as yet no accurate observations
have been made regarding its system of satellites.  See 'Trans. Astron.
Soc.', and 'The Planet Neptune', 1848, by J. P. Nicholl.) -- Tr.

We may, with no incondsiderable degree of probability, include within the
domain of our Sun, in the immediate sphere of its central force, a rotating
ring of vaporous matter, lying probably between the orbits of Venus and
Mars, but certainly beyond that of the Earth,* which appears to us in
p 92
a pyramidal form, and is known as the 'Zodiacal Light'; and a host of very
small asteroids, whose orbits either intersect, or very nearly approach,
that of our earth, and which present us with the phenomena of aerolites and
falling or shooting stars.

[footnote]  * "If there should be molecules in the zones diffused by the
atmosphere of the Sun of too volatile a nature either to combine with one
another or with the planets, we must suppose that they would, in circling
round that luminary, present all the appearances of zodiacal light, without
opposing any appreciable resistance to the different bodies composing the
planetary system, either owing to their extreme rarity, or to the similarity
existing between their motion and that of the planets with which they come
in contact." -- Laplace, 'Expos. du Syst. du Monde' (ed. 5), p. 415.

When we consider the complication of variously-formed bodies which revolve
round the Sun in orbits of such dissimilar eccentricity--although we may not
be disposed, with the immortal author of the 'Mecanique Celeste', to regard
the largr number of comets as nebulous stars, passing from one central
system to another,* we yet can not fail to acknowledge that the planetary
system, especially so called (that is, the group of heavenly bodies which,
together with their satellites, revolve with but slightly eccentric orbits
round the Sun), constitutes but a small portion of the whole system with
respect to individual numbers, if not to mass.

[footnote]  *Laplace, 'Exp. du Syst. du Monde', p. 396, 414.

It has been proposed to consider the telescopic planets, Vesta, Juno, Ceres,
and Pallas, with their more closely intersecting, inclined, and eccentric
orbits, as a zone of separation, or as a middle group in space; and if this
view be adopted, we shall discover that the interior planetary group
(consisting of Mercury, Venus, the Earth, and Mars) presents several very
striking contrasts* when compared with the exterior group, comprising
Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus.

[footnote] *Littrow, 'Astronomie', 1825, bd.xi., 107.  MŠdler, 'Astron.',
1841, ¤ 212.  Laplace, 'Exp. du Syst. du Monde', p. 210.

The planets nearest the Sun, and consequently included in the inner group,
are of more moderate size, denser, rotate more slowly and with nearly equal
velocity (their periods of revolution being almost all about 24 hours), are
less compressed at the poles, and with the exception of one, are without
satellites.  The exterior planets, which are further removed from the Sun,
are very considerably larger, have a density five times less, more than
twice as great a velocity in the period of their rotation round their axes,
are more compressed at the poles, and if six satellites may be ascribed to
Uranus, have a quantitative preponderance in the number of their attendant
moons, which is as seventeen to one.

p 93
Such general considerations regarding certain characteristic properties
appertaining to whole groups, can not, however, be applied with equal
justice to the individual planets of every group, nor to the relations
between the distances of the revolving planets from the central body, and
their absolute size, density, period or rotation, eccentricity, and the
inclination of their orbits and the axes.  We know as yet of no inherent
necessity,  no mechanical natural law, similar to the one which teaches us
that the squares of the periodic times are proportional to the cubes of the
major axes, by which the above-named six elements of the planetary bodies
and the form of their orbit are made dependent either on one another, or on
their mean distance from the Sun.  Mars is smaller than the Earth and Venus,
although further removed from the Sun than these last-named planets,
approaching most nearly in size to Mercury, the nearest planet to the Sun.
Saturn is smaller than Jupiter, and yet much larger than Uranus.  The zone
of the telescopic planets, which have so inconsiderable a volume,
immediately procede Jupiter (the greatest in size of any of the planetary
bodies), if we consider them with regard to distance from the Sun; and yet
the disks of these small asteroids, which scarcely admit of measurement,
have an areal surface not much more than half that of France, Madagascar, or
Borneo.  However striking may be the extremely small density of all the
colossal planets, which are furthest removed from the Sun, we are yet unable
in this respect to recognize any regular succession.*

[footnote] *See Kepler, on the increasing density and volume of the planets
in proportion with their increase of distance from the Sun, which is
described as the densest of all the heavenly bodies; in the 'Epitome Astran.
Copern. in' vii. 'libros digesta', 1618-1622, p. 420.  Leibnitz also
inclined to the opinions of Kepler and Otto von Guericke, that the planets
increase in volume in proportion to their increase of distance from the Sun.
 See his letter to the Magdeburg Burgomaster (Mayence, 1671), in Leibnitz,
'Deutschen Schriften, herausg. von Guhrauer', th. i., 264.

Uranus appears to be denser than Saturn, even if we adopt the smaller mass,
1/24605, assumed by Lamont; and, notwithstanding the inconsiderable
difference of density observed in the innermost planetary group,* we find
both Venus and Mars less dense than the Earth, which lies between them.

[footnote] *On the arrangement of masses, see Encke, in Schum., 'Astr.
Nachr', 1843 Nr. 488, 114.

The time of rotation certainly diminishes with increasing solar distance,
but yet it is greater in Mars than in the Earth, and in Saturn than in
Jupiter.  The elliptic
p 94
orbits of Juno, Pallas, and Mercury have the greatest degree of
eccentricity, and Mars and Venus, which immediately follow each other, have
the least.  Mercury and Venus exhibit the same contrasts that may be
observed in the four smaller planets, or asteroids, whose paths are so
closely interwoven.

The eccentriciities of Juno and Pallas are very nearly identical, and reach
three times as great as those of Ceres and Vesta.  The same may be said of
the inclination of the orbits of the planets toward the plane of projection
of the ecliptic, or in the position of their axes of rotation with relation
to their orbits, a position on which the relations of climate, seasons of
the year, and length of the days depend more than on eccentricity.  Those
planets that have the most elongated elliptic orbits, as Juno, Pallas, and
Mercury, have also, although not to the same degree their orbits most
strongly inclined toward the ecliptic.  Pallas has a comet-like inclination
nearly twenty-six times greater than that of Jupiter, while in the little
planet Vesta, which is so near Pallas, the angle of inclination scarcely by
six times exceeds that of Jupiter.  An equally irregular succession is
observed in the position of the axes of the few planets (four or five) whose
planes of rotation we know with any degree of certainty.  It would appear
from the position of the satellites of Uranus, two of which, the second and
fourth, have been recently observed with certainty, that the axis of this,
the outermost of all the planets is scarcely inclined as much as 11 degrees
toward the plane of its orbit, while Saturn is placed between this planet,
whose axis almost coincides with the plane of its orbit, and Jupiter, whose
axis of rotation is nearly perpendicular to it.

In this enumeration of the forms which compose the world in space, we have
delineated them as possessing an actual existence, and not as objects of
intellectual contemplation, or as mere links of a mental and causal chain of
connection.  The planetary system, in its relations of absolute size and
relative position of the axes, density, time of rotation, and different
degrees of eccentricity of the orbits, does not appear to offer to our
apprehension any stronger evidence of a natural necessity than the
proportion observed in the distribution of land and water on the Earth, the
configuration of continents, or the height of mountain chains.  In these
respects we can discover no common law in the regions of space or in the
inequalities of the earth's crust.  They are 'facts' in nature that have
arisen from the conflict of manifold forces acting under unknown
p 95
conditions, although man considers as 'accidental' whatever he is unable to
explain in the planetary formation on purely genetic principles.  If the
planets have been formed out of separate rings of vaporous matter revolving
round the Sun, we may conjecture that the different thickness, unequal
density, temperature, and electro-magnetic tension of these rings may have
given occasion to the most various agglomerations of matter, in the same
manner as the amount of tangential velocity and small variations in its
direction have produced so great a differencein the forms and inclinations
of the elliptic orbits.  Attractions of mass and laws of gravitation have no
doubt exercised an influence here, no less than in the geognostic relations
of the elevations of continents; but we are unable from the present forms to
draw any conclusions regarding the series of conditions through which they
have passed.  Even the so-called law of the distances of the planets from
the Sun, the law of progression (which led Kepler to conjecture the
existence of a planet supplying the link that was wanting in the chain of
connection between Mars and Jupiter), has been found numerically inexact for
the distances between Mercury, Venus, and the Earth, and a variance with the
conception of a series, owing to the necessity for a supposition in the case
of the first member.

The hitherto disscovered principal planets that revolve round our Sun are
attended certainly by fourteen, and probably by eighteen secondary planets
(moons or satellites).  The principal planets are, therefore, themselves the
central bodies of subordinate systems.  We seem to recognize in the fabric
of the universe the same process of arrangement so frequently exhibited in
the development of organic life, where we find in the manifold combinations
of groups of plants or animals the same typical form repeated in the
'subordinate classes'.  The secondary planets or satellites are more
frequent in the external region of the planetary system, lying beyond the
intersecting orbits of the smaller planets or asteroids; in the inner region
none of the planets are attended by satellites, with the exception of the
Earth, whose moon is relatively of great magnitude, since its diameter is
equal to a fourth of that of the Earth, while the diameter of the largest of
all known secondary planets -- the sixth satellite of Saturn -- is probably
about one seventeenth, and the largest of Jupiter's moons, the third, only
about one twenty-sixth part that of the primary planet or central body.  The
planets which are attended by the largest number of satellites are most
remote from the Sun,
p 96
and are at the same time the largest, most compressed at the poles, and the
least dense.  According to the most recent measurements of MŠdler, Uranus
has a greater planetary compression than any other of the planets, viz.,
1/9.92d.  In our Earth and her moon, whose mean distance from one another
amounts to 207,200 miles, we find that the differences of mass* and diameter
between the two are much less considerable than are usually observed to
exist between the principal planets and their attendant satellites, or
between bodies of different orders in the solar system.

[footnote]  *If, according to Burckhardt's determination, the Moon's radius
be 0.2725 and its volume 1/49.00th, its density will be 0.5596, or nearly
five ninths.  Compare, also, Wilh. Beer and H. Madler, 'der Mond', 2, 10,
and Madler, 'Ast.',  157.  The material contents of the Moon are, according
to Hansen, nearly 1/34th (and Šdler 1/40.6th) that of the Earth, and its
mass equal to 1/87.73d that of the Earth.  In the largest of Jupiter's
moons, the third, the relations of volume to the central body are 1/15370th,
and of mass 1/11300th.  On the polar flattening of Uranus, see Schum,
'Astron. Nachr.', 1844, No. 493.

While the density of the Moon is five ninths less than that of the Earth, it
would appear, if we may sufficiently depend upon the determinations of their
magnitudes and masses, that the second of Jupiter's moons is actually denser
than that great planet itself.  Among the fourteen satellites that have been
investigated with any degree of certainty, the system of the seven
satellites of Saturn presents an instance of the greatest possible contrast,
both in absolute magnitude and in distance from the central body.  The sixth
of these satellites is probably not much smaller than Mars, while our moon
has a diameter which does not amount to more than half that of the latter
planet.  With respect to volume, the two outer, the sixth and seventh of
Saturn's satellites, approach the nearest to the third and brightest of
Jupiter's moons.  The two innermost of these satellites belong perhaps,
together with the remote moons of Uranus to the smallest cosmical bodies of
our solar system, being only made visible under favorable circumstances by
the most powerful instruments.  They were first discovered by the forty-foot
telescope of William Herschel in 1789, and were seen again by John Herschel
at the Cape of Good Hope, by Vico at Rome, and by Lamont at Munich.
Determinations of the 'true' diameter of satellites, made by the measurement
of the apparent size of their small disks, are subjected to many optical
difficulties; but numerical astronomy, whose task it is to predetermine by
calculation the motions of the heavenly bodies as they will appear when
viewed from the Earth, is directed almost
p 97
exclusively to motion and mass, and but little to volume.  The absolute
distance of a satellite from its central body is greatest in the case of the
outermost or seventh satellite of Saturn, its distance from the body round
which it revolves amounting to more than two millions of miles, or ten times
as great a distance as that of our moon from the Earth.  In the case of
Jupiter we find that the outermost or fourth attendant moon is only
1,040,000 miles from that planet, while the distance between Uranus and its
sixth satellite (if the latter really exist) amounts to as much as 1,360,000
miles.  If we compare, in each of these subordinate systems, the volume of
the satellite, we discover the existence of entirely new numerical
relations.  The distances of the outermost satellites of Uranus, Saturn, and
Jupiter are when expressed in semi-diameters of the main planets, as 91, 64,
and 27.  The outermost satellite of Saturn appears, therefore, to be removed
only about one fifteenth further from the center of that planet than our
moon is from the Earth.  The first or innermost of Saturn's satellites is
nearer to its central body than any other of the secondary planets, and
presents, moreover, the only instance of a period of revolution of less than
twenty-four hours.  Its distance from the center of Saturn may, according to
MŠdler and Wilhelm Beer, be expressed as 2.47 semi-diameters of that
planet, or as 80,088 miles.  Its distance from the surface of the main
planet is therefore 47,480 miles, and from the outer-most edge of the ring
only 4916 miles.  The traveler may form to himself an estimate of the
smallness of this amount by remembering the statement of an enterprising
navigator, Captain Beechey, that he had in three years passed over 72,800
miles.  If, instead of absolute distances, we take the semi-diameters of the
principal planets, we shall find that even the first or nearest of the moons
of Jupiter (which is 26,000 miles further removed from the center of that
planet than our moon is from that of the Earth) is only six semi-diameters
of Jupiter from its center, while our moon is removed from us fully 60 1/3d
semi-diameters of the Earth.

In the subordinate systems of satellites, we find that the same laws of
gravitation which regulate the revolutions of the principal planets round
the Sun likewise govern the mutual relations existing between these planets
among one another and with reference to their attendant satellites.  The
twelve moons of Saturn, Jupiter, and the Earth all most like the primary
planets from west to east, and in elliptic orbits, deviating
p 98
but little from circles.  It is only in the case of one moon, and perhaps in
that of the first and innermost of the satellites of Saturn (0.068), that we
discover an eccentricity greater than that of Jupiter; according to the very
exact observations of Bessel, the eccentricity of the sixth of Saturn's
satellites (0.029) exceeds that of the Earth.  On the extremest limits of
the planetary system, where, at a distance nineteen times greater than that
of our Earth, the centripetal force of the Sun is greatly diminished, the
satellites of Uranus (which most striking contrasts from the facts observed
with regard to other secondary planets.  Instead, as in all other
satellites, of having their orbits but slightly inclined toward the ecliptic
and (not excepting even Saturn's ring, which may be regarded as a fusion of
agglomerated satellites) moving from west to east, the satellites of Uranus
are almost perpendicular to the ecliptic, and move retrogressively from east
to west, as Sir John Herschel has proved by observations continued during
many years.  If the primary and secondary planets have been formed by the
condensation of rotating rings of solar and planetary atmospheric vapor,
there must have existed singular causes of retardation or impediment in the
vaporous rings revolving round Uranus, by which, under the relations with
which we are unacquainted, the revolution of the second and fourth of its
satellites was made to assume a direction opposite to that of the rotation
of the central planet.

It seems highly probable that the period of rotation of 'all' secondary
planets is equal to that of their revolution round the main planet, and
therefore that they always present to the latter the same side.
Inequalities, occasioned by sight variations in the revolution, give rise to
fluctuations of from 6 degrees to 8 degrees, or to an apparent libration in
longitude as well as in latitude.  Thus, in the case of our moon, we
sometimes observe more than the half of its surface, the eastern and
northern edges being more visible at one time, and the western or southern
at another.  By means of this libration* we are enabled to see the annular
mountain Malapert (which occasionally conceals the Moon's south pole), the
arctic landscape round the crater of Gioja, and the large gray plane near
Endymion which exceeds in superficial extent the 'Mare Vaporum'.

[footnote] *Beer and Madler, op. cit., 185, s.208, and ¤ 347, s. 332; and
ix their 'Phys. Kenntniss der himml. Korper', s. 4 und 69, Tab. 1 (Physical
History of the Heavenly Bodies).

Three sevenths of the Moon's surface are entirely
p 99
concealed from our observation, and must always remain so, unless new and
unexpected disturbing causes come into play.  These cosmical relations
involuntarily remind us of nearly similar conditions in the intellectual
world, where, in the domain of deep research into the mysteries and the
primeval creative forces of nature, there are regions similarly turned away
from us, and apparently unattainable, of which only a narrow margin has
revealed itself, for thousands of years, to the human mind, appearing, from
time to time, either glimmering in true or delusive light.  We have hitherto
considered the primary planets, their satellites, and the concentric rings
which belong to one, at least, of the outermost planets, as products of
tangential force, and as closely connected together by mutual attraction; it
therefore now only remains for us to speak of the unnumbered host of
'comets' which constitute a portion of the cosmical bodies revolving in
independent orbits round the Sun.  If we assume an equable distribution of
their orbits, and the limits of their perihelia, or greatest proximities to
the Sun, and the possibility of their remaining invisible to the inhabitants
of the Earth, and base our estimates on the rules of the calculus of
probabilities, we shall obtain as the result an amount of myriads perfectly
astonishing.  Kepler, with his usual animation of expression, said that
there were more comets in the regions of space than fishes in the depths of
the ocean.  As yet, however, there are scarcely one hundred and fifty whose
paths have been calculated, if we may assume at six or seven hundred the
number of comets whose appearance and passage through known constellations
have been ascertained by more or less precise observations.  While the
so-called classical nations of the West, the Greeks and Romans, although
they may occasionally have indicated the position in which a comet first
appeared, never afford any information regarding its apparent path, the
copious literature of the Chinese (who observed nature carefully, and
recorded with accuracy what they saw) contains circumstantial notices of the
constellations through which each comet was observed to pass.  These notices
go back to more than five hundred years before the Christian era, and many
of them are still found to be of value in astronomical observations.*

[footnote]  *The first comets of whose orbits we have any knowledge, and
which were calculated from Chinese observations, are those of 240 (under
Gordian II.), 539 (under Justinian), 565, 568, 574, 837, 1337, and 1385.
See John Russell Hind, in Schum., 'Astron. Nachr.', 1843, No. 498.  While
the comet of 837 (which, according to Du Sejour, continued during
twenty-four hours within a distance of 2,000,000 miles from the Earth)
terrified Louis I. of France to that degree that he busied himself in
building churches and founding monastic establishments, in the hope of
appeasing the evils threatened by its appearance, the Chinese astronomers
made observations on the path of this cosmical body, whose tail extended
over a space of 60 degrees, appearing sometimes single and sometimes
multiple.  The first comet that has been calculated solely from European
observations was that of 1456, known as Halley's comet, from the belief
long, but erroneously, entertained that the period when it was first
observed by that astronomer was its first and only well-attested appearance.
 See Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1836, p. 204, and Langier, 'Comptes Rendus
des Seances de l'Acad.', 1843, t. xvi., 1006.

p 100
Although comets have a smaller mass than any other cosmical bodies -- being,
according to our present knowledge, probably not equal to 1/5000th part of
the Earth's mass -- yet they occupy the largest space, as their tails in
several instances extend over many millions of miles.  The cone of luminous
vapor which radiates from them has been found, in some cases (as in 1680 and
1811), to equal the length of the Earth's distance from the Sun, forming a
line that intersects both the orbits of Venus and Mercury.  It is even
probable that the vapor of the tails of comets mingled with our atmosphere
in the years 1819 and 1823.

Comets exhibit such diversities of form, which appear rather to appertain to
the individual than the class, that a description of one of these "wandering
light-clouds," as they were already called by Xenophanes and Theon of
Alexandria, contemporaries of Pappus, can only be applied with caution to
another.  The faintest telescopic comets are generally devoid of visible
tails, and resemble Herschel's nebulous stars.  They appear like circular
nebulae of faintly-glimmering vapor, with the light concentrted toward the
middle.  This is the most simple type; but it can not, however, be regarded
as rudimentary, since it might equally be the type of an older cosmical
body, exhausted by exhalation.  In the larger comets we may distinguish both
the so-called "head" or "nucleus," and the single or multiple tail, which is
characteristically denominated by the Chinese astronomers "the brush"
('sui').  The nucleus generally presents no definite outline, although, in a
few rare cases, it appears like a star of the first or second magnitude, and
has even been seen in bright sunshine;* as,
p 101
for instance, in the large comets of 1402, 1532, 1577, 1744, and 1843.

[footnote]  *Arago, 'Annuaire', 1832, p. 209, 211.  The phenomenon of the
tail of a comet being visible in bright sunshine, which is recorded of the
comet of 1402, occurred again in the case of the large comet of 1843, whose
nucleus and tail were seen in North America on the 28th of February
(according to the testimony of J. G. Clarke, of Portland, state of Maine),
between 1 and 3 o'clock in the afternoon.(a)  The distance of the very dense
nucleus from the sun's light admitted of being measured with much exactness.
 The nucleus and tail appeared like a very pure white cloud, a darker space
intervening between the tail and the nucleus.  ('Amer. Journ. of Science',
vol. xiv., No. 1, p. 229.)

[footnote]  (a)  [The translator was at New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S., on
the 28th February, 1843, and distinctly saw the comet, between 1 and 2 in
the afternoon.  The sky at the time was intensely blue, and the sun shining
with a dazzling brightness unknown in European climates.] -- Tr

This latter circumstance indicates, in particular individuals, a denser
mass, capable of reflecting light with greater intensity.  Even in
Herschel's large telescope, only two comets, that discovered in Sicily in
1807, and the splendid one of 1811, exhibited well-defined disks;* the one
at an angle of 1 second, and the other at 0.77 seconds, whence the true
diameters are assumed to be 536 and 428 miles.

[footnote] *'Phil. Trans.' for 1808, Part ii., p. 155, and for 1812, Part
i., p. 118.  The diameters found by Herschel for the nuclei were 538 and 428
English miles.  For the magnitudes of the comets of 1798 and 1805, see
Arago, 'Annuaire', 1832, p. 203.

The diameters of the less well-defined nuclei of the comets of 1798 and 1805
did not appear to exceed 24 or 28 miles.

In several comets that have been investigated with great care, especially in
the above-named one of 1811, which continued visible for so long a period,
the nucleus and its nebulous envelope were entirely separated from the tail
by a darker space.  The intensity of light in the nucleus of comets does not
augment toward the center in any uniform degree, brightly shining zones
being in many cases separated by concentric nebulous envelopes.  The tails
sometimes appear single, sometimes, although more rarely, double; and in the
comets of 1807 and 1843 the branches were of different lengths; in one
instance (1744) the tail had six branches, the whole forming an angle of 60
degrees.  The tails have been sometimes straight, sometimes curved, either
toward both sides, or toward the side appearing to us as the exterior (as in
1811), or convex toward the direction in which the comet is moving (as in
that of 1618); and sometimes the tail has even appeared like a flame in
motion.  The tails are always turned away from the sun, so that their line
of prolongation passes through its center; a fact which, according to Edward
Biot, was noticed by the Chinese astronomers as early as 837, but was first
generally made known in Europe by Fracastoro and Peter Apian in the
sixteenth century.  These emanations may be regarded as conoidal envelopes
of greater of less thickness,
p 102
and, considered in this manner, they furnish a simple explanation of many of
the remarkable optical phenomena already spoken of.

Comets are not only characteristically different in form, some being
entirely without a visible tail, while others have a tail of immense length
(as in the instance of the comet of 1618, whose tail measured 104 degrees),
but we also see the same comets undergoing successive and rapidly-changing
processes of configuration.  These variations of form have been most
accurately and admirably described in the comet of 1744, by Hensius, at St.
Petersburg, and in Halley's comet, on its last reappearance in 1835, by
Bessel, at Konigsberg.  A more or less well-defined tuft of rays emanated
from that part of the nucleus which was turned toward the Sun; and the rays
being bent backward, formed a part of the tail.  The nucleus of Halley's
comet; with its emanations, presented the appearance of a burning rocket,
the end of which was turned sideways by the force of the wind.  The rays
issuing from the head were seen by Arago and myself, at the Observatory at
Paris, to assume very different forms on successive nights.*

[footnote]  *Arago, 'Des Changements physiques de la Comete de Halley du
15-23 Oct., 1835.  'Annuaire', 1836, p. 218, 221.  The ordinary direction of
the emanations was noticed even in Nero's time.  "Comae radios solis
effugiunt." -- Seneca, 'Nat. Quaest.', vii., 20.

The great Konigsberg astronomer concluded from many measurements, and from
theoretical considerations, "that the cone of light issuing from the comet
deviated considerably both to the right and the left of the true direction
of the Sun, but that it always returned to that direction, and passed over
to the opposite side, so that both the cone of light and the body of the
comet from whence it emanated experienced a rotatory, or, rather, a
vibratory motion in the plane of the orbit."  He finds that "the attractive
force exercised by the Sun on heavy bodies is inadequate to explain such
vibrations, and is of opinion that they indicate a polar force, which turns
one semi-diameter of the comet toward the Sun, and strives to turn the
opposite side away from that luminary.  The magnetic polarity possessed by
the Earth may present some analogy to this, and, should the Sun have an
opposite polarity, an influence might be manifested, resulting in the
precession of the equinoxes."  This is not the place to enter more fully
upon the grounds on which explanations of this subject have been based; but
observations so remarkable,* and views of so exalted
p 103
a character, regarding the most wonderful class of the cosmical bodies
belonging to our solar system, ought not to be entirely passed over in this
sketch of a general picture of nature.

[footnote]  *Bessel, in Schumacher, 'Astr. Nachr.', 1836, No. 300-302, s.
188, 192, 197, 200, 202, und 230.  Also in Schumacher, 'Jahrb.', 1837, s.
149, 168.  William Herschel, in his observations on the beautiful comet of
1811, believed that he had discovered evidences of the rotation of the
nucleus and tail ('Phil. Trans.' for 1812, Part i., p. 140).  Dunlop, at
Paramatta thought the same with reference to the third comet of 1825.

Although, as a rule, the tails of comets increase in magnitude and
brilliancy in the vicinity of the sun, and are directed away from that
central body, yet the comet of 1823 offered the remarkable example of two
tails, one of which was turned toward the sun, and the other away from it,
forming with each other an angle of 160 degrees.  Modifications of polarity
and the unequal manner of its distribution, and of the direction in which it
is conducted, may in this rare instance have occasioned a double, unchecked,
continuous emanation of nebulous matter.*

[footnote]  *Bessel, in 'Astr. Nachr.', 1836, No. 302, s. 231.  Schum,
'Jahrb.', 1837 s. 175.  See, also Lehmann, 'Ueber Cometenschweife' (On the
Tails of Comets), in Bode, 'Astron. Jahrb. fur' 1826, s. 168.

Aristotle, in his 'Natural Philosophy', makes these emanations the means of
bringing the phenomena of comets into a singular connection with the
existence of the Milky Way.  According to his views, the innumerable
quantity of stars which compose this starry zone give out a self-luminous,
incandescent matter.  The nebulous belt which separates the different
portions of the vault of heaven was therefore regarded by the Stagirite as a
large comet, the substance of which was incessantly being renewed.*

[footnote]  *Aristot., 'Meteor.', i., 8, 11-14, und 19-21 (ed. Ideler, t.
i., p. 32-34).  Biese, 'Phil. des Aristoteles', bd. ii., s. 86.  Since
Aristotle exercised so great an influence throughout the whole of the Middle
Ages, it is very much to be regretted that he was so averse to those grander
views of the elder Pythagoreans, which inculcated ideas so nearly
approximating to truth respecting the structure of the universe.  He asserts
that comets are transitory meteors belonging to our atmosphere in the very
book in which he cites the opinion of the Pythagorean school, according to
which these cosmical bodies are supposed to be planets having long periods
of revolution.  (Aristot., i., 6, 2.)  This Pythagorean doctrine, which,
according to the testimony of Apollonius Myndius, was still more ancient,
having originated with the Chaldeans, passed over to the Romans, who in this
instance, as was their usual practice, were merely the copiers of others.
The Myndian philosopher describes the path of comets as directed toward the
upper and remote regions of heaven.  Hence Seneca says, in his 'Nat.
Quaest.', vii., 17:  "Cometes non est species falsa, sed proprium sidus
sicut solis et lunae:  altiora mundi secat et tunc demum apparet quum in
imum cursum sui venit;" and again (at vii., 27), "Cometes aternos esse et
sortis ejusdem, cujus caetera (sidera), etiamsi faciem illis non habent
similem."  Pliny (ii., 25) also refers to Apollonius Myndius, when he says,
"Sunt qui et haec sidera perpetua esse credant suoque ambitu ire, sed non
nisi relicta a sole cerni."

p 104
The occulation of the fixed stars by the nucleus of a comet, or by its
innermost vaporous envelopes, might throw some light on the physical
character of these wonderful bodies; but we are unfortunately deficient in
observations by which we may be assured* that the occulation was perfectly
central; for, as it has already been observed, the parts of the envelope
contiguous to the nucleus are alternately composed of layers of dense or
very attenuated vapor.

[footnote]  *Olbers, in 'Astr. Nachr.', 1828, s. 157, 184.  Arago, 'De la
Constitution physique des Cometes; Annuaire de' 1832, p. 203, 208.  The
ancients were struck by the phenomenon that it was possible to see through
comets as through a flame.  The earliest evidence to be met with of stars
having been seen through comets is that of Democritus (Aristot., 'Meteor.',
i., 6, 11), and the statement leads Aristotle to make the not unimportant
remark, that he himself had observed the occulation of one of the stars of
Gemini by Jupiter.  Seneca only speaks decidedly of the transparence of the
tail of comets.  "We may see," says he, "stars through a comet as through a
cloud ('Nat. Quaest.', vii., 18); but we can ony see through the rays of the
tail, and not through the body of the comet itself:  'non in ea parte qua
sidus ipsum est spissi et solidi ignis, sed qua rarus splendor occurrit et
in crines dispergitur.  Per intervalla ignium, non er ipsos, vides" (vii.,
26).  The last remark is unnecessary, since, as Galileo observed in the
'Saggiatore (Lettera a Monsignor Cesarini', 1619), we can certainly see
through a flame when it is not of too great a thickness'.

On the other hand the carefully conducted measurements of Bessel prove,
beyond all doubt, that on the 29th of September, 1835, the light of a star
of the tenth magnitude, which was then at a distance of 7".78 from the
central point of the head of Halley's comet, passed through very dense
nebulous matter, without experiencing any deflection during its passage.*

[footnote]  *Bessel, in the 'Astron. Nachr.', 1836, No. 301, s. 204, 206.
Struve, in 'Recueil des Mem. de l'Acad. de St. Peterab.', 1836, p. 140, 143,
and 'Astr. Nachr.', 1836, No. 303, s. 238, writes as follows:  "At Dorpat
the star was in conjunction only 2".2 from the brightest point of the comet.
 The star remained continually visible, and its light was not perceptibly
diminished, while the nucleus of the comet seemed to be almost extinguished
before the radiance of the small star of the ninth or tenth magnitude."

If such an absence of refracting power must be ascribed to the nucleus of a
comet, we can scarcely regard the matter composing comets as a gaseous
fluid.  The question here arises whether this absence of refracting power
may not be owing to the extreme tenuity of the fluid; or does the comet
consist of separated particles, constituting a cosmical stratum of clouds,
which, like the clouds of our atmosphere, that exercise no influence on the
p 105
zenith distance of the stars, does not affect the ray of light passing
through it?  In the passage of a comet over a star, a more or less
considerable diminution of light has often been observed; but this has been
justly ascribed to the brightness of the ground from which the star seems to
stand forth during the passage of the comet.

The most important and decisive observations that we possess on the nature
and the light of comets are due to Arago's polarization experiments.  His
polariscope instructs us regarding the physical constitution of the Sun and
comets, indicating whether a ray that reaches us from a distance of many
millions of miles transmits light directly or by reflection; and if the
former, whther the source of light is a solid, a liquid, or a gaseous body.
His apparatus was used at the Paris Observatory in examining the light of
Capella and that of the great comet of 1819.  The latter showed polarized,
and therefore reflected light, while the fixed star, as was to be expected,
appeared to be a self-luminous sun.*

[footnote]  *On the 3d of July, 1819, Arago made the first attempt to
analyze the light of comets by polarization, on the evening of the sudden
appearance of the great comet.  I was present at the Paris Observatory, and
was fully convinced, as were also Matthieu and the late Bouvard of the
dissimilarity in the intensity of the light seen in the polariscope, when
the instrument received cometary light.  When it received light from
Capella, which was near the comet, and at an equal altitude, the images were
of equal intensity.  On the reappearance of Halley's comet in 1835, the
instrument was altered so as to give, according to Arago's chromatic
polarization, two images of complementary colors (green and red).  ('Annales
de Chimie', t. xiii., p. 108; 'Annuaire', 1832, p. 216.)  "We must conclude
from these observations," says Arago, "that the cometary light was not
entirely composed of rays having the properties of direct light, there being
light which was reflected specularly or polarized, that is, coming from the
sun.  It can not be stated with absolute certainty that comets shine only
with borrowed light, for bodies, in becoming self-luminous, do not, on that
account, lose the power of reflecting foreign light."

The existance of polarized cometary light announced itself not only by the
inequality of the images, but was proved with greater certainty on the
reappearance of Halley's comet, in the year 1835, by the more striking
contrast of the complementary colors, deduced from the laws of chromatic
polarization discovered by Arago in 1811.  These beautiful experiments still
leave it undecided whether, in addition to this reflected solar light,
comets may not have light of their own.  Even in the case of the planets,
as, for instance, in Venus, an evolution of independent light seems very

The variable intensity of light in comets can not always be
p 106
explained by the position of their orbits and their distance from the Sun.
It would seem to indicate, in some individuals, the existence of an inherent
process of condensation, and an increased or diminished capacity of
reflecting borrowed light.  In the comet of 1618, and in that which has a
period of three years, it was observed first by Hevelius that the nucleus of
the comet diminished at its perihelion and enlarged at its aphelion, a fact
which, after remaining long unheeded, was again noticed by the talented
astronomer Valz at Nismes.  The regularity of the change of volume,
according to the different degrees of distance from the Sun, appears very
striking.  The physical explanation of the phenomenon can not, however, be
sought in the condensed layers of cosmical vapor occurring in the vicinity
of the Sun, since it is difficult to imagine the nebulous envelope of the
nucleus of the comet to be vesicular and impervious to the other.*

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1832, p. 217-220.  Sir John Herschel,
'Astron.', 488.

The dissimilar eccentricity of the orbits of comets has, in recent times
(1819), in the most brilliant manner enriched our knowledge of the solar
system.  Encke has discovered the existence of a comet of so short a period
of revolution that it remains entirely within the limits of our planetary
system, attaining its aphelion between the orbits of the smaller planets and
that of Jupiter.  Its eccentricity must be assumed at 0.845, that of Juno
(which has the greatest eccentricity of any of the planets) being 0.255.
Encke's comet has several times, although with difficulty, been observed by
the naked eye, as in Europe in 1819, and according to Rumker, in New Holland
in 1822.  Its period of revolution is about 3 1/3d years; but, from a
careful comparison of the epochs of its return to its perihelion, the
remarkable fact has been discovered that these periods have diminished in
the most regular manner between the years 1786 and 1838, the diminution
amounting, in the course of 52 years, to about 1 3/10th days.  The attempt
to bring into unison the results of observation and calculation in the
investigation of all the planetary disturbances, with the view of explaining
this phenomenon, has led to the adoption of the very probable hypothesis
that there exists dispersed in space a vaporous substance capable of acting
as a resisting medium.  This matter diminished the tangential force, and
with it the major axis of the comet's orbit.  The value of the constant of
the resistance appears to be somewhat different before and after the
perihelion; and this may, perhaps, be ascribed
p 107
to the altered form of the small nebulous star in the vicinity of the Sun,
and to the action of the unequal density of the strata of cosmical ether.*

[footnote]  *Encke, in the 'Astronomiche Nachrichten', 1843, No. 489, s.

These facts, and the investigations to which they have led, belong to the
most interesting results of modern astronomy.  Encke's comet has been the
means of leading astronomers to a more exact investigation of Jupiter's mass
(a most important point with reference to the calculation of perturbations);
and, more recently, the course of this comet has obtained for us the first
determination, although only an approximative one, of a smaller mass for

The discovery of Encke's comet, which had a period of only 3 1/3d years, was
speedily followed, in 1826, by that of another, Biela's comet, whose period
of revolution is 6 3/4th years, and which is likewise planetary, having its
aphelion beyond the orbit of Jupiter, but within that of Saturn.  It has a
fainter light than Encke's comet, and, like the latter, its motion is
direct, while Halley's comet moves in a course opposite to that pursued by
the planets.  Biela's comet presents the first certain example of the orbit
of a comet intersecting that of the Earth.  This position, with reference to
our planet, may therefore be productive of danger, if we can associate an
idea of danger with so extraordinary a natural phenomenon, whose history
presents no parallel, and the results of which we are consequently unable
correctly to estimate.  Small masses endowed with enormous velocity may
certainly exercise a considerable power; but Laplace has shown that the mass
of the comet of 1770 is probably not equal to 1/5000th that of the Earth, or
about 1/2000th that of the Moon.*

[footnote]  *Laplace, 'Expos. du Syst. du Monde', p. 216, 237.

We must not confound the passage of Biela's comet through the Earth's orbit
with its proximity to, or collision with our globe.  When this passage took
place, on the 29th of October, 1832, it required a full month before the
Earth would reach the point of intersection of the two orbits.  These two
comets of short periods of revolution also intersect each other, and it has
been justly observed,* that amid the many perturbations experienced by such
small bodies from the largr planets, there is a 'possibility' -- supposing a
meeting of these comets to occur in October -- that the inhabitants of the
Earth may witness the extraordinary spectacle of an encounter between two
cosmical bodies, and possibly of their reciprocal penetration and
amalgamation, or of their destruction by means of exhausting emanations.

[footnote]  *Littrow, 'Beschreibende Astron.', 1835, s. 274.  On the inner
comet recently discovered by M. Faye, at the Observatory of Paris, and whose
eccentricity is 0.551, its distance at its perihelion 1.690, and its
distance at its aphelion 5.832, see Schumacher, 'Astron. Nachr.', 1844, No.
495.  Regarding the supposed identity of the comet of 1766 with the third
comet of 1819, see 'Astr. Nachr.', 1833, No. 239; and on the identity of the
comet of 1743 and the fourth comet of 1819, see No. 237 or the last
mentioned work.

Events of this nature, resulting either from deflection occasioned by
disturbing masses or primevally intersecting orbits, must have been of
frequent occurrence in the course of millions of years in the immeasurable
regions of ethereal space; but they must be regarded as isolated
occurrences, exercising no more general or alternative effects on cosmical
relations than the breaking forth or extinction of a volcano within the
limited sphere of our Earth.

A third interior comet, having likewise a short period of revolution was
discovered by Faye on the 22d of November, 1843, at the Observatory at
Paris.  Its elliptic path, which approaches much more nearly to a circle
than that of any other known comet, is included within the orbits of Mars
and Saturn.  This comet, therefore, which, according to Goldschmidt, passes
beyond the orbit of Jupiter, is one of the few whose perihelia are beyond
Mars.  Its period of revolution is 7 29/100 years, and it is not improbable
that the form of its present orbit may be owing to its great approximation
to Jupiter at the close of the year 1839.

If we consider the comets in their inclosed elliptic orbits as members of
our solar system, and with respect to the length of their major axes, the
amount of their eccentricity, and their periods of revolution, we shall
probably find that the three planetary comets of Encke, Biela, and Faye are
most nearly approached in these respects, first, by the comet discovered in
1766 by Messier, and which is regarded by Clausen as identical with the
third comet of 1819; and next, by the fourth comet of the last-mentioned
year, discovered by Blaupain, but considered by Clausen as identical with
that of the year 1743, and whose orbit appears, like that of Lexell's comet,
to have suffered great variations from the proximity and attraction of
Jupiter.  The two last-named comets would likewise seem to have a period of
revolution not exceeding five or six years, and their aphelia are in the
vicinity of Jupiter's orbit.  Among the comets that have a period of
revolution of from seventy to
p 109
seventy-six years, the first in point of importance with respect to
theoretical and physical astronomy is Halley's comet, whose last appearance,
in 1835, was much less brilliant than was to be expected from preceding
ones; next we would notice Olbers's comet, discovered on the 6th of March,
1815; and, lastly, the comet discovered by Pons in the year 1812, and whose
elliptic orbit has been determined by Encke.  The two latter comets were
invisible to the naked eye.  We now know with certainty of nine returns of
Halley's large comet, it having recently been proved by Laugier's
calculations*, that in the Chinese table of comets, first made known to us
by Edward Biot, the comet of 1378 is identical with Halley's; its periods of
revolution have varied in the interval between 1378 and 1835 from 74.91 to
77.58 years, the mean being 76.1.

[footnote]  *Laugier, in the 'Comptes Rendus des Seances de l'Academie',
1843, t. xvi., p. 1006.

A host of other comets may be contrasted with the cosmical bodies of which
we have spoken, requiring several thousand years to perform their orbits,
which it is difficult to determine with any degree of certainty.  The
beautiful comet of 1811 requires, according to Argelander, a period of 3065
years for its revolution, and the colossal one of 1680 as much as 8800
years, according to Encke's calculation.  These bodies respectively recede,
therefore, 21 and 44 times further than Uranus from the Sun, that is to say,
33,600 and 70,400 millions of miles.  At this enormous distance the
attractive force of the Sun is still manifested; but while the velocity of
the comet of 1680 at its perihelion is 212 miles in a second, that is,
thirteen times greater than that of the Earth, it scarcely moves ten feet in
the second when at its aphelion.  This velocity is only three times greater
than that of water in our most sluggish European rivers, and equal only to
half that which I have observed in the Cassiquiare, a branch of the Orinoco.
 It is highly probable that, among the innumerable host of uncalculated or
undiscovered comets, there are many whose major axes greatly exceed that of
the comet of 1680.  In order to form some idea by numbers, I do not say of
the sphere of attraction, but of the distance in space of a fixed star, or
other sun, from the aphelion of the comet of 1680 (the furthest receding
cosmical body with which we are acquainted in our solar system), it must be
remembered that, according to the most recent determinations of parallaxes,
the nearest fixed star is full 250 times further removed from our sun than
the comet in its aphelion.  The comet's distance is only 44
p 110
times that of Uranus, while 'a' Centauri is 11,000 and 61 Cygni 31,000 times
that of Uranus, according to Bessel's determinations.

Having considered the greatest distances of comets from the central body, it
now remains for us to notice instances of the greatest proximity hitherto
measured.  Lexell and Burckhardt's comet of 1770, so celebrated on account
of the disturbances it experienced from Jupiter, has approached the Earth
within a smaller distance than any other comet.  On the 28th of June, 1770,
its distance from the Earth was ony six times than of the Moon.  The same
comet passed twice, viz., in 1769 and 1779, through the system of Jupiter's
four satellites without producing the slightest notable change in the
well-known orbits of these bodies.  The great comet of 1680 approached at
its perihelion eight or nine times nearer to the surface of the Sun than
Lexell's comet did to that of our Earth, being on the 17th of December a
sixth part of the Sun's diameter, or seven tenths of the distance of the
Moon from that luminary.  Perihelia occurring beyond the orbit of Mars can
seldom be observed by the inhabitants of the Earth, owing to the faintness
of the light of distant comets; and among those already calculated the comet
of 1729 is the only one which has its perihelion between the orbits of
Pallas and Jupiter; it was even observed beyond the latter.

Since scientific knowledge, although frequently blended with vague and
superficial views, has been more extensively diffused through wider circles
of social life, apprehensions of the possible evils threatened by comets
have acquired more weight as their direction has become more definite.  The
certainty that there are within the known planetary orbits comets which
revisit our regions of space at short intervals -- that great disturbances
have been produced by Jupiter and Saturn in their orbits, by which such as
were apparently harmless have been converted into dangerous bodies -- the
intersection of the Earth's orbit by Biela's comet -- the cosmical vapor,
which, acting as a resisting and impeding medium, tends to contract all
orbits -- the individual difference of comets, which would seem to indicate
considerable decreasing gradations in the quantity of the mass of the
nucleus, are all considerations more than equivalent, both as to number and
variety, to the vague fears entertained in early ages of the general
conflagration of the world by 'flaming swords', and stars with 'fiery
streaming hair'.  As the consolatory considerations which may be derived
from the calculus of probabilities address themselves to reason and to
p 111
meditative understanding only, and not to the imagination or to a desponding
condition of mind, modern science has been accused, and not entirely without
reason, of not attempting to allay apprehensions which it has been the very
means of exciting.  It is an inherent attribute of the human mind to
experience fear, and not hope or joy, at the aspect of that which is
unexpected and extraordinary.*

[footnote]  *Fries, 'Vorlesungen uber die Sternkunde', 1833, s. 262-267
(Lectures on the Science of Astronomy).  An infelicitously chosen instance
of the good omen of a comet may be found in Seneca, 'Nat. Quest.', vii., 17
and 21.  The philosopher thus writes of the comet:  "Quem nos Neronis
principatu latissimo vidimus et qui cometis detraxit infamiam."

The strange form of a large comet, its faint nebulous light, and its sudden
appearance in the vault of heaven, have in all regions been almost
invariably regarded by the people at large as some new and formidable agent
inimical to the existing state of things.  The sudden occurrence and short
duration of the phenomenon lead to the belief of some equally rapid
reflection of its agency in terrestrial matters, whose varied nature renders
it easy to find events that may be regarded as the fulfillment of the evil
foretold by the appearance of these mysterious cosmical bodies.  In our own
day, however, the public mind has taken another and more cheerful, although
singular, turn with regard to comets; and in the German vineyards in the
beautiful valleys of the Rhine and Moselle, a belief has arisen, ascribing
to these once ill-omened bodies a beneficial influence on the ripening of
the vine.  The evidence yielded by experience, of which there is no lack in
these days, when comets may so frequently be observed, has not been able to
shake the common belief in the meteorological myth of the existence of
wandering stars capable of radiating heat.

This material taken from pages 111- 147

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

From comets I would pass to the consideration of a far more enigmatical
class of agglomerated matter -- the smallest of all asteroids, to which we
apply the name 'a‘rolites', or 'meteoric stones',* when they reach our
atmosphere in a fragmentary condition.

[footnote]  * (Much valuable information may be obtained regarding the
origin and composition of a‘rolites or meteoric stones in Memoirs on the
subject, by Baumbeer and other writers, in the numbers of Poggendorf's
'Annalen', from 1845 to the present time.) -- Tr.

If I should seem to dwell on the specific enumeration of these bodies, and
of comets, longer than the general nature of this work might warrant, I have
not done so undesignedly.  The diversity existing in the individual
characteristics of comets has already been noticed.  The imperfect knowledge
we possess of their physical character renders it
p 112
diifficult in a work like the present, to give the proper degree of
circumstantiality to the phenomena, which, although of frequent recurrence,
have been observed with such various degrees of accuracy, or to separate the
necessary from the accidental.  It is only with respect to measurements and
computations that the astronomy of comets has made any marked advancement,
and, consequently, a scientific consideration of these bodies must be
limited to a specification of the differences of physiognomy and
conformation in the nucleus and tail, the instances of great approximation
to other cosmical bodies, and of the extremes in the length of their orbits
and in their periods of revolution.  A faithful delineation of these
phenomena, as well as of those which we proceed to consider, can only be
given by sketching individual features with the animated circumstantiality
of reality.

Shooting stars, fire-balls, and meteoric stones are, with great probability,
regarded as small bodies moving with planetary velocity, and revolving in
obedience to the laws of general gravity in conic sections round the Sun.
When these masses meet the Earth in their course, and are attracted by it,
they enter within the limits of our atmosphere in a luminous condition, and
frequently let fall more or less strongly heated stony fragments, covered
with a shining black crust.  When we enter into a careful investigation of
the facts observed at those epochs when showers of shooting stars fell
periodically in Cumana in 1799, and in North America during the years 1833
and 1834, we shall find that 'fire-balls' can not be considered separately
from shooting stars.  Both these phenomena are frequently not only
simultaneous and blended together, but they likewise are often found to
merge into one another, the one phenomenon gradually assuming the character
of the other alike with respect to the size of their disks, the emanation of
sparks, and the velocities of their motion.  Although exploding smoking
luminous fire-balls are sometimes seen, even in the brightness of tropical
daylight,* equaling in size the apparent
p 113
diameter of the Moon, innumerable quantities of shooting stars have, on the
other hand, been observed to fall in forms of such extremely small
dimensions that they appear only as moving points or 'phosphorescent

[footnote]  *A friend of mine, much accustomed to exact trigonometrical
measurements, was in the year 1788 at Popayan, a city which is 2 degrees 26'
north latitude, lying at an elevation of 5583 feet above the level of the
sea, and at noon, when the sun was shining brightly in a cloudless sky, saw
his room lighted up by a fire-ball.  He had his back to the window at the
time, and on turning round, perceived that great part of the path traversed
by the fire-ball was still illuminated by the brightest radiance.  Different
nations have had the most various terms to express these phenomena:  The
Germans use the word 'Sternschnuppe', literally 'star snuff' -- an
expression well suited to the physical views of the vulgar in former times,
according to which, the lights in the firmament were said to undergo a
process of 'snuffing' or cleaning; and other nations generally adopt a term
expressive of a 'shot' or 'fall' of stars, as the Swedish 'stjernifall', the
Italian 'stella cadente', and the English 'star shoot.'  In the woody
district of the Orinoco, on the dreary banks of the Cassiquiare, I heard the
natives in the Mission of Vasiva use terms still more inelegant than the
German 'star snuff.'  ('Relation Historique du Voy. aux RŽgions Equinox.',
t. ii., p. 513.)  These same tribes term the pearly drops of dew which cover
the beautiful leaves of the heliconia 'star spit.'  In the Lithuanian
mythology, the imagination of the people has embodied its ideas of the
nature and signification of falling stars under nobler and more graceful
symbols.  The Parc¾, 'Werpeja', weave in heaven for the new-born child its
thread of fate, attaching each separate thread to a star.  When death
approaches the person, the thread is rent, and the star wanes and sinks to
the earth.  Jacob Grimm, 'Deutsche Mythologie', 1843, s. 685.

[footnote]  ** According to the testimony of Professor Denison Olmsted, of
Yale College, New Haven, Connecticut.  (See Poggend., 'Annalen der Physik',
bd. xxx., s. 194.)  Kepler, who excluded fire-balls and shooting stars from
the domain of astronomy, because they were, according to his views, "meteors
arising from the exhalations of the earth, and blending with the higher
ether," expresses himself, however, generally with much caution.  He says:
"Stell¾ cadentes sunt materia viscida inflammata.  Earum aliqu¾ inter
cadendum absumuntur, aliqu¾ ver in terram cadunt, pondere suo tract¾.
Nec est dissimile vero, quasdam conglobatas esse ex materia f¾culent‰, in
ipsam auram ¾theream immixta:  exque a‘theris regione, tractu rectilineo,
per a‘rem trajicere, ceu minutos competas, occult‰ causa motus
utrorumque." -- Kepler, 'Epit. Astron. Copernican¾', t. i., p. 80.

It still remains undertermined whether the many luminous bodies that shoot
across the sky may not vary in their nature.  On my return from the
equinoctial zones, I was impressed with an idea that in the torrid regions
of the tropics I had more frequently than in our colder latitudes seen
shooting stars fall as if from a height of twelve or fifteen thousand feet;
that they were of brighter colors, and left a more brilliant line of light
in their track; but this impression was no doubt owing to the greater
transparency of the tropical atmosphere*, which enables the eye to penetrate
further into distance.

[footnote]  *'Relation Historique', t. i., p. 80, 213, 527.  If in falling
stars, as in comets, we distinguish between the head or nucleus and the
tail, we shall find that the greater transparency of the atmosphere in
tropical climates is evinced in the greater length and brilliancy of the
tail which may be observed in those latitudes.  The phenomenon is therefore
not necessarily more frequent there, because it is oftener seen and
continues longer visible.  The influence exercised on shooting stars by the
character of the atmosphere is shown occasionally even in our temperate
zone, and at very small distances apart.  Wartmann relates that on the
occasion of a November phenomenon at two places lying very near each other,
Geneva and Aux Planchettes, the number of the meteors counted were as 1 to
7.  (Wartmann, 'MŽm. sur les Etoiles filantes', p. 17.)  The tail of a
shooting star (or its 'train'), on the subject of which Brandes has made so
many exact and delicate observations, is in no way to be ascribed to the
continuance of the impression produced by light on the retina.  It sometimes
continues visible a whole minute, and in some rare instances longer than the
light of the nucleus of the shooting star; in which case the luminous track
remains motionless.  (Gilb., 'Ann.', bd. xiv., s. 251.)  This circumstance
further indicates the analogy between large shooting stars and fire-balls.
Admiral Krusenstern saw, in his voyage round the world, the train of a
fire-ball shine for an hour after the lluminous body itself had disappeared,
and scarcely move throughout the whole time.  ('Reise', th. i., s. 58.)  Sir
Alexander Burnes gives a charming description of the transparency of the
clear atmosphere of Bokhara, which was once so favorable to the pursuit of
astronomical observations.  Bokhara is situated in 39 degrees 48' north
latitude, and at an elevation of 1280 feet above the level of the sea.
"There is a constant serenity in its atmosphere, and an admirable clearness
in the sky.  At night, the stars have uncommon luster, and the Milky Way
shines gloriously in the firmament.  There is also a never-ceasing display
of the most brilliant meteors, which dart like rockets in the sky; ten or
twelve of them are sometimes seen in an hour, assuming every color -- fiery
red, blue, pale, and faint.  It is a noble country for astronomical science,
and great must have been the advantage enjoyed by the famed observatory of
Samarkand."  (Burnes, 'Travels into Bokhara', vol. ii. (1834), p. 158.)  A
mere traveler must not be reproached for calling ten or twelve shooting
stars in an hour "many," since it is only recently that we have learned,
from careful observations on this subject in Europe, that eight is the mean
number which may be seen in an hour in the field of vision of one individual
(Quetelet, 'Corresp. MathŽm.', Novem., 1837, p. 447); this number is,
however, limited to five or six by that diligent observer, Olbers.  (Schum.,
'Jahrb.', 1838, s. 325.)

p 114
Sir Alexander Burnes likewise extols as a consequence of the purity of the
atmosphere in Bokhara the enchanting and constantly-recurring spectacle of
variously-colored shooting stars.

The connection of meteoric stones with the grander phenomenon of fire-balls
-- the former being known to be projected from the latter with such force as
to penetrate from ten to fifteen feet into the earth -- has been proved,
among many other instances, in the falls of azzzuerolites at Barbotan, in
the Department des Landes (24th July, 1790), at Siena (16th June, 1794), at
Weston, in Connecticut, U. S. (14th December, 1807), and at Juvenas in the
Department of Ardche (14th June, 1821).  Meteoric stones are in some
instances thrown from dark clouds suddenly formed in a clear sky, and fall
with a noise resembling thunder.  Whole districts have thus occasionally
been covered with thousands of fragmentary masses, of uniform character but
unequal magnitudes, that
p 115
have been hurled from one of these moving clouds.  In less frequent cases,
as in that which occurred on the 16th of September, 1843, at Kleinwenden,
near MŸhilhausen, a large a‘rolite fell with a thundering crash while the
sky was clear and cloudless.  The intimate affinity between fire-balls and
shooting stars is further proved by the fact that fire-balls, from which
meteoric stones have been thrown have occasionally been found, as at Angers,
on the 9th of June, 1822, having a diameter scarcely equal to that of the
small fire-works called Roman candles.

The formative power, and the nature of the physical and chemical processes
involved in these phenomena are questions all equally shrouded in mystery,
and we are as yet ignorant whether the particles composing the dense mass of
meteoric stones are originally, as in comets, separated from one another
when they become luminous to our sight, or whether in the case of smaller
shooting stars, any compace substance actually falls, or, finally, whether a
meteor is composed only of a smoke-like dust, containing iron and nickel;
while we are wholly ignorant of what takes place within the dark cloud from
which a noise like thunder is often heard for many minutes before the stones

[footnote]  *On 'mŽteoric dust', see Arago, in the 'Annuaire' for 1832, p.
254.  I haave very recently endeavored to show, in another work ('Asie
Centrale', t. i., p. 408). how the Scythian saga of the sacred gold, which
fell burning from heaven, and remained in the possession of the Golden Horde
of the Paralat¾ (Herod., iv., 5-7), probably originated in the vague
recollection of the fall of an a‘rolite.  The ancients had also some
strange fictions (Dio Cassius, lxxv., 1259) or silver which had fallen from
heaven, and with which it had been attempted, under the Emperor Severus, to
cover bronze coins; metallic iron was however, known to exist in meteoric
stones.  (Plin., ii., 56.)  The frequently-recurring expression 'lapidibus
pluit' must not always be understood to refer to falls of a‘rolites.  In
Liv., xxv., 7, it probably refers to pumice ('rapilli') ejected from the
volcano, Mount Albanus (Monte Cavo), which was not wholly extinguished at
the time.  (See Heyne, 'Opuscula Acad.', t. iii., p. 261; and my 'Relation
Hist.', t. i., p. 394.)  The contest of Hercules with the Ligyans, on the
road from the Caucasus to the Hesperides, belongs to a different sphere of
ideas, being an attempt to explain mythically the origin of the round quartz
blocks in the Ligyan field of stones at the mouth of the Rhone, which
Aristotle supposes to have been ejected from a fissure during an earthquake,
and Posidonius to have been caused by the force of the waves of an inland
piece of water.  In the fragments that we still possess of the play of
®schylus, the 'Prometheus Delivered', every thing proceeds, however, in
part of the narration, as in a fall of a‘rolites, for Jupiter draws
together a cloud, and causes the "district around to be covered by a shower
of round stones".  Posidonius even ventured to deride the geognostic myth of
the blocks and stones.  The Lygian field of stones was, however, very
naturally and well described by the ancients.  The district is now known as
'La Crau.'  (See Guerin, 'Mesures BaromŽtriques dans les Alpes, et
MŽtŽorologie d'Avignon', 1829, chap. xii., p. 115.)

p 116
We can ascertain by measurement the enormous, wonderful, and wholly
planetary velocity of shooting stars, fire-valls and meteoric stones, and we
can gain a knowledge of what is the general and uniform character of the
phenomenon, but not of the genetically cosmical process and the results of
the metamorphoses.  If meteoric stones while revolving in space are already
consolidated into dense masses,* less dense, however,
p 117
than the mean density of the earth, they must be very small nuclei, which
surrounded by inflammable vapor or gas, form the innermost part of
fire-balls, from the height and apparent diameter of which we may, in the
case of the largest, estimate that the actual diameter varies from 500 to
about 2800 feet.

[footnote] *The specific weight of a‘rolites varies from 1.9 (Alais) to 4.3
(Tabor).  Their general density may be set down as 3, water being 1.  As to
what has been said in the text of the actual diameters of fire-balls, we
must remark, that the numbers have been taken from the few measurements that
can be relied upon as correct.  These give for the fire-ball of Weston,
Connecticut (14th December, 1807), only 500; for that observed by Le Roi
(10th July, 1771) about 1000 and for that estimated by Sir Charles Blagden
(18th January, 1783) 2600 feet in diameter.  Brandes ('Unterhaltungen'
bd.i., s. 42) ascribes a diameter varying from 80 to 120 feet to shooting
stars, and a luminous train extending from 12 to 16 miles.  There are,
however, ample optical causes for supposing that the apparent diameter of
fire-balls and shooting stars has been very much overrated.  The volume of
the largest fire-ball yet observed can not be compared with that of Ceres,
estimating generally so exact and admirable treatise, 'On the Connection of
the Physical Sciences', 1835, p. 411.)  With the view of elucidating what
has been stated in the text regarding the large z‘rolite that fell into the
bed of the River Narni, but has not again been found, I will give the
passage made known by Pertz, from the 'Chronicon Benedicti, Monachi Sancti
Andre¾ in Mont Soracte', a MS. belonging to the tenth century, and
preserved in the Chigi Library at Rome.  The Barbarous Latin of that age has
been left unchanged.  "Anno 921, temporibus domini Johannis Decimi pape, in
anno pontificatus illius 7 visa sunt signa.  Nam juxta urben Romam lapides
plurimi de c¾lo cadere visi sunt.  In civilate qu¾ vocatur Narnia tam diri
ac tetri, ut nihil aliud credatur, quam de infernalibus locis deducti
essent.  Nam ita ex illis lapidibus unus omnium maximum est, ut decidens in
flumen Narnus, ad mensuram unius cubiti super aquas fluminus usque hodie
videretur.  Nam et ignit¾ita ut pene terra contingeret.  AliAnno 921,
temporibus domini Johannis Decimi pape, in anno pontificatus illius 7 visa
sunt signa.  Nam juxta urben Romam lapides plurimi de c¾lo cadere visi
sunt.  In civilate qu¾ vocatur Narnia tam diri ac tetri, ut nihil aliud
credatur, quam de infernalibus locis deducti essent.  Nam ita ex illis
lapidibus unus omnium maximum est, ut decidens in flumen Narnus, ad mensuram
unius cubiti super aquas fluminus usque hodie videretur.  Nam et ignit¾ ita
ut pene terra contingeret.  Ali cadentes," etc.  (Pertz, 'Monum. Germ. Hist.
Scriptores', t. iii., p. 715.)  On the a‘rolites of gos Potamus, which
fell, according to the Parian Chroniccle, in the 78 1 Olympiad, see Bšckh,
'Corp. Inscr. Graec', t. ii., p. 302, 320, 340; also Aristot., 'Meteor.',
i., 7 (Ideler's 'Comm.', t. i., p. 404-407); Stob., 'Eel. Phys.', i., 25, p.
508 (Heeren); Plut., 'Lys.', c. 12; Diog. Laert., ii., 10; and see, also,
subsequent notes in this work.  According to a Mongolisn tradition, a black
fragment of a rock, forty feet in height, fell from heaven on a plain near
the source of the Great Yellow River in Western China.  (Abel RŽmusat, in
LamŽtherie, 'Jour. de Phys.', 1819, Mai p. 264.)

The largest meteoric masses as yet known are those of Otumpa, in Chaco, and
of Bahia, in Brazil, described by Rubi de Celis as being from 7 to 7 1/2
feet in length.  The meteoric stone of gos Potamos, celebrated in antiquity,
and even mentioned in the Chronicle of the Parian Marbles, which fell about
the year in which Socrates was born, has been described as of the size of
two mill-stones, and equal in weight to a full wagon load.  Notwithstanding
the failure that has attended the efforts of the African traveler, Brown, I
do not wholly relinquish the hope that, even after the lapse of 2312 years,
this Thracian meteoric mass, which it would be so difficult to destroy, may
be found, since the region in which it fell is now bcome so easy of access
to European travelers.  The huge a‘rolite which in the beginning of the
tenth century fell into the river at Narni, projected between three and four
feet above the surface of the water, as we learn from a document lately
discovered by Pertz.  It must be remarked that these meteoric bodies,
whether in ancient or modern times can only be regarded as the principal
fragments of masses that have been broken up by the explosion either of a
fire-ball of a dark cloud.

On considering the enormous velocity with which, as has been mathematically
proved, meteoric stones reach the earth from the extremest confines of the
atmosphere, and the lengthened course traversed by fire-balls through the
denser strata of the air, it seems more than improbable that these
metalliferous stony masses, containing perfectly-formed crystals of olivine,
labradorite, and pyroxene, should in so short a period of time has been
converted from a vaporous condition to a solid nucleus.  Moreover, that
which falls from meteoric masses, even where the internal composition is
chemically different, exhibits almost always the peculiar character of a
fragment, being of a prismatic or truncated pyramidal form, with broad,
somewhat curved faces, and rounded angles.  But whence comes this form,
which was first recognized by Schreiber as characteristic of the 'severed'
part of a rotating planetary body?  Here, as in the sphere of organic life,
all that appertains to the history of development remains hidden in
obscurity.  Meteoric masses become luminous and kindle at heights which
p 118
must be regarded as almost devoid of air, of occupied by an atmosphere that
does not even contain 1/100000th part of oxygen.  The recent investigations
of Biot on the important phenomenon of twilight* have considerably lowered
the lines which had, perhaps with some degree of temerity, been usually
termed the boundaries of the atmosphere; but processes of light may be
evolved independently of the presence of oxygen, and Poisson conjectured
that a‘roliteswere ignited far beyond the range of our atmosphere.
Numerical calculation and geometrical measurement are the only means by
which as in the case of the larger bodies of our solar system, we are
enabled to impart a firm and safe basis to our investigations of meteoric

[footnote]  *Biot, 'TraitŽ d'Astronomie Physique' (3me Žd.), 1841, t.
i., p. 149, 177, 238, 312.  My lamented friend Poisson endeavored, in a
singular manner, to solve the difficulty attending an assumption of the
spontaneous ignition of meteoric stones at an elevation where the density of
the atmosphere is almost null.  These are his words:  "It is difficult to
attribute, as is uaually done, the incandescence of a‘rolites to friction
against the molecules of the atmosphere at an elevation above the earth
where the density of the air is almost null.  May we not suppose that the
electric fluid, in a neutral condition, forms a kind of atmosphere,
extending far beyond the mass of our atmosphere, yet subject to terrestrial
attraction, although physically imponderable, and consequently following our
globe in its motion?  According to this hypothesis, the bodies of which we
have been speaking would, on entering this imponderable atmosphere,
decompose the neutral fluid by their unequal action on the two
electricities, and they would thus be heated, and in a state of
incandescence, by becoming electrified."  (Poisson, 'Rech. sur la
ProbabilitŽ des Jugements', 1837, p. 6.)

Although Halley pronounced the great fire-ball of 1686, whose motion was
opposite to that of the earth in its orbit,* to be a cosmical body, Chadni,
in 1794, first recognized, with ready acuteness of mind, the connection
between fire-balls and the stones projected from the atmosphere, and the
motions of the former bodies in space.**

[footnote] *'Philos. Transact.', vol. xxix., p. 161-163.

[footnote] **The first edition of Chlandni's important treatise, 'Ueber den
Ursprung der von Pallas gefundenen und anderen Eisenmassen' (On the Origin
of the masses of Iron found by Pallas, and other similar masses), appeared
two months prior to the shower of stones at Siena, and two years before
Lichtenberg stated, in the 'GŸttingen Taschenbuch', that "stones reach our
atmosphere from the remoter regions of space.'  Comp., also, Olbers's letter
to Benzenberg, 18th Nov., 1837, in Benzenberg's 'Treatise on Shooting
Stars', p. 186.

A brilliant confirmation of the cosmical origin of these phenomena has been
afforded by Denison Olmsted, at New Haven, Connecticut, who has shown on the
concurrent authority of all eye-witnesses, that during the celebrated fall
of shooting stars on the night between the 12th
p 119
and 13th of November, 1833, the fire-balls and shooting stars all emerged
from one and the same quarter of the heavens, namely, in the vicinity of the
star 'gamma' in the constellation Leo, and did not deviate from this point,
although the star changed its apparent height and azimuth during the time of
the observation.  Such an independence of the Earth's rotation shows that
the luminous body must have reached our atmosphere from 'without.'
According to Encke's computation* of the whole
p 120
number of observations made in the United States of North America, between
the thirty-fifth and the forty-second degrees of latitude, it would appear
that all these meteors came from the same point of space in the direction in
which the Earth was moving at the time.

[footnote]  *Encke, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xxxiii. (1834), s. 213.
Arago, in the 'Annuaire' for 1836, p. 291.  Two letters which I wrote to
Benzenberg, May 19 and October 22, 1837, on the conjectural precession of
the nodes in the orbit of periodical falls of shooting stars.  (Benzenberg's
'Sternsch.', s. 207 and 209.)  Olbers subsequently adopted this opinion of
the gradual retardation of the November phenomenon.  ('Astron. Nachr.',
1838, No. 372, s. 180.)  If I may venture to combine two of the falls of
shooting stars mentioned by the Arabian writers with the epochs found by
Boguslawski for the fourteenth century, I obtain the following more or less
accordant elements of the movements of the nodes:
     In Oct., 902, on the night in which King Ibrahim ben Ahmed died, there
fell a heavy shower of shooting stars, "like a fiery rain;" and this year
was, therefore, called the year of stars.  (Conde, 'Hist. de la Domin.' de
los Arabes', p. 346.)
     On the 19th of Oct., 1202, the stars were in motion all night.  "They
fell like locusts."  ('Comptes Rendus', 1837, t. i., p. 294; and Fr¾hn, in
the 'Bull. de l'AcadŽmie de St. PŽtersbourg', t. iii., p. 308.)
     On the 21st Oct., O.S., 1366, "'die sequente post festum XI. millia
Virginum ab hora matutina usque ad horam primam vis¾ sunt quasi stell¾ de
c¾lo cadere continuo, et in tanta multitudine, quod nemo narrare suf
ficit.'"  This remarkable notice, of which we shall speak more fully in the
subsequent part of this work, was found by the younger Von Boguslawski, in
Benesse (de Horowic) de Weitmil or WeithmŸl, 'Chronicon Ecclesi¾
Pragensis', p. 389.  This chronicle may also be found in the second part of
'Scriptores rerum Bohemicarum', by Pelzel and Dobrowsky, 1784.  (Schum.,
'Astr. Nachr.', Dec., 1839.)
     On the night between the 9th and 10th of November, 1787, many falling
stars were observed at Manheim, Southern Germany, by Hemmer (KŠmtz,
'Meteor.', th. iii., s. 237.)
     After midnight, on the 12th of November, 1799, occurred the
extraordinary fall of stars at Cumana, which Bonpland and myself have
described, and which was observed over a great part of the earth.  ('Relat.
Hist.', t. i., p. 519-527.)
     Between the 12th and 13th of November, 1822, shooting stars,
intermingled with fire-balls, were seen in large numbers by Kloden, at
Potsdam.  (Gilbert's 'Ann.', bd. lxxii., s. 291.)
     On the 13th of November, 1831, at 4 o'clock in the morning, a great
shower of falling stars was seen by Captain BŽrard, on the Spanish coast,
near Carthagena del Levante.  ('Annuaire', 1836, p. 297.)
     In the night between the 12th and 13th of November, 1833, occurred the
phenomenon so admirably described by Professor Olmsted, in North America.
     In the night of the 13-14th of November, 1834, a similar fall of
shooting stars was seen in North America, although the numbers were not
quite so considerable.  (Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xxxiv., s. 129.)
     On the 13th of November, 1835, a barn was set on fire by the fall of a
sporadic fire-ball, at Belley, in the Department de l'Ain.  ('Annuaire',
1836, p. 296.)
     In the year 1838, the stream showed itself most decidedly on the night
of the 13-14th of November.  ('Astron. Nachr.', 1838, No. 372.)

On the recurrence of falls of shooting stars in North America, in the month
of November of the years 1834 and 1837, and in the analogous falls observed
at Bremen in 1838, a like general parallelism of the orbits, and the same
direction of the meteors from the constellation Leo, were again noticed.  It
has been supposed that a greater parallelism was observable in the direction
of periodic falls of shooting stars than in those of sporadic occurrence;
and it has further been remarked, that in the periodically-recurring falls
in the month of August, as, for instance, in the year 1839, the meteors came
principally from one point between Perseus and Taurus, toward the latter of
which constellations in the Earth was then moving.  This peculiarity of the
phenomenon, manifested in the retrograde direction of the orbits in November
and August, should be thoroughly investigated by accurate observations, in
order that it may either be fully confirmed or refuted.

The heights of shooting stars, that is to say, the heights of the points at
which they begin and cease to be visible, vary exceedingly, fluctuating
between 16 and 140 miles.  This important result, and the enormous velocity
of these problematical asteroids, were first ascertained by Benzenberg and
Brandes, by simultaneous observations and determinations of parallax at the
extremities of a base line of 49,020 feet in length.*

[footnote]  *I am well aware that, among the 62 shooting stars
simultaneously observed in Silesia, in 1823, at the suggestion of Professor
Brandes some appeared to have an elevation of 183 to 240, or even 400 miles.
 (Brandes, 'Unterhaltungen fŸr Freunde der Astronomie und Physik', heft i.,
s. 48.  Instructive Narratives for the Lovers of Astronomy and Physics.)
But Olbers considered that all determinations for elevations beyond 120
miles must be doubtful, owing to the smallness of the parallax.

The relative velocity of motion is from 18 to 36 miles in a second, and
consequently equal to planetary velocity.  This planetary velocity,* as well
as the direction of the orbits
p 121
of fire-balls and shooting stars, which has frequently been observed to be
opposite to that of the Earth, may be considered as conclusive arguments
against the hypothesis that a‘rolites derive their origin from the
so-called active 'lunar volcanoes.'

[footnote]  *The planetary velocity of translation, the movement in the
orbit, is in Mercury 26.4, in Venus 19.2, and in the Earth 16.4 miles in a

Numerical views regarding a greater or lesser volcanic force on a small
cosmical body, not surrounded by any atmosphere, must, from their nature, be
wholly arbitrary.  We may imagine the reaction of the interior of a planet
on its crust ten or even a hundred times greater than that of our present
terrestrial volcanoes; the direction of masses projected from a satellite
revolving from west to east might appear retrogressive, owing to the Earth
in its orbit subsequently reaching that point of space at which these bodies
fall.  If we examine the whole sphere of relations which I have touched upon
in this work, in order to escape the charge of having made unproved
assertions, we shall find that the hypothesis of the selenic origin of
meteoric stones* depends upon a number of conditions
p 122
whose accidental coincidence could alone convert a possible into an actual

[footnote]  *Chladni states that an Italian physicist, Paolo Maria Terzago,
on the occasion of the fall of an a‘rolite at Milan in 1660, by which a
Franciscan monk was killed, was the first who surmised that a‘rolites were
of selenic origin.  He says, in a memoir entitled 'Mus¾um Septalianum,
Manfredi Septal¾, Patricii Mediolanensis, industrioso labore constructum'
(Tortona, 1664, p. 44), "Labant philosophorum mentes sub horum lapidum
ponderibus; ni dicire velimus, lunan terram alteram, sine mundum esse, ex
cujus montibus divisa frustra in inferiorem nostrum hunc orben dela bantur."
 Without any previous knowledge of this conjecture, Olbers was led, in the
year 1795 (after the celebrated fall at Siena on the 16th of June, 1794),
into an investigation of the amount of the initial tangential force that
would be requisite to bring to the Earth masses projected from the Moon.
This ballistic problem occupied, during ten or twelve years, the attention
of the geometricians Laplace, Biot, Brandes, and Poisson.  The opinion which
was then so prevalent, but which has since been abandoned, of the existence
of active volcanoes in the Moon, where air and water are absent, led to a
confusion in the minds of the generality of persons between mathematical
possibilities and physical probabilities.  Olbers, Brandes, and Chladni
thought "that the velocity of 16 to 32 miles, with which fire-balls and
shooting stars entered our atmosphere," furnished a refutation to the view
of their selenic origin.  According to Olbers, it would require to reach the
Earth, setting aside the resistance of the air, an initial velocity of 8292
feet in the second; according to Laplace, 7862; to Biot, 8282; and to
Poisson, 7595.  Laplace states that this velocity is only five or six times
as great as that of a cannon ball; but Olbers has shown "that, with such an
initial velocity as 7500 or 8000 feet in a second, meteoric stones would
arrive at the surface of our earth with a velocity of only 35,000 feet (or
1.53 German geographical mile).  But the measured velocity of meteoric
stones averages five such miles, or upward of 114,000 feet to a second; and,
consequently, the original velocity of projection from the Moon must be
almost 110,000 feet, and therefore fourteen times greater than Laplace
asserted."  (Olbers, in Schum, 'Jahrb.', 1837, p. 52-58; and in Gehler,
'Neues Physik.'  'Wšrterbuche', bd. vi., abth.3, s. 2199-2136.)  If we
could assume volcanic forces to be still active on the Moon's surface, the
absence of atmospheric resistance would certainly give to their projectile
force an advantage over that of our terrestrial volcanoes; but even in
respect to the measure of the latter force (the projectile force of our own
volcanoes), we have no observations on which any reliance can be placed, and
it has probably been exceedingly overrated.  Dr. Peters, who accurately
observed and measured the phenomena presented by ®tna, found that the
greatest velocity of any of the stones projected from the crater was only
1250 feet to a second.  Observations on the Peak of Teneriffe, in 1798, gave
3000 feet.  Although Laplace, at the end of his work ('Expos. du Syst. du
Monde', ed. de 1824, p. 399), cautiously observes, regarding a‘rolites,
"that in all probability they come from the depths of space," yet we see
from another passage (chap. vi., p. 233) 6that, being probably unacquainted
with the extraordinary planetary velocity of meteoric stones, he inclines to
the hypothesis of their lunar origin, always, however, assuming that the
stones projjected from the Moon "become satellites of our Earth, describing
around it more or less eccentric orbits, and thus not reaching its
atmosphere until several or even many revolutions have been accomplished."
As an Italian at Tortona had the fancy that a‘rolites came from the Moon,
so some of the Greek philosophers thought they came from the Sun.  This was
the opinion of Diogenes Laertius (ii., 9) regarding the origin of the mass
that fell at "gos Potamos (see note, p. 116).  Pliny, whose labors in
recording the opinions and statements of preceding writers are astonishing,
repeats the theory, and derides it the more freely, because he, with earlier
writers (Diog. Laert., 3 and 5, p. 99, HŸbner), accuses Anaxagoras of
having predicted the fall of a‘rolites from the
Sun:  "Celebrant Gr¾ci Anaxagoram Clazomenium Olympiadis septuagesim¾
octav¾ secundo anno pr¾dixisse c¾lestium litterarum scientia quibus
diebus saxum casurum esse e sole, idque factum interdia in Thraci¾ parte ad
gos flumen.  Quod si quis pr¾dictum credat, simul fateatur necesse est,
majoris miraculi divinitatem Anaxagor¾ fuisse, solvique rerum natur¾
intellectum, et confundi omnia, si aut ipse Sol lapis esse aut unquam
lapidem in eo fuisse credatur; decidere tamen crebro non erit dubium."  The
fall of a moderate-sized stone, which is preserved in the Gymnasium at
Abydos, is also reported to have been foretold by Anaxagoras.  The fall of
a‘rolites in bright sunshine, and when the Moon's disk was invisible,
probably led to the idea of sun-stones.  Moreover, according to one of the
physical dogmas of Anaxagoras, which brought on him the persecution of the
theologians (even as they have attacked the geologists of our own times),
the Sun was regarded as "a molten fiery mass" ([Greed words]).  In
accordance with these views of Anaxagoras, we find Euripides, in 'Pha‘ton',
terming the Sun "a golden mass;" that is to say, a fire-colored,
brightly-shining matter, but not leading to the inference that a‘rolites
are golden sun-stones.  (See note to page 115.)  Compare Valckenaer,
'Diatribe in Eurip. perd. Dram. Reliquias', 1767, p. 30.  Diog. Laert., ii.,
40.  Hence, among the Greek philosophers, we find four hypotheses regarding
the origin of falling stars:  a telluric origin from ascending exhalations;
masses of stone raised by hurricane (see Aristot., 'Meteor., lib. i., cap.
iv., 2-13, and cap. vii., 9); a solar origin; and, lastly, an origin in the
regions of space, as heavenly bodies which had long remained invisible.
Respecting this  last opinion, which is that of Diogenes of Apollonia, and
entirely accords with that of the present day, see pages 124 and 125.  It is
worthy of remark, that in Syria, as I have been assured by a learned
Orientalist, now resident at Smyrna, Andrea de Nericat, who instructed me in
Persian, there is a popular belief that a‘rolites chiefly fall on clear
moonlight nights.  The ancients, on the contrary, especially looked for
their fall during lunar eclipses.  (See Pliny, xxxvii., 10, p. 164.
Solinus, c. 37.  Salm., 'Exere.', p. 531; and the passages collected by
Ukert, in his 'Geogr. der Griechen und Ršmer', th. ii., 1, s. 131, note
14.)  On the improbability that meteoric masses are formed from
metal-dissolving gases, which, according to Fusinieri, may exist in the
highest strata of our atmosphere, and previously diffused through an almost
boundless space, may suddenly assume a solid condition, and on the
penetration and misceability of gases, see my '
Relat. Hist.', t. i., p. 525.

p 122
The view of the original existence of
p 123
small planetary masses in space is simpler, and at the same time, more
analogous with those entertained concerning the formation of other portions
of the solar system.

It is very probable that a large number of these cosmical bodies traverse
space undestroyed by the vicinity of our atmosphere, and revolve round the
Sun without experiencing any alteration but a slight increase in the
eccentricity of their orbits, occasioned by the attraction of the Earth's
mass.  We may, consequently, suppose the possibility of these bodied
remaining invisible to us during many years and frequent revolutions.  The
supposed phenomenon of ascending shooting stars and fire-balls, which
Chladni has unsuccessfully endeavored to explain on the hypothesis of the
'reflection' of strongly compressed air, appears at first sight as the
consequence of some unknown tngential force propelling bodies from the
earth; but Bessel has shown by theoretical deductions, confirmed by Feldt's
carefully-conducted calculations, that, owing to the absence of any proofs
of the simultaneous occurrence of the observed disappearances, the
assumptiopn of an ascent of shooting stars was rendered wholly improbable,
and inadmissible as a result of observation.*

[footnote] *Bessel, in Schum., 'Astr. Nachr.', 1839, No 389 und 381, s. 222
und 346.  At the conclusion of the Memoir there is a comparison of the Sun's
longitudes with the epochs of the November phenomenon, from the period of
the first observations in Cumana in 1799,

The opinion advanced by Olbers that the explosion of shooting stars and
ignited fire-balls not moving in straight lines may impel meteors upward in
the manner of rockets, and influence the direction of their orbits, must be
made the subject of future researches.

Shooting stars fall either seprately and in inconsiderable numbers, that is,
sporadically, or in swarms of many thousands.
p 124
The latter, which are compared by Arabian authors to swarms of locusts, are
periodic in their occurrence, and move in streams, generally in a parallel
direction.  Among periodic falls, the most celebrated are that known as the
November phenomenon, occurring from about the 12th to the 14th of November,
and that of the festival of St. Lawrence (the 10th of August), whose "fiery
tears" were noticed in former times in a church calendar of England, no less
than in old traditionary legends, as a meteorological event of constant

[footnote]  *Dr. Thomas Forster ('The Pocket Encyclopedia of Natural
Phenomena' 1827, p. 17) states that a manuscript is preserved in the library
of Christ's College, Cambridge,** written in the tenth century by a monk,
and entitled 'Ephemerides Rerum Naturalium', in which the natural phenomena
for each day of the year are inscribed as, for instance, the first flowering
of plants, the arrival of birds, etc.; the 10th of August is distinguished
by the word "meteorodes."  It was this indication, and the tradition of the
fiery tears of St. Lawrence, that chiefly induced Dr. Forster to undertake
his extremely zealous investigation of the August phenomena.  (Quetelet,
'Correspond. MathŽm.', SŽrie III., t. i., 1837, p. 433.)

[further footnote]  **[No such manuscript is at present known to exist in
the library of that college.  For this information I am indebted to the
inquiries of Mr. Cory, of Pembroke College, the learned editor of
'Hieroglyphics of Horapollo Nilous', Greek and English, 1840.] -- Tr.

Notwithstanding the great quantity of shooting stars and fire-balls of the
most various dimensions, which, according to Klšden, were seen to fall at
Potsdam on the night between the 12th and 13th of November, 1822, and on the
same night of the year in 1832 throughout the whole of Europe, from
Portsmouth to Orenburg on the Ural River, and even in the southern
hemisphere, as in the Isle of France, no attention was directed to the
'periodicity' of the phenomenon, and no idea seems to have been entertained
of the connection existing between the fall of shooting stars and the
recurrence of certain days, until the prodigious swarm of shooting stars
which occurred in North America between the 12th and 13th of November, 1833,
and was observed by Olmsted and Palmer.  The stars fell on this occasion,
like flakes of snow, and it was calculated that at least 240,000 had fallen
during a period of nine hours.  Palmer, of New Haven, Connecticut, was led,
in consequence of this splendid phenomenon, to the recollection of the fall
of meteoric stones in 1799, first described by Ellicot and myself,* and
which, by
p 125
a comparison of the facts I had adduced, showed that the phenomenon had been
simultaneously seen in the New Continent, from the equator to New Herrnhut
in Greenland (65 degrees 14' north latitude), and between 46 degrees and 82
degrees longitude.

[footnote]  *Humb., 'Rel. Hist.', t. i., p. 519-527.  Ellicot in the
'Transactions of the American Society', 1804, vol. vi., . 29.  Arago makes
the following observations in reference to the November phenomena:  "We thus
become more and more confirmed in the belief that there exists a zone
composed of millions of small bodies, whose orbits cut the plane of the
ecliptic at about the point which out Earth annually occupies between the
11th and 13th of November.  It is a new planetary world beginning to be
revealed to us."  ('Annuaire', 1836, p. 296.)

The identity of the epochs was recognized with astonishment.  The stream
which had been seen from Jamaica to Boston (40 degrees 21' north latitude)
to traverse the whole vault of heaven on the 12th and 13th of November,
1833, was again observed in the United States in 1834, on the night between
the 13th and 14th of November, although on this latter occasion it showed
itself with somewhat less intensity.  In Europe the periodicity of the
phenomenon has since been manifested with great regularity.

Another and a like regularly recurring phenomenon is that noticed in the
month of August, the meteoric stream of St. Lawrence, appearing between the
9th and 14th of August.  Muschenbrock,* as early as in the middle of the
last century, drew attention to the frequency of meteors in the month of
August' but their certain periodic return about the time of St. Lawrence's
day was first shown by Quetelet, Olbers, and Benzenberg.

[footnote]  *Compare Muschenbroek, 'Introd. ad Phil. Nat.', 1762, t. ii., p.
1061; Howard, 'On the Climate of London', vol. ii., p. 23, observations of
the year 1806; seven years, therefore aftr the earliest observations of
Brandes (Benzenberg, 'Ÿber Sternschnuppen', s. 240-244); the August
observations of Thomas Forster, in Quetelet, op. cit., p. 438-453; those of
Adolph Erman, Boguslawski, and Kreil, in Schum., 'Jahrb.', 1838, s. 317-330.
 Regarding the point of origin in Perseus, on the 10th of August, 1839, see
the accurate measurements of Bessel and Erman (Schum., 'Astr. Nachr.', No.
385 und 428); but on the 10th of August, 1837, the path does not apper to
have been retrograde; see Arago in 'Comptes Rendus', 1837, t. ii., p. 183.

We shall, no doubt, in time, discover other periodically appearing streams,*
probably about the 22d to the
p. 126
25th of April, between the 6th and 12th of December, and, to judge by the
number of true falls of a‘rolites enumerated by Capocci, also between the
27th and 29th of November, of about the 17th of July.

[footnote]  *On the 25th of April, 1095, "innumerable eyes in France saw
stars falling from heaven as thickly as hail" ('ut grando, nisi lucerent,
pro densitate putaretur'; Baldr., p. 88), and this occurrence was regarded
by the Council of Clermont as indicative of the great movement in
Christendom.  (Wilken, 'Gesch. der KreuzzŸge', bd. i., s. 75.)  On the 25th
of April, 1800, a great fall of stars was observed in Virginia and
Massachusetts; it was "a fire of rockets that lasted two hours."  Arago was
the first to call attention to the "trainŽe d'astero•des," as a recurring
phenomenon.  ('Annuaire', 1836, p. 297.)  The falls of a‘rolites in the
beginning of the month of December are also deserving of notice.  In
reference to their periodic recurrence as a meteoric stream, we may mention
the early observation of Brandes on the night of the 6th and 7th of
December, 1798 (when he counted 2000 falling stars), and very probably the
enormous fall of a‘rolites that occurred at the Rio Assu, near the village
of Macao, in the Brazils, on the 11th of December, 1836.  (Brandes,
'Unterhalt. fŸr Freunde der Physik', 1825, heft i., s. 65, and 'Comptes
Rendus', t. v., p. 211.)  Capocci, in the interval between 1809 and 1839, a
space of thirty years, has discovered twelve authenticated cases of
a‘rolites occurring between the 27th and 29th of November, besides others
on the 13th of November, the 10th of August, and the 17th of July.
('Comptes Rendus', t. xi., p. 357.)  It is singular that in the portion of
the Earth's path corresponding with the months of January and February, and
probably also with March, no 'periodic' streams of falling stars of
a‘rolites have as yet been noticed; although when in the South Sea in the
year 1803, I observed on the 15th of March a remarkably large number of
falling stars, and they were seen to fall as in a swarm in the city of
Quito, shortly before the terrible earthquake of Riobamba on the 4th of
February, 1797.  From the phenomena hitherto observed, the following epochs
seem especially worthy of remark:
22d to the 25th of April.
17th of July (17th to the 26th of July?).  (Quet., 'Corr.', 1837, p. 435.)
10th of August.
12th to the 14th of November.
27th to the 29th of November.
6th to the 12th of December.
When we consider that the regions of space must be occupied by myriads of
comets, we are led by analogy, notwithstanding the differences existing
between isolated comets and rings filled with asteroids, to regard the
frequency of these meteoric streams with less astonishment than the first
consideration of the phenomenon would be likely to excite.

Although the phenomena hitherto observed appear to have been independent of
the distance from the pole, the temperature of the air, and other climatic
relations, there is, however, one perhaps accidentally coincident phenomenon
which must not be wholly disregarded.  The Northern Light, the Aurora
Borealis, was unusually brilliant on the occurrence of the Borealis, was
unusually brilliant on the occurrence of the splendid fall of meteors of the
12th and 13th November, 1833, described by Olmsted.  It was also observed at
Bremen in 1838, where the periodic meteoric fall was, however, less
remarkable than at Richmond, near London.  I have mentioned in another work
the singular fact observed by Admiral Wrangel, and frequently confirmed to
me by himself,* that when he
p 127
was on the Siberian coast of the Polar Sea, he observed, during an Aurora
Borealis, certain portions of the vault of heaven which were not
illuminated, light up and continue luminous whenever a shooting star passed
over them.

[footnote]  *Ferd. v. Wrangle, 'Reise lŠngs der NordkŸste von Sibirien in
den Jahren', 1820-1824, th. ii., s. 259.  Regarding the recurrence of the
denser swarm of the November stream after an interval of thirty-three years,
see Olbers, in 'Jahrb.', 1837, s. 280.  I was informed in Cumana that
shortly before the fearful earthquake of 1766, and consequently thirty-three
years (the same interval) before the great fall of stars on the 11th and
12th of November, 1799, a similar fiery manifestation had been observed in
the heavens.  But it was on the 21st of October, 1766, and not in the
beginning of November, that the earthquake occurred.  Possibly some traveler
in Quito may yet be able to ascertain the day on which the volcano of
Cayambe, which is situated there, was for the space of an hour enveloped in
falling stars, so that the inhabitants endeavored to appease heaven by
religious processions.  ('Relat. Hist.', t. i., chap. iv., p 307; chap. x.,
p. 520 and 527.)

The different meteoric streams, each of which is composed of myriads of
small cosmical bodies, probably intersect our Earth's orbit in the same
manner as Biela's comet.  According to this hypothesis, we may represent to
ourselves these asteroid-meteors as composing a closed ring or zone, within
which they all pursue one common orbit.  The s aller planets between Mars
and Jupiter present us if we except Pallas with an analogous relation in
their constantly intersecting orbits.  As yet, however, we have no certain
knowledge as to whether changes in the periods at which the stream becomes
visible, or the 'retardations' of the phenomena of which I have already
spoken, indicate a regular precession of oscillation of the nodes -- that is
to say, of the points of intersection of the Earth's orbit and of that of
the ring; or whether this ring or zone attains so considerable a degree of
breadth from the irregular grouping and distances apart of the small bodies,
that it requires several days for the Earth to traverse it.  The system of
Saturn's satellites shows us likewise a group of immense width, composed of
most intimately-connected cosmical bodies.  In this system, the orbit of the
outermost (the seventh) satellite has such a vast diameter, that the Earth,
in her revolution round the Sun, requires three days to traverse an extent
of space equal to this diameter.  If, therefore, in one of these rings,
which we regard as the orbit of a periodical stream, the asteroids should be
so irregularly distributed as to consist of but few groups sufficiently
dense to give rise to these phenomena, we may easily understand why we so
seldom witness such glorious spectacles as those exhibited in the November
months of 1799 and 1833.  The acute mind of Olbers led him almost to predict
that the next appearance of the phenomenon of shooting stars and fire-balls
intermixed, falling like flakes of snow, would not recur until between the
12th and 14th of November, 1867.

p 128
The stream of the November asteroids has occasionally only been visible in a
small section of the Earth.  Thus, for instance, a very splendid 'meteoric
shower' was seen in England in the year 1837, while a most attentive and
skillful observer at Braunsberg, in Prussia only saw on the same night,
which was there uninterruptedly clear, a few sporadic shooting stars fall
between seven o'clock in the evening and sunrise the next morning.  Bessel*
concluded from this "that a dense group of the bodies composing the great
ring may have reached that part of the Earth in which England is situated,
while the more eastern districts of the Earth might be passing at the time
through a part of the meteoric ring proportionally less densely studded with

[footnote]  *From a letter to myself, dated Jan. 24th, 1838.  The enormous
swarm of falling stars in November, 1799, was almost exclusively seen in
America, where it was witnessed from New Herrnhut in Greenland to the
equator.  The swarms of 1831 and 1832 were visible only in Europe, and those
of 1833 and 1834 only in the United States of North America.

If the hypothesis of a regular progression or oscillation of the nodes
should acquire greater weight, special interest will be attached to the
investigation of older observations.  The Chinese annals, in which great
falls of shooting stars, as well as the phenomena of comets, are recorded,
go back beyond the age of Tyrt¾s, or the second Messenian war.  They give a
description of two streams in the month of March, one of which is 687 years
anterior to the Christian era.  Edward Biot has observed that among the
fifty-two phenomena which he has collected from the Chinese annals, those
that were of most frequent recurrence are recorded at periods nearly
corresponding with the 20th and 22d of July, O.S., and might consequently be
identical with the stream of St. Lawrence's day, taking into account that it
has advanced since the epochs* indicated.

[footnote]  *Lettre de M. Edouard Biot ˆ M. Quetelet, sur les anciennes
apparitions d'Etoiles Filantes en Chine, in the 'Bull. de l'AcadŽmie de
Bruxelles', 1843, t. x., No. 7, p. 8.  On the notice from the 'Chronicon
Ecclesi¾ Pragensis', see the younger Boguslawski, in Poggend., 'Annalen',
bd. xlviii., s. 612.

If the fall of shooting stars of the 21st of October, 1366, O.S. (a notice
of which was found by the younger Von Boguslawski, in Benessius de Horowic's
'Chronicon Ecclesi¾ Pragensis'), be identical with our November phenomenon,
although the occurrence in the fourteenth century was seen in broad
daylight, we find by the precession in 477 years that this system of
meteors, or, rather, its common center of gravity, must describe
p 129
a retrograde orbit round the Sun.  It also follows, from the views thus
developed, that the non-appearance, during certain years, in any portion of
the Earth, of the two streams hitherto observed in November and about the
time of St. Lawrence's day, must be ascribed either to an interruption in
the meteoric ring, that is to say, to intervals occurring between the
asteroid groups, or, according to Poisson to the action of the larger
planets* on the form and position of this annulus.

[footnote]  *"It appears that an apparently inexhaustible number of bodies,
too small to be observed, are moving in the regions of space, either around
the Sun or the planets, or perhaps even around their satellites.  It is
supposed that when these bodies come in contact with our atmosphere, the
difference between their velocity and that of our planet is so great, that
the friction which they experience from their contact with the air heats
them to incandescence, and sometimes causes their explosion.  If the group
of falling stars form an annulus around the Sun, its velocity of circulation
may be very different from that of our Earth; and the displacements it may
experience in space, in consequence of the actions of the various planets,
may render the phenomenon of its intersecting the planes of the ecliptic
possible at some epochs, and altogether impossible at others." -- Poisson,
'Recherches sur la ProbabilitŽ des Jugements', p. 306, 307.

The solid masses which are observed by night to fall to the earth from
fire-balls, and by day generally when the sky is clear, from a cark small
cloud, are accompanied by much candescence.  They undeniably exhibit a great
degree of general identity with respect to their external form, the
character of their crust, and the chemical composition of their principal
constituents.  These characteristics of identity have been observed at all
the different epochs and in the most various parts of the earth in which
these meteoric stones have been found.  This striking and early-observed
analogy of physiognomy in the denser meteoric masses is, however, met by
many exceptions regarding individual points.  What differences, for
instance, do we not find between the malleable masses of for instance, do we
not find between the malleable masses of iron of Hradeschina in the district
of Agram, those from the shores of the Sisim in the government of Jeniseisk,
rendered so celebrated by Pallas, or those which I brought from Mexico,* all
of which contain 96 per cent. of iron, from the a‘rolites of Siena, in
which the iron scarcely amounts to 2 per cent., or the earthy a‘rolite of
Alais (in the Department du Gard), which broke up in water, or, lastly, from
those of Jonzac and Javenas, which contained no metallic iron, but presented
p 130
mixture of oryctognostically distinct crystalline compoonents!

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Essai Politique sur la Nouv. Espagne' (2de Ždit.),
t. iii. p. 310.

These differences have led mineralogists to separate these cosmical masses
into two classes, namely, those containing nickelliferous meteoric iron, and
those consisting of fine or coarsely-granular meteoric dust.  The crust or
rind of a‘rolites is peculiarly characteristic of these bodies, being only
a few tenths of a line in thickness, often glossy and pitch-like, and
occasionally veined.*

[footnote]  *The peculiar color of their crust was observed even as early as
in the time of Pliny (ii., 56 and 58):  "colore adusto."  The phrase
"lateribus pluisse" seems also to refer to the burned outer surface of

There is only one instance on record, as far as I am aware (the a‘rolite of
Chantonnay, in La VendŽe), in which the rind was absent, and this meteor,
like that of Juvenas, presented likewise the peculiarity of having pores and
vesicular cavities.  In all other cases the black crust is divided from the
inner light-gray mass by as sharply-defined a line of separation as is the
black leaden-colored investment of the white granit blocks* which I brought
from the cataracts of the Orinoco, and which are also associated with many
other cataracts, as, for instance, those of the Nile and of the Congo River.

[footnote]  * Humb., 'Rel. Hist.', t. ii., chap xx., p. 299-302.

The greatest heat employed in our porcelain ovens would be insufficient to
produce any thing similar to the crust of meteoric stones, whose interior
remains wholly unchanged.  Here and there, facts have been observed which
would seem to indicate a fusion together of the meteoric fragments; but, in
general, the character of the aggregate mass, the absence of compression by
the fall, and the inconsiderable degree of heat possessed by these bodies
when they reach the earth, are all opposed to the hypothesis of the interior
being in a state of fusion during their short passage from the boundary of
the atmosphere to our Earth.

The chemical elements of which these meteoric masses consist, and on which
Berzelius has thrown so much light, are the same as those distributed
throughout the earth's crust, and are fifteen in number, namely, iron,
nickel, cobalt, manganese, chromium, copper, arsenic, zinc, potash, soda,
sulphur, phosphorus, and carbon, constituting altogether nearly one third of
all the known simple bodies.  Notwithstanding this similarity with the
primary elements into which inorganic bodies are chemically reducible, the
aspect of a‘rolites, owing to the mode in which their constituent parts are
compounded, presents, generally, some features foreign to our telluric rocks
and minerals.  The pure native iron, which is almost always
p 131
found incorporated with a‘rolites, imparts to them a peculiar, but not
consequently, a 'selenic' character; for in other regions of space, and in
other cosmical bodies besides our Moon, water may be wholly absent, and
processes of oxydation of rare occurence.

Cosmical gelatinous vesicles, similar to the organic 'nostoc' (masses which
have been supposed since the Middle Ages to be connected with shooting
stars), and those pyrites of Sterlitamak, west of the Uralian Mountains,
which are said to have constituted the interior of hailstones,* must both be
classed among the mythical fables of meteorology.

[footnote]  *Gustav Rose, 'Reise nach dem Ural', bd. II., s. 202.

Some few a‘rolites, as those composed of a finely granular tissue of
olivine, augite, and labradorite blended together* (as the meteoric stone
found at Juvenas, in the Department de l'Ardche, which resembled
dolorite), are the only ones, as Gustav Rose has remarked, which have a more
familiar aspect.

[footnote] *Gustav Rose, in Poggend., 'Ann.', 1825, bd. iv., x. 173-192.
Rammelsberg, 'Erstes Suppl. zum chem. Handwšrterbuche der Mineralogie',
1843, s. 102.  "It is," says the clear-minded observer Olbers, "a remarkable
but hitherto unregarded fact, that while shells are found in secondary and
tertiary formations, no 'fossil meteoric stones' have as yet been
discovered.  May we conclude from this circumstance that previous to the
present and last modification of the earth's surface no meteoric stones fell
on it, although at the present time it appears probable, from the researches
of Schreibers, that 700 fall annually?"  (Olbers, in Schum., 'Jahrb.', 1838,
s. 329.)  Problematical nickelliferous masses of native iron have been found
in Northern Asia (at the gold-washing establishment at Petropawlowsk, eighty
miles southeast of Kusnezk), imbedded thirty-one feet in the ground, and
more recently in the Western Carpathians (the mountain chain of Magura, at
Szlanicz), both of which are remarkably like meteoric stones.  Compart
Erman, 'Archiv fŸr wissenschaftliche Kunde von Russland', bd. i., s. 315,
and Haidinger, 'Bericht Ÿber Szlaniczer SchŸrfe in Ungarn.'

These bodiescontain, for instance, crystalline substances, perfectly similar
to those of our earth's crust; and in the Siberian mass of meteoric iron
investigated by Pallas, the olivine only differs from common olivine by the
absence of nickel, which is replaced by the oxyd of tin.*

[footnote]  *Berzelius, 'Jahresber.', bd. xv., s. 217 und 231.  Rammelsberg,
'Handwšrterb., abth. ii., s. 25-28.

As meteoric olivine, like our basalt, contains from 47 to 49 per cent. of
magnesia, constituting, according to Berzelius, almost the half of the
earthy components of meteoric stones, we can not be surprised at the great
quantity of silicate of magnesia found in these cosmical bodies.  If the
z‘rolite of Juvenas contain separable crystals of augite and labradorite,
the numerical relation of the constituents
p 132
render it at least probable that the meteoric masses of Chateau-Renard may
be a compound of diorite, consisting of hornblende and albite, and those of
Blansko and Chantonnay compounds of hornblende and labradorite.  The proofs
of the telluric and atmospheric origin of aUerolites, which it is attempted
to base upon the oryctognostic analogies presented by these bodies, do not
appear to me to possess any great weight.

Recalling to mind the remarkable interview between Newton and Conduit at
Kensington,* I would ask why the elementary substances that compose one
group of cosmical bodies, or one planetary system, may not, in a great
measure, be identical?

[footnote]  * "Sir Isaac Newton said he took all the planets to be composed
of the same matter with the Earth, viz., earth, water, and stone, but
variously connected." -- Turner, 'Collections for the History of Grantham,
containing authentic Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton', p. 172.

Why should we not adopt this view, since we may conjecture that these
planetary bodies, like all the larger or smaller agglomerated masses
revolving round the sun, have been thrown off from the once far more
expanded solar atmosphere, and been formed from vaporous rintgs describing
their orbits round the central body?  We are not, it appears to me, more
justified in applying the term telluric to the nickel and iron, the olivine
and pyroxene (augite), found in meteoric stones, than in indicating the
German plants which I found beyond the Obi as European species of the flora
of Northern Asia.  If the elementary substances composing a group of
cosmical bodies of different magnitudes be identical, why should they not
likewise, in obeying the laws of mutual attraction, blend together under
definite relations of mixture, composing the white glittring snow and ice in
the polar zones of the planet Mars, or constituting in the smaller cosmical
masses mineral bodies inclosing crystals of olivine, augite, and
labradorite?  Even in the domain of pure conjecture we should not suffer
ourselves to be led away by unphilosophical and arbitrary views devoid of
the support of inductive reasoning.

Remarkable obscurations of the sun's disk, during which the stars have been
seen at mid-day (as, for instance, in the obscuration of 1547, which
continued for three days, and occurred about the time of the eventful battle
of MŸhlberg), can not be explained as arising from volcanic ashes or mists,
and were regarded by Kepler as owing either to a 'materia cometica', or to a
black cloud formed by the sooty exhalations of the solar body.  The shorter
obscurations of 1090 and 1203, which continued, the one only three, and the
other six
p 133
hours, were supposed by Chladni and Schnurrer to be occasioned by the
passage of meteoric masses before the sun's disk.  Since the period that
streams of meteoric shooting stars were first considered with reference to
the direction of their orbit as a closed ring, the epochs of these
mysterious celestial phenomena have been observed to present a remarkable
connection with the regular recurrence of swarms of shooting stars Adolph
Erman has evinced great acuteness of mind in his accurate investigation of
the facts hitherto observed on this subject, and his researches have enabled
him to discover the connection of the sun's conjunction with the August
asteroids on the 7th of February, and with the November asteroids on the
12th of May, the latter period corresponding with the days of
St. Mamert (May 11th), St. Pancras (May 12th), and St. Servatius (May 13th),
which according to popular belief, were accounted "cold days."*

[footnote]  Adolph Erman, in Poggend., 'Annalen', 1839, bd. xlviii., s.
582-601.  Biot had previously thrown doubt regarding the probability of the
November stream reappearing in the beginning of May ('Comptes Rendus', 1836,
t. ii., p. 670).  MŠdler has examined the mean depression of temperature on
the three ill-named days of May by Berlin observations for eighty-six years
('Verhandl. des Vereins zur Bedfšrd, des Gartenbaues', 1834, s. 377), and
found a retrogression of temperature amounting to 2.2 degrees Fahr. from the
11th to the 13th of May, a period at which nearly the most rapid advance of
heat takes place.  It is much to be desired that this phenomenon of
depressed temperature, which some have felt inclined to attribute to the
melting of the ice in the northeast of Europe, should be also investigated
in very remote spots, as in America, or in the southern hemisphere.  (Comp.
'Bull. de l'Acad. Imp. de St. PŽtersbourg', 1843, t. i., No. 4.)

The Greek natural philosophers, who were but little disposed to pursue
observations, but evinced inexhaustible fergility of imagination in giving
the most various interpretation of half-perceived facts, have, however, left
some hypotheses regarding shooting stars and meteoric stones which
strikingly accord with the views now almost universally admitted of the
cosmical process of these phenomena.  "Falling stars," says Plutarch, in his
life of Lysander,* are, according to the opinion of some physicists, not
eruptions of the ethereal fire extinguished in the air immediately after its
ignition, nor yet an inflammatory combustion of the air, which is dissolved
in large quantities in the upper regions of space, but these meteors are
rather a fall of celestial bodies, which, in consequence of a certain
intermission in the rotatory force, and by the impulse of some irregular
movements, have been hurled down not only to the inhabited portions of the
Earth, but also beyond it into the great ocean, where we can not find them."

[footnote]  *Plut., 'Vit¾ par, in Lysandro', cap. 22.  The statement of
Damachos (Da•machos), that for seventy days continuously there was a fiery
cloud seen in the sky, emitting sparks like falling stars, and which then,
sinking nearer to the earth, let fall the stone of ®gos Potamos, "which,
however, was only a small part of it," is extremely improbable, since the
direction and velocity of the fire-cloud would in that case of necessity
have to remain for so many days the same as those of the earth; and this, in
the fire-ball of the 19th of July, 1686, described by Halley ('Trans.', vol.
xxix., p. 163), lasted only a few minutes.  It is not altogether certain
whether Da•machos, the writer, [Greek words], was the same person as
Da•machos of Plat¾a, who was sent by Selencus to India to the son of
Androcottos, and who ws charged by Strabo with being "a speaker of lies" (p.
70, Casaub.).  From another passage of Plutarch ('Compar. Solonis c. Cop.',
cap. 5) we should almost believe that he was.  At all events, we have here
only the evidence of a very late author, who wrote a century and a half
after the fall of a‘rolites occurred in Thrace, and whose authenticity is
also doubted by Plutarch.

Diogenes of Apollonia* expresses himself still more explicitly.

[footnote]  *Stob., ed. Heeren, i., 25, p. 508; Plut., 'de plac. Philos.',
ii., 13.

According to his views, "Stars that are 'invisible', and, consequently, have
no name, move in space together with those that are visible.  These
invisible stars frequently fall burning at ®gos Potamos."  The Apollonian,
who held all other stellar bodies, when luminous, to be of a pumice-like
nature, probably grounded his opinions regarding shooting stars and meteoric
masses on the doctrine of Anaxagoras the Clazomenian, who regarded all the
bodies in the universe "as fragments of rocks, which the fiery ether, in the
force of its gyratory motion, had torn from the Earth and converted into
stars."  In the Ionian school, therefore, according to the testimony
transmitted to us in the views of Diogenes of Apollonia, a‘rolites and
stars were ranged in one and the same class; both, when considered with
reference to their primary origin, being equally telluric, this being
understood only so far as the Earth was then regarded as a central body,*
p 135
forming all things around it in the same manner was we, according to our
present views, suppose the planets of our system to have originated in the
expanded atmosphere of another central body, the Sun.

[footnote]  *The remarkable passage in Plut., 'de plac. Philos.', ii., 13,
runs thus:  "Anaxagoras teaches that the surrounding ether is a fiety
substance, which, by the power of its rotation, tears rocks from the earth,
inflames them, and converts them into stars."  Applying an ancient fable to
illustrate a physical dogma, the Clazomenian appears to have ascribed the
fall of the Nem¾an Lion to the Peloponnesus from the Moon to such a
rotatory or centrifugal force.  (®lian., xii., 7; Plut., 'de Facie in Orge
Lun¾' c. 24; Schol. ex Cod. Paris., in 'Apoll. Argon.', lib. i., p. 498,
ed. Schaef., t. ii., p. 40; Meineke, 'Annal. Alex.', 1843, p. 85.)  Here,
instead of stones from the Moon, we have an animal from the Moon!  According
to an acute remark of Bšckh, the ancient mythology of the Nem¾an lunar
lion has an astronomical origin, and is symbolically connected in chronology
with the cycle of intercalation of the lunar year, with the moon-worship at
Nem¾a, and the games by which it was accompanied.

These views must not, therefore, be confounded with what is commonly termed
the telluric or atmospheric origin of meteoric stones, nor yet with the
singular opinion of Aristotle, which supposed the enormous mass of ®gos
Potamos to have been raised by a hurricane. That rrogant spirit of
incredulity, which rejects facts without attempting to investigate them, is
in some cases almost more injurious than an unquestioning credulity.  Both
are alike detrimental to the force of investigation.  Notwithstanding that
for more than two thousand years the annals of different nations had
recorded falls of meteoric stones, many of which had been attested beyond
all doubt by the evidence of irreproachable eye-witnesses -- notwithstanding
the important part enacted by the B¾tylia in the meteor-worship of the
ancients -- notwithstanding the fact of the companions of Cortez having see
an a‘rolite at Cholula which had fallen on the neighboring pyramid --
notwithstanding that califs and Mongolian chiefs had caused swords to be
forged from recently-fallen meteoric stones -- nay, notwithstanding that
several persons had been struck dead by stones falling from heaven, as for
instance, a monk at Crema on the 4th of September, 1511, another monk at
Milan in 1650, and two Swedish sailors on board ship in 1674, yet this great
cosmical phenomenon remained almost wholly unheeded, and its intimate
connection drawn to the subject by Chladni, who had already gained immortal
renown by his discovery of the sound-figures.  He who is penetrated with a
sense of this mysterious connection, and whose mind is open to deep
impressions of nature, will feel himself moved by the deepest and most
solemn emotion at the sight of every star that shoots across the vault of
heaven, no less than at the glorious spectacle of meteoric swarms in the
November phenomenon or on St. Lawrence's day.  Here motion is suddenly
revealed in the midst of nocturnal rest.  The still radiance of the vault of
heaven is for a moment animated with life and movement.  In the mild
radiance left on the track of the shooting star, imagination pictures the
lengthened path of the meteor through the vault of heaven,
p 136
while, every where around, the luminous asteroids proclaim the existence of
one common material universe.

If we compare the volume of the innermost of Saturn's satellites, or that of
Ceres, with the immense volume of the Sun, all relations of magnitude vanish
from our minds.  The extinction of suddenly resplendent stars in Cassiopeia,
Cygnus, and Serpentarius have already led to the assumption of other and
non-luminous cosmical bodies.  We now know that the meteoric asteroids,
spherically agglomerated into small masses, revolve round the Sun,
intersect, like comets, the orbits of the luminous larger planets, and
become ignited either in the vicinity of our atmosphere or in its upper

The only media by which we are brought in connection with other planetary
bodies, and with all portions of the universe beyond our atmosphere, are
light and heat (the latter of which can scarcely be separated from the
former),* and those mysterious powers of attraction exercised by remote
masses, according to the quantity of their constituents, upon our globe, the
ocean, and the strata of our atmosphere.

[footnote'  *The following remarkable passage on the radiation of heat from
the fixed stars, and on their low combustion and vitality -- one of Kepler's
many aspirations -- occurs in the 'Paralipom. in Vitell. Astron.
parsOpticqa', 1604, Propos. xxxii., p. 25:  "Luciis proprium est calor,
sydera omnia calefaciunt.  De syderum luce claritatis ratio testatur,
calorem universorum in minori esse proportione ad calorem unius solis, quam
ut ab homine, cujus est certa caloris mensura, utrque simul percipi et
judicari possit.  De cincindularum lucula tenuissima negare non potes, quin
cum calore sit.  Vivunt enim et moventur, hoc auten non sine calefactione
perficitur.  Sic neque putrescentium lignorum lux sui calore destituitur;
nam ipsa puetredo quidam lentus ignis est.  Inest et stirpibus suus calor."
(Compare Kepler, 'Epit. Astron. Copernican¾', 1618, t. i., lib. i., p. 35.)

Another and different kind of cosmical, or, rather, material mode of contact
is, however, opened to us, if we admit falling stars and meteoric stones to
be planetary asteroids.  They not only act upon us merely from a distance by
the excitement of luminous or calorific vibrations, or in obedience to the
laws of mutual attraction, but they acquire an actual material existence for
us, reaching our atmosphere from the remoter regions of universal space, and
remaining on the earth itself.  Meteoric stones are the only means by which
we can be brought in possible contact with that which is foreign to our own
planet.  Accustomed to gain our knowledge of what is not telluric solely
through measurement, calculations, and the deductions of reason, we
experience a sentiment of astonishment at finding that we may examine,
weigh, and analyze bodies that appertain
p 137
to the outer world.  This awakens, by the power of the imagination, a
meditative, spiritual train of thought, where the untutored mind perceives
only scintillations of light in the firmament, and sees in the blackened
stone that falls from the exploded cloud nothing beyond the rough product of
a powerful natural force.

Although the asteroid-swarms, on which we have been led, from special
predilection, to dwell somewhat at length, approximate to a certain degree,
in their inconsiderable mass and the diversity of their orbits, to comets,
they present this essential difference from the latter bodies, that our
knowledge of their existence is almost entirely limited to the moment of
their destruction, that is, to the period when, drawn within the sphere of
the Earth's attraction they become luminous and ignite.

In order to complete our view of all that we have learned to consider as
appertaining to our solar system, which now, since the discovery of the
small planets, of the interior comets of short revolutions, and of the
meteoric asteroids, is so rich and complicated in its form, it remains for
us to speak of the ring of Zodiacal light, to which we have already alluded.
 Those who have lived for many years in the zone of palms must retain a
pleasing impression of the mild radiance with which the zodiacal light,
shooting pyramidally upward, illumines a part of the uniform length of
tropical nights.  I have seen it shine with an intensity of light equal to
the milky way in Sagittarius, and that not only in the rare and dry
atmosphere of the summits of the Andes, at an elevation of from thirteen to
fifteen thousand feet, but even on the boundless grassy plains, the Illanos
of Venezuela, and on the sea-shore, beneath the ever-clear sky of Cumana.
This phenomenon was often rendered especially beautiful by the passage of
light, fleecy clouds, which stood out in picturesque and bold relief from
the luminous back-ground.  A notice of this a‘rial spectacle is contained
in a passage in my journal, while I was on the voyage from Lima to the
western coasts of Mexico:  "For three or four nights (between 10¼degrees
and 14¼degrees north latitude) the zodiacal light has appeared in greater
splendor than I have ever observed it.  The transparency of the atmosphere
must be remarkably great in this part of the Southern Ocean, to judge by the
radiance of the stars and nebulous spots.  From the 14th to the 19th of
March a regular interval of three quarters of an hour occurred between the
disappearance of the sun's disk in the ocean and the first manifestation of
the zodiacal
p 138
light, although the night was already perfectly dark. an hour after sunset
it was seen in great briliancy between Aldebaran and the Pleiades; and on
the 18th of March it attained an altitude of 39¼degrees5'minutes.  Narrow
elongated clouds are scattered over the beautiful deep azure of the distant
horizon, flitting past the zodiacal light as before a golden curtain.  Above
these, other clouds are from time to time reflecting the most brightly
variegated colors.  It seems a second sunset.  On this side of the vault of
heaven the lightness of the night appears to increase almost as much as at
the first quarter of the moon.  Toward 10 o'clock the zodiacal light
generally becomes very faint in this part of the Southern Ocean, and at
midnight I have scarcely been able to trace a vestige of it.  On the 16th of
March, when most strongly luminous a faint reflection was visible in the
east."  In our gloomy so-called "temperate" northern zone, the zodiacal
light is only distinctly visible in the beginning of Spring, after the
evening twilight, in the western part of the sky, and at the close of
Autumn, before the dawn of day, above the eastern horizon.

It is difficult to understand how so striking a natural phenomenon should
have failed to attract the attention of physicists and astronomers until the
middle of the seventeenth century, or how it could have escaped the
observation of the Atabian natural philosophers in ancient Bactria, on the
euphrates, and in the south of Spain.  Almost equal surprise is excited by
the tardiness of observation of the nebulous spots in Andromeda and Orion,
first described by Simon Marius and Huygens.  The earliest explicit
descriptions of the zodiacal light occurs in Childrey's 'Britannia
Baconica',* in the year 1661.
p 139

[footnote]  *"There is another thing which I recommend to the observation of
mathematical men, which is that in February, and for a little before and a
little after that month (as I have observed several years together), about
six in the evening, when the twilight hath almost deserted the horizon, you
shall see a plainly discernible way of the twilight striking up toward the
Pleiades, and seeming almost to touch them.  It is so observed any clear
night, but it is best illac nocte.  There is no such way to be observed at
any other time of the year (that I can perceive), nor any other way at that
time to be perceived darting up elsewhere; and I believe it hath been, and
will be constantly visible at that time of the year; but what the cause of
it in nature should be, I can not yet imagine, but leave it to future
inquiry."  (Childrey, 'Britannia Baconica', 1661, p. 183.)  This is the
first view and a simple description of the phenomenon.  (Cassini,
'DŽcouverte de la Lumi        dfd  Žleste qui paro”t dans le Zodiaque', in the
'MŽm. de l'Acad.', t. viii., 1730, p 276.  Mairan, 'TraitŽPhys de l'Aurore
BorŽale', 1754, 0. 16.)  In this remarkable work by Childrey there are to
be found (p. 91) very clear accounts of the epochs of maxima and minima
diurnal and annual temperatures, and of the retardation of the extremes of
the effects in meteorological processes.  It is, however, to be regretted
that our Baconian-philosophy-loving author, who was Lord Henry Somerset's
chaplain, fell into the same error as Bernardin de St. Pierre, and regarded
the Earth as elongated at the poles (see p. 148).  At the first he believes
that the Earth was spherical, but supposes that the uninterrupted and
increasing addition of layers of ice at both poles has changed its figure;
and that as the ice is formed from water, the quantity of that liquid is
every where diminishing.

The first observation of the phenomenon may have been made two or three
years prior to this period; but, notwithstanding, the merit of having (in
the spring of 1683) been the first to investigate the phenomenon in all its
relations in space is incontestably due to Dominicus Cassini.  The light
which he saw at Bologna in 1668, and which was observed at the same time in
Persia by the celebrated traveler Chardin (the court astrologers of Ispahan
called this light, which had never before been observed, 'nyzek', a small
lance), was not the zodiacal light, as has often been asserted,* but the
p 140
enormous tail of a comet, whose head was concealed in the vapory mist of the
horizon, and which, from its length and appearance, presented much
similarity to the great comet of 1843.

[footnote]  *Dominicus Cassini ('MŽm. de l'Acad.', t. viii., 1730, p. 188),
and Mairan ('Aurore Bor.', p. 16), have even maintained that the phenomenon
observed in Persia in 1668 was the zodiacal light.  Delambre ('Hist. de
l'Astron. Moderne', t. ii., p. 742), in very decided trms ascribes the
discovery of this light to the celebrated traveler Chardin; but in the
'Couronnement de Soliman', and in several passages of the narrative of his
travels (Žd. de Langls. t. iv., p. 326; t. x., p. 97), he only applies
the term niazouk (nyzek), or "petite lance," to "the great and famous comet
which appeared over nearly the whole world in 1668, and whose head was so
hidden in the wewst that it could not be perceived in the horizon of
Ispahan" ('Atlas du Voyage de Chardin', Tab. iv.; from the observations at
Schiraz).  The head or nucleus of the comet was, however, visible in the
Brazils and in India (PingrŽ, 'ComŽtogr.', t. ii., p. 22).  Regarding the
conjectured identity of the last great comet of March, 1843, with this,
which Cassini mistook for the zodiacal light, see Schum., 'Astr. Nachr.',
1843, No. 476 and 480.  In Persian, the term "nizehi ‰tesch”n"(fiery
spears or lances) is also applied to the rays of the rising or setting sun,
in the same way as "nay‰zik," according to Freytag's Arabic Lexicon,
signifies "stell¾ cadentes."  The comparison of comets to lances and swords
was, however, in the Middle Ages, very common in all languages.  The great
comet of 1500, which was visible from April to June, was always termed by
the Italian writers of that time 'il Signor Astone' (see my 'Examen Critique
de l'Hist. de la GŽographie', t. v., p. 80).  All the hypotheses that have
been advanced to show that Descartes (Cassini, p. 230; Mairan, p. 16), and
even Kepler (Delambre, t. i., p. 601), were acquainted with the zodiacal
light, appear to me altogether untenable.  Descartes ('Principes', iii.,
art. 136, 137) is very obscure in his remarks on comets, observing that
their tails are formed "by oblique rays, which, falling on different parts
of the planetary orbs, strike the eye laterally by extraordinary
refraction," and that they might be seen morning and evening, "like a long
beam," when the Sun is between the comet and the Earth.  This passage no
more refers to the zodiacal light than those in which Kepler ('Epit. Astron.
Copernican¾', t. i., p. 57, and t. ii., p. 893) speaks of the existence of
a solar atmosphere (limbus circa solem, coma lucida), which, in eclipses of
the Sun, prevents it "from being quite night:" and even more uncertain, or
indeed erroneous, is the assumption that the "trabes quas [Greek word]
vocant" (Plin., ii., 26 and 27) had reference to the tongue-shaped rising
zodiacal light, as Cassini (p. 231, art. xxxi.) and Mairan (p. 15) have
maintained.  Every where among the ancients the trabes are associated with
the bolides (ardores et faces) and other fiery meteors, and even with
long-barbed comets.  (Regarding [Greek words] . see SchŠfer, 'Schol. Par.
ad Apoll. Rhod.', 1813, t. ii., p. 206; Pseudo-Aristot., 'de Mundo, 2, 9;
'Comment. Alex. Joh. Philop. et Olymp. in Aristot. Meteor.', lib. i., cap.
vii., 3, p. 195, Ideler; Seneca, 'Nat. Qu¾st.', i., 1.)

We may conjecture, with much probability, that the remarkable light on the
elevated plains of Mexico, seen for forty nights consecutively i8n 1509, and
observed in the eastern horizon rising pyramidally from the earth, was the
zodiacal light.  I found a notice of this phenomenon in an ancient Aztec
MS., the 'CodexTelleriano-Remensis',* preserved in the Royal Library at

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Monumens des Peuples Indignes de l'AmŽrique', t.
ii., p. 301.  The rare manuscript which belonged to the Archbishop of
Rheims, Le Tellier, contains various kinds of extracts from an Aztec ritual,
an astrological calendar, and historical annals, extending from 1197 to
1549, and embracing a notice of different natural phenomena, epochs of
earthquakes and comets (as, for instance, those of 1490 and 1529), and of
(which are important in relation to Mexican chronology) solar eclipses.  In
Camargo's manuscript 'Historia de Tlascala', the light rising in the east
almost to the zenith is, singularly enough, described as "sparkling, and as
if sown with stars."  The description of this phenomenon, which lasted forty
days, can not in any way apply to volcanic eruptions of Popcatepetl, which
lies very near, in the southeastery direction.  (Prescott, 'History of the
Conquest of Mesico', vol. i., p. 284.)  Later commentators have confounded
this phenomenon, which Montezuma regarded as a warning of his misfortunes,
with the "estrella que humeava" (literally, 'which spring forth'; Mexican
'choloa, to leap or spring forth').  With respect to the connection of this
vapor with the star Citlal Choloha (Venus) and with "the mountain of the
star" (Citialtepetl, the volcano of Orizaba), see my 'Monumens', t. ii., p.

This phenomenon, whose primordial antiquity can scarcely be doubted, and
which was first noticed in Europe by Childrey and Dominicus Cassini, is not
the luminous solar atmosphere itself, since this can not, in accordance with
mechanical laws, be more compressed than in the relation of 2 to 3, and
consequently can not be diffused beyond 9/20ths of Mercury's heliocentric
distance.  These same laws teach us that the altitude of the extreme
boundaries of the atmosphere of a cosmical
p 141
body above its equator, that is to say, the point at which gravity and
centrifugal force are in equilibrium, must be the same as the altitude at
which a satellite would rotate round the central body simultaneously with
the diurnal revolution of the latter.*

[footnote]  *Laplace, 'Expos. du Syst. du Monde', p. 270; 'MŽcanique
CŽleste', t. ii., p. 169 and 171; Schubert, 'Astr.', bd. iii., ¤ 206.

This limitation of the solar atmosphere in its present concentrated
condition is especially remarkable when we compare the central body of our
system with the nucleus of other nebulous stars.  Herschel has discovered
several, in which the radius of the nebulous matter surrounding the star
appeared at an angle of 150".  On the assumption that the parallax is not
fully equal to 1", we find that the outermost nebulous layer of such a star
must be 150 times further from the central body than our Earth is from the
Sun.  If, therefore, the nebulous star were to occupy the place of our Sun,
its atmosphere would not only include the orbit of Uranus, but even extend
eight times beyond it.Â¥

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1842, p. 408.  Compare Sir John
Herschel's considerations on the volume and faintness of light of planetary
nebul¾, in Mary Somerville's 'Connection of the Physical Sciences', 1835,
p. 108.  The opinion that the Sun is a nebulous star, whose atmosphere
presents the phenomenon of zodiacal light, did not originate with Dominicus
Cassini, but was first promulgated by Mairan in 1730 ('TraitŽ de l'Aurore
Bor.', p. 47 and 263; Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1842, p. 412).  It is a
renewal of Kepler's views.

Considering the narrow limitation of the Sun's atmosphere, which we have
just described, we may with much probability regard the existence of a very
compressed annulus of nebulous matter,* revolving freely in space between
the orbits of Venus and Mars, as the material cause of the zodiacal light.

[footnote]  *Cominicus Cassini was the first to assume, as did subsequently
Laplace, Schubert, and Poisson, the hypothesis of a separate ring to explain
the form of the zodiacal light.  He says distinctly, "If the orbits of
Mercury and Venus were visible (throughout their whole extent), we should
invariably observe them with the same figure and in the same position with
regard to the Sun, and at the same time of the year with the zodiacal
light."  ('MŽm. de l'Acad.', t. viii., 1730, p. 218, and Biot, in the
'Comptes Rendus', 1836, t. iii., p. 666.)  Cassini believed that the
nebulous ring of zodiacal light consisted of innumerable small planetary
bodies revolving round the Sun.  He even went so far as to believe that the
fall of fire-balls might be connected with the passage of the Earth through
the zodiacal nebulous ring.  Olmsted, and especially Biot (op. cit., p.
673), have attempted to establish its connection with the November
phenomenon -- a connection which Olbers doubts.  (Schum., 'Jahrb.', 1837, s.
281.)  Regarding the question whether the place of the zodiacal light
perfectly coincides with that of the Sun's equator, see Houzeau, in Schum.,
'Astr. Nachr.', 1843, No. 492, s. 190.

p 142
yet we certainly know nothing definite regarding its actual material
dimensions; its augmentation* by emanations from the tails of myriads of
comets that come within the Sun's vicinity; the singular changes affecting
its expansion, since it sometimes does not apper to extend beyond our
Earth's orbit; or, lastly, regarding its conjectural intimate connection
with the more condensed cosmical vapor in the vicinity of the Sun.

[footnote]  *Sir John Herschel, 'Astron.', ¤ 487.

The nebulous particles composing this ring, and revolving round the sun in
accordance with planetary laws, may either be self-luminous or receive light
from that luminary.  Even in the case of a terrestrial mist (and this fact
is very remarkable), which occurred at the time of the new moon at midnight
in 1743, the phosphorescence was so intense that objects could be distinctly
recognized at a distance of more than 600 feet.

I have occasionally been astonished in the tropical climates of south
america, to observe the variable intensity of the zodiacal light.  As i
passed the nights, during many months, in the open air, on the shores of
rivers and on ilanos, i enjoyed ample opportunities of carefully examining
this phenomenon.  When the zodiacal light had been most intense, i have
observed that it would be perceptibly weakened for a few minutes, until it
again suddenly shone forth in full brilliancy.  In some few instances i have
thought that i could perceive -- not exactly a reddish coloration, nor the
lower portion darkened in an arc-like form, nor even a scintillation, as
mairan affirms he has observed -- but a kind of flickering and wavering of
the light.*

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1832, p. 246.  Several physical facts
appear to indicate that, in a mechanical separation of matter into its
smallest particles, if the mass be very small in relation to the surface,
the electrical tension may increase sufficiently for the production of light
and heat.  Experiments with a large concave mirror have not hitherto given
any positive evidence of the presence of radiant heat in the zodiacal light.
 (Lettre de M. Matthiessen ˆ M. Arago, in the 'Comptes Rendus', t. xvi.,
1843, Avril, p. 687.)

Must we suppose that changes are actually in progress in the nebulous ring?
or is it not more probable that, although I could not, by my meteorological
instruments, detect any change of heat or moisture near the ground, and
small stars of the fifth and sixth magnitudes appeared to shine with equally
undiminished intensity of light, processes of condensation may be going on
in the uppermost strata of the air, by means of which the transparency, or
rather, the reflection of light, may be modified in some peculiar and
unknown manner?
p 143
An assumption of the existence of such meteorological causes on the confines
of our atmosphere is strengthened by the "sudden flash and pulsation of
light," which, according to the acute observations of Olbers, vibrated for
several seconds through the tail of a comet, which appeared during the
continuance of the pulsations of light to be lengthened by several degrees,
and then again contracted.*

[footnote]  *"What you tell me of the changes of light in the zodiacal
light, and of the causes to which you ascribe such changes within the
tropics, is of the greatr interest to me, since I have been for a long time
past particularly attentive, every spring, to this phenomenon in our
northern latitudes.  I, too, have always believed that the zodiacal light
rotated; but I assumed (contrary to Poisson's opinion, which you have
communicated to me) that it completely extended to the Sun, with
considerably augmenting brightness.  The light circle which, in total solar
eclipses, is seen surrounding the darkened Sun, I have regarded as the
brightest portion of the zodiacal light.  I have convinced my self that this
light is very different in different years, often for several successive
years being very bright and diffused, while in othr years it is scarcely
perceptible.  I tyhink that I find the first trace of an allusion to the
zodiacal light in a letter from Rothmann to Tycho, in which he mentions that
in the spring he has observed the twilight did not close until the sun was
24¼degrees below the horizon.  Rothmann must certainly have confounded the
disappearance of the setting zodiacal light in the vapors of the western
horizon with the actual cessation of twilight.  I have failed to observe the
pulsations of the light, probably on account of the faintness with which it
appears in these countries.  You are, however, certainly right in ascribing
those rapid variations in the light of the heavenly bodies, which you have
perceived in tropical climates, to our own atmosphere, and especially to its
higher regions.  This is especially in the clearest weather, that these
tails exhibit pulsations, commencing from the head, as being the lowest
part, and vibrating in one or two seconds through the entire tail, which
thus appears rapidly to become some degrees longer, but again as rapidly
contracts.  That these undulations, which were formerly noticed with
attention by Robert Hooke, and in more recent times by Schršter and
Chladni, 'do not actually occur in the tails of the comets', but are
produced by our atmosphere, is obvious when we recollect that the individual
parts of those tails (which are many millions of miles in length) lie 'at
very different distances' from us, and that the light from their extreme
points can only reach us at intervals of time which differ several minutes
from one another.  Whether what you saw on the Orinoco, not at intervals of
seconds, but of minutes, were actual coruscations of the zodiacal light, or
whether they belonged exclusively to the upper strata of our atmosphere, I
will not attempt to decide; neither can I explain the remarkable 'lightness
of whole nights', nor the anomalous augmentation and prolongation of the
twilight in the year 1831, particularly if, as has been remarked, the
lightest part of these singular twilights did not coincide with the Sun's
place below the horizon."  (From a lettr written by Dr. Olbers to myself,
and dated Bremen, Marth 26th, 1833.)

As, however, the separate particles of a comet's tail, measuring millions of
p 144
are very unequally distant from earth, it is not possible, according to the
laws of the velocity and transmission of light, that we should be able, in
so short a period of time, to perceive any actual changes in a cosmical body
of such vast extent.  There considerations in no way exclude the realith of
the changes that have been observed in the emanations from the more
condensed envelopes around the nucleus of a comet, nor that of the sudden
irradiation of the zodiacal light, from internal molecular motion, nor of
the increased or diminished reflection of light in the cosmical vapor of the
luminous ring, but should simply be the means of drawing our attention to
the differences existing between that which appertains to the air of heaven
(the realms of universal space) and that which belongs to the strata of our
terrestrial atmosphere.  It is not possible, as well-attested facts prove,
perfectly to explain the operations at work in the much-contested upper
boundaries of our atmosphere.  The extraordinary lightness of whole nights
in the year 1831, during which small print might be read at midnight in the
latitudes of Italy and the north of Germany is a fact directly at variance
with all that we know, according to the most recent and acute researches on
the crepuscular theory, and of the height of the atmosphere.*

[footnote]  *Biot, 'TraitŽ d'Astron. Physique', 3me Žd., 1841, t. i., p.
171, 238 and 312.

The phenomena of light depend upon conditions still less understood, and
their variability at twilight, as well as in the zodiacal light, excite our

We have hitherto considered that which belongs to our solare system -- that
world of material forms governed by the Sun -- which includes the primary
and secondary planets, comets of short and long periods of revolution,
meteoric asteroids, which move thronged together in streams, either
sporadically or in closed rings, and finally a luminous nebulous ring, that
revolves round the Sun in the vicinity of the Earth, and for which, owing to
its position, we may retain the name of zodiacal light.  Every where the law
of periodicity governs the motions of these bodies, however different may be
the amount of tangential velocity, or the quantity of their agglomerated
material parts; the meteoric asteroids which enter our atmosphere from the
external regions of universal space are alone arrested in the course of
their planetary revolution, and retained within the sphere of a larger
planet.  In the solar system, whose boundaries determine the attractive
force of the central body, comets are made to revolve in their elliptical
p 145
orbits at a distance 44 times greater than that of Uranus; may, in those
comets whose nucleus appears to us, from its inconsiderable mass, like a
mere passing cosmical cloud, the Sun exercises its attractive force on the
outermost parts of the emanations radiating from the tail over a space of
many millions of miles.  Central forces, therefore, at once constitute and
maintain the system.

Our Sun may be considered as at rest when compared to all the large and
small, dense and almost vaporous cosmical bodies tht appertain to and
revolve around it; but it actually rotates around the common center of
gravity of the whole system, which occasionally falls within itself, that is
to say, remains within the material circumference of the Sun, whatever
changes may be assumed by the position of the planets.  A very different
phenomenon is that presented by the translatory motion of the Sun, that is,
the progressive motion of the center of gravity of the whole solar system in
universal space.  Its velocity is such* that, according to Bessel, the
relative motion of the Sun, and that of 61 Cygni, is not less in one day
than 3,336,000 geographical miles.

[footnote]  *Bessel, in Schum., 'Jahrb. fŸr' 1839, s. 51; probably four
millions of miles daily, in a relative velocity of at the least 3,336,000
miles, or more than couble the velocity of revolution of the Earth in her
orbit round the Sun.

This change of the entire solar system would remain unknown to us, if the
admirable exactness of our astronomical instruments of measurement, and the
advancement recently made in the art of observing, did not cause our advance
toward remote stars to be perceptible, like an approximation to the objects
of a distant shore in apparent motion.  The proper motion of the star 61
Cygni, for instance, is so considerable, that it has amounted to a whole
degree in the course of 700 years.

The amount or quantity of these alterations in the fixed stars (that is to
say, the changes in the relative position of self-luminous stars toward each
other), can be determined with a greater degree of certainty than we are
able to attach to the genetic explanation of the phenomenon.  After taking
into consideration what is due to the precession of the equinoxes, and the
nutation of the earth's axis produced by the action of the Sun and Moon on
the spheroidal figure of our globe, and what may be ascribed to the
transmission of light, that is to say, to its aberration, and to the
parallax formed by the diametrically opposite position of the Earth in its
course round the Sun, we still find that there is a residual portion
p 146
of the annual motion of the fixed stars due to the translation of the whole
solar system in universal space, and to the true proper motion of the stars.
 The difficult problem of numerically separating these two elements, the
true and the apparent motion, has been effected by the careful study of the
direction of the motion of certain individual stars, and by the
consideration of the fact that, if all the stars were in a state of absolute
rest, they would appear perspectively to recede from the point in space
toward which the Sun was directing its course.  But the ultimate result of
this investigation, confirmed by the calculus of probabilities, is, that our
solar system and the stars both change their places in space.  According to
the admirable researches of d'Argelander at Abo, who has extended and more
perfectly developed the work begun by William Herschel and Prevost, the Sun
moves in the direction of the constellation Hercules, and probably, from the
combination of the observations made of 537 stars, toward a point lying (at
the equinox of 1792.5) at 257¼degrees 49.'7 R.A., and 28¼degrees 49.'7
N.D.  It is extremely difficult, in investigations of this nature, to
separate the absolute from the relative motion, and to determine what is
aloone owing to the solar system.*

[footnote]  *Regarding the motion of the solar system, according to Bradley,
Tobias Mayer, Lambert, Lalande, and William Herschel, see Arago in the
'Annuaire', 1842, p. 388-399' Argelander, in Schum., 'Astron. Nachr
., No. 363, 364, 398, and in the treatise 'Von der eigenen Bewegung des
Sonnensystems' (On the proper Motion of the Solar System), 1837, s. 43,
respecting Perseus as the central body of the whole stellar stratum,
likewise Otho Struve, in the 'Bull. de l'Acad. de St. PŽtersb.', 1842, t.
x., No. 9, p. 137-139.  The last-named astronomer has found, by a mo4re
recent combination, 261¼degrees 23' R.A.+37¼degrees 36' Decl. for the
direction of the Sun's motion; and, taking the mean of his own results with
that of Argelander, we have, by a combination of 797 stars, the formula
259¼degrees 9' R.A.+34¼degrees 36' Decl.

If we consider the proper, and not the perspective motions of the stars, we
shall find many that appear to be distributed in groups, having an opposite
direction; and facts hitherto observed do not, at any rate, render it a
necessary assumption that all parts of our starry stratum, or the whole of
the stellar islands filling space, should move round one large unknown
luminous or non-luminous central body.  The tendency of the human mind to
investigate ultimate and highest causes certainly inclines the intellectual
activity, no less than the imagination of mankind, to adopt such an
hypothesis.  Even the Stagirite proclaimed that "every thing which is moved
must be referable to a motor, and that there would be no end to
p 147
the concatenation of causes if there were not one primordial immovable

[footnote]  *Aristot., 'de C¾lo', iii., 2, p. 301, Bekker:  'Phys.', viii.,
t, p. 256.

This material taken from pages 147-203

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

The manifold translatory changes of the stars, not those produced by the
parallaxes at which they are seen from the changing position of the
spectator, but the true changes constantly going on in the regions of space,
afford us incontrovertible evidence of the 'dominion of the laws of
attraction' in the remotest regions of space, beyond the limits of our solar
system.  The existence of these laws is revealed to us by many phenomena,
as, for instance, by the motion of double stars, and by the amount of
retarded or accelerated motion in different parts of their elliptic orbits.
Human inquiry need no longer pursue this subject in the domain of vague
conjecture, or amid the undefined analogies of the ideal world; for even
here the progress made in the method of astronomical observations and
calculations has enabled astronomy to take up its position on a firm basis.
It is not only the discovery of the astounding numbers of double and
multiple stars revolving round a center of gravity lying 'without' their
system (2800 such systems having been discovered up to 1837), but rather the
extension of our knowledge regarding the fundamental forces of the whole
material world, and the proofs we have obtained of the universal empire of
the laws of attraction, that must be ranked among the most brilliant
discoveries of the age.  The periods of revolution of colored stars present
the greatest differences; thus, in some instances, the period extends to 43
years, as in ¹pi of Corona, and in others to several thousands,, as in 66
of Cetus, 38 of Gemini, and 100 of Pisces.  Since Herschel's measurements in
1782, the satellite of the nearest star in the triple system of [Greek
letter] of Cancer has completed more than one entire revolution.  By a
skillful combination of the altered distances and angles of position,* the
elements of these orbits may be found, conclusions drawn regarding the
absolute distance of the double stars from the Earth, and comparisons made
between their mass and that of the Sun.

[footnote]  *Savary, in the 'Connaissance des Tems', 1830, p. 56 and 163.
Encke, 'Berl. Jahrb.', 1832, s. 253, etc.  Arago, in the 'Annuaire' 1834, p.
260, 295.  John Herschel, in the 'Memoirs of the Astronom. Soc.', vol. v.,
p. 171.

Whether, however, here and in our solar system, quantity of matter is the
only standard of the amount of attractive force, or whether 'specific'
forces of attraction proportionate to the mass may not at the same time come
into operation, as Bessel was the first to conjecture, are questions
p 148
whose practical solution must be left to future ages.*

[footnote]  * Bessel, 'Untersuchung. des Theils der planetarischen
Storungen, welche aus der Bewegung der Sonne entstchen' (An Investigation of
the portion of the Planetary Disturbances depending on the motion of the
Sun) in 'Abh. der Berl. Akad. der Wissensch.', 1824 (Mathem. Classe), s.
2-6.  The question has been raised by John Tobias Mayer, in 'Comment. Soc.
Reg. Gotting.', 1804-1808, vol. xvi., p. 31-68.

When we compare our Sun with the other fixed stars, that is, with other
self-luminous Suns in the lenticular starry stratum of which our system
forms a part, we find, at least in the case of some, that channels are
opened to us, which may lead, at all events, to an 'approximate' and limited
knowledge of their relative distances, volumes, and masses, and of the
velocities of their translatory motion.  If we assume the distance of Uranus
from the Sun to be nineteen times that of the Earth, that is to say,
nineteen times as great as that of the Sun from the Earth, the central body
of our planetary system will be 11,900 times the distance of Uranus from the
star 'a' in the constellation Centaur, almost 31,300 from 61 Cygni, and
41,600 from Vega in the constellation Lyra.  The comparison of the volume of
the Sun with that of the fixed stars of the first magnitude is dependent
upon the apparent diameter of the latter bodies -- an extremely undertain
optical element.  If even we assume, with Herschel, that the apparent
diameter of Arcturus is only a tenth part of a second, it still follows that
the true diameter of this star is eleven times greater than that of the Sun.*

[footnote]  *'Philos. Trans.' for 1803, p. 225.  Arago, in the 'Annuaire',
1842, p. 375.  In order to obtain a clearer idea of the distances ascribed
in a rather earlier part of the text to the fixed stars, let us assume that
the Earth is a distance of one foot from the Sun; Uranus is then 19 feet,
and Vega Lyrae is 158 geographical miles from it.

The distance of the star 61 Cygni, made known by Bessel, has led
approximately to a knowledge of the quantity of matter contained in this
body as a double star.  Notwithstanding that, since Bradley's observations,
the portion of the apparent orbit traversed by this star is not sufficiently
great to admit of our arriving with perfect exactness at the true orbit nd
the major axis of this star, it has been conjectured with much probability
by the great Konigsberg astronomer,* "that the mass of this double star can
not be very considerably larger or smaller than half of the mass of the

[footnote]  *Bessel, in Schum., 'Jahrb.', 1839, s. 53.

This result is from actual measurement.  The analogies deduced from the
relatively larger mass of those planets in our solar system that are
attended by satellites, and from the fact that Struve has discovered six
times more double stars among
p 194
the brighter than among the telescopic fixed stars, have led other
astronomers to conjecture that the average mass of the larger number of the
binary stars exceeds the mass of the Sun.*

[footnote]  *MŠdler, 'Astron.', s. 476; also in Schum, 'Jahrb.', 1839, s.

We are, however, far from having arrived at general results regarding this
subject.  Our Sun, according to Argenlander, belongs, with reference to
proper motion in space, to the class of rapidly-moving fixed stars.

The aspect of the starry heavens, the relative position of stars and
nebullae, the distribution of their luminous masses, the picturesque beauty,
if I may so express myself, of the whole firmament, depend in the course of
ages conjointly upon the proper motion of the stars and nebulae, the
translation of our solar system in space, the appearance of new stars, and
the disappearance or sudden diminution in the intensity of the light of
others, and lastly and specially, on the changes which the Earth's axis
experiences from the attraction of the Sun and Moon.  The beautiful stars in
the constellation of the Centaur and the Southern Cross will at some future
time be visible in our northern latitudes, while other stars, as Sirius and
the stars in the Belt of Orion, will in their turn disappear below the
horizon.  The places of the North Pole will successively be indicated by the
stars § beta and a alpha Cephei, and ¶ delta Cygni, until after a period
of 12,000 years, Vega in Lyra will shine forth as the brightest of all
possible pole stars.  These data give us some idea of the extent of the
motions which, divided into infinitely small portions of time, proceed
without intermission in the great chronometer of the universe.  If for a
moment we could yield to the power of fancy, and imagine the acuteness of
our visual organs to be made equal with the extremest bounds of telescopic
vision, and bring together that which is now divided by long periods of
time, the apparent rest that reigns in space would suddenly disappear.  We
should see the countless host of fixed stars moving in thronged groups in
different directions; nebulae wandering through space, and becoming
condensed and dissolved like cosmical clouds; the vail of the Milky Way
separated and broken up in many parts, and 'motion' ruling supreme in every
portion of the vault of heave, even as on the Earth's surface, where we see
it unfolded in the germ, the leaf, and the blossom, the organisms of the
vegetable world.  The celebrated Spanish botanist Cavanilles was the first
who entertained the idea of "seeing grass grow," and he directed the
horizontal micrometer threads of a powerfully magnifying glass at one time to
p 150
the apex of the shoot of a bambusa, and at another on the rapidly-growing
stem of an American aloe ('Agave Americana', precisely as the astronomer
places his cross of net-work against a culminating star.  In the collective
life of physical nature, in the organic as in the sidereal world, all things
that have been, that are, and will be, are alike dependent on motion.

The breaking up of the Milky Way, of which I have just spoken, requires
special notice.  William Herschel, our safe and admirable guide to this
portion of the regions of space, has discovered by his star-guagings that
the telescopic breadth of the Milky Way extends from six to seven degrees
beyond what is indicated by our astronomical maps and by the extent of the
sidereal radiance visible to the naked eye.*

[footnote]  *Sir William Herschel, in the 'Philos. Transact.' for 1817, Part
ii p. 438.

The two brilliant nodes in which the branches of the zone unite, in the
region of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, and in the vicinity of Scorpio and
Sagittarius, appear to exercise a powerful attraction on the contiguous
stars; in the most brilliant part, however between beta and [Greek symbol]
Cygni, one half of the 330,000 stars that have been discovered in a breadth
of 5 degrees are directed toward one side, and the remainder to the other.
It is in this part that Herschel supposes the layer to be broken up.*

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1842, p. 569

The number of telescopic stars in the Milky Way uninterrupted by any nebulae
is estimated at 18 millions.  In order, I will not say, to realize the
greatness of this number, but, at any rate, to compare it with something
analogous, I will call attention to the fact that there are not in the whole
heavens more than about 8000 stars between the first and the sixth
magnitudes, visible to the naked eye.  The barren astonishment excited by
numbers and dimensions in space, when not considered with reference to
applications engaging the mental and perceptive powers of man, is awakened
in both extremes of the universe, in the celestial bodies as in the minutest

[footnote]  *Sir John Herschel, in a letter from Feldhuysen, dated Jan.
13th, 1836.  Nicholl, 'Architecture of the Heavens', 1838, p. 22.  (See,
also, some separate notices by Sir William Herschel on the starless space
which separates us by a great distance from the Milky Way, in the 'Philos.
Transact.' for 1817, Part ii., p. 328.)

A cubic inch of the polishing slate of Bilin contains, according to
Ehrenberg, 40,000 millions of the silicious shells of Galionellae.

The stellar Milky Way, in the region of which, according to Argelander's
admirable observations, the brightest stars of the firmament appear to be
congregated, is almost at right angles
p 151
with another Milky Way, composed of nebulae.  The former constitutes,
according to Sir John Herschel's views, an annulus, that is to say, an
independent zone, somewhat remote from our lenticular-shaped starry stratum,
and similar to Saturn's ring.  Our planetary system lies in an eccentric
direction, nearer to the region of the Cross than to the diametrically
opposite point, Cassiopeia.*

[footnote]  *Sir John Herschel, 'Astronom.', 624; likewise in his
'Observations on Nebulae and Clusters of Stars' ('Phil. Transact.', 1833,
Part ii., p. 479, fig. 25):  "We have here a brother system, bearing a real
physical resemblance and strong analogy of structure to our own."

An imperfectly seen nebulous spot, discovered by Messier in 1774, appeared
to present a remarkable similarity to the form of our starry stratum and the
divided ring of our Milky Way.*

[footnote]  *Sir William Herschel, in the 'Phil. Trans.' for 1785, Part i.,
p. 257.  Sir John Herschel, 'Astron.', 616.  ("The 'nebulous' region of the
heavens forms 'a nebulous Milky Way', composed of distinct nebulae, as the
other of stars."  The same observation was made in a letter he addressed to
me in March, 1829.)

The Milky Way composed of nebulae does not belong to our starry stratum, but
surrounds it at a great distance without being physically connected with it,
passing almost in the form of a large cross through the dense nebulae of
Virgo, especially in the northern wing, through Comae Berenicis, Ursa Major,
Andromeda's girdle, and Pisces Boreales.  It probably intersects the stellar
Milky Way in Cassiopeia, and connects its dreary poles (rendered starless
from the attractive forces by which stellar bodies are made to agglomerate
into groups) in the least dense portion of the starry stratum.

We see from these considerations that our starry cluster, which bears traces
in its projecting branches of having been subject in the course of time to
various metamorphoses, and evinces a tendency to dissolve and separate,
owing to secondary centers of attraction -- is surrounded by two rings, one
of which, the nebulous zone, is very remote, while the other is nearer, and
composed of stars alone.  The latter, which we generally term the Milky Way,
is composed of nebulous stars, averaging from the tenth to the eleventh
degree of magnitude,* but appearing, when considered individually, of very
different magnitudes, while isolated starry clusters (starry swarms) almost
always exhibit throughout a character of great uniformity in magnitude and

[footnote]  *Sir John Herschel, 'Astron.', 585.

In whatever part the vault of heaven has been pierced by powerful and
far-penetrating telescopic instruments, stars or luminous nebulae are every
where discoverable, the former, in
p 152
some cases, not exceeding the twentieth or twenty-fourth degree of
telescopic magnitude.  A portion of the nebulous vapor would probably be
found resolvable into stars by more powerful optical instruments.  As the
retina retains a less vivid impression of separate than of infinitely near
luminous points, less strongly marked photometric relations are excited in
the latter case, as Arago has recently shown.*

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1842, p. 282-285, 409-411, and

The definite or amorphous cosmical vapor so universally diffused, and which
generates heat through condensation, probably modifies the transparency of
the universal atmosphere, and diminishes that uniform intensity of light
which, according to Halley and Olbers, should arise, if every point
throughout the depths of space were filled by an infinite series of stars.*

[footnote]  *Olbers, on the transparency of celestial space, in Bode's
'Jahrb.', 1826, s. 110-121.

The assumption of such a distribution in space is, however, at variance with
observation, which shows us large starless regions of space, 'openings' in
the heavens, as William Herschel terms them -- one, four degrees in width,
in Scorpio, and another in Serpentarius.  In the vicinity of both, near
their margin, we find unresolvable nebulae, of which that on the western
edge of the opening Scorpio is one of the most richly thronged of the
clusters of small stars by which the firmament is adorned.  Herschel
ascribes these openings or starless regions to the attractive and
agglomerative forcesof the marginal groups.*

[footnote]  *"An opening in the heavens," William Herschel, in the 'Phil.
Trans.' for 1785, vol. lxxv., Part i., p. 256.  Le Francais Lalande, in the
'Connaiss. des Tems pour l'An.' VIII., p. 383.  Arago, in the 'Annuaire',
1842, p. 425.

"They are parts of our starry stratum," says he, with his usual graceful
animation of style, "that have experienced great devastation from time."  If
we picture to ourselves the telescopic stars lying behind one another as a
starry canopy spread over the vault of heaven, these starless regions in
Scorpio and Serpentarius may, I think, be regarded as tubes through which we
may look into the remotest depths of space.  Other stars may certainly lie
in those parts where the strata forming the canopy are interrupted, but
these are unattainable by our instruments.  The aspect of fiery meteors had
led the ancients likewise to the idea of clefts or openings ('chasmata') in
the vault of heaven.  These openings were, however, only regarded as
transient, while the reason of their being luminous and fiery, instead of
obscure, was supposed to be owing to the
p 153
translucent illuminated ether which lay beyond them.*

[footnote]  *Aristot., 'Meteor.', ii.,, 5, 1.  Seneca, 'Natur. Quaest.', i.,
14, 2.  "Coelum discessisse," in Cic., 'de Divin.', i., 43.

Derham, and even Huygens, did not appear disinclined to explain in a similar
manner the mild radiance of the nebulae.*

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1842, p. 429.

When we compare the stars of the first magnitude, which, on an average, are
certainly the nearest to us, with the non-nebulous telescopic stars, and
further, when we compare the nebulous stars with unresolvable nebulae, for
instance, with the nebula in Andromeda, or even with the so-called planetary
nebulous vapor, a fact is made manifest to us by the consideration of the
varying distances and the boundlessness of space, which shows the world of
phenomena, and that which constitutes its causal reality, to be dependent
upon the 'propagation of light'.  The velocity of this propagation is
according to Struve's most recent investigations, 166,072 geographical miles
in a second, consequently almost a million of times greater than the
velocity of sound.  According to the measurements of Maclear, Bessel, and
Struve, of the parallaxes and distances of three fixed stars of very unequal
magnitudes ('a' Centauri, 16 Cygni, and 'a' Lyrae), a ray of light requires
respectively 3, 9 1/4, and 12 years to reach us from these three bodies.  In
the short but memorable period between 1572 and 1604, from the time of
Cornelius Gemma and Tycho Brahe to that of Kepler, three new stars suddenly
appeared in Cassiopeia and Cygnus, and in the foot of Serpentarius.  A
similar phenomenon exhibited itself at intervals in 1670, in the
constellation Vulpis.  In recent times, even since 1837, Sir John Herschel
has observed, at the Cape of Good Hope, the brilliant star [Greek symbol] in
Argo increase in splendor from the second to the first magnitude.*

[footnote]  *In December, 1837, Sir John Herschel saw the star [Greek
symbol] Argo, which till that time appeared as of the second magnitude, and
liable to no change, rapidly increase till it became of the first magnitude.
 In January, 1838, the intensity of its light was equal to that of 'a'
Centauri.  According to our latest information, Maclear in March, 1843,
found it as bright as Canopus; and even 'a' Crucis looked faint by [Greek
symbol] Argo.

These events in the universe belong, however, with reference to their
historical reality, to other periods of time than those in which the
phenomena of light are first revealed to the inhabitants of the Earth:  they
reach us like the voices of the past.  It has been truly said, that with our
large and powerful telescopic instruments we penetrate alike through the
boundaries of time and space:  we measure the former through the latter, for
in the course of an
p 154
hour a ray of light traverses over a space of 592 millions of miles.  While
according to the theogony of Hesiod, the dimensions of the universe were
supposed to be expressed by the time occupied by bodies in falling to the
ground ("the brazen anvil was not more than nine days and nine nights in
falling from heaven to earth"), the elder Herschel was of opinion* that
light required almost two millions of years to pass to the Earth from the
remotest luminous vapor reached by his forty-foot reflector.

[footnote]  *"Hence it follows that the rays of light of the remotest
nebulae must have been almost two millions of years on their way, and that
consequently, so many years ago, this object must already have had an
existence in the sidereal heaven, in order to send out those rays by which
we now perceive it."  William Herschel, in the 'Phil. Trans.' for 1802, p.
498.  John Herschel, 'Astron.', 590.  Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1842, p.
334, 359, and 382-385.

Much, therefore, has vanished long before it is rendered visible to us --
much that we see was once differently arranged from what it now appears.
The aspect of the starry heavens presents us with the spectacle of that
which is only apparently simultaneous, and however much we may endeavor, by
the aid of optical instruments, to bring the mildly-radiant vapor of
nebulous masses or the faintly-glimmering starry clusters nearer, and
diminish the thousands of years interposed between us and them, that serve
as a criterion of their distance, it still remains more than probable, from
the knowledge we possess of the velocity of the transmission of luminous
rays, that the light of remote heavenly bodies presents us with the most
ancient perceptible evidence of the existence of matter.  It is thus that
the reflective mind of man is led from simple premises to rise to those
exalted heights of nature, where in the light-illumined realms of space,
"myriads of worlds are bursting into life like the grass of the night."*

[fotnote]  *From my brother's beautiful sonnet "Freiheit und Gesetz."
(Wilhelm von Humboldt, 'Gesammelte Werke', bd. iv., s. 358, No. 25.)

From the regions of celestial forms, the domain of Uranus, we will now
descend to the more contracted sphere of terrestrial forces -- to the
interior of the Earth itself.  A mysterious chain links together both
classes of phenomena.  According to the ancient signification of the Titanic
myth,* the powers of organic life, that is to say, the great order of
nature, depend upon the combined action of heaven and earth.

[footnote]  *Otfried Muller, 'Prolegomena', s. 373.

If we suppose that the Earth, like all the other planets, primordially
belonged, according to its origin, to the central body, the Sun, and to the
solar atmosphere that has been separated into nebulous
p 155
rings, the same connection with this continguous Sun, as well as with all
the remote suns that shine in the firmament, is still revealed through the
phenomena of light and radiating heat.  The difference in the degree of
these actions must not lead the physicist, in his delineation of nature, to
forget the connection and the common empire of similar forces in the
universe.  A small fraction of telluric heat is derived from the regions of
universal space in which our planetary system is moving, whose temperature
(which according to Fourier, is almost equal to our mean icy polar heat) is
the result of the combined radiation of all the stars.  The causes that more
powerfully excite the light of the Sun in the atmosphere and in the upper
strata of our air, that give rise to heat-engendering electric and magnetic
currents, and awaken and genially vivify the vital spark in organic
structures on the earth's surface, must be reserved for the subject of our
future consideration.

As we purpose for the present to confine ourselves exclusively within the
telluric sphere of nature, it will be expedient to cast a preliminary glance
over the relations in space of solids and fluids, the form of the Earth, its
mean density, and the partial distribution of this density in the interior
of our planet, its temperature and its electro-magnetic tension.  From the
consideration of these relations in space, and of the forces inherent in
matter, we shall pass to the reaction of the interior on the exterior of our
globe; and to the special consideration of a universally distributed natural
power -- subterranean heat; to the phenomena of earthquakes, exhibited in
unequally expanded circles of commotion, which are not referable to the
action of dynamic laws alone; to the springing forth of hot wells; and,
lastly, to the more powerful actions of volcanic processes.  The crust of
the Earth, which may scarcely have been perceptibly elevated by the sudden
and repeated, or almost uninterrupted shocks by which it has been moved from
below, undergoes, nevertheless, great changes in the course of centuries in
the relations of the elevation of solid portions, when compared with the
surface of the liquid parts, and even in the form of the bottom of the sea.
In this manner simultaneous temporary or permanent fissures are opened, by
which the interior of the Earth is brought in contact with the external
atmosphere.  Molten masses, rising from an unknown depth, flow in narrow
streams along the declivity of mountains, rushing impetuously onward, or
moving slowly and gently, until the fiery source is quenched in the midst of
exhalations, and the lava becomes incrusted, as it were, by
p 156
the solidification of its outer surface.  New masses of rocks are thus
formed before our eyes, while the older ones are in their turn converted
into other forms by the greater or lesser agency of Platonic forces.  Even
where no disruption takes place the crystalline moleculres are displaced,
combining to form bodies of denser texture.  The water presents structures
of a totally different nature, as, for instance, concretions of animal and
vegetable remains, of earthy, calcareous, or aluminous precipitates,
agglomerations of finely-pulverized mineral bodies, covered with layers of
the silicious shields of infusoria, and with transported soils containing
the bones of fossil animal forms of a more ancient world.  The study of the
strata which are so differently formed and arranged before our eyes, and of
all that has been so variously dislocated, conforted, and upheaved, by
mutual compression and volcanic force, leads the reflective observer, by
simple analogies, to draw a comparison between the present and an age that
has long passed.  It is by a combination of actual phenomena, by an ideal
enlargement of relations in space, and of the amount of active forces, that
we are able to advance into the long sought and indefinitely anticipated
domain of geognosy, which has only within the last half century been based
on the solid foundation of scientific deduction.

It has been acutely remarked, "that notwithstanding our continual employment
of large telescopes, we are less acquainted with the exterior than with the
interior of other planets, excepting, perhaps, our own satellite."  They
have been weighed, and their volume measured; and their mass and density are
becoming known with constantly-increasing exactness; thanks to the progress
made in astronomical observation and calculation.  Their physical character
is, however, hidden in obscurity, for it is only in our own globe that we
can be brought in immediate contact with all the elements of organic and
inorganic creation.  The diversity of the most heterogenous substances,
their admixtures and metamorphoses, and the ever-changing play of the forces
called into action, afford to the human mind both nourishment and enjoyment,
and open an immeasurable field of observation, from which the intellectual
activity of man derives a great portion of its grandeur and power.  The
world of perceptive phenomena is reflected in the depths of the ideal world,
and the richness of nature and the mass of all that admits of classification
gradually become the objects of inductive reasoning.

I would here allude to the advantage, of which I have already
p 157
spoken, possessed by that portion of physical science whose origin is
familiar to us, and is connected with our earthly existence.  The physical
description of celestial bodies from the remotely-glimmering nebulae with
their suns, to the central body of our own system, is limited, as we have
seen, to general conceptions of the volume and quantity of matter.  No
manifestation of vital activity is there presented to our senses.  It is
only from analogies, frequently from purely ideal combinations, that we
hazard conjectures on the specific elements of matter, or on their various
modifications in the different planetary bodies.  But the physical knowledge
of the heterogeneous nature of matter, its chemical differences, the regular
forms in which its molecules combine together, whether in crystals or
granules; its relations to the deflected or decomposed waves of light by
which it is penetrated; to radiating, transmitted, or polarized heat; and to
the brilliant or invisible, but not, on that account, less active phenomena
of electro-magnetism -- all this inexhaustible treasure, by which the
enjoyment of the contemplation of nature is so much heightened, is dependent
on the surface of the planet which we inhabit, and more on its solid than on
its liquid parts.  I have already remarked how greatly the study of natural
objects and forces, and the infinite diversity of the sources they open for
our consideration, strengthen the mental activity, and call into action
every manifestation of intellectual progress.  These relations require,
however, as little comment as that concatenation of causes by which
particular nations are permitted to enjoy a superiority over others in the
exercise of a material power derived from their command of a portion of
these elementary forces of nature.

If, on the one hand, it were necessary to indicate the difference existing
between the nature of our knowledge of the Earth and of that of the
celestial regions and their contents, I am no less desirous, on the other
hand, to draw attention to the limited boundaries of that portion of
spacefrom which we derive all our knowledge of the heterogeneous character
of matter.  This has been somewhat inappropriately termed the Earth's crust;
it includes the strata most contiguous to the upper surface of our planet,
and which have been laid open before us by deep fissure-like valleys, or by
the labors of man, in the bores and shafts formed by miners.  These labors*
do not extend beyond a vertical depth of somewhat more than 2000 feet (about
one third of a geographical mile) below the
p 159
level of the sea, and consequently only about 1/9800th of the Earth's

[footnote]  *In speaking of the greatest depths within the Earth reached by
human labor, we must recollect that there is a difference between the
'absolute depth' (that is to say, the depth below the Earth's surface at
that point) and the 'relative depth' (or that beneath the level of the sea).
 The greatest relative depth that man has hitherto reached is probably the
bore at the new salt-works at Minden, in Prussia:  in June, 1814, it was
exactly 1993 feet, the absolute depth being 2231 feet.  The temperature of
the water at the bottom was 98 degrees F., which assuming the mean
temperature of the air at 49.3 degrees gives an augmentation of temperature
of 1 degree for every 54 feet.  The absolute depth of the Artesian well of
Grenelle, near Paris, is only 1795 feet.  According to the account of the
missionary Imbert, the fire-springs, "Ho-tsing." of the Chinese, which are
sunk to obtain [carbureted] hydrogen gas for salt-boiling, far exceed our
Artesian springs in depth.  In the Chinese province of Szu-tschuan these
fire-springs are very commonly of the depth of more than 2000 feet; indeed,
at Tseu-lieu-tsing (the place of continual flow) there is a Ho-tsing which,
in the year 1812, was found to be 3197 feet deep.  (Humboldt, 'Asie
Centrale', t. ii., p. 521 and 525.  'Annales de l'Association de la
Propagation de la Foi', 1829, No. 16, p. 369.)

[footnote continues] The relative depth reached at Mount Massi, in Tuscany,
south of Volterra, amounts, according to Matteuci, to only 1253 feet.  The
boring at the new salt-works near Minden is probably of about the same
relative depth as the coal-mine at Apendale, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, in
Staffordshire, where men work 725 yards below the surface of the earth.
(Thomas Smith, 'Miner's Guide', 1836, p. 160.)  Unfortunately, I do not know
the exact height of its mouth above the level of the sea.  The relative
depth of the Monk-wearmouth mine, near Newcastle, is only 1496 feet.
(Phillips, in the 'Philos. Mag.', vol. v., 1834, p. 446.)  That of the Liege
coal-mine, 'l'Esperance' at Seraing, is, according to M. Gernaert, Ingenieur
des Mines, 1223 feet in depth.  The works of greatest absolute depth that
have ever been formed are for the most part situated in such elevated plains
or valleys that they either do not descend so low as the level of the sea,
or at most reach very little below it.  Thus the Eselchacht, at Kuttenberg,
in Bohemia, a mine which can not now be worked, had the enormous absolute
depth of 3778 feet.  (Fr. A. Schmidt, 'Berggestze der oter Mon.', abth. i.,
bd. i., s. xxxii.)  Also, at St. Daniel and at Geish, on the Rorerbubel, in
the 'Landgericht' (or provincial district) of Kitzbuhl, there were, in the
sixteenth century, excavations of 3107 feet.  The plans of the works of the
Rorerbubel are still preserved.  (See Joseph von Sperges, 'Tyroler
Bergwerksgeschichte', s. 121.  Compare, also, Humboldt, 'Gutachten uber
úerantreibung des Meissner Stollens in die Freiberger Erzrevier', printed
in Herder, 'uber Herantreibung des Meissner Stollens in die Freiberger
Erzrevier', printed in Herder, 'uber den jetz begonnenen Erbstollen', 1838,
s. cxxiv.)  We may presume that the knowledge of the extraordinary depth of
the Rorerbuhel reached England at an early period, for I find it remarked in
Gilbert, 'de Magnete', that men have penetrated 2400 or even 3000 feet into
the crust of the Earth.  ("Exigua videtur terrae portio, quae unquam
hominibus spectanda emerget aut eruitur; cum profundinus in ejus viscera,
ultra efflorescentis extremitatis corruptelam, aut propter aquas in magnis
fodin, tanquam per venas scaturientesaut propter seris salubrioris ad vitam
operariorum sustinendam necessarii defectum, aut propter ingentex sumptus ad
tantos labores exantlandos, multasque difficultates, ad profundiores terrz'
partes penetrre non possumus; adeo ut quadrigentas aut [quod rarissime]
quingentas orgyas in quibusdam metallis descendisse, stupendus omnibus
videatur connatus." -- Guilielmi Gilberti, Colcestrensis, 'de Magnete
Physiologia nova'.  Lond., 1600, p. 40.)

[footnote continues]  The absolute depth of the mines in the Saxon
Erzgebirge, near Freiburg, are:  in the Thurmhofer mines, 1944 feet; in the
Honenbirker mines, 1827 feet; the relative depths are only 677 and 277 feet,
if, in order to calculate the elevation of the mine's mouth above the level
of the sea, we regard the elevation of Freiburg as determined by Reich's
recent observations to be 1269 feet.  The absolute depth of the celebrated
mine of Joachimsthal, in Bohemia (Verkreuzung des Jung Hauer Zechen-und
Andreasganges), is full 2120 feet; so that, as Von Dechen's measurements
show that its surface is about 2388 feet above the level of the sea, it
follows that the excavations have not as yet reached that point.  In the
Harz, the Samson mine at Andreasberg has an absolute depth of 2197 feet.  In
what was formerly Spanish America, I know of no mine deeper than the
Valenciana, near Guanaxuato (Mexico), where I found the absolute depth of
the Planes de San Bernardo to be 1686 feet; but these planes are 5960 feet
above the level of the sea.  If we compare the depth of the old Kuttenberger
mine (a depth greater than the height of our Brocken, and only 200 feet less
than that of Vesuvius) with the loftiest structures that the hands of man
have erected (with the Pyramid of Cheops and with the Cathedral of
Strasburg), we find that they stand in the ratio of eight to one.  In this
note I have collected all the certain information I could find regarding the
greatest absolute and relative depths of mines and borings.  In descending
eastward from Jerusalem toward the Dead Sea, a view presents itself to the
eye, which, according to our present hypsometrical knowledge of the surface
of our planet, is unrivaled in any country; as we approach the open ravine
through which the Jordan takes its course, we tread, with the open sky above
us, on rocks which, according to the barometric measurements of Berton and
Russegger are 1385 feet below the level of the Mediterranean.  (Humboldt,
'Asie Centrale', th. ii., p. 323.)

The crystalline masses that have been erupted from active volcanoes, and are
generally similar to the rocks on the upper surface, have come from depths
which, although not accurately determined, must certainly be sixty times
greater than those to which human labor has been enabled to penetrate.  We
are able to give in numbers the depth of the shaft where the strata of coal,
after penetrating a certain way, rise again at a distance that admits of
being accurately defined by measurements.  These dips show that the
carboniferous strata, together with the fossil organic remains which they
contain, must lie, as, for instance, in Belgium, more than five or six
thousand feet* below the present level
p 160
of the sea, and that the calcareous and the curved strata of the Devonian
basin penetrate twice that depth.

[footnote]  *Basin-shaped curved strata, which dip and reappear at
measureable distances, although their deepest portions are beyond the reach
of the miner, afford sensible evidence of the nature of the earth's crust at
great depths below its surface.  Testimony of this kind possesses,
consequently, a great geognostic interest.  I am indebted to that excellent
geognosist, Von Dechen, for the following observations.  "The depth of the
coal basin of Liege, at Mont St. Gilles, which I, in conjunction with our
friend Von Oeynhausen, have ascertained to be 3890 feet below the surface,
extends 3464 feet below the surface of the sea, for the absolute height of
Mont St. Gilles certainly does not much exceed 400 feet; the coal basin of
Mons is fully 1865 feet deeper.  But all these depths are trifling compared
with those which are presented by the coal strata of Saar-Revier
(Saarbrucken).  I have found after repeated examinations, that the lowest
coal stratum which is known in the neighborhood of Duttweiler, near
Bettingen, northeast of Saarlouis, must descend to depths of 20,682 and
22,015 feet (or 3.6 geographical miles) below the level of the sea."  This
result exceeds, by more than 8000 feet, the assumption made in the text
regarding the basin of the Devonian strata.  This coal-field is therefore
sunk as far below the surface of the sea as Chimborazo is elevated above it
-- at a depth at which the Earth's temperature must be as high as
435¼degrees F.  Hence, from the highest pinnacles of the Himalaya to the
lowest basins containing the vegetation of an earlier world, there is a
vertical distance of about 48,000 feet, or of the 435th part of the Earth's

If we compare these subterranean basins with the summits of montains that
have hitherto been considered as the most elevated portions of the raised
crust of the Earth, we obtain a distance of 37,000 feet (about seven miles),
that is, about the 1/524th of the Earth's radius.  These, therefore, would
be the limits of vertical depth and of the superposition of mineral strata
to which geognostical inquiry could penetrate, even if the general elevation
of the upper surface of the earth were equal to the height of the
Dhawalagigi in the Himalaya, or of the Sorata in Bolivia.  All that lies at
a greater depth below the level of the sea than the shafts or the basins of
which I have spoken, the limits to which man's labors have penetrated, or
than the depths to which the sea has in some few instances been sounded (Sir
James Ross was unable to find bottom with 27,600 feet of line), is as much
unknown to us as the interior of the other planets of our solar system.  We
only know the mass of the whole Earth and its mean density by comparing it
with the open strata, which alone are accessible to us.  In the interior of
the Earth, where all knowledge of its chemical and mineralogical character
fails, we are again limited to as pure conjecture, as in the remotest bodies
that revolve round the Sun.  We can determine nothing with certainty
regarding the depth at which the geological strata must be supposed to be in
state of softening or of liquid fusion, of the cavities occupied by elastic
vapor, of the condition of fluids when heated under an enormous pressure, or
of the law of the increase
p 161
of density from the upper surface to the center of the Earth.

The consideration of the increase of heat with the increase of depth toward
the interior of our planet, and of the reaction of the interior on the
external crust, leads us to the long series of volcanic phenomena.  These
elastic forces are manifested in earthquakes, eruptions of gas, hot wells,
mud volcanoes and lava currents from craters of eruption and even in
producing alterations in the level of the sea.*

[footnote]  * [See Daubeney 'On Volcanoes', 2d edit., 3848, p. 539, etc., on
the so called 'mud volcanoes', and the reasons advanced in favor of adopting
the term "salses" to designate these phenomena.] -- Tr.

Large plains and variously indented continents are raised or sunk, lands are
separated from seas, and the ocean itself, which is permeated by hot and
cold currents, coagulates at both poles, converting water into dense masses
of rock, which are either stratified and fixed, or broken up into floating
banks.  The boundaries of sea and land, of fluids and solids, are thus
variously and frequently changed.  Plains have undergone oscillatory
movements, being alternately elevated and depressed.  After the elevation of
continents, mountain chains were raised upon long fissures, mostly parallel,
and in that case, probably cotemporaneous; and salt lakes and inland seas,
long inhabited by the same creatures, were forcibly separated, the fossil
remains of shells and zoophytes still giving evidence of their original
connection.  Thus, in following phenomena in their mutual dependence, we are
led from the consideration of the forces acting in the interior of the Earth
to those which cause eruptions on its surface, and by the pressure of
elastic vapors give rise to burning streams of lava that flow from open

The same powers that raised the chains of the Andes and the Hiimalaya to the
regions of perpetual snow, have occasioned new compositions and new textures
in the rocky masses, and have altered the strata which had been previously
deposited from fluids impregnated with organic substances.  We here trace
the series of formations, divided and superposed according to their age, and
depending upon the changes of configuration of the surface, the dynamic
relations of upheaving forces, and the chemical action of vapors issuing
from the fissures.

The form and distribution of continents, that is to say, of that solid
portion of the Earth's surface which is suited to the luxurious development
of vegetable life, are associated by intimate connection and reciprocal
action with the encircling
p 162
sea in which organic life is almost entirely limited to the animal world.
The liquid element is again covered by the atmosphere, an a‘rial ocean in
which the mountain chains and high plains of the dry land rise like shoals,
occasioning a variety of currents and changes of temperature, collecting
vapor from the region of clouds, and distributing life and motion by the
action of the streams of water which flow from their declivities.

While the geography of plants and animals depends on these intricate
relations of the distribution of sea and land, the configuration of the
surface, and the direction of isothermal lines (or zones of equal mean
annual heat), we find that the case is totally different when we consider
the human race -- the last and noblest subject in a physical description of
the globe.  The characteristic differences in races, and their relative
numerical distribution over the Earth's surface, are conditions affected not
by natural relations alone, but at the same time and specially, by the
progress of civilization, and by moral and intellectual cultivation on which
depends the political superiority that distinguishes national progress.
Some few races, clinging, as it were, to the soil, are supplanted and ruined
by the dangerous vicinity of others more civilized than themselves, until
scarce a trace of their existence remains.  Other races, again, not the
strongest in numbers, traverse the liquid element, and thus become the first
to acquire, although late, a geographical knowledge of at least the maritime
lands of the whole surface of our globe, from pole to pole.

I have thus, before we enter on the individual characters of that portion of
the delineation of nature which includes the sphere of telluric phenomena,
shown generally in what manner the consideration of the form of the Earth
and the incessant action of electro-magnetism and subterranean heat may
enable us to embrace in one view the relations of horizontal expansion and
elevation on the Earth's surface, the geognostic type of formations, the
domain of the ocean (of the liquid portions of the Earth), the atmosphere
with its meteorological processes, the geographical distribution of plants
and animals, and, finally, the physical gradations of the human race, which
is, exclusively and every where, susceptible of intellectual culture.  This
unity of contemplation presupposes a connection of phenomena according to
their internal combination.  A mere tabular arrangement of these facts would
not fulfill the object I have proposed to myself, and would not satisfy that
requirement for cosmical presentation awakened in me by the
p 163
aspect of nature in my journeyings by sea and land, by the careful study of
forms and forces, and by a vivid impression of the unity of nature in the
midst of the most varied portions of the Earth.  In the rapid advance of all
branches of physical science, much that is deficient in this attempt will,
perhaps, at no remote period, be corrected and rendered more perfect, for it
belongs to the history of the development of knowledge that portions which
have long stood isolated become gradually connected, and subject to higher
laws.  I only indicate the empirical path in which I and many others of
similar pursuits with myself are advancing, full of expectation that, as
Plato tells us Socrates once desired, "Nature may be interpreted by reason

[footnote]  *Plato, 'Phaedo', p. 97.  (Arist., 'Metaph.', p. 985.)  compare
Hegel, 'Philosophie der Geschichte', 1840, s. 16.

The delineation of the principal characteristics of telluric phenomena must
begin with the form of our planet and its relations in space.  Here too, we
may say that it is not only the mineralogical character of rocks, whether
they are crystalline, granular, or densely fossiliferous, but the
geometrical form of the Earth itself, which indicates the mode of its
origin, and is, in fact, its history.  An elliptical spheroid of revolution
gives evidence of having once been a soft or fluid mass.  Thus the Earth's
compression constitutes one of the most ancient geognostic events, as every
attentive reader of the book of nature can easily discern; and an analogous
fact is presented in the case of the Moon, the perpetual direction of whose
axes toward the Earth, that is to say, the increased accumulation of matter
on that half of the Moon which is turned toward us, determines the relations
of the periods of rotation and revolution, and is probably contemporaneous
with the earliest epoch in the formative history of this satellite.  The
mathematical figure of the Earth is that which it would have were its
surface covered entirely by water in a state of rest; and it is this assumed
form to which all geodesical measurements of degrees refer.  This
mathematical surface is different from that true physical surface which is
affected by all the accidents and inequalities of the solid parts.*

[footnote]  *Bessel, 'Allgemeine Betrachtungen uber Gradmessungen nach
astronomisch-geodŠtischen Arbeiten', at the conclusion of Bessel and
Baeyer, 'Gradmessung in Ostpreussen', s. 427.  Regarding the accumulation of
matter on the side of the Moon turned toward us (a subject noticed in an
earlier part of the text), see Laplace, 'Expos. du Syst. du Monde', p. 308.

The whole figure of the Earth is determined when we know the amount of the
p 164
compression at the poles and the equatorial diameter; in order, however, to
obtain a perfect representation of its form it is necessary to have
measurements in two directions, perpendicular to one another.

Eleven measurements of degrees (or determinations of the curvature of the
Earth's surface in different parts), of which nine only belong to the
present century, have made us acquainted with the size of our globe, which
Pliny names "a point in the immeasurable universe."*

[footnote]  *Plin., ii., 68.  Seneca, 'Nat. Quaest., Praef., c. ii. "El
mundo espoco" (the Earth is small and narrow), writes Columbus from Jamaica
to Queen Isabella on the 7th of July, 1503:  not because he entertained the
philosophic views of the aforesaid Romans, but because it appeared
advantageous to him to maintain that the journey from Spain was not long,
if, as he observes, "we seek the east from the west."  Compare my 'Examen
Crit. de l'Hist. de la Geogr. du 15 me Siecle', t.i., p. 83, and t. ii., p.
327, where I have shown that the opinion maintained by Delisle, Freret, and
Gosselin, that the excessive differences in the statements regarding the
Earth's circumference, found in the writings of the Greeks, are only
apparent, and dependent on different values being attached to the stadia,
was put forward as early as 1495 by Jaime Ferrer, in a proposition regarding
the determination of the line of demarkation of the papal dominions.

If these measurements do not always accord in the curvatures of different
meridians under the same degree of latitude, this very circumstance speaks
in favor of the exactness of the instruments and the methods employed, and
of the accuracy and the fidelity to nature of these partial results.  The
conclusion to be drawn from the increase of forces of attraction (in the
direction from the equator to the poles) with respect to the figure of a
planet is dependent on the distribution of density in its interior.  Newton,
from theoretical principles, and perhaps likewise  prompted by Cassini's
discovery, previously to 1666, of the compression of Jupiter,* determined,
in his immortal work, 'Philosophiae Naturalis Principia', that the
compression of the Earth, as a homogeneous mass, was 1/230th.

[footnote]  *Brewster, 'Life of Sir Isaac Newton', 1831, p. 162.  "The
discovery of the spheroidal form of Jupiter by Cassini had probably directed
the attention of Newton to the determination of its cause, and consequently,
to the investigation of the true figure of the Earth."  Although Cassini did
not announce the amount of the compression of Jupiter (1/15th) till 1691
('Anciens Memoires de l'Acad. des Sciences', t. ii., p. 108), yet we know
from Lalande ('Astron.', 3me ed., t. iii., p. 335) that Moraldi possessed
some printed sheets of a Latin work, "On the Spots of the Planets,"
commenced by Cassini, from which it was obvious that he was aware of the
compression of Jupiter before the year 1666, and therefore at least
twenty-one years before the publication of Newton's 'Principia'.

Actual mesurements,
p 165
made by the aid of new and more perfect analysis, have, however, shown that
the compression of the poles of the terrestrial spheroid, when the density
of the strata is regarded as increasing toward the center, is very nearly

Three methods have been employed to investigate the curvature of the Earth's
surface, viz., measurements of degrees, oscillations of the pendulum, and
observations of the inequalities in the Moon's orbit.  The first is a direct
geometrical and astronomical method, while in the other two we determine
from accurately observed movements the amount of  the forces which occasion
those movements, and from these forces we arrive at the cause from whence
they have originated, viz., the compression of our terrestrial spheroid.  In
this part of my delineation of nature, contrary to my usual practice, I have
instanced methods because their accuracy affords a striking illustration of
the intimate connection existing among the forms and forces of natural
phenomena, and also because their application has given occasion to
improvements in the exactness of instruments (as those employed in the
measurements of space) in optical and chronological observations; to greater
perfection in the fundamental branches of astronomy and mechanics in respect
to lunar motion and to the resistance experienced by the oscillations of the
pendulum; and to the discovery of new and hitherto untrodden paths of
analysis.  With the exception of the investigations of the parallax of
stars, which led to the discovery of aberration and nutation, the history of
science presents no problem in which the object attained -- the knowledge of
the compression and of the irregular form of our planet -- is so far
exceeded in importance by the incidental gain which has accrued, through a
long and weary course of investigation, in the general furtherance and
improvement of the mathematical and astronomical sciences.  The comparison
of eleven measurements of degrees (in which are included three
extra-European, namely, the old Peruvian and two East Indian) gives,
according to the most strictly theoretical requirements allowed for by
Bessel,* a compression
p 166
of 1/299th.

[footnote]  *According to Bessel's examination of ten measurements of
degrees, in which the error discovered by Poissant in the calculation of the
French measurements is taken into consideration (Schumacher, 'Astron.
Nachr.', 1841, No. 438, s. 116), the semi-axis major of the elliptical
spheroid of revolution to which the irregular figure of the Earth most
closely approximates is 3,272,077.14 toises, or 20,924,774 feet; the
semi-axis minor, 3,261,159,83 toises, or 20,854,821 feet; and the amount of
compression or eccentricity 1/299.152d; the length of a mean degree of the
meridian, 57,013.109 toises, or 364,596 feet, with an error of + 2.8403
toises, or 18.16 feet, whence the length of a geographical mile is 3807.23
toises, or 6086.7 feet.  Previous combinations of measurements of degrees
varied between 1/302d and 1/297th; thus Walbeck ('De Forma of Magnitudine
telluris in demensis arcubus Meridiani definiendis', 1819) gives 1/30278th:
Ed. Schmidt ('Lehrbuch der Mathem. und Phys. Geographie', 1829, s. 5) gives
1/20742d, as the mean of seven measures.  Respecting the influence of great
differences of longitude on the polar compression, see 'Bibliotheque
Universelle', t. xxxiii., p. 181, and t. xxxv., p. 50: likewise
'Connaissance des Tems', 1829, p. 290.  From the lunar inequalities alone,
Laplace ('Exposition du Syst. du Monde', p. 229) found it, by the older
tables of Burg, to be 1/3245th; and subsequently, from the lunar
observations of Burckhardt and Bouvard, he fixed it at 1/299.1th ('Mecanique
Celeste', t. v., p. 13 and 43).

In accordance with this, the polar radius is 10,938 toises (69,944 feet), or
about 11 1/2 miles, shorter than the equatorial radius of our terrestrial
spheroid.  The excess at the equator in consequence of the curvature of the
upper surface of the globe amounts, consequently, in the direction of
gravitation, to somewhat more than 4 3/7th times the height of Mont Blanc,
or only 2 1/2 times the probable height of the summit of the Chawalagiri, in
the Himalaya chain.  The lunar inequalities (perturbation in the moon's
latitude and longitude) give according to the last investigations of
Laplace, almost the same result for the ellipticity as the measurements of
degrees, viz., 1/299th.  The results yielded by the oscillation of the
pendulum give, on the whole, a much greater amount of compression, viz.,

[footnote]  *The oscillations of the pendulum give 1/288.7th as the general
result of Sabine's great expedition (1822 and 1823, from the equator to 80
degrees north latitude); according to Freycinet, 1/286.2d, exclusive of the
experiments instituted at the Isle of France, Guam, and Mowi (Mawi);
according to Forster, 1/289.5th; according to Duperrey, 1/266.4th; and
according to Lutke ('Partie Nautique', 1836, p. 232), 1/270th, calculated
from eleven stations.  On the other hand, Mathieu ('Connais. des Temps',
1816, p. 330) fixed the amount at 1/298.2d, from observations made between
Formentera and Dunkirk; and Biot, at 1/304th, from observations between
Formentera and the island of Ust.  Compare Baily, 'Report on Pendulum
Experiments', in the 'Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society', vol. vii.,
p. 96; also Borenius, in the 'Bulletin de l'Acad. de St. Petersbourg', 1843,
t. i., p. 25.  The first proposal to apply the length of the pendulum as a
standard of measure, and to establish the third part of the seconds pendulum
(then supposed to be every where of equal length) as a 'pes horarius', or
general measure, that might be recovered at any age and by all nations, is
to be found in Huygens's 'Horologium Oscillatorium', 1673, Prop. 25.  A
similar wish was afterward publicly expressed, in 1742, on a monument
erected at the equator by Bouguer, La Condamine, and Godin.  On the
beautiful marble tablet which exists, as yet uninjured, in the old Jesuits'
College at Quito, I have myself read the inscription, 'Penduli simplicis
aequinoctialis unius minuti secundi archetypus, mensurae naturalis exemplar,
utinam universalis!'  From an observation made by La Condamine, in his
'Journal du Voyage a l'Equateur', 1751, p. 163, regarding parts of the
inscription that were not filled up, and a slight difference between Bonguer
and himself respecting the numbers, I was led to expect that I should find
considerable discrepancies between the marble tablet and the inscription as
it had been described in Paris; but, after a careful comparison, I merely
found two "ex arca graduum plusquam trium," and the date of 1745 instead of
1742.  The latter circumstance is singular, because La Condamine returned to
Europe in November, 1744, Bouguer in June of the same year, and Godin had
left South America in July, 1744.  The most necessary and useful amendment
to the numbers on this inscription would have been the astronomical
longitude of Quito.  (Humboldt, 'Recueil d'Observ. Astron.', t. ii., p.
319-354.)  Nouet's latitudes, engraved on Egyptian monuments, offer a more
recent example of the danger presented by the grave perpetuation of false or
careless results.

Galileo, who first observed when a boy (having, probably, suffered his
thoughts to wander from the service) that the height of the vaulted roof of
a church might be measured by the time of the vibration of the chandeliers
suspended at different altitudes, could hardly have anticipated that the
pendulum would one day be carried from pole to pole, in order to determine
the form of the Earth, or, rather, that the unequal density of the strata of
the Earth affects the length of the seconds pendulum by means of intricate
forces of local attraction, which are, however, almost regular in large
tracts of land.  These geognostic relations of an instrument intended for
the measurement of time -- this property of the pendulum, by which, like a
sounding line, it searches unknown depths, and reveals in volcanic islands,*
or in the declivity of elevated continental mountain chains,** dense masses
of basalt and melaphyre instead of cavities, render it difficult,
notwithstanding the admirable simplicity of the method, to arrive at any
great result regarding the figure of the Earth from observation of the
oscillations of the pendulum.

[footnote]  *Respecting the augmented intensity of the attraction of
gravitation in volcanic islands (St. Helena, Ualan, Fernando de Noronha,
Isle of France, Guam, Mowe, and Galapagos), Rawak (Lutke, p. 240) being an
exception, probably in consequence of its proximity to the highland of New
Guinea, see Mathieu, in Delambre, 'Hist. de l'Astronomie, au 18me Siecle',
p. 701.

[footnote]  **Numerous observations also show great irregularities in the
length of the pendulum in the midst of continents, and which are ascribed to
local attractions.  (Delambre, 'Mesure de la Meridienne', t. iii., p. 548;
Biot, in the 'Mem. de l'Academie des Sciences', t. viii., 1829, p. 18 and
23.)  In passing over the South of France and Lombardy from west to east, we
find the minimum intensity of gravitation at Bordeaux; from thence it
increases rapidly as we advance eastward, through Figeac, Clermont-Ferrand,
Milan, and Padua; and in the last town we find that the intensity has
attained its maximum.  The influence of the southern declivities of the Alps
is not merely t on the general size of their mass, but (much more), in the
opinion of Elie de Beaumont ('Rech. sur les Revol. de la Surface du Globe',
1830, p. 729), on the rocks of melaphyre and serpentine, which have elevated
the chain.  On the declivity of Ararat, which with Caucasus may be said to
lie in the center of gravity of the old continent formed by Europe, Asia,
and Africa, the very exact pendulum experiments of Fedorow give indications,
not of subterranean cavities, but of dense volcanic masses.  (Parrot, 'Reise
zum Ararat', bd. ii., s. 143.)  In the geodesic operations of Carlini and
Plana, in Lombardy, differences ranging from 20" to 47".8 have been found
between direct observations of latitude and the results of these operations.
 (See the instances of Andrate and Mondovi, and those of Milan and Padua, in
the 'Operations Geodes. et Astron. pour la Mesure d'un Arc du Parallele
Moyen', t. ii., p. 347; 'Effemeridi Astron. di Milano', 1842, p. 57.)  The
latitude of Milan, deduced from that of Berne, according to the  , is
45¼degrees 27' 52", while, according to direct astronomical observations,
it is 45 degrees 27' 35".  As the perturbations extend in the plain of
Lombardy to Parma, which is far south of the Po (Plana, 'Operat. Geod.', t.
ii., p. 847), it is probable that there are deflecting causes 'concealed
beneath the soil of the plain itself'.  Struve has made similar experiments
[with corresponding results] in the most level parts of eastern Europe.
(Schumacher, 'Astron. Nachrichten', 1830, No. 164, s. 399.)  Regarding the
influence of dense masses supposed to lie at a small depth, equal to the
mean height of the Alps, see the analytical expressions given by Hossard and
Rozet, in the 'Comptes Rendus', t. xviii., 1844, p. 292, and compare them
with Poisson, 'Traite de Mecanique' (2me ed., t. i., p. 482.  The earliest
observations on the influence which different kinds of rocks exercise on the
vibration of the pendulum are those of Thomas Young, in the 'Philos.
Transactions' for 1819, p. 70-96.  In drawing conclusions regarding the
Earth's curvature from the length of the pendulum, we ought not to overlook
the possibility that its crust may have undergone a process of hardening
previously to metallic and dense basaltic masses having penetrated from
great depths, through open clefts, and approached near the surface.

In the astronomical part of the determination of degrees of latitude,
mountain chains, or the denser strata of the Earth, likewise exercise,
although in a less degree, an unfavorable influence on the measurement.

As the form of the Earth exerts a powerful influence on the motions of other
cosmical bodies, and especially on that of its own neighboring satellite, a
more perfect knowledge of the motion of the latter will enable us
reciprocally to draw an inference regarding the figure of the Earth.  Thus,
as Laplace ably remarks,*  "An astronomer, without leaving his observatory,
may, by a comparison of lunar theory with true observations, not only be
enabled to determine the form and size of the Earth, but also its distance
from the Sun and Moon -- results that otherwise could only be arrived at by
long and arduous expeditions to the most remote parts of both hemispheres."

[footnote]  *Laplace, 'Expos. du Syst. du Monde', p. 231.

p 169
The compression which may be inferred from lunar inequalities affords an
advantage not yielded by individual measurements of degrees or experiments
with the pendulum, since it gives a mean amount which is referable to the
whole planet.  The comparison of the Earth's compression with the velocity
of rotation shows, further, the increase of density from the strata from the
surface toward the center -- an increase which a comparison of the ratios of
the axes of Jupiter and Saturn with their times of rotation likewise shows
to exist in these two large planets.  Thus the knowledge of the external
form of planetary bodies leads us to draw conclusions regarding their
internal character.

The northern and southern hemispheres appear to present nearly the same
curvature under equal degrees of latitude, but, as has already been
observed, pendulum experiments and measurements of degrees yield such
different results for individual portions of the Earth's surface that no
regular figure can be given which would reconcile all the results hitherto
obtained by this method.  the true figure of the Earth is to a regular
figure as the uneven surfaces of water in motion are on the even surface of
water at rest.

When the Earth had been measured, it still had to be weighed.  The
oscillations of the pendulum* and the plummet have here likewise served to
determine the mean density of the Earth, either in connection with
astronomical and geodetic operations, with the view of finding the
deflection of the plummet from a vertical line in the vicinity of a
mountain, or by a comparison of the length of the pendulum in a plain and on
the summit of an elevation, or, finally, by the employment of a torsion
balance, which may be considered as a horizontally vibrating pendulum for
the measurement of the relative density of neighbouring strata.

[footnote]  *La Caille's pendulum measurements at the Cape of Good Hope,
which have been calculated with much care by Mathieu (Delambre, 'Hist. de
l'Astron. au 18me Siecle', p. 479), give a compression of 1/284.4th; but,
from several comparisons of observations  made in equal latitudes in the two
hemispheres (New Holland and the Malouines (Falkland Islands), compared with
Barcelona, New York, and Dunkirk), there is as yet no reason for supposing
that the mean compression of the southern hemisphere is greater than that of
the northern.  (Biot, in the 'Mem. de l'Acad. des Sciences', t. viii., 1829,
p. 39-41.)

Of these three methods* the
p 170
last is the most certain, since it is independent of the difficult
determination of the density of the mineral masses of which the spherical
segment of the mountain consists near which the observations are made.

[footnote]  *The three methods of observation give the following results:
(1.) by the deflection of the plumb-line in the proximity of the Shehallien
Mountain (Gaelic, Thichallin) in Perthshire, r.713, as determined by
Maskelyne, Hutton, and Playfair (1774-1776 and 1810), according to a method
that had been proposed by Newton; (2.) by pendulum vibrations on mountains,
4.837 (Carlini's observations on Mount Cenis compared with Biot's
observations at Bordeaux, 'Effemer. Astron. di Milano', 1824, p. 184); (3.)
by the torsion balance used by Cavendish, with an apparatus originally
devised by Mitchell, 5.48 (according to Hutton's revision of the
calculation, 5.32, and according to that of Eduard Schmidt, 5.52; 'Lehrbuch
der Math. Geographie', bd. i., s. 487); by the torsion balance, according to
Reich, 5.44.  In the calculation of these experiments of Professor Reich,
which have been made with masterly accuracy, the original mean result was
5.43 (with a probable error of only 0.0233), a result which, being increased
by the quantity by which the Earth's centrifugal force diminishes the force
of gravity for the latitude of Freiberg (50 degrees 55'), becomes changed to
5.44.  The employment of cast iron instead of lead has not presented any
sensible difference, or none exceeding the limits of errors of observation,
hence disclosing no traces of magnetic influences.  (Reich, 'Vrsuche uber
die mittlere Dichtigheit der Erde', 1838, s. 60, 62, and 66.)  By the
assumption of too slight a degree of ellipticity of the Earth, and by the
uncertainty of the estimations regarding the density of rocks on its
surface, the mean density of the Earth, as deduced from experiments on and
near mountains, was found about one sixth smaller than it really is, namely,
4.761 (Laplace, 'Mecan. Celeste', t. v., p. 46), or 4.785.  (Eduard Schmidt,
'Lehrb. der Math. Geogr.', bd. i., 387 und 418.)  On Halley's hypothesis of
the Earth being a hollow sphere (noticed in page 171), which was the germ of
Franklin's ideas concerning earthquakes, see 'Philos. Trans.' for the year
1693, vol. xvii., p. 563 ('On the Structure of the Internal Parts of the
Earth, and the concave habited 'Arch of the Shell').  Halley regarded it as
more worthy of the Creator "that the Earth, like a house of several stories,
should be inhabited both without and within.  For light in the hollow sphere
(p. 576) provision might in some manner be contrived."

According to the most recent experiments of Reich, the result obtained is
5.44; that is to say, the mean density of the whole Earth is 5.44 times
greater than tht of pure water.  As according to the nature of the
mineralogical strata constituting the dry continental part of the Earth's
surface, the mean density of this portion scarcely amounts to 2.7, and the
density of the dry and liquid surface conjointly to scarcely 1.6, it follows
that the elliptical unequally compressed layers of the interior must greatly
increase in density toward the center, either through pressure or owing to
the heterogeneous nature of the substances.  Here again we see that the
vertical, as well as the horizontally vibrating pendulum, may justly be
termed a geognostical instrument.

The results obtained by the employment of an instrument of this kind have
led celebrated physicists, according to the difference of the hypothesis
from which they started, to adopt
p 171
entirely opposite views regarding the nature of the interior of the globe.
It has been computed at what depths liquid or even gaseous substances would,
from the pressure of their own superimposed strata, attain a density
exceeding that of platinum or even iridium; and in order that the
compression which has been detrmined within such narrow limits might be
brought into harmony with the assumption of simple and infinitely
compressible matter, Leslie has ingeniously conceived the nucleus of the
world to be a hollow sphere, filled with an assumed "imponderable matter,
having an enormous force of expansion."  These venturesome and arbitrary
conjectures have given rise, in wholly unscientific circles, to still more
fantastic notions.  The hollow sphere has by degrees been peopled with
plants and animals, and two small subterranean revolving planets -- Pluto
and Proserpine -- were imaginatively supposed to shed over it their mild
light; as, however, it was further imagined that an ever-uniform temperature
reigned in these internal regions, the air, which was made self-luminous by
compression, might well render the planets of this lower world unnecessary.
Near the north pole, at 80 degrees latitude, whence the polar light
emanates, was an enormous opening, through which a descent might be made
into the hollow sphere, and Sir Humphrey Davy and myself were even publicly
and frequently invited by Captain Symmes to enter upon this subterranean
expedition:  so powerful is the morbid inclination of men to fill unknown
spaces with shapes of wonder, totally unmindful of the counter evidence
furnished by well-attested facts and universally acknowledged natural laws.
Even the celebrated Halley, at the end of the seventeenth century, hollowed
out the Earth in his magnetic speculations.  Men were invited to believe
that a subterranean freely-rotating nucleus occasions by its position the
diurnal and annual changes of magnetic declination.  It has thus been
attempted in our own day, with tedious solemnity, to clothe in a scientific
garb the quaintly-devised fiction of the humorous Holbert.*

[footnote]  *[The work referred to, one of the wittiest productions of the
learned Norwegian satirist and dramatist Holberg, was written in Latin, and
first appeared under the following title:  'Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum
novam telluris theoriam ac historiam quintae monarchi Nicolai Klimii iter
subterraneum novam telluris theoriam ac historiam quintae monarchi ad huc
nobis incognitae exhibens e bibliotheca b. Abelini. Hafniae et Lipsiae sunt.
 Jac. Preuss', 1741.  An admirable Danish translation of this learned but
severe satire on the institutions, morals, and manners of the inhabitants of
the upper Earth, appeared at Copenhagen in 1789, and was entitled 'Niels
Klim's underjordiske reise ocd Ludwig Holberg, oversal after den Latinske
original of Jens Baggesen'.  Holberg, who studied for a time at Oxford, was
born at Bergen in 1685, and died in 1754 as Rector of the University of
Copenhagen.] -- Tr.

p 172
The figure of the Earth and the amount of solidification (density) which it
has acquired are intimately connected with the forces by which it is
animated, in so far, at least, as they have been excited or awakened from
without, through its planetry position with reference to a luminous central
body.  Compression, when considered as a consequence of centrifugal force
acting on a rotating mass, explains the earlier condition of fluidity of our
planet.  During the solidification of this fluid, which is commonly
conjectured to have been gaseous and primordially heated to a very high
temperature, an enormous quantity of latent heat must have been liberated.
If the process of solidification began as Fourier conjectures, by radiation
from the cooling surface exposed to the atmosphere, the particles near the
center would have continued fluid and hot.  As, after long emanation of heat
from the center toward the exterior, a stable condition of the temperature
of the Earth would at length be established, it has been assumed that with
increasing depth the subterranean heat likewise uninterruptedly increases.
The heat of the water which flows from deep borings (Artesian wells), direct
experiments regarding the temperature of rocks in mines, but, above all, the
volcanic activity of the Earth, shown by the flow of molten masses from open
fissures, afford unquestionable evidence of this increase for very
considerable depths from the upper strata.  According to conclusions based
certainly upon mere analogies, this increase is probably much greater toward
the center.

That which has been learned by an ingenious analytic calculation, expressly
perfected for this class of investigations,*
p 173
regarding the motion of heat in homogeneous metallic spheroids, must be
applied with much caution to the actual character of our planet, considering
our present imperfect knowledge of the substances of which the Earth is
composed, the difference in the capacity of heat and in the conducting power
of different superimposed masses, and the chemical changes experienced by
solid and liquid masses from any enormous compression.

[footnote]  *Here we must notice the admirable analytical labors of Fourier,
Biot, Laplace, Poisson, Duhamel, and Lame.  In his 'Theorie Mathematique de
la Chaleur', 1835, p. 3, 428-430, 436, and 521-524 (see, also, De la Rive's
abstract in the 'Bibliotheque Universelle de Geneve', Poisson has developed
an hypothesis totally different from Fourier's view ('Theorie Analytique de
la Chaleur'.)  He denies the present fluid state of the Earth's center; he
believes that "in cooling by radiation to the medium surrounding the Earth,
the parts which were first solidified sunk, and that by a double descending
and ascending current, the great inequality was lessened which would have
taken place in a solid body cooling from the surface."  It seems more
probable to this great geometer that the solidification began in the parts
lying nearest to the center:  "the phenomenon of the increase of heat with
the depth does not extend to the whole mass of the Earth, and is merely a
consequence of the motion of our planetary system in space, of which some
parts are of a very different temperature from others, in consequence of
stellar heat (chaleur stellaire)."  Thus, according to Poisson, the warmth
of the water of our Artesian wells is merely that which has penetrated into
the Earth from without; and the Earth itself "might be regarded as in the
same circumstances as a mass of rock conveyed from the equator to the pole
in so short a time as not to have entirely cooled.  The increase of
temperature in such a block would not extend to the central strata."  The
physical doubts which have reasonably been entertained against this
extraordinary cosmical view (which attributes to the regions of space that
which probably is more dependent on the first transition of matter
condensing from the gaseo-fluid into the solid state) will be found
collected in Poggendorf's 'Annalen', bd. xxxix., s 93-100.

It is with the greatest difficulty that our powers of comprehension can
conceive the boundary line which divides the fluid mass of the interior from
the hardened mineral masses of the external surface, or the gradual increase
of the solid strata, and the condition of semi-fluidity of the earthy
substances, these being conditions to which known laws of hydraulics can
only apply under considerable modifications.  The Sun and Moon, which cause
the sea to ebb and flow, most probably also affect these subterranean
depths.  We may suppose that the periodic elevations and depressions of the
molten mass under the already solidified strata must have caused
inequalities in the vaulted surface from the force of pressure.  The amount
and action of such oscillations must, however, be small; and if the relative
position of the attracting cosmical bodies may here also excite "spring
tides," it is certainly not to these, but to more powerful internal forces,
that we must ascribe the movements that shake the Earth's surface.  There
are groups of phenomena to whose existence it is necessary to draw
attention, in order to indicate the universality of the influence of the
attraction of the Sun and Moon on the external and internal conditions of
the Earth, however little we may be able to determine the quantity of this

According to tolerably accordant experiments in Artesian wells, it has been
shown that the heat increases on an average about 1 degree for every 54.5
feet.  If this increase can be reduced
p 174
to arithmetical relations, it will follow, as I have already observed,* that
a stratum of granite would be in a state of fusion at a depth of nearly
twenty-one geographical miles, or between four and five times the elevation
of the highest summit of the Hinalaya.

[footnote]  *See the Introduction.  This increase of temperature has been
found in the Puits de Grenelle, at Paris, at 58.3 feet; in the boring at the
new salt-works at Minden, almost 53.6; at Pregny, near Geneva, according to
Auguste de la Rive and Marcet, notwithstanding that the mouth of the boring
is 1609 feet above the level of the sea, it is also 53.6 feet.  This
coincidence between the results of a method first proposed by Arago in the
year 1821 ('Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes', 1835, p. 234), for three
different mines, of the absolute depths of 1794, 2231, and 725 feet
respectively, is remarkable.  The two points on the Earth, lying at a small
vertical distance from each other, whose annual mean temperatures are most
accurately known, are probably at the spot on which the Paris Observatory
stands, and the Caves de l'Observatoire beneath it; the mean temperature of
the former is 51.5¼degrees, and of the latter 53.3¼degrees, the difference
being 1.8¼degrees for 92 feet, or 1 degree for 51.77 feet.  (Poisson,
'Theorie Math. de la Chaleur', p. 415 and 462.)  In the course of the last
seventeen years, from causes not yet perfectly understood, but probably not
connected with the actual temperature of the caves, the thermometer standing
there has risen very nearly 0.4 degrees.  Although in Artesian wells there
are sometimes slight errors from the lateral permeation of water, these
errors are less injurious to the accuracy of conclusions than those
resulting from currents of cold air, which are almost always present in
mines.  The general result of Reich's great work on the temperature of the
mines in the Saxony mining districts gives a somewhat slower increase of the
terrestrial heat, or 1 degree to 76.3 feet.  (Reich, 'Beob. uber die
Temperatur des Gesteins in verschielen en Tiefen', 1834, s. 134.)  Phillips,
however, found (Pogg., 'Annalen', bd. xxxiv., s. 191), in a shaft of the
coal-mine of Monk-wearmouth, near Newcastle, in which, as I have already
remarked, excavations are going on at a depth of about 1500 feet below the
level of the sea, an increase of 1 degree to 59.06 feet, a result almost
identical with that found by Arago in the Puits de Grenell.

We must distinguish in our globe three different modes for the transmission
of heat.  The first is periodic, and affects the temperature of the
terrestrial strata according as the heat penetrates from above downward or
from below upward, being influenced by the different positions of the Sun
and the seasons of the year.  The second is likewise an effect of the Sun,
although extremely slow:  a portion of the heat that has penetrated into the
equatorial regions moves in the interior of the globe toward the poles,
where it escapes into the atmosphere and the remoter regions of space.  The
third mode of transmission is the slowest of all, and is derived from the
secular cooling of the globe, and from the small portion of the primitive
heat which is still being disengaged from the surface.
p 175
This loss experienced by the central heat must have been very considerable
in the earliest epochs of the Earth's revolutions, but within historical
periods it has hardly been appreciable by our instruments.  The surface of
the Earth is therefore situated between the glowing heat of the inferior
strata and the universal regions of space, whose temperature is probably
below the freezing-point of mercury.

The periodic changes of temperature which have been occasioned on the
Earth's surface by the Sun's position and by meteorological processes, are
continued in its interior, although to a very inconsiderable depth.  The
slow conducting power of the ground diminishes this loss of heat in the
winter, and is very favorable to deep-rooted trees.  Points that lie at very
different depths on the same vertical line attain the maximum and minimum of
the imparted temperature at very different periods of time.  The further
they are removed from the surface, the smaller is this difference between
the extremes.  In the latitudes of our temperate zone (between 48 degrees
and 52 degrees), the stratum of invariable temperature is at a depth of from
59 to 64 feet, and at half that depth the oscillations of the thermometer,
from the influence of the seasons, scarcely amount to half a degree.  In
tropical climates this invariable stratum is only one foot below the
surface, and this fact has been ingeniously made use of by Boussingault to
obtain a convenient, and as he believes, certain determination of the mean
temperature of the air of different places.*

[footnote]  *Boussingault, 'Sur la Profondeus a laquelle se trouve la Couche
de Temperature invariable, entre les Tropiques', in the 'Annales de Chimie
et de Physique', t. liii., 1833, p. 225-247.

This mean temperature of the air at a fixed point, or at a group of
contiguous points on the surface, is to a certain degree the fundamental
element of the climate and agricultural relations of a district; but the
mean temperature of the whole surface is very different from that of the
globe itself.  The questions so often agitated, whether the mean temperature
has experienced any considerable differences in the course of centuries,
whether the climate of a country has deteriorated, and whether the winters
have not become milder and the summers cooler, can only be answered by means
of the thermometer; this instrument has, however, scarcely been invented
more than two centuries and a half, and its scientific application hardly
dates back 120 years.  The nature and novelty of the means interpose,
therefore, very narrow limits to our investigation regarding the temperature
p 176
of the air.  It is quite otherwise, however, with the solution of the great
problem of the internal heat of the whole Earth.  As we may judge of
uniformity of temperature from the unaltered time of vibration of a
pendulum, so we may also learn, from the unaltered rotatory velocity of the
Earth, the amount of stability in the mean temperature of our globe.  This
insight into the relations between the 'length of the day' and the 'heat of
the Earth' is the result of one of the most brilliant applications of the
knowledge we had long possessed of the planet.  The rotatory velocity of the
Earth depends on its volume; and since, by the gradual cooling of the mass
by radiation, the axis of rotation would become shorter, the rotatory
velocity would necessarily increase, and the length of the day diminish,
with a decrease of the temperature.  From the comparison of the secular
inequalities in the motions of the Moon with the eclipses observed in
ancient times, it follows that, since the time of Hipparchus, that is, for
full 2000 years, the length of the day has certainly not diminished by the
hundredth part of a second.  The decrease of the mean heat of the globe
during a period of 2000 years has not, therefore, taking the extremest
limits, diminished as much as 1/306th of a degree of Fahrenheit.*

[footnote]  *Laplace, 'Exp. du Syst. du Monde', p. 229 and 263; 'Mecanique
Celeste', t. v., p. 18 and 72.  It should be remarked that the fraction
1/306th of a degree of Fahrenheit of the mercurial thermometer, given in the
text as the limit of the stability of the Earth's temperature since the days
of Hipparchus, rests on the assumption that the dilation of the substances
of which the Earth is composed is equal to that of glass, that is to say,
1/18,000th for 1 degree.  Regarding this hypothesis, see Arago in the
'Annuaire' for 1834, p. 177-190.

This invariability of form presupposes also a great invariability in the
distribution of relations of density in the interior of the globe.  The
translatory movements, which occasion the eruptions of our present volcanoes
and of ferruginous lava, and the filling up of previously empty fissures and
cavities with dense masses of stone, are consequently only to be regarded as
slight superficial phenomena affecting merely one portion of the Earth's
crust, which, from their smallness when compared to the Earth's radius,
become wholly insignificant.

I have described the internal heat of our planet, both with reference to its
cause and distribution, almost solely from the results of Fourier's
admirable investigations.  Poisson doubts the fact of the uninterrupted
increase of the Earth's heat
p 177
from the surface to the center, and is of opinion that all heat has
penetrated from without inward, and that the temperature of the globe
depends upon the very high or very low temperature of the regions of space
through which the solar temperature of the regions of space, through which
the solar system has moved.  This hypothesis, imagined by one of the most
acute mathematicians of our time, has not satisfied physicists or
geologists, or scarcely indeed any one besides its author.  But, whatever
may be the cause of the internal heat of our planet, and of its limited or
unlimited increase in deep strata, it leads us, in this general sketch of
nature, through the intimate connection of all primitive phenomena of
matter, and through the common bond by which molecular forces are united,
into the mysterious domain of magnetism.  Changes of temperature call forth
magnetic and electric currents.  Terrestrial magnetism, whose main
character, expressed in the three-fold manifestation of its forces, is
incessant periodic variability, is ascribed either to the heated mass of the
Earth itself,* or to those galvanic currents which we consider as
electricity in motion, that is, electricity moving in a closed circuit.**

[footnote]  *William Gilbert, of Colchester, whom Galileo pronounced "great
to a degree that might be envied," said "magnus magnes ipse est globus
terrestris."  He ridicules the magnetic mountains of Frascatori, the great
contemporary of Columbus, as being magnetic poles:  "rejicienda est vulgaris
opinio de montibus magneticis, aut rupe aliqua magnetica, aut polo
phantastico a polo mundi distante."  He assumes the declination of the
magnetic needle at any give point on the surface of the Earth to be
invariable (variatio uniuscujusque loci constans est), and refers the
curvatures of the isogonic lines to the configuration of continents and the
relative positions of sea basins, which possess a weaker magnetic force than
the solid masses rising above the ocean.  (Gilbert, 'de Magnete', ed. 1633,
p. 42, 98, 152 and 155.)

[footnote]  ** Gauss, 'Allgemcine Theorie des Erdmagnetismus', in the
'Resultate aux den Beob. des Magnet. Vereins', 1838, s. 41, p. 56.

The mysterious course of the magnetic needle is equally affected by time and
space, by the sun's course, and by changes of place on the Earth's surface.
Between the tropics, the hour of the day may be known by the direction of
the needle as well as by the oscillations of the barometer.  It is affected
instantly, but only transiently, by the distant northern light as it shoots
from the pole, flashing in beams of colored light across the heavens.  When
the uniform horary motion of the needle is disturbed by a magnetic storm,
the perturbation manifests itself 'simultaneously', in the strictest sense
of the word, over hundreds and thousands of miles of sea and land, or
propagates itself by degrees, in short intervals of time, in
p 178
every direction over the Earth's surface.*

[footnote]  *There are also perturbations which are of a local character,
and do not extend themselves far, and are probably less deep-seated.  Some
years ago I described a rare instance of this kind, in which an
extraordinary disturbance was felt in the mines at Freiberg, but was not
perceptible at Berlin.  ('Lettre de M. de Humboldt a Son Altesse Royale le
Duc de Sussex sur les moyens propres a perfectionner la Connaissance du
Magnetisme Terrestre', in Becquerel's 'Traite Experimental de l'Electricite'
t. vii., p. 442.)  Magnetic storms which were simultaneously felt from
Sicily to Upsala, did not extend from Upsala to Alten.  (Gauss and Weber,
'Resultate des Magnet. Vereins', 1839, 128; Lloyd, in the 'Comptes Rendus de
l'Acad. des Sciences', t. xii., 1843, Sem. ii., p. 725 and 827.)  Among the
numerous examples that have been recently observed, of perturbations
occurring simultaneously and extending over wide portions of the Earth's
surface, and which are collected in Sabine's important work ('Observ. on
Days of unusual Magnetic Disturbance', 1843), one of the most remarkable is
that of the 25th of September, 1841, which was observed at Toronto in
Canada, at the Cape of Good Hope, at Prague, and partially in Van Diemen's
Land.  The English Sunday, on which it is deemed sinful, after midnight on
Saturday, to register an observation, and to follow out the great phenomena
of creation in their perfect development, interrupted the observations in
Van Diemen's Land, where in consequence of the difference of the longitude,
the magnetic storm fell on the Sunday.  ('Observ.', p. xiv., 78, 85, and 87.)

In the former case, the simultaneous manifestation of the storm may serve,
within certain limitations, like Jupiter's satellites, fire-signals, and
well-observed falls of shooting stars, for the geographical determination of
degrees of longitude.  We here recognize with astonishment that the
perturbations of two small magnetic needles, even if suspended at great
depths below the surface, can measure the distances apart at which they are
placed, teaching us, for instance, how far Kasan is situated east of
Gottingen or of the banks of the Seine.  There are also districts in the
earth where the mariner, who has been enveloped for many days in mist,
without seeing either the sun or stars, and deprived of all means of
determining the time, may know with certainty, from the variations in the
inclination of the magnetic needle, whether he is at the north or the south
of the port he is desirous of entering.*

[footnote]  *I have described, in Lametherie's 'Journal de Physique', 1804,
t. lix., p. 449, the application (alluded to in the text) of the magnetic
inclination to the determination of latitude along a coast running north and
south, and which, like that of Chili and Peru, is for a part of the year
enveloped in mist ('garua').  In the locality I have just mentioned, this
application is of the greater importance, because, in consequence of the
strong current running northward as far as to Cape Parena, navigators incur
a great loss of time if they approach the coast to the north of the haven
they are seeking.  In the South Sea, from Callao de Lima harbor to Truxillo,
which differ from each other in latitude by 3 degrees 57' I have observed a
variation of the magnetic inclination amounting to 9 degrees (centesimal
division); and from Callao to Guayaquil, which differ in latitude by 9
degrees 50', a variation of 23.5 degrees.  (See my 'Relat. Hist.', t. iii.,
p. 622.)  At Guarmey (10 degrees 4' south lat.), Huaura (11 degrees 3' south
lat.), and Chancay (11 degrees 4' south lat.), Huaura (11 degrees 3' south
lat.), and Chancay (11 degrees 32' south lat.), the inclinations are 6.80
degrees, 9 degrees, and 10.35 degrees of the centesimal division.  The
determination of position by means of the magnetic inclination has this
remarkable feature connected with it, that where the ship's course cuts the
isoclinalline almost perpendicularly, it is the only one that is independent
of all determination of time, and consequently, of observations of the sun
or stars.  It is only lately that I discovered, for the first time, that as
early as at the close of the sixteenth century, and consequently hardly
twenty years after Robert Norman had invented the inclinatorium, William
Gilbert, in his great work, 'De Magnete', proposed to determine the latitude
by the inclination of the magnetic needle.  Gilbert ('Physiologia Nova de
Magnete', lib. v., cap. 8, p. 200) commends the method as applicable "a‘re
caliginoso."  Edward Wright, in the introduction which he added to his
master's great work, describes this proposal as "worth much gold."  As he
fell into the same error with Gilbert, of presuming that the isoclinal lines
coincided with the geographical parallel circles, and that the magnetic and
geographical equators were identical, he did not perceive that the proposed
method had only a local and very limited application.

p 179
When the needle, by its sudden disturbance in its horary course, indicates
the presence of a magnetic storm, we are still unfortunately ignorant
whether the seat of the disturbing cause is to be sought in the Earth itself
or in the upper regions of the atmosphere.  If we regard the Earth as a true
magnet, we are obliged, according to the views entertained by Friedrich
Gauss (the acute propounder of a generaltheory of terrestrial magnetism), to
ascribe to every portion of the globe measuring one eighth of a cubic meter
(or 3 7/10ths of a French cubic foot) in volume, an average amount of
magnetism equal to that contained in a magnetic rod of 1 lb. weight.*

[footnote[  *Gauss and Weber, 'Resultate des Magnet. Vereins', 1838, 31, s.

If iron and nickel, and probably, also, cobalt (but not chrome, as has long
been believed),* are the only substances which become permanently magnetic,
and retain polarity from a certain coerceive force, the phenomena of Arago's
magnetism of rotation and of Faraday's induced currents show, on the other
hand, that all telluric substances may possibly be made transitorily

According to Faraday ('London and Edinburgh Philosophical Magazine', 1836,
vol. viii., p. 178), pure cobalt is totally devoid of magnetic power.  I
know, however, that other celebrated chemists (Heinrich Rose and Wohler) do
not admit this as absolutely certain.  If out of two carefully-purified
masses of cobalt totally free from nickel, one appears altogether
non-magnetic (in a state of equilibrium), I think it probable that the other
owes its magnetic property to a want of purity; and this opinion coincides
with Faraday's view.

According to the experiments of the
p 180
first-mentioned of these great physicists, water, ice, glass, and carbon
affect the vibrations of the needle entirely in the same manner as mercury
in the rotation experiments.*

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annales de Chimie', t. xxxii., p. 214; Brewster,
'Treaties on Magnetism', 1837, p. 111; Baumgartner, in the 'Zeitschrift fur
Phys. und Mathem.', bd. ii., s. 419.

Almost all substances show themselves to be, in a certain degree, magnetic
when they are conductors, that is to say, when a current of electricity is
passing through them.

Although the knowledge of the attracting power of native iron magnets or
loadstones appears to be of very ancient date among the nations of the West,
there is strong historical evidence in proof of the striking fact that the
knowledge of the directive power of a magnetic needle and of its relation to
terrestrial magnetism was peculiar to the Chinese, a people living in the
extremest eastern portions of Asia.  More than a thousand years before our
era, in the obscure age of Codrus, and about the time of the return of the
Heraclidae to the Peloponnesus, the Chinese had already magnetic carriages,
on which the movable arm of the figure of a man continually pointed to the
south, as a guide by which to find the way across the boundless grass plains
of Tartary; nay, even in the third century of our era, therefore at least
700 years before the use of the mariner's compass in European seas, Chinese
vessels navigated the Indian Ocean* under the direction of magnetic needles
pointing to the south.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Examen Critique de l'Hist. de la Geographie', t.
iii., p. 36.

I have shown, in another work, what advantages this means of topographical
direction, and the early knowledge and application of the magnetic needle
gave the Chinese geographers over the Greeks and Romans, to whom, for
instance, even the true direction of the Apennines and Pyrenees always
remained unknown.*

[footnote] *'Asie Centrale', t. i., Introduction, p. xxxviii-xlii.  The
Western nations, the Greeks and the Romans, knew that magnetism could be
communicated to iron, 'and that that metal would retain it for a length of
time'.  ("Sola haec materia ferri vires, a maguete lapide accipit,
'retinetque longo tempore."  Plin., xxxiv., 14.)  The great discovery of the
terrestrial directive force depended, therefore, alone on this, that no one
in the West had happened to observe an elongated fragment of magnetic iron
stone, or a magnetic iron rod, floating, by the aid of a piece of wood, in
water, or suspended in the air by a thread, in such a position as to admit
of free motion.

The magnetic power of our globe is manifested on the terrestrial surface in
three classes of phenomena, one of which exhibits itself in the varying
intensity of the force, and the two others in the varying direction of the
inclination, and in
p 181
the horizontal deviation from the terrestrial meridian of the spot.  Their
combined action may therefore be graphically represented by three systems of
lines, the 'isodynamic, isoclinic', and 'isogonic' (or those of equal force,
equal inclination, and equal declination).  The distances apart, and the
relative positions of these moving, oscillating, and advancing curves, do
not always remain the same.  The total deviation (variation or declination
of the magnetic needle) has not at all changed, or, at any rate, not in any
appreciable degree, during a whole century, at any particular point on the
Earth's surface,* as, for instance, the western part of the Antilles, or

[footnote]  *A very slow secular progression, or a local invariability of
the magnetic declination, prevents the confusion which might arise from
terrestrial influences in the boundaries of land, when, with an utter
disregard for the correction of declination, estates are, after long
intervals, measured by the mere application of the compass.  "The whole mass
of the bottomless pit of endless litigation by the invariability of the
magnetic declination in Jamica and the surrounding Archipelago during the
whole of the last century, all surveys of property there having been
conducted solely by the compass."  See Robertson in the 'Philosophical
Transactions' for 1806, Part ii., p. 348, 'On the Permanency of the Compass
in Jamaica since 1660'.  In the mother country (England) the magnetic
declination has varied by fully 14 degrees during the period.

In like manner, we observe that the isogonic curves, when they pass in their
secular motion from the surface of the sea to a continent or an island of
considerable extent, continue for a long time in the same position, and
become inflected as they advance.

These gradual changes in the forms assumed by the lines in their translatory
motions, and which so unequally modify the amount of eastern and western
declination, in the course of time render it difficult to trace the
transitions and analogies of forms in the graphic representations belonging
to different centuries.

Each branch of a curve has its history, but this history does not reach
further back among the nations of the West than the memorable epoch of the
13th of September, 1492, when the re-discoverer of the New World found a
line of no variation 3 degrees west of the meridian of the island of Flores,
one of the Azores.*

[footnote]  *I have elsewhere shown that, from the documents which have come
down to us regarding the voyages of Columbus, we can, with much certainty,
fix upon three places 'in the Atlantic line of no declination' for the 13th
of September, 1492, the 21st of May, 1496, and the 16th of August, 1498.
The Atlantic line of no declination at that period ran from northeast to
southwest. It then touched the South American continent a little east of
Cape Codera, while it is not observed to reach that continent on the
northern coast of the Brazils.  (Humboldt, 'Examen Critique de l'Hist. de la
Geogr.', t. iii., p. 44-48.)  From Gilbert's 'Physiologia Nova de Magnete',
we see plainly (and the fact is very remarkable) that in 1600 the
declination was still null in the region of the Azores, just as it had been
in the time of Columbus (lib. 4, cap. 1).  I believe that in my 'Examen
Critique' (t. iii., p. 54) I have proved from documents that the celebrated
line of demarkation by which Pope Alexander VI. divided the Western
hemisphere between Portugal and Spain was not drawn through the most western
point of the Azores, because Columbus wished to convert a physical into a
political division.  He attached great importance to the zone (raya) "in
which the compass shows no variation, where air and ocean, the later covered
with pastures of sea-weed, exhibit a peculiar constitution, where cooling
winds begin to blow, and where [as erroneous observations of the polar star
led him to imagine] the form (sphericity) of the Earth is no longer the

The whole of Europe, excepting a small
p 182
part of Russia, has now a western declination, while at the close of the
seventeenth century the needle first pointed due north, in London in 1657,
and in Paris in 1669, there being thus a difference of twelve years,
notwithstanding the small distance between these two places.  In Eastern
Russia, to the east of the mouth of the Volga, of Saratow, Nischni-Nowgorod,
and Archangel, the easterly declination of Asia is advancing toward us.  Two
admirable observers, Hansteen and Adolphus Erman, have made us acquainted
with the remarkable double curvature of the lines of declination in the vast
region of Northern Asia; these being concave toward the pole between
Obdorsk, on the Oby, and Turuchansk, and convex between the Lake of Baikal
and the Gulf of Ochotsk.  In this portion of the earth, in northern Asia,
between the mountains of Werchojansk, Jakutsk, and the northern Korea, the
isogonic lines form a remarkable closed system.  This oval configuration*
recurs regularly and over a great extent of the South Sea, almost as far as
the meridian of Pitcairn and the group of the Marquesas Islands, between 20
degrees north and 45 degrees
p 183
south lat.

[footnote]  *To determine whether the two oval systems of isogonic lines, so
singularly included each within itself, will continue to advance for
centuries in the same inclosed form, or will unfold and expand themselves,
is a question of the highest interest in the problem of the physical causes
of terrestrial magnetism.  In the Eastern Asiatic nodes the declination
increases from without inward, while in the node or oval system of the South
Sea the opposite holds good; in fact, at the present time, in the whole
South Sea to the east of the meridian of Kamt-schatka, there is no line
where the declination is null, or, indeed, in which it is less than 2
degrees (Erman, in Pogg., 'Annal.', bd. xxxi, 129).  Yet Cornelius Schouten,
on Easter Sunday, 1616, appears to have found the declination null somewhere
to the southeast of Nukahiva, in 15 degrees south lat. and 132 degrees west
long., and consequently in the middle of the present closed isogonal system.
 (Hansteen, 'Magnet. der Erde', 1819 ¤ 28.)  It must not be forgotten, in
the midst of all these considerations, that we can only follow the direction
of the magnetic lines in their progress as they are projected upon the
surface of the Earth.

One would almost be inclined to regard this singular configuration of
closed, almost concentric, lines of declination as the effect of a local
character of that portion of the globe; but if, in the course of centuries,
these apparently isolated systems should also advance, we must suppose, as
in the case of all great natural forces, that the phenomenon arises from
some general cause.

The horary variations of the declination, which, although dependent upon
true time, are apparently governed by the Sun, as long as it remains above
the horizon, diminish in angular value with the magnetic latitude of place.
Near the equator, for instance, in the island of Rawak, they scarcely amount
to three or four minutes, while they are from thirteen to fourteen minutes
in the middle of Europe.  As in the whole northern hemisphere the north
point of the needle moves from east to west on an average from 8 1/2 in the
morning until 1 1/2 at mid-day, while in the southern hemisphere the same
north point moves from west to east,* attention has recently been drawn,
with much justice, to the fact that there must be a region of the Earth
between the terrestrial and the magnetic equator where no horary deviations
in the declination are to be observed.

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire', 1836, p. 284, and 1840, p. 330-338.

This fourth curve, which might be called the 'curve of no motion', or,
rather, 'the line of no variation of horary declination', has not yet been

The term 'magnetic poles' has been applied to those points of the Earth's
surface where the horizontal power disappears, and more importance has been
attached to these points than properly appertains to them;* and in like
manner, the curve, where the inclination of the needle is null, has been
termed the 'magnetic equator'.

[footnote]  *Gauss, 'Allg. Theorie des Erdmagnet.', 31.

The position of this line and its secular change of configuration have been
made an object of careful investigation in modern times.  According to the
admirable work of Duperrey,* who crossed the magnetic equator six times
between 1822 and 1825, the nodes of the two equators, that is to say, the
two points at which the line without inclination intersects the terrestrial
equator, and consequently passes from one henisphere into the other, are so
unequally placed, that in 1825 the node near the island of St. Thomas, on
the western
p 184
coast of Africa, was 188 1/2 degrees distant from the node in the South Sea,
close to the little islands of Gilbert, nearly in the meridian of the Viti

[footnote]  *Duperrey, 'De la Configuration de l'Equateur Magnetique', in
the 'Annales de Chimie', t. xlv., p. 371 and 379.  (See also, Morlet, in the
'Memoires presentes par divers Savans a l'Acad. Roy. des Sciences', t. iii.,
p. 132.

In the beginning of the present century, at an elevation of 11,936 feet
above the level of the sea, I made an astronomical determination of the
point (7 degrees 1' south lat., 48 degrees 40' west long. from Paris),
where, in the interior of the New Continent, the chain of the Andes is
intersected by the magnetic equator between Quito and Lima.  To the west of
this point, the magnetic equator continues to traverse the South Sea in the
southern hemisphere, at the same time slowly drawing near the terrestrial
equator.  It first passes into the northern hemisphere a little before it
approaches the Indian Archipelago, just touches the southern points of Asia,
and enters the African continent to the west of Socotora, almost in the
Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, where it is most distant from the terrestrial
equator.  After intersecting the unknown regions of the interior of Africa
in a southwest direction, the magnetic equator re-enters the south tropical
zone in the Gulf of Guinea, and retreats so far from the terrestrial equator
that it touches the Brazilian coast near Os Ilheos, north of Porto Seguro,
in 15 degrees south lat.  From thence to the elevated plateaux of the
Cordilleras, between the silver mines of micuipampa and Caxamarca, the
ancient seat of the Incas, where I observed the inclination, the line
traverses the whole of South America, which in these latitudes is as much a
magnetic 'terra incognita' as the interior of Africa.

The recent observations of Sabine* have shown that the node near the island
of St. Thomas has moved 4 degrees from east to west between 1825 and 1837.

[footnote]  *See the remarkable chart of isoclinic lines in the Atlantic
Ocean for the years 1825 and 1837, in Sabine's 'Contributions to Terrestrial
Magnetism', 1840, p. 134.

It would be extremely important to know whether the opposite pole, near the
Gilbert Islands, in the South Sea, has aproached the meridian of the
Carolinas in a westerly direction.  These general remarks will be sufficient
to connect the different systems of isoclinic non-parallel lines with the
great phenomenon of equilibrium which is manifested in the magnetic equator.
 It is no small advantage, in the exposition of the laws of terrestrial
magnetism, that the magnetic equator (whose oscillatory change of form and
whose nodal motion exercise an influence on the inclination of the needle in
the remotest districts of the world, in consequence of the altered magnetic
latitudes)* should traverse the
p 185
ocean throughout its whole course, excepting about one fifth, and
consequently be made so much more accessible, owing to the remarkable
relations in space between the sea and land, and to the means of which we
are now possessed for determining with much exactness both the declination
and the inclination at sea.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Ueber die seculŠre VerŠnderung der Magnetischen
Inclination' (On the secular Change in the Magnetic Inclination), in Pogg.
'Annal.', bd. sv., s. 322.

We have described the distribution of magnetism on the surface of our planet
according to the two forms of 'declination' and 'inclination'; it now,
therefore, remains for us to speak of the 'intensity of the force' which is
graphically expressed by isodynamic curves (or lines of equal intensity).
The investigation and measurement of this force by the oscillations of a
vertical or horizontal needle have only excited a general and lively
interest in its telluric relations since the beginning of the nineteenth
century.  The application of delicate optical and chronometrical instruments
has rendered the measurement of this horizontal power susceptible of a
degree of accuracy far surpassing that attained in any other magnetic
determinations.  The isogonic lines are the more important in their
immediate application to navigation, while we find from the most recent
views that isodynamic lines, especially those which indicate the horizontal
force, are the most valuable elements in the theory of terrestrial

[footnote]  *Gauss, 'Resultate der Beob. des Magn. Vereins', 1838, 21;
Sabine, 'Report on the Variations of the Magnetic Intensity', p. 63.

One of the earliest facts yielded by observation is, that the intensity of
the total force increases from the equator toward the pole.*

[footnote]  *The following is the history of the discovery of the law that
the intensity of the force increases (in general) with the magnetic
latitude.  When I was anxious to attach myself, in 1798, to the expedition
of Captain Bandin, who intended to circumnavigate the globe, I was requested
by Borda, who took a warm interest in the success of my project, to examine
the oscillations of a vertical needle in the magnetic meridian in different
latitudes in each hemisphere, in order to determine whether the intensity of
the force was the same, or whether it varied in different places.  During my
travels in the tropical regions of America, I paid much attention to this
subject.  I observed that the same needle, which in the space of ten minutes
made 245 oscillations in Paris, 246 in the Havana, and 242 in Mexico,
performed only 216 oscillations during the same period at St. Carlos del Rio
Negro (1 degree 53' north lat. and 80 degrees 40' west long. from Paris), on
the magnetic equator, i.e., the line in which the inclination =0; in Peru (7
degrees 1' south lat. and 80 degrees 40' west long. from Paris) only
211;while at Lima (12 degrees 2' south lat.) the number rose to 219.  I
found, in the years intervening between 1799 and 1803, that the whole force,
if we assume it at 1.0000 on the magnetic equator in the Peruvian Andes,
between Micuipampa and Caxamarca, may be expressed at Paris by 1.3482, in
Mexico by 1.3155, in San Carlos del Rio Negro by 1.0480, and in Lima by
1.0773.  When I developed this law of the variable intensity of terrestrial
magnetic force, and supported it by the numerical value of observations
instituted in 104 different places, in a Memoir read before the Paris
Institute on the 26th Frimaire, An. XIII. (of which the mathematical portion
was contributed by M. Biot), the facts were regarded as altogether new.  It
was only after the reading of the paper, as Biot expressly states
(Lametherie, 'Journal de Physique', t. lix., p. 446, note 2) and as I have
repeated in 'the Relation Historique', t. i., p. 262, note 1, that M. de
Rossel communicated to Biot his oscillation experiments made six years
earlier (between 1791 and 1794) in Van Diemen's Land, in Java, and in
Amboyna.  These experiments gave evidence of the same law of decreasing
force in the Indian Archipelago.  It must, I think be supposed, that this
excellent man, when he wrote his work, was not aware of the regularity of
the augmentation and diminution of the intensity as before the reading of my
paper he never mentioned this (certainly not unimportant) physical law to
any of our mutual friends, La Place, Delambre, Prony, or Biot.  It was not
till 1808, four years after my return from America that the observations
made by M. de Rossel were published in the 'Voyage de l'Entrecasteaux', t.
ii., p. 287 , 291, 321, 480, and 644.  Up to the present day it is still
usual, in all the tables of magnetic intensity which have been published in
Germany (Hausteen, 'Magnet. der Erde', 1819, s. 71; Gauss, 'Beob. des
Magnet. Vereins', 1838, s. 36-39; Erman, 'Physikal. Beob.', 1841, s.
529-579), in England (Sabine, 'Report on Magnet. Intensity', 1838, p. 43-62;
'Contributions to Terrestrial Magnetism', 1843), and in France (Becquerel,
'Traite de Electr. et de Magnet.', t. vii., p. 354-367), to reduce the
oscillations observed in any part of the Earth to the standard of force
which I found on the magnetic equator in Northern Peru, so that, according
to the unit thus arbitrarily assumed, the intensity of the magnetic force at
Paris is put down as 1.348.  The observations made by Lamanon in the
unfortunate expedition of La Perouse, during the stay at Teneriffe (1785),
and on the voyage to Macao (1787), are still older than those of Admiral
Rossel.  They were sent to the Academy of Sciences, and it is known that
they were in the possession of Condorcet in the July of 1787 (Becquerel, t.
vii., p. 320); but, notwithstanding the most careful search, they are not
now to be found.  From a copy of a very important letter of Lamanon, now in
the possession of Captain Duperrey, which was addressed to the then
perpetual secretary of the Academy of Sciences, but was omitted in the
narrative of the 'Voyage de La Perouse', it is stated "that the attractive
force of the magnet is less in the tropics than when we approach the poles,
and that the magnetic intensity deduced from the number of oscillations of
the needle of the inclination-compass varies and increases with the
latitude."  If the Academicians, while they continued to expect the return
of the unfortunate La Perouse, had felt themselves justified, in the course
of 1787, in publishing a truth which had been independently discovered by no
less than three different travelers, the theory of terrestrial magnetism
would have been extended by the knowledge of a new class of observations,
dating eighteen years earlier than they now do.  This simple statement of
facts may probably justify the observations contained in the third volume of
my 'Relation Historique' p. 615):  "The observations on the variation of
terrestrial magnetism, to which I have devoted myself for thirty-two years,
by means of instruments which admit of comparison with one another, in
America, Europe, and Asia, embrace an area extending over 188 degrees of
longitude, from the frontier of Chinese Dzoungarie to the west of the South
Sea bathing the coasts of Mexico and Peru, and reaching from 60 degrees
north lat. to 12 degrees south lat.  I regard the discovery of the law of
the decrement of magnetic force from the pole to the equator as the most
important result of my American voyage."  Although not absolutely certain,
it is very probable that Condorcet read Lamanon's letter of July, 1787, at a
meeting of the Paris Academy of Sciences; and such a simple reading I regard
as a sufficient act of publication.  ('Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes',
1842, p. 463.)  The first recognition of the law belongs, therefore, beyond
all question, to the comparison of La Perouse; but, long disregarded or
forgotten, the knowledge of the law that the intensity of the magnetic force
of the Earth varied with the latitude, did not, I conceive, acquire an
existence in science until the publication of my observations from 1798 to
1804.  The object and the length of this note will not be indifferent to
those who are familiar with the connection with it, and who, from their own
experience, are aware that we are apt to attach some value to that which has
cost us the uninterrupted labor of five years, under the pressure of a
tropical climate, and of perilous mountain expeditions.

p 186
The knowledge which we possess of the quantity of this increase, and of all
the numerical relations of the law of intensity
p 187
affecting the whole Earth, is especially due, since 1819, to the unwearied
activity of Edward Sabine, who, after having observed the oscillations of
the same needles at the American north pole, in Greenland, at Spitzbergen,
and on the coasts of Guinea and Brazil, has continued to collect and arrange
all the facts capable of explaining the direction of the isodynamic system
in zones for a small part of South America.  These lines are not parallel to
lines of equal inclination (isoclinic line), and the intensity of the force
is not at its minimum at the magnetic equator, as has been supposed, nor is
it even equal at all parts of it.  If we compare Erman's observations in the
southern part of the Atlantic Ocean, where a faint zone (0.706) extends from
Angola over the island of St. Helena to the Brazilian coast, with the most
recent investigations of the celebrated navigator James Clark Ross, we shall
find that on the surface of our planet the force increases almost in the
relation of 1:3 toward the magnetic south pole, where Victoria Land extends
from Cape Crozier toward the volcano Erebus, which has been raised to an
elevation of 12,600 feet above the ice.*

[footnote]  *From the observations hitherto collected, it appears that the
maximum of intensity for the whole surface of the Earth is 2.052, and the
minimum 0.706.  Both phenomena occur in the southern hemisphere; the former
in 73 degrees 47' S. lat., and 169 degrees 30'E. long. from Paris, near
Mount Crozier, west-northwest of the south magnetic pole, at a place where
Captain James Ross found the inclination of the needle to be 87 degrees 11'
(Sabine, 'Contributions to Terrestrial Magnetism', 1843, No. 5, p. 231); the
latter, observed by Erman at 19 degrees 59' S. lat., and 37 degrees 24' W.
long. from Paris, 320 miles eastward from the Brazilian coast of Espiritu
Santo (Erman, 'Phys. Beob.', 1841, s. 570), at a point where the inclination
is only 7 degrees 55'.  The actual ratio of the two intensities is therefore
as 1 to 2.906.  It was long believed that the greatest intensity of the
magnetic force was only two and a half times as great as the weakest
exhibited on the Earth's surface.  (Sabine, 'Report on Magnetic Intensity',
p. 82.)

If the intensity near the magnetic south pole
p 188
be expressed by 2.052 (the unit still employed being the intensity which I
discovered on the magnetic equator in Northern Peru), Sabine found it was
only 1.624 at the magnetic north pole near Melville Island (70 degrees 27'
north lat.), while it is 1.803 at New York, in the United States, which has
almost the same latitude as Naples.

The brilliant discoveries of Oersted, Arago, and Faraday have established a
more intimate connection between the electric tension of the atmosphere and
the magnetic tension of our terrestrial globe.  While Oestred has discovered
that electricity excites magnetism in the neighborhood  of the conducting
body, Faraday's experiments have elicited electric currents from the
liberated magnetism.  Magnetism is one of the manifold forms under which
electricity reveals itself.  The ancient vague presentiment of the identity
of electric and magnetic attraction has been verified in our own times.
"When electrum (amber)," says Pliny, in the spirit of the Ionic natural
philosophy of Thales,* is 'animated' by friction and heat, it will attract
bark and dry leaves precisely as the loadstone attracts iron."

[footnote]  *Of amber (succinum, glessum) Pliny observes (xxxvii., 3),
"Genera ejus plura.  Attritu digitorum accepta caloris anima trahunt in se
paleas ac folia arida quae levia sunt, ac ut magnes lapis ferri ramenta
quoque."  (Plato, 'in Timaeo', p. 80.  Martin, 'Etude sur le Timee', t. ii.,
p. 343-346.  Strabo, xv., p. 703, Casaub,; Clemens Alex., 'Strom.', ii., p.
370, where, singularly enough, a difference is made between [Greek words])
When Thales, in Aristot., 'de Anima', 1, 2, and Hippias, in Diog. Laert.,
i., 24, describe the magnet and amber as possessing a soul, they refer only
to a moving principle.

The same words may be found in the literature of an Asiatic nation, and
occur in a eulogium on the loadstone by the Chinese physicist Kuopho.*

[footnote]  *"The magnet attracts iron as amber does the smallest grain of
mustard seed.  It is like a breath of wind which mysteriously penetrates
through both, and communicates itself with the rapidity of an arrow."  These
are the words of Kuopho, a Chinese panegyrist on the magnet, who wrote in
the beginning of the fourth century. (Klaproth, 'Lettre a M. A. de Humboldt,
sur l'Invention de la Boussole', 1834, p. 125.)

I observed with astonishment,
p 189
on the woody banks of the Orinoco, in the sports of the natives, that the
excitement of electricity by friction was known to these savage races, who
occupy the very lowest place in the scale of humanity.  Children may be seen
to rub the dry, flat, and shining seeds or husks of a trailing plant
(probably a 'Negretia') until they are able to attract threads of cotton and
pieces of bamboo cane.  That which thus delights the naked copper-colored
Indian is calculated to awaken in our minds a deep and earnest impression.
What a chasm divides the electric pastime of these savages from the
discovery of a metallic conductor discharging its electric shocks, or a pile
composed of many chemically-decomposing substances, or a light-engendering
magnetic apparatus!  In such a chasm lie buried thousands of years that
compost the history of the intellectual development of mankind!

The incessant change or oscillatory motion which we discover in all magnetic
phenomena, whether in those of the inclincation, declination, and intensity
of these forces, according to the hours of the day and the night, and the
seasons and the course of the whole year, leads us to conjecture the
existence of very various and partial systems of electric currents on the
surface of the Earth.  Are these currents, as in Seebeck's experiments,
thermo-magnetic, and excited directly from unequal distribution of heat?  or
should we not rather regard them as induced by the position of the Sun and
by solar heat?*

[footnote]  *"The phenomena of periodical variations depend manifestly on
the action of solar heat, operating probably through the medium of
thermo-electric currents induced on the Earth's surface.  Beyond this rude
guess, however, nothing is as yet known of their physical cause.  It is even
still a matter of speculation whether the solar influence be a principal or
only a subordinate cause in the phenomena of terrestrial magnetism."
('Observations to be made in the Antarctic Expedition', 1840, p. 35.)

Have the rotation of the planets, and the different degrees of velocity
which the individual zones acquire, according to their respective distances
from the equator, any influence on the distribution of magnetism?  Must we
seek the seat of these currents, that is to say, of the disturbed
electricity, in the atmosphere, in the regions of planetary space, or in the
polarity of the Sun and Moon?  Galileo, in his celebrated 'Dialogo', was
inclined to ascribe the parallel direction of the axis of the Earth to a
magnetic point of attraction seated in universal space.

If we represent to ourselves the interior of the Earth as fused and
undergoing an enormous pressure, and at a degree of temperature the amount
of which we are unable to assign,
p 190
we must renounce all idea of a magnetic nucleus of the Earth.  All magnetism
is certainly not lost until we arrive at a white heat,* and it is manifested
when iron is at a dark red heat, however different, therefore, the
modifications may be which are excited in substances in their molecular
state, and in the coercive force depending upon that condition in
experiments of this nature, there will still remain a considerable thickness
of the terrestrial stratum, which might be assumed to be the seat of
magnetic currents.

[footnote]  *Barlow, in the 'Philos. Trans.' for 1822, Pt. i., p. 117; Sir
David Brewster, 'Treatise on Magnetism', p. 129.  Long before the times of
Gilbert and Hooke, it was taught in the Chinese work 'Ow-thea-tsou' that
heat diminished the directive force of the magnetic needle.  (Klaproth,
'Lettre a M. A. de Humboldt, sur l'Invention de la Boussole', p. 96.)

The old explanation of the horary variations of declination by the
progressive warming of the Earth in the apparent revolution of the Sun from
east to west must be limited to the uppermost surface, since thermometers
sunk into the Earth, which are now being accurately observed at so many
different places, show how slowly the solar heat penetrates even to the
inconsiderable depth of a few feet.  Moreover, the thermic condition of the
surface of water, by which two thirds of our planet is covered, is not
favorable to such modes of explanation, when we have reference to an
immediate action and not to an effect of induction in the a‘rial and
aqueous investment of our terrestrial globe.

In the present condition of our knowledge, it is impossible to afford a
satisfactory reply to all questions regarding the ultimate physical causes
of these phenomena.  It is only with reference to that which presents itself
in the triple manifestations of the terrestrial force, as a measurable
relation of space and time, and as a stable element in the midst of change,
that science has recently made such brilliant advances by the aid of the
determination of mean numerical values.  From Toronto in Upper Canada to the
Cape of Good Hope and Van Diemen's Land, from Paris to Pekin, the Earth has
been covered, since 1828, with magnetic observatories,* in which every
p 191
or irregular manifestation of the terrestrial force is detected by
uninterrupted and simultaneous observations.  A variation
p 192
of 1/40000th of the magnetic intensity is measured, and at certain epochs,
observations are made at intervals of 2 1/2 minutes, and continued for
twenty-four hours consecutively.

[footnote]  *As the first demand for the establishment of these
observatories (a net-work of stations, provided with similar instruments)
proceeded from me, I did not dare to cherish the hope that I should live
long enough to see the time when both hemispheres should be uniformly
covered with magnetic houses under the associated activity of able
physicists and astronomers.  This has, however, been accomplished, and
chiefly through the liberal and continued support of the Russian and British

[footnote continues]  In the years 1806 and 1807, I and my friend and
fellow-laborer, Herr Oltmanns, while at Berlin, observed the movements of
the needle, especially at the times of the solstices and equinoxes, from
hour to hour, and often from half hour to half hour, for five or six days
and nights uninterruptedly.  I had persuaded myself that continuous and
uninterrupted observations of several days and nights (observatio perpetua)
were preferable to the single observations of many months.  The apparatus, a
Prony's magnetic telescope, suspended in a glass case by a thread devoid of
torsion, allowed angles of seven or eight seconds to be read off on a
finely-divided scale, placed at a proper distance, and lighted at night by
lamps.  Magnetic perturbations (storms), which occasionally recurred at the
same hour on several successive nights, led me even then to desire extremely
that similar apparatus should be used to the east and west of Berlin, in
order to distinguish general terrestrial phenomena from those which are mere
local disturbances, depending on the inequality of heat in different parts
of the Earth, or on the cloudiness of the atmosphere.  My departure to
Paris, and the long period of political disturbance that involved the whole
of the west of Europe, prevented my wish from being then accomplished.
(OErsted's great discovery (1820) of the intimate connection between
electricity and magnetism again excited a general interest (which had long
flagged) in the periodical variations of the electro-magnetic tension of the
Earth.  Arago, who many years previously had commenced in the Observatory at
Paris, with a new and excellent declination instrument by Gambey, the
longest uninterrupted series of horary observations which we possess in
Europe, showed by a comparison with simultaneous observations of
perturbation made at Kasan, what advantages might be obtained from
corresponding measurements of declination.  When I returned to Berlin, after
an eighteen years' residence in France, I had a small magnetic house erected
in the autumn of 1828, not only with the view of carrying on the work
commenced in 1806, but more with the object that simultaneous observations
at hours previously determined might be made at Berlin, Paris, and Freiburg,
at a depth of 35 fathoms below the surface.  The simultaneous occurrence of
the perturbations, and the parallelism of the movements for October and
December, 1829, were then graphically represented.  (Pogg., 'Annalen', bd.
xix., s. 357, taf. i.-iii.)  An expedition into Northern Asia, undertaken in
1829, by command of the Emperor of Russia, soon gave me an opportunity of
working out my plan on a larger scale.  The plan was laid before a select
committee of one of the Imperial Academies of Science, and, under the
protection of the Director of the Mining Department, Count von Cancrin, and
the excellent superintendence of Professor Kupffer, magnetic stations were
appointed over the whole of Northern Asia, from Nicolajeff, in the line
through Catharinenburg, Barnaul, and Nertschinsk, to Pekin.

[footnote continues]  The year 1832 ('Gottinger gelehrte Anzeigen', st. 206)
is distinguished as the great epoch in which the profound author of a
general theory of terrestrial magnetism, Friedrich Gauss, erected apparatus,
constructed on a new principle, in the Gottingen Observatory.  The magnetic
observatory was finished in 1834, and in the same year Gauss distributed new
instruments, with instructions for their use, in which the celebrated
physicist, Wilhelm Weber, took extreme interest, over a large portion of
Germany and Sweden, and the whole of Italy.  ('Resultate der Beob. des
Magnetischen Verceins in Jahr' 1338, s. 135, and Poggend., 'Annalen.' bd.
xxxiii., s. 426.)  In the magnetic association that was now formed with
Gottingen for its center, simultaneous observations have been undertaken
four times a year since 1836, and continued uninterruptedly for twenty-four
hours.  The periods, however, do not coincide with those of the equinoxes
and solstices, which I had proposed and followed out in 1830.  Up to this
period, Great Britain, in possession of the most extensive commerce and the
largest navy in the world, had taken no part in the movement which since
1828 had begun to yield important results for the more fixed ground-work of
terrestrial magnetism.  I had the good fortune, by a public appeal from
Berlin which I sent in April 1836, to the Duke of Sussex, at that time
President of the Royal Society (Lettre de M. de Humboldt a S. A. R. le Duc
de Sussex, sur les moyens propres a  perfectionner la connaissance du
magnetisme terrestre par l'establissement des stations magnetiques et
d'observations correspondantes), to excite a friendly interest in the
undertaking which it had so long been the chief object of my wish to carry
out.  In my letter to the Duke of Sussex I urged the establishment of
permanent stations in Canada, St. Helena, the Cape of Good Hope, the Isle of
France, Ceylon, and New Holland, which five years previously I had advanced
as good positions.  The Royal Society appointed a joint physical and
meteorological committee, which not only proposed to the government the
establishment of fixed magnetic observatories in both hemispheres, but also
the equipment of a naval expedition for magnetic observations in the
Antarctic Seas.  It is needless to proclaim the obligations of science to
the great activity of Sir John Herschel, Sabine, Airy, and Lloyd, as well as
the powerful support that was afforded by the British Association for the
Advancement of Science at their meeting held at Newcastle in 1838.  In June,
1839, the Antarctic magnetic expedition, under the command of Captain James
Clark Ross, was fully arranged; and now, since its successful return, we
reap the double fruits of the highly important geographical discoveries
around the south pole, and a series of simultaneous observations at eight or
ten magnetic stations.

A great English astronomer and physicist has calculated* that the mass of
observations which are in progress will accumulate in the course of three
years to 1,958,000.

[footnote]  *See the article on 'Terrestrial Magnetism', in the 'Quarterly
Review' 1840, vol. lxvi., p. 271-312.

Never before has so noble and cheerful a spirit presided over the inquiry
into the 'quantitative' relations of the laws of the phenomena of nature.
We are, therefore, justified in hoping that these laws, when compared with
those which govern the atmosphere and the remoter regions of space, may, by
degrees, lead us to a more intimate acquaintance with the genetic conditions
of magnetic phenomena.  As yet we can only boast of having opened a greater
number of paths which may possibly lead to an explanation of this subject.
In the physical science of terrestrial
p 193
magnetism, which must not be confounded with the purely mathematical branch
of the study, those persons only will obtain perfect satisfaction who, as in
the science of the meteorological processes of the atmosphere conveniently
turn aside the practical bearing of all phenomena that can not be explained
according to their own views.

Terrestrial magnetism, and the electro-dynamic forces computed by the
intellectual Ampere,* stand in simultaneous and intimate connection with the
terrestrial or polar light, as well as with the internal and external heat
of our planet, whose magnetic poles may be considered as the poles of cold.**

[footnote]  *Instead of ascribing the internal heat of the Earth to the
transition of matter from a vapor-like fluid to a solid condition, which
accompanies the formation of the planets, Ampere has propounded the idea,
which I regard as highly improbable, that the Earth's temperature may be the
consequence of the continuous chemical action of a nucleus of the metals of
the earths and alkalies on the oxydizing external crust.  "It can not be
doubted," he observes in his masterly 'Theorie des Phenomenes
Electro-dynamiques', 1826, p. 199, "that electro-magnetic currents exist in
the interior of the globe, and that these currents are the cause of its
temperature.  They arise from the action of a central metallic nucleus,
composed of the metals discovered by Sir Humphrey Davy, acting on the
surrounding oxydized layer."

[footnote]  **The remarkable connection between the curvature of the
magnetic lines and that of my isothermal lines was first detected by Sir
David Brewster.  See the 'Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh',
vol. ix., 1821, p. 318, and 'Treatise on Magnetism', 1837, p. 42, 44, 47,
and 268.  This distinguished physicist admist two cold poles (poles of
maximum cold) in the northern hemisphere, an American one near Cape Walker
(73 degrees lat., 100 degrees W. long.), and an Asiatic one (73 degrees
lat., 80 degrees E. long.); whence arise, according to him, two hot and two
cold meridians, i.e., meridians of greatest heat and cold.  Even in the
sixteenth century, Acosts ('Historia Natural de las Indias', 1589, lib. i.,
cap. 17), grounding his opinion on the observations of a very experienced
Portuguese pilot, taught that there were four lines without declination.  It
would seem from the controversy of Henry Bond (the author of 'The Longitude
Found', 1676) with Beckborrow, that this view in some measure influenced
Halley in his theory of four magnetic poles.  See my 'Examen Critique de
l'Hist. de la Geographie', t. iii., p. 60.

The bold conjecture hazarded one hundred and twenty-eight years since by
Halley,* that the Aurora Borealis was a magnetic phenomenon, has acquired
empirical certainty from Faraday's brilliant discovery of the evolution of
light by magnetic forces.

[footnote]  *Halley, in the 'Philosophical Transactions', vol. xxix. (for
1714-1716), No. 341.

The northern light is preceded by premonitory signs.  Thus, in the morning
before the occurrence of the phenomenon, the irregular horary course of the
magnetic needle generally indicates a disturbance of the equilibrium in the
distribution of
p 194
terrestrial magnetism.*

[footnote]  *[The Aurora Borealis of October 24th, 1847, which was one of
the most brilliant ever known in this country, was preceded by great
magnetic disturbance.  On the 22d of October the maximum of the west
declination was 23 degrees 10'; on the 23d the position of the magnet was
continually changing, and the extreme west declinations were between 22
degrees 44' and 23 degrees 37';on the night between the 23d and 24th of
October, the changes of position were very large and very frequent, the
magnet at times moving across the field so rapidly that a difficulty was
experienced in following it.  During the day of the 24th of October there
was a constant change of position, but after midnight, when the Aurora began
perceptibly to decline in brightness, the disturbance entirely ceased.  The
changes of position of the horizontal-force magnet were as large and as
frequent as those of the declination magnet, but the vertical-force magnet
was at no time so much affected as the other two instruments.  See 'On the
Aurora Borealis, as it was seen on Sunday evening, October 24th, 1847, at
Blackheath,' by James Glaisher, Esq., of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich,
in the 'London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philos. Mag and Journal of Science for
Nov.', 1847, by John H. Morgan, Esq.  We must not omit to mention that
magnetic disturbance is now registered by a 'photographic' process:  the
self-registering photographic apparatus used for this purpose in the
Observatory at Greenwich was designed by Mr. Brooke, and another ingenious
instrument of this kind has been invented by Mr. F. Ronalds, of the Richmond
Observatory.] -- Tr.

When this disturbance attains a great degree of intensity, the equilibrium
of the distribution is restored by a discharge attended by a development of
light "The Aurora* itself is, therefore, not to be regarded as an externally
manifested cause of this disturbance, but rather as a result of telluric
activity, manifested on the one side by the appearance of the light, and on
the other by the vibrations of the magnetic needle."

[footnote]  *Dove, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xx., s. 341; bd. xix., s.
388.  "The declination needle acts in very nearly the same way as an
atmospheric electrometer, whose divergence in like manner shows the
increased tension of the electricity before this has become so great as to
yield a spark."  See also, the excellent observations of Professor KŠwmtz,
in his 'Lehrbuch der Meteorologie', bd. iii., s. 511-519, and Sir David
Brewster, in his 'Treatise on Magnetism', p. 280.  Regarding the magnetic
properties of the galvanic flame, or luminous arch from a Bunsen's carbon
and zinc battery, see Casselmann's 'Beobachtungen' (Marburg, 1844), s. 56-62.

The splendid appearance of colored polar light is the act of discharge, the
termination of a magnetic storm, as in an electrical storm a development of
light -- the flash of lightning -- indicates the restoration of the
disturbed equilibrium in the distribution of the electricity.  An electric
storm is generally confined to a small space beyond the limits of which the
condition of the atmospheric electricity remains unchanged.  A magnetic
storm, on the other hand,
p 193
shows its influence on the course of the needle over large portions of
continents, and, as Arago first discovered far from the spot where the
evolution of light was visible.  It is not improbable that, as
heavily-charged threatening clouds, owing to frequent transitions of the
atmospheric electricity to an opposite condition, are not always discharged,
accompanied by lightning, so likewise magnetic storms may occasion
far-extending disturbances in the horary course of the needle, without there
being any positive necessity that the equilibrium of the distribution should
be restored by explosion, or by the passage of luminous effusions from one
of the poles to the equator, or from pole to pole.

In collecting all the individual features of the phenomenon in one general
picture, we must not omit to describe the origin and course of a perfectly
developed Aurora Borealis.  Low down in the distant horizon, about the part
of the heavens which is intersected by the magnetic meridian, the sky which
was previously clear is at once overcast.  A dense wall of bank of cloud
seems to rise gradually higher and higher, until it attains an elevation of
8 or 10 degrees.  The color of the dark segment passes into  brown or
violet; and stars are visible through the cloudy stratum, as when a dense
smoke darkens the sky.  A broad, brightly-luminous arch, first white, then
yellow, encircles the dark segment; but as the brilliant arch appears
subsequently to the smoky gray segment, we can not agree with Argelander in
ascribing the latter to the effect of mere contrast with the bright luminous

[footnote]  *Argelander, in the important observations on the northern light
embodied in the 'VortrŠgen gehalten in der physikalish-okonomischen
Gessellschaft zu Konigsberg', bd. i., 1834, s. 257-264.

The highest point of the arch of light is, according to accurate
observations made on the subject,* not generally in the magnetic meridian
itself, but from 5 degrees to 18 degrees toward the direction of the
magnetic declination of the place.**

[footnote]  *For an account of the results of the observations of Lottin,
Bravais, and Siljerstrom, who spent a winter at Bosekop, on the coast of
Lapland (70 degrees N. lat.), and in 210 nights saw the northern lights 160
times, see the 'Comptes Rendus de l'Acad. des Sciences', t. x., p. 289, and
Martins's 'Meteorologie', 1843, p. 453.  See also, Argelander in the
'Vortragen geh. in der Konigsberg Gessellschaft', bd. i., s. 259.

[footnote]  **[Professor Challis of Cambridge, states that in the Aurora of
October 24th, 1847, the streamers all converged toward a single point of the
heavens, situated in or very near a vertical circle passing through the
magnetic pole.  Around this point a corona was formed, the rays of which
diverged in all directions from the center, leaving a space free from light:
 its azimuth was 18 degrees 41' from south to east, and its altitude 69
degrees 54'.  See Professor Challis, in the 'Athenaeum', Oct. 31, 1847.] --

In the northern latitudes,
p 196
in the immediate vicinity of the magnetic pole, the smoke-like conical
segment appears less dark, and sometimes is not even seen.  Where the
horizontal force is the weakest, the middle of the luminous arch deviates
the most from the magnetic meridian.

The luminous arch remains sometimes for hours together flashing and kindling
in ever-varying undulations, before rays and streamers emanate from it, and
shoot up to the zenith.  The more intense the discharges of the northern
light, the more bright is the play of colors, through all the varying
gradations from violet and bluish white to green and crimson.  Even in
ordinary electricity excited by friction, the sparks are only colored in
cases where the explosion is very violent after great tension.  The magnetic
columns of flame rise eithr singly from the luminous arch, blended with
black rays similar to thick smoke, or simultaneously in many opposite points
of the horizon, uniting together to torm a flickering sea of flame, whose
brilliant beauty admits of no adequate description, as the luminous waves
are every moment assuming new and varying forms.  The intensity of this
light is at times so great, that Lowenorn (on the 29th of June, 1786)
recognized the coruscation of the polar light n bright sunshine.  Motion
renders the phenomenon more visible.  Round the point in the vault of heaven
which corresponds to the direction of the inclination of the needle, the
beams unite together to form the so-called corona, the crown of the northern
light, which encircles the summit of the heavenly canopy with a milder
radiance and unflickering emanations of light.  It is only in rare instances
that a perfect crown or circle is formed, but on its completion the
phenomenon has invariably reached its maximum, and the radiations become
less frequent, shorter, and more colorless.  The crown and the luminous
arches break up, and the whole vault of heaven becomes covered with
irregularly-scattered, broad, faint, almost ashy-gray luminous immovable
patches, which in their turn disappear, leaving nothing but a trace of the
dark, smoke-like segment on the horizon.  There often remains nothing of the
whole spectacle but a white, delicate cloud with feathery edges, or divided
at equal distances into small roundish groups like cirio-cumuli.

This connection of the polar light with the most delicate cirrous clouds
deserves special attention, because it shows that the electro-magnetic
evolution of light is a part of a meteorological process.  Terrestrial
magnetism here manifests its influence
p 197
on the atmosphere and on the condensation of aqueous vapor.  The fleecy
clouds seen in Iceland by Thienemann, and which he considered to be the
northern light, have been seen in recent times by Franklin and Richardson
near the American north pole, and by Admiral Wrangel on the Siberian coast
of the Polar Sea.  All remarked "that the Aurora flashed forth in the most
vivid beams when masses of cirrous strata were hovering in the upper regions
of the air, and when these were so thin that their presence could only be
recognized by the formation of a halo round the moon."  These clouds
sometimes range themselves, even by day in a similar manner to the beams of
the Aurora, and then disturb the course of the magnetic needle in the same
manner as the latter.  On the morning after every distinct nocturnal Aurora,
the same superimposed strata of clouds have still been observed that had
previously been luminous.*

[footnote]  *John Franklin, 'Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the
Polar Sea, in the Years 1819-1822', p. 552 and 597; Thienemann in the
'Edinburgh Philosophical Journal', vol. xx., p. 336; Farquharson, in vol.
vi., p. 392, of the same journal; Wrangel, 'Phys. Beob.', s. 59.  Parry even
saw the great arch of the northern light continue throughout the day.
('Journal of the Royal Institution of Great Britain', 1828, Jan., p. 429.)

The apparently converging polar zones (streaks of clouds in the direction of
the magnetic meridian), which constantly occupied my attention during my
journeys on the elevated plateaux of Mexico and in Northern Asia, belong
probably to the same group of ciurnal phenomena.*

[footnote]  *On my return from my American travels, I described the delicate
cirro-cumulus cloud, which appears uniformly divided, as if by the action of
repulsive forces, under the name of polar bands ('bandes polaires'), because
their perspective point of convergence is mostly at first in the magnetic
pole, so that the parallel rows of fleecy clouds follow the magnetic
meridian.  One peculiarity of this mysterious phenomenon is the oscillation,
or occasionally the gradually progressive motion, of the point of
convergence.  It is usually observed that the bands are only fully developed
in one region of the heavens, and they are seen to move first from south to
north, and then gradually from east to west.  I could not trace any
connection between the advancing motion of the bands and alterations of the
currents of air in the higher regions of the atmosphere.  They occur when
the air is extremely calm and the heavens are quite serene, and are much
more common under the tropics than in the temperate and frigid zones.  I
have seen this phenomenon on the Andes, almost under the equator, at an
elevation of 15,920 feet, and in Northern Asia, in the plains of
Krasnojarski, south of Buchtarminsk, so similarly developed, that we must
regard the influences producing it as very widely distributed, and as
depending on general natural forces.  See the important observations of
Kamtz ('Vorlesungen uber Meteorologie', 1840, s. 146), and the more recent
ones of Martins and Bravais ('Meteorologie', 1843, p. 117).  In south polar
bands, composed of very delicate clouds, observed by Arqago at Paris on the
23d of June, 1844, dark rays shot upward from an arch running east and west.
 We have already made mention of black rays, resembling dark smoke, as
occurring in brilliant nocturnal northern lights.

p 198
Southern lights have often been seen in England by the intelligent and
indefatigable observer Dalton and northern lights have been observed in the
southern hemisphere as far as 45 degrees latitude (as on the 14th of
January, 1831).  On occasions that are by no means of rare occurrence, the
equilibrium at both poles has been simultaneously disturbed.  I have
discovered with certainty that northern polar lights have been seen within
the tropics in Mexico and Peru.  We must distinguish between the sphere of
simultaneous visibility of the phenomenon and the zones of the Earth where
it is seen almost nightly.  Every observer no doubt sees a separate Aurora
of his own, as he sees a separate rainbow.  A great portion of the Earth
simultaneously engenders these phenomena of emanations of light.  Many
nights may be instanced in which the phenomenon has been simultaneously
observed in England and in Pennsylvania, in Rome and in Pekin.  When it is
stated that Auroras diminish with the decrease of latitude, the latitude
must be understood to be magnetic, and as measured by its distance from the
magnetic pole.  In Iceland, in Greenland, Newfoundland, on the shores of the
Slave Lake, and at Fort Enterprise in Northern Canada, these lights appear
almost every night at certain seasons of the year, celebrating with their
flashing beams, according to the mode of expression common to the
inhabitants of the Shetland Isles, "a merry dance in heaven."*

[footnote]  *The northrn lights are called by the Shetland Islanders "the
merry dancers."  (Kendal, in the 'Quarterly Journal of Science', new series,
vol. iv., p. 395.)

While the Aurora is a phenomenon of rare occurrence in Italy, it is
frequently seen in the latitude of Philadelphia (39 degrees 57'), owing to
the southern position of the American nagnetic pole.  In the districts which
are remarkable, in the New Continent and the Siberian coasts, for the
frequent occurrence of this phenomenon, there are special regions or zones
of longitude in which the polar light is particularly bright and brilliant.*

[footnote]  *See Muncke's excellent work in the new edition of Gehler's
'Physik Worterbuch', bd. vii., i., s 113-268, and especially s. 158.

The existence
p 199
of local influences can not, therefore, be denied in these cases.  Wrangel
saw the brilliancy diminish as he left the shores of the Polar Sea, about
Mischne-Kolymsk.  The observations made in the North Polar expedition appear
to prove that in the immediate vicinity of the magnetic pole the development
of light is not in the least degree more intense or frequent than at some
distance from it.

The knowledge which we at present possess of the altitude of the polar light
is based on measurements which from their nature, the constant oscillation
of the phenomenon of light, and the consequent uncertainty of the angle of
parallax, are not deserving of much confidence.  The results obtained,
setting aside the older data, fluctuate between several miles and an
elevation of 3000 or 4000 feet; and, in all probability, the northern lights
at different times occur at very different elevations.*

[footnote]  *Farquharson in the 'Edinburgh Philos. Journal', vol. xvi., p.
304; 'Philos. Transact.' for 1829, p. 113.
[The height of the bow of light of the Aurora seen at the Cambridge
Observatory, March 19, 1847, was determined by Professors Challis, of
Cambridge, and Chevallier, of Durham, to be 177 miles above the surface of
the Earth.  See the notice of this meteor in 'An Account of the Aurora
Borealis of Oct. 24, 1847', by John H. Morgan, Esq., 1848.] -- Tr.]

The most recent observers are disposed to place the phenomenon in the region
of clouds, and not on the confines of the atmosphere; and they even believe
that the rays of the Aurora may be affected by winds and currents of air, if
the phenomenon of light, by which alone the existence of an electro-magnetic
current is appreciable, be actually connected with matrial groups of
vesicles of vapor in motion, or, more correctly speaking, if light penetrate
them, passing from one vesicle to another.  Franklin saw near Great Bear
Lake a beaming northern light, the lower side of which he thought
illuminated a stratum of clouds, while, at a distance of only eighteen
geographical miles, Kendal, who was on watch throughout the whole night, and
never lost sight of the sky, perceived no phenomenon of light.  The
assertion, so frequently maintained of late, that the rays of the Aurora
have been seen to shoot down to the ground between the spectator and some
neighboring hill, is open to the charge of optical delusion, as in the cases
of strokes of lightning or of the fall of fire-balls.

Whether the magnetic storms, whose local character we have illustrated by
such remarkable examples, share noise as well as light in common with
electric storms, is a question
p 200
that has become difficult to answer, since implicit confidence is no longr
yielded to the relations of Greenland whale-fishers and Siberian
fox-hunters.  Northern lights appear to have become less noisy since their
occurrences have been more accurately recorded.  Parry, Franklin, and
Richardson, near the north pole; Thienemann in Iceland; Gieseke in
Greenland; Lotur, and Bravais, near the North Cape; Wrangel and Anjou, on
the coast of the Polar Sea, have together seen the Aurora thousands of
times, but never heard any sound attending the phenomenon.  If this negative
testimony should not be deemed equivalent to the positive counter-evidence
of Hearne on the mouth of the Copper River and of Henderson in Iceland, it
must be remembered that, although Hood heard a noise as of quickly-moved
musket-balls and a slight cracking sound during an Aurora, he also noticed
the same noise on the following day, when there was no northern light to be
seen; and it must not be forgotten that Wrangel and Gieseke were fully
convinced that the sound they had heard was to be ascribed to the
contraction of the ice and the crust of the snow on the sudden cooling of
the atmosphere.  The belief in a crackling sound has arisen, not among the
people generally, but rather among learned travelers, because in earlier
times the northern light was declared to be an effect of atmospheric
electricity, on account of the luminous manifestation of the electricity in
rarefied space, and the observers found it easy to hear what they wished to
hear.  Recent experiments with very sensitive electrometers have hitherto,
contrary to the expectation generally entertained, yielded only negative
results.  The condition of the electricity in the atmosphere*
p 291
is not found to be changed during the most intense Aurora; but, on the other
hand, the three expressions of the power of terrestrial magnetism,
declination, inclination and intensity, are all affected by polar light, so
that in the same night, and at different periods of the magnetic
development, the same end of the needle is both attracted and repelled.

[footnote]  *[Mr. James Glaisher, of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, in
his interesting 'Remarks on the Weather during the Quarter ending December
31st, 1847', says, "It is a fact well worthy of notice, that from the
beginning of this quarter till the 29th of December, the electricity of the
atmosphere was almost always in a neutral state, so that no signs of
electricity were shown for several days together by any of the electrical
instruments."  During this period there were 'eight' exhibitions of the
Aurora Borealis, of which one was the peculiarly bright display of the
Aurora Borealis, of which one was the peculiarly bright display of the
meteor on the 24th of October.  These frequent exhibitions of brilliant
Aurorae seem to depend upon many remarkable meteorological relations, for we
find, according to Mr. Glaisher's statement in the paper to which we have
already alluded, that the previous fifty years afford no parallel season to
the closing one of 1847.  The mean temperature of evaporation and of the dew
point, the mean elastic force of vapor, the mean reading of the barometer,
and the mean daily range of the readings of the thermometers in air, were
all greater at Greenwich during that season of 1847 than the average range
of many preceding years.] -- Tr.

The assertion made by Parry, on the strength of the data yielded by his
observations in the neighborhood of the magnetic pole at Melville Island,
that the Aurora did not disturb, but rather exercised a calming influence on
the magnetic needle, has been satisfactorily refuted by Parry's own more
exact researches,* detailed in his journal, and by the admirable
observations of Richardson, Hood, and Franklin in Northern Canada, and
lastly by Bravais and Lottin in Lapland.

[footnote]  *Kamtz, 'Lehrbuch der Meteorologie', bd. iii., s. 498 and 501.

The process of the Aurora is, as has already been observed, the restoration
of a disturbed condition of equilibrium.  The effect on the needle is
different according to the degree of intensity of the explosion.  It was
only unappreciable at the gloomy winter station of  Bosekop when the
phenomenon of light was very faint and aptly compared to the flame which
rises in the closed circuit of a voltaic pile between two points of carbon
at a considerable distance apart, or, according to Fizeau, to the flame
rising between a silver and a carbon point, and attracted or repelled by the
magnet.  This analogy certainly sets aside the necessity of assuming the
existence of metallic vapors in the atmosphere, which some celebrated
physicists have regarded as the substratum of the northern light.

When we apply the indefinite term 'polar light' to the luminous phenomenon
which we ascribe to a galvanic current, that is to say, to the motion of
electricity in a closed circuit, we merely indicate the local direction in
which the evolution of light is most frequently, although by no means
invariably, seen.  This phenomenon derives the greater part of its
importance from the fact that the Earth becomes 'self-luminous', and that as
a planet, besides the light which it receives from the central body, the
Sun, it shows itself capable in itself of developing light.  The intensity
of the terrestrial light, or, rather the luminosity which is diffused,
exceeds, in cases of the brightest colored radiation toward the zenith, the
light of the Moon in its first quarter.  Occasionally, as on the 7th of
January, 1831, printed characters could be read without difficulty.  This
almost uninterrupted development of light
p 202
in the Earth leads us by analogy to the remarkable process exhibited in
Venus.  The portion of this planet which is not illumined by the Sun often
shines with a phosphorescent light of its own.  It is not improbable that
the Moon, Jupiter, and the comets shine with an independent light, besides
the reflected solar light visible through the polariscope.  Without speaking
of the problematical but yet ordinary mode in which the sky is illuminated,
when a low cloud may be seen to shine with an uninterrupted flickering light
for many minutes together, we still meet with other instances of terrestrial
development of light in our atmosphere.  In this category we may reckon the
celebrated luminous mists seen in 1783 and 1831; the steady luminous
appearance exhibited without any flickeriing in great clouds observed by
Rozier and Beccaria; and lastly, as Arago* well remarks, the faint diffused
light which guides the steps of the traveler in cloudy, starless, and
moonless nights in autumn and winter, even when there is no snow on the

[footnote]  *Arago, on the dry fogs of 1783 and 1831, which illuminated the
night, in the 'Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes', 1832, p. 246 and 250;
and, regarding extraordinary luminous appearances in clouds without storms,
see 'Notices sur la Tonnerre', in the 'Annuaire pour l'an. 1838', p. 279-285.

As in polar light or the electro-magnetic storm, a current of brilliant and
often colored light streams through the atmosphere in high latitudes, so
also in the torrid zones between the tropics, the ocean simultaneously
develops light over a space of many thousand square miles.  Here the magical
effect of light is owing to the forces of organic nature.  Foaming with
light, the eddying waves flash in phosphorescent sparks over the wide
expanse of waters, where every scintillation is the vital manifestation of
an invisible animal world.  So varied are the sources of terrestrial light!
Must we still suppose this light to be latent, and combined in vapors, in
order to explain 'Moser's images produced at a distance' -- a discovery in
which reality has hitherto manifested itself like a mere phantom of the

As the internal heat of our planet is connected on the one hand with the
generation of electro-magnetic currents and the process of terrestrial light
(a consequence of the magnetic storm), it, on the other hand, discloses to
us the chief source of geognostic phenomena.  We shall consider these in
their connection with and their transition from merely dynamic disturbances,
from the elevation of whole continents and mountain chains to the
development and effusion of gaseous and
p 203
liquid fluids, of hot mud, and of those heated and molten earths which
become solidified into crystalline mineral masses.  Modern geognosy, the
mineral portion of terrestrial physics, has made no slight advance in having
investigated this connection of phenomena.  This investigation has led us
away from the delusive hypothesis, by which it was customary formerly to
endeavor to explain, individually every expression of force in the
terrestrial globe:  it shows us the connection of the occurrence of
heterogeneous substances with that which only appertains to changes in space
(disturbances or elevations), and groups together phenomena which at first
sight appeared most heterogeneous, as thermal springs, effusion of carbonic
acid and sulphurous vapor, innocuous salses (mud eruptions), and the
dreadful devastation of volcanic mountains.*

[footnote]  *[See Mantell's 'Wonders of Geology', 1848, vol. i., p. 34, 36,
105; also Lyell's 'Principles of Geology', vol. ii., and Daubeney 'On
Volcanoes', 2d ed., 1848, Part ii., ch. xxxii., xxxiii.] -- Tr.

In a general view of nature, all these phenomena are fused together in one
sole idea of the reaction of the interior of a planet on its external
surface.  We thus recognize in the depths of the earth, and in the increase
of temperature with the increase of depth from the surface, not only the
germ of disturbing movements, but also of the gradual elevation of whole
continents (as mountain chains on long fissures), of volcanic eruptions, and
of the manifold production of mountains and mineral masses.  The influence
of this reaction of the interior on the exterior is not, however, limited to
inorganic nature alone.  It is highly probable that, in an earlier world,
more powerful emanations of carbonic acid gas, blended with the atmosphere,
must have increased the assimilation of carbon in vegetables, and that an
inexhaustible supply of combustible matter (lignites and carboniferous
formations) must have been thus buried in the upper strata of the earth by
the revolutions attending the destruction of vast tracts of forest.  We
likewise perceive that the destiny of mankind is in part dependent on the
formation of the external surface of the earth, the direction of mountain
tracts and high lands, and on the distribution of elevated continents.  It
is thus granted to the inquiring mind to pass from link to link along the
chain of phenomena until it reaches the period when, in the solidifying
process of our planet, and in its first transition from the gaseous form to
the agglomeration of matter, that portion of the inner heat of the Earth was
developed, which does not belong to the action of the Sun.

This material taken from pages 204-248

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p 204
In order to give a general delineation of the causal connection of
geognostical phenomena, we will begin with those whose chief characteristic
is dynamic, consisting in motion and in change in space.  Earthquakes
manifest themselves by quick and successive vertical, or horizontal, or
rotatory vibrations.*

[footnote]  *[See Daubeney 'On Volcanoes', 2d ed., 1848, p. 509.] -- Tr.

In the very considerable number of earthquakes which I have experienced in
both hemispheres, alike on land and at sea, the two first-named kinds of
motion have often appeared to me to occur simultaneously.  The mine-like
explosiion -- the vertical action from below upward -- was most strikingly
manifested in the overthrow of the town of Riobamba in 1797, when the bodies
of many of the inhabitants were found to have been hurled to Cullea, a hill
several hundred feet in neight, and on the opposite side of the River Lican.
 The propagation is most generally effected by undulations in a linear
direction,* with a velocity of from twenty to twenty-eight miles in a
minute, but partly in circles of commotion or large ellipses, in which the
vibrations are propagated with decreasing intensity from a center toward the

[footnote]  *[On the linear direction of earthquakes, see Daubeney 'On
Volcanoes', p. 515.] -- Tr.

There are districts exposed to the action of two intersecting circles of
commotion.  In Northern Asia, where the Father of History,* and subsequently
Theophylactus Simocatta,** described the districts of Scythia as free from
earthquakes, I have observed the metalliferous portion of the Altai
Mountains under the influence of a two-fold focus of commotion, the Lake of
Baikal, and the volcano of the Celestial Mountain (Thianschan).***

[footnote]  *Herod, iv., 28.  The prostration of the colossal statue of
Memnon, which has been again restored (Letronne, 'La Statue Vocale de
Memnon', 1835, p. 25, 26), presents a fact in opposition to the ancient
prejudice that Egypt is free from earthquakes (Pliny, ii., 80); but the
valley of the Nile does lie external to the circle of commotion of
Byzantium, the Archipelago, and Syria (Ideler ad Aristot., 'Meteor.', p.

[footnote]  **Saint-Martin, in the learned notes to Lebeau, 'Hist. du Bas
Empire', t. ix., p. 401.

[footnote]  ***Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. ii., p. 110-118.  In regard to
the difference between agitation of the surface and of the strata lying
beneath it, see Gay-Lussac, in the 'Annales de Chimie et de Physique', t.
xxii., p. 429.

When the circles of commotion intersect one another -- when, for instance,
an elevated plain lies between two volcanoes simultaneously in a state of
eruption, several wave-systems may exist together, as in fluids, and not
mutually disturb one another.  We may even suppose 'interference'
p 205
to exist here, as in the intersecting waves of sound.  The extent of the
propagated waves of commotion will be increased on the upper surface of the
earth, according to the general law of mechanics, by which, on the
transmission of motion in elastic bodies, the stratum lying free on the one
side endeavors to separate itself from the other strata.

Waves of commotion have been investigated by means of the pendulum and the
seismometer* with tolerable accuracy in respect to their direction and total
intensity, but by no means with reference to the internal nature of their
alternations and their periodic intumescence.

[footnote]  *[This instrument, in its simplest form, consists merely of a
basin filled with some viscid liquid, which, on the occurrence of a shock of
an earthquake of sufficient force to disturb the equilibrium of the building
in which it is placed, is tilted on one side, and the liquid made to rise in
the same direction, thus showing by its height the degree of the
disturbance.  Professor J. Forbes has invented an instrument of this nature,
although on a greatly improved plan.  It consists of a vertical metal rod,
having a ball of lead movable upon it.  It is supported upon a cylindrical
steel wire, which may be compressed at pleasure by means of a screw.  A
lateral movement, such as that of an earthquake, which carries forward the
base of the instrument, can only act upon the ball through the medium of the
elasticity of the wire, and the direction of the displacement will be
indicated by the plane of vibration of the pendulum.  A self-registering
apparatus is attached to the machine.  See Professor J. Forbes's account of
his invention in 'Edinb. Phil. Trans.', vol. xv., Part i.] -- Tr.

In the city of Quito, which lies at the foot of a still active volcano (the
Rucu Pichincha), and at an elevation of 9540 feet above the level of the
sea, which has beautiful cupolas, high vaulted churches, and massive
edifices of several stories, I have often been astonished that the violence
of the nocturnal earthquakes so seldom causes fissures in the walls, while
in the Peruvian plains oscillations apparently much less intense injure low
reed cottages.  The natives, who have experienced many hundred earthquakes,
believe that the difference depends less upon the length or shortness of the
waves, and the slowness or rapidity of the horizontal vibrations.* than on
the uniformity of the motion in opposite directions.

[footnote]  *  "Tutissimum est cum vibrat crispante Aedificiorum crepitu; et
cum intumescit assurgens alternoque motu residet, innoxium et cum
concurrentia tecta contrario ictu arietant; quoniam alter motus alteri
renititur.  Undantis inclinatio et fluctus more quaedam volutatio investa
est, aut cum in unam partem totus se motus impellitae -- Plin., ii., 82.

The circling rotatory commotions are the most uncommon, but, at the same
time, the most dangerous.  Walls were observed to be twisted, but not thrown
down; rows of trees turned from their previous parallel direction;
p 206
and fields covered with different kinds of plants found to be displaced in
the great earthquake of Riobamba, in the province of Quito, on the 4th of
February, 1797, and in that of Calabria, between the 5th of February and the
28th of March, 1782.  The phenomenon of the inversion or displacement of
fields and pieces of land, by which one is made to occupy the place of
another, is connected with a translatory motion or penetration of separate
terrestrial strata.  When I made the plan of the ruined town of Riobamba,
one particular spot was pointed out to me, where all the furniture of one
house had been found under the ruins of another.  The loose earth had
evidently moved like a fluid in currents, which must be assumed to have been
directed first downward, then horizontally, and lastly upward.  It was found
necessary to appeal to the 'Audiencia', or Council of Justice, to decide
upon the contentions that arose regarding the proprietorship of objects that
had been removed to a distance of many hundred roises.

In countries where earthquakes are comparatively of much less frequent
occurrence (as for instance, in Southern Europe), a very general belief
prevails, although unsupported by the authority of inductive reasoning,*
that a calm, an oppressive
p 207
heat and a misty horizon, are always the forerunners of this phenomenon.

[footnote]  *Even in Italy they have begun to observe that earthquakes are
unconnected with the state of the weather, that is to say, with the
appearance of the heavens immediately before the shock.  The numerical
results of Friedrich Hoffmann ('Hinterlassene Werke', bd. ii., 366-376)
exactly correspond with the experience of the Abbate Scina of Palermo.  I
have myself several times observed reddish clouds on the day of an
earthquake, and shortly before it on the 4th of November, 1799, I
experienced two sharp shocks at the moment of a loud clap of thunder.
('Relat. Hist.', liv. iv., chap. 10.)  The Turin physicist, Vassalli Eaudi,
observed Volta's electrometer to be strongly agitated during the protracted
earthquake of Pignerol, which lasted from the 2d of April to the 17th of
May, 1808; 'Journal de Physique', t. lxvii., p. 291.  But these indications
presented by clouds, by modifications of atmospheric electricity, or by
calms, can not be regarded as 'generally' or 'necessarily' connected with
earthquakes, since in Quito, Peru, and Chili, as well as in Canada and
Italy, many earthquakes are observed along with the purest and clearest
skies, and with the freshest land and sea breezes.  But if no meteorological
phenomenon indicates the coming earthquake either on the morning of the
shock or a few days previously, the influence of certain periods of the year
(the vernal and autumnal equinoxes), the commencement of the rainy season in
the tropics after long drought, and the change of the monsoons (according to
general belief), can not be overlooked, even though the genetic connection
of meteorological processes with those going on in the interior of our globe
is still enveloped in obscurity.  Numerical inquiries on the distribution of
earthquakes throughout the course of the year, such as those of Von Hoff,
Peter Merian, and Friedrich Hoffmann, bear testimony to their frequency at
the periods of equinoxes.  It is singular that Pliny, at the end of his
fanciful theory of earthquakes, names the entire frightful phenomenon a
subterranean storm; not so much in consequence of the rolling sound which
frequently accompanies the shock, as because the elastic forces, concussive
by their tension, accumulate in the interior of the earth when they are
absent in the atmosphere!  "Ventos in causa esse non dubium reor.  Neque
enim unquam intemiscunt terre, nisi sopito mari, coeloque adeo tranquillo,
ut volatus avium non pendeant, subtracto omni spiritu qui vehit; nec unquam
nisi post ventos conditos, scilicet in venas et cavernas ejus occulto
afflatu.  Neque aliad est in terra tremor, quam in nube toonitruum; nec
hiatus aliud quam cum fulmen erumpit, incluso spiritu luctante et ad
libertatem exire nitente."  (Plin., ii., 79.)  The germs of almost every
thing that has been observed of imagined on the causes of earthquakes, up to
the present day, may be found in Seneca, 'Nat. Quaest.', vi., 4-31.

The fallacy of this popular opinion is not only refuted by my own
experience, but likewise by the observations of all those who have lived
many years in districts where, as in Cumana, Quito, Peru, and Chili, the
earth is frequently and violently agitated.  I have felt earthquakes in
clear air and a fresh east wind, as well as in rain and thunder storms.  The
regularity of the horary changes in the declination of the magnetic needle
and in the atmospheric pressure remained undisturbed between the tropics on
the days when earthquakes occurred.*

[footnote]  *I have given proof that the course of the horary variations of
the barometer is not affected before or after earthquakes, in my 'Relat.
Hist.', t. i., p. 311 and 513.

These facts agree with the observations made by Adolph Erman (in the
temperate zone, on the 8th of March, 1829) on the occasion of an earthquake
at Irkutsk, near the Lake of Baikal.  During the violent earthquake of
Cumana, on the 4th of November, 1799, I found the declination and the
intensity of the magnetic force alike unchanged, but, to my surprise, the
inclination of the needle was diminished about 48 degrees.*

[footnonte]  *Humboldt, 'Relat. Hist.', t. i., p. 515-517.

There was no ground to suspect an error in the calculation, and yet, in the
many other earthquakes which I have experienced on the elevated plateaux of
Quito and Lima, the inclination as well as the other elements of terrestrial
magnetism remained always unchanged.  Although, in general, the processes at
work within the interior of the earth may not be announced by any
meteorological phenomena or any special appearance of the sky, it is, on the
contrary, not improbable, as we shall soon see, that in cases of violent
earthquakes some effect may be imparted to the atmosphere, in consequence of
which they can not always act in a purely dynamic manner.

p 208
During the long-continued trembling of the ground in the Piedmontese valleys
of Pelis and Clusson, the greatest changes in the electric tension of the
atmosphere were observed while the sky was cloudless.  The intensity of the
hollow noise which generally accompanies an earthquake does not increase in
the same degree as the force of the oscillations.  I have ascertained with
certainty that the great shock of the earthquake of Riobamba (4th Feb.,
1797) -- one of the most fearful phenomena recorded in the physical history
of our planet -- was not accompanied by any noise whatever.  The tremendous
noise ('el gram ruido') which was heard below the soil of the cities of
Quito and Ibarra, but not at Tacunga and Hambato, nearer the center of the
motion, occurred between eighteen and twenty minutes 'after' the actual
catastrophe.  In the celebrated earthquake of Lima and Callao (28th of
October, 1746), a noise resembling a subterranean thunder-clap was heard at
Truxillo a quarter of an hour after the shock, and unaccompanied by any
trembling of the ground.  In like manner, long after the great earthquake in
New Granada, on the 16th of November, 1827, described by Boussingault,
subterranean detonations were heard in the whole valley of Cauca during
twenty or thirty seconds, unattended by motion.  The nature of the noise
varies also very much, being either rolling, or rustling, or clanking like
chains when moved, or like near thunder, as, for instance, in the city of
Quito; or, lastly, clear and ringing, as if obsidian or some other vitrified
masses were struck in subterranean cavities.  As solid bodies are excellent
conductors of sound, which is propagated in burned clay, for instance, ten
or twelve times quicker than in the air, the subterranean noise may be heard
at a great distance from the place where it has originated.  In Caracas, in
the grassy plains of Calabozo, and on the banks of the Rio Apure, which
falls into the Orinoco, a tremendously loud noise, resembling thunder, was
heard, unaccompanied by an earthquake, over a district of land 9200 square
miles in extent, on the 30th of April, 1812, while at a distance of 632
miles to the north-east, the volcano of St. Vincent, in the small Antilles,
poured forth a copious stream of lava.  With respect to distance, this was
as if an eruption of Vesuvius had been heard in the north of France.  In the
year 1744, on the great eruption of the volcano of Cotopaxi, subterranean
noises, resembling the discharge of cannon, were heard in Honda, on the
Magdalena River.  The crater of Cotopaxi lies not only 18,000 feet higher
than Honda, but these two points are separated by the colossal
p 209
mountain chain of Quito, Pasto, and Popayan, no less than by numerous
valleys and clefts, and they are 436 miles apart.  The sound was certainly
not propagated through the air, but through the earth, and at a great depth.
 During the violent earthquake of New Granada, in February, 1835,
subterranean thunder was heard simultaneously at Popayan, Bogota, Santa
Marta, and Caracas (where it continued for seven hours without any movement
of the ground), in Haiti, Jamaica, and on the Lake of Nicaragua.

These phenomena of sound, when unattended by any perceptible shocks, produce
a peculiarly deep impression even on persons who have lived in countries
where the earth has been frequently exposed to shocks.  A striking and
unparalleled instance of uninterrupted subterranean noise, unaccompanied by
any trace of an earthquake, is the phenomenon known in the Mexican elevated
plateaux by the name of the "roaring and the subterranean thunder)
('bramidos y truenos subterraneos') of Guanaxuato.*

[footnote]  *On the 'bramidos' of Guanaxuato, see my 'Essai Polit. sur la
Nouv. Espagne', t. i., p. 303.  The subterranean noise, unaccompanied with
any appreciable shock, in the deep mines and on the surface (the town of
Guanaxuata lies 6830 feet above the level of the sea), was not heard in the
neighboring elevated plains, but only in the mountainous parts of the
Sierra, from the Cuesta de los Aguilares, near Marfil, to the north of Santa
Rosa.  There were individual parts of the Sierra 24-28 miles northwest of
Guanaxuata, to the other side of Chichimequillo, near the boiling spring of
San Jose de Comgngillas, to which the waves of sound did not extend.
Extremely stringent measures were adopted by the magistrates of the large
mountain towns on the 14th of January 1784, when the terror produced by
these subterranean thunders was at its height.  "The flight of a wealthy
family shall be punished with a fine of 1000 piasters, and that of a poor
family with two months' imprisonment.  The militia shall bring back the
fugitives."  One of the most remarkable points about the whole affair is the
opinion which the magistrates (el cabildo) cherished of their own superior
knowledge.  In one of their 'proclamas', I find the expression, "The
magistrates, in their wisdom (en su sabiduria), will at once know when there
is actual danger, and will give orders for flight; for the present, let
processions be instituted."  The terror excited by the tremor gave rise to a
famine, since it prevented the importation of corn from the table-lands,
where it abounded.  The ancients were also aware that noises sometimes
existed without earthquakes. -- Aristot., 'Meteor.', ii., p. 802; Plin.,
ii., 80.  The singular noise that was heard from March, 1822, to September,
1824, in the Dalmatian island Meleda (sixteen miles from Ragusa) and on
which Partsch has thrown much light, was occasionally accompanied by shocks.

This celebrated and rich mountain city lies far removed from any active
volcano.  The noise began about midnight on the 9th of January, 1784, and
continued for a month.  I have been enabled to give a circumstantial
p 210
description of it from the report of many witnesses, and from the documents
of the municipality, of which I was allowed to make use.  From the 13th to
the 16th of January, it seemed to the inhabitants as if heavy clouds lay
beneath their feet, from which issued alternate slow rolliing sounds and
short, quick claps of thunder.  The noise abated as gradually as it had
begun.  It was limited to a small space, and was not heard in a basaltic
district at the distance of a few miles.  Almost all the inhabitants, in
terror, left the city, in which large masses of silver ingots were stored;
but the most courageous, and those more accustomed to subterranean thunder,
soon returned, in order to drive off the bands of robbers who had attempted
to possess themselves of the treasures of the city.  Neither on the surface
of the earth, nor in mines 1600 feet in depth, was the slightest shock to be
perceived.  No similar noise had ever before been heard on the elevated
tableland of Mexico, nor has this terrific phenomenon since occurred there.
Thus clefts are opened or closed in the interior of the earth, by which
waves of sound penetrate to us or are impeded in their propagation.

The activity of an igneous mountain, however terrific and picturesque the
spectacle may be which it presents to our contemplation, is always limited
to a very small space.  It is far otherwise with earthquakes, which although
scarcely perceptible to the eye, nevertheless simultaneously propagate their
waves to a distance of many thousand miles.  The great earthquake which
destroyed the city of Lisbon on the 1st of November, 1755, and whose effects
were so admirably investigated by the distinguished philosopher Emmanuel
Kant, was felt in the Alps, on the coast of Sweden, in the Antilles,
Antigua, Barbadoes, and Martinique; in the great Canadian Lakes, in
Thuringia, in the flat country of Northern Germany, and in the small inland
lakes on the shores of the Baltic.*

[footnote]  *[It has been computed that the shock of this earthquake
pervaded an area of 700,000 miles, or the twelfth part of the circumference
of the globe.  This dreadful shock lasted only five minutes:  it happened
about nine o'clock in the morning of the Feast of all Saints, whien almost
the whole population was within the churches, owing to which circumstance no
less than 30,000 persons perished by the fall of these edifices.  See
Daubeney 'On Volcanoes', p. 514-517.] -- Tr.

Remote springs were interrupted in their flow, a phenomenon attending
earthquakes which had been noticed among the ancients by Demetrius the
Callatian.  The hot springs of Toplitz dried up, and returned, inundating
every thing around, and having their waters colored with iron ocher.  In
p 211
the sea rose to an elevation of sixty-four feet, while in the Antilles,
where the tide usually rises only from twenty-six to twenty-eight inches, it
suddenly rose above twenty feet, the water being of an inky blackness.  It
has been computed that on the 1st of November, 1755, a portion of the
Earth's surface four times greater than that of Europe, was simultaneously
shaken.  As yet there is no manifestation of force known to us, including
even the murderous inventions of our own race, by which a greater number of
people have been killed in the short space of a few minutes:  sixty thousand
were destroyed in Sicily in 1693, from thirty to forty thousand in the
earthquake of Riobamba in 1797, and probably five times as many in Asia
Minor and Syria, under Tiberius and Justinian the elder, about the years 19
and 526.

There are instances in which the earth has been shaken for many successive
days in the chain of the Andes in South America, but I am only acquainted
with the following cases in which shocks that have been felt almost every
hour for months together have occurred far from any volcano, as, for
instance, on the eastern declivity of the Alpine chain of Mount Cenis, at
Fenestrelles and Pignerol, from April, 1808; between New Madrid and Little
Prairie,* north of Cincinnati in the United States of America, in December,
1811, as well as through the whole winter of 1812; and in the Pachalik of
Aleppo, in the months of August and September, 1822.

[footnote]  *Drake, 'Nat. and Statist. View of Cincinnati', p. 232-238;
Mitchell, in the 'Transactions of the Lit. and Philos. Soc. of New York',
vol. i., p. 281-308.  In the Piedmonese county of Pignerol, glasses of
water, filled to the very brim, exhibited for hours a continuous motion.

As the mass of the people are seldom able to rise to general views, and are
consequently always disposed to ascribe great phenomena to local telluric
and atmospheric processes, wherever the shaking of the earth is continued
for a long time, fears of  the eruption of a new volcano are awakened.  In
some few cases, this apprehension has certainly proved to be well grounded,
as, for instance, in the sudden elevation of volcanic islands, and as we see
in the elevation of the volcano of Jorullo, a mountain elevated 1684 feet
above the ancient level of the neighboring plain, on the 29th of September
1759, after ninety days of earthquake and subterranean thunder.

If we could obtain information regarding the daily condition of all the
earth's surface, we should probably discover that the earth is almost always
undergoing shocks at some point of its superficies, and is continually
influenced by the reaction
p 212
of the interior on the exterior.  The frequency and general prevalence of a
phenomenon which is probably dependent on the raised temperature of the
deepest molten strata explain its independence of the nature of the mineral
masses in which it manifests itself.  Earthquakes have even been felt in the
loose alluvial strata of Holland, as in the neighborhood of Middleburg and
vliessingen on the 23d of February, 1828.  Granite and mica slate are shaken
as well as limestone and sandstone, or as trachyte and amygdaloid.  It is
not, therefore, the chemical nature of the constituents, but rather the
mechanical structure of the rocks, which modifies the propagation of the
motion, the wave of commotion.  Where this wave proceeds along a coast, or
at the foot and in the direction of a mountain chain, interruptions at
certain points have sometimes been remarked, which manifested themselves
during the course of many centuries.  The undulation advances in the depths
below, but is never felt at the same points on the surface.  The Peruvians*
say of these unmoved upper strata that "they form a bridge."

[footnote]  *In Spanish they say, 'rocas que hacen puente'.  With this
phenomenon of non-propagation through superior strata is connected the
remarkable fact that in the beginning of this century shocks were felt in
the deep silver mines at Marienberg, in the Saxony mining district, while
not the slightest trace was perceptible at the surface.  The miners ascended
in a state of alarm.  Conversely, the workmen in the mines of Falun and
Persberg felt nothing of the shocks which in November, 1823, spread dismay
among the inhabitants above ground.

As the mountain chains appear to be raised on fissures, the walls of the
cavities may perhaps favor the direction of undulations parallel to them;
occasionally, however, the waves of commotion intersect several chains
almost perpenducularly.  Thus we see them simultaneously breaking through
the littoral chain of Venezuela and the Sierra Parime.  In Asia, shocks of
earthquakes have been propagated from Lahore and from the foot of the
Himalaya (22d of January, 1832) transversely across the chain of the Hindoo
Chou to Badakschan, the upper Oxus, and even to Bokhara.*

[footnote]  *Sir Alex. Burnes, 'Travels in Bokhara', vol. i., p. 18; and
Wathen, 'Mem. on the Usbek State', in the 'Journal of the Asiatic Society of
Bengal', vol. iii., p. 337.

The circles of commotion unfortunately expand occasionally in consequence of
a single and usually violent earthquake.  It is only since the destruction
of Cumana, on the 14th of December, 1797, that shocks on the southern coast
have been felt in the mica slate rocks of the peninsula of Maniquarez,
situated opposite to the chalk hills of the main land.  The advance
p 213
from south to north was very striking in the almost uninterrupted
undulations of the soil in the alluvial valleys of the Mississippi, the
Arkansas, and the Ohio, from 1811 to 1813.  It seemed here as if
subterranean obstacles were gradually overcome, and that the way being once
opened, the undulatory movement could be freely propagated.

Although earthquakes appear at first sight to be simply dynamic phenomena of
motion, we yet discover, from well-attested facts, that they are not only
able to elevate a whole district above its ancient level (as for instance,
the Ulla Bund, Delta of the Indus, or the coast of Chili, in November,
1822), but we also find that various substances have been ejected during the
earthquake, as hot water at Catania in 1818; hot steam at New Madrid, in the
Valley of the Mississippi, in 1812; irrespirable gases, 'Mofettes', which
injured the flocks grazing in the chain of the Andes; mud, black smoke, and
even flames, at Messina in 1781, and at Cumana on the 14th of November,
1797.  During the great earthquake of Lisbon, on the 1st of November, 1755,
flames and columns of smoke were seen to rise from a newly-formed fissure in
the rock of Alvidras, near the city.  The smoke in this case became more
dense as the subterranean noise increased in intensity.*

[footnote]  * 'Philos. Transaci.', vol. xlix. p. 414.

At the destruction of Riobamba, in the year 1797, when the shocks were not
attended by any outbreak of the neighboring volcano, a singular mass called
the 'Moya' was uplifted from the earth in numerous continuous conical
elevations, the whole being composed of carbon, crystals of augite, and the
silicious shields of infusoria.  The eruption of carbonic acid gas from
fissures in the Valley of the Magdalene, during the earthquake of New
Granada, on the 16th of November, 1827, suffocated many snakes, rats, and
other animals.  Sudden changes of weather, as the occurrence of the rainy
season in the tropics, at an unusual period of the year, have sometimes
succeeded violent earthquakes in Quito and Peru.  Do gaseous fluids rise
from the interior of the earth, and mix with the atmosphere? or are these
meteorological processes the action of atmospheric electricity disturbed by
the earthquake?  In the tropical regions of America, where sometimes not a
drop of rain falls for ten months together, the natives consider the
repeated shocks of earthquakes, which do not endanger the low reed huts, as
auspicious harbingers of fruitfulness and abundant rain.

p 214
The intimate connection of the phenomena which we have considered is still
hidden in obscurity.  Elastic fluids are doublessly the cause of the slight
and perfectly harmless trembling of the earth's surface, which has often
continued several days (as in 1816, at Scaccia, in Sicily, before the
volcanic elevation of the island of Julia), as well as of the terrific
explosions accompanied by loud noise.  The focus of this destructive agent,
the seat of the moving force, lies far below the earth's surface; but we
know as little of the extent of this depth as we know of the chemical nature
of these vapors that are so highly compressed.  At the edges of two craters,
Vesuvius, and the towering rock which projects beyond the great abyss of
Pichincha, near Quito, I have felt periodic and very regular shocks of
earthquakes, on each occasion from 20 to 30 seconds before the burning
scoriae or gases were erupted.  The intensity of the shocks was increased in
proportion to the time intervening between them, and, consequently, to the
length of time in which the vapors were accumulating.  This simple fact,
which has been attested by the evidence of so many travelers, furnishes us
with a general solution of the phenomenon, in showing that active volcanoes
are to be considered as safety-valves for the immediate neighborhood.  The
danger of earthquakes increases when the openings of the volcano are closed,
and deprived of free communication with the atmosphere; but the destruction
of Lisbon, of Caraccas, of Lima, of Cashmir in 1554,* and of so many cities
of Calabria, Syria, and Asia Minor, shows us, on the whole, that the force
of the shock is not the greatest in the neighborhood of active volcanoes.

[footnote]  *On the frequency of earthquakes in Cashmir, see Troyer's German
translation of the ancient 'Radjataringini', vol. ii., p. 297, and Carl
Hugel, 'Reisen', bd. ii., s. 184.

As the impeded activity of the volcano acts upon the shocks of the earth's
surface, so do the latter react on the volcanic phenomena.  Openings of
fissures favor the rising of cones of eruption, and the processes which take
place in these cones, by forming a free communication with the atmosphere.
A column of smoke, which had been observed to rise for months together from
the volcano of Pasto, in South America, suddenly disappeared, when on the
4th of February, 1797, the province of Quito, situated at a distance of 192
miles to the south, suffered from the great earthquake of Riobamba.  After
the earth had continued to tremble for some time through out the whole of
Syria, in the Cyclades, and in Euboea, the shocks suddenly ceased on the
eruption of a stream of hot mud
p 215
on the Lelantine plains near Chalcia.*

[footnote]  * Strabo, lib. i., p. 100, Casaub.  That the expression [Greek
words] does not mean erupted mud, but lava, is obvious from a passage in
Strabo, lib. vi., p. 412.  Compare Walter, in his 'Abnahme der Vulkanischen
Thatigkeit in Historischen Zeiten' (On the Decrease of Volcanic Activity
during Historical Times), 1844, s. 25.

The intelligent geographer of Amasea, to whom we are indebted for the notice
of this circumstance, further remarks:  "Since the craters of Aetna have
been opened, which yield a passage to the escape of fire, and since burning
masses and water have been ejected, the country near the sea-shore has not
been so much shaken as at the time previous to the separation of Sicily from
Lower Italy, when all communications with the external surface were closed."

We thus recognize in earthquakes the existence of a volcanic force, which,
although every where manifested, and as generally diffused as the internal
heat of our planet, attains but rarely, and then only at separate points,
sufficient intensity to exhibit the phenomenon of eruptions.  The formation
of veins, that is to say, the filling up of fissures with crystalline masses
bursting forth from the interior (as basalt, melaphyre, and greenstone),
gradually disturbs the free intercommunication of elastic vapors.  This
tension acts in three different ways, either in causing disruptions, or
sudden and retroversed elevations, or, finally, as was first observed in a
great part of Sweden, in producing changes in the relative level of the sea
and land, which, although continuous, are only appreciable at intervals of
long period.

Before we leave the important phenomena which we have considered not so much
in their individual characteristics as in their general physical and
geognostical relations, I would advert to the deep and peculiar impression
left on the mind by the first earthquake which we experience, eeven where it
is not attended by any subterranean noise.*

[footnote]  *[Dr. Tschudi, in his interesting work, 'Travels in Peru',
translated from the German by Thomasina Ross, p. 170, 1847, describes
strikingly the effect of an earthquake upon the native and upon the
stranger.  "No familiarity with the phenomenon can blunt this feeling.  The
inhabitant of Lima, who from childhood has frequently witnessed these
convulsions of nature, is roused from his sleep by the shock, and rushes
from his apartment with the cry of 'Misericordia!'  The foreigner from the
north of Europe, who knows nothing of earthquakes but by description, waits
with impatience to feel the movement of the earth, and longs to hear with
his own ear the subterranean sounds which he has hitherto considered
fabulous.  With levity he treats the apprehension of a coming convulsion,
and laughs at the fears of the natives:  but, as soon as his wish is
gratified, he is terror-stricken, and is involuntarily prompted to seek
safety in flight."] -- Tr.

This impression is not,
p 216
in my opinion, the result of a recollection of those fearful pictures of
devastation presented to our imaginations by the historical narratives of
the past, but is rather due to the sudden revelation of the delusive nature
of the inherent faith by which we had clung to a belief in the immobility of
the solid parts of the earth.  We are accustomed from early childhood to
draw a contrast between the mobility of water and the immobility of the soil
on which we tread; and this feeling is confirmed by the evidence of our
senses.  When, therefore, we suddenly feel the ground move beneath us, a
mysterious and natural force, with which we are previously unacquainted, is
revealed to us as an active disturbance of stability.  A moment destroys the
illusion of a whole life; our deceptive faith in the repose of nature
vanishes, and we feel transported, as it were, into a realm of unknown
destructive forces.  Every sound -- the faintest motion in the air --
arrests our attention, and we no longer trust the ground on which we stand.
Animals, especially dogs and swine, participate in the same anxious
disquietude; and even the crocodiles of the Orinoco, which are at other
times as dumb as our little lizards, leave the trembling bed of the river,
and run with loud cries into the adjacent forests.

To man the earthquake conveys an idea of some universal and unlimited
danger.  We may flee from the crater of a volcano in active eruption, or
from the dwelling whose destruction is threatened by the approach of the
lava stream; but in an earthquake, direct our flight whithersoever we will,
we still feel as if we trod upon the very focus of destruction.  This
condition of the mind is not of long duration, although it takes its origin
in the deepest recesses of our nature; and when a series of faint shocks
succeed one another, the inhabitants of the country soon lose every trace of
fear.  On the coasts of Peru, where rain and hail are unknown, no less than
the rolling thunder and the flashing lightning, these luminous explosions of
the atmosphere are replaced by the subterranean noises which accompany

[footnote]  *["Along the whole coast of Peru the atmosphere is almost
uniformly in a state of repose.  It is not illuminated by the lightning's
flash, or disturbed by the roar of the thunder; no deluges of rain, no
fierce hurricanes, destroy the fruits of the fields, and with them the hopes
of the husbandman.  But the mildness of the elements above ground is
frightfully counterbalanced by their subterranean fury.  Lima is frequently
visited by earthquakes, and several times the city has been reduced to a
mass of ruins.  At an average, forty-five shocks may be counted on in the
year.  Most of them occur in the later part of October, in November,
December, January, May, and June.  Experience gives reason to expect the
visitation of two desolating earthquakes in a century.  The period between
the two is from forty to sixty years.  The most considerable catastrophes
experienced in Lima since Europeans have visited the west coast of South
America happened in the years 1586, 1630, 1687, 1713, 1746, 1806.  There is
reason to fear that in the course of a few years this city may be the prey
of another such visitation."] --Tr.

Long habit, and the very
p 217
prevalent opinion that dangerous shocks are only to be apprehended two or
three times in the course of a century, cause faint oscillations of the soil
to be regarded in Lima with scarcely more attention than a hail storm in the
temperate zone.

Having thus taken a general view of the activity -- the inner life, as it
were -- of the Earth, in respect to its internal heat, its electro-magnetic
tension, its emanation of light at the poles, and its irregularly-recurring
phenomena of motion, we will now proceed to the consideration of the
material products, the chemical changes in the earth's surface, and the
composition of the atmosphere, which are all dependent on planetary vital
activity.  We see issue from the ground steam and gaseous carbonic acid,
almost always free from the admixture of nitrogen;* carbureted hydrogen gas,
which has been used in the Chinese province Sse-tschuan** for several
thousand years, and recently in the village of Fredonia, in the State of New
York, United States, in cooking and for illumination; sulphureted hydrogen
gas and sulphurous vapors; and, more rarely,*** sulphurous and hydrochloric

[footnote]  * Bischof's comprehensive work, 'Warmelchere des inneren

[footnote]  **On the Artesian fire-springs (Ho-tsing) in China, and the
ancient use of portable gas (in bamboo canes) in the city of Khiung-tsheu,
see Klaproth, in my 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 519-530.

[footnote]  *** Boussingault ('Annales de Chimie', t. lii., p. 181) observed
no evolution of hydrochloric acid from the volcanoes of New Granada, while
Monticelli found it in enormous quantity in the eruption of Vesuvius in 1813.

[footnote]  ****[Of the gaseous compounds of sulphur, one, sulphurous acid,
appears to predominate chiefly in volcanoes possessing a certain degree of
activity, while the other, sulphureted hydrogen, has been most frequently
perceived among those in a dormant condition.  The occurrence of abundant
exhalations of sulphuric acid, which have been hitherto noticed chiefly in
extinct volcanoes, as for instance, in a stream issuing from that of Purace,
between Bogota and Quito, from extinct volcanoes in Java, is satisfactorily
explained in a recent paper by M. Dumas, 'Annales de Chimie', Dec., 1846.
He shows that when sulphureted hydrogen, at a temperature above 100 degrees
Fahr., and still better when near 190 degrees, comes in contact with certain
porous bodies, a catalytic action is set up, by which water, sulphuric acid,
and sulphur are produced.  Hence probably the vast deposits of sulphur,
associated with sulphates of lime and strontian, which are met with in the
western parts of Sicily.] -- Tr.

Such effusions
p 218
from the fissures of the earth not only occur in the districts of still
burning or long-extinguished volcanoes, but they may likewise be observed
occasionally in districts where neither trachyte nor any other volcanic
rocks are exposed on the earth's surface.  In the chain of Quindiu I have
seen sulphur deposited in mica slate from warm sulphurous vapor at an
elevation of 6832 feet* above the level of the sea, while the same species
of rock, which was formerly regarded as primitive, contains, in the Cerro
Cuello, near Tiscan, south of Quito, an immense deposit of sulphur imbedded
in pure quartz.

[footnote]  * Humboldt, 'Recucil d'Observ. Astronomiques', t. i., p. 311
('Nivellement Barometrique de la Cordillere des Andes', No. 206).

Exhalations of carbonic acid ('mofettes') are even in our days to be
considered as the most important of all gaseous emanations, with respect to
their number and the amount of their effusion.  We see in Germany, in the
deep valleys of the Eifel, in the neighborhood of the Lake of Laach,* in the
crater-like valley of the Wehr and in Western Bohemia, exhalations of
carbonic acid gas manifest themselves as the last efforts of volcanic
activity in or near the foci of an earlier world.

[footnote]  *[The Lake of Laach, in the district of the Eifel, is an expanse
of water two miles in circumference.  The thickness of the vegetation on the
sides of its crater-like basin renders it difficult to discover the nature
of the subjacent rock, but it is probably composed of black cellular augitic
lava.  The sides of the crater present numerous loose masses, which appear
to have been ejected, and consist of glassy feldspar, ice-spar, sodalite,
hauyne, spinellane, and leucite.  The resemblance between these products and
the masses formerly ejected from Vesuvius is most remarkable.  (Daubeney 'On
Volcanoes', p. 81.)  Dr. Hibbert regards the Lake of Laach as formed in the
first instance by a crack caused by the cooling of the crust of the earth,
which was widened afterward into a circular cavity by the expansive force of
elastic vapors.  See 'History of the Extinct Volcanoes of the Basin of
Neuwied', 1832.] -- Tr.

In those earlier periods, when a higher terrestrial temperature existed, and
when a great number of fissures still remained unfilled, the processes we
have described acted more powerfully, and carbonic acid and hot steam were
mixed in larger quantities in the atmosphere, from whence it follows, as
Adolph Bronguiart has ingeniously shown,* that the primitive vegetable world
must have exhibited almost every where, and independently of geographical
position, the most luxurious abundance and the fullest development of

[footnote]  *Adolph Bronguiart, in the 'Annales des Sciences Naturelles', t.
xv., p. 225.

In these constantly warm and damp atmospheric strata, saturated with
p 219
carbonic acid, vegetation must have attained a degree of vital activity, and
derived the superabundance of nutrition necessary to furnish materials for
the formation of the beds of lignite (coal) constituting the inexhaustible
means on which are based the physical power and prosperity of nations.  Such
masses are distributed in basins over certain parts of Europe, occurring in
large quantities in the British Islands, in Belgium, in France, in the
provinces of the Lower Rhine, and in Upper Silesia.  At the same primitive
period of universal volcanic activity, those enormous quantities of carbon
must also have escaped from the earth which are contained in limestone
rocks, and which, if seprated from oxygen and reduced to a solid form, would
constitute about the eighth part of the absolute bulk of these mountain

[footnote]  * Bischof, op. cit., s. 324, Anm. 2.

That portion of the carbon which was not taken up by alkaline earths, but
remained mixed with the atmosphere, as carbonic acid, was gradually consumed
by the vegetation of the earlier stages of processes of vegetable life, only
retained the small quantity which it now possesses, and which is not
injurious to the sulphurous vapor have occasioned the destruction of the
species of mollusca and fish which inhabited the inland waters of the
earlier world, and have given rise to the formation of the contorted beds of
gypsum, which have doubtless been frequently affected by shocks of

Gaseous and liquid fluids, mud, and molten earths, ejected from the craters
of volcanoes, which are themselves only a kind of "intermittent springs,"
rise from the earth under precisely analogous physical relations.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 43.

All these substances owe their temperature and their chemical character to
the place of their origin.  The 'mean' temperature of aqueous springs is
less than that of the air at the point whence they emerge, if the water flow
from a height; but their heat increases with the depth of the strata with
which they are in contact at their origin.  We have already spoken of the
numerical law regulating this increase.  The blending of waters that have
come from the height of a mountain with those that have sprung from the
depths of the earth, render it difficult to determine the position of the
'isogeothermal lines'* (lines of equal internal
p 220
terrestrial temperature, when this determination is to be made from the
temperature of flowing springs.

[footnote]  *On the theory of isogeothermal (chthonisothermal) lines,
consult the ingenious labors of Kupffer, in Pogg, 'Annalen', bd xv., s. 184,
and bd xxxii., s. 270, in the 'Voyage dans l'Oural', p. 382-298, and in the
'Edinburgh Journal of Science', New Series, vol. iv., p. 355.  See, also,
Kamtz, 'Lehrb. der Meteor.', bd. ii., s. 217; and, on the ascent of the
chthonisothermal lines in mountainous districts, Bischof, s. 174-198.

Such at any rate, is the result I have arrived at from my own observations
and those of my fellow-travelers in Northern Asia.  The temperature of
springs, which has become the subject of such continuous physical
investigation during the last half century, depends, like the elevation of
the line of perpetual snow, on very many simultaneous and deeply-involved
causes.  It is a function of the temperature of the stratum in which they
take their rise, of the specific heat of the soil, and of the quantity and
temperature of the meteoric water,* which is itself different from the
temperature of the lower strata of the atmosphere, according to the
different modes of its origin in rain, snow, or hail.**

[footnote]  *Leop. v. Buch, in Pogg., 'Annalen', bd. xii., s. 405.

[footnote]  ** On the temperature of the drops, of rain in Cumana, which
fell to 72 degrees, when the temperature of the air shortly before had been
86 degrees and 88 degrees, and during the rain sank to 74 degrees, see my
'Relat. Hist.', t. ii., p. 22.  The rain-drops, while falling, change the
normal temperature they originally possessed, which depends on the height of
the clouds from which they fell, and their heating on their upper surface by
the solar rays.  The rain-drops, on their first production, have a higher
temperature than the surrounding medium in the superior strata of our
atmosphere, in consequence of the liberation of their latent heat; and they
continue to rise in temperature, since, in falling through lower and warmer
strata, vapor is precipitated on them, and they thus increase in size
(Bischof, 'Warmelehre des inneren Erdkorpers' s. 73); but this additional
heating is compensated for by evaporation.  The cooling of the air by rain
(putting out of the question what probably belongs to the electric process
in storms) is effected by the drops, which are themselves of lower
temperature, in consequence of the cold situation in which they were formed,
and bring down with them a portion of the higher colder air, and which
finally, by moistening the ground, give rise to evaporation.  The cooling of
the air by rain (putting out of the question what probably belongs to the
electric process in storms) is effected by the drops, which are themselves
of lower temperature, in consequence of the cold situation in which they
were formed, and bringi down with them a portion of the higher colder air,
and which finally, by moistening the ground, give rise to evaporation.
These are the ordinary relations of the phenomenon.  When, as occasionally
happens, the rain-drops are warmer than the lower strata of the atmosphere
(Humboldt, 'Rel. Hist.', t. iii., p. 513), the cause must probably be sought
in higher warmer currents, or in a higher temperature of widely-extended and
not very thick clouds, from the action of the sun's rays.  How, moreover,
the phenomenon of supplementary rainbows, which are explained by the
interference of light, is connected with the original and increasing size of
the falling drops, and how an optical phenomenon, if we know how to observe
it accurately, may enlighten us regarding a meteorological process,
according to diversity of zone, has been shown, with much talent and
ingenuity, by Arago, in the 'Annuaire' for 1836, p. 300.

Cold springs can only indicate the mean atmospheric temperature
p 221
when they are unmixed with the waters rising from great depths, or
descending from considerable mountain elevations, and when they have passed
through a long course at a depth from the surface of the earth which is
equal in our latitudes to 40 or 60 feet, and according to Boussingault, to
about one foot in the equinoctial regions,* these being the depths at which
the invariability of the temperature begins in the temperate and torrid
zones, that is to say, the depths at which horary, diurnal, and monthly
changes of heat in the atmosphere cease to be perceived.

[footnote]  * The profound investigations of Boussingault fully convince me,
that in the tropics, the temperature of the ground, at a very slight depth,
exactly corresponds with the mean temperature of the air.  The following
instances are sufficient to illustrate this fact:

Stations     Temperature at  Mean         Height, in
within       1 French foot   Temperature  English
Tropic       [1.006 of the   of the       feet, above
Zones.       English foot]   air.         the level
             below the                    of the sea.
             earth's surface.

Guayaquil       78.8          78.1                0
Anserma Nuevo   74.6          74.8             3444
Zupia           70.7          70.7             4018
Popayan         64.7          65.6             5929
Quito           59.9          59.9             9559

The doubts about the temperature of the earth within the tropics, of which I
am probably, in some degree, the cause, by my observations on the Cave of
Caripe (Cueva del Guacharo), 'Rel. Hist.', t. iii., p. 191-196), are
resolved by the consideration that I compared the presumed mean temperature
of the air of the convent of Caripe, 65.3 degrees, not with the temperature
of the air of the cave, 65.6 degrees, but with the temperature of the
subterranean stream, 62.3degrees, although I observed ('Rel. Hist.', t.
iii., p. 146 and 195) that mountain water from a great height might probably
be mixed with the water of the cave.

Hot springs issue from the most various kinds of rocks.  The hottest
permanent springs that have hitherto been observed are, as my own researches
confirm, at a distance from all volcanoes.  I will here advert to a notice
in my journal of the Aguas Calientes de las Trincheras', in South America,
between Porto Cabello and Nueva Valencia, and the 'Aguas de Comangillas', in
the Mexican territory, near Guanaxuato; the former of these, which issued
from granite, had a temperature of 194.5 degrees; the latter, issuing from
basalt, 205.5degrees.  The depth of the source from whence the water flowed
with this temperature, judging from what we know of the law of the increase
of heat in the interior of the earth, was probably 7140 feet, or above two
miles.  If the universally-diffused terrestrial heat be the cause of thermal
springs, as of active volcanoes, the rocks can only exert an influence by
the different capacities
p 222
for heat and by their conducting powers.  The hottest of all permanent
springs (between 203 degrees and 209 degrees) are likewise, in a most
remarkable degree, the purest, and such as hold in solution the smallest
quantity of mineral substances.  Their temperature appears, on the whole, to
be less constant than that of springs between 122 degrees and 165 degrees,
which in Europe, at least, have maintained, in a most remarkable manner,
their 'invariability of heat and mineral contents' during the last fifty or
sixty years, a period in which thermometrical measurements and chemical
analyses have been applied with increasing exactness.  Boussingault found in
1823 that the thermal springs of Las Tricheras had risen 12 degrees during
the twenty-three years that had intervened since my travels in 1800.*

[footnote]  *Boussingault, in the 'Annales de chimie', t. lii., p. 181.  The
spring of Chaudes Aigues, in Auvergne, is only 176degrees.  It is also to be
observed, that while the Aguas Calientes de las Trincheras, south of Porto
Cabello (Venezuela), springing from granite cleft in regular beds, and far
from all volcanoes, have a temperature of fully 206.6 degrees, all the
springs which rise in the vicinity of still active volcanoes (Pasto,
Cotopaxi, and Tunguragua) have a temperature of only 97 - 130 degrees.

This calmly-flowing spring is therefore now nearly 12 degrees hotter than
the intermittent fountains of the Geyser and the Strokr, whose temperature
has recently been most carefully determined by Krug of Nidda.  A very
striking proof of the origin of hot springs by the sinking of cold meteoric
water into the earth, and by its contact with a volcanic focus, is afforded
by the volcano of Jorulla in Mexico, which was unknown before my American
journey.  When, in September, 1759, Jorullo was suddenly elevated into a
mountain 1183 feet above the level of the surrounding plain, two small
rivers, the 'Rio de Cuitimba' and 'Rio de San Pedro', disappeared, and some
time afterward burst forth again, during violent shocks of an earthquake, as
hot springs, whose temperature I found in 1803 to be 186.4 degrees.

The springs in Greece still evidently flow at the same places as in the
times of Hellenic antiquity.  The spring of Erasinos, two hours' journey to
the south of Argos, on the declivity of Chaon, is mentioned by Herodotus.
At Delphi we still see Cassotis (now the springs of St. Nicholas) rising
south of the Lesche, and flowing beneath the Temple of Apollo; Castalia, at
the foot of Phaedriadae; Pirene, near Acro-Corinth; and the hot baths of
Aedipsus, in Euboea, in which Sulla bathed during the Mithridatic war.*

[footnote]  *Cassotis (the spring of St. Nicholas) and Castalia, at the
Phaedriadae, mentioned in Pausanias, x., 24, 25, and x., 8, 9; Pirene
(Acro-Corinth), in Strabo, p. 379; the spring of Erasinos, at Mount Chaon,
south of Argos, in Herod., vi., 67, and Pausanias, ii., 24, 7; the springs
of Aedipsus in Euboea, some of which have a temperature of 88 degrees, while
in others it ranges between 144) qne 167 degrees, in Strabo, p. 60 and 447,
and Athenaeus, ii., 3, 73; the hot springs of Thermopylae, at the foot of
Oeta, with a temperature of 149 degrees.  All from manuscript notes by
Professor Curtius, the learned companion of Otfried Muller.

I advert with pleasure to these
p 223
facts, as they show us that, even in a country subject to frequent and
violent shocks of earthquakes, the interior of our planet has retained for
upward of 2000 years its ancient configuration in reference to the course of
the open fissures that yield a passage to these waters.  The 'Fontaine
jaillissante' of Lillers, in the Department des Pas de Calais, which was
bored as early as the year 1126, still rises to the same height and yields
the same quantity of water; and, as another instance, I may mention that the
admirable geographer of the Caramanian coast, Captain Beaufort, saw in the
district of Phaselis the same flame fed by emissions of inflammable gas
which was described by Pliny as the flame of the Lycian Chimera.*

[footnnote]  (Pliny, ii., 106; Seneca, 'Epist.' 79, 3, ed. Ruhkopf
(Beaufort, 'Survey of the Coast of Karamania', 1820, art. Yanar, near
Delktasch, the ancient Phaselis, p. 24).  See also Ctesias, 'Fragm.', cap.
10  p. 250, ed. Bahr; Strabo, lib. xiv., p. 666, Casaub.
["Not far from the Deliktash, on the side of a mountain, is the perpetual
fire described by Captain Beaufort.  The travelers found it as brilliant as
ever, and even somewhat increased; for, besides the large flame in the
corner of the ruins described by Beaufort, there were small jets issuing
from crevices in the side of the crater-like cavity five or six feet deep.
At the bottom was a shallow pool of sulphureous and turbid water, regarded
by the Turks as a sovereign remedy for all skin complaints.  The soot
deposited from the flames was regarded as efficacious for sore eyelids, and
valued as a dye for the eyebrows."  See the highly interesting and accurate
work, 'Travels in Lycia', by Lieut. Spratt and Professor E. Forbes.] -- Tr.

The observation made by Arago in 1821, that the deepest Artesian wells are
the warmest,* threw great light on the origin of thermal springs, and on the
establishment of the law that terrestrial heat increases with increasing

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire pour' 1835, p. 234.

It is a remarkable fact, which has but recently been noticed, that at the
close of the third century, St. Patricus,* probably Bishop of Pertusa, was
led to adopt very correct views regarding the phenomenon of the hot springs
at Carthage.

[footnote]  *'Acta S. Patricii', p. 555, ed. Ruinart, t. ii., p. 385,
Mazochi.  Dureau de la Malle was the first to draw attention to this
remarkable passage in the 'Recherches sur la Topographie de Carthage', 1835,
p. 276.  (See, also, Seneca, 'Nat. Quaest.', iii., 24.)

On being asked what was the cause of boiling water bursting from the earth,
he replied, "Fire is nourished in the clouds and in the interior
p 224
of the earth, as Aetna and other mountains near Naples may teach you.  The
subterranean waters rise as if through siphons.  The cause of hot springs is
this:  waters which are more remote from the subterranean fire are colder,
while those which rise nearer the fire are heated by it, and bring with them
to the surface which we inhabit an insupportable degree of heat."

As earthquakes are often accompanied by eruptions of water and vapors, we
recognize in the 'Salses',* of small mud volcanoes, a transition from the
changing phenomena presented by these eruptions of vapor and thermal springs
to the more powerful and awful activity of the streams of lava that flow
from volcanic mountains.

[footnote]  *[True volcanoes, as we have seen, generate sulphureted hydrogen
and muriatic acid, upheave tracts of land, and omit streams of melted
feldspathic materials; salses, on the contrary, disengage little else but
carbureted hydrogen, together with bitumen and other products of the
distillation of coal, and pour forth no other torrents except of mud, or
argillaceous materials mixed up with water.  Daubeney, op cit., p. 540.] --

If we consider these mountains as springs of molten earths producing
volcanic rocks, we must remember that thermal water, when impregnated with
carbonic acid and sulphurous gases, are continually forming horizontally
ranged strata of limestone (travertine) or conical elevations, as in
Northern Africa (in Alberia), and in the Banos of Caxamarca, on the western
declivity of the Peruvian Cordilleras.  The travertine of Van Diemen's Land
(near Hobart Town) contains, according to Charles Darwin, remains of a
vegetation that no longer exists.  Lava and travertine, which are constantly
forming before our eyes, present us with the two extremes of geognostic

'Salses' deserve more attention than they have hitherto received from
geognosists.  Their grandeur has been overlooked because of the two
conditions to which they are subject; it is only the more peaceful state, in
which they may continue for centuries, which has generally been described:
their origin is, however, accompanied by earthquakes, subterranean thunder,
the elevation of a whole district, and lofty emissions of flame of short
duration.  When the mud volcano of Jokmali began to form on the 27th of
November, 1827, in the peninsula of Abscheron, on the Caspian Sea, east of
Baku, the flames flashed up to an extraordinary height for three hours,
while during the next twenty hours they scarcely rose three feet above the
crater, from which mud was ejected.  Near the village of Baklichli, west of
Baku, the flames rose so high that
p 225
they could be seen at a distance of twenty-four miles.  Enormous masses of
rock were torn up and scattered around.  Similar masses may be seen round
the now inactive mud volcano of Monte Ziblo, near Sassuolo, in Northern
Italy.  The secondary condition of repose has been maintained for upward of
fifteen centuries in the mud volcanoes of Girgenti, the 'Macalubi', in
Sicily, which have been described by the ancients.  These salses consist of
many contitiguous conical hills, from eight to ten, or even thirty feet in
height, subject to variations of elevation as well as of form.  Streams of
argillaceous mud, attended by a periodic development of gas, flow from the
small basins at the summits, which are filled with water; the mud, although
usualy cold is sometimes at a high temperature, as at Damak, in the province
of Samarang, in the island of Java.  The gases that are developed with loud
noise differ in their nature consisting for instance, of hydrogen mixed with
naphtha, or of carbonic acid, or, as Parrot and myself have shown (in the
peninsula of Taman, and in the 'Volcancitos de Turbaco', in South America),
of almost pure nitrogen.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Rel. Hist.', t. iii., p. 562-567; 'Asie Centrale',
t. i., p. 43; t. ii., p. 505-515; 'Vues des Cordilleres', pl. xli.
Regarding the 'Macalubi', the 'overthrown' or 'inverted', from the word
'Khalaba'), and on "the Earth ejecting fluid earth," see Solinus, cap. 5:
"idem ager Agrigentinus eructat limosas scaturigenes, et ut venae fontium
sufficiunt rivis subjinistrandis, ita in hac Sicilae parte solo munquam
deficiente, Aeterna rejectatione terram terra evomit."

Mud volcanoes, after the first violent explosion of fire, which is not,
perhaps, in an equal degree common to all, present to the spectator an image
of the uninterrupted but weak activity of the interior of our planet.  The
communication with the deep strata in which a high temperature prevails is
soon closed, and the coldness of the mud emissions of the salses seems to
indicate that the seat of the phenomenon can not be far removed from the
surface during their ordinary condition.  The reaction of the interior of
the earth on its external surface is exhibited with totally different force
in true volcanoes or igneous mountains, at points of the earth in which a
permanent, or, at least, continually-renewed connection with the volcanic
force is manifested.  We must here carefully distinguish between the more or
less intensely developed volcanic phenomena, as for instance, between
earthquakes, thermal, aqueous, and gaseous springs, mud volcanoes, and the
appearance of bell-formed or dome-shaped trachytic rocks without openings;
the opening of these rocks, or of the elevated beds of basalt, as
p 226
craters of elevation; and, lastly, the elevation of a permanent volcano in
the crater of elevation, or among the 'debris' of its earlier formation.  At
different periods, and in different degrees of activity and force, the
permanent volcanoes emit steam acids, luminous scoriae, or, when the
resistance can be overcome, narrow, band-like streams of molten earths.
Elastic vapors sometimes elevate either separate portions of the earth's
crust into dome-shaped unopened masses of feldspathic trachyte and dolerite
(as in Puy de Dome and Chimborazo), in consequence of some great or local
manifestation of force in the interior of our planet, or the upheaved strata
are broken through and curved in such a manner as to form a steep rocky
ledge on the opposite inner side, which then constitutes the inclosure of a
crater of elevation.  If this rocky ledge has been uplifted from the bottom
of the sea, which is by no means always the case, it determines the whole
physiognomy and form of the island.  In this manner has arisen the circular
form of Palma, which has been described with such admirable accuracy by
Leopold von Buch, and that of Nisyros,* in the Aegean sea.

[footnote]  *See the interesting little map of the island of Nisyros, in
Roise's 'Reisen auf den Griechischen Inseln', bd. ii., 1843, s. 69.

Sometimes half of the annular ledge has been destroyed, and in the bay
formed by the encroachment of the sea corallines have built their cellular
habitations.  Even on continents craters of elevation are often filled with
water, and embellish in a peculiar manner the character of the landscape.
Their origin is not connected with any determined species of rock:  they
break out in basalt, trachyte, leucitic porphyry (somma), or in doleritic
mixtures of augite and labradorite; and hence arise the different nature and
external conformation of these inclosures of craters.  No phenomena of
eruption are manifested in such craters, as they open no permanent channel
of communication with the interior, and it is but seldom that we meet with
traces of volcanic activity either in the neighborhood or in the interior of
these craters.  The force which was able to produce so important an action
must have been long accumulating in the interior before it could overpower
the resistance of the mass pressing upon it; it sometimes, for instance, on
the origin of new islands, will raise granular rocks and conglomerated
masses (strata of tufa filled with marine plants) above the surface of the
sea.  The compressed vapors escape through the crater of elevation, but a
large mass soon falls back and closes the opening, which had been only
formed by these manifestations of force.  No volcano can, therefore,
be produced.*

[footnote]  *Leopold von Buch, 'Phys. Beschreibung der Canarischen Inseln',
s. 326; and his Memoir 'uber Erhebungscratere und Vulcane', in Poggend.,
'Annal.', bd. xxxvii., s. 169.
In his remarks on the separation of Sicily from Calabria, Strbo gives an
excellend description of the two modes in which islands are formed:  "Some
islands," he observes (lib. vi., p. 258, ed. Casaub.), "are fragments of the
continent, others have arisen from the sea, as even at the present time is
known to happen; for the islands of the great ocean, lying far from the main
land, have probably been raised from its depths, while, on the other hand,
those near promontories appear (according to reason) to have been separated
from the continent."

A volcano, properly so called, exists only where a permanent connection is
established between the interior of the earth and the atmosphere, and the
reaction of the interior on the surface then continues during long periods
of time.  It may be interrupted for centuries, as in the case of Vesuvius
Fisove,* and then manifest itself with renewed activity.

[footnote]  *Ocre Fisove (Mons Vesuvius) in the Umbrian language.  (Lassen
'Deutung der Eugubinischen Tafeln in Rhein. Museum', 1832, s. 387.)  The
word 'ochre' is very probaby genuine Umbrian, and means, according to
Festus, 'mountain'.  Aetna would be a burning and shining mountain, if Voss
is correct in stating that [Greek work] is an Hellenic sound, and is
connected with [Greed word] and [Greek word]; but the intelligent writer
Parthey doubts this Hellenic origin on etymological grounds, and also
because etna was by no means regarded as a luminous beacon for ships or
wanderers, in the same manner as the ever-travailing Stromboli (Strongyle),
to which Homer seems to refer in the Odyssey (xii., 68, 202, and 219), and
its geographical position was not so well determined.  I suspect that tna
would be found to be a Sicilian word, if we had any fragmentary materials to
refer to.  According to Diodorus (v., 6), the Sicani, or aborigines
preceding the Sicilians, were compelled to fly to the western part of the
island, in the consequence of successive eruptions extending over many
years.  The most ancient eruption of Mount Aetna on record is that mentioned
by Pindar and Schylus, as occurring under Hiero, in the second year of the
75th Olympiad.  It is probable that Hesiod was aware of the devastating
eruptions of Aetna before the period of Greek immigration.  There is,
however, some doubt regarding the work [Greek word] in the text of Hesiod, a
subject into whci I have entered at some length in another place.
(Humboldt, 'Examen Crit. de le Geogr.', t. i., p. 168.)

In the time of Nero, men were disposed to rank Aetna among the volcanic
mountains which were graduallybecoming extinct,* and subsequently Aelian**
even maintained that mariners could no longer see the sinking summit of the
mountain from so great a distance at sea.

[footnote]  *Seaeca.  'Epist.', 79.

[footnote]  ** Aelian, 'Var. Hist.', viii., 11.

Where these evidences -- these old scaffoldings of eruption, I might almost
say -- still exist, the volcano rises from a crater of elevation, while a
high rocky wall surrounds, like an amphitheater, the isolated conical mount,
and forms around it a kind of easing of highly elevated
p 228
strata.  Occasionally not a trace of this inclosure is visible, and the
volcano, which is not always conical rises immediately from the neighboring
plateau in an elongated form, as in the case of Pichincha,* at the foot of
which lies the city of Quito.

[footnote]  *[This mountain contains two funnel-shaped craters, apparently
resulting from two set of eruptions:  the western nearly circular, and
having in its center a cone of eruption, from the summit and sides of which
are no less than seventy vents, some in activity and others extinct.  It is
probable that the larger number of the vents were produced at periods
anterior to history.  Caubney, op. cit., p. 488.] -- Tr.

As the nature of rocks, or the mixture (grouping) of simple minerals into
granite, gneiss, and mica slate, or into trachyte, basalt, and dolorite, is
independent of existing climates, and is the same under the most varied
latitudes of the earth, so also we find every where in inorganic nature that
the same laws of configuration regulate the reciprocal superposition of the
strata of the earth's crust, cause them to penetrate one another in the form
of veins, and elevate them by the agency of elastic forces.  This constant
recurrence of the same phenomena is most strikingly manifested in volcanoes.
 When the mariner, amid the islands of some distant archipelago, is no
longer guided by the light of the same stars with which he had been familiar
in his native latitude, and sees himself surrounded by palms and other forms
of an exotic vegetation, he still can trace, reflected in the individual
characteristics of the landscape, the forms of Vesuvius, of the come-shaped
summits of Auvergne, the craters of elevation in the Canaries and Azores, or
the fissures of eruption in Iceland.  A glance at the satellite of our
planet will impart a wider generalization to this analogy of configuration.
by means of the charts that have been drawn in accordance with the
observations made with large telescopes, we may recognize in the moon, where
water and air are both absent, vast craters of elevation surrounding or
supporting conical mountains, thus affording incontrovertible evidence of
the effects produced by the reaction of the interior on the surface, favored
by the influence of a feebler force of gravitation.

Although vocanoes are justy termed in many languages "fire-emitting
mountains," mountains of this kind are not formed by the gradual
accumulation of ejected currents of lava, but their origin seems rather to
be a general consequence of the sudden elevation of soft masses of trachyte
or labradoritic augite.  The amount of the elevating force is manifested
p 229
by the elevation of the volcano, which varies from the inconsiderable height
of a hill (as the volcano of Cosima, one of the Japanese Kurile islands) to
that of a cone above 19,000 feet in height.  It has appeared to me that
relations of height have a great influence on the occurrence of eruptions,
which are more frequent in low than in elevated volcanoes.  I might instance
the series presented by the following mountains:  Stromboli, 2318 feet;
Guacamayo, in the province of Quixos, from which detonations are heard
almost daily (I myself often heard them at Chillo, near Quito, a distance of
eighty-eight miles); Vesuvius, 3876 feet; Aetna, 10871 feet; the Peak of
Teneriffe, 12,175 feet; and Cotopaxi, 19,069 feet.  If the focus of these
volcanoes be at an equal depth below the surface, a greater force must be
required where the fused masses have to be raised to an elevation six or
eight times greater than that of the lower eminences.  While the volcano
Stromboli (Strongyle) has been incessantly active since the Homeric ages,
and has served as a beacon-light to guide the mariner in the Tyrrhenian Sea,
loftier volcanoes have been characterized by loong intervals of quiet.  Thus
we see that a whole century often intervenes between the eruptions of most
of the colossi which crown the summits of the Cordilleras of the Andes.
Where we meet with exceptions to this law, to which I long since drew
attention, they must depend upon the circumstance that the connections
between the volcanic foci and the crater of eruption can not be considered
as equaly permanent in the case of all volcanoes.  The channel of
communication may be closed for a time in the case of the lower ones, so
that they less frequently come to a state of eruption, although they do not,
on that account, approach more nearly to their final extinction.

These relations between the absolute height and the frequency of volcanic
eruptions, as far as they are externally perceptible, are intimately
connected with the consideration of the local conditions under which lava
currents are erupted.  Eruptions from the crater are very unusual in many
mountains, generally occurring from lateral fissures (as was observed in the
case of Aetna, in the sixteenth century, by the celebrated historian Bembo,
when a youth*), whenever the sides
p 230
of the upheaved mountain were least able, from their configuration and
position, to offer any resistance.

[footnote]  *Petri Bembi Opuscula ('Aetna Dialogus'), Basil, 1556, p. 63:
"Quicquid in Aetnae matris utero coulescit, nunquam exit ex cratere
superiore, quod vel eo inscondere gravis materia non queat, vel, quia
inferius alia spiramenta sunt, non fit opus.  Despumant flammis urgentibus
ignei rivi pigro fluxu totas delambentes plagas, et in lapidem indurescunt."

Cones of eruption are sometimes uplifted on these fissures; the larger ones,
which are erroneously termed 'new volcanoes', are ranged together in line
marking the direction of a fissure, which is soon reclosed, while the
smaller ones are grouped together covering a whole district with their
dome-like or hive-shaped forms.  To the latter belong the 'hornitos de
Jorullo',I the cone of Vesuvius erupted in October, 1822, that of Awatscha,
according to Postels, and those of the lava-field mentioned by Erman, near
the Baidar Mountains, in the peninsula of Kamtschatka.

[footnote]  See my drawing of the volcano of Jorullo, of its 'hornitos', and
of the uplifted 'malpays', in my 'Vues de Cordilleres', pl. xliii., p. 239.
[Burckhardt states that during the twenty-four years that have intervened
since Baron Humboldt's visit to Jorullo, the 'hornitos' have either wholly
disappeared or completely changed their forms.  See 'Aufenthalt und Reisen
in Mexico in 1825 und 1834'.] -- Tr.

When volcanoes are not isolated in a plain, but surrounded, as in the double
chain of the Andes of Quito, by a table-land having an elevation from nine
to thirteen thousand feet, this circumstance may probably explain the cause
why no lava streams are formed* during the most dreadful eruption of ignited
scoriae accompanied by detonations heard at a distance of more than a
hundred miles.

[footnote]  * Humboldt, 'Essaii sur la Geogr. des Plantes et Tableau Phys.
des Regions Equinoxiales', 1807, p. 130, and 'Essai Geogn. sur le Gisement
des Roches', p. 321.  Most of the volcanoes in Java demonstrate that the
cause of the perfect absence of lava streams in volcanoes of incessant
activity is not alone to be sought for in their form, position, and height.
Leop. von Buch, 'Descr. Phys. des Iles Canaries', p. 419; Reinwardt and
Hoffmann, in Poggened., 'Annalen.', bd. xii., s. 607.

Such are the volcanoes of Popayan, those of the elevated plateau of Los
Pastos and of the Andes of Quito, with the exception, perhaps, in the case
of the latter, of the volcano of Antisana.  The height of the cone of
cinders, and the size and form of the crater, are elements of configuration
which yield an especial and individual character to volcanoes, although the
cone of cinders and the crater are both wholly independent of the dimensions
of the mountain.  Vesuvius is more than three times lower than the Peak of
Teneriffe; its cone of cinders rises to one third of the height of the whole
mountain, while the cone of cinders of the Peak is only 1/22d of its

[footnote]  * [It may be remarked in general, although the rule is liable to
exceptions, that the dimensions of a crater are in an inverse ratio to the
elevation of the mountain.  Daubeney, op. Cit., p. 444.] -- Tr.

In a much higher volcano than that of Teneriffe, the Rueu Pichincha, other
relations occur
p 231
which approach more nearly to that of Vesuvius.  Among all the volcanoes
that I have seen in the two hemispheres, the conical form of Cotopaxi is the
most beautifully regular.  A sudden fusion of the snow at its cone of
cinders announces the proximity of the eruption.  Before the smoke is
visible in the rarefied strata of air surrounding the summit and the opening
of the crater, the walls of the cone of cinders are sometimes in a state of
glowing heat, when the whole mountain presents an appearance of the most
fearful and portentous blackness.  The crater, which, with very few
exceptions, occupies the summit of the volcano, forms a deep, caldron-like
valley, which is often accessible, and whose bottom is subject to constant
alterations.  The great or lesser depth of the crater is in many volcanoes
likewise a sign of the near or distant occurrence of an eruption.  Long,
narrow fissures, from which vapors issue forth, or small rounding hollows
filled with molten masses, alternately open and close in the caldron-like
valley; the bottom rises and sinks, eminences of scoriae and cones of
eruption are formed, rising sometimes far over the walls of the crater, and
continuing for years together to impart to the volcano a peculiar character,
and then suddenly fall together and disappear during a new eruption.  The
openings of these cones of eruption, which rise from the bottom of the
crater, must not, as is too often done, be confounded with the crater which
incloses them.  If this be inaccessible from extreme depth and from the
perpendicular descent, as in the case of the volcano of Rucu Pichincha,
which is 15,920 feet in height, the traveler may look from the edge on the
summit of the mountains which rise in the sulphurous atmosphere of the
valley at his feet; and I have never beheld a grander or more remarkable
picture than that presented by this volcano.  In the interval between two
eruptions, a crater may either present no luminous appearance, showing
merely open fissures and ascending vapors, or the scarcely heated soil may
be covered by eminences of scoriae, that admit of being approached without
danger, and thus present to the geologist the spectacle of the eruption of
burning and fused masses, which fall back on the ledge of the cone of
scoriae, and whose appearance is regularly announced by small wholly local
earthquakes.  Lava sometimes streams forth from the open fissures and small
hollows, without breaking through or escaping beyond the sides of the
crater.  If, however, it does break through, the newly-opened terrestrial
stream generally flows in such a quiet and well-defined course, that the
deep valley, which we term the crater, remains accessible
p 232
even during periods of eruption.  It is impossible, without an exact
representation of the configuration -- the normal type, as it were, of
fire-emitting mountains, to form a just idea of those phenomena which, owing
to fantastic descriptions and an undefined phraseology, have long been
comprised under the head of 'craters, cones of eruption', and 'volcanoes'.
The marginal ledges of craters vary much less than one would be led to
suppose.  A comparison of Saussure's measurements with my own yields the
remarkable result, for instance, that in the course of forty-nine years
(from 1773 to 1822), the elevation of the northwestern margin of Mount
Vesuvius ('Rocca del Palo') may be considered to have remained unchanged.*

[footnote]  *See the ground-work of my measurements compared with those of
Saussure and Lord Minto, in the 'Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wiss. zu
Berlin' for the years 1822 and 1823.

Volcanoes which, like the chain of the Andes, lift their summits high above
the boundaries of the region of perpetual snow, present peculiar phenomena.
The masses of snow, by their sudden fusion during eruptions, occasion not
only the most fearful inundations and torrents of water, in which smoking
scoriae are borne along on thick masses of ice, but they likewise exercise a
constant action, while the volcano is in a state of perfect repose, by
infiltration into the fissures of the trachytic rock.  Cavities which are
either on the declivity or at the foot of the mountain are gradually
converted into subterranean resevoirs of water, which communicate by
numerous narrow openings with mountain streams, as we see exemplified in the
highlands of Quito.  the fishes of these rivulets multiply, especially in
the obscurity of the hollows; and when the shocks of earthquakes, which
precede all eruptions in the andes, have violently shaken the whole mass of
the volcano, these subterranean caverns are suddenly opened, and water,
fishes, and tufaceous mud are all ejected together.  It is through this
singular phenomenon* that the inhabitants of the highlands of Quito became
acquainted with the existence of the little cyclopic fishes, termed by them
the prenadilla.

[footnote]  *Pimelodes cyclopum.  See Humboldt, 'Recueil d'Observations de
Zoologie et d'Anatomie Comparee', t. i., p. 21-25.

On the night between the 19th and 20th of June, 1698, when the summit of
Carguairazo, a mountain 19,720 feet in height, fell in, leaving only two
huge masses of rock remaining of the ledge of the crater, a space of nearly
thirty-two square miles was overflowed and devastated by streams of liquid
tufa and argillaceous mud ('lodazales'), containing large quantities of dead
p 233
In like manner, the putrid fever, which raged seven years previously in the
mountain town of Ibarra, north of Quito, was ascribed to the ejection of
fish from the volcano of Imbaburu.*

[footnote]  *[It would appear, as there is no doubt that these fishes
proceed from the mountain itself, that there must be large lakes in the
interior, which in ordinary season are out of the immediate influence of the
volcanic action.  See Daubeney, op. cit., p. 488, 497.] -- Tr.

Water and mud, which flow not from the crater itself, but from the hollows
in the trachytic mass of the mountain, can not, strictly speaking, be
classed among volcanic phenomena.  They are only indirectly connected with
the volcanic activity of the mountain, resembling, in that respect, the
singular meteorological process which I have designated in my earlier
writings by the term of 'volcanic storm'.  The hot stream which rises from
the crater during the eruption and spreads itself in the atmosphere,
condenses into a cloud, and surrounds the column of fire and cinders which
rises to an altitude of many thousand feet.  The sudden condensation of the
vapors, and, as Gay-Lussac has shown, the formation of a cloud of enormous
extent, increase the electric tension.  Forked lightning flashes from the
column of cinders, and it is then easy to distinguish (as at the close of
the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, in the latter end of October, 1822) the
rolling thunder of the volcanic storm from the detonations in the interior
of the mountain.  the flashes of lightning that darted from the volcanic
cloud of steam, as we learn from Olafsen's report, killed eleven horses and
two men, on the eruption of the volcano of Katlagia, in Iceland, on the 17th
of October, 1755.

Having thus delineated the structure and dynamic activity of volcanoes, it
now remains for us to throw a glance at the differences existing in their
material products.  The subterranean forces sever old combinations of matter
in order to produce new ones, and they also continue to act upon matter as
long as it is in a state of liquefaction from heat, and capable of being
displaced.  The greater or less pressure under which merely softened or
wholly liquid fluids are solidified, appears to constitute the main
difference in the formation of Plutonic and volcanic rocks.  The mineral
mass which flows in narrow, elongated streams from a volcanic opening (an
earth-spring), is called lava.  where many such currents meet and are
arrested in their course, they expand in width, filling large basins, in
which they become solidified in superimposed strata.  These few sentences
describe the general character of the products of volcanic activity.

p 234
Rocks which are merely broken through by the volcanic action are often
inclosed in the igneous products.  Thus i have found angular fragments of
feldspathic syenite imbedded in the black augitic lava of the volcano of
Jorullo, in Mexico; but the masses of dolomite and granular limestone, which
contain magnificent clusters of crystalling fossils (vesuvian and garnets,
covered with mejonite, nepheline, and sodalite), are not the ejected
products of Vesuvius, these belonging rather to very generally distributed
formations, viz., strata of tufa, which are more ancient than the elevation
of the Somma and of Vesuvius, and are probably the products of a deep-seated
and concealed submarine volcanic action.*

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xxxvii., s. 179.

We find five metals among the products of existing volcanoes, iron, copper,
lead, arsenic, and selenium, discovered by Stromeyer in the crater of

[footnote]  *[The little island of Volcano is separated from Lipari by a
narrow channel.  It appears to have exhibited strong signs of volcanic
activity long before the Christian era, and still emits gaseous exhalations.
 Stromeyer detected the presence of selenium in a mixture of sal ammoniac
and sulphur.  Another product, supposed to be peculiar to this volcano, is
boracic acid, which lines the sides of the cavities in beautiful white silky
crystals.  Daubeney, op. cit., p. 257.] -- Tr.

The vapors that rise from the 'fumarolles' cause the sublimation of the
chlorids of iron, copper, lead, and ammonium; iron glanceI and chlorid of
sodium (the latter often in large quantities) fill the cavities of recent
lava streams and the fissures of the margin of the crater.

[footnote]  *Regarding the chemical origin of iron glance in volcanic
masses, see Mitscherlich, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xv., s. 630; and on
the liberation of hydrochloric acid in the crater, see Gay-Lussac, in the
'Annals de Chimique et de Physique', t. xxii., p. 423.

The mineral composition of lava differs according to the nature of the
crystalline rock of which the volcano is formed, the height of the point
where the eruption occurs, whether at the foot of the mountain or in the
neighborhood of the crater, and the condition of temperature of the
interior.  Vitreous volcanic formations, obsidian, pearl-stone, and pumice,
are entirely wanting in some volcanoes, while in the case of others they
only proceed from the crater, or, at any rate, from very considerable
heights.  These important and involved relations can only be explained by
very accurate crystallographic and chemical investigations.  My
fellow-traveler in Siberia, Gustav Rose, and subsequently Hermann Abich,
have already been able, by their fortunate and ingenious researches, to
throw much light on the structural relations of the various kinds of
volcanic rocks.

p 235
The greater part of the ascending vapor is mere steam.  When condensed, this
forms springs, as in Pantellaria,Iwhere they are used by the goatherds of
the island.

[footnote]  *[Steam issues from many parts of this insular mountain, and
several hot springs gush forth from it, which form together a lake 6000 feet
in circumference.  Daubeney, op. cit.] -- Tr.

On the morning of the 26th of October, 1822, a current was seen to flow from
a lateral fissure of the crater of Vesuvius, and was loong supposed to have
been boiling water; it was, however, shown, by Monticelli's accurate
investigations, to consist of dry ashes, which fell like sand, and of lava
pulverized by friction.  The ashes, which sometimes darken the air for hours
and days together, and produce great injury to the vineyards and olive
groves by adhering to the leaves, indicate by their columnar ascent,
impelled by vapors, the termination of every great eqrthquake.  This is the
magnificent phenomenon which Pliny the younger, in his celebrated letter to
Cornelius Tacitus, compares, in the case of Vesuvius, to the form of a lofty
and thickly-branched and foliaceous pine.  That which is described as flames
in the eruption of scoriae, and the radiance of the glowing red clouds that
hover over the crater, can not be ascribed to the effect of hydrogen gas in
a state of combustion.  They are rather reflections of light which issue
from molten masses, projected high in the air, and also reflections from the
burning depths, whence the glowing vapors ascend.  We will not, however,
attempt to decide the nature of the flames, which are occasionally seen now,
as in the time of Strabo, to rise from the deep sea during the activity of
littoral volcanoes, or shortly before the elevation of a volcanic island.

When the questions are asked, what is it that burns in the volcano? what
excites the heat, fuses together earths and metals, and imparts to lava
currents of thick layers a degree of heat that lasts for many years? it is
necessarily implied that volcanoes must be connected with the existence of
substances capable of maintaining combustion, like the beds of coal in
subterranean fires.

[footnote]  *See the beautiful experiments on the cooling of masses of rock,
in Bischof's 'Warmelehre', s. 384, 443, 500-512.

According to the different phases of chemical science, bitumen, pyrites, the
moist admixture of finely-pulverized sulphur and iron, pyrophoric
substances, and the metals of the alkalies and earths, have in turn been
designated as the cause of intensely active volcanic phenomena.  The great
chemist, Sir Humphrey Davy, to whom we are indebted for the knowledge of the
most combustible metallic
p 236
substances, has himself renounced his bold chemical hypothesis in his last
work ('Consolation in Travel, and last Days of a Philosopher') -- a work
which can not fail to excite in the reader a feeling of the deepest
melancholy.  the great mean density of the earth (5.44), when compared with
the specific weight of potassium (0.865), of sodium (-.972), or of the
metals of the earths (1.2), and the absence of hydrogen gas in the gaseous
emanations from the fissures of craters, and from still warm streams of
lava, besides many chemical considerations, stand in opposition with the
earlier conjectures of Davy and Ampere.*

[footnote]  *See Berzelius and Wohler, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. i., s.
221, and bd. xi., s. 146; Gay-Lussac, in the 'Annals de Chimie', t. x.,
xii., p. 422; and Bischof's 'Reasons against the Chemical Theory of
Volcanoes', in the English edition of his 'Warmelehre', p. 297-309.

If hydrogen were evolved from erupted lava, how great must be the quantity
of the gas disengaged, when, the seat of the volcanic activity being very
low, as in the case of the remarkable eruption at the foot of the Skaptar
Jokul in Iceland (from the 11th of June to the 3d of August, 1783, described
by Mackenzie and Soemund Magnussen), a space of many square miles was
covered by streams of lava, accumulated to the thickness of several hundred
feet!  Similar difficulties are opposed to the assumption of the penetration
of the atmospheric air into the crater, or, as it is figuratively expressed,
the 'inhalation of the earth', when we have regard to the small quantity of
nitrogen emitted.  So general, deep-seated, and far-propagated an activity
as that of volcanoes, can not assuredly have its source in chemical
affinity, or in the mere contact of individual or merely locally distributed
substances.  Modern geognosy* rather seeks the cause of this activity in the
increased temperature with the increase of depth at all degrees of latitude,
in that powerful internal heat which our planet owes to its first
solidification, its formation in the regions of space, and to the spherical
contraction of
p 237
matter revolving elliptically in a gaseous condition.

[footnote]  *[On the various theories that have been advanced in explanation
of volcanic action, see Daubeney 'On Volcanoes', a work to which we have
made continual reference during the preceding pages, as it constitutes the
most recent and perfect compendium of all the important facts relating to
this subject, and is peculiarly adapted to serve as a source of reference to
the 'Cosmos', since the learned author in many instances enters into a full
exposition of the views advanced by Baron Humboldt.  The appendix contains
several valuable notes with reference to the most recent works that have
appeared on the Continent, on subjects relating to volcanoes; among others,
an interesting notice of Professor Bischof's views "on the origin of the
carbonic acid discharged from volcanoes," as enounced in his recently
published work, 'Lehrbuch der Chemischen und Physikalischen Geologie'.] --

We have thus mere conjecture and supposition side by side with certain
knowledge.  A philosophical study of nature strives ever to elevate itself
above the narrow requirements of mere natural description, and does not
consist, as we have already remarked, in the mere accumulation of isolated
facts.  The inquiring and active spirit of man must be suffered to pass from
the present to the past, to conjecture all that can not yet be known with
certainty, and still to dwell with pleasure on the ancient myths of geognosy
which are presented to us under so many various forms.  If we consider
volcanoes as irregular intermittent springs, emitting a fluid mixture of
oxydized metals, alkalies, and earths, flowing gently and calmy wherever
then find a passage, or being upheaved by the powerful expansive force of
vapors, we are involuntarily led to remember the geognostic visions of
Plato, according to which hot springs, as well as all volcanic igneous
streams, were eruptions that might be traced back to one generally
distributed subterranean cause, 'Pyriphlegethon'.*

[footnote]  *According to Plato's geognostic views, as developed in the
'Phaedo', Pyriphlegethon plays much the same part in relation to the
activity of volcanoes that we now ascribe to the augmentation of heat as we
descend from the earth's surface, and to the fused condition of its internal
strata.  ('Phaedo', ed. Ast, p. 603 and 607; Annot., p. 308 and 817.)
"Within the earth, and all around it, are larger and smaller caverns.  Water
flows there in abundance; also much fire and large streams of fire, and
streams of moist mud (some purer and others more filthy), like those in
Sicily, consisting of mud and fire, preceding the great eruption.  These
streams fill all places that fall in the way of their course.
Pyriphlegethon flows forth into an extensive district burning with a fierce
fire, where it forms a lake larger than our sea, boiling with water and mud.
 From thence it moves in circles round the earth, turbid and muddy."  This
stream of molten earth and mud is so much the general cause of volcanic
phenomena, that Plato expressly adds, "thus is Pyriphlegethon constituted,
from which also the streams of fire ([Greek words]), wherever they reach the
earth ([Greek words]), inflate such parts (detached fragments)."  Volcanic
scoriae and lava streams are therefore portions of Pyriphlegethon itself,
portions of the subterranean molten and ever-undulating mass.  That {Greek
words] are lava streams, and not, as Schneider, Passow, and Schleiermacher
will have it, "fire-vomiting mountains," is clear enough from many passages,
some of which have been collected by Ukert ('Geogr. der Griechen und Romer',
th. ii., s. 200): [Greek word] is the volcanic phenomenon in reference to
its most striking characteristic, the lava stream. Hence the expression, the
[Greek word] of Aetna.  Aristot. 'Mirab. Ausc.', t. ii., p. 833; sect. 38,
Bekker; Thucyd., iii., 116; Theophrast., 'De Lap'., 22, p. 427, Schneider;
Diod., v., 6, and xiv., 59, where are the remarkable words, "Many places
near the sea, in the neighborhood of Aetna, were leveled to the ground,
[Greek words];"  Strabo, vi., p. 269; xiii., p. 268, and where there is a
notice of the celebrated burning mud of the Lelantine plains, in Euboea, i.,
p. 58, Casaub.; and Appian, 'De Bello Civili', v., 114.  The blame which
Aristotle throws on the geognostical fantasies of the Phaedo ('Meteor.',
ii., 2, 19) is especially applied to the sources of the rivers flowing over
the earth's surface.  The distinct statement of Plato, that "in Sicily
eruptions of wet mud precede the glowing (lava) stream," is very remarkable.
 Observations on Aetna could not have led to such a statement, unless pumice
and ashes, formed into a mud-like mass by admixture with melted snow and
water, during the volcano-electric storm in the crater of eruption, were
mistaken for ejected mud.  It is more probable that Plato's streams of moist
mud ([Greek words]) originated in a faint recollection of the salses (mud
volcanoes) of Agrigentum, which, as I have already mentioned, eject
argillaceous mud with a loud noise.  It is much to be regretted, in
reference to this subject, that the work of Theophrastus [Greek words] 'On
the Volcanic Stream in Sicily', to which Diog. Laert., v., 49, refers, has
not come down to us.

p 238
The different volcanoes over the earth's surface, when they are considered
independently of all climatic differences, are acutely and
characteristically classified as central and linear volcanoes.  Under the
first name are comprised those which constitute the central point of many
active mouths of eruption, distributed almost regularly in all directions;
under the second, those lying at some little distance from one another,
forming, as it were, chimneys or vents along an extended fissure.  Linear
volcanoes again admit of further subdivision, namely, those which rise like
separate conical islands from the bottom of the sea, being generally
parallel with a chain of primitive mountains, whose foot they appear to
indicate, and those volcanic chains which are elevated on the highest ridges
of these mountain chains, of which they form the summits.*

[footnote]  *Leopold von Buch, 'Physikal. Beschreib. der Canarischen
Inseln', s. 326-407.  I doubt if we can agree with the ingenious Charles
Darwin ('Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands', 1844, p. 127) in
regarding central volcanoes in general as volcanic chains of small extent on
parallel fissures.  Friedrich Hoffman believes that in the group of the
Lipari Islands, which he has so admirably described, and in which two
eruption fissures intersect near Panaria, he has found an intermediate link
between the two principal modes in which volcanoes appear, namely, the
central volcanoes and volcanic chains of Von Buch (Poggendorf, 'Annalen der
Physik', bd. xxvi., s. 81-88).

The Peak of Teneriffe, for instance, is a central volcano, being the central
point of the volcanic group to which the eruption of Palma and Landerote may
be referred.  The long, rampart-like chain of the Andes, which is sometimes
single, and sometimes divided into two or three parallel branches, connected
by various transverse ridges, presents, from the south of Chili to the
northwest coast of America, one of the grandest instances of a continental
volcanic chain.  The proxiimity of
p 239
active volcanoes is always manifested in the chain of the Andes by the
appearance of certain rocks (as dolerite, melaphyre, trachyte, andesite, and
dioritic porphyry), which divide the so-called primitive rocks, the
transition slates and sandstones, and the stratified formations.  the
constant recurrence of this phenomenon convinced me long since that these
sporadic rocks were the seat of volcanic phenomena, and were connected with
volcanic eruptions.  At the foot of the grand Tunguragua, near Penipe, on
the banks of the Rio Puela, I first distinctly observed mica slate resting
on granite, broken through by a volcanic rock.

In the volcanic chain of the New Continent, the separate volcanoes are
occasionally, when near together in mutual dependence upon one another; and
it is even seen that the volcanic activity for centuries together has moved
on in one and the same direction, as for instance, from north to south in
the province of Quito.*

[footnote]  (Humboldt, 'Geognost. Beobach, uber die Vulkane des Hochlandes
von Quito', in Poggend., 'Annal. der Physik', bd. xliv., s. 194.

The focus of the volcanic action lies below the whole of the highlands of
this province; the only channels of communication with the atmosphere are,
however, those mountains which we designate by special names, as the
mountains of Pichincha, Cotopaxi, and Tunguragua, and which, from their
grouping, elevation, and form, constitute the grandest and most picturesque
spectacle to be found in any volcanic district of an equally limited extent.
 Experience shows us, in many instances, that the extremities of such groups
of volcanic chains are connected together by subterranean communications;
and this fact reminds us of the ancient and true expression made use of by
Seneca,* that the igneous mountain is only the issue of the more
deeply-seated volcanic forces.

[footnote]  *Seneca, while he speaks very clearly regarding the
problematical sinking of Aetna, says in his 79th letter, "Though this might
happen, not because the mountain's height is lowered, but because the fires
are weakened, and do not blaze out with their former vehemence; and for
which reason it is that such vast clouds of smoke are not seen in the
day-time.  Yet neither of these seem incredible, for the mountain may
possibly be consumed by being daily devoured, and the fire not be so large
as formerly, since it is not self-generated here, but is kindled in the
distant bowels of the earth, and there rages, being fed with continual fuel,
not with that of the mountain, through which it only makes its passage."
The subterranean communication, "by galleries," between the volcanoes of
Sicily, Lipari, Pithecusa (Ischia), and Vesuvius, "of the last of which we
may conjecture that it formerly burned and presented a fiery circle," seems
fully understood by Strabl (lib. i., p. 247 and 248).  He terms the whole
district "sub-igneous."

In the Mexican highlands a mutual dependence is
p 240
also observed to exist among the volcanic mountains Orizaba, Popocatepel,
Jorullo, and Colima; and I have shown* that they all lie in one direction
between 18 degrees 59' and 19 degrees 12' north latitude, and are situated
in a transverse fissure running from sea to sea.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Essai Politique sur la Nouv. Espagne', t. ii., p.

The volcano of Jorullo broke forth on the 29th of September, 1759, exactly
in this direction, and over the same transverse fissure, being elevated to a
height of 1604 feet above the level of the surrounding plain.  The mountain
only once emitted an eruption of lava, in the same manner as is recorded of
Mount Epomeo in Ischia, in the year 1302.  But although Jorullo, which is
eighty miles from any active volcano, is in the strict sense of the word a
new mountain, it must not be compared with Monte Nuovo, near Puzzuolo, which
first appeared on the 19th of September, 1538, and is rather to be classed
among craters of elevation.  I believe that I have furnished a more natural
explanation of the eruption of the Mexican volcano, in comparing its
appearance to the elevation of the Hill of Methone, now Methana, in the
peninsula of Troezene.  The description given by Strabo and Pausanias of
this elevation, led one of the Roman poets, most celebrated for his richness
of fancy, to develop views which agree in a remarkable manner with the
theory of modern geognosy.  "Near Troezene is a tumulus, steep and devoid of
trees, once a plain, now a mountain.  The vapors inclosed in dark caverns in
vain seek a passage by which they may escape.  The heavier earth, inflated
by the force of the compressed vapors, expands like a bladder filled with
air, or like a goat-skin.  The ground has remained thus inflated, and the
high projecting eminence has been solidified by time into a naked rock."
Thus picturesquely, and, as analogous phenomena justify us in believing,
thus truly has Ovid described that great natural phenomenon which occurred
282 years before our era, and consequently, 45 years bfore the volcanic
separation of Thera (Santorino) and Therasia, between Troezene and
Epidaurus, on the same spot where Russegger has found veins of trachyte.*

[footnote]  *Ovid's description of the eruption of Methone ('Metam.', xv.,
p. 226-306):
"Near Troezene stands a hill, exposed in air
To winter winds, of leafy shadows bare:
This once was level ground; but (strange to tell)
Th' included vapors, that in caverns dwell,
Laboring with colic pangs, and close confined,
In vain sought issue for the rumbling wind:
Yet still they heaved for vent, and heaving still,
Enlarged the concave and shot up the hill,
As breath extends a bladder, or the skins
Of goats are blown t'inclose the hoarded wines;
The mountain yet retains a mountain's face,
And gathered rubbish heads the hollow space."
                 'Dryden's Translation'.
[footnote continues]
This description of a dome-shaped elevation on the continent is of great
importance in a geognostical point of view, and coincides to a remarkable
degree with Aristotle's account ('Meteor.', ii., 89, 17-19) of the upheaval
of islands of eruption:  "The heaving of the earth does not cease till the
wind [(Greek word)] which occasions the shocks has made its escape into the
crust of the earth.  It is not long ago since this actually happened at
Heraclea in Pontus, and a similar event formerly occurred at Hiera, one of
the Aeolian Islands.  A portion of the earth swelled up, and with loud noise
rose into the form of a hill, till the mighty urging blast [(Greek word)]
found an outlet, and ejected sparks and ashes which covered the neighborhood
of Lipari, and even extended to several Italian cities."  In this
description, the vesicular distension of the earth's crust (a stage at which
many trachytic mountains have remained) is very well distinguished from the
eruption itself.  Strabo, lib. i., p. 59 (Casaubon), likewise describes the
phenomenon as it occurred at Methone:  near the town, in the Bay of
Hermione, there arose a flaming eruption; a fiery mountain, seven (?) stadia
in height, was then thrown up, which during the day was inaccessible from
its heat and sulphureous stench, but at night evolved an agreeable odor (?)
, and was so hot that the sea boiled for a distance of five stadia, and was
turbid for full twenty stadia, and also was filled with detached masses of
rock.  Regarding the present mineralogical character of the peninsula of
Methana, see Fiedler, 'Reise durch Griechenland', th. i., s. 257-263.

p 241
Santorino is the most important of all the 'islands of eruption' belonging
to volcanic chains.*

[footnote]  *[I am indebted to the kindness of Professor E. Forbes for the
following interesting account of the island of Santorino, and the adjacent
islands of Neokaimeni and Microkaimeni.  "The aspect of the bay is that of a
great crater filled with water, Thera and Therasia forming its walls, and
the other islands being after-productions in its center.  We sounded with
250 fathoms of line in the middle of the bay, between Therasia and the main
islands, but got no bottom.  Both these islands appear to be similarly
formed of successive strata of volcanic ashes, which, being of the most
vivid and variegated colors, present a striking contrast to the black and
cindery aspect of the central isles.  Neokaimeni, the last-formed island, is
a great heap of obsidian and scoriae.  So, also, is the greater mass,
Microkaimeni, which rises up in a conical form, and has a cavity or crater.
On one side of this island, however, a section is exposed, and cliffs of
fine pumiceous ash appear stratified in the greater islands.  In the main
island, the volcanic strata abut against the limestone mass of Mount St.
Elias in such a way as to lead to the inference that they were deposited in
a sea bottom in which the present mountain rose as a submarine mass of rock.
 The people at Santorino assured us that subterranean noises are not
unfrequently heard, especially during calms and south winds, when they say
the water of parts of the bay becomes the color of sulphur.  My own
impression is, that this group of islands, constitutes a crater of
elevation, of which the outer ones are the remains of the walls, while the
central group are of later origin, and consist partly of upheaved sea
bottoms and partly of erupted matter -- erupted, however, beneath the
surface of the water."] -- Tr.

It combines within itself
p 242
the history of all islands of elevation.  For upward of 2000 years, as far
as history and tradition certify, it would appear as if nature were striving
to form a volcano in the midst of the crater of elevation."*

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, 'Physik. Beschr. der Canar. Inseln', s.
356-358, and particularly the French translation of this excellent work, p.
402; and his memoir in Poggendorf's 'Annalen', bd. xxxviii., s. 183.  A
submarine island has quite recently made its appearance within the crater of
Santorino.  In 1810 it was still fifteen fathoms below the surface of the
sea, but in 1830 it had risen to within three or four.  It rises steeply
like a great cone, from the bottom of the sea, and the continuous activity
of the submarine crater is obvious from the circumstance that sulphurous
acid vapors are mixed with the sea water, in the eastern bay of Neokaimeni,
in the same manner as at Vromolimni, near Methana.  Coppered ships lie at
anchor in the bay in order to get their bottoms cleaned and polished by this
natural (volcanic) process.  (Virlet, in the 'Bulletin de la Societe
Geologique de France', t. iii., p. 109, and Fiedler 'Reise durch
Griechenland', th. ii., s. 469 and 584.)

Similar insular elevations, and almost always at regular intervals of 80 or
90 years,* have been manifested in the island of St. Michael, in the Azores;
but in this case the bottom of the sea has not been elevated at exactly the
same parts.**

[footnote]  *Appearance of a new island near St. Miguel, one of the Azores,
11th of June, 1638, 31st of December, 1719, 13th of June, 1811.

[footnote]  **[My esteemed friend, Dr. Webster, professor of Chemistry and
Mineralogy at Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U. S., in his
'Description of the Island of St. Michael, etc.', Boston, 1822, gives an
interesting account of the sudden appearance of the island named Sabrina
which was about a mile in circumference, and two or three hundred feet above
the level of the ocean.  After continuing for some weeks, it sank into the
sea.  Dr. Webster describes the whole of the island of St. Michael as
volcanic, and containing a number of conical hills of trachyte, several of
which have craters, and appear at some former time to have been the openings
of volcanoes.  The hot springs which abound in the island are impregnated
with sulphureted hydrogen and carbonic acid gases, appearing to attest the
existence of volcanic action.] -- Tr.

The island which Captain Tillard named 'Sabrina', appeared unfortunately at
a time (the 30th of January, 1811) when the political relations of the
maritime nations of Western Europe prevented that attention being bestowed
upon the subject by scientific institutions which was afterward directed to
the sudden appearance (the 2d of July, 1831), and the speedy destruction of
the igneous island of Ferdinandea in the Sicilian Sea, between the limestone
shores of Sciacca and the purely volcanic island of Pantellaria.*

[footnote]  *Prevost, in the Bulletin de la Societe Geologique, t. iii., p.
34; Friedrich Hoffman, 'Hinterlassene Werke.' bd. ii., s. 451-456.

p 243
The geographical distribution of the volcanoes which have been in a state of
activity during historical times, the great number of insular and littoral
volcanic mountains, and the occasional, although ephemeral, eruptions in the
bottom of the sea, early led to the belief that volcanic activity was
connected with the neighborhood of the sea, and was dependent upon it for
its continuance.  "For many hundred years," says Justinian, or rather Trogus
Pompeius, whom he follows,* "Aetna and the Aeolian Islands have been
burning, and how could this have continued so long if the fire had not been
fed by the
p 244
neighboring sea?"**

[footnote]  *"Accedunt vicini et perpetui Aetnae montis ignes et insularum
Aeolidum, veluti ipsis undis alatur incendium; neque enim aliter durare tot
seculis tantus ignis potuisset, nisi humoris nutrimentis aleretur."
(Justin, 'Hist. Philipp.', iv., i.)  The volcanic theory with which the
physical description of Sicily here begins is extremely intricate.  Deep
fissured; violent motion of the waves of the sea, which, as they strike
together, draw down the air (the wind) for the maintenance of the fire:
such are the elements of the theory of Trogus.  Since he seems from Pliny
(xi., 52) to have been a physiognomist, we may presume that his numerous
lost works were not confined to history alone.  The opinion that air is
forced into the interior of the earth, there to act on the vocanic furnaces,
was connected by the ancients with the supposed influence of winds from
different quarters on the intensity of the fires burning in tna, Hiera, and
Stromboli.  (See the remarkable passage in Strabo, liv. vi., Aetna.)  The
mountain island of Stromboli (Strongyle) was regarded therefore, as the
dwelling-place of Aeolus, "the regulator of the winds," in consequence of
the sailors foretelling the weather from the activity of the volcanic
eruptions of this island.  The connection between the eruption of a small
volcano with the state of the barometer and the direction of the wind is
still generally recognized (Leop. von Buch, 'Descr. Phys. des Iles
Canaries', p. 334; Hoffmann, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xxvi., s. viii),
although our present knowledge of volcanic phenomena, and the slight changes
of atmospheric pressure accompanying our winds, do not enable us to offer
any satisfactory explanation of the fact.  Bembo, who during his youth was
brought up in Sicily by Greek refugees, gave an agreeable narrative of his
wanderings, and in his 'Aetna Dialogus' (written in the middle of the
sixteenth century) advances the theory of the penetration of sea water to
the very center of the volcanic action, and of the necessity of the
proximity of the sea to active volcanoes.  In ascending Aetna the following
question was proposed:  "Explaina potius nobis quae petimus, ea incendia
unde oriantur et orta quomodo perdurent.  In omni tellure nuspiam majores
fistulae aut meatus ampliores sunt quam in locis, quae vel mari vicina sunt,
vel a mari protinus alluntur:  mare erodit illa facillime pergitque in
viscera terrae.  Itaque cum in aliena regna sibi  viam faciat, ventis etiam
facit; ex quo fit, ut loca quaeque maritima maxime terrae motibus subjecta
sint, parum mediterranea.  Habes quum in sulfuris venas venti furentes
inciderint, unde incendia oriantur tn tuae.  Vides, quae mare in radicibus
habeat, quae sulfurea sit, quae cavernosa, quae a mari aliquando perforata
ventos admiscrit Aestuantes, per quos idonea flammae materies incenderetur."

[footnote]  **[Although extinct volcanoes seem by no means confined to the
neighborhood of the present seas, being often scattered over the most inland
portions of our existing continents, yet it will appear that, at the time at
which they were in an active state, the greater part were in the
neighborhood either of the sea, or of the extensive salt or fresh water
lakes, which existed at that period over much of what is now dry land.  This
may be seen either by referring to Dr. Boue's map of Europe, or to that
published by Mr. Lyell in the recent edition of his 'Principles of Geology'
(1847), from both of which it will become apparent that, at a comparatively
recent epoch, those parts of France, of Germany, of Hungary, and of Italy,
which afford evidences of volcanic action now extinct, were covered by the
ocean.  Daubeney 'On Volcanoes', p. 605.] -- Tr.

In order to explain the necessity of the vicinity of the sea, recourse has
been had, even in modern times, to the hypothesis of the penetration of sea
water into the foci of volcanic agency, that is to say, into deep-seated
terrestrial strata.  When I collect together all the facts that may be
derived from my own observation and the laborious researches of others, it
appears to me that every thing in this great quantity of aqueous vapors,
which are unquestionably exhaled from volcanoes even when in a state of
rest, be derived from sea water impregnated with salt, or rather, perhaps
with fresh meteoric water; or whether the expansive force of the vapors
(which, at a depth of nearly 94,000 feet, is equal to 2800 atmospheres)
would be able at different depths to counterbalance the hydrostatic pressure
of the sea, and thus afford them, under certain conditions, a free access to
the focus;* or whether the formation of metallic chlorids, the presence of
chlorid of sodium in the fissures of the crater, and the frequent mixture of
hydrochloric acid with the aqueous vapors, necessarily imply access of sea
water; or, finally, whether the repose of volcanoes (either when temporary,
or permanent and complete) depends upon the closure of the channels by which
the sea or meteoric water was conveyed, or whether the absence of flames and
of exhalations of hydrogen (and sulphureted hydrogen gas seems more
characteristic of solfataras than of active volcanoes) is not directly at
p 245
with the hypothesis of the decomposition of great masses of water?**

[footnote]  * Compare Gay-Lussac, 'Sur les Volcans', in the 'Annales de
Chimie', t. xxii., p. 427, and Bischof, 'Warmelehre', s. 272.  The eruptions
of smoke and steam which have at different periods been seen in Lancerote,
Iceland, and the Kurile Islands, during the eruption of the neighboring
volcanoes, afford indications of the reaction of volcanic foci through tense
columns of water; that is to say, these phenomena occur when the expansive
force of the vapor exceeds the hydrostatic pressure.

[footnote]  ** [See Daubeney 'On Volcanoes', Part iii., ch. xxxvi.,
xxxviii., xxxix.] -- Tr.

The discussion of these important physical questions does not come within
the scope of a work of this nature; but, while we are considering these
phenomena, we would enter somewhat more into the question of the
geographical distribution of still active volcanoes.  We find, for instance,
that in the New World, three, viz., Jorullo, Popocatepetl, and the volcano
of De la Fragua, are situated at the respective distances of 80, 132, and
196 miles from the sea-coast, while in Central Asia, as Abel Remusat* first
made known to geognosists, the Thianschan (Celestial Mountains), in which
are situated the lava-emitting mountain of Pe-schan, the solfatara of
Urumtsi, and the still active igneous mountain (Ho-tscheu) of Turfan, lie at
an almost equal distance (1480 to 1528 miles) from the shores of the Polar
Sea and those of the Indian Ocean.

[footnote]  *Abel Remusat, 'Lettre a M. Cordier', in the 'Annales de
Chimie', t. v., p. 137.

Pe-schan is also fully 1360 miles distant from the Caspian Sea,* and 172 and
218 miles from the seas of Issikul and Balkasch.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. ii., p. 30-33, 38-52, 70-80, and
426-428.  The existence of active volcanoes in Kordofan, 540 miles from the
Red Sea, has been recently contradicted by Ruppell, 'Reisen in Nubien',
1829, s. 151.

It is a fact worthy of notice, that among the four great parallel mountain
chains which traverse the Asiatic continent from east to west, the Altai,
the Thianschan, the Kuen-lun, and the Himalaya, it is not the latter chain,
which is nearest to Kuen-lun, at the distance of 1600 and 720 miles from the
sea, which have fire-emitting mountains like Aetna and Vesuvius, and
generate ammonia like the volcano of Guatimala.  Chinese writers undoubtedly
speak of lava streams when they describe the emissions of smoke and flame,
which, issuing from Pe-schan, devastated a space measuring ten li* in the
first and seventh centuries of our era.

[footnote]  *[A 'li' is a Chinese measurement, equal to about one thirtieth
of a mile.] -- Tr.

Burning masses of stone flowed, according to their description "like thin
melted fat."  The facts that have been enumerated, and to which sufficient
attention has not been bestowed, render it probable that the vicinity of the
sea, and the penetration of sea water to the foci of volcanoes, are not
absolutely necessary to the eruption of
p 246
subterranean fire, and that littoral situations only favor the eruption by
forming the margin of a deep sea basin, which, covered by strata of water,
and lying many thousand feet lower than the interior continent, can offer
but an inconsiderable degree of resistance.

The present active volcanoes, which communicate by permanent craters
simultaneously with the interior of the earth and with the atmosphere, must
have been formed at a subsequent period, when the upper chalk strta and all
the tertiary formations were already present:  this is shown to be the fact
by the trachytic and basaltic eruptions which frequently form the walls of
the crater of elevation.  Melaphyres extend to the middle tertiary
formations, but are found already in the Jura limestone, where they break
through the variegated sandstone.*

[footnote]  *Dufrenoy et Elie de Beaumont, 'Explication de la Carte
Geologique de la France', t. i., p. 89.

We must not confound the earlier outpourings of granite, quartzose porphyry,
and euphotide from temporary fissures in the old transition rocks with the
present active volcanic craters.

The extinction of volcanic activity is either only partial -- in which case
the subterranean fire seeks another passage of escape in the same mountain
chain -- or it is total, as in Auvergne.  More recent examples are recorded
in historical times, of the total extinction of the volcano of Mosychlos,*
on the island sacred to Hephaestos (Vulcan), whose "high whirling flames"
were known to Sophocles; and of the volcano of Medina, which according to
Burckhardt, still continued to pour out a stream of lava on the 2d of
November, 1276.

[footnote]  *Sophocl., 'Philoct.', v. 971 and 972.  On the supposed epoch of
the extinction of the Lemnian fire in the time of Alexander, compare
Buttmann, in the 'Museum der Alterhumswissenschaft', bd. i., 1807, s. 295;
Dureau de la Malle, in Malte-Brun, 'Annales des Voyages', t. ix., 1809, p.
5; Ukert in Bertuch, 'Geogr. Ephemeriden', bd. xxxix., 1812, s. 361; Rhode,
'Res Lemnicae', 1829, p. 8; and Walter, 'Ueber Abnahame der Vulken.
Thatigkeit in Historischen Zeiten', 1844, s. 24.  The chart of Lemmos,
constructed by Choiseul, makes it extremely probable that the extinct crater
of Mosychlos, and the island of Chryse, the desert habitation of Philoctetes
(Otfried Muller, 'Minyer', s. 300), have been long swallowed up by the sea.
Reefs and shoals, to the northeast of Lemnos, still indicate the spot where
the Aegean Sea once possessed an active volcano like Aetna, Vesuvius,
Stromboli, and Volcano (in the Lipari Isles).

Every stage of volcanic activity, from its first origin to its extinction,
is characterized by peculiar products; first by ignited scoriae, streams of
lava consisting of trachyte, pyroxene, and obsidian, and by rapilli and
tufaceous ashes, accompanied by the development
p 247
of large quantities of pure aqueous vapor; subsequently, when the volcano
becomes a solfatara, by aqueous vapors mixed with sulphureted hydrogen and
carbonic acid gases; and, finally, when it is completely cooled, by
exhalations of carbonic acid alone.  There is a remarkable class of igneous
mountains which do not eject lava, but merely devastating streams of hot
water,* impregnated with burning sulphur and rocks reduced to a state of
dust (as, for instance, the Galungung in Java); but whether these mountains
present a normal condition, or only a certain transitory modification of the
volcanic process, must remain undecided until they are visited by geologists
possessed of a knowledge of chemistry in its present condition.

[footnote]  *Compare Reinwardt and Hoffmann, in Poggendorf's 'Annalen', bd.
xii., s. 607; Leop. von Buch, 'Descr. des Iles Canaries', p. 424-426.  The
eruptions of argillaceous mud at Carguairazo, when that volcano was
destroyed in 1698, the Lodazales of Igualata, and the Moya of Pelileo -- all
on the table-land of Quito -- are volcanic phenomena of a similar nature.

I have endeavored in the above remarks to furnish a general description of
volcanoes -- comprising one of the most important sections of the history of
terrestrial activity -- and I have based my statements partly on my own
observations, but more in their general bearing on the results yielded by
the labors of my old friend, Leopold von Buch, the greatest geognosist of
our own age, and the first who recognized the intimate connection of
volcanic phenomena, and their mutual dependence upon one another, considered
with reference to their relations in space.

Volcanic action, or the reaction of the interior of a planet on its external
crust and surface, was long regarded only as an isolated phenomenon, and was
considered solely with respect to the disturbing action of the subterranean
force; and it is only in recent times that -- greatly to the advantage of
geognostical views based on physical analogies -- volcanic forces have been
regarded as 'forming new rocks, and transforming those that already
existed'.  We here arrive at the point to which I have already alluded, at
which a well-grounded study of the activity of volcanoes, whether igneous or
merely such as emit gaseous exhalations, leads us, on the one hand, to the
mineralogical branch of geognosy (the science of the texture and the
succession of terrestrial strata), and, on the other, to the science of
geographical forms and outlines -- the configuration of continents and
insular groups elevated above the level
p 248
of the sea.  This extended insight into the connection of natural phenomena
is the result of the philosophical direction which has been so generally
assumed by the more earnest study of geognosy.  Increased cultivation of
science and enlargement of political views alike tend to unite elements that
had long been divided.

This material taken from pages 248-

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p 248

If, instead of classifying rocks according to their varieties of form and
superposition into stratified and unstratified, schistose and compact,
normal and abnormal, we investigate those phenomena of formation and
transformation which are still going on before our eyes, we shall find that
rocks admit of being arranged according to four modes of origin.

'Rocks of eruption', which have issued from the interior of the earth either
in a state of fusion from volcanic action, or in a more or less soft,
viscous condition, from Plutonic action.

'Sedimentary rocks', which have been precipitated and deposited on the
earth's surface from a fluid, in which the most minute particles were either
dissolved or held in suspension constituting the greater part of the
secondary (or flotz) and tertiary groups.

'Transformed or metamorphic rocks',* in which the internal texture and the
mode of stratification have been changed, either
p 249
by contact or proximity with a Plutonic or volcanic endogenous rock of
eruption,** or, what is more frequently the case, by a gaseous sublimation
of substances*** which accompany certain masses erupted in a hot, fluid

[footnote] *[As the doctrine of mineral metamorphism is now exciting very
general attention, we subjoin a few explanatory observations by the 'New
Philos. Journ.', Jan., 1848:  "In its widest sense, mineral metamorphism
means every change of aggregation, structure, or chemical condition which
rocks have undergone subsequently to their deposition and stratification, or
the effects which have been produced by other forces than gravity and
cohesion.  There fall under this definition, the discoloration of the
surface of black limestone by the loss of carbon; the formation of
brownish-red crusts on rocks of limestone, sandstone, many slate structures,
serpentine, granite, etc., by the decomposition of iton pyrites, or magnetic
iron, finely disseminated in the mass of the rock; the conversion of
anhydrite into gypsum, in consequence of the absorption of water; the
crumbling of many granites and porphyries into gravel, occasioned by the
decomposition of the mica and feldspar.  In its more limited sense, the term
metamorphic is confined to those changes of the rock which are produced, not
by the effect of the atmosphere or of water on the exposed surfaces, but
which are produced, directly or indirectly, by agencies seated in the
interior of the earth.  In many cases the mode of change may be explained by
our physical or chemical theories, and may be viewed as the effect of
temperature or of electro-chemical actions.  Adjoining rocks, or connecting
communications with the interior of the earth, also distinctly point out the
seat from which the change proceeds. In many other cases the metamorphic
process itself remains a mystery, and from the nature of the products alone
do we conclude that such a metamorphic action has taken place.] -- Tr.

[footnote]  ** In a plan of the neighborhood of Tezcuco, Totonilco, and
Moran ('Atlas Geographique et Physique', pl. vii.), which I originally
(1803) intended for a work which I never published, entitled 'Pasigrafia
Geognostica destinada al uso de los Jovenes del Colegio de Mineria de
Mexico', I names (in 1832) the Plutonic and volcanic eruptive rocks
'endogenous' (generated in the interior), and the sedimentary and flotz
rocks 'exogenous' (or generated externally on the surface of the earth).
Pasiward, [upward arrow] and the latter by the same symbol directed downward
[downward arrow].  These signs have at least some advantage over the
ascending lines, which in the older systems represent arbitrarily and
ungracefully the horizontally ranged sedimentary strata, and their
penetration through masses of basalt, porphyry, and syenite.  The names
proposed in the pasigraphico-geognostic plan were borrowed from De
Candolle's nomenclature, in which 'endogenous' is synonymous with
monocotyledonous, and 'exogenous' with dicotyledonous plants.  Mohl's more
accurate examination of vegetable tissues has, however, shown that the
growth of monocotyledons from within, and dicotyledons from without, is not
strictly and generally true for vegetable organisms (Link, 'Elementa
Philosophiae Botanicae', t. i., 1837, p. 287; Endlicher and Unger,
'Grundzugeder Botanik', 1843, s. 89; and Jussieu, 'Traite de Botanique', t.
i., p. 85).  The rocks which I have termed endogenous are characteristically
distinguished by Lyell, in his 'Principles of Geology', 1833, vol. iii., p.
374, as "nether-formed" or "hypogene rocks."

[footnote] *** Compare Leop. von Buch, 'Ueber Dolomit als Gebirgsart', 1823,
s. 36; and his remarks on the degree of fluidity to be ascribed to Plutonic
rocks at the period of their eruption, as well as on the formation of gneiss
from schist, through the action of granite and of the substances upheaved
with it, to be found in the 'Abhandl. der Akad. der Wissensch. zu Berlin'
for the year 1842, s. 58 und 63, and in the 'Jahrbuch fur Wissenschaftliche
Kritik', 1840, s. 195.

'Conglomerates'; coarse or finely granular sandstones, or breccias composed
of mechanically-divided masses of the three previous species.

These four modes of formation -- by the emission of volcanic masses, as
narrow lava streams; by the action of these masses on rocks previously
hardened; by mechanical separation or chemical precipitation from liquids
impregnated with carbonic acid; and, finally, by the cementation of
disintegrated rocks of heterogeneous nature -- are phenomena and formative
processes which must merely be regarded as a faint reflection of that more
energetic activity which must have characterized the chaotic condition of
the earlier world under wholly different conditions of pressure and at a
higher temperature, not only in the whole crust of the earth, but likewise
in the more
p 250
extended atmosphere, overloaded with vapors.  The vast fissures which were
formerly open in the solid crust of the earth have since been filled up or
closed by the protrusion of elevated mountain chains, or by the penetration
of veins of rocks of eruption (granite, porphyry, basalt, and melaphyre);
and while, scarcely more than four volcanoes remaining through which fire
and stones are erupted, the thinner, more fissured, and unstable crust of
the earth was anciently almost every where covered by channels of
communication between the fused interior and the external atmosphere.
Gaseous emanations rising from very unequal depths, and therefore conveying
substances differing in their chemical nature, imparted greater activity to
the Plutonic processes of formation and transformation.  The sedimentary
formations, the deposits of liquid fluids from cold and hot springs, which
we daily see producing the travertine strata near Rome, and near Hobart Town
in Van Diemen's Land, afford but a faint idea of the flotz formation.  In
our seas, small banks of limestone, almost equal in hardness at some parts
to Carrara marble,* are in the course of formation, by gradual
precipitation, accumulation, and cementation -- processes whose mode of
action has not been sufficiently well investigated.

[footnote]  Darwin, 'Volcanic Islands', 1844, p. 49 and 154.

The Sicilian coast, the island of Ascension, and King George's Sound in
Australia, are instances of this mode of formation.  On the coasts of the
Antilles, these formations of the present ocean contain articles of pottery,
and other objects of human industry, and in Guadaloupe even human skeletons
of the Carib tribes.*

[footnote]  *[In most instances the bones are dispersed; but a large slab of
rock, in which considerable portion of the skeleton of a female is embedded,
is preserved in the British Museum.  The presence of these bones has been
explained by the circumstance of a battle, and the massacre of a tribe of
Gallibis by the Caribs, which took place near the spot in which they are
found, about 120 years ago; for, as the bodies of the slain were interred on
the sea-shore, their skeletons may have been subsequently covered by
sand-drift, which has since consolidated into limestone.  Dr. Moultrie, of
the Medical College, Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., is, however, of
opinion that these bones did not belong to individuals of the Carib tribe,
but of the Peruvian race, or of a tribe possessing a similar craniological
development.] --Tr.

The negroes of the French colonies designate these formations by the name of

Moreau de Jonnes, 'Hist. Phys. des Antilles', t. i., p. 136, 138, and 543;
Humboldt, 'Relation Historique', t. iii., p. 367.

A small colitic bed, formed in Lancerote, one of the Canary Islands, and
which, notwithstanding
p 251
its recent formation, bears a resemblance to Jura Limestone, has been
recognized as a product of the sea and of tempests.*

[footnote]  *Near Teguiza.  Leop. von Buch, 'Canarische Inseln', s. 301.

Composite rocks are definite associations of certain crytonostic, simple
minerals, as feldspar, mica, solid silex, augite, and nepheline.  Rocks very
similar to these consisting of the same elements, but grouped differently,
are still formed by volcanic processes, as in the earlier periods of the
world.  The character of rocks, as we have already remarked is so
independent of geographical relations of space,* that the geologist
recognizes with surprise, alike to the north or the south of the equator, in
the remotest and most dissimilar zones, the familiar aspect, and the
repetition of even the most minute characteristics in the periodic
stratification of the silurian strata, and in the effects of contact with
augitic masses of eruption.

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, op. cit., p. 9.

We will now enter more fully into the consideration of the four modes in
which rocks are formed -- the four phases of their formative processes
manifested in the stratified and unstratified portions of the earth's
surface; thus, in the 'endogenous' or 'erupted rocks', designated by modern
geognosists as compact and abnormal rocks, we may enumerate the following
principal groups as immediate products of terrestrial activity:

1.  'Granite and syenite' of very different respective ages; the granite is
frequently the more recent,* traversing the syenite in veins, and being, in
that case, the active upheaving agent.  "Where the granite occurs in large,
insulated masses of a faintly-arched, ellipsoidal form, it is covered by a
crust of shell cleft into blocks, instances of which are met with alike in
the Hartz district, in Mysore, and in Lower Peru.

[footnote]  *Bernhard Cotta, 'Geognosie', 1839, s. 273.

This surface of the granite, owing to the great expansion that accompanied
its first upheaval."*

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, 'Ueber Granit and Gneiss', in the 'Abhandl. der
Berl. Akad.' for the year 1842, s. 60.

Both in Northern Asia,* on the charming and romantic shores of the Lake of
Kolivan, on the northwest declivity of
p. 252
the Altai Mountains, and at Las Trincheras, on the slop of the littoral
chain of Caraccas,** I have seen granite divided into ledges, owing probably
to a similar contraction, although the divisions appeared to penetrate far
into the interior.

[footnote] *  In the projecting mural masses of granite of Lake Kolivan,
divided into narrow parallel beds, there are numerous crystals of feldspar
and albite, and a few of titanium (Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 295,
Gustav Rose, 'Reise mach dem Ural', bd. i., s. 524).

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Relation Historique', t. ii., p. 99

Further to the south of Lake Kolivan, toward the boundaries of the Chinese
province Ili (between Buchtarminsk and the River Narym), the formation of
the erupted rock, in which there is no gneiss, is more remarkable than I
ever observed in any other part of the earth.  The granite, which is always
covered with scales and characterized by tabular divisions, rises in the
steppes, either in small hemispherical eminences, scarcely six or eight feet
in height, or like basalt, in mounds, terminating on either side of their
bases in narrow streams.*

[footnote]  ** See the sketch of Biri-tau, which I took from the south side,
where the Kirghis tents stood, and which is given in Rose's 'Reise', bd. i.,
s. 584.  On spheres of granite scaling off concentrically, see my 'Relat.
Hist.', t. ii., p. 497, and 'Essai Geogn. sur les Gisement des Roches', p.

At the cataracts of the Orinoco, as well as in the district of the
Fichtelgebirge (Seissen), in Galicia, and between the Pacific and the
highlands of Mexico (on the Papagallo), I have seen granite in large,
flattened spherical masses, which could be divided, like basalt, into
concentric layers.  In the valley of Irtysch, between Buchtarminsk and
Ustkamenogorsk, granite covers transition slate for a space of four miles,*
penetrating into it from above in narrow, variously ramified, wedge-like

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 299-311, and the drawings
in Rose's 'Reise', bd. i., s. 611, in which we see the curvature in the
layers of granite which Leop. von Buch has pointed out as chracteristic.

I have only instanced these peculiarities in order to designate the
individual character of one of the most generally diffused erupted-rocks.
As granite is superposed on slate in Siberia and in the Departement de
Finisterre (Isle de Mihau), so it covers the Jura limestone in the mountains
of Oisons (Fermonts), and syenite, and indirectly also chalk, in Saxony,
near Weinbohla.*

[footnote]  *This remarkable superposition was first described by Weiss in
Krsten's 'Archiv fur Bergbau und H¬ttenwesen', bd. xvi., 1827, s. 5.

Near Mursinsk, in the Uralian district, granite is of a drusous character,
and here the pores, like the fissures and cavities of recent volcanic
products, inclose many kinds of magnificent crystals, especially beryls and

2.  'Quartzose porphyry' is often found in the relation of veins to other
rocks.  The base is generally a finely granular mixture of the same elements
which occur in the larger imbedded
p 253
crystals.  In granitic porphyry that is very poor in quartz, the feldspathic
base is almost granular and laminated.*

[footnote]  *Dufrenoy et Elie de Beaumont, 'Geologie de la France', t. i.,
p. 130.

3.  'Greenstones, Diorite', are granular mixtures of white albite and
blackish-green hornblende, forming dioritic porphyry when the crystals are
deposited in a base of denser tissue.  The greenstones, either pure, or
inclosing laminae of diallage (as in the Fichtelgebirge), and passing into
serpentine, have sometimes penetrated, in the form of strata, into the old
stratified fissures of green argillaceous slate, but they more frequently
traverse the rocks in veins, or appear as globular masses of greenstone,
similar to domes of basalt and porphyry.*

[footnote]  *These intercalated beds of diorite play an important part in
the mountain district of Nailau, near Steben, where I was engaged in mining
operations in the last century, and with which the happiest associations of
my early life are connected.  Compare Hoffmann, in Poggendorf's 'Annalen',
bd. xvi., s. 558.

'Hypersthene rock' is a granular mixture of labradorite and hypersthene.

'Euphotide' and serpentine, containing sometimes crystald of augite and
uralite instead of diallage, are thus nearly allied to another more
frequent, and I might almost say, more 'energetic' eruptive rock -- augitic

[footnote]  *In the southern and Bashkirian portion of the Ural.  Rose,
'Reise', bd. ii., s. 171.

'Melaphyre', augitic, uralitic, and oligoklastic porphyries.  To the
last-named species belongs the genuine 'verd-antique', so celebrated in the

'Basalt', containing olivine and constituents which gelatinize in acids;
phonolithe (porphyritic slate), trachyte, and colerite; the first of these
rocks is only paartially, and the second always, divided into thin laminae,
which give them an appearance of stratification when extended over a large
space.  Mesotype and nepheline constitute, according to Girard, an important
part in the composition and internal texture of basalt.  The nepheline
contained in basalt reminds the geognosist both of the miascite of the Ilmen
Mountains in the Ural,* which has been confounded with granite, and
sometimes contains zirconium, and of the pyroxenic nepheline discovered by
Gumprecht near Lobau and Chemnitz.

[footnote]  *G. Rose, 'Reise nach dem Ural', bd. ii., s. 47-52.  Respecting
the identity of eleolite and uepheline (the latter containing rather the
more lime), see Scheerer, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xlix., s. 359-381.

To the second or sedimentary rocks belong the greater part of the formations
which have been comprised under the old
p 254
systematic, but not very correct designation of 'transition, flot' or
'secondary', and 'tertiary formations'.  If the erupted rocks had not
exercised an elevating, and, owing to the simultaneous shock of the earth, a
disturbing influence on these sedimentary formations, the surface of our
planet would have consisted of strata arranged in a uniformly horizontal
direction above one another.  Deprived of mountain chains, on whose
declivities the gradations of vegetable forms and the scale of the
diminishing heat of the atmosphere appear to be picturesquely reflected --
furrowed ony here and there by valleys of erosion, formed by the force of
fresh water moving on in gentle undulations, or by the accumulation of
detritus, resulting from the action of currents of water -- continents would
have presented no other appearance from pole to pole than the dreary
uniformity of the llanos of South America or the steppes of Northern Asia.
The vault of heaven would everywhere have appeared to rest on vast plains,
and the stars to rise as if they emerged from the depths of ocean.  Such a
condition of things could not, however, have generally prevailed for any
length of time in the earlier periods of the world, since subterranean
forces must have striven in all epochs to exert a counteracting influence.

Sedimentary strta have been either precipitated or deposited from liquids,
according as the materials entering into their composition are supposed,
whether as limestone or argillaceous slate, to be either chemically
dissolved or suspended and commingled.  But earth, when dissolved in fluids
impregnated with carbonic acid, must be regarded as undergoing a mechanical
process while they are being precipitated, deposited, and accumulated into
strata.  This view is of some importance with respect to the envelopment of
organic bodies in petrifying calcareous beds.  The most ancient sediments of
the transition and secondary formations have probably been formed from water
at a more or less high temperature, and at a time when the heat of the upper
surface of the earth was still very considerable.  Considered in this point
of view, a Plutonic action seems to a certain extent also to have taken
place in the sedimentary strata, especially the more ancient; but these
strata appear to have been hardened into a schistose structure, and under
great pressure, and not to have been solidified by cooling, like the rocks
that have issued from the interior, as, for instance, granite, porphyry, and
basalt.  By degrees, as the waters lost their temperature, and were able to
absorb a copious supply of the carbonic acid gas with which
p 255
the atmosphere was overcharged, they became fitted to hold in solution a
larger quantity of lime.

'The sedimentary strata', setting aside all other exogenous, purely
mechanical deposits of sand or detritus, are as follows:

'Schist', of the lower and upper transition rock, compositing the silurian
and devonian formations; from the lower silurian strata, which were once
termed cambrian, to the upper strata of the old red sandstone or devonian
formation, immediately in contact with the mountain limestone.

'Carboniferous deposits':

'Limestones' imbedded in the transition and carboniferous formations;
zechstein, muschelkalk, Jura formation and chalk, also that portion of the
tertiary formation which is not included in sandstone and conflomerate.

'Travertine', fresh-water limestone, and silicious concretions of hot
springs, formations which have not been produced under the pressure of a
large body of sea water, but almost in immediate contact with the
atmosphere, as in shallow marshes and streams.

'Infusorial deposits':  geognostical phenomena, whose great importance in
proving the influence of organic activity in the formation of the solid part
of the earth's crust was first discovered at a recent period by my
highly-gifted friend and fellow-traveler, Ehrenberg.

If, in this short and superficial view of the mineral constituents of the
earth's crust, I do not place immediately after the simple sedimentary rocks
the conglomerates and sandstone formations which have also been deposited as
sedimentary strata from liquids, and which have been imbedded alternately
with schist and limestone, it is only because they contain, together with
the detritus of eruptive and sedimentary rocks, also the detritus of gneiss,
mica slate, and other metamorphic masses.  The obscure process of this
metamorphism, and the action if produces, must therefore compose the third
class of the fundamental forms of rock.

Endogenous or erupted rocks (granite, porphyry, and melaphyre) produce, as I
have already frequently remarked, not only cynamical, shaking, upheaving
actions, either vertically or laterally displacing the strata, but they also
occasion changes in their chemical composition as well as in the nature of
their internal structure; new rocks being thus formed, as gneiss, mica
slate, and granular limestone (Carrara and Parian marble).  The old silurian
or devonian transition schists, the belemnitic limestone of Tarantaise, and
the dull gray calcareous
p 256
sandstone ('Macigno'), which contains alggae found in the northern
Apennines, often assume a new and more brilliant appearance after their
metamorphosis, which renders it difficult to recognize them.  The theory of
metamorphism was not established until the individual phases of the change
were followed step by step, and direct chemical experiments on the
difference in the fusion point, in the pressure and time of cooling, were
brought in aid of mere inductive conclusions.  Where the study of chemical
combinations is regulated by leading ideas,* it may be the means of throwing
a clear light on the wide field of geognosy, and over the vast laboratory of
nature in which rocks are continually being formed and modified by the
agency of subterranean forces.

[footnote]  *See the admirable researches of Mitscherlich, in the 'Abhandl.
der Berl. Akad.' for the years 1822 and 1823, s. 25-41; and in Poggend.,
'Annalen', bd. x., s. 137-152; bd. xi., s. 323-332; bd. sli., s. 213-216
(Gustav Rose, 'Ueber Gildung des Kalkspaths und Aragonits', in Poggend.,
'Annalen', bd. xli., s, 353-366; Haidinger, in the 'Transactions of the
Royal Society of Edinburgh', 1827, p. 148.)

The philosopohical inquirer will escape the deception of apparent analogies,
and the danger of being led astray by a narrow view of natural phenomena, if
he constantly bear in view the complicated conditions which may, by the
intensity of their force, have modified the counteracting effect of those
individual substances whose nature is better known to us.  Simple bodies
have, no doubt, at all periods, obeyed the same laws of attraction, and,
wherever apparent contradictions present themselves, I am confident that
chemistry will in most cases be able to trace the cause to some
corresponding error in the experiment.

Observations made with extreme accuracy over large tracts of land, show that
erupted rocks have not been produced in an irregular and unsystematic
manner.  In parts of the globe most remote from one another, we often find
that granite, basalt, and diorite have exercised a regular and uniform
metamorphic action, even in the minutest details, on the strata of
argillaceous slate, dense limestone, and the grains of quartz in sandstones.
 As the same endogenous rock manifests almost every where the same degree of
activity, so on the contrary, different rocks belonging to the same class,
whether to the endogenous or the  erupted, exhibit great differences in
their character.  Intense heat has undoubtedly influenced all these
phenomena, but the degree of fluidity (the more or less perfect mobility of
the particles -- their more viscous composition) has varied very
considerably from the granite to the basalt, while at different geological
p 257
periods (or metamorphic phases of the earth's crust) other substances
dissolved in vapors have issued from the interior of the earth
simultaneously with the eruption of granite, basalt, greenstone porphyry,
and serpentine.  This seems a fitting place again to draw attention to the
fact that, according to the admirable views of modern geognosy, the
metamorphism of rocks is not a mere phenomenon of contact, limited to the
effect produced by the apposition of two rocks, since it comprehends all the
generic phenomena that have accompanied the appearance of a particular
erupted mass.  Even where there is no immediate contact, the proximity of
such a mass gives rise to modifications of solidification, cohesion,
granulation, and crystallization.

All eruptive rocks penetrate, as ramifying veins either into the sedimentary
strata, or into other equally endogenous masses; but there is a special
importance to be attached to the difference manifested between 'Plutonic'
rocks* (granite, porphyry, and serpentine) and those termed 'volcanic' in
the strict sense of the word (as trachyte, basalt, and lava).

[footnote]  ([Lyell, 'Principales of Geology', vol. i.i., p. 353 and 359.]
-- Tr.

The rocks produced by the activity of our present volcanoes appear as
band-like streams, but by the confluence of several of them they may form an
extended basin.  Wherever it has been possible to trace basaltic eruptions,
they have generally been found to terminate in slender threads.  Examples of
these narrow openings may be found in three places in Germany:  in the
'Pflaster-kaute', at Marksuhl, eight miles from Eisenach; in the blue
'Kuppe', near Eschwege, on the banks of the Werra; and in the Druidical
stone on the Hollert road (Siegen), where the basalt has broken through the
variegated sandstone and graywacke slate, and has spread itself into
cup-like fungoid enlargements, which are either grouped together like rows
of columns, or are sometimes stratified in thin laminae.  The case is
otherwise with granite, syenite, quartzose porphyry, serpentine, and the
whole series of unstratified compact rocks, to which, from a predilection
for a mythological nomenclature, the term Plutonic has been applied.  These,
with the exception of occasional veins, were probably not erupted in a state
of fusion, but merely in a softened condition; not from narrow fissures, but
from long and widely-extending gorges.  They have been protruded, but have
not flowed forth, and are found not in streams like lava, but in extended

[footnote]  *The description here given of the relation of position under
which granite occurs, expresses the general or leading character of the
whole formation.  But its aspect at some places leads to the belief that it
was occasionally more fluid at the period of its eruption.  The description
given by Rose, in his 'Reise nach dem Ural', bd. i., s. 599, of part of the
Narym chain, near the frontiers of the Chinese territories, as well as the
evidence afforded by trachyte, as described by Dufrenoy and Elie de
Beaumont, in their 'Description Geologique de la France', t. i., p. 70.
Having already spoken in the text of the narrow apertures through which the
basalts have sometimes been effused, I will here notice the large fissures,
which have acted as conducting passages for melaphyres, which must not be
confounded with basalts.  See Murchison's interesting account ('The Silurian
System', p. 126) of a fissure 480 feet wide, through which melaphyre has
been ejected, at the coal-mine at Cornbrook, Hoar Edge.

Some groups of dolerite and trachyte indicate
p 258
a certain degree of basaltic fluidity; others, which have been expanded into
vast craterless domes, appear to have been only in a softened condition at
the time of their elevation.  Other trachytes, like those of the Andes, in
which I have frequently perceived a striking analogy with the greenstones
and syenitic porphyries (which are argentiferous, and without quartz), are
deposited in the same manner as granite and quartzose porphyry.

Experiments on the changes which the texture and chemical constitution of
rocks experience from the action of heat, have shown that volcanic masses*
(diorite, augitic porphyry, basalt, and the lava of AEtna) yield different
products, according to the difference of the pressure under which they have
been fused, and the length of time occupied during their cooling; thus,
where the cooling was rapid, they form a black glass, having a homogeneous
fracture, and where the cooling was slow, a stony mass of granular
crystalline structure.

[footnote]  *Sir James Hall, in the 'Edin. Trans.', vol. v., p. 43, and vol.
vi., p. 71; Gregory Watt, in the 'Phil. Trans. of the Roy. Soc. of London
for' 1804, Part ii., p. 279; Dartigues and Fleurieu de Bellevue, in the
'Journal de Physique', t. lx., p. 456; Bischof, 'Warmelchre', s. 313 und 443.

In the latter case, the crystals are formed partly in cavities and partly
inclosed in the matrix.  The same materials yield the most dissimilar
products, a fact that is of the greatest importance in reference to the
study of the nature of erupted rocks, and of the metamorphic action which
they occasion.  Carbonate of lime, when fused under great pressure, does not
lose its carbonic acid, but becomes, when cooled, granular limestone; when
the crystallization has been effected by the dry method, saccharoidal
marble; while by the humid method, calcareous spar and aragonite and
produced, the former under a lesser degree of temperature than the latter.*

[footnote]  *Gustav Rose, in Poggend., 'Annalen.' bd. xliii., s 364.

Differences of temperature
p 259
likewise modify the direction in which the different particles arrange
themselves in the act of crystallization, and also affect the form of the

[footnote]  *On the dimorphism of sulphur, see Mitscherlich, 'Lehrbuch der
Chemie', 55-63.

Even when a body is not in a fluid condition, the smallest particles may
undergo certain relations in their various modes of arrangement, which are
manifested by the different action on light.*

[footnote]  *On gypsum as a uniaxal crystal, and on the sulphate of
magnesia, and the oxyds of zinc and nickel, see Mitscherlich, in Poggend.,
'Annalen.' bd. xi., s. 328.

The phenomena presented by devitrification, and by the formation of steel by
cementation and casting -- the transition of the fibrous in the granular
tissue of the iron, from the action of heat* and probably, also, by regular
and long-continued concussions -- likewise throw a considerable degree of
light on the geological process of metamorphism.

[footnote]  *Coste, 'Versuche am Creusot uber das bruchig werden des
Stabeisens.'  Elie de Beaumont, 'Mem. Geol.', t. ii., p. 411.

Heat may even simultaneously induce opposite actions in crystalline bodies;
for the admirable experiments of Mitscherlich have established the fact*
that calcareous spar, without altering its condition of aggregation, expands
in the direction of one of its axes and contracts in the other.

[footnote]  * Mitscherlich, 'Ueber die Ausdehnung der Krystallisirten Korper
durch die Warmelehre', in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. x., s. 151.

If we pass from these general considerations to individual examples, we find
that schist is converted, by the vicinity of Plutonic erupted rocks, into a
bluish-black, glistening roofing slate.  Here the planes of stratification
are intersected by another system of divisional stratification, almost at
right angles with the former,* and thus indicating an action subsequent to
the alteration.

[footnote]  * On the double system of divisional planes, see Elie de
Beaumont, 'Geologie de la France', p. 41; Credner, 'Geognosie Thuringens und
des Harzes', s. 40; and Romer, 'Das Rheinische Uebergangsgebirge', 1844. s.
5 und 9.

The penetration of silica causes the argillaceous schist to be traversed by
quartz, transforming it, in part, into whetstone and silicious schist; the
latter sometimes containing carbon, and being then capable of producing
galvanic effects on the nerves.  The highest degree of silicifaction of
schist is that observed in ribbon jasper, a material highly valuable in the
arts,* and which is produced in the Oural Mountains
p 260
by the contact and eruption of augitic porphyry (at Orsk), of dioritic
porphyry (at Aufschkul), or of a mass of hypersthenic rock conglomerated
into spherical masses (at Bogoslowsk).  At Monte Serrato, in the island of
Elba, according to Frederic Hoffman, and in Tuscany, according to Alexander
Brongniart, it is formed by contact with euphotide and serpentine.

[footnote]  *The silica is not merely colored by peroxyd of iron, but is
accompanied by clay, lime, and potash.  Rose, 'Reise', bd. ii., s. 187.  On
the formation of jasper by the action of dioritic porphyry, augite, and by
persthene rock, see Rose, bd. ii., s. 169, 187, und 192.  See, also, bd. i.,
s. 427, where there is a drawing of the porphyry spheres between which
jasper occurs, in the calcareous graywacke of Bogoslowsk, being produced by
the Plutonic influence of the augitic rock; bd. ii., s. 545; and likewise
Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 486.

The contact and Plutonic action of granite have sometimes made argillaceous
schist granular, as was observed by Gustav Rose and myself in the Altai
Mountains (within the fortress of Buchtarminsk),* and have transformed it
into a mass resembling granite, consisting of a mixture of feldspar and
mica, in which larger laminae of the latter were again imbedded.**

[footnote]  *Rose, 'Reise nach dem Ural', bd. i., s. 586-588.

[footnote]  **In respect to the volcanic origin of mica, it is important to
notice that crystals of mica are found in the basalt of the Bohemian
Mittelgebirge, in the lava that in 1822 was ejected from Vesuvius
(Monticelli, 'Storia del Vesuvio negli Anni 1821 e 1822', 99), and in
fragments of agrillaceous alte imbedded in scoriaceous basalt at Hohenfels,
not far from Gerolstein, in the Eifel (see Mitscherlich, in Leonhard,
'Basalt-Gebilde', s. 244).  On the formation of feldspar in argillaceous
schist, through contact with porphyry, occurring between Urval and Po•et
(Forez), see Dufrenoy, in 'Geol. de la France', t. i., p. 137.  It is
probably to a similar contact that certain schists near Paimpol, in
Brittany, with whose appearance I was much struck, while making a geological
pedestrian tour through that interesting country with Professor Kunth, owe
their amygdaloid and cellular character, t. i., p. 234.

Most geognosists adhere, with Leopold von Buch, to the well-known hypothesis
"that all the gneiss in the silurian strata of the transition formation,
between the Icy Sea and the Gulf of Finland, has been produced by the
metamorphic action of granite.*

[footnote]  * Leopold von Buch, in the 'Abhandlungen der Akad. der
Wissenschaft zu Berlin, aus dem Jahr' 1842, s. 63, and in the 'Jahrbuchern
fur Wissenschaftliche Kritik Jahrg.' 1840, s. 196.

In the Alps, at St. Gothard, calcareous marl is likewise changed from
granite into mica slate, and then transformed into gneiss."  Similar
phenomena of the formation of gneiss and mica slate through granite present
themselves in the oolitic group of the Tarantaise,* in which belemnites are
p 261
found in rocks, which have some claim to be considered as mica slate, and in
the schistose group in the western part of the island of Elba, near the
promontory of Calamita, and the Fichtelgebirge in Baireuth, between Loomitz
and Markleiten.**

[footnote]  * Elie de Beaumont, in the 'Annales des Sciences Naturelles', t.
xv., p. 362-372.  "In approaching the primitive masses of Mont Rosa, and the
mountains situated to the west of Coni, we perceive that the secondary
strata gradually lose the characters inherent in their mode of deposition.
Frequently assuming a character apparently arising from a perfectly distinct
cause, but not losing their stratification, they somewhat resemble in their
physical structure a brand of half-consumed wood, in which we can follow the
traces of the ligneous fibers beyond the spots which continue to present the
natural characters of wood."  (See, also, the 'Annales des Sciences
Naturelles', t. xiv., p. 118-122, and von Dechen, 'Geognosie', s. 553.)
Among the most striking proofs of the transformation of rocks by Plutonic
action, we must place the belemites in the schists of Nuffenen (in the
Alpine valley of Eginen and in the Gries-glaciers), and the belemnites found
by M. Charpentier in the so-called primitive limestone on the western
descent of the Col de la Seigne, between the Enclove de Monjovet and the
'chalet' of La Lanchette, and which he showed to me at Bex in the autumn of
1822 ('Annales de Chimie', t. xxiii., p. 262).

[footnote]  ** Hoffmann, in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xvi., s. 552, "Strate
of transition argillaceous schist in the Fichtelgebirge, which can be traced
for a length of 16 miles, are transformed into gneiss only at the two
extremities, where they come in contact with granite.  We can there follow
the gradual formation of the gneiss, and the development of the mica and of
the feldspathic amygdaloids, in the interior of the argillaceous schist,
which indeed contains in itself almost all the elements of these substances."

Jasper, which,* as I have already remarked, is a production formed by the
volcanic action of augitic porphyry, could only be obtained in small
quantities by the ancients, while another material, very generally and
efficiently used by them in the arts, was granular or saccharoidal marble,
which is likewise to be regarded solely as a sedimentary stratum altered by
terrestrial heat and by proximity with erupted rocks.

[footnote]  * Among the works of art which have come down to us from the
ancient Greeks and Romans, we observe that none of any size -- as columns or
large vases -- are formed from jasper; and even at the present day, this
substance, in large masses, is only obtained from the Ural Mountains.  The
material worked as jasper from the Rhubarb Mountain (Raveniaga Sopka), in
Altai, is a beautiful ribboned porphyry.  The word 'jasper' is derived from
the Semitic languages; and from the confused description of Theophrastus
('De Lapidibus', 23 and 27) and Pliny (xxxvii., 8 and 9), who rank jasper
among the "opaque gems," the name appears to have been given to fragments of
'jaspachat', and to a substance which the ancients termed 'jasponyx', which
we now know as 'opal-jasper'.  Pliny considers a piece of jasper eleven
inches in length so rare as to require his mentioning that he had actually
seen such a specimen:  "Magnitudinem jaspidis undecim unciarum vidimus,
formatamque inde effigem Neronis thoracatam."  According to Theophrastus,
the stone which he calls emerald, and from which large obelists were cut,
must have been an imperfect jasper.

This opinion is corroborated by the accurate observations on the phenomena
of contact, by the remarkable experiments on fusion
p 262
made by Sir James Hall more than half a century ago, and by the attentive
study of granitic veins, which has contributed so largely to the
establishment of modern geognosy.  Sometimes the erupted rock has not
transformed the compact into granular limestone to any great depth from the
point of contact.  Thus, for instance, we meet with a slight transformation
-- a penumbra -- as at Belfast, in Ireland, where the basaltic veins
traverse the chalk, and, as in the compact calcareous beds, which have been
partially inflected by the contact of syenitic granite, at the Bridge of
Boscampo and the Cascade of Conzocoli, in the Tyrol (rendered celebrated by
the mention made of it by Count Mazari Peucati).*

[footnote[  *Humboldt, 'Lettre a M. Brochant de Villiers', in the 'Annales
de Chimie et de Physique', t. xxiii., p. 261; Leop. von Buch, 'Geog. Briefe
uber das sudliche Tyrol', s. 101, 105, und 273.

Another mode of transformation occurs where all the strata of the compact
limestone have been changed into granular limestone by the action of
granite, and syenitic or dioritic porphyry.*

[footnote]  *On the transformation of compact into granular limestone by the
action of granite, in the Pyrenees at the 'Montagnes de Rancie', see
Dufrenoy, in the 'Memoires Geologiques', t. ii., p. 440; and on similar
changes in the 'Montagnes de l'Oisans', see Elie de Beaumont, in the 'Mem.
Geolog.', t. ii., p. 379-415; on a similar effect produced by the  action of
dioritic and pyroxenic porphyry (the 'ophite' described by Elie de Beaumont,
in the 'Geologie de la France', t. i., p. 72), between Tolosa and St.
Sebastian, see Dufrenoy, in the 'Mem. Geolog.', t. ii., p. 130; and by
syenite in the Isle of Skye, where the fossils in the altered limestone may
still be distinguished, see Von Dechen, in his 'Geognosie', p. 573.  In the
transformation of chalk by contact with basalt, the transposition of the
most minute particles in the processes of crystallization and granulation is
the more remarkable, because the excellent microscopic investigations of
Ehrenberg have shown that the particles of chalk previously existed in the
form of closed rings.  See Poggend., 'Annalen der Physic', bd. xxxix., s.
105; and on the rings of aragonite deposited from solution, see Gustav Rose
in vol. xlii., p. 354, of the same journal.

I would here wish to make special mention of Parian and Carrara marbles,
which have acquired such celebrity from the noble works of art into which
they have been converted, and which have too long been considered in our
geognostic collections as the main types of primitive limestone.  The action
of granite has been manifested sometimes by immediate contact, as in the
Pyrenees,* and sometimes, as in the main land of Greece, and in the insular
groups in the gean Sea, through the intermediate layers of gneiss or mica

[footnote]  *Beds of granular limestone in the granite at Port d'Oo and in
the Mont de Labourd.  See Charpentier, 'Constitution Geologique des
Pyrenes', p. 144, 146.

Both cases presuppose a simultaneous but heterogeneous process of
p 263
In Attica, in the island of Euboea, and in the Peloponnesus, it has been
remarked, "that the limestone, when superposed on mica slate, is beautiful
and crystalline in proportion to the purity of the latter substance and to
the smallness of its argillaceous contents; and, as is well known, this
rock, together with beds of gneiss, appears at many points, at a
considerable depth below the surface, in the islands of Paros and

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, 'Descr. des Canaries', p. 394; Fiedler, 'Reise
durch das Konigreich Griechenland', th. ii., s., 181, 190, und 516.

We may here infer the existence of an imperfectly metamorphosed flotz
formation, if faith can be yielded to the testimony of Origen, according to
whom, the ancient Eleatic, Xenophanes of Colophon* (who supposed the whole
earth's crust to have been once covered by the sea), declared that marine
fossils had been found in the quarries of Syracuse, and the impression of a
fish (a sardine) in the deepest rocks of Paros.

[footnote]  *I have previously alluded to the remarkable passage in Origen's
'Philosophumena', cap. 14 ('Opera', ed. Delarue, t. i., p. 893).  From the
whole context, it seems very improbable that Xenophanes meant an impression
of a laurel ([Greek words]) instead of an impression of a fish ([Greek
words]).  Delarue is wrong in blaming the correction of Jacob Gronovius in
changing the laurel into a sardel.  The petrifaction of a fish is also much
more probable than the natural picture of Silenus, which, according to Pliny
(lib. xxxvi., 5), the quarry-men are stated to have met with in Parian
marble from Mount Marpessos.  'Servius ad Virg., AEn.', vi., 471.

The Carrara or Luna marble quarries, which constituted the principal source
from which statuary marble was derived even prior to the time of Augustus,
and which will probably continue to do so until the quarries of Paros shall
be reopened, are beds of calcareous sandstone -- macigno -- altered by
Plutonic action, and occurring in the insulated mountain of Apuana, between
gneiss-like mica and talcose schist.*

[footnote]  *On the geognostic relations of Carrara ('The City of the Moon',
Strabo, lib. v., p. 222), see Savi 'Osservazioni sui terreni antichi
Toscani', in the 'Nuova Giornale de' Letterati di Pisa', and Hoffmann, in
Karsten's 'Archiv fur Mineralogie', bd. vi., s. 258-263, as well as in his
'Geogn. Reise durch Italien', s. 244-265.

Whether at some points granular limestone may not have been formed in the
interior of the earth, and been raised by gneiss and syenite to the surface,
where it forms vein-like fissures,* is a question on which I can not hazard
an opinion, owing to my own want of personal knowledge of the subject.

[footnote]  *According to the assumption of an excellent and very
experienced observer, Karl von Leonhard.  See his 'Jahrbuch fur
Mineralogie', 1834 s. 329, and Bernhard Cotta, 'Geognosie', s. 310.

p 264
According to the admirable observations of Leopold von Buch, the masses of
dolomite found in Southern Tyrol, and on the Italian side of the Alps,
present the most remarkable instance of metamorphism produced by massive
eruptive rocks on compact calcareous beds.  The formation of the limestone
seems to have proceeded from the fissures which traverse it in all
directions.  The cavities are every where covered with rhomboidal crystals
of magnesian bitter spar, and the whole formation, without any trace of
strtification, or of the fossil remains which it once contained, consists
only of a granular aggregation of crystals of dolomite.  Talc laminae lie
scattered here and there in the newly-formed rock, traversed by masses of
serpentine.  In the valley of the Fassa, dolomite rises perpendicularly in
smooth walls of dazzling whiteness to a height of many thousand feet.  It
forms sharply-pointed conical mountains, clustered together in large
numbers, but yet not in contact with each other.  The contour of their forms
recalls to mind the beautiful landscape with which the rich imagination of
Leonardi da Vinci has embellished the back-ground of the portrait of Mona

The geognostic phenomena which we are now describing, and which excite the
imagination as well as the powers of the intellect, are the result of the
action of augite porphyry manifested in its elevating, destroying, and
transforming force.*

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, 'Geognostische Briefe an Alex. von Humboldt',
1824, s. 86 and 82; also in the 'Annalen de Chemie', t. xxiii., p. 276, and
in the 'Abhandl. der Berliner Akad. aus der Jahren 1822 'und' 1823, s.
83-136; Von Dechen, 'Geognosie.' s. 574-576.

The process by which limestone is converted into dolomite is not regarded by
the illustrious investigator who first drew attention to the phenomenon as
the consequence of the tale being derived from the black porphyry, but
rather as a transformatiion simultaneous with the appearance of this erupted
stone through wide fissures filled with vapors.  It remains for future
inquirers to determine how transformation can have been effected without
contact with the endogenous stone, where strata of dolomite are found to be
interspersed in imestone.  Where, in this case, are we to seek the concealed
channels by which the Plutonic action is conveyed?  Even here it may not,
however, be necessary, in conformity with the old Roman adage, to believe
"that much that is alike in nature may have been formed in wholly different
ways."  When we find, over widely extended parts of the earth, that two
phenomena are always associated together, as, for instance, the occurrence
of melaphyre
p 265
and the transformation of compact limestone into a crystaline mass differing
in its chemical character, we are, to a certain degree, justified in
believing, where the second phenomenon is manifested unattended by the
appearance of the first, that this apparent contradiction is owing to the
absence, in certain cases, of some of the conditions attendant upon the
exciting causes.  Who would call in question the volcanic nature and igneous
fluidity of basalt merely because there are some rare instances in which
basaltic veins, traversing beds of coal or strata of sandstone and chalk,
have not materially deprived the coal of its carbon, nor broken and slacked
the sandstone, not converted the chalk into granular marble?  Wherever we
have obtained even a faint light to guide us in the obscure domain of
mineral formation, we ought not ungratefully to disregard it, because there
may be much that is still unexplained in the history of the relations of the
transitions, or in the isolated interposition of beds of unaltered strata.

After having spoken of the alteration of compact carbonate of lime into
granular limestone and dolomite, it still remains for us to mention a third
mode of transformation of the same mineral, which is ascribed to the
emission, in the ancient periods of the world, of the vapors of sulphuric
acid.  This transformation of limestone into gypsum is analogous to the
penetration of rock salt and sulphur, the latter being deposited from
sulphureted aqueous vapor.  In the lofty Cordilleras of Quindin, far from
all volcanoes, I have observed deposits of sulphur in fissures in gneiss,
while in Sicily (at Cattolica, near Girgenti), sulphur, gypsum, and rock
salt belong to the most recent secondary strata, the chalk formations.*

[footnote]  *Horrman, 'Geogn. Reise', edited by Von Dechen, s. 113-119, and
380-386; Poggend., 'Annalen der Physik', bd. xxvi., s. 41.

I have also seen on the edge of the crater of Vesuvius, fissures filled with
rock salt, which occurred in such considerable masses as occasionally to
lead to its being disposed of by contraband trade.  On both declivities of
the Pyrenees, the connection of diorite and pyroxene, and colomite, gypsum,
and rock salt, can not be questioned;* and here, as in the other phenomena
which we have been considering, every thing bears evidence of the action of
subterranean forces on the sedimentary strata of the ancient sea.

[footnote]  *Dufrenoy, in the 'Memoires Geologiques', t. ii., p. 145 and 179.

There is much difficulty in explaining the origin of the beds of pure
quartz, which occur in such large quantities in South America, and impart so
peculiar a character to the chain of
p 266
the Andes.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Essai Geogn. sur le Gisement des Roches', p. 93;
'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 532.

In descending toward the South Sea, from Caxamarca toward Guangamarca, I
have observed vast masses of quartz, from 7000 to 8000 feet in height,
superposed sometimes on porphyry devoid of quartz, and sometimes on diorite.
 Can these beds have been transformed from sandstone, as Elie de Beaumont
conjectures in the case of the quartz strata on the Col de la Poissonniere,
east of Brianon?*

[footnote]  *Elie de Beaumont, in the 'Annales des Sciences Naturelles', t.
xv., p. 362; Murchison, 'Silurian System', p. 286.

In the Brazils, in the diamond district of Minas Geraes and St. Paul, which
has recently been so accurately investigated by Clausen, Plutonic action has
developed in dioritic veins sometimes ordinary mica, and sometimes specular
iron in quartzose itacolumite.  The diamonds of Grammagoa are imbedded in
strata of solid silica, and are occasionally enveloped in laminae of mica,
like the garnets found in mica slate.  The diamonds that occur furthest to
the north, as those discovered in 1829 at 58 degrees lat., on the European
slope of the Uralian Mountains, bear a geognostic relation to the black
carboniferous dolomite of Adolffskoi* and to augitic porphyry, although more
accurate observations are required in order fully to elucidate this subject.

[footnote]  *Rose, 'Reise nach dem Ural', bd. i., s. 364 und 367.

Among the most remarkable phenomena of contact, we must, finally, enumerate
the formation of garnets in argillaceous schist in contact with basalt and
dolerite (as in Northumberland and the island of Anglesea), and the
occurrence of a vast number of beautiful and most various crystals, as
garnets, vesuvian, augite, and ceylanite, on the surfaces of contact between
the erupted and sedimentary rock, as, for instance, on the junction of the
syenite of Monzon with dolomite and compact limestone.

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, 'Briefe', s. 109-129.  See also, Elie de
Beaumont 'On the Contact of Granite with the Beds of the Jura', in the 'Mem.
Geol.' t. ii., p. 408.

In the island of Elba, masses of serpentine, which perhaps nowhere more
clearly indicate the character of erupted rocks, have occasioned the
sublimation of iron glance and red oxyd of iron in fissures of calcareous

[footnote]  *Hoffman, 'Reise', s. 30 und 37.

We still daily find the same iron glance formed by sublimation from the
vapors and the walls of the fissures of open veins on the margin of the
crater, and in the fresh lava currents of the volcanoes of Stromboli,
Vesuvius, and AEtna.*

[footnote]  *On the chemical process in the formation of specular iron, see
Gay Lussac, in the 'Annales de Chimie', t. xxii., p. 415, and Mitscherlich,
in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xv., s. 630.  Moreover, crystals of olivine have
been formed (probaby by sublimation) in the cavities of the obsidian of
Cerro del Jacal, which I brought from Mexico (Gustav Rose, in Poggend.,
'Annalen', bd. x., s. 323).  Hence olivine occurs in basalt, lava, obsidian,
artificial scoriae in meteoric stones, in the syenite of Elfdale, and (as
hyalosiderite) in the wacke of the Kaiserstuhl.

The veins that
p 267
are thus formed beneath our eyes by volcanic forces, where the contiguous
rock has already attained a certain degree of solidification, show us how,
in a similar manner, mineral and metallic veins may have been every where
formed in the more ancient periods of the world, where the solid but thinner
crust of our planet, shaken by earthquakes, and rent and fissured by the
change of volume to which it was subjected in cooling, may have presented
many communications with the interior, and many passages for the escape of
vapors impregnated with earthy and metallic substances.  The arrangement of
the particles in layers parallel with the margins of the beins, the regular
recurrence of analogous layers on the opposite sides of the veins (on their
different walls), and, finally, the elongated cellular cavities in the
middle, frequently afford direct evidence of the Plutonic process of
sublimation in metalliferous veins.  As the traversing rocks must be of more
recent origin than the traversed, we learn from the relations of
stratification existing between the porphyry and the argentiferous ores in
the Saxon mines (the richest and most important in Germany), that these
formations are at any rate more recent than the vegetable remains found in
carboniferous strata and in the red sandstone.*

[footnote]  *Constantin von Veust, 'Ueber die Porphyrgebilde', 1835, s.
89-96; also his 'Belenchtung der Werner'schen Gangtheorie', 1840, s. 6; and
C. von Wissenbach, 'Abbildungen merkwurdiger Gangverhaltnisse', 1836, fig.
12.  The ribbon-like structure of the veins is, however, no more to be
regarded of general occurrence than the periodic order of the different
members of these masses.

All the facts connected with our geological hypotheses on the formation of
the earth's crust and the metamorphism of rocks have been unexpectedly
elucidated by the ingenious idea which led to a comparison of the slags or
scoriae of our smelting furnaces with natural minerals, and to the attempt
of reproducing the latter from their elements.*

[footnote]  *Mitscherlich, 'Ueber die kunstliche Darstellung der
Mineralien', in the 'Abhandl. der Akademie der Wiss. zu Berlin', 1822-3, s.

In all these operations, the same affinities manifest themselves which
determine chemical combinations both in our laboratories and in the interior
of the earth.  The most considerable part of
p 268
the simple minerals which characterize the more generally diffused Plutonic
and erupted rocks, as well as those on which they have exercised a
metamorphic action, have been produced in a crystalline state, and with
perfect identify, in artificial mineral products.  We must, however,
distinguish here between the scoriae accidentally formed, and those which
have been designedly produced by chemists.  To the former belong feldspar,
mica, augite, olivine, hornblende, crystallized oxyd of iron, magnetic iron
in octahedral crystals, and metallis titanium;* to the latter, garnets,
idocrase, rubies (equal in hardness to those found in the East), olivine,
and augite.**

[footnote]  *In scoriae crystals of feldspar have been discovered by Heine
in the refuse of a furnace for copper fusing, near Sangerhausen, and
analyzed by Kersten (Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xxxiii., s. 337); crystals of
augite in scoriae at Sahle (Mitscherlich, in the 'Abhandl. der Akad. zu
Berlin', 1822-23, s. 40); of oliving by Seifstrom (Leonhard,
'Basalt-Gebilde', bd. ii., s. 495); of mica in old scoriae of Schloss
Garpenberg (Mitscherlich, in Leonhard, op. cit., s. 506); of magnetic iron
in the scoriae of Chatillon sur Seine (Leonhard, s. 441); and of micaceous
iron in potter's clay (Mitscherlich, in Leohnard, op. cit., s. 234).
[See Ebelmer's papers in 'Ann. de Chimie et de Physique', 1847; also 'Report
on the Crystalline Slags', by John Percy, M.D., F.R.S., and William Hallows
Miller, M.A., 1847.  Dr. Percy, in a communication with which he has kindly
favored me, says that the minerals which he has found artificially produced
and proved by analysis are Humboldtilite, gehlenite, olivine, and magnetic
oxyd of iron, in octahedral crystals.  He suggests that the circumstance of
the production of gehlenite at a high temperature in an iron furnace may
possibly be made available by geologists in explaining the formation of the
rocks in which the natural mineral occurs, as in Fassathal in the Tyrol.] --

[footnote]  **Of minerals purposely produced, we may mention idocrase and
garnet (Mitscherlich, in Poggend., 'Annalen der Physik', bd. xxxii., s.
340); ruby (Gaudin, in the 'Comptes Rendus de l'Academie de Science', t.
iv., Part i., p. 999); olivine and augite (Mitscherlich and Berthier, in the
'Annales de Chimie et de Physique', t. xxiv., p. 376).  Notwithstanding the
greatest possible similarity in crystalline form, and perfect identity in
chemical composition, existing, according to Gustav Rose, between augite and
hornblende, hornblende has never been found accompanying augite in scoriae,
nor have chemists ever succeeded in artificially producing either hornblende
or feldspar (Mitscherlich in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. xxxiii., s. 340, and
Rose, 'Reise nach dem Ural', bd. ii., s. 358 und 363).  See also, Beaudant,
in the 'Mem. de l'Acad. des Sciences', t. viii., p. 221, and Becquerel's
ingenious experiments in his 'Trait de l'Electricite,' t. i., p. 334; t.
iii., p. 218; and t. v., p. 148 and 185.

These minerals constitute the main constituents of granite, gneiss, and mica
schist, of basalt, dolerite, and many porphyries.  The artificial production
of feldspar and mica is of most especial geognostic importance with
reference to the theory of the formation of gneiss by the metamorphic agency
of argillaceous schist, which contains all the constituents of granite,
p 269
potash not excepted.*

[footnote]  *D'Aubuisson, in the 'Journal de Physique', t. lxviii., p. 128.

It would not be very surprising, therefore, as is well observed by the
distinguished geognosist, Von Dechen, if we were to meet with a fragment of
gneiss formed on the walls of a smelting furnace which was built of
argillaceous slate and graywacke.

After  having taken this general view of the three classes of erupted,
sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks of the earth's crust, it still remains
for us to consider the fourth class, comprising 'conglomerates', or 'rocks
of detrius'.  The very term recalls the destruction which the earth's crust
has suffered, and likewise, perhaps reminds us of the process of
cementation, which has connected together, by means of oxyd of iron, or of
some argillaceous and calcareous substances, the sometimes rounded and
sometimes angular portions of fragments.  Conglomerates and rocks of
detritus, when considered in the widest sense of the term, manifest
characters of a double origin.  The substances which enter into their
mechanical composition have not been alone accumulated by the action of the
waves of the sea or currents of fresh water, for there are some of these
rocks the formation of which can not be attributed to the action of water.
"When basaltic islands and trachytic rocks rise on fissures, friction of the
elevated rock against the walls of the fissures causes the elevated rock to
be inclosed by conglomerates composed of its own matter.  The granules
composing the sandstones of many formations have been separated rather by
friction against the erupted volcanic or Plutonic rock than destroyed by the
erosive force of a neighboring sea.  The existence of these friction
'conglomerates', which are met with in enormous masses in both hemispheres,
testifies the intensity of the force with which the erupted rocks have been
propelled from the interior through the earth's crust.  This detritus has
subsequently been taken up by the waters, which have then deposited it in
the strata which it still covers."*

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buck, 'Geognost. Briefe', s. 75-82, where it is also
shown why the new red sandstone (the 'Todtliegende' of the Thuringian flotz
formation) and the coal measures must be regarded as produced by erupted

Sandstone formations are found imbedded in all strata, from the lower
silurian transition stone to the beds of the tertiary formations, superposed
on the chalk. They are found on the margin of the boundless plains of the
New Continent, both within and without the tropics, extending like
breast-works along the ancient shore, against which the sea once broke its
foaming waves.

p 270
If we cast a glance on the geographical distribution of rocks, and their
relations in space, in that portion of the earth's crust which is accessible
to us, we shall find that the most universally distributed chemical
substance is 'silicic acid', generally in a variously-colored and opaque
form.  Next to solid silicic acid we must reckon carbonate of lime, and then
the combinations of silicic acid with alumina, potash, and soda, with lime,
magnesia, and oxyd of iron.

The substances which we designate as 'rocks' are determinate associations of
a small number of minerals, in which some combine parasitically, as it were,
with others, but only under definite relations; thus, for instance, although
quartz (silica), feldspar, and mica are the principal constituents of
granite, these minerals also occur, either individually or collectively, in
many other formations.  By way of illustrating how the quantitative
relations of one feldspathic rock differ from another, richer in mica than
the former, I would mention that, according to Mitscherlich, three times
more alumina and one third more silica than that ossessed by feldspar, give
the constituents that enter into the composition of mica.  Potash is
contained in both -- a substance whose existence in many kinds of rocks is
probably antecedent to the dawn of vegetation on the earth's surface.

The order of succession, and the relative age of the different formations,
may be recognized by the superposition of the sedimentary, metamorphic, and
conglomerate strata; by the nature of the formations traversed by the
erupted masses, and -- with the greatest certainty -- by the presence of
organic remains and the differences of their structure.  The application of
botanical and zoological evidence to determine the relative age of rocks --
this chronometry of the earth's surface, which was already present to the
lofty mind of Hooke -- indicates one of the most glorious epochs of modern
geognosy, which has finally, on the Continent at least, been emancipated
from the sway of Semitic doctrines.  Palaeontological investigations have
imparted a vivifying breath of grace and diversity to the science of the
solid structure of the earth.

The fossiliferous strata contain, entombed within them, the floras and
faunas of by-gone ages.  We ascend the stream of time, as in our study of
the relations of superposition we descend deeper and deeper through the
different strata, in which lies revealed before us a past world of animal
and vegetable life.  Far-extending disturbances, the elevation of great
mountain chains, whose relative ages we are able to define, attest the
p 271
destruction of ancient and the manifestation of recent organisms.  A few of
these older structures have remained in the midst of more recent species.
Owing to the limited nature of our knowledge of existence, and from the
figurative terms by which we seek to hide our ignorance, we apply the
appellation 'recent structure' to the historical henomena of transition
manifested in the organisms as well as in the forms of primitive seas and of
elevated lands.  In some cases these organized structures have been
preserved perfect in the minutest details of tissues, integument, and
articulated parts, while in others, the animal, passing over soft
argillaceous mud, has left nothing but the traces of its course,* or the
remains of its undigested food, as in the coprolites.**

[footnote]  *[In certain localities of the new red sandstone, in the Valley
of the Connecticut, numerous tridactyl markings have been occasionally
observed on the surface of the slabs of stone when split asunder, in like
manner as the ripple-marks appear on the successive layers of sandstone in
Tilgate Forest.  Some remarkably distinct impressions of this kind, at
Turner's Falls (Massachusetts), happening to attract the attention of Dr.
James Deane, of Greenfield, that sagacious observer was struck with their
resemblance to the foot-marks left on the mud-banks of the adjacent river by
the aquatic birds which had recenty frequented the spot.  The specimens
collected were submitted to Professor G. Hitchcock, who followed up the
inquiry with a zeal and success that have led to the most interesting
results.  No reasonable doubt now exists that the imprints in question have
been produced by the tracks of bipeds impressed on the stone when in a soft
state.  The announcement of this extraordinary phenomenon was first made by
Professor Hitchcock, in the 'American Journal of Science' (January, 1836),
and that eminent geologist has since published full descriptions of the
different species of imprints which he has detected, in his splendid work on
the geology of Massachusetts. -- Mantell's 'Medals of Creation', vol. ii.,
p. 310.  In the work of Dr. Mantell above referred to, there is, in vol.
ii., p. 815, an admirable diagram of a slab from Turner's Falls, covered
with numerous foot-marks of birds, indicating the track of ten or twelve
individuals of different sizes.] -- Tr.

[footnote]  **[From the examination of the fossils spoken of by geologists
under the name of 'Coprolites', it is easy to determine the nature of the
food of the animals, and some other points; and when, as happened
occasionally, the animal was killed while the process of digestion was going
on, the stomach and intestines being partly filled with half-digested food,
and exhibiting the coprolites actually 'in situ', we can make out with
certainty not only the true nature of the food, but the proportionate size
of the stomach, and the length and nature of the intestinal canal.  Within
the cavity of the rib of an extinct animal, the palaeontologist thus finds
recorded, in indelible characters, some of those hieroglyphics upon which he
founds his history. -- 'The Ancient World', by
D. T. Ansted, 1847, p. 173.] -- Tr.

In the lower Jura formations (the lias of Lyme Regis), the ink bag of the
sepia has been so wonderfully preserved, that the material, which myriads
p 272
of years ago might have served the animal to conceal itself from its
enemies, still yields the color with which its image may be drawn.*

[footnote]  *A discovery made by Miss Mary Anning, who was likewise the
discoverer of the coprolites of fish.  These coprolites, and the excrements
of the Ichthyosauri, have been found in such abundance in England (as, for
instance, near Lyme Regis), that, according to Buckland's expression, they
lie like potatoes scattered in the ground.  See Buckland, 'Geology
considered with reference to Natural Theology', vol. i., p. 188-202 and 305.
 With respect to the hope expressed by Hooke "to raise a chronology" from
the mere study of broken and fossilized shells "and to state the interval of
time wherein such or such castrophes and mutations have happened," see his
'Posthumous Works, Lecture', Feb. 29, 1688.
[Still more wonderful is the preservation of the substance of the animal of
certain Cephalopodes in the Oxford clay. In some specimens recently
obtained, and described by Professor Owen, not only the ink bag, but the
muscular mantle, the head, and its crown of arms, are all preserved in
connection with the belemnite shell, while one specimen exhibits the large
eyes and the funnel of the animal, and the remains of two fins, in addition
to the shell and the ink bag.  See Ansted's 'Ancient World', p. 147.] -- Tr.

In other strata, again, nothing remains but the faint impression of a muscle
shell; but even this, if it belong to a main dividion of mollusca,* may
serve to show the traveler, in some distant land, the nature of the rock in
which it is found, and the organic remains with which it is associated.

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, in the 'Abhandlungen der Akad. der Wiss. zu
Berlin in dem Jahr' 1837, s. 64.

Its discovery gives the history of the country in which it occurs.

The analytic study of primitive animal and vegetable life has taken a double
direction:  the one is purely morphological, and embraces, especially, the
natural history and physiology of organisms, filling up the chasms in the
series of still living species by the fossil structures of the primitive
world.  The second is more specially geognostic, considering fossil remains
in their relations to the superposition and relative age of the sedimentary
formations.  The former has long predominated over the latter, and an
imperfect and superficial comparison of fossil remains with existing species
has led to errors, which may still be traced in the extraordinary names
applied to certain natural bodies.  It was sought to identify all fossil
species with those still extant in the same manner as, in the sixteenth
century, men were led by false analogies to compare the animals of the New
Continent with those of the Old.  Peter Camper, Sommering, and Blumenbach
had the merit of being the first, by the scientific application of a more
p 273
comparative anatomy, to throw light on the osteological branch of
palaeontology -- the archaeology of organic life; but the actual geognostic
views of the doctrine of fossil remains, the felicitous combination of the
zoological character with the order of succession, and the relative ages of
strata, are due to the labors of George Cuvier and Alexander Brongniart.

The ancient sedimentary formations and those of transition rocks exhibit, in
the organic remains contained within them, a mixture of structures very
variously situated on the scale of progressively-developed organisms.  These
strata contain but few plants, as, for instance, some species of Fuci,
Lycopodiaceae which were probably arborescent, Equisetaceae, and tropical
ferns; they present, however, a singular association of animal forms,
consisting of Crustacea (trilobites with reticulated eyes, and Calymene),
Brachiopoda ('Spirifer, Orthis'), elegant Sphaeronites, nearly allied to the
Crinoidea,* Orthoceraitites, of the family of the Cephalopoda, corals, and,
blended with these low organisms, fishes of the most singular forms,
imbedded in the upper silurian formations.

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, 'Gebirgsformationen von Russland', 1840, s.

The family of the Cephalaspides, whose fragments of the species 'Pterichtys'
were long held to be trilobites, belongs exclusively to the devonian period
(the old red), manifesting, according to Agassiz, as peculiar a type among
fishes as do the Ichthyosauri and Plesiosauri among reptiles.*

[footnote]  *Agassiz, 'Monographie des Poissons Fossiles du vieux Gres
Rouge', p. vi. and 4.

The Goniatites, of the tribe of Ammonites,* a are manifested in the
transition chalk, in the graywacke of the devonian periods, and even in the
latest silurian formations.

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, in the 'Abhandl. der Berl. Akad.', 1838, s.
149-168; Beyrich, 'Beitr. zur Kenntniss des Rheinischen Uebergangagebirges',
1837, s. 45.

The dependence of physiological gradation upon the age of the formations,
which has not hitherto been shown with perfect certainty in the case of
invertebrata,* is most regularly manifested in vertebrated animals.

[footnote]  *Agassiz, 'Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles', t. i.,
'Introd.', p. xviii.; Davy, 'Consolation in Travel', dial. iii.

The most ancient of these, as we have already seen, are fishes; next in the
order of succession of formation, passing from the lower to the upper, come
reptiles and mammalia.  The first reptile (a Saurian, the Monitor of
Cuvier), which excited the attention of Leibnitz,* is found in cuperiferous
schist of the Zechstein of Thuringa; the Palaeosaurus and Thecodontosaurus
of  Bristol are, according to Murchison, of the same age.

[footnote]  *A Protosaurus, according to Hermann von Meyer.  The rib of a
Saurian asserted to have been found in the mountain limestone (carbonate of
lime) of Northumberland (Herm. von Meyer, 'Palaeologica', s. 299), is
regarded by Lyell ('Geology', 1832, vol. i., p. 148) as very doubtful.  The
discoverer himself referred it to the alluvial strata which cover the
mountain limestone.

The Saurians are found in large numbers in the muschelkalk,* in the keuper,
and in the oolitic formations, where they are the most numerous.

[footnote]  *F. von Alberti, 'Monographie des Bunten Sandsteins,
Muschelkalks und Keupers', 1834, s. 119 und 314.

At the period of these formations there existed Pleiosauri, having long,
swan-like necks consisting of thirty vertebrae; Megalosauri, monsters
resembling the crocodile, forty-five feet in length, and having feet whose
bones were like those of terrestrial mammalia, eight species of large-eyed
Ichthyosauri, the Geosaurus or 'Lacerta gigantea', of Sommering, and
finally, seven remarkable species of Pterodactyles,* of Saurians furnished
with membranous wings.

[footnote]  *See Hermann von Meyer's ingenious considertions regarding the
organization of the flying Saurians, in his 'Palaeologica', s. 228-252.  In
the fossil specimen of the Pterodactylus crassirostris, which, as well as
the loonger known P. longirostris (Ornithocephalus of Sommering), was found
at Solenhofen, in the lithographic slate of the upper Jura formation,
Professor Goldfuss has even discovered traces of the membranous wing, "with
the impressions of curling tufts of hair, in some places a full inch in

In the chalk the number of the crocodilial Saurians diminishes, although
this epoch is characterized by the so-called crocodile of Maestricht (the
Mososaurus of Conybeare), and the colossal, probably graminivorous Iguandon.
 Cuvier has found animals belonging to the existing families of the
crocodile in the tertiary formation, and Scheuchzer's 'antediluvian man'
('homo diluvii testis'), a large salamander allied to the Axolotl, which I
brought with me from the large Mexican lakes, belongs to the most recent
fresh-water formations of Oeningen.*

[footnote]  *[Ansted's 'Ancient World', p. 56.] -- Tr.

The determination of the relative ages of organisms by the superposition of
the strata has led to important results regarding the relations which have
been discovered between extinct families and species (the latter being but
few in number) and those which still exist.  Ancient and modern observations
concur in showing that the fossil floras and faunas differ more from the
present vegetable and animal forms in proportion as they belong to lower,
that is, more ancient sedimentary formations.  The numerical relations first
deduced by Cuvier
p 275
from the great phenomena of the metamorphism of organic life,* have led,
through the admirable labors of Deshayes and Lyell, to the most marked
results, especially with reference to the different groups of the tertiary
formations, which contain a considerable number of accurately investigated

[footnote]  *Cuvier, 'Recherches sur les Ossemens Fossiles', t. i., p.
52-57.  See, also, the geological scale of epochs in Phillips's 'Geology',
1837, p. 166-185.

Agassiz, who has examined 1700 species of fossil fishes, and who estimates
the number of living species which have either been described or are
preserved in museums at 8000, expressly  says, in his masterly work, that,
"with the exception of a few small fossil fishes peculiar to the
argillaceous geodes of Greenland, he has not found any animal of this class
in all the  transition, secondary or tertiary formations, which is
specifically identical with any still extant fish."  He subjoins the
important observation "that in the lower tertiary formations, for instance,
in the coarse granular calcareous beds, and in the London clay,* one third
of the fossil fishes belong to wholly extinct families.

[footnote]  *[See 'Wonders of Geology', vol. i., p. 230.] -- Tr.

Not a single species of a still extant family is to be found under the
chalk, while the remarkable family of the 'Sauroidi' (fishes with enameled
scales), almost allied to reptiles, and which are found from the coal beds
-- in which the larger species lie -- to the chalk, where they occur
individually, bear the same relation to the two families (the Lepidosteus
and Polypterus) which inhabit the American rivers and the Nile, as our
present elephants and tapirs do to the Mastodon and Anaplotheriun of the
primitive world."*

[footnote]  *Agassiz, 'Poissons Fossiles', t. i., p. 30, and t. iii., p.
1-52; Buckland, 'Geology', vol. i., p. 273-277.

The beds of chalk which contain two of these sauroid fishes and gigantic
reptiles, and a whole extinct world of corals and muscles, have been proved
by Ehrenberg's beautiful discoveries to consist of microscopic Polythalamia,
many of which still exist in our seas, and in the middle latitudes of the
North Sea and Baltic.  The first group of tertiary formations above the
chalk, which has been designated as belonging to the 'Eocene Period', does
not, therefore, merit that designation, since "the 'dawn of the world' in
which we live extends much further back in the history of the past than we
have hitherto supposed."*

[footnote]  *Ehrenberg, 'Ueber noch jetzt lebende Thierarten der
Kreidelnldung', in the 'Abhandl. der Berliner Akad.', 1839, s. 164.

As we have already seen, fishes, which are the most ancient of all
vertebrata, are found in the silurian transition strata,
p 276
and then uninterruptedly on through all formations to the strata of the
tertiary period, while Saurians begin with the zechstone.  In like manner,
we find the first mammalia ('Thylacotherium Prevostii', and 'T. Bucklandii',
which are nearly allied according to Valenciennes,*  with marsupial animals)
in the oolitic formations (Stonesfield schist), and the first birds in the
most ancient cretaceous strata.**

[footnote]  *Valenciennes, in the 'Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des
Sciences', t. vii., 1838, Part ii., p. 580.

[footnote]  **In the Weald clay; Bendant, 'Geologie', p. 173.  The
ornitholites increase in number in the gypsum of the tertiary formations.
Cuvier, 'Ossemens Fossiles', t. ii., p. 302-328.

Such are, according to the present state of our knowledge, the lowest*
limits of fishes, Saurians, mammalia, and birds.

[footnote]  *[Recent collections from the southern hemisphere show that this
distribution was not so universal during the earlier epochs as has generally
been supposed.  See papers by Darwin, Sharpe, Morris, and McCoy, in the
'Geological Journal'.] -- Tr'.

Although corals and Serpulidae occur in the most ancient formations
simultaneously with highly-developed Cephalopodes and Crustaceans, thus
exhibiting the most various orders grouped together, we yet discover very
determinate laws in the case of many individual groups of one and the same
orders.  A single species of fossil, as Goniatites, Trilobites, or
Nummulites, sometimes constitutes whole mountains.  Where  different
families are blended together, a determinate succession of organisms has not
only been observed with reference to the superposition of the formations,
but the association of certain families and species has also been noticed in
the lower strata of the same formation.  By his acute discovery of the
arrangement of the lobes of their chamber-sutures, Leopold von Buch has been
enabled to divide the innumerable quantity of Ammonites into
well-characterized families, and to show that Ceratites appertain to the
muschelkalk, Arietes to the lias, and Goniatites to transition limestone and

[footnote]  *Leop. von Buch, in the 'Abhandl. der Berl. Akad.', 1830, s.

The lower limits of Belemnites are, in the keuper, covered by Jura
limestone, and their upper limits in the chalk formations.*

[footnote]  *Quenstedt, 'Flotzgebirge Wurtembergs', 1843, s. 135.

It appears, from what we now know of this subject, that the waters must have
been inhabited at the same epoch, and in the most widely-remote districts of
the world, by shell-fish, which were at any rate, in part, identical with
the fossil remains found in England.  Leopold von Buch has discovered
exogyra and trigonia in the southern hemisphere (volcano of
p 277
Maypo in Chili), and D'Orbigny has described Ammonites and Gryphites from
the Himalaya and the Indian plains of Cutch, these remains being identical
with those found in the old Jurassic sea of Germany and France.

The strata which are distinguished by definite kinds of petrifacations, or
by the fragments contained within them, form a geognostic horizon, by which
the inquirer may guide his steps, and arrive at certain conclusions
regarding the identity or relative age of the formations, the periodic
recurrence of certain strata, their parallelism, or their total suppression.
 If certain strata, their parallelism, or their total suppression.  If we
classify the type of the sedimentary structures in the simplest mode of
generalization, we arrive at the following series in proceeding from below
1.  The so-called 'transition rocks', in the two divisions of upper and
lower graywacke (silurian and devonian systems), the latter being formerly
designated as old red sandstone.
2.  The 'lower trias',* comprising mountain limestone, coal-measures,
together with the lower new red sandstone (Todtliegende and Zechstein).**
3.  The 'upper trias', including variegated sandstone,** muschelkalk, and
4.  'Jura limestone' (lias and oolite).
5.  'Green sandstone', the quader sanstein, upper and lower chalk,
terminating the secondary formations, which begin with limestone.
6.  'Tertiary formations' in three divisions, distinguished as granular
limestone, the lignites, and the sub-Apennine gravel of Italy.

[footnote]  *Quenstedt, 'Flotzgebirge Wurtembergs', 1843, s. 13.

[footnote]  ** Murchison makes two divisions of the 'bunter sandstone', the
upper being the same as the 'trias' of Alberti, while the lower division, to
which the 'Vosges sandstone' of Elie de Beaumont belongs -- the 'zeckstein'
and the 'todtliegende' -- he forms his 'Permian' system.  He makes the
secondary formations commence with the 'upper trias', that is to say, with
the upper division of our (German) bunter sandstone, while the  Permian
system, the carboniferous or mountain limestone, and the devonian and
silurian strata, constitute his 'palaeozoic formatiions'.  According to
these views, the chalk and Jura constitute the upper, and the keuper, the
muschelkalk, and the bunter sandstone the lower secondary formations, while
the Permian system and the carboniferous limestone are the upper, and the
devonian and silurian strata are the lower palaeooic formation.  The
fundamental principles of this general classification are developed in the
great work in which this indefatigable British geologist purposes to
describe the geology of a large part of Eastern Europe.

Then follow, in the alluvial beds, the colossal bones of the mammalia of the
primitive world, as the mastodon, dinothrium
p 278
missurium, and the megatherides, among which is Owen's sloth-like mylodon,
eleven feet in the length.*

[footnote]  *[See Mantell's 'Wonders of Geology', vol. i., p. 168.] -- Tr.

Besides these extinct families, we find the fossil remains of still extant
animals, as the elephant, rhinoceros, ox, horse, and stag.  The field near
Bogota, called the 'Campo de Gigantes', which is filled with the bones of
mastodons, and in which I caused excavations to be made, lies 8740 feet
above the level of the sea, while the osseous remains, found in the elevated
plateaux of Mexico, belong to true elephants of extinct species.*

[footnote]  *Cuvier, 'Ossemens Fossiles', 1821, t. i., p. 157, 261, and 264.
 See, also, Humboldt, 'Ueber die Hochebene von Bogota', in the 'Deutschen
Vierteljahrs-schrift', 1839, bd. i., s. 117.

The projecting spurs of the Himalaya, the Sewalik Hills, which have been so
zealously investigated by Captain Cantley* and Dr. Falconer, and the
Cordilleras, whose elevations are probably, of very different epochs,
contain, besides numerous mastodons, the sivatherium, and the gigantic land
tortoise of the primitive world ('Colossochelys'),  which is twelve feet in
length and six in height, and several extant families, as elephants,
rhinoceroses, and giraffes; and it is a remarkable fact, that these remains
are found in a zone which still enjoys the same tropical climate which must
be supposed to have prevailed at the period of the mastodons.**

[footnote]  *[The fossil fauna of the Sewalik range of hills, skirting the
southern base of the Himalaya, has proved more abundant in genera and
species of mammalia than that of any other region yet explored.  As a
general expression of the leading features, it may be stated, that it
appears to have been composed of representative forms of all ages, from the
'oldest of the tertiary period down to the modern', and of 'all the
geographical' divisions of the Old Continent grouped together into one
comprehensive fauna.  'Fauna Antiqua Sivaliensis', by Hugh Falconer, M.D.,
and Major P. T. Cautley.] -- Tr.

Having thus passed in review both the inorganic formations of the earth's
crust and the animal remains which are contained within it, another branch
of the history of the organic life still remains for our consideration,
viz., the epoch of vegetation, and the successive floras that have occurred
simultaneously with the increasing extent of the dry land and the
modifications of the atmosphere.  The oldest transition strata, as we have
already observed, contain merely cellular marine plants, and it is only in
the devonian system that a few cryptogamic forms of vascular plants
(Calamites and Lycopodiaceae) have been observed.*

[footnote]  *Beyrich, in Karsteu's 'Archiv fur Mineralogie', 1844, bd.
xviii., s. 218.

Nothing appears to corroborate
p 279
the theoretical views that have been started regarding the simplicity of
primitive forms of organic life, ow that vegetable preceded animal life, and
that the former was necessarily dependent upon the latter.  The existence of
races of men inhabiting the icy regions of the North Polar lands, and whose
nutriment is solely derived from fish and cetaceans, shows the possibility
of maintaining life independently of vegetable substances.  After the
devonian system and the mountain limestone, we come to a formation, the
botanical analysis of which has made such brilliant advances in modern

[footnote]  *By the important labors of Count Sternberg, Adolphe Brongniart,
Goppert, and Lindley.

The coal measures contain not only fern-like cryptogamic plants and
phanerogamic monocotyledons (grasses, yucc-like Liliaceae and palms), but
also gymnospermic dicotyledons (Coniferae and Cycadeae), amounting in all to
nearly 400 species, as characteristic of the coal formations.  Of these we
will only enumerate arborescent Calamites and Lycopodiaceae, scaly
Lepidodendra, Sigillariae, which attain a height of sixty feet, and are
sometimes found standing upright, being distinguished by a double system of
vascular bundles, cactus-like Stigmariae, a great number of ferns, in some
cases the stems, and in others the fronds alone being found, indicating by
their abundance the insular form of the dry land,* Cycadeae** especially
palms, although fewer in number.***

[footnote]  *See Robert Brown's 'Botany of Congo', p. 42, and the Memoir of
the unfortunate E'Urville, 'De la Distribution des Fougeres sur la Surface
du Globe Terrestre'.

[footnote]  **Such are the Cycadeae discovered by Count Sternberg in the old
carboniferous formation at Radnitz, in Bohemia, and described by Corda (two
species of Cycatides and Zamites Cordai.  See Goppert, 'Fossile Cycadeen in
den Arbeiten der Schles. Gesellschaft, fur waterl. Cultur im Jahr' 1843, s.
33, 37, 40 and 50).  A Cycadea (Pterophyllum gonorchachis, Gopp.) has also
been found in the carboniferous formations in Upper Silesia, at Konigshutte.

[footnote]  ***Lindley, 'Fossil Flora', No. xv., p. 163.

Asterophyllites, having whorl-like leaves, and allied to the Naiades, with
araucaria-like Coniferae',* which exhibit faint traces of annual rings.

[footnote]  *'Fossil Coniferae', in Buckland's 'Geology', p. 483-490.
Witham has the great merit of having first recognized the existence of
Coniferae in the early vegetation of the old carboniferous formation.
Almost all the trunks of trees found in this formation were previously
regarded as palms.  The species of the genus 'Araucaria' are, however, not
peculiar to the coal formations of the British Islands; they likewise occur
in Upper Silesia.

This difference of character from our present vegtation, minifested in the
vegetative forms which were so luxuriously developed on the drier
p 280
and more elevated portions of the old red sandstone, was maintained through
all the subsequent epochs to the most recent chalk formations; amid the
peculiar characteristics exhibited in the vegetable forms contained in the
coal measures, there is, however, a strikingly-marked prevalence of the same
families, if not of the same species,* in all parts of the earth as it then
existed, as in New Holland, Canada, Greenland, and Melville Island.

[footnote[  *Adolphe Brongniart, 'Prodrome d'une Hist. des Vegetaux
Fossiles', p. 179; buckland, 'Geology', p. 479; Endlicher and Unger,
'Grundzuge der Botanik', 1843, s. 455.

The vegetation of the primitive period exhibits forms which, from their
simultaneous affinity with several families of the present world, testify
that many intermediate links must have become extinct in the scale of
organic development.  Thus, for example, to mention only two instances, we
would notice the Lepidodendra, which, according to Lindley, occupy a place
between the Coniferae and the Lycopodiaceae*, and the Araucariae and pines,
which exhibit some peculiarities in the union of their vascular bundles.

[footnote]  *"By means of Lepidodendron, a better passage is established
from flowering to flowerless plants than by either Equisetum or Cycas, or
any other known genus." -- Lindley and Hutton, 'Fossil Flora', vol. ii., p.

Even if we limit our consideration to the present world alone, we must
regard as highly important the discovery of Cycadeae and Coniferae side by
side with Sagenariae and Lepidodendra in the ancient coal measures.  The
Coniferae are not ony allied to Cupuliferae and Betulinae, with which we
find them associated in lignite formations, but also with Lycopodiaceae.
The family of the sago-like Cycadeae approaches most nearly to palms in its
external appearance, while these plants are specially allied to Coniferae in
respect to the structure of their blossoms and seed.*

[footnote]  *Kunth, 'Anordnung der Pflanzenfamilien', in his 'Handb. der
Botanik', s. 307 und 314.

Where many beds of coal are superposed over one another, the families and
species are not always blended, being most frequently grouped together in
separate genera; Lycopodiaceae and certain ferns being alone found in one
bed, and Stigmariae and Sigillariae in another.  In order to give some idea
of the luxuriance of the vegetation of the primitive world, and of the
immense masses of vegetable matter which was doubtlessly accumulated in
currents and converted in a moist condition into coal,* I would instance the
Saarbrucker coal measures,
p 281
where 120 beds are superposed on one another, exclusive of a great many
which are less than a foot in thickness; the coal beds at Johnstone, in
Scotland, and those in the Creuzot, in Burgundy, are some of them,
respectively, thirty and fifty feet in thickness,** while in the forests of
our temperate zones, the carbon contained in the trees growing over a
certain area would hardly suffice, in the space of a hundred years, to cover
it with more than a stratum of seven French lines in thickness.***

[footnote]  That coal has not been formed from vegetable fibers charred by
fire, but that it has more probably been produced in the moist way by the
action of sulphuric acid, is strikingly demonstrated by the excellent
observation made by Goppert (Karsten, 'Archiv fu Mineralogie', bd. xviii.,
s. 530), on the conversion of a fragment of amber-tree into black coal.  The
coal and the unaltered amber lay side by side.  Regarding the part which the
lower forms of vegetation may have had in the formation of coal beds, see
Link, in the 'Abhandl. der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften', 1838, s.

[footnote]  **[The actual total thickness of the different beds in England
varies considerably in different districts, but appears to amount in the
Lancashire coal field to as much as 150 feet. -- Ansted's 'Ancient World',
p. 78.  For an enumeration of the thickness of coal measures in America and
the Old Continent, see Mantell's 'Wonders of Geology', vol. ii., p. 60.] --

[footnote]  ***See the accurate labors of Chevandier, in the 'Comptes Rendus
de l'Academie des Sciences', 1844, t. xviii., Part i., p. 285.  In comparing
this bed of carbon, seven lines in thickness, with beds of coal, we must not
omit to consider the enormous pressure to which the latter have been
subjected from superimposed rock, and which manifests itself in the
flattened form of the stems of the trees found in these subterranean
regions.  "The so-called 'wood-hills' discovered in 1806 by Sirowatskoi, on
the south coast of the island of New Siberia, consist, according to
Hedenstrom, of horizontal strata of sandstone, aolternating with bituminous
trunks of trees, forming a mound thirty fathoms in neight; at the summit the
stems were in a vertical position.  The bed of driftwood is visible at five
wersts' distance." -- See Wrangel, 'Reise Iangs der Nordkuste von Siberien,
in den Jahren' 1820-24, th. i., s. 102.

Near the mouth of the Mississippi, and in the "wood hills" of the Siberian
Polar Sea, described by Admiral Wrangel, the vast number of trunks of trees
accumulated by river and sea water currents affords a striking instance of
theenormous quantities of drift-wood which must have favored the formation
of carboniferous deposition in the island waters and insular bays.  There
can be no doubt that these beds owe a considerable portion of the substances
of which they consist to grasses, small branching shrubs, and cryptogamic

The association of palms and Coniferae, which we have indicated as being
characteristic of the coal formations, is discoverable throughout almost all
formations to the tertiary period.  In the present condition of the world,
these genera
p 282
appear to exhibit no tendency whatever to occur associated together.  We
have so accustomed ourselves, although erroneously, to regard Coniferae as a
northern form, that I experienced a feeling of surprise when, in ascending
from the shores of the South Pacific toward Chilpansingo and the elevated
valleys of Mexico, between the 'Venta de la Moxonera' and the 'Alto de los
Caxones', 4000 feet above the level of the sea, I rode a whole day through a
dense wood of Pinus occidentalis, where I observed that these trees, which
are so similar to the Weymouth pine, were associated with fan palms*
('Corypha dulcis'), swarming with brightly-colored parrots.

[[footnote]  *This corypha is the 'soyate' (in Aztec, zoyatl), or the 'Palma
dulce' of the natives.  See Humboldt and Bonplaud, 'Synopsis Plant.
AEquinoct. Orbis Novi', t. i., p. 302.  Professor Buschmann, who is
profoundly acquainted with the American languages, remarks, that the 'Palma
soyate' is so named in Yepe's 'Vocabulario de la Lengua Othomi', and that
the Aztec word zoyatl (Molina, 'Vocabulario en Lengua Mexicana y
Castellana', p. 25) recurs in names of places, such as Zoyatitlan and
Zoyapanco, near Chiapa.

South America has oaks, but not a single species of pine; and the first time
that I again saw the familiar form of a fir-tree, it was thus associated
with the strange appearance of the fan palm.*

[footnote]  *Near Baracoa and Cayos de Moya.  See the Admiral's journal of
the 25th and 27th of November, 1492, and Humboldt, 'Examen Critique de
l'Hist. de la Geographie du Nouveau Continent', t. ii., p. 252, and 5. iii.,
p. 23.  Columbus, who invariably paid the most remarkable attention to all
natural objects, was the first to observe the difference between
'Podocarpus' and 'Pinus'.  "I find," said he, "en la tierra aspera del Cibao
pinos que no Ilevan pinas (fir cones), pero portal orden compuestos por
naturaleza, que (los frutos) parecen azeytunas del Axarafe de Sevilla."  The
great botanist, Richard, when he published his excellent Memoir on Cycadeae
and Coniferae, little imagined that before the time of L'Heritier, and even
before the end of the fifteenth century, a navigator had separated
'Podocarpus' from the Abietineae.

Christopher Columbus, in his first voyage of discovery, saw Coniferae and
palms growing together on the northeastern extremity of the island of Cuba,
likewise within the tropics, and scarcely above the level of the sea.  This
acute observer, whom nothing escaped, mentions the fact in his journal as a
remarkable circumstance, and his friend Anghiera, the secretary of Frdinand
the Catholic, remarks with astonishment "that 'palmeta' and 'pineta' are
found associated together in the newly-discovered land."  It is a matter of
much importance to geology to compare the present distribution of plants
over the earth's surface with that exhibited in the fossil floras of the
primitive world.  The temperate zone of the southern hemisphere, which is so
rich in seas and islands, and where
p 283
tropical forms blend so remarkably with those of colder parts of the earth,
presents according to Darwin's beautiful and animated descriptions,* the
most instructive materials for the study of the present and the past
geography of plants.

[footnote]  *Charles Darwin, 'Journal of the Voyages of the Adventure and
Beagle', 1839, p. 271.

The history of the primordial ages is, in the strict sense of the word, a
part of the history of plants.

Cycadeae, which, from the number of their fossil species, must have occupied
a far more important part in the extinct than in the present vegetable
world, are associated with the nearly allied Coniferae from the coal
formations upward.  They are almost wholly absent in the epoch of the
variegated sandstone which contains Coniferae of rare and luxuriant
structure ('Voltizia, Haidingera, Albertia'); the Cycadeae, however, occur
most frequently in the keuper and lias strata, in which more than twenty
different forms appear.  In the chalk, marine plants and naiades
predominate.  The forests of Cycadeae of the Jura formations had, therefore,
long disappeared, and even in the more ancient tertiary formations they are
quite subordinate to the Coniferae and palms.*

[footnote]  *Goppert describes three other Cycadeae (species of Cycadites
and Pterophyllum), found in the brown carboniferous schistose clay of
Alt-sattel and Commotau, in Bohemia.  They very probably belong to the
Eocene Period.  Goppert, 'Fossile Cycadeen', s. 61.

The lignites, or beds of brown coal* which are present in all divisions of
the tertiary period, present, among the most ancient cryptogamic land
plants, some few palms, many Coniferae having distinct annual rings, and
foliaceous shrubs of a more or less tropical character.

[footnote]  *['Medals of Creation', vol. i., ch. v., etc.  'Wonders of
Geology', vol. i., p. 278, 392.] -- Tr.

In the middle tertiary period we again find palms and Cycadeae fully
established, and finally a great similarity with our existing flora,
manifested in the sudden and abundant occurrence of our pines and firs,
Cupuliferae, maples, and poplars.  The dicotyledonous stems found in lignite
are occasionally distinguished by colossal size and great age.  In the trunk
of a tree found at Bonn, Noggerath counted 792 annual rings.*

[footnote]  *Buckland, 'Geology', p. 509.

In the north of France, at Yseux, near Abbeville, oaks have been discovered
in the turf moors of the Somme which measured fourteen feet in diameter, a
thickness which is very remarkable in the Old Continent and without the
tropics.  According to Goppert's excellent investigations, which, it is
hoped, may soon be illustrated by plates, it would appear that "all the
amber of the Baltic comes from
p 284
a coniferous tree, which, to judge by the still extant remains of wood and
the bark at different ages, approaches very nearly to our white and red
pines, although forming a distinct species. The amber-tree of the ancient
world ('Pinites succifer') abounded in resin to a degree far surpassing that
manifested by any extant coniferous tree; for not only were large masses of
amber deposited in and upon the bark, but also in the wood itself, following
the course of the medullary rays, which, together with ligneous cells, are
still discernible under the microscope, and peripherally between the rings,
being some times both yellow and white."

"Among the vegetable forms inclosed in amber are male and femald blossoms of
our native needle-wood trees and Cupuliferae, while fragments which are
recognized as belonging to thuia, cupressus, ephedera, and castania vesca,
blended with those of junipers and firs, indicate a vegetation different
from that of the coasts and plains of the Baltic."*

[footnote]  *{The forests of amber-pines, 'Pinites succifer', were in the
southeastern part of what is now the bed of the Baltic, in about 55 degrees
N. lat., and 37 degrees E. long.  The different colors of amber are derived
from local chemical admixture.  The amber contains fragments of vegetable
matter, and from these it has been ascertained tht the amber-pine forests
contained four other species of pine (besides the 'Pinites succier'),
several cypresses, yews, and junipers, with oaks, poplars, beeches, etc. --
altogether forty-eight species of trees and shrubs, constituting a flora of
North American chracter.    There are also some ferns, mosses, fungi, and
liverworts.  See Professor Goppert, 'Geol. Trans.', 1845.  Insects, spiders,
small crustaceans, leaves, and fragments of vegetable tissue, are imbedded
in some of the masses.  Upward of 800 species of insects have been observed;
most of them belong to species, and even genera, that appear to be distinct
from any now known, but others are nearly related to indigenous species, and
some are identical with existing forms, that inhabit more southern climes.
-- 'Wonders of Geology', vol. i., p. 242, etc.] -- Tr.

We have now passed through the whole series of formations comprised in the
geological portion of the present work, proceeding from the oldest erupted
rock and the most ancient sedimentary formations to the alluvial land on
which are scattered those large masses of rock, the causes of whose general
distribution have been so long and variously discussed, and which are, in my
opinion, to be ascribed rather to the penetration and violent outpouring of
pent-up waters by the elevation of mountain chains than to the motion of
floating blocks of ice.*

[footnote]  *Leopold von Buch, in the 'Abhandl. der Akad. der Wissensch. zu
Berlin', 1814-15, s. 161; and in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. ix., s. 575; Elie
de Beaumont, in the 'Annales des Sciences Naturelles', t. xix., p. 60.

The most ancient structures of the transition formation
p 285
with which we are acquainted are slate and graywacke, which contain some
remains of sea weeds from the silurian or cambrian sea.  On what did these
so-called 'most ancient' formations rest, if gneiss and mica schist must be
regarded as changed sedimentary strata?  Dare we hazard a conjecture on that
which can not be an object of actual geognostic observation?  According to
an ancient Indian myth, the earth is borne up by an elephant, who in his
turn is supported by a gigantic tortoise, in order that he may not fall; but
it is not permitted to the credulous Brahmins to inquire on what the
tortoise rests.  We venture here upon a somewhat similar problem, and are
prepared to meet with opposition in our endeavors to arrive at its soluion.
In the first formation of the planets, as we stated in the astronomical
portion of this work, it is probable that nebulous rings revolving round the
sun were agglomerated into spheroids, and consolidated by a gradual
condensation proceeding from the exterior toward the center.  What we term
the ancient silurian strata are thus only the upper portions of the solid
crust of the earth.  The erupted rocks which have broken through and
upheaved these strata have been elevated from depths that are wholly
inaccessible to our research; they must, therefore, have existed under the
silurian strata, and been composed of the same association of minerals which
we term granite, augite, and quartzose porphyry, when they are made known to
us by eruption through the surface.  Basing our inquiries on analogy, we may
assume that the substances which fill up deep fissures and traverse the
sedimentary strata are merely the ramifications of a lower deposit.  The
foci of active volcanoes are situated at enormous depths, and judging from
the remarkable fragments which I have found in various parts of the earth
incrusted in lava currents, I should deem it more than probable tht a
primordial granite rock forms the substratum of the whole stratified edifice
of fossil remains.*

[footnote]  *See Elie de Beaumont, 'Descr. Geol. de la France', t. i., p.
65; Beaudant, 'Geologie', 1844, p. 269.

Basalt containing olivine first shows itself in the period of the chalk
trachyte still later, while eruptions of granite belong, as we learn from
the products of their metamorphic action to the epoch of the oldest
sedimentary strata of the transition formation.  Where knowledge can not be
attained from immediate perceptive evidence, we may be allowed from
induction, no less than from a careful comparison of facts, to hazard a
conjecture by which granite would be restored
p 286
to a portion of its contested right and title to be considered as a
'primordial' rock.

The recent progress of geognosy, that is to say, the more extended knowledge
of the geognostic epochs characterized by differences of mineral formations,
by the peculiarities and succession of the organisms contained within them,
and by the position of the strata, whether uplifted or inclined
horizontally, leads us, by means of the causal connection existing among all
natural phenomena, to the distribution of solids and fluids into the
continents and seas which constitute the upper crust of our planet.  We here
touch upon a point of contact between geological and geographical geognosy
which would constitute the complete history of the form and extent of
continents.  The limitation of the solid by the fluid parts of the earth's
surface and their mutual relations of area, have varied very considerably in
the long series of geognostic epochs.  They were very different, for
instance, when carboniferous strata were horizontally deposited on the
inclined beds of the mountain limestone and old red sandstone; when lias and
oolite lay on a substratum of keuper and muschelkalk, and the chalk rested
on the slopes of green sandstone and Jura limestone.  If, with Elie de
Beaumont, we term the waters in which the Jura limestone and chalk formed a
soft deposit the 'Jurassic or oolitic', and the 'cretaceous seas', the
outlines of these formations will indicate, for the two corresponding
epochs, the boundaries between the already dried land and the ocean in which
these rocks were forming.  An ingenious attempt has been made to craw maps
of this physical portion of primitive geography and we may consider such
diagrams as more correct than those of the wanderings of Io or the Homeric
geography, since the latter are merely graphic representations of mythical
images, while the former are based upon positive facts deduced from the
science of geology.

The results of the investigations made regarding the areal relations of the
solid portions of our planet are as follows:  in the most ancient times,
during the silurian and devonian transition epochs, and in the secondary
formations, including the trias, the continental portions of the earth were
limited to insular groups covered with vegetation; these islands at a
subsequent period became united, giving rise to numerous lakes and
deeply-indented bays; and finally, when the chains of the Pyrenees,
Apennines, and Carpathian Mountains were elevated about the period of the
more ancient tertiary formations, large continents appeared, having almost
their present
p 287

[footnote]  *[These movements, described in so few words, were doubtless
going on for many thousands and tens of thousands of revolutions of our
planet.  They were accompanied, also, by vast but slow changes of other
kinds.  The expansive force employed in lifting up, by mighty movements, the
northern portion of the continent of Asia, found partial vent; and from
partial subsqueous fissures there were poured out the tabular masses of
basalt occurring in Central India, while an extensive area of depression in
the Indian Ocean, marked by the coral islands of the Laccadives, the
Maldives, the great Chagos Bank, and some others, were in the course of
depression by a counteracting movement. -- Ansted's 'Ancient World', p. 346,
etc.] -- Tr.

In the silurian epoch, as well as in that in which the Cycadeae flourished
in such abundance, and gigantic saurians were living, the dry land, from
pole to pole, was probably less than it now is in the South Pacific and the
Indian Ocean.  We shall see, in a subsequent part of this work, how this
preponderating quantity of water, combined with other causes, must have
contributed to raise the temperature and induce a greater uniformity of
climate.  Here we would only remark in considering the gradual extension of
the dry land, that, shortly before the 'disturbances' which at longer or
shorter intervals caused the sudden destruction of so great a number of
colossal vertebrata in the 'diluvial period', some parts of the present
continental masses must have been completely separated from one another.
There is a great similarity in South America and Australia between still
living and extinct species of animals.  In New Holland, fossil remains of
the kangaroo have been found, and in New Zealand the semi-foxxilized bones
of an enormous bird, resembling the ostrich, the dinornis of Owen,* which is
nearly allied to the present spteryx, and but little so to the recently
extinct dronte (dodo) of the island of Rodriguez.

[[footnote]  *[See 'American Journal of Science', vol. xiv., p. 187; and
'Medals of Creation', vol. ii., p. 817; 'Trans. Zoolog. Society of London',
vol. ii; 'Wonders of Geology', vol. i., p. 129.] -- Tr.

The form of the continental portions of the earth may, perhaps, in a great
measure, owe their elevation above the surrounding level of the water to the
eruption of quartzose porphyry, which overthrew with violence the first
great vegetation from which the matrial of our present coal measures was
formed.  The portions of the earth's surface which we term plains are
nothing more than the broad summits of hills and mountains whose bases rest
on the bottom of the ocean.  Every plain is, therefore, when considered
according to its submarine relations, an 'elevated plateau', whose
inequalities have been covered over by horizontal deposition of new
sedimentary formations and by the accumulation of alluvium.

p 288
Among the general subjects of contemplation appertaining to a work of this
nature, a prominent place must be given, first, in the consideration of the
'quantity' of the land raised above the level of the sea, and next, to the
individual configuration of each part, either in relation to horizontal
extension (relations of form) or to vertical elevation (hypsometrical
relations of mountain-chains).  Our planet has two envelopes, of which one,
which is general -- the atmosphere -- is composed of an elastic fluid, and
the other -- the sea -- is only locally distributed, surrounding, and
therefore modifying, the form of the land.  These two envelopes of air and
sea constitute a natural whole, on which depend the difference of climate on
the earth's surface, according to the relative extension of the aqueous and
solid parts, the form and aspect of the land, and the direction and
elevation of mountain chains.  A knowledge of the reciprocal action of air,
sea, and land teaches us that great meteorological phenomena can not be
comprehended when considered independently of geognostic relations.
Meteorology, as well as the geography of plants and animals, has only begun
to make actual progress since the mutual dependence of the phenomena to be
investigated has been fully recognized.  The word climate has certainly
special reference to the character of the atmosphere, but this character is
itself dependent on the perpetually concurrent influences of the ocean,
which is universally and deeply agitated by currents having a totally
opposite temperature, and of radiation from the dry land, which varies
greatly in form, elevation, color, and fertility, whether we consider its
bare, rocky portions, or those that are covered with arborescent or
herbaceous vegetation.

In the present condition of the surface of our planet, the area of the solid
is to that of the fluid parts as 1:2 4/5ths (according to Rigaud, as

[footnote]  *See 'Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society', vcl.
vi., Part ii., 1837, p. 297.  Other writers have given the ratio as 100:284.

The islands form scarcely 1/22d of the continental masses, which are so
unequally divided that they consist of three times more land in the northern
than in the southern hemisphere; the latter being, therefore, pre-eminently
oceanic.  From 40 degrees south latitude to the Antarctic pole the earth is
almost entirely covered with water.  The fluid element predominates in like
manner between the eastern shores of the Old and the western shores of the
New Continent, being only interspersed with some few insular groups.  The
learned hydrographer Fleurieu has very justly named this
p 289
vast oceanic basis, which, under the tropics, extends over 145¼degrees of
longitude, the 'Great Ocean', in contradistinction to all other seas.  The
southern and western hemispheres (reckoning the latter from the meridian of
Teneriffe) are therefore more rich in water than in any other region of the
whole earth.

These are the main points involved in the consideration of the relative
quantity of land and sea, a relation which exercises so important an
influence on the distribution of temperature, the variations in atmospheric
pressure, the direction of the winds, and the quantity of moisture contained
in the air, with which the development of vegetation is so essentially
connected.  When we consider that nearly three fourths of the upper surface
of our planet are covered with water,* we shall be less surprised at the
imperfect condition of meteorology before the beginning of the present
century, since it is only during the subsequent period that numerous
accurate observations on the temperature of the sea at different latitudes
and at different seasons have been made and numerically compared together.

[footnote]  *In the Middle Ages, the opinion prevailed that the sea covered
one seventh of the surface of the globe, an opinion which Cardinal d'Ailly
('Imago Mundi', cap. 8) founded on the fourth apocryphal book of Esdras.
Columbus, who derived a great portion of his cosmographical knowledge from
the cardinal's work, was much interested in upholding this idea of the
smallness of the sea, to which the misunderstood expression of "the ocean
stream" contributed not a little.  See Humboldt, 'Examen Critique de l'Hist.
de la Geographie', t. i.,
p. 186.

The horizontal configuration of continents in their general relations of
extension was already made a subject of intellectual contemplation by the
ancient Greeks.  Conjectures were advanced regarding the maximum of the
extension from west to east, and Dicaearchus placed it, according to the
testimony of Agathemerus, in the latitude of Rhodes, in the direction of a
line passing from the Pillars of Hercules to Thine.  This line, which has
been termed 'the parallel of the diaphragm of Dicaearchus', is laid down
with an astronomical accuracy of position, which, as I have stated in
another work, is well worthy of exciting surprise and admiration.*

[footnote]  *Agathemerus, in Hudson, 'Geographi Minores', t. ii., p. 4.  See
Humboldt, 'Asie Centr.', t. i., p. 120-125.

Strabo, who was probably influenced by Eratosthenes, appears to have been so
firmly convinced that this parallel of 36 degrees was the maximum of the
extension of the then existing world, that he supposed it had some intimate
connection with the form of the earth, and therefore places under this line
the continent whose existence
p 290
he divined in the northern hemisphere, between Theria and the coasts of

[footnote]  *Strabo, lib. i., p. 65, Casaub.  See Humboldt, 'Examen Crit.',
t. i., p. 152.

As we have already remarked, one hemisphere of the earth (whether we divide
the sphere through the equator or through the meridian of Teneriffe) has a
much greater expansion of elevated land than the opposite one:  these two
vast ocean-girt tracts of land, which we term the eastern and western, or
the Old and New Continents, present, however, conjointly with the most
striking contrasts of configuration and position of their axes, some
similarities of form, especially with reference to the mutual relations of
their opposite coasts.  In the eastern continent, the predominating
direction -- the position of the major axis -- inclines from east to west
(or, more correctly speaking, from southwest to northeast), while in the
western continent it inclines from south to north (or, rather, from
south-southeast to north-northwest).  Both terminate to the north at a
parallel coinciding nearly with that of 70¼degrees, while they extend to
the south in pyramidal points, having submarine prolongations of islands and
shoals.  Such, for instance, are the Archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, the
Lagullas Bank south of the Cape of Good Hope, and Van Diemen's Land,
separated from New Holland by Bass's Straits.  Northern Asia extends to the
above parallel at Cape Taimura, which, according to Krusenstern, is 78
degrees 16', while it falls below it from the mouth of the Great
Tschukotsehja River eastward to Behring's Straits, in the eastern extremity
of Asia -- Cook's East Cape -- which, according to Beechey, is only 66
degrees E.*

[footnote]  *On the mean latitude of the Northern Asiatic shores, and the
true name of Cape Taimura (Cape Siewere-Wostotschnoi), and Cape Northeast
(Schalagskoi Mys), see Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 35, 37.

The northern shore of the New Continent follows with tolerable exactness the
parallel of 70 degrees, since the lands to the north and south of Barrow's
Strait, from Boothia Felix and Victoria Land, are merely detached islands.

The pyramidal configuration of all the southern extremities of continents
belongs to the 'similtudines physicae in configuratione mundi', to which
Bacon already called attention in his 'Novum Organon', and with which
Reinhold Foster, one of Cook's companions in his second voyage of
circumnavigation, connected some ingenious considerations.  On looking
eastward from the meridian of Teneriffe, we perceive that the southern
extremities of the three continents, viz., Africa as the extreme
p 291
of the Old World, Australia, and South America, successively approach nearer
toward the south pole.  New Zealand, whose length extends fully 12 degrees
of latitude, forms an intermediate link between Australia and South America,
likewise terminating in an island, New Leinster.  It is also a remarkable
circumstance that the greatest extension toward the south falls in the Old
Continent, under the same meridian in which the extremest projection toward
the north pole is manifested.  This will be perceived on comparing the Cape
of Good Hope and the Lagullas Bank with the North Cape of Europe, and the
peninsula of Malacca with Cape Taimura in Siberia.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 198-200.  The southern
point of America, and the Archipelago which we call Terra del Fuego, lie in
the meridian of the northwestern part of Baffin's Bay, and of the great
polar land, whose limits have not as yet been ascertained, and which,
perhaps, belongs to West Greenland.

We know not whether the poles of the earth are surrounded by land or by a
sea of ice.  Toward the north pole the parallel of 82 degrees 55' has been
reached, but toward the south pole only that of 78 degrees 10'.

The pyramidal terminations of the great continents are variously repeated on
a smaller scale, not only in the Indian Ocean and in the peninsulas of
Arabia, Hindostan, and Malacca, but also, as was remarked by Eratosthenes
and Polybius, in the Mediterranean, where these writers had ingeniously
compared together the forms of the Iberian, Italian, and Hellenic

[footnote]  *Strabo, lib. ii., p. 92, 108, Cassaub.

Europe, whose area is five times smaller than that of Asia, may almost be
regarded as a multifariously articulated western peninsula of the more
compact mass of the ontinent of Asia, the climatic relations of the former
being to those of the latter as the peninsula of Brittany is to the rest of

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 25.  As early as the
year 1817, in my work 'De distributione Geographica Plantarum, secundum
caels temperiem et altitudinem Montium', I directed attention to the
important influence of compact and of deeply-articulated continents on
climate and human civilization, "Regiones vel per sinus lunatos in longa
cornua porrectae, angulois littorum recessibus quasi membratim discerptae,
vel spatia patentia in immensum, quorum littora nullis incisa angulis ambit
sine aufractu oceanus" (p. 81, 182).  On the relations of the extent of
coast to the area of a continent (considered in some degree as a measure of
the accessibility of the interior), see the inquiries in Berghaus, 'Annalen
der Erdkunde', bd. xii., 1835, s. 490, and 'Physikal. Atlas', 1839, No.
iii., s. 69.

The influence exercised by the articulation and higher development of the
form of a continent on the moral and intellectual condition of nations was
remarked by Strabo,* who extols
p 292
the varied form of our small continent as a special advantage.

[footnote]  *Strabo, lib. ii., p. 92, 198. Casaub.

Africa* and South America, which manifest so great a resemblence in their
configuration, are also the two continents that exhibit the simplest
littoral outlines.

[footnote]  *Of Africa, Pliny says (v. 1), "Nec alia pars terrarum paudiores
recipit sinus."  The small Indian peninsula on this side the Ganges present,
in its triangular outline, a third analogous form.  In ancient Greece there
prevailed an opinion of the regular configuration of the dry land.  There
were four gulfs or bays, among which the Persian Gulf was placed in
opposition to the Hyrcanian or Caspian Sea (Arrian, vii., 16; Plut., 'in
vita Alexandri', cap. 44; Dionys. Perieg., v. 48 and 630, p. 11, 38,
Bernh.).  These four bays and the isthmuses were, according to the optical
fancies of Agesianax, supposed to be reflected in the moon (Plut., 'de Facie
in Orbem Lunae', p. 921, 19).  Respecting the 'terra quadrifida', or four
divisions of the dry land, of which two lay north and two south of the
equator, see Macrobius, 'Comm. in Somnium Scipionis', ii., 9.  I have
submitted this portion of the geography of the ancients, regarding which
great confusion prevails, to a new and careful examination, in my 'Examen
Crit. de l'Hist. de la Geogr.', t. i., p. 119, 145, 180-185, as also in
'Asie Centr.', t. ii., p. 172-178.

It is only the eastern shores of Asia, which, broken as it were by the force
of the currents of the ocean* ('fractas ex aequore terra'), exhibit a
richly-variegated configuration, peninsulas and contiguous islands
alternating from the equator to 60 degrees north latitude.

[footnote]  *Fleurieu, in 'Voyage de Marchand autour du Monde', t. iv., p.

Our Atlantic Ocean presents all the indications of a valley.  It is as if a
flow of eddying waters had been directed first toward the northeast, then
toward the northwest, and back again to the northeast.  The parallelism of
the coasts north of 10 degrees south latitude, the projecting and receding
angles, the convexity of Brazil opposite to the Gulf of Guinea, that of
Africa under the same parallel, with the Gulf of the Antilles, all favor
this apparently speculative view.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, in the 'Journal de Physique', liii., 1799, p. 33; and
'Rel. Hist.', t. ii., p. 19; t. iii., p. 189, 198.

In this Atlantic valley, as is almost every where the case in the
configuration of large continental masses, coasts deeply indented, and rich
in islands, are situated opposite to those possessing a different character.
 I long since drew attention to the geognostic importance of entering into a
comparison of the western coast of Africa and of South America within the
tropics.  The deeply curved indentation of the African continent at Fernando
Po, 4 degrees 30' north latitude, is repeated on the coast of the Pacific at
18 degrees 15' south latitude, between the Valley of Arica and the Morro de
Juan Diaz, where the Peruvian coast suddenly changes the direction from
wouth to north which it had previously followed, and inclines to the
northwest.  This change
p 293
of direction extends in like manner to the chain of the Andes, which is
divided into two parallel branches affecting not only the littoral
portions,* but even the eastern Cordilleras.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, in Poggendorf's 'Annalen der Physik', bd. xl., s.
171.  On the remarkable fiord formation at the southeast end of America, see
Darwin's Journal ('Narrative of the Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle',
vol. iii.), 1839, p. 266.  The parallelism of the two mountain chains is
maintained from 5 degrees north latitude.  The change in the direction of
the coast at Arica appears to be in consequence of the altered course of the
fissure, above which the Cordillera of the Andes has been upheaved.

In the latter, civilization had its earliest seat in the South American
plateaux where the small Alpine lake of Titicaca bathes the feet of the
colossal mountains of Sorata and Illimani.  Further to the south, from
Valdiva and Chilo‘ (40 degrees to 42 degrees south latitude), through the
Archipelago 'de los Chonos' to 'Terra del Fuego', we find repeated that
singular configuration of 'fiords' (a blending of narrow and deeply-indented
bays), which in the Northern hemisphere characterizes the western shores of
Norway and Scotland.

These are the most general considerations suggested by the study of the
upper surface of our planet with reference to the form of continents, and
their expansion in a horizontal direction.  We have collected facts and
brought forward some analogies of configuration in distant parts of the
earth, but we do not venture to regard them as fixed laws of form.  When the
traveler on the declivity of an active volcano, as, for instance, of
Vesuvius, examines the frequent partial elevations by which portions of the
soil are often permanently upheaved several feet above their former level,
either immediately precediing or during the continuance of an eruption, thus
forming roof-like or flattened summits, he is taught how accidental
conditions in the expression of the force of subterranean vapors, and in the
resistance to be overcome, may modify the feeble perturbations in the
equilibrium of the internal elastic forces of our planet may have inclined
them more to its norther than to its southern direction, and caused the
continent in the eastern part of the globe to present a broad mass, whose
major axis is almost parallel with the equator, while in the western and
more oceanic part the southern extremity is extremely narrow.

Very little can be empirically determined regarding the causal connection of
the phenomena of the formation of continents, or of the analogies and
contrasts presented by their
p 294
configuration.  All that we know regarding this subject resolves itself into
this one point, that the active cause is subterranean; that continents did
not arise at once in the form they now present, but were, as we have already
observed, increased by degrees by means of numerous oscillatory elevations
and depressions of the soil, or were formed by the fusion of separate
smaller continental masses.  Their present form is, therefore, the result of
two causes, which have exercised a consecutive action the one on the other;
the first is the expression of subterranean force, whose direction we term
accidental, owing to our inability to defint it, from its removal from
within the sphere of our comprehension, while the second is derived from
forces acting on the surface, among which volcanic eruptions, the elevation
of mountains, and currents of sea water play the principal parts.  How
totally different would be the condition of the temperature of the earth,
and consequently, of the state of vegetation, husbandry, and human society,
if the major axis of the New Continent had the same direction as that of the
Old Continent; if, for instance, the Cordilleras, instead of having a
southern direction, inclined from east to west; if there had been no
radiating tropical continent, like Africa, to the south of Europe; and if
the Mediterranean, which was once connected with the Caspian and Red Seas,
and which has become so powerful a means of furthering the
intercommunication of nations, had never existed, or if it had been elevated
like the plains of Lombardy and Cyrene?

The changes of the reciprocal relations of height between the fluid and
solid portions of the earth's surface (changes which, at the same time,
determine the outlines of continents, and the greater or lesser submersion
of low lands) are to be ascribed to numerous unequally working causes.  The
most powerful have incontestably been the force of elastic vapors inclosed
in the interior of the earth, the sudden change of temperature of certain
dense strata,* the unequal secular loss of
p 295
heat experienced by the crust and nucleus of the earth, occasioning ridges
in the solid surface, local modifications of gravitation,** and, as a
consequence of these alterations, in the curvature of a portion of the
liquid element.

[footnote]  *De la Beche, 'Sections and Views illustrative of Geological
Phenomena', 1830, tab. 40; Charles Babbage, 'Observations on the Temple of
Serapis at Pozzuoli, near Naples, and on certain Causes which may produce
Geological Cycles of great Extent', 1834.  "If a stratum of sandstone five
miles in thickness should have its temperature raised about 100 degrees, its
surface would rise twenty-five feet.  Heated beds of clay would, on the
contrary, occasion a sinking of the ground by their contraction."  See
Bischof, 'Wurmelehre des Innern unseres Erdkorpers', s. 303, concerning the
calculations for the secular elevation of Sweden, on the supposition of a
rise by so small a quantity as 7 degrees in a stratum of about 155,000 feet
in thickness, and heated to a state of fusion.

[footnote]  **The opinion so implicitly entertained regarding the
invariability of the force of gravity at any given point of the earth's
surface, has in some degree been controverted by the gradual rise of large
portions of the earth's surface.  See Bessel, 'Ueber Maas und Gewicht', in
Schumacher's 'Jahrbuch fur' 1840, s. 134.

According to the views generally adopted by geognosists in the present day
and which are supported by the observation of a series of well-attested
facts, no less than by analogy with the most important volcanic phenomena,
it would appear that the elevation of continents is actual, and not merely
apparent or owing to the configuration of the upper surface of the sea.  The
merit of having advanced this view beloongs to Leopold von Buch, the
narrative of his memorable 'Travels through Norway and Sweden' in 1806 and

[footnnote]  *Th. ii. (1810), s. 389.  See Hallstrom, in 'Kongl.
Vetenskaps-Academiens Handlingar' (Stockh.), 1823, p. 30; Lyell in the
'Philos. Trans.' for 1835; Blom (Amtmann in Budskerud), 'Stat. Beschr. von
Norwegen',1843, s. 89-116.  If not before Von Buch's travels through
Scandinavia, at any rate before their publication, Playfair, in 1802, in his
illustrations of the Huttonian theory, ¤ 393, and according to Keilhau ('Om
Landjardens Stigning in Norge', in the 'Nyt Magazine fur
Naturvidenskaberne'), and the Dane Jessen, even before the time of Playfair,
had expressed the opinion that it was not the sea which was sinking, but the
solid land of Sweden which was rising.  Their ideas, however, were wholly
unknown to our great geologist, and exerted no influence on 'Norge
fremstillet efter dets naturlige og borgerlige Tilstand', Kjobenh., 1763,
sought to explain the causes of the changes in the relative levels of the
land and sea, basing his views on the early calculations of Celsius, Kalm,
and Dalin.  He broaches some confused ideas regarding the possibility of an
internal growth of rocks, but finally declares himself in favor of an
upheaval of the land by earthquakes, "although," he observes, "no such
rising was apparent immediately after the earthquake of Egersund, yet the
earthquake may have opened the way for other causes producing such an

While the whole coast of Sweden and Finland, from Solvitzborg, on the limits
of Northern Scania, past Gefle to Tornea, and from Tornea to Abo,
experiences a gradual rise of four feet in a century, the southern part of
Sweden is, according to Neilson, undergoing a simultaneous depression.*

[footnote]  *See Berzelius, 'Jahrsbericht uber die Fortschritte der
Physichen Wiss.', No. 18, s. 686.  The islands of Saltholm, opposite to
Copenhagen, and Bjornholm, however, rise but very little -- Bjornholm
scarcely one foot in a century.  See Forchhammer, in 'Philos. Magazine', 3d
Series, vol. ii., p. 309.

The maximum of this elevating
p 296
force appears to be in the north of Lapland, and to diminish gradually to
the south toward Calmar and Solvitzborg.  Lines marking the ancient level of
the sea in pre-historic times are indicated throughout the whole of Norway,*
from Cape Lindesnaes to the extremity of the North Cape, by banks of shells
identical with those of the present seas, and which have lately been most
accurately examined by Bravais during his long winter sojourn at Bosekop.

[footnote]  *Keilhan, in 'Nyt Mag. fur Naturvid.', 1832, bd. i., p. 105-254;
bd. ii., p. 57; Bravais, 'Surles Lignes d'ancien Niveau de la Mer', 1843, p.
15-40.  See, also, Darwin, "on the Parallel Roads of Glen-Roy and Lochaber,"
in 'Philos. Trans. for' 1839, p. 60.

These banks lie nearly 650 feet above the present mean level of the sea, and
reappear, according to Keilhau and Eugene Robert, in a north-northwest
direction on the coasts of Spitzbergen, opposite the North Cape.  Leopold
von Buch, who was the first to draw attention to the high banks of shells at
Tromsoe (latitude 69 degrees 40'), has, however, shown that the more ancient
elevations on the North Sea appertain to a different class of phenomena,
from the regular and gradual retrogressive elevations of the Swedish shores
in the Gulf of Bothnia.  This latter phenomenon, which is well attested by
historical evidence, must not be confounded with the changes in the level of
the soil occasioned by earthquakes, as on the shores of Chili and of Cutch,
and which have recently given occasion to similar observations in other
countries.  It has been found that a perceptible sinking resulting from a
disturbance of the strata of the upper surface sometimes occurs,
corresponding with an elevation elsewhere, as, for instance, in West
Greenland, according to Pingel and Graah, in Dalmatia and in Scania.

Since it is highly probable that the oscillatory movements of the soil, and
the rising and sinking of the upper surface, were more strongly marked in
the early periods of our planet than at present, we shall be less surprised
to find in the interior of continents some few portions of the earth's
surface lying below the general level of existing seas.  Instances of this
kind occur in the soda lakes described by General Andreossy, the small
bitter lakes in the narrow Isthmus of Suez, the Caspian Sea, the Sea of
Tiberias, and especially the Dead Sea.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. ii., p. 319-324; t. iii., p.
549-551.  The depression of the Dead Sea has been successively determined by
the barometrical measurements of Count Berton, by the more careful ones of
Russegger, and by the trigonometrical survey of Lieutenant Symond, of the
Royal Navy, who states that the difference of level between the surface of
the Dead Sea and the highest houses of Jaffa is about 1605 feet.  Mr.
Alderson, who communicated this result to the Geographical Society of London
in a letter, of the contents of which I was informed by my friend, Captain
Washington, was of opinion (Nov. 28, 1841) that the Dead Sea lay about 1400
feet under the level of the Mediterranean.  A more recent communication of
Lieutenant Symond (Jameson's 'Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal', vol.
xxxiv., 1843, p. 178) gives 1312 feet as the final result of two very
accordant trigonometrical operations.

The level of the water in the two last-named seas is
p 297
666 and 1312 feet below the level of the Mediterranean.  If we could
suddenly remove the alluvial soil which covers the rocky strata in many
parts of the earth's surface, we should discover how great a portion of the
rocky crust of the earth was then below the present level of the sea.  The
periodic, although irregularly alternating rise and fall of the water of the
Caspian Sea, of which I have myself observed evident traces in the northern
portions of its basin, appears to prove,* as do also the observations of
Darwin on the coral seas,** that without earthquakes, properly so- called,
the surface of the earth is capable of the same gentle and progressive
oscillations as those which must have prevailed so generally in the earliest
ages, when the surface of the hardening crust of the earth was less compact
than at present.

[footnote]  *'Sur la Mobilite du fond de la Mer Caspienne', in my 'Asie
Centr.', t. ii., p. 283-294.  The Imperial Academy of Sciences of St.
Petersburgh in 1830, at my request, charged the learned physicist Lenz to
place marks indicating the mean level of the sea, for definite epochs, in
different places near Baku, in the peninsula of Abscheron.  In the same
manner, in an appendix to the instructions given to Captain (now Sir James
C.) Ross for his Antarctic expedition, I urged the necessity of causing
marks to be cut in the rocks of the southern hemisphere, as had already been
done in Sweden and on the shores of the Caspian Sea.  Had this measure been
adopted in the early voyages of Bougainville and Cook, we should now know
whether the secular relative changes in the level of the seas and land are
to be considered as a general, or merely a local natural phenomenon, and
whether a law of direction can be recognized in the points which have
simultaneous elevation or depression.

[footnote]  **On the elevation and depression of the bottom of the South
Sea, and the diffrent areas of alternate movements, see Darwin's 'Journal',
p. 557, 561-566.

The phenomena to which we would here direct attention remind us of the
instability of the present order of things, and of the changes to which the
outlines and configuration of continents are probably still subject at long
intervals of time.  That which may scarcely be perceptible in one
generation, accumulates during periods of time, whose duration is revealed
to us by the movement of remote heavenly bodies.  The eastern coast of the
Scandinavian peninsula has probably risen
p 298
about 320 feet in the space of 8000 years; and in 12,000 years, if the
movement be regular, parts of the bottom of the sea which lie nearest the
shores, and are in the present day covered by nearly fifty fathoms of water,
will come to the surface and constitute dry land.  But what are such
intervals of time compared to the length of the geognostic periods revealed
to us in the stratified series of formations, and in the world of extinct
and varying organisms!  We have hitherto only considered the phenomena of
elevation; but the analogies of observed facts lead us with equal justice to
assume the possibility of the depression of whole tracts of land.  The mean
elevation of the non-mountainous parts of France amounts to less than 480
feet.  It would not, therefore, require any long period of time, compared
with the old geognostic periods, in which such great changes were brought
about in the interior of the earth, to effect the permanent submersion of
the northwestern part of Europe, and induce essential alterations in its
littoral relations.

The depression and elevation of the solid or fluid parts of the earth --
phenomena which are so opposite in their action that the effect of elevation
in one part is to produce an apparent depression in another -- are the
causes of all the changes which occur in the configuration of continents.
In a work of this general character, and in an impartial exposition of the
phenomena of nature, we must not overlook the 'possibility' of a diminution
of the quantity of water, and a constant depression of the level of seas.
Thgere can scarcely be a doubt that, at the period when the temperature of
the surface of the earth was higher, when the waters were inclosed in larger
and deeper fissures, and when the atmosphere possessed a totally different
character from what it does at present, great changes must have occurred in
the level of seas, depending upon the increase and decrease of the liquid
parts of the earth's surface.  But in the actual condition of our planet,
there is no direct evidence of a real continuous increase or decrease of the
sea, and we have no proof of any gradual change in its level at certain
definite points of observation, as indicated by the mean range of the
barometer.  According to experiments made by Daussy and Antonio Nobile, an
increase in the height of the barometer would in itself be attended by a
depression in the level of the sea.  But as the mean pressure of the
atmosphere at the level of the sea is not the same at all latitudes, owing
to meteorological causes depending upon the direction of the wind and
varying degrees of moisture, the
p 299
barometer alone can not afford a certain evidence of the general change of
level in the ocean.  The remarkable fact that some of the ports in the
Mediterranean were repeatedly left dry during several hours at the beginning
of this century, appears to show that currents may by changes occurring in
their direction and force, occasion a 'local'' retreat of the sea, and a
permanent drying of a small portion of the shore, without being followed by
any actual diminution of water, or any permanent depression of the ocean.
We must, however, be very cautious in applying the knowledge which we have
lately arrived at, regarding these involved phenomena, since we might
otherwise be led to ascribe to water as the elder element, what ought to be
referred to the two other elements, earth and air.

As the 'external' configuration of continents, which we have already
described in their horizontal expansion, exercises, by their variously
indented littoral outlines, a favorable influence on climate, trade, and the
progress of civilization, so likewise does their internal articulation, or
the vertical elevation of the soil (chains of mountains and elevated
plateaux), give rise to equally important results.  Whatever produces a
polymorphic diversity of forms on the surface of our planetary habitation --
such as mountains, lakes, grassy savannas, or even deserts encircled by a
band of forests -- impresses some peculiar character on the social condition
of the inhabitants.  Ridges of high land covered by snow impede intercourse;
but a blending of low, discontinued mountain chains* and tracts of valleys,
as we see so happily presented in the west and south of Europe, tends to the
multiplication of meteorological processes and the products of vegetation,
and, from the variety manifested in different kinds of cultivation in each
district, even under the same degree of latitude, gives rise to wants that
stimulate the activity of the inhabitants.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Rel. Hist.', t. iii., p. 232-234.  See also, the
able remarks on the configuration of the earth, and the position of its
lines of elevation in Albrechts von Roon, 'Grundzugen der Erd Volker und
Staatenkunde', Abth. i., 1837, s. 158, 270, 276.

Thus the awful revolutions, during which, by the action of the interior on
the crust of the earth, great mountain chains have been elevated by the
sudden upheaval of a portion of the oxydized exterior of our planet, have
served, after the establishment of repose, and on the revival of organic
life, to furnish a richer and more beautiful variety of individual forms,
and in a great measure to remove from the earth that aspect of dreary
p 300
uniformity which exercises so impoverishing an influence on the physical and
intellectual powers of mankind.

According to the grand views of Elie de Beaumont, we must ascribe a relative
age to each system of mountain chains* on the supposition that their
elevation must necessarily have occurred between the period of the
deposition of the vertically elevated strata and that of the horizontally
inclined strata running at the base of the mountains.

[footnnote]  *Leop. von Buch, 'Ueber die Geognostischen Systeme von
Deutschland', in his 'Geogn. Briefen an Alexander von Humboldt', 1824, s.
265-271; Elie de Beaumont, 'Recherches sur les Revolutions de la Surface du
Globe', 1829, p. 297-307.

The ridges of the Earth's crust -- elevations of strata which are of the
same geognostic age -- appear, moreover, to follow one common direction.
The line of strike of the horizontal strata is not always parallel with the
axis of the chain, but intersects it, so that, according to my views,* the
phenomenon of elevation of the strata, which is even found to be repeated in
the neighboring plains, must be more ancient than the elevation of the chain.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 277-283.  See, also my
'Essai sur le Gisement des Roches', 1822, p. 57, and 'Relat. Hist.', t.
iii., p. 244-250.

The main direction of the whole continent of Europe (from southwest to
northeast) is opposite to that of the great fissures which pass from
northwest to southeast, from the mouths of the Rhine and Elbe, through the
Adriatic and Red Seas, and through the mountain system of Putschi-Koh in
Luristan, toward the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.  This almost
rectangular intersection of geodesic lines exercises an important influence
on the commercial relations of Europe, Asia, and the northwest of Africa,
and on the progress of civilization on the formerly more flourishing shores
of the Mediterranean.*

[footnote]  *'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 284, 286.  The Adriatic Sea likewise
follows a direction from S.E. to N.W.

Since grand and lofty mountain chains so strongly excite our imagination by
the evidence they afford of great terrestrial revolutions, and when
considered as the boundaries of climates, as lines of separation for waters,
or as the site of a different form of vegetation, it is the more necessary
to demonstrate, by a correct numerical estimation of their volume, how small
is the quantity of their elevated mass when compared with the area of the
adjacent continnents.  The mass of the Pyrenees, for instance, the mean
elevation of whose summits, and the real quantity of whose base have been
ascertained by accurate measurements, would if scattered over
p 301
the surface of France, only raise its mean level about 115 feet.  The mass
of the eastern and western Alps would in like manner only increase the
height of Europe about 21 1/2 feet above its present level.  I have found by
a laborious investigation,* which from its nature, can only give a maximum
limit, that the center of gravity of the volume of the land raised above the
present level of the sea in Europe and North America is respectively
situated at an elevation of 671 and 748 feet, while it is at 1132 and 1152
feet in Asia and South America.

[footnote]  *'De la hauteur Moyenne des Continents', in my 'Asie Centrale',
t. i., p. 82-90, 165-189.  The results which I have obtained are to be
regarded as the extreme value ('nombres-limites').  Laplace's estimate of
the mean height of continents at 3280 feet is at least three times too high.
 The immortal author of the 'Mecanique Celeste' (t. v., p. 14) was led to
this conclusion by hypothetical views as to the mean depth of the sea.  I
have shown ('Asie Centr.', t. i., p. 93) that the old Alexandrian
mathematicians, on the testimony of Plutarch ('in Aemilio Paulo', cap. 15),
believed this depth to depend on the height of the mountains.  The height of
the center of gravity of the volume of the continental masses is probably
subject to slight variations in the course of many centuries.

These numbers show the low level of norther regions.  In Asia the vast
steppes of Siberia are compensated for by the great elevations of the land
(between the Himalaya, the North Thibetian chain of Kuen-lun, and the
Celestial Mountains), from 28 degrees 30' to 40 degrees north latitude.  We
may, to a certain extent, trace in these numbers the portions of the Earth
in which the Plutonic forces were most intensely manifested in the interior
by the upheaval of continental masses.

There are no reasons why these Plutonic forces may not, in future ages, add
new mountain systems to those which Elie de Beaumont has shown to be of such
different ages, and inclined in such different directions.  Why should the
crust of the Earth have lost its property of being elevated in the ridges?
The recently-elevated mountain systems of the Alps and the Cordilleras
exhibit in Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa, in Sorata, Illimani, and Chimborazo,
colossal elevations which do not favor the assumption of a decrease in the
intensity of the subterranean forces.  All geognostic phenomena indicate the
periodic alternation of activity and repose;* but the quiet we now enjoy is
only apparent.

[footnote]  *'Zweiter Geologischer Brief von Elie de Beaumont an Alexander
von Humboldt', in Poggendorf's 'Annalen', bd. xxv., s. 1-58.

The tremblings which still agitate the surface under all latitudes, and in
every species of rock, the elevation of Sweden, the appearance of new
islands of eruption, are all conclusive as to the unquiet condition of our

p 302
The two envelopes of the solid surface of our planet -- the liquid and the
aeriform -- exhibit, owing to the mobility of their particles, their
currents, and their atmospheric relations, many analogies combined with the
contrasts which arise from the great difference in the condition of their
aggregation and elasticity.  The depths of ocean and of air are alike
unknown to us.  At some few places under the tropics no bottom has been
found with soundings of 276,000 (or more than four miles), while in the air,
if, according to Wollaston, we may assume that it has a limit from which
waves of sound may be reverberated, the phenomenon of twilight would incline
us to assume a height at least nine times as great.*

[footnote]  *[See Wilson's Paper, 'On Wollaston's Argument from the
Limitation of the Atmosphere as to the finite Divisibility of Matter.'  --
'Trans. of the Royal Society of Edinb.', vol. xvi., p. 1, 1845.] -- Tr.

The a‘rial ocean rests partly on the solid earth, whose mountain chains and
elevated plateaux rise, as we have already seen, like green wooded shoals,
and partly on the sea, whose surface forms a moving base, on which rest the
lower, denser, and more saturated strata of air.

Proceeding upward and downward from the common limit of the a‘rial and
liquid oceans, we find that the strata of air and water are subject to
determinate laws of decrease of temperature.  This decrease is much less
rapid in the air than in the sea, which has a tendency under all latitudes
to maintain its temperature in the strata of water most contiguous to the
atmosphere, owing to the sinking of the heavier and more cooled particles.
A large series of the most carefully conducted observations on temperature
shows us that in the ordinary and mean condition of its surface, the ocean
from the equator to the forty-eighth degree of north and south latitude is
somewhat warmer than the adjacent strata of air.*

[footnnote[  *Hamboldt, 'Relation Hist.', t. iii., chap. xxix., p. 514-530.

Owing to this decrease of temperature at increasing depths, fishes and other
inhabitants of the sea, the nature of whose digestive and respiratory organs
fits them for living in deep water, may even, under the tropics, find the
low degree of temperature and the coolness of climate characteristic of more
temperate and more northern latitudes.  This circumstance, which is
analogous to the prevalence of a mild and even cold air on the elevated
plains of the torrid zone, exercises a special influence on the migration
and geographical distribution of many marine animals.  Moreover, the depths
at which fishes live, modify, by the increase of pressure, their cutaneous
respiration, and the
p 303
oxygenous and nitrogenous contents of the swimming bladders.

As fresh and salt water do not attain the maximum of their density at the
same degree of temperature, and as the saltness of the sea lowers the
thermometrical degree corresponding to this point, we can understand how the
water drawn from breat depths of the sea during the voyages of the Kotzebue
and Dupetit-Thouars could have been found to have only the temperature of 37
degrees and 36.5 degrees.  This icy temperatureof sea water, which is
likewise manifested at the depths of tropical seas, first led to a study of
the lower polar currents, which move from both poles toward the equator.
Without these submarine currents, the tropical seas at those depths could
only have a temperature equal to the local maximum of cold possessed by the
falling particles of water at the radiating and cooled surface of the
tropical sea.  In the Mediterranean, the cause of the absence of such a
refrigeration of the lower strata is ingeniously explained by Arago, on the
assumption that the entrance of the deeper polar currents into the Straits
of Gibraltar, where the water at the surface flows in from the Atlantic
Ocean from west to east, is hindered by the submariine counter-currents
which move from east to west, from the Mediterranean into the Atlantic.

The ocean, which acts as a general equalizer and moderator of climates,
exhibits a most remarkable uniformity and constancy of temperature,
especially between 10 degrees north and 10 degrees south latitude,* over
spaces of many thousands of square miles, at a distance from land where it
is not penetrated by currents of cold and heated water.

[footnote]  *See the series of observations made by me in the South Sea,
from 8 degrees 5' to 13 degrees 16' N. lat., in my 'Asie Centrale', t. iii.,
p. 234.

It has therefore, been justly observed, that an exact and long-continued
investigation of these thermic relations of the tropical seas might most
easily afford a solution to the great and much-contested problem of the
permanence of climates and terrestrial temperatures.*

[footnote]  *We might (by means of the temperature of the ocean under the
tropics) enter into the consideration of a question which has hitherto
remained unanswered, namely, that of the constancy of terrestrial
temperatures, without taking into account the very circumscribed local
influences arising from the diminution of wood in the plains and on
mountains, and the drying up of lakes and marshes.  Each age might easily
transmit to the succeeding one some few data, which would perhaps furnish
the most simple, exact, and direct means of deciding whether the sun, which
is almost the sole and exclusive source of the heat of our planet, changes
its physical constitution and splendor, like the greater number of the
stars, or whether, on the contrary, that luminary has attained to a
permanent condition." -- Arago, in the 'Comptes Rendus des Seances de
l'Acad. des Sciences', t. ii., p. 321, 327.

Great changes in the luminous disk of the sun would,
p 304
if they were of long duration, be reflected with more certainty in the mean
temperature of the sea than in that of the solid land.

The zones at which occur the maxima of the oceanic temperature and of the
density (the saline contents) of its waters, do not correspond with the
equator.  The two maxima are separated from one another, and the waters of
the highest temperature appear to form two nearly parallel lines north and
south of the geographical equator.  Lenz, in his voyage of circumnavigation,
found in the Pacific the maxima of density in 22 degrees north and 17
degrees south latitude, while its minimum was situated a few degrees to the
south of the equator.  In the region of calms the solar heat can exercise
but little influence on evaporation, because the stratum of air impregnated
with saline aqueous vapor, which rests on the surface of the sea, remains
still and unchanged.

The surface of all connected seas must be considered as having a general
perfectly equal level with respect to their mean elevation.  Local causes
(probably prevailing winds and currents) may, however, produce permanent,
although trifling changes in the level of some deeply indented bays, as for
instance, the Red Sea.  The highest level of the water at the Isthmus of
Suez is at different hours of the day from 24 to 30 feet above that of the
Mediterranean.  The form of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, through which the
waters appear to find an easier ingress than egress, seems to contribute to
this remarkable phenomenon, which was known to the ancients.*

[[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. ii., p. 321, 327.

The admirable geodetic operations of Coraboeuf and Delcrois show that no
perceptible difference of level exists between the upper surfaces of the
Atlantic and the Mediterranean, along the chain of the Pyrenees, or between
the coasts of northern Holland and Marseilles.*

[footnote]  *See the numerical results in p. 328-333 of the volume just
named.  From the geodesical levelings which, at my request, my friend
General Bolivar caused to be taken by Lloyd and Falmare, in the years 1828
and 1829, it was ascertained that the level of the Pacific is at the utmost
3 1/2 feet higher than that of the Caribbean Sea; and even that at different
hours of the day each of the seas is in turn the higher, according to their
respective hours of flood and ebb.  If we reflect that in a distance of 64
miles, comprising 933 stations of observation, an error of three feet would
be very apt to occur, we may say that in these new operations we have
further confirmation of the equilibrium of the waters which communicate
round Cape Horn.  (Arago, in the 'Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes pour'
1831, p. 319.)  I had inferred from barometrical observations instituted in
1799 and 1804, that if there were any difference between the level of the
Pacific and the Atlantic (Carribean Sea), it could not exceed three meters
(nine feet three inches).  See my 'Relat. Hist.', t. iii., p. 555-557, and
'Annales de Chimie', t. i., p. 55-64.  The measurements, which appear to
establish an excess of height for the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and for
those of the northern part of the Adriatic Sea, obtained by combining the
trigonometrical operations of Delcrois and Choppin with those of the Swiss
and Austrian engineers, are open to many doubts.  Notwithstanding the form
of the Adriatic, it is improbable that the level of its waters in its
northern portion should be 28 feet higher than that of the Mediterranean at
Marseilles, and 25 feet higher than the level of the Atlantic Ocean.  See my
'Asie Centrale', t. ii., p. 332.

p 305
Disturbances of equilibrium and consequent movements of the waters are
partly irregular and transitory, dependent upon winds, and producing waves
which sometimes, at a distance from the shore and during a storm, rise to a
height of more than 35 feet; partly regular and periodic, occasioned by the
position and attraction of the sun and moon, as the ebb and flow of the
tides; and partly permanent, although less intense, occurring as oceanic
currents.  The phenomena of tides, which prevail in all seas (with the
exception of the smaller ones that are completely closed in, and where the
ebbing and flowing waves are scarcely or not at all perceptible), have been
perfectly explained by the Newtonian doctrine, and thus brought "within the
domain of necessary facts."  Each of these periodically-recurring
oscillations of the waters of the sea has a duration of somewhat more than
half a day.  Although in the open sea they scarcely attain an elevation of a
few feet, they often rise considerably higher where the waves are opposed by
the configuration of the shores, as for instance, at St. Malo and in Nova
Scotia, where they reach the respective elevation of 50 feet, and of 65 to
70 feet.  "It has been shown by the analysis of the great geometrician
Laplace, that, supposing the depth to be wholly inconsiderable when compared
with the radius of the earth, the stability of the equilibrium of the sea
requires that the density of its fluid should be less than that of the
earth; and, as we have already seen, the earth's density is in fact five
times greater than that of water.  The elevated parts of the land can not
therefore be overflowed, nor can the remains of marine animals found on the
summits of mountains have been conveyed to those localities by any previous
high tides.*

[footnote]  *Bessel, 'Ueber Fluth und Ebbe', in Schumacher's 'ahrbuch',
1838, s. 225.

It is no slight

This material taken from pages 305-362

COSMOS: A Sketch of the Physical Description of the Universe, Vol. 1
by Alexander von Humboldt

Translated by E C Otte

from the 1858 Harper & Brothers edition of Cosmos, volume 1

p 305 [balance of p 305 is in file "09 Humboldt"]
It is no slight
p 306
evidence of the importance of analysis, which is too often regarded with
contempt among the unscientific, that Laplace's perfect theory of tides has
enabled us, in our astronomical ephemerides, to predict the height of
spring-tides at the periods of new and full moon, and thus put the
inhabitants of the sea-shore on their guard against the increased danger
attending these lunar revolutions.

Oceanic currents, which exercise so important an influence on the
intercourse of nations and on the climatic relations of adjacent coasts,
depend conjointly upon various causes, differing alike in nature and
importance.  Among these we may reckon the periods at which tides occur in
their progress round the earth; the duration and intensity of prevailing
winds; the modifications of density and specific gravity which the particles
of water undergo in consequence of differences in the temperature and in the
relative quantity of saline contents at different latitudes and depths;*
and, lastly, the horary variations of the atmospheric pressure, successively
propagated from east to west, and occurring with such regularity in the

[footnote]  *The relative density of the particles of water depends
simultaneously on the temperature and on the amount of the saline contents
-- a circumstance that is not sufficiently borne in mind in considering the
cause of currents.  The submarine current, which brings the cold polar water
to the equatorial regions, would follow an exactly opposite course, that is
to say, from the equator toward the poles, if the difference in saline
contents were alone concerned.  In this view, the geographical distribution
of temperature and of density in the water of the ocean, under the different
zones of latitude and longitude, is of great importance.  The numerous
observations of Lenz (Poggendorf's 'Annalen', bd. xx., 1830, s. 129), and
those of Captain Beechey, collected in his 'Voyage to the Pacific', vol.
ii., p. 727, deserve particular attention.  See Humboldt, 'Relat. Hist.', t.
i., p. 74, and 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 346.

These currents present a remarkable spectacle; like rivers of uniform
breadth, they cross the sea in different directions, while the adjacent
strata of water, which remain undisturbed, form, as it were, the banks of
these moving streams.  This diffrence between the moving waters and those at
rest is most strikingly manifested where long lines of sea-weed, borne
onward by the current, enable us to estimate its velocity.  In the lower
strata of the atmosphere, we may sometimes, during a storm, observe similar
phenomena in the limited aerial current, which is indicated by a narrow line
of trees, which are often found to be overthrown in the midst of a dense

The general movement of the sea from east to west between
p 307
the tropics (termed the equatorial or rotation currnt) is considered to be
owing to the propagation of tides and to the trade winds.  Its direction is
changed by the resistance it experiences from the prominent eastern shores
of continents.  The results recently obtained by Daussy regarding the
velocity of this current, estimated from observations made on the distances
traversed by bottles that had purposely been thrown into the sea, agree
within one eighteenth with the velocity of motion (10 French nautical miles,
952 toises each, in 24 hours) which I had found from a comparison with
earlier experiments.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Relat. Hist.', t. i., p. 67; 'Nouvelles Annales des
Voyages', 1839, p. 255.

Christopher Columbus, during his third voyage, when he was seeking to enter
the tropics in the meridian of Teneriffe, wrote in his journal as follows:*
"I regard it as proved that the waters of the sea move from east to west, as
do the heavens ('las aguas van con los cielos'), that is to say, like the
apparent motion of the sun, moon, and stars."

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Examen Crit. de l'Hist. de la Geogr.', t. iii., p.
100.  Columbus adds shortly after (Navarrete, 'Coleccion de los Viages y
Descubrimientos de los Espanoles', t. i., p. 260), that the movement is
strongest in the Caribbean Sea.  In fact, Rennell terms this region, "not a
current, but a sea in motion".  ('Investigation of Currents', p. 23). 66-74.

The narrow currents, or true oceanic rivers which traverse the sea, bring
warm water into higher and cold water into lower latitudes.  To the first
class belongs the celebrated Gulf Stream,* which was known to Anghiera, and
more especially to Sir Humphrey Gilbert in the sixteenth century.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Examen Critique', t. ii., p. 250; 'Relat. Hist.', t.
i., p. 66-74.

[footnote]  *Petrus Martyr de Anghiera, 'De Rebus Oceanicis et Orbe Novo',
Bas., 1523, Dec. iii., lib. vi., p. 57.  See Humboldt, 'Examen Critique', t.
ii., p. 254-257, and t. iii., p. 108.

Its first impulse and origin is to be sought to the south of the Cape of
Good Hope; after a long circuit it pours itself from the Caribbean Sea and
the Mexican Gulf through the Straits of the Bahamas, and, following a course
from south-southwest to north-northeast, continues to recede from the shores
of the United States, until, further deflected to the eastward by the Banks
of Newfoundland, it approaches the European coasts, frequently throwing a
quantity of tropical seeds ('Mimosa scandens, Guilandina bonduc, Dolichos
urens') on the shores of Ireland, the Hebrides, and Norway.  The
northeastern prolongation tends to mitigate the cold of the ocean, and to
ameliorate the climate on the most northern extremity of Scandinavia.  At
the point where the Gulf Stream
p 308
is deflected from the Banks of Newfoundland toward the east, it sends off
branches to the south near the Azores.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Examen Crit.', t. iii., p. 64-109

This is the situation of the Sargasso Sea, or that great bank of weeds which
so vividly occupied the imagination of Christopher Columbus, and which
Oviedo calls the sea-weed meadows ('Praderias de yerva').  A host of small
marine animals inhabits these tently-moved and evergreen masses of 'Fucus
natans', one of the most generally distributed of the social plants of the

The counterpart of this current (which in the Atlantic Ocean, between
Africa, America, and Europe, belongs almost exclusively to the northern
hemisphere) is to be found in the South Pacific, where a current prevails,
the effect of whose low temperature on the climate of the adjacent shores I
had an opportunity of observing in the autumn of 1802.  It brings the cold
waters of the high southern latitudes to the coast of Chili, follows the
shores of this continent and of Peru, first from south to north, and is then
deflected from the Bay of Arica onward from south-southeast to
north-northwest.  At certain seasons of the year the temperature of this
cold oceanic current is, in the tropics, only 60 degrees, while the
undisturbed adjacent water exhibits a temperature of 81.5 degrees and 83.7
degrees.  On that part of the shore of South America south of Payta, which
inclines furthest westward, the current is suddenly deflected in the same
direction from the shore, turning so sharply to the west that a ship sailing
northward passes suddenly from cold into warm water.

It is not known to what depth cold and warm oceanic currents propagate their
motion; but the deflection experienced by the South African current, from
the Lagullas Bank, which is fully from 70 to 80 fathoms deep, would seem to
imply the existence of a far-extending propagation.  Sand banks and shoals
lying beyond the line of these currents may, as was first discovered by the
admirable Benjamin Franklin, be recognized by the coldness of the water over
them.  This depression of the temperature appears to me to depend upon the
fact that, by the propagation of the motion of the sea, deep waters rise to
the margin of the banks and mix with the upper strata.  My lamented friend,
Sir Humphrey Davy, ascribed this phenomenon (the knowledge of which is often
of great practical utility in securing the safety of the navigator) to the
descent of the particles of water that had been cooled by nocturnal radiation
p 309
and which remain nearer to the surface, owing to the hinderance placed in
the way of their greater descent by the intervention of sand-banks.  By his
observations Franklin may be said to have converted the thermometer into a
sounding line.  Mists are frequently found to rest over these depths, owing
to the condensation of the vapor of the atmosphere by the cooled waters.  I
have seen such mists in the south of Jamaica, and also in the Pacific,
defining with sharpness and clearness the form of the shoals below them,
appearing to the eye as the aerial reflection of the bottom of the sea.  A
still more striking effect of the cooling produced by shoals is manifested
in the higher strata of air, in a somewhat analogous manner to that observed
in the case of flat coral reefs, or sand islands.  In the open sea, far from
the land, and when the air is calm, clouds are often observed to rest over
the spots where shoals are situated, and their bearing may then be taken by
the compass in the same manner as that of a high mountain or isolated peak.

Although the surface of the ocean is less rich in living forms than that of
continents, it is not improbable that, on a further investigation of its
depths, its interior may be found to possess a greater richness of organic
life than any other portion of our planet.  Charles Darwin, in the agreeable
narrative of his extensive voyages, justly remarks that our forests do not
conceal so many animals as the low woody regions of the ocean, where the
sea-weed rooted to the bottom of the shoals, and the severed branches of
fuci, loosened by the force of the waves and currents, and swimming free,
unfold their delicate foliage, upborne by air-cells.*

[footnote]  *[See 'Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs', by Charles
Darwin, London, 1842.  Also, 'Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of H.M.S.
"Fly" in the Eastern Archipelago, during the Years ' 1842-1846, by J. B.
Jukes, Naturalist to the expedition, 1847.] -- Tr.

The application of the microscope increases, in the most striking manner,
our impression of the rich luxuriance of animal life in the ocean, and
reveals to the astonished senses a consciousness of the universality of
life. In the oceanic depths, far exceeding the height of our loftiest
mountain chains, every stratum of water is animated with polygastric
sea-worms, Cyclidiae and Ophrydinae.  The waters swarm with countless hosts
of small luminiferous animalcules, Mammaria (of the order of Acalephae),
Crustacea, Peridinea, and circling Nereides, which when attracted to the
surface by peculiar meteorological conditions, convert every wave into a
foaming band of flashing light.

p 310
The abundance of those marine animalcules, and the animal matter yielded by
their rapid decomposition are so vast that the sea water itself becomes a
nutrient fluid to many of the larger animals.  However much this richness in
animated forms, and this multitude of the most various and highly-developed
microscopic organisms may agreeably excite the fancy, the imagination is
even more seriously, and, I might say, more solemnly moved by the impression
of boundlessness and immeasureability, which are presented to the mind by
every sea voyage.  All who possess an ordinary degree of mental activity,
and delight to create to themselves an inner world of thought, must be
penetrated with the sublime image of the infinite, when gazing around them
on the vast and boundless sea, when involuntarily the glance is attracted to
the distant horizon, where air and water blend together, and the stars
continually rise and set before the eyes of the mariner.  This contemplation
of the eternal play of the elements is clouded, like every human joy, by a
touch of sadness and of longing.

A peculiar predilection for the sea, and a grateful remenbrance of the
impression which it has excited in my mind, when I have seen it in the
tropics in the calm of nocturnal rest, or in the fury of the tempest, have
alone induced me to speak of the individual enjoyment afforded by its aspect
before I entered upon the consideration of the favorable influence which the
proximity of the ocean has incontrovertibly exercised on the cultivation of
the intellect and character of many nations, by the multiplication of those
bands which ought to encircle the whole of humanity, by affording additional
means of arriving at a knowledge of the configuration of the earth, and
furthering the advancement of astronomy, and of all other mathematical and
physical sciences.  A portion of this influence was at first limited to the
Mediterranean and the shores of southwestern Africa, but from the sixteenth
century it has widely spread, extending to nations who live at a distance
from the sea, in the interior of continents.  Since Columbus was sent to
"unchain the ocean"* (as the unknown voice whispered to him in a dream when
he lay on a sick-bed near
p 311
the River Belem), man has ever boldly ventured onward toward the discovery
of unknown regions.

[footnote]  *The voice addressed him in these words, "Maravillosamente Dios
hizo sonar tu nombre en la tierra; de los atamientos de la mar Oceana, que
estaban cerrados con cadenas tan fuertes, te di— las llaves" -- "God will
cause thy name to be wonderfully resounded through the earth, and give thee
the keys of the gates of the ocean, which are closed with strong chains."
The dream of Columbus is related in the letter to the Catholic monarchs of
July the 7th, 1503.  (Humboldt, 'Examen Critique', t. iii., p. 234.)

The second external and general covering of our planet, the aerial ocean, in
the lower strata, and on the shoals of which we live, presents six classes
of natural phenomena, which manifest the most intimate connection with one
another.  They are dependent on the chemical composition of the atmosphere,
the variations in its transparency, polarization, and color, its density or
pressure, its temperature and humidity, and its electricity.  The air
contains in oxygen the first element of physical animal life, and besides
this benefit, it possesses another, which may be said to be of a nearly
equally high character, namely, that of conveying sound; a faculty by which
it likewise becomes the conveying sound; a faculty by which it likewise
becomes the conveyer of speech and the means of communicating thought, and
consequently of maintaining social intercourse.  If the Earth were deprived
of an atmosphere, as we suppose our moon to be, it would present itself to
our imagination as a soundless desert.

The relative quantities of the substances composing the strata of air
accessible to us have, since the beginning of the nineteenth century, become
the object of investigations, in which Gay-Lussac and myself have taken an
active part; it is however, only very recently that the admirable labors of
Dumas and Boussingault have, by new and more accurate methods, brought the
chemical analysis of the atmosphere to a high degree of perfection.
According to this analysis, a volume of dry air contains 20.8 of oxygen, and
79.2 of nitrogen, besides from two to five thousandth parts of carbonic acid
gas, a still smaller quantity of carbureted hydrogen gas,* and, according to
the important experiments of Saussure and Liebig, traces of ammoniacal
vapors,** from which plants derive their nitrogenous contents.

[footnote]  *Boussingault, 'Recherches sur la Composition de l'Atmosphere',
in the 'Annales de Chimie et de Physique', t. lvii., 1834, p. 171-173; and
lxxi. 1839, p. 116.  According to Boussingault and Lewy, the proportion of
carbonic acid in the atmosphere at Audilly, at a distance, therefore, from
the exhalations of a city, varied only between 0.00028 and 0.00031 in volume.

[footnote]  **Liebig, in his important work, entitles 'Die Organische Chemie
in ihrer Anwendung auf Agricultur und Physiologie', 1840, s. 62-72.  On the
influence of atmospheric electricity in the production of nitrate of
ammonia, which, coming into contact with carbonate of lime, is changed into
carbonate of ammonia, see Boussingault's 'Economie Rurale consideree dans
ses Rapports avec la Chimie et la Meteorologie', 1844, t. ii., p. 247, 267,
and t. i., p. 84.

Some observations of Lewy render it probable that the quantity of oxygen
varies perceptibly
p 312
but slightly, over the sea and in the interior of continents, according to
local conditions or to the seasons of the year.  We may easily conceive that
changes in the oxygen held in solution in the sea, produced by microscopic
animal organisms, may be attended by alterations in the strata of air in
immediate contact with it.*

[footnote]  *Lewy, in the 'Comptes Rendus de l'Acad. des Sciences', t.
xvii., Part ii., p. 235-248.

The air which Martins collected at Faulhorn at an elevation of 8767 feet,
contained as much oxygen as the air at Paris.*

[footnote]  *Dumas, in the 'Annales de Chimie, 3e Serie', t. iii., 1841, p.

The admixture of carbonate of ammonia in the atmosphere may probably be
considered as older than the existence of organic beings on the surface of
the earth.  The sources from which carbonic acid* may be yielded to the
atmosphere are most numerous.

[footnote]  *In this enumeration, the exhalation of carbonic acid by plants
during the night, while they inhale oxygen, is not taken into account,
because the increase of carbonic acid from this source is amply
counter-balanced by the respiratory process of plants during the day.  See
Boussingault's 'Econ. Rurale', t. i., p. 53-68, and Liebig's 'Organische
Chemie', s. 16, 21.

In the first place we would mention the respiration of animals, who receive
the carbon which they inhale from vegetable food, while vegetables receive
it from the atmosphere; in the next place, carbon is supplied from the
interior of the earth in the vicinity of exhausted volcanoes and thermal
springs, from the decomposition of a small quantity of carbureted hydrogen
gas in the atmosphere, and from the electric discharges of clouds, which are
of such frequent occurrence within the tropics.  Besides these substances,
which we have considered as appertaining to the atmosphere at all heights
that are accessible to us, there are others accidentally mixed with them,
especially near the ground, which sometimes, in the form of miasmatic and
gaseous contagia, exercise a noxious influence on animal organization.
Their chemical nature has not yet been ascertained by direct analysis; but,
from the consideration of the processes of decay which are perpetually going
on in the animal and vegetable substances with which the surface of our
planet is covered, and judging from analogies deduced from the comain of
pathology, we are led to infer the existence of such noxious local
admixtures.  Ammoniacal and other nitrogenous vapors, sulphureted hydrogen
gas, and compounds analogous to the polybasic ternary and quaternary
compounds analogous to the polybasic ternary and quaternary combinations of
the vegetable kingdom, may produce miasmata,*
p 313
which, under various forms, may generate ague and typhus fever (not by any
means exclusively on wet, marshy ground, or on coasts covered by putrescent
mollusca, and low bushes of  'Rhizophora mangle' and Avicennia).

[footnote]  *Gay-Lussac, in 'Annales de Chimie', t. liii., p. 120; Payen,
Mem. sur la Composition Chimique des Vegetaux, p. 36, 42; Liebig, 'Org.
Chemie', s. 229-345; Boussingault, 'Econ. Rurale', t. i., p. 142-153.

Fogs which have a peculiar smell at some seasons of the year, remind us of
these accidental admixtures in the lower strata of the atmosphere.  Winds
and currents of air caused by the heating of the ground even carry up to a
considerable elevation solid substances reduced to a fine powder.  The dust
which darkens the air for an extended area, and falls on the Cape Verd
Islands, to which Darwin has drawn attention, contains, according to
Ehrenberg's discovery, a host of silicious-shelled infusoria.

As principal features of a general descriptive picture of the atmosphere, we
may enumerate:

1.  'Variations of atmospheric pressure': to which belong the horary
oscillations, occurring with such regularity in the tropics, where they
produce a kind of ebb and flow in the atmosphere, which can not be ascribed
to the attraction of the moon,* and which differs so considerably according
to geographical latitude, the seasons of the year, and the elevation above
the level of the sea.

[footnote]  *Bouvard, by the application of the formulae, in 1827, which
Laplace had deposited with the Board of Longitude shortly before his death,
found that the portion of the horary oscillations of the pressure of the
atmosphere, which depends on the attraction of the moon, can not raise the
mercury in the barometer at Paris more than the 0.018 of a millimeter, while
eleven years' observations at the same place show the mean barometric
oscillation, from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M., to be 0.756 millim., and from 3 P.M. to
9 P.M., 0.373 millim.  See 'Memoires de l'Acad. des Sciences', t. vii.,
1827, p. 267.

2.  'Climatic distribution of heat', which depends on the relative position
of the transparent and opaque masses (the fluid and solid parts of the
surface of the earth), and on the hypsometrical configuration of continents;
relations which determine the geographical position and curvature of the
isothermal lines (or curves of equal mean annual temperature) both in a
horizontal and vertical direction, or on a uniform plane, or in different
superposed strata of air.

3.  'The distribution of the humidity of the atmosphere'.  The quantitative
relations of the humitidy depend on the differences in the solid and oceanic
surfaces; on the distance from the equator and the level of the sea; on the
form in which the
p 314
aqueous vapor is precipitated, and on the connection existing between these
deposits and the changes of temperature, and the direction and succession of

4.  'The electric condition of the atmosphere'.  the primary cause of this
condition, when the heavens are serene, is still much contested.  Under this
head we must consider the relation of ascending vapors to the electric
charge and the form of the clouds, according to the different periods of the
day and year; the difference between the cold and warm zones of the earth,
or low and high lands; the frequency or rarity of thunder storms, their
periodicity and formation in summer and winter; the causal connection of
electricity, with the infrequent occurrence of hail in the night, and with
the phenomena of water and sand spouts, so ably investigated by Peltier.

The horary oscillations of the barometer, which in the tropics present two
maxima (viz., at 9 or 9 1/4 P.M., and 4 A.M., occurring, therefore, in
almost the hottest and coldest hours), have long been the object of my most
careful diurnal and nocturnal observations.*

[footnote]  *'Observations faites pour constater la Marche des Variations
Horaires du Barometre sous les Tropiques', in my 'Relation Historique du
Voyage aux Regions Equinoxiales', t. iii., p. 270-313.

Their regularity is so great, that, in the daytime especially, the hour may
be ascertained from the height of the mercurial column without an error, on
the average, of more than fifteen or seventeen minutes.  In the torrid zones
of the New Continent, on the coasts as well as at elevations of nearly
13,000 feet above the level of the sea, where the mean temperature falls  to
44.6 degrees, I have found the regularity of the ebb and flow of the aerial
ocean undisturbed by storms, hurricanes, rain, and earthquakes.  The amount
of the daily oscillations diminishes from 1.32 to 0.18 French lines from the
equator to 70 degrees north latitude, where Bravais made very accurate
observations at Bosekop.*

[footnote]  *Bravais, in Daemtz and Martins, 'Meteorologie', p. 263.  At
Halle (51 degrees 29' N. lat.), the oscillation still amounts to 0.28 lines.
 It would seem that a great many observations will be required in order to
obtain results that can be trusted in regard to the hours of the maximum and
minimum on mountains in the temperate zone.  See the observations of horary
variations, collected on the Faulhorn in 1832, 1841, and 1842 (Martins,
'Meteorologie', p. 254.)

The supposition that, much nearer the pole, the height of the barometer is
really less at 10 A.M. than at 4 P.M., and consequently, that the maximum
and minimum influences of these hours
p 315
are inverted, is not confirmed by Parry's observations at Port Bowen (73
degrees 14').

The mean height of the barometer is somewhat less under the equator and in
the tropics, owing to the effect of the rising current,* than in the
temperate zones, and it appears to attain its maximum in Western Europe
between the parallels of 40 degrees and 45 degrees.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Essai sur la Geographie des Plantes', 1807, p. 90;
and in 'Rel. Hist.', t. iii., p. 313; and on the diminuation of atmospheric
pressure in the tropical portions of the Atlantic, in Poggend., 'Annalen der
Physik', bd. xxxvii., s. 245-258, and s. 463-486.

If with KŠmtz we connect together by 'isobarometric' lines those places
which present the same mean difference between the monthly extremes of the
barometer, we shall have curves whose geographical position and inflections
yield important conclusions regarding the influence exercised by the form of
the land and the distribution of seas on the oscillations of the atmosphere.
 Hindostan with its high mountain chains and triangular peninsulas, and the
eastern coasts of the New Continent, where the warm Gulf Stream turns to the
east at the Newfoundland Banks, exhibit greater isobarometric oscillations
than do the group of the Antilles and Western Europe.  The prevailing winds
exercise a principal influence on the diminution of the pressure of the
atmosphere, and this, as we have already mentioned, is accompanied,
according to Daussey, by an elevation of the mean level of the sea.Â¥

[footnote]  *Dausay, in the 'Comptes Rendus', t. iii., p. 136.

As the most important fluctuations of the pressure of the atmosphere,
whether occurring with horary or annual regularity, or accidentally, and
then often attended by violence and danger,* are like all the other
phenomena of the weather, mainly owing to the heating force of the sun's
rays, it has long been suggested (partly according to the idea of Lambert)
that the direction of the wind should be compared with the height of the
barometer, alternations of temperature, and the increase and decrease of

[footnote]  *Dove, 'Ueber die Sturme', in Poggend., 'Annalen', bd. lii., s.

Tables of atmospheric pressure during different winds, termed 'barometric
windroses', afford a deeper insight into the connection of meteorological

[footnote]  *Leopold von Buch, 'Barometrische Windrose', in 'Abhandl. der
Akad. der Wiss. zu Berlin aus den Jahren', 1818-1819, s. 187.

Dove has, with admirable sagacity, recognized, in the "law of rotation" in
both hemispheres, which he himself established, the cause of many important
processes in the aerial ocean.*

[footnote]  *See Dove, 'Meteorologishe Untersuchungen', 1837, s. 99-313; and
the excellent observations of KŠmtz on the descent of the west wind of the
upper current in high latitudes, and the general phenomena of the direction
of the wind, in his 'Vorlesungen uber µeterologie', 1840, s. 58-66,
196-200, 327-336, 353-364; and in Schumacher's 'Jahrbuch fur' 1838, s.
291-302.  A very satisfactory and vivid representation of meteorological
phenomena is given by Dove, in his small work entitled
'WitterungsverhŠltnisse von Berlin', 1842.  On the knowledge of the earlier
navigators of the rotation of the wind, see Churruca, 'Viage at Magellanes',
1793, p. 15; and on a remarkable expression of Columbus, which his son Don
Fernando Colon has presented to us in his 'Vida del Almirante', cap. 55, see
Humboldt, 'Examen Critique de l'Hist. de Geographie', t. iv., p. 253.

The difference of temperature between the
p 315
equatorial and polar regions engenders two opposite currents in the upper
strata of the atmosphere and on the Earth's surface.  Owing to the
difference between the rotatory velocity at the poles and at the equator,
the polar current is deflected eastward, and the equatorial current
westward.  The great phenomena of atmospheric pressure, the warming and
cooling of the strata of air, the aqueous deposits, and even, as Dove has
correctly represented, the formation and appearance of clouds, alike depend
on the opposition of these two currents, on the place where the upper one
descends, and on the displacement of the one by the other.  Thus the figures
of the clouds, which form an animated part of the charms of a landscape,
announce the processes at work in the upper regions of the atmosphere, and,
when the air is calm, the clouds will often present, on a bright summer sky,
the "projected image" of the radiating soil below.

Where this influence of radiation is modified by the relative position of
large continental and oceanic surfaces, as between the eastern shore of
Africa and the western part of the Indian peninsula, its effects are
manifested in the Indian monsoons, which change with the periodic variations
in the sun's declination,* and which were known to the Greek navigators
under the name of 'Hippalos'.

[footnote]  *'Monsun' (Malayan 'musim', the 'hippalos' of the Greeks) is
derived from the Arabic word 'mausim', a set time or season of the year, the
time of the assemblage of pilgrims at Mecca.  The word has been applied to
the seasons at which certain winds prevail, which are, besides, named from
places lying in the direction from whence they come; thus, for instance,
there is the 'mausim' of Aden, of Guzerat, Malabar, etc.  (Lassen, 'Indische
Alterthumskunde', bd. i., 1843, s. 211).  On the contrasts between the solid
or fluid substrata of the atmosphere, see Dove, in 'Der Abhandl. der Akad.
der Wiss. zu Berlin aus dem Jahr' 1842, s. 239.

In the knowledge of the monsoons, which undoubtedly dates back thousands of
years among the inhabitants of Hindostan and China, of the eastern parts of
the Arabian Gulf and of the western shores of the Malayan
p 317
Sea, and in the still more ancient and more general acquaintance with land
and sea winds, lies concealed, as it were, the germ of that meteorological
sciences which is now making such rapid progress.  The long chain of
'magnetic stations' extending from Moscow to Pekin, across the whole of
Northern Asia, will prove of immense importance in determining the 'law of
the winds', since these stations have also for their object the
investigation of general meteorological relations.  The comparison of
observations made at places lying so many hundred miles apart, will decide,
for instance, whether the same east wind blows from the elevated desert of
Gobi to the interior of Russia, or whether the direction of the Aerial
current first began in the middle of the series of the stations, by the
descent of the air from the higher regions.  By means of such observations,
we may learn, in the strictest sense, 'whence' the wind cometh.  If we only
take the results on which we may depend from those places in which the
observations on the direction of the winds have been continued more than
twenty years, we shall find (from the most recent and careful calculations
of Wilhelm Mahlmann) that in the middle latitudes of the temperate zone, in
both continents, the prevailing aerial current has a west-southwest

Our insight into the 'distribution of heat' in the atmosphere has been
rendered more clear since the attempt has been made to connect together by
lines those places where the mean annual summer and winter temperatures have
been ascertain by correct observations.  The system of 'isothermal,
osotheral' and 'isochimenal' lines, which I first brought into use in 1817,
may, perhaps, if it be gradually perfected by the united efforts of
investigators, serve as one of the main foundations of 'comparative
climatology'.  Terrestrial magnetism did not acquire a right to be regarded
as a science until partial results were graphically connected in a system of
lines of 'equal declination, equal inclinatiion', and 'equal intensity'.

The term 'climate', taken in its most general sense, indicated all the
changes in the atmosphere which sensibly affect our organs, as temperature,
humidity, variations in the barometrical pressure, the calm state of the air
or the action of opposite winds, the amount of electric tension, the purity
of the atmosphere or its admixture with more or less noxious gaseous
exhalations, and, finally, the degree of ordinary transparency and clearness
of the sky, which is not only important with respect to the increased
radiation from the Earth, the organic development of plants, and the
ripening of fruits, but
p 318
also with reference to its influence on the feelings and mental condition of

If the surface of the Earth consisted of one and the same homogeneous fluid
mass, or of strata of rock having the same color, density, smoothness, and
power of absorbing heat from the solar rays, and of radiating it in a
similar manner through the atmosphere, the isothermal, isotheral, and
isochimenal lines would all be parallel to the equator.  In this
hypothetical condition of the Earth's surface, the power of absorbing and
emitting light and heat would every where be the same under the same
latitudes.  The mathematical consideration of climate, which does not
exclude the supposition of the existence of currents of heat in the
interior, or in the external crust of the earth, nor of the propagation of
heat by atmospheric currents, proceeds from this mean, and, as it were,
primitive condition.  Whatever alters the capacity for absorption and
radiation, at places lying under the same parallel of latitude, gives rise
to inflections in the isothermal lines.  The nature of these inflections,
the angles at which the isothermal, isotheral, or isochimenal lines
intersect the parallels of latitude, their convexity or concavity with
respect to the pole of the same hemisphere, are dependent on causes which
more or less modify the temperature under different degrees of longitude.

The progress of 'Climatology' has been remarkably favored by the extension
of European civilization to two opposite coasts, by its transmission from
our western shores to a continent which is bounded on the east by the
Atlantic Ocean.  When, after the ephemeral colonization from Iceland and
Greenland, the British laid the foundation of the first permanent
settlements on the shores of the United States of America, the emigrants
(whose numbers were rapidly increased in consequence either of religious
persecution, fanaticism, or love of freedom, and who soon spread over the
vast extent of territory lying between the Carolinas, Virginia, and the St.
Lawrence) were astonished to find themselves exposed to an intensity of
winter cold far exceeding that which prevailed in Italy, France, and
Scotland, situated in corresponding parallels of latitude.  But, however
much a consideration of these climatic relations may have awakened
attention, it was not attended by any practical results until it could be
based on the numerical data of 'mean annual temperature'.  If, between 58
degrees and 30 degrees north latitude, we compair Nain, on the coast of
Labrador, with Gottenburg; Halifax with Bordeaus; New
p 319
York with Naples; St. Augustine, in Florida, with Cairo, we find that, under
the same degrees of latitude, the differences of the mean annual temperature
between Eastern America and Western Europe, proceeding from north to south,
are successively 20.7 degrees, 13.9 degrees, 6.8 degrees, and almost 0
degrees.  The gradual decrease of the differences in this series extending
over 28 degrees of latitude is very striking.  Further to the south, under
the tropics, the isothermal lines are every where parallel to the equator in
both hemispheres.  We see, from the above examples, that the questions often
asked in society, how many degrees America (without distinguishing between
the eastern and western shores) is colder than Europe? and how much the mean
annual temperature of Canada and the United States is lower than that of
corresponding latitudes in Europe? are, when thus 'generally expressed',
devoid of meaning.  There is a separate difference for each parallel of
latitude, and without a special comparison of the winter and summer
temperatures of the opposite coasts, it will be impossible to arrive at a
correct idea of climatic relations, in their influence on agriculture and
other industrial pursuits, or on the individual comfort or discomfort of
manking in general.

In enumerating the causes which produce disturbances in the form of the
isothermal lines, I would distinguish between those which 'raise' and those
which 'lower' the temperature.  To the first class belong the proximity of a
western coast in the temperate zone; the divided configuration of a
continent into peninsulas, with deeply-indented bays and inland seas; the
aspect of the position of a portion of the land with reference either to a
sea of ice spreading far into the polar circle, or to a mass of continental
land of considerable extent, lying in the same meridian, either under the
equator, or, at least, within a portion of the tropical zone; the prevalence
of southerly or westerly winds on the western shore of a continent in the
temperate northern zone; chains of mountains acting as protecting salls
against the winds coming from colder regions; the infrequency of swamps,
which, in the spring and beginning of summer, long remain covered with ice,
and the absence of woods in a dry, sandy soil; finally the constant serenity
of the sky in the summer months, and the vicinity of an oceanic current,
bringing water which is of a higher temperature than that of the surrounding

Among the causes which tend to 'lower' the mean annual temperature I include
the following:  elevation above the level of the sea, when not forming part
of an extended plain; the
p 320
vicinity of an eastern coast in high and middle latitudes; the compact
configuration of a continent having no littoral curvatures or bays; the
extension of land toward the poles into the region of perpetual ice, without
the intervention of a sea remaining open in the winter; a geographical
position, in which the equatorial and tropical regions are occupied by the
sea, and consequently, the absence, under the same meridian, of a
continental tropical land having a strong capacity for the absorption and
radiation of heat; mountain chains, whose mural form and direction impede
the access of warm winds, the vicinity of isolated peaks, occasioning the
descent of cold currents of air down their declivities; extensive woods,
which hinder the isolation of the soil by the vital activity of their
foliage, which produces great evaporation, owing to the extension of these
organs, and increases the surface that is cooled by radiation, acting
consequently in a three-fold manner, by shade, evaporation, and radiation;
the frequency of swamps or marshes, which in the north form a kind of
subterranean glacier in the plains, lasting till the middle of the summer; a
cloudy summer sky, which weakens the action of the solar rays; and, finally,
a very clear winter sky, favoring the radiation of heat.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Recherches sur les Causes des Inflexions des Lignes
Isothermes', in 'Asie Centr.', t. iii., p. 103-114, 118, 122, 188.

The simultaneous action of these disturbing causes, whether productive of an
increase or decrease of heat, determines, as the total effect, the
inflection of the isothermal lines, especially with relation to the
expansion and configuration of solid continental masses, as compared with
the liquid oceanic.  These perturbations give rise to convex and concave
summits of the isothermal curves.  There are, however, different orders of
disturbing causes, and each one must, therefore, be considered separately,
in order that their total effect may afterward be investigated with
reference to the motion (direction, local curvature) of the isothermal
lines, and the actions by which they are connected together, modified,
destroyed, or increased in intensity, as manifested in the contact and
intersection of small oscillatory movements.  Such is the method by which, I
hope, it may some day be possible to connect together, by empirical and
numerically expressed laws, vast series of apparently isolated facts, and to
exhibit the mutual dependence which must necessarily exist among them.

The trade winds -- easterly winds blowing within the tropics -- give rise,
in both temperate zones, to the west, or west-southwest
p 321
sinds which prevail in those regions, and which are land winds to eastern
coasts, and sea winds to western coasts, estending over a space which, from
the great mass and the sinking of its cooled particles, is not capable of
any considerable degree of cooling, and hence it follows that the east winds
of the Continent must be cooler than the west winds, where their temperature
is not affected by the occurrence of oceanic currents near the shore.
Cook's young companion on his second voyage of circumnavigation, the
intelligent George Forster, to whom I am indebted for the lively interest
which prompted me to undertake distant travels, was the first who drew
attention, in a definite manner, to the climatic differences of temperature
existing in the eastern and western coasts of both continents, and to the
similarity of temperature of the western coast of North America in the
middle latitudes, with that of Western Europe.*

[footnote]  *George Forster, 'Klein Schriften', th. iii., 1794, s. 87; Dove,
in Schumacher's 'Jahrbuch fur', s. 289; KŠmtz, 'Meteorologie', bd. ii., s.
41, 43, 67, and 96; Arago, in the 'Comptes Rendus', t. i., p. 268.

Even in northern latitudes exact observations show a striking difference
between the 'mean annual temperature' of the east and west coasts of
America.  The mean annual temperature of Nain, in   (lat. 57 degrees 10'),
is fully 6.8 degrees 'below' the freezing point, while on the northwest
coast, at New Archangel, in Russian America (lat. 57 degrees 3'), it is 12.4
degrees 'above' this point.  At the first-named place, the mean summer
temperature hardly amounts to 43 degrees, while at the latter place it is 57
degrees.  Pekin (39 degrees 54'), on the eastern coast of Asia, has a mean
annual tempeerature of 52.8 degrees, which is 9 degrees below that of
Naples, situated somewhat further to the north.  The mean winter temperature
of Pekin is at least 5.4 degrees below the freezing point, while in Western
Europe, even at Paris (48 degrees 50'), it is nearly 6 degrees above the
freezing point.  Pekin has also a mean winter cold which is 4.5 degrees
lower than that of Copenhagen, lying 17 degrees further to the north.

We have already seen the slowness with which the great mass of the ocean
follows the variations of temperature in the atmosphere, and how the sea
acts in equalizing temperatures, moderating simultaneously the severity of
winter and the heat of summer.  Hence arises a second more important
contrast -- that, namely, between insular and littoral climates enjoyed by
all articulated continents having deeply indented bays and peninsulas, and
between the climate of the interior of great masses of solid land.  This
remarkable contrast has been fully
p 322
developed by Leopold von Buch in all its various phenomena, both with
respect to its influence on vegetation and agriculrure, on the transparency
of the atmosphere, the radiation of the soil, and the elevation of the line
of perpetual snow.  In the interior of the Asiatic Continent, Tobolsk,
Barnaul on the Oby, and Irkutsk, have the same mean summer heat as Berlin,
Munster, and Cherbourg in Normandy, the thermometer sometimes remaining for
weeks together at 86 degrees or 88 degrees, while the mean winter
temperature is, during the coldest month, as low as -0.4 degrees to -4
degrees.  These continental climates have therefore justly been termed
'excessive' by the great mathematician and physicist Buffon; and the
inhabitants who live in countries having such 'excessive' climates seem
almost condemned, as Dante expresses himself,
"A sofferir tormenti caldi e geli."*

[fiitbite]  *Dante, 'Divina Commedia, Purgatorio', canto iii.

In no portion of the earth, neither in the Canary Islands, in Spain, nor in
the south of France, have I ever seen more luxuriant fruit, especially
grapes, than in Astrachan, near the shores of the Caspian Sea (46 degrees
21').  Although the mean annual temperature is about 48¼degrees, the mean
summer heat rises to 70¼degrees, as at Bordeaux, while not only there, but
also further to the south, as at Kislar on the mouth of the Terek (in the
latitude of Avignon and Rimini), the thermometer sinks in the winter to -13
degrees or -22 degrees.

Ireland, Guernsey, and Jersey, the peninsula of Brittany, the coasts of
Normandy, and of the south of England, present, by the mildness of their
winters, and by the low temperature and clouded sky of their summers, the
most striking contrast to the continental climate of the interior of Eastern
Europe.  In the northeast of Ireland (54 degrees 56'), lying under the same
parallel of latitude as Konigsberg in Prussia, the myrtle blooms as
luxuriantly as in Portugal.  The mean temperature of the month of August,
which in Hungary rises to 70 degrees, scarcely reaches 61 degrees at Dublin,
which is situated on the same isothermal line of 49 degrees; the mean winter
temperature, which falls to about 28 degrees at Pesth, is 40 degrees at
Dublin (whose mean annual temperature is not more than 49 degrees); 3.6
degrees higher than that of Milan, Pavia, Padua, and the whole of Lombardy,
where the mean annual temperature is upward of 55¼degrees.  At Stromness,
in the Orkneys, scarcely half a degree further south than Stockholm, the
winter temperature is 39 degrees, and consequently higher than that of
Paris, and neary as high as that of London.
p 323
Even in the Faroe Islands, at 62 degrees latitude, the inland waters never
freeze, owing to the favoring influence of the west winds and of the sea.
On the charming coasts of Devonshire, near Salcombe Bay, which has been
termed, on account of the mildness of its climate, the 'Montpellier of the
North', the Agave Mexicana has been seen to blossoom in the open air, while
orange-trees trained against espaliers, and only slightly protected by
matting, are found to bear fruit.  There, as well as at Penzance and
Gosport, and at Cherbourg on the coast of Normandy, the mean winter
temperature exceeds 42 degrees, falling short by only 2.4 degrees of the
mean winter temperature of Montpellier and Florence.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Sur les Lignes Isothermes', in the 'Memoires de
Physique et de Chimie de la Societe d'Arcueil', t. iii., Paris, 1817, p.
143-165; Knight, in the 'Transactions of the Horticultural Society of
London', vol. i, p. 32; Watson, 'Remarks on the Geographical Distribution of
British Plants', 1835, p. 60; Trevelyan, in Jemieson's 'Edinburgh New Phil.
Journal', No. 18, p. 154; Mahlmann in his admirable German translation of my
'Asie Centrale', th. ii., s. 60.

These observations will suffice to show the important influence exercised on
vegetation and agriculture, on the cultivation of fruit, and on the comfort
of mankind, by differences in the distribution of the same mean annual
temperature, through the different seasons of the year.

The lines which I have termed 'Isochimenal' and 'isotheral' (lines of equal
winter and equal summer temperature) are by no means parallel with the
'isothermal' lines (lines of equal annual temperature).  If, for instance,
in countries where myrtles grow wild, and the earth does not remain covered
with snow in the winter, the temperature of the summer and autumn is barely
sufficient to bring apples to perfect ripeness, and if, again, we observe
that the grape rarely attains the ripeness necessary to convert it into
wine, either in islands or in the vicinity of the sea, even when cultivated
on a western coast, the reason must not be sought only in the low degree of
summer heat, indicated, in littoral situations, by the thermometer when
suspended in the shade, but likewise in another cause that has not hitherto
been sufficiently considered, although it exercises an active influence on
many other phenomena (as, for instance, in the inflammation of a mixture of
chlorine and hydrogen), namely the difference between direct and diffused
light, or that which prevails when the sky is clear and when it is overcast
by mist. I long since endeavored to attract the attention of physicists and
physiologists* to this
p 324
difference, and to the 'unmeasured' heat which is locally developed in the
living vegetable cell by the action of direct light.

[footnote]  *"Haec de temperie aeris, qui terram late circumfundit, ac in
quo, longe a solo, instrumenta nostra meteorologica suspensa habemus.  Sed
alia est caloris vis, quem radii solis nullis nubibus velati, in foliis
ipsia et fructibus maturescentibus, magis minusve coloratis, gignunt,
quemque, ut egregia demonstrant experimenta amicissimorum Gay-Lussacii et
Thenardi de combustione chlori et hydrogenis, ope thermometri metiri nequis.
 Etenim locis planis et montanis, vento libe spirante, circumfusi aeris
temperies cadem esse potest coelo sudo vel nebuloso; ideoque ex
observationibus solis thermometricis, nullo adhibito Photometro, haud
cognosces, quam ob causam Galliae septentrionalis tractur Armoricanus et
Nervicus, versus littora, coe temperato sed sole raro utentia, Vitem fere
non tolerant.  Egent enim stirpes non solum caloris stimulo, sed et lucis,
quae magis intensa locis excelsis quam planis, duplici modo plantas movet,
vi sua tum propria, tum calorem in superficie earum excitante." -- Humboldt,
'De Distributione Geographica Plantarum', 1817, p. 163-164.

If, in forming a thermic scale of different kinds of cultivation,* we begin
with those plants which require the hottest climate, as the vanilla, the
cacao, banana, and cocoa-nut, and proceed to the pine-apples, the
sugar-cane, coffee, fruit-bearing date-trees, the cotton-tree, citrons,
olives, edible chestnuts, and fines producing potable wine, an exact
geographical consideration of the limits of cultivation, both on plains and
on the declivities of mountains, will teach us that other climatic relations
besides those of mean annual temperature are involved in these phenomena.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, op. cit., p. 156-161; Meyen, in his 'Grundriss der
Pflanzengeographie', 1836  s. 379-467; Boussingault, 'Economie Rurale', t.
ii., p. 675.

Taking an example, for instance, from the cultivation of the vine, we find
that, in order to procure 'potable' wine,*  it is requisite that the mean
annual heat should exceed 49 degrees, that the winter temperature upward of
64 degrees.

[footnote]  *the following table illustrates the cultivation of the vine in
Europe, and also the depreciation of its produce according to climatic
relations.  See my 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 159.  The examples quoted in
the text for Bordeaux and Potsdam are, in respect of numerical relation,
alike applicable to the countries of the Rhine and Maine (48 degrees 35' to
40 degrees 7' N. lat.).  Cherbourg in Normandy, and Ireland, show in th most
remarkable manner how, with thermal relations very nearly similar to those
prevailing in the interior of the Continent (as estimated by the thermometer
in the shade), the results are nevertheless extremely different as regards
the ripeness or the unripeness of the fruit of the vine, this difference
undoubtedly depending on the circumstance whether the vegetation of the
plant proceeds under a bright sunny sky, or under a sky that is habitually
obscured by clouds:

[NB  Table will line up in Courier 10 point]

Places.  Lat-   Ele-   Mean    Win- Spring. Sum-  Aut-  Number of the
         it-    va-    of the  ter.         mer.  umn.  years of the
         tude   tion.  Year.                             observation

         deg '  Eng.ft. Fahr.

Bordeaux 44 50  25.6    57.0   43.0  56.0   71.0   58.0          10
Stras-   48 35 479.0    49.6   34.5  50.0   64.6   50.0          35
Heid-    49 24 333.5    59.5   34.0  50.0   64.3   49.7          20
Manheim  49 29 300.5    50.6   34.6  50.8   67.1   49.5          12
Wurzburg 49 48 562.5    50.2   35.5  50.5   65.7   49.4          27
fort on
Maine    50 7  388.5    49.5   33.3  50.0   64.4   49.4          19
Berlin   52 31 102.3    47.5   31.0  46.6   63.6   47.5          23
bourg (no
wine)   49 39  ....     52.1   41.5  50.8   61.7   54.2           3
(ditto) 53 23   ....    49.1   40.2  47.1   59.6   49.7          13

The great accordance in the distribution of the annual temperature through
the different seasons, as presented by the results obtained for the valleys
of the Rhine and Maine, tends to confirm the accuracy of these
meteorological observations.  The months of December, January, and February
are reckoned as winter months.  When the different qualities of the wines
produced in Franconia, and in the countries around the Baltic, are compared
with the mean summer and autumn temperature of Wurzburg and Berlin, we are
almost surprised to find a difference of only about two degrees.  The
difference in the spring is about four degrees.  The influence of late May
frosts on the flowering season, and after a correspondingly cold winter, is
almost as important an element as the time of the subsequent ripening of the
grape.  The difference alluded to in the text between the true temperature
of the surface of the ground and the indications of a thermometer suspended
in the shade and protected from extraneous influences, is inferred by Dove
from a consideration of the results of fifteen years' observations made at
the Chiswick Gardens.  See Dove, in 'Bericht uber die Verhandl. der Berl.
Akad. der Wiss.', August, 1844, s. 285.

At Bordeaux, in the valley of the Garonne (44 degrees 50' lat.), the mean
annual winter, summer, and autumn temperatures are respectively 57 degrees,
43 degrees, 71 degrees, and 58 degrees.  In the plains near the
p 325
Baltic (52 degrees 30' lat.), where a wine is produced that can scarcely be
considered potable, these numbers are as follows:  47.5 degrees, 30 degrees,
63.7 degrees, and 47.5 degrees.  If it should appear strange that the great
differences indicated by the influence of climate on the production of wine
should not be more clearly manifested by our thermometers, the circumstance
will appear less singular when we remember that a thermometer standing in
the shade, and protected from the effect of direct insolation and nocturnal
radiation can not, at all seasong of the year, and during all periodic
changes of heat, indicate the true superficial temperature of the ground
exposed to the whole effect of the sun's rays.

The same relations which exist between the equable littoral climate of the
peninsula of Brittany, and the lower winter and
p 326
higher summer temperature of the remainder of the continent of France, are
likewise manifested in some degree, between Europe and the great continent
of Asia, of which the former may be considered to constitute the western
peninsula.  Europe owes its milder climate, in the first place, to its
position with respect to Africa, whose wide extent of tropical land is
favorable to the ascending current, while the equatorial region to the south
of Asia is almost wholly oceanic; and next to its deeply-articulated
configuration, to the vicinity of the ocean on its western shores; and,
lastly, to the existence of an open sea, which bounds its northern confines.
 Europe would therefore become colder* if Africa were to be overflowed by
the ocean; of if the mythical Atlantis were to arise and connect Europe with
North America; or if the Gulf Stream were no longer to diffuse the warming
influence of its waters into the North Sea; or if, finally, another mass of
solid land should be upheaved by volcanic action, and interposed between the
Scandinavian peninsula and Spitzbergen.

[footnote]  *See my memoir, 'Ueber die Haupt-Ursachen der
Temperaturverschiedenheit auf der ErdoberflŠche', in the 'Abhandl. der
Akad. der Wissensch. zu Berlin von dem Jahr' 1827, s. 311.

If we observe that in Europe the mean annual temperature falls as we
proceed, from west to east, under the same parallel of latitude, from the
Atlantic shores of France through Germany, Poland, and Russia, toward the
Uralian Mountains, the main cause of this phenomenon of increasing cold must
be sought in the form of the continent (which becomes less indented, and
wider, and more compact as we advance), in the increasing distance from
seas, and in the diminished influence of westerly winds.  Beyond the Uralian
Mountains these winds are converted into cool land-winds, blowing over
extended tracts covered with ice and show.  The cold of western Siberia is
to be ascribed to these relations of configuration and atmospheric currents,
and not -- as Hippocrates and Trogus Pompeius, and even celebrated travelers
of the eighteenth century conjectures -- to the great elevation of the soil
above the level of the sea.*

[footnote]  *The general level of Siberia, from Tobolsk, Tomsk, and Barnaul,
from the Altai Mountains to the Polar Sea, is not so high as that of Mauheim
and Dresden; indeed, Irkutsk, far to the east of the Jenisei, is only 1330
feet above the level of the sea, or about one third lower than Munich.

If we pass from the differences of temperature manifested in the plains to
the inequalities of the polyhedric form of the surface of our planet, we
shall have to consider mountains either in relation to their influence on
the climate of neighboring
p 327
valleys, or according to the effects of the hyposometrical relations on
their own summits, which often spread into elevated plateaux.  The division
of mountains into chains separates the earth's surface into different
basins, which are often narrow and walled in, forming caldron-like valleys,
and (as in Greece and in part of Asia Minor) constitute an individual local
climate with respect to heat, moisture, transparancy of atmosphere, and
frequency of winds and storms.  These circumstances have at all times
exercised a powerful influence on the character and cultivation of natural
products, and on the manners and institutions of neighboring nations, and
even on the feelings with which they regard one another.  This character of
'geographical individuality' attains its maximum, if we may be allowed so to
speak, in countries where the differences in the configuration of the soil
are the greatest possible, either in a vertical or horizontal direction,
both in relief and in the articulation of the continent.  The greatest
contrast to these varieties in the relations of the surface of the earth are
manifested in the Steppes of Northern Asia, the grassy plains (savannahs,
llanos, and pampas) of the New Continent, the heath ('Ericeta') of Europe,
and the sandy and stony deserts of Africa.

The law of the decrease of heat with the increase of elevation at different
latitudes is one of the most important subjects involved in the study of
meteorological processes, of the geography of plants, of the theory of
terrestrial refraction, and of the various hypotheses that relate to the
determination of the height of the atmosphere.  In the many mountain
journeys which I have undertaken, both within and without the tropics, the
investigation of this law has always formed a special object of my

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Recueil d'Observations Astronomiques', t. i., p.
126-140; 'Relation Historique', t. i., p. 119, 141, 227; Biot, in
'Connaissance des Temps pour l'an' 1841, p. 90-109.

Since we have acquired a more accurate knowledge of the true relations of
the distribution of heat on the surface of the earth, that is to say, of the
inflections of isothermal and isotheral lines, and their unequal distance
apart in the different eastern and western systems of temperature in Asia,
Central Europe, and North America, we can no longer ask the general
question, what fraction of the mean annual or summer temperature corresponds
to the difference of one degree of geographical latitude, taken in the same
meridian?  In each system of 'isothermal' lines of equal curvature there
reigns a
p 328
close and necessary connection between three elements, namely, the decrease
of heat in a vertical direction from below upward, the difference of
temperature for every one degree of geographical latitude, and the
uniformity in the mean temperature of a mountain station, and the latitude
of a point situated at the level of the sea.

In the system of Eastern America, the mean annual temperature from the coast
of Labrador to Boston changes 1.6¼degrees for every degree of latitude;
from Boston to Charleston about 1.7 degrees; from Charleston to the tropic
of Cancer, in Cuba, the variation is less rapid, being only 1.2 degrees.  In
the tropics this diminution is so much greater, that from the Havana to
Cumana the variation is less than 0.4 degrees for every degree of latitude.

The case is quite different in the isothermal system of Central Europe.
Between the parallels of 38 degrees and 71 degrees I found that the decrease
of temperature was very regularly 0.9degrees for every degree of latitude.
But as, on the other hand, in Central Europe the decrease of heat is 1.8
degrees for about every 534 feet of vertical elevation, it follows that a
difference of elevation of about 267 feet corresponds to the difference of
one degree of latitude.  The same mean annual temperature as that occurring
at the Convent of St. Bernard, at an elevation of 8173 feet, in lat. 45
degrees 50' should therefore be met with at the level of the sea in lat. 75
degrees 50'.

In that part of the Cordilleras which falls within the tropics, the
observations I made at various heights, at an elevation of upward of 19,000
feet, gave a decrease of 1 degree for every 341 feet; and my friend
Boussingault found, thirty years afterward, as a mean result, 319 feet.  By
a comparison of places in the Cordilleras, lying at an equal elevation above
the level of the sea, either on the declivities of the mountains or even on
extensive elevated plateaux, I observed that in the latter there was an
increase in the annual temperature varying from 2.7 degrees to 4.1 degrees.
This difference would be still greater if it were not for the cooling effect
of nocturnal radiation.  As the different climates are arranged in
successive strata, the one above the other, from the cacao woods of the
valleys to the region of perpetual snow, and as the temperature in the
tropics varies but little throughout the year, we may form to ourselves a
tolerably correct representation of the climatic relations to which the
inhabitants of the large cities in the Andes are subjected, by comparing
these climates with the temperatures of particular months in the plains of
France and Italy.  While
p 329
the heat which prevails daily on the woody shores of the Orinoco exceeds by
7.2 degrees that of the month of August at Palermo, we find, on ascending
the chain of the Andes, at Popayan, at an elevation of 3826 feet, the
temperature of the three summer months of Marseilles; at Quito, at an
elevation of 9541 feet, that of the close of May at Paris; and on the
Paramos, at a height of 11,510 feet, where only stunted Alpine shrubs grow,
though flowers still bloom in abundance, that of the beginning of April at
Paris.  The intelligent observer, Peter Martyr de Aughiera, one of the
friends of Christopher Columbus, seems to have been the first who recognized
(in the expedition undertaken by Rodrigo Enrique Colmenares, in October,
1510) that the limit of perpetual snow continues to ascend as we approach
the equator.  We read, in the fine work 'De Rebus Oceanicis',*  "the River
Gaira comes from a mountain in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria, which,
according to the testimony of the companions of Colmenares, is higher than
any other mountain hitherto discovered.

[footnote]  *Anglerius, 'De Rebus Oceanicis', Dec. xi., lib. ii., p. 140
(ed. Col., 1574).  In the Sierra de Santa Marta, the highest point of which
appears to exceed 19,000 feet (see my 'Relat. Hist.', t. ii., p. 214), there
is a peak that is still called Pico de Gaira.

It must undoubtedly be so if 'it retain snow perpetually' in a zone which is
not more than 10 degrees from the equinoctial line."  The lower limit of
perpetual snow, in a given latitude, is the lowest line at which snow
continues during summer, or, in other words, it is the maximum of height to
which the snow-line recedes in the course of the year.  But this elevation
must be distinguished from three other phenomena, namely, the annual
fluctuation of the snow-line, the occurrence of sporadic falls of snow, and
the existence of glaciers, which appear to be peculiar to the temperate and
cold zones.  This last phenomenon, since Saussure's immortal work on the
Alps, has received much light, in recent times, from the labors of Venetz,
Charpentier, and the intrepid and persevering observer Agassiz.

We know only the 'lower', and not the 'upper' limit of perpetual snow; for
the mountains of the earth do not attain to those ethereal regions of the
rarefied and dry strata of air, in which we may suppose, with Bouguer, that
the vesicles of aqueous vapor are converted into crystals of ice, and thus
rendered perceptible to our organs of sight.  The lower limit of snow is
not, however, a mere function of geographical latitude or of mean annual
temperature; nor is it at the equator, or
p 330
even, in the region of the tropics, that this limit attains its greatest
elevation above the level of the sea.  The phenomenon of which we are
treating is extremely complicated, depending on the general relations of
temperature and humidity, and on the form of the mountains.  On submitting
these relations to the test of special analysis, as we may be permitted to
do from the number of determinations that have recently been made,* we shall
find that the controlling causes are the differences in the temperature of
different seasons of the year; the direction of the prevailing winds and
their relations to this land and sea; the degree of dryness or humitidy in
the upper strata of the air; the absolute thickness of the accumulated
masses of fallen snow; the relation of the s-line to the total height of the
mountain; the relative position of the latter in the chain to which it
belongs, and the steepness of its declivity; the vicinity of either summits
likewise perpetually covered with show; the expansion, position, and
elevation of the plains from which the snow mountain rises as an isolated
peak or as a portion of a chain; whether this plain be part of the
sea-coast, or of the interior of a continent; whether it be covered with
wood or waving grass; and whether, finally, it consist of a dry and rocky
soil, or of a wet and marshy bottom.

[footnote]  *See my table of the height of the line of perpetual snow, in
both hemispheres, from 71 degrees 15' north lat. to 53 degrees 54' south
lat., in my 'Asie Centrale', t. iii., p. 360.

The snow-line which, under the equator in South America, attains an
elevation equal to that of the summit of Mont Blanc in the Alps, and
descends, according to recent measurements, about 1023 feet lower toward the
northern tropic in the elevated plateaux of Mexico (in 19 degrees north
latitude), rises, according to Pentland, in the southern tropical zone (14
degrees 30' to 18 degrees south latitude), being more than 2665 feet higher
in the maritime and western branch of the Cordilleras of Chili than under
the equator near Quito on Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, and Antisana.  Dr. Gilles
even asserts that much further to the south, on the declivity of the volcano
of Peuquenes (latitude 33 degrees), he found the snow-line at an elevation
of between 14,520 and 15,030 feet.  The evaporation of the snow in the
extremely dry air of the summer, and under a cloudless sky, is so powerful,
that the volcano of Aconcagua, northeast of Valparaiso (latitude 32 degrees
30'), which was found in the expedition of the Beagle to be more than 1400
feet higher than Chimborazo, was on one occasion seen free from snow.Â¥

[footnote]  *Darwin, 'Journal of the Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle',
p. 297.  As the volcano of Aconcagua was not at that time in a state of
eruption, we must not ascribe the remarkable phenomenon of this absence of
snow to the internal heat of the mountain (to the escape of heated air
through fissures), as is sometimes the case with Cotopaxi.  Gilles, in the
'Journal of Natural Science', 1830, p. 316.

p 331
an almost equal northern latitude (from 30 degrees 45' to 31 degrees), the
snow'line on the southern declivity of the Himalaya lies at an elevation of
12,982 feet, which is about the same as the height which we might have
assigned to it from a comparison with other mountain chains; on the northern
declivity, however, under the influence of the high lands of Thibet (whose
mean elevation appears to be about 11,510 feet), the snow-line is situated
at a height of 16,630 feet.  This phenomenon, which has long been contested
both in Europe and in India, and whose causes I have attempted to develop in
various works, published since 1820,* possesses other grounds of interest
p 332
those of a purely physical nature, since it exercises no inconsiderable
degree of influence on the mode of life of numerous tribes -- the
meteorological processes of the atmosphere being the controlling causes on
which depend the agricultural or pastoral pursuits of the inhabitants of
extensive tracts of continents.

[footnote]  *See my 'Second Memoire sur les Montagnes de Inde', in the
'Annales de Chemie et de Physique', t. xiv., p. 5-55; and 'Asie Centrale',
t. iii., p. 281-327.  While the most learned and experienced travelers in
India, Colebrooke, Webb, and Hodgson, Victor Jacquemont, Fobes Royle, Carl
von Hugel, and Vigne, who have all personally examined the Himalaya range,
are agreed, regarding the greater elevation of the snow-line on the
Thibeta=ian side, the accuracy of this statement is called in question by
John Gerard, by the geognoist MacClelland, the editor of the 'Calcutta
Journal', and by Captain Thomas Hutton, assistant surveyor of the Agra
Division.  The appearance of my work on Central Asia gave rise to a
rediscussion of this question.  A recent number (vol. iv., January, 1844) of
MacClelland and Griffith's 'Calcutta Journal of Natural History' contains,
however, a very remarkable and decisive notice of the determination of the
snow-line in the Himalaya.  Mr. Batten, of the Bengal service, writes as
follows from Camp Semulka, on the Cosillah River, Kumaon:  "In the July,
1843, No. 14 of your valuable Journal of Natural History, which I have only
lately had the opportunity of seeing, I read Captain Hutton's paper on the
snow of the Himalayas, and as I differed almost entirely from the
conclusions so confidently drawn by that gentleman, I thought it right, for
the interest of scientific truth, to prepare some kind of answer; as
however, on a more attentive perusal, I find that you yourself appear
implicitly to adopt Captain Hutton's views, and actually use these words,
'We have long been conscious of the error here so well ppointed out by
Captain Hutton, 'in common with every one who has visited the Himalayas,' I
feel more inclined to address you, in the first instance, and to ask whether
you will publish a short reply which I meditate; and whether your not to
Captain Hutton's paper was written after your own full and careful
examination of the subject, or merely on a general kind of acquiscence with
the fact and opinions of your able contributor, who is so well known and
esteemed as a collector of scientific data?  Now I am one who have visited
the Himalaya on the western side; I have crossed the Borendo or Booria Pass
into the Buspa Valley, in Lower Kanawar, returning into the Rewaien
Mountains of Ghurwal by the Koopin Pass; I have visited the source of the
Jumna at Jumnootree; and, moving eastward, the sources of the Kalee or
Mundaknee branch of the Ganges at Kadarnath; of the Bishnoo Gunga, or
Aluknunda, at Buddrinath and Mana; of the Pindur at the foot of the Great
Peak Nundidavi; of the Dhoulee branch of the Ganges, beyond Neetee, crossing
and recrossing the pass of that name into Thibet; of the Goree or great
branch of the Sardah, or Kalee, near Oonta Dhoora, beyond Melum.  I have
also, in my official capacity made the settlement of the Bhote Mehals of
this province.  My residence of more than six years in the hills has thrown
me constantly in the way of European and native travelers, nor have I
neglected to acquire information from the recorded labors of others.  Yet,
with all this experience, I am prepared to affirm that 'the perpetual
snow-line is at a higher elevation' on the northern slope of 'the Himalaya'
than on the southern slope.
"The facts mentioned by Captain Hutton appear to me only to refer to the
northern sides of all mountains in these regions, and not to affect, in any
way the reports of Captain Webb and others, on which Humboldt formed his
theory.  Indeed how can any facts of one observer in one place falsify the
facts of another observer in another place?  I willingly allow that the
north side of a hill retains the snow longer and deeper than the south side,
and this observation applies equally to heights in Bhote; but Humboldt's
theory is on the question of the perpetual snow-line, and Captain Hutton's
reference to Simla and Mussooree, and other mountain sites, are out of place
in this question, or else he fights against a shadow, or an objectioon of
his own creation.  In no part of his paper does he quote accurately the
dictum which he wishes to oppose."
If the mean altitude of the thibetian highlands be 11,510 feet, they admit
of comparison with the lovely and fruitful plateau of Caxamarca in Peru.
But at this estimate they would still be 1300 feet lower than the plateau of
Bolivia at the Lake of Titicaca, and the causeway of the town of Potosi.
Ladak, as appears from Vigne's measurement, by determining the
boiling-point, is 9994 feet high.  This is probably also the altitude of
H'Lassa (Yul-sung), a monastic city, which Chinese writers describe as the
'realm of pleasure', and which is surrounded by vineyards.  Must not these
lie in deep valleys?

As the quantity of moisture in the atmosphere increases with the
temperature, this element, which is so important for the whole organic
creation, must vary with the hours of the day, the seasons of the year, and
the differences in latitude and elevation.  Our knowledge of the hygrometric
relations of the Earth's surface has been very materially augmented of late
years by the general application of August's psychrometer, framed in
accordance with the views of Dalton and Daniell, for determining the
relative quantity of vapor, or the
p 333
condition of moisture of the atmosphere, by means of the difference of the
'dew point' and of the temperature of the air.  Temperature, atmospheric
pressure, and the direction of the wind, are all intimately connected with
the vivifying action of atmospheric moisture.  This influence is not,
however, so much a consequence of the quantity of moisture held in solution
in different zones, as of the nature and frequency of the precipitation
which moistens the ground, whether in the form of dew, mist, rain, or snow.
According to the exposition made by Dove of the law of rotation, and to the
general views of this distinguished physicist,* it would appear that, in our
northern zone, "the elastic force of the vapor is greatest with a southwest,
and least with a northeast wind.  On the western side of the windrose this
elasticity diminishes, while it increases on the eastern side; on the former
side, for instance, the cold, dense, and dry current of air repels the
warmer, lighter current containing an abundance of aqueous vapor, while on
the eastern side it is the former current which is repulsed by the latter.

[footnote]  *See Dove, 'Meteorologische Vergleichung  von Nordamerika und
Europa', in Schumacher's 'Jahrbuch fur' 1841, s. 311; and his
'Meteorologische Untersuchungen', s. 140.

The agreeable and fresh verdure which is observed in many trees in districts
within the tropics, where, for five or seven months of the yeqar, not a
cloud is seen on the vault of heaven, and where no perceptible dew or rain
falls, proves that the leaves are capable of extyracting water from the
atmosphere by a peculiar vital process of their own, which perhaps is not
alone that of producing cold by radiation.  The absence of rain in the arid
plains of Cumana, Coro, and Ceara in North Brazil, forms a striking contrast
to the quanitity of rain which falls in some tropical regions, as, for
instance, in the Havana, where it would appear, from the average of six
years' observation by Ramong de la Sagra, the mean annual quantity of rain
is 109 inches, equal to four or five times that which falls at Paris or at

[footnote]  *The mean annual quantity of rain that fell in Paris between
1805 and 1822 was found by Arago to be 20 inches; in London, between 1812
and 1827, it was determined by Howard at 25 inches; while at Geneva the mean
of thirty-two years' observation was 30.5 inches.  In Hindostan, near the
coast, the quantity of rain is from 115 to 128 inches; and in the island of
Cuba, fully 142 inches fell in the year 1821.  With regard to the
distribution of the quantity of rain in Central Europe, at different periods
of the year, see the admirable researches of Gasparin, Schuow, and Bravais,
in the 'Bibliotheque Universelle', t. xxxvviii., p. 54 and 264; 'Tableau du
Climat de l'Italie', p. 76; and Martins's notes to his excellent French
translation of KŠmtz's 'Vorlesungen uber Meteorologie', p. 142.

On the declivity of the Cordilleras,
p 334
the quantity of rain, as well as the temperature, diminishes with the
increase in the elevation.*

[footnote]  *According to Boussingault ('Economie Rurale', t. ii., p. 693),
the mean quantity of rain that fell at Marmato (latitude 5 degrees 27',
altitude 4675 feet, and mean temperature 69 degrees) in the years 1833 and
1834 was 64 inches, while at Santa Fe de Bogota (latitude 4 degrees 36',
altitude 8685 feet, and mean temperature 58 degrees) it only amounted to 39
1/2 inches.

My South American fellow-traveler, Caldas, found that, at Santa Fe de
Bogota, at an elevation of almost 8700 feet, it did not exceed 37 inches,
being consequently little more than on some parts of the western shore of
Europe.  Boussingault occasionally observed at Quito that Saussure's
hygrometer receded to 26 degrees with a temperature of from 53.6 degrees to
55.4 degrees.  Gay-Lussac saw the same hygrometer standing at 25.3 degrees
in his great aerostatic ascent in a stratum of air 7034 feet high, and with
a temperature of 39.2 degrees.  The greatest dryness that has yet been
observed on the surface of the globe in the low lands is probably that which
Gustav Rose, Ehrenberg, and myself found in Northern Asia, between the
valleys of the Irtisch and the Oby.  In the Steppe of Platowskaja, after
southwest winds had blown for a long time from the interior of the
Continent, with a temperature of 74.7 degrees, we found the dew point at 24
degrees.  The air contained only 16/100ths of aqueous vapor.*

[footnote]  *For the particulars of this observation, see my 'Asie
Centrale', t. iii., p. 85-89 and 467; and regarding the amount of vapor in
the atmosphere in the lowlands of tropical South America, consult my 'Relat.
Hist.', t. i., p. 242-248; t. ii., p. 45, 164.

The accurate observers KŠmtz, Bravais, and Martins have raised doubts
during the last few years regarding the greater dryness of the mountain air,
which appeared to be proved by the hygrometric measurements made by Saussure
and myself in the higher regions of the Alps and the Cordilleras.  The
strata of air at Zurich and on the Faulhorn, which can not be considered as
an elevated mountain when compared with non-European elevations, furnished
the data employed in the comparisons made by these observers.*

[footnote]  *KŠmtz, 'Vorlesungen uber Meteorologie', s. 117.

In the tropical region of the Paramos (near the region where snow begins to
fall, at an elevation of between 12,000 and 14,000 feet), some species of
large flowering myrtle-leaved alpine shrubs are almost constantly bathed in
moisture; but this fqact does not actually prove the existence of any great
and absolute quantity of aqueous vapor at such an elevation, merely affording
p 335
an evidence of the frequency of aqueous precipitation, in like manner as do
the frequent mists with which the lovely plateau of Bogota is covered.
Mists arise and disappear several times in the course of an hour in such
elevations as these, and with a calm state of the atmosphere.  These rapid
alternations characterize the Paramos and the elevated plains of the chain
of the Andes.

'The electricity of the atmosphere', whether considered in the lower or in
the upper strata of the clouds, in its silent problematical diurnal course,
or in the explosion of the lightning and thunder of the tempest, appears to
stand in a manifold relation to all phenomena of the distribution of heat,
of the pressure of the atmosphere and its disturbances, of hydrometeoric
exhibitions, and probably, also, of the magnetism of the external crust of
the earth.  It exercises a powerful influence on the whole animal and
vegetable world; not merely by meteorological processes, as precipitations
of aqueous vapor, and of the acids and ammoniacal compounds to which it
gives rise, but also directly as an electric force acting on the nerves, and
promoting the circulation of the organic juices.  This is not a place in
which to renew the discussion that has been started regarding the actual
source of atmospheric eletricity when the sky is clear, a phenomenon that
has alternately been ascribed to the evaporation of impure fluids
impregnated with earths and salts,* to the growth of plants,** or to some
other chemical decompositions on the surface of the earth, to the unequal
distribution of heat in the strata of the air,*** and, finally, according to
Peltier's intelligent researches,**** to the agency of a constant charge of
negative electricity in the terrestrial globe.

[footnote]  *Regarding the conditions of electricity from evaporation at
high temperatures, see Peltier, in the 'Annales de Chimie', t. lxxv., p. 330.

[footnote]  **Pouillet, in the 'Annales de Chimie', t. xxxv., p. 405.

[footnote]  ***De la Rive, in his admirable 'Essai Historique sur
l'Electricite', p. 140.

[footnote]  ****Peltier, in the 'Comptes Rendus de l'Acad. des Sciences', t.
xii., p. 307; Becquerel, 'Traite de l'Electricite et du Magnetisme', t. iv.,
p. 107.

Limiting itself to results yielded by electrometric observations, such, for
instance, as are furnished by the ingenious electro-magnetic apparatus first
proposed by Colladon, the physical description of the universe should merely
notice the incontestable increase of intensity in the general positive
electricity of the atmosphere,* accompanying an increase of altitude and and
the absence of trees, its daily variations (which, according to Clark's
experiments at Dublin,
p 336
take place at more complicated periods than those found by Saussure and
myself), and its variations in the different seasons of the year, at
different distances from the equator, and in the different relations of
continental or oceanic surface.

[footnote]  *Duprez, 'Sur l'Electricite de l'Air' (Bruxelles, 1844), p.

The electric equilibrium is less frequently disturbed where the aerial ocean
rests on a liquid base than where it impends over the land; and it is very
striking to observe how, in extensive seas, small insular groups affect the
condition of the atmosphere, and occasion the formation of storms.  In fogs,
and in the commencement of falls of snow, I have seen, in a long series of
observations, the previously permanent positive electricity rapidly pass
into the negative condition, both on the plains of the colder zones, and in
the Paramos of the Cordilleras, at elevations varying from 11,000 to 15,000
feet.  The alternate transition was precisly similar to that indicated by
the electrometer shortly before and during a storm.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Relation Historique', t. iii., p. 318.  I here only
refer to those of my experiiments in which the three-foot metallic conductor
of Saussure's electrometer was neither moved upward nor downward, nor,
according to Volta's proposal, armed with burning sponge.  Those of my
readers who are well acquainted with the 'quaestiones vexatae' of
atmospheric electricity will understand the grounds for this limitation.
Respecting the formation of storms in the tropics, see my 'Rel. Hist.', t.
ii., p. 45 and 202-209.

When the vesicles of vapor have become condensed into clouds, having
definite outlines, the electric tension of the external surface will be
increased in proportion to the amount of electricity which passes over to it
from the separate vesicles of vapor.*

[footnote]  *Gay-Lussac, in the 'Annales de Chimie et de Physique', t.
viii., p. 167.  In consequence of the discordant views of Lame, Becquerel,
and Peltier, it is difficult to come to a conclusion regarding the cause of
the specific distribution of electricity in clouds, some of which have a
positive, and others a negative tension.  The negative electricity of the
air, which near high water-falls is caused by a disintegration of the drops
of water -- a fact originally noticed by Tralles, and confirmed by myself in
various latitudes -- is very remarkable, and is sufficiently intense to
produce an appreciable effect on a delicate electrometer at a distance of
300 or 400 feet.

Slate-gray clouds are charged, according to Peltier's experiments at Paris,
with negative, and white, red, and orange-colored clouds with positive
electricity.  Thunder clouds not only envelop the highest summits of the
chain of the Andes (I have myself seen the electric effect of lightning on
one of the rocky pinnacles which project upward of 15,000 feet above the
crater of the volcano of Toluca), but they have also been observed at a
vertical height of 26,650 feet over the low
p 337
lands in the temperate zone.*

[footnote]  *Arago, in the 'Annuaire du Bureau des Longitudes pour' 1838, p.

Sometimes, however, the stratum of cloud from which the thunder proceeds
sinks to a distance of 5000, or, indeed, only 3000 feet above the plain.

According to Arago's investigations -- the most comprehensive that we
possess on this difficult branch of meteorology -- the evolution of light
(lightning) is of three kinds -- zigzag, and sharply defined at the edges;
in sheets of light, illuminating a whole cloud, which seems to open and
refeal the light within it; and in the form of fire-balls.*

[footnote]  *Arago, op. cit., p. 249-266.  (See also, p. 268-279.)

The duration of the two first kinds scarcely continues the thousandth part
of a second; but the globular lightning moves much more slowly remaining
visible for several seconds.  Occasionally (as is proved by the recent
observations, which have confirmed the description given by Nicholson and
Beccaria of this phenomenon), isolated clouds, standing high above the
horizon, continue uninterruptedly for some time to emit a luminous radiance
from their interior and from their margins, although there is no thunder to
be heard, and no indication of a storm; in some cases even hail-stones,
drops of rain, and flakes of snow have been seen to fall in a luminous
condition, when the phenomenon was not preceded by thunder.  In the
geographical distribution of storms, the Peruvian coast, which is not
visited by thunder or lightning, presents the most striking contrast to the
rest of the tropical zone, in which, at certain seasons of the year,
thunder-storms occur almost daily, about four or five hours after the sun
has reached the meridian.  According to the abundant evidence collected by
Arago* from the testiimony of navigators (Scoresby, Parry, Ross, and
Franklin), there can be no doubt that, in general, electric explosions are
extremely rare in high northern regions (between 70 degrees and 75 degrees

[footnote]  *Arago, op. cit., p. 388-391.  The learned academician Von Baer,
who has done so much for the meteorology of Northern Asia, has not taken
into consideration the extreme rarity of storms in Iceland and Greenland; he
has only remarked ('Bulletin de l'Academie de St. Petersbourg', 1839, Mai)
that in Nova Zembla and Spitzbergen it is sometimes heard to thunder.

'The meteorological portion' of the descriptive history of nature which we
are now concluding shows that the processes of the absorption of light, the
liberation of heat, and the variations in the elastic and electric tension,
and in the hygrometric condition of the vast aerial ocean, are all so
intimately connected together, that each individual meteorological process
is modified by the action of all the others.  The complicated
p 338
nature of these disturbing causes (which involuntarily remind us of those
which the near and especially the smallest cosmical bodies, the satellites,
comets, and shooting stars, are subjected to in their course) increases the
difficulty of giving a full explanation of these involved meteorological
phenomena, and likewise limits, or wholly precludes, the possibility of that
predetermination of atmospheric changes which would be so important for
horticulture, agriculture, and navigation, no less than for the comfort and
enjoyment of life.  Those who place the value of meteorology in this
problematic species of prediction rather than in the knowledge of the
phenomena themselves, are firmly convinced that this branch of science, on
account of which so many expeditions to distant mountainous regions have
been undertaken, has not made any very considerable progress for centuries
past.  The confidence which they refuse to the physicist they yield to
changes of the moon, and to certain days marked in the calendar by the
superstition of a by-gone age.

"Great local deviations from the distribution of the mean temperature are of
rare occurrence, the variations being in general uniformly distributed over
extensive tracts of land.  the deviation, after attaining its maximum at a
certain point, gradually decreases to its limits; when these are passed,
however, decided deviations are observed in the 'opposite direction'.
Similar relations of weather extend more frequently from south to north than
from west to east.  At the close of the year 1829 (when I had just completed
my Siberian journey), the maximum of cold was at Berlin, while North America
enjoyed an unusually high temperature.  It is an entirely arbitrary
assumption to believe that a hot summer succeeds a severe winter, and that a
cool summer is preceded by a mild winter."  Opposite relations of weather in
contiguous countries, or in two corn-growing continents, give rise to a
beneficient equalization in the prices of the products of the vine, and of
agricultural and horticultural cultivation.  It has been justy remarked,
that it is the barometer alone which indicates to us the changes that occur
in the pressure of the air throughout all the aerial strata from the place
of observation to the extremest confines of the atmosphere, while* the
thermometer and psychrometer only acquaint us with all the variations
occurring in the local heat and moisture of the lower strata of
p 339
air in contact with the ground.

[footnote]  *KŠmtz, in Schumacher's 'Jahrbuch fur' 1838, s. 285.  Regarding
the opposite distribution of heat in the east and the west of Europe and
North America, see Dove, 'Repertorium der Physik', bd. iii., s. 392-395.

The simultaneous thermic and hygrometric modifications of the upper regions
of the air can only be learned (when direct observations on mountain
stations or aerostatic ascents are impracticable) from hypothetical
combinations, by making the barometer serve both as a thermometer and an
hygrometer.  Important changes of weather are not owing to merely local
causes, situated at the place of observation, but are the consequence of a
disturbance in the equilibrium of the aerial currents at a great distance
from the surface of the Earth, in the higher strata of the atmosphere,
bringing cold or warm, dry or moist air, rendering the sky cloudy or serene,
and converting the accumulated masses of clouds into light feathery 'cirri'.
 As, therefore, the inaccessibility of the phenomenon is added to the
manifold nature and complication of the disturbances, it has always appeared
to me that meteorology must first seek its foundation and progress in the
torrid zone, where the variations of the atmospheric pressure, the course of
hydro-meteors, and the phenomena of electric explosion, are all of periodic

As we have now passed in review the whole sphere of inorganic terrestrial
life, and have briefly considered our planet with reference to its form, its
internal heat, its electro-magnetic tension, its phenomena of polar light,
the volcanic reaction of its interior on its variously composed solid crust,
and, lastly, the phenomena of its two-fold envelopes -- the aerial and
liquid ocean -- we might, in accordance with the older method of treating
physical geography, consider that we had completed our descriptive history
of the globe.  But the nobler aim I have proposed to myself, of raising the
contemplation of nature to a more elevated point of view, would be defeated,
and this delineation of nature would appear to lose its most attractive
charm, if it did not also include the sphere of organic life in the many
stages of its typical development.  The idea of vitality is so intimatey
associated with the idea of the existence of the active, ever-blending
natural forces which animate the terrestrial sphere, that the creation of
plants and animals is ascribed in the most ancient mythical representations
of many nations to these forces, while the condition of the surface of our
planet, before it was animated by vital forms, is regarded as coeval with
the epoch of a chaotic conflict of the struggling elements.  But the
empirical domain of objective contemplation, and the delineation of our
planet in its present condition, do not include a consideration
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of the mysterious and insoluble problems of origin and existence.

A cosmical history of the universe, resting upon facts as its basis, has,
from the nature and limitations of its sphere, necessarily no connection
with the obscure domain embraced by a 'history of organisms',* if we
understand the word 'history' in its broadest sense.

[footnote]  *The 'history of plants', which Endlicher and Unger have
described in a most masterly manner ('Grundzuge der Botanik', 1843, s.
449-468), I myself separated from the 'geography of plants' half a century
ago.  In the aphorisms appended to my 'Subterranean Flora', the following
passage occurs:  "Geognosia naturam animantem et inanimam vel, ut vocabulo
minus apto, ex antiquitate saltem haud petito, utar, corpora vitur capita:
Geographia oryctologica quam simpliciter Geognosiam vel Geologiam dicunt,
virque acutissimus Wernerus egregie digessit; Geographia zoologica, cujus
doctrinae fundamenta Zimmermannus et Treviranus jecerunt; et Geographic
plantarum quam aequales nostri diu intactam reliquerunt.  Geographia
plantarum vincula et cognationem tradit, quibus omnia vegetabilia inter se
connexa sint, terraetractur quos teneant, in aerem atmosphaericum quae sit
eorum vis ostendit, saxa atque rupes quibus potissimum algarum primordiis
radicibusque destruantur docet, et quo pacto in telluris superficie humus
nascatur, commemorat.  Est itaque quod differat inter Geognosiam et
Physiographiam, 'historia naturalis' perperam nuncupatam quum Zoognosia,
Phytognosia, et Oryctognosia, quae quidem omnes in naturae investigatione
versantur, non nisi singulorum animalium, plantarum, rerum metallicarum vel
(venia sit verbo) fossilium formas, anatomen, vires scrutautur.  Historia
Telluris, Geognosiae magis quam Physiographiae affinis, nemini adhuc tenata,
plantarum animaliumque genera orbem inhabitantia primaevum, migrationes
eorum compluriumque interitum, ortum quem montes, valles, saxorum strata et
vemae metalliferae ducunt, aerem, mutatis temporum vicibus, modo purum, modo
vitiatum, terrae superficiem humo plantisque paulatim obtectam, fluminum
inundantium impetu denuo nudatam, iterumque siccatam et gramine vestitam
commemorat. Igitur Historia zoolopgica, Historia plantarum et Historia
oryctologica, quae non nisi pristinum orbis terrae statum indicant, a
Geognosia probe distinguendae." -- Humboldt, 'Flora Friburgensis
Subterranea, cui accedunt Aphorismi ex Physiologia Chemica Plantarum', 1793,
p. ix.-x.  Respecting the "spontaneous motion." which is referred to in a
subsequent part of the text, see the remarkable passage in Aristotle, 'De
Coelo,' ii., 2, p. 284, Bekker, where the distinction between animate and
inanimate bodies is made to depend on the internal or external position of
the seat of the determining motion.  "No movement," says the Stagirite,
"proceeds from the vegetable spirit, because plants are buried in a still
sleep, from which nothing can arouse them" (Aristotle, 'De Generat.
Animal.', v. i., p. 778, Bekker); and again, "because plants have no desires
which incite them to spontaneous motion."  (Arist., 'De Somno et Vigil'.,
cap. i., p. 455, Bekker.)

It must, however, be remembered, that the inorganic crust of the Earth
contains within it the same elements that enter into the structure of animal
and vegetable organs.  A physical cosmography would therefore be incomplete
p 341
if it were to omit a consideration of these forces, and of the substances
which enter into solid and fluid combinations in organic tissues, under
conditiions which, from our ignorance of their actual nature, we designate
by the vague term of 'vital forces', and group into various systems in
accordance with more or less perfectly conceived analogies.  The natural
tendency of the human mind involuntarily prompts us to follow the physical
phenomena of the Earth, through all their varied series, until we reach the
final stage of the morphological evolution of vegetable forms, and the
self-determining powers of motion in animal organisms.  And it is by these
links that 'the geography of organic beings -- of plants and animals' -- is
connected with the delineation of the inorganic phenomena of our terrestrial

Without entering on the difficult question of 'spontaneous motion', or, in
other words, on the difference between vegetable and animal life, we would
remark, that if nature had endowed us with microscopic powers of vision, and
the integuments of plants had been rendered perfectly transparent to our
eyes, the vegetable world would present a very different aspect from the
apparent immobility and repose in which it is now manifested to our senses.
The interior portion of the cellular structure of their organs is
incessantly animated by the most varied currents, either rotating, ascending
and descending, remifying, and ever changing their direction, as manifested
in the motion of the granular mucus of marine plants (Naiades, Characeae,
Hydrocharidae), and in the hairs of phanerogamic land plants; in the
molecular motion first discovered by the illustrious botanist Robert Brown,
and which may be traced in the ultimate portions of every molecule of
matter, even when separated from the organ; in the gyratory currents of the
globules of cambium ('cyclosis') circulating in their peculiar vessels; and,
finally, in the singularly articulated self-unrolling filamentous vessels in
the antheridia of the chara, and in the reproductive organs of liverworts
and algae, in the structural conditions of which Meyen, unhappily too early
lost to science, believed that he recognized an analogy with the spermatozoa
of the animal kingdom.*

[footnote]  *["In certain parts, probably, of all plants, are found peculiar
spiral filaments, having a striking resemblance to the spermatozoa of
animals.  They have been long known in the organs called the antheridia of
mosses, Hepaticcae, and Characeae, and have more recently been discovered in
peculiar cells on the germinal frond of ferns, and on the very young leaves
of the buds of Phanerogamia.  They are found in peculiar cells, and when
these are placed in water they are torn by the filament, which commences an
active spiral motion.  The signification of these organs is at present quite
unknown; they appear, from the researches of NŠgeli, to resemble the cell
mucilage, or proto-plasma, in composition, and are developed from it.
Schleiden regards them as mere mucilaginous deposits, similar to those
connected with the circulation in cells, and he contends that the movement
of these bodies in water is analogous to the molecular motion of small
particles of organic and inorganic substances, and depends on mechanical
causes." -- 'Outlines of Structural and Physiological Botany', by A.
Henfrey, F.L.S., etc., 1846, p. 23.] -- Tr.

If to these
p 342
manifold currents and gyratory movements we add the phenomena of endosmosis,
nutrition, and growth, we shall have some idea of those forces which are
ever active amid the apparent repose of vegetable life.

Since I attempted in a former work, 'Ansichten der Natur' (Views of Nature),
to delineate the universal diffusion of life over the whole surface of the
Earth, in the distribution of organic forms, both with respect to elevation
and depth, our knowledge of this branch of science has been most remarkably
increased by Ehrenberg's brilliant discovery "on microscopic life in the
ocean, and in the ice of the polar regions" -- a discovery based, not on
deductive conclusions, but on direct observation.  The sphere of vitality,
we might almost say, the horizon of life, has been expanded before our eyes.
 "Not only in the polar regions is there an uninterrupted development of
active microscopic life, where larger animals can no longer exist, but we
find that the microscopic animals collected in the Antarctic expedition of
Captain James Ross exhibit a remarkable abundance of unknown and often most
beautiful forms.  Even in the residuum obtained from the melted ice,
swimming about in round fragments in the latitude of 70 degrees 10', there
were found upward of fifty species of silicious-shelled Polygastria and
Coscinodiscae with their green ovaries, and therefore living and able to
resist the extreme severity of the cold.  In the Gulf of Erebus, sixty-eight
silicious-shelled Polygastria and Phytolitharia, and only one
calcareous-shelled Polythalamia, were brought up by lead sunk to a depth of
from 1242 to 1620 feet."

The greater number of the oceanic microscopic forms hitherto discovered have
been silicious-shelled, although the analysis of sea water does not yield
silica as the main constituent, and it can only be imagined to exist in it
in a state of suspension.  It is not only at particular points in inland
seas, or in the vicinity of the land, that the ocean is densely inhabited by
living atoms, invisible to the naked eye, but samples of
p 343
water taken up by Schayer on his return from Van Diemen's Land (south of the
Cape of Good Hope, in 57 degrees latitude, and under the tropics in the
Atlantic) show that the ocean in its ordinary condition, without any
apparent discoloration, contains numerous microscopic moving organisms,
which bear no resemblance to the swimming fragmentary silicious filaments of
the genus Chaetoceros, similar to the Oscillatoriae so common in our fresh
waters.  Some few Polygastria, which have been found mixed with sand and
excrements of penguins in Cockburn Island, appear to be spread over the
whole earth, while others seem to be peculiar to the polar regions.*

[footnote]  *See Ehrenberg's treatise 'Ueber das kleinste Leben im Ocean',
read before the Academy of Science at Berlin on the 9th of May, 1844.
[Dr. J. Hooker found Diatomaceae in countless numbers between the parallels
of 70 degrees and 80 degrees south, where they gave a color to the sea, and
also the icebergs floating in it.  The death of these bodies in the South
Arctic Ocean is producing a submarine deposit, consisting entirely of the
silicious particles of which the skeletons of these vegetables are composed.
 This deposit exists on the shores of Victoria Land and at the base of the
volcanic mountain Erebus.  Dr. Hooker accounted for the fact that the
skeletons of Diatomaceae had been found in the  lava of volcanic mountains,
by referring to these deposits at Mount Erebus, which lie in such a position
as to render it quite possible that the skeletons of these vegetables should
pass into the lower fissures of the mountain, and then passing into the
stream of lava, be thrown out, unacted upon by the heat to which they have
been exposed.  See Dr. Hooker's Paper, read before the British Association
at Oxford, July, 1847.] -- Tr.

We thus find from the most recent observations that animal life predominates
amid the eternal night of the depths of ocean, while vegetable life, which
is so dependent on the periodic action of the solar rays, is most prevalent
on continents.  The mass of vegetation on the Earth very far exceeds that of
animal organisms; for what is the volume of all the large living Cetacea and
Pachydermata when compared with the thickly-crosded colossal trunks of
trees, of from eight to twelve feet in diameter, which fill the vast forests
covering the tropical region of South America, between the Orinoco, the
Amazon, and the Rio de Madeira?  And although the character of different
portions of the earth depends on the combination of external phenomena, as
the outlines of mountains -- the physiognomy of plants and animals -- the
azure of the sky -- the forms of the clouds -- and the transparency of the
atmosphere -- it must still be admitted that the vegetable mantle with which
the earth is decked constitutes the main feature of the picture.  Animal
forms are inferior in mass, and their powers of motion often withdraw them
from our sight.  The
p 344
vegetable kingdom, on the contrary, acts upon our imagination by its
continued presence and by the magnitude of its forms; for the size of a tree
indicates its age, and here alone age is associated with the expression of a
constantly renewed vigor.*

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Ansichten der Natur' (2te Ausgabe, 1826), bd. ii. s.

In the animal kingdom (and this knowledge is also the result of Ehrenberg's
discoveries), the form which we term microscopic occupy the largest space,
in consequence of their rapid propagation.*

[footnote]  *On multiplication by spontaneous division of the
mother-corpuscle and intercalation of new substance, see Ehrenberg 'Van den
jetzt lebenden Thierarten der Kreidebildung', in the 'Abhandl. der Berliner
Akad. der Wiss.', 1839, s. 94.  The most powerful productive faculty in
nature is that manifested in the Vorticellae.  Estimations of the greatest
possible development of masses will be found in Chrenberg's great work 'Die
Infusionsthierchen als volkommne Organismen', 1838, s. xiii., xix., and 244.
 "The Milky Way of these organisms comprises the genera Monas, Vibrio,
Bacterium, and Bodo."  The universality of life is so profusely distributed
throughout the whole of nature, that the smaller Infusoria live as parasites
on the larger, and are themselves inhabited by others, s. 194, 211, and 512.

The minutest of the Infusoria, the Monadidae, have a diameter which does not
exceed 1/3000th of a line, and yet these silicious-shelled organisms form in
humid districts subterranean strata of many fathoms in depth.

The strong and beneficial influence exercised on the feelings of mankind by
the consideration of the diffusion of life, throughout the realms of nature
is common to every zone, but the impression thus produced is most powerful
in the equatorial regions, in the land of palms, bamboos, and arborescent
ferns, where the ground rises from the shore of seas rich in mollusca and
corals to the limits of perpetual snow.  The local distribution of plants
embraces almost all heights and all depths.  Organic forms not only descend
into the interior of the earth, where the industry of the miner has laid
open extensive excavations and sprung deep shafts, but I have also found
snow-white stalactiitic columns encircled by the delicate web of an Usnea,
in caves where meteoric water could alone penetrate through fissures.
Podurellae penetrate into the icy crevices of the glaciers on Mount Rosa,
the Grindelwald, and the Upper Aar; the Chionaea nivalis (formerly known as
Protococcus), exist in the polar snow as well as in that of our high
mountains.  The redness assumed by the snow after lying on the ground for
soome time was known to Aristotle, and was probably observed by him on the
mountains of Macedonia.*

[footnote]  *Aristot., 'Hist. Animal.', v. xix., p. 552, Bekk.

p 345
While, on the loftiest summits of the Alps, only Lecideae, Parmeliae, and
Umbilicariae cast their colored but scanty covering over the rocks, exposed
by the melted snow, beautiful phanerogamic plants, as the Culcitium
rufescens, Sida pinchinchensis, and Saxifraga Boussingaulti, are still found
to flourish in the tropical region of the chain of the Andes, at an
elevation of more than 15,000 feet.  Thermal springs contain small insects
(Hydroporus thermalis), Gallionellae, Oscillatoria and Confervae, while
their waters bathe the root-fibers of phanerogamic plants.  As air and water
are aniimated at different temperatures by the presence of vital organisms,
so likewise is the interior of the different portions of animal bodies.
Animalcules have been found in the blood of the frog and the salmon;
according to Nordmann, the fluids in the eyes of fishes are often filled
with a worm that lives by suction (Diplostomum), while in the gills of the
bleak the same observer has discovered a remarkable double aniimalcule
(Diplozoon paradoxum), having a cross-shaped form with two heads and two
caudal extremities.

Although the existence of meteoric Infusoria is more than doubtful, it can
not be denied that, in the same manner as the pollen of the flowers of the
pine is observed every year to fall from the atmosphere, minute infusorial
animalcules may likewise be retained for a time in the strata of the air,
after  having been passively borne up by currents of aqueous vapor.*

[footnote]  *Ehrenberg, op. cit., s. xiv., p. 122 and 403.  The rapid
multiplication of microscopic organisms is, in the case of some (as, for
instance, in wheat-eels, wheel-animals, and water-bears or tardigrade
animalcules), accompanied by a remarkable tenacity of life.  They have been
seen to come to life from a state of apparent death after being dried for
twenty-eight days in a vacuum with chloride of line and sulphuric acid, and
after being exposed to a heat of 248 degrees.  See the beautiful experiments
of Doyere, in 'Mem. sur les Tardigrades et sur leur propriete de revenir a
la vie', 1842, p. 119, 129, 131, 133.  Compare, also, Ehrenberg, s. 492-496,
on the revival of animalcules that had been dried during a space of many

This circumstance merits serious attention in reconsidering the old
discussion respecting 'spontaneous generation',* and the
p 346
more so, as Ehrenberg, as I have already remarked,  has discovered that the
nebulous dust or sand which mariners often encounter in the vicinity of the
Cape Verd Islands, and even at a distance of 380 geographical miles from the
African shore, contains the remains of eighteen species of silicious-shelled
polygastric animalcules.

[footnote]  *On the supposed "primitive transformation" of organized or
unorganized matter into plants and animals, see Ehrenberg, in Poggendorf's
'Annalen der Physik', bd. xxiv., s. 1-48, and also his 'Infusionsthierchen',
s. 121, 525, and Joh. Muller, 'Physiologie des Menschen' (4te Aufl., 1844),
bd. i., s. 8-17.  It appears to me worthy of notice that one of the early
fathers of the Church, St. Augustine, in treating of the question how
islands may have been covered with new animals and plants after the flood,
shows himself in no way disinclined to adope the view of the so-called
"spontaneous generation" ('generatio aequivoca, spontanea aut primaria').
"If," says he, "animals  have not been brought to remote islands by angels,
or perhaps by inhabitants of continents addicted to the chase, they must
have been spontaneously produced upon the earth; although here the question
certainly arises, to what purpose, then, were animals of all kinds assembled
in the ark?"  "Si e terra exort" sunt (bestiae) secundum originem primam,
quando dixit Deus"  'Producat terra animam vivam!' multo clarius apparet,
non tam reparandorum animalium causa, quam figurandarum variarum gentium (?)
propter ecclesiae sacramentumin arca fuisse omnia genera, si in insulis quo
transire non possent, multa animalia terra produxit."  Augustinus, 'De
Civitate Dei', lib. xvi., cap. 7:  'Opera, ed. Monach. Ordinis S.
Benedicti', t. vii., Venet., 1732, p. 422.  Two centuries before the tiime
of the Bishop of Hippo, we find, by extracts from Trogus Pompeius, that the
'generatio primaria' was brought forward in connection with the earliest
drying up of the ancient world, and of the high table-land of Asia,
precisely in the same manner as the terraces of Paradise, in the theory of
the great Linnaeus, and in the visionary hypotheses entertained in the
eighteenth century regarding the fabled Atlantis:  "Quod si omnes quondam
terrae submersae profundo fuerunt, profecto editissilimam quamque partem
decurrentibus aquis primum detectam; humillimo autem solo eandem aquam
diutissime immoratam, et quanto prior quaeque pars terrarum siccata sit,
tanto prius animalia generare coepisse.  Porro Scythiam adeo editiorem
omnibus terris esse ut cuncta flumina ibi nata in Maeotium, tum deinde in
Ponticum et Aegyptium mare decurrant." -- Justinus, lib. ii., cap. 1.  The
erroneous supposition that the land of Scythia is an elevated table-land, is
so ancient that we meet with it most clearly expressed in Hippocrates, 'De
Aere et Aquis', cap. 6, 96, Coray.  "Scythia," says he, "coonsists of high
and naked plains, which, without being crowned with mountains, ascend higher
and higher toward the north."

Vital organisms, whose relations in space are comprised under the head of
the geography of plants and animals, may be considered either according to
the difference and relative numbers of the types (their arrangement into
genera and species), or according to the number of individuals of each
species on a given area.  In the mode of life of plants as in that of
animals, an important difference is noticed; they either exist in an
isolated state, or live in a social condition.  Those species of plants
which I have termed 'social'* uniformly cover vast extents of land.

[footnote]  *Humboldt, 'Aphorismi ex Physiologia Chemica Plantarum', in the
'Flora Fribergensis Subterranea', 1793, p. 178.

Among these we may reckon many of the marine Algae -- Cladoniae and mosses,
which extend over the desert steppes of Northern Asia -- grasses, and cacti
p 347
together like the pipes of an organ -- Avicennim and mangroves in the
tropics -- and forests of Coniferae and of birches in the plains of the
Baltic and in Siberia.  This mode of geographical distribution determines,
together with the individual form of the vegetable world, the size and type
of leaves and flowers, in fact, the principal physiognomy of the district,*
its characteracter being but little, if at all, influenced by the
ever-moving forms of animal life, which, by their beauty and diversity, so
powerfully affect the feelings of man, whether by exciting the sensations of
admiration or horror.

[footnote]  *On the physiognomy of plants, see Humboldt, 'Anischten der
Natur', bd. ii., s. 1-125.

Agricultural nations increase artificially the predominance of social
plants, and thus augment, in many parts of the temperate and northern zones,
the natural aspect of uniformity; and while their labors tend to the
extirpation of some wild plants, they likewise lead to the cultivation of
others, which follow the colonist in his most distant migration.  The
luxuriant zone of the tropics offers the strongest resistance to these
changes in the natural distribution of vegetable forms.

Observers who in short periods of time have passed over vast tracts of land,
and ascended lofty mountains, in which climates were ranged, as it were in
strata one above another, must have been early impressed by the regularity
with which vegetable forms are distributed.  The results yielded by their
observations furnished the rough materials for a science, to which no name
had as yet been given.  The same zones of regions of vegetation which, in
the sixteenth century, Cardinal Bembo, when a youth,*described on the
declivity of Aetna, were observed on Mount Ararat by Tournefort.

[footnote]  *Aetna Dialogus.'  'Opuscula', Basil., 1556, p. 53, 54.  A very
beautiful geography of the plants of Mount AEtna has recently been published
by Philippi.  See 'Linnaea', 1832, s. 733.

He ingeniously compared the Alpine flora with the flora of plains situated
in different latitudes, and was the first to observe the influence exercised
in mountainous regions, on the distribution of plants by the elevation of
the ground above the level of the sea, and by the distance from the poles in
flat countries.  Menzel, in an inedited work on the flora of Japan,
accidentally made use of the term 'geography of plants'; and the same
expression occurs in the fanciful but graceful work of Bernardin de St.
Pierre, 'Etudes de la Nature'.  A scientific treatment of the subject began,
however, only when the geography of plants was intimately associated with
the study of the distribution
p 348
of heat over the surface of the earth, and when the arrangement of vegetable
forms in natural families admitted of a numerical estimate being made of the
different forms which increase of decrease as we recede from the equator
toward the poles, and of  the relations in which, in diffrent parts of the
earth, each family stood with reference to the whole mass of phanerogamic
indigenous plants of the same region.  I consider it a happy circumstance
that, at the time during which I devoted my attention almost exclusively to
botanical pursuits, I was led by the aspect of the grand and strongly
characterized features of tropical scenery to direct my investigations
toward these subjects.

The study of the geographical distribution of animals, regarding which
Buffon first advanced general, and, in most instances, very correct views,
has been considerably aided in its advance by the progress made in modern
times in the geography of plants.  The curves of the isothermal lines, and
more especially those of the isochimenal lines, correspond with the limits
which are seldom passed by certain species of plants, and of animals which
do not wander far from their fixed habitation either with respect to
elevation or latitude.*

[footnote]  *[The following valuable remarks by Professor Forbes, on the
correspondence existing between the distribution of existing faunas and
floras of the British Islands, and the geological changes that have affected
their area, will be read with much interest; they have been copied, by the
author's permission, from the 'Survey Report', p. 16:
"If the view I have put forward respecting the origin of the flora of the
British mountains be true -- and every geological and botanical probability,
so far as the are is concerned, favors it -- then must we endeavour to find
some more plausible cause than any yet shown for the presence of numerous
species of plants, and of some animals, on the higher parts of Alpine ranges
in Europe and Asia, specifically identical with  animals and plants
indigenous in the regions very far north, and not found in the intermediate
lowlands.  Tournefort first remarked and Humboldt, the great organizer of
the science of natural history geography, demonstrated, that zones of
elevation on mountains correspond to parallels of latitude, the higher with
the more northern or southern, as the case might be.  It is well known that
this correspondence is recognized in the general 'facies' of the flora and
fauna, dependent on generic identities.  But when announcing and
illustrating the law that climatal zones of animal and vegetable life are
mutually repeated or represented by elevation and latitude, naturalists have
not hitherto sufficiently (if at all) distinguished between the evidence of
that law, as exhibited by 'representative species' and by 'identical'.  In
reality, the former essentially depend on the law, the latter being an
'accident' not necessarily dependent upon it, and which has hitherto not
been accounted for.  In the case of the Alpine flora of Britain, the
evidence of the activity of the law, and the influence of the accident, are
inseparable, the law being maintained by a transported flora, for the
transmission of which I have shown we can not account by an appeal to
unquestionable geological events.  In the case of the Alps and Carpathians,
and some other mountain ranges, we find the law maintained partly by a
representative flora, special in its region, i.e., by specific centers of
their own, and partly by an assemblage more or less limited in the several
ranges of identical species, these latter in several cases so numerous that
ordinary modes of transportation now in action can no more account for their
presence than they can for the presence of a Norwegian flora on the British
mountains.  Now I am prepared to maintain that the same means which
introduced a sub-Arctic (now mmountain) flora into Britain, acting at the
same epoch, originated the identity, as far as it goes, of the Alpine floras
of middle Europe and Central Asia; for, now that we know the vast area swept
by the glacial sea, including almost the whole of Central and Northern
Europe, and belted by land, since greatly uplifted, which then presented to
the water's edge those climatal lconditions for which a sub-Arctic flora --
destined to become Alpine -- was specially organized, the difficulty of
deriving such a flora from its paarent north, and of diffusing it over the
snowy hills bounding this glacial ocean, vanishes, and the presence of
identical species at such distant pooints remain no longer a mystery.
Moreover, when we consider that conditions during the epoch referred to, the
undoubted evidences of Continental observers, on the boounds of Asia by Sir
Roderick Murchison, in America by Mr. Lyell, Mr. Logan, Captain Bayfield,
and others, and that the botanical (and zoological as well) region,
essentially northern and Alpine, designated by Professor Schouw that 'of
saxifrages and mosses,' and first in his classification, exists now only on
the flanks of the great area which suffered such conditions; and that,
though similar conditions reappear, the relationship of Alpine and Arctic
vegetation in the southern hemisphere, with that in the northern, is
entirely maintained by 'representative', and not by identical species (the
general truth of my explanation of Alpine floras, including identical
species, becomes so strong, that the view proposed acquires fair claims to
be ranked as a theory, and not considered merely a convenient or bold
hypothesis."] -- Tr.

p 349
elk, for instance, lives in the Scandinavian peninsula, almost ten degrees
further north than in the interior of Siberia, where the line of equal
winter temperature is so remarkably concave.  Plants migrate in the germ;
and, in the case of many species, the seeds are furnished with organs
adapting them to be conveyed to a distace through the air.  When once they
have taken root, they become dependent on the soil and on the strata of air
surrounding them.  Animals, on the contrary, can at pleasure migrate from
the equator toward the poles; and this they can more especially doo where
the isothermal lines are much inflected, and where hot summers succeed a
great degree of winter cold.  The royal tiger, which in no respect differs
from the Bengal species, penetrates every summer into
p 350
the north of Asia as far as the latitudes of Berlin and Hamburg, a fact of
which Ehrenberg and myself have spoken in other works.*

[footnote]  *Ehrenberg, in the 'Annales des Sciences Naturelles', t. xxi.,
p. 387, 412; Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 339-342, and t. iii., p.

The grouping or association of diffrent vegetable species, to which we are
accustomed to apply the term 'Floras', do not appear to me, from what I have
observed in different portions of the earth's surface, to manifest such a
predominance of individual families as to justify us in marking the
geographical distinctions between the regions of the Umbellatae, of the
Solidaginae, of the Labiatae, or the Scitamineae.  With reference to this
subject, my views differ from those of several of my friends, who rank among
the most distinguished of the botanists of Germany.  The character of the
floras of the elevated plateaux of Mexico, New Granada, and Quito, of
European Russia, and of Northern Asia, consists, in my opinion, not so much
in the relatively larger number of the species presented by one or two
natural families, as in the more complicated relations of the coexistence of
many families, and in the relative numerical value of their species.  The
Gramineae and the Cyperaceae undoubtedly predominate in meadow lands and
stppes, as do Coniferae, Cupuliferae, and Betulineae in our northern woods;
but this predominance of certain forms is only apparent, and owing to the
aspect imparted by the social plants.  The north of Europe, and that portion
of Siberia which is situated to the north of the Altai Mountains, have no
greater right to the appellation of a region of Gramineae and Coniferae than
have the boundless llanos between the Orinoco and the mountain chain of
Caraccas, or the pine forests of Mexico.  It is the coexistence of forms
which may partially replace each other, and their relative numbers and
association, which give rise either to the general impression of luxuriance
and diversity, or of poverty and uniformity in the contemplation of the
vegetable world.

In this fragmentary sketch of the phenomena of organization, I have ascended
from the simplest cellI -- the first manifestation of life -- progressively
to higher structures.  "The
p 351
association of mucous granules constitutes a definitely-formed cytoblase,
around which a vesicular membrane forms ia closed well," this cell being
either produced from another pre-existing cell,** or being due to a cellular
formation, which, as in the case of the fermentation-fungus, is concealed in
the obscurity of some unknown chemical process.***

[footnote]  *Schleiden, 'Ueber die Entwicklungsweise der Pflanzenzellen', in
Muller's 'Archiv fur Anatomie und Physiologie', 1838, s. 137-176; also his
'Grundzuge der wissenschaftlichen Botanik', th. i., s. 191, and th. ii., s
11.  Schwann, 'Mikroscopische Untersucungen uber die Uebereinstimmung in der
Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen', 1839, s. 45, 220.
Compare also, on similar propagation, Joh. Muller 'Physiologie des
Menschen', 1840, th. ii., s. 614.

[footnote]  **Schleiden, 'Grundzuge der wissenschaftlichen Botanik', 1842,
th. i., s. 192-197.

[footnote]  ***[On cellular formation, see Henfrey's 'Outlines of Structural
and Physiological Botany', op. cit., p. 16-22.] -- Tr.

But in a work like the present we can venture on no more than an allusion to
the mysteries that involve the question of modes of origin; the geography of
animal and vegetable organisms must limit itself to the consideration of
germs already developed, of their haabitation and transplantation, either by
voluntary or involuntary migrations, their numerical relation, and their
distribution over the surface of the earth.

The general picture of nature which I have endeavored to delineate would be
incomplete if I did not venture to trace a few of the most marked features
of the human race, considered with reference to physical gradations -- to
the geographical distribution of contemporaneous types -- to the influence
exercised upon man by the forces of nature, and the reciprocal, although
weaker action which he in his turn exercises on these natural forces.
Dependent, although in a lesser degree than plants and animals, on the soil,
and on the meteorological processes of the atmosphere with which he is
surroounded -- escaping more readily from the control of natural forces, by
activity of mind and the advance of intellectual cultivation, no less than
by his wonderful capacity of adapting himself to all climates -- man every
where becomes most essentially associated with terrestrial life.  It is by
these relations that the obscure and much-contested problem of the
possibility of one common descent enters into the sphere embraced by a
general physical cosmography.  The investigation of this problem will impart
a nobler, and, if I may so express myself, more purely human interest to the
closing pages of this section of my work.

The vast domain of language, in whose varied structure we see mysteriously
reflected the destinies of nations, is most intimately associated with the
affinity of races; and what even slight differences of races may effect is
strikingly manifested in the history of the Hellenic nations in the zenith
of their intellectual cultivation.  The most important questions of the
civilization of mankind are connected with the ideas of races,
p 352
community of language, and adherence to one original direction of the
intellectual and moral faculties.

As long as attention was directed solely to the extremes in varieties of
color and of form, and to the vividness of the first impression of the
senses, the observer was naturally disposed to regard races rather as
originally different species than as mere varieties.  The permanence of
certain types* in the midst of the most hostile influences, especially of
climate, appeared to favor such a view, notwithstanding the shortness of the
interval of time from which the historical evidence was derived.

[footnote]  *Tacitus, in his speculations on the inhabitants of Britain
('Agricola', cap. ii.), distinguishes with much judgment between that which
may be owing to the local climatic relations, and that which, in the
immigrating races, may be owing to the unchangeable influence of a
hereditary and transmitted type.  "Britanniam qui mortales initio coluerunt,
 indigenae an advecti, ut inter barbaros, parum coompertum.  Habitus
corporis varii, alque ex eo argumenta; namque rutilae Caledoniam habitantium
comae, magni artus Germanicam originem adseverant.  Silu ram colorati vultus
et torti plerumque crines, et posita contra Hispania, Iberos veteres
trajecisse, easque cedes occupasse fidem faciunt:  proximi Gallis, et
similes sunt:  seu durante originis vi; seu procurrentibus in diversa
terris, positio coeli corporibus habitum dedit."  Regarding the persistency
of types of conformation in the hot and cold regions of the earth, and in
the mountainous districts of the New Continent, see my 'Relation
Historique', t. i., p. 498, 503, and t. ii., p. 572, 574.

In my opinion, however, more powerful reasons can be advanced in support of
the theory of the unity of the human race, as, for instance, in the many
intermediate gradations* in the color of the skin and in the form of the
skull, which have been made known to us in recent times by the rapid
progress of geographical knowledge -- the analogies presented by the
varieties in the species of many wild and domesticated animals -- and the
more correct observations collected regarding the limits of fecundity in

[footnote]  On the American races generally, see the magnificent work of
Samuel George Morton, entitled 'Crania Americana', 1839, p. 62, 86; and on
the skulls brought by Pentland from the highlands ot titicaca, see the
'Dublin Journal of Medical and Chemical Science', vol. v., 1834, p. 475;
also Alcide d'Orbigny, 'L'homme Americain considere sous ses rapports
Physiol. et Mor.', 1839, p. 221; and the work by Prince Maximilian of Wied,
which is well worthy of notice for the admirable ethnographical remarks in
which it abounds, entitled 'Reise in das Innere von Nordamerika' (1839).

[footnote]  **  Rudolph Wagner, 'Ueber Blendlinge und Bastarderzeugung', in
his notes to the German translation of Prichard's 'Physical History of
Mankind', vol. i., p. 138-150.

The greater number of the contrasts which were formerly supposed to exist,
have disappeared before the laborious researches of Tiedemann on the brain
of negroes and of Europeans, and the anatomical investigations
p 353
of Vrolik and Weber on the form of the pelvis.  On comparing the
dark-colored African nations, on whose physical history the admirable work
of Prichard has thrown so much light, with the races inhabiting the islands
of the South-Indian and West-Australian archipelago, and with the Papuas and
Alfourous (Haroforas, Endamenes), we see that a black skin, woolly hair, and
a negro-like cast of countenance are not necessarily connected together.*

[footnote]  *Prichard, op. cit., vol. ii., p. 324.

So long as only a small portion of the earth was known to the Western
nations, partial views necessarily predominated, and tropical heat and a
black skin consequently appeared inseparable.  "The Ethiopians," said the
ancient tragic poet Theodectes of Phaselis,* "are colored by the near
sun-god in his course with a sooty luster, and their hair is dried and
crisped with the heat of his rays."

[footnote]  *Onesicritus, in Strabo, xv., p. 690, 695, Casaub.  Welcker,
'Griechische Tragodien', abth. iii., s. 1078, conjectures that the verses of
Theodectes, cited by Strabo, are taken from a list tragedy, which probably
bore the title of "Memnon."

The campaigns of Alexander, which gave rise to so many new ideas regarding
physical geography, likewise first excited a discussion on the problematical
influence of climate on races.  "Families of animals and plants," writes one
of the greatest anatomists of the day, Johannes Muller, in his noble and
comprehensive work, 'Physiologie des Menschen', "undergo, within certain
limitations peculiar to the different races and species, various
modifications in their distribution over the surface of the earth,
propagating these variations as organic types of species.*

[footnote]  *[In illustration of this, the conclusions of Professor Edward
Forbes respecting the origin and diffusion of the British flora may be
cited.  See the 'Survey Memoir' already quoted, 'On the Connection between
the Distribution of the existing Fauna and Flora of the British Islands,
etc.', p. 64.  "1.  The flora and fauna, terrestrial and marine, of the
British islands and seas, have originated, so far as that area is concerned,
since the melocene epoch.  2.  The assemblages of animals and plants
compositing that fauna and flora did not appear in the area they now inhabit
simultaneously, but at several distinct points in time.  3.  Both the fauna
and flora of the British islands and seas are composed partly of species
which, either permanently or for a time, appeared in that area before the
glacial epoch; partly of such as inhabited it during that epoch; and in
great part of those which did not appear there until afterward, and whose
appearance on the earth was coeval with the elevation of the bed of the
glacial sea and the consequent climatal changes.  4.  The greater part of
the terrestrial animals and flowering plants now inhabiting the British
islands are members of specific centers beyond their area, and have migrated
to it over continuous land before, during, or after the glacial epoch.  5.
The climatal conditions of the area under discussion, and north, east, and
west of it, were severer during the glacial epoch, when a great part of the
space now occupied by the British isles was under water, than they are now
or were before; but there is good reason to believe that, so far from those
conditions having continued severe, or having gradually diminished in
severity southward of Britain, the cold region of the glacial epoch came
directly into contact with a region of more southern and thermal character
than that in which the most southern beds of glacial drift are now to be met
with.  6.  This state of things did not materially differ from that now
existing, under corresponding latitudes, in the North American, Atlantic,
and Arctic seas, and on their bounding shores.  7.  The Alpine floras of
Europe and Asia, so far as they are identical with the flora of the Arctic
and sub-Arctic zones of the Old World, are fragments of a flora which was
diffused from the north, either by means of transport not now in action on
the temperate coasts of Europe, or over continuous land which no longer
exists.  The deep sea fauna is in like manner a fragment of the general
glacial fauna.  8.  The floras of the islands of the Atlantic region,
between the Gulf-weed Bank and the Old World, are fragments of the Great
Mediterranean flora, anciently diffused over a land consistuted out of the
upheaval and never again subjerged bed of the (shallow) Meiocene Sea.  This
great flora, in the epoch anterior to, and probably, in part, during the
glacial period, had a greater extension northward than it now presents.  9.
The termination of the glacial epoch in Europe was marked by a recession of
an Arctic fauna and flora northward, and of a fauna and flora of the
Mediterranean type southward; and in the interspace thus produced there
appeared on land the Germanic fauna and flora, and in the sea that fauna
termed Celtic.  10.  The causes which thus preceded the appearance of a new
assemblage of organized beings were the destruction of many species of
animals, and probably also of plants, either forms of extremely local
distribution, or such as were not capable of enduring many changes of
conditions -- species, in short, with very limited capacity for horizontal
or vertical diffusion.  11.  All the changes before, during, and after the
glacial epoch appear to have been gradual, and not sudden, so that no marked
line of demarkation can be drawn between the creatures inhabiting the same
element and the same locality during two proximate periods."] -- Tr.

The different races of mankind are forms of one sole species, by the union
of two of whose members descendants are propagated.  They are not different
species of a genus, since in that case their hybrid descendants would remain
unfruitful.  But whether the human races have descended from several
primitive races of men, or from one alone, is a question that can not be
determined from experience."*

[footnote]  *Joh. Muller, 'Physiologie des Menschen', bd. ii., s. 768.

Geographical investigations regarding the ancient 'seat', the so-called
'cradle of the human race', are not devoid of a mythical
p 355
character.  "We do not know," says Wilhelm von Humboldt, in an unpublished
work 'On the Varieties of Languages and Nations', "either from history or
from authentic tradition, any period of time in which the human race has not
been divided into social groups.  Whether the gregarious condition was
original, or of subsequent occurrence, we have no historic evidence to show.
 The separate mythical relations found to exist independently of one another
in different parts of the earth, appear to refute the first hypothesis, and
concur in ascribing the generation of the whole human race to the union of
one pair.  The general prevalence of this myth has cause it to be regarded
as a traditionary record transmitted from the primitive man to his
descendants.  But this very circumstance seems rather to prove that it has
no historical foundation, but has simply arisen from an identity in the mode
of  intellectual conception, which has every where led man to adopt the same
conclusion regarding identical phenomena; in the same manner as many myths
have doubtlessly arisen, not from any historical connection existing between
them, but rather from an identity in human thought and imagination.  Another
evidence in favor of the purely mythical nature of this belief is afforded
by the fact that the first origin of mankind -- a phenomenon which is wholly
beyond the sphere of experience -- is explained in perfect conformity with
existing views, being considered on the principle of the colonization of
some desert island or remote mountainous valley at a period when mankind had
already existed for thousands of years.  It is in vain that we direct our
thoughts to the solution of the great problem of the first origin, since man
is too intimately associated with his own race and with the relations of
time to conceive of the existence of an individual independently of a
preceding generation and age.  A solution of those difficult  questions,
which can not be determined by inductive reasoning or by experience --
whether the belief in this presumed traditional condition be actually based
on historical evidence, or whether mankind inhabited the earth in gregarious
associations from the origin of the race -- can not, therefore, be
determined from philological data, and yet its elucidation ought not to be
sought from other sources."

The distribution of mankind is therefore only a distribution into
'varieties', which are commonly designated by the somewhat indefinite term
'races'.  As in the vegetable kingdom, and in the natural history of birds
and fishes, a classification into many small families is based on a surer
foundation than
p 356
where large sections are separated into a few but large divisions; so it
also appears to me, that in the determination of races a preference should
be given to the establishment of small families of nations.  Whether we
adopt the old classification of my master, Blumenbach, and admit 'five'
races (the Caucasian, Mongolian, American, Ethiopian, and Malayan), or that
of Prichard, into 'seven races'* (the Iranian, Turanian, American,
Hottentots and Bushmen, Negroes, Papuas, and Alfourons), we fail to
recognize any typical sharpness of definition, or any general or
well-established principle in the division of these groups.

[footnote]  *Prichard, op. cit., vol. i., p. 247.

The extremes of form and color are certainly separated, but without regard
to the races, which can not be included in any of these classes, and which
have been alternately termed Scythian and Allophyllic.  Iranian is certainly
a less objectionable term for the European nations than Caucasian; but it
may be maintained generally that geographical denominations are very vague
when used to express the points of departure of races, more especially where
the country which has given its name to the race, as, for instance, Turan
(Mawerannahr), has been inhabited at different periods* by Indo-Germanic and
Finnish, and not by Mongolian tribes.

[footnote]  *The late arrival of the Turkish and Mongolian tribes on the
Oxus and on the Kirghis Steppes is opposed to the hypothesis of Niebuhr,
according to which the Scythians of Herodotus and Hippocrates were
Mongolians.  It seems far more probable that the Scythians (Scoloti) should
be referred to the Indo-Germanic Massagetae (Alani).  The Mongolian, true
Tartars (the latter term was afterward falsely given to purely Turkish
tribes in Russia and Siberia), were settled, at that period, far in the
eastern part of Asia.  See my 'Asie Centrale', t. i., p. 239, 400; 'Examen
Critique de l'Histoire de la Geogr.', th. ii., p. 320.  A distinguished
philologist, Professor Buschmann, calls attention to the circumstance that
the poet Firdousi, in his half-mythical prefatory remarks in the
'Schahnameh', mentions "a fortress of the Alani" on the sea-shore, in which
Selm took refuge, this prince being the eldest son of the King Feridun, who
in all probability lived two hundred years before Cyrus.  The Kirghis of the
Scythian steppe were originally a Finnish tribe; their three hordes probably
constitute in the present day the most numerous nomadic nation, and their
tribe dwelt, in the sixteenth century, in the same steppe in which I have
myself seen them.  The Byzantine Menander (p. 380-382, ed. Nieb.) expressly
states that the Chacan of the Turks (Thu-Khiu), in 569, made a present of a
Kirghis slave to Zemarchus, the embassador of ustinish II.; he terms her a
[Greek word]; and we find in Abulgasi ('Historia Mongolorum et Tatarorum')
that the Kirghis are called Kirkiz.  Similarity of manners, where the nature
of the country determines the principal characteristics, is a very uncertain
evidence of identity of race.  The life of the steppes produces among the
Turks (Ti Tukiu), the Baschkirs (Fins), the Kirghis, the Torgodi and
Dsungari (Mongolians), the same habits of nomadic life, and the same use of
felt tents, carried on wagons and pitched among herds of cattle.

p 357
Languages, as intellectual creations of man, and as closely interwoven with
the development of mind, are, independently of the 'national' form which
they exhibit, of the greatest importance in the recognition of similarities
or differences in races.  This importance is especially owing to the clew
which a community of descent affords in treading that mysterious labyrinth
in which the connection of physical powers and intellectual forces manifests
itself in a thousand different forms.  The brilliant progress made within
the last half century, in Germany, in philosophical philology, has greatly
facilitated our investigations into the 'national' character* of languages
and the influence exercised by descent.

[footnote]  *Wilhelm von Humboldt, 'Ueber die Verschiedenheit der
menschlichen Sprachbaues', in his great work 'Ueber die Kawi-Sprache auf der