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“The sedimentary formations appear, from their nature, and the regular disposition of their layers, to have been deposited in times of tranquillity. Each of these formations being characterized by a particular system of organized beings, both vegetable and animal, it is indispensable to suppose, that between the epochs of tranquillity, corresponding to the precipitation of two of these overlying formations, there must have been a great physical revolution upon the globe. We now know that these revolutions have consisted in, or at least been characterized by, the raising of a system of mountains. The two first liftingsup pointed out by M. de Beaumont, not being by any means the greatest of the four he has succeeded in classing, it will be seen that we cannot infer that the globe, in growing older, becomes less fit to experience this species of catastrophe, and that the present period of tranquillity may not be terminated like those that have preceded it, by the elevation of some immense mountain chain."
M. de Beaumont next attempted, by a fancied arrangement of zones and parallels to great circles, to classify the mountains he had not an opportunity of examining, with those in respect to which he had obtained the above satisfactory conclusions. We fear, however, that he has proceeded to theorize too speedily, and before he had obtained a sufficient number of facts. We are certain, that in respect to the great Alleghany group of the United States, which he classes with the Pyrenees and Appennines, he must be mistaken, for no formations later than the transition limestone are to be found in their vicinity. In respect to the highlands of the state of New York, and their branch of primitive rocks, which extends along the Hudson to the island of New-York, the sandstone of New-Jersey appears to continue horizontally until it reaches their bases, and no rocks appear to have been raised on the south-eastern side of the highlands, which are the easternmost of the five parallel ridges of the Alleghanies, older than the slate ; but on their north-western side the transition limestone appears to have been raised. They therefore are older than any mountains examined by M. de Beaumont, and were we to hazard a conjecture, we should class them with the Grampians of Scotland, and the mountains of Wales, in both of which slate is the only rock of the transition series that appears to have been elevated.
To complete our subject, it would be necessary that we should enter into a discussion of the manner in which the ocean is now acting, by its currents and tides, to distribute and deposit in its bed the sediment which rivers and streams are constantly hurrying into it; and that we should form some estimate, from what occurs within our reach, of the effects produced in these deposits by the vast number of organized beings that must people them, the deposits of vegetable matter, and the exuviæ of animals. Such discussion would, however, be in a considerable degree purely conjectural, and we therefore shall not enter into it. It is sufficient to say, that formations analogous to those which the elevation of the continents has exposed to our view, must be now taking place in the bed of the ocean, whence they
may be in their turn raised, to task the ingenuity of future races of reasoning beings.
Inquiries into the history of the changes which our earth has undergone, as they lead with infallible evidence to the proof of an existence of this globe at a period almost infinitely more remote than that at which man became its inhabitant, have been stigmatized as impious. The intolerant theologian, adhering with pertinacity to his own system of interpretation, fulminates anathemas against all who find in natural appearances convincing evidence, that the earth was not suddenly and by a single fiat called into existence in the exact state in which we now find it. Timid geologists have bent to the storm, and have endeavoured to reconcile natural appearances with the arbitrary interpretations that have been deduced from scripture. But neither is the inquiry itself less holy than any of those which consider natural phenomena, exhibiting in their progress convincing proofs of infinite wisdom and power in the Creator, justifying the ways of God to man; nor is any one of the results of the inquiry in the slightest degree opposed to the texts of the sacred volume. The impiety rests with the interpreter, and not with the physical inquirer. The former unwisely links to his spiritual belief an interpretation at variance with natural appearances; and the latter, if he do not inquire for himself, and believe on the evidence of the former, that the truth or falsehood of the two distinct propositions are inseparably connected, must, as he sees the one to be inconsistent, hesitate with respect to the other. Some geologists, then, may have been sceptics; but could the secrets of the heart be laid open, we cannot help believing, that those who have most earnestly endeavoured to reconcile the phenonomena we know to exist, with the interpretation of scripture, from which they appear to vary, have been at bottom the least sincere in their religious faith.
For ourselves, we see no difficulties, no discrepancies between the record of direct revelation, and the sublime passages of the book of nature. We believe that " in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth;" that he called at once into existence the whole material world; but we also believe that he then impressed matter with laws, under the action of which that material world must maintain its existence, and secure its permanence, until the same almighty power shall annihilate it. We are not of those who judge of the works of the Deity from the conditions of the works which can alone be effected by the power of man.
However perfect or complete be human mechanism, it can only move by the application of some power inherent in matter; did not an elastic spring expand itself after being coiled, VOL. IX.-NO. 17.
the chronometer would be a dead and lifeless mass ; did not fluids obey the force of gravitation, and currents in the atmosphere the expansive power of heat, the water-wheel and wind-mill would be useless ; did not water form vapour at elevated temperatures, and condense when cooled, the still more powerful agency of steam would be wanting. Not only are machines of no value unless impelled by natural agents, but they themselves are subject to rapid decay, and require perpetual attention. Such is not the case with the machinery of the universe ; its motions are perpetually varying, but yet in their variations invariable ; continually oscillating on each side of mean rates, yet never losing or gaining in intensity. Such too is the case on the surface of our globe; the seasons alternately clothe the forests with verdure, and strip them of their leaves; seed time and harvest recur with invariable precision; the whole of existing vegetables perish, and animals die and decay, yet the race is perpetuated. Shall we set bounds to the exertion of almighty power, and say, that races, that families, that species and genera, nay that whole natural kingdoms may not in their turn decay and die, after providing for the repeopling of the earth by new inhabitants ? The catastrophes of our planet are not yet at an end ; the time will and must come, as we may guess from natural appearances, and as we find predicted in scripture, when the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll, and the earth shall melt with fervent heat; and in the new system of appearances, the new heaven and earth shall succeed—the corruptible bodies that are now sown in dishonour, shall be raised in honour and incorruptible.
The present surface of our globe is to our limited views slowly changing ; to him who compares time with the immeasurable duration that has preceded and must succeed our existence, it is rapidly hastening to apparent ruin. The waters raised from the ocean, falling in greatest abundance on the land, tear and wear away the surface, and deposit it in the bed of the sea. Deltas form at the mouths of rivers by this action ; the basin of the ocean is gradually elevated, and, in addition, islands and archipelagos are raised from its bed. The surface of the sea is for the present lessening under the influence of these causes, but the time must come, unless it be prevented by some catastrophe, when the ocean must in its turn encroach upon the land, when the plains and valleys shall become bays and gulfs, or even unite in continuous expanses of water, and the greater mountains alone, diminished in bulk by continued abrasion, shall stand as islands in the vast abyss. The earth would then again be without form and void of inhabitants, as it was before the creation of man. Such, however, will not be the termination of the present order of things ; we are taught to look for this in an igneous eruption,
the source of which now slumbers almost quiescent beneath our feet.
Not only does revelation, but science, teach us that the earth must have been covered with water, and void of animate life, previous to its becoming the habitation of man. But they read their scriptures differently from us who think that this state of things was the actual beginning. There is no necessary connexion between the first verse of Genesis and the succeeding. The beginning of the existence of matter, and the state of vacuity and darkness whence the present order of things emerged, may have been, so far as the text is concerned, and were, as we know from appearances, separated from each other by unnumbered ages.
Neither is it necessary that we accept the literal meaning of the passage, and conceive the Deity speaking with human voice, and calling creation forth by audible fiat. The voice of the Deity is that unheard and silent command which nature hears and obeys throughout all his works. The pious and sincere believer sees an overruling providence preserving him in kindness when it saves him from shipwreck, or chastening him in mercy when it deprives him of friends or relations, as distinctly as if he beheld the prince of the air stayed in his furious course, or the angel of destruction taking his visible stand beside the pillow of departing life. No miracles are necessary to him who sees in the rising and setting of the sun, in the order and beauty of the universe, in the absolute perfection of its mechanical laws, in his own fearful and wonderful structure, the evidence of infinite wisdom in design, and infinite power in execution; and the examination of the structure and character of our globe, is as well calculated as any other physical study to exhibit in full and brilliant light these attributes of the Deity.
ART. V. --AUTO-BIOGRAPHY OF THIEVES.
1.- The American Trenck; or the Memoirs of Thomas Ward,
now in confinement in the Baltimore Jail, under a sentence of ten years' imprisonment for robbing the United
States Mail. Baltimore. 18mo: 1829. 2.-Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux, a Swindler and Thief,
now transported to New South Wales, for the second time,
and for life. Written by himself. London. 18mo : 1829. 3.- Memoirs of Vidocq, principal Agent of the French Po
lice, until 1827, and since, Proprietor of the Paper Manufactory at St. Maudé. Written by himself. Translated from the French. London. 4 vols. 18mo : 1829.
"ONE half of the world does not know how the other half lives :"-so says the adage, and says truly. Men of reading, however, who direct their attention to biography, and especially to auto-biography, and who combine with their reading attention to the varied pursuits of mankind, may attain tolerably correct notions of the habits, modes of reasoning, and peculiarities of others, though living in evidently different stations, and engaged in occupations the most various. In this view, the volumes above announced are valuable. They furnish a remarkably clear insight of the ways and actings of professional thieves, and of the men with whom they often become connected, police officers and jailers. But what assurance have we, it may be inquired, that they speak the truth? How can the evidence of such characters be received ? These queries must be answered by considering several particulars. In the first place, then, the verity of a narrative may be partly established by its coherence and probability. When the events related have a manifest correspondence with each other, and are such as may be credited, we necessarily attach to them a degree of belief, which we cannot extend to those of an opposite character. The evidence from this source is, however, exceedingly imperfect, since many narratives, almost entirely fictitious, appear so natural, as to impose upon the reader with all the strength of unvarnished truth. Robinson Crusoe has deceived thousands, and Damberger's Travels in Africa were not suspected to be otherwise than true, for a considerable time after their publication ; but they were at length proved to be a complete fabrication. Accordingly, in judging of doubtful works, we must resort to additional means ; one of which is a comparison of works of a similar description with each other.
When an account appears to be too wonderful for credence, we are, of course, disposed to rank the author with romance