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80

Dobell's Travels in China and Siberia. [March,

1831.) Dobeli

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and precious stones, as well as a fine grain country. The neighbourhood of Irkutsk is fertile and prolific, and the population increasing. The climate is the mildest of Siberia, the thermometer of Reaumur seldom exceeding 30° to 34o of cold, and that but for short intervals.

On the 25th of November, having taken leave of his hospitable acquaintances, Mr. Dobell left Irkutsk on his journey towards St. Petersburg. He had fresh occasion to notice the kindness and simplicity of the people, which his subsequent visits to the country tended to confirm. On one occasion, at the village of Krasnoyesk, in this province, he took, at the recommendation of the governor, instead of the usual Cossack guides, two soldiers, one a grenadier of the guards of the regiment of Moscow, and the other of the Semenofsky, who, having been allowed a certain time to go and see their friends in Siberia, from whom they had been absent eleven years, were anxious to return to St. Petersburg, and had not money to hire a conveyance.

“They had travelled from Russia on foot, near five thousand versts, to see their relations. The elder of the two had a wife and two children. He related to me that when he returned to his family, his wife, who knew him immediately, was so frightened that she fell into a swoon ; and it was nearly an hour before she recovered her senses. His parting with his wife and children again affected us exceedingly; but he seemed to bear it with firmness, and said, 'God bless you, put your trust in God : I shall return to you.' Both those men, but particularly the married one, were the most faithful, obedient, well-behaved men I ever saw, and proved of infinite service to me on the road, as I travelled not with the post-horses, but with those of the common peasants. This gives me an opportunity of expatiating again on the moral and religious character of the Siberians, as well as their intelligence, generosity, and hospitality. I found on the road, even amongst the peasants, a sympathy, a kindness and attention to the wants of my family and myself, and a disinterestedness, that I have no where else experienced. Many times it occurred that we lodged in a house for the night, were furnished with bread, milk, cream, and a supper for four servants, and I had a dif. ficulty to make the man of the house accept of a couple of roubles. The de. mand was fifty to seventy kopeks; and sometimes payment was refused altogether. I met a carrier who was conveying goods from Tumen to Tomsk, a distance of about one thousand five hundred versts, for two and a half roubles per pood ! On questioning him, how he could possibly afford to take merchandise at so cheap a rate, he said, "the people of my country are kind and hospitable. I live about Tomsk, so that I must return thither; and I get a man and a horse found a whole day for fifteen kopeks.' The grenadier also assured me that the only expense his journey on foot to see his family had cost him, was about twen. ty-five roubles; and those were spent between St. Petersburg and Ecatherineburg: After getting fairly into Siberia,' said he, no one would ever receive a kopek from me for either food or lodging."

After we got into Russin, and began to suffer certain impositions which are put upon travellers on the great roads in every country, he would often exclaim,

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number of handsome houses, with a pleasant though small society. After leaving it, the traveller passes the vast and fertile plain of Baraba, where he is whirled along at the rate of two hundred and seventy versts a day.

The first place of importance which he reaches after crossing it, is Tobolsk, the chief town of the province of that name, and formerly of Siberia. Its latitude is 55° 11' 14", and its longitude 37° 46' 14" east from St. Petersburg, from which, and from Irkutsk, it is distant three thousand versts. Fourteen years ago its population amounted to thirty thousand inhabitants, since when it has in all probability very much increased. Its manufactories are numerous; its society is agreeable, and gives evidence of the same hospitality which is witnessed so generally and so gratefully by the traveller, in those remote regions ; but has it not in its very name a charm to the reader who peruses an account of it, in its connexion with those incidents, fictitious or true, which have been formed into one of the most simple, beautiful, and touching tales, that have ever flowed from the imagination or the heart?

From Tobolsk, Mr. Dobell passed rapidly through the surrounding district of the same name, visited Ecatherineburg, where he admired, so far beyond the ordinary limits of the arts, works in marble, agate, and precious stones, which would have done honour to Italian artists; and arriving at the geographical boundary that divides Siberia from Russia, closes the narrative of his travels, which we would willingly have seen continued to the gates of the imperial capital of the north.

" I assure the reader,” he says at the close of his truly interesting account, "that in my humble attempt to describe what I have seen and experienced, I have been governed by no partial motives whatever. On the contrary, I have laboured to represent every object faithfully as it has affected my senses. I am, however, conscious at the same time, that it requires an abler pen than mine to delineate adequately the sublime and majestic works of nature in the regions have been describing, and to portray them to the imagination in all their simplicity, beauty, and grandeur. Siberia does not possess the climate of Italy, nor the luxurious productions of India ; but she possesses a fertile soil, a climate much better than is generally believed, and natural resources of the highest value; and she presents to the traveller such a magnificent picture of natural objects, as is no where to be equalled except on the immense continent of America. There is no longer any doubt but the greater part of her territory is susceptible of high cultivation, having a strong fertile soil, covered with superb forests, and intersected by fine rivers, or watered by numerous lakes, many of which may fairly be called seas.

“The race of men produced there, are uncommonly tall, stout, and robust; certainly the best looking people I have ever seen, particularly those of the Western parts. My readers will now, I am sure, agree with me, that this

coun: try, hitherto considered the Ultima Thule, or the finis mundi, has been highly gifted by its Creator, and only wants population and improvement to render it the most valuable portion of his Imperial Majesty's dominions.”

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ART. IV.-Précis de la Geographie Universelle ou Descrip

tion de toutes les parties du Monde, sur un plan Nouveau D'après les grandes divisions Naturelles du Globe, 8c. Par MALTE-BRUN : Bruxelles, 1829.

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maintained, and by attention?

Mathematical show us that wer Aattening at the pi

We place at the head of our article, which we mean to devote to Physical Geography, the title of the latest edition that we have seen of the great work of Malte-Brun. This, which has already become well known to our American public in translation, has received some additions from its Belgian editors, but has not been fully brought up to the present state of Science, nor does it contain all the new discoveries which have been made in that part, namely, physical geography, to which our attention is more immediately directed. We shall, however, endeavour to supply these deficiencies so far as lies in our power.

Physical geography stands in immediate connexion with subjects which have already been presented to the readers of this journal, namely with Celestial Mechanics, * and with the Phenomena of our Atmosphere.f It shall be our endeavour to proceed from the facts laid down in the first of the two articles to which we have referred, to the more particular consideration of the state, the structure, and the condition of the globe we inhabit.

The earth is a planet of the solar system, the third in distance from the sun, revolving upon its own axis, and around that central body attended by a satellite; circumstances which affect in a most important manner the phenomena that are observed upon its surface. Composed of material substances that mutually attract each other, each particle of which has a greater or less centrifugal force in proportion to its distance from the axis of rotation, it has a figure that is consistent with a state of equilibrium under the joint action of these two forces, and which is such as would have been assumed by a fluid body actuated by them. The figure that fulfils these conditions is an oblate spheroid, the axis of the generating ellipse coinciding with the polar diameter of the body. Had the earth a figure absolutely spherical, or less Aattened than is consistent with the conditions of equilibrium, the ocean, by which so large a part of its surface is covered,

that in the hypott and infinite rarity than riv; while, or did a cavity exi its Actualme: riation in the len ferent latitudes, a motions, show us Tip nor less than spheroid, whose pa tion of 299 to 300,

Astronomers ha from the vertical,

projecting mass bulk alone is knov

of the latter may Even compara

under such circui mutual action can

ing attraction

at either pole, leaving the equatorial regions dry. But did its figure fulfil the conditions of equilibrium, the fluid mass would tend to distribute itself equally over the whole surface, unless prevented by irregularities in the solid mass. The last is the actual state of things; the ocean occupies a bed formed of cavities, lying below the mean surface of the spheroid, and the land presents to us those asperities and elevations, which rise, although to a comparatively small height, above the general level.

Was then the earth originally in a fluid state, and has it assumed its present form under the strict action of mechanical laws, on a body of that class? are the bed of the ocean and the continents merely crusts formed upon the surface of a liquid globe ? Does the interior still remain liquid, or has the induration proceeded until the whole internal mass has become solid? Nay, may not the interior be hollow, as we have recently seen gravely maintained, and heard sage legislatures recommend to the public attention ?

Mathematical investigations of incontrovertible evidence, show us that were the earth of equal density throughout, the fattening at the poles would be th of the equatorial diameter ; that in the hypothetical case of infinite density at the centre, and infinite rarity at the surface, the flattening would be no more than s; while, were the surface more dense than the interior, or did a cavity exist within, the oblateness must be greater than 1. Actual measurements of portions of the surface, the variation in the length of the pendulum which beats seconds in different latitudes, and the effect of the earth's figure on the lunar motions, show us that the earth cannot be flattened more than is, nor less than ziz, or may, at a mean, be considered as a spheroid, whose polar and equatorial diameters are in the relation of 299 to 300.

Astronomers have ascertained the deflection of plumb lines from the vertical, by the action of mountains. The attraction of a projecting mass of known bulk and density, with one whose bulk alone is known, is thus determined, and hence the density of the latter may be calculated.

Even comparatively small masses of matter may be placed under such circumstances at the surface of the earth, that their mutual action can be observed uninfluenced by the preponderating attraction of the earth, and thus a new means of comparison obtained.

The pendulum whose vibrations ought to vary according to a definite law, as we recede from the surface of the earth, has that law affected by the elevated ground on which it is placed, and here again a comparison may be instituted between the general and local attractions.

All these modes of investigation concur in, and confirm the

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86
Physical Geography.

[March, force of mutual attraction; the consideration thus caused would have produced the state of intense heat that is now kept up within by pressure ; and the conducting power of the bodies would have propagated the heat nearly equal throughout the mass. The surface would then have existed in a liquid state as well as that beneath. But as the radiation from the surface of a heated body is in exact proportion to its temperature, this cause of cooling would have been intense, and a crust must soon have formed upon the outer surface ; this crust would have increased in thickness so long as the heat thrown off by radiation exceeded that received from the sun. When this state of equilibrium was finally attained, all the great phenomena which a body thus heated could exhibit, would cease, and the subsequent changes would become due only to forces such as we now see acting upon the surface, or would be the completion of actions commenced during the previous state.

We know, from astronomical investigations, that this state of equilibrium has existed for upwards of twenty centuries, while analogy would lead us to infer that it must have been attained at no long period after the last great catastrophe to which our planet was subjected.

Let us now see whether the fact of the interior of the globe being more intensely heated than its surface, can be inferred in any other manner than from the course of reasoning whose principles are here cited. The feeble power of man, feeble at least compared to the size of the globe he inhabits, has been able to penetrate to but small depths in its outer shell, but even at these small depths, an increase of temperature has been remarked, and so frequently and carefully observed, as to leave no doubt of its being a general law. This increase, too, appears exactly consistent with that which it might be inferred ought to take place. But we, even to the present day, occasionally see the igneous fluid from beneath forced up to the surface, and spreading from volcanic craters over great regions. Observation shows us that at remote epochs such phenomena were much more frequent than at present. We want no more positive proofs that the interior of the earth is still intensely heated, and that the bed of the ocean and the solid land are mere crusts formed upon the surface of a mass in a state analogous to that of igneous fusion.

Were the surface, as we have inferred it must have been, ever itoolt intensely heated, the volatile and gaseous matters which

rise until the equil
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perature is

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