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Elizabeth-town, (N. J.,) 1837.
'And if he love her not, oh! then give pity
THERE is revel loud in the castle walls,
Glow in a light as the blaze of noon.
Like the blonden cloud that the moon shines through;
THERE's a lowly and tranquil cottage home,
H. L. B.
GEOLOGY AND MINERALOGY, CONSIDERED WITH REFERENCE TO NATURAL THEOLOGY. By the Rev. WILLIAM BUCKLAND, D.D. In two volumes, Svo. Philadelphia: CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD. New-York: WILEY AND PUTNAM, and G. AND C. CARVILL AND COMPANY.
THIS is one of the series commonly known as the Bridgewater Treatises, from the munificent bequest of the earl of that name, left by the testator to be paid to the person or persons selected by the President of the Royal Society, who should write a work upon the power, wisdom, and goodness of GOD, as manifested in the Creation. The subject being thought too vast and varied to admit of being treated successfully by any one individual, it was subdivided into eight parts, and that portion which gives the title to the work before us was assigned to the Rev. WILLIAM BUCKLAND, a gentleman already distinguished by his scientific researches, his lectures at Oxford, and his ingenious and original views with regard to the geological structure of the earth, and the causes of the many changes which it has undergone during the lapse of past ages. The work under notice is so voluminous, and the matters treated of so various, that our limits will scarcely allow of even an outline of it. As the importance of the subject, however, must be apparent to all, we will make the attempt.
Before entering upon the matters especially considered by Dr. Buckland, it may be well to explain to the reader the nebulous theory, as it is called, of La Place, which is the result of the labors of that great astronomer, and which the author seems to think the most resonable yet devised. At some very remote period of time, then, La Place supposes that the solar atmosphere extended beyond the orbit of the most distant planet. In this state, it resembled one of these rebulæ, described by Herschel, many of which may be faintly seen with the naked eye, in a clear night, composed of a bright nucleus, surrounded by nebulosity, which by gradual condensation becomes a star. Let us suppose such a condensation, which must be very gradual, to take place in the primitive solar atmosphere. The laws of dynamics show, that as the condensation proceeds, the sun's rotation will be accelerated, and the centrifugal force, at the verge of the atmosphere, increased, and the limits which depend upon the magnitude of this centrifugal force contracted.
'In this manner,' to quote the words of an ingenious writer, ' as the condensation proceeds, zones of vapor will be successfully abandoned, which, by their condensation, and the mutual attraction of their particles, will form so many concentric rings of vapor, circulating round the sun. But the regularity that this formation requires, in the arrangement of the particles of the zone, and in their cooling, must have made this phenomenon extremely rare. Accordingly, we see but one instance of it in the solar system that of the rings which circulate around Saturn. In most cases, each ring of vapors would divide into several masses, which would continue to circulate around the sun. Mechanical considerations show, that these masses would assume a spheroidal form, with a motion of rotation in the same direction as that of revolution. The formation of the planets being conceived to take place in this manner, we may
easily imagine that an ulterior condensation has produced, in a similar way, the satellites revolving round the planets.'
The above is La Place's theory of the formation of the solar system. Dr. Buckland begins where the French philosopher ends, and supposes the earth, when first it assumed a spheroidal form, to have been an incandescent mass, in a semi-fluid state, encircled with a dense atmosphere of vapor, consisting mostly of steam. In process of time, as the surface began to cool, from the radiation of heat into space, an external crust gradually formed, composed of oxydated metals and metalloids, constituting rocks of the granite series, around a nucleus of melted matter, such as now forms the compact lava. That crystallization can be produced by the agency of heat, we know, from the researches of Professor Kersten, who found crystals of felspar on the walls of a furnace where copper ore had been melted; which discovery proves the igneous origin of the crystalline rocks. By degrees, as the earth cooled, the surrounding vapor became condensed, and was converted into water, which seeking its own level, took the shape of oceans and seas. Thither the first detritus of the dry lands would naturally be carried, and would have formed immense beds of mud, sand, and gravel, at the bottom of the seas, had not other forces been employed to raise them into dry land. These forces must have been the expansive powers of steam, which caused the elevation of the primitive rocks to the tops of the highest mountains, and which are still exerted in producing the phenomena of volcanoes. These convulsions at the present day are very reasonably accounted for, by supposing fissures to have been made, during the process of cooling, in the external crust of the earth, which would let the waters of the ocean pass through and come in contact with the great mass of melted matter beneath. The immense force of the elastic vapor thus suddenly generated, would be sufficient to lift the bed of the ocean far above its surface, and change its lowest depths to the greatest elevations. This explains satisfactorily the phenomenon of marine shells on lofty mountains, and accounts for the various degrees of inclination of the strata of rocks, which give evidence of the great force of the internal power that has upheaved them from their primitive horizontal position. It is to the agency of this power, also, that we are to attribute the immense repositories of coal, which, in the form of dense, luxuriant forests, flourished on the earth, until, overwhelmed by masses of earth and rock, it was converted into a mine of wealth and comfort to man, to be discovered after the lapse of ages.
We have thus far confined ourselves to the changes which inorganic matter may be supposed to have undergone, since the formation of the earth. We now come to speak of the systems of organic life which are shown to have existed, by their fossil remains. When the earth had cooled sufficiently to permit the condensation of the surrounding vapor into water, and as soon as this became reduced in temperature to a tepid state, we can conceive of the existence of the Mollusca, which were the first organized beings of whose being we have any evidence. We find many and various forms of these, mixed with numerous remains of articulated and radiated animals, in the lowest and most ancient strata that contain any traces of organic life. This is in strict accordance with what might well be supposed, since animals of the lowest order, and simplest formation, would naturally precede those of a higher grade, and more complex structure. Next in order, are the fishes and the amphibious animals of the Saurian family, which made them their food.
During the ages which the author significantly terms the age of reptiles,' none of the more perfect Mammalia had begun to appear; but the most formidable inhabitants, both of land and water, were crocodiles and lizards, of various forms, and often of gigantic size-which are embraced under the general appellation of Saurians, fitted to endure the turbulence and continual convulsions of the troubled surface of our new world. 54
These are remarkable for their capacious jaws, armed with rows of teeth, and their flippers, or paddles, resembling those of a turtle, which gave them great speed in the water, and enabled them to wage a devastating war against their finny prey. Among these, geologists rank a singular animal, called the Pterodactyle, an extinct genus of the family of Saurians, adapted, by a peculiarity of structure, to fly in the air; which Cuvier considers the most extraordinary of the animals that have come under his view. Imagine a large lizard, with wings, and we may have a faint idea of the appearance of this remarkable animal. The earth, at the period when the Saurians most abounded, was probably for the greater part a marsh, with islands here and there, and covered with rank, luxuriant vegetation. When the great convulsions which so much changed its external appearance, took place, the Saurians, being no longer needed, became extinct, and were buried among the upheaving strata.
Next to the Saurians, we find the fossil remains of more perfect animals, occupying a yet higher rank in the scale of being. Among them the Dinotherium, the largest of terrestrial Mammalia, and the Megatherium, are foremost in importance. These immense animals have deposited their gigantic frames in every quarter of the globe; since hardly a museum or repository of the sciences, throughout the world, is without some fragment of their skeletons. They are supposed to have immediately preceded man, in the epoch of their existence, and, from the structure of their teeth and feet, subsisted upon roots and shrubs. When the earth was untenanted by man, they were enabled to find subsistence in the abundant vegetation which covered its surface; but as soon as the human race began to occupy it, they seem to have been withdrawn by a wise Providence, as being no longer a useful link in the chain of animal being.
The author has a very interesting chapter to show that the appointment of death, by the agency of carnivorous animals, is a dispensation of divine benevolence; and we think he supports his position by weighty arguments. In another chapter, he shows incontestably, that had it not been for the agency of subterranean heat, the earth would have been one unvaried mass of granite and lava, and that, bound around as it would have been with concentric coverings, like an onion, it would have been impossible ever to have reached the internal treasures of limestone, coal, salt, and the metals, which contribute so much to the comfort of civilized life.
A long chapter on the consistency of geological discoveries with the Mosaic account of the creation, is at the head of this work. We do not profess to be able to criticize the doctor's arguments; but we must say that they seem to us Procrustean and refined, to an extreme. He closes with a chapter on the geological proof of a Deity, which alone is well worth the price of the work. Toward the close, he observes: ''If I understand geology aright,' says Professor HITCHCOCK, (a correspondent of this Magazine, whom our author frequently quotes, with high approbation,) it only enlarges our conception of the Deity; and when men shall cease to regard it with jealousy and narrow-minded prejudices, they will find that it opens fields of research and contemplation as wide and as grand as astronomy itself.' And Dr. Buckland adds, that the result of his researches has been to fix more steadily, and to exalt more highly, the conviction of the immensity of the CREATOR's might, majesty, wisdom, goodness, and sustaining providence, and to penetrate him with a profound and sensible perception of the high veneration man's intellect owes to GOD. In conclusion, we would remark, that we consider this treatise as one of the most convincing and powerful efforts of reason we have ever read, and as such recommend it to our readers. The plates which fill the second volume are exceedingly well executed, and the typography of the work is equally creditable to the publishers.
NICK OF THE WOODS, OR THE JIBBENAINOSAY! A Tale of Kentucky. By the Author of 'Calavar,' 'The Infidel,' etc. In two volumes. 12mo. Philadelphia: CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD. New-York: WILEY AND PUTNAM.
THE author of 'Calavar' has won new laurels in this work, which it is no slight praise to say, is a decided improvement upon the best of his previous efforts. The scene is laid in Kentucky, at the time of its earliest settlement; and the principal personages, as will readily be supposed, are brought into frequent contact with the belligerent 'abbregynes,' as Roaring Ralph would term them, who then inhabited that primeval and pleasant region. Of the two principal characters - for such we must consider Bloody Nathan and Roaring Ralph — we can scarcely speak in too exalted terms. No creation of any modern American novelist can lay claim to the originality, the strictly sui generis qualities, of the Quaker of the Woods; while Ralph Stackpole, as a Kentucky backwoods hero-a 'ring-tailed roarer' in every sensestands equally unrivalled.
The conception of the character of 'Bloody Nathan' is a bold one, but throughout the volumes the execution is every way successful. His whole career is one of intense interest; and when, in the developments at its close, which have been adroitly hidden from the impatient reader, we lose sight of him, it is with a feeling of deep regret.
Roaring Ralph, the mal àppropos, the horse-stealer, the brave, swaggering Stackpole, will convulse the sides of every reader. He is himself alone- ' tarnal death to him, if he is n't;' and although sorely pressed for room, we must afford the reader a slight touch of his quality. He is here just liberated from an animated gallowsto which he had been noosed, in pursuance of a decision of Judge Lynch-by the hero, at the intercession of the heroine:
"Cut the tug, the buffalo-tug!' shouted the culprit, thrusting his arms as far from his back as he could, and displaying the thong of bison-skin, which his struggles had almost buried in his flesh. A single touch of the steel, rewarded by such a yell of transport as was never before heard in those savage retreats, sufficed to sever the bond; and Stackpole, leaping on the earth, began to testify his joy in modes as novel as they were frantic. His first act was to fling his arms round the neck of his steed, which he hugged and kissed with the most rapturous affection, doubtless in requital of the docility it had shown when docility was so necessary to its rider's life; his second, to leap half a dozen times into the air, feeling his neck all the time, and uttering the most singular and vociferous cries, as if to make double trial of the condition of his wind-pipe; his third, to bawl aloud, directing the important question to the soldier, 'How many days has it been since they hanged me? War it to-day, or yesterday, or the day before? or war it a whole year ago? For may I be next hung to the horn of a buffalo, instead of the limb of a beech-tree, if I did n't feel as if I had been squeaking thar ever since the beginning of creation! Cock-a-doodle-doo! him that ar'nt born to be hanged, won't be hanged, no-how! Then running to Edith, who sat watching his proceedings with silent amazement, he flung himself on his knees, seized the hem of her riding-habit, which he kissed with the fervor of an adorer, exclaiming with a vehement sincerity, that made the whole action still more strangely ludicrous, 'Oh! you splendiferous creatur! you anngeliferous anngel! here am I, Ralph Stackpole the Screamer, that can whip all Kentucky, white, black, mixed, and Injun; and I'm the man to go with you to the ends of the 'arth, to fight, die, work, beg, and steal hosses for you! I am, and you may make a little dog of me; you may, or a niggur, or a hoss, or a door-post, or a back-log, or a dinner, 'tarnal death to me but you may eat me! I'm the man to feel a favor, partickelarly when it comes to helping me out of a halter; and so jist say the word who I shall lick to begin on; for I'm your slave jist as much as that niggur, to go with you, as I said afore, to the ends of the 'arth, and the length of Kentucky over!'
"Away with you, you scoundrel and jackanapes,' said Roland, for to this ardent expression of gratitude Edith was herself too much frightened to reply.
Strannger!' cried the offended horse-thief, you cut the tug, and you cut the halter; and so, though you did it only on hard axing, I'd take as many hard words of you as you can pick ont of a dictionary- I will, 'tarnal death to me. But as for madam thar, the anngel, she saved my life, and I go my death in her sarvice; and now 's the time to show sarvice, for thar 's danger abroad in the forest.'