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from the equatorial to the polar lands, or pursues its prey through the pathless air!
Man, in the early stages of his existence, is drawn by an instinctive power to observe and admire nature. The love of it, too, glows in the breast of every child. We have never, indeed, witnessed the actions of men in the infancy of society, and therefore cannot estimate the influence exercised upon them by external objects; for the savages whom the European, wandering over the globe in quest of gold or knowledge, finds in the deserts or in the remote isles of the ocean, are evidently degraded beings who have degenerated from a nobler stock. But the history and traditions of most of the tribes with which we are acquainted, and especially of those inhabiting the American continent, show that at some remote period they must have possessed more knowledge than they exhibited at our first acquaintance with them. Revelation, too, assures us that man was made perfect; and philosophy has not succeeded in forming a theory to account for the physical or moral diversities exhibited by our race, approaching in consistency to that which may be drawn from the pages of the Sacred Writings.
"Man," says Cuvier, "who was cast feeble and naked on the surface of the globe, seemed created for inevitable destruction. Evils assailed him on all sides; the remedies remained concealed from him, but he had been endowed with genius for discovering them. The first savages gathered in the woods some nutritious fruits, some wholesome roots, and thus satisfied their more urgent wants. The first shepherds perceived that the stars follow
a regular course, and were directed by them in their journeys over the plains of the desert. Such was the origin of the mathematical and physical sciences.
"When the genius of man had discovered that it could combat Nature by her own means, it no longer rested; it watched her incessantly, and continually wrested from her new conquests, each marked by some improvement in his condition. Then succeeded, without interruption, meditating minds, which, being the faithful depositaries of acquired knowledge, and continually occupied with connecting and giving a vivifying unity to its parts, have led us, in less than four thousand years, from the first attempts of those pastoral observers to the profound calculations of Newton and Laplace, and to the learned classifications of Linnæus and Jussieu. This precious inheritance, always augmenting, borne from Chaldea to Egypt, from Egypt to Greece, hidden during periods of misfortune and darkness, recovered in a happier age, unequally dispersed among the nations of Europe, has been every where followed by riches and power; the nations which have welcomed it have become the mistresses of the world, while those which have neglected it have fallen into feebleness and obscurity."
Had man, in his original state, been cast feeble and naked on the surface of the globe, he could not have survived a single week, with all the elements of nature combined against him. His first experiment on the tiger or the asp, even his first morsel of food, might have been fatal to him. He must have been formed perfect in knowledge; or, being formed in ignorance and feebleness, he must have been protected by a power capable of controlling
the influences of surrounding nature. But before we proceed to offer a few remarks on the origin and progress of zoological science, it seems expedient to mark the subjects to which the attention of the naturalist is directed.
If we cast our eyes around, and survey, in a comprehensive manner, the objects which exhibit themselves to our view, we may form some idea of the occupations of those individuals who devote themselves to the examination of nature. The surface of the globe presents in part a vast expanse of water bounded by the sinuosities of the shores, and in part an undulating succession of plains and mountains. It is enveloped with an aërial fluid, which extends to a considerable height, sometimes transparent, and sometimes obscured with masses of floating vapour.
The land is diversified by slopes of every degree of inclination,-extensive plains, depressions and hollows, ridges and protuberances of various forms; the highest, however, bearing a very insignificant proportion to the earth's diameter. The waters, which cover more than two-thirds of the globe, separate the land into unequal portions, dividing it into continents and islands. Tracts of elevated ground traverse these in various directions, constituting the elongated mountain-groups named chains; which, being intersected by valleys and containing the sources of numberless streams, slope towards the adjacent countries. Other portions of the surface consist of irregularly-grouped eminences, of inferior height, interspersed with corresponding valleys. Elevated platforms are sometimes met with, and the plains and slopes are not unfrequently diversified with hills. The depressed parts of mountainous
regions present great diversity of form, extent, and direction, and often exhibit basins or hollows, which are occasionally filled with water.
Descending into the plains, we find that they are seldom perfectly level, but are formed into slopes of small inclination and of various extent. The pampas of South America, for example, stretch from the base of the Andes to Buenos Ayres, over a space of 900 miles; and in Africa are vast expanses of nearly level land, where the traveller, day after day, sees the horizon preserving the same distance as he proceeds, and bounding an ocean of arid sand. Large flats are also found at great elevations above the sea, such as those of Tartary, Thibet, and Mexico.
Of the other inequalities of the land, the more remarkable are the cavities forming lakes, and the grooves occupied by the beds of rivers. The former are of all sizes, from several hundred miles in circumference down to very small dimensions, and occur in all situations,-between mountain-chains, like the Caspian,-in plains, like Onega,-and along the course of rivers, like those of Canada. The streams necessarily flow in the line which marks the greatest depression of the valleys; although, in some instances, towards their mouths, they occupy a higher level, their beds having been raised by the deposition of the debris carried down by the torrent.
The bottom of the ocean, being merely the continuation of the surface of the land, may be supposed to present inequalities of a similar nature, although, owing to the action of currents, they are probably not so distinctly marked. The transition from what is above to that which is under the water is not in general denoted by any striking phenomenon, ex
cepting the not unfrequent occurrence of long ranges of cliffs, pebbly beaches, and accumulations of sand. When the coast is low and flat, the depth of the sea in its vicinity is usually small; whilst along a rocky and abrupt shore it generally presents a depression in some measure corresponding to the height of the land. The existence of submarine chains of mountains is established by the numerous shoals and rocks which are to be considered as their summits. On these, coral reefs and islands have been gradually raised by myriads of zoophytes.
The mighty mass of waters, which is collectively termed the sea, occupies, as has been already mentioned, more than two-thirds of the surface of the globe. Its chemical composition, its tides, its currents, and all the varied phenomena which it presents, afford subjects of highly-interesting research.
The atmosphere, in like manner, which envelopes the earth, supplies, in its ever-varying aspects, its motions, its electrical phenomena, and the influence which it exercises on animal and vegetable life, an object of investigation pregnant with curious and useful knowledge.
The mysterious agency of subterranean fire has elevated great masses of rocky matter in various parts of the globe. Earthquakes have effected extensive and remarkable changes upon its surface; the waters of the ocean have alternately worn away the shores and eked them out by depositions of sand and mud; the rivers have furrowed the land, and carried the debris of the higher regions to the valleys and plains; while air and moisture have exerçised their decomposing influence upon the hardest substances. By the action of these powers the earth