Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

the height of the White mountains ; 291 and 375, as to the course of Connecticut river on the border of New Hampshire ; page 144 of vol. i. with 401 of vol. ij. as to the distance of Augusta in Georgia from the sea; vol i. page 116 with page 506 of vol. ij. as to the annual rise of the Mississippi; and vol. i. page 329, 2d paragraph with the third, as to the product of rye from an acre of ground. These are but a very few of the many cases of careless inaccuracies, which occur in the progress of the work.

It would be impossible, within any reasonable limits, to follow our author through every page of his work. We shall not pretend therefore to enter into a minute examination of the single facts it contains, but confine ourselves to a few general remarks upon some of its most important chapters.

The first chapter treats the boundaries of the United States. It is but a liule more than two years since this book was published, and our country already stretches beyond the limits which are here assigned to it. Our acquired territory on this side the Rocky mountains was then greater than that which belonged originally to the rest of the United States, and Florida considerably increases it. It may be made a question of political duty, whether our patriotism must expand with the extension of our territory, and require of us to look upon our French and Spanish brothers by purchase, to be as truly our fellow citizens, as the fathers who defended our soil, and the sons who have since tilled it. We are far from thinking that narrow local feelings should be cherished, but we cannot but concur in the opinion of a distinguished member of Congress, that there is great difficulty in sending out our patriotic affections beyond the Missouri and the Rocky Mountains. The natural tendency of an increasing empire to separation was counterbalanced in the new states we have formed, by their being peopled wholly from the older ones, and a community of language, manners, interests and ties, thereby preserved. This is not the case with part of Louisiana and with Florida, and on that account some apprehensions in regard to the influence they will have on the permanence of the union may be reasonably entertained. But this is not a pleasant subject of contemplation, and we pass from it to the second and third chapters, which treat of the general aspect of the country, its extent, the nature of the soil, and the lakes and rivers. The most striking feature in the face of our country is its uniform

same

ar of

terri

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

ity. Where else on the surface of the earth can a chain of mountains be found like the Apalachian, or endless, as the name implies, stretching out above 900 miles in an almost uniform elevation? What a different appearance do the Alps present in their course from the frontiers of France and Piedmont, to the eastern confines of Styria. Round Top, and the Peaks of Otter would dwindle into mole-hills by the side of Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, the Finsteraarhorn, and the Ortelspitze. We are informed also by the geologists, who have examined different parts of the chain, that a like uniformity exists in the materials of which they are formed; and that rocks of the same kind are found throughout the whole extent, at equal distances from the shores of the Atlantic. But the facts now collected cannot be sufficient to warrant so broad an inference. There must, however, have been some mighty causes, which produced so singular a character as that which is impressed upon the whole of this continent, more particularly upon the part of it which we occupy. The long chain of immense lakes and the limestone basin of such extraordinarv extent to the south-west of them, washed by the waters of the Mississippi and the Missouri, speak loudly of some great and general convulsion, and invite to a nearer and more detailed investigation, the result of which would, no doubt, afford a vast many facts of the highest importance, in the natural history of the earth. But interesting as that portion of the country may be to an inquirer into nature, in a moral and political view it is still more so. Occupying the central part of the temperate zone, its climate must be mild and salubrious, when cultivation shall be extended, and population increased, Having a great variety of temperature and an unexampled fertility of soil, it may be made to yield almost all the various products of the earth; and watered by rivers, which give it above fifty thousand miles of internal navigation, it seems destined by Providence to become the great empire of the West. And there is nothing disparaging and discouraging to the inhabitants of the Atlantic states, in this view of the advantages belonging to our western brethren. What though we have not their rich bottom lands and their boundless prairies ; we have the ocean on our borders, which is a most productive field, when rightly cultivated, and we have but to exercise that industry, ingenuity, and enterprise, which belong to our situorion, to draw out from our moral resources all the riches and powers, which their physical confer upon them.

[ocr errors]

thern

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

The fourth chapter is devoted to an account of our climate. No satisfactory reason has yet been assigned for the great difference in temperature between a given parallel of latitude in our hemisphere, and the eastern. A few facts and circumstances may be mentioned, partially explanatory of this phenomenon. We have no cold weather in winter, except during the prevalence of northerly and westerly winds, and so powerful is their influence, that we often see the thermometer changed thirty and even forty degrees by them. These winds blow very frequently during the winter, and hence our mean temperature at that season is low. It is unnecessary to remark, that the mountains, which intersect our continent, and the immense forests that cover them, are the cause of the coldness of the winds, which blow from them. Again, our atmosphere is much drier than the atmosphere of the temperate regions of Europe, consequently evaporation is greater and more rapid here than there, whereby the temperature is sensibly diminished. This circumstance adds to the coldness of the north-west winds, and accounts for the chillness of our summer mornings and evenings; the cold commencing with the evaporation of the collected dew. This is well illustrated by the process of forming ice in the East Indies, where the thermometer never falls to 32°. We are aided also in the solution of this difficulty by the fact, that the eastern side of all continents is colder than the western, and this, we have every reason to believe, is as true of ours as of others. Lewis and Clark found the winter near the mouth of Columbia river in 46° north, very mild, but rainy, which confirms the accounts before given by Capt. Cook and others in regard to it. Our annual plants show us that we have our full share of summer heat, many of which, that ripen perfectly here, can never be brought to maturity in the more temperate climates of Europe, while they, on the other hand, can cultivate many perennials, which we cannot, another proof that the difference in the climates arises from local and partial causes. If we inquire into the geographical distribution of the vine, it will present us with as great anomalies in the climates of Europe, as we have in our own. It denies its blessings, for example, to the northern provinces of France, the south part of Bavaria, to many portions of Styria, Carinthia, and the Carniole, and grants them very liberally to higher parallels in Germany and Hungary. Our mean temperature, deduced

of the

land

part ious

from that of deep wells and springs is but very imperfectly
known; the following results are given by our author.

At Rutland in Vermont, at the depth of 45 feet 44° of Fall,
Different places of Massachusetts - - - - 49
Philadelphia - - - - - - - - - - 53
Virginia - - - - - - - - - - - 57
Charleston, S. C. - - - - - - - - - 63

The three first are collected from Dr Williams' account, the two others from those of Mr Jefferson and Dr Ramsay. NIE Jefferson, in his notes on Virginia, supposes a great difference to exist between the climate of the Atlantic coast, and that of the valley of the Mississippi in favor of the mildness of the latter, which the observations of Dr Drake do not confirm ; but Dr Drake's opinion is founded wholly on the mean temperature as shown by the thermometer, which is a more uncertain guide than vegetation, upon which Mr Jefferson founds his. One other circumstance in regard to our climate deserves to be mentioned. We have more rain and fewer rainy days than in Europe. The mean there of rainy days for twenty years ili twenty different cities was 122, and but 88 in Cambridge, (Mass.) and 95 in Salem for the same time. But the mean annual' quantity of rain is greater here than there, owing 10 our rains being so much heavier. The smallest quantity in Europe given by Mr Warden is at Petersburg, which is 125 inches, and the greatest at Vienna, 44 inches. Our smallest is at Philadelphia, but 30 inches according to Dr Rush, and the greatest is at Charleston, S. C. 71% according to Dr Ramsay:

The fifth and sixth chapters of the work are devoted exclusively to an enumeration of our forest trees and quadrupeds, which would have come with rather more propriety into a natural history, than into a statistical account of the country; but they afford us valuable information on these subjects, and it is hardly reasonable to complain of an author for doing more than he promised. The chapter on the forest trees is taken from Michaux's North American Sylva. That on the quadrupeds is very long, and contains many curious facts; we have room only for a single extract.

* Among the American hunters and travellers it has been long a general opinion, that the young of the bear were produced in a shapeless state, and licked by the tongue of the inother into form and life; and Lawson, enthusiastically fond of natural history, remarks, “that no man, either Christian or Indian, had ever killed

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

a she bear with young," but since his time, Mr Brigham of Salisbury, in Connecticut, in December 1797, killed the female in her den, where he found three young ones, of regular shape, and as large as a kitten of two months old. In February 1818, the American black bear of the Menagerie of the Garden of Plants at Paris, brought forth a young one, about the size of a rat and of a grey color.' vol. i. p. 197.

A chapter on diseases concludes the first part, in which the author attempts to refute the prevalent opinion in Europe, that life is short in this country, and gives a summary view of the different medical doctrines, concerning the origin and propagation of the yellow fever, with an extract from the report made in 1817, by the Faculty of Medicine at Paris to the Minister of the Interior, respecting the contagious nature of the disease; the substance of which is, that the yellow fever is often merely sporadical and not contagious. This document is to be found in the Journal of Medicine for July 1817.

We must pass over the second part, which describes the individual states and territories, occupying the remainder of the first volume, the whole of the second and first half of the third. It is a sort of particular geography, not so well executa ed, however, as Ebeling's, not so careful in the choice of authorities, and consequently not so correct as to facts. We would recommend to the author an alteration of the following passages. In the account of Massachusetts, page 287,"sometimes the sea is frozen to a considerable distance from the coast;' page 315, six per cent. is the annual tax paid on the actual value of all ratable estate both real and personal, except wild and uncleared lands, on which the rate is two per cent.' In the account of Maine, he would do well to revise his enumeration of rivers ; and in that of New Hampshire to correct his mistakes about the White Mountains and the temperature, and change the number of senators in their state legislature from 13 to 12, and that of their slaves from few to none, and reduce the civil jurisdiction of their justices of the peace, and put a note explaining how the fishing schooners which are sometimes built at the distance of two or three miles from the sea are taken to pieces and carried thither.' If he had inquired about Vermont of any person, who has been there since Castiglioni, he would have found that their roads are not in such a state, that the usual progress of a man on foot or on horseback is not more than two miles an hour;' or if he had

New Series, No. 7.

ing 10

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »