« EelmineJätka »
our country for science, and to make her known and honored abroad; while it bas placed the learned editor in the very front rank of scientific men, and will erer remain a permanent monument to bis zeal and perseverance in his farorite studies. Besides communicating with the public on scientific subjects through the press, he has frequently given courses of scientific lectures to popular audiences in our cities and towns, and always with great acceptance. His easy and dignified manners bespeak the gentleman born and bred; while his happy talent at illustration, and tact in communicating knowledge, always render his lectures as pleasing as they are instructive.
In 1853, Prof. Silliman resigned his office as a Professor in Yale College, and was complimented with the title of " Professor Emeritus." He was succeeded in the department of Geology by Prof. James D. Dana, and in that of Chemistry by his son, Prof. Benjamin Silliman, Jr.' Notwithstanding his advanced years and laborious life, his vigor of mind and body remains unimpaired, (January, 1859;) and, since his retirement from active duties in college, he has continued to take a deep interest in the progress of science at home and abroad. He has also become conspicuous among American citizens for the earnestness with which he united with others in the recent movements for opposing the further extension of slavery, and showing his warm sympathies with the free settlers of Kansas.
Professor Silliman has fitly been called the “Father of American Periodical Science;" and, although others of his countrymen preceded him in the study of nature, no man probably has done so much as he to awaken and encourage students of science, to collect and diffuse the researches of American naturalists, and to arouse in all classes of the community a reepect for learning and a desire for its advancement.2
NATURE OF GEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE.
Geological Evidence is the same which is readily admitted as satisfactory in the case of historical antiquities.
When, in 1738, the workmen, in excavating a well, struck upon the theatre of Herculaneum, which had reposed for more than sixteen centuries beneath the lava of Vesuvius; when, in 1748, Pompeii was disencumbered of its volcanic ashes and cinders, and thus two buried cities were brought to light,-had history been quite silent respecting their existence, would not observers say,—and have they not all actually said,-here are the
1 Prof. Silliman, Jr. bas already shown his ability to fill the Professorship his father so long honored, by the two works recently published, -- First Principles of Chemistry, and First Principles of Physics or Natural Philosophy,—both adinirable text-books for our schools and colleges.
2 The following are the titles of most of Professor Silliman's publications:American Journal of Science, 50 vols., 1818-45: Second Series, by Silliman and Dana, still in progress; 25 vols. down to 1858: Journal of Travels in England, Holland, and Scotland, in 1805–06, 2 vols.: Travels in Canada in 1819: Henry's Elements of Chemistry, edited with notes, 3 editions: Bakewell's Geology, 3 editions, edited with notes and appendixes: Elements of Chemistry, in the order of Lectures given in Yale College, 2 vols. : Visit to Europe in 1851, 2 vols., six editions.
works of man,-his temples, his forums, his amphitheatres, his tombs, his shops of traffic and of arts, his houses, furniture, pictures, and personal ornaments; here are his streets, with their pavements and wheel-ruts worn in the solid stone, his coins, his grinding-mills, his wine, food, and medicines; here are his dungeons and stocks, with the skeletons of the prisoners chained in their awful solitudes; and here and there are the bones of a victim who, although at liberty, was overtaken by the fiery storm, while others were quietly buried in their domestic retreats. The falling cinders and ashes copied, as they fell, even the delicate outline of female forms, as well as the head and helmet of a sentinel; and, having concreted, they thus remain true volcanic casts, to be seen by remote generations, as now in the Museum of Naples.
Because the soil had formed, and grass and trees had grown, and successive generations of men had unconsciously walked, tilled the ground, or built their houses, over the entombed cities, and because they were covered by volcanic cinders, ashes, and projected stones, does any one hesitate to admit that they were once real cities; that at the time of their destruction they stood upon what was then the upper surface; that their streets once rang with the noise of business, their halls and theatres with the voice of pleasure; that in an evil time they were overwhelmed by a volcanic tempest from Vesuvius, and their name and place for more than seventeen centuries blotted out from the earth and forgotten? The tragical story is legibly perused by every observer, and all alike, whether learned or unlearned, agree in the conclusions to be drawn.
To establish all this, it is of no decisive importance that scholars have gleaned here and there a fragment from the Roman classics to show that such cities once existed, and that they were overthrown by an eruption in the year A.D. 79, which gave occasion for the letter of the younger Pliny, describing the death of his uncle, the great naturalist, while observing the volcanic phenomena.
In such cases, the coincidences of historical and other writings, and the gleanings of tradition, are indeed valuable and gratifying: they are even of great utility, not in proving the events,—for of them there is a physical record that cannot deceive-but in fixing the order and the time of the occurrences.
The nature of the catastrophe is, however, perfectly intelligible from the appearances themselves, and needs no historical confirmation. No man ever imagined that Herculaneum and Pompeii were created where we now find their ruins; no one hazards the absurd conjecture that they are a lusus naturæ; but all unita in giving an explanation consistent alike with geology, history, and coin won sense.
APPLICATION OF THE EVIDENCE-FOSSIL FISHES OF
The one hundred and sixteen species of fishes found in Mount Bolca, embedded in marly limestone and buried under lava, inform us that they were once living and active beings; before those hills were deposited, and when the waters stood over the place where, in the bottom of the sea, the fishes were entombed; the rock that contains their dry skeletons, often entirely perfect, was formed around them, doubtless in the state of a calcareous and argillaceous sediment; this calcareous stratum, being not improbably thrown up by a volcanic heave, first enclosed the fishes, suddenly and without violence. In subsequent periods, it was itself overwhelmed by a submarine eruption of molten volcanic rock, which congealed over the fish-rock, and, this being a very bad conductor of heat, preserved the entombed fossils from injury. Then, again, on the bottom of the sea, the calcareous sediment wrapped around in its soft folds another school of fishes, and again the molten rock flowed over the calcareous marl; and so on in several successions.
But this is not all. This remarkable mountain is eighty miles from the Adriatic, the nearest sea, and it rises two thousand feet in elevation above it. It is plain, then, not only that all these deposits were formed successively beneath a great sea,—for the fishes are all marine,—but the mountain, with the country to which it appertains, has been elevated by forces existing in the earth : it emerged from the surrounding waters, and, ages since, became dry land.
TIMOTHY FLINT, 1780—1840.
This early historian and scene-painter of our Western country was born in Reading, Massachusetts, in 1780, and graduated at Harvard College in 1800. After devoting two years to the study of theology, he became pastor of the Con. gregational Church in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, where he continued till 1814. His health having become impaired by too sedentary pursuits, he deemed it best to seek a milder climate, and in 1815 became a missionary in the Valley of the Mississippi. After passing a winter at Cincinnati, he journeyed through portions of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, and then took up his abode at St. Charles, Missouri, where he remained nearly three years. In 1822, he removed to New Orleans, and the next year went to Alexandria, on the Red River, where be took charge of a literary institution. Here he began to write his Recollections of Ten
Near Verona, in Italy.
Years passed in the Valley of the Mississippi, which was published in Boston in 1826, and considered then to be the most important contribution to American geography that had been made. In the following year, he published a novel, entitled Francis Berrian; or, The Mexican Patriot,—a story of romantic adventure with the Camanches, connected with the Mexican struggle for independence. This was followed, in 1828, by Arthur Clenning,—a very hazardous attempt to Frite another Robinson Crusoe. George Mason, the Young Buckwoodsman, followed, but without increasing the author's reputation. The last of bis novels was The Shoshonee Valley, published in Cincinnati in 1830, the scene of which was laid among the Indians of Oregon.
In 1832, Mr. Flint published, in Boston, Lectures upon Natural History, Geology, Chemistry, the Application of Steam, and Interesting Discoveries in the Arix. Ia 1831, be remored to Cincinnati, and became the editor of the “ Western Monthly Magazine," which he conducted with much ability, writing more or less for every number, for three years. He then removed to Louisiana, being in quite feeble health, and hoping to be benefited by the Southern climate. But he was disappointed, and in May, 1840, he resolved to try again the air of his own New England. But all was of no avail, and he expired at Reading, Massaebusetis, August 18, 1840.
Mr. Flint will always be known as one of the earliest geographers of our country, whose works, from their clear and beautiful descriptions of scenery, and from tbeir pictures of our Western wilds and prairies before they were trodden by the foot of civilized man, will always maintain a position in our early literature, and be read with interest.
At first the eye mistakes these mounds for hills; but when it catches the regularity of their breastworks and ditches, it discovers at once that they are the labors of art and of men. When the evidence of the senses convinces us that human bones moulder in these masses; when you dig about them, and bring to light domestic utensils, and are compelled to believe that the busy tide of life once flowed here; when you see at once that these races were of a very different character from the present generation, you begin to inquire if any tradition, if any the faintest records, can throw any light upon these habitations of men of another age. Is there no scope, beside these wounds, for imagination and for contemplation of the past? The men, their joys, their sorrows, their bones, are all buried together. But the grand features of nature remain. There is the beautiful prairie over which they "strutted through life's poor play.” The forests, the hills, the mounds, lift their heads in unalterable repose, and furnish the same sources of contemplation to us that they did to those generations that have passed away,
These mounds must date back to remote depths in the olden time. From the ages of the trees on them, we can trace them back six hundred years, leaving it entirely to the imagination to descend further into the depths of time beyond. And yet, after the rains, the washing, and the crumbling of so many ages, many of them are still twenty-five feet high. Some of them are spread over an extent of acres. I have seen, great and small, I should suppose, a hundred. Though diverse in position and form, they all have a uniform character. They are, for the most part, in rich soils and in conspicuous situations. Those on the Ohio are covered with very large trees. But in the prairie regions, where I have seen the greatest numbers, they are covered with tall grass, and are generally near beaches,—which indicate the former courses of the rivers, in the finest situations for present culture; and the greatest population clearly has been in those very positions where the most dense future population will be.
FASHION AND RUIN versus INDUSTRY AND INDEPENDENCE.
I cannot conceive that mere idlers, male or female, can have respect enough for themselves to be comfortable. I have no conception of a beautiful woman, or a fine man, in whose eye, in whose port, in whose whole expression, this sentiment does not stand embodied :—"I am called by my Creator to duties; I have employment on the earth; my sterner but more enduring pleasures are in discharging my duties.”
Compare the sedate expression of this sentiment in the countenance of man or woman, when it is known to stand as the index of character and the fact, with the superficial gaudiness of a simple, good-for-nothing belle, who disdains usefulness and employment, whose empire is a ball-room, and whose subjects, dandies as silly and as useless as herself. Who, of the two, has most attractions for a man of sense? The one a helpmate, a fortune in herself, who can aid to procure one if the husband has it not, who can soothe him under the loss of it, and, what is more, aid him to regain it; and the other a painted butterfly, for ornament only during the vernal and sunny months of prosperity, and then not becoming a chrysalis, an inert moth in adversity, but a croaking, repining, ill-tempered termagant, who can only recur to the days of her short-lived triumph, to embitter the misery, and poverty, and hopelessness of a husband, who, like herself, knows not to dig, and is ashamed to beg.
We are obliged to avail ourselves of severe language in application to a deep-rooted malady. We want words of power. We need energetic and stern applications. No country ever verged more rapidly towards extravagance and expense. In a young republic, like ours, it is ominous of any thing but good.
Men of thought, and virtue, and example, are called upon to look to this