Slike stranica

Syria, those of the Tehama range of mountains in Arabia, those in the moderately elevated meadows of Gondar, as well as those in all the European Alpine lands, Switzerland, Tyrol, Styria, as well as the inhabitants of the mountain region of Peru and Mexico, all attain to an early and considerably advanced state of civilization. Other nations have found in mountains asylums in time of danger-the Tsherkeses and Ossetes among the Caucasus, for instance, the Basques among the Pyrenees, and the Gorals among the Carpathians.

The lowlands, as soon as the water had left them enough to make them habitable, have become, from the first, the abodes of a teeming population; and there has been the same blending of races in the most ancient as in the most recently settled, in China as in Texas, and, in truth, all North America. Often these inroads of population have been a source of injury, as has been the case in the northern Siberian plains, where the Finnish tribes have made their homes, and in the waste of Sahara, where the Barbary tribes, the Bedouins, the Tibboos, and the Tuaricks have made their retreat.

On the fruitful terraces, along the middle course of rivers, the earliest fixed habitations and ripened culture have been attained. Through the traditional handing down of past results, and by the habits of peace, their inhabitants have more thoroughly subjected nature and advanced to a higher state of civilization than the dwellers in the interior, away from the rivers. It has been the same, in a great measure, with the lower course, as, for instance, in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and Bengal; and in Europe, in Lombardy, Holland, and the Netherlands, where, to the efforts to recover land from the sea, have been added fishing and commerce. On such fruitful tracts as

the mouths and middle courses of rivers water, nations could find a permanent home, and pass quickly to all liberal and refining arts and occupations. This is clear, from the instances of the eminent monarchies of the East, Meroe, Thebes, Memphis, Babylon, Nineveh, Bagdad, and Mosul. So, too, on the Indus and Ganges, in the domains of Taxila, Maghada, Benares; and later in the great empire, whose centers were Agra and Delhi. China has arrived at its highest civilization in the fertile district between its two greatest rivers. Greece and Rome are marked exceptions. Their progress they owe, not to great river basins, but to their peninsular form in the middle of the coast of a delightful sea, full of islands and surrounded by lands in a greater or less advanced state of civilization. England's peculiar maritime position has given it its wonderful vantage-ground for progress in all human culture.

In the east of Europe, the basins of rivers have exercised the same influence, to a certain extent, that has been hinted at above; and Moscow, Kiev, Cracow, and Warsaw remain the seats of a civilization which, rude as it was, owed its existence to the physical conditions of the great Sarmatian river systems. In western Europe, the less marked features of the country have contributed to the peculiar historical development of the continent. The rich deltas have become the granaries for a large part of the population, allowing industry to flow into other channels besides agriculture. The sea-faring habits of the people along the coast have broken up and done away with what is special and provincial, and have conferred a cosmopolitan manner of living upon the entire population. It was the same with the Phenicians in ancient times, with the Portuguese in the middle ages, as it has been with the English, Spanish, and Dutch in modern days. Fishing.

navigation, and trade have become permanent necessities of civilization. In the heart of continental Europe, the rivers have had a great influence on the progress of nations; the North German streams have extended their effect from the abode of the ancient Saxons along the Baltic as far as the home of the Salic Franks on the Scheldt, Seine, and Loire; the Danube, with its complex and important system of terraces and lowlands, has opened communication between South Germany and Hungary, Wallachia, and the East. The Vistula, Oder, Elbe, and Weser have connected the homes of the old Sclavic population with the Scandinavian coasts and the land of the Angles and Saxons at the neck of Denmark, to the equal advantage of both. The great terrace system of the Rhine, embracing the Odenwald, Hardt, Spessart, Taunus, Hundsrück, Eifel, and the Siebengebirg, has thrown into the most active industrial and commercial relations the whole district which it waters. It opened a way to the Romans in their conquering advances before it did to the tribes of Helvetia, Gallia, Germania, or the Lowlands: it sundered those tribes, and kept them from preying upon each other; but, in the advance of civilization, it has become one of the strongest bands to knit together the central countries of Europe.

The Danube, with its extensive terrace lands, faces the east, and has, therefore, very different relations to European history from the Rhine. It is a double-headed river, and one of its head-streams, the one which bears the name of the river proper, extends almost to the Rhine basin; while the other, the Jura, has its source in Grisons, and hard by the head-waters of the Rhine. As the Danube connects the Caspian and Black Sea basin with westerr. Europe, and the largest part of the Asiatic immigrations


have followed its course, the Danube has become the great avenue between Europe and Asia. Celts, Teutons, and Romans were mingled even before Christ, in Noricum, Vindelecia, Bavaria, and Suabia. How many tribes may have been crowded westward by these, is unknown to us. The same fate has happened to the people who settled there before Christ, and the inroads of the Huns, Goths, and other tribes of similar origin, scattered the older inhabitants over all Central Germany. We know, too, that Sclavic, Hungarian, and Turkish incursions followed, each one dispossessing wholly or in part the one which preceded it.

All great rivers and river systems have had a similar influence on the course of civilization. There is not a single type feature in the world which has not contributed its part to the advance of the human race; no one is without its place and its function.


The Configuration of the Continents.

ALL the divisions of the earth, taken together in their internal and external connections, in their mutual action and reaction, constitute the unity of the globe, and make apparent that it is a simple organism, designed and created by divine skill, and intended to be the home of a race whose culture should, in the course of centuries, unfold from the most simple beginnings to the most complex and elaborate perfection.

We have already seen that the surface of the earth is naturally divided into three typical features-highland, lowland, and the transition terraces between them. From the vertical and horizontal combination of these result the most of the geographical forms which are the subject of our study. They form what we may, for convenience, call the bas-relief of the globe.

At the creation of the earth every great continental division received (as every other organism has, regarded by itself, and not in relation to the greater whole of which it forms a part) its own special form. Each continent is like itself alone; its characteristics are not shared by any other. Each one was so planned and so formed as to have its own special function in the progress of human culture. This may be seen by reviewing the history of


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