Slike stranica

of Europe is to be compared with the complex hand of man, so far superior to the prehensile organs of lower creatures, that Buffon saw in that feature alone the manifestation of man's place among the animal kingdom.

If we look out over the earth, we see that the limbs of the continents, so to speak, the coasts, the peninsulas, and the adjacent islands, are the most favored places of all for civilization to find its true home upon. With the degree of diversity in the structure of a country, the value of its organisms advances. In this respect, Europe may be considered as the branches and foliage of a great tree, whose trunk and root are to be traced to Central Asia, Africa being a stunted side-shoot. Or, to compare the continents to a still higher class of forms, Europe may be called the Face of the Old World, out of which the soul of humanity could look more clearly into the great and promising future.

We repeat it-it is not absolute size, it is not the mass nor the weight of the material, it is the form, in its greater complexity, which determines the fate of nations and decrees the advancement of man. This gift, in its full measure, has been conferred on Europe. In its complex articulation lies still another characteristic of Europe in contradistinction to the other continents.

If in Africa the coast offers no contrast to the interior, and both remain on the same low plane of development, Asia, on the contrary, displays a perfect antagonism between its central regions and its sea-board. The territory of the Mongolians, the Tartars, and Toorkomans has always remained at the very lowest stage of civilization. The seaboard, on the other hand, has witnessed the growth of a number of isolated nations, who, without the help of mutual dependence, have arrived at a considerably high

degree of culture-the Chinese, Malays, Hindoos, Per sians, Arabians, Syrians, and Armenians. But their influence could not penetrate to the compact interior, to transform its nature, nor modify its nationalities. Individual progress in nations, however high it may be carried, can never contribute much toward any real penetration of the interior of so vast a region as Central Asia.

Europe shows in its construction and the relations to which it gives rise characteristics exactly opposite. Being far less massive, the proportion of its extremities to the undeveloped interior is much less great than in Asia. From this, it results that the central part does not prove a hinderance to civilization, viewed physically, hydrographically, or historically; it nowhere serves as a barrier, but rather as a mediator, and a means of communication between the extremities. This has given Europe a character exactly opposite to that of Asia: its North and its South are united, its East and its West; they are not like antagonistic poles, but extend to each other friendly hands. In Africa, the greater part of the interior lies absolutely without contact with and relations to the coast. In Asia, there is a much larger portion of the interior equally without connection with the sea-board, and remaining up to this day in its primitive barbarism.

Symmetry of form gains in Europe a clear advantage over mere mass. Europe, the smallest of the continents, was destined to gain precedence over all the rest, Asia included. As Asia, lying within all the zones, colossal in size, and most plentifully enriched with the gifts of nature, was fitted to be the nursery of supply for all other parts of the world without impoverishing itself; so Europe, limited in size and confined to the temperate zone, but most complex in its subdivision, having a great diversity in its ocean

inlets, as well as in its hills, valleys, plateaus, and mountains, yet, without great extremes, has been especially fitted for the reception of stranger races, and for the development of their energies and the advance of their culture. The symmetry and harmony of Europe have constituted the true home of all varieties of national character, and have adapted it to their mutual action, and to the transfer of their distinctive character to one another.

Throughout the entire center of Europe there is an intimate connection with the sea-coast and with the extremities, with the least possible disadvantages. This is accomplished by those sinuous river-courses whose analogies are to be found nowhere in the adjacent continents. The very broadest part of Russia even is intersected with large navigable rivers; and the west and center of Europe are not less richly supplied with these lines of communication, whose starting-points lie often close together, as in the case of the Danube, the Rhine, the Po, and the Rhone. How different is this from the hydrographical system of Central Asia, where the sources of the eastern rivers lie thousands of miles removed from those of the western rivers, and where the rivers of the north are separated by almost as great distances from those of the south!

To what nature has given to Europe man has largely added, seeking by means of canals and railways to make. the whole continent subject to him and auxiliary to his needs. In this way the interior districts have appropriated to themselves the advantages of the sea-coast, and the distance which it has placed between itself and Asia and Africa has only been increased. Nature first gave Europe its vantage-ground, and man has gone on from that point and doubled the gifts of nature.

Great peninsulas stretch away into both the great inland seas of Europe that of the North and that of the South; the Danish and Scandinavian peninsulas into the complex, and yet, physically speaking, single body of water, embracing the North Sea, Baltic, and Gulf of Bothnia; Spain, Italy, and the Grecian peninsula extending southward into the Mediterranean. In the latter there is the greatest contrast between the deeply-indented northern shore and the bare, sandy coast of the African side. In just as great contrast is the uniformly unbroken sea-line of northern Siberia, compared with the articulated shore of northern Russia. How entirely different would the development of northern Asia have been, if a Siberian inland sea had penetrated to the very foot of the Altai, as the seas of northern Europe have pierced to the center of the continent! And had the shallow Syrtis cleft northern Africa as far as Lake Tchad, as the Adriatic has done on the opposite coast, Central Africa would not now be a terra incognita.

The northern as well as the southern extremities of Europe, so far as they are projected into inland seas, have received an equal size and equal natural advantages, each of its own kind, so that, conditioned by its own peculiarities, its population have helped it to attain its rightful place, and an individuality independent of continental influences. The abundant resources which each of these extremities enjoys have insured it, in a physical as well as historical view, an independence which has reacted favorably upon the whole continent. What a debt does not Europe owe to the Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, Dutch, Danes, Scandinavians! How entirely different would the whole development of the shores of Europe have been, had they been bold, inaccessible rocks, an unbroken line of coast,

like Uralaska, or the smaller Asiatic peninsulas of Kamtchatka and Malacca! And where would the accomplished European stand to-day, in comparison with his black neighbor on the south, were it not for the articulated coast-line of the continent which gives him his home?

And still there remains, out of the inexhaustible richness of nature, one leading feature to be taken into account. To estimate it properly, we must pay attention briefly to the islands of the three continents of the Old World.


Europe, as a continent, is distinguished by its adjacent islands. Following the irregular coast-line of its many extremities, they lie along, in greater or less number, the satellites, so to speak, of the main land. They are scattered almost everywhere, yet not distant from the coast, like Iceland, but within sight of the shore. In character they resemble the adjacent coast, ard form a true part of the main land, except in the one fact of separation. Strabo even called Sicily an insular continuation of Italy, and discriminated between islands found in mid-ocean and those found near the coast, calling the former pelagic and the latter littoral islands. These he regarded as having been at some previous period rent from the main land. The coast islands are by no means, like many of the pelagic islands, mere rocky groups, thrown up by volcanic convulsions, or small, desolate, barren ledges. They are very diverse in character: some are fertile single islands, like Sicily, Candia, Bornholm, Rugen, Negropont; some are double islands, like Britain and Ireland, Zealand and Funen, Corsica and Sardinia; some are island groups, like the 3 Balearic islands, the 3 Maltese islands, the 20 Ionian islands, the 67 Orkneys, the 90 Shetlands, the still

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