Slike stranica

midal Structure" to this cone-shaped form of the great land-mass, which, it will be observed, all are directed toward the south. This pyramidal structure contributes very much, unquestionably, to the diminished heat of the southern hemisphere, and has given a great predominance to the population of the northern in comparison with the southern; and not in respect to number alone, but also to mental and moral force of character.

But not the southern extremities alone of the continents exhibit this wedge-like form; it is repeated also in the northern countries of Europe and Asia. In Europe we discover the working of the law in the peninsulas of Spain, Italy, Greece, the Morea, and the Crimea, and also in the great Scandinavian peninsula. The same phenomenon is repeated on a scale far more imposing in Asia, in the great countries of Arabia, India, and Farther India, Corea, and Kamtchatka; also in both halves of America. Exceptions are rare. In Great Britain, the pointed extremity is toward the north, and the greatest breadth at the south; but this is a peculiar case, and has its exceptional causes; and perhaps with reason, for this island has hitherto maintained an individual and exceptional character in the development of modern civilization.

Various explanations have been offered for the almost star-shaped figure which the combined body of great peninsulas assume, radiating, as it were, from the center of the land hemisphere. This is seen very strikingly in looking at a horizontal projection of the northern hemisphere, viewed from the North Pole. There has been evidently the working out of some great design in this, and the forces employed must have been of the first order of magnitude. Clöden attributes it to the rotation of the earth in its plastic, formative state. Link ascribes it to


electrical forces, generated at the time the earth's crust was hardening into its present consistency. J. R. Forster finds an explanation in the theory, that formerly great currents, now not existing, passed, or sought to pass, from south to north or northwest. He attributes to these the parallelism of the great gulfs which indent the coast-line of the old world, the uniform abruptness of the shores at the south, and the gradual widening of all the great landmasses as we go north. The Atlantic is a channel cleft by those great currents. Behring's Straits is a smaller one; but everywhere else the effort was incomplete, and no opening was effected, except in the straits of minor importance, which separate island from island, or from the main land. The fossils discovered by Pallas seemed to favor this theory, but later investigation has showed that they do not.

Link overthrew Forster's theory, yet the phenomenon is worthy of study. Viewed on a map of the land hemisphere, constructed according to Mercator's projection, it is a storehouse of interesting observations and studies, and is to be recommended to the student's careful attention. We must pass over the theories; scholars disagree as to the cause; Pisis ascribes it to a hidden law of geometric construction; Necker, Brewster, and Dana, to magnetism. We must simply accept the facts for the present.

A careful study of the land surface of the globe suggests interesting comparisons with what we know of the heavenly bodies, Jupiter, for example, and our moon. Unquestionably, the entirely different grouping of what seem to be the great features of that luminary must have had an influence on the whole course of history there. We will not enter into speculations regarding this, however,

referring the reader rather to the thorough investigations of Beer and Mädler.

Situation of the Continents in their Relation to Each

Other and to their Collective Whole.

The relation which the continents bear to each other arises, primarily, from their position in reference to the cardinal points of the compass. This has been a principle from the earliest times, and the great laws of population may, in their working, be referred to this simple law of grouping.

Asia was known as the Orient, or, in the apt and beautiful German phrase, the Morgenland, or Land of the morning; Europe and the northern rim of Africa, as the Occident, or, in the German, the Abendland, or Land of the evening. In the south lay the torrid regions of the Ethiopians, in the chill north the country of the Hyperboreans. This fourfold division of the earth was for many centuries the only one known; the division into continents being made, according to Herodotus, by the Phenicians. And in very truth, a great principle lay in that rude and primitive division; it was in entire harmony with nature, and, up to the latest times and the opening. of a new world, in entire harmony with history also. With Asia, the Orient, is connected indissolubly the development of the ancient world; with Europe, that of the modern. The contrast between these two great divisions is wonderfully analogous to that of morning and evening. The whole culture of the West had its root, its beginnings at the East. The East is not merely the place where the sun begins his daily course; it is the cradle of man, of nations, of dynasties of every sort, in politics, religion, and science.

All the old royal houses came into Europe

from the East; they are all "children of the sun," no less than the princely families of India and Persia. The West merely witnesses the progress of what was begun in the East. From the most ancient times onward through the Middle Ages, from Homer to Dante's "Purgatorio,"the West is associated with the kingdom of the dead, with "Hades," and the "islands of the blest." And within these two great divisions of Orient and Occident are comprised smaller ones, adapted to more limited conceptions of the extent of the earth, but growing out of the same root with the larger division. Bactriana and India constituted the Orient to the inhabitants of Western Asia, Syria their Occident; Asia Minor was the Orient of the Greeks, Italy and Sicily their Hesperia; while the Romans called Spain theirs.

Between the Orient and Occident, and yet to the south of both, lay the Libya of the ancients, exposed to the sun's direct rays. In the very middle of the earth, on both sides of the equator, and not at the South Pole, is the true South. There we must seek the phenomena of the tropical world in their culminations. As high noon, the middle point in the hour, is the consummation of the day, so the torrid climes of the equatorial belt, at the very middle of the earth, afford the extremes of luxuriant growth.

The broad tracts of land at the northern polar regions formed the true physical contrast to the Orient and the Occident, as well as to the great South of central Africa. They lay around the North Pole like a vast shield of earth, unbroken except by the comparatively insignificant seas and gulfs of that region. And even where the water has broken its way and severed those northern lands, a submarine volcanic activity is, even now, constantly at work to restore the break, and bind the coasts together

At about 70° N. lat., all the countries of the north are brought into great nearness, and that parallel is a highway of little else than land crossing the North Cape of Europe, Cape Chelagskoy, in Tchooktchee, at the northeastern extremity of Asia, and touching Cape Bathurst, and the Fury and Heckla Straits of North America. North of this highway and of the Georgian Archipelago begins the great group of circum-polar islands.

The break between Asia and North America, at Behring's Straits, is but fifty-six miles wide; it is the mere outlet of the Sea of Kamtckatka into the Arctic Ocean. The space between the northeast of America and the northwest of Europe is much greater indeed, but, in comparison with the distance between the southernmost points of the old and the new world, insignificant. The distance from northern Norway to Greenland is but about 940 miles.

It is noteworthy that, at the north of the great continental land-mass, where minor seas and channels break through, great volcanic forces are constantly at work, as hinted at above, to restore the unity. In the Sea of Kamtchatka lie the Aleutian islands, extending more than 950 miles, and forming what has been happily termed a bridge from the old world to the new. It consists of more than a hundred rocks and islands, some of which have been thrown up within the memory of man. In 1806, von Langsdorf and Tilesius witnessed the emergence of one of these, with a cone-shaped center, and about twenty miles in circumference. Grewingk has counted more than fifty volcanoes in activity within the limits of this island chain. The Curile islands, more to the south, form another similar volcanic group, extending from Japan to Kamtchatka. In this range there are known to be at least ten volcanoes, 10,000 feet in height.


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