Slike stranica

Sun. according to this theory, forms the central point around which, and not around the Earth, all the planets wheel. Copernicus, in 1543, left this imperfect and yet fruitful conception to his successors to unfold; and in the results gained by Kepler, in 1631, by Newton and Galileo, 1727, the Copernican system was firmly established. The vast improvements in the telescope removed the limits of the visible universe to a place till then unrevealed, and added inexhaustible fields to those which had been known before. The number of the planets was enlarged. The list of determined comets increases yearly. The number of the fixed stars has been determined by the extreme accuracy of such observers as Lalande, Lacaille, Bessel, Argelander, and Lamont. The great work of mapping and cataloguing the heavens has been accomplished. Many hundred stars, supposed to be single fixed stars, have been ascertained to be double stars, and some have been resolved into systems like our own. The 300-400, observed by Struve, have grown, through the labors of Herschel, in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, at the Cape of Good Hope, and elsewhere, to over 3000, and the number is constantly increasing. Nebulæ have been analyzed, and been shown to consist of worlds distinct and perfect as our own. Thus there is a steady and perceptible advance in man's conception of the Earth. of Nature, of what we call the World and the Universe, though each individual, generation, and century are but dimly conscious of this progress.



The Earth draws our attention to itself, however, not as simply a unit in the planetary system, but as the home of the human race. The physical description of the globe includes the relations of the Earth as a star amid the heavenly hosts, while Geography, taken most comprehensively, regards the Earth as the dwelling place of From a geographical point of view, the world becomes to us the common home of our race, the theater, not of the operations of Nature in the most unrestricted sense, but the arena for the devel. opment of human life and history. The whole animate and inanimate creation is tributary, looked at geographically, to the fashioning of the destiny of Man. Without Man as the central point, Nature would have no interest to the geographer; without the Earth, constituted just as it is, the races of men and the course of

human history could not claim his attention. The Earth is not only the best known of planets, but, as the home of man, infinitely the most interesting. The study of it is at the foundation of

history as much as of physics.

No man of science can fail to regard it with the deepest interest. More than a hundred years ago, George Foster remarked that European culture had ascended to that height, that it must include an intimate knowledge of all that is peculiar in the features and phenomena of the entire globe. How much more true is this remark in the middle of our nineteenth century! It is no longer European culture that demands this, but the welfare of all countries claims of scholars this knowledge far more imperatively than a hundred years ago. Still, it must be confessed that we are far from the attainment of a perfect science of Geography, in its largest sense; the science which regards the Earth as the field of human discipline; the science of which what was formerly called Geography is only an outlying, rudimentary part. The compass of what it holds as its goal is too large, and its contents too varied for his grasp whose existence is hemmed in by narrow bonds, and whose life is so brief. And though there have always been detailed descriptions of the different parts of the earth, many of them remarkable for their accuracy, yet there has been lacking a knowledge of the principle of organic unity which pervades the whole, and the mutual play and interdependency of all the parts. The whole subject of relations was unstudied. And it is a knowledge of the relations of things that leads to a scientific interpretation, not the description of detached parts. Geography was and continued to be mere description, not the teaching of the most important relations. Only now are we beginning to comprehend the true elements of geographical science, only now are the first efforts made to deal profoundly with this science, although the progress of discovery is still going on with unabated speed, leaving far behind us all the advances of our predecessors.


The Earth, considered per se, is only a fragment of the Universe, of the Kosmos, in that wide use of the word which Humboldt has given to it in his celebrated work. The Earth is the grand floor, so to speak, of Nature; the home, or rather the cradle, of men and of

nations, the dwelling-place of our race. It is not merely a region of immense spaces, a vast superficies, it is the theater where all the forces of Nature and the laws of Nature are displayed in their variety and independencies. Besides this, it is the field of all human effort, and the scene of a Divine revelation. The Earth must be studied, therefore, in a threefold relation: to the Universe, to Nature, to History.


And it is not only as a mere passive agent, but active, that it assumes this threefold relation. It is an inseparable, an integral, a working member in the great system of things. But higher than this, and grander than its relation to the system of things, is its relation to an unseen world, to an unseen hand, even that of the Creator. We view it not as the field of forces and laws and phenomena, but the crowning gift of God, displaying the tokens of perfect adaptation to our wants, full of beauty and excellence-a revelation of Divine wisdom, in the form of a visible world. beautifully has the inspired David painted this in the 104th Psalm! In relation to its inhabitants, crowned with the Imperial gift of reason, the Earth is not merely the place where they may stand, the cradle where they may sleep, the home where they may live, it is the school where they may be trained. This is one of the first and one of the greatest lessons that we learn from the history of the race. The Earth finds its highest mission, not in its relation to inanimate nature, but to the world of intelligence-the minds that dwell upon it, the spiritual world to which it gives bodies. And as the Earth alone of the planets is adapted to be the home of such a being as man, so in our world of animate and inanimate things, man alone partakes of a moral nature, incapable of being shared or even imitated by the lower creatures. The Earth was made to be the home of mind, soul, character. And Man was created to make this earth tributary to his largest growth in mind, and soul, and character. In this sense the Earth and its noble possessors are correlative. Each individual rises to his own appointed work, runs his own course, uses all the appliances of Nature, all the help with which God invests him, and then ceases from his mission here; but the Earth remains, the home of the advancing millions, helping them all onward, and granting them new power to fulfill the noble purposes of human life.

Nor can this constitution of things be the result of a happy acci

dent. Evidently under the supreme power of a Divine mind and will, Nature is made subservient to Man. That mutual working and interdependence of things, which opens to our comprehension the History of our race, cannot be ascribed to a fortuitous combination of events. It can only be the result of Divine Providence. Had there been no wise ruling of the blind forces of nature, no subjection of the rough, unbridled powers of the air, and sea, and earth, the human race would have become extinct, as so many races of beasts have done. But there are no traces of the extinction of a human race in our Paleontology. The constitution of the globe is incontestably coincident with a plan to preserve and perfect Man. There are destructive agencies, it is true, but they do not operate on an extended scale; our earthquakes, and volcanoes, and great storms at sea affect but a fraction of the race, they are no longer universal in their action; while, on the contrary, the instrumentalities which favor mankind remain in force-the earth's changeless garment of green, the uniform progress of generation among subordinate creatures, the ease of acclimatization, and of transferring seeds and germs, with undiminished fruitfulness, from one region to another. The very agencies which, in the dawn of history, brought death, have been changed to auxiliaries of life with us to-day.

The investigation into the relations of the Earth, in this respect, and into the organization of all the natural laws and phenomena in their bearing on man, his life and history, must constitute a prominent department of true geographical science. When Geography ceases to be a lifeless aggregate of unorganized facts, and becomes the science which deals with the earth as a true organization, a world capable of constant development, carrying in its own bosom the seeds of the future, to germinate and unfold, age after age, it first attains the unity and wholeness of a science, and shows that it grows from a living root; it becomes capable of systematic exposition, and takes its true place in the circle of sister sciences. Philosophy gladly grants it a share in its own domain, and permits it to indulge in those soaring speculations, which it used to be thought that so simple a thing as Geography might not enjoy. Yet, it must not be denied that there has for some time been felt a need of bringing the earth, as an organization, more into the light of scientific investigation. The study of final causes, the tracing of infinite

wisdom in the works of the Creator, the theories touching the first issue of all things, have grown out of this necessity. Many errors have, doubtless, drifted in during the course of these speculations, man has undertaken to measure the Divine plan with most imperfect data, and the illusion has been too fondly cherished of attaining final and profound results while men were scarcely in the possession of the elements of knowledge. It is for us, therefore, to enter upon our inquiries with investigation rather than theory, to test the knowledge of which tradition has put us in possession, and to advance, as we may, to the new and the unexplored.

Man is the first token that we meet, that our study of the earth must contemplate it as an organized whole, its unity consummating in him. As every individual must, in his own career, epitomize the history of the race, childhood, youth, manhood, and decrepitude, so each man mirrors in his own life the locality where he lives. Whether dwelling in the North or in the South, in the East or in the West, whether the shepherd of the Tyrolese Highlands, or the Hollander of the plains, every man is, in a manner, the representative of the home that gave him birth. In the people the country finds its reflection. The effect of the district upon the nature of its inhabitants in size and figure, in color and temperament, in speech and mental characteristics, is unmistakable. Hence the almost infinite diversity in the peculiarities of culture and attainment, as well as of tendency in different nations. Anthropology and Ethnography, the science of man and of race, are the running commentaries of Geography and Topography. The historian and the geographer work toward each other, the historian going back from the acts of men to study the scenes which have conditioned their life, the geographer going forward from the study of the habitat of men to that of their deeds. The fundamental question of history is, in fact, What relation does the country bear to the national life? What relation to the civil structure, the state?

In fact, the whole constitution of Man is thoroughly connected with the Earth on which he dwells; the roots of his being run down into it in uncounted numbers. Man receives at birth from the earth not only a spiritual but a physical dowry, from which he cannot free himself, and of whose worth he becomes conscious more and more. It is, therefore, of course one of the first of the legitimate studies to learn the limits of the realm which Man makes his home, and to

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