saw game enough to keep his dog. Melville though the interior of the great Sahara has Island, one hundred and fifty miles to the not yet been fully explored, enough is northward, abounded in deer and musk known of it to prove that it contains large oxen. It was thus clear, he continued, that tracts of mountains and hilly country, with animal life did not depend on latitude, but rocks and valleys, lakes, rivers, and springs. increased if any thing, after passing the There are also fertile spots, at wide distances seventieth degree. Moreover, while in from each other, covered with trees and Baffin's Bay the tide made for the south-shrubs, and beautiful vegetation. Some of ward, coming from the Atlantic, in Barrow's these spots are small, while others are of Straits it made for the northward, which large extent, and inhabited by independent could only be explained on the hypothesis tribes, and even whole kingdoms of people. of a sea in that direction. All this seems to A fertile tract of this kind is called an oasis; us proof on proof of a great Polar Ocean. and, by looking at your map, you will per

ceive that there are many oases in the Sa

hara of Africa. THE GREAT AMERICAN DESERT. Of a similar character is the Great Ameri

can Desert; but its surface is still more vaThere is a great Desert in the interior of ried with what may be termod "geographi. North America. It is almost as large as cal features.There are plains--some of the famous Sahara of Africa. It is fifteen them more than a hundred miles widehundred miles long, and a thousand wide.- where you can see nothing but white sand Now if it were a regular shape—that is to often drifting about on the wind, an: bere say, a parallelogram-you could at once and there thrown into long ridges such as compute its area, by multiplying the length those made by a snow storm. There are upon the breadth; and you would obtain one other plains, equally large, where po sand million and a half for the result-one mill appears, but brown bawen earth, utterly deslion and a half of square miles. But its out- titute of vegetation. There are others, lines are as yet very imperfectly known; and again, on which grows a stunted shrub, with altho' it is fully fifteen hundred miles long, leaves of a pale silvery color. In some and in some place a thousand in breadth, its places it grows so thickly, interlocking its surface extent is probably not over one mil twisted and knotty branches that a borsclion of square miles, or twenty-five times man can hardly ride among them. This as big as all England! Do you not think shrub is the artemisia—a species of wild sage t'iat it has received a most appropriate name, or wormwood—and the plains upon which when it is called the Great AMERICAN DE- it grows are called by the hunters who cross BERT!

them the sage prairies. Other plains are Now, my friend, what do you understand met with that present a black aspect to the by a desert? I think I can guess. When traveler. These are covered with lava, that you read or hear of a desert, you think of alat some distant period of time has been vast level plain, covered with sand, and with- vomited forth from volanic mountains, and out trees, or grass, or any kind of vegeta- now lies frozen up, and broken into small tion. You think, also, of this sand being! fragments like the stones upon a new-made blown about in thick yellow clouds, and no road. Søill other plains present themselves water to be seen in any direction. 'This is in the American Desert. Some are white, your idea of a desert; is it not? Well, it is as if snow bad fallen fresh upon them; and not altogether the correct ope. It is very yet it is not snow, but salt! Yes, pure tu, that in almost every desert there are white salt-covering the ground six inches these sandy plains, yet are there other parts deep, and for fifty miles, in every direction! . of its surface of a far different character, Others, again, have a similar appearance ;equally deserving the name of DESERT. Al-I but instead of salt you find the substance

Vol. 6, No. 6–17.

[ocr errors]


which covers them to be soda-a beautiful freshly painted. These stripes mark the effloresence of soda.

strata of different colored rocks, of which There are mountains, too-indeed. vne- the mountains are composed. And there half of the desert is very mountainous ;- are still other mountains in the Great Amerand the great chain of the Rocky Moun- ican Desert, to startle the traveler with tains—of which you have no doubt heard

their strange appearance. They are those runs sheer through it from north to south, that glitter with mica selenite. These, when and divides it into two nearly equal parts. seen from a distance flashing under the sun, But there are other mountains besides these ; I look as though the

| look as thongh they were mountains of silmountains of every height, and sometimes in

ver and gold their shape and color presenting very striking and singular appearances. Some of

The rivers, too; strange rivers are they.— them run for miles in horizontal ridges like

Some run over broad shallow beds of bright the roofs of houses, and seeming so narrow

sand. Large rivers--hundreds of yards in at their tops that one might sit astride on

width, with sparkling waters. Follow themi them. Others again of a conical form.stand

down to their course. What do you find? out in the chain apart from the rest, and Instead of growing larger like the rivers of Jook like teacups turned upon their mouths your own land, they become less and less, in the middle of a table. Then there are til at len sharp peaks that shoot upward like needles sands, and you see nothing but the dry chanand others shaped like the dome of some nel for miles upon miles. Go still farther, rent them like the dome of St. Pauls and the water again appears, and onward Thiese mountains are of many colors. Someine

Some increases in volume, until thousands of miles are dark, or dark green, or blue when seen

from the sea, large ships can float upon from a distance. They are of this color

lor their bosom. Such are the Arkansas and when covered by forests of pine or cedar,

the Platte. both of which trees are found in great plen

1 There are other rivers that run between ty among the mountains of the Desert.

bleak and rocky banks--banks a thousand There are many mountains where po trees feet high, whose bald, naked “bluffs" frovn are seen, nor any signs of vegetatiou along.tead

ng at each other across the deep chasm, in the their sides. Huge naked rocks of granite

bottom of which roars the troubled water. appear piled upon each other, or jutting out

Often these banks extend for hundreds of over dark and frowning chasmis. There are

miles, so steep at all points that one cannot peaks perfectly white, because they are cov-18

i go down to the bed of their stream; and ofered with a thick mantle of snow. These

ten the traveler bas perished with thirst, can always be seen from the greatest dis

while the roar of their water was sounding tance, as the snow lying upon them all the

in his ears. Such are the Colorado and the year without melting proves them to be of vast elevation above the level of the sea.- Still, others go sweeping through the There are other peaks almost as white, and broad plains, tearing up the clay with their yet it is not by snow. They are of a milky mighty floods, and year after year changing hue, and stunted cedar trees may be seen their channels, until they are sometimes a clinging in seamps and crevices along their bunulred miles from their ancient bedssides. These are mountains of pure lime Here they are found gurgling for many stone, or the wbite quartz rock. There is leagues under ground-under vast rafis formmountains again, upon wbich there are ed by the trees which they have borne downneither tree nor leaf to be seen ; but in their ward in their currents. There you find stead, the most vivid colors of red and green, them winding by a thousandi loops, like the and yellow and white, running in stripes sinuosities of a great serpent, rolling slugalong their sides, as though they had been gishly along, with waters red and turbid as

though they were rivers of blood. Such are sands of others of all sizes—from fifty miles the Brazos and the Red.

in breadth, 10 the little spot of a few acres, Strange rivers are they that struggle thro' | formed by the fertilizing waters of some the mountains, and valleys, and plateau gurgling springs. Many of these are withlands of the Great American Desert. | out inbabitants. In others again, dwell

Not less strange are its lakes. Some lie tribes of Iudians, some of them numerous in the deep recesses of hills that dip down and powerful, possessing horses and cattle 50 steeply that yon cannot reach their shores; / while others are found in small groups of while the mountains around theni are so three or four families each, subsisting wiserbleak and naked, that not even a bird ever ably upon roots, seeds, grass, reptiles and crosses their silent waters. Other lakes are insects. In addition to the two great settloseen in the broad, barren plains, and yet a ments we have mentioned, and the Indians, few years after, the traveler finds them not there is another class of men scattered over they have dried up or disappeared. Some are this region. These are white men--hunters fresh, with waters like crystal ; others brack-land trappers. They subsist by trapping the ish and muddy; while many of them are beaver, and hunting the buffalo and other more salt than the ocean itself.

animals. Their life is one contiued sceno In this Desert there are springs-springs of peril, both from the wild beasts which of soda and sulphur, and salt waters; and they encounter in their lonely excursions others so hot that they boil up as in a great and the hostile Indiaj.s with whom they caldron, and you cannot dip your finger into

come in contact. These men procure the them without scalding it.

| furs of the beaver, the otter, the muskrat, There are vast caves piercing the sides of the marten, the ermine, the lynx, the fox, the mountains, and deep chasms opening in- and the skins of many other animals. This to the plains—some of them so deep that is their business, and by this they might faucy mountaius had been scoop

Scoop | There are forts or trading posts, established ed out to form them. They are called " bar-bo

bar. | by adventurous merchants, at long distances rancas." There a.e precipices rising straight from each other; and at these forts the trapup from the plains, thousands of feet in pers exchange their furs for the necessary imheight, and sleep as a wall; and through

plements of their perilous calling. the mountains thumselves you may see grrat clefts cut by the rivers, as though they bad

There is another class of men who travbeen tunneled and their tops had fallen iu.

erse the Great Desert. For many years They are called "canons." All these singu

there has been a commerce carried on be lar formativos mark the wild region of the

ion of the tween the oasis of New Mexico and the

United States. This commerce employs a Great American Desert.

It has its denizens. There are oases in it; considerable amount of capital, and a great some of them large, and settled by civilized number of men, principally One of these is the country of New The goods are transported in large wagons: Mexico, containing many towns, and 30,000 drawn by mules or oxen ; and a train of inhabitants. Tbese are the Spanish and these vagons is called a "caravan.” Other mixed Indian races. Another oasis in this caravans-Spanish ones-cross the western country around the Great Salt and Utah wing of the Desert, from Sonora to CaliforLakes. Here is also a settlement, establish- nia, and thence to New Mexico. Thus, you ed in 1846. Its people are Americans and see, the American Desert lias its caravans as Englishmen. They are the Mormons; and, well as the Sahara. though they dwell hundreds of miles from These caravans travel for hunılreds of the sea, they will in time become a large and miles through countries in which there are powe ful nation of themselves.

no inhabitants, except the scattered and rorBesides these great oases, there are thou-ling bands of Indians; and there are many


parts so sterile, that not even these can exist | 'Tis true-then I will drenm of bliss no more; in them.

To Christ my Refuge I will gladly soar,

And cleave to Him while systems fade away, The caravans, however, usually follow all

Amid one universal ruin and decay. track, which is known, and where grass and

Knox Collegs, April 15th, 1852. water may be found at certain seasons of the year. There are several tracks, or, as they are called, “trails," that cross from the fron

For the Miscellany. tier settlements of the United States to SHE WAS A LITTLE FAIRY THING. . those of New Mexico. Between one and another of them, however, stretch vast regions of desert country entirely unexplor

She was a little fairy thing, ed and unknown--and many fertile spots Her eye was softly blue; exists, that have never been trodden by the Fair flaxen curls but half concealed foot of man.

A cheek of roseate hue ;

While round her, sweet simplicity Such, then, my young friend, is a roughi

Her spotless mantle drew. sketch of some of the more prominent features of the Great American Desert.

She was a little fairy thing,
· [Reid'8 English Family Robinson.

But ah! no sister played
With her in the long summer day,

Beneath the beachen shade;
For the Miscellany.

No brother marked her footsteps when

She sported through the glade.


Yet, often from her favorite flower,

She kissed away the dew,
And pleasing converse seem'd to hold

With each loved plant that grew;
Or turned her earnest loving gaze

On heaven's ethereal blue.

How delicate yon twinkling star of even
Looks down from its bespangled, sunset heaven,
Upon this cheerless, gloomy orb at night-
Though modest in its silvery garb, how bright!
If it be left to mortal man to tell
The place in which his longing soul shall dwell,
Yon little twinkling orb my home shall be,
When this imprisoned spirit is set free.
To that lone star how swiftly would I fly
On rapid wings of immortality!
How fondly would my wearied spirit greet
That unassuming planet, should we meet!

She loved the mystery of the storm,

Nor feared its rude alarm,
And view'd the rainbow in the cloud

As mercy's circling arm,-
Alike, the sunshine and the shade

Wrought in her soul a charm.

Thro' heaven's expanse I ne'er would wish to roam,
If I could choose yon gem my happy home;
From life's fierce conflict there I'd gladly flee,
To rest in peace thronghout eternity.

Though she was but a tiny thing

She early loved the place
Where God vouchsafes to sinful men

His messages of grace;
And many a wistful glance she bent

Upon the preacher's face.

Away from toil, and sin, and strife, and war,
I'd muse, on yonder solitary star;
Far, far, from friends and lov'd ones, I would be
A lonely hermit of Infinity.
With boundless admiration to my soul,
I'd gaze on other systems as they roll
In silent grandeur ; and adore to see
Such emanations from the Deity.

She was a little fairy thing,

But not too young to die;
I saw her on her soft low couch,

All pale and stricken lie;
Yet blissful words were on her lips,

And heaven was in her eye.

But oh I when God in dreadful wrath shall come,
To punish foes, and call his ransomed home,
Shall not my planet from its orb be hurl'd,
While stars are wreek'd upon this burning world

How many of the wise and great

Have sought in vain the way
Which this frail child so meekly trod

To everlasting day;
And pangless was the sigh that told

A spirit sped away.
| Grand Blanc, 1852.


having extended eorrect general views of the GEOLOGY.

distinctions of classification of strata. In

1793, an Englishman, William Smith, achie| ved a great advance in geology by his classi

fication of the strata of some portions of his It was at the beginning of the XVIth cer-Icountry; and in 1815 he gave to the world tury that geological facts first awakened at

a survey of England, in which the strata tention and inquiry; and within the next pered

were discriminated by their organic remaios. two hundred years they had accumulated to During this

a to During this period many of the most ingea considerable number, especially in Italy, Inious minds were devoting themselves to and had given rise to much speculation. similar researches. In 1807, the formation During the latter part of the XVIIth cen

of the London Geological Society took place tury, a variety of theories had been proposed

-an association which has materially and for the explanation of such facts as were most, honorably connected its name with the then known-theories which serve at pres- i.

$ subsequent progress of Geology in England ent only to indicate to what an extent the wonder and curiosity of inquiries had been

In the mean time the study of fossils was

pursued with great genius and enthusiasm awakened. Buffon had proposed a theory!

in various countries. Lamarck and Defrance which found advocates till the close of that

determined the fossil shells in the neighborcentury. The two Bertrands had originated

" hood of Paris, and in 1811, the memorable others in Switzerland and France; and seve-

work of Cuvier and Brogniart, “On the ral theorizers in England and Germany had

"Environs of Paris,” constituted an epoch obtained similar distinction by the same means. These theories were of a character

in geological science. Cuvier's discovery of the most visionary and capricious. The first

many species of vertebrated animals in the

basin of Paris, some of them of immense regarded our earth as having been struck off froin the sun, while in a heated state, by a

size and of the most extraordinary characcomet-another, as having been originally ter

ter, stimulated naturalists throughout Eua mass of ice—and upon each of them the opet

of them the rope to more extended examinations of the few established facts were explained, by call

nined by call. tertiary strata, from which they have since ing in any agencies which might seem ade-Teaped

ade, reaped an ample harvest of most important

facts. The restoration of more than forty quate to such effects. Other observers, however, as Saussure in species

e in species of extinct quadrupeds, principally of the Alps, and Pallas in Siberia, confined the pachydermata, attests the extent and the themselves to the collection of facts, and ac

the collection of facts and ac. success of his labors. cumulated materials which have proved of Another most remarkable group of ani. great value to their successors. At the close mals—the Saurian,.-was brought to light of that century, the interest of the scientific principally by the geologists of England.-world was concentrated upon two theories In 1816, Sir Everard Home ascertained that, which long divided the suffrages of the learn- among the fossil remains of England, were ed. Werner, a Professor in Saxony, con- some which it was impossible to arrange tended that all rocks were deposited by wa. with any knowu class of animals. The aniter, and this was known as the Neptunian mal thus referred to was named the Ichthyotheory; while in Scotland, Hutton taught saurus, as intermediate between fishes and that the unstratified rocks had been deposited lizards. Another still more nearly approachin a melted state, and his theory was designa- ing the lizard, was discovered by Conybeare, ted accordingly as the Plutonian. The lat- in 1821, and named Plesiosaurus. These ter of these views has, with important mo- were marine genera. At a somewhat later difications, been adopted by most subsequent day, Dr. Buckland designated another, and geologists; yet to Werner is due the credit ofla terrestrial genus, as the Megalosaurus, and,

« VorigeDoorgaan »