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BARON VON HUMBOLDT.
This mysterious and awful visitant, which convulses the earth apparently without warning, is, however, like all the manifestations of nature, preceded by signs which the observing and understanding eye can perceive and calculate upon as unerringly as the astronomer can determine the approach of a comet.
The inhabitable earth is merely a shell or crust over the great mass of uninhabitable matter. The world beneath the earth's surface is as diversified as the world above. It has its mountains, its streams, its plains, its caverns, and its internal volcanoes.
As fearful storms, accompanied by lightning and rumbling thunder, sweep over the earth's surface, so beneath the crust occur electric storms, accompanied with terrific combustions of gases, which in their efforts to escape convulse the outer earth, and in many cases rend the shell asunder.
The earthquake which has recently (August 13, 14, 15, and 16, 1868) shaken the Pacific coast was occasioned by the discharge of the pent-up gases beneath, and also in part by the heated condition of the outer surface.
The “tidal phenomenon," as it is called, is the effect of the electrical condition of the earth beneath. The chemical components of the sea form a sensitive magnetic body, which is subject to attraction and repulsion, and as the magnetic current extended for several thousands of miles, and was caused by a col lision of negative and positive forces, the sea was attracted and repulsed along the whole line of the internal commotion by the action of these forces.
The northern portion of this globe has in times past suffered from convulsions similar to those which now visit the tropical climates.
The fearful privations and heart-rending calamities which visited the earlier inhabitants of the earth are only known to the student of the cosmos of nature after he has attained the second birth.
The forces within and around the earth are now in comparative subjugation, but in the earlier periods of its existence, while still it was in the process of changing from a state adapted to a lower condition of animal life to one fitted to a higher state of animal and intellectual existence, the elements were in a frequent state of rupture and disorder.
No mortal pen can depict the scene which I recently witnessed on the occurrence of the earthquake on the Pacific coast. Forty thousand souls arising amid smoke and blackened clouds of flying stones and upheaving earth, with outstretched arms, and faces strained with horror, emerging suddenly from their old bodies into their spirit-forms- looking awestruck into each other's faces; a vast swarm clinging together almost as helplessly as young bees to their
hive --suddenly cut off from their occupations and their pleasures, their homes, and their familiar affairs of earth!
But what they experienced, proud and noble cities of the past have experienced likewise. Grace and ornament, art and grandeur, beauty, love, and manly strength have been swept away time and again by the bursting of the treacherous doors that lead into the heart of the earth!
Change marks the footsteps of the Creator. The solid mountain, the firm, unyielding earth, which to the unthinking mind seem durable and eternal in their strength, like mankind carry within themselves the seeds of their own dissolution.
Yet the day will come when man, by the aid of science, will, through these premonitory symptoms, foresee the coming events, even as the wise physician can discern the time when his patient's soul will leave its body.
Nature misunderstood is a fearful mystery; but understood, she is a simple and beautiful piece of mechanism; and the earthquake may not be more disastrous than the flood or the avalanche when science and experience have taught men to avoid the localities of danger, and to watch the hour of its approach, that they may flee before it.
Nature is never abrupt in her actions. She heralds her intentions long before she enacts them, but as it requires the quick ear of the savage -- the child of nature — to detect the far-off prey, so it requires the student of nature to discover the distant tread of the earthquake.
The human mind is subject to false and specious reasoning, and time after time opinions which have been held and argued upon with seeming logical acumen, have, by further developments and discoveries, been proven fallacious. And yet of so elastic a nature is the mind of man that he is not crushed nor discouraged by his mistakes, but immediately commences to build new theories ; but as he establishes them by specialties instead of generalities, he is again defeated.
The European mind has adopted a certain line of thought respecting the future state of existence, which it substantiates by narrow reasonings and isolated facts.
Of the future we can only judge by analogy of the past with the present.
Nature ever shadows forth her new developments upon the old.
The many periods or stages through wh earth has passed in reaching her present sta finement, have been stamped one upon the that the Geologist can determine definitely
be the result of a certain period from the characteristics of the foregoing.
Now it is educible: if the Creator of the race of men who inhabit the terrestrial globe had intended for them a future state or destination differing in every respect from their present one, he would have prepared their minds for different pursuits, and ordained them for other occupations than those they follow to the very grave.
Take man in his most natural condition — examine those nations that are most ancient, and unmixed with other races — and you will perceive that their ideas of a future state were in accordance with the life they were living on earth.
The Asiatic race in burying its dead prepares the favorite food of the deceased, the fragrant tea, and the money so useful on earth. Also slips of paper on which messages are written to departed friends are lighted at these burial ceremonies, and reduced to ashes, that the spirit of the text inay be transmitted to their friends in the world of souls.
In these “Pagan rites," as they are termed, we discern the workings of an intuitive belief that the spirit of man still retains the sensations, attributes, and desires which have accompanied it through life.
The ancient Greeks and Romans held similar opinions, likewise the Africans, Ilindoos, and the In dians of North and South America.
By far the largest portion of mankind believe in a natural state liereafter, corresponding to their earth existence, but the European nations which are supposed to be advanced in science, art, and philo