it, this first granite range has evidently never been disturbed by any violent convulsion since its first upheaval, yet there has been a gradual rising of that part of the continent, for the Azoic beds do not lie horizontally along the base of the Laurentian Hills in the position in which they must originally have been deposited, but are lifted and rest against their slopes. They have been more or less dislocated in this process, and are greatly metamorphosed by the intense heat to which they must have been exposed. Indeed, all the oldest stratified rocks have been baked by the prolonged action of heat.

It may be asked how the materials for those first stratified deposits were provided. In later times, when an abundant and various soil covered the earth, when every river brought down to the ocean, not only its yearly tribute of mud or clay or lime, but the débris of animals and plants that lived and died in its waters or along its banks, when every lake and pond deposited at its bottom in successive layers the lighter or heavier materials floating in its waters and settling gradually beneath them, the process by which stratified materials are collected and gradually harden into rock is more easily understood. But when the solid surface of the earth was only just beginning to form, it would seem that the floating matter in the sea can hardly have been in sufficient quantity to form any extensive deposits. No doubt there was some abrasion even of that first crust; but the more abundant source of the earliest stratification is to be found in the submarine volcanoes that poured their liquid streams into the first ocean. At what rate these materials would be distributed and precipitated in regular strata it is impossible to determine; but that volcanic materials were so deposited in layers is evident from the relative position of the earliest rocks. I have already spoken of the innumerable chimneys perforating the Azoic beds, narrow outlets of Plutonic rock, protruding through the earliest strata. Not only are such funnels filled with the crystalline mass of granite that flowed through them in a liquid state, but it has often poured over their sides, mingling with the stratified beds around. In the present state of our knowledge, we can explain such appearances only by supposing that the heated materials within the earth's crust poured out frequently, meeting little resistance, that they then scattered and were precipitated in the ocean around, settling in successive strata at its bottom, that through such strata the heated masses within continued to pour again and again, forming for themselves the chimney-like outlets above mentioned.

Such, then, was the earliest American land, - a long, narrow island, almost continental in its proportions, since it stretched from the eastern borders of Canada nearly to the point where now the base of the Rocky Mountains meets the plain of the Mississippi Valley. We may still walk along its ridge and know that we tread upon the ancient granite that first divided the waters into a northern and southern ocean; and if our imaginations will carry us so far, we may look down toward its base and fancy how the sea washed against this earliest shore of a lifeless world. This is no romance, but the bald, simple truth; for the fact that this granite band was lifted out of the waters so early in the history of the world, and has not since been submerged, has, of course, prevented any subsequent deposits from forming above it. And this is true of all the northern part of the United States. It has been lifted gradually, the beds deposited in one period being subsequently raised, and forming a shore along which those of the succeeding one collected, so that we have their whole sequence before us. In regions where all the geological deposits, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Permian, Triassic, etc., are piled one upon another, and we can get a glimpse of their internal relations only where some rent has laid them open, or where their ragged edges, worn away by the abrading action of external influences, expose to view their successive layers, it must, of course, be more difficult to follow their connection. For this reason the American continent offers facilities to the geologist denied to him in the so-called Old World, where the earlier deposits are comparatively hidden, and the broken character of the land, intersected by mountains in every direction, renders his investigation still more difficult. Of course, when I speak of the geological deposits as so completely unveiled to us here, I do not forget the sheet of drift which covers the continent from north to south; but the drift is only a superficial and recent addition to the soil, resting loosely above the other geological deposits, and arising from very different causes.

In this article I have intended to limit myself to a general sketch of the formation of the Laurentian Hills with the Azoic stratified beds resting against them. In the Silurian epoch following the Azoic we have the first beach on which any life stirred; it extended along the base of the Azoic beds, widening by its extensive deposits the narrow strip of land already upheaved.



HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, the most distinguished of American poets, was born in Portland, Maine, in 1807. He graduated at Bowdoin College in the class of 1825, of which Nathaniel Hawthorne and President Pierce were members. The next year he was appointed Professor of Modern Languages in this institution, and in 1835 was elected to the chair of Belles-Lettres in Harvard University, which position he held for many years, finally resigning it in order that he might give his attention wholly to literary labor. Between these two dates he spent much time in Europe, assiduously studying modern languages and literature. Mr. Longfellow's poetry is distinguished for refinement and grace rather than for vigor of thought or expression. His sympathies are quick and strong, and this fact, together with the directness and simplicity of his verse, accounts mainly for the extraordinary popularity of his writings, not only in this country, but in England, where they are almost universally read and admired. Perhaps his best - as it is his most famous- · poem is Evangeline, which contains some of the most perfect idyllic passages in the language, and is eloquent with a sweet pathos that touches every heart. He is an accomplished student of foreign literature, and has translated many poems from the Spanish, German, and Scandinavian languages into his own graceful measures. He may fairly be regarded as one of the most influential founders of American literature, as he is one of its brightest ornaments. As a representative of our national culture in European eyes, he is undoubtedly the most conspicuous of American poets.


It was the schooner Hesperus

That sailed the wintry sea;

And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,

Her cheeks like the dawn of day,

And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds
That ope in the month of May.

The skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth,

And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now west, now south.

Then up and spake an old sailor,
Had sailed the Spanish Main,


'I pray thee put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength;

She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable's length.

"Come hither! come hither! my little daughter,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,

With his face turned to the skies,

The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow On his fixed and glassy eyes.

Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed That savéd she might be;

And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave On the Lake of Galilee.

And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
Towards the reef of Norman's Woe.

And ever the fitful gusts between
A sound came from the land;

It was the sound of the trampling surf,
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.

The breakers were right beneath her bows,
She drifted a dreary wreck,

And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.

She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool,

But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull.

Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank,
Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair

Lashed close to a drifting mast.


« VorigeDoorgaan »