But though there is much satisfaction in having contributed to effect so
happy a change in the lot of so many of our fellow-creatures,
fellow-countrymen, and fellow-Christians, it would be unfortunate if those
who have engaged in this undertaking should rest satisfied with what has
been done instead of deriving, from the success that has so far attended
their exertions, the confidence and encouragement it is calculated to give
them. The population of Skye has, it is true, been reduced, by the
aid of the society, from 23,500 to 20,500, but there are still thousands
there who desire to follow their friends to Australia, because they find
themselves unable to obtain employment and subsistence at home. In
the outer Hebrides there are thousands more in similar circumstances.
On the west coast of the mainland the number is nearly as great. The
Society has, in truth, but entered upon the ground it proposed to occupy;
still it is something to have made a commencement, and to have performed
perhaps about one-tenth of the work it has to do in the Highlands.
The only difficulty it has to encounter is the want of sufficient funds to
maintain a continuous stream of emigration, such as the urgency of the
distress in the Highlands and Australia demands.
The perils of that colony are such as to cause the greatest
anxiety. It is evident that agricultural and pastoral industry must
there cease to be remunerative, unless it can be supplied with labour at a
price much lower than the probable gains of a successful gold-digger.
This difficulty will be most effectually met by sending to the colony in
large numbers persons who, by their character or circumstances, or both,
are the least likely to relinquish the certain wages of ordinary service
for the more precarious gains of the diggings; and the want of enterprise
which has prevented the Highlanders--unless to a very limited extent--from
engaging in the competition that was open to them in the great marts of
industry at home, will probably make them shrink from the more formidable
and ruder competition of the diggings. What was considered a
reproach to them here is their chief excellence there.
It is to be hoped that a society constituted and conducted as
this has been will not be permitted to decline for want of means to carry
on its operations. At least a year must elapse before any part of
the money it has advanced can be recovered and become available. In
the meanwhile, much wretchedness remains, which, with ampler means, might
at once be permanently relieved. Any one who can spare three pounds
may have the gratification of placing one suffering fellow-Christian
beyond the risk of want for the future. Doubtless, there must be
many thousands, of persons in the kingdom who would gladly contribute such
a sum for the accomplishment of that object; and, through the agency of
this society, they have every facility for effecting it.
The Hercules sailed from Campbelton on the 26th ult.,
and, after contending in vain for five days with adverse and boisterous
weather, she anchored off Rothsay, in the Isle of Bute, where she is
waiting a favourable wind. So far from there having been any loss of
life, the emigrants received an addition to their number while they were
at sea. A small pamphlet has just been published by Rivington,
containing an interesting series of correspondence relating to this
gallant ship and her living freight, from the time of her arrival at
Campbelton till her temporary return to Rothsay.
A few days before the sailing of the vessel, the provost and
magistrates of Campbelton entertained at dinner in the Town-hall, Captain
Baynton and the officers of H.M.S. Hercules--the provost occupied
the chair; and the guests included some of the most influential gentlemen
of the district. The toast of "Captain Baynton and the officers of
H. M. S. Hercules," was drunk with great cordiality; and was
followed by various toasts having reference to the benevolent object of
The accompanying illustrations are from sketches by Mr.
Samuel read, taken expressly for this Journal.
* See Selections from the Printed Correspondence of
the Society. London: Trelawny Saunders, 6, Charing-cross. Two
feeling and eloquent sermons on this subject have lately been published by
Rivington, one of which was preached by the Bishop of Argyle and the
Isles, and the other by the Rev. H. Mackenzie, Vicar of St.
Martin's-in-the-Fields; and those who are interested in the history and
prospects of the Celtic race would do well to peruse them.
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
JUNE TO NOVEMBER, 1865.
HUGH MILLER AND GEOLOGY.
THE latest born and not
the least interesting among the natural sciences is Geology. It
belongs to the present century, almost to the present generation.
When the first developments in this science were made public the believers
in Revelation experienced no small alarm; even the defenders of the Faith,
regarding the stranger as an invention of the enemy, cautiously advised
the avoidance of so novel and dangerous a study. But truth, though
slow in its first movements, and opposed by preconceived opinions, never
fails in the end to triumph over prejudice. Religious toleration and
the advances made in political economy are marked evidences of the moral
power of truth, and that its progress admits of no reflux.
Among the first who successfully defended the harmony between
Geology and Sacred History was Buckland, of Oxford. “No reasonable
man can doubt,” says the Doctor, “that all the phenomena of the natural
world derive their origin from God; and no one who believes the Bible to
be the word of God has cause to fear any discrepancy between this, His
word, and the results of any discoveries respecting the nature of His
works.” Other writers have maintained the same argument. To
the lamented Hugh Miller, however, belongs the credit of having
demonstrated beyond a peradventure that the history of the world, written
by the hand of God on the rocks and in the everlasting hills, is perfectly
consistent with the inspired narrative of the servant of the Lord.
Chalmers and Pye Smith exhibit the Creation recorded in Genesis as an
event which took place about six thousand years ago; both describe it as
begun and completed in six natural days; and both represent it as cut off
from a previously existing creation by a chaotic period of death and
darkness. That is, the creation of matter took place “in the
beginning,” long antecedent to the six days of labor. This view is
generally founded upon the assumption that the first verse of Genesis is
an introduction to the Bible. Late developments, however, in Hebrew
scholarship render it probable that Moses, in writing the Book of Genesis,
was assisted by archaic records, oral or written, [Rawlinson's Evidences,
chapter ii.] which accounts for there being two histories of Creation and
two of the Flood. The arrangement of the first verse, therefore, can
not be relied upon to sustain the position, while geological
investigations prove that from the beginning until the creation of man
there was a regular systematic progress in the formation of the globe.
There is no evidence of a chaotic period, and no such theory is suited to
the “present state of geological knowledge.”
The word “YOM”
translated “day,” in the first chapter of Genesis, may with propriety be
rendered period of time, and does convey that idea in the fourth verse of
the second chapter. It may be safely assumed, therefore, in
accordance with the facts of geology, that the days of creation were
periods of great duration. Of three of these periods, viz.: (1.)
when “light was;“ (2.) when the firmament was made; (3.) when the heavenly
bodies appeared, of course no record is found in the rocks. For the
other three, viz.: (4.) the period of plants; (5.) the period of amphibia;
(6.) the period of mammalia, Hugh Miller has accounted in a manner not
less satisfactory to reason than to Revelation. And of the whole six
he has given a panoramic view in the “Vision of Creation,” as it appeared
to Moses in the “open vision,” in language unsurpassed for beauty and
sublimity in the pages of science. Jeremy Taylor has been aptly
styled the Shakspeare of theology; Hugh Miller, with equal truth, might be
called the Milton of science. “He did for geology what Burns had
done for the songs of Scotland.” He was indeed, as his beautiful
motto declares, “in league with the stones of the field” for the cause of
truth. Upon the basis of it Revelation and science are reconciled;
and, as prophesied by Buckland, “geology and religion are found potent and
consistent auxiliaries, exalting our conviction of the power, and wisdom,
and goodness of the Creator.”
The last and the finest work which Hugh Miller produced is
the “Testimony of the Rocks.” Hardly had his pen traced the
concluding lines of that noble effort of genius—the much-loved and
crowning labor of his life, upon which he had “put out all his strength,”
and worked with the “topmost pitch of intensity”—when the over-wrought
brain gave out.
Years have passed away since the event to which we have
alluded cast a gloom over the scientific world. The memory, however,
of Hugh Miller’s death is still fresh, and there is no need that we should
enlarge upon so sad a theme. Our purpose is, aided by the “Testimony
of the Rocks” and other sources of information, to give our readers a
sketch of the science to which Miller devoted his best energies, and which
he so nobly adorned.
Geology is divided into two departments—Systematic and
Descriptive. The former treats upon the structure of the earth—how
“—rose out of chaos:”
the latter, of the details of that structure, manifested in the kind,
character, and position of the constituent matter; also of organic
At the beginning the earth was composed of a burning, molten
nucleus, surrounded by a dense atmosphere of great extent, saturated with
vapor and gas. As the heat from the nucleus was radiated into space,
and the surface cooled, the minerals which are fused with most
difficulty—such as alumina, silica, and mica—formed a crust, which
gradually increased in thickness, and separated the atmosphere from the
burning mass. The vapor contained in the latter became condensed,
and the globe was encircled by a hot sea of moderate depth, holding in
solution immense quantities of minerals and chemical elements. These
were slowly deposited as the heat diminished. From time to time the
crust would give away in places, when whole oceans of water would be
precipitated into the molten nucleus, and an enormous amount of steam
generated, the expansive force of which would burst through the encircling
barrier, carrying up floods of liquid rock to overflow the surface of the
globe, and when dissolved by the water to be deposited again in various
strata. By these operations, in process of time the surface of the
earth became greatly altered. Continents were upheaved by internal
convulsions, and the waters collected into the valleys formed lakes and
seas. It was a long time, however, before the earth attained a
definite arrangement. Ages passed away ere it was fit for plants and
animals, and ages still before it was suited for the habitation of man.
Repeated deluges, violent earthquakes, varied its aspect and sometimes
almost reduced it to chaos. The birth of a world is not in a day.
What scenes the earth must have passed through can with difficulty be
imagined, or in what grand and varied forms nature must have exhibited
itself. At last the work was finished. The lofty mountains and
the low savannas assumed the relative positions marked out for them, and
the rivers returned to the seas whence they came. The internal fires
were restrained, and only by volcanic eruptions at intervals gave notice
of their existence.
Such was the mode in which the earth was formed and adapted
for the abode of man. No material changes have taken place in its
form or surface since he appeared upon the scene. That the centre is
still in a state of ignition is proven by the experiments made in the
Artesian wells near Paris and elsewhere. It has been ascertained
that at about sixty feet beneath the surface the temperature is unvaried
by the changes of the seasons, and that beyond that point the heat
increases at an average of one degree for fifty-four feet; so that at a
depth of twenty-one miles the hardest rocks would be in a state of fusion.
The surface, however, is uninfluenced by the action of the internal fires,
except in cases of earthquake or volcanic eruption. The heat which
the earth now receives, and which renders it habitable, proceeds from the
sun and the stars—the latter contributing no small amount.
The details of the general creation thus concisely described,
form the second department, or Descriptive Geology.
This branch of the science is arranged in two divisions,
viz., the Plutonic or Igneous formation, which is abnormal, and had its
origin through fire; and the Aqueous formation, which is normal or
stratified, and resulted from the action of water.
The first of these formations is composed of those portions
of the molten mass which were upheaved by the convulsions of nature, and
remained in that state unchanged by the influence of water. They are
known as massive rocks, and are always unstratified, destitute of fossils,
and more uniform in their character than the rocks of the aqueous
Sometimes veins of metal are found to have been protruded
through them when the mass was in a partially fused state, and drusic
cavities, or geodes—cavities in the rock lined with crystals—exhibit
themselves. The massive rocks are distinct in their entire
formation; no other rocks are ever found under them, except in a few
cases, where the Plutonic rock evidently overflowed the aqueous strata.
Great boulders are now and then discovered in parts of the world where
geologists affirm there is nothing that resembles them in character.
Deluges, which frequently passed over the earth, undoubtedly brought these
fragments of massive rock from their distant homes. Evidences now
exist of boulders having been transported from the northern regions by the
icebergs which annually leave the shores of Greenland.
Five groups compose the Plutonic rocks: viz., the granite and
its varieties; the greenstone, sometimes called the trap formation,
including serpentine; the porphyry, the basalt, and the volcanic rock, or
lava and scoria. An examination of the character of these rocks
would involve the science of mineralogy. Most of them are
compound—quartz, mica, and feldspar being the principal constituents.
Other elements, however, enter into some of them, and they all differ in
various respects. No rocks equal them for hardness and durability;
and the soil derived from their disintegration is generally excellent for
agricultural purposes. The neighborhood of volcanoes, where the lava
has combined with the soil, often exhibits a most luxuriant vegetation.
At the foot of Mount Vesuvius the land is remarkably fertile, and produces
the vine from which is made the Lachryamæ
Christi, the celebrated Italian wine, which some suppose to be similar to
the old Falernian so much lauded by Horace.
The second division of Descriptive Geology contains the
aqueous or stratified formations. They extend back to the remotest
period, and are rendered peculiarly interesting by fossil remains of
organic life which record the physical progress of the world through
unnumbered ages. “Geologists agree,” says Mr. Miller, “that the vast
geological scale naturally divides into three great parts.
The master divisions, in each of which we find a type of life so unlike
that of the others, that even the unpracticed eye can detect the
difference, are simply three—the Paltæozoic,
or oldest fossiliferous division; the secondary (Mesozoic), or middle
fossiliferous division; the tertiary (Kainozoic), or latest fossiliferous
division.” These divisions comprehend five classes, which are again
subdivided into formations and groups.
The first class comprises the primitive rocks.
Resulting from the combined action of fire and water, at the time the
crust of the earth was formed, they are also termed metamorphic, or
altered rocks. They include the different varieties of slate,
gneiss, and primitive limestone, and, widely distributed, they often form
part of many mountain ranges. Slate, the first of these, composed
the earliest shell of the earth, and underlies, frequently at a great
depth, all the aqueous formations. Massive rocks often pierce
through it, and exhibit veins of ore, which—especially in Scotland—are
mined to advantage. It is of various qualities, evincing the action
of heat and water in its formation. Where the former prevailed the
fossils are almost entirely obliterated. In some cases, the slate
being crystalline, there are none.
Gneiss, an arbitrary name given by miners, differs from
granite only in being stratified. No doubt it was granite
originally, thrown up from the centre of the globe and disintegrated by
water, when it became gradually deposited in strata upon the slate.
The last of these rocks is limestone, the finest specimen of
which is found in the quarries of Paros and Pentelicus, whence the
ancients derived the pure statuary marble, in which the genius of Greek
art has been so nobly perpetuated. Of this stone were made the Apollo and
the Hercules of the Vatican, works so “express and admirable” that the pen
of Winekelmann can alone interpret them. Out of this stone also was
carved the Laocoon, which Lessing has so inimitably described. And
in this stone
“—stands the statue that enchants the world,”
the Venus de Medicis, rich with
“The mingled beauties of exulting Greece.”
The second class, containing the Transition rocks, is
subdivided into two groups, the Silurian, and the Carboniferous. The
former, so called from its prevalence in Wales—Siluria being the ancient
name of that country—possesses only graywacke, a fine sandstone,
associated with lime and magnesia. The Silurian abounds in fossils,
principally polypi, which form the coral reefs, trilobites, and other
small shells. A few fishes and some plants are also found in this
group; but its peculiar treasure is the trilobite.
The other group, the carboniferous or coal formation, is
perhaps the most important in the geological scale, and the one most
intimately connected with the present interests of man. Its first
member is the Devonian or old red sandstone, from the examination of which
Mr. Miller derived a distinguished name, and the science of geology an
equivalent advantage. This stone, a coarse conglomerate, made up of
the fragments of older rocks, bound together by silica or sand, is of a
red color and attains the thickness of three thousand feet, and sometimes
constitutes mountains of itself, as the Hartz in Germany. It
overlies the graywacke and sustains the coal. Fossil fish and shells
are abundant in it, but few plants appear. Next follows the coal.
“What distinguished this period,” says Miller, “was its gorgeous flora.
It was emphatically the period of plants—of herbs yielding seed after
their kind. The youth of the earth was peculiarly an umbrageous
youth, a youth of dark and tangled forests, of stately araucarians and
tall tree ferns.” It has been determined that forests of the
greatest density must have existed in the large basins in which the coal
is principally found. These forests, overthrown by some fearful
convulsion, were calcined under enormous pressure. Hence the coal is
of various qualities, according to the amount of heat and pressure to
which it was subjected. Entire calcination produced anthracite,
or nearly pure carbon, the gas being mostly consumed; partial calcination,
bituminous coal, the hydrogen gas being retained; imperfect
calcination, the brown coal. It is an interesting fact that
microscopic examinations of the carbonized ferns show that they were not
influenced by a variety of seasons, but grew with an unchecked growth.
In connection with this point it must be remembered that we are now in the
third day, the period which preceded the appearance of the heavenly
bodies. A dense vapor then surrounded the earth and intercepted the
rays of the sun. The heat therefore which stimulated vegetation was
radiated through the crust of the earth from the internal fires, and as it
was continuous in its action, so vegetation was continuous in its growth.
Among the coal, especially the brown variety, vestiges of
plants and leaves are discovered. Whole trees even may be seen in various
states of carbonization, and in many different shapes, evincing the
numerous and singular actions they must have undergone.
The beds of coal, which sometimes lie quite deep, and in some
places crop out, vary in thickness from one to forty feet, and are mingled
with mountain limestone, coal-sandstone, and clay. The coal
measures, as they are called, exist in many parts of the world.
Russia has very little coal, and that is of an inferior quality; England
possesses a great quantity, mostly bituminous, however; while in North
America the coal measures extend from Nova Scotia to Vancouver’s Island,
comprehending all descriptions, from the inflammable cannel to the hardest
Lehigh. The mountain limestone which accompanies the coal often
contains iron ore of great value. In smelting the latter this stone
is used to form a flux, and also to crust the surface of the liquid metal
with schlag to preserve it from the oxydizing effect of the atmosphere.
Organic remains are numerous in this stratum, especially fish. Some
of these appear to have been of a very high organization, and were perhaps
allied to amphibia; they have no representatives in the present age.
Fossil trees and plants are likewise found in a great variety, and to a
great extent, and afford the ancient botanist no small pleasure. The
latter know nearly as much about extinct plants and trees as their
brethren do of those now existent. By the aid of the microscope they
are enabled to divide them up according to their respective groups,
classes, orders, genera, and species, following the artificial system of
Linnæus, and finding it as applicable to
fossil as to living flora. Coal, when carefully heated to redness
and then allowed to cool, will exhibit, under the glass, the character of
the wood from which it was formed. Leaves, too, have been brought to
light, and their nervation and indentation as certainly proven as if they
had left the tree but yesterday instead of myriads of years “before Noah
was a sailor.
Much interest attaches to ancient botany, and not a little
curious are the facts which its study reveals; but we have not space to
dwell upon it.
We have alluded to the gorgeous flora which characterized the
period of which we are now writing. Its exuberance may be explained
upon the following hypothesis, which is doubtless a correct one. The
moist atmosphere which then surrounded the earth was probably surcharged
with carbonic acid gas. This deleterious element necessarily
promoted an enormous vegetable growth, and was thus eliminated from the
atmosphere, which gradually purified in process of time we know not how
soon, became respirable for superior orders of animals. So all
things “worked together for good.”
The Palæozoic age here
terminates—”the evening and the morning were the third day.”
Destitute of animal life in all the higher forms, it was “emphatically the
period of plants as described in the Mosaic record, peculiarly a period of
herbs and trees, yielding seed after their kind.”
The first, second, and third days referred to in
Genesis, as we understand them, have now been traversed. As the
first two, however, do not belong to geology, only the last has been
specially treated. We have reached the fourth day. That
is not a geologic day; but the grand event of that day, bearing as it does
so directly and importantly upon all that follows, must not be passed over
in silence. Upon the fourth day the dense atmosphere became
rarefied, and the heavenly bodies appeared; the sun shone in upon the dank
earth with its benign and genial influences, causing all creation to
smile. Previously its operation could hardly have been appreciable.
With the sun, too, was introduced a new principle—actinism—the
life-giving influence which belongs to the sun’s ray, and acts so
powerfully in the generation of both plants and animals. Upon the
sun also depends the beauty of the world in all that relates to color.
In the Palæozoic age, the various hues
and tints which result from the action of light and heat emanating from
the sun could have had no existence; all must have been dun and dreary.
Light “was,” it is true—perhaps it was electric—but not the glorious light
of heaven. The operations, therefore, of the fourth day—the rolling
away of the dense mist, the lifting up of the thick curtain which obscured
the face of the earth, and the revelation of the “two great lights,” with
the consequences that ensued, are among the grandest themes that can be
suggested for contemplation. Indeed, the fourth day of the Mosaic
record in sublimity yields to none save the first.
We return to our subject. Now commences the fifth day—the
Mesozoic, or middle fossiliferous division—comprehending the secondary
rocks. This class is divided into four formations and as many groups.
The first Sir Roderick Murchison designates as the Permian,
from the name of that part of Russia where this formation is most
extensively developed. It contains magnesian limestone, or zechstein,
and is less distributed than any other of the stratified rocks.
Germany, after Russia, exhibits it the most; and France and England are
not without it. Its especial feature is the marl-slate, celebrated
for the richness of the copper ore which it yields; also the beds of rock
salt and gypsum which accompany it. Poland possesses extensive mines
of salt, which seem to have resulted from the evaporation of great seas,
as sea-shells, the claws of crabs, and vegetable impressions have been
found in them. In England, near Liverpool, similar mines also exist.
Secondary limestone underlies both salt and gypsum. This is quite
apparent in the salt formation of the State of New York, where the Niagara
limestone extends through a large section of the State. The same may
be said likewise of the salines in the State of Michigan. The latter
have hardly been worked, but are presumed to be of great value.
Should the prognostications in regard to the latter prove correct, they
will rival the salines of New York, and be a source of great wealth to
Michigan. Virginia has salt-mines, but the salt which they furnish
is of an impure character, and can not compete with that of New York
except for the commonest uses, in regions where the latter may not readily
The fossils of the Permian are more abundant in quantity than
variety, and do not differ much from those of the carboniferous group.
The second group, known as the Trias, or new red sandstone,
derives its name from the three members of which it is composed—the keeper
sandstone, the muschalkalk, or shell limestone, and variegated sandstone.
This formation appears in Europe and England; and in the United States
extends from Vermont to the Carolinas. It is characterized in the
former countries by gypsum and rock salt. The Trias is extremely
poor in organic remains of all kinds. The fact most interesting and
worthy of record is the evidence preserved in the variegated sandstone of
the footprints of beasts and birds. In the valley of the Connecticut
especially, the magnitude and separation of the tracks determine the birds
to have been nearly, if not quite as large as camels. In Saxony
footprints remain of the labyrinthodon, formerly called the hand-beast,
from the character of his marks. The remains of one beautiful plant
are also found in this stone well worthy of note—”the lily encrimite;
remarkable for the elegance and symmetry of its form and for its
complicated skeleton, which consisted of not less than twenty-six thousand
The third group is the Jura, embracing the oölitic
formation and the has, and obtains its appellation from the mountains of
that name. The former is subdivided into the upper, middle, and
lower oölitic—a limestone so termed from
the egg-like shape of the grains which compose it. Clay, sandstone,
and dolomite or magnesian limestone, are found mingled with the oölitic;
fossils are abundant; and it is rendered quite interesting by the caverns
which have been discovered in it, containing quantities of petrified
bones. None of them, however, belong to man. The lowest
member, the lias (layers), is distinguished by the remains of enormous
ampibia. It was the period when the Saurians lived, animals of the
lizard and crocodile species, no less remarkable for their size and length
than for their voracity. The chief were the icthyosaur, the
plesiosaur, and the pterodactylus. “It was the age,” says Miller,
“of egg-bearing animals, both winged and wingless—the age when reptiles of
the sea tempested the deep; the age of enormous creeping reptiles of the
land, and of gigantic birds; the age when the waters brought forth
The last group of the secondary is the cretaceous.
Chalk being the prominent member, it gives its name to the group, but
other strata are found in it, as clay, marl, and green sand. Fossil
shells, the remains of deep-sea animals, with a few fish and a small
number of plants, have been discovered in this formation. With chalk
flints are always associated, and are resolved by the microscope into
“agglomerates of the silicious shells of infusoria.” Among the rocks
of this class the most celebrated are those which have given the name of
Albion to England. The white cliffs of Dover are seen afar and
hailed with cries of exultation by the returning mariner as an earnest of
his home. The chalk is the last of the middle series. Thus
ends the Mesozoic period—the day in which God ‘‘created the fowl that
flieth over the earth,” the creeping thing and the tauninim of the
The Kainozoic, or latest fossiliferous division—the
Tertiary—follows. It contains but one group, the Molasse—a coarse,
loose sandstone, forming the base of the Alps—and is divided into the
Eocene, the Meiocene, and the Pleiocene, or early, middle, and later
formations. Fragments of other rocks are found cemented together
among it, and it often alternates with brown coal and limestone.
Clay, green earth, gypsum, and, near Paris, millstone are abundant.
A peculiarity of this formation is, that it appears to have proceeded in
many places from the filling up of great basins. The principal
capitals of Europe are situated in such basins. They are of marked
interest, particularly the extensive Molasse basin of Paris. In the
United States this formation extends along the Atlantic coast from Long
Island to Louisiana, sometimes reaching inland, as in the valley of the
Mississippi, which is one great Molasse basin, and evinces no sign of
having ever been disturbed by inferior strata.
The organic remains exhibited in the Tertiary distinguish it
as the period of the Mammalia. Its flora is not remarkable, its
reptiles occupy no important place, but its animals almost exceed
credibility. For this reason it is called the elephantoid epoch—the
epoch of the pachyderms, elephanti, rhinoceri, and hippopotami, animals of
the hog genus, which surpassed the largest animal of the present day, as
the tiger surpasses the cat, and whose number was so vast that “ivory
quarries” of their bones are found in Siberia, and even the local museums
in England are stored with specimens. The latter, however, probably
came from a little later formation—the diluvium. Herbaceous and
carnivorous animals of the types now existent, as the deer, horse, wild
cattle, lions, tigers, bears, hyenas, etc., existed in immense numbers,
and attained a prodigious size. It was the age of beasts: of the
dinotherium of Mayence, the greatest of all beasts, a behemoth among
elephants; the age of the Megatherium of Cuvier; the ponderous sloth, the
laziest of all beasts—the age of animal life.
The Quarternary rocks—the Alluvium and Diluvium —close the
Kainozoic age, and the aqueous formations. The gradual
disintegration of rock, the slacking of various minerals, the falling down
of matter and the movement of the waters through many ages, often
increased by deluges, deposited and diffused the different earths and
soils which now render the fields susceptible of cultivation. The
rivers rolled down quantities of matter in their turbid courses, and
deposited them at their embouchures. Thus the deltas of the Nile and
the Mississippi were formed, and have not occupied less than a million of
years. Floods undoubtedly passed over the globe, carrying boulders
from one region to another, filling up basins, washing down hills,
distributing the debris of mountain rocks in their progress, and
diversifying the surface of the earth. The centre of the State of
New York, known as the Onondaga Salt Basin, is one of these diluvial
deposits, superimposed upon the Niagara limestone. It derives its
salt from the formation on its southern boundary; hence the superiority of
the Syracuse to the Salina wells. Alluvial soil increased wherever
climate would permit, and often attained great depths, as in the bottom
lands of the United States, and some of the most fertile parts of Europe.
The flora of this epoch was similar to that of the present day, but more
luxuriant, and, owing to a higher temperature and a more equable climate
throughout the world, exhibited much less the influence of latitude.
Life, too, was expressed in every form, from the smallest to the largest
species—from the bird to the mammoth. One example may illustrate it.
"Grand indeed," says an English naturalist, “was the fauna of the British
islands in those early days. Tigers as large again as the biggest
Asiatic species lurked in the ancient thickets; elephants of nearly twice
the bulk of the individuals that now exist in Africa or Ceylon roamed in
herds; rhinoceri forced their way through the primeval forest; and the
lakes and rivers were tenanted by hippopotami, as bulky and with as great
tusks as those of Africa. The massive cave-bear and hyena belonged
to the same group, with great oxen, and an elk ten feet in height.”
Truly, adds Mr. Miller, “this Tertiary age—this third and last of the
great geological periods—was peculiarly the age of great beasts of the
earth after their kind, and of cattle after their kind.” For this
age desolations were likewise appointed; the exuberance of life was
crushed out by fearful cataclysms and throes which shook the globe to its
centre; and the preparation of the earth for its high destiny was
continued through countless ages of time.
The sixth day of Moses—the sixth grand period of the genesis
of the world which has been thus rapidly and succinctly delineated—was now
drawing to a close. The earth had been long, long quiet; no
convulsions disturbed the face of nature; all was repose. The
ever-revolving seasons, and the gray eve and the ruddy morn returned anon
to bless creation; and the “bright eyes” of heaven “rained influence.”
“ ____Earth in her rich attire
Consummate lovely smiled; air, water, earth,
By fowl, fish, beast, was flown, was swum, was walked
Frequent; and of the sixth day yet remained:
There wanted yet the master-work, the end
Of all yet done.”
With the advent of man the labor of creation terminated.
Adam, “the goodliest of men,” came from the hand of God to rule the
glorious heritage, “the image of his Maker.” How majestic he was in
his original uprightness, how admirable, how beautiful his abode, may be
gathered from the words of Dr. South: “Aristotle was but the rubbish of an
Adam, and Athens but the rudiments of Paradise.”
“From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began;
From harmony to harmony,
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in man.”
The beauty was not to last. Sin soon entered and marred
the fair creation; and God, who had rested from all his work, hallowed the
seventh day—the present period—by commencing the task of the redemption of
His fallen race. In the great Sabbath of God is worked out the
restoration of man, and the glory of the creation perfected through the
sacrifice of the Eternal Son, “by whom are all things.”
Since the advent of man no great derangement of the earth has
occurred. The Noachic deluge, though universal for man, was, as is
clearly proven by the records in the hills, confined to the portion of the
globe then inhabited. It was a judgment, the first of God’s great
visitations in wrath for the sins of man, but it was not without mercy.
The seventh day—the last great period with which the “grand
drama” must close—progresses; nearly sixty centuries have passed away, and
nature still is quiet. To man it seems as if it could never
change—that seed-time and harvest would endure forever. It is the
period of forbearance. Another convulsion must come, more awful than
any that have preceded it; again “the elements will melt with fervent
But what then? “The general tenor of prophecy, and the
analogies of the Divine dealings,” says Alford, “all point unmistakably to
this earth, purified and renewed, as the eternal habitation of the
blessed.” When the last fearful day shall have been numbered, the
purposes of God completed, and His word fulfilled, the “new earth,” purged
from corruption and redeemed from sin—the Paradise of the faithful in
Christ—will abide in an everlasting Sabbath. “But of that day
knoweth no man.”