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shown by an examination of log-books, made straight for the Gulf Stream; joining it, they have then been known to turn about, and, traveling with this stream, to recross the Atlantic, and so reach the shores of Europe. In this way the tracks of storms have been traced out and followed for a week or ten days. Their path is marked by wreck and disaster. At the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1854, Mr. Redfield mentioned one which he had traced out, and in which no less than seventy odd vessels had been wrecked, dismasted, or damaged.
THE PERFECT ADAPTATION OF NATURE
WE see the light beginning to break upon us, for we now begin to perceive why it is that the proportions between the land and water were made as we find them in nature. If there had been more water and less land, we should have had more rain, and vice versa; and then climates would have been different from what they now are, and the inhabitants, animal or vegetable, would not have been as they are. And as they are, that wise Being who, in His kind providence, so watches over and regards the things of this world that He takes notice of the sparrow's fall, and numbers the very hairs of our head, doubtless designed them to be.
The mind is delighted, and the imagination charmed, by contemplating the physical arrangements of the earth from such points of view as these are which we now have before us; from it the sea, and the air, and the land, appear each as a part of that grand machinery upon which the well-being of all the inhabitants of earth, sea, and air depend; and which in the beautiful adaptations that we are pointing out, afford new and striking evidence that they all have their origin in ONE omniscient idea, just as the different parts of a watch may be considered to have been constructed and arranged according to one human design.
In some parts of the earth, the precipitation is greater than the evaporation; thus the amount of water borne down by every river that runs into the sea may be considered as the
excess of the precipitation over the evaporation that takes place in the valley drained by that river.
This excess comes from the sea; the winds convey it to the interior; and the forces of gravity, dashing it along in mountain torrents or gentle streams, hurry it back to the sea again.
In other parts of the earth, the evaporation and precipitation are exactly equal, as in those inland basins such as that in which the city of Mexico, Lake Titicaca, the Caspian Sea, etc., etc., are situated, which basins have no ocean drainage.
If more rain fell in the valley of the Caspian Sea than is evaporated from it, that sea would finally get full and overflow the whole of that great basin. If less fell than is evaporated from it again, then that sea, in the course of time, would dry up, and plants and animals there would all perish for the want of water.
In the sheets of water which we find distributed over that and every other inhabitable inland basin, we see reservoirs or evaporating surfaces just sufficient for the supply of that degree of moisture which is best adapted to the well-being of the plants and animals that people such basins.
In other parts of the earth still, we find places, as the Desert of Sahara, in which neither evaporation nor precipitation takes place, and in which we find neither plant nor animal.
In contemplating the system of terrestrial adaptations, these researches teach one to regard the mountain ranges and the great deserts of the earth as the astronomer does the counterpoises to his telescope-though they be mere dead weights, they are, nevertheless, necessary to make the balance complete, the adjustments of his machine perfect. These counterpoises give ease to the motions, stability to the performance, and accuracy to the workings of the instrument. They are "compensations."
Whenever I turn to contemplate the works of nature, I am struck with the admirable system of compensation, with the beauty and nicety with which every department is poised by the others; things and principles are meted out in directions apparently the most opposite, but in proportions so ex
actly balanced and nicely adjusted that results the most harmonious are produced.
It is by the action of opposite and compensating forces that the earth is kept in its orbit, and the stars are held suspended in the azure vault of heaven; and these forces are so exquisitely adjusted, that, at the end of a thousand years the earth, the sun, and moon, and every star in the firmament, is found to come and stand in its proper place at the proper
Nay, philosophy teaches us that when the little snowdrop which in our garden-walks we see raising its beautiful head, at "the singing of birds," to remind us that "the winter is passed and gone," was created, the whole mass of the earth, from pole to pole, and from circumference to centre, must have been taken into account and weighed, in order that the proper degree of strength might be given to its tiny fibres. Botanists tell us that the constituiton of this plant is such as to require that, at a certain stage of its growth, the stalk should bend, and the flower should bow its head, that an operation may take place which is necessary in order that the herb should produce seed after its kind; and that, after this fecundation, its vegetable health requires that it should lift its head. again and stand erect. Now, if the mass of the earth had been greater or less, the force of gravity would have been different; in that case, the strength of fibre in the snow-drop, as it is, would have been too much or too little; the plant could not bow or raise its head at the right time, fecundation could not take place, and its family would have become extinct with the first individual that was planted, because its "seed" would not have been "in itself," and therefore it could not have reproduced itself, and its creation would have been a failure.
Now, if we see such perfect adaptation, such exquisite adjustment, in the case of one of the smallest flowers of the field, how much more may we not expect "compensation" in the atmosphere and the ocean, upon the right adjustment and due performance of which depends not only the life of that plant, but the well-being of every individual that is found in the entire vegetable and animal kingdoms of the world? When the east winds blow along the Atlantic coast for a little while, they bring us air saturated with moisture from the
Gulf Stream, and we complain of the sultry, oppressive, heavy atmosphere; the invalid grows worse, and the well man feels ill, because, when he takes this atmosphere into his lungs, it is already so charged with moisture that it can not take up and carry off that which encumbers his lungs, and which nature has caused his blood to bring and leave there, that respiration may take up and carry off. At other times the air is dry and hot; he feels that it is conveying off matter from the lungs too fast; he realizes the idea that it is consuming him, and he calls the sensation burning.
Therefore, in considering the general laws which govern the physical agents of the universe, and regulate them in the due performance of their offices, I have felt myself constrained to set out with the assumption that, if the atmosphere had had a greater or less capacity for moisture, or if the proportion of land and water had been different-if the earth, air, and water had not been in exact counterpoise-the whole arrangement of the animal and vegetable kingdoms would have varied from their present state. But God, for reasons which man may never know, chose to make those kingdoms what they are; for this purpose it was necessary, in His judgment, to establish the proportions between the land and water, and the desert, just as they are, and to make the capacity of the air to circulate heat and moisture just what it is, and to have it to do all its work in obedience to law and in subservience to order. If it were not so, why was power given to the winds to lift up and transport moisture, and to feed the plants with nourishment? or why was the property given to the sea by which its waters may become first vapor, and then fruitful showers, or gentle dews? If the proportions and properties of land, sea, and air were not adjusted according to the recip rocal capacities of all to perform the functions required by each, why should we be told that He "measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and comprehended the dust in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?" Why did He span the heavens, but that He might mete out the atmosphere in exact proportion to all the rest, and impart to it those properties and powers which it was necessary for it to have, in order that it might perform all those offices and duties for which He designed it?
Harmonious in their action, the air and sea are obedient to law and subject to order in all their movements; when we consult them in the performance of their manifold and marvelous offices, they teach us lessons concerning the wonders of the deep, the mysteries of the sky, the greatness, and the wisdom, and goodness of the Creator, which make us wiser and better men. The investigations into the broad-spreading circle of phenomena connected with the winds of heaven and the waves of the sea are second to none for the good which they do and the lessons which they teach. The astronomer is said to see the hand of God in the sky; but does not the rightminded mariner, who looks aloft as he ponders over these things, hear His voice in every wave of the sea that "claps its hands," and feel His presence in every breeze that blows?
RULES OF CONDUCT
Extracts from an Address delivered to the Students of The University of Virginia, 1855. This selection and those following are from the Life of Matthew Fontaine Maury,' compiled by his daughter, Diana Fontaine Maury Corbin.
IN entering upon your duties as a citizen, recollect your excellent training here: it has given you many advantages; therefore, do not neglect to lay down rules of conduct by which they may be most improved.
Whatever may be the degree of success that I have met with in life, I attribute it, in a great measure, to the adoption of such rules. One was, never to let the mind be idle for want of useful occupation, but always to have in reserve subjects of thought or study for the leisure moments and the quiet hours of the night. When you read a book, let it be with the view to special information.
The habits of mind to be thus attained are good, and the information useful.
It is surprising how difficult one who attempts to follow this rule finds it at first to provide himself with subjects for thought--to think of something that he does not know. In our ignorance our horizon is very contracted: mists, clouds, and darkness hang upon it, and self fills almost the entire view around, above, and below to the utmost verge. But as we