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thot forth rays, fent out sparks, made explosions, and afterwards undergone, as they cooled, different ebullitions, according as water, air, and other matters, which could not bear fire, fell upon their surface-then-the production and conflict of the elements, could not but produce the inequalities, asperities, depths, heights, and caverns, both at the surface, and in the first strata of the interior of those great bodies. Hence we are to date the formation of the highest mountains in our globe, of the mountains in the moon (where our Author seems to have peculiar correspondence and connexions), and all the inequalities thai have been observed in the planets.
All this is mazing philofophy! and the long and ample physical reasonings employed by M. DE Buffon, to render it fpecious, are still more amazing. They have some sort of affinity to each other; but the whole chain hangs upon nothing: It is a fairy tale, in all the extent of that term; but it is amusing, and as a romance, may produce entertainment. What, for example, can be more amusing, than his account of the formation of the moon ? This planet, according to him, owes its existence to some of one leis dense parts of the earth, projected from the equator, where its rotation is the most rapid, and which, by their mutual attraction, gathered themselves together (like an army rallying in Hight), at a distance of between 2 and 300,000 miles, to om te lunar globe. The satellites of the other planets vere produced by similar projections; and the upshot of this first epocha is, that our globe, considering its period of fluidity -- and that of its white heat (incandescence) the former of which lasted (as our Author's correspondents, we suppose, have informed him) 34,270 years, and the latter 2936, there must have elapsed a duration of 37,206 years, before any living being could start up out of the mud in our globe,-or (as the Author expresses it) the end of this period was the first moment in which the birth of any living being was possible.
The earth being come to a state of folidity, which forms the second Epocha of Nature, the act of refrigeration (as happens in the cooling of a mass of fluid metal) must have formed inequalities, cavities, swellings, bulgings, and afperitics on or near the surface of the earth, which still exist in our hills, vallies, caverns, and chains of mountains. These chains of mountains, produced by the combat of cold with matter in fusion belong to this second epocha, and preceded, many ages, the formation of calcareous hills, which could not exist before the settlement of the waters on our globe, as their composition fupposes the existence of thell-filh.- But as yet the waters were all in the atmosphere of the earth; the surface of which, though folid, was nevertheless, not cold enough to give the waters a permanent residence, nor to prevent their being exhaled in vapours
as they fell. It was now, i. e. in this epocha, or in the first 37,000 years of the globe, that the great veins of metals, which we find in the mines, were formed by fublimation. In a word, the surface of the earth, during this epocha, was a dry skeleton, destitute of seas, and calcareous hills, as also of all those horizontal sirata of stone, chalk, vegetable earth, clay, and all those substances, whether fuid or folid, that were afterwards deposited by the waters : it exhibited only the arid aspect of a vitrifiable rock-perpendicular chinks produced in the time of its consolidation,-metals and fixed minerals, which, being reparated from the vitrifiable rock by the action of fire, filled by fusion or sublimation, the chinks of the internal rock of the globe, and so on. We must not pretend to follow our Author in all the particuĮars he enumerates, relative to the topography of the globe in this second epocha; but we cannot help obferving, how ingeniously he avails himself, in favour of his hypothesis, of a fact, which is not unworthy of attention, that the highest parts of the great ridges of mountains in Africa and America, are in both these countries under the equator.
When the earth cooled to such a degree, as to receive the water from the atmosphere, without fending it back in vapours, the waters fell in immense quaniities, and covered our continents, about 36,000 years after the formation of the planets; and this introduces the Third Epocha. The shells and other marine productions, that are found in the Aips, and in the Pyrenées, are proofs, that the sea, in ancient times, covered the continent of Europe, to the height of 1500 fathoms above its present level; and proofs of a similar nature are alleged, by our Author, with respect to the continents in other parts of the globe. It was during this period, which takes in the space of 14,000 years, that the greatest changes and revolutions were effectuated in the terrestrial globe. The suppofitions of our Author are no where more audacious than in this epocha,- for he begins by telling us, that several species of animals were then loft, which had no analogy with the filh and other aquatics, that now inhabit the ocean. How does he know this ? He concludes it, from supfosing, that at the first descent of the waters upon the earth, their animal productions must have been adapted to the intense degree of heat that must have taken place for some time. But why suppose that the waters were boiling hot?—and if they were—why fuppose that fish were formed in them before they cooled, unless the Author can produce some fragments, or records, of those primitive aquatic animals ? This accumulation of visionary inventions becomes irksome.- As to our Author's description of the effects of this tremendous water-fall, it is more interesting, because, amidst the exuberance of fancy and fable, we can discern some mixture or appearance of truth. This description
is poetical, pi&turesque, and terrible. The separation of the elements of water and air, the shocks of waves and tempests falling with fury on the arid, burning and smoking earth, the internal vaults and caverns of the earth overwhelmed in ruins by the waters forcing for themselves subterraneous paffages, and thus producing a fucceffive lowering of the ocean, are here painted at full length, with a pencil that Homer and Milton would smile to see in the hands of a natural historian, and that Newton would behold with a loud laugh in the hands of a natural philosopher: the two former would claim him as a deserter from Parnassus,-and if he fled to the latter for refuge, he would certainly give him up.
Amidst this hock and conflict of elements, water mixed with air, earth and fire transformed the scoria and fandy particles of the primitive glasfy substance into clay, and by its motion changed their place. NATURE (our Author's goddess) being then in her prime vigour (zuhich is somewhat surprising, after fbe had cooled and loft so much of her fire) fell to work with organic and living matter. Where did the get it ? if she made it the looks something like a god,--if lhe did not make it, and it did not make itself, what is the conclusion ?-But let us not interrupt our Historian by troublesome questions. Nature, then, being in her prime vigour, gave existence to those gigantic productions, which seem to have been frequent in the first ages of the world, and to many classes of beings, which are now extinct since the earth has lost the degree of heat that is neceffary to their propagation. Our Author, both here, and in notes annexed to the work before us, endeavours to prove, by a variety of circumstances and testimonies, the former existence of these beings; and he resumes alfo, in a few words, the arguments he had before used in his theory of the earth, to prove that its present surface was arranged by the waters, and formed from their fediment. The argillaceous earths, or clays, were first formed; and, after them, the first shell-filh and vegetables came forth into existence, and in proportion as they perished, the fragments of the former produced calcareous stones, and thofe of the latter, bitumens and coals, while the waters, by their motion, constructed the organization of the earth's surface by horizontal strata, while the currents of these waters produced those salient and re-entering angles that form its contours, or external figure. Moreover, as the waters funk by the means already mentioned, the lands, which they had covered, seemed to emerge, and their surface exhibited a multitude of marine productions.
As the action of the sun is much stronger in the equatorial parts of the globe than elsewhere, our Author concludes, that the polar regions were cooled before those of the equator, and consequently inhabited before them. But when the waters,
which fell first towards the poles, directed their course towards the equator, and arrived there, then, says our Author, the lands of the torrid zone became the theatre of the moft convulfive revolutions, as may be concluded, says he, from a superficial view of a geographical globe; for the whole space between the circles of that zone exhibits nothing but the fragments of continents overwhelmed, and lands sunk or shattered: the immense quantity of ifles, streights, shallows, quick-sands, arms of the sea, &c. indicate great finkings in the lands of the equatorial region, and hence the lowering and retreat of the ocean * which covered our continents.
This retreat of the waters, and the origin of volcanos, form the fourth epocha; and here the details, into which our Author enters, are ample and circumstantial. Of all this we can only give the following sketch : The vast quantity of substances carried along with the impetuous waters, and deposited by them in the lower parts of the globe, where there were already mineral substances sublimated by the intense heat of the earth, formed the first materials, and the firit aliment for future volcanos. The most ancient of these (for they date from very different periods) could not act at least in a permanent manner before the finking of the ocean, which had covered all the earth, except the summits of some mountains. The marine volcanos can only form temporary explosions; for the same instant that the fire is kindled by the effervescence of pyritous and combustible matters, it is extinguished by the water, which rushes into their furnace by all the openings which the fire makes to force its paffage. The terrestrial volcanos have, on the contrary, a permanent action, proportioned to the quantity of matter they contain; but they require a certain quantity of water to put them in effervescence; and it is by the shock of a volume of wa. ter against a volume of fire, that their eruptions are produced so that they could not act until the waters funk into the cavities of the earth, and they cease to act when the waters retire from their neighbourhood : hence so many extinguished volcanos in those countries, which the fea has abandoned ; and hence we learn why the volcanos, that are still in action, are those which are placed in islands, or near the sea.coafts. We cannot see acutely enough to take an accurate view of iliele terrible firea engines; but as our Author looks upon the proper and intrinsic heat of the globe to be the ground and basis of the electrical matter, so does he think that electricity 'is a very considerable agent in earthquakes and volcanos. He explains ingeniously (For he has wit and inexhaustible invention at command) how it comes to pass, that the continual emanations of this terrestrial heat, though palpably felt, are not visible, and remain under the form of an cbfcure warmth, as long as their motion is free;
but produce a lively fire, and strong explosions, when they are either forced out of their natural direction, or accumulated by the friction of bodies. Until the volcanos began to act, there were but three matters on our globe; the vitrifiable, formed by fire; the calcareous, by water; and all the other substances produced by the putrefaction and decomposition of animals and vegetables. The fire of volcanos has contributed to the formation of a fourth clafs of substances, some of which partake of the nature of the three already mentioned, though others seem exempt from all mixture. Their explosions formed new islands -the'r lava covered all the lands contiguous to these explosions with greater or smaller quantities of their contents-the volca. . nos, by successive eruptions, formed new beds of lava; and these beds becoming fertile, in process of time, furnish, according to our Author, an invincible proof that the primitive furface of the earth, first in fufion, and afterwards consolidated, may have been also endued with fecundity.----It was only at the end of this epocha, which carries the age of our globe to its 56th or 60,ocoth year, that we can date the birth of terrestrial animals, says M. de Buffon.
[To be concluded in our Review for February ]
XI. Catalogue Raisonné des Manuscrits conservés dans la Bibliothique de la
Ville & Republique de Geneve.- A Descriptive and Critical Catalogue of the Manuscripts deposited in the Library of Geneva, by the Rev. John Sennebier, Librarian of the Republic of Geneva, &c. 8vo. Geneva, 1779: HIS publication doth as much honour to the literary
merit of M. Sennebier, as his other productions do to his abilities in philosophical investigation. The utility of works of this kind is unquestionable. Many valuable discoveries are made by the study of manuscripts. They not only contribute to the correction and improvement of the text of ancient authors, and to illustrate obscure passages, but they may often be employed to settle dubious points of history, and to throw light upon the origin of customs, manners, forms of civil government, and many first springs in the political conftitutions of different nations. Our Author observes, in a very fenfible and judicious Preface to this catalogue, that the learned M. Lefling, librarian to the duke of Brunswic, has found, in the library of Wolfenbuttel, several unknown books and manuscripts that illustrate, in a singular manner, the civil, ecclefiaftical, and moral history of the middle age: and, certainly, however barbarous and uncuttivated any period of time may seem to be, yet every thing that relates to the knowledge of man, merits the curiosity and aitention of a philosopher, ४