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which protects them from the farther operation of these destructive agents.
M. DE LUC next enters minutely into the discussion of another of the leading features of the Huttonian hypothesis, respecting the formation of valleys. Dr. Hutton supposed that these were in all cases excavated by the action of currents of water hollowing out for themselves a passage along what was originally a flat surface; while M. DE LUC conceives that the action of these currents, even admitting their existence, could not possibly be adequate to the effect produced, and that the operation of rivers must be rather to fill up cavities previously made, than to form new. On the summits of the highest Alps, are immense chasms which could never have been formed by the action of water, for whence could any torrents sufficiently powerful proceed in such situations? Where any great change is effected by the force of rivers, it is Father in sweeping away the wrecks and fragments already detached, than in wearing down the solid strata of rocks; and in general it is more natural to conclude that rivers flow along hollows previously existing, than that these hollows have been themselves formed by the rivers. When rivers have any effect in making a channel for themselves, it appears to be through materials that have been deposited there by some other cause.
The author now proceeds to make some observations on that part of the hypothesis of his antagonists which refers to the extreme antiquity of the world. The changes which they suppose to be operating, even allowing them to be adequate to the object, must have required a long series of ages; whereas many circumstances would lead us to conclude that the present state of things is of much more recent origin. M. DE LUC thinks that it is not impossible to ascertain the age of the world with some degree of accuracy; he points out particular situations in which we observe additional matter deposited at the mouths of rivers, or at the bases of mountains and by noticing the rate at which the accumulation proceeds, and the quantity of matter accumulated, (data which it is not difficult to obtain,) we arrive at the period at which these processes commenced. The age of the world, according to this method of calculation, will not be very different from that which is assigned to it in the Mosaic account of the creation.
On the formation of the great basons which constitute inland lakes, the hypothesis of Dr. Hutton appears to us extremely imperfect, and the deficiency is not satisfactorily supplied by Professor Playfair. It seems impossible to believe that these can ever have been produced by currents of water
flowing through them, with whatever degree of violence ; whereas the difficulty is removed by supposing that these, as well as the beds of rivers and the chasms of mountains, have been formed by some cause originally producing great inequalities in the surface of the earth. It then only remains to shew that some great catastrophe, sufficiently powerful to derange the whole face of the globe, has taken place; and this appears to be almost proved by the fact first distinctly announced by Saussure, that all the strata of which the globe is composed were originally horizontal. At the same time that the strata were broken down into their present irregular state, which must have been effected by some violent operation, the chasms of mountains, the channels of rivers, and the beds of lakes, were produced. The nature of this catastrophe can only be conjectured, but it does not appear necessary to have recourse to the internal fires which enter into the hypothesis of Dr. Hutton; and even independently of the circumstance of this being a gratuitous supposition, merely called in to solve a difficulty or to explain phænomena, it does not seem to be so well adapted for this purpose as at first view it may be conceived. As this point composes so fundamental an article in the hypothesis which he is controverting, M. DE LUC examines it very minutely, and displays much acuteness in his objections to it: but as it is a question which has been so very often discussed, and it would be impossible, in the narrow limits to which we are restricted, to do justice to the arguments, we shall take the liberty of referring our readers to the original.
Towards the conclusion of the volume, the author lays down a series of general propositions, which may be considered as the leading features of his geological hypothesis, and which we shall quote without abridgment:
1. All our mineral strata have been successively produced by chemical precipitations from a primordial fluid. 2. The first of these precipitations, which are the most antient monuments of physical operations, beyond which we are no farther guided by observations on the earth, have produced the strata of granite and the contem porary substances. 3. During these precipitations, continuing for a long time in different genera and species, the strata thus produced experienced different catastrophes, proceeding from the successive formation of cavities under their mass, owing to the infiltration of fluid into the interior of the globe; from which circumstance also resulted a cause of change in the nature of the precipitations. 4. At the same time that these operations were going forwards at the bottom of the sea, after the formation of granite and the other primordial strata, continents existed which were furnished with vegetables and animals; for although the whole extent of our continents has been visibly occupied by the sea until the time of its retreat, we find,
as well in their interior parts as in their boundaries, many terrestrial organized bodies, in the strata that are posterior to those which are primordial. 5. The vegetables and animals, the remains of which are buried in these marine strata, were then surrounded by the sea: they were in islands formed by the rupture of long peninsulas, resulting from prior catastrophes; during which a part of the fluid, having filtered into the interior of the globe, had left uncovered these eminencies formed at its bottom. A number of these eminencies, already peopled, and separated from each other by some catas trophes, experienced new changes by simple subsidence, which caused them to sink below the level of the sea, where the animal} and vege table remains were covered by mineral strata, some become stony, and others continuing in a disunited state. At length, by new catastrophes, always affecting the whole mass of the strata from their base, these new strata subsided, and experienced ruptures and angular motions in the same manner with the former strata; circumstances which characterize the theatre of these scenes. 6. The retreat of the sea, from above these parts of the globe, has been produced by the sinking of these continents, whence have proceeded the vege tables and animals of the islands; of which some that existed in many parts of this antient sea, being become the summits of these mountains, have been the principal source of their vegetables and animals.'
These propositions may be considered as exhibiting a general view of the geological hypothesis that is opposed to the system of Dr. Hutton and Mr. Playfair; and probably our readers will agree with us in thinking that it is on many accounts to be preferred. Although it be not without its difficulties, they are less numerous and formidable; no imaginary agents are introduced; and no operation is supposed to have taken place, which does not seem to be countenanced by natural appearances. M. DE LUC is intitled to the praise of candour and ingenuousness; he speaks of his antagonists with respect; and he liberally acknowleges their merit. His work is generally well written as to style: but it is defective in arrangement; and it contains too much repetition, partly owing to the insertion of the letters to Dr. Hutton, which supply the same statements that occur in the subsequent parts of the volume. We do not hesitate to say, however, that it will support the reputation of the author, and will promote the interests of science.
ART. VII. Du Genie des Peuples Anciens ; &c. ; i. e. On the Genius of the Antients; or an historical and literary View of the Developement of the Human Mind among the People of Antiquity, from the earliest known Periods to the Commencement of the Christian Era. By Madame V. DE C********. 4 Vols. Svo. Paris. 1808. Imported by Deconchy. Price zl. 8s. sewed.
We have lately met with many French publications, which af
ford a combined view of antient history and literature; and we have now before us another production of that nature, from the pen of a female. It is so comprehensive in design as necessarily to be superficial in parts: but it gives so good a general idea of the character and spirit of every different age and country, from the earliest times to the Christian æra, and is written in so natural and pleasing a style, that we would recommend it as an excellent book of instruction (with some cautions which we shall subjoin) to all young proficients in the French language. We shall present our readers with an abstract of the contents of the work, and endeavour to corroborate our favourable sentiments of it by quotations from each volume; and though we shall find occasions, also, for dissenting in some particular instances from the opinions of the fair author, yet her writings must reflect additional honour on the country which has produced so many brilliant examples of female genius.
The first volume is arranged in four Epochs, and the first of these divisions contains an account of the progress of the human mind, as developed in the only history extant, from the creation to about the fifteenth century before Christ, or to the times of Moses and of Cecrops. Madame DE C., we should premise, is not scrupulously exact in the settlement of chronological disputes, but adopts the most commonly received æra without examination; and indeed the comprehensiveness of her plan rendered such an acquiescence in other authorities perfectly indispensable. This division comprizes her first book, which is subdivided into five chapters: chapter 1. follows the Mosaic history, from the beginning to the twentieth century before Christ, or the age of Abraham: chapter 2. discusses the antiquity of the book of Job, and presents us with sufficient extracts from that book, but of the nature of the writer's criticisms we shall speak hereafter: chapter 3. treats of the times from the twentieth century to the fifteenth before Christ, or from the age of Abraham to that of Moses and Joshua, of Cecrops and Danaus: chapter 4. animadverts on the books of Moses; and chapter 5. on the book of Joshua. -The second epoch extends from the fifteenth century to about the tenth before Christ, or from the times of Joshua and
Cecrops to those of Solomon and of the Ionian emigration. In this Epoch, which occupies the second book, we read first of the Greeks, and of all other known people, excepting the Jews, during the five centuries above-mentioned; in the 2d chapter, of the Jews, and of their historical books, during the same period; and in the 3d is contained an examination of the Psalms of David.
Epoch III. embraces the record of nearly two hundred and fifty years; that is, the events which passed between the tenth century and about the middle of the eighth before Christ, or between the times of Solomon and the Ionian emigration, and those of the foundation of Rome. This Epoch also fills a book; the first chapter of which treats of the Jews and their historical writings during the period stated above the 2d chapter examines and cites the writings of Solomon the 3d takes notice of Lokman and Sanchoniathon the 4th contains a comparative survey of the state of Greece for the whole of this epoch: the 5th remarks on the poems of Homer; the 6th on those of Hesiod: the 7th celebrates the origin of Carthage; and the 8th relates the foundation of Rome.
The fourth Epoch reaches from the last mentioned æra, or from the middle of the eighth century, to the fifth before our Saviour, when the kingly power was abolished at Rome; from the beginning of the Persian empire to the reign of Darius Hystaspes; from the first regularly counted Olympiads to the commencement of the Persian war with Greece; and from the captivity of the tribes of Israel to the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem. This Epoch contains two books, the fourth and fifth of the history: the fourth book treats of the kingdoms of Asia and Egypt, for the whole period, in its first chapter; in the second, it introduces Zoroaster, and his doctrines; in the third, it touches on the Scythians and Sarmatians; in the fourth, we have an account of the Chinese, of Chinese books, of Confucius and his writings; the fifth chapter returns to the Jews for the same period; the sixth reviews the books of Tobit and of Judith; and the seventh enters on the prophecies. Book V. is divided into three chapters; the first relates the affairs of Greece for the period corresponding to that in which the affairs of the Jews and of the other Asiatic nations have been related in the fourth book the second discusses the poetry, the philosophy, and the arts of the Greeks for the same length of time; and the third pays similar attention to the history of Rome.
Having arrived at the 5th century before Christ, we shall here pause, and attempt to enliven the dryness of an analysis