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property there can be little doubt; and in proof of the latter, mi. merous instances are upon record in the collieries of this country, and in other circumstances of a less frequent or more adventitious occurrence.
It is, indeed, a question, whether the coasts of most islands, which may not for many years have been too rudely exposed to the beating of the sea, do not bear symptoms of volcanic matter. In the month of August, 1751, the cliffs near Charmouth, in Dorsetshire, too's fire, in consequence of a heavy fall of rain, after a hot and dry season; and they continued to emit flames for several years. These cliffs consist of a dark-colored bituminous loam, in which are embedded large quantities of the different kinds of the pyrites. · Now, although iron and sulphur would remain mixed together for ages, without taking fire, if they were either kept free from moisture, or drenched with too much water; yet, as water is almost every where to be found in such plenty below the surface of the earth, as to constitute one of the greatest impediments to our sinking pits to any considerable depth, and as air, if it should be thought necessary to the spontaneous firing of the pyrites, may be conceived either to accompany the water in its dripping, or to descend into the innermost parts of the earth, through the fissures which are so common upon its surface, it is not difficult to conceive, that both these causes must have operated most powerfully at the universal deluge, and that the pyrites of the earth, if ever accessible to the encroachments of the aqueous element, would then have been peculiarly exposed to its more striking and violent effects.
The fact of subterraneous fires, by the operation of pyrites, is, indeed, too well established to need even the small digression upon which I have entered in its support, and it would savour rather of ignorance than scepticism, to doubt of the probability of such fires being.common to the internal composition of the earth in general, or that their inherent powers might not have been operated upon by the all-powerful and searching influence of the de luge; and, therefore, admitting for a moment, the possibility of a subterraneous line of ignition pervading the bowels of the earth, from about 50 degrees North to about 30 degrees South, latitude ;
the disruption of the American Continent, from Europe and Africa, must have been the inevitable and natural consequence; whilst the Indian Sea, working itself in a torrent round the Cape, in the small channel thus opened, would stem with infinite vio. lence against the western hemisphere; and the latter, being disa united, even to its base, would, though to all appearance, floating off from its original line of cohesion, in fact, have its foundations still touching, in its course, upon those of the old world, till the relative position of the two hemispheres, thus separated, would become changed from the lateral to the superincumbent, as now exhibited on our mechanical representations of the terraqueous globe.
Besides this, the trade wind being, as it is well known, a current of air blowing continually from the East, in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, between 30 degrees North and 30 degrees South latitude; its direct operation on the American Continent would have been against that lofty chain of mountains,' traversing
* One general principle with regard to mountains is, that they are highest: at the equator; a second is, that their height decreases in a gradual ration, as they are distant from the lofty chain of the Andes-proving a certain peculiar connection between them all, never yet attempted to be shown. The following is the comparative height of the Mountains in Spanish America, with those of other parts of the world. Names of said Mountains, and in what Countries Height Height
Height in they are situated.
in feet. io yards. miles and yards.
- . 19,929 6,643 3 and 1,363
3 - 720 Carason, in Peru,
- 14,820 4,940 2 1,420 Petchincha, in Peru, .
14,580 4,860 % - 1,340 In Europe and other parts. The Peak of Teneriffe, one of the Ca
nary islands, - . - - - 15,396 - 5,132 % - 1,612 Mount Blanc,
- 15,243 5,081
1,561 Mount Etna, in Sicily, - - 12,000 4,000
480 Gemmi, in the Canton of Berne, in . Switzerland,
1,610 Summit of Buet,
1 - 1,565
the whole length of North and South America, from the kingdom of Chili to that of Mexico; and reflecting that some of these are nearly twice the height of some of the most considerable peaks of the old world; considering also, the long, narrow shape of the Continent of America, it may not be too great a stretch of the imagination to assume the fact of their having formed such an obstacle to that current, as to have assisted, as it were, with sails, the floating and unstable bulk to which the violent and unremitting influence of the trade wind was opposed. · Indeed, looking more stedfastly at the configuration of the two coasts, many phænomena present themselves in direct confirmation of what has been advanced. The whole of the American or Brazil coast, nearly up to the equinoctial line, is indented with large and deep bays, running northward, and proving that the impulse of the ocean must have been from the south; whilst the whole of the coast of Africa, up to 10 degrees north lat. has also its bays inclining in a northerly direction, but proportionably small and shallow, as exhibiting the effects of rather having been washed by a coasting current, than beaten in against, like those of the opposite hemisphere.
Names of said Mountains, and in what Countries Height Height they are situated.
in feet. in yards. In England and Wales the six highest
Mountains are Whernside, in Yorkshire, is the highest in South Britain,
1,350 Ingleborough, in Yorkshire,
3,987 1,329 Pennygant, in Yorkshire,
3,930 1,310 Snowden, in North Wales,
3,568 1,189 Pendle Hill, in Lancashire,
3,411 1,137 Cross Fell, in Westmoreland,
1,130 In Scotland the six highest Mountains
are Benevish, in the county of Inverness, 4,350 1,459 Benlawers, in Perthshire,
1,426 Cairngorm, in the county of Inver
4,000 1,333 Bengloe, in Perthshire,
1,241 Schichallion, in Perthshire, - 3,564 1,188 Bendeng, in Perthshire, - - 3,550 1,189
The Spanish Academicians observe, that amongst the Cordilleras, in the province of Quito, Carason, and Petchincha, are the highest accessible Mountains, and that all of greater height are vested with eternal snow.
20 degrees north sters, becomes leven
of the such as
ed with what the
washed of the
• The Ocean, being admitted between the two continents from the
The deep bays, therefore, on the eastern coast of New Spain,
NO.X. Pam. VOL. V, 20
not so great but that their original union, when suggested, becomes obvious to the eye of the most indifferent beholder. He will, immediately, in the rough outline, perceive that the large round prominence of land in Africa, from the point of Tangier in the north-west extremity of the Mediterranean to Cape Palinas, at the western extremity of the gulf of Guinea, was united to somewhere about that part of the American continent lying between the east coast of New Britain in North, and the north-east coast of Terra Firma, in South, America ; and he will perceive that, bringing these points together, the non-conformity of either coast is not so great but that it may be accounted for by the gradual ablution of ages, and by the admission of circumstances, which, as by the slowness of their operation, they are almost insensible to the human eye, so. are they beyond the power of the human mind to contemplate or suggest.
The physiognomy of the West Indies or Antilles, would more strongly corroborate the evidence of his senses : the chains of mountains all running in a nearly parallel direction; the rivers all flowing to the same rhumb; the volcanic matter,' in a more or less degree common to all; the productions of the Southern chạin assimilating exactly with those of the north-eastern coasts of South America, and those of the northern with the productions of the Floridas; ? the vacuum or space still to be accounted for between the southern coast of the gulph of Florida, and the northern coast of Terra Firma, and that part of the African coast thus brought in a line directly upon the Antilles; these, and other circumstances of a less general consideration, and on which it would be tedious at present to dilate ; would all, with one voice, suggest that the avulsion of America from the old hemisphere was not only obvious, but they would insinuate that the rupture was not altogether vertical, but in a slant
Witness the dreadful series of earthquakes to which they have been subject; and particularly the late eruption of the Souffrier mountain in St. Vincent's, as may be seen in my Dictionary: speaking of the Andes, Goldsmith calls Etna and Vesuvius men's fireworks in comparison. . ::: ..? In Tobago, Margarita, and Trinidad, lying off the main, the wild cocoa and a variety of soft woods are found corresponding to the opposite shores, In Cuba, and other extreme islands to leeward, the cedar, cypress, &c. are produced the same as in the Floridas.