Imágenes de página

to the most probable computation, until 400 years after the deluge. By the falls of earth and accumulated depofitions during the retreat of the waters, the outlets of many valleys would be ftopped up, where many great interior lakes must have been formed; many of whose waters have fince run off either by undermining or bursting thofe oppofing mounds by their increafing weight, or by their accidental ruptures caused by volcanos or earthquakes, more frequent in the then state of the earth. It was during the long continued retreat of the waters, and the various accidents thence enfuing, that many islands were torn from the continent, and that fecondary mountains were formed in fucceffion of time and during feveral ages after the deluge.

But the great reciprocal changes of lands into feas, and of feas into lands, were primarily effected by the inclination of the axis of the globe. From hence the accumulation of fea fhells in the midft or on the fummits of our mountains, or deep buried in the bowels of the earth, is to be accounted for. The change of climates operated by this fame inclination of the axis, explains various species of those belonging to hot countries now found in our northern cliKinds entirely foreign, found on the very fhores of feas in which none fuch now exift, prove, according to Mr. de Luc, that the pretended flow fucceffive change of lands and feas by the perpetual motion of the sea from east to weft is totally unfounded. The last depofites of such flow retreat could only be of fish still exifting



exifting in the bordering fea, and fhells entirely foreign to the climate could only be found at confiderable diftances from the actual coafts. The flow and gradual retreat here fuppofed could never form any other than gently-inclined plains; whereas the fea fhores in one part exhibit fteep rocks and mountains, and in another prefent even plains almoft on a level with its waters. Holland fhews that the level of the fea has been the fame for a great number of years and ages paft, and that the land only gains flowly by the depofites of rivers. According to him also, the small quantity of vegetable earth proves that the globe cannot be of very ancient date. The bones of elephants found in the north belong to the antediluvian world, all whofe climates were temperate. Mr. de Luc juftly obferves, that their being yet found in a state of preservation is an evident proof that the date of their depofition is neither infinitely removed, nor fo diftant as to be reconcileable with thofe times when Siberia could have been a hot climate, reduced to its present state of extreme cold by the progreffive and flow gradual cooling of the earth from the diminution of central heat (a). In the idea of the former antediluvian state of the earth, and the great changes caused in it by the inclination of its axis at the deluge, the learned Mr. Whitehurst perfectly agrees with the two above-named gentlemen. You will find my ideas, which I fhall further develop to you in my next letter, fo perfectly coinciding with those of Mr. Wallerius, that you will justly think them little better than a repetition. Immediately on our return from Switzerland, and before I had

had had the advantage of perufing the work of Mr. Wallerius, I briefly had the pleasure of stating to you the heads of my opinion. These are confirmed and greatly improved by the new lights which I have derived from him. If the principle on which we both found our systems be true, it must be one and the fame; and its development can only be varied by fuch additional proofs and details as may occur in its further investigation. Without any further preface, I shall therefore in my subsequent letters lay before you the whole fuite of my ideas on the fame fubjects.






(a) Page 469.


R. PALLAS, who had formerly espoused the opinion of Mr. de Buffon, that Siberia was once the abode of elephants, is now convinced by his later obfervations that fuch, whose remains are there found in confiderable numbers, must have either fled to those high grounds to avoid an increafing deluge, or that their carcafes had been wafted thither by its waters. In his obfervations on the formation of mountains this author fays, that the relics of those large animals inhabitants of Indoftan, the elephant, rhinoceros, and monftrous buffaloes, are to be found in great quantities near the course of rivers, and chiefly wherever there is any confiderable opening in the chain of the Oural mountains, which bound Siberia to the fouth. They are depofited at no great depth under beds of fand or flime, accompanied with various fea-fhells, bones of fifh, and wood covered with ochre: an evident proof of their having been tranfported thither by water. A rhinoceros, ftill covered with its fkin entire, found in the frozen foil of the borders of the Viloûi, is a convincing proof, fays he, that it must have been the most rapid inundation which could have hurried this carcafe to those frozen countries before corruption had time to deftroy its tendereft parts. He adds that, according to the report of hunters, elephants and



other monftrous animals are found as yet covered with their fkins at the foot of the mountains which occupy the space between the rivers Indighirka. and Kolyma. We may here with Mr. de Luc obferve, that the perfect state of preservation in which are found the bones of fuch animals, fo far fouth as the Oural mountains, is alfo a proof that the inundation which carried them thither cannot be of older date than that which may be reafonably afcribed to the mofaical deluge. Dr. Hutton remarks, that if the fhells accompanying thefe relics are petrified, as he has fince heard they are, it is a proof that they fimply proceed from the decompofition of folid ftrata, in which they had been enclosed, formed under the fea and travelled in the running waters of the earth. But he will not thus fubvert this strong evidence of a deluge, till he can bring naturalifts to believewith him that no petrification can take place but under the fea.


« AnteriorContinuar »