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ording to the depth of
nearly horizontal beds would
iolently torn from its
part of it funk. Parts of the falling ruia
al beds of calcareous matter,
perpendicular or much inclined
will thence naturally there exhibic
Mr. de Luc, and ac.

TO LETTER VII

i'm the fea

mexfily

then prefent his

579

THOUGHTS

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cars to me certain, that fince the firft existence of this globe re has happened at fome period a general deluge, attested by ftill

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happened during 400 years in the wide.extended and yet uninhabited partsof the world is known to him alone.

m) Page 560.

Our author fuppofes a quite contrary effect from the degradation of rocky fhores. He fays, when the fea undermines their bafes the mountains tumble into it, and the waters hurry off the ruins into their deep abyffes. That the general cafe is very different, every fhore can tell. A mass of rock detached falls at the foot of the cliff, and by its weight finks deep into the fand. Sinking deeper and deeper, it foon becomes immoveable, arrests and gathers round it leffer ftones and rubbish; in time forms a mass of resistance not to be difplaced by the most furious waves, till at length, by fucceeding degradations from the cliff above it, a new floping bank is raifed above the ufual level of the fea. This process is visible on every fhore where the waters are not too deep to make this incroachment of the land upon the fea as yet vifible; where the beach is shallow, a moderate ftone, a piece of wood forms by degrees a fand-bank, and may at length an ifland. The tide returns with much lefs violence than it flows, and every coming wave adds more to the, fhore than its return withdraws. If tempefts. did not occafionally degrade this daily work, the elevation of the fhores would, even from the operation of the fea itself, be more speedy and more visible. The winds too are not inactive in adding to the lands. Part of the fea fands is driven towards them by their violence, and by degrees raifes extenfive ranges of fandy-hills along the shore. Partial inftances of lands fwallowed up or torn away by unufual hurricanes and storms break not the general rule. Nothing feems more certain than that the low lands and marthes leading to the ocean are very generally raised and extended, and the fea flowly contracted. In every part of the world, places known as fea-ports fome centuries ago are now a few miles diftant from the fea. The labours of man haften in many parts this incroachment. If nature conftantly acted in oppofition to them, vain would. be all his art and industry.

THOUGHTS

THOUGHTS

ON THE

STRUCTURE

OF THIS GLOBE,

LETTER IX.

CONCLUSION S.

READY to give up every hypothetical or conjectural part of what

I may have advanced in the foregoing Letters, fo foon as more luminous or probable explications fhall be offered, I must own, Sir, that there are certain points which appear to me incontestable, and others which carry with them all the appearances of probability which can reasonably be exacted in fuch matters by minds not pre-occupied by fome favourite fystem.

It appears to me certain, that fince the firft exiftence of this globe there has happened at fome period a general deluge, attested by ftill

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fubfifting monuments of nature, and confirmed by the confentaneous
traditions of all nations, in all ages, and in all parts of the world.
This difafter must have been caused by some
great convulfion
сара-
ble of deranging the whole exterior coat of the earth; and its present
ftratification indicates fuch derangement. Its confequences muft have
greatly altered and affected the conftitution both of the earth and of
the few inhabitants who furvived the catastrophe. All ancient opi-
nions and traditions concur in afferting it. Far from the poffibility
of removing the epoch of this great event to the distance of many
thousand years, or to ftill more indefinite antiquity, as Mr. de Buffon
and others, from the pretended teftimonies of nature, and Mr. Bailly
in his first work, from a forced interpretation of antique traditions, have
maintained, I think I have evidently demonftrated, even with the more
mature consent of this last author, that this great revolution cannot be
thrown to a greater distance than 3500 years before Chrift. I have
shewn it probable that this utmost antiquity should be confiderably
reduced. Not only all authentic hiftory, but even all those fables
fabricated by the vanity of nations which reftrict themselves to the
existence of man, are limited far below that fuppofed period; and
the traditions of the more fimple nations, fuch as the Tartars and
Arabs, as well as Jews, determine the renovation of mankind to
times confiderably later. Beyond a period of even 1500 years before
Chrift, the boafted hiftories of the more polished nations prefent us
with nothing but fictions and fables, variously combined, and afforted
to the vain pretenfions of particular nations contending for priority
of

of origin, but frequently founded on remnants of truths appertaining to the general history of mankind, affumed by each of these as the particular story of its race and country. Sir Ifaac Newton has proved, that the firft technical chronology of the Greeks had confiderably ante-dated the primitive events of their history. From thence, fubfequent chronologers transferred a like antiquity to corresponding events of other nations. The only probable or authentic documents of the state of mankind previous to 1500 years before Christ must be fought for in holy writ. Mutilated fragments of these form the ground-work, however variously altered, of whatever is rational relative to man in the annals or traditions of all parts of the world. There only can the real origin of nations be traced; and the very names of the most ancient of these, either unaltered or resumed after having been changed, confirm the veracity of thofe venerable records. Whenever any people claim an antiquity unwarranted by the Mosaical narration, they have recourfe to imaginary or allegorical perfonages, to gods or demi-gods. The race of pure mortals is every where restricted within very narrow limits. The thinness of population in the most ancient countries of which we have any account, as we ascend upwards from 15 centuries before the Chriftian era, contrafted with its rapidly progressive increase in those same countries below that period, demonftrates that the date of their first being inhabited cannot be very ancient. The tardy occupation and civilization of no less fertile and very contiguous countries, fo late or later than twelve hundred years before Chrift, fhew that mankind

was

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