« AnteriorContinuar »
labour nugatory. In the vicinity of the equator the great oceanic cur. rent assumes a westerly course, owing to the motion of the earth in an opposite direction. In the Atlantic the western current flows steadily from the Canaries to the east coast of America, it sweeps round the Gulf of Mexico, and then flows northward till it reaches the south side of the great bank or shoal of Newfoundland, when it turns westward and runs to the Azore Islands, and is even felt in the west of Europe. The water of this current being heated in the torrid zone cools so gradually that it continues throughout its course warmer than the water which surrounds it. In the Pacific the current, leaving the coast of Peru, sweeps on in a westerly direction until it strikes against New Holland, when it divides into several streams, the effects of which are felt on the shores of Madagascar, at the Cape of Good Hope, and in the Bay of Bengal.
OF THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH. The number of human beings that inhabit the earth is very uncertain ; they probably amount to 950,000,000.
Tha average duration of man's life is 30 years, one individual therefore dies at this rate every second.
PROGRESS OF GEOGRAPHICAL DISCOVERY. The Geography of the ancients was very imperfect. In the days of Homer the earth was conceived to be a circular plain, surrounded by the ocean ; on this ocean, they asserted, the vault of the sky rested. The Phoenicians were the great navigators of antiquity; but from motives of jealousy they concealed their discoveries. Herodotus, who flourished 450 B.C., found it necessary to visit the countries which he describes. His account of Egypt, Asia Minor, Babylon, and the neighbouring countries is accurate; but of other portions of the globe, he and his contemporaries were quite ignorant. The expedition of Alexander, the Macedonian conqueror, extended the knowledge of Asia as far as the Indus. Pythias, of Marseilles, about the same time, passed the straits of Gibraltar, explored the west of Europe, and got as far north as an island which he calls Thule, supposed to be one of the Shetland Islands (hence the phrase ultima Thule). The
northern countries of Europe, China and Tartary, and Africa, south of the Mountains of the Moon,—the ancients never explored. The invention of the mariner's compass, in the beginning of the 14th century, gave a powerful stimulus to commercial enterprise. Nicholas Lynn, a friar and astronomer, of Oxford, is said to have been the first person who trusted himself to the guidance of the needle. Important discoveries quickly followed. In 1472, the equator was first crossed. In 1485, Bartholomew Diaz reached the Cape of Good Hope, (he called it, Cabo-tormentoso,) but was unable to double it. In 1497, Vasco de Gama doubled the Cape, and reaching India by this passage, gave a new direction to the commerce of Europe. On Oct. 12th, 1492, Columbus discovered the New World, the island of San Salvador was the first land he made. Magellan passed through the straits that bear his name in 1519; this was the first time that a European vessel had floated on the Pacific. Captain Cook's three voyages, made between 1768 and 1780, rendered our knowledge of the globe nearly complete; a vast continent had been supposed to encompass the South Pole--this he found was not the case.
QUESTIONS FOR EXAMINATION.
OF THE EARTH IN GENERAL. What is Geography? What is the form of the earth? What is its circumference? Its diameter? How much is covered with water? Name the great oceans. How are they situated? What is a bay or gulf? What is a strait ? . What is a lake? Name the four quarters of the globe. How many are in the Eastern hemisphere? What is an island? What is a peninsula? What is a promontory? Which is the hottest part of the earth? Which the coldest ?
Give some proofs of the rotundity of the earth. How much does the equatorial exceed the polar diameter? What force may account for this excess? What valuable purposes does the ocean serve? Explain the formation of clouds. Where does most rain fall? How do moun. tains assist in the formation of rivers? How may you ascertain the most elevated part of a country? What is the height of the atmo.. sphere? What are trade winds ? On what two circumstances do
they depend ? Besides latitude what circumstances modify climate ? What beavenly body chiefly causes tides? How often is it high water ? Explain the origin of the gulf stream ? Describe its course.
Who were the great navigators of antiquity? What invention led to the modern discoveries? Who first doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and when ? When did Columbus discover America ?\ Who first sailed on the Pacific? What was the object of Cook's investigations in the South Pacific ?
EUROPE. Europe is the smallest of the four great divisions of the world. It is situated between 10 degrees west and 60 degrees east longitude, and 36 degrees and 71 degrees north latitude. Its length is about 3,300 miles, its breadth 2,350. It is bounded on the north by the Frozen Ocean, -on the east by Asia,-on the south by the Mediterranean, which divides it from Africa,—and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean.
STATES OF EUROPE. There are in Europe ninety independent states ; the chief are, four in the north, five in the middle, and five in the south.
The four in the north are, British Isles,
London, on the river Thames. Danish dominions, Copenhagen, on the Sound. Sweden and Norway, Stockholm, on lake Mæler. Russia,
St. Petersburg, on the r. Neva.
Five in the middle. France,
Paris, on the river Seine. Holland, .
Amsterdam, on the r. Amstel. Belgium,
Brussels, on the r. Senne. Switzerland,
Zurich, Berne, and Lucerne. | Austria, Vienna, on the r. Danube. Germanic ) Prussia, Berlin, on the r. Spree. States.) Saxony, Bavaria, Hanover, Wirtemburg, and
other smaller States.
Five in the south. Spain,
Madrid, on the river Manzanares. Portugal,
Lisbon, on the r. Tagus. Italian States,
Rome, on the r. Tiber.
, Constantinople, on the strait of Turkey,
Athens, near the gulf of Egina.
SEAS. Europe is characterised by the number and extent of its inland seas, which give it, in proportion to its size, a longer line of coast than any other continent. The Mediterranean is the largest inland sea in the world; it is connected with the Atlantic by the Strait of Gibraltar. Indenting the coast of France and North Italy, it forms the Gulfs of Lyons and Genoa, and in South Italy the Gulf of Taranto. The Gulf of Venice, or Adriatic Sea, is between Italy and Turkey. The eastern part of the Mediterranean is called the Levant.
Besides receiving the waters of the Ebro, Rhone, Po, and Nile, water continually passes in through the Straits of Gibraltar from the Atlantic, and a strong current sets west through the Dardanelles from the Black Sea.
The Mediterranean Sea is nearly destitute of tides. It is denominated in Scripture the Great Sea. Many of the great nations of antiquity were nurtured on its shores,-the Roman, the Grecian, and the Macedonian ;-the Trojan, the Tyrian, and the Israelitish;-the Egyptian, and the Carthaginian.
The Archipelago, which is thickly studded with islands, is an offset from the Mediterranean. It communicates by the Dardanelles (the ancient Hellespont) with the small Sea of Marmora, and this again is united to the Black Sea .by the Strait of Constantinople, the ancient Bosphorus.
The word Archipelago, which is frequently used as a common substantive to denote a sea studded with islands, is a corruption of the Greek name of the sea, Aigai.n Pelagos, Ægean Sea. : The Euxine or Black Sea is 690 miles long and 360
broad, and receives by the Strait of Kaffa or Jenikale the turbid waters of the Sea of Azof.
The Bay of Biscay, remarkable for its heavy swell, is an extensive inlet of the Atlantic between France and Spain.
The North Sea or German Ocean, is severed from the rest of the Atlantic by the British isles. The British Channel, between England and France, communicates with the North Sea by the Strait of Dover. The Irish Sea, the south.part of which is called St. George's Channel, is between England and Ireland.
The Baltic, the East Sea of the Germans, is a large arm of the German Ocean, with which it communicates by a narrow winding channel, called the Skager-rack and the Kattegat. The Gulf of Bothnia is a prolongation of the Baltic northwards, the Gulfs of Finland and of Riga branch out to the east.
The Baltic is subject to severe storms, and the navigation is dangerous. Its tides are scarcely perceptible. Its waters are less salt than those of the Ocean. For three months in winter it is frozen over, and sometimes so completely as to admit of a passage on foot from Sweden to Finland.
An arm of the Arctic Ocean, denominated, from its frozen appearance, the White Sea, penetrates the north of Russia.
The loftiest of the European ranges is the Alps, which reach an elevation in Mount Blanc of 15,730 feet, nearly three miles. Tracing them from the shores of the Mediterranean near Nice, they pursue a semicircular course for about 600 miles to the head of the Gulf of Venice, Under various names the chain is continued along the eastern coast of the Adriatic, until dividing into two branches,—the one, the Homus or Balkan range, terminates on the shores of the Black Sea; the other, the Pindus chain, makes its way to Greece, and gives rise there to the celebrated summits of Parnassus, Helicon, &c.
The Apennines run through the whole extent of Italy,