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UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION,
APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
SOME ACCOUNT OF THE PLAINS AND DESERTS OF THE GLOBE.
The science of Geography is popularly understood as The necessarily intimate connexion between the organic treating of the division of the lands upon the surface of productions of different countries and their climate, renders the earth into various empires, kingdoms, and provinces, it important to explain the laws by which this connexion instituted by man; and this, doubtless, forms that im- is governed. This is one object of the science of Meteo portant part of the science which is properly termed rology, and in order to illustrate some parts of this paper, political, or moral, geography. But there is another, far we must enter into a brief general notice on this subject. more extensive, more important, and more really inter- If the whole surface of the earth were land, without any esting division, which treats of the natural history of the difference of soil
, or any inequalities of level, the average earth; of its natural divisions by seas, mountain-chains, temperature of the climates of different zones would rivers, and valleys; of the constitution of its outer crust; decrease equably from the equator towards the poles, of the laws which govern the climates of different portions ; because the rays of the sun, by passing vertically through of its animate productions; this is called Physical the atmosphere, would heat the tropical much more than Geography, and, as it is now understood, in the true sense the temperate regions, where the solar beams would lose of the word, partly comprises the various sciences of some of their effect by having to traverse the air more Geology, Zoology, Botany, Meteorology, &c.
obliquely, or to pass a greater distance through it. TemIt may be easily conceived, that there can be few studies perate regions also would be much warmer than the polar, more important to inan than this of physical geography; where little heat would be obtained at all from the sun, the every endeavour, therefore, to render some of its facts great source of heat. more intelligible to the general reader, must be a laud- The first and most important cause of disturbance of able task; nor does it require any profound knowledge this supposed regularity, arises from the irregular division or deep study to be able to comprehend many of its leading of the surface into land and water. The ocean is of a principles.
more equal temperature throughout the globe than the When we consider the numberless differences between land; partly because it is less easily heated by the sun's countries, in regard to their climate, soil, and productions, rays, and partly because of the constant mingling of its animal and vegetable, it might seem almost impossible to waters by the currents and the motion of the waves, these investigate the causes of the great diversity which really being produced by the motion of the earth on its axis, and exists: investigation, however, the object of the science by the analogous currents, called Winds, in the aërial ocean. in question, is daily extending; and all the peculiarities are or atmosphere. From these two causes, the waters of the found to be mutually dependent on a comparatively few ocean, at more than 700 feet in depth, are found to be of great principles.
the same temperature all over the globe. Vol. V.
An island in the middle of the ocean will hence have a | air, but the earth accumulating the heat more rapidly cooler climate than the adjacent continents, if it be situated and more permanently, it will communicate to the lower within the Tropics, and a warmer one if it lie more towards portion of the air, a greater degree of temperature than the Poles: because, in the first case, being surrounded by a it would otherwise have: and from a well-known law, this body of water cooler than the land, the temperature of the heated portion of air would rise, or ascend, and its place island will be reduced; and, on the second supposition, the would be supplied with colder air coming from a distance, surrounding seas being warmer than the land under the which would be heated in its turn, and rise, and so on, same latitude, the temperature of the island will be raised. producing a constant current upwards of hot air. Now
Thus, the islands of the Atlantic, as Madeira, the Canaries, this current would prevent the clouds passing over the spot, St. Helena, &c., enjoy a moderate climate, while the centre from condensing by cold into rain, hence no rain would fåll of the African continent parallel to them, is nearly unin- on the parched soil, and it is certain, that without moisture, habitable, from its burning heat. On the other hand, little or no vegetation can be produced. England has a higher mean temperature* than the parts But if we suppose the same plain to consist, instead of of the adjoining continent of Europe, under the same barren sand, of some earth favourable for the growth of latitude; as Denmark, Sweden, and North Germany: this grass, or moss, or any verdure, this would screen the rule is, however, so far modified by other causes, that it earth from the accumulating heat. Little or no upward is by no means of constant application. In an island the current would arise, clouds would be condensed in the atmosphere is inore moist from the evaporation of the higher regions, and rain would fall, or at least, the vapours surrounding waters, and therefore more rain falls in the would be condensed by the colder vegetable clothing, and year; while in some vast inland plains the air is perfectly this dew would accelerate the growth of fresh plants, till dry, and no rain ever falls.
in time, a forest might cover the former naked expanse. That the general, or mean, emperature of any country These trees would still further shade the earth, and predepends chietly on the prevailing winds, is well known. It serve its moistened surface from evaporation, and would is obvious, that if the wind blows more days in the year also attract moisture, and consequently keep down the from the north, it will cause the place to be colder, gene- temperature of such a country. rally, than it would naturally be; and the reverse, if the When, however, a sandy plain is surrounded by lofty usual wind comes over a heated plain or over the ocean. mountains, a quantity of water is always collected from The prevalent wind in England is from the south-west, and the atmosphere by their summits, and naturally descending the mild damp climate of our country is greatly attributable their sides, irrigates the plain by rivers, which counteract to this wind, which comes over the Atlantic Ocean, loaded the aridity that woulil otherwise accompany it; or if not with moisture and raised in temperature.
abundant enough to form rivers, at least forms springs, A principal cause of the average temperature of the as is the case with the Oases of Africa. (See p. 39.) climate of any place, depends on its elevation above the It is very difficult to ascertain or to be aware of the level of the sea; or on its being at a greater or less distance difference of level of adjacent countries, by simple ocular from the centre of the earth. The lower part of the inspection. A valley intersecting a plain, is obvious to atmosphere is the warmest, and the heat decreases as we every one traversing it, but if a person ascend a chain of ascend in the air, so that in every part of the globe, there hills rising from a plain, on descending on the other side is an altitude where water is always frozen. This is called he cannot immediately tell whether he is come down to the the line of perpetual snow, because the portions of moun- same level as the plain, or whether he is above or below it. tains which rise above this height are always snow-clad. We all know that the land, generally, must be higher It is obvious, that the nearer the place is to the equator, the than the level of the sea, or the sea would overflow it higher into the air must we ascend, to get into the tempe- and we know that the land is not equally bigh, because rature which is met with nearer the earth, at places situated we see it shelve down to the shore in some parts, or form at a greater distance from it. At the poles, and for a great very steep cliffs in others, while we see valleys and moundistance from them, the water at the surface of the earth is tains varying it on all sides. Few persons, however, are always frozent. Hence, a plain raised many thousand aware, that the difference in the level of extensive regions is feet above the level of the sea, though under the tropics, so great, that while the Table-Land of Asia is raised 10,000 may be as cold, or colder than England, or other places in feet above the level of the sea, there is a vast extent, of the Temperate Zones.
about 18,000 square miles, in the neighbourhood of the Asia affords a striking illustration of these facts. The Caspian Sea, that is absolutely below the level of the ocean. central Table-Land is the highest part of the globe of any It is now known, that in the course of many ages, great extent; and being surrounded with mountains covered revolutions in the surface of the globe are brought about with snow, has a temperature far below that of southern by the slow, but constant, wearing down of all the elevateu Europe on the same parallel ; while on passing the southern, parts, by the action of water, and also through the eleraor Himalaya chain, the traveller descending into the pen- tion of new islands and continents from the bottom of the insula of India enters a tropical climate. This partly arises deep by earthquakes. There is conclusive evidence of the from the nearer position of the country to the equator, but, greater part of Europe having been raised from the deep, chiefly, from its lower level ; from its being sheltered to since the existence of other more ancient countries. the North by the mountains just mentioned ; and from the Now, if we suppose a large tract of the bed of the prevailing winds blowing from the south-east or south-west. ocean to be gradually raised till it forms dry land, it will
That the character as well as the temperature of a for many ages present the appearance of a level tract or climate, must depend very much on the quantity of rain plain, and such is probably the origin of most of those which falls, is also obvious, and this and the vegetation of extensive deserts, steppes, plains, &c., which are found a country mutually act on each other, as cause and effect. in different parts of the world. This very interesting fact we will explain by an example, We purpose, in this paper, to give a popular account of which will be more intelligible than scientific speculations. some of these, since they are less known from their being
Let us consider an extended plain of sand in any tropical comparatively uninhabited, and little visiter ; and the country, as Africa. The sun will heat the surface and the varieties in their appearance and their productions, with In all countries there is a summer and a winter, or a difference and entertaining lesson, and enable us to judge of the
the few common points of resemblance, will afford a useful day, or of the time the sun is above the horizon, and therefore acting inexhaustible fund of amusement and of knowledge which on the land and air: the mean annual temperature is the average of Physical Geography presents. these different temperatures, as found by repeated observations; and We shall commence with the plains in South America, is that, nearly, of the spring or autumn of the year in each country. I called The summer-heat on the continents is greater, and the cold of winter more intense, than on an island; the former are said to have an
THE LLANOS. ercessive climate, and the latter an insular climate; yet the mean temSerature of a place on the continent, may be the same as one on an
Ar the foot of the lofty range of mountains in the province Hand in the same latitude. The reader must bear all these facts of Caraccas, there lies a vast plain, stretching southwards
mind, and he will perceive that it is impossible to give any general rule on this subject.
This theory 'has been advanced and maintained by Professor + It has been calculated, that the mean temperature of the Lyell, in his recent work, Principles of Geology, with such power of equator round the globe is about 85°, and that at the poles is -10°, reasoning and extent of knowledge as will, we are convinced, cause or ten degrees below zero, water freezing at 32° above zero. In the a new epoch in the science of Geology. We may here, once for all, tropics, the line of perpetual snow is at about the height of 16,000 acknowledge our obligations to that work, for many of the princifeet above the sea : in latitude 45°, (that of Venice and South ples and facts in any way connected with that science which have Europe,) it is at about 6000 feet.
appeared in the Supplements of this Magazine.
far beyond the limits of the visible horizon. The contrast rivers; impenetrable forests, occupying the equatorial presented on leaving the fertile, undulating valleys of regions where the land is most extended; all concur to that country, and the shores of the lake of Tacaragua, keep down the heat and aridity of America, compared dotted over with islands covered with luxuriant vegetation, with the African peninsula, which is diametrically opposed is indescribable. The traveller quits a beautiful tract, to it in all these characteristics. These peculiarities are covered with the palms, sugar-canes, &c., of a tropical sufficient to explain, why Africa and South America preland, to enter on a barren desert. No hill, no elevation, sent the most opposite character of climates, and the most disturbs the monotony of the scene, except here and there different features of vegetation. flat banks, so called by the natives, raised only a few feet Though the Llanos are covered with a thin coating of above the general level, but, from their slight elevation fertile earth, and are periodically flooded by rains, so that and their great extent, hardly distinguishable. These are they are decorated with luxuriant verdure ; yet the neighsometimes two hundred square miles in extent, and appear bouring native tribes have never been enticed to leave the like islands in a waveless sea.
lovely valleys of the Caraccas and the coast, or the shores That this plain was once the bottom of an ocean, there of the Orinoco, to settle in these wastes. On the first is conclusive evidence, from those facts which speak more arrival of European and African settlers, these deserts decisively than any historic human records; and at that were found nearly destitute of inhabitants. The Llanos time the banks formed shoals analogous to those in our are now especially appropriated to rearing cattle, though present seas. The observant and scientific traveller has the management of animals yielding milk fit for human his imagination carried back to this primæval period, by food was unknown to all the aborigines of the new an optical illusion presented to his view. When at night continent. the eye ranges over the level tract to the extreme limit of Two kinds of native cattle pasture in the grass-plains of vision, the level line which forms the horizon reminds him West Canada as well as in Mexico: the long-horned of that of a tranquil ocean*, and the stars as they rise or set, moution, the original stem of the sheep, abounds on the are absolutely reflected in the stratum of air that lies on the dry, naked, calcareous rocks of California'; and the camel earth, as if seen in real water. This phenomenon arises like vikunnas, alpacas, and llamas, are peculiar to the from the same causes which produce the mirage of the southern continent. Except the last, all these useful desert, in day time; that illusion which mocks the thirsty animals have preserved their natural freedom for thousands and fainting traveller with the appearance of lakes of of years, the employment of milk and cheese as articles water, when journeying over hot sandy plains, .
of 'food, like the culture of farinaceous grasses, being a But the real ocean, with its associations, is a pleasing, characteristic distinction of the people of the old world. though sublime object, while the “ Llanos" of South Since, therefore, as it appears, the shepherd's life, that America lie stretched out before the eye, like the naked beneficial middle-state which fixes the wandering hunter rocky crust of a worn-out planet. The interest they excite tribes to the meadows, and prepares them for the pursuits is of a peculiar kind, and arises only from their natural of agriculture, was unknown to the original inhabitants of history. Unlike the deserts of Africa, they contain no Oases America, it is to this circumstance, that the absence of to recall the mind to earlier races of inhabitants; no carved population in the Llanos, on their first discovery by monuments, no ruins, to suggest the idea of a past age of Europeans, must be attributed. Hence appears also a glory and renown; no fruit-trees run wild, to indicate that variety of animal forms which have remained in a state the diligence of past generations was exerted to provide of nature, uncontrolled by the presence of man. food for their population. This portion of our globe seems estranged from all human interest; a wild arena for unfettered animal and vegetable existence.
Each continent of the globe has animals peculiar to it; The Llanos extend from the mountains on the coast of many are only different species of genera found elsewhere; Caraccas to the forests of Guayana ; from the snowy but there are many genera of animals peculiar to South mountains of Merida to the great Delta of the Orinocoo; America; though these are not so strikingly different from in a south-westerly direction, they stretch, like an arm of the animals of the old world, as those of New Holland are the sea, from the rivers Meta and Nichada, to the unfre- from the animals of all the rest of the world. quented sources of the Guaviare, comprising a surface of In the Llanos are found, the agouti, of the same order about sixteen thousand square miles. Though thus close as the guinea-pig, rabbit, porcupine, &c.; it is about the to the equator, yet, from the physical geography of this size of a hare, and has many of its habits. The armadillo, continent, they do not resemble the Sahara of Africa in a singular animal, having a scaly hard shell, which is constant barrenness, but, during one half of the year, are corered with grass, like the Pampas of Buenos Aires, or the Table-Lands of central Asia.
The causes of the lower temperature and greater moisture of the climate of equinoctial America, compared with that of Africa, are to be found in the peculiar form of this part of the globe. Narrow, and much indented with seas and bays within the northern tropic, it presents but a comparatively small surface to the action of the sun's rays; while the great expanse towards the North Pole; an open ocean, over which the tropical winds come; the flatness of the eastern coast; the stream of cold sea-water which flows from Terra del Fuego along the Peruvian coast; the number of mountain-chains rearing their snow-covered summits far above the clouds; the multitude of enormous
That this effect of resemblance to a sea is not exaggerated, is proved by the evidence of Captain Hall, when speaking of another extensive plain,-a very conclusive authority on many subjects. flexible enough to give full scope to its motions, and is yet
"Some of these singular places" (the prairies on the banks of the a secure defence from most enemies, belongs to the same Mississippi,) are nearly level, others have a gently swelling or rolling surface. The grand prairie of the Illinois has specimens of both food, and burrows in the ground. The chiguire or capybara,
order as the sloth, the ant-eater, &c., and lives on vegetable kinds, but its general character is level, with a few clumps of trees, and these far between. The resemblance to the sea which some of another animal of the guinea-pig tribe, and the largest the prairies exhibited was really most singular. There is one spot in known; lives in herds on the banks of rivers, and feeds on particular, near the middle of the grand prairie, where the ground fish and fruits. The chinche, a species of marten, like our happened to be of a rolling character, and where, excepting in the article of colour,-and that was not widely different from the tinge
European pole-cat, possesses, but in a much greater of some seas,-the similarity was so striking that I almost forgot
degree, the power of defending itself, by emitting an where I was. This deception was heightened by a circumstance odour, so intolerable, as seriously to affect men or animals which I had often heard mentioned, but the force of which none exposed to it. Another, the mariputa, dwelling on the but a seaman could fully estimate; I mean the appearance of the banks of the Orinoco, is protected from the jaguar, its distant insulated trees as they rose above the horizon, or receded from our view : they were so exactly like strange sails heaving in
chief enemy, by the virulence and fætidness of the sight, that I am sure if two or three sailors had been present they | effluvia which it emits. would almost have agreed as to what canvass these magical vessels
of the more formidable animals, the puma, or American were carrying. - Travels in North America, vol. iii.
lion, must be mentioned first; but both this, and the 8 It has been computed that 1,200,000 oxen, 180,000 horses, and affords, like the Pisang, and most fruits of the tropics, a
Jaguar, and other allica species, are well known to Euro- | in the lowest scale of human cultivation, a whole race peans, from being seen in most menageries. These are dependent on a single plant, as certain insects are confined but a few of the multitude of living creatures that swarm to one part of a flower. on these plains.
The discovery of the New World by the Europeans, has, Nearly uninhabitable except to such animals, these of course, altered this scene; and these plains are now plains would never have arrested the steps of those tribes become inhabited. Towns are built, here and there, on who, Indian-like, prefer vegetable food, were not the the banks of the rivers, for the sake of facilitating the Mauritia, or Fan-palm, found scattered over them here and intercourse between the coast and Guayana, while others, there. The benefits of this important plant are widely in the interior, are the abodes of families who rear cattle, known: the stem attains a height of five and twenty feet, as is now every where done on these boundless wastes. in about 120 or 150 years, and they form lovely groups of These villages, for they deserve no higher denomination, brilliant green in moist spots, something as our alders do. lie sometimes several days' journeys apart, and consist of They preserve by their shade the humidity of the ground, rude huts, constructed of stakes and reeds woren together, and hence the Indians maintain, that the Mauritia myste- and covered with hides. Horses, mules, and cattle, left to riously attracts water to its roots.
run wild, in innumerable troops g, roam over the steppes. The incredible multiplication of these animals, since their introduction from the Old World, is the more astonishing, when the manifold dangers and privations to which they are exposed in that country, are taken into consideration.
When the vertical rays of the ever-cloudless sun have withered up the grass to dust, the hardened earth opens as if shaken by an earthquake. If the surface is then acted on by opposing currents of air, a singular appearance is presented on the plain. Funnel-shaped clouds of sand rise from the ground, in the middle of the vortex, analogous to the water-spouts so formidable to the mariner on the ocean; a troubled straw-coloured light is thrown from the sky, which seems as if it had come down nearer the earth; the horizon appears to approach, and contributes still more to bewilder the traveller, caught in this commotion: the air, filled with sand, augments the usual heat, the east wind comes, heated by contact with the glowing earth, and brings any thing but refreshment I. The small pools of water, hitherto protected from evaporation by the shade of the Fan-palm, are at length dried up; as, in the north, animals become torpid from excess of cold, here the contrary cause produces a similar effect, and the crocodile and the boa lie buried deep in the hardened earth. Here, also, the deceitful mirage allures the beguiled wanderer the horses and cattle, tormented with burning thirst, and bewildered by the clouds of sand, run around neighing and bellowing with outstretched necks, snuffing the wind, to detect, by the slightest moisture in the current, some distant pool, which has escaped the effects of the heat. The mules, with more apparent foresight, seek alleviation from the Melon-Cactus, which contains a juicy and refresh
This tree alone supports the unsubdued nation of the Guaraunes, who dwell near the mouths of the Orinoco. They suspend mats made of the stalks of the leaves with great skill from stem to stem; and during the rainy season, when the Delta of is overflowed, they reside entirely in the trees by means of these mats, as completely as if they were apes. These hanging huts are partly covered over with clay: the fires for domestic purposes are lighted on the lower story, which is always damp from the subjacent water, and the traveller by night, in sailing along the river, sces the flames in rows, suspended, as it were, in the air.
But besides a secure dwelling, the Mauritia affords them food also; before the blossoms of the male tree burst
TIIE MELON-CACTUS. their delicate spathes, or sheaths, and at that period alone, the pith of the stem contains a sago-like kind of meal, ing interior beneath its hard and prickly bark; they strike which, like Cassava, is dried in thin cakes. The sap, aside the prickles with their fore-foot, and then with great when fermented, becomes a sweet, intoxicating wine; the fruit, which is reddish, resembles a pine-cone in form, and
90,000 mules, wander at large in the plains north of the Orinoco ;
and in the Pampas that there are 12,000,000 cattle and 3,000,000 varied nourishment in its different stages. Thus we find, horses ;-all these sprang from the few individuals carried over by
the Spaniards on their first settling! The horned cattle are princiBy an analogous fallacy, mistaking cause and effect, they pro- pally valuable for their hides and tallow; 800,000 are' annually extest against the destroying of snakes ; because they say the lagunes ported from Buenos Aires and Monte Video alone. dry up when these reptiles are removed. The Mauritia thrives only || These clouds of dust are especially frequent in the Peruvian where moisture collects, and the serpents only frequent the stagnant sandy plains, between Amotape and Coquimbo; they would be ponds.
very fatal to travellers, if not avoided when seen approaching. + When a river empties itself into the sea by several mouths, these What appears remarkable is, that these partial whirlwinds always form a triangular figure, and the plain through which they run is arise during a general calm ; in this, also, the analogy between the called the Delta of the river, from the name of the Greek letter D, ocean of air and the ocean of water is preserved; in the latter, small which is of a triangular form.
streams, in which the rippling is distinctly audible, are often obMany Pa.ms are what botanists term diæcious; that is, have the served during a dead calm. Electricity is the primary cause of all male and female flowers distinct from each other, on separate plants. | these phenomena. ,
precaution apply their mouth to the plant. But so for- | African Coast to the Plains of Antisana, which are higher inidable are the guards with which nature has furnished this above the level of the sea than the summit of the Peak of reservoir, that animals are often seen lamed in the hoof Teneriffet. Here the northern Birch, there the Datefrom this cause.
Palm, affords a shelter from the noon-day sun to the When night comes on after the burning day, and brings animals of which we have been speaking. The same genus a diminution of temperature, the persecuted animals are which, in North-eastern Europe, combats with wolves and not allowed to enjoy this alleviation; enormous bats attack bears, is exposed in another hemisphere to the attacks of them during sleep, and suck their blood, or hang to tigers and crocodiles ! their coats and form wounds, in which mosquitos, gad-flies, But it is not only from these enemies that the herds and and a multitude of insects, deposit their eggs, and convert troops of cattle and horses are exposed to danger, they them into festering sores. Thus, during the dry season, have a fearful foe among the fish. The stagnant lakes of the larger quadrupeds lead a life of ceaseless misery in Bera and Bastro are filled with innumerable electric eelst. these regions.
which possess the power, at pleasure, of sending a very On the approacn of the rainy season, the whole scene is powerful shock from any part of their slimy yellow-spotted quickly and strangely changed: the deep-blue of the ever- bodies ; they are five or six feet long, and possess this ex cloudless sky becomes lighter; at night, the black spot in traordinary faculty in sufficient power to kill the largest the glorious southern constellation of the cross is hardly animals if they can discharge their organs at once, and in perceivable: the soft phosphorescent glimmer of the the most favourable direction. At one time they existed magellanic clouds is extinguished, and even the vertical in such numbers in one of the water-courses of the road stars of the eagle and ophiuchus, shine with a tremulous from Uritucu, that every year many horses, stunned by and less planet-like light*. A few solitary clouds first their shocks, were drowned in crossing the ford. All other appear, like distant mountains in the south; vapours fish fly the neighbourhood of this formidable eel; and the spread themselves like veils across the zenith, and the angler, on the bank, is often startled by a shock conveyed distant thunder announces the approach of the refreshing to him along his moistened line g. rain.
Scarcely is the surface of the earth moistened, when the reeking grounds are overspread with Kyllingia, Paspalum, The comparative efficiency of the deserts and steppes of and other sedges and grasses; herbaceous Mimosæ unfold the globe, as barriers between the adjoining countries, is their leaves, and, together with the early song of birds, and proved by the great difference which exists in the physical the opening flowers of the water-plants, salute the rising and moral characters of these contiguous lands.
The horses and cattle now revel in the perfect enjoy- Africa's northern deserts separate the two great human ment of existence, though the beautiful spotted jaguar races, which, originating from a common home, have long Jurks in the tall herbage, and darts, like the eastern tiger, been at variance, and whose discord has been the subject on the unwary animal.
of mythology, under the fabled strise of Osiris and Typhon. According to the natives, the moistened shores of the North of Mount Atlas dwell the smooth, long-haired people, ponds are occasionally seen to rise and break into clods, of tawny complexion and Caucasian features; southwards, which are cast, with a noise like that of a mud-volcano, on the contrary, from Senegal towards Soudan, Negroes into the air. The prudent spectator, aware of the cause, alone are found, in various stages of improvement. hastens from the place; for a gigantic water-snake or a In middle Asia, the steppes of Mongolia divide Siberian fearful crocodile rises from the pit, aroused from their torpor barbarism from the earliest seat of human cultivation in by the first gush of rain.
the Indian peninsula. By degrees, the rivers which form the southern boundary In South America, the Llanos and Pampas limit the to the plains, the Arauca, the Apuré, and the Payara, extent of European half-civilization, which has more overflow their banks, and the same animals which, in the rocently been introduced there. North, between the mounpreceding half year, fainted from thirst on the parched and tain-chains of Venezuela and the Caribbean Sea, thriving burning soil, are now compelled to live as amphibious : towns and cheerful villages crowd on each other, and a one part of the steppes becomes a vast lake, navigable for taste for the arts and intellectual improvement, as well as large vessels, which can sail ten or twelve miles together their necessary result, the noble zeal for civil freedom, are straight across the country. The mares withdraw with now aroused. Towards the south, a gloomy wilderness their foals to the higher banks, which again resume their surrounds the steppes; forests thousands of years old, an character of islands; but with each day these dry spots impenetrable thicket, fill the marshy territory between the diminish, and at last, from want of pasture, the crowded Orinoco and the Amazon; mighty masses of granite narhorses are seen swimming about for hours together, seeking row the bed of the foaming streams; mountain and forest a scanty food from the flowering grasses which still rear re-echo the thunder of the cataract, combined with the their heads abo the brown turbid waters. Many foals roar of the tiger and the dead howl of the bearded ape. are drowned in consequence, and many are seized by Where the shallower waters leave a sand-bank dry, the crocodiles, or struck and disabled by their serrated tails : body of the lurking crocodile is seen lying, its jaws opened not unfrequently cattle and horses are afterwards seen, to seize its prey, and so motionless that it is often covered who have escaped from these monsters, and carry on their with birds, who perch on it. The spotted roa, with his tail limbs the marks of the sharp teeth of these blood-thirsty wound round branch of a tree, and his iong body doubled lizards.
together, watches the opportunity and darts on some young This appearance reminds the thoughtful observer of the bull, or a more feeble deer, as it approaches the bank, and, power of conforming, with exterior circumstances with after smearing the body with its venomous saliva, sucks it which Nature has endowed, in common with man, certain in slowly and with effort through its distended throat and species, both of animals and plants. The horse and the ox, neckll; and then lies for weeks overcome with the mass like the farinaceous grasses, have been carried by him over of food, till it is digested, and hunger again compels it the whole earth; from the Ganges to the Plata, from the to seek a new meal.
* These various appearances are the results of increasing moisture + The pressure of the atmosphere is hence so much diminished on in the air, and therefore precede the rain. The drier the atmosphere, these plains, that when the wild cattle are baited by hounds, blood the deeper the blue of the sky; hence, the intense azure of that of issues from their nose and mouth. tropical climates. English travellers are even struck with the great Gymnotus Electricus; it belongs to a very different section of difference between their native sky and that of Italy in this respect. the class, to that of the eel (Muræna) properly so called.-See An instrument has been contrived by which the depth of blue has Saturday Magazine, Vol. IV., p. 144. been measured, and meteorological observations are made with it; it The identity of Voltaism, or Galvanism, and electricity is well is called a Cyanometer, (blue measurer.) As the moisture increases, known, the action of the former species of these two divisions, is distant objects become more obscure and faint; and the heavenly supposed to exist, in a latent state, in all organized matter, where bodies, therefore, are not so bright. The spot in the Cross is an dissimilarly constituted parts are in contact, and appears to be astronomical phenomenon on which scientific men are not agreed; intimately connected with the phenomenon of vitality, as well as it appears much darker than the rest of the sky, and, therefore, just with almost every one of the physical world. the reverse of those apparent clusters of stars which compose what || The saliva with which this serpent covers its victim accelerates are called Nebulæ, the Milky-way, and the Magellaníc clouds. putrefaction, the muscular part becomes softened like jelly, and Most of our readers are familiar with Capt. Hall's eloquent descrip- enables the reptile to swallow whole limbs at a time. When swimtion of the effects of seeing the constellations of the southern hemi- ming in the Orinoco, they raise their head above the water like a sphere, as they gradually rise above the horizon, in sailing; and dog: they occasionally attain a length of forty-five feet as it is said, especially the feelings excited by the Cross, the sign of our salvation, but the largest skin ever brought to Europe has not exceeded two and planted by God in the heavens as a beacon to man.-See Saturday twenty. The American serpent (a python,) is a distinct species Magazine, Vol. III., p. 139.
from the East Indian.