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First Impressions of England and its People
Chapter XI


Walk to the Clent Hills. — Incident in a Fruit Shop. — St. Kenelm’s Chapel. — Legend of St. Kenelm.— Ancient Village of Clent; its Appearance and Character. — View from the Clent Hills. — Mr. Thomas Moss. — Geologic Peculiarities of the Landscape; Illustration. — The Scotch Drift. — Boulders ; these transported by the Agency of Ice Floes. — Evidence of the Former Existence of a broad Ocean Channel. — The Geography of the Geologist. — Aspect of the Earth ever Changing. — Geography of the Palaeozoic Period; of the Secondary ; of the Tertiary. — Ocean the great Agent of Change and Dilapidation.

Let us now return to Hales Owen, and thence pass on to the Clent Hills, — famous resorts, in those parts, of many a summer pic-nic party from the nearer villages, and of pale-faced artizans and over-labored clerks, broken loose for a few happy days from the din and smoke of the more distant Birmingham. I was fortunate in a pleasant day, — rather of the warmest for walking along the low, dusty roads, but sufficiently cool and breezy on the grassy slopes of the hills. A humble fruit-shop stood temptingly open among the naileries in the outer skirts of Hales Owen, and I stepped in to purchase a few pears : a sixpenceworth would have been by no means an overstock in Scotland to one who had to travel several miles up hill in a warm day; and so I asked for no less here. The fruitman began to fill a capacious oaken measure, much like what, in Scotland, we would term a meal lippy, and to pile up the fruit over it in a heap. “How much is that?” I asked.—“Why, only fivepenn’orth,” replied the man; “but I’ll give thee the other penn’orth arter.” — “No, no, stop,” said I; “give me just 18* the half of fivepenn’orth; you are much more liberal here than the fruit-dealers in my country; and I find the half will be quite as much as I can manage.” The incident reminded me of the one so good-humoredly related by Franklin. When fresh from Boston, where food was comparatively high, he went into a baker’s shop in Philadelphia to purchase threepence worth of bread on which to breakfast, and received, to his astonishment, for the money, three huge loaves, two of which he had to carry through the streets stuck under his arms, while satiating his hunger to the full on the third.

When little more than a mile out of town, I struck off the high road through a green lane, flanked on both sides by extensive half-grown woods, and overhung by shaggy hedges, that were none the less picturesque from their having been long strangers to the shears, and much enveloped in climbing, berry-bearing plants, honeysuckles, brambles, and the woody nightshade. As the path winds up the acclivity, the scene assumes an air of neglected wildness, not very common in England: the tangled thickets rise in irregular groups in the foreground; and, closing in the prospect behind, I could see through the frequent openings the green summits of the Clent Hills, now scarce half-a-mile away. I was on historic ground, — the “various wild,” according to Shenstone, “for Kenelm’s fate renowned;” and which, at a still earlier period, had formed one of the battle-fields on which the naked Briton contended on unequal terms with the mail-enveloped Roman. Half-way up the ascent, at a turning in the lane, where the thicket opens into a grassy glade, there stands a fine old chapel of dark red sandstone, erected in the times of the Heptarchy, to mark the locale of a tragedy characteristic of the time, — the murder of the boy-king St. Kenelm, at the instigation of his sister Kendrida. I spent some time in tracing the half-obliterated carvings on the squat Saxon door-way, — by far the most ancient part of the edifice, — and in straining hard to find some approximation to the human figure in the rude effigy of a child sculptured on the wall, with a crown on its head and a book in its hand, intended, say the antiquaries, to represent the murdered prince, but at present not particularly like anything. The story of Kenelm we find indicated, rather than told, in one of Shenstone’s elegies: —

“Fast by the centre of yon various wild,
Where spreading oaks embower a Gothic fane,
Kendrida’s arts a brother’s youth beguiled ;
There Nature urged her tenderest pleas in vain.
Soft o’er his birth, and o’er his infant hours,
The ambitious maid could every care employ;
And with assiduous fondness crop the flowers,
To deck the cradle of the princely boy.

“But soon the bosom’s pleasing calm is flown;
Love fires her breast; the sultry passions rise;
A favored lover seeks the Mercian throne,
And views her Kenelm with a rival’s eyes.
See, garnished for the chase, the fraudful maid
To these lone hills direct his devious way :
The youth, all prone, the sister-guide obeyed;
Ill-fated youth ! himself the destined prey.”

The minuter details of the incident, as given by William of Malmesbury and Matthew of Westminster, though admirably fitted for the purpose of the true ballad-maker, are of a kind which would hardly have suited the somewhat lumbrous dignity of Shenstone’s elegiacs. Poor Kenelm, at the time of his death, was but nine years old. His murderer, the favored lover of his sister, after making all sure by cutting off his head with a long-bladed knife, had buried head, knife, and body, under a bush in a “ low pasture ” in the forest, and the earth concealed its dead. The deed, however, had scarce been perpetrated, when a white dove came flying into old St. Peters, at Rome, a full thousand miles away, bearing a scroll in its bill, and, dropping the scroll on the high altar, straightway disappeared. And on the scroll there was found inscribed in Saxon characters the following couplet: —

“In Clent, in Caubage, Kenelm, kinge-born,
Lyeth under a thorne, his hede off shorne.”

So marvellous an intimation, — miraculous, among its other particulars, in the fact, that rhyme of such angelic origin should be so very bad,—though this part of the miracle the monks seem to have missed, — was, of course, not to be slighted. The Churchmen of Mercia were instructed by the pontiff to make diligent search after the body of the slain prince; and priests, monks and canons, with the Bishop of Mercia at their head, proceeded forthwith in long procession to the forest. And there, in what Milton, in telling the story, terms a “mead of kine,” they found a cow lowing pitifully beside what seemed to be a newly-laid-sod. The earth was removed, the body of the murdered prince discovered, the bells of the neighboring churches straightway began “to rongen a peale without mannes helpeand a beautiful spring of water, the resort of many a pilgrim for full seven centuries after, burst out of the excavated hollow. The chapel was erected immediately beside the well; and such was the odor of sanctity which embalmed the memory of St. Kenelm, that there was no saint in the calendar on whose day it was more unsafe to do anything useful. There is a furrow still to be seen, scarce half a mile to the north of the chapel, from which a team of oxen, kept impiously at work during the festival of the saint, ran away, and were never after heard of; and the owner lost not only his cattle, but, shortly after, his eyes to boot. The chapel received gifts in silver, and gifts in gold,— “crouns,” and “ceptres,” and “chalysses:” there grew up around it, mainly through the resort of pilgrims, a hamlet, which, in the times of Edward the First, contained a numerous population, and to which Henry the Third granted an annual fair. At length the age of the Reformation arrived; Henry the Eighth seized on the gold and silver; Bishop Latimer broke down the well; the pilgrimages ceased; the hamlet disappeared; the fair, after lingering on till the year 1784, disappeared also; and St. Kenelm’s, save that the ancient chapel still survived, became exactly such a scene of wild woodland solitude as it had been ere the boy-prince fell under the knife of the assassin. The drama of a thousand years was over when, some time about the close of the last century, a few workmen, engaged in excavating the foundations of the ruined monastery of Winchcomb, in which, according to the monkish chroniclers, the body of the young prince had been interred near that of his father, lighted on a little stone coffin, beside a larger, which lay immediately under the great eastern window of the church. They raised the lid. There rested within, a little dust, a few fragments of the more solid bones, a half-grown human skull tolerably entire, and beside the whole; and occupying half the length of the little coffin, lay a long-bladed knife, converted into a brittle oxide, which fell in pieces in the attempt to remove it. The portion of the story that owed its existence to the monks had passed into a little sun-gilt vapor; but here was there evidence corroborative of its truthful nucleus surviving still.

I reached the nearest summit in the Clent range, and found it an oblong grassy level, many acres in extent, bounded on the right by a secluded valley that opens among the hills, with a small stream running1 through it, The green slopes on both sides of the hollow, for half their heights, from the summits downwards, retain all their old irregularities of surface, unscarred by plough or harrow: a few green fields, and a few picturesque cottages environed by hedge-rows, with an old mill and mill-pond, occupy the lower declivities and the bottom; and just where the valley opens into the level country we find the little ancient village of Clent, one of the prettiest and most characteristic of all old English villages. It stands half enwrapped in tall wood, and half embraced by the outstretched arms of the valley, with its ancient, time-eaten church rising in the midst, like the central obelisk in a Druidic circle, and its old, venerable dwellings betimbered with dark oak and belatticed with lead, and much beshrouded in ivy and honeysuckle, scattered irregularly around. There were half-a-dozen children at play in the grass-grown street as I passed; and a gentleman, who seemed the clergyman of the place, stood in earnest talk, at one of the cottage doors, with an aged matron in a black gown and very white cap; but I saw no other inhabitants, and scarce any mark of more : no noisy workshops, — no stir of business, — nothing doing, or like to be done. Clent, for the last nine hundred years, seems to have had a wonderfully easy life of it, — an indolent, dreamy, uncaring, summer-day sort of life. It was much favored by Edward the Confessor, as a curious charter, exempting its inhabitants from the payment of tolls at fairs, and from serving as jurors, still survives to show; and, regarding itself as a village fairly provided for, it seems to have thrust its hands into its pockets at the time, and to have kept them there ever since. Its wood-embosomed churchyard, as might be anticipated from its years, seems vastly more populous than its cottages. According to the practice of this part of the country, the newer tombstones are all in deep black, and the lettering in gold; the stones rise thick around the gray old church, half-concealing the sward; and the sun, gleaming partially through openings in the tall trees, that run hedge-like round the whole, glistens here and there with a very agreeable effect on the bright letters. It would seem as if the tomb, less gloomy here than elsewhere, was smiling in hope, amid the general quiet. I had come down on the left-hand side of the valley to visit the village, which I now quitted by ascending the hill on the right, through long hollow lanes, rich in blackberries and ivy, and over which trees shoot out their gnarled branches, roughly bearded with moss. The hill-top I found occupied, like that on the other side of the valley, by an uneven plain, covered by a short sward, and thinly mottled with sheep; and all around to the dim horizon lay, spread out as in a map, the central districts of England.

One half the prospect from this hill-top is identically that which Thomson described from the eminence over Hagley. There stretches away along the horizon a blue line of hills, from the Wrekin and the Welsh mountains on the north, to the steep Malverns and the hills that surround Worcester on the south. The other half of the prospect embraces the iron and coal districts, with their many towns and villages, their smelting furnaces, forges, steam-engines, tall chimneys, and pit-fires innumerable; and beyond the whole lies the huge Birmingham, that covers its four square miles of surface with brick. No day, however bright and clear, gives a distinct landscape in this direction; all is dingy and dark; the iron furnaces vomit smoke night and noon, Sabbath-day and weekday ; and the thick reek rises ceaselessly to heaven, league beyond league, like the sulphurous cloud of some never-ending battle. The local antiquary can point out, amid the haze, a few scenes of historic and literary interest. Yonder church, due north, in the middle distance, that seems to lead so unquiet and gloomy a life among the furnaces, — a true type of the Church militant, — had for its minister, many years ago, one Mr. Thomas Moss, who wrote, amid the smoke, a little poem known to every English reader, — “The Beggar’s Petition.” In an opposite direction there may be seen, when the sun shines, an old building, in which the conspirator Garnet, whose head wrought miracles on the straw amid which it was cast, and several of the other Gunpowder Plot conspirators, secreted themselves for many days in a cavity in the wall. I have already referred to the scene of the old British battle, and of the assassination of St. Kenelm, both full in view; and to the literary recollections that linger around Hagley and the Leasowes, both full in view also. But the prospect is associated with an immensely more ancient history than that of the

"The miracle of the straw seems to have been considerably less remarkable than the belief in it. A young Jesuit-presumptive, attached to his reverend brother the <e Martyr Garnet,” had possessed himself, by way of relic, of one of the bloody ears of straw, stained by contact with the gory head, and stored it up in a bottle. Looking at it shortly after, he saw through the glass, on one of the clialf sheathes, the miniature semblance of a human head surrounded by a glory, and called on several of his co-religionists to admire the miracle. It was, however, unsafe in those days for Jesuits to work miracles in England. Tidings of the prodigy got abroad ; law proceedings were instituted at the instance of the Privy Council; and though straw, bottle and Jesuit, had prudently disappeared, witnesses were cited to give evidence in court regarding it; among the rest, a painter named Bowen. And the painter’s testimony was very amusing, and much to the point. He had seen the miniature head on the straw, he said ; there could be no doubt of that; but then he had quite as little doubt that he could make as good, or even a better head, on an ear of straw, himself. And such was the miracle on the faith of which it was held that either Garnet was innocent of the Gunpowder Plot, or the Gunpowder Plot laudable in itself. days of the Romans or of the Heptarchy, and with a literature considerably more modem than that of Lord Lyttelton or Mr. Moss; and it is on this more ancient history, as recorded in this more modem literature, that I shall attempt fixing the attention of the reader. When Signor Sarti exhibits his anatomical models, he takes up one cover after another, — first the skin, then the muscles, then the viscera, then the greater blood-vessels and deeper nerves, — until at length the skeleton is laid bare. Let us, in the same way, strip the vast landscape here of its upper integuments, coat after coat, beginning first with the vegetable mould,—the scarf-skin of the country,— wherein its beauty lies, with all its fields and hedge-rows, houses and trees; and proceed downwards, cover after cover, venturing a few remarks on the anatomy of each covering as we go, till we reach those profound depths which carry within their blank folds no record of their origin or history.

The vegetable mould is stripped away, with all its living inhabitants, animal and vegetable; man himself has disappeared, with all that man has built or dug, erected or excavated ; and the vast panorama, far as the eye can reach, presents but a dreary wilderness of diluvial clays and gravels, with here a bare rock sticking through, and there a scattered group of boulders. Now mark a curious fact. The lower clays and gravels in this desert are chiefly of local origin; they are formed mainly of the rock on which they rest. These quartz pebbles, for instance, so extensively used in this part of the country in causewaying footways, were swept out of the magnesian conglomerate of the Lower New Red; these stiff clays are but re-formations of the saliferous marls of the Upper Red; these darkened gravels are derived from the neighboring coal-field; and yonder gray, mud-colored stratum, mixed up with fragments of limestone, is a deposit from the rather more distant Silurians. But not such the character of the widely-spread upper stratum, with its huge granitic boulders. We may see within the range of the landscape whence all the lower beds have come from; but no powers of vision could enable us to descry whence the granitic boulders and gravels have come from. Strange as the circumstance may seem, they are chiefly Scotch, — travellers, in the remote past, from the granitic rocks of Dumfries and Kirkcudbright. They lie amid sea-shells of the existing species, — the common oyster, the edible cockle and periwinkle, island-cyprina, rock-whelk (purpura lapillus), and a host of others of the kind we may any day pick on our shores. Now mark the story which they tell. This region of central England was once a broad ocean sound, that ran nearly parallel to St. George’s Channel; there rose land on both sides of it: Wales had got its head above water; so had the Cotteswold Hills in Gloucestershire; and not a particle of the Scotch drift is to.be found on either side, where the ancient land lay. But the drift marks the entire course of the central channel, lying thick in Lancashire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Worcestershire, in some localities to the depth of a hundred and fifty feet. And in its present elevation it averages in its course from fifty to five hundred feet over the existing sea. This ancient sound seems to have narrowed towards the south, where it joined on to the Bristol Channel; but such was its breadth where we now stand, that the eye would have failed to discover the eastern shore. Its waves beat against the Malverns on the one side, and the Cotteswold Hills on the other; it rose high along the flanks of the Wrekin; the secluded dells of Hagley were but the recesses of a submarine rock, shaggy with seaweed, that occupied its central tide-way; while the Severn, exclusively a river of Wales in those days, emptied its waters into the sea at the Breidden Hills in Montgomeryshire, a full hundred miles from where it now falls into the Bristol Channel. Along this broad sound, every spring, when the northern ice began to break up, — for its era was that of the British glacier and iceberg, — huge ice-floes came drifting in shoals from the Scottish coast, loaded underneath with the granitic blocks which they had enveloped when forming in friths and estuaries; and, as they floated along, the loosened boulders dropped on the sea-bottom beneath. Here lie scores in the comparatively still water, and there lie hundreds where the conflicting tides dashed fierce and strong. “In the tract extending from the hamlet of Trescot to the village of Trysull, in the south-western parts of Staffordshire,” says Sir Roderick Murchison, “the quantity, and occasionally gigantic dimensions, of these northern boulders (several tons in weight) may well excite surprise, seeing that they there occupy one of the most central districts of England. Here the farmer is incessantly laboring to clear the soil, either by burying them, or by piling them up into walls or hedge-banks; and his toil, like that of Sisyphus, seems interminable; for in many spots new crops of them, as it were, appear as fast as the surface is relieved from its sterilizing burden. So great, indeed, is their abundance, that an observer unacquainted with the region would feel persuaded he was approaching the foot of some vast granitic range; and yet the source of their origin is one hundred and fifty miles distant.”

There are few things that speak more powerfully to the imagination of the geologist than the geography of his science. It seems natural to man to identify the solid globe which he inhabits by its great external features, particularly by its peculiar arrangement of continent and ocean. We at once recognize it in the prints of our popular astronomical treatises, as seen from the moon, or through the telescope from some of the more distant planets, by the well-known disposition of its land and water; and were that disposition made greatly different in the representation, we would at once fail to regard it as the earth on which we ourselves reside. It might be some of the other planets, we would say, but not ours. And yet these great features are exceedingly evanescent, compared with the enduring globe which they diversify and individualize, — mere changing mist-wreaths on the surface of an unchanging firmament. The up-piled clouds of one sunset, all gorgeous with their tints of bronze and fire, are not more diverse, in place, arrangement and outline, from the streaked and mottled cloudlets of another, radiant in their hues of gold and amber, than the lands and oceans of any one great geologic system, from the lands and oceans of the system that had preceded or come after it. Every geologic era has had a geography of its own. The earth, like a child’s toy, that exhibits a dozen different countenances peeping out in succession from under the same hood, has presented with every revolution a new face. The highest lands of Asia and continental Europe formed ocean-beds in the times of the Oolite: the highest lands of our own country were swam over by the fish of the Old Red Sandstone.

There is much to exercise the imagination in facts such as these, whether one views in fancy the planet as a whole, ever changing its aspect amid the heavens, or calls up more in detail the apparition of vanished states of things amid existing scenes of a character altogether diverse, — buried continents, for instance, on the blue open sea, or long evanished oceans far inland, amid great forests and mighty hills. I can well understand the feeling experienced by Dr. Friedrich Parrot, as he travelled day after day in his journey to Ararat along the flat banks of the Manech, and saw in the salt marshes and brine lakes of the district irrefragable evidence that a great inland sea, of which the Caspian and the Sea of Aral are but minute fragments, — mere detached pools, left amid the general ebb, — had once occupied that vast central basin of Asia into which the Volga and the Oxus fall. He was ever realizing to himself—and deriving much quiet enjoyment from the process — a time when a sea without visible shore occupied, league beyond league, the surrounding landscape, and picturing in fancy the green gleam of the waves, interposed, cloud-like, between him and the sun. Very similar must be the feelings of the voyager on the great Pacific. We find trace in this ocean of a sinking continent, — a continent once of greater area than all Europe, — in the act of foundering, with but merely its mast-heads above the water. Great coral reefs that whiten the green depths league after league and degree after degree, for hundreds and thousands of miles, with here and there a tall mountain-peak existing as a surf-engirdled island, are all that remain to show where a “wide continent bloomed,” that had existed as such myriads of ages after the true geologic Atlantis had been engulfed.

It seems more than questionable whether we shall ever arrive at a knowledge approximating to correct, regarding the distribution of ocean and continent in the earlier, or even secondary geologic formations. The Silurian and Old Red Sandstone systems give but few indications of tend at all. and certainly no indications whatever of its place or extent. The Coal Measures, on the other hand, puzzle with the multiplicity of their alternations of land and water, — in some instances, of sea and land. We know little more than that an ocean-deposit forms very generally the base of the system, and that the deep bottom occupied by the sea came afterwards to be a platform, on which great forests sprang up and decayed; and that amid the broken stumps of these forests, when again submerged, the Holoptychius and Megalichtkys disported. The same sort of obscurity hangs over the geography of the New Red Sandstone : we but know that land and water there were, from finding, wrapped up in the strata, the plants and reptiles of the one, and the fish and shells of the other. A few insulated facts dawn upon us in the Oolite. We ascertain that the Jurasic Alps formed in those early times the bottom of the sea,— nay, that the cuttle-fish discharged its ink, and the ammonite reared its sail, over the side of the gigantic Himalaya range; whereas, from the disposition of the Oolitic patches on both the eastern and western coasts of Scotland, it seems at least probable that in that remote period this ancient country,— “Old Scotland,” — had got its head and shoulders above water. From the Weald we merely learn that a great river entered the sea somewhere near what now forms the south of England or north of France, — a river which drained the waters of some extensive continent, that occupied, it is probable, no small portion of the space now covered up by the Atlantic. It is not at all impossible that the long trails of sea-weed, many fathoms in length, which undulate in mid ocean to the impulses of the Gulf Stream, and darken the water over an area hundreds of miles in extent, are anchored beneath, to what once formed the Rocky Mountains of this submerged America. The Cretaceous system, as becomes its more modern origin, tells a somewhat more distinct story. It formed the bed of a great ocean, which extended from central England to at least the shores of the Red Sea, and included within its area considerable portions of France, Spain, Italy, Dalmatia, Albania, and the Morea, — a considerable part of Syria, as indicated in the ichthyolitic strata of Lebanon, — and large tracts of the great valley of Egypt, as shown by the nummulitic limestone of the pyramids. But the geography of these older formations, whether Palaeozoic or Secondary, cannot be other than imperfect. Any one system, as shown on the geologic map, is but a thing of shreds and patches. Here it occurs as a continuous belt, — there as a detached basin, — yonder as an insulated outlier; and it is only on these shreds and patches that the geography of each system can be traced, when we can trace it at all. The field of the map in each instance resembles one of those dilapidated frescoes of Pompeii, in which by much the greater part of the plaster has fallen from the wall, and we can trace but broken fragments of the picture on the detached bits that remain. The geologic geographer finds himself in the circumstances of the cod-fishing skipper, who, in going one day, when crossing the Atlantic, to consult his charts, found them reduced to detached tatters, and came on deck in a paroxysm of consternation, to tell his crew that they might put about ship when they pleased, for the rats had eaten Newfoundland.

With the dawn of the Tertiary ages the fragments greatly extend, and tolerably adequate notions of the arrangements of land and water over wide areas may be formed.*The reader One of the most ingenious pieces of geologic geography to he anywhere met with in the literature of the science, may be found in Mr. Charles Maclaren’s well-known “Sketch of the Geology of Fife and the Lothians.” It occurs as part of a theory of the diluvial phenomena of “Crag and Tail,” and appeals with equal effect to the reason and imagination of the reader. “If there has been a good deal of denudation on the east side of Scotland,” says Mr. Maclaren, “there has been much more on the west. The absence of sand-banks on the west coast; the greater depth of the ocean there; the numerous and profound indentations of the land, in the shape of bays, estuaries, and lakes ; the rocky islands, which had once been parts of the mainland ; the removal of so large a part of the red sandstone of Ross and Sutherland, which had once covered a hundred miles of the western coast to the depth of two or three thousand feet, and is now reduced to a few isolated cones, — all these facts, with the familiar examples of Crag and Tail, indicate that the surface of Scotland has been swept by powerful denuding currents coming must have seen Lyell’s map of Europe, as Europe existed in the Eocene period, — a map constructed mainly on the geologic, data of M. A. Boue. The land which it exhibits exists as from the west The west coast of England and Ireland also exhibits deep indentations in high rocky land. We find the same appearances in a less marked degree on the coast of Normandy and Brittany in France, and on a still smaller scale upon the west coasts of Spain and Portugal. The west coast of Norway is one long line of islands, promontories, and deep fiords, — showing that the primary rocks, in spite of their hardness, have been breached in a thousand places by powerful currents. The western coasts of Denmark, Holland and Belgium, having the British Isles before them as a breakwater, have few indentations, except where laid open by the rivers. An effect so general should have a general cause, and perhaps physical geography may afford a clue to it. If the land rose in detached portions, and by successive lifts, from the sea, we may suppose that there was a time when the surface of the globe consisted of a great expanse of ocean studded with islands. Such Adolphe Brongniart supposes its condition to have been, at least in Europe, when the Coal Measures were deposited. In this state of things there would be three great and constant currents, — one within the tropics, running westward; and two running eastward between the tropics and the poles. The trade-winds in the torrid zone, and the prevailing westerly winds in the extra-tropical regions, would alone account for these currents. But to these causes must be added the southward course of an under-current, from the pole, of cold water, with a low velocity of revolution, and the northward course of an upper current, from the equator, of warm , with a high velocity of revolution. The first would become a westerly current when it reached the tropics, and the second an easterly current when it reached the temperate zone. Such would be the state of an open ocean from the equator to the north pole ; and, mutatis mutandis, the same description applies to the southern hemisphere. All the three currents, in truth, exist at this day, but enfeebled and metamorphosed by the transverse position of the two great continents. Now, if these currents were acting permanently, and with the force which they would have if little obstructed, their operation, when tracts of land rose above the sea, would be thus : — They would form deep indentations on the east side of intertropical, and on the west side of extratropical lands; and, when acting in very favorable circumstances, would form islands, by making breaches through continents, or separating their prominent parts. The detached groups of islands. There is, first, the British group, little different in form and extent from what it is now, save that the south-eastern corner of England is cut off diagonally, from the Wash to the Isle of Wight; next the Swedish and Norwegian group, consisting mainly of one great island: and then a still larger group than either, scattered over the existing area of France, Southern Austria, part of Turkey in Europe, and part of Italy. Running through the midst, there is a broad ocean sound, that stretches across, where it opens into the German Sea, from Norway to Dover, and that then expands in breadth, and sweeps eastwards, — covering in its course the beds of the Black and the Caspian Seas, — into the great Asiatic basin. And in this Europe of shreds and fragments, — of detached clusters of islets, with broad ocean channels flowing between, boundary between the opposite currents would be between the latitudes of 28 and 30, where a zone of still water would exist; and their maximum effort would be near the equator, and within the polar circle. "When the land was rising, and near the surface of the water, or partially above it, the currents would produce the phenomena of Crag and Tail. The crag or head would point to the east within the tropics, and to the west in the temperate regions. The current would of course not flow invariably in one precise direction, but be occasionally deflected by high lands to the north or south of its true direction. We must keep in mind also, that though not perhaps very strong, it would be constant; and that transitory storms and hurricanes would generally incorporate themselves with it, and augment its force. A temporary current evidently would not explain the facts. If the same agent swept away the solid rocks which once environed and covered Arthur’s Seat and North Berwick Law, and also deposited the tail of clay and gravel lying behind these mountains, it must have acted for thousands of years. But it is more probable that there were two or more currents at distant epochs. Perhaps New Holland, New Guinea, Borneo, the Philippines, and Spice Islands, may be the remnants of what was once the southern prolongation of the Asiatic continent, and which had been breached and divided by the tropical current before Africa and South America rose from the deep to arrest its free course. The idea, however, is thrown out merely as a conjecture on a subject requiring much additional investigation.— the strange existences described by Cuvier enjoyed life during the earlier ages of the Tertiary. As we descend towards the present state of things, and lands and seas approximate to their existing relations, the geographic data become more certain. One side of the globe has, we find, its vanishing continent, — the other its disappearing ocean. The northern portion of our own country presents almost the identical outline which the modern geographer transfers to his atlas, save that there is here and there a narrow selvage clipped off and given to the sea, and that while the loftier headlands protrude as far as now into the ocean, the friths and bays sweep further inland: but in the southern part of the island the map is greatly different ; a broad channel sweeps onwards through the middle of the land; and the Highlands of Wales, south and north, exist as a detached, bold-featured island, placed half-way between the coasts of England and Ireland. I found it exceedingly pleasant to lie this day on the soft short sward, and look down through the half-shut eye, as the clouds sailed slowly athwart the landscape, on an apparition of this departed sea, now in sunshine, now in shadow. Adventurous keel had never ploughed it, nor had human dwelling arisen on its shores; but I could see, amid its deep blue, as the light flashed out amain, the white gleam of wings around the dark tumbling of the whale and the grampus: and now, as the shadows rested on it dim and sombre, a huge shoal of ice-floes came drifting drearily from the north, — the snow-laden rack brushing their fractured summits, and the stormy billows chafing angrily below.

Was it the sound of the distant surf that was in mine ears, or the low moan of the breeze, as it crept through the neighboring wood? 0, that hoarse voice of Ocean, never silent since time first began,—where has it not been uttered! There is stillness amid the calm of the arid and rainless desert, where no spring rises and no streamlet flows, and the long caravan plies its weary march amid the blinding glare of the sand, and the red unshaded rays of the fierce sun. But once and again, and yet again, has the roar of Ocean been there. It is his sands that the winds heap up; and it is the skeleton remains of his vassals — shells, and fish, and the stony coral — that the rocks underneath enclose. There is silence on the tall moun-tain-peak, with its glittering mantle of snow, where the panting lungs labor to inhale the thin bleak air, — where no insect murmurs and no bird flies, — and where the eye wanders over multitudinous hill-tops that lie far beneath, and vast dark forests that sweep on to the distant horizon, and along long hollow, valleys where the great rivers begin. And yet once and again, and yet again, has the roar of Ocean been there. The effigies of his more ancient denizens we find sculptured on the crags, where they jut from beneath the ice into the mist-wreath; and his later beaches, stage beyond stage, terrace the descending slopes. Where has the great destroyer not been, — the de-vourer of continents, — the blue foaming dragon, whose vocation it is to eat up the land ? His ice-floes have alike furrowed the flat steppes of Siberia and the rocky flanks of Schehallion; and his nummulites and fish lie imbedded in great stones of the pyramids, hewn in the times of the old Pharaohs, and in rocky folds of Lebanon still untouched by the tool. So long as Ocean exists there must be disintegration, dilapidation, change; and should the time ever arrive when the elevatory agencies, motionless and chill, shall sleep within their profound depths, to awaken no more, — and should the sea still continue to impel its currents and to roll its waves, — every continent and island would at length disappear, and again, as of old, “ when the fountains of the great deep were broken up,”

“A shoreless ocean tumble round the globe.”

Was it with reference to this principle, so recently recognized, that we are so expressly told in the Apocalypse respecting the tenovated earth, in which the state of things shall be fixed and eternal, that “there shall be no more sea” or are we to regard the revelation as the mere hieroglyphic — the pictured shape — of some analogous moral truth?    “Reasoning from what we know,” — and what else remains to us? — an earth without a sea would be an earth without rain, without vegetation, without life, — a dead and doleful planet of waste places, such as the telescope reveals to us in the moon. And yet the Ocean does seem peculiarly a creature of time, — of all the great agents of vicissitude and change, the most influential and untiring; and to a state in which there shall be no vicissitude and no change,— in which the earthquakes shall not heave from beneath, nor the mountains wear down and the continents melt away, — it seems inevitably necessary that there should be “no more sea.”

But, carried away by the speculation,
I lag in my geological survey.


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