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GEOLOGY, now deservedly one of the most 
popular and attractive of the physical 
sciences, was, not many years ago, held in 
little estimation ; and even at present, there 
are not wanting some who do not hesitate 
to maintain, that it is a mere tissue of ill ob- 
served phenomena, and of hypotheses of 
boundless extravagance. The work of Cu- 
VIER now laid before the public, contains in 
itself not only a complete answer to these ig- 
norant imputations, but also demonstrates 
the accuracy, extent, and importance of 
many of the facts and reasonings of this de- 


lightful branch of Natural History. Can it 
be maintained of a science, which requires for 
its successful prosecution an intimate ac- 
quaintance with Chemistry, Natural Philo- 
sophy and Astronomy, with the details and 
views of Zoology, Botany, and Mineralogy, 
and which connects these different depart- 
ments of knowledge in a most interesting 
and striking manner, that it is of no va- 
lue? Can it be maintained of Geology, 
which discloses to us the history of the first 
origin of organic beings, and traces their 
gradual developement from the monade to 
man himself, which enumerates and de- 
scribes the changes that plants, animals, and 
minerals the atmosphere, and the waters 
of the globe- have undergone from the ear- 
liest geological periods up to our own time, 
and w^hich even instructs us in the earliest 
history of the human species, that it offers 
no gratification to the philosopher ? Can even 
those who estimate the value of science, not 
by intellectual desires, but by practical ad- 


vantages, deny the importance of Geology, 
certainly one of the foundations of agricul- 
ture, and which enables us to search out 
materials for numberless important economi- 
cal purposes ? 

Geology took its rise in the Academy of 
Freyberg, with the illustrious WERNER, to 
whom we owe its present interesting condition. 
This being the case, we ought not, (as is at 
present too much the practice), amidst the 
numerous discoveries in the mineral king- 
dom which have been made since the system 
of investigation of that great interpreter of 
nature was made known, forget the master, 
and arrogate all to ourselves. In this Island, 
Geology first took firm root in the north : 
in Edinburgh the Wernerian geognostical 
views and method of investigation, combined 
with the theory of HUTTON, the experiments 
and speculations of HALL, the illustrations 
of PLAYFAIR, and the labours of the Royal 
and Wernerian Natural History Societies, ex- 

viii PREFACE. 

cited a spirit of inquiry which rapidly spread 
throughout the Empire ; and now Great Bri- 
tain presents to the scientific world a scene 
of geological acuteness, activity, and enter- 
prise, not surpassed in any other country. 

On the Continent the writings of CUVIER, 
distinguished equally by purity and beauty 
of style, and profound learning, have proved 
eminently useful in aiding the progress of 
Geology. In this country CUVIER was first 
made known as a geologist by the publication 
of the present essay, which, from its unexam- 
pled popularity, has made his name as fami- 
liar to us as that of the most distinguished 
of our own writers. 


25th November 1826. 




THIS Fourth Edition of the celebrated 
Essay on the Theory of the Earth, con- 
tains, besides many additional facts and 
statements in regard to the Natural History 
of the Earth, also learned discussions by 
CUVIER, on the newness of the present con- 
tinents, as confirmed by the history of na- 
tions ; and on the proofs regarding the anti- 
quity of nations alleged to be contained in 
their astronomical and other monuments. 


%d April 

Fossil organic remains are the relics of a primeval world long since 
gone past, proclaiming with a loud voice the instability of earthly 
affairs, and impressing upon the minds of those who seriously con- 
sider them, sentiments of piety and feelings of devotion. If the an- 
tiquary digs from among the ruins of Herculaneum a piece of an- 
cient money, a vase, or a statue, we rejoice with him, in finding the 
mode of life, the manners and arts of an ancient people, placed before 
our eyes : If he finds an old record, illustrative of the history of his 
country, however limited in extent that country may be, we are 
grateful to him for the particle of knowledge he has added to our 
store ; but if, among the ruins of the common country of the hu- 
man race, we linger at the great sepulchre of animated beings des- 
troyed by the hand of fate, who can look upon it without sentiments 
of piety ! It is not here the statues of Polycletus that we admire, 
but the admirable monuments of the workmanship of Nature, taken 
from the ruins of the great Herculeum overwhelmed by the ocean, 
that we look upon with feelings of the deepest wonder and devotion. 




THE attention of naturalists was early di- 
rected to the investigation of the fossil 
organic remains so generally and abun- 
dantly distributed throughout the strata of 
which the crust of the Earth is composed. 
It is not, as some writers now imagine, en- 
tirely a modern study ; for even so early as 
the time of Leibnitz, we find that philoso- 
pher drawing and describing fossil bones. 
After this period it continued to interest 
individuals, and engage the particular at- 
tention of societies and academies. The 
Royal Society of London, by the Memoirs 


of Sloane, Collinson, Lister, Derham, Baker, 
Grew, Hunter, Jacobs, Plott, Camper, and 
many others, afforded satisfactory proofs 
of the importance attached to this branch 
of Natural History by philosophers in Eng- 
land ; and the Memoirs of M. Graydon, in 
the Transactions of the Royal Irish Acade- 
my, shew that it was not entirely neglected 
in Ireland. On the continent of Europe the 
natural history of petrifactions was also 
much studied, as appears from the Memoirs 
of Hollman, Beckman, and Blumenbach, 
in the Transactions of the Royal Society of 
Gottingen ; of Gmelin, Pallas, Herrmann, 
Chappe, in the Memoirs of the Imperial 
Academy of Sciences of Petersburg ; of 
Geoffroi, Buffon, Daubenton, Faujas St 
Fond, and others of the old French Acade- 
my of Sciences ; of Astruc and Riviere, 
of the Royal Academy of Sciences of Mont- 
pellier ; of Collini of the Academia Theo- 
doro-Palatina, at Manheim, &c. But the 
geognostical relations of the rocks in which 


these organic remains are contained were 
but ill understood, until Werner pointed out 
the mode of investigating them. His in- 
teresting and important views were circu- 
lated from Freyberg, by the writings and 
conversations of his pupils, and have con- 
tributed materially to the advancement of 
this branch of Natural History in Germany, 
France, and also in Great Britain. Pe- 
trifactions are no longer viewed as objects 
of mere curiosity, as things isolated and 
unrelated to the rocks of which the crust 
of the Earth is composed ; on the contrary, 
they are now considered as one of the most 
important features in the strata of all re- 
gions of the earth. By the regularity 
and determinate nature of their distribu- 
tion, they afford characters which assist us 
in discriminating not only single beds, but 
also whole formations of rocks ; and in this 
respect they are highly interesting to the 
geognostical inquirer. To the geologist this 
beautiful branch of Natural History opens 


up numerous and uncommonly curious 
views of nature in the mineral kingdom : it 
shews him the commencement of the forma- 
tion of organic beings, it points out the 
gradual succession in the formation of ani- 
mals, from the almost primeval coral near 
the primitive strata, through all the wonder- 
ful variety of form and structure observed 
in shells, fishes, amphibious animals, and 
birds, to the perfect quadruped of the al- 
luvial land ; and it makes him acquainted 
with a geographical and physical distribution 
of organic beings in the strata of the globe, 
very different from what is observed to hold 
in the present state of the organic world. 
The zoologist views with wonder and 
amazement those hosts of fossil animals, 
sometimes so similar to the present living 
species, at other times so far removed from 
them in form and structure. He compares 
the fossil orders, genera and species, with 
those now inhabiting the earth's surface, or 
living in its waters, and discovers that there 


is a whole system of animals in a fossil 
state different from the present. Even the 
physiologist, in the various forms, connec- 
tions, and relations of the parts of those 
animals, obtains new facts for his descrip- 
tions and reasonings. Such, then, being the 
nature of this branch of Natural History, it 
is not surprising that, when once understood, 
it should have many and zealous cultivators, 
and occupy the talents of men of learn- 
ing and sagacity. In our time, Cuvier, the 
celebrated Professor of Natural History in 
Paris, has eminently distinguished himself 
by his numerous discoveries, accurate de- 
scriptions, and rational views, on this sub- 
ject. His great work on Fossil Organic Re- 
mains, of which a new edition is now in pro- 
gress, is the most splendid contribution to 
Natural History furnished by any individual 
of this age. 

The Essay on the Theory of the Earth, 
now translated, is the introductory part of 


the great work of Cuvier. The subject of 
the deluge forms a principal object of this 
elegant discourse. After describing the 
principal results at which the theory of the 
earth, in his opinion, has arrived, he next 
mentions the various relations which con- 
nect the history of the fossil bones of land 
animals with these results ; explains the 
principles on which is founded the art of as- 
certaining these bones, or, in other words, 
of discovering a genus, and of distinguish- 
ing a species, by a single fragment of bone : 
and gives a rapid sketch of the results to 
which his researches lead, of the new genera 
and species which these have been the 
means of discovering, and of the different 
formations in which they are contained. 
Some naturalists, as Lamarck, having main- 
tained that the present existing races of 
quadrupeds are mere modifications or va- 
rieties of those ancient races which we now 
find in a fossil state, modifications which 
may have been produced by change of cli- 


mate, and other local circumstances, and 
since brought to the present great difference, 
by the operation of similar causes during a 
long succession of ages, Cuvier shews that 
the difference between the fossil species and 
those which now exist, is bounded by cer- 
tain limits ; that these limits are a great 
deal more extensive than those which now 
distinguish the varieties of the same species, 
and consequently, that the extinct species 
of quadrupeds are not varieties of the pre- 
sently existing species. This very interest- 
ing discussion naturally leads our author 
to state the proofs of the recent population 
of the world ; of the comparatively modern 
origin of its present surface ; of the deluge, 
and the subsequent renewal of human so- 

In order to render this Essay more com- 
plete and satisfactory, I have illustrated the 
whole with an extensive series of observa- 
tions, and have arranged them in such a 



manner that they will be readily accessible, 
not only to the naturalist, but also to the 
general reader. 

Since the publication of the former edi- 
tion of this Essay, many curious discoveries 
have been made in regard to fossil organic 
remains : some of these are included in the 
Illustrations at the end of the Essay, others 
want of room forces us to omit. 


April 1817. 



Plan of the Essay, - - - : im/^whi^/'f-etl* gffrt -jerjwn - 4 
First Appearance of the Earth, -c, rf j -^Mmi,** - - - 6 
First Proofs of Revolutions on the Surface of the Globe, - 6 
Proofs that such Revolutions have been numerous, - - 10 
Proofs that these Revolutions have been sudden, - - - 14 
Proofs of the Occurrence of Revolutions before the Exist- 
ence of Living Beings, ---------16 

Examination of the Causes which act at present on the 

Surface of the Globe, . if .*n^ 4 _%" ,- 23 

Of Slips, or Falling Down of the Materials of Mountains, 25 
Of Alluvial Formations, >>*W*ia!*MKft -T& im: J* - - 26 
Of the Formation of Downs, ---------28 

Of the Formation of Cliffs, or Steep Shores, '8 'few- - - 29 
Depositions formed in Water, - - - - - - . ^ .4i ;, 30 

Of Stalactites, 31 

Of Lithophytes, - - - -^torfMtt* .r.&fpita4. ***** - - 32 
Of Incrustations, ----..----. -32 

Of Volcanoes, ;amc*K - 34 

Constant Astronomical Causes, --------36 

Older Systems of Geologists, 38 


More Recent Systems, -----------41 

Diversities of all the Systems, ---------44 

Causes of these Differences, ---------46 

Nature and Condition of the Problem, ------ 46 

Progress of Mineral Geology, ---------49 

Importance of Fossil Remains in Geology, 51 

High importance of the Fossil Bones of Quadrupeds, - - 53 
Small probability of discovering new Species of large Qua- 
drupeds, - -->*;* -~ ->-- - - - - - - - - - 56 

Inquiry respecting the Fabulous Animals of the Ancients, 69 
Difficulty of determining the Fossil Bones of Quadrupeds, 82 
Principle by which this determination is effected, -*Ky*ri 83 
View of the general Results of these Researches, - - - 94 
Relations of the Species of Fossil Animals, with the Strata 

in which they are found, - - - iOiciwiaaO J9 95 
Proofs that the extinct Species of Quadrupeds are not Va- 
rieties of the presently existing Species, - - - - - 102 

Proofs that there are no Fossil Human Bones, - - - - 114 

Physical Proofs of the Newness of the present Continents, 121 
Additions of Land by the action of Rivers, - - i. Uivl 123 
Progress of Downs,- - - - - - iur<M. 'to auiJ&frtTo'* ^133 

Peat-mosses and Slips, - <mift w .*'ftit3 1 rualu^nu* ai-136 
The History of Nations confirms the Newness of the Con- 
tinents, , - - - - 137 

The very remote Antiquity attributed to certain Nations 

'. J; is not supported by History, -------- 149 

The Astronomical Monuments left by the Ancients do not 
r bear the excessively remote Dates which have been at- 
tributed to them, - - - ^;}!ife4avU 1* dr* - -201 


Table of the Extent of the Zodaical Constellations, as they 
are designed upon our Globes, and of the Times re- 
quired by the Colures to traverse them, - - - - -212 

Construction and Use of the Table, - - - : ''- ;i - - -216 
The Zodiac is far from bearing in itself a certain and ex- 
cessively remote date, ---------- 230 

Exaggerations relative to the Antiquity of certain Mining 
Operations, ------------- 238 

General Conclusion relative to the Period of the last Re- 
volution, ----- - - - - - - - - - - 239 

Further Researches to be made in Geology, ----- 240 

Recapitulation of the Observations upon the Succession of 
the Tertiary Formations, --------- 243 

Table of Geological Formations in the Order of their Super- 
position ; by M. A. de Humboldt, - 249 

Enumeration of the Fossil Animals recognized by the 

Author, - - - - - 253 

Ichthyosaurus, - 255 

Plesiosaurus, ------------ 256 

Crocodile, 258 

Megalosaurus, ------.:---*-- 259 

Pterodactylus, ---- 261 

Iguanodon, - . . - , - - - - u-^v^-^ -* ;. ?? - 263 

Mosasaurus, - - - - - - - - -,>-,- 264 

Dolphin, - r< - - - - - : - ' '"*' " . "V - ib. 

Lamantin, - - - - - - - - - * - v - - 265 

Morse, .- - - - - 265 

Palaeotherium, - 266 

Lophiodon, 268 



Anoplotherium, ----- 270 

Anthracotheria, ------- -fj- 7f pj y .- 272 

Cheropotamus, ----------- - ib. 

Adapis, >r<-'if<m Srt F aliii: - 2 73 

Vespertilio, - - - - 274 

Ziphius, 280 

Mammoth, ------------- 280 

Mastodon, ------------- 281 

Hippopotamus, ------------ 283 

Rhinoceros, -------*----- ib. 

Elasmotherium, ----------- 285 

Horse, iiaJ%^^ti-P r i - 288 

Fossil Elk, ,^0^-286 

Megatherium, ------------ 289 

Megalonyx, - ------------ 290 

Bear, 291 

Man, 294 


ON the Birds to which the name of Ibis was given by the 
Ancient Egyptians, ----------- 299 




On the Subsidence of Strata, 333 

Deluge, -.. MilAA^i'l' 384 

Formation of Primitive Mountains, ------- 335 

On the Distribution of Boulder- Stones in Scotland, Hol- 
land, Germany, Switzerland and America, - - - - 344 

On the Alluvial Land of the Danish Islands in the Baltic 
and on the Coast of Sleswigh, -------- 354 

On the Sand-Flood, 368 

Sand-Flood in Morayshire, ------- 369 

Sand-Flood in the Hebrides, & ji 2 '*"* - ; - 372 
Moving Sands of the African Deserts, - - - - 375 

Action of the Sea upon Coasts, -------- 378 

On the Growth of Coral Islands, - - 379 

On the Level of the Baltic, 398 

Fossil Remains of the Human Species, ------ 406 

Account of the displacement of that part of the Coast of 

the Adriatic which is occupied by the Mouths of the Po, 410 
On the Universal Deluge, ----------417 

On the action of Running Waters, ------- 437 

Connection of Geology with Agriculture and Planting, - 453 

Account of the Fossil Elk of Ireland, 486 

Account of the Living Species of Elephant, and of the Ex- 
tinct Species of Elephant or Mammoth, ----- 508 

Account of the Caves in which Bones of Carnivorous Ani- 
mals occur in great quantities, - - - - - - - -516 

Cave containing Bones at Adelsberg, in Carniola, - - - 540 
Tabular View of the Genera of Fossil Mammifera, Cetacea, 
Aves, Reptilia, and Insecta, with their Geognostical Num- 
ber and Distribution, - - ------- 547 

Tabular View of the Classes, Orders, or Families of Animals, 
occurring in a Living or Fossil State, with their Geognosti- 
cal Distribution, --- 550 



The Frontispiece exhibits a vertical section of the Bone-Caves 
of Gaylenreuth, in Franconia. 

Plate I. is a plan shewing tfye relative position of the Tertiary 
Mineral Formations around Paris. 

II. is illustrative of the Succession of the Secondary For- 
mations, and of the Distribution of Petrifactions. 

II a. Extraordinary Fossil Animal named Pterodactylus 
longirostrus, found near Aichstedt, in Germany. 

III. Figure of an Ibis in a Temple in Upper Egypt. 

IV. Skeleton of an Ibis from a Mummy found at Thebes. 
V. Numenius Ibis, supposed true Ibis of the Egyptians. 

VI. Fossil Human Skeleton found in Guadaloupe. 

VII. Cervus megaceros, Irish Elk in the Museum of the 
Royal Dublin Society. 

VIII. Fig. 1. Head and Horn of the Fossil Irish Elk. It 
represents a larger view of the head, in which 
the different markings are delineated, and the ex- 
pansion of the horns shewn in a front view. In this 
is also seen the peculiar forked appearance of the 

Fig. 2. The portion of cast horn mentioned at p. 501, 
having the smooth convex surface at the root. 

Fig. 3. An internal and external view of the perforated 
rib, described in p. 504. 

IX. Cervus megaceros, Irish or Isle of Man Elk in the 
Royal Museum of the University of Edinburgh. 



tion nt' tli<* 

Anblfton? Jf .iJ//// * : .'*'V''V\ * ^V* *^r~~^ 

.**&. ^SWS"^! ' 

<' JbJ~tgr~1Mr*f. ^ o- J> 


- ! 

rf Jt<rrt 

" 'Zi'iri'/' ' Jt'vsfl ~ 'ii'tfft'r 

.ssses&s. 4 

J.ftrfi' nttnwe .faittfafcHf' 


bj-fiZ Wont/ : Ftuxil Fishfff 

Imf>n:vrif>n.r itfJ'laiif.f 

first a/rpeM-tmcc 01^ f'os 
and, oi '-XiwvrzZ Ot^iparffuj- 

SluJLr, Carols' & Veetable.? 

flr ftiftdfr Sandstone , with t^oal .Fi.thes. 

Fosjrt STieZLr, CoraLf, Lacertoz , Jurilej Jil 

J Cn>coiiilr,\- &< . f//.w 
erttorcLrTizre, fiuZdmy steniz .\ Du-tv/fdvnoH* Plunte . 

'ir.rt ccffpeartatc^ at^fossH. JictruajLJ" of' 

or extinct 
Hippopotamus, .'Jif[>i,r, 

Fossil Remains or ' the, Jfiarum, Species first appear in this rormettutn 

I^Mfe Mb 

/'A. i //: r. 






IN my work on Fossil Bones, the object which 
I proposed was to discover to what animals the 
osseous remains, with which the superficial stra- 
ta of the glohe are filled, may have belonged. 
In pursuing this object, I had to follow a path 
in which but little progress had hitherto been 
made. As an antiquary of a new order, I was 
obliged at once to learn the art of restoring these 
monuments of past revolutions to their original 
forms, and to discover their nature and relations ; 
I had to collect and bring together in their ori- 
ginal order, the fragments of which they consist- 
ed ; to reconstruct, as it were, the ancient beings 
to which these fragments belonged ; to reproduce 
them with all their proportions and characters ; 



and, lastly, to compare them with those which 
now live at the surface of the glohe : an art al- 
most unknown, and which presupposed a science 
whose first developments had scarcely yet heen 
traced, that of the laws which regulate the co- 
existence of the forms of the different parts in 
organised beings. I had therefore to prepare my- 
self for these inquiries, by others of a far more 
extensive kind, respecting the animals which still 
exist. Nothing, except an almost complete review 
of creation in its present state, could give a cha- 
racter of demonstration to the results of my in- 
vestigation into its ancient state ; but, from this 
review, I had at the same time to expect a great 
body of rules and affinities not less satisfactorily 
demonstrated ; and it became obvious, that, in 
consequence of this essay upon a small portion of 
the theory of the earth, the whole animal king- 
dom would necessarily be in some measure sub- 
jected to new laws. 

Thus I was encouraged in this twofold investi- 
gation, by the equal interest which it promised 
to possess, both with regard to the general science 
of anatomy, the essential basis of all those which 
treat of organised bodies, and with regard to the 
physical history of the globe, the foundation of 
mineralogy, geography, and even, it may be said, 
of the history of Man, and of all that it most con- 
cerns him to know with regard to himself. 


If it be so interesting to us to follow, in the 
infancy of our species, the almost obliterated traces 
of extinct nations, why should it not also be so, 
to search, amid the darkness of the infancy of the 
Earth, for the traces of revolutions which have ta- 
ken place anterior to the existence of all nations ? 
We admire the power by which the human mind 
has measured the motions of the celestial bodies, 
which nature seemed to have concealed for ever 
from our view. Genius and science have burst 
the limits of space ; and observations, explained 
by just reasoning, have unveiled the mechan- 
ism of the universe. Would it not also be 
glorious for man to burst the limits of time, and, 
by means of observations, to ascertain the his- 
tory of this world, and the succession of events 
which preceded the birth of the human race? 
Astronomers have undoubtedly advanced more 
rapidly than naturalists ; and the present pe- 
riod, with respect to the Theory of the Earth, 
bears some resemblance to that in which some 
philosophers fancied that the heavens were formed 
of polished stones, and that the moon was of the 
size of the Peleponnesus ; but after ANAXAGO- 
pointed the way to NEWTON ; and why should 
not natural history also one day have its New- 

A 2 


Plan of this Essay. 

W : HAT I especially propose to present in this 
discourse, is the plan and the result of my lahours 
regarding Fossil Bones. I shall also attempt to 
trace a rapid sketch of the efforts that have heen 
made up to the present day, to restore the history 
of the revolutions of the glohe. The facts which 
I have been enabled to discover, form, without 
doubt, only a small portion of those which would 
be necessary to complete this ancient history ; but 
several of them lead to decisive consequences, and 
the rigorous manner in which I have proceeded in 
their determination, affords me reason to think 
that they will be regarded as points definitively 
fixed, and which in their aggregate will form an 
epoch in science. Lastly, I trust their novelty 
will be a sufficient excuse for me, if I claim for 
them the earnest attention of my readers. 

My object will first be to shew by what rela- 
tions the history of the fossil bones of terrestrial 
animals connects itself with the theory of the 
earth, and for what reasons a peculiar importance 
is to be attributed to it, with reference to this 
subject. I shall then unfold the principles upon 
which is founded the art of determining these 
bones, or, in other words, of recognizing a genus, 
and of distinguishing a species, by a single frag- 
ment of bone, an art, on the certainty of which 


depends that of my whole work, I shall give a 
rapid account of the new species, and of genera 
previously unknown, which the application of 
these principles has led me to discover, as well as 
the different kinds of deposits in which they are 
contained. And as the difference between these 
species and those which exist at the present day 
is bounded by certain limits, I shall show that 
these limits much exceed those which now distin- 
guish the varieties of the same species. I shall 
therefore make known to what extent these va- 
rieties may go, whether from the influence of time, 
or from that of climate, or, lastly, from that of do- 

In this way I shall be enabled to conclude, and 
to induce my readers to conclude with me, that 
great events were necessary to produce the more 
considerable differences which I have discovered. 
I shall next mention the particular modifica- 
tions which my researches must necessarily intro- 
duce into the hitherto received opinions regard- 
ing the revolutions of the globe; and, lastly, I 
shall inquire how far the civil and religious his- 
tory of different nations corresponds with the re- 
sults of observation with regard to the physical 
history of the Earth, and with the probabilities 
which these observations afford concerning the 
period at which societies of men may have found 
fixed places of abode, and fields susceptible of 


cultivation, and at which, therefore, they may have 
assumed a durable form. 

First Appearance of the Earth. 
When the traveller passes over those fertile 
plains where gently flowing streams nourish in 
their course an abundant vegetation, and where 
the soil, inhabited by a numerous population, 
adorned with flourishing villages, opulent cities, 
and superb monuments, is never disturbed, except 
by the ravages of war, or by the oppression of 
the powerful, he is not led to suspect that Nature 
also has had her intestine wars, and that the sur- 
face of the globe has been broken up by revolu- 
tions and catastrophes. But his ideas change as 
soon as he digs into that soil which now presents 
so peaceful an aspect, or ascends to the hills which 
border the plain ; his ideas are expanded, if I may 
use the expression, in proportion to the expansion 
of the view, and begin to embrace the full extent 
and grandeur of those ancient events, when he 
climbs the more ejevated chains, whose base is 
skirted by these hills, or when, by following the 
beds of the torrents which descend from those 
chains, he penetrates, as it were, into their interior. 

First proofs of Revolutions on the surface of the Globe. 

The lowest and most level parts of the earth, 
exhibit nothing, even when penetrated to a very 


great depth, but horizontal strata composed of sub- 
stances more or less varied, and containing almost 
all of them innumerable marine productions. Si- 
milar strata, with the same kind of productions, 
compose the lesser hills to a considerable height. 
Sometimes the shells are so numerous as to con- 
stitute of themselves the entire mass of the rock ; 
they rise to elevations superior to the level of every 
part of the ocean, and are found in places where 
no sea could have carried them at the present day, 
under any circumstances ; they are not only en- 
veloped in loose sand, but are often inclosed in 
the hardest rocks. Every part of the earth, every 
hemisphere, every continent, every island of any 
extent, exhibits the same phenomenon. 

The times are past when ignorance could main- 
tain, that these remains of organized bodies are 
mere sportings of nature, productions generated 
in the womb of the Earth, by its own creative 
powers ; and the efforts made by some metaphy- 
sicians of the present day, will not probably suc- 
ceed in bringing these exploded opinions again 
into repute. A scrupulous comparison of the forms 
of these remains, of their texture, and often even 
of their chemical composition, does not disclose the 
slightest difference between the fossil shells and 
those which still inhabit the sea: the preserva- 
tion of the former is not less perfect than that of 
the latter; most commonly we neither observe 


detrition nor fracture in them, nothing, in short, 
that announces a violent removal from their 
original places ; the smallest of them retain 
their sharpest ridges, and their most delicate 
spines. They have, therefore, not only lived in 
the sea, hut they have also been deposited by it. 
It is the sea which has left them in the places 
where they are now found. But this sea has 
remained for a certain period in those places ; 
it has covered them long enough, and with suffi- 
cient tranquillity to form those deposits, so re- 
gular, so thick, so extensive, and partly also so 
solid, which contain those remains of aquatic ani- 
mals. The basin of the sea has therefore under- 
gone one change at least, either in extqnt, or in 
situation. Such is the result of the very first 
search, and of the most superficial examination. 

The traces of revolutions become still more ap- 
parent and decisive, when we ascend a little high- 
er, and approach nearer to the foot of the great 
chains. There are still found many beds of shells ; 
some of these are even thicker and more solid ; 
the shells are quite as numerous, and as well pre- 
served, but they are no longer pf the same spe- 
cies. The strata which contain them are not so 
generally horizontal ; they assume an oblique po- 
sition, and are sometimes almost vertical. While 
in the plains and low hills it was necessary to 
dig deep, in order to discover the succession of the 


beds, we here discover it at once by their exposed 
edges, as we follow the valleys that have been ' 
produced by their disjunction. Great masses 
of debris form at the foot of the cliffs, rounded 
hills, the height of which is augmented by every 
thaw and tempest. 

These inclined strata, which form the ridges 
of the secondary mountains, do hot rest upon 
the horizontal strata of the hills which are situ- 
ate at their base, and which form the first steps 
in approaching them ; but, on the contrary, dip 
under them, while the hills in question rest upon 
their declivities. When we dig through the 
horizontal strata in the vicinity of mountains 
whose strata are inclined, we find these inclined 
strata re-appearing below ; and even sometimes, 
when the inclined strata are not too elevated, their 
summit is crowned by horizontal ones *. The in- 
clined strata are therefore older than the hori- 
zontal strata ; and as they must necessarily, at 
least the greater number of them, have been 
formed in a horizontal position, it is evident that 
they have been raised f , and that this change in 
their direction has been effected before the others 
were superimposed upon them $. 

* See Note A, at the end of thia Essay, 
t See Note B. 

J The opinion maintained by some geologists, that cer- 
tain strata have been formed in the inclined position in which 


Thus the sea, previous to the deposition of the 
horizontal strata, had formed others, which, by the 
operation of problematical causes, were broken, 
raised, and overturned in a thousand ways ; and, as 
several of those inclined strata which it had formed 
at more remote periods, rise higher than the ho- 
rizontal strata which have succeeded them, and 
which surround them, the causes by which the 
inclination of these beds was effected, had also 
made them project above the level of the sea, and 
formed islands of them, or at least shoals and in- 
equalities ; and this must have happened, whether 
they had been raised by one extremity, or whe- 
ther the depression of the opposite extremity had 
made the waters subside. This is the second re- 
sult, not less clear, nor less satisfactorily demon- 
strated, than the first, to every one who will take 
the trouble of examining the monuments on which 
it is established. 

Proofs that such revolutions have been numerous. 
But it is not to this subversion of the ancient 

they are now found, admitting it true with regard to some 
particular strata which might have been crystallized, as Mr 
Greenough supposes, like the deposit which encrusts the in- 
side of vessels, in which water containing gypsum has been 
boiled, cannot at least apply to those which contain shells or 
rolled stones, which could not have waited, so suspended, 
the formation of the cement by which they were to be ag- 


strata, nor to this retreat of the sea after the for- 
mation of the new strata, that the revolutions 
and changes which have given rise to the present 
state of the Earth are limited. 

When we institute a more detailed compari- 
son between the various strata and those remains 
of animals which they contain, we presently per- 
ceive, that this ancient sea has not always depo- 
sited mineral substances of the same kind, nor re- 
mains of animals of the same species ; and that 
each of its deposits has not extended over the 
whole surface which it covered. There has ex- 
isted a succession of variations; the former of 
which alone have been more or less general, while 
the others appear to have been much less so. The 
older the strata are, the more uniform is each of 
them over a great extent ; the newer they are, the 
more limited are they, and the more subject to 
vary at small distances. Thus the displacements 
of the strata were accompanied and followed by 
changes in the nature of the fluid, and of the 
matters which it held in solution ; and when cer- 
tain strata, by making their appearance above the 
waters, had divided the surface of the seas by 
islands and projecting ridges, different changes 
might take place in particular basins. 

Amidst these variations in the nature of the 
general fluid, it is evident, that the animals which 
lived in it could not remain the same. Their 


species, and even their genera, changed with the 
strata ; and, although the same species occasion- 
ally recur at small distances, it may he announced 
as a general truth, that the shells of the ancient 
strata have forms peculiar to themselves; that 
they gradually disappear, so as no longer to he 
seen at all in the recent strata, and still less in 
the presently existing ocean, in which their cor- 
responding species are never discovered, and where 
several, even of their genera, do not occur : that, 
on the contrary, the shells of the recent strata are 
similar, in respect to their genera, to those which 
exist in our seas ; and that, in the latest and least 
consolidated of these strata, and in certain recent 
and limited deposits, there are some species which 
the most experienced eye could not distinguish 
from those which are found in the neighbouring 

There has, therefore, been a succession of va- 
riations in the economy of organic nature, which 
has been occasioned by those of the fluid in which 
the animals lived, or which has at least corres- 
ponded with them ; and these variations have 
gradually conducted the classes of aquatic ani- 
mals to their present state, till, at length, at the 
time when the sea retired from our continents for 
the last time, its inhabitants did not differ much 
from those which are found in it at the present 


We say for the last time, because, if we exa- 
mine with still greater care those remains of or- 
ganised bodies, we discover, in the midst of even 
the oldest strata of marine formation, other strata 
replete with animal or vegetable remains of ter- 
restrial or fresh- water productions ; and, amongst 
the more recent strata, or, in other words, those 
that are nearest the surface, there are some in 
which land animals are buried under heaps of ma- 
rine productions. Thus, the various catastrophes 
which have disturbed the strata, have not only 
caused the different parts of our continents to rise 
by degrees from the bosom of the waves, and di- 
minished the extent of the basin of the ocean, but 
have also given rise to numerous shiftings of this 
basin. ' It has frequently happened, that lands 
which have been laid dry, have been again covered 
by the waters, in consequence either of their be- 
ing ingulphed in the abyss, or of the sea having 
merely risen over them. The particular portions 
also, of the Earth, which the sea abandoned in its 
last retreat, those which are now inhabited by 
man and terrestrial animals, had already been 
once laid dry, and had then afforded subsistence 
to quadrupeds, birds, plants, and land produc- 
tions of all kinds : the sea which left it had, 
therefore, covered it at a previous period *. 

* See Note C. 


The changes in the level of the waters have 
not, therefore, consisted solely in a more or less 
gradual, or more or less general retreat ; there 
have been various successive irruptions and re- 
treats, the final result of which, however, has been 
a universal depression of the level of the sea. 

Proofs that these Revolutions have been sudden. 

It is of much importance to remark, that 
these repeated irruptions and retreats of the 
sea have neither all been slow nor gradual ; on 
the contrary, most of the catastrophes which have 
occasioned them have been sudden ; and this is 
especially easy to be proved, with regard to the 
last of these catastrophes, that which, by a two- 
fold motion, has inundated, and afterwards laid 
dry, our present continents, or at least a part 
of the land which forms them at the present 
day. In the northern regions, it has left the car- 
cases of large quadrupeds which became enveloped 
in the ice, and have thus been preserved even to 
our own times, with their skin, their hair, and 
their flesh. If they had not been frozen as soon 
as killed, they would have been decomposed by 
putrefaction. And, on the other hand, this eter- 
nal frost could not previously have occupied the 
places in which they have been seized by it, for 
they could not have lived in such a temperature. 

It was, therefore, at one and the same moment 



that these animals were destroyed, and the coun- 
try which they inhabited became covered with ice. 
This event has been sudden, instantaneous, with- 
out any gradation ; and what is so clearly demon- 
strated with respect to this last catastrophe, is not 
less so with reference to those which have pre- 
ceded it. The breaking to pieces, the raising up 
and overturning of the older strata, leave no doubt 
upon the mind that they have been reduced to 
the state in which we now see them, by the action 
of sudden and violent causes ; and even the force 
of the motions excited in the mass of waters, is 
still attested by the heaps of debris and rounded 
pebbles which are in many places interposed be- 
tween the solid strata. Life, therefore, has often 
been disturbed on this earth by terrible events. 
Numberless living beings have been the victims 
of these catastrophes ; some, which inhabited the 
dry land, have been swallowed up by inundations ; 
others, which peopled the waters, have been laid 
dry, from the bottom of the sea having been sud- 
denly raised ; their very races have been extin- 
guished for ever, and have left no other memorial 
of their existence than some fragments, which the 
naturalist can scarcely recognize. 

Such are the conclusions to which we are ne- 
cessarily led by the objects that we meet with at 
every step, and which we'can always verify, by ex- 
amples drawn from almost every country. These 


great and terrible events are every where distinct- 
ly recorded, so as to be always legible by the eye 
skilled to decypher their history in the monu- 
ments which they have left behind. 

But what is still more astonishing and not less 
certain, life has not always existed upon the 
globe ; and it is easy for the observer to distin- 
guish the point at which it has begun to deposit 
its productions. 

Proofs that there have been Revolutions anterior to the 
existence of living beings. 

If we ascend to higher points of elevation, and 
advance towards the great ridges, the craggy sum- 
mits of the mountain chains, we shall presently 
find those remains of marine animals, those in- 
numerable shells, of which we have spoken, be- 
coming more rare, and at length disappearing alto- 
gether. We arrive at strata of a different na- 
ture, which contain no vestiges of living beings. 
Nevertheless, their crystallization, and even their 
stratification, shew that they have been also in a 
liquid state at their formation ; their inclined posi- 
tion, and the cliffs into which they are broken, 
shew that they also have been forcibly^ moved from 
their original places; the oblique manner in 
which they dip under the shelly strata, that they 
have been formed previously to these latter ; and 
lastly, the height to which their rugged and bare 


peaks rise above all these shelly strata, that their 
summits had already emerged from the waters, 
when the shelly strata were forming. 

Such are those celebrated Primitive Mountains 
which traverse our continents in different direc- 
tions, raising themselves above the clouds, sepa- 
rating the basins of rivers from one another, af- 
fording, in their perennial snows, reservoirs which 
feed the springs, and forming, in some measure, the 
skeleton, and as it were the rough framework, of 
the Earth. 

The eye perceives from afar, in the indenta- 
tions with which their ridge has been marked, 
and in the sharp peaks with which it is bristled, 
indications of the violent manner in which they 
have been elevated. Their appearance, in this re- 
spect, is very different from that of those rounded 
mountains, and hills with long flat surfaces, whose 
less ancient masses have always remained in the 
situation in which they were quietly deposited by 
the waters of more recent seas. 

These indications become more obvious as we 
approach. The valleys have no longer those 
gently-sloping sides, those salient and re-entering 
angles corresponding on either side to each other, 
which seem to denote the beds of ancient streams. 
They widen and they contract without any ge- 
neral rule ; their waters, at one time, expand in- 
to lakes ; at another, fall in torrents ; and some- 



times their rocks, suddenly approaching from each 
side, form transverse dikes, over which the waters 
tumble in cataracts. The dissevered strata, while 
they shew on one side their edges perpendicular- 
ly raised, on the other present large portions of 
their surface lying obliquely ; they do not corres- 
pond in height, but those which, on one side, 
form the summit of the cliff, often dip underneath 
on the other, and are no longer visible. 

Yet, amidst all this confusion, distinguished 
naturalists have been able to demonstrate, that 
there still reigns a certain order, and that those 
immense deposits, broken and overturned though 
they be, observe a regular succession with regard 
to each other, which is nearly the same in all the 
great mountain chains. According to them, Gra- 
nite, of which the central ridges of the greater 
number of these chains consist, and which thus 
surmounts every other rock, is also the rock which 
is found deepest in the solid crust of the globe, 
It is the most ancient of those which we have 
found means of examining in the place assigned 
them by nature ; and we inquire not at present, 
whether it owes its origin to a general fluid, which 
formerly held every thing in solution, or may have 
been the first consolidated by the cooling of a 
great mass in fusion, or even in a state of vapour *. 

* The conjecture of the Marquis de la Place, that the 



Foliated rocks rest upon its sides, and form the 
lateral ridges of these great chains ; schists, por- 
phyries, sandstones, and talcose rocks, intermingle 
with their strata ; lastly, granular marhles, and 
other limestones destitute of shells, resting upon 
the schists, form the outer ridges, the lower steps 
as it were, the counterforts, of these chains, and 
are the last formations, by which this unknown 
fluid, this sea without inhabitants, would seem to 
have prepared materials for the mollusca and zo- 
ophytes, which were presently to deposite upon 
these foundations vast heaps of their shells and 

We even find the first productions of these 
mollusca and zoophytes appearing in small num- 
bers, and scattered at greater or less distances, 
in the last strata of these primitive formations, or 
in that portion of the crust of the globe to which 
geologists have given the name of Transition rocks. 
Here and there we meet with beds containing 
shells, interposed between certain granites of later 

materials of which the globe is composed, have perhaps ex- 
isted at first in the elastic form, and have successively as- 
sumed a liquid consistence on cooling, and have at length 
been solidified, is well supported by the recent experiments 
of M. Mitscherlich,, who has composed, of all sorts of sub- 
stances, and crystallized by the heat of intense furnaces, se- 
veral of the mineral species which enter into the composi- 
tion of primitive mountains. Note D. 

B 2 


formation than the others, between schists of va- 
rious kinds, and between some newer beds of gra- 
nular marbles. Life, which was in the end to 
obtain entire possession of the globe, seems, in 
these primordial times, to have struggled with 
the inert nature which formerly predominated; 
and it was not until a considerable time after, that 
it obtained the ascendancy over it, and acquired 
for itself the exclusive right of continuing and ele- 
vating the solid envelope of the Earth. 

Hence, it is impossible to deny, that the masses 
which now constitute our highest mountains, 
have been originally in a liquid state ; and that 
they have for a long time been covered by waters 
in which no living beings existed. Thus, it has 
not been only since the appearance of life that 
changes have been operated in the nature of the 
matters which have been deposited ; for the mas- 
ses formed previous to that event, have varied, 
as well as those which have been formed since. 
They have also experienced violent changes in 
their position, and a part of these changes must 
have taken place at the period when these masses 
existed by themselves, and were not covered over 
by the shelly masses. The proof of this lies in 
the overturnings, the disruptions, and the fissures, 
which are observable in their strata, as well as 
in those of more recent formations, and which 


are in the ancient strata even in greater number 
and better defined. 

But these primitive masses have also under- 
gone other revolutions since the formation of the 
secondary strata, and have, perhaps, given rise 
to, or at least have partaken of, some of those 
changes which these strata themselves have expe- 
rienced. There are actually considerable portions 
of the primitive formations uncovered, although 
placed in lower situations than many of the secon- 
dary formations ; and we cannot conceive how it 
should have so happened, unless the primitive 
.strata in those places had forced themselves into 
view, after the secondary strata had been formed. 
In certain countries, we find numerous large blocks 
of primitive substances scattered over the surface 
of secondary formations, aud separated by deep 
valleys, or even by arms of the sea, from the peaks 
or ridges from which they must have been derived. 
We must necessarily conclude, therefore, either 
that these blocks have been ejected by eruptions, 
or that the valleys (which must have stopped their 
course) did not exist at the time of their being 
transported ; or, lastly, that the motions of the 
waters by which they were transported, exceeded 
in violence any thing that we can imagine at the 
present day*. 

* The Travels of Saussure and Deluc present a multi- 
tude of facts of this description. These geologists imagined, 


Here, therefore, we have a collection of facts, a 
series of epochs, anterior to the present time, of 

that they could only have been produced by enormous 
eruptions. De Buch and Escher have recently em- 
ployed themselves upon this subject. The memoir of the 
latter, inserted in the Nouvelle Alpina of Steinmiiller, 
vol. i. presents the general results in a remarkable man- 
ner. The following is a comprehensive view of them : 
Such of these blocks as are scattered over the low parts of 
Switzerland and Lombardy, come from the Alps, and have 
descended along their valleys. They occur every where, and 
of all sizes, up to 50,000 cubic feet, over the great extent of 
country which separates the Alps from the Jura mountains ; 
and they rise upon the sides of the latter facing the Alps, 
to a height of 4000 feet above the level of the sea. They 
are found at the surface, or in the superficial layers of debris, 
but not in the strata of sandstone, molasse, or conglomerate, 
which fill up almost every where the interval in question. 
They are sometimes isolated, sometimes in heaps. The 
height of their situation is not connected with their magni- 
tude ; the smaller ones alone appear sometimes a little worn, 
but the large ones are not so at all. Those which belong to 
the basin of each river are found, upon examination, to be of 
the same nature as the mountains of the tops or sides of the 
high valleys in which the tributary streams of this river 
take their rise. They are already seen in these upper val- 
leys, and are particularly accumulated at the places which 
are situated above some of the contractions of these valleys. 
They have passed over the lower hills, when their height has 
not been more than 4000 feet ; and then they are seen upon 
the other side of the ridges, in the cantons between the Alps 
and Jura, and even upon the latter itself. It is opposite the 
mouths of the valleys of the Alps that they are seen in the 


which the successive steps may be perfectly ascer- 
tained, although the duration of their intervals 
cannot be defined with precision. They are so 
many fixed points, which serve to regulate and di- 
rect our inquiries respecting this ancient chro- 

Examination of the Causes wJiich act at present on the 
surface of the Globe. 

Let us now examine those changes which are 
taking place at the present day upon the globe, in- 
vestigating the causes which still act in its surface, 
mid endeavouring to determine the possible extent 
of their effects. This portion of the history of the 
Earth is so much the more important, that it has 

greatest quantity, and at the greatest heights ; those of the 
intervening spaces have not been carried so high. Among 
the chains of the Jura mountains, which are more remote 
from the Alps, they are only found in places which are op- 
posite the openings of the nearer chains. 

From these facts, the author draws the conclusion, that 
the transportation of these blocks has taken place at a period 
subsequent to the deposition of the sandstones and conglo- 
merates, and has perhaps been occasioned by the last of the 
revolutions which the globe has experienced. He compares 
the transportation in question to that which still takes place 
from the agency of torrents ; but the objections presented by 
the consideration of the great size of the blocks, and the deep 
valleys over which they must have passed, appear to us to 
militate greatly against this part of his hypothesis. Note E. 


long been considered possible to explain the more 
ancient revolutions on its surface by means of these 
still existing causes ; in the same manner as it is 
found easy to explain past events in political his- 
tory, by an acquaintance with the passions and 
intrigues of the present day. But we shall pre- 
sently see, that unfortunately the case is different 
in physical history : the thread of operations is 
here broken ; the march of Nature is changed ; 
and none of the agents which she now employs, 
would have been sufficient for the production of 
her ancient works. 

There still exist, however, four causes in full 
activity, which contribute to alter the surface of 
our continents. These are, rains and thaws, which 
waste down the steep mountains, and precipitate 
the fragments to their bottoms ; running waters, 
which carry off these fragments, and deposit them 
in places where their current is abated ; the sea, 
which undermines the foundations of elevated 
coasts, forming steep cliffs, and which throws up 
great banks of sand upon the low coasts; and, last- 
ly, volcanoes, which pierce through the solid strata 
from below, elevate these strata, or spread over the 
surface vast quantities of ejected matter *. 

* Regarding the changes of the surface of the earth,, known 
from history or tradition, and consequently dependent on 
causes still in operation, see the German work of M. de Hof, 


Of Slips, or Falling down of the Materials of 

In every place where the broken strata present 
their edges on abrupt surfaces, there fall down to 
their base, every spring, and even after every 
storm, fragments of their materials, which are 
rounded by rolling upon each other. These col- 
lected heaps gradually assume an inclination deter- 
mined by the laws of cohesion, and thus form, at the 
bottom of the cliff, taluses, of greater or less eleva- 
tion, according as the fragments which have fal- 
len are more or less abundant. These taluses 
constitute the sides of the valleys in all elevated, 
mountainous regions, and are covered with a rich 
vegetation, whenever the fragments from the up- 
per parts begin to fall less abundantly ; but their 
want of solidity subjects themselves also to slips, 
when they are undermined by rivulets. On 
these occasions, towns, and rich and populous dis- 
tricts, are sometimes buried under the ruins of a 
mountain ; the courses of rivers are interrupted, 
and lakes are formed in places which were be- 
fore the abodes of fertility and cheerfulness. For- 
tunately these great slips happen but seldom, and 

entitled " Geschechte der Natiirliche Veranderungen der 
Erdoberflache," 2 vols. 8vo. Goth. 1822 and 1824. The facts 
contained in it are collected with equal care and erudition. 


the principal use of those hills of debris, is to fur- 
nish materials for the ravages of torrents. 

Alluvial Formations *. 

The rains which fall, the vapours which are 
condensed, and the snows which are melted, up- 
on the ridges and summits of mountains, de- 
scend, by an infinite number of rills, along their 
slopes, carrying with them some portions of the 
materials of which these slopes are composed, and 
tracing slight furrows by their passage. These 
rills soon unite in the deeper gutters with which 
the surface is marked, run off by the deep valleys 
which intersect their bottom, and thus form streams 
and rivers, which carry back to the sea the waters 
it had formerly supplied to the atmosphere. On 
the melting of the snows, or when a storm takes 
place, these mountain torrents become suddenly 
swollen, and rush down the declivities with a ve- 
locity proportioned to their steepness. They dash 
violently against the bases of those taluses of 
fallen fragments which cover the sides of all the 
high valleys, carrying off the already rounded 
fragments of which they are composed, and which 
thus become smoothed, and still farther po- 
lished, by attrition. But in proportion as 
they reach the more level valleys, where their 

* Note F. 


violence is diminished, or when they arrive at 
more expanded basins, where their waters are 
permitted to spread, they throw out upon their 
hanks the largest of those stones which they had 
rolled down. The smaller fragments are deposit- 
ed still lower ; and nothing reaches the great 
canal of the river excepting the minutest par- 
ticles, or the most impalpable mud. It often 
happens, also, that before these streams unite to 
form great rivers, they have to pass through large 
and deep lakes, in which their mud is deposited, 
and from which their waters come forth limpid. 

The lower rivers, and all the streams which 
descend from the less elevated mountains and hills, 
also produce effects, upon the districts through 
which they flow, more or less analogous to those 
of the torrents from the higher mountains. When 
these rivers are swollen by great rains, they attack 
the base of the earthy or sandy hills which they 
meet with in their course, and carry their fragments 
to be deposited upon the lower grounds, and which 
are thus, in some degree, raised by each succeed- 
ing inundation. Finally, when the rivers reach 
great lakes or the sea, and when that rapidity, 
which carried off and kept in suspension the par- 
ticles of mud comes to cease entirely, these parti- 
cles are deposited at the sides of their mouths, 
where they form low grounds, by which the shores 
are prolonged. And if these shores are such, that 


the sea also throws up sand upon them, and thus 
contributes to their increase ; there are created, 
as it were, provinces, and even entire kingdoms, 
which usually become the most fertile, and speedily 
the richest, in the world, if their rulers permit 
human industry to exert itself in peace. 

Formation of Downs.* 

The effects which the sea produces, without 
the co-operation of rivers, are much less benefi- 
cial. When the coast is low, and the bottom 
sandy, the waves push the sand toward the shore, 
where, at every reflux of the tide, it becomes par- 
tially dried ; and the wind, which almost always 
blows from the sea, drifts it upon the beach. 
Thus are formed those hillocks of sand, named 
Downs, which, if the industry of man does not 
fix them by suitable plants, move slowly, but in- 
variably, toward the interior of the country, and 
overwhelm fields and dwellings, because the 
same wind that raises the sand of the beach up- 
on the down, throws that of its summit in the op- 
posite direction from the sea. When the nature 
of the sand, and that of the water which is raised 
with it, are such as to form a durable cement, 
the shells and bones, thrown upon the beach, be- 
come incrusted with it. Pieces of wood, trunks 



of trees, and plants growing near the sea, are en- 
veloped in these aggregates ; and thus are pro- 
duced what might he denominated indurated 
downs, such as we see upon the coasts of New 
Holland, and of which a precise idea may be 
formed from the description given of them by 
Peron *. 

Formation of Cliffs or Steep Shores. 

On the other hand, when the coast is high, the 
sea, which is thus prevented from throwing up 
any thing, exercises a destructive action upon it. 
Its waves, by sapping the foundation, cause the 
superincumbent portion of the face of the cliff, 
thus deprived of support, to be incessantly falling 
down in fragments. These fragments are tumbled 
about by the billows, until the softer and more di- 
vided parts disappear. The harder portions, from 
being rolled in contrary directions, assume the 
form of boulders and pebbles ; and these, at length, 
accumulate in sufficient quantity to form a ram- 
part, by which the bottom of the cliff is protected 
against farther depredations. 

Such is the action of water upon the solid land ; 
and we see, that it consists almost entirely in re- 
ducing it to lower levels, but not indefinitely. 

* Voyage aux Terres Australes, t. i. p. 161. 


The fragments of the great mountain ridges are 
carried down into the valleys ; their finer parti- 
cles, together with those of the lower hills and 
plains, are borne to the sea ; alluvial depositions 
extend the coasts at the expence of the high 
grounds. These are limited effects, to which ve- 
getation in general puts a stop, and which, besides, 
presuppose the existence of mountains, valleys, 
and plains, in short, all the inequalities of the 
globe ; and which, therefore, cannot have given 
rise to these inequalities. The formation of downs 
is a phenomenon still more limited, both in regard 
to height and horizontal extent ; and has no rela- 
tion whatever to that of those enormous masses 
into the origin of which it is the object of geology 
to inquire.* 

Depositions formed in Water. 

Although we cannot obtain a precise knowledge 
of the action exerted by water within its own 
bosom, it is yet possible to determine its limits to 
a certain degree. 

Lakes, pools, marshes, and sea-ports, into which 
rivulets discharge their waters, more especially 
when these descend from near and steep hills, de- 
posit large quantities of mud, which would at 
length fill them up entirely, if care were not taken 
to clean them out. The sea also throws quanti- 

* Note H. 


ties of slime and sediment into harbours and 
creeks ; into all places, in short, where its waters 
are more tranquil than ordinary. The currents 
also heap up at their meeting, or throw out at 
their sides, the sand which they are continually 
raising from the bottom of the sea, forming it in- 
to banks and shallows. 


Certain waters, after dissolving calcareous sub- 
stances by means of the superabundant carbonic 
acid with which they are impregnated, allow these 
substances to crystallize after the acid has evapo- 
rated ; and, in this manner, form stalactites, and 
other concretions. There are strata, confusedly 
crystallized in fresh water, which are sufficiently 
extensive to be compared with some of those 
which have been deposited by the ancient sea. 
The famous Travertine quarries of the neighbour- 
hood of Rome, and the rocks of the same sub- 
stance, which are formed, and continually varied 
in figure, by the river of Teverona, are generally 
known. These two modes of action may be com- 
bined ; the deposits accumulated by the sea may 
be solidified by stalactite. Thus, when springs 
abounding in calcareous matter, or containing 
some other substance in solution, happen to fall 
into places where these deposits are formed, we then 
find aggregates in which marine and fresh-water 


productions may be blended. Of this description 
are the banks in the island of Guadeloupe, which, 
along with human skeletons, present land and sea 
shells mingled together. Of the same nature 
also is the quarry described by Saussure, in the 
neighbourhood of Messina, in which the sand- 
stone is seen forming by the consolidation of the 
sand thrown up by the sea. 


In the torrid zone, where lithophytes of many 
species abound, and are propagated with great ra- 
pidity, their strong trunks are interwoven and ac- 
cumulated so as to form rocks and reefs ; and 
rising even to the surface of the water, shut up the 
entrance of harbours, and lay frightful snares for 
navigators. The sea, throwing up sand and mud 
upon the tops of these shoals, sometimes raises 
their surface above its own level, and forms islands, 
which are soon covered with a rich vegetation. 


It is also possible, that, in particular places, large 
quantities of the animals inhabiting shells, leave 
their stony coverings when they die, and that these, 
cemented together by slime of greater or less con- 
sistence, or by other cementing substances, form 
extensive deposits or shell banks. But we have no 
evidence that the sea can now incrust those shells 


with a paste as compact as that of the mar- 
bles, the sandstones, or even the coarse limestone 
(calcaire grossier) in which we see the shells of 
our strata enveloped. Still less do we any where 
find the sea depositing those more solid and more 
siliceous strata which have preceded the forma- 
tion of the shelly strata. 

In short, all these causes united, would not 
change, in an appreciable degree, the level of the 
sea ; nor raise a single stratum above its surface ; 
and still less would they produce the smallest 
hillock upon the surface of the earth. 

It has been asserted that the sea has undergone 
a general diminution of level ; and proofs of this are 
said to have been discovered in some parts of the 
shores of the Baltic.* But whatever may be the 
causes of these appearances, we are certain that they 
are not general in their operation ; and that, in the 
greater number of harbours, where any alteration 

* It is a common opinion in Sweden, that the level of the 
sea is becoming lower, and that many places may even be 
forded or passed dry-shod, which were formerly impractica- 
ble. Eminent philosophers have adopted this popular opi- 
nion ; and M. von Buch goes so far as to suppose that the 
whole of Sweden is gradually rising. But it is singular, 
that no one has made, or at least published, a series of accu- 
rate observations, calculated to confirm a fact that had been 
announced so long ago, and which would leave no doubt up- 
on the mind, if, as Linnaeus asserts, this difference of level 
were so much as four or five feet yearly. Note I. 



of the level would be a matter of so much in- 
terest, and where fixed and ancient works afford 
so many means of measuring its variations, the 
mean level of the sea is constant. There has, 
therefore, never been a universal lowering, nor a 
universal encroachment, of the waters of the ocean. 
In some places, indeed, such as Scotland, and va- 
rious parts of the Mediterranean, evidence has 
been thought to have been found, that the sea 
has risen, and that it now covers shores which 
were formerly above its level *. 


The action of volcanoes is still more limited, and 
more local, than any of those which have yet been 
mentioned. Although we have no precise idea of 
the means by which nature keeps up these violent 
fires at such great depths, we can judge decided- 
ly, by their effects, of the changes which they may 

* Mr Stevenson, in his observations upon the bed of the 
German Ocean and British Channel, maintains that the level 
of the sea is continually rising, and has been very sensibly 
elevated within the last three centuries. Fortis asserts the 
same of some parts of the Adriatic sea. But the example 
of the Temple of Serapis, near Pouzzola, proves that the 
margins of that sea are, in many places, of such a nature as 
to be subject to local risings and fallings. On the other 
hand, there are thousands of quays, roads, and other works, 
made along the sea-side by the Romans, from Alexandria to 
Belgium, the relative level of which has never varied. 
Note K. 


have produced at the surface of the globe. After 
a volcano has announced itself, by some shocks of 
an earthquake, it forms for itself an opening. 
Stones and ashes are thrown to a great distance, 
and lava is vomited forth. The more fluid part of 
the lava flows in long streams, while the less fluid 
portion stops at the edges of the opening, raises its 
margins all round, and forms a cone, terminated by 
a crater. Thus volcanoes accumulate upon the sur- 
face matters which were previously buried in the 
bowels of the earth, after modifying their nature, 
and raise themselves into mountains. By these 
means, they have formerly covered some parts of 
our continent, and have also suddenly produced 
islands in the middle of the sea. But these moun- 
tains and islands have always been composed of 
lava, and all their materials have undergone the 
action of fire : they are disposed as matters should 
be, which have flowed from an elevated point. 
Volcanoes, therefore, neither raise nor overturn 
the strata through which their apertures pass ; 
and if some causes acting from those depths have 
contributed, in certain cases, to raise up large 
mountains, they cannot have been volcanic agents 
of the same nature as those which exist at the 
present day. 

Thus, we repeat, it is in vain that we search, 
among the powers which now act at the surface of 

c 2 


the earth, for causes sufficient to produce the revo- 
lutions and catastrophes, the traces of which are 
exhibited by its crust : And if we have recourse to 
the constant external forces with which we are as 
yet acquainted, we shall have no greater success. 

Constant Astronomical Causes. 

The pole of the earth moves in a circle around 
the pole of the ecliptic, and its axis is more or less 
inclined to the plane of the ecliptic ; but these two 
motions, the causes of which are now ascertained, 
are much too limited for the production of effects 
like those whose magnitude we have just been 
stating. At any rate, their excessive slowness 
would render them altogether inadequate to ac- 
count for catastrophes which, as we have shewn, 
must have been sudden. 

The same reasoning applies to all other slow 
motions which have been conceived as causes of 
the revolutions in question, chosen doubtless in 
the hope that their existence could not be de- 
nied, because it might always be easy to hold out 
that their very slowness rendered them impercep- 
tible. But whether they be true or not is of lit- 
tle importance, for they explain nothing, as no 
cause acting slowly could have produced sudden 

Admitting that there has been a gradual dimi- 
nution of the waters ; that the sea has transport- 
ed solid matters in all directions ; that the tern- 


perature of the globe is either diminishing or in- 
creasing ; none of these causes could have over- 
turned our strata; enveloped in ice large ani- 
mals, with their flesh and skin ; laid dry marine 
testacea, the shells of which are, at the present 
day, as well preserved as if they had been drawn 
up alive from the sea ; and, lastly, destroyed nu- 
merous species, and even entire genera. 

These considerations have struck most natura- 
lists ; and among those who have endeavoured to 
explain the present state of the globe, hardly any 
one has attributed it entirely to the agency of slow 
causes, still less to causes operating under our 
eyes. The necessity to which they are thus re- 
duced, of seeking for causes different from those 
which we see acting at the present day, is the very 
circumstance that has forced them to make so 
many extraordinary suppositions, and to lose 
themselves in so many erroneous and contradic- 
tory speculations, that the very name of their 
science, as I have elsewhere remarked, has long 
been a subject of ridicule to prejudiced persons, 
who have only looked to the systems which it has 
been the means of hatching, and have forgotten 
the extensive and important series of authentic 
facts which it has brought to light #. 

* When I formerly mentioned this circumstance of the 
science of geology having become ridiculous, I only expressed 
a fact, to the truth of which every day bears witness ; but in 


Older Systems of Geologists. 

During a long time, two events or epochs only, 
the Creation and the Deluge, were admitted as 
comprehending the changes which have been ope- 
rated upon the globe ; and all the efforts of geo- 
logists were directed to account for the present 
existing state of things, by imagining a certain 
original state, afterwards modified by the deluge, 
of which also, as to its causes, its operations, and 
its effects, each entertained his own theory. 

Thus, according to one *, the earth was at first 
invested with an uniform light crust, which cover- 
ed the abyss of the sea ; and which being broken 
up for the production of the deluge, formed the 
mountains by its fragments. According to ano- 
ther f, the deluge was occasioned by a momentary 
suspension of cohesion among the particles of mi- 
neral bodies ; the whole mass of the globe was dis- 
solved, and the paste thus formed became penetra- 
ted with shells. According to a third J, God raised 

this I did not profess to give my own opinion, as some re- 
spectable geologists seem to have believed. If their mistake 
has arisen from any thing equivocal in my expressions, I here 
apologize to them. 

* Burnet, Telluris Theoria Sacra. Lond. 1681. 

t Woodward, Essay towards the Natural History of the 
Earth. Lond. 1702. 

t Scheuchzcr, Mem. de 1'Acad. 1708. 


op the mountains for the purpose of allowing the 
waters, which had produced the deluge, to run 
off; and selected those places in which there was 
the greatest quantity of rocks, without which the 
mountains could not have supported themselves. 
A fourth * created the earth from the atmosphere 
of one comet, and deluged it by the tail of ano- 
ther : The heat which it retained from its origin, 
was what, in his opinion, excited the whole of the 
living beings upon it to sin ; for which they were 
all drowned, excepting the fishes, whose passions 
were apparently less vehement. 

It is evident, that, even while confined with- 
in the limits prescribed by the Book of Genesis, 
naturalists might still have a pretty wide range : 
they soon found themselves, however, in too nar- 
row bounds ; and when they had succeeded in 
converting the six days of creation into so many 
indefinite periods, the lapse of ages no longer 
forming an obstacle to their views, their systems 
took a flight proportioned to the periods which 
they could then dispose of at pleasure. 

Even the great Leibnitz amused himself, like 
Descartes, by conceiving the earth to be an extin- 
guished sunf , a vitrified globe, upon which the 
vapours falling down again, after it had cooled, 

* Whiston, New Theory of the Earth. Lond. 1708. 
t Leibnitz, Protogaea. Act. Lips. 1683 ; Gott. 1749. 


formed seas, which afterwards deposited the lime- 
stone formations. 

By Demaillet the whole glohe was conceived 
to have been covered with water for many thou- 
sands of years. He supposed this water had gra- 
dually retired ; that all the land animals were ori- 
ginally inhabitants of the sea ; that man himself 
commenced his career as a fish ; and he asserts, 
that it is not uncommon, even now, to meet with 
fishes in the ocean, which are still only half con- 
verted into men, but whose descendants will in 
time become perfect human beings *. 

The system of Buffon is merely an extension 
of -that of Leibnitz, with the addition only of a 
comet, which, by a violent blow, struck off from 
the sun the liquefied mass of the earth, together 
with those of all the other planets at the same 
instant. From this supposition, he was enabled 
to assume positive dates, as, from the present tem- 
perature of the earth, it could be calculated how 
long it had taken to cool down so far ; and, as all 
the other planets had come from the sun at the 
same time, it could also be calculated how many 
ages are still required for cooling the greater 
ones, and to what degree the smaller are already 

* Telliamed. Amsterd. 1748. 

t Theorie de la Terre, 1749; and Epoques de la Nature, 


More recent Systems. 

In our own times, men of still bolder imagina- 
tions have exercised their minds upon this great 
subject. Some writers have revived and greatly 
extended the ideas of Demaillet. They suppose 
that every thing was originally fluid ; that this 
fluid gave existence to animals, which were at 
first of the most simple kind, such as the monads 
and other infusory and microscopic species ; that, 
in process of time, and by assuming different ha- 
bits, the races of animals became complicated, and 
assumed that diversity of nature and character 
in which they now appear. By means of those 
various races of animals, part of the waters of the 
sea have gradually been converted into calcareous 
earth ; while the vegetables, concerning the ori- 
gin and metamorphoses of which these writers are 
totally silent, have, on their part, converted a por- 
tion of the same water into clay : These two 
earths, on being stripped of the characters which 
life had impressed upon them, are resolved, by a 
final analysis, into silex; and hence the reason 
that the oldest mountains are more siliceous than 
the rest. All the solid parts of the earth, there- 
fore, owe their existence to life, and, without life, 
the globe would still be entirely liquid *. 

* See La Physique de Rodig. p. 106, Leipsic, 1801 ; and 



Other writers have preferred the ideas of Kep- 
ler, and, like that great astronomer, have consi- 
dered the globe itself as possessed of vital facul- 
ties. According to them a vital fluid circulates in 
it ; a process of assimilation goes on in it, as well as 
in animated bodies ; every particle of it is alive ; 
it possesses instinct and volition, even to the most 
elementary molecules, which attract and repel 
each other according to sympathies and antipa- 
thies. Each kind of mineral has the power of 
converting immense masses into its own nature, 
as we convert our food into flesh and blood. The 
mountains are the respiratory organs of the globe, 
and the schists its organs of secretion ; it is by 
these latter that it decomposes the water of the 
sea, in order to produce the matters ejected by vol- 
canoes. The veins are carious sores, abscesses of 
the mineral kingdom ; and the metals are pro- 
ducts of rottenness and disease, which is the 
reason that almost all of them have so bad a 
smell *. 

Telliamed, vol. ii. p. 169, as well as a multitude of new Ger- 
man works. M. de Lamarck has of late years developed 
this system to a great extent, in France, and supported it 
with much ingenuity, in his Hydrogeologie and Philosophic 

* M. Patrin has shewn much ingenuity in supporting 
these fantastical ideas, in several articles of the Nouveau 
Dictionnaire d'Histoire Naturelle. 


More recently still, a philosophy, which substi- 
tutes metaphor for reasoning, and proceeds on 
the system of absolute identity or of pan theism, at- 
tributes the production of all phenomena, or which, 
in the eyes of its supporters, is the same thing, 
all beings, to polarization, such as is manifested 
by the two electricities ; and denominating every 
kind of opposition or difference, whether of situa- 
tion, of nature, or of function, by the title of Po- 
larisation, opposes to each other, in the first place, 
God and the universe ; then, in the universe, the 
sun and the planets ; next, in each planet, the 
solid and the liquid ; and, pursuing this course, 
changing its figures and allegories according to 
its necessities, at length arrives at the last de- 
tails of organic species *. 

It must, however, be observed, that these are 
what may be termed extreme examples, and that 
all geologists have not carried the extravagance 
of their conceptions to such a length as those 
which we have just cited. Yet, among those who 
have proceeded with more caution, and have not 
searched for geological causes beyond the limits 
of physical and chemical science, much diversity 
and contradiction still prevail. 

* This application of pantheism to geology may be best 
seen in the works of Oken and Steffens. 


Diversities of all the Systems. 

According to one system, every thing has been 
successively precipitated by crystallization, and 
deposited nearly as it exists at present ; but the 
sea, which covered all, has gradually retired *. 

According to another, the materials of which 
the mountains consist, are incessantly worn down 
and carried off by the rivers to be deposited at 
the bottom of the sea, where they are heated un- 
der an enormous pressure, and form strata, which 
are one day to be violently lifted up by the heat 
which consolidates them f. 

A third supposes the fluid divided into a mul- 
titude of lakes, placed, like the seats of an am- 
phitheatre, above each other, which, after having 
deposited our shelly strata, have successively bro- 
ken their dikes, to descend and fill the basin of 
the ocean \. 

According to a fourth, tides of seven or eight 
hundred fathoms depth have carried off, from time 
to time, the matter lying at the bottom of the sea, 

* Delametherie, in his " Geologic/' admits crystalliza- 
tion as the principal agent. 

t Hutton and Play fair. Illustrations of the Huttonian 
Theory of the Earth. Edin. 1802. 

i Lamanon, in various parts of the Journal de Phy- 
sique, after Michaelis, and several others. 


and have thrown it, in the form of mountains and 
hills, upon the original valleys or plains of the 
continent *. 

A fifth makes the various fragments of which 
the earth is composed, fall successively from hea- 
ven, in the manner of meteoric stones, bearing the 
impress of their foreign origin in the unknown 
beings whose remains they contain f . 

A sixth represents the globe as hollow, and 
places within it a loadstone nucleus, which is 
transported from one pole to the other, by the at- 
traction of comets, carrying along with it the cen- 
tre of gravity, and the mass of waters at the sur- 
face ; thus alternately drowning the two hemis- 
pheres . 

We might mention twenty other systems, as 
different from one another as those enumerated. 
And to prevent mistake, we may here state, that 
our intention is not captiously to criticize or find 
fault with their authors ; on the contrary, we ad- 
mit that these ideas have generally been conceived 
by men of intellect and knowledge, who were not 

* Eolomieu, in the Journal de Physique. 

t MM. de Marschall, in their Researches respecting the 
Origin and Development of the present order of the World. 
Giessen, 1802. 

t Bertrand, Periodical Renewal of the Terrestrial Con- 
tinents. Hamburgh, 1799, 


ignorant of facts, several of whom had even tra- 
velled extensively for the purpose of examining 
them, and who, in this manner, made numerous 
and important additions to science. 

Causes of these differences. 

Whence comes it, then, that there should be 
so much contrariety in the solutions of the same 
problem, that are given by men who proceed up- 
on the same principles ? May not this have been 
occasioned by the conditions of the problem ne- 
ver having been all taken into consideration at 
once ; by which it has remained hitherto indeter- 
minate, and susceptible of many solutions, all* 
equally good, when such or such conditions are 
abstracted ; and all equally bad, when a new con- 
dition comes to be known, or when the attention 
is directed to some condition which had been for- 
merly neglected ? 

Nature and Conditions of the Problem. 

To quit the language of mathematics, it may 
be asserted, that almost all the authors of these sys- 
tems, confining their attention to certain difficul- 
ties which struck them more forcibly than others, 
have endeavoured to solve these in a manner more 
or less plausible, and have left unnoticed others, 
equally numerous, and equally important. For 
example, the only difficulty with one consisted in 


explaining the changes that had taken place in 
the level of the sea ; with another, it consisted in 
accounting for the solution of all terrestrial sub- 
stances in one and the same menstruum ; and with 7 
a third, in shewing how animals that were be- 
lieved to be natives of the torrid zone could live 
in the frigid zone. Exhausting all the powers 
of the mind upon these questions, they conceived 
that they had done every thing that was neces- 
sary when they had contrived some method of 
answering them ; and yet, while they neglected 
all the other phenomena, they did not always 
think of determining with precision the measure 
and limits of those which they had endeavoured 
to explain. 

This is peculiarly the case with regard to the 
secondary formations, which constitute, however, 
the most important and most difficult part of 
the problem. During a long time, all that was 
done with respect to these, consisted of feeble at- 
tempts to determine the order of superposition of 
their strata, and the connections of these strata 
with the species of animals and plants whose re- 
mains they contain. 

Are there certain animals and plants peculiar 
to certain strata, and not found in others ? What 
are the species that appear first in order, and what 
those which succeed ? Do these two kinds of 
species sometimes accompany each other ? Are 


there alternations in their appearance ; or, in other 
words, do the first reappear a second time, and 
do the others then disappear ? Have these ani- 
mals and plants all lived in the places where their 
remains are found, or have they been transported 
thither from other places ? Do they all live at 
the present day in some part of the earth, or have 
they been partially or totally destroyed ? Is there 
any constant connection between the antiquity of 
the strata and the resemblance, or non-resem- 
blance, of the fossils contained in them to the 
animals and plants which now exist ? Is there 
any connexion, in regard to climate, between 
the fossils and such living beings as resemble 
them most ? May it be concluded, that the 
transportation of these living beings, if such a 
thing ever happened, has taken place from north 
to south, or from east to west ; or were they irre- 
gularly scattered and mingled together ; and can 
the epochs of these transportations be determined 
by the characters which they have impressed up- 
on the strata ? 

What can be said regarding the causes of the 
existing state of the globe, if no reply can be 
made to these questions, if there be no sufficient 
grounds to determine the choice between an- 
swering in the affirmative or negative ? It is 
but too true, that, for a long time, none of these 
points was satisfactorily determined ; and scarce- 
ly even would geologists seem to have had any 


idea of the propriety of clearing them up before 
constructing their systems. 

Reason for which the Conditions of the Problem have- 
been neglected. 

The reason of this strange procedure will be 
discovered, when we reflect, that all geologists 
have hitherto been, either mere cabinet natura- 
lists, who had themselves paid little atttention 
to the structure of mountains, or mere mineralo- 
gists, who had not studied in sufficient detail the 
innumerable varieties of animals, and the infinite 
complication of their various parts. The former 
of these have only constructed systems : the latter 
have furnished excellent observations, and have 
laid the foundation of true geological science ; but 
have been unable to complete the edifice. 

Progress of Mineral Geology. 

The purely mineral part of the great problem 
of the Theory of the Earth has been investigated 
with admirable care by Saussure, and has been 
since carried to an astonishing degree of develop- 
ment by Werner, and by the numerous enlight- 
ened pupils of his school. 

The former of these celebrated men, by a la- 
borious investigation of the most inaccessible dis- 
tricts, continued for twenty years, in which he 
examined the Alps on all sides, and penetrated 



through all their defiles; has laid open to our 
view the entire disorder of the primitive forma- 
tions, and has distinctly traced the limits by which 
they are distinguished from the secondary forma- 
tions. The other, taking advantage of the nu- 
merous excavations made in the most ancient min- 
ing district in the world, has fixed the laws by 
which the succession of the strata are regulated, 
pointing out the relative antiquity of these stra- 
ta, and tracing each of them through all its me- 
tamorphoses. It is from him, and from him alone, 
that we date the commencement of real geo- 
logy, in so far as concerns the mineral nature of 
the strata : but neither he nor Saussure have de- 
termined the fossil organic species occurring in 
each kind of stratum, with the accuracy which 
has become necessary, now that the number of 
animals already known is so great. 

Other naturalists, it is true, have examined the 
the fossil remains of organised bodies ; they have 
collected and figured them by thousands, and 
their works will serve as so many precious collec- 
tions of materials. But, considering these ani- 
mals and plants more with reference to their own 
nature, than as connected with the theory of the 
earth ; or regarding these petrifactions as cu- 
riosities, rather than as historical documents ; or, 
lastly, contenting themselves with practical ex- 
planations regarding the position of each frag- 


ment, they have almost always neglected to in- 
vestigate the general laws affecting the geologi- 
cal position of organic remains, or their connec- 
tion with the strata. 

Importance of Fossil Remains in Geology. 

And yet, the idea of such an investigation was 
very natural ; for it is abundantly ohvious, that it 
is to these fossil remains alone that we owe even the 
commencement of a theory of the earth, and^that, 
without them, we should perhaps never have even 
suspected that there had existed any successive 
epochs, and a series of different operations, in the 
formation of the globe. By them alone we are, in 
fact, enabled to ascertain, that the globe has not al- 
ways had the same external crust ; because, we 
are thoroughly assured, that the plants and 
animals must have lived at the surface before 
they had thus come to be buried deep beneath it. 
It is only by analogy that we have been enabled 
to extend to the primitive formations, the con- 
clusion which is furnished directly for the secon- 
dary by the organic remains which they contain ; 
and if there had only existed formations in which 
no fossil remains were inclosed, it could never 
have been shewn that these formations had not 
all been of simultaneous origin. 

It is also by means of the organic remains, 
slight as is the knowledge we have hitherto ac- 


quired of them, that we have been enabled to dis- 
cover the little that we yet know respecting the 
nature of the revolutions of the globe. From 
them we have learned, that the strata in which 
they are buried have been quietly deposited in a 
fluid ; that their variations have corresponded 
with those of the fluid in question ; that their be- 
ing laid bare has been occasioned by the transpor- 
tation of this fluid to some other place ; and that 
this circumstance must have befallen them more 
than once. Nothing of all this could have been 
known with certainty, had no fossil remains ex- 

The study of the mineral part of geology, 
though not less necessary, and even of much more 
utility to the practical arts, is yet much less in- 
structive with reference to the object of our pre- 
sent inquiry. 

We remain in utter ignorance respecting the 
causes which have given rise to the variety in the 
mineral substances of which the strata are com- 
posed. We are even ignorant of the agents 
which may have held some of these substances in 
solution ; and it is still disputed, respecting seve- 
ral of them, whether they have owed their origin 
to water or to fire. After all, philosophers are only 
agreed on one point, which is, that the sea has 
changed its place ; and how should this have been 
known, unless by means of the fossil remains ? 
The organic remains, therefore, which have 


given rise to the theory of the earth, have, at the 
same time, furnished it with its principal illustra- 
tions ; the only ones, indeed, that have as yet 
been generally acknowledged. 

It is this consideration which has encouraged 
us to investigate the subject. But the field is 
vast ; and it is but a very small portion of it that 
could be cultivated by the labour of a single in- 
dividual. It was necessary, therefore, to select a 
particular department ; and the choice was soon 
made. The class of fossil remains which forms 
the subject of this work, engaged our attention 
at the very outset, because it appeared to us to 
be that which is the most fertile in precise results, 
and yet, at the same time, less known, and richer 
in new objects of research *. 

High importance of the Fossil Bones of Quadrupeds* 

It is obvious, in fact, that the fossil bones of 
quadrupeds must lead to more accurate conclu- 
sions than any other remains of organized bodies, 
and that for several reasons. 

* My work has, in fact, proved how far this inquiry was 
yet new when I commenced it, notwithstanding the excel- 
lent labours of Camper, Pallas, Blumenbach, Merk, Sim- 
mering, Rosenmiiller, Fischer, Faujas, Home, and other 
learned men, whose works I have most scrupulously cited 
in such of my chapters as their researches are connected 


In the first place, they indicate much more 
clearly the nature of the revolutions to which 
they have already been subjected. Shells certain- 
ly announce the fact, that the sea has once exist- 
ed in the places where they have been formed ; 
but the changes which have taken place in their 
species, when rigorously inquired into, may have 
arisen from slight changes in the nature of the 
fluid in which they lived, or merely in its tempe- 
rature. They may even have been produced by 
causes still more accidental. We can never be 
perfectly assured that certain species, and even 
genera, inhabiting the bottom of the sea, and oc- 
cupying certain fixed spaces, for a longer or shor- 
ter time, may not have been driven away and 
supplanted by other species or genera. 

In regard to quadrupeds, on the contrary, every 
thing is precise. The appearance of their bones 
in strata, and still more of their entire car- 
cases, announces, either that the stratum itself 
which contains them has, at a former period, been 
laid dry, or, at least, that dry land must have exist- 
ed in its neighbourhood. Their disappearance ren- 
ders it certain, that this stratum has been inun- 
dated, or that the dry land in question has ceased 
to exist. It is from them, therefore, that we learn 
with perfect certainty the important fact of re- 
peated irruptions of the sea, which the shells 
and other marine productions could not of them- 


selves have proved ; and it is by a careful investi- 
gation of them, that we may hope to ascertain the 
nnmber and the epochs of these irruptions. 

Secondly, The nature of the revolutions which 
have altered the surface of the globe, must have 
exerted a more powerful action upon terrestrial 
quadrupeds, than upon marine animals. As these 
revolutions have consisted chiefly of changes in 
the bed of the sea, and as the waters must have 
destroyed all the quadrupeds which they reached, 
if their irruption was general, it would necessa- 
rily have destroyed the entire class ; or if it only 
overwhelmed certain continents at one time, it 
would at least have destroyed the species pecu- 
liar to those continents, without having the same 
effect upon the marine animals. On the other 
hand, millions of aquatic animals would have been 
left dry, or buried under newly-formed strata, or 
thrown violently on the coasts ; while their races 
would still have been preserved in some more 
peaceful parts of the sea, whence they might again 
be propagated after the agitation of the waters 
had ceased. 

Thirdly, This more complete action is also 
more easily ascertained. It is more easy to de- 
monstrate its effects, because, the number of qua- 
drupeds being limited, and the greater part of 
their species, at least the large ones, being known, 
we have more means of determining whether fos- 

56 THE Oil Y OF THE EA11TH. 

sil bones belong to them, or to a species that is 
now lost. As, on the other hand, we are very 
far from being acquainted with all the testa- 
ceous animals and fishes which inhabit the sea, 
and as we are still probably ignorant of the 
greater number of those which live in deep water, 
it is impossible to know with certainty, whether 
a species which occurs in a fossil state, may not 
still exist somewhere alive. And hence, we see 
naturalists persisting in giving the name of pela- 
gic shells, that is to say, shells inhabiting the 
open sea, to the belemnites, cornua-ammonis, and 
other testaceous remains, which have hitherto 
been found only in the older strata; meaning 
by this, that if they have not yet been discovered 
in a living state, it is because they inhabit the 
depths of the sea, far beyond the reach of our 

Small probability of discovering New Species of 
large Quadrupeds. 

Naturalists, certainly, have not yet explored all 
the continents, nor do they even know all the 
quadrupeds which inhabit the countries that they 
have explored. New species of this class are dis- 
covered from time to time ; and those who have 
not examined with attention all the circum- 
stances belonging to these discoveries, might also 
imagine that the unknown quadrupeds, whose 


bones are found in our strata, may remain to this 
day concealed, in some islands not yet discover- 
ed by navigators, or in some of the vast deserts 
which occupy the middle of Asia, Africa, the two 
Americas, and New Holland. 

However, if we carefully examine what kinds 
of quadrupeds have been recently discovered, and 
in what circumstances they have been found, we 
shall see that there is little hope of our ever find- 
ing alive those which have hitherto been observed 
only in a fossil state. 

Islands of moderate extent, and at a consider- 
able distance from the continents or large islands, 
possess very few quadrupeds, and these, for the 
greater part, of diminutive size. When they hap- 
pen to contain any of the larger species, these must 
have been carried to them from other countries. 
Bougainville and Cook found no other large qua- 
drupeds than hogs and dogs in the South Sea 
Islands ; and the largest species of the West In- 
dia Islands was the agouti. 

It is true that the great continents, such as 
Asia, Africa, the two Americas, and New Hol- 
land, possess large quadrupeds, and, generally 
speaking, contain species peculiar to each ; inso- 
much, that whenever large countries of this de- 
scription have been discovered, which their situa- 
tion has kept isolated from the rest of the world, 
the class of quadrupeds which they contained has 


been found entirely different from any that exist- 
ed elsewhere. Thus, when the Spaniards first 
penetrated into South America, they did not find 
a single species of quadruped the same as any of 
Europe, Asia, or Africa. The puma, the jaguar, 
the tapir, the cabiai, the lama, the vicuna, the 
sloths, the armadilloes, the opossums, and the whole 
tribe of sapajous, were to them entirely new ani- 
mals, of which they had no idea. Similar cir- 
cumstances have recurred in our own time, when 
the coasts of New Holland and the adjacent 
islands were first explored. The various species 
of kangaroo, phascolomys, dasyurus, and perame- 
les, the flying phalangers, the ornithorynchi and 
echidnse, have astonished naturalists by the strange- 
ness of their conformations, which presented pro- 
portions contrary to all former rules, and were 
incapable of being arranged under any of the sys- 
tems then in use. 

If there yet remained some great continent to 
be discovered, we might still hope to become ac- 
quainted with new species, among which there 
might be found some having more or less simi- 
larity to those of which we have discovered the 
remains in the bowels of the earth. But it is 
sufficient to cast a glance over the map of the 
world, and see the innumerable directions in 
which navigators have traversed the ocean, in or- 
der to be satisfied that there remains no other 


large land to be discovered, unless it may be si- 
tuated towards the South Pole, where the exis- 
tence of life would necessarily be precluded by the 
accumulation of ice. 

Hence, it is only from the interior of the large 
divisions of the world, that we can have any hope 
of still procuring quadrupeds hitherto unknown. 
But a little reflection will be sufficient to con- 
vince us, that our expectations from this source 
have as little foundation as from that of the is- 

Doubtless, the European traveller cannot easi- 
ly traverse vast extents of countries, which are 
either destitute of inhabitants, or are peopled only 
with ferocious tribes ; and this is more especially 
true with regard to Africa. But there is nothing 
to prevent the animals themselves from roaming 
over these countries in all directions, and pene- 
trating to the coasts. Even when there may be 
great chains of mountains between the coasts and 
the deserts of the interior, they must always be 
broken in some places to allow the rivers to pass 
through ; and, in these burning deserts, the qua- 
drupeds naturally follow the banks of rivers. 
The inhabitants of the coasts also ascend these 
rivers, and soon become acquainted with all the 
remarkable species which exist even to their 
sources, either from personal observation, or by 
means of intercourse with the inhabitants of 


the interior. At no period, therefore, could 
civilized nations have frequented the coast of a 
large country for any considerable length of time, 
without gaining some tolerable knowledge of such 
of the animals which it contained as were re- 
markable for their size or configuration. 

This reasoning is confirmed by well known 
facts. Although the ancients never passed the 
mountains of Imaus, or crossed the Ganges, in 
Asia ; and, although they never penetrated very 
far beyond Mount Atlas, in Africa ; yet were 
they, iti reality, acquainted with all the large a- 
nimals of these two divisions of the world ; and, 
if they have not distinguished all the species, it 
was not because they had not seen them, or heard 
them spoken of by others, but because the mu- 
tual resemblances of some of these species caused 
them to be confounded together. The only im- 
portant exception which can be opposed to this as- 
sertion, presents itself in the Tapir of Malacca, 
recently sent home from India by two young na- 
turalists, pupils of mine, Messrs Duvaucel and 
Diard, and which in fact is one of the most inte- 
resting discoveries with which Natural History 
has been enriched in these latter times. 

The ancients were perfectly acquainted with 
the Elephant ; and the history of that quadruped 
is given more accurately by Aristotle than by 
Buffon. They were not even ignorant of some of 


the differences which distinguish the elephants of 
Africa from those of Asia*. 

They knew the two-horned Rhinoceros, which 
has never been seen alive in 'modern Europe. 
Doraitian exhibited it at Rome, and had it 
stamped on his medals, which have been very 
well described by Pausanias. 

The one-horned Rhinoceros, distant as was its 
country, was equally known to them. Pompey 
shewed one at Rome ; and Strabo has accurately 
described another which he saw at Alexandriaf. 

The Rhinoceros of Sumatra described by Mr 
Bell ; and that of Java, discovered and sent home 
by Messrs Duvaucel and Diard, do not appear to 
inhabit the continent. Hence, it is not surpris- 
ing, that the ancients should have been ignorant 
of them ; besides, they probably would not have 
distinguished them from the others. 

The Hippopotamus has not been so well de- 
scribed as the preceding animals ; yet very exact 
representations of it have been left by the Ro- 
mans in their monuments relative to Egypt, such 
as the statue of the Nile, the Palestrine pave- 

* This is more particularly noticed in the Chapter on 
Elephants in the first volume of Professor Cuvier-'s Recher- 

t See the history of the Rhinoceros in the first part of 
the second volume of Professor Cuvier's Recherchts. 


ment, and a great number of medals. In fact, 
this animal was repeatedly seen by the Romans ; 
having been exhibited by Scaurus, Augustus, 
Antoninus, Commodus, Heliogabalus, Philip, 
and Carinus *. 

The two species of Camel, the Bactrian and 
Arabian, are both very well described and charac- 
terized by Aristotle f . 

The Giraffe, or Camelopard (Camel-Leopard), 
was also well known to the ancients. A live one 
was shewn at Rome, in the circus, during the 
dictatorship of Julius Caesar, in the year of Rome 
708 ; and ten of them were exhibited together by 
Gordian III. all of which were killed at the se- 
cular games of Philip J, a circumstance which 
may well surprise the moderns, who have only 
witnessed a single individual, which was sent by 
the Soldan of Egypt to Laurentius de Medicis, 
in the fifteenth century, and is painted in the 
frescoes of Poggio-Cajano. 

If we read with attention the descriptions of 
the Hippopotamus, given by Herodotus and A- 
ristotle, and which are supposed to have been 
borrowed from Hecataeus of Miletum, we shall 

* See the chapter on the Hippopatamus, in the first 
volume of Recherches. 

t Hist. Anim. Lib. ii. cap. 1. 
J Jul. Capitol., Oord. iii. cap. 23. 


find, that they must have been made up from two 
different animals, one of which was perhaps the 
true hippopotamus, and the other was assuredly 
the Gnou *, a quadruped, of which our natura- 
lists begin to take notice only about the end of 
the eighteenth century. It is the same animal 
of which fabulous accounts were given by Pliny 
and jElian, under the name of catoblepas and 
catablepon f . 

The Ethiopian Boar of Agatharchides, which 
is 'described as having horns, is precisely the 
Ethiopian Boar of modern times, the enormous 
tusks of which deserve the name of horns nearly 
as much as those of the elephant J. 

The Bubalus and Nagor are described by 
Pliny ; the Gazelle by .ZElian \\ ; the Oryx by 
Oppian ^[ ; the Axis, so early as the time of Cte- 
sias ** ; and the Algazel, and Corinne, are accu- 
rately figured upon the Egyptian monuments f f . 

* Antilope Gnu, Gmel. 

t Pliny, Lib. viii. cap. 32. ; and Julian, Lib. vii. cap. 5- 

J Julian, Anim. v. 27- 

Pliny, lib. viii. cap. 15. ; and lib. xi. cap. 37. 

|| ^Elian, Anim. xiv. 14. 

IF Opp. Cyneg., ii.'v. 445. et seq. 

** Pliny, lib. viii. cap. 21. 

tt See the great Work upon Egypt, Antiq, iv. pi. 49. ; 
and pi. 66. 


has well described the Bos grunniens 
or Yak, under the name of the ox having a tail 
which serves for a fly-flapper *. 

The Buffalo was not domesticated hy the an- 
cients ; but the Indian Ox, of which Julian 
speaks f , and which had horns large enough to 
hold three amphorae, was assuredly that variety 
of the buffalo which is now called the arnee. 
And even the wild ox with depressed horns, 
which is mentioned by Aristotle as inhabiting 
Arachosia, a province of ancient Persia, could be 
nothing else than the common buffalo J. 

The ancients were acquainted with the horn- 
less variety of the ox 5, and with the African 
oxen, whose horns, being only attached to the 
skin, moved with it[|. They also knew the In- 
dian oxen, which equalled the horse in speed ^f ; 
and those which were so small as not to exceed a 
he-goat in size**. Nor were the broad- tailed 
sheep unknown to them f f , nor those of India, 
which were said to be as large as asses J J. 

Although the accounts left us by the ancients, 

* ./Elian, Anim. xv. 14. 

t Idem, Anim. iii. 34. 

J Arist. Hist. Anim. lib. ii. cap. 5. 

jElian, ii. 53. || Idem, ii, 20. 

IT Idem, xv. 24. ** Idem, xv. 24. 

ft Idem, Anim. iii. 3. JJ Idem, iv. 32. 


respecting the Aurochs, the Rein-deer, and Elk, 
are all mingled with fable, they are yet sufficient 
to prove that these animals were in some degree 
known to them, but that the reports which had 
reached them, had been communicated by igno- 
rant people, and had not been corrected by a ju- 
dicious examination *. These animals still inha- 
bit the countries which the ancients assigned to 
them ; and have only disappeared in such of them 
as have been too much cultivated for their ha- 
bits. The aurochs f and elk still exist in the fo- 
rests of Lithuania, which were formerly continu- 
ous with the great Hercynian Forest. The for- 
mer of these animals still occurs in the northern 
parts of Greece, as it did in the days of Pausa- 
nias. The rein-deer inhabits the snowy regions 
of the north, where it always had its abode ; it 
changes its colour, not at pleasure, but according 
to the change of the seasons. It was in conse- 
quence of mistakes scarcely excusable, that it was 
imagined to have occurred in the Pyrenees in the 
fourteenth century $. 

* This is more particularly explained in the chapters 
upon Deer and Oxen, in the fourth volume of Professor Cu- 
vier's Recherches. 

t Aurochs is Bos Urus, Lin., not the Urus of the ancients, 
which latter appears now to be extinct. 

J Buffon having read in Du Fouilloux a mutilated pas- 
sage of Gaston-Phebus, Count de Foix, in which that prince 
describes the chace of the rein-deer, imagined that, in the 
time of Gaston, this animal lived in the Pyrenees ; and the 

>* K 


Even the White Bear had been seen in Egypt 
while under the Ptolemies *. 

Lions and Panthers were common at Rome, 
where they were presented by hundreds in the 
games of the Circus. Even several Tigers were 
exhibited there, as well as the Striped Hyena 
and the Crocodile of the Nile. In the ancient 
mosaics preserved at Rome, there are excellent 
representations of the rarest of these animals. 
Among others, the striped hyena is seen repre- 
sented with accuracy in a fragment preserved in 
the Museum of the Vatican ; and, while I was at 
Rome in 1809, a mosaic pavement, composed of 
natural stones, arranged in the Florentine man- 
ner, was discovered in a garden beside the tri- 
umphal arch of Galienus, which represented four 
Bengal tigers executed in a superior manner. 

In the Museum of the Vatican, there is depo- 
sited the figure of a crocodile in basalt, which is 
almost a perfect representation of that animal f. 

printed editions of Gaston were so faulty, that it was diffi- 
cult to make out, with certainty, what the author had in- 
tended to say ; but having had recourse to his original ma- 
nuscript, which is preserved in the Royal Library, I have 
ascertained that it was in Xueden and Nourvegue, (Sweden 
and Norway), that he relates having seen and hunted the 
rein- deer. 

* Athenseis, lib. v. 

t The only error committed, is that of giving it a claw 


It cannot in the least be doubted, that the 
Hippotigris was the Zebra, which, however, is 
only found in the southern parts of Africa *. 

It would be easy to shew that almost all the 
more remarkable species of Apes and Monkeys 
have been distinctly indicated by the ancients, 
under the names of Pithed, Sphinxes, Satyri, 
Cebi, Cynocephali, and Cercopitheci f . 

They even knew, and have described several 
species of Glires of inconsiderable size, when these 
animals presented any thii7*^emarkable in their 
conformation or properties*!]^ But the small 
species are of no importance with reference to 
the object in view ; and, it is sufficient for our 
purpose to have shewn, that all the large species, 
which possess any remarkable character, and which 
we know to inhabit Europe, Asia, and Africa, at 
the present day, were known to the ancients ; 

too much to the hind foot. Augustus exhibited thirty-six 
of them ; Dion, lib. Iv. 

* Caracalla killed one of them in the Circus ; Dion, 
lib. Ixxvii. Consult also Gisb. Cuperi de Eleph. in mimmis 
obviis, ex. ii. cap. vii. 

t See Lichtenstein, Comment, de Simiarum quotquot 
veteribus innotuerunt formis. Hamburgh, 1791. 

J The Jerboa is impressed upon the medals of Cy- 
rene, and indicated by Aristotle under the name of Two- 
legged Rat. 

1 E 2 


whence we may fairly conclude, that their silence 
in respect to the small quadrupeds, and their ne- 
glect in distinguishing the species which very 
nearly resemble each other, as the various species 
of antelopes, and of some other genera, were occa- 
sioned by want of attention and ignorance of me- 
thodical arrangement, rather than by any diffi- 
culty proceeding from climate. We may also 
conclude, with equal certainty, that, as the lapse 
of eighteen or twenty centuries, together with the 
advantages of circumnavigating Africa, and of pe- 
netrating into India, have added nothing in this 
department to the information left us by the an- 
cients, there is no probability that succeeding 
ages will add much to the knowledge of our po- 

But perhaps some persons may be disposed to 
employ an opposite train of argument, and to al- 
lege that the ancients were not only acquainted 
with as many large qradupeds as we are, as has 
already been shewn, but that they have described 
several others which we do not now know, that 
we act rashly in considering these animals as fabu- 
lous, that we ought to search for them before 
concluding that we have exhausted the history 
of the present animal creation, and, in fine, that 
among those animals which we presume to be fa- 
bulous, we may, perhaps, discover, when we be- 
come better acquainted with them, the originals 


of those bones of unknown animals which we dis- 
cover buried in the earth. Some may even con- 
ceive, that those various monsters, which consti- 
tute the essential rnaments of the history of the 
heroic ages of almost all countries, are precisely 
those very species which it was necessary to de- 
stroy, in order to allow the establishment of civi- 
lization. Thus the Theseuses and Bellerophons 
of ancient times had been more fortunate than all 
the nations of our days, which have only been 
able to drive back the noxious animals, but have 
never yet succeeded in exterminating a single 

Inquiry respecting the Fabulous Animals of the An- 

It is easy to reply to the foregoing objection, by 
examining the descriptions of these unknown be- 
ings, and by inquiring into their origins. The 
greater number of them have an origin purely my- 
thological, and of this origin their descriptions 
bear unequivocal marks ; for in almost all of them 
we see merely parts of known animals united by 
an unbridled imagination, and in contradiction to 
all the laws of nature. 

Those which were invented or arranged by the 
Greeks, have at least the merit of possessing ek* 
gance in their composition. Like those ara- 


besques which decorate the remains of some ancient 
buildings, and which have been multiplied by the 
fertile, pencil of Raphael, the forms which they 
combine, however repugnant to reason they may 
be, present agreeable contours. They are the 
fantastic productions of playful genius ; perhaps 
emblematic representations in the oriental taste, 
in which were supposed to be concealed under my- 
stical images certain propositions in metaphysics 
or in morals. We may excuse those who employ 
their time in attempts to discover the wisdom con- 
cealed in the sphinx of Thebes, the pegasus of 
Thessaly, the minotaur of Crete, or the chimera 
of Epirus ; but it would be absurd to expect seri- 
ously to find such productions in nature. As well 
might we search for the animals described in the 
Book of Daniel, or for the beast of the Apoca- 

Neither may we look for the mythological ani- 
mals of the Persians, creatures of a still bolder 
imagination : the martichore, or man-destroyer, 
bearing a human head on the body of a lion, ter- 
.minated by the tail of a scorpion * ; the griffon, 
guardian of treasures, half eagle, half lion f ; the 

* Plin. viii. 31. Arist. lib. ii. cap. 40. Phot. Bibl., Art. 
72 ; Ctes. Indie. vElian. Anim., iv. 21. 

t ^Elian, Anim. iv. 27. 


cartazonon, or wild ass, armed with a long horn 
on its forehead *. 

Ctesias, who has described these as real animals, 
has been looked upon by many authors as an in- 
ventor of fables ; whereas he has merely attribut- 
ed an actual existence to emblematical figures. 
These imaginary compositions have been seen in 
modern times sculptured upon the ruins of Per- 
sepolis f . What they were intended to signify 
we shall probably never know ; but of this much 
we are certain, that they do not represent actual 

Agatharchidas, another fabricator of animals, 
drew his information in all probability from a si- 
milar source. The ancient Egyptian monuments 
still furnish us with numerous fantastic representa- 
tions, in which the parts of different species are 
combined : gods are often figured with a human 
body and the head of an animal, and animals are 
seen with human heads ; thus giving rise to the 
cynocephali, sphinxes, and satyrs of ancient natu- 
ralists. The custom of representing in the same 
painting men of very different sizes, of making the 

* jElian, xvi, 20. Photius, Bibl., art. 72. Ctes. Indie. 

t See Corneille Lebrun, Voyage en Muscovie, en Perse et 
aux Indes, torn. ii. See also the German work by M. Hee- 
ren, on the Commerce of the Ancients. 


king or the conqueror gigantic, the subjects or the 
conquered three or four times smaller, must have 
given rise to the fable of the pigmies. It was in 
some corner of one of these monuments that Aga- 
tharchidas must have seen his carnivorous bull, 
which, with mouth extending from ear to ear, de- 
voured every other animal*. Certainly no natura- 
list would admit the existence of such an animal ; 
for nature never combines either cloven hoofs or 
horns with teeth adapted for devouring animal 

There may perhaps have been many other fi- 
gures equally strange, either among such of these 
monuments as have not been able to resist the ra- 
vages of time, or in the temples of Ethiopia and 
Arabia, which have been destroyed by the religi- 
ous zeal of the Mahometans and Abyssinians. 
The monuments of India teem with such figures ; 
but the combinations in these are too extravagant 
to have deceived any one. Monsters with a hun- 
dred arms, and twenty heads all different from 
one another, are far too absurd to be believed. 
Nay, the inhabitants of Japan and China also 
have their imaginary animals, which they repre- 
sent as real, and which figure even in their religi- 
ous books. The Mexicans had them. In short, 

* Photius, Bibl v art. 250. Agatharchid., Excerpt. hist v 
/pap. xxxix. .^Elian, Anim xvii. 45. Plin. viii, 21. 


they are the fashion among all nations, whether 
at the periods when their idolatry has not yet been 
refined, or when the import of these emblematical 
combinations has been lost. But who would dare 
to affirm that he had found those productions of 
ignorance and superstition in nature ? And yet it 
may have happened that travellers, influenced by 
a desire of making themselves famous, might pre- 
tend that they had seen those strange beings, or 
that, deceived by a slight resemblance, into which 
they were too careless to enquire, they may have 
taken real animals for them. In the eyes of such 
people, large baboons or monkeys may have ap- 
peared true cynocephali, sphinxes, or men with 
tails. It is thus that St Augustin may have ima- 
gined he had seen a satyr. 

Some real animals, inaccurately observed and 
described, may have given rise to monstrous ideas, 
which, however, have had their foundation in some 
reality. Thus, we can have no doubt of the ex- 
istence of the hyena, although that animal has not 
its neck supported by a single bone *, and al- 

* I have even seen, in the collection of the late Mr Ad- 
drien Camper, a skeleton of a hyena, in which several of the 
vertebrae of the neck were anchylosed. It was probably 
from seeing some similar individual that the character in 
question was attributed to all hyenas. This animal ought 
to be more subject than any other to such an accident, on 


though it does not change its sex every year, as 
Pliny alleges*. Thus, also, the carnivorous bull is 
perhaps nothing else than a two-horned rhinoceros 
erroneously described. M. de Weltheim affirms 
with probability, that the auriferous ants of He- 
rodotus are corsacs. 

One of the most famous amongst these fabulous 
animals of the ancients, is the unicorn. Even to 
our own time people have obstinately persisted in 
searching for it, or, at least, in seeking arguments 
to prove its existence. Three several animals are 
frequently mentioned by the ancients as having 
only one horn in the middle of the forehead. The 
African oryx, having cloven hoofs, the hair 
placed in the contrary direction to that of other 
animals f, equal in size to the bull \ 9 or even the 

account of the prodigious power of the muscles of its neck, 
and the frequent use which it makes of them. When the 
hyena has laid hold of any thing, it is easier to drag it along 
by it than to wrest it from its jaws ; and it is this circum- 
stance which has caused the Arabs to consider it as the em- 
blem of invincible obstinacy. 

* It does not in reality change its sex, but it has an ori- 
fice in the perineum, which might make it be supposed to 
be hermaphrodite. 

t Arist. Anim. ii. 1. iii. 1. Plin. xl. 46. 
t Herod, iv. 192. 


rhinoceros *, and said to resemble deer and goats 
in form f ; the Indian ass, having solid hoofs ; 
and the monoceros, properly so called, whose feet 
are sometimes compared to those of the lion f, and 
sometimes to those of the elephant , and which 
is therefore considered as having divided feet. 
The one-horned horse || and one-horned bull are 
doubtless both to be referred to the Indian ass, for 
even the latter is described as having solid hoofs ^f. 
I would ask, If these animals exist as distinct spe- 
cies, should we not at least have their horns in 
our collections ? And what single horns do we 
possess, excepting those of the rhinoceros and nar- 
wal ? 

How is it possible, after this, to refer to rude 
figures traced by savages upon rocks**? Ignorant 
of perspective, and wishing to represent a straight 
horned antelope in profile, they could only give it 
a single horn, and thus they produced an oryx. 
The oryxes, too, that are seen on the Egyptian 
monuments, are probably nothing more than pro- 
ductions of the stiff style, imposed upon the ar- 

* Oppian, Cyneg. ii. vers. 551. t Plin. viii. 53. 

t Philostorg. iii. 11. | Plin. viii. 21. 

|| Onesicrit, ap. Strab. lib. xv. jiElian, xiii. 42. 
1T Plin. viii. 31. 
** Barrow's Voyage to the Cape, Fr. transl. ii. 178. 


tists of that country by their religion. Many of 
their profiles of quadrupeds shew only one fore 
and one hind leg ; and this being the case, why 
should they have shewn two horns ? It may per- 
haps have chanced that individuals have been ta- 
ken in the chace, which had accidentally lost one 
of their horns, as pretty frequently happens to the 
chamois and saiga : and this would have been 
sufficient to confirm the error produced by these 
representations. It is probably in this way that 
the unicorn has recently been reported to be found 
in the mountains of Thibet. 

All the ancients, however, have not represented 
the oryx as having only one horn. Oppian ex- 
pressly gives it several #, and JElian mentions 
oryxes which had four f . Finally, if this animal 
was ruminant and cloven-hoofed, we know assu- 
redly that its frontal bone must have been longi- 
tudinally divided into two, and that it could not, 
as is very justly remarked by Camper, have had a 
horn placed upon the suture. 

But it may be asked, What two-horned animal 
could have given the idea of the oryx, and pre- 
sented the characters which it is described as pos- 
sessing with regard to its conformation, even in- 

* Oppian, Cyneg, lib. II. v. 468. and 471. 
t De Anim. lib. xv. cap. 14. 


dependent of the notion of a single horn ? To this 
I reply, with Pallas, that it was the straight 
horned antelope, the Antilope oryx of Gmelin, 
improperly named pasan by Buffon. It inhabits 
the deserts of Africa, and must approach the con- 
fines of Egypt. It is this animal which the hie- 
roglyphics appear to represent. Its form is near- 
ly that of the stag ; its size equals that of the 
bull ; the hair of its back is directed toward the 
head ; its horns form exceedingly formidable wea- 
pons, pointed like javelins, and hard as iron ; its 
hair is whitish, and its face is marked with spots 
and streaks of black. Such is the description gi- 
ven of it by naturalists ; and the fables of the 
Egyptian priests, which have occasioned the in- 
sertion of its figure among their hieroglyphics, do 
not require to have been founded in nature. Sup- 
posing, therefore, that an individual of this spe- 
cies had been seen which had lost one of its horns 
by some accident, it might have been taken as a 
representative of the whole race, and erroneously 
adopted by Aristotle, and copied by his successors. 
All this is possible, and even natural, and yet 
proves nothing with regard to the existence of a 
single-horned species. 

In regard to the Indian ass, if we attend to the 
properties ascribed to its horns as an antidote a- 
gainst poison, we shall see that they are precisely 
the same as those which the eastern nations attri- 


bute at the present day to the horn of the rhino- 
ceros. When this horn was first imported into 
Greece, the animal to which it belonged might 
still have been unknown. In fact, Aristotle 
makes no mention of the rhinoceros, and Aga- 
tharchides was the first who described it. In the 
same manner, ivory was in use among the an- 
cients long before they were acquainted with the 
elephant. It is even possible that some of their 
travellers might have given to the rhinoceros the 
name of Indian ass, with as much propriety as 
the Romans denominated the elephant the bull 
of Lucania. Every, thing, moreover, that is said 
of the strength, size, and ferocity of this wild ass 
of theirs, corresponds very well with the rhinoce- 
ros. In succeeding times, naturalists, who had 
now become better acquainted with the rhinoce- 
ros, finding this denomination of Indian ass in 
the writings of authors who had preceded them, 
might have taken it, from want of proper exami- 
nation, for that of a distinct animal ; and from 
the name, they would have concluded the animal 
should have solid hoofs. There is, indeed, a full 
description of the Indian ass given by Ctesias*,but 
we have seen above that it had been taken from 
the bas-reliefs of Persepolis, and must therefore go 
for nothing in the real history of the animal. 

* .Elian, Anim. iv. 52 ; Photius, Bibl. p. 154. 


When there afterwards appeared more exact 
descriptions of an animal having a single horn 
only, but with several toes, a third species would 
have heen made out, to which they gave the name 
of monoceros. These double references applied 
to the same species, are more frequent among 
ancient naturalists, because most of their works 
which have come down to us were mere compila- 
tions ; even because Aristotle himself has fre- 
quently mingled facts borrowed from others with 
those which he had observed himself; and because 
the habit of critical examination was then as little 
known among naturalists as among historians. 

From all these reasonings and digressions, it 
may be fairly concluded, that the large animals of 
the old continent with which we are now acquaint- 
ed, were known to the ancients ; and that the ani- 
mals described by the ancients, and which are 
now unknown, were fabulous. It also follows, 
that the large animals of the three principal parts 
of the then discovered world could not have been 
long in being known to the nations which fre- 
quented their coasts. 

It may also be concluded, that no large species 
remains to be discovered in America. If there 
were any, there can be no reason why we should 
not be acquainted with it ; and in fact none has 
been discovered there during the last hundred 
and fifty years. The tapir, the jaguar, the puma, 


the cabiai, the lama, the vicunna, the red wolf, 
the buffalo or American bison, the ant-caters, 
sloths and armadilloes, are as well described by 
Margrave and Hernandez as by Buffon ; it may 
even be said that they are better, for Buffon has 
confused the history of the ant-eaters, mistaken 
the jaguar and red wolf, and confounded the bison 
of America with the aurochs of Poland. Pen- 
nant, it is true, was the first naturalist who clear- 
ly distinguished the small musk ox ; but it was 
long before made mention of by travellers. The 
cloven-footed horse of Molina, has not been de- 
scribed by the early Spanish travellers ; but its 
existence is more than doubtful, and the autho- 
rity of Molina is too suspicious to authorise our 
adopting it. It might be possible to characterise 
more accurately than has been done the different 
species of deer belonging lo America and India ; 
but the case is with respect to these animals as it 
was among the ancients with respect to the ante- 
lopes ; it is the want of a good method for dis- 
tinguishing them, and not of opportunities of see- 
ing them, that has left them so imperfectly known 
to' us. It may, therefore, be said, that the Mou- 
flon of the Blue Mountains is the only American 
quadruped of any considerable size of which the 
discovery is altogether modern ; and even it is per- 
haps only an argali that may have crossed upon 
the ice from Siberia. 



How should it be thought, after this, that the 
huge mastodons and gigantic mcgatheria, whose 
bones have been discovered under ground in North 
and South America, still exist alive on that con- 
tinent ? How should they have escaped those 
wandering tribes which continually traverse the 
country in all directions, and which are themselves 
aware that these animals no longer exist, since they 
have invented a fabulous account of their destruc- 
tion, alleging that they were killed by the Great 
Spirit, to prevent them from extirpating the hu- 
man race. But it is evident that this fable has been 
occasioned by the discovery of the bones, like that 
of the inhabitants of Siberia with respect to their 
mammoth, which they pretend to live under 
ground like the mole, and, like all those of the 
ancients, about the graves of giants, who were 
thought by them to have been buried wherever 
the bones of elephants were discovered. 

Thus it may safely be concluded, that if, as we 
have just said, none of the large species of qua- 
drupeds whose remains are at the present day 
found in regular mineral strata, bear resemblance 
to any of the known living species, this is not 
the effect of mere chance, nor because those spe- 
cies of which we possess nothing but the bones, 
are still concealed in the deserts, and have hi- 
therto eluded the observation of travellers. On 
the contrary, this phenomenon must be regarded 




as resulting from general causes ; and its investi- 
gation may be considered as affording one of the 
best means for discovering the nature of these 

Difficulty of determining the Fossil Bones of 

If this study is more satisfactory in its results 
than that of other fossil remains of animals, it is 
also beset with more numerous difficulties. Fos- 
sil shells usually present themselves in an entire 
state, and with all the characters requisite for 
comparing them with their analogous species, 
preserved in the collections or figured in the works 
of naturalists. Even fishes present their skele- 
ton more or less entire ; the general form of their 
body is almost always distinguishable, and most 
commonly, also, their generic and specific charac- 
ters, which are drawn from their solid parts. 
In quadrupeds, on the contrary, even should the 
skeleton be found entire, it would be difficult to 
apply to it characters derived, for the most part, 
from the hair, the colours, and other marks which 
have disappeared previous to their incrustation. 
It is even excessively rare to find a fossil skeleton 
approaching in any considerable degree to a com- 
plete state. The strata, for the most part, only 
contain separate bones, scattered confusedly, and al- 
most always broken, and reduced to fragments; and 


these constitute the only resources of knowledge 
to the naturalist in this department. It may al- 
so be stated, that most observers, deterred by 
these difficulties, have passed slightly over the 
fossil bones of quadrupeds ; have classed them in 
a vague manner, according to superficial resem- 
blances, or have not even ventured to assign them 
a name ; so that this part of the history of fossil 
remains, although the most important and most 
instructive of all, is, at the same time, that which 
has been the least cultivated *. 

Principle by which this determination is effected. 

Fortunately, comparative anatomy possesses a 
principle, which, when properly developed, en- 
ables us to surmount all the obstacles. This prin- 
ciple consists in the mutual relation of forms in 
organised beings, by means of which, each species 
may be determined, with perfect certainty, by 
any fragment of any of its parts. 

Every organised being forms a whole, a pe- M 
culiar system of its own, the parts of which mu- 

* I do not intend by this remark, as I have already ob- 
served on a former occasion, to detract from the merit of the 
observations of Camper, Pallas, Blumenbach, Sremmering, 
Merk, Faugas, Rosenmiiller, Home, &c. ; but their excellent 
works, which have been very useful to me, and which I quote 
throughout, are incomplete ; and several of these works have 
only been published since the first editions of this Essay. 

F 2 


tually corrrespond, and concur in producing the 
same definitive action, by a reciprocal reaction. 
"None of these parts can change in form, without 
the others also changing ; and consequently, each 
of them, taken separately, indicates and ascer- 
tains all the others. 

Thus, if the intestines of an animal are so or- 
ganised as to be fitted for the digestion of flesh 
only, and that flesh recent, it is necessary that its 
jaws be so constructed as to fit them for devouring 
live prey ; its claws for seizing and tearing it ; its 
teeth for cutting and dividing it ; the whole sys- 
tem of its organs of motion, for pursuing and 
overtaking it ; and its organs of sense for discover- 
ing it at a distance. It is even requisite that na- 
ture have placed in its brain the instinct neces- 
sary for teaching it to conceal itself, and to lay 
snares for its victims. 

Such are the general conditions which nature 
imposes upon the structure of carnivorous ani- 
mals ; and which every animal of this description 
must indispensably combine in its constitution, 
for without them its race could not subsist. But 
subordinate to these general conditions, there ex- 
ist others, having relation to the size, the species, 
and the haunts of the prey for which the animal 
is adapted ; and from each of these particular con- 
ditions, there result modifications of detail in the 
forms which arise from the general conditions. 


Thus not only the class, but the order, the genus, 
and even the species, are found expressed in the 
form of each part. 

In fact, in order that the jaw may be able to 
seize, it must have a certain form of condyle ; 
that the resistance, the moving power, and the 
fulcrum, should have a certain relative position in 
regard to each other ; and that the temporal 
muscles should be of a certain size ; the hollow 
or depression, too, in which these muscles are 
lodged, must have a certain depth ; and the zy- 
gomatic arch, under which they pass, must not 
only have a certain degree of convexity, but it 
must be sufficiently strong to support the action 
of the masseter. 

In order that the animal may be able to carry 
off its prey, it must have a certain degree of vi- 
gour in the muscles which elevate thehead; whence 
there results a determinate form in the vertebrae 
from which these muscles take their rise, and in 
the occiput into which they are inserted. 

In order that the teeth may be able to cut flesh, 
they must be sharp-edged, and must be so in a 
greater or less degree, according as they have flesh 
more or less exclusively to cut. Their base will 
be solid, according to the quantity and size of the 
bones which they have to break. The whole of 
these circumstances must necessarily influence 
the development and form of all the parts which 
contribute to move the jaws. 



In order that the paws may be able to seize the 
prey, there must be a certain degree of mobility 
in the toes, and a certain degree of strength in 
the claws, from which there will result determi- 
nate forms in all the phalanges, and a correspond- 
ing distribution of muscles and tendons. The 
fore-arm, or cubitus, must possess a certain facility 
of turning, from which there will also result deter- 
minate forms in the bones of which it is composed. 
But the bones of the cubitus being articulated to 
the humerus, a change in the proportions of the 
former, will necessarily induce a corresponding 
change in the latter. The shoulder-bones must 
have a certain degree of firmness in such animals 
as make use of their fore-legs for seizing, and from 
this there must also result a certain peculiarity in 
their form. The play of all these parts will re- 
quire certain proportions in all their muscles, and 
the impressions made by these muscles so propor- 
tioned, will determine still more particularly the 
forms of the bones. 

It is easy to see that similar conclusions may be 
drawn with regard to the posterior extremities 
which contribute to the rapidity of the general 
motions ; with regard to the composition of the 
trunk, and the forms of the vertebrae, which exert 
an influence upon the facility and flexibility of 
these motions; and, lastly, with regard to the forms 
of the bones of the nose, of the orbit, and of the 


ear, the connection of which with the perfection 
of the senses of smell, sight, and hearing, is evi- 
dent. In a word, the form of the tooth regulates 
the forms of the condyle, of the scapula, and of 
the claws, in the same manner as the equation of 
a curve regulates all its properties ; and as, by ta- 
king each property separately for the base of a 
particular equation, we find both the ordinary 
equation, and all the other properties whatever ; 
so, the claw, the scapula, the condyle, the femur, 
and all the other bones taken separately, give the 
tooth, or are reciprocally given by it ; and thus, 
by commencing with any one of these bones, a 
person who possesses an accurate knowledge of the 
laws of organic economy, may reconstruct the 
whole animal.. 

This principle seems sufficiently evident, in 
the general acceptation in which it is here taken, 
and does not require any fuller demonstration ; but 
when it comes to be applied, there will be found 
many cases where our theoretical knowledge of 
the relations of forms will not be sufficient, unless 
it be supported by observation and experience. 

For example, we are well aware, that hoofed 
animals must all be herbivorous, since they have 
no means of seizing prey. It is also evident, that, 
having no other use to make of their fore-legs than 
to support their body, they do not require a shoul- 
der so vigorously organised as that of carnivo- 


rous animals ; they have, therefore, no acromion 
or clavicle, and their shoulder-blades are narrow. 
Having also no occasion to turn their fore-arm, 
their radius is united to the ulna by ossification, 
or at least articulated by a ginglimus or hinge- 
joint, and not by arthrodia or ball and socket, to 
the humerus. Their food being herbaceous, will 
require teeth furnished with flat surfaces, for bruis- 
ing seeds and plants. The crown of the teeth 
must also be unequal, and, for this purpose, must 
be composed of parts alternately consisting of bone 
and of enamel. Teeth of this structure neces- 
sarily require horizontal motions to enable them 
to triturate the food ; and hence the condyle of 
the jaw cannot be so strictly confined within its 
articulating cavity as in the carnivorous animals, 
but must be flattened, and thus correspond with 
a more or less flattened surface of the temporal 
bones. Further, the temporal fossa, which will 
only have a small muscle to contain, will be nar- 
rower, and not so shallow, as that of carnivorous 
animals. All these circumstances are deducible 
from each other, according to their greater or less 
generality, and in such a manner, that some of 
them are essential and exclusively peculiar to 
hoofed animals, while others, although equally 
necessary in these animals, are not entirely pecu- 
liar to them, but may occur in other animals also, 
where the rest of the conditions will permit their 


If we proceed to consider the orders or subdi- 
visions of the class of hoofed animals, and examine 
what modifications the general conditions under- 
go, or rather what particular conditions are con- 
joined with them, according to the respective cha- 
racters of these orders, the reasons of these subor- 
dinate conditions begin to appear less obvious. 
We can still easily conceive, in general, the ne- 
cessity of a more complicated system of digestive 
organs in those species which have a more im- ^ 
perfect masticatory system ; and hence we may 
presume, that these latter must be rather rumi- 
nating animals, in which there is wanting such 
or such an order of teeth ; and may also deduce 
from the same consideration, the necessity of a 
certain form of the oesophagus, and of correspond- 
ing forms in the vertebrae of the neck, &c. But 
I doubt whether it would have been discovered, 
independently of actual observation, that the ru- 
minating animals should all have cloven hoofs, 
and that they should be the only animals having 
them ; that there should be horns on the fore- 
head in this class alone ; or that such of them as 
have sharp canine teeth, should, in general, have 
no horns. 

However, since these relations are constant, we 
may be assured that they have a sufficient cause ; 
but as we are not acquainted with that cause, we 
must supply the defect of theory by means of ob- 
servation, and in this way establish empirical laws 


which become nearly as certain as those deduced 
from rational principles, when founded upon ob- 
servations, the authenticity of which is proved by 
frequent repetition. Hence, at the present day, 
any one who observes only the print of a cloven 
foot, may conclude that the animal which left this 
impression ruminates ; and this conclusion is 
quite as certain as any other in physics, or in 
moral philosophy. This simple footmark, there- 
fore, indicates at once to the observer the forms of 
the teeth, of the jaws, of the vertebrae, of all the 
bones of the legs, thighs, shoulders, and pelvis of 
the animal which had passed. It is a surer mark 
than all those of Zadig. That there are secret 
reasons, however, for all these relations, is what 
observation alone is sufficient to shew, independ- 
ently of any general principles of philosophy. 

In fact, when we construct a table of these rela- 
tions, we remark not only a specific constancy, if 
the expression may be allowed, between a parti- 
cular form of a particular organ, and some other 
form of a different organ ; but we also perceive a 
classic constancy of conformation, and a corres- 
ponding gradation, in the development of these 
two organs, which demonstrate their mutual in- 
fluence, almost as well as the most perfect deduc- 
tion of reason. 

For example, the dentary system of the hoofed 
animals, which are not ruminant, is in general 
more perfect than that of the cloven-footed or ru- 


initiating animals, because the former have either 
incisors, or canine teeth, and almost always both 
in each jaw ; and the structure of their foot is in 
general more complicated, because they have 
more toes or claws, or their phalanges less enve- 
loped in the hoof, or a greater number of dis- 
tinct bones in the metacarpus and metatarsus or 
more numerous tarsal bones or a fibula more 
distinct from the tibia or, lastly, that all these 
circumstances are often united in the same species 
of animals. 

It is impossible to assign reasons for these rela- 
tions ; but we are certain that they are not the 
effects of chance, because, whenever a cloven-footed 
animal manifests, in the arrangement of its teeth 
some tendency to approach the animals we now 
speak of, it also manifests a similar tendency in 
the arrangement of its feet. Thus the camels, 
which have canine teeth, and even two or four 
incisors in the upper jaw, have an additional 
bone in the tarsus, because their scaphoid bone is 
not united to the cuboid, and they have very 
small hoofs, with corresponding phalanges. The 
musk animals, whose canine teeth are much de- 
veloped, have a distinct fibula along the whole 
length of their tibia ; while the other cloven-foot- 
ed animals have only, in place of a fibula, a small 
bone articulated at the lower end of the tibia. 
There is, therefore, a constant harmony between 
two organs apparently having no connection ; and 


the gradations of their forms preserve an uninter- 
rupted correspondence, even in those cases in 
which we cannot account for their relations. 

Now, by thus adopting the method of observa- 
tion as a supplementary means, when theory is no 
longer able to direct our views, we arrive at asto- 
nishing results. The smallest articulating surface 
of bone, or the smallest apophysis, has a determi- 
nate character, relative to the class, the order, the 
genus, and the species to which it belonged; inso- 
much, that when one possesses merely a well pre- 
served extremity of a bone, he can, by careful ex- 
amination, and the aid of a tolerable analogical 
knowledge, and of accurate comparison, determine 
all these things with as much certainty as if he had 
the entire animal before him. I have often made 
trial of this method upon portions of known ani- 
mals, before reposing full confidence upon it, 
in regard to fossil remains; and it has always 
proved so completely satisfactory, that I have no 
longer any doubts regarding the certainty of the 
results which it has afforded me. 

It is true, that I have enjoyed all the advan- 
tages which were necessary for the undertaking ; 
and that my favourable situation, in the Museum 
of Natural History at Paris, and assiduous re- 
search for nearly thirty years, have procured me 
skeletons of all the genera and sub-genera of qua- 
drupeds, and even of many species in some 
genera, and of several varieties of some species. 


With such means, it was easy for me to multiply 
my comparisons, and to verify in all their details 
the applications which I have made of the various 
laws deducible from such circumstances as have 
been stated. 

We cannot here enter into a more lengthened 
detail of this method, and must refer to the 
large work on Comparative Anatomy, in which 
all its rules will he found. In the mean time, an 
intelligent reader may gather a great number of 
these from the work upon Fossil Bones, if he take 
the trouble of attending to all the applications of 
them which we have there made. He will see, 
that it is by this method alone that we are guided, 
and that it has almost always sufficed for referring 
each bone to its species, when it was a living 
species to its genus, when it was an unknown 
species to its order, when it was a new genus 
and to its class, when it belonged to an order 
not hitherto established and to assign it, in the 
three last cases, the proper characters for distin- 
guishing it from the nearest resembling orders, 
genera, and species. Before the commencement 
of our researches, naturalists had done no more 
than this with regard to animals, which they had 
the opportunity of examining in their entire state. 
Yet, in this manner, we have determined and 
classed the remains of more than a hundred and 
fifty mammiferous and oviparous quadrupeds. 


View of the General Results of these Researches. 

Considered with regard to species, upwards of 
ninety of these animals are most assuredly hither- 
to unknown to naturalists ; eleven or twelve have 
so perfect a resemblance to species already known, 
that the slightest doubt cannot be entertained of 
their identity ; the others exhibit many traits of 
resemblance to known species, but their compari- 
son has not yet been made with sufficient preci- 
sion to remove all doubts. 

Considered with regard to genera, of the ninety 
hitherto unknown species, there are nearly sixty 
that belong to new genera. The other species 
rank under genera or subgenera already known. 

It may not be without use, also, to consider 
these animals with regard to the classes and or- 
ders to which they belong. Of the hundred and 
fifty species, about a fourth part are oviparous 
quadrupeds, and all the rest mammifera. Of these 
last, more than the half belong to non-ruminant 
hoofed animals. 

Notwithstanding what has been done, it would 
still be premature to establish upon these numbers 
any conclusion relative to the theory of the earth, 
because they are not in sufficient proportion to the 
numbers of genera and species which may be bu- 
ried in the strata of the earth. Hitherto the 
bones of the larger species have been chiefly col- 


lected, these being more obvious to agricultu- 
ral labourers ; while the bones of the smaller 
species are usually neglected, unless when they 
chance to fall into the hands of a naturalist, or 
when some particular circumstance, such as their 
excessive abundance in certain places, attracts the 
attention even of the common people. 

Relations of the Species of Fossil Animals with the 
Strata in which they are found. 

The most important consideration, that which, 
in fact, is the chief object of all my researches, 
and which establishes their legitimate connection 
with the Theory of the Earth, is to ascertain in 
what strata each species is found, and whether 
there may be some general laws, relative either 
to the zoological subdivisions, or to the greater 
or less resemblance of the species to those of the 
present day. 

The laws which have been recognised with re- 
spect to these relations are very distinct and sa- 

In the first place, it is clearly ascertained that 
the oviparous quadrupeds appear much more early 
than the viviparous; that they are even more 
abundant, larger, and more varied, in the ancient 
strata than at the surface of the globe, as it exists 
at present. 


The Ichthyosauri, the Plesiosauri, several spe- 
cies of Tortoise, and several species of Crocodile, 
are found beneath the chalk, in the deposits com- 
monly called Jura formations. The Monitors 
of Thuringia would he still older, if, according to 
the W^ernerian School, the copper-slate in which 
they are contained, along with a great variety of 
fishes supposed to have belonged to fresh-water, 
is to be placed among the oldest beds of the se- 
condary formations. The enormous crocodiles 
and the great tortoises of Maestricht, are found 
in the chalk formation itself; but these are ma- 
rine animals. 

This earliest appearance of fossil bones seems, 
therefore, already to indicate, that dry lands and 
fresh waters had existed before the formation of 
the chalk deposits. But neither at this period, 
nor while the chalk was forming, nor even long 
after, have any bones of land-mammifera been 
encrusted ; or, at least, the small number of these, 
which are alleged to have been found in strata of 
these dates, forms but a trifling exception. 

We begin to find bones of marine mammifera, 
namely, of lamantins and seals, in the coarse 
shelly limestone which covers the chalk in the 
neighbourhood of Paris ; but there are still no 
bones of terrestrial mammifera. 

Notwithstanding the most assiduous investiga- 
tion, I have not been able to discover any distinct 


trace of this class in any of the deposits preceding 
those which rest upon the coarse limestone. Cer- 
tain lignites and molasses do in fact contain 
them ; but I am very doubtful whether these de- 
posits are all, as is commonly supposed, anterior 
to that limestone. The places where these bones 
have been found are so limited, both in extent 
and in number, as to induce us to suppose some 
irregularity, or some repetition of the formation 
containing them. On the contrary, the moment 
we arrive at the deposits which rest upon the 
coarse limestone, the bones of land-animals pre- 
sent themselves in great abundance. 

As it is reasonable to believe that shells and 
fishes did not exist at the period of the forma- 
tion of primitive rocks, we are also led to con- 
clude that the oviparous quadrupeds began to ex- 
ist along with the fishes, and at the commence- 
ment of the period during which the secondary 
rocks were formed ; but that the land-quadrupeds 
did not appear upon the earth, at least in any 
considerable number, till long after, and until 
the coarse limestone strata, which contain the 
greater number of our genera of shells, although 
of species different from ours, had been depo- 

It is remarkable that those coarse limestone 
strata which are used at Paris for building, are 
the last formed strata which indicate a long and 



quiet continuance of the sea upon our continents. 
Above them, indeed, there are found formations 
containing shells and other marine productions ; 
but these consist of collections of transported mat- 
ters, sand, marls, sandstones, and clays, which ra- 
ther indicate transportations that have taken 
place with more or less violence, than strata formed 
by tranquil deposition ; and, if there be some 
rocky and regular strata of pretty considerable 
magnitude, beneath or above these transported 
matters, they generally exhibit indications of ha- 
ving been deposited from fresh water. 

Almost all the known bones of viviparous qua- 
drupeds, therefore, have been found either in those 
fresh-water formations, or in the alluvial forma- 
tions ; and consequently there is every reason to 
conclude that these quadrupeds have only begun 
to exist, or, at least, to leave their remains in the 
strata of our earth, after the last retreat of the 
sea but one, and during the state of things that 
preceded its last irruption. 

But there is also an order in the disposition of 
these bones with regard to each other ; and this 
order further announces a very remarkable succes- 
sion in the appearance of the different species. 
All the genera which are now unknown, the Pa- 
laeotheria, Anaplotheria, &c., with the position of 
which we are thoroughly acquainted, belong to 
the oldest of the formations of which we are now 


speaking, those which rest immediately upon the 
coarse limestone. It is chiefly these genera which 
occupy the regular beds that have been deposited 
from fresh-water, or certain alluvial beds of very 
ancient formation, generally composed of sand and 
rolled pebbles, and which were perhaps the ear- 
liest alluvium of that ancient world. Along 
with these there are also found some lost species 
of known genera, but in small numbers, and some 
oviparous quadrupeds and fishes, which appear to 
have been all inhabitants of fresh-water. The beds 
which contain them are always more or less covered 
by alluvial beds, containing shells, and other ma- 
rine productions. 

The most celebrated of the unknown species, 
which belong to known genera, or to genera close- 
ly allied to those which are known, such as the 
fossil elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotami, and 
mastodons, do not occur along with those more 
ancient genera. It is in the alluvial formations 
alone that they are discovered, sometimes accom- 
panied with marine shells, and sometimes with 
fresh-water shells, but never in regular stony beds. 
Every thing that is found along with these spe- 
cies is either unknown like themselves, or at least 

Lastly, the bones of species which are appa- 
rently the same as those that are still found alive, 
are never discovered, except in the last alluvial 


deposits formed on the sides of rivers, or on the 
bottoms of ancient pools or marshes now dried up, 
or in the substance of beds of peat, or in the fis- 
sures and caverns of some rocks; or, lastly, at 
small depths below the surface, in places where 
they may have been buried by the falling down 
of debris, or even by the hand of man ; and their 
superficial position renders these bones, although 
the most recent of all, almost always the worst 

It must not, however, be thought that this clas- 
sification of the various geological positions of fos- 
sil remains, is as certain as that of the species, or 
that it is equally capable of demonstration. There 
are numerous reasons which prevent this from be- 
ing the case. 

In the first place, all my determinations of spe- 
cies have been made upon the bones themselves, 
or by means of good figures ; whereas it has been 
impossible for me personally to examine all the 
places in which these bones have been discovered. 
I have very frequently been obliged to content 
myself with vague and ambiguous accounts, given 
by people who were not themselves well aware of 
what it was necessary to observe ; and, more fre- 
quently still, I have been unable to procure any 
information whatever on the subject. 

Secondly, these repositories of organic remains 
are subject to infinitely greater doubts, than the 


bones themselves. The same formation may ap- 
pear recent in places where it shews itself at the 
surface, and ancient in those where it is covered 
by the beds which have succeeded it. Ancient 
formations may have been transported by partial 
inundations, and thus have covered recent bones ; 
they may have fallen upon them by crumbling, 
and thus have enveloped and mingled them with 
the productions of the ancient sea, which they 
previously contained. Bones of ancient periods 
may have been washed out by the waters, and 
afterwards enveloped in recent alluvial formations. 
Lastly, recent bones may have fallen into the 
fissures or caverns of ancient rocks, and been en- 
veloped by stalactites or other incrustations. In 
every individual instance, therefore, it becomes 
necessary to analyze and appreciate all those cir- 
cumstances which might disguise the real origin 
of fossil remains; and it rarely happens that people 
who have collected bones have been themselves 
aware of this necessity, the consequence of which 
has been, that the true characters of their geolo- 
gical position have been almost always neglected 
or misunderstood. 

Thirdly, there are some doubtful species, which 
must occasion more or less uncertainty in the re- 
sults of our researches, until they have been clearly 
ascertained. Thus the horses and buffaloes that 
occur along with the elephants, have not yet re- 


ceived appropriate specific characters; and such 
geologists as are disinclined to adopt the different 
epochs which I have endeavoured to establish with 
regard to fossil hones, may, for many years to come, 
draw from thence an argument against my system, 
so much the more convenient as it is contained in 
my own work. 

But allowing that these epochs are liahle to 
some objections, from such as may only consi- 
der some particular case, I am not the less satis- 
fied, that those who shall take a comprehensive 
view of the phenomena, will not be checked by 
such inconsiderable and partial difficulties, and 
will be led to conclude, as I have done, that there 
has been at least one, and very probably two, suc- 
cessions in the class of quadrupeds, previous to 
that which at the present day peoples the surface 
of the earth. 

Proofs that the Extinct Species of Quadrupeds are not 
varieties of the presently existing Species. 

I now proceed to the consideration of another 
objection, one, in fact, which has already been 
urged against me. 

Why may not the presently existing races of 
land quadrupeds, it has been asked, be modifica- 
tions of those ancient races which we find in a 
fossil state ; which modifications may have been 
produced by local circumstances and change of 


climate ; and carried to the extreme difference 
which they now present, during a long succession 
of ages ? 

This objection must appear strong to those 
especially who believe in the possibility of indefi- 
nite alteration of forms in organised bodies ; and 
who think that, during a succession of ages, and 
by repeated changes of habitudes, all the species 
might be changed into one another, or might re- 
sult from a single species. 

Yet to these persons an answer may be given 
from their own system. If the species have chang- 
ed by degrees, we ought to find traces of these 
gradual modifications. Thus, between the palaeo- 
theria and our present species, we should be able 
to discover some intermediate forms ; and yet no 
such discovery has ever been made. 

Why have not the bowels of the earth preser- 
ved the monuments of so strange a genealogy, if 
it be not because the species of former times were 
as constant as ours ; or, at least, because the ca- 
tastrophe which destroyed them, had not left 
them sufficient time for undergoing the variation 
alleged ? 

In order to reply to those naturalists who ac- 
knowledge that the varieties of animals are re- 
strained within certain limits fixed by nature, it 
would be necessary to examine how far these li- 
mits extend. This is a very curious inquiry, 


highly interesting in itself, under a variety of 
relations, and yet one that has heen hitherto very 
little attended to. 

Before entering upon this inquiry, it is proper 
to define what is meant by a species, so that the 
definition may serve to regulate the employment 
of the term. A species, therefore, may be defin- 
ed, as comprehending the individuals which de- 
scend from each other ) or from common parents, 
and those which resemble them as much as they 
resemble each other. Thus, we consider as va- 
rieties of a species, only the races more or less dif- 
ferent which may have sprung from it by genera- 
tion. Our observations, therefore, regarding the 
differences between the ancestors and descen- 
dants, afford us the only certain rule by which 
we can judge on this subject ; all other considera- 
tions leading to hypothetical conclusions desti- 
tute of proof. Now, considering the varieties in 
this view, we observe that the differences which 
constitute it, depend upon determinate circum- 
stances, and that their extent increases in propor- 
tion to the intensity of these circumstances. 

Thus, the most superficial characters are the 
most variable : the colour depends much upon the 
light ; the thickness of the fur upon the heat ; the 
size, upon the abundance of food. But in a wild 
animal, even these varieties are greatly limited 
by the natural habits of the animal itself, which 


does not voluntarily remove far from the places 
\vhere it finds, in the necessary degree, all that is 
requisite, for the support of its species, and does 
not even extend its haunts to any great distance, 
unless it also finds all these circumstances con- 
joined. Thus, although the wolf and the fox in- 
habit all the climates from the torrid to the fri- 
gid zone, we hardly find any other difference 
among them, in the whole of that vast space, 
than a little more or a little less beauty in 
their fur. I have compared skulls of foxes 
from the northern countries and from Egypt, 
with those of the foxes of France, and have found 
no difference but such as might be expected in 
different individuals. Such of the wild animals 
as are confined within narrower limits, vary still 
less, especially those which are carnivorous. The 
only difference between the hyena of Persia and 
that of Morocco, consists in a thicker or a thinner 

The wild herbivorous animals feel the influ- 
ence of climate somewhat more extensively, be- 
cause there is added to it in their case, the influ- 
ence of the food, which may happen to differ both 
as to quantity and quality. Thus, the elephants of 
one forest are often larger than those of another ; 
and their tusks are somewhat longer in places where 
their food may happen to be more favourable for 
the production of the matter of ivory. The same 


may take place with regard to the horns of rein - 
deer and stags. But let us compare two elephants 
the most dissimilar, and we shall not discover the 
slightest difference in the number and articula- 
tions of the bones, the structure of the teeth, &c. 

Besides, the herbivorous species, in the wild 
state, seem more restrained from dispersing than 
the carnivorous animals, because the sort of food 
which they require, combines with the tempera- 
ture to prevent them. 

Nature also takes care to guard against the al- 
teration of the species, which might result from 
their mixture, by the mutual aversion with which 
it has inspired them. It requires all the inge- 
nuity and all the power of man to accomplish 
these unions, even between species that have the 
nearest resemblances. And, when the indivi- 
duals produced by these forced conjunctions are 
fruitful, which is very seldom the case, their fe- 
cundity does not continue beyond a few genera- 
tions ; and would not probably proceed so far, 
without a continuance of the same cares which 
excited it at first. Thus, we never see in our 
woods individuals intermediate between the hare 
and the rabbit; between the stag and the doe; or 
between the martin and the pole-cat. 

But the power of man changes this order ; it 
discloses all those variations, of which the type 


of each species is susceptible ; and from them de- 
rives productions which the species, if left to 
themselves, would never have yielded. 

Here the degree of the variations is still pro- 
portional to the intensity of their cause, which is 
slavery. It is not very high in the semi-doines- 
ticated species, such as the cat. A softer fur ; 
more brilliant colours ; greater or less size ; these 
form the whole extent of the variations in this 
species ; for the skeleton of an Angora cat dif- 
fers in no regular and constant circumstance from 
that of a wild cat. 

In the domesticated herbivorous animals, 
which we transport into all kinds of climates, and 
subject to all kinds of management, both with re- 
gard to labour and nourishment, we certainly ob- 
tain greater variations ; but still they are all 
merely superficial. Greater or less size ; longer 
or shorter horns, or even the want of these entire- 
ly ; a hump of fat, larger or smaller, on the 
shoulder ; these form the differences between the 
various races of the common ox or bull ; and these 
differences continue long, even in such breeds as 
have been transported from the countries in 
which they were produced, when proper care is 
taken to prevent crossing. 

Of this nature are also the innumerable varie- 
ties of the common sheep, which consist chiefly 
in differences of their fleeces, as the wool which 


they produce is an important object of attention. 
These varieties, although not quite so percepti- 
ble, are yet sufficiently marked among horses. 
In general, the forms of the bones vary little ; 
their connections and articulations, and the forms 
of the large grinding teeth, never vary at all. 

The small size of the tusks in the domestic 
hog, compared with the wild boar's, and the junc- 
tion of its cloven hoofs into one in some races, 
form the extreme point of the differences which 
we have produced in the domesticated herbivo- 
rous quadrupeds. 

The most remarkable effects of the influence 
of man are manifested in the animal which he has 
reduced most completely under subjection, the 
dog, that species so entirely devoted to ours, that 
even the individuals of it seem to have sacrificed 
to us their will, their interest, and inclination. 
Transported by man into every part of the world, 
subjected to all the causes capable of influencing 
their development, regulated in their sexual in- 
tercourse by the pleasure of their masters, dogs 
vary in colour ; in the quantity of their hair, 
which they sometimes even lose altogether, and in 
its nature ; in size, which varies as one to five in 
the linear dimensions, amounting to more than a 
hundred fold in bulk ; in the form of the ears, 
nose, and tail ; in the proportional length of the 
legs ; in the progressive development of the brain 


in the domestic varieties, whence results the form 
of their head, which is sometimes slender, with a 
lengthened muzzle and flat forehead, and some- 
times having a short muzzle and a protuberant 
forehead ; insomuch that the apparent differences 
between a mastiff and a water-spaniel, and be- 
tween a greyhound and a pug, are more striking 
than those that exist between any two species of 
the same natural genus in a wild state. Final- 
ly, and this may be considered as the maximum 
of variation hitherto known in the animal king- 
dom, there are races of dogs which have an addi- 
tional toe on the hind foot, with corresponding 
tarsal bones ; as there are, in the human species, 
some families that have six fingers on each hand. 
Yet, in all these varieties, the relations of the 
bones remain the same, nor does the form of the 
teeth ever change in any perceptible degree ; the 
only variation in respect to these latter being, 
that, in some individuals, one additional false 
grinder appears, sometimes on the one side, and 
sometimes on the other *. 

Animals, therefore, have natural characters, 
which resist every kind of influence, whether na- 

* See M. Frederick Cuvier's memoir upon the varieties of 
dogs, in the Annales du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, which 
he drew up at the request of Professor Cuvier, from a series 
of skeletons of all the varieties of the dog prepared in the 
Professor's collection. 


tural or produced by human interference, and no- 
thing indicates that, with regard to them, time 
has more effect than climate and domestication. 

I am aware that some naturalists lay great 
stress upon the thousands of ages which they call 
into action by a dash of the pen ; but, in such 
matters, we can only judge of what a long period 
of time might produce, by multiplying in idea 
what a less time produces. With this view, I 
have endeavoured to collect the most ancient do- 
cuments relating to the forms of animals ; and 
there are none which equal, either in antiquity or 
abundance, those that Egypt furnishes. It af- 
fords us, not only representations of animals, but 
even their identical bodies embalmed in its cata- 

I have examined with the greatest attention the 
figures of quadrupeds and birds sculptured upon 
the numerous obelisks brought from Egypt to an- 
cient Rome. All these figures possess, in their 
general character, which alone could be the object 
of attention to an artist, a perfect resemblance to 
the species represented, such as we see them at 
the present day. 

On examining the copies made by Kirker and 
Zoega, we find that, without preserving every trait 
of the originals in its perfect purity, they have 
given figures which are easily recognised. We 
readily distinguish the ibis, the vulture, the owl, 


the falcon, the Egyptian goose, the lapwing, the 
landrail, the aspic, the cerastes, the Egyptian hare 
with its long ears, and even the hippopotamus ; 
and, among the numerous monuments engraved in 
the great work on Egypt, we sometimes observe 
the rarest animals, the algazel, for example, which 
was not seen in Europe until within these few 
years *. 

My learned colleague, M. Geoffrey Saint-Hi- 
laire, strongly convinced of the importance of this 
research, carefully collected in the tombs and tem- 
ples of Upper and Lower Egypt as many mum- 
mies of animals as he could. He has brought 
home cats, ibises, birds of prey, dogs, monkeys, 
crocodiles, and the head of an ox, in this state ; 
and there is certainly no more difference to be 
perceived between these mummies and the species 
of the same kind now alive, than between the hu- 
man mummies and the skeletons of men of the 
present day. A difference may, indeed, be found 
between the mummies of the ibis and the bird 
which naturalists have hitherto described under 
that name ; but I have cleared up all doubts on 

* The first figure made of it from nature is in the De- 
scription de la Menagerie, a work composed by M. Cuvier. 
It is seen perfectly represented in the great work on Egypt. 
Antiq. t. iv. pi. xlix. 


this matter, in a Memoir upon the Ibis, which will 
be found at the end of this Essay, and in which I 
have shewn that it is still at the present day the 
same as it was in the time of the Pharaohs. I 
am aware that, in these, 1 only cite the monu- 
ments of two or three thousand years ; but this is 
the most remote antiquity to which we can resort 
in such a case. 

There is nothing, therefore, to be derived from 
all the facts hitherto known, that could, in the 
slightest degree, give support to the opinion that 
the new genera which I have discovered or esta- 
blished among the fossil remains of animals, any 
more than those which have in like manner been 
discovered or established by other naturalists, the 
palceotheria, anoplotheria, megalonyces, masto- 
donta, pterodactyli, ichthyosauri, &c. might have 
been the sources of the present race of animals, 
which have only differed from them through the 
influence of time or climate. Even if it should 
prove true, which I am far from believing to be 
the case, that the fosil elephants, rhinoceroses, 
elks, and bears, differ no more from those at pre- 
sent existing, than the present races of dogs differ 
from one another, this would not furnish a suffi- 
cient reason for inferring the general identity of 
the species, because the races of dogs have been 
subjected to the influence of domestication, which 
these other animals neither did nor could expe- 
rience. 2 


Farther, when I maintain that the rocky beds 
contain the bones of several genera, and the allu- 
vial strata those of several species which no longer 
exist, I do not assert that a new creation was re- 
quired for producing the species existing at the 
present day. T only say that they did not origi- 
nally inhabit the places where we find them at 
present, and that they must have come from some 
other part of the globe. 

Let us suppose, for instance, that a great irrup- 
tion of the sea were now to cover the continent of 
New Holland with a coat of sand or other debris ; 
it would bury the carcases of animals belonging 
to the genera Kangurus, Phascolomys, Dasyu- 
rus 9 Perameles, flying phalanger, echidna, and 
ornithorynchus, and it would entirely destroy the 
species of all these genera, since none of them ex- 
ist now in any other country. 

Were the same revolution to lay dry the nu- 
merous narrow straits which separate New Hol- 
land from the continent of Asia, it would open a 
road to the elephants, rhinoceroses, buffaloes, 
horses, camels, and tigers, and to all the other 
Asiatic quadrupeds, which would come to people 
a land where they had been previously unknown. 

Were some future naturalist, after having 
made himself well acquainted with this new race 
of animals, to search below the surface on which 
they live, he would find remains of quite a diffe- 
rent nature. 



What New Holland would be, under the cir- 
cumstances which we have supposed, Europe, Si- 
beria, and a large portion of America, now actu- 
ally are. And, perhaps, when other countries 
shall have been examined, and New Holland a- 
mong the rest, it will one day be found that they 
have experienced similar revolutions, I might al- 
most say, mutual changes, of productions. For, 
if we push the supposition farther, and, after the 
supply of Asiatic animals to New Holland, ad- 
mit a second revolution, which destroyed Asia, 
their original country, those naturalists who might 
observe them in New Holland, their second 
country, would be equally at a loss to know 
whence they had come, as we now are to find out 
the origin of the races of animals that inhabit our 
own countries. 

I now proceed to apply this manner of reason- 
ing to the human species. 

Proofs that there are no Fossil Human Bones. 

It is certain that no human bones have yet 
been found among fossil remains ; and this fur- 
nishes an additional proof that the fossil races 
were not mere varieties of known species, since 
they could not have been subjected to human in- 

When I assert that human bones have never 
been found among fossil organic remains, (I must 


be understood to speak of fossils or petrifactions, 
properly so called), or, in other words, in the regu- 
lar strata of the surface of the glohe ; for in peat- 
bogs (tourbieres), and alluvial deposits, as in 
burying-grounds, human bones might as well be 
found as bones of horses, or other common species. 
They might equally be found in fissures of rocks, 
and in caverns, where they may have been covered 
over by stalactite ; but in the beds which contain 
the ancient races, among the palceotheria, and 
even among the elephants and rhinoceroses, the 
smallest portion of a human bone has never been 
discovered. Many of the labourers in the gypsum 
quarries about Paris, believe that the bones which 
occur so abundantly in them, are in a great part 
human ; but I have seen several thousands of 
these bones, and I may safely affirm that not 
one of them has ever belonged to our species. I 
have examined at Pavia the groups of bones 
brought by Spallanzani from the Island of Ce- 
rigo ; and, notwithstanding the assertion of that 
celebrated observer, I equally affirm, that there is 
not one among them that could be shewn to be 
human. The homo diluvii testis of Scheuchzer 
has been restored, in my first edition, to its true 
genus, which is that of the salamanders ; and, in 
a more recent examination of it at Haarlem, al- 
lowed me by the politeness of Mr Van Maruin, 
who permitted me to uncover the parts enveloped 

H 2 


in the stone, I obtained complete proof of what I 
had before announced. Among the bones found 
at Canstadt, the fragment of a jaw, and some ar- 
ticles of human manufacture, were found ; but it is 
known that the ground was dug up without any 
precaution, and that no notes were taken of the 
different depths at which each article was disco- 
vered. Every where else, the fragments of bone 
alleged to be human, are found, on examination, 
to belong to some animal, whether these frag- 
ments have been examined themselves, or merely 
through the medium of figures. Very recently, 
some were pretended to have been discovered at 
Marseilles, in a quarry that had been long ne- 
glected ; * but they have turned out to be impres- 
sions of tuyaux marines.^ Such real human 
bones as have been exhibited as fossil, belonged 
to bodies that had fallen into fissures, or had been 
left in the old galleries of mines, or that had been 
incrusted ; and I extend this assertion even to 
the human skeletons discovered at Guadaloupe, 
in a rock formed of fragments of madrepore, 
thrown up by the sea, and united by water im- 

* See the Journal de Marseille et des Bouches-du- Rhone, 
of the 27th Sept. 25th Oct. and 1st Nov. 1820. 

t I am confirmed in this opinion by the sketches trans- 
mitted to me by M. Cottard, one of the Professors of the 
College of Marseilles. 


pregnated with calcareous matter. * The human 
bones found near Koestriz, and pointed out by 
M. de Schlotheim, had been announced as taken 

* These skeletons, more or less mutilated, are found near 
Port de Moule, on the north-west coast of the mainland of 
Guadaloupe, in a kind of slope resting against the steep 
edges of the island. This slope is, in a great measure, covered 
by the sea at high- water, and is nothing else than a tufa, 
formed, and daily augmented, by the very small debris of 
shells and corals, which the waves detach from the rocks, 
and the accumulated mass of which assumes a great degree 
of cohesion in the places that are most frequently left dry. 
We find, on examining them with a lens, that several of 
these fragments have the same red tint as a part of the 
corals contained in the reefs of the island. Formations of 
this kind are common in the whole archipelago of the An- 
tilles, where they are known to the Negroes under the name 
of Ma?onne-bon-dieu. Their augmentation is proportioned 
to the violence of the surge. They have extended the plain 
of the Cayes to St Domingo, the situation of which has 
some resemblance to the Plage du Moule, and there are 
sometimes found in it fragments of earthen vessels, and of 
other articles of human fabrication, at a depth of twenty 
feet. A thousand conjectures have been made, and even 
events imagined, to account for these skeletons of Guada- 
loupe. But, from all the circumstances of the case, M. Mo- 
reau de Jonnes, correspondent of the Academy of Sciences, 
who has been upon the spot, and to whom I am indebted for 
the above details, thinks that they are merely bodies of per- 
sons that have perished by shipwreck. They were discovered 
in 1805 by M. Manuel Cortes y Campomanes, at that time 
a general officer in the service of the colonv- General Er- 


out of very old beds ; but this estimable natural- 
ist is anxious to make known how much this as- 

nouf, the governor, caused one to be extracted with much 
labour, of which the head, and almost the whole superior 
extremities, were wanting. This had been deposited at 
Guadaloupe, in the expectation that another and more com- 
plete specimen would be procured, in order to send them to- 
gether to Paris, when the island was taken by the English. 
Admiral Cochrane having found this skeleton at the head- 
quarters, sent it to the English Admiralty, who presented it 
to the British Museum. It is still in that collection, and 
M. Kcenig, Keeper of the Mineralogical Department, has 
described it in the Phil. Trans, of 1814, and there I saw it 
in 1818. M. Kcenig observes, that the stone in which it is 
imbedded, has not been cut to its present shape, but that it 
seems to have been simply inserted, in the form of a distinct 
nodule, into the surrounding mass. The skeleton is so 
superficial, that its presence must have been perceived by 
the projection of some of its bones. They still contain some 
of their animal matter, and the whole of their phosphate of 
lime. The rock being entirely formed of pieces of corals, 
and of compact limestone, readily dissolves in nitric acid. 
M. Koenig has detected fragments of Millepora miniacea, 
of several madrepores, and of shells, which he compares to 
Helix acuta and Turbo pica. This fossil skeleton is repre- 
sented in Plate I. More recently, General Donzelot has 
caused another of these skeletons to be extracted, which 
is now in the Royal Cabinet, and of which a figure is given 
in Plate II. It is a body which has the knees bent. A 
small portion of the upper jaw, the left half of the lower, 
nearly the whole of one side of the trunk and pelvis, and a 
large portion of the left upper and lower extremities, arc 
what remain of it. The rock which contains it, is evidently 


sertion is still subject to doubt. * The same has 
been the case with the articles of human fabrica- 
tion. The pieces of iron found at Montmartre 
are fragments of the tools which the workmen 
use for putting in blasts of gunpowder, and which 
sometimes break in the stone f . 

Yet human bones preserve equally well with 
those of animals, when placed in the same circum- 
stances. In Egypt, no difference is remarked be- 
tween the mummies of men and those of quadru- 
peds. I picked up, from the excavations made 
some years ago in the ancient church of St Ge- 
nevieve, human bones that had been interred be- 
low the first race, which may even have belonged 
to some princes of the family of Clovis, and which 

a travertin, in which are imbedded shells of the neighbouring 
sea, and land-shells, which are still found alive in the 
island, namely, the Bulimus guadalupensis of Ferussac. 

* See M. de Schlotheim's Treatise on Petrifactions, Go- 
tha, 1820, p. 57 ; and his Letter in the Isis of 1820, 8th 
Number, No. 6. of Supplement. 

t It is perhaps proper that I take notice of those frag- 
ments of sandstone, regarding which some noise was at- 
tempted to be made last year~(1824), and in which a man 
and a horse were alleged to have been found petrified. The 
mere circumstance of its being a man and a horse, with their 
flesh and skin, that these fragments must have represented, 
might have enabled every one to perceive that the whole was 
a mere lusus nature? t and not a true petrifaction. -Note L. 


still retained their forms very perfectly #. We 
do not find in ancient fields of battle that the ske- 
letons of men are more wasted than those of horses, 
except in so far as they may have been influenced 
by size ; and we find among fossil remains the 
bones of animals as small as rats, still perfectly 

Every circumstance, therefore, leads to the con- 
clusion, that the human species did not exist in 
the countries in which the fossil bones have been 
discovered, at the epoch of the revolutions by 
which these bones were covered up ; for there 
cannot be a single reason assigned, why men should 
have entirely escaped from such general cata- 
strophes, or why their remains should not be now 
found like those of other animals. I do not pre- 
sume, however, to conclude that man did not exist 
at all before this epoch. He might then have in- 
habited some narrow regions, whence he might 
have repeopled the earth after those terrible events. 
Perhaps also, the places which he inhabited may 
have been entirely swallowed up in the abyss, 
and his bones buried at the bottom of the present 
seas, with the exception of a small number of in- 
dividuals, which have continued the species. 

* Fourcroy has given an analysis of them in the Annales 
du Museuni, vol. x. p. 1. 


However this may be, the establishment of man 
in those countries in which we have said that the 
fossil remains of land animals are found, that is 
to say, in the greatest part of Europe, Asia, and 
America, has necessarily been posterior, not only 
to the revolutions which have covered up these 
bones, but also to those which have laid bare the 
strata containing them, and which are the last 
that the globe has undergone. Hence it clearly 
appears, that no argument in favour of the anti- 
quity of the human species in these different 
countries can be derived either from those bones 
themselves, or from the more or less considerable 
masses of rocks or of earthy materials by which 
they are covered. 

Physical Proofs of the Newness of the Present 

On the contrary, by a careful examination of 
what has taken place on the surface of the globe, 
since it has been laid dry for the last time, and 
its continents have assumed their present form, 
at least in the parts that are somewhat elevated, 
it may be clearly seen that this last revolution, 
and consequently the establishment of our exist- 
ing societies, could not have been very ancient. 
This result is one of the best established, and, at 
the same time, one of the least attended to in ra- 
tional geology ; and it is so much the more valu- 


able, that it connects natural and civil history in 
one uninterrupted series. 

When we measure the effects produced in a 
given time by causes still acting, and compare 
them with those which the same causes have pro- 
duced since they have begun to act, we are en- 
abled to determine nearly the instant at which 
their action commenced ; which is necessarily the 
same as that in which our continents assumed 
their present form, or that of the last sudden re- 
treat of the waters. 

It must, in fact, have been since this last re- 
treat of the waters, that our present steep decli- 
vities have begun to disintegrate, and to form 
heaps of debris at their bases ; that our present 
rivers have begun to flow, and to deposit their 
alluvial matters ; that our present vegetation has 
begun to extend itself, and to produce soil ; that 
our present cliffs have begun to be corroded 
by the sea ; that our present downs have be- 
gun to be thrown up by the wind: just as it 
must have been since this same epoch, that co- 
lonies of men have begun, for the first or second 
time, to spread themselves, and to form establish- 
ments in places fitted by nature for their recep- 
tion. I do not here take the action of volcanoes 
into account, not only because of the irregula- 
rity of their eruptions, but because we have no 
proofs of their not having been able to exist mi- 


der the sea ; and because, on that account, they 
cannot serve ns as a measure of the time which 
has elapsed since its last retreat. 

Additions of Land by the Action of Rivers. 

MM. Deluc and Dolomieu have most care- 
fully examined the progress of the formation of 
new ground by means of matters washed down 
by rivers ; and although exceedingly opposed to 
each other on many points of the Theory of the 
Earth, they agree in this. These formations aug- 
ment very rapidly ; they must have increased still 
more rapidly at first, when the mountains fur- 
nished more materials to the rivers, and yet their 
extent is still inconsiderable. 

Dolomieu's Memoir respecting Egypt * tends 
to prove, that the tongue of land on which Alex- 
ander caused his city to be built, did not exist in 
the days of Homer ; that they were then able to 
navigate directly from the island of Pharos into 
the gulf afterwards called Lake Mareotis ; and 
that this gulf was then, as indicated by Mene- 
laus, from fifteen to twenty leagues in length. 
It had, therefore, only required the nine hundred 
years that elapsed between the time of Homer 
and that of Strabo, to bring things to the state in 

* Journal de Physique, t. xlii, p. 40. et seq. 


which this latter author describes them, and to 
reduce the gulf in question to the form of a lake, 
of six leagues in length. It is more certain, that, 
since that time, things have changed still more. 
The sand thrown up by the sea and winds have 
formed, between the island of Pharos and the site 
of ancient Alexandria, a tongue of land two hun- 
dred fathoms in breadth, upon which the modern 
city has been built. It has blocked up the near- 
est mouth of the Nile, and reduced the lake Ma- 
reotis to almost nothing ; while, during the same 
period, the alluvial matter carried down by the 
Nile, has been deposited along the rest of the 
shore, and has greatly increased its extent. 

The ancients were not ignorant of these 
changes. Herodotus says, that the Egyptian 
priests regarded their country as a gift of the 
Nile. It is only in a manner, he adds, within a 
short period, that the Delta has appeared *. 
Aristotle observes, that Homer speaks of Thebes 
as if it had been the only great city in Egypt ; 
and nowhere makes mention of Memphis f . The 
Canopian and Pelusian mouths of the Nile were 
formerly the principal ones; and the coast ex- 
tended in a straight line from the one to the 

* Herod. Euterpe, v. and xxv. 
t Arist. Meteor, lib. i. cap. 14. 


other ; and in this manner it still appears in the 
charts of Ptolemy. Since then, the water has 
been directed into the Bolbitian and Phatnitic 
mouths ; and it is at these entrances into the sea 
that the greatest depositions have been formed, 
which have given the coast a semicircular outline. 
The cities of Rosetta and Damieta, which were 
built upon these mouths, close to the edge of the 
sea, less than a thousand years ago, are now two 
leagues distant from it. According to Demaillet*, 
it would only have required twenty-six years to 
form a promontory of half a league in extent be- 
fore Rosetta . 

An elevation is produced in the soil of Egypt, 
at the same time that this extension of its surface 
takes place, and the bed of the river rises in the 
same proportion as the adjacent plains, which 
makes the inundations of every succeeding cen- 
tury pass far beyond the marks which it had 
left during the preceding ones. According to He- 
rodotus, a period of nine hundred years was suf- 
ficient to establish a difference of level amount- 
ing to ten or twelve feet. At Elephantia f, the 
inundation at present exceeds by seven feet the 
greatest heights which it attained under Septi- 
mus Severus, at the commencement of the third 

* Demaillet, Description of Egypt, p. 102,-3. 
t Herod. Euterpe, xiii. 


century. At Cairo, before it is judged sufficient 
for the purpose of irrigation, it must exceed, by 
three feet and a half, the height which was neces- 
sary in the ninth century. The ancient monu- 
ments of this celebrated land have all their bases 
more or less buried in the soil. The mud left by 
the river even covers, to a depth of several feet, 
the artificial mounds on which the ancient towns 
were built *. 

The delta of the Rhone is not less remarkable 
for its increase. Astruc gives a detailed account 
of it in his Natural History of Languedoc ; and 
proves, by a careful comparison of the descriptions 
of Mela, Strabo and Pliny, with the state of the 
places as they existed at the commencement of 
the eighteenth century, taking into account the 
statements of several writers of the middle age, 
that the arms of the Rhone have increased three 
leagues in length in the course of eighteen hun- 
dred years ; that similar additions of land are 
made to the west of the Rhone ; and that a num- 

* See M. Girard's Observations on the valley of Egypt ; 
and on the secular increase of the soil which covers it, in the 
great work upon Egypt, and Mod. Mem. t. ii. p. 343. On 
this subject we may further observe that Dolomieu, Shaw, 
and other respectable authors, have estimated these secular 
elevations much higher than M. Girard. It is to be lament- 
ed, that nowhere has it been tried to examine the depth of 
these deposits over the original soil, or the natural rock. 


ber of places, which were situated, six or eight 
hundred years ago, at the edge of the sea or of 
large pools, are now several miles distant from 
the water. 

Any one may observe in Holland and Italy, 
with what rapidity the Rhine, the Po, and the 
Arno, since they have been confined within dikes, 
raise their beds, advance their mouths into the 
sea, forming long promontories at their sides ; 
and judge, from these facts, how small a number 
of ages was required by these rivers to deposit the 
low plains which they now traverse. 

Many cities, which were flourishing sea-ports 
at well known periods of history, are now some 
leagues inland ; and several have even been ruin- 
ed, in consequence of this change of position. 
The inhabitants of Venice find it exceedingly 
difficult to preserve the lagunes, by which that 
city is separated from the continent ; and not- 
withstanding all their efforts, it will be inevitably 
joined to the mainland *. 

We know, from the testimony of Strabo, that 
Ravenna stood among lagunes in the time of Au- 
gustus, as Venice does now ; but at present Ra- 
venna is a league distant from the shore. Spina 

* See M. Forfait's Memoir on the lagunes of Venice, 
inserted in the Mem, de la Classe Phys. de 1'Institut, t. v. 
p. 213. 


had been built by the Greeks at the edge of the 
sea ; yet in Strabo's time it was ninety stadia 
from it, and is now destroyed. Adria in Lom- 
bardy, which gave name to the Adriatic sea, and 
of which it was, somewhat more than twenty cen- 
turies ago, the principal port, is now six leagues 
distant from it. Fortis has even rendered it pro- 
bable that, at a more remote period, the Euga- 
nian Mountains may have been islands. 

M. de Prony, a learned member of the Insti- 
tute, and inspector- general of bridges and roads, 
has communicated to me some observations which 
are of the greatest importance s as explaining those 
changes that have taken place along the shores of 
the Adriatic *. Having been directed by govern- 
ment to investigate the remedies that might be ap- 
plied to the devastations occasioned by the floods 
of the Po, he ascertained that this river, since the 
period when it was shut in by dikes, has so great- 
ly raised the level of its bottom, that the surface 
of its waters is now higher than the roofs of the 
houses in Ferrara. At the same time, its allu- 
vial depositions have advanced so rapidly into tire 
sea, that, by comparing old charts with the pre- 
sent state, the shore is found to have gained more 
than six thousand fathoms since 1604, giving an 
average of a hundred and fifty or a hundred and 

Note M. 


eighty, and in some places two hundred feet year- 
ly. The Adige and the Po, are at the present 
day higher than the whole tract of land that lies 
between them; and it is only by opening new 
channels for them in the low grounds, which they 
have formerly deposited, that the disasters which 
they now threaten may be averted. 

The same causes have produced the same ef- 
fects along the branches of the Rhine and the 
Meuse ; and thus the richest districts of Holland 
have continually the frightful view of their rivers 
held up by embankments at a height of from 
twenty to thirty feet above the level of the land. 

M. Wiebeking, director of bridges and high- 
ways in the kingdom of Bavaria, has written a 
memoir upon this subject, so important as to be 
worthy of being properly understood, both by 
the people and the government, in all countries 
where these changes take place. In this memoir, 
he shews that the property of raising the level of 
their beds is common in a greater or less degree to 
all rivers. 

The additions of land that have been made a- 
long the shores of the North Sea, have not been 
less rapid in their progress than in Italy. They 
can be easily traced in Friesland and in the coun- 
try of Groningen, where the epoch of the first 
dikes, constructed by the Spanish governor Caspar 
Robles, is well known to have been in 1570. An 


hundred years afterwards, land had already been 
gained, in some places, to the extent of three 
quarters of a league beyond these dikes ; and even 
the city of Groningen, partly built upon the old 
land, on a limestone which does not belong to the 
present sea, and in which the same shells are 
found as in the coarse limestone of the neighbour- 
hood of Paris, is only six leagues from the sea. 
Having been upon the spot, I am enabled to ad- 
duce my own testimony in confirmation of facts 
already well known, and which have been so well 
stated by M. Deluc *. The same phenomenon 
may be as distinctly observed along the coasts of 
East Friesland, and the countries of Bremen and 
Holstein, as the period at which the new grounds 
were inclosed for the first time is known, and the 
extent that has been gained since can be measured. 
This new alluvial land, formed by the rivers and 
the sea, is of astonishing fertility, and is so much 
the more valuable, as the ancient soil of these coun- 
tries, being covered with heaths'and peat-mosses, is 
almost everywhere unfit for cultivation. The allu- 
vial lands alone produce subsistence for the many 
populous cities that have been built along these 
coasts, since the middle age, and which perhaps 
would not have attained their present flourishing 
condition, without the aid of the rich deposits 

* In various parts of the two last volumes of his Letters 
to the Queen of England, . 


which the rivers had prepared for them, and which 
they are continually augmenting. 

If the size which Herodotus attributes to the 
Sea of Asoph, which he makes equal to the Eux- 
ine #, had been less vaguely indicated, and if we 
knew precisely what he meant by the Gerrhus f , 
we should there find strong additional proofs of 
the changes produced by rivers, and the rapidity 
with which they are made ; for the alluvial depo- 
sitions of rivers alone have, since the time of He- 
rodotus, that is to say, in the course of two thou- 
sand and two or three hundred years, reduced 
the Sea of Asoph $ to its present comparatively 
small size, shut up the course of the Gerrhus, or 
that branch of the Dnieper which had formerly 
joined the Hypacyris, and discharged its waters a- 
long with that river into the gulf called Carcinites, 

* Melpom. Ixxxvi. t Ibid. Ivi. 

J This supposed diminution of the Black Sea and Sea of 
Asoph, has also been attributed to the rupture of the Bos- 
phorus, which had taken place at the pretended period of 
the deluge of Deucalion ; and yet, in order to establish the 
fact itself, recourse is had to successive diminutions of the 
extent attributed to these seas by Herodotus, Strabo, and 
others. But it is very obvious, that, if this diminution had 
arisen from the rupture of the Bosphorus, it would neces- 
sarily have been completed long before the time of Herodo- 
tus, and even at the period at which Deucalion is supposed 
to have lived. 


now the Olu-Degnitz, and reduced the Hypacyris 
itself to almost nothing*. We should possess 
proofs no less strong of the same kind, could we 
be certain that the Oxus or Sihoun, which at pre- 
sent discharges itself into the lake Aral, former- 
ly reached the Caspian Sea. But we are in pos- 
session of facts sufficiently conclusive on the point 
in question, without adducing such as are doubt- 
ful, and without being exposed to the necessity of 
making the ignorance of the ancients in geo- 
graphy the basis of our physical propositions, f 

* See the Geography of Herodotus by M. Rennel, p. 56. 
et seq. ; and the Physical Geography of the Black Sea, &c. 
by M. Dureau de Lamalle. There is only at present the 
small river of Kamennoipost, that could represent the Ger- 
rhus and Hypacyris, such as they are described by Herodo- 

M. Dureau, p. 170, supposes Herodotus to have made the 
Borysthenes and Hypanis discharge themselves into the Pa- 
lus Mseotis; but Herodotus (in Melpom. liii.) only says 
that these two rivers fall together into the same lake, that 
is, into the Liman, as at the present day. Herodotus does 
not carry the Gerrhus and Hypacyris any farther. 

t For example, M. Dureau de Lamalle, in his Physical 
Geography of the Black Sea, quotes Aristotle (Meteor, lib. i. 
cap. 13.) as " apprising us, that, in his time, there still existed 
several ancient periods and peripli, attesting that there had 
been a canal leading from the Caspian Sea into the Palus Mse- 
otis." Now, Aristotle's words at the place mentioned (Duval's 
edition,!. 545. B.) are merely these : " From the Paropamisus, 
descend, among other rivers, the Bactrus, the Choaspes, and 


Progress of the Downs. 

THE downs or hillocks of sand which the sea 
throws up on low coasts, when its bottom is 
sandy, have already been mentioned. Wherever 
human industry has not succeeded in fixing these 
downs, they advance as irresistibly upon the land 
as the alluvial depositions of the rivers advance 
into the sea. In their progress inland, they push 
before them the large pools formed by the rain 
which falls upon the neighbouring grounds, and 
whose communication with the sea is intercepted 
by them. In many places they proceed with a 
frightful rapidity, overwhelming forests, buildings, 
and cultivated fields. Those upon the coast of the 
Bay of Biscay * have already overwhelmed a great 
number of villages mentioned in the records of the 

the Araxis, from which the Tanais, which is a branch of it, 
takes its origin, into the Palus Maeotis." Who does not see 
that this nonsense, which is neither founded upon peripli nor 
periods, is nothing else than the strange idea of Alexander's 
soldiers, who took the Jaxartes or Tanais of the Transoxian for 
the Don or Tanais of Scythia ? Arrian and Pliny distinguish 
these two rivers from each other, but the distinction does not 
appear to have been made in the time of Aristotle. How, 
then, could such geographers as these furnish us with geolo- 
gical documents ? 

* See the Report upon the Downs of the Gulf of Gascony 
(or Bay of Biscay) by M. Tassin Mont de-Marsan, an x. 


middle age ; and at this moment, in the single 
Department of the Landes, they threaten ten 
with inevitable destruction. One of these villages, 
named Mimisan, has been struggling against 
them these twenty years, with the melancholy 
prospect of a sand-hill of more than sixty feet 
perpendicular height visibly approaching it. 

In 1802, the pent up pools overwhelmed five 
fine farming establishments at the village of St 
Julian *. They have long covered up an ancient 
Roman road leading from Bourdeaux to Bayonne, 
and which could still be seen forty years ago, 
when the waters were low f . The Adour, which 
is known to have formerly passed Old Boucaut, 
to join the sea at Cape Breton, is now turned 
to the distance of more than two thousand 

The late M. Bremontier, inspector of bridges 
and highways, who conducted extensive opera- 
tions upon these downs, estimated their progress 
at sixty feet yearly, and in some places at seventy- 
two feet. According to this calculation, it will 
only require two thousand years to enable them 
to reach Bourdeaux ; and, from their present ex- 
tent, it must have been somewhat more than 

* Memoir on the means of fixing Downs, by M. Bremon- 

t Report of M. Tassin, loc. cit. 


four thousand years since they began to be form- 
ed *. 

The overwhelming of the cultivated lands of 
Egypt, by the sterile lands of Libya, which are 
thrown upon them by the west wind, is a pheno- 
menon of the same nature with the downs. These 
sands have destroyed a number of cities and vil- 
lages, whose ruins are still to be seen ; and this 
has happened since the conquest of the country 
by the Mahometans, for the summits of the mi- 
narets of some mosques are seen projecting be- 
yond the sand f. With a progress so rapid, they 
would, without doubt, have filled up the narrow 
parts of the valley, ^if so many ages had elapsed 
since they began to be thrown into it } ; and there 
would no longer remain any thing between the 
Libyan chain and the Nile. Here, then, we have 
another natural chronometer, of which it would 
be as easy as interesting to obtain the measure. 

Peat-Mosses and Slips'. 

THE turbaries, or peat-mosses, which have 
been found so generally in the northern parts of 
Europe, by the accumulation of the remains of 

* See M. Bremontier's Memoir, 
f Denon, Voyage en Egypte. 

We might cite in confirmation all the travellers who 
have visited the western border of Egypt. 


sphagna and other aquatic mosses, also afford a 
measure of time. They increase in height in 
proportions which are determinate with regard 
to each place. They thus envelope the small 
knolls of the lands on which they are formed ; 
and several of these knolls have been covered over 
within the memory of man. In other places the 
peat-mosses descend along the valleys, advancing 
like glaciers, but differing from them in this re- 
spect, that, while the glaciers melt at their lower 
part, the progress of the peat is impeded by no- 
thing. By sounding their depth down to the so- 
lid ground, we may estimate their age ; and we 
find, with regard to these peat-mosses, as with re- 
gard to the downs, that they cannot have derived 
their origin from an indefinitely remote period. 
The same observation may be made with regard 
to the slips or fallings, which take place with won- 
derful rapidity at the foot of all steep rocks, and 
which are still very far from having covered them. 
But as no precise measures have hitherto been ap- 
plied to these two agents, we shall not insist up- 
on them at greater length *. 

* These phenomena are very well treated of in M. Deltic's 
Letters to the Queen of England, in the parts where he de- 
scribes the peat-moses of Westphalia ; and in his Letters to 
Lametherie^insertedmthe Journal de Physique for 1791,&c. 
as well as in those which he has addressed to Blumenbach. 
We may refer also to the very interesting details which 


From all that has been said, it may be seen 
that nature uniformly speaks the same language, 
everywhere informing us that the present order of 
things cannot have commenced at a very remote 
period. And, what is very remarkable, mankind 
everywhere speaks as nature, whether we consult 
the received traditions of the various nations, or 
examine their moral and political state, and the 
intellectual attainments which they had made at 
the period when their authentic records com- 

The History of Nations confirms the Newness of the 

In fact, although, at the first glance, the tradi- 
tions of some ancient nations, which extend their 
origin to so many thousands of ages, appear 
strongly to contradict this newness of the world,as 
it exists at present ; yet when we examine these 
traditions more carefully, we soon perceive that 
they are not sufficiently authenticated. We are, 
on the contrary, quickly convinced, that true his- 
tory, deserving that name, and all that has been 

are given in note F, respecting the islands of the west coast 
of the Duchy of Sleswick, and the manner in which they 
have been joined, whether to one another, or to the con- 
tinent, by alluvial depositions and peat-mosses, as well as re- 
specting the irruptions of the sea which from time to time 
have destroyed or separated some of their parts. 


preserved of positive documents regarding the 
first establishment of nations, confirm what has 
been announced by the natural monuments al- 
ready mentioned. 

The chronology of none of the western nations 
can be traced in a continuous line farther back 
than 3000 years. None of them afford us, pre- 
vious to that period, nor even two or three cen- 
turies after, a series of facts connected with any 
degree of probability. The north of Europe pos- 
sesses no authentic records which bear a remoter 
date than that of its conversion to Christianity. 
The history of Spain, of Gaul, and of England, 
commences only at the period when these coun- 
tries were conquered by the Romans ; that of 
northern Italy is, at the present day, almost un- 
known. The Greeks acknowledge that they did 
not possess the art of writing, until it was taught 
them by the Phenicians, fifteen or sixteen centu- 
ries before the Christian era; even for a long 
time after, their history is full of fables ; and 
they do not assign a more remote date than 300 
years farther back, to their uniting into distinct 
tribes. Of the history of Western Asia, we have 
only a few contradictory extracts, which do not, 
with any connection, give a greater antiquity 
than twenty-five centuries * ; and even if we ad- 

* The period of Cyrus, about 650 years before the 
Christian era. 


mil the few historical details which refer to more 
remote periods, it can scarcely be extended to 
forty *. 

Herodotus, the first profane historian whose 
works have been transmitted to us, has not a 
greater antiquity than 2300 years f . The histo- 
rians, prior to him, whom he may have consulted, 
do not date a century before him \. We may 
even judge of what they were by the extravagan- 
ces handed down to us, extracted from the works 
of Aristceus of Proconnesus, and some others. 
Before them we have only poets ; and Homer, 
the most ancient that we possess, Homer the 
immortal master and model of all the West, 
flourished only twenty-seven or twenty-eight cen- 
turies before the present time. 

When these first historians speak of ancient 
events, whether occurring in their own nation, or 
in neighbouring countries, they only cite oral 
traditions, and not public works. It was not un- 

* The period of Ninus, about 2348 years before Christ, 
according to Ctesias, and those who have followed him; 
but only 1250, according to Volney, after Herodotus. 

t Herodotus lived 440 years before Christ. 

J Cadmus, Pherecydes, Aristaeus of Proconnesus, Acu- 
silaus, Hecataeus of Miletum, Charon of Lampsacus, &c. 
See Vossius, Histor. Graec. lib. i., and especially his fourth 


til a long time after them, that pretended ex- 
tracts were given from the Egyptian, Phenician, 
and Babylonian annals. Berosus wrote only in 
the reign of Seleucus Nicanor ; Hieronymus in 
that of Antiochus Soter, and Manetho under 
Ptolemy Philadelphia ; the whole three having 
flourished only in the third century before the 
Christian era. That Sanconiatho was an author 
real or supposed, was not known till Philo of 
Byblos had published a translation of his work 
in the reign of Adrian, in the second century be- 
fore Christ; and, when he did become known, 
there was nothing found in his account of the 
early ages, as in those of all the authors of this 
kind, but a puerile theogony, or metaphysical 
doctrines, so disguised under the form of allegory 
as to be unintelligible 

One nation alone has preserved annals written 
in prose before the period of Cyrus, namely, the 
Jewish people. The part of the Old Testament 
which is known by the name of the Pentateuch, 
has existed in its present form, at least since the 
separation of the ten tribes under Jeroboam, since 
it was received as authentic by the Samaritans 
equally as the Jews, which assures us that its ac- 
tual antiquity is upwards of 2800 years. Besides 
this, we have no reason to doubt the book of Ge- 
nesis having been composed by Moses himself, 
which gives it an antiquity of 500 years more, or 


of thirty-three centuries ; and it is only necessary 
to read it, to perceive that it has in part been 
composed of fragments of previously existing works. 
We cannot, therefore, hesitate to admit, that this 
is the most ancient writing which has been trans- 
mitted to modern times in the West *. 

Now, this work, and all those which have been 
composed since, whatever strangers their authors 
might be to Moses and his people, speak of the 
nations on the shores of the Mediterranean as of 
recent origin ; they represent them as still in a 
half savage state some ages before. And, further, 
they all speak of a general catastrophe, an irrup- 
tion of the waters, which occasioned an almost 
total regeneration of the human race ; and to this 
epoch they do not assign a very remote antiquity. 
Those texts of the Pentateuch, which extend 
this epoch the longest, do not place it farther 
back than twenty centuries before Moses, and 
hence not more than 5400 years before the pre- 
sent day f. 

In the poetical traditions of the Greeks, from 
which is derived the whole of our profane history 
with reference to those remote ages, there is no- 
thing which contradicts the Jewish annals. On the 

* Note N. 

t The Septaagint, 5345 years; the Samaritan text, 4869; 
the Hebrew text, 4174, 


contrary, they have a wonderful agreement with 
them, by the epoch which they assign to the 
Egyptian and Phenician colonies, by which the 
first germs of civilization were carried into Greece. 
We find that, about the same period when the 
Israelites took their departure from Egypt, to 
carry into Palestine the sublime doctrine of the 
unity of God, other colonies issued from the same 
country, to carry into Greece a religion less pure, 
at least in its external character, whatever might 
have been the secret doctrines which it reserved 
for the initiated ; while others, again, came from 
Phenicia, and imparted to the Greeks the art of 
writing, and whatever was connected with navi- 
gation and commerce *. 

* There is a difference of several years among chronolo- 
gists with respect to each of these events ; but these migra- 
tions form, notwithstanding, the peculiar and very remark- 
able feature of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries before 
the Christian era. Thus, according to the calculations of 
Usserius, Cecrops came from Egypt to Athens about 1556 
years before Christ ; Deucalion settled on Parnassus about 
1548; Cadmus arrived from Phenicia at Thebes about 
14p3 ; Danaus came to Argos about 1485 ; and Dardanus 
established himself on the Hellespont about 1449* All 
these founders of nations must therefore have been nearly 
contemporary with Moses, whose migration took place 
in 1491. Consult further, regarding the synchronism of 
Moses, Danaus and Cadmus, Diodorus, lib. xi; in Photius, 
p. 1152. 


It is undoubtedly far from being the case, that 
we have had since that time a connected history, 
since we still find, for a long period after these 
founders of colonies, a multitude of mythological 
events, and adventures, in which gods and heroes 
are concerned ; and these chiefs are connected 
with authentic history only by means of genealo- 
gies evidently fictitious *. And, it is still more 
certain, that whatever preceded their arrival, 
could only have been preserved in very imperfect 
traditions, and supplied by mere fictions, similar 
to those of our monks of the middle age regarding 
the origin of the European nations. 

Thus, not only should we not be surprised to 
find, even in ancient times, many doubts and 
contradictions respecting the epochs of Cecrops, 
Deucalion, Cadmus and Danaus ; and not only 
would it be childish to attach the smallest import- 

* The genealogies of Apollodorus are generally known, 
and that portion of them upon which Clavier endeavoured 
to establish a sort of primitive history of Greece; but, when 
we become acquainted with the genealogies of the Arabs, 
those of the Tartars, and all those which our old chroni- 
cling monks invented for the different sovereigns of Eu- 
rope, and even for individuals, we readily comprehend that 
Greek writers must have done for the early periods of their 
nation what has been done for. all the other nations, at pe- 
riods when criticism had not been used to throw light upon 


ance to any opinion whatever, regarding the 
precise dates of Inachus * or Ogyges f ; but, if 
any thing ought to surprise us, it is this, that an 
infinitely more remote antiquity had not been as- 
signed to those personages. It is impossible that 
there has not been in this case some effect of the 
influence of received traditions, from which the 
inventors of fables were not able to free them- 
selves. One of the dates assigned to the deluge 
of Ogyges, even agrees so much with one of those 
which have been attributed to the deluge of 
Noah, that it is almost impossible it should not 
have been derived from some source, where this 
latter deluge had been the one intended to be 
spoken of ^ 

* 1856 or 1823 years before Christ, or other dates still, 
but always about 350 years before the principal Phenician 
or Egyptian colonies. 

t The common date of Ogyges, according to Acusilaus, 
followed by Eusebius, is 179$ years before Christ, conse- 
quently several years after Inachus. 

Varro places the deluge of Ogyges, which he calls the 
first deluge, 400 years before Inachus, and consequently 
1600 years before the first Olympiad. This would refer it 
to a period of 2376 years before Christ ; and the deluge of 
Noah, according to the Hebrew text, is 2349, there being 
only 27 years of difference. This testimony of Varro is 

* >-'* ' 


As to Deucalion, whether this prince be re- 
garded as a real or fictitious personage, however 
little we enter into the manner in which his de- 
luge has been introduced into the poems of the 
Greeks, and the various details with which it be - 
comes successively enriched, we perceive that it 
was nothing else than a tradition of the great ca- 
taclysm, altered and placed by the Hellenians in 
the period which they also assigned to Deuca- 
lion, because he was regarded as the founder of 
their nation, and because his history is confound- 
ed with that of all the chiefs of the renewed na- 

mentioned by Censorinus, De Die Natali, cap. xxi. In 
reality, Censorinus wrote only 238 years after Christ ; and, 
it appears, from Julius Africanus, ap. Euseb. Praep. cv. that 
Acusilaus, the first author who placed a del age in the reign 
of Ogyges, made this prince cotemporary with Phoronaeus, 
which would have brought him very near the first Olym- 
piad. Julius Africanus makes only an interval of 1020 
years between the two epochs ; and there is even a passage 
in Censorinus conformable to this opinion. Some also read 
erogilium in place of ogygium, in the passage of Varro, which 
we have quoted above from Censorinus. But what would 
this be but an Erogitian Cataclysm, of which nobody has 
ever heard ? 

* Neither Homer nor Hesiod knew any thing of the de- 
luge of Deucalion, any more than that of Ogyges, The first 
author, whose works are extant, by whom mention is made of 
the former, is Pindar (Od, Olymp. ix.) He speaks of Deuca- 



Each of the different colonies of Greece, that 
had preserved isolated traditions, commenced 

lion as landing upon Parnassus, establishing himself in the 
city of Protogene (first growth or birth), and re-creating 
his people from stones; in a word, he relates, but con- 
fining it to a single nation only, the fable afterwards gene- 
ralized by Ovid, and applied to the whole human race. 
The first historians who wrote after Pindar, namely, Hero- 
dotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, make no mention of 
any deluge, whether of the time of Ogyges, or that of Deu- 
ealion, although they speak of the latter as one of the first 
kings of the Hellenes. 

Plato, in his Timaeus, says only a few words of the de- 
luge, as well as of Deucalion and Pyrrha, in order to com- 
mence the recital of the great catastrophe, which, according 
to the priests of Sais, destroyed the Atlantis ; but, in these 
few words, he speaks of the deluge in the singular number, 
as if it had been the only one. He even expressly men- 
tions farther on, that the Greeks knew only one. He places 
the name of Deucalion immediately after that of Phoro- 
neus, the first of the human race, without making mention 
of Ogyges. Thus, with him, it is still a general event, a 
true universal deluge, and the only one which had hap- 
pened. He regards it, therefore, as identical with that of 

Aristotle (Meteor, i. 14.) seems to be the first who con- 
sidered this deluge only as a local inundation, which 
he places near Dodona and the river Achelous, but near 
the Achelous and Dodona of Thessaly. Apollodorus 
(Bibl. i. 7-) restores to the deluge of Deucalion all its 
grandeur and mythological character. According to him, 
it took place at the period when the age of brass was pass- 
ing into the age of iron. Deucalion is the son of Titan 


them with a particular deluge of its own, because 
some remembrance of the general deluge common 

Prometheus, the fabricator of man ; he forms anew the hu- 
man race of stones ; and yet Atlas, his uncle, Phoroneus, 
who lived before him, and several other personages ante- 
rior to him, preserve a lengthened posterity. 

In proportion as we advance toward authors who ap- 
proach nearer our own times, we find circumstances of de- 
tail added, which more resemble those related by Moses. 
Thus Apollodorus gives Deucalion a great chest as a means of 
safety ; Plutarch speaks of the pigeons by which he sought 
to find out whether the waters had retired ; and Lucian, of 
the animals of every kind which he had taken with him, &c. 

With regard to the blending of traditions and hypothe- 
ses, by which it has recently been tried to infer the con- 
clusion, that the rupture of the Thracian Bosphorus was 
the cause of Deucalion's deluge, and even of the opening of 
the pillars of Hercules, by making the waters of the 
Euxine Sea discharge themselves into the Archipelago, 
supposing them to have been much higher and more ex- 
tended than they have been since that event, it is not neces- 
sary for us to treat of it in detail, since it has been deter- 
mined by the observations of M. Olivier, that if the Black 
Sea had been as high as it is imagined to have been, it 
would have found several passages for its waters, by hills 
and plains less elevated than the present banks of the Bos- 
phorus ; and by those of the Count Andreossy, that had it 
one day fallen suddenly in the manner of a cascade by this 
new passage, the small quantity of water that could have 
flowed at once through so narrow an aperture, would not 
only be diffused over the immense extent of the Mediterra- 
nean, without occasioning a tide of a few fathoms, but that 
2 K2 


to all the nations, was preserved among each of 
the tribes ; and, when it was afterwards attempted 
to reduce these various traditions to a common 
chronology, different events were imagined to 
have been recorded, from the circumstance that 
dates, in reality uncertain, or perhaps altogether 
false, although considered as authentic in the 
countries where they originated, were not found 
to agree with each other. Thus, in the same 
manner that the Hellenes had a deluge of Deu- 
calion, because they regarded him as the founder 
of their nation, the Autochtones of Attica had 
one of Ogyges, because it was with him that their 
history commenced. The Pelasgi of Arcadia 
had that which, according to later authors, com- 
pelled Dardauus to retire towards the Helles- 
pont.* The island of Samothracia, one of those 
in which a succession of priests had been more 
anciently established, together with a regular 
worship and connected traditions, had also a de- 

the mere natural inclination necessary for the flowing of 
the waters, would have reduced to nothing their excess of 
height above the shores of Attica. 

See further on this subject the note that I have published 
at the head of the third volume of Ovid, of M. Lemaire's 

* Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiq. Rom. lib. i. cap. 


luge, which passed for the most ancient of all *, 
and which was attributed to the bursting of the 
Bosphorus and the Hellespont. Some idea of a 
similar event was preserved in Asia Minor f , and 
in Syria t, and to this the Greeks would after- 
wards naturally attach the name of Deucalion ||. 
But none of these traditions assign a very re- 
remote antiquity to this cataclysm ; and there is 
none of them that does not admit of explanation, 
in so far as its date and other circumstances are 
concerned, from the variations to which narra- 
tives, that are not fixed by writing, must be con- 
tinually liable. 

The very remote Antiquity attributed to certain Na- 
tions is not supported by History. 
Those who would attribute to the continents 
and the establishment of nations, a very remote 
antiquity, are therefore obliged to have recourse 
to the Indians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, three 

* Diodorus Siculus, lib. v. cap. xlvii. 

t Stephen of Byzantium, under the word Iconium ; 
Zenodotus, Prov. cent. vi. No. 10. ; and Suidas, voce Nan- 

t Lucian, De Dea Syra. 

|j Arnobius, Contra Gent. lib. v. p. m. 158, even speaks 
of a rock in Phrygia, from which it was pretended that 
Deucalion and Pyrrha had taken their stones. 


nations, in fact, which appear to have been the 
most anciently civilized of the Caucasian Race, 
and having a remarkable similarity, not only in 
their temperament, and in the climate and na- 
ture of the countries which they occupied, but 
also in their political and religious constitution, 
but whose testimony this almost identical consti- 
tution ought to render equally suspected^. 

These three nations agreed in having each a 
hereditary caste, to which the care of religion, 
laws, and science, was exclusively consigned. In 
all of them, this caste had its allegorical language 
and secret doctrines ; and in all it reserved to it- 
self the privilege of reading and explaining the 
sacred books, the whole doctrines of which had 
been revealed by the gods themselves. 

W"e can easily conceive what history would ne- 
cessarily come to in such hands ; but, without 
having recourse to any great efforts of reason, we 
may learn it from the fact itself, by examining 
what it has come to in the only one of these 

* This mutual resemblance in their institutions is carried 
to such an extent as to make it very natural to suppose that 
these nations had a common origin. It should not be for- 
gotten, that many ancient authors thought that the Egyp- 
tian institutions came from Ethiopia ; and that Syncellus, 
p. 151. says positively that the Ethiopians came from the 
banks of the Indus in the time of King Amenophtis. 


three nations which still exists, namely, the In- 

The truth is, that history does not exist at all 
among them. In the midst of that infinity of books 
on mystical theology and abstract metaphysics 
which the Brahmins possess, and many of which 
have been made known to us by the ingenious per- 
severance of the English, we find no connected 
account of the origin of their nation, or of the 
vicissitudes of their society. They even pretend 
that their religion prohibits them from recording 
the events of the present time, their age of mis- 
fortune *. 

According to the Vedas, the first revealed 
works, on which are founded the whole religious 
opinions of the Hindoos, the literature of this 
people, like that of the Greeks, had its origin at 
two great epochs ; the Ramaian and the Maha- 
barat, a thousand times more monstrous in their 
wonders than the Iliad and Odyssey, but in 
which we also perceive some traces of a meta- 
physical doctrine of that description generally 
termed sublime. The other poems, which, toge- 
ther with the two mentioned, compose the great 
body of the Pouranas, are nothing else than me- 
trical legends or romances, written at different 

* See Polier. Mythology of the Hindoos, vol. i. p. 8& 91. 


periods, and by different authors, and not less 
extravagant in their fictions than the great poems. 
It has been imagined that, in some of these writ- 
ings, events and names of men bearing some re- 
semblance to those spoken of by the Greeks and 
Latins, might be discovered ; and it is chiefly 
from these resemblances of names that Mr Wil- 
fort has attempted to extract from the Pouranas 
a kind of concordance with our ancient chrono- 
logy of the west ; a concordance which, in every 
line, betrays the hypothetical nature of its basis, 
and which, moreover, can only be admitted by 
absolutely rejecting the dates given in the Poura- 
nas themselves *. 

The list of kings which the Indian pundits or 
doctors pretend to have compiled according to 
these Pouranas, are nothing but mere catalogues 
without any details, or adorned with absurd ones, 
like those of the Chaldeans and Egyptians, and 
like those which Trithemus and Saxo Gramma- 
ticus have made up for the northern nations f . 

! ^ 


* See the elaborate Memoir of Mr Wilfort, on the chrono- 
logy of the kings of Magadha, and the Indian emperors, and 
on the epochs of Vicramaditya or Bikermadjit, and Saliva- 
hanria, in the Calcutta Memoirs, vol. ix. p. 82. 8vo. edit. 

t See Sir William Jones on the chronology of the Hin- 
doos. Calcutta Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 111. See also Wilfort 

' ' 


These lists are far from corresponding ; none of 
them supposes a history, or registers, or records ; 
the very basis on which they rest may have been 
purely imagined by the poets from whose works 
they have been extracted. One of the pundits 
who furnished Mr Wilfort with them, acknow- 
ledged that he had arbitrarily filled up the spaces 
between the celebrated kings with imaginary 
names *, and avowed that his predecessors had 
done the same. If this be true of the lists ob- 
tained by the English at the present day, how 
should it not be so of those given by Abou-Fa- 
zel, as extracts from the annals of Cachmere f , 
and which, besides, full of fables as they are, do 
not extend farther back than 4300 years, of 
which more than 1200 are occupied with names 
of princes whose reigns, in as far as regards their 
duration, remain undetermined. 

Even the era, accordingly, from which the In- 
dians count their years at the present day, which 
commences fifty seven years before Christ, and 
__^ _ -^_______ 

on the same subject, Ibid. vol. v. p. 241. and the lists 
which he. gives in his essay cited above, vol. ix. p. 116. 

* Wilfort, Calcutta Mem. 8vo. vol. ix. p. 133. 

t In the Ayeen-Acbery, vol. ii. p. 138, of the English 
transl. See also Heeren, Commerce of the Ancients, vol. i. 
part ii. p. 329. 


which bears the name of a prince called Vicrama- 
ditjia, or Bickermadjit, bears it only by a sort of 
convention ; for we find, according to the synchro- 
nisms attributed to Vicramaditjia, that there 
may have been at least three, and perhaps so 
many as eight or nine, princes of this name, who 
have all similar legends, and who have all waged 
war with a prince named Saliwahanna ; and, 
further, we cannot well make out whether this 
period, the fifty-seventh year before the Christian 
era, is that of the birth, reign, or death of the 
hero whose name it bears.* 

Lastly, the most authentic books of the In- 
dians, contradict, by intrinsic and very obvious 
characters, the antiquity attributed to them by 
the pundits. Their vedas, or sacred books, alle- 
ged by them to have been revealed by Brama 
himself from the beginning of the world, and ar- 
ranged by Viasa (a name which signifies no- 
thing else than collector), at the commencement 
of the present age, if we judge of them by the 
calendar which is found annexed, and to which 
they refer, as well as by the position of the co- 
lures indicated by this calendar, may extend to 

* See Bentley, on the Astronomical Systems of the 
Hindoos, and their Connection with History ; Calcutta Me- 
moirs, vol. viii. p. 243. of the 8vo edition. 


3200 years, or about the epoch of Moses.* Nay, 
perhaps those who give credit to the assertion of 
Megasthenest, that in his time the Indians were 
not acquainted with the art of writing, who re- 
flect that none of the ancients has made mention 
of their superb temples, those immense pagodas, 
the remarkable monuments of the religion of the 
Bramins, and who are aware that the epochs of 
their astronomical tables have been calculated 
backwards, and ill calculated, and that their trea- 
tises of astronomy are modern and antedated, 
will be inclined still farther to reduce the pre- 
tended antiquity of the Vedas. 

Yet even in the midst of all the Brahminical 
fictions, circumstances occur, whose agreement 
with the result of the historical monuments of 
more western countries cannot but astonish us. 
Thus, their mythology consecrates the successive 
devastations which the surface of the globe has 
already undergone, or is yet destined to undergo ; 
and it is only to a period somewhat less than 
5000 years, that they refer the last catastrophe^ 

* See Mr Colebrooke's Memoir on the Vedas, Calcutta 
Memoirs, vol. viii. p. 493. 8vo edition. 

t Megasthenes apud Strabonem, lib. xv. p. 709. Almel. 

J The epoch which gave birth to the present age, Call- 
yug (the earthen age,) 4927 years before the present 
day, or 3200 years before Christ. See Legentil, Voyage 


One of these revolutions, which is in reality 
placed much farther from us, is described in terms 
nearly corresponding with those of Moses *. Mr 
Wilfort even assures us, that, in another event of 
the same mythology, a conspicuous place is held 
hy a personage who resembles Deucalion, in his 
origin, name, and adventures, and even in the 
name and adventures of his father f . It is a cir- 

aux Indes, t. i. p. 253. ; Bentley, Calcutta Memoirs, vol. 
viii. of the 8vo edition, p. 212. This period is only fifty- 
nine years farther back than the deluge of Noah, according 
to the Samaritan text. 

* The person named Satyavrata plays the same part as 
Noah, by saving himself with fourteen saints. See Sir W. 
Jones, Calcutta Memoirs, vol. i. p. 230. 8vo edition ; also 
in the Bagvadam, or Bagavata, translated by Fouche d'Ob- 
sonville, p. 212. 

t Cala-Javana, or, in common language, Cal-Yun, to 
whom his partisans might have given the epithet, deva, deo, 
(dieu, god), having attacked Chrishna (the Indian Apollo), 
at the head of the northern nations (the Scythians, of whom 
was Deucalion, according to Lucian), was repulsed by fire 
and water. His father Garga had for one of his surnames 
Pramathesa (Prometheus); and, according to another le- 
gend, he was devoured by the eagle Garuda. These parti- 
culars have been extracted by Mr Wilfort (in his Memoir 
upon Mount Caucasus, Calcutta Memoirs, vol. vi. p. 507, 
8vo edition), from the Sanscrit drama, entitled Hari-Vansa. 
Mr Charles Ritter, in his Vestibule of the History of Eu- 
rope before Herodotus, concludes that the whole fable of 
Deucalion was of foreign origin, and had been brought into 


cumstance equally worthy of remark, that, in the 
lists of their kings, imperfect and unauthentic as 
they are, they date the commencement of their 
first human sovereigns (those of the race of the 
sun and moon), at an epoch which is nearly the 
same as that from which Ctesias, in his singu- 
larly constructed list, commences the reign of his 
Assyrian kings *. 

This deplorable state of historical knowledge 
was necessarily the result of the system of a 
people, among whom the exclusive privilege of 
writing, of preserving, and of explaining the 
books, was given to the hereditary priests of a 
religion monstrous in its ritual, and cruel in its 
maxims. Some legend made up for the purpose 
of establishing a place of pilgrimage, inventions 
adapted to impress more deeply a respect for their 

Greece along with the other legends of that part of the Gre- 
cian worship which had come from the north, and which 
had preceded the Egyptian and Phenician colonies. But if 
it be true that the constellations of the Indian sphere have 
also names of persons celebrated in Greece, that Andromeda 
and Cepheus are represented under the names of Antarma- 
dia and Capita, &c. we should perhaps be induced to draw, 
with Mr Wilfort, a conclusion quite the reverse. Unfortu- 
nately the authenticity of the documents referred to by this 
writer has been doubted among the learned. 

* About 4000 years before the present time. See Bent- 
ley, Calcutta Memoirs, vol. viii. p. 226. of the 8vo edition. 


caste, must have interested these priests more 
than any historical truths. Of the sciences, they 
might have cultivated astronomy, which would 
give them credit as astrologers ; mechanics, which 
would assist them in raising their monuments, 
those signs of their power, and objects of the 
superstitious veneration of the people ; geometry, 
the hasis of astronomy, as well as of mechanics, 
and an important auxiliary to agriculture in those 
vast plains of alluvial formation, which could 
only be rendered healthy and fertile by the aid 
of numerous canals. They might have encou- 
raged the mechanical or chemical arts, which 
supported their commerce, and contributed to 
their luxury, and the magnificence of their tem- 
ples. But history, which informs men of their 
mutual relations, would be regarded by them with 

What we see in India, we might therefore ex- 
pect to find in general, wherever sacerdotal races, 
constituted like those of the Brahmins, and esta- 
blished in similar countries, assumed the same 
empire over the mass of the people. The same 
causes produce the same effects ; and, in fact, we 
have only to glance over the fragments of Egyp- 
tian and Chaldean traditions which have been 
preserved, to be convinced that there is no more 
historical authenticity in them than in those of 
the Indians. 


In order to judge of the nature of the chro- 
nicles which the Egyptian priests pretended to 
possess, it is only necessary to review the extracts 
which have heen given by themselves at different 
periods, and to different individuals. 

Those of Sais, for example, informed Solon, 
ahout 550 years before Christ, that, as Egypt 
was not subject to deluges, they had preserved 
not only their own annals, but those of other na- 
tions also; that the cities of Athens and Sais had 
been built by Minerva, the former 9000 years 
before, the latter only 8000 ; and to these dates 
they added the well known fables respecting 'the 
Atlantes, and the resistance which the ancient 
Athenians opposed to their conquests, together 
with the whole romantic description of the At- 
lantis*, a description in which we find events 
and genealogies similar to those of all mythologi- 
cal romances. 

A century later, about 450 years before Christ, 
the priests of Memphis gave entirely different 
accounts to Herodotus f . Menes, the first king 
of Egypt, according to them, had built Memphis, 
and inclosed the Nile within dikes, as if it were 
possible that the first king of a country could 

* See Plato's Timaeus and Critias. 
t Euterpe, chap. xcix. et seq. 


perform operations of this kind. Between this 
prince and Moeris, who, according to them, 
reigned 900 years before the period at which this 
account was given (1350 years before Christ), 
they had a succession of three hundred and thirty 
other kings. 

After these kings came Sesostris, who extend- 
ed his conquests as far as Colchis * ; and altoge- 
ther, there were, to the time of Sethos, three 
hundred and forty-one kings, and three hundred 
and forty-one chief priests, in three hundred and 
forty-one generations, during a space of 11,340 
years. And, in this interval, as if to insure the 
authenticity of their chronology, these priests as- 
serted that the sun had risen twice where he sets, 
without any change having taken place in the 
climate or productions of the country, and with- 
out any of the gods having at that time, or be- 
fore, made their appearance and reigned in 

* Herodotus thought he had discovered relations of 
figure and colour between the Colchians and Egyptians; 
but it is infinitely more probable that those dark-coloured 
Colchians of which he speaks, were an Indian colony,, at- 
tracted by the commerce anciently established between In- 
dia and Europe, by the Oxus, the Caspian Sea, and the 
Phasis. See Hitter,, Vestibule of Ancient History before 
Herodotus, chap. i. 


To this fable, which, despite of all the pre- 
tended explanations that have been given of it, 
evinces so gross an ignorance of astronomy, they 
added, regarding Sesostris, Phero, Helenius, and 
Rhampsinitus, the kings who built the pyramids, 
and an Ethiopian conqueror named Sabacos, a 
set of tales equally absurd. 

The priests of Thebes did better : they shewed 
Herodotus, and they had before shewn to Heca- 
taeus, three hundred and forty-five colossal figures 
of wood, which represented three hundred and 
forty-five high priests, who had succeeded to each 
other from father to son, all men. all born the 
one of the other, but who had been preceded by 
gods *. Other Egyptians told him that they had 
exact registers, not only of the reign of men, but 
also of that of gods. They reckoned 17,000 years 
from Hercules to Amases, and 15,000 from Bac- 
chus. Pan had even been prior to Hercules f . 
These people evidently took for history some al- 
legories relating to pantheistic metaphysics, which 
formed, unknown to them, the basis of their my- 

* Euterpe, chap, cxliii. 
t Ibid, cxliv. 


It is only from the time of Sethos that Hero- 
dotus commences the part of his history which is 
somewhat rational ; and it is worthy of remark, 
that this part begins with an event which agrees 
with the Hebrew annals, the destruction of the 
army of the King of Assyria, Sennacherib * ; and 
this agreement continues under Necho -f-, and un- 
der Hophra or Apries. 

Two centuries after Herodotus (about 260 
years before Christ) Ptolemy Philadelphus, a 
prince of a foreign race, wished to become ac- 
quainted with the history of the country which 
events had called him to govern. A priest, called 
Manetho, was employed to write it for him. It 
was not from registers or archives that he pre- 
tended to compile this work, but from the sa- 
cred books of Agathodaemon, the son of the se- 
cond Hermes, and the father of Tat, who had 
copied it upon pillars erected before the flood by 
Tot or the first Hermes, in the Seriadic land {. 
And this second Hermes, this Agathodsemon, 
this Tat, are personages of whom nothing had 
ever been said before, any more than of the Seri- 

* Euterpe; cxli. 

t Ibid, clix., and in the fourth Book of the Kings, chap. 
19, or in the second of the Paral. chap. 32. 

t Syncell. p. 40. 


adic land, or of its pillars. The deluge itself was 
an event entirely unknown to the Egyptians of 
preceding times, and concerning which Manetho 
says nothing in what remains of his dynasties. 
The product resembles its source ; not only is the 
whole full of absurdities, but they are absurdities 
peculiar to the work, and utterly irreconcilable 
with those which the priests of older times had re- 
lated to Solon and Herodotus. 

It is Vulcan who commences the series of di- 
vine kings. He reigns 9000 years ; the gods and 
demi-gods reign 1985 years. The names, and 
successions, and dates of Manetho are utterly un- 
like any thing that was published before or after 
him ; and from the discrepancy of the extracts gi- 
ven by Josephus, Julius Africanus, and Eusebius, 
we may infer that his narratives were as obscure 
and confused in themselves, as they were discor- 
dant with those of other authors. Even the du- 
ration of the respective reigns of his human kings 
is not settled. According to Julius Africanus, 
it extended to 5101 ; according to Eusebius, 
to 4723 ; and according to Syncellus, .to 3555 
years. It might be thought that the differences 
in the names and cyphers arose from the inaccu- 
racy of copyists ; but Josephus quotes a passage at 
length, the details of which are manifestly in con- 
tradiction with the extracts of his successors. 


A chronicle, named the ancient *, and which 
some consider anterior, others posterior, to Ma- 
netho, gives still different calculations. The to- 
tal duration of its kings is 36,525 years, of which 
the sun reigned 30,000, the other gods 3984, and 
the demi-gods 217 ; there remaining for those of 
the human race only 2339 years. There are thus 
also but 113 generations, in place of the 340 of 

A learned man of an order different from that 
of Manetho, the astronomer Eratosthenes, dis- 
covered and published, in the reign of Ptolemy 
Euergetes, about 240 years before Christ, a par- 
ticular list of thirty-eight kings of Thebes, 
commencing with Menes, and continuing for a 
space of 1024 years ; of which we have an extract 
that Syncellus has copied from Apollodorus f . 
Scarcely any of the names found in this list cor- 
respond with those of the others. 

Diodorus went to Egypt in the reign of Pto- 
lemy Auletes, about sixty years before Christ, 
consequently two centuries after Manetho, and 
four after Herodotus. He also collected from the 
narratives of the priests a history of the coun- 
try, and his account is again quite different from 
those of his predecessors $. It isjio longer Menes 

* Syncell. p. 51. t Ibid, p. 91. el seq. 

% Diod. Sic. lib. i. sect. 2. 


who built Memphis, but Uchoraeus ; and long be- 
fore his time Busiris the second had built Thebes. 
The eighth ancestor of Uchoraeus, Osymandyas, 
possessed himself of Bactria, and crushed rebel- 
lions in it. Long after him, Sesoosis made still 
more extensive conquests, having proceeded as far 
as the Ganges, and returned by Scythia and the 
Tanais. Unfortunately these names of kings are 
unknown to all the preceding historians, and none 
of the nations which they conquered have preserv- 
ed the slightest traces of them. As to the gods 
and heroes, their reign, according to Diodorus, ex- 
tended through a space of 18,000 years, while 
that of the human sovereigns was 15,000. Four 
hundred and seventy of the kings were Egyptians, 
and four Ethiopians, without reckoning the Per- 
sians and Macedonians. The fables, besides, with 
which the whole is intermingled, do not yield in 
childishness to those of Herodotus. 

In the eighteenth year of the Christian era, 
Germanicus, the nephew of Tiberius, led by the 
desire of becoming acquainted with the antiqui- 
ties of this celebrated land, went over to Egypt, 
at the risk of incurring the displeasure of a prince 
so suspicious as his uncle, and proceeded up the 
Nile as far as Thebes. It was no more Sesostris 
or Osymandyas, of whom the priests spoke to him 
as a conqueror, but Rhamses, who, at the head of 
700,000 men, had invaded Libya, Ethiopia, Me- 


dia, Persia, Bactria, Scythia, Asia-Minor, and 
Syria *. 

Lastly, in the celebrated article of Pliny upon 
the ohelisks f, we find names of kings which are 
not to be seen elsewhere ; Sothies, Mnevis, 
Zmarreus, Eraphius, Mestires, a Semenpserteus, 
contemporary of Pythagoras, &c. A Ramises, 
who might be thought the same as Rhamses, is 
there made to live at the time of the siege of 

1 am not sure whether it has been attempted 
to reconcile these discordant lists by the supposi- 
tion that the kings have borne several names. 
For my own part, when I consider not only the 
discrepancy of these various accounts, but, above 
all, the mixture of authentic facts, attested by 
vast monuments, and of puerile extravagancies, it 
appears to me much more natural to conclude, 
that the Egyptian priests possessed no real his- 
tory whatever; that, inferior still to those of 

* Tacit. Annal. lib. ii. cap. 60. 

N. B. According to the interpretation given by Am- 
mianus, lib. xvii. cap. 4., of the hieroglyphics on the obelisk 
of Thebes, which is at present in Rome in the place of St 
John of Latran, it appears that a Rharaestes was styled, af- 
ter the eastern manner, lord of the habitable earth ; and 
that the history told to Gennanicus was only a commentary 
on this inscription. 

t Pliny, lib. xxxvi. cap. 8, 9, 10, 11. 



India, they had not even suitable and connected 
fables ; that they preserved only lists more or less 
defective of their kings, and some remembrances 
of the more distinguished among them, of those 
especially who had taken care to have their names 
inscribed upon the temples and other great edifices 
which adorned their country ; but that these re- 
membrances were confused, that they rested 
merely upon the traditional explanation which 
was given to the representations painted or sculp- 
tured upon the monuments ; explanations found- 
ed solely upon hieroglyphical inscriptions, con- 
ceived, like that which has been handed down to 
us *, in very general terms, and which, passing 
from mouth to mouth, were altered, as to their 
details, at the pleasure of those who communi- 
cated them to strangers ; and that it is conse- 
quently impossible to rest any proposition relative 
to the antiquity of the presently existing conti- 
nents, upon the shreds of these traditions, so in- 
complete even in their own times, and become 
utterly unintelligible under the pen of those who 
have been the means of transmitting them to 

Should this assertion require other proofs, they 
would be found in the list of the sacred works of 

* That of Ramcstes in Ammian. loc. cit. 


Hermes, which were carried by the Egyptian 
priests in their solemn processions. Clement of 
Alexandria * names them all to the number of 
forty-two, and there is not even found among 
them, as is the case with the Brahmins, one epic 
poem, or one book, which has the pretension to 
be a narrative, or to fix in any way a single great 
action or a single event. 

The interesting researches of M. Champollion 
the younger, and his astonishing discoveries re- 
garding the language of the hieroglyphics f , far 
from overturning these conjectures, on the con- 
trary, confirm them. This ingenious antiquary 
has read, in a series of hieroglyphic paintings in 
the temple of Abydos J, the prenomens of a cer- 
tain number of kings placed in regular succession 
one after another ; and a part of these prenomens 
(the last ten) recurring on various other monu- 
ments, accompanied with proper names, he has 
concluded that they are those of kings who bore 
those proper names, and this has afforded him 

* Stromat. lib- vi. p. 633. 

t See the " Precis clu Systeme Hieroglyphique des 
Anciens Egyptiens/' by M. Champollion the younger, 
p. 245; and his Letter to the Duke de Blacas, p. ]5 et seq. 

J This important bas-relief is engraved in the second 
volume of M. Caillaud's Voyage a Meroe, Plate xxxii. 


nearly the same kings, and in the same order, as 
those of which Manetho composes his eighteenth 
dynasty, that which expelled the shepherds. 
The concordance, however, is not complete: in 
the painting of Abydos, six of. the names that 
appear in Manetho's list are wanting ; there are 
some, again, which bear no resemblance ; and, last- 
ly, there unfortunately occurs a blank before the 
most remarkable of all, the Rhamses, who appears 
the same as the king represented on many of the 
finest monuments, with the attributes of a great 
conqueror. It would be, according to M. Cham- 
pollion, in the list of Manetho, the Sethos, the 
chief of the nineteenth dynasty, who, in fact, is 
indicated as powerful in ships and in cavalry, and 
as having carried his arms into Cyprus, Media 
and Persia. M. Champollion thinks, with Mar- 
sham and many others, that it is this Rhamses, 
or this Sethos, who is the Sesostris, or the Sesoo- 
sis of the Greeks ; and this opinion possesses some 
probability, in this respect, that the representa- 
tions of the victories of Rhamses, probably carried 
over the wandering tribes in the vicinity of Egypt, 
or at the most into Syria, have given rise to those 
fabulous ideas of vast conquests attributed, by 
some other confusion, to a Sesostris. But, in 
Manetho, it is in the twelfth dynasty, and not in 
the eighteenth, that a prince bearing the name of 
Sesostris is inscribed, who is noted as having con- 


quered Asia and Thrace *. Marsham also asserts, 
that this twelfth dynasty and the eighteenth make 
but one f . Manetho could not himself, therefore, 
have understood the lists which he copied. Lastly, 
if we admit in their full degree, both the histo- 
rical truth of this bas-relief of Abydos, and its 
accordance, whether with the part of M anetho's 
lists that seems to correspond to it, or with the 
other hieroglyphic inscriptions, this consequence 
would result, that the pretended eighteenth dy- 
nasty, the first regarding which the ancient chro- 
nologists begin to manifest some agreement, is 
also the first which has left traces of its existence 
upon monuments. Manetho may have consulted 
this document and others of a like nature ; but it 
is not the less obvious, that a mere list, a series of 
names or of portraits, as he has throughout, is far 
from being a history. 

Ought not this, then, which is proved and de- 
monstrated with respect to the Indians, and 
which I have rendered so probable with respect 
to the inhabitants of the valley of the Nile, be 
presumed also to be the case with those of the 
valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris ? Establish- 
ed, like the Indians j and Egyptians, upon a much 

* Syncell, p- 59. t Canon, p, 355. 

J The whole ancient mythology of the Brahmins has 


frequented route of commerce, in vast plains, which 
they had been obliged to intersect with nume- 
rous canals; instructed, like them, by hereditary 
priests, the pretended depositaries of secret books, 
the privileged possessors of the sciences, astrolo- 
gers, builders of pyramids, and other great monu- 
ments * ; should they not also resemble them in 
other essential points ? Should not their history 
be equally a mere collection of legendary tales ? I 
venture almost to assert, that not only is this pro- 
bable, but that it is actually demonstrated. 

Up to this period neither Moses nor Homer 
speak of any great empire in Upper Asia. Herodo- 
tus f gives to the supremacy of the Assyrians a du- 
ration of only 520 years, and does not attribute to 
their origin a greater antiquity than about eight 
centuries before his own time. After having 
been at Babylon, where he consulted the priests, 
he had not even learnt the name of Ninus as king 
of the Assyrians, and does not mention him 
otherwise than as the father of Agroj, the first 

relation to the plains or the course of the Ganges, where 
their first establishments were evidently formed. 

* The descriptions of the ancient Chaldean monuments 
have a strong resemblance to what we see of those of the 
Indians and Egyptians; but these monuments are not 
equally well preserved, because they were only built of 
bricks dried in the sun. 

t Clio, cap. xcv. j Clio, cap. vii. 


Lydian king of the family of the Heraclides. 
Notwithstanding, he makes him the son of Be- 
lus : so much confusion had there been in the 
traditions. Though he speaks of Semiramis as one 
of the queens who left great monuments in Baby- 
lon, he only places her seven generations before 

Hellanicus, who was cotemporary with Hero- 
dotus, far from allowing that Semiramis had 
built any thing at Babylon, attributes the foun- 
dation of that city to Chaldseus, the fourteenth 
successor of Ninus*. Berosus, a Babylonian 
and a priest, who wrote scarcely a hundred and 
twenty years after Herodotus, gives an astounding 
antiquity to Babylon ; but it is to Nabuchodono- 
sor, a prince comparatively very modern, that he 
attributes the principal monuments f . Regard- 
ing even Cyrus, a prince so remarkable, and whose 
history must have been so well known and so 
popular, Herodotus, who only lived a hundred 
years after him, owns that, in his time, there al- 
ready existed three different opinions ; and, in 
fact, sixty years later, Xenophon gives a biogra- 
phy of this prince quite at variance with that of 

* Stephen of Byzantium, at the word Chaldosi. 
t Josephus, (Contra App,) lib. i. cap. xix. 


Ctesias, who was nearly cotemporary with Xe- 
nophon, pretends to have extracted from the roy- 
al archives of the Medes, a chronology which 
carries back the origin of the Assyrian monarchy 
upwards of 800 years, putting at the head of 
their kings, that same Ninus, the son of Belus, 
whom Herodotus had made one of the Hera- 
elides ; and, at the same time, he attributes to 
Ninus and Semiramis conquests towards the 
west, of an extent absolutely incompatible with 
the Jewish and Egyptian history of the times in 
question *. 

According to Megasthenes, it was Nabucho- 
donosor who made these incredible conquests. 
He pushed them by way of Libya, as far as 
Spain f . We find that, in the time of Alexan- 
der, Nabuchodonosor had completely usurped 
the reputation which Semiramis had possessed in 
the time of Artaxerxes. But we must suppose, 
without doubt, that Semiramis and Nabuchodo- 
nosor had conquered Ethiopia and Libya, much 
in the same way as the Egyptians made India 
and Bactria to be subdued by Sesostris or Osy- 

1 Diod. Sic. lib. ii. 

| Josephus (contra App.) lib. i. cap. 6; and Strsbo, lib. 
xv. p. 687. 


It would lead to no result were we now to exa- 
mine the different accounts respecting Sardana- 
palus, in which a celebrated writer imagined he 
had found proofs of the existence of three princes 
of that name, who were all victims of similar mis- 
fortunes * ; much in the same way as another 
writer found in the Indian Vicramaditjia, at least 
three princes, who were equally the heroes of si- 
milar adventures. 

It is apparently from the want of agreement 
in all these accounts, that Strabo thought him- 
self justified in saying, that the authority of He- 
rodotus and Ctesias was not equal to that of Ho- 
mer or Hesiod f. Nor has Ctesias been more 
happy in transcribers than Manetho ; and it is very 
difficult, at the present day, to harmonize the 
extracts made from his writings by Diodorus, 
Eusebius, and the Syncelle. 

Since there existed such a state of uncertainty 
in the fifth century before the Christian era, how 
should it be imagined that Berosus had been able 
to clear it up in the third century before that era ; 
or how should we repose more confidence in the 
430,000 years which he puts before the deluge, or 

* See in the Memoirs of the Academy of Belles Let- 
tres, vol. v. the memoir of Freret on the History of the 

t Strabo, lib. xi. p. 507* 


the 35,000 years which lie places between the de- 
luge and Semiramis, than in the registers of 
150,000 years, which he boasts of having consult- 

Structures raised in remote provinces, and bear- 
ing the name of Semiramis, have been spoken of ; 
and columns erected by Sesostrisf have been pre- 
tended to have been seen in Asia Minor, in 
Thrace. But, in the same way, in Persia, at the 
present day, the ancient monuments, perhaps even 
some of the above, bear the name of Roustan ; 
and in Egypt or Arabia, they bear the names of 
Joseph or Solomon. This is an ancient custom 
among the eastern nations, and probably among 
all ignorant people. The peasants of our own 
country give the name of Caesar's Camp to all the 
remains of Roman entrenchments. 

In a word, the more I consider the subject, the 
more I am persuaded that there existed no an- 
cient history at Babylon or Ecbatan, more than 
in Egypt and India. And, in place of reducing 

* Syncellus, p. 38 and 39. 

t N. B. It is very remarkable that Herodotus does not 
mention having seen monuments of Sesostris, except in Pales- 
tine, and does not speak of those of Ionia, but upon the au- 
thority of others, adding, at the same time, that Sesostris is 
not named in the inscriptions, and that those who had seen 
these monuments attributed them to Memnon. See Eu- 
terpe, chap. cvi. 3 


mythology to history, with Evhemere and Ban- 
nier, I am of opinion that a great part of history 
should be referred to mythology. 

It is only at the epoch of what is commonly 
called the Second Kingdom of Assyria, that the 
history of the Assyrians and Chaldeans begins to 
become more intelligible ; and this epoch is also 
that at which the history of the Egyptians under- 
goes a similar change, when the kings of Nine- 
veh, of Babylon, and of Egypt, commence their 
conflicts on the theatre of Syria and Palestine. 

It appears, nevertheless, that the authors of 
these countries, or those who had consulted the 
traditions regarding them, Berosus, and Hierony- 
mus, and Nicholas de Dam as, agreed in speaking 
of a deluge. Berosus has even described it with 
circumstances so similar to those detailed in the 
book of Genesis, that it is almost impossible what 
he says of it should not have been derived from 
the same sources, even although he removes its 
epoch a great number of ages back, insomuch, 
at least, as we may judge of it, by the confused 
extracts which Josephus, Eusebius, and Syncel- 
lus, have preserved of his writings. But we 
must remark, and with this observation we shall 
conclude what we have to say with regard to the 
Babylonians, that these numerous ages, and this 
long series of kings, placed between the deluge 
and Semiramis, are a new thing, entirely peculiar 


to Berosus, and of which Ctesias, and those who 
have followed him, had no idea, and which has 
not even been adopted by any of the profane au- 
thors posterior to Berosus. Justin and Velleius 
consider Ninus as the first of the conquerors, and 
those who, contrary to all probability, place him 
highest, only refer him to a period of forty centu- 
ries before the present time *. 

The Armenian authors of the middle age 
nearly agree with one of the texts of Genesis, 
when they refer the deluge to a period of 4916 
years from their own time ; and it might be 
thought that having collected the old traditions, 
and perhaps extracted the old chronicles of their 
country, they form an additional authority in fa- 
vour of the newness of the nations. But when 
we reflect that their historical literature com- 
mences only in the fifth century, and that they 
were acquainted with Eusebius, we perceive that 
they must have accommodated themselves to his 
authority, and to that of the Bible. Moses 
of Chorene expressly professes to have followed 
the Greeks, and we see that his ancient history 
is moulded after Ctesias f. 

However, it is certain, that the tradition of the 
deluge existed in Armenia long before the con- 

* Justin, lib. i. cap. i. Vetleius Paterculus, lib. i. cap. 7. 

t See Moses of Chorene, Histor. Armeniac. lib. 1. cap. i, 



version of its inhabitants to Christianity ; and the 
city, which, according to Josephus, was called the 
Place of the Descent, still exists at the foot of 
Mount Ararat, and bears the name of Nachid- 
chevan, which, in fact, has the same significa- 
tion. * 

Along with the Armenians, we include the 
Arabians, Persians, Turks, Mongolians, and 
Abyssinians, of the present day. Their ancient 
books, if they ever had any, no longer exist. 
They have no ancient history, but that which 
they have recently made up, and which they have 
modelled after the Bible ; hence, what they say 
of the deluge is borrowed from Genesis, and adds 
nothing to the authority of that book. 

It were curious to inquire what had been the 
opinion of the ancient Persians upon this subject, 
before it was modified by the Christian and Ma- 
homedan creeds. We find it deposited in their 
Boundehesh, or Cosmogony, a work of the time 
of Sassanides, (but evidently extracted or transla- 
ted from more ancient works), and which was dis- 
covered by Anquetil du Perron, among the 
Parsis of India. According to it, the total du- 
ration of the world could only be 12,000 years; 
hence it cannot still be very old. The appear- 

* See the Preface of the Brothers Whiston, regarding 
Moses of Chorene, p. 4. 


ance of Cayoumortz (the bull-man, the first of 
the human race), is preceded by the creation of a 
great water. * 

For the rest, it would be as useless to expect a 
regular history of ancient times from the Parsis, 
as from the other eastern nations. The Magi 
have left none, any more than the Brahmins or 
Chaldeans. Of this there is nothing more requir- 
ed for proof than the uncertainty which exists re- 
garding the epoch of Zoroaster. It is even as- 
serted, that the little history they may have pos- 
sessed, that which relates to the Achemenides, 
the successors of Cyrus to Alexander, had been 
expressly altered, and this in consequence of an 
official order to that purpose from a monarch 
named Sassanidesf- 

In order to discover authentic dates of the com- 
mencement of empires, and traces of a general de- 
luge", we must therefore go beyond the great de- 
serts of Tartary. Toward the east and north we 
find another race of men, who differ from us as 
much in their institutions and manners as in their 
form and temperament. Their language consists 
of monosyllables, and they make use of arbitrary 
hieroglyphics in writing. They have only a po- 

* Zendavesta of Anquetil, vol. ii. p. 354. 
t Mazoudi, ap. Sacy, MS. of the Royal Library, vol. viii. 
p. 161, 

M 2 


litical system of morals, without religion ; for the 
superstitions of Fo were imported among them 
from India. Their yellow skin, their prominent 
cheeks, their narrow and oblique eyes, and their 
scanty beard, render them so different from us, 
that one is tempted to believe that their ancestors 
and ours had escaped the great catastrophe on two 
different sides. But however this may be, the 
epoch which they assign to their deluge is nearly 
the same as ours. 

The Chou-king is the most ancient of the 
Chinese books * ; it is said to have been compiled 
by Confucius, about 2255 years ago, from frag- 
ments of more ancient works. Two hundred 
years afterwards, a general persecution of the men 
of letters, and destruction of the books, is said to 
have taken place under the emperor Chi-Hoang- 
ti, whose object in this was to destroy the traces 
of the feudal government established under the 
dynasty which preceded his. Forty years after, 
under the dynasty which had overturned that to 
which Chi-Hoang-ti belonged, a portion of the 
Chou-king was restored from memory by an old 
literatus, and another was discovered in a tomb ; 
but nearly the half of it was for ever lost. Now, 
this book, the most authentic which the Chinese 

* See the preface to the edition of Chou-king, by M. de 


possess, commences the history of their country 
with the reign of an emperor named Yao, whom 
it represents to us as occupied in removing the wa- 
ters, which, having risen to the skies, still bath- 
ed the foot of the higher mountains, covered the 
less elevated hills, and rendered the plains impas- 
sahle *. According to some, the reign of Yao 
was 4163 years before the present time ; accord- 
ing to others, 3943. The discrepancy in the opi- 
nions regarding this epoch even amounts to 284 

A few pages farther on we find one Yu, a mi- 
nister and engineer, re-establishing the courses of 
the waters, raising embankments, digging canals, 
and regulating the taxes of all the provinces in 
China, that is to say, in an empire extending 600 
leagues in all directions. But the impossibility 
of such operations, after such events, shews clear- 
ly that the whole is nothing else than a moral 
and political romance f. 

More modern Chinese historians have added 
a series of emperors before Yao, but with a mul- 
titude of fabulous circumstances, without ventu- 
ring to assign them fixed epochs. These writers 

* Chou-king, French translation, p. 9- 

t See the Yu-kong, or first chapter of the second part 
of the Chou-king, pp. 4-3-60. 


are at perpetual variance with each other, even 
regarding the number and names of their empe- 
rors, and are not universally approved by their 
countrymen. Fouhi, with the body of a serpent, 
the head of an ox, and the teeth of a tortoise, to- 
gether with his successors, who are not less mon- 
strous, are altogether absurd, and have no more 
existed than Enceladon and Briareus. 

Is it possible that mere chance could have pro- 
duced so striking a result, as to make the tradi- 
tional origin of the Assyrian, Indian, and Chi- 
nese monarchies agree in being referred to an 
epoch of nearly 4000 years from the present pe- 
riod ? Would the ideas of nations which have 
had so little communication with each other, and 
whose language, religion, and laws are altogether 
different, have corresponded upon this point, had 
they not been founded upon truth ? 

We could not expect precise dates from the 
natives of America, who had no real writings, 
and whose oldest traditions extended only to a few 
centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards. And 
yet, even among them, traces of a deluge are ima- 
gined to be found in their rude hieroglyphics. 
They have their Noah, or Deucalion, as well as 
the Indians, Babylonians, and Greeks *. 

* See the excellent and magnificent work of M. de Hum- 
boldt upon the Mexican monuments. 


The Negroes, the most degraded race among 
men, whose forms approach the nearest to the 
brutes, and whose intellect has not yet arrived at 
the institution of regular governments, or at any 
thing having the least appearance of systematic 
knowledge, have preserved no sort of annals or 
traditions. They cannot, therefore, afford us any 
information on the subject of our present re- 
searches, though all their characters clearly shew 
us that they have escaped from the great catas- 
trophe, at another point than the Caucasian and 
Altaic races, from which they had perhaps been 
separated for a long time previous to the occur- 
rence of that catastrophe. 

But if the ancients, it is argued, have left no 
history, their long existence as nations is not the 
less attested by the advances which they have 
made in astronomy, by observations whose date is 
easily determined, and even by monuments which 
still remain, and which themselves bear their 
dates. Thus, the length of the year, such as the 
Egyptians are supposed to have determined it, 
according to the heliacal rising of Sirius, proves 
correct for a period comprised between the year 
3000 and the year 1000 before Christ, a period 
to which the traditions of their conquests and of 
the great prosperity of their empire also refer. 
This accuracy proves to what perfection they had 
carried their observations, and shews that they 


had for many ages applied themselves to such in- 

In order to determine the force of this argu- 
ment, it is necessary that we should here enter 
upon some explanations. 

The solstice is the moment of the year at 
which the rise of the Nile commences, and that 
which the Egyptians must have observed with 
most attention. Having, at the beginning, made, 
from imperfect observations, a civil or sacred year 
of three hundred and sixty-five days complete, 
they would preserve it from superstitious motives, 
even after they had perceived that it did not agree 
with the natural or tropical year, and did not 
bring back the seasons to the same days *. How- 
ever, it was this tropical year which it behoved 
them to mark for the purpose of directing them 
in their agricultural operations. 

They would, therefore, have to search in the 
heavens for an apparent sign of its return, and 
they imagined they had found this sign when the 
sun returned to the same position, relatively to 
some remarkable star. Thus they applied them- 
selves, like almost all nations who are beginning 

* Geminus, who was cotemporary with Cicero, explains 
their motives at length. See M. Halma's edition at the end 
of the Plolomee, p. 43. 


this inquiry, to observe the heliacal risings and 
settings of the stars. We know that they chose 
particularly the heliacal rising of Sirius, at first, 
doubtless, on account of the beauty of the star ; 
and, especially, because, in those ancient times, 
this rising of Sirius being nearly coincident with 
the solstice, and indicative of the inundation, was 
to them the most important phenomenon of this 
kind. Hence it was that Sirius, under the name 
of Sothis, occupied so conspicuous a place in their 
mythology, and in their religious ceremonies. 
Supposing, therefore, that the return of the he- 
liacal rising of Sirius and the tropical year were 
of the same duration, and believing, at length, 
that this duration was 365 days and a quarter, 
they would imagine a period after which the tro- 
pical year and the old year, the sacred year of 
365 days only, would return to the same day ; a 
period which, according to these incorrect data, 
was necessarily 1461 sacred years, and 1460 of 
those improved years to which they gave the 
name of years of Sirius. 

They took for the point of departure of this 
period, which they named the Sothiac or great 
year, a civil year, the first day of which was, or 
had been, also that of a heliacal rising of Sirius ; 
and it is known, from the positive testimony of 
Censorinus, that one of these great years had 


ended in the 138th year of the Christian era*. 
It had consequently commenced in the 1322d be- 
fore Christ, and that which preceded it in the 
2782d. In fact, the calculations of M. Ideler 
shew, that Sirius was heliacally risen on the 20th 
July of the Julian year 139, a day which corres- 
ponded that year to the first of Thot, or the first 
day of the Egyptian sacred year f . 

But not only is the position of the sun, with 
relation to the stars of the ecliptic, or the side- 
real year different from the tropical year, on ac- 
count of the precession of the equinoxes. The he- 
liacal year of a star, or the period of its heliacal 
rising, especially when it is distant from the 
ecliptic, differs still from the sidereal year, and 
differs in various degrees according to the lati- 
tudes of the places where it is observed. What 
is very singular, however, and the observation has 
already been made by Bainbridge J and Father 
Petau , it happens, by a remarkable concurrence 

* The whole of this system is developed by Censorinus, 
De Die Natali, cap. tv'ni. and xxi. 

t Ideler. Historical Researches regarding the Astrono- 
mical Observations of the Ancients. M. Raima's transla- 
tion, at the end of his Canon de Ptolomee, p. 32. et seq. 

J Bainbridge, Canicul. 

Petau, Var. Dios. lib* v. cap. vi. p. 108. Also, La 
Nanze, Acad. de Bell. Lett. t. xiv. p. 346. 


in the positions, that, in the latitude of Upper 
Egypt, at a certain epoch, and during a certain 
number of ages, the year of Sirius was really 
within very little of 365 days and a quarter ; so 
that the heliacal rising of this star returned in 
fact to the same day of the Julian year, the 20th 
July, in the year 1322 before, and the year 138 
after Christ *. 

From this actual coincidence, at this remote 
period, M. Fourier, who has confirmed all these 
accounts by new calculations, concludes, that, 
since the length of the year of Sirius was so per- 
fectly known to the Egyptians, they must have 
determined it by observations made during a long 
series of years, and conducted with great accuracy ; 
observations which must be referred to at least 
2500 years before the present time, and which 
could not have been made long before or long af- 
ter this interval of time f. 

* Petau. loc. cit. M. Ideler asserts that this concurrence 
of the heliacal rising of Sirius also took place in 2782 be- 
fore Christ. (Historical Researches in M. Raima's Ptolo- 
mee, vol. iv. p. 37.) But with regard to the Julian year 
1598 after Christ, which is also the last of a great year, Pe- 
tau and Ideler differ much from each other. The latter 
refers the heliacal rising of Sirius to the 22d July; the for- 
mer to the 19th or 20th of August. 

t See, in the great work on Egypt, Antiq. Memoirs, 
vol. 1. p. 803. the ingenious Memoir of M. Fourier, enti- 


This result would assuredly be very striking, 
had it heen directly, and by observations, made 
upon Sirius itself, that they had fixed the length 
of the year of Sirius. But experienced astrono- 
mers affirm it to be impossible that the heliacal 
rising of a star could afford a sufficient foundation 
for exact observations on such a subject, especially 
in a climate where the circumference of the ho- 
rizon is constantly so much loaded with va- 
pours, that, in clear nights, stars of the second 
or third magnitude can never be seen within 
some degrees of the verge of the horizon, and 
that the sun itself is completely obscured at its 
rising and setting. * They maintain, that, if 
the length of the year had not been otherwise as- 
certained, there would have been a mistake of one 
or two days, f They have no doubt, therefore, 
that this duration of 365 days and a quarter, is 
that of the tropical year inaccurately determined 
by the observation of the shadow, or by that of 

tied Recherches sur les Sciences et le Gouvernement de 

* These are the words of the late M. Nouet, Astronomer 
to the Expedition to Egypt. See Volney, New Inquiries 
regarding Ancient History, vol. iii. 

t Delambre, Abrege d' Astronomic, p. 217 : and in his 
note upon the Parantaellons, in his History of ,the Astro- 
nomy of the Middle Age, p. lij. 


the point where the sun rose each day, and 
through ignorance identified with the heliacal 
year of Sirius ; so that it would be mere chance 
which had fixed with so much accuracy the dura- 
tion of this latter for the period of which we 
speak. * 

Perhaps it will also be judged, that men ca- 
pable of making observations so exact, and which 
they had continued during so long a period, 
would not have attributed so much importance to 
Sirius, as to pay him religious homage ; for they 
would have seen that the relations of the rising of 
this star with the tropical year, and with the inun- 
dation of the Nile, were merely temporary, and 
took place only in a determinate latitude. In 
fact, according to M. Icfeler's calculations, in the 
year 2782 before Christ, Sirius appeared in Up- 
per Egypt, on the second day after the solstice ; 
in 1322, on the third ; and in the year 139 af- 
ter Christ, on the twenty-sixth.f At the present 
day, its heliacal rising is more than a month af- 
ter the solstice. The Egyptians would there- 
fore set themselves by preference to finding the 
period, which would bring about the coincidence 

* Delambre, Report upon M. de Paravey's Memoir re- 
garding the Sphere, in the 8th vol. of the Nouvelles An- 
nales des Voyages. 

t Ideler, loc. cit. p. 38. 


of the commencement of the sacred year, with 
that of the true tropical year, and then they would 
discover that their great period must have heen 
1508 sacred years, and not 1461.* Now, we 
assuredly do not find any traces of this period of 
1508 years in antiquity. 

In general, we may defend ourselves with the 
idea, that, if the Egyptians had possessed so long 
a series of observations, and of accurate observa- 
tions too, their disciple Eudoxus, who studied 
among them for thirteen years, would, on his re- 
turn, have brought into Greece a system of astro- 
nomy more perfect, and maps of the heavens less 
erroneous, and more coherent in their different 
parts, f How should it happen that the preces- 
sion of the equinoxes was not known to the 
Greeks, but through the works of Hipparchus, if 
it had been marked in the registers of the Egyp- 
tians, and inscribed in characters so manifest up- 
on the ceilings of their temples ? And how comes 
it that Ptolemy, who wrote in Egypt, should not 

* See Laplace, Systeme du Monde, 3d edition, p. 17; 
and the Annuaire of 1818. 

t See on the Inaccuracy of the Determinations of the 
Sphere of Eudoxus, M. Delambre, in the first volume of 
his History of the Astronomy of the Ancients, p. 120. 
et seq. 

2 > /X>f ,T" : - 


have deigned to avail himself of any of the obser- 
vations of the Egyptians ? * 

Farther, Herodotus, who lived so long with 
them, says nothing of those six hours which they 
added to the sacred year, nor of that great So- 
thian period which resulted. On the contrary, 
he says expressly that the Egyptians, making 
their year of 365 days, the seasons returned to 
the same point, so that in his time the necessity 
of this quarter of a day does not appear to have 
been suspected, f Thalles, who had visited the 
priests of Egypt, less than a century before He- 
rodotus, did not, in like manner, make known to 
his countrymen, any other than a year of 365 
days only .J And, if we reflect that all the co- 
lonies which migrated from Egypt, fourteen or 
fifteen centuries before, Christ, the Jews and the 
Athenians, carried with them the lunar year, it 
will perhaps be inferred that the year of 365 
days itself had not existed in Egypt in these re- 
mote ages. 

I am aware that Macrobius gives the Egyp- 
tians a solar year of 365^ days ; but this author, 

* See the Preliminary Discourse of the History of the 
Astronomy of the Middle Age, by M, Delambre, p. viii. 
et seq. 

t Euterpe, chap. iv. % Diog. Laert, lib. i. in Thalet. 

Saturnal. lib. i. cap. xv. 


who is comparatively modern, and who lived at a 
long period after the establishment of the fixed 
year of Alexandria, must have confounded the 
epochs. Diodorus * and Strabo ( only attribute 
such a year to the Thebans ; they do not say 
that it was in general use, and they themselves 
did not live till long after Herodotus. 

Thus the Sothian or great year must have been 
a comparatively recent invention, since it results 
from the comparison of the civil year with this 
pretended heliacal year of Sirius ; and it is for 
this reason that it is only spoken of in the works 
of the second and third century after Christ J, and 
that Syncellus alone, in the ninth, seems to cite 
Manetho as having made mention of it. . 

Notwithstanding all that is said to the con- 
trary, the same opinion must be formed of the as- 
tronomical knowledge of the Chaldeans. It is na- 
tural enough to think, that a people who inhabi- 
ted vast plains, under a sky perpetually serene, 
must have been led to observe the course of the 
stars, even at a period when they still led a wan- 
dering life, and when the stars alone could direct 

Bibl. lib. i. p. 46. t Geogr. p. 182. 

J See regarding the probable newness of this period the 
excellent dissertation of M. Biot, in his Researches respect- 
ing several points of the Egyptian Astronomy, p. 148 et 



their courses during the night ; but since what 
period were they astronomers, and to what per- 
fection did they carry the science ? Here rests the 
question. It is generally allowed that Callisthe- 
nes sent to Aristotle observations made by them, 
and which referred to a period of 2200 years be- 
fore Christ ; but this fact is related only by Sim- 
plicius *, as stated upon the authority of Por- 
phyry, and 600 years after Aristotle. Aristotle 
himself says nothing on the subject, nor has any 
creditable astronomer spoken of it. Ptolemy 
mentions and makes use of ten observations of 
eclipses really made by the Chaldeans ; but they do 
not refer to an earlier period than that of Nabo- 
nassar (721 years before Christ) ; they are inaccu- 
rate also ; the time is expressed only in hours and 
half-hours, and the shadow only in halves or 
fourths of the diameter. Notwithstanding, as 
they had fixed dates, the Chaldeans must have 
had some knowledge of the true length of the 
year, and some means of measuring time. They 
appear to have known the period of eighteen 

* See M. Delambre, Hist, de T Astronomic, vol. i. p. 212. 
See also his analysis of Geminus, ibid. p. 211. Compare 
this with M. Ideler's Memoirs on the Astronomy of the 
Chaldeans, in the fourth volume of M. Raima's Ptolemy, 
p. 166. 



years, which brings back the eclipses of the moon 
in the same order ; a piece of knowledge which the 
mere inspection of their registers would promptly 
afford them ; but it is certain that they could 
neither explain nor predict eclipses of the sun. 

It is from not having sufficiently understood a 
passage of Josephus, that Cassini, and after him 
Bailly, have imagined that they discovered in it 
a luni-solar period of 600 years, which had been 
known from the time of the first patriarchs *. 

Thus every thing leads us to believe that the 
great reputation of the Chaldeans was given them 
at a more recent period, by their unworthy suc- 
cessors, who, under the same name, sold their ho- 
roscopes and predictions throughout the whole 
Roman empire, and who, in order to procure 
themselves more credit, attributed to their rude 
ancestors the honour of the discoveries of the 

With regard to the Indians, every body knows 
that Bailly, believing that the epoch which is 
used as a period of departure in some of their as- 
tronomical tables had been actually observed, has 
attempted to draw from thence a proof of the 
great antiquity of the science among this people, 

* See Bailly, History of Ancient Astronomy ; and M. 
Delambre, in his work on the same subject, vol. i. p. 3. 


or at least among the nation which had bequeath- 
ed them its knowledge. But the whole of this 
system, invented with so much lahour, falls to the 
ground of itself, now that it is proved that this 
epoch has been adopted but of late, from calcula- 
tions made backwards, and even false in their re- 
sults .* 

Mr Bentley has discovered that the tables of 
Tirvalour, on which the assertion of Bailley espe- 
cially rested, must have been calculated about 
1281 of the Christian era, or 540 years ago, and 
that the Surya-Siddhanta, which the Brahmins 
regard as their oldest scientific treatise on astro- 
nomy, and which they pretend to have been re- 
vealed upwards of 20,000,000 of years ago, could 
not have been composed at an earlier period than 
about 760 years from the present day f . 

Solstices and equinoxes indicated in the Pou- 
ranas, and calculated according to the positions 
which seem to be attributed to them by the signs 

* See Laplace, Expose du Systeme du Monde, p. 330 ; 
and the Memoir of Mr Davis, on the Astronomical Calcula- 
tions of the Indians. Calcutta Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 225, Svo. 

t See Mr Bentley 's Memoirs on the Antiquity of the Su- 
rya-Siddhanta, Calcutta Memoirs, vol. vi. p, 540 ; and on the 
Astronomical Systems of the Indians, ibid., vol. via*, p. 195. 
of the Svo edition. 


of the Indian zodiac, such as they are supposed to 
be, have acquired the character of an enormous 
antiquity. A more attentive examination of 
these signs or nacchatras has lately convinced M. 
de Paravey that reference is only made to solsti- 
ces of 1200 years hefore the Christian era. This 
author at the same time admits, that the place of 
the solstices is so inaccurately fixed, that this de- 
termination of their date must he received with a 
latitude of 200 or 300 years. They are in the 
same predicament as those of Eudoxus and of 
Tcheoukong *. 

It is ascertained that the Indians do not make 
observations, and that they are not in possession 
of any of the instruments necessary for that pur- 
pose. M. Delambre indeed admits, with Bailly 
and Legentil, that they have processes of calcu- 
lation, which, without proving the antiquity of 
their astronomy, shew at least its originality f ; and 
yet this conclusion can by no means be extended 
to their sphere ; for, independently of their twenty- 
seven nacchatras or lunar houses, which strongly 

* Manuscript Memoirs of M. de Paravey, on the sphere 
of Upper Asia. 

t See the profound essay on the Astronomy of the In- 
dians in M. Delambre's Histoire de TAstronomie ancienne, 
vol. i. p. 400-556. 


resemble those of the Arabians, they have the 
same twelve constellations in the zodiac as the 
Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks * ; and, if we 
refer to Mr Wilfort's assertions, their extra-zo- 
diacal constellations are also the same as those of 
the Greeks, and bear names which are merely 
slight alterations of their Greek names f. 

It is to Yao that the introduction of astrono- 

* See the Memoir of Sir William Jones, on the Anti- 
quity of the Indian Zodiac, Calcutta Memoirs, vol. ii, 
p. 289 of the 8vo edition. 

f The following are Mr Wilfort's own words, in his 
memoir on the Testimonies of Ancient Hindoo Books, re- 
specting Egypt and the Nile, Calcutta Memoirs, vol. iii. 
p. 433 of the 8vo edition; 

ct Having desired my pundit, who is a learned astro- 
nomer, to point out in the heavens the constellation of 
Antarmada, he directed me immediately to Andromeda, 
which I had taken care not to shew him as a constellation 
that I knew. He afterwards brought me a very rare and 
curious book, in Sanscrit, in which there was a particular 
chapter on the Upanacshatras, or extra-zodiacal constella- 
tions, with figures of Capeya, of Casyape, seated, and hold- 
ing a lotus-flower in her hand ; of Antarmada, chained, 
with the fish near her ; and of Parasica, holding the head 
of a monster, which he had killed, dropping blood, and 
having snakes for hair." 

Who does not recognise in this, Perseus, Cepheus, and 
Cassiope? But we must not forget that this pundit of 
Mr Wilfort's has become much suspected. 


my into China is attributed. He is represented, 
in the Chou-king, as sending astronomers toward 
the four cardinal points of his empire, to examine 
what stars presided over the four seasons, and to 
regulate the operations to be carried on at each 
period of the year *, as if their dispersion was ne- 
cessary for such an undertaking. About 200 
years later, the Chou-king speaks of an eclipse of 
the sun, but accompanied with ridiculous circum- 
stances, as in all the fables of this kind ; for the 
whole Chinese army, headed by a general, is made 
to march against two astronomers, because they 
had not properly predicted itf; and it is well 
known that, more than 2000 years after, the Chi- 
nese astronomers possessed no means of accurately 
predicting the eclipses of the sun. In 1629 of 
our era, at the time of their dispute with the Je- 
suits, they did not even know how to calculate the 

The real eclipses, recorded by Confucius in his 
Chronicle of the kingdom of Lou, commence only 
1400 years after this, in the 776th before Christ, 
and scarcely half a century earlier than those of 
the Chaldeans related by Ptolemy. So true is it, 
that the nations which escaped at the same time 

* Chou-king, p. 6 and 7- 
t Idem, p. 66. et seq. 


from the general catastrophe, also arrived about the 
same period, when their circumstances have been 
similar, at the same degree of civilization. Now, 
it might be thought, from the identity of the 
names of the Chinese astronomers in different 
reigns (they appear, according to the Chou-king, 
to have all been named Hi and Ho) 9 that, at 
this remote epoch, their profession was hereditary 
in China, as it was in India, Egypt, and Baby- 

The only Chinese observation of any antiquity, 
which has nothing in itself to prove its want of 
authenticity, is that of the shadow made by 
Tcheou-kong about 1100 years before Christ; 
and even it is far from being correct *. 

Hence our readers may conclude, that the in- 
ferences drawn from the alleged perfection of as- 
tronomical science among ancient nations, is not 
more conclusive in favour of the excessive anti- 
quity of those nations, than the testimonies which 
they have adduced in reference to themselves. 

But had this astronomy been more perfect, 
what would it prove ? Has the progress been cal- 
culated which this science ought to make among 

* See, in the Connaissance des Temps of 1809, ? 382, 
and in M. Delambre's Histoire de 1'Astronomie ancienne, 
vol. i. p. 391, the extract of a memoir by P. Gaubil, on the 
Observations of the Chinese. 


nations who were not in any degree in possession 
of others ; to whom the serenity of the sky, the 
necessities of the pastoral or agricultural life, and 
their superstitious ideas, would render the stars 
an object of general attention ; where colleges, or 
societies of the most respectable men among them, 
were charged with keeping a register of interest- 
ing phenomena, and transmitting their memory ; 
and where, from the hereditary nature of the pro- 
fession, the children were brought up from the 
cradle in the knowledge of facts ascertained by 
their parents? Supposing that, among the nume- 
rous individuals of whom the cultivation of astro- 
nomy was the sole occupation, there should hap- 
pen to be one or two possessed of extraordinary 
talents for geometry, all the knowledge acquired 
by these nations might be attained in a few cen- 

Since the time of the Chaldeans, real astronomy 
has only had two eras, that of the Alexandrian 
school, which lasted 400 years, and that of our 
own times, which has not existed so long. The 
learned period of the Arabians scarcely added 
any thing to it ; and the other ages have been 
mere blanks with regard to it. Three hundred 
years did not intervene between Copernicus and 
the author of the Mecanique Celeste ; and can 
it be believed that the Indians required thousands 
of years to arrive at their crude theories ? 


The Astronomical Monuments left by the Ancients do 
not bear the excessively remote dates which have 
been attributed to them. 

Recourse has therefore been had to arguments 
of another kind. It has been pretended that, in- 
dependently of the knowledge which these na- 
tions may have acquired, they have left monu- 
ments which bear a date fixed by the state of the 
heavens which they represent, and one that refers 
to a very remote antiquity. The zodiacs sculp- 
tured in two temples of Upper Egypt, are ad- 
duced as furnishing proofs perfectly demonstrative 
of this assertion. They present the same figures 
of the zodiacal constellations as are employed at 
the present day, but distributed in a manner pe- 
culiar to themselves. The state of the heavens 
at the period when these monuments were de- 
lineated, is imagined to have been represented by 
this distribution, and it has been thought that it 
would be possible from it to infer the precise pe- 
riod at which the edifices containing them were 
erected *. 

* Thus at Dendera, the ancient Tentyris, a city below 
Thebes, in the portico of the great temple, the entrance of 
which faces the north, there are seen on the ceiling the 
signs of the zodiac marching in two bands, one of which 


But to arrive at the high antiquity which is 
supposed to be deducible from this, it must, in 

extends along the eastern side, and the other along the op- 
posite one. Each of the bands is embraced by the figure 
of a woman of the same length, the feet of which are to- 
ward the entrance, the head and arms toward the bottom 
of the portico ; the feet are consequently to the north, and 
the heads to the south. (Great Work on Egypt, Antiq. vol. 
ix. pi. 20.) 

The Lion is at the head of the band which is on the wes- 
tern side ; his direction is toward the north, or toward the 
feet of the figure of the woman, and his feet are toward the 
eastern wall. The Virgin, the Balance, the Scorpion, the 
Saggittary and the Capricorn, follow marching in the same 
line. The latter is placed toward the bottom of the por- 
tico, and near the hands and head of the large figure of the 
woman. The signs of the eastern band commence at the 
extremity where those of the other band terminate, and are 
consequently directed toward the bottom of the portico, or 
toward the arms of the large figure. They have the feet to- 
ward the lateral wall of their own side, and the heads in the 
contrary direction to those of the opposite band. The Aqua- 
rius marches first, and is followed by the Fishes, the Ram, 
the Bull, and the Twins. The last of the series, which is 
the Crab, or rather the Scarabeeus, (for this insect is sub- 
stituted for the crab in the zodiacs of Egypt), is thrown 
to a side upon the legs of the large figure. In the place 
which it should have occupied is a globe resting up- 
on the summit of a pyramid, composed of small triangles, 
which represent a sort of rays, and before the base of which 
is a large head of a woman with two small horns. A se- 
cond scarabseus is placed awry and cross- wise upon the 


the first place, be supposed, that their division 
has a determinate relation to a certain state of 

first band, in the angle which the feet of the large figure 
form with the body, and before the space in which the Lion 
marches, which is a little behind. At the other end of this 
same band, the Capricorn is very near the bottom, or at the 
arms of the large figure ; and, upon the left band, the Aqua- 
rius is separated to some distance from it. The Capricorn, 
however, is not repeated like the Crab. The division of this 
zodiac, from the entrance, is therefore made between the 
Lion and the Cancer; or if it be thought that the repetition 
of the Scarabseus marks a division of the sign, it takes place 
in the Crab itself ; but that of the lower end is made be- 
tween the Capricorn and Aquarius. 

In one of the inner halls of the same temple, there was 
a circular planisphere inscribed in a square, the same that 
has been brought to Paris by M. Lelorrain, and which is to 
be seen at the Royal Library. In it, also, the signs of the 
zodiac are observed among many other figures which ap- 
pear to represent constellations. (Great Work on Egypt, 
Antiq. vol. iv. pi. 21.) The Lion corresponds to one of the 
diagonals of the square ; the Virgin, which follows, corres- 
ponds to a perpendicular line which is directed toward the 
east ; the other signs march in the usual order, till we come 
to the Crab, which, in place of completing the chain, by 
corresponding to the level of the Lion, is placed above it, 
nearer the centre of the circle, in such a manner that the 
signs are upon a somewhat spiral line. This Crab, or ra- 
ther Scarabaeus, marches in a contrary direction to the other 
signs. The Twins correspond to the north, the Sagittaryto 
the south, and the Fishes to the east, but not very exactly. 
At the eastern side of this planisphere is a large figure of a 


the heavens, dependent upon the precession of 
the equinoxes, which causes the colures to make 

woman, with the head directed toward the south, and the 
feet toward the north, like that of the portico. Some doubt 
might therefore also be raised regarding the point at which 
the series of the signs ought to commence. According as 
one of the perpendiculars or one of the diagonals is taken, 
or the place where one part of the series passes over the 
other part, the division will be judged to be at the Lion, or 
between the Lion and the Crab ; or lastly at the Twins. 

At Esne, the ancient Latopolis, a city placed above 
Thebes, there are zodiacs on the ceilings of two different 
temples. That of the great temple, the entrance of which 
faces the east, is upon two bands, which are contiguous 
and parallel to one another, along the south side of the 
ceiling. The female figures which embrace them are not 
placed in the direction of their length, but in that of their 
breadth, so that one lies across near the entrance, or to the 
east, the head and arms toward the north, and the feet to- 
ward the lateral wall, or toward the south, and the other is 
in the bottom of the portico, equally across, and looking 
toward the first. The band nearest the axis of the portico, 
or the north, presents first, on the side of the entrance, or 
east, and toward the head of the female figure, the Lion, 
placed a little behind, and marching toward the bottom, the 
feet directed toward the lateral wall. Behind the Lion, at 
the commencement of the band, are two smaller Lions. 
Before it is the Scarabaeus, and then the Twins marching in 
the same direction ; then the Bull and the Ram, and the 
Fishes close to each other, placed across upon the middle of 
the band, the Bull having its head toward the lateral wall, 
the ram toward the axis. The Aquarius is more distant, 


the tour of the zodiac in 26,000 years ; that it 
indicated, for example, the position of the sol- 

and resumes the same direction toward the bottom as the 
first signs. On the band nearest the lateral wall and the 
north, we see first, but at a considerable distance from the 
wall of the bottom, or the west, the Capricorn, which 
marches in a contrary direction to the Aquarius, and is di- 
rected toward the east, or the entrance of the portico, 
having the feet turned toward the lateral wall. Close 
upon it is the Sagittarius, which thus corresponds with the 
Fishes and Ram. It also marches toward the entrance ; but 
its feet are turned toward the axis, and in a contrary di- 
rection to those of the Capricorn. At a certain distance 
before, and placed near one another, are the Scorpion and a 
woman holding the Balance. Lastly, a little before, but 
still at a considerable distance from the anterior or eastern 
extremity, is the Virgin which is preceded by a sphinx. 
The Virgin and the woman holding the Balance, have also 
their feet toward the wall, so that the Sagittary is the only 
one which is placed with its head contrary to the other 

To the north of Esne is a small isolated temple, equally 
facing the east, and having a zodiac also in its portico 
(Great Work on Egypt, Antiquities, vol. i. Plate 87-) This 
zodiac is upon two lateral and separated bands. That 
which extends along the south side commences with the 
Lion, which marches toward the bottom, or toward the 
west, the feet turned toward the wall, or the south. It is 
preceded by the Scarabaeus, and the latter by the Gemini, 
marching in the same direction. The Bull, on the con- 
trary, faces them, having a direction toward the east. But 
the Ram and the Fishes resume the direction toward the 
bottom, or toward the west. On the band of the north 


stitial point ; and, secondly, that the state of the 
heavens represented was precisely that which 
took place at the period when the monument was 

side, the Aquarius is near the bottom, or the west, march, 
ing towards the entrance or east, the feet turned toward 
the wall, preceded by the Capricorn and Sagittary, both 
marching in the same direction. The other signs are lost; 
but it is clear that the Virgin must have marched at the 
head of this band, on the side next the entrance. Among 
the accessory figures of this small zodiac, must be re- 
marked two winged Rams placed across, the one between 
the Bull and the Twins, the other between the Scorpion 
and Sagittary, and each nearly in the middle of its band ; 
the second, however, a little more advanced toward the 

It was at first thought, that, in the great zodiac of Esne, 
the division of the entrance took place between the Virgin 
and the Lion, and that of the bottom between the Fishes 
and the Aquarius. But Mr Hamilton, and MM. de Jollois 
and Villiers, have supposed, that, in the Sphinx, which 
precedes the Virgin, they found a repetition of the Lion, 
analogous to that of the Cancer in the great zodiac of Den- 
dera; so that, according to them, the division would be at 
the Lion. In fact, without this explanation, there would 
only be five signs on one side, while there would be seven 
on the other. 

With regard to the small zodiac of the north of Esne, it 
is not known whether some emblem analogous to this 
Sphinx may have occurred in it, because this part is de- 
stroyed See British Review, February 1817, p- 136; and 
Critical Letter on Zodiacomania, p. 33. 



erected, two suppositions which themselves, as 
is evident, suppose a great number of others. 

In point of fact, are the figures of these zodiacs 
the constellations, the true groups of stars which 
at present bear the same names, or merely what 
astronomers call signs, that is to say, divisions of the 
zodiac proceeding from one of the colures, what- 
ever place this colure occupies ? Is the point at 
which these zodiacs have been divided into two 
bands, necessarily that of a solstice ? Is the 
division of the side next the entrance, neces- 
sarily that of the summer solstice ? Does this 
division indicate, even in general, a phenomenon 
dependent upon the precession of the equinoxes ? 
Does it not refer to some period the rotation of 
which would be less ; for example, to the moment 
of the tropical year when such or such sacred years 
of the Egyptians commenced, which, being shorter 
than the true tropical year by nearly six hours, 
would make the tour of the zodiac in 1508 years ? 
Lastly, whatever signification it may have had, 
has it been intended by it to mark the time when 
the zodiac was sculptured, or that when the tem- 
ple was built ? Has not the object been to record 
a previous state of the heavens at some period 
which was interesting in a religious point of view, 
whether it had been actually observed, or inferred 
from a retrograde calculation ? 

From the mere announcement of such ques- 
tions, it will be perceived how complicated they 


necessarily are, how much subject to controversy 
any solution that might be adopted on this subject 
would be, and how little qualified to serve as a 
solid proof, for the solution of another problem, 
such as the antiquity of the Egyptian nation. 
And it may be said, with regard to those who 
have attempted to infer a date from these data, 
that there have arisen as many opinions as there 
have been authors. 

The learned astronomer Mr Burkhard, from a 
first examination, judged that, at Dendera, the 
solstice is marked by the Lion ; which would make 
it two signs less remote than at the present day, 
and the temple at least 4000 years old *. He 
gave, at the same time an antiquity of 7000 years 
to that of Esne, although it is not known how he 
had purposed to reconcile these numbers with 
what we know of the precession of the equinoxes. 
The late M. Lalande, seeing that the Cancer was 
repeated on the two bands, imagined that the sol- 
stice passed to the middle of that constellation ; 
but as this was the case also in the sphere of Eu- 
doxus, he concluded that some Grecian artist 
might have represented this sphere on the ceiling 
of an Egyptian temple, without knowing that it 
represented a state of the heavens which no lon- 

* Description of the Pyramids of Ghiza, by M. Grobert, 
p 117. 


ger existed *. This, as is seen, was a conclusion 
very different from that of Mr Burkhard. Dnpuis 
was the first who thought it necessary to search 
for proofs of the idea, in some measure confident- 
ly adopted, that it was the solstice that was denot- 
ed. He found them, with reference to the great 
zodiac of Dendera, in the glohe on the top of the 
pyramid, and in several emblems placed near dif- 
ferent signs, and which he imagined, sometimes 
according to the opinion of ancient authors, such 
as Plutarch, Horus Apollo, or Clement of Alex- 
andria, sometimes according to his own conjec- 
tures, ought to be regarded as representing phe- 
nomena which had been really those of the sea- 
sons affected at each sign. As for the rest, he 
maintained that this state of the heavens affords 
the date of the monument, and that it is the ori- 
ginal, and not a copy, of the sphere of Eudoxus, 
that was represented at Dendera, which would 
refer it to a period of 1468 years before Christ, 
or to the reign of Sesostris. The number of nine- 
teen, boats, however, placed under each band, fur- 
nished him with the idea that the solstice might 
probably have been at the nineteenth degree of 
the sign, which would make it 288 years older f . 

-(j (Yl^'-i JO viC'ivaH i :tt a! 

___ :TJ 'i'rG *>. 

* Connaissance des Temps for the year xiv. 
t Observations upon the zodiac of Dendera, in the Revue 
Philosophique et Litteraire, 1806, p. 257, et seq. 



Mr Hamilton * having remarked, that, at Den- 
dera, the Scarabaeus belonging to the side of the 
ascending signs is smaller than that of the other 
side, an English author f has concluded from this 
that the solstice may have heen nearer its actual 
point than the middle of the Cancer, which would 
carry us back to a period of 1000 or 1200 years 
before Christ. 

The late M. Nouet, judging that the globe, 
the rays, and the horned head, or head of Isis, re- 
present the heliacal rising of Sirius, supposed that 
it was intended to mark an epoch of the Sothian 
period, but that it was intended to mark it by the 
place which the solstice occupied. Now, in the 
last but one of, these periods, that which elapsed 
between 2782 and 1322 before Christ, the solstice 
had passed from 30 48' of the constellation of the 
Lion to 13 34' of Cancer. At the middle of this 
period, it was therefore at 23 34 ; of cancer. The 
heliacal rising of Sirius happened then some days 
after the solstice ; and this is nearly what has 
been indicated, according to M. Nouet, by the re- 

* ^Egyptiaca, p. 212. 

t See in the British Review of February 1817, p. 13. et 
seq. the article No. vi. upon the origin and antiquity of the 
zodiac. It is translated at the end of Swartz's Critical Let- 
ter upon the Zodiacomania. 
* ^. ttrtkrtitei 


petition of the Scarabaeus, and by the figure of Si- 
nus with the rays of the sun placed at the com- 
mencement of the band to the right. Calculating 
upon this basis, he concludes that the temple of 
Dendera was built 2052 years before Christ, and 
that of Esne 4600 * 

All these calculations, even admiting that the 
division marks the solstice, would still be suscep- 
tible of many modifications ; and, at first, it ap- 
pears that their authors have supposed the con- 
stellations all of thirty degrees like the signs, and 
have not reflected that it is far from being the 
case that they are thus equal, at least as they are 
represented at the present day, and as the Greeks 
have transmitted them to us. In reality, the sol- 
stice, which is at present on this side of the first 
stars of the constellation of Gemini, could only have 
left the first stars of the constellation of Cancer 
forty-five years before Christ, and had left the 
constellation of Leo only 1260 years before the 
same era. 

My distinguished and learned colleague, M. 
Delambre, has favoured me with the following 
table and remarks, which illustrate what has 
been above said. 

* See M. Nouet's Memoir in Volney's New Inquiries re- 
garding Ancient History, vol. iii. p. 328-336. 

O 2 

TABLE of the Extent of the Zodaical Constellation*, 
as tliey are designed upon our Globes, and of the 
Times required by the Colures to traverse them. 



Longitudes in 1800. 

Year of the 

Year of the 






T tail. 

1 8 23' 40" 
1 1 10 40 
1 4 52 
1 5 18 50 
1 6 14 16 
1 19 8 50 
1 20 51 





20 27 20 








a Coch. 

1 s 19 6' 0" 
1 27 12 
2 6 59 40 
2 19 47 
2 22 
2 24 42 40 




35 36 40 










2 s 28 9' 20" 
3 39 
3 6 18 40 
3 15 44 
3 17 27 30 
3 20 28 9 
3 22 27 10 




24 17 40 







Longitudes in 1800. 

Year of the 

Year of the 

1 u 




] a. 


3 s 24 2V 55" 
3 28 32 
4 1 28 20 
4 4 45 
4 10 18 50 
4 10 50 36 
4 13 23 




19 1 5 






4 s 12 30' 0" 
4 27 3 10 
5 8 30 
5 18 50 55 






36 20 55 








5 s 19 2' 22 /x 
5 24 19 
6 2 2 40 
6 8 41 40 
6 21 3 15 
7 4 9 50 
7 7 17 40 




48 15 18 










Longitudes in 1800. 

fear of the 

Fear of the! 
Solstice. 1 


2 * 



y Scorp. 


7 s 11 0' 44" 
7 12 18 
7 16 35 
7 22 20 34 
7 27 41 
7 28 30 15 





17 29 31 


1259 1 


1 A 




7 s 28 50' 6" 
8 23 48 
8 6 57 38 
8 12 35 30 

8 21 47 27 





22 57 21 








7 s 28 28' 20" 
9 3 32 56 
9 10 50 28 
9 14 15 15 
9 23 2 19 
9 25 39 25 




27 11 50 







Longitudes in 1800. 

Year of the 

Year of the 





; ,'.f t r t 

9 s 29 39 / 15" 
10 1 3 58 
10 1 15 30 
10 14 53 30 
10 18 59 28 
10 23 1 12 




23 21 17 








10 s 8 56' 0" 
10 20 36 30 
11 34 
11 6 7 
11 13 5 12 
11 18 3 28 




39 7 28 






11' 15 49 0" 
11 23 49 
12 11 22 
12 24 26 
12 26 34 58 




40 45 58 




3 11 20 10 




Construction and Use of the Table. 

" The longitudes of the stars,for 1800, have been 
taken from the Berlin Tables, and are those of 
Lacaille, Bradley, or Flam stead. The first and the 
last of each constellation have been taken, as well 
as some of the brightest of the intermediate stars. 
The third column indicates the year in which the 
longitude of the star was 0', that is to say, that 
in which the star was in the equinoxial colure of 
spring. The last column indicates the year when 
the star was in the solstitial colure, whether of 
winter or of summer. 

" For Aries, Taurus, and Gemini, the winter 
solstice has been chosen ; for the other constella- 
tions the summer solstice has been chosen, for 
the sake of not receding into too remote anti- 
quity, and of not approaching too near modern 
times. It will be easy to find the opposite sol- 
stice, by adding the semiperiod of 12,960 years. 
The same rule will serve for finding the time 
when the star has been, or will be, at the autum- 
nal equinox. 

" The sign indicates the years before our era, 
the sign 4- the year of our era ; and the last line, 
at the end of each sign under the title of dura- 
tion) gives the extent of the constellation in de- 
grees, and the time which the equinox, or the 
solstice, occupies in traversing the constellation 
from one end to the other. 



" The precession of 50" yearly has been supposed, 
this being the result of the comparison of the 
catalogue of Hipparchus with the modern cata- 
logues. We have thus the advantage of round 
numbers, and a general accuracy that may be re- 
lied upon. The entire period is thus 25,920 
years; the semiperiod, 12,960 years; the quar- 
ter period, 6480 years ; the twelfth, or a sign, 
2160 years. 

" It is to be remarked, that the constellations 
leave empty spaces between them, and that some- 
times they encroach upon each other. Thus, be- 
tween the last star of Scorpio, and the first of 
Sagittarius, there is an interval of 6 degrees. 
On the other hand, the last of Capricorn is more 
advanced by 14 in longitude, than the first of 
Aquarius. Hence, even independently of the in- 
equality of the sun's motion, the constellations 
would afford a very unequal and very erroneous 
measure of the year and its months. The signs 
of 30 furnish a more convenient and less defec- 
tive one. But the signs are merely a geometri- 
cal conception ; they can neither be distinguished 
nor observed ; and they are continually changing 
place from the retrogradation of the equinoxial 

" We have at all times been able to determine, 
in a rough manner, the equinoxes and solstices ; 


at the long run it has been remarked, that the 
appearance of the heavens was no longer exactly 
the same that it anciently was at the times of the 
equinoxes and solstices. But we have never heen 
able to observe exactly the heliacal rising of a 
star, being always necessarily some days wide of 
it; and people frequently speak of it, without 
possessing a fixed datum on which to count. 
Before Hipparchus, we find nothing, either in 
books or in traditions, that can be submitted to 
calculation ; and it is this which has given rise to 
so many systems. Controversies have arisen with- 
out a sufficient knowledge of the subject. Those 
who are not astronomers may form ideas as beau- 
tiful as they please of the knowledge of the Chal- 
deans, Egyptians, &c. ; no real inconvenience will 
result. The enterprise and knowledge of the mo- 
derns may be lent to these nations, but nothing 
can be borrowed from them ; for they have either 
had nothing, or they have left nothing. Astro- 
nomers will never derive from the ancients any 
thing that can be of the slightest utility. Let us 
leave to the learned their vain conjectures, and 
confess our utter ignorance respecting things of 
little use in themselves, and of which no monu- 
ment remains. 

" The limits of the constellations vary according 
to the authors which we consult. We find these 
limits extend or contract, as we pass from Hip- 


parchus to Tycho, from Tycho to Hevelius, from 
Hevelius to Flamstead, Lacaille, Bradley, or 

" I have said elsewhere, the constellations are 
good for nothing, unless at the most to enable us 
to mark the stars with more ease ; whereas the 
stars in particular afford fixed points to which we 
can refer the motions, whether of the colures or of 
the planets. Astronomy commenced only at the 
period when Hipparchus made the first catalogue 
of the stars, measured the revolution of the sun, 
that of the moon, and their principal inequalities. 
The rest presents nothing but darkness, uncer- 
tainty, and gross error. The time would be lost 
that were occupied in attempting to reduce this 
chaos to order. 

" I have given, with the exception of a few 
particulars, the whole of my opinion on this sub- 
ject. I am nowise anxious about making con- 
verts, for it gives me little concern whether my 
ideas be adopted or not ; but, if my reasons be 
compared with the reveries of Newton, Herschell, 
Bailly, and so many others, it is not impossible 
but that, in time, these more or less brilliant chi- 
meras will no longer be relished. 

" I have attempted to determine the extent of 
the constellations, according to the catasterisms 
of Eratosthenes ; but the thing is really im- 
possible. The matter would be still worse were 


we to consult Hygin, and especially Firmicus. 
The following is what I have made out from 



Aries, 1747 The Talons, 

Taurus, 1826 Scorpio, 

Gemini, 1636 Sagittarius,. 

Cancer, 1204 Capricorn,. 

Leo, ~~ ~~~~~26 1 7 Aquarius, 

Virgo, _~_3307 Pisces, ~ 

" As to the Chaldeans, Egyptians, Chinese, 
and Indians, there is no want of reveries among 
them. One can absolutely make nothing of them. 
My opinion with regard to them may be seen in 
the preliminary discourse of my History of the 
Astronomy of the Middle Age, p. xvii and xviii. 
See also the note affixed to the Report on the Me- 
moirs of M. de Paravey, vol. viii. of the Nouvelles 
Annales des Voyages, and republished by M. de 
Paravey in his Summary of his Memoirs upon the 
Origin of the Sphere, p. 24, 31-36. See further 

* Eratosthenes has made but one constellation of the 
Scorpion and Talons. He indicates the commencement of 
the latter without its termination ; and as he gives 1823 
years to Scorpio, properly so called, there remain 1089 for 
the other, on the supposition that there is not an empty 
space between these two constellations. 


the Analysis of the Mathematical Labours of the 
Academy in 1820, p. 78 and 79. 


It would still have to be ascertained at what 
period the observers ceased to place the constella- 
tion in which the sun entered after the solstice, 
at the head of the descending signs, and whether 
this was done as soon as the solstice had retro- 
graded sufficiently to touch the preceding constel- 

Thus MM. Jollois and Devilliers, to whose 
unremitting zeal we are indebted for an accurate 
knowledge of these famous monuments, always 
considering the division towards the entrance of 
the porch as the solstice, and judging that the 
Virgin must have been regarded as the first of the 
descending constellations, insomuch as the sol- 
stice had not receded at least so far as the middle 
of the constellation of the Lion ; and, believing 
that they saw farther, as we have mentioned, 
that the Lion is divided in the great zodiac of 
Esne, have not given to that zodiac a more re- 
mote antiquity than 2160 years before Christ. * 

Mr Hamilton, who was the first that observed 
this division of the sign of the Lion, in the zodiac 

* See the great work on Egypt. Antiq. Mem. vol. i. 
p. 486. 


of Esne, reduced the distance of the period at 
which the solstice occurred there, to 1400 years be- 
fore Christ. A great many other opinions have 
appeared on the same subject. M. Rhode, for ex- 
ample, has proposed two. The first refers the 
zodiac of the portico of Dendera to a period of 
591 years before Christ ; the second, to 1290 *. 
M. Latreille has fixed the period of this zodiac 
at 670 years before Christ ; that of the plani- 
sphere at. 550; that of the zodiac of the great 
temple of Esne at 2550 ; and that of the small 
one at 1760. 

But a difficulty inherent in all the dates, which 
proceed on the double suppositon, that the di- 
vision marks the solstice, and that the position 
of the solstice marks the epoch of the monument, 
is the unavoidable consequence that the zodiac of 
Esne must have been at least 2000, and perhaps 
3000, years f older than that of Dendera, a con- 
sequence which evidently involves the supposition 
in ruin ; for no one, in any degree acquainted 
with the history of the arts, could believe, that 

* Rhode. Essay upon the Age of the Zodiac, and the 
Origin of the Constellations, in German. Breslau, 1809, 
p. 78- 

t According to the tables of M. Delambre's note above, 
the solstice has remained 3474, or at least 3307 years, in 
the constellation of virgo, the one which occupies the great- 
est space in the zodiac, and 2617 in that of the Lion. 


two edifices, so similar in their style of architec- 
ture, could have been erected at periods so remote 
from each other. 

The feeling of this impossibility, joined al- 
ways to the belief that this division of the zo- 
diacs indicates a date, has given rise to another 
conjecture, namely, that the intention had been 
to mark the particular sacred year of the Egyp- 
tians, in which the monument had been erected. 
As these sacred years consisted only of 365 days, 
if the sun, at the commencement of one occupied 
the commencement of a constellation, he would 
be nearly six hours later in returning to the 
commencement of the following year, and, after 
121 years, he would only be at the commence- 
ment of the preceding sign. It seems natural 
enough that the builders of a temple might wish 
to indicate about what period of the great, or So- 
thian year, it had been erected ; and the indica- 
tions of the sign, by which the sacred year then 
commenced, was a good enough means. It will 
be perceived, that, calculating upon this assump- 
tion, there will be an interval of from 120 to 
150 years between the temple of Esne and that 
of Dendera. But, in his mode of solving the 
problem, there remained to be determined in 
which of the great years these buildings had 
been erected, whether in that which ended in the 


year 138 after, or in that which ended in 1322 
before Christ, or in some other. 

The late Visconti, who was the first author of 
this hypothesis, taking the sacred year, whose 
commencement corresponded with the sign of 
the Lion, and judging from the resemblance of the 
signs, that they had been represented at a period 
when the opinions of the Greeks were not un- 
known to the Egyptians, was naturally led to make 
choice of the end of the last great year, or the space 
that elapsed between the year 12 and the year 
138 after Christ *, which appeared to him to ac- 
cord with the Greek inscription, of which, how- 
ever, he knew little more than that it was said to 
make mention of one of the Caesars. 

M, Testa, seeking the date of the monument 
in another order of ideas, went so far as to sup- 
pose that since the Virgin is seen at Esne, at the 
head of the zodiac, it was meant thereby to repre- 
sent the era of the battle of Actium, such as it 
had been established with regard to Egypt, by a 
decree of the senate, mentioned by Dion Cassius, 
and which commenced in the month of Septem- 
ber, the day on which Alexandria was taken by 

* Translation of Herodotus by Larcher, vol. ii. p. 570. 

t See the Dissertation of the Abbe Dominique Testa, 
Sopra due Zodiaci novellamente scoperte nell' Egitto, 
Rome, 1802, p. 34. 


M. de Paravey considered these zodiacs in a 
new point of view, which embraced at once both 
the revolution of the equinoxes, and that of the 
great year. Supposing that the circular plani- 
sphere of Dendera must have been set to the east, 
and that the axis from north to south is the line of 
the solstices, he found the summer solstice at the 
second of the Twins, and that of winter at the 
buttock of the Sagittary, while the line of the 
equinoxes would have passed through the Fishes 
and the Virgin, from which he obtained for date 
the first century of our era. 

According to this method, the division of the 
zodiac of the portico could no longer refer to the 
colures, and the mark of the solstice must be 
sought for elsewhere. M . de Paravey having 
remarked that there are between all the signs 
figures of women bearing a star upon their heads, 
and marching in the same direction, and obser- 
ving that the one which comes after the twins, is 
alone turned in a direction contrary to the others, 
judged that it indicates the conversion of the 
sun or the tropic, and that this zodiac corres- 
ponds in this way with the planisphere. 

By applying the idea of easting to the small 
zodiac of Esne, the solstices would be found be- 
between the Twins and the Bull, and between 
the Scorpion and Sagittary ; they would even be 
marked by the change of direction of the Bull, 


and by the winged Rams placed across at these two 
places. In the great zodiac of the same city, 
the marks would be the cross position of the 
Bull, and the reversed one of the Sagittary. 
There would thus be but a portion of a constel- 
lation traversed between the dates of Esne and 
those of Dendera, but even this would be still too 
long for buildings so closely resembling each other. 
An operation of the late M. Delambre upon 
the circular planisphere appears to confirm these 
conjectures, detracting from its remote antiqui- 
ty ; for, on placing the stars upon Hipparchus's 
projection, according to the theory of that astro- 
nomer, and according to the positions which he 
has given them in his catalogue ; and augment- 
ing all the longitudes, so that the solstice 
might pass through the second of the Twins, he 
nearly reproduced this planisphere - y and " the re- 
semblance," says he, " would have been still 
greater, had the longitudes been adopted such as 
they are in the catalogue of Ptolemy, for the year 
123 of our era. On the contrary, by referring to 
twenty-five or twenty-six centuries back, the 
right ascensions and the declinations will be con- 
siderably changed, and the projection will assume 
quite a different figure *. All our calculations," 

Delambre. Note at the end of the Report on the 


adds this great astronomer, " lead us to this con- 
clusion, that the sculptures are posterior to the 
epoch of Alexander." 

In reality, the circular planisphere having been 
brought to Paris by the care of MM. Saunier 
and Lelorrain, M. Biot, in a work founded upon 
precise measurements and calculations full of in- 
genuity, has determined that it represents, ac- 
cording to an exact geometrical projection, the 
state of the heavens, such as it was 700 years be- 
fore Christ ; but he by no means concludes that 
it had been sculptured at that period . 

In fact, all these efforts of intellect and science, 
in so far as they concern the epoch of the monu- 
ments, have become superfluous, since finishing 
where they should naturally have begun, if the 
first observers had not been blinded by prejudice, 
people have taken the trouble of copying and re- 
storing the Greek inscriptions engraved upon 
these monuments, and especially since M. Cham- 
pollion has discovered the method of decyphering 
those which are expressed in hieroglyphics. 

Memoir of M. de Paravey. This report is printed in the 
Nouvelles Annales des Voyages, vol. viii. 

* See the work of M. Biot, entitled, Recherches sur 
plusieurs points de 1'Astronomie Egyptienne, appliquees aux 
monumens astronomkjues trouves en Egypte ; Paris, 1823, 


It is now certain, and the Greek inscriptions 
agree with the hieroglyphical inscriptions in prov- 
ing it, it is certain, we say, that the temples 
in which zodiacs have been sculptured, were built 
during the time when Egypt was subject to the 
Romans. The portico of the temple of Dendera, 
according to the Greek inscription of its frontis- 
piece, is consecrated to the safety of Tiberius *. 
On the planisphere of the same temple we read 
the title of Autocrator in hieroglyphical charac* 
ters f ; and it is probable that it refers to Nero. 
The small temple of Esne, that of which the ori- 
gin has been placed on the lowest calculation be- 
tween 2700 and 3000 years before Christ, has a 
column sculptured and painted in the sixth year 
of Antonine, 147 years after Christ, and it is 
painted and sculptured in the same style as the 
zodiac which is near it J. 

Further, we have a proof that this division of 
the zodiac, in such or such sign, has no reference 
to the precession of the equinoxes, or to the dis- 
placement of the solstice. A mummy case, late- 
ly brought from Thebes by M. Caillaud, and con- 

* Letronne. Researches into the history of Egypt du- 
ring the domination of the Greeks and Romans, p. 180. 
t Id. ibid. p. xxxviij. 

| Letronne, Ibid. p. 456, and 457- 


taining, according to the very legible Greek in- 
scription upon it, the body of a young man who 
died in the ninth year of Trajan, 116 years after 
Christ *, presents a zodiac divided at the same 
point as those of Dendera f ; and all the appear- 
ances indicate that this division marks some astro- 
logical theme relative to the individual, a con- 
clusion which may probably be equally applied to 
the division of the zodiacs contained in the tem- 
ples. It may mark either the astrological theme of 
the time of their erection, or that of the prince 
to whose safety they had been consecrated, or 
such another epoch with relation to which the 
position of the sun would have appeared of import- 
ance to be noticed. 

Thus are dissipated for ever the conclusions 
which people had drawn from some ill explained 
monuments, against the newness of the conti- 
nents and nations ; and we might have dispensed 
with treating of them so much in detail had they 
not been so recent, and had they not made suffi- 

* Letronne. Critical and Archaeological Observations 
upon the object of the zodiacal representations which remain 
to us of antiquity, occasioned by an Egyptian zodiac painted 
in a mummy case, which bears a Greek inscription of the 
time of Trajan ; Paris, 1824, 8vo, p. 30. 

t Idem, p. 48, and 49, 



cient impression still to retain their influence over 
the minds of some individuals. 

The Zodiac is far from bearing in itself a certain and 
excessively remote date. 

But there are writers who have maintained 
that the zodiac bears in itself the date of its in- 
vention, because the names and figures given to 
its constellations are an index of the position of 
the colures at the time when it was invented ; 
and this date, according to several, is so evident 
and so remote, that it is quite a matter of indiffe- 
rence whether the representations which we pos- 
sess of this circle are morp. or less ancient. 

They do not attend to the circumstance that, 
in this sort of argument, there is a complication 
of three suppositions equally uncertain : the coun- 
try in which the zodiac is presumed to have been 
invented, the signification which is supposed to 
have been given to the constellations which occu- 
py it, and the position in which the colures were 
with relation to each constellation, when this sig- 
nification was attributed to it. According as 
other allegories have been imagined, or as these 
allegories are admitted to have referred to the 
constellation of which the sun occupied the first 
degrees, or to that of which it occupied the mid- 
dle, or to that into which it began to enter, that 
is to say, of which it occupied the last degrees ; 


or, lastly, to that which was opposite to him, and 
which rose at night ; or according as the inven- 
tion of these allegories is placed in a different cli- 
mate, must the date of the zodiac also be chang- 
ed. The possible variations in this respect might 
comprehend so much as the half of the revolution 
of the fixed stars, that is to say, 13,000 years, and 
even more. 

In this manner Pluche, generalizing some 
indications of the ancients, has imagined, that 
the Ram announces the commencement of the 
sun's elevation, and the vernal equinox ; that 
the Cancer indicates his retrogradation to the 
summer solstice ; that the Balance, the sign of 
equality, marks the autumnal equinox * ; and 
that the Capricorn, a climbing animal, indicates 
the winter solstice, after which the sun returns 
to us. According to this method, by placing the 
inventors of the zodiac in a temperate climate, 
we should have rains under Aquarius, the drop- 
ping of lambs and kids under the Gemini, violent 
heats under the Lion, gathering of the harvest un- 
der the Virgin, the time of hunting under the Sa- 
gittary, &c. ; and the emblems would be appro- 

* Varro, de Ling. Lat. lib. vi. Signa, quod aliquid sig- 
nificent, ut libra aequinoctium ; Macrob. Sat. lib. i. cap. xxi. 
Capricornus ab infernis partibus ad superas solem reducens 
Caprse naturam videtur imitari. 


priate enough. If we should then place the co- 
lures at the commencement of the constellations, 
or at least the equinox at the first stars of Aries, 
we should, in the first instance, arrive at a period 
of only 389 years before Christ, an epoch evi- 
dently too modern, and which would render it 
necessary to recur to a complete equinoxial pe- 
riod, or 26,000 years. But if the equinox be 
supposed to pass through the middle of the con- 
stellation, a period of about 1000 or 1200 years 
higher is obtained, 1600 or 1700 years before 
Christ ; and this is what several celebrated men 
have believed to be the true epoch of the inven- 
tion of the zodiac, the honour of which they have, 
for other reasons not sufficiently weighty, confer- 
red upon Chiron. 

But Dupuis, who required for the origin which 
he endeavoured to attribute to all religions, that 
astronomy, and, in particular, the figures of the 
zodiac should in some measure have preceded all 
other human institutions, has sought another cli- 
mate for the purpose of finding other explanations 
for the emblems, and for that of deducing ano- 
ther epoch from them. If, assuming the Ba- 
lance as an equinoxial sign, but supposing it at 
the vernal equinox, it be presumed that the zodiac 
has been invented in Egypt, other sufficiently 
plausible explanations might in fact be found for 


the climate of that country. * The Capricorn, an 
animal with the tail of a fish, would mark the 
commencement of the rise of the Nile at the sum- 
mer solstice; the Aquarius and Fishes, the progress 
and diminution of the inundation ; the Bull, the 
time of labouring ; the Virgin, the time of reap- 
ing ; and they would mark them at the periods 
when these operations actually took place. In 
this system, the zodiac would have 15,000 years f 
for a sun supposed at the first degree of each 
sign, more than 16,000 for the middle, and 4000 
only, on supposing that the emblem has been 
given to the sign at the opposite of which the 
sun was ^. It is to the 15,000 years that Du- 
puis has attached himself; and it is upon this 
date that he has founded the whole system of his 
celebrated work. 

There are not wanting those, however, who, 
admitting that the zodiac has been invented in 
Egypt, have imagined allegories applicable to la- 
ter times. Thus, according to Mr Hamilton, 
the Virgin would represent the land of Egypt 
when not yet fecundated by the inundation ; the 

* See the Memoir on the Origin of the Constellations, in 
Dupuis's Origine des Cultes, vol. iii. p. 324. et seq. 
t Id. ibid. p. 267. 

J Dupuis himself suggests this second hypothesis. Ibid, 
p. 340. 


Lion, the season when that country is most liable 
to be overrun by ferocious animals, and so on *. 

The high antiquity of 15,000 years would be- 
sides induce this absurd consequence, that [the 
Egyptians, those men who represented every 
thing by emblems, and who must have attached 
a great importance to the circumstance that these 
emblems were conformable to the ideas which 
they were intended to represent, had preserved the 
signs of the zodiac thousands of years after they 
no longer in any way corresponded with their ori- 
ginal signification. 

The late M. Renii Raige endeavoured to support 
the opinion of Dupuis by an argument of an en- 
tirely new kindf. Having remarked that signi- 
fications more or less analogous to the figures of 
the signs of the zodiac, might be found for the 
Egyptian names of the months, on explaining 
them by the oriental languages, and finding in 
Ptolemy that epifi, which signifies Capricorn, 
commences at the 20th of June, and therefore 
comes immediately after the summer solstice, he 

* jEgyptiaca, p. 215. 

t See in the Great Work on Egypt, Antiq. Mem. vol. i., 
the memoir of M. Remi Raige upon the nominal and ori- 
ginal zodiac of the ancient Egyptians. See also the table 
of the Greek, Roman, and Alexandrian months, in M. Hal- 
ma's Ptolemy, vol. iii, 


concluded from thence, that, at the beginning, Ca- 
pricorn itself was at the summer solstice, and so 
of the other signs, as Dupuis had supposed. 

But, independently of all that there is merely 
conjectural in these etymologies, Raige did not 
perceive that it was simply by chance that, five 
years after the battle of Actium, in the year 25 
before Christ, at the establishment of the fixed 
year of Alexandria, the first day of Thoth was 
found to correspond with the 29th of the Julian 
August, and continued to correspond since that 
time. It is only from this epoch that the Egyp- 
tian months commenced at fixed days of the Ju- 
lian yean and only at Alexandria : even Pto- 
lemy did not the less continue to employ in his 
Almagest the ancient Egyptian year with its 
vague months *. 

Why might not the names of the signs have 
been given to the months at some epoch, or the 
names of the months to the signs, in the same ar- 
bitrary manner in which the Indians have given 
to their twenty-seven months twelve names, se- 

* See the Historical Researches regarding the Astrono- 
mical Observations of the ancients, by M. Ideler, a trans- 
lation of which has been inserted by M. Halraa in the third 
volume of his Ptolemy : and especially M. Freret's memoir 
on the opinion of Lanauze, relative to the establishment of 
the Alexandrian year, in the memoirs of the Academy of 
Belles Lettres, vol. xvi. p. 308, 


lected from among those of their lunar houses, for 
reasons which it is impossible at the present day 
to determine*? The absurdity which there 
would have been in preserving for the constella- 
tions, during 15,000 years, figures and symboli- 
cal names which no longer presented any relation 
with their position, would have been more evi- 
dent had it been carried so far as to preserve to the 
months those same names which were incessantly 
in the mouths of the people, and whose inapti- 
tude would be every moment perceived. 

And what, besides, would all these systems 
come to, had the figures and the names of the 
zodiacal constellations been given to them with- 
out any relation to the course of the sun ; as 
their inequality, the extension of several of them 
beyond the zodiac, and their manifest connection 
with the neighbouring constellations, seem to de- 
monstrate was the case f . 

What would still happen, if, as Macrobius ex- 
pressly says J, each sign must have been an em- 

* See the Memoir of Sir William Jones on the Antiqui- 
ty of the Indian Zodiac. Calcutta Memoirs, vol. ii. 

t See the Zodiac explained, or Researches regarding the 
Origin and Signification of the Constellations of the Greek 
Sphere, translated from the Swedish of M. Swartz ; Paris, 

J Saturnalia, lib. i. cap. xxi. sub. fin. Nee solus Leo, 


blem of the sun, considered in some one of its ef- 
fects or of its general phenomena, and without 
reference to the months when it passes, whether 
into the sign, or to its opposite ? 

Lastly, What if the names had heen given in 
an abstract manner to the divisions of space or 
time, as they are now given by astronomers to 
what they call the signs, and had not been appli- 
ed to the constellations or groups of stars, but at 
a period determined by chance, so that nothing 
could be concluded from their signification* ? 

In these suggestions there is, without doubt, 
enough to give an ingenuous mind a distaste for 
seeking to find in astronomy proofs of the anti- 
quity of the nations. But were these alleged 
proofs as certain as they are vague and destitute 
of any satisfactory result, what could be concluded 
from them against the great catastrophe, which 
has left monuments amply demonstrative in other 

sed signa quoque universa zodiaci ad naturam solisjure refe- 
runtur, 8?c. It is only in the explanation of the Lion and 
Capricorn, that he has recourse to some phenomenon relative 
to the seasons ; the Cancer itself is explained in a general 
point of view, and with reference to the obliquity of the 
sun's march. 

* See the Memoir of M. Guignes on the Zodiacs of the 
Eastern Nations, in the Memoirs of the Academy of Belles 
Lettres, vol. xlvii. 


respects of its existence ? All that can be admit- 
ted in this matter is, what some moderns have 
thought, that astronomy was among the number 
of the sciences preserved by those whom this catas- 
trophe dispersed, 

Exaggerations relative to the Antiquity of certain 
Mining 1 Operations. 

The antiquity of certain mining operations has 
also been much exaggerated. A very late writer 
has imagined, that the mines of the island of 
Elba, judging from the rubbish carried out of 
them, must have been wrought for more than 
40,000 years ; but another author, who has also 
examined this rubbish with attention, has redu- 
ced the period in question to -a little more than 
5000 years, * and this even on the supposition 
that the ancients did not extract annually more 
than a fourth part of the quantity of ore now 
wrought. But what reason could there be to 
suppose that the Romans, for example, who con- 
sumed so much iron in their armies, derived so 
little advantage from these mines ? Moreover, if 
these mines had been wrought for even 4000 years 

* See M. de Fortia d'Urban's History of China before the 
Deluge of Ogyges, p. 33. 


only, how should iron have been so little known 
in the times of remote antiquity ? 

General Conclusion relative to the Period of the last 

I agree, therefore, with MM. Deluc and Do- 
lomieu, in thinking, that if any thing in geology 
be established, it is, that the surface of our globe 
has undergone a great and sudden revolution, 
the date of which cannot be referred to a much 
earlier period than five or six thousand years ago ; 
that this revolution overwhelmed and caused to 
disappear the countries which were previously in- 
habited by man, and the species of animals now 
best known ; that, on the other hand, it laid dry 
the bottom of the last sea, and formed of it the 
countries which are at the present day inhabited ; 
that it is since the occurrence of this revolution 
that the small number of individuals dispersed by 
it have spread and propagated over the newly ex- 
posed lands, and, consequently, that it is since 
this epoch only, that human societies have assu- 
med a progressive march, that they have formed 
establishments, raised monuments, collected natu- 
ral facts, and invented scientific systems. 

But the countries which are at present inhabi- 
ted, and which the last revolution laid dry, had 
already been previously inhabited, if not by men, 


at least by land animals, and, therefore, one pre- 
ceding revolution at least had put them under 
water ; and if we may judge by the different or- 
ders of animals the remains of which are observed 
in them, they had perhaps been subjected to two 
or three irruptions of the sea. 

Further Researches to be made in Geology. 

These alternations now appear to me to form 
the problem in geology that it is of most import- 
ance to solve, or rather to define and circumscribe 
within due limits ; for, in order to resolve it satis- 
factorily, it would be necessary to discover the 
cause of these events, an undertaking which 
presents a difficulty of quite a different kind. 

I repeat it, we see pretty clearly what is going 
on at the surface of the continents in their pre- 
sent state ; we have formed a tolerable conception 
of the uniform progress and regular succession of 
the primitive formations, but the study of the se- 
condary formations has been little more than 
merely commenced. That wonderful series of un- 
known zoophytes and marine mollusca, succeeded 
by reptiles and fresh-water fishes equally un- 
known ; and these again replaced, in their turn, 
by other zoophytes and mollusca, more nearly re- 
lated to those of the present day ; those land ani- 
mals, and those equally unknown fresh water inoj- 
lusca and other animals which next occupied 


the surface, to be again displaced but by mol- 
lusca and other animals similar to those of our 
present seas ; the relations of these diversified be- 
ings to the plants the remains of which accompany 
theirs, the connection of these two kingdoms with 
the mineral strata in which they are deposited ; 
the greater or less uniformity existing between 
these different orders of beings in the different 
basins ; these are phenomena which appear to 
me imperiously to demand the attention of philo- 

Rendered interesting by the variety of the pro- 
ducts of the partial or general revolutions of this 
epoch, and by the abundance of the various species 
that figure alternately on the stage, this study is 
divested of the dryness of that of the primordial 
formations, and does not, like it, almost necessa- 
rily launch into hypotheses. The facts are so 
direct, so curious, and so evident, that they are 
sufficient, so to speak, to satisfy the most ardent 
imagination ; and the conclusions to which they 
lead from time to time, however scrupulous the 
observer may be, having nothing vague in them, 
are equally free of any thing arbitrary. In fine, 
it is in those events that approach nearer to our 
own times, that we may hope to find some traces 
of more ancient events, and of their causes; if, 
indeed, after so many fruitless attempts as have 
been already made, one may be permitted to flat- 
ter himself with such a hope. 



These ideas have haunted, I may almost say 
have tormented me, during my researches among 
fossil bones, the results of which 1 have lately pre- 
sented to the public; researches which embrace 
but a very small part of those phenomena of the 
age preceding the last general revolution of the 
globe, and which are yet intimately connected 
with all the others. It was almost impossible that 
the desire should not arise of investigating the 
general mass of these phenomena, at least as they 
occur in a limited space around us. My excellent 
friend, M. Brongniart, in whose mind other stu- 
dies excited the same desire, had the complais- 
ance to associate me with himself in the task ; 
and it is thus that we have laid the first founda- 
tions of our labours upon the environs of Paris. 
But this work, while it still bears my name, has 
become almost entirely that of my friend, from 
the infinite attention which he has bestowed, since 
the first conception of our plan, and since our 
journeys, upon the profound investigation of the 
objects, and the perfecting and arranging of the 
whole. I have placed it, with M. Brongniart's 
consent, in the second part of my " Recherches," 
in that in which I treat of the fossil bones of our 
neighbourhood. Although apparently relating 
only to a rather limited extent of country, it af- 
fords numerous results, which are applicable to 
geology in general, and, in this point of view, it 


may be considered as intimately connected with 
the present discourse ; at the same time, that it 
is, without a doubt, one of the best ornaments of 
my work *. 

In it there is presented the history of the most 
recent changes that have taken place in a particu- 
lar basin, and it descends so far as the Chalk forma- 
tion, the extent of which over the globe is vastly 
more considerable than that of the materials of 
the basin of Paris. The chalk, which has been 
considered so modern, is thus found to be ad- 
vanced in antiquity among the ages of the great 
period preceding the last catastrophe. It forms 
a sort of limit between the most recent formations, 
those to which the name of Tertiary may be re- 
served, and the formations which are named Se- 
condary, which have been deposited before the 
Chalk, but after the Primitive and Transition 

Recapitulation of the Observations upon the Succession 
of the Tertiary Formations. 

The most superficial strata, those deposits of 
mud and clayey sand, mixed with rolled pebbles, 

* Copies have been printed separately, under the title of 
Description Geologique des Environs de Paris, par MM. G. 
Cuvier et Al. Brongniart. Second edition. Paris, 1822, 4to. 


that have been transported from distant countries, 
and filled with bones of land animals, the species 
of which are for the most part unknown, or at 
least foreign to the country in which they are 
found, seem especially to have covered all the 
plains, filled the bottom of all the caverns, and 
choked up all the fissures of rocks that have corne 
in their way. Described with particular care by 
Mr Buckland, under the name of diluvium, and 
very different from those other beds equally 
consisting of transported matters, continually de- 
posited by torrents and rivers, which contain only 
bones of animals that still live in the country, 
and distinguished by the name of alluvium, the 
former are now considered by all geologists as ex- 
hibiting the most obvious proof of the immense 
inundation which has been the last of the cata- 
strophes of our globe *. 

Between this diluvium and the chalk, are the 
formations alternately filled with fresh water and 
salt water productions, which mark the irruptions 
and retreatings of the sea, to which this part of 
the globe has been subjected, since the deposition 
of the chalk-strata : first, marls and buhrstones, 

* See Professor Buckland's work, entitled Reliquiae 
Diluviance. Lond. 1823, 4to, p. 185 et seq. ; and the article 
Eau, by M. Brongniart, in the l4th volume of the Diction- 
des Sciences Naturelles. 


or cavernous quartz, filled with fresh-water shells, 
similar to those of our marshes and pools ; under 
them marls, sandstones, and limestones, all the 
shells of which are marine, such as oysters, &c. 

At a greater depth are found fresh water for- 
mations of an older date, and particularly those 
famous gypsum deposits of the neighbourhood of 
Paris, which have afforded so much facility in or- 
namenting the buildings of that great city, and 
in which we have discovered whole genera of land- 
animals, of which no traces had been elsewhere 

They rest upon those not less remarkable beds 
of limestone, of which our capital is built, in the 
more or less compact texture of which the patience 
and sagacity of our naturalists, and of several ar- 
dent collectors, have already detected more than 
800 species of shells, all of them marine, but the 
greater part unknown in the presently-existing 
sea. They also contain only bones of fishes, and 
of cetacea and other marine mammifera. 

Under this marine limestone there is another 
fresh water deposit, formed of clay, in which there 
are interposed large beds of lignite (brown coal), 
or that sort of fossil-coal which is of more recent 
origin than the common or black coal. Among 
shells, which are always of fresh water origin, there 
are also found bones in the deposit ; but, what is 
remarkable, bones of reptiles, and not of mammi- 


fera. It is filled with crocodiles and tortoises, but 
the genera of extinct mammifera which the 
gypsum contains, are not found in it : they evi- 
dently did not exist in the country when these 
clays and lignites were formed. 

This fresh water formation, the oldest which 
has been distinguished in our neighbourhood, and 
which supports all the formations which we have 
just enumerated, is itself supported and embraced 
on all sides by the chalk, an immense formation, 
both as to thickness and extent, which shews it- 
self in very distant countries, such as Pomerania 
and Poland ; but which, in our vicinity, reigns 
with a sort of continuity in Bern, Champagne, 
Picardy, Upper Normandy, and a part of Eng- 
land, and thus forms a great circle, or rather 
a great basin, in which the deposits of which we 
have been speaking are contained, but of which 
they also cover the edges in the places where they 
were less elevated. 

In fact, it is not in our basin only that these 
various formations have been deposited. In the 
other countries where the surface of the chalk 
presented similar cavities for them ; in those even 
where there was no chalk, and where the older 
formations alone presented themselves as supports, 
circumstances often led to the formation of depo- 
sits more or less similar to ours, and containing 
the same organic bodies. 


Our formations containing fresh-water shells, 
have been seen in England, in Spain, and even 
so far as the confines of Poland. 

The marine shells interposed between them, 
have been found along the whole course of the 

Some of the quadrupeds of our gypsum depo- 
sits, our palseotheria, for example, have also left 
their bones in certain gypseous formations of the 
Velai, and in the molasse quarries of the south of 

Thus the partial revolutions which have taken 
place in our neighbourhood, between the period 
of the chalk and that of the great inundation, 
and during which the sea threw itself upon our 
districts or retired from them, had also taken 
place in a multitude of other countries. It seems 
as if the globe had undergone a long series of 
changes by which variations were produced, proba- 
bly in close succession, as the deposits which they 
have left nowhere shew much thickness or soli- 
dity. The chalk has been produced by a more 
tranquil and more continuous sea ; it contains only 
marine productions, among which there are, how- 
ever, some very remarkable vertebrate animals, 
but all of the class of reptiles and fishes ; large 
tortoises, vast lizards, and other similar animals. 

The formations anterior to the chalk, and in 
the hollows of which the chalk is itself deposited, - 


as the formations of our neighbourhood are in its 
hollows, form a great part of Germany and Eng- 
land ; and the efforts which the naturalists of these 
two countries have recently made according with 
ours, and proceeding upon the same principles, com- 
bined with those which had been previously tried 
by the school of Werner, will soon leave nothing 
to be desired with respect to our knowledge of 
them. Messrs de Humboldt and de Bonnard in 
France and Germany, and Messrs Buckland and 
Conybeare in England, have furnished the most 
complete and most instructive accounts of them. 

The subjoined table, in which not only the se- 
condary formations have been arranged, but the 
whole series of strata, from the oldest known to 
the most modern and most superficial, has been 
politely furnished me by M. de Humboldt, to 
adorn my work. It may be considered as an epi- 
tome of the labours of geologists up to the present 
period *. 

\ " ; T \ ]' 

* A full view of the arrangement of rocks is given in 
note O. 



TABLE of Geological Formations in the order of their 
superposition. By M. Al. de Humboldt. 

Alluvial Deposits. 

Lacustrine Formation with Buhrstones. 

Fountainbleau sandstone and sand. 

Gypsum with bones. Siliceous Limestone. 

Coarse Limestone. 
(London Clay.) 

Tertiary sandstone with lignites. 

(Plastic clay, Molasse, Nagelfluhe.) 






Green sand. 
Weald clay. 
Iron Sand. 

(Secondary Sandstone with lignites.) 


Jura Limestone. 

Quadersandstein, or white sandstone, 
sometimes above the lias. 

Slaty beds with fishes and 

Coral rag. 
Dive clay. 
Oolites and Caen 

Ammonites nodosus. 

Marly or calcareous lias 
with Gryphaa arcuata. 

Marls with fibrous gypsum. 
Arenaceous beds. 

Saliferous variegated sandstone. 

Productus aculeatus. 

Magnesian limestone. 

Copper slate. 

(Alpine limestone.) 


Co-ordinate formations of porphyry, red 
sandstone, and coal. 

Transition Formations. 

Slates with Lydian-stone, greywacke, diorites, euphotides. 
Limestones with orthoceratis, trilobites and euomphalites. 

Primitive Formations. 
Clayslates (Thonschiefer), 


Under the chalk are found deposits of green 
sand, of which its lower strata contains some orga- 
nic remains. Beneath this are ferruginous sands. 
In many countries both of these deposits are agglu- 
tinated into heds of sandstone, in which lignites, 
amber, and remains of reptiles, are also observed. 

Under this, we find the great mass of strata 
which compose the Jura chain, and that of the 
mountains by which it is continued into Suabia 
and Franconia, the principal ridges of the Apen- 
nines, and multitudes of beds in France and 
England. It consists of limestone-schists, rich 
in fishes and Crustacea ; vast beds of oolites, or 
of a granular limestone ; grey marly limestones, 
with pyrites, characterised by the presence of am- 
monites, of oysters with recurvate valves, named 
Gryphaeae, and of reptiles, which are remarkable 
on account of their forms and structures. 

Large beds of sand and sandstone, often pre- 
senting vegetable impressions, support all these 
Jura deposits, and are themselves supported by a 
limestone, the innumerable shells and zoophytes 
contained in which induced Werner to give it 
the much too general name of Shell-limestone, 
and which is separated by other beds of sandstone, 
of the kind denominated variegated sandstone, 
from a still older limestone, which has been not 
less improperly called Alpine limestone, because 
it composes the High Alps of the Tyrol ; but 


which also shews itself at the surface in the east- 
ern provinces of France, and in the whole south- 
ern part of Germany. 

In this shell -limestone are deposited great 
masses of gypsum and rich beds of salt ; and un- 
der it are found the thin beds of copper- slates so 
rich in fishes, among which there are also fresh- 
water reptiles. The copper-slate rests upon a 
red sandstone, to the epoch of which belong those 
famous deposits of coal, which supply the present 
inhabitants of the civilized countries of Europe 
with fuel, and are the remains of the first vege- 
table productions with which the face of the globe 
was adorned. We learn from the trunks of 
ferns, whose impressions they have preserved, 
how different these ancient forests have been 
from ours. 

We then quickly come to those transition for- 
mations, in which primeval nature, nature dead 
and purely mineral, seems to have disputed the 
empire with organising nature. Black limestones, 
and schists which present only Crustacea and shells 
of kinds now extinct, alternate with remains of 
primitive formations, and announce our having 
arrived at those formations, the oldest with which 
we are acquainted, those ancient foundations of 
the present envelop of the globe, the marbles and 
primitive slates, the gneisses, and, lastly, the gra- 


Such is the precise enumeration of the succes- 
sive masses with which nature has enveloped the 
globe. The positive geological information pre- 
sented by it, has been obtained, by combining the 
knowledge furnished by mineralogy with that 
presented by the sciences connected with organic 
existence. This order, so new and so interesting 
in facts, has only been acquired by geology, since 
it preferred positive knowledge, furnished by ob- 
servation, to fanciful systems, contradictory conjec- 
tures regarding the first origin of the globe, and all 
those phenomena, which, having no resemblance 
to what actually takes place in nature, could nei- 
ther find in it, for their explanation, materials 
nor touchstone. A few years ago, the greater 
number of geologists might have been compared 
to historians, who, in writing the history of France, 
should have interested themselves only about the 
events which had taken place among the Gauls be- 
fore the time of Julius Cesar. In composing their 
romances, however, these historians would have 
taken advantage of their knowledge of posterior 
facts ; and the geologists of whom I speak, abso- 
lutely neglected the posterior facts, which could 
alone have reflected some light upon the darkness 
of preceding times. 


Enumeration of the Fossil Animals recognised by the 

In concluding this discourse, there only remains 
for me now to present the result of my own re- 
searches, or, in other words, a general account of 
my great work. I shall enumerate the animals 
which I have discovered, in the inverse order of 
that which I have followed in my enumeration of 
the formations. By proceeding deeper and deeper 
into the series of strata, I there rose in the series 
of epochs. I shall now take the oldest formations, 
make known the animals which they contain, 
and, passing from one epoch to another, point out 
those which successively make their appearance 
in proportion as we approach the present time. 

We have seen that zoophytes, mollusca, and 
certain Crustacea, hegin to appear in the Transition 
formations ; perhaps there may even at that pe- 
riod be bones and skeletons of fishes ; but we do 
not by any means observe at so early a period re- 
mains of animals which live on land, and respire 
air in its ordinary state. 

The great beds of coal, and the trunks of palms 
and ferns of which they preserve the impressions, 
although they afford evidence of the existence of 
dry land, and of a vegetation no longer confined 


to the waters, do not yet shew bones of quadru- 
peds, not even of oviparous quadrupeds. 

It is only a little above this, in the bituminous 
copper-slates, that we see the first traces of them ; 
and, what is very remarkable, the first quadrupeds 
are reptiles of the family of lizards, very much 
resembling the large monitors which live at the 
present day in the torrid zone. Several indivi- 
duals of this kind have been found in the mines 
of Thuringia*, among innumerable fishes of a 
genus now unknown, but which, from its relations 
to the genera of our days, appears to have lived in 
fresh water. Every body knows that the monitors 
are also fresh water animals. 

A little higher is the limestone called Alpine, 
and resting upon it the shell-limestone, so rich in 
entrochites and encrinites, which forms the basis 
of a great part of Germany and Lorraine. 

In it have been found skeletons of a very large 
sea-tortoise, the shells of which might have been 
from six to eight feet in length ; and those of an- 
other oviparous quadruped of the family of lizards, 
of a large size, and with a very sharp muzzle f. 

Rising still through sandstones, which present 

* See my " Recherches sur les Ossemens Fossiles," t. v. 
part ii. p. 300. 

t Id. vol. v. part ii. p. 355 and 525. 


only vegetable impressions of large arundinaceaa, 
bamboos, palms, and other monocotyledonous 
plants, we come to the different strata of the de- 
posit which has been named the Jura limestone, 
on account of its forming the principal nucleus of 
that chain of mountains. 

It is here that the class of Reptiles assumes its 
full development, and shews itself under the most 
varied forms and gigantic sizes. 

The middle part, which is composed of oolites 
and lias, or of grey sandstone containing gryphites, 
contains the remains of two genera, the most ex- 
traordinary of all, which have combined the cha- 
racters of the class of oviparous quadrupeds with 
organs of motion similar to those of the cetacea. 

The ichthyosaurus *, discovered by Sir Everard 
Home, has the head of a lizard, but prolonged 
into an attenuated muzzle, armed with conical 
and pointed teeth ; enormous eyes, the sclerotica 
of which is strengthened by a frame consisting of 
bony pieces ; a spine composed of flat vertebrae, of 
a depressed circular form, and concave on both 
surfaces like those of fishes ; slender ribs ; a ster- 
num and clavicles like those of lizards and orni- 
thorynchi; a small and weak pelvis; and four 
limbs, of which the humeri and femurs are short 

See my " Recherches," vol. v. part ii. p. 447. 


and thick, while the other bones are flattened, 
and closely set like the stones in a pavement, so 
as to form, when enveloped with the skin, fins of 
a single piece, almost incapable of bending ; ana- 
logous, in short, both as to use and organization, 
to those of cetacea. These reptiles have lived in 
the sea ; on shore, they could only at most have 
crept in the hobbling manner of seals ; at the same 
time after they have respired elastic air. 

The remains of four species have been found : 

The most extensively distributed (/. commu- 
nis) has blunt conical teeth ; its length sometimes 
exceeds twenty feet. 

The second (/". platyodori), which is at least as 
large as the former, has compressed teeth, with 
round and bulging roots. 

The third (7. tenuirostris], has slender and 
pointed teeth, and the muzzle thin and elon- 

The fourth (/. inter medius], is, as its name 
implies, intermediate between the last species and 
the common, with respect to the form of its teeth. 
The two latter species do not attain half the size 
of the two first. 

The plesiosaurus, discovered by Mr Cony- 
beare, must have appeared still more monstrous 
than the ichthyosaurus. It had the same limbs, 
but somewhat more elongated and more flexible ; 
its shoulder and pelvis were more robust ; its 


vertebrae had more of the forms and articulations 
of the lizards ; but what distinguished it from all 
oviparous and viviparous quadrupeds, was a slen- 
der neck as long as its body, composed of thirty 
and odd vertebras, a number greater than that 
of the neck of any other animal,, rising from the 
trunk like the body of a serpent, and termina- 
ting in a very small head, in which all the essen- 
tial characters of that of the lizard family are ob- 

If any thing could justify those hydras and 
other monsters, the figures of which are so often 
presented in the monuments of the middle ages, 
it would incontestibly be this plesiosaurus. * 

Five species are already known, of which the 
most generally distributed (P. dolichodeirus) at- 
tains a length of more than twenty feet. 

A second species (P. recentior), found in more 
modern strata, has the vertebras flatter. 

A third (P. carinatus) shews a ridge on the 
under surface of its vertebrae. 

A fourth, and lastly a fifth (P. pentagonus 
and P. trigonus], have the ribs marked with five 
and three ridges, f 

These two genera are found everywhere in the 

* Researches, &c. vol. v. part if. p. 475, et seq* 
t Researches, vol. v, part ii. p. 485 and 486. 



lias : they were discovered in England, where 
this rock is exposed in cliffs of great extent ; but 
they have also been found since in France and 

Along with these had lived two species of Cro- 
codiles, the bones of which are also found depo- 
sited in the lias, among ammonites, terebratulae, 
and other shells of that ancient sea. We have 
skeletons of them in our cliffs at Honfleur, where 
the remains are found, from which I have drawn 
up their characters, f 

One of these species, the Long-beaked Gavial, 
has the muzzle longer, and the head more narrow, 
than the gavial or long-beaked crocodile of the 
Ganges ; the bodies of its vertebrae are convex 
before, while in our crocodiles of the present day 
they are so behind. It has been found in the 
lias deposits of Franconia, as well as in those of 

A second species, the Short-beaked Gavial, 
has the muzzle of ordinary length, less attenuated 
than the gavial of the Ganges, but more so than 
our crocodiles of St Domingo. Its vertebrae are 
slightly concave at each of their extremities. 

But these crocodiles are not the only ones 
which have been deposited in the strata of these 
secondary limestones. 

* Researches, vol. v. part ii. p. 143. 


The beautiful oolite quarries of Caen have 
presented a very remarkable one, the muzzle of 
which is as long and more pointed than that of 
the long-beaked gavial, and its head more dilated 
behind, with wider temporal fossae. Its stony 
scales, marked with small round cavities, must 
have rendered it the best defended of all the croco- 
diles.* Its lower teeth are alternately longer and 

There is still another in the oolite of England ; 
but there have only been found some portions of 
its cranium, which do not suffice to afford a com- 
plete idea of it. t 

Another very remarkable genus of reptiles, the 
remains of which, although they are also found 
beyond the limits of the lias concretion, are espe- 
cially abundant in the oolite and upper sands, is 
the megaiosaurus, justly so named, for, along 
with the forms of the lizards, and particularly of 
the monitors, of which it has also the sharp- 
edged and dentated teeth, it presents so enormous 
a size, that if we suppose it to have possessed the 
proportions of the monitors, it must have exceeded 
seventy feet in length. It was, in fact, a lizard 

* Researches, vol. v. part ii. p. 127- 
t We expect a fuller knowledge of it from M. Cony- 
bear e's researches, 

R 2 


of the size of a whale. * It was discovered by 
Mr Buckland in England ; but we have it also 
in France ; and in Germany there are found bones, 
if not of the same species, at least of a species 
which can be referred to no other genus. It is 
to M. Soemmering that we owe the first descrip- 
tion of this last. He discovered the bones in strata 
lying above the oolite, in those limestone-schists of 
Franconia, long celebrated for the numerous fos- 
sil remains which they furnished to the cabinets 
of the curious, and which will be still more cele- 
brated for the services which their employment in 
lithography render to the arts and sciences. 

The crocodiles continue to make their appear- 
ance in these schists, and always of the long- muz- 
zled or rostrated kind. M. de Soemmering has 
described one (the Crocodilus prisons), the entire 
skeleton of a small individual of which was found 
nearly in as good a state of preservation, as it 
could have been in our cabinets, f It is one of 
those which most resemble the present gavial of 
the Ganges; the anterior or united part of its lower 
jaw, however, is less elongated ; its lower teeth 
are alternately and regularly longer and shorter. 
It has ten vertebrae in the tail. 

* Researches, vol. v. part ii. p. 
t Ibid. p. 120. 


But the most remarkable animals which these 
limestone slates contain, are the flying lizards, 
which I have named Pterodactyli. 

They are reptiles whose principal characters 
are, a very short tail, a very long neck, the muzzle 
much elongated, and armed with sharp teeth ; the 
legs also long, and one of the toes of the anterior 
extremity excessively elongated, having prohably 
served for the attachment of a membrane adapted 
for supporting them in the air, accompanied with 
four other toes of ordinary size, terminated by 
hooked claws. One of these strange animals, 
whose appearance would be frightful did they oc- 
cur alive at the present day, may have been of 
the size of a thrush*, the other of that of a com- 
mon batf ; but it would appear from some frag- 
ments that larger species had existed J. 

A little above the limestone slates is found 
the nearly homogeneous limestone of the Jura 
ridges. It also contains bones, but always of 
reptiles, crocodiles, and fresh-water tortoises, of 
which a vast quantity is found in particular 
in the neighbourhood of Soleure. They have 
been very carefully searched for by M. Hugi ; 
and, from the fragments which he has already 

* Researches, vol. v. part ii. p. 358. et seq. 
t Ibid. p. 376. J Ibid. p. 380. 


collected, it is easy to recognise a considerable 
number of Fresh-water Tortoises, or Emydes, 
which further discoveries can alone determine, 
but of which several are already distinguished by 
their size and peculiar forms, from all the species 
hitherto known *. 

It is among these innumerable oviparous 
quadrupeds, of all sizes and forms ; in the midst 
of these crocodiles, tortoises, flying reptiles, huge 
megalosauri, and monstrous plesiosauri, that some 
small Mammifera are said to make their appear- 
ance for the first time ; and the assertion is so 
far authenticated by the occurrence of jaws, 
and some other bones discovered in England, 
which undoubtedly belong to this class of ani- 
mals, and particularly to the family of Didel- 
phides, or to that of the Insectivora. 

It may, however, be supposed, that the stoney 
matters which encrust these bones, owe their origin 
to some local recomposition, posterior to the ori- 
ginal formation of the strata. However this may 
be, it is still found for a long time that the class of 
Reptiles predominates. 

The ferruginous sands, placed in England 
above the chalk, contain abundance of crocodiles, 
tortoises, megalosauri, and especially a reptile 

Researches, vol. v. part ii. p. 225. 


which presents a character quite peculiar, in as 
much as its teeth appear worn, like those of our 
herbivorous mammifera. 

To Mr Mantell of Lewes, in Sussex, we are 
indebted for the discovery of this latter animal, 
as well as of other large reptiles belonging to 
the sands lying beneath the chalk. He has 
named it Iquanodon. 

In the chalk itself there are only reptiles to be 
seen : there are found in it remains of tortoises 
and crocodiles. The famous tufaceous quarries 
of the mountain of St Peter, near Maestricht, 
which belong to the chalk formation, along with 
very large sea tortoises, and a multitude of ma- 
rine shells and zoophytes, have afforded a ge- 
nus of lizards not less gigantic than the mega- 
losaurus, which has become celebrated by the re- 
searches of Camper, and the figures which Fau- 
jas has given of its bones, in his history of that 

It was upwards of five and twenty feet long ; 
its large jaws were armed with very strong coni- 
cal teeth, a little arcuate, and marked with a 
ridge, and it had also some of these teeth in the 
palate. Upwards of a hundred and thirty verte- 
bras were counted in its spine ; they were convex 

* Researches, vol. v. part ii. p. 161, 232, and 350. 


before, and concave behind. Its tail was deep 
and flat, and formed a large vertical oar (or or- 
gan of swimming). * Mr Conybeare has re- 
cently proposed to name it Mosasaurus. 

The clays and lignites which cover the upper 
part of the chalk, I have only found to contain 
crocodiles f ; and I have every reason to think 
that the lignites which in Switzerland have af- 
forded beaver and mastodon bones, belong to a 
later epoch. Nor has it been at an earlier period 
than that of the coarse limestone which rests up- 
on these clays that I have begun to find bones of 
mammifera ; and still do they all belong to ma- 
rine mammifera, to dolphins of unknown species, 
lamantins and morses. 

Among the dolphins, there is one, the muzzle 
of which, more elongated than that of any known 
species, has the lower jaw united in a conside- 
rable part of its length, nearly as in a gavial. It 
was found near Dax by the late president of 

Another species, from the cliffs of the Depart- 
ment de 1'Orne, has the muzzle also long, but 
somewhat differently shaped . 

The entire genus of lamantins is at the present 

Researches, vol. v. part iv. p. 310, et seq. 

t Ibid. p. 163. J Ibid. p. 316. P. 317. 


day confined to the seas of the torrid zone; and that 
of the morses, of which only a single living species 
is known to exist, is limited to the frozen ocean. 
Yet we find skeletons of these two genera side by 
side in the coarse limestone strata of the middle 
of France ; and this association of species, the 
nearest allied to which are, at the present day, 
found in opposite zones, will again make its ap- 
pearance more than once as we proceed. 

Our fossil lam an tins differ from those known to 
exist at present, in having the head more elonga- 
ted, and of a different form *. Their ribs, which 
are easily recognised by their being of a thick and 
rounded form, and of dense texture, are not of rare 
occurrence in our different provinces. 

With regard to the fossil morse, small frag- 
ments only have as yet been found of it, which 
are insufficient for characterising the species f. 

It is only in the strata that have succeeded the 
coarse limestone, or, at most, those which may 
have been of contemporaneous formation with it, 
but deposited in fresh-water lakes, that the class 
of land mammifera begins to shew itself in any 

I consider as belonging to the same period, and 

* Researches, vol. v. part ii. p. 266. 

t Id. vol. v. part i. p. 234 ; and part ii. p. 521. 


* ( 

as having lived together, but perhaps in different 
spots, the animals whose bones are deposited in 
the molasse and old gravel beds of the south of 
France ; in the gypsums mixed with limestone, 
such as those of Paris and Aix ; and in the fresh- 
water marly deposits covered with marine beds, of 
Alsace, the country of Orleans and of Berry. 

This animal population possesses a very remark- 
able character in the abundance and variety of 
certain genera of pachydermata, which are entirely 
awanting among the quadrupeds of our days, and 
whose characters have more or less resemblance 
to those of the tapirs, the rhinoceroses, and ca- 

These genera, the entire discovery of which is 
my own, are the palceotheria, lophiodonta, ana- 
plotheria, anthracotheria, cheropotami, and ada- 

The Palceotheria have resembled the tapirs in 
their general form, and in that of the head, parti- 
cularly in the shortness of the bones of the nose, 
which announces that they have had a small pro- 
boscis like the tapirs, and, lastly, in their having 
six incisors and two canine teeth in each jaw ; but 
they have resembled the rhinoceros in their grin- 
ders, of which those of the upper jaw have been 
square, with prominent ridges of various configura- 
tion, and those of the lower jaw in the form of dou- 
ble crescents, as well as in their feet, all of which 


V - - '* W 

have been divided into three toes, while in the 
tapirs the fore feet have four. 

It is one of the most extensively diffused ge- 
nera and most numerous in species that occur in 
the deposits of this period. 

Our gypsum quarries in the neighbourhood of 
Paris are full of them. Bones of seven distinct 
species are found there. The first (P. magnum) 
is as large as a horse. The three next are of the 
size of a hog, but one of them (P. medium) has 
narrow and long feet, another (P. crassum) has 
the feet broader, and a third (P. latum) has them 
still broader, and especially shorter. The fifth 
species (P. curium), which is of the size of a 
sheep, is much lower, and has the feet still broader 
and shorter in proportion than the last. The 
sixth (P. minus) is of the size of a small sheep, 
and has long and slender feet, the lateral toes of 
which are shorter than the rest. The seventh 
(P, minimum), which is not larger than a hare, 
has also the feet slender*. 

Palaeotheria have also been found in other dis- 
tricts of France : at Puy in Valey, in strata of 
gypseous marl, a species (P. velaunum) f, much 

* See my Researches, in the whole of vol. iii., and espe- 
cially p. 250 ; and vol. v. part ii. p. 505, 
t Ibid. vol. v, part ii, p. 505. 


resembling (P. medium), but differing from it in 
the form of its lower jaw ; in the neighbourhood 
of Orleans, in strata of marly rock, a species (P. 
aurelianense) *, which is distinguished from the 
others by having the re-entering angle of the cres- 
cent of its lower grinders split into a double point, 
and by some differences in the necks of the upper 
grinders ; near Issel, in a bed of gravel or molasse, 
along the declivities of the Black Mountain, a 
species (P. isselanum) f , which has the same cha- 
racters as the Orleans species, but is of smaller 
size. It is more particularly, however, in the 
molasse of the Department of the Dordogne, 
that the palaeotherium occurs not less abundantly 
than in our gypsum deposits in the neighbour- 
hood of Paris. 

The Duke Decaze has discovered in the quar- 
ries of a single field, bones of three species which 
appear different from all those of our neighbour- 
hood i. 

The Lophiodons approach still somewhat nearer 
to the tapirs than the palaeotheria do, inasmuch 
as their lower false grinders have transverse 
necks like those of the tapirs. 

* Researches, vol. iii. p. 254 ; and vol. iv, p. 498. and 499, 
t Ibid, vol, iii. p, 258. ^ Ibid. vol. v. part ii. p. 505, 


They differ, however, from these latter, in ha- 
ving the fore ones more simple, the backmost of all 
with three necks, and the upper ones rhomboidal, 
and marked with ridges very much resembling 
those of the rhinoceros. 

We are still ignorant what the form of their 
snout, and the number of their toes, may have been. 
I have discovered not less than twelve species of 
this genus, all in France, deposited in marly rocks 
of fresh-water formation, and filled with lymnese 
and planorbes, which are shells peculiar to pools 
and marshes. 

The largest species is found near Orleans, in 
the same quarry as the palseotheria ; it approaches 
the rhinoceros. 

There is a smaller species in the same place ; a 
third occurs at Montpellier ; a fourth near Laon ; 
two near Buchsweiler in Alsace ; five near Ar- 
genton in Berry ; and one of the three occurs 
again near Issel, where there are also two others. 
There is also a large one near Gannat *. 

These species differ from each other in size, the 
smallest being scarcely so large as a lamb of three 
months, and in various circumstances connected 

* See my Researches, vol. ii. part i. p, 177 and 218; vol. 
iii, p. 394; and vol. iv. p. 498. 


with the form of their teeth, which it would he 
too tedious and minute to detail here. 

The Anoplotheria have hitherto heen disco- 
vered nowhere but in the gypsum quarries of the 
neighbourhood of Paris. They have two characters 
which are observed in no other animal ; feet with 
two toes, the metacarpal and metatarsal bones of 
which are separate in their whole length, and do 
not unite into a single piece, as in the ruminan- 
tia ; and teeth placed in a continuous series with- 
out any interruption. Man alone has the teeth 
so placed in mutual contiguity, without any inter- 
val. Those of the anaplotheria consist of six in- 
cisors in each jaw, a canine tooth and six grinders 
on each side, both above and below ; their canine 
teeth are short and similar to the outer incisors. 
The three first grinders are compressed ; the four 
others are, in the upper jaw, square, with trans- 
verse ridges, and a small cone between them ; and, 
in the lower jaw, in the form of a double crescent, 
but without neck at the base. The last has three 
crescents. Their head is of an oblong form, and 
does not indicate that the muzzle has terminated 
either in a proboscis or a snout. 

This extraordinary genus, which can be com- 
pared to nothing in living nature, is subdivided 
into three subgenera : the Anaplotheria, proper- 
ly so called, the anterior molares of which are still 
pretty thick, and the posterior ones of the lower 


jaw have their crescents with a simple ridge ; the 
Xipliodons, of which the anterior molares are 
thin and sharp on the edges, and the under pos- 
terior, have, directly opposite the concavity of each 
of their crescents, a point, which, on being worn, 
also assumes the form of a crescent, so that then 
the crescents are double as in the ruminantia ; 
lastly, the Dichobunes, the outer crescents of 
which are also pointed at the beginning, and 
which have thus points disposed in pairs upon 
their lower posterior grinders. 

The most common species in our gypsum quar- 
ries (An. commune), is an animal of the height 
of a boar, but much more elongated, and furnished 
with a very long and very thick tail, so that al- 
together it has nearly the proportion of the otter, 
but larger. It is probable that it was well fitted 
for swimming, and frequented the lakes in the 
bottom of which its bones have been incrusted by 
the gypsum which was deposited there. We have 
one a little smaller, but in other respects pretty 
similar (An. secundarmm.) 

We are as yet acquainted with only one ocipho- 
don, which, however, is a very remarkable ani- 
mal : it is that which I have named An. gracile. 
It is slender, and delicately formed, like the pret- 
tiest gazelle. 

There is one dichobune, nearly of the size of a 
hare, to which I have given the name of An. le- 


porinum. Besides its subgeneric characters, it 
differs from the anaplotheria and xiphodons, in 
having two small and slender toes on each foot, 
at the sides of the two large toes. 

We do not know if these lateral toes exist in 
the two other dichobunes, which are small, and 
scarcely exceed in size the common Guinea pig *. 

The genus of Anthracotheria is in some de- 
gree intermediate between the palaeotheria, ana- 
plotheria, and hogs. I have named it so, because 
two of its species have been found in the lignites 
of Cadibona, near Savone. The first approached 
the rhinoceros in size ; the second \\ as much 
smaller. They have also been found in Alsace, 
and in the Velay. Their grinders are similar to 
those of the anaplotheria ; but they have project- 
ing canine teeth f. 

The genus Cheropotamus is found in our gyp- 
sum deposits, where it accompanies the palaeothe- 
ria and anaplotheria, but where it is of much 
rarer occurrence. Its posterior grinders are square 
above, rectangular below, and have four large 
conical eminences surrounded with smaller ones. 

* Regarding the Anaplotheria, see the whole of the 3d 
volume of my " Researches," and particularly p. 250 and 

t " Researches," vol. iii, p. 398 and 404; vol. iv. p. 
501 ; vol. v. part ii. p. 506. 


The anterior molares are short cones, slightly 
compressed, and with two roots. Its canine teeth 
are small. Neither its incisors nor its feet are yet 
known. I possess only one species, which is of 
the size of a Siam hog *. 

The genus Adapis has also but one species, 
which is at most of the size of a rabbit : it is also 
from our gypsum quarries, and must have been 
nearly allied to the anaplotheria f . 

We have thus nearly forty species of pachy- 
dermata belonging to genera now entirely extinct, 
and presenting forms and proportions to which 
there is nothing that can be compared in the pre- 
sent animal kingdom, excepting two tapirs and a 

This large number of pachydermata is so much 
the more remarkable, that the ruminantia, which 
are at present so numerous in the genera of deer 
and antelopes, and which attain so great a size in 
those of the oxen, giraffes, and camels, scarcely 
make their appearance in the deposits of which 
we are speaking. 

I have not seen the slightest trace of them in 
our gypsum quarries; and all that has come to 
my hands consists of some fragments of a deer, of 

* " Researches," vol. iii. p. 260. 

t Id. vol. iii. p. 265. 



the size of the roe, but of a different species, col- 
lected among the palaeotheria of Orleans*; and 
of one or two other small fragments, from Swit- 
zerland, which, however, are perhaps of doubtful 

But our pachyderm ata have not for all this 
been the only inhabitants of the countries in 
which they lived. In our gypsum deposits, at 
least, we find along with them carnivora, glires, 
several sorts of birds, crocodiles, and tortoises; 
and these two latter genera also accompany them 
in the molasse sandstones and marly deposits of 
the middle and south of France. 

At the head of the carnivora, I place a Bat, 
very recently discovered at Montmartre, and which 
belongs to the proper genus Vespertilio -K The 
existence of this genus, at an epoch so remote, is 
so much the more surprising, that, neither in this 
formation, nor in those which have succeeded it, 
have I seen any other trace, either of cheiroptera 
or of quadrumana : no bone or tooth of either 
monkey or maki has ever presented itself to me, 
in the course of my long researches. 

* " Researches," vol. iv. p. ] 03. 

t I am indebted for the knowledge of this animal to the 
Count de Bournon ; and as I have not described it in my 
great work, I have given a figure of it here. See Plate II. 
figs. 1 and 2. 


Montmartre has also furnished the bones of a 
fox different from ours, and which also differs 
from the jackals, isatises, and the various species 
of foxes peculiar to America * ; those of a carni- 
vorous animal allied to the racoons and coaties, 
but larger than any known species f ; those of a 
particular species of civet ; and of two or three 
other carnivora, which it has not been possible to 
determine, from the want of tolerably complete 

What is still more remarkable, is, that there 
are skeletons of a small sarigue, allied to the 
marmose, but different, and consequently of an 
animal belonging to a genus which is at the pre- 
sent day confined to the New World . Skele- 
tons of two small glires, of the genus myoxus ||, 
and a skull belonging to the genus sciurus ^, have 
also been collected. 

Our gypsum deposits are more fertile in bones 
of birds than any of the other strata either ante- 
rior or posterior to it. Entire skeletons, and parts 

* " Researches," vol. iii. p. 26?. 

| Id. voL iii. p. 269. 

J Id. vol. iii. p, 272, 

Id. vol. iiL p. 284. 

|| Id. vol. iii. p. 297 and 300. 

1F Id. vol. v. part ii. p. 506. 

S $ 


of at least ten species belonging to all the orders, 
are found there *. 

The crocodiles of the period in question ap- 
proach our common crocodiles in the form of the 
head, while, in the deposits of the Jura period, 
we find only species allied to the gavial. 

A species has been found at Argenton, which 
is remarkable for its compressed, sharp teeth, ha- 
ving their edges dentated like those of certain 
monitors f . Some remains of it also occur in our 
gypsum quarries {. 

The tortoises of this period are all fresh-water 
ones: some of them belong to the subgenus 
Emys ; and there are species, both at Mont- 
martre , and still more especially in the molasse 
sandstones of the Dordogne ||, which are larger 
than any living species known ; the others are 
Trionyces or soft tortoises IF. This genus, which 
is easily distinguished by the vermiculate surface 
of the bones of its shell, and which at present 
exists only in the rivers of warm countries, such 

* " Researches," vol. iii. p. 304 et seq. 

t Id. vol. v. part ii. p. 166. 

J Id. vol. iii. p. 335 ; vol, v. part ii. p. 166. 

Id. vol. iii. p. 233. 

|| Id. vol. v. p. 232. 

IT Id, vol. iii. p, 329; vol, v. part ii. p, 222, 


as the Nile, the Ganges, and the Orinoko, has 
been very abundant in the places where the palae- 
otheria lived. Vast quantities of its remains are 
found at Montmartre *, and in the molasse sand- 
stones of the Dordogne, and the other gravel de- 
posits of the south of France. 

The fresh-water lakes, around which these va- 
rious animals have lived, and which had received 
their bones, nourished, besides the tortoises and 
crocodiles, some fishes and testaceous mollusca. 
All that have been collected of these two classes 
of animals, are as foreign to our climate, and even 
as much unknown in our present waters, as the 
palaeotheria, and other quadrupeds which were 
coeval with themf. 

The fishes have even in part belonged to un- 
known genera. 

Hence, it cannot be doubted that this race of 
inhabitants, which might be termed the popula- 
tion of the middle age, this first great production 
of mammifera, has been entirely destroyed ; and, 
in fact, in all places where remains of them have 
been discovered, there are great deposits of marine 
formation above them, so that the sea has over- 
whelmed the countries which these races inhabit- 

* " Researches," vol, v. part ii. p, 223 and 227. 
t Id, vol, iii, p, 338, 


ed, and has rested upon them during a long 
period of time. 

Have the countries inundated by it at this pe- 
riod heen of great extent ? This is a question 
which the examination of those ancient deposits 
formed in their lakes do not enable us to answer. 

To this period I refer the gypsum beds of Pa- 
ris and those of Aix, several quarries of marly 
stones, and the molasse sandstones, at least those 
of the south of France. I am of opinion that we 
should also refer to it the portions of the molasse 
sandstones of Switzerland, and of the lignites of 
Liguria and Alsace, in which quadrupeds are 
found of the families enumerated above ; but I do 
not find that any of these animals have been also 
found in other countries. The fossil bones of 
Germany, England, and Italy, are all either older 
or newer than those of which we have been speak- 
ing, and belong either to those ancient races of 
reptiles of the juraic and copper- slate formations, 
or to the deposits of the last universal inundation, 
the diluvial formations. 

We are, therefore, authorised to believe, until 
the contrary be proved, that at the period when 
these numerous pachyderm ata lived, the globe 
had only presented for their habitation a small 
number of plains sufficiently fertile for them to 
multiply there, and that perhaps these plains were 
insulated regions, separated by pretty large spaces 


of elevated chains, in which we do not find 
that our animals have left any traces of their ex- 

The researches of M. Adolphe Brongniart have 
also made known to us the nature of the vege- 
tables which covered those countries. In the 
same strata with our palaeotheria, there have been 
found trunks of palms, and many others of those 
beautiful plants whose genera now only grow in 
warm climates. Palms, crocodiles, and trionyces 
always occur in greater or less abundance where- 
ever our ancient pachydermata are found *. 

The sea which had covered these lands and 
destroyed their animals, left large deposits, which 
still form at the present day, at no great depth, 
the basis of our great plains : it had then retired 
anew, and left immense surfaces to a new popula- 
tion, whose remains are found in the sandy and 
muddy deposits of all countries known. 

It is to this deposition from the sea, made in a 
state of quiet, that certain fossil cetacea, very 
much resembling those f our own days, should, 
in my opinion, be referred ; a dolphin, allied to 
our epaulard f , and a whale very like our ror- 
quals |, both discovered in Lombardy by M. Cor- 

* See my " Researches/' vol. iii. p. 35}. et seq. 
t Id. vol. v. part i. p. 309. J Id. p. 390. 


tesi ; a large head of a whale found within the 
very precincts of Paris *, and described by Lama- 
non and Daubenton ; and an entirely new genus, 
which I have discovered and named Ziphius, and 
which already contains three species. It is allied 
to the cachalots and hyperoodons f. 

In the extinct population which fills our allu- 
vial and superficial strata, and which has lived 
upon the deposit just alluded to, there are no 
longer either palaeotheria or anaplothaeria, or, in 
in fact, any of those singular genera. The pachy- 
dermata, however, still predominate ; and these 
are of a gigantic size, elephants, rhinoceroses, 
and hippopotami, accompanied with innumerable 
horses and several large ruminantia. Carnivorous 
animals of the size of the lion, tiger, and hyena, 
had desolated this new animal kingdom. In ge- 
neral, its character, even in the extreme north, 
and on the edges of the present frozen ocean, was 
similar to that which the torrid zone alone now 
presents, and yet there was no species in it abso- 
lutely the same as any of those which are found 
alive at the present day. 

The most remarkable of these animals is the 
species of elephant named mammoth by the Rus- 

* " Researches," vol. v. part i. p. 393. 
t Id. vol. v. part i- p. 352. and 35?. 


sians (the Elephas primigenius of Blumenbach), 
which was fifteen or eighteen feet high, and was 
covered with coarse red wool, and long, stiff, hlack 
hairs, which formed a inane along its back. Its 
enormous tusks were implanted in alveolae longer 
than those of the elephants of the present day ; 
but in other respects it was pretty similar to the 
Indian elephant *. It has left thousands of its 
carcases from Spain to the shores of Siberia, and 
it has been found in the whole of North Ameri- 
ca ; so that it had been distributed on both sides 
of the Atlantic, if, indeed, that ocean had existed 
in its time, in the place which it occupies at pre- 
sent. It is well known that its tusks are still so 
well preserved in cold countries, as to be applied 
to the same uses as fresh ivory ; and, as we have 
already remarked, individuals of it have been 
found with their flesh, skin, and hair, which had 
remained frozen since the last general catastrophe. 
The Tartars and Chinese have imagined it to be 
an animal which lives under ground, and perishes 
whenever it perceives the light. 

After the mammoth, and almost its equal in 
size, came also in the countries which form the 
two presently existing continents, the narrow 
toothed mastodon, which resembled the elephant, 

* " Researches," vol. i. p. 75, 195 and 335 ; vol. iii. 
3?1 and 405 ; vol. iv. p. 491. 


and was armed like it with enormous tusks, but 
with tusks covered with enamel, shorter legs, 
and whose mamillated grinders, invested with ^ 
thick and shining enamel, have long furnished 
what has been called occidental turquoise *. 

Its remains, which are pretty common in the 
temperate parts of Europe, are not so much so 
towards the north ; but it has also been found in 
the mountains of South America, along with two 
allied species. 

In North America immense quantities of the 
remains of the great mastodon have been found, 
a species larger than the preceding, as high in 
proportion as the elephant, with equally huge 
tusks, and whose grinders, which are covered over 
with bristling points, made it long be considered 
as a carnivorous animal f. 

Its bones were of a large size, and very solid. 
Even its hoofs and stomach are said to have been 
found in a sufficient state of preservation to be re- 
cognisable ; and it is asserted that the stomach 
was filled with bruised branches of trees. The 
Indians imagine that the whole race was destroyed 

* " Researches/' vol. i. p. 250, 265 and 335 ; vol. iv. p. 

t Id. vol. i, p. 206, 249 ; vol. iii. p. 37 6. 


by the gods, to prevent them from destroying the 
human species. 

Along with these enormous pachydermata, liv- 
ed the two somewhat inferior genera of the rhino- 
ceroses and hippopotami. 

The Hippopotamus of this period was pretty 
common in the countries which now form France, 
Germany and England, and was particularly so 
in Italy. It so closely resembled the present Af- 
rican species, that it is only by an attentive com- 
parison that it can be distinguished from it *. 

There was also at this time a small species of 
hippopotamus of the size of the wild boar, to 
which there is nothing similar at present exist- 

There were at least three species of Rhinoceros 
of large size, all of them two-horned. 

The most common species in Germany and 
England (my Rh. tichorhinus), and which, like 
the elephant, is found even to the shores of the 
frozen sea, where it has also left entire individuals, 
had the head elongated, the bones of the nose 
very robust and supported by an osseous and not 
merely cartilaginous septum narium, and, lastly, 
wanted incisors f. 

* Researches," vol, i. p. 304, 322 ; vol, iii. p. 380 ; vol. 
iv, p. 493, 

t Id, vol. ii. part i, p, 64; and vol. iv. p, 496. 


Another species, of rarer occurrence, and pecu- 
liar to more temperate climates (Rh. incisivus) *, 
had incisors like our present rhinoceroses of the 
East Indies, and, in particular, resembled that of 
Sumatra f ; its distinctive characters are derived 
from some differences in the form of the head. 

The third species (Rh. leptorhirius) had no 
incisors, like the first and like the present rhino- 
ceros of the Cape ; but it was distinguished by 
a more pointed muzzle and more slender limbs J. 
The bones of this species have been found more 
especially in Italy, in the same strata with those 
of elephants, mastodons, and hippopotami. 

There is a fourth species still (Rh. minutus), 
furnished, like the second, with incisors, but of a 
much smaller size, and scarcely larger than a 
hog I). It was undoubtedly rare, for the remains 
of it have only as yet been found in some places 
in France. 

To those four genera of large pachydermata, is 
added a Tapir, which equalled them in size, and 
was consequently twice, perhaps three times, as 

* " Researches," vol. ii. part i. p. 89. vol. iii. ; p. 390 ; 
and vol. v. part ii. p. 50. 

f Id. vol. iii. p. 385. 
J Id. vol. ii. part i. p. Ti- 
ll Id. vol. ii. part i. p. 89- 


large in its linear dimensions as the American 
Tapir *. Its teeth have been found in several 
parts of France and Germany ; and almost always 
accompanying those of rhinoceroses, mastodons, 
or elephants. 

Along with these there is still associated, but as 
it would seem in a very small number of places, a 
large pachydermatous animal, of which the lower 
jaw alone has been found, and whose teeth are of 
the form of double crescents, and undulated. M. 
Fischer, who discovered it among bones from Si- 
beria, has named it Elasmotherium\ . 

The Horse genus also existed in those timesf . 
Its teeth accompany in thousands the remains of 
the animals which we have just mentioned, in al- 
most all their localities ; but it is not possible to 
say whether it was one of the species now exist- 
ing or not, because the skeletons of these species 
are so like each other, that they cannot be distin- 
guished by the mere comparison of isolated frag- 

The Ruminantia were now greatly more nume- 
rous than at the epoch of the Palaeotheria ; their 
numerical proportion must even have differed 

* See my " Researches," vol. part i. p. 89. 
t Id. p. 95. t Id - P- ] 9 


very little from what it is at present ; but we are 
certain of several species which were different. 

This may, in particular, be said with much 
certainty of a deer exceeding even the elk in size, 
which is common in the marl deposits and peat- 
bogs of Ireland and England, and of which re- 
mains have also been dug up in France, Ger- 
many, and Italy, where they were found in the 
same strata with bones of elephants. Its wide, 
palmated, and branched horns, measure so much 
as twelve or fourteen feet from one point to the 
other, following the curvatures *. 

The distinction is not so clear with regard to 
the bones of deer and oxen, which have been 
collected in certain caverns, and in the fissures of 
certain rocks. They are sometimes, and espe- 
cially in the caverns of England, accompanied 
with bones of elephants, rhinoceroses, and hippo- 
potami, and with those of a hyena, which also 
occurs in several strata of transported matter, 
along with these same pachydermata. They are 
consequently of the same age ; but it remains not 
the less difficult to say in what respect they dif- 
fer from the oxen and deer of the present day. 

The fissures of the rocks of Gibraltar, Cette, 
Nice, Uliveta near Pisa, and other places on the 

See my " Researches/' vol. iv. p. 70. 


shores of the Mediterranean, are filled with a red 
and hard cement, which envelopes fragments of 
rock and fresh- water shells, and numerous bones 
of quadrupeds, the greater part fractured. These 
concretions are termed osseous breccia. The 
bones which they contain sometimes present cha- 
racters sufficient to prove that they have belonged 
to unknown animals, or at least to animals fo- 
reign to Europe. There are found, for example, 
four species of deer, three of which have charac- 
ters in their teeth, which are only observed in 
the deer of the Indian Archipelago. 

There is a fifth near Verona, the horns of 
which exceed in magnitude those of the Cana- 
dian deer *. 

There also occur, in certain places, along with 
bones of rhinoceroses, and other quadrupeds of 
this period, those of a deer so much resembling 
the reindeer, that it would be difficult to assign 
distinctive characters to it ; a circumstance which 
is so much the more extraordinary, that the rein- 
deer is at the present day confined to the coldest 
regions of the north, while the whole genus of 
rhinoceroses belongs to the torrid zone, t 

There exist in the strata of which we speak, 

* " Researches," vol. iv. p. 168-225. 
t Id. p. 89- 


remains of a species very similar to the fallow- 
deer, but a third larger, * and prodigious quanti- 
ties of horns, very much resembling those of our 
present stag t, as well as bones, very like those of 
the aurochs f and domestic ox ||, two very dis- 
tinct species, which had been erroneously con- 
founded by the naturalists who preceded us. The 
entire heads, however, resembling those of these 
two animals, as well as that of the musk-ox of 
Canada , which have often been extracted from 
the earth, do not come from localities sufficiently 
well determined to enable us to assert that these 
species had been contemporaries of the great pa- 
chydermata, of which we have made mention 

The osseous brecciae of the shores of the Me- 
diterranean have also afforded two species of 
Lagomys,^ animals, the genus of which exists at 
the present day only in Siberia ; two species of 
rabbits **, lemmings, and rats of the size of the 

* See my " Researches," vol. iv. p. 94, 
t Id. vol. iv. p, 98. 

J Id. vol. iv. p. 148 ; and vol. v. part ii. p. 509- 
|| Id. vol. iv. p. 150 ; vol. v. part ii. p. 510. 
Id. vol. iv. p. 153. 
IT Id. vol.iv.p, 199-204. 
** Id. vol. iv. p. 174, 177, 196; vol. v. part i. p. 55. 


water-rat and domestic mouse *. In the caves 
of England two species are also found f. 

The osseous brecciae even contain bones of 
shrew-mice and lizards f . 

In certain sandy strata of Tuscany, there are 
teeth of a porcupine ||, and in those of Russia 
heads of a species of beaver, larger than ours, 
which M. Fischer has named Trogontherium . 

But it is more particularly in the class Edenta- 
ta that these races of animals belonging to the pe- 
riod before the last assume a size much superior 
to that of their present congeners, and even rise 
to a magnitude altogether gigantic. 

The Megatherium unites a part of the generic 
characters of the armadilloes, with some of those of 
the sloths, and is in size equal to the largest rhino- 
ceros. Its claws must have been of a monstrous 
length, and prodigious strength; its whole skeleton 
possesses an excessive solidity. It has only as yet 
been found in the sandy strata of North Ame- 

* See my " Researches," vol. iv. p. 1 78, 202, and 206 ; 
vol. v. part i. p. 54-. 

t Id. vol. v. part i. p. 55. 
{ Id. vol. iv. p. 206. 
|| Id. vol. v. part ii, 517. 
Id. part i. p. 59- 

IT Id. p. 174; and part ii. p. 519. 



The Megalonysc has been very similar to it in 
its characters, but has been somewhat less ; its 
claws much longer and sharper in the edges. 
Some bones and entire toes of it have been found 
in certain caves in Virginia, and in an island on 
the coast of Georgia *. 

These two enormous edentata have only hi- 
therto presented their remains in America ; but 
Europe possesses one of the same class which 
does not yield to them in magnitude. It is only 
known by a single terminal joint of a toe, but this 
fragment is sufficient to assure us that it was very 
similar to a pangolin or manis, but to a pangolin 
of nearly twenty-four feet in length. It lived in 
the same districts as the elephants, rhinoceroses, 
and gigantic tapirs ; for its bones have been 
found along with theirs in a sandy deposit in the 
county of Darmstadt, not far from the Rhinef . 

The osseous breccias also contain, but very rare- 
ly, bones of carnivora J, which are much more 
numerous in caverns, that is to say, in cavities 
wider and more complicated than the fissures or 
veins containing osseous breccia. The Jura chain 
in particular, is celebrated for them in the part of 
it which extends into Germany, where, for ages 

* See ray " Researches," vol. v. part i. p, 160, 
Id, vol. v. p. 193, t Id, vol, iv. p, 193. 


past, incredible quantities have been removed and 
destroyed, on account of certain medical virtues 
which had been attributed to them, and yet there 
still remains enough to fill the mind with asto- 
nishment. The principal part of these remains 
consists of bones of a very large species of bear 
(Ursus spelceus), which is characterised by a 
more prominent forehead than that of any of our 
living bears *. Along with these bones are found 
those of two other species of bear f 17. arctoideus 
and U. prisons) f; those of a hyena (H.fossilis), 
allied to the spotted hyena of the Cape, but dif- 
fering from it in the form of its teeth and head J; 
those of two tigers or panthers , of a wolf ||, a 
fox 5r> a glutton **, as well as of weasels, viver- 
rae, and other small carnivora ff . 

Here, also, may be observed that singular asso- 
ciation of animals, the species resembling which 
live at the present day in climates so widely se- 
parated from each other as the Cape, the coun- 
try of the spotted hyena, and Lapland, the coun- 
try of our present gluttons. In like manner we 

* See my " Researches/' vol. iv. p. 351. 
t Id. vol. iv. p, 356 and 357. J Id. vol. iv. p. 392. and 507. 
Id. vol. iv. p. 452. || Id. vol. iv. 458. IT Id. voL iv. p. 461 . 
** Id. vol. iv. p. 475. ft Id. vol. iv. p. 467. 


have seen in a cave in France, a rhinoceros and a 
reindeer by the side of each other. 

Bears are of rare occurrence in alluvial strata. 
Remains of the large species of the caves ( U. 
spelceus), are said, however, to have been found in 
Austria and Hainaut ; and in Tuscany there are 
bones of a particular species, remarkable for its 
compressed canine teeth (U. cultridens) *. The 
hyenas are more frequently met with. We have 
remains of them in France, found along with 
bones of elephants and rhinoceroses. A cave has 
lately been discovered in England, which con- 
tained prodigious quantities of them, where they 
were found of every age, and of which the soil 
presented even their excrements in a sufficient 
state of preservation to be easily recognised. It 
would appear that they had long lived there, and 
that it had been by them that the bones of ele- 
phants, rhinoceroses, hippopotami, horses, oxen, 
deer, and various animals of the class of glires, 
which are found along with them, and which bear 
evident marks of their teeth, had been dragged 
into the cave. But what must have been the 
soil of England, when these enormous animals 
lived upon it, and constituted the prey of fero- 
cious beasts ! These caves contain also bones of 

* See my " Researches/' vol. iv. p. 378 and 507 ; and 
vol. v. part ii. p. 516. 


tigers, wolves and foxes ; but the remains of bears 
are of excessively rare occurrence in them *. 

However this may be, we see that, at the epoch 
of the animal population which we are now pass- 
ing under review, the class of carnivora was nu- 
merous and powerful. It reckoned three bears 
with round canine teeth, one with compressed ca- 
nini, a large tiger or lion, another feline animal, 
of the size of the panther, a hyena, a wolf, a fox, 
a glutton, a martin or pole-cat, and a weasel. 

The class of glires, composed in general of weak 
and small species, has been little observed by the 
collectors of fossil remains ; and, in all cases, 
where the bones of these animals have been found 
in the strata or deposits of which we speak, they 
also have presented unknown species. Such, in 
particular, is a species of Lagomys found in the 
osseous breccias of Corsica and Sardinia, some- 
what resembling the Lagomys alpinus of the 
high mountains of Siberia : so true is it that it is 
not always in the torrid zone only, that we are to 
seek for the animals which resemble those of this 

These are the principal animals, the remains 
of which have been found in that mass of earth, 
sand, and mud, that Diluvium, which every- 

* See Mr Buckland's excellent work, entitled Reliquiae 


where covers our large plains, fills our caverns, 
and chokes up the fissures in many of our rocks. 
They incontestibly formed the population of the 
continents, at the epoch of the great catastrophe 
which has destroyed their races, and which has 
prepared the soil, on which the animals of the 
present day subsist. 

Whatever resemblance certain of these species 
bear to those of our days, it cannot be disput- 
ed that the general mass of this population had a 
very different character, and that the greater part 
of the races which composed it have been utterly 

What astonishes us is, that, among all these 
mammifera, the greater number of which have 
their congeners at the present day in the warm 
parts of the globe, there has not been a single 
quadrumanous animal, that there has not been 
collected a single bone or a single tooth of an ape 
or monkey, not so much even as a bone or a tooth 
belonging to an extinct species of these animals. 

Nor is there any trace of man. All the bones 
of our species that have been found along with 
those of which we have been speaking, have oc- 
curred accidentally *, and their number besides is 

* See in the Reliquice Diluviance of Mr Buckland the ac- 
count of the skeleton of a woman found in the cave of Pa- 


exceedingly small, which assuredly would not have 
been the case, if men had then been settled in 
the countries which these animals inhabited. 

Where, then, was the human race at this pe- 
riod ? Did the last and most perfect of the 
works of the Creator nowhere exist ? Did the 
animals which now accompany him upon the 
globe, and of which there are no traces among 
these fossil remains, surround him ? Were the 
countries in which he lived with them swallowed 
up, when those which he now inhabits, and whose 
former population may have been destroyed by a 
great inundation, were laid dry again ? These 
are questions which the study of fossil remains 
does not enable us to solve, and in this discourse 
we must not apply for information to other 

This much is certain, that we are now at least 
in the midst of a fourth succession of land ani- 
mals, that, after the age of reptiles, the age of 
palaeotheria, the age of mammoths, and that of 
mastodons and megatheria, has come the age in 

vyland ; and in my Researches, vol. iv. p. 1 93, that of a 
fragment of a jaw, found in the osseous breccias of Nice. 

M. de Schlotheim collected human bones in fissures at 
Koestritz, where there are also bones of rhinoceroses ; but 
he himself expresses his doubts regarding the epoch at 
which they were deposited. 


which the human species, aided by some domes- 
tic animals, peaceably governs and fertilizes the 
earth, and that it is only in the deposits formed 
since the commencement of this age, in alluvial 
matters, peat-bogs, and recent concretions, that 
bones are found in the fossil state, which belong 
all of them to known and still living animals. 

Such are the human skeletons of Guadaloupe, 
imbedded in a species of travertine formed of land 
shells, slate, and fragments of shells and madre- 
pores of the neighbouring sea ; the bones of oxen, 
deer, roes, and beavers, common in peat-bogs, and 
all the bones of men and domestic animals found 
in the mud and sand deposited by rivers, in bury- 
ing grounds, and upon ancient fields of battle. 

None of these remains belong either to the 
great deposit formed at the time of the last catas- 
trophe, nor to those of preceding ages. 


( 299 ) 


On the birds to which the name of Ibis was given by the 
ancient Egyptians. 

Every body has heard of the Ibis, a bird to 
which the ancient Egyptians rendered a religious 
homage ; which they reared within the precincts 
of their temples ; allowed to wander unmolested 
through their towns ; whose murderer, even al- 
though he had involuntarily become so, was punish- 
ed with death * ; which they embalmed with as 
much care as their parents ; a bird to which they 
attributed a virgin purity ; an inviolable attach- 
ment to their country, of which it was the em- 
blem, an attachment so great that it suffered it- 
self to die of hunger when it was transported else- 

* Herodotus, i. 2. 


where; a bird which possessed instinct enough 
to know the increase and waning of the moon, 
and to regulate accordingly the quantity of its 
daily food, and the development of its young ; 
which arrested at the frontiers of Egypt the ser- 
pents which would otherwise have carried destruc- 
tion into that sacred land *, and which inspired 
them with such terror that they dreaded its very 
feathers f ; a bird, in fine, whose form the gods 
would have assumed, had they been forced to a- 
dopt a mortal figure, and into which Mercury 
was really transformed, when he had a mind to 
traverse the earth, and instruct men in the sciences 
and arts. 

No other animal could have been so easy to re- 
cognize as this ; for there is no other of which the 
ancients have left us at once, as of the ibis, excel- 
lent descriptions, accurate and even coloured fi- 
gures, and the body itself preserved with its fea- 
thers, under the triple envelope of a preservative 
bitumen, thick and close folds of linen, and solid 
and well varnished vases. And yet, of all the 
modern authors who have spoken of the ibis, there 
is but one, the celebrated Bruce, a traveller more 
famous for his courage than for the justness of his 

* jElian, lib. ii. cap. 35 and 38. 
t Id. lib. i. cap. 38. 

ON THE. IBIS. 301 

opinions in natural history, who has not blunder- 
ed respecting the true species of this bird ; and 
his ideas with regard to this subject, however ac- 
curate they were, have not even been adopted by 
naturalists *. 

After several changes of opinion respecting the 
ibis, it was seemingly agreed, at the period when 
I published the first edition of this work, to give 
the name of Ibis to a bird a native of Africa, al- 
most of the size of the stork, with white plumage, 
having the quills black, perched upon long red 
legs, armed with a long arched beak, of a pale yel- 
low colour, sharp at its edges, rounded at its base, 
and notched at its point, and whose face is covered 
with a red skin destitute of feathers, which do not 
extend farther forward than the eyes. 

Such is the Ibis of Perrault f, the Ibis Candida 
of Brisson J, the Ibis blanc d'Egypte of Buf- 

* Bruce, French translation, 8vo. vol. viii, p. 264 ; and 
Atlas, pi. xxxv,, under the name of Abouhannes. 

fr Description d'un Ibis blanc et de deux cicognes, Aca- 
demic des Sciences de Paris, t. iii, pi. iii. p. 6l. of the 4to 
edition of 1734, pi, xiii. fig, 1, The beak is represented as* 
truncated at the end, but this is a fault of the engraver, 

J Numenius sordide albo-rufescens, capite anteriore nudo 
rubro, lateribus rubro purpureo et carneo colore maculatis, 
remigibus majoribus nigris, rectricibus sordide albo rufes- 
centibus, rostro in exortu dilute luteo, in extremitate au- 


ffon #, and the Tantalus Ibis of Linnaeus, in his 
twelfth edition. It was to this same bird, also, that 
Blumenbach, while he avowed that it is of very rare 
occurrence at the present day, at least in Lower 
Egypt, asserted that the Egyptians rendered di- 
vine honours -f- ; and yet this naturalist had pos- 
sessed opportunities of examining bones of the 
true ibis in a mummy which he opened in Lon- 
don J. 

I also participated in the error of those cele- 
brated men whom I have just mentioned, until 
the moment when I was enabled to examine some 
mummies of the ibis by myself. This pleasure 
was procured for me, for the first time, by the late 
M. Fourcroy, to whom M. Grobert, Colonel of 
Artillery, on his return from Egypt, had given 
two of these mummies, both taken from the pits 
of Saccara. On carefully exposing them, we per- 
ceived that the bones of the embalmed bird were 

rantio, pedibus griseis. Ibis Candida, Brisson, Ornithologia, 
t. v. p. 349, 

* Planches Enluminees, No. 389 ; Histoire des Oiseaux, 
t, viii. 4to. p. 14. pi, 1, This last figure is a copy of that 
of Perault, with the same fault, 

t Handbuch der Naturgeschichte, p, 203. of the edition 
of 1799 ; but in the edition of 1807 he has restored the 
name of Ibis to the bird to which it belongs. 

J Philosophical Transactions for 1794. 


much smaller than those of the Tantalus ibis of 
naturalists ; that they did not much exceed those 
of the curlew in size, that its beak resembled that 
of the latter, being only a little shorter in pro- 
portion to its thickness, and not at all that of the 
tantalus ; and, lastly, that its plumage was white 
with the quills marked with black, as the ancients 
have described it. 

We are therefore convinced, that the bird 
which the ancient Egyptians embalmed, was by 
no means the Tantalus ibis of naturalists, that it 
was smaller, and that it was to be sought for in 
the curlew genus. We found, after some in- 
quiries, that the mummies of the ibis which had 
been opened before by different naturalists, were 
similar to ours. Buffon says expressly that he ex- 
amined several of them ; that the birds which 
they contained had the beak and size of curlews ; 
and yet he has blindly followed Perrault in ta- 
king the African tantalus for the ibis. One of 
those mummies opened by Buffon still exists in 
the museum ; it is similar to those which we have 

Dr Shaw, in the supplement to his Travels *, 
describes and figures with care the bones of a si- 
milar mummy. The beak, he says, was six Eng- 

* Folio edition, Oxford 1?46, pi, v. and pages 64-66- 


lish inches in length, similar to that of the cur- 
lew, &c. In a word, its description agrees entire- 
ly with ours. 

Caylus, in his Collection of Antiquities, vol. 
vi. pi. xl. fig. 1., gives a representation of the 
mummy of an ibis, the height of which, with its 
bandages, is only one foot seven inches four lines, 
although he says expressly that the bird was placed 
upon its feet with the head straight out, and that 
it had no part inflected in its embalment. 

Hasselquist, who took a small white and black 
heron for the ibis, gives, as his principal reason, 
that the size of this bird, which is that of a crow, 
corresponds very well with that of the mummies 
of the ibis *. How, then, could Linnaeus have 
given the name of ibis to a bird as large as a 
stork ? How, especially, could he have considered 
this bird to be the same as the Ardea ibis of Has- 
selquist, which, besides its smallness, had the beak 
straight ? And how has this latter error of sy- 
nonymy been preserved to this very day in the 
Systema Nature ? 

A short time after this examination, which was 
made in the presence of M. Fourcroy, M. Olivier 

* Hasselquist, Iter Palestinum, p. 249, Magnitude gal- 
linte, seu cornicis ; and, p, 250,, vasa quce in sepulchrix i- 
veniuntur, cum avibus conditis, hujus sunt magmtudlnis. 


had the politeness to shew us the bones which he 
had taken from two mummies of the ibis, and to 
open along with us two others. These bones were 
found similar to those of Colonel Grobert's mum- 
mies ; one of the four only was smaller, but it 
was easy to judge by the epiphyses that it had 
belonged to a young individual. 

The only figure of the beak of an embalmed 
ibis, which does not entirely agree with the objects 
which we have had under our eyes, is that of Ed- 
wards (pi. cv.) ; it is a ninth part larger, and yet 
we do not doubt its accuracy, for M. Olivier shew- 
ed us also a beak an eighth or a ninth longer than 
the others, or in the proportion of 180 to 165, 
which had been equally taken from a mummy. 
This beak only shews that there were among the 
ibises individuals larger than others ; but it proves 
nothing in favour of the tantalus, for it has not 
at all the form of the beak of that animal. Its 
beak is perfectly similar to that of the curlews ; 
and besides, the beak of the tantalus is a third 
longer than that of our largest embalmed ibises, 
and two-fifths longer than that of the smallest. 

We have ascertained further, that similar vari- 
ations with regard to the size of the beak exist in 
our European curlews, according to the age and 
sex. They are still more strongly marked in the 
green curlew of Italy, and in our godwits ; and 
this variation appears to be a property common to 



most of the species of the family of scolopaceous 

Lastly, our naturalists returned from the expe- 
dition to Egypt with a rich harvest of objects, as 
well ancient as recent. My learned friend M. 
GeofFroy St Hilaire, in particular, had occupied 
himself with the greatest care in collecting mum- 
mies of all descriptions, and had brought with 
him a great number of those of the ibis, both 
from Saccara and Thebes. 

The former were in the same state as those 
which M. Grobert had brought, that is to say, 
their bones had undergone a sort of half burning, 
and were without consistence ; they broke on the 
slightest touch, and it was very difficult to obtain 
any entire, and still more so to detach them for 
the purpose of making a skeleton. 

The bones of those brought from Thebes were 
much better preserved, either on account of the 
greater heat of the climate, or from the more effi- 
cacious means employed for their preparation ; 
and M. GeofFroy having sacrificed some of them 
to me, M. Rousseau, my assistant, succeeded, by 
dint of patience and address, and by the employ- 
ment of ingenious and delicate methods of proce- 
dure, in making up an entire skeleton, by strip- 
ping all the bones, and connecting them with a 
very fine wire. This skeleton is deposited in the 
anatomical galleries of the museum, of which it 


forms one of the most beautiful ornaments, and 
we have represented it in PL iv. 

It is likely that this mummy must have been 
that of a bird kept in a state of domesticity in the 
temples, for its left humerus has been broken and 
joined again. It is probable that a wild bird, 
whose wing had been broken, would have perished 
before it had healed, from its being unable to pur- 
sue its prey, or to escape from its enemies. 

This skeleton puts it in our power to deter- 
mine, without any uncertainty, the characters and 
proportions of the bird. We see clearly that it 
was in all points a true curlew, a little larger than 
the common curlew of Europe, but having the 
beak thicker and shorter. The following is a 
comparative table of the dimensions of the two 
birds, taken, for the ibis, from the skeleton of the 
mummy of Thebes, and for the curlew, from a 
skeleton which previously existed in our anatomi- 
cal galleries. We have added those of parts of 
the Saccara ibises, which we succeeded in obtain- 
ing entire. 







'OU HH ^ 

jleton of 




J5 a> 




Head and beak together, 
Head alone, - - - - 
The 14 vertebrae of the \ 
neck together, - - / 







n ns? 






Tibia ..... 

1 50 



Tarsus - 

O 102 


Middle-toe, .... 
Sternum, - . - - 


n o^*; 







Fore-arm, - - - - 





It appears by this table, that the animal of 
Thebes was larger than our curlew ; that one of 
the Saccara ibises was intermediate in size be- 
tween that of Thebes and our common curlew, 
and that the other was smaller than this latter 
bird. It is also seen that the different parts of 
the body of the ibis do not observe the same pro- 
portions between each other, as those of the cur- 
lew. The beak of the former, for example, is in 
particular shorter, although all the other parts are 
longer, &c. 

However, these differences of proportions do 
not exceed what might be expected in species of 
the same genus : the forms and characters which 


may be considered as generic, are absolutely the 

We must therefore search for the true ibis, not 
among those tantaluses of large size and sharp 
beak, but among the curlews ; and, let it be ob- 
served, that, by the name curlew, we intend to 
signify, not the artificial genus formed by Latham 
and Gmelin, of all the wading birds which have 
the beak curved downwards, but a natural genus, 
to which we shall give the name of Numenius* 
and which will comprehend all the waders with 
beaks curved downwards, soft and rounded, whe- 
ther their head be bare or clothed with feathers. 
It is the genus courlis, such as Buffon imagined 

A glance over the collection of birds belonging 
to the royal cabinet, has enabled us to distinguish 
a species, which is neither named nor described in 
the works of systematic writers, excepting per- 
haps by Dr Latham ; and which, when carefully 
examined, will be found to correspond with all 
that the ancients, the monuments and mummies, 
indicate as characteristic of the ibis. 

We here present a figure of it, Plate v. It 
is a bird somewhat larger than the curlew ; its 
beak is arcuate like that of the curlew, but a little 

* We have definitively established this genus in our 
" Regne Animal," t. i. p. 483, and it appears to have been 
adopted by naturalists. 


shorter, and sensibly thicker in proportion, some- 
what compressed at its hase, and marked on each 
side with a groove, which, proceeding from the 
nostril, is continued to the extremity ; while, in 
the curlew, there is a similar groove, which dis- 
appears before arriving at the middle of the beak ; 
the colour of the beak is more or less black ; the 
head, and the two upper thirds of the neck, are 
entirely destitute of feathers, and the skin of 
these parts is black. The plumage of the body, 
wings, and tail, is white, with the exception of 
the ends of the large quills of the wing, which 
are black ; the four last secondary quills have the 
barbs singularly long, attenuated, and hanging 
down over the ends of the wings, when the latter 
are folded ; their colour is a beautiful black, with 
violet reflections. The feet are black, the legs 
are thicker, and the toes much longer in propor- 
tion than those of the curlew ; the membranes be- 
tween the bases of the toes are also more ex- 
tended; the leg is entirely covered with small 
polygonal, or what is called reticulated scales, and 
the base of the toes itself has only similar scales ; 
while, in the curlew, two-thirds of the leg, and 
the whole length of the toes, are scutulate, that 
is to say, furnished with transverse scales. There 
is a reddish tint under the wing, toward the top 
of the thigh, and on the anterior large wing co- 
verts ; but this tint appears to be an individual 
character, or the result of an accident, for it does 


not occur in other individuals that are in other 
respects entirely similar. 

This first individual came from the collection 
of the Stadtholder, and its native country was 
unknown. The late M. Desmoulins, assistant 
naturalist to the Museum, who had seen two 
others, asserted that they came from Senegal; 
one of them must even have been brought by M. 
Geoffrpy de Villeneuve : but we shall see, as we 
proceed, that Bruce * found this species in Abys- 
sinia, where it was named dbou-Hannes (Father 
John) ; and that M. Savigny saw it in abundance 
in Lower Egypt, where it was called Abou- 
Mengel (Father of the Sickle). It is probable 
that the moderns will give no credit to the asser- 
tion of the ancients, that the ibis never left 
Egypt without perishing f . This assertion would, 
besides, be as contrary to the Tantalus Ibis as to 
our common Curlew; for the individuals which 
we have in Europe came from Senegal. It was 
from thence that M. Geoffroy de Villeneuve had 
brought the individual in the Museum of Natural 
History. It is even much rarer in Egypt than 
our curlew ; for, since Perrault, nobody mentions 
having seen it there, or having received it from 
that country. An individual without the reddish 
tint, but in other respects perfectly similar to the 
first, was brought home by M. de Labillardierc, 

* Bruce, loc. cit. ; and Savigny, (C Mem. sur I'lbis," p. 12* 
t Julian, lib. ii. cap. 38 


in his voyage to Australasia made along with 
M. d'Entrecasteux. 

We afterwards learned, that, when young, 
these birds have the head and neck furnished 
with feathers in the part which, as they advance 
in age, is to become bare ; and that the scapulars 
are less elongated, and of a paler and duller black. 
It is in this state that one was brought to us from 
Australasia by the late Peron, which, in other 
respects, differs from ours, and from that of M. 
Labillardiere, only in having some black mark- 
ings on the alula and first large coverts, and in 
which the head and upper part of the neck are 
covered with blackish feathers. It was also a 
youngish individual which M. Savigny brought 
from Egypt, and which is figured in his memoir 
upon the Ibis, Plate I. ; and in the great work 
on Egypt, under the head Birds, PI. vn. The 
feathers of the head and back part of the neck 
are rather grey than black ; those of the fore part 
of the neck are white. Lastly, Bruce's figure 
(Atlas, Plate xxxv.) is also taken from a young 
individual observed in Abyssinia, and almost si- 
milar to that of M. Savigny. 

We have received from Pondicherry, by M. 
Leschenault, an individual similar to that of Pe- 
ron, but in which, the head only, and a small part 
of the back of the neck, are furnished with black- 
ish feathers ; all the rest is covered with white 


feathers. But it is not the less certain, that all 
these birds have the head and the neck bare when 
they are full grown. 

The late M. Mace sent from Bengal to the 
Museum several individuals of a species very 
nearly allied to this, which has the beak a little 
longer, and less arched, of which the first quill 
only has a little black on the two edges of its 
point, and of which the secondary quills are also 
somewhat attenuated, and slightly tinged with 

It appears, according to M. Savigny, p. 25, 
that M. Levaillant observed another still, which 
has the secondary quills similarly elongated, but 
of which the neck always retains its feathers, and 
whose face is of a red colour. 

The same M. Mace also sent us a tantalus, 
very much resembling that which has been re- 
garded by naturalists as the ibis, but of which 
the small wing-coverts, and a broad band at the 
lower part of the breast, are black, and speckled 
with white. The last secondary quills are elon- 
gated, and tinged with rose-colour. It is known 
that, in the Tantalus ibis of naturalists, the small 
wing-coverts are speckled with purplish red, and 
that the whole under part of the body is white. 

We give here a table of the parts of some of 
these birds, which could be accurately measured 
in stuffed individuals. By comparing them with 



those of the skeletons of embalmed ibises, one 
may judge if it were possible to believe for a 
single moment that these mummies belonged to 
the tantalus. 











Peron's Nume- 




















Mace's Nume- 










Numenius Ibis, 





measured by M. 









Numenius Ibis 





the true Ibis of 




the Ancients. 





Mace's Indian 










Tantalus Ibis. 




of Naturalists 





II ' 

t^ i 



< i 

^ i 



* 2 






S v 





C , 










'o o 

*o '"' 













Let us iiow examine the books of the ancients 
and their monuments ; let us compare what they 
have said of the ibis, or the figures of it which 
they have traced, with the bird which we have 
been describing ; and we shall see all our diffi- 
culties vanishing, and all the testimonies accord- 
ing with what is best of all for the purpose, the 
body itself of the bird preserved in the mummy. 

" The most common ibises," says Herodotus, 
(Euterpe, No. 76.) " have the head and the fore- 
part of the neck bare, the plumage white, except- 
ing on the head, the nape, the ends of the wings 
and of the rump, which are black. * Their beak 
and feet are similar to those of the other 

How does it happen that the travellers of our 
times do not make so good descriptions of the 
birds which they observe as that which Herodo- 
tus has made of the ibis ? How could this de- 
scription have been applied to a bird which has 
only the face bare, and which has that part of a 
red colour, to a bird which has the rump white, 
and not covered over at least as ours by the black 
feathers of the wings ? 

''i r *A>J TttV Xlfyothw , KCX,} TJjV dtlPW TTOKTOtV. AtVK*} TTTtgOlFi , 

xctt civffivos Kail oixpwv rav Trtlpvyotv, x-ett TTW/XIV 

Larcher, in his French translation of Herodotus, has pro- 
perly understood the difference of the words oivftw, the 
nape, and kip or %p the throat. 


And yet this latter character was essential to 
the ibis. Plutarch (De Iside et Osiride) says, 
that the manner in which the white was cut by 
the black in the plumage of this bird, presented 
the form of a lunar crescent. It is, in fact, by 
the union of the black of the last quills, with 
that of the two ends of the wings, that there is 
formed, in the white, a large semicircular notch, 
which gives to the white the figure of a crescent. 

It is more difficult to explain what he has 
intended to say, in averring that the feet of 
the ibis form an equilateral triangle with its 
beak. But we can understand the assertion of 
^Elian, that when it draws in its head and neck 
among its feathers, it represents, in some mea- 
sure, the figure of a heart. * It was on account 
of this, according to Horus Apollo (c. 35.), the 
emblem of the human heart. 

From what Herodotus says of the nakedness 
of the throat, and of the feathers which covered 
the upper part of the neck, he appears to have 
had under his eyes a middle aged individual ; but 
it is not the less certain, that the Egyptians also 
knew very well the individuals with the neck en- 
tirely bare. We see such represented from sculp- 
tures in bronze, in Caylus's Collection of Egyp- 
tian Antiquities (vol. i. pi. x. no. 4., and vol. v. 

* Mian, lib. v. cap. 29- 


pi. xi. no. 1.) This last figure is even so like 
our bird represented in pi. v., that it might be 
said that it was taken from it. 

The paintings of Herculaneum no longer leave 
any doubt on the subject. Plates 138 and 140 
of David's edition, and vol. ii. p. 315, pi. 59, and 
p. 321, pi. 60 of the original edition, which re- 
present Egyptian ceremonies, shew several ibises 
walking in the court of the temples. The cha- 
racteristic blackness of the head and neck are in 
particular recognised, and it is easily seen from 
the proportion which their figure bears to the 
persons in the painting, that it must have been a 
bird of half a metre at the most, and not of a 
metre, or thereabouts, like the Tantalus ibis. 

The mosaic of Palestine, also presents in its 
middle part several ibises perched upon buildings. 
They differ in nothing from those of the paint- 
ings of Herculaneum. A Sardonyx of Dr 
Mead's Collection, copied by Shaw, App. pi. v., 
and representing an ibis, seems to be a miniature 
of the bird which we have described. A medal 
of Adrian, in large bronze, represented in the 
Farnesian Museum, vol. vi. pi. xxviii. fig. 16, 
and another of the same emperor, in silver, repre- 
sented in vol. iii. pi. vi. fig. 9, afford figures of 
the ibis, which, notwithstanding their smallnes s, 
are pretty like our bird. 

With regard to the figures of the ibis, sculp- 


tured upon the plinth of the statue of the Nile, 
at Belvedere, and upon the copy of it at the gar- 
den of the Tuileries, they are not sufficiently 
finished to serve as proofs ; but among the hiero- 
glyphics of which the Institute of Egypt has 
caused impressions to be made upon the spot, 
there are several which distinctly represent our 
bird. In plate iii. fig. 1, we give one of these 
impressions which M. Geoffroy has had the po- 
liteness to communicate to us. 

We insist particularly on this latter figure, 
because it is the most authentic of all, having 
been made at the time, and on the spot where 
the ibis was worshipped, and being cotemporary 
with its mummies ; while those which we have 
cited above, having been made in Italy, and by 
artists who did not profess the Egyptian worship, 
might have been less faithful. 

We owe to Bruce the justice of saying, that 
he recognised the bird which he describes under 
the name of Abou-Hannes, as the true ibis. 
He says expressly, that this bird appeared to him 
to resemble that which the mummy pitchers con- 
tained ; and further, that this Abou-Hannes, or 
Father John, is very common on the banks of 
the Nile, while he never saw there the bird re- 
presented by Buffon, under the name of the 
White Ibis of Egypt. 

M. Savigny, one of the naturalists of the ex- 


pedition to Egypt, equally asserts his not having 
seen the Tantalus in that country, but he ob- 
tained a great number of our Numenlus near 
the Lake Menzale, in Lower Egypt, and carried 
their skins with him. 

The Abou-Hannes has been placed by La- 
tham, in his Index Ornithologicus, under the 
name of Tantalus ^Ethiopicus ; but he does 
not speak of Bruce's conjecture respecting its 
identity with the ibis. The travellers before and 
after Bruce appear to have all been in error. Be- 
lon thought that the white ibis was the stork, in 
which he evidently contradicted all testimony on 
that head. No person has adopted his opinion 
in this matter, excepting the apothecaries, who 
have taken the stork for an emblem, because they 
have confounded it with the ibis, to which the 
invention of clysters is attributed *. 

Prosper Alpinus, who relates that this inven- 
tion is due to the ibis, gives no description of 
this bird in his Medicine of the Egyptians^ . In 
his Natural History of Egypt, he speaks of it 
only after Herodotus, to whose account he only 
adds, without doubt from a passage of Strabo, 

, lib. ii. cap. xxxv ; Plut. De Solert. An. ; Cic. 
de Nat. Deor. lib. ii. ; Phil, de Anim. prop. 16. &c. 

t De Med. Mgypt. lib. i. fol. i* vers. Paris Edition, 
1646. 3 


which I shall mention farther on, that that bird 
resembles the stork in size and figure. He men- 
tions his having been informed that white and 
black ones occurred in abundance on the edges of 
the Nile ; but it is evident from his very expres- 
sions, that he did not believe it had been seen 
there *. 

Shaw says of the ibis,f that it is at the present 
day excessively rare, and that he has never seen 
it. His Emseesy, or ox-bird, which Gmelin 
very improperly refers to the Tantalus Ibis, is of 
the size of the curlew, with the body white, and 
the beak and feet red. It frequents the mea- 
dows, where it follows the cattle ; its flesh is not 
well tasted, and corrupts quickly. It is easy to 
see that this is not the Tantalus, and still less the 
Ibis of the ancients. 

Hasselquist was not acquainted with the white 
Ibis nor with the black one , his Ardea Ibis is a 
small heron, which has the beak straight. Lin- 
naeus had acted very properly in placing it among 
the herons, in his tenth edition ; but he erred, as 
I have said, in transporting it afterwards as a sy- 
nonym to the genus Tantalus. 

* Her. JEgypt. lib. iv. cap. i. t. i. p. 199 of the Leyden 
t See the French Translation, vol. ii. p. 167. 



Demaillet * conjectures that the ibis might be 
the bird peculiar to Egypt, and which was named 
Pharaoh's Fowl (Chapon de Pharaon), and at 
Aleppo Saphan-bacha. It devours serpents. 
There are of them white, and white and black ; 
and it follows, for more than a hundred leagues, 
the caravans which go from Cairo to Mecca, for 
the purpose of feeding upon the carcases of ani- 
mals which are killed during the journey, while 
at any other time there is not one seen along this 
route. But the author does not consider this con- 
jecture as certain ; he even says, that we must 
give up understanding the ancients, when they 
have spoken so as not to be understood. He 
ends with concluding, that the ancients have 
perhaps indiscriminately comprehended under the 
name of Ibis, all birds which rendered to Egypt 
the service of clearing it of the dangerous reptiles 
which this climate produces in abundance, such 
as the vulture, the falcon, the stork, the sparrow- 
hawk, &c. 

He had reason not to regard his Pharaoh's 
fowl as the ibis ; for, although its description is 
very imperfect, and although Buffon fancied he 
recognised the ibis in it, it is easy to judge, as 
well as by what Pokocke says of it, that this bird 

* Description de 1'Egypte, part ii, p. 23. 


must be a carnivorous one ; and, in fact, we see 
from Bruce's figure (Vol. v. p. 191. of the French 
edition), that Pharaoh's fowl is nothing else than 
the rachama or the small white vulture with black 
wings (Vultur perenopterus, Linn.) a bird very 
different from what we have proved above to be 
the ibis. 

Pokocke says that it appears, from the de- 
scriptions which are given of the ibis, and from 
the figures which he has seen of it in the temples 
of Upper Egypt, that it was a species of Crane. 
I have seen, he adds, a number of these birds in 
the islands of the Nile ; they were for the most 
part greyish *. These few words suffice to prove 
that he did not know the ibis better than the 

The learned have not been more happy in their 
conjectures than the travellers. Middle ton refers 
to the ibis, a bronze figure of a bird, of which the 
beak is arched, but short, the neck very long, and 
the head furnished with a small crest, a figure 
which never had any resemblance to the bird of 
the Egyptians f . This figure is, besides, not at all 
in the Egyptian style, and Middleton himself 

* Antiq. Monum. PI. x. p. 129- 

t Hist, Anim. lib. ix. cap, xxvii, and lib, x. cap. xxx, 


agrees that it must have been made at Rome. 
Saumaise upon Solinus says nothing that relates 
to the present question. 

As to the black ibis, which Aristotle places 
only near Pelusium * ; it was long thought that 
Belon alone had seen itf , The bird which he 
describes under this name is a species of curlew, 
to which he attributes a head similar to that of 
the cormorant, that is to say, apparently bald, a 
red beak, and feet of the same colour ; but as he 
does not speak of the ibis in his journey J, I sup- 
pose that it was only in France that he made this 
reference, and by comparison with mummies of 
the Ibis. What is certain is, that this curlew, 
with the beak and feet red, was not known in 
Egypt , but that our green curlew of Europe 
(Scolopax Falcinellus, Linn. PI. Enl. 819.) 
is seen very commonly there, that it is even more 
abundant than the white numenius || ; and, as it 
resembles it in form and size, and, further, as its 
plumage may appear black, it can by no means be 

* Buffon, Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux, 4to, vol. viii. 
p, 17, 

t Belon, Nature des Oiseaux, p. 159 and 200 ; and Por- 
traits d'Oiseaux, folio 44, vers. 

i Observations de plusieurs singularites, &c, 
Savigny, Meraoire sur 1'Ibis, p. 37, 
|| Idem, ibid. 


doubted that it was the true black ibis of the 
ancients. M. Savigny also made a drawing of it 
in Egypt, but from a young individual only*. 
Buffon's figure is from an adult bird ; but its co- 
lours are too pale. 

The error which prevails at present respecting 
the white ibis began with Perrault, who was also 
the first naturalist who made known the Tanta- 
lus ibis of the present day. This error, adopted 
by Brisson and Buffon, passed into the twelfth 
edition of Linnaeus, where it is blended with that 
of Hasselquist, which had been inserted in the 
tenth, forming with it a compound altogether 

It was founded on the idea, that the ibis was 
essentially a bird that destroyed serpents, and 
upon this very natural conclusion, that, in order 
to enable it to devour these reptiles, it was neces- 
sary for it to have a sharp beak, more or less re- 
sembling that of the heron. This idea is even 
the only good objection that can be made against 
the identity of our bird to the ibis. How, it is 
urged, could a bird with a weak bill, a curlew, 
devour those dangerous reptiles ? 

It may be replied, that positive proofs, such 
descriptions, figures, and mummies, ought always 

* See the Great Work on Egypt, Natural History of 
Birds, pi. vii. fig, 2. 


to preponderate over accounts of habits too often 
imagined without any other motive than to jus- 
tify the different worships rendered to animals. 
It might be added, the serpents from which the 
ibis delivered Egypt, are represented to us as very 
venomous, but not as very large. I have even 
obtained a direct proof that the birds preserved 
as mummies, which have had a beak precisely si- 
milar to that of our bird, were true serpent eat- 
ers ; for I found in one of their mummies the still 
undigested remains of the skin and scales of ser- 
pents, which I have deposited in our anatomical 

But, at the present day, M. Savigny, who has 
observed, in a living state, and more than once 
dissected our white numenius, the bird which 
every thing concurs to prove to have been the 
ibis, asserts that it only eats worms, fresh water 
shells, and other small animals of that sort. Sup- 
posing this fact to have no exception, all that 
can be concluded from it is, that the Egyptians, 
as has happened more than once to them and 
others, had invented a false reason for an absurd 
worship. It is true that Herodotus says, he saw, 
in a place on the borders of the desert *, near 

* Euterpe, cap. Ixxv. Herodotus says a place in Arabia, 
but it is not seen how a place in Arabia could have been 
near the city of Buto, which was in the western part of the 


Buto, a narrow gorge, in which a multitude of 
bones were heaped up, which he was informed 
were remains of winged serpents, that were seek- 
ing to penetrate into Egypt in spring, and that 
the ibises had arrested their passage. But he 
does not say that he had witnessed their combats, 
or that he had seen those winged serpents in their 
entire state. The whole of his testimony, there- 
fore, reduces itself to this, that he had observed a 
heap of bones, which may very well have been 
those of the multitude of reptiles and other ani- 
mals which the inundation destroyed every year, 
and whose bodies it would naturally carry to the 
places where it was stopped, to the borders of the 
desert, and which must by preference have accu- 
mulated in a narrow gorge. 

However, it is equally from this idea of the 
combats of the ibis with serpents, that Cicero 
gives that bird a horny and strong beak *. Ha- 
ving never been in Egypt, he imagined that this 
must have been the case by mere analogy. 

I am aware that Strabo says somewhere, that 
the ibis resembles the stork in form and size f , 
and that this author ought to have known it well, 
since he asserts that in his time the streets and 

* Avis excelsa, cruribus rigidis, corneo proceroque ros* 
tvo. Cic, de Nat. Deor. lib. i. 
t Strabo, lib. xvii. 


cross- ways of Alexandria were so filled with them, 
that they proved a great inconvenience ; but he 
must have spoken of it from memory. His tes- 
timony cannot he received when he contradicts all 
the rest, and especially when the bird itself is 
there to refute him. 

In like manner, I shall not trouble myself 
about the passage where Mlian * relates, accord- 
ing to the Egyptian embalmers, that the intes- 
tines of the ibis are eighty-six cubits long. The 
Egyptian priests of all classes have been guilty of 
so many extravagancies with regard to Natural 
History, that no great importance can be attribu- 
ted to wh? t one of their lowest classes might aver. 
An objection might still be drawn against my 
opinion from the long attenuated and black fea- 
thers which cover the rump of our bird, and of 
which some traces also are seen in Bruce's figure 
of the Ahou-Hannes. The ancients, it might be 
said, do not speak of them in their descriptions, 
and their figures do not exhibit them. But I 
have more on my side, in respect to this matter, 
than a written testimony or a figured representa- 
tion. I have found precisely the same feathers 
in one of the Saccara mummies ; I kept them 
carefully as being at once a singular monument 

* -Elian, Anim. lib. x, cap, xxix, 


of antiquity and a peremptory proof of the iden- 
tity of species. These feathers having an uncom- 
mon form, and not occurring, I believe, in any 
other curlew, leave, in fact, no doubt respecting 
the accuracy of my opinion. 

I conclude this memoir with a view of its re- 
sults : 

1. The Tantalus Ibis of Linnaeus ought to 
constitute a separate genus, along with the Tan- 
talus Loculator. Their character would be : 
Itostrum l<zve, validum, arcuatum, aplce utrin- 
que emarginatum. 

2. The other Tantali of the last editions should 
form a genus with the common curlews, to which 
the name of Numenius might be given. The 
character of the genus would be : Rostrum teres, 
gracile, arcuatum, apice mutico. For the spe- 
cial character of the subgenus of the Ibises, there 
should be added : Sulco laterali per totam longi- 
tudincm exarato. 

3. The white ibis of the ancients is not the ibis 
of Perrault and Buffon, which is a Tantalus; nor 
the ibis of Hasselquist, which is an Ardea; nor 
the ibis of Maillet, which is a Vulture; but it is a 
bird of the genus Numenius, and of the sub-genus 
Ibis, which has hitherto been described and fi- 
gured only by Bruce, under the name of Abou- 
Hannes. I give it the name of NUMENIUS IBIS, 
albus, capite et collo adulti nudis, remigum apt- 


cibus, rostro et pedibus nigris, remigibus secon- 
dariis elongatis nigro-wolaceis. 

4. The black ibis of the ancients is probably 
the bird which we know in Europe under the 
name of Green Curlew, or the Scolopax Falci- 
nellus of Linnaeus. It also belongs to the genus 
Numenius, and to the sub-genus Ibis. 

5. The Tantalus Ibis of Linnaeus, in the pre- 
sent state of synonymy, comprehends four species 
of three different genera, namely, 

1. A Tantalus, the ibis of Perrault and Buf- 

2. An Ardea, the ibis of Hasselquist ; 

3. and 4. Two Numenii, the ibis of Belonius, 
and the ox-bird of Shaw. 

From this example, and so many others, one 
may judge of the state in which the Sy sterna Na- 
tura still exists, which it would be of so much 
advantage to purge by degrees of the errors with 
which it abounds, and which would seem to be 
every day increasing, by the addition of species, 
characters, and synonyms, made without selec- 
tion and without critical examination. 

The general conclusion of the whole investiga- 
tion is, that the Ibis still exists in Egypt, as it 
did in the days of the Pharaohs, and, that it was 
owing to the inaccuracy of naturalists that the 
species was for some time thought to be extinct, 
or to have been altered in its forms. 




In Civil History records are consulted, medals examined, 
and antique inscriptions deciphered, in order to determine the 
epochs of human revolutions, and verify moral events ; so in 
Natural History we must search the archives of the world ; 
draw from the bowels of the earth the monuments of former 
times ; collect the fragments, and gather into one body of proofs 
all the indices of physical changes^ which may enable us to re- 
trace the different ages of nature. It is thus only that we can 
I Jix some points in the immensity of space, and mark the pro- 
gressive stages in the eternal march of time. 


NOTE A and B, p. 9. 

On the Subsidence of Strata. 

M. CUVIER adopts the opinion of De Luc, that all the 
older strata of which the crust of the earth is composed, 
were originally in an horizontal situation, and have been 
raised into their present highly-inclined position, by sub- 
sidences that have taken place over the whole surface of 
the earth. 

It cannot be doubted, that subsidences, to a consider- 
able extent, have taken place ; yet we are not of opinion 
that these have been so general as maintained by these 
geologists. We are rather inclined to believe, that the 
present inclined position of strata is in general their ori- 
ginal one; -an opinion which is countenanced by the 
known mode of connection of strata, the phenomena of 
veins, particularly contemporaneous veins, the crystal- 
line nature of every species of older rock, and the great 
regularity in the direction of strata throughout the 

The transition and floetz-rocks also are much more of 
a chemical or crystalline nature than has been generally 
imagined. Even sandstone, one of the most abundant 


of the flcetz-rocks., occasionally occurs in masses, many 
yards in extent, which individually have a tabular or 
stratified structure ; but, when viewed on the great scale, 
appear to be great massive distinct concretions. These 
massive concretions, with their subordinate tabular struc- 
tures, if not carefully investigated, are apt to bewilder 
the mineralogist, and to force him to have recourse to a 
general system of subsidence or elevation of the strata, 
in order to explain the phenomena they exhibit. 

NOTE C, p. 13. 

There are many facts, some of which are recorded in 
the Bible, that are hostile to Cuvier and De Luc's opi- 
nions stated in the text, viz. that the bed of the ocean 
was changed at the flood, or last great catastrophe ; and 
that the land, formerly occupied by animals, was hence- 
forth given up to fishes and other marine tribes. We 
are told, for example, that the dove, which was sent 
forth from the ark, found an olive-tree, whence it 
plucked a leaf, to carry back to the patriarch, as a proof 
that the waters of the deluge were subsiding ; and we 
also find that the Assyrian rivers, which originally 
marked the situation of Eden, retained the same geo- 
graphical relations after the earth had been repeopled. 
The natural history of the fossil organic remains con- 
tained in alluvial deposits, is also in opposition to the 
opinion of De Luc. 

NOTE D, p. 19. 


Mitscherlich, in a memoir read before the Royal Aca- 
demy of Berlin, but not yet published, enters fully into 
the illustration of the igneous origin of mountains, espe- 
cially those of the primitive class, deducible from his 
experiments on the formation of minerals by fusion. 
As the view is interesting, we shall here give a short 
sketch of it. 

Have the primitive mountains of our globe, whose 
form necessarily supposes a fluid state, been dissolved 
in water; or has the temperature of our earth been 
raised to such a degree, that the substances of which 
our primitive mountains are formed have become fluid ? 
This question has been differently answered, and the 
solutions given have been attempted to be supported in 
proportion as the observation of geological facts, and 
the inquiries instituted with reference to the chemical 
combinations which compose the earth, have been deve- 
loped. New observations, and the discovery of unknown 
laws in chemistry and mineralogy, must, at the same 
time, open a new field for speculation and observation 
in geology. Of the discoveries of our own times, there 
certainly is none which has exercised a greater influence 
upon mineralogy than that of determinate proportions, 
and especially the result of the researches of Berzelius, 
that the chemical combinations which nature produces, 
are formed according to the laws which he has discovered 

with regard to artificial combinations; a result which 



has entirely changed the aspect of this science, and has 
elicited a new system of mineralogy, in which the natu- 
ral-chemical combinations are ranked with those which 
are artificial ; which affords a confirmation to the laws 
of crystallography, as being the same in both cases. 

It has been objected to the truth of the position, that 
the laws of natural combinations are the same as those 
which artificial combinations follow ; that chemistry can 
decompose minerals ; but that, in the formation of these 
combinations, natural laws have been in activity, which 
art would in vain attempt to reproduce : but this objec- 
tion is groundless. The chemical affinity which acts in 
artificial combinations is a power of nature, as well as 
the affinity which regulates the composition of natural 
combinations : chemical affinity, in general, is a quality 
of matter. In this objection, modifying circumstances 
have been confounded with laws. The chemist would 
very easily refute the objection, if he could compose 
minerals of their elements, and produce artificial com- 
binations similar in all their characters to minerals them- 
selves. From such researches, there would, at the same 
time, be diffused a new light upon geological investiga- 
tions. In this manner many phenomena would be repro- 
duced, which have taken place at the formation of the 
earth ; geological observations would be repeated by ex- 
periments, which might be varied at pleasure, for-con- 
firming these observations ; and the recurrence in nature 
itself would be sought of those phenomena which have 
been produced in the laboratory ; inquiries, which are, 
however, of great importance, because they may be ar- 
bitrarily disposed and arranged according to the theory 
in view. 3 


The importance of such attempts shew the value of 
any experiments that go to prove the formation of mi- 
nerals by artificial means ; and Mitscherlich has been very 
successful in detecting several mineral species formed ar- 

Berzelius has shown, in his Chemical System of Mine- 
ralogy, that the greater part of the chemical combina- 
tions of which our Earth is composed, and especially the 
primitive mountains, are analogous to salts and double 
salts; and that, in these combinations, the silica, car- 
bonic acid, and oxide of iron, act the part of acids ; the 
silica combines with the alumina, lime, magnesia, prot- 
oxide and peroxide of iron, protoxide of manganese, 
potash and soda, forming, with these bases, either simple 
salts, or double salts, in proportions determined by the 
different degrees of saturation ; the carbonic acid is com- 
bined with the lime and manganese, and the peroxide of 
iron with the protoxide. 

The object which should be proposed in these at- 
tempts, of which we speak, is to investigate the relation 
of these bases to the three acids. We find ourselves 
fortunately seconded in this attempt by a branch of na- 
tional industry ; for the complete extraction of the 
greater number of metals depends upon the relation of 
the silica to the above-mentioned bases, the degrees of 
saturation in which the silica may occur with them, the 
greater or less degree of affinity with which these bases 
combine with the silica, and, lastly, the chemical quali- 
ties of the combination formed. It is necessary for the 
metallurgist that he endeavour, in order to attain his 
object completely, to produce, in proportion as the mi- 
nerals differ, different chemical combinations of the sub- 



stances which compose these minerals; but always in 
determinate proportions, either by adding a foreign sub- 
stance, or by regulating the fusion by the choice of mi- 
nerals. The combinations which the metallurgist thus 
produces, are ordinarily minerals which have already 
been found in nature, sometimes even new species. 

During a journey in Sweden, Mitscherlich observed at 
Fahlun, where he made inquiries regarding the ores, the 
scoriae, and in general regarding the extraction of copper, 
in order to form a correct idea of this operation, not on- 
ly some well-formed crystals in the scoriae; but also 
found that the whole mass of the slag had a crystalline 
texture; and that the crystals, and the joints of the 
slags which had a lamellar texture, remained the same 
at different periods of fusion, provided only that the 
manner of operating of the metallurgist remained the 
same. The examination of the crystalline figure of the 
slag proved, that it was that of a mineral which has a 
composition analogous to that of the slag. After having 
made this observation, he found in almost every foun- 
dery which he visited in Sweden, different crystalline 
combinations, which resembled minerals. Thus he found 
at Fahlun, silicate and bisilicate of protoxide of iron; at 
Garpenberg,mica, and several times augite and chrysolite. 
These combinations have not only the same crystalline 
figures, but also all the other characters of the corre- 
sponding minerals. 

I have pursued these inquiries, says Mitscherlich, since 
my return from Sweden ; I have analysed the produc- 
tions which I have found, and the analysis has confirmed 
what the exterior had led to anticipate. I have also aug- 
mented my observations by journeys in various districts 


of Germany ; and farther, I have been seconded in my 
researches by my friends ; so that I now possess upwards 
of forty different species of crystallized chemical combi- 
nations produced by fusion, the greater number of which 
are minerals already known ; some are new species, 
which have not hitherto been met with in nature. 

The occurrence of mica, which forms a predominant 
constituent part of our primitive mountains, as an arti- 
ficial production, gave rise to the following geological 

The artificial production by fusion, of the minerals 
which compose our primitive rocks, appears, according 
to Mitscherlich, to place beyond doubt the theory that 
our primitive mountains were formerly a melted mass. 
Such a state of fluidity, he continues, affords an easy 
explanation of the figure of the Earth, of the increase of 
temperature as we proceed into its interior, of hot springs, 
and of many other phenomena. With respect to this 
theory, we may refer to M. Laplace, who is convinced 
of its plausibility, without grounding his belief upon 
the reasons which chemistry presents. I propose, how- 
ever, to make mention of a few facts, in order to shew 
with what facility many chemical phenomena in geology 
may be explained by following this theory. 

Primitive mountains are generally distributed over 
the surface of the earth : it necessarily foUows that the 
bodies which have composed the surface of the earth 
have participated of the temperature which the primi- 
tive mountains have had at the period when they were 
in a fluid state. The temperature at which water boils 
depends upon the pressure of the atmosphere; and if 
the temperature of the earth increases, we only require 


to diminish the mean height of the sea 32 feet, in order 
to have a pressure of an atmosphere more ; and it is by 
this pressure that the degree of temperature at which 
water boils will also be raised higher. M. Laplace 
judges from the height of the sea during flowing and 
ebbing, that the mean depth of the sea is about 96,000 
feet. Supposing three-fourths of this mass of water 
were converted into vapour, the pressure of this vapour 
would be nearly equal to 2250 atmospheres ; and this 
pressure would so augment the degree of heat at which 
water enters into ebullition, that the primitive mountains 
might be in a state of fusion, without the water with 
which they are covered being heated to the boiling 
point ; for the water which is not converted into vapour, 
and whose quantity is a fourth of the whole mass of 
vapour, according to the supposition which we have 
made, would cover the whole earth, because water ex- 
pands in increasing proportion if the temperature be 
raised, and because the expansion of water is much 
greater than that of the mass of our primitive moun- 
tains ; and, consequently, according to this supposition, 
our primitive mountains are formed, covered with red 
hot water. The great pressure of so many atmospheres 
necessarily modifies the reciprocal affinities of the sub- 
stances which compose the primitive mountains. 

Primitive mountains are distinguished from volcanic 
productions in this, that 'the lime and magnesia, which 
in them are combined with carbonic acid, form with the 
silex silicates and bisilicates. It is necessary that the 
silex, which, under the ordinary pressure, and at an ele- 
vated temperature, expels the carbonic acid, exercise no 
influence under the pressure of so many atmospheres ; 


and it is not surprising that crystals of quartz occur in 
Carrara marble. In volcanic productions, this pressure 
no longer exists, and we should find among these the 
same phenomena which our laboratories and metallurgic 
operations present. Following this theory, the circum- 
stances that primitive mountains contain gypsum and 
carbonates, and that water occurs in quartz, very readily 
admit of explanation. And with regard to this latter 
phenomenon, the observations detailed by Sir Humphry 
Davy afford an additional confirmation of the theory in 

We may explain in the same manner another pheno- 
menon, which is more in connection with the present 
state of our globe. Many observations shew that the 
sea stood formerly at a much higher level than it does 
at present. The water of the sea expands, if the tem- 
perature be elevated more than the land. Admitting 
that the surface of the earth has a temperature of 80 of 
Reaumur, and that the mean depth of the sea may be 
96,000 feet, the height of the sea would then be 4000 
feet higher than it is at present. If we suppose, as may 
be done without committing any great error, that the 
expansion of the primitive mountains is equal to that of 
glass, and that they have been at a temperature of 200, 
and even at a much lower one, the water of the sea 
would cover the secondary mountains, in which we find 
the remains of marine animals. This explanation of the 
former height of the sea appears very simple, because 
the elevated temperature of the earth may have resulted 
either from its original state of fluidity, or from a geo- 
logical revolution, which has destroyed, at the same time, 
the organic beings of a former period. 


If primitive mountains and volcanic formations have 
been fluid, and have crystallised on cooling, it is neces- 
sary that we should retrace in them the same phenomena 
and the same laws which we still observe at the present 
time. If a fluid body become solid by cooling, these phe- 
nomena are differently modified, according to the chemi- 
cal nature of the bodies, and according to the crystalline 
forms which they acquire on cooling ; but the laws remain 
always the same. Mitscherlich says, I am in possession of 
some specimens which explain several of the phenomena 
so often shewn by basalt and volcanic formations. I do 
not possess artificial basalt resembling the natural co- 
lumnar kind ; yet the slags obtained at the furnaces of 
Sahla resemble basalt so perfectly, as to deceive the most 
experienced eye, especially as their cavities contain crys- 
tals of augite. But I have found at Fahlun a bisilicate 
of protoxide of iron, which has in consequence a com- 
position analogous to that of basalt, and which has dis- 
tinct joints. In this slag we perceive that the joints, 
which are parallel to the axis of the prism and to the 
lateral planes of the crystals, are always perpendicular 
to the plane of cooling. This is particularly observable 
in a specimen which was obtained by melting the slag in 
a mould ; on crystallizing it had several planes of cool- 
ing, and the joints are parallel to each of these planes. 
The planes of separation in basalt present exactly the 
same phenomenon as this slag. 

The phenomena which take place when a fluid body 
crystallizes may be observed in sulphur, better than in 
any other body. All fluid bodies, however, and even 
water, on freezing, present the same phenomena. 

If a fluid body has cooled to the point at which it be- 


gins to become solid, for example, sulphur, in a round 
vessel, a crust of sulphur is not formed upon the surface 
of the cooled vessel, and another crust upon the surface 
of the sulphur itself, as might be expected ; on the con- 
trary, if a crystal be formed upon a point of the inner 
surface of the vessel, the crystal enlarges by growing in 
the direction of its axis, and the mass which surrounds 
the crystal remains liquid, and sometimes cools, without 
the molecules arranging themselves in the same manner 
as the crystal already formed. On examining the cooled 
mass, we observe that it shews a lamellar texture where 
the crystal was formed, and that the mass which sur- 
rounded it does not shew this texture in the same degree. 
This explains how veins of large-granular granite traverse 
a small-granular granite, as well as other phenomena of 
the same nature. 

This observation also affords an explanation of an- 
other phenomenon. If the half of the liquid mass has 
become solid, and if the fluid part be poured off, we ob- 
tain isolated crystals, which have been formed in the 
fluid mass. If the fluid part be not pouijed off, and be 
permitted to cool slowly, it contracts, as is the case with 
most bodies, and the contraction produces the same ef- 
fect as the decantation ;* small cavities will be formed, 
and these will be traversed and covered over with dis- 
tinct crystals. We also observe this phenomenon in the 
geodes of primitive and volcanic mountains, in which 
the crystals they contain are of the same minerals as those 
of which the mountains themselves are composed. 


NOTE E, p. 23. 


Numerous large blocks are met with in almost every 
country of Europe, and frequently far removed from 
their original situations. This is frequently the case in 
Scotland : thus, in the Edinburgh district, we have nu- 
merous blocks of primitive rocks, of which no fixed rocks 
occur nearer than in our Highland mountains. 

In the north of Holland, Germany, and the countries 
bordering on the Baltic, enormous fragments of granite 
and syenite are scattered within certain limits. Accord- 
ing to Humboldt, it seems to be now proved, that they 
have been carried southward, with a distribution like 
that of radii from a centre, from the Scandinavian penin- 
sula, during some of the ancient revolutions of our globe, 
and that they have not originally belonged to the grani- 
tic chains of 4 the Hartz and Saxony, which they ap- 
proach without, however, actually attaining their basis *. 
Born, says Humboldt, on the sandy plains of the Baltic, 
and until the age of eighteen, not knowing any other 
rock than these scattered blocks, I could not but feel 
curious to know whether the new world presented any 
thing of a similar nature. I was surprised not to find a 
single block of this description in the Llanos of Vene- 

* Leopold de Buch, Voyage en Nonvege. t. i. p. 30. of the Ger- 
man edition- 


zuela, although the immense plains were immediately 
bordered to the south by a group of mountains entirely 
granitic *, and which presents, in its broken and almost 
columnar peaks, traces of the most violent action -f-. 
Towards the north, the granitic chain of the Silla of Ca- 
racas and of Portocabello is separated from the Llanos, 
by a range of mountains which are schistose between 
Villa de Cura and Parapara, and calcareous between the 
Bergantin and Caripe. I was equally struck with the 
same absence of blocks upon the banks of the Amazon. 
La Condamine had already affirmed, that from the Pon- 
go of Manseriche to the strait of Pauxis, not the smal- 
lest stone was to be observed. Now, the basin of the 
Rio Nigro and of the Amazon is also but a Llano, 
a plain like those of Venezuela and Buenos Ay res, the 
difference consisting only in the state of the vegetation. 
The two Llanos, situated at the northern and southern 
extremities of South America, are covered with grami- 
neae ; they are Savannas destitute of trees. The inter- 
mediate Llano, that of the Amazon, exposed to almost 
continual equatorial rains, is a thick forest. I do not 
remember to have heard that the Pampas of Buenos 
Ayres or the Savannas of the Missouri J and New 
Mexico contain granitic blocks. The absence of this 
phenomenon appears general in the new world. It 
is probably equally so in the Sahara in Africa ; for we 

* The Sierra Parima. 

t T. ii. p. 233, 236, 252, 273, 288, 382, 597, 627, and 633. 
Are there any blocks in North America to the north of the 
Great Lakes ? 


must not confound rocky masses which pierce the soil in 
the midst of the desert, and of which mention has often 
been made by travellers, with mere scattered fragments. 
These facts seem to prove, that the blocks of Scandina- 
vian granite, which cover the sandy plains on the south- 
ern side of the Baltic, in Westphalia, and in Holland, 
are owing to a particular debacle which proceeded from 
the north, to a purely local catastrophe. The old con- 
glomerate (gres rouge), which covers a great part of the 
Llanos of Venezuela and of the basin of the Amazon, 
contains, without doubt, fragments of those same primi- 
tive rocks of which the neighbouring mountains are com- 
posed ; but the convulsions of which these mountains 
present undoubted evidences, do not seem to have been 
accompanied with circumstances favourable to the trans- 
portation of great blocks. This geognostic phenomenon 
is so much the more unexpected, that nowhere in the world 
does there exist a plain so continuous, and which is pro- 
longed with fewer interruptions to the abrupt declivity 
of a purely granitic cordillera. Before my departure 
from Europe, says Humboldt, I had already been struck 
with the observation that there are no primitive blocks 
in Lombardy, nor in the great plain of Bavaria, which 
i$ the bottom of an ancient lake, having an elevation of 
250 fathoms above the level of the ocean. This plain is 
bounded on the north by the granites of the Upper Pa- 
latinate, and on the south by the alpine limestones, tran- 
sition clay-slates, and mica-slates of the Tyrol. 

Boulders, or loose blocks of alpine rocks, are found in 
the lower part of the Alpine valleys, which terminate in the 
great principal valley that stretches between the Alps and 


the Jura, from the Lake of Geneva to the Lake Constance; 
and are also found almost every where in this great prin- 
cipal valley. They are sometimes met with 4000 feet 
above the level of the sea, on the side of the Jura, facing 
the Alps, and also in considerable numbers in many of 
the valleys of the Jura itself. These blocks occur only 
on the surface, never in any solid rock, and no one ever 
met with them in the subjacent strata of sandstone, marl, 
or conglomerate of the hills and valleys, interposed be- 
tween the Alps ^nd the Jura ; but they are sometimes 
found deep in the soil, or imbedded or surrounded with 
the debris formed by rivers. 

The traveller is often surprised by the enormous mag- 
nitude of these loose blocks, some of them being calcu- 
lated to contain 50,000 cubic feet. The smaller masses 
are distinguished from those brought down by rivers, 
by their position, that is, their occurring on heights and 
acclivities, where no river could ever have run. They 
may also be confounded with blocks from decaying con- 
glomerate ; hence it is proper to be on our guard, not on- 
ly to distinguish these blocks from those derived from 
conglomerate rocks, but also from the rolled masses be- 
longing to river courses. 

The height at which they are found does not appear 
to have any relation to their magnitude, for we often 
find very large blocks at considerable heights, and also 
in deep valleys ; and we also meet with small masses 
as well in the bottoms of valleys, as high up on the 

They occur sometimes in heaps, or dispersed in single 
blocks ; but these relations have no connection with their 
magnitude, because we often find large and small masses 


in the same heap, and single, large, and small, blocks on 
mountain summits, and in the bottoms of valleys. The 
smaller blocks are more or less rounded, but seldom so 
much so as the boulders of rivers, which have been ex- 
posed to long continued friction. The larger blocks are 
indeed angular, but not sharp edged. But in examin- 
ing this relation, we must carefully distinguish whether 
or not the angles or edges are original, or have been pro- 
duced by subsequent, natural, or artificial causes. Very 
often masses of this description are blasted with gun- 
powder, either with the view of clearing the fields, or 
of obtaining stones for building; and these, if left on 
the ground, may lead into error. 

These blocks vary in their nature, some being of the 
primitive class, while others belong to those of the tran- 
sition and secondary classes. In general, they appertain 
to rock formations, situated nearer to the central alpine 
chains than those of the places where they are found. 
Thus, no rocks of the transition class occur in gneiss val- 
leys ; no alpine limestone in transition valleys ; and, in 
general, nowhere but in Jura, do blocks of Jura lime- 
stone make their appearance. Therefore, all the loose 
blocks of rocks between the Jura and the Alps, belong to 
the strata of the high chains of the Alps. 

But these blocks have different characters in different 
districts. The loose blocks which occur in the river ba- 
sin of the Rhone, and the Lake of Geneva, are quite dif- 
ferent from those which lie strewed about in the river 
basin of the Rhine. These, again, are equally different 
from the loose blocks of the river basin of the Aare, as 
those of the Aare are from the blocks of the Lake of 


Zurich, and the valley of Limmat ; and these in their 
turn are equally well distinguished from the great accu- 
mulations in the valley of the Reuss. It rarely happens 
that intermixtures take place among these different accu- 
mulations of debris, and this is a circumstance which must 
be attended to in our investigation. 

It results from an accurate comparison of these loose 
blocks with those mountain rocks which occur in exten- 
sive chains in the high Alps ; that the loose blocks of 
every known river basin agree with the rocks which form 
the sides of the upper parts of those high Alpine valleys, 
which are in immediate connection with these great water 
basins. Thus the loose blocks of the water basin of the 
Rhine are similar to the rocks of Bundten. We find in 
the Lake of Zurich, and in the Limmat valley, the rocks 
of the Glarner land in loose blocks. The debris in the 
basin of the Reuss consists of rocks of the mountains from 
which the Reuss takes its rise. The loose blocks of the 
water basin of the Aare are similar to the mountain rocks 
of the high Alps of Bern ; and the loose blocks, found in 
the course of the Rhone, occur in fixed rocks in the Val- 

It thus appears that the loose blocks are by no means 
irregularly dispersed over the great valley between the 
Alps and the Jura, but are distributed in the direction of 
distinct water basins. It also appears, that the loose 
blocks are not irregularly distributed in these different 
basins ; on the contrary, that, in some parts of the basin, 
they are accumulated in great numbers ; in other places 
they are rare, and in some situations none occur. 

From the preceding observations, we may obtain some 
hints of importance in respect of the cause of this remark- 



able phenomenon. These loose blocks already occur in 
the alpine valleys, which open into the great valley, be- 
tween the Alps and the Jura. They are found more 
abundantly in the wide parts of valleys immediately be- 
low the narrow or contracted passes, and few occur in the 
narrow, steep, and rocky parts of the valleys. 

Loose blocks are found, at a greater or less height, in 
the smaller lateral valleys that open into the transverse 
alpine valleys, which terminate in the great valley between 
the Alps and the Jura. If these lateral valleys form pas- 
Fes (which lead over into other valleys by a lowering of 
the high mountain chain), which are not more than 4000 
feet above the level of the sea, loose blocks occur, not 
only in these passes, but also more or less widely distri- 
buted in the opposite valleys. In the great principal val- 
ley which stretches between the Alps and the Jura, from 
the Lake of Geneva to beyond the Lake Constance, we 
find these loose blocks dispersed over all the hills whose 
elevation is not more than 3000 feet above the level of 
the sea ; but even here the distribution of the blocks is 
not entirely irregular. The largest are found on such 
hills and acclivities as are opposite the mouths of the al- 
pine valleys, in the great principal valley. The blocks 
are frequently found higher on such acclivities, than on 
the sides of those valleys which may be considered as a 
continuation of the alpine valleys. The loose blocks are 
found every where on that acclivity of the Jura range 
which is opposite to the Alps, and they are found highest 
and largest in those places which are directly opposite the 
mouths of the alpine valleys. In such places, the blocks 
again attain an elevation of nearly 4000 feet above the 
level of the sea; whereas, in the intermediate places, 


which are most remote from the places opposite the 
mouths of the alpine valleys, the blocks seldom reach at 
a height of 2000 feet above the level of the sea. 

In those places where the Jura chain branches into the 
great valley between the Jura and the Alps, loose blocks 
are found in the valleys behind the projecting chains. 
The Jura range is sometimes intersected in places oppo- 
site to the Alps ; and it is remarked, that loose blocks are 
met with in the valleys behind these intersected portions 
of the range ; and that, when loose blocks occur in the 
Jura range, at a distance from the Alps, it is only in such 
places as are directly opposite to the intersected portions 
of the chain opposite to the Alps. 

The circumstance of the non-occurrence of these blocks 
in the sandstone, marl, and nagelfluh, which occupy 
the great valley between the Alps and the Jura, proves 
that that revolution of our globe, by which these were 
dispersed, took place after the formation of these rocks, 
and may therefore have belonged to one of the latest 
changes which have contributed to the present form of 
the earth's surface. 

When we compare the relations of the alluvium of the 
rivers in valleys with those of the loose blocks, their simi- 
larity must strike every one. Thus, rolled masses are sel- 
dom deposited in those places where a river forces its way 
through a narrow passage ; but where an expansion takes 
place, owing to the distance of the banks increasing, the 
rolled masses are sometimes accumulated in whole banks. 
The same loose blocks seldom occur in the narrow 
passages of the transverse valleys in the Alps ; but as 
soon as widenings of the valleys take place below these 
narrowings, the blocks occur in abundance. 


If, during a flood, a rupture takes place in the banks 
of a river, where it is contracted, a part of the stream 
will flow out by the lateral opening, and carry along with 
it rolled masses, even when the opening in the bank does 
not reach to the bottom of the bed of the river ; for the 
mountain stream, loaded with boulders, carries them not 
merely in single masses along its bottom, but the flood- 
water of the stream generally attacks large sandbanks, 
or older beds of rolled masses, and carries along with it, 
accompanied with a terrible noise, whole masses, forces 
them over the lower banks, or through the chasm in the 
bank, and often deposites them several feet high, on an 
immediately succeeding widening of the river's course. 

In the same manner, we observe loose blocks deposit- 
ed on high situations in the lateral valleys of the great 
transverse valleys, and dispersed over the passes into the 
neighbouring valleys. The height of the lateral depo- 
sites of loose blocks, and their position in the passes, and 
their passing into neighbouring valleys, are facts which 
assist us in judging of the extent of the power that may 
have acted during their transportation. 

The striking agreement observable in the phenomena 
of the distribution of the loose blocks from the interior 
Alpine valleys to the interior valleys of the Jura, with 
those in the rolled masses carried along by rivers, must 
lead every one, who reflects on this interesting pheno- 
menon, to the hypothesis, that these blocks may have 
been deposited in their present situations by an overwhelm- 
ing flood, which burst from the Alps. It is true that this 
opinion is liable to many objections ; but still it contains 
a more plausible explanation of the phenomenon than 
any other with which we are acquainted. 


The loose blocks, in the different river-districts, being 
in general separated from each other, or if any intermix- 
ture takes place of the rolled masses of one valley with 
that of another, it being only on their edges, it is highly 
probable that the floods which burst from these valleys, 
and carried along with them the masses of rocks, may 
have been simultaneous, by which the flow of the one ba- 
sin would bound and limit that of the other, and thus 
prevent the water-flood of one basin flowing into the 
neighbouring ones. 

The contemporaneous occurrence of these different 
floods from the Alpine valleys, can alone, on this hypo- 
thesis, explain why this aqueous flood was so generally 
and so highly accumulated in the great valleys between 
the Alps and the Jura, as to reach the height of most of 
the sandstone mountains, and to a great elevation in the 
Jura, where many blocks are found deposited. But if 
the contemporaneous occurrence of these floods is proved 
by the facts already enumerated, to what cause are we 
to .refer this simultaneous bursting of floods of water 
from so many Alpine valleys ? 

We observe, on the north-western side of the chain of 
the Alps, numerous openings, which, by their structure, 
seem to point out the action of violent floods. Let us 
suppose the numerous valleys, in the districts already 
described, closed at their present entrances, or openings, 
as would seem from their structure to have been for- 
merly the case; the consequence of this arrangement 
would be the filling of the Alpine valleys with water, to 
the height of the lowest passes among the mountains, 
and thus an enormous accumulation of water would take 
place. This great body of water, if let loose at once, 
by the bursting of the lower extremities of the valleys, 



would form a flood which would sweep across the sand- 
stone mountains, between the Alps and the Jura range, 
and even ascend high on the Jura itself. This flood of 
water, moving, probably, at the rate of 200 feet in a se- 
cond, and loaded with debris of rocks, would carry 
masses, even these having a magnitude of 50,000 cubi- 
cal feet, some thousand feet high, on the Jura range *. 
Geologists maintain, that the blocks or boulders met with 
in other countries, and arranged as those in Switzerland, 
have been deposited where we now find them, by the 
bursting of lakes ; while those found on the shores of the 
Baltic, are conjectured to have been transported by a 
great rush of water caused by the sudden elevation of the 
land of Scandinavia. Another opinion has its advocates, 
which maintains that these boulders have been spread* over 
different countries by the waters of the deluge. 

NOTE F, p. 26. 


IN this section, Cuvier gives a clear and distinct ac- 
count of several kinds of alluvial formations. M. De 
Luc, in the first volume of his Geological Travels, de- 
scribes the alluvial formations that cover and bound 
many of the islands in the Baltic, and upon the coast of 
Denmark, and gives so interesting an account of the 
modes followed by the inhabitants, in preserving these 
alluvial deposites, that we feel pleasure in communicat- 
ing it to our readers. 

* In Silliman's American Journal there are many interesting de- 
tails in regard to the distribution of boulders in the northern parts 
of North America. 


" During my stay at Husum, I had the advantage of 
passing my evenings very agreeably and profitably at 
the house of M. Hartz, with his own family, and two 
Danish officers, Major Behmann, commandant at Hu- 
sum, and Captain Baron de Barackow. The conversa- 
tion often turned on the objects of my excursions, and 
particularly on the natural history of the coasts and of 
the islands ; respecting which, M. Hartz obligingly un- 
dertook to give me extracts from the chronicles of the 
country. This led us to speak of the Danish islands ; 
and those officers giving me such descriptions of them, 
as were very interesting to my object, I begged their 
permission to write down, in their presence, the principal 
circumstances which they communicated to me. These 
will form the first addition to my own observations ; I 
shall afterwards proceed to the information which I ob- 
tained from M . Hartz. 

The two principal islands of the Danish Archipelago, 
those of Funen and Seeland (or Zeeland), as well as some 
small islands in the Kattegate, namely, Lenoe, Anholt, 
and Samsoe, are hilly, and principally composed of 
geest * ; and in these are found gravel and blocks of gra- 
nite, and of other stones of that class, exactly in the same 
manner as in the country which I have lately described, 
and its islands in the North Sea. On the borders of the 
two first of these Danish islands, there are also blocks in 
the sea ; but only in front of abrupt coasts, as is the case 
with the islands of Poel and Rugen, and along the coasts 

* By geest is understood the alluvial matter which is spread over the 
surface both of the hilly and low country, and appears, according to 
De Luc, to have been formed the last time the waters of the ocean stood 
over the surface of the earth J. 


of the Baltic. The lands added to these islands of geest 
are in most part composed of the sand of the sea, the 
land-waters there being very inconsiderable ; and to the 
south of them have been formed several islands of the 
same nature, the chief of which are Laland and Falster, 
near Seeland. These, like the marsh islands in the North 
Sea, are sand-banks accumulated by the waves, and, 
when covered with grass, continuing to be farther raised 
by the sediments deposited between its blades. In the 
Baltic, where there are no sensible tides, such islands 
may be inhabited without dikes, as well as the extensions 
of the coasts ; because, being raised to the highest level 
of that sea, while their declivity under water is very 
small, and being also more firm in their composition, the 
waves die away on their shores ; and if, in any extra- 
ordinary case, the sea rises over them, it leaves on them 
fresh deposits, which increase their heights. These soils 
are all perfectly horizontal, like those added to the coasts 
of the Continent. 

Some of these islands approach entirely, or in part, 
to the nature of that of Rugen. This island of Seeland, 
on that side which is called Hedding, has a promontory 
composed of strata of chalk with its flints. The island of 
Moen (or Mona), on the south of the latter, has a simi- 
lar promontory near Maglebye and Mandemark ; and the 
island of Bornholm, the easternmost of those belonging 
to Denmark, contains strata of coal, covered by others 
of sandstone. Phenomena like these, evident symptoms 
of the most violent catastrophes at the bottom of the an- 
cient sea, proceeding, as I think I have clearly shewn, 
from the subsidence and angular motions of large masses 
of strata, which must have forced out the interior fluids 
with the utmost impetuosity, it is not surprising that so 


many fragments of the lowermost strata are found dis- 
persed over this great theatre of ruins. 

1 now proceed to the details which I received from 
M. Hartz ; beginning by a specific designation of the 
islands dependent on the province of Sleswigh, such as 
they are at present, belonging to the three classes already 
defined. To commence from the north ; Fanoe, Rom, 
Sylt, and Amrom, were originally islands of the same na- 
ture as the neighbouring continent, but have been since 
extended by marsches*. The soil of these islands, with 
its gravel and blocks of primordial stones, was at first 
barren, as the geest is naturally every where ; but is be- 
come fertile by manure, of which there has been no de- 
ficiency, since those grounds have been surrounded with 
marsch, where the cattle are kept in stables during the 
winter. In the island of Sylt, there are spaces consist- 
ing of moor, but its head of land, which extends on the 
south as far as Mornum, is composed entirely of marsch, 
and is bordered with dunes towards the open sea, be- 
cause, the sediments of the rivers not reaching any far- 
ther, the sea-sand impelled against it by the waves re- 
mains pure, and is thus raised by the winds in hillocks 
on the shore. The shallow bottom of the sea, between 
this island and that of Fora, is of geest : at low water, it 
may be passed over on foot ; and there are found on it 
gravel and blocks of granite. But on the same side of 
Fora there is a great extent of marsch, beginning from 
St Laurencius. Among the islands consisting entirely of 

By marsch, according to De Luc, is understood the new land added 
to the coasts since the last retiring of the water of the globe from the 
surface of the earth, and is formed by the sediments of rivers, mixed 
more or less with sand from the bottom of the sea. J. 


marsch and surrounded with dikes, the most considerable 
are Pellworm and Nord Strand ; and among the Hal- 
ligs, or those inhabited without dikes, the chief are Olant, 
Nord-marsh, Langne, Groode, and Hooge. 

Such are the islands on this coast, in their present 
state, now rendered permanent by the degree of perfec- 
tion at which the art of dike-making is arrived. But, in 
former times, though the original land was never attack- 
ed by the sea, which, by adding to it new lands, soon 
formed a barrier against its own encroachments, the lat- 
ter, and the islands composed of the same materials, were 
subject to great and sudden changes, very fatal to those 
who were engaged to settle on them by the richness of 
their soil, comparatively with the continental. The inha- 
bitants, who continued to multiply on them during seve- 
ral generations, were taught, indeed, by experience, that 
they might at last be invaded by the element which was 
incessantly threatening them ; but having as yet no know- 
ledge of natural causes, they blindly considered those 
that endangered them as supernatural, and for a long 
time used no precautions for their own security. They 
were ignorant of the dreadful effects of a certain associa- 
tion of circumstances, rare indeed, but, when occurring, 
absolutely destructive of these marsches. This associa- 
tion consists of an extraordinary elevation of the level of 
the North Sea, from the long continuance of certain 
winds in the Atlantic, with a violent storm occurring 
during the tides of the new or full moon ; for then the 
sea rises above the level of all the marsches ; and before 
they were secured against such attacks, the waves rolling 
over them, .and tearing away the grass which had bound 
their surface, they were reduced to the state of mere 


banks of sand and mud, whence they had been drawn, 
by the long course of ordinary causes. Such were the 
dreadful accidents to which the first settlers on these 
lands were exposed ; but no sooner were they over, than 
ordinary causes began again to act ; the sand-banks rose ; 
their surface was covered with grass ; the coast was thus 
extended, and new islands were formed ; time effaced the 
impression of past misfortunes ; and those among the 
inhabitants of these dangerous soils, who had been able 
to save themselves on the coast, ventured to return to 
settle on them again, and had time to multiply, before 
the recurrence of the same catastrophes. 

This has been the general course of events on all the 
coasts of the North Sea, and particularly on those of 
the countries of Sleswigh and Holstein. It is thus that 
the origin and progress of the art of dikes will supply us* 
with a very interesting chronometer in the history of the 
continent and of man, particularly exemplified in this 
part of the globe. A Lutheran clergyman, settled in the 
island of Nord Strand, having collected all the particu- 
lars of this history which the documents of the country 
could afford, published it in 1668, in a German work, 
entitled The North Frisian Chronicle. It was chiefly 
from this work, and from the Chronicle of Darikwerth, 
that M. Hartz extracted the information which he gave 
to me, accompanied by two maps, copied for me, by 
one of his sons, from those of Johannes Mayerus, a ma- 
thematician ; they bear the title of Frisia Cimbrica ; one 
of them respecting the state of the islands and of the 
coast, in 1 240, as it may be traced in the chronicles, and 
the other, as it was in 1651. 

According to these documents, the first inhabitants 


of the marsches were Frisii or Frisians > designated also 
under the names of Cimbri and Sicambri : the latter 
name, M. Hartz conjectures, might come from the an- 
cient German words SeeJcampfers, i. e. Sea-warriors ; the 
Frisians being very warlike. These people appear to 
have had the same origin with those, who, at a rather 
earlier period, took possession of the marsches of Ost- 
Frise (East-Friesland), and of that Friesland which 
forms one of the United Provinces ; but this common 
origin is very obsure. Even at the present day, the 
inhabitants of the marsches, from near Husum to Ton- 
dern, or Tunder to the North, though themselves un- 
acquainted with it, speak a language which the other 
inhabitants of the country do not understand, and which 
is supposed to be Frisian. It is the same at a village 
in the peninsula of Bremen, by which I have had occa- 
sion to pass. 

The Sicambri or North Frisians, are traced back to 
some centuries before the Christian era. At the com- 
mencement of that era, they were attacked by Frotho, 
King of Denmark, and lost a battle, under their king 
Vicho, near the river Hever. Four centuries afterwards 
they joined the troops of Hengist and Horsa. In the 
year 692, their king Radebot resided in the island of 
Heiligeland. Charles Martel subdued them in 732 ; and 
some time afterwards they joined Charlemagne against 
Gottric, King of Denmark. These are some of the cir- 
cumstances of the history of this Frisian colony, record- 
ed in the chronicles of which I have spoken ; but the his- 
tory here interesting to us is that of the lands whereon 
they settled. 

Jt appears that these people did not arrive here in 


one body, but successively, in the course of many years : 
they spread themselves over various parts of the coasts 
of the North Sea, and even a considerable way up the 
borders of the Weser and the Elbe ; according to do- 
cuments which I have mentioned in my Letters sur THis- 
toire de la Terre et de THomme. These new settlers 
found large marsches, formed, as well in the wide mouths 
of those rivers as along the coasts, and around the origi- 
nal islands of geest ; especially that of Heiligeland, the 
most distant from the coast, and opposite the mouth of 
the Eyder. Of this island, which is steep towards the 
south, the original mass consists of strata of sandstone ; 
and at that time its marsch extended almost to Eyder- 
stede : there were marsches likewise around all the other 
original islands; besides very large islands of pure marsch 
in the intervals of the former. 

All these lands were desert at the arrival of the Fri- 
sians ; and the parts on which they established their first 
habitations, to take care of their breeds of horses and 
cattle feeding on the marsches, were the original emi- 
nences of the islands ; on that of Heiligeland they built 
a temple to their great goddess Phoseta, or Fosta. 
When they became too numerous to confine themselves 
to the heights, their herds being also greatly multipli- 
ed, they ventured to begin inhabiting the marsches ; but 
afterwards, some great inundations having shewn them 
the dangers of that situation, they adopted the practice 
followed by those who had settled on the marsches of the 
province of Groningen, and still continued on the Hal- 
ligs ; that of raising artificial mounts called wer/s, on 
which they built their houses, and whither they could, 
upon occasion, withdraw their herds; and it likewise 


appears, that, in the winter, they assembled in greater- 
numbers on the spots originally the highest, in the is- 
lands, as well as on some parts of the coasts. 

Things continued in this state for several centuries ; 
during which period, it is probable that the inhabitants 
of these lands were often, by various catastrophes, dis- 
turbed in the enjoyment of them, though not discoura- 
ged. But in 516, by which time these people were be- 
come very numerous, more than 600 of them perished 
by one of the concurrences of fatal circumstances al- 
ready defined. It was then that they undertook the as- 
tonishing enterprise of enclosing these lands. They 
dug ditches around all the marsches^ heaping up on their 
exterior edge the earth which was taken out ; and thus 
they opposed to the sea, dikes of eight feet in height. 
After this, comprehending that nothing could contri- 
bute more to the safety of their dwellings, than to re- 
move the sea to a greater distance, they undertook, 
with that view, to exclude it from the intervals between 
the islands, by uniting, as far as should be possible, 
those islands with each other. I will describe the pro- 
cess by which they effected this, after I shall have re- 
called to attention some circumstances leading to it. 

From all that I have already said of the fore-lands, 
and of the manner in which they are increased, it may 
be understood, that the common effects of the waves 
and of the tides is to bring materials from the bottom of 
the sea towards the coasts ; and that the process con- 
tinues in every state of the sea. The land winds pro- 
duce no waves on the coasts, which can carry back to 
the bottom of the sea what has been brought thence by 
the winds blowing against the shore ; and as for the 


tides, it may have been already comprehended (and 
shall soon be proved), that the ebb carries back but very 
little of what has been brought by the flood. So that, 
but for some extraordinary circumstances, the materials 
continually impelled towards the shore, which first form 
islands, would at last unite against the coast in a conti- 
nuous soil. The rare events, productive of great cata- 
strophes, do not carry back these materials towards the 
bottom of the sea ; they only, as it has been said before, 
ravage the surface, diminishing the heights, and destroy- 
ing the effect of vegetation. These, then, were the effects 
against which it was necessary to guard. 

I now come to the plan of uniting the islands, form- 
ed by these early inhabitants. They availed themselves 
for that purpose of all such parts of the sand-banks as 
lay in the intervals between the large islands, and were 
beginning to produce grass. These, when surrounded 
with dikes, are what are called Hoogs ; and their effects 
are to break the waves, thus diminishing their action 
against the dikes of the large islands, and, at the same 
time, to determine the accumulation of the mud in the 
intervals between those islands. In this manner a large 
marsch island, named Everschop, was already, in 987, 
united to Eyderstede by the point on which Poppenbull 
is situated ; and in 995, the union of the same marsches 
was effected by another point, namely, that of Tetenbull. 
Lastly, in the year 1000, Eyderstede received a new in- 
crease by the course of the Hever, prolonged between 
the sand banks, being fixed by a dike ; but the whole 
still remained an island. This is an example of the 
manner in which the marsch islands were united by the 
hoogs ; and the chronicle of the country says, that, by 


these labours, the islands were so considerably enlarged 
in size, and the intervals between them so much raised, 
that, at low water, it was possible to pass on foot from 
one to the other. The extent of these marsches was so 
great on the coast of Sleswigh alone, that they were di- 
vided into three provinces, two of which comprehended 
the islands, and the third comprised the marsches conti- 
guous to the coast ; and the same works were carried on 
upon the marsches of the coast of Holstein. 

But the grounds thus gained from the sand-banks 
were very insecure ; these people, though they had in- 
habited them more than ten centuries, had not yet un- 
derstood the possibility of that combination of fatal cir- 
cumstances above described, against which their dikes 
formed but a very feeble rampart ; the North Sea, by 
the extraordinary elevations of its level, being much 
more formidable in this respect than the ocean, where 
the changes of absolute level are much less considerable. 
I shall give an abridged account of the particulars ex- 
tracted by M. Hartz from the chronicle of Dankwerth, 
relative to the great catastrophes which these marsches 
successively underwent, previously to the time when ex- 
perience led to the means necessary for their security. 

In 1075, the island of Nord Strand, then contiguous 
to the coast, particularly experienced the effect of that 
unusual combination of destructive causes ; the sea pass- 
ing over its dike, and forming within it large excava- 
tions like lakes. In 1114 and 1158, considerable parts 
of Eyderstede were carried away ; and in 1204, the part 
called Sudhever in the marsch of Uthholm was destroyed. 
All these catastrophes were fatal to many of the marsch 
settlers ; but in 1&16, the sea having risen so high that 


its waves passed over Nord Strand, Eyderstede, and Dit- 
marsch, near 10,000 of their inhabitants perished. Again, 
in 1300, seven parishes in Nord Strand and Pell worm 
were destroyed; and in 1338, Ditmarsch experienced a 
new catastrophe, which swept away a great part of it on 
the side next Eyderstede : the dike of the course of the 
Eyder between the sand-banks was demolished, and the 
tides have ever since preserved their course throughout 
that wide space. Lastly, in the year 1362, the isles of 
Fora and Sylt, then forming but one, were divided, and 
Nord Strand, then a marsch united to the coast, was sepa- 
rated from it. 

During a long time, the inhabitants who survived 
these catastrophes, and their successors, were so much 
discouraged, that they attempted nothing more than to 
surround with dikes like the former such spaces of their 
meadow-land as appeared the least exposed to these ra- 
vages, leaving the rest to its fate. But the common 
course of causes continually tending to extend and to 
raise the grassy parts of the sand-banks, and no extra- 
ordinary combination of circumstances having interrupt- 
ed these natural operations, later generations, farther 
advanced in the arts, undertook to secure to themselves 
the possession of those new grounds. In 1525, they 
turned their attention to the indentations made, during 
the preceding catastrophes, in the borders of the marsches; 
the waves, confined in these narrow spaces, sometimes 
threatening to cut their way into the interior part. In 
the front of all the creeks of this kind they planted 
stakes, which they interlaced with osiers, leaving a cer- 
tain space between the lines. The waves, thus broken, 
could no longer do injury to the marsch ; and their se- 


diments being deposited on both sides of this open 
fence, very solid fore-lands were there formed. In 1550, 
they raised the dikes considerably higher, employing 
wheelbarrows, the use of which was only then introdu- 
ced. For this purpose, they much enlarged and deepen- 
ed the interior canals, in order to obtain more earth, not 
merely to add to the height of the dikes, but to extend 
their base on the outer side. At last they began to 
cover these dikes with straw-ropes ; but this great pre- 
servative of dikes was at first ill managed ; and the use 
of it was so slowly spread, that it was not adopted in 
North Strand and in Eyderstede, till about the years 
1610 and 1612. 

Before that time, however, the safety of the exten- 
sive soil of the latter marsch had been provided for in a 
different manner. I have said above, that, when the 
isles of Everschop and Utholm had been united to it, 
the whole together still formed but one large island ; 
now, in this state, it was in as great danger on the side 
towards the continent, as on that open to the sea ; be- 
cause two small rivers, the Trene and the Nord Eyder, 
discharging themselves into the interval between it and 
the land, and by preserving their course to the sea, 
this interval was thus kept open to tempest, sometimes 
from the side of the Hever, sometimes from that of the 
Eyder ; and the waves, beating against the geest, were 
thence repelled upon the marsch. The inhabitants, 
seeing that the expence of remedying these evils would 
be greater than they could afford, while at the same 
time it was indispensable to their safety, addressed them- 
selves to their bishop and to their prefect, of whom they 
requested pecuniary assistance; and having obtained 


it they first undertook the great enterprise of carrying 
the Trene and the Nord Eyder higher up into the Ey~ 
der; keeping their waters, however, still separate for a 
certain space, by a dam with a sluice, in order to form 
there a reservoir of fresh water ; the tides ascending up 
the Eyder above Frederickstadt. They were thus en- 
abled to carry on the extremities of the dike on both 
sides to join the geest ; and the interval between the lat- 
ter and the marsch was then soon filled up, there being 
only left at their junction the canal "above described 
which receives the water of the geest, and, at low wa- 
ter, discharges them from both its extremities by sluices. 
At the same time, the islands of Pelworm and Nord 
Strand were united with each other by means of eight 
hoogs ; and the sandy marsches of which I have spoken, 
contiguous to the geest., on the north of that of Husum, 
were inclosed with dikes. 

After the dikes had been thus elevated, and their 
surface rendered firm bv the straw ropes, though the lat- 
ter were not yet properly fixed, the inhabitants of the 
marsches for some time enjoyed repose ; but on the llth 
October 1634, the sea, rising to an excessive height, car- 
ried away, during a great tempest, the hoogs which had 
produced the junction between Pell worm and Nord 
Strand, these having ever since continued distinct islands; 
it also violently attacked Ditmarsch; and its ravages ex- 
tended over the whole coast, as far as the very extensive 
new lands of Jutland. Princes then came forward zea- 
lously to the relief of their subjects. In particular, Fre- 
derick III., Duke of Sleswigh, seeing that the inhabitants 
of Nord Strand were deficient both in the talents and 
in the means necessary for the reparation and future se- 


curity of that large island, and knowing that the art of 
dikes had made greater progress in Holland, because 
of the opulence of the country, addressed himself to the 
States-General, requesting them to send him an engi- 
neer of dikes, with workmen accustomed to repair them ; 
and this was granted. The dikes of Nord Strand were 
then repaired in the most solid manner ; and the Dutch 
engineer, seeing the fertility of its soil, advised his sons 
upon his death-bed, to purchase lands and settle there, 
if the Duke would grant them the free exercise of their 
religion ; they being Jansenist catholics, and the in- 
habitants of the island Lutherans. The Duke agreed to 
this, on condition that they and their posterity should 
continue to superintend the works carried on upon the 
dikes ; to which they engaged themselves. From that 
time the art of dikes, and particularly that part of it which 
consists in covering them solidly with straw, has be- 
come common to all the marsches ; and the Dutch fami- 
lies, which have contributed to this fortunate change, 
continue to inhabit the same island, and to enjoy the 
free exercise of their religion." 

NOTE G, p. 28. 


In different parts of Scotland, as in Aberdeenshire, 
Hebrides, and Shetland Islands, there are examples of 
the natural chronometer mentioned in the text. In 
Morayshire there is a striking example of the sand-flood, 
concerning which the following details have been fur- 
nished by my young friend the Rev. Mr Ritchie. 


Sand-Flood in Morayshire* 

" Westward from the mouth of the river Findhorn in 
Moray shire, a district, consisting of upwards often square 
miles of land, which, owing to its extreme fertility, was 
once termed the Granary of Moray, has been depopu- 
lated and rendered utterly unproductive by the sand- 
flood. This barren waste may be characterised as hilly ; 
the accumulations of sand composing these hills frequent- 
ly varying in their height, and changing their situation. 

There is historical evidence, that, in the year 1097, 
the Moray Firth overflowed the low country on its south- 
ern shore, and threw out sand. But the destruction of 
the barony of Coubine (which includes the greater part 
of the desert mentioned above) was long subsequent to 
this, as might be proved from the inscription on a tomb- 
stone in the church yard of Dyke. From historical no- 
tices, also, in regard to the Kinnairds of Coubine, pre- 
paring for publication, it appears that the eruption of 
sand commenced about the year 1 677 ; that its progress 
was gradual ; that, in 1697, not a vestige was to be seen 
of the manor-place, orchards, and offices of Coubine ; 
that two-thirds of the barony were already ruined, and 
that the sand was daily gaining ground. 

This sand, which overwhelmed Coubine, came from 
Mavieston, situated on the shore, about seven miles west 
from the mouth of the Findhorn, where, from time im- 
memorial, there have been large accumulations of sand. 
The sands at Mavieston had formerly been covered with 
vegetation. In an act of the Scottish Parliament, dated 
16th July 1695, for the preservation of lands adjacent 
to sand-hills, it is stated, that the destruction of Con- 

A a 


bine " was occasioned by the bad practice of pulling bent 
and juniper ." Having been thus set at liberty, the sand 
moved towards the north-east, as appears from the deso- 
lation which marks its progress. The moving cause is 
the wind. I have had opportunities of witnessing the 
effect of the wind on the loose sand. When the breeze 
is moderate it carries along with it successive waves of 
sand, each wave (if I may be allowed the expression) 
being of a small size, and moving with greater or less 
velocity, in proportion to the strength of the breeze, and 
presenting a very beautiful appearance. When the wind 
is high the heavier particles are drifted forwards, the 
more minute are raised to a considerable height in the 
atmosphere, occasioning no small inconvenience to the 
spectator, who finds his ears and nostrils filled with sand. 
The movements of the sand are still towards the north- 
east. In the winter of 1816 a large portion of Binsness, 
the only remaining farm on the west side of the Find- 
horn, situated in the line of the sand's progress, was over- 
whelmed. Since that period large accumulations of sand 
have disappeared altogether, and rich soil, marked with 
the plough, has been left bare, after having been buried 
for upwards of a century. 

The very minute particles, which, as has been stated, 
the wind raises to a considerable height, are occasionally 
carried across the Bay of Findhorn. In the statistical 
account of Dyke, the parish in which Coubine is situated, 
it is said, " that, at the town of Findern, in a blowing 
day, one may feel the sand sharply striking on his face, 
from the west side."" This sand, of extreme fineness, is to 
be seen in and around the town of Findhorn, and along 
the coast much rich land is said to have been covered by 
sand brought from the west. 


The greater quantity of the sand is drifted into the 
river, and its effects have been very remarkable. Many 
years ago the mouth of the river having become blocked 
up with sand, it cut out for itself its present channel, 
which conducts it, by a more direct course, to the sea. 
In consequence of this, the old town of Findhorn had 
changed its situation, from the east to the west side of 
the river, and its site has since been covered by the sea. 
Previous to this, however, the inhabitants, carrying with 
them the stones of their former houses, had removed 
across the river, and erected the present village. On the 
retiring of the tide from the bay, the river almost disap- 
pears, being swallowed up by the sand, and quick-sands 
are formed. The effect resulting from the same cause, 
the drifting in of the sand is very different at high wa- 
ter. In consequence of the channel of the river having 
been filled up, the bay has increased in breadth. The 
sand constantly carried down by the river has formed a 
bar, which prevents the entrance of large vessels ; and 
the river, probably owing to its increased breadth, and 
this bar depriving it of the impetus acquired in the course 
of its descent, is, at spring-tides, unable to force its way 
into the sea, when it is made to flow back, and inundate 
a considerable extent of carse-land situated at the head 
of the bay. It was at one time proposed to render the 
river navigable by dredging. And it is proposed to en- 
deavour to save the adjoining carse-land, which is of the 
richest quality, from the monthly inundation to which it 
is at present subject, by building a wall along the river 

I venture to suggest, that the plan Nature employs for 
fettering down sand should first be imitated, and that 
seeds of the Arundo arenaria, Elymus arenarius, and 


other plants, which grow readily in sand, should be, from 
time to time, strewed over the Mavieston Hills. The 
seeds of the Arundo arenaria are not always to be had ; 
but plants might easily be procured in abundance, and 
be dibbled into the sand-hills. The circumstance of great 
accumulations of sand having of late disappeared from 
Coubine, has given rise to the expectation, that the ba- 
rony is at no distant period to become again serviceable 
to man. By cutting off fresh supplies from Mavieston, 
this period would be accelerated, and the proposed im- 
provements rendered comparatively easy. 

There is at present little bent on Coubine. It is 
chiefly confined to a range of knolls, which forms the 
southern boundary of the sand, and protects the adjoin- 
ing cultivated fields from its encroachments ; and yet, 
notwithstanding the terrible calamity the inhabitants of 
Moray brought upon themselves, by the pulling of bent, 
this " bad practice 1 ' still prevails ; this plant being in no 
other district of country which I have visited so gene- 
rally employed for thatching cottars 1 houses, and other 
economical purposes."" 

In the Outer Hebrides the effects of the sand-flood are 
also considerable, as shewn in the following notice com- 
municated by my intelligent assistant Mr Macgillivray. 

Sand-Flood in the Hebrides, and other parts of Scot- 

" The bottom of the sea, along the whole west coast of 
the Outer Hebrides, from Barray Head to the Butt of 
the Lewis, appears to consist of sand. Along the shores 
pf these islands this sand appears here and there, in 


patches of several miles, separated by intervals of rock, 
of equal or greater extent. In some places the sandy 
shores are flat, or very gently sloping, forming what are 
here called Fords ; in others, behind the beach, there is 
an accumulation of sand to the height of from twenty to 
sixty feet, formed into hillocks. This sand is constant- 
ly drifting ; and in several places islands have been form- 
ed by the removal of isthmi. The parts immediately 
behind the beach are also liable to be inundated by the 
sand ; and in this manner most of the islands have suf- 
fered very considerable damage. Those of Pabbay and 
Berneray in Harris may be particularised ; in the former 
of which, a tract of about a mile and a-half long, by half 
a mile in breadth, has been converted into a desert of 
drifting sand ; and in the latter a large plain, that was 
formerly noted for its fertility, has been entirely swept 
away. The sand consists almost entirely of comminuted 
shells, apparently of the species which are found in the 
neighbouring seas. It is rather coarse in the grain ; but, 
during high winds, by the rubbing of its particles upon 
each other, a sort of dust is formed, which, at a distance, 
resembles smoke, and which, in the Island of Berneray, 
I have seen driven into the sea, to the distance of up- 
wards of two miles, appearing like a thin white fog. The 
cure of sand drift has been attempted in these islands in 
two different ways. Mr Alexander Macleod, surgeon of 
North Uist, is the inventor of the most efficacious method, 
which is that of cutting thin square turfs from the neigh, 
bouring pasture grounds, and laying them down at inter- 
vals of some inches. In the course of a very few years the 
turfs coalesce, and the stript ground is little the worse; for 
the roots remaining in it, a new vegetation rapidly springs 
up. The other method was introduced by Mr Macleod 


of Harris, and tried extensively upon his estate. It con- 
sists of planting small bundles of Arundo arenaria, at 
distances of about a foot and a-half. These take root, 
and prevent the drifting to a certain degree. But often 
vegetation is tardy in establishing itself, and if the turf 
plan be not considerably more expensive, it seems pre- 
ferable, because it very effectually prevents the drift, 
and moreover, produces excellent pasture ground ; the 
former of which indications, the planting system, does 
not completely effect, and the latter in a very imperfect 

We may add, as this subject is a very interesting 
one, that further details, in regard to the moving sands 
of Scotland, will be found, on consulting the Statistical 
Account of Scotland, vol. xx. p. 220. In the Appendix 
to the Account of the parish of Dyke, vol. xx. p. 228. 
et seq. there is an account of the Sand-Hills of Maviston, 
which overwhelmed the barony of Coubine, as mentioned 
in Mr Ritchie's communication. In vol. xix. p. 622. 
is a notice of the shifting of two hills of the Ma- 
vieston Range 500 yards in twenty years. In vol. xxi. 
p. 207-5 is a notice of some hundred acres in Duffus 1 pa- 
rish covered uiree feet deep by drift sand ; fourteen inches 
accumulating in one night. In NeilTs Tour in Orkney 
and Shetland 1804, it is observed, that, in the neighbour- 
hood of the Castle of Noltland,in Westra, much havoc has 
been done by the blowing of the sand. No measures are 
there employed for putting a stop to this kind of devas- 
tation. In the 6th volume of the Highland Society's 
Transactions will be found a report of the operations car- 
ried on in Harris, and alluded to in Mr Macgillivray's 
communication. And in Dr Walker's Account of the 


Hebrides, and Mr Macdonald's Work on the Hebrides, 
farther details may be seen. In Jameson's Account of the 
Shetland Islands, and in Shirreff and Fleming's Reports on 
these islands, are also facts connected with this devastat- 
ing agent. We may add, that Dr Oudney, Major Den- 
ham, and Captain Clapperton, have added to our know- 
ledge of the blowing sands of the African deserts. The 
coloured engraving of the sand-hills of the African De- 
sert in Denham, Oudney and Clapperton's Narrative, is 
a striking and interesting representation of the form of 
the moving sand-hills of Africa. 

The moving Sands of Africa and their effects are thus 
described in the Mercure de France for September 
1809, by De Luc. 

The sands of the Lybian desert, he says, driven by 
the west winds, have left no lands capable of tillage 
on any parts of the western banks of the Nile not shel- 
tered by mountains. The encroachment of these sands 
on soils which were formerly inhabited and cultivated is 
evidently seen. M. Denon informs us, in the account 
of his Travels in Lower and Upper Egypt^ that summits 
of the ruins of ancient cities buried under these sands still 
appear externally ; and that, but for a ridge of moun- 
tains called the Lybian chain, which borders the left 
bank of the Nile, and forms, in the parts where it rises, 
a barrier against the invasion of these sands, the shores 
of the river, on that side, would long since have ceased 
to be habitable. Nothing can be more melancholy, 
says this traveller, than to walk over villages swallow- 
ed up by the sand of the desert, to trample under foot 
their roofs, to strike against the summits of their mina- 


rets, to reflect that yonder were cultivated fields, that 
there grew trees, that here were even the dwellings of 
men, and that all has vanished. 

If, then, our continents were as ancient as has been 
pretended, no traces of the habitation of men would ap- 
pear on any part of the western bank of the Nile, which 
is exposed to this scourge of the sands of the desert. The 
existence, therefore, of such monuments attests the suc- 
cessive progress of the encroachments of the sand ; and 
those parts of the bank, formerly inhabited, will for ever 
remain arid and waste. Thus the great population of 
Egypt, announced by the vast and numerous ruins of its 
cities, was in great part due to a cause of fertility which 
no longer exists, and to which sufficient attention has 
not been given. The sands of the desert were formerly 
remote from Egypt ; the Oases, or habitable spots, still 
appearing in the midst of the sands, being the remains 
of the soils formerly extending the whole way to the 
Nile ; but these sands, transported hither by the western 
winds, have overwhelmed and buried this extensive tract, 
and doomed to sterility a land which was once remark- 
able for its fruitfulness. 

It is therefore not solely to her revolutions and 
changes of sovereigns that Egypt owes the loss of her 
ancient splendour ; it is also to her having been thus ir- 
recoverably deprived of a tract of land, by which, before 
the sands of the desert had covered it, and caused it to 
disappear, her wants had been abundantly supplied. 
Now, if we fix our attention on this fact, and reflect on 
the consequences which would have attended it if thou- 
sands, or only some hundreds, of centuries had elapsed 
since our continents first existed above the level of the 


sea, does it not evidently appear that all the country on 
the west of the Nile would have been buried under this 
sand before the erection of the cities of ancient Egypt, 
how remote soever that period may be supposed ; and 
that in a country so long afflicted with sterility, no idea 
would even have been formed of constructing such vast 
and numerous edifices ? When these cities indeed were 
built, another cause concurred in favouring their prospe- 
rity. The navigation of the Red Sea was not then attended 
with any danger on the coasts ; all its ports, now nearly 
blocked up with reefs of coral, had a safe and easy ac- 
cess ; the vessels laden with merchandize and provisions 
could enter them and depart without risk of being wreck- 
ed on these shoals, which have risen since that time, and 
are still inci ?asing in extent. 

The defects of the present government of Egypt, 
and the discovery of the passage from Europe to India 
round the Cape of Good Hope, are therefore not the 
only causes of the present state of decline of this coun- 
try. If the sands of the desert had not invaded the bor- 
dering lands ffn the west, if the work of the sea polypi in 
the Red Sea had not rendered dangerous the access to 
its coasts and to its ports, and even filled up some of the 
latter, the population of Egypt and the adjacent coun- 
tries, together with their product, would alone have suf- 
ficed to maintain them in a state of prosperity and abun- 
dance. But now, though the passage to India by the 
Cape of Good Hope should cease to exist, though the 
political advantages which Egypt enjoyed during the 
briliant period of Thebes and Memphis should be re- 
established, she could never again attain the same de- 
gree of splendour. 


Thus the reefs of coral which had been raised in the 
Red Sea on the east of Egypt, and the sands of the de- 
sert which invade it on the west, concur in attesting 
this truth : That our continents are not of a more re- 
mote antiquity than has been assigned to them by the 
sacred historian in the book of Genesis, from the great 
era of the deluge. 

NOTE H, p. 30. 
Action of the Sea upon Coasts. 

THE ocean, in its action upon the cliffs and banks si- 
tuated on the coast, breaks them down to a greater or 
less extent, and either accumulates the debris at their 
basis in the form of sea beaches of greater or less mag- 
nitude, or by currents carries it away to be deposited 
upon other shores, or to give rise to sand-banks near 
the coast, which, in the course of time, become united to 
the land, and thus secure it from the further action of 
the sea. These destroying and forming effects of the 
waters of the ocean are to be observed all around the 
coasts of this island ; and beautiful examples of such ac- 
tions are to be seen on the coasts of Ireland, and in 
many of the islands that lie to the west and north of 
Great Britian. In a paper read before the Wernerian 
Natural History Society, Mr Stevenson, engineer, men- 
tions many facts illustrative of the destroying effects 
of the ocean on our coasts. Thus he informs us that 
the waters of the sea are wearing away the land up- 
on both sides of the Frith of Forth, not only in expo- 
sed, but also in sheltered situations, and the solid strata, 
as well as the looser alluvial formations, which owe their 


origin to the destroying agency of the ocean at a former 
period, are again yielding to its action. At Saint An- 
drew's, the famous castle of Cardinal Beaton, which is 
said originally to have been some distance from the sea, 
now almost overhangs it : From St Andrew's northward 
to Eden water and the River Tay, the coast presents a 
sandy beach, and is so liable to shift, that it is difficult 
to trace the change it may have undergone. It is cer- 
tain, however, that, within this last century, the sea has 
made such an impression upon the sands of Barrey, on 
the northern side of the Tay, that the light-houses at 
the entrance of the river, which were formerly erected 
at the southern extremity of Button-ness, have been 
from time to time removed about a mile and a quarter 
further northward, on account of the wasting and shift- 
ing of these sandy shores, and that the spot on which the 
outer light-house stood in the 17th century, is now two 
or three fathoms under water, and is at least three quar- 
ters of a mile^within flood-mark. 

NOTE, p. 32. 

On the growth of Coral Islands. 

OF all the genera of lithophytes, the madrepore is the 
most abundant. It occurs most frequently in tropical 
countries, and decreases in number and variety as we ap- 
proach the poles. It encircles in prodigious rocks and 
vast reefs many of the basaltic and other rocky islands in 
the South Sea and Indian Ocean, and, by its daily 
growth, adds to their magnitude. The coasts of the is- 
lands in the West Indies, also those of the islands on 
the east coast of Africa, and the shores and shoals of the 
Red Sea, are encircled and incrusted with rocks of coral. 


Several different tribes of madrepore contribute to form 
these coral reefs ; but by far the most abundant are those 
of the genera carophylla, astrea and meandrina. These 
Hthophytic animals not only add to the magnitude of land 
already existing, but, according to some naturalists, they 
form whole islands. Dr Forster, in his Observations made 
during a Voyage round the World, gives an account of 
the formation of these coral islands in the South Sea. 

All the low isles, he says, seem to me to be a produc- 
tion of the sea, or rather its inhabitants, the polype-like 
animals forming the lithophytes. These animalcules 
raise their habitation gradually from a small base, always 
spreading more and more, in proportion as the structure 
grows higher. The materials are a kind of lime mixed 
with some animal substances. I have seen these large 
structures in all stages, and of various extent. Near 
Turtle Island, we found, at a few miles distance, and to 
. leeward of it, a considerable large circular reef, over 
which the sea broke every where, and no part of it was 
above water ; it included a large deep lagoon. To the 
east and north-east of the Society Isles, are a great many 
isles, which in some parts are above water ; in others, 
the elevated parts are connected by reefs, some of which 
are dry at low water, and others are constantly under 
water. The elevated parts consist of a soil formed by a 
sand of shells and coral rocks, mixed with a light black 
mould, produced from putrified vegetables, and the dung 
of sea-fowls ; and are commonly covered by cocoa-nut 
trees and other shrubs, and a few antiscorbutic plants. 
The lower parts have only a few shrubs and the above 
plants ; others still lower, are washed by the sea at high- 
water. All these isles are connected, and include a la- 
goon in the middle, which is full of the finest fish ; and 


sometimes there is an opening, admitting a boat or canoe, 
in the reef, but I never saw or heard of an opening that 
would admit a ship. 

The reef, or the first origin of these isles, is formed 
by the animalcules inhabiting the lithophytes. They 
raise their habitation within a little of the surface of the 
sea, which gradually throws shells, weeds, sand, small 
bits of corals, and other things, on the tops of these co- 
ral rocks, and at last fairly raises them above water ; 
where the above things continue to be accumulated by 
the sea, till by a bird, or by the sea, a few seeds of 
plants that commonly grow on the sea-shore, are thrown 
up, and begin to vegetate ; and by their annual decay 
and reproduction from seeds, create a little mould, year- 
ly accumulated by the mixture with sand, increasing the 
dry spot on every side ; till another sea happens to carry 
a cocoa-nut hither, which preserves its vegetative power 
a long time in the sea, and therefore will soon begin to 
grow on this soil ; especially as it thrives equally in all 
kinds of soil ; and thus may all these low isles have be- 
come covered with the finest cocoa-nut trees. 

The animalcules forming these reefs want to shelter 
their habitation from the impetuosity of the winds, and 
the power and rage of the ocean ; but as, within the tro- 
pics, the winds blow commonly from one quarter, they, 
by instinct, endeavour to stretch only a ledge, within 
which is a lagoon, which is certainly entirely screened 
against the power of both. This, therefore, might account 
for the method employed by the animalcules in building 
only narrow ledges of coral rocks, to secure in their mid- 
dle a calm and sheltered place ; and this seems to me to 
be the most probable cause of the origin of all the Tro- 
pical Low Isles, over the whole South Sea. 


That excellent navigator, the late Captain Flinders, 
gives the following interesting account of the formation 
of Coral Islands, particularly of Half-way Island on the 
north coast of Terra Australis . 

" This little island, or rather the surrounding reef, 
which is three or four miles long, affords shelter from the 
south-east winds ; and being at a moderate day's run 
from Murray^s Isles, it forms a convenient anchorage for 
the night to a ship passing through Torres 1 Strait : I 
named it Half-way Island. It is scarcely more than a 
mile in circumference, but appears to be increasing both 
in elevation and extent. At no very distant period of 
time, it was one of those banks produced by the wash- 
ing up of sand and broken coral, of which most reefs af- 
ford instances, and those of Torres 1 Strait a great many. 
These banks are in different stages of progress : some, 
like this, are become islands, but not yet habitable ; some 
are above high-water mark, but destitute of vegetation ; 
whilst others are overflowed with every returning tide. 

" It seems to me, that, when the animalcules which 
form the corals at the bottom of the ocean cease to live, 
their structures adhere to each other, by virtue either of 
the glutinous remains within, or of some property in salt 
water ; and the interstices being gradually filled up with 
sand and broken pieces of coral washed by the sea, which 
also adhere, a mass of rock is at length formed. Future 
races of these animalcules erect their habitations upon 
the rising bank, and die in their turn, to increase, but 
principally to elevate, this monument of their wonderful 
labours. The care taken to work perpendicularly in the 
early stages, would mark a surprising instinct in these 
diminutive creatures. Their wall of coral, for the most 

Vol. II. p. 114, 115, 116. 


part, in situations where the winds are constant, being 
arrived at the surface, affords a shelter, to leeward of 
which their infant colonies may be safely sent forth ; and 
to this, their instinctive foresight, it seems to be owing, 
,that the windward side of a reef exposed to the open sea, 
is generally, if not always, the highest part, and rises al- 
most perpendicular, sometimes from the depth of 200, 
and perhaps many more fathoms. To be constantly co- 
vered with water, seems necessary to the existence of the 
animalcules, for they do not work, except in holes upon 
the reef, beyond low- water mark ; but the coral, sand, 
and other broken remnants thrown up by the sea, adhere 
to the rock, and form & solid mass with it, as high as the 
common tides reach. That elevation surpassed, the fu- 
ture remnants, being rarely covered, lose their adhesive 
property ; and remaining in a loose state, form what is 
usually called a key, upon the top of the reef. The new 
bank is not long in being visited by sea-birds : salt plants 
take root upon it, and a soil begins to be formed ; a co- 
coa-nut, or the drupe of a pandanus, is thrown on shore; 
land birds visit it, and deposit the seeds of shrubs and 
trees ; every high tide, and still more every gale, adds 
something to the bank ; the form of an island is gradual- 
ly assumed ; and last of all comes man to take possession. 
" Half-way Island is well advanced in the above pro- 
gressive state ; having been many years, probably some 
ages, above the reach of the highest spring tides, or the 
wash of the surf in the heaviest gales. I distinguished, 
however, in the rock which forms its basis, the sand, co- 
ral, and shells, formerly thrown up, in a more or less 
perfect state of cohesion. Small pieces of wood, pumice 
stone, and other extraneous bodies which chance had 
mixed with the calcareous substances when the cohesion 


began, were inclosed in the rock ; and in some cases were 
still separable from it without much force. The upper 
part of the island is a mixture of the same substances in a 
loose state, with a little vegetable soil ; and is covered 
with the casuarina and a variety of other trees and 
shrubs, which give food to parroquets, pigeons, and some 
other birds ; to whose ancestors, it is probable, the island 
was originally indebted for this vegetation." 

Mr Chamisso, who accompanied Kotzebue in his voy- 
age, has published interesting observations on this sub- 
ject. He informs us that the low islands of the South 
Sea and Indian Ocean owe their origin principally to the 
operations of several species of coral. Their situation 
with respect to each other, as they often form rows, their 
union in several places in large groups, and .their total 
absence in other parts of the same seas, induce us to con- 
clude, that the corals have founded their building on shoals 
of the sea ; or, to speak more correctly, on the tops of 
mountains lying under water. On the one side, as they in- 
crease, they continue to approach the surface of the sea, 
on the other side they enlarge the extent of their earth. 
The larger species of corals, which form blocks, measur- 
ing several fathoms in thickness, seem to prefer the 
more violent surf on the external edge of the reef ; this, 
and the obstacles opposed to the continuation of their 
life, in the middle of a broad reef, by the amassing of 
the shells abandoned by the animals, and fragments of 
corals, are probably the reason that the outer edge of the 
reef first approaches the surface, As soon as it has 
reached such a height, that it remains almost dry at low 
water, the corals leave off building higher ; sea-shells, 
fragments of coral, shells of echini, and their broken off 
prickles, are united by the burning sun, through the me- 


dium of the cementing calcareous sand, which has arisen 
from the pulverization of the above mentioned shells into 
one whole or solid stone, which, strengthened by the con- 
tinual throwing up of new materials, gradually increases 
in thickness till it at last becomes so high, that it is cover- 
ed only during some seasons of the year by the high 
tides. The heat of the sun so penetrates the mass of 
stone when it is dry, that it splits in many places, and 
breaks of in flakes. These flakes, so separated, are rais- 
ed one upon another by the waves at the time of high 
water. The always active surf throws blocks of coral, 
(frequently of a fathom in length, and three or four feet 
thick,) and shells of marine animals, between and upon 
the foundation stones ; after this the calcareous sand lies 
undisturbed, and offers to the seeds of trees and plants, 
cast upon it by the waves, a soil upon which they rapid- 
ly grow, to overshadow its dazzling white surface. En- 
tire trunks of trees, which are carried by the rivers from 
other countries and islands, find here, at length, a rest- 
ing place after their long wanderings ; with them come 
some small animals, such as lizards and insects, as the 
first inhabitants. Even before the trees form a wood, 
the real sea-birds nestle here ; strayed land-birds take re- 
fuge in the bushes ; and at a much later period, when 
the work has been long since completed, man also ap- 
pears, builds his hut on the fruitful soil formed by the 
corruption of the leaves of the trees, and calls himself 
lord and proprietor of this new creation. 

In the preceding account, we have seen how the exte- 
rior edge of a submarine coral edifice first approaches 
the surface- of the water, and how this reef gradually as- 
sumes the properties of land ; the island, therefore, ne- 
cessarily has a circular form, and in the middle of it an 

B b 


inclosed lake. This lake, however, is not entirely in- 
closed ; (and it could not be, for without supply from 
the sea it would soon be dried up by the rays of the sun,) 
but the exterior wall consists of a great number of small- 
er islands, which are separated from each other by some- 
times larger, sometimes smaller spaces. The number of 
these islets amounts, in the larger coral islands, to sixty ; 
and between them it is not so deep but that it becomes 
dry at the time of ebb. The interior sea has in the mid- 
dle generally a depth of from thirty to five-and- thirty fa- 
thoms ; but on all sides towards the land the depth gra- 
dually increases. In those seas where the constant mon- 
soonsprevail, where, consequently, the waves beat only on 
one side of the reef or island, it is natural that this side of 
the reef, exposed to the unremitting fury of the ocean, 
should be formed chiefly by broken-off blocks of coral, 
and fragments of shells, and first rise above the elements 
that created it. It is only these islands respecting 
the formation and nature of which we hitherto know 
any thing with certainty ; we are almost entirely without 
any observations on those in the Indian and Chinese Sea, 
which lie in the regions of the six months' monsoons. 
From the charts given of them, it is to be inferred that 
every side is equally advanced in formation. The lee 
side of such a coral reef in the Pacific Ocean, which is 
governed by the constant monsoons, frequently does not 
shew itself above the water, when the opposite side, from 
time immemorial, has attained perfection in the atmos- 
pheric region; the former reef is even interrupted in 
many places by intervals tolerably broad, and of the same 
depth as the inner sea, which have been left by nature, 
like open gates, for the exploring mariner to enter the 
internal calm and secure harbour. In their external 


form the coral islands do not resemble each other ; but 
this, and the extent of each, probably depends on the 
size of the submarine mountain tops, on which their basis 
is founded. Those islands which have more length than 
breadth, and are opposed in their greatest -extent to the 
winds and waves, are richer in fruitful islets than those 
whose situation is not so adapted to a quick formation. 
In the large island-chains, there are always some single 
islets which have the appearance of high land ; these lie 
upon an angle projecting into the sea, are exposed to the 
surf upon two sides, consist therefore almost entirely of 
large blocks of coral, and are destitute of smaller frag- 
ments of shells and coral sand to fill up the intervals. 
They are, therefore, not adapted to support plants re- 
quiring a depth of soil, and only afford a basis to high 
trees, provided with fibrous roots, (as the Pisonia, Cor- 
dia Sebastiana, L. ; Morinda citrifolia, L. ; and Pan- 
danus odoratissimus, L.), which, at a distance, give to 
these, always very small islands, the form of a hill. The 
inner shores of the island, exposed to the surf, consist of 
fine sand, which is washed up by the tide. Between the 
small islands under their protection, and even in the mid- 
dle of the inner sea, are found smaller pieces of coral, 
which seek a quiet abode, form in time, though very 
slowly, banks, till they at last reach the surface of the 
water ; gradually increase in extent ; unite with the 
islands that surround them ; and at length fill up the 
minor seas, so that what was at first a ring of islands, 
becomes one connected land. The islands which are so 
far formed, retain in the middle a flat plain, which is al- 
ways lower than the wall that surrounds them on the 


banks ; for which reason pools of water are formed in 
them, after a continued rain, the only springs and wells 
they possess. One of the peculiarities of these islands is ? 
that no dew falls in the evening, that they cause no tem- 
pests, and do not check the course of the wind. The very 
low situation of the country sometimes exposes the inha- 
bitants to great danger, and threatens their lives when the 
waves roll over their islands, if it happens that the equi- 
nox and full moon fall on the same day (consequently 
when the water has reached its greatest height), and a 
storm agitates the sea at the same time. These islands 
are said to be also shaken by earthquakes. 

MM. Quoy and Gaimard, in a lately published me- 
moir, propose, !<$, To examine how corals raise their ha- 
bitations upon rocks, and what circumstances are favour- 
able or unfavourable to their growth. %d, To shew 
that there are no islands of any extent, constantly inha- 
bited by man, which are entirely formed of corals ; and 
that far from raising from the depths of the ocean per- 
pendicular walls, as has been alleged, these animals form 
only layers or crusts of a few fathoms thickness. 

The following, according to the French naturalists, 
is the manner in which this addition or superposition 
of madrepores is effected. In the places where the 
heat is constantly intense, where the land is indented 
by bays containing shallow and quiet water, which is 
not liable to be agitated by great surges, or by the re- 
gular breezes of the tropics, there also the saxigenous 
polypi multiply. They construct their habitations on 
the submarine rocks, envelope these rocks in whole or in 
part, but do not form them properly speaking. Thus, 


all those reefs, those girdles of madrepore, which are so 
frequently met with in the South Sea, to the leeward of 
islands, are shoals depending upon the conformation of 
the original ground, which will be perceived to belong 
to it when the direction of the mountains and hills has 
been attentively observed. It is always where the slopes 
are gentle, and the sea shallowest, that the greatest masses 
of madrepores are found. They sprout up if it is calm ; 
in the contrary case, they form only scattered tufts, be- 
longing to species which seem to be least affected by the 
agitation of the waters. 

It has been said, and it is even a matter of general be- 
lief among mariners, say MM. Quoy and Gaimard, that 
there occur in the equatorial seas shoals composed of co- 
rals, which rise from the greatest depths, like walls at the 
bottom of which the sounding line finds no ground. The 
fact certainly does exist in so far v* regards the depth 
spoken of ; and it is this very o*cumstance which is pro- 
ductive of so much danger to vessels, which, when taken 
in a calm and carried away by currents, cannot cast anchor 
in such places. But it is not correct to say that these 
reefs are entirety formed of madrepores. First, because 
the species which always form the most considerable banks, 
such as some meandrinae, certain caryophylleae, but espe- 
cially the astreae, adorned with the most beautiful and 
velvety colours, require the influence of light to per- 
fect them ; because they are not seen to grow beyond a 
few yards of depth ; and because they cannot consequent- 
ly be developed at a depth of ten or twelve hundred feet, 
as they would necessarily be, did they raise the cliffs in 
question. Besides, these different species of animals 
would then almost exclusively enjoy the privilege of living 


at all depths, under all degrees of pressure, and, so to 
speak, in all temperatures. 

Another circumstance to which navigators have not ad- 
verted, which corroborates the opinion here stated, is r 
that, in depths so great as those to which we allude, the 
sea, always agitated at the surface, breaks with force upon 
these reefs, without requiring for that purpose any addi- 
tional impulse from the winds. And by merely attend- 
ing to the necessary consequences of the observations of 
these same navigators, who say (what is very true) that, 
wherever the waves are agitated, the lithophytes are un- 
able to go on with their work, because they destroy their 
frail edifices, we shall acquire the moral certainty that 
these submarine steeps are not produced by these animal- 
cules. But, in these same places, let there occur a hol- 
low, a sheltered spot of some kind, and then they will im- 
mediately raise then habitations, and will contribute to 
diminish the little depth tKat already exists there. And 
this is what may be seen in almost all the places where 
an elevated temperature permits these animals to grow in 

In the localities where the tides are sensi\>lp, their cur- 
rents alone may sometimes form irregular canals between 
the madrepores, without their ever being encumbered 
with their species, from the twofold cause united, of 
the motion and the coldness of the water ; while, on the 
other hand, the flexible alcyonia are seen to multiply 

When these geological dispositions are carefully ob- 
served, we see that the zoophytes rise to the surface of 
the waves, never beyond it \ after which the generation 
which has attained thus far appears to die. It is de~ 


stroyed much sooner, if, from the effect of the tides, these 
frail animalcules are exposed naked to the action of a 
burning sun. When there occur small hollows in these 
heaps of inert spoils, deprived of their inhabitants, which 
are always covered by the water, several tufts of those 
lithophytes are still remarked, which, having escaped from 
the almost general destruction, glow with the most lively 
colours. Then, the families which are developed anew, 
not being able to build on the outside of those reefs on 
which the sea is constantly breaking, draw nearer and 
nearer the shore, where the waves now deadened have 
scarcely any more action upon them, as in the Isle of 
France, at Timor, the Papua, the Marian, and the 
Sandwich Islands ; provided always the waters had not 
a great depth, as is the case at Turtle Island, of which 
Cook speaks, where no bottom is found between the 
madrepore reefs and the island, notwithstanding the 
shortness of the space which exists between these two 

If we examine these animals in the places best adapted 
to their growth, we shall see their different species, the 
forms of which, as varied as they are elegant, become 
rounded into balls, spread out into fans, or ramify into 
trees, mingling together, blending with each other, and 
reflecting the varied hues of red, yellow, blue and violet. 

It is well known that all these alleged walls, exclusive- 
ly formed of corals, are intersected with openings through 
which the sea enters and retires with violence ; and every 
body knows the danger which Captain Cook ran on one 
occasion, on the coast of New Holland, when he had no 
other resource, in order to save himself from destruction, 
than to take the sudden resolution of attempting one of 


these narrow passes, where one is always sure of finding 
plenty of water. And this circumstance also comes in 
support of what we have advanced ; for, if these perpen- 
dicular walls were entirely composed of madrepores, they 
would present no deep openings in their continuity, be- 
cause it is the property of zoophytes to build in masses 
that have no interruption ; and because, again, could they 
raise themselves from very great depths, they would end 
with encumbering and shutting up these passages ; a cir- 
cumstance which does not take place, and probably never 
will, from the causes which we have related. 

If these facts prove, that madrepores cannot exist at 
very great depths, the submarine rocks, which they only 
increase in height, are not, therefore, exclusively formed 
by them. 

We now come to the second part of the argument ; 
and we assert, that there are no islands of any magnitude 
and constantly inhabited by man, that are formed by co- 
rals ; and that the layers which they construct under the 
water, are not more than a few fathoms in thickness. 

We shall commence with the second part of this ques- 
tion. The impossibility of penetrating to the bottom of 
the sea to examine at what precise depth the solid zoo- 
phytes establish themselves, constrains us to confine our- 
selves to what has taken place in former times; and the 
monuments which the ancient revolutions of the globe 
have disclosed to our view, will serve to prove what is 
going on in our own days. We shall mention what has 
been seen in several places, and we shall first speak of the 
island which Peron took for the theatre of the great works 
of these polypi, namely the island of Timor. 

The banks of coral which the sea has left exposed m 


the land, as it retired, are remarkable for their uncommon 
magnitude. The whole shores of Coupang are formed of 
them, and the low hills in its vicinity are enveloped in 
them ; but a few hundred yards from the town, they dis- 
appear, when distinct strata of slate make their appear- 
ance. The corals form a bed over the subjacent rocks 
from 25 to 80 feet thick. 

Every thing announces that, in the Island of Timor, 
there exist no mountains exclusively formed of corals. 
As in all extensive countries, they are composed of vari- 
ous substances. Quoy and Gaimard having coasted it 
for about fifty leagues, sufficiently near to enable them to 
form an idea of its geography, were able to see that it ex- 
hibited volcanic appearances in several parts. Besides it 
abounds in mines of gold and copper, which, in conjunc- 
tion with what we have already mentioned, shews in a 
general way the nature of the rocks of which it is com- 

Perhaps, remarks Quoy and Gaimard, the Bald-Head, 
a mountain of King George's harbour in New Holland, 
which Vancouver has described in passing, and on the sum- 
mit of which he saw perfectly preserved branches of coral, 
might be adduced as a fact in opposition to the opinion 
here advanced. Yet the phenomenon exhibited there, is 
still precisely the same as at Timor, and in a thousand 
other places *. The zoophytes have built upon a basis 
previously existing, and they occupy only the surface of 

* A remarkable fact of this kind is related by Salt, in his second 
journey to Abyssinia. The Bay of Amphila, in the Red Sea, is formed, 
he says, of twelve islands, eleven of which are in part composed of al- 
luvial matters, consisting of corallines, madrepores, echinites, and a 
great variety of shells common in that sea. The height of these islands 
is sometimes thirty feet above high water. The small island, which dif- 


it. For why should this Bald-Head differ from Mount 
Gardner, which, although close by it, is formed of primi- 
tive rocks ? Besides, Peron says, that it has the same geo- 
logical constitution. (T. ii. p. 133.) 

At Rota, one of the Marian Isles, M. Gaudichaud, 
detached from the limestone rock, at about a hundred 
toises [above the level of the sea, branches of true, ma- 
drepores, in perfect preservation. Here are, then, three lo* 
calities in which they are found at great heights. We 
have observed them, say the French naturalists, at infinite- 
ly lower elevations in several other places, as at the Isle 
of France, where they form a bed' more than six feet 
thick, between two streams of lava ; at Wahou, one of the 
Sandwich Islands, where they have not a greater elevation, 
but extend for several hundred toises over the surface 
of the island. In all these cases, it is necessary to distin- 
guish between the lithophy tes, which have, by their living 
powers, formed continuous masses, from those which, after 
having been rolled about, broken down by the water, 
and mixed with sea shells, contribute to form those depo- 
sits known by the name of madrepore limestone. The 
latter sort is nothing but the debris of the former. De- 
posits of this description occur in the Marian Isles, and 
in those of the Papous ; they occur also on the coasts of 
France, and in several other places. 

It would appear from observations made in Timor and 
other places, that the species of the genus Astraea which 

fers from the elevea others, is composed of a solid limestone rock, in 
which veins of calcedony are observed. Does not this small island, we 
may ask, indicate that some cause has prevented the madrepores from 
covering it, while they constructed their habitations in the neighbour- 
hood, on bases which probably must be of the same nature as those of 
the small island ? 


are the only ones capable of covering immense extents of 
surface, do not commence their operations at a greater 
depth than twenty-five or thirty feet, in order to raise 
their habitations to near the surface of the sea. Frag- 
ments of these species are never obtained, either with the 
sounding line, or upon the anchors ; nor do we ever see 
them, unless in places where the water is shallow ; while 
the branched madrepores, which do not form thick and 
continuous beds, either on the elevated places which the 
ocean has left, or on the shores where they still exist, live 
at considerable depths. 

It is evident, then, that these corals have erected their 
fabrics on the^summits of submarine hills and mountains ; 
and that all those reefs of Taiti, the Dangerous Archi- 
pelago, Navigators'* Islands, the Friendly Islands, &c. 
are composed of madrepores only at the surface. 

We thus consider it demonstrated, that the rocks of the 
solid zoophytes or coral, are not capable of forming the im- 
mense bases on which the greater number of the islands 
that occur in the Pacific Ocean rest. 

There now remains for us to state how these animals, 
by their union, are capable of raising small islets. Fors- 
ter, as already stated, has given a very good description 
of the manner in which this is effected. In fact, when 
these animalcules have raised their habitations to the sur- 
face of the water, under the shelter of the land, and they 
remain uncovered during the reflux of the tide, the hurri- 
canes which sometimes supervene, by the agitation which 
they produce in those shallow waters, throw up from the 
bottom sand and mud. These substances are detained 
in the sinuosities and cavities formed between the corals, 
and thus serve to fix them together, and connect them in- 


to masses. Whenever the summit of this new island can 
remain constantly uncovered by the sea, and the waves 
can no longer destroy what they themselves have contri- 
buted to form, then its extent is enlarged, and its edges 
are gradually raised by the successive addition of sand. 
According to the direction of the winds and currents they 
may long remain sterile ; but if the seeds of vegetables be 
transported to them from the neighbouring shores, by the 
action of these two causes, then, in latitudes favourable to 
their development, we presently see these islands becoming 
covered with verdure, the successively accumulated remains 
of which form layers of soil, which contribute to the ele- 
vation of the surface. 

But, in order that this phenomenon of growth be ac- 
complished, the distance from land must not be too great, 
because then the vegetables cannot get so easily to the 
islets in question, which then remain almost always bare 
and sterile. And for this reason what navigators report 
of those madrepore Islands of the Great Ocean, which are 
covered with verdure, and are yet at a great distance from 
any known land, has always appeared to us extraordi- 
nary ; and that so much the more, that, in those vast 
spaces, the violence of the waves, which nothing can 
break there, must disturb the operations of the zoophytes. 
We do not, however, deny the existence of these islands, 
which it would be interesting carefully to examine anew ; 
for, whenever navigators meet with low islands between the 
Tropics, they do not hesitate, in compliance with the ge- 
nerally received opinion, to say that they consist of ma- 
drepores. Yet how many islands, which scarcely rise a- 
bove the surface of the water, recognise no such origin ? 
We may mention, as an example, the Island of Boni, si- 


tuated under the equator, the beautiful vegetation of 
which rises upon limestone. Cocoa Island, near Guam, 
is in the same condition, being also composed of lime- 
stone. In general, if they are inhabited, consequently 
they have springs or lakes of fresh water, we may almost 
be certain that they are not composed of lithophytes, or 
are only so in part, because springs could not be formed 
in their porous substances. Some of the Caroline Isles 
are excessively low ; we supposed them encrusted with 
madrepores ; and as they have inhabitants there must be 
somewhere in them a soil favourable to the accumula- 
tion of fresh water*. 

In restraining the power of these animalcules, con- 
cludes Quoy and Gaimard, and in pointing out the limits 
which nature has prescribed them, we have no other ob- 
ject than to furnish more correct data to the naturalists 
who aspire to great hypothetical considerations, regard- 
ing the conformation of the globe. On reconsidering 
these zoophytes with greater attention, they will no longer 
be seen filling up the basins of the seas, raising islands, 
increasing the size of the continents, threatening future 
generations with a solid equatorial circle formed of their 
spoils. Their influence, with regard to the road-steads 
or harbours, in which they multiply, is already great 
enough, without adding more to it. But, compared with 

* On glancing over the charts of Kotzebue's voyage, we are struck 
at seeing several of these islands grouped in a circular form, connected 
with one another by reefs which appear to consist of madrepores, and 
to present, by this arrangement, a small internal sea of great depth, to 
which an entrance is afforded by one or more openings. May not this 
arrangement be owing to submarine craters, on the edge of which the 
lithophytes have erected their habitations ? 


the masses on which they rest, what are their layers, of- 
ten interrupted, and which must be searched for with care, 
before they can be recognised, to the enormous volcanic 
peaks of the Sandwich Islands, the Island of Bourbon, 
the Moluccas, the Marian Islands, the mountains of 
Timor, New Guinea, &c. Sec. ? Nothing, certainly ; and 
the solid zoophytes are in no degree capable of being 
compared with the testaceous mollusca, with reference 
to the materials which they have furnished, and still con- 
tinue to furnish to the crust of the Globe. 

NOTE I, p. 33. 


About the middle of the last century, a controversy 
took place among the natural philosophers of the north 
of Europe, regarding the alleged gradual lowering of 
the level of the sea in general, and of the Baltic Sea in 
particular. Celsius was the first who introduced this 
idea to notice. He generalised it by applying it to all 
the planets, and was supported by the authority of the 
celebrated Linnaeus. He soon perceived, however, that 
the point could never be settled by mere discussion, and 
that facts alone could lead to any certain result. Obser- 
vation was therefore had recourse to ; and thus the dis- 
pute in question had at least one good effect, that of di- 
recting to the subject the attention of men of science, 
whose situation might enable them to mark the varia- 
tions of level that take place along the coasts of the 




North Sea. The results of investigations undertaken for 
this purpose, are now beginning to be collected. 

In the course of 1820 and 1821, Mr Bruncrona, as- 
sisted by the officers of the Pilotage Establishment, and 
other qualified persons, undertook the examination of all 
the authentic measures that had been established upon 
the west coast of the Baltic, during the last half century. 
The results of this examination are given in a short 
memoir, inserted in the Swedish Transactions for 1823. 
The following table indicates the degree to which the 
level of the sea has fallen during the last forty years, on 
the coast of Sweden, at various latitudes. It is proper 
to remark, that, in some of the places observed, the mea- 
sures were much older, and in some others much more 
recent, than the period of forty years. In both these 
cases, the change of level that must have been effected 
during this period, has been estimated, by calculating 
the mean annual depression furnished by the observa- 

Fall of sur- 
Latitude. face in forty 


Fall of sur- 
face in forty 


Fall of sur- 
face in forty 

East Coast. < Feet. 

East Coast. 


East Coast 


63 59' 


59 17' 


56 10' 



58 44 


56 11 



58 42 


55 53 


61 43 
Gl 37 


58 45 
58 35 



est Coast. 

61 32 


58 28 


55 23 


61 45 


58 11 


55 22 


60 11 


58 8 


57 21 


59 46 


57 50 


57 53 


59 46 


56 41 


Of the facts collected in the course of this investiga- 


tion, the following may be mentioned as tending to sup- 
port the opinion of a fall of level. 

1st, It is generally believed among the pilots of 
the Baltic, that the sea has become shallower along 
the course which vessels ordinarily follow ; but, it is 
added, that this alteration is more sensible in the places 
where the tide collects sand, detached pebbles, and 
sea-weeds, or in those where the bottom is composed of 
rocks. The same observation has been made in the 
neighbourhood of some large towns and fisheries ; for 
example, a hydrographic chart made in 1771, gives six 
fathoms for the mean depth of the sea opposite the har- 
bour of Landskrona, whereas, in 1817, the sounding 
line scarcely gave five fathoms at the same point. 

2d, According to the oldest and most experienced 
pilots, the straits which separate the numerous islets 
scattered along the coast of Sweden, from Haarparanda 
to the frontiers of Norway, received vessels that drew 
ten feet of water ; now they are not practicable for 
boats that draw more than two or three feet. 

3d, The pilots further affirm, that, along the whole 
coast of Bahusia, the bottom undergoes a diminution, 
which becomes sensible every ten years in certain places, 
where it is composed of rocks. Several other parts of 
the Baltic may be cited, in which a similar change has 
been remarked. 

M. C. P. Hallstrom, in an Appendix to Mr Bruncro- 
na^s Memoir, gives the following table of the diminution 
observed in the depth of the waters of the Gulf of 



.3 . 








mber of 






Raholem, parish of Lower Kalix, 










Stor Rebben, parish of Pitea, 










Ratan, parish of Bygdea, 
































Ronnskat, on the coast of Wasa, 










Wargon, on the coast of Wasa, 














Logfrundet, near Sefle, 










Ulfon, in Angermanland, 






It is not demonstrated that the numbers of the last 
column represent exactly the lowering of the water in a 
century ; for it has not yet been sufficiently determined 
if this lowering be uniform, or if it vary at different pe- 
riods, and if it depend upon some local circumstance, 
upon the climate, or upon the state of the atmosphere. 
Nor is it properly established, that this lowering, which 
becomes less perceptible from the north of the Baltic, un- 
til it disappears entirely at the southern extremity, fol- 
lows precisely the same law of diminution as the lati- 
tude. It appears to be uniform in the whole extent of 
the Gulf of Bothnia, and it rises about four feet and a 
quarter in that region ; at Cahnar (lat. 57 5(X) it is on- 

c c 


ly two feet ; but it is not yet known whether it decreases 
in a regular manner between these two places. 

Some authors consider the facts related by MM. 
Bruncrona and Halstrom, as deciding the question in fa- 
vour of those who believe in a lowering of the level of 
the Baltic. The editor of the Annalen der Physik * goes 
farther, and seems to consider it as confirming the opi- 
nion of a general lowering of the level of the sea. In 
support of this opinion, he adduces the traditions and 
observations of the natives of Otaheite and of the Mo- 
luccas and Sunda Islands, regarding the retreat of the 
sea in several parts of their coast. We are disposed to 
stand neutral in this matter. The geographers who have 
collected the greatest number of facts relating to the le- 
vel of the inland seas, and of the ocean in its various re- 
gions, find nearly as many in favour of a rise as in favour 
of a fall of level. The very distribution of contrary in- 
dications, leads them to believe in a partial displacement 
of the mass of waters from one region towards another, 
and even from the one side of an inland sea towards the 
opposite side ; a displacement which might be owing to 
fugitive or more or less durable causes, such as a varia- 
tion of temperature in the polar regions, the action of 
winds and of currents, modified by the greater or less 
quantity of water in the rivers that feed the different ba- 
sins, upon the sides opposed to their direction. 

1824, St. 12. p. 443. 

Malt Brun. Precis de la Geogr. Univers. T. ii. p. 459. ; Cat- 
teau Calleville, TabL de la Mer Bait. T. i. p. 158, 188. 


Are the facts contained in the memoir in question of a 
nature to overthrow this opinion ? They do not appear 
so to us. The two series of observations which are ad- 
duced, only shew a fall upon the coasts of Sweden, pro- 
perly so called, that is to say, upon the west coast of the 
Baltic, and the east coast of the Cattegat. Two obser- 
vations only have been made upon the coasts of Finland, 
toward the extremity of the Gulf of Bothnia. These 
facts would perfectly accord with the opinion of those 
who think that the currents determined from the north 
to the south of the Baltic by the numerous streams 
which rush into itj push the waters toward the south 
shore, that of Pomerania, Mecklenbourg, and Holstein ; 
and that the waters consequently gain upon the land on 
this coast, as numerous historical facts attest, while they 
retire along the northern shores, those of the Gulf of 
Bothnia. Be this as it may, the question as to the con- 
stancy of the level of the sea cannot be considered as de- 
cided, until a long series of observations shall have been 
made upon authentic and perfectly fixed measures erect- 
ed upon all Jhe shores of the different seas, and of the 
different regions of the ocean. Those which have been 
published in the Swedish Transactions furnish import- 
ant documents for this purpose ; and similar ones should 
be begun to be collected in other countries. 

The phenomena exhibited by the waters of the Baltic 
engaged the attention of two rival speculators^ Playfair 
and Deluc ; and their views are often alluded to by geo- 
logists. We shall here state them in their own words. 
Professor Playfair, in his well known and elegant work 
on the Huttonian Theory of the Earth, has the following 
remarks : 


" If we proceed further to the north, to the shores of 
the Baltic for instance, we have undoubted evidence of 
a change of level in the same direction as on our own 
shores. The level of the sea has been represented as 
lowering at so great a rate as forty inches in a century. 
Celsius observed, that several rocks which are now above 
the water, were not long ago sunken rocks, and danger- 
ous to navigators ; and he took particular notice of one 
which, in the year 1680, was on the surface of the wa- 
ter, and, in the year 1731, was 20 J Swedish inches above 
it. From an inscription near Aspo, in the lake Melar, 
which communicates with the Baltic, engraved, as is 
supposed, about five centuries ago, the level of the sea 
appears to have sunk in that time no less than thirteen 
Swedish feet. All these facts, with many more which 
it is unnecessary to enumerate, make the gradual depres- 
sion, not only of the Baltic, but of the whole Northern 
Ocean, a matter of certainty." Playfaifs Illustrations, 
p. 445. 

That indefatigable and accurate observer De Luc, ha* 
the following commentary on the preceding passage . 

" It would be unnecessary- to mention even the two in- 
considerable facts above, if the depression of the level of 
the seas were indeed a matter of certainty ; for the best 
authenticated and the least equivocal monuments of their 
change would then abound along all their coasts. But 
proofs are every where found that such a change is chi- 
merical : they may be seen in all the vales coming down 
to these seas, in which there is no perceptible impression 
of the action of any waters but those of the land, and no 
vestige, through their whole extent, of any permanent 
abode of those of the sea ;^ and proofs to the same effect 


are equally visible, along the coasts of both these seas, 
in all the new lands which have been formed on them, 
and which, being perfectly horizontal from the point 
where their formation commenced, evidently show that 
the water displaced by them has been constantly at the 
same level. Hence appears the necessity of multiplying, 
as I have done, and shall continue to do, for the subver- 
sion of a prejudice of such ancient date, the examples 
of these peremptory proofs of its total want of founda- 
tion. The rock mentioned by Celsius had probably been 
observed by him at times when the level of the sea was 
different ; its known differences much exceeding the 
quantity here specified. As for the inscription near 
Aspo, in a country abounding with lakes as much as that 
which I have above described, if we are acquainted 
with its t terms, we should probably find it to be, like 
many which I have seen in various places along the 
course of the Oder and the Elbe, the monument of some 
extraordinary inundation of the land, from the sudden 
melting of the snows in the mountains, at a time when 
the water had been prevented from running off by an 
equally extraordinary rise of the level of the sea ; of which 
the effects on low coasts may extend very far inland. 

" By this conclusion, however, from these few facts, 
contrary to every thing observed on the coasts of this 
sea, Mr Playfair thinks himself authorised to maintain, 
that the gradual depression, not only of the Baltic, but 
of the whole northern ocean, is a matter of certainty ; af- 
terwards he examines merely which of these two causes, 
the subsidence of the sea itself, or the elevation of the 
land around it, agrees the best with the phenomena ; and 
he decides in favour of the latter, pointing out its accor- 
dance with the Huttonian Theory."" 


NOTE L, p. 119. 


FROM the observations of Werner and others, it ap- 
pears, that the most simple animals are those first met 
with in a mineralized state ; that these are succeeded by 
others more perfect, and which are contained in newer 
formations ; and that the most perfect, as quadrupeds, 
occur only in the newest formation. But we naturally 
inquire, have no remains of the human species been hi- 
therto discovered in any of the formations ? Judging 
from the arrangement already mentioned, we would na- 
turally expect to meet with remains of man in the new- 
est of the formations. In the writings of ancient au- 
thors there are descriptions of anthropolithi. In the 
year 1577, Fel. Plater, Professor of Anatomy at Basle, 
described several fossil bones of the elephant found at 
Lucerne, as those of a giant at least nineteen feet 
high. The Lucemese were so perfectly satisfied with 
this discovery, that they caused a painting to be made of 
the giant, as he must have appeared when alive, assumed 
two such giants as the supporters of the city arms, and 
had the painting hung in their public hall. The Land- 
voigt Engel, not satisfied with this account of these re- 
mains, maintained that our planet, before the creation of 
the present race of men, was inhabited by fallen angels, 
and that these bones were part of the skeletons of some 
of those miserable beings. Scheuchzer published an en- 
graving and description of a fossil human skeleton, which 
proved to be a gigantic species of salamander or proteus. 


Spallanzani describes a hill of fossil human bones in the 
island of Cerigo ; but this also is an error, as has Been 
satisfactorily shewn by Blumenbach. Lately, however, 
a fossil human skeleton has been imported into this coun- 
try from Guadaloupe, by Sir Alexander Cochrane. It 
is imbedded in a block of calcareous stone, composed of 
particles of limestone and coral, and which, like the ag- 
gregations of shells found on the limestone coasts in some 
parts of this country, has acquired a great degree of 
hardness. It is therefore an instance of a fossil human 
petrifaction in an alluvial formation. The engraving 
here given is copied from the Philosophical Transactions 
of the Royal Society of London ; and the following de- 
scription of the fossil remains it exhibits is that of Mr 
Konig, which has been drawn up with great care. 

" The situation of the skeleton in the block was so 
superficial, that its presence in the rock on the coast had 
probably been indicated by the projection of some of the 
more elevated parts of the left fore-arm. 

" The operation of laying the bones open to view, and 
of reducing the superfluous length of the block at its 
extremities, being performed with all the care which its 
excessive hardness, and the relative softness of the bones, 
required, the skeleton exhibited itself in the manner re- 
presented in the annexed drawing (PI. I.) with which 
my friend Mr Alexander has been so good as to illus- 
trate this description. 

" The skull is wanting ; a circumstance which is the 
more to be regretted, as this characteristic part might 
possibly have thrown some light on the subject under 
consideration, or would, at least, have settled the ques- 
tion, whether the skeleton is that of a Carib, who used 


to give the frontal bone of the head a particular shape 
by compression, which had the effect of depressing the 
upper and protruding the lower edge of the orbits, so as 
to make the direction of their opening nearly upwards, 
or horizontal, instead of vertical *. 

" The vertebrae of the neck were lost with the head. 
The bones of the thorax bear all the marks of conside- 
rable concussion, and are completely dislocated. The 
seven true ribs of the left side, though their heads are 
not in connexion with the vertebrae, are complete ; but 
only three of the false ribs are observable. On the right 
side only fragments of these bones are seen ; but the 
upper part of the seven true ribs of this side are found 
on the left, and might at first sight be taken for the ter- 
mination of the left ribs ; as may be seen in the draw- 
ing. The right ribs must therefore have been violently 
broken and carried over to the left side, where, if this 
mode of viewing the subject be correct, the sternum must 
likewise lie concealed below the termination of the ribs. 
The small bone dependent above the upper ribs of the 
left side, appears to be the right clavicle. The right os 
humeri is lost ; of the left nothing remains except the 
condyles in connexion with the fore-arm, which is in the 
state of pronation ; the radius of this side exists nearly 
in its full length, while of the ulna the lower part only 
remains, which is considerably pushed upwards. Of the 
two bones of the right fore-arm, the inferior terminations 
are seen. Both the rows of the bones of the wrists are 
lost, but the whole metacarpus of the left hand is dis- 
played, together with part of the bones of the fingers : 

* See the excellent figures in Blumenbach's Decades. 


the first joint of the fore-finger rests on the upper ridge 
of the os pubis ; the two others, detached from their me- 
tacarpal bones, are propelled downwards, and situated at 
the inner side of the femur, and below the foramen mag- 
num ischii of this side. Vestiges of three of the fingers 
of the right hand are likewise visible, considerably be- 
low the lower portion of the fore-arm, and close to the 
upper extremity of the femur. The vertebrae may be 
traced along the whole length of the column, but are in 
no part of it well defined. Of the os sacrum, the supe- 
rior portion only is distinct : it is disunited from the last 
vertebra and the ilium, and driven upwards. The left 
os ilium is nearly complete, but shattered, and one of the 
fragments depressed below the level of the rest ; the ossa 
pubis, though well defined, are gradually lost in the 
mass of the stone. On the right side, the os innomina- 
tum is completely shattered, and the fragments are sunk : 
but towards the acetabulum, part of its internal cellular 
structure is discernible. 

" The thigh-bones, and the bones of the leg of the 
right side, are in good preservation, but being conside- 
rably turned outwards, the fibula lies buried in the stone, 
and is not seen. The lower part of the femur of this 
side is indicated only by a bony outline, and appears to 
have been distended by the compact limestone that fills 
the cavities both of the bones of the leg and thigh, and 
to the expansion of which, these bones probably owe 
their present shattered condition. The lower end of the 
left thigh-bone appears to have been broken and lost in 
the operation of detaching the block ; the two bones of 
the leg, however, on this side, are nearly complete ; the 
tibia was split almost the whole of its length a little be- 


low the external edge, and the fissure being filled up with 
limestone, now presents itself as a dark -coloured straight 
line. The portion of the stone which contained part of 
the bones of the tarsus and metatarsus, was unfortunate- 
ly broken ; but the separate fragments are preserved. 

" The whole of the bones, when first laid bare, had a 
mouldering appearance, and the hard surrounding stone 
could not be detached without frequently injuring their 
surface ; but after an exposure for some days to the air, 
they acquired a considerable degree of hardness. Sir H. 
Davy, who subjected a small portion of them to chemi- 
cal analysis, found that they contained part of their ani- 
mal matter, and all their phosphate of lime.*" 

NOTE M, p. 128. 

Account of the Displacement of that part of the Coast 
of the Adriatic which is occupied by the Mouths of 
the Po. 

THAT portion of the shore of the Adriatic which lies 
between the lake, or rather lagune, of Commachio, and 
the lagunes of Venice, has undergone considerable alte- 
rations since ancient times, as is attested by authors wor- 
thy of entire credit, and as is still evinced by the actual 
state of the soil in the districts near the coast ; but it is 
impossible now to give any exact detail of the successive 
progress of these changes, and more especially of their 
precise measures during the ages which preceded the 
twelfth century of our era. 


We are, however, certain, that the city of Hatria, now 
called Adria, was formerly situated on the edge of the 
coast ; and by this we attain a known fixed point upon 
the primitive shore, whence the nearest part of the pre- 
sent coast, at the mouth of the Adige, is at the distance 
of 25,000 metres * ; and it will be seen in the sequel, that 
the extreme point of the alluvial promontory formed by 
the Po, is farther advanced into the sea than the mouth 
of the Adige by nearly 10,000 metres (. 

The inhabitants of Adria have formed exaggerated 
pretensions, in many respects, as to the high antiquity of 
their city, though it is undeniably one of the most an- 
cient in Italy, as it gave name to the sea which once 
washed its walls. By some researches made in its inte- 
rior and its environs, a stratum of earth has been found 
mixed with fragments of Etruscan pottery, and with no- 
thing whatever of Roman manufacture. Etruscan and 
Roman pottery are found mixed together in a superior 
bed, on the top of which the vestiges of a theatre have 
been discovered. Both of these beds are far below the 
level of the present soil. I have seen at Adria very cu- 
rious collections, in which these remains of antiquity are 
separately classed ; and having, some years ago, observed 
to the viceroy, that it would be of great importance, both 

Equal to 27,340 yards and 10 inches English measure, or 154 miles 
and 60 yards. 

In these reductions of the revolutionary French metres to English mea- 
sure, the metre is assumed as 39,37 English inches. Transl. 

f Or 10,936 yards and 4 inches, equal to 6 miles and nearly a quar- 
ter, English measure. 

Hence the entire advance of the alluvial promontory of the Po appears 
to have extended to 21 miles 5 furlongs and 216 yards. Transl. 


to history and geology, to make a thorough search into 
these buried remains at Adria, carefully noticing the le- 
vels in comparison with the sea, both of the primitive 
soil, and of the successive alluvial beds, his Highness en- 
tered warmly into my ideas ; but I know not whether 
these propositions have been since carried into effect. 

Following the coast, after leaving Hatria, which was 
situated at the bottom of a small bay or gulf, we find to 
the south a branch of the Athesis or Adige, and of the 
Fossa Philistina, of which the remaining trace corre- 
sponds to what might have been the Mincio and Tartaro 
united, if the Po had still run to the south of Ferrara. 
We next find the Delta Venetum, which seems to have 
occupied the place where the lake or lagune of Comma- 
chio is now situated. This delta was traversed by seven 
branches of the Eridanus or Po, formerly called also the 
Vadls Padus or Podincus ; which .river, at the diramifi- 
cation of these seven branches, and upon its left or north- 
ern bank, had a city named Trigoboli, whose site could 
not be far from where Ferrara now stands. Seven lakes, 
inclosed within this delta, were called Septem Maria, 
and Hatria was sometimes denominated Urbs Septem 
Marium, or the city of the seven seas or lakes. 

Following the coast from Hatria to the northwards, 
we come to the principal mouth of the Athesis or Adige, 
formerly named Fossa Philistina, and afterwards Es- 
tuarium Altini, an interior sea, separated by a range of 
small islands from the Adriatic Gulf, in the middle of 
which was a cluster of other small isles, called Rialtum, 
and upon this archipelago the city of Venice is now seat- 
ed. The Estuarium Altini is what is now called the 
Lagune of Venice, and no longer communicates with the 


sea, except by five passages, the small islands of the Ar- 
chipelago having been united into a continuous dike. 

To the east of the lagunes, and north from the city of 
Este, we find the Euganian mountains, or hills, forming, 
in the midst of a vast alluvial plain^ a remarkable iso- 
lated group of rounded hills, near which spot the fable 
of the ancients supposes the fall of Phaeton to have taken 
place. Some writers have supposed that this fable may 
have originated from the fall of some vast masses of in- 
flamed matters near the mouths of the Eridanus, that 
had been thrown up by a volcanic explosion ; and it is 
certain that abundance of volcanic products are found in 
the neighbourhood of Padua and Verona. 

The most ancient notices that I have been able to 
procure respecting the situation of the shores of the Adri- 
atic at the mouths of the Po, only begin to be precise in- 
the twelfth century. At that epoch the whole waters of 
this river flowed to the south of Ferrara, in the Po de 
Volano and the Po di Primaro, branches which inclosed 
the space occupied by the lagune of Commachio. The 
two branches which were next formed by an irruption 
of the waters of the Po to the north of Ferraro, were 
named the river of Corbola, Longola, or Mazzorno, and 
the river Tol. The former, and more northern of these, 
received the Tartaro, or canal bianco, near the sea, and 
the latter was joined at Ariano by another branch deriv- 
ed from the Po, called the Goro river. The sea-coast 
was evidently directed from south to north, at the distance 
of ten or eleven thousand metres* from the meridian of 
Adria ; and Loreo, to the north of Mesola, was only 
about 2000 metres^ from the coast. 

* Equal to 10,936 or 12,030 yards English measure.- Trans!. 
f Or 2,186 yards 2 feet English Transl. 


Towards the middle of the twelfth century, the flood- 
waters of the Po were retained on their left or northern 
side by dikes near the small city of Ficarolo, which is 
about 19,000 metres* to the north-west of Ferrara, 
spreading themselves southwards over the northern part of 
the territory of Ferrara and the Polesine of Rovigo, and 
flowed through the two formerly mentioned canals of 
Mazzorno and Toi. It seems perfectly ascertained, that 
this change in the direction of the waters of the Po had 
been produced by the effects of human labours ; and the 
historians who have recorded this remarkable fact only 
differ from each other in some of the more minute de- 
tails. The tendency of the river to flow in the new chan- 
nels, which had been opened for the more ready dis- 
charge of its waters when in flood, continually increased; 
owing to which the two ancient chief branches, the Vola- 
no and Primaro, rapidly decreased, and were reduced in 
less than a century to their present comparatively insig- 
nificant size ; while the main direction of the river was 
established between the mouth of the Adige to the north, 
and what is now called Porto di Goro, on the south. 
The two before-mentioned canals of Mazzorno and Toi 
becoming insufficient for the discharge, others were dug; 
and the principal mouth, called Bocco Tramontana, or 
the northern mouth, having approached the mouth of 
the Adige, the Venetians became alarmed in 1604 ; when 
they excavated a new canal of discharge, named Taglio 
de Porto Viro, or Po delle Fornaci, by which means the 
Bocco Maestro, was diverted from the Adige towards the 

Or 20,778 yards 1 foot 10 inches Transl 


During four centuries, from the end of the twelfth to 
that of the sixteenth, the alluvial formations of the Po 
gained considerably upon the sea. The northern mouth, 
which had usurped the situation of the Mazzorno canal, 
becoming the Rama di Trimontana, had advanced in 
1600 to the distance of 20,000 metres * from the meri- 
dian of Adria ; and the southern mouth, which had ta- 
ken possession of the canal of Toi, was then 17,000 me- 
tres ( advanced beyond the same point. Thus the shore 
had become extended nine or ten thousand metres J to 
the north, and six or seven thousand to the south . Be- 
tween these two mouths there was formerly a bay, or a 
part of the coast less advanced than the rest, called Sac- 
ca di Goro. During the same period of four hundred 
years previous to the commencement of the seventeenth 
century, the great and extensive embankments of the Po 
were constructed ; and also, during the same period, the 
southern slopes of the Alps began to be cleared and cul- 

The great canal, denominated Taglio di Porto Viro^ 
or Podelle Fornaci, ascertains the advance of the alluvial 
depositions in the vast promontory now formed by the 
mouths or delta of the Po. In proportion as their en- 
trances into the sea extend from the original land* the 
yearly quantity of alluvial depositions increases in an 
alarming degree, owing to the diminished slope of the 

Or 21,872 yards TransL 

|Or 18,591 yards. Transl. 

$ Equal to 9,842 or 10,936 yards Transl 

Equal to 6,564 or 7,655 yards Transl. 


streams, which was a necessary consequence, of the pro- 
longation of their bed, to the confinement of the waters 
between dikes, and to the facility with which the increas- 
ed cultivation of the ground enabled the mountain tor- 
rents which flowed into them to carry away the soil. 
Owing to these causes, the bay called Sacra di Goro 
was very soon filled up, and the two promontories which 
had been formed by the two former principal mouths of 
Mazzorno and jTo, were united into one vast projecting 
cape, the most advanced point of which is now 32,000 
or 33,000 metres * beyond the meridian of Adria : so 
that in the course of two hundred years, the mouths or 
delta of the Po have gained about 14,000 metres^ upon 
the sea. 

From all these facts, of which I have given a brief 
enumeration, the following results are clearly establish- 

First, That, at some ancient period, the precise date 
of which cannot be now ascertained, the waves of the 
Adriatic washed the walls of Adria. 

Secondly, That, in the twelfth century, before a pas- 
sage had been opened for the waters of the Po at Ficar- 
rolo ; on its left or northern bank, the shore had been al- 
ready removed to the distance of nine or ten thousand 
metres \ from Adria. 

* From 19 miles 7 furlongs and 15 yards, to 20 miles 4 furlongs and 9 
yards, English measure Transl 

f Or 15,366 yards Transl. 

$ Equal to 9,842 or 10.936 .yards. Transl. 


Thirdly, That the extremities of the promontories 
formed by the two principal branches of the Po, before 
the excavation of the Taglio di Porto Viro, had extend- 
ed, by the year 1600, or in four hundred years, to a me- 
dium distance of 18,500 metres * beyond Adria; giving, 
from the year 1200, an average yearly increase of the al- 
luvial land of 25 metres -f*. 

Fourthly, That the extreme point of the present sin- 
gle promontory, formed by the alluvions of the existing 
branches, is advanced to between thirty-two and thirty- 
three thousand metres J beyond Adria ; whence the ave- 
rage yearly progress is about seventy metres during the 
last two hundred years, being a greatly more rapid propor- 
tion than in former times. 


NOTE, p. 244. 
On the Universal Deluge. 

MR CUVIER in the present work, and more recently in a 
note to Mr Lemaire's edition of Ovid's Metamorphoses, 
enumerates the Mosaic, Grecian, Assyrian, Persian, In- 
dian, and Chinese traditions, concerning a universal de- 

Or 20,231 yards TransL 

f Exactly 27 yards 1 foot and |th of an inch English. Transl. 

J Already stated at from 19| to 201 miles; or more precisely, from 
34,995 yards I foot 8 inches, to 36,089 yards 10 inches English measure. 

Equal to 76 yards 1 foot 7 inches and 9-iOths Transl. 



luge ; and concludes from them, that the surface of the 
globe, five or six thousand years ago, underwent a gene- 
ral and sudden revolution, by which the lands inhabited 
by the human beings who lived at that time, and by the 
various species of animals known at the present day, 
were overflowed by the ocean ; out of which emerged the 
present habitable portions of the globe. This celebiated 
naturalist maintains, that these regions of the earth were 
peopled by the few individuals who were preserved, 
and that the tradition of the catastrophe has been pre- 
served among these new races of people, variously mo- 
dified by the difference of their situation and their social 
disposition. According to Mr Cuvier, similar revolu- 
tions of nature had taken place, at periods long antece- 
dent to that of the Mosaic deluge. The dry land was in- 
habited, if not by human beings, at least by land animals 
at an earlier period ; and must have been changed from 
the dry land to the bed of the ocean ; and it might even 
be concluded from the various species of animals con- 
tained in it, that this change, as well as its opposite, had 
occurred more than once. 

This opinion being brought forward in a geognostic 
work, especially in a work abounding in such valuable 
matters of fact, and stated as the result of geognostic in- 
vestigation, we may be permitted, in this point of view, to 
examine it ; and to ask, whether, from the phenomena 
exhibited by the present condition of the earth's surface, 
we are entitled to conclude that it owes its conformation 
to such a universal deluge. *?** 

We know, from arguments suggested by chemistry 
and the higher mechanics, that the globe was once in a 
state of fluidity ; hence it might be maintained with some 


appearance of probability, that the condition of the earth, 
previous to the existence of organic matter, depended 
upon fusion ; and that the primitive rocks are of igneous 
origin. Since, however, granite has been found above 
rocks of various kinds which contain the remains of or- 
ganic bodies, we are under no necessity of ascribing to 
primitive rocks an origin different from that of subse- 
quent formations ; and, without having recourse to other 
arguments, the fact, that aquatic animals are the most 
abundant of fossil organic remains from the earliest of 
the transition to the latest of the secondary and tertiary 
formations, affords evidence that they are precipitates 
from water. 

Notwithstanding the great and daily advancement of 
science, our knowledge of chemistry is still too imperfect 
for us to arrive at an adequate knowledge of the state of 
this water, or rather sea, as, from its universal expansion, 
it must be denominated. Did it contain dissolved in it 
at the same time all the materials from which the various 
beds of rock were formed ; what were the solvents of 
those materials which we find, either insoluble in water, 
or at least not easily soluble ; by what means were the 
precipitates produced ; and whence came this prodigious 
mass of waters ? Upon these unanswered questions de- 
pend others no less important. The aquatic animals of a 
former world undoubtedly lived in this sea ; otherwise, we 
must admit of another sea free from heterogeneous mate- 
rials. But did these animals continue to live in it during 
the whole process of precipitation ; and did this process 
proceed so slowly and imperceptibly, that animal life was 
not interrupted by it, and that only remains of dead 
animals, such as the skeletons of fishes, and the covering 


of shell-fishes, were enveloped in the precipitates ? Or, 
did animal life continue only during the state of solu- 
tion ; and were the myriads of aquatic animals found in 
beds of rocks buried in them alive ? Many naturalists 
appear to entertain the latter opinion, from observing 
the agonies of death depicted in the distorted position of 
fishes in copper-slate, or from deriving the bituminous 
properties of stink-stone, as well as of marl, from the 
decomposition of animal bodies, of which such numerous 
vestiges are extant in these beds ? In this way a plausi- 
ble explanation is given of the phenomena of a former 
world that has perished. How, then, do they explain the 
constant appearance of so many species, which have 
continued without interruption for such an infinite length 
of time ? Have these species been propagated by indi- 
viduals who accidentally escaped destruction : or, Does a 
new race continually spring up again ? But laying 
aside the difficulty of this explanation, the violent de- 
struction of so many races of animals, is scarcely consist- 
ent with the general order of the universe, according to 
which, we behold every animal occupying its proper ele- 
ment, and fulfilling its particular destiny. We, there- 
fore, involuntarily revert to the opinion, that those crea- 
tures, whose remains are preserved in beds of rocks, 
have lived continually in the sea, out of which the rocks 
were precipitated, in the same manner as the analogous 
species now living in the sea become enveloped in depo- 
sits still taking place, although on a comparatively small 

What has just been said does not entitle us to admit 
that the various parts of the earth have been, from time 
to time, overflowed with water. Yet are there other ap- 


pearances which completely indicate such a change, 
namely, beds of coal, and the fossil remains of land ani- 
mals. The carbonisation of roots of trees in clefts of 
rocks, and of marsh plants in peat-bogs, which takes 
place, as it were, under our own immediate observation ; 
the transitions of bituminous wood into pitch-coal, the 
frequent presence of vegetables partly converted into 
coal, in the neighbourhood of beds of coal, and which 
are more abundant the nearer they are to these beds ; 
and, finally, the chemical nature of coal, which is similar 
to that of vegetables, go to prove the vegetable origin of 
the older and independent coal formation. 

Though some fossil vegetables might derive their 
origin, by being floated to quarters more or less remote 
from their native soil, as we find to be the case in 
many islands of the South Sea, and on other shores ; 
on the other hand, neither the breadth and extent 
of beds of coal, nor the erect position in which fossil 
trees and reed plants are not unfrequently found in 
their neighbourhood, coincide with such an explanation. 
The plants, from which these beds were formed, once 
stood and grew in the place where they were buried ; 
and, from these remains, we infer that they were entire- 
ly land plants, tree-ferns, Lycopodia, and other crypto- 
gamia. It also appears undeniable, that the land, being 
once dry, was, during a longer or shorter time, covered 
with luxuriant vegetation ; that it was afterwards over- 
flowed with water, and then became dry land again. 
But, was this overflow of water produced by a sudden, 
violent, and universal catastrophe, such as we consider the 
deluge ? Many circumstances leave room for opposite 
conjecture. If it is probable that the older or black coal 


is of vegetable origin, the plants from which it has origina- 
ted, must have suffered an incomparably greater change 
than those of more recent coal formations. Their com- 
position and their texture, afford evidence of a long opera- 
tion of the fluid in which the changes were produced ; 
and their situation, proves that the substance of the 
plants, though not entirely dissolved, was yet much com- 
minuted, and was kept floating and swimming, and then 
precipitated. How can we, in any other way, account 
for the layers of sandstone and slate-clay, with which 
coal regularly alternates, so that from one to sixty alter- 
nate beds have been enumerated ? How can we explain 
the combination of mineral coal with slate-clay, or ac- 
count for the appearance of bituminous shale, flinty slate, 
of iron-pyrites and iron-ore, in the midst of mineral coal 
itself ? We do not, however, admit of a repeated uncover- 
ing and covering of the land with water, and of a renewal 
of vegetation for every particular bed of coal ; far from it, 
for violent inundations exhibit very different phenomena, 
These formations, like pure mineral formations, bear the 
evident impress of a lengthened operation, and of gentle 
precipitations ; and whoever still entertains doubts re- 
garding this, may have them completely removed by 
the condition in which vegetable remains are frequently 
found in the coal formations, by the perfect preservation 
of the most delicately shaped fern leaves, by the upright 
position of stems, and by other appearances of a similar 
character. It is also an important objection against the 
universality of the cover of water, notwithstanding the 
wide extent of beds of coal, that they are sometimes ac- 
companied with fossil remains of fresh-water shells, from 


which we are entitled to draw the conclusion, that they 
must have been deposited in inclosed basins of inland 

From the beds of coal found in various situations 
among Alpine limestone, as well as in other secondary 
formations, under similar circumstances, we are at liber- 
ty to maintain that they are not indebted for their origin 
to any universal and sudden revolution. 

When we proceed to the second division of coal for- 
mations, to brown coal, or to lignite, the principal diffe- 
rence we discover is, that the change which the vegeta- 
bles have undergone, having taken place at a time when 
the chemical power had lost much of its energy, was in- 
complete ; and besides, we observe in the different 
brown coal formations the same repetition of single beds 
alternating with other beds of rocks, the mixture of 
different minerals, and not unfrequently of upright 
stems. Some appear to be derived from sea plants, and 
others from fresh-water plants ; but the greater pro- 
portion from land plants. They, equally with the beds 
of black coal, give evidence of a new overflow of water, 
and the water plants themselves, which never thrive at a 
great depth, and which frequently appear under prodi- 
gious beds of rocks, must have experienced such a 
change. But that change was scarcely of the kind which 
we understand by a deluge, and the frequent repeti- 
tion of deluges indicated, according to some, by the re- 
peated beds of coal from the transition to the newest ter- 
tiary periods, is hardly credible. It may be maintained, 
with more certainty, of brown coal than of black coal, 
that they have been formed in land water, and hence in 


limited and isolated basins of water, since fresh-water 
animals are their constant attendants. 

Although the beds of coal of our secondary formations 
appear to have originated in a similar way with other 
mineral formations, and not by violent catastrophes, it is 
otherwise with a part of those vegetable remains which 
are met with in alluvial land. Subterranean forests, 
whose circumference, in some instances, extends about 70 
square leagues, partly in a state of good preservation, 
and partly more or less decomposed, afford satisfactory 
proof of deluges, and have undoubtedly been covered up 
with earth by a violent eruption of standing or running 
water. But these are local effects, similar to what take 
place in our own day, but on a larger scale. 

There are abundant fossil remains of land animals, re- 
sembling those of water animals, found in such a state of 
preservation, that we cannot suppose them to have been 
brought hither from distant places, and by means of cur- 
rents. Their appearing in beds of rocks, or generally in 
aqueous precipitates, proves that the soil they first in- 
habited, must have been dry land, afterwards overflowed 
with water. 

The appearance of what are called fresh water shells, 
in alternate beds with marine animals, being sometimes 
observed in newer floetz rocks in great abundance, seems 
to indicate a reiterated retreat and return of the sea. 
But however meritorious the labours of naturalists, 
through whom attention has been directed to the subject, 
may be in other respects, we are nevertheless disposed to 
entertain doubts concerning their conclusions. In our 
own seas and ponds upon the coasts, we observe the same 


testaceous animals growing equally well in salt water 9 
and in water nearly fresh ; and, again, fresh water ani- 
mals living in salt water *. By artificial means the inha- 
bitants of the sea may be changed into inhabitants of 
fresh water ; as fresh- water animals are, in their turn, 
converted into marine animals, so that, to decide con- 
cerning the proper element of each individual species is 
often matter of difficulty. Therefore, other circum- 
stances besides that of containing salt must be taken into 
account. The occasional plenty, scarcity, or absolute 
want of food ; the soil being sometimes sandy, slimy, or 
rocky ; the depth, extent, agitation or tranquillity of the 
water ; and, finally, the quality of the air contained in it, 
may be as instrumental in determining the habitation of 
these animals, as the materials which the water holds in 
solution. An excellent observer has indeed very lately 
shewn in a treatise, which supports the idea of fresh-water 
formations, that we possess no unerring character for dis- 
tinguishing sea shell-fish from those of fresh water ; but 
admitted, notwithstanding the transition above stated, we 
can draw a line of distinction between them, we must not 
forget that this investigation is neither regarding sea shell- 
fish now existing, nor of our present waters. We indeed 
draw our conclusion, and not without reason, from similar 
conformation, similar modes of existence. But one of two 
things must be ; either that the shell-fish, whose remains 
are found in beds of rocks, lived in the water out of 
which these beds were precipitated, or the water in which 
they lived, was dislodged by other water containing the 

* In the salt lakes of Westphalia, we find Lymnaea and fresh water 
plants in abundance. 


materials of the precipitations. In the first and more 
generally admitted case, the water was so different 
from the present water, whether salt or fresh, that we 
cannot infer from the inhabitants of the latter any thing 
concerning the inhabitants of the former ; but we can 
confidently maintain, that a greater resemblance pre- 
vails between our sea and land water, than between either 
the one or the other, and that fluid which was inhabited 
by the shell-fish. In other respects, there remains no 
other difference between fresh and salt water formations, 
but that the bottom upon which the former is placed 
once contained land water ; a fact worthy of observation : 
but the notion of enclosed basins, and of isolated forma- 
tions originating in them, the way in which fresh water 
formations are supposed to have taken place, remained a 
long time unsatisfactory. Finally, we may be permit- 
ted to ask, upon what grounds they considered themselves 
entitled to ascribe to the former sea the continual posses- 
sion of a portion of salt, while the salt precipitates appear 
only at particular intervals, and after long interruptions ? 
If the sea occasionally contained a great, and sometimes 
a very small, quantity of salt, it might equally be at times 
altogether without it. And yet it deserves to be remem- 
bered, that the beds of rock, to which the salt formations 
are most nearly related, contain no petrifactions ; that, 
therefore, the so-called marine animals are wanting in 
those periods during which we have any direct evidence 
of the presence of salt water. 

There is, however, a geognostic fact, which, in prefe- 
rence to all others, has been cited in evidence of violent re- 
volutions and deluges, that is, the appearance of conglome- 
rates or of reproduced kinds of stone. Indeed, there might 


still be a wide field for investigation here, and more than 
one formation, which now passes for sandstone, might be 
acknowledged as an original and chemical production ; 
without having occasion to go so far as Mr Gerhard does 
with grey wacke, that is, to consider them as immediate 
precipitates from the atmosphere. But still conglome- 
rates sufficiently genuine, will remain from the tran- 
sition period through all the subsequent formations, 
to serve as acknowledged monuments of destruction, 
as well as of the renovation of what was destroyed. 
These are the Codices rescripti, in the archives of the 
Earth, out of which, the antiquarian will one day de- 
cipher the almost obliterated traces of her former condi- 
tion, as well as the history of her changes. Though 
these conglomerates deviate so much in their nature, and 
in the character of their origin, from chemical productions, 
they have yet among themselves this remarkable and 
common characteristic, that, with few exceptions, the old- 
er are much less varied in character, and more extensive 
in distribution, than the newer, and that, at length, the 
newest conglomerates become mere local appearances. 
But, in reference to the main question which engages 
our attention, we may conjecture that the beds of rocks 
from which the sea had never retreated, might be assail- 
ed by its floods and currents, and shattered to pieces, 
as happens even in our own time, and the fragments be 
again reunited into solid rocks, by means of the still re- 
maining dissolved matter in the water. But of many 
conglomerates it is evident that they have been deposited 
on the dry land, in the same way as our gravels. Ju- 
piter, who took counsel with himself, whether he would 


destroy the sinful world with fire or water, and at length 
decided for water *, may not be so justly considered the 
author of these appearances, as Saturn, who devoured his 
children. Or, to be less metaphorical in our language, it 
may perhaps have been with the origin of conglomerates, 
as it is in our own day with the origin of fragments of rock 
and boulders, in which the rock being fractured in various 
places by the alternations of heat and cold, by the influ- 
ence of air and atmospheric water, falls into pieces of 
greater or smaller magnitude, which are carried forward 
by the water, and gradually rounded in their progress, 
so that they assume a more perfectly globular shape the 
farther they are removed from their original situation. 
Therefore, as regards the foregoing enquiry, it is not an 
unimportant circumstance, that the long but continual 
rolling of the boulders during their rounding, appears to 
be much more efficacious than a rapid and violent im- 
petus, and that, in this case, as in many other geognostic 
appearances, time rather than force is to be taken into 
account. Another circumstance, perhaps, corresponds 
with this, that the change produced by the weather, not 
only by the first disunion, but also by the progressive 
disintegration of the rocks, by the blunting of the edges 
and corners, by the diminution of the fragments, and 
generally in the origin of the boulders and fragments of 
rocks of every description, has just as much influence as 

* " Jamque eral in tolas sparsurus fulmina terras, 
4 Tela reponuntur, manibus fabricata Cyclopum : 
" Poena placet diversa ; genus mortale sub undis 
" Perdere, et ex omni nimbos dimittere coelo." 
1 OVID. Met. lib. i. v. 255. 


the mechanical operation of the water ; and that a great 
part of the land called Alluvial, generally owes its exis- 
tence to this cause *. But if, upon farther consideration, 
the conglomerates appear to derive their origin in a simi- 
lar way with rolled masses of gravel, they afford evi- 
dence, nevertheless, of the elevated station of the water 
in the neighbourhood, from which they had been before 
removed ; for their conglomeration could take place only 
under water ; and, with few exceptions, they occupy an 
incomparably greater elevation than any of the coal for- 
mations, or any of the beds of rocks which enclose the 
remains of land animals. 

Geognosy certainly contains many facts, which cannot 
be explained, but by a change from dry land to the bot- 
tom of the sea, although our knowledge of them is still 
so imperfect, that we cannot hazard a probable conjec- 
ture respecting the numbers of these changes, whether 
they commence at the same or at different periods 
in the various quarters of the world, and whether 
they are local or universal. These changes appear 
neither sudden nor violent, such as we consider revolu- 
tions of the earth, but at all times proceed with silent and 
regular steps, and depend upon similar causes, concealed 
it is true from us, such as the universal retreat of the 
waters from their original height to the present bed of 
the ocean. We do not belong to those geologists who 
divert the world from its axis for the purpose of explain- 
ing the inequalities of its surface, at whose command the 
Earth sometimes opens her bosom to engulf the sea, 
and at other times the floodgates of Heaven are lifted 

* Vide note on the Non-mechanical Action of pure Water. 


up to pour down another ocean. He who reflects on 
the devastation caused by earthquakes, inundations and 
the fall of mountains, even though they are merely local 
appearances confined to particular quarters, cannot help 
putting the question to himself, how the order, regulari- 
ty and connection exhibited by strata of rocks, could 
in any measure exist, if the same or similar accidents 
had happened throughout the whole world, and if mecha- 
nical power had operated with such energy, and to such an 
extent ? All our knowledge of the structure of the earth, 
and of the existence of its inhabitants, declares rather a 
quiet uninterrupted and continually progressive advance- 
ment in its formation and development. 

In the lapse of geological epochs, we observe a gradation 
of rock formations following one another, in which the 
latter, however remotely connected, still appear sufficient- 
ly similar to the earlier to indicate a common origin, till 
they at length terminate in simple formations, resembling 
those which are presently taking place. When the pre- 
cipitates were exhausted, and the structure was complet- 
ed, nay, even earlier, its destruction commenced; not 
that violent destruction by which lofty mountains are 
torn asunder and levelled, no uproar of nature, no gigan- 
tic struggle of the elements, such as we commonly con- 
ceive, but a decomposition of the strata of rocks to a great- 
er or less depth, caused partly by chemical, partly 
by mechanical, but slow operating powers, what they 
wanted in intensity being compensated by the endurance 
of their operation. According to the common law of na- 
ture, deficiency of power is supplied by duration of 
time ; for, of all the oracles which have been consulted 


concerning the formation of the earth, there is no one 
which can make such important revelations to us as the 
oracle of the age of mountains. These operations at the 
earth's surface generally appear to have produced its pre- 
sent figure, and to have designed it for the habitation of 
numerous organic beings. This appears as early as a 
suitable element occurred ; first, in water, then in land 
animals ; and, like the formation of rocks, we observe a 
regular succession of organic formations, the later always 
descending from the earlier, down to the present inhabi- 
tants of the earth, and to the last created being who was 
to exercise dominion over them. But here occurs this 
important distinction : the organic world with youthful 
vigour renews itself daily, and decomposes its materials 
only to reunite them by fresh combinations in uninter- 
rupted succession ; while the powers of the inorganic 
world appear almost extinguished. Though this course 
of nature is manifest to our own observation, her resour- 
ces and progress are, on the contrary, more concealed ; 
and we can hardly lift the veil which conceals her, unless 
we follow Bacon's advice, Turn back from rash theories, 
and follow observation and experience. 

We have hitherto endeavoured to shew that incontro- 
vertible geognostic facts indicate an alternate rising and 
falling of the water which covered the earth's surface, 
but that they were not of a kind to justify the notion of 
violent revolutions, or of sudden and universal eruptions 
of the sea ; and that, therefore, such deluges as the Mo- 
saic deluge, recorded in the traditions of nations, were 
not revolutions of this description. If, according to the 
supposition of Cuvier, the earth's surface inhabited at 
the commencement of the latter deluge has become the 


present bed of the sea, and the former bed of the sea has 
become the present dry land, then, according to the present 
state of geography, though only conjectural, we should be 
able to point out such portions of the earth as were over- 
whelmed by the catastrophe ; and yet we have never 
heard that any one has hazarded such an experiment. 
In the constitution of the present habitable globe, we 
find no proofs remaining of such a revolution. 

Among these revolutions of nature, we never reckon 
common inundations, such as take place at present from 
water overflowing its boundaries, though these also may 
produce devastation whose effects remain visible for an 
hundred years. But, in mountainous districts, another 
kind of aqueous eruption makes its appearance, and may 
be classed along with the traditions of a deluge. We 
very frequently, for instance, observe the valleys of high 
mountains forming a range of basins separated from one 
another by shorter or longer defiles, and opening through 
the last defile into a wider valley, or a marsh. The 
shape of these basins, or cauldrons, commonly lying above 
one another like so many stories, and the level surface of 
their water, leave no doubt of their being once enclosed 
lakes which were formerly blocked up by the barriers of 
the defiles, and which flowed towards the level country, 
as soon as the defiles were broken down by the waters, 
If no kind of historical monuments in the west of Europe 
bears evidence of those events, which, at least on a small 
scale, occur in our own times, this intimates that it was 
inhabited, not by an original population, but by a fo- 
reign or modern race of people ; whereas those revolutions 
extended to remote antiquity. The numerous masses of 
rock found on both sides of the Alps to the height of 


4000 feet, as well as in the plains of the north of Europe, 
at a great distance from their original position, and con- 
cerning whose coming hither so much light has lately 
been thrown by Messrs Buch and Escher, are a very 
probable proof of these debacles ; while every circum- 
stance renders it evident that these blocks were swept 
along by the currents thus created, to the place where 
they are now found. The Greek writers have also pre- 
served accounts of such revolutions, which, although not 
unquestionably authenticated, are yet stamped with the 
impress of historical testimony. Herodotus has the fol- 
lowing passages directly relative to the country where 
the Greeks place their second or Deucalionic deluge. 
" Thessaly must formerly have been an inland sea, sur- 
rounded by high mountains. On the east it was bound- 
ed by Pelios and Ossa, whose bases were united ; on the 
north by Olympus ; on the west by Pindus ; and on the 
south by Othrys. Thessaly lay in the midst of these 
mountains in the form of a basin, into which, in conjunc- 
tion with other copious streams, the five well-known rivers, 
the Peneus, the Apidanus, the Orochomenus, the Eni- 
peus, and the Pamisos, emptied themselves. These rivers, 
which are collected in their basin from the mountains 
which encompass Thessaly, after their junction under the 
name of Peneus, in which they lose their former appella- 
tion, open towards the sea through a narrow valley. 
According to tradition, this valley and opening did not 
formerly exist ; so that the rivers and the Lake Brebeis, 
which did not formerly bear these names, having their 
confluence in this place, rendered the whole of Thessaly 
an inland sea. The Thessalians affirm that Neptune 
opened the valley for the passage of the river Peneus, 

E e 


and they may perhaps be right. If we consider Nep- 
tune the author of earthquakes, and consider the violent 
concussion of the mountains caused by them as the work 
of this deity, we must, upon surveying these regions, con- 
fess that they owe their present shape to him ; for the se- 
paration of every mountain appears to me to have been 
produced by some violent commotion of the earth." 
Strabo makes mention of this tradition, which he thought 
worthy of belief, and accounts for the origin of the Vale 
of Tempe, which is the bed of the river Peneus, and 
likewise for the separation of Ossa from Olympus, by 
means of an earthquake *. In making this remark, we 
perceive that our theories which allow that earthquakes 
are to operate in forming the surface of the earth, have 
not even the merit of novelty. According to the last 
writer, similar eruptions of water must have originated lit 
the lake Copais in Breotia -f-, in the lakes Bistonis and 
Aphnetis, in Thrace, and have been accompanied with 
huge devastation J. Diodorus Siculus remembered a 
Samothracian tradition, according to which the Euxine 

* T. ix. c, & Claudian describes this occurrence in the following words t 

" Cum Thessaliam scopulis inclusa teneret 
Peneo stagnante palus, et mersa negarent 
Arva eoli, trifida Neptunus euspide monies 
Impulit adversos : turn forti saucius ictu 
Dissiluit gelido vertex OSSJEUS Olympo." 

De raptu Proserp* I. ii. v. 179. 

t L. i c. 3. 

$ According to Wheeler, who was on the spot, it appears to have bro- 
ken through the Mount. Ptous. 

Bibliothec. Hkstoric. 1. v. c. 47. 


Sea was once shut up on all sides. It afterwards burst 
through its mighty mound offa/anischen rocks to the Hel- 
lespont, and inundated a great part of the coast of Asia, as 
well as Samothracia itself. An objection started to the 
possibility of such an event is, that, from the observations 
of Olivier and General Andreossy, the shores of the 
Black Sea are, in most places, lower than those of the 
Bosphorus ; and that its waters, therefore, even if they 
were Considerably higher than they are at present, would 
more readily overflow the former than the latter. But 
since every rock exposed for such a length of time is 
daily crumbling down, it is a question, whether the 
shore of the Black Sea has undergone any alteration 
since that period ; and we know that the eruptions 
took their direction, not so much from the low situation 
of the barrier, as from the nature of the rock of which 
it was constructed, being influenced by the weather, and 
from the rock itself being rent asunder. Be that as it 
may, the words with which Diodorus commences his nar- 
rative are remarkable, when he says, the Samothracian 
deluge happened earlier than those of other nations. It 
at least so far preceded others, that, in the estimation of 
the Greek historian, independent of the deluges of Ogy- 
ges and Deucalion, similar natural occurrences more or 
less authenticated were received as historical facts. 

Finally, the effects produced by the bursting of lakes 
or debacles do not appear to be out of proportion to the 
devastation mentioned by the traditions of nations. To 
abide by our former example, floods which could carry 
along with them masses of rock of 50,000 cubic feet, 
were in a situation to bury a whole people ; and the few 
individuals who might be preserved would undoubtedly 


have handed down the memory of such an event to 
remote posterity. Other deluges may have arisen from 
other causes, at a time when, as is shewn by numerous ves- 
tiges, lakes and rivers had a much greater elevation than 
at present ; and, therefore, every overflowing of them 
must have produced greater and more extensive ravages. 

From these last local eruptions of water, that is, from 
single limited districts, arose the mechanical precipitates 
known under the denomination of Alluvial Soil. Their 
situation, as the uppermost covering of the earth, as well 
as their origin, which takes place beneath our own obser- 
vation, furnishes evidence of their being the most recent 
mineral formations ; and it follows from their nature and 
connection that they were not produced by chemical 
means, but removed by the mechanical force of water. 
Since they, among other things, contain prostrate forests, 
and abundant remains of land animals, we conclude 
that they did not originate in the bed of the sea, 
but were floated and deposited upon the dry land by an 
overflow of land water. How is it conceivable that these 
precipitates have been covered by the ocean, since 
their deposition, and have, by means of an opposite 
change, become the dry land they are at present; and 
yet it must have been so, if they are to be considered 
as intimations of the Mosaic deluge. 

The view now given, which is that of Henger in his 
Beitrage, is also advocated by other naturalists, and has 
lately been brought forward in an interesting manner in 
the Edinburgh Philosophical Journal*. We have been 
frequently requested to give the two views, in regard to 

Vol. xiv. p. 205. 


the universal deluge, namely, that which maintains that 
it is proved by an appeal to the phenomena of the mine- 
ral kingdom ; the other, which affirms that that great 
event has left no traces of its existence on the surface 
or in the interior of the earth. M. Cuvier's Essay, and 
Professor Buckland's Reliquiae, are the best authorities 
for the first opinion ; while numerous writers have advo- 
cated the second, 

NOTE, p. 244. 


A very great degree of power has been attributed to 
the waters which move at the surface of the earth, or in 
its interior. Many geologists have advanced the opinion, 
that they have scooped out the channels and even the 
valleys in which they flow, and formed the cliffs whose 
feet they wash ; and many philosophers, naturalists and 
even geologists, still support this opinion, not only in 
some of its applications, but even in its whole extent. 

In order to appreciate it, it is sufficient to observe with 
care the different modes of action of water set in motion 
by different causes, and the changes which it has operat- 
ed upon the rocks and deposits upon which it has acted, 
from the most remote times to which history may reach. 

We must, in the first place, successively examine the 
different sorts of action of the principal masses of water 
which are in motion at the surface of the earth, that is to 
say, the action of torrents, of rivers, of currents of the 
sea, or of great lakes, and that of waves. 

We shall afterwards see what consequences are to be 
deduced from these observations. 



1. Action of Torrents. 

Torrents have a true degrading and scooping action 
upon the earth's surface, but, by the necessary conse- 
quence of the sense which we attach to the word, this ac- 
tion cannot be exercised upon spaces of great extent, for 
a torrent is a water-course which has a great declivity. 
Now, on account of the little height which the most ele- 
vated summits of the globe have in comparison with the 
extent of its surface, this action cannot be very exten- 
sive ; it can only, therefore, produce short and narrow 
ravines. This action, as ail who have visited high moun- 
tain chains may have seen, is only often local and instan- 
taneous ; it presents no remarkable effect but upon the 
heaps of debris which cover the declivities of the moun- 
tains, and on broken rocks, partially disintegrated by other 
causes, and lastly on moveable deposits. The results of 
this action contribute to confine it within narrower limits 
still, by heaping up at the mouths of torrents in the val- 
leys or plains, the debris carried down by these torrents. 
The elevation of the soil, which necessarily follows from 
the accumulation of these debris, diminishes with the de- 
clivity, the rapidity, and consequently the power of these 

Great masses of water moving rapidly, have a marked 
transporting power. Striking examples of this power 
have but too often been seen in Holland, by the break- 
ing down of the dikes, and in Alpine mountains, in con- 
sequence of extraordinary rains during tempests, or from 
the rupture of some of the natural barriers of lakes. In 
these latter times (in 1818), the Vallee de Bagne expe- 
rienced the terrible effects of this devastating power. 


Masses of ice having fallen towards the upper part of 
this valley, and accumulated there, raised a dike suffi- 
ciently compact and strong to block up the course of the 
Dranse. The waters of this river, rapid and pent up in 
certain parts of its course, as are all those of the high 
Alps, accumulated above this barrier of ice, and formed 
a lake which attained, at its maximum, 130 metres of 
mean breadth, from 3000 to 4000 metres of length, and 
36 of mean depth, and consequently a volume of water esti- 
mated at about 29,000,000 cubic metres. Although, by 
means of operations conducted with equal skill and cour- 
age, about the third part of this volume was let off 
without danger, the remaining part having suddenly 
broken through the barrier of ice, was precipitated with 
an almost unexampled impetuosity of 11 metres in the 
second, into the Vallee de Bagne. In the first part of 
its course, and in the space of half an hour which the 
mass of water took in traversing a league, it carried 
away trees, dwellings, enormous masses of debris, and 
rocks already separated from their mass, as M. Es- 
cher, expressly says ; it covered all the broad parts of 
the valley with rubbish, pebbles and sand, and carried 
the remainder of the substances which it had swept away, 
as well to the extremity of the valley, towards Martigny, 
as into the bed of the Rhone. The mass of water 
took an hour and a half in rushing from the glacier to 
Martigny. The same event took place from the same 
cause, and with nearly similar results, in 1595. 

Torrents may therefore scoop out ravines in certain 
formations, and produce effects which appear considera- 
ble, because we judge of them by comparison with our 


own feeble means. But how diminutive and circumscrib- 
ed are these changes produced in the configuration of the 
globe, compared with the long and broad valleys which 
furrow in vast numbers the immense surface of the earth, 
and to the formation of which neither the torrents nor 
great rivers which exist at the present day have in any 
way contributed, as we shall presently demonstrate. 

2. Action of Rivers. 

THE action of rivers must be examined under two 
very different circumstances, or at two different parts of 
their course. 

First, When they are compressed between mountains, 
whether at no great distance from their source, or even 
at the middle of their course. 

Secondly, When they have reached broad valleys, 
whose declivity is slight, or plains which commonly sur- 
round their mouth. 

In the first case, these rivers partake of the impetu- 
osity and power of torrents. They often run with ra- 
pidity, and in great quantity, at the bottom of narrow 
and deep valleys : they are as it were inclosed in chan- 
nels, whose vertical walls appear as if cut by art. The 
first idea which presents itself to all who have seen these 
appearances for. the first time, and who are satisfied with 
first impressions, is, that these streams, which are pret- 
ty powerfuland always very impetuous, have dug these 
deep grooves ; and if sometimes the hardness of the rocks 
and the height of the precipices which form their sides, 


appear too great for those small streams that meander at 
their feet, what cannot be attributed to their immediate 
power is attributed to the continued action of time. 

Without examining how long a series of ages it would 
be necessary to admit, before the rivers which we have 
mentioned above, and the water-courses encased in the 
deep valleys of the Alps, Pyrenees, Jura, Grampians, &c. 
could have scooped their valleys, on which their present 
action is so slow that no one has yet been able to estimate 
it ; without examining if this long series of ages agrees 
with the phenomena, which preclude our attributing so 
remote an antiquity to the actual state of the earth's sur- 
face, a question of too much importance to be treated in- 
directly ; it will be sufficient to mention here four sorts 
of observations, in order to be persuaded, or at least 
to suspect, that the present rivers, even supposing 
them ten times the size that they are, could not have 
scooped ' out the deep channels at the bottom of which 
they run. 

1. We must recur to the period when the ranges of 
hills which border the present valleys were not as yet 
scooped out, but were united in such a manner as not 
to leave any hollow between them, or merely a slight ori- 
ginal depression. 

This shallowness of the valley would be accompanied 
with an inconsiderable slope of its bottom. If, then, we 
suppose the same mass of water, it must run with less 
quickness, and consequently with much less power ; and 
yet a very great force must be attributed to it, before 
it could have had the power of removing a portion of 
rock nearly represented by a recumbent triangular prism, 
having often 500 metres of breadth by a sometimes equal 


and often much greater vertical thickness. If, in order 
to get rid of this difficulty, we admit a volume of water 
incomparably larger than the present volume of the rivers 
to which so great effects are attributed, we must admit 
much more elevated and more extended mountains, to 
give rise to so great a volume of water. 

Were we only detained by this hypothesis, and did 
not direct observation oppose itself to the admission of 
this disaggregating power and its effect, we might pass it 
over ; but two other observations render the hypothesis 

2. Historical records equally concur to prove that 
the rivers possessed of the greatest power which can be 
attributed to them, have no appreciable corroding action 
upon the rocks on which they move. 

No one has maintained that the greater number of the 
cascades, cataracts, or rapids, long known and mentioned 
on account of their celebrity, have disappeared or have 
even sensibly diminished, nor consequently that the na- 
tural dike which the water had encountered in its course, 
has been worn or even completely disrupted. We do 
not find that cascades have changed into cataracts, and 
these again into rapids. The cataracts of the Nile have 
been spoken of from time immemorial, as always oppos- 
ing an obstacle to the navigation of that river ; the same 
is the case with those of the Danube, of the fall of the 
Rhine at Schaffhausen, &c. The famous cascades of the 
Alps and Pyrenees have been cited ever since writing 
was in use ; and among all these examples we can scarcely 
find two or three cascades that have been lowered, or 
cataracts reduced in their level. 

The only cascade which we can point out as having 


really diminished in height, is that of Tungasca in Sibe- 
ria. We do not, however, assert but that there may be 
others. So many causes different from those of erosion 
may concur to lower a cascade, or even make it disappear 
almost entirely, that we are rather astonished at the small 
number of examples mentioned, than embarrassed by the 
objections which these examples might present to the 
opinion vrhich we are defending : for the fall of a part 
of the rock which forms the cliff from which the cascade 
is precipitated ; an abundant accumulation of debris at 
the foot of the cliff ; a real destruction of the softer 
deposits, forming part of the strata of the mountain 
from which they fall, are sufficient causes for changing 
the height of waterfalls. These causes must present 
themselves pretty frequently ; but how different is their 
action from that of erosion ? This, if it existed, would 
extend from the source of the river to its mouth, and 
would have a considerable influence upon the configura- 
tion of the earth's surface. Those which we have men- 
tioned have, on the contrary, an action so limited and so 
local, as to be scarcely appreciable. 

3. Allowing, for the moment, that a river, possessed of 
a vast erosive or disaggregating power, may have scoop- 
ed out the valley in the bottom of which it at present 
flows, in a state of feebleness very different from its ori-, 
ginal state, we must account for the disposal of a vast mass 
of earth and rock, which filled up the valley before the 
river had removed it. It is not possible to suppose that 
it has been transported into the sea, which is often 
more than a hundred leagues from the valley; for 
we know that when rivers, on reaching the plains, lose 
their rapidity, they allow the matters to be precipi- 


tated which they held in suspension. Besides, we have 
shown that many rivers, on leaving the mountains, tra- 
verse lakes, in which they deposit all the earthy matters 
suspended in their waters. This deposition is particularly 
striking in all the considerable rivers, which descend from 
the ridge of the Alps toward the north-west and south-east 
of that chain of mountains. These rivers meet, at the 
opening of the valleys they flow through, lakes, which they 
traverse, and which seem intended for their purification. 
Thus, on the northern side, we see the Rhone traversing 
the lake of Geneva ; the Aar, the Lakes of Brientz and 
Thun ; the Reuss, the Lake of the Four Cantons ; the 
Linth, the Lake of Zurich ; the Rhine, the Lake of Con- 
stance. On the south side, the Lac Majeur is traversed 
by the Tessin, the Lake of Como by the Adda, the Lake 
Disco by the Oglio ; the Lake of Guarda by the Mincio, 
Sec. Now, these lakes, which are only themselves deeper 
parts of the valley, would have been filled up by the 
debris conveyed to the valley, if this valley had the 
origin attributed to it. Proceeding from one hypothesis 
to another, it might perhaps be supposed that these lakes 
may have been sufficiently deep to swallow up all the de- 
bris of the valley, without being chocked up. But, ra- 
ther than admit such suppositions, why not grant that 
the same unknown cause which has scooped out the 
lake, has also scooped out the valley which is only a 
continuation of it ? 

4. But if facts had proved that the waters degrade the 
rocks, scoop them out, and perpetually remove their de- 
bris, we might perhaps be induced to admit that un- 
known causes, of which we are absolutely ignorant, and 
of which we can form no idea, have given to the original 


rivers the means of surmounting all these obstacles. 
Now, observation would seem absolutely to prove the 

We have remarked, that rapid rivers which, in 
the bottom of valleys, fall in cascades, from rock to 
rock, which beat with violence against the walls which 
contain them, do not in any degree alter these rocks, and 
that, far from corroding their surface, they allow it to be 
covered with a rich coating of mosses, confervae, &c. 
which could neither maintain itself, nor be formed at all, 
were the least portion of the surface of these rocks con- 
tinually or even only frequently removed. 

A much more striking fact is that which some of the 
great rivers present, such as the Nile, the Orinoco, &c. 
which flow in the equatorial regions. 

These powerful rivers, when they have arrived at 
places where they are contracted, and, as it were, jam- 
med in between two rocky walls, form impetuous cata- 
racts. Their waters, endowed by the celerity of this fall 
with the greatest erosive power that can be attributed 
to this fluid, must necessarily have corroded, or at least 
worn, the rocks which they have thus beat against 
since the creation of our present Continent. Now, so far 
from removing the surface, they cover it with a brownish 
varnish of a peculiar nature. 

It appears, therefore, well established, that water alone 
does not scoop those rocks, whose aggregation is complete, 
or which are solid ; and that it does not wear them in 
any way, whatever be its quantity of motion. 

We say water alone ; and we must insist on this dis- 
tinction, in order to make the preceding facts agree with 
other facts, which might seem contradictory. 


We often see furrows scooped out on the walls 
that bound the narrows of rivers ; we also see rocks 
rounded, and entirely destitute of moss. But let the 
facts be examined with attention, and we shall find 
that this erosion always takes place in the parts of their 
course, where, on account of the nature of the neighbour- 
ing soil, the torrents carry with them, in their risings (or 
floods), debris and detached stones from their banks ; 
and it is by means of these stones that they wear the 
rocks which are in their bed. 

It is very easy to appreciate these circumstances. It 
is remarked, that this erosion has never taken place 
at the sources of powerful springs. All the pebbles 
which had to be carried off have been so long ago, 
and the mosses which grow abundantly on the rocks 
at the level of the water, and in the bed of these torrents, 
have nothing more to fear from the destructive action of 
these solid bodies. The case is the same with the parts 
which immediately succeed a lake, or a great excavation, 
capable of arresting all the hard bodies carried off by the 
river* There the mosses appear in abundance ; because 
they are not subjected to the action of any other sub- 
stance than of the water alone. 

The present rivers do not therefore appear to have 
any erosive power upon the rocks which are completely 
aggregated, when they act by themselves, and when no 
other cause, such as frost^ decomposition, &c. has disin- 
tegrated the rock. The absence of these foreign circum- 
stances is proved by the vegetation or the enamel which 
then cover the rocks exposed to the action of the water. 
These rivers, in proportion as they remove from the 


rocks in, <the neighbourhood of the lofty mountains in 
which they took their rise, often gain in volume what 
they have lost in velocity ; but the power dependent up- 
on size rarely compensates that which they owed to ra- 
pidity ; and although these large rivers still retain a 
transporting power, sufficient to carry along with them 
the obstacles which oppose themselves to their progress, 
they are far from presenting results of action so striking 
as those of torrents. They stir up, when flooded, or 
when they change place, the earth and mobile sand which 
cover their bottom, especially towards their edges, and 
transport them to some distance ; but they scarcely move 
pebbles larger than an egg, which occur in their bed, 
and which have been brought there in other times, and 
under other circumstances. Ori thus transporting the 
comminuted and mobile mineral matters, they deposite 
them again in places where their current is relaxed by 
some cause, and thus raise the bottom of their bed in 
these places ; they seek a new passage in the midst of 
the barriers which they have themselves constructed. 
The principal current is then borne, sometimes against 
one bank, and sometimes against the other ; and when it 
comes to beat upon the foot of a steep part, composed 
of moveable soil, as the banks commonly are, in such 
cases, they really erode it, and make it fall into the river ; 
and transport to another part of its course, the earth re- 
sulting from the destruction of the bank, and give rise 
to new obstacles. Hence the new deposites, which bor- 
der rivers in all -points where their current is slackened, 
and principally toward their mouth. It is sufficient for 
our present purpose to have referred to facts remarkable 
for their number, for the importance which they have had 


in regard to the modern changes of the configuration of the 
globe; and, lastly, in regard to agriculture and civilisation ; 
facts of easy observation, and which tend to prove, that 
the action of rivers, whose fall is not sufficiently rapid 
to entitle them to be considered as torrents, is not to 
scoop out their bed, either in the valleys or in the plains 
through which they flow, but rather to raise them, and 
to tend, consequently, rather to level and flatten the 
earth than to furrow it, more than it has been since the 
Continents have assumed the configuration which they 
now possess. 

But if we have not been able to recognise a real cor- 
roding power in the great rivers falling in the form of 
cascades or cataracts, let us inquire elsewhere, in circum- 
stances where the water seems endowed with a still su- 
perior power, what are the effects of this agent ? 

3. Action of Waves. 

IT is in the sea, an enormous mass, sometimes acquir- 
ing, from the action of the winds, an incalculable power, 
that we must find the maximum of force of the water of 
the present times. In fact, in this case, the power of 
transportation is so prodigious, that the strongest bar- 
riers, both natural and artificial, are overturned, and the 
largest stones, together with enormous fragments of rocks 
torn from their place, transported, and even projected to 
a distance. But it is to these effects that this immea- 
surable power is limited. The water, which displaces 
and transports to a distance these heavy masses, does 


not abrade the surface when it acts by itself. We see this 
surface, on rocks and the sides of piers and dikes, per- 
petually beaten by the waves, covered with fuci, con- 
fervse, byssi, and other delicate vegetables* without roots, 
which the waves have not prevented from contracting 
a first and feeble adherence, and which they do not 
hinder from growing. But, if the waves carry with them 
pebbles, or even sand, it is those hard bodies which act ; 
the surface of the rocks is abraded, and all vegetation 

The same effect takes place, and is even augmented 
by the real degradation of the coasts, if the sea acts up- 
on friable rocks, capable of mixing with water, such as 
argillaceous or calcareous marl, or chalk, or upon rocks 
which are hard, but naturally fissured, or partly disag- 
gregated, such as certain granites ; it then easily removes 
the crumbled or previously detached parts, scoops out 
the foot of the rock or steep coast, and causes the upper 
part, which is deprived of support, to fall. But, in con- 
sequence of this fall, it forms a slope, which, by its in- 
clination, deadens the violence of the shock, and even 
protects the foot of the cliff, for some time only, if it be 
friable, or capable of disintegration ; and for ever, if, 
being compact, it does not carry in it the causes of de- 
struction. The action of the waves ceasing, the slope is 
covered with vegetation ; and if the coast continues, ne- 
vertheless, to be worn, the changes are then owing to 
causes unconnected with the action of water. 

Such is, in few words, the ordinary action of the wa- 
ter of the sea upon steep coasts, and even that of great 
masses of water in a state of agitation. M. De Luc, in 
his various works, has estimated this action with a cor- 



reetness of observation and of reasoning, which is re^ 
markable only, because it has not been adopted by alt 
naturalists ; and few have bestowed the unremitting at- 
tention upon the subject which this respectable geologist 
has done. He has shewn, that the destructive action of 
the waters upon steep shores, and other coasts or ab- 
rupt cliffs, was considerably restrained by the very con- 
sequences of this action ; that the debris which accumu- 
lated protected the lower parts of these coasts from the 
action of the water, or gradually reduced an abrupt coast 
to a very inclined and permanent slope. 

Next, to torrents, to rapid and large rivers, and to 
waves, it is to currents that a great influence on the 
earth's surface has been attributed, an influence which 
a highly gifted naturalist, Buffon, has employed to ex- 
plain all the inequalities of the earth's surface. 

Our knowledge of the action of currents is less precise 
than that which we possess of rivers. But if we cannot 
so visibly demonstrate that, in no circumstance similar to 
those which -we have specified, do they scoop out the 
bottom of the sea into valleys, nor form any mountains, 
we can, at least, conjecture with much probability, and 
maintain, that we have no direct and constant proof of 
that action. 

4. Action of Currents. 

No one doubts that currents, near coasts, heap up 
upon the beach, at the mouth of rivers and harbours, 
pebbles, sand, gravel, mud, or other transportable mat- 
ters, whether these currents constantly exist, or simply 


result from the momentary action of a predominating 
wind ; but this action, although already limited to the 
mobile matters which form the bottom of the sea only in 
some parts, whether this action, I say, extends to a great 
depth, that is to several hundred yards, is a question 
not yet resolved. In the first place, the observation 
made by mariners, that, in the most violent tempests, 
the sea is only agitated towards the coasts, or on shal- 
lows, and that bodies, sunk to a great depth, (and still 
what is this depth in comparison with that of the sea,) 
do not feel the motions of its surface, nor that of cur- 
rents ; and, secondly, reasoning, and even calculation, 
according to Messieurs La Place and Poisson, concur to 
shew, that the violent motions of the waters of the sea 
are not propagated to a great depth. It is therefore 
probable, that all the transportable matters, which are at 
this depth, must remain nearly in the position in which 
they are, since our Continents have assumed their pre- 
sent configuration, unless phenomena and motions of the 
sea take place at the bottom, of which we are* ignorant, and 
which are foreign to the subject which at present occu- 
pies our attention. 

But if we have no perfectly certain ideas regarding 
the propagation of the motions of the sea in depth, we 
can assert, that, whatever that extent and that power 
may be, the submarine currents no more abrade the 
rocks than rivers do the surface of the land. This proof 
is always derived from the "same kind of fact, name- 
ly, from the vegetable and animal bodies which constant- 
ly cover the rocks, and which are found, at all times, by 
means of various sorts of dredge-fishing. In fact, no one 
has remarked, that the places in which oysters, mussels, 



corals and sponges are fished, are more sheltered from 
currents than others ; nor that these places, after violent 
tempests, have been deprived, and consequently, as it 
were, despoiled of those productions, which, by covering 
the rocks, demonstrate that they preserve the integrity 
of their surface. Many of these bodies, however, as 
sponges, fuci and confervse, contract but a feeble adhe- 
rence to the bodies upon which th^y are placed. 

It therefore appears, if not completely proved, at least 
extremely probable, from the facts and reasonings which 
we have related, 

1. That the presently existing waters, that is to say, 
in the state of purity in which we are acquainted with 
. them, have no erosive action upon rocks, whatever be 
the nature of these rocks, when, 1st, the rocks are com- 
pletely solid, and when they are neither friable nor disin- 
. tegrated ; 2d, When these waters act by themselves, that 
is to say, when their action is not complicated with the 
really erosive action of solid bodies, such as pebbles, 
sand, and perhaps even pieces of ice. 

. That water, sometimes acquiring, on account of its 

quality and velocity, a great transporting power, may 

remove masses, already detached, and of great size, ac- 

- cording to its degree of velocity, and the bulk of its mass, 

and so far as it preserves this same power. 

3. That the presently existing waters may have at- 
tacked, undermined, and caused to fall down, portions 
of solid and steep rocks, by mixing with beds of clay, 
marl, and sand, interposed between their solid strata ; 
that they may also, in their rapid falls, have scooped 
pretty deep ravines in very inclined deposites, consisting 
of disintegrated rocks ; but that these waters could not 


have scooped out, either by a violent action, or by a 
slow one, however long continued, any of those long and 
broad longitudinal depressions, which are named valleys, 
or of those narrow openings, with almost vertical walls, 
which are named gorges or ravines. 

4. That, even when the deposites, which border these 
valleys or these ravines, are composed of transportable 
matter, the waters which at present flow in them could 
not have scooped them out, even supposing them to have 
been much larger in some than they now are ; the decli- 
vity of the present deposite not being sufficiently great 
to give to these masses of water the rapidity necessary 
for producing this effect, and a power sufficient for car- 
rying off* the moveable matters which filled the valley or 
gorge. ydfcfl 

5. Lastly, that the present running waters, so far 
from having contributed to form the numerous valleys, 
glens, gorges and ravines, continually tend to fill them 
up, and rather to level the surface of the globe than 
to furrow it, more deeply than it is. 

Vid. Brongniart sur TEau. 


On the Connection of Geology with Agriculture and 

THAT all sorts of soils are not equally adapted to all 
productions, is a remark of Virgil's, the truth of which 

* The remarks on the connection of geology with agriculture and plant- 
ing, are inserted here as an illustration of some of the details in the body 


becomes obvious, when we consider many facts ascertain- 
ed in Agriculture and Forestry. If, therefore, as the poet 
advises, our object be to determine what each particular 
region can produce, and what it cannot, our attention 
ought in the first place to be directed to the physical cir- 
cumstances which exert their influence over vegetation. 

All plants that are the subject of cultivation are fixed 
in the ground. By one of their parts, through which 
they derive their principal nourishment, they penetrate 
into the soil, which serves them as a basis, and affords 
them the means of procuring subsistence ; by the other 
part they raise themselves into the atmosphere, which is 
not only necessary in itself for their existence, but is also 
the medium through which they derive the warming and 
vivifying influence of the solar rays. Hence we can un- 
derstand how much the existence of plants must be in- 
fluenced by differences in the condition of the soil and 

The superficial crust of the globe is formed of soil ca- 
pable of producing vegetables. This productive soil, 
however, is not everywhere continuous, being inter- 
rupted on the one hand by the watery covering of 
the earth, and on the other by perennial snow and bare 
rock. Where soil does occur, it separates the solid 
mass of the earth from the atmosphere, and is the po- 
rous medium through which the gaseous and watery 
parts of the latter may act in a greater or less degree 
upon the former. It is very seldom that strata of vege- 

of the work. They will, we think, be useful to students of agriculture and 
geology, and interesting to the general reader. 


table soil lie beneath strata of other matters ; and where 
they occur in this position, the overlying strata are either 
of volcanic or of alluvial origin. Of the former case, a 
very remarkable example occurs in the Isle of Bourbon, 
in which large tracts covered with vegetables and even 
trees, have been laid waste and overwhelmed by streams 
of lava ; and large rivers in their overflowings occasion- 
ally leave deposits of various characters, over the produc- 
tive soil containing remains of formerly existing plants. 

Productive soil, as well in regard to its situation as to 
its constitution ^ depends upon the nature and condi- 
tion of the rocks which form the solid mass of the 
earth. It is always of secondary formation, compared 
with the rock on which it rests, its principal parts usually 
originating from the decomposition of this rock. While 
the forms of the surface of the solid mass of the earth, 
have much influence upon the action of the atmosphere, 
they also in some degree modify that of climate. From 
these circumstances it would appear that the solid sub- 
strata of productive soil exert an influence in various 
ways upon vegetables ; whence it follows that, in order 
to obtain a more intimate knowledge of the conditions 
which operate upon their existence, it is necessary to call 
in geology to our assistance. 

Although the scientific study of agriculture has made 
great progress in our times, the relations which exist be- 
tween the constitution of the solid crust of the earth, 
and the formation and nature of vegetable soil, present a 
wide field for investigation. Geologists have hitherto 
too much neglected the examination of the productive 
covering of the earth, and those who have treated scien- 


tifically of agriculture and forestry have usually looked 
upon the vegetable soil in its own simple capacity, with- 
out regard to its foundation and origin. To point out 
the way by which we are to proceed in our investigation 
of the relations which exist between the solid crust of 
the earth and the productive soil which covers it, is the 
principal object of the following observations. 

Bare rocks cannot be made subservient to the purposes 
of agriculture. Lichens indeed, cover the surface of 
rocks, deriving their chief nutriment from the atmos- 
phere ; mosses draw the water necessary for their sub- 
sistence from the fissures of stones ; the roots of grasses 
seek in the chinks of rocks for particles of earth sufficient 
for their sustenance ; various shrubs and trees penetrate 
here and there into rocky masses by their roots (having 
the powerful and continued action of living wedges), 
where the cohesion of the parts is smallest, in order to 
prepare a fixed seat for themselves, and be secure from 
the pernicious effects of the atmosphere. The surface 
of the earth is always sterile, however, when it shows a 
continuity of naked rock, uncovered by vegetable mould. 
The cultivation of fields and woods, and even the rear- 
ing of cattle, cannot therefore find scope in regions which 
are entirely rocky. Abrupt and precipitous mountains 
being generally in this condition are usually barren ; but 
in plains and on declivities, a bare rocky surface is much 
less frequently the cause of sterility than an unfavourable 
proportion of mould. Some rocky and moderately ele- 
vated regions also occur, more or less destitute of vege- 
table mould, whose sterility depends upon volcanic caus- 
es. Iceland, for example, affords cases of this descrip, 


tion. In many parts of Sweden, as in Westrogothia, in 
Scotland, &c., there occur many elevated regions, in 
which gneiss and granite predominating, exclude to a 
great extent all kinds of vegetation excepting lichens. 
In the same districts we sometimes meet with pastures 
and corn-fields interrupted here and there by bare rocks 
rising but little above the surface, by which the value of 
the ground is much diminished, and great impediments 
opposed to its cultivation. 

As bare rocks are incapable of all cultivation, their dis- 
tance from the under surface of vegetable mould must 
also be of great importance. In the plains of the north of 
Germany, for example, this distance is often so great 
that a rocky surface is never found, while, on the contra- 
ry, in other countries, especially such as are mountainous, 
the roots of plants not unfrequently touch the subjacent 
rock ; the variation between these extremes being of all 
degrees. The effect of the distance of the surface of the 
solid rock from the under surface of productive soil may 
be both direct and indirect, and may vary much, not 
only with reference to the species of rock, but also to 
the vegetables. 

The surface of the solid strata of the earth has a di- 
rect influence upon the cultivation of plants, because it 
terminates the extension of their roots, and limits the 
volume of the soil necessary for their sustenance. As the 
length and direction of the roots vary exceedingly in dif- 
ferent species, the difference of effect with regard to their 
growth, and the approximation of the rock to the under 
surface of the soil, must in general be so much the less 
prejudicial in proportion as the roots decline from the 
perpendicular; whence it follows, that certain grasses, and 


some small pasture plants, may grow in very thin layers 
of soil, where the larger grasses and pasture plants with 
longer roots, could not find subsistence ; and that shrubs 
and trees, with long perpendicular roots, cannot survive in 
many places, where others with more horizontal roots 
may thrive. These inferences are proved to be correct 
by observations in agriculture and forestry generally 

Mountainous regions, which are not so elevated but 
that corn might grow sufficiently well in them, in so far 
as depends upon the conditions of the air or climate, are 
yet frequently not adapted for its cultivation, on account 
of the too near approach of the rock to the surface, or 
shallowness of the soil, and produce nothing but grasses, 
and some other pasture plants, among which, however, 
there is the greatest difference in this respect. Tri/b- 
lium montanum, for example, can support itself on rocky 
mountains, where T. pratense could not grow. Hedy- 
sarum onobrychis grows luxuriantly on the sunny de- 
clivities of calcareous mountains, where Medicago sativa 
(Lucern) does not find a suitable station. The cultiva- 
tion of this excellent pasture plant in some mountain- 
ous regions, especially where the rocks are calcareous, 
has not proved so advantageous as might have been ex- 
pected, because the plants have died out in the course of 
a few years ; whereas, in proper places, where its very 
long roots find a sufficient depth of soil, they usually 
last for a great length of time. 

The vicinity of the rock to the under surface of the ve- 
getable mould, or the shallowness of the soil, seems to be 
the principal cause why the Beech grows better on many 
calcareous mountains than the Oak, which, on the other 


hand, finds a fitter station on mountains in which sand- 
stone predominates, where the soil is usually deeper. 
It would seem to be for a similar reason that the Beech 
grows in many rocky districts, for example, on the 
Hartz Mountains, at pretty considerable heights, espe- 
cially on the sides of valleys which run to the south, 
while these places do not admit the Oak, which is found 
in the middle provinces of Sweden and Norway ; while 
the Beech, on the other hand, grows only in the southern 
parts. From the deficiency of soil, the Upper Hartz can 
produce neither the Pinus pinea, nor P. sylvestris; the 
horizontal roots, however, of the Abies, or Norway Spruce, 
are content with the small portion of earth which co- 
vers the greywacke and slate, although they cannot find 
sufficient hold to protect its lofty trunks from being 
thrown down by the tempest. In some parts of the Forest 
of Thuringia, where the covering of loose earth is deep- 
er than in the Hartz, the Pinus picea, or pitch pine, 
grows luxuriantly. The common fir, Pinus sylvestris, 
which attains a great height in proper soil, on the con- 
trary, is stunted and distorted on rocky mountains, 
where the roots soon come in contact with the rock. It 
there loses the character of a tree, and assumes that of a 
shrub, as in place of a single upright stem, several 
branches shoot out, and these, not unfrequently, are 
creeping or bent. 

The different conditions of rocks, especially their struc- 
ture and their state of cohesion, are of some importance in 
producing these effects ; for the surface of rocks must be 
detrimental or impervious to the roots of plants, in pro- 
portion to the compactness of their structure, and the co- 
hesion of their parts. Schistose rocks, for example, af- 


ford a more easy passage to roots, than granular crystal- 
line ones ; pure quartz resists the roots of plants in the 
highest degree ; sandstone much less ; and pure limestone, 
on account of its comparatively small number of fissures, 
is much less favourable to vegetation than marl, chalk, 
or slightly cohering calcareous rocks, the masses of which 
are usually split in all directions. 

The direction and inclination of the strata have also 
some influence in this matter ; for, in proportion as the 
principal fissures of the strata are, from their direction 
or inclination, more readily presented to the roots of ve- 
getables, the less prejudicial will their surface be to ve- 
getation. Horizontal strata, therefore, are the least fa- 
vourable to vegetation, perpendicular ones the most. 
In the inclination of strata intermediate in some degree 
between these positions, the roots of vegetables will find 
a greater obstacle on the side of a hill in which the sur- 
face of a stratum is opposed to them, than on the other, 
in which the principal fissures of the strata are open. 
The effects of this circumstance may frequently be ob- 
served in mountainous tracts having two principal incli- 
nations, the state of vegetation, and especially the growth 
of wood, being more prosperous on the one of these de- 
clivities than on the other. 

The surface of the solid strata of the earth may also 
have an indirect influence upon the cultivation of vege- 
tables. The various inclinations of this surface deserve 
first to be considered, being of the greatest effect with 
regard to fixing the fertile soil. The horizontal position 
of a rocky surface is in the highest degree favourable to 
the stability of vegetable earth ; and the greater its an- 
gle of inclination, the greater is the danger of its losing 


the soil upon it. In a highly inclined plane, the imperfect 
support of the centre of gravity is the sole cause of the 
loss of earth ; in a less inclined plane the diminution of 
soil is usually caused by water, which produces this ef- 
fect in a greater or less degree, according to the differ- 
ence of inclination. In both these modes, by which a re- 
moval of soil is produced, the effect may be modified by 
a difference in the condition of the loose earth, as not 
only its stability as to situation, but also its resistance 
to the power of water, vary according to the size, fi- 
gure, and cohesion of the parts, as well as their adhesion 
to the surface of the rock. Sandy loose soils, for ex- 
ample, are more liable to transposition than marly or 
loamy ones; and these, again, are more easily moved 
than such as are clayey and adhesive. 

Whatever be the nature of the soil, a small degree of 
inclination in the solid rock is sufficient to favour its de- 
nudation by the removal of the former ; and the inclina- 
tions of the surfaces of rocks having a covering of earth 
and vegetation, are in reality much less considerable 
than we usually suppose them to be, judging merely by 
the eye. The celebrated Humboldt has published ob- 
servations on this subject. According to his measure- 
ments, a slop of even fifteen degrees appears steep, and 
a declivity of thirty-seven degrees is so abrupt, that if it 
be covered with a dense sward, it can scarcely be climbed. 
The inclination of the pastures of the Alps seldom ex- 
ceeds an angle of ten or fifteen degrees, and a slope 
of twenty degrees is pretty steep. At an inclination of 
forty degrees, the surface of the rock is sometimes covered 
with earth bearing a sward, but at a greater inclination 
the I'ocks are usually destitute of soil and vegetation. 


In the Upper Hartz, the most common inclination of 
the declivities of the mountains is twenty-five degrees ; 
nor does it usually exceed thirty-three, at which inclina- 
tion the beech and spruce grow. The greatest declivi- 
ties at which ground can be advantageously cultivated 
have an inclination of thirty degrees. 

The roots of vegetables, especially of grasses, shrubs, 
and trees, are of much importance in supporting the 
earth upon the declivities of rocks. Care must therefore 
be taken that the declivities of mountains which are co- 
vered with turf or wood, be not altogether deprived of 
these coverings, as sometimes happens in consequence of 
loosening the turf for agricultural purposes, or of incau- 
tiously extirpating the wood. In Norway, near Roraas, 
there occur mountains, destitute of all vegetation, that 
had formerly been covered with woods, but where now, 
from the deficiency of soil, no seeds could take root. 
The same is the case in many parts of the Alps, where, 
from the irregular long-continued removal of the timber, 
the sides of mountains which were formerly covered 
with thick woods, now show nothing but naked rocks. 
For this reason, in mountainous countries with very steep 
declivities, the breeding of cattle and planting of woods 
are often more advantageous than agriculture. In France 
the greatest inclination of the public roads is limited by 
law to an angle of four degrees and forty-six minutes : 
a similar restriction with regard to agriculture might 
not be without benefit in certain mountainous countries. 

The inclinations of the surface of the solid crust of 
the earth vary much, according to the different qualities 
of the rocks ; some having a tendency to form abrupt 
precipices, others, again, to produce gentle declivities. 


For this reason, mountains consisting of quartz or por- 
phyry, for example, very frequently present surfaces des- 
titute of vegetation ; while, on the other hand, those of 
granite, slate or sandstone, are more frequently adapted 
for agriculture and planting. In the northern parts of 
Scotland, quartz rocks, destitute of all vegetation, rise 
in the midst of mountains covered with gramineous plants, 
and sometimes wood. In the most fertile part of the 
south of Norway porphyritic mountains rise from a cal- 
careous and schistose base, with lofty, rugged, and bare 
cliffs. In the southern parts of the Tyrol the rocky ste- 
rility of the abrupt and lofty porphyritic mountains pre- 
sents a striking contrast to the fertility of the neighbour- 
ing limestone mountains, which are covered with vines, 
walnuts and chesnuts. 

The surface of the solid strata of the earth has also an 
indirect influence upon the cultivation of plants, in so 
far as the water which the vegetable mould acquires 
from the atmosphere, is retained in the soil, or is drawn 
off by the subjacent rock. Different rocks produce very 
different effects in this respect, depending as well upon 
their constitution as their structure. The component 
parts of rocks imbibe water in different modes and de- 
grees ; and different sorts of rocks not only attract water 
with different celerity, but also imbibe different quanti- 
ties of it. The latter difference depends chiefly upon 
the various substances of which rocks are composed, 
partly, also, upon their porosity. Siliceous rocks attract 
water in the lowest degree, argillaceous ones in the high- 
est, and calcareous rocks appear to have an intermediate 
action in this respect. Compact and granular crystal- 
line rocks attract water in a smaller degree, and more 
slowly ; friable or crumbled rocks imbibe it in greater 


quantity, and with more celerity than those which are 
not disintegrated. The condition of rocks with regard 
to the attraction of water, affects, in a different manner, 
the humidity of soil ; for, by this attraction, moisture 
may as well be abstracted from, as imparted to, the loose 
earth or soil by which rocks are covered. Part of the 
moisture which vegetable earth or soil derives from the 
atmosphere passes into the subjacent mass of rock, but 
this may again be compensated by evaporation ; on which 
account the soil of such rocks as have but a small attrac- 
tion for water usually dries up more readily than soils 
whose solid substratum attracts and retains the moisture 
in a greater degree. 

It is probable that the structure of rocks has also a 
greater, and not less, diversified influence upon the hu- 
midity of productive soil. Solid rocks, which are not 
traversed by numerous perpendicular fissures penetrat- 
ing to a considerable depth, allow the water to remain 
in the soil ; but columnar and schistose rocks, with per- 
pendicular fissures, and strata declined from the hori- 
zontal position, draw off' the water from the soil co- 
vering their surface, into lower places, where it often 
re-appears under the form of springs. In these circum- 
stances, we find a partial explanation of the great diffe- 
rence between the humidity of soil covering a surface of 
solid granite, and that lying upon limestone, which is 
intersected by numerous fissures. Granitic mountains 
are often furnished with marshes, whereas, on the other 
hand, the dryness of the soil upon calcareous mountains 
is generally excessive *, the cause of which phenomenon 

* The dryness depends chiefly, if not entirely, on the fissures or di- 
visions in the rocky base of the soil : for, in some parts of Sologne in 


is, in a great measure, to be attributed to the circum- 
stances above mentioned. Columella observes, that silex 
having a moderate covering of earth, preserves to the 
latter its humidity ; and Palladius repeats the remark. 
In districts which consist of quartzose rocks, not less 
than of granitic ones, the surface is often covered with 
marshes. Porphyritic rocks, on the contrary, which 
have a remarkable segregation of parts, as well as co- 
lumnar basalt, let off the water to lower places. Springs 
are very frequently found at the bottom of basaltic moun- 
tains ; for the atmospheric waters penetrate by the per- 
pendicular fissures to the strata on which the basalt rests, 
and appear at the place where the two rocks meet. 

The effect of different rocks upon the preservation and 
diminution of the moisture of fertile soil, influences ve- 
getation in various degrees. The retentive power of the 
surface of rocks is of the greatest importance, where the 
soil consists chiefly of sand, through which the water 
percolates, and passes off' entirely, unless it meets with a 
stratum of such a nature, as to obstruct its passage, or 
comes upon a surface of solid rock. The cause of the 
sterility of sandy plains is not merely their sandy nature, 
but also the great depth of the mass or rock capable of re- 
taining the water. The same sand, when covering moun- 

France, as stated by Mr Arthur Young, and in sundry districts of Eng- 
land, chalk and limestone bottoms are occasionally observed to be re- 
tentive and wet. Undergrounds, formed of chalk or limestone, have 
frequently a thin covering of vegetable mould, from their being, in some 
cases, over close and wet, and in others over open and dry ; the former 
condition being unfriendly to vegetation and the formation of mould, 
and the latter too readily permitting its departure when formed, or other- 
wise favouring the decomposition and waste of that material. 



tains consisting of sandstone, has a much less degree of 
sterility than in those plains, because the surface of the 
subjacent rock impedes the progress of the water, and 
consequently retains it in the soil *. It has been suffi- 
ciently proved by experiments, that plants can grow in 
pure sand, when furnished with the necessary quantity of 
water. A subjacent rocky surface has an entirely different 
effect upon soil which is very retentive of moisture, upon 
a clay soil for example, as, in that case, the humidity is 

* The reason here assigned is confirmed by some observations de- 
livered by one of the latest and most intelligent of the English wri- 
ters on agriculture. " If,*' says Mr Marshall, " the several strata" 
(viz. the subsoil and base) " are of so loose a texture, as to permit the 
waters of rains to pass quickly downward, without being in any suf- 
ficient degree arrested by the soil, the land may be said to be worth- 
less to agriculture." He adds, " Before we suggest any improve- 
ment of lands of the latter description, it will be proper to premise, 
that many of the light sandy soils of Norfolk, which would other- 
wise be uniformly absorbed to a great depth, have a thin earthy 
substance, or " Pan," which intervenes between the soil and the 
subsoil, and which is of such a texture, as to check the descent of 
rain waters, and thereby retain them the longer in the soil, as well 
as to prevent the manure it contains from being carried away by 
their rapid descent ; yet sufficiently pervious to prevent a surcharge 
of moisture from injuring the produce. To this fortunate circum- 
stance is principally owing the fertility of the lands of East Norfolk : 
for wherever this filter happens to be broken by the plough, or 
otherwise, the soil becomes unfertile, and continues to be so for a 
length of years." (See Norfolk, vol. i. page 11.) " This fact aptly 
suggests the expedient of improving, or fresh forming, a filter of 
this kind ; seeing how capable it is of producing so many valuable 
advantages ; the more especially, as it is probably the Norfolk pan 
owes its origin to fortuitous art, rather than to nature." (See Nor- 
folk, vol. i. page 12.) " A millstone, or other heavy wheel-shaped 
stone, made to run upon its edge, i the bottom of the plough-furrow 


increased to a prejudicial degree. In land of this nature, 
a substratum of rock having the property of drawing off 
the water would be useful. 

The different conditions of rocks with regard to calo- 
ric, may have some indirect influence upon the vigour of 
plants. Heat, whether imparted to the vegetable soil by 
the sun's rays, or generated by various chemical processes 
in the earth itself, penetrates to the surface of the sub- 
jacent rocks, and is more or less drawn from it in a long- 
er or shorter time. Columella observes, that rocks in 
the upper part of the soil are prejudicial to vines and 
trees, but in the lower part cool them. The heat of 
soil will be more or less drawn from it, according to 
the greater or less conducting power of the subjacent 
rock. Compact crystalline rocks are probably better 
conductors of caloric than those which are of looser tex- 
ture ; siliceous rocks than argillaceous and calcareous 
ones. The influence of the subjacent rock must be 
greater in this respect, in proportion to the thinness of 
the superincumbent soil. The effect of the abduction 
of caloric is more particularly sensible, where the roots 
of cultivated plants touch the rock, a circumstance 

(the thickness of its edge being equal to the width of the furrow), 
by the help of an axle and wheels, would greatly compress a light, 
porous subsoil. The idea of forming a pan artificially, struck me 
first in Norfolk ; and time and experience have strengthened it. If 
the experiment be made on a compressible subsoil, as sandy loam, 
or the soft rubble which sometimes intervenes between an absorbent 
soil and an open rock, there can be little doubt of its success. But 
on loose open gravel, which is not sufficiently mixed with tenacious 
mould to sheath it, and lying on an open base, less utility may be ex- 
pected from it." 



which we often see in vineyards. The vine frequently 
thrives remarkably on the declivities of mountains, in. 
which it sends its roots among fragments of stones. Ex- 
perience shows, that the quality of wine is influenced by 
the different conditions of the stones, among which vines 
are planted. Albertus Magnus has observed, that the 
vine thrives well in earth which is mixed with fragments 
of black roofing slate ; and Humboldt remarks, that the 
vines which grow upon the mountains of the valley of 
the Rhine, consisting of black elay-slate, afford an excel- 
lent wine. At the Cape of Good Hope, also, the vine 
thrives well in a soil produced by the decomposition of 
clay-slate, and mixed with fragments of it *. It is pro- 
bable, that the adaptation of this sort of soil to the cul- 
tivation of the vine, depends upon its slow conducting 
power, and upon its rapidly imbibing the rays of the sun, 
on account of its dark colour, and thus increasing the 
heat of the ground. 

Hitherto we have only spoken of the proximate in- 
fluence of rocks upon plants ; but it cannot be denied, 
that the remote effects which they produce, (inasmuch a& 
vegetable soil is derived from them, and, therefore, the 
qualities of this soil depend in a great measure upon their 
nature,) are of greater importance. 

It is from the rocks which constitute the crust of the 
earth, that the principal portion of productive soil is de- 
rived. Although other substances belonging to the ani- 
mal and vegetable kingdoms, are necessary for the 

Vide Dr Adam of Calcutta's Remarks on the Rocks and Soil of 
Constantia at the Cape of Good Hope, in an early number of the 
Edinburgh Philosophical Journal. 


nourishment of plants, a soil consisting chiefly of inor- 
ganic particles is still more necessary, both for sustaining 
their roots, and for receiving, retaining, and partly also 
preparing nutrition for them ; for, according to accurate 
observations, some inorganic substances exert an influ- 
ence upon the decomposition of animal and vegetable re- 
mains. These effects vary much according to differences 
in the aggregation and chemical nature of the inorganic 
parts ; of which circumstances, however, the different qua- 
lities of rocks are the ultimate cause. 

Two kinds of productive soil may be distinguished 
with regard to their origin. The soil has either originated 
in the place in which it now is from the subjacent rock, 
or it has been transported to the places in which it is now 
found by some power, especially by that of water. The 
first kind may be named untransported, the second trans- 
ported soil. To the first kind of soil is to be referred a 
great part of the soil which covers the summits and de- 
clivities of mountains, and to the other, the soil which 
fills the bottoms of valleys, as well as a great part of the 
loose soil of extensive strata in hilly countries and plains. 
Untransported soil is generally thinner than the trans- 
ported ; and of the two the latter is that which most fre- 
quently occurs in low land. The first kind of soil, the 
untransported, is found to be more or less similar, in 
its principal constituent parts, to the rocks from which 
it has originated; in the other kind, the transported 
soil, on the contrary, the parts which were originally in 
connection, have been variously separated and mixed, by 
the agency of the powers by which its transportation was 

The quantity and quality of the soil derived from 


the disintegration of rocks, must depend upon the na- 
ture of these rocks; its quality being determined by 
the constituent parts of the rock from which it origina- 
ted, and its quantity being proportioned to the greater 
or less degree in which the rock may resist decomposi- 

The disintegration of rocks, and their conversion into 
loose earth, are partly mechanical, and partly chemical. 
The principal mechanical powers, by which disintegra- 
tion is effected, are, \st, The weight of the loosened 
parts ; 2*2, Water, not merely in its liquid and mobile 
state, but also, and that chiefly, in the state of ice ; 3d, 
The roots of vegetables in general, and especially of trees. 
These powers usually act more or less in conjunction, 
and the effects produced by this union are in many 
cases almost incredible. 

The disintegration of rocks commences in those parts 
where the power of cohesion is least energetic. Rents 
take place owing to the unequal attraction of parts, and 
also in the direction of planes, in which heterogeneous 
parts are in contact; and in this manner the original 
structure of rocks determines the first steps of their dis- 
integration. Water, which enters into the minute fissures 
of rocks, by the power of capillary attraction, is ex- 
panded by congelation, and thus overcomes the cohesion 
of parts, and produces rents. The roots of trees acting 
as wedges, produce the same effect in a wonderful de- 
gree, a phenomenon which has been so well illustrated 
by Annaeus Seneca, in his Natural Questions. " Let us 
consider ," says he, " how great a power is exerted by the 
most minute seeds, which, although at first small as they 
can scarcely find a place in the crevices of rocks, yet 


at length grow to such a size as to rend asunder vast 
rocks, overturning crags and cliffs, by the power of their 
very minute and delicate roots." The parts of rocks 
loosened by these powers, are entirely separated, and are 
carried to a great or less distance, by streams of water, 
and in the higher regions, by the power of winds. In 
cliffs and precipices which have been formed by the split- 
ting of masses of rock, effected in the manner above 
described, the loosened parts often lose their stability ; 
and, following the direction of gravity, fall to the 
ground, an effect which has also been described by Se- 
neca in another place. " Nor is it alone probable," 
says he, " that rocks are split asunder by their mere 
weight, but also when streams of water are carried over 
them, the continual moisture works into the joinings of 
the rock, and daily takes away a portion of the connect- 
ing matter, and, if I may so speak, abrades the skin by 
which it is contained. At length, in the course of ages, 
this gradual detrition so much diminishes the supporting 
parts, that they can no longer sustain the weight. Then 
masses of vast size fall down, and the rock tumbling 
from its ancient seat, overwhelms whatever lies below." 
The cohesion of some rocks, especially argillaceous ones, 
is so slight, and their porosity so great, that their small- 
est parts imbibe water, and are sensibly softened by it, 
an effect which is much assisted by the freezing of the 
water. This mechanical change is experienced by the dif- 
ferent varieties of common clay, slate-clay, and some 
other rocks. 

Chemical powers often act in conjunction with mecha- 
nical ones, in breaking down rocks, the former, the che- 
mical, frequently finishing what had been begun by the 


latter. Mechanical powers only changing the aggrega- 
tion of rocks, may break down their parts to a certain 
size, according to their different nature; chemical powers, 
again, which change the nature of substances, destroy 
the connection of the minute parts of rocks. When che- 
mical is preceded by mechanical action, it is much assist- 
ed by it. The latter has a much more general effect, 
as all rocks are subjected to its influence ; chemical de- 
composition, on the other hand, acts only upon some 
rocks, and in these only upon certain parts. The che- 
mical decomposition of rocks is chiefly effected by the 
oxygen of atmospheric air and of water ; but we are al- 
so persuaded, that certain cryptogamic plants, intimately 
attached to the surface of stones, Lichens namely, assist 
in their destruction. 

The oxygen of air and water can only affect the con- 
stituent parts of rocks, which have a great affinity to 
it, such as the iron and sulphur forming pyrites, oxydu- 
lous iron, oxydulous manganese, or the same substances 
mixed with earth or carbonic acid, charcoal and bitumen. 
Very solid and compact masses of rock, such as green- 
stone, which are not easily affected by other means, are 
sometimes corroded by the chemical change of the pyrites 
contained in them, by which it is converted into a hy- 
drate of iron *. In certain other rocks, which are also 
readily broken down by mechanical agents, clay-slate for 
instance, the disintegration is much accelerated by the 
decomposition of the pyrites. The oxydulous iron of 

* The ochre yellow colour of the decayed greenstone around Edin- 
burgh, and in general in many trap districts in this country, is caused 
by the decomposition of the imbedded iron pyrites. 


felspar is commonly converted by decomposition into a 
hydrate or ochre. The carbonate of iron, as well as of 
manganese, which sometimes occur in rocks, in limestone 
rock for example, are deprived of carbonic acid by the 
oxidation of their bases. Charcoal and bitumen, which 
are sometimes contained in rocks, limestone and argil- 
laceous ones for example, are dissipated by the contact 
of air, so that rocks which were originally of a dark 
colour, lose it, and become whitish. Water, as a chemi- 
cal agent, contributes so much to the decomposition of 
certain rocks, that, either in a pure state, or in combina- 
tion with carbonic acid, it dissolves their parts, of which 
gypsum and limestone afford examples. In certain other 
minerals, in felspar for instance, a separation of the consti- 
tuent parts, produced by the contact of air and water, is 
observed, the proximate cause of which has not hitherto 
been discovered. The mass is decomposed, its lamellar 
structure is converted into an earthy nature, the alkali 
contained in the felspar is extracted by the water, a mine- 
ral is produced, to which the Chinese have given the name 
of Kaolin, and which is adapted for the manufacture of 
porcelain. Granite and gneiss occur in some districts, 
the felspar of which is decomposed in this manner 
through the whole mass, a circumstance which must be 
of great importance in regard to the formation of pro- 
ductive soil. 

Cryptogamic plants covering the surface of rocks, and 
thriving well in this situation, where more perfect vege- 
tables could not grow, seem also destined to promote the 
chemical decomposition of rocks, an effect which they 
produce both directly and indirectly. As they imbibe 
the water of the atmosphere, and retain it like a sponge, 


they keep up a constant application of this substance to 
the rock, and in this manner contribute indirectly to its 
decomposition. There are some cryptogamic plants also, 
which consume certain portions of the rocks with which 
they are in contact, corrode their surface, and destroy 
the cohesion of its parts, effects which may chiefly be 
seen in certain cryptogamic plants attached to calcareous 
rocks. In this manner one sort of vegetation prepares a 
place for another, and the most imperfect vegetables are 
subservient to the growth of the more perfect. 

After premising thus much, we shall now proceed to 
the examination of the principal rocks, in so far as re- 
gards their connection with the formation of productive 
soil, beginning with those which resist decomposition in 
the highest degree, and ending with those which are 
the most conducive to the formation of loose earth and 

In the first class, we place those rocks which experience 
no chemical decomposition, in so far as regards their prin- 
cipal mass, and whose cohesion of parts is so great that 
mechanical powers can only open their natural fissures 
to a greater extent, and thus break them down into frag- 
.ments. Of this kind are vitreous lava, pure quartz, com- 
pact quartz, flinty slate, and porphyry with a siliceous 
basis. On mountains consisting of these rocks, scarcely 
any productive soil is found, and frequently none at all. 
They are usually characterized by sterile rocks and cliffs, 
the bases of which are covered with innumerable rough 
fragments of stones, retaining their sharp edges for a 
great length of time, the heaps of which seldom produce 
any thing else than mosses, which frequently cover the 
interstices of fragments, occasionally a few grasses, and 


sometimes a solitary shrub or tree. Examples, Bennevis, 
Paps of Jura, and Morven Hills. Of all rocks, vitreous 
volcanic productions are the least capable of contributing 
to the formation of productive soil. Their dark coloured 
tracts descend from volcanic mountains to the valleys in 
frightful sterility, the chinks of their rugged masses 
scarcely affording sufficient water for the roots of mosses*. 
To the second class we refer compact limestone, a rock 
which contributes extensively to the formation of the 
sol d crust of the globe. In so far as regards its princi- 
pal constituent parts, it is not affected by atmospheric 
water or air ; but, as its parts have but comparatively 
little cohesion, and are usually separated in a consider- 
able degree by minute fissures, they are more liable to 
be broken down and crumbled by mechanical powers, 
than those of the rocks belonging to the first class. In 
districts where the fundamental rock is limestone, the 
layers of loose original soil or subsoil are thin, and filled 
with numerous fragments. As the soil arising from the 
disintegration of limestone contains a great proportion of 
calcareous matter, it is neither favourable to the growth 
of plants in general, nor to that of the greater number of 
vegetables which are the object of cultivation. Soil of 
this kind is too hot, dry and stony ; hence the reason 
why districts, in which pure limestone rocks predominate, 
are often sterile. The case is different, however, where 
a portion of clay enters as an ingredient into the compo- 
sition of calcareous rocks, for here the soil is usually very 

" The Streams of Obsidian in Iceland, Lipari, Peak of TenerifFe, 
Ascension, and Mexico, afford striking examples of the fact stated 


productive ; or, where rocks of a different nature alter- 
nate with masses of pure limestone, having a greater 
capability than it of contributiug to the formation of pro- 
ductive soil. When water, containing carbonic acid, 
passes through limestone rocks, it dissolves portions of 
it, and deposits them in other places, by which the 
decomposition of the limestone and the formation of loose 
earth may be in some measure accelerated. 

To the third class belong chalk and gypsum ; which, 
in so far as regards their decomposition by chemical 
means, are of a similar nature with compact limestone ; 
but possessing a much slighter cohesion of parts, are more 
liable to be broken down by mechanical means. Water 
also dissolves gypsum, and thus assists in its disintegra- 
tion. The soil arising from these rocks resembles that 
produced by compact limestone, which explains the want 
of fertility, observable in certain gypseous tracts of the 
North of Germany, and in the chalk districts of France. 
The fertility which we see in certain places where chalk 
is the fundamental rock, as in the Isle of Wight, Island 
of Rugen, &c. is to be attributed as well to argillaceous 
and marly strata alternating with the chalk, as to the 
greater humidity of the atmosphere, by which the dry- 
ness and heat of the soil are diminished. 

In the fourth class we place certain rocks, composed 
of different minerals, but compact in appearance, which, 
although they resist mechanical disintegration, are yet 
subject to chemical action, and are, by means of it, con- 
verted into a loose, compound productive soil. Of this 
kind are basalt, and some other rocks very nearly allied 
to it. 

To the fifth class we refer those rocks which have 


a crystalline, granular, or slaty texture. The mutual 
adhesion of the heterogeneous parts, of which they con- 
sist, being, in general, inconsiderable, they are easily 
broken down by mechanical means, and thus contribute in 
a high degree to the formation of productive soil. The 
felspar contained in these rocks, on account of the chemi- 
cal decomposition which it readily undergoes, has a great 
effect not only upon the quantity, but also the fertility 
of the soil produced. The quartz, on the contrary, as 
well as the mica and hornblende, long resist chemical de- 
composition; they are, however, useful in this respect, that 
the argillaceous soil arising from the felspar, has its tena- 
city diminished ; and is consequently rendered better 
adapted for vegetation, by being intermixed with them. 
Granite and gneiss, of all truly granular crystalline rocks, 
afford the deepest and most fertile soil, aptly compound- 
ed of different substances, sufficiently loose in its aggrega- 
tion, and capable of retaining the necessary moisture. 
Soil arising from the disintegration of granite is unfa- 
vourable to vegetation only, where the rock abounds much 
in quartz, and where the superfluous water cannot run 
off, and so gives rise to marshes, which produce only ve- 
getables of inferior quality ; of which we have examples 
in the granite districts of Aberdeen. In such places as 
these, peat is easily generated, which, although of great 
use, is yet much less advantageous than wood. Syenite^ 
which abounds much in hornblende, is inferior to gra- 
nite, with respect to the production of fertile soil ; and 
primitive greenstone^ which resists disintegration and de- 
composition in the highest degreej occupies the last place 
in this class. In the series of slaty crystalline rocks, mica- 
slate is next to gneiss : but on account of the small pro- 


portion of felspar which enters into its composition, it 
does not afford so productive a soil. 

In the sixth class may be placed the slaty rocks, whe- 
ther simple, or intimately compounded, which do not 
readily undergo chemical decomposition, but which easi- 
ly separate at their natural fissures, and are mechanically 
resolved into an earthy mass, forming a paste with wa- 
ter, circumstances which are observed chiefly in day- 
slate, a rock of much importance in the formation of 
productive soil, usually passing into a clayey sort of 

To the seventh class belong the conglomerated rocks, 
whose parts indeed undergo very little, if any, chemical 
change, but are easily separated by mechanical means, 
and are thus converted into a gravelly, sandy, or earthy 
mass. Of this kind are greywacke, old red sandstone ', 
and sandstones of various kinds. Much diversity is ex- 
hibited by these rocks, with regard to the facility with 
which they undergo disintegration, as well as the nature 
of the soil arising from them; circumstances which 
chiefly depend upon the nature of the cement, and its 
relation to the parts cemented. The disintegration of 
these rocks is the more easily effected that the cement is 
abundant, and less intimately connected with the other 
parts, that is, the more they depart from a crystalline 
nature ; on which account greywacke is less easily con- 
verted into soil, than the common varieties of sandstone. 
By the decomposition of greywacke, a loose and fertile 
soil is formed, containing particles of quartz and clay in 
due proportion ; on the other hand, by the decomposi- 
tion of red sandstone, a soil is frequently produced, a- 
bounding in argillaceous particles impregnated with iron, 


and therefore stiff and cold. The variegated sand- 
stone, with a marly cement, not unfrequently affords a 
pretty fertile soil ; the quadersandstem, on the contrary, 
commonly presents a sandy and arid soil. 

Lastly, in the eighth class we shall place those rocks, 
whether simple or intimately compounded, whose nature 
is so loose, or whose parts are so separated, that they 
fall with great facility into an earthy mass, and are also 
in part mechanically reduced by water. To this class 
belong the different varieties of marl, slate-clay, basaltic 
and volcanic tujfa. These rocks, many of which are ex- 
tensively diffused, are of much importance in the forma- 
tion of productive soil, although the quality of the earth 
produced by them varies much, according to their diffe- 
rent natures. Slate-clay affords an argillaceous soil ; in 
earth produced by the decomposition of marl, the clay is 
diminished in proportion to the greater abundance of the 
calcareous or sandy parts ; while a mixed and very fer- 
tile soil is usually generated from basaltic and volcanic 

The various relations which exist in the stratification 
and position of rocks, have much influence in producing 
a diversity in the soil formed immediately from their de- 
composition. This diversity cannot be so great when 
different rocks of various ages occur in a determinate or- 
der in horizontal strata ; in which case, the uppermost 
bed may exhibit a great extent of surface of the same 
nature. When, on the other hand, strata of rocks of diffe- 
rent natures, forms, and dimensions, placed at different 
angles of inclination, and in different directions, appear 
at the surface, it will easily be understood how it may 


happen that the soil produced by their decomposition 
may occur of very different qualities, in places not very 
distant from each other. The manner in which the soil 
is influenced by a difference in the arrangement and po- 
sition of the strata, will become evident, on comparing 
districts in which one particular sort of rock lies beneath 
the surface in horizontal strata, with others in which the 
solid substratum is composed of various rocks differing 
in their inclination towards the horizon. In districts of 
the former kind, the qualities of the soil vary in gene- 
ral but little ; in such as are of the latter kind, on the 
contrary, they are often found extremely different. The 
great diversity of soil seen in England, as well as in 
Germany, may, in fact, be partly explained by the cir- 
cumstance, that, in those countries, the nature and posi- 
tion of the strata vary every where. On the other 
hand, the great similarity which pervades the soil of 
Southern Russia, is without doubt produced by a uni- 
formity in the position and inclination of the limestone 
which lies immediately under the soil. 

The nature of the principal mass of the strata usually 
exerts a great degree of influence over the qualities of 
the soil. When the solid substratum is sandstone, its 
effect upon the soil is, in general, as evidently seen, 
though not perhaps in an equal degree, as when it is 
marl. Exceptions, however, to this rule sometimes oc- 
cur ; as, for instance, when the principal mass of a rock 
which resists disintegration in a high degree contains 
beds that are easily reduced to earth. This is the case 
with the shell limestone (muschelkalkstein) of Ger- 
many, the mountains of which are not unfrequently co- 


vered with a clayey soil, which has not been produced 
by the decomposition of the principal strata themselves, 
but by that of the slate- clay and argillaceous marl alter- 
nating with them. 

Hitherto we have considered untransported soil, or that 
produced from the disintegration or decomposition of the 
subjacent rocks in the places where it occurs ; we have 
now to examine the relations which exist between the 
subjacent rock, and the transported soil lying upon it. 
The nature of the rock does not indeed influence, except- 
ing in a more remote degree, the transported soil, which 
has been carried to a greater or less distance from the 
places of [its production, by the agency of moving 
powers, and again deposited of various forms and 
compositions. However, it may often be plainly seen, 
that the materials of this soil have been derived from 
particular rocks, and that these rocks have exerted some 
degree of influence over the formation and distribution 
of the transported soil. The examination of these rela- 
tions is of great importance, because it is with secondary 
or transported soil that agriculture is principally con- 
cerned. The varieties of transported soil depend chiefly 
upon three circumstances : \st 9 The nature of the rocks 
from which they are derived ; 2c%, The quality and ef- 
fect of the moving powers ; &%, The changes which they 
may have undergone after their formation. 

The origin of the materials which enter into the com- 
position of transported soil, has been already considered. 
From their difference may be easily explained why soil 
generated from the debris of primitive crystalline rocks 
has different qualities from soil which has been derived 
from strata of sandstone or marl. 



The principal powers which contribute to the trans- 
portation of soil, are, The weight of loose masses, ice, 
and water. The weight of loose masses is a cause of 
transportation which we frequently see in operation. By 
it the huge cones of debris at the base and upon the de- 
clivities of precipices and mountains, are gradually car- 
ried off toward the bottom of the valleys ; a phenomenon 
which can scarcely any where be better seen than in the 
valleys of the Alps, where mountains sometimes occur 
evidently consisting of debris, and clothed with trees and 
shrubs, or covered with pastures, the masses of which 
are gradually moved, as upon inclined planes, by the ac- 
tion of the water which percolates through them. 

Ice effects the transportation of rocks and debris, with 
a power which nothing can resist. This is no where 
more conspicuous than among the glaciers of the Alps, 
by the falling of which great heaps of stones and rubbish 
are produced. The transportation of large stones by 
means of ice may also be seen in our mountain torrents 
in winter. Huge masses of stone, scattered over the 
plains of the north of Germany and the islands of Den- 
mark, and often very prejudicial to agriculture, whose 
northern origin appears to be established, may have been 
carried by the same powerful agent from Finland, Swe- 
den and Norway, into those countries, at a time when 
the plains of northern Germany, with the other flat dis- 
tricts along the shores of the Baltic, were still covered 
by the waves of the ocean. 

In the formation of transported soil, water usually 
exerts a great degree of power. By means of it, not 
only are vast masses transported to the greatest dis- 
tances, but their parts are at the same time crumbled 


down and mingled together. To these operations are 
to be attributed the various terminations of different 
soils at horizontal distances, as well as the different al- 
ternations of their strata at vertical ones. The power of 
water in the formation of transported soil varies, not 
only according to the different inclinations of its channel, 
but also in regard to the form, size, and weight of the 
parts carried oft* by it ; for which reason, in the forma- 
tion of such soils, the same phenomena take place on a 
large scale, that we see on a smaller, in performing the 
operations of breaking and washing the ores of metals. 
For the same reason that, in these processes, the larger 
particles subside, while the smaller are propelled, from 
which again the heavier particles of ore are sooner de- 
posited than the lighter ; in plains in the vicinity of a 
mountain, covered with transported soil, stones and de- 
bris are usually seen first, then earth, clay, and sand mixed 
together, and farther on, finer sand, with strata of clay. 

Transported or secondary soil, produced by water, 
according to the mode of its formation, is divided into 
four classes, viz. 1. Soil of Valleys; 2. River Soil; 
3. Lake Soil ; 4. Marine Soil. 

.1. Soil of Valleys. It is washed down by rain and snow 
water, and partly also produced by rivulets, which carry 
off the loose parts from the declivities of mountains to 
the plains. The nature of this soil in general clearly 
shews the nearness of its origin. Its depth is always 
greatest in the bottom of the valley, and gradually di- 
minishes toward the declivities of the mountains. The 
curvature of the different strata is usually accommodated 
to the irregularity of its external form, so that when a 
2 ah 9, 


section is made of them, they exhibit a series of parallel 
curved lines. 

2. River Soil, or the soil found in the beds and banks 
of rivers, and which is produced by the continual propel- 
ling power of large rivers. To this class belong two 
different kinds ; 1st, Soil containing pebbles of various 
sizes, produced by the power of torrents in the vicinity 
of mountains ; and, 2d, Earth or mud, deposited in the 
beds of rivers, in places at a distance from mountains. 
A peculiarity of river soil in general is, that it is much 
extended in length, while its breadth is comparatively 
but small. The different layers have neither so much 
irregularity as in the preceding kind, nor are they so 
precise in arrangement as in the following. 

3. Lake Soil, deposited at the bottom of still water. 
To this class is to be referred the soil in the bottoms of 
valleys, which had formerly been lakes, either separate 
or connected with rivers. The horizontal dimensions of 
this kind of soil are often more or less equal. Some- 
times, indeed, the length is greater than the breadth ; not, 
however, in the same degree as in soil deposited in the 
bed of rivers. The surface is usually plane, and the dif- 
ferent strata alternate in a parallel manner. 

4. Marine Soil, that is to say, the mud of the an- 
cient ocean. It is the greatest of all in its extent, both 
in a horizontal and a vertical direction. Its surface is 
more or less undulated, very seldom even. Its masses 
are .both very thick and very uniform in composition. 
Different and alternating strata, however, do occur, 
whose forms and dimensions are usually more or less 
regular, and which are not unfrequently undulated. 

Soil, after being formed, is acted upon by natural 


powers in various ways. The atmosphere is perpetually 
modifying it ; rivers, waves, and winds, act here and 
there upon its surface, and alter its external form ; wa- 
ter introduces into it the substances which it holds in so- 
lution. The different constituent parts of soil act upon 
each other chemically, and in this manner new decompo- 
sitions and mixtures are produced ; and this chemical 
change is increased by the action of vegetables, as well 
as of bodies deriving their origin from both organic 

From what has been said of the relations existing be- 
tween the masses of which the solid crust of the globe is 
composed, and the loose earth or soil by which it is co- 
vered, it appears evident enough (Hausmann concludes) 
that they have great influence over its formation and na- 
ture, and therefore upon the more perfect vegetables, 
and especially those which are the objects of cultiva- 
tion ; and that although the fertility of the soil is much 
increased by these vegetables themselves, yet the first 
foundation of their vigour is derived from the disinte- 
gration and decomposition of rocks. If this be correct, 
the constitution of the solid crust of the earth has a 
much more extended influence. For, by preparing a 
habitation for the greater and most important parts of 
plants, it also exerts a high degree of influence upon the 
animals which derive their sustenance from them, and, at 
the same time, affords the means of subsistence to man *. 

* Those who feel disposed to examine the connection of Geology 
and Agriculture, will find many additional details and views given in 
Hausmann's work, of which the above may be considered in some de- 
gree as a condensed view. 




As the Irish Elk, the Fossil Elephant or Mammoth, 
and the Mastodon, are among the most remarkable of the 
fossil and extinct species of quadrupeds mentioned in the 
preceding pages of this work, we, with the view of far- 
ther gratifying the curiosity of our readers, now lay be- 
fore them the following additional details from the writ- 
ings of Cuvier, Goldfuss, and others. 

1. Fossil Elk of Ireland, Cervus megaceros *. 

(Noticed at p. 286. ) 

One of the most magnificent of the bisulcated animals 
met with in a fossil state in the British Islands is the 
Elk of Ireland, the Cervus megaceros. Bones and 
horns of vast size of this species are almost daily dug out 
of the bogs and marl pits of Ireland. Similar re- 
mains have been met with in alluvial strata in Britain, 
and also in the Isle of Man. 

" So frequently do these remains," Mr Hart remarks, 
" occur in most parts of Ireland, that there are very few 
of the peasantry who are not, either from personal ob- 
servation or report, acquainted with them by the familiar 

* John Hart, Esq. Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 
Ireland, some time ago sent to me a copy of a very interesting tract 
entitled " A Description of the Skeleton of the Fossil Deer of Ire- 
land, Cervus megaceros ; drawn up at the instance of the Committee 
of Natural Philosophy of the Royal Dublin Society." The details 
in the text are extracted from Mr Hart's memoir, and the engraving 
of the Elk is copied from Mr Hart's lithographic delineation. 


name of the horns of " the old deer." Indeed in some 
parts of the country they have been found so often, that 
far from being regarded as objects of any extraordinary 
interest, they have been either thrown aside as lumber, 
or applied to the commonest economical uses *. 

" I have made diligent but fruitless search for an ac- 
count of the particular time when any of these remains 
were first discovered. As they generally occur in marl, 
it is most likely that they did not begin to attract atten- 
tion until the advanced state of agriculture had created 
an increased demand for that mineral as a manure. We 
can very easily imagine the astonishment which the ap- 
pearance of horns so large, and of such strange form, 
must have excited in the minds of those who discovered 
them for the first time, and how readily they obtained a 
place in the hall of some "adjoining mansion, where they 
were deposited as an ornament of great curiosity, from 
the contrast which they formed with the horns of the 
species of deer known at present. In this way we may 
account for the preservation of so many specimens as are 
found in the possession of the gentry in different parts 
of this country. 

" Very lately an entire skeleton of the Irish Elk was 
dug up in that country. The following statement of the cir- 

* In a Report which Mr Hart made to the Committee of Natu- 
ral Philosophy of the Royal Dublin Society, and which was printed 
in their Proceedings of July 8. 1824, he alluded to an instance of a 
pair of these horns having been used as a field gate near Tipperary. 
Since that he has learned that a pair had been in use for a similar 
purpose near Newcastle, county of Wicklow, until they were de- 
composed by the action of the weather. There is also a specimen in 
Charlemont House, the town residence of the Earl of Charlemont, 
which is said to have been used for some time as a temporary bridge 
across a rivulet in the county of Tyrone. 


cumstances under which the bones were found, with their 
geological position, was laid before the Dublin Society, 
in a letter from Archdean Maunsell to the Right Hon. 
George Knox. 

" Middleton Lodge, March 8. 1825. 


" I deferred replying to your letter of the 1st, as it 
was my intention to proceed to Limerick in a few days, 
and I was anxious to look over some notes I had taken, 
and which I left there, of the circumstances connected 
with the discovery of the fossil remains which the Royal 
Dublin Society have received. As I have, however, 
been obliged to postpone my departure for several days, 
I can no longer defer offering my best thanks for the 
kind manner in which you have received the conjectures 
which I formed upon a subject to which my attention was 
directed, by having fortunately been present before the 
bones were disturbed from the situation in which they 
had lain during a period which I apprehend it would 
not be easy to define. I am sensible that any considera- 
tion which may have been attached to my observations 
should be attributed to the interest which the subject 
itself is calculated to excite, rather than to any ability 
of mine to do it justice. The opinion which I took the 
liberty of communicating to you was formed after some 
consideration, and although I had not the most remote 
idea of its being worthy of any attention, I can have no 
objection to your making any use of it which you may 
conceive expedient. There is, I conceive, much inte- 
resting material for speculation, resulting from the dis- 
covery of these fossil remains, and the first that natu- 
rally occurs is the manner in which the animals were de- 


stroyed, and the bones so singularly preserved. I stat- 
ed, in the hasty sketch which I gave you of my theory 
upon this point, that I apprehended they must have 
been destroyed by some overwhelming deluge, that they 
were probably drowned upon the hills where they had 
taken refuge, as the waters rose, and that, as they sub- 
sided, they were drawn from thence into the valley in 
which they were found ; that the agitation of the waters 
had occasioned such a dispersion of the bones, when 
the ligaments dissolved, as would account for their ha- 
ving been scattered in the way in which they were 
found, and that the deposite of shell marl, with which I 
supposed the water to have been turbid, had so com- 
pletely protected them from atmospheric influence as to 
prevent their subsequent decomposition. To enable 
you to form some estimate of the reasonableness of this 
supposition, it is necessary that I should endeavour to 
explain the situation, &c. of the valley and the adjoining 
hills. The valley in which the remains were found con- 
tains about twenty plantation acres, and the soil con- 
sists of a stratum of peat about a foot thick, immediately 
under this a stratum of shell-marl, varying from 1 to 
%^ feet in thickness ; in this many of the shells retain 
their original colour and figure, and are not marine ; 
under the marl there is a bed of light blue clay ; through 
this one of my workmen drove an iron rod, in several 
places, twelve feet deep, without meeting opposition. 
Most of the bones and heads, eight in number, were 
found in the marl ; many of them, however, appeared 
to rest on the clay, and to be merely covered by the 
marl. The remains were disposed in such a manner 
as to prevent the possibility of ascertaining the exact 
component parts of each skeleton ; in some places por- 


tions were found removed many yards from others, and 
in no instance were two bones found lying close to each 
other. Their position also was singular ; in one place 
two heads were found, with the antlers entwined in each 
other, and immediately under them a large blade-bone ; 
in another, a very large head was discovered, and al- 
though a most diligent search was made, no part of the 
skeleton found ; within some hundred yards, in ano- 
ther, the jaw-bones were found, and not the head. The 
conclusion which, I conceive, may fairly be deduced 
from such a position of the various parts of the animals 
is, that there must have been some powerful agent em- 
ployed in dispersing them after their death ; and as I 
consider it impossible that their own gravity could have 
been sufficient to sink them through the various strata, 
I conceive these must have originated subsequently to 
the dispersion of the bones. I also think, that, if they 
had been exposed for any time to atmospheric influence, 
they never could have been preserved in their present 
extraordinary perfection. 

" The hills immediately adjoining this valley are 
composed of limestone, with a covering of rich mould 
of various degrees of thickness. One of them, whose 
base is about thirty acres, rises directly from the edge 
of the valley, with sides very precipitous, and in one 
place perfectly perpendicular, of naked limestone. In 
every part of this hill the superficies comprises as much 
stone as mould ; on the side nearly opposite, the hill is 
equally high, but the sides not so steep, and the cover- 
ing of mould thicker ; on the other sides the ground on- 
ly rises in some degree (twenty or thirty feet perhaps), 
and consists of a thin mould, and immediately under a 
very hard limestone gravel. Indeed, except where 


limestone forms the substratum, this is the character of 
all the soil in the vicinity except the Corkasses, which 
are evidently alluvial. I am fully aware, that, assuming 
the destruction of the animals to have been occasioned 
by a flood, they would naturally have retreated from 
the water to the hills, and that, as they probably met 
their fate there, their remains should have been disco- 
vered on the summit of the hills, and not in the valley, 
particularly as one of them is perfectly flat on the top, 
which contains six or seven acres. I apprehend that 
the remains of many of them were deposited on the 
tops of the hills ; but as they have now only a slight 
covering of mould, not sufficient to cover a small dog, 
they were formerly perfectly bare; and as they were 
thus devoid of the means of protecting the remains 
from the atmosphere, whatever was left there soon be- 
came decomposed, and resolved into portions of the 
mould, which is now to be found on the hills. This re- 
mark I conceive also to be applicable to the soil with 
the substratum of limestone gravel, which affords quite 
as little material for preserving the bones as the hills 

" It is material that I should observe, that of eight 
heads which we found, none were without antlers ; the 
variety in character also was such as to induce me to 
imagine, that possibly the females were not devoid of 
these appendages. Unfortunately, however, from the 
difficulty of raising them, being saturated with water, 
and as soft as wet brown paper, only three were at all 

Having now disposed of these antediluvians, a ques- 
tion naturally arises, how it happens that the fossil re- 
mains of no other animals were found, when the same 


fate probably overwhelmed every existing creature ? 
Could deer have been the only living beings at that 
period ? Was Ireland part of a great continent when 
this catastrophe occurred, and were these unfortunates 
the first emigrants to our Isle from that great centre 
from whence the globe was supplied with occupants, 
and did they perish before other animals less influenced 
by enterprise, and less endowed with physical strength, 
could have followed their example ? These problems 
I confess myself unable to solve, and shall not presume 
to obtrude my many reveries upon this and other points, 
which have originated in the discovery of a few bones, 
upon those who I know are so much better competent 
to form a sound opinion. I shall, I hope, be able to 
send the antlers, which are very fine, on the 15th of this 

" If you have a desire to make any use of this letter, 
I can only say I have no objection. I remain, dear Sir, 
with feelings of great respect, 

" Yours most truly, 


Of this skeleton, the most perfect hitherto found, the 
following interesting description is given by Mr Hart, 
in his memoir. 

" This magnificent skeleton is perfect in every single 
bone of the framework which contributes to form a part 
of its general outline : the spine, the chest, the pelvis, 
and the extremities, are all complete in this respect ; and, 
when surmounted by the head, and beautifully expand- 
ed antlers, which extend out to a distance of nearly six 
feet on either side, forms a splendid display of the re- 


liques of the former grandeur of the animal kingdom, 
and carries back the imagination to a period when whole 
herds of this noble animal wandered at large over the 
face of the country. 

To proceed with a description of the several parts 
of this specimen in detail, I shall commence with the 
horns, which give the animal its chief characteristic fea- 

The horns. That the description of these may be the 
more intelligible, I will first explain the terms which I 
mean to apply to their several parts. Each horn con- 
sists of the socket or root, the burr or coronary circle, 
the beam or shaft, the palm and the antlers. 

The socket or root is the part of the horn which 
grows out of the frontal bone, and which is never shed ; 
it is smooth, of a brown colour, an inch and half in 
length, and eleven inches three quarters in circumfe- 
rence ; in the animal's lifetime it was covered by the 
skin. The coronary or bead-like circle, or burr, is a 
ring of small, hard, whitish prominences, resembling a 
string of pearls, which encircles the junction of the sock- 
et with the part of the horn which falls annually from 
the heads of all deer. 

The beam or shaft extends outwards, with a curva- 
ture whose concavity looks downwards, and backwards. 
This part is nearly cylindrical at its root, and its length 
equals about one-fourth of that of the whole horn ; its 
outer end is spread out and flattened on its upper sur- 
face, and is continuous with the 

Palm, which expands outwards in a fan-like form, the 
outer extremity of which measures two feet ten inches 
across, being its broadest part. Where the beam joins 


the palm the horn undergoes a kind of twist, the effect 
of which on the palm is, to place its edges above and be- 
low, and its surfaces anterior and posterior ; the anterior 
surface is convex, and looks outwards ; the posterior is 
concave, and its surface looks towards that of the oppo- 
site palm. Such is the position of the horns, when the 
head is so placed that the zygomatic arch is parallel to 
the horizon, as it would be during progression, or whilst 
the animal stands in an easy posture. 

The antlers are the long pointed processes which pro- 
ject from the horns, two of which grow from the beam 
anteriorly ; the first comes off immediately from the root, 
and is directed downwards, overhanging the orbit ; this 
is called the brow antler, which, in this specimen, is di- 
vided into two points at its extremity *. 

The other antler, which comes off from the beam, we 
may call the sur-antler : in this specimen it consists of a 
broad plate or palm, concave on its upper surface, hori- 
zontal in its direction, and forked into two points ante- 
riorly, an appearance which I have not observed in any 
other specimen of upwards of forty which I have seen, 
nor do I find it marked in any of the plates of those 
bones extant. 

There is one antler given off posteriorly from the junc- 
tion of the beam with the palm : it runs directly back- 
wards parallel to the corresponding one of the opposite 
horn. The inferior edge of the palm beyond this runs 


* I have seen this antler dirided into three points in two specimens, 
one at the Earl of Besborough's, county Kilkenny (which measured 
eight feet four inches between the tips), the other in the hall of the 
Museum of Trinity College : it is single in the greater number of spe- 
cimens, as in those which Cuvier describes. 


outwards and backwards : it is obtuse and thick, and its 
length is two feet six inches. From the anterior and ex- 
ternal borders of each palm there come off six long point- 
ed antlers. None of these are designated by any parti- 
cular name. The number of the antlers of both sides 
taken together is twenty-two. 

The surface of the horns is of a lightish colour, re- 
sembling that of the marl in which they were found ; 
they are rough, and marked with several arborescent 
grooves, where the ramifications of the arteries by which 
they had been nourished during their growing state were 
lodged. The horns, with the head attached, weighed 
eighty-seven pounds avoirdupois. The distance be- 
tween their extreme tips in a right line is nine feet two 

Head. The forehead is marked by a raised ridge 
extended between the roots of the horns ; anterior to 
this, between the orbits and the root of the nose, the 
skull is flat ; there is a depression on each side in front 
of the root of the horn and over the orbit, capable of 
lodging the last joint of the thumb, at the bottom of 
which is the superciliary hole, large enough to give pas- 
sage to an artery proportioned to the size of the horns. 
Inferior to the orbit we have the lachrymatory fossa, 
and the opening left by the deficiency of bone common 
to all deer, and remarkable for being smaller in this than 
in any other species. 

Below the orbits the skull grows suddenly narrower, 
and the upper parts of the nasal bones become contract- 
ed by a depression on either side, at the lower part of 
which is the infra-orbitar hole. The opening of the 
nares is oval, being five inches long by three broad, the 


greatest breadth being in the centre. From the roots 
of the horns to the occipital spine measures three inches 
and an half ; the occiput descends at a right angle with 
this, being three inches deep to the foramen magnum : 
the greatest breadth of the occiput is eight inches. The 
temporal fossae approach to within two inches of each 
other behind the horns. 

Teeth. They do not differ from those of animals of 
the ruminating class. The incisors were not found, ha- 
ving dropped out ; there is no mark of canine teeth ; the 
molares are not much worn down, and are twenty-four 
in number. 

The skeleton measures, from the end of the nose to 
the tip of the tail, ten feet ten inches. The spine con- 
sists of twenty-six vertebrae, viz. seven cervical, thirteen 
dorsal, and six lumbar. The size of the cervical ver- 
tebrae greatly exceeds that of the other classes, and the 
spines of the dorsal rise to a foot in height. The ne- 
cessity of these bones being so marked is obvious, con- 
sidering the strong cervical ligament, and powerful mus- 
cles, required for supporting and moving a head which, 
at a moderate calculation, must have sustained a weight 
of three quarters of a hundred of solid bony matter. 

The extremities are in proportion to the different parts 
of the trunk, and present a conformation favourable to a 
combination of great strength with fleetness. 

It is not the least remarkable circumstance connected 
with these bones, that they are in such a high state of 
preservation as to present all the lines and impressions 
of the parts which had been attached to them in the re- 
cent state. Indeed, if we examine them as compared 
with the bones of an animal from which all the softer 


parts have been separated by maceration, the only per- 
ceptible differences in their physical properties are, that 
they are a little heavier, a degree harder, that their sur- 
face is brown, and that they all, with the exception of 
the horns, present a polished appearance, which is owing 
to the periosteum having been preserved, and still re- 
maining to cover them, as was discovered whenj;hey were 
chemically examined. 

The existence of fat or adipocire in the shaft of one 
of the bones mentioned by Archdeacon Maunsell, and 
which I saw in his possession, is a thing for which it is 
extremely difficult to account, as it occurred but in one 
solitary instance, and it did not appear that this bone 
was at all differently circumstanced from the rest. Those 
which I had an opportunity of examining, by boring 
holes in them, were hollow, and contained, for the most 
part, only a small quantity of black animal earth. 

Mr Stokes found, in a rib of this animal, 

Animal matter, - 42.87 

Phosphates with some Fluates, - 43.45 

Carb, Lime, 9.14 

Oxides, 1.02 

Silica, 1.14 

Water and loss, *v 2.38 


Dr Apjohn of Dublin made the following observations 
with regard to the animal matter in the bones : 

" The bone was subjected for two days to the action 
of dilute muriatic acid. When examined at the end 

i i 


of this period, it had become as flexible as a recent bone 
submitted to the action of the same solvent. The pe- 
riosteum was in some parts puffed out by carbonic acid 
gas, disengaged from the bone, and appeared to be in a 
state of perfect soundness. 

" To a portion of the solution of the bone in the mu- 
riatic acid some infusion of galls was added, which caus- 
ed a copious precipitate of a dun colour. This proved 
to be tannate of gelatine, mixed with a small portion of 
the tannate and gallate of iron. 

" The cartilage and gelatine, therefore, so far from 
being destroyed, had not been perceptibly altered by 

Until Baron Cuvier published his account of these 
remains *, they were generally believed to have belong- 
ed to the same species as the moose deer or elk of North 
America, an opinion which appears to have been first 
advanced by Dr Thomas Molyneux in 1697-f, and 
which depends principally on the exaggerated descrip- 
tion of that animal given by Josselyn in his account of 
two voyages to New England, published in 1674, in 
which he states that it is sometimes twelve feet high, 
with horns of two fathoms wide ! This was the more 
readily believed by the learned Doctor, as it tended to 
confirm him in a favourite theory which he seems to 
have entertained, that Ireland had once been joined to 
the New Continent. 

* Vide Annales du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, tome xii. et Os- 
semens Fossiles, tome iv. 

f Philosophical Transactions, vol. xix. 


But the assertions of Josselyn regarding the size of 
the American moose have not been confirmed by the 
testimony of later travellers, from whose observations it 
is now clearly ascertained that the only large species of 
deer inhabiting the northern parts of America are the 
wapiti or Canadian stag (Cervus canadensis), the rein- 
deer (C. Tarandus), and the moose or elk (C. Alces). 

The peculiar branching of the brow antlers of the 
rein-deer, and the rounded horns of the wapiti *, are 
characters sufficient to prevent us confounding either of 
these animals with the fossil species. 

The palmate form of the horns of the elk gave greater 
probability to the opinion of its specific identity with the 
fossil animal. 

A little attention, however, to a few circumstances, 
will shew a most marked difference between them. 

First, as to size, the difference is very remarkable, it 
not being uncommon to find the fossil horns ten feet 
between the extreme tips*p, while the largest elk's horns 
never measure four feet. This measurement in a pair 
in the Museum of the Royal Dublin Society, is three 
feet seven inches : the largest pair seen by Pennant in 
the house of the Hudson's Bay Company, measured 
thirty-four inchest. 

The horn of the elk has two palms, a lesser one which 

* A fine pair of this species, male and female, were exhibited by Mr 
Bullock in this city a few summers ago. They did not answer to any 
description of Pennant or of Dr Shaw, but had the characters of C. ca- 
nadensis as given by Cuvier. 

f Dr Percy, Bishop of Drumore, describes a pair which measured 
fourteen feet by the skull. Archaeologia Brit. v. vii. 

%. Pennant's Zoology, vol. i. 

I i 2 


grows forward from the front of the beam, where the 
principal palm begins to expand. This is called brow 
antler by Cuvier, but it corresponds in situation rather 
to the sur-antler, there being, properly speaking, no 
brow antler attached to the root of the beam. The elk 
has no posterior antler similar to that of the fossil ani- 
mal, nor does its beam take a similar arched direction, 
but runs more directly outwards. 

Cuvier remarks, that the palm of the fossil horn in- 
creases in breadth as it extends outwardly, while that 
of the elk is broadest next the beam. 

The palm of the elk's horn is directed more back- 
wards, while the fossil one extends more in the lateral 
direction. The antlers of the elk are shorter and more 
numerous than those of the fossil animals. 

As the horns of the fossil animal exceed in size those 
of the elk, so, on the contrary, does the skull of the latter 
exceed in size that of the former ; the largest heads of 
the fossil species not exceeding one foot nine inches in 
length, while the head of the elk is frequently two feet. 
The fossil head is broader in proportion; its length 
being to its breadth as two to one ; in the elk they are 
as three to one, according to Parkinson.* The breadth 
of the skull between the roots of the horns is but four 
inches in the fossil skulls ; in that of the elk in the So- 
ciety's Museum it is 6^ inches. 

Cuvier thinks it probable that the females of the fossil 
species had horns-f, an opinion to which I am very much 
disposed to subscribe, from having observed that these 
parts present differences in size and strength, which ap- 

* Organic Remains, vol. iii. f Ossemens Fossiles, torn. iv. 


pear not to be dependent on differences of age. For in- 
stance, the teeth of the specimen in Trinity College are 
much more worn down, and the sutures of the skull are 
more effaced than in the specimen described in this 
paper ; yet the horns of the latter are much more con- 
cave, and more expanded, than those of the former ; and 
on comparing a single horn of each of these specimens 
together, that belonging to the Society exceeds the other 
by nearly a sixth in the length, and little less than a 
third in the breadth ; it is not, therefore, unlikely that the 
animal whose horns were larger and more curved was a 
male. Something similar to this is observed in the 
rein-deer, both sexes of which have horns, but with this 
difference, that they are smaller and less branched in 
the female. Hence we find that this animal possessed 
characters of its own sufficient to prove it of a species 
as distinct from the moose or elk as this latter species is 
from the rein-deer or any other. Therefore, it is impro- 
per to retain the name of elk or moose deer any longer : 
perhaps it might be better called the Cervus mega- 
ceros, a name merely expressive of the great size of its 

That this animal shed its head furniture periodically, 
is proved by the occasional occurrence of detached horns 
having the smooth convex surface below the burr, simi- 
lar to what is observed on the cast horns of all deer. 
Specimens of this are to be seen in the Museum of Tri- 
nity College, and I possess one myself, of which I have 
had a drawing made. As every other species of deer 
shed their horns annually, there is no reason for sup- 
posing that that process occurred at longer intervals in 


It is a popular opinion with the Indians that the elk 
is subject to epilepsy, with which he is frequently seized 
when pursued, and % thus rendered an easy prey to the 
hunters. Many naturalists affect to disbelieve this ac- 
count, without, however, assigning any sufficient rea- 
son. But if it be considered, that, during the growth 
of the horns, there must be a great increased determi- 
nation of blood to those parts, which are supplied by the 
frontal artery, a branch from the internal carotid, it is 
quite conformable to well established pathological prin- 
ciples, to suppose, that, after the horns are perfected, and 
have ceased to receive any more blood, that fluid may 
be determined to those internal branches of the carotid 
which supply the brain, and establish a predisposition 
to such derangements of its circulation as would produce 
epilepsy, or even apoplexy : if such an effect were pro- 
duced in consequence of the size of the horns in the 
elk, it is reasonable to suppose that it prevailed in a 
greater degree in the fossil animal whose horns were so 
much larger. 

What could have been the use of these immense 
horns ? It is quite evident that they would prevent the 
animal making any progress through a thickly wooded 
country, and that the long, tapering, pointed antlers 
were totally unfit for lopping off the branches of trees, 
a use to which the elk sometimes applies his horns *, and 
for which they seem well calculated, by having their 
antlers short and strong, and set along the edge of the 
palm, somewhat resembling the teeth of a saw in their 

* The elk, when pursued in the forests of North'America, breaks 
off branches of trees as thick as a man's thigh. 


arrangement. It would rather appear, then, that they 
were given the animal as weapons for its protection, a 
purpose for which they seem to have been admirably de- 
signed ; for their lateral expansion is such, that should 
occasion require the animal to use them in his defence, 
their extreme tips would easily reach beyond the re- 
motest parts of his body ; and if we consider the power- 
ful muscles for moving the head, whose attachments oc- 
cupied the extensive surfaces of the cervical vertebrae, 
with the length of the lever afforded by the horns them- 
selves, we can easily conceive how he could wield them 
with a force and velocity which would deal destruction 
to any enemy having the hardihood to venture within 
their range. 

From the formidable appearance of these horns, then, 
we must suppose that their possessor was obnoxious to 
the aggressions of some carnivorous animals of fero- 
cious habits ; and such we know to have abounded in 
Ireland, as the wolf, and the celebrated Irish wolf 
dog. Nor would it be surprising if limestone caves 
should be discovered in this country, containing the 
remains of beasts of prey and their victims, similar to 
the hyaenas' dens of Kirkdale, and other places, respect- 
ing which such interesting researches have been lately 
laid before the public by the geologists of this country and 
the Continent. 

The absence of all record, or even tradition, respect- 
ing this animal*, naturally leads one to inquire whe- 

* It is evidently not the animal mentioned by Julius Caesar, un- 
der the name of Alces ; vide Comment, de Bello Gallico, vi. cap. x. ; 
nor is it the Alces of Pliny. 


ther man inhabited this country during its existence ? 
I think there is presumptive evidence in the affirmative 
of this question, afforded by the following circumstances. 
A head of this animal described by Professor Goldfuss 
of Bonn, was discovered in Germany in the same drain 
with several urns and stone hatchets ; and in the 7th 
volume of the Archaeologia Britannica, is a letter of 
the Countess of Moira, giving an account of a human 
body found in gravel, under eleven feet of peat soaked 
in the bog water : it was in good preservation, and 
completely clothed in antique garments of hair, which 
her ladyship thinks might have been that of our fossil 
animal. But more conclusive evidence on this ques- 
tion is derived from the appearance exhibited by a rib, 
presented by Archdeacon Maunsell to the Royal Dub- 
lin Society, in which I discovered an oval opening 
near its lower edge, the long diameter of which is 
parallel to the length of the rib, its margin is depressed 
on the outer, and raised on the inner surface, round 
which there is an irregular effusion of callus. This 
opening had been evidently produced by a sharp pointed 
instrument, which did not penetrate so deep as to cause 
the animal's death, but which remained fixed in the 
opening for some length of time afterward ; in fact 
it was such an effect as would be produced by the head of 
an arrow remaining in a wound after the shaft was broken 

* I am well aware of the occasional existence of holes in the ribs, 
a few instances of which I have seen in the human subject : but 
they differ essentially in character from the opening here described, 
as they occupy the centre of the rib, mostly in its sternal extremity, 
and have their margin depressed on both sides. 


It is not improbable, therefore, that the chace of this 
gigantic animal once supplied the inhabitants of this coun- 
try with food and clothing. 

As to the causes which led to the extinction of this 
animal, whether it was suddenly destroyed by the de- 
luge, or by some other great catastrophe of nature, or 
whether it was ultimately exterminated by the con- 
tinued and successful persecution of its pursuers, as 
has nearly been the case with the red deer within the 
recollection of many of the present generation, I pro- 
fess myself unable to form any decided opinion, owing 
to the limited number of facts as yet collected on the 
subject. On some future occasion I may, perhaps, be 
induced to revert to so interesting a topic, should I have 
opportunities of discovering any thing worthy of commu- 



The following Table exhibits a comparative view of 
the measurements of different parts of the skeletons of 
the Cervus Megaceros in the Museum of the Royal 
Dublin Society, and in the Royal Museum of the Univer- 
sity of Edinburgh, with some parts^>f the Moose. The 
measurements of the Edinburgh specimen are taken from 
Professor Jameson's memoir on organic remains, in the 
Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Ft. In. 

R. D. Soc. 

U. of Edin. 

Ft. In. 

Ft. In. 

Length of the head, . . . 

1 8* 

1 8| 

Breadth of the skull between 

the orbits, 



Do. of skull at the occiput, 


Diameter of the orbit, 



Distance between infra orbi- 

tar holes across the skull, 


Length of alveolar processes 

of the upper jaw, 
Length of lower jaw, 


1 51 



Diam. of foramen magnum, 



Distance between the ex- 

treme tips, measured by 
the skull, 

11 10 

Ditto, in a straight line 

across, ... 

9 2 

6 8 

Length of each horn, 

5 9 

5 1 

Greatest breadth of the palm, 
Length of the beam, 

2 10 
1 9 

Ditto of brow antler, . . . 


Ditto of sur-antler, 

v vj 

Circumference of the beam 

at root of brow antler, 

1 Of 

3 7 





R. D. Soc. 

U. of Edin. 


Ft. In. 

Ft, In. 

Ft. In. 


Length of spine, 

10 10 

9 8 

Ditto of sternum, . . 

2 4 

Height to the upper extre- 
mity of the dorsal spines, 

6 6 

Ditto to the highest point 

of the tip of the horn, . . . 

10 4 


Greatest length of the sca- 


1 6 1 

Ditto breadth at the base, 

A U 2 


Ditto depth of its spine, . . . 


Length of the humerus, . . . 

1 4 

1 Si 

Ditto of ulna and radius, 

1 8 

1 6 

Ditto of carpus, 



Circumference of do 

V V 


Length of metacarpus, ... 

1 OJ 

1 OJ 

Length of phalanges, 



From anterior superior spine 

of one ileum to that of 

the other, 

1 4i 

1 6* 



From anterior superior spine 
to the tuber ischii, 

1 8 

1 91 

Greatest diameter of fora- 

u e 

men ovale, 



Least do. of do 



Length of the femur, 

1 6J 

1 5J 

Ditto of tibia, 

1 6 

1 6 

Length of the tarsus, includ- 

ing the os calcis, ... .... 


Ditto of the metatarsus, . . . 

1 If 

1 if 


2. Account of the Two Living 1 Species of Elephant, 
and of the Extinct Species of Elephant, or Mam- 

1. ELEPHAS AFRICANUS. The Elephant with round- 
ed skull, large ears, grinders, having rhomboidal-shaped 
marks on their crown, which we call the African Ele- 
phant (Elephas Africanus), is a quadruped which has 
hitherto been found only inhabiting Africa. There can 
be no doubt that it is this species which lives at the 
Cape, at Senegal, and in Guinea ; there is reason to be- 
lieve that it also occurs at Mosambique ; but it is not 
certain that individuals of the following species do not 
occur in this part of Africa. A sufficient number of 
individuals have not been figured or compared, to know 
if this species presents remarkable varieties. It is it that 
produces the largest tusks. Both sexes are equally fur- 
nished with tusks, at least at Senegal. The natural num- 
ber of the hoofs is four before, and three behind. The 
ear is very large, and covers the shoulder. The skin is 
of a deep and uniform brown. This species has not 
been domesticated in modern times. It appears, how- 
ever, to have been tamed by the ancients, who attributed 
to it less power and courage in that state than to the fol- 
lowing species ; but their observations do not appear to 
have been confirmed, at least in so far as refers to mag- 
nitude. Its natural manners are not perfectly known ; 
yet judging of them by the notices of travellers, they 
appear to resemble in every thing essential those of the 
following species. 


2. ELEPHAS INDICUS. The Elephant with elongated 
skull, concave forehead, small ears, grinders marked 
with undulating bands, which we call the Indian Ele- 
phant (Elephas Indicus), is a quadruped which has only 
been observed with certainty beyond the Indus. It ex- 
tends from both sides of the Ganges to the Eastern Sea 
and the south of China. They are also found in the 
Islands of the Indian Sea, in Ceylon, Java, Borneo, Su- 
matra, See. There is still no authentic proof that it 
exists in any part of Africa, although neither is the con- 
trary absolutely proved. The inhabitants of India 
having from time immemorial been in the habit of taking 
this species and taming it, it has been much better ob- 
served than the other. Varieties have been remarked as 
to size, lightness of form, the length and direction of the 
tusks, and the colours of the skin. The females and 
some of the males have tusks which are always small and 
straight. The tusks of the other males never attain so 
great a length as in the African species *. The natural 
number of the hoofs is Jive before and four behind. The 
ear is small, frequently angular. The skin is commonly 
grey, spotted with brown. There are individuals entirely 
white. The height varies from fifteen to sixteen feet. 
Its manners, the mode of taking it, and of treating it, 
have been carefully described by many travellers and na- 
turalists, from Aristotle down to Mr Corse Scott. 

* In A. W. Schlegel's Contributions to the History of the Ele- 
phant, in the Indische Bibliothek, i. 2, are enumerated many facts 
not generally known regarding the African and Asiatic Elephants, 
and the details are accompanied with interesting inferences. 


The Elephant with elongated skull, concave forehead ', 
very long alveoles for the tusks, the lower jaw obtuse, 
the grinders broader, parallel, marked with closer bands, 
which we name the Fossil Elephant (Elephas primige- 
nius, Blum.J, is the Mammoth of the Russians. Its 
bones are only found in the fossil state. No person has 
seen in a fresh state bones resembling those by which 
this species is peculiarly distinguished, nor have the 
bones of the two preceding species been seen in .the fos- 
sil state.* Its bones are found in great number in many 
countries, but in better preservation in the north than 
elsewhere. It resembles the Indian more than the Afri- 
can species. It differs, however, from the former in the 
grinders, in the form of the lower jaw, and many other 
bones, but especially in the length of the alveolae and 
tusks. This last character must have singularly modi- 
fied the figure and organisation of its proboscis, and 
given it a physiognomy much more different from that 
of the Indian species, than might have been expected 
from the similarity of the rest of their bones. It appears 
that its tusks were generally large, frequently more or 
less spirally arcuate, and directed outwards. There is 
no proof that they differ much according to differences 
of sex or race. The size was not much greater than 
that to which the Indian species may attain ; it appears 
to have been still clumsier in its proportions. It is al- 
ready manifest from its osseous remains, that it was a 

* According to Schleiermacher, Goldfuss and Von Bachr, fossil 
tusks, resembling those of the African Elephant, have been found 

some districts. Cuvier, however, questions their being in a true 
fossil state. 


species differing more from the Indian, than the ass from 
the horse, and the jackal and isatis from the wolf and 
fox. It is not known what had been the size of its ears, 
or the colour of its skin ; but it is certain that, at least, 
some individuals bore two sorts of hair, namely, a red, 
coarse, tufted wool, and stiff black hairs, which, upon 
the neck and along the dorsal spine, became long enough 
to form a sort of mane. Thus, not only is there nothing 
impossible in its having been able to support a climate 
which would destroy the Indian species, but it is even 
probable that it was so constituted as to prefer cold cli- 
mates. Its bones are generally found in the alluvial 
and superficial strata of the earth, and most commonly 
in the deposits which fill up the bottom of valleys, or 
which border the beds of rivers. They scarcely ever oc- 
cur by themselves, but are confusedly mingled with 
bones of other quadrupeds of known genera, such as 
rhinoceroses, oxen, antelopes, horses, and frequently 
with remains of marine animals, particularly conchi- 
ferous species, some of which have even been found 
adhering to them. The positive testimony of Pallas, 
Fortis, and many others, does not allow us to doubt that 
this latter circumstance has frequently taken place, al- 
though it is not always observed. We ourselves have at 
this moment under our eyes a portion of a jaw covered 
with millepores and small oysters. 

The strata which cover the bones of elephants are 
not of very great thickness, and they are scarcely ever 
of a rocky nature. They are seldom petrified, and 
there are only one or two cases recorded in which they 
were found imbedded in a shelly or other rock. Fre- 
quently they are simply accompanied with our common 


fresh water shells. The resemblance, in this latter res- 
pect, as well as with regard to the nature of the soil, be- 
tween the three places, of which we have the most de- 
tailed accounts, viz. Tonna, Cantstadt, and the Forest 
of Bondi, is very remarkable. Every thing, there- 
fore, seems to announce that the cause which has buried 
them, is one of the most recent of those that have con- 
tributed to change the surface of the globe. It is never- 
theless a physical and general cause ; the bones of fos- 
sil elephants are so numerous, and have been found 
in places so desert and even uninhabitable, that we 
cannot suppose that they had been conducted there 
by man. The strata which contain them and those 
which are above them, shew, that this cause was aque- 
ous, or that it was water that covered them ; and in 
many places these waters were nearly the same as those 
of our present sea, since they supported animals nearly 
the same. But, it was not by these waters that they 
were transported to the places. where they now are. 
Bones of this description have been found in almost 
every country that has been examined by naturalists. 
An irruption of the sea that might have brought them 
from places which the Indian elephant now inhabits, 
could not have scattered them so far, nor dispersed 
them so equably. Besides, the inundation which buried 
them has not risen above the great chains of mountains, 
since the strata which it has deposited, and which cover 
the bones, are only found in plains of little elevation. 
It is not, therefore, seen how the carcases of elephants 
could have been transported into the north, across the 
mountains of Thibet, and the Altaic and Uralian 


Further, these bones are not rolled ; they retain their 
ridges and apophyses ; they have not been worn by fric- 
tion. Very frequently the epiphyses of those which had 
not yet attained their full growth, are still attached to 
them, although the slightest effort would suffice to de- 
tach them. The only alterations that are remarked, 
arise from the decomposition which they have undergone 
during their abode in the earth. Nor can it with more 
reason be represented that the entire carcases had been 
violently transported. In this case, the bones would in- 
deed have remained entire ; but they would also have 
remained together, and would not have been scattered. 
The shells, millepores, and other marine pr6ductions 
which are attached to some of these bones, prove be- 
sides that they had remained at least some time stripped 
and separated at the bottom of the fluid which covered 
them. The elephants 1 bones had therefore already been 
in the places in which they are found, when the fluid 
covered them. They were scattered about in the same 
manner as in our own country the bones of horses and 
other animals that inhabit it may be, and as the dead bo- 
dies are spread in the fields. 

Every circumstance, therefore, renders it extremely 
probable, that the elephants which have furnished the 
fossil bones, dwelt and lived in the countries where their 
bones are at present found. They could only, therefore, 
have disappeared by a revolution, which had destroyed 
all the individual* then living, o^byti change of climate, 
which prevented them from propagating. But whatever 
this cause may have been, it must have been sudden. 
The bones and ivory which are found in so perfect a 
state of preservation in the plains of Siberia, are only so 



preserved by the cold which congeals them there, or which, 
in general, arrests the action of the elements upon them. 
If this cold had come on by degrees and slowly, these 
bones, and still more the soft parts with which they are 
still sometimes invested, would have had time to decom- 
pose, like those which occur in warm and temperate coun- 
tries. It would especially have been impossible that an 
entire carcase, like that discovered by Mr Adams, could 
have retained its flesh and skin without corruption, if it 
had not been immediately enveloped by the ice which 
preserved it. Thus, all the hypotheses of a gradual 
cooling of the earth, or of a slow variation, whether in 
the inclination or in the position of the axis of the globe, 
fall to be rejected. 

If the present elephants of India were the descend- 
ants of these ancient elephants, which have been pre- 
served in that climate to the present day, from their be- 
ing there placed beyond the reach of the catastrophe 
which destroyed them in the others, it would be impos- 
sible to explain why their species has been destroyed in 
America, where remains are still found, which prove 
that they had formerly existed there. The vast empire 
of Mexico presented to them heights enough to escape 
from an inundation so little elevated as that which we 
must suppose to have taken place, arid the climate there 
is warmer than is requisite for their temperament. 

The various mastodons , the hippopotamus and \he fos- 
sil rhinoceros lived in %? same countries, and in the same 
districts, as the elephants, since their bones are found in 
the same strata and in the same state. Yet these ani- 
mals very assuredly no longer exist. Every thing there- 
fore, Cuvier maintains, concurs to induce a belief that 


the fossil elephant is, like them, an extinct species, al- 
though it resembles more than they one of the species at 
present existing, and that its extinction has been pro- 
duced by a sudden cause, by the same great catastrophe 
which destroyed the species of the same epoch. 

3. On the Great Mastodon, or Animal of the Ohio. 

It appears that the Great Mastodon or Animal of the 
Ohio, was very like the elephant in its tusks and whole 
skeleton, the grinders excepted ; that it very probably had 
a proboscis ; that its height did not exceed that of the ele- 
phant, but that it was a little more elongated, and had 
limbs somewhat thicker, with a more slender belly. Not- 
withstanding all these points of resemblance, the peculiar 
structure of its grinders is sufficient to constitute it of a 
different genus from the elephant. It further appears, 
that it fed much in the same manner as the hippopotamus 
and boar, choosing by preference the roots and other fleshy 
parts of vegetables ; that this sort of food must have 
drawn it towards the soft and marshy places ; that, never- 
theless, it was not formed for swimming, and living often 
in the water like the hippopotamus, but that it was a true 
land animal. Its bones are much more common in North 
America than any where else. They are even perhaps 
exclusively confined to that country. They are better pre- 
served, and fresher, than any other fossil bones known ; 
and, nevertheless, there is not the slightest proof, the small- 
est authentic testimony, calculated to impress a belief that 
either in America, or any where else, there is still any 
living individual, for the various accounts which we have 
from time to time read in the journals respecting living 
mastodons, which had been observed in the forests or 


plains of that vast continent, have never been confirmed, 
and can only pass for fables. 



THE extraordinary accumulations of fossil bones in 
caves and caverns in different districts, especially in those 
composed of limestone, have for many years engaged 
the attention of inquirers; and, of late, have afforded 
many interesting facts to the geologist and zoologist. In 
England, as will appear from the following details, many 
different fossil animals have been discovered in limestone 
caves ; but hitherto the caves in Scotland, which will 
probably be found to contain interesting documents of an 
ancient population, have not been examined. As the 
subject is a curious and interesting one, we shall, in the 
following pages, principally from Cuvier*s great work, 
lay before our readers a pretty full account of the diffe- 
rent caves, especially those that afford bones of carnivo- 
rous animals. 

Numerous caves, brilliantly decorated with stalactites 
of every form, succeeding each other to a great depth in 
the interior of mountains, communicating together by 
openings so narrow as scarcely to allow a man to enter 
them crawling, and which are yet found strewed with an 
enormous quantity of bones of large and small animals, 
are without dispute among the most remarkable pheno- 
mena which the history of fossil remains could present to 


the contemplation of the geologist, especially when we re- 
flect that this phenomenon recurs in a great number of 
places, and over a very extended space of country. 
These caves have been the object of research of se- 
veral naturalists, some of whom have well described and 
figured the bones which they contain ; and even before 
they were explored by the naturalist, they were celebrat- 
ed among the common people, who, according to their 
custom, added many imaginary prodigies to the natural 
wonders which are really observed in them. The bones 
which they contain were long, under the name of fossil 
unicorn, an important article of commerce and materia 
medica, on account of the powerful virtues which were 
attributed to them ; and it is probable that the desire of 
finding these bones contributed much to the more accu- 
rate knowledge of these caves, and even to the disco- 
very of several of them. 

The most anciently celebrated is the cave of Bauman, 
situated in the country of Blarikenburg, which belongs 
to the Duke of Brunswick, to the south of the city of that 
name, to the east of Elbingerode, and to the north of the 
village of Rubeland, the nearest inhabited place, in a hill 
which forms one of the last declivities of the Hartz to- 
ward the east. It has been described by many authors, 
among whom we shall particularly mention the great 
Leibnitz, in his Protogcea, pi. i. p. 97, where he gives a 
map of it, borrowed from the Ada Eruditorum 1702, 
p. 305. 

Its general direction is east and west, but the entrance 
faces the north. It is very narrow, although it is un- 
der a pretty large natural vault. The first cave is the 
largest. From this to the second, one must descend by 


another narrow passage, at first by creeping, and after- 
wards by a ladder. The difference of level is 30 feet. 
The second cave is the richest in stalactite of ' all forms. 
The passage to the third cave is at first the most difficult 
of all, and we have to climb with hands and feet ; but it 
afterwards enlarges, and the stalactites of its walls are 
those in which the imagination of the curious has pre- 
tended to see the best characterized figures. It has two 
lateral dilatations, of which the map of the Ada Erudi- 
torutn makes the third and fourth caves. At its extre- 
mity, we have still to ascend, in order to arrive at the real 
third cave, which forms a sort of portal. Behrens says, 
in his Hercynia curivsa, that it cannot be reached, be- 
cause it would be necessary to descend more than 60 feet ; 
but the above mentioned map, and the description of Von 
der Hardty which accompanies it, describe this third cave 
under the name of the Fifth, and place beyond it a 
narrow passage, terminated by two small grottoes. Last- 
ly, Silberschlag, in his Geogony, adds, that one of these 
grottoes leads to a narrow passage, which, descend- 
ing much, leads under the other caves, and terminates in 
a place filled with water. There are still many bones in 
these remote and little frequented parts. Most of those 
bones which are in collections from this cave, or which 
have been described, are of the bear genus. 

A second cave, nearly as celebrated as the former, and 
very near, is that which is named, after the unicorn, 
Enihornshcele, at the foot of the chateau of Scharzfels, 
in a part of the Electorate of Hanover which is named 
the Dutchy of Grubenhagen, and nearly upon the last 
southern declivity of the Hartz. It has also been de- 
scribed by Leibnitz, as well as by M. Deluc, in his Letters 


to the Queen of England. The entrance is 10 feet high, 
and 7 broad. We descend vertically 15 feet into a sort 
of vestibule, the roof of which lowers to such a degree, 
that, at the end of 60 feet, we are obliged to creep. 
After a long passage, we come to two other caves, ac- 
cording to Leibnitz ; but Behrens adds three or four, 
and says, that, according to the country people, we 
might penetrate nearly two leagues. 

Bruckmann, who gives a map of this cavern (Epistol. 
Itin. p. 34.), represents only five caves, arranged nearly 
in a straight line, and connected by extremely narrow 
passages. The second is the richest in bones ; the third, 
which is the most irregular, has two small lateral caves ; 
the fifth is the smallest, and contains a fountain. Of the 
bones which have been taken from it, some are in the 
possession of M. Blumenbach and other naturalists ; and 
others have been figured by Leibnitz and Mylius, They 
belong to the bear, hyena, and tiger or lion genera. 

The chain of the Hartz also presents some other caves 
of less celebrity, although of the same nature mentioned 
by Behrens in his Hercynia curiosa, namely, 

The cave of Hartzburg, under the castle of the 
same name, above Goslar to the south. We do not know 
why Biisching disputes its existence. It is true that 
Behrens cites J. D. Horstius erroneously, for having seen 
bones of various animals taken from it ; for Horstius 
speaks only (Obs. Anat. dec. p. 10.) of the cave of Scharz- 

The cave of Ufftrungen, in the county of Stollberg, 
to the south of the castle of that name. It is named in 
the country Heim-knohle, or Hiding-hole. Behrens 
thinks that fossil bones might be found in it. 


Another cave of the same neighbourhood, is named 
Diebsloch, Thieves' Hole. Skulls have been found in it, 
which were supposed to be human. 

We shall not speak here of those caves of the Hartz in 
which bones have not been discovered. And even those 
in which they have been found, are, at the present day, 
almost exhausted, it being only by breaking the stalac- 
tite that any can be obtained, so much of them had been 
taken away for selling as medicines. 

The caves of Hungary come after those of the Hartz, 
with reference to the remoteness of the time at which 
they have been known. The first notice of them is due 
to Paterson Hayn, (Ephem. Nat. Cur. 1672, Obs. 
cxxxix. and cxciv.) Bruckmann, a physician of Wolfen- 
bilttely afterwards described them at length. (Epistola Iti- 
neraria, 77, and Breslauer Sammlung, 1725, First Trim, 
p. 628.) They are situated in the county of Lipfow, 
on the southern declivities of the Carpathian mountains. 
They are known in the country by the name of Dra- 
gons' Caves, because the people of the neighbourhood 
attribute to those animals the bones which occur in them, 
and with which they have been acquainted from time 
immemorial ; but all those which have been figured by 
authors belong to the Bear family, and to the species 
which is named the Great Cave Sear (Grand Ours des 
cav ernes). 

The caves of Germany the richest in bones are those 
of Franconia, of which J. F. Esper, a clergyman of the 
country of Bayreuth, has given a very detailed descrip- 
tion in a work, printed in French and German, entitled, 
Description des Zoolithes nouvellement decouvertes, 
&c. Nuremberg Knorr. 1774, folio, with 14 coloured 


plates), and in a memoir inserted among those of the 
Berlin Society of Naturalists, vol. ix. 1784, p. 56. 
Another description was afterwards given, under the 
title of Objets dignes de remarque des environs de Mug- 
gendorf, by J. C. Rosenmiiller, folio, with coloured 
views, Berlin, 1804. And more lately, M. Goldfuss, at 
present Professor of Natural History at Bonn, and Se- 
cretary of the Academia Naturae Curiosorum, has made 
them the subject of a particular work printed in 1810 
in German, under the title of Environs of Muggendorf, 
in which he describes them with the greatest care, as 
well as the surrounding country, of which he gives a 
very correct topographical chart. A great part of these 
caves is situated in a small bailiwick, named Streitberg, 
which was formerly a dependence upon the country of 
Bayreuth, but was inclosed in that of Bamberg, and 
now forms part of the kingdom of Bavaria. The great- 
est number occur in a small peninsula, formed by the 
river of Wiesent, which falls into the Pegnetz, and be- 
longs to the basin of the Main. 

However, the chief of all these astonishing caves, those 
of Gaylenreuth, are beyond the limits of this peninsula, 
being on the left bank of the Wiesent, to the north-west 
of the village from which it derives its name. The entrance 
is perforated in a vertical rock ; it is 7J feet high, and 
faces the east. The first cave turns to the right, and is 
upwards of 80 feet long. The unequal heights of the vault 
divide it into four parts ; the first three are from 15 to 
20 feet high, the fourth is only 4 or 5. At the bottom of 
this latter, on the level of the floor, there is a hole 2 feet 
high, which affords a passage to the second cave : it has 
first a direction to the south, over a length of 60 feet by 


40 in breadth, and 18 in height ; it then turns to the west 
for 70 feet, becoming lower and lower until at length 
the height is only 5 feet. The passage which leads to 
the third cave is very inconvenient, and one has to turn 
through various corridores : it is 30 feet across, and from 
5 to 6 in height. The ground in it is kneaded with 
teeth and jaws. Near the entrance is a pit of from 15 
to 20 feet, to which one descends by a ladder. After 
having descended, we come to a vault of 15 feet diame- 
ter by 30 in height ; and towards the side at which the 
descent is made there is a cave strewed with bones. On 
still descending a little, a new arcade is met with, which 
leads to a cave 40 feet long, and a new pit of from 
18 to 20 feet deep. After descending this, we reach 
a cavern about 40 feet high, all strewed with bones. 
A passage, of 5 feet by 7, leads to a grotto of 25 feet in 
length by 12 in breadth. Canals, 20 feet in length, con- 
duct to another grotto of 20 feet in height. Lastly, 
there is another cave, 83 feet broad and 24 high, in 
which more bones are found than in any of the others. 

The sixth cave, which is the last, has a northerly di- 
rection, so that the whole series of caves and passages 
nearly describes a semicircle. 

A fissure in the third cave led to the discovery, in 
1784, of a new cave, 15 feet long and 4 broad, in which 
the greatest quantities of hyena and lions' bones were 
found. The aperture was much too small for these ani- 
mals to have passed through it. A particular canal 
which ended in this small cave has afforded an incredible 
number of bones and large skulls entire. 

In the Philosophical Transactions of 1822, pi. xxvi. 
there may be seen a profile of this cave, taken on the 


spot in 1816, bylProfessor Buckland, in which is to be 
especially remarked an enormous mass, entirely com- 
posed of bones enveloped in the stalactite, and thus form- 
ing an osseous breccia, but of quite a different nature 
from those which occur at Gibraltar and other places *. 

The cave of Gaylenreuth is one of those the bones of 
which are most completely known, by the researches 
which have been made or caused to be made in it for a 
long time back by distinguished naturalists, such as 
MM. Esper, de Humboldt, Ebel of Bremen, Rosenmul- 
ler, Soemmering, Goldfuss, See., and by the numerous 
and rich collections which these researches have pro- 
duced. According to the examination which Cuvier has 
made of the principal of these collections, three-fourths 
of the bones found there belong to the Bear genus, and 
to two or three species of that genus. The others be- 
long to the hyena, tiger, wolf, fox, glutton, and polecat, 
or some nearly allied species. There are also found, al- 
though in much smaller number, bones of herbivorous 
quadrupeds, and, in particular, deer, of which fragments 
are in the possession of M. Ebel. It would even ap- 
pear from a passage of M. Scemmering's, that a par- 
cel of bones had been got in it belonging to an ele- 
phant's skull -f-. According to Rosenmiiller, there were 
found in it bones of men, horses, oxen, sheep, deer, 
roes, mules, badgers, dogs, and foxes, but which from 
the researches made by him in the cave itself, and from 
their state of preservation, must have been deposited at 

* This plate forms the frontispiece to the present work. 

f Scemmering uber die fossilien Knocken, welche in der Protogaa 
Von Leibnitz abgebildet sind : eine Abhandlung in der Magazin fur 
die Naturgeschichte des Menschen von C. Grosse, iii. 1790, s. 73. 


periods much later than those of the bear, tigers and 
hyenas *. 

The small peninsula situate nearly opposite to this cave, 
presents several other caves, as the Schanstein, or Beauti- 
ful Rock, which contains seven contiguous caverns. The 
Brunnenstein, or Fountain RocJc, in which, according to 
Esper, there are only found bones of known species, 
such as badgers, dogs, foxes, hogs, and deer ; but Esper 
had too little anatomical knowledge for his testimony to 
be entirely relied on with respect to this. These bones 
are sometimes encrusted with stalactite. It contains also 
the Holeberg, or Hollow Mountain, in which eight or 
ten caves form a series of 200 feet in length, with two 
entrances. Bones of the same bears as at Gaylenreuth, 
are found here in various lateral depressions ; and there 
are also deer and hogs. The Wizerloch, so named from 
an ancient Sclavonic deity formerly worshipped there, 
the most dismal cavern of the whole country, situate in 
its most elevated part, and in which some vertebrae have 
been found. It is more than 200 feet long. The 
Wunderhoehle, which takes its name from its discoverer, 
has been known since 1773: its extent is 160 feet. 
Lastly, the Cave of Klaustein, consisting of four grottoes, 
and upwards of 200 feet deep. Bones have been found 
in the third grotto, and most abundantly towards its ex- 
tremity. It might be supposed that the name Klaustein 
signified Claw-rock , and it would thus accord very well 
with a place where, without doubt, as at Gaylenreuth, 
a multitude of ungual phalanges of bears and animals of 
the tiger kind have been found. But M. Goldfuss as- 

Rosenmuller, Beschreib. des Hohlenharen, s. 2. 


serts, that it was called Klaustein, or St Nicholas's 
Rocky after a chapel of this name, which formerly stood 
upon it. There are still the Geiss-knok, or Goat Cave, 
and a cave discovered in 1793. M. Rosenmiiller found 
in them two human skeletons already covered with sta- 

The country which surrounds this small peninsula 
has itself several caves, independently of that of Gaylen- 
reuth, as those of Mockas, Rabenstein, and Kirch-ahorn, 
three villages, situate, the first to the south, and the 
other two to the north-east of Gaylenreuth. Bones were 
formerly found in the first. The last bears in the coun- 
try the expressive name of Zahn-loch, or Tooth Cave; 
it also bears the name of Hohen-mirscJifeld, a viUage on 
whose ground it is situate; and the country people 
have long been in the habit of seeking in it those bones, 
which they imagined to be medicinal. MM. Rosenmiil- 
ler and Goldfuss have in fact found bear and tiger bones. 
There are two others in the territory of the same village, 
of which the one named Schneider-loch (Tailor's Hole), 
is said to have furnished the vertebrae of an elephant. 
That of Zewig, close upon Waschenfeld, at the very 
edge of the Wiesent, is nearly 80 feet deep ; and it is said 
that skeletons of men and wolves were found in it. 

All these hills, containing caves in their interior, and 
situate so near each other, seem to form a small chain, 
interrupted only by brooks, and which joins the more 
elevated chain of the Fichtelberg, in which are the 
highest mountains of Franconia, and from which flow 
the Main, the Saale, the Eger, the Naab, and many 
small rivers. M. Rosenmiiller, and after him, others 
assert, that those which are in the hills to the north of 


the Wiesenty contain not a single fragment of bone, while 
those to the south are filled with them. 

In 1799, a cave, remarkable for its situation, was dis- 
covered, which connects in some measure those of the 
Hartz with those of Franconia. It is the Cave of 
Glucksbrun, in the bailiwick of Altenstem, in the terri- 
tory of Meinungen, on the south-western declivity of 
the chain of the Thuringerwald (Blumenb. Archasol. 
Tetturis, p. 15. Zach. Monate. Corresp. 1800, January, 
p. 30.) It is the same which M. Rosenmliller names 
Libenstein, on account of its being on the road from Al- 
tenstein to this latter, which is a bathing place. There 
is a description of it by M. Kocher, in the Magazinjur 
Mineralogie, by M. C. E. A. De Hof, 1st band. heft. iv. 
p. 427. The limestone in which it is situate rests upon 
bituminous schist, and, rising much upwards, comes to 
rest upon primitive rocks. The limestone varies in 
hardness and in the nature of its fracture, and contains 
marine petrifactions, such as pectinites, echinites, &c. 

In making a road, there was discovered an opening, 
from which a very cold air issued, which determined the 
Duke of Saxe-Meinungen to have it farther examined. 
A narrow passage, of twenty feet in length, was found, 
which led to a cave of thirty-five feet, having a breadth 
of from three to twelve, and a height of from six to 
twelve, according to the places, and terminated by a 
large piece of rock, which was removed. The labour of 
two years discovered and cleared a series of caves con- 
nected together, and of which the bottom rose and fell 
alternately. They terminate in a place where water 
flows ; but various lateral fissures make it probable that 
there are still several caves which have not been opened, 
and that they perhaps form a sort of labyrinth. 


The bottom and walls of this cave are furnished with 
the same mud as the others, but blacker. The. bones 
were pretty numerous, and tinged with the same colour, 
but only two tolerably entire skulls were obtained. 
That of which M. Kocher gives a figure, is the species 
of bear named Ursus spelceus. There are also caves of 
this kind in Westphalia. J. Es Silberschlag, in the Mem. 
des Naturalistes of Berlin (Schriften, vol. vi. p. 132), 
describes the one called Kluter-hcehle^ near the village of 
Oldenforde, in the county of Mark, on the edge of the 
Milspe and Ennepe, two streams which fall into the 
Ruhr, and with it into the Rhine. Its entrance is about 
half-way up a hill called Kluterberg^ is only three feet 
three inches high, and faces the south. The cave itself 
forms a true labyrinth in the interior of the mountain. 

Not far from this, in the same county, at Sundwich, 
two leagues from Iserlohn, is another cave, which, for 
about twenty-five years back, has furnished a very large 
quantity of bones, part of which has been carried to 
Berlin, and the rest has remained in the country in the 
hands of various individuals *. 

If we cast a glance upon a general map, it is not dif- 
ficult to perceive a certain continuity in the mountains 
in which these singular caves occur. The Carpathians 
join with the mountains of Moravia and those of Bohe- 
mia called Bcehmerzvald, to separate the basin of the 
Danube, from those of the Vistula, Oder and Elbe. 
The Fichtelgebirge separates the basin of the Elbe from 

" Further information in regard to these caves will be found in 
Leonhard Taschenb. der Min. vii. 2. S. 439 ; and in Noggerath's 
Gebirge in Rheinland-Westphalen, ii. S. 27. and iii. 1. 13. 



that of the Rhine. The Thuringerwald and the Hartz 
continue to limit the basin of the Elbe, by separating it 
from that of the Weser. 

These different chains have but slight intervals be- 
tween them. The caves of Westphalia alone are not 
connected in so evident a manner with the others. 

Very lately, bones have been discovered in a cavern, 
which extends more towards the south, and is even 
situate on the other or Italian side of the Alps. It 
is that of Adelsberg in Carniola, a place situate on 
the great road from Laybach to Trieste, and about 
half way between these two cities. The whole of this 
country is full of caverns and grottoes, which have given 
rise to numerous sinkings of the surface, thus giving 
a very singular appearance to the country. Several of 
these caverns have long been celebrated among natura 
lists. That of Adelsberg is generally visited by travel- 
lers, on account of its being near the highway, and be- 
cause a river called the Piuka or Polke is lost there, 
forming a subterranean lake, and emerging again on the 
north side, under the name of Unz. A hole which the 
Chevalier de Lowengreif discovered in 1816, in one of 
its walls, at the height of 14 fathoms, conducted him to 
a series of new caves of vast extent, and of incom- 
parable beauty, from the lustre and variety of their sta- 

A part of these caves was, however, known, and must 
be, or have been accessible, by some other place, for in- 
scriptions were found in them with dates, from 1393 to 
1676, together with human bones, and entire carcases, 
that had been buried there. A German pamphlet was 



published at Trieste, in which are described all the wind- 
ings of these subterranean passages, their different halls, 
their domes, their columns, and all the other appearan- 
ces produced by their stalactites. We shall not follow the 
author (M. de Volpi, Director of the School of Com- 
merce and Navigation at Trieste) through this immense 
labyrinth. Let it suffice to say, that this zealous natu- 
ralist asserts his having proceeded more than three leagues, 
almost in a straight line, and that he was only stopped 
by a lake which rendered it impossible to go on. It was 
about two leagues from the entrance that he discovered 
bones of animals, of which he gives figures, and which 
lie describes under the name of Palaeotheria. He had 
the politeness to communicate to me, says Cuvier, his 
drawings the year before, but it appears my reply did 
not reach him, for he makes no mention of it in his book. 

Be this as it may, his figures clearly shewed that the 
bones in question belonged to the great cave-bear. In 
fact, several of these bones having been presented to the 
Congress of Lay bach, Prince Metternich, whose enlight- 
ened taste for the advancement cf knowledge has already 
been of so much service, had the goodness to address 
them to Cuvier, who disposed them in the Royal Cabinet, 
where any one may satisfy himself as to their species. 

There are, without doubt, caves in many other chains-, 
and several are known in France. Caves occur in Sua- 
bia, but no bones have been found in them ; and, in ge- 
neral, it appears, that, before the last discoveries, and 
especially that which has been made in Yorkshire, none 
were known but those of Germany and Hungary that were 
rich in bones of earnivora. In truth, the rock of Fouvent, 



and which contains in one of its cavities bones of hyenas, 
and at the same time those of elephants, rhinoceroses and 
horses, might be considered as belonging to this order of 
phenomena ; but as it was not explored to any depth, it 
cannot be certain that it is so. 

The case is different with the Kirkdale Cavern. It ha- 
ving been visited immediately after its discovery by several 
well informed persons, and especially by Mr Buckland, 
every thing has been made known with respect to it. It 
is situated in the East Riding of the county of York,, 
twenty-five miles NNE. of the city of For A;, and at about 
the same distance to the west from the sea and the town 
of Scarborough. The small river of Hodgebeck is lost un- 
der ground in the neighbourhood, much in the same way 
as the Piuka, near Adelsberg. It is placed in one of the 
limestone hills which form the northern boundary of the 
vale of Pickering, the waters of which fall into the Der- 
went. Mr Buckland compares the stone to that of the 
last strata of the Alpine limestone, such as are seen near 
Aigle and Meillene. 

It was in the course of the year 1821, that some la- 
bourers working at a quarry, discovered by chance the 
opening, which was closed by rubbish, covered over 
with earth and turf. It is about 100 feet above the 
neighbouring brook. It can be entered to the distance 
of 150 or 00 feet, but we can only walk erect in some 
places, on account of the stalactites. On its sides there 
are seen spines of sea-urchins and other marine remains r 
incrusted in the mass of the rock ; but it is on the bottom, 
and there only, that there is found the stratum of mud, 
of about a foot thick, stuck full of bones, as at Gay- 


lenreuth. This mud, and the bones which it contains, 
are, in various places, covered or penetrated with stalac- 
tite, especially near places where the rock has lateral 

The discovery having acquired much celebrity, a great 
number of people procured bones from it, and placed 
them in various public depots. Specimens have been de- 
posited in the York Institution, that of Whitby and 
Bristol, the British Museum, the Museum of Oxford and 
Cambridge, and by Mr Young of Whitby, in the College 
Museum of Edinburgh ; but the finest collection of the 
bones of Kirkdale was presented to Cuvier, and by him de- 
posited in the Royal Cabinet in Paris. The greatest num- 
ber of these bones without comparison, belong to hyenas 
of the same species as those of the caverns of Germany ; 
but there are also many of other large and small animals, 
which Mr Buckland supposes to form twenty-one spe- 
cies. From the pieces which I have under my eye, says 
Cuvier, there indisputably occur bones of the elephant, 
hippopotamus ', liorse, an ox of the size of the common 
deer, rabbits, Jield-rats ; also bones of some other car- 
nivora, namely, of the tiger, wolf, fox, and weasel. All 
these bones and teeth are accumulated on the ground, 
broken and gnawed, and there are even seen marks of the 
teeth which have fractured them. There are even inter- 
mixed with them excrements which have been recognized 
as perfectly similar to those of the hyena *. 

In England and Wales the following caves have been found to 
contain fossil bones : 

1. Cave in Dunc&mbe Paris, not far from that of Kirkdale. It 
contains only recent bones. 

2. Cave of Hutton, a village in Somersetshire, at the foot of the 


The hills in which these caverns occur resemble each 
other in their composition : they are all of limestone, and 

Mendip Hills. Bones of elephants, horses, hogs, of two species of 
deer, of oxen, the nearly entire skeleton of a fox, and the metacar- 
pal bone of a large bear, have been found in it. 

3. Cave of Derdham Down, near to Clifton, to the westward of 
Bristol. Bones of horses were found in it. 

4. Cave of Balleye, near to Warksworth, in Derbyshire. In 1663, 
teeth of elephants, some of which are still preserved, were found in 

5. Cave of Dream, at the village of Callow, near to Warkswortlt,. 
It was discovered in the year 1822, by some miners in search of lead- 
ore. Nearly all the bones of a rhinoceros, in a good state of preser- 
vation, were found enclosed in a bed of mud in this cave. 

6. Fissures and caves at Oreston. These are in transition lime- 
stone. Bones of the rhinoceros, hysena, tiger, wolf, deer, ox, and 
horse, have been found in them. 

7- Cave of Nicholaston, near the coast of Glamorgan, in the Bay 
of Oxwich. In the year 1792, bones of the elephant, rhinoceros, ox, 
deer, and hyaena, were found in it. 

8. Caves of Paveland, hi the county of Glamorgan, between the 
Bay of Oxwich and Cape Worms, at the entrance of the English 
Channel. There are two openings in a cliff thirty or forty feet 
above the level of the sea, which we cannot reach but at low water. 
The clergyman and the surgeon of the neighbouring village of Por- 
tinan found in them a tusk and grinder of an elephant ; afterwards 
other bones of the elephant, rhinoceros, horse, bear, hysena, fox, 
wolf, ox, deer, rat, of birds, the skeleton of a woman, and splinters of 
bones, were also found. But many of these bones are modern ; and 
the diggings made at remote and unknown periods have displaced 
the ancient bones, and mixed them with the modern, and also with 
shells of the present sea. 

Professor Goldfuss, in the llth volume of the Nova Acta Phyai- 
co-medica Academic Ccesarea Leopoldino-Carolince Naturae Curiosorum, 
published in 1823, gives an account of the fossil bones he met with 
in the caves of Westphalia and Franconia. Speaking of the Cave 
of G-aylenreuth, he says, that Esper has the following remarks on 
the quantity of bones taken from these caves : 


all produce abundance of stalactites. These stalactites 
line the walls, narrow the passages, and assume a thou- 

On first examination, there were collected, in a very short time, 
in the dust of the * floors of these caves, upwards of 200 different 
teeth ; and we may assume that, by the end of the year 1774, some 
thousands were collected. It is difficult to form a conception of the 
number of these zoolithes, and of the earth in which they are con- 
tained ; and I do not hesitate in believing, thai, at the lowest esti- 
mate, several hundred waggons load would not remove the whole. 
The animal earth, with intermingled bones, was, in many places, 
eight or ten feet deep. Esper calculated that, in his time, 180 skulls 
had been taken out of the loose animal earth, the conglomerate not 
having been broken up for this purpose. Of late years, the conglo- 
merate afforded, in the space of three years, 150 skulls ; and we may 
estimate that ttvice as many more were destroyed in breaking them 
out of the hard stalactitic matter. If we add to this the pieces of 
skulls which occur in this repository, more frequently than perfect 
skulls, we may estimate that more than a thousand individuals lie 
buried here. 

These bones occur now, as formerly, irregularly dispersed ; that 
is, teeth, cylindrical bones, cranial bones, and vertebrae of different 
species, and of different individuals of different ages, and of various 
sizes, occur conglutinated together. We never find the under jaw 
of the same skull near to it, and rarely the two separated portions 
of the same lower jaw together ; the skulls occurring all in the deep- 
er places : and Esper found the teeth forming a bed by themselves. 
The bones still possess their sharper edges, and are neither rubbed 
nor gnawed^ 

If we assume a thousand buried individuals, the proportion of the 
different species will be, according to Dr Goldfuss, as follows : 

1. Hyaena spelaea, :::i ** - 25 

2. Canis spekeus, 50 

3. Felis spelaea, .' -H . - 25 

4. Gulo spelseus, X'ii * 30 

5. Ursus priscus, -'" - 10 
' 6 . Ursus arctoideus, 60 

7- Ursus spelaeus. - - 800 


sand various forms. The bones are nearly in the same 
state in all these caverns : detached, scattered, partly bro- 
ken, but never rolled, and consequently not brought from 
a distance by water ; a little lighter and less solid than 
recent bones, but still in their true animal nature, very 
little decomposed, containing much gelatine, and not at 
all petrified. A hardened, but still easily frangible or 
pulverisable earth, also containing animal parts, and 
sometimes blackish, forms their natural envelope. It is 

The bones of small animals, mentioned by Esper, are now no 
longer met with ; and, in the collections of Esper and Frischmann, 
Dr Goldfuss saw only a few dozen of the glutton (Gulo.) The 
contents of a peculiar conglomerate described by Esper, cannot now 
be determined. It consisted of a confused assemblage of very small 
bones, the fracture surfaces of which were fibrous, and contained 
also the thigh-bone and rib of a bird, which were conjectured to equal 
in size those of the eagle ; hence Esper inferred that the mass was 
made up of the remains of reptile and fish bones. 

No remains have hitherto been found in these caves ; but in form- 
er times we are told that teeth of the elephant were found in the 
Zahnloch, and a vertebra, supposed, of a rhinoceros, in the Schnei- 
derloch. The bones of domestic animals, such as deer, roes, foxes, 
and badgers, frequently found in the caves, shew, at a glance, that 
they have come into their present situation accidentally, at a mo- 
dern period. 

The cave at Mockas formerly contained in its deepest fissures, 
teeth and fragments of bones of bears, associated with rolled stories, 
and enveloped in earthy marl. The entrance to this cave is situ- 
ated on the acclivity of a hill. Goldfuss ascended to the entrance 
of it by means of a rope, and found in its interior many narrow, wide 
extended hollows, which are generally so confined that we can only 
visit them by creeping. Here and there there are small widenings, 
and frequently narrow outlets occur in the roof. 

The Zahnloch and the Schneiderloch, which also contain single 
bones of bears, are small vaults, with wide openings, into which we 
can penetrate without difficulty. 


often impregnated and covered with a crust of stalactite. 
A covering of the same nature invests the bones in va- 
rious places, penetrates their natural cavities, and some- 
times attaches them to the walls of the cavern. This 
stalactite is often coloured reddish by the animal earth 
which is mixed with it. At other times its surface is 
stained black ; but it is easy to see that these appearances 
are caused by modern occurrences, and have no imme- 
diate connection with the cause which brought the bones 
into these cavities. We even daily see the stalactite in- 
creasing and enveloping here and there groups of bones 
which it had formerly respected. 

This mass of earth, penetrated by animal matter, indis- 
criminately envelopes the bones of all the species ; and, 
if we except some found at the surface of the ground, 
and which had been transported there at much later pe- 
riods, which may also be distinguished by their being 
much less decomposed, they must all have been interred 
in the same manner, and by the same causes. In this 
mass of earth there are found, confusedly mingled with 
the bones {at least in the cave of Gaylenreuth), pieces 
of a bluish marble, of which all the corners are rounded 
and blunted, and which appear to have been rolled. 
They singularly resemble those which form part of the 
osseous brecciae of Gibraltar and Dalmatia. 

Lastly, what further conspires to render this pheno- 
menon very striking, is, that the most remarkable of these 
bones are the same in these caverns, over an extent of 
more than two hundred leagues. Three-fourths and up- 
wards belong to species of bears, which are now extinct. 
A half, or two-thirds of the remaining fourth, belong to 
a species of hyena, which is equally unknown at the pre- 


sent day. A smaller number belong to a species of the 
tiger or lion kind, and to another of the wolf 'or dog ge- 
nus ; lastly, the most diminutive have belonged to va- 
rious small carnivora, as the fox, the polecat , or at least 
species very nearly allied to them, &c. 

The Kirkdale Cavern, however, forms a notable ex- 
ception, inasmuch as none, or very few, bones of bears 
are found in it, and in its being the hyena that appears 
to predominate among the carnivora. 

The species so common in the alluvial formations, the 
elephants, rhinoceroses, horses, oxen or aurochs, and 
tapirs, are of very rare occurrence in the caves of Ger- 
many. There are even some in which no one is said to 
have found them, and the only bones of herbivora men- 
tioned are remains of deer. In this point also, however, 
the Kirkdale cave differs much from the others, inas- 
much as it abounds almost as much in bones of large 
and small herbivora, as in bones of carnivora. All the 
great pachydermata of the alluvial formations are seen 
in it : the elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotami. There 
are also seen in it bones of oxen, deer, and even small 
bones of mice and birds. But there are no bones of ma- 
rine animals of any species, either at Kirkdale or in Ger- 
many. Those who have pretended that they saw bones 
of seals, morses, or other similar species, have been led 
into error by the hypothesis which they had previously 

These bones of carnivora, so numerous in the caves, are 
rare in the great alluvial strata; the hyena alone has 
been seen in any quantity at Canstadt, near Aichstedt, 
and in some other places. There have also been found 
some traces of bears in Tuscany and Austria, but their 


relative proportion is always infinitely less than in the 
caves ; and it is always sufficiently proved by these cir- 
cumstances, that these various animals have lived to- 
gether in the same countries, and have belonged to the 
same epoch. 

Cuvier concludes, there can only be imagined three ge- 
neral causes which might have placed these bones in such 
quantity in these vast subterranean cavities. Either they 
are the remains of animals which inhabited these abodes, 
and which died peaceably there ; or inundations and other 
violent causes have carried them into these cavities ; or, 
lastly, they had been enveloped in rocky strata, the dis- 
solution of which produced these caverns, and they have 
not been dissolved by the agent which carried off the mat- 
ter of the strata. 

This last cause is refuted by the fact, that the strata 
in which the caves occur contain no bones ; and the se- 
cond by the entireness of the smallest prominences of the 
bones, which does not permit us to think that they had 
been rolled ; for if some bones are worn, as Mr Buckland 
has remarked, they are only so on one side, which would 
only prove that some current has passed over them, and 
in the deposit in which they are. We are, therefore, ob- 
liged to have recourse to the first supposition, whatever 
difficulties it presents on its part, and to say that these 
caves served as a retreat to carnivorous animals, and that 
these carried there, for the purpose of devouring them, 
the animals which formed their prey, or the parts of these 

Mr Buckland has observed, that the hyena bones are 
not less broken and splintered than those of the herbivo- 
rous animals ; from which he concludes, that the hyenas 


had devoured the dead bodies of their own species, as 
those of the present day still do. 

These animals attack each other during their life ; for 
the fossil head of a hyena is preserved, which had evi- 
dently been wounded and afterwards healed *. 

* The fact mentioned in the text brings to our recollection an 
interesting Memoir of Professor Walther, entitled, " On the Anti- 
quity of diseases in Bones," printed in Grasse and Walther's Jour- 
nal der Chirurgie und Augenheil Kunde, viii. From eleven speci- 
mens of bones of cave-bears found in the Caves of Sundwich. de- 
scribed by Walther, a proof is obtained, that the common forms of 
osseous diseases occur in them, just as they are observed at pre- 
sent in the human species, viz. necrosis, anchylosis, caries, exosto- 
sis, formation of new bony matter, thickening, thinning, and arthri- 
tic properties of diseased bones. Most of those diseases are such as 
would result from violent injuries, and the consequent very tedious 
organ o- vital reaction. Such mechanical injuries would give rise 
to necrosis, caries, exostosis, &c. We can easily conceive, says 
Walther, how that the rapacious animals of a former world may 
have been exposed to violent mechanical injuries of their bodies, 
and of single parts of them. It is worthy of remark, that most of 
the diseased bones are of the lower jaw, the alveolar processes of it 
and the walls of single alveolae. During the combats of the cave 
bears for their prey amongst themselves, or with other gigantic ani- 
mals, the jaws and teeth must have experienced the greatest me- 
chanical injuries. The necroses of the humeral bones are such as 
might result from a bruising of the bones, and the caries of the up- 
per surface of the bodies of the lumbar vertebrae, may have been 
occasioned by external violence. Walther is also of opinion, that 
the cave-bears suffered from diseases of the bones not referrible to 
mechanical injuries. He remarks of a radius and a vertebra, whose 
arthritic condition he carefully describes, " These bones have ex- 
perienced pathological changes, which could only arise from a long 
continued diseased condition of the nutritive process. They are very 
light, have an extremely thin crust, the greater part of their mass 
is of a spongy, very porous substance, and are uncommonly fragile. 


This supposition is moreover confirmed by the animal 
nature of the earth in which these bones are found *. 

This much is certain, that the establishment of these 
animals in the caves has taken place at a much later 
epoch than that at which the great rocky strata have been 
formed, not only those which compose the mountains in 
which the caves are situated, but the strata of much 
newer origin. No permanent inundation has penetrated 
into the subterranean dens, and formed a regular rocky 
deposit. The mud arising from the proper decomposi- 
tion of these animals, and the stalactites that have been 
filtered through the wall of the caves, are the only mat- 
ters which cover these remains, and these stalactites in- 
crease so rapidly, that M. Goldfuss already found a layer 

Such a change could not be produced by any external mechanical in- 
jury, nor by any slight action of the weather ; but must proceed 
from a tedious constitutional disease, connected with a total change 
of the organo-forming plastic activity, and proceeding from a pecu- 
liar dyscrasia." Hence it is probable, these cave-bears even suffer- 
ed from gout, scrophula, and other similar diseases. 

* According to Laugier, in 100 parts of the earth in which the 
bones in the caves of Gaylenreuth are imbedded, he found the fol- 
lowing proportional quantity of constituent parts; 

1. Lime, with a little magnesia, in the state of carbonate, 32.0 

2. Carbonic acid and moisture, - r ->,;,',*> - 24.0 

3. Phosphate of lime, - , -.r, ,,,. - r r . -| 21 ' 5 

4. Animal matter and water, - ... 10.0 

5. Alumina slightly coloured with manganese, - - 4.0 

6. Silica coloured with iron, - .... 4.0 
7 Oxide of iron, probably combined with phosphoric acid, 3.5 
8. Loss, - - 1.0 



of them covering the names of MM. Esper and Rosen- 
muller, whose visits did not date thirty years before his 
own. The rolled stones that are met with, and the marks 
of detrition observed on some bones, announce, at the 
very utmost, but passing currents. 

But how have so many ferocious animals which peo- 
pled our forests been extirpated ? All the reply we can 
make is, that they must have been destroyed at the same 
time, and by the same cause, as the large herbivora, 
which, like them, also peopled these forests, and of which 
no traces remain at the present day any more than of 


THE following interesting account of the cave, slight- 
ly noticed at pages 524 and 525, is extracted from a me- 
moir by M. Bertrand Geslin, Member of the Natural 
History Society of Paris, published in the number of the 
Annales des Sciences Naturelles for April 1826. 

M. Cuvier, says Gesler, speaking of the Adelsberg 
Cave, from the account published by M. Volpi of Trieste, 
says, that it was nearly two leagues from the entrance 
where he discovered bones of animals. 

Having visited this cave myself, I am obliged to say 
that M. VolpTs assertion as to this matter is not very 
correct. On my way to Trieste, in July 1823, before 
going to Adelsberg, I had the advantage of seeing M. 
Volpi. In shewing me the bones collected by him at 


Adelsberg, he also assured me that they were found two 
leagues from the entrance of the cave, and only in a very 
compact block of several cubic feet, from which it was 
not possible to procure more, as he had taken all that he 
could easily remove. 

Notwithstanding this discouraging account, I betook 
myself to Adelsberg, in order to see a sample of those 
immense caverns of secondary limestone. The entrance 
of the cave is situated in a white compact secondary 
limestone, lying in great beds inclined to the south-west, 
at an angle of from 30 to 35 degrees. At fifty paces from 
the entrance, we find ourselves as in a large apartment, 
which crosses the torent of the Pinka. After passing to 
the left bank of this torrent, we enter a rather low and 
not long passage, which leads to a second apartment of 
an elongated form. It is here that the line of chambers 
truly commences. They are of large but variable dimen- 
sions, and are situated nearly upon a horizontal plane. 

On entering this second chamber, I saw that the 
ground was formed of a yellow and reddish clayey 
mud, from one to two feet thick, and more or less 
impregnated and covered with crusts of yellow stalag- 
mites. In the places where it offered little resistance, I 
dug it up with the point of my hammer, and was fortu- 
nate enough to disunite some fragments of bone, al- 
though, from what had been said to me, I ought not to 
have expected to find them. From this I was convinced, 
that if M. Volpi had only found bones at a distance of 
two leagues from the entrance, it was because he had 
not been at the trouble to search for them nearer. I 
fell to work with more ardour, and succeeded in digging 


up some in good preservation, such as radii, cubiti, fe- 
mora, humeri, fragments of jaws, calcarea, toes, verte- 
brae, &c., belonging to bears of different sizes, of the 
species termed Ursus spelceus. It would appear that 
the hyena tribe is rather rare here, for 1 only procured 
a single bone belonging to it. It was particularly in 
two small lateral chambers, near the narrow passage, 
that I obtained a great quantity of these bones, the clay 
there having been dug up by the guides, in order to 
make the floor of the great apartment even with it. 

I continued to dig as I advanced, and everywhere 
found bones more or less broken and enveloped in the 
clayey mud. After proceeding for half an hour, I fell 
in with a mass, in an apartment of considerable dimen- 
sions, which was of a conical form, and composed of 
blocks of compact white limestone, of all sizes, mixed 
with yellowish clayey mud. These blocks had their 
edges as sharp as if they had only been lately broken. 
The mass, which reached to the right wall of the cave, 
might be fifteen feet in height, and twenty in diameter 
at its base : it was covered with stalactite in several 
places. It was in this mass, at about ten feet above the 
floor of the cave, in the clayey mud that filled up the 
interstices between the blocks, that I found the entire 
skeleton of a young bear, in a space of two square feet 
at most. The bones which I dug out were the frontal 
part of the head, the lower jaw of the left side, the 
seventh cervical and eighth dorsal vertebrae ; the eighth 
and fourteenth ribs of the right side ; two tibia, femora, 
and cubiti, and two large canine teeth of another bear. 
If I could have raised up the limestone blocks, between 
which these bones lay, I might without doubt have pro- 


cured a great part of this skeleton. There are still 
found here and there in the cave some small heaps of 
clayey mud, with fragments of white secondary lime- 
stone, as well as large isolated limestone blocks, which 
the guides are daily destroying, to make the floor even 
for the convenience of visitors. 

I had only advanced an hour and a quarter's progress 
into the cave, always finding bones, when the oil of my 
lamps beginning to fail, I was obliged to return without 
reaching the block in which M. Volpi had found the 
first bones. This block is without doubt owing to the 
same causes as the heap of which I have spoken above. 

The manner in which these heaps exist, being compo- 
sed of blocks of compact white secondary limestone, si- 
milar to that which forms the walls of the cave, with 
sharp edges, and piled upon each other, made me ima- 
gine that they might have fallen from the roof. As I 
returned, I examined the ceiling of the vaults with atten- 
tion. As it was all covered over with stalactites, I 
could not discover any fissure. 

From this short excursion in the Adelsberg cave, I 
am induced to believe, that the bones exist along the 
whole extent of the cave, and that they occur in two dif- 
ferent ways ; \st, scattered in the clayey mud which forms 
the floor of the chambers ; and, Qdly, buried in heaps 
formed of blocks of white secondary compact limestone, 
and yellow clayey mud. 

The hypothesis which M. Cuvier admits as the most 
probable for explaining the presence of these bones in 
the caves, is that which would make these caves to have 
served as a retreat to carnivorous animals. 

The presence of bones in the clayey mud of the floor 


of the Adelsberg cave accords well with this hypothesis ; 
but the case is different with those which I found in the 
heaps of limestone blocks and clayey mud. The bones 
are not at the surface of the heap, but rather towards its 
middle part, buried among the blocks, and crushed by 
them. From this position, and the height at which the 
skeleton mentioned above occurs from the floor of the 
cave, it cannot be supposed that it formed part of the 
bones with which the bottom of the cave is strewed, nor 
that the blocks had fallen upon it. The bones contain- 
ed in the heap in question must have been brought into 
their present position at the same time, and by the same 
cause as the limestone blocks. They could not, there- 
fore, have belonged to animals which inhabited these 
caves, and died there peaceably. 

If it be remarked, that these blocks, which are some- 
times very large, heaped up above one another, and mixed 
with clayey mud, have their angles perfectly fresh, and 
are of the same nature as the limestone of the walls of 
the cave, it cannot be admitted that they have been 
brought from a distance. This mode of arrangement 
could only have been produced by their falling from the 
roof of the cave. 

The following facts also give support to this opinion, 
In the cave of Gaylenreuth, a fissure of the third grotto, 
was the means, in 1784, of disclosing a new one, fifteen 
feet long and four broad, where the greatest quantity of 
hyena or lion bones were found. The aperture was 
much too small for these animals to have passed through 

In a cave discovered in 1824, in the district of La- 
narjk in Upper Canada, Mr Bigsby observed, that the 


floor was covered with debris of brown granular lime- 
stone, similar to that of the walls, and that the bones 
especially formed a heap there. He thinks that the ani- 
mal, whose bones have been found in this cave, was 
much too large to have got into it alive or entire. Sil- 
limari's Journal, June 1825, p. 354. 

It must therefore be also admitted here, . either that 
the bones could only have got into the cave in the same 
manner as the heaps of blocks found in the Adelsberg 
cave ; that is to say, by falling from the roof, or that the 
apertures have been closed since the period at which the 
animals were buried. 

If it be now considered, 1st, That the surface of the 
secondary limestone mountains of Carniola is covered 
with a layer of reddish clay ; and, Qdly, That the clayey 
mud of the heap in the Adelsberg cave is mineralogical- 
ly the same as that which forms the floor of the cave ; 
may it not be supposed, that the same catastrophe which 
produced the heaps in the cave may have, at the same 
time, introduced into it the reddish clayey mud of the 
surface, which, by extending itself over the floor of the 
cave, would have contributed to cover the bones that 
were lying there ? 

Moreover, may it not have been the case, that, after 
the caves had been inhabited by the carnivorous animals, 
the substances falling from above, and coming from the 
surface of the soil, may have carried along with the clay- 
ey mud and the bones of bears, the spoils of large her- 
bivorous animals, which they may have met with, and 
which cannot be supposed to have sought refuge in these 
caves during life. 

There will, no doubt, be objected to me, that opinion 

M m 


which maintains, that the bones of herbivora have been 
dragged into the caves by the carnivorous animals. This 
might certainly have been the case with regard to small 
species, but it is not probable that the bones of large spe- 
cies could have been introduced in the same manner. 

Admitting as certain, at least with regard to the Adels- 
berg cave, that the limestone blocks and the bear bones 
which accompany them, have fallen from the ceiling, the 
phenomenon of caves containing bones would connect it- 
self pretty well with that of osseous brecciae in a geolo- 
gical point of view. As M . Cuvier observes, " The na- 
ture of the rocks which contains the one and the other is 
not very different ; and, besides, the fissures of caves 
being generally pretty wide, the bones would not have 
stuck, but would have fallen to the bottom, while those 
of the osseous brecciae being much narrower, and not so 
deep, would have retained the bones at no great distance 
from the surface of the soil. 

Thus, from the facts observed in the caves of Germany 
and England, and from that of the Adelsberg cave, 
which I have described above, we may conclude, 1st, 
That the presence of bones in caves has been produced 
at two different periods, which, without doubt, have not 
been very distant from each other ; the first, that when 
the animals inhabited these caves ; the other, that when 
they had been transported there by a somewhat general 
catastrophe ; &%, That the second epoch was contem- 
poraneous with the osseous brecciae, and was produced, 
like them, by a phenomenon or process of filling up. 




TILIA, and INSECT A, exhibiting their Geognostical Number 
and Distribution. 

Number o 

Genera which are found 



































Ursus , - - - - 


Mustek, - - - 


Canis, - - -i 


Hyaena, - - 


Felis, - - - 


Phoca, - - - 


Didelphis, - - 


Castor, - - - 


Arvicola, - - 


Lagomys, v - 


Lepus, - '. I . 


Megalonyx, - - 




Elephas, - - - 

Mastodon, - - 


Hippopotamus, - 


Sus, .... 






Xiphodon, - - 



Dichobunus, - - 






Adapis, ... 



Chseropotamus, - 
Rhinoceros, - - 





Palaeotherium, - 



Lophiodon, - .. 




TABLE continued. 

Genera which are found 

Number of 



























a > 
















Tapirus, - '-,'"'* 


Elasmotherium, - 


Equus, p - - - 


Mus, ---- 



Cervus, - - - 


Bos, - - - - 


Myoxus, - - - 



Manatus, - - - 



It is extremely 
difficult to make 

Delphinus, - - 
Balaena, - - - 




out the genera 
of the Birds, 

whose remains 


occur in a fossil 

state, and there 

Sturnus, - - - 


are more of them 

Pelecanus, 'j ' 



than those men- 

Charadrius, - - 




Testudo, - - - 



Crocodilus, - - 



Plesiosaurus, - - 

Ichthyosaurus, - 
Pterodactylus, - 




Rana, - *- - - 


Mosasaurus, - - 


Salamandra, - - 


TABLE continued. 

Number of 

Genera which are found 





^ . 





































.-In the lignite; 

Silpha, - - 



1 the number of 
< species cannot 
J be given in the 
V insects. 

Curculio, - - 



In amber. 

Scorpio, - - 




Musca, ... 




Blatta, - - - 




T ipula, - - 




Aranea, - - 



Ichneumon, - 


Libellula, - - 



/ In the fissil 
J rocks, accord- 
1 ing to the old 

Scarabaeus, - 




Scolopendra, - 



Fapilio, - - 




Hemerobia, - 



Carabue, - - 







The CLASSES, ORDERS, or FAMILIES, of ANIMALS, occurring in a 
Living and Fossil State, with their Geognostical Distribution. 

Number of Genera which are found 


Number of 
















































Polyparia, - - 










Stellaridse, - 







Echinidse, - - 










Annulosa, - - 









Serpulacea, - 










Cirripeda,. - 









Tubicolse, - - 














Bivalve shells, 










[Jnivalve shells, 










Genera IHtlel 
known, . - J 






Crustacea, - - 








Pisces, - .* _ 








Mammifera & 
Cetacea, - - 






The fossil remains 

of birds being very 

difficult to be re- 

Aves, - - . 





cognised, the num- 
ber of genera in 

that state is un- 

doubtedly much 

I more considerable. 

Reptilia, t 








Insecta, - 














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