This earth of ours is the scene of continual movement and change. The atmosphere which encircles it is continually in motion, diffusing heat, light, and vapor. From the sea and from the waters of the land vapor is constantly passing into the air, whence — condensed into clouds, rain, and snow it descends again to the earth. All over the surface of the land, the water which falls from the sky courses seaward in brooks and rivers, bearing into the great deep the materials which were worn away from the land. Water is thus ceaselessly circulating between the air, the land, and the sea. The sea, too, is never at rest. Its waves gnaw the edges of the land, and its currents sweep around the globe. Into its depths the spoils of the land are borne, there to gather into rocks, out of which new islands and continents will eventually be formed. Lastly, inside the earth is lodged a vast store of heat by which the surface is shaken, rent open, upraised or depressed. Thus while old land is submerged beneath the sea, new tracts are upheaved, to be clothed with vegetation and peopled with animals, and to form a fitting abode for man himself. This world is not a living being, like a plant or an animal; and yet there is a sense in which we may speak of it as such. The circulation of air and water, the interchange of sea and land; in short, the system of endless and continual movement by which the face of the globe is day by day altered and renewed, may well be called the Life of the Earth. — Physical Geography.


From a rapid survey of the progress of geology during the first quarter of the century, we can see the probable line of inquiry which any young Englishman would then be likely to take, who entered upon the pursuit of the science without gradually being led up to it by previous and special studies.

In the first place, he would almost certainly be a Huttonian, though doubtless holding some of Hutton's views with a difference. He would hardly be likely to show much sympathy with the fading doctrines of the Wernerians. In the second place, he would probably depart widely from one aspect of the Huttonian school in avoiding theoretical questions, and sticking, possibly with even too great pertinacity, to the observation and accumulation of facts. In the third place, he would most likely have no taste for experimental research as elucidating geological questions; and might set little store by the contributions made by physicists to the solution of problems in his science. In the fourth place, he would almost certainly be ignorant of mineralogy; and whenever his work lay among crystalline rocks, it would be sure to bear witness to this ignorance. In the fifth place, devoting himself to what lies beneath the surface as the true end and aim of geology, he would be apt to neglect the external features of the land; and this neglect might lead him in the end to form most erroneous views as to the origin of those features. Lastly, his main geological idea would probably be to make out the order of succession among the rocks of his own country; to collect their fossils, unravel their complicated structure, and gather materials for comparing them with the rocks of other countries. In a word, he would in all likelihood drift with the prevailing current of geological inquiry at the time, and become a stratigraphical geologist.

There was no reason in Murchison's case why the influences of the day should not mould the whole character of his scientific life. We shall hear in the records of late years how thoroughly they did so. As he started, so he continued to the end, manifesting throughout his career the permanent sway of the circumstances under which he broke ground as a geologist. At first the novelty and fascination of the pursuits engaged his attention. Many a time on his walking and hunting expeditions he had noticed marine shells far inland. He now found out that such shells formed, as it were, the alphabet of a new language; and that by their means he might decipher for himself the history of the rocks with whose external forms he was so familiar. He threw himself into the study with all his usual ardor, and ere long became as enthusiastic with his hammer over down and shore as he had been with his pencil and note-book among the galleries of Italy, with his hunting-whip or his gun across the moors of Durham.

But if distinction was to be won in this new kind of activity, it could only be by hard toil in the field. He was now thirty-four years of age, and had never had any of the specal training which would have fitted him for working out geological problems indoors, such as the discrimination of fossils, or the characters and alternations of rocks; hence, although the stress of weather – not to speak of the pleasures of society - brought him to London, and kept him there during the winter, he soon saw that to insure progress in his adopted pursuit he must spend as much as possible of every summer and autumn in original field-exploration. He had begun well in this way by the tour along the south coast. Now that another summer has come round, he prepared to resume his hammer in the field. As before a definite task was given to him. Buckland and others advised him to go North, and settle the geological age of the Brora coalfield in Sutherlandshire. Some geologists maintained that the rocks of that district were merely a part of the ordinary coal or carboniferous system; others held them to be greatly younger; to be indeed of the same general age with the lower politic strata of Yorkshire.

A good observer might readily settle this question. Murchison resolved to try. Again he prepared himself by reading and the study of fossils to understand the evidence he was to collect and interpret. And in order to do full justice to the Scottish tract, he went first to the Yorkshire coast, and made himself master of the succession and leading characters of the rocks so admirably displayed along that picturesque line of cliffs. The summer had hardly begun before he and his wife broke up their camp in London, and were on the move northward. Life of Murchison.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

EIKIE, JOHN CUNNINGHAM, a British clergy

man; born at Edinburgh, October 26, 1824.

He was educated in the University of Edinburgh, studied theology, and was the pastor of Presbyterian churches in Toronto and Halifax, Canada. In 1876 he became a clergyman of the Church of England. He is the author of The Backwoods of Canada (1864); Great and Precious Promises (1872); The Life and Words of Christ (1877); Old Testament Portraits (1878); Hours with the Bible (1881); E1tering on Life, a collection of lectures to young men; The Holy Land and the Bible (1887); A Short Life of Christ (1888); New Testament Hours (1893); Landmarks of Old Testament History (1894); A New Short Life of Christ (1898); and The Vicar and His Friends (1901).

“ His aspirations are sublime,” says a writer in the Saturday Review; "his execution is sublime also; but the fabric and matter of it ”- speaking with particular reference to his Life, a Book for a Quiet Hour “is a sort of strange moral shoddy."


Of the preaching of Jesus the Gospel preserves numerous fragments, but no lengthened abstract of any single discourse except that of “the Sermon on the Mount.” It seems to have been delivered immediately after the choice of the Twelve, to the disciples at large and the multitude who thronged to hear the new Rabbi. Descending from the higher point to which He had called up His Apostles, He came toward the crowd which waited for Him ať a level place below. There were numbers from every point — from Judea and Jerusalem in the south, and even from the sea-coast of Tyre and

Sidon; some to hear Him, others to be cured of their diseases, and many to be delivered from unclean spirits. The commotion and excitement were great at His appearance; for it had been found that to touch Him was to be cured; and hence all sought, either by their own efforts or with the help of friends, to get near enough to Him to do so. After a time, however, the tumult was stayed — all having been healed — and He proceeded, before they broke up, to care for their spiritual, as He had already for their temporal wants.

Tradition has chosen the hill known as “the Horns of Hattin" - two horn-like heights, rising sixty feet above the plain between them, two hours west of Tiberias, at the mouth of the gorge which opens past Magdala into the wild cliffs of Arbela, famous in the history of the Zealots as their hiding-place and famous also for Herod's battles in the mid-air at the mouths of their caves by means of great cages filled with soldiers let down the precipices. It is greatly in favor of this site to find such a writer as Dean Stanley saying that the situation so strikingly coincides with the intimations of the Gospel narrative as almost to force the inference that in this instance the eye of those who selected the spot was rightly guided. The plain on which the hill stands is easily accessible from the lake, and it is only a few minutes' walk from it to the summit, before reaching which a broad “ level place” has to be crossed — exactly suited for the gathering of a multitude together. It was to this, apparently, that Jesus came down from one of the higher horns to address the people. Seated on some slightly elevated rock — for the teacher always sat while He taught - the people and the disciples sitting at His

feet on the grass, the cloudless Syrian sky over them; the blue lake with its moving life on the one hand, and, in the far north, the grand form of Hermon glittering in the upper air

He began what is to us the Magna Charta of our faith, and to the hearers must have been the formal inauguration of the New Kingdom of God.

The choice of the twelve Apostles and the Sermon on the Mount mark a turning-point in the life of Jesus. A crisis in the development of His work had arrived. He

« ElőzőTovább »