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a study of natural science; sixteen to the heavens ; five to the form, density, latent heat and magnetic power of the earth and to the polar light; four were on the nature of the firm earth crust, on hot springs, earthquakes and volcanoes ; two on mountains and the type of their formation; two on the form of the earth's surface, and on the connection of the continents; two on the sea and the flowing waters of the earth; ten on the atmosphere, and the distribution of heat; one on the geographical distribution of the organic creation in general ; one on the geography of plants ; three on the geography of animals; and two on ethnography.*
A similar arrangement, though not exactly the same, is followed in the Kosmos. But the rapid progress of science which has made the later volumes of the printed work to differ from the former must have compelled the writer to prepare the work almost ab ovo when he began to print. Indeed he tells us that he preserved no notes of his lectures.
The first volume of the Kosmos gives a general view of the present state of physical science; the second illustrates the incitements to the study of Nature, and proceeds to an outline history of the physical contemplation of the universe; the third in two divisions is devoted to the heavens, or the special study of celestial phenomena; while the fourth, the last which has appeared, is a survey of telluric phenomena, or the earth. It will be evident froin this, the briefest possible statement of the contents of the work, that Humboldt's aim was to present a view of all in Nature which is known to man, and that his treatise is accordingly divided between the heavens and the earth, “the star among the stars.” Or, to quote his own language, in the felicitons translation of Mrs. Sabine, “ The word Cosmos is employed as signifying the Heavens and the earth, or the whole world of sense, or the material universe; agreeably to general Hellenic usage subsequently to the time of Pythagoras, and in conformity with its definition by the unknown author of the treatise entitled De Mundo, which was long erroneously attributed to Aristotle. If scientific
* Klencke, Biogr. Denkmal. Leips. 1859.
names had not long varied from their true linguistic meaning, the present work might properly have been entitled Cosmography, divided into Uranography and Geography.” And again, “The physical cosmography of which I attempt the exposition does not aspire to the perilous elevation of a pure rational science of nature. Leaving to others who may perhaps adventure on them with more success, these depths of a purely speculative philosophy, my essay on the Cosmos consists of physical geography, joined with the description of the heavenly bodies in space : its aim is to present a view of the material universe which may rest on the empirical foundation of the facts registered by science, compared and combined by the operations of the intellect. It is within these limits alone that the undertaking can harmonize with the wholly objective tendency of my mental disposition and with the labors which have occupied my long scientific career.”
It would be superfluous for us to speak of the result of this bold attempt,—this Napoleonic effort to systematize and organize all the disjecta membra of physical science. We have seen it stated with anthority that the Kosmos, like its author, taken all in all, had never been equaled; but in separate departments, the book and its writer have both been surpassed. In the words of another, well qualified to speak—the undertaking was that of a giant, but it was nevertheless impossible. But if the book does not go down to posterity with the Physics of Aristotle and the Natural History of Pliny, it will always be regarded as one of the most remarkable works of this nineteenth century.
From what has now been said, it is obvious that comparatively a small portion of the Kosmos as it has been published is devoted to Physical Geography, properly so called, and when that portion is examined it will be apparent that the world has been regarded rather as a manifestation of the forces of nature, than as a world adapted and designed for the home of mankind. This is a striking difference between the writings of Humboldt and Ritter, as we shall presently have occasion to show. Humbolt was not reluctant to perceive the relation of the earth to man,--for he distinctly refers to it in several eloquent passages, but to Ritter it was a favorite, perhaps we should say, a constant mode of thought.
The fourth volume of the Kosmos, as we have already mentioned, is devoted to terrestrial phenomena. The first section extending through abont one-third of the whole discusses the laws of magnetism; the remainder is occupied with the dynamics of the earth, and especially with the expansive subject of volcanoes. The continuation of the work will bring us, doubtless, to the structure of the continents. But in the very first volume, toward its close, will be found an interesting statement, perhaps more satisfactory because complete so far as it goes, of the present state of Physical Geography. We do not know within the same compass a better resumé of the science. The article by Sir John Herschel in the new edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica is, indeed, more comprehensive, and far more full of facts, but for general statements the chapter in Humboldt is certainly to be preferred. Those who seek for further information must go to the “Earth and Man," by Professor Guyot.
We quote a single passage from the introduction to the Kosmos:
"The telluric portion of the physical description of the universe, to which I preserve the old and expressive title of physical geography, treats of the distribution of magnetism on our planet in its relations of intensity and direction, but does not teach the laws of magnetic attraction and repulsion, or the means of eliciting powerful electro-magnetic effects, whether transitorily or permanently. Physical geography describes in bold and general outlines the compact or indented configuration of continents, and the distribution of their masses in both hemispberes, a distribution which powerfully influences differences of climates and the most important meteorological processes of the atmosphere ;- it seizes the predominant character of mountain chains, whether parallel or transverse and intersecting, and whether belonging to the same or to different epochs and systems of elevation; it examines the mean light of the continents above the present surface of the sea, or the positition of the center of gravity of their volume :: the relation of the highest summits of the great chains to the general line of their ciests, to the vicinity of the sea, and to the mineral character of the rocks of which they consist. It depicts to us the eruptive rocks as active principles of movement, traversing, uplifting, and inclining at various angles the passive sedimentary rocks: it considers volcanoes either as isolated or ranged in single or in double series, and extending their sphere of action to various distances, either by means of long narrow bands of erupted rocks, or by earthquakes operating im circles which widen or contract in the course of centuries. It describes the strife of the liquid element with the firm land; it shows the features which are common to all great rivers in the upper and in the lower portion of their course, and how they become subject to bifurcation. It characterizes rivers either as breaking their way through great mountain chains, or following, for a time, a course parallel to them, either close to their foot or at a considerable distance, according to the influence which the elevation of the mountain system may have exercised on the neighboring plains. It is only the general results of comparative orography and hydrography which belong to the science whose proper limits I am endeavoring to trace, and not the enumeration of our loftiest mountains, active volcanoes, or rivers with the extent of their watershed and the number of their tributaries. All these details belong to geography properly so called, in its most restricted sense. We here consider phenomena only in their mutual connection, and in their relations to the different zones of our planet, and to its general physical constitution. The specialities either of inanimate substances or of organic beings, classed according to analogy form and composition, do indeed form a highly interesting subject of study, but quite foreign to the present work." pp. 45-47.
But it is not to be supposed that Humboldt's contributions to Physical Geography are limited to these portions of the Kosmos. His other works are all of them relevant in a greater or less degree to the same branch of knowledge. To him the world is indebted for the promulgation of views, equally novel and profound, in respect to the importance of recognizing the element of the altitudes, in the study of every country, and not less, for his original and masterly exhibition of the laws of the geographical distribution of plants and animals. No one now thinks of describing scientifically any country without at least as much reference to vertical measurements as to horizontal dimensions, nor can any one study with thoroughness any phase of organic life without acknowledging and accepting the previous labors of Humboldt. His name is enrolled in every department of science; while as an explorer and a geographer we must acknowledge that it stands alone.
It is time for us to pass from the writings of Humboldt to those of Ritter, his junior by about ten years, his survivor by scarcely five months.
The great work of Ritter is the Erdkunde, or, as the title is more fully defined, “Geography in its relation to Nature and to the History of mankind, as the sure basis for studying and
teaching the physical and historical sciences.” The first part appeared in 1817, and the second in the following year, but these two volumes, like the lectures of Humboldt, were only the precursors of a far more extended work. They related to only two continents, Africa and Asia. In 1822 he began to publish an enlarged and improved edition, but after the appearance of one volume upon Africa a long pause ensued, and it was not until 1832, that the first portion of the second volume upon Asia was issued from the press. Within a few years afterward several parts appeared, all pertaining to the same continent, and it was only a few weeks before his decease that he wrote the closing words of the nineteenth volume, upon Asia. Even then he had not completed his description of that portion of the globe. To have described the entire world in his complete and elaborate manner would have required a longer life than four score years. During all the time of this publication Ritter was engaged in teaching and in accumulating the data for the prosecution of his work. It is understood that especially in respect to Europe he had gathered a vast amount of materials, to which his frequent journeys in vacation would enable him to add the result of wide observation.
The Erdkunde of Asia is divided into five sections, and to most of it good indexes are published. The first includes the introduction, and Eastern Asia, considered in five divisions, the central plateaux, Siberia, China, and India; the second sec. tion includes Western Asia, likewise considered in five divisions, the Turanian and Iranian countries, with those of the Euphrates and Tigris; the third section is devoted to Arabia; the fourth to the peninsula of Sinai, Palestine, and Syria; and the fifth to Asia Minor.
Dr. Kramer, in the memorial of Ritter, to which we have already referred, thus briefly characterizes this great work:
" Ritter's intention was, to give with the greatest accuracy a vivid image of the formation of the superficies of the earth in its horizontal and vertical dimensions by means of a conscientious and careful use of all existing sources, and to represent and explain the characteristic qualities of its parts and their relation to Each other and to the whole earth, but at the same time to make it serve as a substratum of all animated nature, and as a foundation and condition of the de