Imatges de pÓgina

France, is it certain that they may not have been thrown up since the time of Noah's flood ? For the earliest historical records respecting that country, do not reach back within 2000 years of that event. Or if they were antediluvian, is it certain that the diluvial currents might not have been comparatively feeble in that region ?

4. The existence and preservation of the olive on mount Ararat have been regarded as other objections against the Mosaic account of the deluge. It does not now grow, it is said, in the vicinity of that mountain, certainly not near its top, which is covered with perpetual snow. It might be a sufficient reply to this difficulty, that there has been in all ages not a little diversity of opinion as to the situation of the Ararat on which the ark rested. If the opinion should prove true, that it is really a part of the Himmaleh range in India, the objection would disappear. But not to resort to this mode of avoiding the difficulty, if we regard the sacred and geological deluges as identical, we have the strongest reason to suppose that at the time of the latter, there was no small change of the temperature of northern regions. All the northern part of Asia abounds with the remains of the elephant. It is true that one of these animals, found preserved entire in ice, was covered with hair; and some have thought that this circumstance proves the animal to have been an inhabitant of a cold climate. But if it inhabited a climate as cold as the one now existing there, whence could it obtain vegetable food? The truth is, that hairy elephants are now found in the bigher and cooler parts of India, and this shows us, that though the climate of Siberia when inhabited by these extinct races of elephants was colder than the present unmodified climate of the torid zone, yet it was not much colder. And hence the antediluvian climate around the present Ararat, might have been warm enough to have produced the olive. Indeed, for this purpose very little change was probably necessary; we mean in the lower parts of Armenia ; since Strabo mentions that in his day one part of that country did actually produce the olive.

That a change of climate did take place at the epoch of the geological deluge, is proved very conclusively from the fact above referred to, of the discovery of an entire elephant encased in ice on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. For previous to the time in which he was enveloped in the ice, the climate must have been too warm, in order that such an animal might live, to suppose he was frozen up during the winter so firmly as not to thaw out again during the summer. But the congelation, when it took place, was so powerful that the ice remained unmelted till the beginning of the present century. The change of climate therefore, must have been sudden and permanent. Whether the pouring down of the contents of the Arctic Ocean upon that country might have been a sufficient cause of this change, we hardly feel prepared to say. That it would produce as great a change of temperature as we suppose took place, for the time being, we doubt not. We find it difficult, however, to conceive that this cause should still continue in operation. On the whole, beset as the subject is with difficulties, we are prepared to say little more than that a change of climate did take place at the epoch of the last geological deluge ; and if the deluge of Scripture be identical, this fact removes all difficulty respecting the growth of the olive in Armenia. Or, if they be not identical, what happened at one of these cataclysms, may have been repeated during the other.

It appears that during the Noachian deluge the olive tree from wbich the dove obtained a leaf, was neither uprooted, nor did it lose its vitality. Hence some have inferred that there could not have been much violence in the diluvian waters. But we have only to suppose that particular tree to have stood in a sheltered situation, and it might have remained unaffected though the waters raged with great fury around it. As to the “leaf plucked off,” it might have been put forth after the waters had subsided; for there was an interval of more than a month and a half between the time when the ark first grounded, and when the dove was sent forth the second time. Some have supposed the olive to have been a new creation, of which we have reason to suppose there may have been many examples immediately subsequent to the deluge. But in that case, the leaf could hardly have been evidence to Noah that the earth had become so dry that vegetation had again put forth.

Nor do we see any need of miraculous agency in the case, and therefore we ought not to admit it without strong proof.

5. Another objection to the Mosaic account of the deluge is, that pairs of all the animals on the globe could not have been preserved in the ark. From the days of Celsus, who in reference to this difficulty denominated the ark κιβωτόν αλλόκοτον, , the absurd ark, to the present time, this objection has been urged as quite unanswerable. And many theologians have made great efforts to show, by rigid calculation, that there was room abundant in that vessel for all the animals that would be liable to be destroyed by a deluge, with provisions for a year. If we regard the cubit as having been 21.8 inches, according to some writers, the length of the ark was 547 English feet, its breadth ninety-one feet, and its height fifty-five feet. But if the cubit was only a foot and a half, according to the most probable estimate, its length was 450 feet, its breadth seventy-five feet, and its height forty-five feet. Now such dimensions would perhaps be sufficient to accommodate pairs of all the animals known to naturalists in the days of Buffon ; when they estimated the number of the mammalia at about 250, and made little account of other animals. But since more than a thousand quadrupeds have been described, more than 6000 birds, and more than 100, 000 insects; and since it is made probable that the actual number of these classes is at least half a million ;* such calculations as these have fallen into neglect, and no judicious Christian likes to rest the authority of Moses upon such uncertain estimates, if there be another mode of meeting this difficulty less objectionable. And another mode is now generally adopted, even by writers who are extremely fearful lest any violence should be done to the language of Scripture, to accommodate it to the discoveries of science. They suppose it, as we have already mentioned in considering the question as to the universality of the food, an example where universal terms are used with a limited signification. For the command to bring into the ark of every living thing of all flesh, pairs of every sort, must, at any rate, be limited to those animals that live out of water; and there would seem to be no reason why a still further limitation of the language is not allowable if there be sufficient reason for it. Now we cannot but believe that the impossibility, without a constant miracle, of collecting and preserving all animals from every part of the world in the ark, as well as the entire uselessness of doing this, so far as we can see, together with the difficulties resulting from the facts concerning their present distribution over the earth, (a subject which we shall shortly consider,) do form a sufficient reason for limiting the language of Moses to those animals most common and important in the country where the ark was constructed; or rather to a sufficient number of animals to form an impressive memorial to the post

• Foreign Quarterly Review for April, 1835, p. 90.

diluvians of so great a catastrophe, and probably also to furnish them at once, without a miracle, with the necessary domestic animals. The case seems very analogous to the naming of animals by Adam, when it is said that Adam gave names to all cattle and to the fowl of the air. But few commentators we believe will contend that this is to be understood as zoölogically true. We are not prepared to say that the ark might not have been large enough to have contained pairs of all the aniinals that live out of water; but to collect them and take care of them and afterwards to distribute them over the face of the earth must have been altogether miraculous, and as we do not see of what use such a miracle could have been, and we know that God does not put forth a miraculous agency where the object can be accomplished by his ordinary operations, we rather prefer the explanation that supposes universal terms to have been employed with a limited meaning; and that only a part of the species of animals that then existed were preserved in the ark. “As we do not thus violate the principles of interpretation, and as this exegesis perfectly satisfies the objection, it seems to us more satisfactory than any other.

6. Finally, it is said that the present distribution of animals on the globe is incompatible with the idea that they ever spread or migrated from any one point on its surface, as they must have done if all proceeded from those preserved in the ark. This is the most important and plausible objection we have considered ; and in order fully to appreciate its force, we must date the general principles by which the distribution of plants and animals on the globe has been regulated ;-a subject, which, until recently, even the ablest naturalists did not understand ; and concerning which, we apprehend that very vague notions now prevail

among the great mass of intelligent men who are not naturalists.

In the first place, a considerable number of species, both of animals and plants, are capable of enduring great varieties of climate, and have in fact migrated over a considerable part of the globe. Most of the domestic animals, such as the ox, the horse, the dog, and the cat, are of this description; being found in every climate.

But some, such as the camel and the elephant, are confined to the warmer parts of the earth. Some plants also accompany man wherever he goes. The plantain, for instance (Plantago major L.) followed the track of the first settlers of this country so uniformly, as to be denominated by

Indians, “English man's foot.” It is only a few years since the flea bane (Erigeron Canadense L.) was first carried to Europe, and it is now spread over France, Great Britain, Italy, Sicily, Holland, and Germany. The thorn apple (Datura Stramonium L.) originally brought from the East Indies and Abyssinja, now grows as a common weed over nearly every part of Europe and the United States. The seeds of some plants are fitted to sail on the water, and in this way are driven from continent to continent. Others have hooks attached to them, so that they may cling to the hairy coats of animals and be thus dispersed.

To this migratory class of organized beings, man belongs. It is easy to conceive how he might have originated in a particular spot, and in the course of a few ages have been spread over the globe, as we now find him to be. We are not aware that any of those naturalists who believe the varieties of men to constitute different species, created in the regions they now occupy, deny at all the possibility of distribution from one point; but they found their opinion upon other considerations.

But in the second place, the greater part of animals and plants are confined to particular districts of the globe; so that the earth is divided into a large number of distinct zoölogical and botanical provinces, each one of which is distinguished by several peculiar species. The most distinct of these provinces are separated by wide oceans, or are situated in different zones; but sometimes a range of mountains merely forms the dividing line. The difference between the plants and animals of the several zones on the globe, has long been well known ; and it may be supposed that all the peculiarity of any particular zoölogical or botanical province depends upon the latitude. But this is not the fact; for the productions of countries on different continents, between the same isothermal lines, do not correspond; certainly not as to species. Thus, of the 2891 species of plants described by Pursh in the United States, only 385 occur in the temperate parts of Europe. New Holland' is remarkable for the peculiarity of its Fauna and Flora ; the plants and animals found there being almost without exception different from those in other parts of the world. So the animals of America are strikingly different from those of the eastern continent. The number of zoological provinces on the globe has been estimated at eleven, and the Decandolles, father and son, than whom no better judges can be named, reckon the number of distinct boVOL. XI. No. 29.


« AnteriorContinua »