Imatges de pÓgina

Of such shattered elements of corrupted greatness were the Spanish authorities composed. Now if we consider the tendency of all dele gated governments to deteriorate as the distance increases at which they are thrown from the centre of authority, we have only to recollect what Spain then was, what her colonial system had ever been, and that she was separated by from five to ten thousand miles from her American dependencies, to infer the character of this nation.

When this country entered on the revolutionary enterprise, the work which devolved on it divided itself into two great branches: the first consisted in breaking the iron sceptre under whose sway it had long groaned; the second in originating a system of jurisprudence, under which South Americans might enjoy their blood-bought liberty. How it acquitted itself in the first, the civilized world was enraptured to witness. But the hopes with which this success inspired the friends of liberty with regard to the second have successively been quenched in the deepest darkness. The contrast between their practice of correct principles and their splendid legislative theories was nowhere more striking than among the South Americans. A history of a legislative assembly here might be an important index to the moral character of these provinces. When the military chieftain finds his partizans sufficiently numerous, he assumes the supreme majistracy, but as it would never answer to exercise illegal authority, he imme. diately concerts measures to legalize his assumed power: this is done by obtaining a note for his appointment from the people, too much intimidated to venture on either silence or a negative. His next step is to summon, by a free election, an independent legislative assembly. The members of this body are chosen under the same influence by which his excellency was elected. Their decisions are consequently only the acts of his creatures.

Thus these still legislative acts of the republic were simply the decrees of the man in power. But the legislature must distinguish itself by some brilliant proofs of lofty patriotism; and hence its chief business consists in enacting what is most splendid in the theory of a free constitution. But this sublime and beautiful theory was formed without the least regard to its relevancy to the state of the people for which it was formed. It seems never to have occurred to these law. making patriots that a system of government adapted to a community of the first intelligence and most shining virtue was not perfectly appropriate to a nation of semi-barbarians; that the ancient Romans, the best parts of whose system of jurisprudence they adopted, prepared to enjoy such a system by centuries of severe discipline: or that the free institutions of the United States-which they chose for their model-would scarcely have found in another nation on the globe suf ficient intelligence and virtue for a persevering support. They seemed totally unaware that for the same reason that law parted with its omnipotence when Rome lost her virtue, it would be powerless over a people who had never yet acquired virtue. To form a splendid system of jurisprudence out of the noblest models of ancient and modern republics, to govern a people over whom three centuries of degrading thraldom had rolled, was like seeking Newtonian vigor in untutored childhood. If instead of thus legislating without any reference to the political knowledge, the personal virtue, or the general susceptibility VOL. XI.-April, 1840.


of the people they represented, they had directed all their energies to the attainment of a practical reformation, many of the evils which they inherited would have long since been corrected. Had they not overlooked this gradual and practical advance, which should have been commensurate to the growing capabilities of the community; had they not deemed those humbler regulations below the lofty duties assigned them, but by them disciplined the public mind to appreciate free institutions, then would there not remain so great a gulf between the legislative theories and general practice of South America. But neglecting this path of safety, and amusing themselves with golden dreams of national greatness, when they should have put forth a vigorous hand of reformation, they have left almost every page of South American history to be rather blotted by outrage, or stained with blood.

It has repeatedly occurred that the legislatures had no sooner originated a magnificent constitution, than they themselves first endured the injustice against which they had so amply provided. In these public safeguards the immutability of persons and property, the entire freedom of the press, unobstructed commerce with all nations, and the strictest responsibility of the executive stood out in glaring capitals. But scarcely had these law makers finished the "magna charta," when, by an opposing chief, their property was confiscated, their persons imprisoned, or banished without trial, and the editors who had eulogized their patriotism were compelled to change their tone and traduce them as traitors. This passion for theorizing, and this total neglect of the exigencies of the community, furnish a painful proof of imbecility, and have been a fruitful source of the South American calamities. But we could not without the greatest injustice ascribe all the sufferings of this ever changing country to its legislatures and rulers.

In seeking the elements of that political confusion and civil strife which have so wasted the energies and exhausted the resources of this people, reference must be had to the character of the people themselves. In vain would ambitious individuals have formed projects for personal aggrandizement at the expense of the public weal had not the general mass of society been adapted to their purposes. The cause of all this destructive turmoil, which has laid waste the fairest portion of the globe, is, therefore, to be sought in those elements of social character which originated in the colonial system. Had these disorganizing elements pervaded the community from which that acute diplomatist, Franklin, sprang, of which that great general, Washington, was the father, these choice spirits of our race, with all their coadjutors of im. mortal memory, would have seen the fruit of their mighty achievements cast to the dust, and retired broken hearted to the grave of neglected worth. Though a few great men may do much toward originating and administering salutary laws, they cannot suddenly raise a nation of slaves to the lofty capability of wise and steady self-control.

As the only remaining number of the sketches will be confined exclusively to South America as a field of missionary operations, we cannot properly close the present number without glancing at some of the physical features by which this country is most strongly marked, No adimirer of nature can survey this singularly inviting continent

without feeling himself in the most interesting section of the globe we inhabit. Nature nowhere else presents so peerless a grandeur, she nowhere else works on so magnificent a scale. The vast extent and stupendous elevation of its mountain ridges-the fearful depth and sublimity of the valleys and ravines, by which these are cleft asunder-the fury of the storms which rage around their airy summitsthe number and grandeur of volcanoes which blaze amid the mountain snows, and by their concealed fires shake the foundations of the Andes; these conspire to give the western coast the most romantic character on the globe.

If from these seats of eternal winter we descend to the plains, we shall find rolling over vast territories rivers of such sea-like magnitude as water no other quarter of the Creator's footstool. These do not sweep rapidly along, like the Mississippi, or thunder down impassable rapids, like the St. Lawrence; but the noblest of them glide placidly on, offering pathways for navigation thousands of miles into the largest and richest basin on the globe. Indeed, on this continent is to be found the giant of geography-the majesty of the material creation. But the position on the globe assigned to this great peninsula deserves a few reflections, as from this it derives several peculiarities in its physical character.

It possesses much greater uniformity in its atmospheric temperature than similar parallels north of the equator. It is found by careful experiment that where the sun shines perpendicularly on water no more than a fifty-fifth part of its rays is reflected, when at an angle of 40° nearly the fiftieth part is reflected, and when at 75° almost one half is reflected. Now as nearly the whole of South America lies in lower latitures than 40° the waters near it in both oceans must absorb most of the sun's rays and leave the superincumbent air but triflingly af fected by them. This state of the atmosphere on almost every side of South America must materially modify its climate. Besides, when the days are the longest in South America the portions of land over which the sun is perpendicular are comparatively small. New Holland, Madagascar, Southern Africa, and South America are almost the only land surface over which the southern tropic passes. All these amount to less than 90° of land, leaving the other 270° entirely water. Now as each of these portions of land lies remote from each other, the intervening seas prevent their mutual action, so that the heat of one does not enhance that of the other.

It is far otherwise in North America. That vast continent, stretching itself from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Florida toward the north pole, becomes intensely heated when the sun is that side of the equator. And as the sun remains about eight days longer north of the line than south of it, the power is amazing with which it acts on that vast reflecting surface. The high lands in South America are a local cause which conspires with these general causes to give a cooler temperature to its climate. Nor is the cold ever so intense here as at equal distance north of the equator. This difference is chiefly to be sought in the opposite relations sustained by the two Americas to their respective polar regions. The land extending in North America up to the frozen seas, continues a commuuication open from the frigid zone to the intertropical climates, and often gives fearful

rigor to a northern winter. But in South America this polar influence is never felt, as it is entirely cut off by a circulating current both of water and air around the southern point of this peninsula.

But this climate is not only less incident than that of the northern hemisphere to the extremes of heat and cold-it is also much more bright and serene. When two currents of air, of different temperature, meet, each saturated with all the humidity it could carry, the compound which they make never holds in solution the same quantity of moisture with which they were separately fraught. Now as for several reasons we have assigned the solar action is much greater north of the equator than south of that line, the currents which meet from opposite latitudes must form their compound north of the equator. It is therefore that hemisphere which will be most shaded with clouds and watered by their contents. The action of this principle, at which our limits will only allow us to glance, might evidently be traced to very various and important results. Still there is on most of South America a sufficiency of rain to secure abundant fertility. This especially applies to the ever verdant valley of the Amazon. This garden of the globe enjoys to a remarkable extent the action of the Atlantic. There are two causes which act with much uniformity in producing one part of the year a south-east wind, and at another a north-east, in the neighborhood of the equator. One of these causes is the greater action of the sun within the tropics than on any other part of the globe. This maximum heat on these parallels renders the air there so much specifically lighter as to give it a tendency in higher latitudes to rush toward the equator, and were there no other influence to act from other points, the prevailing winds would always be in that direction. But the greater motion of the globe at the equator than near the poles powerfully influences the direction of these currents. As the air has an eastern motion more than a thousand miles an hour on the equator, and is perfectly at rest at the pole, could it be instantly transported from the pole to the equator it would produce an east wind, blowing more than a thousand miles an hour, which would have ten times the velocity of our most destructive hurricanes. But though such a removal of this fluid could be suddenly made by no agent in nature, currents of it passing from higher latitudes have less easterly motion than the parallels over which they pass in approaching the equator. Consequently these portions of air become an east wind. They are, therefore, acted on by the superior heat of the sun at the equator, and by the greater motion of the globe near that line. The former would produce a wind blowing toward the equator, at right angles with it. The latter would produce a wind blowing directly west. But from these two forces acting at right angles to each other, the resulting motion must be in the diagonal of a parallelogram, the sides of which will represent these forces. This will be a south-east. erly wind one half of the year, and a north-easterly the other half. It would only vary from these directions as one of the forces became greater than the other. The prevailing winds will be found in one of these directions within the tropics where they are affected by no local Now as there is no such cause which acts with sufficient power to prevent the Atlantic breeze from being in the direction of the


great valley of the Amazon, that immense basin is made the richest spot on the globe by the direct action of that ocean.

But while this cause, which clothes the isles of the east in spicy groves, must ever be acting on this region of boundless fertility, there are other agents, equally uniform in their action, which aro reducing some small sections of South America to deserts of sand. Among these sterile portions may be reckoned the burning plains of Pern, on the very borders of the great Pacific. As the current of humid air from this ocean blows on a line nearly parallel to this shore, too little of its fertilizing humidity is deposited here to protect the soil against a verticle sun. These barren plains will cover a larger territory, for after a desert has commenced, its continual enlargement will take place by the action of the most stable laws of nature. As the air over such a heated and strongly reflecting surface becomes extremely rarefied, that which rushes in from the surrounding atmos. phee passing the same process, must ascend to the higher regions. These ortions of air which are successively wafted into the rarefied column tes far from depositing any of their humidity, that they drain the surrounding atmosphere of its moisture, ascend with it to a great leight, and pass off to deposit it on some high land or neighboring ocean. Thus by this draining process the air beyond the limits of a desert becomes too dry to support vegetation; trees and plants expire, and the circle of desolation becomes perpetually broader. So far as the margin of the great African desert has been explored, abundant evidence has been obtained of its ancient fertility and dense population, and consequently of the comparatively recent enlargement of its arid empire. In Asia, whole provinces are changed to deserts within periods well known to history. Indeed, mighty cities are now being buried there by the shifting sands, which were once the home of the great and the seats of empire.

Thus will progress the transformation of soil into sand in South America, until in the course of ages several provinces will be con. verted into a vast sand bank. Bit as there are here several barr ers to this desolating progress of nature, it can never advance so far on this continent as it is destined to do in the eastern world.

For the Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review.


A Sermon,


"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living," Rom. xiv, 9.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are fundamental doc. trines of Christian theology. They are so intimately and inseparably connected with the entire system of Christianity, from beginning to end of divine revelation, that to promulgate that system without them, or by incorrect views of them, would be alike dangerous to the system


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