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force continued unimpaired even subsequently to the formation of some tertiary deposits, those geologists who contend it is now in the wane must reason from a very limited number of facts indeed.
Both Mr. Poulett Scrope* and Dr. Daubenyt in their recent publications agree in considering that the effects produced at present by earthquakes and volcanos are at least analogous in kind, if inferior in degree, to those that have resulted from similar agents at remote æras. More than 170 volcanos are at present in activity on the land, even if separate orifices at a short distance from one another be reckoned as one volcano ; and there is reason to believe that there are at least as many, and probably a much greater number, beneath the sea—the power of which latter in throwing up islands and altering the bed of the sea is well known.
The chain of extinct volcanos described by the above mentioned authors in Auvergne, the latest of which became extinct before the period of any historical records; the streams of lava, which can be traced from their craters to the choked up vallies, and to the ancient courses of rivers thereby diverted into new channels ;these and many more phenomena raise the strongest presumption in favour of the great antiquity of some parts of the European continent. When we consider the deltas of large rivers, the strata at the bottom of freshwater lakes in Germany, Italy, and England, but, above all, the recent deposits at the bottom of the great American lakes Superior and Huron, inclosing shells of the very species now inhabiting those lakes and exposed to view in consequence of the subsidence of the water occasioned by the partial destruction of their barriers, we can affirm with certainty that modern freshwater deposits, of no inconsiderable thickness, far exceed in area the ancient freshwater formations, at present described. As to the scale on which submarine strata are now formed, we remain, of course, in comparative ignorance, but it is certainly more considera ble than has been supposed by many. Whether the coral reefs of the East Indian archipelago are built up from an unfathomable depth, as Flinders imagined, or are based on submarine volcanos, as Kotzebue and more modern writers suppose, we are at least certain, from the manner in which these zoophytes increase, and from the necessary accumulation of their broken fragments, that those aggregations of calcareous matter cannot be of slight depth, while we know that their superficial extent is immense. Captain King, in his late survey of Australia, sailed along a continued * Considerations on Volcanos, by G. Poulett Scrope, Esq. London. 1825.
+ See p. 2. Description of active and extinct Volcanos, by Charles Daubeny, M.D. London. 1826.
| Letters to Professor Jameson, on thc Vulcanus of Auvergne, by Charles Daubeny, M. Đ. F. R.S. Dr. Bigsby in the Journal of Science, &c. No. 37. pp. 262, 263. KK 4
line of coral reef for 700 miles, interrupted only by a few intervals not exceeding 30 miles. These reefs stretch from the north-east coast of Australia towards New Guinea, and very far exceed in length any chain of secondary mountains in Europe. It is unnecessary to remind the geologist, how close a resemblance masses of such zoophytes intermixed with calcareous sand and the exuviæ of testacea so abundant in tropical seas, must bear to the greater part of the ancient oolitic formations. A calcareous concreted sand-rock unquestionably of modern formation has been found to exist in Australia throughout a space of no less than 25 degrees of latitude, and an equal extent of longitude, on the southern, west, and north-west coasts. We might adduce many more examples from the Mediterranean, and other seas, but we shall content ourselves with stating, in conclusion, that the stone of Guadaloupe containing the human skeletons is, in parts, as compact as the greater proportion of our secondary rocks. This description of rock is very common in the West Indian Archipelago, and increases rapidly; it forms the 'gained land,' which has extended the plain of Cayes in St. Domingo, and there the remains of pottery and other human implements have been found at the depth of 20 feet.*
There are still, it may be said, some conglomerate rocks in Europe and in America, such, for instance, as are remarkably exhibited both in the old and new red sandstone formations, that evince a continued and destructive action over great extent of the globe, unparalleled by existing causes. That the sudden elevation or subsidence of land might be attended with such ca. tastrophes will, however, hardly be denied. Earthquakes and volcanos are, for the most part, characterized by brief periods of intense activity, interrupted by irregular intervals of quiescence.t Of the duration of these intervals we must be, at present, altogether ignorant, for centuries of complete tranquillity have intervened between recorded eruptions of volcanos accompanied with violent shocks of earthquakes.-----But we cannot allow ourselves to speculate farther on these topics, and return to our zoological observations.
Of birds an extremely limited number have hitherto been dis. covered in a fossil state, and their scarcity forms a striking contrast to the abundance of other kinds of vertebrated animals. In the gypsum of Paris, however, before mentioned, several well defined species have been found and described by M. Cuvier. They were coeval with the Palæotherium and its contemporaries, and were different, like them, from any species now living; yet, with Cuv. Discours sur les Rev. &c. p. 134.
+ Scrope, on Volcanos, p. 9.
respect to the general laws of co-existence and structure, and all that relates to the nature of their organs and their essential functions,' they were the same as those of our own time.'*
But in oviparous quadrupeds, remarkable alike for their magnitude and organization, nature has, in ancient epochs, teemed throughout these latitudes with a prolific power not exerted at present even between the tropics. These quadrupeds occur in strata of far more ancient date than the viviparous class. They make their first appearance in England in the lias, where many skeletons are procured in so perfect a state that the most exact knowledge has been obtained of their structure. . In the volume before us are two excellent papers, by. Mr. Conybeare, on the osteological characters of the fossil genera Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus, both first discovered and determined in this country. * The Ichthyosaurus is an animal entirely sui generis; possessing, bowever, sufficient analogies with the Saurian order to justify our referring it to that great natural division :-it holds an intermediate place between the crocodile and lacertæ.' Like the Cetacea it was exclusively an inhabitant of the sea ; its eyes were of an enormous size, its neck short, its tail extremely long, its paddles broad and flat, and its whole frame admirably adapted for passing with rapidity through the water. Mr. Conybeare has ascertained four distinct species: one of these, I. communis, sometimes exceeds twenty feet in length; and I. platyodon was yet more gigantic.
The Plesiosaurus was still more extraordinary. Of this genus five species are ascertained. An almost entire skeleton of one of these--P. dolichodeirus, found in lias at Lyme Regis in Dorsetshire, and now in the possession of the Duke of Buckingham, is figured in this volume. This specimen does not exceed eight or nine feet in length, but the same species sometimes attained the length of twenty feet. It was distinguished from all known oviparous and viviparous quadrupeds, by a thin slender neck, equalling or exceeding the body in length, and composed of above thirty vertebræ.
* This great increase,'observes Mr. Conybeare,' of the number of joints in the neck is the more remarkable from the rigour with which nature appears in most cases to have enforced the law of a very limited number. In all quadrupedal animals, in all the mammalia, (excepting only the tridactyl sloths, which have nine,) the series is exactly seven ; and so strict is this rule, that even the short and stiff neck of the whale, and the long and flexible neck of the cameleopard are formed out of the same elementary number ; the vertebræ in the former instance being extremely thin and anchylosed together, and in the latter greatly elongated. Rep
* Cuv. Oss. Foss. vol. iii. pp. 15. 255.
appear sufficiently on the face of this pamphlet. His lordship’s profound knowledge, both of the law and practice of courts of equity, is unquestionable; his opinions therefore upon the subjects embraced by the Report, or in any manner connected with it, are entitled to the highest degree of respect and attentionThey will have their due degree of weight with the public at large, no less than with the legislature, when it comes to the task of embodying and carrying into effect such of the suggestions made by the commissioners as may be thought expedient, together with such other provisions as may be found consequential upon them. More than this not even the noble lord himself can wish for, or anticipate, as the result of his public-spirited interference. Even the vague fear of innovation might, we conceive, have been quieted by the name of the illustrious individual who presided in the commission, and whose name appears foremost, as sanctioning and recommending the propositions of the Report; and his lordship needs not to be informed, in the words of the first and greatest of our English chancellors, that even innovation itself is a thing not more turbulent than-"à froward retention of customs. Nevertheless, for ourselves we shall only say that, sincerely wishing well to the results of this important inquiry, we rejoiced at the appearance of his lordship's pamphlet. In questions which arise upon subjects of profound and intricate investigation, truth is seldom elicited without a considerable degree of hostile controversy. Let the propounder of an opinion be ever so well informed upon the subject of it, he seldom perceives all the connected arguments, whether favourable or unfavourable to his own conclusions, until after a conflict with some able adversary. Such a struggle generally leads to deeper meditations and more active researches to the discovery of facts, which would not have been known; of arguments which would not have suggested themselves; and of fastnesses and weakuesses, which would not have been spontaneously explored.
At one most important result, however, the framers of the Report, and the noble author of the pamphlet, arrive in concurrence-namely, that any great and extensively beneficial change in the practice and administration of the law is necessarily connected with a revision of its principles.
No person,' say the Commissioners, “can have liad much experience in courts of equity, without feeling, that many suits owe their origin to, and many others are greatly protracted by, questions arising from the niceties and subtleties of the law and practice of conveyancing. Any al. teration in this system must be made with the greatest caution: but as connected with the object of saving time and expense to suitors in the Court of Chancery, we venture to submit to your Majesty's consideration,
whetber it might not be proper to commit to competent persons the task of examining this part of our law, with a view to determining if any improvement can safely be made in it, which might lessen the expense and parrow the field of litigation respecting the transfer of property
The recommendation contained in this passage of the Report is indeed conveyed in terms which are framed with all the caution to be expected from persons in the exercise of so high and responsible an office, when speaking on a subject not strictly within the scope of the inquiry committed to them, however incidentally connected with its objects. But it is impossible for the most superficial reasoner not to perceive the extent of meaning couched, beneath the guarded expressions which they have employed, and in which sense they seem to have been considered by Lord Redesdale himself where he signifies his full approbation of this part of their suggestions. What (it must be asked) is the law of Conveyancing,' the niceties and subtleties of which give rise to so many questions, the origin, themselves of suits so complicated and protracted, but the whole system of jurisprudence by which the transmission of property from person to person is governed; and how can any investigation of the subject be limited, so as not to embrace that entire system, and the very principles on which it is founded ?
Scarcely had these intimations been given, when they were answered by a work of singular novelty, both in its exhibition of the system itself, so far as regards the subject of real. property, and in suggestions for its amelioration. Embracing, as does the work alluded to, the entire subject which it professes to discuss, its copiousness and, at the same time, its severe compression, alike forbid the supposition of its being the mere production of the moment; and we are forced to conclude that, by a fortunate coincidence, the author was already prepared for the enterprize in which the sudden demand of the occasion induced him, perhaps, more immediately to embark.
Mr. Humphreys, a gentleman well known for his professional skill and experience, (qualities which cannot fail to add weight to his theories, and force to the confidence which we are disposed to place in his reasoning,) commences the work which we are about to consider, with a distinction, hitherto unremarked by us, between political and civil institutions, as regarded with a view to correction. The former, he observes, are in their nature comparatively siinple, and they affect the great body of the people.
When a government possesses the elements, and a people the character of freedom, it is by the quick perception and the energies of the public that political defects are detected or abuses remedied; and, in