Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors]

stant current setting from east to west, so that ships require a strong westerly wind to stem it: and many fatal accidents have happened by ships being driven upon the western coast of Africa, when they thought themselves many leagues to the east of it, from not allowing for the westerly current. The motion of the waters in the free ocean, would be at the rate of ten miles in twenty-four hours.

Now, npon casting an eye upon the map of the Atlan tic, it will be seen that this great stream of water, coming from the ocean round the south of the Cape of Good Hope, will run in about a northwesterly direction, until it comes upon the great dam formed by the coast of South America. The waters of the Atlantic, between the tropics, are themselves impelled by the same causes which create this current, and in the same direction, so that a vast body of water, arising from the united action of those currents, is heaped up against the shores of South America. The strength of this current falls upon that part of the coast which is to the north of the river Parabiba; and by the direction of the coast is sent on, in nearly a northwesterly direction, past the mouths of the great rivers, Amazon and Oronoco, where the waters of the current enter the ribbean Sea. The island of Trinidad is nio

placed here just in the heart of the stream; and he waters pour between that island and the main land with great rapidity, and then form a westerly current along the whole northern .coast of South America. The effect of this current is seen in the distribution of land and water in that part of the globe. The islands of the West Indies seem to be those parts of a formerly connected continent, which have had strength enough to resist the continual force of the

And the Isthmus of Darien is, as it were, the back-bone of a skeleton, of which the flesh and cartilages have been eaten away.

Along this isthmus the current of the western ocean is forced in a northerly direction; it meets with the turbid waves of the Mississippi, and proceeds to the southern extremity of Florida, so that its course is now turned nearly due east. Here it passes with great rapidity into



the strait of Bahama, at the rate of eighty miles in twentyfour hours, or double the average rapidity of rivers, and sometimes even with a velocity of five miles an hour, having now taken a nearly northeasterly direction.

We began by comparing the Gulf Stream to a mill-pool. To complete the resemblance at this point, we must suppose the stream which issues from the mill to be filled with hot water. For the great tropical current has been detained for a long time in the great hot gulf formed by the coast of Caraccas, the Mexican and Florida coasts, and at length issues forth into the North Atlantic, at a temperature so greatly above the average heat of the ocean, that vessels navigating those seas, can tell within a few minutes the time of their entering the Gulf Stream by the sudden increase in the warmth of the water. This difference often amounts to nine, twelve, and fifteen degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer, and sometimes to much more. Thus, on the bank of Newfoundland, the temperature of the cold water on the bank has been observed to be 500, while that of the stream was 720,

The breadth of the stream gradually increases after it leaves the straits of Bahama. Between Cape Biscaino and the bank of Bahama, the breadth is fifteen leagues. In latitude 29° 30' N. the breadth is seventeen leagues. In latitude 41° 25' N., longitude 67° W., it is eighty leagues wide; and having now met with a great arctic current, it is turned towards the East, at the southern extremity of the bank of Newfoundland, which Volney well denominates the bar at the mouth of this enormous marine river. The union of the hot current of water with the cold of the ocean and of the atmosphere is marked, at the bank of Newfoundland, by two phenomena. The current has expanded in width, and diminished in velocity. Hence, as in great floods, and at the mouths of rivers, the matter which had been sustained in the water during its rapid motion is now deposited, and in the course of years has formed the great bank of Newfoundland. Meanwhile, the water being relatively hot, the atmosphere which it brings with it contains copious vapors, which are precipitated, as 8000 as they meet with a colder current of air or water,

Vol. IV.-36

and form those extraordinary banks of fog, which are, in the atmosphere of the bank of Newfoundland, what the bank itself is to the bottom of the ocean, a continual accumulation of matter brought from a distant region, to be there deposited.

The great current still continues onward to the East, and Southeast to the Azores. At the westernmost of that group of islands it is a hundred and sixty. leagues wide; and in latitude 33°, its southern edge is so near the northerly edge of the equinoctial current, running in the oppo site direction, that a vessel can pass from one to the other in a day's sail. From the Azores, the current tends rather in a southerly direction, towards the Straits of Gibraltar, the Madeiras, and the Canaries. It continues to set towards the African coast, between Capes Cantin and Bodajor. In latitude 25° 26' the current sets South ; is afterwards turned to the Southwest by the trending of the coast by Cape Blanc, and soon after is again mixed with the equinoctial current; and proceeds to run again the same course.

Thus, between the parallels of 11° and 44° N. latitude, the waters of the Atlantic move in a perpetual round, as regularly as a mill-sluice : the waste being supplied by a constant influx of water from the Indian seas round the Cape of Good Hope. If a bottle were thrown into the sea it would return to the same point, unless retarded by accidental causes, in little less than three years, having completed a circuit of 3800 leagues, at the rate of rather more than ten miles a day. Such a bottle, for instance, if sent adrift at the Canary Isles, would be floated to the coast of the Caraccas in thirteen months. Ten months more would take it round the Gulf of Mexico, and opposite the port of Havannah : and about forty or fifty days would then be sufficient to take it from the Gulf of Florida to the bank of Newfoundland : and perhaps ten or eleven months more would bring it to the coast of Africa.

This is more than mere theory. It is not possible to trace an object during the whole round.

But in the year 1770, a vessel loaded with corn, from the little island of Lancerotte to Sainte Croix, in Teneriffe, was driven to

sea with no one on board. The westerly current took it, and it was cast ashore on the American coast of Guayra, near the Caraccas.

There is still another branch of the Gulf Stream, very interesting, which causes a northeast current upon the coasts of Great Britain and Norway. The effect of this current, aided probably by the prevalent westerly winds, is found in the much more rapid passage of ships from America to England, than in the opposite direction. Besides this, plants which are natives of the West India Islands and the continent of 'America, have been cast ashore on the Hebrides, and northwestern coast of Scotland. The Tilbury was burnt some years since near Jamaica, and part of the wreck was carried by this current to the shores of Scotland.

[ocr errors]


[BY REV. JAMES FLINT.] Let the time, be a winter evening,—the scene be the country in the midst of a storm, when the falling columns of snow are rushing impetuously from the north, -when the careering winds, let loose from the polar regions, lowl mournfully abroad, and sigh through every listed door and chasm that will admit their breath ;-at a time like this, and in a scene so dreary and desolate and tumultuous without, let us look into the decent dwelling of the husbandman or mechanic whose circumstances are neither above nor below the golden mean of New England competence. However gloomy the storm may rage without, the fire blazes cheerfully within. Industry, with a prudent forethought, has collected and secured her various stores, and has not been sparing of her toils. There is enough and to spare laid up to gladden the hearts of the family group with a sense of plenty and warmth within, in contrast with the cold sterility and desolation, that reign without. Indeed, all the light and genial warmth and comfort within are doubly enhanced by contrast with the cheerless and dismal aspect of things abroad. The father, whose nerves are braced with honest industry and

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

424 Picture of a New England Family.
toil,- whose robust frame and clear eye bear unequivo-
cal marks of temperance and inward peace

can look
round, with a contented and glad heart, upon the smiling
circle, the wife of his youth, the mother of his children,
engaged in useful occupation or innocent pastime,-with
her children about her the while listening to the passing
news from abroad, to an instructive book, or to the tale
of other times, or to the narrative of the traveller, per-
haps, of things and sights most marvellous and passing
strange. He is sole monarch of this little blissful em-
pire. All his subjects love him and love each other.
Ambition has infused no storm into their tranquil bosoms.
False pride or shaine has never made them sigh for
costly pleasures. Il nature, scowling discontent, sour
moroseness, spoils not a single face in the whole group.
They heed not the riot and uproar of the storm abroad.
Al is harmonious and peaceful within. The memory of
years and events that are past, is recalled by the father,
and his bosom dilates with joy as he recounts, while the
countenances of his children brighten with the glow of
patriotic sympathy, as they listen to the history of the
times that tried men's souls, of the heroic sacrifices and
achievements of the asserters and defenders of our inde-
pendence, of the battles they fought, the privations they
endured, the virtues they displayed, that they might live
and die free and leave their children to call their lands and
their pleasant homes their own without a master. Behold
the scene! It is the sole-surviving trace of paradise on
earth, unspoiled by the perverted tastes and distempered
cravings of artificial life, or the costly inventions of pride
and luxury. And when, having duly invoked and thanked
the Author of all their mercies, they retire to rest, it is as
sweet, as tranquil and profound, as is the sleep of infants
empty of all thought.' Who will not say, ' peace be within
this house.' The secret of the Lord remain upon it;'
and may he 'give his angels charge' to watch over it. And
when its blameless and happy tenants are summoned
away from this asylum of their purest joys, affections and
virtues on earth, may it be a tearless and deathless
mansion in their Father's house in heaven.



[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »