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A survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 3) online

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more motion, cannot freeze so soon. But here, where
the motion of the water was so small, its surface was
froze as well as the bottom, though not so thick : where-
as the main river, where its motion was greater, was not
froze over, though cakes of ice were continually rising
from the bottom."

It has been commonly supposed, that fluids not only
dilate, but evaporate by cokl. And this has long passed
for an incontestable truth ; yet it is -altogether a mis-
take. From latter experiments it undeniably appears,
1. That cold does not increase, but lessen the-evsipots-
tion of water, if it be not exposed to the afri'ati*-;.. ed he
air: 2. That the evaporation of witter ( LT rinds 0*1 an
intestine motion, which it preserves- as ' jid,

,aud that the air only contributes th.rt t'ly

transporting the particles detached fromth"
thereby giving other particles rcora to disengage them*-


selves : 3. That frozen water does not evaporate at all,
if it be kept from the agitation of the air : 4. That the
diminution observed in ice exposed to the open air, is
not from any evaporation, but is the effect of a fine
rasping by the wind, rubbing against it and carrying off
its finer particles. And what is thus detached from, ice
is only a very fine dust, not more different from ice
than the durt of free-stone, cut from the stoue

This dust carried by the wind produces intense cold.
Nor is it always invisible. The air near Hudson's Bay
is often filled with particles of ice, fine as hairs, and
sharp as needles ; which, if they strike against the bauds
or face, pierce the skin and occasion painful blisters.

The natural state of this globe seems to be in an in-
termediate degree between heat and cold. And this
natural warmth of the earth is what secures many springs
from being frozen : the frost in England seldom pene-
trating tiie earth, more than fourteen inches below the
surface. Even in Sweden bubbling springs do not freeze
at all, while the standing waters freeze three ells deep*

In the lakes of Sweden the ice often cracks, with a
rupture nine or ten feet deep, and many leagues long,
and with a noise like cannon. Hereby the fishes get air,
so that few of them are destroyed. In Moscow the
earth is often cleft by the frost, a foot broad and many
yards long. In the mountains of Switzerland there are
vast masses of ice, which have lain there for many cen-
turies. At certain times these crack, and by those
cracks one may guess at the immense thickness of them ;
some of the cracks being three or four hundred ells
deep, though none of them have ever gone through the
whole thickness of the Ice.

We need not then be surprised at the effects of severe
frost on trees and other vegetables. How these are
hurt in hard winters is easily understood, if we consider
that water, when frozen, takes up more space than it did
before: that all trees, especially those that shed their
leaves, drink in a large quantity of moisture in summer,.

and that the vessels of small twigs are larger in pro-
portion than those of the trunk, and consequently con-
tain more moisture. It follows, that being surprised by
a hard winter, before their juices are diminished, or
changed into a glutinous nature, which does not so easily
freeze the vessels of the tree must necessarily burst.
Consequently their juice must be extravasuted, and so
cans^, as in animals, the death of the tree, by a kind of
bleeding, which nothing can stop.

In the great frost in l6S3, oaks, ashes, and walnut-
trees, were cleft in two, and frequently with a terrible
noise, and not only their bodies, but their branches and
roots also. In 1708, the frost was almost through all
Europe, except Scotland and Ireland. All the orange-
trees and olives in Italy, Provence, and many other
countries, perished, and all the walnut-trees in France,
with an infinity of other trees. In England most of the
bay-trees, hollies, rosemary, and even furze, perished. >
The sap also of wail-trees stagnated in the branches,
and produced disorders resembling cliill-blains. . And
the very buds of the finer trees were quite killed, and
turned into a kind of mealy substance.

In 1728, toward the end of November, the wind
blew exceeding cold, followed by so heavy a snow, as
in one night broke off large arms of many ever-green
trees. At this time, also, there was a great number of
large trees d is barked. Two West -India Plane-trees, ia
particular, in the physic-garden at Chelsea, which were
wear forty feet high, and a fathom in circumference,
were disbarked almost from the bottom to the top, on
the west-side of the trees. And it was observable, that
whatever trees were disbarked, it was on the west or
south-west side.

On the fourteenth of December, 175.9, there was at
Petersburg the most excessive cold weather that ever
was known, even to 205 degrees of De Lisle's ther-
mometer. At that time Professor Braun repeated Fah-
renheit's experiments, in order to produce excessive cold

by means of spirit of nitre combine d with snow, lie
saw, with surprize, the quicksilver in the other thermo-
rneter descend even to 4/0 degrees : there the quick-
silver remained fixed in the open air, for the space of n
quarter ot an hour, and did not hegin to rise, till it
carried into a warm room. He repeated the same
experiment, first with the sair.e, and then with another
tl'ermometer, with the same success. But as Mr,
Braim had not broken, the glasses, he could only at that
time form a conjecture, On the I 7th he produced
again coid equal to that of the 14th, and communicated
his discovery at a meeting of the Academy. On th.e
55th of December in the morning, between nine and
tea, De Lisie's thermometer was at the H/9th degree
of cold, and Mr. Braun, as well as Professor ^Epiiius,
repeated this experiment. As soon as the former ob-
served the quicksilver immovcable in the thermometer
he broke the glass, and found the quicksilver frozen,
but not entirely : "Mr. JLpinus 1 thermometer fell \vith
extreme rapidity, almost to the 500th degree, and in
breaking the glass from below, ke found the quick-
silver contained in it absolutely frozen. m Both the
gentlemen found that the quicksilver, thus rendered
solid, bore hammering and extension, like other metals 7
but being exposed to the open air, it recovered it*
former fluidity in a little time.

Mr. ^Epinus went farther to examine the quicksilver
when it was made solid. He poured quicksilver into a
glass tube, as thick as one's finger, closed at the bottom,
but open at top.

The quicksilver in this cylinder, winch was about one
inch and a half long, froze in three quarters of amiuute,
and became solid, perfectly resembling other metals.
Mean time it continually contracted ; its surface, which
\vas at first pretty high t sunk very low, and the cylinder
of frozen quicksilver sunk to the bottom of the fluid
quicksilver. We know the contrary happens to water
frozen, and other fluids, which extend as tlfey become
solid, and their ice swims in the fluid matter, of whicii
they were produced.


The bodies of Ice In the northern seas, near Hu.LoiV's
Bay, are surprising: some of (hem are iaimejsed u
Hundred fathoms or more, under the surface of the
ocean. They stand a iifth or sixth part above, and are
three or four miles in circumference. These floating
mountains owe their durable nature to a cause not
usually observed : that is, to their not beiiig common
ice, but the ice of sea-water. If a phial of sea-water
be exposed to the air IP frosty weather, till flakes of
ke are formed therein, and then set in a warm room,
still the flukes will remain a long time undissolved, ami
if they are taken out, and exposed at a small distance
to the fire, they will not run into water, as common ice
does, but will by degrees evaporate, leaving only a little
white salt. It is easy then to conceive, that the immense
masses of this ice found in the Northern Seas, will cou
timie ur.dissolved throughout the year, and at the re-
turn of the freezing- season, grow larger and larger every
year, by the freezing of more ice about them,

On the contrary, there are some waters which will
not freeze at all. The Lake Ness, in Scotland, never
freezes, be the winter ever so severe. Yea, while every
thing round is frozen, its water runs smoaking for six
miles down the river into which they are discharged ;
and from this smoak there rises a sort of fog, which
overspreads the country, for several miles. Near the
lake is a mountain, on the summit of which there is
another lake, which is always full, summer and wiutef*
Due west from the river there is another lake, two
miles long and six broad. r Phe middle of this is some-
times dry, and then plainly appears to have been
once an inhabited country. There are many tumuli
to be seen under water, one of which is accessible
at low water. Au ! in this urns iiave been found,,
which leave 110 room to doubt of their having been
burial places.

There ace likewise in Scotland other lakes, which
freeze only at peculiar seasons. A little lake in Strath*-


rick never freezes over, be the frost ever so sharp, (ill
February. But after the first part of this month, a.
slight frost will freeze it over in a night's tjme. There
are also two other remarkable lakes in the same country.
The one Loch Monan, which is considerably large, ob-
serves the same rule, freezing over in February, with a
slight frost, but never before, be the season ever so
rigorous. The other in Sti aglash has a contrary quality.
It lies between two high hills, and is itself considerably
above the level of the rest of the country. This freezes
continually, having ice in the middle, even in the hottest
summer month*, while the sun, by reflection from the
hills on each side, gives a very considerable heat. There
are many other lakes in the neighbouring country which
yet have no such property: so that this, and the pro-
perty of the two other lakes, must be owing to some
peculiar cause. The herbage about the sides of the last
lake mentioned, has a kiwi of perpetual spring, which
continues throughout the whole year, and is much
esteemed by the country peopie, for feeding cattle in
one month, more than the best land in the country s will
do in, two. The lake is very deep, and the water does
not manifest any particular quality.

9. Rain and snow, which rise in vapours, both from
the earth and waters, descending on hills, sink through
tlie earth, till they meet with a bed of clay or stone,
Tiiis retains the water and gathers it together, in a
4arger or smaller bason, till running over the edge, it
makes itself a way, and rises in a fountain. Hence
issues a rivulet, many of which joining together, con-
stitute a river, which continues its course, till it empties
itself into the grand receptacle of water, the sea.

But it has been asked, " Is tjiere a sufficient quantity
of vapours raised, in the ordinary course of nature, to
supply the demand of fountains and rivers'?" We
answer, there is abundantly sufficient, from the surface
of the sea alone, leaving the earth out of the account.
For it has been shewn by clear experiments, 1. That
water salted to ab<; Taie s&uic degree as sea-water, and

exposed to heat equal to that of a summer's day, did
from a circular surface, eight inchhes in diameter, eva-
porate six ounces in 24 hours. If so, the thickness of
<i skin of water, evaporated in two hours, is the 53d
part of an inch. But were it only a ftOth, it would ex-
hale the tenth of an inch in two hours. And on this
principle every ten square inches of the surface of
water, yield in vapour a square inch of water daily:
each square foot half a pint : every space of four
feet square, a gallon: a mile square 6$14 tons: a
quantity abundantly sufficient to furnish, both dews,
rains, springs, and rivers. So that we need not have
recourse for supplies to the great abyss, whose surface,
at high water, is surmounted several hundred feet, even
by ordinary hills : and some thousands, by those vast
mountains, from whence the largest rivers take their

Nevertheless we may allow a different rise to those
springs, which ebb and flow with the sea : as likewise to
those lakes whose water is salt, and which have sea-tish
in them,- although they have no communication with
any sea, by any visible passage.

To explain this a little more at large. It is evident
from experience, that a vapour is perpetcmlly rising
from the sea, rivers, and lakes. The winds carry this
vapour through the atmosphere, in the form of a cloud
or mist. When it meets with a colder air, or is stopt
by mountains, it condenses, and falls to the earth. As
it falls, it finds several chinks and crannies, through
which it insinuates into the mountains, and lodges there,
till increasing its store, it bursts out and takes the name
of a fountain.

That this is really the case, will easily be allowed, by
all who seriously consider, 1. That the vapours' rising
from the sea, are more than sufficient to supply both the
surface of the earth, and the rivers with water. 2. That
the mountains, by their particular structure, arrest the
vapours that float in the atmosphere, and having col-
lected them in their reservoirs, dismiss them again



through their sides, either in perpetual or intermitting

With regard to the first, it has been shewn, that every
ten square inches of the surface of the sea, yields a N
square inch of water daily; every square mile 6^14
tons: and pursuing the same proportion, every square
degree (or sixty.nine English miles,) will yield 33
millions of tons. Now if we suppose the Mediter-
ranean tofhe 40 degrees long, and 4 broad, at a medium,
(which is the least we can suppose) its surface will be
IfjO square degrees : from whence there will in summer
evaporate daily 5280 millions of tons.

The Mediterranean receives water, (to say nothing of
small and inconsiderable streams) from eight large
rivers, the Tberus, the Rhine, the Po, the Danube, the
Neister, the Borysthenes, the Tanais, and the Nile. Now
suppose each of these conveys ten times as much water to
the sea as the Thames. The Thames has been shewn to
pour daily into the sea 203 millions of tons. Therefore
all those rivers will produce 1827 millions of tons. But
this is little more than one third of the quantity daily
evaporated from the sea. How prodigious a quantity
then remains for rains and all other purposes!

Let us observe, secondly, how the mountains arrest,
and collect these vapours, and then discharge them in

The tops of mountains in general abound with ine-
qualities, cavities, grottos, and gaping cells. The floating
vapours are stopt by these and by their pointed summits, '
and being condensed thereby, precipitate in water, easily
penetrate through sand and lighter earth, and gather in
basons of clay or stone, till they overflow and work a
passage through the side of the mountain.

And yet we need not deny, that some springs may
arise from the sea, or the gr r eat abyss : those in par-
ticular, which at all times afford the same quantity of
water. Some of these are found in almost every
country. There is one near Upminster, in Essex; which
in the greatest droughts, and when all the brooks are

dried up, is little, if at all diminished. And in the
wettest seasons it is not increased, unless violent rain
falling into it, or running into it from the higher grounds,
raise it for a day, or a few hours,

As to the manner how the water rises in such springs
it may easily be represented, by putting a small heap of
sand in a bason, and then pouring in water. Here the
sand will represent the dry land, and the water the sea
round about it. And as the water in the bason rises to
or near the top of the heap, just so do the waters of
the sea rise, to the top f the land with which it com-

10. Some think the earth entirely covered the sen,
till at the deluge the fountains of the great deep were
broken up. And it is highly probable there is still an
abyss of water within the earth, which has an uninter-
rupted communication with some part of the outward

The iinmediite cause of the deluge, was probably
that comet, which (as Mr. Whiston shews) passed toward
the sim, just before the earth, on the first day of the
deluge. The consequence of this must be, that whetV
it came below the moon, it would nwse a vast and
strong tide, both in the waters that were on the antedi-
luvian earth, and also in the great abyss, which" was
under the crust of the earth. This tide must increase
Till the time that the comet jwas approaching toward the
earth; and would be at its greatest height, when the
cornet was at the least distance from" it. By the force
of this internal tide, as well as by the attraction of the
comet, tke abyss which was nearly round before, would
then become oblong. And this must immediately ex-
tend, and then burst the incumbent crust. And thus,
according to the expression of Moses, the fountains of
the great deep tvere broken up.

Again. As the same comet for a considerable time
involved the earth in its atmosphere, it must have lost a
vast quantity of its vapours, most of which would fall
on the earth in violent rain. And thusl#/ii dows of


heaven were opened. To remove this vast orb of water
lie supposes a mighty wind to have risen, which dried
up some, and forced the rest into the abyss again,
through the clefts by which it came up. Only part of
it stayed in the channel of the ocean, now first made to
receive it, and in the lesser cavities, placed up and down
on the surface of the globe.

The present distribution of the waters and the dry
land, though it may seem rude and undesigned to a care-
less view, yet is admirably well adjusted to the use and
conveniencies of our world. In the first place, they are
so distributed all the world over, that there is a just
equipoise of the whole globe. The Northern balances
the Southern Ocean ; the Atlantic, the Pacific sea.
The American dry land is a counterpoise to the
European, Asiatic, and African. In the next place, the
waters are so admirably well placed aliput the globe, as
to afford sufficient vapours for clouds and rain, to temper
the coM of the northern and southern air, to mitigate
the heats of I he torrid zone, and to supply fresh waters
to fountains and rivers. Nay, so abundant is this great
blessing, that we have more than a bare sufficiency, even
a surplusage of this useful creature: and yet so well
ordered, as not to drown the earth, not to stagnate,
putifry, or annoy its inhabitants; but to glide gently
through convenient channels back again to its grand
fountain, the sea : and many of the rivers through such
large tracts of land, and to such prodigious distances,
that it is a wonder the fountain should be high enough,,
or the sea low enough for so long a conveyance. Wit-
ness the Danube and Wolga in Europe, the Nile and
Niger in Africa, the Ganges and Euphrates in Asia, with
the Amazon's river, and Rio de la Plata, in America.
No accidental currents or alterations of the waters them-
selves, no art or power of man, nothing less than the.
power of the Almighty, could ever have made or found
so long and commodious declivities and channels, for
the passage of those waters.

11. The largest rivers of Asia, are, the Hoanho, in


China, which is eight hundred and fifty leagues in
length : the Jenisca of Tartary, about eight hundred
leagues in length, from the lake Selinga to the Icy sea ;
the Oby in Siberia, of near eight hundred leagues,
running "from the lake of Kila into the Northern sea;
the Amour, in Eastern Tartary, whose course is about
five hundred and seventy-five leagues, from its source
to its entrance into the sea of Kamtkatska: the Kiam,
in China, five hundred and fifty leagues in length. The
Ganges, one of the most noted rivers in the world, is
about as long as the former: it is visited annually by se-
veral hundred thousand pilgrims, who pay their devotions
to the river as to a god ; for savage simplicity is always
known to mistake the blessings of the Deity for the Deity
himself. Next to this may be reckoned the celebrated
river Euphrates : this rises from two sources northward
of the city of Erzerum, in Turcomania, and unites about
three days journey below the same ; from whence, after
performing a course of five hundred leagues, it falls into
the gulf of Persia, The river Indus is extended, from
its source to its discharge into the Arabian sea, four
hundred leagues.

The largest rivers of Africa, are, the Senegal, which
runs a course of eleven hundred leagues; and the cele-
brated river Nile, said to be nine hundred and seventy
leagues from its source, in Upper Ethiopia, to its opening
into the Mediterranean sea.

This river, which the natives call Abava, that is, the
Father of Rivers, vises first in Sacala, a province of the
kingdom of Goiama, the most fruitful in all Abyssinia.
In the eastern part of this province, on the declivity of
a mountain, are two springs, each about two feet
diameter, a stone's cast distant from each other, which
are the real source of this celebrated river. Its waters,
after the first rise, run east about a musket-shot; then
turning to the north, continue hid in the grass and
weeds, for about a quarter of a league, and discover
themselves for the first time arnoog some rocks, a
C 3


pleasing sight to those who have read the fabulous ac-
counts of the ancients. It flows thence with a very
small stream, but soon receives such aa increase from
various rivulets, that not above three days journey from
its source, it is near a mile broad. After running nine or
ten leagues farther, it enters the Lake of Daiubia. It
crosses this at one end, with such rapidity, that the wa-
ters of the Nile may be distinguished through the whole
passage, which is six leagues. Fifteen miles farther it
rushes from the top of a high rock, and forms one of
die most beautiful cascades in the world. The fail of
this mighty stream from so vast a height, makes a consi-
derable noise. Yet the neighbouring inhabitants are not
.deaf, but hear just as well as others. After this cata-
ract, the Nile again collects its scattered stream, and
jfiows on through various nations. Hence we may learn,
that it is impossible to arrive at the source of the Nile,
"by tracing its channel from the mouth, there being so
many cataracts in the way, which no vessel can pass.

In Abyssinia, from June to September, there is no day
without rain. Now the Nile receives in its course all
the brooks, rivers, and torrents, which flow from the
Abyssinian mountains. These necessarily swell it above
the banks, a?id fill the plain of Egypt with the inun-
dation. This comes regularly in the month of July,
that is, three weeks after the beginning of the raias in

The water of the Nile is so delicious, that the Turks
excite themselves to drink of it by eating salt. When
the Egyptians leave their country, they speak of no-
thing but the pleasure they shall find at their return, in
drinking the Nile water. All those who have tasted of
it, allow, that they never met wilh the like in any other
place. In truth when one drinks of it the first time, it
seems (says Maserier)to be some water prepared by art.
It has something in it inexpressibly agreeable and plea-
sins to the taste. But to some, it appears to have too
much sweetness. It is likewise salutary in the highest
degree. Drink it in what quantities you \vill| and it
never incommodes yoy,


It seems peculiar to the water of the Thames, that
in eight months time it acquires a spirituous quality, so
as to bum like spirits* of wine. Even when it stinks, it
is not unwholesome : men who were obliged to hold
their noses, yet drank of it all the way to the East-Indies,
and found no inconvenience. If you take out the bung
from any cask that stinks, and let the air come in, it will
be sweet in twenty-four hours. If you take a broom-
stick, and stir it well, it will be sweet in four or five
hours. It casts a black lee to the bottom, which remix-
ing with it, causes a third or fourth fermentation, after
which it stinks no more. But though Thames water
does not putrify when it stinks, most other water does,
and is at that time very dangerous to drink.

The cataracts of the Nile are probably less remark-
able than that of Niagara, in Canada. The fall of this is
about six leagues from Fort Niagara. The whole
course of the river, for two leagues and a half below the
great fall, is a series of smaller falis^ one under another.

Online LibraryJohn WesleyA survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 3 of 24)