John Wesley.

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

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nutes after the ebb : so that in the whole, it ebbs and
flows about sixteen times in an hour.

14. Currents in the sea are either natural and gene-
ral, arising from the daily rotation of the earth on its
axis, or particular, or accidentally caused by the waters
being driven against promontories, or into gulphs and
straits, where wanting room to spread, they are driven
back, and so disturb the ordinary flux of the sea.

The currents are so violent near the line, where the
motion of the earth is the greatest, that they carry ves-
sels swiftly from Africa to America, but prevent tkeir
returning the same way. So that they run as far as the
fortieth degree, to find a passage into Europe.

In the straits of Gibraltar, which are about twenty
miles broad, the current almost always runs eastward*
And so it usually does in St. George's Channel. But
the. most violent sea is in the straits of Magellon, which
is owing to two contrary currents, which meet HI those
straits.

Sometimes there is an under-current, contrary to that s
above. So it is in the Baltic sound. One of the king's
frigates being there, they went with their pinnace in the
mid-stream, and were carried violently by the current.
Soon after they sunk a basket with a large cannon-bul-
let to a certain depth of water. This checked the moti-
on of the boat. And when they sunk it lower the boat
was driven a head against the wind as well as the upper
current. And the lower the basket was let down, the



46

stronger the current was found. The upper current ap-
peared by this experiment, not above four or five fa-
thom deep.

And does not the following instance shew that there is
an under current at the mouth of the Mediterranean
sea 1 la the year 1?12, Mous. i'Aigle, commander of a
privateer, chasing a Dutch ship near Ceuta Point, came
up with her in the straits between Tariffa and Tangier,
and giving her one broad side sunk her. A few days af-
ter this ship with her cargo of brandy and oil arose near
Tangier, four leagues west of that place, where she sunk,
and directly against the strength of the current. Cer-
tainly then the deep water in the middle of the straits,
sets outward to the grand ocean. And possibly j^reat
part of the water, which runs in at the straits, may run
out again that way.

One of the most violent currents in the northern seas,
runs between two of the western isles. The sea begins
to boil with the tide of flood, and increases gradually
till there are many whirlpools, which form themselves
into a sort of pyramids, and immediately spout as high
as the mast of a little vessel. At the same time they
make a loud report These white waves run two
leagues before they break. The sea continues these mo-
tions, till it is more than half flood, and then decreases
gradually, till it has ebbed half an hour. From that
time it boils again, till it is within an hour of low-water.
This boiling of the sea is about a pistol-shot distant
from the isle of Scarba. But the smallest boat may
safely cross the gulpb, at the last hour of the flood or
or of the ebb.

In like manner, the collision of the opposite and ob-
lique streams, near the end of the Orkney inlands, ex-
cites a circular motion in the water, and when the swift-
ness of the tide is considerable, occasions whirlpools or
cavities in the sea, in the form of an inverted bell, wide
at the mouth, and growing gradually narrower towards
the bottom. Their width and depth are in proportion to
the rapidity of the streams that cause them. Thx>se in
Peutland Firth, near the islands Storma and Swona,



47

will, with a spring-tide, turn any vessel quite round,
There have been instances of bouts being swallowed np
in them. The cavity is largest when it is first formed,
and is carried along with the stream, diminishing gradu-
ally as it goes, until it quite disappears. The suction
communicated to the water, does not extend further than
the cavity. When fishermen are aware of their ap-
proach to one of these wells, as they call them, and
have time to throw an ore or any other bulky body
into if, before they are too near, the spiral motion
is interrupted, and the continuity of the water broke;
which rushing in on all sides, fills up the cavity, end en-
ables them to go over it safe.

The Maelstroom, is a whirlpool on the coast of Nor-
way, and received this name from the natives, which sig-
nifies the naval of the sea; since they supposed a great
share of the water of the sea is sucked up and dis-
charged by its vortex. A description of the internal
parts is not to be expected, since none ever returned
thence to bring information. The body of waters that
form this whirlpool are extended in a circle about thir-
teen miles in, circumference. In the midst of this stands
a rock, against which the tide in its ebb is dashed with
inconceivable fury. At this time it instantly swallows
up all things that come within the sphere of its violence,
trees, 4imber, and shipping. No skill in the mariners,
nor strength in rowing, can work an escape : the sailor
at the helm finds the ship first go in a current opposite
to his intentions ; his vessel's motion, though slow in the
beginning, becomes every moment more rapid ; and it
goes round in circles still narrower and narrower, till at
last it is dashed against the rocks, and instantly disap-
pears : nor is it seen again for six hours; till the tide
turning, it is vomitted forth with the same violence with
which it was drawn in. The noise of this vortex in-
creases its terror, which, with the dashing of the wa-
ters, and the dreadful valley covered by their circu-
lation, makes one of the most tremendous objects in
nature.



48

May I be permitted to mention here, a cheap and easy
way of making sea-wafer fresh : " 1 took," says a gentle-
man, " a long glass body, and having filled *it with sea
water, put therein sea-weed with its roots fresh and new
gathered. Then I put on a head and a beak, and
adapted a receiver thereto, without any lute, or closing
the joints. From the plants, distilled daily a small
quantity of very sweet and potable water. And pro-
bably there may be found other plants near the sea,
which would yield fresh water in large quantities."

Sea water, simply distilled, affords a water as pure and
wholesome, as that obtained from the best springs. '

From the improvements made by Dr. Hales, it ap-
pears that three quarts of water might be procured iii
five minutes, that is fifty gallons in twelve hours, from a
small cylindrical still of Mr. Durand's, by setting some
pewter plates edge-ways in its head. And a still thirty-
two inches diameter, would give two hundred gallons in
twelve hours, with only the expense of a bushel and
half of coals.

When sea water is boiled in a close covered vessel.
the steam is converted into fresh water on the inside of
the cover. And from a pot of thirteen inches diameter,
by frequently removing the cover, and pouring off the
water collected upon it, a quarter of a pint of fresh
fresh water is procured in an hour.

Perhaps a yet better way of making sea water fresh,
is the following. Take bees wax, and mould it into the
form of an empty hollow vessel ; sink the vessel into
the sea. The water, in some will work its way through
the pores of the wax, and the quantity contained in the
vessel will be fresh, and good for use. The same \vill
happen by using a round earthen vessel, and stopping the
aperture: for the water that penetrates is percolated
and pure.

But fresh-water may be had in much greater plenty,
and more expeditiously, by filling a vessel with river-
sasd or gravel, and pouring salt-water upon it. The
vessel must be perforated at bottom, and by applying a



49

linen strainer, the water, after under-going a few filtrati-
cms, will lose all its brackish taste.

In order to keep fresh water sweet, take of fine clear
white pearl ashes, a quarter of a pound, of avoirdupoize
weight, and put into one hundred gallons of fresh water
(observing thk> proportion to a greater or lesser quanti-
ty) and stop up your cask as usual till you have occasion
to broach it for use. As an instance of its- utility and
success, Dr. Butler put an ounce of pearl ashes into a
twenty-five gallon cask of Thames water, which he stopt
up very close, and let it stand for upwards of a year and
a half, opening it once in four months, and constantly
found it in the same unaltered condition and perfectly
sweet and good : afterwards he made use of some of
it in boiling pease and burgoo, and found that it made
the pease as soft, and answered for all purposes to
which he applied it, as well as water fresh drawn out of
the river.

To this short sketch of what is observable in the ter-
raqueous globe,! subjoin some of the beautiful reflecti-
ons of Mr, Hervey.

" What an admirable specimen have we here, of the
Divine skill and goodness \ This globe is intended, not-
only for a habitation, but for a storehouse of conveni-
ences. And if we examine the several apartments of
our great abode, we shall find reason to be charmed
with the Displays both of nice economy and boundless
profusion.

" The surface of it, the ground, coarse as itrnayseem,
is yet the laboratory where the most exquisite operati-
ons are performed. And though a multitude of gene-
rations have been accommodated by it, it still continues
inexhaustible.

" The unevenness of the ground, far from being a de-
fect heightens its beauty and augments its usefulness.
Here it is scooped into deep and sheltered vales, almost



50

constantly covered with verdure, which yields an easy
couch and agreeable food to the various tribes of cattle.
There it extends into a wide open country, which annu-
ally bears a copious harvest : a harvest, not only of the
principal wheat, which is the staff of our life, but of the
appointed barley and various other grain which are food
for our animals.

" The furrows vary their produce. They bring forth
flnx and hemp, which help us to some of the most ne-
cessary accommodations of life. These are wove into
ample volumes of cloth, which, fixed to the mast, give
wings to our ships. It is twisted into vast lengths of
cordage, which give nerves to the crane, and sinews to
the puily, or else adhering to the anchor, secure the ves-
sel even amidst the driving tempest. It covers our tables
with a graceful elegance, and surrounds our bodies with
a cherishing warmth.

" Yonder arise the hills, like a grand amphitheatre !
Some are clad with mantling vines, some crowned with
towering cedars, some ragged with mis-shapen rocks, or
yawning with subterraneous caves. And even those in-
accessible crags, those gloomy cavities are not only
a refuge for wild goats, but sometimes for Mose of whom
the world is not worthy.

" At a greater distance the mountains penetrate the
cloud*, with their aspiring brows. . Their sides arrest
and condense the vapours as they float along. Their ca-
verned bowels collect the dripping treasures, and send
them gradually abroad by trickling springs : and hence
the waters increasing roll down till they have swept
through the most extensive climes, and regained their
native seas.

(l The vine requires a strong reflection of the sun-
beams, and a large proportion of warmth. How commo-
diouslydo the hills and mountains minister to this pur-
pose! May we not call those vast declivites, the garden-walls

4



51

of nature? These con-centre the solar fire, and com-
pletely ripen the grape! O lhat any should turn so
valuable a gift of God into an instrument of sin !

<( What is nature but a series of wonders? That such
a variety of fruits should rise from the insipid, sordid
earth ? I take a walk through my garden or orchard in
December. There stand several logs of wood on the
ground. They have neither sense nor motion ; yet in a
little time they are beautified with blossoms, they are co-
vered with leaves, and at last loaded with fruit. I have
wondered at the account of those prodigious engines, in-
vented by Archimedes. But what are all the inventions
of men, to those nice automata of nature ?

" The forest rears myriads of massy bodies, which
though neither gay with blossoms, nor rich with fruit,
supply us with timber of various kinds. But who shall
cultivate them ? The toil were endless. See therefore
the ever wise and gracious ordination of providence !
They have no need of the spade or the pruning-knife.
They want no help from man.

" When sawed into beams they sustain the roofs of our
houses. They make carriages to convey our heaviest
loads. Their substance is so pliant, that they are
easily formed into every kind of furniture : yet their
texture so solid, that they compose the most important
parts of the largest engines. At the same time, their '
pressure is so light, that they float upon the waters.
Thus while they serve all the ends of architecture, and
bestow numberless conveniences on the family, they con-
stitute the very basis of navigation, and give being to
commerce.

If we descend from the ground floor of our habitation
into the subterraneous lodgments, we shall find there
also the most exquisite contrivance, acting in concert
with the most profuse goodness. Here are various

VOL. in. D



minerals of sovereign efficacy : beds
of richest value : and mines, whici. , i a

meaner aspect, but superior usefuliA.* . itbout the
assistance of iron, what wot. In become - ihc-

chanic skill ? Without Ibis we could scarce either i'sx
the inast, or drop the faithful anchor. Ve she; :d
scarce have any ornament for polite, or utensil for
common life.

" Here is an inexhaustible fund of combustible ma-
terials. These mollify the most stubborn bars. They
melt even the jnost stubborn 'flint, and make it more
ductile than the softest clay. By this means we are
furnished with the most curious and serviceable rnaiia-
facture in the world ; which admits into our houses the
cheating light, yet excludes the wind and rain : which
gives new eyes to decrepit age, and more enlarged view
to philosophy ; bringing near what is immensely remote
and making visible what is immensely small.

" Here are quarries stocked with stones, which do no
- sparkle like ems, but are more eminently useful. Thes
form houses for peace, and fortifications for war. Thes
constitute the arches of the bridge, the arms of the mol
or quay, which screen our ships from the most tern
pestuous seas. These are comparatively soft in th
bowels of the earth, but harden when in the open ait
Was this remarkable peculiarity reversed, what difficu
ties would attend the labours of the mason ? His ma
terials could not be extracted from ! L : eir bed, nor fashior
ed Without infinite toil. And wen- \\\-i work compleatec
it could not Ibng withstand the fury of the elements.

" Here are various assortments and beds of clay, whic
however contemptible in its appearance, is abundant]
more beneficial than the rocks of diamond or veins o
gold : this is moulded into vessels of any shape anc
.size : some so delicately fine, as to suit the table of
princess; others so remarkably cheap, that they ministe



53

to the convenience of the poorest peasant : all so per-
fectly neat, as to give no disgust even to the nicest
palate.

" A multiplicity of other valuable stores is locked up
in these ample vaults. But the key of all is given to
industry, in order to produce eacji as necessity demands.

" Which shall we most admire, the bounty or wisdom
of our great Creator ? How admirable is I is precaution
in removing these cumbrous ware* from the surface, ant!
bestowing them under the ground in proper repositories I
Were they scattered over the surface of the soil, it would
xbe embarrassed with the enormous load. Our roads
would be blocked up, and scarce any room- left for the
operations of husbandry. Were they, on the other hand,
buried at a great depth, it would cost us immense pains
to procure them. Were they uniformly spread into a
pavement for nature, universal barrenness must ensue ;
whereas at present we have a magazine of metallic, with-
out lessening our vegetable treasures. Fossils of every
kind enrich the bowels, verdure adorns the face of the
earth.

," Well then may even the inhabitants of heaven lift up
their voice and sing, Great and marvellous are thy works,
O Lord God Almighty ! And is there not infinite reason
for us *o join this triumphant choir? Since all these
things are to us, not only a noble spectacle, bright with
the display of ur Creator's wisdom, but likewise an in-
estimable gift, rich with the emanations of his goodness 1
The earth hath he set before the inhabitants of his glory :
but he hath given it to the children of men. Has he not
then an undoubted right to make that tender demand*
s My son give me thine heart /'

"The rocks which bound the sea, are here prodigiously
high and strong, an everlasting barrier against both winds
and waves. Not that the Omnipotent engineer has any
need o/ these here, It is true, they intervene, and not

D 2



only repress the rolling bilious, but speak (lie amazing
majesty of the Maker. But in other places the Creator
'shews he is confined to no expedient. He bids a bank
of despicable sand repel the most furious shocks of as-
sauliing seas. And though the waves toss themselves,
they cannot prevail : though they roar, yet they cannot
pass over.

" Nay, is it not remarkable, that sand is a more effectual
barrier against the sea than rock ? Accordingly the sea
is continually gaining upon a rocky shore : but it is con-
tinually losing on a sandy shore, unless where it sets in
with an eddie. Thus it has been gaining, from age to
age, upon the isle of Portland and the Land's-Ehd in
Cornwall, undermining, throwing down, and swallowing
up one huge rock after another. Mean time the sandy
shores both on our southern and western coast?, gain
continually upon the sea.

"Beneath the rocks frequently lies a smooth, level sand,
almost as firm as a well-compacted causeway ; insomuch
that the tread of a horse scarce impresses it, and the
waters never penetrate it. Without this wise contri-
vance the searching waves would insinuate into the heart
of the earth; and the earth itelf would in some places
be hollow as a honeycomb, in other bibulous as a sponge.
But this closely cemented pavement is like claying the
bottom of the universal canal ; so that the returning
tides only consolidate its substance, and prevent the sun
from cleaving it with chinks.

" Here the main rolls its surges from world to world.
What a spectacle of magnificence and terror ! How it
fills the mind and amazes the imagination ! It is the
most august object under the whole Heaven. What are
all the canals on earth, to this immense reservatory 1
What are the proudest palaces on earth, to yonder con-
cave of the skies ? W hat the most pompous illumina-
tions, to this source of day ? They -are a spark, an
atom, a drop. Nay in every spark and atom and drop,



55

that proceeds from the hand of the Almighty, there is
the manifestation of a wisdom and a power absolutely
incomprehensible.

" Let us examine a 'single drop of water, only so much
as will adhere to the point of a needle. In this speck
an eminent philosopher computes no less than thirteen
thousand globules. And if so many thousands exists in
so small a speck, how many in the unmeasured extent of
the ocean ? Who can count them 1 As well may we grasp
the wind in our fist, or mete out the universe with our
span.

" Nor are these regions without their proper inhabitants,
clothed in exact conformity to the clime : not in swel-
ling wool, or buoyant feathers, but with as much com-
pactness and as little superfluity as possible. They are
clad, or rather sheathed in scales, which adhere close,
and are laid in a kind of natural oil : than which appa-
rel nothing can be more light ; and at the same time
nothing more solid. It hinders the fluid from penetra-
ting their flesh : it prevents the cold from chilling their
blood; and enables them tb make their way through
the waters, with the utmost facility. And they have
each an air-bladder, a curious instrument, by which they
rise to what height, or sink to what depth they please.

" It is impossible to enumerate the scaly herds. Here
are animals of monstrous shapes, and amazing qualities.
The upper jaw of the sword-fish is lengthened into a
strong and sharp sword, with which (though not above
sixteen feet long) he scruples not to engage the whale
himself. The sun-fish is one round mass of flesh ; only
it has two fins, which act the part of oars. The poly-
pus, with its numerous feet and claws, seems fitted only
to crawl. Yet an excrescence rising on the back enables
it to steer a steady course in the waves. The shell of
the nautilus forms a kind of boat, and he unfurls a mem-
brane to the wind for a sail. lie extends also two arms,
with which, as with oars, he rows himself along. When
*> 3



56

he is disposed to dive, he strikes sail, and at ftnce sinks
to the bottom. When the weather is calm he mounts
again, and performs his voyage without either chart or
compass.

" Here ate shoals upon shoals of every sjze and form.
Some lodged in their shells, stem to have no higher em-
ploy, than imbioing nutriment, and are almost rooted to
the rocks on which they lie: while others shoot along
the v elding flood, and range the spacious regions of the
deep. How various is their figure! The shells of some
seem to be the rude production of chance, rather than
of skill or design. Yet even in these we find the nicest
dispositions. Uncouth as they are, they are exactly
suited to the exigencies of their respective tenants.
Some on the other hand are extremely neat. Their
structure is all symmetry and elegance. No enamel is
comparable to their polish. Not a room in all the pa-
laces of Europe is so adorned as the bedchamber of the
little fish that dwells iu mother of pearl. Where else is
such a mixture ot red, blue, and green, so delightfully
staining the most clear and glistering ground ?

" But what I admire more than all their beauty, is the
provision made for their safety. As they have no speed
to escape, so they have no dexterity to elude their foe.
So that were they naked, they must he an easy prey to
every free-hooter. To prevent this, what, is only clo-
thing to other animals, is to them a clothing, a house,
and a castle, They have a fortification which, grows
with them, and is part of themselves. And by means of
this they Live secure amidst millions of ravenous jaws,

" Here dwell mackarel, herring, and various of-
kinds, which when lean wander up and down the ocean ;
but when fat they throng our creeks and bays, or haunt
the running streams. Who bids these creatures leave
our shores when they become unfit for our service ?
Who rallies and recalls the undisciplined vagrants, as
soon as they are improved iato desirable foetU- Surely



the furlow is signed, the summons issued, and the poirri
of reunion settled, by a Providence ever indulgent to
mankind, ever loading us with benefits.

" Thc-e approach, while those nous size and

appearance a'^ndon our shores, T'ht! latter would fright
the valuable iish from our coasts; they are therefore
k ::>* \> tiie abysses of the ocean ; just as wild- beasts, .
>r-\ by tiie same over-ruling power, hide themselves
in the iccesses of the forest.

"One circumstance relating to the natlves'of the deep
is very astonishing. As they are continually obliged to
devour one another for necessary subsists :ice, without ex-
traordinary recruits, the whole watery race must soon be
>y extinct. Were they to bring forth no more at a
birth thai- land animals, the increase would be far too
small or tie consumption. The weaker species would
soon he destroyed by the stronger, and the stronger
themselves in -:st soon after perish. Therefore to supply
millions of aiUinals with their food, and yet not depo-
pulate the uatry realms, the issue produced by every
breeder is almost incredible. They spawn not by scores,
but by millions : a single female is pregnant with a na-
tion. Mr. Lewenhoek counted in an ordinary cod
9,384.000 eggs. By this amazing expedient, constant
re] , made, proportionable to the immense havoc.

And as i! e sea abounds with animal inhabitants, so it
does also with vegetable productions ; some soft as wool,
others hard as stone. Some rise like a leafless shrub,
some are expanded in the form of a net: some grow
wi<h their heads downward, and seem rather hanging
Or Uian springing from the juttings of the rocks. But as
we know ftvv pa v 1kulars concerning these, I would only



Online LibraryJohn WesleyA survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 3) → online text (page 5 of 24)