« PreviousContinue »
From Mr. Hall's partial report on the fourth geological district, some important points have been already considered. Others, of great interest, remain, which we should be glad to introduce. Most of them, however, must be passed in silence.
A conglomerate rock occurs in Allegany county, and in several places in Cattaraugus county. Another conglomerate overlies the coal at “ Blossburgh, Warren, and some other places in Pennsylvania.” Some have confounded these two rocks, and expected to find coal under the former. The matter is not altogether settled, but both Mr. Halland the geologist of Pennsylvania, professor Rogers, concur in the opinion that the Allegany conglomerate underlies the coal, and that coal is not to be found in digging through this conglomerate in our state. The prospect of finding coal is farther removed from us. The survey has found the rocks of our state to be of too early a formation, and that coal is to be looked for in the newer rocks of that part of our sister state of Pennsylvania. If this conglomerate should be identified with the millstone grit of England, which there lies below the coal series, another triumph will have been achieved. Rep. p. 416.
The expectation of finding coal seems to be almost a monomania in western New York. Even so far north as Middleburg, in Genesee county, diggings, and a boring of thirty feet, has been made for coal. A voyage, by a balloon, into the air would be more likely to lead to such a discovery, as one might land upon some of the coal-beds of Pennsylvania or Ohio. The diggings in these rocks are worse than foolish.
The speculations on the existence of an ancient sea which covered a great portion of the state, will prove very interesting to the curious. It is wonderful to trace the indications already brought to light of the different levels of this sea till you come, by the opening of successive barriers, to the level of lake Ontario. The hypothesis of Dr. S. L. Mitchell, of New York, published long ago, begins to appear a plausible theory; and the organic remains already examined, and the numerous levels already ascertained in the surveys for rail-roads and canals, prove the existence of such a sea, and indicate the directions in which the waters have been carried off to the present level of the great lakes.
The tabular arrangement of the rocks of the fourth district depends upon the fossils, and accords with that of the palaeontologist. We trust that future examinations will show the upward limit of the Caradoc series to be the Medina or Niagara sandstone, and that the green shale, and iron ore, and lowest Pentamerus limestone, will be found as the lower series of the Wenlock shale of Murchison. At least,
. let there be no hasty decisions ; let the examinations be repeated along the most important points and lines of separation between the fossiliferous groups; let no prepossessions control the judgment.
The Rock city, formed in the conglomerate of Cattaraugus county, and located by nature about seven miles south of Ellicottville, will attract a visit from every intelligent traveller and lover of wild and strange scenery. Rep. p. 467.
No one can read the report without a full conviction of the intense ardor which actuates the whole geological corps some little collision occasionally appears among them ; some difference of names when each is well known to all; some opposition of opinions when the same arguments are before all; some intentional differences. But, as a whole, there is great harmony of opinion, uniformity in nomenclature and language, and consistency of views on the grouping of the strata and the kind of formation.
The moral influence of all these discoveries is healthful and elevating. They are the unfolding to the present and succeeding generations of the power and design and wisdom of the great Creator — the links in the great chain of causes and effects, to connect created with uncreated mind. For, in the language of Vanuxem, Rep. p. 382, “all that exists, has existed, and shall exist, are enchained together as parts of one great whole or system, the unravelling of which is given by its great Creator to the only part of his creatures which he declares to have been formed in his image.”
Shall this knowledge be diffused among the people? Shall all these wondrous works of our Creator be unknown to all but a favored few? Is more education required to understand the structure of the earth and the changes of its surface than falls to the share of many of the sons and daughters of the people? Cannot the means of knowledge be provided, and teachers of adequate knowledge employed, so ihat the rising generation shall comprehend and enjoy the results that have been, and are yet to be, spread before the world?
The Life of Alexander Hamilton. By his Son, JOHN C.
HAMILTON. New York. Vol. I., Halsted and Voorhies, 1834. Vol. II., D. Appleton and Co., 1840. 422-563.
8 vo., PP:
Next to Washington's, stands the name of Hamilton on the roll of American fame and in its demands on the gratitude of his country. We, at least, have grown gray in that faith, and the events of every succeeding day serve but to confirm our early and unchanged creed. The working of the political institutions of our country, whether for good or evil
, has never ceased to indicate a prophetic mind in Hamilton. Even now do we find the vital strength of our union to lie where his far-seeing eye beheld it, and its weaknesses and dangers to arise where he predicted them and labored against them. And if our union has survived past shocks, and is competent to endure yet harder ones, and destined moreover, as we trust, to grow up into enduring greatness, and to become a model to the old world as well as a blessing to the new, we hold such result to be in no small degree due to the conservative spirit infused into it at its formation and in its early progress by the governing mind of Hamilton. In the expression of this sentiment, we are fully cleared from any charge of prejudice by the impartial yet equally favorable judgment of a highly philosophic foreigner and historian
-one who, beyond, perhaps, all other European writers, has most deeply studied our history, our government, and the lives of its great founders. “Hamilton,” says Guizot, in his late work on the character of Washington, “must be classed among the men who have best known the vital principles and the fundamental conditions of a government — not of a government such as this, (France) but of a government worthy of its mission and of its name.
There is not in the constitution of the United States an element of order, of force, or of duration, which he has not powerfully contributed to introduce into it and caused to predominate."
Of such a man, an adequate biography is obviously a task of no slight labor, of no private bearing, and of no temporary influence. It is, on the contrary, a work of national interest and national magnitude, and, rightly executed, a national blessing; for it forms, we may say, and will continue in all
coming time to form, part of the natural heritage and birthright of all who live under the shadow of the American constitution that constitution which Hamilton labored to found and lived but to interpret. It is their birthright, we say, and it will be their duty to become duly instructed in the life-labors and living principles of him whom we may not fear to name — if to any, such name may be appropriated -as its earliest and most zealous advocate, its most eminent framer, most eloquent defender, soundest expositor, and ablest practical statesman. It is in this light that we look at the life of Hamilton, — as a national work and a people's study; and shall do our endeavor so to impress it on the minds of our readers. It is a boon that has been long promised to the American public and long delayed — we doubt not for sufficient reasons. Of these, some are already made evident in the volume more immediately before us. Others will doubtless appear as the work proceeds into its more debatable and personal questions.
For the present, then, we have two volumes in our hands, bringing down the narrative to what may well be termed the hinging question of Hamilton's whole life, - the adoption of the federal constitution ; for out of it, and the discussions it gave rise to, arose that life-long struggle with the spirit of party to which, eventually, it may be said, he fell a victim. The remaining two volumes, it is understood, are soon forthcoming, and the Hamilton papers also in a state of forward preparation. We congratulate our countrymen upon this prospect. Their non-appearance has long constituted the great “hiatus” in our constitutional history, so that with them we may hold our national annals to be complete. In the mean time, we turn thankfully to what we have to the biography thus far given, and to the great political lessons it not only affords but inculcates.
The life of Hamilton is indeed a theme that rewards while it demands the highest talents of the biographer. It may be in truth a work, as we think it to be, not without its difficulties; but it certainly is not without its recompense. To be permitted thus to trace, step by step, the path of glory, is in itself a glorious career; and to be familiarly conversant for months and years, as his biographer must be, with the outpourings of such a mind, is like living in intimate communion with the man himself, and can hardly be without its inspiring influence. Seldom, indeed, has an artist richer
materials to work with than he who builds
the monument of Hamilton's fame. His pre-eminent powers of intellect, his forecasting wisdom, his fearless principles, his impassioned eloquence, the soldier's pride and the woman's tenderness, that made up, as it were, the warp and woof of his nature; the services he rendered to his country, the persecution he sustained from party, the career of true honor he ran as a patriot and a citizen even from the days of his unprotected "stranger” boyhood; and, to close all, the unworthy blow under which he fell, yielding, even against his own most solemn convictions, to the call of false honor, paralyzed, perhaps, in the struggle, under the remembrance of a son's permitted and fatal choice, — these all are as jewels in the hand of his biographer, and, as into the statue of Olympian Jove may they be wrought, whereon the true artist may also write the enote of his own immortality,
Quod non imber edax, non aquilo impotens
Annorum series et fuga temporum." Were the work in any other than filial hands, we might venture to say we envied the artist. As it is, we can only bid him “ God speed," and say we rejoice that pious hands have at length assumed the task so long delayed, so often vainly promised, of the LIFE OF HAMILTON. The filial pen will but become in it a new element of interest. We, at least, as American critics, shall feel proud to proclaim that the same blood courses in the veins of him who fought and him who records the fightofour political and constitutional freedom, and that “wager of battle” has been worthily done by the son for the honor of his father's shield. If completed as it has been begun, with the same care, fidelity and skill, this biography will be, what it ought to be, a national work; and, although home affection may sometimes speak forth in its pious care to wipe off from what it so much reverences even the shade of the shadow of a stain, still will it be found in the end but to have given greater completeness to the work, and a deeper interest to the narrative, and a more thorough research than strangers would have given into the requisite authorities for the completing of a task which it had taken up not only in admiration but in love.
The form into which Mr. Hamilton has chosen to cast the life of his father is that of a full documentary personal nar