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The Atmosphere.] The earth is furrounded by a thin, invisible fluid; compofed of a mixture of faline, fulphureous, watery, earthy, and fpirituous particles, rifing to the diftance of between forty-five and fifty miles from the earth's furface. This fluid is called the atmosphere. Experiment has fhewn, that this atmosphere is effential to animal and vegetable life. It is a neceffary vehicle of found; and without it few things would be vifible, excepting thofe upon which the rays of the fun fall in a direct line between the fun and the eye: But the rays of light, falling on the particles which compofe the atmosphere, are thence reflected in every direction; in this way day-light is produced, even when the whole hemisphere is covered with clouds.
Winds.] Wind is air put in motion; the fwifter this motion, and the more denfe the air, the greater will be the force of the wind. If it be foft and gentle, it is called a breeze; if fresh and violent, a gale; if the gale be attended with rain and hail, it is called a ftorm. As the air is a Huid, its natural ftate is reft, which it always endeavours to keep, or recover by an univerfal equilibrium of all its parts. Whenever, therefore, this equilibrium is deftroyed by the rarefaction of the air in particular parts, which renders it lighter in those parts than in others, there neceffarily follows a motion of all the furrounding air towards thefe rarefied parts, to reflore the equilibrium; this motion is called wind. The velocity of the wind in a form has been afcertained by Philofophers, and found to be about fixty miles an hour.
Tides.] By tide is meant the regular ebbing and flowing of the fea twice in twenty-four hours. The caufe of the tides, is the attraction of the fun and moon, but chiefly of the latter. The waters of the immense ocean, as it were, forgetful of their natural reft, rife and rall in tides, obfequious to the ftrong attractive power of the moon, and the weaker influence of the fun. The moon in one revolution round the earth in twenty-four hours, produces two tides; of course there are as many ebbs. Thefe tides, neceffarily following the moon's motion, flow from east 10 weft. This conftant agitation of the waters of the ocean, together with their faltnefs, are wifely ordained by the Creator to preferve them from putrefaction.
Clouds.] Clouds are nothing but a collection of vapours, exhaled from the earth by the attractive influence of the fun, fufpended aloft in the air, and foaring on the wings of the wind. They are elevated from a quarter of a mile to a mile from the earth, according to their denfity, and that of the air.
Eclipfes. An eclipfe is a total or partial privation of the light of the fun or moon. When the moon paffes between the earth and the fun, the of the fun are in part intercepted, and the fun is faid to be in eclipfe. When the earth intervenes between the fun and moon, the moon, having no light of her own, appears dark or dusky; and, as we fay, fhe is eclipfed. An eclipfe of the fun never happens but at a new moon; nor one of the moon but when she is full.
Go divided into land and water.
EOGRAPHY is a fcience defcribing the furface of the earth
Geography is either univerfal, as it relates to the earth in general; or particular, as it relates to any fingle part.
The globe of the earth is made up of land and water, and is therefore called terraqueous. About one fourth of the furface of the globe is land; the other three-fourths are water.
The common divifions of the land and water are as follow:
The divifions of land are,
I. Into Continents.] A continent I. Into Oceans.] An ocean is a is a large tract of land, compre-vaft collection of water, not entirehending feveral countries and king-ly feparated by land, and divides one doms. Thefe countries, &c. are continent from the other. There contiguous to each other, and are are three great oceans. 'The Atnot entirely feparated by water.lantic, lying between America and There are but two continents, the Europe, three thousand miles wide. eaftern and western. The eastern The Pacific, lying between Afia continent is divided into Europe, and America, ten thousand miles Afia and Africa; the western into over. The Indian-Ocean, lying beNorth and South America, tween Africa and the Eaft Indies, three thoufand miles wide.
II. Ilands.] An island is a tract II. Lakes.] A lake is a large colof land entirely furrounded by wa-lection of water in the heart of a ter; as Rhode Island, Hifpaniola, country furrounded by land. Moft Great-Britain, Ireland, New-Zea- of them, however, have a river iffuland, Borneo, Japan, &c.
ing from them, which falls into the ocean; as Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, &c., A fmall collection of water, furrounded as above, is called pond.
III. Seas.] A fea or gulf is a part of the ocean, furrounded by land excepting a narrow pafs, called a ftrait, by which it communicates with the ocean; as the Mediterranean, Baltic and Red Seas; and the gulfs of Mexico, St. Lawrence IV. and Venice.
III. Peninfulas.] A peninfula is almost an island, or a tract of land furrounded by water, excepting at one narrow neck; as Bofton, the Morea, Crim Tartary, and Arabia.
IV. Ifthmues.] An ifthmus is a narrow neck of land joining a peninfula to the main land; as the ifthmus of Darien, which joins North and South America; and the ifthmas of Seuz, which unites Afia and Africa.
V. Promontories.] A promontory is a mountain or hill extending into the fea, the extremity of which is called a cape. A point of flat land projecting far into the fea is likewife called a cape; as Cape Ann, Cape Cod, Cape Hatteras.
VI. Mountains, Hills, &c. need no defcription.
IV. Straits.] A ftrait is a narrow paffage out of one fea into another; as the Straits of Gibraltar, joining the Mediterranean to the Atlantic; the Straits of Babelmandel, which unite the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.
V. Bays.] A bay is a part of the fea running up into the main land, commonly between two capes; as Maffachusetts Bay, between Cape Ann and Cape Cod; Delaware Bay, between Cape May and Cape Henlopen; Chefapeek Bay, between Cape Charles and Cape Henry.
VI. Rivers.] A river is a confiderable ftreain of water, iffuing from one or more fprings, and gliding into the fea. A fmall ftream is called a rivulet or brook,
Maps.] A map is a plain figure reprefenting the furface of the earth, or a part of it, according to the laws of perfpective. On the map of any tract of country, are delineated its mountains, rivers, lakes, towns, &c. in their proper magnitudes and fituations. The top of a map is always north, the bottom fouth, the right fide east, and the left fide weft. Froin the top to the bottom are drawn meridians, or lines of longitude; and from fide to fide the parallels of latitude.
DISCOVERY of AMERICA.
T is believed by many, and not without fome reafon, that America tain evidence. Whatever difcoveries may have been made in this weftern world, by Madoc Gwinneth, the Carthaginians and others, are loft to mankind, The eastern continent was the only theatre of history from the creation of the world to the year of our Lord 1492.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, a native of Genoa, has defervedly the honour of having first discovered America. From a long and close application to the study of geography and navigation, for which his genius was naturally inclined, Columbus had obtained a knowledge of the true figure of the earth, much fuperior to the general notions of the age in which he lived. In order that the terraqueous globe might be properly balanced, and the lands and feas proportioned to each other, he was led to conceive that another continent was necessary. Other reasons induced him to believe that this continent was connected with the East Indies.
As early as the year 1474, he communicated his ingenious theory to Paul, a phyfician of Florence, eminent for his knowledge of cofmography.
He warmly approved it, fuggefted feveral facts in confirmation of it, and encouraged Columbus in an undertaking fo laudable, and which promifed fo much benefit to the world.
Having fully fatisfied himself with respect to the truth of his fyftem, he became impatient to reduce it to practice. The first step towards this, was to fecure the patronage of fome of the European powers. Accordingly he laid his scheme before the fenate of Genoa, making his native country the firft tender of his fervices. They rejected his propofal, as the dream of a chimerical projector. He next applied to John 11. king of Portugal, a monarch of an enterprifing genius, and no incompetent judge of naval affairs. The king liftened to him in the moft gracious manner, and referred the confideration of his plan to a number of eminent cofmographers, whom he was accustomed to confult in matters of this kind. These men, from mean and interested views, started innumerable objections, and asked many captious questions, on purpose to betray Columbus into a full explanation of his fyftem. Having done this, they advised the king to difpatch a veffel, fecretly, in order to attempt the propofed difcovery, by following exactly the courfe which Columbus had pointed out. John, forgetting on this occafion the fentinents becoming a monarch, meanly adopted their perfidious counfel.
Upon difcovering this dishonourable tranfaction, Columbus, with an indignation natural to a noble and ingenious mind, quitted the kingdom, and landed in Spain in 1484.
Here he prefented his fcheme, in perfon, to Ferdinand and Isabella, who at that time governed the united kingdoms of Caftile and Arragon. They injudiciously fubmitted it to the examination of unfkilful judges, who, ignorant of the principles on which Columbus founded his theory, rejected it as abfurd, upon the credit of a maxim under which the unenterprifing, in every age, fhelter themfelves, "That it is prefumptuous in any perfon, "to fuppofe that he alone poffeffes knowledge, fuperior to all the rest of "mankind united." They maintained, likewife, that if there were really any fuch countries as Columbus pretended, they would not have remained fo long concealed; nor would the wifdom and fagacity of former ages have left the glory of this difcovery to an obfcure Genoefe pilot.
Meanwhile, Columbus, who had experienced the uncertain iffue of applications to kings, had taken the precaution of fending into England his brother Bartholomew, to whom he had fully communicated his ideas, to negociate the matter with Henry VII. On his voyage to England, he fell into the hands of pirates, who ftripped him of every thing, and detained him a prifoner feveral years. At length he made his efcape, and arrived at London in extreme indigence, where he employed himself fome time in felling maps. With his gains he purchased a decent drefs; and in perfon prefented to the king the propofals which his brother had entrusted to his management. Notwithstanding Henry's exceffive caution and parfimony, he received the propofals of Columbus with more approbation than any monarch to whom they had been prefented.
After feveral unfuccefsful applications to other European powers of lefs note, he was induced, by the intreaty and interpofition of Perez, a man of confiderable learning, and of fome credit with queen Habella, to apply
again to the court of Spain. This application, after much warm debate and feveral mortifying repulfes, proved fuccefsful; not, however, without the moft vigorous and perfevering exertions of Quintanilla and Santangel, two vigilant and difcerning patrons of Columbus, whofe meritorious zeal in promoting this grand defign, entitles their names to an honourable place in hiftory. It was, however, to queen Ifabella, the munificent Patronefs of his noble and generous defigns, that Columbus ultimately owed his fuccefs.
Having thus obtained the affiftance of the court, a fquadron of three fmall vefiels was fitted out, victualled for twelve months, and furnished with ninety men. The whole expence did not exceed £.4000. Of this fquadron Columbus was appointed admiral.
On the 3d of Auguft, 1492, he left Spain in the prefence of a crowd of fpectators, who united their fupplications to Heaven for his fuccefs. He fteered directly for the Canary Islands, where he arrived and refitted, as well as he could, his crazy and ill appointed fleet. Hence he failed, September 6th, a due weftern courfe into an unknown ocean.
Columbus now found a thoufand unforeseen hardships to encounter, which demanded all his judgment, fortitude and address to furmount. Befides the difficulties, unavoidable from the nature of his undertaking, he had to struggle with those which arose from the ignorance and timidity of the people under his command. On the 14th of September he was aftonifhed to find that the magnetic needle in their compafs, did not point exactly to the polar ftar, but varied toward the weft; and as they proceeded, this variation increafed. This new phenomenon filled the companions of Columbus with terror. Nature itself seemed to have fuftained a change; and the only guide they had left, to point them to a fafe retreat from an unbounded and trackless ocean, was about to fail them. Columbus, with no lefs quicknefs than ingenuity, affigned a reafon for this appearance, which, though it did not fatisfy himself, feemed fo plaufible to them, that it difpelled their fears, or filenced their murmurs.
The failors, always difcontented, and alarmed at their distance from land, feveral times mutinied, threatened once to throw their admiral overboard, and repeatedly infifted on his returning. Columbus, on thefe trying occafions, difplayed all that cool deliberation, prudence, foothing addrefs and firmnefs, which were neceffary for a perfon engaged in a difcovery, the most interesting to the world of any ever undertaken by man.
It was on the 11th of October, 1492, at ten o'clock in the evening, that Columbus, from the fore-caftle, defcried a light. At two o'clock next morning, Roderic Triana difcovered land. The joyful tidings were quickly communicated to the other fhips. The morning light confirmed the report; and the feveral crews immediately began Te Deum, as a hymn of thankf giving to God, and mingled their praifes with tears of joy, and tranfports of congratulation. Columbus, richly dreffed, with a drawn fword in his hand, was the firit European who fet foot in the New World which he had difcovered. The island on which he thus firft landed, he called St. Salvador. It is one of that large clufter of iflands, known by the name of the Lucaya or Bahama Ifles. He afterwards touched at several of the iflands in the fame clufter, enquiring every where for gold, which he