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“ The most obvious and probable cause of this superior degree of cold towards the southern extremity of America, seems to be the form of the continent there. Its breadth gradually decreases as it stretches from St. Antonio southwards, and from the bay of St. Julian to the straits of Magellan its dimensions are much contracted. On the east and west sides, it is washed by the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. From its southern point, it is probable that an open sea ftretches to the antaretic pole. In whichever of these directions the wind blows, it is cooled before it approaches the Magellanic regions, by passing over a vast body of water ; nor is the land there of such extent, that it can recover any considerable degree of heat in its progress over it. These circumstances concur in rendering the temperature of the air in this district of America more fimilar to that of an insular, than to that of a continental climate ; and hinder it from acquiring the same degree of summer-heat with places in Europe and Asia, in a corresponding northern latitude. The north wind is the only one that reaches this part of America, after blowing over a great continent. But, from an attentive survey of its position, this will be found to have a tendency rather to diminish than augment the degree of heat. The southern extremity of America is properly the termination of the immense ridge of the Andes, which stretches nearly is a direct line from north to south, through the whole extent of the continent. The most sultry regions in South America, Guiana, Brasily Paraguay, and Tucuman, lie many degrees to the east of the Magellanit regions. The level country of Peru, which enjoys the tropical heats, is situated considerably to the west of them. The north wind, then, though it blows over land, does not bring to the fouthern extremity of America an increase of heat collected in its paffage over torrid regions ; but, before it arrives there, it must have fwept along the summit of the Andes, and come impregnated with the cold of that frozen region.”
Another particularity in the climate of America, is its excessive moif. ture in general. In fome places, indeed, on the western coast, rain is not known; but, in al} other parts, the moistness of the climate is as remarkable as the cold. The forefts wherewith it is every where con vered, no doubt, partly occafion the moisture of its climate; but the most prevalent cause is the vast quantity of water in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with which America is environed on all fides. Hence those places where the continent is narrowest are deluged with almost perpetual rains, accompanied with violent thunder and lightning, by which some of them, particularly Porto Bello, are rendered in a manner unipkabitable.
This extreme moisture of the American climate is productive of much larger rivers there than in any other part of the world. The Danube, the Nile, the Indus, or the Ganges, are not comparable to the Mislissippi, the river St. Laurence, or that of the Amazons; nor are such large lakes to be found any where as those which North America af. fords. To the same cause we are also partly to ascribe the excessive luxusiance of all kinds of vegetables in almost all parts of this country. In the southern provinces, where the moisture of the climate is aided by the warmth of the sun, the woods are almost impervious, and the surface of the ground is hid from the eye, under a thick covering of shrubs, herbs, and weeds. In the northern provinces, the forests are not encumbered with the same luxuriance of vegetation; nevertheless, they afford trees much larger of their kind than what are to be found any where else.
From the coldness and the moisture of America, an extreme malignity of climate has been inferred, and asserted by M. de Paw, in his Recherches Philosophiques. Hence, according to his hypothesis, the smallness and irregularity of the nobler animals, and the size and enormous multiplication of reptiles and infects.
But the supposed smallness and less ferocity of the American animals, the Abbé Clavigero observes, instead of the malignity, demonstrates the mildness and bounty of the clime, if we give credit to Buffon, at whose fountain M. de Paw has drank, and of whose testimony he has availed himself against Don Pernetty. Buffon, who in many places of his Na. tural History produces the smallness of the American animals as a cer. tain argument of the malignity of the climate of America, in treating afterwards of savage animals, in Tom. II. speaks thus : “ As all things, even the most free creatures, are subject to natural laws, and animals as well as men are subjected to the influence of climate and foil, it appears that the same causes which have civilized and polished the human species in our climates, may have likewise produced similar effects upon other species. The wolf, which is perhaps the fiercest of all the quadrupeds of the temperate zone, is however incomparably less terrible than the tyger, the lion, and the panther, of the torrid zone; and the white bear and hyena of the frigid zone. In America, where the air and the earth are more mild than those of Africa, the tyger, the lion, and the panther, are not terrible but in the name. They have degenerated, if fierceness, joined to cruelty, made their nature; or, to speak more properly, they have only fuffered the influence of the climate : under a milder sky, their nature also has become more mild. From climes which are immoderate in their temperature, are obtained drugs, perfumes, poisons, M 2
| and all those plants whose qualities are strong. The temperate earth, on the contrary, produces only things which are temperate; the mildest herbs, the most wholesome pulse, the sweetest fruits, the most quiet animals, and the most humane men, are the natives of this happy clime. As the earth makes the plants, the earth and plants make animals; the carth, the plants, and the animals, make man. The physical qualities of man, and the animals which feed on other animals, depend, though more remotely, on the same causes which influence their difpofitions and customs. This is the greatest proof and demonstration, that in temperate climes every thing becomes temperate, and that in intemperate climes every thing is excessive; and that size and form, which appear fixed and determinate qualities, depend, notwithftanding, like the relative qualities, on the influence of climate. The size of our quadrupeds cannot be compared with that of an elephant, the rhinoceros, or fea-horse. The largest of our birds are but small, if compared with the oftrich, the condore, and cafare.” So far M. Buffon, whose text we have copied, because it is contrary to what M. de Paw writes against the climate of America, and to Buffon himself in many other places.
If the large and fierce animals are natives of intemperate climes, and small and tranquil animals of temperate climes, as M. Buffon has here established; if mildness of climate influences the disposition and customs of animals, M. de Paw does not well deduce the malignity of the climate of America from the smaller size and less fierceness of its animals; he ought rather to have deduced the gentleness and sweetness of its climate from this antecedent. If, on the contrary, the smaller size and less fierceness of the American animals, with respect to those of the old continent, are a proof of their degeneracy, arising from the malignity of the clime, as M. de Paw would have it, we ought in like manner to argue the malignity of the climate of Europe from the smaller size and less fierceness of its animals, compared with those of Africa. If a philosopher of the country of Guinea Nould undertake a work in imitation of M. de Paw, with this title, Recherches Philosophiques sur les Europeens, he might avail himself of the same argument which M. de Paw uses, to demonstrate the malignity of the climate of Europe, and the advantages of that of Africa. The climate of Europe, he would say, is very unfavourable to the production of quadrupeds, which are found incomparably smaller, and more cowardly than ours. What are the horse and the ox, the largest of its animals, compared with our elephants, our rhinoceroses, our feahorses, and our camels? What are its lizards, either in size or intrepidity, compared with our crocodiles ? Its wolves, its bears, the moft dreadful of its wild beasts, when beside our lions or tygers ? Its eagle, its
vultures, and cranes, if compared with our oftriches, appear only like hens.
As to the enormous size and prodigious multiplication of the infects and other little noxious animals, “ The surface of the earth (says M. de Paw, infected by putrefaction, was over-run with lizards, serpents, reptiles, and insects monstrous for fize, and the activity of their poison, which they drew from the copious juices of this uncultivated foil, that was corrupted and abandoned to itself, where the nutritive juice became Tharp, like the milk in the breast of animals which do not exercise the virtue of propagation. Caterpillars, crabs, butterflies, beetles, spiders, frogs, and toads, were for the most part of an enormous corpulence in their species, and multiplied beyond what can be imagined. Panama is infested with serpents, Carthagena with clouds of enormous bats, Portobello with toads, Surinam with kakerlacas, or cucarachas, Guadaloupe, and the other colonies of the islands, with beetles, Quito with niguas or chegoes, and Lima with lice and bugs. The ancient kings of Mexico, and the emperors of Peru, found no other means of ridding their subjects of those insects which fed upon them, than the imposition of an annual tribute of a certain quantity of lice. Ferdinand Cortes found bags full of them in the palace of Montezuma.” But this argument, exaggerated as it is, proves nothing against the climate of America, in general, much less
against that of Mexico. There being some lands in America, in which, on account of their heat, humidity, or want of inhabitants, large infects are found, and excessively multiplied, will prove at most, that in fome places the surface of the earth is infected, as he says, with putrefaction; but not that the foil of Mexico, or that of all America, is stinking, uncultivated, 'vitiated, and abandoned to itself. If such a deduction were just, M. de Paw might also say, that the soil of the old continent is barren, and stinks; as in many countries of it there are prodigious multitudes of monstrous insects, noxious reptiles, and vile animals, as in the Philippine isles, in many of those of the Indian Archipelago, in several countries of the south of Asia, in many of Africa, and even in some of Europe.
The Philippine isles are infested with enormous ants and monstrous butterflies, Japan with scorpions, fouth of Asia and Africa with serpents, Egypt with asps, Guinea and Ethiopia with armies of ants, Holland with field-rats, Ukrania with toads, as M. de Paw himself affirms. In Italy, the Campagna di Roma (although peopled for so many ages), with vipers ; Calabria with tarantulas; the shores of the Adriatic sea, with clouds of gnats; and even in France, the population of which is so great and so ancient, whose lands are so well cultivated, and whose climate is so celebrated by the French, there appeared, a few
years ago, according to M. Buffon, a new species of field-mce, larger than the common kind, called by him Surmulots, which have multiplied exceedingly, to the great damage of the fields. M. Bazin, in his Compendium of the History of Insects, numbers 77 species of bugs, which are all found in Paris and its neighbourhood. That large capital, as Mr. Bomare says, swarms with those disgustful infects. It is true, that there are places in America, where the multitude of insects, and filthy vermin, make life irksome; but we do not know that they have arrived to such excess of multiplication as to depopulate any place, at least there cannot be so many examples produced of this cause of depopulation in the new as in the old continent, which are attested by Theophrastus, Varro, Pliny, and other authors. The frogs depopulated one place in Gaul, and the locufts another in Africa. One of the Cyclades was depopulated by mice; Amiclas, near to Taracina, by serpents; another place, near to Ethiopia, by scorpions and poisonous ants; and another by scolopendras; and not so distant from our own times, the Mauritius was going to have been abandoned on account of the extraordinary multiplication or rats, as we can remember to have read in a French author.
With respect to the size of the insects, reptiles, and such animals, M. de Paw makes use of the testimony of Mr. Dumont, who, in his Memoirs on Louisiana, says, that the frogs are so large there that they weigh 37 French pounds, and their horrid croaking imitates the bellow. ing of cows. But M. de Paw himself fays (in his answer to Don Pere netty, cap. 17.) that all those who have written about Louisiana from Henepin, Le Clerc, and Cav. Tonti, to Dumont, have contradicted each other, sometimes on one and sometimes on another subject. In fact, neither in the old or the new continent are there frogs of 37 pounds in weight; but there are in Asia and Africa, serpents, butterfies, ants, and other animals of such monstrous size, that they exceed all those which have been discovered in the new world. We know very well, that some American historian says, that a certain gigantic species of serpents is to be found in the woods, which attract men with their breath, and swallow them up; but we know also, that several historians, both ancient and modern, report the same thing of the serpents of Afia, and even fomething more. Magasthenes, cited by Pliny, said, that there were serpents found in Afia, fo large, that they swallowed entire stags and bulls. Metrodorus cited by the same author, affirms, that in Afia there were serpents which, by their breath, attracted birds, however high they were or quick their flight. Among the moderns, Gemelli, in Vol. V. of his Tour of the World, when he treats of the animals of the Philip pine ifles, fpeaks thus : “ There are serpents in these islands of immode.