Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/571

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And so the history goes on, geographical facts being mingled with fable, superstition, ancient mythology, and modern theology, until the era of maritime discovery, inaugurated by adventurers like Columbus, who discovered a new continent, and Magalhaens, who first circumnavigated the globe. From that period the advance of geographical knowledge has been in a great measure freed from the embarrassments of superstition, and has been steady and rapid in all the various fields of exploration.



FROM the mode of regarding the earth entertained in old times, let us now pass to the modern method, and what has been accomplished by geographical investigation in a single year. No better illustration can be found of the great change which science has wrought in the mental habits of man than the contrast between the empty speculations of the olden time, and the immense and positive results of observation and exploration by which our geographical knowledge has been augmented, in even a single year. Judge Daly's annual résumé of the previous year's work in geographical inquiry, given before the society of which he is president, is so careful, so trustworthy, and so complete, that it is looked for with eagerness by many readers. By his kind permission, we avail ourselves of the discourse, condensing some parts and quoting others. Those who do not like this mangling of an author's work had better get the discourse in its full text, which will be issued in pamphlet form.

We are informed that the past year has been marked, not only by investigations and discourses, but by the establishment of several new geographical societies, and a large increase in the membership of the old. Having their origin in the "Society of the Argonauts" founded in Venice in 1688, there are now thirty-eight such societies in existence. Physical geography, to which I shall first refer, is a line of inquiry in which there has been great activity during the past year, as shown by the number of works that have been published, and the papers that have been read upon the various branches of this great subject.

"At a meeting of the British Association at Glasgow, last September, Sir William Thomson considered the subject of the interior of the earth. He said that the greatest depth that had been reached in observations of underground temperature was scarcely one kilometre

  1. Condensed from the annual address of Chief-Justice Charles P. Daly, President of the American Geographical Society, delivered January, 1877.