Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/264

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had swallowed up its foundations, and the sea gained so rapidly that, fifty years later, the spot where they lay was seven hundred feet from the shore."

"The most prominent geological landmark on the coast of Holland is the Huis te Britten, Arx Britannica, a fortress built by the Romans, in the time of Caligula, on the mainland, near the mouth of the Rhine. At the close of the seventeenth century the sea had advanced sixteen hundred paces beyond it."—Marsh, The Earth as Modified by Man's Action.

"At Agger, near the end of the Liimfjord, in Jutland, the coast was washed away, between the years 1815 and 1839, at the rate of more than eighteen feet a year. . . . The sea is encroaching generally upon the whole line of the coast."—Ibid.

Facts like these have driven the Governments of Denmark, Prussia, Holland, and France to a careful consideration and study of the subject; and in all these countries a system of coast improvement has been adopted. This system does not imply a conflict with Nature, but rather a return to her earlier plan.

The sand-hills on the Prussian coast, up to the middle of the last century, were wooded to the water's edge. Old geographers, writing of the Netherlands, mention vast forests reaching to the sea. Of the fate of a Prussian forest we have the following record:

"A great pine forest bound with its roots the dune sand and the heath uninterruptedly from Dantzic to Pillau. King Frederick William I was once in want of money. A certain Herr von Korff promised to procure it for him if he could be allowed to remove something quite useless. He thinned out the forests of Prussia, which then, indeed, possessed little pecuniary value; but he felled the entire woods of the Frische Nehrung, so far as they lay within the Prussian territory. The financial operation was a success. The king had money; but, in the material effects which resulted from it, the state received irreparable injury. The sea winds rush over the bared hills; the Frische Haff is half choked with sand; the channel between Elbing, the sea, and Konigsberg is endangered, and the fisheries in the Haff injured. The operation of Herr von Korff brought the King 200,000 thalers. The state would now willingly expend millions to restore the forests."—Das Buch der Pflanzenwelt.

It is estimated that about one million acres on the Atlantic and Baltic shores of Europe have become, since the destruction of the forests, a moving desert of sand dunes, rolling inland, burying the fertile soil, and rendering the land barren by the sand showers sprinkled over it; while, following the landward roll of the dunes, came the resistless march of the victorious sea.

The endeavor, then, of these threatened countries has been to regain, by slow degrees, the protection of the forests so rashly