Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/552

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look to the ether system, not only for an illustration on the widest scale of the law of assimilation, but also for the ultimate source of all the phenomena in which the operation of that law can be traced. For whether the ether be continuous or granular, it clearly satisfies, by its very nature and uniformity, the demand that likes shall be associated, the while that, by the actions known as chemical and gravitative, it also fulfills the requirement that there shall be dissociation of unlikes. Lacking, as we do, all explanation of the actual mechanism of gravitation, we may none the less find its form suggested to us when we describe it as an act of dissociation by the ether system. And if this view be tenable, we should be justified in regarding the ether as primarily embodying the power manifested in the multifarious changes which we call evolution.


THE first part of the American mainland seen by Columbus was Venezuela. On his third voyage, in 1498, he bore farther to the south than before, and had become convinced that he should not meet with any land on that course when his lookout descried three hilltops in the southwest. The island from which these peaks arose Columbus appropriately named Trinidad (the Trinity). Sailing on, he entered the chief mouth of the Orinoco and then skirted the island-fringed coast on his way to Haiti. The country is said to owe its name to Ojedo, who, on entering Lake Maracaibo the following year, noticed one of the Indian villages of pile dwellings on its shore. "Why, here," he said, "is a little Venice" (Venezuela), and this name became the designation of the whole region round about.

The great curve of the Orinoco divides the area of Venezuela into two unequal parts, the larger of which, lying to the north and west of the river, contains the more populous districts. Seven of the eight States of the republic lie wholly in this part, while most of the region south of the river and along its upper course is divided into Territories. The surface of the country is much diversified. In the extreme northwest, around the gulf and lake of Maracaibo, it is level and well watered. East of this tract a branch of the Andes crosses the country diagonally. Five of its peaks extend above the snow line, the highest. Concha, rising to fifteen thousand four hundred feet above the sea—between the height of Mount Whitney, in California, and that of Mont Blanc. From this peak descends a small glacier which