The physical characteristics of a land should be known, to correctly understand the history of its people. In an important sense, when the skies do change, men also change. Grand scenery, leaping waters, and a bracing atmosphere, produce men of different cast from those who dwell where the land is on a dead level, and where the streams are all sluggards. We associate heroes like Tell and Bruce with the mountains of Switzerland and the Highlands of Scotland, and not with regions of country where the outline is unbroken, and the horizon appears as a continuation of the earth.

Minnesota occupies the elevated plateau of North America; and from its gently sloping plains descend the rivulets that feed the mighty Mississippi, that flows into the Gulf of Mexico; the noble St. Lawrence, emptying its volume into the Atlantic; and the winding Red River of the North, flowing into Hudson's Bay. It extends from 43° 30' to 49° north latitude, and its boundaries are : on the north, the British Possessions ; on the south, the state of Iowa; on the east, Lake Superior and the state of Wisconsin; and on the west Red river, Sioux Wood river, Lake Traverse, and Big Stone Lake, and from the latter a due south line to the northern boundary of Iowa.

The climate of Minnesota has elicited an eulogy from every observing traveller, and yet erroneous impressions prevail in the public mind. During the summer, the temperature corresponds with that of Philadelphia; and while the thermometer has a high range during the day, the evenings are generally cool and refreshing. Nights, so frequent on the Atlantic border, when the body welters in perspiration, and the individual arises exhausted rather than refreshed by sleep, are unknown. Nor is the winter any more trying to the constitution than the summer. The air is dry and bracing, and the skies are by day generally cloudless, and at night are studded with stars. Maury, the author of the Physical Geography of the Sea, and Superintendent of the National Observatory at Washington, has remarked:—

" At the small hours of the night, at dewy eve and early morn, I have looked out with wonder, love, and admiration upon the steel-blue sky of Minnesota, set with diamonds, and sparkling with brilliants of purest ray. The stillness of your small hours is sublime. I feel constrained, as I gaze and admire, to hold my breath, lest the eloquent silence of the night should be broken by the reverberations of the sound, from the seemingly solid but airy vault above.

" Herschell has said, that in Europe, the astronomer might consider himself highly favoured, if by patiently watching the skies for one year, he shall, during that

« PreviousContinue »