Page:The Pathfinder of the Seas.djvu/108

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74
MATTHEW FONTAINE MAURY

from the rivers, and hand them over to the little mason for the structure of the most stupendous works of solid masonry that man has ever seen—the coral islands of the sea".

The contemporary reviews of Maury's "Physical Geography of the Sea" gave unqualified praise to his style. The Revue des Deux Mondes declared, "Often indeed his powerful imagination makes of Maury a veritable poet, and his descriptions recall involuntarily those stories of the "Thousand and One Nights", which charmed our childhood, where Gulnare pictures for her husband marvellously the mysterious realms of the profundities under the sea". Humboldt considered it an epoch-making book, and the French scientist Jomard congratulated Maury upon the accomplishment of a "work so difficult, so useful, so laborious", which he regarded as a true present to physicists, geographers, and navigators as well as to the commerce of all nations. The Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine joined in the hymn of praise with the opinion that "the good that Maury has done, in awakening the powers of observation of the officers of the Royal and mercantile navies of England and America is incalculable", and added that such researches were exercising the most beneficial effect in improving and elevating the minds of seamen everywhere.

Some of Maury's theories, however, were early questioned, especially the one regarding the causes of ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream. He contended that they were set in motion by differences in specific gravity of the water in different places as caused by a disparity in temperature or in saltness. Sir John Herschel had considered that the currents were due entirely to the