Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/239

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227
A MAP REVIEW.

effect, the surrounding valleys and the blank expanse of water in the center constituting a ground from which the mountains rise in bold relief.

Nor, taken in detail, is it less worthy of study. The agricultural district with its checker-work of farms, the great round hills which cover the Comstock lode, the barren edge of the desert, the sharp and ragged peaks which are the sierras proper, the easy grades of the forest-clad slopes about the lake, the rocky shore, the sandy beach, the angular course of the mountain-torrent as it dashes between cañon walls, and its winding bed through the alluvial soil of the valley, are all given true to nature.

The draughtsman to whom this map owes its realistic appearance is Mr. John E. Weyss, a veteran of thirty years' continuous service as a topographer for our Government. In order to catch and preserve those characteristic traits of form and surface which it is so hard for one draughtsman to transmit to another, he visited the ground in person, and, from the summits of lofty peaks and other advantageous points, accumulated a series of sketches with the aid of which to restore a natural effect to the construction-plots of contour-lines as they came to his hands from the surveyors. The map is finished in hachures, a method which is more intelligible to the unprofessional eye than that of contours, and which, in this case, is made especially effective by a free and artistic handling of the subject. As that is the best map for popular use which, in its true proportions, presents the most exact picture of the country for which it stands, there is room, in a district accidented as this is, for many a felicitous touch and extra bit of shading not provided for in any of the schools of topographical drawing. In fact, the draughtsman who adheres too closely and conscientiously to Lehmann's or any other conventional diapason of shades is likely to construct a map whose geographical features are stiff, unnatural, and almost mechanical in their geometrical regularity, just as the writer who checks up every sentence by his text-books of grammar and rhetoric produces an essay with none but negative merits to recommend it.

Mr. Weyss accompanied General Michler, of the Engineer Corps, on his recent official mission to the different geodetic institutions of Europe, and, having seen the best that the Old World has to show, he still maintains that this is the finest geographical map ever made. Taking into consideration both the subject and the manner of its treatment, this claim is not an extravagant one. In one respect this has an advantage over the maps of the thickly settled European countries, upon which the utilitarian features of roads, villages, and other works of man are so numerous as to obscure the natural attractions of the land, and to give it the uninteresting appearance of a city plot; for too many right angles detract from the beauty of a map as well as from the charm of a landscape. While the advancing wave of civili-