I listened with increasing wonder to Miss Sullivan's descriptions of the great round world with its burning mountains, buried cities, moving rivers of ice, and many other things as strange.
It has already been mentioned that Macgillivray contributed to Audubon's Ornithological Biography a series of descriptions of some parts of the anatomy of American birds, from Mac- gillivray subjects supplied to him by that enthusiastic naturalist, and whose zeal and prescience, it may be called, in this respect merits all praise.
It is curious, for instance, to compare the scanty references to the material marvels of Constantinople which Villehardouin saw in their glory, which perished by sack and fire under his very eyes, and which live chiefly in the melancholy pages of his Greek contemporary Nicetas, with the elaborate descriptions of the scarcely greater wonders of fabulous courts at Constantinople itself, at Babylon, and elsewhere, to be found in his other contemporaries, the later chanson de geste writers and the earlier embroiderers of the Arthurian romances and romans d'aventures.
The pathbreaking works of Lamarck were soon followed by the monumental treatise of Gerard Paul Deshayes (1795-1875) entitled Descriptions des coquilles fossiles des environs de Paris (1824-1837), the first of a series of great contributions by this and other authors.
At any rate, the incontrovertible facts of the Vinland voyages are that Leif and Thorfinn were historical characters, that they visited, in the early part of the 11th century, some part of the American continent south-west of Greenland, that they found natives whose hostility prevented the founding of a permanent settlement, and that the sagas telling of these things are, on the whole, trustworthy descriptions of actual experience.
His imagination is lively, his descriptions graphic, but the impetuosity of his genius cannot find adequate words to express itself, and then he creates new words of which the meaning is not always clear.
Many descriptions of gems and gem stones have been discovered in various parts of the Australian states, but systematic search has been made principally for the diamond and the noble opal.
The graphic descriptions of Hungarian life in the middle and lower classes by Lewis Kuthy won for him temporary renown; but his style, though flowery, is careless.
With ordinary horses, however, it is a good general rule to ride at fences of all descriptions as slowly as the nature of the obstacle admits.
Another special distinction of Cuvier is his remarkable work in comparing extinct with recent organisms, his descriptions of the fossil Mammalia of the Paris basin, and his general application of the knowledge of recent animals to the reconstruction of extinct ones, as indicated by fragments only of their skeletons.