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The Black Sea Being Silted Up

As I have started this topic I must not, as most historians do, leave any point undiscussed, or only barely stated. My object is rather to give information, and to clear up doubtful points for my readers. This is the peculiarity of the present day, in which every sea and land has been thrown open to travellers; and in which, therefore, one can no longer employ the evidence of poets and fabulists, as my predecessors have done on very many points, "offering," as Heraclitus says, "tainted witnesses to disputed facts,"—but I must try to make my narrative in itself carry conviction to my readers.

I say then the Pontus has long been in process of being filled up with mud, and that this process is actually going on now: and further, that in process of time both it and the Propontis, assuming the same local conditions to be maintained, and the causes of the alluvial deposit to continue active, will be entirely filled up. For time being infinite, and the depressions most undoubtedly finite, it is plain that, even though the amount of deposit be small, they must in course of time be filled. For a finite process, whether of accretion or decrease, must, if we presuppose infinite time, be eventually completed, however infinitesimal its progressive stages may be. In the present instance the amount of soil deposited being not small, but exceedingly large, it is plain that the result I mentioned will not be remote but rapid. And, in fact, it is evident that it is already taking place. The Maeotic lake is already so much choked up, that the greater part of it is only from seven to five fathoms deep, and accordingly cannot any longer be passed by large ships without a pilot. And having moreover been originally a sea precisely on a level with the Pontus, it is now a freshwater lake: the sea-water has been expelled by the silting up of the bottom, and the discharge of the rivers has entirely overpowered it. The same will happen to the Pontus, and indeed is taking place at this moment; and though it is not evident to ordinary observers, owing to the vastness of its basin, yet a moderately attentive study will discover even now what is going on.

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