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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

sides were magnificent forests of timber, and for the transportation of

this to the shipyards of the coast the numerous rivers furnished

unlimited facilities. The hills were stored with valuable minerals, and

the streams were alive with fishes. The average temperature of the year,

marking extremes of neither heat nor cold, ranged with pleasant

vicissitude through those medium degrees under which the bodily and

mental powers of man present their greatest vigor and perfection.

It will be seen, moreover, by the thoughtful student of history that

politically considered, Italy had a powerful foundation in nature. On

three sides her position was insular; the enemy must approach by sea. On

the north, the vast bulwark of the Alps, sweeping around from sea to

sea, stood an impassable barrier between the barbarous races, spreading

out toward the Great Dipper and the more refined peoples of the

peninsula. The harbors on both shores, without affording too great

facilities of approach, were sufficiently numerous and commodious. The

general position of Italy, moreover, situated midway between the great

empires of the East and the rising nations of Western Europe, made her a

vantage ground for the development of political power. Nor can it be

said that these great natural advantages of situation have been lost

with the lapse of time and the shifting of national centers. To the

present day the Italian peninsula retains all the native resources

requisite for the germination and growth of a mighty state, the

antecedents of preeminence, the suggestions of empire.

The present climate of Italy has been some what modified from what it

was twenty