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Title: Geology and Revelation - or the Ancient History of the Earth, considered in the - geological facts and revealed religion.
Author: Dana, J. D., Molloy, Rev. Gerald
Language: English
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Sicut Augustinus docet, in hujusmodi quæstionibus duo sunt observanda.
Primo quidem ut Veritas Scripturæ inconcusse teneatur. Secundo, cum
Scriptura Divina multipliciter exponi possit, quod nulli expositioni
aliquis ita præcise inhæreat, ut si certa ratione constiterit hoc esse
falsum quod aliquis sensum Scripturæ esse credebat, id nihilominus
asserere præsumat; ne Scriptura ex hoc ab infidelibus derideatur, et ne
eis via credendi præcludatur.

  S. THOMAS, _De Opere Secundæ Diei_; Summa, Pars 1, Quæst. 68, Art. 1.

As Augustine teacheth, there are two things to be observed in questions
of this kind. First, that the truth of Scripture be inviolably
maintained. Secondly, since Divine Scripture may be explained in
many ways, that no one cling to any particular exposition with such
pertinacity that, if what he supposed to be the teaching of Scripture
should turn out to be plainly false, he would nevertheless presume to
put it forward; lest thereby Sacred Scripture should be exposed to the
derision of unbelievers, and the way of salvation should be closed to

  SAINT THOMAS, _On the Work of the Second Day_.



  Ancient History of the Earth,







  To the American edition; and a chapter on COSMOGONY, [by permission]
  from the Manual of Geology, by Prof. J. D. DANA.


  Stereotyped by LITTLE, RENNIE & CO., 645 and 647 Broadway, N. Y.

  PRESS OF THE NEW YORK PRINTING COMPANY, 81, 83, and 85 Centre St., N. Y.




  _This Volume is Inscribed_,



The progress of modern Science has given rise to not a few objections
against the truths of Revelation. And of these there is none which
seems to have taken such a firm hold of the public mind in England,
and, indeed, throughout Europe generally, as that which is derived from
the interesting and startling discoveries of Geology. Accordingly,
when I was engaged, some years ago, in explaining and defending the
Evidences of Revealed Religion, I found myself brought face to face
with Geological phenomena and Geological speculations.

It was plainly impossible to consider, in a candid and philosophical
spirit, the argument with which I had to deal, so long as I remained
ignorant of the evidence on which it was based. I resolved, therefore,
to make myself familiar with the leading principles and the leading
facts of Geology. And thus I was drawn insensibly into the study of
this science; to which I have devoted, for some years, the greater part
of my leisure hours.

Impressed with the conviction that no fact can be really at variance
with Revealed Truth, I determined, in the first place, to ascertain the
facts which have been brought to light by the researches of Geologists.
The general principles, which might afterward appear to be clearly
involved in these facts when duly classified and arranged, I was fully
prepared to admit. And I hoped, in the end, to search out and discover
the harmony which, I was satisfied, must exist between conclusions thus
established and the Inspired Word of God.

While occupied in working out this problem for myself, it was suggested
to me that others, who had not time or opportunity to pursue the same
line of inquiry, would, perhaps, be glad to share in the fruits of
my studies. In deference to this suggestion I consented, not without
misgivings, to write a series of papers on Geology in its relations
with Revealed Religion, which have appeared, from time to time, in
the _Irish Ecclesiastical Record_. From the attention these papers
attracted, crude and fragmentary as they were, it soon became evident
that the question was not without interest for a large class of
readers. And I have been led to believe that a more full and mature,
but at the same time a popular, Treatise on the subject would be a
welcome accession to ecclesiastical literature, and would supply a want
that has long been felt. Such a Treatise I have proposed to myself in
the present Volume.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Geology I wish to disclaim at the outset, all pretension to original
researches; which my opportunities did not permit, nor the scope of my
Work demand. It was not my object to enlarge the bounds of Geological
knowledge; but rather to ascertain what that knowledge is, and to set
it before my readers in plain and simple words. For this purpose I have
had recourse to the great masters of the science: and have endeavored
to gather into a systematic form the phenomena upon which they are all
agreed; to sketch in outline the general theory about which there is
practically no dispute; and to draw out the line of reasoning by which,
as it seems to me, this theory may be most effectively demonstrated.

Exact references are given to the original authorities on all questions
of importance, and on many points even of minor detail: partly that
I might not seem to claim as my own what belongs to others; partly
that I might consult for the convenience of those who should wish to
investigate more minutely what I have but lightly touched. And here it
may be well to observe, with regard to the two classic works of Sir
Charles Lyell, his _Elements_ and his _Principles_, which have been
reproduced so many times and in so many forms, that I have uniformly
referred to the latest edition of each.

The Woodcuts which illustrate the Volume will, I venture to hope, help
to convey a clear and distinct impression of many natural objects which
can be represented but imperfectly in words. Some of the most striking
and effective are taken from the admirable Manual of Geology brought
out some years ago by the Reverend Doctor Haughton, of Trinity College,
Dublin. My best thanks are due to the learned author for the kindness
with which he placed his Woodblocks at my disposal. I have also to
express my acknowledgments to Sir Charles Lyell, who has allowed me
to reproduce some of the drawings that embellish his works; and to
the eminent publishers, Messrs. Bell and Daldy of London, and Mr.
Nimmo of Edinburgh, who have, with great courtesy, furnished me with
electrotypes of several figures from the works of Doctor Mantell and
Mr. Hugh Miller.

To my colleagues in Maynooth I am much indebted for their judicious
suggestions and friendly assistance during the progress of the Work.
In particular I desire to testify my obligations to our distinguished
Professor of Scripture, the Reverend Doctor M’Carthy, for the unwearied
kindness with which he has allowed me to draw at pleasure on his
profound and extensive knowledge of the Sacred Text.

  G. M.

  _December 1st, 1869_.



Dr. Molloy has, in the present work, made an important contribution
to a department of scientific and theologic literature, which has
already been enriched by the labors of several other Catholic Fathers,
among whom must be mentioned CARDINAL WISEMAN,[1] FATHER PERRONE,[2]
and FATHER PIANCIANI,[3] who, in Italy, maintain substantially, the
same ground which, in England, has been sustained by DR. CHALMERS,
DR. BUCKLAND, PYE SMITH, and HUGH MILLER, and we may now add with
pleasure, by DR. MOLLOY. Names which, in the United States, find their

Reviewing the progress of opinion touching the relations of Science
to Revealed Religion, it is noteworthy that while many Protestant
theologians and writers on both sides of the Atlantic have, until a
recent period, treated the discoveries of science, and especially of
Geology, so far as they affect theological dogmas, in a manner, if
not of contempt, at least of distrust or unfairness: on the contrary,
the Romanist writers who have discussed these themes, have done so,
generally, in a spirit of broad catholicity well calculated to command
the respect it merits. They have shown no sensitiveness or timidity
lest, perchance, their exegesis might be disturbed by candidly
admitting the changes demanded by the discoveries of Science.

The author’s discussion of the principles of Geology evinces much
familiarity both with the science and what is equally important, the
necessities of the unscientific reader. He has presented, in the second
part of his book, an interesting review, infused by copious quotations
from the Christian Fathers, from the time of St. Augustine, showing
that long before Geology had any existence as a science, and of course,
when the discussions and doubts it has excited were unknown, the
essential points respecting Time and the order of Creation had received
careful attention from devout thinkers, and that the conclusions at
which they arrived, on purely theological grounds, were, in most cases,
much the same as those which the best writers of our time deduce from
Geological evidence.

It is now thirty-five years since (1835) CARDINAL, then DR. WISEMAN,
delivered in Rome, before the English College, of which he was the
head, his Lectures, already referred to, on the connection between
Science and Religion, in the fifth and sixth of which he considers more
particularly the Geological argument. The spirit of these lectures
was a just rebuke to the narrow bigotry of such writers as MR. CROLY,
FAIRHOLM, and GRANVILLE PENN, as well as certain American theologians,
who, by means of arrogance and denunciation, sought to silence the
voice of truth, as proclaimed in the language of discovery, announcing
the nature and the extent of those changes in life and in physical
development which are recorded in the Genesis of the Rocks, because
they conceived these immutable truths must of necessity conflict with
the Genesis of Moses; the real conflict being only with their narrow
interpretations. With rare moral courage DR. WISEMAN grappled with the
great questions discussed so well in his lectures, at a time when there
prevailed, with reference to such themes, a very wide-spread distrust,
even among men of moderate opinions. In fact, the candor and courtesy
displayed by DR. WISEMAN in his lectures, presents an enviable contrast
to the acrimony of many theologians, and worthy of all praise, and
in harmony with the learning and good taste which characterize his

DR. MOLLOY is a worthy disciple of the same school, and we are glad to
find in him the same candor and liberality which it is certainly to be
hoped he will receive at the hands of those who may differ from him.
His geological arguments and illustrations are very naturally drawn,
chiefly from British authorities. It is evident that the condition
of opinion upon these matters among religious teachers and readers
in Great Britain is less advanced than it is in this country or in
continental Europe. Our author has obviously but little familiarity
with the American literature of this subject. The similarity in some
parts of his book both in thought and style with the writings on this
subject of the late PROFESSOR SILLIMAN, of Yale College, is quite
noticeable. He has obviously not seen the writings of DR. HITCHCOCK, of
GUYOT, of DANA, and of other American writers. We have therefore by the
kind permission of the author reproduced in this edition the chapter
on COSMOGONY from PROFESSOR DANA’S _Manual of Geology_.[4] The views
set forth, in a very condensed form, in this chapter, embrace also the
ideas of PROFESSOR ARNOLD GUYOT, of Princeton, as presented by him in
his unpublished lecture upon the same subject.

American readers will remember also that PROFESSOR DANA has discussed
this subject much more at length in a series of papers published in the
_Bibliotheca Sacra_,[5] in a review of DR. TAYLER LEWIS’S _Six Days of
Creation_.[6] It is greatly to be desired that PROFESSOR DANA should
soon make a revised edition of his various writings upon this subject,
a work which would be received with interest on both sides of the

We do not propose here to present the bibliography of this subject with
any completeness, but we desire to mention, to those who have not seen
it, a little volume of excellent spirit by DR. JOS. P. THOMPSON, of
New York, entitled _Man in Genesis and Geology_,[7] which discusses
chiefly the relations of man to creation, in seven lectures, the first
of which is an “Outline of Creation in Genesis.” Even as we write
another small volume on this subject comes to hand under the title of
_Chemical History of the Six Days of Creation_,[8] by MR. JOHN PHIN,
which also contains the substance of a series of lectures delivered by
the author, who handles his theme in a spirit equally reverential and
scientific, and well calculated to do good.

Those who desire to know the best exposition of this subject at the
hands of a modern theologian will read the first part of DR. LANGE’S
_Genesis, or the First Book of Moses_,[9] in DR. TAYLER LEWIS’S
translation, pp. 159-177. The candid and scholarly spirit of the
learned authors of this work indicates a marked change in discussions
of this nature when compared with similar literature of the last

These few suggestions, chiefly on the American literature of this
subject, are offered in the belief that some readers may be glad to
know where to turn for similar discussions, while DR. MOLLOY will
certainly not misinterpret our kindly intentions in suggesting to him
some contemporary sources of information to most of which he very
probably had no means of access when his excellent work was prepared.

JULY, 1870.





  Scope of the Work explained--Geology looked on with Suspicion
  by Christians--hailed with Triumph by Unbelievers--no Contradiction
  possible between the Works of Nature and the Word of
  God--Author not jealous of Progress in Geological Discoveries--Points
  of Contact between Geology and Revelation--the
  Question stated--the Answer--Division of the Work,                  25





  Geology defined--Facts and Theories--Recent Progress of Geology
  --Stratification of Rocks--Aqueous Rocks; of Mechanical
  Origin--of Chemical Origin--of Organic Origin--Igneous
  Rocks, Plutonic and Volcanic--Metamorphic Rocks--Summary
  of the Rocks that compose the Crust of the Earth--Relative
  Order of Position--Internal Condition of the Globe--Movements
  of the Earth’s Crust--Subterranean Disturbing Force--Uplifting
  and Bending of Strata--Denudation and its Causes--Fossil
  Remains--their Value in Geological Theory,                          30



  Principle of Reasoning common to all the Physical Sciences--This
  Principle applicable to Geology--Carbonic Acid an Agent of
  Denudation--Vast Quantity of Lime dissolved by the Waters of
  the Rhine and borne away to the German Ocean--Disintegration
  of Rocks by Frost--Professor Tyndall on the Matterhorn--Running
  Water--its Erosive Power--an active and unceasing Agent
  of Denudation--Mineral Sediment carried out to Sea by the
  Ganges and other great Rivers--Solid Rocks undermined and
  worn away--Falls of the Clyde at Lanark--Excavating Power
  of Rivers in Auvergne and Sicily--Falls of Niagara--Transporting
  Power of Running Water--Floods in Scotland--Inundation
  in the Valley of Bagnes in Switzerland,                             47



  The Breakers of the Ocean--Caverns and Fairy Bridges of Kilkee--Italy
  and Sicily--The Shetland Islands--East and South
  Coast of Britain--Tracts of Land swallowed up by the Sea--Island
  of Heligoland--Northstrand--Tides and Currents--South
  Atlantic Current--Equatorial Current--The Gulf Stream--its
  Course described--Examples of its Power as an Agent of
  Transport,                                                          61



  Glaciers--their Nature and Composition--their unceasing Motion
  --Powerful Agents of Denudation--Icebergs--their Number
  and Size--Erratic Blocks and loose Gravel spread out over
  Mountains, Plains, and Valleys, at the Bottom of the Sea
  --Characteristic Marks of moving Ice--Evidence of ancient Glacial
  Action--Illustrations from the Alps--from the Mountains of
  the Jura--Theory applied to Northern Europe--to Scotland,
  Wales, and Ireland--The Fact of Denudation established--Summary
  of the Evidence--This Fact the first Step in Geological
  Theory,                                                             71



  Formation of Stratified Rocks ascribed to the Agency of Natural
  Causes--This Theory supported by Facts--The Argument
  stated--Examples of Mechanical Rocks--Materials of which
  they are composed--Origin and History of these Materials
  traced out--Process of Deposition--Process of Consolidation
  --Instances of Consolidation by Pressure--Consolidation perfected
  by Natural Cements--Curious Illustrations--Consolidation of
  Sandstone in Cornwall--Arrangement of Strata explained by
  intermittent Action of the Agents of Denudation,                    87



  Impossible to witness the Formation of Stratified Rocks in the
  Depths of the Ocean--On a small scale Examples are exhibited
  by Rivers and Lakes--Alluvial Plains--their extraordinary Fertility
  --Great Basin of the Nile--Experiments of the Royal Society--The
  Mississippi and the Orinoco--Some Rivers fill up
  their own Channels--Case of the River Po--Artificial Embankments--Large
  Tract of Alluvial Soil deposited by the Rhone in
  the Lake of Geneva--Deltas--The Delta of the Ganges and
  Brahmapootra--Delta of the Nile,                                   100



  Chemical Agency employed in the Formation of Mechanical Rocks--But
  some Rocks produced almost exclusively by the Action of
  Chemical Laws--Difference between a Mixture and a Solution--a
  Saturated Solution--Stalactites and Stalagmites--Fantastic
  Columns in Limestone Caverns--The Grotto of Antiparos in
  the Grecian Archipelago--Wyer’s Cave in the Blue Mountains
  of America--Travertine Rock in Italy--Growth of Limestone
  in the Solfatara Lake near Tivoli--Incrustations of the Anio
  --Formation of Travertine at the Baths of San Filippo and San
  Vignone,                                                           109



  Nature of Organic Rocks--Carbonate of Lime extracted from the
  Sea by the Intervention of minute Animalcules--Chalk Rock--its
  vast Extent--supposed to be of Organic Origin--A Stratum
  of the same kind now growing up on the Floor of the Atlantic
  Ocean--Coral Reefs and Islands--their general Appearance--their
  Geographical Distribution--their Organic Origin--Structure
  of the Zoophyte--Various Illustrations--Agency of the
  Zoophyte in the Construction of Coral Rock--How the sunken
  Reef is converted into an Island--and peopled with Plants and
  Animals--Difficulty proposed and considered--Hypothesis of
  Mr. Darwin--Coral Limestone in the solid Crust of the Earth,       118



  Origin of Coal--Evident Traces of Plants and Trees in Coal
  Mines--Coal made up of the same Elements as Wood--Beds of
  Coal found resting upon Clay in which are preserved the Roots
  of Trees--Insensible Transition from Wood to Coal--Forest-covered
  Swamps--Accumulations of Drift Wood in Lakes and
  Estuaries--Peat Bogs--Beds of Lignite--Seams of pure Coal
  with half Carbonized Trees, some lying prostrate, some standing
  erect--Summary of the Argument hitherto pursued--Objection
  to this Argument from the Omnipotence of God--Answer to
  the Objection,                                                     141



  Recapitulation--Scope of our Argument--Theory of Stratified
  Rocks the Framework of Geological Science--This Theory
  brings Geology into Contact with Revelation--The Line of Reasoning
  hitherto pursued confirmed by the Testimony of Fossil
  Remains--Meaning of the Word Fossil--Inexhaustible Abundance
  of Fossils--Various States of Preservation--Petrifaction--Experiments
  of Professor Göppert--Organic Rocks afford
  some Insight into the Fossil World--The Reality and Significance
  of Fossil Remains must be learned from Observation--The
  British Museum--Colossal Skeletons--Bones and Shells of
  Animals--Fossil Plants and Trees,                                  156



  From the Museum to the Quarry--Fossil Fish in the Limestone
  Rocks of Monte Bolca--in the Quarries of Aix--in the Chalk
  of Sussex--The Ichthyosaurus or Fish-like Lizard--Gigantic
  Dimensions of this Ancient Monster--its Predatory Habits--The
  Plesiosaurus--The Megatherium or great Wild Beast--History
  of its Discovery--the Mylodon--Profusion of Fossil
  Shells--Petrified Trees erect in the Limestone Rock of Portland--Fossil
  Plants of the Coal Measures--The Sigillaria--The
  Fern--The Calamite--The Lepidodendron--Coal Mine of Treuil--Fossil
  Remains afford undeniable Evidence of former Animal
  and Vegetable Life--Their Existence cannot be accounted for
  by the Plastic Power of Nature--nor can it reasonably be
  ascribed to a Special Act of Creation,                             172



  Significance of Fossil Remains--Science of Palæontology--Classification
  of existing Animal Life--Fossil Remains are found to
  fit in with this Classification--Succession of Organic Life--Time
  in Geology not measured by Years and Centuries--Successive
  Periods marked by Successive Forms of Life--The Geologist
  aims at arranging these Periods in Chronological Order--Position
  of the various Groups of Strata not sufficient for this purpose--It
  is accomplished chiefly through the aid of Fossil
  Remains--Mode of proceeding practically explained--Chronological
  Table,                                                             198



  Summary of the History of Stratified Rocks--Striking Characteristics
  of certain Formations--Human Remains found only in
  superficial Deposits--Gradual Transition from the Organic Life
  of one Period to that of the next--Evidence in favor of this
  Opinion--Advance from Lower to Higher Types of Organic
  Life as we ascend from the Older to the more Recent Formations
  --Economic Value of Geological Chronology--Illustration--Search
  for Coal--the Practical Man at Fault--the Geologist
  comes to his aid, and saves him from useless Expense,              217



  Theory of Stratified Rocks supposes Disturbances of the Earth’s
  Crust--These Disturbances ascribed by Geologists to the Action
  of subterranean Heat--The Existence of Subterranean Heat,
  and its Power to move the Crust of the Earth, proved by direct
  Evidence--Supposed Igneous Origin of our Globe--Remarkable
  Increase of Temperature as we descend into the Earth’s Crust--Hot
  Springs--Artesian Wells--Steam issuing from Crevices
  in the Earth--The Geysers of Iceland--A Glimpse of the subterranean
  Fires--Mount Vesuvius in 1779--Vast Extent of
  Volcanic Action--Existence of subterranean Heat an established
  fact,                                                              233



  Effects of subterranean Heat in the present Age of the World--Vast
  Accumulations of solid Matter from the Eruptions of Volcanos--Buried
  Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum--Curious
  Relics of Roman Life--Monte Nuovo--Eruption of Jorullo in
  the Province of Mexico--Sumbawa in the Indian Archipelago--Volcanos
  in Iceland--Mountain Mass of Etna the Product of
  Volcanic Eruptions--Volcanic Islands--In the Atlantic--in the
  Mediterranean--Santorin in the Grecian Archipelago,                244



  Earthquakes and Volcanos proceed from the same common Cause--Recent
  Earthquakes in New Zealand--Vast Tracts of Land
  permanently upraised--Earthquakes of Chili in the present Century
  --Crust of the Earth elevated--Earthquake of Cutch in
  India, 1819--Remarkable Instance of Subsidence and Upheaval--Earthquake
  of Calabria, 1783--Earthquake of Lisbon, 1755--Great
  Destruction of Life and Property--Earthquake of Peru,
  August, 1868--General Scene of Ruin and Devastation--Great
  Sea Wave--A Ship with all her Crew carried a Quarter of a
  Mile inland--Frequency of Earthquakes,                             258



  Gentle Movements of the Earth’s Crust within Historic Times--Roman
  Roads and Temples submerged in the Bay of Baiæ--Temple
  of Jupiter Serapis--Singular Condition of its Columns--Proof
  of Subsidence and subsequent Upheaval--Indications
  of a second Subsidence now actually taking place--Gradual
  Upheaval of the Coast of Sweden--Summary of the Evidence
  adduced to establish this Fact--Subsidence of the Earth’s Crust
  on the West Coast of Greenland--Recapitulation,                    271





  The General Principles of Geological Theory accepted by the Author
  --These Principles plainly import the extreme Antiquity
  of the Earth--Illustration from the Coal, the Chalk, and the
  Boulder Clay--This Conclusion not at Variance with the Inspired
  History of the Creation--Chronology of the Bible--Genealogies
  of Genesis--Date of the Creation not fixed by Moses--Progress
  of Opinion on this Point--Cardinal Wiseman, Father
  Peronne, Father Pianciani--Doctor Buckland, Doctor Chalmers,
  Doctor Pye Smith, Hugh Miller--Author’s View explained--Charge
  of Rashness and Irreverence answered--Admonitions
  of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas,                               280



  The Heavens and the Earth were created before the First Mosaic
  Day--Objection from Exodus, xx. 9-11--Answer--Interpretation
  of the Author supported by the best Commentators--Confirmed
  by the Hebrew Text--The Early Fathers commonly held
  the Existence of created Matter prior to the Work of the Six
  Days--Saint Basil, Saint Chrysostom, Saint Ambrose, Venerable
  Bede--The most eminent Doctors in the Schools concurred
  in this Opinion--Peter Lombard, Hugh of Saint Victor, Saint
  Thomas--Also Commentators and Theologians--Perrerius,
  Petavius--Distinguished Names on the other side, A Lapide,
  Tostatus, Saint Augustine--The Opinion is at least not at
  Variance with the Voice of Tradition--This Period of created
  Existence may have been of indefinite Length--And the Earth
  may have been furnished then as now with countless Tribes of
  Plants and Animals--Objections to this Hypothesis proposed
  and explained,                                                     300



  Diversity of Opinion among the Early Fathers regarding the Days
  of Creation--Saint Augustine, Philo Judæus, Clement of Alexandria,
  Origen, Saint Athanasius, Saint Eucherius, Procopius--Albertus
  Magnus, Saint Thomas, Cardinal Cajetan--Inference
  from these Testimonies--First Argument in favor of the
  popular Interpretation; a Day, in the literal Sense, means a
  Period of Twenty-four Hours--Answer--This Word often used
  in Scripture for an indefinite Period--Examples from the Old
  and New Testament--Second Argument; the Days of Creation
  have an Evening and a Morning--Answer--Interpretation of
  Saint Augustine, Venerable Bede, and other Fathers of the
  Church--Third Argument; the Reason alleged for the Institution
  of the Sabbath Day--Answer--The Law of the Sabbath
  extended to every Seventh Year as well as to every Seventh Day--The
  Seventh Day of God’s Rest a long Period of indefinite
  Duration,                                                          318



  Summary of the Argument--Striking Coincidence between the
  Order of Creation as set forth in the Narrative of Moses and in
  the Records of Geology--Comparison illustrated and developed--Scheme
  of Adjustment between the Periods of Geology and
  the Days of Genesis--Tabular View of this Scheme--Objections
  considered--It is not to be regarded as an established Theory,
  but as an admissible Hypothesis--Either the first Hypothesis
  or the second is sufficient to meet the demands of Geology as
  regards the Antiquity of the Earth--Not necessary to suppose
  that the Sacred Writer was made acquainted with the long Ages
  of Geological Time--He simply records faithfully that which
  was committed to his charge--The Mosaic History of Creation
  stands alone, without Rivals or Competitors,                       343




  1. Granitic Rocks off the Shetland Islands,                         63

  2. Iceberg seen in mid ocean, 1400 miles from land,                 75

  3. Block of Limestone Rock with Glacial-markings,                   78

  4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Examples of living Zoophytes:
          Campanularia Gelatinosa; Gorgonia Patula,                  131
          Frustra Pilosa; Madrepora Plantaginea,                     132
          Corallium Rubrum,                                          133

  9, 10. Fossil Ferns from the Coal Measures,                        143

  11. Trunk and roots of a forest tree; found erect in a Coal
      Mine, near Liverpool,                                          152

  12. Fossil Irish Deer,                                             163

  13. Fossil Wood, showing the rings of annual growth,               171

  14, 15. Fossil Fish from Monte Bolea in Italy,                173, 174

  16. Group of several Fossil Fish in one block of Limestone,        176

  17. Fossil Fish from the Chalk Rock of Sussex,                     177

  18, 19. Two Skeletons of the Ichthyosaurus, from the Lias of
      Dorsetshire, preserved in the Museum of Trinity College,
      Dublin,                                                        179

  20. Plesiosaurus Cramptonii, from the Lias of Yorkshire,
      preserved in the Museum of the Royal Dublin Society,           182

  21. The Megatherium, or Great Wild Beast,                          185

  22. The Mylodon Robustus,                                          186

  23. Section of a Quarry in the Island of Portland, showing the
      stumps of an ancient forest standing erect in the solid rock,  189

  24. Calamite from the Coal Measures of Newcastle,                  191

  25. Lepidodendron Sternbergii; a forest tree erect in a Coal Mine, 192

  26. Lepidodendron Elegans; Stem and branches, from a Coal Mine,
      near Newcastle,                                                193

  27. Section of a Coal Mine near Lyons, showing an ancient forest
      enveloped in Sandstone,                                        194

  28. Bird’s-eye View of Santorin during the volcanic eruption
      of 1866,                                                       255


  Table of Stratified Rocks Chronologically arranged,                211

  Table of Geological Formations, showing the first appearance on
    the Earth of the various forms of Animal Life,                   226

  Table exhibiting the Genealogies of Genesis according to the
    various Readings of the three most ancient Versions, the
    Hebrew, the Samaritan, and the Septuagint,                       291

  Table representing a possible Adjustment of the Mosaic Days with
    the Periods of Geology,                                          251




    _Scope of the work explained--Geology looked on with suspicion
    by Christians--Hailed with triumph by Unbelievers--No
    contradiction possible between the works of Nature and the
    Word of God--Author not jealous of progress in Geological
    Discoveries--Points of contact between Geology and
    Revelation--The question stated--The answer--Division of the

Among the various pursuits that engage the human mind, there are few so
attractive as Geology, none so important as Revelation. Each of these
two studies has an interest peculiar to itself. The one is chiefly
concerned about the world in which we are living: the other about the
world to which we are hastening. Geology leads us down into the depths
of the Earth, and there, unfolding to our view a long series of strange
unwritten records impressed on lasting monuments by the hand of Nature,
it proceeds to trace back the history of our Globe through myriads of
ages into the distant past. Revelation, on the other hand, comes to us
from above; and setting forth the far more wonderful records of God’s
dealings with man, holds out the hope of another world “everlasting in
the heavens”[10] which shall still remain when this earth and all the
works that are therein shall have melted away with fervent heat.[11]

But, it may be asked, why should two such incongruous topics be set
down for discussion side by side? To answer this question is to explain
the scope and design of the present work. We are not going to write a
Manual of Geology; nor yet a Treatise on Revelation. Taken separately,
these two subjects have been handled with eminent skill and ability;
the one by the votaries of Science, the other by the friends of
Theology. It is our purpose to consider them not so much in themselves
as in their mutual relations: to compare the conclusions of Geology
with the truths of Revelation; and to inquire if it be possible to
accept the one and yet not to abandon the other.

An uneasy apprehension has long prevailed among devout Christians, and
a declared conviction among a large class of unbelievers, that the
discoveries of Geology are at variance with the facts recorded in the
Book of Genesis. Now, the historical narrative of Genesis lies at the
very foundation of all Revealed Religion. Hence the science of Geology,
has come to be looked on with suspicion by the simple-minded faithful,
and to be hailed with joy, as a new and powerful auxiliary, by that
infidel party which, in these latter days, has assumed a position so
bold and defiant. It is now confidently asserted that we cannot uphold
the teaching of Revelation, unless we shut our eyes to the evidence of
Geology; and that we cannot pursue the study of Geology, if we are not
prepared to renounce our belief in the doctrines of Revelation.

Vet surely this cannot be. Truth cannot be at variance with truth. If
God has recorded the history of our Globe, as Geologists maintain, on
imperishable monuments within the Crust of the Earth, we may be quite
sure He has not contradicted that Record in His Written Word. There
may be for a time, indeed, a conflict between the student of Nature and
the student of Revelation. Each is liable to error when he undertakes
to interpret the record that is placed in his hands. Many a brilliant
Geological theory, received at first with unbounded applause, has been
dissipated by the progress of discovery even within the lifetime of its
author. On the other hand, it cannot be denied that Theologians have
sometimes imputed to the Bible that which the Bible does not teach.
Learned and pious men--Protestants and Catholics alike--once believed
that the Book of Joshua represents the succession of day and night
as produced by the revolution of the Sun around the Earth: whereas
it is now considered quite plain that the Book of Joshua, properly
understood, teaches nothing of the kind; but that the Inspired Writer,
in describing a wonderful phenomenon of Nature, simply employs the
language of men according to the established usage of his time. We need
not wonder, therefore, that a conflict of opinion should sometimes
arise between the Geologist and the Theologian; but a conflict there
cannot be between the story which God has described on His works and
the story He has recorded in His Written Word.

Though we come forward, therefore, among those whose duty and whose
glory it is to uphold Revelation, we are by no means jealous of the
wonderful ardor, and we may add, the wonderful success, with which the
study of Geology has been lately pursued. We have too much confidence
in the truth of our cause to apprehend that it can suffer in any way
from the progress of Natural Science. It is our conviction, rather,
that the more thoroughly the works of Nature are understood, the
more perfectly they will be found to harmonize with the truths of
Revelation. We are not afraid, therefore, to venture into the realms
of Geology and to come face to face with its discoveries. Too long,
perhaps, has this interesting and popular science been neglected by
those who are ranged under the banner of Religion. Let it be ours to
show that the study of God’s works is not incompatible with the belief
in God’s Word; and that it is quite possible to investigate the ancient
history of the world we inhabit without forfeiting our right to a

The points of contact between Geology and Revelation are chiefly these
two:--First, the Antiquity of the Earth; Secondly, the Antiquity of the
Human Race. In the present Volume we shall confine our attention to the
Antiquity of the Earth. The subject that offers itself for discussion
may be stated in a few words. Geologists maintain that the Crust of the
Earth has been slowly built up by means of a long series of operations
which would require hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of years
for their accomplishment: whereas the Bible narrative, it is alleged,
allows but the short lapse of six or eight thousand years from the
creation of the world to the present time. The Geological record, then,
seems to contradict the Mosaic; and the question is, how this apparent
contradiction is to be explained.

Some have ventured to solve the problem by rejecting the historical
narrative of the Bible: others by ignoring the plain facts of Geology.
But there is a third class of writers, including many names of the
highest eminence and authority, who contend that we may admit the
extreme Antiquity of our Globe, which Geology so imperatively demands,
without compromising in the smallest degree the truthfulness of the
Mosaic story. They say that the Chronology of the Bible stops short
with Adam, and does not go back to the beginning of the world. By
means of the data which the Bible supplies we may calculate, at least
roughly, the lapse of time from the Creation of Adam to the Birth of
Christ. But from the first beginning of all created things, when God
made the Heavens and the Earth, to the close of the Sixth Day when Adam
was introduced upon the scene, that is an interval which, in the Bible
narrative, is left altogether undefined and uncertain. This is the
view which we hope to develop and to illustrate in the course of the
following pages.

Our task naturally divides itself into two parts. First, it will be
our duty to consider the received theory of Geology, and to examine
in detail some of the interesting and wonderful phenomena on which
it is founded. This course of investigation, while it is plainly
indispensable for the intelligent appreciation of our subject, cannot
fail at the same time to unfold many new and striking views of the
Power, and the Goodness, and the Providence of God. “For the invisible
things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being
understood by the things that are made; even His eternal Power and

In the Second Part we shall consider the Antiquity of the Earth in
reference to the History of Genesis. It will be our purpose to show
that, as far as the Bible narrative is concerned, an interval of
countless ages may have elapsed between the first creation of the
Heavens and the Earth and the beginning of the Six Mosaic Days.
Furthermore, we shall contend that, without any prejudice to the Sacred
History, we may suppose these Days themselves to have been, not days
in the ordinary sense of the word, but long and indefinite Periods of
Time. If we succeed in establishing these views, it will be obvious
to infer that, while the Bible enables us to determine, at least by
approximation, the Age of the Human Race, it allows time without limit
for the past history of the Earth.






    _Geology defined--Facts and Theories--Recent progress of
    Geology--Stratification of Rocks--Aqueous Rocks; of Mechanical
    Origin--of Chemical Origin--of Organic Origin--Igneous Rocks,
    Plutonic and Volcanic--Metamorphic Rocks--Summary of the
    Rocks that compose the Crust of the Earth--Relative order
    of position--Internal condition of the Globe--Movements of
    the Earth’s Crust--Subterranean disturbing force--Uplifting
    and bending of Strata--Denudation and its Causes--Fossil
    Remains--Their Value in Geological Theory._

The object of Geology is to examine and record the appearances
presented by the Crust of the Earth; and by the aid of these
appearances, to trace out the long series of events by which it has
been brought into its present condition. Geology, therefore, like
all other natural sciences, is made up partly of fact, and partly of
theory. It belongs to the Geologist first to investigate the phenomena
which the Crust of the Earth exhibits to the eye. For this purpose he
descends into the mine and the quarry; he visits the lofty cliff by
the sea-shore, the deep ravine on the mountain side, the cutting of a
railway; in a word, every spot where a section of the Earth’s Crust is
exposed to view, either by the action of Nature or by the hand of man.
He then retires into the silence of his closet, with his note-book and
his specimens; and there, having arranged and classified the various
phenomena which he has already examined with his eyes in the outer
world, he proceeds to make his deductions, and to build up his theory.
He seeks to explain how materials, so diverse in their composition,
have come to be piled up together, with such admirable order, and yet
with such endless variety; and how the solid rocks have come to be the
repository of petrified trees and plants and bones and shells, which
seem, as it were, to start up from their graves, and to tell strange
stories of a bygone world.

In the early days of Geology there were comparatively few who devoted
themselves with patient industry to the collection and classification
of facts: while the number was legion of those who, with a very
meagre knowledge of facts, set themselves to build up systems. A
vast multitude of different and conflicting theories were, in this
way, brought into existence, and attracted for a time much public
attention, each one being vehemently defended by its friends and as
vehemently assailed by its enemies. These theories resting on no solid
foundation, could not hold their ground against the advancing tide of
new discoveries. They flourished for a brief space, and then gave way
to others scarcely more substantial, which were destined in their turn
to be likewise rejected and forgotten. Thus it came to pass, from the
manifest instability of its principles, that Geology was long held
in light repute, and practical men set little store by its boasted
discoveries and startling revelations.

But it would be unjust and unphilosophical to condemn the modern theory
of Geologists because of their past errors. We must judge of this
science, not according to what it once was in the feebleness of its
infancy, but according to what it now is in the growing strength of its
mature years. It seems to be in the nature of things that groundless
speculations and wild conjectures go before, and sober Science follows
in their wake. The visionary dreams of the Alchemist led the way to
the science of Chemistry, and the idle fancies of the Astrologist have
given place to the marvellous discoveries of Astronomy. So, too, amidst
the confused mass of conflicting arguments and opinions, by which the
phenomena of Geology were for a long time enveloped and obscured, the
seeds of a new science were slowly germinating. New facts were eagerly
sought after to support or to impugn the favorite theory of the hour;
and though theory after theory passed away, yet the facts remained. In
course of time this accumulation of facts became broad and deep and
solid enough to form a sound basis for inductive reasoning; and thus
almost within our own days Geology may be fairly said to have assumed
the rank and dignity of a science.

During the last quarter of a century it has been studied with a more
ardent enthusiasm than, perhaps, any other science in England, in
France, in Germany, and in America. It has been studied, too, upon
better principles than before: less attention has been paid to the
building up of theories, and far more pains and labor have been
expended on the careful investigation of natural phenomena. There are
still, no doubt, different schools of Geologists which are divided
among themselves as regards many important details of theory; but
there are some general conclusions upon which all Geologists are
substantially agreed, and which, they assure us, are established by
evidence that is absolutely irresistible. It is to these conclusions we
wish to invite the attention of our readers; for they bear very closely
on the question of the Antiquity of the Earth.

Geologists tell us, then, that the materials of which the Earth’s
Crust is composed, are not heaped together in a confused mass, but are
disposed with evident marks of definite and systematic arrangement.
This is an important truth, of which many examples are familiar to us
all, though perhaps we do not all attend to their significance. Thus
in a quarry, we see commonly enough first a bed of limestone, then
above that a bed of gravel, and higher still a bed of clay: and even
the limestone itself is not usually a compact mass, but is arranged in
successive layers, something like the successive courses of masonry in
a building. Now it appears that a very large proportion of the Earth’s
Crust is made up in this way of successive layers, or _strata_, as
they are called by Geologists. These _strata_ are composed of various
substances, such as clay, chalk, sand, lime, and coal; and they present
everywhere the same general appearances. They are known under the
common name of Aqueous Rocks,[13] because it is believed that they
were originally formed under water; and here it is that the professors
of Geology first come into collision with the popular notions that
formerly prevailed.

They hold that these stratified rocks were not arranged as we see them
now, when the Earth first came from the hands of its Creator, but have
been formed, during the lapse of unnumbered ages, by the operation
of natural causes. Nay more, they have divided the rocks into sundry
classes, and they undertake to explain the particular process by which
each several variety has been produced. First in order and importance
are those which derive their existence from the mechanical force of
moving water. The materials of which they are composed first existed in
the form of minute particles, which were transported by the action of
water from one place to another; then they were spread out over a given
surface, just as we now see layers of sand, or mud, or gravel deposited
near the mouths of rivers, or in the estuaries of the sea, or even upon
the land itself during temporary inundations. Lastly, after a long
interval came the slow but certain process of consolidation. The fine
sand was cemented together and became sandstone; the loose gravel by a
similar process was transformed into a solid mass, known by the name of
Conglomerate or Pudding-stone; while the soft mud by simple pressure
was converted into a kind of slaty clay, called Shale. Thus from age to
age Nature was ever building up new strata, and consolidating the old.

Next in order are the Aqueous Rocks, which owe their origin to the
agency of chemical laws. To this class belong many of our limestone
formations. Large quantities of carbonate of lime are held in solution
by water charged with carbonic acid gas: when the carbonic acid, in
course of time, passes off, the carbonate of lime can no longer be held
in solution, and it is accordingly precipitated in a solid form to
the bottom. In this manner was formed that peculiar kind of limestone
called Travertine, which abounds in Italy, and which is well known
to all who have visited Rome, as the stone of which the Coliseum was
built. A still more familiar example, on a small scale, is seen in the
case of Stalactites and Stalagmites. Water saturated with carbonic
acid trickles down the sides, or drops from the roof of a limestone
cavern. In its course it dissolves carbonate of lime, and holds it
in solution; afterward, reaching the floor of the cavern, it slowly
evaporates and leaves behind it a thin sheet of limestone which is
called a Stalagmite; while the icicle-like pendants that are formed by
a similar process, on the roof of the cavern, are called Stalactites.

There is a third class of Aqueous Rocks which are supposed to be
made up almost exclusively of the fragmentary remains of plants and
animals, and are therefore called Organic. The well-known coral reefs,
so dreaded by the sailor in tropical seas, are believed to be nothing
more than a mass of stony skeletons belonging to the minute marine
animalcules known among zoologists as Polyps or Zoophytes. These
little creatures, existing together in countless multitudes, extract
carbonate of lime from the waters of the ocean in which they dwell, and
by the action of their living organs, convert it into a solid frame
or skeleton, which is called coral. From generation to generation the
same process has been going on during the long succession of Geological
ages; and huge masses of coral rock, hundreds of miles in length, have
thus been slowly built up from fathomless depths of the ocean to within
a few feet of its surface. Our vast coal formations, on the other hand,
afford a ready example of rocks which are chiefly composed of vegetable

So much for the Aqueous or Stratified Rocks. Geology next brings before
us another and a very different group, of which the origin is ascribed
to fire, and which are consequently designated by the title of Igneous
Rocks. In their general appearance they are chiefly distinguished
from the former by the absence of regular stratification; but they
are, nevertheless, intersected by numerous planes of division, or
joints, as they are called, and thus divided into blocks of various
size and form. Geologists believe that these rocks were at one time
reduced to a molten state by the action of intense heat, and afterward
allowed slowly to cool and to crystallize. They are divided into two
classes, the Plutonic and the Volcanic. The Plutonic Rocks are chiefly
granite of some kind or another; and though they now often appear at
the surface, they are supposed to have been produced originally at
a considerable depth within the crust of the Earth, “or sometimes,
perhaps, under a certain weight of incumbent ocean.”[14] The Volcanic
Rocks have been formed at or near the surface of the Earth, and, as the
name implies, they are usually ejected, in a state of fusion, from the
fissures of an active volcano; though not unfrequently they assume the
more imposing form of basaltic columns, as at the Giant’s Causeway in
Ireland, or on the island of Staffa near the coast of Argyleshire in

One group of rocks yet remains to be noticed. They have been called
by various names at different times, but are now generally designated
by the term Metamorphic. In some respects they resemble the Aqueous
Rocks, while, in others, they are more nearly allied to the Igneous.
Like the former, they are stratified in their outward arrangement;
like the latter, they are more or less crystalline in their internal
texture. As to their origin, we are told that they were first deposited
under water, like the Aqueous Rocks, and that afterward their internal
structure was altered by the agency of subterranean heat. Hence the
name Metamorphic, first suggested by Sir Charles Lyell, which conveys
the idea that these rocks have undergone a _change of form_. To this
group belong many varieties of slate, and also the far-famed statuary
marble of Italy.

Our readers will perceive from this brief outline that, if we follow
the theory of Geologists, the rocks which compose the Crust of the
Earth may be conveniently divided, according to their origin, into
three leading groups, the Aqueous, the Igneous, and the Metamorphic.
The Aqueous are formed under water, either by the mechanical force of
the water itself when in motion, or by the agency of chemical laws,
or by the intervention of organic life. Hence they are naturally
subdivided into three classes, the Mechanical, the Chemical, the
Organic. The Igneous Rocks are produced by heat, being first melted
and then allowed to cool. When this process takes place under great
pressure in the depths of the Earth, the result is granite; and the
granite Rocks are called Plutonic: when near the surface, through the
agency of a volcano, the Rocks so formed are called Volcanic. Lastly,
the Metamorphic Rocks are nothing else than Aqueous Rocks, of which the
texture has been altered by the action of intense heat.

As regards the relative order of position amongst these various classes
of rocks, the lowest place seems uniformly to belong to the granitic or
Plutonic group. It is true that the granite will often appear at the
surface of the Earth; but wherever there is a series of rocks piled one
above the other, the granite will always be the lowest. This assertion
is based on two broad facts; first, whenever we get to the bottom
of the other rocks, they are always found to rest on granite; and
secondly, no other rock has ever yet been found beneath it. From this
circumstance granite is conceived to be the solid foundation of the
Earth’s Crust, and so is often called fundamental granite. Above the
granite the Aqueous Rocks have been slowly spread out layer by layer
during the long lapse of ages, now in this part of the world, now in
that, according as each in its turn was exposed to the action of water.
The Volcanic Rocks do not occur in any fixed order of succession. They
are distributed irregularly over almost every country of the globe,
occurring sometimes in the form of cone-shaped mountains, sometimes in
the form of stately pillars, and sometimes in the form of massive solid
walls, called Dykes, forced right through the softer Aqueous Rocks,
which were deposited on the surface of the Earth before the eruption.
As to the Metamorphic Rocks, which are supposed to owe their peculiar
character to the contact of molten mineral matter, wherever they occur,
they are found in the immediate neighborhood of some Igneous Rock.

The condition of the Earth beneath its thin external crust has never
been the subject of direct observation; for Geologists have never yet
been able to penetrate below the granite rocks. Nevertheless, this
subject has been often discussed, and has offered a wide field for
philosophical speculation. Upon one point all are agreed, that within
the Crust of the Earth an intense heat very generally prevails;--a heat
so intense that it would be quite sufficient, acting under ordinary
circumstances, to reduce all known rocks to a state of igneous fusion.
Hence it was a common opinion among the older Geologists that the
condition of our globe is that of a vast central nucleus composed of
molten mineral, and covered over with a comparatively thin external
shell of solid rock. The most eminent Geologists, however, of the
present day, hesitate to accept this opinion. They observe: (1) That
we have not yet learned what the material is of which the interior
of the Earth is composed; therefore we cannot tell for certain what
degree of heat is sufficient to reduce that material to a liquid state.
(2) It is uncertain how far the immense pressure at great depths may
operate to keep matter in a solid state, even when raised to a very
high degree of temperature. (3) There are certain astronomical and
physical difficulties involved in this theory, which have not yet been
fully cleared up. Modern Geologists, therefore, proceeding with more
caution than their predecessors, while they regard the opinion as
probable, refuse to set it down as conclusively demonstrated. But, that
a very high temperature prevails in the interior of our globe, is a
conclusion, they say, which is established by abundant evidence, and
which may be regarded as morally certain.

It may be asked how the various strata of Aqueous Rocks, which
constitute the chief portion of the Earth’s Crust, have been lifted up
above the level of the sea; for, according to our theory, they were all
first deposited under water. This is a question that must inevitably
occur to the mind of every reader, and Geologists are ready with an
answer. They tell us that from the earliest ages the Crust of the Earth
has been subject to disturbance and dislocation. At various times and
in various places it was upheaved, and what had been before the bed of
the ocean became dry land; again it sunk below its former level, and
what had been before dry land became the bed of the ocean. Thus, in the
former case a new stratum which had been deposited at the bottom of the
sea, with all its varied remains of a bygone age, was converted for a
season into the surface of the Earth, and became the theatre of animal
and vegetable life: while in the latter case, the old surface of the
Earth with its countless tribes of animals and plants,--its _fauna_
and _flora_ as they are called,--was submerged beneath the waters,
there to receive in its turn the broken up fragments of a former
world, deposited in the form of mud, or sand, or pebbles, or minute
particles of lime. Nor is this all; it is but a single link in the
chain of Geological chronology. We are asked to believe that, in many
parts of the globe, this upward and downward movement has been going on
alternately for unnumbered ages; so that the very same spot which was
first the bed of the ocean, was afterward dry land, then the bottom of
an estuary or inland lake, then perhaps once more the floor of the sea,
and then dry land again: and furthermore we are assured that, while
it remained in each one of these various conditions, thousands and
thousands of years may have rolled away.

But from what source does that mighty power come which can thus upheave
the solid Earth, and banish the ocean from its bed? We are told in
reply that this giant power dwells in the interior of the Earth
itself, and is no other than the subterranean heat of which we have
already spoken. This vast internal fire acts with unequal force upon
different parts of the shell or Crust of the Earth, uplifting it in
one place, and in another allowing it to subside. Now it is violent
and convulsive, bursting asunder the solid rocks, and shaking the
foundations of the hills: again it is gentle and harmless, upheaving
vast continents with a scarcely perceptible undulation, not unlike the
long, silent swell of the ocean. So it has been from the beginning,
and so it is found to be even now, in this last age of the Geological
Calendar. For even within historic times mountains have been suddenly
upheaved from the level plain; and many parts of the Earth’s Crust have
been subject to a slow, wave-like movement, rising here and subsiding
there, at the rate of perhaps a few feet in a century. Sometimes,
too, the fiery liquid itself has burst its barriers, and poured its
destructive streams of molten rock far down into the peaceful, smiling

This theory of an internal disturbing force, which from time to time
produces elevations and depressions of the Earth’s Crust, serves to
explain another phenomenon, that cannot fail to have struck even the
least observant eye. The Aqueous Rocks of mechanical formation are
said to have been composed of minute fragments, which were first held
suspended in water, and afterward fell to the bottom. If this be true,
it follows that these rocks, in the first period of their existence,
must have been arranged in beds parallel to the horizon, or nearly
so. But we now find them, as everybody knows, in a great variety
of positions: sometimes they are parallel to the horizon, sometimes
inclined to it, sometimes at right angles to it; sometimes, too, they
are broken right across, sometimes curved and twisted after a very
fantastic fashion. Now, all these appearances are the natural results
of an upheaving force acting irregularly from below on the solid shell
of the Earth. When the subterranean fire is brought to bear equally at
the same time on a broad extent of surface, then the overlying strata
are bodily lifted up, and preserve their horizontal position. But when
the whole force acts with local intensity on a very contracted area,
then, at that particular spot, the rocks above will be tilted up, and
their position entirely changed. Sometimes they will be only bent and
crushed together, sometimes dislocated and turned over; sometimes,
perhaps, a mountain will be formed, and the rocks before parallel
to the horizon, will afterward remain parallel to the slopes of the

There is another process known by the name of Denudation, which we
cannot pass over in silence, for it occupies a very important place in
the Natural History of our globe. Since time first began Denudation
has been ever going on at the surface of the Earth, and it has left
its mark more or less distinctly upon every group of rocks, from the
lowest to the highest. It includes all the various operations by which
the old existing rocks are broken up into fragments, or ground into
powder, or worn away by friction, or dissolved by chemical action,
and then transported from their former site to become the elements
of new strata. Hence the name Denudation; since by these operations
the former surface of the Earth is carried away and a surface before
covered is _laid bare_. The amount of destruction effected by this
process in each successive age is always equal to the bulk of Aqueous
Rocks formed within the same time. This will be at once understood
when we remember that the Aqueous Rocks are produced, for the most
part, by the deposition of sediment; and sediment is nothing else than
the fragments, more or less minute, of pre-existing rocks. What is
deposited on the bed of the ocean has been taken from the surface of
the land; and the new strata are built up from the ruins of the old.
When we see a great building of stone towering aloft to the sky, we
are certain that somewhere else on the Earth a quarry has been opened,
and that the amount of excavation in the quarry is exactly represented
by the bulk of solid masonry in the building. Just in the same way,
the mass of Aqueous Rocks is at once the monument and the measure of
previous Denudation.

The process of Denudation is the work of many and various natural
causes. Heat and cold, rain, hail, and snow, chemical affinities,
the atmosphere itself, all have a share in it; but the largest share
belongs to the mechanical action of moving water. Every little rill
that flows down the mountain side is charged with finely-powdered
sediment which it is ever wearing away from the surface of its own
bed. Every great stream, besides the immense quantities of mud and
sand which in times of flood it carries along in its turbulent course,
has its channel strewn over with pebbles at which it never ceases to
work, rounding off the angles and polishing the surfaces; and these
pebbles, what are they but the fragments of old rocks and the elements
of new,--the rubble-stone of Nature’s edifice on its way from the
quarry to the building? Then there are those mighty rivers, such as the
Amazon, the Orinoco, the Mississippi, the Nile, the Ganges, discharging
into the sea day by day their vast freight of mineral matter, millions
of cubic feet in bulk, and thousands upon thousands of tons in weight.
Often this ponderous volume of mud or sand is carried far out to sea by
the action of currents, but sometimes it is deposited near the shore,
forming what is called a Delta, and exhibiting an admirable example
of stratified rock in the earliest stage of its existence. Lastly, we
have to notice the giant power of the great ocean itself, acting with
untiring energies on the coasts of continents and islands all over the
world, excavating and undermining cliffs, rolling huge rocks hither and
thither, and spreading out the divided fragments in a new order at the
bottom of the sea.

To apprehend fully the magnitude of the effects which may fairly be
ascribed to this last-mentioned power, we must remember that, according
to Geological theory, almost every portion of the Earth’s Crust has
been more than once lifted up above the surface of the ocean, and
afterward depressed below it. It is believed that this alternate
rising and sinking was effected very often, perhaps most commonly,
not by sudden convulsions, but rather by slow or gradual movements.
Now, during this process, as the land was emerging from the waters
or sinking beneath them, new surfaces would be presented in each
succeeding century to the force of the ocean currents and the erosive
action of the breakers; and it is not difficult to conceive that the
accumulated ruins produced, in a long lapse of time, by destructive
agents so powerful, so untiring, so universal, may have readily
furnished the materials for a very large proportion of the Aqueous
Rocks now in existence.

Hitherto we have considered the Crust of the Earth as a great structure
slowly reared up by the hand of Nature; we have spoken of the Rocks
that compose it, of their origin and history, of the order in which
they are disposed, and of the various agencies that have been at
work to mould them into their present form and feature. We have now
to contemplate this marvellous structure under a new aspect; for we
are told by Geologists that it is a vast sepulchre, within which lie
entombed the remains of life that has long since passed away. Each
series of strata is but a new range of tombs; and each tomb has a story
of its own. Here a gigantic monster is disclosed to view, compared
to which the largest beast that now roams through the forest is puny
in form and contemptible in strength: there, within a narrow space,
millions of minute animal frames are found closely compacted together,
each so small that its existence can be detected only by the aid of
a powerful microscope. In one place whole skeletons are found almost
entire, embedded in the bosom of the solid rock; in another, we have a
boundless profusion of bones and shells; and again in another, neither
the skeleton itself appears, nor yet its scattered bones, but simply
the imprint of footsteps once left upon the sandy beach, and still
remaining engraved on the stone into which the fine sand has been
converted chiefly by the agency of pressure. There is no scarcity of
relics in this wonderful charnel-house of Nature. For half a century
the work of plunder has been going on without relaxation or remorse;
the tombs have been yielding up their dead; every city in the civilized
world has filled its museums, and the cabinets of private collectors
are overflowing: but the spoils that have hitherto been carried away
seem to bear a very small proportion to those which yet remain behind.

These remains of animals and plants embedded in the Crust of the
Earth are called Fossils; and Geologists maintain that the Fossils
preserved in each group of strata represent the animals and plants
that flourished on the surface of the Earth, or in the waters of the
ocean, when that group of strata was in process of formation. There
they lived, and there they died, and there they were buried, in the
sand, or the shingle, or the mud that came down from the waters above.
Their descendants, however, still lived on, and new forms of life were
called into being by the voice of the Omnipotent Creator, making, as
it were, a connecting link between the new age of the world that was
coming in and the old one that was passing away. But they, too, died
and found a tomb beneath the waters; for Nature, with unexhausted
energies, was still busy collecting materials from the old rocks, and
building up the new. And so that age passed away like the former, and
another came; and every age was represented by its own group of strata;
and each group of strata was, in its turn, covered over with a new
deposit; and the tombs were all sealed up, with their countless legions
of dead, their massive monuments of stone, their strange hieroglyphic
inscriptions. At length came the last stage of the world’s history, and
man appeared upon the scene; and it is his privilege to descend into
this wonderful sepulchre, and to wander about amidst the monuments, and
to strive to read the inscriptions. In our own days more especially,
eager and enthusiastic students are abroad over the whole face of the
globe, and are gathering together from every country the Fossil Remains
of extinct worlds. By the aid of Natural History they seek to assign to
each its own proper place in the ranks of creation; to trace the rise,
the progress, and the extinction of every species in its turn; and even
to describe the nature and the character of all the various forms of
life that have dwelt upon the Earth from the beginning.

Such is the theory of Geology as expounded at the present day by its
most able and popular advocates. We have passed over a multitude of
minor details that we might not weary our readers, and we have kept
aloof from disputed points that we might not get entangled in a purely
scientific controversy. Our object has simply been to gather together
into a systematic form those more general conclusions which, however
startling they may seem to practical men of the world, and even to many
of those whose minds have been accustomed to the pursuit of science
in other departments, are nevertheless regarded as certain by all
who have devoted their lives to the study of Geology. It now remains
to investigate the facts on which these conclusions are based, and
to consider the line of argument by which so many able and earnest
men have been led to accept them. In this vast field of inquiry we
shall chiefly direct our attention to those points that bear upon the
Antiquity of the Earth; and in attempting to bring home to our readers
the nature and the force of Geological reasoning, we shall confine
ourselves altogether to simple and familiar illustrations.





  _Principle of reasoning common to all the physical sciences--This
  principle applicable to Geology--Carbonic acid an agent
  of denudation--Vast quantity of lime dissolved by the
  waters of the Rhine and borne away to the German ocean--Disintegration
  of rocks by frost--Professor Tyndall on the
  Matterhorn--Running water--Its erosive power--An active
  and unceasing agent of denudation--Mineral sediment carried
  out to sea by the Ganges and other great rivers--Solid
  rocks undermined and worn away--Falls of the Clyde at
  Lanark--Excavating power of rivers in Auvergne and
  Sicily--Falls of Niagara--Transporting power of running
  water--Floods in Scotland--Inundation in the valley of
  Bagnes in Switzerland._

In the physical sciences it is a common principle of reasoning to
account for the phenomena that come before us in nature, by the
operation of natural causes which we know to exist. Nay, this principle
seems to be almost an instinct of our nature, which guides even the
least philosophical amidst us, in the common affairs of life. When we
stand amongst the ruins of an ancient castle, we feel quite certain
that we have before us, not alone the monument of Time’s destroying
power, but also the monument of human skill and labor in days gone
by. We entertain no doubt that ages ago the sound of the mason’s
hammer was heard upon these walls, now crowned with ivy; that these
moss-grown stones were once hewn fresh in the quarry, and piled up one
upon another by human hands; and that the building itself was designed
by human skill, and intended for the purposes of human habitation and
defence. Or, if we see a footprint in the sand, we conclude that a
living foot has been there; and from the character of the traces it has
left, we judge what was the species of animal to which it belonged,
whether man, or bird, or beast. It is true that God is Omnipotent.
He might, if it had so pleased Him, have built the old castle at the
creation of the world, and allowed it to crumble slowly into ruins: or
he might have built it yesterday, and made a ruin begin to be where no
castle had stood before; and covered the stones with moss, and mantled
the walls in ivy. And as to the footprint in the sand, it were as easy
for Him to make the impress there, as to make the foot that left the
impress. All this is true: but yet if any one were to argue in this
style against us, he would fail to shake our convictions; we should
still unhesitatingly believe that human hands once built the castle,
and that a living foot once trod the shore.

Now, this principle of reasoning is the foundation on which the ablest
modern Geologists claim to build their science. The untiring hand of
Nature is ever busy around us: they ask us to come and look at her
works, and to judge of what she has done in past ages, by that which
she is now doing before our eyes. She is still, they say, building
up her strata all over the globe, of limestone, and sandstone, and
clay; she is still lifting up in one place the bed of the ocean, and
in another submerging the dry land; she is still bursting open the
Crust of the Earth by the action of internal fire, disturbing and
tilting up the horizontal strata; she is still upheaving her mountains
and scooping out her valleys. All these operations are open to our
inspection; we may go forth and study them for ourselves; we may
examine the works that are wrought, and we may discover, too, the
causes by which they are produced. And if it should appear that a very
close analogy exists between these works that are now coming into
existence, and the long series of works that are piled up in the Crust
of the Earth, it is surely not unreasonable to refer the latter class
of phenomena to the action of the same natural causes which we know to
have produced the former.

It cannot be denied that this argument is deserving of a fair and
candid consideration. Let us proceed, then, to examine how far it is
founded on fact, and how far it can be justly applied to the various
heads of Geological theory. We will commence with the origin and
history of Stratified Rocks; for this constitutes, in a manner, the
framework on which the whole system of Geology is supported and held
together. It is alleged that the elements of which Stratified Rocks are
composed are but the broken fragments and minute atoms of pre-existing
rocks, carried off by the agents of Denudation, and spread out over
some distant area in regular beds or layers; which, in progress of
ages, were slowly consolidated into rocks of various quality and
texture. With the view of testing this theory by the light of the
principle just explained, we purpose, in the first place, to exhibit
some examples of the many forms in which the process of Denudation
is going on at the present day all over the world; and afterward, to
show that out of the materials thus obtained Stratified Rocks of every
description--Mechanical, Chemical, Organic--are being regularly built
up in sundry places; and that these correspond in every essential
feature with the Stratified Rocks in the Crust of the Earth.

Among the chemical agents of Denudation, there is none more widely
diffused than Carbonic acid gas. It is everywhere given out by dead
animal and vegetable matter during the process of putrefaction; it is
plentifully evolved from springs in every country; and it is emitted
in enormous quantities from the earth in all volcanic districts, as
well those in which the volcanoes are now extinct as those in which
they are active. Now, it is well known from observation, that carbonic
acid has the property of decomposing many of the hardest rocks,
especially those in which felspar is an ingredient. This phenomenon
is exhibited on a large scale in the ancient volcanic district of
Auvergne, in central France. The carbonic acid, which is abundantly
evolved from the earth, penetrates the crevices and pores of the solid
granite, which being unable to resist its decomposing action, is
rapidly crumbling to pieces. This mysterious decay of hard rock has
been happily called by Dolomieu, “la maladie du granite.”[15]

Again, all the water which flows over the surface of the land is highly
charged with carbonic acid. The rain imbibes it in falling through the
atmosphere; and the rivers receive still further accessions from the
earth as they pursue their course to the sea. In this combination we
discover a powerful agent of Denudation; for limestone rock will be
dissolved by water which is impregnated with carbonic acid. Thus all
the rivers and streams in the world, when they flow through a limestone
channel, are constantly dissolving the solid rock and bearing away the
elements of which it is composed. A single example will be sufficient
to show the magnitude of the results which are thus produced. It has
been calculated by Bischof, a celebrated German chemist, that the
carbonate of lime which is carried each year to the sea by the waters
of the Rhine, is sufficient for the formation of 32,000,000,000 of
oyster shells; or, to view the matter in another light, it would be
sufficient to produce a stratum of limestone one foot thick, and four
square miles in extent.[16] If such be the yearly produce of one
river, how great must be the accumulated effects of all the rivers in
the world since our planet first came from the hand of its Creator!

Passing from the chemical to the mechanical agents of Denudation, it
is worth while to notice the immense power which is often generated by
the agency of frost, especially in those countries that are subject to
great vicissitudes of heat and cold. During a thaw, water finds its way
into the clefts and joints by which all rocks are traversed, and when
it is afterward converted into ice, it expands with a mechanical force
that is almost irresistible. The hardest rocks are burst asunder, great
blocks are detached from the mountain side, and sent rolling down its
slopes, or tumbling over crags and precipices, until at length they
come to rest in shattered fragments at the bottom of the valley. In
this condition they await but the coming of the winter’s torrent to be
borne still further on their long journey to the sea.

The fearful havoc done in this way by the alternate action of sun and
frost contributes in no small degree to the fantastic and picturesque
forms assumed by the mountain peaks of Switzerland. Huge masses of
rock have been literally hewn away, until nothing has remained behind
but those splintered obelisks and tapering pinnacles so familiar to
the eye amidst the sublime scenery of the Alps. Indeed one of the
greatest perils encountered by the adventurous spirits whose ambition
it is to rival one another in the danger of their exploits, and to
climb whatever was before regarded as inaccessible, arises from the
enormous fragments of rock which are rent almost unceasingly from the
overhanging crags and hurled into the abysses below them. The following
incident related by Professor Tyndall is very much to the point. “We
had gathered up our things, and bent to the work before us, when
suddenly an explosion occurred overhead. Looking aloft, in mid-air was
seen a solid shot from the Matterhorn describing its proper parabola
through the air. It split to pieces as it hit one of the rock-towers
below, and its fragments came down in a kind of spray, which fell wide
of us, but still near enough to compel a sharp look out. Two or three
such explosions occurred afterward, but we crept along the back fin of
the mountain, from which the falling boulders were speedily deflected
right and left.”

This occurred in 1862, on the occasion of an unsuccessful attempt
to reach the highest peak of the Matterhorn. Six years later, when
Professor Tyndall at length actually accomplished the object on which
he seems to have set his heart, he found the work of destruction
still going on. “We were now,” he says in his narrative, “beside a
snow-gully, which was cut by a deep furrow along its centre, and
otherwise scarred by the descent of stones. Here each man arranged his
bundle and himself so as to cross the gully in the minimum of time. The
passage was safely made, a few flying shingle only coming down upon us.
But danger declared itself where it was not expected. Joseph Maquignas
led the way up the rocks. I was next, Pierre Maquignas next, and last
of all the porters. Suddenly a yell issued from the leader: ‘Cachez
vous!’ I crouched instinctively against the rock, which formed a by no
means perfect shelter, when a boulder buzzed past me through the air,
smote the rocks below me, and with a savage hum flew down to the lower

Even in our own country, every one is familiar with the efficacy of
frozen water in producing landslips. The rain which soaks into the
ground in winter, is converted into ice when frost sets in; and upon
steep slopes or precipices, its expansive power bursts open the earth,
and causes large masses of stones and clay to tumble headlong to the

But moving water constitutes the most powerful, and, at the same
time, the most universal agent of Denudation. And it is chiefly to the
effects of moving water that we mean to direct attention; because its
action is more striking to the eye, and more easily understood by the
general reader. Every one is aware that the waters of the ocean are
constantly passing off by evaporation into the higher regions of the
atmosphere, and are there condensed into clouds. These clouds in course
of time descend upon all parts of the earth, but especially on the high
and mountainous districts. Then rivulets are formed which flow smoothly
down the gentle slopes of the undulating country, or plunge headlong
over the rocky mountain cliffs; and the rivulets uniting form streams,
and the streams, receiving new tributaries as they advance, become
rivers; and the rivers flow on to the sea, and discharge each day and
each hour their enormous volumes of water back again into the ocean
from which they came. Thus all the water of the world is constantly
in motion, ever hurrying on, as it were, in one unending round of
duty. This is the teaching of daily experience and observation. And
we may add, it is the teaching of Sacred Scripture as well. The Wise
Man said long ago: “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea doth
not overflow: unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they
return to flow again.”[18]

Now, the power of this moving water is a mighty wide-spread agent of
change in the physical condition of the globe. For wherever water is in
motion over the surface of the land, whether it be a rippling stream,
or a mountain torrent, or a majestic river, it is surely wearing away
the channel through which it flows, and carrying along in its course
particles of clay, or sand, or gravel. This subject is illustrated with
great force and great simplicity by Mr. Page. “Every person,” he says,
“must have observed the rivers in his own district, how they become
muddy and turbid during floods of rain, and how their swollen currents
eat away the banks, deepen the channels, and sweep away the sand and
gravel down to some lower level. And if, during this turbid state, he
will have the curiosity to lift a gallon of the water, and allow it
to settle, he will be astonished at the amount of sediment or solid
matter that falls to the bottom. Now, let him multiply this gallon by
the number of gallons daily carried down by the river, and this day
by years and centuries, and he will arrive at some faint idea of the
quantity of matter worn from the land by rivers, and deposited by them
in the ocean. In the same way as one river grinds and cuts for itself a
channel, so does every stream and rill and current of water. The rain
as it falls washes away what the winds and frosts have loosened; the
rill takes it up, and, mingling it with its own burden, gives it to the
stream; the stream takes it up and carries it to the river, and the
river bears it to the ocean.”[19]

When the current is feeble, the greater part of this earthy material is
thrown down upon the way, and forms a stratum of alluvial soil in the
bed of the river, and also in the adjoining lowlands, during the time
of temporary floods. But when several streams unite, then the carrying
power of the current is enormously increased: huge stones are rolled
along, and dashed one against another, and broken into fragments, and
the fragments are rounded by friction, and become pebbles, and the
pebbles become gravel, and the gravel, mud; and the mud is carried on
to the mouth of the river, and there falling to the bottom, it forms a
tongue of land which is called a delta; or else perhaps it chances to
meet with some great ocean current, and then it begins a new journey,
and is borne far away to be deposited in the profound and tranquil
depths of the sea. It is not, however, mineral matter alone that is
transported by the action of rivers. Trees that once were growing on
the banks of the stream, and the bones of animals, and human remains,
and works of art, are seen floating down with the current, and are
found embedded in the sand and mud of the delta at the river’s mouth.

These are some of the actual realities which all may witness, who will
go and study for themselves the history of this wonderful element,
from the time when it first soars aloft as vapor to the sky, until it
returns to the bosom of its parent ocean laden with the spoils of the
land. To some of our readers, perhaps, results of this kind may appear
insignificant, when considered in relation to the enormous bulk of the
stratified rocks. But it should be remembered that the force of which
we speak is unceasing in its operation over the whole surface of the
earth; and even though the work were small which is accomplished in
each successive year, the accumulated effects produced in a lengthened
period of time must be immensely great. Besides, it would be a very
serious error to form our ideas on this subject, as many would seem to
do, from the examples which are to be found within the narrow limits of
our own island. We should rather seek for our illustrations among those
mighty rivers that drain the vast continents of the world, and exhibit
the erosive and transporting power of running water on the grandest

It happens, fortunately for our purpose, that an attempt has been
made by scientific men to compute the amount of matter discharged
into the sea, by some particular rivers within a given time. For such
a computation it is necessary, in the first place, to calculate the
volume of water that passes down the channel during that time; and
then, by repeated experiments, to ascertain the average proportion of
earthy matter which is held suspended in the water. This has been done
with the greatest care by the Rev. Mr. Everest, in the case of the
river Ganges; and it appears that during the rainy season, which lasts
four months every year, from June to September, about 6,000,000,000
cubic feet of mud are carried along by the stream past the town of
Ghazepoor, near which the observations were made. Now this enormous
bulk of mineral matter would be sufficient to form a stratum of rock
one foot in height, and two hundred and eighteen square miles in
extent. Or, to adopt the computation of Sir Charles Lyell, the amount
which passes by every day is equal to that which might be transported
by 2000 Indiamen, each freighted with a cargo of mud 1400 tons in
weight. And it is important to remember that this estimate represents
but a portion of the sediment which passes into the sea through the
channel of the Ganges; for the observations of Mr. Everest were taken
at a point which is 500 miles from the sea, and at which the river has
not yet received the contributions of its largest tributaries.

We are able, therefore, with some degree of confidence, to estimate
the amount of Denudation which is every year effected by the Ganges.
And, although the same calculations have not yet been applied with
equal care to other great rivers, there is no reason to suppose that
the Ganges is an exception. It is asserted on good grounds that the
Brahmapootra, which unites with the Ganges close to the Bay of Bengal,
carries with it an equal amount of earthy sediment. According to Sir
Charles Lyell, the quantity of solid matter brought down each year by
the Mississippi amounts to 3,702,758,400 cubic feet. And it is said
that 48,000,000 cubic feet of earth are _daily_ discharged into the sea
by the Yellow River in China, called by the natives the Hoang Ho.[20]
Thus year after year the waste of the land is carried away by rivers,
to be spread out over wide areas of the ocean, and perhaps to furnish
the materials of future continents.

The effects of running water in wearing away and transporting masses
of solid rock are not less deserving of our notice. Every one who has
followed the course of a great river when it flows through a rocky
channel, must have observed large blocks projecting from the cliffs
above, which, having been undermined by the action of the water, seem
ready to tumble headlong into the stream; and others lying below, which
had fallen before; and others again which had been already carried a
considerable distance by the winter’s torrent. Even where the rocks
are not displaced, they are gradually being worn away, partly by the
friction of the water, but much more by the grinding action of the
gravel which the water holds in suspension. Not only is the surface of
the rocks thus rounded and polished, but large circular pits, called
_pot-holes_, are formed by the whirling waters of an eddy carrying
round and round a few grains of hard sand.

At the falls of the Clyde near Lanark in Scotland, these various
phenomena may be seen to great advantage. Good illustrations are to
be found also in many volcanic regions. Some of the larger streams in
Auvergne have in course of time forced their way through the solid lava
rock, cutting out for themselves channels broad and deep. In Sicily
too, we are told, the river Simeto, whose course was blocked up by a
current of lava about the beginning of the seventeenth century, has
since that time eaten its way through this compact and hardened mass,
and now flows on to the sea through a rocky passage forty feet in depth
and from fifty to several hundred feet in width.[21]

But there is no part of the world yet explored where these effects
are exhibited on the same gigantic scale as at the far-famed Falls
of Niagara. The massive limestone rock from which the waters are
precipitated is slowly but certainly disappearing. An enormous volume
of water, more than a third of a mile in breadth, plunges in a single
bound over a sheer precipice of one hundred and sixty-five feet. The
soft slaty rocks upon which the limestone rests are soon eaten away
by the action of the spray which rises from the pool below; and then
the overhanging cliffs, left without any support, topple over, and
are carried off by the torrent. The position of the Falls, therefore,
is not stationary, but is receding by very sensible degrees in the
direction of Lake Erie, from which the river flows. Speaking of this
phenomenon, Sir Charles Lyell observes with much show of reason: “The
idea of perpetual and progressive waste is constantly present to the
mind of every beholder: and as that part of the chasm which has been
the work of the last hundred and fifty years resembles precisely in
depth, width, and character the rest of the gorge, which extends seven
miles below, it is most natural to infer, that the entire ravine has
been hollowed out in the same manner, by the recession of the cataract.
It must at least be conceded, that the river supplies an adequate cause
for executing the whole task thus assigned to it, provided we grant
sufficient time for its completion.”[22]

With a view to enable our readers to understand more fully the
prodigious force which rivers have been known to exert in the
transportation of rocks, it may be useful to draw attention to one or
two principles of physical science. First, we have the well-known law
of Archimedes, that _a solid body immersed in a liquid loses a part
of its weight equal to the weight of the liquid displaced_. Now solid
rock as compared with water, bulk for bulk, is rarely more than three
times, and often not more than twice as heavy. Consequently, according
to this law, almost all rocks will lose a third of their weight, and
many will lose one-half, when immersed in water. Again, it has been
established that _the power of water to move bodies that are in it
increases as the sixth power of the velocity of the current_. Hence,
if the velocity of a current is increased _two-fold_, its moving power
will be increased _sixty-four fold_; if the velocity is increased
_three-fold_, the moving power will be increased _seven hundred and
twenty fold_; and so on.

From these principles it follows, first, that a much smaller power is
required to move a block of stone lying in the bed of a river, than if
it were lying on the surface of the land; and secondly, that a very
slight increase in the velocity of a current effects a very great
increase in its moving power. We need not wonder, then, when we hear of
the enormous masses of rocks and trees and mason-work which are carried
away even by small rivers in times of flood.[23]

Here are a few examples. In August, 1829, a fragment of sandstone,
fourteen feet long, three feet wide, and one foot thick, was carried
by the river Nairn, in Scotland, a distance of two hundred yards. On
the same occasion the river Dee swept away a bridge of five arches,
built of solid granite, which had stood uninjured for twenty years;
the whole mass of masonry sunk into the bed of the stream and was
seen no more. And the river Don, as we are assured on the authority
of Mr. Farquharson, forced a mass of stones four or five hundred
tons in weight up a steep inclined plane, leaving them in a great
rectangular heap on the summit. A small rivulet called the College, in
Northumberland, when swollen by a flood in August, 1827, “tore away
from the abutment of a mill-dam a large block of greenstone-porphyry
weighing nearly two tons, and transported it to the distance of a
quarter of a mile.”[24] But it is needless to multiply examples of
phenomena which are occurring every day around us, and of which many
among our readers have probably been eye-witnesses.

The transporting power of rivers must not always be estimated by the
bulk and velocity of the current; for it is often greatly increased by
some accidental obstruction, which for a time blocks up the channel
through which the river flows. An instructive illustration is afforded
by the river Dranse, which flows through the valley of Bagnes, in
Switzerland, and empties itself into the Rhone above the lake of
Geneva. In the year 1818 the avalanches which fell down from the
mountain side formed a barrier across the valley, and thus effectually
blocked up the course of the stream. The upper part of the valley was,
in consequence, soon converted into a lake which gradually increased in
size as the season advanced. When summer came, and the melting of the
snows began, the ice barrier suddenly gave way with a tremendous crash,
and the lake was emptied in half an hour. The mass of water, thus in
a moment disengaged, burst with destructive violence over the lower
valley, sweeping away rocks, forests, houses, bridges, and cultivated
lands. Thousands of trees were torn up by the roots, fragments of
granite as large as houses were rolled along, and the whole flood
presented the appearance of a moving mass of ruins.





    _The breakers of the ocean--Caverns and fairy bridges
    of Kilkee--Italy and Sicily--The Shetland Islands--East
    and south coast of Britain--Tracts of land swallowed up
    by the sea--Island of Heligoland--Northstrand--Tides and
    currents--South Atlantic current--Equatorial current--The Gulf
    Stream--Its course described--Examples of its power as an agent
    of transport._

While the rain, the rivers, and the streams, are thus wasting away
the mountains and plains of the interior country, the waves of the
sea are exerting a power no less destructive on the coasts of islands
and of continents. The breakers dashing against the foot of a lofty
cliff, dissolve and decompose and wear away the lower strata; and
the overhanging rocks, thus undermined, fall down in course of time
by their own weight. With the next returning wave these rocks are
themselves hurled back against the cliff; and so, as some one has
happily remarked, the land would seem to supply a powerful artillery
for its own destruction. The effects of the breakers are often very
unequal, even on the same line of cliffs. Some parts of the rock are
more yielding than others, or perhaps they are more exposed to the
action of the waves, or perhaps they are divided by larger joints and
more freely admit the destructive element. These parts will be the
first to give way, while the harder and less exposed rock will be left
standing: and in this way forms the most capricious and fantastic are

No finer examples could be wished for than those which are seen in the
neighborhood of Kilkee, and along the promontory of Loop Head, in the
county of Clare. Sometimes the ground is undermined with caverns, into
which, when the tide is coming in, the waves of the Atlantic rush with
resistless force, making new additions each day to the accumulated
ruins of ages. Sometimes lofty pinnacles of rock are left standing in
the midst of the waters, like giant sentinels stationed there by Nature
to guard the coast. In one or two instances these isolated fragments
are connected with the main land by natural arches of rock, which are
called _fairy bridges_ by the people; but more commonly they appear as
rocky islets, and answer exactly to the poet’s description--

                            “The roaring tides
    The passage broke that land from land divides;
    And where the lands retired the rushing ocean rides.”

It is interesting to observe in passing, that, in the original verses
of the Æneid, of which these lines are Dryden’s translation, Virgil
has recorded a belief which prevailed in his time, and which, upon
scientific grounds, is now regarded as highly probable by Geologists,
that the island of Sicily had been once connected by land with Italy,
and was separated from it by the action of the waves:

        “Hæc loca, vi quondam et vasta convulsa ruina,
        Tantum ævi longinqua valet mutare vetustas!
        Dissiluisse ferunt, quum protenus utraque tellus
        Una foret; venit medio vi pontus et undis
        Hesperium Siculo latus abscidit, arvaque et urbes
        Litore deductas angusto interluit æsta.”

        Æneid, iii., 414-19.

But whatever may be thought of this opinion thus rendered immortal
by the genius of the poet, we shall not stop to discuss its merits.
For in the present stage of our argument, it is our object to deal,
not with vague and uncertain traditions, nor even with philosophical
speculations, but rather with the facts which are actually going on in
nature, and which any one of our readers may examine for himself. With
this object in view, we shall take a few examples from the Eastern and
Southern coasts of Great Britain, which have been carefully explored by
scientific men for the purpose of observing and recording the amount of
destruction accomplished by the waves within recent times.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--Granitic rocks to the south of Hillswick Ness,
Shetland. From Lyell’s Principles of Geology.]

The Shetland Islands, exposed to the whole fury of the Atlantic,
present many phenomena not unlike those of Kilkee and Loop Head, but
upon a far grander scale. Whole islands have been swept away by the
resistless power of the waters, and of others nothing remains but
massive pillars of hard rock, which have been well described as rising
up “like the ruins of Palmyra in the desert of the ocean.” Passing
to the mainland, it is recorded that in the year 1795 a village in
Kincardineshire was carried away in a single night, and the sea
advanced a hundred and fifty yards inland, where it has ever since
maintained its ground. In England, almost the whole coast of Yorkshire
is undergoing constant dilapidation. On the south side of Flamborough
Head the cliffs are receding at an average rate of two yards and a
quarter in the year, for a distance of thirty-six miles along the
coast. This would amount to a mile since the Norman Conquest, and
to more than two miles since the occupation of York by the Romans.
It is not surprising, therefore, to learn that many spots marked in
the old maps of the country as the sites of towns or villages, are
now sandbanks in the sea. Even places of historic name have not been
spared. The town of Ravenspur, from which, in 1332, Edward Baliol
sailed for the invasion of Scotland, and at which Henry the Fourth
landed in 1399, to claim the throne of England, has long since been
swallowed up by the devouring element.

On the coast of Norfolk it was calculated, at the beginning of the
present century, that the mean loss of the land was something less
than one yard in the year. The inn at Sherringham was built on
this calculation in 1805, and it was expected to stand for seventy
years. But unfortunately the actual advance of the sea exceeded the
calculation. Sir Charles Lyell, who visited this spot in 1829, relates
that during the five preceding years seventeen yards of the cliff had
been swept away, and nothing but a small garden was then left between
the building and the sea. The same distinguished writer tells us that
in the harbor of this town there was at that time water sufficient to
float a frigate where forty-eight years before had stood a cliff fifty
feet in height with houses built upon it. And remarking upon these
facts, he says, that “if once in half a century an equal amount of
change were produced suddenly by the momentary shock of an earthquake,
history would be filled with records of such wonderful revolutions of
the earth’s surface; but if the conversion of high land into deep sea
be gradual, it excites only local attention.”

In the neighborhood of Dunwich, once the most considerable seaport on
the coast of Suffolk, the cliffs have been wasting away from an early
period of history. “Two tracts of land which had been taxed in the
time of King Edward the Confessor, are mentioned in the Conqueror’s
survey, made but a few years afterward, as having been devoured by the
sea.” And the memory of other losses in the town itself--including a
monastery, several churches, the town-hall, the jail, and many hundred
houses--together with the dates of their occurrence, is faithfully
preserved in authentic records. In 1740 the sea reached the churchyard
of Saint Nicholas and Saint Francis, so that the graves, the coffins,
and the skeletons, were exposed to view on the face of the cliffs.
Since that time the coffins, and the tombstones, and the churchyard
itself, have disappeared beneath the waves. Nothing now remains of this
once flourishing and populous city but the name alone, which is still
attached to a little village of about twenty houses. The spot on which
the Church of Reculver stands, near the mouth of the Thames, was a
mile inland in the reign of Henry the Eighth; in the year 1834 it was
overhanging the sea; and it would long ago have been demolished, but
for an artificial causeway of stones constructed with a view to break
the force of the waves. It is estimated that the land on the northeast
coast of Kent is receding at the rate of about two feet in the year.
The promontory of Beachy Head in Sussex is also rapidly falling away.
In the year 1813 an enormous mass of chalk, three hundred feet in
length and eighty in breadth, came down with a tremendous crash; and
slips of the same kind have often occurred, both before and since.

To these examples from Great Britain we may add one or two from the
German Ocean. Seven islands have completely disappeared within a very
narrow area since the time of Pliny; for he counted twenty-three
between Texel and the mouth of the Eider, whereas now there are but
sixteen. The island of Heligoland, at the mouth of the Elbe, has been
for ages subject to great dilapidation. Within the last five hundred
years three-fourths of it have been carried away; and since 1770 the
fragment that remains has been divided into two parts by a channel
which is at present navigable for large ships. A still more remarkable
instance of destruction effected by the waves of the sea occurred in
the island of Northstrand, on the coast of Schleswig. Previous to the
thirteenth century it was attached to the mainland, forming a part
of the continent of Europe, and was a highly cultivated and populous
district about ten miles long, and from six to eight broad. In the year
1240 it was cut off from the coast of Schleswig by an inroad of the
sea, and it gradually wasted away up to the seventeenth century, when
its entire circumference was sixteen geographical miles. Even then the
industrious inhabitants,--about nine thousand in number,--endeavored to
save what remained of their territory by the erection of lofty dykes;
but on the eleventh of October, 1634, the whole island was overwhelmed
by another invasion of the sea, in which 6000 people perished, and
50,000 head of cattle. Three small islets are all that now remain of
this once fertile district.[25]

The breakers of the ocean receive no small aid in their work of
destruction from the action of tides and currents which co-operate with
the winds to keep the waters of the sea in constant motion. And though
the winds may sleep for a time, the tides and currents are always
actively at work, and never for a moment cease to wear away the land.
But they are even more powerful auxiliaries as agents of transport. If
it were not for them, the ruins which fall from the rocks to-day would
to-morrow form a barrier against the waves, and the work of destruction
would cease. But Nature has ordained it otherwise. When the tide
advances, it rolls the broken fragments toward the land, and when it
recedes, it carries them back to the deep; and so by unceasing friction
these fragments are worn away to pebbles, and then, being more easily
transported, they are carried off to sea and deposited in the bed of
the ocean: or else, perhaps, they are cast up on the sloping shore, to
form what is so familiar to us all under the name of a shingle-beach.

This is a subject on which it is needless to enlarge. Every one
knows that the tides have the power of transporting solid matter;
though most of us, perhaps, do not fully appreciate the magnitude of
their accumulated effects, working as they do with untiring energies
upon the coasts of islands and continents all over the world. It is
not, however, so generally known that the ocean is traversed in all
directions by powerful currents, which, from their regularity, their
permanence, and their extent, have been aptly called the rivers of
the ocean. We do not mean here to inquire into the causes of these
currents, upon which the progress of physical science has thrown
considerable light: neither can we hope to describe even the principal
currents that prevail over the vast tracts of water which constitute
about three-fourths of the entire surface of our globe. We shall
content ourselves with tracing the course of one great system, which
may serve to give some idea of their general character and enormous

This system would seem to have its origin with a stream that flows from
the Indian Ocean toward the southwest, and then doubling the Cape of
Good Hope, turns northward along the African coast. It is here called
the South Atlantic Current. When it encounters the shores of Guinea, it
is diverted to the west, and stretches across the Atlantic, traversing
forty degrees of longitude until it reaches the projecting promontory
of Brazil in South America. In this part of its course it is known as
the Equatorial Current, because it follows pretty nearly the line of
the Equator: it varies in breadth from two hundred to five hundred
miles, and it travels at the mean rate of thirty miles a day, though
sometimes its velocity is increased to seventy or eighty. Next, under
the name of the Guyana Current, it pursues a northwesterly direction,
following the line of the coast; and passing close to the island
of Trinidad, becomes diffused, and almost seems to be lost, in the
Caribbean Sea. Nevertheless, it again issues with renewed energy from
the Gulf of Mexico, and rushing through the Straits of Florida at the
rate of four and five miles an hour, it issues once more into the broad
waters of the Atlantic. From this out it is called the Gulf Stream, and
is well known to all who are concerned in Transatlantic navigation;
for it sensibly accelerates the speed of vessels which are bound from
America to Europe, and sensibly retards those sailing from Europe to

The Gulf Stream, however, does not set out on its Transatlantic voyage
directly that it issues from the Straits of Florida. It keeps at
first a northeasterly course, following the outline of the American
continent, passing by New York and Nova Scotia, and brushing the
southern extremity of the great Newfoundland Bank. Then taking leave
of the land, it sweeps right across the Atlantic. After a time it
seems to divide into two branches, one inclining to the south, and
losing itself among the Azores, the other bending toward the north,
washing the shores of Ireland, Scotland, Norway, and reaching even to
the frozen regions of Spitzbergen. The breadth of the Gulf Stream,
when it issues from the Straits of Florida, is about fifty miles, but
it afterward increases to three hundred. Its color is a dark indigo
blue, which, contrasting sharply with the green waters of the Atlantic,
forms a line of junction distinctly visible for some hundreds of miles:
afterward, when this boundary line is no longer sensible to the eye, it
is easily ascertained by the thermometer; for the temperature of the
Gulf Stream is everywhere from eight to ten degrees higher than that of
the surrounding ocean.[26]

We leave our readers to infer from this brief description how immense
must be the power of transport which belongs to such currents as
these. They sweep along the shores of continents, and carry away the
accumulated fragments of rock, which had first been rent from the
cliffs by the waves of the sea, and then borne out to a little distance
by the tides: they pass by the mouths of great rivers, and receiving
the spoils of many a fertile and populous country, and the ruins of
many an inaccessible mountain ridge, they hurry off to deposit this
vast and varied freight in the deep abysses of the ocean. There is one
circumstance, however, which we ought not to pass over in silence; for
it is of especial importance to the Geologist, and might easily escape
the notice of the general reader. It is a well ascertained fact that
plants and fruits and other objects from the West Indian Islands are
annually washed ashore by the Gulf Stream on the northwestern coasts of
Europe. The mast of a man-of-war burnt at Jamaica was after some months
found stranded on one of the Western Islands of Scotland;[27] and
General Sabine tells us that when he was in Norway, in the year 1823,
casks of palm-oil were picked up on the shore near the North Cape,
which belonged to a vessel that had been wrecked the previous year at
Cape Lopez on the African coast.[28] It seems most probable that these
casks of oil must first have crossed the Atlantic from east to west in
the Equatorial Current, then described the circuit of the West Indian
Islands, and finally coming in with the Gulf Stream, recrossed the
Atlantic, performing altogether a journey of more than eight thousand
miles. From these facts it is clear that, by the agency of ocean
currents, the productions of one country may be carried to another
that is far distant. And Geologists do not fail to make use of this
important conclusion when they find the animal and vegetable remains of
different climates associated together in the same strata of the Earth.





    _Glaciers--Their nature and composition--Their unceasing
    motion--Powerful agents of denudation--Icebergs--Their
    number and size--Erratic blocks and loose gravel spread out
    over mountains, plains, and valleys, at the bottom of the
    sea--Characteristic marks of moving ice--Evidence of ancient
    glacial action--Illustrations from the Alps--From the mountains
    of the Jura--Theory applied to northern Europe--To Scotland,
    Wales, and Ireland--The fact of denudation established--Summary
    of the evidence--This fact the first step in geological theory._

The next agent of Denudation to which we invite the attention of our
readers, is one of which our own country affords us no example, but
which may be seen in full operation amidst the wild and impressive
scenery of Switzerland. And we know not how we can better introduce the
subject than by the solemn address of a great poet, in whom an ardent
love of nature was blended with a deep sense of religion. As he stood
in the midst of the snow-clad mountains that shut in the valley of
Chamouni, his spirit, “expanded by the genius of the spot,” soared away
from the scenes before him to the Great Invisible Author of all that is
beautiful and sublime in nature, and he poured forth that well-known
hymn of praise and worship in which he thus apostrophizes the massive
glaciers of Mont Blanc:--

    “Ye ice-falls! ye that from the mountain’s brow
    Adown enormous ravines slope amain--
    Torrents, methinks, that heard a mighty voice,
    And stopped at once amid their maddest plunge!
    Motionless torrents! silent cataracts!
    Who made you glorious as the gates of Heaven
    Beneath the keen full moon? Who bade the sun
    Clothe you with rainbows? Who with living flowers
    Of loveliest blue, spread garlands at your feet?
    God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
    Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
    God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
    Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
    And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
    And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!”[29]

A Glacier is an enormous mass of solid ice filling up a valley, and
stretching from the eternal snows which crown the summits of the
mountains, down to the smiling cornfields and rich pastures of the
plains. It is constantly fed by the accumulated snows of winter,
which, slipping and rolling down the slopes of the mountains, lodge
in the valleys below, and are there converted into ice. For it must
be remembered that the Glacier properly so called does not commonly
extend much higher than 9000 feet above the level of the sea. Beyond
that elevation the compact and massive ice gradually passes into
frozen snow, called by the French Nevé, and by the Germans Firn. The
change which takes place in the condition of the snow as it descends
into the valley is chiefly owing to these two circumstances: first,
it is closely compacted together by the weight of the snowy masses
pressing down upon it from above; and secondly, in the summer months
it is thawed upon the surface during the day by the heat of the
sun, and frozen again at night. On a small scale this process is
practically familiar to every school-boy. When he makes a snow-ball he
is practically converting a mass of snow into ice, and that by a series
of operations very closely resembling those which Nature employs in the
manufacture of a Glacier.

In Switzerland the Glacier is often two or three miles in breadth,
from twenty to thirty miles in length, and five or six hundred feet in
depth. Though so vast in its bulk and so solid in its character, it is
not, as might be supposed, a fixed, immovable mass. On the contrary, it
is moving incessantly, but slowly, down the valley which it occupies,
at the rate of several inches--sometimes one or two feet, and even
more--in the day. In Greenland a Glacier explored by Doctor Hayes, in
his expedition to the North Pole, was found to move for a whole year at
the average rate of a hundred feet a day. It may be thought, perhaps,
that this fact requires further confirmation; but at all events it is
certain that the language of the poet, when he addresses the Glaciers
as “motionless torrents,” though it conveys an accurate and beautiful
idea of the appearance they present to the eye, is not rigorously true
in a scientific sense. Indeed, it is just because the Glaciers are not
motionless that they serve as instruments of Denudation.

Their agency in this respect “consists partly in their power of
transporting gravel, sand, and huge stones, to great distances,
and partly in the smoothing, polishing, and scoring of their rocky
channels, and the boundary walls of the valleys through which they
pass. At the foot of every steep cliff or precipice in high Alpine
regions, a sloping heap is seen of rocky fragments detached by the
alternate action of frost and thaw. If these loose masses, instead
of accumulating on a stationary base, happen to fall upon a Glacier,
they will move along with it, and, in place of a single heap, they
will form in the course of years a long stream of blocks. If a Glacier
be twenty miles long, and its annual progression about five hundred
feet, it will require about two centuries for a block thus lodged upon
its surface to travel down from the higher to the lower regions, or
to the extremity of the icy mass. This terminal point usually remains
unchanged from year to year, although every part of the ice is in
motion, because the liquefaction by heat is just sufficient to balance
the onward movement of the Glacier, which may be compared to an endless
file of soldiers, pouring into a breach, and shot down as fast as they

“The stones carried along on the ice are called in Switzerland the
_moraines_ of the Glacier. There is always one line of blocks on each
side or edge of the icy stream, and often several in the middle, where
they are arranged in long ridges or mounds of snow and ice, often
several yards high. The reason of their projecting above the general
level, is the non-liquefaction of the ice in those parts of the surface
of the Glacier which are protected from the rays of the sun, or the
action of the wind, by the covering of the earth, sand, and stones.
The cause of _medial moraines_ was first explained by Agassiz, who
referred them to the confluence of tributary Glaciers. Upon the union
of two streams of ice, the right lateral moraine of one of the streams
comes in contact with the left lateral moraine of the other, and they
afterward move on together, in the centre, if the confluent Glaciers
are equal in size, or nearer to one side if unequal.

“Fragments of stone and sand which fall through crevasses in the ice,
and get interposed between the moving Glacier and the fundamental rock,
are pushed along so as to have their angles more or less worn off, and
many of them are entirely ground down into mud. Some blocks are pushed
along between the ice and the steep boundary rocks of the valley,
and these, like the rocky channel at the bottom of the valley, often
become smoothed and polished, and scored with parallel furrows, or
with lines and scratches produced by hard minerals, such as crystals of
quartz, which act like the diamond upon glass. The effect is perfectly
different from that caused by the action of water, or a muddy torrent
forcing along heavy stones; for these not being held like fragments of
rock in ice, and not being pushed along under great pressure, cannot
scoop out long rectilinear furrows or grooves parallel to each other.
The discovery of such markings at various heights far above the surface
of existing Glaciers, and for miles beyond their present terminations,
affords geological evidence of the former extension of the ice beyond
its present limits in Switzerland and other countries.”[30]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--Iceberg seen in mid-ocean 1400 miles from any
known land.]

Sometimes, however, it happens, especially in extreme northern and
southern latitudes, that the glacier valley leads down to the sea.
In such cases, huge masses of ice are floated off, and, with their
ponderous burden of gravel, mud, and rocks, are carried away by
currents toward the equator. Immense numbers of these floating islands
of ice, or Icebergs, as they are called, are seen by mariners drifting
along in the Northern and Southern oceans. In 1822 Scoresby counted
five hundred between the latitudes 69° and 70° N., many of which
measured a mile in circumference, and rose two hundred feet above the
surface of the sea.[31] The annexed drawing, copied by kind permission
of the author from Sir Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology, affords a
good idea of the appearance that such Icebergs present to the eye. The
one represented in the fore-ground was supposed to reach a height of
nearly three hundred feet, and was observed with many others floating
about in the Southern Ocean at a distance of 1400 miles from any known
land. An angular mass of rock was visible on the surface. The part
exposed was twelve feet high and from five to six broad: but it was
conjectured, from the color of the surrounding ice, that the greater
part of the stone was concealed from view.

How enormous must be the magnitude of those ponderous masses may be
learned from the fact that the bulk of ice below the level of the water
is about eight times as great as that above: and in point of fact,
Captain Sir John Ross saw several of them aground in Baffin’s Bay,
where the water was 1500 feet deep. It has been calculated that the
beds of earth and stones which they carry along cannot be less than
from 50,000 to 100,000 tons in weight. Sir Charles Lyell, writing in
1865 from the results of the latest investigations on this subject,
says: “Many had supposed that the magnitude commonly attributed to
icebergs by unscientific navigators was exaggerated; but now it appears
that the popular estimate of their dimensions has rather fallen within
than beyond the truth. Many of them, carefully measured by the
officers of the French exploring expedition of the Astrolabe, were
between 100 and 225 feet high above water, and from two to five miles
in length. Captain d’Urville ascertained one of them, which he saw
floating, to be _thirteen miles long_, and a hundred feet high, with
walls perfectly vertical.”[32]

They have been known to drift from Baffin’s Bay to the Azores, and
from the South Pole to the Cape of Good Hope.[33] As they approach the
milder climate of the temperate zones, the ice gradually melts away,
and thus the moraines of arctic and antarctic glaciers are deposited
at the bottom of the deep sea. In this way, submarine mountains
and valleys and table-lands are strewn over with scattered blocks
of foreign rocks, and gravel, and mud, which have been transported
hundreds of miles across the unfathomable abysses of the ocean.

       *       *       *       *       *

Though we are chiefly concerned with Glaciers and Icebergs as agents
of Denudation, yet we cannot pass away from the subject without
referring to the Geological theory of an ancient Glacial Period. This
little digression from the main purport of our present argument will
not be unacceptable, we hope, to our readers. The theory is in itself
interesting and ingenious; and it offers an admirable illustration
of the kind of reasoning by which Geologists are guided in their

It is well known that the action of moving ice leaves a very peculiar
and characteristic impress on the surface of the rocks, and even on the
general aspect of the country over which it passes. This is no mystery
of science, but a plain fact which any one that chooses may observe
for himself. Every Glacier carries along in its course a vast quantity
of loose gravel, hard sand, and large angular stones. A considerable
proportion of these materials in course of time fall through crevasses
in the ice, and become firmly embedded in the under surface of the
Glacier. Then, as the moving mass slowly descends the valley, they
are shoved along under enormous pressure, and the surface of the
rocks beneath is furrowed, scratched, and polished, in a remarkable
and unmistakable manner. The furrows and scratches are rectilinear
and parallel to an extent never seen in the marks produced by any
other natural agency: and they always coincide more or less in their
direction with the general course of the valley. A reciprocal action
often takes place: the large blocks of stone, frozen into the under
surface of the Glacier, are themselves scored and polished by friction
against the floor and sides of the valley.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--Block of Limestone furrowed, scratched, and
polished, from the Glacier of Rosenlaui, Switzerland. (Lyell.)

_aa_, White streaks or scratches. _bb_, Furrows.]

Similar effects are produced by Icebergs; not of course when drifting
about in the deep sea, but when they come into contact with a
gently-shelving coast and grate along the bottom. These mountains of
ice, laden with the débris of the land, are often carried along with
the velocity of from two to three miles an hour; and before their
enormous momentum can be entirely destroyed, an extensive surface of
rock must have been rounded, grooved, and scarred, pretty much in the
same way as by the action of a Glacier. There can be no failure of
the grinding materials. During the process of melting, the Iceberg is
constantly turning over according as the centre of gravity shifts its
position; and thus a new part of its surface, with fresh angular blocks
of stone, together with fresh masses of sand and gravel, is constantly
brought into contact with the floor of the ocean. And this is not mere
theory. All these phenomena may be witnessed any day on the shores of
Baffin’s Bay and Hudson’s Bay, and along the coast of Labrador.

Again, the evidence of glacial action may be discovered in the
materials themselves which have been transported by ice. Many of the
large erratic blocks, after having travelled immense distances, exhibit
the same sharp angular appearance as if they had only just fallen
down from the cliff on the mountain side. By this circumstance they
are at once distinguished from blocks of stone transported by running
water; for in these the angles are sure to be rounded off by friction.
Sometimes, too, they are deposited not only far away from the same
rock, but in regions where no rock of the same kind exists. In the
case of Icebergs, they are not unfrequently carried many hundreds of
miles before being dropped into the depths of the ocean, and, in the
course of their long journey, borne over the lofty ridges of submarine
mountain chains.

Furthermore, it often happens that a Glacier shrinks backward up the
valley, and sometimes even disappears altogether. When the melting of
the ice at the lower extremity exactly balances its onward progress,
then the Glacier seems stationary to the eye, and occupies from year to
year the same position. But, when a number of hot seasons follow one
another in immediate succession, the ice is melted more rapidly than
the Glacier advances, and in consequence it gradually becomes shorter,
and seems to the eye to recede toward the upper parts of the valley. In
this case the long lines of moraines, which before had rested on the
ice, are left spread out on the plains or deposited on the slopes of
the mountain. Immense blocks of stone are by this means frequently set
down on the summits of lofty crags, and in such like positions to which
they could not be brought by any other natural agency. These Perched
Blocks, as they are called, and also those long regular mounds of earth
and stones abound in several of the Swiss valleys, and constitute a
very striking feature of Alpine scenery.

Now, it appears that all these various characteristic marks of glacial
operations can be distinctly traced in many countries where the action
of moving ice has been unknown within the period of history. And on
this fact is founded the Geological theory of an ancient Glacial
Period. We are confidently assured that a great part of Northern
Europe, including even our own islands, not to speak of America and
other countries as well in the northern as in the southern hemisphere,
were, in some far distant age, the scene of those same phenomena
which are witnessed at the present day amid the solemn grandeur of
the Alps, and in the frozen wastes of the Arctic regions. In that age
enormous Glaciers moved slowly downward from the snow-clad heights over
innumerable valleys now rich with the fruits of the earth; ponderous
Icebergs floated over wide areas of the ocean, where now the dry land
appears; and vast piles of promiscuous rubbish, with great angular
blocks of stone, were deposited on the slopes and crests of submarine
mountains that now tower hundreds of feet above the level of the sea.

To illustrate this theory, we would begin with a country where the
vestiges of glacial operations in past times may be studied side by
side with the glacial phenomena of the present day. In Switzerland
it needs but little skill to discern many marks and tokens of moving
ice where moving ice is no longer found. In descending, for example,
the valley of the Hasli or the valley of the Rhone, the intelligent
traveller can hardly fail to observe how the rocks all around are
scarred and furrowed, precisely after the same fashion as the rocks in
the higher parts of the same valleys are now being scarred and furrowed
by the Glacier of the Aar and the Glacier of the Rhone. At intervals,
too, may be seen long mounds of unstratified gravel and mud, with large
fragments of rock, in every way resembling the terminal moraines now
daily accumulating at the extremities of existing Glaciers. When these
facts are once distinctly brought home to the mind, it is impossible to
resist the conclusion that several of the Alpine Glaciers once extended
far beyond their present limits down the valleys of Switzerland.

If we proceed a little distance to the mountains of the Jura, now
wholly devoid of Glaciers, we shall find that the same glacial
phenomena with which we have become so familiar in the Alps, are still
everywhere presented to the eye. And we feel instinctively impelled to
pursue the same line of inductive reasoning. Moving ice, we know from
abundant observation, is capable of producing these effects: nor have
we ever seen effects of this kind produced by any other cause: nay,
there is no other natural agent known that is capable of producing such
effects: it is therefore reasonable to infer that moving ice was the
cause of these effects; and that, in some bygone age, great masses of
ice moved slowly over the valleys of the Jura as they now move slowly
over the valleys of the Alps.

Another circumstance may here be noticed which is well worthy of
consideration. The Alps are composed of granite, gneiss, and such like
crystalline rocks: the Jura, of limestone and various other formations,
altogether different from those of the Alps. Now, scattered loosely
over the valleys of the Jura, and perched upon its lofty crests, we
find immense angular blocks--some of them as large as cottages--of
the Alpine rocks. The question naturally arises, how have they been
transported to their present site. Certainly not by the action of
water; for in that case the projecting angles would have been rounded
off, and the sharp edges worn away. But the work might have been easily
accomplished by the power of moving ice, and could not have been
accomplished by any other natural agency with which we are acquainted.
Thus we are led to conclude that the Glaciers of the Alps must, by some
means or another, have once made their way northward across the great
valley of Switzerland, fifty miles wide, and deposited their ponderous
burdens of gravel, sand, and erratic blocks on the mountains of the

It would carry us too far from our present purpose to draw out this
theory in all its details. But we cannot for-bear briefly to touch upon
some of the bold and startling conclusions to which it has led. The
Geologist having, by patient and varied exercise, in the regions of
existing Glaciers, trained his eye and his judgment in the observation
of those phenomena that mark the action of moving ice, soon begins to
discover that they are not wanting in other countries. They are not
to be found, indeed, beneath the burning sun of Africa, nor on the
borders of the Mediterranean Sea. But as he travels northward they
begin by degrees to appear; and when at length he reaches the shores
of the Baltic, they are spread out profusely before him as they were
in the bosom of the Alps. All this had puzzled Geologists for years;
but the clue has been found at last. What is going on to-day in
Switzerland, and in Greenland, and on the shores of Labrador, must have
been going on, ages ago, in Germany, and in Denmark, and on the shores
of the Baltic. We may argue from the effect to the cause. Here are the
moraines, the erratics, the perched blocks, and the surfaces of rock
furrowed and scratched with ice: at some past time there must have been
the moving Glaciers and the floating Icebergs.

Following out this line of argument, and applying it to countries
nearer home, Geologists have come to the conclusion that the Grampian
Hills in Scotland, the mountains of Kerry in Ireland, the Snowdonian
heights in Wales, and many other ranges of hills in these islands,
were in former times subjected to the action of moving ice. Nay, it
is contended, with much show of reason, that these islands must have
been, for a considerable time, in great part submerged beneath the
sea, and traversed by floating Icebergs. When large erratic blocks are
found in the immediate neighborhood of the formation from which they
have been derived, then it is easy to explain their origin and to trace
their course. But it often happens that the nearest rock of the same
mineral composition, and therefore, the nearest rock from which they
can possibly have been derived, is separated from the site which they
now occupy by a lofty chain of mountains. By what means, then, have
they been transported hither? Not by moving water, for their sharp
edges and projecting angles are still preserved. Not by Glaciers; for
a Glacier cannot climb a steep mountain ridge. It would seem, indeed,
that in the present geographical distribution of land and water, there
is no natural cause which could carry them from the parent rocks to
their present position. But if we suppose that in some long past age of
the world, Great Britain and Ireland were submerged beneath the sea,
and that Icebergs floated in the waters above, the problem is solved
at once. The fragments of far distant rocks frozen into the Icebergs
might then have been carried over the summits of what are now lofty
mountains, and as the ice melted away, might have been deposited all
along their slopes and even on their highest crests.

The presence of marine shells, belonging chiefly to species which now
exist only in the arctic seas, affords a strong confirmation of this
hypothesis. For they are found intimately associated with the erratic
blocks, not merely in valleys, to which the sea might be supposed
to have had access in times of extraordinary flood, but upon lofty
mountains at a height of five hundred, six hundred, and even thirteen
hundred feet above the level of the sea. There is no difficulty in
accounting for this phenomenon if we suppose the country to have been
at one time submerged, and the glacial drift in which the shells are
found embedded to have been deposited by Icebergs on the floor of the
ocean. If we refuse to make this supposition the difficulty is simply

       *       *       *       *       *

But it is somewhat beside our purpose to wander so far into the region
of theory and speculation. Our main object in these chapters has been
to establish the fact that Denudation is actually taking place to an
almost incredible extent, in the present age of the world. For this
purpose we have enumerated the principal agents by which this process
is carried on; and we have endeavored to show from the authenticated
researches of travellers and scientific men that they have been at work
within the period of history, and are still at work around us. Our
summary is, indeed, brief; but it is still sufficient to demonstrate
that, even during the present age, the whole surface of the Globe has
been ever in a constant state of change; that mountain heights have
been worn away, and valleys have been scooped out, and lofty cliffs
have disappeared, and bold headlands have been rent in twain, and rocks
and earths have day by day been broken up and dissolved and decomposed,
by the never ceasing operation of natural causes; and that the broken
fragments are at every moment moving along over the surface of the land
or through the depths of the sea.

Now Geologists tell us that these are the raw materials of a new
building which is going on in these latter times under the guiding hand
of Nature. Indeed, they say it is not so much a new building as the
uppermost story of an old building. If we descend into the Crust of
the Earth we may trace this building even from the foundations, which
are laid upon the solid granite, up through each successive stage of
limestone, and sandstone, slate, conglomerate, and clay, until we come
to the surface, where new strata, composed of the same elements, and
exhibiting the same general characteristics, are slowly growing up
before our eyes. Thus will the idea gradually steal upon the mind, that
the works of ages long gone by are reproduced once again in our own
days, and that we may study the history of the past in the mirror of
the present which nature holds up to our view.

This is the branch of Geological argument upon which we are now about
to enter. We have visited Nature, as it were, in her quarry, and we
have seen how she collects her materials, how she fashions them to
her purpose, how she transports them to the place for which they are
designed. If it be true, as alleged, that with these materials she is
actually engaged, at the present moment, in building upon the existing
surface of our Globe a new series of stratified rocks, which are the
exact counterpart of those beneath, this fact affords at least a very
strong presumption in favor of one very important principle in the
theory of Geologists. Let us, then, follow the course of her operations
and judge for ourselves.





    _Formation of stratified rocks ascribed to the agency of
    natural causes--This theory supported by facts--The argument
    stated--Examples of mechanical rocks--Materials of which they
    are composed--Origin and history of these materials traced
    out--Process of deposition--Process of consolidation--Instances
    of consolidation by pressure--Consolidation perfected by
    natural cements--Curious illustrations--Consolidation of
    sandstone in Cornwall--Arrangement of strata explained by
    intermittent action of the agents of Denudation._

The Stratification of Rocks is one of the most remarkable features
which the Crust of the Earth presents to our notice; and the principles
by which this phenomenon is explained belong to the very foundation of
Geological theory. It is now universally agreed that the successive
layers or strata, which constitute such a very large proportion of the
Earth’s Crust, and which cannot fail to attract the notice even of the
most careless observer, have been slowly built up during a long series
of ages by the action of natural causes. In support of this bold and
comprehensive theory, geologists appeal to the operations which are
going on in nature at the present day, or which have been observed and
recorded within historic times. There is a vast machinery, they say,
even now at work all over the world, breaking up the rocks that appear
at the surface of the Earth, transporting the materials to different
sites, and there constructing new strata, just the counterpart of those
which we see piled up one above the other, wherever a section of the
Earth’s Crust is exposed to view. It is given to us, therefore, on the
one hand to contemplate the finished work as it exists in the Crust
of the Earth, and on the other, to examine the work still in progress
upon its surface; and if both are found to agree in all their most
remarkable characteristics, it is not unreasonable to infer that the
one was produced in bygone ages by the very same causes that are now
busy in the production of the other.

In the examination of this argument we first turned our attention to
the numerous and powerful agents that are now employed in the breaking
up and transporting of existing rocks. It was impossible within our
narrow limits to enumerate them all. But we selected those which are
at the same time the most familiar in their operations, and the most
striking in their results:--mighty rivers discharging daily and hourly
into the sea the accumulated spoils of vast continents; the breakers
of the ocean dashing with unceasing energy against all the cliffs and
coasts of the world; the tides and currents of the sea taking up the
ruins which the breakers have made, and carrying them far away to the
lonely depths of the ocean; the frozen rain bursting massive rocks
asunder with its expansive force, and sending the fragments over lofty
cliffs and steep precipices to become the prey of roaring mountain
torrents, or perhaps, more fortunate, to find a place of tranquil rest
on the bosom of the glittering Glacier; then this wondrous Glacier
itself, a moving sea of ice, bearing along its ponderous burden from
the summits of lofty mountains far down into the smiling plains, and
meanwhile, with tremendous power, grinding, and furrowing, and wearing
away the floor of the valley, and leaving behind it an impress which
even time cannot efface; and lastly, the massive Icebergs which stud
the northern and southern seas, drifting along like floating islands
above the fathomless abysses of the ocean, and scattering their huge
boulders over the surface of submarine mountains and valleys.

All these phenomena have been learned from actual and repeated
observation. They are not philosophical speculations, but ascertained
facts. We cannot doubt, therefore, that the work of demolition is going
on; it remains for us now to inquire about the work of reconstruction.

The reader will remember that Geologists divide the stratified rocks
into three distinct classes, Mechanical, Chemical, and Organic. This
distinction, they say, is founded on the actual operations of Nature.
From a close examination of the natural agents now at work in the
world, it appears that some strata are being formed chiefly by the
action of mechanical force; others chiefly by the influence of chemical
laws; and others again chiefly by the intervention of organic life.
Thus we have three distinct classes of rock at present coming into
existence, each exhibiting its own peculiar characteristics, and each,
moreover, having its counterpart among the strata that compose the
Crust of the Earth. We shall now proceed to set forth some of the
evidence that may be advanced in favor of these important conclusions,
beginning with those rocks that are called Mechanical.

And first it is important to have, at least, a general idea of the
appearance which Mechanical Rocks present to the eye. We shall
take three familiar examples, Conglomerate, Sandstone, and Clay.
Conglomerate, or Pudding-stone as it is sometimes called, is composed
of pebbles, gravel, and sand, more or less compacted together, and
generally forming a hard and solid mass. The various materials of
which it is composed, though united in the one rock, nevertheless
remain their own external forms, and may be distinctly recognized even
by the unpractised eye. Sandstone, as the name implies, is made up of
grains of sand closely compressed and cemented together. The quality
and appearance of this rock vary very much according to the size and
character of its constituent particles. Often the grains of sand are
as large as peas, or even larger; sometimes they are so minute that
they cannot be distinguished without the aid of a lens. For the most
part they consist of quartz, with grains of limestone intermixed; and
they are usually rounded, as if by the action of running water. Clay
is a rather vague and general term, now commonly employed to denote
any finely-divided mineral matter which contains from ten to thirty
per cent. of Alumina, and is thereby rendered plastic, and capable,
when softened with water, of being moulded like paste with the hand.
It occurs in many different forms among the strata of the Earth,
according to the different minerals that enter into its composition
and the different influences to which it has been subjected. Marl and
Loam may be taken as well-known illustrations: the former is a clay in
which there is a large proportion of calcareous matter; the latter is
a mixture of clay and sand. Sometimes by pressure clay is condensed
into a kind of slaty rock called Shale, which has the property of being
easily split up into an immense number of thin plates or laminæ.

It should be remembered that there is not always a perfect uniformity
in the structure of these rocks. In Conglomerate, for example, the
pebbles may be as large as cannon balls, or they may be only the size
of walnuts. So, too, we have every variety of fineness and coarseness
in the quality of Sandstone. Again, both Conglomerate and Sandstone
are often largely adulterated with clay, and on the other hand, clay
will sometimes contain more than its usual proportion of sand or lime.
Lastly, these materials are in one place compacted into hard and solid
rock, in another they are found in a loose and incoherent condition.

But amidst all these varieties of form and texture, the rocks we have
been describing generally preserve their peculiar characteristics,
and with a little experience can be easily recognized. They are found
to constitute a very large part, perhaps we might say the larger
part, of the stratified rocks in every country that has hitherto been
explored by Geologists. Wherever we go we are met by the same familiar
appearances;--beds of Conglomerate, Sandstone, Clay, Marl, Shale,
recurring again and again through a series of many hundred strata,
sometimes in one order, and sometimes in another; sometimes without any
formation of a different kind intervening, and sometimes alternating
with limestone or other rocks of which we shall speak hereafter.

Such is the general character and appearance of those strata which are
known among Geologists as Aqueous Rocks of Mechanical origin. Now,
it must at once strike the reader, that these rocks are made up of
just those very materials--the same both in kind and in form--that we
have already shown to be daily prepared and fashioned by a vast and
complex machinery in the great workshop of Nature. He will remember
how enormous blocks are detached from the mountain side, or from the
cliffs on the seashore, and broken up into fragments; how the fragments
in time become pebbles, sand, and mud; and how these are caught up by
rivers, tides, and currents, and carried far away to sea. Here we have
certainly all the materials that are necessary for the building up of
Conglomerate, Sandstone, and Shale. We have seen how they are prepared
by the hand of Nature, how they are moulded into shape, how they are
transported from place to place. Let us now pursue the sequel of their
history, and follow them on to the end.

It is plain they cannot remain forever suspended in water; sooner
or later they must fall to the bottom. Yet they will not all fall
together. For though all are carried downward by the one force of
gravity, those materials that are smaller and lighter will be more
impeded by the resistance of the water. The pebbles and coarse gravel
will be the first to reach the bottom, then the sand, and last of all
the fine, impalpable mud. Thus, as the current sweeps along in its
course, the sediment which it bears away from the land will be in a
manner sorted, and three distinct layers of different materials will
be deposited in the bed of the ocean;--first, nearest to the shore,
a layer of pebbles and coarse gravel, then a layer of sand, and last
of all a layer of fine mud or clay. This is the first step in the
construction of stratified rock. To complete the work nothing more
is necessary than the consolidation of these loose and incoherent
materials. If this could be accomplished, then we should have a solid
stratum of Conglomerate, a solid stratum of Sandstone, and a solid
stratum of Shale formed in the bed of the ocean.

With regard to this operation, however, we cannot hope for the
advantage we have hitherto enjoyed, of actual observation. The process
of consolidation, if it take place at all, is going on in the depths of
the Sea. But though it is thus removed beyond the reach of our senses,
it is not beyond the reach of our intelligence. We may borrow the torch
of Science, and search even into the hidden recesses of Nature’s secret

In the first place, a partial consolidation of clay and sand, and
even of gravel, may take place under the influence of pressure alone.
Many of us are familiar with this truth, but few, perhaps, are aware
how extensively it is illustrated in the practical arts of life. Here
are some curious and interesting examples. The minute fragments of
coal which are produced by the friction of larger blocks against one
another, and which may be obtained abundantly in the neighborhood of
every coal mine, are now manufactured into a solid patent fuel by the
simple process of forcible compression. Again, the dust and rubble
of black lead, formerly cast aside as useless, are now carefully
collected, and by no other force than pressure are converted into a
solid mass, fit to be employed in the manufacture of lead-pencils. “The
graphite or black lead of commerce,” says Sir Charles Lyell, “having
become very scarce, Mr. Brockedon contrived a method by which the
dust of the purer portions of the mineral found in Borrowdale might
be recomposed into a mass as dense and as compact as native graphite.
The powder of graphite is first carefully prepared and freed from
air, and placed under a powerful press on a strong steel die, with
air-tight fittings. It is then struck several blows, each of a power
of a thousand tons; after which operation the powder is so perfectly
solidified that it can be cut for pencils, and exhibits, when broken,
the same texture as native graphite.”[35] An instance yet more to our
purpose occurs in the experiments made to try the force of gunpowder.
Leathern bags filled with sand are put into the mortar that is to
receive the cannon-ball at a distance of fifty feet from the mouth of
the gun; and the sand is often compressed by the percussion of the
ball into a solid mass of Sandstone.[36] Now the deposits of which we
are speaking cannot fail to be subjected to a very powerful and a very
constant compressing force. For, since the process of deposition is
always going on, the matter which is deposited to-day will to-morrow be
covered with a new layer, and in the course of ages it may lie beneath
an immense pile of mineral matter, hundreds or even thousands of feet
in thickness.

But in fact there is another and more important agent at work. When
the harder and more compact blocks of Conglomerate and Sandstone are
subjected to a close analysis in the laboratory of the chemist, it is
found that they are strongly cemented together, sometimes by a solution
of lime filling up the interstices between the grains or pebbles,
sometimes by a solution of silica, sometimes by a solution of iron. Now
this discovery affords a useful clue when we come to study the present
operations of Nature. It is to the agency of a mineral cement we must
look for the perfect consolidation of Mechanical Rocks. Let us see if
such a cement can be found.

It is well known that the water of rivers, lakes, and springs, is
more or less charged with carbonic acid gas; and therefore, when it
comes in contact with limestone, it dissolves a portion of the lime
and holds it in solution. Hence it follows that in every part of the
world there exists an abundant store of calcareous cement. Again, our
readers must have observed the brownish, rusty color sometimes produced
by streams on the surface of rocks and herbage. This is the result of
the iron with which the streams are impregnated: and we are informed by
scientific inquirers that water containing a solution of iron prevails
very generally in almost all countries. The solution of silica in water
is not so common; because pure silica cannot be dissolved by water
except at a very high temperature. Nevertheless, it has been clearly
demonstrated by observation, that silica, where it occurs in certain
combinations with other mineral substances, may be dissolved readily
enough: for instance, in the decomposition of felspar, and of all rocks
in which felspar is an ingredient, silica is carried off in a state of
solution.[37] And since these rocks are very numerous, and distributed
over every part of the earth, we may fairly conclude that a solution of
silica exists very abundantly in nature.

Now when we bear in mind that we have on the one hand in the Crust of
the Earth, solid strata of Conglomerate and Sandstone, exhibiting the
evident operation of these mineral cements; and on the other hand, near
the surface, the loose materials of Conglomerate and Sandstone as if
ready to be cemented, and close at hand the cementing mineral itself in
a convenient form, it is not unreasonable to assume that the process
should actually take place;--that water highly charged with iron, or
lime, or silica, should filter through the loose gravel and sand,
depositing its mineral cement as it passes along, and converting the
newly-formed strata into compact and solid rock.

But this conclusion does not rest upon antecedent probability alone.
We have proof unquestionable that a process such as we have described
is actually going on. In the dredging of the river Thames large masses
of solid Conglomerate are found from time to time, firmly compacted
together by a ferruginous cement. And there is internal evidence that
the process of solidification has been effected by natural causes
within historic times; for it happens not unfrequently that Roman coins
and fragments of pottery are found embedded in the solid block of
stone. Similar discoveries were made in deepening the bed of the river
Dove in Derbyshire, about the year 1832. Thousands of silver coins were
found about ten feet under the surface, firmly cemented into a hard
Conglomerate. Several of these coins bear dates of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries; and therefore the pebbles which form the rock
must have been deposited and converted into a solid mass since that
time. But we must not suppose that so long an interval is necessary for
the consolidation of rocks. In the early part of the present century
a vessel called the Thetis was wrecked off cape Frio on the coast of
Brazil. A few months afterward, when an attempt was successfully made
to recover the dollars and other treasures which had gone to the
bottom with the wreck, they were found completely enveloped in solid
masses of quartzose Sandstone. The materials of the newly-formed stone
were in this case manifestly derived from the granite rocks of the
Brazilian coast.[38]

In many parts of the Mediterranean, and along its shores, this process
is known to be going on with equal rapidity. “The new-formed strata
of Asia Minor,” writes Sir Charles Lyell, “consists of stone, not of
loose, incoherent materials. Almost all the streamlets and rivers,
like many of those in Tuscany and the south of Italy, hold abundance
of carbonate of lime in solution, and precipitate Travertine, or
sometimes bind together the sand and gravel into solid Sandstones
and Conglomerates; every delta and sandbar thus acquires solidity,
which often prevents streams from forcing their way through them, so
that their mouths are constantly changing their position.”[39] In the
Museum at Montpelier is exhibited a cannon embedded in a crystalline
calcareous rock which was taken up from the bed of the Mediterranean
near the mouth of the Rhone.[40]

To these examples of the solidification of rock within recent times
we are tempted to add one more, taken from a Memoir published by the
late Dr. Paris in the Transactions of the Royal Geological Society of
Cornwall. “A sandstone occurs in various parts of the northern coast
of Cornwall, which affords a most instructive example of a recent
formation, since we here actually detect Nature at work in converting
loose sand into solid rock. A very considerable portion of the northern
coast of Cornwall is covered with calcareous sand, consisting of minute
particles of comminuted shells, which in some places has accumulated
in quantities so great, as to have formed hills of from forty to
fifty feet in elevation. In digging into these sand-hills, or upon
the occasional removal of some part of them by the winds, the remains
of houses may be seen; and in places where the churchyards have been
overwhelmed, a great number of human bones may be found. The sand is
supposed to have been originally brought from the sea by hurricanes,
probably at a remote period. It first appears in a state of slight but
increasing aggregation on several parts of the shore in the Bay of St.
Ives; but on approaching the Gwythian River it becomes more extensive
and indurated.... It is around the promontory of New Kaye that the
most extensive formation of Sandstone takes place. Here it may be seen
in different stages of induration, from a state in which it is too
friable to be detached from the rock on which it reposes, to a hardness
so considerable that it requires a very violent blow from a sledge to
break it. Buildings are constructed of it; the church of Cranstock is
entirely built with it; and it is also employed for various articles of
domestic and agricultural uses.”

No reasonable doubt can therefore remain that the loose beds of gravel,
sand, and clay, which, as we have already seen, are deposited from day
to day, and from year to year, and from century to century, beneath
the waters of the ocean, may be converted in the course of time by
natural agents into solid rocks of Conglomerate, of Sandstone, and of
Shale. But this is not enough. It yet remains for us to explain how
these solid rocks come to be arranged in a series of distinct layers
or strata. The reader will remember that the supply of materials in
any given area of the ocean is not fixed and continuous, but, on the
contrary, variable and intermittent. During the periodical rains within
the tropics, and during the melting of the snows in high latitudes or
in mountain regions, the rivers become enormously swollen, and carry
down a far greater quantity of sediment than at other seasons. The
waste of cliffs, too, by the action of the waves, is much greater in
winter than in summer. Thus, while at one season a particular river
or current may be comparatively free from sediment, at another it
will carry along in its turbid course an almost incredible freight of
mineral matter. We have a notable example in the case of the Ganges.
The bulk of earthy matter which this river discharges into the sea
during the four months of rain, averages about 50,000,000 of cubic feet
per day; whereas the daily discharge during the three months of hot
weather is considerably less than one hundredth part of that amount.[41]

Besides this variety in the quantity of materials carried, there is
also a great variety in the velocity both of rivers and of currents;
and therefore they will not always carry the same materials to the same
distance; for the less rapid the stream, the sooner will the sediment
fall to the bottom. We may add that currents, as is well known, often
change their direction from various causes, and thus at different times
they will carry the waste of the land to different parts of the ocean.

From these considerations two conclusions may be fairly deduced:
First, that the process of deposition may often go on very rapidly
for a time over a given area, and then altogether cease, and after an
interval begin again. In this way time may be allowed for one deposit
to acquire more or less consistency before the next is superimposed;
and thus a succession of distinct beds will be produced. Secondly, we
may infer that the same precise materials will not always be deposited
over the same area; at one time it will be sand, at another gravel,
at another clay, at another some combination of these or other
mineral substances. And thus it may happen that the strata deposited
in successive periods of time shall not only be distinct one from the
other, but composed of different materials;--that there shall be,
in fact, as we so often see that there are, beds of Conglomerate,
Sandstone, Clay, Marl, and other rocks, succeeding one another in every
variety of order.





    _Impossible to witness the formation of stratified rocks in the
    depths of the ocean--On a small scale examples are exhibited
    by rivers and lakes--Alluvial plains--Their extraordinary
    fertility--Great basin of the Nile--Experiments of the Royal
    Society--The Mississippi and the Orinoco--Some rivers fill
    up their own channels--Case of the river Po--Artificial
    embankments--Large tract of alluvial soil deposited by the
    Rhone in the Lake of Geneva--Deltas--The delta of the Ganges
    and Brahmapootra--Delta of the Nile._

The argument set forth in the last chapter is simple, ingenious,
and persuasive. Nay, we must fairly confess that to us it seems
conclusive. We do not mean to say that it amounts to a rigorous
demonstration. But it affords at least a strong presumption that the
process of deposition, the process of consolidation, and the process of
stratification, are going on to a vast extent beneath the waters of the
ocean; and that, in these latter ages of the world’s history, Aqueous
Rocks are slowly growing up under the influence of natural causes,
which resemble in every important feature those that are now attracting
so much attention within the Crust of the Earth. We are therefore
prepared to accept this conclusion, if it be not found at variance with
any well-established fact, or with any known and certain truth. But in
matters of physical science the evidence of our senses is, after all,
the most satisfactory argument. And our readers, no doubt, would like
to witness, if possible, with their eyes, the building up of Stratified
Rocks. Now, though it is not given to us to see this process in all its
colossal magnitude as it goes on within the depths of the mighty ocean,
it is yet possible to behold it exhibited, as it were, in miniature, in
certain cases where the sediment of rivers is deposited within reach of

Every one is familiar with the fact that many rivers overflow their
banks at certain seasons, and spread themselves out over a wide area,
sometimes reaching to the foot of the hills that bound the valleys
through which they flow. This is the origin of those Alluvial Plains
so remarkable for their surpassing richness and fertility. In each
successive year a thin film of sediment is deposited on the surface
of the land; and thus in the course of ages a soil is formed capable
of producing, season after season, the most luxuriant crops without
manifesting any symptoms of exhaustion. The soil of the Alluvial Plain
near St. Louis, on the Mississippi, is thus spoken of by a modern
traveller: “As to the quality of the land, any given number of crops
might be grown off it. Corn has been raised on it for a hundred years
together--as far back as the settlement is known. To inquire about the
system of farming in the West is not productive of information which
would be of service on the continent of Europe. There is no system: the
farmer scratches the ground and throws in the seed, and his bountiful
harvests come up year after year without further thought or trouble.
Thousands of centuries have made the soil for him, and it defies him to
make too heavy demands upon it. It gives him all he asks, and is never
known to disappoint or fail.”[42]

The great basin of the Nile offers an admirable example of an
Alluvial Plain on a scale of considerable magnitude. Even in the days
of Herodotus, Egypt was regarded as the “gift of the Nile:” and the
correctness of this opinion has been placed beyond all reasonable
doubt by the investigations of modern science. The river bears along
in its current, especially during the flood season, a large quantity
of fine earthy sediment obtained by the process of Denudation from the
mountains of central Africa. Once a year, between the months of July
and November, it overflows its banks, and this sediment is deposited on
the adjoining plains. Thus a new layer of rich soil is spread out every
year over the existing surface; and the whole country is, in a manner,
growing upward at the average rate, according to a rough estimate, of
about six inches in the century. Near Cairo, where excavations have
been made, the successive layers of annual deposit are distinctly
visible to the eye. And it is worthy of remark that, although each one
of these is no thicker than a sheet of paste-board, the stratum of
alluvial soil which overlies the sands of the desert, and which to all
appearance has come into existence by the very same process, is often
forty, fifty, and even sixty feet in depth.

A series of interesting observations and experiments have been recently
made under the auspices of the Royal Society, which afford some useful
information on this subject. The colossal statue of Rameses, near
Memphis, was found to be partly embedded in a stratum of mud which
had gradually accumulated around it. Upon sinking a shaft, it was
discovered that from the present surface of the plain to the base of
the pedestal is a distance of nearly ten feet. Now, Rameses flourished,
according to Lepsius, about one thousand three hundred and sixty years
before the Christian Era; and therefore, since that time, or within a
space of 3200 years, it is pretty clear that a thickness of ten feet
has been added at this spot to the Alluvial Plain of the Nile. It is
hard to resist the conclusion that the next stratum of ten feet as we
proceed downward, which, in every respect, resembles the first, must
have been produced in the same way by natural causes; and so on till we
reach the barren sand of the desert, which is here just forty-two feet
below the present level of the plain.[43]

It should seem, therefore, that Egypt is nothing more than a great
Alluvial Plain, slowly built up in the long lapse of ages, by the
annual inundations of the Nile. Vast tracts of the same kind are to
be found in other parts of the world. The Mississippi, which drains
about one-seventh of the whole North American continent, has formed an
Alluvial Plain more than a thousand miles in length, and from thirty
to eighty in breadth. And in South America, the Orinoco once a year
spreads out its swollen and turbid waters over an area not unfrequently
seventy miles broad; leaving behind, when it subsides, a substantial
layer of muddy sediment to enrich the soil.[44] It would be easy to
accumulate examples. But we shall be content with having referred
the reader to the Great Basin of the Nile, which affords special
opportunities for the study of alluvial phenomena; being illustrated at
once by the historical monuments of remote antiquity and the scientific
researches of recent times.

There is another process by which Alluvial Plains are formed. It often
happens that a river fills up the channel in which it has been moving
for years, and is forced to shift its course and seek a new passage
to the sea. In progress of time this channel is filled up like the
former and deserted, and then a third, and then a fourth. At each
change a new stratum is formed, almost always distinguished for its
extraordinary fertility. This phenomenon is chiefly to be looked for
when an extensive and almost level plain lies between some lofty range
of mountains and the sea. In such a case, the river which bears away
the waste of the mountains, will move onward in its course with a
sluggish current, and will, of necessity, deposit the greater part of
its burden on the way. There is scarcely a country in the world that
does not abound in formations of this kind; and we could point to many
notable instances in which herds of cattle are now grazing on the very
spot where, within quite recent times, the turbid waters of some great
stream flowed sullenly along.

The river Po, which receives through a thousand mountain torrents
an enormous quantity of mineral sediment from the Alps, affords an
instructive example. Since the beginning of the fifteenth century it
has many times changed its course, often committing great devastations,
and always leaving behind unmistakable traces of its movements. Several
towns that once stood on the left bank of the river are now on the
right. In some instances parish churches and religious houses were
pulled down when the devouring stream was seen slowly to approach,
and then rebuilt with the same materials at a greater distance. An
old channel may be easily recognized at the present day near Cremona,
which bears the name of Po Morto, and another called Po Vecchio, in the
territory of Parma.

It may be interesting to our readers to learn that these movements have
been checked in modern times. By a system of artificial embankment the
waters of the river are now confined within definite and narrow limits:
thus the velocity of the current is increased and a very considerable
portion of the sediment is carried on to the sea. Nevertheless, much
is still deposited in the bed of the river, which is, in consequence,
raised higher and higher each successive year. Hence it has become
necessary, in order to prevent inundations, to add every season to
the height of the embankments, so that the river now presents the
appearance of an enormous aqueduct, of which some idea may be formed
from the fact that, in the neighborhood of Ferrara, the surface of
the stream is higher than the roofs of the houses. This system of
embankment is carried on very extensively in Northern Italy to check
the overflowing of rivers, and to prevent them from changing their
courses. It is as old as the time of Dante, who tells us that the
inhabitants of Padua erected barriers along the Brenta when the snows
began to melt and the season of the floods was approaching,

        “Per difender lor ville e lor castelli,
        Anzi che Chiarentana il caldo senta.”

        _Inferno_, Canto xv.

As a river sometimes fills up its own channel, so too may it fill up
a lake through which it flows, and convert it likewise into a great
Alluvial Plain. Thus it is said several extensive lakes have been
transformed into dry land in modern times near Parma, Piacenza, and
Cremona. Elsewhere the process may be seen in actual operation. The
Rhone when it enters the lake of Geneva is a turbid discolored stream;
the natural consequence of the immense quantity of earthy sediment
with which it is charged. But as it slowly moves along, the sediment
falls to the bottom, and when, at length, “by Leman’s waters washed,”
it emerges at the town of Geneva, and shoots beneath the magnificent
bridge that joins the opposite shores, it has already assumed that
beautiful azure blue which travellers love to gaze on, and poets love
to sing. The sediment left behind goes to form a great alluvial tract
which is slowly but steadily advancing into the lake. An ancient town
called Port Vallais, which, eight centuries ago, stood at the water’s
edge, is now a mile and a half inland. And if the world were to last
long enough, and the natural agents at present in operation were to
remain unchanged, the time would come, we can scarcely doubt, when the
whole lake of Geneva would have been converted into an Alluvial Plain
of vast extent and inexhaustible fertility.

This last example leads us on to the phenomenon of Deltas, which
afford, perhaps, the best opportunity of observing the actual formation
of stratified rocks. Some large rivers, as we have already seen, enter
the sea with such extreme velocity as to bear away their sediment to a
distance of several hundred miles from the land. But in other cases the
onward rush of the stream is much sooner arrested, and the sediment,
if it be not caught up by ocean currents, is deposited near the mouth
of the river, and forms a triangular tract of alluvial land. This kind
of deposit is called a Delta, from the resemblance it bears to the
letter (Δ) of that name in the Greek Alphabet. The apex of the triangle
points up the stream, the base is toward the sea. Hence, when a Delta
is formed the river naturally divides into two branches, one flowing to
the right, the other to the left. In progress of time new channels are
almost always made, and the great stream empties itself into the sea by
many mouths.

The Delta formed in the Bay of Bengal by the two great rivers of
India, the Ganges and the Brahmapootra, offers an illustration of
this phenomenon on a scale of unusual magnitude. Indeed, strictly
speaking, it is not one Delta only, but rather two Deltas lying side
by side; the one deriving its origin from the Ganges, the other from
the Brahmapootra. This double Delta extends its base for two hundred
and fifty miles along the Bay of Bengal, and stretches inward into the
continent of India to an almost equal distance. Here, then, is a vast
tract of country manifestly composed of earthy sediment, obtained by
the process of Denudation from the Himalayan mountains, and afterward
transported to its present site by the agency of moving water. But
the deposition of earthy matter does not suddenly come to an end when
we reach the present line of the coast. The sea is visibly discolored
by the sediment far beyond the actual base of the Delta; and a sloping
bank of mud is found to stretch beneath the waters of the Bay to a
distance of a hundred miles.

Even within the short period of a man’s life the domain of dry land
is often visibly enlarged. Sandbanks are first formed in some of
those numerous winding channels through which the two rivers find
their way to the sea. The sandbanks, receiving fresh accessions
during each succeeding flood, in a short time become islands; and
the islands have been known, in a few years, to attain a superficial
extent of many square miles. Then begins to appear a wild and
luxuriant vegetation--reeds, long grass, shrubs, and trees; and those
impenetrable thickets are formed, to which the buffalo, the rhinoceros,
and the tiger soon resort for shelter. A very extensive tract of this
kind, adjoining the sea-coast, and known as the Sunderbunds, is said to
be as large as the principality of Wales.

The Delta of the Nile, though not quite one-half as large as the
Delta of the Ganges, presents nevertheless some features of peculiar
interest. In many places where a vertical section is exposed to view,
the phenomenon of stratification may be distinctly recognized. The
upper part of the deposit belonging to each year is composed of earth
of a lighter color than the lower part; and the whole forms a distinct
layer of hardened clay, which may be easily separated from those above
and below. This formation, therefore, corresponds exactly with those
strata of shale which we so often meet with in the Crust of the Earth.
Again, many of the old channels through which the Nile made its way
to the sea in ancient times, have been since filled up and converted
into solid land. The two extreme arms of the river, which formerly
enclosed the Delta, were two hundred miles apart where they entered
the Mediterranean. But these channels are now Alluvial Plains, and the
base of the Delta is but ninety miles in length. Hence, though the
quantity of land which has been formed by the sediment of the Nile is
much greater now than it formerly was, the size of the Delta properly
so called has not been increased but diminished.

If we turn to the great continent of America, we are met by results
not less striking and important. The Delta of the Mississippi is two
hundred miles in length, and one hundred and forty in breadth. This
vast stratum of mud is between five and six hundred feet thick, and
covers an area twelve thousand square miles in extent. Each year it
receives from the great _Father of Rivers_ a new accession of sediment
which is computed at 3,700,000,000 of cubic feet. And besides this
annual deposit of inorganic matter, we must not omit from our estimate
the countless trees of various species and of gigantic size, which
are torn up by the floods, carried along by the impetuous stream, and
buried at last with the bones of animals, and works of human art,
and other spoils of the land, in the mud of the Delta at the river’s





    _Chemical agency employed in the formation of mechanical
    rock--But some rocks produced almost exclusively by the
    action of chemical laws--Difference between a mixture
    and a solution--A saturated solution--Stalactites and
    Stalagmites--Fantastic columns in limestone caverns--The grotto
    of Antiparos in the Grecian Archipelago--Wyer’s cave in the
    Blue Mountains of America--Travertine rock in Italy--Growth of
    limestone in the Solfatara Lake near Tivoli--Incrustations of
    the Anio--Formation of travertine at the baths of San Filippo
    and San Vignone._

The Aqueous Rocks of which we have spoken in the last two chapters are
called by Geologists Mechanical; inasmuch as they owe their existence
chiefly to the agency of Mechanical force. It should be observed,
however, that a very considerable share in the production of these
rocks must be ascribed, not unfrequently, to Chemical influence.
Chemical action helps to prepare the materials of which they are
composed; and Chemical action likewise furnishes the calcareous,
siliceous, and other mineral cements by which they are, in a great
measure, consolidated. There is, however, a second class of Aqueous
Rocks which are produced almost exclusively by the operation of
Chemical laws, and which we have accordingly denominated Stratified
Rocks of Chemical Origin. It is of these that we purpose to speak in
the present chapter. They constitute a much smaller proportion of the
Earth’s Crust than either the Mechanical or the Organic Rocks. But the
history of their formation is curious and instructive. We shall confine
ourselves to one or two simple and familiar illustrations.

In the course of these illustrations we shall have a good deal to say
about Carbonate of Lime in a state of solution; and it may perhaps be
useful to explain, first of all, what is meant by a solution, in the
technical language of Chemistry. If a spoonful of salt is put into a
tumbler of water, the particles of salt, after a little time, cease to
cohere together, and become so diffused through the water as to be no
longer visible to the eye, although their presence in every part may be
easily discerned by the taste. The salt is then said to be _dissolved_,
and the water in which it is dissolved is called a _solution_ of salt.
It is important to distinguish the case of a solution from the case of
a mere mechanical mixture. If, instead of the salt, we were to put into
the tumbler of water a spoonful of very fine sand, then we should have
a _mixture_ but not a _solution_. By stirring briskly the contents of
the tumbler we might, indeed, effect a very close union between the
particles of water and the particles of sand: but this union would be
altogether different in kind from the union that was observed in the
former case between the particles of water and the particles of salt.
First, the sand would remain visible to the eye, making the water
turbid and discolored; whereas the salt entirely disappeared, leaving
the water limpid and transparent as before. Again, if the water be
allowed to rest, the sand will in time fall to the bottom, whereas the
salt will not.

But there is a limit to the capacity of water for holding salt in
solution. If spoonful after spoonful be added, it will be found, when a
certain point has been reached, that the water can at length dissolve
no more. It is then called a _saturated solution_ of salt. If, in
this case, a portion of the water were to pass away by evaporation,
it is clear, we should have the same quantity of salt as before, in
a smaller quantity of water. The consequence would be that _all_ the
salt could not then be held in solution, and some of it would fall to
the bottom; or, in chemical language, a precipitate of salt would be
formed on the bottom of the tumbler. Now, according to the theory of
Geologists, many rocks, hundreds of feet thick, and solid enough to
form the walls of our palaces, our churches, and our castles, have been
produced in the Crust of the Earth by just such a process as this.
In support of their theory we are about to show that the process is
actually going on in our own time, and is open to the examination of
all who may desire to study it for themselves.

We shall begin with the formation of Stalactites and Stalagmites. The
mode in which these singular masses of rock are brought into existence
is very clearly explained, and the picturesque appearance they so often
present to the eye is very graphically described, by Dr. Mantell,
in his Wonders of Geology, from which the following passages are
taken:--“One of the most common appearances in limestone caverns is the
formation of what are called Stalactites, from a Greek word signifying
distillation or dropping. Whenever water filters through a limestone
rock it dissolves a portion of it; and on reaching any opening, such as
a cavern, oozes from the sides or roof, and forms a drop, the moisture
of which is soon evaporated by the air, and a small circular plate or
ring of calcareous matter remains; another drop succeeds in the same
place, and adds, from the same cause, a fresh coat of incrustation. In
time, these successive additions produce a long, irregular, conical
projection from the roof, which is generally hollow, and is continually
being increased by the fresh accession of water, loaded with calcareous
or chalky matter: this is deposited on the outside of the Stalactite
already formed, and, trickling down, adds to its length by subsiding
to the point, and evaporating as before; precisely in the same manner
as, during frosty weather, icicles are formed on the edges of the eaves
of a roof. When the supply of water holding lime in solution is too
rapid to allow of its evaporation at the bottom of the Stalactite, it
drops on the floor of the cave, and drying up gradually, forms in like
manner a Stalactite rising upward from the ground, instead of hanging
from the roof; this is called for the sake of distinction Stalagmite.

“It frequently happens, where these processes are uninterrupted, that a
Stalactite hanging from the roof, and a Stalagmite formed immediately
under it from the super-abundant water, increase until they unite, and
thus constitute a natural pillar, apparently supporting the roof of the
grotto. It is to the grotesque forms assumed by Stalactites and these
natural columns, that caverns owe the interesting appearances described
in such glowing terms by those who witness them for the first time. One
of the most beautiful stalactitic caverns in England is at Clapham,
near Ingleborough. In the Cheddar Cliffs, Somersetshire, there has been
discovered a similar cave richly incrusted with sparry concretions.
There are others in Derbyshire.

“The grotto of Antiparos in the Grecian Archipelago, not far from
Paros, has long been celebrated. The sides and roof of its principal
cavity are covered with immense incrustations of calcareous spar, which
form either Stalactites depending from above or irregular pillars
rising from the floor. Several perfect columns reaching to the ceiling
have been formed and others are still in progress, by the union of the
Stalactite from above with the Stalagmite below. These, being composed
of matter slowly deposited, have assumed the most fantastic shapes;
while the pure, white, and glittering spar beautifully catches and
reflects the light of the torches of the visitors to this subterranean
palace, in a manner which causes all astonishment to cease at the
romantic tales told of the place--of its caves of diamonds and of its
ruby walls; the simple truth, when deprived of all exaggeration, being
sufficient to excite admiration and awe.

“Sometimes a linear fissure in the roof, by the direction it gives to
the dropping of the lapidifying water, forms a perfectly transparent
curtain or partition. A remarkable instance of this kind occurs in a
cavern in North America called Wyer’s Cave. This cave is situated in
a ridge of limestone hills running parallel to the Blue Mountains.
A narrow and rugged fissure leads to a large cavern, where the most
grotesque figures, formed by the percolation of water through beds of
limestone, present themselves, while the eye, glancing onward, watches
the dim and distant glimmers of the lights of the guides--some in the
recess below, and others in the galleries above. Passing from these
recesses, the passage conducts to a flight of steps that leads into
a large cavern of irregular form and of great beauty. Its dimensions
are about thirty feet by fifty. Here the incrustations hang just like
a sheet of water that was frozen as it fell; there they rise into a
beautiful stalactite pillar; and yonder compose an elevated seat,
surrounded by sparry pinnacles. Beyond this room is another more
irregular, but more beautiful; for besides having sparry ornaments in
common with the others, the roof overhead is of the most admirable and
singular formation. It is entirely covered with Stalactites, which
are suspended from it like inverted pinnacles; and they are of the
finest material, and most beautifully shaped and embossed. In another
apartment an immense sheet of transparent Stalactite, which extends
from the floor to the roof, emits, when struck, deep and mellow sounds
like those of a muffled drum.

“Farther on is another vaulted chamber, which is one hundred feet
long, thirty-six wide, and twenty-six high. Its walls are filled with
grotesque concretions. The effect of the lights placed by the guides
at various elevations, and leaving hidden more than they reveal, is
extremely fine. At the extremity of another range of apartments, a
magnificent hall, two hundred and fifty feet long, and thirty-three
feet high, suddenly appears. Here is a splendid sheet of rock-work
running up the centre of the room, and giving it the aspect of two
separate and noble galleries. This partition rises twenty feet above
the floor, and leaves the fine span of the arched roof untouched.
There is here a beautiful concretion, which has the form and drapery
of a gigantic statue; and the whole place is filled with stalagmitical
masses of the most varied and grotesque character. The fine perspective
of this room, four times the length of an ordinary church, and the
amazing vaulted roof spreading overhead, without any support of pillar
or column, produce a most striking effect. In another apartment, which
has an altitude of fifty feet, there is at one end an elevated recess
ornamented with a group of pendant Stalactites of unusual size and
singular beauty. They are as large as the pipes of a full-sized organ,
and ranged with great regularity: when struck they emit mellow sounds
of various keys, not unlike the tones of musical glasses. The length of
this extraordinary group of caverns is not less than one thousand six
hundred feet.”

In the case of Stalactites and Stalagmites the actual formation of
limestone by the influence of Chemical action is brought home forcibly
to the mind, and, in a manner, made palpable to the senses. We shall
now pass to other examples in which the process is scarcely less
open to observation, and in which the limestone assumes a somewhat
more massive and rock-like form. Every one who has been in Italy is
familiar with the limestone rock called Travertine. It is seen in the
ancient walls and the venerable temples of Pæstum, which have withstood
unharmed the wasting hand of time for upward of twenty centuries.
In Rome, too, this stone is associated in our minds as well with the
enduring monuments of antiquity, as with the imposing splendor of
Christian art. The Coliseum, the most stupendous of ruins, and St.
Peter’s, the most sublime of temples, are built of Travertine. In fact
it seems to have been, in every age, the chief building stone employed
in the architecture of the Eternal City; and the quarries from which
it was taken in ancient times may still be seen at Ponte Lucano, near
Tivoli. Now it is an interesting fact, that close to this very spot,
at the Solfatara lake on the one side, and at Tivoli itself on the
other, the formation of Travertine is going on in our own time, by the
precipitation of lime from a state of solution.

The Solfatara lake, situated about fourteen miles from Rome, on the
road to Tivoli, is supplied with an unfailing stream of tepid water,
impregnated with carbonic acid gas and saturated with carbonate of
lime. The amount of carbonate of lime which the water is capable of
holding in solution depends chiefly on three things: first, on the
presence of carbonic acid; secondly, on the high temperature of the
water; and thirdly, on its quantity. Now the carbonic acid is ever
rising in bubbles to the surface and passing away; the temperature
of the water is lowered by contact with the cooler atmosphere; and
its quantity is diminished by evaporation. Thus the capacity which
the water at first had for holding the carbonate of lime in solution
is notably diminished, and a part of the lime is precipitated to the
bottom in a solid form, or clings to the vegetable matter with which it
comes in contact.

A very simple and interesting experiment, made in the early part of
the present century by Sir Humphrey Davy, will illustrate the rapidity
with which the formation of solid stone is even now taking place. In
the month of May he fixed a stick in the bed of the lake, and left
it standing until the following April, when he found that it was
covered with an incrustation of limestone several inches thick.[46] In
precisely the same way new layers of Travertine are annually deposited
in the bed of the lake, and incrusted on its rocky margin; and so the
lake itself is becoming smaller and smaller from year to year. We are
told that in the middle of the seventeenth century it was a mile in
circuit, and now it is a little more than a quarter of a mile.[47]
Here, therefore, we have an immense mass of compact limestone rock,
built up by natural agents within the last two centuries.

At Tivoli, about four miles beyond the Solfatara, and two miles from
the quarries of Ponte Lucano, phenomena of the same kind are exhibited.
The waters of the Anio, which are saturated with carbonate of lime,
form incrustations of Travertine on the banks of the river; and at the
celebrated falls, where the whole volume of the stream leaps at a bound
from a height of three hundred and twenty feet, the most beautiful
stalactites are formed by the foam.

The formation of Travertine is going on with no less activity in
other parts of the Italian Peninsula. At the baths of San Filippo, in
Tuscany, there are three warm springs which contain a very large amount
of mineral matter in solution. The water which supplies the baths falls
into a pond, where it has been known to deposit a solid stratum of rock
_thirty feet thick_ in twenty years. In the same neighborhood are the
mineral baths of San Vignone. The source from which the water flows is
situated on the summit of a hill not more than a few hundred yards from
the high road between Sienna and Rome; and so rapid is the formation
of stone, that half a foot of solid Travertine is deposited every year
in the pipe that conducts the water to the baths. At this spot we have
a very good illustration of the argument we are now considering. As
the stream of water flows down the slopes of the hill, a thin layer
of Travertine rock is produced on the surface of the earth, almost
before our eyes; and so it was previous to our own time, and so it has
been for ages, as history and tradition testify. The quantity produced
in each year and in each century is comparatively small, but we can
have no doubt that it _has_ been produced by the means described.
Now, beneath the surface of the Earth, immediately below these modern
formations, of which we have so clearly ascertained the origin, we find
strata of the same kind, composed of the same materials, and arranged
in the same way, layer resting upon layer, down to a depth of two
hundred feet: and the Geologist accounts for the formation of the one
according to the same laws which he has seen at work in the production
of the other.[48]





    _Nature of organic rocks--Carbonate of lime extracted from the
    sea by the intervention of minute animalcules--Chalk rock--Its
    vast extent--Supposed to be of organic origin--A stratum of
    the same kind now growing up on the floor of the Atlantic
    ocean--Coral reefs and islands--Their general appearance--Their
    geographical distribution--Their organic origin--Structure
    of the zoophyte--Various illustrations--Agency of the
    zoophyte in the construction of coral rock--How the sunken
    reef is converted into an island and peopled with plants and
    animals--Difficulty proposed and considered--Hypothesis of Mr.
    Darwin--Coral limestone in the solid crust of the earth._

We now pass to the third division of Aqueous Rocks, those, namely,
which are believed to have come into existence chiefly through the
agency of animal and vegetable life, and are therefore called Organic.
The study of these rocks has been prosecuted with no inconsiderable
ardor during the last thirty years; and the facts which have been
brought to light are certainly amongst the most curious and interesting
in the whole range of physical science. Indeed we are convinced that
a simple narrative of the researches which have recently been made
upon this subject, and the discoveries to which these researches
have led, would be no less attractive, and scarcely less wonderful,
than a fairy tale. But it is not for us to wander at large over this
vast and tempting field of inquiry. We must be content with one or
two examples, which may help to illustrate the process of inductive
reasoning upon which the general principles of geological science are

It is argued, then, that the present operations of Nature afford
the best key for the interpretation of her works in bygone times.
We observe various beds of rocks now in course of formation on the
surface of the Earth; and within the Crust of the Earth we discover
corresponding strata of the self-same rock already complete, and laid
by, as it were, in Nature’s storehouse. Side by side, therefore, we
may study and compare the finished work and the work that is yet in
progress; and if, on a close examination, they are found to agree in
all essential characters, we have doubtless a strong presumption,
that the same causes which are now producing the one, must in former
times have produced the other. This line of argument we have already
considered in reference to those two classes of Aqueous Rocks, which
are said to be respectively of Mechanical and of Chemical origin. We
now proceed to show that it is no less applicable to those which are
called Organic. And although we may not hope to unfold all the secret
wonders of Nature’s laboratory, that have come to light in recent
times, yet we may afford a passing glimpse at her operations, which can
scarcely fail to be interesting and instructive.

We have shown how strata of solid rock are sometimes formed in lakes by
the precipitation of lime from a state of solution. Now this process
cannot take place in the sea; for though lime is present in the sea,
the quantity of carbonic acid with which it is there associated, is
far more than sufficient to render its precipitation impossible.[49]
But Nature has another contrivance for gathering together the solid
elements of her building. The depths of the ocean are teeming with
life; and countless tribes of minute animals are furnished with the
power of extracting the lime from the waters they inhabit, and of
reproducing it under a new form. Sometimes, through this mysterious
operation of organic life, the lime is converted into a calcareous
shell, like that of the oyster; sometimes into a stony skeleton, as
in the case of the numerous families of coral-producing animalcules.
After death the soft, fleshy substance of these animals melts away
and disappears; but the limestone shells and skeletons remain,
accumulating during the long course of ages to an almost incredible
extent. And, if we are to believe Geologists, out of these accumulated
materials, sometimes preserving their original form and structure,
sometimes altered more or less by chemical action, sometimes broken
up into fragments by mechanical force, has been produced a very large
proportion of the limestone rocks which occur so abundantly in the
Crust of the Earth.

No better illustration can be found than the white earthy limestone,
familiar to every one under the name of chalk. An undulating stratum
of Chalk Rock, attaining not unfrequently a thickness of one thousand
feet, may be said, speaking roughly, to underlie the southeastern half
of England. Sometimes it appears at the surface: sometimes it dips
downward, and forms a kind of great basin, over which are regularly
spread out various other groups of Stratified Rocks. On the southern
coast it rises to a height of several hundred feet above the level of
the sea in a line of perpendicular cliffs, conspicuous from a distance
by their dazzling whiteness. But the White Chalk of England is only an
insignificant part of a great rock-formation, which may be traced over
extensive areas throughout all Europe, from Ireland to the Crimea, from
the Baltic Sea to the Bay of Biscay; and which everywhere preserves in
a remarkable degree the same mineral character, and presents to the eye
the same general appearance.

Now it had often been suggested by Geologists that this wide-spread
formation derived its existence chiefly from the accumulated remains
of organic life. For in many instances the broken shells of minute
animalcules could be distinctly observed to constitute a part of the
rock. And even where the organic structure could not be so clearly
traced, the carbonate of lime composing the Chalk presented just
that appearance which would naturally result from the decomposition
of such shells. This theory, however, was long put forward with
diffidence and received with incredulity. Even scientific men found
it hard to persuade themselves that a solid rock of such great extent
and thickness could have been the work of agents apparently so
insignificant. But it has been confirmed and illustrated in a very
interesting and unexpected manner within the last few years.

When the project of connecting Europe and America by a telegraph
cable was first set on foot, it became necessary to ascertain, as far
as possible, the general configuration of the ocean bottom and the
exact nature of the bed on which the cable was to lie. Accordingly
in the year 1857 an expedition was fitted out for this purpose under
the command of Captain Dayman; and a careful series of soundings was
taken between Valentia, on the West Coast of Kerry, and Trinity Bay on
the shores of Newfoundland. It was found that the floor of the ocean
between Ireland and America is a vast irregular plain, and that by
far the greater part is covered over with a kind of soft mud or ooze.
Samples of this ooze were scooped up, even at the most profound depths,
by means of an ingenious apparatus attached to the sounding-lines, and
brought undisturbed to the surface. Afterward they were carried home to
England and submitted for examination to Professor Huxley. The result
has been to show that the materials of a limestone rock, resembling in
every essential feature the White Chalk of Europe, are being spread out
at the present day over an area of immense extent on the floor of the
Atlantic Ocean.

With the permission of our readers we shall allow Professor Huxley, as
far as may be, to tell his own story.[50] As to the ocean floor itself,
“It is,” he says, “a prodigious plain--one of the widest and most even
plains in the world. If the sea were drained off, you might drive a
wagon all the way from Valentia to Trinity Bay. And, except upon one
sharp incline about two hundred miles from Valentia, I am not quite
sure that it would even be necessary to put the skid on, so gentle are
the ascents and descents upon that long route. From Valentia the road
would lie down hill for about two hundred miles to the point at which
the bottom is now covered by 1700 fathoms of sea-water. Then would come
the central plain, more than a thousand miles wide, the inequalities
of the surface of which would be hardly perceptible, though the depth
of water upon it now varies from 10,000 to 15,000 feet; and there are
places in which Mont Blanc might be sunk without showing its peak
above water. Beyond this the ascent on the American side commences,
and gradually leads for about three hundred miles, to the Newfoundland

The central plain here described, which has been since found to extend
many hundred miles north and south of the cable line, is covered almost
everywhere by that soft, mealy sort of mud of which we have already
spoken; and this, it is now confidently believed, is nothing else than
a stratum of Chalk Rock in an early stage of formation. When thoroughly
dried it assumes a whitish color, and exhibits a texture which even
to the superficial observer appears closely to resemble fine chalk.
Nay, we are told that if so disposed, one may take a bit of it in his
fingers and write with it upon a blackboard. Like chalk, too, when
chemically analyzed it is found to be almost pure carbonate of lime.

But there is a yet more striking analogy between the mud of the
Atlantic and the White Chalk of Europe. Both have been submitted to
the magnifying power of the Microscope; and, after an examination
conducted with scrupulous care, a wonderful and almost startling
identity of mineral, or rather we should say of organic, composition
has been established between them. To the naked eye Chalk is simply a
soft, earthy sort of stone. But when a thin transparent slice is placed
under the Microscope, the general mass is found to be made up of very
minute particles, in which are embedded a vast number of other bodies
possessing a well-defined form and structure. These are of various
sizes, but on a rough average may be said not to exceed a hundredth
of an inch in diameter. Hundreds of thousands of them are sometimes
contained in a cubic inch of Chalk, together with countless millions of
the more minute granules.

Professor Huxley succeeded in separating these bodies from the mass of
granules in which they were embedded, and by examining them apart, he
has ascertained still more fully their exact structure and composition.
“Each one of them,” he says, “is a beautifully constructed calcareous
fabric, made up of a number of chambers communicating freely with one
another. They are of various forms. One of the commonest is something
like a badly-grown raspberry, being formed of a number of nearly
globular chambers of different sizes congregated together. It is called
Globigerina; and some specimens of Chalk consist of little else than
Globigerinæ and granules.”

Previous to 1857 the Globigerinæ of the Chalk were a matter of no small
controversy among Geologists and Naturalists. Some contended that
they were the organic remains--the shells or skeletons--of ancient
animalcules. Others were disposed to regard them simply as aggregations
of lime, which, so to speak, chanced to assume the form of these
little chambered bodies; though it was not easy to explain, on this
hypothesis, how these chance concretions, however much they varied
in size, preserved over the whole of Europe the same exact form and
structure. But the controversy is now at an end. The specimens of the
Atlantic ooze brought home by Captain Dayman, when examined under the
higher powers of the Microscope, are found, like Chalk, to be composed
almost entirely of Globigerinæ. And that no doubt may remain as to
their organic origin, a portion of the fleshy integument of the little
animalcules is seen, in many cases, still adhering to the calcareous

“Globigerinæ of every size,” we are told, “from the smallest to the
largest, are associated together in the Atlantic mud, and the chambers
of many are filled by a soft animal matter. This soft substance is,
in fact, the remains of the creature to which the Globigerina shell,
or rather skeleton, owes its existence--and which is an animal of
the simplest imaginable description. It is, in fact, a mere particle
of living jelly, without defined parts of any kind--without a mouth,
nerves, muscles, or distinct organs; and only manifesting its vitality
to ordinary observation by thrusting out and retracting, from all
parts of its surface, long filamentous processes which serve for arms
and legs. Yet this amorphous particle, devoid of everything which, in
the higher animals we call organs, is capable of feeding, growing,
and multiplying; of separating from the ocean the small proportion of
carbonate of lime which is dissolved in sea-water; and of building up
that substance into a skeleton for itself, according to a pattern which
can be imitated by no other known agency.”

That the same process is going on in other parts of the ocean appears
by observations made by Sir Leopold M’Clintock during the cruise of
the Bulldog in 1860. He discovered that a calcareous ooze having the
consistency of putty is spread out over extensive areas between the
Faroe Islands and Iceland, and also between Iceland and Greenland. Of
this mud about ninety-five per cent. is composed of Globigerinæ, which
in some instances were brought up actually living to the surface, and
busily engaged in secreting, by their vital powers, carbonate of lime
from the waters of the sea.[51]

Professor Huxley goes yet one step further in following out the
resemblance between the Chalk Rock that exists in the Crust of the
Earth and the stratum of Chalk that is now growing up in the depths
of the Atlantic. Not only are the Globigerinæ, of which the one is in
great part composed, identical with the animalcules that make up about
nine-tenths of the other, but even the minute granules that constitute
the residue of each formation, correspond in a very remarkable manner.
“In working over the soundings collected by Captain Dayman, I was
surprised to find that many of what I have called the Granules of
that mud were not, as one might have been tempted to think at first,
the mere powder and waste of Globigerinæ, but they had a definite
form and size. I termed these bodies Coccoliths, and doubted their
organic nature. Doctor Wallich verified my observation, and added the
interesting discovery that, not unfrequently, bodies similar to these
Coccoliths were aggregated together into spheroids, which he termed
Coccospheres. So far as we knew, these bodies, the nature of which is
extremely puzzling and problematical, were peculiar to the Atlantic

“But a few years ago Mr. Sorby, in making a careful examination of the
Chalk by means of thin sections and otherwise, observed, as Ehrenberg
had done before him, that much of its granular basis possesses a
definite form. Comparing these formed particles with those in the
Atlantic soundings, he found the two to be identical; and thus
proved that the Chalk, like the soundings, contains these mysterious
Coccoliths and Coccospheres. Here was a further and a most interesting
confirmation, from internal evidence, of the essential identity of the
Chalk with modern deep-sea mud.”

We may, therefore, set it down as certain, first, that the formation
of Chalk Rock is going on very extensively at the present day; and
secondly, that the chief agency employed in its production is no other
than the vital action of minute animalcules. This is no longer merely
a plausible theory or an ingenious hypothesis: it is simply a matter
of fact ascertained by direct observation. If then it is just and
philosophical to ascribe like effects to like causes, the conclusion is
plain that the White Chalk of Europe came into existence in some far
distant age by just such a process as that which is now in operation on
the bed of the Atlantic Ocean.

From the Chalk mud of the Atlantic we will now pass to the Coral Reefs
that are growing up beneath the waters of the Pacific and the Indian
Oceans. Every one has heard of Coral Reefs and Coral Islands; yet we
fancy many persons have but vague and indefinite notions about them.
We shall, therefore, in the first place, give a brief account of their
general appearance, their extent, and their geographical distribution.
Afterward we shall give some of the evidence which goes to show that
these huge masses of rock owe their existence to the organic powers of
minute living animalcules.

The Coral Reef is familiar to the navigator of tropical seas under a
great variety of forms, and in many different stages of development.
In one case it is a chain of hidden rocks rising not quite to the
level of the sea; in another it appears just above the waters, but is
washed over by each returning tide; while in another it rises up beyond
the reach of the waves, is clothed with luxuriant vegetation, and
inhabited by various species of animals, even by man himself. Again
there is great diversity of outline among these rocks, whether they are
sunk beneath the surface of the waters or lifted above them. But all
may be reduced to four classes, of which we propose to give a short

First is the Atoll, or lagoon island. It is a circular strip of
limestone rock enclosing a shallow lake within, and surrounded by a
deep and often unfathomable ocean without. The scene presented by
some of these circular reefs is described by travellers as equally
striking for its singularity and its beauty. “A strip of land a few
hundred yards wide is covered by lofty cocoa-nut trees, above which
is the blue vault of heaven. This band of verdure is bounded by a
beach of glittering white sand, the outer margin of which is encircled
with a ring of snow-white breakers, beyond which are the dark heaving
waters of the ocean. The inner beach encloses the still clear water
of the lagoon, resting in its greater part on white sand, and, when
illuminated by a vertical sun, of a most vivid green.”

These lagoon islands are often found in groups stretching, with little
interruption, for many hundred miles across the ocean. The Maldives,
for example, which lie a little distance to the southwest of Hindostan,
form a continuous chain, running due north and south, four hundred and
seventy miles in length and fifty miles in breadth. Each successive
link in this chain does not consist, as might be supposed, of a single
circular reef, but it is rather a ring of small coral islets, sometimes
more than a hundred in number, each of which is itself a perfect Atoll
or lagoon island such as we have just described. Of these miniature
islets many are from three to five miles in diameter; while the larger
rings of which they form a part are from thirty to fifty. The Laccadive
islands, a little more to the north, exhibit a similar arrangement,
and indeed would seem to be a continuation of the same group. In the
Pacific are found some chains of coral islands yet more extensive;
as for instance the Dangerous Archipelago, which is upward of eleven
hundred miles in length, and from three to four hundred in breadth; but
the islands within these spaces are thinly scattered, and insignificant
in size.

Sometimes the annular strip of coral rock encloses within itself a
lofty island, which rises up from the centre of the lagoon. In this
case it is called an Encircling Reef; the lagoon being simply a broad
channel surrounding the island in the centre, and encompassed itself by
the coral rock. An example occurs in the island of Vanikoro, celebrated
for the shipwreck of La Peyrouse, where the Encircling Reef runs at a
distance of two or three miles from the shore, the channel between it
and the land having a general depth of between two and three hundred
feet. The well-known mountainous island of Tahiti in the South Pacific
Ocean is also encompassed by an Encircling Reef, from which it is
separated by a broad belt of tranquil water.

A third class of Coral Reefs consists of those which run parallel to
the shores of continents or great islands, from which they are cut off
by a broad channel, to which the sea has free access through certain
open passages in the rock. They are called Barrier Reefs; and differ
from the former only in this, that they do not surround the land, but
run parallel to it at a distance of some miles. The Great Barrier Reef
of Australia offers a noble example. It has been described as a huge,
massive, submarine wall or terrace, fronting the northeastern coast
of that continent, varying from ten to ninety miles in breadth, and
extending, with some trifling interruptions, to a length of 1250 miles.
Another reef of the same kind, 400 miles in length, faces the western
coast of the long narrow island of New Caledonia.

When a chain of Coral rocks approaches close to the shore, so as to
leave no intervening channel of deep water, they are called Fringing
Reefs; and these constitute the fourth and last class of the Coral
formation. They prevail everywhere in tropical regions, and appear as
banks of Coral encrusting the rocky shores of islands and continents.

As regards the geographical distribution of Coral Reefs, the first
circumstance that claims our notice, is that they are exclusively
confined to the warmer regions of the globe. They exist in great
profusion within the tropics, and are rarely to be found beyond the
thirtieth parallels of latitude on each side of the Equator. The only
remarkable exception is in the case of the Bermuda Islands in 32° north
latitude; but here, it is to be observed, the ocean is warmed by the
waters of the Gulf Stream. Another singular fact is the almost total
absence of Coral Reefs from the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, the Bermudas,
we believe, constitute here again the only exception. The Pacific,
on the contrary, is wonderfully productive of coral; also the Indian
Ocean, the Persian and Arabian Gulfs, and the Red Sea.

It may gratify, perhaps, the curiosity of some readers, if we add a
word on the Red Coral which is now so favorite an ornament in the
fashionable world. Though it never attains to the magnitude of those
reefs and islands we have been describing, it partakes nevertheless of
the same peculiar structure; and no doubt is entertained that, like
them, it derives its existence from animal life, in the manner we shall
presently explain. It is produced chiefly in the Mediterranean, in the
Red Sea, and in the Persian Gulf; and is brought up from the great
depths by means of a grappling apparatus attached to boats. The largest
pieces have a shrub-like branching form, and are supposed to grow to
the height of one foot in about eight years.[52]

So much for the existence of the Coral Formation. Next comes the
question of its origin, with which, of course, we are chiefly
concerned. It is now the received belief of all distinguished
Naturalists, that these huge and wide-spread masses of limestone rock,
against which the breakers of the ocean are ever thundering in vain,
are the work of tiny marine animalcules, and chiefly of those seemingly
insignificant creatures known by the name of Polyps or Zoophytes. The
Zoophyte, they tell us, is a mason who himself produces the stones
that he employs in his building. “He has neither plane, nor chisel,
nor trowel; there is no sound of hammer in his city. He erects mighty
and enduring edifices, yet has no mechanical power by which to raise
his rocks to their summits. He can answer thee nothing--no tongue, no
eyes, no hands, no brains has he--yet from the caves of old ocean has
he raised that which fills you with admiration.”[53] Surely if all this
be true, these countless myriads of animalcules call aloud to us from
the depths of the ocean in language that cannot be mistaken: “Know
ye that the Lord He is God; it is He that hath made us, and not we

The Zoophyte belongs to the simplest form of the animal creation. Its
body consists merely of a pouch or stomach, with tentacles arranged
round the margin, which it can extend at pleasure to supply itself with
food. In many species the individuals grow together on a common stem,
from which new members are constantly shooting forth like buds from
the branches of a tree. Hence the origin of the name Zoophyte, which
literally means a plant-like animal. The common stem on which they grow
is sometimes composed of a horny substance, but more generally it is
pure carbonate of lime, which they secrete by the powers of organic
action from the waters of the sea. It forms, therefore, a kind of
internal skeleton or framework, to which the soft, gelatinous parts of
the animal adhere, pretty much as, in the case of other animals, the
flesh adheres to the bones. Thus we have, as it were, a community of
living creatures, growing together upon one common stony framework,
called a Polypidom or Polyp edifice, which they themselves build by the
very fact of living.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--Campanularia Gelatinosa.]

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Gorgonia Patula.]

The peculiar structure of these wonderful little communities may
perhaps be made more intelligible by the aid of a few illustrations.
Figure 4 exhibits the branching skeleton and, at the extremities of
the branches, the several Polyps by whose vital action the skeleton
has been constructed. Some of the animalcules are shown in a state of
activity, with their tiny arms spread out in search of food: others
are withdrawn within their cells, and appear in a state of repose.
This species of Zoophyte, which is highly magnified in the figure,
flourishes abundantly on the shores of Ireland and England. It has
received the name of Campanularia, from the bell-like form of its
cells. Our next cut represents a Gorgonia from the Mediterranean,
which is also considerably magnified. The fleshy integument of this
specimen is of a brilliant red color: the Polyps are arranged in rows
on each side of the stem, and are shown in a state of expansion.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--Frustra Pilosa.]

[Illustration: Fig. 7.--Madrepora Plantaginea.]

A mass of Coral animalcules, which are known by the name of Frustra
Pilosa, is represented of the natural size in Figure 6. To the
naked eye it seems like a piece of fine net-work, disposed around a
fragment of sea-weed, which may be observed protruding in the upper
part of our illustration. With the aid of an ordinary magnifier the
net-like surface is seen to abound in minute pores arranged with much
regularity. Each of these pores is the cell of a Zoophyte. And if
a fragment of Frustra be examined with a powerful microscope, when
immersed in sea-water, the curious little inhabitants themselves may be
seen darting in and out of their cells, expanding and contracting their
long feelers, and exhibiting altogether a wonderful activity. In the
adjoining woodcut, Figure 7, is shown another interesting species of
the arborescent Zoophyte. It belongs to the family of Madrepores, and
abounds in almost all Coral Reefs. Alive under water it appears clothed
in a gelatinous coating of rich and varied hues. But when removed from
its native element this gelatinous coating, which is the living animal
substance, quickly melts away; and, in some instances, runs off from
the calcareous skeleton in a kind of watery slime.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.--Corallium Rubrum.]

A good idea of the celebrated red and pink Coral of commerce, so much
admired for its brilliant color, and the high polish of which it is
susceptible, may be gathered from our next illustration. As in the
other species to which we have referred, the calcareous skeleton is
enveloped in a living gelatinous substance, from which the Zoophytes
seem to shoot out like buds from the bark of a tree. Several of these
animalcules are exhibited in our figure, in the active enjoyment of
life; gathering in, with their expanded tentacles, the elements of
their stony edifice from the surrounding waters. After death the fleshy
integument is wasted away by the action of the sea; and the framework
that remains behind, washed ashore by the waves, or hooked up by the
coral fisherman, is wrought into brooches, bracelets, necklaces, and
other ornaments of various kinds.

Not a few varieties of the Coral-producing Zoophytes are to be found
in actual living reality on our own coasts, where the curious student
may examine for himself their habits and general structure. But it
is in the warmer regions of the Earth that they are developed in the
greatest numbers, and decked in the brightest hues. Those who have seen
them through the crystal waters of tropical seas, swarming in countless
multitudes on the clear white sand below, speak with enthusiasm of
their luxuriant profusion and of their striking beauty. Combining to
a picturesque elegance of form a rich variety and pleasing harmony of
colors, they present to the eye a scene which has been compared to
a magnificent garden, laid out in diverse beds of rare and splendid

So far we have spoken only of the Polypidom, that is to say, the
community of Polyps living together on a common stem of their own
construction. Now this Polypidom is the first element of the Coral
Reef. In some species of Zoophytes, the Red Coral for instance, the
calcareous stem never attains a size greater than that of a diminutive
shrub. But in others, and they are very numerous, especially in
tropical seas, there seems to be no limit to the growth of the solid
stony framework. As the existing generation of Zoophytes is dying out,
new individuals are ever budding forth, which continue unceasingly to
secrete carbonate of lime, as their predecessors had done before them,
from the waters of the ocean; and thus the tree-like form spreads its
branching arms on every side, growing upward and outward day by day.
The soft gelatinous parts of those generations that have passed away
are, in a short time, dissolved, and the stony skeleton alone remains
behind. Ages roll on: the calcareous framework, ever increasing in
size, becomes at length a formidable rock; and this rock is the Coral

Let it not be supposed we are here advancing a theory: we are only
stating a fact that has been established by close and repeated
observations. All the phenomena exhibited in the development of the
Polypidom, are exhibited no less plainly in every Coral Reef that
has yet been examined. On the surface of the Reef are the living
Zoophytes, clinging to the calcareous skeleton which is ever growing
larger through the unconscious action of their vital functions; while
immediately beneath may be seen the same stony skeleton, already
divested of its fleshy integument, and beginning to assume the
appearance of compact and massive rock. We can behold, therefore, the
mason at work on the upper story of his building, and the structure
already finished below. And so we have little less than ocular
demonstration that the Coral Reef is the work of the Zoophyte.

It must not be supposed, however, that in every part of the Coral Reef,
the form and outline of the stony skeleton are exactly preserved.
Fragments of the rock are broken off by the force of the waves, and
mixed up with the comminuted shells of oysters, mussels, and other
crustaceous animals inhabiting the same waters. In this way a sort of
calcareous gravel, sometimes a calcareous paste, is formed, which fills
up the interstices, and connects the tree-like coral into a compact

We have yet to explain how the Coral Reefs come, in many cases, to
rise above the surface of the ocean, and to form dry land: for it has
been found that the reef-building Zoophytes require to be continually
immersed in salt water, and therefore, by their own efforts, they
cannot raise their structure above the ordinary level of the sea.
This question was for a long time involved in obscurity; but it has
been cleared up by the actual observations of Naturalists in modern
times. The following description, which is given to us by Chamisso,
the companion of Kotzebue on his voyages, will convey a good idea of
the process by which a sunken reef is often converted into a smiling,
fruitful island. “When the reef is of such a height that it remains
almost dry at low water, the corals leave off building. Above this
line a continuous mass of solid stone is seen, composed of the shells
of mollusks and echini, with their broken-off prickles and fragments
of coral, united by calcareous sand, produced by the pulverization of
shells. The heat of the sun often penetrates the mass of stone when it
is dry, so that it splits in many places, and the force of the waves is
thereby enabled to separate and lift blocks of coral, frequently six
feet long and three or four in thickness, and throw them upon the reef,
by which means the ridge becomes at length so high that it is covered
only during some seasons of the year by spring tides. After this the
calcareous sand lies undisturbed, and offers to the seeds of trees
and plants cast upon it by the waves, a soil upon which they rapidly
grow, to overshadow its dazzling white surface. Entire trunks of trees,
which are carried by the rivers from other countries and islands, find
here at length a resting place after their long wanderings: with these
come some small animals, such as insects and lizards, as the first
inhabitants. Even before the trees form a wood, the sea-birds nestle
here; stray land-birds take refuge in the bushes; and, at a much later
period, when the work has been long since completed, man appears and
builds his hut on the fruitful soil.”[55]

Another question that seems to call for some explanation is suggested
by the well-known habits of the Zoophytes themselves. From the
observations of Kotzebue and Darwin it appears that those species
which are most effective in the construction of Reefs cannot flourish
at a greater depth than twenty or thirty fathoms; whereas the coral
rocks rise up in many cases from the bottom of an unfathomable
ocean. How, then, it may be asked, have the foundations of these
wonderful structures been laid? This question opens a wide field for
philosophical speculation; and we freely admit that no theory of
Coral Reefs can be regarded as complete and satisfactory, which does
not furnish a reasonable answer. But so far as the purpose of our
argument is concerned, it is quite sufficient if a stratum of solid
limestone, twenty fathoms thick, has been formed mainly through the
agency of these minute animalcules. And this conclusion, so abundantly
demonstrated by facts, is left quite untouched by the difficulty to
which we now refer.

It will be interesting, however, to notice in passing the explanation
of this phenomenon first suggested by Mr. Darwin, and now very
generally accepted. He maintains that the whole Coral Reef--foundations
and superstructure alike--is, in most cases, the result entirely of
organic agency. The reef-building Zoophyte always begins his labors in
water that is comparatively shallow. But as he is building upward, it
often happens that the bed of the sea is sinking downward in pretty
nearly the same proportion; and thus the reef is ever increasing in
height from its original base, while the living mass of Zoophytes on
its upper surface remains in about the same depth of water as when the
building first began.

This theory is supported by a vast amount of curious and ingenious
reasoning. In the first place, there is nothing more remarkable in the
physical conformation of the Globe, than the immense predominance of
water over land throughout those extensive tracts of ocean where Coral
Reefs abound. Now this is just what we should naturally expect if the
hypothesis of Mr. Darwin were admitted; for wherever the Crust of the
Earth has been subsiding for many ages on a large scale, the domain of
the sea must of necessity have been considerably enlarged, and that
of the land contracted in proportion. Again, this hypothesis will be
found to harmonize most perfectly with all the phenomena of Fringing
Reefs, Barrier Reefs, Encircling Reefs, and Lagoon Islands. The
Fringing Reef represents, as it were, the first stage of progress. The
building operations have just commenced near the shore of some island
or continent, and but little space intervenes between the land and the
incrusting wall of coral. Then, as the Crust of the Earth gradually
subsides, the water encroaches on the land, and forms a channel between
it and the reef. Meanwhile the Zoophytes are at work, and the coral
rock is growing upward as the foundation on which it rests is sinking
downward: each year it is higher from the bed of the sea, and yet no
nearer to the surface of the waters. And when at length the channel,
which is ever growing wider and wider, has reached a certain limit, the
Fringing Reef becomes a Barrier Reef, or if it encompasses an island,
an Encircling Reef. Lastly, the Encircling Reef will finally become
a Lagoon Island, when the highest peaks of the land it encloses have
slowly disappeared beneath the surface of the waters.

In confirmation of this reasoning Mr. Darwin has pointed out numerous
examples to illustrate each intermediate stage through which, according
to his hypothesis, the Coral Reef must pass in the progress of its
construction. He traces the gradual transition from the low bank of
coral incrusting a rocky shore to the Encircling Reef that compasses
round a lofty island, like Tahiti, with a broad channel between.
Then he shows how this channel insensibly becomes wider and wider,
encroaching more and more upon the land, until at length only a few
high peaks remain above water. Finally he leads us on to the case of a
perfect Atoll, within which no trace of land remains to be seen; and
the channel, now become a lagoon, is encompassed by a Reef of Coral
Rock that rises steeply from an unfathomed ocean.

We do not mean to dwell upon this ingenious speculation, which would
carry us too far from the object at which we are aiming. It seems to
us, however, that the arguments in its favor are at least deserving of
careful consideration; and we may add that they receive new strength
from the facts we shall have occasion hereafter to bring forward, when
we come to speak of the undulating movements to which the Crust of the
Earth has been subject at many different times, and in many different
localities, even within the historic period.

The formation and structure of existing Coral Reefs being once fairly
established, Geologists have little difficulty in ascribing a similar
origin to many of the limestone strata that are found in the Crust
of the Earth. For though the internal texture has been considerably
modified in the long course of ages, by chemical and other influences,
nevertheless the stony skeletons of the reef-building Zoophytes can be
distinctly recognized in great abundance. Indeed it is not an uncommon
thing to meet with limestone rock exhibiting plainly to the eye all
the appearance of Coral Reefs lifted up from the bed of the ocean.
“The Oolite,” says Doctor Mantell, “abounds in corals, and contains
beds of limestone which are merely coral reefs that have undergone
no change but that of elevation from the bottom of the deep, and the
consolidation of their materials. The Coral-rag of Wilts presents in
fact all the characters of modern reefs: the polypifera belong chiefly
to the Astræidæ, the genera of which family principally contribute to
the formations now going on in the Pacific. Shells, echinoderms, teeth,
and bones of fishes, and other marine exuviæ, occupy the interstices
between the corals, and the whole is consolidated by sand and gravel,
held together in some instances by calcareous, in others by siliceous
infiltrations. Those who have visited districts where the Coral-rag
forms the immediate subsoil, and is exposed to view in the quarries
or in natural sections, must have been struck with the resemblance of
these rocks to modern coral banks.”[56]

Even in many of our finest marbles the coral skeletons may be traced
distinctly enough, and contribute not a little to that variegated color
which is so much admired. Nay, it is recorded by Mr. Parkinson that he
discovered in a piece of solid marble, the _animal membrane itself_ by
which the lime was originally abstracted from the sea. He immersed the
marble in dilute muriatic acid; and he relates with delight how, as
the calcareous earth dissolved, and the carbonic acid gas escaped, he
observed the animal tissue begin distinctly to appear in the form of
light, elastic membranes.[57]





    _Origin of coal--Evident traces of plants and trees in
    coal-mines--Coal made up of the same elements as wood--Beds
    of coal found resting upon clay in which are preserved
    the roots of trees--Insensible transition from wood to
    coal--Forest-covered swamps--Accumulations of drift-wood in
    lakes and estuaries--Peat bogs--Beds of Lignite--Seams of
    pure coal with half-carbonized trees, some lying prostrate,
    some standing erect--Summary of the argument hitherto
    pursued--Objection to this argument from the Omnipotence of
    God--Answer to the objection._

As animals, by organic action, extract lime from the waters of the
ocean they inhabit, which, being converted in the first instance into
minute shells, or stony skeletons, afterward passes into a compact
and solid rock, so in like manner do plants and trees extract carbon
from the atmosphere in which they vegetate, and convert it into coal.
No reasonable doubt can now be entertained that coal derives its
existence, almost entirely, from the woody tissue of sunken swamps and
forests. Though the nature of the process by which this transformation
takes place, is yet but imperfectly understood, and is, indeed, at
the present moment a subject of much discussion and controversy,
nevertheless the _fact_ that the change _has_ taken place is fully
accepted by all as an established truth, and is supported by an
accumulation of evidence which it is not easy to resist.

The first circumstance to which we shall call attention, is the
wonderful profusion of vegetable life that is always associated with
coal. Every one who has descended at any time into a coal mine, or
who has examined the specimens usually exhibited in a well-furnished
museum, must have been struck by the countless forms of trees and
plants, which still remain vividly impressed on this black and
unsightly mineral. Dr. Buckland has described this phenomenon with
much vigor and beauty in his celebrated Bridgewater Treatise: “The
finest example I have ever witnessed is that of the coal mines of
Bohemia just mentioned. The most elaborate imitations of living foliage
upon the painted ceilings of Italian palaces, bear no comparison with
the beauteous profusion of extinct vegetable forms with which the
galleries of these instructive coal mines are overhung. The roof is
covered as with a canopy of gorgeous tapestry, enriched with festoons
of most graceful foliage, flung in wild irregular profusion over every
portion of its surface. The effect is heightened by the contrast of
the coal-black color of these vegetables with the light ground-work
of the rock to which they are attached. The spectator feels himself
transported, as if by enchantment, into the forests of another world;
he beholds trees of forms and characters now unknown upon the surface
of the earth, presented to his senses almost in the beauty and vigor of
their primeval life; their scaly stems and bending branches, with their
delicate apparatus of foliage, are all spread forth before him, little
impaired by the lapse of countless ages, and bearing faithful records
of extinct systems of vegetation, which began and terminated in times
of which these relics are the infallible historians.”


  Fig. 9.--Pecopteris Adiantoides.      Fig. 10.--Sphenopteris Affinis.

Fossil Ferns found in the Coal Measures of Europe and America.]

The next important fact that points to the vegetable origin of
Coal is, that wood and Coal are both composed of the same ultimate
elements--carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. This analogy is the more
remarkable when we are told that no other rock except Coal exhibits
anything approaching to this composition. It is true that the elements
just enumerated do not exist in the same proportions in wood and in
Coal. But the difference, when rightly understood, rather tends to
confirm our theory that the one is derived from the other. There is
more Carbon in Coal than in wood; while there is less oxygen and less
hydrogen. To explain how this may have come to pass during the process
of transition, we must call in the assistance of the chemist. It
appears from the researches of Liebig that, when vegetable matter is
buried in the earth, exposed to moisture, and partially or entirely
excluded from the air, the process of decomposition sets in, and that
under this process carbonic acid gas and carburetted hydrogen gas are
slowly evolved. At the same time a portion of the oxygen when set free
would naturally enter into a new combination with a portion of the
hydrogen, and form water. The result of these several changes would
necessarily be, that the accumulation of vegetable matter buried in the
earth would part, in course of time, with no small share of its carbon,
its hydrogen, and its oxygen, but not with all in the same proportions:
for the new combinations would use up more of the oxygen than of the
hydrogen, and more of the hydrogen than of the carbon.[58] In other
words, if the process should have gone on for a sufficient lapse of
ages, these elements would no longer exist together in the proportions
which are necessary to constitute wood, but would rather exist in the
proportions which are found to constitute coal.[59]

This explanation is confirmed by a fact with which our readers are
no doubt familiar. According to the explanation, carbonic acid and
carburetted hydrogen are evolved during the process by which coal is
produced from wood. We should therefore expect to find these gases
closely associated with Coal. If they are _not_ so associated, their
absence is a serious objection against our theory; but if they _are_
so associated, their presence is a strong evidence in its favor. Now
on this point, as every one knows, practical miners bear testimony
that the fact corresponds exactly with our theory. They tell us that
reservoirs of Choke-damp, which is carbonic acid, and of Fire-damp,
which is carburetted hydrogen, are found very commonly pent up in the
crevices and cavities of coal beds, and are the cause, when tapped, of
many of the accidents which take place. They even assure us that some
beds of coal are so saturated with gas that, when cut into, it may
be heard oozing from every pore of the rock, and the coal is called
_singing coal_ by the colliers.[60]

To sum up, then, what we have said on this point: it appears, first,
that the same constituent elements are found in wood and Coal;
secondly, though they do not exist in the same proportions in the two
substances, the difference is fully accounted for by the changes which
we should naturally expect to take place when large accumulations of
vegetable matter are buried in the earth; thirdly, in the hypothesis of
these changes, carbonic acid and carburetted hydrogen would certainly
be developed; and in point of fact, these gases are found intimately
associated with Coal all over the world.

There is another remarkable fact which fits in most admirably with our
theory. Coal is found at the present day in the Crust of the Earth,
disposed in thin seams or beds, and each bed is almost uniformly
found to rest upon a stratum of fine clay, sometimes several feet in
thickness. This is just what our theory would lead us to expect. If
coal is produced from plants and trees, these plants and trees must
have grown upon some suitable soil; and, therefore, in this hypothesis
we should expect, ordinarily speaking at least, to find a bed of clay
beneath every bed of coal. But this is not all. When we examine more
closely the stratum on which the coal reposes, we find the roots and
stems of trees mingled with the clay in the greatest profusion. In
the Welsh coal field, in a depth of twelve thousand feet, there are
from fifty to a hundred beds of coal, each lying on a stratum of clay
abounding in these remains.[61]

We now come to an argument of a practical kind which appeals to common
sense and common experience. Let us suppose that a person wholly
unacquainted with the art of manufacturing paper, were to enter a
paper-mill when the workmen are away, and the process of manufacture
for a time suspended. At first sight he would probably find it
difficult to persuade himself, that the piles of clean white paper,
which attract his notice at one end of the building, are produced
from the heaps of filthy rags which he sees accumulated at the other.
But if he be a sagacious observer, he will soon find evidence to
convince him that this is really the case. For he will perceive, upon
close examination, that the self-same material is exhibited in every
intermediate state of progress from one extreme to the other. First,
there is the great chest with its numerous compartments, in which the
rags are seen carefully sorted, according to their various degrees of
quality and texture. Next comes the fulling-mill, where they are washed
and bleached. Then the revolving cylinder, furnished on the exterior
surface with sharp blades or cutters; and the vat in which it moves is
filled with the rags, which now assume the form of a thin liquid pulp.
Advancing still further he will see this pulp evenly spread out upon
a wire-gauze frame, and now at last it is beginning to exhibit some
likeness to the form and substance of paper. Further on it is seen
pressed and dried; and last of all cut into sheets and laid aside in
lofty piles.

Now it seems to us that we are placed in somewhat of the same
position, as regards the manufacture of Coal. We cannot observe the
process actually going on; for though, in this process, the work is
never suspended, the workmen never at rest, yet extending as it does
over a space of many centuries, it is too slow to be sensible; and
besides it is conducted in great part beneath the surface of the
Earth. Nevertheless, we can trace the progress of change through
each intermediate stage of the transition, from one extreme to the
other,--from the primeval swamps and forests through the numerous
varieties of the Peat and Lignite to the richest beds of pure Coal.

First, then, we have the great forest-covered swamps, like those which
now occupy the valley and delta of the Mississippi. They are composed
in many cases of pure vegetable matter without any intermixture of
earthy sediment. A dense growth of reeds, and shrubs, and herbage of
every kind, covers the whole surface of the land, mixed up with the
decaying leaves and prostrate trunks of forest-trees. Sir Charles Lyell
mentions a very remarkable fact observed in the swamps of Louisiana.
During an unusually hot season, when any part of a swamp is dried up,
if the surface be set on fire, a pit is burned into the ground many
feet deep, in fact, as far down as the fire can descend without meeting
water; and it is then found that scarcely any residuum or earthy matter
is left.[62]

Vegetable strata of this kind are produced, not only upon dry land by
the growth and decay of forests, but also beneath the waters of lakes
and estuaries, by the accumulation of Drift-timber borne along in the
current of swollen rivers. The Mackenzie River, which drains a great
part of Northwestern America, affords many admirable illustrations.
Flowing as it does from south to north, it is subject to annual
inundations when the snows begin to melt in the higher parts of its
course, while the channel lower down, situated in colder latitudes, is
still blocked up with ice. At this season then it overflows its banks,
and sweeping through vast forests, carries away thousands of uprooted
trees in its impetuous torrent.

“As the trees,” says Dr. Richardson, “retain their roots, which are
often loaded with earth and stones, they readily sink, especially
when water-soaked; and accumulating in the eddies, form shoals, which
ultimately augment into islands. A thicket of small willows covers
the new-formed island as soon as it appears above water, and their
fibrous roots serve to bind the whole firmly together. Sections of
these islands are annually made by the river; and it is interesting to
study the diversities of appearances they present according to their
different ages. The trunks of the trees gradually decay until they
are converted into a blackish-brown substance resembling peat, but
still retaining more or less of the fibrous structure of the wood; and
layers of this often alternate with layers of clay and sand, the whole
being penetrated, to a depth of four or five yards or more, by the
long fibrous roots of the willows. A deposition of this kind, with the
aid of a little infiltration of bituminous matter, would produce an
excellent imitation of Coal, with vegetable impressions of the willow

“It was in the rivers only that we could observe sections of these
deposits; but the same operation goes on, on a much more magnificent
scale, in the lakes. A shoal of many miles in extent is formed on the
south side of Athabasca Lake by the Drift-timber and vegetable débris
brought down by the Elk River; and the Slave Lake itself must in
process of time be filled up by the matters daily conveyed into it from
Slave River. Vast quantities of Drift-timber are buried under the sand
at the mouth of the river, and enormous piles of it are accumulated on
the shores of every part of the lake.”

Not unfrequently it happens that these strata of vegetable matter, with
the roots and trunks of trees, their branches, fruits, and leaves, more
or less perfectly preserved, are covered over by subsequent deposits.
Such accumulations, we are assured by Doctor Mantell, have been found
deep in the soil on the coast of England, in places that are still
subject to periodical inundations. “The trees are chiefly of the oak,
hazel, fir, birch, yew, willow, and ash; in short, almost every kind
that is indigenous to this island occasionally occurs. The trunks and
branches are dyed throughout of a deep ebony color by iron; and the
wood is firm and heavy, and occasionally fit for domestic use; in
Yorkshire and elsewhere, timber of this kind is sometimes employed in
the construction of houses.”[63] Here, then, is the first stage of
the conversion of wood into Coal,--a stratum more or less compacted
together of vegetable matter, spread out sometimes over the surface of
the dry land, sometimes on the floor of lakes and estuaries, and often
buried beneath an accumulation of subsequent deposits.

The next stage in the process of transformation may be represented by
those Peat Bogs which constitute one of the most remarkable physical
characteristics of Ireland, covering as they do an area equal to
one-tenth of the whole island. In these the vegetable matter is more
closely condensed, but the structure of the plants from which the
Peat is derived is still preserved, and may be distinctly recognized
by the naked eye. Nay, we have still the prostrate trunks of trees
lying around on every side as they fell to the ground in their ancient
forests. The researches recently pursued upon this subject have brought
to light a fact which is very much to our present purpose; for it
seems to prove our thesis by direct evidence. “In Limerick, in the
district of Maine, one of the States of North America, there are Peat
Bogs of considerable extent, in which a substance exactly similar to
_cannel coal_ is found at the depth of three or four feet from the
surface amidst the remains of rotten logs of wood and _beaver sticks_:
the peat is twenty feet thick, and rests upon white sand. This coal
was discovered on digging a ditch to drain a portion of the bog, for
the purpose of obtaining peat for manure. The substance is a true
bituminous coal, containing more bitumen than is found in any other
variety. Polished sections of the compact masses exhibit the peculiar
structure of coniferous trees, and prove that the coal was derived from
a species allied to the American Fir.”[64] A similar phenomenon was
observed by Doctor Dieffenbach in the Chathain Islands. In the same
bed of peat he was able distinctly to trace a gradual transition from
pure vegetable matter to a mineral substantially identical with common

But though Peat may thus, as it should seem, pass directly into pure
Coal, there are many cases in which it first assumes a more imperfect
form, known under the name of Lignite. This substance is described
as of a brownish color, “soft and mellow in consistence when freshly
quarried, but becoming brittle by exposure, the fracture following
the direction of the fibre of the wood.”[66] It clearly occupies an
intermediate position between Peat and Coal. Like the former, it still
exhibits the stems and woody fibre of the plants from which it is
derived, very little altered in their structure; while on the other
hand it is already beginning to acquire some of the consistency and
density of Coal; to which also it approaches much more closely in its
chemical composition. It should be remembered, moreover, that Lignite
does not designate a substance of a fixed, invariable character. On the
contrary, under the one general name are comprised a definite number of
varieties, leading from one extreme to the other by a series of almost
insensible gradations; the extreme variety on one side being scarcely
distinguishable from Peat, while the extreme variety on the other is
practically identical with ordinary Coal. It can hardly be doubted,
therefore, that Coal must have the same origin as Lignite, while it is
at least equally certain that Lignite has been derived from Peat; and
we have already seen what overwhelming evidence may be adduced to show
that the origin of Peat is to be sought for in the sunken swamps and
forests of a long past age.

Lastly, when we come to examine the texture of Coal itself, we find
much to confirm the conclusion at which we have thus arrived. In beds
of pure Coal the remains of many species of plants have been detected,
and sometimes in such abundance as to constitute visibly the bulk of
the Coal. Even large trees are sometimes found standing erect in the
Coal fields, with their bark actually converted into this mineral. The
annexed Figure represents a portion of the stem, together with the
roots of a tall forest tree, Sigillaria, discovered not long ago in a
Coal mine at Saint Helens, near Liverpool. The stem, which was nine
feet high, was found erect in the seam of Coal, while the roots, ten
in number, stretched away into the vegetable soil beneath.

[Illustration: Fig. 11.--Stem and roots of a Forest Tree, Sigillaria.
From a Coal-mine, near Liverpool.

  _a_, The trunk traversing a bed of Coal.

  _b_, The roots spreading out in the underclay.]

Not less than thirty such trees, some of them four or five feet in
diameter, and all incrusted with Coal, were laid bare a short time
since, in a Colliery near Newcastle, within an area of fifty yards
square. “In 1830,” writes Sir Charles Lyell, “a slanting trunk was
exposed in Craigleith quarry, near Edinburgh, the total length of which
exceeded sixty feet. Its diameter at the top was about seven inches,
and near the base, it measured five feet in its greater, and two feet
in its lesser, width. The bark was converted into a thin coating of
the purest and finest Coal.” Again, “in South Staffordshire, a seam of
Coal was laid bare in the year 1844, in what is called an open work
at Parkfield Colliery, near Wolverhampton. In the space of about a
quarter of an acre, the stumps of no less than seventy-three trees,
with their roots attached, appeared, some of them more than eight feet
in circumference. The trunks, broken off close to the root, were lying
prostrate in every direction, often crossing each other. One of them
measured fifteen, another thirty feet in length, and others less. They
were invariably flattened to the thickness of one or two inches, and
converted into Coal. Their roots formed part of a stratum of Coal ten
inches thick, which rested on a layer of clay two inches thick, below
which was a second forest resting on a two-foot seam of Coal. Five feet
below this again was a third forest, with large stumps of Lepidodendra,
Calamites, and other trees.”[67]

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now brought to a close a very important line of argument in
the Science of Geology. We have pointed out that, in the strata which
compose the Crust of the Earth, there are rocks of various kinds,
distinguished from one another as well by the nature of the materials
which compose them, as by the manner in which these materials are
arranged together; and we have shown that rocks presenting the same
general appearances, and composed of exactly the same materials, are
being produced in the present age upon the Surface of the Earth,
through the agency of natural causes. Moreover, we have closely
examined, in certain cases, the nature of the process by which the
formation of these rocks is accomplished at the present day; and we
have seen how difficult it is, when the facts of the case are once
clearly before us, to resist the conclusion that the rocks which we now
find buried in the Earth, were produced in some former age, by the same
causes which are still at work. We shall next proceed to inquire how
far this conclusion is confirmed by the independent evidence of Fossil

But before entering on a new line of argument, it is fit we should
take notice of an objection which has sometimes been urged against the
reasoning we have hitherto pursued, and which has done much to create
and to keep alive a prejudice unfavorable to the Science of Geology.
Religious writers have not unfrequently insinuated, and sometimes have
plainly asserted, that, in ascribing the present structure of the
Earth’s Crust to the operation of natural causes, Geologists would
seem to make no account of God’s Omnipotence. A moment’s reflection
will convince the reader that this charge is utterly unphilosophical.
Is it not plain that the more fully we appreciate and acknowledge the
wonderful works of Nature, the more deeply must we become impressed
with the power and wisdom of Him who is the Author and Ruler of Nature?
To say that secondary causes exist, and to point out the monuments that
bear witness to their operation in long passed ages, is not to deny,
but rather to affirm the existence of a Great First Cause, upon whom
they all depend for their existence, their preservation, and their

We are everywhere reminded by abundant evidence, that it has pleased
the Great Creator to employ the agency of His creatures in the
fashioning and the adorning of this material universe. He does not
create at once, as He well might do, the great oak of the forest; but
He allows the seed to sink into the earth, where it is watered by the
gentle dews of Heaven, and fructified by the genial warmth of the sun;
soon it puts forth a tender germ; the germ, in time, imbibing the
elements of its support from the air and the earth, becomes a sappling,
and the sappling a tree, which spreads its huge branches on every side,
and serves for many purposes of ornament and of use. Or let us take
the case of the honeycomb, that most curious and ingenious work, at
once the palace and the storehouse of a vast and busy community. It is
not produced in a moment by a simple act of creation. God has not made
it Himself, but He has taught the bee to make it. In like manner He
has provided for the little birds, not by building their nests, but by
infusing into their nature that mysterious instinct which prompts them
to build, and guides them in their work.

Geologists, therefore, when they undertake to explain the existence
of Stratified Rocks, not by the immediate action of the Creator, but
by the intervention of natural causes, are not on that account to be
accused of impiety. They do not disparage, but rather magnify His
glory, when they expatiate upon the endless variety of agents which,
according to their theory, He has employed in the structure of the
material world. If the honeycomb, as a work of contrivance and design,
excites the wonder and admiration of the philosopher, what must we
think of the contrivance and design exhibited by Him who has made, not
the honeycomb only, but the bee that builds the honeycomb? And so, too,
we get novel and unexpected views of God’s Omnipotence, when, through
the science of Geology, we come to understand the vast and harmonious
series of secondary causes by which he has brought the Crust of the
Earth into its present form and shape. The impress of His hand is
stamped upon His works; and all that is wonderful and attractive in
Nature is but the token of His power and the shadow of His beauty. And
so our national poet has sung:

    “Thou art, O GOD, the life and light
      Of all this wondrous world we see;
    Its glow by day, its smile by night,
      Are but reflections caught from Thee.
    Where’er we turn, Thy glories shine,
    And all things fair and bright are Thine.”




    _Recapitulation--Scope of our argument--Theory of
    stratified rocks the framework of geological science--The
    theory brings geology into contact with revelation--the
    line of reasoning hitherto pursued confirmed by the
    testimony of fossil remains--Meaning of the word
    fossil--Inexhaustible abundance of fossils--Various states
    of preservation--Petrifaction--Experiments of Professor
    Göppert--Organic rocks afford some insight into the fossil
    world--The reality and significance of fossil remains must
    be learned from observation--The British Museum--Colossal
    skeletons--Bones and shells of animals--Fossil plants and

Reader, you are beginning to suspect us. ‘How long do we propose to
detain people?’ For anything that appears we may be designing to write
on to the twentieth century. ‘And _whither_ are we going?’ Toward what
object? which is as urgent a quære as, _how far_? Perhaps we may be
leading you into treason. You feel symptoms of doubt and restiveness;
and like Hamlet with his father’s ghost, “you will follow us no further
unless we explain what it is that we are in quest of.”

These words of Thomas De Quincey to his readers, in the middle of one
of his discursive essays, which, interesting as they certainly are in
all their parts, yet sometimes beget a feeling of weariness from the
uncomfortable apprehension that they will not come to an end, are,
perhaps, scarcely less appropriate in our own case. It may be that our
readers have been left too long in the uneasy state of suspense and
hope deferred. They came to our pages to look for a practical solution
of the question, Is Geology at variance with the Bible? And what avails
it, they may ask, to discourse to them of the Gulf Stream, and Rivers,
and Glaciers, and Alluvial Plains, and Coral Rocks, and Coal Mines?
With painful steps they have been toiling after us through tedious
disquisitions, straining their eyes to see the end, but the end is not
yet in sight. Well, then, if they will rest for a few minutes by the
way, we will pause, too, and tell them what we are about, and try to
bring out more clearly the object at which we are aiming.

Our design from the beginning was to consider the points of contact
between Geology and Revelation; to examine the relations that exist
between these two departments of knowledge,--one resting upon reason
and observation, the other given to us from Heaven; and to inquire
how far it may be possible to adopt the conclusions of the former,
while we adhere, at the same time, with unswerving fidelity, to the
unchangeable truths of the latter. With this end in view, we proceeded
at once to sketch out the more prominent features of Geological theory;
not the particular theory of one writer, or of one school, but that
more general theory which is adopted by all writers, and prevails in
every school. This theory, we were all well aware, is in many points
widely at variance with the common notions of sensible and even
well-informed men who have not devoted much attention to the study of
Physical Science. And it occurred to us that, possibly, many of our
readers might be disposed to cut the controversy short by rejecting,
in a summary way, the whole system of Geology, and treating it as an
empty shadow or an idle dream. This, we were convinced, would be a
mistaken and mischievous course. Geology is not a house of cards that
it may be blown down by a breath. It is a hypothesis, a theory, if you
will; but no one can in fairness deny that behind this theory there are
facts,--unexpected, startling, significant facts; that these facts,
when considered in their relation to one another, when illustrated
by the present phenomena of Nature, and skilfully grouped together,
as they have been by able men, disclose certain general truths, and
suggest certain arguments, which do seem to point in the direction of
those conclusions at which Geologists have arrived.

It follows that he who would investigate fairly the claims of Geology,
must first learn to appreciate the significance of these facts, and
to estimate the value of these arguments. And this is precisely what
we have been trying to do. We are not writing a treatise on Geology.
Certainly not: it would be presumptuous in us, with our scanty
knowledge, to attempt it. Besides, Geology has it own professors, and
its lecture-halls, and its manuals. Neither do we mean to assume the
character of the advocates or champions of Geology. It does not ask
our services; in its cause are enrolled no small proportion of the
most illustrious names which for the last fifty years have adorned the
annals of Physical Science. Nor do we want even to enforce upon our
readers that more general theory of Geology which we are endeavoring to
explain and illustrate. Our purpose is merely to collect from various
sources, and to string together, the evidence that may be adduced in
its favor; that so, when we come hereafter to consider this theory
in its relation with the History of the Bible, we may not incur the
risk of discomfiture by denying that which has been proved by facts,
but rather approach the subject with such knowledge as may help us to
discover the real harmony that we know to exist between the truths
inscribed on the works of God, and those which are recorded in His
Written Word.

In the accomplishment of this task we have devoted ourselves chiefly to
the study of the Aqueous or Stratified Rocks. According to Geologists,
these rocks, such as we find them now, were not the immediate work of
creation, but were slowly produced in the long lapse of ages, and laid
out one above another, by a vast and complex machinery of secondary
causes. The elements of which they are composed were gathered together
from many and various sources; from the ocean, from the air, from other
pre-existing rocks; and, for aught we know, may have had a long and
eventful history before they came to assume their present structure
and arrangement. Thus, for example, the Conglomerates, and Sandstones,
with which we are so familiar, are made up of broken fragments derived
from earlier rocks, and then transported to distant sites by the
mountain torrents, or the stately rivers of vast continents, or the
silent currents of the sea; the Limestone with which we build our
houses is the work of living animals that once swarmed in countless
myriads beneath the waters of the ocean; and the Coal which supplies
the motive power to our manufactories, our railways, our ships of war
and commerce, is but the modern representative of ancient swamps and
forests, which, having been buried in the earth, and there, by the
action of chemical laws, endowed with new properties, were laid by for
the future use of man in the great storehouse of Nature.

This mode of accounting for the origin and formation of Stratified
Rocks constitutes in a manner the framework that supports and binds
together the whole system of Geology. If it be once fairly established,
Geology is entitled to take high rank as a Physical Science. If on
the contrary it should prove to be without foundation, then Geology
is no longer a science, but a dream. Moreover, it is this theory of
stratification which, from the first, has brought Geology into contact
with Revelation. For Geologists have been led to infer the extreme
Antiquity of the Earth, from the immense thickness of the Stratified
Rocks on the one hand, and, on the other, the very slow and gradual
process by which each stratum in the series has been, in its turn,
spread out and consolidated. Those likewise who claim for the Human
Race a greater Antiquity than the Bible allows, seek for their proofs
in the supposed origin and antiquity of those superficial deposits, in
which the remains of Man or of his works are sometimes found entombed.

It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that the theory of Stratified
Rocks should engage the largest share of our attention when we
undertake to discuss the relation in which Geology stands to Revealed
Religion. For the present we say nothing about the conclusions that
flow from this theory, or the errors to which it has led when hastily
or ignorantly applied: we are only investigating the evidence by which
it is supported. In our former chapters we have drawn out at some
length the line of reasoning which is derived from the character of
the Aqueous Rocks themselves when considered in the light of Nature’s
present operations. We have shown that Stratified Rocks of many
different kinds, just such as those which compose the Crust of the
Earth, have been produced by natural causes within historic times; and
we have explained some of the more simple and intelligible parts of
that complex machinery, which, even now, is busily at work gathering,
sorting, distributing, piling up together, and consolidating the
materials of new strata all over the world. These considerations, as
we took occasion to point out, beget a strong presumption in favor
of Geological theory. Here we have Nature at work, actually bringing
into existence a stratum of rock before our eyes. And there, in the
Crust of the Earth, we find another stratum of precisely the same kind
already finished. What can be more reasonable than to ascribe the one
to the action of the same causes which we see at work upon the other?
And thus, by extending the area of our observations from one class
of Aqueous Rocks to another, the idea gradually grows upon us that
these rocks have been spread out, stratum upon stratum, during many
successive ages, by the agency of secondary causes similar to those
which are still in operation; and that each stratum, in its turn, as it
first came into existence, was for a time the uppermost of the series.

In support of this conclusion we are now about to bring forward a new
and independent argument founded on the testimony of Fossil Remains. An
eminent writer has summed up in a few words the value and importance
of Fossil Remains in reference to Geological theory. “At present,”
he says, “shells, fishes, and other animals are buried in the mud or
silt of lakes and estuaries; rivers also carry down the carcases of
land animals, the trunks of trees, and other vegetable drift; and
earthquakes submerge plains and islands, with all their vegetable and
animal inhabitants. These remains become enveloped in the layers of mud
and sand and gravel formed by the waters, and in process of time are
petrified, that is, are converted into stony matter like the shells
and bones found in the oldest strata. Now, as at present, so in all
former time must the remains of plants and animals have been similarly
preserved; and, as one tribe of plant is peculiar to the dry plain,
another to the swampy morass; as one family belongs to a temperate,
another to a tropical region, so, from the character of the embedded
plants, we are enabled to arrive at some knowledge of the conditions
under which they flourished. In the same manner with animals: each
tribe has its locality assigned it by peculiarities of food, climate,
and the like; each family has its own peculiar structure for running,
flying, swimming, plant-eating, or flesh-eating, as the case may be;
and by comparing Fossil Remains with existing races, we are enabled to
determine many of the past conditions of the world with considerable

On this branch of our subject we do not mean to offer much in the
way of argument strictly so called. We shall content ourselves
with a simple statement of facts, and leave them to produce their
own impression. It will be necessary at the outset to explain some
technical matters, that what we have to say hereafter may be the better
understood: and if in this we are somewhat dry and tiresome, we will
try to make amends by the curious and interesting story of Nature’s
long buried works, which we hope in the sequel to unfold.

       *       *       *       *       *

When the word _Fossil_ was first introduced into the English language,
it was employed to designate, as the etymology suggests, whatever is
_dug out of the earth_.[69] But it is now generally used in a much
more restricted sense, being applied only to the remains of plants
and animals embedded in the Crust of the Earth and there preserved
by natural causes. When we speak of remains, we must be understood
to include even those seemingly transient impressions, such as
foot-prints in the sand, which having been made permanent by accidental
circumstances, and thus engraved, as it were, on the archives of
Nature, now bear witness to the former existence of organic life.

Now in every part of the world where the Stratified Rocks have been
laid open to view, remains of this kind are found scattered on all
sides in the most profuse abundance. In Europe, in America, in
Australia, in the frozen wastes of Siberia, in the countless islands
scattered over the waters of the Pacific, there is scarcely a single
formation, from the lowest in the series to the highest, that, when it
is fairly explored, does not yield up vast stores of shells, together
with bones and teeth, nay, sometimes whole skeletons of animals; also
fragments of wood, impressions of leaves, and other organic substances.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.--Fossil Irish Deer (County Fermanagh). In the
Museum of Trinity College, Dublin. From Haughton’s Manual of Geology]

These Fossil Remains do not always occur in the same state of
preservation. Sometimes we have the bone, or plant, or shell, in its
natural condition; still retaining not only its own peculiar form and
structure, but likewise the very same organic substance of which it was
originally composed. Examples innumerable may be seen in the British
Museum, or, indeed, in almost any Geological collection: the fine
skeletons of ancient Irish Deer, which are exhibited in the Museum of
Trinity College, Dublin, and of which all the bones are in excellent
preservation, must be familiar to many of our readers.

It happens, however, more frequently that the organic substance itself
has disappeared, but has left an impression on the rock, that now
bears witness to its former presence. Thus, for instance, when a shell
has been dissolved and carried away by water percolating the rock,
it has very often left after it, on the hard stone, a mould of its
outer surface and a cast of its inner surface, with a cavity between
corresponding to the thickness of the shell. In such cases we have
the form, the size, and the superficial markings of the organic body,
but we have no part of its original substance, and no traces of its
internal structure. This form of fossilization, as Sir Charles Lyell
has well put it, “may be easily understood if we examine the mud
recently thrown out from a pond or canal in which there are shells.
If the mud be argillaceous, it acquires consistency in drying, and
on breaking open a portion of it, we find that each shell has left
impressions of its external form. If we then remove the shell itself,
we find within a solid nucleus of clay, having the form of the interior
of the shell.”[70] In many cases the space first occupied by the shell
is not left empty when the shell has been removed, but is filled up
with some mineral substance, such as lime or flint. The mineral thus
introduced becomes the exact counterpart of the organic body which
has disappeared; and has been justly compared to a bronze statue,
which exhibits the exterior form and lineaments, but not the internal
organization nor the substance of the object it represents.

There is a third form more wonderful still, in which Fossil Remains
are not uncommonly found. The original body has passed away as in the
former case, and yet not only does its _outward shape_ remain, but even
its _internal texture_ is perfectly preserved in the solid stone which
has taken its place. This kind of change is exhibited most remarkably
in the vegetable kingdom. Fossil trees of great size have been
discovered of which _the whole substance has been changed from wood
to stone_: yet with such exquisite skill has the change been effected
that the minute cells and fibres, and the rings of annual growth, may
still be clearly traced; nay, even those delicate spiral vessels which,
from their extreme minuteness, can be discerned only by the aid of the
microscope. Thus the tree remains complete in all its parts; but it is
no longer a tree of wood; it is, so to speak, a tree of stone.

The mystery of this extraordinary transformation has not yet been
fully cleared up by scientific men; but the general principle, at
least, is sufficiently understood. It is thus briefly explained by
Sir Charles Lyell: “If an organic substance is exposed in the open
air to the action of the sun and rain, it will in time putrefy, or be
dissolved into its component elements, consisting usually of oxygen,
hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon. These will readily be absorbed by the
atmosphere or be washed away by rain, so that all vestiges of the dead
animal or plant disappear. But if the same substances be submerged
in water, they decompose more gradually; and if buried in the earth,
still more slowly, as in the familiar example of wooden piles or
other buried timber. Now, if as fast as each particle is set free by
putrefaction in a fluid or gaseous state, a particle equally minute of
carbonate of lime, flint, or other mineral is at hand and ready to be
precipitated, we may imagine this inorganic matter to take the place
just before left unoccupied by the organic molecule. In this manner
a cast of the interior of certain vessels may first be taken, and
afterward the more solid walls of the same may decay and suffer a like
transmutation.”[71] This exposition, so simple and luminous in itself,
may, perhaps, be rendered still more intelligible to the general reader
by an ingenious illustration of Mr. Jukes. “It is,” he says, “as if
a house were gradually rebuilt, brick by brick, or stone by stone, a
brick or a stone of a different kind having been substituted for each
of the former ones, the shape and size of the house, the forms and
arrangements of its rooms, passages, and closets, and even the number
and shape of the bricks and stones, remaining unaltered.”[72]

This singular kind of petrifaction, by which not only the external
form, but even the organic tissue itself, is converted into stone,
has been illustrated, in a very interesting way, by Professor Göppert
of Breslau. With a view to imitate as nearly as he could the process
of Nature, “he steeped a variety of animal and vegetable substances
in waters, some holding siliceous, others calcareous, others metallic
matter in solution. He found that in the period of a few weeks, or even
days, the organic bodies thus immersed were mineralized to a certain
extent. Thus, for example, thin vertical slices of deal, taken from the
Scotch fir, were immersed in a moderately strong solution of sulphate
of iron. When they had been thoroughly soaked in the liquid for several
days, they were dried and exposed to a red heat until the vegetable
matter was burnt up and nothing remained but an oxide of iron, which
was found to have taken the form of the deal so exactly that casts even
of the dotted vessels peculiar to this family of plants were distinctly
visible under the microscope.”[73]

       *       *       *       *       *

If we have succeeded in making ourselves understood, the reader will
now have a pretty accurate notion of what is meant, in modern Geology,
by Fossil Remains. They are the remains or impressions of plants and
animals, buried in the earth by natural causes, and preserved to our
time in any one of the three forms we have just described. Either
the body itself remains, still retaining its own natural substance,
together with its external form and its internal structure. Or
secondly, the organic substance and the organic structure have both
disappeared, but the outward form and the superficial markings have
been left impressed on the solid rock. Or thirdly, the substance of the
body has been converted into stone, but with such a delicate art, that
it is in all respects, outwardly and inwardly, still the same body,
with a new substance. We should observe, however, that these three
different forms of fossilization, which we have successively described,
are not always clearly distinct in actual fossil specimens, but are
often curiously blended together according as the original organic
substance has been more or less completely displaced, or the process of
petrifaction has been more or less perfectly accomplished.

It will probably have occurred to the intelligent reader that we have
already had some insight into the Fossil world, when investigating the
origin of Organic Rocks. We have seen, for instance, that Coal is the
representative to our age of swamps and forests which once covered the
earth with vegetation; that Mountain Limestone is in great part formed
from the skeletons of reef-building corals; that the White Chalk of
Europe is almost entirely derived from the remains of marine shells.
But it should be observed that these and such like rocks, while they
afford us much valuable information about the ancient organic condition
of our planet, are not, strictly speaking, Fossil Remains. For, not
only does the substance of the organic bodies they represent exhibit
an altered character, but the internal structure has been in great
part effaced, and even the outward forms and superficial markings have
disappeared. They contain, it is true, great multitudes of Fossils.
In the Coal, for example, are found, as we have seen, trunks of trees,
together with the impressions of plants and leaves: in the Chalk and
Mountain Limestone, fragments of shells and corals are often discovered
in a state of perfect preservation. But the bulk of these formations
is made up not so much of Fossil Remains, as of that into which Fossil
Remains have been converted. Coal, for instance, is something more than
Fossil wood; Chalk, and Limestone, and Marble, are something more than
Fossil shells and corals.

Fossil Remains properly so called present a very much more lively
picture of the ancient inhabitants of our Globe. But it is a picture
that can but faintly be conveyed to the mind by the way of mere
verbal description. He who would appreciate aright the reality and
the significance of Fossil Remains must gather his impressions from
actual observation. Let him go, for instance, to the British Museum,
and walk slowly through the long suite of noble galleries which are
there exclusively devoted to this branch of science. He will feel
as if transported into another world, the reality of which he could
scarcely have believed if he had not seen it with his own eyes. Before
him, and behind him, and on each side of him, as he moves along, are
spread out in long array forms of beasts, and birds, and fish, and
amphibious animals, such as he has never seen before, nor dreamt of in
his wildest dreams. Yet much as he may wonder at these strange figures,
he never for a moment doubts that they were once indued with life, and
moved over the surface of the earth, or disported in the waters of
the deep. Nay more, though the forms are new to him, he will be at no
loss, however inexperienced in Natural History, to find many analogies
between the creation in the midst of which he stands, and the creation
with which he has been hitherto familiar. There are quadrupeds, and
bipeds, and reptiles. Some of the animals were manifestly designed to
walk on dry land, some to swim in the sea, and some to fly in the air.
Some are armed with claws like the lion or the tiger, others have the
paddles of a turtle, and others again have the fins of a fish. Here is
an enormous beast that might almost pass for an elephant, though an
experienced eye will not fail to detect an important difference; and
there is an amphibious monster that suggests the idea of a crocodile;
and again a little further on is an unsightly creature which unites
the general characteristics of the diminutive sloth with the colossal
proportions of the largest rhinoceros.

If left to mere conjecture, the visitor would perhaps suppose that
these uncouth monsters had been brought together by some adventurous
traveller from the remote regions of the world. But no: he will
find on inquiry that the vast majority belong to species which for
centuries have not been known to flourish on the Earth; and that many
of the strangest forms before him have been dug up almost from beneath
the very soil on which he stands,--from the quarries of Surrey, of
Sussex, and of Kent, and from the deep cuttings on the many lines of
railway that diverge from the great metropolis of London. The life
they represent so vividly is, indeed, widely different from that which
flourishes around us; but it is the life not so much of a far distant
country as of a far distant age.

It must not be supposed, however, that such skeletons as those which
first arrest the eye in the galleries of the British Museum--so
colossal in their proportions and so complete in all their
details--fairly exhibit the general character of Fossil Remains.
Perfect skeletons of gigantic animals are rarely to be found. They are
the exception and not the general rule,--the magnificent reward of long
and toilsome exploration, or, it may be, the chance discovery that
brings wealth to the humble home of some rustic laborer. Very different
are the common every day discoveries of the working Geologist.
Disjointed bones and skulls, scattered teeth, fragments of shells,
the eggs of birds, the impressions of leaves,--these are the ordinary
relics that Nature has stored up for our instruction in the various
strata of the Earth’s Crust: and these likewise constitute by far
the greater part of the treasures which are gathered together in our
Geological Museums.

We will suppose, then, that the visitor has gratified his sense of
wonder in gazing at the larger and more striking forms, few in number,
that rise up prominently before him, and seem to stare at him in return
from their hollow sockets: he must next turn his attention to the cases
that stand against the walls, and to the cabinets that stretch along
the galleries in distant perspective. Let him survey that multitude of
bones of every shape and size, and those countless legions of shells,
and then try to realize to his mind what a profusion and variety of
animal life are here represented. And yet he must remember that this
is but a single collection. There are thousands of others, public and
private, scattered over England, France, Germany, Italy, and beyond
the Atlantic, on the continent of America, and even in Australia; all
of which have been furnished from a few isolated spots,--scarcely more
than specks on the surface of the Globe,--where the interior of the
Earth’s Crust has chanced to be laid open to the explorations of the

Lastly, before he leaves this splendid gallery, let him take a passing
glance at the Organic Remains of the vegetable world. There is no
mistaking the forms here presented to his view. He will recognize
at once the massive and lofty trunks of forest trees with their
spreading branches; the tender foliage of the lesser plants; and, in
particular, the graceful fern, which cannot fail to attract his eye by
its unrivalled luxuriance. But if the forms are familiar, how strange
is the substance, of this ancient vegetation! The forest tree has been
turned into sandstone; many of the plants are of the hardest flint;
and the rich green of the fern has given place to the jet black color
of coal. Let him take a magnifying glass and scrutinize the internal
structure of these mineralized remains; for the more closely they are
examined the more wonderful do they appear. He can observe without
difficulty their minute cells and fibres, the exact counterpart of
those which may be seen in the plants that are now growing upon the
earth; he may detect the little seed-vessels on the under surface of
the coaly fern; nay, if he gets a polished transverse section of the
sandstone tree, he may count the rings that mark its annual growth, and
tell the age it attained in its primeval forest.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--Fossil Wood, from the Carboniferous Limestone
of Mayo, showing the rings of Annual Growth.]





    _From the museum to the quarry--Fossil fish in the limestone
    rocks of Monte Bolca--In the quarries of Aix--In the chalk
    of Sussex--The ichthyosaurus or fish-like lizard--Gigantic
    dimensions of this ancient monster--Its predatory
    habits--The plesiosaurus--The megatherium or great wild
    beast--History of its discovery--The mylodon--Profusion
    of fossil shells--Petrified trees erect in the limestone
    rock of Portland--Fossil plants of the coal measures--The
    sigillaria--The fern--The calamite--The lepidodendron--Coal
    mine of Treuil--Fossil remains afford undeniable evidence
    of former animal and vegetable life--Their existence cannot
    be accounted for by the plastic power of nature--Nor can it
    reasonably be ascribed to a special act of creation._

From the galleries of the Museum we must now descend into the
subterranean recesses of the mine and the quarry. For it is not enough
to be familiar with the appearance of Fossil Remains, as they are laid
out for show by human hands: we must see them also as they lie embedded
in the successive strata of the Earth’s Crust, which are the shelves
of Nature’s cabinet. We shall begin with the celebrated quarries of
Monte Bolca, in Northern Italy, not far from Verona. Here, in the hard
limestone rock, fifty miles from the nearest sea, entire skeletons
of many different species of fish are found embedded in profuse
abundance, and in a wonderful state of preservation. They lie parallel
to the layers of the rock; and, though flattened by pressure, still
retain their scales, bones, fins, nay, even their muscular tissue,
undisturbed and unharmed. Their color is a deep brown, which forms
a remarkable contrast with the creamy hue of the limestone in which
they are enveloped. The quarries have been worked only by students of
Natural History for the sake of Organic remains, and are, therefore,
of very limited extent; yet so abundant are these fossil treasures
that upward of a hundred different species have been discovered,
and thousands of specimens have been dispersed over the cabinets
of Europe. So closely are they sometimes packed together that many
individuals are contained in a single block.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--Platax Papilio.

From the limestone of Monte Bolca.]

[Illustration: Fig. 15.--Semiophorus Velicans. From the limestone of
Monte Bolca.]

From these facts Geologists have been led to conclude:--that the
strata in question were deposited on the bed of an ancient sea in
which these fishes swam; that the waters of the sea were suddenly
rendered noxious, probably by the eruption of volcanic matter; that the
fishes in consequence perished in large numbers, and were then almost
immediately embedded in the calcareous deposits of which the strata
are composed. These views receive no small confirmation from a very
remarkable phenomenon to which we may be allowed, in passing, to call
attention. In the year 1831 a volcanic island was suddenly thrown up in
the Mediterranean between Sicily and the African coast; and the waters
of the sea were at the same time observed to be charged with a red mud
over a very wide area, while hundreds of dead fish were seen floating
on the surface. Is it not pretty plain that when the mud subsided many
of the fish were enveloped in the deposit, and thus preserved to future
times? If so, then, we should have an exact modern parallel to the
fossil fishes of Monte Bolca. But for the present it is our purpose
rather to describe facts than to develop theories.[74]

Near the town of Aix, the ancient capital of Provence, in the south
of France, is a group of strata, consisting chiefly of Conglomerate,
Marl, Gypsum, and Limestone, which has earned for itself no small fame
in the annals of Geology. Besides many curious relics of an extinct
vegetation, these strata yield also an abundance of Fossil Insects,
which emerge from the rocky bed in which they have slept for ages, with
a surprising freshness and a life-like reality. But the quarries of
Aix, like those of Monte Bolca, are chiefly famous for their Fossil
Fish. And in this case, too, as in the former, it would seem as if vast
multitudes had suddenly perished together from some mysterious cause,
and were then as suddenly entombed. They exhibit no mark of mechanical
violence: and yet they are found, not unfrequently, crowded together
as closely as they can fit, in every variety of position, on the same
slab of limestone. A good example of such a block is represented in our

[Illustration: Fig. 16.--Fossil Fish from Aix.]

The White Chalk Rock of Sussex has been rendered classical to the
students of Geology by the skilful and laborious researches of the late
Doctor Mantell. Previous to his time the Fish of the Chalk were known
only by their teeth and bones, which abounded in every quarry. But he
succeeded in bringing to light many whole skeletons, and disengaging
them without injury from their chalky envelopment. In many cases these
Fossil Fish appear to have suffered little from compression: the body
still retains its rounded form; and even the most delicate scales and
fins are as little disturbed or distorted as if the original had been
surrounded by soft Plaster of Paris while floating in the water. For
many years Doctor Mantell devoted himself, with indefatigable zeal,
to the gathering of these interesting remains; and his magnificent
collection now adorns the Galleries of the British Museum. In the
annexed illustration is figured a specimen belonging to one of the
most abundant species. It is closely allied to the common perch; and
is popularly called Johnny Dory by the quarrymen of Sussex, but is
entitled Beryx Lewesiensis by the learned.[75]

[Illustration: Fig. 17.--Beryx Lewesiensis, from the Chalk, near Lewes.]

From Fossil Fish we now turn to Fossil Reptiles. Many of our readers
have, perhaps, heard or read something about an important group of
rocks known by the name of the Lias. This formation is well developed
in England, and has received much attention from Geologists. It
stretches in a belt of varying width from Whitby on the coast of
Yorkshire to Lyme Regis on the coast of Dorsetshire; passing in its
course through the counties of Leicester, Warwick, Gloucester, and
Somerset. It is composed chiefly of Limestone, Marl, and Clay; and is
celebrated for the number and size of its great Fossil Reptiles. Of
these the most remarkable is the Ichthyosaurus or Fish-like Lizard.

This monster of the ancient seas combined, as its name denotes, the
essential characters of a reptile with the form and habits of a fish.
No such creature has been known to exist within historic times;
nevertheless, all the various parts of its complicated structure
have their analogies, more or less perfect, in the present creation.
It had the head of a Lizard, the beak of a Porpoise, the teeth of a
Crocodile, the back bone of a Fish, and the paddles of a Whale. In
length it sometimes exceeded thirty feet; it had a short thick neck,
an enormous stomach, a long and powerful tail. This last appendage,
together with four great paddles or fins, constituted the chief organs
of motion. But of all its parts the head was perhaps the most wonderful
and characteristic. In the larger species the jaws were six feet long,
and were armed with two rows of conical sharp-pointed teeth,--a hundred
below, a hundred and ten above. The cavities in which the eyes were set
measured often fourteen inches across, and the eyeballs themselves must
have been larger than a man’s head.

Now what we want particularly to impress upon our readers is, that
the remains of this singular aquatic reptile abound throughout the
whole extent of the Lias Formation in England. Far down below the
surface of the earth they are found embedded in the marls, and clays,
and limestones of Dorsetshire, and Gloucester, and Warwick, and
Leicester, and Yorkshire. Sometimes whole skeletons are found entire,
with scarcely a single bone removed from the place it occupied during
life; but more frequently the scattered fragments are found lying
about in a state of confused disorder; skulls, and jaw-bones, and
teeth, and paddles, and the joints of the vertebral column and of the
tail. The neighborhood of Lyme Regis is a perfect cabinet of these
curious treasures. In some of the specimens there exhumed, a singular
circumstance has been observed, which is deserving of special notice.
We should naturally have expected, from the prodigious power of this
animal, from the expansion of his jaws and the immense size of his
stomach, that he preyed upon the other fish and reptiles that had the
misfortune to inhabit the waters in which he lived. And so indeed it
was. For here enclosed within his vast ribs, in the place that once was
his stomach, are still preserved the remains of his half-digested food;
and amidst the débris we can distinguish the bones and scales of his
victims. Nay, in some of the more colossal specimens of this ancient
monster, we can distinctly recognize the remains of his own smaller
brethren; which, though less frequent than the bones of fishes, are
still sufficiently numerous to prove that, when he wanted to appease
his hunger, he did not even spare the less powerful members of his own

[Illustration: Fig. 18.--Ichthyosaurus Platyodon. Museum of Trinity
College, Dublin. Found in the Lias of Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire.]

[Illustration: Fig. 19.--Ichthyosaurus Communis. Museum of Trinity
College, Dublin. Found in the Lias of Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire.]

It is with facts like these, which are revealed by the Crust of the
Earth all over the world, that Geologists are called upon to deal. When
they meet with skeletons and bones such as we have been describing,
buried deep in the hard rock, hundreds of feet beneath the green grass,
and the waving corn, they cannot help but ask the question: Where did
these creatures come from? When did they live? And by what revolutions
were they embedded here, and lifted up from beneath the waters of the

In the same formation are found the remains of another ancient
reptile, called the Plesiosaurus, that is to say, nearly allied to
the Lizard. Of this extraordinary monster Cuvier observed that its
structure was the most singular and anomalous that, up to his time,
had been discovered amid the ruins of the ancient world. It is
chiefly distinguished from the Ichthyosaurus, to which it has no small
affinity, by the enormous length of its neck, which, in some species,
resembles the body of a serpent. Dr. Buckland tells us that in the
Plesiosaurus Dolichodeirus the neck is longer than the trunk; the one
being five times, the other only four times, as long as the head. Our
illustration, for which we are indebted to the kindness of Doctor
Haughton, represents a fine specimen of Plesiosaurus Cramptonii, which
was found in the Lias Beds of Kettleness, near Whitby, in Yorkshire,
and which is now a prominent object in the Museum of the Royal Dublin

The habits and character of the Plesiosaurus have been thus sketched
out by Mr. Conybeare:--“That it was aquatic is evident, from the form
of its paddles; that it was marine is almost equally so, from the
remains with which it is universally associated; that it may have
occasionally visited the shore, the resemblance of its extremities to
those of the turtle may lead us to conjecture. Its motion, however,
must have been very awkward on land; its long neck must have impeded
its progress through the water; presenting a striking contrast to the
organization which so admirably fits the Ichthyosaurus to cut through
the waves. May it not therefore be concluded (since, in addition to
these circumstances, its respiration must have required frequent access
of air), that it swam upon or near the surface; arching back its long
neck like the swan, and occasionally darting it down at the fish which
happened to float within its reach. It may perhaps have lurked in shoal
water along the coast concealed among the sea-weed, and raising its
nostrils to a level with the surface from a considerable depth, may
have found a secure retreat from the assaults of dangerous enemies;
while the length and flexibility of its neck may have compensated for
the want of strength in its jaws, and its incapacity for swift motion
through the water, by the suddenness and agility of the attack which
they enabled it to make on every animal fitted for its prey, which came
within its reach.”[77]

[Illustration: Fig. 20.--Plesiosaurus Cramptonii. Museum of the Royal
Dublin Society.]

The Pampas of South America are not less famous in Geology for the
remains of Gigantic quadrupeds, than the Lias of England for its
colossal marine reptiles. These vast undulating plains, which present
to the eye for nine hundred miles a waving sea of grass, consist
chiefly of stratified beds of gravel and reddish mud; and it is in
these beds that the remains of many unshapely but powerful terrestrial
animals have been found embedded. So abundant are they, that it is said
a line drawn in any direction through the country would cut through
some skeleton or bones. Indeed, Mr. Darwin is of opinion that the whole
area of the Pampas is one wide sepulchre of these extinct animals.
It will be enough for our purpose to describe one in particular,
which, from its prodigious bulk, has received the appropriate name of
Megatherium, or the Great Wild Beast.

The Megatherium, like the Ichthyosaurus and the Plesiosaurus, had
many affinities with the existing creation. In its head and shoulders
it resembled the sloth which still browses on the green foliage of
the trees in the dense forests of South America; while in its legs
and feet it combined the characteristics of the Ant-Eater and the
Armadillo. But it was eminently distinguished from these and all the
other modern representatives of the family to which it belonged by
its colossal proportions. It was often twelve feet long and eight
feet high; its fore-feet were a yard in length and twelve inches in
breadth, terminating in gigantic claws; its haunches were five feet
wide, and its thigh bone was three times as big as that of the largest
elephant. “His entire frame,” as Dr. Buckland has admirably observed
and carefully demonstrated, “was an apparatus of colossal mechanism,
adapted exactly to the work it had to do; strong and ponderous, in
proportion as this work was heavy, and calculated to be the vehicle of
life and enjoyment to a gigantic race of quadrupeds, which, though they
have ceased to be counted among the living inhabitants of our planet,
have, in their fossil bones, left behind them imperishable monuments
of the consummate skill with which they were constructed,--each limb,
and fragment of a limb, forming co-ordinate parts of a well adjusted
and perfect whole; and through all their deviations from the form and
proportions of the limbs of other quadrupeds, affording fresh proofs
of the infinitely varied and inexhaustible contrivances of Creative

“This Leviathan of the Pampas, as it has been justly called, became
first known in Europe toward the close of the last century. In the year
1789 a skeleton was dug up, almost entire, about three miles southwest
of Buenos Ayres, and was presented by the Marquis of Loreto to the
Royal Museum at Madrid, where it still remains. Since that time other
specimens, besides numerous fragments, have been discovered, chiefly
through the zeal and energy of Sir Woodbine Parish; by the aid of which
the form, structure, and consequently the habits of this clumsy and
ponderous animal have been fully ascertained. The complete skeleton
which forms so prominent an object of attraction in the British Museum,
and which is represented in the woodcut on the adjoining page, is
only a model; but it has been constructed with great care from the
original bones, some of which are to be found in the wall-cases of the
same room, and others in the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of

[Illustration: Fig. 21.--The Megatherium. From the British Museum.
Length 12 feet; Height 8 feet.]

Closely allied to the Megatherium, but somewhat less colossal in its
dimensions, is the Mylodon. Its remains are found associated with those
of the Megatherium and other great animals of the same family, in
the superficial gravels of South America. A splendid specimen, which
measures eleven feet from the fore part of the skull to the end of the
tail, was dug up, in the year 1841, a few miles north of Buenos Ayres.
It is well figured in the adjoining woodcut, which we reproduce, by
kind permission of the Author, from Dr. Haughton’s admirable Manual of

[Illustration: Fig. 22.--Mylodon Robustus, from Buenos Ayres.]

Passing from the petrified fish, and the reptiles, and the quadrupeds,
that thus come forth, as it were, from their graves to bring us tidings
of an extinct creation, we must next turn our attention for a moment to
Fossil Shells. These relics of the ancient world, which are scattered
with profuse abundance through all the strata of the Earth’s Crust,
may seem, indeed, of little value to the careless observer; but to
the practised eye of science they are full of instruction. They have
been aptly called the Medals of Creation; for, stamped upon their
surface they bear the impress of the age to which they belong; and they
constitute the largest, we may say, perhaps, the most valuable part of
those unwritten records from which the Geologist seeks to gather the
ancient history of our Globe.

As regards the prodigious abundance of Fossil Shells preserved in
the Crust of the Earth, it is unnecessary for us here to speak. We
have already seen that the great mass of many limestone formations is
composed almost exclusively of such remains, broken up into minute
fragments, and more or less altered by chemical agency; and besides,
there are quarries within the reach of all, where they may collect
at pleasure these interesting relics of the olden time. But there
are one or two facts of peculiar significance connected with Fossil
Shells, which it may be useful briefly to set down. In the first place,
we would remind our readers that there is a marked and well-known
difference between the shells of those animals that can live only in
the sea, of those that inhabit rivers, and of those, finally, that
frequent the brackish waters of estuaries. Now it has been made clear
beyond all reasonable doubt, by the explorations of Geologists, that
sea-shells abound in great numbers far away from the present line
of coast, in the heart of vast continents. And they are found, not
merely on the surface, but buried deep in the Crust of the Earth, and
overlaid, in many cases, by numerous strata of solid rock, thousands
of feet in thickness. It is also to be observed that they occur at
all heights above the level of the ocean; having been discovered at an
elevation of eight thousand feet in the Pyrenees, ten thousand in the
Alps, thirteen thousand in the Andes, and above eighteen thousand in
the Himalaya.[79] Such are the phenomena which are constantly forcing
themselves on the attention of the Geologist, and which involve a
number of problems that he cannot help attempting to investigate and
explain. He is instinctively impelled to ask himself, how can the
shells of marine animals have come to exist so far away from the sea?
how have they been buried in the Crust of the Earth? how have they been
lifted up to the highest pinnacles of lofty mountains?

Our subterranean exploration would be incomplete if it did not
illustrate the Vegetable as well as the Animal Life of the ancient
world. Let the reader then descend in fancy into the celebrated
quarries of Portland on the south coast of England, and he will see
the fossilized remains of a long past vegetation exhibited in a
very striking manner. In one, of these quarries a vertical section,
extending from the surface downward to the depth of about thirty feet,
presents the following succession of strata arranged in horizontal
layers:--first, a light covering of vegetable soil, beneath which are
thin beds of cream-colored limestone, forming a stratum of solid rock
ten feet thick; then a bed of dark-brown loam, mixed with rounded
fragments of stone, and varying in thickness from twelve to eighteen
inches. This is known to the quarrymen by the name of Dirt-bed, and
seems, in former ages, to have supported a luxuriant vegetation; for
all around are scattered the petrified fragments of an ancient forest.
The prostrate stems and shattered branches of great trees are met at
every step; but what is most striking and peculiar is, that, in many
cases, the petrified stumps are still standing erect, with their roots
fixed in the thin stratum of loam, and their trunks stretching upward
into the hard limestone rock. Immediately below the Dirt-bed is another
thick stratum of limestone, and below this again is a stratum of the
famous Portland stone, so highly prized for building purposes. As the
quarries of Portland are worked chiefly for the sake of this building
stone, little attention is paid to the Dirt-bed and its contents, which
are commonly thrown aside by the quarrymen as rubbish.

[Illustration: Vegetable soil.

Fresh-water Limestone.


Laminated fresh-water Limestone.

Dirt-bed with fossil trees and plants.

Fresh-water Limestone.

Bed of Clay.

Portland building-stone full of marine shells.

Fig. 23.--Section of a Quarry in the Island of Portland. Total
thickness about thirty feet.]

The scene of this petrified forest is thus described by Doctor
Mantell:--“On one of my visits to the island the surface of a large
area of the Dirt-bed was cleared preparatory to its removal, and the
appearance presented was most striking. The floor of the quarry was
literally strewn with fossil wood, and before me was a petrified
forest, the trees and plants, like the inhabitants of the city in
Arabian story, being converted into stone, yet still remaining
in the places which they occupied when alive! Some of the trunks
were surrounded by a conical mound of calcareous earth, which had,
evidently, when in the state of mud, accumulated round the roots. The
upright trunks were generally a few feet apart, and but three or four
feet high; their summits were broken and splintered, as if they had
been snapped or wrenched off by a hurricane at a short distance from
the ground. Some were two feet in diameter, and the united fragments
of one of the prostrate trunks indicated a total length of from thirty
to forty feet; in many specimens portions of the branches remained
attached to the stem.”[80]

The Coal Measures of Europe and America offer to the student of Geology
a boundless field for the investigation of Fossil Plants and Trees.
We have already had occasion to notice the Sigillaria. This ancient
tree, remarkable for its beautiful sculptured stem, has no exact
representative in the vegetable kingdom of the present day. But it
abounds everywhere in the Coal Measures; and there seems little doubt
that several great seams of Coal are composed almost entirely of its
carbonized remains. Indeed the ancient soil, which commonly constitutes
the floor on which the bed of Coal reposes, is often as thickly crowded
with the branching roots of the Sigillaria, as the soil of a dense
forest with the roots of the trees by which it is covered. The stem
itself, when converted into Coal, generally assumes the form of long
narrow slabs; having been flattened by pressure during the process of
mineralization. Sometimes, however, it is found uncompressed and erect.
In this case the interior of the trunk is usually observed to have been
filled up with sand or clay: and thus the forest tree, still retaining
its external shape and character, is transformed into a cylindrical
shell of carbonized bark without, and a solid cylinder of sandstone or
shale within. An interesting example is exhibited in our illustration,
Figure 11.

Every Coal mine, too, is adorned with the imprint of the graceful Fern,
which constitutes one of the most attractive features in the Flora of
the ancient world. Not unfrequently it assumes a tree-like character,
as it often does even now in tropical countries; and then, indeed, it
is an object of striking beauty, reaching to a height of forty or fifty
feet, and expanding at the summit into an elegant canopy of foliage.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.--Calamites Nodosus. From the Coal Measures of

The Calamite is another plant in which the Coal abounds. Its true
botanical character is not yet clearly ascertained; but it bears a
general resemblance, except for its gigantic dimensions, to the common
Horse-tail of our swamps and marshy grounds. It is a reed-like, jointed
stem, sometimes thirty feet in length, hollow within, and curiously
jointed without.

[Illustration: Fig. 25.--Lepidodendron Sternbergii; a Fossil Tree, 39
feet high. From a Coal Mine near Newcastle.]

Scarcely less conspicuous than the Sigillaria, the Fern, and the
Calamite, is the Lepidodendron or Scaly Tree, one of the most curious
and interesting among the plants of the Coal-bearing period. Like the
Sigillaria and the Calamite, it has been, and still is, a puzzle to
the student of Botany. But it needs not the eye of science to see that
it is unmistakably a stately forest tree, shut up in the Crust of the
Earth, encased in a solid framework of indurated Shale, or Sandstone,
or Coal, as the case may be, and overlaid with massive strata of rock
hundreds of feet in thickness. Such a specimen as that represented
in our woodcut was laid bare some years ago in Yarrow Colliery, near

[Illustration: Fig. 26 Lepidodendron Elegans. Portion of Stem and
branches; Coal Mine, Newcastle.]

In the same neighborhood was found a portion of the stem and branches
of another variety, Lepidodendron Elegans, which will enable the reader
to form a more complete idea of the appearance presented by this
ancient tree as it stood in its primeval forest.

An unusually favorable illustration of our present subject may be
seen at the colliery of Treuil, in France, not far from the city of
Lyons. The beds of Coal are overlaid by a kind of slaty sandstone,
ten feet thick; and this sandstone is traversed by the vertical stems
of enormous petrified plants, chiefly Calamites. Here, then, to all
appearance, we have an ancient forest enveloped in sandstone. We must
suppose that the forest was submerged while the trees were still erect;
that in this condition it received the sedimentary deposits carried
down by the current of some great river; and finally, that these
deposits were, in the course of ages, compacted into sandstone by a
process already explained. It would seem that after the sandstone had
been partially, at least, consolidated, it was subjected to a sliding
movement here and there, by which the continuity of the stems was
broken; the upper part being pushed on one side, as shown in our Figure.

[Illustration: Fig. 27.--Section of a Coal sandstone at Treuil, near
Lyons. Showing the erect position of Fossil Trees. (Alex. Brongniart.)]

It is time we should bring to a close our survey, meagre and imperfect
as it is, of Fossil Remains. Those who desire to pursue the inquiry
for themselves will easily find an opportunity of doing so. There are
few, we should suppose, who may not, occasionally, have access to one
or other of those splendid Museums of Geology, which have been set up
in all the great towns of Europe. And the still more extensive cabinets
of Nature’s Museum, spread out beneath our feet, are within the reach
of all.

But even the scanty facts which have been set forth faithfully, we
trust, though perhaps feebly, in these pages, are sufficient to satisfy
all reasonable minds that the bones, the skeletons, the trunks and
branches of trees, which have been exhumed from the Stratified Rocks
are really the remains of Organic Life that once flourished on the
earth, or in the waters of the ancient seas. Obvious, however, as this
fact must appear to all who have fully realized the character and
appearance of Fossil Remains, it has been often vigorously assailed and
vehemently denounced. In the early days of Geology phenomena of this
kind were ascribed, not uncommonly, to the “plastic power of Nature,”
or to the influence of the stars. Such notions, however, meet with
little support among modern writers. They were nothing more than wild
fancies, without any foundation either in the evidence of facts or
in the analogy of Nature. The “plastic power of Nature” was a phrase
that sounded well, perhaps, in the ears of unreflecting people; but no
one ever undertook to show that Nature really possesses that “plastic
power” which was so readily imputed to her. No one ever undertook to
show that it is the way of Nature to make the stems, and branches,
and leaves of trees, without the previous process of vegetation; or
to make bones and skeletons which have never been invested with the
ordinary appendages of flesh and blood. Yet surely this is a theory
that requires proof; for all our experience of the laws of Nature
points directly to the opposite conclusion. And as for the influence of
the stars, we may be content to adopt the language of the celebrated
painter Leonardo da Vinci:--“They tell us that these shells were
formed in the hills by the influence of the stars; but I ask where
in the hills are the stars now forming shells of distinct ages and
species? and how can the stars explain the origin of gravel occurring
at different heights and composed of pebbles rounded as if by the
action of running water? or in what manner can such a cause account for
the petrifaction in the same places of various leaves, sea-weeds, and
marine crabs?”[81]

In modern times the form of objection has been somewhat changed. We
are told by some writers that, when we seek to explain the existence
of Fossil Remains by the action of natural laws, we seem to forget the
Omnipotence of God. They urge upon us, with much solemnity, that He
could have made bones, and shells, and skeletons, and petrified wood,
though there had been no living animal to which these bones belonged,
and no living tree that had been changed into stone. And if He made
them, might He not disperse them up and down through His creation, on
the lofty mountains, in the hidden valleys, and in the profound depths
of the sea? and buried them in limestone rocks and in the soft clay?
and arranged them in groups, or scattered them in wild confusion as He
best pleased?

To this line of argument we must be content to reply, that we have no
wish to limit the power of God. But we have learned from our daily
experience that in the physical world He is pleased to employ the
agency of secondary causes; and when we know that for many ages a
certain effect has been uniformly produced by a certain cause, and not
otherwise, then if we again see the effect, we infer the cause. When
a traveller in the untrodden wilds of Western America, comes upon a
forest of great trees, or a herd of unknown animals, surely he never
thinks of supposing that the wild beasts and the forest trees came
directly from the hand of the Creator, in that state of maturity in
which he beholds them. And why? for it might be argued that the power
of God is unbounded, and he might have created them as they now are
if He had so pleased. Is it not that the traveller is impelled, by an
instinct of his nature, to interpret the works of God which he now
sees for the first time, according to the analogy of those with which
he has been long familiar? Now this is just the principle for which we
are contending. According to all our experience of the works of God
in the physical world, the living body comes first, and the skeleton
afterward; the living tree comes first, and afterward the prostrate
trunk and the splintered branches. Therefore when we meet with a
skeleton, we conclude that it was once a living body; and when we find
the petrified stems, and branches, and leaves of trees, we have no
doubt that they are the remains of an ancient vegetation.

But, in truth, if any one, with all the facts of the case fully before
his mind, were deliberately to adopt this theory, that Fossils, as
we find them now, were created by God in the Crust of the Earth, we
candidly confess we have no argument that we should think likely to
shake his conviction; just as we should be utterly at a loss if he
were to say that the Pyramids of Egypt, or the colossal sculptures
of Nineveh, or the ruins of Baalbec, were created by God from the
beginning. The evidence of human workmanship is certainly not more
clear in the one case than is the evidence of animal and vegetable
life in the other. We believe, however, that no such persons are
to be found; that theories of this kind have their origin, not so
much in false reasoning, as in imperfect knowledge of facts; and we
have, therefore, judged it most expedient not to spend our time in a
discussion of philosophical axioms, but to set forth the facts, and
leave them to speak for themselves.




    _Significance of fossil remains--Science of
    Palæontology--Classification of existing animal
    life--Fossil remains are found to fit in with this
    classification--Succession of organic life--Time in Geology not
    measured by years and centuries--Successive periods marked by
    successive forms of life--The Geologist aims at arranging these
    periods in chronological order--Position of the various groups
    of strata not sufficient for this purpose--It is accomplished
    chiefly through the aid of fossil remains--Mode of proceeding
    practically explained--Chronological table._

The existence of Fossil Remains is, then, a fact. Go where you will
through the civilized world, and every chief town has its Museum, into
which they have been gathered by the zeal and industry of man; descend
where you can into the Crust of the Earth,--the quarry, the mine,
the railway cutting,--and there, notwithstanding the plunder which
has been going on for two centuries or more, you will find that the
inexhaustible cabinets of Nature are still teeming with these remains
of ancient life.

When we are brought, for the first time, face to face with these
countless relics of a former world, we are impressed with a sense of
wonder and bewilderment. That the skeletons before us, though now dry
and withered, were once animated with the breath of life; that the
trees now lying shattered and prostrate, and shorn of their branches,
once flourished on the earth, we cannot for a moment hesitate to
believe. But beyond this one fact, all is darkness and mystery. These
gaunt skeletons, these uncouth monsters, these petrified forests, are
silent, lifeless, as the rocks within whose stony bosoms they have
lain so long entombed. Had they speech and memory, they could tell us
much, no doubt, of that ancient world in which they bore a part, of
its continents, and seas, and rivers, and mountains; of the various
tribes of animals and plants by which it was peopled; of their habits
and domestic economy; how they lived, how they died, and how they
were buried in those graves from which, after the lapse of we know
not how many ages, they now come forth into the light of day. As it
is, however, we can but gaze and wonder. We have nothing here but the
relics of death and destruction: there is no feeling, no memory, no
voice, in these dry bones; no living tenant in these hollow skulls, to
recount to us the history of former times.

So thinks and reasons the ordinary observer. But far different is the
language of the Geologist. These dry and withered bones, he tells us,
_are_ gifted with memory and speech; and, though the language they
speak may seem at first unfamiliar and obscure, it is not, on that
account, beyond our comprehension. Like the birds, reptiles, fish, and
other symbols, inscribed on the obelisks of ancient Egypt, these bones
and shells stored up in the Crust of the Earth, have a hidden meaning
which it is the business of Science to search out and explain. They are
Nature’s hieroglyphics, which she has impressed upon her works to carry
down to remote ages the memory of the revolutions through which our
Globe has passed; and when we come to understand them aright, they do
unfold to us the story of that ancient world to which they belonged.

The interpretation of Fossil Remains is, then, an important department
of Geology. Of late years it has been admitted to the rank of a
special science, under the name of Palæontology, which means, as the
word denotes--παλαιῶν ὄντων λόγος--the science which is concerned
about the organic remains of ancient life. The honor of having been
the first to place this science on a solid basis, in fact we may say
the honor of having brought it into existence, is justly accorded to
the distinguished Cuvier, whose name shed a lustre upon France during
the early years of the present century. It is therefore still in its
infancy; but it has already rewarded the zeal of its students by many
wonderful and unexpected revelations. We purpose in the first place to
examine the principles on which it is founded, and then to take a rapid
glance at the conclusions to which it has led.

At the outset it is worthy of notice that the very existence of Fossil
Remains, buried deep in the Crust of the Earth, forcibly confirms the
Geological theory of Stratified Rocks. These rocks, as the reader will
remember, are said to have been slowly spread out, one above another,
during the lapse of many ages, by the operation of natural causes; and
we have seen how this doctrine is supported by arguments founded on an
examination of the rocks themselves,--of the materials that compose
them, and of the way in which these materials are piled together. Now
let us observe how clearly the testimony of Fossil Remains seems to
point in the same direction.

First, the bones and shells which we now find in such profusion, far
down beneath the superficial covering of the Earth, must have belonged
to animals which, when living, flourished on what was then the surface.
Yet now they are buried in the bosom of the hard rock, and covered over
with beds of solid limestone, and sandstone, and conglomerate, hundreds
and thousands of feet in thickness. How can we explain this fact,
unless we suppose that these animals, when they perished, were embedded
in some soft materials, which afterward became consolidated, and above
which, in the course of ages, more and more matter was deposited, until
at length that lofty pile of strata was produced, beneath which the
remains are now found buried?

Again, it is part of our theory that the formation of Stratified Rocks
took place, for the most part, under water. The Organic Remains,
therefore, which we should naturally expect to find preserved in the
strata of the earth, would be those of aquatic animals; or, if the
remains of land animals were to be looked for, it should be of those
chiefly which live near the banks of rivers and estuaries, and which,
after death, might have been carried down by the current and buried in
the silt and mud with which almost all rivers are charged at certain
seasons of the year. We know as a fact that such animals are buried at
the present day in the Deltas of the Ganges and the Mississippi; and
it would be reasonable to suppose that the same should have occurred
in former ages. Now here again the evidence of Fossil Remains exactly
fits in with our theory. For the vast bulk of them are manifestly the
remains of animals that lived in water: and the terrestrial animals,
comparatively few, whose bones are preserved in the Crust of the Earth,
are such as frequent the banks of great rivers or the marshy swamps of

Thus much we may learn even from a cursory glance at Fossil Remains.
But these curious monuments of ancient times have a deeper meaning,
which cannot be unfolded without a more minute and laborious
investigation. Our readers are aware that all the animals at present
existing on the face of the Earth have been scientifically grouped
together, according to certain well-marked characteristics, into
various Kingdoms, Classes, Genera, and Species. Thus, for example, the
horse and the dog are two different Species, belonging to the same
Class of Mammalia; the eagle and the sparrow are two different Species
of the same Class called Birds. Then again the Class of Mammalia and
the Class of Birds both belong to the one common Kingdom of Vertebrata;
because, though different in many other respects, they agree in this,
that all the members of both Classes have a vertebral or spinal column,
to which the other parts of the internal skeleton are attached.

Now when Cuvier began to examine closely the Organic Remains of former
times, to which his attention was called by the bones dug up in the
gypsum quarries of Montmartre, near Paris, about the close of the last
century, he brought with him to the task a very large acquaintance with
the various forms of life that, in the present age, prevail throughout
the world. And he was greatly struck with the marked difference between
those living animals with which he had been long familiar, and those
with which he now became acquainted for the first time. The more
he extended his researches, the more manifest did this difference
appear; until at last it became quite clear that the great bulk of
the animals whose remains are preserved in the Crust of the Earth,
have no representatives now living on its surface. Nevertheless, he
observed that, though the Species no longer exists, it often happens
that we have still other Species of the same Genus; or if the Genus,
too, be extinct, we have other Genera of the same Class. Here, then,
is the first great truth at which Cuvier arrived, and which has been
since confirmed by extensive observations:--that the animals which
formerly dwelt on this Earth of ours, were, for the most part, widely
different from those by which it is now inhabited: and yet there is a
well-defined likeness between them; that both have been created on a
plan so strictly uniform, that the one and the other naturally find
their place in the same system of classification.

As the science of Palæontology progressed, and new facts were day by
day accumulated, another truth, not less important, was gradually but
certainly developed. In the distribution of Fossil Remains through
the various strata of the Earth, there is a certain order observed,
a certain regular law of succession, which cannot have been the mere
result of chance, and which it is the business of science to unravel
and explain. The facts are these. If we follow a particular set of
strata _in a horizontal direction_, we find that the same fossils
continue to prevail over hundreds of square miles, nay, often over a
space as large as Europe, though beyond certain limits this uniformity
of Fossil Remains will gradually be observed to disappear. But when we
penetrate _in a vertical direction_ through the strata, the forms of
animal and vegetable life that we meet with are constantly changing.
After a few hundred yards at the most, we find ourselves in the midst
of a group of fossils, altogether different from those which we have
passed in the beds above: and so on, as we proceed downward, _each
particular set of strata is found to have an assemblage of fossils
peculiar to itself_.[82]

There can be no reasonable doubt as to the truth of these facts. They
have been established and confirmed by the positive testimony of a
whole host of Geologists, whose researches have extended to all parts
of the globe. And we have besides a kind of negative evidence on the
subject which is scarcely less convincing than the positive. Nothing
is more easy than to refute a universal proposition if it is false. If
it is not a fact that each group of strata, as we proceed downward,
exhibits a collection of Fossils peculiar to itself, the assertion may
be at once disproved by pointing out two or three different groups
with the same Fossils. There are thousands of practical Geologists at
work all over the world, eager for fame; and any one of them would
make his name illustrious if he could overturn a theory so generally
received. Now, when a statement of facts can be easily disproved if
untrue; and when, at the same time, there is a large number of men
whose interest it would be to disprove the statement if possible;
and when it is nevertheless _not_ disproved; this circumstance, we
contend, is a convincing argument that the alleged facts _are_ true.
And such precisely is the case before us. We therefore think it would
be unreasonable not to accept the facts.

Let us next examine what is their significance. Each group of strata,
be it remembered, represents to us the animal life that flourished
on the Earth during the period in which that particular group was
in progress of formation. It is, as it were, a cabinet in which are
preserved for our instruction certain relics or memorials of that age
in the world’s history. Of course it is not a perfect collection; but
only a collection of those remains that chanced to escape destruction,
and by some natural embalming process to be saved from dissolution.
When we learn, then, that there is a marked uniformity in the
assemblage of Fossils that are spread over a large horizontal area, in
any group of strata, we conclude that, when that group was in course
of formation, there was a certain uniformity in the animal life that
extended over the corresponding area of the globe; just as, at the
present day, the same species of animals are found to flourish over
a great part of Europe, or America. And if this uniformity of Fossil
Remains does not extend horizontally to an indefinite distance, this is
precisely what we should have expected from the analogy of the existing
creation: for, when we examine the present distribution of animal life
over the earth, we find a marked diversity to exist between countries
that are removed from one another; as, for instance, between Europe and

In the next place, we are told that, as we proceed _downward_ into the
Crust of the Earth, each successive group of strata has an assemblage
of Fossils clearly distinct in character from those of the group above
and of the group below. The conclusion to which this fact points is
obvious enough. If, in the former case, we inferred that the animal
life of any one period, considered in itself, was the same over
extensive areas, in this case we must infer that the animal life of
each successive period was _peculiar to that particular age_; being
altogether distinct in its character from the animal life of the period
that went before and of the period that followed. It would appear,
therefore, as Sir Charles Lyell puts it, “that from the remotest
period there has been ever a coming in of new organic forms, and an
extinction of those which pre-existed on the earth; some species having
endured for a longer, others for a shorter time; while none have ever
reappeared after once dying out.”[83]

Now, from these principles, Geologists have been gradually led to build
up a system of Geological Chronology; in other words, to determine the
order of time in which the numerous groups of strata that make up the
Crust of the Earth have been formed, and thus to fix the age of each
group in reference to the rest. This Chronology is not reckoned by the
common measures of time which are used in history, but rather by the
successive periods during which each group of rocks was in its turn
slowly deposited on the existing surface of the globe. For example,
the Coal-measures that so abound in the North of England are very much
older than the bluish clay of which London is built. But if we ask
what is the difference between the age of the one and of the other,
the answer is given not in days and years and centuries, but in the
number of different Formations that intervened between the two. We are
told that the Coal-measures belong to the Carboniferous Formation;
that this Formation was followed by the Permian, and that again in
succession by the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous; and that,
upon this last was spread out the Eocene, to which the London clay
belongs. Indeed, as regards the precise length of any given period,
Geologists can offer nothing but the wildest conjectures. Some form
their estimates in thousands of years; others in millions. And the
wisest amongst them fairly confess they have no sufficient data to
make an accurate computation. Nevertheless, they are all agreed in
this, that the ages of which the memory is preserved in history, that
is to say, the last six thousand years, are but a small part of one
Geological period. Compared to the voluminous chronicles laid up in the
Crust of the Earth, the records inscribed by human hands constitute but
an insignificant fraction of the world’s history. Our readers will be
glad to learn something of the way in which this startling system of
Geological Chronology is constructed and developed.

At first sight, perhaps, it might be imagined that the order of time
in which the various strata were deposited, can be easily learned from
the relative position in which they lie. Since each stratum, when first
produced, was spread out on the existing surface of the globe, it is
clear that the one which lies uppermost in the series must be the
newest, then that which lies next below, and so on till we reach the
lowest of the pile, which must be the oldest of all. Nothing could be
more satisfactory than this reasoning, if each stratum was spread out
over the whole Earth, and if, after having been once deposited, it was
never afterward removed. We might then regard each stratum as a volume
in the Natural History of the Globe, which, when it was finished, was
laid down upon that which contained the chronicles of the preceding
age; and thus the position of every stratum would be in itself a
sufficient evidence of the age to which it belonged.

But such is not the case. Nowhere does the Crust of the Earth exhibit
a complete series of the Stratified Rocks laid out one above another.
In any given section we can find but a few only of the long series of
groups that are familiar to Geologists. And if we follow them on, in a
horizontal direction, we shall invariably find that some of the strata
will _thin out_ and disappear, while new strata will gradually be
developed between two groups that were before in immediate contact. Let
it be observed, in passing, that this fact fits in most perfectly with
the theory we have been all along defending. The Stratified Rocks were
deposited under water; therefore, the strata of any given period were
not _spread out over the whole Globe_, but at most over those parts
only which, for the time, were submerged. With the next period came a
change in the boundaries of land and water; and the formation of strata
ceased in some localities and began in others: and so on from epoch to
epoch. Thus the areas over which the process has been going on, have
been, in every age, of limited extent, and have been ever shifting
from place to place over the surface of the earth. Moreover, there is
the opposite process of Denudation. Many of the strata deposited in
the depths of the ocean must have been afterward swept away by the
breakers, as they slowly emerged from the waters; or at a later time,
reduced to their original elements, and carried back to the sea, by the
action of rivers, rain, and frost. It should seem, therefore, as well
from the _fact_, which is obvious to any one who will examine it, as
from our _theory_, which harmonizes so completely with the fact, that
the strata which we meet with in any given section of the Earth’s Crust
present to us but a very broken and imperfect series of monuments. They
are, as it were, but odd volumes of a long series, and though they lie
in juxtaposition, they may belong, nevertheless, to Geological epochs
widely removed from each other.

Hence, in order to construct a complete system of Geological
Chronology it is necessary to collect together these odd volumes, as
they may be called, of the Great Geological Calendar, and to assign to
each one its proper place in the series. This difficult and complicated
task is accomplished chiefly by the aid of Fossil Remains. We have
already shown that the Fossil Remains which are found embedded in
each group of strata, represent the organic life of the period during
which that group of strata was in progress of formation. Moreover,
we have seen that each period was marked by the existence of an
animal and vegetable creation peculiar to itself. If, therefore, we
find that the Fossils of two different districts exhibit the same
general character, we may conclude that the beds in which they are
preserved were deposited about the same age, and consequently belong
to the same Geological Period. Whereas, on the other hand, if, within
certain limits, we discover two groups of strata, each of which has
a collection of Fossils totally different from the other, it is a
proof that these two groups were _not_ deposited in the same age, and
must, consequently, be referred to different Epochs of the Geological
Calendar. Let us now see in what manner the practical Geologist
proceeds to apply these general principles.

He takes first some one country, say England, and in that country he
selects some one particular district to begin with. Here he examines
a number of different sections, and makes himself familiar with all
the strata of the neighborhood, and with the order in which they lie.
Let us suppose that he finds three different groups spread out one
above another, and let us call these groups A, B, and C; A being the
lowest, B immediately above A, and C above B. The chronological order
of these strata will be, therefore, A, B, C. He will study next the
Fossil Remains which he finds embedded in each group. For convenience
we may designate the Fossils of A by the letter a, those of B by b,
and those of C by c. Now, according to the principles above explained,
these three collections of Fossils will be specifically distinct from
one another, each collection being characteristic of one particular set
of strata. Our Geologist next goes into a neighboring district, and
there examines a number of sections as before. Let us suppose that he
encounters again the groups A and B. He may, perhaps, have been able
to trace the beds from one district to the other, by observations made
upon his line of route: or it may be that the nature of the country
has rendered such observations impossible; or the observations may
have been so imperfect that from _them_ he could arrive at no certain
conclusion regarding the identity of the strata. But, at all events, if
the new district yield an abundant supply of Fossils, he cannot long
be at a loss. He will recognize the group A by the Fossils a, and the
group B by the Fossils b. An important fact, however, soon attracts his
attention. Group C has entirely disappeared, and is not to be found in
this district; while between A and B there is a new group of rocks that
he has not seen before, with a collection of Fossils different from a,
b, and c. We will call this new group X, and its Fossils x. It is clear
that the formation of X must have intervened between the formation of
A and B; and the chronological order now stands A, X, B, C. In like
manner another district may disclose a fourth group of strata, say Y,
intervening between B and C. The chronological order will then stand A,
X, B, Y, C. And thus the Geologist pursues his explorations until he
has gone through the whole country, and arranged the principal groups
of strata according to the order of time in which they were deposited.

In this way the whole of England has been minutely explored during the
last half century. The task was first undertaken by William Smith,
who is justly called the Father of English Geology. After multiplied
researches, extending over a space of many years, during which he
travelled the whole country on foot, this eminent man published in
1815 his Geological Map of England and Wales with part of Scotland; a
work which is described by Sir Charles Lyell as “a lasting monument of
original talent and extraordinary perseverance.” Hundreds followed in
the same course, exploring every day new districts, and, by the new
facts which they brought to light, supplying what was wanting in the
work of Smith, correcting what was faulty, and confirming what was
true; until at length, in our day, it may be said that the Stratified
Rocks of England are almost as well known and as completely mapped out
as are its counties and its towns, its rivers, lakes, and mountains.

Meanwhile, Geologists were not idle in other parts of the world.
Germany, France, Italy, even many districts of America and
Australia, have been diligently explored according to the same
principles as England. And by a comparison of the observations
made, the Chronological order of strata over a considerable part
of the Earth, but more particularly of Europe, has been now pretty
fairly ascertained. This order we have attempted to set forth in an
intelligible and sensible form by means of the table here annexed.

In the Woodcut are represented the strata hitherto examined by
Geologists, laid out one above another, according to the order of time
in which they are supposed to have been produced. The whole series
is divided into a number of Formations, the names of which are given
in the first column, together with an approximate estimate of their
thickness, in feet. These Formations are distinguished from each other
in the drawing by a difference of shading. Each of them, according
to Geological theory, is believed to have come into existence by the
accumulation of solid matter at the bottom of the sea; and the Period
of time occupied in its production is usually designated by the
same name as the Formation itself. Thus we read of the Carboniferous
Formation and the Carboniferous Period: by the former phrase is meant
certain groups of strata contemporaneously deposited over various parts
of the Earth’s surface; and by the latter, the Period of time during
which these groups of strata were spread out. In like manner, when we
hear of the Carboniferous Fauna and Flora, we are to understand the
animal and vegetable life that flourished during the Carboniferous
Period. And again, when Geologists talk of the Cretaceous sea, and tell
us that it rolled over a great part of what is now called Europe, they
mean to speak of that sea on the bottom of which the Cretaceous rocks
were deposited.



Most of the Formations comprise various groups of strata; and these
groups are made up of different varieties of rocks, which are again
divided into layers or beds of varying thickness. Even in these beds
themselves we can often distinguish an indefinite number of laminæ or
plates, scarcely thicker than a sheet of paper, which correspond to
the periodical depositions of matter by which the rock was originally
formed. These numerous subdivisions may be conveniently illustrated
from the Carboniferous Formation. It is divided into two leading groups
of strata; the Mountain Limestone below, the Coal Measures above. The
upper group is the larger as well as the more important. It attains
a maximum thickness in South Wales of 12,000 feet; and consists of
numerous strata of Sandstone and Shale, with thin seams of Coal
occasionally interposed. In one remarkable instance a hundred distinct
layers of Coal, varying in thickness from six inches to ten feet,
have been counted in one Coal-field, each resting on a bed of Shale,
called in mining phraseology the Underclay. This Shale itself naturally
divides into an indefinite number of thin plates, just like the stratum
of mud accumulated by the annual inundations of the river Nile, and
constituting the present soil of Egypt.

We have not attempted to represent in our Woodcut these various
divisions and subdivisions of Stratified Rocks. But the names of some
important and well-known groups we have had engraved, to impress more
vividly on the mind the place to which they are to be referred in the
Geological Calendar. Thus the reader may see at a glance the respective
ages of the Coal and the Chalk; of the Lias, in which are preserved the
remains of extinct gigantic reptiles, and the Glacial Drift, in which
the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the hippopotamus are found entombed;
of the Mountain Limestone, which is often nothing else than vast beds
of Coral uplifted from beneath the waters of the ocean, and the Oolite,
which includes the Portland quarries, where the petrified stems of
ancient forest trees are found standing erect in the solid rock.

As the series of Stratified Rocks is divided by Geologists into a
certain number or systems or Formations, so these are again grouped
into still larger classes, called Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary;
that is to say, first, second, and third, in the order of formation.
These larger classes correspond to the Great Epochs or Ages of
Geological time, each comprising within itself many distinct Periods.
The Primary rocks are also called Palæozoic--παλαιὁν, ancient, and
ξῶον, an organic being--because they contain the oldest forms of
organic life: in like manner the term Mesozoic--μεσον, middle, and
ξῶον--is applied to the Secondary strata, inasmuch as they contain
the middle or intermediate forms of organic life: and the name
Kainozoic--χαινὁν, new, and ξῶον--is given to the Tertiary, which
contain the newest forms of organic life.

The term Post-Tertiary has recently been adopted to designate those
superficial deposits which are subsequent to the Tertiary Age. They are
divided into two groups; the Recent, which corresponds with the period
of history, and the Post-Pliocene which precedes it. Some writers seem
to think that these deposits, being so very insignificant and so very
modern when compared with the long series of Stratified Rocks, are not
truly Geological. But this, we should say, is a mistaken view of the
question. It seems to us that even the minute layer of mud that is
deposited every day at the mouth of the Ganges or the Mississippi, is
linked on to the long chain of events which have brought the Crust of
the Earth into its present condition; and, therefore, truly belongs
to the science of Geology, and is deserving of its proper place in
Geological classification.

We may here observe that the names of the great Geological Epochs are
descriptive names; that is to say, the obvious meaning of the words
corresponds to the character of the strata they are used to represent.
Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, mean First, Second, and Third, in the
order of formation: Palæozoic, Mesozoic, and Kainozoic, signify
that the strata so called are characterized by Ancient, Middle, and
Modern, forms of organic life. But it is very often quite otherwise
with the names of the several Formations: and this is a point of
no small importance to the student of Geology. These names must be
regarded simply _as names_ employed to designate the strata formed in
each successive period, and not exactly to describe their character.
They generally had their origin in some accidental circumstance, or
were derived from some particular locality; and afterward, being
perpetuated, gradually came to receive a much more extended application
than that which the words themselves would seem to suggest. Thus, for
instance, the Cretaceous Formation is so called from the remarkable
stratum of white chalk (creta) which was deposited during that period
over a great part of Europe; but it would be a mistake to suppose that
the whole Formation is made up of chalk. On the contrary, in different
localities it is composed of very different materials; near Dresden,
for example, it is a gray quartzose sandstone, and in many parts of the
Alps it is hard compact limestone.[84] Again, the Devonian Formation
derives its name from Devonshire, where the rocks of the Devonian
period were first minutely examined; but we must not therefore infer
that this Formation is peculiar to the county of Devon; it is to be
found in many other parts of England, also in Ireland, and on the
continent of Europe. So, too, another Formation has received the name
of Carboniferous, which literally means Coal-bearing (carbo fero)
because of the beds of Coal which are sometimes associated with its
strata; yet this Formation is often found quite destitute of Coal over
a very extensive area.

In looking over our Table of strata the reader must have noticed that
the successive spaces in the Woodcut are not proportioned to the
actual thickness of the successive Formations for which they stand.
The Secondary and Tertiary Rocks taken together are scarcely one-third
as thick, in reality, as the Primary; yet they occupy an equal space
in the engraving: and, more remarkable still, the Cretaceous system
is allowed double the space of the Laurentian, though less than half
as thick. This circumstance calls for a passing word of explanation.
In the early annals of a country there is generally a great scarcity
of authentic records; and, from a simple dearth of facts, the history
of a whole century is compressed, not unfrequently, into a few
pages: whereas, in later times, when documentary evidence begins to
accumulate, the historians will often spread out the events of two or
three years over several chapters. Something of the same kind takes
place in Geology. The Fossil Remains, from which, as from authentic
documents, the Geologist chiefly derives his information regarding the
history of the Earth’s Crust, are scanty in the earlier Formations,
and abundant in the more recent. And thus it happens that the older
Geological Periods, notwithstanding the vast thickness of the rocks by
which they are represented, do not occupy a very prominent position
in the annals of Geology, and are compressed into a comparatively
insignificant space in its Tables. Nevertheless, the immense depth of
the earliest Stratified Rocks must be taken into account in any attempt
to estimate the comparative duration of the several Geological Periods.
We have, therefore, set down, under the name of each Formation, an
approximate estimate of its actual thickness, taken chiefly from the
works of Doctor Haughton and Sir Charles Lyell.

Before bringing this chapter to an end we would observe that the
system of classification we have here endeavored to explain does not
pretend to be final and complete. It is, on the contrary, little
more than a temporary expedient to render intelligible the results
at which Geologists have hitherto arrived; and is liable to manifold
modifications in proportion as their acquaintance with the records they
have undertaken to interpret becomes more extensive and more minute.
All that they now contend for is this: that the successive Formations
represent successive Periods of time, which followed one another in
the order here set forth, and during which the Earth was peopled with
certain species of Plants and Animals, for the most part peculiar to
their respective eras.[85]




    _Summary of the history of stratified rocks--Striking
    characteristics of certain formations--Human remains found
    only in superficial deposits--Gradual transition from the
    organic life of one period to that of the next--Evidence
    in favor of this opinion--Advance from lower to higher
    types of organic life as we ascend from the older to the
    more recent formations--Economic value of geological
    chronology--Illustration--Search for coal--The practical man
    at fault--The geologist comes to his aid, and saves him from
    useless expense._

With this sketch of Geological Chronology before us, we can now more
fully realize to our minds the story we are told about the formation of
the Earth’s Crust. In the earliest age to which Geologists can trace
back the history of the Aqueous Rocks--for they do not profess to trace
it back to the beginning--this Globe of ours was, as it is now, partly
covered with water, and partly dry land. The formation of stratified
rocks went on in that age, as it is still going on, chiefly over those
areas that were under water--not indeed throughout the entire extent of
such areas, but over certain portions of them to which mineral matter
happened to be carried by the action of natural causes. And the Earth
was peopled then as now, though with animals and plants very different
from those by which we are surrounded at the present day. Some of these
happened to escape destruction, and to be embedded in the deposits of
that far distant age, and have thus been preserved even to our time.
And these strata with their Fossils are the same that we now group
together under the title of the Laurentian Formation: which being the
oldest group of stratified rocks we can recognize in the depths of the
Earth’s Crust, occupies the lowest position in our table of Chronology.
Ages rolled on; and the Crust of the Earth was moved from within by
some giant force, the bed of the ocean was lifted up in one place,
islands and continents were submerged in another, and so the outlines
of land and water were changed. With this change the old forms of life
passed away; a new creation came in; and the Laurentian period gave
place to the Cambrian. But the order of nature was still the same as
before. The deposition of stratified rocks still continued, though the
areas of deposition were, in many cases, shifted from one locality to
another. And the organic life that flourished in the Cambrian times
left its memorials behind it buried in the Cambrian rocks. Then that
age, too, came to an end, and gave place in its turn to the Silurian:
and this was, again, followed by the Devonian. Thus one period
succeeded to another in the order set forth in our table; and every
part of the globe was, in the course of ages, more than once submerged,
and covered with the deposits of more than one age, and enriched with
the Organic Remains of more than one creation.

As we advance upward in the series of Formations we soon perceive that
the Fossil Remains, which, in the earlier groups were scanty enough,
become profusely abundant, until even the unpractised eye cannot
fail to mark the peculiar character of each successive period;--the
exuberant vegetation of the Carboniferous, with its luxuriant herbage
and its tangled forests, its huge pines, its tall tree-ferns, and its
stately araucarias: the enormous creeping monsters of the Jurassic,
the ichthyosaurs, the megalosaurs, the iguanodons, which filled its
seas, or crowded its plains, or haunted its rivers; and higher up in
the scale, the colossal quadrupeds of the Miocene and the Pliocene, the
mammoths, the mastodons, the megatheriums, which begin to approximate
more closely to the organic types of our own age. But amidst these
various forms of life, the eye looks in vain for any relic of human
kind. No bone of man, no trace of human intelligence, is to be found
in any bed of rock that belongs to the Primary, Secondary, or Tertiary
Formations. It is only when we have passed all these, and come to the
latest formation of the whole series, nay, it is only in the uppermost
beds of this Formation, that we meet, for the first time, with human
bones, and the works of human art.

Thus it appears pretty plain, even from the testimony of Geology, that
man was the last work of the creation; and that, if the world is old,
the human race is comparatively young. These broken and imperfect
records, which have been so curiously preserved in the Crust of the
Earth, carry us back to an antiquity which may not be measured by
years and centuries, and then set before us, as in a palpable form,
how the tender herbage appeared, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit
according to its kind; and how the Earth was afterward peopled with
great creeping things, and winged fowl, and the cattle, and the beasts
of the field; and then, at length, they disclose to us how, last of
all, man appeared, to whom all these things seem to tend, and who was
to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the fowl of the air, and
every living thing that moveth upon the earth. We do not mean to dwell
just now upon this view of the history of creation so clearly displayed
in the records of Geology. But we shall return to it hereafter when we
come in the sequel to consider how admirably the genuine truths of this
science fit in with the inspired narrative of Moses.

It may here, very naturally, be asked, if the records of Geology
give us any information as to the manner in which each period of
animal and vegetable life was brought to an end? Did the old organic
forms gradually die out, and the new gradually come in to take their
places? or were the one suddenly extinguished and the others as
suddenly produced? This question has been a subject of controversy
among Geologists themselves; and therefore it is somewhat outside our
scope, since we propose to exhibit only that more general outline of
Geological theory which is accepted by all. Nevertheless, as it is a
question that must needs occur to the mind of every reader, it seems to
call for a few words of explanation as we pass along. In the early days
of Geology, it was commonly held that each great period was brought
to an end by a sudden and violent convulsion of Nature. The Crust of
the Earth was burst open in many places all at once; the bottom of the
ocean was upheaved with a tremendous shock; the waters, driven from
their accustomed bed, rushed with furious impetuosity over islands and
continents; and the whole existing creation perished in a universal
deluge. Then succeeded an interval of chaotic confusion, and when at
length the waters subsided, and dry land again appeared, a new age
in the history of the Globe was ushered in, and the Earth was again
peopled by a new creation.

But this old theory has gradually given way as the Stratified Rocks
have been more and more fully examined, and at the present day it
is almost universally abandoned. Geologists have observed that the
same species of Fossil Remains which prevail in the upper beds of one
Formation, are met with also in the lower beds of the next, though in
less numbers and mixed up with new species; and that, as we ascend
higher and higher into the later Formation, the old species gradually
become more and more scarce, while the new gradually become more and
more numerous; until at length the characteristic forms of one age
have disappeared altogether, and those of the succeeding age have
attained their full development.

For this important fact, which was brought to light within the last
half century, we are mainly indebted to the unwearied researches and
great ability of Sir Charles Lyell. Speaking of the Formations of the
Tertiary Epoch, to which, as is well known, he has principally devoted
himself, this distinguished writer thus sums up the result of his long
investigation:--“In passing from the older to the newer members of
the Tertiary system we meet with many chasms, but none which separate
entirely, by a broad line of demarkation, one state of the organic
world from another. There are no signs of an abrupt termination of one
fauna and flora, and the starting into life of new and wholly distinct
forms. Although we are far from being able to demonstrate geologically
an insensible transition from the Eocene to the Miocene, or even from
the latter to the recent fauna, yet the more we enlarge and perfect our
general survey, the more nearly do we approximate to such a continuous
series, and the more gradually are we conducted from times when many of
the genera and nearly all the species were extinct, to those in which
scarcely a single species flourished which we do not know to exist at
present.”[86] Hence he concludes, and his conclusion is now the common
doctrine of Geologists, that the extinction and creation of species has
been “the result of a slow and gradual change in the organic world.”[87]

It was long argued against this view, that we often meet, especially
in the Primary and Secondary Formations, two groups of strata in
immediate contact, in which there is a perfectly sudden transition
from one set of Fossil Remains to another altogether different. Each
group contains a countless variety of species, and yet there is not a
single species common to the two. Does it not appear that in such a
case the organic life of one period was suddenly destroyed, and that
of the next as suddenly introduced? Not so; there is one link wanting
in the argument. It must be shown that these two strata which are
now in _immediate contact_ were originally deposited in _immediate
succession_. But this it is impossible to prove: nay, it must needs be
very often false. We have before observed that the areas of deposition
were limited in every age, and were ever shifting from one locality to
another. Therefore it must have been a frequent occurrence that, after
one bed of rock was formed, the process of deposition ceased altogether
in that locality, and did not begin again for many ages. Thus a long
lapse of time often intervened between the deposition of two strata,
which were laid out one immediately above the other. Furthermore, we
have also seen that whole groups of strata may in any age be swept away
by Denudation; and then the rocks which are next deposited in that
locality, will be in immediate contact with strata indefinitely more
ancient than themselves. From these considerations it is plain that two
groups of strata which are now found in juxtaposition, may have been
deposited in two Geological ages widely remote from each other. And
consequently a sudden transition from the Organic Life of one group to
the Organic Life of the other affords no proof of a sudden transition
from the Organic Life of one Geological Period to the Organic Life of
that which next succeeded. We may observe, however, that the recent
researches, which have contributed so much to fill up the interstices
of the Geological Calendar, have conduced in no small degree to fill up
likewise some of the more remarkable gaps or chasms in the succession
of Organic Life. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to suppose that, as
our knowledge of the Earth’s Crust becomes more and more minute, the
sudden breaks in the continuity of the scale will be still further
diminished and the successive stages of gradual transition will be made
more clearly apparent.

This subject has been very happily illustrated by Sir Charles
Lyell:--“To make still more clear the supposed working of this
machinery [for the deposition of Stratified Rocks and the preservation
of Organic Remains], I shall compare it to a somewhat analogous case
that might be imagined to occur in the history of human affairs. Let
the mortality of the population of a large country represent the
successive extinction of species, and the birth of new individuals, the
introduction of new species. While these fluctuations are gradually
taking place everywhere, suppose commissioners to be appointed to
visit each province of the country in succession, taking an exact
account of the number, names, and individual peculiarities of all the
inhabitants, and leaving in each district a register containing a
record of this information. If, after the completion of one census,
another is immediately made on the same plan, and then another, there
will, at last, be a series of statistical documents in each province.
When these belonging to any one province are arranged in chronological
order, the contents of such as stand next to each other will differ
according to the length of time between the taking of each census. If,
for example, there are sixty provinces, and all the registers are made
in a single year, and renewed annually, the number of births and deaths
will be so small in proportion to the whole of the inhabitants, during
the interval between the compiling of two consecutive documents, that
the individuals described in such documents will be nearly identical;
whereas, if the survey of each of the sixty provinces occupies all the
commissioners for a whole year, so that they are unable to revisit
the same place until the expiration of sixty years, there will then
be an almost entire discordance between the persons enumerated in two
consecutive registers in the same province.

“But I must remind the reader that the case above proposed has no
pretentions to be regarded as an exact parallel to the Geological
phenomena which I desire to illustrate; for the commissioners are
supposed to visit the different provinces in rotation; whereas the
commemorating processes by which organic remains become fossilized,
although they are always shifting from one area to the other, are yet
very irregular in their movements. They may abandon and revisit many
spaces again and again, before they once approach another district; and
besides this source of irregularity, it may often happen that, while
the depositing process is suspended, Denudation may take place, which
may be compared to the occasional destruction by fire or other causes
of some of the statistical documents before mentioned. It is evident
that where such accidents occur, the want of continuity in the series
may become indefinitely great, and that the monuments which follow next
in succession will by no means be equi-distant from each other in point
of time.

“If this train of reasoning be admitted, the occasional distinctness
of the fossil remains, in formations immediately in contact, would be
a necessary consequence of the existing laws of sedimentary deposition
and subterranean movement, accompanied by a constant mortality and
renovation or species.”[88]

There is another and a very striking fact in the succession of ancient
organic life, which claims from us a moment’s notice. As we proceed
upward through the series of Stratified Rocks, from the oldest to the
newest, we find a gradual advance in the types of animal organization
therein preserved, from the humbler and more simple forms of structure
to those of a higher and more perfect character. That form of
organization is regarded among Zoologists as the more perfect in which
there is “a greater number of organs specially devoted to particular
functions.” Now all the forms of animal life with which we are
acquainted, may be reduced to two great divisions, the Vertebrate and
the Invertebrate,--the former having a _vertebral_ or spinal column,
the latter having none: and it is agreed in conformity with the notion
set forth above, that the Vertebrate animals as a class exhibit a more
perfect organization than the Invertebrate. Again, among the Vertebrate
themselves there is a gradation; the Reptiles are ranked higher than
the Fish, the Birds higher than the Reptiles, and the Mammalia higher
again than the Birds.

All this we learn from Zoologists, who have pursued their
investigations without any reference whatever to the science of
Geology. It is, therefore, not a little remarkable that we should
discover this very order and gradation of animal life in the successive
groups of Stratified Rocks. All the Remains hitherto discovered in the
earliest Geological Formations belong to Invertebrate animals, while
the Vertebrate, which appear for the first time in the latter part
of the Silurian Period, are, from that age on, more and more fully
developed down to the present day, and now constitute, if not the most
numerous, at least the most important part of the animal creation.
Moreover, it is to be observed that the Vertebrate animals do not all
make their appearance at once, but come in successively according to
the same scale of organic perfection,--the Fish appearing first, then
the Reptiles, then the Birds, and lastly the Mammalia. Even among
the Mammalia a well-defined order of progressive succession has been
observed, which finally culminates in the appearance of Man, the last
created and the most perfect of animals.



This remarkable succession of animal life in the history of the
Earth’s Crust will be more readily understood by means of the annexed
Table. The remains of Invertebrate animals have been traced as far
back as the Lower Laurentian Rocks. The Vertebrate first become
manifest in the Ludlow beds of the Upper Silurian; where they are
represented by the bones of Fish, the lowest class belonging to the
Province of Vertebrates. Next in order come the Reptiles: the oldest
known Reptile having been found in the Coal Measures of Saarbrück
between Strasburg and Treves. The skeletons of Birds are rare in the
Stratified Rocks. It is supposed that their powers of flight have in
all ages secured them, to great a extent, from being carried away by
floods, like other land animals, and buried in the sedimentary deposits
of rivers and estuaries. Nevertheless their presence in the ancient
world is frequently attested by their footsteps, impressed originally
on the sandy beach, and still preserved now that the soft sand has
been converted into solid rock. Such traces have been discovered in
great abundance on the New Red Sandstone of the Connecticut River in
America; and afford the earliest evidence we possess in the records
of Geology regarding the existence of the feathered tribe. This group
of strata belongs to the lower Trias. In the higher beds of the same
Formation we meet with the first relic of ancient Mammals. It was found
near Stuttgardt, in 1847, and belongs to the more imperfect form of
Mammalian life, the Non-Placental. Similar remains have been since
discovered in the Upper Trias of Somersetshire. The Placental, or more
perfect form of animal life in the same class, first appears in the
Eocene Formation: and the bones of Man, the highest of the Placental,
are found for the first time in the upper deposits of the Post-Tertiary

Let it be remembered that we are here but stating the facts which have
been hitherto brought to light by the researches of Geologists. It
may be, it is indeed most probable, that new discoveries will lead to
numerous modifications in our Table. There is no reason to suppose that
Geologists have yet exhumed the earliest remains of Vertebrates or
Invertebrates preserved in the Crust of the Earth: that Fish may not
hereafter be traced back beyond the Silurian, or Reptiles beyond the
Carboniferous Period: that Birds may not be found among the Primary
Rocks, and Placentals among the Secondary. But in a science which
depends mainly upon observation, it is better to register the facts
we have than to speculate idly about those we have not. And, having
registered them, we cannot fail to be struck with the succession of
animal life on the Earth, to which they seem to point. It is certainly
deserving of notice that, as far as the Organic Remains hitherto
discovered may be taken as a guide, Invertebrates and Vertebrates,
Fish, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals, Non-Placentals and Placentals,
follow one another in the ascending series of Geological Formations
exactly in the same order as they follow one another in the ascending
scale of Zoological Classification.

       *       *       *       *       *

And so Geologists go on ever searching out new phenomena, and grouping
them together into classes, until from particular facts they lead us
to general truths. Then starting with these general truths as the
groundwork of their science, they proceed to sketch out the Natural
History of our Globe from the remotest ages of the past down to
the present time. They first study the stratified deposits of each
succeeding age, and analyze the Fossil Remains embedded therein;
afterward they make their inferences, and they compile their history.
They describe the forms, the character, the habits, of the plants
and animals that flourished of old in this world of ours; they tell
us where the deep sea rolled its waves in each succeeding age, and
where the dry land appeared; they point out the Deltas of its ancient
rivers, they measure the breadth of its Estuaries, they trace the
course of its Glaciers, they mark the outlines of its Mountain chains.
But with these and such like speculations we are not here concerned.
Many of them are open to controversy, and not a few are at this moment
warmly disputed among Geologists themselves: besides, whether true or
false, they do not in any way affect the relations between Geology and
Revealed Religion. We shall be quite content, and it is all that our
present scope demands, if we have made intelligible the general theory
of Geological Chronology, and the kind of evidence on which it rests.

Before taking leave of this subject, however, we will venture to offer
what seems to us an interesting illustration of the principles we
have been explaining in the last two chapters;--one that will help
to confirm the conclusions for which we have been contending, and
that will also bring home to many minds the practical advantage to be
derived from a thorough knowledge and just application of Geological
science. Perhaps, too, it may help to revive the flagging attention
of our readers; for the subject of our illustration is _Coal, and the
way to find it_. In this age of manufactories and steam-engines,--when
the atmosphere of great towns is heavy with smoke, and the quiet
solitude of the country is so rudely disturbed by the shrieking of the
railway-whistle and the snorting of the sooty locomotive,--this black,
dirty mineral has acquired a value and importance, which may succeed
in rousing even the practical money-making man to pay some heed to the
lessons of science.

Coal might have been produced in any Geological Period; and in point of
fact, beds of coal have been discovered in many different Formations.
But in England, and in Western Europe generally, it has been found by
long experience that the Coal-beds of the Carboniferous Formation are
more abundant, and of better quality, than those of any other. Indeed
the beds of Coal that occur in other Formations are so thin, and of
such inferior quality, that they cannot be worked with profit. It is
therefore of the highest importance in the search for Coal, before
going to the enormous expense of sinking deep shafts, to discover
whether or no the rocks in which the search is to be made belong to
the Carboniferous Period. In this matter the more _practical man_ is
often seriously at fault. Coal-bearing strata generally consist pretty
largely of dark-colored clay, black shales, and similar deposits. This
is a fact which, as it strikes the eye, is perfectly familiar to all
who are engaged in the working of Coal mines. Hence it happens, not
unfrequently, that the practical man, when he meets with strata of this
kind, is apt at once to infer that Coal is near at hand. The Geologist,
on the contrary, knows well that such strata are not peculiar to the
Carboniferous rocks, but are often found in other Formations in which
there is no Coal at all, or at least no Coal that will repay the
expense of working; and therefore he will pronounce it most rash to
undertake costly works on the strength of these appearances. He has
learned, however, that there are certain species of animals and plants
which are found in the Carboniferous rocks and in them alone; he will
search for these in the strata which it is proposed to explore, and
by their presence or their absence he will know whether the strata in
question belong to the Carboniferous Formation or not.

Again, it will often happen that, in the midst of an extensive region
well known to abound in Coal, the rocks which appear at the surface in
one particular locality, are not wholly devoid of Coal, but exhibit no
resemblance either in mineral character or in Fossil Remains to the
Coal-bearing strata. A question then arises of the highest practical
importance. May it be that the Coal-bearing strata are spread out
beneath this uppermost bed of rocks? and is it worth the expense to
sink a shaft through the one in the hope of reaching the other? The
practical miner has no very clear or certain principles to help him
in the solution of this problem; and thus it has often happened that
thousands upon thousands of pounds have been expended in sinking shafts
to look for Coal, where, as it afterward proved, there was not the
slightest chance of finding it. Now, though Geology cannot tell if we
shall succeed in finding Coal beneath these rocks, it _can_ tell if
there is a _good chance_ of succeeding. It can tell whether there is
a reasonable hope, by penetrating into the Crust of the Earth at this
particular spot, of reaching the Carboniferous Formation; and if we can
reach the Carboniferous Formation in the midst of a Coal district, it
is very likely we shall meet with beds of Coal.

His first object will be to ascertain what is the Formation to which
the superficial rocks belong. If it be a Formation earlier in date than
the Carboniferous,--the Silurian, for instance, or the Devonian,--he
knows that it would be simply waste of money to look for Coal beneath
them; because the Carboniferous rocks cannot possibly be found
underneath the rocks of an earlier age. And so the Geologist can tell
beforehand what the mere practical man would find out only when he had
spent his money. If, on the other hand, the rocks which appear at the
surface belong to a period later than the Carboniferous, the Geologist
will not always conclude that it is expedient to sink a shaft in
search of Coal. For though the Carboniferous rocks may, in this case,
be underneath, they may be so far down in the Crust of the Earth that
we should have no chance of ever reaching them. Suppose, for example,
that the strata which appear at the surface belong to the Cretaceous
Formation. He knows from his Chronological table that the Carboniferous
age is separated from the Cretaceous by three intermediate
Periods,--the Permian, the Triassic, the Jurassic. Therefore, when he
finds the Cretaceous rocks at the surface in any locality, it is quite
possible, though of course not certain, that before the Carboniferous
Formation could be reached it would be necessary to bore through
thousands of feet of Jurassic, Triassic, and Permian rocks. And even
then there would be no certainty of meeting with the Coal-bearing
strata. Perhaps they were never deposited over this area of the earth’s
surface; or, if deposited, perhaps they were subsequently swept away
by Denudation. Hence our Geologist would reasonably conclude that, the
probable expense of the search being so enormous, and the chance of
success so remote, it would be much wiser not to make the attempt.





    _Theory of stratified rocks supposes disturbances of the
    earth’s crust--These disturbances ascribed by geologists
    to the action of subterranean heat--The existence of
    subterranean heat, and its power to move the crust of the
    earth, proved by direct evidence--Supposed igneous origin of
    our globe--Remarkable increase of temperature as we descend
    into the earth’s crust--Hot springs--Artesian wells--Steam
    issuing from crevices in the earth--The geysers of Iceland--A
    glimpse at the subterranean fires--Mount Vesuvius in 1779--Vast
    extent of volcanic action--Existence of subterranean heat an
    established fact._

In developing the modern theory of Geology, we have all along assumed
that the Crust of the Earth has been subject to frequent disturbances
from the earliest ages of the world. Again and again, in the course
of our argument, we have talked of the bed of the sea being lifted
up, and converted into dry land; and, on the other hand, of the dry
land being submerged beneath the waters of the sea. We have not even
hesitated to suppose that these two opposite movements of upheaval and
submersion often took place by turns over the same area; nay, that
there is scarcely a region on the surface of the Globe which has not
been several times submerged, and several times again upheaved.

Yet all this has not been taken for granted without proof. Our readers
have seen what a long array of sober reasoning may be drawn out to
show that the Stratified Rocks have been, for the most part, deposited
_under water_:--first, from the nature and arrangement of the materials
which compose them; secondly, from the character of the Organic Remains
they contain. And since they are now _above water_, it is plain that
either they have been lifted or the ocean has subsided. Furthermore, if
we find, as we often do, two strata in immediate succession, the one
underneath, exhibiting the trees of an ancient forest still standing
erect with their roots attached, the other above, abounding in the
remains of aquatic animals; we must conclude that when the ancient
forest flourished this portion of the Earth’s Crust was above the
level of the sea; that afterward it was submerged, and a new deposit,
in which the marine remains were embedded, was spread out above the
earlier vegetation; and that, last of all it again emerged from the
waters, and became once more dry land. Finally, when a vertical section
of the Earth’s Crust exhibits a continued series of such strata
alternating with each other, it affords a proof that this particular
area must have been several times under water, and several times again
dry land, in the long course of ages.

These conclusions are now all but universally received among
Geologists. The Crust of the Earth, we are assured, is not that
unyielding and immovable mass which men commonly take it to be. On the
contrary, it has been from the beginning ever restless and in motion,
rising here and subsiding there, sometimes with a convulsive shock
capable of upturning, twisting, distorting hard and stubborn rocks as
if they were but flimsy layers of pliant clay; sometimes with a gentle,
undulating movement, which, while it uplifts islands and continents,
leaves the general aspect of the surface unchanged, the arrangement of
the strata undisturbed, and even the most tender Fossils unharmed.
Disturbances of this kind have been going on in various parts of the
world even within the period of history; and they may be distinctly
traced to the action of subterranean Heat. In support of a theory so
startling and unexpected, Geologists appeal to the direct evidence of
facts: and we now propose to bring some of these facts under the notice
of our readers.

At the outset, however, it is important to set forth clearly the
doctrine we hope to illustrate and confirm. With the origin of the
internal heat that prevails within the Crust of the Earth we have no
concern. This is still an unsettled point among Geologists themselves.
Some conjecture that our Globe, when first launched into space, was
in a state of igneous fusion; that is to say, that all the solid
matter of which it is composed was held in a molten condition by the
action of intense heat; that, in course of time, as this heat passed
off by radiation, the surface gradually cooled and grew hard; that
an external shell of solid rock was thus formed, which has been ever
growing thicker in proportion as the Earth has been growing cooler; and
that the actual condition of our planet is the result of this process
continued down to the present day,--a fiery mass of seething mineral
within, and a comparatively thin crust of consolidated rock without.
Others suppose that the internal heat of the Globe is developed by the
agency of chemical changes constantly going on in the depths of the
Earth; and others, again, look for a cause to the action of electricity
and magnetism. But these and such like speculations are still under
discussion, and not one of them can be regarded as anything more, at
best, than a satisfactory hypothesis. Anyhow, it is not about the
causes of internal heat that we are just now interested, but about
the fact of its existence, and the nature of its effects. Is it true
that an intense heat prevails very generally beneath the superficial
covering of the Globe? and is that heat capable of producing those
stupendous changes which are ascribed to it in our theory of Geology?
These are the questions to which we mean to devote our chief attention.

It is a very significant fact, that _the deeper we penetrate into the
Crust of the Earth, the hotter it is_. At first, no doubt, for a short
distance, the reverse is the case. When we begin to descend we find it
cooler below than above, because the further we depart from the surface
the more we are removed from the influence of the Sun. But at a certain
point--in our climate at about fifty feet below the surface--the
influence of the Sun’s heat ceases to be sensibly felt. When this limit
is passed, the temperature begins to rise, and thenceforth the deeper
we go the hotter the earth becomes.

This broad and general fact has been tested by experiments in every
part of the world, and has been found true in all countries, in
all climates, in all latitudes, whether in coal-pits, or mines, or
deep subterranean caves. “In one and the same mine,” says Sir John
Herschel,[89] “each particular depth has its own particular degree of
heat, which never varies: but the lower always the hotter; and that
not by a trifling, but what may well be called an astonishingly rapid
rate of increase,--about a degree of the thermometer additional warmth
for every ninety feet of additional depth,[90] which is about 58° per
mile!--so that, if we had a shaft sunk a mile deep, we should find in
the rock a heat of 105°, which is much hotter than the hottest summer
day ever experienced in England.” Now if the temperature continue
to increase at this rate toward the centre of the Earth, it is quite
certain that, at no very great distance from the surface, the heat
would be sufficiently intense to reduce the hardest granite and the
most refractory metals to a state of igneous fusion.

Again, every one is familiar with the existence of hot springs,
which come up from unknown depths in the Earth’s Crust, and which,
appearing as they do in almost all parts of the world, testify in
unmistakable language to the existence of internal heat. At Bath,
for instance, in England, the water comes up from the bowels of the
Earth, at a temperature of 117° Fahrenheit; and in the United States,
on the Arkansas River, there is a spring at 180°--not much below the
boiling point. This remarkable phenomenon, however, may be more closely
investigated in the case of Artesian Wells, so called from the province
of Artois, in France, where they first came into use. These wells are
formed artificially, by boring down through the superficial strata of
the Earth, sometimes to enormous depths, until water is reached. It
has been found in every case that the water coming up from these great
depths is always hot; and, furthermore, that the deeper the boring the
hotter the water. A well of this kind was sunk in 1834 at Grenelle, in
the suburbs of Paris, to a depth of more than 1800 English feet, and
the water, which rushed up with surprising force, had a temperature
of 82° Fahrenheit; whereas the mean temperature of the air in the
cellars of the Paris Observatory is only 53°. The water has ever since
continued to flow, and the temperature has never varied. At Salzwerth,
in Germany, where the boring is still deeper, being 2,144 feet, the
water which rises to the surface is 91° of our scale.

Then we have, in many countries, jets of steam which issue at a high
temperature from crevices in the Earth, and which tell of the existence
of heated water below, as plainly as the steam that escapes from the
funnel of a locomotive or from the spout of a tea-kettle. Phenomena of
this kind are very common in Italy, where they are sometimes exhibited
at intervals along a line of country twenty miles in length. But in
Iceland it is that they are displayed in the highest degree of splendor
and power. On the southwest side of that island, within a circuit of
two miles, there are nearly a hundred hot springs called Geysers, from
some of which, at intervals, immense volumes of steam and boiling water
are violently projected into the air. The Great Geyser is a natural
tube, ten feet wide, descending into the Earth to a depth of seventy
feet, and opening out above into a broad basin, from fifty to sixty
feet in diameter. This basin, as well as the tube which connects it
with the interior of the Earth, is lined with a beautifully smooth
and hard plaster of siliceous cement, and is generally filled to the
brim with water of a clear azure color, and a temperature little
below boiling point. The ordinary condition of the spring is one of
comparative repose, the water rising slowly in the tube and trickling
over the edge of the stony basin. But every few hours an eruption takes
place. Subterranean explosions are first heard, like the firing of
distant cannon; then a violent ebullition follows, clouds of steam are
given out, and jets of boiling water are cast up into the air. After a
little the disturbance ceases, and all is quiet again. Once a day, or
thereabouts, these phenomena are exhibited on a scale of extraordinary
grandeur: the explosions which announce beforehand the approaching
display are more numerous and violent than usual; then such volumes of
steam rush forth as to obscure the atmosphere for half a mile around;
and, finally, a vast column of water is projected to a height of from
one to two hundred feet, and continues for a quarter of an hour to play
like an artificial fountain. Geysers scarcely less grand and striking
are to be seen in New Zealand, from which the water is thrown up at a
temperature 214° Fahrenheit, or two degrees above boiling point.

Such are the evident symptoms of subterranean heat,--hot springs, jets
of steam, fountains of boiling water,--which are manifested unceasingly
at the surface of the Earth in every quarter of the Globe. But it is
sometimes given us to behold, as it were, the subterranean fire itself,
and to contemplate its power under a more striking and awful form. From
time to time, in the fury of its rage, the fiery element bursts asunder
the prison-house in which it is confined, and rushes forth into the
light of day; then flames are seen to issue from the surface of the
Earth, yawning chasms begin to appear on every side, the roaring of
the furnaces is heard in the depths below, clouds of red-hot cinders
are ejected high into the air, and streams of incandescent liquid rock
are poured forth from every crevice, which, rolling far away through
smiling fields and peaceful villages, carry destruction and desolation
in their track. These are the ordinary phenomena of an active volcano
during the period of eruption; and even while we write, most of them
may be witnessed actually taking place for the hundredth time, on the
historic ground of Mount Vesuvius. Our typical example, however, we
shall take from the eruption of that mountain in the year 1779. It
was not, indeed, especially remarkable for its violence or for the
catastrophes by which it was attended; but it had the good fortune
to be accurately recorded by an eye-witness, Sir William Hamilton,
who, at that time, represented the English Government at the Court of
Naples; and we are thus more minutely acquainted with all its various
circumstances than with those of any other eruption of equal importance.

For two years before, the mountain had been in a state of excitement
and disturbance. From time to time rumbling noises were heard
underground, dense masses of smoke were emitted from the crater, liquid
lava at a white heat bubbled up from crevices on the slopes of the
mountain, and through these crevices a glimpse could be had here and
there of the rocky caverns within, all “red-hot like a heated oven.”
But in the month of August, 1779, the eruption reached its climax.
About nine o’clock in the evening of Sunday the eighth, according to
the graphic description of Sir William Hamilton, “there was a loud
report, which shook the houses at Portici and its neighborhood to
such a degree as to alarm the inhabitants and drive them out into
the streets. Many windows were broken, and, as I have since seen,
walls cracked, from the concussion of the air from that explosion.
In one instant, a fountain of liquid transparent fire began to rise,
and, gradually increasing, arrived at so amazing a height, as to
strike every one who beheld it with the most awful astonishment. I
shall scarcely be credited when I assure you that, to the best of my
judgment, the height of this stupendous column of fire could not be
less than three times that of Vesuvius itself, which, you know, rises
perpendicularly near 3,700 feet above the level of the sea. Puffs of
smoke, as black as can possibly be imagined, succeeded one another
hastily, and accompanied the red-hot, transparent, and liquid lava,
interrupting its splendid brightness here and there by patches of
the darkest hue. Within these puffs of smoke, at the very moment of
their emission from the crater, I could perceive a bright but pale
electrical light playing about in zigzag lines. The liquid lava, mixed
with scoriae and stones, after having mounted, I verily believe, at
least 10,000 feet, falling perpendicularly on Vesuvius, covered its
whole cone, and part of that of Somma, and the valley between them. The
falling matter being nearly as vivid and inflamed as that which was
continually issuing fresh from the crater, formed with it a complete
body of fire, which could not be less than two miles and a half in
breadth, and of the extraordinary height above mentioned, casting a
heat to the distance of at least six miles around it. The brushwood of
the mountain of Somma was soon in a flame, which, being of a different
tint from the deep red of the matter thrown out from the Volcano,
and from the silvery blue of the electrical fire, still added to the
contrast of this most extraordinary scene. After the column of fire
continued in full force for nearly half an hour the eruption ceased at
once, and Vesuvius remained sullen and silent.”[91]

The existence, then, of intense heat within the Crust of the Earth
may be regarded as an established fact where-ever an active Volcano
appears at the surface. Now let us consider for a moment, the very
extensive scale on which these fiery engines of Nature are distributed
over the face of the Globe. First, on the great continent of America.
The whole chain of the Andes--that stupendous ridge of mountains which
stretches along the western coast of South America, from Tierra del
Fuego on the south to the isthmus of Panama on the north--is studded
over with Volcanos, most of which have been seen in active eruption
within the last 300 years. Passing the narrow isthmus of Panama, this
line of Volcanos may still be traced through Guatemala to Mexico, and
thence northward even as far as the mouth of the Columbia River. Here
is a vast volcanic region extending fully 6,000 miles in length, and
spreading out its fiery arms, we know not how far, to the right and to
the left. At Quito, just on the Equator, a branch shoots off toward the
northeast, and, passing through New Granada and Venezuela, stretches
away across the West India Islands, taking in St. Vincent, Dominica,
Guadaloupe, and many others; while, in the opposite direction, it is
certain that the volcanic action extends westward, far away beneath the
waters of the Pacific, though we have no definite means of ascertaining
where its influence ceases to be felt.

Another vast train of active Volcanos is that which skirts the eastern
and southern coasts of Asia. Commencing on the shores of Northwestern
America, it passes through the Aleutian Islands to Kamtschatka; then,
in a sort of undulating curve, it winds its course by the Kurile
Islands, the Japanese group, the Philippines, and the northeastern
extremity of the Celebes, to the Moluccas. At this point it divides
into two branches; one going in a southeasterly direction to New
Guinea, the Solomon Islands, the Friendly Islands, and New Zealand; the
other pursuing a northwesterly course through Java and Sumatra into the
Bay of Bengal.

There is a third great line of volcanic fires which has been pretty
well traced out by modern travellers, extending through China and
Tartary to the Caucasus; thence over the countries bordering the Black
Sea to the Grecian Archipelago; then on to Naples, Sicily, the Lipari
Islands, the southern part of Spain and Portugal, and the Azores.
Besides these there are numerous groups of Volcanos not apparently
linked on to any regular volcanic chain, nor reduced as yet by
scientific men to any general system; Mount Hecla, for instance, in
Iceland, the Mountains of the Moon in Central Africa, Owhyhee in the
Sandwich Islands, and many others rising up irregularly from the broad
waters of the Pacific.

From this brief outline some idea may be formed of the magnificent
scale on which volcanic agency is developed within the Crust of the
Earth. It must be remembered, however, that any estimate based upon
the enumeration we have given, would be, in all probability, far
below the truth; for we have mentioned those Volcanos only which
have attracted the notice of scientific men, or which have chanced
to fall under the observation of travellers. Many others, doubtless,
must exist in regions not yet explored, and in the profound depths
of the seas and oceans, which cover nearly two-thirds of the area
of our planet. Moreover, we have said nothing at all of _extinct_
Volcanos--such as those of Auvergne in France, and of the Rocky
Mountains in America--which have not been in active operation within
historical times; but in which, nevertheless, the hardened streams of
lava, the volcanic ashes, and the cone-shaped mountains terminating in
hollow craters, tell the story of eruptions in bygone ages, not less
clearly than the blackened walls and charred timbers of some stately
building bear witness to the passing wayfarer of a long extinguished

We contend, therefore, that the doctrine of intense subterranean heat
is not a wild conjecture, but is based on a solid groundwork of facts.
First, there is presumptive evidence. In every deep mine, in every deep
sinking of whatever kind, the heat of the earth increases rapidly as we
descend. Hot water comes from great depths, and never cold. Sometimes
it is boiling: sometimes it has been converted into steam. All this is
found to be the case universally, whenever an opportunity has occurred
for making the trial; and it seems to afford a strong presumption that
if one could go still deeper, the heat would be found yet more intense,
and would at length be capable of reducing to a liquid state the solid
materials of which the earth is composed. Next, there is the direct
testimony of our senses. A channel is opened from the depths below,
flames are seen, red-hot cinders are cast up, and molten rock is poured
out over the surface of the Earth in a liquid stream of fire. This
evidence, however, though direct and conclusive as far as it goes, is
not universal. It proves that an intense white heat prevails within the
Crust of the Earth, not everywhere, but at least in those numerous and
extensive regions where active Volcanos exist. So stands the case, as
it seems to us, for the doctrine of subterranean heat as far as regards
the fact of its existence.




    _Effects of subterranean heat in the present age of the
    world--Vast accumulations of solid matter from the eruptions
    of volcanos--Buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum--Curious
    relics of Roman life--Monte Nuovo--Eruption of Jorullo in the
    province of Mexico--Sumbawa in the Indian Archipelago--Volcanos
    of Iceland--Mountain mass of Etna the product of volcanic
    eruptions--Volcanic islands--In the Atlantic--In the
    Mediterranean--Santorin in the Grecian Archipelago._

Having now sufficiently demonstrated the existence of intense
subterranean heat, diffused, if not universally, at least very
generally, beneath the superficial shell of the Earth, we shall next
proceed to inquire if it is capable of effecting those physical
changes which are ascribed to it in Geology;--of producing land where
none before existed, of upheaving the solid Crust of the Earth, of
driving the ocean from its bed, of dislocating and contorting solid
masses of rock. The argument is still an appeal to facts. Such effects
as these have been produced by the agency of internal heat, under
actual observation, in the present age of the world; and it is not
unreasonable to attribute to the same cause similar phenomena in ages
gone by.

We will not run the risk of dissipating the force of this reasoning
by attempting to expand it. It will be enough for us to state the
facts: we shall leave it to our readers to estimate for themselves the
value of the argument. There are three forms, more or less distinct,
though closely associated, under which the subterranean fires have
exerted their power in modern times to disturb and modify the Physical
Geography of the Globe;--(1) the Volcano, (2) the Earthquake, (3) the
gentle Undulation of the Earth’s Crust. Of these we shall speak in

In the case of Volcanos, as we have already sufficiently conveyed, the
hidden furnaces of the Earth find a vent for their surplus energies;
and when this vent is once established, that is to say, when the active
Volcano has begun to exist, it seems probable that there is little
further upheaval, properly so called, of the surface. Nevertheless,
Volcanos contribute largely to the formation of land by the vast
accumulation of ashes, mud, and lava, which they vomit forth. The
destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii is a case in point. For eight
days successively, in the year 79, the ashes and pumice stone cast
up from the crater of Vesuvius, fell down in one unceasing shower
upon these devoted cities; while at the same time floods of water,
carrying along the fine dust and light cinders, swept down the sides
of the mountain in resistless torrents of mud, entering the houses,
penetrating into every nook and crevice, and filling even the very wine
jars in the underground cellars.

At the present moment the layers of volcanic matter beneath which
Pompeii has been slumbering for centuries, are from twelve to fourteen
feet over the tops of the houses. Loftier still is the pile that
overlies the buried Herculaneum. This city, situated nearer to the base
of the Volcano, has been exposed to the effects of many successive
eruptions; and accordingly, spread out over the mass of ashes and
pumice by which it was first overwhelmed, in the time of Pliny, we now
find alternate layers of lava and volcanic mud, together with fresh
accumulations of ashes, to a height, in many places, of 112 feet, and
nowhere less than 70. Nor was this ejected matter confined to these two
populous towns. It was scattered far and wide over the country around,
and has contributed in no small degree to that extraordinary richness
and fertility for which the soil of Naples is so justly famed.

As regards the production of land where none before existed, here is
one fact of singular significance. At the time of the eruption, in 79,
Pompeii was a seaport town to which merchantmen were wont to resort,
and a flight of steps, which still remains, led down to the water’s
edge: it is now more than a mile distant from the coast, and the tract
of land which intervenes is composed entirely of volcanic tuff and

Gladly would we linger over the reminiscences of these luxurious and
ill-fated cities. By the removal of the ashes, Pompeii is now laid
open to view for at least one-third of its extent; and a strange
sight it is, this ancient Roman city thus risen as it were from the
grave,--risen, but yet lifeless,--with its silent streets, and its
tenantless houses, and its empty Forum. Wherever we turn we have before
us a curious and interesting picture, ghastly though it is, of the
social, political, and domestic life of those ancient times, of the
glory and the shame that hung around the last days of Pagan Rome;--in
the theatres and the temples, in the shops and the private houses, in
the graceful frescoes, in the elaborate mosaics, and, not least, in
the idle scribblings on the walls, which, with a sort of whimsical
reverence, have been spared by the destroying hand of Time. Then again,
what a host of singular relics are there to be wondered at:--articles
of domestic use and luxury, kitchen utensils and surgical instruments;
female skeletons with the ornaments and vanities of the world, rings
and bracelets and necklaces, still clinging to their charred remains;
and strangest perhaps of all, eighty-four loaves of bread, which were
put into the oven to bake 1800 years ago, and were taken out only
yesterday, with the baker’s brand upon them, and the stamp of the
baker’s elbow still freshly preserved in the centre of each. No subject
could be more tempting to a writer, none more attractive to a reader.
But our present purpose is to show the effects of Volcanos in elevating
the level of the land; and so we must turn our back on the buried
cities, and crossing the Bay of Naples, seek for a new illustration in
the formation of Monte Nuovo, a lofty hill overlooking the ancient town
of Pozzuoli.

About one o’clock at night, on Sunday, the twenty-ninth of September,
1538, flames were seen to issue from the ground close to the waters of
the beautiful bay of Baiae. After a little, a sound like thunder was
heard, the earth was rent asunder, and through the rent large stones,
red-hot cinders, volcanic mud and volumes of water, were furiously
vomited forth, which covered the whole country around, reaching even
as far as Naples, and disfiguring its palaces and public buildings.
The next morning it was found that a new mountain had been formed by
the accumulation of ejected matter around the central opening. This
mountain remains to the present day, and is called the Monte Nuovo.
In form it is a regular volcanic cone, four hundred and forty feet
high, and a mile and a half in circumference at its base, with an open
crater in the centre, which descends nearly to the level of the sea. An
eye-witness who has left us a minute account of this eruption, relates
that on the third day he went up with many people to the top of the new
hill, and looking down into the crater, saw the stones that had fallen
to the bottom, “boiling up just as a caldron of water boils on the
fire.” The same writer informs us--and it is very much to our present
purpose to note the fact--that immediately before the eruption began,
the relative position of land and sea was materially changed, the coast
was sensibly upraised, the waters retired about two hundred paces, and
multitudes of fish were raised high and dry upon the sand, a prey to
the inhabitants of Pozzuoli.[92]

The Monte Nuovo is but a type of its class. If we travel westward 8,000
miles from Naples to the more stupendous Volcanos of the New World,
we may witness the same phenomena on a still grander scale. In the
province of Mexico, there is an elevated and extensive plain called
Malpais, where for many generations the cotton plant, the indigo, and
the sugar-cane, flourished luxuriantly in a soil richly endowed with
natural gifts, and carefully cultivated by its industrious inhabitants.
Everything was going on as usual in this smiling and prosperous region,
and no one dreamed of danger, when suddenly, in the month of June,
1759, subterranean sounds were heard, attended with slight convulsions
of the earth. These symptoms of internal commotion continued until the
month of September, when they gradually died away, and tranquillity
seemed to be restored. But it was only the delusive lull that precedes
the fury of the storm. On the night of the twenty-eighth of September
the rumbling sounds were heard again more violent than before. The
inhabitants fled in consternation to a neighboring mountain, from the
summit of which they looked back with wonder and dismay upon the utter
annihilation of their homesteads and their farms. Flames broke out
over an area half a square league in extent, the earth was burst open
in many places, fragments of burning rock were thrown to prodigious
heights in the air, torrents of boiling mud flowed over the plain, and
thousands of little conical hills, called by the natives Hornitos or
Ovens, rose up from the surface of the land. Finally a vast chasm was
opened, and such quantities of ashes and fragmentary lava were ejected
as to raise up six great mountain masses, which continued to increase
during the five months that the eruption lasted. The least of these is
300 feet high, and the central one, now called Jorullo, which is still
burning, is 1600 feet above the level of the plain. When Baron Humboldt
visited this region just forty years after the eruption had ceased, the
ground was still intensely hot, and “the Hornitos were pouring forth
columns of steam twenty or thirty feet high, with a rumbling noise like
that of a steam boiler.”[93] Since that time, however, the face of the
country has become once more smiling and prosperous; the slopes of the
newly-formed hills are now clothed with vegetation, and the sugar-cane
and the indigo again flourish luxuriantly in the fertile plains below.

On the opposite side of the Globe, 10,000 miles from Mexico, we have
had, almost in our own time, an exhibition of volcanic phenomena not
less wonderful than those we have been describing. The island of
Sumbawa lies about two hundred miles to the east of Java in the Indian
Archipelago; and it belongs to that remarkable chain of Volcanos which
we have already described as stretching, with little interruption,
along the coast of Asia from Russian America to the Bay of Bengal. In
the year 1815, this island was the scene of a calamitous eruption, the
effects of which were felt over the whole of the Molucca Islands and
Java, as well as over a considerable portion of Celebes, Sumatra, and
Borneo. Indeed, so extraordinary are the incidents of this eruption,
that we might well hesitate to believe them if they had not been
collected on the spot with more than ordinary diligence, and recorded
with an almost scrupulous care. Sir Stamford Raffles, who was at
the time governor of Java, then a British possession, required all
the residents in the various districts under his authority to send
in a statement of the circumstances which occurred within their own
knowledge; and from the accounts he received in this way, combined with
other evidence, chiefly obtained from eye-witnesses, he drew up the
narrative to which we are mainly indebted for the following facts.

The explosions which accompanied this eruption were heard in Sumatra,
at a distance of 970 geographical miles; and in the opposite direction
at Ternate, a distance of 720 miles. In the neighborhood of the Volcano
itself, immense tracts of land were covered with burning lava, towns
and villages were overwhelmed, all kinds of vegetation completely
destroyed, and of 12,000 inhabitants in the province of Tomboro,
only twenty-six survived. The ashes, which were ejected in great
quantities, were carried like a vast cloud through the air, by the
southeast monsoon, for 300 miles in the direction of Java; and, still
farther to the west, we are told that they formed a floating mass in
the ocean two feet thick and several miles in extent, through which
ships with difficulty forced their way. It is recorded, too, that they
fell so thick on the island of Tombock, 100 miles away, as to cover
all the land two feet deep, destroying every particle of vegetation,
insomuch that 44,000 people perished of the famine that ensued. “I have
seen it computed,” writes Sir John Herschel, “that the quantity of
ashes and lava vomited forth in this awful eruption would have formed
three mountains the size of Mont Blanc, the highest of the Alps; and
if spread over the surface of Germany, would have covered the whole
of it two feet deep.” Finally, it appears that this eruption was
accompanied, like that of Monte Nuovo, by a permanent change in the
level of the adjoining coast; in this case, however, it was a movement,
not of upheaval, but of subsidence: the town of Tomboro sunk beneath
the ocean, which is now eighteen feet deep where there was dry land

Once more we will ask our readers to take a rapid flight over the map
of the world, passing, this time, from the Indian Archipelago to the
island of Iceland,--that “wonderful land of frost and fire.” Besides
the famous Volcano of Hecla, there are five others scarcely less
formidable, all of which have been in active eruption within modern
times. Of these the most celebrated is that of Skaptar Jokul. In the
year 1783, this Volcano poured forth two streams of lava, which, when
hardened, formed together one continuous layer of igneous rock, ninety
miles in length, a hundred feet in height, and from seven to fifteen
miles in breadth. The phenomena which accompanied the eruption are
thus vividly described by Sir John Herschel:--“On the tenth of May
innumerable fountains of fire were seen shooting up through the ice
and snow which covered the mountain; and the principal river, called
the Skapta, after rolling down a flood of foul and poisonous water,
disappeared. Two days after, a torrent of lava poured down into the bed
which the river had deserted. The river had run in a ravine 600 feet
deep and 200 broad. This the lava entirely filled; and not only so,
but it overflowed the surrounding country, and ran into a great lake,
from which it instantly expelled the water in an explosion of steam.
When the lake was fairly filled, the lava again overflowed and divided
into two streams, one of which covered some ancient lava fields; the
other re-entered the bed of the Skapta lower down, and presented the
astounding sight of a cataract of liquid fire pouring over what was
formerly the waterfall of Stapafoss. This was the greatest eruption on
record in Europe. It lasted in its violence till the end of August,
and closed with a violent earthquake; but for nearly the whole year a
canopy of cinder-laden cloud hung over the island: the Faroe Islands,
nay, even Shetland and the Orkneys, were deluged with ashes; and
volcanic dust and a preternatural smoke which obscured the sun, covered
all Europe as far as the Alps, over which it could not rise. The
destruction of life in Iceland was frightful: 9,000 men, 11,000 cattle,
28,000 horses, and 190,000 sheep perished; mostly by suffocation. The
lava ejected has been computed to amount in volume to more than twenty
cubic miles.”[95]

With these very significant facts before us, it is hard to resist the
conclusion that the great mountain mass of Etna, 11,000 feet high and
ninety miles in circumference, is formed entirely of volcanic matter
ejected during successive eruptions. For the whole mountain is nothing
else than a series of concentric conical layers of ashes and lava, such
as have been poured out more than once upon its existing surface in
modern times. Just, then, as Monte Nuovo was produced by an outburst
of volcanic power in a single night, and the far larger mountain of
Jorullo in the course of a few months, so may we believe that the more
stupendous Etna is the work of the same power operating through a
period of many centuries. And applying this conclusion to many other
mountains throughout the world of exactly the same structure, we come
to form no very mean estimate of the permanent changes wrought on the
physical geography of our Globe by the operations of volcanic agency.

We must remember, too, that volcanic eruptions are not confined to the
land; they often break out in the bed of the sea. In such cases the
waters are observed in a state of violent commotion, jets of steam and
sulphurous vapor are emitted, light scoriaceous matter appears floating
on the surface, and not unfrequently the volcanic cone itself slowly
rises from the depths below, and continues to grow from day to day,
until at length it becomes an island of no inconsiderable magnitude.
Sometimes when the violence of the eruption has subsided, the new
island, consisting chiefly of ashes and pumice-stone, is gradually
washed away by the action of the waves; but in the other cases, these
lighter substances are compacted together by the injection of liquid
lava, and being thus able to withstand the erosive power of the ocean,
assume the importance of permanent volcanic islands. Many examples of
the former kind are recorded within the last hundred years. In 1783 an
island was thrown up in the North Atlantic Ocean, about thirty miles to
the southwest of Iceland. It was claimed by the King of Denmark, and
called by him Nyöe or New Island; but before a year had elapsed, this
portion of his Majesty’s dominion disappeared again beneath the waves,
and the sea resumed its ancient domain. A cone-shaped island of the
same kind, called Sabrina, three hundred feet high, with a crater in
the centre, appeared amongst the Azores in 1811, but was quickly washed
away again.

A more interesting example, because the circumstances are more minutely
recorded, is the island which made its appearance in the Mediterranean,
off the southwest coast of Sicily, in the year 1831. During its brief
existence of three months, it received from contemporary writers seven
different names; but the name of Graham Island seems to be the one by
which it is most likely to be known to posterity. “About the tenth
of July,” writes Sir Charles Lyell, “John Corrao, the captain of a
Sicilian vessel, reported that, as he passed near the place, he saw a
column of water like a waterspout, sixty feet high, and eight hundred
yards in circumference, rising from the sea, and soon afterward a
dense steam in its place, which ascended to the height of 1800 feet.
The same Corrao, on his return from Girgenti, on the eighteenth of
July, found a small island, twelve feet high, with a crater in the
centre, ejecting volcanic matter and immense columns of vapor; the sea
around being covered with floating cinders and dead fish. The scoriae
were of a chocolate color, and the water, which boiled in the circular
basin, was of a dingy red. The eruption continued with great violence
to the end of the same month, at which time the island was visited by
several persons, and amongst others by Captain Swinburne, R. N., and M.
Hoffman, the Prussian Geologist.”[96] By the fourth of August the new
island is said to have attained a height of 200 feet, and to have been
three miles in circumference. Yet this was nothing more than the top of
the volcanic cone; for, a few years before, Captain W. H. Smyth, in his
survey, had found a depth of 600 feet at this very spot; and therefore
the total height from the base of the mountain must have been 800
feet. From the beginning of August it began to melt away; and at the
commencement of the following year, nothing remained of Graham Island
but a dangerous shoal.

But even of the islands that occupy a prominent place on the map of
the world, there is not wanting evidence to show that a large number
derive their origin from the action of volcanic power. Among these may
be mentioned many of the Molucca and Philippine groups, also several
in the Grecian Archipelago, and not a few of the Azores and the
Canaries,--in particular the lofty peak of Teneriffe, rising 12,000
feet above the level of the sea. In some cases, indeed, the actual
process of their birth, and of their subsequent growth and development,
has been minutely observed. A remarkable example occurs among the
Aleutian Islands already referred to. In the year 1796 a column of
smoke was seen to issue from the sea; then a small black point appeared
at the surface of the water; then flames broke out, and other volcanic
phenomena were exhibited; then the small black point grew into an
island, and the island increased in size until it was at last several
thousand feet high, and two or three miles in circumference. And such
it remains to the present day.

[Illustration: Fig. 28.--Bird’s-eye view of Santorin during the
volcanic eruption of February, 1866. (Lyell.)

  _a._ Therasia.
  _b._ The northern entrance, 1068 feet deep.
  _c._ Thera.
  _d._ Mount St. Elias, rising 1887 feet above the sea.
  _e._ Aspronisi.
  _f._ Little Kaimeni.
  _g._ New Kaimeni.
  _h._ Old Kaimeni.
  _i._ Aphroessa.
  _k._ George.]

The neighborhood of Santorin in the Grecian Archipelago has been noted
from very remote times as the theatre of submarine eruptions. This
island, which is itself to all appearance the crater of a vast volcano,
has the form of a crescent, and, with the aid of two smaller islands
which stretch across between the horns of the crescent, encloses an
almost circular bay. We learn from Pliny that in the year 186 before
Christ, within this bay an island rose up which was called Hiera or
the Sacred island. It was twice enlarged during the Christian era, once
in 726, and again in 1427, and still exists under the name of Palaia
Kaimeni, that is to say, the Old Burnt Island. In 1573 a second island
made its appearance, and received the name of the Little Burnt Island,
Mikra Kaimeni. In 1707 and 1709, a third island was thrown up, and was
distinguished from the other two as Nea Kaimeni, the New Burnt Island.
Lastly, in 1866 the hidden volcanic power again became active, and
two new vents were formed, called respectively Aphroessa and George.
“At the end of January,” writes Sir Charles Lyell, “the sea had been
observed in a state of ebullition off the southwest coast, and part
of the Channel between New and Old Kaimeni, marked seventy fathoms
in the Admiralty chart, had become, on February the eleventh, only
twelve fathoms deep. According to M. Julius Schmidt, a gradual rising
of the bottom went on until a small island made its appearance called
afterward Aphroessa. It seems to have consisted of lava pressed upward
and outward almost imperceptibly by steam, which was escaping at every
pore through the hissing scoriaceous crust. ‘It could be seen,’ says
Commander Lindesay Brine, R. N., ‘through the fissures in the cone
that the rocks within were red hot, but it was not till later that an
eruption began.’ On February the eleventh the village of Vulcano on the
southeast coast, where there had been a partial sinking of the ground,
was in great part overwhelmed by the materials cast out from a new vent
which opened in that neighborhood, and to which the name of George was
given, which finally, according to Schmidt, became about two hundred
feet high.

“Commander Brine having ascended on February the twenty-eighth, 1866,
to the top of the crater of Nea Kaimeni, about three hundred and fifty
feet high, looked down upon the new vent then in full activity. The
whole of the cone was swaying with an undulating motion to the right
and left, and appeared sometimes to swell to nearly double its size and
height, to throw out ridges like mountain spurs, till at last a broad
chasm appeared across the top of the cone, accompanied by a tremendous
roar of steam and the shooting up from the new crater, to the height of
from fifty to a hundred feet, of tons of rock and ash mixed with smoke
and steam. Some of these which fell on Mikra Kaimeni, at a distance of
six hundred yards from the crater, measured thirty cubic feet. This
effort over, the ridges slowly subsided, the cone lowered and closed
in, and then, after a few minutes of comparative silence, the struggle
would begin again with precisely similar sounds, action, and result.
Threads of vapor escaping from the old crater of Nea Kaimeni proved
that there was a subterranean connection between the new and the old
vents. Aphroessa, of which the cone was at length raised to a height
of more than sixty feet, was united in August with the main island.
This was due in part at least to the upheaval of the bottom of the sea,
which is now only seven fathoms deep in the channel dividing the New
and Old Kaimenis, whereas in the Admiralty chart the soundings gave a
hundred fathoms.”[97]





    _Earthquakes and volcanos proceed from the same common
    cause--Recent earthquakes in New Zealand--Vast tracts of
    land permanently upraised--Earthquakes of Chili in the
    present century--Crust of the Earth elevated--Earthquake of
    Cutch in India, 1819--Remarkable instance of subsidence and
    upheaval--Earthquake of Calabria, 1783--Earthquake of Lisbon,
    1755--Great destruction of life and property--Earthquake
    of Peru, August, 1868--General scene of ruin and
    devastation--Great sea wave--A ship with all her crew carried a
    quarter of a mile inland--Frequency of earthquakes._

The chief effect of volcanic eruptions on the Geological structure of
our Globe consists in the accumulation of cinders and molten rock,
either upon the Surface of the Earth, or in the crevices and caverns
that abound within its solid Crust. Sometimes, indeed, the operations
of an active Volcano are accompanied by a movement of upheaval or
of subsidence. Thus for instance, we have seen that a portion of
the Italian coast was elevated when Monte Nuovo was thrown up, that
the town of Tomboro was submerged on the occasion of the eruption
of Sumbawa, and that the bottom of the sea was notably upheaved by
the last outbreak of the volcanic fires of Santorini. Nevertheless
it appears to be generally the case that when the Crust of the
Earth is once burst open, and a means of escape thus afforded to
the fiery agent below,--in other words, when the active volcano is
established,--the process of upheaval gives place to that of eruption.
But when, as is often the case, no such safety-valve is offered to the
surplus energies of the subterranean fires, then the giant power of
heat, in its struggle to escape, shakes the foundation of the hills,
and uplifts the superincumbent mass of solid rocks.

This theory which ascribes the phenomena of Earthquakes and Volcanos
to the same common cause, acting under different circumstances, is
now almost universally adopted by Geologists; and it may be briefly
enforced by the following considerations. First, though Earthquakes
have sometimes occurred far away from any known volcanic region,
yet they are more frequent in the neighborhood of active or extinct
Volcanos. Secondly, almost all volcanic eruptions are preceded by
Earthquakes; and the Earthquakes generally cease, or, at least become
less violent, when the subterranean fire breaks out in the form of a
Volcano. And, Thirdly, it is plain that the condensed steam which is
generated by internal heat, and the expansive power of the heat itself,
must, of necessity, when pent up in the caverns of the Earth, tend to
produce those very phenomena by which Earthquakes are distinguished.

Let it be observed, however, that while we explain the phenomena in
question by the agency of subterranean heat, this doctrine is by no
means necessary for the main purpose of our present argument. Whatever
may be the cause from which the Earthquake shock proceeds, it is
enough for us to show that the Crust of the Earth has been from time
to time upraised, and dislocated, and rent asunder in modern times,
just as it is supposed in Geological theory, to have been upraised, and
dislocated, and rent asunder from time to time in by-gone ages. We will
set down a few out of the many examples observed and recorded during
the last hundred and twenty years.

When the English colonists settled in New Zealand, about fifty years
ago, they were told by the natives that they might expect a great
Earthquake every seven years. This alarming prediction has not been
literally fulfilled; but it is fully admitted that the total number of
such disturbances within the last half century has not fallen short of
what it should have been according to the above estimate. During the
years 1826 and 1827 several shocks were felt in the neighborhood of
Cook Strait, after which it was observed that the sea-shore had been
uplifted on the north side of Dusky Bay. So transformed was the outline
of the coast that its former features could no longer be recognized;
and a small cove called the Jail, which had previously afforded a
commodious harbor to vessels, engaged in seal fishing, was completely
dried up.

But the most memorable convulsion took place on the night of January
the twenty-third, 1855. A tract of land, about as large as Yorkshire,
on the southwest coast of the North Island, was permanently upraised
from one to nine feet. The harbor of Port Nicholson, together with
the valley of the Hutt, was elevated four to five feet; and a sunken
rock, regarded before as dangerous to navigators, has remained since
the Earthquake three feet above the level of the water. The shock was
felt by ships at sea a hundred and fifty miles from the coast; and it
is estimated that the whole area affected was not less than three times
the extent of the British Islands.

The whole coast of Chili has been subject to great disturbances and
changes of level during the present century. In November, 1837, the
town of Valdivia was destroyed by an Earthquake, and at the same
moment, a whaling vessel, a short distance out at sea, was violently
shaken, and lost her masts. The bottom of the sea was afterward
found to have been raised in some places more than eight feet; and
several rocks appeared high above the water which had previously
been covered at all times by the sea. Two years before, in 1835, the
town of Conception and several others were reduced to ruins by a like
visitation. After the first great convulsion the Earth remained for
many days in a state of commotion. More than three hundred lesser
shocks were counted from the twentieth of February to the fourth of
March. On this occasion, too, the bed of the sea was upheaved; and the
whole island of Santa Maria, seven miles in length, was lifted up from
eight to ten feet above its former level.

The Earthquake of 1822 was more violent, perhaps, and more striking in
its effects, than either of those just mentioned. On the nineteenth of
November in that year a sudden convulsive shock was simultaneously felt
over a space 1200 miles in length. At Valparaiso, and on either side
for a considerable distance, the coast was permanently upheaved. When
Mrs. Graham, who was then living on the spot, and who has left us an
account of the Earthquake, went down to the shore on the following day,
she “found the ancient bed of the sea laid bare and dry, with beds of
oysters, mussels, and other shells adhering to the rocks on which they
grew, the fish being all dead, and exhaling most offensive effluvia.”
Some idea may be formed of the gigantic power here in operation, when
it is remembered that to uplift the coast of Chili, it was necessary
to move the mighty chain of the Andes, and, amongst the rest, the
colossal mass of Aconcagua, 24,000 feet in height. How far this process
of upheaval extended out to sea, beneath the bed of the ocean, has not
been accurately ascertained: but certain it is that, for a considerable
distance, the soundings were found to be shallower than before the
Earthquake. It is roughly estimated that the Crust of the Earth was
elevated over an extent of 100,000 square miles, or about half the area
of France.

On the western coast of India, near the mouth of the river Indus, is
the well-known district of Cutch. In the month of June, 1819, this
extensive territory, not less than half the size of Ireland, was
violently shaken by an Earthquake, several hundred people were killed,
and many towns and villages were laid in ruins. The shocks continued
for some days, and ceased only when the outburst of a Volcano seemed to
open a vent for the troubled spirit within. But what is particularly
worthy of note is that when the Earthquake had passed away, a permanent
change was found to have been effected in the level of the surrounding
country. The town and fort of Sindree, situated on the eastern arm of
the Indus, together with a tract of land 2,000 square miles in extent,
were submerged beneath the waters. The principal buildings, however,
still remained standing, with their upper parts above the surface; and
many of the inhabitants, who had taken refuge in one of the towers
attached to the fort, were saved in boats when the Earthquake had
ceased. On the other hand, within five miles and a half of this very
spot, the level surface of the Earth was upheaved, so as to form a long
elevated bank, fifty miles in length and sixteen in breadth, which
has been called the Ullah Bund, or the Mound of God. Nine years after
this event, Sir Alexander Burnes went out in a boat to the ruins of
Sindree, and standing on the summit of the tower, which still rose two
or three feet above the surface of the water, he could see nothing
around him but a wide expanse of sea, save where a blue streak of land
on the edge of the horizon marked the outline of the Ullah Bund. Here
was a striking illustration, on a small scale, of those changes which
Geologists suppose to have been going on since the world first began;
the dry land had been converted into the bed of the sea, and the level
plain had been elevated into a mountain ridge.

Toward the close of the last century the province of Calabria, in
Southern Italy, was the scene of an Earthquake which offers a very
apposite illustration of our present argument. This celebrated
convulsion is not, however, chiefly remarkable for its violence, or
for its duration, or for the extent of the territory moved. In all
these respects it has been surpassed by many Earthquakes, experienced
in other countries, within the last hundred and fifty years. But the
Calabrian Earthquake has an especial claim on our attention, mainly
from this unusual circumstance, that the region of disturbance was
visited, as Sir Charles Lyell tells us, “both during and after the
convulsions, by men possessing sufficient leisure, zeal, and scientific
information, to enable them to collect and describe with accuracy such
physical facts as throw light on geological questions.”

The shocks were first felt in February, 1783, and continued for nearly
four years. Over a very considerable area of country all the common
landmarks were removed, large tracts of land were forced bodily down
the slopes of mountains; and vineyards, orchards, and cornfields were
transported from one site to another; insomuch that disputes afterward
arose as to who was the rightful owner of the property that had thus
shifted its position. Two farms near Mileto, occupying an extent of
country a mile long and half a mile broad, were actually removed for
a mile down the valley; and “a thatched cottage, together with large
olive and mulberry trees, most of which remained erect, was carried
uninjured to this extraordinary distance.” In other places the surface
of the Earth heaved like the billows of a troubled sea; many houses
were lifted up above the common level, while others subsided below it.
Again and again the solid Crust of the Earth was rent asunder, and
chasms, gorges, ravines, of various depths, were suddenly produced,
in less time than it takes to tell it. Sometimes when the strain was
removed, the yawning gulf as quickly closed again, and then houses,
cattle, and men were swallowed up in the abyss, leaving not a trace
behind. It has even been recorded--strange though it may seem--that
when two shocks rapidly followed one another at the same spot, the
people engulphed by the first, were again cast forth by the second,
being literally disgorged alive from the jaws of death. About 40,000
persons perished in this dreadful visitation, the greater number being
crushed to death beneath the ruins of the towns and villages, others
swallowed up in the yawning fissures as they fled across the open
country, and others again burned in the conflagrations which almost
always followed the shocks of Earthquake.

Everyone has heard of the famous Earthquake of Lisbon. It is chiefly
memorable for the extreme suddenness of the shock, for the immense
extent of the area affected, and for the amount of havoc and
destruction done. On the morning of the fatal day--it was the first
of November, 1755--the sun rose bright and cheerful over the devoted
city, no symptom of impending danger was visible in the sky above or
on the Earth below, and the gay-hearted people were pursuing their
accustomed rounds of pleasure or business, when, suddenly, at twenty
minutes before ten o’clock, a sound like thunder was heard underground,
the Earth was violently shaken, and in another moment, the greater part
of the city was lying in ruins. Within the brief space of six minutes,
60,000 people were crushed to death. The mountains in the vicinity
of the town were cleft asunder. The waters of the sea first retired
from the land, and then rolled back in a huge mountain-like wave fifty
feet above the level of the highest tide. A new quay, built entirely
of marble, had offered a temporary place of refuge to the terrified
inhabitants as they fled from the tumbling ruins of the city. Three
thousand people are said to have been collected upon it, when, all
at once, it sunk beneath the waves, and not a fragment of the solid
masonry, not a vestige of its living freight, was ever seen again. The
bottom of the sea where the quay then stood is now a hundred fathoms

From Lisbon as a centre the shock of this Earthquake radiated over an
area not less than four times the extent of Europe. Like a great wave
it rolled northward, at the rate of twenty miles a minute, upheaving
the Earth as it moved along, to the coasts of the Baltic Sea and the
German Ocean. The waters of Loch Lomond, in Scotland, were violently
disturbed from beneath, and at Kinsale, in Ireland, the sea rushed
impetuously into the harbor without a breath of wind, and mounting over
the quay, flooded the market-place. Eastward the convulsion was felt as
far as the Alps, and westward it extended to the West India Islands,
and even to the great lakes of Canada. On the north coast of Africa the
disturbance was as violent as in Spain and Portugal; and it is recorded
that at a distance of eight leagues from Morocco, the earth opened and
swallowed up a considerable town with its inhabitants, to the number of
eight or ten thousand people.

Even on the high seas the shock was felt no less distinctly than on
dry land. “Off St. Lucar,” says Sir Charles Lyell, “the captain of the
ship Nancy felt his vessel so violently shaken, that he thought she
had struck the ground, but, on heaving the lead, found a great depth
of water. Captain Clark, from Denia, in latitude 36° 24´ N., between
nine and ten in the morning, had his ship shaken and strained as if she
had struck upon a rock, so that the seams of the deck opened, and the
compass was overturned in the binnacle. Another ship, forty leagues
west of St. Vincent, experienced so violent a concussion, that the men
were thrown a foot and a half perpendicularly up from the deck.” It
is worthy of note that this, the most destructive Earthquake recorded
in history, was not attended with any volcanic eruption; which goes
to confirm our theory that the active Volcano serves as a kind of
safety-valve for the escape of the struggling powers confined within
the Crust of the Earth.[98]

We must not bring our notice of Earthquakes to an end without at least
some brief account of one which has startled the world even since we
began to put together the materials of this Volume. On the Western
Coast of South America there is a long, narrow strip of land, lying
between the lofty crests of the Andes and the shores of the Pacific
Ocean, which from the earliest times has been the familiar home of
Earthquakes. Toward evening on the thirteenth of August, 1868, this
fated region was the scene of a convulsion the most appalling and
destructive that has been recorded within the present century. The
disturbance was felt in its extreme violence for a distance of 1500
miles along the coast; from Ibarra one degree north of the Equator
to Iquique more than twenty degrees south. In ten minutes from the
first shock, 20,000 people perished, and a vast amount of property,
roughly estimated at sixty millions sterling, was utterly destroyed.
Many thriving towns--Iquique, Mexillones, Pisagua, Arica, Ylo, Chala,
and others--were levelled to the ground. Even the very ruins were not
spared. The sea rushed in when the Earthquake shock had ceased, and
carried everything before it in one universal wreck: so that in some
cases not a vestige remained behind to tell the dismayed survivors
where their homesteads once had stood. It might be fancied perhaps
that the cities seated aloft in the security of the Eternal Hills were
beyond the reach of the convulsion that shook the plain below. But no:
Arequipa, far up on the slopes of the western Cordillera, and Pasco,
the highest city in the world, situated on a level with the snowy
summit of the Jungfrau, were shattered into fragments with the same
violence as the cities of the coast.

The various incidents recorded by the survivors are full of fearful
interest. At Iquique, according to one account, about five o’clock in
the evening of the thirteenth of August, a rumbling noise was heard,
then the earth shook violently for some minutes, then the sea, with
a great moan, retired from the shore, and rearing itself up into a
tremendous wave, rushed back upon the land and swept away the town.
“I saw,” says one writer, “the whole surface of the sea rise as if a
mountain side, actually standing up. Another shock, accompanied with
a fearful roar, now took place. I called to my companions to run for
their lives on to the Pampa. Too late! With a horrid crash the sea was
on us, and at one sweep--one terrible sweep--dashed what was Iquique on
to the Pampa. I lost my companions, and in an instant was fighting with
the dark water. The mighty wave surged and roared and leaped. The cries
of human beings and animals were dreadful. A mass of wreck covered me
and kept me down, and I was fast drowning when the sea threw me on to
a beam, but a nail piercing my coat, the timber rolled me again under,
and I lost all sense. I suppose, as in all such cases, I must have
struggled after sensation had left me, for when returning consciousness
came I was grasping under one arm a large plank. Looking round, all was
wreck and desolation. In a moment I was by a returning wave swept into
the bay, and meeting a mass of broken timber, I was struck a fearful
blow on the chin, and the broken end of the plank passed through my
thigh. I knew no more until I found myself on the Pampa, and all dark
around me. I was without trousers, coat, shoes, or hat. Trying to
collect myself, I thought of another wave, and crawled away to the
mountain side, scooped a hole in the ground, and got in; here, wet and
shivering, I spent the night. My wound bled freely. In the morning
I looked out and found Iquique gone, all but a few houses round the

A good deal of shipping was lying in the bay of Arica. When the waters
first receded the vessels were all carried out to sea, chains, cables,
and anchors snapping asunder like packthread. A moment, afterward they
were borne back irresistibly by the returning wave, and dashed to
pieces on the coast. One more fortunate than the rest, the Wateree, a
vessel of war belonging to the United States Government, was caught up
on the crest of the wave, and with the loss of only one man, was landed
high and dry among the sand-hills a quarter of a mile from the shore.

Before the Earthquake, Arequipa was a prosperous town of 30,000
inhabitants. It enjoyed a considerable trade, and, in importance as
well as size, it was regarded as the third city of Peru, being inferior
only to Lima and Cuzco. The houses were constructed with especial
regard to security against the shock of Earthquakes. They were but
one story high, built of solid stone, and massive to an extraordinary
degree. But these precautions, though the fruit of long experience,
were all of no avail. At Sunset on the fatal thirteenth of August the
populous and thriving city of Arequipa was little better than a heap of
ruins. “Not a church is left standing,” writes an eye-witness, “not a
house habitable. The shock commenced at twenty minutes past five in the
afternoon, and lasted six or seven minutes. The houses being solidly
built and of one story, resisted for one minute, which gave the people
time to rush into the middle of the streets, so that the mortality,
although considerable, is not so great as might have been expected. If
the Earthquake had occurred at night, few indeed would have been left
to tell the story. As it is, the prisoners in the public prison, and
the sick in the hospital, have perished. The Earthquake commenced with
an undulating movement, and as the shock culminated, no one could keep
his feet: the houses rocked as a ship in the trough of the sea, and
came crumbling down. The shrieks of the women, the crash of falling
masonry, the upheaving of the earth, and the clouds of blinding dust,
made up a scene that cannot be described. We had nineteen minor shocks
the same night, and the earth still continues in motion. Nothing has as
yet been done toward disinterring the dead; but I do not think any are
buried alive, as certain death must have been the fate of all those who
were not able to get into the street. The earth has opened in all the
plains around, and water has appeared in various places.”[99]

These are a few typical examples of the more violent convulsions by
which the Crust of the Earth has been disturbed within little more
than a century; and they leave no doubt as to the kind of changes
which may fairly be ascribed to similar agency in the past history of
the Globe. Nor must it be supposed that, because our examples are few
in number, the Earthquake is itself a rare and exceptional event. On
the contrary, the state of partial disturbance and convulsion would
seem to be the natural and ordinary condition of our planet. From the
interesting Catalogue drawn up by Mr. Mallet, it appears that, in our
own times, the number of Earthquakes actually observed and recorded
is, on an average, not less than from two to three every week. Now
this catalogue cannot represent more than one-third of the Globe: for
the disturbances which take place in the profound depths of the ocean
must for the most part escape observation, and many parts even of the
inhabited Earth are still beyond the reach of scientific researches.
It is, therefore, quite a reasonable speculation of Sir Charles
Lyell, that “scarcely a day passes without one or more shocks being
experienced in some part of the Globe.”

Moreover, in Mr. Mallet’s Catalogue no account is taken of those minor
vibrations or tremblings of the Earth’s Crust, which are not attended
by any striking or noteworthy event. And yet such phenomena, when
often repeated, may produce a very important change of level, and
are far more frequent than most persons would be likely to suppose.
In our quiet region of the Globe people are too apt to take for
granted the general stability of the Earth: but in other countries
the inhabitants, warned by long experience, are no less deeply
impressed with a conviction of its instability. Sir John Herschel says
that, in the volcanic regions of Central and Southern America, “the
inhabitants no more think of counting Earthquake shocks, than we do of
counting showers of rain:” nay, he adds that, “in some places along
the coast a shower is a greater variety.” And in Sicily, we are told
they make provision against movements of the Earth’s Crust, just as
we make provision against lightning and storms; so much so that it
is quite a common thing for architects to advertise their houses as





    _Gentle movements of the Earth’s Crust within historic
    times--Roman roads and temples submerged in the bay of
    Baiæ--Temple of Jupiter Serapis--Singular condition
    of its columns--Proof of subsidence and subsequent
    upheaval--Indications of a second subsidence now
    actually taking place--Gradual upheaval of the coast of
    Sweden--Summary of the evidence adduced to establish this
    fact--Subsidence of the Earth’s Crust on the west coast of

SO far we have spoken of the disturbance of the Earth’s Crust in
modern times by sudden and violent convulsions. But there are many
phenomena with which the Geologist is familiar, that cannot be fairly
accounted for unless by supposing that the surface of the Earth was
often elevated and depressed in ancient times, without any sudden
shock, by a slow and almost insensible movement. And, accordingly,
gentle undulations of this kind enter largely into that general theory
of Geology which we have been attempting to draw out and illustrate.
It may be asked, therefore, if we are able to support this part of our
system by examples of similar phenomena occurring within the period
of history. In reply, we shall endeavor to set forth, as briefly as
we can, some of the evidence which has recently come to light on
this subject, and which seems to us not less conclusive than it is
interesting and unexpected.

In the bay of Baiæ, to the west of Naples, two ancient Roman roads may
be distinctly traced, at the present day, for a considerable distance,
permanently submerged beneath the waters. There are, also, in the same
neighborhood, the ruins of the temple of Neptune and of the temple of
the Nymphs, both likewise submerged. “The columns of the former edifice
stand erect in five feet of water, the upper portions just rising
to the surface;[100] the pedestals are supposed to be buried in the
mud below.” Again, on the opposite side of Naples, near Sorrento, “a
road with fragments of Roman buildings, is covered to some depth by
the sea;”[101] and in the island of Capri, at the opening of the bay
of Naples, one of the palaces of Tiberius is also under water. Here,
therefore, it is clear that the Crust of the Earth has subsided over
a very considerable area; since what is now the bed of the sea, was
in the days of the Romans dry land, traversed by roads, and dotted
over with buildings. That the subsidence was slow and gradual may be
inferred, partly from the absence of any record or tradition of a
sudden convulsion producing such a change, and partly, too, from the
unshaken and undisturbed condition of the monuments themselves.

But while this conclusion falls in most happily with our present
argument, it would seem on further examination to bring with it a very
serious difficulty. For, while those ancient monuments testify that
the Crust of the Earth in this locality has _subsided_, the structure
of the sea-coast, interpreted according to Geological principles,
would indicate, on the contrary, that the Crust of the Earth has
been _upheaved_. Close to the sea, at the present day, on the bay of
Baiæ, there is a low, level tract of fertile land, and at a little
distance inland, a lofty range of precipitous cliffs, eighty feet high,
parallel to the line of the coast. This fertile tract, lying between
the sea-beach and the perpendicular cliffs, is about twenty feet
above the sea level, and is composed of regularly stratified deposits
abounding in marine shells of recent species, together with works of
human art, such as tiles, squares of mosaic pavement, fragments of
bricks, and sculptured ornaments. Upon these facts a Geologist would
pronounce without hesitation:--First, that at some period since the
district around Naples was first inhabited by man, the waters of the
sea washed the base of the perpendicular cliffs; secondly, that the
strata in which we now find the recent marine shells, and the remains
of man’s workmanship, were formed during that period by the process
of deposition at the bottom of the sea; and thirdly, that at some
subsequent time, by an upheaval of the Earth’s Crust, these strata were
lifted up so as to form a pretty considerable area of dry land, fit for
agriculture and the arts of life.

Does it not seem, therefore, that we have here a direct contradiction
between the evidence of ancient Roman buildings and the inferences of
modern Geology? Doubtless, they both agree in the main point about
which we are concerned just now, that the Crust of the Earth has
been moved in recent times on the shores of the bay of Naples; but
according to the testimony of the Roman temples, now covered by water,
this movement has been one of _subsidence_, while, according to the
inferences of Geological theory, it has been one of _upheaval_. This
apparent contradiction seems to call for some elucidation.

If we were left in this matter to mere conjecture, we might offer
the following hypothesis as a fair and reasonable solution. We might
suppose that since the days of the Roman Empire, there have been _two
successive movements_ of the Earth’s Crust in the neighborhood of
Naples; first, a movement of subsidence, by which the ancient temples
and roads were submerged to a considerable depth beneath the sea;
afterward, a movement of upheaval, by which the marine strata were
lifted up. If this second movement were exactly equal to the first,
it is plain that the ancient roads and buildings would have been just
restored to their former level. But let us suppose that the amount of
upheaval was something less than the amount of previous subsidence,
and we should have these roads and buildings still submerged, as they
are in point of fact, in a few feet of water. By such an hypothesis,
therefore, the two classes of phenomena might be brought into perfect

But we are not obliged to take refuge in hypothesis: for it is now
distinctly proved by a very curious kind of evidence, that the Crust of
the Earth in and about the bay of Baiæ, has been successively depressed
and upraised since the third century of the Christian era; nay more,
that the subsidence in the first case was greater than the subsequent
upheaval. Near Pozzuoli, on the level tract of land which, as we
have said, intervenes between the sea and the lofty range of inland
cliffs, are to be seen at the present day the ruins of a splendid
Roman edifice, usually called the temple of Jupiter Serapis, though,
according to some writers, it was not a temple at all, but a public
establishment for baths. These ruins first attracted attention about
the middle of the last century. Three magnificent marble columns were
still standing erect, with their lower parts buried in the stratified
deposits already described, and their upper portions, which projected
above the surface of the land, partly concealed by bushes. When the
soil was removed the original plan of the building could be distinctly
traced. “It was of a quadrangular form, seventy feet in diameter, and
the roof had been supported by forty-six noble columns, twenty-four
of granite and the rest of marble.” Many of the pillars have been
shattered in the course of time, and lie strewn in fragments on the
pavements. The three which are still standing erect, are upward of
forty feet in height, each carved out of a solid block of marble; and,
what is chiefly to our purpose, they exhibit, curiously inscribed on
their surface, memorials of the physical changes in which they have
borne a part.

The base of these lofty columns is, at present, slightly below the
level of the sea. Their outer surface is smooth for about twelve
feet above the pedestals; then, for the next nine feet the marble is
everywhere bored by a well-known species of mussel, which it is certain
can live only in the sea. Above this band of perforations the pillars
again present a smooth surface, and continue smooth to the top. The
first inference from these facts is, that the columns in question
must have been at one time submerged to a height of twenty-one feet
above the pedestals; otherwise they could not have been bored at that
height by a species of animal that can only exist in sea-water. Since
that time, therefore, the land at this spot must have been upraised
twenty-one feet. Furthermore, the temple of Jupiter was certainly not
built at the bottom of the sea, but upon dry land; therefore, after
the temple had been built, the Crust of the Earth must have subsided
at least twenty-one feet. Once more: as the floor of the temple is now
somewhat below the level of the sea, and as it is not very likely it
was at first so built, we may fairly infer that it is now lower than it
originally stood; and consequently, that the total amount of upheaval
has not been equal to the total amount of subsidence. Though we cannot
fix the exact date at which the subsidence began, it was probably not
earlier than the third century; for in the atrium of the temple is an
inscription recording that it was adorned with precious marbles by the
emperor Septimus Severus.

It cannot be supposed for a moment that these changes were effected
by a rise and fall in the level of the sea rather than by a movement
of the Earth’s Crust. A permanent change in the level of the
Mediterranean, in any given locality, would, of necessity, imply a
change of level over its entire extent; and therefore, if the phenomena
exhibited in the bay of Baiæ arose from such a cause, we should meet
with phenomena of the same kind along the whole length of the Italian
coast. Now, in point of fact, no such changes of level are elsewhere
apparent; and consequently, they must be ascribed in the bay of Baiæ,
not to an upward and downward movement of the sea, but to an upward and
downward movement of the land.

We must not omit to state, before leaving the subject, that it is now
ascertained, by a series of accurate observations, that the Crust
of the Earth in this interesting locality is once again slowly and
gradually subsiding. At the beginning of the century the platform of
the temple stood at about the level of the sea; it is now more than
a foot below it. Nay, this second subsidence appears to have begun
even before the present century. “In the year 1813,” writes a modern
traveller, “I resided for four months in the Capuchin convent of
Pozzuoli, which is situated between the road from Naples and the sea,
at the entrance of the town of Pozzuoli. In the Capuchin convents
the oldest friar is called ‘il molto reverende,’ and the one who
then enjoyed the title in this convent was ninety-three years old.
He informed me that, when he was a young man, the road from Naples
passed on the _seaward side_ of the convent; but that, from the
gradual sinking of the soil, the road was obliged to be altered to
its present course. While I was staying at the convent, the refectory
as well as the entrance gate, were from six inches to a foot under
water whenever strong westerly winds prevailed, so as to cause the
waters of the Mediterranean to rise. Thirty years previously, my old
informant stated, such an occurrence never took place. In fact, it is
not probable that the builder of the convent would have placed the
ground-floor so low as to expose to inundation as it now is.”[102]

On the shores of the Baltic Sea we find another illustration of
our theory upon a more extended scale. About a century and a half
ago the Swedish naturalist, Celsius, expressed a belief that a
remarkable change of level was taking place along the eastern coast
of Scandinavia; and he ascribed the change to a subsidence of the
waters of the Baltic Sea. This opinion was received at first with
no small amount of incredulity; but the arguments of Celsius were
plausible and attractive enough to excite a controversy, and the
controversy once aroused was not easily set at rest. Accordingly,
since his time the facts upon which he relied have been more strictly
examined, difficulties have been started and investigated, many new
facts, at first unknown or unnoticed, have been brought to light, and
the whole question has been rigorously discussed by scientific men.
It would be tedious to go through the history of the discussion, or
to develop at any length the arguments which in the end have proved
successful, involving as they do a multitude of minute observations and
nice measurements, made at a great variety of different places with
hard-sounding names. But the general result may be readily stated and
as readily understood.

It appears that numerous sunken reefs, well known to navigators, have,
within the last two centuries, become visible above water; that many
ancient ports have become inland towns; that many small islands have
become united to one another and to the mainland by grassy plains;
that rocky points which in former times just peeped above the water,
and afforded refuge only to a solitary sea-bird, are now grown into
little islets; and that several of the old fishing grounds are now
deserted for their shallowness, nay, in some cases, altogether dried
up. From these facts the inference is plain; either the solid Crust of
the Earth has been uplifted, or the waters of the sea have subsided.
Now it is certain there has been no subsidence of the sea; for such
a subsidence, as we before observed, if it took place at all, should
have been general; whereas there are many points on the shores of the
Baltic, especially along the coasts of Denmark and Prussia, where it
can be proved that no change of level has taken place for centuries.
And therefore the phenomena above described we must attribute to an
upheaval of the Earth’s Crust.[103]

Such is the kind of reasoning with which this inquiry has been pursued;
and it may now be set down as a received and established fact, that a
slow and gradual process of upheaval is going on, at the present day,
on the shores of the Baltic Sea, at the rate of from two to four feet
in a century; and this is over an area of unknown breadth, and not less
than 1000 miles in length. Evidence of a similar kind has lately been
adduced to prove that the west coast of Greenland is just now gradually
subsiding for a space of more than 600 miles from north to south.
“Ancient buildings on low, rocky islands, and on the shore of the
mainland, have been gradually submerged, and experience has taught the
aboriginal Greenlander never to build his hut near the water’s edge.
In one case the Moravian settlers have been obliged more than once to
move the poles upon which their large boats were set, and the old poles
still remain beneath the water as silent witnesses of the change.”[104]

It should seem, therefore, that the Crust of the Earth is not that
fixed and immovable mass of unyielding rock which it is often supposed
to be. Whatever the gigantic power is which lies shut up within it,
and which seems, clearly enough, to be developed in some way or
another--perhaps in many ways at once--from internal heat, that power
exercises a mighty influence from age to age on the outward form of
our planet. Like the wind, indeed, it bloweth where it listeth, and
we cannot tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth; but we can hear
the sound thereof, and witness its effects when it breaks out now in
this quarter of the world, and now in that, bursting open the massive
rocks, and furiously vomiting forth whole mountains of smouldering
ashes and molten mineral; or again, when, failing to find a vent, it
shakes the foundations of the hills, and shivers into fragments the
most enduring works of man--castles, temples, palaces,--filling every
heart with terror and dismay; or, in fine, when it gently upheaves the
bottom of the ocean, or by withdrawing the strain, allows the Crust of
the Earth to subside, with a movement so gradual and insensible as to
escape the notice of the multitudes who are toiling in the busy cities
on its Surface. That phenomena of this kind have been going on in all
past ages, is now universally assumed in the speculations of Geology:
that they are going on in the present age, we have here endeavored to
prove by the evidence of facts. If we have succeeded according to our
expectations, the reader will be prepared to admit that, on this point
at least, it is not the Geologist who may fairly be charged with having
recourse to the inventions of his fancy, but rather those who, assuming
as a first principle that Geology is false, perseveringly shut their
eyes to the physical changes that are going on around them.






    _The general principles of geological theory accepted by the
    author--These principles plainly import the extreme antiquity
    of the earth--Illustration from the coal, the chalk, and the
    boulder clay--This conclusion not at variance with the inspired
    history of creation--Chronology of the Bible--Genealogies of
    Genesis--Date of the creation not fixed by Moses--Progress of
    opinion on this point--Cardinal Wiseman, Father Perrone, Father
    Pianciani--Doctor Buckland--Doctor Chalmers, Doctor Pye Smith,
    Hugh Miller--Author’s view explained--Charge of rashness and
    irreverence answered--Admonitions of Saint Augustine and Saint

The reader has now before him a general outline of Geological theory,
together with some familiar illustrations of the evidence by which it
is supported. We shall not attempt to enforce this evidence by any
remarks of our own. Indeed it is of a kind that can derive but little
aid from the arts of logic or rhetoric. It needs but to be fairly
understood, and if it does not altogether compel our assent, it begets
at least a presumption so strong as to leave little room for doubt or

Nobody, so far as we know, has ever hesitated to believe that the
Round Towers of Ireland are the work of human hands. And yet if some
incredulous skeptic were to raise the cry against this common opinion,
were to argue that it is a mere hypothesis, and call for proof, we
should be embarrassed how to answer him. We could only say that these
monuments have all the characteristic marks of man’s handiwork;
and that buildings of this kind have never been known to come into
existence except through the agency of Man. But should our vexatious
skeptic contend that they were possibly produced by a freak of Nature;
or that they were built in the beginning by the Creator of the World,
who certainly might have made them had He been so minded, we should
think him very unreasonable, and probably not feel much disposed to
prolong the discussion. In like manner the theory of Geology which we
are defending, cannot be established by a rigid demonstration; but we
believe there is not one man of sense and judgment, who, being fully
master of the evidence on which it rests, hesitates to accept that
theory, at least in its more general outlines. No doubt many able and
eminent men are to be found arrayed against Geology; but it would
be easy to show from their writings that they have never thoroughly
examined the facts about which they talk so flippantly, and which they
often set aside so lightly.

For ourselves, therefore, we frankly avow that while we attach
but little importance to the mere conjectures and speculations of
Geological writers; while we look with doubt and suspicion on many
plausible theories commonly enough adopted at the present day; and
while we consider that the discoveries of modern times, wonderful
though they are, have given rise to far more problems than they are
yet able to solve; yet we do fully assent to those general principles
which we have been attempting to develop and to illustrate in this
Volume. Absolutely metaphysical certainty we have not; but we have a
firm and rational conviction. We feel quite satisfied that the great
Creator of the Universe did not bring suddenly into existence the
withered remains and broken fragments of animals which had never lived;
that He did not stamp upon the massive rocks, buried in the profound
recesses of the earth, the impress of a luxuriant vegetation which had
never flourished; that He did not, in short, create under millions of
forms, the delusive appearances of things which had never been, and
scatter them through this world of ours in wild profusion, well knowing
that after many centuries they would come to light to bewilder human
reason, and to lead it into error. This conclusion, of course, we are
prepared to abandon if it should be found to clash with any certain
truth or with any demonstrated fact. But, in the mean lime, it seems
to us as well grounded and as fairly established as the conclusions
we are accustomed to accept without hesitation in the matter of other
sciences, and in the common business of life.

It is argued, however, that Geological theory is, in fact, at variance
with the very highest order of truth; with that truth which comes to
us on the authority of God Himself. The Bible tells us that the world
first came into existence about six or eight thousand years ago:
Geology, on the contrary, tells us that six or eight thousand years are
but as yesterday in the history of the revolutions through which our
Globe has passed. This is the argument to which we are now about to
address ourselves; and it well deserves our best attention, not only
from its intrinsic importance, but also from the interesting nature of
the discussion to which it has given rise.

In the first place, we fully admit that the extreme Antiquity of the
Earth is a necessary consequence of our theory. Setting out from the
present stage of the world’s existence, Geology carries us back from
epoch to epoch, through a long succession of ages, each extending over
many thousand years, until the mind is lost in the seeming infinity of
the past. It may be asked, perhaps, in what way Geology can testify to
the great length of each successive period in the history of the Globe.
A familiar example will furnish the most convenient reply to such a

Let the reader call to mind what we have already explained about the
origin and formation of Coal; and then let him examine the structure
of the Carboniferous Rocks. In the great Coal-fields of Wales, for
instance, he will find, in a depth of 12,000 feet, from fifty to
a hundred distinct beds of coals, spread out one above another,
with intervening strata of clay several feet thick. Now each one of
these beds represents an ancient forest which must have grown up
and flourished and decayed; or else an immense and varied mass of
Drift-wood, transported from a distance by the action of moving water,
and deposited near the mouth of some great river. In either case a
considerable lapse of time would have been necessary for such an
accumulation of vegetable matter as would furnish the elements even of
a single seam of Coal. And, when that period came to an end, only one
little stage in the long series had been accomplished: one stratum of a
few feet had been laid down in that great Formation which was to reach
at length a height of more than two miles. A new condition of things
then ensued. This layer of vegetable matter, sunk below the waters, was
gradually covered over with a thick deposit of clay, which, in course
of time, was to emerge, and become dry land, and give birth to a second
forest, destined in its turn to wither and decay. Or, at least, when
the stratum of clay had been deposited, it was to be overlaid, in some
way or another, with a second layer of vegetable matter sufficient
for the production of a second bed of coal. And so this process must
have gone on, doubtless with many and long interruptions, for a hundred
times in succession.

Then it must be remembered that the Coal-bearing strata represent
but one of many periods, and that not the longest in the Geological
Calendar. Before the age of the Coal, England was for centuries at the
bottom of the sea, while the Old Red Sandstone was slowly spread out
over its existing surface. And after the age of the Coal, England was
again submerged, and gigantic Ichthyosaurs with their companions of the
deep, sported in the waters that rolled over her plains and covered
the tops of her mountains; and, when they had run their course, left
their remains buried in the clays of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire and

Furthermore, the beds in which these monstrous reptiles are entombed
were overlaid by a stratum of calcareous ooze, now forming a solid
mass of Chalk Rock, often a thousand feet in thickness. This Chalk,
as we have seen, is nothing else than a vast accumulation of shells,
so minute that millions of them would fit together on the blade of a
small pen-knife, and hundreds of millions are carried about by every
carpenter in his waistcoat pocket. How many generations of animalcules
it took to pile up such an immense thickness of rock, by the action of
their vital powers, and how many ages were consumed in the process it
is beyond the reach of science to calculate, almost beyond the power
of imagination to conceive. And yet the Chalk itself was followed by
the various Formations of the Tertiary Age; while the last of these is
separated by the Drift and Boulder Clay from the superficial deposits
which correspond with the period of history, and which go by the name
of Recent.

This topic has been illustrated in a lively and striking manner by
Professor Huxley, in a Lecture delivered not long ago before the
working-men of Norwich. “At Cromer,” he says, “one of the most
charming spots on the coast of Norfolk, you will see the Boulder Clay
forming a vast mass, which lies upon the Chalk, and must consequently
have come into existence after it. Huge boulders of chalk are, in fact,
included in the clay, and have evidently been brought to the position
they now occupy by the same agency as that which has planted blocks of
syenite from Norway side by side with them.

“The Chalk, then, is certainly older than the Boulder Clay. If you ask
how much, I will again take you no further than the same spot upon
your own coasts for evidence. I have spoken of the Boulder Clay and
Drift as resting upon the Chalk. That is not strictly true. Interposed
between the Chalk and the Drift is a comparatively insignificant layer,
containing vegetable matter. But that layer tells a wonderful history.
It is full of stumps of trees standing as they grew. Fir-trees are
there with their cones, and hazel-bushes with their nuts; there stand
the stools of oak and yew trees, beeches and alders. Hence this stratum
is appropriately called the Forest-bed.

“It is obvious that the Chalk must have been upheaved and converted
into dry land before the timber trees could grow upon it. As the trunks
of some of these trees are from two to three feet in diameter, it is no
less clear that the dry land thus formed remained in the same condition
for long ages. And not only do the remains of stately oaks and
well-grown firs testify to the duration of this condition of things,
but additional evidence to the same effect is afforded by the abundant
remains of elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, and other great
wild beasts, which it has yielded to the zealous search of such men as
the Reverend Mr. Gunn.

“When you look at such a collection as he has formed, and bethink
you that these elephantine bones did veritably carry their owners
about, and these great grinders crunch in the dark woods of which the
Forest-bed is now the only trace, it is impossible not to feel that
they are as good evidence of the lapse of time as the annual rings of
the tree-stumps.

“Thus there is a writing upon the wall of cliffs at Cromer, and whoso
runs may read it. It tells us with an authority which cannot be
impeached, that the ancient bed of the Chalk sea was raised up and
remained dry land until it was covered with forest, stocked with the
great game whose spoils have rejoiced your Geologists. How long it
remained in that condition cannot be said; but the ‘whirligig of time
brought its revenges’ in those days as in these. That dry land, with
the bones and teeth of generations of long-lived elephants hidden away
among the gnarled roots and dry leaves of its ancient trees, sank
gradually to the bottom of the icy sea, which covered it with huge
masses of Drift and Boulder Clay. Sea-beasts, such as the walrus,
now restricted to the extreme north, paddled about where birds had
twittered among the topmost twigs of the fir-trees. How long this state
of things endured we know not, but at length it came to an end. The
upheaved glacial mud hardened into the soil of modern Norfolk. Forests
grew once more, the wolf and the beaver replaced the reindeer and the
elephant; and at length what we called the history of England, dawned.

“Thus evidence which cannot be rebutted, and which need not be
strengthened, though, if time permitted, I might indefinitely increase
its quantity, compels you to believe that the Earth from the time of
the Chalk to the present day, has been the theatre of a series of
changes as vast in their amount as they were slow in their progress.
The area on which we stand has been first sea and then land for at
least four alternations, and has remained in each of these conditions
for a period of great length.

“Nor have these wonderful metamorphoses of the sea into land, and of
land into sea, been confined to one corner of England. During the Chalk
Period not one of the present great physical features of the Globe was
in existence. Our great mountain ranges, Pyrenees, Alps, Himalayas,
Andes, have all been upheaved since the Chalk was deposited, and the
Cretaceous sea flowed over the sites of Sinai and Ararat.

“All this is certain, because rocks of Cretaceous or still later
date have shared in the elevatory movements which gave rise to these
mountain chains, and may be found perched up, in some cases, many
thousand feet high upon their flanks. And evidence of equal cogency
demonstrates that, though in Norfolk the Forest-bed rests directly upon
the Chalk, yet it does so, not because the period at which the forest
grew immediately followed that at which the Chalk was formed, but
because an immense lapse of time, represented elsewhere by thousands of
feet of rock, is not indicated at Cromer.

“I must ask you to believe that there is no less conclusive proof that
a still more prolonged succession of similar changes occurred before
the Chalk was deposited. Nor have we any reason to think that the first
term in the series of these changes is known. The oldest sea-beds
preserved to us are sands and mud and pebbles, the wear and tear of
rocks which were formed in still older oceans.”[105]

It is needless to pursue this subject further, or to seek for other
illustrations. We may reject Geology if we will: but if we put any
faith even in its main principles, we must believe that the Crust of
the Earth has passed through an indefinite series of revolutions,
during which the Stratified Rocks were slowly built up by the action of
natural causes. And it would be utterly ridiculous to suppose that the
history of these revolutions can be compressed into the narrow compass
of six thousand years.

Turning now to the other side of the question, we maintain that this
extreme Antiquity of the Earth, which we have learned from Geology,
is perfectly consistent with the historical narrative of the Bible.
The Bible, indeed, does fix the Chronology of the Human Race at a
comparatively recent period; but as for the Chronology of the World
itself, the Bible simply tells us that, “In the beginning God created
the Heavens and the Earth.” For all that appears to the contrary, this
Earth of ours may have been in existence for millions of years before
man was introduced upon the scene; and during that time may have been
peopled with those countless tribes of plants and animals which play
so important a part in the records of Geology. This view, which is not
only fully tolerated by the Church, but now largely supported by her
Divines and Commentators, we hope to bring home clearly to our readers
in the following pages; and thus to satisfy them that, as regards
the Antiquity of the Earth, the discoveries of Geology can offer no
prejudice to our religious belief.

At the outset it is of some importance to understand clearly the
nature of that system of Chronology which is gathered from the Bible.
Nowhere in the Sacred Text is the age of the human race explicitly set
forth. But various data are found scattered here and there through
the historical narrative, which afford us sufficient materials to
compute the years that elapsed from the Creation of Adam to the Birth
of Christ. Unfortunately, however, these data are in some respects
obscure, and in some respects uncertain. And thus it has come to pass
that many different systems of Chronology have come into vogue, even
amongst those who profess to be guided entirely by the authority of the

The whole period may be conveniently divided into two parts;--from the
Creation of Adam to the Call of Abraham; and from the call of Abraham
to the Birth of Christ. As regards the latter interval, the difference
of opinion between Chronologists is not very substantial; the length
of the period may be roughly set down at about 2,000 years. But in the
computation of the former interval a very wide difference prevails,
arising from a diversity of reading in the earliest versions of the

The materials for the computation are derived from two genealogical
lists, one extending from Adam to Noah,[106] the other from Noah to
Abraham.[107] In these lists we have not only the direct line of
descent from father to son, extending through the whole period in
question, but, moreover, we have the age of each individual member of
the genealogy at the time when the next in succession was born. As,
for example:--“Adam lived _a hundred and thirty years, and begot a
son_ to his own image and likeness, and called his name Seth. And the
days of Adam, after he had begot Seth, were eight hundred years: and
he begot sons and daughters. And all the time that Adam lived came to
nine hundred and thirty years, and he died. Seth also lived _a hundred
and five years, and begot Enos_. And Seth lived, after he begot Enos,
eight hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters. And all
the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died. And
Enos lived _ninety years, and begot Cainan:_”[108] and so on. Now it
is plain, according to this statement, that from the Creation of Adam
to the birth of Seth was a hundred and thirty years; to the birth of
Enos, a hundred and thirty, more a hundred and five years; to the
birth of Cainan, a hundred and thirty, more a hundred and five, more
ninety years. And in this way, following the genealogies of the Book
of Genesis, we may easily compute the time from the Creation of Adam
to the Birth of Abraham. Adding seventy-five years to this period, we
reach the epoch known as the Call of Abraham; for we are told that
“Abraham was seventy and five years old when he went forth from

Now every one knows that when a long catalogue of names and numbers is
copied and recopied from age to age, errors are very likely to creep in
and be perpetuated. And so it has been in the present case. The three
earliest versions of the Pentateuch are the Hebrew, the Samaritan, and
the Septuagint: and between these three versions there is a very great
discrepancy with regard to the figures in question; so great, indeed,
as to make up, on the whole, a difference of 1500 years, or more, in
the age of the human race. In the table that appears on the following
page, for which we are mainly indebted to the work of a modern
writer,[110] this diversity of reading is set forth in a very simple
and intelligible form.

It is plain that of these three different versions, one only can
represent the true age of the human race when Abraham went forth, at
the command of God, from his country and his kindred and his father’s
house, to go into the land of Canaan: and at this distance of time,
it is impossible to determine with anything like certainty, which of
the three has the greatest claim on our acceptance. The Church has not
pronounced upon the subject; and the question is freely discussed among
Biblical scholars. But the details of this controversy have little to
do with our present argument. Enough it is for us to know that, from
the Creation of Adam to the Birth of Christ, cannot have been more than
six thousand years at the highest computation, nor much less than four
thousand at the lowest. Adding 1869 years of the Christian Era, the
present age of the Human Race according to the data of the Bible would
seem to lie between six and eight thousand years.


  LIST OF                             AGE OF EACH WHEN THE NEXT
  PATRIARCHS.                                WAS BORN.

                                             ACCORDING TO
                                     Septuagint. Hebrew. Samaritan.

  Adam,                                 230        130     130
  Seth,                                 205        105     105
  Enos,                                 190         90      90
  Cainan,                               170         70      70
  Malaleel,                             165         65      65
  Jared,                                162        162      62
  Henoch,                               165         65      65
  Mathusala,                            167        187      67
  Lamech,                               188        182      53
  Noe,                                  500        500     500
  Sem,                                  100        100     100
  From the creation of Adam to the   } ----       ----    ----
  birth of Arphaxad, two years after } 2242       1656    1307
  the Flood,[111]                    } ----       ----    ----
  Arphaxad,                             135         35     135
  Cainan,[112]                          130         --      --
  Sale,                                 130         30     130
  Heber,                                134         34     134
  Phaleg,                               130         30     130
  Reu,                                  132         32     132
  Sarug,                                130         30     130
  Nachor,                                79         29      79
  Thare,                                 70         70      70
  Abraham called by God,                 75         75      75
                                       ----       ----    ----
  From the Flood to the Call of }      1145        365    1015
  Abraham,                      }      ----       ----    ----
  From the Creation of Adam to  }
  the Call of Abraham,          }      3387       2021    2322

The Bible, then, does determine, though with some vagueness and
uncertainty, the age of the Human Race. We have now to consider
whether, in fixing the age of the Human Race, it fixes likewise the age
of the World itself. For this purpose we must turn our attention to the
first chapter of Genesis, in which is briefly set forth the origin and
early history of our Globe from the Creation of the Heavens and the
Earth in the beginning to the Creation of Man at the close of the Sixth
Day. If it should appear that these two events were comprised within a
very narrow limit of time, as is not unfrequently supposed, then indeed
the age of the world must agree pretty nearly with the age of the Human
Race. But if on the other hand, between these two events the Sacred
Record allows us to suppose an interval of indefinite length, then it
plainly follows that the age of the Human Race, as set forth in the
Bible Genealogies, can afford no evidence against the Antiquity of the
Earth. The question is thus brought within very narrow limits. We have
simply to take up the First Chapter of Genesis, and inquire whether or
no it is there conveyed that the Creation of Man, which is described
toward the close of the chapter, followed after the lapse of only a few
days upon the Creation of the Heavens and the Earth, which is recorded
in the first verse.

For many centuries this question received but little attention from
the readers of the Bible. It was commonly assumed that, as the various
events of the Creation are traced out in rapid succession by the
Inspired Writer, and strung together into one continuous narrative, so
did they follow one another, in reality, with a corresponding rapidity,
and in the same unbroken continuity. The progress of Physical Science
had not yet shown any necessity for supposing a lengthened period of
time to have elapsed between the Creation of the World and the Creation
of Man: nor was there anything in the narrative itself to suggest such
an idea. Thus it was generally taken for granted, almost without
discussion, that when God had created the Heavens and the Earth in the
beginning, He _at once_ set about the work of arranging and furnishing
the universe, and fitting it up for the use of man; that He distributed
this work over a period of six ordinary days, and at the close of the
sixth day, introduced our First Parents upon the scene: and that,
therefore, the beginning of the Human Race was but six days later than
the beginning of the World.

These notions about the history of the Creation continued to prevail
almost down to our own time. It is to be observed, however, that they
were not founded on a close and scientific examination of the Sacred
Text. The hypothesis of a long and eventful state of existence prior to
the Creation of Man may be said rather to have been overlooked, than
to have been rejected, by our Commentators. There was no good reasons
for entertaining such a speculation, and so they said nothing about
it. But now that the world is ringing with the wonderful discoveries
of Geology, which seem to point more and more clearly every day to
the extreme Antiquity of the Earth, it becomes an imperative duty to
examine once again with all diligence and care the Inspired narrative
of the Creation, and to consider well the relation in which it stands
with this new dogma of Physical Science.

We are not the first to enter upon the inquiry. Already it has engaged
the attention and stimulated the industry of Theological writers
for more than half a century. Many eminent men, distinguished alike
for their extensive acquirements and for their religious zeal, have
protested warmly against the opinion of Geologists, concerning the
Antiquity of the Earth, as one that cannot be reconciled with the
historical accuracy of the Bible. But, on the other hand, there are
writers no less illustrious, and no less sincerely attached to the
cause of religion, who contend that there is nothing in the Sacred
Text to exclude the supposition of a long and indefinite interval--an
interval if necessary of many millions of years--between the first
creation of matter and the creation of man. Thirty years ago this
opinion was defended by Cardinal Wiseman with great learning, and
with great felicity of illustration, in his famous Lectures on the
Connection between Science and Revealed Religion. The eminent Roman
Jesuit, Father Perrone, has followed the same line of argument in his
Prælectiones Theologicæ, which, as every one knows, has long since
become a classic work in schools of Theology. It has been yet more
fully discussed, and supported by more elaborate reasoning, in a work
entitled Cosmogonia Naturale Comparata col Genesi, lately published in
Rome at the press of the Civiltà Cattolica, by another distinguished
Jesuit, John Baptist Pianciani. Amongst Protestant writers, too, this
view of the Mosaic narrative has found no inconsiderable number of able
advocates. It is defended by Doctor Buckland, the eminent Geologist,
in his celebrated Bridgewater Treatise, by Doctor Chalmers in his
Evidences of the Christian Revelation, by Doctor Pye Smith in his
dissertations on Geology and Scripture, by the eloquent and original
Hugh Miller in his interesting work on the Testimony of the Rocks; and
by a host of others scarcely less distinguished than these.

But these learned writers are not altogether of one accord as to the
precise point in the First Chapter of Genesis, at which we may suppose
a long interval of time to have intervened. Some, with Doctor Buckland,
Doctor Pye Smith, and Doctor Chalmers, consider that this interval may
best be introduced between the beginning of all time, when God created
the Heavens and the Earth, and the beginning of the First Day, when
He set about preparing the world as a dwelling-place for man. Sacred
Scripture, they say, simply records these two events, (1) that “In
the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth,” and (2) that,
at some subsequent time, “God said: Let there be light: and light
was made.” But Sacred Scripture does not tell us what length of time
elapsed between these two great acts of Divine Omnipotence. For aught
we know from Revelation, it may have been but a single day, or it may
have been a million of years. Others again, as for instance Pianciani,
prefer to suppose that each one of the Six Days may have been itself a
period of indefinite, nay of almost inconceivable duration. So that,
between the beginning of the world and the creation of man six great
ages of the Earth’s history may have rolled by, each one distinguished
by a new manifestation of God’s power, and the introduction of new
forms of life. These writers even fancy that they can discover a close
analogy between the successive acts of creation recorded in Genesis,
and the gradual development of organic life exhibited in the great
Epochs of Geology.

To us it seems that either one or the other of these two systems, or
both together, may be fairly admitted without any undue violence to the
text of the Inspired narrative: and this, we would observe in passing,
is the opinion to which Cardinal Wiseman appears to have inclined,
thirty years ago, in his Lectures on the Connection between Science and
Religion. We maintain, then, in the first place, that there is nothing
in the Mosaic narrative, when carefully examined, at variance with the
hypothesis of an indefinite interval between the creation of the world
and the work of the Six Days. And, in the second place, we contend that
it is quite consistent with the usage of Sacred Scripture to explain
these Days of Creation as long periods of time.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may appear, perhaps, to some of our readers that this is dangerous
ground on which we are about to venture. They may have been accustomed
all their lives to view the history of Creation through the medium
of those notions that commonly prevailed before the discoveries of
Geology: and from the influence of long association they may have
come, in the end, to regard their own interpretation with scarcely less
veneration than the Inspired Text itself. Such persons will naturally
be disposed to look upon our undertaking with disfavor and suspicion.
They will think us guilty of irreverence toward Holy Scripture when
we seek to modify our views about its meaning, in deference to the
conclusions of Physical Science; and they may be tempted even to charge
us with putting the idle interpretations of men into the balance
against the Inspired Word of God.

To this line of objection we would answer, that we cannot be guilty of
irreverence to the Holy Scripture, when we are only striving, with due
submission to the authority of the Church, to discover the true meaning
of an obscure and difficult passage, on which the Church has pronounced
no definite judgment. Nor can we be said to make light of the Word
of God, when we are but attempting to defend its unerring veracity
from the assaults of infidel writers. Furthermore we would add, that,
if it is a dangerous thing to modify the received interpretation of
certain parts of Scripture, when the progress of science enables us to
see physical phenomena under a new light, it is a far more dangerous
thing to persist in imputing to Scripture a doctrine that, in a very
short time, may be proved to be false, beyond the possibility of

These sentiments are not altogether our own. They have come to us, in
great part, from an illustrious Doctor of the Church; and we are glad,
at this early stage of our discussion, to be able to shelter our humble
efforts under the authority of his venerable name. It is now more than
fourteen centuries and a half since Saint Augustine set about the
literal interpretation of Genesis, which he accomplished in a Treatise
of twelve books. Toward the close of the first book he expatiates at
some length on the difficulty of his undertaking, and on the variety of
diverse interpretations, which prevailed even in his time. From this
he takes occasion to warn his readers that, “if we find anything in
Divine Scripture that may be variously explained without any injury to
faith, we should not rush headlong by positive assertion either to one
opinion or the other; lest, if perchance the opinion we have adopted
should afterward turn out to be false, our faith should fall with it;
and we should be found contending, not so much for the doctrine of the
Sacred Scriptures as for our own; endeavoring to make our doctrine
to be that of the Scriptures, instead of taking the doctrine of the
Scriptures to be ours.”[113] And a little further on he again exposes
the imprudence of such a proceeding, in words that cannot but be
considered peculiarly applicable to our present subject:--

“It often happens that one who is not a Christian hath some knowledge
derived from the clearest arguments or from the evidence of his senses
about the earth, about the heavens, about the other elements of this
world, about the movements and revolutions, or about the size and
distances of the stars, about certain eclipses of the sun and moon,
about the course of the years and the seasons, about the nature of
animals, plants, and minerals, and about other things of a like kind.
Now it is an unseemly and mischievous thing, and greatly to be avoided,
that a Christian man speaking on such matters, as if according to the
authority of Christian Scripture, should talk so foolishly that the
unbeliever, on hearing him, and observing the extravagance of his
error, should hardly be able to refrain from laughing. And the great
mischief is, not so much that the man himself is laughed at for his
errors, but that our authors are believed by people without the Church
to have taught such things, and so are condemned as unlearned, and
cast aside, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we are so
much concerned. For, when they find one belonging to the Christian
body falling into error on a subject with which they themselves are
thoroughly conversant, and when they see him, moreover, enforcing
his groundless opinion by the authority of our Sacred Books, how are
they likely to put trust in these Books about the resurrection of the
dead, and the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, having
already come to regard them as fallacious about those things they had
themselves learned from observation or from unquestionable evidence?
And, indeed, it were not easy to tell what trouble and sorrow some
rash and presumptuous men bring upon their prudent brethren, who, when
they are charged with a perverse and false opinion by those who do
not accept the authority of our Books, attempt to put forward these
same Holy Books in defence of that which they have lightly and falsely
asserted; sometimes even quoting from memory what they think will suit
their purpose, and putting forth many words, without well understanding
either what they say, or what they are talking about.”[114]

And many ages after, Saint Thomas, the great luminary of the schools,
appeals to this wise admonition of Saint Augustine, and applies it
to the circumstances of his own times. Writing about the work of
the Second Day, he says that “in questions of this sort there are
two things to be observed. First, that the truth of Scripture be
inviolably maintained. Secondly, since Scripture doth admit of diverse
interpretations, that we must not cling to any particular exposition
with such pertinacity, that if what we supposed to be the teaching of
Scripture should afterward turn out to be clearly false, we should
nevertheless still presume to put it forward; lest thereby we should
expose the Inspired Word of God to the derision of unbelievers, and
shut them out from the way of salvation.”[115]

Under the sanction of two such illustrious Saints and Doctors we
need not hesitate to proceed in our attempt to reconcile the Inspired
narrative of the Creation with the doctrine of the Antiquity of the
Earth, as set forth by the advocates of Geology. Let it be remembered,
however, that we do not undertake to prove the extreme Antiquity of
the Earth from the language of Scripture; but simply to show that
the language of Scripture leaves the Antiquity of the Earth an open
question. The Geologist holds that this Globe of ours has been in
existence for hundreds of thousands, perhaps for millions of years; and
our object is to show that, while maintaining this opinion, he may,
nevertheless, accept the historical truth of the Bible narrative.

As before explained, two points arise for discussion: first, can we
suppose an interval of indefinite length to have elapsed between the
Creation of the World, and the work of the Six Days? and secondly, is
it lawful to explain these Days in the sense of long periods? We shall
take these two questions in succession, dealing with each upon its own
merits; and if we fail to enforce conviction, we hope, at least, to
vindicate our right to toleration.





    _The heavens and the earth were created before the first Mosaic
    day--Objection from Exodus, xx. 9-11--Answer--Interpretation of
    the author supported by the best commentators--Confirmed by the
    Hebrew text--The early fathers commonly held the existence of
    created matter prior to the work of the Six Days--Saint Basil,
    Saint Chrysostom, Saint Ambrose, Venerable Bede--The most
    eminent doctors in the schools concurred in this opinion--Peter
    Lombard, Hugh of Saint Victor, Saint Thomas--Also commentators
    and theologians--Perrerius, Petavius--Distinguished names
    on the other side, A Lapide, Tostatus, Saint Augustine--The
    opinion is at least not at variance with the voice of
    tradition--This period of created existence may have been of
    indefinite length--And the earth may have been furnished then
    as now with countless tribes of plants and animals--Objections
    to this hypothesis proposed and explained._

The opening verses of the Mosaic history may be rendered thus literally
from the Hebrew Text:--

(1) “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.

(2) “And the Earth was waste and empty; and darkness was upon the face
of the deep; and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

(3) “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.

(4) “And God saw the light that it was good; and God divided the light
from the darkness.

(5) “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And the evening was, and the morning was, the first day.”

Now it appears to us that the great event with which this narrative
begins, the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, is not represented
as a part of the work that was accomplished within the Six Days. It
is not said that _on the first day_ God created the Heavens and the
Earth, but _in the beginning_. Besides, the Sacred writer, uniformly
throughout the chapter, employs one and the same peculiar phrase to
introduce the work of each successive day. In describing the operations
of God on the second day, he begins: “_And God said_, Let there be a
firmament in the midst of the waters:” on the third day, “_And God
said_, Let the waters that are under the Heavens be gathered together
into one place:” on the fourth, “_And God said_, Let there be lights
in the firmament of the Heavens to divide the day from the night:” on
the fifth, “_And God said_, Let the waters bring forth the creeping
thing having life:” on the sixth, “_And God said_, Let the earth bring
forth the living creature after its kind.” Hence, when we meet this
same phrase for the first time in the third verse, “_And God said_,
Let there be light,” we may reasonably suppose that the work of the
first day began with the decree which is set forth in these words. If
so it plainly follows that we may allow the existence of created matter
before that particular epoch of time which, in the language of Moses,
is styled the First Day: for, before the creation of light, the Heavens
and the Earth were already in existence, and the Earth was waste and
empty, and darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of
God moved upon the face of the waters.

An objection is sometimes raised from the words of God in the
promulgation of the third commandment:--“Six days shalt thou labor
and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord
thy God; thou shalt do no work on it.... For _in six days the Lord
made the Heavens and the Earth_ and the sea, and all that is in them,
and resteth the seventh day.”[116] It is argued that the creation of
the Heavens and the Earth is here set forth as a part of the work
accomplished within the Six Days; which is directly against our
opinion. This difficulty would be simply insurmountable, if it could be
proved that the text refers to that _first act of creation_ by which
the Heavens and the Earth were brought into existence out of nothing.
We think, however, that the phrase may fairly be understood to mean,
in six days the Lord _fashioned_ the Heavens and the Earth; that is to
say, gave to them that form and shape and outward character which they
now possess. In this sense the words would apply, not to the first act
of creation out of nothing, but rather to that subsequent series of
operations by which the Earth was fitted up and furnished for the use
of man.

And this interpretation is supported by the authority of our best
Commentators. Perrerius formally discusses the point, and maintains
that God may truly be said to have made the Heavens and the Earth in
Six Days, although the Heavens and the Earth, as far as regards their
substantial matter, had been created before the First Day: for it was
only within the Six Days that they were adorned and completed and
perfected. Tostatus is not less explicit. In this passage, he says, the
word _made_ is very properly employed; for the Heavens and the Earth
which are here referred to, and the other things that are included
under this general designation, were all _made from matter already
existing_, but this matter itself was not _made_, it was _created_.
Petavius also adopts this view in his remarks upon the fourth verse of
the second chapter of Genesis.[117]

We may add that this mode of explaining the passage receives no small
support from the Hebrew text. When it is said, in the first chapter
of Genesis, that “In the beginning God _created_ the Heavens and the
Earth,” the word used by the Sacred writer is ‏ברא (_Bara_), which
strictly means to create out of nothing; whereas, in describing the
operations of the Six Days, he commonly uses the word עשה (_Hasah_),
which means to _form_ and _fashion_, or to produce something out of
pre-existing materials.[118] Now, in the text of Exodus we find the
word עשה (_Hasah_), to _fashion_ or _produce_, and not the word ברא
(_Bara_), to _create_. We do not want to insist very rigorously upon
this distinction between the two words ברא (_Bara_) and עשה (_Hasah_),
nor would we deny that they are sometimes interchanged as regards their
meaning. We think they are related to one another pretty nearly as the
corresponding words to _create_ and to _make_ in English, and we know
that the distinction between these two words is not always strictly
observed. Thus, we sometimes say that God _made_ the world, meaning
that he brought it forth from nothing, and we speak of the _creation_
of peers; and Shakspeare says:--

    “Now is the time of help; your eye in Scotland
    Would _create_ soldiers, make our women fight
    To doff their dire distresses.”--_Macbeth_, Act iv., Sc. iii.

Nevertheless, when we compare two such passages as these:--“In the
beginning God _created_ the Heavens and the Earth,” and “In Six Days
the Lord _made_ the Heavens and the Earth and the sea, and all that in
them is,” we think the studied contrast of expression is a fair ground
for supposing that, while the one refers to the Divine decree by which
matter was first brought into existence out of nothing, the other may
be understood of those subsequent operations by which it received its
present form and shape.

We see no difficulty, then, as far as the Sacred Text is concerned,
in supposing a condition of created existence prior to the period of
the Six Days. But since this opinion is the foundation on which our
whole argument rests, we should wish to show, moreover, even at the
risk of being tedious, that it has been put forward and defended by
the most eminent writers in every age of the Church. Amongst the early
Fathers, Saint Basil reasons after this manner when commenting upon the
passage, “There was evening and there was morning the first day:”--“The
evening is the common term of day and night; and, in like manner, the
morning is the point of union between night and day. Wherefore, in
order to signify that to the day belonged the prerogative of being the
first begotten, the sacred writer first commemorates the close of day,
and afterward the close of night; implying thereby that _the day was
followed by the night_. As to the condition of the world _before the
formation of light_, that is not called Night, but simply Darkness;
whereas that period which is distinguished from day and opposed to it,
is called night.”[119] This great Doctor, therefore, teaches that the
First Day began with a period of light which is called day, and ended
with a period of darkness which is called night; and he recognizes a
previous state of existence which was no part of the First Day. So,
too, Saint Chrysostom, in his third Homily upon Genesis, lays down that
the Earth was first created a rude and shapeless mass, without form or
ornament; that _afterward_ light was made, and that, _with the creation
of light, the First Day began_.[120]

In the Western Church, Saint Ambrose adopts the same line of
interpretation. He sets forth that God first created the world, in the
beginning; and afterward during the Six Days furnished and adorned it;
just as a skilful workman first lays the foundation of a building,
and afterward raises the superstructure, and superadds the ornament.
And elsewhere, he says that, when the voice of God went forth, “Let
light be made,” in the same moment the First Day began. It follows,
therefore, that the world existed before the beginning of the First
Day. In another place he gives a new turn to the same idea, telling
us that in the beginning God made the world; and with the world, time
began. But not with time did the First Day begin: for the First Day is
not the beginning of time, it is rather an epoch of time.[121]

Passing on to the middle ages, we find our view supported by the
authority of Venerable Bede, in several parts of his writings. His
notion is that, during the Six Days, God formed and fashioned the
world out of shapeless matter; but, before the Six Days began, He
had made this shapeless matter itself out of nothing. “Two things,”
he says, “did God make before all days, the angelical nature, and
shapeless matter.” And again, he dresses up this opinion in the form
of a dialogue:--“_Disciple._ Tell me the order in which things were
made throughout the Six Days? _Master._ First, in the very beginning
of created existence, were made heaven and earth, the angels, air, and
water. _Disciple._ Continue the order of creation? _Master. In the
beginning of the First Day_ light was made; on the second was made the
firmament,” etc.[122] Nothing can be more plain than the distinction
here set up between the beginning of all time, when the Heavens and the
Earth were made, and the beginning of the First Day, when light was

And when we come to still more recent times, we find this
interpretation was taken up and defended by the great masters in the
schools of Theology. Peter Lombard, the famous Magister Sententiarum,
referring to the first verse of Genesis, says that “in the beginning
God created Heaven, which means the Angels, and the Earth, which means
confused and unshapely matter, the same that is called Chaos by the
Greeks; _and this was before any day_.” Not less clearly speaks out
Hugh of Saint Victor, who for his profound and varied erudition, was
called the second Augustine. In explaining the history of the Six Days,
he says: “The first of the Divine operations was the creation of light.
But the light was not then created from nothing, it was formed from
pre-existing matter. This was the work that was accomplished on the
First Day: but the material of this work had been created _before the
First Day_. Directly with the light the day began; for before the light
it was neither night or day, though time already existed.”[123]

Later still, St. Thomas himself clearly leans to this view when he
says: “It is better to maintain that the creation was before any day.”
And Perrerius, the most learned, perhaps, of all our commentators
on Genesis, argues with us that the world was created before the
production of light, and before the commencement of the First Day. Nay,
he adds that he cannot tell how long that primeval state of existence
may have endured before the Six Days began; nor does he think it can
be known except by a special revelation. Petavius, too, is with us.
He does not indeed accept our interpretation of the first verse. When
it is said, “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth,”
he holds that these words do not describe any one particular act of
God, but represent, as it were in a brief summary, the whole work
of creation. Thus we are informed, at the outset, that the Heavens
and the Earth as we see them now are the work of God; and afterward,
the various parts that make up this great whole are described, and
the order in which they were accomplished is set forth. According to
Petavius, then, the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, recorded in
the first verse, was not a distinct act from the operations of the Six
Days, but rather includes them all. Nevertheless, he maintains, as we
do, that the earth, at least, and water, were in existence before the
creation of light; and that, therefore, some period of time must have
elapsed before the beginning of the Six Days. Furthermore, he says in
the same spirit as Perrerius, that it is beyond our power to conjecture
how long that period may have lasted.[124]

Our opinion, then, is not open, in the slightest degree, to the
imputation of novelty or singularity. On the contrary, it would seem
rather to reflect the prevailing tradition of the Church. We think
it right, however, to add that there are great names against us. A
Lapide, for instance, who considers that the Heavens and the Earth
were created at the beginning of the First Day.[125] And Tostatus, who
incidentally notices our view, and contents himself with saying that it
is unreasonable. For himself he seems to waver between two opinions. He
thinks the primeval darkness, described in the second verse, may have
been the night belonging to the First Day; and that during that night,
which probably lasted about twelve hours, we may suppose the Heavens
and the Earth to have been created. Or else, he says, we may allow that
the First Day of the Mosaic narrative began with the creation of light;
but in that case we must hold that the Heavens and the Earth were
created at the same time with light.[126]

Saint Augustine, too, we must reluctantly give up; or, at least, we
must be content to regard him as neutral. If he is not a decided
opponent, he is certainly not a consistent advocate, of our opinion.
No doubt he is often quoted in its favor; and it would be easy to
select passages from his works which seem to enforce it in the plainest
terms. As for example: “In the beginning, O my God, _before any day_,
Thou didst make the Heavens and the Earth.”[127] But, in truth, this
opinion is utterly irreconcilable with the well known and very singular
teaching of Saint Augustine concerning the creation of the world.
He held that all the great works recounted in the first chapter of
Genesis were, in fact, accomplished in a single instant. There was no
real succession, according to him, in the order of time, between the
production of the Heavens and the Earth, of light and the firmament,
of the sun, moon, and stars, of plants, trees, and animals. In one and
the same instant of time all these came into existence together. As to
the description given by Moses, it is accommodated to the capacity of
a rude people; and the succession there set forth is intended only to
exhibit the several parts of a great whole, in the manner best suited
to the conceptions of human intelligence.[128]

This view of the creation is repeated again and again by Saint
Augustine in his numerous works upon Genesis, and illustrated in
diverse ways, so as to leave no doubt that he held it deliberately
and persistently. With regard to such passages as that quoted above,
in which he says that God created the Heavens and the Earth _before
any day_, it may be maintained that Saint Augustine was not always
consistent with himself, and that he held different opinions at
different times; or even that he put forward opposite opinions at the
same time, not setting them forth as true, but only as possible and

We think, however, that his consistency, in this case at least, can be
defended, and that he has himself sufficiently explained in what sense
he wished these passages to be understood. He tells us that we must
distinguish two kinds of succession: succession in the order of time,
and succession in the order of our conceptions. Thus, for example,
in the order of time there is no succession between the sound of the
voice in singing and the musical note that is sung: the sound is, in
fact, the note, and the note is the sound. But in the order of our
conceptions we first apprehend a thing according to its substance, and
then according to its qualities. We first conceive the sound itself, as
a sound, and then we conceive it as having that peculiar quality which
makes it a musical note. Such as this is the succession Saint Augustine
seems to admit in the order of the creation. He tells us, no doubt,
that God first created shapeless matter, and afterward gave to it form
and beauty: and certainly this statement, if standing alone, would,
according to the ordinary use of language, imply a real succession
in the order of time. But then, a little further on, he expressly
repudiates the idea of a succession in point of time, and says that
the priority he ascribes to shapeless matter is only a priority in
the order of our conceptions. We must first conceive matter to exist
before we can conceive it to have this or that particular form; and the
Inspired Writer follows the order of our conceptions, in order to adapt
his narrative to the mental feebleness of our present condition.[130]

With the truth or falsehood of these views we are not concerned just
now. We have dwelt upon them rather from an honest desire of showing
that Saint Augustine is not so clearly on our side in this question,
as might be supposed from some isolated passages of his writings. He
says indeed that the world was created before light, and before the
beginning of the First Day; but then again he tells us that this is
only a way of speaking, and that, in reality, all things were created

But although these high authorities--A Lapide, Tostatus, Saint
Augustine--and some others less illustrious than these, are unfavorable
to our interpretation, we think it is supported by a preponderance of
the best interpreters, both in ancient and modern times. At all events,
with such an array of venerable names as we have been able to bring
forward in its behalf,--and they are but a few chosen out of many,--no
one can deny that we are fairly entitled to hold it without any note of
censure, without any suspicion of Theological error. Setting out, then,
from this point, that there was a state of created existence prior to
the Six Days of the Mosaic history, the question naturally arises, how
long did that state of existence endure? Was it for an hour? a day?
a week? a month? a century? a million of years? We cannot tell. To
these questions the Sacred Text gives no reply. It simply records that
in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, and that, at
some subsequent epoch of time, His decree again went forth, Let there
be light, and light there was. One thing, however, is plain, that, if
this period existed at all, it might just as well have lasted a hundred
millions of years as a hundred seconds. It would be folly to attempt to
measure the succession of God’s acts, when he does please to produce
effects in succession, according to our petty standards of time. “One
day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one

And it is not a little remarkable that, long before the discoveries of
Geology had suggested any necessity for allowing the lapse of many ages
between the first creation of the world and the creation of man, the
sagacity of our commentators led them to observe that the duration of
this interval is left undefined in the Sacred Record. “How long that
interval may have lasted,” says Petavius, “it is absolutely impossible
to conjecture.” And Perrerius, as we have seen, declared that it
could not be known except by a special revelation. And five centuries
earlier, at the very dawn of Scholastic Theology, Hugh of Saint Victor
raised the same question, and expressed his opinion that it could not
be solved from Scripture. Citing the passage, In the beginning God
created the Heavens and the Earth, he says, “From these words it is
plain that in the beginning of time, or rather with time itself, the
original matter of all things came into existence. But how long it
remained in this confused and unshapely condition the Scripture clearly
does not tell us.”[132]

We may go further still. If we are at liberty to admit an interval of
indefinite length between the creation of the world and the work of the
Six Days, there is certainly nothing which forbids us to suppose that,
during this period, the earth should have undergone many revolutions,
and have been peopled by countless tribes of plants and animals, which,
as age rolled on after age, came into existence, and died out, and
were succeeded by new creations. We cannot, perhaps, see the use of
all this, nor can we penetrate the motives the Great Creator might
have had in bringing into existence such a boundless profusion of
organic life. Granted: but then we have studied the Sacred Text to
little purpose if we have not yet realized the solemn truth that, to
our poor and feeble intellects, His judgments are incomprehensible,
and his ways unsearchable. Did He not set His stars in the remotest
regions of space, far beyond the reach of unaided human vision, and did
they not shine there for ages, though man could see them not? And for
ages, too, did not the wild flowers spring up, and bloom, and decay, in
many a fair and favored spot of this beautiful Earth, where there was
none to admire their splendor, none to inhale their sweetness? Then
again, look at that marvellous kingdom of minute animalcules, in number
almost infinite, which only within the last few years the microscope
has revealed to our wondering eyes. They swarm around us in the air,
in the earth, in the water. Millions of them would fit in the hollow
of your hand; many hundreds might swim side by side, without crowding,
through the eye of a cambric needle. And they too, we can hardly doubt,
must have flourished for centuries in countless myriads, unseen and
unknown by man. It is impossible for us, in our present imperfect
state, to understand the motives of an All-wise Creator in this profuse
expenditure of his goodness, this lavish display of His power. How
then can we presume to say that He may not have good reasons, though
inscrutable to us, for peopling this Earth with many tribes of plants
and animals, through a long cycle of ages, before it pleased Him to fit
it up for the habitation of man? “Who is he among men that can know
the counsel of God? or who can find out His designs? For the judgments
of mortal men are hesitating, and uncertain are our thoughts. For the
corruptible body is a load upon the soul, and the earthly dwelling
presseth down the mind that museth upon many things. And hardly do we
guess aright at things that are upon earth: and with labor do we find
the things that are before us. But the things that are in heaven who
shall search out?”[133]

We have heard it sometimes objected that plants and animals could
not have existed without light; and that light was not created until
the beginning of the First Mosaic Day. Many curious and interesting
facts are adduced in support of this argument. For example, we are
reminded that certain Fossil animals belonging to the earliest
Geological Periods, are shown by the clearest evidence, to have had
eyes constructed on the same optical principles, and accommodated to
the same optical conditions, as the eyes of those animals that have
flourished on the Earth during the period of history: and such eyes,
it is contended, plainly import the existence of light. The answer to
this objection may be stated in a very few words. We freely admit that
the hypothesis we have been defending would be of little use to account
for Geological phenomena, if it did not include the existence of light,
during that Period of indefinite duration which we suppose to have
elapsed between the first creation of the world and the work of the Six
Days. But in truth there is no difficulty in supposing that, during
such an interval, light may have prevailed upon the earth, and air, and
all the other conditions of organic life, pretty much as they do at
the present day. Afterward, at the close of the period, when, perhaps,
ages innumerable had rolled by, this planet of ours would have appeared
in that condition which is described in the second verse of Genesis:
“And the earth was waste and empty, and darkness was upon the face of
the deep.” Then the command of God would have gone forth, “Let there
be light:” and at once the darkness would have been dispelled, a new
era of existence would have commenced, and the Earth would forthwith
have been set in order and furnished, in a special manner, for the
habitation of man.

Even as regards the Sun, Moon, and Stars, they too may have existed
before the work of the Six Days began. We read, no doubt, that on the
Fourth Day, God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the
heavens to divide the day from the night:” and a little farther on it
is added that “God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the
day, and the lesser light to rule the night; and the stars.” But then
it must be remembered that some of our best Commentators, without any
reference to Geology, have taught that, before this command was given,
the heavenly bodies were already in existence for three days, and were
already discharging the office of dividing day and night. They explain
the passage by saying that the Sun, Moon, and Stars, are represented
as having been made on the Fourth Day, not because they were then
produced for the first time out of nothing, but because the vapors by
which they had been obscured were, on that Day, dissipated, and they
began to shine visibly in the Firmament of Heaven. If this line of
interpretation is admissible, and it seems to us not unreasonable,
then we are certainly at liberty to hold, consistently with the Mosaic
narrative, that the Heavenly bodies may have been created with the
Heavens and the Earth in the beginning of all time; and that on the
Fourth Day they were made manifest in the Firmament to rule over the
day and the night, and to regulate the course of the years and the

Again it is urged against our hypothesis that Moses could not have
passed over in complete silence such a long and eventful era in the
history of the world. Certainly not, we admit, if he professed to
write a complete history of the Earth and all its revolutions. But
this was not his purpose. Every book, whether sacred or profane, must
be examined and interpreted according to the end for which it was
designed. Now the end and scope of the Book of Genesis was not to
instruct mankind about the movements of the heavenly bodies, or the
physical changes of the Earth’s surface, or the laws which govern the
material universe. It was, first of all, to impress on the minds of
the Jewish people that this world of ours is the work of one only God,
distinct from all creatures, and Himself the Creator of sun, moon,
and stars, and of every other object which pagan nations were wont to
worship: and in the next place, to set forth, briefly and simply, the
story of God’s dealings with man in the first ages of the human race.
Whatever we may hold, therefore, about the revolutions and changes of
the Earth’s surface previous to the work of the Six Days, it is plain
that the history of these phenomena did not appertain to the object
which the Sacred writer had in view. Consequently he cannot be said, by
the omission of these events, to lead his readers into error; he simply
allows them to remain in ignorance. What it was his purpose to tell,
he tells truly: what did not belong to his purpose, he passes by in

But it is further argued that this long interval of time we have
been contending for, is incompatible with the use of the copulative
conjunction, by which the several clauses of the narrative are
connected together. The Sacred text runs thus:--“In the beginning God
created the Heavens and the Earth. _And_ the Earth was waste and empty:
and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God moved
upon the face of the waters. _And_ God said, Let there be light; and
there was light.” Is it possible, we are asked, to admit a period of
indefinite length between events thus closely linked together? Our
answer is that, according to the idiom of the Hebrew language, the
conjunction וְ or וָ (_ve_ or _va_), which is here employed, while it
serves to connect together the clauses of a narrative, does not of
necessity imply the immediate succession of the events recorded. The
very wide and indefinite signification which belongs to this little
particle is well known to all who are familiar with the Hebrew text. It
is sometimes copulative, sometimes adversative, sometimes disjunctive,
sometimes causal. Very frequently it is used simply for the purpose of
_continuing the discourse_;[135] and this we believe is the true force
of the word in the passage under discussion.

An example very much to the point occurs in the Book of Numbers,
twentieth chapter and first verse:--“_And_ the children of Israel, the
whole congregation came into the desert of Sin.” Here the narrative
opens with the connecting particle ויבואו בני ישראל כל העדה—:ו. And
yet the reader will find, if he carefully examine the passage, that
the event thus introduced by the sacred writer was separated by a
period of eight-and-thirty years from those which had been related in
the preרceding chapter. This conjunction, therefore, does not exclude
an interval of eight-and-thirty years between the events which it
links together in history. And that being so, there is no good reason
for supposing that it should, of necessity, exclude an interval of
indefinite length.

The Weakness of this objection may be made even more strikingly
manifest by an inspection of the opening words in the first chapter
of Ezechiel:—ריהי בשלשים שנה. So little did the notion prevail that
the conjunction ו (_ve_) could be used only to connect together events
closely associated in point of time, that here it actually _begins_ the
narrative, and is, in fact, the first word of the whole book. In the
Douay version the passage is not inaptly rendered after this manner:
“Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the
fifth day of the month, when I was in the midst of the captives by the
River Chobar, the heavens were opened, and I saw the visions of God.”

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now brought to a conclusion the first part of our inquiry.
We have endeavored to show that there is nothing in Scripture or
Tradition which forbids us to admit a long interval of time between
the Creation of the world and the work of the Six Days. It remains to
examine what was the nature of these Six Days themselves. Were they, as
Saint Augustine maintained, one single indivisible instant of time? or
were they days of twenty-four hours, as is more commonly supposed? or
were they simply periods of time of which the duration is left wholly
undetermined in the Sacred Text?





    _Diversity of opinion among the early fathers regarding the
    days of creation--Saint Augustine, Philo Judæus, Clement
    of Alexandria, Origen, Saint Athanasius, Saint Eucherius,
    Procopius--Albertus Magnus, Saint Thomas, Cardinal
    Cajetan--Inference from these testimonies--First argument in
    favor of the popular interpretation; a day, in the literal
    sense, means a period of twenty-four hours--Answer--This word
    often used in Scripture for an indefinite period--Examples
    from the Old and New Testament--Second argument; the days of
    creation have an evening and a morning--Answer--Interpretation
    of Saint Augustine, Venerable Bede, and other fathers of the
    church--Third argument; the reason alleged for the institution
    of the Sabbath-day--Answer--The law of the Sabbath extended to
    every seventh year as well as to every seventh day--The seventh
    day of God’s rest a long period of indefinite duration._

No one who will take the trouble to investigate, with any reasonable
diligence and research, the nature of the Mosaic Days, can fail to be
struck with the remarkable diversity of opinion that existed on the
subject among the early Fathers of the Church. Yet this diversity of
opinion is often overlooked by modern writers. They fancy that the
meaning of the word Day is so plain as to leave no room for doubt
or controversy; that a day can be nothing else than a period of
twenty-four hours, marked by the succession of light and darkness; and
that in this sense the Mosaic narrative was universally understood
until quite recently, when a new explanation was invented, to meet the
requirements of modern science. All this is far from true. The meaning
of the Mosaic Days has been, in point of fact, a subject of controversy
from the earliest times. And Saint Augustine tells us that the question
appeared to him so difficult that he could pronounce no decisive
judgment upon it. “As to these Days,” he says, “what kind they were, it
is very difficult, nay, it is impossible to imagine, and much more so
to explain.”[136]

Nevertheless, this great Doctor, having long pondered over the subject,
and considered it on many sides, does not hesitate to express his own
opinion. And he departs very widely, indeed, from the literal and
obvious interpretation. He maintains, at great length,[137] as we had
before occasion to observe, that God created all things in a single
instant of time, according to the words of Ecclesiasticus, “He who
liveth forever created all things at once.”[138] Thus he is led to
infer that the Six Days commemorated by Moses were, in reality, but one
day; and this not such a day as those which are now measured by the
revolution of the sun, for we find three successive days recorded by
Moses before the sun appeared in the Heavens. It was, in fact, nothing
else than that one single instant of time in which all things were
created together.[139]

Nor was this opinion peculiar to Saint Augustine. At the very dawn of
the Christian Era it was set forth by Philo the Jew; and afterward it
was maintained by Clement of Alexandria, and by Origen. The great Saint
Athanasius seems to throw the weight of his authority in the same
direction, when he says, speaking of the Creation, that “no one thing
was made before another, but all things were produced at once together
by the self-same command.” And after the time of Saint Augustine this
figurative interpretation was defended by Saint Eucherius, Bishop
of Lyons, in the course of the fifth century, and by Procopius of
Gaza in the sixth. In the days of the schools we find it approved by
Albertus Magnus, and treated respectfully by Saint Thomas; and later
still, adopted by Cardinal Cajetan, in his commentary on the Book of

It will be said, perhaps, that we are here arguing against ourselves:
these eminent writers are in favor of reducing the days of Creation to
one single point of time; whereas it is our purpose to stretch them
out to periods of indefinite length. But no: our object just now is
not precisely to establish our own hypothesis, but rather to prepare
the way for its discussion. We want to show that we are quite free to
abandon the popular view of the Mosaic Days if there be good reason for
our doing so. And it seems to us that we have abundantly established
this point by a long list of eminent ecclesiastical writers, who,
without any note of censure, have diverged very widely from the common
interpretation. No doubt they have shortened the time, and we want to
lengthen it. But in this they agree with us, that the days of Creation
are not of necessity days in the ordinary sense of the word. Nay, Saint
Augustine goes farther, and maintains, from the evidence of the Sacred
Text itself, that they cannot be understood in this sense.[141]

Having thus cleared away a serious difficulty that seemed to obstruct
our path, we may proceed without hesitation to the direct object of
our inquiry. The burden of proof, let it be remembered, is not with
us, but rather with those who contend for Days of twenty-four hours.
They must prove that this word Day in the first chapter of Genesis
means a period of twenty-four hours, and _can mean nothing else_. If it
_may_ be understood in a wider sense, consistently with the usage of
Scripture, that is quite enough for us. We are perfectly at liberty to
adopt an interpretation which, on the one hand, the Sacred Text fairly
admits, and on the other, the discoveries of Natural Science would seem
to demand. Let us examine, then, the arguments that are usually adduced
in favor of the popular interpretation.

Throughout the first chapter of Genesis the Hebrew word יוֺם (_yom_)
is everywhere employed by Moses to designate the Days of Creation.
And many writers contend that the use of this word is, in itself,
evidence enough that he spoke of days in the common sense of the term.
It is plain, they say, from the usage of Scripture, that the word יוֺם
(_yom_) had a fixed and certain meaning in the Hebrew language; the
same precisely as that which we now attach to the English word Day.
Sometimes, when contra-distinguished from night, it was applied to
the period of light, from sunrise to sunset; otherwise, it meant the
civil day of twenty-four hours, measured by the revolution of the Sun.
Moreover, it had unquestionably attained this meaning at the time when
Moses wrote, and therefore it could not have been employed by him in
any other sense.

This argument rests upon a false foundation. It is true, no doubt,
that the word יוֺם (_yom_) was more usually employed in one or other
of the two senses just explained;--that is to say, (1) for the period
of light from sunrise to sunset, or (2) for the period of twenty-four
hours corresponding to a complete revolution of the Sun. But, for the
validity of the argument, it would be necessary to show that, beside
these two senses, there is no other in which the word may be fairly
understood, conformably to the usage of the Hebrew language. Now this
has never yet been proved. On the contrary, the Scripture affords
abundant evidence that the word יוֺם (_yom_) had a third meaning quite
different from the other two; that it was freely used to designate
a period of time much longer than a common day, and generally of
uncertain and indefinite duration. A few examples will be interesting,
we hope, to our readers.

In the second chapter of Genesis, Moses, having completed his account
of the Creation, says (v. 4): “These are the generations of the Heavens
and the Earth when they were created, in the _Day_ יוֺם, (_yom_) that
the Lord God created the Earth and the Heavens: (v. 5), and every
plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the
field before it grew.” There is a good deal of controversy about the
precise meaning of this passage. But one thing at least appears to be
plain, that the word יוֺם (_yom_), is not used to designate a day of
twenty-four hours; nor yet the period of light from sunrise to sunset;
but rather the whole period of the Creation.

On this point almost all our best commentators are agreed. “It is
manifest,” says Venerable Bede, “that in this place the sacred writer
has put the word Day for all that time during which the primeval
creation was brought into existence. For it was not upon any one of
the Six Days that the sky was made and adorned with stars, and the
dry land was separated from the waters, and furnished with trees and
plants. But, _according to its accustomed practice_, Scripture here
uses the word day in the sense of time.” Saint Augustine gives even a
wider expansion to the word when he writes: “Seven Days are enumerated
above, and now that is called one Day in which God made the Heavens
and the Earth, and every green thing of the field; by which term we
may well suppose that _all time is meant_. For God then made all time
when He made creatures that live in time; and these creatures are
here signified by the Heavens and the Earth.” Molina on the same
passage says: “Learned writers tell us commonly that Moses in this
place puts the word Day in the sense of Time, just as in the passage
of Deuteronomy, ‘The day of perdition is at hand.’... And elsewhere in
Scripture Day is often used for Time.” Bannez, too, concurs in this
opinion. “The word Day,” he says, “can be understood _for any duration
whatsoever_.” Perrerius, answering an objection taken from this text,
says that “Day is put for Time, as is _frequently done in Scripture_.”
And Petavius not only adopts this interpretation, but contends that it
is conformable to the usage even of the Greek and Latin writers. He
gives an example from Cicero against Verres: “Itaque cum ego _diem_ in
Siciliam perexiguam postulavissem, invenit iste qui sibi in Achaiam
_biduo breviorem diem_ postularet.”[142] Here, then, is an instance in
which Moses himself uses the word Day (יוֺם, _yom_) not in the ordinary
sense, but for a long period of time;--for all that time, whatever it
may have been, which elapsed from the first act of creation to the
close of the Six Days.

Another striking example occurs in the prophet Amos. “Behold, the days
are coming, saith the Lord God, and I will send forth a famine into
the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing
the word of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea and from
the north to the east; they shall go about seeking the word of the
Lord, and shall not find it. In that _day_ (יוֺם, _yom_) shall the fair
virgins and the young men faint for thirst.”[143] Every one will see
at a glance that the word Day in the latter part of this passage does
not mean a day of twenty-four hours. It evidently refers to the whole
period during which the calamities here foretold were to be inflicted
on the Jewish people. What that period was may be a question of
dispute. By some it is taken for the time of the Babylonian captivity;
by others, for the present age of the world, in which the Jews are
wanderers on the face of the earth, without a prophet and without a
pastor, thirsting for the word of God, and seeking it in vain. But, in
any case, it is clear from the opening words: “Behold, the days are
coming,” that it was a period not of one day only, but of many.

Then we have those well known words addressed by God the Father to His
Eternal Son: “Thou art my Son, this _day_ (יוֺם, _yom_) have I begotten
thee.”[144] The Son of God was begotten of the Father before all ages;
and the _day_, therefore, on which he was begotten, cannot be a common
day of twenty-four hours, but must rather be the long day of Eternity,
without beginning and without end.

This text, we know, is sometimes applied to the day of our Lord’s
Resurrection; and sometimes, too, to the day of His Incarnation:
nor do we want to deny that it may be thus rightly explained in a
secondary and mystical sense. But in its literal sense we think it
plainly refers to the Eternal Generation of the Son. This meaning is
sufficiently implied by the word _begotten_, which cannot be understood
with propriety, except of that Generation by virtue of which our Divine
Lord was from Eternity the natural Son of God. Moreover, this is the
sense in which the passage is adopted by Saint Paul in his Epistle to
the Hebrews. Wishing to show that Our Lord has received by inheritance
a name more excellent than any given to the Angels, he argues thus:
“For to which of the Angels hath he said at any time, Thou art my Son,
this day have I begotten thee?”[145] Now it seems to us that, unless
we understand these words of the Eternal Generation, the point of
the Apostle’s argument is completely lost. The Angels are sometimes
called in Scripture the sons of God; but they were only the _adopted
sons_, whereas Our Lord was the _natural Son_ in virtue of His Eternal
Generation. Consequently it was no other than the Eternal Generation
which made the name of Son more excellent when applied to Christ than
the same name when applied to the angels.

Again, it is quite a common thing, with the prophets generally, to use
the word (יוֺם, yom) for the season of tribulation and affliction,
though the same may have extended over a period of many days or even
many years. Jeremias employs it in this sense when he describes so
vividly the manifold calamities that were impending over the ill-fated
Babylon. “I have caused thee to fall into a snare, and thou art taken,
O Babylon, and thou wast not aware of it: thou art found and caught
because thou hast provoked the Lord. The Lord hath opened His armory,
and hath brought forth the weapons of his wrath: for the Lord the God
of hosts hath a work to be done in the land of the Chaldeans. Come ye
against her from the uttermost borders: open, that they may go forth
that shall tread her down: take the stones out of the way, and make
heaps, and destroy her: and let nothing of her be left. Destroy all
her valiant men, let them go down to the slaughter: woe to them, for
their _day_ (יוֺם, yom) is come, _the time_ of their visitation. The
voice of them that flee, and of them that have escaped out of the
land of Babylon: to declare in Sion the revenge of the Lord our God,
the revenge of His temple. Declare to many against Babylon, to all
that bend the bow: stand together against her round about, and let
none escape; pay her according to her work: according to all that she
hath done, do ye to her: for she hath lifted up herself against the
Lord, against the Holy One of Israel. Therefore shall her young men
fall in her streets: and all her men of war shall hold their peace in
that _day_ (םךׄר, _yom_), saith the Lord. Behold I come against thee,
O proud one, saith the Lord the God of hosts: for the _day_ (םךׄר,
_yom_) is come, the _time_ of thy visitation. And the proud one shall
fall, he shall fall down, and there shall be none to lift him up: and
I will kindle afire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about
him.”[146] And in the following chapter:--“Thus saith the Lord: Behold,
I will raise up as it were a pestilential wind against Babylon, and
against the inhabitants thereof who have lifted up their heart against
me. And I will send to Babylon fanners, and they shall fan her, and
shall destroy her land: for they are come upon her on every side in the
_day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) of her affliction.”[147]

In another place the same prophet applies the word םךׄר (_yom_) to the
whole duration of a long campaign carried on by Nabuchodonosor against
Pharao Nechao, king of Egypt. “Prepare ye the shield and buckler, and
go forth to battle. Harness the horses, and get up, ye horsemen: stand
forth with helmets, furbish the spears, put on coats of mail. What
then? I have seen them dismayed, and turning their backs, their valiant
ones slain: they fled apace, they looked not back: terror was round
about, saith the Lord. Let not the swift flee away, nor the strong
think to escape: they are overthrown and fallen down, toward the north
by the river Euphrates. Who is this that cometh up as a flood: and
his streams swell like those of rivers? Egypt riseth up like a flood,
and the waves thereof shall be moved as rivers, and he shall say: I
will go up and will cover the earth: I will destroy the city and its
inhabitants. Get ye up on horses, and glory in chariots, and let the
valiant men come forth, the Ethiopians and the Lybians, that handle the
shield, and the Lydians that handle and bend the bow. For this is the
_day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) of the Lord the God of hosts, a _day_ of vengeance
that He may revenge Himself of His enemies: the sword shall devour,
and shall be filled, and shall be drunk with their blood: for there
is a sacrifice of the Lord God of hosts in the north country, by the
river Euphrates.... Furnish thyself to go into captivity, thou daughter
inhabitant of Egypt: for Memphis shall be made desolate, and shall be
forsaken and uninhabited. Egypt is like a fair and beautiful heifer:
there shall come from the north one that shall goad her. Her hirelings
also that lived in the midst of her, like fatted calves are turned
back, and are fled away together, and they could not stand: for the
_day_(םךׄר, _yom_) of their slaughter is come upon them, the _time_ of
their visitation.”[148]

The prophet Ezechiel, too, furnishes a forcible illustration when
he thus foreshadows the course of a second expedition against Egypt
undertaken by the same prince:-- “Therefore thus saith the Lord God:
Behold I will set Nabuchodonosor the king of Babylon in the land of
Egypt: and he shall take her multitude, and take the booty thereof for
a prey, and rifle the spoils thereof: and it shall be wages for his
army; and for the service he hath done me against it: I have given
him the land of Egypt, because he hath labored for me, saith the Lord
God. In that _day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) a horn shall bud forth for the house
of Israel, and I will give thee an open mouth in the midst of them:
and they shall know that I am the Lord.”[149] And a little further
on:--“For the _day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) is near, yea the _day_ of the Lord
is near: a cloudy _day_, it shall be the _time_ of the nations. And
the sword shall come upon Egypt: and there shall be dread in Ethiopia,
when the wounded shall fall in Egypt, and the multitude thereof shall
be taken away, and the foundations thereof shall be destroyed. Ethiopia
and Lybia, and Lydia, and all the rest of the crowd, and Chub, and
the children of the land of the covenant, shall fall with them by the
sword.... And they shall know that I am the Lord: when I shall have
set a fire in Egypt, and all the helpers thereof shall be destroyed.
In that _day_ (םךׄר, _yom_), shall messengers go forth from my face in
ships to destroy the confidence of Ethiopia, and there shall be dread
among them in that _day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) of Egypt: because it shall
certainly come.”[150]

Once more, this word is applied to the period of Our Lord’s life
upon earth, and even to the whole duration of the Christian Church.
Sophonias, for example, thus foretells the coming of the kingdom
of Christ. “Wherefore expect me, saith the Lord, in the day of my
resurrection that is to come, for my judgment is to assemble the
Gentiles, and to gather the kingdoms.... From beyond the rivers of
Ethiopia shall my suppliants, the children of my dispersed people,
bring me an offering. In that _day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) thou shalt not be
ashamed for all thy doings, wherein thou hast transgressed against me:
for then I will take away out of the midst of thee thy proud boasters,
and thou shalt no more be lifted up because of my holy mountain....
Give praise, O daughter of Sion: shout, O Israel: be glad and rejoice
with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem. The Lord hath taken away
thy judgment, he hath turned away thy enemies: the King of Israel the
Lord is in the midst of thee, thou shalt fear evil no more. In that
_day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not; to Sion:
Let not thy hands be weakened. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is
mighty, He will save: He will rejoice over thee with gladness, He will
be silent in His love, He will be joyful over thee in praise.”[151]

And Isaias: “Is it not yet a very little while, and Libanon shall be
turned into a charmel, and charmel shall be esteemed as a forest? And
in that _day_ (םךׄר, _yom_) the deaf shall hear the words of the book,
and out of darkness and obscurity the eyes of the blind shall see. And
the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor men shall
rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”[152] That this passage refers to
the time of the Christian Church there can be no doubt; for our Lord
himself appeals to it in proof of His divine mission: “Go and relate to
John what you have heard and seen. The blind see, the lame walk, the
lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead rise again, the poor have
the Gospel preached to them.”[153]

We may trace this use of the word even in the New Testament. Our Lord
says, arguing with the Jews: “Abraham your father rejoiced that he
might see my _day_: he saw it and was glad.”[154] Saint Paul, too,
though writing in the Greek language to the Corinthians, does not
hesitate to adopt a passage from Isaias, in which the same meaning is
conspicuously brought out: “And we helping do exhort you, that you
receive not the grace of God in vain. For he saith: In an accepted
time have I heard thee, and in the _day_ of salvation have I helped
thee. Behold, now is the _acceptable time_: behold, now is the _day of
salvation_.”[155] And finally, Our Divine Lord, in His last touching
address to the city of Jerusalem, applies the word _day_ to the season
of grace and mercy: “When he drew near, seeing the city, He wept over
it, saying: If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy _day_,
the things that are to thy peace: but now they are hidden from thy
eyes. For the days shall come upon thee; and thy enemies shall cast a
trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every

So much, then, for the first argument. From the numerous examples we
have given it is plain enough that the word word יוֺם (_yom), in
Scripture language, was often used for a period of many days, and even
many years; nay sometimes for a period of many centuries. If so, Moses
was free to use it in this sense. And consequently, as far as the word
itself is concerned, it affords no conclusive proof that the Days
of Creation were days of twenty-four hours only: we may hold them to
belong and indefinite periods of time, without departing in any degree
from the established usage of Scripture.

But it is urged--and this is the second argument,--that, whatever
may be the meaning of the word word יוֺם (_yom) elsewhere, in the
first chapter of Genesis it must mean a day of twenty-four hours. For
we are not merely told that there was a First Day, and a Second Day,
and a Third Day; but each day is in a manner analyzed by the sacred
writer, and its component parts set forth for our instruction. _There
was evening and there was morning_, he says, the First Day; _there
was evening and there was morning_ the Second Day; _there was evening
and there was morning_ the Third Day; and so on. Now if the word were
understood of those indefinite periods we have been speaking about,
there would be no meaning in this analysis: for it could hardly be
maintained that each of those periods had but one evening and one
morning like an ordinary day. Furthermore, it is argued that there is
a peculiar appropriateness in this phrase, which goes far to confirm
the common interpretation. Amongst the Jews it was usual to compute
the civil day from sunset to sunset. The civil day began then with the
evening. And accordingly Moses, in describing the Days of Creation,
puts the evening first, and says: There was evening and there was
morning the First Day; there was evening and there was morning the
Second Day; and so for the rest.

All this reasoning seems to us unsatisfactory and inconclusive. In
the first place, it is not a fact, as would seem to be supposed, that
the civil day is made up of evening and morning. The evening and the
morning do not make the whole day; they are only certain periods of
the day. Neither do they mark the limits of the day: for, though it is
quite true that, in the computation of the Jews, the civil day began
with the evening, it certainly did not end with the morning. If, then,
by the word Day, Moses here meant the civil day of twenty-four hours,
how is this clause to be understood, There was evening and there was
morning the First Day? It cannot mean that the evening and the morning
put together made up the First Day: for this is not a fact. It cannot
mean that the evening marked the beginning of the day, and the morning
marked its close: for the period included between the evening and the
morning is not the day but the night. What does it mean, then?

Many writers seem to suppose that the evening and the morning are
intended by Moses to designate the night and the day;--that is to say,
the whole period of darkness and the whole period of light, which
put together make up the civil day of twenty-four hours. If the text
could be explained in this way, it would fit in, no doubt, much more
appropriately with the theory of ordinary days than with the theory of
indefinite periods. But the text _cannot_ be explained in this way. The
evening is _not_ the whole period of darkness, and the morning is _not_
the whole period of light. No English writer could say, with propriety,
that the Day is made up of the evening and the morning. Neither could
Moses have meant to say this in the first chapter of Genesis: for the
Hebrew words ערב (_Ghereb_) _and_ בקר (_Boker_) which are found in the
original text, have a meaning not less fixed and definite than the
corresponding words Evening and the Morning in the English language.

To prove the truth of this assertion by an investigation of all the
passages in the Hebrew Bible, in which these words are found, would
be a tedious and uninteresting task. But it may be easily tested in
another way. If the words ערב (_Ghereb_) and בקר (_Boker_) were ever
used to mean, not strictly the evening and morning, but the whole
period of night and the whole period of day, this fact would surely
have become known in the course of time to some of the many eminent
and accomplished Hebrew lexicographers. We ask, then, is there one
Hebrew lexicon of note which assigns the sense of _night_ to the word
ערב (_Ghereb_) and the sense of _day_ to the word בקר (_Boker_). For
ourselves, we have searched several of the best of them, and we have
not found a single one that even hints at such an explanation.

Perhaps, however, some of our readers might be unwilling to accept
the authority of lexicons as conclusive on a point of this kind;
seeing that lexicons very often represent but imperfectly the full
power of a language. Well, then, there is another process, and a
simple one enough, by which they may demonstrate the inaccuracy of our
statement, if inaccurate it be. Let them produce any passage from the
Hebrew Bible in which the words ערב (_Ghereb_) and בקר (_Boker_) are
employed to designate the whole night and the whole day. If they fail
to do so,--and as far as we are aware, no such passage has yet been
discovered,--then surely we may fairly contend that the interpretation
which thus explains the words in the first chapter of Genesis
cannot be regarded as certain: nor can the argument founded on that
interpretation be received as conclusive.

There is a text in the eighth chapter of the prophet Daniel which
might, perhaps, appear at first sight to militate against our opinion.
The prophet had a vision in which it was foreshadowed that Antiochus
Epiphanes should come and prevail against the Jews, and should profane
the temple of God, and should abolish the daily sacrifice. One of the
Angels in the vision is heard asking of another, for how long should
the daily sacrifice cease, and the sanctuary remain desolate. And
the answer is given in these words: “Unto _evening-morning_ (עד ערב
בקר, ghad ghereb boker) two thousand three hundred; then shall the
sanctuary be cleansed.”[157] Now, this is commonly understood to mean
that the daily sacrifice should be abolished for two thousand three
hundred _days_. And therefore, it would seem that, in this passage,
the _evening and morning_ are used to signify the _whole civil day_ of
twenty-four hours.

We will not dispute the correctness of the interpretation which is here
set forth, although the words of the Angel are explained in a very
different sense by many eminent commentators. But we think that the
passage, even when understood according to this interpretation, cannot
fairly be brought in evidence against us. The evening and the morning
do not make up the whole day: but they occur once, and only once, in
each day. Therefore a period of many days may be properly signified
by noting the recurrence of the evening and morning a certain number
of times. And in point of fact, a usage of this kind seems to prevail
in most languages. The common word _fortnight_, in English, affords a
good illustration. It signifies a period of fourteen nights and days:
yet it does not specify the recurrence of fourteen days, but only the
recurrence of fourteen nights. Again, the poet says:

    “Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen _summers_.”

Nobody would argue from these examples that the word _summer_ means a
period of twelve months; or that the word _night_ means a period of
twenty-four hours. And so, in the case before us, the recurrence of the
evening and morning two thousand three hundred times may be pointed
out to mark a period of two thousand three hundred days, although the
evening and morning are not the whole day, but only certain parts of
the day. Nay, more; we fancy we can see a good reason why the Angel in
the vision should single out the evening and the morning for special
notice. He had been asked about the profanation of the sanctuary, and
the abolition of the daily sacrifice. Now it was in the evening and the
morning that the daily sacrifice was wont to be offered. And the Angel
seems to answer: The evening and the morning shall return two thousand
three hundred times; and there shall be no evening and morning
sacrifice: but, after that time, the sanctuary shall be cleansed and
sacrifice restored.

So far we have been arguing from the common usage of Scripture that
the evening and the morning mentioned in the history of the Creation
cannot mean the whole night and the whole day. But there is a special
objection against this interpretation from the history of the Creation
itself. The fifth verse in the first chapter of Genesis runs thus:
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And
there was evening and there was morning the First Day.” In the first
sentence it is recorded that God, having divided the light from the
darkness, gave to each its proper name: He called the light, Day;
and the darkness, Night. Is it not highly improbable that, after
this announcement, the sacred writer would himself, in the very next
sentence, employ names altogether different, if he wished to designate
the period of light and the period of darkness?

We are not maintaining that the phrase under consideration--“there
was evening and there was morning the First Day”--cannot be explained
on the hypothesis that the Days of Creation were days of twenty-four
hours. But we do contend that it affords no conclusive proof in favor
of that hypothesis; because even in that hypothesis the meaning of
the phrase is still doubtful and obscure. For ourselves, we candidly
confess we can offer no explanation that seems to us, in any system of
interpretation, altogether satisfactory. We may be allowed, however, to
call attention to an opinion put forward by Saint Augustine, which fits
in very appropriately with the doctrine that the Days of Creation were
long periods of time. The distinctions of evening and morning, he says,
are not to be understood in reference to the rising and setting of the
Sun, which, in point of fact, was not created until the Fourth Day;
but rather in reference to the works themselves that are recorded to
have been produced. In this way the evening will naturally represent
the bringing to an end of the work that had been accomplished; and the
morning, on the other hand, the coming in of the work that was to be.
This opinion was afterward adopted by Saint Eucherius, Bishop of Lyons,
who seems almost to borrow the very words of Saint Augustine; and also
by Venerable Bede, who says: “What is the evening, but the completion
of each work? and the morning, but the beginning of the next?” In
the twelfth century we find it again set forth by Saint Hildegarde,
who was considered by Saint Bernard, as well as by Pope Eugenius the
Third, to have been gifted with the spirit of prophecy.[158] This
interpretation, it is true, does not explain the words _evening_ and
_morning_ according to their literal signification: but then the
metaphorical sense it ascribes to them is both simple and appropriate;
more especially if we understand the word Day in the sense of a long
and indefinite period. As the morning literally means the break of day,
and the evening its decline, the Sacred Writer might, not inaptly, have
employed these words to represent metaphorically the opening and the
close of the various works which are ascribed to each successive period
in the history of the Creation.

It may be observed, moreover, that this explanation seems quite in
accord with the etymology of the Hebrew words עֶרֶב (_Ghereb_), and
בּקר (_Boker_). The latter is formed from the root בּקֶר (_Bakar_), _to
lay open_, and used to signify the morning, because in the morning
the light of the sun is, as it were, unveiled, and _laid open_ to
the earth. Hence, the word might be applied with much propriety, in
a metaphorical sense, to the unfolding of the various works of God,
as each new period was, in its turn, ushered in with a new act of
Creation. On the other hand, עֶרֶב (_Ghereb_) seems to be derived from
ערב (_Gharab_), _to mingle_, and has probably come to signify the
evening, as the famous Hebrew scholar, Aben Ezra, suggests, because,
in the uncertain light of evening, the forms of external objects
lose their distinctness of outline, and become, in a manner, blended
together. And so this word might have been employed, not unfitly, to
represent the close of each period in the creation, which was marked,
as Geologists tell us, by the gradual dying out or extinction of the
various forms of life peculiar to that period. Anyhow, in following the
opinion of so ancient and so venerable an authority as Saint Augustine,
we cannot be charged with unduly straining the Sacred Text to meet the
exigencies of modern science.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next argument is founded on a passage in Exodus, to which we have
already had occasion to refer: “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all
thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou
shalt do no work on it, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy
man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger
that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made the Heavens
and the Earth, and the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the
seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and sanctified
it.”[159] We are to work upon six days, and to rest upon the seventh;
_because_ in six days God accomplished all the works of the creation,
and rested on the seventh. There can be no mistake as to the meaning
of this commandment. The six days on which it is lawful to labor are,
beyond all doubt, six days in the common sense of the word; six days of
twenty-four hours each: and the seventh day, on which it is forbidden
to work, is a day of the same kind. But the example of God’s labor and
God’s rest is set forth, in the text, as the pattern after which this
law of the Sabbath was framed. And therefore, the six days in which God
furnished and embellished the earth must have been likewise six days of
twenty-four hours each. This argument is regarded by many writers as

To us, on the contrary, it seems by no means necessary to understand
the days on which God labored and rested, in precisely the same sense
as the days on which it is enjoined that we should labor and rest. The
examples of God is, no doubt, represented in the Sacred Text as the
reason for the Jewish Sabbath: “Six days shalt thou labor, and rest
upon the seventh; _for_ in six days the Lord made the Heavens and the
Earth, and rested on the seventh.” But, suppose for a moment that the
days of creation were long periods of time, will not the significance
of this reason remain unchanged? As God, in the great work of the
creation, labored for six successive periods, and then rested for a
seventh, so shall you likewise do all your work during six of those
successive periods into which your time is divided, and rest upon the

In support of this view, we may observe that the Jews were commanded to
abstain from work, not only every seventh _day_, but also every seventh
_year_. “Six years thou shalt sow thy ground, and shalt gather the corn
thereof; but the seventh year thou shalt let it alone, and suffer it
to rest, that the poor of thy people may eat, and whatsoever shall be
left, let the beasts of the field eat it: in like manner shalt thou
do with thy vineyard and thy oliveyard. Six days shalt thou work: the
seventh day thou shalt cease, that thy ox and thy ass may rest; and
the son of thy handmaid and the stranger may be refreshed.”[160] And
in another place we read: “When you shall have entered into the land
which I will give you, observe the rest of the Sabbath to the Lord.
Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune
thy vineyard, and shalt gather the fruits thereof; but in the seventh
year there shall be a Sabbath to the land, of the resting of the Lord;
thou shalt not sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. What the ground
shall bring forth of itself thou shalt not reap: neither shalt thou
gather the grapes of the first fruits as a vintage; for it is a year of
rest to the land: But they shall be unto you for meat; to thee, and to
thy man-servant, and to thy maid-servant, and to thy hireling, and to
the strangers that sojourn with thee, to thy beasts of burden, and to
thy cattle, all things that grow shall be for meat.”[161] The seventh
year, then, according to Divine command, was a year of rest among the
Jews, just as the seventh day was a day of rest; and it is evident
that the one precept, no less than the other, was founded on the great
example of God’s rest when He had finished the work of Creation. We
are satisfied, therefore, that whatever may have been the length of
those six days in which God labored, and of the seventh day on which He
rested, His example might still be properly set forth as the model on
which the law of the Sabbath was founded.

It is urged, however, that in this passage of Exodus, we have the same
word יוֺם (_yom_) applied in the very same context to the six days of
the Creation and to the six days of the week; and it can hardly be
supposed that the inspired writer would pass thus suddenly from one
meaning of the word to another, and a very different meaning, without
giving any intimation to his readers of such a transition. If this
argument is a good one, we can only say that it completely oversets the
opinion of those against whom we are contending. In the fifth verse
of the first chapter of Genesis we read: “And God called the _light_
_Day_, and the _darkness_ he called _Night_. And there was evening and
there was morning the first _Day_.” Now, those who reject the theory
of long periods, maintain that by the word Day in the latter part of
this verse, is meant the whole civil day of twenty-four hours; while it
is plain that, in the earlier part of the verse, the same word Day is
emphatically applied to only a part of that period--that is, to the
time of light as distinguished from the time of darkness. Therefore,
they are themselves, in fact, upholding an interpretation which
supposes the inspired writer to pass from one meaning of the word Day
to another, without any intimation of a change of meaning.

But we do not want to shrink from dealing with this argument on its
merits. The principle on which it is founded seems to us unsound and
inconsistent with the evidence of the Sacred Books themselves. It is
quite a common thing, we contend, in Scripture, for the writer to pass
from one meaning of a word to another without any explicit indication
of such a transition, when, as in the case before us, the two senses,
though different, are analogous: the one being, as it were, the figure,
or the symbol, or the pattern, of the other. A few examples will make
this clear. In the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, we
read as follows: “For the charity of Christ presseth us: judging this,
that if one _died_ for all, then all were _dead_; and Christ _died_ for
all.”[162] Here, when it is said that “all were _dead_,” the meaning
is, that all men were _dead spiritually_ by sin; whereas, in the clause
immediately preceding, and in the clause immediately following, the
same word is used in its literal sense for the death of Christ upon
the cross. And yet the Apostle, though he thus passed from the literal
to the metaphorical sense of the word, and then back again from the
metaphorical sense to the literal, gives no express indication of these

Again, in the Gospel, when a certain man, being called by our Lord,
said: “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father,” Jesus reproved
him in these words: “Let the _dead_ bury their _dead_; but go thou and
preach the kingdom of God.”[163] There is some difference of opinion
amongst commentators as to the exact meaning of this phrase. But
whatever interpretation be adopted, it seems evident from the context
that the _dead to be buried_ were those who were literally dead;
whereas, the _dead_ who were to _bury them_ were manifestly _not_ those
who were literally dead, but those who were dead in some analogous or
metaphorical sense. Another example occurs in the twentieth chapter of
Saint John. Christ says to His Apostles: “I ascend to my Father and
your Father, to my God and your God.”[164] When He says, “I ascend
to my Father,” the meaning is, “to Him who has begotten me from all
eternity.” When He adds, “and your Father,” the meaning is, “to Him who
has _adopted_ you for His children.” Here, then, the word Father is
first used in the sense of a natural father, and immediately after in
the sense of a father by adoption, without any explicit declaration of
a change in meaning.

The Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans furnishes an instance in which
the transition from one meaning to another occurs in the case of the
word Day itself: “The night is passed, and the _day_ is at hand. Let
us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of
light. Let us walk honestly as in the _day_.”[165] The word Day, in
the earlier part of this passage, is used by Saint Paul for the Day of
Eternity which is to follow the darkness of this life; while, in the
next sentence, it means clearly the period of light between sunrise
and sunset. Another illustration of the same kind occurs in the first
Epistle to the Thessalonians. “But you, brethren, are not in darkness
that that _day_ should overtake you as a thief; for you are all the
children of light and the children of the _day_.”[166] No one familiar
with the language of Scripture can doubt that the first _day_ here is
the Day of Judgment; and it is quite plain that the second _day_ is
_not_ the Day of Judgment.

Our next example, and one most appropriate to our purpose, is taken
from the prophet Amos: “And it shall come to pass in that _day_, saith
the Lord God, that I will make the sun go down at noon, and I will
darken the earth in the clear _day_.”[167] This prophecy is commonly
referred by the Fathers to the time of our Lord, when the earth was
darkened in the clear day on the occasion of His crucifixion; but some
eminent authorities, with Saint Jerome at their head, explain it of the
Captivity in Babylon. Either interpretation will suit our argument. The
sacred writer first employs the word Day for a long period of time, and
afterward proceeds to use it in its more ordinary sense, without giving
his readers any express intimation of such a transition.

We hope it is now pretty clear that neither the reason assigned for
the institution of the Sabbath Day, nor the particular form of words
in which that ordinance is set forth, offers any insurmountable
obstacle to the opinion we are defending. And this is quite enough for
our purpose. For we would again remind our readers that we are not
attempting to prove from the Sacred Text that this opinion _must_ be
true, but only that it _may_ be true. Our object has been sufficiently
attained if we have succeeded in showing that the hypothesis which
makes the Days of Creation long periods, is not inconsistent with the
language of Scripture.

We are tempted, however, in the case of this objection, to go somewhat
further than the scope of our argument strictly demands. The text we
have just been discussing brings before us, in fact, a consideration
of great weight in favor of the system of long periods. “In six days
the Lord made the Heavens and the Earth and the sea, and all that in
them is, and rested on the seventh day.” Now, what was this Seventh Day
on which God rested? Was it a common day of twenty-four hours? or was
it not rather a long and undefined period of time? Saint Augustine
answers plainly enough: “The seventh day,” he says, “is without an
evening, and has no setting.” And Venerable Bede, asking why the sacred
writer had assigned no evening to the seventh day, gives this answer:
“Because it has no end, and is shut in by no limit.”[168]

The common sentiment of Theologians, as far as we know, seems to point
in the same direction. They tell us that God is said to have rested,
inasmuch as He ceased from the creation of new species; and they
hold that since the close of the Sixth Day no new species have been
brought into existence. But whether this be true or not, it would be
very difficult, we think, to point out any sense in which God can be
said to have rested after the work of the Six Days, and in which He
is not resting at the present moment. If so, the day of His rest is
still going on; and it is not a period of twenty-four hours only, but
a period of many thousand years. Now, if the Seventh Day on which God
rested is a period of many thousand years, are we not fully justified
in supposing that the Six Days on which He formed and furnished the
Heavens and the Earth were likewise periods of many ages?





    _Summary of the argument--Striking coincidence between the
    order of creation as set forth in the narrative of Moses
    and in the records of Geology--Comparison illustrated
    and developed--Scheme of adjustment between the periods
    of Geology and the days of Genesis--Tabular view of this
    scheme--Objections considered--It is not to be regarded as an
    established theory, but as an admissible hypothesis--Either
    the first hypothesis or the second is sufficient to meet the
    demands of Geology as regards the antiquity of the earth--Not
    necessary to suppose that the sacred writer was made acquainted
    with the long ages of geological time--He simply records
    faithfully that which was committed to his charge--The
    Mosaic history of creation stands alone, without rivals or

The results at which we have arrived by the long, and we fear tedious,
line of argument pursued in the last Chapter, may be briefly summed up.
First, many illustrious Fathers of the Church--Saint Augustine, Origen,
Clement of Alexandria, Saint Athanasius, and others--plainly declared
against the opinion that the Days of Creation were days in the ordinary
sense of the word; and, therefore, it is a mistake to suppose that this
opinion is supported by the unanimous voice of Christian tradition.
Secondly, the word Day is frequently used in Scripture for a long
period of time, and sometimes for a period of indefinite duration.
Thirdly, there is nothing in the language of Moses that forbids us
to explain the word according to this sense, in the first chapter of
Genesis. And fourthly, there is, at least, one grave consideration,
derived from Holy Scripture itself, which distinctly points to such
an interpretation. The Six Days of Creation are contrasted with the
Seventh Day of God’s rest; and this Seventh Day of God’s rest is
unquestionably a long period of undefined duration. From all this it is
obvious to conclude, that we may fairly adopt this mode of interpreting
the Mosaic Days, if it will assist us in reconciling the received
conclusions of science with the truths of Revelation.

Now, there is a striking resemblance, in some important respects,
between the order of Creation as exhibited in the successive days of
the Sacred Record, and the order of Creation as manifested in the
successive periods of Geological time. Three days are specially marked
out by the Inspired Historian as distinguished by the creation of
vegetable and animal life--the Third, the Fifth, and the Sixth. On
the Third Day were created plants and trees; on the Fifth, reptiles,
fish, and birds; on the Sixth, cattle, and the beasts of the earth,
and, toward the end, man himself. Geologists, on the other hand, not
influenced in the least degree by the Scripture narrative, but guided
chiefly by the remains of animal and vegetable life which are preserved
in the Crust of the Earth, have established three leading divisions
of Geological time; the Palæozoic, or first age of organic life, the
Mesozoic, or second great age of organic life, and the Kainozoic,
or third great age of organic life. Here, no doubt, is a remarkable

But it would be still more remarkable if we could recognize, in the
three epochs of Geology, the same general characteristics of organic
life as we find ascribed by Moses to the three successive days of the
Bible narrative. And so we may, it is said, if we will only take the
pains to examine for ourselves the organic remains of these geological
epochs as they lie dispersed through the Crust of the Earth, or even
as they are to be found collected and arranged for exhibition in our
museums. The first great age of Geology is eminently distinguished
for its plants and trees; the second, for its huge reptiles and great
sea-monsters; the third, for its vast herds of noble quadrupeds. Nay,
to complete the harmony between the two Records, as man is represented
by the Inspired Writer to have been created toward the close of the
last day, so, toward the close of the last Geological age, the remains
of man and of his works are found, for the first time, laid by in the
archives of the Earth.

Such is the coincidence which some ingenious writers fancy they can
trace between the history that is set forth in the written Word of
God, and the history that is so curiously inscribed upon His works.
Our readers, perhaps, will not be unwilling to consider it a little
more in detail. We read in the first chapter of Genesis, that on the
Third Day God said: “Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and
such as may seed, and the fruit-tree yielding fruit after its kind,
which may have seed in itself upon the earth. And it was so done. And
the earth brought forth the green herb, and such as yieldeth seed
according to its kind, and the tree that beareth fruit, having seed
each one according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”[169]
Let us now turn to the Carboniferous Period of Geology, which occupies
a large space in the great Palæozoic age. All writers agree that it
was specially marked by a gorgeous and luxuriant vegetation: and as
we contemplate the multitudinous remains of plants and trees which
have been gathered so abundantly in our coal measures, and ranged with
such striking effect along the walls of our museums, we can scarcely
help thinking that we have before us a practical commentary on the
text of Moses. The gifted Hugh Miller, who is universally allowed
to have been one of the most practical and experienced Geologists of
the modern school, gives a very picturesque and graphic sketch of the
Carboniferous flora. “In no other age,” he says, “did the world ever
witness such a flora: the youth of the earth was peculiarly a green
and umbrageous youth,--a youth of dusk and tangled forests,--of huge
pines and stately araucarians,--of the reed-like calamite, the tall
tree-fern, the sculptured sigillaria, and the hirsute lepidodendron.
Wherever dry land, or shallow lake or running stream appeared, from
where Melville Island now spreads out its ice-wastes under the star of
the pole, to where the arid plains of Australia lie solitary beneath
the bright cross of the south, a rank and luxuriant herbage cumbered
every footbreadth of the dank and steaming soil; and even to distant
planets our earth must have shown, through the enveloping cloud, with
a green and delicate ray.”[170] Such an age as this might well be
described in history as the age in which the earth brought forth the
green herb, and the fruit-tree yielding seed according to its kind.

Again, the work of the Fifth Day is thus described in the Sacred
Narrative:--“God also said: Let the waters bring forth the creeping
creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth under
the firmament of Heaven. And God created the great whales, and every
living and moving creature which the waters brought forth, according
to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind. And God
saw that it was good.”[171] And in this case, as in the former, we may
find the counterpart of the Bible story in the records of Geology. “The
secondary age of the geologist,” says the eminent writer from whom
we have already quoted, “possessed, like the earlier one, its herbs
and plants, but they were of a greatly less luxuriant and conspicuous
character than their predecessors, and no longer formed the prominent
trait or feature of the creation to which they belong. The period
had also its corals, its crustaceans, its molluscs, its fishes, and,
in some one or two exceptional instances, its dwarf mammals. But the
grand existences of the age,--the existences in which it excelled every
other creation, earlier or later,--were its huge creeping things,--its
enormous monsters of the deep,--and, as shown by the impressions of
their footprints stamped upon the rocks, its gigantic birds. It was
peculiarly the age of egg-bearing animals, winged and wingless. Its
wonderful _whales_, not however as now, of the mammalian, but of the
reptilian class--ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and cetiosaurs--must have
tempested the deep; its creeping lizards and crocodiles, such as the
teleosaurus megalosaurus, and iguanodon,--creatures some of which more
than rival the existing elephant in height, and greatly more than
rivalled him in bulk,--must have crowded the plains, or haunted by
myriads the rivers of the period; and we know that the foot-prints of,
at least, one of its many birds, are fully twice the size of those made
by the horse or camel. We are thus prepared to demonstrate that the
second period of the geologist was peculiarly and characteristically a
period of whale-like reptiles of the sea, of enormous creeping reptiles
of the land, and of numerous birds, some of them of gigantic size.”[172]

Once more, it is written that, on the Sixth Day, “God said: Let the
earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping
things, and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds. And it was
so done. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds,
and cattle and every thing that creepeth on the earth after its kind.
And God saw that it was good.”[173] And again Geology seems to confirm
the truth of the Inspired narrative, and to fill up the details of the
picture. “The Tertiary period,” continues Hugh Miller, “had also its
prominent class of existences. Its flora seems to have been no more
conspicuous than that of the present time; its reptiles occupy a very
subordinate place; but its beasts of the field were by far the most
wonderfully developed, both in size and numbers, that ever appeared
upon the earth. Its mammoths and its mastodons, its rhinoceri and
its hippopotami, its enormous dimotherium and colossal megatherium,
greatly more than equalled in bulk the greatest mammals of the present
time, and vastly exceeded them in number. The remains of one of its
elephants (Elephas primigenius) are still so abundant amid the frozen
wastes of Siberia, that what have been not inappropriately termed
‘ivory quarries’ have been wrought among their bones for more than a
hundred years. Even in our own country, of which, as I have already
shown, this elephant was for long ages a native, so abundant are the
skeletons and tusks, that there is scarcely a local museum in the
kingdom that has not its specimens, dug out of the Pleistocene deposits
of the neighborhood. And with this ancient elephant there were meetly
associated in Britain, as on the northern continents generally all
around the globe, many other mammals of corresponding magnitude. ‘Grand
indeed,’ says an English naturalist, ‘was the fauna of the British
islands in those early days. Tigers as large again as the biggest
Asiatic species lurked in the ancient thickets; elephants nearly
twice the size of the largest individuals that now exist in Africa or
Ceylon roamed in herds: at least two species of the rhinoceros forced
their way through the primeval forests; and the lakes and rivers were
tenanted by hippopotami as bulky, and with as great tusks, as those
of Africa.’ The massive cave-bear and large cave-hyæna belong to the
same formidable group, with at least two species of great oxen, with a
horse of smaller size, and an elk that stood ten feet four inches in
height. Truly this Tertiary age--this third and last of the geologic
periods--was peculiarly the age of great ‘beasts of the earth after
their kind, and of cattle after their kind.’”[174]

We shall be told, perhaps, that there are Six Days assigned to the
work of creation in the Mosaic narrative, and that we have accounted
but for three. Let it be remembered, however, that Geology does not
profess to give a complete history of our Globe. It can set before us
those events only which have left their impress indelibly stamped upon
the rocks that compose the Crust of the Earth. These events Geologists
have attempted to reduce to the order of a chronological system; and in
prosecuting this task they have been guided almost exclusively by the
evidence of Organic Remains. Hence it was not to be expected that, in
Geological Chronology, we should find a Period specially set apart as
the Period in which Light was made; or another as the Period in which
the Firmament was spread out over the Earth; or a Third as the Period
in which the sun and moon and stars shone forth in the expanse of
Heaven. Such phenomena had, indeed, a very important influence on the
physical condition of our globe. But they must occupy a very secondary
place, if indeed they are distinctly chronicled at all in the records
of Geology. It is the formation of rocks and the embedding therein of
Fossil Remains that constitute the main study of the Geologist, and
that guide him in the distribution of Geological time.

Furthermore, we would observe that the scheme of Chronology which
Geologists put before us, affords abundant room for each and all of
the Mosaic Days. Let it be assumed for a moment that the Carboniferous
Period corresponds with the Third Day of the Sacred narrative. The
earlier Periods of the Palæozoic Age will then fit in with the First
and Second Days of Scripture; and the Permian, which intervenes between
the Carboniferous Period and the Secondary Age, may be supposed to
correspond with the Fourth Day of Scripture. This adjustment between
the Mosaic Days and the Periods of Geology will probably be made more
intelligible to the general reader by the Table that appears on the
following page.

The reader must not think it amiss, in this distribution of the Mosaic
Days, that four out of six are crowded together into one Geological
Age, while each of the other two has an entire Age assigned to
itself. If the Days of Creation were indefinite periods, there is no
incongruity in supposing that one may have corresponded to a longer,
another to a shorter interval in the history of our planet. But, in
truth, our scheme of distribution does not of necessity imply that
the Mosaic Days were periods of unequal length. Geologists do not
pretend that there is even a remote approximation to equality between
the several divisions of Geological time. The three great Epochs are
distinguished from each other by reason of the very marked difference
in the character of their Fossil Remains. And the multiplication
of Periods in each Epoch seems to depend rather upon the degree of
completeness with which the strata of that Age have been examined,
than upon any conjecture as to the probable length of its duration.
Thus, for example, Sir Charles Lyell thinks that, as far as the present
condition of Science affords the means of forming an opinion, almost
any one of the Periods in the Palæozoic Age was as long as all the
Periods of the Tertiary Age taken together.[175]

But there is another and a more serious objection against our
hypothesis. It has been observed more than once that the periods of
Geology are out of harmony with the Days of Genesis, even as regards
the history of Organic life. According to the Scripture narrative
no Organic life appeared upon the Earth previous to the Third Day.
Now the Third Day of Scripture corresponds, in our scheme, with the
Carboniferous Period of Geology. And yet there is abundant evidence
in the Fossil Remains of the Devonian, the Silurian, and the Cambrian
Formations, that Organic life--both plants and animals--prevailed upon
the Earth for many ages before the Carboniferous Period began. Nay,
it is now commonly held, since the discovery of the famous _Eozoon
Canadense_, the oldest known Fossil, that life already existed during
the deposition of the Laurentian Rocks, the earliest of all the
Stratified Formations. Furthermore, in the Mosaic account, Fish are
represented as having been created only on the Fifth Day, which we have
fitted in with the Secondary Age of Geology: whereas in the Geological
Record we find Fish as early as the Silurian Period, which is far back
in the Primary Age. These considerations, and divers others of a like
nature, have been regarded by some eminent writers as altogether fatal
to the hypothesis for which we are contending.

  |       DAYS.        |     PERIODS.    |    EPOCHS.      |
  |                    |                 |                 |
  | DAY OF GOD’S REST. |     RECENT.     |  HISTORIC AGE.  |
  |                    |  POST-PLIOCENE. |                 |
  | SIXTH MOSAIC DAY.  |  PLIOCENE.      |    TERTIARY     |
  |                    |  MIOCENE.       |       OR        |
  |                    |  EOCENE.        |  KAINOZOIC AGE. |
  |                    |  CRETACEOUS.    |    SECONDARY    |
  | FIFTH MOSAIC DAY.  |  JURASSIC.      |       OR        |
  |                    |  TRIASSIC.      |  MESOZOIC AGE.  |
  | FOURTH MOSAIC DAY. |  PERMIAN.       |                 |
  |                    |  { DEVONIAN.    |       OR        |
  | MOSAIC DAYS.       |  { CAMBRIAN.    |                 |
  |                    |  { LAURENTIAN.  |                 |

To us, however, it appears that such points of discrepancy involve no
contradiction between the two Records. The Sacred Writer tells us, no
doubt, that on the Third Day God created plants and trees: but he does
not say, either expressly or otherwise, that previous to the Third Day
the Earth was devoid of vegetation. Again, we read that reptiles, fish,
and birds were created on the Fifth Day. But there is nothing in the
language of the Inspired narrative from which it can be inferred that
these several classes of animal life may not have been represented
before that time, by many and various species: though probably, it
was only on the Fifth Day that they were developed in such vast
numbers, and assumed such gigantic proportions, as to become the most
conspicuous objects of creation.

The first chapter of Genesis is but a brief summary of an inconceivably
vast series of events. It is nothing more than a rapid sketch,
exhibiting, as it were, to the eye the prominent features in the
history of Creation. Moreover, we should remember that it was written
with a specific end in view. The purpose of the Sacred Writer was
plainly to impress upon the Hebrew people, naturally prone to idolatry,
the existence of One Supreme Being, who has made all things. Hence
we should naturally expect that, amid the boundless variety of God’s
works, he would make choice of those that were most calculated to
strike the mind with wonder and awe, and to bring home to a rude and
uncultivated race of men the Almighty Power and Supreme Dominion of
the Great Creator. Now the Zoophytes, and Graptolites, and Trilobites,
of the Devonian and Silurian Periods, however curious and interesting
they may be to men of science, would have had but little significance
for the Jewish people. Let us suppose that these more humble forms of
animal life had, in fact, existed during the First and Second Days
of the Mosaic narrative, and where is the wonder that the Inspired
Historian, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, should pass them
by in silence, and choose rather to commemorate the more striking and
impressive facts, that, at the bidding of God, Light shone forth from
the midst of darkness, and the blue firmament of Heaven was expanded
above the waste of waters?

We say, then, that events which are simply left unrecorded by the
Sacred Writer are not, on that account, untrue:[176] that he describes
to us, not all the works of Creation, which would have been an endless
task, but only the more conspicuous objects in each successive stage;
and that he sketches them, most probably, as they would have appeared
to the eye of a human observer, if a human observer at the time
had existed on the Earth. If this view be admitted, then it is not
inconsistent with the Scripture narrative to suppose that plants may
have existed before the Third Day, and fish before the Fifth. Each
Day in its turn would have been rendered conspicuous to an observing
spectator by those events which are recorded by Moses. But each Day,
too, would have witnessed many other events, unnoticed by Moses, of
which the memorials have been preserved, even to our time, in the Crust
of the Earth.

We should observe, however, that though this scheme of adapting
the Periods of Geology to the Days of Moses, may be defended as a
legitimate hypothesis, it cannot be upheld as an established truth. The
geological records that have hitherto been brought to light represent
but the merest fragment of the Earth’s past history. Each year that
passes over our heads is adding largely to the store of facts already
accumulated. And it needs but little reflection to perceive that an
hypothesis may be quite consistent with the knowledge we possess
to-day, and yet may be found altogether inconsistent with the knowledge
we shall possess to-morrow. We must be content, therefore, to suspend
our judgment, and to await the progress of events. It may be that
future discoveries shall bring to light new points of harmony between
the Days of Genesis and the Periods of Geology; it may be they shall
demonstrate that no such harmony exists. For us it is enough to have
shown that this hypothesis is consistent, on the one hand, with the
story of Genesis--on the other, with the actual discoveries of Geology;
and, therefore, that it may be adopted, in the present condition of
our knowledge, as a legitimate means of reconciling the established
conclusions of that science with the truths of Revelation.

       *       *       *       *       *

CONCLUSION.--We have, then, two distinct systems of interpretation,
according to which the vast Antiquity of the Earth, asserted by
Geology, may be fairly brought into harmony with the history of
creation, recorded in Scripture. The one allows an interval of
incalculable duration between the creation of the Heavens and the
Earth, and the work of the Six Days: the other supposes each one of
these Six Days to have been itself an indefinite period of time. We
cannot, indeed, prove that either of these two systems is true in point
of fact; but we have attempted to show that neither is at variance with
the language of the Sacred Text. On the other hand, when we look to the
evidence of geological facts, we see no decisive reason for preferring
one to the other. Either mode of interpretation seems in itself
quite sufficient to meet all the present requirements of Geology;
for, according to either interpretation, the Bible narrative would
allow time without limit for the past history of our Globe; and time
without limit is just what Geology demands. We may say, then, on this
point, what Saint Augustine said long ago, in speaking of the diverse
interpretations which the text of Genesis admits: “Let each one choose
according to the best of his power: only let him not rashly put forward
as known that which is unknown; and let him not fail to remember
that he is but a man searching, as far as may be, into the works of

It must not be supposed that, according to our view, the Sacred
Writer, in composing his account of the Creation, had before his mind
those vast Geological Periods about which we have said so much in
the course of this volume. Such an opinion is no part of our system.
We see no good reason for believing that the author of Genesis was
specially enlightened from Heaven on the subject of Stratified Rocks
and Fossil Remains, of Upheaval and Denudation, of Volcanic Action and
Subterranean Heat. These are matters of Physical, not of Religious
Science. And it seems to be the order of Providence to leave the
discovery of such things to the industry and ingenuity of man: “Cuncta
fecit bona in tempore suo, et mundum tradidit disputationi eorum.”[178]

What we maintain, then, is simply this: that the Sacred Writer recorded
faithfully, in language fitted to the ideas of his time, that portion
of Revelation which was committed to him; and, in the accomplishment of
this task, made such a choice of words and phrases, under the guidance
of the Holy Spirit, to whom all truth is present, as to set forth
plainly those facts that were unfolded to him, without introducing any
error about those facts of which he was ignorant. The language is the
language of men, but the voice that speaks therein is the voice of God.
And thus it comes to pass that this Mosaic story, when fairly examined
according to the ordinary laws of human speech, is found in every age
to accommodate itself, with quite an unexpected simplicity, to those
new and wonderful views of God’s manifold power which each human
science in its turn brings to light.

Before taking leave of the subject, we would venture to bring under the
notice of our readers one very obvious reflection, which is sometimes
lost sight of in the heat of controversy. The Mosaic history of the
Creation absolutely stands alone. It has no rivals, no competitors.
Every other attempt that has been made to explain the origin of
the world, and of the human race, is refuted by its own intrinsic
extravagance and absurdity. The wisest nations of antiquity failed to
discover that great fundamental truth, which stands out so boldly on
the first page of Genesis, that there is One God who hath made all
things. The philosophers of Chaldæa were familiar with the course of
the Heavens, and could predict the eclipses of the sun and moon. But
the philosophers of Chaldæa could not rise from the contemplation of
creatures to the knowledge of the Creator: the creatures themselves
were the gods that Chaldæa worshipped. Egypt had greatness of mind to
conceive the idea of the Pyramids, and skill to devise the plan of
their construction, and strength of arms to lift up the huge stones on
these stupendous piles. But Egypt raised up temples to the river that
waters its plain, and offered sacrifice to the reptile that crawls
upon the earth, and the beast that grazes in the field. In Greece the
human mind soared to its highest flight, and ranged over the widest and
most beautiful fields of thought. Peerless is she among the nations,
the mistress of the arts, the fountain source of refined taste, the
storehouse of intellectual power, the great nurse of human genius.
Her schools of philosophy have influenced and guided to a marvellous
extent the thoughts and speculations of all subsequent times. The
song of her immortal bard has kindled the imagination of the poet in
every generation, and enriched his mind with glowing images. Orators
and statesmen still love to copy the lofty sentiments, the graceful
diction, the flowing periods, of her golden eloquence. And students
from every clime stand enraptured before the beauty and the majesty
of her sculptured marble. But Greece, Imperial Greece, knew not the
One God, the giver of all good gifts, by whom she was so highly
endowed. She fashioned for herself gods and goddesses after her own
fancy, and portioned out the universe between them. Jupiter hurled
his thunderbolts from the clouds: Neptune ruled the sea: Pluto swayed
the sceptre of the infernal regions: Minerva was the goddess of
wisdom: Vulcan the god of fire: Apollo the god of music. Nay, the very
infirmities and vices of human nature were personified under the names
of divinities, and worshipped in the Pantheon of the gods. Rome, too,
the conqueror of the world, had its philosophers and its orators, its
poets and its sculptors, whose productions still charm and instruct
mankind. Yet was Rome no exception to the common lot of the gentile
world. For Rome, like Greece, had its long array of gods and goddesses,
with their petty jealousies, their vindictive malice, their shameless
passions. Alone, amidst all the Mythologies and Cosmogonies of ancient
nations, the story of the Hebrew Legislator rises superior to the gross
and silly speculations of mortal men. It alone proclaims to mankind
what Philosophy and Science, when left to themselves, have never been
able to teach, that, In the beginning God created the Heavens and the
Earth; that the plants and the animals, the ocean and the elements,
the sun and moon and stars, man himself, and all that delights the eye
and charms the ear and fills the mind, are His creatures; and that
besides Him there is no other God. Away, then, with the idea that
this Sacred Narrative, stamped as it plainly is with the imprint of
its Divine Author, should ever be found at variance with the truths
of science,--or rather, we should say, with those scanty fragments
of truth, those crumbs of knowledge, falling from the table of our
Heavenly Father, which it is given to man here below to gather up with
laborious care, and which, however they may excite his longings, cannot
satisfy his hunger.

Here, for the present, we must stop. At some future time, perhaps,
if our opportunities permit, we shall return to this subject, and,
taking up the second branch of the controversy, investigate the recent
discoveries of Geology in reference to the teaching of the Bible as
regards the Antiquity of the Human Race.





(1.) SAINT AUGUSTINE.--P. 297.

“Et in rebus obscuris atque a nostris oculis remotissimis, si qua
inde scripta etiam divina legerimus, quae possunt salva fida qua
imbuimur, alias atque alias parere sententias; in nullam earum nos
praecipiti affirmatione ita projiciamus, ut si forte diligentius
discussa veritas eam recte labefactaverit, corruamus: non pro sententia
divinarum Scripturarum, sed pro nostra ita dimicantes, ut eam velimus
Scripturarum esse, quae nostra est; cum potius eam quae Scripturarum
est, nostram esse velle debeamus.”--De Genesi ad Litteram, lib. i. cap.
18, n. 37.

(2.) IDEM.--P. 298.

“Plerumque enim accidit ut aliquid de terra, de coelo, de caeteris
hujus mundi elementis, de motu et conversione vel etiam de magnitudine
et intervallis siderum, de certis defectibus solis ac lunae, de
circuitibus annorum et temporum, de naturis animalium, fruticum,
lapidum atque hujusmodi caeteris, etiam non christianus ita noverit,
ut certissima ratione vel experientia teneat. Turpe est autem
nimis et perniciosum ac maxime cavendum, ut christianum de his
rebus quasi secundum christianas Litteras loquentem, ita delirare
quilibet infidelis audiat, ut, quemadmodum dicitur, toto coelo errare
conspiciens, risum tenere vix possit. Et non tam molestum est, quod
errans homo deridetur, sed quod auctores nostri ab eis qui foris sunt,
talia sensisse creduntur, et cum magno eorum exitio de quorum salute
satagimus, tanquam indocti reprehenduntur atque respuuntur. Cum enim
quemquam de numero christianorum in ea re quam optime norunt, errare
deprehenderint, et vanam sententiam suam de nostris Libris asserere;
quo pacto illis Libris credituri sunt, de resurrectione mortuorum, et
de spe vitae aeternae, regnoque coelorum, quando de his rebus quas
jam experiri, vel indubitatis numeris percipere potuerunt, fallaciter
putaverint esse conscriptos? Quid enim molestiae tristitiaeque ingerant
prudentibus fratribus temerarii praesumptores, satis dici non potest,
cum si quando de prava et falsa opinione sua reprehendi, et convinci
coeperint ab eis qui nostrorum Librorum auctoritate non tenentur, ad
defendendum id quod levissima temeritate et apertissima falsitate
dixerunt, eosdem Libros sanctos, unde id probent, proferre conantur,
vel etiam memoriter, quae ad testimonium valere arbitrantur, multa inde
verba pronuntiant, ‘non intelligentes neque quae loquuntur, neque de
quibus affirmant’ (1. Tim., i. 7).”--Ibid., cap. 19, n. 39.

(3.) SAINT THOMAS.--P. 298.

“Dicendum quod, sicut Augustinus docet, in hujusmodi quaestionibus
duo sunt observanda. Primo quidem, ut veritas Scripturae inconcusse
teneatur. Secundo, cum Scriptura divina multipliciter exponi possit,
quod nulli expositioni aliquis ita praecise inhaereat, ut si certa
ratione constiterit hoc esse falsum quod aliquis sensum Scripturae esse
credebat id nihilominus asserere praesumat; ne Scriptura ex hoc ab
infidelibus derideatur, et ne eis via credendi praecludatur.”--Summa
Theologica, Pars Prima, Quaest. lxviii. art. primus.

(4.) PERRERIUS.--P. 302.

“Quod autem in xx. et xxxi. cap. Exod. dictum est, Deum sex diebus
fecisse coelum et terram, et omnia quae in eis sunt, non est huic
opinioni contrarium: illud enim spatium temporis ante primum diem
annumeratur sex diebus, quia fuit quam brevissimum, et fuit continuata
Dei operatio: nec sane plures dies naturales consumpti sunt quam sex:
ac licet ante primum diem, coelum et elementa facta sint secundum
substantiam, tamen non fuerunt perfecta et omnino consummata, nisi
spatio illorum sex dierum; tunc enim datus est illis ornatus,
complementum, et perfectio.”--Comment. in Genes., cap. 1, v. 4, n. 80.

(5.) TOSTATUS.--P. 302.

“_Sex diebus fecit Dominus coelum et terram._ Recte dicitur his
_facere_, quia coelum et terra, quae hic nominantur, et omnia alia,
quae nomine eorum subintelliguntur, ista quidem omnia de materia prima
facta sunt: materia autem non _facta_ sed _creata_ est.”--Comment. in
Exod., cap. 20, quaest. 15.

(6.) PETAVIUS.--P. 302.

Writing on the phrase _In die quo fecit Dominus Deus coelum et terram_,
he says, “hoc est, perpolitum et elaboratum esse sex continuis diebus,
id enim _faceindi_ vox Hebraeis ipsis interpretibus significare
videtur.”--De Opificio Sex Dierum, lib. cap. 14, sect. 1.

(7.) SAINT BASIL.--P. 304.

“_Et facta est vespera, et factum est mane, dies unus._ Vespera igitur
diei ac noctis est communis terminus: et similiter mane, est noctis
cum die vicinitas. Itaque ut _prioris generationis praerogativam
diei tribueret_, prius commemoravit finem diei, deinde noctis,
velut insequente diem nocte. Nam qui status in mundo fuit ante
lucis generationem, is non erat nox, sed tenebrae: quod autem a die
distinguebatur, eique opponebatur, id nox appellatum est.”--Homilia ii.
in Hexaemeron; Edit. Bened. p. 20; Edit. Migne, Patr. Graec. Cursus
Completus, tom. 29, p. 47.


“Ostendimus enim heri, ut meministis, quomodo beatus Moses enarrans
nobis horum visibilium elementorum creationem et opificium, dixerit:
_In principio fecit Deus coelum et terram: terra autem erat invisibilis
et incomposita:_ et vos causam docuimus, quare Deus terram informen et
nullis figuris expolitam creaverit; quae, opinor, omnia mente tenetis;
necessarium est igitur nos ad ea quae sequuntur hodie progredi. Nam
postquam dixit, _Terra autem erat invisibilis et incomposita_, nos
accurate docet, unde invisibilis erat et inculta, dicens: _Et tenebrae
erant super abyssum, et Spiritus Dei superferebatur super aquam_....
Quandoquidem igitur diffusa erat magna universi visibilis informitas,
praecepto suo Deus, optimus ille artifex, deformitatem illam depulit,
et immensa lucis visibilis pulchritudo producta tenebras fugavit
sensibiles, illustravitque omnia.”--In Cap. i. Genes. Homil. iii.;
Edit. Migne, Patr. Graec. Cursus Completus, tom. 53, p. 33. Here Saint
Chrysostom plainly teaches that the world existed before the creation
of light. In his Fifth Homily he is equally clear that the First Day
of the Mosaic narrative began with a period of light, and not with a
period of darkness: “Vide quomodo de singulis diebus sic dicat: _Et
factum est vespere, et factum est mane, dies tertius_: non simpliciter
nec absque causa: sed ne ordinem confundamus neque putemus vespera
ingruente finem accepisse diem; sed sciamus vesperam finem esse lucis,
et principium noctis: mane autem finem noctis, et complementum dici.
Hoc enim nos docere vult beatus Moses, dicens: _Et factum est vespere,
et factum est mane, dies tertius_.”--Edit. Migne, p. 52.

(9.) SAINT AMBROSE.--P. 305.

“_Terra autem erat invisibilis et incomposita._ Bonus artifex prius
fundamentum ponit: postea, fundamento posito, aedificationis membra
distinguit, et adjungit ornatum. Posito igitur fundamento terrae, et
confirmata coeli substantia, duo enim ista sunt velut cardines rerum,
subtexuit: _Terra autem erat inanis et incomposita_.”--Hexaemeron,
Lib. i. cap. 7; Edit. Bened. p. 13; Edit. Migne, Patr. Lat. Cursus
Completus, tom. 14, p. 135.

“Principium ergo diei, vox Dei est: _fiat lux_; _et facta est
lux_.”--Lib. i. cap. 10; Edit. Bened. p 21; Edit. Migne, p. 144.

“In principio itaque temporis coelum et terram Deus fecit. Tempus enim
ab hoc mundo, non ante mundum: dies autem temporis portio est, non
principium.”--Lib. i. cap. 6; Edit. Bened. p. 10; Edit. Migne, p. 132.

(10.) VENERABLE BEDE.--P. 305.

“Scriptura ait: _Qui fecisti mundum de materia informi_. Sed materia
facta est de nihilo, mundi vero species de informi materia. Proinde
duas res ante omnem diem et ante omne tempus condidit Deus angelicam
videlicet creaturam et informem materiam.”--In Pentateuch. Comment.;
sub. cap. 1: Edit Migne, Patr. Lat. Cursus Completus, tom. 91, p.
191. In another place, citing the words of Ecclesiasticus, _Qui
vivit in aeternum creavit omnia simul_, he says, “hoc utique ante
omnem diem hujus saeculi fecit, cum in principio coelum creavit et
terram.”--Hexaemeron, Lib. i. in Genes, ii. 4; Edit. Migne, tom. 91, p.

“_Discipulus._ Da ordinem per sex dies factarum rerum? _Magister._ In
ipso quidem principio conditionis facta sunt coelum, terra, aer, et
aqua.... _Discipulus._ Sequere ordinem generationis? _Magister._ In
principio diei primae lux facta est; secunda vero factum firmamentum;”
etc.--_Quaestiones super Genesim_; Edit. Migne, Patr. Lat. tom. 93, p.
236. This work is classed by Migne among the Dubia et Spuria of Bede.
The critics, however, seem to be agreed that it belongs to a period not
later than the tenth century. If it is not the genuine composition of
Bede, which is considered more probable, then it only follows that we
have, besides Bede, another ancient authority in favor of our opinion.

(11.) PETER LOMBARD.--P. 306.

“Cum Deus in sapientia sua angelicos condidit spiritus, alia etiam
creavit, sicut ostendit supradicta Scriptura, quae dicit _in principio
Deum creasse coelum_, id est, angelos, _et terram_ scilicet, materiam
quatuor elementorum adhuc confusam et informem, quae a Graecis dicta
est chaos, _et hoc fuit ante omnem diem_. _Deinde_ elementa distinguit
Deus, et species proprias atque distinctas singulis rebus secundum
genus suum dedit; quae non simul, ut quibusdam sanctorum Patrum
placuit, sed per intervalla temporum ac sex volumina dierum, ut aliis
visum est formavit.”--Sentent. Lib. ii. Distinct. 12; Edit. Migne,
Patr. Latin. Cursus Completus, tom. 192, p. 675.

(12.) HUGH OF SAINT VICTOR.--P. 306.

“Principium ergo divinorum operum fuit creatio lucis, quando ipsa
lux non materialiter de nihilo creata est; sed de praejacenti illa
universitatis materia formaliter facta est ut lux esset, et vim ac
proprietatem lucendi haberet. Hoc opus prima die factum est; sed
hujus operis materia ante primam diem creata. Moxque cum ipsa luce
dies cœpit; quia ante lucem nec nox fuit nec dies, _etiamsi tempus
fuit_.”--De Sacram. Lib. i. Pars i. cap. 9: Edit. Migne, Patr. Lat.
tom. 176, p. 193.

(13.) SAINT THOMAS.--P. 307.

“Sed melius videtur dicendum quod _creatio fuerit ante omnem diem_.” In
II. Sentent. Distinct. xiii. Art. 3, _ad tertium_: see also ibidem _ad
primum_, and _ad secundum_. And again in the Summa he says: “Coelum et
terram fecit in prima die, _potius ante omnem diem_.”--Pars i. Quaest.
lxxxiv. Art. 2.

(14.) PERRERIUS.--P. 307.

“Licet ante _primum diem_, coelum et elementa facta sint _secundum
substantiam_, tamen non fuerint perfecta et omnino consummata,
nisi spatio illorum sex dierum: tunc enim datus est illis ornatus,
complementum, et perfectio. Quanto autem tempore status ille mundi
tenebrosus duraverit, hoc est, utrum plus an minus quam unus dies
continere solet, nec mini compertum est, nec opinor cuiquam mortalium
nisi cui divinitus id esset patefactum.”--Comment. in Genesim, cap. 1,
v. 4, n. 80.

(15.) PETAVIUS.--P. 307.

“Nostra itaque sententia haec est; prima ilia Geneseos verba: _In
principio creavit Deus coelum et terram_; non peculiare opus aliquod
continere, quod initio, et ante dies sex molitus sit Deus: quasi ante
lucem, ac reliquas deinceps opificii partes, qualecumque coelum ac
terram creaverit. Sed esse generale quoddam effatum, quo omnia, quae
sunt a Deo facta, complexus est. Etenim Moses, ut initio dicebam,
Judaeos statim edocere voluit; totam illam aspectabilem rerum
universitatem a Deo conditore profectam esse. Quare ita pronuntiavit,
tanquam diceret: Quidquid videtis et quodcumque coeli ac terrae
comprehendit ambitus, una cum coelo ipso, terrâque, id omne fabricatus
est initio Deus. Postea vero per partes, ac singillatim, ut quaeque est
elaborata, decripsit.”--De Opificio Sex Dierum, Lib. i. cap. 2, sect.

“Imprimis _ante dierum sex initium_ solam cum aqua terram extitisse
credimus:.... Habet haec opinio fidem ex Mosis narratione; qui ante
coelum id est _firmamentum_, terram, et aquarum abyssum extitisse
refert.... Nam illud Severiani valde probatur, prima die Deum omnia
creasse: reliquis autem diebus, ex jam extantibus: Ubi primam diem non
lucis tantum creatione circumscribit: sed quod ante illam factum est,
id eidem tribuit. Quod intervallum quantum fuerit, nulla divinatio
posset assequi. Neque vero mundi corpora illa, quae _prima omnium
extitisse_ docui, aquam et terram, arbitror _eodem, in quem lucis ortus
incidit, fabricata esse die_; ut quibusdam placet, haud satis firma
ratione.”--Ibid., cap. 10, sect. 6.

(16.) A LAPIDE.--P. 307.

“S. Basilius et Beda putant coelum et terram non primo die, sed paulo
ante primum diem, utpote ante lucem, create esse. Verum haec non ante,
sed ipso primo die, puta initio primae diei, antequam lux produceretur,
creata esse, patet Exodi xx. v. 11.”--Comment. in Genes., cap. 1, v. 1.

(17.) SAINT AUGUSTINE.--P. 308.

“Fecisti ante omnem diem in principio coelum et terram.”--Confess.
Lib. xii. cap. 12: see also Lib. xii. cap. 8. And again, De Genesi ad
Litteram, Lib. i. cap. 9, he writes:--“Atque illud ante omnem diem
fecisse intelligitur, quod dictum est, _In principio fecit Deus coelum
et terram_; ... Terrae autem nomine invisibilis et incompositae, ac
tenebrosa abysso, imperfectio corporalis substantiae significata est,
unde temporalia illa fierent, quorum prima esset lux.”

(18.) PETAVIUS.--P. 311.

“Quod intervallum quantum fuerit, nulla divinatio posset assequi.”--De
Opific. Sex Dierum, Lib. i. cap. 10, sec. 6.

(19.) PERRERIUS.--P. 311.

“Quanto autem tempore status ille mundi tenebrosus duraverit, hoc est,
utrum plus an minus quam unus dies continere solet, nec mihi compertum
est, nec opinor cuiquam mortalium, nisi cui divinitus id esset
patefactum.”--Comment. in Genes., cap. 1, v. 4.

(20.) HUGH OF SAINT VICTOR.--P. 311.

“Fortassis jam satis est de his hactenus disputasse, si hoc solum
adjecerimus _quanto tempore_ mundus in hac confusione, prius quam ejus
dispositio inchoaretur, perstiterit. Nam quod illa prima rerum omnium
materia, in principio temporis, vel potius cum ipso tempore exorta sit,
sonstat ex eo quod dictum est: in principio creavit Deus coelum et
terram. _Quamdiu_ autem in hac informitate sive confusione permanserit,
_Scriptura manifeste non ostendit_.”--De Sacram., Lib. i., pars i. cap.

(21.) SAINT AUGUSTINE.--P. 319.

“Qui dies cujusmodi sint, aut perdifficile nobis, aut etiam impossibile
est cogitare; quanto magis dicere.”--De Civitate Dei, Lib. xi. cap. 6.

Again: “Arduum quidem et difficillimum est viribus intentionis
nostrae, voluntatem scriptoris in istis sex diebus mentis vivacitate
penetrare.”--De Genesi ad Litteram, Lib. iv. cap. 1.

(22.) IDEM.--P. 319.

“Ac sic per _omnes illos dies units est dies, non istorum dierum
consuetudine intelligendus, quos videmus solis circuitu determinari
atque numerari_; sed alio quodam modo, a quo et illi tres dies, qui
ante conditionem istorum luminarium commemorati sunt, alieni esse non
possunt. Is enim modus non usque ad diem quartum, ut inde jam istos
usitatos cogitaremus, sed usque ad sextum septimumque perductus est; ut
longe aliter accipiendus sit dies et nox, inter quae duo divisit Deus,
et aliter iste dies et nox, inter quae dixit ut dividant luminaria
quae creavit, cum ait, ‘Et dividant inter diem et noctem.’ Tunc enim
hunc diem condidit, cum condidit solem, cujus praesentia eumdem
exhibet diem: ille autem dies primitus conditus jam triduum peregerat
cum haec luminaria illius diei quarta repetitione creata sunt.”--De
Genesi ad Litteram, Lib. iv. cap. 26. “De quo enim Creatore Scriptura
ista narravit, _quod sex diebus consummaverit omnia opera sua, de
illo alibi non utique dissonanter scriptum est, quod creaverit omnia
simul_ (Eccles. xviii. 1). Ac per hoc et _istos dies sex vel septem vel
potius unum sexies septiesve repetitum simul fecit qui fecit_ omnia
simul. Quid ergo opus erat sex dies tam distincte dispositeque narrari?
Quia scilicet ii qui non possunt videre quod dictum est, ‘Creavit
omnia simul;’ nisi cum eis sermo tardius incedat ad id quo eos ducit,
pervenire non possunt.”--Ib. cap. 33.

(23). PHILO JUDÆUS.--P. 320.

“Tum igitur omnia _simul_ sunt condita. In quo quidem universali
opificio necesse erat servari ordinem.”--De Mundi Opificio; Edit.
Francofurti, p. 14. This passage may, at first sight, appear somewhat
obscure; but the meaning of it is made clear enough, when we read
elsewhere in the same writer: “_Rusticanae simplicilatis est putare,
sex diebus, aut utique certo tempore mundum conditum._... Ergo cum
audis: ‘Complevit sexto die opera, intelligere non debes de diebus
aliquot, sed de senario perfecto numero.’”--De Legis Allegor.; Edit.
Francofurti, p. 41.


Stromatum, Lib. vi. Edit. Benid. p. 291; Edit. Migne, Patrum Graec.
Cursus Completus, vol. 9, pp. 370-5. See also Dissertatio de Libris
Stromatum, by the learned Benedictine, Nicholas le Nourry, cap. viii.
artic. 1.

(25). ORIGEN.--P. 320.

“Quod autem prima die lucem, secunda firmamentum creaverit, tertia
aquae quae sub coelo erant, in suis fuerint collectae receptaculis,
atque ita terra solius naturae administratione suos fructus protulerit;
quod quarta creata fuerint luminaria et stellae, quinta vero natatilia,
sexta demum terrestria et homo, haec omnia, prout facultas tulit, in
nostris in Genesim commentariis explicavimus. Quin et supra _contra
eos qui obvio sensu Scripturam interpretantes asserunt sex dies ad
creationem mundi insumptos fuisse_, adduximus hunc locum: ‘Iste est
liber generationis coeli et terrae quando creata sunt, in die quo
fecit Deus coelum et terram,’”--Contra Celsum, Lib. vi. Edit. Bened.
pp. 678, 679; Edit. Migne, Patr. Graecor. Cursus Completus, vol. 11,
p. 1390: for the passage referred to at the close of the extract see
p. 1378. The Commentary upon Genesis of which Origen here speaks no
longer exists, but the following passage has been preserved. “Aliqui
jam absurdum existimantes Deum architecti more non aliter, quam plurium
dierum, labore, fabricam valentis absolvere, intra multos dies mundum
perfecisse _uno cuncta momento_ ac simul extitisse aiunt, et hinc illud
adstruunt; ordinis autem causa, et ut series constet, dierum et rerum
quae in illis factae sunt, numerum dictum putant. Hi probabiliter
sententiam stabiliunt ea auctoritate qua dictum est: ‘Ipse dixit et
facta sunt; ipse mandavit, et creata sunt.’”--Selecta in Genesim, Edit.
Bened. p. 27; Edit. Migne, Patr. Graec. Cursus Completus, vol. 12, p.
98. Again, in his Treatise De Principiis, Lib. iv., he says: “Quis
igitur sanae mentis existimaverit primam et secundam et tertiam diem,
et vesperam, et mane, sine sole, luna, et stellis, et eam quae veluti
prima erat, diem sine coelo fuisse?” Edit. Bened. p. 175; Edit. Migne,
vol. 11, p. 378. See also P. Danielis Huetii Origeniana, Lib. ii. cap.
2, Quaest. 8, § 6; Edit. Migne, vol. 17, p. 979.

(26.) SAINT ATHANASIUS.--P. 320.

“Cum ex supra dictis constet, _nullam e rebus creatis prius altera
factam esse_, sed res omnes factas uno eodemque mandato _simul_
extitisse.”--Oratio ii. Contra Arianos, n. 63. Edit. Bened. p. 418. New
Edition, p. 528. Edit. Migne, Patr. Graecor. Cursus Completus, p. 275.

(27.) SAINT EUCHERIUS.--P. 320.

Speaking strictly we should rather say the author of a Commentary upon
Genesis belonging to a very early period of the Church, ascribed by
some to Saint Eucherius, and usually published with his works. This
author says, no doubt, that God first, in the beginning, created the
substance of all things, and afterward developed the various forms
on successive days (Gen. ii. 4): but then he tells us expressly that
the substance did not precede the forms by any priority of time, but
only by priority of origin (Gen. i. 2). Thus his view coincides pretty
nearly with that of Saint Augustine, whose words, indeed, he seems to
borrow. “‘Terra autem erat inanis et vacua.’ Id est, adhuc informis
erat ipsa materia: quia necdum ex ea coelum et terra, necdum omnia
formata erant, quae formari restabant: haec enim materia, ex nihilo
facta, praecessit tamen res ex se factas, _non quidem aeternitate
vel tempore, sicut praecedit lignum arcam_; sed sola origine, _sicut
praecedit vox verbum, vel sonus cantum_: nam ‘qui vivit in aeternum
creavit omnia simul.’”--Edit. Migne, Patr. Latin Cursus Completus, vol.
50, p. 894.

(28.) PROCOPIUS OF GAZA.--P. 320.

We quote this writer on the authority of Perrerius, from whom the
following passage is taken. “Idem censet hoc loco Procopius Gazæus:
Mozen enim, inquit, in describendo mundi opificium, sex dierum
distinctione usum esse docendi gratia ob tarditatem, videlicet,
ruditatemque Judæorum, quibus hæc scribebat: qui quæ Deus _simul_
fecerat, ob tantam eorum multitudinem atque varietatem simul et
indiscrete capere et comprehendere, ut erant angustissimis ingeniis
nequaquam potuissent.”--In Genes., cap. 2, vers. 4, 5, 6, n. 179.

(29.) ALBERTUS MAGNUS.--P. 320.

“Videtur mihi Augustino consentiendum.”--Summa P. 1, Quæst. 12, art. 6.
See Pianciani, Cosmogonia Naturale, p. 23.

(30.) SAINT THOMAS.--P. 320.

Summa Pars. 1. Quæst. 74, art. ii.; also in an earlier work, Super
Libros Sententiarum Petri Lombardi Commentarius, Distinct. xii. art. i.
and iii. Having explained the opinion of Saint Augustine that there was
no real succession in the order of time between the various works of
the creation, but that all were created together; and also the opinion
of other Holy Fathers, that there was a real succession, he continues
thus: “Prima ergo opinio [Sancti Augustini] _magis convenit rationi,
nec est contra Scripturam_; quia ea quae in Scriptura ordinem temporis
importare videntur, ad ordinem naturae Augustinus refert: secunda vero
magis convenit Scripturae secundum suam superficiem. Quia ergo utraque
a Sanctis patrocinium habet, utramque sustinendo, objectionibus hinc
inde factis respondendum est.”--Loco citato, art. i. Solutio.

(31.) CARDINAL CAJETAN.--P. 320.

We are again indebted to Perrerius for the views of Cardinal Cajetan.
He writes thus: “Accedit huic sententiæ Cajet. in Comment. super i.
cap. Genes., et distinctionem sex dierum putat in id positam a Mose,
quo facilius declararet naturalem rerum ordinem, consequentiam et
dependentiam. Sic enim res suaptè natura inter se aptæ et connexæ sunt,
ut si mundum successivè voluisset Deus facere, non alio ordine vel
successione, quàm ut hic narratur, facturus eum fuisset.”--In Genes.,
cap. ii. vers. 4, 5, 6, n. 179.

(32.) VENERABLE BEDE.--P. 323.

“Aperte intelligi quia diem hoc loco Scriptura _pro omni illo tempore
ponit_ quo primordialis natura formata est. Neque enim in unoquolibet
sex dierum coelum factum est et sideribus illustratum, et terra est
separata ab aquis, atque arboribus et herbis consita; sed _more
sibi solito Scriptura diem pro tempore ponit_; quomodo Apostolus,
cum ait, ‘Ecce nunc dies salutis,’ non unum specialiter diem, sed
totum significat tempus hoc quo in praesenti vita pro aeterna salute
laboramus.”--Hexaemeron, Lib. i. in Gen. ii. 4; Edit. Migne, Patr. Lat.
Cursus Completus, vol. 91, p. 39.

(33.) SAINT AUGUSTINE.--P. 323.

“Superius septem dies numerantur, nunc unus dicitur dies, quo die fecit
Deus coelum et terram, et omne viride agri, et omne pabulum, _cujus
diei nomine omne tempus significari bene intelligitur_. Fecit enim Deus
omne tempus simul cum omnibus creaturis temporalibus, quae creaturae
visibiles coeli et terrae nomine significantur.”--De Genesi contra
Manichaeos, Lib. ii. cap. 3, n. 4.

(34.) MOLINA.--P. 323.

“Dicunt Doctores communiter, Moysem eo loco sumpsisse _diem_ pro
_tempore_ juxta illud Deuteronomii xxxii., juxta est dies perditionis,
... et alibi saepe, in Scriptura sumitur dies pro tempore.”--In primam
partem, De opere sex dierum, D. I. See Pianciani, Cosmogonia Naturale,
p. 27.

(35.) BANNEZ.--P. 323.

“Dies potest accipi pro quacumque duratione et mensura.”--In Summa,
Pars 1. Quæst. 73.

(36.) PERRERIUS.--P. 323.

“Nec officit huic sententiae, quod paullo superius ex cap. ii. Geneseos
prolatum est, ‘In die quo fecit Dominus Deus coelum et terram.’
Ibi enim _dies pro tempore, sicut crebro fit in Scriptura, positus
est_.”--In Gen. cap. i. v. 4, n. 80; see also cap. ii., n. 186.

(37.) PETAVIUS.--P. 323.

“Postquam Moyses sex dierum opificium toto primo capite descripsit,
mox in sequenti summatim universeque colligens, ‘Istae sunt,’ inquit,
‘generationes coeli et terrae, quando creata sunt, in die quo fecit
Dominus Deus coelum et terram.’ Quae verba non unius diei mentionem
faciunt, ut quibusdam videtur; qui primum diem designari putant, in quo
factum illud est, praeter lucem, quod initio libri Moyses explicat, ‘In
principio creavit Deus coelum et terram.’ Sed eam nos opinionem minime
probamus, ac supra docuimus, _diei_ nomen istic usurpari pro _tempore_:
quod apud Graecos Latinosque, non minus quam Hebraeos, usitatem est.
Exemplo sit Ciceronis illud ex libro secundo in Verrem: ‘Itaque cum
ego diem in Siciliam inquirendi prexiguam postulavissem, invenit iste,
qui sibi in Achaiam _biduo breviorem diem_ postularet.’ Igitur cum
dixisset, _in die_, id est tempore illo, factum esse coelum et terram,
hoc est perpolitum et elaboratum esse sex continuis diebus,” etc.--De
Opificio Sex Dierum, Lib. i. cap. 14, sect. 1.

(38.) SAINT AUGUSTINE.--P. 335.

“Tres enim dies superiores quomodo esse sine sole potuerunt, cum
videamus nunc solis ortu et occasu diem transigi, noctem vero fieri
solis absentia, cum ab alia parte mundi ad orientem redit? Quibus
respondemus, potuisse fieri ut tres superiores dies singuli per tantam
moram temporis computarentur, per quantam moram circumit sol, ex quo
procedit ab oriente quousque rursus ad orientem revertitur. Hanc
enim moram et longitudinem temporis possent sentire homines etiamsi
in speluncis habitarent, ubi orientem et occidentem solem videre non
possent. Atque ita sentitur potuisse istam moram fieri etiam sine sole
antequam sol factus esset, atque ipsam moram in illo triduo per dies
singulos computatam. Hoc ergo responderemus, nisi nos revocaret, quod
ibi dicitur, ‘Et facta est vespera et factum est mane,’ quod nunc sine
solis cursu videmus fieri non posse. Restat ergo ut intelligamus, in
ipsa quidem mora temporis _ipsas distinctiones operum sic appellatas,
vesperam propter transactionem consummati operis, et mane propter
inchoationem futuri operis_; de similitudine scilicet humanorum operum,
quia plerumque a mane incipiunt, et ad vesperam desinunt. Habent enim
consuetudinem Divinae Scripturae de rebus humanis ad divinas res verba
transferre.”--De Genesi contra Manichaeos, Lib. i. cap. 14, n. 20.

(39.) SAINT EUCHERIUS.--P. 335.

It is uncertain, as we before observed, if this commentary is the
genuine work of Saint Eucherius; at all events it is the production of
some learned and Catholic writer of the fifth or sixth century. His
words run thus: “_Vespere conditae creaturae terminus; mane initium
condendae creaturae alterius._”--Comment. in Genes. cap. i. v. 4; Edit.
Migne, Patr. Latin. Cursus Completus, vol. 50, p. 897. And again in v.
10 et seqq.:--“Si quarto die facta sunt luminaria, quomodo tres dies
jam ante fuerunt? nisi ut intelligamus, in ipsa hora temporis ipsas
operum distinctiones ita appellatas; _vesperam propter transactionem
consummati operis; mane propter inchoationem_ futuri diei; in
similitudinem humanorum operum quod plerique mane incipiunt et in
vesperam desinunt.”--Ib. p. 899.

(40.) VENERABLE BEDE.--P. 335.

“Quid est _vespere_ nisi _ipsa perfectio singulorum operum_? et _mane_,
id est inchoatio sequentium?”--De Sex Dierum Creatione, De Prima Die;
Edit. Migne, Patrum Lat. Cursus Completus, vol. 93, p. 210.

In another place he says: “Vespere autem in toto illo triduo, antequam
luminaria essent, _consummati operis terminus_ non absurde fortasse
intelligitur; Mane autem _futuræ operationis significatio_.”--In
Pentateuchum Comment. Gen. cap. i.; Edit. Migne, vol. 91, p. 194.

(41.) SAINT HILDEGARDE.--P. 335.

“Sex enim dies, sex opera sunt; quia inceptio et completio singuli
cujusque operis dies dicitur.”--Epist. ad Colonienses. See Pianciani,
Cosmogonia, p. 34.

(42.) SAINT AUGUSTINE.--P. 342.

“Dies autem septimus sine vespere est nec habet occasum.”--Confess.
Lib. xiii. cap. xxxvi.

(43.) VENERABLE BEDE.--P. 342.

“Quia finem non habet, neque ullo termino clauditur.”--De Sex Dierum
Creatione, De Die Septima; Edit. Migne, Patr. Lat. Cursus Completus,
vol. 93, p. 218. And elsewhere he says: “Septimus dies coepit a mane et
in nullo vespere terminatur.”--In Pentateuch Comment., Gen. ii.; Edit.
Migne, vol. 91, p. 203.

(44.) SAINT AUGUSTINE.--P. 355.

“Eligat quis quod potest: tantum ne aliquid temere atque incognitum pro
cognito asserat; memineritque se hominem de divinis operibus quantum
permittitur quærere.”--De Genesi Liber Imperfectus, cap. ix., n. 80.



_From Prof. J. D. Dana’s Manual of Geology. [8vo. Philadelphia: T.
Bliss & Co.] By permission of the author._


The science of cosmogony treats of the history of creation.

Geology comprises that later portion of the history which is within
the range of direct investigation, beginning with the rock-covered
globe, and gathering only a few hints as to a previous state of igneous

Through Astronomy our knowledge of this earlier state becomes less
doubtful, and we even discover evidence of a period still more remote.
Ascertaining thence that the sun of our system is in intense ignition,
that the moon, the earth’s satellite, was once a globe of fire, but is
now cooled and covered with extinct craters, and that space is filled
with burning suns,--and learning also from physical science that all
heated bodies in space must have been losing heat through past time,
the smallest most rapidly,--we safely conclude that the earth has
passed through a stage of igneous fluidity.

Again, as to the remoter period: the forms of the nebulæ and of other
starry systems in the heavens, and the relations which subsist between
the spheres in our own system, have been found to be such as would
have resulted if the whole universe had been evolved from an original
nebula or gaseous fluid. It is not necessary for the strength of this
argument that any portion of the primal nebula should exist now at
this late period in the history of the universe: it is only what might
have been expected that the nebulæ of the present heavens should be
turning out to be clusters of stars. If, then, this nebular theory be
true, the universe has been developed from a primal unit, and the earth
is one of the individual orbs produced in the course of its evolution.
Its history is in kind like that which has been deciphered with regard
to the earth: it only carries the action of physical forces, under a
sustaining and directing hand, further back in time.

The science also of Chemistry is aiding in the study of the earth’s
earliest development, and is preparing itself to write a history of the
various changes which should have taken place among the elements from
the first commencement of combination to the formation of the solid
crust of our globe.

It is not proposed to enter either into chemical or astronomical
details in this place, but, supposing the nebular theory to be true,
briefly to mention the great stages of progress in the history of the
earth, or those successive periods which stand out prominently in
time through the exhibition of some new idea in the grand system of
progress. The views here offered, and the following on the cosmogony of
the Bible, are essentially those brought out by Professor Guyot in his

_Stages of progress._--These stages of progress are as follow:--

(1.) _The_ BEGINNING OF ACTIVITY IN MATTER.--In such a beginning from
matter in the state of a gaseous fluid the activity would be intense,
and it would show itself at once by a manifestation of light, since
light is a resultant of molecular activity. A flash of light through
the universe would therefore be the first announcement of the work

(2.) _The development of the_ EARTH.--A dividing and sub-dividing of
the original fluid going on would have evolved systems of various
grades, and ultimately the orbs of space, among these the earth, an
igneous sphere enveloped in vapors.

(3.) _The production of the_ EARTH’S PHYSICAL FEATURES,--by the
outlining of the continents and oceans. The condensible vapors would
have gradually settled upon the earth as cooling progressed.

(4.) _The introduction of_ LIFE _under its simplest forms_,--as in the
lowest of plants, and perhaps, also of animals. As shown on page 396,
the systems of structure characterizing the two kingdoms of nature, the
_Radiate_ of the Vegetable kingdom, and the _Radiate_, _Molluscan_,
_Articulate_, and _Vertebrate_ of the Animal, are not brought out
in the simplest forms of life. The true _Zoic_ era in history began
later. As plants are primarily the food of animals, there is reason for
believing that the idea of life was first expressed in a plant.

(5.) _The display of the_ SYSTEMS _in the Kingdoms of Life_,--the
exhibition of the four grand types under the Animal kingdom, being the
predominant idea in this phase of progress.

(6.) _The introduction of the highest class of Vertebrates--that of
the_ MAMMALS (the class to which MAN belongs), viviparous species,
which are eminent above all other Vertebrates for a quality prophetic
of a high moral purpose,--that of suckling their young.

(7.) _The introduction of_ MAN,--the first being of moral and
intellectual qualities, and one in whom the unity of nature has its
full expression.

There is another great event in the Earth’s history which has not
yet been mentioned, because of a little uncertainty with regard to
its exact place among the others. The event referred to is the first
shining of the sun upon the earth, after the vapors which till then had
shrouded the sphere were mostly condensed. This must have preceded the
introduction of the Animal system, since the sun is the grand source
of activity throughout nature on the earth, and is essential to the
existence of life, excepting its lowest forms. In the history of the
globe which has been given on page 196, it has been shown that the
outlining of the continents was one of the earliest events, dating even
from the Azoic age; and it is probable, from the facts stated, that it
preceded that clearing of the atmosphere which opened the sky to the
earth. This would place the event between numbers 3 and 5, and as the
sun’s light was not essential to the earliest of organisms, probably
after number 4.

The order will, then, be--

(1.) Activity begun,--light an immediate result.

(2.) The earth made an independent sphere.

(3.) Outlining of the land and water, determining the earth’s general

(4.) The idea of life expressed in the lowest plants, and afterward,
if not contemporaneously, in the lowest or systemless animals, or

(5.) The energizing light of the sun shining on the earth,--an
essential preliminary to the display of the systems of life.

(6.) Introduction of the system of life.

(7.) Introduction of Mammals, the highest order of Vertebrates,--the
class afterward to be dignified by including a being of moral and
intellectual nature.

(8.) Introduction of Man.

_Cosmogony of the Bible._--There is one ancient document on
cosmogony--that of the opening page of the Bible--which is not only
admired for its sublimity, but is very generally believed to be
of divine origin, and which, therefore, demands at least a brief
consideration in this place.

In the first place, it may be observed that _this document if true, is
of divine origin_. For no human mind was witness of the events; and no
such mind in the early age of the world, unless gifted with superhuman
intelligence, could have contrived such a scheme;--would have placed
the creation of the sun, the source of light to the earth, so long
after the creation of light, even on the _fourth_ day, and, what is
equally singular, between the creation of plants and that of animals,
when so important to both; and none could have reached to the depths of
philosophy exhibited in the whole plan.

Again, _If divine, the account must bear marks of human imperfection,
since it was communicated through man_. Ideas suggested to a human mind
by the Deity would take shape in that mind according to its range of
knowledge, modes of thought, and use of language, unless it were at
the same time supernaturally gifted with the profound knowledge and
wisdom adequate to their conception; and even then they could not be
intelligibly expressed, for want of words to represent them.

The central thought of each step in the Scripture cosmogony--for
example, Light,--the dividing of the fluid earth from the fluid
around it, individualizing the earth,--the arrangement of its land
and water,--vegetation,--and so on--is brought out in the simple and
natural style of a sublime intellect, wise for its times, but unversed
in the depths of science which the future was to reveal. The idea
of vegetation to such a one would be vegetation as he knew it; and
so it is described. The idea of dividing the earth from the fluid
around it would take the form of a dividing from the fluid above, in
the imperfect conceptions of a mind unacquainted with the earth’s
sphericity and the true nature of the firmament,--especially as the
event was beyond the reach of all ordinary thought.

    Objections are often made to the word “day,”--as if its use
    limited the time of each of the six periods to a day of
    twenty-four hours. But in the course of the document this word
    “day” has various significations, and, among them, all that
    are common to it in ordinary language. These are--(1) The
    light,--“God called the light day,” v. 5; (2) the “evening
    and the morning” before the appearance of the sun; (3) the
    “evening and the morning” after the appearance of the sun; (4)
    the hours of light in the twenty-four hours (as well as the
    whole twenty-four hours), in verse 14; and (5) in the following
    chapter, at the commencement of another record of creation,
    the whole period of creation is called a “day.” The proper
    meaning of “evening and morning,” in a history of creation, is
    _beginning and completion_; and, in this sense, darkness before
    light is but a common metaphor.

    A Deity working in creation like a day-laborer by earth-days
    of twenty-four hours, resting at night, is a belittling
    conception, and one probably never in the mind of the sacred
    penman. In the plan of an infinite God, centuries are required
    for the maturing of some of the plants with which the earth is

The order of events in the Scripture cosmogony corresponds essentially
with that which has been given. There was first a void and formless
earth: this was literally true of the “heavens and the earth,” if they
were in a condition of a gaseous fluid. The succession is as follows:

(1.) Light.

(2.) The dividing of the waters below from the waters above the earth,
(the word translated _waters_ may mean _fluid_.)

(3.) The dividing of the land and water on the earth.

(4.) Vegetation; which Moses, appreciating the philosophical
characteristic of the new creation distinguishing it from previous
inorganic substances, defines as that “which has seed in itself.”

(5.) The sun, moon, and stars.

(6.) The lower animals, those that swarm in the waters, and the
creeping and flying species of the land.

(7.) Beasts of prey (“creeping” here meaning “prowling”)--

(8.) Man.

In this succession, we observe not merely an order of events, like
that deduced from science; there is a system in the arrangement, and
a far-reaching prophecy, to which philosophy could not have attained,
however instructed.

The account recognizes in creation two great eras of three days
each,--an _Inorganic_ and an _Organic_.

Each of these eras opens with the appearance of _light_: the _first_,
light cosmical; the _second_, light from the sun for the special uses
of the earth.

Each are ends in a “day” of two great works,--the two shown to be
distinct by being severally pronounced “good.” On the _third_ “day,”
that closing the Inorganic era, there was first the _dividing of the
land from the waters_, and afterward the _creation of vegetation_,
or the institution of a kingdom of life,--a work widely diverse from
all preceding it in the era. Soon the _sixth_ “day,” terminating the
Organic era, there was first _the creation of Mammals_, and then a
second far greater work, totally new in its grandest element, _the
creation of Man_.

The arrangement is, then, as follows:--

  1. _The Inorganic Era._

  1st Day.--LIGHT cosmical.

  2d Day.--The earth divided from the fluid around it, or

           { 1. Outlining of the land and water.
  3d Day.--{ 2. Creation of vegetation.

  2. _The Organic Era._

  4th Day.--LIGHT from the sun.

  5th Day.--Creation of the lower orders of animals.

  6th Day.--{ 1. Creation of Mammals.
            { 2. Creation of Man.

In addition, the last day of each era included one work typical of the
era, and another related to it in essential points, but also prophetic
of the future. Vegetation, while, for physical reasons, a part of the
creation of the third day, was also prophetic of the future Organic
era, in which the progress of life was the grand characteristic. The
record thus accords with the fundamental principle in history that the
characteristic of an age has its beginnings within the age preceding.
So, again, Man, while like other Mammals in structure, even to the
homologies of every bone and muscle, was endowed with a spiritual
nature, which looked forward to another era, that of spiritual
existence.--The _seventh_ “day,” the day of rest from the work of
creation, is man’s period of preparation for that new existence; and it
is to promote this special end that--in strict parallelism--the Sabbath
follows man’s six days of work.

The record in the Bible is, therefore, profoundly philosophical in the
scheme of creation which it presents. It is both true and divine. It
is a declaration of authorship, both of Creation and the Bible, on the
first page of the sacred volume.

There can be no real conflict between the two Books of the GREAT
AUTHOR. Both are revelations made by Him to man,--the _earlier_ telling
of God-made harmonies coming up from the deep past, and rising to their
height when man appeared, the _later_ teaching man’s relations to his
Maker, and speaking of loftier harmonies in the eternal future.


[Footnote 1: Twelve Lectures on the Connection between Science and
Revealed Religion, by NICHOLAS WISEMAN, D.D., Principal of the English
College, and Professor in the University of Rome. Andover: Gould &
Newman, 1837.]

[Footnote 2: Prelectiones Theologicæ.]

[Footnote 3: Cosmogonia Naturale comparata Col Genesi.]

[Footnote 4: A Manual of Geology; treating of the Principles of the
science with special reference to American Geological History, etc., by
JAMES D. DANA, M. A., LL. D., etc., 8vo, pp. 998. Philadelphia: Thos.
Bliss & Co.]

[Footnote 5: January and July, 1856, and April and July, 1857, covering
in all 219 pages, 8vo.]

[Footnote 6: The Six Days of Creation, or the Scriptural Cosmology;
with the Ancient Idea of Time Worlds in Distinction from Worlds in
Space, by TAYLER LEWIS, Professor of Greek in Union College. 12mo, pp.
407. Schenectady, 1855.]

[Footnote 7: Man in Genesis and Geology; or, the Bible account of Man’s
Creation tested by Scientific Theories of his Origin and Antiquity, by
JOSEPH P. THOMPSON, D. D., LL. D. New York, 12mo, pp. 149. 1870.]

[Footnote 8: The Chemical History of the Six Days of Creation, by JOHN
PHIN, editor of the Technologist. American News Company, New York, pp.
95, 12mo, 1870.]

[Footnote 9: Genesis, or the First Book of Moses, together with a
General Theological and Homitetical Introduction to the Old Testament,
by JOHN PETER LANGE, D. D., Professor in Ordinary of Theology in the
University of Bonn. Translated from the German, with additions by
Professor TAYLER LEWIS, LL. D., Schenectady, New York, and A. GOSMAN,
D. D., Lawrenceville, N. J. New York: Charles Scribner & Co., 654
Broadway. 1868. 8vo, pp. 665.]

[Footnote 10: 2 Cor. vi. 1.]

[Footnote 11: 2 Pet. iii. 10.]

[Footnote 12: Rom. i. 18.]

[Footnote 13: It may be useful once for all to inform the reader that
the term _Rock_ is employed by Geologists in a technical sense. It is
applied to every large mass of mineral matter that goes to form the
Crust of the Earth, whether it be hard and strong, or soft and plastic.
Thus, for example, gravel and clay, coal and slate, are called _Rocks_,
just as well as limestone and granite. “Our older writers endeavored
to avoid offering such violence to our language, by speaking of the
component materials of the Earth as consisting of rocks and _soils_.
But there is often so insensible a passage from a soft and incoherent
state to that of stone, that Geologists of all countries have found
it indispensable to have one technical term to include both, and in
this sense we find _roche_ applied in French, _rocca_ in Italian, and
_felsart_ in German. The beginner, however, must constantly bear in
mind, that the term rock by no means implies that a mineral mass is in
an indurated or stony condition.”--Lyell’s Elements of Geology, p. 4.]

[Footnote 14: Lyell’s Elements of Geology, p. 7.]

[Footnote 15: See Lyell’s Principles of Geology, vol. i., pp. 411-413.]

[Footnote 16: See Jukes, The Student’s Manual of Geology, p. 125.]

[Footnote 17: Professor Tyndall, Odds and Ends of Alpine Life.]

[Footnote 18: Ecclesiastes, i. 7.]

[Footnote 19: Page, Advanced Text-Book of Geology, p. 55.]

[Footnote 20: See on this subject, Lyell’s Principles of Geology, vol.
i., p. 458, and pp. 480-3; Jukes, Manual of Geology, pp. 105-11; Page,
Advanced Text-Book of Geology, pp. 52-56.]

[Footnote 21: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., pp. 356-7.]

[Footnote 22: Principles of Geology, vol. i., p. 360.]

[Footnote 23: See Jukes, Manual of Geology, pp. 108-10; Hopkins,
Presidential Address to the Geological Society of London, 1852, p.

[Footnote 24: For these facts see Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol.
i., pp. 349, 350; Quarterly Journal of Science, No. xiii., New Series;
The English Cyclopædia, Natural History Division, Alluvium.]

[Footnote 25: For these facts illustrating the destructive action
of the waves of the sea we are chiefly indebted to the following
authorities: Hibbert, Description of the Shetland Isles; Phillips,
Rivers, Mountains, and Sea-coast of Yorkshire; Geology of Yorkshire, by
the same author; Pennant’s Arctic Zoology, vol. i.; Lyell’s Principles
of Geology, vol. i., chapters xx. and xxi.; Gardner’s History of the
Borough of Dunwich; the English Cyclopædia, Alluvium.]

[Footnote 26: Rennell’s Investigation of the Currents in the Atlantic
Ocean; Maury’s Physical Geography of the Sea, chapters ii. and iii.;
Humboldt’s Cosmos; The English Cyclopædia, Atlantic Ocean; Lyell’s
Principles of Geology, vol. i., chapter xx.]

[Footnote 27: Mantell’s Wonders of Geology, p. 70.]

[Footnote 28: In his notes to the translation of Humboldt’s Cosmos, p.

[Footnote 29: A Hymn before Sunrise in the Vale of Chamouni, by Samuel
Taylor Coleridge.]

[Footnote 30: Lyell’s Principles of Geology, vol. i., pp. 374-5.]

[Footnote 31: Voyage in 1822, p. 233.]

[Footnote 32: Elements of Geology, pp. 145, 146.]

[Footnote 33: Captain Horsburg, On Icebergs in Low Latitudes. Phil.
Trans., 1830.]

[Footnote 34: Agassiz, Etudes sur les Glaciers; Tyndall, Glaciers of
the Alps; also Heat as a mode of Motion, by the same Author; Lyell,
Principles of Geology, vol. i., chapter xvi.; Elements of Geology,
chapters xi., xii.; Wallace, Ice Marks in North Wales, in the Quarterly
Journal of Science, No. xiii.]

[Footnote 35: Elements of Geology, p. 38.]

[Footnote 36: Mantell, Wonders of Geology, vol. i., p. 102.]

[Footnote 37: Lyell, Elements of Geology, p. 42; also Principles, vol.
i., p. 410.]

[Footnote 38: Mantell’s Wonders of Geology, pp. 70, 81, 82, 83.]

[Footnote 39: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., p. 431.]

[Footnote 40: Id. ib., p. 429.]

[Footnote 41: The figures given by Sir Charles Lyell, and derived from
the observations of Mr. Everest, are these: total discharge during the
four months of rain, 6,082,041,600 cubic feet; total discharge during
the three months of hot weather, 38,154,240 cubic feet.--Principles of
Geology, vol. i., p. 481.]

[Footnote 42: From a Special Correspondent, in the Times Newspaper,
December 7, 1866.]

[Footnote 43: Horner, Alluvial Land of Egypt, Phil. Trans., part I.,
for 1855; Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., pp. 431-9.]

[Footnote 44: The English Cyclopædia, Alluvium.]

[Footnote 45: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., chapters XVIII.,

[Footnote 46: Consolations in Travel, p. 127.]

[Footnote 47: Handbook of Rome and its Environs: Murray, 1858, p. 325.]

[Footnote 48: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., 400-3.]

[Footnote 49: Jukes, Manual of Geology, p. 127.]

[Footnote 50: See his Lecture On a Piece of Chalk, delivered during the
Meeting of the British Association at Norwich, 1868.]

[Footnote 51: Lyell, Elements of Geology, p. 318.]

[Footnote 52: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. ii., chap. xlix.;
Mantell, Wonders of Geology, Lecture vi.; Jukes, Manual of Geology, pp.

[Footnote 53: Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons, by the Rev. Henry
Duncan, D.D.; Summer, p. 168.]

[Footnote 54: Ps. xcix. 3.]

[Footnote 55: Kotzebue’s Voyages, 1815-18, vol. iii., pp. 331-33.]

[Footnote 56: Wonders of Geology, p. 648.]

[Footnote 57: Organic Remains of a Former World, vol. ii., p. 16.]

[Footnote 58: Carbonic acid gas contains two equivalents of oxygen to
one of carbon, the chemical expression for the compound being CO_{2};
carburetted hydrogen, which is the gas we employ in illuminating our
streets and houses, contains four equivalents of hydrogen to two of
carbon, and is chemically expressed by the symbols C_{2}H_{4}; water is
composed of one equivalent of oxygen, and one of hydrogen, the symbolic
form being HO.]

[Footnote 59: See Jukes, Manual of Geology, pp. 138-141; Lyell,
Elements of Geology, p. 500.]

[Footnote 60: Jukes, Manual of Geology, p. 140.]

[Footnote 61: See Mantell, Wonders of Geology, pp. 680-2; also 760;
Lyell, Elements of Geology, 464, 465.]

[Footnote 62: Elements of Geology, p. 488.]

[Footnote 63: Mantell, Wonders of Geology, p. 67.]

[Footnote 64: Mantell, Wonders of Geology, p. 66.]

[Footnote 65: Id. Ib.]

[Footnote 66: Chemical Technology, Ronalds and Richardson, vol. i., p.

[Footnote 67: See Lyell, Elements of Geology, 477-81; Jukes, Manual
of Geology, 138, 149-53; The English Cyclopædia, Natural History
Department, Article, Coal; Mantell, Fossils of the British Museum,
Chapter i., Part I.]

[Footnote 68: Page, Advanced Text-Book of Geology, n. 7, pp. 20, 21.]

[Footnote 69: From the Latin _Fossilis_, _dug up_.]

[Footnote 70: Elements of Geology, p. 38.]

[Footnote 71: Elements of Geology, p. 40.]

[Footnote 72: Manual of Geology, p. 375.]

[Footnote 73: Lyell, Elements of Geology, pp. 40-41. The reader will
find a singularly clear and simple exposition of this subject in Doctor
Haughton’s Manual of Geology, Lecture III.; an exposition which it
was not our good fortune to have read until our own brief summary was
already in type.]

[Footnote 74: Buckland, Bridgewater Treatise, vol. i., p. 123; Mantell,
Wonders of Geology, p. 269; Lyell, Elements of Geology, p. 687.]

[Footnote 75: Mantell, Wonders of Geology, Lecture IV., Fossils of the
British Museum, chapter V.; see, also, Medals of Creation, and Fossils
of the South Downs, by the same Author.]

[Footnote 76: Owen’s Palæontology, pp. 200-9; Buckland, Bridgewater
Treatise, vol. i., pp. 168-186; Mantell, Wonders of Geology, pp.
576-581; Lyell, Elements of Geology, pp. 420-425; Jukes, Manual of
Geology, pp. 598-599.]

[Footnote 77: Buckland’s Bridgewater Treatise, vol. i., pp. 202-14;
Owen’s Palæontology, 223-232.]

[Footnote 78: Buckland, Bridgewater Treatise, vol. i., pp. 139-164;
Owen’s Palæontology, pp. 390-2; Mantell, Wonders of Geology, pp. 166-9;
Fossils of the British Museum, pp. 465-480; The English Cyclopædia,
Natural History Division, Article, Megatheridæ.]

[Footnote 79: Lyell, Elements of Geology, p. 4.]

[Footnote 80: Wonders of Geology, p. 400.]

[Footnote 81: See Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., p. 31, who
refers to Da Vinci’s MSS. now in the Library of the Institute of

[Footnote 82: See Lyell, Elements of Geology, pp. 94-96; Principles of
Geology, p. 116; Jukes, Manual of Geology, pp. 410, 411.]

[Footnote 83: Elements of Geology, p. 95.]

[Footnote 84: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., p. 115.]

[Footnote 85: Lyell, Elements of Geology, p. 100.]

[Footnote 86: Principles of Geology, vol. i., p. 312.]

[Footnote 87: Ib. 313.]

[Footnote 88: Principles of Geology, vol. i., pp. 321, 322.]

[Footnote 89: Familiar Lectures on Scientific Subjects: London, 1867;
pp. 9, 10.]

[Footnote 90: It would be more strictly correct to say that the rate
of increase varies considerably in different places, though the main
fact is everywhere palpably apparent that the deeper we descend into
the Earth the higher the temperature becomes. Sir Charles Lyell records
a number of careful experiments made in England, France, Germany, and
Italy, which seem to show that an increase of one degree Fahrenheit for
every sixty-five feet of descent would represent pretty correctly the
general average. See his Principles of Geology, vol. ii., pp. 205, 206.]

[Footnote 91: See Sir John Herschel, Familiar Lectures on Scientific
Subjects, pp. 26, 27.]

[Footnote 92: See the elaborate work of Sir William Hamilton, entitled
Campi Phlegraei, in which he gives a full account of the formation
of Monte Nuovo, accompanied with colored plates. He has preserved
two interesting narratives of the eruption written at the time by
eye-witnesses. See also Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. i., pp.

[Footnote 93: Sir John Herschel, Familiar Lectures on Scientific
Subjects, p. 34; see also Lyell, Principles of Geology, chap. xxvii.;
Mantell, Wonders of Geology, pp. 872-4.]

[Footnote 94: See Herschel, Familiar Lectures on Scientific Subjects,
pp. 34-6. Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. ii., pp. 104-6.]

[Footnote 95: Familiar Lectures on Scientific Subjects, pp. 31, 32.]

[Footnote 96: Principles of Geology, vol. ii., pp. 59, 60.]

[Footnote 97: Principles of Geology, vol. ii. pp. 69, 70.]

[Footnote 98: For the account of these various Earthquakes we are
mainly indebted to the indefatigable industry of Sir Charles Lyell, who
has collected the facts with great care partly from the descriptions
of eye-witnesses, and partly from authentic documents written upon the
spot. See his Principles of Geology, vol. ii., chap, xxviii., xxix.,
xxx. See also Mr. Mallet’s Earthquake Catalogue; and the first of Sir
John Herschel’s Lectures on Familiar Subjects.]

[Footnote 99: The following are the sources from which we have chiefly
derived our information regarding the Peruvian Earthquake of 1868: (1)
a series of letters written upon the scene of the catastrophe, and
published in _The Times_ of September 26, 1868; amongst them is one
from the British Vice-consul, and one from the agent of the Pacific
Steam Navigation Company, who were both at the time residents of Arica:
(2) a letter of Mr. Clements Markham in _The Times_ of September 15,
1868: (3) Captain Powell’s Report to the Admiralty, dated September 14,

[Footnote 100: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. ii., p. 176.]

[Footnote 101: Id. ib.]

[Footnote 102: Letter from C. Hullmandel, Esq.; see Mantell, Wonders of
Geology, Appendix G., p. 470. For a full and elaborate disquisition on
the Temple of Jupiter Serapis, see also Lyell, Principles of Geology,
vol. ii., chap. xxv.]

[Footnote 103: Lyell, Principles of Geology, vol. ii., chap. xxxi.]

[Footnote 104: Ibid.]

[Footnote 105: On a Piece of Chalk: A Lecture to Working Men.]

[Footnote 106: Genesis, v. 3-32.]

[Footnote 107: Ib., xi. 10-26.]

[Footnote 108: Ib., v. 3-9.]

[Footnote 109: Genesis, xii. 4.]

[Footnote 110: The Genesis of the Earth and Man, Edited by Reginald
Stuart Poole: London; Williams and Norgate; 1860.]

[Footnote 111: “Sem was a hundred years old when he begot Arphaxad, two
years after the flood.”--Genesis, xi. 10.]

[Footnote 112: This second Cainan does not appear in the Hebrew or the
Samaritan version.]

[Footnote 113: Appendix (1).]

[Footnote 114: Appendix (2).]

[Footnote 115: Appendix (3).]

[Footnote 116: Exodus, xx. 9-11.]

[Footnote 117: Appendix (4), (5), (6).]

[Footnote 118: See Gesenius, sub vocibus.]

[Footnote 119: Appendix (7).]

[Footnote 120: Appendix (8).]

[Footnote 121: Appendix (9).]

[Footnote 122: Appendix (10).]

[Footnote 123: Appendix (11) (12).]

[Footnote 124: Appendix (13) (14) (15).]

[Footnote 125: Appendix (16).]

[Footnote 126: In Genes. cap. i. Quæst. xiv.]

[Footnote 127: Appendix (17).]

[Footnote 128: See his various works upon Genesis, passim; in
particular de Genesi ad Literam, Lib. i. cap. xv., Lib. iv. cap.
xxxiii.; De Genesi Liber Imperfectus, cap. vii. and cap. ix.]

[Footnote 129: This latter view might be fairly maintained in
conformity with the principles which Saint Augustine professes to
follow in the interpretation of Genesis. See De Genesi ad Literam, Lib.
i. cap. xxi. and cap. xxii.]

[Footnote 130: See De Genesi ad Literam, Lib. i. cap. xv.; De Genesi
Liber Imperfectus, cap. vii.; Confess., Lib. xii. cap. xxix.]

[Footnote 131: 2 Peter, iii. 8.]

[Footnote 132: Appendix (18) (19) (20).]

[Footnote 133: Wisdom, ix. 13-16.]

[Footnote 134: See Pianciani, Cosmogonia, pp. 384-90.]

[Footnote 135: See Gesenius, Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old
Testament Scriptures; in voce. He thus explains the first meaning
of this word: “_copulative_, and serves to connect both words and
sentences, especially in _continuing a discourse_.”]

[Footnote 136: Appendix (21).]

[Footnote 137: See De Genesi ad Literam, Lib. iv. capp. xxvi.-xxxv.,
Lib. v. cap. i. n. 3, and cap. iii. n. 6.]

[Footnote 138: Ecclesiasticus, xviii. 1.]

[Footnote 139: Appendix (22).]

[Footnote 140: Appendix (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31).]

[Footnote 141: See De Genesi ad Literam, Lib. iv. capp. xxvi., xxvii.;
also Lib. i. capp. x., xi., xii.]

[Footnote 142: Appendix (32) (33) (34) (35) (36) (37).]

[Footnote 143: Amos, viii. 11, 12.]

[Footnote 144: Psalm ii. 7.]

[Footnote 145: Heb. i. 5.]

[Footnote 146: Jeremias, cap. l. vv. 24-32.]

[Footnote 147: Jeremias, li. 1, 2.]

[Footnote 148: Jeremias, xlvi. 3-10, 19-21.]

[Footnote 149: Ezechiel, xxix. 19-21.]

[Footnote 150: Ezechiel, xxx. 3-9.]

[Footnote 151: Sophonias, v. 8-11, 14-17.]

[Footnote 152: Isaias, xxix. 17-19.]

[Footnote 153: Matth. xi. 4, 5.]

[Footnote 154: John, viii. 56.]

[Footnote 155: 2 Cor. vii. 1, 2.]

[Footnote 156: Luke, xix. 41-43.]

[Footnote 157: Dan. viii. 14.]

[Footnote 158: Appendix (38) (39) (40) (41).]

[Footnote 159: Exodus, xx. 9-11.]

[Footnote 160: Exodus, xxiii. 10-12.]

[Footnote 161: Leviticus, xxv. 2-7.]

[Footnote 162: 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.]

[Footnote 163: Matt. viii. 22; Luke, ix. 60.]

[Footnote 164: John, xx. 17.]

[Footnote 165: Rom. xiii. 12, 13.]

[Footnote 166: I. Thessal. v. 4, 5.]

[Footnote 167: Amos, viii. 9.]

[Footnote 168: Appendix (42) (43).]

[Footnote 169: Gen. i. 11, 12.]

[Footnote 170: The Testimony of the Rocks, p. 125.]

[Footnote 171: Genesis, i. 20, 21.]

[Footnote 172: Testimony of the Rocks, p. 126.]

[Footnote 173: Genesis, i. 24, 25.]

[Footnote 174: Testimony of the Rocks, pp. 127, 128.]

[Footnote 175: Elements of Geology, p. 100.]

[Footnote 176: “Aliquid esse a Deo conditum, de quo sileat liber
Genesis, nihil repugnat.” Saint Augustine, Confess. Lib. xii., cap.

[Footnote 177: Appendix (44).]

[Footnote 178: Ecclesiastes, iii. 2.]

[Transcriber's Note:

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]

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