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It is not our design to speak of the services which the cause of geological, and we may now add, of scriptural truth, derived from those eminent friends of Dr Hutton, who are still alive. To those who are gone, we may be allowed the satisfaction of offering the tribute of a passing eulogy.
Professor Playfair and Sir James Hall were the main supporters of the new philosophy of the globe; and is we regard Cuvier as its Newton, Dr Hutton will be its Copernicus; and the honours of Kepler and Galileo will fall to the lot of Playfair and Hall. The character of Mr Playfair's mind was peculiarly fitted for this species of research. Educated in the severe school of geometry, his imagination never seduced him beyond the limits of bis judginent. Slow in the admission of new facts, he was cautious in assigning them their true bearing and weight in his argument. He seized with a nice discrimination the shades and analogies by which scientific truths are separated and combined ; and, drawing his stores from the widest range of physical science, his reasonings were rich in their details, convincing by their logic, and captivating by their eloquence. From his admiration of the sublime and beautiful in science, bis mind was more influenced by the love of truth than the desire of lame. He was absolutely free of all the jealousies which so often disturb the
had signalized himself by a violent attack upon the Huttonian theory, came to Scotland on the subject of his fiorin grass. He was introduced to Sir James Hall, who requested Dr Hope and the writer of this note to meet him. It was arranged that the party should go to Salisbury Craggs to show the doctor a junction of the sandstone with the trap, which was regarded as an instructive example of that class of facts. After reaching the spot, Sir James pointed out the great disturbance which had taken place at the junction, and particularly called the attention of the Doctor to a piece of sandstone which had heen wbirled up during the convulsion, and enclosed in the trap. When Sir James had finished his lecture, the Doctor did not attempt to explain the facts before him on any principle of his own; nor did he recur to the shallow evasion of regarding the enclosed sandstone as contemporaneous with the trap; but he burst out into the stongest expressions of contemptuous surprise, that a theory of the earth should be founded on such small and trivial appearances ! He had been accustomed, he said, to look at nature in her grandest aspects, and to trace her hand in the gigantic clists of the Irish coast; and he could not conceive how opinions thus formed could be shaken by such minute irregularities as those which had been shown him. The two Huttonian philosophers were founded; and if we recollect rightly, the weight of an acre of in, and the number of bullocks it would seed, formed the remaining subjects of conversation.
serenity even of great minds; and though his eye followed the chariot wheels in the race of ambition, his only anxiety was, that the competitors should reach the goal. His moral and social character exhibited in all their phases the most perfect symmetry. The mould in which his intellectual frame was cast seems to have been fashioned but for one mind, and to have been broken in pieces to give rarity and value to the work.
Sir James Hall was one of those remarkable men whose intellectual capacity could be fathomed only by such as witnessed its operations; or who felt its powerful impetus in the collision of conflicting opinions. He was the only Hultonian of that day who had studied the agency of heat in the products of Ætna and Vesuvius'; and though his mind was filled with the grand views which his subject unfolded, he was less anxious to develope its principles than to establish the great facts upon which they were
Hence he was led to the fine series of experiments on the effects of heat acting under compression; and in exhibiting to the senses specimens of marble formed by the action of fire, he gave the most signal support to the theory of his friend. He was one of those reasoners who take 'nothing for granted. He courted objections to his own opinions with as much eagerness as others seek for arguments to support them; and whilst he subjected the facts and reasonings of his opponents to the most rigorous scrutiny and cross-examination, he was anxious that his own should undergo the same ordeal. His extensive acquirements in theoretical and practical science, and the native activity of his mind, fitted him pre-eminently for investigating the philosophy of the globe ; and had not a severe illness crushed in their maturity his vigorous faculties, he would have obtained a still higher place in the lists of immortality.
While geological discussions were thus agitating the Edinburgh school, the labours of many powerful minds were concurring from distant points to confirm and extend the great doctrines of the Huttonian theory. Mr William Smith had made much progress in his examination of the strata and fossil remains of England. Cuvier had begun to publish those splendid researches on coinparative anatomy, which were to give laws to natural history and geology; and the establishment of the Geological Society of London' had summoned into the field of active research many skilful and indefatigable labourers. Successful as were the exertions of this society, their maxim of collecting only the materials of future generalisations, and of thus, as Mr Lyell expresses it, disarming prejudice,' was more like the cautious character of the Scotch, than the adventurous aspect of the English phi
losophy. It was the sacrifice of high principle to the fanaticism of the hour; and was hardly to have been expected from a body of men who must have found in the Huttonian theory, which they thus set at nought, generalisations firmly established, and views of the Creator at once noble and elevating. To disarm prejudice we must not crouch under its power, but grapple with its baseness; we must not walk under its thick darkness, but dissipate it by the light of knowledge; we must not disown, but cherish the truths by which it has been scared. cessors of Galileo did not hold the Copernican system in abeyance till they had collected materials for a better generalisation; and it might have been expected of English geologists that they would have thrown their mantle over the venerable names of Hutton and of Playfair, rather than have left them under the brand of infidelity and atheism.
That the maxim of the society operated fatally upon the philosophy of geology, and transferred the highest honours of its investigation to another country, will scarcely be denied by those who have watched the progress of geology in France and in England. The field of observation was no doubt diligently and successfully cultivated by the able and active members of the Geological Society; but how could a system of insulated facts conduct to general laws, when the geologist was prohibited from looking beyond the Mosaic chronology, and when the peaceful deluge of the Scriptures was the only catastrophe to which he durst ascribe the convulsions and dislocations which had
every where shaken the interior of the earth?
While our geologists were thus working in chains forged by a presumptuous theology, the unfettered genius of Cuvier was ranging over those primeval ages, when the primary rocks rose in insulated grandeur from the deep, and when the elements of lise had not yet received their divine commission. From the age of solitude he passed to the busy age of life; when plants first decked the plains; when the majestic pine threw ils picturesque shadows over the earth, and the tragic sounds of carnivorous life rung among her forests. But these plains were again to be desolated, and these sounds again to be hushed. The glories of organic life disappeared, and new forms of animal and vegetable being welcomed the dawn of a better cycle. Thus did the great magician of the Charnel-house survey from his pyramid of bones the successive ages of life and death--thus did he conjure up the spoils of pre-existing worlds—the noblest offering which reason ever laid upon the altar of its Sovereign.
These grand views, which we have more fully developed in a
former article," did not meet with a ready reception in England. They encountered the same prejudices by which the Huttonian theory had been assailed; and even the piety of their author, and his unquestioned devotion to the Christian faith, did not protect him from the malevolence of slander. It would lead us too far from the proper object of this article were we to trace the processes by which these great truths took root in our ungenial soil; but the reader may safely inser that their progress was slow, when we state the fact, that so late as 1823, when Dr Buckland published his interesting volume, entitled Reliquie Diluviane, he had not thrown off the incubus which had pressed so fatally upon his science. He has there described an extensive and interesting class of facts which he adduces as evidence of the deluge of the Scriptures; and as the unquestionable result of that last irruption of the fountains of the deep. But in the work now before us, he has abjured this doctrine as untenable; and has found it necessary to refer the fossil spoils of the cave deposits to the last of the
many geological revolutions that have been produced by violent irruptions of water;' and to consider many of the animals to which they belong to have “existed during more than one geo• logical period preceding the catastrophe by which they were extirpated.' This is now the universally received doctrine of the English school; and such has been the progress of liberal opinions that, in assemblies composed of Churchmen, and Dissenters, and Conservative statesmen, we have heard the walls ring with rapturous joy, when geology renounced her ecclesiastical tenure, and demanded a lease of Millions of Millions of years for the range of their enquiries.
Let us now pause a while before this great moral revolution, in
* See this Journal, No. 126, p. 279.
+ Such of our readers as have studied the writings of Dr Hutton and Mr Playfair, cannot fail to have observed the delicacy with which they spoke of the length of time which geology required for its functions. They modestly asked for an indefinite period; but some of our modern writers employ language so specific and exaggerated as to alarm the timid, and rouse the very prejudices which it had been their boast to disarm. Cuvier was equally prudent; and we must say that if geologists conceive that they add dignity to their science by the rash expression of millions of millions of years, they mistake the feelings as well as the judgment of the public. Whatever time they can show to be necessary for the explanation of their facts will be readily yielded to them. But scientific truth will not justify the display of extravagant numbers; and though philosophy should never be sacrificed to prejudice, speculation may safely accommodate itself to timidity, by confining herself within the limits of truth.
which truth has achieved one of her noblest triumphs, and innocence obtained one of her most ample acquittals. After having for half a century stumbled on the dark mountains,' the Church is now seeding her flock on the green pastures of the Huttonian geology. She recognises as an impregnable truth the great principle for which Hutton and Playfair were proscribed; and has commanded the sacred scholar to accommodate his philology to the Huttonian interpretation of the language of Moses. But it is not merely the principle of time that she has conceded. The central heat, another bugbear of orthodoxy, and the igneous origin of trap rocks, have not only been embraced by the church, but by the more violent partisans of the Neptunian theory. In this manner has the Huttonian geology vindicated its scriptural and philosophical character; and, notwithstanding the vast accessions which the science has received, both in its generalisations and its facts, that theory must always be considered as forming the true basis of the philosophy of the globe.
From this vindication of our illustrious countrymen, which the occasion imperiously called for at our hands, we shall now proceed to the consideration of Dr Buckland's interesting volume. Our readers have already been made acquainted with the nature and object of Lord Bridgewater's bequest. "The variety and • formation of God's creatures in the animal and mineral king• dom' were among the topics suggested by the benevolent testator; and the President of the Royal Society discharged his duty with fidelity when he placed this branch of natural theology in the hands of Dr Buckland. This eminent individual had long filled the chair of geology and mineralogy in the University of Oxford, and had acquired great reputation as a popular lecturer; while his work on Diluvial Remains, and his Communications to the Geological Society, have given him a high place among the most illustrious cultivators of the science.
The task thus assigned to Dr Buckland was unquestionably a more difficult one than fell to the lot of his colleagues. The science, which had been regarded as the enemy of revealed religion, could scarcely be expected to yield much support to natural theology. The wonders and adaptations, indeed, of living nature were so much within our reach, and appealed so forcibly to our reason, that the evidences of benevolence and design were not only not sought, but were hardly supposed to exist among the sepulchres of ancient lise, and the ruins of former worlds. The moralist might, no doubt, draw his most impressive lessons from the catacombs of death; but the philosopher was not likely to find benevolent adaptations in the Golgotha of nature. But, not