The Harvard Classics Volume 38 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 478 pages of information about The Harvard Classics Volume 38.
the continents, charged with the component elements of the rocks in question.  Few will now dispute that it would have been difficult to invent a theory more distant from the truth; yet we must cease to wonder that it gained so many proselytes, when we remember that its claims to probability arose partly from the very circumstance of its confirming the assumed want of analogy between geological causes and those now in action.  By what train of investigations were geologists induced at length to reject these views, and to assent to the igneous origin of the trappean formations?  By an examination of volcanos now active, and by comparing their structure and the composition of their lavas with the ancient trap rocks.

The establishment, from time to time, of numerous points of identification, drew at length from geologists a reluctant admission, that there was more correspondence between the condition of the globe at remote eras and now, and more uniformity in the laws which have regulated the changes of its surface, than they at first imagined.  If, in this state of the science, they still despaired of reconciling every class of geological phenomena to the operations of ordinary causes, even by straining analogy to the utmost limits of credibility, we might have expected, at least, that the balance of probability would now have been presumed to incline towards the close analogy of the ancient and modern causes.  But, after repeated experience of the failure of attempts to speculate on geological monuments, as belonging to a distinct order of things, new sects continued to persevere in the principles adopted by their predecessors.  They still began, as each new problem presented itself, whether relating to the animate or inanimate world, to assume an original and dissimilar order of nature; and when at length they approximated, or entirely came round to an opposite opinion, it was always with the feeling, that they were conceding what they had been justified a priori in deeming improbable.  In a word, the same men who, as natural philosophers, would have been most incredulous respecting any extraordinary deviations from the known course of nature, if reported to have happened in their own time, were equally disposed, as geologists, to expect the proofs of such deviations at every period of the past. * * * *



Supposed alternate periods of repose and disorder—­observed facts
in which this doctrine has originated—­these may be explained by
supposing A uniform and uninterrupted series of changes—­three-
fold consideration of this subject

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The Harvard Classics Volume 38 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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