Page images

had considerable influence in producing some of the inequalities on the earth's surface, the author is still disposed to attribute by far the greater number of them to the action of running water. The general occurrence of conglomerate and greywacke on the confines of primitive rocks, seems to indicate a deluge similar in kind, though, perhaps, not equal in extent, to that which determined the present outline of ihe earth. These considerations, which are despatched with much brevity, might, perhaps, with more propriety, have been included in the preceding Essay.

Essays IV. & V. On Formations.- On the Order of Succession in Rocks.- In opposition to the popular Wernerian notions of formations, or series of rocks of alleged contemporaneous origin, the author contends, that neither the intermixture of their ingredients, nor their alternations of occurrence, sufficiently justifies the inference of the simultaneous production of mineral substances; for, rocks generally held to be of very different ages, often present intermixtures of their component parts, or pass into one another, while such a mutual blending is frequently not discoverable in others that are reputed to be of the same age. Yet, when two substances are distinctly incorporated in the same mass, it is difficult to conceive of them as generated at different epochs. Examples are also cited of alternating substances which are not regarded as coeval, while those which are deemed cceval, do not always alternate. So many exceptions to the principle of universal and partial formations, are, moreover, adduced, and so many formidable difficulties stated against its probability, that it ought, in fairness, to be abandoned.

Unable to connect similar rocks of distant countries, obliged to connect dissimilar ones in the same neighbourhood, can any one up. hold the doctrine of Universal Formations? Let him, who answers in the affirmative, reflect on the consequences which that doctrine in- . volves. He must admit, that, when the particles of quartz, feldspar, and mica, which had heretofore arranged themselves so as to form granite, changed their mode of arrangement so as to form gneiss, that change was conveyed with the rapidity of an electric shock from one end of the world to the other; that the currents of different hea mispheres had so equable a motion; that the particles borne along by these currents were so equally assorted; that, within the tropics, and without, the same depositions began and ceased at the same moment; that similar pebbles were detached from their native rocks, at the poles and at the equator, by equal forces acting under the same circumstances; and were deposited and cemented by the same means, and at the same time. All this he must admit, or reject in toto the doctrine of Universal Formations.'

With regard to the Order of Succession in rocks, too, the facts which the author brings forth from his ample stores, are

calculated to shake our faith in the commonly received notions of the Wernerian school. Even the precedence of genealogy assigned to granite has been successfully controverted; for this rock has been found to alternate with gneiss, with mica-slate, and with schistus; nay, killas has been observed passing into it, and dipping beneath it. In some cases, it rests on quartz, on hornstone, on slate; and, in France, not unfrequently, on lime.. stone. Again, the term fundamental has, it should seem, been gratuitously predicated of a particular description of granite;

for, by the terms of the proposition, the bottom of this formation has never been seen, and consequently we have no means of ascertaining whether it be fundamental or not.' The tables of sections in Ebel's work may suffice to convince us, that equal uncertainty prevails with respect to the relative position of other rocks reputed primitive. Besides, in almost every country, we find what are termed transition rocks in the midst of primitive districts, or vice versa ; while the line of demarcation between even the primary and secondary classes, is far less distinct than has been generally supposed.

• It is said in the Wernerian theory, that, after the formation of all other strata, an immense deluge suddenly occurred, and as suddenly retired, leaving, behind it, those scattered hummocks of Aötztrap, which have, for some years, so greatly engaged the attention of geologists. The proofs of this catastrophe, we are informed, are to be found in the great elevation which these rocks occasionally at. tain; in their broken stratification ; in their unconformable posture; and in the nature of their materials.

. But are trap-rocks really more elevated than others ? or their stratification more broken? It is time enough to consider inferences when we have established facts. — If the posture of trap is often unconformable, so is that of granite, sienite, hornblend rock, porphyry, primitive greenstone, &c.

• Every rock without exception lies, sometimes, in a conformable, sometimes in an unconformable posture: and perhaps the different members of the flötz-trap formation, as often exhibit a want of conformity towards each other, as, towards the beds on which they repose. - As to the nature of its materials-many of them are precisely the same as those found in other formations. The only rocks which are cited as peculiar to, and characteristic of, the newest flötz-trap, are basalt, wacké, greystone, porphyry-slate, and trap-tuff. I am not sure that I know what greystone is; the only locality given of it by Jameson, is Vesuvius, where it is said to form a portion of the unchanged rocks. The doctrine, that it belongs to the flötz-trap, therefore, is founded on an assumption, that we have the means of distinguishing, in volcanic countries, substances which have been changed by the volcano from those which have not-an assumption somewhat gratuitous. The remaining substances, viz. basalt, wacké, porphyry-slate, and trap-tuff, are certainly not peculiar to this formation; as in England, Scotland, and Ireland, they are often found interstratified with other formations much older. There is reason to suspect that, in Germany, trap-rocks of very different eras have been referred to the same era, and that much of that which has been supposed the newest flötz-trap in Scotland, and which ought, therefore, to be more modern than the beds of the basin of Paris, is coeval with red sandstone, mountain-limestone, and coal.'

Essay VI. & VII. On the Properties of Rocks, as connected with their respective Ages. On the History of Strata, as deduced from their Fossil Contents. The properties of rocks which are here considered, are their ingredients, structure, specific gravity, consolidation, stratification, posture with regard to the horizon, relative posture to one another, dip and direction, altitude, contained metals, and fossils. On each of these heads the author offers some pertinent remarks; but which our limits will not not permit us to particularize. It is of importance, however, to notice, that the supposed relation between the age of a rock and the fossils which it contains, is often fallacious; and that the various facts which have now been collected concerning the interesting phenomena of organic relics, demonstrate the inaccuracy of some of the opinions which have been adopted by geologists of the first reputation.

Essay VIII. On Mineral Veins.---According to our author's views, fissures have been produced principally by shrinkage; but others may have been caused, or enlarged, by the contraction of an adjoining mass, by the shock of an earthquake, or by failure of support, the erosion of subterranean waters occasioning subsidence. These fissures, or chasms, when filled with mineral matter, are called veins. Mr Greenough makes some excellent observations on their varieties, anomalies, and probable indications, which cannot fail to interest both the speculative geologist and the practical miner: but, while he rejects both the Hut, tonian and Wernerian hypotheses, relative to their formation, he sheds little original light on this obscure subject.

On the whole, however, he possesses the rare merit of stating his facts and opinions in a clear and manly, yet modest and respectful manner, untrammelled by preconceived systems, and unseduced by the fascination of great names. Truth, and truth alone, appears to have been the object of his extensive travels, of years of unwearied study, and of the devotion of an ample fortune to the prosecution of his favourite investigations. Nor will such praiseworthy efforts be without their reward, since they must evidently tend to assuage the angry contentions of conflicting geologists, and to demonstrate the superior van

lue of patient inquiry and research, over hasty generalizations, or the construction of assailable theories. The brevity of the work, too, is the more meritorious, wlien we consider not only the rarity of that quality in books of this description, but the vast, and, we believe we might say, unparalleled extent both of reading and research which have gone to its composition. The prodigious number and bulk of the publications on Mineralogy and Geology which have been given to the world within these thirty years, have not only put correct information beyond the reach of ordinary readers—but have made it difficult for geologists themselves, at once to extend their own observations, and lo keep clearly in view all that has been done by their associates. The work before us not only contains an admirable digest and collation of the most authoritative statements and opinions on a great variety of important questions, but is eminently calculated, by the contradictions which it everywhere exhibits, to abate the confidence of narrow observers and rash theorists; and to inculcate the necessity of that patient industry and modest scepticism, by which alone the pursuits of Geology can ever attain to the dignity of a Science.

Art. V. 1. Safe Method for rendering Income arising from Per

sonal Property available to the Poor-Laws. Longman & Co.

1819. 2. Summary Review of the Report and Evidence relative to the

Poor-Laws. By S. W. Nicol. York. 3. Essay on the Practicability of Modifying the Pour-Laws.

Sherwood. 1819. 4. Considerations on the Poor-Laws. By John Davison, A. M.


Our readers, we fear, will require some apology for being

asked to look at any thing upon the Poor-Laws. No subject, we admit, can be more disagreeable, or more trite: But, unfortunately, it is the most important of all the important subjects which the distressed state of the country is now crowding upon our notice.

A pamphlet on the Poor-Laws generally contains some little piece of favourite nonsense, by which we are gravely told this enormous evil may be perfectly cured. The first gentleman recommends little gardens; the second cows; the third a village shop; the fourth a spade; the fifth Dr Bell, and so forth. Every man rushes to the press with his small morsel of imbecility; and is not easy till he sees nis impertinence stitched in blue covers. In this list of absurdities, we must not forget the project of supporting the poor from national funds, or, in other words, of immediately doubling the expenditure, and introducing every possible abuse into the administration of it. Then there are worthy men, who call upon gentlemen of fortune and education to become overseers-meaning, wc suppose, that the present overseers are to perform the higher duties of men of fortune. Then Merit is set up as the test of relief; and their Worships are to enter into a long examination of the life and character of each applicant, assisted, as they doubtless would be, by candid overseers, and neighbours divested of every feeling of malice and partiality. The children are next to be taken from their parents, and lodged in immense pedagogueries of several each, where they are to be carefully secluded from those fathers and mothers they are commanded to obey and honour, and are to be brought up in virtue by the churchwardens :- And this is gravely intended as a corrective of the Poor-Laws; as if (to pass over the many other objections which might be made to it) it would not set mankind populating faster than carpenters and bricklayers could cover in their children, or separate twigs be bound into rods for their flagellation. 'An extension of the Poor-Laws to personal property is also talked of. We should be very glad to see any species of property exempted from these laws, but have no wish that any which is now exempted should be subjected to their influence. The case would infallibly be like that of the Income-tax,—the more easily the tax was raised, the more profligate would be the expenditure. It is proposed also that alehouses should be diminished, and that the children of the poor should be catechised publicly in the church,—both very respectable and proper suggestions, but of themselves hardly strong enough for the evil. We have every wish that the poor should accustom themselves to habits of sobriety; but we cannot help reflecting sometimes, that an alehouse is the only place where a poor tired creature, haunted with every species of wretchedness, can purchase three or four times a year, three pennyworth of ale, a liquor upon which winedrinking moralists are always extremely severe. We must not forget, among other nostrums, the eulogy of small farms—in other words of small capital, and profound ignorance in the arts of agriculture ;-and the evil is also thought to be cureable by periodical contributions from men who have nothing, and can earn nothing without charity, To one of these plans, and perhaps the most plausible, Mr

« PreviousContinue »