Page:Biographies of Scientific Men.djvu/144

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BIOGRAPHIES OF SCIENTIFIC MEN

ance of Lamarck's view." Nevertheless, The Principles of Geology was "a work destined to assist in paving the way for the removal of one difficulty attending the solution of the theory of the origin of species, namely, the vast period of time for the life-history of the globe which that theory demands." Although at the time, when the book was first published, its author had other aims in view than those to which it contributed. Charles Darwin says, in the ninth chapter of The Origin of Species: "For my part, following out Lyell's metaphor, I look at the geological record as a history of the world imperfectly kept, and written in a changing dialect; of this history we possess the last volume alone, relating only to two or three countries. Of this volume only here and there a short chapter has been preserved, and of each page only here and there a few lines. Each word of the slowly-changing language, more or less different in the successive chapters, may represent the forms of life which are entombed in our consecutive formations, and which falsely appear to have been abruptly introduced."

In The Principles of Geology Lyell followed the doctrines of geological uniformity and continuity of action laid down by Hutton, Buffon, and William Smith, and proved that the various formations of the earth's crust were produced by the very same agencies that are still active in the world. These views were assailed from all quarters as trifling and insignificant—trifling in attempting