Page:Biographies of Scientific Men.djvu/145

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107
LYELL

to explain the formation of valleys and mountain ranges, etc.; but a few, and only a few, read between the lines, and saw that

The world is wide—these things are small:

They may be nothing, but they are all.

Nevertheless, Lyell, despite all opposition, devoted his life to pursuance of the doctrine that the rocks, mountains, valleys, seas, rivers, etc., were produced in past time by "causes now in operation," still going on "unresting" and "unhasting."

The Principles of Geology was a work which revolutionized geology; theories of cataclysms and catastrophes were swept away by the master-mind of Lyell. What a stupendous service was rendered to science—progress free from prejudice; well might his bones rest in Westminster Abbey.

"Geology," Lyell defines, "is the science which investigates the successive changes that have taken place in the organic and inorganic kingdoms of nature; it inquires into the causes of these changes, and the influence which they have exerted in modifying the surface and external surface of our planet. By these researches into the state of the earth and its inhabitants at former periods we acquire a more perfect knowledge of its present condition, and more comprehensive views concerning the laws now governing its animate and inanimate productions."