Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 1.djvu/243
SIR CHARLES LYELL.
smoke and ashes over the city. The ashes were falling in the streets like snow, and reached a depth of two or three inches. The rumbling inside the volcano continued, hut no fresh craters have opened, and the lava has ceased flowing.
"Showers of sand have succeeded the rain of ashes which was falling this morning. The eruption is now accompanied by fearful electric phenomena. Lightning darts incessantly from the summit of the volcano and the quakings of the mountain are more violent and frequent. The thunder is continuous. Burning cinders, stones, and scoriæ, are falling fast and thick in the town of Massa di Somma, which is entirely deserted."
SIR CHARLES LYELL is now seventy-five years old. He took his degree in Oxford, in 1821, and commenced the study of law, but, influenced by Dr. Buckland, he soon left it for that of geology. His first original papers on this subject were published in 1826, and the first volume of his great work, the "Principles of Geology," was issued in 1830. He came to the United States in 1841, and again in 1845, and visited many localities for the purpose of scientific observation. He became president of the Geological Society in 1836, and again in 1850, and was honored with knighthood, for his success in science, in 1848.
Sir Charles Lyell not only ranks as the first of living geologists, but his name will always be closely linked with one of the most important stages in the development of the science. He has been a careful and extensive observer, but he has also eminently a philosophic cast of mind, leading him to the elucidation of principles, and he has accordingly done much to place this great science upon the sound basis of inductive philosophy. Of the extent of his labors in the various special departments of geological observation, it is unnecessary here to speak, but there are one or two great doctrines with the introduction of which into the science of geology his name will be connected, and to which it will be desirable here to refer.
In an able lecture before the Geological Society, in 1869, Prof. Huxley recognized three great systems of geological thought, which he denominates Catastrophism, Uniformitarianism, and Evolutionism. The first phase of thought historically was that of catastrophism. Prof. Huxley defines it as follows: "By catastrophism, I mean any form of geological speculation, which, in order to account for the phenomena of geology, supposes the operation of forces different in their nature, or immeasurably different in power, from those we at present see in action in the universe. The doctrine of violent up-