Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/567

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551
ENTERTAINING VARIETIES.

——The letters of Sir Charles Lyell have just appeared, in two solid volumes, and contain much that is interesting. The following extracts are from those written about 1830, when he was bringing out the first edition of his "Principles of Geology," and advocating what was at that time the heresy of uniformity against catastrophe in the earth's great geological changes:

—— "I shall be glad to hear your honest opinion of the work, regarded as one comprehensible to the uninitiated. I am afraid that what delights my friend Scrope more than all—the honest history of the Mosaico-geological system—will hurt the sale. D'Aubisson said this morning: 'We Catholic geologists flatter ourselves that we have kept clear of the mixing of things sacred and profane, but the three great Protestants, Deluc, Cuvier, and Buckland, have not done so; have they done good to science or to religion? No; but some say that they have to themselves by it. Pray, gentlemen, is it true that Oxford is a most orthodox university?' 'Certainly.' 'Well, then, I make allowances for a professor there, dividing events into ante-and post-diluvian: perhaps he could get no audience by other means.'"

—— "I have just had this morning a famous geologico-botanical discussion with Professor de Candolle, and am almost certain that my spick-and-span new theory on this subject will hold water."

—— "Considering that no lectures on geology are authorized in the Sapienza (Rome), I was amused at the late French embassador, Count de Rayneval, having made a splendid collection of tertiary fossils in the hill of the Vatican, which he and Ponza are preparing for publication. They are curious, and intermediate it seems between Miocene and Pliocene. For five years they have worked away under the Pope's window, to throw light on the earth's antiquity."

—— "Longman has paid down five hundred guineas to Mr. Ure, of Dublin, for a popular work on geology just coming out. It is to prove the Hebrew cosmogony, and that we ought all to be burned in Smithfield. So much the better. I have got a rod for the fanatics from a quarter where they expect it not. The last Pope did positively dare to convoke a congregation, and reverse all that his predecessors had done against Galileo, and there was only a minority of one against; and he instituted lectures on the Mosaic cosmogony to set free astronomy and geology. How these things are so little known in Paris and London Heaven knows. They are golden facts, and I find the state of the question here to shame the Granville-Penn school of England."

—— "Some thirty years ago I was told at Bonn of two processions of peasants who had climbed to the top of the Petersberg, one composed of vine-dressers, who were intending to return thanks for sunshine and pray for its continuance; the other, from a corn district, wanting the drought to cease and rain to fall. Each were eager to get possession of the shrine of St. Peter's chapel before the other, to secure the saint's good offices, so they came to blows with fists and sticks, much to the amusement of the Protestant heretics at Bonn, who I hope did not by such prayers as you allude to commit the same solecism occasionally, only less coarsely carried out into action."

—— "Cuvier is in great force, and gave a famous soirée the other day. He has been chosen by the ministers to defend their municipal law in the tribune: two months of his time will thus be lost to science. He talked to me of the Catholic question, our corporation rights, etc., and not a word could I get on