Royal Society, ætatis twenty-nine. A year later, his review of Scrope's book on Auvergne, in the "Quarterly," clearly showed the line that he meant henceforth to adopt. He came forward as the champion of the views set forward by Hutton and Playfair—views which he was to modify profoundly, to make his own, and to stamp with the seal of universal scientific recognition. About this time he conceived the plan of the "Principles of Geology," his first epoch-making book. Shortly after, he went abroad with Murchison to France and Italy, collecting material for the great work. His letters home bristle with amusing sketches of his Sicilian experiences, for Sicily was then even more impassable off the grand route than it is now; and he often had to rough it in strange quarters. He has a keen eye for the ludicrous side of things, and tells many odd stories of men and manners. "This, signor," says his cicerone once, "is the wife of Pompey the Great, named after Pompeii; she is weeping her husband's death, who was killed at the siege of Troy." At Girgenti he sees "a droll sight. Fifteen orphan boys were paraded before the statue stark naked on a windy day, and then clothed by the bishop in the name of the king." He has time, too, besides climbing Etna, and noticing such things as the signs of the rise and fall on the famous temple at Pæstum, to look at Giotto's frescoes, and to observe much about men and politics. At the end of his tour he writes from Naples to Murchison (who had not accompanied him so far):
My work is in part written, and all planned. It will not pretend to give even an abstract of all that is known in geology, but it will endeavor to establish the principle of reasoning in the science; . . . that no causes whatever have, from the earliest time to which we can look back, to the present, ever acted, but those now acting; and that they never acted with different degrees of energy from that which they now exert. I must go to Germany and learn German geology and the language, after this work is published, and before I launch out into my tables of equivalents. . . . This year we have by our joint tour fathomed the depth and ascertained the shallowness of the geologists of France and Italy as to their original observations. We can without fear measure our strength against most of those in our own land, and the question is whether Germany is stronger. They are a people who generally "drink deep or taste not." Their language must be learned; the places to which their memoirs relate, visited; and then you may see, as I may, to what extent we may indulge dreams of eminence at least as original observers.
It is a great thing that Lyell was able thus to devote himself entirely to his work, and to spare no expense or trouble that would render him more competent rightly to perform it. "I shall never hope to make money by geology," he said; and again, "I will waste no time in book-making for lucre's sake." To travel everywhere and see everything with his own eyes was his great idea: "We must preach up traveling, as Demosthenes did delivery, as the first, second, and third requisites for a modern geologist." In 1830 the first volume