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Doubt and Doubtability2023-12-07 12:59:34 2334 89

"It is thus that, in finding the relics of sea animals of every kind in the solid body of our earth, a natural history of those animals is formed, which includes a certain portion of time; and for the ascertaining this portion of time we must again have recourse to the regular operations of this world. We shall thus arrive at facts which indicate a period to which no other species of chronology is able to remount.

with its gatehouse, a postern by the kennels, and a garden

"We find the marks of marine animals in the most solid parts of the earth, consequently those solid parts have been formed after the ocean was inhabited by those animals which are proper to that fluid medium. If, therefore, we knew the natural history of these solid parts, and could trace the operations of the globe by which they have been formed, we would have some means for computing the time through which those species of animals have continued to live. But how shall we describe a process which nobody has seen performed and of which no written history gives any account? This is only to be investigated, first, in examining the nature of those solid bodies the history of which we want to know; and, secondly, in examining the natural operations of the globe, in order to see if there now exist such operations as, from the nature of the solid bodies, appear to have been necessary for their formation.

with its gatehouse, a postern by the kennels, and a garden

"There are few beds of marble or limestone in which may not be found some of those objects which indicate the marine object of the mass. If, for example, in a mass of marble taken from a quarry upon the top of the Alps or Andes there shall be found one cockle-shell or piece of coral, it must be concluded that this bed of stone has been originally formed at the bottom of the sea, as much as another bed which is evidently composed almost altogether of cockle-shells and coral. If one bed of limestone is thus found to have been of marine origin, every concomitant bed of the same kind must be also concluded to have been formed in the same manner.

with its gatehouse, a postern by the kennels, and a garden

"In those calcareous strata, which are evidently of marine origin, there are many parts which are of sparry structure--that is to say, the original texture of those beds in such places has been dissolved, and a new structure has been assumed which is peculiar to a certain state of the calcareous earth. This change is produced by crystallization, in consequence of a previous state of fluidity, which has so disposed the concerting parts as to allow them to assume a regular shape and structure proper to that substance. A body whose external form has been modified by this process is called a CRYSTAL; one whose internal arrangement of parts is determined by it is said to be of a SPARRY STRUCTURE, and this is known from its fracture.

"There are, in all the regions of the earth, huge masses of calcareous matter in that crystalline form or sparry state in which, perhaps, no vestige can be found of any organized body, nor any indication that such calcareous matter has belonged to animals; but as in other masses this sparry structure or crystalline state is evidently assumed by the marine calcareous substances in operations which are natural to the globe, and which are necessary to the consolidation of the strata, it does not appear that the sparry masses in which no figured body is formed have been originally different from other masses, which, being only crystallized in part, and in part still retaining their original form, have ample evidence of their marine origin.

"We are led, in this manner, to conclude that all the strata of the earth, not only those consisting of such calcareous masses, but others superincumbent upon these, have had their origin at the bottom of the sea.

"The general amount of our reasoning is this, that nine-tenths, perhaps, or ninety-nine-hundredths, of this earth, so far as we see, have been formed by natural operations of the globe in collecting loose materials and depositing them at the bottom of the sea; consolidating those collections in various degrees, and either elevating those consolidated masses above the level on which they were formed or lowering the level of that sea.

"Let us now consider how far the other proposition of strata being elevated by the power of heat above the level of the sea may be confirmed from the examination of natural appearances. The strata formed at the bottom of the ocean are necessarily horizontal in their position, or nearly so, and continuous in their horizontal direction or extent. They may be changed and gradually assume the nature of each other, so far as concerns the materials of which they are formed, but there cannot be any sudden change, fracture, or displacement naturally in the body of a stratum. But if the strata are cemented by the heat of fusion, and erected with an expansive power acting below, we may expect to find every species of fracture, dislocation, and contortion in those bodies and every degree of departure from a horizontal towards a vertical position.

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