Imágenes de páginas

repeated along the entire line, from Dimlington heights in Holderness, to Redcar.

It will thus appear that no pains have been spared to copy the natural sections of this coast as perfectly as possible ; and when it is added, that to complete my knowledge of the subject, I have assiduously investigated and measured the interior of the country, have drawn upwards of four hundred species of fossils, and examined above a hundred more, having received the most liberal and ample assistance from all the collectors on the coast, and from many geologists in other parts of the county ; it will not, I hope, be thought that this work has been attempted without sufficient materials to render it useful.

The strata which I have undertaken to describe, have received the notice of several eminent geological writers ; they have been, in some degree, illustrated by the general map of Mr. Greenough, and by the remarks of Mr. Cony beare, in his outlines of the Geology of England ; by the comparative view which Mr. Murchison has given of the analogous strata discovered at Brora ; and by Professor Sedgwick’s paper on some parts of this district, in which he has shewn the identity of the alum shale of Whitby, with the lias of Dorsetshire, and of the Scarborough oolite and its subjacent sandstone, with the coralline oolite and calcareous grit of the southern counties, and has successfully compared the substratum of the vale of Pickering with the Kimmeridge clay. But these publications are far from embracing the whole of the subject, nor have I borrowed from them any thing but a confirmation of my own deductions. The details of the present work have been derived from no other source than the personal observation of the author; and the general views which it contains, of the geological relations of the district, have been founded upon those details.

* Annals of Philosophy for May, 1826.

In 1822, a work was published by the Rev. G. Young and Mr. Bird, * of which the object appears to differ very little from mine; and some apology, perhaps, is due from me for entering upon a field of research which may seem to be already occupied. I take this opportunity of acknowledging the descriptive accuracy of the “Geological Survey of the Yorkshire Coast;” but that survey differs from my undertaking in many material respects. I have not only given a general section of the coast, but have measured the heights, and have added sections in detail. It has been my object not only to figure the most remarkable fossils, but to describe every ascertained species, and to construct a complete catalogue of all that have been hitherto discovered on the coast, distributed in the order of the strata to which they belong. But the most essential difference between the two undertakings is this,—that whilst the authors of the “Survey” have contented themselves with assigning the local relations of the strata, I have considered them also in reference to the general system of geology, and have identified them even in their minute divisions, by a close examination and comparative survey, both of their mineral characters and of their organic contents, with corresponding portions of the same strata in other parts of Great Britain. There are

* Death, after long illness, has prevented this amiable artist from contributing any more to the illustration of the geology of his native county. The distinction which he acquired was of the most honourable kind, gained without the advantages of a liberal education, by the resolute application of a vigorous and original mind. As a painter, Mr. Bird's talents, more fortunately encouraged, might have raised him to eminence; as a geological observer, his merit was conspicuous and original ; and his devotion to the subject was proved, by unremitting attention to the phenomena of his neighbourhood during the last fifteen years of his useful life.

[ocr errors]

instances in which even the local identity of beds cannot be ascertained by their mineral characters and relative position alone, and in some of these my opinion will be found to differ from that of the authors of the

Survey,” in consequence of their having rejected the principle of identification by the organized fossils, a principle which I consider as the most important yet established in geological science, and of which I trust that the present work will be found to furnish some new and strong confirmations.

I cannot omit this opportunity of expressing my sincere thanks to the Officers of the Philosophical Societies of Yorkshire, Leeds, Hull, Whitby, and Sheffield, for the liberality with which they have opened to me their rich and valuable museums; as well as to the proprietors of above twenty private cabinets, who have zealously forwarded my views. To those friends who have kindly interested themselves in the success of my publication, I have endeavoured to prove my sense of obligation by devoting myself to render it more worthy of their patronage.

But there is one individual whose constant and considerate benevolence, warm encouragement, and valued participation in my geological pursuits, demand my highest thanks; and those only who like

have found unexpected kindness and unmerited attention, can fully understand the feelings with which I mention the Reverend W. V. VERNON, President of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society.

[blocks in formation]

Condensed view of the discoveries respecting the structure of the earth,

which have produced the modern practical system of Geology.

The most extensive subject which falls within the range of human acquirement, is the study of nature. To comprehend the phenomena of the material world, and to illustrate the secret laws by which they are governed, requires the joint labour of many minds. To facilitate this investigation, nature is conceived to be divided into distinct sections, each of which gives title to a science. Geology is one of these, and its professed object is to develope the natural history of the earth. It aspires to learn the various materials of which our planet is composed, and to determine the manner, and, as far as secondary causes are concerned, the means of its construction. Mineralogy, chemistry, botany, zoology, are all associated with geology; their advancement keeps pace with its progress, and every discovery which rewards the cultivation of them, throws new light on the revolutions which have visited the earth. Even the astronomer, who employs himself in observing other planets and other systems, and the mathematician, who determines the forms and densities of spheroids, are fellow-labourers with the practical observer of the strata.


If, then, so many delightful themes of human study are directly or indirectly connected with the earth, there is no need to assert the interest, it would hardly be possible to display all the advantage, which is to be expected from the study of geology. It must be evident that not only our daily wants are supplied, and our comforts provided, by various productions which acknowledge the earth for their common parent, but that the charms of scenery, and all the lovely variety of nature, are so intimately dependent on peculiarities in the structure of the earth, that no one can think uninteresting a science which embraces the contemplation of so many sources of human enjoyment. Let us, then, be spared that question which is clamorously repeated to the authors of new discoveries, “ What is the use of it?” To those who direct the thousands that labour in the mine or the coal-pit, I refer the question, What is the use of the principles which have extended our controul over the subterranean riches of our country ? In the extension of mines and collieries, and in the construction of roads and canals, we experience the value of a science, which, though noiseless in its career, and with no pretension in its appearance, lends strong support to national wealth and individual happiness ;-a science which, under many discouragements, has gradually uplifted itself and spread itself around, till there is, perhaps, no corner of the earth which contains not a man desirous of investigating its physical history,

Geology, as a system of observation and induction, is decidedly of modern origin. Some of the more obvious facts connected with it, could not, indeed, be overlooked in the most inattentive age. Such are the sinking of rivers into the ground, and gliding along subterranean channels, of which such elegant descriptions ornament the poems of antiquity. Nor did the ancients pass, without a momentary reflection, those fossil shells which are inclosed in rocks, and buried in mountains, far removed from the sea. The lines of Ovid are known to every one; and the simple conclusion he draws of the dry land having once been sea *, has

vidi factas ex æquore terras, Et procul a pelago conche jacuere marine.

« AnteriorContinuar »