« PrécédentContinuer »
filled with the spoils of the land. They have afforded a great number of skeletons of land quadrupeds, but these relics are confined almost entirely to one small member of the group, and their conservation may be considered as having arisen from some local and accidental combination of circumstances.” It has been customary to group together with the Basin of Paris, those of the Isle of Wight and London, as if they were individuals belonging to the same family and had a contemporaneous formation. This, however, is an entire mistake. The substratum of chalk is found in all of them ; but gypsum
and its mammiferæ, &c. is to be found neither in the Basin of the Isle of Wight nor in that of London. In the London Basin are found organic remains of elephants, hippopotami, &c.
It has been often asserted that MAN, from never having been found in the state of a fossil, must needs belong to a creation comparatively recent, as the commencement, perhaps, of what Mr. Lyell would call a "geological cycle ;" which, however, we confess our inability to comprehend: and if there is one more decided attempt to strike at the very foundation of Revelation than another, it is this ;—but, it is not more repugnant to Revelation than to sound philosophy and right reason, nor is there a single fact that can be brought forward to warrant such an assertion. Suppose that nothing of the kind had really been found, would it not be rash in the present infant stage of geological science, to infer that such may not be found ? and yet this has been received among geologists as a species of axiom; when the vast diluvial beds of clay and gravel, and the superior strata in Asia, shall have been explored, it will be time enough to venture on such a conclusion ; but to hazard this opinion at present, is of a piece with the sweeping assumptions of geologists from first to last. Sacred History and profane writers agree that the cradle of the human race was in the East, and in a geological point of view, at any rate, that quarter of the globe is a complete terra incognita. The very record of creation presupposes an universal distribution of vegetation, and
of the tribes of inferior animals all over the globe. But it was not so with man, he was solitary, and confined to a little Goshen of his own. We are not warranted to think that the human family was as multiplied and dispersed as some have supposed, or had increased to any thing like the extent, it has been assumed. Besides, man is a gregarious being, and his diluvial wreck may be discovered in some vast charnel deposits in districts yet unexplored. We pity the evasive shifts to which those who reject Revelation are reduced in considering this question. Let us take Mr. Lyell's remarks. “But another and a far more difficult question may arise out of the admission that man is comparatively of modern origin. Is not the interference of the human species, (!) it may
be asked, such a deviation from the antecedent course of physical events, that the knowledge of such a fact tends to destroy all our confidence in the uniformity of the order of nature both in regard to time past and future? If such an innovation could take place after the earth had been exclusively inhabited for thousands of ages by inferior animals, why should not other changes as extraordinary and unprecedented happen from time to time? If one new cause was permitted to supervene, differing in kind and
before in operation, why might not others have come into action at different epochs ? Or what security have we that they may not arise hereafter? If such be the case, how can the experience of one period, even though we are acquainted with all the possible effects of the then existing causes, be a standard to which we can refer all natural phenomena of other periods?” Now these are certainly very heavy reasons, and entirely neutralize Mr. Lyell's assumptions, (for they are no better); while our author, in these very admissions, becomes suicidal to the whole drift of the argument for which his volume was written. The title of this certainly otherwise interesting volume is this ;—“Principles of Geology, being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth's surface, by reference to causes now in operation." Let us examine how Mr. Lyell meets his own inferences.
“ Now these objections” says he, “would be unanswerable, if adduced against one, who was contending for the absolute uniformity throughout all time of the succession of sublunary events.” Then follows an assurance that he is not disposed to indulge in the philosophical reveries of the Egyptian and Greek sects. He, however, says nothing about those of India :-shall we call Mr. Lyell a “ geological logician,” and is this to be accepted as a specimen ? If Revelation is to be encountered with this kind of logic, it may be safely met with pity and contempt.
It is a very curious circumstance, that geologists have so contrived to overlook all evidence of the existence of the fossil remains of man, that the discovery of the gallibi, or human skeletons, found imbedded in a grey limestone in the island of Guadaloupe, does not even receive an incidental remark. Some attempt, it is true, has been made to set aside the important fact, and to consider it a mere modern incrustation, referrable to the commencement of the last century. Those who with us have attentively examined this fossil remain, cannot, we think, be quite so easily persuaded that it is so; and such opinions are by no means reconcileable with the facts which Mr. Kænig has detailed in the Transactions of the Royal Society, for 1814. Organic remains more completely fossilized it were not easy to find ; and they are certainly much less equivocally so than many to which this character is granted without reserve. When men are determined to reject facts because they militate against pre-conceived ideas, they will do so at all hazards ;-accordingly, this has been done in reference to the human skulls which have been found associated with the remains of the rhinoceros, hyæna, lion, &c., and consolidated in the limestone rock of Kösritz. In one quarry, (winters) the human bones were found eight feet below those of the rhinoceros, and twenty-six feet below the surface. But because many species of bones of recent animals have been found with human remains in the gypsum quarries, these are presumed to be of later origin than those in the limestone. “I am far from thinking,” says M. Schlotheim, in reference to the organic remains of man in the caves of Kösritz, “the explanations satisfactory which I have attempted of these phenomena, and am disposed to consider the human bones to be of a later epoch than the larger land animals of the ancient world; all other reported cases of human remains accompanying the bones of beasts of prey have not been confirmed.” This is a specimen of geological logic, in reference to our question; accordingly, Dr. Buckland, while he readily admits that M. Schlotheim's hypothesis is altogether unsatisfactory, coalesces in the opinion, “ that the human bones are not of the same antiquity as those of the antediluvian animals that occur in the same caves with them.” These afford good examples of geological logic,—the petitio principii being first assumed, facts are made to pay homage to fancy and whim. Since these may be antediluvian remains, for aught that can be proved to the contrary, Dr. Buckland is not warranted to say, (except as a "geological logician”) that “the case of Kösritz affords no exception to the general fact, that human bones have not been discovered in
any of those diluvial deposits which have hitherto been examined.”—In June, 1829, M. Cordier read, before the Academy of Sciences, part of a memoir addressed to him by M. de Christol, Secretary of the Natural History Society of Montpellier; this interesting communication related to two caves that had been recently discovered in the Department of the Gard, which contained bones. It appears that these caves were discovered by M. M. Dumas and Bonause : one is situated at Pondre, and the other at Jouvignargue, near Sommières. M. de Christol seems to have examined them with considerable care and attention ; and from an acute examination of the specimens obtained by digging, is convinced that they exhibit incontestable evidence of a mixture of human bones with bones of mammiferæ belonging to extinct species. According to M. de C. the organic remains of animals mixed with those of man belong to the hyæna, badger,
bear, stag, aurochs, ox, horse, wild boar, and rhinoceros. Some of the bones, according to M. de Christol, bear evident marks of hyænas' teeth; and the album græcum of these animals was also discovered in the caves. M. Cordier seems to consider these facts as very important. Besides these instances, human bones have been found in the caves of Bize, near Narbonne. Some of the bones, being apparently of much more recent origin than any fossils hitherto discovered, seem to connect, it is said, the present geological period with that which preceded historical records. It is stated, that at Bize, in the same beds, are found human bones mixed with bones of extinct species, all possessing the same physical and chemical characters.
These bones are entire, and bear no evidence of their having been gnawed; while there is also the entire absence of large carnivora, which, had such been found there, in a fossil state, might have had all the blame of having carried in these bones. Professor Jameson admits that if M. de Christol's discovery be correct, it is more in favour of a mixture of human bones with the remains of antediluvian animals, than the evidence of the caves near Narbonne ; and Mr. Lyell promises, in his forthcoming volume, to bring a little "geological logic” to play on the caves of Bize. We have only to state, in addition, that a grotto has been lately discovered near Palermo, the capital of Sicily, by Sig. Bernardi, containing considerable remains of human bones, as well as those of hippopotami, mammoths, and other mammiferæ. Numerous other instances might be added; but these are, perhaps, the least equivocal: and if the phenomena can, by possibility, be explained away in any manner, geologists will not listen to any thing which may threaten this their favourite hypothesis—for it has no right whatever to the name of a theory—Vox et preterea nihil : it is now their favourite pet. The theory of successive developement has been wrested from the
grasp logist, and he will not part, without a severe struggle, with the non-contemporaneous existence of man in an early epocha of the world. This is a point for which,
of the geo