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Lyell, Sir Charles (1797-1875) 1st Baronet, geologist
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Letter from Charles Lyell

Kinnardy, Forfar - Thanks WW 'for the great service you have done all geologists and me in particular by your splendid article in the British Critic' ['Lyell's 'Principles of Geology' volume 1', British Critic, 1831]. The 'keeping out of view all collision between geology and theology is a piece of tact which all [here] regret that the Quarterly Review did not do - no one more so than the editor - But for my running my head against the history of opinion I should have done this as carefully as you, I shall in v.2.' CL greatly admires what William Buckland has achieved in such an atmosphere. Can WW help him with his nomenclature: 'I cannot freely connect Sedgwick and other geologists whose judgment I much respect'. The 'only terms and divisions on which I feel quite decided are first to separate Tertiary and Contemporary'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

Further to his problems with nomenclature [see CL to WW, 27 January 1831], CL gives his thoughts on certain terms: 'I might perhaps call the whole group of those canes the Ca[e]nophorous formation - whereas Cenophorous would approach too near to Cenotaphous - would it not be possible now to talk of Ca[e]nary briefly, as of tertiary...To throw out tertiary would I fear be too great an innovation as yet...I believe tertiary must until abandoned, as it will be by and by, be extended to all the cenaries'. CL is now looking for 'a term for the much abused word 'diluvium'' - 'I propose to adopt Bigsby's [John J. Bigsby] term Protalluvion'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

2 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn - CL has nearly overcome his difficulties in nomenclature: 'Your arguments for curtailing the superfluous vowels satisfy me, and the threat of the future reviewer is most agreeable'. CL thinks 'Paracene and Procene tho' pretty words ought not to be used as comprehensive grouping names, for there would then be confusion between the greater and the subordinate Cenes. Your Cenogenous is infinitely better than my Cenophorous, especially for a reason which must always be kept in view in chronological names in geology, that it may with propriety be affixed to each of the separate tertiary beds, rocks etc and their contents - now I should not wonder if the terminology which we are now constructing should ultimately prevail over every other hitherto invented'. CL proceeds to talk about the terminology coined by the French geologist, Alexandre Brongniart. CL gives his definitions of the geological divisions - Hypogene, Paleogene, Cenogene and Contemporary.

Letter from Charles Lyell

2 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn - CL would like WW to review his second volume ['Principles of Geology'] in the Quarterly. 'The part finished contains my whole theory of the continual changes now going in the animate world and the processes by which the state of the same at any given period is communicated, in other words the fossilizing of recent remains'. Reinnard is coming out with a work on the Indian Archipelago in which his facts regarding recent elevation confirm and 'go far beyond' CL's first volume. The medical, literary and law professors at King's College have been well chosen, but the same can not be said for Botany, Zoology and Experimental philosophy.

Letter from Charles Lyell

2 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn - CL was annoyed that WW had good reason not to put forth 'your strength for the Q. R.' A similar experience happened to CL: 'I felt as you do that one cannot write if uncertain that your work will see the light'. CL knows that Lockhart [John Gibson Lockhart] liked his review of CL's first volume ['Principles of Geology']: 'it was pronounced your best product in point of style'. He sends WW a few sheets from volume two of his 'Principles of Geology'. CL would like WW not to 'say anything about our failures at King's College'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

2 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn - CL was surprised and complimented that WW had already read the 300 pages he had sent him ['Principles of Geology', volume 2, 1832]: 'Recollect that all I have hitherto said against catastrophe is little else than dogmatizing to one who has not seen or read of the evidences which forced me against all my prepossessions to adopt my present creed...I hope you will be an umpire on this question, and therefore restrict yourself for a time to the ample subject of the evidence of organic changes already left you and reject as not yet proved, or attempted to be proved whatever advance respecting the slowness and uniformity of geological changes'. WW may be convinced by the next three chapters. CL has found that 'Hoffman [Friedrich Hofmann?] sent from Sicily an account of the country to which I owe my conversion just when von Dechen [Heinrich von Dechen], Miterlisch [Eilhard Mitscherlich?], and Von Hoff [Karl E A von Hoff?] were reading my book and to this I attribute the now favourable reception of my doctrine at Berlin'. Hoff has reviewed CL at length - an expose of his views as opposed to a critique. 'Dechen writes to Murchison [Roderick Murchison] 'Conybeare's [William Conybeare] reply in the annals is the work of a learned and able divine in support of a lost cause''.

Letter from Charles Lyell

CL intends to launch 'the 300 pages which you have' ['Principles of Geology', volume 2, 1832] next week. Murray [John Murray - publisher] will see Lockhart [John Gibson Lockhart] to secure a place in the next number of the Q. R. for WW's review of his work. CL has 'tried to leave the reader in suspense about the whole theory of successive creation...I think it will relieve you of one great difficulty to say that as the question of 'whether organic beings have come in gradually, or by batches', is completely one to be decided in geological evidence it is premature to discuss it...I wish to keep back the theory which I believe to flow irresistibly from the facts now established by the succession of species in the fossils of the tertiary strata'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

2 Raymond Buildings, Gray's Inn - CL received WW's review of his work and read it with great pleasure [Review of 'Lyell's 'Principles of Geology', volume 2', Quarterly Review, 1832]. He has sent it to the printer (minus the opening sentence which he thought over the top) with a request to send a copy to the editor of the Quarterly Review [John Gibson Lockhart] and WW. If Lockhart does not like it he will send it to the Edinburgh Review.

Letter from Charles Lyell

London - CL has forwarded WW's corrections [Review of 'Lyell's 'Principles of Geology', volume 2', Quarterly Review, 1832] to the printer. Lockhart [John Gibson Lockhart - editor of the Quarterly Review] has read WW's review article and tells CL: 'there are some passages in which the style is 'contorted' - I would willingly give him two sheets if he would indulge in enlarging, not on your book for there is just about enough of that already but on the source of the more popular subjects treated of in your volume'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

CL gives some brief comments made by Lockhart [John Gibson Lockhart - editor of the Quarterly Review] concerning WW's article [Review of 'Lyell's 'Principles of Geology', volume 2', Quarterly Review, 1832].

Letter from Charles Lyell

The Athenaeum Club - CL hopes WW did not object to the revisions made to his article for the Quarterly Review by its editor - John Gibson Lockhart [Review of 'Lyell's 'Principles of Geology', volume 2', Quarterly Review, 1832].

Letter from Charles Lyell

London - CL has just received a letter from Scrope [George Poulett Scrope] giving his opinion of CL's 'Principles of Geology', volume 2 and the review of it in the Quarterly Review [WW, Review of 'Lyell's 'Principles of Geology', volume 2', Quarterly Review, 1832]: 'Scrope is regarded by Lockhart, Murray and Co. as a first rate reviewer an opinion in which I fully coincide'. He thought the review was good and fair, and thought it by either Fitton [William Henry Fitton] or Greenough [George Bellas Greenough]. The most common complaint against CL's book is that the most original part - the extinction of species - is the least dwelt upon.

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - CL would like WW to be at the anniversary on Friday [Anniversary of the Geological Society, 19 February 1836], he would like WW to propose the Astronomical Society and the health of either Airy [George Airy] or Baily [Francis Baily].

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - Further to the three terms WW coined for CL's new tertiary periods, he needs two more to replace 'Primary' - 'because 'primary' implies a theory now universally recognised to be false'. The other term is ''stratific primary' as to granite and its kindred unstratified rocks I mean to call the plutonic'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - CL wrote to WW yesterday to announce that he would be recommending him to become the next President of the Geological Society. He has heard from Murchison [Roderick Murchison] that WW has taken a favourable view.

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - It is customary for the outgoing President of the Geological Society [CL] to recommend a successor: 'allow me to nominate you'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - Until CL gets a definite commitment from WW to become the next President of the Geological Society he cannot recommend him to the Council.

Letter from Joseph Dalton Hooker

Kew - JDH had not read WW's 'History' [The History of the Inductive Sciences, from the Earliest to the Present Time, 1837] for upwards of five years: 'I am surprised to find how little there is to add, and nothing that affects the general purport of the work' [WW is bringing out the third edition]. The only two subjects to require touching up are Cryptogamia and Geographical Botany. If WW wants to follow up developments on the former he will send him 'Berkeley's Intro. to Crypt. Bot': - [Miles J. Berkeley, Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany, 1857] Henfrey's [Arthur Henfrey] Report to Brit. Assn. [BAAS] - and a German pamphlet or two'. With regard to geographical Botany, he agrees with WW that in the strict sense it belongs to Paleontology: 'I am puzzled what to say about about it - my own opinion being, that in the present state of our knowledge, we are quite in the dark as to the philosophy of distribution. This subject however occupies so much of the attention of Botanists and Geologists, that it can scarcely be avoided'. Charles Lyell's views are the 'most able and original, and as developed by Edward Forbes have thrown a new light'. We must 'draw upon our imaginations, as to assume that species are created as such, and in one place only'. WW will find it worth while looking at JDH's recent review of Augustin Pyrame de Candolle's work upon Geographical Botany: 'I appear (to myself) however there to favor the doctrine of transmutation more than I really do...My views of progression in Fossil Botany are directly opposed to the prevalent ones; - those I mean which Hugh Miller advocates so strongly'. JDH will also send WW 'another Introductory Essay, and contains some observations upon the study of Systematic Botany; whatever may be good in this attempt is as you will see due in a great measure to the influence of the 'History of the Inductive Sciences' upon the author'. JDH gives a few suggestions on certain other details. The foundations of the natural system were laid by Carl Linnaeus, to a greater extent than most botanists are aware of. 'Brown's [Robert Brown] discovery of gymnosperm is the only real advance hitherto made in the right direction'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

CL has got his clerk to make a copy of the lists of toasts made in the last two anniversary meetings of the Geological Society [enclosed]: 'Appoint Proposers and Replyers or all will go wrong'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - Further to their conversation concerning CL's doctrine of 'uniformity' in his 'Principles of Geology', certain passages from the first edition have been unfairly seized upon by his critics and not fairly considered. CL believes that any reader of Adam Sedgwick's anniversary address to the Geological Society 'would suppose that I had contended for 'an indefinite succession of similar phenomena' [Address, p. 25]. And the suggestion by AS that he had not made due allowance for the creation of man. However, CL did claim in the first edition that this 'innovation' was 'a new cause differing in kind and energy from any operation' and mentioned it as an unanswerable objection against any one who was contending for absolute uniformity. p. 156'. CL's 'notion of uniformity in the existing causes of change always implied that they must forever produce an endless variety of effects, both in the animate and inanimate world'. He 'did not lay it down as an axiom that there cannot have been a succession of paroxysms and crises on which 'a priori reasoning' I was accused of proceeding, but I argued that other geologists have usually proceeded on an arbitrary hypothesis of paroxysms and the intensity of geological forces, without feeling that by this assumption they pledged themselves to the opinion that ordinary forces and time could never explain geological phenomena'. There is a traditional prejudicial emphasis in geology 'that in attempting to interpret geological phenomena the bias has always been on the wrong side, there has always been a disposition to reason a priori on the extraordinary violence and suddenness of changes both in the inorganic crust of the earth and in organic types, instead of attempting strenuously to frame theories in accordance with the ordinary operations of nature'. WW should read what AS has to say on the two different methods of theorising in Geology and what he says in his address for 1831 of De Beaumont's system of parallel elevations and CL's chapter on the same subject: 'De Beaumont's system was properly selected by him as directly opposed to my fundamental principles...It was a theory invented not only without any respect to the reconciling geological events with the ordinary course of changes now in progress but it evinced at every step that partial leaning to a belief in the difference of the ancient causes and operations which characterises the system of my opponents'. AS was 'prompted by the same theoretical bias which assumes the discordance between the former and existing course of terrestrial change...I know not how much of De Beaumont's theory Sedgwick now believes, probably but a small part of it'. AS 'considered that my mode of explaining geological phenomena, or my bias towards a leading doctrine of the Huttonian hypothesis, had served like a false horizon in astronomy - to vitiate the results of my observations - But has he not himself been unconsciously warped by his own method of philosophizing which he has truly stated to be directly at variance with mine!' CL gives a detailed answer to AS's critique of his work. If CL had plainly stated as Herschel had done in his letter to CL regarding the 'possibility of the introduction - or origination of fresh species being a natural in contradistinction to a miraculous process I should have raised a host of prejudices against me which are unfortunately opposed at every step to any philosopher who attempts to address the public on these mysterious subjects'. CL attempts to distinguish between a Uniformitarian and the Catastrophist by an imaginary case by appealing to WW's work in tides and a hypothetical case. 'The difficulty which men have of conceiving the aggregate effects of causes which have operated throughout millions of years far exceeds all other sources of prejudice in Geology and is yet the most unphilosophical of all'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

London - A short account of the Council meeting at the Geological Society and views regarding the editorship of the Society Transactions. Administration at the Society is too much and requires payment: 'I have long thought that the sacrifice is too great for any man in his senses to undertake who is not paid and who is not induced by circumstances to take it as part at least for pecuniary motives'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

Leonard Horner was at Manchester when WW's letter arrived and he gives the answer CL thought he would [attached to CL's letter is Horner's reply, in which he expresses his desire to be President of the Geological Society but unfortunately has not got the time]. CL has produced a list with Horner concerning possible candidates - Michael Faraday, George Poulett Scrope, William Buckland. CL wishes Egerton [Philip de Malpas Grey Egerton] had been ready - other 'vigorous and fresh men' include Richard Owen and Charles Darwin.

Letter from Charles Lyell

Glasgow - Murchison [Roderick Murchison] showed CL WW's letter, and both agreed that it 'was so strong that it would be impossible to name WW next day in spite of it' [next President of the BAAS?]. Lord Northampton declared against himself being chosen claiming it was the turn of a scientific man. 'There has never been so much about our being honoured by so many dukes and marquisses in three speeches by three persons since you left that the naming one Mr Whewell as the next President is the only thing that can redeem our proceedings from the reproach of taking a very low standard in the estimate of the real dignity of scientific men and in turn the true objects of science'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

London - CL has written to Adam Sedgwick to tell him that he will be dining with WW and the two ladies, and will not be turning out for the Field Lecture 'as the ladies could not enjoy the sport and it would cut up our short stay'. CL has no criticisms to make of WW's speech - which he enjoyed even though he missed a great deal through interruptions.

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - CL congratulates WW on being made Master of Trinity College: 'I suppose it is because I have been a traveller in a land without titles, that I hardly know in what manner I ought now to address you, either in the inside or outside of this letter'. CL gives a brief outline of his travels in the US and the vast collection of fossils and rocks he has gathered.

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