« ZurückWeiter »
continued, appears to have languished At the second general meeting, the for some time, till about the year 1777, Secretary gave in a lift of those noblewhen its meetings became more fre- men and gentlemen who had accepted quent, and, from the uncommon zcal of the invitation to became members. and diftinguified abilities of the late He also informed the meeting, that Henry Home, Lord Kaimes, at that he had been directed by the Vice-presi. time elected President of the institution, dent and members of the Philosophical its business was conducted with re- Society of Edinburgh, to deliver their newed ardour and success.
minute-book, and all such differtations About the end of the year 1782, and papers as were in their Secretary's in a meeting of the Profeflors of the hands, to the Royal Society. The University of Edinburgh, many of minute-book and papers were accordwhom were likewise members of the ingly received, and given in charge to Philosophical Society, and warmly at- the General Secretary. tached to its interests, a scheme was The compilation of the printed tranproposed by the Reverend Dr Robert- factions of the Royal Society of Edinfon, Principal of the University, for burgh, is to be made in the followthe establishment of a New Society on ing manner: The papers read at the # more extended plan, and after the monthly meetings, and deposited in model of some of the foreign Acade- the hands of the Secretaries of the mies, which have for their object the two clasies, are subjected to the recultivation of
branch of science, view of the Cominittee for Publication, erudition, and taste. It appeared an which consilts of the President, Viceexpedient measure to folicit the Royal Presidents and Council, the General Patronage to an institu.ion of this na- Secretary and Treasurer of the Soture, which promised to be of national ciety ; together with the Prelidents importance, and to request an etablish- and Secretaries of the two classes. ment by charter from the Crown. This Committee makes a selection of The plan was approved and adopted; papers, and determines the order in and the Philosophical Society, joining which they are to be published. It is its influence as a body, in seconding not, however, to be understood, that the application from the Univerfity, those papers which do not appear in his Majefty was molt graciously pleaf- the Transactions of the Society are ed to incorporate the Royal Society thought unfit for the public eye. Seof Edinburgh by Charter.
papers have been communicated The first general meeting of the with the fole view of furnithing an Royal Society of Edinburgh was held, occasional entertainment to the memin terms of that Charter, on Mon- bers; and that end being answered, day the 23d day of June 1783, and have been withdrawn by their authé Right Hon. Thomas Miller of thors: Elays, observations, andcafes, Barskimming, Lord Justice-Clerk, was are often read at the meetings of the chosen President of the meeting. Society, in order to obtain the opini
It was then unanimously resolved, ons of the members on interesting or That all the members of the Philoso- intricate subjects : Some papers intendphical Society of Edinburgh should be ed for a future publication have been assumed as members of the Royal So- withdrawn for the present by their auciety: And it was likewise resolved, thors, in order to profit by what has That the Lords of Council and Sef- occurred in the conversations which fion, the Barons of Exchequer for the reading of the papers has fuggeftScotland, and a select number of other ed ; and others, of acknowledged me. gentlemen, should be invited to a par- rit, the Committee has found it necelticipation of the Society's labours. fary to reserve for a subsequent yolame. Nor is the publication of any worthy of public notice, on account paper to be considered as exprelling of the useful information it contains, any concurrence in opinion with the the hints which it may suggest, or the auchor: It only intiinates, that the ingenuity which it displays. Committee judges the paper to be
Abftract of a Differtation read in the Royal Society of Edinburgh, upon the
gth of March and 4th of April 1785, concerning the System of the Earth, its Duration, and Stability. By James Hutton, M. D. F. Ř. S.
Nthis Dissertation, the system of the transacted. Thus it is by the opera. as presenting to us a machine of a pe- of season in Spring and Autumn are culiar construction, wisely adapted to a obtained, that we are blessed with the certain end. But not only is the globe vicissitudes of Summer's heat and of this earth a moving machine, it is Winter's cold, and that we possess the also a habitable world, and this may benefit of artificial light and culinary be examined, in order to perceive how fire. But there are other actuating far the means employed have been powers employed in the operations of wisely calculated to fulfil the purpose this globe, which we are little more for which it was designed.
than able to enumerate ; such are those To acquire a general or compre- of electricity and magnetism, of which hensive view of this mechanism of the the actual existence is well known, globe, by which it is adapted to the although the proper use of them in purpose of being a habitable world, it the constitution of the world is still is necessary to distinguish three differ- obscure. ent bodies which compose the whole. We have thus surveyed the machine These are, a solid body of earth, an in general, with thpse moving powers aqueous body of sea, and an elastic by which its operations, diversified alfluid of air.
most ad infinitum, are performed. Let It is the proper shape and difpofi us now confine our view more partition of these three bodies that forms cularly to that part of the machine on this globe into a habitable world; and which we dwell
, that so we may conit is the manner in which these con- sider the natural consequences of those ftituent bodies are adjusted to each o-operations, which being within our view, ther, and the laws of action by which we are better qualified to examine. they are maintained in their proper A solid body of land could not have qualities and respective departments, answered the purpose of a habitable that form the theory of the machine world; for a loil is necessary to the now examined.
growth of plants, and a soil is nothing Besides this mechanism of the globe, but the materials collected from the there are powers employed, by which destruction of the solid land. There. motion is produced, and activity pro- fore the surface of this earth, inhacured to the mere machine.
bited by man, and covered with plants Gravitation and vis infta preserve and animals, is made by nature to de this body in its orbit round the fun. cay, in disolving from that hard and Light and heat, cold and condensa- compact state in which it is found betion, are the powers by which the va- low the soil ; and this foil is necellarious operations of the habitable earth, rily washed away, by the continual ciror living world, are more immediately culation of the water running from the Vol. VII. No 39.
summits of the mountains towards the there be, in the constitution of this general receptacle of that fluid. world, a reproductive operation, by
The heights of our land are thus which a ruined constitution may be levelled with the shores ; our fertile again repaired, and a duration or Itaplains are formed from the ruins of bility thus procured to the machine, the mountains ; and those travelling considered as a world sustaining plants materials are itill pursued by the mo- and animals, ving water, and propelled along the If no such reproductive power, or inclined surface of the earth. These reforming operation, after due inquiry, moveable materials, delivered into the is to be found in the constitution of sea, cannot, for a long continuance, this world, we should have reason to relt upon the shore ; for, by the agi- conclude, that the system of this earth tation of the winds, the tides and cur- has either been intentionally made imrents, every moveable thing is carried perfect, or has not been the work of farther and farther along the shelving infinite power and wisdom. bottom of the sea, towards the unfa. In what follows, therefore, we are thomable regions of the ocean. to examine the construction of the
If the regetable foil is thus con- prcfent earth, in order to understand stantly removed from the surface of the natural operations of time past; to the land, and if its place is thus to be acquire principles by which we may fupplied from the diffolution of the conclude with regard to the furure solid earth, as here represented, we course of things, or judge of those omay perceive an end to this beautiful perations by which a world, so wise machine ; an end, arising from no er- ly ordered, goes into decay; and to ror in its constitution as a world, but learn by what means fuch a decayed from that destructibility of its land world may be renovated, or the waste of which is so necessary in the system of habitable land upon the globe repaired. the globe, in the economy of life and As it is not in human record, but vegetation.
in natural history, that we are to look We have now considered the globe for the means of ascertaining what has of this earth as a machine, conitruc- already been, it is here proposed to ted upon chymical as well as mecha- examine the appearances of the earth, nical principles, by which its different in order to be informed of operations parts are all adapted, in form, in qua- which have been transacted in time lity, and in quantity, to a certain end; past. It is thus that, from principles an end attained with certainty or fuc- of natural philosophy, we may arrive cess ; and an end from which we may at some knowledge of order and fyfperceive wisdom, in contemplating the tem in the economy of this globe, and means employed.
may form a rational opinion with re But is this world to be considered gard to the course of nature, or to ethus merely as a machine, to last no vents which are in time to happen. longer than its parts retain their pre- The solid parts of the present land sent position, their proper forms and appear, in general, to have been comqualities ? or may it not be also con- posed of the productions of the sea, lidered as an organized body? such and of other materials fimilar to those as has a constitution, in which the ne- now found upon the shores. Hence cessary decay of the machine is natu- we find reason to conclude, rally repaired, in the exertion of those 1/, That the land on which we productive powers by which it had rest is not simple and original, but been formed
that it is a composition, and had been This is the view in which we are formed by the operation of second how to examine the globe ; to see if caules,
2dly, That, before the present land parated from their solvent ; secondly, was made, there had sublilted a world the fusion of bodies by means of heat, composed of sea and land, in which and the subsequent congelation of those were tides and currents, with such o: consolidating substances. perations at the bottom of the sea as With regard to the operation of dow take place. And,
water, it is first considered, how far Lastly, That, while the present land the power of this folvent, acting in the was forming at the bottom of the o- natural situation of those strata, might cean, the former and maintained plants be sufficient to produce the effect; and and animals ; at least, the sea was in- here it is found, that water alone, withhabited by animals, in a similar man- out any other agent, cannot be supponer as it is at present.
fed capable of inducing solidity among Hence we are led to conclude, that the materials of strata in that situation. the greater part of our land, if not the It is, 2dly, considered, how far, fupwhole, had been produced by operations posing water capable of consolidating natural to this globe; but that, in order the strata in that situation, it might to make this land a permanent body, be concluded, from examining natural resistingtheoperations of the waters, two appearances, that this had been actual. things had been required; 1/, The con- ly the case? Here again, having prosolidation of masses formed by collec- ceeded upon this principle, that water tions of loose or incoherent materials; could only consolidate strata with such 2dly, The elevation of those consoli- substances as it has the power to disdated masses from the bottom of the folve, and having found strata consosea, the place where they were collec- lidated with every species of substance, ted, to the stations in which they now it is concluded, that strata in general remain above the level of the ocean. have not been consolidated by means
Here are two different changes, of aqueous folution. which may serve mutually to throw With regard to the other probable some light upon each other ; for, as means, heat and fusion, these are found the same fubje&t has been made to un- to be perfectly competent for produs dergo both these changes, and as it is cing the end in view, as every kind of from the examination of this subject fubitance may by heat be rendered soft, that we are to learn the nature of or brought into fufion, and as strata those events, the knowledge of the are actually found consolidated with one may lead us to some understand- every different fpecies of substance. ing of the other.
A more particular discussion is then Thus the subject is considered as entered into : Here, consolidating subnaturally divided into two branches, stances are considered as being claffed to be separately examined: First, by under two different heads, viz. filicewhat natural operation strata of loose ous and fulphureous bodies, with a materials had been formed into folid view to prove, that it could not be by masses ; fecondly, By what power of means of aqueous solution that strata eature the consolidated strata at the had been consolidated with those parbottom of the fea had been transform- ticular substances, but that their coned into land.
solidation had been accomplished by With regard to the first of these, means of heat and fusion. the consolidation of strata, there are Sal Gem, as a substance soluble in two ways in which this operation may water, is next considered, in order to be conceived to have been performed; show that this body had been last in first, by means of the solution of bo- a melted state ; and this example is dies in water, and the after concretion confirmed by one of follile alkali. -The of these dissolved substances, when se- case of particular septaria of iron-stone, Аа 2
as well as ćertain crystallized cavities in considering by what power the conin mineral bodies, are then given as folidated strata had been transformed examples of a similar fact ; and as con- into land, or raised above the level of taining in themselves a demonstration, the sea, it is fupposed that the same that all the various mineral substances power of extreme heat, by which eve. had been concreted and crystallized ry different mineral sub tance had been immediately from a state of fufion. brought into a melted ftare, might be
Having thus proved the actual fu. capable of producing an expansive force, fion of the substances with which stra. fufficient for elevating the land, from ra had been consolidated, in having the bottom of the ocean, to the place such fluid bodies introduced among it now occupies above the furface of their interstices, the case of strata, con- the sea. Here we are again referred solidated by means of the simple fusion to nature, in examining how far the of their proper materials, is next con- strata, formed by successive sediments fidered ; and examples are taken from or accumulations depofired at the bot. the most general strata of the globe, tom of the sea, are to be found in that viz. filiceous and calcareous. Here regular state, which would necessarily also demonstration is given, that this take place in their original production; consolidating operation had been per- or if, on the other hand, they are acformed by means of fusion.
tually changed in their natural fituaThe substance of granite is next tion, broken, twisted, and confoundconfidered; that substance which forms ed, as might be expected, from the those great irregular masses of the earth. operation of fubterranean heat, and Here also it is shown, from a particu- violent expansion. But, as strata are lar example, that this body of granite actually found in every degree of frachad also been in the fluid state of fu- ture, flexure, and contortion, confiftfion.
ent with this fuppofition, and with no Having come to this general con- other, we are led to conclude, that clusion, that heat and fulion, not a- our land had been raised above the queous solution, had preceded the con- surface of the fea, in order to become folidation of the loose materials collec- a habitable world; as well as that it red at the bottom of the sea, those con- had been confolidared by means of the folidated strata, in general, are next same power of subterranean heat, in examined, in order to discover other order to remain above the level of the appearances, by which the doctrine fca, and to regst the violent efforts of may be either confirmed or refuted. the ocean, Here the changes of strata, from their This theory is next confirmed by natural state of continuity, by veins the examination of mineral veins, those and fiffures, are considered; and the great fissures of the earth, which conclearest evidence is hence deduced, tain matter perfe&tly foreign to the that the strata have been consolidated strata they traverfe ; matter evidently by means of fusion, and not by aque- derived from the mineral region, that ous folution ; for, not only are strata is, from the place where the active in general found interfected with veins power of fire, and the expansive force and cutters, an appearance inconsistent of heat, reside. with their having been consolidated : Such being considered as the operfimply by previous folution ; but, in ations of the mineral region, we are proportion as strata are more or less hence directed to look for the maniconsolidated, they are found with the festation of this power and force in proper corresponding appearances of the appearances of nature. It is here veins and fiffures.
we find eruptions of ignited matter With regard to the second branch, from the scattered volcanoes of the