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and because she had not time to present to the world those actions which would have justified the caprice of fortune with regard to her.
M. PERIN states that upwards of twenty thousand persons were deprived of life, or banished to the deserts of Siberia, by Biren, the worthless favourite of the Empress Anne; and whom she afterward raised to the dukedom of Courland. An elegant tribute is here paid to the amiable and philosophical Stanislaus. The causes which ensured the sovereign power to the late Catherine are thus not less correctly than concisely stated:
Peter III., whose education had been neglected, had gradually addicted himself to every species of debauchery. It was his design to cut off his son from the succession to the throne, in which act the hatred which he bore to the mother was to be vented on the offspring : indeed it is asserted that he had determined to confine both in the fortress of Schlusselbourg. A part of the troops, however, was disaffected to him; the nobles reproached him for having neglected them, and for having filled the highest situations with strangers; and all saw with extreme concern the Empress his spouse, who was justly beloved by thenation, on the eve of experiencing from her husband the most unjust and odious treatment.'
Though the author is rather the panegyrist than the dispassionate historian of the late Catherine, yet even he imputes to her one grand fault, viz. her entire neglect of her son and successer. He states that, until the death of his mother, the Prince was kept at a distance in the country, without having any share in public affairs; and it is pretended that she designed to disinherit him, in order to give the crown to Alexander, the eldest of her grandsons.'
M. PERIN blends with his narrative frequent invectives against British commerce, which betray either pitiable igno rance or a base servility: in other respects, the present work is a valuable compendium, of which the excellences greatly overbalance the defects.
Traité élémentaire de Géologie, &c. i. e. An Elemen-
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A LTHOUGH this publication is intitled an elementary treatise on geology, it is in reality a controversial work, consisting almost entirely of an attack on the hypothesis of the late Dr. Hutton, as given to the world by his friend Professor Playfair. M. DE LUC indeed fully acknowleges this to be the
case, since he informs us that he proposes to employ the Illustrations ** as a text for his discussions: a resolution to which he strictly adheres; for al thoughmany important and interesting observations are dispersed through every part of the book, yet to this text they have all an immediate reference. The author commences by a preliminary discourse of considerable length, in which he not only announces the plan of his future proceedings, but offers many considerations respecting the general state of geological science, of the methods that have been adopted to promote it, and of the causes which have rendered those methods so often unsuccessful. He points out, with considerable effect, the important purposes to which this branch of natural philosophy may be made subservient; and he even thinks that it forms a very essential part of a course of theological studies: for he supports the opinion that the credit of the Old Testament, and of revealed religion in general, is connected with the accuracy of the Mosaic account of the creation. It does not become us to obtrude on this occasion into the department of theology: but, as connected with this subject, we may remark that the writer lays no claim to any supernatural knowlege on this point; and it is undesirable to burden revelation with a difficulty which is not necessarily attached to it.
Before he enters on the controversial part of his work, M. DE L. pays a handsome tribute of respect to the merits of his antagonist, to whom he allows many qualifications for the task which he undertook: but he honestly states his opinion that both Dr. Hutton and Mr. Playfair were deficient in the number and extent of their observations, which appear to have been confined to Great Britain. To the justice of this allegation we are much disposed to assent; and we think it is impossible for any one to peruse this volume without being struck wit the immense advantage which a geologist possesses, who has had frequent opportunities of studying the majestic and singular forms of the mountains of Swisserland.-M. DE LUC properly begins by taking a concise view of the theory which he proposes to controvert. In the first place, it is important to observe respecting it, that it does not profess to give any account of the original state of the earth, but aims only at discovering the laws which regulate the changes which it experiences. The succeeding paragraph, we believe, contains a correct outline of the Huttonian doctrine :
* "Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth, by J. Playfair."
According to these geologists, (Hutton and Playfair,) our globe is so constituted, that, while the continents are destroyed by air, gravity, and currents of water, their materials, being carried by them to the sea, are, by its different actions, spred over the bottom of the ocean. A great internal heat hardens these materials, from which results a mass similar to that of the mineral strata of which our continents are composed. When the existing continents are thus destroyed by their degradation, the same heat, which has hardened these strata at the bottom of the sea, raises them; this circumstance repels the sea on the eroded continents, and produces new continents, thus delivered to the action of the air, of gravity, and of the currents of water, and afterward to that of the sea, in order to spread the materials over its bottom, where the heat prepares strata for new continents, to be elevated at proper periods.'
It follows from this view of the subject that a series of suc'cessive changes have been going on for millions of years, and are still acting, by which continents are alternately formed and destroyed: the one mutation is supposed to be at all times slowly proceeding, and the other to take effect at uncertain intervals. The operation by which continents are broken down may, it is conceived, be detected in all quarters; while the only evidence which we have of the effects of the internal heat is derived from observations of phænomena, which are best explained by admitting its existence. A leading point, in which the hypothesis of Hutton differs from that of DE Luc, consists in the former supposing that the surface of the earth was at first level, and that the valleys have been formed by subsequent operations; while the latter maintains that external causes tend rather to diminish than to increase the depressions on the earth's surface. On this position depends much of the force of Dr. Hutton's arguments; and accordingly the present author takes great pains to prove its fallacy. He first attempts to shew that the broken materials, which are carried down by rivers from the higher parts of the earth, and are detached by the waves of the sea from its shores, are not deposited at the bottom of the ocean, but on the banks of the rivers, or in particular situations along the coasts of the sea. It is evident that this question must be decided by an appeal to facts; and we cannot but acknowlege that Dr. Hutton and his friend apIpear rather to have adopted the idea as generally plausible, than as one in favour of which they had it in their power to adduce any direct proofs: M. DE LUC, on the contrary, cites a number of examples in which the wrecks of portions of land, which had been broken down by the action of water, have been deposited at the mouths of rivers, or on some shores less exposed to the action of the wind and waves.
Perhaps, however, a still more important consideration, in this and in every other theory which attempts to account for the present state of the earth, depends on the manner in which it can explain the formation of mineral strata, which may be regarded as the great basis of all our continents. As the author observes, 'a great number of hypotheses have been formed on this subject, which have been successively abandoned, from their having been conceived in the infancy of observation; so that, except that which I am now examining, the theory which has been adopted by the most celebrated geolo gists is that the substances have been successively separated from a liquid by chemical precipitations.' Into the merits of this much agitated question, we do not at present propose to enter we shall only observe that the author objects to the hypothesis which supposes that the strata have been formed by deposition, and afterward been exposed to heat, since no cause seems to be assignable for the different strata having been deposited separately, and in an order not always conformable to their specific gravity; an effect which, it is thought, can have been produced only by a chemical precipitation from a solution. Dr. Hutton supposed that all these strata were deposited at the bottom of the ocean: we are, then, naturally induced to inquire by what means they have been raised so as now to be (many of them) much above the level of the surface of the sea; either the water has been much depressed, or the land much elevated. Here, again, our combatants take opposite sides; Dr. Hutton supposes that the mountains have been forced upwards by vast subterranean fires, while M. DE Luc thinks that the surface of the sea has been considerably lowered, and that thus the most elevated parts of the land have been left uncovered.
Two sets of causes seem to have concurred to bring the world into its present condition, which it is necessary to distinguish from each other; viz. those causes which have long ceased to act, but the effects of which are sufficiently visible, and those causes which are still continuing to act. The latter are principally the atmosphere, and currents of water, the operation of which is perpetually going on but the earth never could have acquired its present state without the intervention of some great revolution, or catastrophe, which must have been produced by some cause no longer in existence. Dr. Hutton assumes, as a datum essential to his hypothesis, that an immense length of time must have elapsed in order to have brought the globe into its present condition; whereas M. DE LUC supposes that the commencement of the process, which is now in action, is comparatively of recent date. With
a degree of candour which is unfortunately not always found among men of science, he pays the most handsome tribute to the sagacity of his celebrated countryman Saussure; whose writings he regards as forming quite a new era in geology, and which disclosed a new scene to him; as if,' he says, a veil, through which he had been before studying the moun tains of our globe, had been suddenly, withdrawn.' To Saus sure is in a great measure due the discovery that all mountains, whatever be their present form, are composed of strata which were originally horizontal; and especially that granite, the basis of every other component of our globe, is a stratified
The controversial questions to which we have now referred may be considered as composing the basis of the present author's work; the other subjects which are introduced being either brought forwards incidentally, or with a view to confirm some of the above leading positions. A few years ago,
M. DE LUC addressed a series of letters to Dr. Hutton, soon after the publication of this gentleman's paper in the Transactions of the Edinburgh Royal Society; and some of those letters, which originally appeared subjoined to several volumes of the Monthly Review, are inserted in the book before us. The first of them is principally occupied with an examination of the doctrine respecting the action of currents of water, in breaking down the most elevated parts of the earth's surface, and depositing them at the bottom of the ocean. The argu ments which the author opposes to this opinion are, we think, very plausible, and almost decisive. It is stated that the fragments which are brought down by rivers are deposited near their mouths, or on particular parts of their banks; and that the tops of mountains, especially those which are composed of the wrecks of other strata, are often covered with vegetation, and even with forests, proving that the process of degradation has ceased to operate in those situations. It is remarked also that the ravages committed by rivers, and by the waves of the sea, have a natural tendency to come to a termination, because the most abrupt and exposed precipices, when they are broken down, compose by their fragments a species of basement
*See Vol. Ixxxi. Appendix, and Vols. ii. iii. and v. N.S. Appendixes. M. DE Luc refers in the present work to these letters having been printed in the M.R. and speaks of them as being little known:' but we shall be glad, for his sake, if the circulation of the volume now before us equals even a fifth part of that which the letters in question obtained by our means.
APP. REV. VOL. LXII.