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BY HAMILTON L. SMITH, A. M.
SHELL LIMESTONE, FROM THE MOUTH OF THE THAMES.
(From Mantell's Medals of Creation)
“ The World is God's Epistle to Mankind.”—Plato.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
BY EXCH GE
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1848,
BY HAMILTON L. SMITH, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Ohio. PREFACE, .
THE importance of the sciences of Astronomy and Geology, is acknowledged by every one. Few, however, find sufficient leisure to bestow upon these subjects much attention. They look upon the ponderous tomes which men of science have from time to time prepared, with a sort of indifference, as too learned for them. And yet, show any of these, a curious star in the heavens; tell them of the wonders revealed by the telescope; exhibit to them, the impression of a fish in sandstone, or chalk; or show them through a microscope, the curious and distinctive structure of fossil teeth, or the infusoria in a fragment of flint; and they will give willing attention. Since, then, the subjects themselves are so interesting, so profitable, and withal harmless, we have endeavored—with what success will hereafter appear— to supply a desideratum long felt. The object of the present volume is to present in a popular manner, so much of Astronomy, Meteorology, and Geology, as seemed desirable for everyone to know. While no pretensions are made to scientific accuracy, yet it is believed that the book will be found worthy of an attentive perusal. There is little to be gained by merely glancing here and there at a page; the knowledge thus obtained, if any, will be small, and soon lost. The attentive reader will, if the book be worth perusing at all, find sufficient to amply repay for the time thus spent. It should hardly be necessary for any one at this late day, to offer an apology in behalf of Geological studies, because of the fancied contradictions to the Mosaic chronology. Writers on this subject heretofore, have spent no little pains, in what we may well term, endeavoring to “make darkness visible.” So apologies were once offered for Astronomy, when that noble science , taught the diurnal and annual motions of the earth. We have felt called upon to make no such apology, but simply to state the A*
facts, well convinced that true philosophy and religion go hand in hand, and that if “an undevout astronomer is mad,” so must be an undevout geologist. How vast, and how ennobling the ideas of Creative Power and Wisdom, which these sister sciences afford. The mind is overwhelmed by the immensity of creation, whether itstrives to reach beyond the faintest and fartherest star yet discovered through optic glass, or whether it endeavors to reckon the years elapsed since the first granite rocks upreared their rugged steeps amid the primeval waters. Though we have gazed for whole nights at those dim streaks of nebulous matter in the heavens, at the planets, and revolving stars, when there were companions with us, no longer upon earth; and though we have split open the sandstone shales, and picked out the fossil shells, and looked for hours at little fragments of fossils through the microscope, we do not feel our time as wasted, or wholly spent in vain, if we may be the means of communicating to others a knowledge of these pleasant subjects. However imperfect the execution of our work may be, yet to it we have given long and patient attention. We cannot claim much merit for originality. Among the host of scientific men whose lives have been spent in original investigations, it would be strange could we not find better illustrations than our own; we are still but learners. Should the present attempt to produce a popular work upon Astronomy and Geology prove successful, it is anticipated following it up with a volume upon the planets and stars; for in the present, only so much of Astronomy is presented as is necessary to understand the motions and general phenomena of our earth. The chapters on fossil remains are not as many as might seem desirable; perhaps we may more perfectly and fully review the same subjects hereafter in another volume. It is but right to say that the engravings have all been executed in this city by Mr. J. Brainerd; and when we add that they are not from transfers, but from pencil drawings, they will be acknowledged as very creditable specimens of the artist’s skill. Cleveland, August, 1848.