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moved beyond the date usually algned to it.
I ET TER V.
LET TER VI.
Notes and Iliufirations to Letter VIII.
Notes and Illustrations to Letter IX.
OF THIS GLOBE.
Insufficiency and Contrariety of various modern Systems on the Forma
tion and Structure of the Earth.—Coincidence of antient Traditions with the Scriptural Account of the Creation and Deluge.—Attempt to prove from these, and from the Infancy of Population in Times not very remote, the Reality of a general Deluge, and its Antiquity not far removed beyond the Date usually assigned to it.
In the agreeable tour we made together in Switzerland, the aspect of its mountains stretching on all sides range behind range, pile over pile, in vast and rude magnificence; the various and often singular disposition of their strata ; the frequent marks of ruin and
dislocation visible on their shattered flanks; the correspondent angles of the rocks bordering their vallies, apparently excavated by torrents which could bear no proportion to their present scanty rills, gave occasion to ruminate on their original formation, and the convulfions which they must have since experienced. Our reflections on these objects frequently led us to converse on the formation and revolutions of the earth itself. As we failed along the frequent fakes of this wonderful country, the undoubted marks of waveworn rocks on their opposite sides, many toises above the present level of their waters and much above their possible reach, Thewed us plainly that those immense cavities had once been filled with them to a much greater height. This circumstance strongly connected the changes wrought in these high regions with those which must have consequently happened on the lower surface of adjacent countries. The multiplicity of these objects, whilft it afforded constant materials for new reflections, gave us little time for discussion ; and we then mutually promised each other to communicate our ideas more at leisure on these interesting and difficult subjects, on which are daily built so many different systems. I am far, I own, from poffefsing all the various parts of science which would be requisite to treat this subject as it deserves ; but from the perusal of antient history, from the writings of others, and the reflections which their various fystems have suggested, as well as from my own observations, I have framed to myself fome ideas, which in confequence of my promise I lhall venture to communicate, in hopes
at least that it may engage you at some time to comply with
I must confess that I have yet met with no system amongst the vaunted philosophers of your nation which appears to me fatiffactory. Their several authors labour to account for the whole order and disorder which appear in our planet (for both are strongly marked) by one single elementary cause operating during an infinity of
ages. In consequence of this predilection for a single agent, whether fire or water, they frequently see their systems exposed to embarrassing dilemmas, or overturned by contradictory facts.
I should rather think that it is by admitting several co-operating or successive causes, that we may at length form some plausible idea of the original formation of the present structure of our globe, and of the revolutions which must have occasioned its actual dislocated ftate. I say plausible, because I think natural philosophy, whatever progress it has made, yet too far from that perfection of which it may be capable, to afford any thing very decisive on the subject. That it ever will be able to attain any thing like certainty, is much to be doubted,
Almost all the authors of these new systems, to conduct the works of Nature to their present state, require an almost infinite series of ages. Great alterations operated by a general deluge are