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I. ETTER V.
OF THIS GLOBE.
Infufficiency and Contrariety of various modern Sytems on the Formation 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 ufually affigned to it.
IN the agreeable tour we made together in Switzerland, the aspect of its mountains ftretching on all fides range behind range, pile over pile, in vaft and rude magnificence; the various and often fingular difpofition of their strata; the frequent marks of ruin and
dislocation visible on their fhattered flanks; the correspondent angles of the rocks bordering their vallies, apparently excavated by torrents which could bear no proportion to their prefent fcanty rills, gave occafion to. ruminate on their original formation, and the convulfions which they must have fince experienced. Our reflections on thefe objects frequently led us to converfe 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 oppofite fides, many toifes above the prefent level of their waters and much above their poffible reach, fhewed us plainly that thofe immenfe cavities had once been filled with them to a much greater height. This circumftance ftrongly connected the changes wrought in these high regions with those which must have consequently happened on the lower furface 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 fo many different fyftems. I am far, I own, from poffeffing all the various parts of science which would be requifite to treat this fubject as it deserves; but from the perufal of antient history, from the writings of others, and the reflections which their various fyftems have fuggefted, as well as from my own observations, I have framed to myself fome ideas, which in confequence of my promise I shall venture to communicate, in hopes
at least that it may engage you at fome time to comply with yours.
I must confefs that I have yet met with no fyftem 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 fingle elementary cause operating during an infinity of ages. In confequence of this predilection for a single agent, whether fire or water, they frequently fee their systems exposed to embarraffing dilemmas, or overturned by contradictory facts.
I should rather think that it is by admitting feveral co-operating or fucceffive causes, that we may at length form some plausible idea of the original formation of the prefent ftructure of our globe, and of the revolutions which must have occafioned its actual dislocated ftate. I fay plaufible, because I think natural philosophy, whatever progrefs it has made, yet too far from that perfection of which it be capable, to afford any thing very decifive 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 fyftems, to conduct the works of Nature to their prefent ftate, require an almost infinite feries of ages. Great alterations operated by a general deluge are induf