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south-east side, the sea of new red lies stretched before you, which here has worn away a pass, as it were, into the silurian, which on the northwest and south-west sides cover an extensive area.
From different points of the eminence on which the castle stands, you have stretched at your feet, or reared in masses around you, four great distinct and important geological formations. The new red, the carboniferous, old red, and silurian—the representatives of ages so incalculable that the mind refuses, or is unable to comprehend, their im mensity. Here is opened a book which records more wonderful, yet still truthful, events than the most fabulous relations of Eastern allegory ventured upon. North-east and south-east you view a large field of new red; it is a good type of the formation, and apart from its geological teachings, a most enchanting view. Its softened features are brought into immediate and striking contrast with the sharp outlines of the older formations. The murmuring streams, the tall poplars, and the small and glassy-looking pools, here and there broken up with a miniature ravine, bosky dell, or rounded elevations, form the foreground to massive mountains, rent, torn, and distorted, in places divided by dark gorges, out of which rush foaming torrents, bordered by the dark yew and tapering fir. Away in the misty distance the dark cavernous openings look so deep that imagination may well picture them the entrances to a nether world.
I have said this field of new red is a good type of the formation. Survey it as it lies before you, looking upon it as a calm sea, and not a solid surface; an estuary of the great sea of the same period that overflowed Cheshire, Lancashire, and the centre of England, it is here bounded within your view, its natural position, by the rocks of the older formation, from the debris of which it is composed. The disturbance previous to its deposition had upheaved the rocks of its bowdary line, between which it here lies like a lake.
Nature, as if wearied with the mighty convulsions that had rent her earlier works asunder, and almost annihilated life, now appears to have rested for a long period. Yet at times, during its depositions, there were some few convulsive throes comparatively trifling, leaving nevertheless distinct traces of their occurrence. We ascertain between the formations of the lower and upper series this disturbance took place, an epoch defined by the disturbed surface of the lower and comparatively undisturbed state of the upper. This is evidenced in our neighbourhood by the comparison of the lower formation in the Hundred of Wirral, and of the upper in the saliferous deposits of Northwich and the surrounding country. Better still in the Vosges Mountains, where the lower strata are thrown into bold mountainous formations, whilst the upper beds are stretched hundreds of feet below them.
The field under observation would show considerable disturbance if viewed apart from the rocks with which it is surrounded, but when contrasted with them it is comparatively even.
This miniature type, if carefully surveyed, fixes on the mind a correct idea of its mode of formation, materials, and general outline. The entire series is comparatively barren in fossil remains, and this may be accounted for by three causes; one, that the previous disturbances of the earth had been greatly destructive to life; another, the want of calcareous matter as a preserving medium; and also the large amount of oxide of iron which we find pervade most of its formations. In those formations, where there is an absence of the latter and presence of calcareous matter, as in the muschelcalk of Germany, we find fossils abundant and beautifully preserved. We must be careful, however, not to place too much reliance on the negative evidence on which its barren character rests. In the old red we have an instance of the danger of such evidence, and, in the pursuit of this science, instances are too frequent to warn us against allowing this, at best but a feeble element, to guide our conclusions.
I have attempted to sketch a geological picture rather than a geologi. cal outline of the new red formation. I have adopted this course because you have had, during the present session, the details of the formation of the new red of Cheshire and Lancashire, identical in their character with the present, most ably and elaborately dealt with by our esteemed member Mr. Morton; and I cannot help remarking that the details of geology are of so peculiar a character, often so local and apart from general observation, as rather to render them interesting to the student than a general audience; and I think great praise is due to that gentleman for rendering a paper, so peculiarly confined to the difficult details I have named, so singularly pleasing.
Turning from this panoramic view, permit me, before concluding, to call your attention to a feature of geological study often overlooked. much undervalued, I mean the physiognomy of geology. In a previous part of this paper I referred to the features,'peculiar formations, display, and also to the obvious assistance some professions may derive from their study. It may not perhaps have occurred to many (although remarked by writers), how intimately the character of the inhabitants of a country or locality would appear to be associated with the peculiarities of geological structure. A closer inquiry, however, reveals to us that temperament, social habits, literature, and religion of a people, are peculiar to certain formations. Take the inhabitants of the general field of new red, including the subsequent series, we shall find them distinguished by an ordinary evenness and placidity of temperament, yet easily roused—strange, yet obvious; similar development of physical structure and carriage, and a wide code of sociality, govern their intercourse; they are, in fact, true cosmopolites. Their literature, more especially their poetry, bears within itself evident marks of this singular distinction-soft and mellifluous in its metre; its picturesque colouring mellow-tinted; the murmuring stream, the rose and the violet interwoven in its poetical garlands; all are striking evidences how much the physical features of the surrounding medium give tone to our mental productions. In religion there is an equally strong line of demarcation. To be concise on this point, I would say there is in one a peculiar stratum of materialism, in the other (the older,) an elaboration of spiritualism. Reverse the picture, and take the inhabitants of the older formations, and you there find a striking difference. In physical structure a bolder sharper outline, lofty bearing, something akin to the stern features of nature developed around them. In habits retired, silent, often approaching to churlishness ; slow to passionate outburst, but when moved, like their mountain torrents, headlong and irresistible. Their poetry partakes of the character of their scenery; its imagery spiritual : whilst their religion is more than tinctured with that enthusiastical visionary typification, closely verging on what you may imagine pervaded the early world, when angels walked the earth and held converse with men.
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DONATIONS, FROM JUNE, 1855, TO JUNE, 1856.
1855.-Oct. 15. From the Society. Transactions of the Historic Society
of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. vii.
nomical Society, vol. xv. part 8.
Warwickshire Natural History Society.
Naturalist's Field Club, vol. ii. part 4.
Archæological and Architectural Society, vol. ii.
sophical Society of Manchester, vol xii.
Cinerary Urn, by J. T. Foard, Esq.
Society, 1849-51 and 1854-55.
Student, by Dr. Scott, Liverpool.
ples of Ivory Carvings.
pedition. Dec. 20. From the Author.--The Geognostic Relations of the
Flowering Plants of Great Britain, by J. G.
port of the Public Free Library.