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more than upon teachers, he never would have fallen into such mistakes ?
Let us now see how far the reviewer has succeeded in the objects he had in view. His great and leading aim, as he announces it, is to give me a timely monition that the eye of the critic is upon me, and will
expose the errors and fallacies of his favorite,' in order that I may 'give more heed to my composition, and weigh more accurately my conclusions in science.' 'In doing this, he supposes he has accomplished several subordinate objects. The first was to demolish my whole system of ornithichnology, and to convert my bird-tracks into 'septaria and stria.' This he had a perfect right to do, if he could; and, indeed, in my memoir on that subject, I stated that the presumption derived from geological analogies is decidedly opposed to the facts and inferences which I have presented: and hence I expect that geologists, as they ought, will receive these statements and conclusions, not without hesitation and strong suspicions that I may have been deceived: but I shall be happy to be corrected whenever I am erroneous, even in my fundamental conclusions.'*
Let us try the strength of the reviewer's objections to my views.
The first is, 'the immense depth of rock in which they occur.' Here he has made a quotation from my memoir, which, insulated from what precedes and follows, conveys the idea that these impressions have actually been dug out from such a depth : whereas they have not been found in any place more than ten feet below the actual surface. It is only a theoretical inference that strata several hundred feet thick once covered these spots. But admit this to be true: and what shadow of an objection does it present against my conclusions? For since all the rock was formed by mechanical deposition, there was a time when the deepest layer constituted the surface; and the water over it might have been shallow enough to allow the long-legged grallæ to impress its bottom.
The second objection is, that the cavity of the track is filled with a silicious concretion.' Here again my memoir is quoted as if this were always the case; whereas it is there stated to be true only in a few cases. But what if it were always thus ? The reviewer, who professes to be familiar with the sand-stone of the valley of Connecticut river, must know that some portions of that rock are harder than others, and that this is often the case with those masses that occupy former cavities in it. And why the depression made by an animal's foot might not sometimes be thus filled, so as to be somewhat more firmly concreted than the rock in general, I am wholly unable to conceive.
The third objection is, that the impression extends up as well as down, often passing obliquely through the rock.' This fact is exactly what we might expect, as I have endeavored to show in my memoir, if these impressions were made by birds on mud; and until some argument is adduced, beside the mere ipse dixit of this writer, to disprove my reasoning, I have a right to consider it sound.
The hairy or bristly appendage that seems to have belonged to some of the animals which made these impressions, proves, either that they were not grallæ, or that the grallæ of the sand-stone days differed in
• Journal of Science, vol. 29. pp. 338 and 340.
this respect from those that now inhabit the globe; but it does not prove that the impressions are not the tracks of birds.
The reviewer has given an entirely erroneous view of the plates accompanying my memoir, for which, it seems to me, he can offer no apology, since my statements are very explicit. I gave one plate which exhibi a comparative view of all the varieties of these foot-marks, not drawn from any one set of specimens, but presenting the results of all my observations on the subject. And this writer represents this to be the case with all the plates; so that nothing can be learnt from them, since they are the work of imagination. But the two other plates I have particularly described as drawn from specimens, most of which are now in my possession. To give drawings on the same principle as the comparative view, is very common among geologists; as any one may see by looking into Cuvier's Ossemens Fossiles, where he will often find
restitué' written under complete skeletons, only a few bones of which were ever discovered. Still more inexcusable is the reviewer's statement that
my ornithichnites giganteus had only two toes; for I have not only explicitly stated that it has three, but have given a plate of the natural size, in which the three toes, almost as large as a man's arm, are exhibited. One would hardly believe that he had read my article at all, but had undertaken to criticize it from hearsay.
The finishing stroke for the demolition of the ornithichnites, is supposed by the reviewer to be given, by a new theory to explain them. He supposes them to be ' septaria and striæ, often mistaken for impressions presenting the most fantastic figures and shapes, of which the ornithichnites of the professor probably compose one family, the gigantic gorgonia of eighteen feet by ten of his Geolog. Rep. Mass., (p. 237,) another, etc.' To reason against such an absurd opinion as this, would be lost labor, for it only requires a single glance at the birdtracks, and the septaria and stria,' to be satisfied, that hardly any two things can be more unlike. I have seen multitudes of what I suppose the reviewer means by ' septaria and stria,' and I declare that they are entirely different from the ornithichnites; and I have little doubt but if he will take the trouble just to look at my specimens of the latter in the cabinet of Amherst College, or even at the casts, of some of them, which he will find in the Lyceum of Natural History in New York, or in the Yale College cabinet, or in the rooms of the Boston Natural History Society, the view would annihilate this hypothesis, even in his own mind. These casts, I confess, do but very poor justice to the originals; but if he will come to this place, (incog. if he chooses,) I shall take pleasure in showing him a broad table, fifteen feet long, entirely covered with them. And here let me ask, did not candor require that he should have got sight of at least one fair specimen, before publishing to the world an array of arguments and mis-statements, which will operate to my prejudice abroad, but which — every one of them - will be seen to be of no weight, the moment an individual inspects the specimens. I travelled more than five hundred miles, and spent nearly all my leisure time for more than six months, in the examina. tion of these specimens; and although I was ultimately obliged to write my memoir on the subject in so short a time that I could not give all the alieption that was desirable to literary niceties, yet the principal state
ments and conclusions in that paper were made with great care, and a scrupulous regard to accuracy. Therein, I invited geologists to inspect my specimens, in order to test the correctness of my conclusions. Yet this reviewer does not think it necessary to wait till he can judge by ocular inspection; but expects, with a dash of his pen, to demolish the fabric which cost me long and severe labor to build. Let him who reads, and especially him who has seen an ornithichnite, judge whether he has succeeded.
And this is not all. He means, in the same sweep, to annihilate my gigantic gorgonia of eighteen feet by four -- not ten, as he incorrectly states. Here again, I can only say, come and see. Whether I am right or not, in referring this fossile to gorgonia, of one thing every one who examines the specimens will be satisfied — viz: that it can neither be referred to . septaria' nor.stria.'
The next step of the reviewer carries him to the very climax of absurdity on this subject. He says that the silicious (they are calcareous) concretions,' in the tertiary clay beds of the Connecticut valley, present appearances precisely similar in character to those described by me. Truly, he must have a very accurate idea of my ornithichnites, or gorgonia, if he supposes them precisely similar 10 the clay stones of that valley. For if I were to search through the kingdom of nature for an object of comparison, the last one I should select would be these concretions.'
The reviewer will do me the credit to believe, that I find it full as great a load as I wish to bear, to be obliged to shoulder my own errors, and defend my own opinions. He will not think it strange, if I complain, when charged with those of other people, as he has done, when he represents it as one of my 'extravagancies' that I believe Mount Tom and Mount Holyoke were once united, and that the pass between them has been excavated by the waters of the Connecticut, or by the currents of a primitive lake. And to prove this to be my opinion, he has referred to the topographical part of the first edition of my Geological Report, where I merely alluded to this opinion, without going into a discussion of its merits. Whereas, had he turned to the scientific part of the same work, he would have found (p. 140, second edition) that I have devoted several paragraphs to a refutation of this opinion: and I could call several hundred young gentlemen, graduates of Amherst College, and now scattered throughout the land, to prove, that for the last ten years, I have been in the habit of devoting the greater part of a lecture to the same object. Why, then, am I charged with defending this opinion ? Just because the reviewer has undertaken to criticize my writings, without having carefully read them.
Such are my geological peccancies: and I assure the reviewer that they are mere peccadillos, compared with what he might have found in my writings on geology, had he carefully read them: or had he, to save time, inquired of me, I should have cheerfully furnished him with much more glaring examples of my extravagancies,' want of accuracy,' and early disadvantages.' So that if my writings are likely to be condemned by the tribunal of the public, in consequence of this effort of the reviewer, à fortiori, they would fall under the ban of the literary world, were a more thorough adversary to assail them, or should I become my own accuser. If, however, my ornithichnites should take wing, as the reviewer supposes, I am quite sure they will
be accompanied by his ' septaria,' and 'stria,' and 'silicious concretions, to that place described by Milton :
All these upwhirld aloft,
Not in the neighboring moon, as some have dream'd.' Now for my blunders in Greek. The fatal sentence that makes the reviewer 'tremble for our reputation and our language,' is the following: I include all the varieties of tracks under the term ornithichnites, (oprio and tuxvoo) signifying stony bird tracks.' Here he declares that my precipitancy and unpardonable haste' have betrayed me into 'no less than four egregious blunders. Let us examine them seriatim.
The first is the use of the medial s at the end of ornis, instead of the final. Here, alas ! either I or the printer must plead guilty: and as the manuscript is lost, I cannot charge it upon him; and so I must sustain this dreadful load of literary guilt. Ashes of Plato, Isocrates, and Demosthenes! I know that you, like the reviewer, tremble and groan in your lowly beds, at so great an outrage upon your beloved language! Had it been a common writer who had thus indecently made the tail of a sigma to frisk in its neighbor's face, it might have been tolerable: but it was one whose productions are quoted as decisive authority,' and therefore this usurper must maintain henceforth its terminal position. Justly, then, must I be doomed, for the time to come, to have my imagination haunted with that terminal caudal sigma, and to hear the classic world groaning under the incurable wound. But I am not without consolation, if it be consolation in misery to have a companion. For in the first line of the paragraph in which the reviewer points out my error, he has committed the same. If he attempts to escape, by saying that he used the final sigma only to show
mistake, then I inquire, why he did not do the same in the next line, where he points out the next blunder in τιχνος ? ?
This terminal sigma in 11yvos, constitutes my second egregious blunder. The third is, the use of 11yvos for iyros, there being no such word in the Greek language as tiqvos. The charge here is, if I understand it, that I have coined a new Greek word. And if it be indeed true, that my decisive authority' has done this, what immense labor will it impose upon the lexicographers ! — for what with the new word, and what with the caudal sigma, they can never be satisfied, until new editions of their works are published. But seriously: what if, fol. lowing the example of the reviewer, I should quote from his article, where the Hebrew letter vau is written van, and gravely inform the reader that no such letter exists in the Hebrew alphabet ?-leaving it to be inferred that he had coined a new one; or refer to his pachydaetyli for pachydactyli, as proof that he had formed a new Greek word? Would not every candid man see that these are press errors, for which probably the printer was more in fault than the author. And would not the noble-minded be apt to apply to the critic, who should thus bring
forward every lapsus pennae or lapsus typographi, as an egregious blunder,' the cutting words of Horace, parvum parva decent ? I cannot tell, because my manuscript is destroyed, whether tau was prefixed to igros by the printer or my myself
. But however low I may stand in the public estimation, I have no fears, when they look at the word ornithichnites, that they will believe I intended to use tiqvos instead of vyvos in its composition.
The fourth egregious blunder consists in supposing he had made out the signification of stony' from vyvos, which means simply a trace or track.' But according to the reviewer's third objection, I made use of tiyros instead of ixros; and after coining a new word, whose etymology could not be traced, had not a man, whose `authority is decisive,' a right to give it the signification of stony, or any other meaning which he chose? However, I can assure him that I never dreamed of deriving the signification of stony from either of these words. I supposed the termination ite, so common in oryctology and mineralogy, to be derived from hedos; and that every naturalist understood this, so that it was unnecessary to allude to it in my description. I am not certain that I am correct in this assumption: but if I mistook in this matter, it was owing neither to 'precipitancy,' nor'un pardonable haste:' for I weighed the matter as thoroughly as I could, with the means of information within my reach. It would probably have been better for me to have given a literal translation of ornithichnites, or birdtrack stone ; or had I written it ornithichnolite, which I should now prefer, it would have removed all obscurity.
An enlightened public must now judge how far the reviewer's castigation is deserved. By that public my imperfect productions have ever been received with far more favor than I had a right to expect, and I ought to be thankful. I have always known that my essays were peculiarly exposed to criticism ; for in general, it has been my lot to write upon subjects about which there exists a great variety of opinions among intelligent men. And beside, Providence has so ordered the events of my life, that I have never had any able and sympathizing class-mates, and but few intimate acquaintances among scientific men, who would be ready at a hint to forestall public opinion by a flattering review, or an able defence. Again, I am free to acknowledge that I have generally been so situated, from causes beyond my control, and which are of a nature too personal and private to detail in the public ear, that the alternative has been before me, either to send forth my productions with many deficiencies, or never to publish them at all. I have decided to print them, on the ground that they contained statements which would be of service to the public, even though accompanied with many imperfections. Notwithstanding the benevolent intentions of the reviewer, to make me more careful in future, by endeavoring to give me an earnest of what awaits me from the critic's lash, if I am not more humble and cautious, I fear there will not be much change for the better, should I trouble the public with any farther productions. For in the first place, the peculiar private causes of imperfection, alluded to above, will proba. bly never be removed. Secondly, a venerable clergyman once told me that it was of no use to contradict a man who had passed his fortieth year, and I have reached that period. And thirdly, in correcting me, I think I have shown that the reviewer has not set so perfect an example of