Item #5000879 Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation. Sir Charles LYELL.
Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation.
Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation.

Principles of Geology…
Principles of Geology: Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation.

London: John Murray, 1832-32-33.

Three volumes, octavo, with a total of 11 plates, two of which are hand-coloured frontispieces, and including three maps, two of which are folding and two coloured; without the half-title in vol. 3, not called for in other volumes; bound in later plain calf, flat spines banded and numbered in gilt, red leather labels.

"My books came half out of Lyell's brain" (Charles Darwin)

A good early set of this classic by 'the father of modern geology', composed of the second edition of the first volume, and first editions of the other two volumes. Principles of Geology "has been called the most important scientific book ever... [it] shook prevailing views of how the earth had been formed" (Cambridge). "One of the key works in the nineteenth century encounters between science and Scripture, Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology sought to explain the geological state of the modern Earth by considering the long-term effects of observable natural phenomena. Written with clarity and a dazzling intellectual passion, it is both a seminal work of modern geology and a compelling precursor to Darwinism, speculating on radical changes in climate and geography across the ages, and exploring the evidence for the progressive development of life" (Secord).

A good early set of this classic by 'the father of modern geology', composed of the second edition of the first volume, and first editions of the other two volumes. Principles of Geology "has been called the most important scientific book ever... [it] shook prevailing views of how the earth had been formed" (Cambridge). "One of the key works in the nineteenth century encounters between science and Scripture, Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology sought to explain the geological state of the modern Earth by considering the long-term effects of observable natural phenomena. Written with clarity and a dazzling intellectual passion, it is both a seminal work of modern geology and a compelling precursor to Darwinism, speculating on radical changes in climate and geography across the ages, and exploring the evidence for the progressive development of life" (Secord).

The second edition of the first volume was the edition in print when the second volume appeared. Just 1500 copies had been published of the first volume in 1830: no one had anticipated the immediate success of the revolutionary book: eleven editions would eventually appear during Lyell's lifetime, and at the time of his death he had just finished his revisions for the first volume of the 12th edition.

The book was to have a fundamental effect on the development of Darwin's thinking. "When the Beagle expedition sailed in 1831 Henslow presented Darwin with the first volume of Lyell's Principles of Geology … The second volume of Lyell's book reached Darwin in Montevideo and his constant references to the enormous influence on his thinking of this great work are typified by a letter from him to Leonard Horner saying 'I always feel as if my books came half out of Lyell's brain'" (PMM). Darwin openly acknowledged that Lyell's identification of changes operating over huge periods of time to create geological features was part of the key to his development of the theory of natural selection. He remarked that 'The great merit of the Principles was that it altered the whole of one's mind, & therefore that, when seeing a thing never seen by Lyell, one yet partially saw it through his eyes'.

'Charles Lyell's Principles of Geology shaped Darwin's vision of nature as he circumnavigated the globe on the Beagle and as he later created his theory of evolution … Darwin became his most enthusiastic advocate, and found the Principles immensely liberating from the moment of landing on his first tropical island during the Beagle voyage. The young naturalist used the book to develop his own causally-oriented style of interpretation, comparing the uplifted but scarcely disrupted rocks in the mid-Atlantic Cape Verde Islands with the Temple of Serapis. Later in the voyage he reinterpreted the origin of coral reefs, overturning the model that Lyell had advocated; but the style of reasoning was that of the master, who altered his next edition accordingly. When Darwin began to consider the possibility of species evolution after his return home, he did so in private dialogues with the Principles…" (Secord, pp. ix & xxxvi).

Collation:

I: pp. xvi, 586 (as against 511 pp in the first edition); II: pp. xii, 330; III: pp. [iii] (title)-xxxii, 398, 109 [1] (adverts.).

There are different states and issues of the first editions involving the state of the publisher's advertisements and by the presence or absence of a colophon leaf in volume 2. There is no separate final leaf (Z2) in volume 2, which in copies that have the leaf is used only for the printer's details as a colophon. Most copies of volume 2 including ours do not include advertisements, but a copy recently described by a colleague had 16 pp. advertisements dated December 1831. Volume 3 of our copy has a single page ("Works on Science and Natural History Published by Mr. Murray") as its final p.[110], matching most copies recently described except one which contained 3 pp. undated advertisements.

Provenance: Thomas Swanwick, M.D., ca. 1790–1859, of Macclesfield, Cheshire (with his armorial bookplate and his signature on back of titlepage in vols 1 and 2); the third volume with modern bookplate of Henry & Carol Faul (authors of "It Began with a Stone: A History of Geology").

Dibner, Heralds, 96; Grolier/Horblit, 70; Norman, 1398; Printing and the Mind of Man, 344.

Condition Report: minor spotting, overall a very good set.

Price (AUD): $7,850.00

US$5,094.63   Other currencies

Ref: #5000879

Condition Report