Mr. Ruskin's Lecture on the Savoy Alps
Of Mr. Ruskin's admirable lecture on the Alps of Savoy, delivered at the Royal Institution, we have already given an abstract at p. 256. We recur again to that subject because there were two points so forcibly and so well put by Mr. Ruskin, and so seemingly pregnant with the germs of future progress to our science, as to merit the special attention of geologists. These were the inefficacy of ice to scoop out lake-basins, and the mighty wave-like action of force that crumbles the gigantic
... the gigantic rock-masses of our mountains almost into wave-like breakers ready to nod and fall. "Geology," well remarked Mr. Ruskin in his opening words, "properly divides itself into two branches,—the study, first, of the materials and chronology of deposits; and, secondly, of their present forms." The interest attaching to the relics of organic life, without doubt, has carried geologists away from the study of external forms; and this almost exclusion of regard for structural phenomena is the more to be regretted that it is the threshold of the grand field of record of ancient physical phenomena. The gigantic mountain-wave is not heaved up and rolled onwards in a few moments, like the surging waves of the sea; the particles of rock-masses are not quickly moved about like the water-atoms of the dancing ripples on our rivers, but slowly—slowly indeed—are the almost immovably linked-together particles forced onwards by some ponderous pressure, some solemn but irresistible force, due perhaps to the very strain of the earth's altering rotation or the leverage of its surface inequalities upon its central axis.