IV. THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN GEOLOGY

The atmosphere of that early day, filled with vast volumes of carbon, oxygen, and other chemicals that have since been stored in beds of coal, limestone, and granites, may have worn down the rocks on the one hand and built up organic forms on the other, with a rapidity that would now seem hardly conceivable.

And yet while all these anomalous things went on, the same laws held sway that now are operative; and a true doctrine of uniformitarianism would make no unwonted concession in conceding them all—though most of the imbittered geological controversies of the middle of the nineteenth century were due to the failure of both parties to realize that simple fact.

And as of the past and present, so of the future. The same forces will continue to operate; and under operation of these unchanging forces each day will differ from every one that has preceded it. If it be true, as every physicist believes, that the earth is a cooling globe, then, whatever its present stage of refrigeration, the time must come when its surface contour will assume a rigidity of level not yet attained. Then, just as surely, the slow action of the elements will continue to wear away the land surfaces, particle by particle, and transport them to the ocean, as it does to-day, until, compensation no longer being afforded by the upheaval of the continents, the last foot of dry land will sink for the last time beneath the water, the last mountain- peak melting away, and our globe, lapsing like any other organism into its second childhood, will be on the surface—as presumably it was before the first continent rose—one vast "waste of waters." As puny man conceives time and things, an awful cycle will have lapsed; in the sweep of the cosmic life, a pulse- beat will have throbbed.