Palaeontology is the Aladdin's lamp of the most deserted and lifeless regions of the earth; it touches the rocks and there spring forth in orderly succession the monarchs of the past and the ancient river streams and savannahs wherein they flourished. The rocks usually hide their story in the most difficult and inaccessible places.
Who can say but your new Star [Uranus], which exceeds Saturn so much in its distance from the Sun, may exceed him as much in magnificence of attendance? Who knows what new rings, new satellites, or what other nameless and numberless phenomena remain behind, waiting to reward future industry and improvement?
If it be so interesting to us to follow, in the infancy of our species, the almost obliterated traces of extinct nations, why should it not also be so, to search, amid the darkness of the infancy of the Earth, for the traces of revolutions which have taken place anterior to the existence of all nations?
Sometime afterward, a terrible misfortune occurred which was in no way calculated to allay the superstitious fears of the ignorant. As some eight or ten citizens were returning with the ferry-boat which had crossed the last Mormons over the Missouri river, into Clay county, the district selected for their new home, the craft filled with water and sunk in the middle of the current; by which accident three or four men were drowned! It was owing perhaps to the craziness of the boat, yet some persons suspected the Mormons of having scuttled it by secretly boring auger-holes in the bottom just before they had left it.
Of all the astronomical events, the fall of a meteorite is the most unnerving and yet the most reassuring. Reassuring because it proves to us that the depths of space are inhabited by bodies made of the same elements we have here on earth, that, at rock bottom, a man and a star are built of the same stuff.
The vast ice-engine that we call a glacier is almost as silent as the slumbering rocks, and, to all but the eye of science, nearly as immobile, save where it discharges into the sea. It is noisy in its dying, but in the height of its power it is as still as the falling snow of which it is made.
In spite of the errors into which I may have been led, the work may possibly contain ideas and arguments that will have a certain value for the advancement of knowledge, until such time as the great subjects, with which I have ventured to deal, are treated anew by men capable of shedding further light upon them.