Yet there the stones are

5 years ago

mountain-tops, and he was a good enough uniformitarian though he would have been puzzled indeed had any one told him so to disbelieve that stones in past times had disported themselves differently in this regard from stones of the present, Yet there the stones are, How did they get there?The mountaineer thought that he could answer that question, He saw about him those gigantic serpent- like streams of ice called glaciers. from their far fountains slow rolling on. carrying with them blocks of granite and other debris to form moraine deposits. If these glaciers had once been much more extensive than they now are. they might have carried the bowlders and left them where we find them. On the other hand. no other natural agency within the sphere of the chamois-hunters knowledge could have accomplished this. ergo the glaciers must once have been more extensive. Perraudin would probably have said that common-sense drove him to this conclusion but be that as it may. he had conceived one of the few truly original and novel ideas of which the nineteenth century can boast.Perraudin announced his idea to the greatest scientist in his little world--Jean de Charpentier. director of the mines at Bex. a skilled geologist who had been a fellow-pupil of Von Buch and Von Humboldt under Werner at the Freiberg School of Mines. Charpentier laughed at the mountaineers grotesque idea. and thought no more about it. And ten years elapsed before Perraudin could find any one who treated his notion with greater respect. Then he found a listener in M. Venetz. a civil engineer. who read a paper on the novel glacial theory before a local society in 1823. This brought the matter once more to the attention of De Charpentier. who now felt that there might be something in it worth investigation.A survey of the field in the light of the new theory soon convinced Charpentier that the chamois-hunter had all along been right. He became an enthusiastic supporter of the idea that the Alps had once been imbedded in a mass of ice. and in 1836 he brought the notion to the attention of Louis Agassiz. who was spending the summer in the Alps. Agassiz was sceptical at first. but soon became a convert.In 1840 Agassiz published a paper in which the results of his Alpine studies were elaborated.Let us consider. he says. those more considerable changes to which glaciers are subject. or rather. the immense extent which they had in the prehistoric period. This former immense extension. greater than any that tradition has preserved. is proved. in the case of nearly every valley in the Alps. by facts which are both many and well established. The study of these facts is even easy if the student is looking out for them. and if he will seize the least indication of their presence and. if it were a long time before they were observed and connected with glacial action. it is because the evidences are often isolated and occur at places more or less removed from the glacier which originated them. If it be true that it is the prerogative of the scientific observer to group in the

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