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too, with the Impreffions of thefe Shells upon them; and others, to which the Shells or Pieces of them stuck faft.
I have alfo found various kinds of the Echinus, or Sea-Urchin; fuch as the Diadema Turcarum, the Echinus in Dicus, and the Echinus Spatagus, which is the most common here; many of them refembling Buttons of various Forms and Sizes, and others of a direct oval Figure. And it is worth while to obferve, that feveral of them, tho' whole, are fqueezed flat, and their Heads bruifed, by which they appear to have fuffer'd violent Preffures; and many of this kind are even petrified. Amongst the Echi nus, as well as the Shells, you meet with fome quite fill'd with the Marl amidst which you find them, and fome of them wholly petrified. I have alfo feen fair Impreffions of the Echinus upon Pebbles; and found in the Hollow and the Depth of the Mountains Oyster-Shells enclosed in the Stone, fome of which were in their natural State, and others petrified.
Befides thefe Shells, I have found feveral Heads or new Shoots of that Herb, which in Latin is called Equifetum, and vulgarly Horfe-tail, quite petrified, feveral of them being heaped up together without order; and fometimes feparate Pieces of this Herb petrify'd, and alfo feveral of that fort of Mushrooms, properly called Puff-balls. And what deserves to be particularly observed is, That in the Depth of thefe Mountains you may find many Fragments of different Shells, fometimes difperfed about, fometimes mixed together, without any order, wrapped up in the ftony or fhardy Subftance, or elfe as it were inchafed in the Peb
You may easily imagine, Sir, that after having made thefe Difcoveries, I was naturally inclined to fearch into the Caufe of them, and enquire how these Plants and Shells came enclosed in the Depth of Mountains. Having read what I could on this Subject, I found that the most common Opinion, and which has been followed by the Generality of learned Men, was, That thefe Shells and Plants which are in the Mountains, whether petrified or not, have remained there ever fince Noah's Flood, having been carried over the Earth by the Sea which overflow'd it, and being difperfed up and down by its Waters, at length funk into the Mud which thefe Waters had caufed, and by which the Mountains were form'd.
I must own, that at first I gave into this Opinion; but examining the Matter a little more ftrictly, I found it was far from being founded upon Truth; for although the Sea did at the time of the Deluge overflow the World, yet does it not follow from thence, that it carried its Shells all over the Earth. Thofe who know nothing of the Sea may perhaps imagine, that Shells swim upon the Waters, and are carried about every where with them; but whoever will take the Pains to fearch into it, will foon be fenfible, that thefe Shells being of a hard and folid Subftance, naturally go to the Bottom: And as Bernard Paliffy, in his Dif courfe of Waters, Fountains, &c. very well obferves, the ShellFishes cleave fo clofe to the Rocks, that the bare Flux and Reflux of the Sea cannot move them. Nor do we find, even when its Waters overflow with the greatest Rapidity and Violence, that it carries its Shells into the Fields and Meadows which it overfpreads; we barely fee that it rowls upon its Sands, fome few light Shells, which have been forcibly pluckt by fome body or other from the Rocks, or which the Fishermen have caft away.
Befides, That prodigious heap of Marl (in which fome of thefe Shells are found, and which reaches quite throughout our Province) goes. fo very deep, that we can dig no further for the Waters; and yet, before we have been hindered, we have fometimes gone.. Ninety Fathom deep. And could fuch vaft heaps of Stone and Marl be formed out of the Mud, which fettled from the Waters of the Deluge that covered the Earth the space of a Year only? If thefe Mountains confift only of Mud, how came they to be as white as the pureft Chalk, which make up the Body of thefe Mountains? Or could Waters which pafs over the Surface of the Earth with impetuous Force, carry off fuch pure and unmix'd Parts of it?
If thefe Mountains were made up of that Mud, ought we not, when we have digged to a certain Depth, find the ancient, Earth on which this Mud firft refted? Would one not fee a palpable Difference between the two Soils? Should we not find upon the Surface of the old Earth Stumps of Trees, either petrified, or at least to be diftinguifhed by their Colour from this white Mud, as well as the remains of other Things which were there before the Flood? And lastly, Ought we not in this Mud to find more Bones of Men and Beasts than Shells and Fishes, fince fuch a Number of them were drowned at that time?
If all the Marl in our Mountains, and which is regularly found at fuch a Depth throughout feveral Provinces, be part of this Mud, from whence comes that rich Arable Ground which covers this Marl? or the Potters Earth form'd of different kinds of Sands, and which is over the Marl and fhardy Subftance; not only in the low Valleys, but even upon the highest Plains? Is it another Mud which has refted upon the firft? At this rate there muft have been two Deluges, fome time one after another.
There is no probability therefore, that thefe Shells, and the other things I have been mentioning, which are to be met with in the Mountains, were brought there by the Flood. Nor is it to be prefumed, that thefe Shells were naturally form'd there, as others will have it; for then we fhould find them whole, and with thefe Differences only, that fome would be bigger than others, and fome better form'd than the reft; but when we find them flat and bruifed, and crufh'd, and at the fame time placed deeper in the Mountains, than any one had ever digged before; may we not conclude, that they have fuffer'd this Preffure fince the first receiving of their natural Shape? and that the Mountains, fince their being folid, as they are, could not prefs them in that manner? The Fragments of the Shells too are found in the Stones, or wrapp'd in the Marl; and different Pieces of them at a confiderable Distance from each other: Thefe could not be form'd thus, but muft have been broke by fome violent force, 'Tis the fame with the petrified Plants, which are often found in feperate Pieces, and which could not poffibly have grown in that Manner.
Laftly, There are others of Opinion, that thefe Mountains, and all the Places where we find fuch Shells, were formerly part of the Sea which Earthquakes have thus raifed, and from whence the Waters have retired to confine themselves in low and hollow Places. What confirms them moft in this Opinion, is, that several Places have been fwallowed up by Earthquakes, and have become Lakes; some have been overflow'd by the Waters; whilft on the other hand, Islands have been seen to appear on a fudden in the midft of the Sea. Such a thing as this happened in our Days, in the Gulph of St. Santerin, where a new Ifland rose as it were out of the Deep, in the Year 1707.
But allowing all this to be true, it does not follow that thofe Places and Countries where we find fuch Shells were formerly
covered by the Sea, and that they have undergone fuch great Revolutions; for we must then conclude, that almost all our prefent dry Lands, and the largest Kingdoms, but more particularly that of France, must have been once wholly under Water; fince there are very few Countries where fome of these Shells are not to be found, either in the Grounds or the Mountains.
Was it true, that these Mountains had formerly been part of the Sea, the Shells we find in them would be in the fame Condition as they are in the Sea; but this is far from being true: As for Example, you never take one Echinus Spatagus out of the Sea, but you find the Head full of Sand and Gravel, which cannot eafily be got out of it; whereas, in those that are in the Mountains, although it vifibly appears that they never have been moved fince they were there, you cannot find the leaft Grain of Sand or Gravel. And had thefe Mountains been once part of the Deep, from whence come thofe Heads and other Pieces of the Herb Horfe-tail, or the Puff-balls, which I have often found in the fame place with the Shells? "Tis very certain, these Plants do not grow in the Sea.
But, waving the other Objections, can it be fuppofed that thefe Bottoms of the Sea, having been dry'd up by Shocks and Earthquakes, fhould of themfelves have produced fuch vaft Forefts, as we fee growing upon the Top of fome of them? Do Oaks and Trees grow upon thofe Lands which the Sea has once covered? And yet this too muft be fuppofed, fince, according to Bernard Palify, 'tis in Ardenne particularly that fuch Shells are to be found; and this we are affured was a vaft Forest in Cefar's Time. But I muft conclude this Letter, which is already too long; I fhall take another Opportunity of giving you my Opinion upon this Matter. In the mean time I am, &c.
Mr. Capperon's Second Letter.
Dated from Eu the 15th of June, 1724.
Am now fet down to perform my Promife, and give you my Opinion of thofe Shells and Plants which are found in the Mountains, &c. I fhall therefore without farther Preface tell you,
that I am fully convinced they have been there ever since the Creation of the World; that they ferve to justify the Account of it deliver'd by Mofes, and to make what he fays agree with fome other Texts of Scripture which seem to contradict it; and also to reconcile the different Opinions of the Fathers and Interpreters; of whom fome will have it, that all Creatures were created at the fame time, whilft others think that the Space of fix Days was taken up in the Performance of that Work.
My Belief therefore, Sir, is, that as Mofes tells us, God made the Heaven and Earth in an Inftant, and created all things at once, that is, all the Matter which was afterwards employ'd in forming the World, and every thing in it; and that the Place in which we now dwell was a Compofition of Earth and Water mix'd together: for, as Philo tells us, the Earth was like a Spunge, into which the Water had every where penetrated; and this, fays he, form'd a Kind of Mud or Slough; and, according to Mofes, 'twas upon this Mafs without Form that the Spirit of God moved: That is, according to the + Hebrew Text, the Almighty Spirit of God acting upon this Mafs rendred it fruitful, and made use of it to produce and form thofe Animals, which were afterwards to move in or upon those Elements we now fee.
Notwithstanding that by this first Operation of God, all thofe Creatures which were to have a Being were form'd in that first Inftant; yet it is proper to obferve, that they were all mix'd together without any Order, as in a Kind of a Chaos; and tho' both Plants and Animals had their natural Form, and were perfectly organized, yet had they neither Motion nor Life: for in this Slough and this Confufion, Life and Motion would have been fo far from being ferviceable to 'em, that it might have prov'd their Destruction.
This I take to have been the State of the World at the first Instant of its Creation; and if Mofes tells us that God employ'd fix Days in creating all things, we muft underftand that thofe fix
* Quoniam univerfa qua in totam terram diffufa erat omnefq; ejus Partes penetraverat, quemadmodum Spongia, humorem cumbibebat, ut ceu pa dus quædam eœnofa ex utroq; Elemento macerato confunderetur. Philo Jud. lib. de mundi opific.
Hebraica vos fignificat 'quafi Spiritus incubet, foveat inftar avis aquam, jamq; ad generationem animalium moveat. Propert. Gez. in Otatuc.