A powerful creation

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“Upon the life and movement of a powerful creation fell the silence of death. Springs paused, rivers ceased to flow, the rays of the sun, rising upon this frozen shore (if, indeed, it was reached by them), were met only by the breath of the winter from the north and the thunders of the crevasses as they opened across the surface of this icy sea.” The reception all this got continued to be colder than the ice. Von Buch, author of the first geological map of Germany and already celebrated for his studies of volcanism, did not conceal his indignation. In fact, he had apparently removed Agassiz’s name from consideration for a professorial chair at the University of Berlin. Sir Roderick Murchison, the co-working space utrecht Scottish geologist who had identified and named the Silurian system, warned that he was prepared to “make fight.” Addressing the Geological Society of London, he said, “Once grant to Agassiz that his deepest valleys of Switzerland, such as the enormous Lake of Geneva, were formerly filled with snow and ice, and I see no stopping place. From that hypothesis you may proceed to fill the Baltic and the northern seas, cover southern England and half of Germany and Russia with similar icy sheets, on the surfaces of which all the northern boulders might have been shot off. So long as the greater number of the practical geologists of Europe are opposed to the wide extension of a terrestrial glacial theory, there can┬ábe little risk that such a doctrine should take too deep a hold of the mind.” Whatever the cause, the effects Agassiz was studying impressed von Humboldt as purely local phenomena. Agassiz’s “descente aux enfers” -into the innards of the glacier-alarmed his friend as a physical risk commensurate co-working space rotterdam with the risk Agassiz was taking with his paleontological reputation. Von Humboldt wrote to say that he had now “read and compared all that has been w1itten for and against the ice-period” and that he was no closer to accepting the theory. He quoted Mme de Sevigne’s saying that “grace from on high comes slowly.” And added, “I especially desire it for the glacial period.”

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