LAMARCK, Jean Baptiste.

Hydrogéologie ou recherches sur l’influence qu’ont les eaux sur la surface du globe terrestre; sur les causes de l’existence du bassin des mers, de son déplacement et de son transport successif sur les différens points de la surface de ce globe; enfin sur les changemens que les corps vivans exercent sur la nature et l’état de cette surface.

A Paris: Chez l’Auteur…Agasse…[&] Maillard… An X ().1802

8vo, 268 pages. Later quarter vellum and green marbled boards, fine copy.

FIRST EDITION of Lamarck’s single contribution to geology. Lamarck saw water as the principal agent of geological change, with the oceans in a constant slow progression round the globe under the moon’s gravitational force. The progressive disintegration of organic remains resulted in the production of minerals, upon which water acted to produce geological formations such as mountains. “Lamarck’s uniformitarianism and great geological time scale have led some to say that he was his own Lyell. Some historians have thought that Lamarck’s perception of a slowly changing environment and the resulting necessity of organisms to change or become extinct (a possiblity he could not accept) led him to his theory of evolution” (DSB). Professor Albert V. Carozzi described this book as “a bibliographical rarity which has been, and still is, virtually unknown to geologists or historians of science” (Isis, 55 (1964), pp. 293–307), but that “a critical study reveals the modern character of so many of his fundamental concepts that his scientific rehabilitation as a geologist seems imperative for a correct understanding of the history of geology” (the preface to Hydrogeology, trans. Carozzi, 1964). In this book Lamarck also coined the term “biology” in its modern sense of life in general (it was first coined by Burdach two years earlier with reference only to human beings). The volume concludes with two further essays, one on fire in chemical analysis and the other on sound. Parkinson, Breakthroughs, 1802. Norman catalogue 1263. Ward & Carozzi 1312. Davies & Orme, Two Centuries of Earth Science, p. 45. Adams, The Birth…of the Geological Sciences, p. 268: “…admirable little volume”.


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