A Comparative View of the Huttonian and Neptunian Systems of Geology: in answer to the Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth, by Professor Playfair.

Edinburgh: Printed for Ross and Blackwood… and T.N. Longman, and O. Rees, London.1802

8vo, 2 leaves, pp. (iii)–v, 256. Contemporary half calf, nicely rebacked preserving the original backstrip, new red morocco label.

FIRST EDITION. This work is Murray’s critical response to John Playfair’s Illustrations of the Huttonian Theory of the Earth, also published in Edinburgh in 1802. Murray clearly describes both the competing Huttonian and Neptunian (also known as Wernerian) theories of rock formation. Using much of the same geological evidence as Playfair, Murray also objectively analyses the theories’ claims through rock and fossil formations and concludes in support of the Wernerian theory. It is “one of the best and most complete presentations of it…and sets forth very impartially the explanations put forward…” (Adams). This valuable volume explores one of the major geological controversies of the period and illustrates the main contemporary criticisms of Hutton’s work. John Murray (1778–1820) was a public lecturer and writer on chemistry and geology. After attending the University of Edinburgh he became a popular public lecturer on chemistry and pharmacy. He was also a prolific writer of chemistry textbooks which were widely used in British universities. Adams, The birth…of the geological sciences, p. 227. Not in Challinor.


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