The Twin Records of Creation; Or Geology and Genesis: Their Perfect Harmony and Wonderful Concord


BY GEO. W. VICTOR LE VAUX. London : Lockwood & Co.
IN making the Lion of Geology and the Lamb of Genesis lie down together in the same Procustean bed, Mr. Le Vaux has naturally found it necessary to clip somewhat the claws, mane, and tail of the lion, and to somewhat elongate the lamb. And, after all, there is not so great a family resemblance between the two, we think, as to suggest the idea of twinship to anybody but Mr. Le Vaux. The process of adaptation itself is not exactly novel, but there is something original in our author’s spirit, if not his method, which gives his book a peculiar interest. He has always had, he confesses, a passion for geology ; and he enters into a description of the different geological periods — which correspond in his theory to the days of the Scriptural history of creation. — with the greatest delight in the marvels of his theme. He revels in the sea of primeval fire ; he floats enchanted on the waves of the shoreless ocean ; his fancy feeds fat upon the gigantic grasses and ferns of the era of large vegetables ; he is the intimate acquaintance of the Ichthyosaur, the Iguanodon, and the Pterodactyl. With all this, it cannot be said that he develops more than an elementary knowledge of the science he loves, or that he appears to be in any respect a learned or wise man. He writes his book with the aid of profuse quotation from the poets, and when their fancy does not supply him with facts he draws upon his own; and he believes in the sea-serpent. He does not always quote correctly, and he attributes Pope’s “ Messiah ” to Steele. He imagines that “ betimes ” is identical in meaning with at times ; and his immense megalosauric sense becomes occasionally entangled in the mammoth vegetation of his tropical language ; as, for example, when he says, in a description of the Oolitic world : —
“Far, far below, the base of the hill on which we stand is washed by the swelling billows of the Western main, the whitecrested waves breaking betimes over the rocks and shallows, as they roll to or recede from the shore. Boundless prairies, decked with an ocean of gorgeous verdure, spread out, far as the eye can reach, towards the mid-day sun. The eastern horizon is bounded by forests of gigantic pine and fern, which are woven together by thick luxuriant underwood, and the intervening plains are studded, at intervals, with circular groves of palm and shrubs.”
This colossal passage is preliminary to an account of an awful Oolitic mill between the Megalosaur and the Iguanodon, the champions being respectively twenty and twenty-seven yards in length, and of proportionate height and bulk. Mr, Le Vaux, in his character of special reporter, says : —
“ But terrific cries are wafted towards us on the breeze, — cries which reverberate through the mountains like the rumblings of thunder on the distant hills, — the cries of monsters about to engage in mortal combat, the ‘ war-whoop ’ of the huge Megalosaur and colossal Iguanodon. As the waves of a thousand hurricanes roll to the rock or assault the shore, so the former advances ; as a huge rock meets the mighty waves of a thousand tempests, so does the latter meet the former. As a hundred storms of winter, gloomy and dark, pour down from frowning mountains, as a hundred torrents from the hills meet, mix, and roar in the valley, so dark, so loud, impetuous, and terrible is the deadly encounter of these primeval monsters. Their roaring, their groans, resound through the vales and forests, spread over the hills, and re-echo from rock to rock. Nature seems to be hushed in fear and amazement,—every living creature flies away from the scene of encounter in confusion and terror. But lo ! the monsters have rolled over and over on the plain, — Death has raised his voice, — the tumult ceases, — one of them (the Iguanodon) has fallen a victim to the ferocious strength and superior activity of the other, and soon is his carcass partially devoured by the voracious victor.”
The fate of another champion of the primeval P. R. — the Pterodactyl — is portrayed in strokes quite as bold and massive as these : —
“ But hark ! crashing sounds resound in the brushwood ; the dumb noise of ponderous footsteps strikes the ear ; when, lo ! a gigantic animal, far larger than the largest elephant, emerges from the forest and appears on the scene. His snout is narrow and long, but of immense power, and his mouth is furnished with prodigious and terrific teeth, shaped or serrated like the teeth of a saw, those of the lower and upper jaws fitting exactly into each other. His neck is long, and his huge body is as large as the wooden horse of Troy, — as a ship of ancient times ; his legs and feet are proportionately massive and thick, — like the trunks of some gigantic oaks which have braved, in triumph, the storms of a thousand years ; and, as a whole, his dimensions are enormous beyond all conception. Onward, however, comes the king of the prairies ; forward he rushes, and with one stroke of his terrible foot— with one thrust of his powerful claws — the unwieldy teleosaurian crocodile is struck dead on the mud, and immediately devoured.”
Whatever may be thought of the direct result achieved for the reconciliation of science and revelation by Mr. Le Vaux, we imagine all his readers must agree that he has at least effected a negative good by rendering geology much more incredible than Genesis,