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GEOLOGY, in its aim to describe the materials composing the earth's crust, their mode of arrangement, and the causes which seem to have produced that arrangement, constitutes one of the most interesting and important of the natural sciences. Interesting, inasmuch as it exhibits the progressive conditions of the world from the remotest periods, and reveals the character of the plants and animals which have successively adorned and peopled its surface ; and important, as it determines the position of those metals and minerals upon which the arts and manufactures so intimately depend. Valuable as are its deductions, Geology is comparatively of recent growth, it being only within the present century that accurate data have been collected, and those absurd speculations respecting the origin of the globe eschewed, which had so long impeded the legitimate prosecution of the subject. If, however, long repressed by the imprudence of its early cultivators, no branch of human knowledge has made more rapid progress since right modes of investigation were adopted—none attracted a greater degree of attention, or been more generally applicable to the economical purposes of life. To furnish an outline of the science in its present state of advancement, is the object of the following treatise, in which the leading facts are stated in as simple a manner as is consistent with accuracy. Technical terms, often so ignorantly inveighed against, have not been avoided, but have been gradually introduced with their explanations, to familiarise the learner with Geological language, and thus prepare him for the study of more advanced works, as well as for the practical prosecution of the subject. A uniform arrangement of the topics has been strictly adhered to, so as at once to assist the memory and facilitate reference; theoretical disquisitions have been studiously avoided ; and a plain record of facts and observations presented, in order that the treatise might answer the end intended-namely, for Use in Schools and for Private Instruction.
EDINBURGH, May 1844.