2 A Culture of Opportunity

The battle which Farey, amongst others, fought to have Smith’s doctrine recognised was not the only one in those years after 1815. The end of the Napoleonic Wars had opened up contact with the continent again, completely changing the intellectual landscape. Exclusion from France had been almost, but not quite, complete. Sir Humphry Davy, his wife, Lady Jane, and Michael Faraday, for example, passed through Paris in October 1813 at the start of a Grand Tour. There they met the English artist Thomas Richard Underwood who was resident in Paris and a friend of the regime, ‘a flaming democrat and an admirer of Napoleon’, a dilettante with a playful mind and pen, who rapidly formed opinions of those with whom he came into contact. Sir Joseph Banks also visited Paris and the Louvre at this time. However, with the exception of a few popular magazines, movement of intelligence across the channel was limited. Others, such as Conybeare, make this isolation clear: ‘as the second revolutionary war shut me out of the continent, English topography was my resource.’[1]

With the end of war in Europe savants on both sides of the channel could once again communicate. They became part of ‘“a vast exportation of English tourists” to the continent from which they had been debarred for so long’. British geologists were drawn to France as if into a vacuum. Indeed, Greenough and a few others from the Geological Society entered Paris in 1814 during Napoleon’s short-lived exile to Elba. There was a feeling that Europe held the key to understanding stratigraphic relationships and that, for the aspiring geologist, travel was essential. In these post-war years there was relatively little animosity between the traditional enemies. A friendly and yet competitive mix of scientific rivalry and co-operation filled the air. Cuvier, Joseph Pentland, Conybeare and Buckland, for example, collaborated in various ways in projects designed to determine the identity of Lias reptiles and cave faunas. In this Pentland and Cuvier supplied considerable amounts of data from the Parisian reserves of anatomical knowledge; state support for science in France had given Paris the finest zoological and palaeontological museum in the world at the Jardin du Roi.[2] In Britain, science remained essentially a private venture and its national collections something of a national disgrace. 

Information and specimens were soon crossing the channel with great frequency and not a little shrewd manipulation. French fossils were a rarity in Britain; Robert Bakewell was soon buying up French collections in the hope of profiting from this want. A fossil tapir’s tooth, for example, which he picked up for two guineas could be expected to fetch twenty-five times as much in London. Similarly he hoped to capitalise on his conversations with French geologists and overwhelm his compatriots with new expositions on the Secondary strata.[3] Greenough, Buckland and Conybeare were also amongst this ‘exportation’ of geologists, touring for some five months to Germany to meet Werner, in a carriage specially strengthened for the purpose of returning with specimens.[4] It seems likely that they also took British fossils with them for exchange. En route they purchased a fossil bear’s skull and other items from the German caves – these fossils were being found in remarkable numbers at this time – for a total cost of £7. The Englishmen were unaware of the true availability of such specimens or local prices and were an easy source of profit for the unscrupulous; Buckland, for example, felt he had been duped in an exchange with one noted German geologist.[5]

These men were joined by others hoping to reap benefits from the situation, and inevitably the widespread pursuit of fossils could lead to complications. In England, for example, Henry De la Beche had in his possession, in 1821, a series of fossil vertebrae from Honfleur. Cuvier, who was keen to see De la Beche’s specimens, had the jaws of an animal collected from the same site at the same time which could conceivably come from the same species if not the same animal.[6]

Also gathering French intelligence was William Fitton, who had in 1820 acquired wealth through a favourable marriage in order to fund his scientific pursuits – an action, though not uncommon, which caused much gossip. Fitton was to become a clear-sighted and influential president of the Geological Society, an important historian of geology and a commentator on geological developments. He later distinguished the Greensand and Gault strata, and drew cross-channel comparisons.

While the English distilled all they could from French science, the French remained largely in the dark about British geology. British books were too expensive and there were none in French. The French and Germans were looking to Britain for a lead in geology but the likes of Conybeare and De la Beche were careful to shepherd foreign visitors around collections. This was something of which English collectors complained: the English savants were no doubt preserving collections for themselves and limiting the powers of local collectors to establish a dialogue with foreigners who might use these collections in their own expositions. This lack of French knowledge could be used to advantage by those negotiating the exchange of fossils. Collectors played a clever game of intimating rarity by limiting supply when species were actually quite common. Thus they created an inflated currency with which to extract greater numbers of specimens from their French counterparts. Webster was one taking advantage of the situation, pursuing exchanges through Underwood who was increasingly taking an interest in geology, and who gave him clear instructions in how to ply his wares. Underwood’s advice was that the French collectors were selfish – ‘indeed I fancy it is their character everywhere’. French geologist André Brochant advised Underwood not to let it be known how many fossils of each species he had to swap. In this way they would be valued by the French collectors and exchanged on the basis of one to one. He told Webster not to expect more than one of each species for they would not release half a dozen even if they had fifty.[7]

A culture of jealousy

If rivalry was apparent in this cross-channel business it was merely an indication of the enterprise culture which geology in Britain had become. Underwood, as an unmitigated gossip, provides useful insights into the divisions present in the geological world at this time, though his perspective is somewhat cruel and cynical. To his mind, Pentland was a ‘lying thief’ stealing intelligence from Cuvier.[8] The young Pentland, an Irish orphan, had gained much of his geological education in Paris where he became an apparently gifted and trusted student of the master anatomist. It was while assisting Cuvier that he fell into correspondence with William Conybeare and William Buckland, by then two of England’s most talented anatomists. Pentland was adamant that his English colleagues should never mention the help he had given them, but from the correspondence that survives it is apparent that Cuvier was aware of, and indeed encouraged, Pentland’s cross-Channel communications. Certainly Cuvier too was about to start working on ichthyosaurs in September 1821 but his work progressed through co-operation with frequent loans and exchanges of specimens and casts. Pentland was in an exceptional position to exploit the Paris museums in order to apply Cuvierian methods of analogy.[9]The information he supplied to Conybeare was entirely based on his comparison of Conybeare’s specimens and drawings with living species in the Paris collections, something out of Conybeare’s reach.

Fig. 2.1 Fossil collecting on the Isle of Wight. Detail from a drawing by Thomas Webster 1814.

To the dilettantish Underwood, Fitton was ‘a strange, vain, blundering, pushing man ¼ he means well and is desirous of the advancement of science but his manners are very disagreeable’. In Bakewell Underwood could see nothing but motives of ‘vanity and self interest’. Underwood’s cutting portraits could be dismissed as too coloured to be of value, and certainly Pentland saw in him ‘a mere Tyro and a very superficial one’. But yet they contain an element of truth: English tourists were present in Paris not simply to copy the fashions but also to extract what they could from French science. This wasn’t a collective mission but one which could procure for the individual considerable advantage. This was not a symptom of Anglo-French rivalry but of scientific culture in London and Paris. As George Cumberland told Webster, ‘The fault of the age is jealousy of discovery, men are every day tripping one another up, there is too little honour among us, and too much setting up of Gods’. 

John Phillips, as a newcomer to the metropolis in 1831, saw this for himself: ‘The jealousy among the men of Science here is wonderful and you feel to walk on a cavity, and to be grasped by a hand of friendship no firmer than a ghost’s shadow’. In the deeply factious Geological Society, Webster was surrounded by ‘a band of busy, jealous, active & revengeful witlings …[who] have gained and kept their ascendancy partly from contempt, partly from the indolence of others …’.[10] Greenough, around whom this band was formed, was ‘a Quack (“Charlatan”)’, a ‘blockhead’ and Sowerby merely ‘a Dealer’. The latter was George Sowerby who was ‘at war’ with Webster over the Isle of Wight geology at this time. The bickering extended to members in the provinces. Conybeare was ‘audaciously proud of a very little learning in the schools – ill bred – vain of being thought a discoverer, and loves to take the lead – Miller of the [Bristol] Institute is his Jackall who flatters him for his own purposes, a halfbred naturalist’.[11] Such comments demarcated party lines drawn around the geological territories which each individual or party believed their own. Cumberland thought of fossil sea lilies (crinoids) as his own but had, in this, been usurped by his Bristol colleagues. Webster’s friend Underwood had once been on friendly terms with Buckland, Conybeare and Pentland but as Buckland became clearly identified with Greenough’s camp all were tarred equally, hence the accusations thrown at Pentland. Drawn into this mud-slinging, Pentland would, in some respects, have liked to have agreed with Webster whose work was widely respected on both sides of the channel. When Greenough was in Paris Pentland actively avoided a dinner engagement with him and was delighted at not having his offer of help accepted. The ever-sceptical Greenough’s visit had done nothing to impress the Parisian literati, but then he was never too impressed by those he met either, such were the jealousies. However, with political lines drawn and Buckland as his chief English correspondent, Pentland became more understanding towards Greenough. In contrast Underwood selected the Cambridge professor, Adam Sedgwick, as his champion, ‘the Geological Colossus of England’, by whose talents Pentland was still to be impressed.[12]

On Sowerby, however, there was almost universal agreement. Pentland was absolute: ‘he is a charlatan’. In contrast, Buckland seems to have been universally admired. Others such as Fitton, who was a friend of Smith (whom he thought, as did Webster, ‘not well used’) and a friend of Greenough, moved carefully to be seen not to belong to any one camp.[13] Together Cumberland, who thought the salvation of geology lay in illustration and that geology required the talents of an artist, Webster, who had desired an artistic career, and Underwood, who had also lived in Bristol and London, formed an acid, artistic clique on the periphery of the Geological Society’s ‘gentlemanly’ science.[14] From their perspective, moving from one creative territory to another, they were able to see how that territory was being colonised and utilised. They believed they stood to one side ‘laughing at the Swells who magnify mole hills into mountains’ but they were perhaps this culture’s greatest victims. The world of art and architecture from which they had come allowed the talent of the artist to establish immutable achievements at least in terms of artistry if not in fashion. In contrast, the achievements of geology were principally those of discovery and as such they could be usurped or corrupted. These men soon found that the creative processes of geology involved constant overpainting, much to the chagrin of its creators.

Gathering meanings

As the new science spread across the country, becoming deeply ingrained in the cultural life of individuals and communities, so it took on countless meanings. The opportunities it provided were great and almost inevitably encouraged a pervasive atmosphere of rivalry and jealousy. But in this geology was not alone. Almost every activity had to deal with those anxieties dominant in contemporary society: ‘envy, insecurity, snobbery’.[15] Indeed, for those who participated in geology it formed an important cultural mechanism for the relief of these ‘psychological malaises’. Geology carried with it the same ubiquitous cultural hopes and desires found in other walks of life. These were important in determining the science’s popularity in this period and permeated everything. But to understand how geology in particular came to find such a prominent place in society it is also necessary to explore some of the other meanings it took on, how local context encouraged its growth, and how the ideas of geology were transported into a region and used. To understand this much wider world of geology it is necessary to leave London and travel out into the English provinces. For it is here that geology’s own complex cultural identity can be most clearly seen.

Of course, England was no stranger to many aspects of geology. As an undifferentiated part of natural history rocks and fossils had long been studied and explored. Indeed, the pursuit of natural history for many became something of a family tradition. Just as sons or wards often adopted the business interests of their parents or guardians, so too were leisure interests passed down. Smith, for example, bequeathed his talents and interests to his ward and nephew, John Phillips. William Buckland, Phillips’s predecessor in an Oxford professorship, similarly gained his love of fossils from his father. Edward Charlesworth, who succeeded Phillips to a curatorial post in Yorkshire, was indoctrinated in the same way. In the town of Scarborough, many of the most prominent naturalists – William Williamson, William Bean and William Travis – could all trace their interests to their parents and perhaps beyond. Mary Anning too could claim a similar inheritance. This occurred with such ubiquity that it united, or created a lineage in, the natural history interests of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also contributed to Francis Galton’s supposed evidence for a theory of hereditary genius.[16]

The dominance of family ties in natural history is also explained by the difficulty of acquiring an informed knowledge without personal tuition. Traditional classical education – disparagingly referred to as the study of ‘dead languages’ – sought to stimulate taste through the study of literature and reasoning through mathematics. It failed to develop those observational skills so essential to the field and museum. But natural history was also capable of being seen as something cultured and sophisticated, as something ornamental rather than practical, and as such it was a worthy addition to the tastes of polite society.[17]

Porter explained that by the mid-eighteenth century the essential precursors to this later age of community-centred philosophical enquiry were in place: ‘the growth of an audience, the birth of provincial science, the spread of fieldwork’. Natural history had already become a respectable leisure pursuit. Italy, for example, had experienced a boom in fossil collecting fed in part by the spectacular fish fossils of Monte Bolca. In France a discernible change had taken place in the collecting culture. Here a dominance of medal collecting had been replaced, by the middle of the eighteenth century, by the collecting of shells and other natural history objects. Collecting natural history was seen to have advantages, not least its cheapness. It has also been suggested that there were cultural differences between the collector of antiques and art, who foisted himself upon artists as a connoisseur, and the collector of natural history who was aiding scholars in an entirely different way though still making them subservient to him.[18]

As an ornamental interest natural history was also entirely appropriate for those at the other end of the social spectrum. An innocuous diversion ‘calculated for raising the character of the labouring classes of a community’, of improving the ‘peasantry of England’ which the élite encouraged through a desire to supplant radicalism with an intellectual, romantic, and bourgeois ‘common morality’. The mechanics’ institutes and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge pursued these ends and developed in parallel with the more élitist literary and philosophical societies.[19] Whether inadvertent or intentional mechanisms for control, they also did much to open up opportunities for study and reading helped by increasing access to cheap publications. 

As natural history became fashionable, a preponderance of ephemeral interests and petty obsessions swept the country. The men of Yorkshire, for example, like Charles Darwin in Cambridge, participated in the national beetle craze of the late 1820s. In the evening of 16 June 1828, John Phillips of York, John Williamson of Scarborough and John Edward Lee of Hull took 90 Broscus cephalotus, a large, predatory, sand-dwelling ground beetle, in half an hour. Like most geologists they did not restrict themselves to collecting fossils; there was little need to differentiate between the realms of natural history if one’s pursuits were purely for leisure. Indeed, omniscience was seen as being indicative of cultivation. By 1835, with the beetle craze over, the resulting collections were passed to local societies. Such gifts were received as acts of great generosity but in truth their donors were simply passing on that which had lost its currency. The competition for new species that had motivated the craze had subsided.[20] The fashion for beetles demonstrated the main focus of this kind of natural history: collecting and the determination of species, and the strangeness of life history. These were also fascinations for those who found geology simply a fashionable interest. However, Allen has suggested a natural link between the fields of botany and geology and between entomology and ornithology which the above example would seem to contradict.[21] In the search for species that dominated botanical passions some knowledge of local geology would indicate likely floras. But for the species-collecting geologist botany was no more useful than a knowledge of conchology or of marine creatures. Where botany did repay attention for the geologist was in the construction of maps: certain plant associations indicate rock structure and type. This was important knowledge for the surveyor and was used by Smith and later by the Geological Survey. However, few provincial geologists were interested in making maps; most were simply in pursuit of fossil species.

Geology was a cultural phenomenon which demonstrated no major schism with other intellectual or creative pursuits. Its participants, whatever their role, can so easily be read as one-dimensional nascent or dilettante geologists. George Cumberland, who became a keen geologist, provides a useful warning against such views. One reviewer of his life saw his geological work as somewhat out of step with a life largely committed to the arts, a mere brief encounter. From a family with its wealthy and less wealthy lineages, he began his working life as a clerk but in 1785 received an inheritance that transformed him into a modest gentleman of leisure. He collected Italian prints, coins, antiquities, as well as fossils and minerals, and was a great friend of the artist William Blake. For Cumberland geology was a new and fashionable interest and one through which he might make a name for himself. The concept of ‘two cultures’ – one of ‘the sciences’ and one of ‘the arts’ – did not exist.[22]

Interest in the subject was no doubt encouraged by the new and remarkable evidence of the ‘awful revolutions’ which had apparently transformed the surface of the globe, of ‘strange and unknown animals buried in the different strata’ which encouraged the contemplation of future changes to the Earth. In 1811, Sir Joseph Banks wrote to a colleague in France: ‘Geology becomes more & more a fashion’.[23] For the first half of the nineteenth century geology had surprisingly enduring novelty fed by the progress of its discoveries and the deep and seemingly universal inferences it delivered. In 1825, John Phillips remarked with great excitement on the ‘spreading of knowledge’ and ‘spirit of enquiry’ which typified the period: 

When I think on the amazing progress of Geology and all its collateral Sciences, within the last 20 or 30 years and see in our magazines notices of new discoveries in every quarter of the globe which concur in confirming and extending the laws of structure which obtain in this kingdom, I feel assured that we are rapidly hastening to a period when the Geologists of all countries will cordially unite in developing the history of the earth … May this spirit overspread the world.[24]

One prominent figure in York society, whose daughter attended Phillips’s London lectures in 1831, similarly referred to geology as ‘this fashionable subject’. At the end of that decade the Hull philosophers could still refer to geology as ‘that new and interesting science’.[25] This extended period of novelty also gives indications of its significance. This was no mere fashion.

The period gave a world-view of nature that everywhere – as much in the exotic lands of the far-flung empire as in the local quarry – revealed novel discoveries. ‘As we advance, new prospects open to the eye at every step, and the imagination is … busily engaged in anticipating future conquests’. Imperial expansion, forever shifting the British horizon into increasingly wild and distant lands and seas, fed a passion for discovery and a constant re-evaluation of the natural world. Fortunately for the geologist there was as much likelihood of major discovery at home as abroad. Indeed by the mid-1820s the geology of Britain was being portrayed as the ‘epitome of the globe’;[26] the world in microcosm:

It may also be remarked, that the means of acquiring such information are peculiarly great throughout every part of the British islands. No country contains, within an equal space, a greater variety of mineral substances; while our long and broken line of coast, and our numerous mines, furnish the most ample opportunities of making geological observations.[27]

This is important, because the gentlemanly élite in the 1810s saw travel as an essential requirement for the nascent geologist. This is apparent from many of the papers published in the Geological Society’s Transactions, from contemporary comment and in the motives for post-war European travel. But simply journeying across Britain could, for the observant, expose a good deal of the richness of world geology, as William Smith discovered in the late eighteenth century. And, as Smith remarked, geology had an advantage in being able to progress by observation and the application of a few basic principles without recourse to ‘hard names’ or books. But books did much to spread the word, and the science spawned many exceptionally fluent authors. As a science geology required no special equipment – it was open to all.[28]

As new sites for the collection of fossils were discovered so they entered the connoisseur’s vocabulary. Hordle, on the Hampshire coast, provides one such example. In the nineteenth century specimens from this locality found their way into every collector’s cabinet. Gustavus Brander assembled a sizeable collection of local fossils from these unstable cliffs in the eighteenth century and published the results with the British Museum’s Daniel Carl Solander in their Fossilia Hantoniensia of 1766. Collecting had long been the most popular aspect of the science in its prehistory. In Brander’s time all that was found was new. But as the science became more rigorous, and its vogue for collecting increased, so the likelihood of fresh discovery would appear to diminish. But, in fact, increasing rigour brought new classifications and more refined collecting; the philosopher simply required the increasingly discriminating eye of the connoisseur.[29] Throughout the early years of the century new fossil-hunting localities, such as Scarborough, were born, often as the result of scientific interest but equally often by chance discovery.

Where social motivation was involved the extremes of romanticism did little to cloud the provincial philosopher’s objectivity. For the ordinary man the world rarely reflected the polarised views of intellectuals who built reputations on the polarity of notions of classicism and romanticism. For many, nature in the field did go ‘to the heart and to the affections’. The personal journals of geologists, which often contain poetry and prose, show how even the most rational minds were moved by a combination of scenery and climate. ‘The loosening of imagination, the interest in what was different …’ The moment was savoured. This was the philosophical pursuit of knowledge in a natural context.[30]Scientific objectivity might eventually drive a wedge through the worlds of the leisure geologist and those for whom it formed the central plank of their reputation but it did not do so within this period. The pictorial elegance of Lyell’s prose, for example, bound the romantic aesthete to the side of the committed savant. It was to sit alongside the more abstract and esoteric lists of fossils and strata. 

The geological world was not communicated solely through the pages of books; the popular press, museums, itinerant lecturers and simple conversation were all equally important vehicles for its dissemination and processes which added simplicity and colour. ‘Relics open to public inspection and potentially visible to any passerby provide unmediated impressions of the past … relics can come to us without conscious aim or effort.’ This is no less true of fossil collections and of geology in the landscape.Lyell’s 1826 review of the Geological Society’s Transactions in the Quarterly Review, for example, painted a picture of a science transforming views of the natural world. Here, Conybeare’s descriptions of plesiosaurs darting at fishes, the ‘prodigious magnitude’ of Buckland and Mantell’s Megalosaurus and Iguanodon, and Pterodactyls likened to ‘winged dragons of fabulous legends’, all turned the key of accessibility.[31] A rich vein of potential discovery ran through Britain; an open treasure house. The evidence was remarkably tangible:

the documents of geology record the warfare of ages antecedent to the creation of the human race, of which in their later days the geologist becomes the first and only historiographer. And the documents of his history are not sculptured imitations of marble, but they are the actual substance and bodies of the bones themselves, mineralized and converted to imperishable stone.[32]

Romantic notions were inevitably intertwined with natural theology, an interpretation of nature beloved of that dominant intellectual force in nineteenth century provincial life, the clergy. William Paley’s Natural Theology published in 1802, with its notion of a designer God and rooted in Francis Bacon’s desire for the rational investigation of a divine plan, proved influential to successive generations of natural philosophers, and continued to influence naturalist parsons, with their ‘sermons in stones’, beyond the end of the century. The doctrine was widely expressed in society reports and natural history magazines in the 1820s: ‘He who does not make himself acquainted with God from the consideration of nature, will scarcely acquire knowledge of Him from any other source; for if we have no faith in the things which are seen, how should we believe those things which are not seen?’ And ‘To trace the hand of creative wisdom, whether manifested in its sublimest operations, or in the most minute contrivances for the smallest objects of its care, has a tendency, beyond all other occupations, to elevate the mind of man.’ For geology the question concerned the very creation of the world. The leaders of the philosophical society in York adopted a Paleyan view of nature, brought to them by William Vernon, its first president and a disciple of Oxford academic, and therefore Anglican cleric, William Buckland. The latter’s views were expressed in his inaugural lecture of 1819, Vindiciae Geologicae; or, the Connexion of Geology with Religion Explained, its content heavily influenced by Conybeare.[33] Here geology was to satisfy moral as well as physical needs, with the emphasis firmly on the former.

The link to religion gave geology an imperative: ‘The science of geology becomes of infinite importance, when we consider it as connected with our immortal hopes’. Natural theology was also of great importance to secular interests in science, one of its strongest attributes being its mediating role, allowing the progress of science at a time when religious zealots treated science with ‘suspicion and contempt’, accompanied by wider fears of atheism and revolution. Buckland used his attachment to natural theology as a means to ease geology into the educational establishment.[34] However, while Buckland was confirming the flood in 1819, others were increasingly critical of such attempts to match the geological and biblical records. Buckland and Vernon would come to adjust their thinking and by 1840 these two realms of thought were no longer intertwined.[35] It took much longer to dispel the notion of a divine plan.

Regardless of their motivation and its closeness to wider views of the science, the clergy were well placed for fact collecting. Central figures in the community, with a broad remit, they were able to cross social and material boundaries without suspicion. Revd Robert Ousby of Kirton-in-Lindsey, in Lincolnshire, provides a typical example of the powers and interests of these men. When the local railway line was being engineered he patronised the navvies with sermons and soup. In return he received fossils, only to find that the railway company claimed them as their own property and had another purpose for them (the local Archaeological Society). Some years later the Revd John E. Cross utilised these same methods to establish the sequence of strata in the north-west of the county.[36]

There was also a tacit appreciation of the fundamental importance of geology to agricultural productivity, industrial prosperity and quality of life. But practical considerations were always secondary to purely social, intellectual, educational and emotional concerns. As Buckland put it, the ‘moral’ perspective was a ‘much higher basis’ than mere utility. Edward Bulwer-Lytton made a similar distinction in 1830, ordering the sciences into three ‘classes’: the first exposed profound, general principles, the second resulted in less general discovery and the third merely exploited the practical utility of discovered principles. In Newcastle, however, the new natural history society echoed the mission of its parent philosophical society by declaring the significance of geology to mining and agriculture, this being so much more important than ‘ornamental and pleasing studies’. The claim gave its activities some sense of worth beyond mere intellectual indulgences. Despite the establishment of a sub-committee in 1829 to pursue a programme of geological research, to be partly funded by land and mine owners, the society’s pursuits turned out to be no less ornamental than those of other active societies elsewhere in Britain. It later established an aim to create geological maps and sections of Northumberland, Durham and Cumberland illustrating local resources in the minutest detail. Arnold Thrackray, however, using the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society as an example, did much to dispel the traditional belief that the purpose of these societies was a utilitarian search for scientific solutions to the technical problems of industrial production. The Geological Society understood that the participation of its informants depended upon quite varied motivations, and justified the pursuit of geology by appealing to both the emotional and the rational. Geology was ‘rich in the beautiful and sublime productions of nature’ and ‘of direct application to purposes of the highest utility’.[37] Pursuit of knowledge was self-fulfilling: 

Its chief claim to our estimation is founded on the new impulse imparted by its discoveries to minds engaged in prosecuting various philosophical pursuits … prompting us to investigate in more detail both the animate and inanimate kingdoms of nature, it has enlarged these departments of study and revealed a multitude of new phenomena connected with them; but it has done more than this: it has elevated their rank and dignity …[38]

Finding fertile ground for discovery

If geology offered such a diversity of incentives for participation, all it needed to take off were local catalysts. These came in two forms. The first was geological. A region needed to offer potential for discovery or at very least rich deposits of fossils. The second was human. It required the presence of an individual or group of individuals who could visualise the potential for social, intellectual or financial profit which pursuit of the new science might bring. By the early 1820s, nowhere in provincial England offered more fertile ground for the development of geology than Yorkshire. Conybeare and Phillips’s Outlines of the Geology of England and Wales, published in 1822, revealed a county whose geology was very imperfectly known.[39]

However, Yorkshire offered little potential reward for those who wished to be the doyens of geology, men such as Buckland, Sedgwick, Murchison and Conybeare. Its geology was thought to be known, at least in broad terms. It was, in Bulwer-Lytton’s terminology, second-class science. These men were soon interested in grander concepts and more challenging questions: tackling much older rock successions and superimposing British geology on Europe and North America. Some were already moving from the simple study of detail to formulating the wider perspective. Such generalisations brought the greatest accolades and the most enduring achievements.

Its relative geographical isolation had left Yorkshire removed from the centre of geological research. The Geological Society of London had virtually no presence in the county in 1810. The result was not simply poorly known stratigraphy but also omission from wider research programmes which it was well placed to support, such as the determination of the saurian fauna of the Lias.[40] Lyme Regis and other southern locales were both more convenient and better equipped to support London-based science. At more than two hundred miles from the capital, Yorkshire had space to make its own discoveries and to amass its own collections. By default, its geology became the province of the local observer. 

However, the value of local discovery was not beyond question. Practical men such as Robert Bakewell, while admitting the ‘erroneous inferences’ to which the local philosopher was liable, could not fault the value of ‘his record of facts’. With this Farey agreed: ‘on matters of fact, I rarely if ever find myself at issue with the practical Colliers, Miners & c. but on matters of inference, or involving their belief, of things not actually seen by themselves, I almost daily … find myself point blank at issue with them’.[41] Greenough also took this view. He was willing to gather facts for his map from almost anyone, believing that the science would progress through the discovery of minutiae. But he had a deep distrust of any local reasoning built upon these facts; the fossil-based stratigraphy of Farey and Smith was to him simply an unproven ‘inference’. Their primary data, however, could legitimately be taken and used in his own constructions. He was not alone amongst the gentlemen geologists in doing this. It became a central philosophy of the Geological Society.[42]

There is a certain prejudice more or less prevalent among the members of scientific societies in large cities, such as London or Paris, which makes them unwilling to believe that persons residing in provincial towns or in the country can do anything important for science; and it is strangely imagined that a city geologist, who runs over a district in a few days, can make greater discoveries than any one residing in it, who is in the habit of daily and repeated observation.[43]

Fig. 2.2 Urban expansion produced the ingredients for geology: quarries, labourers and middle-class prosperity. Bradford in 1869, from Baines 1871.

This division of labour within the science became an important issue as the decades passed. It was discussed in John Herschel’s Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy, published in 1830. The validity of the society’s so-called inductive methodology came in for considerable debate and criticism in the second quarter of the century. The concept was understood differently by each participant. Some truly felt that facts were being randomly collected which together would enable the formation of general laws. Others saw the approach as simply one that placed great importance on factual information and sought to acquire those facts in answer to specific questions (which might also be read as hypotheses). The great fear was of unsubstantiated speculation. After 1830 the role of theory and generalisation in the science was much more clearly understood and appreciated.[44]

A complex process of legitimising practice developed throughout the period. From the foregoing discussion it appears that this was primarily based on social status and those groups focused on an intellectual understanding of geology. Facts, of which collected specimens were examples, were largely beyond dispute. Increasingly, however, the process of collecting would be distinguished into legitimate and illegitimate practice as will be seen in the Geological Survey’s tight control of collecting and collected materials, and in the Whitby philosophical society’s desire to maintain control over its fossil hinterland.[45] This is also apparent in how each stratum viewed the collecting of the one socially below it.

Local philosophers had no doubts about the contribution which they could make. Their efforts were aimed at national scientific advancement, at lifting the country out of its intellectual mire. They were not simply immersing themselves in provincialism. ‘The united efforts of these institutions cannot assuredly be lost’, the Hull Literary and Philosophical Society reflected on the movement to which it belonged, ‘but must produce a more general and earnest attention to those scientific pursuits which in this country have, till of late years, been too much neglected.’[46]

Geology was there for the taking. Opportunities opened up by the Geological Society and its provincial imitators gave the local observer a stage on which to perform his own scientific feats. It was not until the early 1820s, following publication of Conybeare and Phillips’s book, that the society’s fact collecting began to establish a framework for science within the wider philosophical community. Before this time there was nothing to prevent the provincial philosopher from adventurous speculation. There was inevitably a time lag between the true position of the science and the science as seen by the provincial gentleman. Thus John Alderson, the Hull doctor and collector who had written on local geology some years earlier, ended a paper given to the local society in November 1823 with ‘a new theory of the Earth, which gave rise to an extended conversation’. In similar fashion the president of the Leeds society, John Marshall, gave his own cosmogony.[47]

The Hull society in taking possession of the nation’s heritage did so in a spirit of protectionism that was to underpin the movement. This was yet another nuance of those scientific jealousies. It sought to prevent the native products of geology from being ransacked by foreigners: ‘As one evidence of this neglect it may be observed, that many of the fossils of our own coal-fields have been lately recognised and described, for the first time, in the work of a foreign author.’ This is a reference to Adolphe Brongniart’s Histoire des Végétaux Fossiles (1828) and also a rewriting of William Fitton’s Presidential Address to the Geological Society of the same year. Fitton’s statement, however, had not been phrased in a nationalistic sense but in admiration and a desire for emulation. Views were inevitably mixed. Friendly rivalry with France was commonplace. French science publications, for example, were invariably given negative reviews, as were their methods. But France, with its greater government patronage of science, also provided the gauge against which British progress was measured. One such measure concerned the natural resources of geology: fossils, minerals and rocks. These were viewed as territory to be claimed; many felt the French were much more effective colonisers. George Cumberland, discussing fossil reptiles, echoed the Hull society’s concerns: ‘the French nation will and must take the lead of us in this branch of natural history.’ Murchison, as the science’s leading British participant in the middle years of the century, similarly saw geology as a mechanism for intellectual imperialism. But yet there was much co-operation. In contrast to the Hull men, the York society was open-minded and keen to participate in international science. Where science was strongest, so was an appreciation of the French contribution to the current wave of interest in natural history. ‘A powerful stimulus has also been derived from the writings of the celebrated French naturalist, Baron Cuvier, whose discoveries have thrown a charm over this branch of science, and strewed the path of all succeeding geologists with flowers.’[48] Much of this talk was, like similar complaints of scientific decline, simply a way to try to get philosophers to rise up or government to take notice, if for no other reason than to support scientific development as an act of patriotism.

In Yorkshire there were other, more local, catalysts which encouraged an upwelling of geological research in the early 1820s. The first, according Martin Simpson who was 17 at the time, was the publication of George Young’s description of local geology in his History of Whitby in 1817. ‘The publication of this work immediately produced a general revolution in publick opinion respecting the fossil remains of the district, and excited great zeal for further discovery’. The section on ‘mineralogy’, which ran to 23 pages of tightly packed prose, had been drafted by fellow Whitby man John Bird, and largely used by Young verbatim.[49] It demonstrated Bird’s considerable knowledge of local geology. His description of the fossil wealth asserted its richness and diversity, and undoubtedly attracted geological tourists to the coast.

The second catalyst was the discovery of a deposit of bones at Kirkdale Cave, near Kirkbymoorside, in the summer of 1821. These William Buckland was to transform in the public imagination into a living, breathing, colony of English hyenas. Kirkdale became a national sensation and thrust Yorkshire to the fore in this emerging science. What, from a reading of Conybeare and Phillips, might be perceived as simply the northern extension of an assemblage of rocks and fossils well known in southern Britain, now had unique attributes of its own. Equidistant from Whitby, Scarborough and York, Kirkdale formed the spark which lit the Yorkshire philosophical movement and provided collections which found their way into many of the museums emerging across Britain at this time. In Yorkshire these objects became holy relics.[50]

The third catalyst turned this spark of interest into scientific endeavour. This came from two immigrants to the county: William Smith and John Phillips. Through ‘unlucky speculation’ Smith ‘became a wanderer in the North of England’ for seven years from 1819 having lost virtually all his worldly possessions and spent ten weeks in a debtors’ prison. Every stay in London had resulted in a visit from the tax collector. By 1820 Smith still had not received the credit due to him for his discovery of stratigraphic order and method. A decade later he was to be turned into the mascot of the new science, ‘the father of English geology’. As such he embodied a national claim to priority, a fact recognised when the Geological Society awarded him the Wollaston Medal in 1831. By this time the science was sufficiently established, culturally, to be able to carry such lowly associations and Greenough’s power was no longer absolute. This perspective, however, centres the Geological Society as legitimiser of geological practice. By the early 1820s many in the society were aware of Smith’s contribution and gave him credit for it, not least Conybeare and Phillips in their influential book. In Yorkshire he met an audience untarnished by Geological Society factions, who knew of his map and the rudiments of his ideas. He was by now almost a figure of legend amongst those who turned the pages of the Philosophical Magazine. On his arrival in Yorkshire, with its thirst for discovery, Smith was immediately embraced as ‘a geologist of distinguished merit and reputation’.[51] When in 1824 he first lectured to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society he was introduced as having ‘a reputation as an original observer’. It was in Yorkshire he achieved his apotheosis and reaped the rewards of his earlier work. It was here also that he would bequeath his talents to his nephew who would take them onto the centre stage of geology.

Exploiting the widely held desire of local philosophers to participate in geology, the two were to diversify from roaming surveyors and mapmakers into itinerant lecturers, curators and fieldguides. They were to take on the role of geological evangelists converting whole philosophical communities to this new scientific creed. They brought with them the skills and knowledge necessary to superimpose the geological order of the south onto the chaos of the north. These were skills possessed by no-one else in Yorkshire and extremely rare in provincial England. Smith was to become a Yorkshire celebrity and the county’s geological icon; the unassuming Phillips was to give Yorkshire science and place it on the geological map of Britain. The future of geology was, in Banks’s view, in the hands of practical men such as William Smith and his disciple John Farey, who were capable of bringing geological civilisation to untamed landscapes if only they were given the means to achieve what they promised.[52]Ultimately Banks would be correct. Smith would succeed to power not in person but by descent.

With Smith and Phillips a practical methodology for the pursuit of local geology arrived in Yorkshire. As lecturers evangelising geology, their impact on the county was transforming. Societies which had formed principally to pursue geology were soon in possession of an appropriate language and method. These acted as a catalyst for museum development. But as societies they attracted a variety of participants, many of whom saw the science in an entirely different light. Consequently, in this populous region, the nature and meaning of geology took on great complexity, which is best viewed through the collection and movement of fossils. These reveal that the established notion of a collector simply gathering fossils, and passing them on to a savant who studied them, could not be further from the truth. Just as geology in London took on its own peculiar social aspect so too did its Yorkshire participants use it to meet their own varied aspirations. Not all of these were concerned with the construction of knowledge.

[1].          For ‘a flaming …’, Treneer (1963: 79). Underwood was a friend of Davy and an acquaintance of Coleridge. Sir Humphry Davy’s honeymoon, and Underwood, are described by Knight (1992: 97-101). Nicholson’s Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and the Arts also regularly carried intelligence on scientific developments in France during the war years. For ‘as the second …’, Conybeare quoted by North (1935: 18).

[2].          For postwar tourism, Gash (1979: 9). Torrens (1998a) who also stresses the impact of wartime isolation. Rudwick (1972: 165) for comparison of French and British science.

[3].          Underwood to Webster, 20 February 1820, in Challinor (1964-1965: 1: 183). There was considerable interest in species such as tapir of which living examples such as the Malayan form had not yet been described. This latter species along with numerous other Asian quadrupeds arrived in Paris in the following year (see Pentland to Buckland, 21, 26 February, 7 May, 1821 in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 266-70)). For the discovery of a new fossil species of ‘gigantic tapir’ found at Orleans see letter, 21 July 1821, ibid., 276.

[4].          This is documented and analysed in Torrens (1998). Conybeare did not stay the whole tour.

[5].          This was Ernst Friedrich, Baron von Schlotheim (2 April 1765-28 March 1832), from Greenough’s journals quoted by Torrens (1998).

[6].          Buckland, London to De la Beche, Lyme Regis, 21 November 1821, NMW.

[7].         For British lead, Torrens (1998a) based on contemporary comment by Robert Jameson. Shepherding of foreigners is apparent from Cumberland, Bristol to Webster, 13 January 1826, Fitzwilliam Museum. For books, Fitton to Webster, 1 December 1822, (Challinor 1964-1965: 2: 171). For fossil exchanges, Underwood to Webster, 14 December 1821, ibid., part 1, p. 195.

[8].          Joseph Barclay Pentland (17 January 1797-1873). Thomas Richard Underwood, (c.1765-1836), an artist who played an important, if not unbiased, role in communicating French science to the English, particularly to Webster. He appears to have been a reasonably informed geologist (Challinor 1964-1965: 1: 182); Moore et al. (1991: 140). For ‘thief’, Underwood to Webster, 14 December 1821, (Challinor 1964-1965: 1: 193). Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 248) for further analysis of Underwood and for a biography of Pentland.

[9].          Delair and Sarjeant (1976) unravel the role of Pentland in the work of Conybeare. They suggest that the letters give Underwood’s accusations no credence (Sarjeant and Delair 1980: 248). For exchanges, Pentland to Buckland, 20 September 1821 (?1820) in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 262). Nature of Pentland’s research is apparent in Pentland to Buckland, 3 July 1821, in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 276, 278).

[10].        For ‘a strange …’ see Underwood to Webster, 21 December 1822, Challinor (1964-1965: 2: 174); ‘vanity …’, Underwood to Webster, 20 February 1820, in Challinor (1964-1965: 1: 183); ‘a mere tyro …’, Pentland and Buckland, 29 October 1821, in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 280). ‘The fault …’, Cumberland, Bristol to Webster, [January 1826], Fitzwilliam Museum. ‘The jealousy …’, Phillips quoted by Edmonds (1975b: 273). ‘a band …’, Underwood to Webster, 14 December 1821, in Challinor (1964-1965: 1: 193)

[11].      George Brettingham Sowerby (12 May 1788-26 July 1854). ‘Quack’ and ‘dealer’ were opinions of Brochant on seeing one of Webster’s complaining letters, quoted in Underwood to Webster, 14 December 1821, in Challinor (1964-1965: 1: 193); for ‘blockhead’, Pentland, discussing Underwood’s opinions, also ‘at war’, in a letter to Buckland, 29 October 1821, in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 280). Comments on Conybeare and Miller from Cumberland, in Mike Crane’s MSS notes on J.S. Miller, Bristol City Museum Geological File MIL21, from Bristol Reference Library, Cumberland scrapbooks, (3 vols, 5 E, Acc. No. 2659), mss note commenting on a copy of his printed letter dated 21 January 1823 which appeared in the Bristol Mirror, 8 February 1823, p. 4. Johann Samuel Miller or more properly Müller (26 February 1779-25 May 1830), curator of the Bristol Institution, and one of the most respected curators of the 1820s, produced a monograph on crinoids, and was also a fossil collector in his own right. He is further discussed in chapter five.

[12].        Greenough in Paris, and another, undated, in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 275, 278). Porter (1977: 182) says Greenough ‘showed a pathological distrust of all explicit theorizing’; see also Torrens (1990c: 660) on Greenough’s much discussed scepticism. For ‘the geological …’, Pentland and Buckland, 29 October 1821, in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 280).

[13].        For ‘he is …’, ibid.,  Pentland to Buckland, 2 July 1821, in Sarjeant and Delair (1980: 275, 278), also Underwood to Webster, 14 December 1821, (Challinor 1964-1965: 1: 194) for contemporary French opinion of Sowerby largely encouraged by Underwood. On Fitton, Webster to Underwood, 18 March 1822, in Challinor (1964-1965: 2: 153).

[14].        Cumberland saw illustration in fossil texts as a high concern in the fine arts, Cumberland to Webster, 3 January 1825 and [Jan 1826], Fitzwilliam Museum.

[15].        From Altick’s (1973: 17) analysis of contemporary fiction.

[16].        Galton (1874) ends by promoting the nurturing of scientific desires by government and universities; Forrest (1974).

[17].        For ‘dead languages’, Anon. (1829: 475) and Bulwer-Lytton (1830: I: 249); for taste and reasoning, Forbes (1853: 10); for ornamental learning, see Thackray (1974: 689).

[18].        For ‘the growth …’, Porter (1977: 128). See Shapin and Thackray (1974: 7) for the notion of a scientific community. For Monte Bolca and collector-connoisseur relations, Pomian (1990: 226-39); Greenough (1819: 296) tells us that 150 Monte Bolca fish species were known in 1819.

[19].        For ‘calculated’, Loudon (1828: 10); ‘peasantry’, B. (1828a: 13); ‘common morality’, Secord (1994: 273). See Thackray (1974: 688, 702) and White (1988: 88) for similar views expressed by Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society’s William Henry and Sir Benjamin Heywood. For Brougham (1748-1832) and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge founded in 1828, see Gillispie (1951: 193), Desmond (1989: 30-31), and Vincent (1981: 136-65) for a view of an idealistic and reforming, yet failing, society. Shapin and Barnes (1977) for the context of mechanics institutes.

[20].        For Darwin’s obsession and the emphasis on species, Desmond and Moore (1991: 57); for the Yorkshire men, see Phillips Journal, OUM Phillips Box 82 folder 19. Allen (1976), Barber (1980) and Merrill (1989) for fads and fashions. For omniscience see Schweber (1981: 2).

[21].        Allen (1987: 207); Horsman (1999: 284).

[22].        Cumberland’s reviewer was Keynes (1970).

[23].        Banks to Faujas de St Fond, September 1811, quoted by Torrens (1994: 68).

[24].        ‘Awful changes’, Loudon (1828: 5). Porter (1977: 145) has highlighted the importance of geology to other metropolitan and provincial learned societies in the first decade of the nineteenth century. ‘Spreading of knowledge’ see Phillips, Hull to Goldie or Copsie, York, 7 January 1825, in Melmore (1943a: 23).

[25].        HL&PS (1839) Annual Report, 16. For John Kenrick’s ‘fashionable subject’ see Edmonds (1975b: 272); for new-born science and popularity, Gillipsie (1951: 184-216).

[26].        ‘As we advance …’, Lyell (1826b: 507). For ‘epitome …’, Fitton, Presidential Address, 15 February 1828, Proc. Geol. Soc1, 58.

[27].        Preface, Transactions of the Geological Society, 1 (1811), viii.

[28].        See motives for Greenough, Buckland and Conybeare’s tour (Torrens 1998). Porter (1977: 142) for the romantic attractions of travel. ‘Hard names’ from ‘Mr William Smith’s [1818] claims to the discovery and establishment of principles which have perfected the system of English geology’ reprinted in Sheppard (1917: 215-20), see also note in Eyles (1967: 210). Equipment, Allen (1997: 204); an open pursuit, Shapin and Thackray (1974: 6). Gillispie (1951: xi) suggests that not until 1845-1846 did geology pass beyond the comprehension of the well-read person. Accessible texts, however, continued to be produced. On popularisation through Lyell’s Principles of Geology, see Dean (1981: 114).

[29].        For Brander, see Anon. (1841). Allen (1997: 204) points to the dominance of collecting in geology.

[30].        For ‘heart …’, B. (1828a: 13). Smith and Phillips, for example, wrote verse, as did many other contemporary intellectuals (for some examples, see Schweber (1981: 18); also Dean (1981) who discusses the interrelationships of the different literary spheres and their association with geology; Rupke (1983b: 75-80) discusses geology’s relationship to the arts). For ‘moment’ and ‘loosening’, see Kitson Clark (1955: 215-16). See Merrill (1989: 13) for the influence of romanticism more widely in natural history and Secord (1994) for rational amusement for rational minds. As Shortland (1994: 18) detects there is no strong relationship between romanticism and science per se, but romance (broadly defined) was certainly part of its social pursuit and part of its selling. On Romanticism and geology, Wyatt (1995).

[31].        ‘Relics …’, Lowenthal (1985: 245). Lyell (1826b).

[32].        Buckland, quoted by Rupke (1983b: 60).

[33].        Relationship between Baconianism and natural theology, see Turner (1993: 124) who also for ‘designer God’ and Paley, p. 102ff. ‘He who does …’, Loudon (1828: 21) quoting from Carl Linnaeus’ Reflections on the Study of Nature. ‘To trace …’, YPS (1829) Annual Report for 1828. See Finney (1993: 5-6) and Merrill (1989: 42) for a concise overview of natural theology. Gillispie (1951: 3-4) for Bacon, and more generally for the associations between religion and geology. Taylor (1994: 182) in the context of the Bristol Institution. Buckland (1820: 14, 18-19) read May 1819 and comment by Edmonds (1991), Torrens (1998b). Gillispie (1951: 105-106) constantly investigates the twin themes of utility and geology as a path to God; see also, Heyck (1982: 53). Rupke (1983b: 59) shows that Buckland’s intention was to place geology within the context of classical learning. 

[34].        For ‘The science …’, Joseph Townsend (1813: 430) quoted by Gillispie (1951: 94). For mediating role see Brooke (1997: 63, 71). Shapin (1991) credits Robert Merton (1938) with the observation that science was legitimised by attaching itself to established reservoirs of legitimacy in local culture such as religion. Orange (1970: 224) for religious context of geology and the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. On Buckland, Rupke (1983b: 237).

[35].        For the transition in this relationship, see Dean (1981: 116-19).

[36].        For Ousby (18 July 1825-1857), Anon. (1846); Cross (1875).

[37].        Bulwer-Lytton (1830: II: 186). For Buckland, Gordon (1894: 25). Newcastle’s perspective is from a reprint of the prospectus of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, etc. in Russell Goddard (1929: 29). On relations to industry, Thackray (1974: 676), also Torrens (1990a: 181). Porter (1977: 94-103) saw provincial learned societies as one of a number of media (which included itinerant lecturers, museums, libraries, periodicals and the arts) stimulating a wider interest in natural history in the mid-eighteenth century. In his view many of these maintained a strong link to practical geology and the commercial exploitation of the Earth, though admitting that the relationship of the growth in geological understanding nationally to rising industrialism is less clear cut (Porter 1977: 132). For ‘rich …’, Preface, Transactions of the Geological Society1 (1811), viii.

[38].        Lyell (1826b: 508-9).

[39].        Conybeare and Phillips (1822). In William Fitton’s opinion this book ‘had an effect to which nothing … can be compared’, Presidential Address, 15 February 1828, Proc. Geol. Soc. Lond.1, 59.

[40].        Isolation here is measured relative to the Geological Society in the capital. Rudwick (1963: 330) plots the society’s membership.

[41].        Farey (1815b: 343-4).

[42].        Rudwick (1963: 337) on the Geological Society.

[43].        Bakewell (1830: 9) discussing the Establishment’s initial resistance to Gideon Mantell’s discoveries, also part quoted and discussed by Torrens (1990c: 659). Rudwick (1985: 423-4) exposes similar lines of demarcation in the Devonian controversy. Similar arguments have been used to disentangle the polarised worlds of the amateur and professional in natural history (see Kohlstedt 1976); they indicate that the roots of professionalisation in geology had already taken hold by the second decade of the nineteenth century. 

[44].        This debate is well covered by Miller (1986) and Yeo (1986). See Morrell (1988b: 159) for relationship of Baconian views on the division of labour in these societies. Rupke (1983b: 119) suggests that the Geological Society embodied a philosophical eclecticism. Indeed this would be embodied in the pluralism which determined involvement in geological pursuits more widely.

[45].        There are interesting parallels in Thomas’s (1991: 140; 1994: 135) analysis of collecting on eighteenth-century voyages of discovery where (illegitimate) sailors and the (legitimate) official ‘naturalist’ were in competition for artefacts.

[46].        HL&PS (1828) Annual Report5.

[47].        For ‘a new …’, HRO, DSL 1, Minutes 1822-1833, 3 November 1823. Marshall in Sheppard (1917: 81).

[48].        ‘As one …’, HL&PS (1828) Annual Report5. Fitton, Presidential Address, 15 February 1828, Proc. Geol. Soc1, 53.For ‘the French …’, Cumberland (1829: 348). Secord (1982: 438) for Murchison’s imperialist itinerary. ‘A powerful …’, Taylor (1830: 17); for more on Cuvier’s influence in Britain, Gillispie (1951: 98-102) and p201 for another example of patriotism; this competitive spirit is also evident in Foote (1951: 205).

[49].        ‘The publication …’, Simpson (1884), see also Sheppard (1918). Young (1817: 769-92).

[50].        Kirkdale is further discussed in chapter 8.

[51].        On debt see Phillips (1844: 91). Eyles (1967: 179) for the background to this and Smith’s financial position. Also Eyles (1969: 157), Grayson (1983: 23), Gillispie (1951: 91) and Torrens (1994: 69).  Edmonds (1982: 145, 151) for earlier financial troubles which may have curtailed Phillips’s studies, and for background on the cause of this debtOn Wollaston Medal (Rudwick 1985: 63), then his greatest admirer was Murchison. See, for example, Anon. (1830b: 45-47) where Smith’s discoveries are set as the foundation of the work of the Geological Society in successive years. See also Rupke (1983b: 191) for ‘The Smith Cult’, and Torrens (1990c: 660) for comment on this. Merton (1973: 296-8) for discussion of national claims to scientific priority and a cultural context to scientific fatherhood. ‘A geologist …’, The Leeds Mercury, 24 November 1821, in Sheppard (1917: 80).

[52].        Torrens (1994).

From: Simon J. Knell. The Culture of English Geology, 1815-1851: A Science Revealed Through Its Collecting (Aldershot/Burlington USA/Singapore/Sydney: Ashgate Publishing, 2000).