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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > Adam Sedgwick Quotes

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Adam Sedgwick
(22 Mar 1785 - 27 Jan 1873)

English geologist.


Science Quotes by Adam Sedgwick (12 quotes)

Among the older records, we find chapter after chapter of which we can read the characters, and make out their meaning: and as we approach the period of man’s creation, our book becomes more clear, and nature seems to speak to us in language so like our own, that we easily comprehend it. But just as we begin to enter on the history of physical changes going on before our eyes, and in which we ourselves bear a part, our chronicle seems to fail us—a leaf has been torn out from nature's record, and the succession of events is almost hidden from our eyes.
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter 1 to William Wordsworth. Quoted in the appendix to W. Wordsworth, A Complete Guide to the Lakes, Comprising Minute Direction for the Tourist, with Mr Wordsworth's Description of the Scenery of the County and Three Letters upon the Geology of the Lake District (1842), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Approach (33)  |  Book (181)  |  Chapter (7)  |  Character (82)  |  Chronicle (6)  |  Clarity (31)  |  Comprehension (51)  |  Creation (211)  |  Enter (20)  |  Event (97)  |  Failure (118)  |  Hidden (34)  |  History (302)  |  Language (155)  |  Leaf (43)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Old (104)  |  Period (49)  |  Physical Change (4)  |  Record (56)  |  Speaking (38)  |  Succession (39)  |  Tear (20)

But I think that in the repeated and almost entire changes of organic types in the successive formations of the earth—in the absence of mammalia in the older, and their very rare appearance (and then in forms entirely. unknown to us) in the newer secondary groups—in the diffusion of warm-blooded quadrupeds (frequently of unknown genera) through the older tertiary systems—in their great abundance (and frequently of known genera) in the upper portions of the same series—and, lastly, in the recent appearance of man on the surface of the earth (now universally admitted—in one word, from all these facts combined, we have a series of proofs the most emphatic and convincing,—that the existing order of nature is not the last of an uninterrupted succession of mere physical events derived from laws now in daily operation: but on the contrary, that the approach to the present system of things has been gradual, and that there has been a progressive development of organic structure subservient to the purposes of life.
— Adam Sedgwick
'Address to the Geological Society, delivered on the Evening of the 18th of February 1831', Proceedings of the Geological Society (1834), 1, 305-6.
Science quotes on:  |  Absence (16)  |  Abundance (15)  |  Appearance (77)  |  Change (291)  |  Combination (69)  |  Convincing (9)  |  Development (228)  |  Earth (487)  |  Emphasis (14)  |  Formation (54)  |  Genus (16)  |  Gradual (18)  |  Law (418)  |  Life (917)  |  Mammal (28)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Organic (48)  |  Progression (9)  |  Proof (192)  |  Purpose (138)  |  Quadruped (4)  |  Repeat (27)  |  Secondary (11)  |  Structure (191)  |  Subservience (3)  |  Succession (39)  |  Tertiary (3)  |  Unknown (87)

Considered as a mere question of physics, (and keeping all moral considerations entirely out of sight,) the appearance of man is a geological phenomenon of vast importance, indirectly modifying the whole surface of the earth, breaking in upon any supposition of zoological continuity, and utterly unaccounted for by what we have any right to call the laws of nature.
— Adam Sedgwick
'Address to the Geological Society, delivered on the Evening of the 18th of February 1831', Proceedings of the Geological Society (1834), 1, 306.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (77)  |  Consideration (65)  |  Continuation (17)  |  Earth (487)  |  Geology (187)  |  Importance (183)  |  Law Of Nature (52)  |  Mankind (196)  |  Modification (31)  |  Moral (100)  |  Phenomenon (218)  |  Physics (301)  |  Question (315)  |  Surface (74)  |  Vast (56)  |  Zoology (28)

If the [Vestiges] be true, the labours of sober induction are in vain; religion is a lie; human law is a mass of folly, and a base injustice; morality is moonshine; our labours for the black people of Africa were works of madmen; and man and woman are only better beasts!
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter to Charles Lyell (9 Apr 1845). In John Willis Clark and Thomas McKenny Hughes (eds.), The Life and Letters of the Reverend Adam Sedgwick (1890), Vol. 2, 84.
Science quotes on:  |  Africa (15)  |  Beast (32)  |  Black (27)  |  Folly (27)  |  Human (445)  |  Induction (45)  |  Injustice (4)  |  Labor (53)  |  Law (418)  |  Lie (80)  |  Madman (3)  |  Man (345)  |  Moonshine (3)  |  Morality (33)  |  People (269)  |  Religion (210)  |  Sober (8)  |  Vain (26)  |  Vestiges (2)  |  Woman (94)

The powers of nature are never in repose; her work never stands still.
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter 3 to William Wordsworth. Quoted in the appendix to W. Wordsworth, A Complete Guide to the Lakes, Comprising Minute Direction for the Tourist, with Mr Wordsworth's Description of the Scenery of the County and Three Letters upon the Geology of the Lake District (1842), 49.
Science quotes on:  |  Nature (1029)  |  Power (273)  |  Repose (5)  |  Still (4)  |  Work (457)

The world is not as it was when it came from its Maker’s hands. It has been modified by many great revolutions, brought about by an inner mechanism of which we very imperfectly comprehend the movements; but of which we gain a glimpse by studying their effects: and their many causes still acting on the surface of our globe with undiminished power, which are changing, and will continue to change it, as long as it shall last.
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter 1 to William Wordsworth. Quoted in the appendix to W. Wordsworth, A Complete Guide to the Lakes, Comprising Minute Direction for the Tourist, with Mr Wordsworth's Description of the Scenery of the County and Three Letters upon the Geology of the Lake District (1841), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Action (151)  |  Cause (231)  |  Change (291)  |  Comprehension (51)  |  Effect (133)  |  Globe (39)  |  Great (300)  |  Imperfection (19)  |  Inner (27)  |  Maker (10)  |  Mechanism (41)  |  Modification (31)  |  Movement (65)  |  Power (273)  |  Revolution (56)  |  Study (331)  |  Surface (74)  |  World (667)

There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. ’Tis the crown and glory of organic science that it does through final cause, link material and moral; and yet does not allow us to mingle them in our first conception of laws, and our classification of such laws, whether we consider one side of nature or the other. You have ignored this link; and, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two pregnant cases to break it. Were it possible (which, thank God, it is not) to break it, humanity, in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it, and sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter to Charles Darwin (Nov 1859). In Charles Darwin and Francis Darwin (ed.), Charles Darwin: His Life Told in an Autobiographical Chapter, and in a Selected Series of His Published Letters (1892), 217.
Science quotes on:  |  Cause (231)  |  Classification (79)  |  Crown (19)  |  Degradation (12)  |  Folly (27)  |  Glory (44)  |  History (302)  |  Human Race (49)  |  Humanity (104)  |  Ignore (22)  |  Law (418)  |  Meaning (87)  |  Metaphysical (5)  |  Mingle (6)  |  Mire (2)  |  Mistake (107)  |  Moral (100)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Organic (48)  |  Record (56)  |  Science (1699)

Volcanic action is essentially paroxysmal; yet Mr. Lyell will admit no greater paroxysms than we ourselves have witnessed—no periods of feverish spasmodic energy, during which the very framework of nature has been convulsed and torn asunder. The utmost movements that he allows are a slight quivering of her muscular integuments.
— Adam Sedgwick
'Address to the Geological Society, delivered on the Evening of the 18th of February 1831', Proceedings of the Geological Society (1834), 1, 307.
Science quotes on:  |  Asunder (2)  |  Convulsion (5)  |  Energy (185)  |  Fever (11)  |  Framework (15)  |  Integument (3)  |  Movement (65)  |  Muscle (32)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Quiver (3)  |  Slight (18)  |  Utmost (8)  |  Volcano (36)

We cannot take one step in geology without drawing upon the fathomless stores of by-gone time.
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter 2 to William Wordsworth. Quoted in the appendix to W. Wordsworth, A Complete Guide to the Lakes, Comprising Minute Direction for the Tourist, with Mr Wordsworth's Description of the Scenery of the County and Three Letters upon the Geology of the Lake District (1842), 18-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Fathomless (2)  |  Geology (187)  |  Shore (11)  |  Step (67)  |  Time (439)

We might expect that as we come close upon living nature the characters of our old records would grow legible and clear; but just when we begin to enter on the history of the physical changes going on before our eyes, and in which we ourselves bear a part, our chronicle seems to fail us: a leaf has been torn out from Nature’s book, and the succession of events is almost hidden from our eyes. [On gaps in the Pleistocene fossil record.]
— Adam Sedgwick
As quoted by Hugh Miller in Lecture First, collected in Popular Geology: A Series of Lectures Read Before the Philosophical Institution of Edinburgh, with Descriptive Sketches from a Geologist's Portfolio (1859), 82-83.
Science quotes on:  |  Book (181)  |  Character (82)  |  Chronicle (6)  |  Clarity (31)  |  Event (97)  |  Expectation (46)  |  Fail (34)  |  Fossil (107)  |  Gap (20)  |  Hidden (34)  |  History (302)  |  Leaf (43)  |  Legibility (2)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Ourself (9)  |  Physical Change (4)  |  Pleistocene (3)  |  Record (56)  |  Succession (39)  |  Torn (4)

We must in imagination sweep off the drifted matter that clogs the surface of the ground; we must suppose all the covering of moss and heath and wood to be torn away from the sides of the mountains, and the green mantle that lies near their feet to be lifted up; we may then see the muscular integuments, and sinews, and bones of our mother Earth, and so judge of the part played by each of them during those old convulsive movements whereby her limbs were contorted and drawn up into their present posture.
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter 2 to William Wordsworth. Quoted in the appendix to W. Wordsworth, A Complete Guide to the Lakes, Comprising Minute Direction for the Tourist, with Mr Wordsworth's Description of the Scenery of the County and Three Letters upon the Geology of the Lake District (1842), 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Bone (57)  |  Clog (4)  |  Convulsion (5)  |  Covering (3)  |  Drift (6)  |  Earth (487)  |  Feet (5)  |  Green (23)  |  Ground (63)  |  Heath (4)  |  Imagination (209)  |  Integument (3)  |  Judge (43)  |  Lift (17)  |  Limb (5)  |  Mantle (3)  |  Matter (270)  |  Moss (8)  |  Mother (59)  |  Mountain (111)  |  Movement (65)  |  Muscle (32)  |  Part (146)  |  Play (60)  |  Posture (4)  |  Present (103)  |  Side (36)  |  Supposition (33)  |  Surface (74)  |  Sweep (11)  |  Torn (4)  |  Wood (33)

[Vestiges begins] from principles which are at variance with all sober inductive truth. The sober facts of geology shuffled, so as to play a rogue’s game; phrenology (that sinkhole of human folly and prating coxcombry); spontaneous generation; transmutation of species; and I know not what; all to be swallowed, without tasting and trying, like so much horse-physic!! Gross credulity and rank infidelity joined in unlawful marriage, and breeding a deformed progeny of unnatural conclusions!
— Adam Sedgwick
Letter to Charles Lyell (9 Apr 1845). In John Willis Clark and Thomas McKenny Hughes (eds.), The Life and Letters of the Reverend Adam Sedgwick (1890), Vol. 2, 83.
Science quotes on:  |  Breeding (11)  |  Conclusion (120)  |  Credulity (8)  |  Deformation (3)  |  Fact (609)  |  Folly (27)  |  Game (45)  |  Generation (111)  |  Geology (187)  |  Human (445)  |  Induction (45)  |  Infidelity (3)  |  Marriage (31)  |  Phrenology (4)  |  Principle (228)  |  Progeny (6)  |  Rogue (2)  |  Shuffle (4)  |  Sober (8)  |  Species (181)  |  Spontaneous (12)  |  Swallow (14)  |  Taste (35)  |  Transmutation (13)  |  Truth (750)  |  Try (103)  |  Unlawful (2)  |  Unnatural (10)  |  Variance (4)  |  Vestiges (2)


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  • 22 Mar - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Sedgwick's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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