Lyell, Sir Charles; The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man With Remarks on Theories of the Origin of Species by Variation. American edition after London printing, Philadelphia, George W. Childs, 1863. Octavo, pp. x, 526, frontispiece and second plate at page 252, 58 woodcut illustrations and maps.
The work is complete and in the original binder’s green pebbled stamped cloth with gilt cover vignette and spine titles. The binding is tight and clean with minor bumping to corners, and bright titles. The text is exceptionally clean with a lodge society library plate on front paste down but no further markings. In very good condition. Three editions were printed in 1863 with the second and third editions so noted on the title page. This is the second American printing of 1863 after the London printing.
Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) was a prominent British geologist and is best remembered for his three volume treatise Principles of Geology. His second most important work is “Antiquity of Man” first published in February 1863. A second and third edition with title pages noting the edition were published the same year. The later printings of the first edition contain Lyell’s rebuttals to Agassiz and others and contain useful insights into Lyell’s thinking.
Lyell had been reluctant to accept Darwin’s theory of evolution, as well as the existence of fossil man. But he eventually became convinced in the late 1850s of the antiquity of man by the increasing number of discoveries of man-made flint tools found alongside the fossil remains of extinct animals.
After personally studying sites and collecting and analyzing the evidence, Lyell made the case for human antiquity in his 1863 work “Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man”. Within the work he also announced his acceptance of Darwin’s theory of evolution as “the best explanation yet offered of the connection between man and those animals which have flourished successively on the earth.”
Lyell’s included in his work the argument for evolution by natural selection, as well as evidence supporting the relationship between man and the primates.He took the topics and discussions found only in scientific journals and laid them in an understandable language before the much larger lay audience. His section of the book about early man sums up the evidence for human antiquity and integrates it with archeological evidence from the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age.
The section about glaciation brings together continental ice ages into a larger picture of the Quaternary Period that Lyell had previously discussed in his Principles of Geology.
The section about evolution summarizes and reluctantly endorses Darwin's arguments. Lyell acknowledged that human bodies may have evolved, but left open the possibility of divine intervention in the origins of human intellect and moral sense.