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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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7857. SHELLS, Growth of.—
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7857. SHELLS, Growth of.—

It will not
be difficult to induce me to give up the theory
of the growth of shells, without their being
the nidus of animals. It is only an idea, and
not an opinion, with me. In the Notes [on
Virginia] * * * I had observed that there were
three opinions as to the origin of these shells.
1. That they have been deposited, even in the
highest mountains, by an universal deluge.
2. That they, with the calcareous stones and
earths, are animal remains. 3. That they
grow or shoot as crystals do. I find that I could
swallow the last opinion, sooner than either
of the others; but I have not yet swallowed it.
Another opinion might have been added, that
some throe of nature has forced up parts which
had been the bed of the ocean. But have we
any better proof of such an effort of nature,
than of her shooting a lapidific juice into the
form of a shell? No such convulsion has taken
place in our time, nor within the annals of history;
nor is the distance greater between the
shooting of the lapidific juice into the form of
a crystal or a diamond, which we see, and into
the form of a shell, which we do not see, than
between the forcing volcanic matter a little
above the surface, where it is in fusion, which
we see, and the forcing the bed of the sea
fifteen thousand feet above the ordinary surface
of the earth, which we do not see. It is
not possible to believe any of these hypotheses;
and, if we lean towards any of them, it should


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be only till some other is produced, more analagous
to the known operations of nature.—
To Mr. Rittenhouse. Washington ed. i, 515.
(P. 1786)