London: John Murray, 1830-1833. First edition. A handsome set of this important early scientific work. Bound in contemporary quarter calf over cloth boards. Each volume rebacked, volume one with the original spine laid down, volumes two and three with just the spine labels preserved. Collates [iii]-xvi, 511,  ad; xii, 330; [iii]-xxxii, 398, 109: complete with the half-titles in volumes one and three, as called for, and with the 11 plates, some of which are hand-colored. Bound without the final advertisement in volume three. Internally an excellent copy with clean, bright pages, and foxing only near a few of the plates. Housed in a custom cloth slipcase.
At its release, Lyell's work was hailed as a masterwork. "It's been called the most important scientific book ever...and it shook prevailing views of how the earth had been formed" (Cambridge). Because he sought to show that the geography of the Earth was shaped through small, countless changes happening across eons, Lyell's work "once and for all...dispensed with the notion of supernatural intervention"; for this, Principles of Geology found its place as #344 in Printing and the Mind of Man because its publication changed how humans conceived of Earth's formation. Lyell's exploration of how and when the earth underwent natural alterations heavily influenced later generations of scientists, most famously Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution was made possible because of the foundations that Lyell laid (PMM 344). "Darwin, greatly influenced by Lyell, extended these principles to biology. Species, like geologic features, evolved gradually or died out gradually. Like the forces Lyell talked of, the shifting and rising and falling of land, Darwin was able to locate similar forces in the biologic world" (Cambridge). Its impact on fields across the natural sciences cannot be overstated.
Dibner 96. PMM 344. (Item #2606)