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In the following pages, the three great divisions of Strata, and the three great portions of Geological Time, are termed Palæozoic, Mesozoic, and Cænozoic; these designations having fairly won their way, and being really preferable, while treating of the Succession of Life, to such titles as Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary, which express something more than the knowledge we actually possess, and something different from the idea we wish to convey.
While speaking of the Lower Palæozoic Strata and the beautiful system of Life which they contain
-a system of the highest importance in the inquiry now on hand—I find it convenient to employ the combination of Siluro-Cambrian, or Cambro-Silurian, as the occasion suggests; and have pleasure in thus commemorating in my phrase the gigantic labours, sometimes independent, sometimes associated, but always successful, by which, first of all men, Murchison and Sedgwick laid open for us these deeplyburied monuments of the earliest Life on the Earth.
Under the title Cænozoic, I wish the reader to comprehend with me not only the Eocene, Meiocene, and Pleiocene of Lyell, but the whole series of Supracretaceous deposits; the latest geological age being chiefly distinguishable by the presence and activity of Man, for whom the Book of the Strata, inscribed with the earlier Wonders of Nature, has been given to be opened with care and deciphered with reverence, by the help of comparison with the living inhabitants of the Land and Sea.