In contrast, James Hutton, a leading Volcanist, emphasized the importance of a never-ending chain of sudden violent eruptions which changed the earth's surface.
Basalt columns helped introduce an element of regularity and development into the Volcanist theory.
As his wife, Louise, described, issues relating to Volcanism were their primary concern.(29) The British Museum provided an ideal introduction to the subject, both by documenting the material and taking an active part in sponsoring and publicizing the research which underpinned the volcanists' position.
The equation of the Volcanists' belief in the constructive potential of sudden events and unorthodox change with an enlightened outlook per se is generally valid in an English context.(39) In continental historiography, however, one often finds the opposite image dominant.
Similarly, in Act IV, Mephisto presents the `devilish' Huttonian view, summarized as `deranged convulsions', whereas the Neptunist position is defended by Faust and characterized by a string of positive attributes, such as `noble' and `pure'.(40) Goethe's dislike of the Volcanists stemmed from his ideological distrust of all sudden change.
Just as Goethe was no religious conservative, Volcanists were not, as a rule, political revolutionaries.
In particular, craters that have central peaks with small pits at their summits offered hope for the volcanists. Surely, they reasoned, it would be very unlikely for a random impactor to strike a mountain precisely at its peak!
The volcanists also pointed to the strange crater pair of Sabine and Ritter (L38).