Even when conducting serious science his manner was generally singular. Once Mrs. Buckland found herself being shaken awake in the middle of the night, her husband crying in excitement: "My dear, I believe that Cheirotherium's footsteps are undoubtedly testudinal." Together they hurried to the kitchen in their nightclothes. Mrs. Buckland made a flour paste, which she spread across the table, while the Reverend Buckland fetched the family tortoise.
Plunking it onto the paste, they goaded it forward and discovered to their delight that its footprints did indeed match those of the fossil Buckland had been studying. Charles Darwin thought Buckland a buffoon—that was the word he used—but Lyell appeared to find him inspiring and liked him well enough to go touring with him in Scotland in 1824. It was soon after this trip that Lyell decided to abandon a career in law and devote himself to geology full-time.
Lyell was extremely shortsighted and went through most of his life with a pained squint, which gave him a troubled air. (Eventually he would lose his sight altogether.) His other slight peculiarity was the habit, when distracted by thought, of taking up improbable positions on furniture—lying across two chairs at once or "resting his head on the seat of a chair, while standing up" (to quote his friend Darwin).
Often when lost in thought he would slink so low in a chair that his buttocks would all but touch the floor. Lyell's only real job in life was as professor of geology at King's College in London from 1831 to 1833. It was around this time that he produced The Principles of Geology, published in three volumes between 1830 and 1833, which in many ways consolidated and elaborated upon the thoughts first voiced by Hutton a generation earlier. (Although Lyell never read Hutton in the original, he was a keen student of Playfair's reworked version.)