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That application of the sciences of biology and geology, which is commonly known as palaeontology, took its origin in the mind of the first person who, finding something like a shell, or a bone, naturally imbedded in gravel or rock, indulged in speculations upon the nature of this thing which he had dug out—this "fossil"—and upon the causes which had brought it into such a position. In this rudimentary form, a high antiquity may... more...

I DESIRE this evening to give you some account of the life and labours of a very noble Englishman—William Harvey. William Harvey was born in the year 1578, and as he lived until the year 1657, he very nearly attained the age of 80. He was the son of a small landowner in Kent, who was sufficiently wealthy to send this, his eldest son, to the University of Cambridge; while he embarked the others in mercantile pursuits, in which they all, as... more...

The inquiry which we undertook, at our last meeting, into the state of our knowledge of the causes of the phenomena of organic nature,—of the past and of the present,—resolved itself into two subsidiary inquiries: the first was, whether we know anything, either historically or experimentally, of the mode of origin of living beings; the second subsidiary inquiry was, whether, granting the origin, we know anything about the perpetuation... more...

Almost all the processes employed in the arts and manufactures fall within the range either of physics or of chemistry. In order to improve them, one must thoroughly understand them; and no one has a chance of really understanding them, unless he has obtained that mastery of principles and that habit of dealing with facts, which is given by long-continued and well-directed purely scientific training in the physical and the chemical laboratory. So... more...

MR. DARWIN'S long-standing and well-earned scientific eminence probably renders him indifferent to that social notoriety which passes by the name of success; but if the calm spirit of the philosopher have not yet wholly superseded the ambition and the vanity of the carnal man within him, he must be well satisfied with the results of his venture in publishing the 'Origin of Species'. Overflowing the narrow bounds of purely scientific circles, the... more...


NATURAL HISTORY is the name familiarly applied to the study of the properties of such natural bodies as minerals, plants, and animals; the sciences which embody the knowledge man has acquired upon these subjects are commonly termed Natural Sciences, in contradistinction to other so-called "physical" sciences; and those who devote themselves especially to the pursuit of such sciences have been and are commonly termed "Naturalists." Linnaeus was a... more...

I. THE THREE HYPOTHESES RESPECTING THE HISTORY OF NATURE We live in and form part of a system of things of immense diversity and perplexity, which we call Nature; and it is a matter of the deepest interest to all of us that we should form just conceptions of the constitution of that system and of its past history. With relation to this universe, man is, in extent, little more than a mathematical point; in duration but a fleeting shadow; he is a... more...

CHAPTER I. EARLY LIFE: LITERARY AND POLITICAL WRITINGS. David Hume was born, in Edinburgh on the 26th of April (O.S.), 1711. His parents were then residing in the parish of the Tron church, apparently on a visit to the Scottish capital, as the small estate which his father Joseph Hume, or Home, inherited, lay in Berwickshire, on the banks of the Whitadder or Whitewater, a few miles from the border, and within sight of English ground. The... more...

I ON A PIECE OF CHALK [1868] If a well were sunk at our feet in the midst of the city of Norwich, the diggers would very soon find themselves at work in that white substance almost too soft to be called rock, with which we are all familiar as "chalk." Not only here, but over the whole county of Norfolk, the well-sinker might carry his shaft down many hundred feet without coming to the end of the chalk; and, on the sea-coast, where the waves... more...

I. ADMINISTRATIVE NIHILISM. (AN ADDRESS TO THE MEMBERS OF THE MIDLAND INSTITUTE, OCTOBER 9TH, 1871.) To me, and, as I trust, to the great majority of those whom I address, the great attempt to educate the people of England which has just been set afoot, is one of the most satisfactory and hopeful events in our modern history. But it is impossible, even if it were desirable, to shut our eyes to the fact, that there is a minority, not... more...