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PREFACE. The present volume consists of essays which I have contributed to various periodicals, or read before scientific societies during the last fifteen years, with others now printed for the first time. The two first of the series are printed without alteration, because, having gained me the reputation of being an independent originator of the theory of “natural selection,” they may be considered to have some historical value. I... more...

IN the last Lecture I endeavoured to prove to you that, while, as a general rule, organic beings tend to reproduce their kind, there is in them, also, a constantly recurring tendency to vary—to vary to a greater or to a less extent. Such a variety, I pointed out to you, might arise from causes which we do not understand; we therefore called it spontaneous; and it might come into existence as a definite and marked thing, without any... more...

BIOLOGY I must at the outset remark that among the many sciences that are occupied with the study of the living world there is no one that may properly lay exclusive claim to the name of Biology. The word does not, in fact, denote any particular science but is a generic term applied to a large group of biological sciences all of which alike are concerned with the phenomena of life. To present in a single address, even in rudimentary outline,... more...

INTRODUCTION The Science of Astronomy is sublime and beautiful. Noble, elevating, consoling, divine, it gives us wings, and bears us through Infinitude. In these ethereal regions all is pure, luminous, and splendid. Dreams of the Ideal, even of the Inaccessible, weave their subtle spells upon us. The imagination soars aloft, and aspires to the sources of Eternal Beauty. What greater delight can be conceived, on a fine spring evening, at the... more...

PREFACE. My warmest thanks are due to Mr. Francis Darwin, to Mr. E. B. Poulton (whose interest in the subject here discussed is shown by his share in the translation of Weismann's Essays on Heredity), and to Professor Romanes, for the help afforded by their kindly suggestions and criticisms, and for the advice and recommendation under which this essay is now published. Encouragement from Mr. Francis Darwin is to me the more precious, and the... more...

THE DIAGRAMS. The diagrams, it will be observed, are grouped under the seasons, and they indicate the positions of the constellations as they appear at 9 o'clock p.m. in mid-season. To facilitate finding and observing the constellations, the student should face in the direction indicated in the text. This applies to all constellations excepting those near the zenith. The four large plates are so arranged that the observer is supposed to be... more...

PART. I. Right understanding is the most equally divided thing in the World; for every one beleevs himself so well stor’d with it, that even those who in all other things are the hardest to be pleas’d, seldom desire more of it then they have; wherein it is not likely that all Men are deceived: But it rather witnesseth, That the faculty of right-judging and distinguishing truth from falshood (which is properly call’d,... more...