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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;... more...

I THREE PERIODS OF PROGRESS The story of Robinson Crusoe is an allegory of human history. Man is a castaway upon a desert planet, isolated from other inhabited worlds—if there be any such—by millions of miles of untraversable space. He is absolutely dependent upon his own exertions, for this world of his, as Wells says, has no imports except meteorites and no exports of any kind. Man has no wrecked... more...

In the course of the present year several foreign commentaries upon Mr. Darwin's great work have made their appearance. Those who have perused that remarkable chapter of the 'Antiquity of Man,' in which Sir Charles Lyell draws a parallel between the development of species and that of languages, will be glad to hear that one of the most eminent philologers of Germany, Professor... more...

INTRODUCTION The Great War has caused a vast destruction of the sounder portion of the belligerent peoples and it is certain that in the next generation the progeny of their weaker members will constitute a much larger proportion of the whole than would have been the case if the War had not occurred. Owing to this immeasurable calamity that has befallen the white race, the question of eugenics has... more...

WHAT IS DARWINISM? This is a question which needs an answer. Great confusion and diversity of opinion prevail as to the real views of the man whose writings have agitated the whole world, scientific and religious. If a man says he is a Darwinian, many understand him to avow himself virtually an atheist; while another understands him as saying that he adopts some harmless form of the doctrine of... more...

A FOREWORD Before my window lies an enchanting landscape. It embraces a stretch of open rolling country, beautiful as the eye could wish to rest upon. The sun with its slanting rays is not giving it heat enough in these winter months to make it blossom in its radiant beauty, but the mind goes easily back through the few brown months to the time when the field not far away was waving with its rich... more...

THE CHEMICAL HISTORY OF A CANDLE LECTURE I. A CANDLE: THE FLAME—ITS SOURCES—STRUCTURE—MOBILITY—BRIGHTNESS. I purpose, in return for the honour you do us by coming to see what are our proceedings here, to bring before you, in the course of these lectures, the Chemical History of a Candle. I have taken this subject on a former occasion; and were it left to my own will, I should prefer to repeat... more...

FALLING IN LOVE An ancient and famous human institution is in pressing danger. Sir George Campbell has set his face against the time-honoured practice of Falling in Love. Parents innumerable, it is true, have set their faces against it already from immemorial antiquity; but then they only attacked the particular instance, without venturing to impugn the institution itself on general principles. An old... more...

It is very easy to gain a knowledge of the stars, if the learner sets to work in the proper manner. But he commonly meets with a difficulty at the outset of his task. He provides himself with a set of the ordinary star-maps, and then finds himself at a loss how to make use of them. Such maps tell him nothing of the position of the constellations on the sky. If he happen to recognize a constellation,... more...

V. GALILEO AND THE NEW PHYSICS After Galileo had felt the strong hand of the Inquisition, in 1632, he was careful to confine his researches, or at least his publications, to topics that seemed free from theological implications. In doing so he reverted to the field of his earliest studies—namely, the field of mechanics; and the Dialoghi delle Nuove Scienze, which he finished in 1636, and which was... more...