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hand you the thousand years' history of new planet speeding around the sun, modern literature and let you see for world never before seen by mortal eyes. yourself that a full half of its records This discovery may be taken as grandly belong to the last hundred years: many prophetic of the new worlds of thought great historians, many great novelists, that were to be revealed to the human many great essayists, many great orators, mind in the following epoch. The enmany great philosophers, many great largement of the mental horizon of poets—I really must not undertake to humanity during the century was indeed mention even representatives of the commensurate with its marvelous astroseveral classes. But it is with these, nomical discoveries and can be illustrated especially with the men of letters, the adequately only by their vastness and poets and prophets, as strictly the true splendor. In truth there is a closer spokesmen and representatives of their relation between such discoveries and times, that we shall here concern our- men's thinking in apparently the reselves, with the intention of showing how motest matters than is generally imagined. the main tendencies of thought, the great The influence of Sir William Herschel's intellectual movement, the tempers and revelation that the stars are suns, and traits of mind of the nineteenth century these myriads of suns are the probable are embodied in their productions. centers of planetary systems many of
Byron, Shelley, Carlyle, Ruskin, them greater than ours, begets reflections Browning, Tennyson, Jowett, Matthew of momentous reach and import. Man's Arnold, Stanley, Emerson, Whittier, intellectual horizon expands under such Lowell—I confine myself to the Anglo- revelations with the speed of light. Saxon race, and give but a partial list- It was once atheistical to affirm that these reflect, and more than reflect, they the earth moved and that it was but one immortally express, the ideas, the aspira- of many similar planets that revolve about tions, the fears and doubts, the beliefs the sun as their center. For teaching and unbeliefs, the whole mind of the this doctrine Gallileo was imprisoned and century in which they shine like stars. Bruno was burned at the stake. But Sir
The task I have in hand is, I am fully William Herschel revealed that the entire aware, a very large one, and I am sensible solar and planetary system to which our of the presumption anyone is apt to ex- earth, as but a minor orb, belongs, is only pose himself to the charge of in proposing one of innumerable similar systems in an himself as the interpreter of so vast a infinite universe of worlds, systems, and century. But it has for a long time been groups of systems. my business to study the poets and to In another respect, too, the same great interpret them to others; and a very little astronomer's telescope had startling truths reflection will bring home to the dullest to reveal, which were to affect men's mind that there is no understanding of a thoughts in unsuspected spheres. For poet apart from the general temper, the universe that he beheld through lenses speculations, and intellectual character perfected by his own patient toil was not of his age; therefore, if for no other a universe finished, uniform, and in rereason—and other reasons have been pose, but a universe exhibiting in its irresitably strong with me I have made various parts every stage of development an earnest endeavor to appreciate what from the formless eddying dust-cloud science and philosophy also achieved in of worlds yet in the process of evolution the nineteenth century, and what the main to the dead satellites that have had their lines of progress were.
day and now with borrowed luster only On the very first day of the nineteenth make beautiful the night of the inhabicentury an Italian astronomer sweeping tants of younger orbs. The sublime the heavens with his telescope beheld a truth which rises in man's thoughts to consciousness in view of this great dis- their rocks at the time of Noah's flood. closure is of a God who works hitherto, And, for that matter, all the rock formations who displays the power of his hand, yet themselves were supposed to have been building and re-building, thinking in the work of but the brief space of 5,000 or terms of stars and constellations, systems 6,000 years since the creation of Adam. and galaxies that no mind less than in- No order in the earth's strata had as yet finite can measure. The song of creation
The song of creation been observed, no succession of animal is an eternal song, and the poem of populations had been guessed. And Genesis is being written in act and without such conceptions of a continuous material form, now and forever, through and regular order in the rock formations all the ages, in the heavens. This is the and of a definite, progressive succession truth which the stars declare.
of plant and animal species in the world, Another science, which may be said to the old estimate of the earth's age was have been born in the nineteenth century, of course entirely adequate. the science of Geology, had, possibly, a But an actual study of the earth brought still greater influence on speculative forth startling results of most far-reaching thought than Astronomy did. It would consequences. The first great discovery seem that the least harmless of all studies in this field is accredited to a practical would be that of the homely earth; and surveyor, a self-educated man of indeyet the geologist has destroyed many of pendent and unprejudiced ways of thinkour inherited ideas, overthrown whole ing, whom fate tried to conceal by naming systems of thought, and started vast him William Smith. It was this man mental revolutions. The conception for whom the earth waited, we do not which now among all classes of educated know how many centuries, to make persons prevails of the uniform operation known the fact of the orderly arrangeof nature's laws and forces throughout ment of its formations and the fixed proall the ages, and the indefinite extension gression from lower to higher in the backward of those ages during which orders of its living creatures, as indicated those laws and forces have been at work by fossils. But his views, of course, did shaping this world and others like it, this not immediately find acceptance. They conception of uniformity and of vast were declared to be opposed to the plain eons of time, had its birth in the nine- account of Genesis and were therefore teenth century. And its influence upon denounced as atheistical in tendency. speculative thought has been incalculably But it was too late in the world's history great. It has modified men's ideas of the for an unwelcome truth to be stamped Creator and of His ways in bringing out, or to perish for centuries with its worlds into being. It has combined proclaimer at the stake. Other investiwith other conceptions of like novelty gators
after and like greatness to enlarge our intel- another, that tended to confirm the doclectual horizon and to emancipate the trine of the wise-headed surveyor. And mind from traditional views in every as investigation proceeded there were realm of thought. It has introduced the propounded and established yet other idea of law and of uniformity-I recur to revolutionary theories, dealing with other this as of chief significance-into all our geological phenomena. The chief of thinking about nature and the power these was that the forces of nature as at which is in nature.
present seen in operation around us are A few instances of the previous way of altogether adequate to account for the thinking will sufficiently reveal its crude- configurations of the earth which had ness and simplicity. Far into the century before been attributed to great and sudfossils, for example, were generally den catastrophes. According to this new believed to have all been imbedded in doctrine, which was called Uniformi
tarianism, the continents and seas, the remarked the metamorphosis of strucmountains and plains, the rivers and tures; Lamarck who had boldly asserted lakes, all the features of the physical the doctrine of one common origin for all world were given their present shape, not animals, including man, explaining the in general by sudden and intermittent the transmutation of species as due to eruptions, but by long, slow and constant processes of self-adaptation to environprocesses, such as are exhibited every- ment,—these investigators with their where in present operation. In this theories had apparently been forgotten, view, again, the reign of law is affirmed and their memories were revived by the as against chance, or unintelligible Catas- truly epoch-making book of 1859, which trophism, on the one hand, and arbitrary restated and established the truth that unintelligible divine intervention on the was in their views, but wbich owed them other.
no debt, beyond possible suggestions. Sir Alfred Lyell's Principles of Geology, The extraordinary significance of published in 1835, is the book that stands Charles Darwin's work is in no degree out with the greatest prominence in the diminished by a recognition of the honor history of this science. The service that which rightly belongs to his great predeit rendered to research in. other fields,
Their investigations and their especially to biology, was also notable, reasonings based upon their investigations as we shall see.
did not result, as Darwin's did, in breakThe science of biology belongs so ex- ing up the old foundations of their science clusively to the nineteenth century that and of laying them anew. Other realms not even the word was used before that of thought were still less affected, time. It was in 1802 that two writers although, beyond doubt, such views first independently employed the term. having once been published to the world To be sure it would be a very erroneous could not but exert an influence on the way of thinking to suppose that men had human mind. Lyell's summary, in his not before, had not always, indeed, given Principles of Geology, of the doctrines of more or less attention to the phenomena Lamarck is evidence that those of plant and animal life, to the develop- doctrines had not and were not to be ment and modification of structures, and wholly forgotten. the like matters. But, while many facts The battle that was waged, in the third had been observed, and while by Erasmus, quarter of the nineteenth century, around by Darwin, by Lamarck, by Goethe, and the Origin of Species bears testimony to other great students of nature, the the importance which all classes of biological theories of two generations thinkers attached to the inductions of later were anticipated just at the close of Darwin. Their thoroughly revolutionary the eighteenth century, yet it was not and far-reaching significance was at once until past the middle of the nineteenth discerned. If these inductions were true, century that their views, revised and cor- if his main thesis-the origin of species rected with larger knowledge, entered by natural selection—was true, then into the common thought of educated history would have to be rewritten, every
When Charles Darwin, in 1859, science that deals with living organisms, published his Origin of Species the world, nay, with human life and human thought even the scientific part of it, was startled even, would have to be re-written from as by something entirely novel. The this point-of-view. With this doctrine of grandfather, who had put the question, evolution as a guiding principle all future "Can it be that one form of organism thinking must be done. This was perhas developed from another?” Goethe, ceived, and this has proved true. The who had definitely affirmed the develop- name of Darwin stands for an epoch in ment of one species from another and had the intellectual history of the human race.
If, now, we condense into a few sen- evolutionary hypothesis to all the phetences the combined results of Geology nomena of the universe.
And this conand Biology our summary would stand ception in its broad outlines has now thus: The planet upon which we live become almost as general a possession of was untold millions of years in forming humanity as the wonderful induction of and coming to its present condition. The Newton. several stages in its later history since it A fact of interest to recall in this conbegan to assume a permanent form, are nection is that Newton's doctrine in the indicated by its stratified formations early years of its history was regarded whose order, extent, and origin can be with no less fear and hostility than definitely made out. By the study of the Spencer's has been wont to be regarded. fossil remains and of extant species of It was said that Newton “substituted plants and animals the development of gravitation for God," that he took away life upon the earth has been traced and from the Supreme Ruler “that direct the successive orders of living creatures action on his works which is constantly have been described.
ascribed to him in Scripture, and transThe vast length of time, a period to be ferred it to material mechanism.” For measured only by thousands of years, doing this the great and good philosopher that man has been an inhabitant of the was declared to be “heretical and imearth, and the long stages of his progress pious.” But, of course, we may admit in civilization, address themselves to us that the fears excited by the doctrine of here as the chief inductions of universal universal gravitation were foolish, and human interest. There is in this doc- that time proved the hostility not only trine veritably a new conception of vain but unintelligent and mistaken,humanity, a new way of approaching the this may be admitted, and yet it be maininvestigation of every phenomenon of tained that nothing can be proved by man's life, all the institutions of society, this and that, though Newton's doctrine all the creations of the intellect and soul was not really “heretical and impious,' of man. The key that unlocks every yet Spencer's may be altogether so. The door is evolution, admitting, it is true, sober-minded student may admit that not, as bigoted sciolists might claim, to it is too early to pronounce judgment; absolute knowledge, but to vaster and but while doing so he will repudiate the vaster mystery; explaining method and prejudicial epithets “heretical and improcess, but not the power which thus pious.” A great hindrance to the general works, not the ultimate purpose toward acceptance of Spencer's philosophy, is his which all moves.
theory of the unknowableness of God. The leap that thought now took from But I recall that Charles Wesley begins the data furnished by a study of the earth one of his hymns with the line: and its creatures was analogous to that which occurred when Newton, observing
“Thou great mysterious God unknown.” the apple fall, conjectured the universal If I am not mistaken Spencer had some force of attraction, at one mighty sweep Methodistic antecedents. At any rate, of thought conceiving that the planets when we come to make up our verdict on and their attendant moons were held in the religious significance or bearing of his their orbits and governed in their motions philosophy we should study carefully his by the same attractive force that drew the own words in which he is explicit on this apple to the earth. The cosmic philoso- matter. For that purpose I take a few phy of Herbert Spencer, the stupendous sentences from his essay entitled “Reoutlines of which were given to the world ligion: A Retrospect and Prospect.” in the middle years of the century, was the product of the application of the “The final outcome of that speculation
begun by the primitive man, is that the sophical error.” His rejection of the power manifested throughout the universe classification of himself which others distinguished as material is the same insisted on making he declares as follows: power which in ourselves swell
under the form of consciousness.”
"Not among fatalists, for I take the
conception of necessity to have a logical This permits a spiritualistic interpreta- and not a physical foundation; not tion of the universe, as likewise does this among materialists, for I am utterly indoctrine: “Phenomenon without nou- capable of conceiving the existence of menon is unthinkable.” And here is his matter if there is no mind in which to thought upon religion:
picture that existence; not among athe
ists, for the problem of the ultimate cause “The truly religious element of religion of existence is one which seems to me to has always been good; that which has be hopelessly out of reach of my poor proved untenable in doctrine and vicious powers. Of all the senseless babble I in practice, has been its irreligious ele- have ever had occasion to read, the ment; and from this it has been ever demonstrations of those philosophers undergoing purification."
who undertake to tell us all about the But I hold no brief for any man or any
nature of God would be the worst, if they philosophy. I seek to be but a faithful were not surpassed by the still greater reviewer.
absurdities of the philosophers who try to For metaphysics our era has not been prove that there is no God." distinguished. The genius of the age Spencer's philosophy, as greatly as it is has not been distinguished. The genius denounced, can legitimately receive a of the age has been for investigation, the spiritualistic interpretation. Undoubtedfinding out of facts and laws, rather than ly he leaves an open door for this, else for speculation upon the eternal mys- how are we to understand the following teries. It has been a scientific
rather utterance: than a philosophic age. True it is,
“Amid the mysteries,” says Spencer, science comprehends the discovery of
“which become the more mysterious the principles as well as of facts, the forming of systems and the making of large remain the one absolute certainty, that
more they are thought about, there will generalizations; and these are processes he (man) is ever in the presence of an of what we ordinarily think of as the
Infinite and Eternal Energy, from which philosophic mind. But speculation has adhered closely, in general, to the veri- all things proceed.” fiable; it has acknowledged a constant Physical science itself has indeed tended dependence upon the work of the physical to confirm the mind in the idealistic laboratory. At the same time every philosophy. For what are both the result of science has acted as an incite- positive and the negative conclusions of ment to fresh speculation.
Physics ? First, as one of the great disIt might be inferred from this acknowl- coveries of the century, we have the docedged dependence that the philosophy of trine of the conservation of energy and the century was materialistic. In reality transformation and correlation of forces. it was not decidely so, at least in the latter Now, what does this doctrine mean? portion of the century. Even the philoso- Simply stated, just this: that no force phy of the great scientists was not ever disappears; nothing acts, nothing is materialistic. Huxley, upon whom fell acted upon, no change takes place in the the opprobrium meant for all
, repudiated physical universe, without indeed most emphatically the materialistic view expenditure of force, but this force, of the world, “as involving grave philo- though spent, is not lost, only altered,