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A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume I by De Morgan

Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation


I

am unspeakably comforted when I look over the above in remembering that the question is not whether it be Pindaric or Horatian, but whether the copy be as good as the original. And I say it is: and will take no denial.

Long live--long will live--the glad memory of William Hamilton, Good, Learned, Acute, and Disputatious! He fought upon principle: the motto of his book is:

"Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook it shines."

There is something in this; but metaphors, like puddings, quarrels, rivers, and arguments, always have two sides to them. For instance,

"Truth, like a torch, the more it's shook it shines; But those who want to use it, hold it steady. They shake the flame who like a glare to gaze at, They keep it still who want a light to see by."

{344}

ANOTHER THEORY OF PARALLELS.

Theory of Parallels. The proof of Euclid's axiom looked for in the properties of the Equiangular Spiral. By Lieut-Col. G. Perronet Thompson.[721] The same, second edition, revised and corrected. The same, third edition, shortened, and freed from dependence on the theory of limits. The same, fourth edition, ditto, ditto. All London, 1840, 8vo.

To explain

these editions it should be noted that General Thompson rapidly modified his notions, and republished his tracts accordingly.

SOME PRIMITIVE DARWINISM.

Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation.[722] London, 1840, 12mo.

This is the first edition of this celebrated work. Its form is a case of the theory: the book is an undeniable duodecimo, but the size of its paper gives it the look of not the smallest of octavos. Does not this illustrate the law of development, the gradation of families, the transference of species, and so on? If so, I claim the discovery of this esoteric testimony of the book to its own contents; I defy any one to point out the reviewer who has mentioned it. The work itself is described by its author as "the first attempt to connect the natural sciences into a history of creation." The attempt was commenced, and has been carried on, both with marked talent, and will be continued. Great advantage will result: at the worst we are but in the alchemy of some new chemistry, or the astrology of some new astronomy. Perhaps it would be as well not to be too sure on the matter, until we have an antidote to possible consequences as exhibited under another theory, on which {345} it is as reasonable to speculate as on that of the _Vestiges_. I met long ago with a splendid player on the guitar, who assured me, and was confirmed by his friends, that he _never practised_, except in thought, and did not possess an instrument: he kept his fingers acting in his mind, until they got their habits; and thus he learnt the most difficult novelties of execution. Now what if this should be a minor segment of a higher law? What if, by constantly thinking of ourselves as descended from primeval monkeys, we should--if it be true--actually _get our tails again_? What if the first man who was detected with such an appendage should be obliged to confess himself the author of the _Vestiges_--a person yet unknown--who would naturally get the start of his species by having had the earliest habit of thinking on the matter? I confess I never hear a man of note talk fluently about it without a curious glance at his proportions, to see whether there may be ground to conjecture that he may have more of "mortal coil" than others, in anaxyridical concealment. I do not feel sure that even a paternal love for his theory would induce him, in the case I am supposing, to exhibit himself at the British Association,


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