THE FIRMAMENT OF TIME -- CHAPTER 2
HOW DEATH BECAME NATURAL
The world is the geologist's great puzzle box. -- Louis Agassiz
It is necessary in surveying the human quest for certainty to consider death before life. I have not done this out of perversity. Rather I have done it because, in the sequence of ideas we have been studying, it is necessary to understand certain aspects of death before we can comprehend the nature of life and its changes.
Man, even primitive man, has tended to take life for granted. Death was the unnatural thing, the result of malice or mistake, the after-message of the gods, or, in the Christian world, the result of the Fall from the Garden. In the development of a scientific approach to life on this planet, therefore, the recognition of death -- species death, phylogenetic death -- had to precede the rise of serious evolutionary thought. For without the knowledge of extinction in the past, it is impossible to entertain ideas of drastic organic change going on in the present or future.
Moreover, extinction is not something which can be postulated from a philosopher's armchair. It can be ascertained only by careful and precise field observation. Comparative anatomy has to be carried to a sufficient point of accuracy that the existing fauna of the world can be distinguished from the faunas of the past. The deeper our knowledge of the geological record penetrates, the stranger are the forms which can be discerned in the earth's far epochs. Without this historical perspective any suggestion of plant or animal change is bound to be limited and the imagination impoverished. At best such ideas will be confined to what can be observed in the way of change among modern products of the breeder's art. Breeding did, however, promote a kind of incipient evolutionism. Thus one of the very early and anonymous commentators upon selection in England, in discussing domesticated forms, has this to say: "Amidst these varieties, which have sprung up under our eye, there are not a few which deviate so much from the type of the species, that we seem incapable of assigning a limit to man's power of producing variation; nor when thinking how many similar circumstances accidentally occur in nature, is it easy to avoid suspecting that many reputed species may in reality have descended from a common stock." 
It was the lack of knowledge of the fossil past which so greatly handicapped the first evolutionists of the eighteenth century. It is just here that the failure of Hutton's views to be received as credible is disappointing. Hutton, while not a student of fossils, was, as we have seen, a student of time. He could read its passage in the rocks and he had been prepared to venture a belief in the enormous antiquity of the earth. There can be no doubt that the conservative English reaction in science after the French Revolution delayed the recognition of Huttonian geology. As an indirect consequence, it may well be that the acceptance of the evolutionary philosophy itself was also delayed by a generation. Time and accompanying geological change are two of the necessary properties without which evolution would be unable to operate. And those two properties bring death as a third factor in their wake.
The seventeenth century was, in general, still in the grip of the short Christian time scale, though here and there, toward the close of the century, some hesitant doubts began to be expressed by men like John Ray. It was the general opinion, says Ray, "among Divines and Philosophers that since the first creation there have been no species of animals or vegetables lost, no new ones produced." It was part of the reigning theology of the time that extinction was an impossibility. In fact, this view continued to be reiterated in the eighteenth century and, by ultraconservative thinkers, into the first decade of the nineteenth century.
Thomas Jefferson, writing in 1782, commented that "such is the economy of nature that no instance can be produced of her having permitted any one race of her animals to become extinct; of her having formed any link in her great work so weak as to be broken." The well-read Jefferson is, of course, merely repeating what was the commonly accepted view of his time. Extinction loomed as something vaguely threatening and heretical. In fact, for that very reason many refused to accept fossils as representing once-living creatures.
Their reluctance to accept what now seems to us so easily discernible and commonplace an observation as extinction is based essentially upon one fact: the benignity of Providence. "To suppose any species of Creatures to cease cannot consist with the Divine Providence," writes one seventeenth century naturalist, and his comment is frequently reiterated by others. This point of view is based upon a theory of organic relationships which, though traceable into earlier centuries, reached a peculiar height of development during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The belief was not confined to philosophy and theology. It permeated the whole field of letters and became widely known as the Scala Naturae, or Ladder of Being.
This conception superficially resembles a line of evolutionary ascent and undoubtedly has played an indirect part in the promotion of evolutionary notions of a scale of rising complexity in the development of life. It was not, however, a scheme of evolution. It is based on a gradation which emerged instantaneously at the moment of creation, and which rises by imperceptible transitions from the inorganic through the organic world to man, and even beyond him to divine spiritual natures.
The idea promoted much anatomical work of a devout character as naturalists attempted to work out the missing or obscure links in what was regarded as an indissoluble chain which held together the various parts of creation. It was for this reason that men viewed with genuine horror the idea that links could be lost out of the chain of life. The strong belief in an all-wise Providence which did nothing without intention caused men to refuse an interpretation of the universe which involved apparently aimless disappearances. If such disappearances were possible, what might not happen to man himself?
Just as there existed the balanced, self-correcting machine of the heavens, and the balanced, self-renewing machine if the earth, so life was similarly linked in the great chain of unalterable law. All was directly under the foreknowing care of the Divine Being. Nevertheless, by the early eighteenth century it began to be whispered among English naturalists "that many sorts of shells are wholly lost, or at least out of our seas." The simpler organisms from marine strata were being identified before the taxonomy of fossil vertebrates had been seriously attempted.
It may now be asked, as fossils slowly became accepted as the remains of creatures once living, how men were for so long able to evade the still troubling question of extinction -- the existence of death before the Garden. A world view does not dissolve overnight. Rather, like one of Hutton's mountain ranges, it erodes through long centuries. In the case of fossils we must remember how small the European domain of science was in comparison with the vast continental areas which had only recently been opened for examination by the voyagers. Australia, Africa, the Americas, were barely known; their interiors remained unexplored. They provided a providential escape for the devout naturalist who still wished to avoid the dangerous logic implicit in unknown bones and shells.
Since it was beginning to be realized that the separate continents possessed faunas and floras to some degree distinct, the devout could argue that creatures of which there were now no living representatives in Europe might well have been driven out by man, or by changes of climate; in short, that instead of being extinct, they had merely retired to the fastnesses of unknown seas or continents. Jefferson quotes an observer who had heard the mammoth roaring in the Virginia woods. In Europe the bones of Ice Age elephants were ascribed to the living African species imported, so it was claimed, for Roman games. Or the bones were those of Hannibal's war elephants lost on the Alpine passes. The desired point was to make the animals historic and thus ascribable still to living species. In America, where great bones lay in profusion, it was rumored that living specimens could be found across the unknown Great Lakes or farther on in the heart of the continent. By the mid-eighteenth century the aroused pursuit of natural curiosities reveals the fascination of a public increasingly alive to foreign rarities and the new mysteries of the living world.
Peter Collinson, the Quaker merchant and naturalist in London, writes testily to John Bartram in the colonies: "If thee know anything of thy own knowledge please to communicate it. The hearsay of others can't be depended on."
Bartram in turn complains peevishly, "The French Indians have been very troublesome, which hath made traveling very dangerous beyond our (territory) where I used to find many curiosities. ... While we ... daily expect invasions we have little heart or relish for speculations in Natural History."
"Still, in spite of Indians and the depredations of pirates, the letters and the specimens made their slow way to Europe. "The frogs came safe, and lively. I transcribed thy account of them, and had it delivered to the King."
"I received the turtle in good health; and shall be much obliged to him if he will procure me a male and female bull-frog. Mine are strayed away."
"Your ingenious idea respecting the former existence of certain kinds of animals, now extinct, I confess carries great weight with it and yet, my dear Sir, I cannot implicitly give my assent to it on the whole. With regard to the unicorn I am rather divided in my judgment, even in respect to their present existence, in the interior region of Africa, of which, we are extremely ignorant."
"That all petrifactions should be attributed to the general deluge, is what I shall never agree," growls another correspondent taking a slight step toward the future.
Reading the old letters, we hear the voices mingle in a mounting symphony. "Every uncommon thing thou finds in any branch of Nature will be acceptable." "The terrapins had bad luck. Some died, others the sailors stole." "I had some doubts, so carefully examined the Ohio Elephant's long teeth with a great number ... from Asia and from Africa and found they agree with what is called the Mammot's Teeth from Siberia. It is all a wonder how they came to America ..."
Then Collinson turns to the as yet unknown teeth of the mastodon and the extinct Irish elk. "So here are two animals, the creature to which the great forked or pronged teeth belong [mastodon]. Whether they exist, God Almighty knows, -- for no man knows: whether ante-diluvians, or if in being since the flood. But it is contrary to the common course of Providence to suffer any of his creatures to be annihilated."
In Germany one ingenious escapist propounded a theory that the rocks which compose the geological strata of the earth had fallen at various times from the heavens as meteoric or planetary fragments. Thus, he contended, the unknown species of animals whose fossils had now become so troubling to the devout had no necessary connections with this earth at all. They were the remains, instead, of extraterrestrial creatures. It was a disengaging action almost two hundred years ahead of the space age, which would have been fascinated with such a notion.
We are now in position to see that the eighteenth century -- powerfully rationalistic and scientifically curious though it was -- had difficulty until toward the final decade of the century, in assimilating the idea that species could be utterly extinguished. Deism was the reigning philosophy of the times, and deism repudiated the idea that God immediately interposed his will in nature. Rather, he delegated powers to secondary causes which were self-operating.
We have seen this view expressed in the heavenly and earthly machines together. The deists, however, along with other rationalists, reposed great faith in human reason as reflecting the Divine reason. God, it was thought, could be known through nature and apart from Biblical revelation. The problem which caused such hesitation among the eighteenth-century students of animal life, therefore, was how to explain the apparent irrationality and waste involved in the discovery of extinction. Why would a supremely rational God reject and repudiate his creations? Furthermore, if such repudiation occurred, was there not danger that man himself might be swept from the stage of life?
Secondary forces as controlling the world, man had come to accept. He had passed beyond the conception of a God supernaturally intervening in mundane affairs. Nevertheless, man had continued to believe that the great machine was rationally organized with human welfare in mind -- that it was self-balanced and its aberrations self-correcting. The hint of extinction in the geological past was like a cold wind out of a dark cellar. It chilled men's souls. It brought with it doubts of the rational world men had envisaged on the basis of their own minds. It brought suspicions as to the nature of the cozy best-of-all-possible-worlds which had been created specifically for men.
A vast and shadowy history loomed in the rocks. It threatened to be a history in which man's entire destiny would lose the significance he had always attached to it. For a few decades the lost links of life might be sought as living beyond the sources of primeval Amazons and Orinocos. In the end man's vision of his world would undergo drastic revision. Out of it would emerge once more, though briefly, a renewed confidence in his position in the universe.
We havealready had occasion to observe the preference in man to interpret startling features of landscape in terms of catastrophic violence. In the years immediately following Hutton's death, the slow alteration of earth's features postulated by him and the Frenchman Lamarck gave way before the widespread popularity of the geological doctrine of catastrophism. Linked with it, there appeared a new and highly popular theory in which extinction was finally recognized by science. It was, however, explained in a manner that was pleasing to the public fancy and at least offered a compromise between science and older theological beliefs.
"At certain periods in the development of human knowledge," C. D. Broad once remarked, "it may be profitable and even essential for generations of scientists to act on a theory which is philosophically quite ridiculous." This was true in a comparatively short-lived way of catastrophism. It persuaded man to accept both death and progressive change in the universe. It did so by extending such mythological events as the world-shattering Biblical Deluge, and by the creation of a form of geological prophecy which left man still the dominant figure in his universe.
"Half a century ago," wrote the great American botanist Asa Gray, who died in 1880, "the commonly received doctrine was that the earth had been completely depopulated and repopulated over and over; and that the species which now, along with man, occupy the present surface of the earth, belong to an ultimate and independent creation, having an ideal but no genealogical connection with those that preceded. This view ... has very recently disappeared from science."
This was the philosophy which Sir Charles Lyell was destined to overthrow; this was the view propounded to young Charles Darwin by his geology professors before he went on the voyage of the Beagle. This was the concept against which Darwin dueled with Agassiz past mid century. In what lay the vitality of this weirdly irrational theory, and how did it arise? We have hinted at its appeal to human vanity in a time of growing religious confusion. To examine its roots we must turn again to the closing years of the eighteenth century and the first two decades of the nineteenth. In those years we find a growing amalgamation of new ideas as follows:
1. Cuvier and his associates, working upon the successive vertebrate faunas of the Paris basin, remarked "that none of the large species of quadrupeds whose remains are now found imbedded in regular rocky strata are at all similar to any of the known living species." Furthermore, they denied that the species concerned "are still concealed in the desert and uninhabited parts of the world."
2. Cuvier could observe no graduated changes in his vertebrate fossils. He assumed, therefore, that no intermediate forms existed between one geological level and another. That there was a progression in the complexity of the animal types from age to age as we approach the present, Cuvier had, however, begun to perceive.
3. Cuvier assumed that there were genuine breaks between one age and another brought about by catastrophic floods and alterations in the relation of sea to land. He did not, however, propose such a total break between one age and another as the later catastrophists.
4. There arose among German and French nature philosophers a renewed sense of the unity of plan or biological structure common to large groups of plants and animals -- a morphological advance also marked by the contributions of Cuvier in France and his disciple, Richard Owen, in England, The transcendental aspects of this morphology lay in the conception that these major structural plans existed abstractly in the mind of God, who altered them significantly from age to age. In the words of Adam Sedgwick, Darwin's old teacher, "At succeeding epochs, new tribes of beings were called into existence, not merely as the progeny of those that had appeared before them, but as new and living proofs of creative interference; and though formed on the same plan, and bearing the same marks of wise contrivance, oftentimes as unlike those creatures which preceded them, as if they had been matured in a different portion of the universe and cast upon the earth by the collision of another planet."
It was generally conceived that the lower and earlier forms of life pointed on directly to man, who had been ordained to appear since the time of the first creation. "It can be shown," asserted Louis Agassiz, "that in the great plan of creation ... the very commencement exhibits a certain tendency toward the end ... The constantly increasing similarity to man of the creatures successively called into existence, makes the final purpose obvious ..." The geological record was being searched for signs and portents pointing to human emergence at a later epoch. There is more than a hint of medieval "signs in the heavens" to be found in these paleontological auguries: a reptile leaving handlike imprints on some ancient sea beach is a portent of man's coming; the stride of a bipedal dinosaur discloses the eventual appearance of bipedal man.
Catastrophism, if we are to examine it in its most mature form -- that of England in the second decade of the nineteenth century -- has, as we have seen, several surprising features. The deathless Eden of the Biblical first creation has been replaced by a succession of natural but successive worlds divided from each other by floods or other violent cataclysms which absolutely exterminate the life of a particular age. Divinity then replaces the lost fauna with new forms in succeeding eras. Disconformities in geological strata, breaks in the paleontological record, are taken as signs of world-wide disaster terminating periods of calm. In contrast to eighteenth-century concern over the death of species, and anxiety to establish seemingly extinct animals as still in existence, the natural theologians now revel in violence as excessive as that of the Old Testament. Whole orders of life are swept out of existence in the great march toward man. The stage which awaits the coming of the last great drama has to be prepared. Floods destroy the earlier actors. Enormous death demands equally enormous creation, discreetly veiled in the volcanic mists that hover over this half-supernatural landscape.
From the idea that one lost link in the chain of life might cause the whole creation to vanish piecemeal, man had passed, in scarcely more than a generation, to the notion that the entire world was periodically swept clean of living things. The discoveries of vertebrate paleontology seemed to illuminate, in solitary lightning flashes, a universe that progressed in leaps amidst colossal destruction.
Still, there was a pattern amidst the chaos. For while strange animals arose and perished, it was observed that the great patterns of life, the divine blueprints, one might say, persisted from one age to another. It was only the individual species or genera that vanished and each time were repeated in an altered pattern. There was no natural connection, no phylogeny of descent in a modern sense. There was only the Platonic ideal of pure substanceless form existing in the mind of God. The reality of material descent escaped the mind of the observer.
The public concentrated less upon living animals adjusting to circumstance than upon this strange spiritual drama which the natural theologians had read into the rocks. Two steps in the direction of naturalism had been gained, however. First, the world of the past was now known to have cherished plants and animals no longer to be observed among the living. Second, thanks largely to the pioneer efforts of William Smith of England, who had once caustically remarked to critics that "the search for a fossil may be considered at least as rational as the pursuit of a hare," it was known that fossils could be used to identify distinct strata.
Smith had recognized the changes in invertebrate fossils from one geological level to another. Cuvier's observations upon vertebrate remains had similarly, if more dramatically, established a type of grand progressive movement among the vertebrates. Life did not return upon its track. The record in the book of stone showed no reversals. Life, in other words, was a historic progression in which the past died totally. But the goal was finalistic -- it was man. Even coal forests had been laid down for his use. At times it seemed that the earlier creation existed only as some kind of phylogenetic portent of man.
Catastrophism, in essence, may be said to have died of common sense. As a modern historian, Charles Gillispie, has commented, "To imagine the Divine Craftsman as forever fiddling with His materials, forever so dissatisfied with one creation of rocks or animals that He wiped it out in order to try something else, was to invest Him with mankind's attributes instead of the other way about."
Slowly the accumulation of geological information began to lead back toward the pathway pursued earlier by James Hutton and his follower, John Playfair. Sir Charles Lyell, who was born the year of Hutton's death, reapproached the whole subject of uniformitarian geology in his famous Principles of Geology, whose first volume was published in 1830. In the intervening half century, much additional information had become available. Lyell was a careful organizer of facts, a man of judicious temperament and an independent thinker. He, like Hutton, had an eye for the common observable workings of sunshine and water drops. In fact, he was one of the first to read in fossil impressions that the raindrops of the past were similar to those of the present, that the eyes of fossil trilobites showed light falling upon the earth many millions of years ago as it falls today. He saw no evidence of world-wide catastrophes. He observed, instead, local disconformities of strata, the rise and fall of coast lines, the slow upthrust of mountain systems. He saw time as illimitable, in the fashion of Hutton.
Moreover, Lyell attempted statistical estimates of the change in molluscan species as one passed from one distinct bed to another. He observed that certain organisms persisted -- though in changed proportions. He could not discover the drastic and sudden eliminations of fauna upon which the catastrophists had built their case. As work progressed, more and more of what were termed "passage beds" appeared -- strata linking one supposedly separate era with another. Local sequences of this sort began to make clear the essential unity of earth's geological history. By degrees Lyell's more vociferous opponents grew silent. In that silence one thing was clearly apparent. What we might call point-extinction, i.e., extinction of the individual species, had replaced the concept of mass death. Death, in other words, was becoming natural -- a product of the struggle for existence.
Lyell observed that the long course of geological change was bound to affect the life upon the planet's surface. He saw that every living creature competed for living space and that every change of season, every shift of shore line, gave advantages to some forms of life and restricted space available to others. Over great periods of time it was inevitable that some species would slowly suffer a reduction in numbers and, by degrees, perish, to be replaced by others.
This incredibly tight and complicated web of life would, Lyell thought, eliminate immediately any newly emerging creatures which might be evolving through natural means. Yet if, as the geological record indicated, species perish, somewhere there must be creation, somewhere there must be a coming in to replace the deficit involved in extinction.
Lyell hesitated. Could there be individual point-emergences as well as vanishings? No one professed to have seen the creation oŁ a complex animal. Was it because so rare a thing was simply not normally observable?
Lyell had inherited from Hutton a distaste for the unseen. He preferred to work with visible, understandable forces susceptible of observation. He did not like catastrophism with its spectacular and unobservable creations any more than he liked its flamboyant geological mechanisms. As early as 1829 he had written privately, "We shall very soon solve the grand problem, whether the various living organic species came into being gradually and singly in insulated spots, or centers of creation, or in various places at once, and all at the same time. The latter cannot, I am already persuaded, be maintained."
Try as he might, Lyell could find no satisfactory explanation for the advances in biological organization which the catastrophists acclaimed. To admit them was to accept miracle -- the unknown. To accord them acceptance was equivalent to geological capitulation also -- it was, in effect, to say: "I cannot explain your mysterious and advancing creation of life, therefore if life is miraculous, your interpretation of geological forces may just as well be accepted in the same fashion."
At this Lyell balked -- not always consistently. He pointed out that the geological record was incomplete. He contended that the discovery of vertebrates in older deposits than they were originally assumed to characterize was a sign of nonprogression, that the serial advances recorded by the progressionist-catastrophist school were largely in error.
Faunas might shift with time and geography, Lyell warned, but this might not involve necessary progression through the vertical realm of geology. Only man Lyell admitted to be young, The extinct forms amidst the great phyla could be accepted without the argument that there was a common, necessary upward trend in creation culminating in man.
Up to the time of the publication of the Origin of Species, Lyell was suffering from the lack of a satisfactory explanation of organic change. He had overthrown the extinction-in-mass conception of the catastrophists; he had reintroduced into geology the lengthier time span of Hutton, and Hutton's devotion to purely natural forces. It was, however, difficult to see how those forces applied to the single great mystery -- life.
Lyell stood, actually, at the verge of Darwin's discovery. He was, however, within the shadow of another century -- the eighteenth. He shared its passion for intellectual order, for the obedient and unmysterious world machine. Hutton had taken life for granted because almost nothing was known in his day of the antediluvian world of fossils. Lyell, by contrast, was confronted by a perverse, unexplainable force that crawled and changed through the strata -- life. He made death natural, but it could be said that life defeated his efforts to understand it. With all their errors, the catastrophists had been right about one thing. From its early beginnings in the seas, life had been journeying and growing in complexity. It is historic.
All the way back into Cambrian time we know that sunlight fell, as it falls now, upon this planet. As Lyell taught, we can tell this by the eyes of fossil sea creatures such as the trilobites. We know that rain fell, as it falls now, upon wet beaches that had never known the step of man. We can read the scampering imprints of the raindrops upon the wet mud that has long since turned to stone. We can view the ripple marks in the sands of vanished coves. In all that time the ways of the inanimate world have not altered; storms and wind, sun and frost, have worked slowly upon the landscape. Mountains have risen and worn down, coast lines have altered. All that world has been the product of blind force and counterforce, the grinding of ice over stone, the pounding of pebbles in the mountain torrents -- a workshop of a thousand hammers and shooting sparks in which no conscious hand was ever visible, today or yesterday.
Yet into this world of the machine -- this mechanical disturbance surrounded by desert silences -- a ghost has come, a ghost whose step must have been as light and imperceptible as the first scurry of a mouse in Cheops' tomb. Musing over the Archean strata, one can hear and see it in the subcellars of the mind itself, a little green in a fulminating spring, some strange objects floundering and helpless in the ooze on the tide line, something beating, beating, like a heart until a mounting thunder goes up through the towering strata, until no drum that ever was can produce its rhythm, until no mind can contain it, until it rises, wet and seaweed-crowned, an apparition from marsh and tide pool, gross with matter, gurgling and inarticulate, ape and man-ape, grisly and fang-scarred, until the thunder is in oneself and is passing -- to the ages beyond -- to a world unknown, yet forever being born.
"It is carbon," says one, as the music fades within his ear. "It is done with the amino acids," contributes another. "It rots and ebbs into the ground," growls a realist. "It began in the mud," criticizes a dreamer. "It endures pain," cries a sufferer. "It is evil," sighs a man of many disillusionments.
Since the first human eye saw a leaf in Devonian sandstone and a puzzled finger reached to touch it, sadness has lain over the heart of man. By this tenuous thread of living protoplasm, stretching backward into time, we are linked forever to lost beaches whose sands have long since hardened into stone. The stars that caught our blind amphibian stare have shifted far or vanished in their courses, but still that naked, glistening thread winds onward. No one knows the secret of its beginning or its end. Its forms are phantoms. The thread alone is real; the thread is life.
"Nevertheless, there is a goal," we seek to console ourselves. "The thread is there, the thread runs to a goal." But the thread has run a tangled maze. There are strange turns in its history, loops and knots and constrictions. Today the dead beasts decorate the halls of our museums, and that nature of which men spoke so trustingly is known to have created a multitude of forms before the present, played with them, building armor and strange reptilian pleasures, only to let them pass like discarded toys on a playroom floor. Nevertheless, the thread of life ran onward, so that if you look closely you can see the singing reptile in the bird, or some ancient amphibian fondness for the ooze where the child wades in the mud.
One thing alone life does not appear to do; it never brings back the past. Unlike lifeless matter, it is historical. It seems to have had a single point of origin and to be traveling in a totally unique fashion in the time dimension. That life was ever a fixed chain without movement was a human illusion; that it leaped as some mystical abstraction from one giant scene of death to another was also an illusion; that geological prophecy proclaimed the coming of man as Elizabethan astrologers read in the heavens the signs of coming events for kings was an even greater fantasy. Instead, species died irregularly like individual men over the long and scattered waste of eons. And as they died they must, as Lyell foresaw, be replaced in as scattered a fashion as their deaths. But what was the secret? Did a voice speak once in a hundred years in some hidden wood so that a nocturnal flower bloomed, or something new and furry ran away into the dark?
Creation and its mystery could no longer be safely relegated to the past behind us. It might now reveal itself to man at any moment in a farmer's pasture, or a willow thicket. By the comprehension of death man was beginning to glimpse another secret. The common day had turned marvelous. Creation -- whether seen or unseen -- must be even now about us everywhere in the prosaic world of the present.
1. Anonymous, "On
Systems and Methods In Natural History," The Quarterly Review (London),
Vol. 41 (1829) , p. 307. On the basis of interior evidence I am inclined
to suspect that this paper is a youthful and unacknowledged review by Sir Charles Lyell.