Author: T.H. (Thomas Henry) Huxley
Release Date: March 4, 2005 [EBook #15253]
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T.H. Huxley, F.R.S.
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
[Sidenote: Recent industrial progress]
The most obvious and the most distinctive features of the History of Civilisation, during the last fifty years, is the wonderful increase of industrial production by the application of machinery, the improvement of old technical processes and the invention of new ones, accompanied by an even more remarkable development of old and new means of locomotion and intercommunication. By this rapid and vast multiplication of the commodities and conveniences of existence, the general standard of comfort has been raised, the ravages of pestilence and famine have been checked, and the natural obstacles, which time and space offer to mutual intercourse, have been reduced in a manner, and to an extent, unknown to former ages. The diminution or removal of local ignorance and prejudice, the creation of common interests among the most widely separated peoples, and the strengthening of the forces of the organisation of the commonwealth against those of political or social anarchy, thus effected, have exerted an influence on the present and future fortunes of mankind the full significance of which may be divined, but cannot, as yet, be estimated at its full value.
[Sidenote: caused by the increase of physical science]
This revolution—for it is nothing less—in the political and social aspects of modern civilisation has been preceded, accompanied, and in great measure caused, by a less obvious, but no less marvellous, increase of natural knowledge, and especially of that part of it which is known as Physical Science, in consequence of the application of scientific method to the investigation of the phenomena of the material world. Not that the growth of physical science is an exclusive prerogative of the Victorian age. Its present strength and volume merely indicate the highest level of a stream which took its rise, alongside of the primal founts of Philosophy, Literature, and Art, in ancient Greece; and, after being dammed up for a thousand years, once more began to flow three centuries ago.