The publishers’ acknowledgments are due to Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., for permission to use “America and the Old World,” by L. Agassiz; to Messrs. D.C. Heath & Co. for permission to use “Some Records of the Rocks,” by Professor N.S. Shaler; and to Professor E.S. Holden for permission to use “What is Evolution?” and “An Astronomer’s Voyage to Fairy Land.”
A Geyser. Frontispiece, See Page 47
View in A Canon Face Page 12
A volcano 48
A stalagmite cave 116
Where sponges grow 208
A comet 254
The spectre of the brocken 272
AND ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FOUR BLACK AND WHITE ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT.
By Edward S. Holden, M.A., Sc.D. LL.D.
The Earth, the Sea, the Sky, and their wonders—these are the themes of this volume. The volume is so small, and the theme so vast! Men have lived on the earth for hundreds of the sands of years; and its wonders have increased, not diminished, with their experience.
To our barbarous ancestors of centuries ago, all was mystery—the thunder, the rainbow, the growing corn, the ocean, the stars. Gradually and by slow steps they learned to house themselves in trees, in caves, in huts, in houses; to find a sure supply of food; to provide a stock of serviceable clothing. The arts of life were born; tools were invented; the priceless boon of fire was received; tribes and clans united for defence; some measure of security and comfort was attained.
With security and comfort came leisure; and the mind of early Man began curiously to inquire the meaning of the mysteries with which he was surrounded. That curious inquiry was the birth of Science. Art was born when some far-away ancestor, in an idle hour, scratched on a bone the drawing of two of his reindeer fighting, or carved on the walls of his cave the image of the mammoth that he had but lately slain with his spear and arrows.
In a mind that is completely ignorant there is no wonder. Wonder is the child of knowledge—of partial and imperfect knowledge, to be sure, but still, of knowledge. The very first step in Science is to make an inventory of external Nature (and by and by of the faculties of the mind that thinks). The second step is to catalogue similar appearances together. It is a much higher flight to seek the causes of likenesses thus discovered.
A few of the chapters of this volume are items in a mere catalogue of wonders, and deserve their place by accurate and eloquent description. Most of them, however, represent higher stages of insight. In the latter, Nature is viewed not only with the eye of the observer, but also with the mind’s eye, curious to discover the reasons for things seen. The most penetrating inward inquiry accompanies the acutest external observation in such chapters as those of Darwin and Huxley, here reprinted.